Archive for April, 2007

Damn You, Inspector Number 9!

Bought a new shirt yesterday. When I put it on this morning, I gave it the once-over after I pulled off the tag and the sticker, because inevitably, I’ll walk around all day with something on my back like it was some manufacturer’s version of a “kick me” sign.

I found nothing, until I was sitting on the couch tonight and glanced at my left sleeve. And there it was: A red and white sticker with the number 9 on it.

And suddenly, and even though all that was to my rear was my living room wall, I could hear people snickering behind me. I’m expecting a boot to the butt any moment.

Human Nature

This is probably the only thing you’ll see me say publicly about the Virginia Tech shootings, mainly because I feel too strongly about things like this to be able to form coherent words in relation to it.

But I have to say something about the press and their incessant need to find the underlying cause of things. They’ve been interviewing the roommates of this shooter, people who knew him, trying to find a link between thirty-two people dying and violent video games, but mostly, they’re trying to find meaning behind why the shooting happened.

Well, news outlets, I’m going to share a little secret with you: You’ll never find meaning behind this. You know why? There isn’t any. Why isn’t there any?

Because the guy was fucking crazy.

That’s all there is to it. You can try all you want to find out why the guy was fucking crazy, but in the end, he was fucking crazy and that’s all you’ll ever get out of it.

Now I know that the news outlets would never listen to the voice of reason, but in the interest of satisfying my own need to, well, be the voice of reason: Please, for the love of God, stop dwelling on this and let the poor distraught families of the victims grieve for the loss of their children.

The Crux of the Issue

I was watching last night’s episode of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” and while he was interviewing Sheryl Crow and “An Inconvenient Truth” producer Laurie David about their ‘Stop Global Warming’ college tour, he made a comment that absolutely, perfectly illustrated what the real problem with the planet is. And it went like this:

If people tomorrow were told, Americans were told, that you can solve global warming if you just don’t use the remote to your television, what do you think they would say if they had to go back to getting their ass off the couch? Do you think they would solve global warming by throwing the remote in the garbage or do you think they would go, Aw, fuck it?

Like everything else nowadays, the important issues only seem to remain important to the general public as long as it isn’t too, well, inconvenient. The crux of the issue is, as Maher stated, that ultimately we aren’t willing to give up our creature comforts.

And really, how more right could he have been? If we could end world hunger by not ever having another latté from Starbucks, how many people would be willing to do that? Hell, if it were something like that, even I would give pause.

When it really boils down to it, saving the world is going to rely on us sacrificing certain things. But how can we do any of it when we can’t even do the trivial stuff—let alone the monumental stuff?

Deep down, we all want to be House.

Something occurred to me while watching an episode of House M.D. I think that the reason that this show is so popular is because deep down, everybody longs to be able to do what House does: we all would love to be able to speak our minds without thought as to what the reaction would be. Or perhaps with that in mind and yet not caring.

This isn’t much of a stretch to figure out, really. It’s quite obvious that this is why the character of House is so appealing. It’s not his looks or his limp that does it (well, maybe, for a select few), and it’s not his caustic personality. It’s simply that he knows he doesn’t have to worry about whether people are going to be offended by what he says, and while I personally think that the character acts the way he does to intentionally get those reactions out of people, the end result is the same: always to the point and intensely direct.

Part of me thinks that the world would be better off if we were all a little more like House. We would always speak our minds and be direct, and nobody would have to read into subtext anymore. But the other part of me knows that this is Real Life and that people in Real Life are wimps and have skins that are far too thin. I think that the funny thing about it is the fact that even if people were being truly direct, other people would still try to read between the lines to see what they really meant.

But is diplomacy really any better? What benefit is there in delicately tailoring every word so as to remain PC at all times? I’m reminded of George Carlin’s bit called “Euphemisms,” in which he makes a comment about how the direct and up-front title “shell shock” turned into the pansy-ass PC illness called “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” All of the emotion gets taken out of it:

There’s a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It’s when a fighting person’s nervous system has been stressed to it’s absolute peak and maximum. Can’t take anymore input. The nervous system has either *click* snapped or is about to snap. In the first world war, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago.

Then a whole generation went by and the second world war came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn’t seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue.

Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, were up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It’s totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car.

Then of course, came the war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it’s no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we’ve added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder.

I’ll bet you if we’d have still been calling it shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time.

Probably not a huge surprise here, but I think he’s right. At what point do we stop being direct in order to sound, well, nicer? And isn’t it not okay that we do this?

Maybe we don’t all need to be like House, but maybe a step or two in that direction wouldn’t be so bad, either.

On Migraines and Bright Lights

I’ve had headaches all my life. That’s not saying much, as lots of people get headaches, except for the fact that based on the descriptions (and what my stepfather has told me about them), mine are all migraines. Though not always severe, they’re almost always localized to a pretty specific spot on one side or the other of my head, sometimes both and usually centered around a temple. It hasn’t ever really been much of an issue; most of the time if I take something, it goes away or at least lessens to the point where I really don’t notice it.

I know that some people have absolutely debilitating migraines. I don’t happen to be one of those people, so I consider myself lucky. I had a friend who a couple weeks ago woke up one morning and was half blind in his left eye; after trucking himself to the Emergency Room he was told that he had an “ocular migraine”, which meant that it was affecting his vision without giving him a headache. I, personally, never experienced a headache that was affected by vision.

Until last week, that is.

I had a fairly standard headache, sitting somewhere around my left temple, and apart from the throbbing, it was something that I could fight through. I took some Advil when it got worse, but didn’t really think much of it, until I went to the kitchen to get a drink of water.

The blinds in the office windows were all open because it was a gorgeous day out, and the sun happened to be at just the right angle to reflect off all the cars in the parking lot. Right into the window. And into my eyes.

And I swear to all that is holy, the inside of my head screamed. Actually screamed. I’m not kidding, I actually heard a noise. My headache flared up so quickly that I almost had to sit down for a minute.

Here’s hoping that I never have to go through that again. I’d take a hundred mild headaches in a row in comparison to that one flare-up.

Spielberg For The Win.

I don’t consider myself to be especially brave, courageous or dedicated. And in general, I’m pretty disappointed with my government. But there are certain times when I feel really, deeply proud to live in the U.S.

Saving Private Ryan was just on one of the movie channels, and I have to say, when I watch the end of that movie, that’s one of those times. That movie never ceases to provide an opportunity to turn on the waterworks.

I know that this is just a bullshit post, and I do have the intention on writing some meaningful stuff in the near future, but lately I just haven’t felt very motivated.

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