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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

It's God's Water

In Praise of Darwin

I stopped arguing about religion quite some time ago. I stopped thinking about God when I was about seven or eight years old. It seemed pretty pointless back then and even more so now. Death seems to be a particularly insignificant issue to consider in anything other than practical terms. Everyone dies and we don’t know anything that happens afterward. Get over it.

I don’t see how a lifetime of religious education makes someone more qualified to discuss something that cannot be proved. If you get the Pope, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Billy Graham, 20 esteemed rabbis, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir together to discuss religion, the result wouldn’t be any more profound for me than listening to the stoned teenagers in Super Troopers talk about who owns the water. “You can’t own the water…it’s God’s water.” Well put, your Excellency. I don’t think the Ayatollah could have said it any better.

There are dozens and dozens of creation and salvation myths out there all vying to dominate one culture or another, or one culture over another. The Enlightenment was so named because it was thought that mankind could finally accept the light of more rational explanations for the world around him instead of relying on the tyranny of church teachings. Hundreds of years later the Enlightenment looks like a single match flickering weakly in a drafty cave. Most of the world’s established religions would love nothing more than to snuff out that dull flame and let man continue in ignorance and superstition.

The science of evolution has been caught in the crosshairs of this battle of superstitions going on in America (and only in America). I like to start at the source of these arguments, so I recently read Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. What struck me about Darwin was his insatiable curiosity. I doubt that he ever came across a single object that he didn’t measure, weigh, probe, dissect, and document. He had an unyielding lust for answers. You would find it difficult to name a single scientist who brought man more of an understanding of the world than Darwin. He has been called the Newton of biology.. It is criminal that American Christianity is trying to refute a century and a half of Darwin’s scientific legacy simply because they find his work threatening to their absurd creation myths.

The people who oppose the teaching of evolution seem to be pulling America towards some sort of Amish mentality—a culture that rejects most of modern science and technology. Most of this anti-intellectual crusade against evolution has been orchestrated by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. I don’t understand what could possibly explain their motivations for pushing America back into the medieval era. They single-handedly fabricated the “intelligent design theory” which is anything but intelligent or a theory. If this sort of doggerel is taught in schools, it can only come at the expense of true scholarship and learning. Intelligent design just sounds like corporate-sponsored stoner talk to me.

As a lay person, I find that the study of evolution has been a constant source of marvel over the course of my adult life. I can’t remember the subject even coming up in high school, and my college career in biology consisted of a couple of required classes. Like most of what I know, I am self-taught in the field of evolution. I am indebted to the works of Stephen Gould and Robert Leakey, among many others.

It isn’t possible to have even the smallest knowledge of birds without being overwhelmed by their ability to adapt to their environment. Darwin raised pigeons and studied them endlessly. Jared Diamond, who has revolutionized the study of human cultural development, began his career studying the evolutionary patterns of birds. If you want to believe that this is all part of God’s plan, I don’t have a conflict with that. Just don’t try to teach your superstitions in our public schools. Let’s teach our kids the basics and let them make their own decisions on all of the creation and afterlife myths. Instead of intelligent design, let’s teach our kids more about birds.

Friday, August 26, 2005

My Favorite Things

The best thing about this war in Iraq is that it will be around for our grandchildren to enjoy. I don’t have any children yet, but I don’t think there is any hurry. As long as people can build cars that explode and blow the living shit out of everything within 50 yards, and there are American soldiers to act as human targets for Muslims fanatics who never get laid, there should be a war in Iraq. And please remember, our soldiers are volunteers so you shouldn’t worry if they get blown up. Have you ever heard of the 30 Years War? Well, this is America and we do everything bigger, better, and longer than anyone else.

The second best thing about the war in Iraq is that whenever we need to we can change the reason we went over there in the first place. Before the invasion no one said a damn thing about bringing democracy to Iraq. I’ll bet you that the average American couldn’t have given two shits about democracy in Iraq back then. Back then it was all about—remember this?—WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. They were supposed to be everywhere in Iraq. WMDs were to Iraq what watches are to Switzerland if you believed our president and his business cronies. It doesn’t even matter why the fuck we are over there because our president has resolve, and as soon as we figure out why we are there, we will work resolutely to get it done. Maybe we should hold a high school essay contest in which students get to compete to give our reason for the war this week. We should write this week’s reason on a chalkboard in front of the White House.

My third favorite thing about this war is that all of the assholes who have screamed the loudest in its favor are all about as far from a battlefield or a recruiting office as you can get. I think some of the neo-con pro-war people have actually been hiding under the covers for the past few years. I really admire these people because if I ran around all day screaming about how this war is so vital for America’s security, and then I was too much of a fucking coward to join the military and help fight it, I would crawl into an open sewer and die of my own shame. Not these folks, there are too busy questioning the patriotism of people who think that, just maybe, this war was a tremendous mistake. I wish that I knew how these guys do it because it would really come in handy if I ever do anything that I am totally ashamed of and I want to look another human being in the eye again.

The monetary cost of the war ranks right up there among my favorite things. Sure, it’s meant that we will have to mortgage the future of our country, we’ll have to dismantle our social welfare and educational systems to pay for it, but for whatever reason we are fighting and getting blown apart in Iraq, I think we can all agree that it is worth every penny. I wonder if there is any truth to the rumor that we are building a pipeline to Iraq so that we can pump money directly into the desert. Maybe we could fill the space shuttle with money and crash it into Iraq? We need to put America’s best minds to the task of figuring out the most efficient way to spend horrific amounts of money on the war.

What I really love about the war is how, in the beginning, not one single right-wing shit bag pundit predicted how badly the war would go, yet every left leaning moron in the country said that things would soon go to hell over there. I love how the right-wing shit bags throw about three kinds of seizures whenever anyone tries to compare Iraq to Viet Nam. They do have a point. Viet Nam will look like America’s greatest foreign policy success compared to Iraq when everything is said and done, so don’t go comparing the two.

Another great thing about the war—and I think we can all agree on this—is that it has pointed out to us what a complete joke our intelligence community is in this country. They have either got everything completely wrong, or they have manufactured false evidence, or they were used for political purposes, or they have been grotesquely incompetent. That is a good thing to know and all it took was this little war to bring all this out into the open. Hey CIA! ¿Donde está Osama Bin Laden? Do you remember that guy? Where in the fuck is he? Did we just give up on him? Do we have “bigger fish to fry?” Because I’m thinking he’s a pretty big fish and he should be fried, but what does a faggot peacenik like me know?

I have to stop thinking about all of the great things about this war or I’m going to become completely overcome by patriotism and do something drastic, like go out and buy a “Support our Troops” magnet for my car.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Harmless Entertainment for the Masses

Since I don’t have the opportunity to do it at home, whenever I’m in a motel room I scan through the cable TV offerings. You could say that I am taking the pulse of America; I would say that I’m zoning out in front of the TV. Even though I get little chance to watch TV, I can tell you exactly what will be showing. TV is a ritual, and the comfort in rituals is that they are static. This is why there is so little on television that is truly creative, because with creativity comes change, and change is the last thing people look for on TV. Anything different or changing scares the living shit out of most people. Anything outside the norm people find threatening.

The most static of all static rituals in the lives of Americans is religion. If ever there was a place to find the comfort of unchanging ritual, it is in religion. I found that there are two networks devoted entirely to religious programming. On the other side of the spectrum, I found a station that airs professional wrestling nonstop. I didn’t have to go back and forth many times to see a lot of uncanny and creepy parallels.

I couldn’t say between the wrestlers and the preachers who have the worst haircuts. Both groups probably spend more on their hair every week than their average constituent makes working at Wal-Mart. Maybe they all go to the same beauty parlor together. As far as the women of wrestling and religious programming are concerned, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone less tasteful. The amount of fake boobs and horrendous jewelry are about equal. The religious gals are a bit older, but if it ever came down to a gang fight, the safe money would be on the old broads. They probably wouldn’t know a fair fight if one tried to bite their ears off.

Preachers and wrestlers seem to have both graduated from the same school of public speaking. Their in-your-face style is identical. The tone, cadence, and volume of both groups are identical. They both employ a style of speaking that is grotesquely over-the-top dramatic and heavily steeped in mythology. If you didn’t speak English and you listened to both groups, you probably couldn’t tell which one had the message of eternal salvation and who was talking about smashing some punk’s head into the turnbuckle.

Both wrestling and the religious programs have fanatical live audiences. They looked to be entirely interchangeable. The religious people looked better dressed, but I’m sure that the wrestling hicks get cleaned up once in a while. Both groups show fanatical loyalty to their hosts. The most important intersection of these two groups is that their primary objective is entertainment. In this, the pseudo-blood sport and Jesus are partners, a ratings tag team.

I only tuned in for a few minutes and I heard two preachers bad-mouthing evolution. The Catholic Church has also been doing an about-face on its position on science. This is where religion and wrestling take separate paths. I found nothing outwardly anti-intellectual in wrestling’s secular message. No one at Wrestlemania advocated the assassination of a popularly-elected leader of a sovereign nation. If you are looking for entertainment, smart people avoid religion and stick to cage matches.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's a Wonderful Life?

I came close to throwing myself off a bridge yesterday. In a fit of despair and exasperation I decided to end it all. I saw no point in going on with the charade, nay, the lie that was my life up until that point. I actually did jump off a bridge, but it was only about twenty feet to the water below, and since it was a hot day I found the experience refreshing enough to do over and over again until I got hungry, so I gave up on the ending-it-all scheme for the day and went and had a sandwich and a beer.

I woke this morning with the usual existential dread that has plagued me over the course of a meandering life seemingly devoid of purpose. I thought of returning to the same bridge. I wanted to try to do a one-and-a-half, but instead I thought that it was high time to put an end to this cruel joke of a life. This time I found a really high bridge. I figured that I could do a ten-and-a-half off this sucker. Not a bad way to go out, if I do say so myself. I finally found myself at peace with myself as I stood balancing on the top rail.

Just as I stepped into the abyss I felt myself transported into another dimension. I felt like I was in a dream. The angel Gabriel stood over me and asked me why I would want to end my life. I was hysterical; I told him that my existence meant nothing; I would not be missed; I would not be remembered. The angel Gabriel bitch slapped me. Then he began to lay into me with a flurry of punches and kicks. I screamed out to him, “OK, I get it. Knock off the hysterics.” I preferred my idea of throwing myself off a bridge to getting beaten to death by one of the Lord’s thugs.

Gabriel told me that my life was important. It was important to a lot of people. He then demonstrated this to me by showing what the world would have been like had I never been born.

First we visited the ski chalet of the CEO of Ketel One vodka in Davos, Switzerland. “Had you never been born, Ketel One vodka sales would have been mediocre, at best. Their CEO would never have been able to afford this 6br/5bath chalet. He would have been forced to keep his 2br/3bath condo. Could you live with the shame he would have had to endure?”

He transported me to many places and showed me that things would have been different had I not lived a life of excess and complete selfishness. I saw pig farmers unable to send their children to Harvard because I wasn’t there buying my weight in pork products week after week. Entire cheese producing regions in France reduced to crippling poverty. Next we visited an abandoned cigar plantation in the Dominican Republic. He was about to take me to a marijuana dealer I had supported single-handedly while living in the dorm in college, and then on to the home of the editor of Jugs magazine who had been reduced to doing wedding photography. I told Gabriel that I got the fucking point. Enough of the life-affirming bullshit already, it was starting to get embarrassing.

The angel Gabriel took off and then I found myself in a no-holds-barred cage fighting match against a beaver dressed in a drum majorette’s uniform. These sorts of bizarre dreams are common while in a morphine-induced haze. As it turns out, I really did jump off that bridge this morning. I hit a steel girder about twenty feet below and now I’m in the intensive care unit. It’s great to be alive!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Brother, Can You Spare a Q-Tip?

I’m not “paying it forward.” I wouldn’t call them random acts of kindness. If I had to call them anything, I would call them random acts of bizarre, head-scratching, “what the fuck?” I do them more to entertain myself than to spread goodwill, but I suppose that there is a bit of generosity involved. I do believe in helping those less fortunate, there are many charities I support, I think global and act local, it’s just that sometimes my generosity takes strange forms. Let me explain.

I was driving out of town last week to go mountain biking. I had a bad case of swimmer’s ear and I was already too far from home to turn back. I needed a Q-Tip or I was going to go crazy. You can only stick your finger so far into your ear, especially when you are driving. I pulled into a Quickie-Mart in downtown Seattle just before the freeway entrance. The only Q-Tips they had were the huge 300 count size and all I needed was one lousy Q-Tip. At that point I would have paid $100 for a single Q-Tip, so I bought the big box and headed back to my car. There was a panhandler just outside the door to the Quickie-Mart asking for spare change. Instead of money, I gave him 299 Q-Tips and continued on my way.

There is a 24-hour grocery store near my apartment that seems to have a panhandler stationed in front of it 24 hours a day. I never give the on-duty panhandler money, but I almost always pull some random item out of my bag and offer it up. It may be a piece of fruit, or a Power Bar, or a thing of yogurt, or a bottle of beer, or perhaps an entire roasted chicken if they look really hungry.

I feel that “homeless” is an over-used euphemism for problems that go way beyond not having a home. Panhandlers represent a wide variety of issues that may or may not have a solution. I think that the city of Seattle does quite a lot for those individuals who are homeless. I support local homeless shelters, but I think that my “give a bum a piece of chicken” program is also a good idea, and because I don’t think that you can sell an opened box of Q-Tips, I would like to think that because of my actions there is a group of crack heads out there with clean ears. I would like to think that somewhere out there a panhandler is a little more regular because of the bananas I gave him.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Tattoos for Big Thinkers

I decided that I wanted a tattoo on my chest. I decided to be just like everyone else in America and do something different. I decided to be an individual and get some skin art, like about 99% of the population. I realize that tattoos are very daring; they really set you off from the crowd, unless you happen actually to be in a crowd, because you will then notice that everyone has one.

I thought about my tattoo for quite some time. I don’t know exactly how much time I thought about it, but it was from happy hour until closing time. I drank cheap beer to aid my inspiration for my tattoo—the most white trash of our very trashy social customs. Here are some of my terrifically original ideas for tattoos: barbed wire, a yin and yang symbol, a peace sign, a skull, a sun, and a dolphin. I couldn’t think of any more tattoo designs so I sat in the coffee shop and checked out the hipsters as they filed in. OK, how about a crucifix, a moon, various cartoons characters, Chinese characters that could mean “drink Pepsi” for all we know, and a lot of other designs that probably have personal meaning, but to the untrained eye look like unsightly birth marks?

In the end I decided on a historical theme. I decided to get the Battle of Trafalgar tattooed across my chest. I have the entire British fleet descending upon the French ships in the Atlantic off the Spanish coast. Along with the tattoo artist, I also had present two professors while the work was being done to insure historical accuracy. The artwork is so good that you can almost hear the boom of cannons and the crack of muskets. He ran out of room on my chest so he continued the sea battle on my back and then down the back of my legs. Not until he reached the bottom of my left foot did he get to the sad conclusion of Admiral Nelson succumbing to a sniper’s bullet on the deck of his ship, the Victory.

I guess that I don’t have to say that my tattoo gets me a lot of attention. I strip down to my boxers and pose for grade school history classes. In bars I get probed and examined like a good book while groups of drunken Brits sing “God Save the Queen.” I soon grew tired of the novelty and I had the Battle of Trafalgar erased through laser surgery and I replaced it with a tattoo of the Mau-Mau uprising. That one proved to be a little too controversial. In another bar, a fight broke out and I got hit with a spear in the middle of the back. I scratched that one off and replaced it with a depiction of the French World Cup soccer victory in 1998. That one doesn’t go over so well when I travel to football-crazed countries like Brazil or Italy.

Another laser surgery and another tattoo later and I had a beautiful display of the destruction of Pompeii. Then I got the idea to start a sort of revolving exhibit of historical skin art. Some future ideas are the defeat of the Inca Atahualpa at Cajamarca, the death of Magellan in the Philippines, the first lunar landing, the Great Northern Railroad strike, the Fall of Rome in six parts, the trial of Socrates, the last episode of M*A*S*H, the Scopes Monkey Trial, the stock market crash of 1929, the assassination of Lincoln in Ford’s Theater, the supreme court ruling on Roe vs. Wade, Lou Gehrig’s speech upon retiring from baseball…

Monday, August 08, 2005

About Those Advertisements in Golf Magazine

Why Grandpa Has a Boner

There is an ad for a dick hardening drug on TV that depicts a happy older couple walking along a romantic beach. The imagery is fairly obvious: Gushing surf and rigid mountain peaks. They want to leave things to your imagination, but they don’t want your imagination to wander too far from the subject at hand. The message they want to leave you with is that if you take their product, you’ll be smashing that granite spire into a pile of gravel; you’ll be flowing like Hawaiian surf. At the bottom there is a line that says, “See our ad in Golf Magazine.”

Let me just say that there is nothing funny about erectile dysfunction—nothing at all. There is something funny about, “See our ad in Golf Magazine.” They didn’t say to see their ad in The New Yorker, or Harper’s, or Road and Track, or Guns and Ammo. They said to see their ad in Golf Magazine. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. I’ll let you use your imagination. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Take your time.

There’s no hurry.

OK, did you come to the same conclusions as I? I came to two conclusions. Either golfers have the most flaccid putters around, or golfers are the only demographic which has the disposable income necessary for dick hardening drugs. If my dick didn’t work, I’d want to walk around hitting something with a steel club, too. If I had erectile difficulties, I’d also want to be able to afford medication. I’d want enough money to afford a transplant, if necessary.

I hate to sound like a broken record on this subject, but I can’t help but think of the implications these male fertility products may have on human evolutionary projection. What will it mean for our species when a heretofore irrelevant element—impotent older men—suddenly begins to contribute to the gene pool? Will these men produce impotent offspring? Will their sons be prone to lie about their handicaps, both on and off the course? As it turns out, the pharmaceutical companies are way ahead of me on this point. They have already begun marketing Viagra for Teens® which comes in four different flavors.

Erectile dysfunction drugs also open up a series of ethical questions. Is it cheating to use Viagra if you are a male porn star? As straight and narrow as the porn industry may be, can we rely on them to self-regulate their industry and require drug testing for their employees? Are we willing to sit back and let our beloved porn industry become as sleazy and drug-dependent as professional football and baseball?

Then we need to examine what the long-term use of these drugs has on the health of patients. Doctors are just now seeing cases of a condition known as “Viagra Frostbite.” Men who use erectile dysfunction drugs on a daily basis begin to feel numbness in their other extremities because of lack of blood. Most sufferers consider the amputation of ears, toes, and fingers a small price to pay for their constant boners. “I’d let you cut off my head if I could get more wood,” was what one habitual user admitted shortly before passing out after a 36-hour binge.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

CNN News Flash: Little White Bitch Still Missing!

America, stop whatever it is you are doing this instant and help us find this poor little white bitch who is missing. Here is her picture. Isn’t she cute? Isn’t it sad to think that something bad may have happened to her? By “bad,” what do you think would be really bad? Do you think she was sold into white slavery? That seems to be the creepy subtext to this story, and we here at CNN are encouraging those rumors every way we can. As long as she remains missing, CNN will continue to insist that she has been sold into white slavery, because our viewers have rated white slavery as the most popular news story in a CNN online poll. CNN, a news organization committed to filling the needs of viewers’ prurient desires.

We think this story is truly important, even for non-white people, because are we so much different? If a little non-white girl were ever missing, wouldn’t we obsess over her just like we have for this little white bitch? Of course we would, but as far as we know, a non-white girl has never gone missing, and non-white girls can’t be sold into white slavery. Stories about non-white slavery rated very low among our viewers. Our hands are tied here, people.

The truth is that when little non-white kids go missing, it is probably through some fault of their own, so why should we lift a finger to track them down? Either that or their parents are negligent. The non-white kids will be fine on their own, and while they are living off the land, making their way back home, we need all of you to focus on this cute little white girl who is missing. Even though she went missing on a Caribbean island and you live in Arkansas, you should still be as concerned for her fate as her immediate family.

Even though the story of the missing little white bitch is now months old, our producers here at CNN are having a fucking field day cranking out stories about white slavery, and white women sold into white slavery, and the filthy things they make white girls do while in white slavery situations. In fact, just saying “white slavery” has increased viewership here at CNN to such a degree that we are thinking about starting another 24-hour news channel devoted exclusively to white slavery. Think of it as the ESPN of white slavery.

Just remember, CNN is the leader in covering stories about missing, photogenic white girls. If you are a cute white girl, and you go missing, we will be all over that story like a cheap suit. We all pray that you don’t get sold into white slavery, but if you do, is it our fault if our ratings spike? For all you non-white kids out there, stay close to your parents. If you do get lost, you can navigate by finding the North Star, and following rivers downstream. Good luck, now please excuse us while we go find the missing white girl.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Breaches in Cell Phone Etiquette Haikus

We will probably never agree upon a general set of rules for the public use of cell phones. My recent post on cell phone rules drew more ire than praise. The fact that my own views are puerile and baseless has never kept me from spewing forth. I welcome all of you to join into the fray. Take a minute to write a haiku about how you feel about cell phones, or how you feel about know-nothing blow-hards like me. Go ahead, I can take it.

Perhaps some of these haikus will make more sense if they are put in some sort of context.

General Public Nuisances:

Your ringer is cool;
Is that a Motley Cru song?
Answer the damn thing!

Oh my God, for real;
Technology’s, like, so cool.
Dumber by the day.

My phone makes me big;
I am the king of the world.
Cell phone bill iceberg.

So interesting;
Things overheard on your cell.
That’s sarcasm, jerk.

What does “faux pas” mean?
I think it’s French for dip shit;
Go talk outside, please.

Can you hear me now?
Maybe I should talk louder?
Stuff a sock in it.

I love my cell phone;
R U going to the mall?
Shut the fuck up, bitch.

I punch the keypad;
I’m a text message guru.
Know what “FU” means?

Define obnoxious:
You let your phone ring ten times
Before you answer.

Talking While Driving:

I can drive and talk;
They call it multi-tasking.
That bump felt human.

I drive a Hummer;
I always talk on my cell.
Public enemy.

Cell phone in your hand;
“Vote for Bush” on the bumper.
Red state road hazard.

While Interacting with the “Servant Class:”

In line on the phone;
Customers are always right.
We hate you so much.

Give me a latte;
No, I won’t hang up the phone.
God, what an asshole!

I’ll just point at things;
I have to take this phone call.
Must be your mother.

Please, Turn Off Your Cell Phone Situations:

I love opera;
Even when they aren’t singing.
Ring, who could that be?

Your cell phone goes off;
The movie has just started.
What planet you from?

So quiet in here;
The library is peaceful.
Time to call my friends.

Public Transportation Yakkers:

On the bus I talk;
Nothing to say, but so what?
Someone please kill her.

No phones on the plane;
Not yet, but maybe some day.
Where’s the train station?

From Readers:

Haikus for the too-cool, condescending "servant class"; or as I like to call them, the coffee shop hipster philosophes.

Dipshit arty-fart,
Starbucks server-poet-priest,
Leave room for milk, twit.

Haute hipster server
Miss Manners, such class, such style!
Three-day-old thong? Ew!

"I only work here
Until my art makes it big."
My latte, Warhol?

(I'm better than you
Mr. Yuppie Big Shot Creep!)
"Room for milk, Sir?"

(I'll show this Yuppie
Who is the better person)
"Want back change, Mister?"

As Shaw once stated
Hatred 'tis coward's revenge;


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Surgical Precision

Chewbaca looking good!
I’ll be taking some time off as I recover from a botched nose job. The cute little button of a nose that came with the last surgery fell off the other day while I was swinging a five iron. My golf partner stepped on the old nose with his cleats so the surgical team had to construct a new nose for me from some calluses on my feet. The new appendage isn’t as smooth as I would like, and athlete’s foot on my nose is now a distinct possibility, but I think that I look hot.

I highly recommend plastic surgery to all of you who are now less than perfect. Are there drawbacks? Yes, there are some drawbacks. Last month I went in for a bit of liposuction. Just before I went under anesthesia I was talking to the doctor about the great set of cans on one of the orderlies in the operating room. He must have misunderstood me in my semi-intoxicated state because I woke up with a slim waist and a set of 36d beauties. They were fun while they lasted, but I was getting assaulted every day in the gym locker room. Guys are such pigs. It cost me over ten grand to have the breasts turned into pec muscles. I look super buff, but my nipples are the size of drink coasters. Whadda ya gonna do? Nipple reduction surgery, of course.

I got a little collagen injection in my lips to make them look fuller. The new lips were nice, but I thought that I could do better. I had the doctor take some tissue from my butt to add even more fullness to my lips. My lips looked great, but my butt was a little flat. The plastic surgeon took more calluses from my feet, along with tissue from some non-essential internal organs, and made a great looking new butt. The new butt made my calves look too small. No problem, I thought. Cosmetic surgery to the rescue.

The problem was that I was quickly running out of body tissue to move around on the old carcass. I only wish that I had saved all of the tissue they took from my original nose. Christ, they must have hauled that away in a wheelbarrow. You don’t really need two kidneys, everyone knows that. I think my new heart is more efficient ever since the doctor removed three chambers and used the tissue to make my cheeks look higher. Did you know that the lower intestine is about 30 feet long? Not mine, mine is only six inches. We used the excess intestine to fill in those wrinkles around my eyes. I hope they washed it first.

Just when I thought I was going to have to settle for a “me” that was slightly less than the ideal I had envisioned for myself, I read about something that the Hollywood stars have been doing for several years. I adopted a small child that I use for spare parts in my extreme make-over. The kid doesn’t seem to mind that I sawed off his right leg, but I’m really not sure how he feels because he doesn’t speak English. Get over it, I’m your father. I mean, how many legs does it take to detail my car? Call me an indulgent parent, but next time I’m going to let him pick which body part we take off.

Sure, doctors aren’t perfect. They are human. They sometimes make mistakes. I wanted a little dimple on my chin and I was willing to pay top dollar for it. I came out of surgery and looked in the mirror. “Doc,” I said, “I wanted a dimple on my chin, not a vagina.” I’m usually not a big stickler for details. I usually don’t demand “surgical precision,” but when it comes to actual surgery that probably isn’t such a bad thing. Not a big problem, we filled in the crack with toe nail clippings and some scabs. Now I think that I look like Jude Law.

After 27 elective cosmetic surgical procedures, I have completely exhausted my financial resources. I am far from happy with my appearance. If anything, I am more disappointed than ever when I look in the mirror. In an effort to save money, I’ve started wearing those fake glasses, nose, and moustache things. I think they make me look fat. What do you think?

A War of Ideas

On feminism:
“It all happened because of an idea that spread because of its own intrinsic power.”
I am Charlotte Simmons, Tom Wolfe

A lot has been said of America’s political split that seems to have us divided, 50/50, into two camps: liberals and conservatives. I personally don’t believe that 50% of this country is liberal at all. I would say that about 80% of Americans are conservative in their view of the world. Perhaps I am being a bit conservative myself in this assessment, but I do believe that the majority of us are conservative and must be pulled, kicking and screaming, to accept the radical liberal concepts that made this country great.

The greatest liberal concept, the idea that made this country truly great, was universal public education. I grew up during the height of America’s commitment to public education. I went to an outstanding public high school that every school age child attended. The children of the city’s poor and wealthy (or what passed for wealthy in that era) attended the same school, the same classes. The only exception was the Catholic high school which was for the Catholics and was not a refuge of the elite. I went on to attend an excellent (and inexpensive) state university.

The great conservative idea in this era is that we should stop paying taxes. We are constantly told that every tax we pay is unnecessary and wasteful. This is also an era in which we are abandoning the idea of universal public education in favor of privatization. This probably is a great idea if you are wealthy enough to send your kids to a wonderful private school. I just think that an elite education is not a very American concept.

Most of the great ideas that liberalism has put forward have taken quite a while to build up enough stream to enter into the thinking of the average citizen. The intrinsic power of ideas like public education, feminism, equality, and equal rights eventually became so apparent to almost everyone that when these concepts were finally more or less universally accepted, anyone who had opposed them now seems incredibly short-sighted and ignorant. This will also be the case when Americans finally accept the inevitable ideas of gay rights and public health care.

The only “ideas” put forth by conservatives these days seem to be strictly fiduciary in nature. Their grand ideas of tax cuts have no intrinsic power. The conservative ideas carry more the power of a bribe, a bribe to accept the lies that pass for promises. With every tax cut in every state in the union we are quickly dismantling our public school system that once raised the living standards of almost every one of us. Twenty percent of Americans now live in poverty, and this group has been steadily growing with every tax cut that heavily favors the fabulously wealthy. They used to call this the “trickle down” theory, but since that proved a grand failure; they don’t give it a name. They just say, “Fuck you, we run things” and keep giving themselves tax cuts.

We have already been through an era of unbridled privatization and it proved disastrous. Now we are dismantling the liberal institutions that were created to combat the evils of the completely unregulated laissez-faire economies of the early 20th century. We are putting ourselves into a position in which we will have to fight the battles that our working grandparents fought and won 100 years ago instead of building on their achievements and improving our society.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Cell Phone Rules We Can All Live With

This essay is rated PG13 for offensive language because a lot of things about cell phone usage piss me the fuck off.

There are no rules for talking on cell phones, no universally-accepted standards of behavior. I used to consider anyone who talked on a cell phone in public to be a complete douche bag. That is, until I bought one myself. Now I don’t think that talking on a cell phone in public makes you a douche bag. I still think that there is a lot of cell phone-related behavior that is extremely obnoxious. I just think that we should all get together and come up with some rules. I have listed a few of my pet peeves. Please feel free to disagree, embellish, or add your own rules.

I think that it is completely unacceptable to talk on a phone and try to interact with a live human being. If you talk on the phone while you try to order a cup of coffee, you are a completely self-absorbed and contemptible piece of offal. This tells the person who is trying to serve you that you rate them somewhere down around where you rate a small piece of plastic filled with circuits. We will all take it for granted that you are Gordon Gecko and Donald Trump all rolled into one super type-A douche bag, but hang up the phone and try to be a real human being for the time it takes you to order your double decaf soy no-whip mocha or your bottle of low-carb beer from the bartender.

Unless you have a hands-free device, DO NOT FUCKING DRIVE A FUCKING AUTOMOBILE AND TALK ON A FUCKING CELL PHONE, YOU FUCKING DANGEROUS FUCK WIT! If you kill someone because of your inattention due to cell phone use, you should be charged with murder. I think that we can all agree on that one, can’t we?

If you are on some sort of public transportation, try to keep your cell phone conversations to a minimum. Those of us around you may be trying to read a book. Have you ever tried that? It may be intruding on our ability to read if you are sitting next to us in the thralls of mall-speak as you yak on and on and on about your incredibly insipid views on life or whatever the fuck it is you are going on and on about with all of your, “Oh my gods” and “likes” and “that is so…” and “hella’s” and all of the other illiterate vocabulary of the post-literate class that makes up the ranks of so many cell phone addicts.

If you are in a public place, don’t talk on your cell phone at a higher volume than the other humans around you. I don’t care how cute you are, if you are yakking loudly on a cell phone I can’t help but get a mental picture of some middle-age fat guy, bald on top with a pony tail, practically shouting into his phone as he walks around the grocery store annoying the living shit out of every other customer. Don’t be that guy, girls.

Rule 5
If you are attending some event where you have been instructed to turn your phone off, turn your phone the fuck off.

That’s about all I have. I realize that the creeps who violate all of my rules are too self-absorbed to care whether or not other people see them for what they are. If I am being to dictatorial, too bitter, if I’m out of line for feeling the way I do towards the usage of this technology, please educate me.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Tour is Dead, Long Live the Tour

When I was younger, I had a grizzled old war veteran lecture me about loss. “You don’t know nothing about losing nothing until you been to war, boy. You’ll know about loss when you stick your hand into a pile of goo that used to be your best friend’s face.” I think I finally know what he is talking about. The Tour de France is over. After three weeks of me having something to live and train for, it has finally ended. I know exactly what the tortured combat vet was saying about putting your hand into a pile of goo that used to be your best friend’s face, because I went to the gym and turned the TV to the channel that covered the Tour in the vain hope they would show some repeats of the race, or something Tour-related. Instead, I found that they were airing a hunting show.

In one sense, it is kind of refreshing to have my normal, non-Tour de France, life back. I no longer have to center my entire day around getting to the gym at a specific time to watch the race. The weather here has been positively spectacular. I can bike ride outside as nature intended, instead of pedaling an exercise bike to nowhere inside. I love riding my racing bike around Seattle. I sniff out every hill in town like a pig foraging for truffles. It doesn’t take a lot of talent to find hills in this town. There are some hills so steep that I won’t ride up them on my racing bike for fear that the torque will break a wheel, or a chain, or a frame. I leave these hills for days when I am out on my ghetto commuter bike. I really did break a chain riding up one of these cruelly steep hills.

So life was good for a while. I was riding my butt off and getting into the best shape of my life when tragedy struck again. The gears on my racing bike crapped out. It was going to cost quite a bit to fix this old Bianchi, a bike that has served me very well. I weighed the cost of repairs against investing in a brand new Bianchi San Lorenzo that costs $3,200 or so. It seemed a rather ignominious end to my old bike, but I have been thinking about replacing it. I told the guys at the repair shop in my neighborhood to pull the feeding tube. A couple bike geek dudes overheard me say that I wasn’t going to fix the old Bianchi and they immediately started drooling over the corpse.

“How much do you want for that frame, dude?” The old bike has a steel lugged frame hand-made in Italy. The new models are one-piece forged carbon fiber. The bike geeks’ envy made me reconsider my plan to scrap the classic for a new model. I decided to fix up the old bicycle and trick it out a little. It should be back on the road by next Wednesday.

I didn’t want to miss a work-out so I went out on my commuter bike. I took the opportunity to ride up 4th Avenue North, the steepest, ugliest hill in Seattle. I wouldn’t dream of even driving my car up or down this street. I don’t think that I have ever seen a car drive up the hill, and only street residents drive down it. I may never be able to articulate why this sort of behavior is fun for me. As I was grinding up 4th Avenue North, I thought that either the ride would kill me or I would live forever.