Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Scoffing at the sacred cow

I enjoy ambivalence. Immensely. With this being the case, I recently compiled a list of ideas I held with certainty. First thing on the list: evolution!

Now, I don't know anything about evolution. Genetics? Nah. Intro to Biology? B+... easy class. And yet, I believe in evolution.

Not. anymore I don't! Now, I am thoroughly ambivalent. I am neither in or out. I float about.

How'd I do it? I read about sex. Not a picture book. Not a how-to (I have that pretty. well. covered.) Rather, why sex? In the sense of: lifeforms didn't always go bump in the night. Asexual reproduction (apparently?) once ruled the day. And then? Sex! Lots of it.

Here's what I really like: sex and reproduction... totally different. You see, reproduction is when one becomes two. Sex... however, takes two, and becomes one. And the explanations I've skimmed can't account for this at all... evolution doesn't know. It goes meh. Enter ambivalence. Lovely.

How about the turritopsis nutricula, or immortal jellyfish. It doesn't die of old age. It just doesn't. You, for instance, are probably living in a body that isn't keeping up with repairs. You are aging. It will kill you. This jellyfish doesn't age in one direction. It cycles. From maturity to immaturity, or, it goes from pre-to-post puberty... round and round. Hilarious, right?

So why isn't this a common biological move? What's the deal with aging? Can evolution account for that? Nah. At least, not particularly well.

I'll stop now, but I'll finish with this: I've noticed that, as I age, I keep sneaking towards certainties. So I must be on guard. I must actively combat this inertiatic move. And it's fun.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Allow me to answer your absurd question

I hate Canada. I hate you. Very different, right? Because with the latter, its so obvious what I'm talking about. I'm talking about you, shitbird. But the former, that's a mess. One definition of Canada is the way it is posed on a map. There is it, a jabillion square miles of land outlined on a paper or basketball-sized globe. But, to say "I hate Canada" is most certainly not a claim to my feelings about the land itself.

Instead, the claim of hating a country is a fantastic example of identifying something that really doesn't exist outside of yourself. The Canada that my example hates could only live within me. It's a feeling. Not a thing.

This morning I didn't have to work, and the weather wasn't amiable to gardening, so I took to the computer. I enjoyed some nonsense I found on Slate, a wonderfully silly online periodical (silliness example, from an article on spanking children: "So what’s the deal—are slaps on the tush OK if your children deserve it, or will it screw them up for life?" Oh gawd... is it okay to hit your kid on the ass if they deserve it. I love Slate, so sincerely idiotic).

The article was from a column called The Explainer: Answers to your questions about the news. And the headline's question was: Why did Hugo Chavez hate the United States so much? Before I say more, I'll say this: I don't know anything about Hugo Chavez, and I'm not interested in what he may have hated, or why. Here's how The Explainer commences:

Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan president famous for anti-American rhetoric, died Tuesday. He referred to the United States as “a bad person,” “an assassin,” and “a violent invader.”

As an aside, I love that the explanation begins by saying he's famous for anti-American rhetoric. It's a lovely arrangement of what is important. First sentence. What's he famous for? Anti-America. Hilarious.

And then the quotes. Oh, these are good. According to The Explainer, Chavez called the United States three things, and I'd like for you to conjure an image for each.

1) United States, bad person, please conjure an image.
2) An assassin, image please
3) A violent invader, image

For the first, I can't really get much of anything, at first, but then Ronald Reagan pops in my head. Aww, sorry Ron. That sucks. Of all the images, I get Ron Reagan. A shitbird, for sure, but to be the banner image for "America, bad person"... that's rough. Number two, I first came to a man in desert military fatigues crouching behind a big ass rock, giant sniper rifle in hand. Number three, I pictured a man who my brain labeled a rapist. He was probably 30ish years old, not fit, white guy, looked like shit (when I know perfectly well that a well-dressed fit-freak is just as likely to rape... goddamned appearance prejudice! Fuck!)

Ron Reagan, military sniper, rapist. Or, a high ranking politician I personally find to be unsavory, a paid killer, and the worst of the worst, the rapist. Thanks Hugo Chavez, I hate America too, now that I see what it really is.

But wait, says the astute reader, the United States isn't a person! Every image you just conjured was of an individual man. What the fuck are you talking about? Okay... okay...

The Explainer goes on to say that Chavez, as President of Venezuela, was unhappy with George W. Bush because of a rift over trade policy. And then its explained to the reader that:
Although Chávez and Bush made weak attempts at reconciliation at the meeting—they told each other they wanted to be “friends” on the summit’s final day—the meeting showed Chávez that his surest path to global significance was as an opponent of the United States. Chávez repeatedly claimed that the CIA was trying to assassinate him and that the United States attempted to oust him from office in 2002.
Friends?! I'll show you friends!

And that's it, the explanation compares Chavez to Fidel Castro (they've both been to Yankee Stadium, me too!). And... take it to press. Explanation. Complete.Why does Hugo Chavez hate America so much? Because he broke-up with George Bush. Your absurd question has been answered.

To the comments! Obviously, a bunch of smarty-pants comments told The Explainer how flawed the explanation was. Thanks for nothing! They seemed to say. What about this and that! Does the name Marcos Perez Jimenez mean anything to you, dummy!

Against all good sense, I jump into the comment pool. I have a goal. I want to nudge the comments that suggest "we" have done all these terrible things, causing Chavez's so-called hate. Example: Impulse725 writes: I'm sure our habit of organizing coups, assassinating leaders, and destabilizing South America didn't factor into his dislike at all. 

And I say something like: Our habit of doing all that? You assassinate leaders and organize coups?! Holy shit, that's fucking wild. I'm sipping whiskey and watching Iron Chef, I want to party with you, continent de-stabilizer. 

In the effort to explain why, oh why, non-Americans dislike "America", the answer is already decided. The basic rhetorical move, question the question, isn't made. And seemingly well-meaning people say absurd shit because they're working with a broken premise: that something called "The United States" is capable of action. Not only is it capable of action, but it is also me! It isn't, obviously. Sure, people act, and the little people are taught to identify with the big-man... and voila, you asked why some guy hates something that doesn't exactly exist, I gave you an answer that followed its own bizarre logic, and we've confirmed it: Chavez hates America so much. So much.