Friday, February 27, 2009

Whatevsies, people

There's a thing called a Nature Valley Granola Bar. Do not eat it. It is just a cookie masquerading as a healthy-to-eat granola type item. You might as well just spend an extra 15 cents and have the Oreos.

Speaking of which, I have yet to find a very good way to say "You might as well..." in Spanish. If you know of one, let me know.

And not speaking of which, on my last flight home from Oakland a big guy sat in the middle seat of my row. As soon as the plane took off he took out and ate a burrito approximately the size of his own head. Then five minutes later he passed a silent but deadly gas that overtook our section of the plane for several rows in each direction.
When the seatbelt light went off, I vaulted from my seat and ran to the back; I didn't care who might think I was to blame, I just needed relief for my scorched air passages.
When fart-boy himself made it back to the lavs 30 seconds later, I returned to my seat and without asking anyone, turned everyone's air vents to the max. The guy in the window seat was sitting there with a shellshocked expression; as I turned on his air he slowly turned to me and in an awed and trembling voice murmured "That. Was. Awful."
I started to laugh, and he said, "Go ahead and laugh; at least you had the aisle -- I was trapped over here trying not to throw up."
Eventually Freddy the Farter returned to his seat and we had no more trouble. But window-seat guy and I felt the bond that strangers sometimes form when they pass through a life-threatening situation together...

Another important thing: I have a crush on this girl. I know she's too young for me, but maybe we could travel back in time 100 years or something. Or we could go to Laos, that might be easier...


This won't necessarily resonate with everyone, but here's an interesting commentary on challenging racist speech.
And while we're on the subject, here's something that sometimes happens:
WHITE PERSON: ...blah blah blah black people blah blah blah...

OTHER PERSON: What does that mean? That sounded racist.

WP: I'm just pointing out the obvious. When something happens
enough, eventually you notice it. Why are they [sic] so sensitive
anyway? Why are they so ready to hear a racist comment?

OP: I don't know, could it be because When something happens
enough, eventually you notice it...

Funny thing about being human: we're so self-referential, we think *our* experience is representative; we imagine that we're so perceptive, what *we* notice must be everything there is to be noticed. But if you're the same color as I am, 90% of racism passes you by completely. White people tend to think: *I'm* certainly not a racist (altho I'm a realist), and my friends are all nice people, and society doesn't *feel* racist to me, and since we've come so far, and since the idea of racism still being strong here would make me feel icky, then those other people must be complaining because they're oversensitive whiners.
But maybe there are other things to be experienced beyond what happens to me. Maybe people of color experience life differently. Maybe someone I know automatically knew that he couldn't work on his car in the alley behind his house because black men tinkering in an alley is often enough to make someone call the police. Maybe if you're not white there are dozens of things like this that you address every week. Maybe. Just saying.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Better nate than lever, I guess...

A friend sent me this, reportedly from Christopher Moore's facebook page.
I'm sure it will feed the stereotype of liberals as fuzzy-headed romantics, not to mention strike fear into the hearts of all who worry about Obama's cult of personality. But nevertheless, I liked it...

A Crystal Heart
Mon 1:15am

I watched the Inaugural celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. There were singers singing about freedom, and actors reading the words of great Americans from the past. And above it that great stone effigy of Lincoln scowling down like a great prophet who had delivered his message of freedom and was waiting to see how badly we’re going to
fuck it up.

And I have to admit it, I got a little choked up.

And I thought,
Am I being cynical enough?

I thought,
Do I need to keep my guard up?

I thought,
Am I being suspicious enough?

I thought,
Will people think me a fool, if I’m earnest in my hope?

Then I realize, I wasn’t choked up
Because of the Rosa Parks story
Or the Lincoln quotes
Or the talk of a nation built on an idea.

I was choked up because I was tired.
Ever been that tired?
So tired you feel like you might weep?
I was tired of being lied to, and manipulated, and treated without
Like I was some sort of moron.
I was tired of freedom and love of country being thrown in my face
Like ads for soap, in order to sell an unjust agenda.
I was tired of my patriotism being questioned because I had the audacity
To point out that I was being lied to.
By leaders who became avatars of cynicism, and doubt, and mistrust.
And yes, death.

I was exhausted.
And cynical.

Shouldn’t I be?

Because if I go into this new era,
With a heart clear of cynicism,
I could get hurt.
I could look the fool.
I could get heartbroken.

Cynicism seems so attractive when compared to heartbreak.
You could be cool.
Heartless, but cool.

When I was talking about Death a lot.
I talked about how we may not all charge the machine gun nest
Or save the passengers from the freezing water
Or carry the child out of the burning building
But we would, we will, all face death
Maybe many times.
And how we behave at those times
Is the measure of our courage, of our character.

And so maybe now,
Like taking the chance to fall in love,
We face another one of those moments,
But instead of facing it one at a time
Small, trying moments, large in our little lives
We face this together.

We can be cynical. Hold back. Be safe.
We can be suspicious, and doubtful,
Or we can go forth openly, hopefully
With a heart
Clear of the cloud of cynicism.

A crystal heart.

And if I were still on speaking terms with God,
That’s what I’d pray for.
A crystal heart.
Clear in purpose,
Clear in righteousness
Clear in resolve
For us all.

And it might get broken.
And it will take courage to face that.
And it will hurt like a bitch if it does.

But then again,
Have you ever fallen in love?
Pure, sweet, illuminating, edifying love?
It makes us better than we could ever be.
Stronger, taller, kinder, more generous.
Tolerant, patient, and assured.

Should I be more cynical?

Should I be more suspicious?

Should I keep my guard up?

I think not.

To be right, to save face in retrospect, to live for the hope
Of profitable hindsight.
Is safe, and shallow and cowardly
And more likely to bring about a future darker than today.

No, I think I’ll go into this fresh American future
With a crystal heart.
Take the risk.

After all, you guys will all be there.
Well all be there.

Thanks for helping me think this through.

Happy Martin Luther King Day. Happy Inauguration.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Power to the People

This is emotionally very satisfying.
I often (okay, sometimes) try to see both sides of an issue, but I really have a hard time justifying the executive salaries and bonuses that are the focus of so much criticism right now. Anyone care to try?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Inspiration to greatness

I have a friend who is very articulate. When we work together, he's the guy I turn to when I can't think of the right word. He told me today that he was inspired to learn to speak & write well at the age of about 6 yrs old, by the following sentence, which I think you'll agree is difficult to improve upon:

Colgate with MFP fluoride has been proven to be an effective decay-preventative dentifrice which can be of significant value when used in a conscientiously-applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Word puzzle

Can you tell what these seven words have in common?
1 Banana
2 Dresser
3 Grammar
4 Potato
5 Revive
6 Uneven
7 Assess

Monday, February 02, 2009

I'd like to expound briefly on a long-held theory of mine... the effect that the reason many folksongs are so atrocious some women are considered sexually attractive is that they're mannish.

Okay, not really.

But I've noticed that when we're talking about pure sexual attractiveness (as opposed to beauty, which is related but not required) many women who men consider sexy have in common features that are *male* secondary sex characteristics:
- stronger facial features: heavier eyebrows, cheekbones, chin
- larger eyes, mouth, teeth
- wider shoulders
- more height

My theory is that this might unconsciously suggest more testosterone, which would suggest stronger sex drive (ie, more sexuality).

Examples off the top of my head:
* Cindy Crawford
* Pamela Anderson
* Courtney Love
* Cameron Diaz
* Eva Mendes
* Selma Hayek

Certainly there's lots more to it that that, and there are lots of exceptions and counter-examples (why aren't mustaches on women more of a turn-on?), but look how few women in this random google result for "sexiest woman" have small mouths/teeth or faint eyebrows or small eyes.

There's a sort-of-related pseuodo-scientific article about this in the Telegraph.

Your mileage may vary, of course. It's just a theory...