30 January 2014

A Few Words in Favor (and Not) of Stultification

Many blogs avoid the hard topics.  We do not.  This week, we face firmly in the eye one of the great issues of our age, the question of stultification.

First of all, I want to make it absolutely as crystal clear as possible that I am not in favor of stultification per se, for its own sake.  Only as necessary is my motto.  We can't go around just stultifying willy-nilly.  Does more harm than good.

The less stultification the better, I say.  Up to a point, that is.  We do need some.  What we really need, I dare to venture, is balance.

What do we mean when we talk about stultification?  Are we insane?  No, we mean exactly what the word means, no more and certainly no less.  On matters of first principle, there can be no compromise.

However, in certain contexts stultification makes all too much sense, indeed it seems the only sensible course, viz hyperactivity, overzealosity, misdirected violence...

What cannot be stultified by force can be stultified through punitive taxation or peer pressure.  We've got to change the culture.

It is pure folly to suggest that we can continue to forgo obviously necessary stultifications.  Not to come across as a rabid stultificationalist, but we as a nation and as a people cannot continue to keep kicking the stultification can down the road.

The Board is therefore throwing its support one hundred and thirty-five percent behind a massive stultification program.  Let's do this on the grand scale, get the whole thing done at once, take care of the whole problem for this generation and the next, one big giant massive wave of stultification covering everybody, no opt-out clauses this time, everyone and everything shall be stultified at the same time and that's that:  problem solved.

Stultification is everything.  It's not the only thing, but it could be.  In the aftermath, it's all we’ll remember anyway.

End stultification at its roots, now.  Just start to do it.  At least take a few preliminary steps.  Tiptoe tentatively in the general direction of stultification, today.  For the children.

Or something.

(Oops.)

If you found the above essay on stultification overly stultifying, you are not alone.

21 January 2014

Complaining About What You Just Read


A rant about ranting about reads that rankle. 

Perfectly justifiable or completely asinine? Vote now on Twangle!

Many people – sorry, many readers – write in to complain about the quality of the writing on here and in the world in general; a smaller number write to note the idiocy of spending significant time and energy trying to convince others that something you don't like "sucks", by shouting.  And so forth.

As with most issues, I come down on both sides on this one.  Clearly, if you know you don't like a particular author but then click on their thing just to bash them, you are a complete moron (or at best, you are misdirecting your energies).  What injury does the complainant claim to have suffered?

Let's say you start to read something and it sucks.  Let it go.  Why is it important to express your dislike?  Not talking here about expressing disagreement but about griping about quality, often including personal attacks on the author, for example impugning the chastity of his/her mother or questioning the positioning of the head vis a vis the ass.  If your thinking is that you are warning others away from this crap, then doing it in the Comments won't help because who reads those first, what you need is a separate blog or page warning people never to read the crap you just read, because it sucks; but then of course you'd just be calling attention to it, that is if you can get anyone to pay attention to your blog in the first place, which you probably can't, since most everyone is spending their energies howling into the wind instead of reading for enlightenment and no one really gives two pairs of pajamas what you (or I for that matter) have to say about that or anything else.

But while I'm sympathetic with my own argument on this, I must also beg to differ.

Problem is, sometimes you don't know if something is gonna bother you until after you've read it.  In some cases the reader may go in with expectations of enjoyment, then slowly come to feel toyed with or betrayed; or realize that he/she knows a thing or two about the subject of which the author appears to be unaware; it could be a heavy-handed or too cute style (cough cough); whatever, it is offensive to the bs detector known as common sense and it will not stand.

People seem to find it difficult to stop in the middle of reading anything, so that even when something starts to rankle, as the expected enjoyment turns to annoyment and finally outrage, rather than stop reading and walk away they insist on reading through to the end, getting ever-madder as they go, formulating counterarguments and considering the penning of a response intended to expose the author as a charlatan hawking mollywoggle and calling it macaroons.

Or there's the basic, This is more popular than it should be, I don’t like it, and everyone else should realize that they are wrong and I am right, this is not as good people think, or it's getting too much credit for being good because it hits a particular nerve and/or tells us pretty much exactly what we want to hear.  I disagree with this and it is popular therefore it is stupid and anyone who agrees with it must be relentlessly hammered on in any way I can think of until they admit that I'm the one who knows what's what, and even then I'll insult them one last time just to see if they wanna keep it going.

Perhaps as often, the kvetching is a sign you really did like it, you may be jealous of the author's success in doing something you had conceived of but never produced, so that even if they executed it in a way you would have never come up with and did a half-decent enough job, it rankles that you never did it and you should get credit for the fact that the way you were gonna do it woulda been much better than what they came out with … Anyway they (you) should check out my (her) blog, it's wayyy better than this crap y'all're reading over here (there).

Ranting about what you don't like?  Must be a cry for attention.  Like me, for example:  it bothers me when people rant about what they don't like, but just ranting about that could be worse.  Expressing a negative opinion is obviously allowable but not just tearing down for the sake of tearing down, no need for the hateful or personal.  So I'm ranting about how other people rant about what they don't like, not about what they don't like or how much I hate their ranting because that would be kinda pointless, y'know? 

There is that four hundred and eighty words yet?  Can I go home already?  My mind aches from all the blogging. Or at least break for a sandwich and a glass of buttermilk, maybe a fruit cup?  No?  Hell then forget it, I've had enough of these sweatshop conditions.  I am so outta here.

07 January 2014

The Several Most Breathtaking Photos of 2013, Briefly Described


Wanted to pass out some eye candy here at this time of year when the northern nights are long, but after extensive legal wrangling was unable to negotiate the rights to offer for visual consumption many of the most breathtakingest images of the past roughly 12 months.  Fortunately a picture is worth a thousand words, and talk is cheap.  The following brief descriptions are therefore offered to evoke the year's most fantastic images that will fill you with wonder and take your breath away, leaving you breathless, gasping in awe, slowly asphyxiating.  Please read carefully.

-Whale harpooned as it attacks seal eating otter with fish in mouth.

-Urchins in full Marx Brothers get-up put on amateur talent hour telethon to benefit herpes simplex in bombed out borough of deeply divided city in war-torn nation.

-Starry night with comet glowing naughtily over Lake Watchamacollititi, Republic of Zurambia.

-Protesters march against the eleventh annual Exxon Cowboy Sweepstakes Cheese Prize Massacre Award Memorial Anniversary Giveaway Tragedy, in Trafalgar Square which has been temporarily relocated to a beach in California where a man relaxes playing volleyball with a preternaturally gifted Irish setter as the sun sets over Mt. Kilimanjaro, Nairobe, foreground.

-Ferns growing feverishly, Boney McJoyless National Park, “The Palisades”.

-Cave-divers with joyguns blazing battle animatronic stalactites in the world’s deepest darkest and totally creepiest virtual cave in Kingston, Jamaica mon.

-Passersby gape as street busker plays volleyball on his guitar outside the childhood home of the grandson of the real-life model for the Ralph Kramden character.

-Snow crystals form on the nape of the neck of either Christian Bale or Brad Pitt as he surveys the wreckage following the devastating hurricane fire that ravaged his grotto during an out-of-control clambake commemorating the Battle of Whoop-dee-do Thicket, Hunter’s Peak, Maryland.

-Laborers at world’s largest open pit copper mine take a break to blow off some steam with a few rounds of Hello, Sailor (Chuquicamata, Chile).


If there are images captured in the past year that are more breathtaking than these, I'd like to see them (described).

01 January 2014

What Else Are We Looking At The Wrong Way?


Big Changes are coming down the proverbial pipe, and change is always difficult.  But as with everything (since sliced bread), it’s all in the way you look at it.  Rather than see the decline and fall of our entire way of life as a catastrophe, we can turn our frowns upside downs and keep our eyes and our minds firmly fixed on the bright side of the pie.
 
Slumping Demand.  The people at Coca-ColaTM should be jumping for joy that their sales are declining.   Now they don’t have to spend so much time and hassle making [another F-bomb deleted] Coca-ColaTM.  Who the hell wants to spend their one precious life making Coca ColaTM?  No sensible person would, unless faced with excessive demand.  Freedom is freedom from demands.  Declining demand is therefore good news for freedom everywhere. 

End of Economic Growth.  Thank [expletive deleted] god, it’s about [and another, in case you missed the first one, deleted] time. Economic growth is required mainly by those who make their money from their money.  It also functions to create jobs for waves of youth entering adulthood.  Fortunately there will be no further waves of youth for a while, what with The End of Children and all (not to mention The Great Cull).  Economic growth is killing us.  It is consuming the planet, warping our psyches and serving mainly to destroy the ecosystems on which we ultimately depend for survival, while exacerbating economic inequality (a measure of which is acceptable if not inevitable but come on now people, let’s get real, lately we are becoming exacerbation nation).  It’s high time to drown economic growth in the bathtub and then throw it out with the bathwater.

Mass Extinctions.  Hard to see how this one could be good but let’s give it a shot.  Most species are little more than a pain in the ass as far as we are concerned, so no big loss there.  For the ones we care about, maybe it was destined to happen, maybe there is nothing we could have done about it, maybe it’s not entirely our fault, or natural selection will favor the survivors and we will figure out a scientific way to restore balance to nature while still allowing for television / the internet / Humvees &c.  Also massive environmental poisoning is causing many mutations and thus creating many new species to replace the old ones.  Change is inevitable, we must accept it like the bodhisattva we as a society aspire to become.  There now, how does that sound?

Global Warming.  Think of how many strip malls and cookie cutter housing projects we can throw up on the millions of acres of real estate currently under ice for a good part of the year.  Every one of those projects provides thousands of solid steady jobs for clean wholesome working people to raise a family and retire comfortably on.  Global warming will therefore boost economic growth, which will further accelerate global warming – see, it’s a virtuous cycle.

Rising Sea Levels will help redistribute wealth, as beachfront properties are inundated and new beachheads established in previously, er, downscale boroughs, the less desirable areas real-estate wise that is.

Increasing Big Storms and Chaotic Weather Events.  Well they add meaning to our lives, don’t they?  Except when they take away everything.  In fact there is no bright side to these things – oh and plus earthquakes – they are simply part of the mixed blessing of living where we do (in the here and now, that is).