Archive for July, 2012

Mosquitoes, mongoloids, and cyber expression

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

What is it about the instant nature of cyber communication that makes people less apt to censor themselves? To be sure, people have always battled appropriately censoring themselves in the modern era of mass communication. Whether they flub it when speaking to a news reporter or flubbing to on a talk show, people have always said crap they shouldn’t have. However, it seems we’re seeing more people crucifying themselves on the Foot-in-Mouth altar than ever. People who we would never have seen do such things in the past, such as Olympic athletes, celebrities, musicians…the cyber medium has given people who aren’t ordinarily trained to think on their toes the means to express themselves instantly to vast, global audiences. Politicians and certain public figures are quite adroit at self-expression and rarely say something thoughtless without measuring its import (Sarah Palin does not count). A politician’s calling is his words and the propriety of his expression. In addition, many interviews were taped or rehearsed and thus, non-repeatable tidbits never made their way across the human medium of civilization so instantaneously. Cyber expression is an instant one-way street. Once something is entered or published, it is permanently memorialized for all time into the ledgers of our communal record. You can’t undo something you write or say on the internet. Twitter is the nail in the coffin of your good reputation. Be careful what you say, idiot.

Speaking of idiots, I would like to nominate 2012 Olympians, Voula Papachristou, the Greek jumper, and Michel Morganella, a Swiss soccer player, to the Olympic Idiot competition. But why do I call them idiots? Not because of what they carelessly typed into the condensed field of 140-word Twitter expression. I don’t think what they said is horrible. None of it should be punishable by being expelled from their Olympic teams which did happen to both of them. Not at all. It is pure, unadulterated PC ass-covering that is responsible for their public fate. You can say a lot of careless stuff, but there is zero tolerance in “respectable” society for racial observations, however harsh, or true, they are. Of the two, Papachristou’s lame Twitter joke was the less menacing. She joked that West Nile mosquitoes would be able to enjoy home-made food in her home country due to the abundance of African immigrants. Ha ha. Snark snark. In addition to her public support for the Greek far-right party, Golden Dawn, Papachristou’s un-PC credentials are cemented and they offered an easy opportunity for spiteful Greek Olympic officials who promptly kicked her off the Olympic team. For what, I can’t really say. Making a joke that no one might have learned about in pre-Twitter days?

The “harsher” of the Olympic flubs belonged to Morganella of the Swiss soccer team. Shortly after the Swiss teams lost 2-1 to the South Koreans on Sunday, Morganella did what every idiot does in the heat of the moment: he logged on to Twitter. He then proceeded to take the opportunity to memorialize on the eternal cyber wall of mankind by inviting South Koreans to all “go burn” and then poured a little more gasoline on his bad-sportsmanlike fire by calling South Koreans “mongoloids.” Hee hee. Once again, he was deemed incorrigible by Olympic officials from his homeland and he was also expelled from the soccer team.

It’s like no one can handle cyber written real-time communication because the open stage of expression is such a tantalizing siren call to stupidity. We are not punishing the athletes for what they said. We are punishing them for being dense and unrestrained. I’m sure Olympic athletes were always the greatest lovers of mankind in the days before Twitter…right? Twitter miraculously transformed benevolent and respectful emissaries of global athleticism into close-minded, hateful scoundrels. Let’s blame Twitter. The truth is, we can only blame Twitter and all other forms of real-time cyber communication for helping us shed the hypocritical delusions of virtuosity that we dress our heroes in. When people express themselves in writing they seem propelled by a self-asserted sense of anonymity. People fail to integrate the written word as a tangible self-identifier and it seems they lazily disrobe themselvs of that bothersome garment/responsibility before clicking “send.” It’s easier, when speaking, to modulate your self-expression while fully comprehending that you are speaking to a mass of faces who are listening. When people write, they become alienated from their Self; writing is a disconnected act of communication and it appears we don’t fully comprehend its equally important effect as of speaking into a microphone or looking into a camera, situations in which we are more likely to censor ourselves. It’s as if the act of visualizing the words before us saps them of the life and effect they have on others.

A shameless (and unpaid) plug for Ford

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I am a Ford guy.

Really, to the core. I’m a full-blooded ‘merican Ford guy. I suppose it might have something to do with the fact that my fist ever car was a 7-year-old 1974 Ford Maverick my parents gave me during my Junior year. It was a bouncy, big, bench-seated, underpowered, vaguely steering American car born during the era of droll Detroit offerings (during the fuel crisis of the early 1970’s). The Ford was my first car and it served me well. I wrote about it at excruciating length here. I later traded it in and bought my first new car, a 1985 Ford Escort GT Turbo. This was the biggest piece of crap I’ve ever owned. It had a manual transmission and a few months into my ownership, the car began dying every time I depressed the clutch pedal. I would need to start it again on the fly while the car moved forward in neutral. It was a rather inconvenient process but no Ford mechanic in the world could figure the problem out. Then, the gear shift actually broke while I was driving. It broke! The rod which connected the gear lever to the transmission just cracked in half.

On the heels of that automotive disaster, I was disillusioned with American cars and I fled to the Japanese brands. From 1988 through 2005, I owned a string of Honda’s, Acura’s and Subaru’s. I bought into the common school of thought, especially in the urban areas of Los Angeles, that American cars sucked, which in that era, they did. After an accident in 2005 which totaled my Subaru WRX, my driver’s license was suspended for a year and a half. Before that, I stupidly bought a new Ford Mustang GT. That car was muscle, 300 horsepower of brawn, but alas, the California DMV took my license away and I had to unload the car quick. After I got my DL back in 2007, my first car out the gate was an old 1998 Subaru which treated me like a king. It was plain and slow but extremely dependable. It smelled like old upholstery.

Last November, after a prolonged period of miserly resistance to buying a new car, which I considered a wasteful expense, I convinced myself to buy a new Ford one sunny Sunday afternoon. Take it from someone who has driven many cars, this vehicle was the most ergonomically pleasant, attuned driving experience I’d ever had in a new car since purchasing my 1988 Honda CRX. I was astounded Ford had built something quite so…foreign feeling. My Ford is as nimble and feathery as any Honda I’ve ever driven. The construction and build is fantastic for a car in its class (this is an important consideration, one must always keep in mind that they are not driving a Rolls Royce in order to keep their expectations in perspective). The fuel mileage has been very good and Ford’s customer service has been stellar.

It’s a shame that many people will not experience the wonderful new Ford products because they are so resistant to the possibility of buying a Ford. There is a series of successive modern generations buying cars that are so devoted to ownership of foreign cars that they will never consider domestic. They have closed their minds to the possibility that a Ford might be in their future. I’ve known some people who automatically smirk at buying a Ford.

We’ve reached a strange point in consumer history where purchasing foreign automobiles has become such a given, such a mainstream rite of automotive passage, that for anyone to consider buying a Ford would be considered unique, even “outside the box,” in some circles. Foreign car makers used that individualistic appeal to win over buyers a long time ago. They appealed to their individuality and deafness to conformity as a source of pride in marketing its car. These were foreign, little known makes that were attempting to chip away at the embedded domestic car-buying mentality of the 60s and 70s. Now the tables have turned. It’s almost “cool” and a bit “hipsterish” to drive a Mini-Cooper or Fiat or runt Smart Car. Domestic automobile manufacturers lost their “cool” vibe long ago and it will take a while, a generation or two, to gain a footing again. I like to think I’m a trailblazer with my Ford.

Young urban professionals like European and expensive Japanese metal. Cars are an elitist signal whose foundation is nothing other than leather and expensive gadgetry. Expensive European and Japanese cars do have an incredible “solidity” to their experience. If you drive a Mercedes or Lexus, you will marvel at how you feel rooted to the ground. The supple leather is a treat. But you know what? So the hell what? My car costs maybe half or a third of that expensive machinery, and its feel is fine by me because I’ve trained myself to not demand so much stupid shit that doesn’t matter. I had to train myself; learning to embrace domestic automobiles again required that I shun the group think. It is like a reverse sort of brand status elitism that takes pride in consumer habits that resist the rat horde. I buy American. “I’m my own man.” This is where domestic automakers need to channel their marketing if they want the prized younger buyers back in the showroom.

James Holmes, Charles Guiteau, and the illusion of Beta rage

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

 

Yesterday I learned something interesting about Charles Guiteau, the man who shot and killed President James A. Garfield in 1881. I have been reading an interesting account of Garfield’s spectacular ascent to the Presidency and his subsequent assassination at the hands of the crazed Guiteau titled Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President. The author, Candice Millard, narrates that, during a previous period in Guiteau’s life, he joined a commune which practiced “free love” and open relationships which were part of its overall religious socialist philosophy. Even in such a sexually generous environment, Guiteau, afflicted with delusions of grandeur and abnormal psychological presentations, still found it impossible to get the supposedly open females of the commune to bite his decidedly repulsive offerings.

 

 

Guiteau’s extravagant dreams and delusions persisted in the face of consistent and complete failure. Although the commune promised the pleasures of complex marriage, to Guiteau’s frustration, “the Community women,” one of Oneida’s [the commune] members would later admit, “did not extend love and confidence toward him.” In fact, so thorough was his rejection among the women that they nicknamed him “Charles Gitout.” He bitterly complained that, while at the commune, he was “practically a Shaker.”

 

 

I don’t know why I should find it shocking or amusing that women in the 19th Century were capable of such cruel ostracism. We tend to demonize the modern woman as an unfeeling, ruthless adversary in the mating dance, but the truth is, this is simply the nature of woman, a nature shaped by the legacy of physical evolution. The female reserves the power in the mating dance by negation and submission. As males, we try to draw the bullseye around the arrow and attribute feminine “cruelty” to current social phenomena when in fact, this is merely the nature of the female. It always has been. Women go about it differently today. Social media and the computer age have made rejection more vivid, more public and more immediate. Perhaps it stings more, in 2012, since men have fewer socially acceptable resources available to reclaim their pride than they did 130 years ago. But the female mating paradigm is intrinsically one of perceived cruelty and unfairness and demeans our masculinity. This is that magical “nature” we resort to in order to reclaim our pride.

 

Charles Guiteau was a sick man who thought more of himself than anyone else apparently did. The aversion he elicited from 19th Century women was just one factor in his personality set of alienation and mental pathology. It reminded me of James Holmes when I read the chapter.

 

We have learned that near the tail end of Holmes’ downward spiral, he attempted a last ditch effort to “pick up” some women, who due to their solicitations on Adult Friend Finder, were ostensibly “sure shots.” However, similarly to Guiteau’s failure in the face of sure victory over a century previous, Holmes was rejected by 3 women he attempted to meet on the sex site just before his “break.” Much like Guiteau, Holmes’ rejection at the hands of women who for all intents and purposes enjoy sex for its own sake had to be the most degrading and hurtful of all rejection.

 

 


                                                                                                                    Charles Guiteau

 

 

 

 


                                                                                                              James Holmes

 

 

 

It’s not about sex. It’s about “earning” sex. It’s about being proven worthy of sex by women. If this wasn’t the case, these guys’ violent proclivities would be assuaged by purchasing the services of a prostitute. If it was only about sex. But it’s not about sex. It’s about female acceptance and validation.

 

I do not believe Guiteau or Holmes, or all other similar violent killers, committed their acts simply because women told them “no.” There are millions of men who are told “no” every day by women, but Presidents aren’t assassinated or theater audiences gunned down every day. Female rejection is one part of the parcel which acts as a unified slap in the face of an already pathologically mentally imbalanced man. Perhaps the female rejection coincidentally happens to be what breaks the camel’s back, or perhaps it was an early precursor to his final deadly acts of frustration. In either case, such negative experiences with females are only part of the inner destruction present in a man’s psyche who commits such acts. We personalize female rejection and treat it as the most conclusive symptom of a man’s dysfunctional character merely because we impart such grave attitudes toward female rejection.

 

Thing is, female rejection is a dime o’ dozen. It happens to all of us. We pull ourselves up by our pathetic bootstraps, smile weakly, and set out to do it again. And ultimately, we get ourselves slapped down again. Many of us experience this repeatedly (ahem). It’s rough. Female rejection can play out as a red herring when trying to mold the modern social dynamic of male mental health around it. However, a consistent pattern of female rejection tends to accompany many other traits and experiences the mentally imbalanced man elicits. It doesn’t do us much good to make sweeping statements about the status of modern cultural social dysfunction merely because a lunatic happened to be rejected by a long list of women. This fixation on mental pathology’s elicitation of female rejection detracts from the real issue, which is that the slightest “oddness” in male affect is misinterpreted by women in today’s social environment because women are exposed to such narrow ranges of the minimally tolerable male persona which is invariably dictated by the mass pop perception which defines the ideal man as painted by the numbers. Only the hyper-perceptive and intelligent women allow themselves to extricate their perceptions from beyond the narrow walls of popular thought thus allowing themselves to be entertained by men who don’t fit the popular personality fold very well. But guess what…the majority of such discerning and unlazy women are not what the PUA/player community “values” in females. We end up with swarms of emotionally illiterate men who continue to be shot down by hot young babes, who are precisely the female demographic that can afford to be constrained by the narrow definition of acceptable male behavior.

 

 

Pre-assembled notions (and a little road rage incident)

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

CAUTION: NSFL photo at end of post

Wednesday morning I found myself in one of those noxious rush hour stupid commuter rage situations. It was partly instigated by me, partly by the other party. It was pathetic, uncalled for, and lame. But it had to be. It’s stupid and self-defeating to examine the propriety of rage incidents because, by nature, they are not structured by logic whatsoever, and definitely not the conclusive sort you can summon only in hindsight. Rage stirs from the lowest depths of our essence. Rage is primitive. There is no sugar-coating it with concepts like “maturity” or “perspective” for rage never rises to the level of our civilized higher consciousness. All you can hope is that rage doesn’t get you in trouble or in a coffin, which is a lingering possibility in this big city of many anonymous strangers, many who experience rage in greater doses than you can ever imagine.

It happened on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, a town I am experiencing incremental amounts of disdain for with each passing year. Sunset Boulevard is a 3-lane street. During rush hour periods, curb parking is illegal so drivers essentially have 3 lanes to fly down so they may get to work at the last minute. And contrary to good driving form, many commuters use the 3rd lane as a “passing lane,” a dangerous endeavor due to driveways, left turning cars…and bicyclists. On the subject of defying good sense, you find there are bicyclists who persist in using the 3rd lane, in the morning rush even though, for all intents and purposes, it is the aggressive, “get out of my way, I’m important,” lane. You have the dangerous symbiosis of maniac, hurried drivers and the occasional defiant bicycle rider who dares to compete for the narrow space against barreling steel missiles maneuvered by harried, stressed drivers. Not a pretty sight.

Personally, I try and stay out of the 3rd lane when I can. I don’t like being tailgated, I’m not a “rusher” type of person who sacrifices personal well-being for the sake of getting anywhere 3 minutes early, and generally the 3rd lane is a piece of crap. The surface is usually full of cracks and potholes, and the lanes tend to rise and fall in a series of roller coaster undulations due to the driveways. It’s not worth the jostling and stress. The only time I find myself there is upon exiting the freeway which deposits me directly into the 3rd lane. When this happens, my goal becomes to move across the lanes as quickly as possible in order to avoid the right lane anarchy. Unfortunately, the traffic on Wednesday was heavy so I found myself stuck in the 3rd lane for a longer spell than I’d like. To confound matters, two bicyclists, gear and all, jumped into the lane when the light turned green. I somehow found a space in the middle lane to drift into briefly while I passed them and quickly re-entered the 3rd lane just as I cleared the pair. Granted, it was “close” in the sense that I didn’t leave a tremendous amount of space. If it was a car, it would have been too close, but they are bicyclists, they were not driving 35 mph. As I sped up I heard one of them yell something like “fucking asshole” loudly. OK. I was irritated by them already. I did not need to hear that. I braked but then realized this was a busy lane and enough logic remained to steer my actions, but the rage was steaming. I’m not a rage guy. I do not get mad like that. I’m 47, on the downhill slope of testosterone, I shrug most things off, but Wednesday morning was different. I wasn’t looking for a fight as much as I was looking for a route to express my anger in an articulate, non-violent manner. I sped up and made a sharp u-turn on one of the side streets and pulled back out to the traffic signal crosswalk, just north of Sunset, so I could wait for them as they rode by. I was seething.

As they approached (they were on the sidewalk now) they slowed when they spotted me and the one who had yelled (he was the loudmouth, the spokesperson) said something to the other and laughed and when they were within shouting distance, I yelled, “What the fuck is your problem?”

“What?” he yelled back. Some tourists (Hollywood is crawling with them) were waiting for the light and seemed amused by this dramatic interaction which played out before them, like a scene from the movies.

I repeated my question.

The bicyclists had now reached the crosswalk where I was pulled over and the guy told me “You almost hit us.”

“Bullshit, it wasn’t even close,” I countered.

“You almost hit my partner there,” he said, pointing to his riding “partner” who had driven past and didn’t seem to want to be caught in the fray.

“That’s bullshit, I didn’t, and you know it!”

He slowly continued biking away with his “partner.”

He circled the street a few times while I gesticulated with my arm out the open window. I didn’t get personal, I never called him names. This is how I roll when I’m mad. I want to reason, I seek understanding to calm my rage. I wanted to point out that he was full of shit. At one point he said something about me driving like I owned the street or something, and I retorted, “Oh yeah, look who’s talking.” We never degenerated into personal attacks or obscenities (though I did say bullshit and hell a few times). They continued on down Sunset, and I pulled back out on to the street and drove my merry way, feeling much better. That’s all it takes for me. My rage needs a voice, not blows. I’ve read about cases of car on bicycle violence in this town but I am not capable of that, but these guys didn’t know that, so I can see where I might have seemed threatening. I think they realized I just wanted to verbally reason because I’m really just a blowhard. I needed to get the anger off my chest and the incident ended as quickly and unannounced as it began.

I think sometimes we fall prey to “pre-assembled notions” that we carry around. They are like gunpowder and are waiting to be ignited by the right (and predictable) behavior of others through acts which are self-fulfilling anger prophecies. For instance, I’m trained to be annoyed by bicycle riders who don their stupid gear and indulge in stupid, thoughtless behaviors on the street, such as hogging precious lanes during rush hour. I don’t hate bicycle riders. I hate their presumption that their ostensible bicycling “rights” to share the road with cars (which incidentally negate common sense) act as protective armor from harmful fate they tempt stupidly through their stubborn insistence upon exercising these illogical and misguided rights. And in the process, they flaunt their untouchable status by inconveniencing everybody else on the road. It is the pre-assembled notion that I take on the road with me. I recognize it.

On the other hand, I believe many bicyclist types also are triggered by pre-assembled notions that their virtuous activity of bicycle riding, which is wonderful for the environment and the greenery of the planet, justifies itself because it inhibits and disrupts the natural flow of modern, wasteful civilization, as symbolized by automobile traffic, and as such, the act of riding their bicycle, which acts as a hindrance to those evil car drivers and the flow of traffic, is tantamount to a declaration of a cause which allows them to defy common sense and conscientiousness because it’s for a good cause, and besides, it’s their “right.” So they ride along Sunset Boulevard in the most inconvenient manner (incidentally, Hollywood Boulevard, just a half mile north and running parallel to Sunset, is a much better bicycle-friendly alternative) and snub their inconvenient truth and make life hell for everyone and get off on the daredevilry of riding astride cars that have the potential to pulverize them into the pavement while eliciting frustrated honks and shouts from inconsiderate drivers. A lot of these bicycle riders enjoy that passionate “attention” because they reckon themselves “soldiers” for a cause but really, I think they are being stupid and reckless. And blindly trusting in our driving skill to not get squashed.

So these pre-assembled notions collided on Wednesday morning.

As far as I’m concerned, more power to bicyclists. I understand their source of “pride” in practicing a healthy (physically and environmentally) transportation alternative. I wish they wouldn’t leave so little room, physically and sensory, when it comes to competing with their nemesis, the daily auto commuter. Is their status signal worth looking like this?

Anyone’s eyes but our own

Friday, July 27th, 2012

I laugh whenever someone proclaims “Life just isn’t fair!” with such gravity and dourness that it appears they are imparting some great hidden wisdom. They act as if they are sharing a precious tidbit of astounding insight by telling us something we all know. Life just isn’t fair!

Hmm. No kidding, I want to say. I could have told you that in a much less self-righteous, dramatic manner. Tell me something I don’t know. In fact, I’d like to extend the thought a little. Sure, life isn’t fair. But you know what? It’s not unfair, either. Life is unforgivably neutral in its rewards system. It’s only because we have that self-absorbed drama queen attitude that colors our perception of absolute neutrality as “unfair” but in reality, it’s only because we perceive the world through our little smoke-filled eyes and our personal agenda distorts our expectations and visions. What we view as “just” is merely our tightly-held opinion about how things ought to be. Whereas life is best viewed from the plane of the X axis (neutrality), we are incapable, in our tunnel-minded egotism, to perceive absolute neutrality as a state we must gravitate toward. We elevate our field of perception inherently to match our expectations. In doing so, we land far, far away from the neutral plane which is where reality rests, impersonally dismissive of our ego’s needs. So we perceive life as “unfair” but it’s not because there is any unfairness involved. There is simply a lack of auspicious fortune elevating our existence into that level we feel is “fair” but which is really excessive when beheld impartially, meaning by anyone’s eyes but our own.

It’s not that life is unfair; it’s that our expectations of fair exceed the generosities of reality. “Fair” is a big word.

Fair is manifested on different levels and can either visit itself actively or impassively by its absence.

Rather than sit here and lament that life is unfair, I will sit here and lament that life is not as fair as I’d like it to be. There is a fine distinction. Everything that I’d expect from life is overtaxing to reality. Reality does not have the resources to meet my needs, or most people’s needs. Life is populated by people and their institutions and they are ill equipped to supply the tremendous amounts of “fair” needed to placate everyone’s expectations. Better to tone down our expectations and allow fair to come to us instead of vice versa.

I’m quite at peace with the fact that life is not as fair as I’d like it to be. It was a bitter realization that I faced long ago and I’ve had much time to accept and digest this unsavory fact. There are many people my age who still fight the notion and become embroiled in bitterness which draws everyone in their reality into a celestial-sized vortex of gravity. I can honestly recognize that my expectations of fairness are an illusion. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can move on from the fallacies of modern life that burden our soul and stifle self-discovery and freedom. Despite my acceptance of this fact, of the lack of fairness, there is another aspect of Fair which I have trouble accepting. It is another face of unfairness which I shouldn’t care about for there is nothing I can do about it. It is truly beyond my control. But it bothers me so much.

I am infuriated by the fact that there are many people who do not deserve the amount of fairness life hands them. They do not deserve it!

If one aspect of unfairness is the Just being punished, this aspect I despise is of the Unjust being rewarded, which is an unfairness to the rest of us.
I hate it. Many of these people have nothing I would consider worthy of excessive fairness. They are lazy, stupid, ignorant, whatever…but still, copious amounts of Fair knock at their door. This is the type of unfairness I find difficult to swallow. If fairness is unequally dispersed, then all the fairness that I deserve is being handed to those who don’t deserve it.

This is presumptuous of me, isn’t it?
Perhaps life, in its infinite allocations of fairness, is busily rewarding in just amounts, guided by the cosmic yardstick of utter neutrality, but from my perspective, my ego tells me that their fairness should be mine.

But these people deserve nothing, not when I have nothing.