Relax, Folks

I admit it: I’m a simple man, amused by simple things.  Beyond the Simpsons and Mel Brooks and Monty Python, I get a huge kick out of conspiracy theories…and especially out of the folks who obsess about them.

Right now, easily the most entertainment is coming from “flat earthers”.  For whatever reason — and I have zero idea why — this particular conspiracy theory has bubbled to the top in terms of media mentions and attention.  It’s that bubbling to the top that has made it fun, however!

The stories and Youtube videos about these folks — both for and against — are entertaining enough…but then you get to the comments.  Oh, the comments…  My God, are those comments pure gold!  Heck, they’re more entertaining than the dang stories/videos themselves.

orgin_of_secret_societies-invertNow, as much fun as I have with the believers of that theory, it is those who are obsessed with attacking them that provide some of the funniest moments.  Don’t get me wrong, the whole “flat earth” thing is loony as hell…but it’s no loonier than the Freemasons being a nefarious, centuries old plot to dominate the world (as opposed to a bunch of old guys who like funky handshakes and hanging out for drinks a couple of nights a week…). It’s certainly no loonier than the “aliens among us”, or the Illuminati, or the Rosicrucians, or the…ah, hell, go ahead and pick your own!

But, for some reason, the flat earthers just seem to get some opponents going.  A number of folks take the whole thing personally, get well and truly angry and upset about it.  Hell, to a number, it represents not a loony, very small-time conspiracy theory, but is instead a symbol of the complete breakdown of modern society.

Oh, please.

The flat-earthers no more represent the end of civilization and the triumph of ignorance than a pair of 80-year-olds exchanging secret handshakes represent a secret cabal controlling the fate of humanity.

Honestly, I think the people who get so wound up and obsessed with “debunking” the looniness are the reason it even exists in the first place!  Oh, I’m sure there are folks out there who really believe the Earth is flat*…all of about five of them.  No, most of the “flat earthers” aren’t believers, I’d say; it’s far more likely that they’re out there just absolutely trolling the shit out of the angry folks.

discworld_main*I think Terry Pratchett had it about right with Discworld: It’s flat!  And on the backs of four elephants!  Who are standing on top of a turtle!

Think about it: you post a video, or a link…you make a few comments…and touch off a firestorm of people working themselves into a frenzy and a fury.  You then grab a beer, sit back, and laugh your ass off watching people twist themselves into knots linking your “flat earth” crap to every problem they see in the world: the left will say it shows how the right have destroyed education!  The right will say that, no, it shows how the left has destroyed the family and the last vestiges of morality!  It’s inbred rednecks! No, it’s college snowflakes!  It’s Americans!  No, it’s Canadians!

I’ve never posted a link or story or video on the whole “flat earth” thing…but, my God have I enjoyed the show that follows!

Really, folks, is the whole thing worth getting upset about?  Just how empty does a person’s life have to be to get upset about someone else beliefs?  Just how vituperative and politically narcissistic do you have to be to turn a cheesy conspiracy theory into anything more than a laugh?

Great, now I’m getting myself back into a “conspiracy-theory-mood”. Hell, maybe someday I’ll actually finish that satire I’ve had kicking around the back of my mind for the last couple of decades!

The Olympics? Err, No Thanks

4947999_700bOh, Winter Olympics, why can’t I love you?  Summer games, you are a lost cause, I know…but winter?  We should be so good together!

I’m a hockey player and fan.  I ski (quite poorly).  I snowshoe and hike in the snow and ice.  Hell, I live in the frickin’ mountains!

But the Winter games are still dead to me.

Part of it — a very big part, admittedly — is due to the sheer level of corruption and insanity that go along with putting on the games.  The money involved passed stupid a long time ago, blew right past ludicrous, and has moved well into the realm of silly.  For no host city or country are the games even remotely “worth it”.

The Games have become, sadly, nothing more than an uber-expensive exercise in nationalist chest-thumping.  Why on Earth would you ever want to spend the tens of BILLIONS it costs to host one?  And spare me the BS about tourism and marketing: you could pick twelve million people at random, give them each a thousand dollars to come visit you, and STILL spend less than the Pyeongchang games are costing…

And if the games cost too damned much to put on, so too do the athletes.  The games cost billions just to put on, but sending the athletes ain’t much cheaper.  And then you get into paying those athletes…and, no, “amateur” most definitely is not a thing anymore.

A gold medal isn’t about excellence, or pride, or competition — a gold medal is about money.  And that, I think, is my real problem with the whole thing.  Well, that and the raw nationalism…

I don’t give two shits how many medals the US won in comparison with Canada, or Norway, or freaking Lichtenstein, for that matter.

“Wow, that skier is really good…but they’re fucking British, so they can burn in Hell.”

One of my best friends in the hockey world is Polish…and, you know what?  He’s still my friend.  I still root for whatever team he is playing for…

I very much am a US patriot, but count me out on pointless-nationalism-thing.

Err…sorry about the squirrel-moment-rant — I just happened to read a story this morning about how “bad” the US team is in these Olympics, and about how the whole thing was a failure because of that…and about how the athletes themselves are failure, and miserable people.  Yep, you guessed it, that article drove me freakin’ nuts.

The Olympics were supposed to be about individual and team competition and achievement.  They were supposed to be about sport, not politics on skis.  Unfortunately, for most of the commentators and many of the viewers/fans, they are not about the sport…and all about the chest-thumping politics.

And with many of the athletes, that doesn’t get much better: they are about the dollars and sponsorships, not the sport.

Oh, there are still examples of the “true spirit” of the Olympics (“true” if you believe the old Chariots of Fire image), but they are all too few and far between.

Previews - Winter Olympics Day -1If I watch anything at the Peyongchang games it will be one thing: the Jamaican women’s bobsled team.  Not because of Cool Runnings, but because their coach quit and took their damned sled…and they stayed.  Red Stripe beer bought them another sled*, and the team is still trying.

*Brilliant damned marketing, by the way.  Even I’ll go buy a six-pack of a beer I don’t like for this one…

The Jamaicans won’t win, and they won’t make shit for money, but they’re still trying.  And THAT is what the Olympics are supposed to be about.

Shut Up and Listen

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”  — Isaac Asimov

imageShut up and sing.  Or write.  Or play.  Or any other occupation…

That’s a favorite phrase among a certain kind of folks nowadays.  Of course, what those folks really mean is “shut up…if you don’t agree with me.”

Now, there’s a belief out there that it is conservatives that embody that drive.  And, to a certain extent, there is a strong element of that among the more vocal and rabid “conservatives”.  But, just as much, the same belief and impulse holds true on the left.  Liberals can point to talk radio hosts and TV talking-heads, but conservatives can point just as much to college campuses and, well, more TV talking-heads.  And me?  I point to (pretty much) all of them.

And, no, it is NOT worthwhile to get into the tit-for-tat bullshit of “Well, they did it first!’

“No, THEY did it first!”

“Well, you’re a poopy-pants!”

“No, YOU’RE a poopy-pants!”

Is it any wonder why the most hated professions in the world are politicians and reporters*?  Even lawyers rank above them, for pete’s sake…

*To which I will add media talking-heads & “political-pundits”.

Let’s put this argument to rest right now: art, and especially writing, has always played a political role…and it always will.  Most often — and worse, to those who hate & fear voices that do not toe their particular line — that role has been to argue against the problems and abuses of the day, according to the artist’s personal perceptions and opinions.

Shit, Shakespeare’s Richard II is one of the most overtly political plays ever written.  Virgil’s Aeneid was written as pure political propaganda.  The Canterbury Tales had true political significance…Twain…Dickens…Fitzgerald…Wolfe…  And that’s just a handful of names, limited for reasons of word-count and space.  Hell, if I get into the poets, I could spend a good three seconds of thought and add another hundred names.

But, you know what?  Everyone deserves that freedom to express themselves.  Not just writers and singers and artists: athletes, and plumbers, and engineers, and astrophysicists….well, maybe not astrophysicists, those folks are freakin’ weird.  The point is: if you have an opinion, and sincerely held beliefs, it is not just your right, it is arguably your duty, to behave accordingly.  And it is manifestly NOT someone else’s job or right or duty to tell you to “shut up”.*

*And, before you ask (or yell): I fully realize that at-work and at-home are two different things.  I am trying to stay high-level and general in this post; I do not want to get into the briar patch complexity of when and where you are “allowed” to express yourself…

Once again, if you don’t like the message, don’t read, or listen, or watch.  It’s that simple.  Honestly, there are plenty of messages out there that I do not like, and therefore do not “consume”.  In the end, Person A cannot compel someone else to toe a specific line of belief or action.  But, just the same, Person B cannot compel someone else to agree with, or partake in, their beliefs or actions.

It really is that simple…and it really does go both ways.

No, the “command” to shut up and write (or sing, or play, or whatever) is one of the stupidest and most futile things imaginable.  If you don’t like the message, don’t read…or listen, or whatever.

Or, and let’s just try this on for size, YOU could shut up and try to at least envision another point of view.  You could try to understand, maybe even to learn.

Or you could live a bubble where the only voices you hear are those that agree with you.

What a miserable world — and life — that would be…and, sadly, pretty much IS right now.

Do you know what we call people who are utterly convinced that their every thought and opinion is 100% sanctified, righteous and correct?


And politicians.

But I repeat myself.

Some Village Out There Is Really Missing Me Right Now…

Not a writing post today.  Not a politics post, either, nor a space post, nor any other kind of useful thing.  Sorry, but I just don’t have it in me.

I don’t have it in me because…well…umm…pain really ain’t all that conducive to writing.  Not emotional pain — that’s great(ish) for writing — but pure, annoying physical pain.

idiotI managed to break a couple of toes the other day, and it sucks.  I’d love to come up with some great story about wrestling a bear, or jumping off a bridge to save a drowning kangaroo, or even just tripping down a flight of stairs, but the simple fact of the matter is…well…I’m an idiot.

I did it at hockey.  Okay, that sounds good, that’s a good start.  Err, well, the problem, you see, is…well…I wasn’t actually playing hockey.  That would’ve been just far too easy….and far less embarrassing.  Hell, I’ve broken a fairly significant number of things playing hockey, and pretty much all of those stories are entertaining as hell. There was the time my hand got stepped on by a skate…

But, nosiree, not this time.  There’s no hiding from the shame this time.

Nope, this time I was out on the ice early, just screwing around with a bunch of the high school kids after their practice.

I wasn’t wearing gear.  More importantly, I wasn’t wearing skates.

“Hey, the puck’s coming,” I thought, “I know, I’ll block it with my foot!  Wait, hang on, maybe I should rethink this…OOOOOWWWWW*!!!!”working-with-idiots1

Like I said: idiot.

*Err, there just might have been some four-letter words in there as well, but I’ll leave that to your imagination.

One of the guys I play with is a doctor.  When he got done laughing at me (definitely not with me), he tossed me a roll of tape and a couple of Advil.  “Have fun,” was the extent of his medical advice.

I got a text this morning from another of the guys about playing in a tournament.  Apparently my nickname has now become “Toes.”

I hate the entire universe right now.