Nothing You Can Know That Isn’t Known

[1] If you don’t know me very well, you’d think I’m exactly the type of person who would hate Valentine’s Day.

But I don’t.

Actually, I kind of like it.

I like seeing the explosion of red and pink hearts in store displays. I like the chocolate-heavy array of confections for sale. I like the idea of celebrating love for love’s sake.

Of course, I don’t think anyone should feel obligated to recognize it or acknowledge it, and I feel bad that it makes my fellow single people feel lonely.

I do take issue with the idea from popular media and advertisers and basically every movie I’ve ever seen that we aren’t fully validated as human beings unless we’re in a romantic relationship. Of course, that’s just wrong. And the fact that people don’t realize that it’s wrong is way more troubling to me than watching Savannah Guthrie interview someone on The Today Show about last minute gift ideas. (Really, I don’t have 95% of the problems that most people do because I’m happily and much better off alone.)

But I also take issue with the people who use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to rail against capitalism and commercialism. Because there are threads of capitalism in everything, and I think I mean that literally. And, yes, the economy is fake, and, yes, globalization is kind of alarming when you think about it too hard. But I like being able to eat avocados all year round and talk to people on the other side of the world through the internet, so I deal with it. And, frankly, I sleep pretty easy at night.

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Whistle Blowin'

I don’t usually write poetry, but I scribbled this out last night and thought I’d share:

Whistle Blowin’

Everyday I see
Trains pass,
And I think about
Hopping on,
Like a traveler
With a knapsack
On his shoulder,
To take me away
From here.

Toward Perpetual Progress

According to the Forbes 400, the net worth of the richest Americans has decreased $300 billion over the past year. The ten richest Americans lost $39.2 billion. Bill Gates alone lost $7 billion and is now only worth a paltry $50 billion.

On the one hand, this is an obvious indication of the economic slump that has occurred over the past year.

On the other hand, I cut my own hair because I can’t afford to shell out $12 (+ tip) at Mastercuts.[1]

I could lament about the obscene gap between rich and poor in this world.[2] One needn’t leave this country to find people living in abject poverty and working people at that.

But what interests me more is the following question: What would human beings do if our notion of “progress” didn’t include “profit” as in its current conception?

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We Believe in Nothing, Lebowski!

Note: I have to give credit where credit is due. This is kind of in reaction to Ryan’s blog. His question was why do people bother to call themselves agnostic? It seems like one of those PC labels that people use when they don’t want to say that they are atheists, because it “offends” people if you tell them you don’t believe in god. Oh, and I’ve given up on censoring all my foul language. You can blame John Goodman.

Now, at various points in my life, I have been accused of being (among other things) a nihilist, and it’s highly likely that my beliefs do fit under certain definitions of nihilism.

Nihilism can refer to different things. It can mean that values do not exist but are invented OR specifically that there are no moral values OR that life itself is without meaning or purpose.

And on some days[1] I likely fit under the first, definitely under the second, and probably under the third.

But can you really be a full-blown, believe-in-nothing nihilist?

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Feel the wrath of the left hand of Burns!

In honor of International Left-Handers Day, I give you:


Damned infernal gizmo. My kingdom for a left-handed can opener!
-Mr. Burns

It’s all here, and it’s all backwards!
-Homer Simpson, hyping the Leftorium

Left-handed ledgers! Now I can write all the way to the edge!
-Chuck Ellis (from the Springfield Collection Agency)

Ha ha ha. Left-handed nunchucks!

Note: All quotes from The Simpsons Episode 7F23: When Flanders Failed.

The Clinton Effect

I feel like I should say something about this.

You’ve all seen the video of Hillary Clinton telling a student in Kinshasa, Congo that she doesn’t know what former President Bill Clinton’s view is on a Chinese loan offer to the government of Congo.  (See the video on Mark Riley’s site.)

People are criticizing Secretary of State Clinton for snapping, not being poised, even for having a “meltdown.”[1] People are also defending Secretary Clinton by claiming that she was jet-lagged, tired from traveling, etc.

Neither of these responses is very helpful.

First of all, so what if her tone was a little rude by uber-sensitive American standards? Claiming that she was tired might be understandable, but it trivializes the real issue.

Second of all, ignore the fact that the question was translated incorrectly and the student was actually asking about President Obama and that it was sorted out later, because Secretary Clinton didn’t know that at the time. She didn’t say this exactly, but she’s right: Former President Clinton’s view on this issue is completely irrelevant. She is the Secretary of State. She represents our nation on these matters. To ask her for the opinion of the President (or a former President) is to not recognize her as a diplomat.

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And I Feel Fine

I saw a story today on a morning “news” program about the new wave of survivalists that has sprung up in response to the current state of the economy.  Now I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next person (actually probably more so).  Among my favorites are Apollo Moon Landing hoaxes, the Illuminati, and the Freemasons. I admit that I am tempted to buy into some of these theories, and frankly, I’m not really set on a line between fiction and reality.

But come on people, have a little faith in the machine.

These survivalists are stockpiling years’ worth of food in their homes in case the economy collapses, leaving the world in complete and utter chaos.  One family even had a year’s worth of water purification tablets so they could drink their swimming pool water.

I don’t have a lot of faith in humanity (individuals – yes, the collective – no) but the last thing that is going to cause a post-apocalyptic, Mad Maxian world to suddenly erupt is the economy.  Nuclear holocaust? Sure.  Giant meteor crashing into Earth? Maybe.[1] Global warming? Eventually.  But the economy?  Never.

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