Monday, December 14, 2009

In the Culture of the Absurd

German man floors pensioner,
steals his shopping cart. Oldster
retaliates by attacking with a salami.

Little did I know that my golfing idol, Tiger Woods, was not only going after Jack Nichols record of 18 major tournament wins, he was apparently also going after Wilt Chamberlain’s (exaggerated and unobtainable) record of 2000 sexual liaisons. Can you imagine how much money Tiger could make endorsing something like Viagra or Cialis? I saw today somewhere that Tiger’s conquests now stand at l6. I have no idea if this is true, no idea what all was involved, and, in fact, I don’t care. I promise here and now I will no longer mention Tiger Woods and sex together forever.

But speaking of absurd things, does no one appreciate how absurd it is that only one Senator, by himself, can potentially block health care reform for millions of his fellow citizens. Joe Lieberman is threatening to do just that, and his fellow Democrats are apparently going to let him get away with it. Rather than negotiate with him they should move his office into some convenient latrine, take away his Chairmanships, refuse to talk to him, and, if that doesn’t work, run him down the Senate steps tarred, feathered, and completely disgraced. Given the fact that Lieberman has done a complete about face more than once when it comes to this health care business, I suspect he may actually be crazy. Only a complete and total jerk could possibly bask in the negative attention he is getting. He seems to thrive on it.

Another absurdity of our Culture of the Absurd here in the U.S. was revealed tonight by Rachel Maddow. It seems there are seven states in which it is written into their state constitutions that atheists cannot hold public office. Ignore for the moment that this is entirely unconstitutional, as the constitution says clearly no religious tests can be required for holding office, and think of the fact that this represents a world view somewhere on the level of the Cro-Magnons (no, this probably does even them a disservice). Religious beliefs of this kind seem to be widely held in the U.S., far more than in any other industrialized nations, and can exist only because of an educational level akin to that of the Afghans (who are said to be only about 8% literate).

We traveled to Coeur d’Alene to do some business and Christmas shopping. As I predicted it was hideous, with that awful music being played everywhere and shoppers apparently oblivious to each other, shoving and pushing, grabbing and lining up like a bunch of idiots to buy mostly Chinese junk. I was struck again on the way by just how much storage has become big business in the U.S. There are huge storage facilities being built everywhere, as if there is no end to the demand. I guess everyone has to have a place to stash the junk they buy at Christmas. As I have observed previously, there is something very wrong with a culture that requires so much storage.

My wife prepared beef cheeks for the first time. I found them to be quite delicious, although I could see nothing in them that set them aside very importantly from most other cuts of beef. I guess their emergence in some of the more upscale or trendy restaurants lately probably has more to do with the novelty than with the taste. Food in general in the U.S. is another example of the absurdity of our culture. Fast foods predominate, along with obesity, and the apparently completely lost appreciation of dining. It seems like the easier something can be prepared, and the faster, the more appealing it is to most consumers. This goes hand in hand with corporate farming, genetically modified foods, and a diet that consists now mostly of corn that has to be subsidized to be grown. One of the great paradoxes of our time, it seems to me, is how can it be that our food and eating habits grow progressively worse at the same time we are living longer (of course we don’t live as long as many other people who eat much healthier foods, but we are living longer than we used to). I think this has to be the result of health care, but, then, as so many do not have health care, this would not seem to be a very good explanation. I shall have to look into this more carefully.

It is very difficult to know people and I don't think one can ever really know any but one's own countrymen. For men and women are not only themselves; they are also the region in which they are born, the city apartment or the farm in which they learnt to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives' tales they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they attended, the sports they followed, the poets they read, and the God they believed in. It is all these things that have made them what they are, and these are the things that you can't come to know by hearsay, you can only know them if you have lived them.
W. Somerset Maugham

When cooking octopus, remember it will shrink to less than half its original size.

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