Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Some People Just don't Get it...
Read this:

And then read this:
Ho-hum, yet ANOTHER attempt to put political spin upon the LOTR....

Well, as I've always said, this is the kind of story you could wrap around whatever polemic is in the fevered imagination. Is it allegory --- the modern (WWI and WWII) world Tolkien found himself in magically transported to Middle Earth? Is it Icelandic saga, with heroic men facing a dangerous world with the hopes of creating something akin to paradise? Is it historical/mythological amalgam --- Aragorn as Charlemagne, Frodo as Percival, Gandalf as Merlin, Saruman as Mussolini, Sauron as Hitler/Stalin/Mao/Pol Pot, etc.? Or is it a lament for the England that once was --- pastoral and threatened by polluting industry and overbearing, socialist government (ala Orwell)? Is it Catholic dogma transferred to a fantasy setting --- the continuing struggle between good and evil, temptation and faith, redemption in the name of a greater power? Even Gollum, in the end, can be considered a martyr to the cause.

The point is that there is so much going on in this tale, that one could make anything one wanted to out of it. However, to somehow link a really good story to American foreign policy is a stretch, at best, even if the arguments do in fact, make some kind of sense.

First problem I have with this analysis is that the author sounds as if he believes that there is a cabal of "elites" (their political affiliation, for these purposes, means nothing), sitting around in smoky back rooms, figuring out how to "mobilize the mob" to their advantage or, at least, to fufill their whims. Horsebagels. Yes, we do live in an age where public opinion is malleable because of the media, but the author seems to be implying that there is some sort of conspiracy afoot. If we follwed this chain of logic then you have to believe any or all of the following:

- George Bush ran for President precisely to instigate a war (to atone for Daddy's sins).

- 9/11 was a rational response by a rational people to a clear and present danger (defined as Western culture threatening the Islamic order) and America (or the West in general) was to blame for it. In that sense, we got off cheap with 3,000 dead in New York and should be sufficiently chastized. We should apologize for being "insensitive" or "ignorant" (when we have no clear idea of just how we offended in the first place), take our just desserts and promise to sin no more.

- That a country that has the capability to wipe the Middle East off the map in nuclear holocaust, but doesn't, must somehow be morally inferior to people who believe killing innocents at work, at pizzerias or on public transport is legitimate political discourse.

- That the story itself might have had such an effect on said "elites" that they have psychotically transported themselves into it (Rumsfeld as Gandalf, Bush as Aragorn, Colin Powell as Frodo), and are acting it out. Sort of how college students used to play Dungeons and Dragons, for real.

- That Americans actually know or even care so much about the rest of the world that we're willing to send our sons and daughters overseas so that we might kill people and steal their land, resources, etc. In that case, we didn't need a 9/11 as an excuse, did we? I'm sure 9.5 out of 10 adults in this country couldn't find Iraq, Afghanistan, or maybe even Canada or Germany, on a map.

According to this author, we have a bunch of loony elites, influenced by a fantasy story organizing and running a conspiracy to enslave the world in the name of republican democracy? If I have to point it out, in Middle Earth, Saruman would not allow anti-war protests. Boromir would not sport a "No Blood for Oil" T-shirt, Arwen would not carry a sign declaring "Hands off of My Bush", Eowyn would be home barefoot and pregnant, wrapped in a burqa in Afghanistan, and Hobbits (in general) hadn't even a clue as to what was transpiring in the world at large. Until it directly affected them Then it took a few brave, informed ones to realize a danger which threatened them all and to take measures to prevent it.

If you're trying to make sense of what happened to this country, and how we're reacting to it, let me try to explain my point of view:

A bunch of nasty, crazy, desperate, degenerates, steeped in 7th century ideology, laboring under a religious system that would make a committed communist green with envy, and with nothing approaching a free market (economically or intellectually) have decided that since they are incapable of solving their own problems, that someone else must be responsible and held accountable. In psychology, we call this transferrance.

You may not agree with a "War on Terror" or even agree with where it takes us, but does that mean we have to invent conspiracy theories or attribute Caesar-like motives to people in order to explain it all?

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Assholes are where ya find 'em...
Got into an interesting online "argument" with a gentleman from New Orleans. He was bragging on how Mardi Gras is such a heck of a party and how everyone should make time to go at least once in their lives. As if New Orleans was Jerusalem or Mecca and pilgrimage should be mandatory. I told him that I live in New York, and if I want to see 20,000 naked drunks roaming the street all I would have to do is go to Times Square on New Year's Eve and get my fill. Or maybe if they ever have a free beer day at Yankee stadium.

The gentleman conveyed his regrets that I live in such a rotten place as New York City (and to a certain extent, I agree with him), but then he went too far; he claimed that New York was full of assholes, to which I replied, "we're okay, it's the rest of ya that are assholes."

The other Southerners in the chat room took it as a personal assault, but let me clarify my position for you a bit. New Yorkers would not:

1. Smash fuel-laden aircraft into office towers.
2. Fly across the country to visit the smoking ruins with six tons of camera equipment, a camcorder and his wife and kids in tow.
3. While burdened with said wife and kids, ask for directions to said smoking ruins from traumatized citizens because he cannot read a map, spot a plume of smoke and follow it, or find a 19 acre hole in the ground without expert advice.
4. Try answering some moron from Inbred-Hillbilly, South Carolina's request for said directions three to five times a day (on average).
5. New Yorkers know enough not to walk without looking in front of you to see where you're going. You can spot a tourist a mile away around these parts; she's the one with her neck lifted so high that there is a straight line from chin to throat. These people usually get run over by by busy New Yorkers on the pavement because they happen to be in the way. For this, we're considered rude.
6. New Yorkers can actually give directions without references to number of lamp posts, mailboxes, shopping centers and bowling alleys to found along the way.
7. REAL New Yorkers do not live in Manhattan. Only the pretentious ones do. We work and occasionally party in Manhattan and we know that is not the city as a whole.
8. New Yorkers do not have to give the name of their city when someone asks "Where are you from?" Upstaters regularly append the name of their city (as in "I'm from Buffalo, New York) so as not to be tarnished by the assumption that they are from "the city". Outsiders and tourists will proudly do the same, assuming that New Yorkers a) can find the place their talking about and b) actually care.
9. We know how to drive. We do not make right turns from the left lane (New Jersey drivers are famous for this), require jughandles, straddle lanes (Massachusetts drivers, aka Massholes), tailgate, try to jump speed bumps, we can drive in snow, know how to use directional signals and never back up on expressways because we missed our exit.
10. Know how to leave people alone. It's a survival technique around here.
11. We can never figure out how in a city where avenues run north-south and streets east-west, how anyone can get lost.
12. Do not believe everything we see on television as indicative of how things actually work around here.
13. We know the New York Times is full of shit.
14. Can navigate a subway system. How hard can it be when all the trains run on TRACKS? Not like they're making turns crosstown or something.
15. Can handle a cab driver that doesn't speak English because most of us don't either.
16. We know the difference between the "You've got to be kidding me" stare and the "Get lost before I kick your ass" stare.
17. Never fall for the "Beware of Pickpockets" sign trick.
18. New Yorkers know that when a menu says "Eggs, bacon, toast and juice" that we cannot switch the bacon for sausage. That's a different menu item filed under "Eggs, sausage, toast and juice". Just because bacon is cheaper doesn't mean you can order the sausage at the bacon price.
19. New Yorkers can cross a street without a crossing guard, or running for their lives, even against a light.
20. New Yorkers NEVER attempt to pet stray dogs, feed squirrels or pigeons and are used to seeing rats the size of small beavers just about everywhere they go.

For all of the bad things about New York, it's still a great place to be. We just wish the rest of you wouldn't pollute it with naivete and then call us assholes.
We have our share of them, for sure, but yours are prize winners.