30 September 2011

The Heroin of Praise

If improv stand-up comedy was my schtick, I'd want to be the warm up act. I'd want to be the warm up act because the laughs are real. By the time the featured act appears on stage, the audience is so liquored up they'd laugh at a knock-knock joke featuring an orange.

Imagine a scenario where, whatever your profession is, the only strokes you get for exquisite craftsmanship are a smattering of guffawing clowns predisposed to heap praise on you in a flurry of incoherent, slurred speech. What if after praising you, the admirer fell backwards because of the micro-gusts generated by a moth flapping it's wings two continents away...apparently with enough momentum to bust out some hairline cracks in a glass pane window?

The point is, as a craftsman, you'd never know if you're shit was good because your critics are pathetic, sloppy drunks.

I write poems that are mostly unread. I am an unashamed poetry hack. As ego-centric and self-absorbed as my poems tend to be, two or three times in the past 30 years, thoughtful people have praised my efforts. Something in the poems resonated -- which is enough to sustain me. I wouldn't last 2 weeks as a featured stand-up comic let alone 30 years like Emo Philips. If I delivered two hours of zany, off-the-charts creative comic energy only to be praised after my show by a pathetically drunken douche bag, then unless rock-bottom has a secret trap door, I'd off myself with hemlock tea.

I understand the heroin that praise is. I seek it. I yearn for it. I am irreversibly addicted to it. And it makes me feel weak to know that. Few experiences in life provide more of a head buzz than making people laugh. I understand the courtesy laugh. I understand the belly laugh. Now I understand immensely hollow and dissatisfying nature of drunken laughter.

17 September 2011

On The Backs of Others

The US is the only country whose institutions of higher learning host high-revenue sporting events. Major NCAA sports in the US comprise a cesspool of unseemly capitalism.

An archaic rationalization for these unseemly collegiate enterprises is the delusional sentimentality of Roman poet Juvenal's classical ideal of
Mens sana in corpore sano—a sound mind in a sound body.
In Atlantic article The Shame of College Sports, Taylor Branch writes,
Corporations and universities enriching themselves on the backs of uncompensated young men, whose status as “student-athletes” deprives them of the right to due process guaranteed by the Constitution—is to catch an unmistakable whiff of the plantation.
Student-athletes are given lottery tickets with a chance to make millions. NCAA athletes at major universities are not slaves. If collegiate athletes don't find donating their time to the university sports enterprise to their liking, they are free to leave their sport and leave their studies behind — albeit to join the long lines of the unemployed.

Branch also writes,
The tragedy at the heart of college sports is not that some college athletes are getting paid, but that more of them are not.
Mens sana in corpore sano is a noble ideal, but let's cut the shit. Corporations enrich themselves using free labor. Student-athletes should be paid a suitably proportional wage via a collective bargaining agreement between the university and the athlete.

13 September 2011

Milkshake God

Yesterday September 12 was
National Chocolate Milkshake Day 
Today September 13 is
Defy Superstition Day
I hereby resolve to stop diefying chocolate milkshakes.

11 September 2011

Holy Shit on a Ski-doo

The first and perhaps only sign of intelligence from Republicans came not from Romney, not from Hunstman, but from bat-shit crazy Sarah Palin.

The New York Times headline Some of Sarah Palin's Ideas Cross the Political Divide made me think another fair-and-balanced journalist was trying to chap my hide with progressive-baiting.

But I was wrong.

My Palin Epiphany

She's dumb as a box of sled parts. She disgusts you with her self-righteous animosity toward intelligent life. But...
Sarah Palin makes three important points that comprise the most cogent analysis of the US political climate I have read since Bill Bradley retired from the Senate:
  1. The US is governed by a permanent political class cut off from the concerns of regular people.
  2. Both parties have allied with big business to mutual advantage.
  3. The political divide in the US are the friends and foes of unaccountable public and private institutions.
There isn't a progressive, centrist, or right wing ninny who could credibly argue against those three points.

Holy shit on a ski-doo. Palin for Cub Scout Den Mother!

Crawling Back to Even

For much of my professional life I have been leery of the so-called global economy.

The phrase global economy sounds hopeful, but is worthy of your skepticism.

The global economy has become a red flag. In recent years many of us have fretted about the sacrifices required by a global economy.

When someones says global economy, what I hear is:
I want to give away your living wage job to someone willing to do it for less, so that I can make more money for myself on the back of some poor schmuck.
I am cynical when it comes to the global economy mantras I hear. Many of these mantras are spoken from the exclusive clubs of concentrated wealth. For the US, NAFTA started the floodgates.

It is time to reverse the outpouring of living wage jobs from the US. Some legislation protecting living wage and decent salaried jobs makes sense -- if your concern is for quality of life for you and your neighbor.  One place to start is with high-tech advanced manufacturing.
The prospect of good manufacturing jobs in the United States is not a fantasy. Germany and Japan enjoy high wages and run major surpluses in manufactured goods; so can we. Our economy will thrive only when we make what we invent.
~Susan Hockfield, MIT President
How does the US crawl back to an economic system that makes sense for people? In the industrial age, the mantra was to increase productivity. Technological advances have given us so much leverage on productivity, it has become irrelevant. Many living wage jobs have disappeared because of technological changes (e.g., email replaced the need for most mail delivery).

How does the US manufacture a recovery? How does a nation of people brought to its knees by anti-people, pro-corporation policies crawl back to even?

05 September 2011

The Ruse of Change

Waiting impatiently for Canadian air - the drier, fresher air periodically predicted to replace the Gulf air that hijacks Minnesota in the summer - has become a bit of a red string for me.

But I don't believe in fate. I'm from the dumb luck school. I listen to weather reports. I hope for the best, then I bet my happiness on the false promises that pass for credible forecasts.

Breaking a sweat while walking to the Grandview to see the movie The Help, I griped to my spouse
So much for the Canadian air. I'll believe it when I see it...I mean, FEEL it.
The Canadian air, if it arrives at all, arrives 24-48 hours after its predicted arrival. This time, the much anticipated Canadian air finally arrived while we were cooling ourselves inside the Grandview watching The Help.
Empiricism is inadequate because scientific theories explain the seen in terms of the unseen and the unseen, you have to admit, doesn’t come to us through the senses.
David Deutsch
The Help was a flick that made me blubber, not because of the prospect of returning to the sweat box outside, but for all the injustice and the hate-laced ignorance humans are accustomed to enduring and dishing out.

Change happens. Change is inevitable. But it's also fickle and slow. It's one thing to believe it when you see it. It's another thing to rest assured change will arrive in due time.

The ruse of Canadian air was contrived to keep the Minnesota's knowledge workers from picking up stakes, moving their tents, and working remotely from the Canadian Rockies.

The ruse of cultural change is that it just arrives like fresh air without putting in the endless work to change people's minds.

04 September 2011

Nincompoop Nation

I can't recall a time when I thought beauty pageants were normal.
Gary Collins asked one Miss America finalist:
"What's your favorite part of the pageant?"
"Lunch," she replied.
At least this contestant was honest, rather than a bold-faced, audience-appeasing liar.

This video documents the repulsive Kool-Aid of appalling ignorance and ambition.

We're to blame. The US has devolved to a society so detached from the truth, so divorced from critical thinking, so mired in inane religiosity, and so fearful of loud-mouthed, violence-prone right wing ninnies that our beauty pageants ask the wrong fucking question.

The question is NOT
Should evolution be taught in schools?
rather it's
Should creationism be taught in schools?
We are a society that is being destroyed by decades of popular anti-intellectualism.