Monthly Archives: May 2009

What Is Barack Obama Doing To Piss Me Off Today

I felt like I knew him, or at least knew what he was about. A bleeding-heart liberal whose compassion for human life would literally shake the foundations of U.S. policies, rising above and leading us out of the hard-line bullshit “No, We Can’t” actions and attitudes of a traditional, retarded bureaucracy. I guess that was Hope 2009; now we’re chewing the bitter fat of Reality.

Barack Obama

Don’t even try your charms on me Obama; best pack your things and go. And sheesh, get some Just For Men Gel while you’re out; first 100 days is puttin’ on the gray.
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Filed under Politics

The Definitive Experience

On certain rare and startling occasions, a person finds that her character is unexpectedly put to the test.  I term these unexpected crises “definitive experiences”.  In the midst of shock and chaos, a person comes to discover certain truths about herself, her values, and her gut instincts.  I believe that the “definitive experience”, as I define it, provides valuable insight into one’s character specifically because it is so sudden and startling that one’s reaction to it is purely instinctual.  Ethical concerns and the effects of one’s choices cannot be thoroughly weighed in such situations.  Thus, the crisis reaction exposes much about a person’s character and true nature which cannot be revealed in the day-to-day, premeditated decisions and choices that one makes. 

I’ve often pondered the lack of definitive experiences in my recent life.  For instance, while watching the first seasons of Lost, I found myself wondering whether I would behave more like the heroic Jack or the opportunistic Sawyer in a plane wreck situation.  I routinely ponder these thoughts anytime I’m viewing or reading about extreme experiences of any sort.  Like most people living in today’s cushy world, I don’t often have the opportunity to truly test my mettle, and to come to terms with my own strength of character, or lack thereof. 

These insights developed after a startling experience I had last weekend.  No, I did not suddenly find myself stranded on a deserted island, faced with the dilemma of rescuing injured survivors or hoarding their luggage.  My experience was far less dramatic than this, and yet it still revealed many valuable insights.

Memorial Day weekend found me camping on private land with my family and boyfriend.  We were in the process of setting up camp in the woods when I discovered a baby raccoon lying in the leaf litter a short distance from our pile of firewood.  Approaching the animal, I discovered that it was moving slowly and jerkily across the forest floor.  It appeared to be very weak and possibly injured, and its small body was covered with buzzing flies.  Its fur was thickly caked with fly eggs.  (I do apologize for the graphic nature of this description, but in exploring the event as a true definitive experience, it’s necessary that one understands how unpleasant a picture this truly was.  The story will continue along these lines, so it’s suggested that the squeamish stop reading now, before your stomachs are upset.)

My immediate reaction was to approach the baby raccoon, to attempt to help it.  This did not surprise me, for it seems I often encounter injured animals and move to rescue them.  My family members, however, acted as very vocal naysayers for the most part.  Only my brother understood my desire to help the animal.  I was urged to leave it alone, as it writhed about just feet from the site of our bonfire.  I was also repeatedly told that it would bite me.  I somehow knew that it would not, or could not.  It was too small, too weak, and too young.  Easily, I scooped it up with a towel and rushed off with it, to the protests of the majority of my family members and the horror of my boyfriend.

I suppose it should be said that parasites of any kind disgust me.  I am greatly disturbed by their very existence, and possess a somewhat irrational fear of them.  The sight of so many fly eggs encrusting the body of this tiny raccoon was therefore a horrific sight for me.  Nonetheless, without even bothering to set up camp, I headed back through the woods to the house.  I then began the process of attempting to rid the baby raccoon of her infestation.  Encouraged by her churring vocalizations, I kept working, with whatever materials I could find.  Repeatedly, family members approached me and urged me to stop what I was doing and come back to the party.  On several occasions, I was advised to abandon or euthanize the animal.  Looking at the baby raccoon wrapped in a blanket before me, euthanasia simply was not an option.  Fly eggs had filled one of her eye sockets, and both of her ears.  Quite possibly, I was fighting a losing battle.  Yet it seemed somehow ignoble just to give up because the animal’s suffering presented me with an inconvenience.  In fact, I was surprised that the others around me didn’t share my interest in attempting a rescue.  Doggedly, I continued trying to remove the parasites, focusing for a time on her affected eye.  I was surprised to discover a berry- black, healthy little eye beneath its layer of fly eggs, and I felt encouraged by her churring vocalizations and the sight of her bright gaze upon me.  It seemed to me that my focus somehow intensified and deepened, to the point where I was concerned only with the well- being of the animal.  All other concerns, even for the social enjoyment of the holiday, faded away.  Looking back, this surprises me.  I would not have expected that I could become so single- mindedly intense.

It was then that I discovered an awful fact: some of the maggots had hatched and were moving.  Wriggling horrifically in the baby raccoon’s ear canal were live maggots, as thin as threads.  Using tweezers and Q tips, I struggled in vain to remove them from the cavity.  Finally, I realized that I could not succeed.  I couldn’t get at some of the maggots, and they were pushing deeper into her ear canal.  Swallowing my pride, I realized I had to admit defeat.  I accessed the computer in the next room, and found a listing of wildlife rehabilitators in the area.  After speaking with a few of them, I found one who was willing to take in the baby raccoon.  She lived 45 minutes away.

My boyfriend drove my car, as I held the baby raccoon in its cage during the long drive.  As we reached her house, the wildlife rehabilitator headed toward us and took the animal in her arms.  Bringing her into her dining room, she immediately began working on her infestation.  I was very surprised to discover that the baby raccoon had no wounds of any kind.  The fly eggs were merely caked upon her fur, where they resembled a thick layer of sawdust.  Deftly, the rehabilitator stripped the eggs away with a fine toothed comb dipped in Murphy’s oil soap.  She used a saline solution in the raccoon’s ears, explaining that it caused the maggots to retreat out the ear cavity, where they could be collected with tweezers.  She placed the small animal on a heating pad and worked diligently, with a focus that rivaled my own, and a skill which clearly surpassed my clumsy, bungling efforts.  Here was a true master at work, and I observed her with rapt attention.  What a useful skill she had, the ability to save lives, and what an entirely selfless cause she had devoted herself to!  I admired this woman, and her devotion to the rescue and care of wild animals.  I wondered how I could learn to be more like her.  I watched as she administered antibiotics and a bit of Nutri Cal to her new patient.  Once she was certain that the maggots had been evicted from the baby animal’s body, she told me she would begin tube feeding her.  The little raccoon had clearly been abandoned for some time.  She was thin and weak, and her eyes, though bright, were sunken due to lack of nourishment.  The good thing was that she’d likely had all the fly eggs removed just as they’d begun to hatch.  Once they’re laid, the wildlife rehabilitator told me, they hatch within a matter of hours.

Returning to our campsite that evening, I felt pretty pleased with what we had done.  With luck, the baby raccoon would survive the experience, and I would have helped in saving her life, though I was now only responsible for a small part of the rescue effort.  I was relieved to have acknowledged that the situation was beyond the reach of my amateur abilities.  I hadn’t persisted in my own efforts out of pride, as I had done in the past.  After observing a true master at work, I was grateful for my humility.

Putting the experience behind us, we very thoroughly washed our hands and arms, and quickly prepared a dinner of veggie dogs with hummus and some fruit salad.  Afterwards, we enjoyed a family drum circle, like the woodland hippies we are.  Off in the distance all the while, I could hear a strong, monkey-like cry, which was very reminiscent of the cry that the baby raccoon had made when I wiped her head with a damp washcloth.  I realized there was another baby raccoon in the woods, not far from us.  I found myself wondering if it was tucked safely inside its nest, and if so, why was it wailing all through the night?

At around 1 am, I decided to return to my tent for a stick of the large outdoor incense I’d been burning.  With the incense in hand, I paused at the door to my tent, aware that the shrill, monkey- like shrieking seemed to be coming from very close by.  What if there was another baby raccoon out there dying, its body being consumed alive by maggots?  I had to make sure that this was not the case, because the alternative would fill me with horror and guilt in the morning.  After all, I reminded myself, fly eggs hatch in a matter of hours.  With my flashlight in hand, I turned and headed into the woods, following the sound of the shrieking animal.

It wasn’t long before I found it, another baby raccoon, in a similar condition to the first.  I wrapped it in a nylon bag and rushed back to the house.  I saw that the fly eggs were beginning to hatch on this unfortunate orphan.  However, it appeared as though his infestation was less severe.  Nonetheless, it would take a lot of work. 

I began the endeavor feeling fully energized and confident of my abilities.  I could do it, I thought eagerly.  I’d just seen how it was done!  Now, all I need are supplies, I thought, my mind racing.  I rushed around the house in search of substitutes for fine toothed combs, Murphy’s oil soap, saline solution, and heating pads.  Assembling these items around my new charge, I threw myself into the rescue effort.  However, it wasn’t long before I grew frustrated.  My makeshift supplies simply weren’t working as well as the rehabilitator’s.  Maggots were everywhere.  I found myself washing my hands constantly out of fear and revulsion.  What if they ate into this baby raccoon’s ears, I thought frantically?  They hatch in a matter of hours.  They hatch in a matter of hours!  As I struggled to control the infestation, the wildlife rehabilitator’s words echoed in my mind like a taunting refrain.  How many hours had it been since I discovered the first raccoon?  How many hours had this one lain like that, unattended, uncared for?  How many hours?  It was all a matter of hours.  The hours were all that mattered.  How many hours?  How many?

As anxiety overwhelmed me, I turned to my boyfriend, who was still standing firmly by my side, through all of my animal- rescue mania.  It was then that his own strength in the face of crisis became finally apparent to me.  No, he wasn’t the action man, leaping into the fray with tweezers and syringes of saline on the ready.  In truth, there didn’t need to be two of us frantically attending the baby raccoon.  His role in this crisis was to provide calm and patient support through my frenzy of activity.  Like yin and yang, our dynamic balanced itself.

Yet the baby raccoon’s condition was not abating.  My tools were simply not as effective as the rehabilitator’s had been, and we were a long way from the nearest 24 hour superstore… nearly as far as we were from the rehabilitator herself.  Hesitantly, I picked up the phone.  It was after 1 am… Slowly, I dialed her number. 

Much to my surprise, she was still awake and working on the first raccoon.  She invited me back over, and so my boyfriend and I hopped back in the car with our second orphaned baby and sped down the roads as quickly as we could.

Down one rural stretch of road, we came upon a large adult raccoon standing in the center of our lane.  In my exhausted state, I hit the accelerator instead of the brake, and we found ourselves racing toward the animal before I’d realized what happened.  We jolted forward, and then I slammed on the brake.  We lurched to a stop.  The raccoon simply stood there, entranced by our headlights, and regarded us for a long moment before slowly moving off.  The whole encounter felt very strange, like an omen of sorts.  I found myself wondering if I had passed the test Raccoon had set for me. 

Reaching the rehabilitator’s yet again, we watched as she tirelessly began a similar procedure for our second baby raccoon.  She seemed to feel that this one would fare better than the first, because he was larger and stronger.  We left that night feeling utterly exhausted and confused by the events of the long day, and the longer night, as well as greatly in need of a very long shower.

All through the following week, I found that I couldn’t shake the experience from my mind.  Did it have some sort of meaning, I found myself wondering?  Or was I merely being superstitious?  If I was living in a shamanic culture today, I would likely now believe that I possessed Raccoon Medicine.  I would feel that Raccoon had sought me out to offer its guidance after posing its series of tests.  Could that be the case even in today’s modern world? 

Ignoring for the moment the possible esoteric shades of the experience, and assuming that nothing has meaning at all unless we grant it, what deeper significance could I impart to this course of events?  Clearly, it taught me much about myself, my gut instincts, and my attitude in a crisis.  I also learned much about my relationship with my boyfriend through the ordeal we shared.  Furthermore, I learned that a person with natural inclinations such as mine ought to develop some degree of veterinary skill so as to avoid anxiety and the panic of inexperience.  I now feel proud of my actions, and the feelings behind them, but I can’t deny that I lack skill.  I therefore found myself inquiring about wildlife rehabilitation classes and volunteer work with our local park system.  In the interest of someday becoming exactly who I want to be, I think this would be an excellent idea. 

I feel that “definitive experiences” such as these can show us who we want to be, and what truly matters to each of us.  Without such shocking stimuli to spur us into action, many of us drift through life apathetically, never discovering a cause to devote ourselves to.  With last weekend’s events behind me, I find that my former apathy has dissolved, to be replaced by a new sense of ambition to become my ideal self.  This ideal self is someone strong and compassionate, someone whose determination and resolve truly matter, at least in the eyes of two baby raccoons.

Soahki  is a contributing writer for Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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Filed under science, Uncategorized

Land of the free and home of the brave (but only if you’re not gay)

 I’d like to start by clarifying something:  we do not live in a democracy.  I know.  You may have thought we did.  Let me clarify.  We do not live in a democracy.

We live in a republic.  It is a democratic republic, but it is a republic.

“I Pledge allegiance to the flag of United States, and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” 

[You’ve got to love the socialization of children :) ]

So in this republic, I think it sets a very dangerous precedent for us to allow referendums to take place wherein a majority strips rights from a minority.

I’m talking about many states’ ban on gay marriage.

Gay people are in the minority.  Most people are heterosexual.  Does that mean that we should allow the majority (heterosexuals) to strip rights (marriage) away from a minority (homosexuals)? 

I think that’s very dangerous.  What if the “sanctity of marriage” was between a man and a woman of the same race?  Would that be an acceptable restriction? 

We may not think so now, but ask that question of the majority 75 years ago (or less) and you may have gotten a different answer.

Additionally, there’s another problem I have with the legal basis of this ban.  We in the United States pride ourselves on our freedom of religion.  The law is supposed to show no preferential treatment of any religion.  “Congress shall make no law concerning an establishment of religion.”

Yet there are religions that will marry gay people.   Wiccan covens for one.  Unitarian Universalists for two.  Unity Church for three.  That’s just off the top of my head.  So what this ban is really saying is that the religions that will marry gay people cannot.  They are restricting a religion.  In the land of the free and home of the brave.

I only hope that the wonderful checks and balances of this country’s government bring this atrocity to light.  I’m hoping that the judicial system will eventually strike these bans down as unconstitutional.  I hope that we come to our collective senses.


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Filed under philosophy, Politics

10 Movies that Make You Think

This is my no means a definitive list of the Top 10 Most Philosophical Movies of All-Time (such a task would be impossibly subjective). It is, on the other hand, a list of excellent movies that will make you think much more than the ‘ordinarily’ run-of-the-mill Hollywood garbage. So please, queue these in your Netflix, or run to your local video store, because these films are excellent mind candy for the starving intellectual within us all.

10) Gummo (1997):

gummo131From the director of ‘Kid’s’ comes Gummo, a movie with a very similar laissez-faire/hands-off style of film making. This movie could easily be dubbed as a faux-documentary as it is shot in such a way that makes it appear as if an amateur film maker is wandering around with a high-end camera. The setting for the movie is in a small, poverty stricken and tornado torn Ohio town. The populous consists largely of ignorant white-trash types as they gallivant about the town partaking in mischief and debauchery. The movie itself is beautiful in an odd, cat-killing, baby shaking kind-of-way. A must see for anyone who enjoys bittersweet, impartial, existential flicks. There are many people who hate this film; I just don’t think they get it.

9) My Dinner with Andre (1981):

my_dinner_with_andre_xl_01--film-AThis simple yet strange movie takes place within a single scene. The premise: Two old acquaintances meet for dinner in a high class NYC restaurant. The characters: Wallace – a chubby, balding, yet practical man and Andre, an eccentric, world-traveling theater director. The end result is an entertaining romp through many topics over the course of a single meal where pragmatism ultimately squares off against romanticism.

8) Network (1976):


This groundbreaking and timeless classic denotes the media’s blood-thirsty approach towards achieving higher ratings at all costs. Enter Howard Beale, a washed up news anchor who is on the brink of insanity following his wife’s death. Howard’s on air promise to blow his brains out on next weeks show brings the station some of its highest ratings ever. The channel decides to keep him on, further exploiting his psychotic rage as his condition worsens by the week. If you’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take it anymore, then this movie is for you!

7) Requiem for a Dream (2000):


In a sense all movies are existential, as they all provide some lens into someone else’s world…but some movies just do it a lot better than others and Requiem for a Dream is one of those films. This mesmerizing jaunt through drug addiction examines both the innocence and ignorance in the lives of the characters. Then, all at once, their lives violently spiral out of control. The moviegoer can only stare in horror – popcorn still in hand, as an eerie game show shines its gloomy glow of death over a pill popping granny and a haunting melody casts its eternal shadow over the dreams of the youth. The film takes a nondiscriminatory look at drug addiction in a way that makes those with a heart empathize with the unfortunate junkie.

6) A Clockwork Orange (1971):


One of Kubrick’s finest films, A Clockwork Orange is a surreal yet visionary flick about a gang of hooligans that are always up for a bit of the good old ultra-violence. The movie finds a unique balance between being reprehensibly dark and laugh-out-loud satirical. Ultimately the film explores crime and punishment and the resulting implications on society as well as the individual’s psyche. Milk bar anyone?

5) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004):


Six years ago I never would have thought that a Jim Carey flick would make it onto a list of thought provoking movies, but atlas here we are – much to the chagrin of Ace Ventura fans everywhere. Superficially, Eternal Sunshine is a love story set to the back drop of a quirky sci-fi sub-plot. While the movie portrays all of the onscreen action in a poetically beautiful way, many people miss what I feel is the true purpose of the film. The film explores with brutal honesty, the frailty of human rationality when pitted against real, raw, and often times illogical and quixotic love. The audience is indirectly pitted against the following question: If you were to know before hand that your love for someone was going to fail, would you pursue it anyway? Eternal Sunshine answers this question with no punches pulled as hopeless romantics around the world eat it up, hook-line-and-sinker.

4) Fight Club (1999):


I have sort of a love-hate relationship with Chuck Palahniuk, the writer of the book “Fight Club”, which eventually turned into this epic film, but that’s beside the point. The film has developed sort of a cult following, and I must say that it’s one of my favorite movies of all-time. Looking past the blood-spattered basement brawls and Bob’s bitch tits, Fight Club is essentially a bad trip through our nihilistic hell. It’s deep, it’s entertaining, and Pahlniuks snappy one-liners will literally linger in your brain for years to come. This is the kind of movie that provokes both substantive thought and gripping emotion. If you’re not just a little pissed off at the system by the end of this movie… well, fuck you too!

3) Waking Life (2001):


Enough good things cannot be said about this film. Visually Waking Life resembles a Saturday morning cartoon…on acid. This isn’t a movie in the traditional sense; it’s more or less a series of odd philosophical conversations that our narrator gets thrust into, almost unwillingly. I like to think of this flick as a 90 minute romp/crash course through modern day philosophy. The flow of the film is brilliant, and the talking points are spot on. This film is highly recommended for those looking to get their feet wet in philosophy but don’t know what ideas to begin with.

2) American Beauty (1999):


Behind the facade of freshly cut lawns and clean white houses American Beauty shows the true colors of the suburbanites’ struggle – that is, finding meaning and purpose in a world that can be so ugly and hollow, yet dazzling and compelling all in the same breathe. This film, like an onion, has many layers. With each view one can gain increasingly more insight into the complexity of this brilliant narrative concerning modern life. American Beauty will always remain one of my favorite movies.

And now, the #1 most thought provoking film (drum roll, please)…

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Filed under Entertainment, philosophy

Gonzo Philosophy

Friday night in ‘Burque found five young friends kickin’ it to a slower groove, after security has busted up our party on account of someone else’s music. The host reclined, saddened by our communal loss, and consoled himself with a well-taken hit from a festively colored bowl. Sinking into a chemical calm, he found the serenity to accept that the evening could only improve from this dark chapter.




My friend stuffed his bowl in his pocket and answered the door. Two thugs, clad in black and sporting loaded weapons, further decimated the evening’s feel-good vibe by barging, sans invite, into the sanctity of a couple’s home.


“Where’s the weed, and whose smokin’ it?” one of the villains demanded, at which point the host surrendered his stash with a look of true defeat.


“Pretty low-grade,” the hooligan chirped mockingly, with a smugness so tacit as to bolster itself in its own presence.


“Yeah, we’re kinda broke, man.” the host lamented as they divested him of even this meager offering.


“If you’re so broke,” one countered, “why are you spending your money on weed?”


There was no pretense of respect: he had the gun, he had superiority; and he had the gall to enforce further mockery upon my beaten friend. Truly, this man was an ass of epic proportion.


“Either I’m addicted, or I just like it too much,” he replied, dejected and beyond defense. They left us then, to the pangs of poverty and buzzkill as the night wore on.


Now, the question we all have to ask ourselves is: is this the sort of behavior that we as a populace are willing to accept from officers of the law?


That’s right: la policia, Big Brother, the fuzz had entered an innocent man’s home and taken by force that which is, by the rights of morality, patriotism, and civil disobedience, his private property. If someone had done the same without a badge, I would have been well within my rights to take the fucker’s kneecap and watch him crawl on home; but because this act of theft was perpetrated behind the paternalist bully-system of America’s executive branch, such action would’ve seen me in fetters. What I wouldn’t have given for diplomatic immunity and a baseball bat.


I am not drawing this analogy to encourage violence against police. I do believe that, amongst the moralistic oafs and badged thieves that incite situations like this one, there are a good number of good cops. In point of fact, I may personally owe quite a bit to one in particular, who took the time and interest in the legal plight of a college kid to talk me out of throwing my future away on anger and vengeance. Be that as it may, I stand that, had I or any of my colleagues managed to break these individuals before they could fire, the action would have been both justified and courageous (if perhaps imprudent, from a survivalist perspective.) Before we blame the police, however, perhaps we must also blame ourselves.


We live in a democracy, a democracy in which many of us are attempting to regain faith. It is, in theory, the actions and ideas of a free people which will constitute our principles in the years to come, principles amongst which personally liberty is often cited, if only long enough to be discarded at the hands of an overtly Puritan and thankfully dying ethic.


If we speak of marijuana (and I stress, other drugs as well) as secretive or criminal, then an uneducated populace will necessarily come to view them as such. Give the people a bit of D.A.R.E. and fear-mongering, and the myths will all but propagate themselves. But if we our honest, with ourselves and our fellow citizens, then the volume of our outrage can only be amplified by the abuses which so tirelessly assail our common liberty.


I smoke marijuana. This does not make me, or you, or anybody else a bad person, and it does not give capitalist bullies on machismo trips just cause to violate the sanctity of our homes, the security of our interests, or the Fourth Amendment of our Constitution.


I wish here to speak in the promotion of freedom, and not of violence. But whatever anger failed to find my actions on that night must find our pens, our voices, and our spirits; lest the menace of paternalism run unchecked. If the government can waste our time, our money, and our lives on smoking guns, the average citizen should never be without recourse when the barrel’s pointed squarely at his own doorstep.

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Filed under philosophy, Politics

Murdering Mums

After encountering the “Kid found buried in playground,” headline last week about the death of a toddler I have been plagued by thoughts of similar stories like the all too recent Caylee Anthony case. Cases like these always linger in my mind, much like the Andrea Yates case where the Texas mother had drown her five kids in [the bathtub, correction made possible by contributing readers.] Just in case it was not recent enough for you to remember, Andrea received a verdict of not guilty due to insanity.

While it appears that Casey Anthony will receive a guilty verdict for the murder of her child, there is no telling what the sentence will be. It seems she may be subject to a heavier sentence since so much was done to conceal the body etc, but at what point to juries stop saying “This is so horrific a mother could never do this unless she was insane,” and consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe a sick demented horrible immoral woman gave birth to the child.

I can understand how horrified we all are when reading these headlines; maybe we all tend to lean towards insanity. Most of them certainly are unthinkable. If these crimes were committed by the fathers, would they be shown the same sort of leniency, or would they be demonized. My guess is on the later, as society tends to paint fathers as authoritarians and mothers as the doting idolizing coddling care givers.

For the most part insanity pleas frighten me because I think there are a lot of individuals who manipulate the system, the doctors, the judges, the juries, into buying into their insanity plea. As far as I am concerned, these bloody crimes against children are just not being addressed.

Every year hundreds, upon hundreds of kids go missing never to be found again. It’s disturbing to me that so many kids are not in safe households. It’s not just the parents, or bad mothers by any means. Look at Casey Anthony’s parents—they were well aware of what was going on. I even read in the New Mexico case that the mother’s parents supposedly kicked her out because she was not attentive and loving to her son. Is that possible? Would grandparents just remove the issue from their sight, clearly seeing a detachment with the mother—would there not be some sort of anxiety or fear that the child would not be properly cared for? I think perhaps the media took some liberties with that—but who knows.

To be honest—I am not sure where I was going with this. I know that I am greatly disturbed and very angry. I do have a few questions I want to throw out to you all.

1) If you were a parent—and your child committed a crime, would you turn them in to accept responsibility for that crime?

2) Do you think that sympathetic juries are letting mothers get away with murder?

3) What do you think should happen to parents who commit these crimes?

4) When insanity can be proven beyond reasonable doubt, what do you think penalties should be?


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Filed under philosophy, Politics

Thrown off by what you asked for

For Christmas, my parents – being more and more old fashioned as they age – decided to purchase a yearlong subscription for the “Funny Times” newspaper for me. So, once a month, I receive a paper that is entirely composed of comics, short funny (or intended-to-be) articles, and jokes. 

Now, personally, I don’t read the paper (for my news I go online; I’m not a fan of the paper usage; and I think the entire industry as a whole is outdated and ridiculous in the world of technology), but if I did, I’d probably only read the politics, science, and comics sections anyways… so the Funny Times, as gifts go, wasn’t a bad idea on my folks’ part.

What’s interesting to me about what I’m seeing in this comics-only paper I receive, is the somewhat sad lack of humor.

Let me break this up into a couple points:

  • My view on Humor; forced vs. spontaneity
  • The inclination of most humorists and comedic writers
  • The material out there to work with

Ok, first my thoughts on Humor. Let me begin by noting that I don’t consider myself a terribly funny guy in any way. Affected: I rarely am moved enough to laugh aloud, so what amuses me tends to make me smile or just noiselessly chuckle to myself. Affecting: I am just not a “funny” person – I have relatively few things about me that evoke laughter, I tend not to be (as an introvert) the “life of the party” and the guy cracking everyone up. If I make a joke, it tends to be dry, sarcastic, quick, somewhat quiet or as a side-note type… or some combination of those things.

But this is beside the point. Suffice to say, I’m not the stand-up type. But, that doesn’t mean that I’m not a fan of humor and, like most things in my life, I think about humor and what makes it good or bad, worthwhile or not. 

And my conclusion is that good humor – true humor that is the type to make me actually laugh aloud, is rarely pre-conceived or planned. Even comedic routines, which can have great stuff in them, tend not to move me in the way some small, funny thing that happens in my life might. It’s a difference of contrived vs. spontaneous/natural humor. One is prepared and delivered. The other evolves and might not ever be possible to replicate. And therein, I think, lies my enjoyment of it.

So, given this inclination of mine, you’d think I’d shy away from any forced humor… but this is not the case. As quirky and amusing as any ol’ day can be, I don’t mind some prepared material from time to time. Which brings me back to Funny Times and the authors/artists who comprise its material. What they are doing is the epitome of contrivance. They have to create humor, on demand, on routine, and sometimes on subject.

 Needless to say, this doesn’t sit well with me. But I get over it and try to enjoy anyways (often succeeding, I might add). One thing I’ve noticed, however, is that most humorists (comics people and article-writers alike) tend to wind up coming off on the left side of the political spectrum. Now, everyone can hate the banks – Repubs and Dems agree – but MOST of the Funny Times folks are pretty obviously left-leaning.

This is not a big deal to me – I lean left myself in many regards and while I am always interested in other views, there’s certainly some comfort in the mutual appreciation from relatively similar perspectives.

Humorists’ Materials
Which is what makes what I’m seeing so damn annoying. Essentially, they have nothing to write quips about. With Obama in office they can’t complain about the administration much. He may not being fixing everything with Miracle-Obama-Wash, but such a high percentage of people (last I read, like 65% I think) agree Obama’s doing well, that, coupled with the Humorists own inclinations towards the left, Obama is no source for amusement. 

Add to this that Dubya has been not just quiet as a figure, but supportive of Obama (and honestly, I have more respect for him because of this than maybe anything else he’s done as a political figure), and you have Dubya removed from Humorists’ ammo. 

Which leaves the somewhat (to my mind) comical Republican figures – Rush (whose polarizing effect will always relegate him to the fringe), Cheney (wasn’t he supposed to be just about dead with all his medical problems? Oh and yeah, we know you thought torture was ok – that’s why you did it… no need to re-iterate now that your time is done), and a slew of Republican Congressmen who, quite honestly, all blend together since none of them has yet to do anything that stands out beyond trying to block what Obama’s doing or to bitch about Pelosi.

Not great fodder for Humorists, honestly.

So what I’m getting at here, in a long way, is the affect of what’s going on in our world and how Humorists are dealing with it. Bashing or mocking the Republicans seems to be a big part of it, which is kind of like picking on the class idiot – you’ll get some chortles, but everyone’s a little worse from the experience since it’s not fair if the subject of your humor can’t seem to help it. Whining about the banks and bailout is all well and good, but how do you complain about it and not either tie it back to Dubya (who’s protected by his silence) or Obama (golden boy)? The result is a kind of vague displeasure mixed with sardonic musings which fail to really cut to the heart (or throat, if you want really good satire).

Alas, forced humor is suffering from a President who can compose not just sentences but thoughts and ideas! Alas, forced humor is bent to menial subjects like Father’s Day (and stereotypes of fathers), Graduation (and stereotypical jokes about young people who think they’re on top of the world), and vague subjects and ideas (the Economy, Banks and Bailouts, the Housing Market, etc.). Alas, will our country being in a positive-headed position be the death of decent contrived humor, or is the continued down-spiral of our educational system’s affects finally being seen in the lack of original, creative, amusing thoughts of the writers? Is there a problem with the humor in our country?


The question for Humorists now is this: what do you do with a world of things to find humor in, but none of the easy subjects as readily available?


davidrsheehan is a contributing writer for Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog. You can also tweet directly with him: davidrsheehan.

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