Click LIKE if you’d rather have a shirt or jacket pointed at you, rather than a gun.
Wes first discovered earplugs by happenstance; he’d needed them to shut out the mumbling television conversations that came through the wall he shared with his anonymous neighbor that never went to sleep. The earplugs were a balance—détente. That’s where it started.
Somewhere along the line, Wes decided to take the earplugs out of the bedroom. They were tremendous at blocking background noise when he needed to concentrate on a project. From that start, it seemed that he’d been missing out on a major aid to accomplishment. Wes was now getting more things done, in less time, and with much greater precision.
The world was becoming a bright and intense place—completely new. Without the mask of sound, the true pleasures, pains, motives of people, and purpose of objects became more than apparent—obvious. Movies changed: actor’s expressions, the little glances unnoticed before, the director’s choice of camera angles, the cinematographer’s selected depth of field, all told a story that was so much more than the weak utterances of dialogue that had always tried to convey reality but mostly just got in the way.
The plugs he bought from the drugstore chain were okay—for beginners—but they did let in some noise. At first, when the quiet was new, Wes didn’t notice. Eventually, the tiny amounts that leaked in began driving him crazy. He learned of other sources, sources where plugs that provided real protection from the dangers of sound could be obtained. He found an ad, buried deep in a magazine for gun collectors, which promised earplugs with the power to stop bullets. The silence was incredible—at first.
Wes trained himself to speak and understand sign language, the private communication of the deaf. He envied their world, a place where permanent silence was never breached by requests for removed earplugs, because there were no earplugs to expect to be removed. For the naturally deaf, others accepted their silent wall, but not for Wes. People could see the plugs, and would make very little effort to understand him enough to translate words into the gestures he preferred.
Eventually, even the earplugs designed to hide the explosions of gunshots became as useless as cotton stuffing. The least of sounds—a person walking and talking on a cell phone on the street outside, a car radio from an open window waiting for a green light at the intersection—became as annoyingly loud as the steady tock-tic of a clock after it was noticed in a room. But, stronger solutions could be found.
There are stores—many towns have them—where military goods can be purchased. Most of the stuff on display, manufactured specifically for collectors, is useless. Wes didn’t bother with the shelf of cardboard boxes that displayed the various colors of commercially rated ear protective devices. Here, wasn’t anything that he hadn’t tried before. He walked to the back of the store. A fat man, sporting a thick gray beard, sat in an old stuffed chair with cracked upholstery. He had a large dog at his feet. The dog took about two seconds notice of Wes, decided he was no threat, and rested his head back on the fat man’s sandal.
The man saw his earplugs right away, and took no effort to speak with Wes. In the same way that Wes didn’t hear, it wasn’t in his nature for the fat man to move: all the things he appeared to need were within his reach, next to his chair at the back of the store. Immediately, he changed his mind about the first box he’d grabbed, replacing it on the low shelf and taking up the one next to it. This second box, he put into Wes’ hand.
The manufacturer hadn’t bothered with marketing, beyond an old-fashioned, dull, logo in silver script, embossed across the red ribbed-paper lift-off box cover. Inside, the two—if you were white—flesh-colored plugs rested on die-cut indents in basic black foam. They gave gently as Wes applied pressure, but substantial form and a resistance to his squeeze indicated superior strength over any of the hundreds of inferior attempts now stored throughout the drawers in his apartment. These were earplugs designed to hold away the sound of an exploding land mine—or a field of them—and let the wearer still keep his wits. He handed the fat man his credit card without asking a question; these were worth any cost.
Now, the world had lost all its noise. The horns of cars were gone, the motors too. Everything in the world floated, gliding on air without friction. Wes no longer suffered blocked thoughts, or distracted concentration. His mind flooded with ideas and observations. Television, with its mind-numbing chatter and enhanced laughter tracks, had nothing to offer. Wes started to read more. He started with all the books he’d ever meant to read. Once he went through those, he took up the ones he never thought he’d have the time to get to. After that, he read the books he always never cared to. After that, he started through them all again.
It continued this way for years. Wes spent hours walking in the park, observing. He took his vacations in places of great beauty, or visual hostility, looking always for the thrill of experience, and the chance to expand in the luxury of his brain. He no longer pretended—pointing to his ears and shaking his head—to be deaf when people spoke to him. He ignored them, and every stupid thing they had to say.
Phones didn’t ring. Motorcycles were as quiet as drifting clouds. The waves of the turbulent Pacific Ocean crashed against the rocky coastal beach in violent peace. The world was as beautiful as Wes had ever known it.
But the bitch that is the ear won’t give up: his, stubbornly refused to accept imposed silence. In time, it adjusted. In time, it began to filter out from the silence, noise. Deep in the background, the noise was still there; in time, his ears brought it back.
Wes returned to the store where he bought the two little plugs that had given so much pleasure. The fat man, or one like him, was still at the back of the store, the disinterested dog still at his feet—the boxes, still at his side. He didn’t offer a box this time; both Wes and he knew that there was no need. Plugs were perfunctory tools for the uncommitted novice, from whose ranks few would take the last step. The fat man obtained a glass tube—a vial—from somewhere, and handed it to Wes in exchange for his plastic card.
Watching himself in the bathroom mirror of his apartment on Leavenworth Street, Wes tilted his head to let the liquid—half of what came in the glass tube—slide down into the first of the offending canals. Much to his surprise, it didn’t sting in pain: a thousand tiny hairs were tickling him with pleasure. It took only minutes until the tickling stopped, the sensation of feeling was gone, and the ear was gloriously mute. He tilted his head to the other side, and completed his transformation into a butterfly.
Here’s a few pat answers for the modern politician faced with stupid questions from the press (and some suggestions for answers with a reality check):
Q: Have you ever smoked marijuana?
A: I tried it once, in college; I didn’t like it.
(Better Answer: You’re asking me to admit to doing something that I’ve put people in prison for, are you nuts?)
Q: To what do you attribute your successful marriage?
A: Mutual respect, wonderful kids, and faith in God.
(Better Answer: I know how to password-lock my cell phone.)
Q: What do you say to the rumors that you’re having an affair?
A: I am not having an affair.
(Better Answer: I am not having an affair at this very moment.)
Q: What’s your response to the evidence revealed about your affair?
A: I’ve already apologized to my wife and family, and ask that the people who put their faith in me and elected me to office will be able to forgive me as well.
(Better Answer: Damn, I wish I’d read my cell phone manual.)
Q: Do you believe in God?
(Better Answer: I’m trying to get elected, dude.)
Q: What do you consider the most important issues?
A: Better education for our children, energy independence for our grandchildren, lower taxes for all struggling Americans, and reduced unemployment in our cities.
(Better Answer: Cutting public school funding, off-shore drilling, lower taxes for my friends, and even more Wal-Mart stores.)
Q: Do you support healthcare reform?
A: I want all Americans to have the best healthcare in the world.
(Better Answer: My healthcare will always be way better than yours—always.)
Q: Is it true that you’re a smoker.
A: I started when I was young, but I’m in the process of quitting.
(Better Answer1: No. Better Answer2: Yes.)
Q: Will you resign in the face of these allegations against you?
A: I will not comment on the allegations except to say that they are politically motivated and I will fight until the end to do the job my constituents elected me to do. (Better Answer: My attorneys are working out the details with the Department of Justice right now. Once I’m sure I won’t get prison, I’ll quietly leave government for a higher paying private sector job.)
Q: You’re behind in the polls, why do you think that is?
A: I personally don’t put stock in the polls because a lot depends on how the questions are phrased. There are some polls that have us behind, and others showing us in the lead. I’d rather leave it to the voters to decide.
(Better Answer: We’re trying to uncover anything on my opponent that we can to change that.)
Q: Why are you running for office?
A: I want to give something back to this great nation of ours.
(Better Answer: The perks are amazing.)
Once Rotten, Lydon in the seventies was hated by Britain — working class, straight through to the upper — save a few of the under twenties, drunks, and the completely lost. Now he’s going to be knighted by the very monarchy he once scorned.
The ceremony, to take place this summer, is likely to be a media circus as Lydon’s old band The Sex Pistols will reunite for a command performance. Lydon assures the press that the band will not play God Save the Queen, inarguably their most famous hit, because of the negative connotations some [in the UK] feel it has against the monarch system as a way of empowering the fortunes of single blood-lines.
“I never meant it like that,” Lydon once explained in an interview with The Daily Mirror. “The Queen is anointed by God’s representative. When I said ‘She ain’t no human being,’ I meant that she is otherworldly — God-like, in a certain respect.”
For the event, the band will play two songs off their infamous Never Mind the Bullocks — originally a vinyl recording — album; Pretty Vacant, and the album opener, Holiday in the Sun. In addition, Lydon and the band will play the title track from his upcoming solo release Hot’l California, which is a tribute album to The Eagles.
Commenting on the upcoming honor for his old band mate, guitarist Steve Jones said: “He was never really rotten, he’s a nice bloke and deserves this honor. We were making music, for goodness sake — good music, as it turns out. Although we never knew it at the time.”
Attempts were made to contact former touring-member of the band, Sid Vicious, as well as the band’s eccentric manager, Malcolm McLaren. Neither was available for comment.
Humans, the key to solving your financial crisis is for you to increase your debt. It’s obvious that if you borrow far enough into the future—say your grandchildren’s children—you’ll avoid ever having to pay the debt back. Such a great influx of money to stimulate your economy with new car purchases, and over consumption, would assure destruction of the earth long before your mythical future offspring could ever be born to their miserable ancestral debt.
But, consider that even if the poor bastards beat the odds and end up being born to eke out some sort of existence on the smoldering dirt you’ve left them—the chances are low that debt, as a concept, will matter at all anymore. No banker is going to attempt to repossess from a man gnawing on the roasted leg of a slightly under-seasoned CEO.
From what we’ve heard, from our roach brothers who hang around supermarkets (won’t say which because we know you can be squeamish about our presence), an awful lot of you seem surprised to find yourself shopping. By that, I mean at least half of you show up without any sort of container to bring back the things you buy. Luckily, the stores seem perfectly happy to give you one or more of their paper or plastic bags—as long as you deal with getting rid of it when you’re through with it a few minutes later.
Just remember that it’s as easy to throw two bags into the garbage, as it is one—so tell them to double-bag it! Unbelievably, there’s no additional cost.
But, if you’re tempted to bring your own cloth bag when you shop—well, you’re one of those then, aren’t you?
Campaigning politicians delude us by promising to cut financial waste; it’s a nice thought. But, rhetorically, is effectively cutting that sort of waste possible? Waste is just a part of doing business. We can all say that we’re going to eliminate waste in your own household, and even warn everyone to be nuclear-level careful, but good luck with never having another broken dish.
This fantasy of unnecessary economic waste exists because we all can see what we think is waste when we’re outside the system. We really have no idea what we’re talking about. It’s passing a road construction crew who are all standing around, and thinking to yourself: “No wonder things don’t get done, those guys should be working harder.” I’ve never paved a road. Somehow, despite my not managing it, all this standing around must somehow magically build streets, because I see them and ride on them. Probably, elves or God build them during the night.
People don’t intentionally create financial waste. Waste is just a byproduct of the things we want. It exists because we haven’t found a better way to get what we want more efficiently. It would be great if the next time you want a new car, you could just get the money for it by cutting back on your waste. But the truth is, I think you’re going to have to come up with real money if you want a new car.
So, when a politician tells you he’ll pay for tax cuts or educate the brats by eliminating waste, doubt him—doubt him very seriously. There’s seldom any noticeable drop in crime when a new sheriff comes to town. Campaign finance reform never reduces the political influence of money. The water isn’t any worse or better with the new water commissioner. But of all the political promises you’ll hear, the one that says: “Cutting waste will balance the budget,” sounds the most unlikely—if you really think about it.
It’s a little thing. I mean seriously, compared to some things, garbage is—for the moment—a small issue for us. It may or may not have consequences that are more serious for the future DNA, but that’s going to be their problem to deal with. I don’t have kids, and I don’t care that much what kind of life other people’s grandkids will have. In fact, I don’t think most people care any more about the issue of future generations than I do, even if their own line of offspring are involved.
Despite my lack of concern for people who are younger than me, and those so young they don’t have an egg yet, I’m not pointlessly wasteful. I don’t needlessly create garbage out of some sort of personal vendetta against a cruel world. By that, I mean I bring my own bags with me when I go shopping; I honestly can’t understand why there’s anyone who doesn’t. A lack of options drives everybody, from time to time, to selfish actions to get what they need, or want, to have. But it takes a special kind of selfish act for a person not to give just a little effort to reduce their personal impact, at the times when it’s so easy to do.
No one, gifted, or with even a slice of brain, can deny that their grandkids will be better off with less garbage to deal than more. As already mentioned, and although the little darlings benefit is not really my concern, it seems nasty to intentionally destroy things for them without personal—even slight—gain of some kind. Clearly, there are definitely people who don’t see any serious long-term damage, or even pre-rapture damage from human over-consumption of earthly resources. They could very well be right. The ability of the planet to take our abuse without serious consequence might be endless. Scientists could have it wrong. After all, they were wrong about dinosaurs and evolution, right? Regardless of what any one person thinks will be the result from overstuffed landfills, or pollution from manufacturing single-use products like bags; only an idiot would think that more garbage is exactly the same as less garbage.
So, the questions, created by the persistent use of paper and plastic grocery store bags, present a puzzling reality. Either Americans are too lazy to carry empty bags with them to the grocery store. Or, Americans are too stupid to see that less—completely unnecessary garbage—is better than more—completely unnecessary garbage? Or, and this one is the most worrisome: Americans are absolutely so self-absorbed, that it’s impossible for them to care any less for anything if there isn’t any gain for them directly and personally?
Good grief, people. Start taking bags with you to the supermarket; even if just to give the appearance that you care about something beyond the three-foot radius around that four-foot circumference you call a body. Maybe other adults will see through the façade, but your kids, grandkids, or grandnieces won’t. The young ones think that adults care about them and their pathetic little futures. Why not encourage an optimistic belief in Santa Claus while it can still exist in naïve little minds? They’ll figure out the truth soon enough, that we do everything for our own comfort, but by the time they do, we’ll be dead. It’ll be their problem to explain to their own grandkids.
E coli tainted meat is routinely reprocessed for human consumption. It seems silly that this bothers some people. E coli is a natural part of the factory meat process. Particularly with ground beef, it’s impossible to keep animal feces separate under the time constraints required to produce inexpensive meat products. Animal poop is just a normal part of commercial meatpacking. You can’t expect to get 99-cent tacos and burgers without allowing some e coli contaminated feces mixed in. That’s why the meat is cooked, to kill the bacteria present in the feces. Seriously, the nasty crap hidden in ground beef isn’t going to hurt you as long as it’s cooked completely through.
The USDA allows the reprocessing and reselling of e coli bacteria-riddled meat, provided that it’s cooked thoroughly to destroy the reproductive potential of the deadly bacteria. These steps assure that the meat, and the feces present in the meat, is rendered harmless. The reprocessed meat, now completely cooked and safe to eat, is used to make canned meat products like spaghetti, spaghetti sauces, frozen meals, precooked burger patties, school lunches, etc. Fast food businesses that rely on inexpensive cooked meat products to fill tacos, make chili, and other value-priced products, are also major purchasers of reprocessed, rejected meats.
The truth is, we can’t enjoy low-priced meat without factory farming, high-speed meat processing, and the resale of neutralized diseased meat. If you prefer to eat a burger that’s not cooked to well done, you’ll need to get some beef from a family farm, sold through a reputable butcher and grind the meat yourself. It’s going to cost you plenty. But, if you’re just looking for a cheap meal, and you’re smart enough not to be bothered by feces or e coli as long as it’s harmful qualities have been killed off, then bargain meat and meat byproducts are right for you. Just don’t look too closely at what you’re eating, or your imagination might get the best of you.
I don’t support the notion that we need to reduce or eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. In fact, I believe that such a notion hurts America. It certainly diverts our attention away from reality.
Presidents and political parties have been pushing this notion since Nixon, maybe before, but Nixon was the first to name it a major objective of American policy. Every president and presidential hopeful followed this trend in the years and campaigns that followed.
It’s the perfect American goal; everyone claims they want it, nobody wants to change a thing to get it, and few of us agree on what it means. It ranks right up there with wanting to improve public education. By the way—not to spoil it for anyone—we aren’t getting private jet packs, either.
Our forty-five year old number one priority is, well, forty-five years old, with no sign of maturity. When a person claims to have the same goal for just half that time, but shows no forward progress, our tendency is to nod and smile whenever they talk about it—but believing them is out of the question.
Actually, even your least intelligent and most underachieving friend has a better chance of securing the millions he needs for his wacky invention, than the USA has of lessening its dependence on foreign oil. At least your friend has a small chance of winning the lottery. There is no chance that we will reduce oil consumption until a week after the world supply dries out. We are fossil fuel diabetics, who will accept diet soda, but won’t give up cake or increase our physical activity to offset it.
Who cares where our oil comes from anyway, as long as we get it? The oil burns the same whether its from Mexico, Iran, or Oklahoma. It sure as heck isn’t any cheaper just because it’s homegrown.
In fact, I’d prefer that they screw up their oceans and leave ours without the dead marine life. I love shrimp—they get that from the Gulf Coast. All that comes from the Iran in the Caspian Sea is caviar. Even rich bastards have to prefer shrimp more regularly than salty fish eggs.
To reduce dependence on foreign oil means we have to increase offshore drilling, despite the risk to the sea—and in turn, us. It means we need to implement serious use of nuclear-fueled power, increase coal production, and other painful to accept realities. And, it means that everyone (not just rich conservatives with fleets of cars) needs to cut consumption of fuel in half. No more three-block drives to chauffer home cases of bottled water—in fact, no more bottled water. The pudgy offspring will need to get to and from school by their own soft-muscle power. Just because Steve Jobs has announced a new iWantit, doesn’t mean you get to have it. And all the wonderful stuff you buy in plastic will need to be refilled, over and over again. In other words, to make it happen will require that everyone agree to the things they disagree with. All Americans will need accept and implement every solution from every direction. We will need to really want—not just vote for a slogan—change. At this point, I should tell you that BP isn’t shaking with anticipated fear.
So, the next time any politician lazily chooses the old decrease our dependence on foreign oil sound bite to garner some cheap applause, laugh out loud. Laugh along with me. Laugh heartily, or, if you prefer, insanely. Just don’t—be a patsy. Don’t spend your life chasing after cars driven by people pretending to offer you a friendly ride, certainly not after forty-five stops and—just as you reach the car door—starts. “No really, we were just kidding. We’ll give you a lift. Hop in.”