I’m here to talk about my contacts. I do not like my contacts.
You see, I got my first-ever pair of contacts on Monday. I did not particularly want contact lenses– what’s wrong with regular old glasses? Mine are serving me just fine, they just need a new prescription, that’s all. I mean, they’re even Transitions. I honestly can’t remember anybody not liking my Transitions; in fact, they’ve netted me several compliments. So you can understand my confusion when my mother told the opthalmologist to set me up with some contacts at my eye exam earlier this summer. Of course, I complied with the request; I mean, what’s so bad about contacts, right?
Contact lenses are part of the unholy trinity of fashion. The other two parts are unrealistically skinny models and elective cosmetic surgery. All of these represent attributes that people think they need to have in order to be beautiful, and are also detrimental to some other aspect of their lives. Because of modern society, we are pressured to pretend that we are all unrealistically skinny models with picture-perfect bodily features and perfect 20/20 fighter pilot vision. Well, it’s just not true. Because nobody’s like that, it’s all camera angles and Photoshop. (Also, while I’ve got your attention, ladies, please stop wearing these. They’re horrible, and no guy likes them.)
Now, you may be wondering, “Well what’s so bad about contacts? They’re not harming my life, they’re making it better!” Are they? Are they really? Because money is being spent and time is being invested for you to look exactly the same as you do every day, only now you don’t need glasses. But you still do need glasses; they’re just suctioned onto your eyeballs now. And besides, half the time you’re wearing actual glasses anyway. So what was the point of getting contacts in the first place?
“To make me look more attractive to the opposite sex!” you’ll inevitably conclude. But then explain them. And this guy. And her. All of those people are still attractive to the opposite sex (in some cases both sexes) and they are not wearing contacts.
And now, I, too, have been dragged, kicking and screaming, into this torturous realm. Because contacts suck, man. I mean, I have to spend 20 minutes in the bathroom getting them into my eyes in the first place. Perhaps trying to compensate in some way for the uselessness of these 20 minutes, I have given my contacts names. The right lens is “Fuckwit” and the left lens is “Dumbshit.” This is because they are not intelligent enough to stay in my eyes, instead preferring to fall out EVEN AFTER I HAVE CAREFULLY PLACED THEM RIGHT ON TOP OF MY IRIS DAMMIT into my sink, which is probably the dirtiest thing in my house, bar the kitchen sponge. I shudder to think how many diseases I’ll be contracting in the coming days and weeks because my contacts are total idiots.
Now, I must imagine that if my contacts fall out so very easily, then the entire contact lens species must be, as a whole, mentally chhallenged, which means that other people’s contacts fall out. And not everywhere is as clean as my sink. It could be the floor of a well-traveled hallway. It could be the road. It could be (and has been) right into a dissected frog’s preserved innards. I mean, come on. Surely people don’t feel that much more attractive with contacts on, right?
So tell me: do I look better with contact lenses, or with glasses?
Human beings are pretty terrifying creatures, from the perspective of other animals. I don’t mean in some kind of OMG EXTINCTION way, either. Humans are the global heavyweight champions of endurance running.
Primitive man would take some rocks – later on they’d use slings or spears or even bow and arrows, basically some type of projectile- and they would find an animal, and then start chasing it. The projectiles were mostly to harass the poor prey. A fit human being can run for hours and hours, whereas most of the animals humans ate can only sustain a sprint for a few minutes. Humans hunted by more or less running their prey to death. Or, rather, chasing them until they couldn’t run any more, at which point said animal would be killed. For some animals we found we could save effort by driving them over cliffs.
As for the other animals with great endurance, rather than hunting them, we domesticated them as herd animals. Ancient goats, sheep, cows, horses… those were the animals humans couldn’t outrun over marathon distances.
So, from the perspective of a delicious animal, a human being represents a predator that can strike from a distance, can thwart all but the most heroic attempts at escape, and will not stop chasing you until you die. And they hunt in packs. Like wolves.
Aliens should be afraid of humans, too. We’re crazy, for God’s sake. We constantly fight each other in horrible, bitter wars that frequently have no better reason to be fought than petty arguments. A bunch of humans went and executed one of their gods.
It’s nice to know that you’re a member of a completely badass species, huh? It sort of begins to make up for the terrible fatties we’ve become. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
P.S. For more information, check this out.
Social stratification. Class system. These are both archaic concepts, long overthrown in Europe and never seriously present in the United States. This is what we’ve been taught, this is clearly what happens in reality. The US prides itself in being a welcoming place for all people, no matter where they came from.
Let’s face it. The United States of America is more bigoted and racist as a culture than perhaps any other nation since, well, the United States. Has it ever occurred to anybody that you never see reports of British neo-nazis, of white hate crimes towards any other race other than here? Has it ever occurred to you that of all the other First-World nations, the United States has the most colorful record of slavery, racism, prejudice, and segregation of any ethnically heterogeneous population. (I need to put heterogeneous in because without it, you get nations like Ireland, which are not fair comparisons to what I’m trying to put across here.)
Here, a bullet-list of all the various prejudices and social issues that the United States so proudly counts as part of its heritage:
- Catholics. Present in the American population since before 1776, this took until the election of JFK in 1960 to really work its way out of the collective American psyche.
- Blacks. Present since the widespread adoption of slavery in the colonies in 1680. Slavery, while formally abolished in 1863, did nothing to stem the racism towards blacks, formally and legally abolished in 1964, but still present in many areas of American life even today, whether you consciously aware of it or not.
- Women. Present in the American population since the beginning of ever, women were denied the right to vote and other social necessities until the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Nowadays, women are, nominally, more or less equal, though there are lingering effects, such as women being paid 75% as much as men for doing the same exact job.
- Native Americans. Very strong prejudices against Native Americans existed in the United States ever since the white people realized that the land that they wanted had other people living on it. This, in turn, led to such things such as the Trail of Tears, reservations, etc. This particular social ill died out after America reached California and Manifest Destiny petered out. As it is, though, the Native American population is vastly reduced from what it used to be not 300 years ago, and they are still mostly out of sight on reservations, living their lives, unfortunately, in destitution and squalor.
Nowadays, it seems that America has latched on to anti-Islamism. You hear reports of terrorists in Afghanistan existing. Fair enough, these reports might be true. But then, take a look at the Google news search for “terrorist threat.” Sure, one or two of these reports might actually be about terrorists. The rest have headlines like, “Are American Muslims a Threat?” and “The emerging homegrown terrorist threat.” I mean, there is a point where fear crosses over into ludicrousness. We are way past that point. We proved we were way past that point when people started getting shot at because they had beards. When a little old lady got up and brazenly told John McCain, “Obama’s an Arab.” And while it may not be getting any worse, it sure isn’t getting any better. There is a stereotype now, that Islam is an inherently violent and white-people-hating religion. Which is simply not true. In fact, it startles me that on the one hand, people can say that anybody who accepts Jesus will be saved, and then turn right around and attack fellow acceptors of Jesus. It boggles the mind and startles the spirit, really.
But guess what? I’m guessing it’s going to take another century for that stereotype to exit the collective American psyche. Just like Jim Crow. Just like the stigma against Japanese people during WWII. Just like the prejudice against Catholics.
Not cool, America. Not cool.
Every time I come out of a summer break, I think to myself, “I could have done more with that time.” I could have saved the world, maybe, cured cancer. I could have gotten some more volunteer hours in, maybe gotten a job or something. Even though I applied to several businesses and heard back from none of them, and have neither the expertise nor scientific respect to reliably cure cancer. I did quite a bit of volunteer work, to the point where sitting here with four holes in my jaw is some of the only downtime I’ve had since June. And I still feel I need to do more.
More, more, more. It’s the watchword of our society, the mantra by which everybody lives their daily lives. Need to get on your boss’s good side? Work more. Need to keep that job in these tough economic climes? Put in more hours than the guy in the cube next to you. Want to get into Harvard? Well, that’s a crapshoot no matter how you look at it, but it damn sure wouldn’t hurt to put in more volunteer hours, do more stuff. More more more.
Whatever happened to getting on your boss’s good side by taking him out to dinner? Whatever happened to prioritizing, to learning how to get the important stuff done first so you can relax? Whatever happened to positive attitudes?
I’ve been noticing, more and more, that the topics of discussion amongst regular people trend towards the bad stuff going on in the world. Listening to my parents talk means being treated to a discussion on whether their jobs are going to remain theirs, or whether I’ll get into a good college and do well in it.
I don’t know. I used to be that guy, Mr. Cheer-Up-Already-Damn-It. I think the stress of the world is getting to me now, same as it’s gotten to some of you already. It’s odd, dealing with the fact that who you thought you were is not really who you’re becoming. Or who you want to become. Maybe this is a part of growing up. Probably it is. All I know is I can see my goals, my priorities, shifting, changing away from what I thought they were to something completely different. This time last year, I was convinced I’d be going into the business world, living the high life in New York City. Now, I’d like nothing better than to sit in some lab and mess with DNA for the rest of my life in some secluded glade in Washington State.
Perhaps this is that damn work ethic popping up again. One last academic hurrah before going off to college, where I’ll be naught else but a data point, left to sink or swim on my own. Every time in the past when the voice in the back of my head goes, “Do some work this time, or you’ll be sorry!” I nearly always choose to ignore it. This time, though… I’m thinking maybe I should listen to it. Seriously. It’s unprecedented. Maybe that’ll be my goal for this year… actually put some effort into what I do, instead of merely skating by on whatever transient information I already know, or manage to pick up in class between naps.
What else do I have to lose, right?
So, yesterday, exactly 40 years ago, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed an asymmetrical lump of sheet-thin metal and rocket fuel on the Moon. Their first steps in that gray dust were watched by 450 million people worldwide. Let’s put that into perspective. The global population at the time was 3.63 billion. That means 12.4% of the world tuned in to watch this broadcast. That’s something amazing. Almost as amazing as the fact that there were two guys in spacesuits bouncing around on the Moon. The Moon! It’s really something, huh? This site has the astronauts’ experiences in their own words, if you care to read.
But, when you think about it, that was the end. Since those fateful days in the 60s and 70s, not one agency of any kind has sent more than satellites to the Moon, and a scant few at that. No, instead the space program got sidetracked by other things; the “Cold War,” the “Computer Revolution,” and so on. But I think it’s time to go back there. To space. To the Moon. Beyond that, even. The time is ripe for a new revolution in technology and the world needs something else to focus on besides the constant threat of terrorism and celebrities. And besides, we’re in a recession. There is literally no better time for this to happen than right now.
Now, I understand that some of you may scoff at this, asking how anything could happen when the world is in the midst of an “economic downturn,” as the politically correct saying goes. But hear me out. Basic high school economics teaches you that in order for the GDP of a country to become bigger, you can do several things. You could spur consumer spending and business investment, increase your exports, or increase government spending. You could somehow manage to increase the amount of entrepreneurial ability, or increase the amount of labor, land, or capital. You could increase productivity. All viable methods, from a purely economic standpoint. But economics is a simulation. Let’s go into the viability of each of these factors in the real world, shall we?
Spurring consumer spending: Our government, from what I can tell, is trying very hard to encourage people to go out and spend more money wantonly like they were doing before this whole “crisis.” Unfortunately for them, it seems the greater American public has learned its lesson. There’s an old Tamil saying that, translated, comes out as, “The only foolproof way to be taught something is to experience it for yourself.” And so it has happened. Gleeful and reckless credit spending has pretty much drawn to a close. Sure, while credit cards may not be going out of style, they certainly are now beginning to be seen as necessary evils rather than as free money. And, for an economy used to that type of spending, it’ll no doubt be a shock to recover from. Anyway, there’s little chance that consumer spending is going to return to the pre-recession levels, so let’s leave that aside.
Business investment: For the time being, at least, it’s much the same story for businesses as it is for consumers. With their counterparts failing left and right,
many most firms will be laying off people and cutting costs, attempting to weather the storm. Nothing’s going to change that. They’re not going to save our GDP either.
Exports: Excuse me while I laugh. Increase exports? Yeah, RIGHT. Like that’s going to happen. For the past twenty years, the US has been the world’s largest IMPORTER. Think something like a giant vaccuum sucking in all the goods produced elsewhere. Yeah. Moving on…
Increasing entrepreneurial ability: Already happening. What with the internet, and inspiration by our President’s hope-and-change rhetoric, and just the general trend of entrepreneurs generally coming out of the woodwork during hard times like these (it feels almost wrong to call this “hard times,” when you look at the Great Depression), that step of the process has already begun.
Increasing land, labor, or capital: Again, mostly beyond anybody’s control. Land is land (very much finite, and not quite in demand right now), capital (keep dreaming), or labor (try again in a few years) aren’t going to be viable for a while. This option isn’t happening, either.
Productivity is fine (what? Computers aren’t good enough for you now?), so that really leaves us with one option: Government spending.
We need a massive influx of government money stimulating research and development into multiple areas in order to even STAND A CHANCE of getting out of this recession in anything approaching good shape. Look at the Great Depression. That took WWII to counteract it. While our situation may not be quite as dire, it is still shown that the twin factors of having to rapidly and effectively deploy advanced technology to counter the Axis powers (think tanks and nuclear bombs) was quite the economic stimulator.
We can’t have a war this time around, because we’re already fighting a war, so making it bigger probably isn’t going to help a lot. The problem this time around derives from having to fight with a new strategy instead of bigger guns. Strategies cannot and will not come about from any new technology, so, bugger.
So that leaves scientific advancement. There are, as I see it, two major areas of interest in the science field: computers and space. As the trend of microtransistors becomes the world of quantum computing and nanotechnology, there is plenty of incentive from the consumer market for cheaper, faster, more awesome computers. Which effectively makes it a consumer good, rather than a capital good. Which means that it is all but useless in increasing GDP and spurring the economy. So, once again, circumstances force us to look to space technology. Think about it. The Saturn V rocket cost between $2-3 billion. NASA’s current best hope, Project Constellation, is estimated to cost roughly double that. I can see you now. “That’s a lot of money!” you think. “We can’t afford anything like that!” Au contraire. It would be foolhardy not to spend this money. The US needs every bit of stimulus it can get at this point. $7 billion of government money will quickly cascade through the economy, creating billions more in jobs and resources. I mean, seriously, if the bailout (worth roughly $700 billion) has, as of yet, failed to do much (The New Deal didn’t do much either, remember?), then it looks like alternative means of government spending is our only option.
And besides, it’d be the coolest thing ever. We have all the elements needed; all we need to do is get rolling. So please, Mr. President, increase the budget for NASA. $17.6 billion (0.75% of total budget) isn’t going to be enough. Hell, it took $25.4 billion in 1969 dollars (appoximately $136 billion in today’s money), which was a whopping 5.5% of the total US budget at the time, to even get us to the moon. Put some money where your mouth is, Mr. President. I dare you.
*Disclaimer* Let it be noted that I am not against running/jogging as a form of exercise, nor am I against exercise in general. I’m just saying that excessive running can be and is very very bad for you. And also ranting a bit. *Disclaimer*
As I noted in my Twitter stream recently, every time I go to a park, I tend to spend some time watching the joggers go by. I mean, they are fantastically fun to ponder about. What other demographic, at any time in humanity’s history, would run, thankless and alone, on hard asphalt for hours at a time in “running” shoes while blasting away their eardrums with cheap iPod earbuds? I mean, the medical costs of running like this are going to really come back and bite each and every one of these people in the ass in a few decades. Let’s take a closer look, hm?
- Feet. By encasing their feet in running shoes, joggers remove the benefit of having feet in the first place. While the shoes may protect against the occasional sharp rock or all-too-squishable slug, they also kill your feet faster than pretty much anything short of arthritis. Did you know that the arch in your foot absorbs and counters 17% of the impact shock of putting your foot down when you run or walk? Don’t believe me? Here’s a simple experiment. Go outside, put your shoes and do two laps around your backyard. Now take your shoes off (socks too) and run two laps barefoot. See that? The foot comes down, not on the heel, but flat down, when you go barefoot, utilizing the arch structure of your foot to absorb shock. Eliminating this counter increases the stress on the bones in your foot and leg, your knee, and every muscle involved in the process as well, leading to foot fatigue. Furthermore, the running shoe forces the foot to come down on the heel, further destabilizing the foot, and, even worse, completely wrecking the natural running movement.
- Knees. I will assume all of you are familiar with the high-heels effect (tilting of the pelvis forward, also known as kyphosis-lordosis posture), yes? Good. Now, note that this efficet is not limited to high heels alone. Any time your heel is elevated above your toes, that high-heels effect comes into play (though perhaps not as noticeably). This is an incredible amount of stress for your knees and feet, when you think about it, especially when running.
- Chests. This is more of an issue for the females in my readership (hi, you two!), so you guys can skip down to the next paragraph. Anyway, Cooper’s Ligaments. They’re not at all made for heavy shocks like running on asphalt for extended periods of time. Especially repeatedly. It stretches the ligaments out, and from there, it’s sorta clear what happens next.
Stay tuned for Part 2, the psychological side of exercise-as-drudgery, coming tomorrow later!
I’m sorry I haven’t posted that much as of late. Too much crap getting in the way, life and such, the usual bullshit. I wish I could make this blog a priority right now, but the mundane demands of real life are getting in the way of my creative sparks and diverting them to their own selfish purposes. As it is, I think I may have to take an extended hiatus from this blog. I’m sorry guys, and thanks for all the support.