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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Save the Planet — Kill Yourself!

George Carlin style.

I expressed the same sentiments in class years ago, and the liberal-eco-Nazi-bandwagon-jumpers went apoplectic in their indignance and outrage — so much so that they had to resort to the use of plastic bags to hold their pee.

The planet is fine! The people are fucked!

Full transcript

You got people like this around you? Country is full of them now! People walking around all day long, every minute of the day — worried about EVERYTHING! Worried about the air, worried about the water, worried about the soil. Worried about insecticides, pesticides, food additives, carcinogens; worried about radon gas; worried about asbestos. Worried about saving endangered species.

Let me tell you about endangered species, all right? Saving endangered species is just one more arrogant attempt by humans to control Nature! It's arrogant meddling! It's what got us into trouble in the first place! Doesn't anybody understand that? Interfering with Nature! Over 90 percent.. over... way over 90 percent of all the species that have ever lived — EVER LIVED — on this planet are gone. Whissshht! They are extinct!

We didn't kill them all.

They just... disappeared! That's what Nature does! They disappear these days at the rate of 25 a day, and I mean regardless of our behavior. Irrespective of how we act on this planet, 25 species that were here today, will be gone tomorrow! Let them go... gracefully! Leave Nature alone! Haven't we done enough?

We're so self-important. So self-important! Everybody's going to save something now. "Save the trees; save the bees; save the whales; save those snails." And the greatest arrogance of all, "Save the planet." WHAT? Are these fucking people kidding me? Save the planet? We don't even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven't learned how to care for one another, we're gonna save the fucking planet?

I'm getting tired of that shit. Tired of that shit. Tired! I'm tired of fucking Earth Day! I'm tired of these self-righteous environmentalists; these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren't enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world safe for their Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don't give a shit about the planet. They don't care about the planet. Not in the abstract they don't. Not in the abstract they don't. You know what they're interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They're worried that some day in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn't impress me.

Besides, there is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are fucked. Difference. Difference! The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We've been here, what? A hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we've only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. And we have the CONCEIT to think that somehow we're a threat? That somehow we're gonna put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that's just a-floatin' around the sun?

The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles; hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors; worlwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages... And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet... the planet... the planet isn't going anywhere. WE ARE!

We're going away. Pack your shit, folks. We're going away. And we won't leave much of a trace, either. Thank God for that. Maybe a little styrofoam. Maybe. A little styrofoam. The planet will be here and we'll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet will shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance.

You wanna know how the planet is doing? Ask those people at Pompeii, who are frozen into position from volcanic ash, "How the planet's doing?" You wanna know if the planet's all right, ask those people in Mexico City or Armenia or a hundred other places buried under thousands of tons of earthquake rubble, if they feel like a threat to the planet this week. Or how about those people in Kilowaia, Hawaii, who built their homes right next to an active volcano, and then wonder why they have lava in the living room.

The planet will be here for a long, long — LONG — time after we're gone, and it will heal itself; it will cleanse itself, because that's what it does. It's a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover; the earth will be renewed; and, if it's true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new pardigm: the Earth plus plastic! The Earth doesn't share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the Earth. The Earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the Earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn't know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old philosophical question, "Why are we here?" "Plastic! Assholes."

So! So, the plastic is here, our job is done, we can be phased out now. And I think that it has already started already, don't you? I think, to be fair, the planet probably sees us as a mild threat. Something to be dealt with. And I am sure the planet will defend itself in the manner of a large organism, like a beehive or an ant colony, and muster a defense. I am sure the planet will think of something. What would you do if you were the planet trying to defend against this pesky, troublesome species? "Let's see... What might... Hmm.. Viruses! Viruses might be good. They seem vulnerable to viruses. And, uh...viruses are tricky, always mutating and forming new strains whenever a vaccine is developed. Perhaps, this first virus could be one that compromises the immune system of these creatures. Perhaps a human immunodeficiency virus, making them vulnerable to all sorts of other diseases and infections that might come along. And maybe it could be spread sexually, making them a little reluctant to engage in the act of reproduction."

Well, that's a poetic note. And it's a start. And I can dream, can't I? See I don't worry about the little things: bees, trees, whales, snails. I think we're part of a greater wisdom than we will ever understand. A higher order. Call it what you want. Know what I call it? The Big Electron." The Big Electron...whoooa. Whoooa. Whoooa. It doesn't punish; it doesn't reward; it doesn't judge at all. It just is. And so are we. For a little while.

Thanks for being here with me for a little while tonight!

Thank you!


Requiéscant in pāce, George.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Private spaces

It's 5:26 AM. I didn't get to ride, so I chose to write.

'Managed to catch "small metal objects" mid-week (Thank you, dear). Dazed by 4 hours of sleep and a new, punishing, workout routine, I grabbed a cup of overpriced pig swill gourmet coffee from a nearby cafe before heading to the performance.

Under an hour in length, this little gem astounded with its layers of reversals. Even with plays in the park, the space between audience and actors versus members of the public (non-audience) is clearly defined. E.g. upon crossing a field, one sees a play taking place in the open; out of earshot, one can still determine who are the actors. Not so in "small metal objects."

Continuing the example, the audience's presence is also explained for, by having a clear, recognizable focus of attention — the actors. In this sense, they are "shielded" from the prying eyes of the public. Not so in this play.

The seats blankly faced the embarkation and disembarkation gantries of the Sentosa Express. The actors donned diminutive mouthpieces, indistinguishable from Bluetooth or handsfree headsets; wore street clothes, and freely mingled with the public. Only the headphone-clad audience were privy to the conversations between the actors. With every crowd, group, family, or couple passing by, the audience would be scrutinized. E.g. Who are these dorks — with large headphones — sitting on an elevated stage facing the Sentosa Express entry and exit point? What's so exciting about the ticketing office? What are they looking at? (Looking around nervously.) Who are they looking at?

Any discomfort at this unwanted attention soon faded away as we, the audience, observed how the public is oblivious to the drama unfolding in their midst.

The watchers watch the actors. The watchers become the watched; the new watchers become unwitting actors (or extras) in the production; and the watched return to being watchers. Beautiful.

Is pain less agonizing when shared beyond one's private sphere? Is glory all the more glorious with pictures, videos, and media coverage? Is attention the new measure of worth in our society? If that is the moral calculus, then why do people make it a point of pride to state, rate (and even, inflate) the number of tables at weddings but annul or divorce in secret? While others beam for cameras at award ceremonies but duck, hide from, or hit photographers outside courts?

Is the value — quantity and quality — of joy augmented by attention? (Perhaps this explains conspicuous, or even invidious, consumption?)

Is tragedy any more painful endured alone? (Do we need the wahmbulance?)

Over dinner in a setting breathtakingly ludicrous (exponentially more so when referenced to the minimalist setting of the play) with its over the top attempt at anachronistic simulacra of Oriental, turn of the century menial servitude, and gluttony: Food Republic, we discussed the title of the performance. Being the himbo that I am alleged to be (to the one who levied that charge, I am not worthy, but thank you all the same. I will try harder. Seen my training schedule?), I compared it to road debris — cast off, broken pieces, detritus of vehicles that transport and protect us — littering our road shoulders; and perhaps even traffic intersections. We do not notice these pieces, let alone consider how they got there, in our hectic, narcissistic, and hedonistic lives ego parades. This is life in the city. Where did that piece of motorcycle fairing come from? How did it get there? Where's the rest of that broken helmet? Is the owner alive? Conscious? Intact? Was he or she the sole breadwinner? How did is his family coping? That fragment of a license plate. What's his story? How was his day — at what stage of his life was he at? — when this happened?

No, we don't notice these. We are oblivious of, or ignore — the possibilities of — these stories until...

       their relics give us a flat tire.

Then, for a little instance, we notice these small metal objects. While blaming it upon God, luck, fate, Murphy, our verbally / emotionally / physically abused partners (but never the cell phone!), et cetera, we rectify the situation, and return to our headlong rush for numero uno once again. If the tire punctures get too frequent, taxpayers lobby the authorities to invest in better, more efficient street sweepers — probably from an even poorer country. And so it goes... (with apologies to Vonnegut)

"small metal things" reveals that it is the same for subalterns of society.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.
         (Henry David Thoreau)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

For the unbelievers

Or, to quote Samuel Langhorne Clemens, "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

According to some sources, I wasn't there.

So who's that in the picture?

Sometimes you're nothing but meat

       Image by Priscilla.

MAO ZEDONG'S MANTRA — "Sacrifice one family, save 10,000 familes" — is seared into Wang Yangxi's memory. Like the Chinese emperors before him, Chairman Mao was obsessed with taming the Yellow River, the life-giving force whose changes of course also unleashed devastating floods, earning it the enduring sobriquet "China's Sorrow." When, in 1957, construction began on the massive dam at Sanmenxia, on the river's middle section, 400,000 people — including Wang — lost their homes. Mao's slogan convinced them it was a noble sacrifice. "We were proud to help the national cause," says Wang, now 83. "We've had nothing but misery ever since."
         (Larmer, Brook.  "Bitter Waters."  National Geographic 213.5  (2008):  159.)

Perhaps the Chinese Culture Chauvinists (CCC) should make an addition to their vocabulary (besides its sole entry, "cultural pride"):  "backlash."

Further reading:
Who says it's hard to learn Chinese?

Related posts
So this is why I never got along with Chinese [Mandarin] teachers
Why I am not Chinese
Cultural immersion
"No" to being a hangar queen
China admits taking executed prisoner's organs
The Duckling
A culture with the longest history, and one not too far from the world's oldest profession
China's Shocking Dog and Cat Fur Trade

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rogers Indicator of Multiple Intelligences

Hat tip to takchek.

The Rogers Indicator of Multiple Intelligences

You scored as Verbal / Linguistic.

You have highly developed auditory skills, enjoy reading and writing and telling stories, and are good at getting your point across. You learn best by saying and hearing words. People like you include poets, authors, speakers, attorneys, politicians, lecturers and teachers.















No surprises here.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Boiling blood

READING Internet postings often makes my blood boil.
         (Chua, Lee Hoong.  "That escape: Crucial issues aplenty, so let's move on."  The Straits Times [Singapore] 26 April, 2008: S13)

Mixed metaphor

A mixed metaphor attempts to create an extended comparison but fails because it is not consistent with itself. For example, in an essay on the language used in describing pain relief medicine, a student wrote:

"The topic of pain relievers seems clouded in a sea of medical terminology."

The metaphor is mixed because the images of cloud and sea do not match. The student should have said either "drowned in a sea of medical terminology" or "clouded in a fog of medical terminology." Metaphor can be effective, but do not put too much weight on your own ingenuity; it might collapse under the strain.
         (Department of English, University of Victoria)

Today, one cannot help but conclude that the trailblazer is more than a sputtering meteor, and perhaps one with an antisocial personality disorder.
         (Chua, Lee Hoong.  "The squandered potential of Chee Soon Juan."  The Straits Times [Singapore] 7 June, 2008: S9)

Since when are meteors sociable (or supposed to be)?

I suppose one could dodge the charge by claiming ambiguity in the sentence, but that's a fault too.

Another one for Poblem Engrish  :-D

Is this is what happens when a former Internal Security Department (ISD) intelligence officer "analyst" becomes a newspaper editor?

Eric Ellis has more.

Bonus round: The Tragicomedies: Selected Writings of Andy Ho.

Further reading:

It is one thing to disagree with a person’s ideology, his methods and his political agenda. By all means, attack his thoughts, his values and his principles. By all means, criticise him with the harshest of words on his methods and his agenda. But to suggest that a person may be mentally not right when there has never been a psychiatric examination, is the meanest thing to do, especially from journalists whom the public expect to be factual and objective. Where is the medical evidence?

I have worked in Woodbridge Hospital, a psychiatric institution, before. Before we make a diagnosis of a patient, he needs to undergo a psychiatric examination. This requires one to two hours of examination of the patient by the psychiatrist, another one to two hours of interview with his relatives, some days of observation in the ward, some psychological testing by a psychologist and a conference of doctors and psychologists before a firm diagnosis is made.

How on earth then could a lay person have the temerity to make any claim on a medical diagnosis, especially a psychiatric one?
         (The Politics of Madness.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Who says that anger is necessarily a bad thing?

The most beautiful expression of anger I've come across online so far:

Every Wednesday we host a group from our church to discuss topics that the leadership suggests as we walk our path with God. It's a good gathering of folks; I don't always go, even though it takes place in my house--one week I had the flu, two other times I was flying out of town the next day and I had to pack. Part of me also doesn't want to go because I just don't feel ideologically attuned to their belief system, as much as I appreciate them as people. Last week was no exception.

I was in such despair over recent job events that I just found a bar and starting drinking--not my typical behavior. No one knew where I was. My husband called and I finally told him: "I'm out getting drunk. I don't want to hear about Jesus." He just asked me to call him when I was done in case I was too intoxicated to walk home. I went to a nearby park after drinking to my limit (such a lightweight) and spoke out loud: "God, you want too much. Ivan Karamazov was right. You were able to show unconditional love and forgiveness because you are God. But I am not a god."

I walked into my house, drunk as hell. My husband asked me to join the meeting--I initially refused--I wasn't interested in putting my misery on display, nor my sins. But I went anyway. I didn't speak until we got to the part about loving our enemies and forgiving those who persecute you. I suddenly barked: "Okay, I will tell you. I can't be a Christian. I don't love my enemies. I hate them. I wish bad things upon them. There are times I would like to destroy them. This is why they are called ENEMIES. They hurt me and I want to hurt them back. I cannot forgive them. I wish I could, not for the sake of God, but because it is eating me alive. If I had a gun, some of them would be dead and I'd be in jail. That is how deeply I hate these people. So excuse me if I can't pretend to be something that I am not."

Something terrible, something beautiful; praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Settling. Settle. To Settle. Part II

Or, Why I love Naipaul. Part II.

As their perceived — and society's imposed — "sell by" date approaches, I find myself witness to a multitude of nauseating spectacles: friends and acquaintances lowering their standards, expectations, and requirements in their desperate quest for mates. E.g. "Well, he is of the opposite sex!" Or, "She has a pulse!" Hey! Perhaps they can even add a new facet to the Yellow Ribbon Project: "Bring an Ex-con to Your Bed." Now, this would be nothing more than fodder for my writing if not for their presumptive impetuousness in including me in their fool's quest.

The Bard of Avon once warned, "Hasty marriage seldom proveth well," but I have more scathing quotes in mind:

Settling. Settle. To Settle. (Part I)

ANXIETY WAS REPLACED by a feeling of deflation, a certain fear and an extreme shyness, which became acute as the ritual bathroom hour approached on their first evening as man and wife, words which still mortified him. He waited, unwilling to mention the matter or to make the first move, and in the end it was she who went first. She was a long time and he, sucking on his burnt-out pipe, savoured the moments of privacy as something now to be denied him forever.

       'Yours now, Richard.'

       Her voice was no longer deep and actressy. It was attempting to tinkle, and emerged a blend of coo and halloo.

       In the bathroom, which before had held his own smell, to him always a source of satisfaction, there was now a warm, scented dampness. Then he saw her teeth. It had never occurred to him that they might be false. He felt cheated and annoyed. Regret came to him, and a prick of the sharpest fear. Then he took out his own teeth and sadly climbed the steps to their bedroom.

Perhaps your lives are so dull and wanting that you would even settle for love that becomes a funeral pyre. Mine isn't.