Monday, April 18, 2005

Q: What is a new national interest?

A: Sex reassignment surgery

I am still watching a little more television than is good for me.

Over the last two weeks I have come across two shows that seem to reflect a new national interest.

One show was one of those CSI things. Turns out that the criminal of the week was a person that went around botching various sex reassignment operations and ended up killing someone, leaving the decaying body in a storage room. The other was a Cold Case episode in which the missing person that was thought to be a young woman turned out to be a young man, or a young woman trapped in the body of a young man, if you will. That both shows were on CBS was coincidental, I think. If I remember correctly, NBC had a Law and Order episode in which the point of interest concerned some sort of sex reassigment surgery.

This seemingly new, sometimes graphic, interest in sex reassignment surgery is baffling. With all that is going on the world of crime and misfortune I wonder why the Powers That Be of Television Programming at the Corporate Giants are turning national attention to this topic. I think that it has something to do with the same reasons that same-sex marriage is getting so much air play. Same sex, gay sex, sad sex, safe sex, unisex, anal sex, oral sex, over sex, under sex, inner sex, outer sex, transdimensional sex, dog sex, cat sex, … whatever! Sex is riveting, always has been, always will be. It really grabs the attention, personally and nationally.

I wonder if there is some backroom somewhere out there in which some guys and guyettes from CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, HBO, the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee get together, smoke cigars and plot/plan how to keep the national mindset on topics that do not really affect a whole lot of people and off of topics that really do affect a whole lot of people. I mean, if more national attention is paid to topics such as same sex marriage, sex reassignment surgical procedures, Michael Jackson’s romps in Neverland and the withdrawal of the Israelis form Gaza, then less attention is paid to the dismal state of health care services in the world, the smoke and mirrors game that we call the International Financial Markets and the battering of the planet’s ecosystem by yet another SUV in LA or chemical plant in China.

Let’s face it; in worldwide or even nationwide comparison, there just are not that many same sex couples/marriages, sex reassignment surgical procedures, victims of Michael Jackson, or people living in Gaza to warrant the video pounding that Big Media is perpetrating on the demanding viewer. Why do so few people get so much attention?

Maybe this link might provide an insight.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Q: What might be Hell?

A: A world without rest

A few days ago I read Tom Friedman’s article in the NY Times Magazine section. The name of the article is It’s a Flat World, After All.

My take on what Friedman is saying is this:

Due to the proliferation of personal computers, personal computer connectivity technology and the rise of the Internet, the world is very small. And, now just about anybody has access to any knowledge. Thus, an engineer in Bangalore or Beijing can do what a engineer in Silicon Valley can do, and for a whole lot less money. So wake up America, these guys are competing for our work 24/7. We, America, need to be turning out more mathematicians and engineers and be willing to compete every day, every hour.

Here is a direct quote, the last two paragraphs of the article:

“We need to get going immediately. It takes 15 years to train a good engineer, because, ladies and gentlemen, this really is rocket science. So parents, throw away the Game Boy, turn off the television and get your kids to work. There is no sugar-coating this: in a flat world, every individual is going to have to run a little faster if he or she wants to advance his or her standard of living. When I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, ''Tom, finish your dinner -- people in China are starving.'' But after sailing to the edges of the flat world for a year, I am now telling my own daughters, ''Girls, finish your homework -- people in China and India are starving for your jobs.''

I repeat, this is not a test. This is the beginning of a crisis that won't remain quiet for long. And as the Stanford economist Paul Romer so rightly says, '’A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.’”

In the past I have learned a lot from Friedman’s thinking, particularly his take on things in the Middle East as described in his book, From Beirut to Jerusalem. Yet, the notion of a world on the go, in eternal competition, 365/24/7, I find frightening. I’ve been around people always on the go and I’ve been around people who take life easy. My preference is for taking it easy.

Yet, somebody once told me that it is a dog eat dog world. So maybe in this sense, Friedman is correct in his admonitions.

Then I am reminded a story my friend Khalid told me. Khalid was born in Pakistan and now lives in Iowa. He is an architect. One day he was at a mosque with his father for service and somebody was complaining about some rule of ritual, maybe it was why women were segregated from men. Khalid told me that a man got up, and his response to the complaint was this: “We are not animals!” I guess what the man was trying to say is that human beings can move past instinct and habit and live by reason.

My point here is that the notion of dog eat dog world with prey having to continually outrun the predator is the Law of the Jungle that No Longer Exists. We haven’t had to live in the jungle for a long, long time. And, if did live in the jungle, most of us would be dead anyway. We’re crappy animals. We can’t run fast. We eat too much and watch too much TV.

So now that we have done away with The Jungle, why are we so intent on creating another one? I thought technology was supposed lessen the labor of life.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Q: What sort of world do you want?

A: As follows ...

I want a world in which there are more people in the Peace Corp than in the Marine Corp.

I want a world in which the price of gas becomes so expensive that we all take to the streets and start walking to work.

I want a world in which nobody’s grandmother is homeless.

I want a world in which there is only one gang, and it's run by a kid named Spanky.

I want a world in which everyone wants J. Paul Getty’s wealth so that they can build more museums.

I want a world in which Bill Gates is a registered Democrat.

I want a world in which Pedro Martinez came up through the Red Sox farm system and would never consider playing anyplace but Fenway.

I want a world in which people go to school to get smart and to spend time with others who are different.

I want a world in which Ronald Reagan won an Oscar, became a studio mogul and left the Presidency of the United States to others who are a bit more qualified.

I want a world in which people learn foreign languages to enhance their mind instead of their employment prospects.

I want a world in which no house is larger than 2000 sq. ft. because beyond that size limit happiness gives way to greed.

I want a world in which money isn’t funny.

I want a world in which sex is fun and has little commercial value.

I want a world in which most of the players in the NBA are white and most of the programmers at Microsoft and IBM are black.

I want a world in which every person gets the car that s/he has always wanted right out of high school and drives it until death.

I want a world in which people spend more time in cafés than in front of the TV and on the Internet.

I want a world in which people are more offended by weird death than weird sex.

I want a world in which the term Culture of Life means that no child lives on a diet of Dollar Meals because a dollar is all that is available.

I want a world in which birth control is in the water supply and you have to take a pill in order to have a child.

I want a world in which beating swords into ploughshares is a growth industry with investors lined up around the corner.

I want a world in which one's political affiliation is defined by thought rather than belief.

I want a world in which the Commonwealth is more prevalent than the Ownership Society.

I want a world in which every Wal-Mart has a carpeted kid's book section so that moms and dads can sit down with their kids and read to them before going to the DVD section to buy movies.

I want a world in which people eat more carrots than candy bars.

I want a world in which robots drive the UPS and FedEx trucks thus allowing the human drivers to go home and be paid to think big thoughts and create amazing paintings.

I want a world in which talk isn't cheap.

I want a world in which gay means happy and homosexuality is of no greater threat to society than an afternoon of college wrestling.

I want a world in which only dogs eat dog food.

I want a world in which justice really counts, regardless of newsworthiness.

I want a world in which we all just get along.