In her utterly embarrassing and thoroughly discredited appearance on Mike Huckabee’s FOX News program earlier this week, former Sen. Blanche Lincoln made our task way too easy.
The former senator from Arkansas made so many inaccurate statements and committed such a multitude of factual blunders that conspiracy theorists might reasonably suspect she’s actually a plant working for the other side.
Seriously, she was that bad.
Black Friday is the most grotesque holiday ever invented by humankind.
It’s a collective manifestation of hysterical mobs and mass greed, a corporatist conspiracy designed to cattle prod America into a chaotic buying frenzy. It’s an outlandish propaganda campaign intended to cage even greater numbers of Americans deeper into debt. It’s the unscrupulous grand design of the evil axis which exists between banks, retailers, and advertisers to guarantee that the working class stays in hock up to their fucking eyeballs.
Have I made it perfectly clear that I don’t like Black Friday?
Yet the real irony isn’t that there’s an entire day dedicated to the avaricious pursuit of shopping. It’s that all this trivial madness comes less than 24 hours after we’ve given “thanks” for what we already have.
Black Friday is hypocrisy at it’s worst.
Those are the first words you’re likely to hear at the mother of all mind fucks — the dreaded annual family get together which unfolds today.
For many families, what begins as a blissful reunion and a genuine celebration of kinship deteriorates into heated arguments, wounded feelings, and solitary post-dinner rants targeted at all the people who said rude things or pissed you off during the previous six hours. Add in those simmering decades-old anxieties, excessive alcohol consumption, and a few losing football bets, and the recipe becomes complete for resentment and misery.
Such affairs require a solid game plan. Here’s a list of the hot topics most likely to come at Thanksgiving Dinner this year, along with my recommendations on what to say versus what not to say:
Just in time for the holiday travel season, here’s my list of America’s best and worst major airports.
Note that consideration was given only to large airports, which means either destinations which handle lots of traffic or hubs which handle millions of transfers.
Smaller regional airports such as Burbank, West Palm Beach, Providence, Long Beach, Dallas Love Field, and others were not graded. These airports tend only to be end-point destinations for most flights.
The key factors used in my rankings were — general airport condition (age/renovations), convenience to city, cost-availability of transportation to city center, chances of delays (weather based), ease of plane-to-plane transfers, comfort and amenities (restaurants, WiFi, etc.), cleanliness, and my own highly-subjective travel experiences.
Also, in order to make either list, I had to have personally visited or flown through the airport.
Here’s the best and worst American airports:
“The safest road to hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts….”
— C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
The Ferguson matter reveals the growing crevasse between voyeurs with little or no personal insight who make snap judgments far too quickly.
On both sides.
This means you. This means me. This means protestors in the streets. This means the opportunistic activists and agitators. This means looters. This means the racist sickos who post hateful messages in the comments sections on news forums. This means politicians. Indeed, this means just about everyone who wasn’t either: (1) a witness to the original incident, (2) part of the investigation, or (3) a member of the grand jury which declined to indict a police officer for a crime.
I don’t have time for small talk.
When you approach me, get straight to the fucking point and wrap it up within a reasonable amount of time. Is that too much to ask? Otherwise, my mind will wander elsewhere and you might as well be talking to a wall.
This goes for every form of communication — telephone conversations, e-mails, texts, and most certainly our face-to-face exchanges. I can chose to ignore your phone chatter and texts if they start to bore me. But direct conversation carries with it a unique obligation to be pertinent and precise. So, do as I say!
What follows is a handy checklist on the ways and means to properly engage me in meaningful conversation. By following these simple rules and guidelines you will significantly improve your chances that I will both listen to what you have to say, and perhaps even care. There’s no guarantee of this, of course. You better shine like the hope diamond. And you’ve got about ten seconds to do it, otherwise my busy mind leaves the station. So, come to me loaded with your best comments and questions and be prepared to fire them at me when I’m ready.
What’s the biggest difference between being merely good versus great?
For most, it’s a readiness to make personal sacrifices. It’s the ability to withstand pain. At times, it’s even the willingness to suffer, not just physically, but also in terms of humiliation.
The greats forgo competing interests. They cede mundane pleasures. While their peers play, they spend time and energy continuously crafting their skills. Blind ambition begets this monogamous mistress. Whether the singular pursuit is music, art, writing, science, athletics, or whatever, success almost always comes at a price — which for those fortunate enough to achieve it means putting everything else on hold. That goes for family, relationships, even one’s own personal needs.
It’s perhaps why so many musicians turn to alcohol and drugs for sustenance.
Yesterday’s essay contended these are “the best of times” for most of the world’s population. [Are These the Best of Times or the Worst of Times?]
Not quite so fast. Today’s essay will provide what I believe is an equally persuasive counterargument.
My contention was centered entirely around humankind. Regrettably, much of our collective and individual betterment has come at a severe cost to the other living creatures who share our planet and the environment which in some cases is stressed way beyond its capacity to sustain us much further. This pernicious bartering not only raises serious moral questions about what we’re doing to the rest of the world, but also spawns an entirely new series of potentially catastrophic problems that we must face right now, and in the years to come. Otherwise, it’s simple. We’ll become extinct.
Indeed, humanity is considerably safer, healthier, better-fed, and more enlightened than at any time in history. That claim does seem irrefutable. But what about those sharing our world — such as plants and animals? What about non-living things which are absolutely essential for human sustenance — like clean air and water, and reasonably stable climates and temperatures? In these areas, we appear to be failing miserably. Such failures are certain to produce dire consequences if they’re not addressed and corrected soon, before we cross the point of no return.
Given this threat, are these really the best of times? Perhaps not.
NOTICE TO READERS:
For the first time since I launched this website (in August 2012), my football betting bankroll has been completely wiped out. Hence, this is the first football Sunday in more than two and a half years where I am NOT posting my weekly picks.
I could go off in many different directions about this — from expressing humor to outrage (sometimes one and the same). I could make lame-ass excuses or complain about my bad luck. But my decline and ultimate defeat as a football bettor for this period all boils down pretty much to three things:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair….
If he were alive today, Charles Dickens would have plenty of things to write about.
Dickens’ most acclaimed novel, A Tale of Two Cities, depicted common life in London and Paris during the late 18th century. As troublesome as his stark portrayal was to readers during his day, the desperate plight of those earlier times now seems downright gentile compared to the lurking dangers and anxieties of living in a seemingly dystopian modern world now filled with nuclear weapons, global terrorism, and the outbreak of killer epidemics.
In so many ways, it seems we are living in the worst of times. If there’s any doubt, take a look around. Generations before never had to worry about crazed fanatics crashing airplanes into skyscrapers, or releasing biological or chemical weapons into our major cities. Our ancestors lived mostly quiet lives on farms or in urban centers and kept to themselves. They had much simpler lives. Sundays were for church. No one needed a Xanax. Sure, daily life wasn’t always a picnic for ordinary people. Life could certainly be hard. Then again, the average medieval villager never had to endure a TSA search or suffer an IRS audit.
So then, it would seem these are — the worst of times.
But are they really? Let’s think about that for a moment.
Actually, the answer is — no.
In fact, these are the best of times — and by a very wide margin. Living conditions are constantly improving by leaps and bounds each and every year. People are much healthier and safer now than in yesteryear. As hard as this might be to fathom given all we read and hear about all the horrible things going on in the world, compare the status of people living today with any other time in history.
In today’s essay, I shall do precisely that: