the snark factor

Climate Change & Evolution

(Winter 2015)

Climate change is obviously producing very negative effects in many areas of the world. Many parts of the US too, but fortunately not where we live in the Northwest – yet. Last night, I think it was, on the news they showed a weather map of the US – our tiny area on the map was very strangely the same color green as Florida and vicinity! The rest of the country was blanketed in white and other colors which indicated very bad weather.

I’ve decided to stop using the term “global warming” because right-wing crazies point to all the cold and snowy weather as “proof” that such a thing doesn’t exist. They are certifiable and don’t have a shred of sophisticated understanding of anything (though in their stoney little hearts they probably do realize their days are numbered, so they’re digging in their heels and throwing fits about anything that bodes of even a tiny bit of progress, change, or inclusion of anyone they deem “unworthy” (ie: poor folk, certain immigrants, people who don’t marry the right people, those who have the “wrong” religion or skin color.)

Sometimes I wonder if the human race will ever evolve to the point where we actually qualify to be called “civilized”? We’ve been around more than 100,000 years, but I’m called impatient by folks who believe we have made “a lot of progress” since the days of marauding conquerors and “barbarians”. They think we are evolving and excuse our barbarity because we’ve only been here a short time in the great span of things.

Um, really? We are still at war most of the time, or threatening to be; we still have many more nuclear weapons than anyone rationally can justify as deterrents; we still suffer thru the devastation that greedy corporations create at will; we obviously think nothing of wrecking our environment and exterminating other species, and even our own species. These are just a few of many examples of how primitive we still are, but those defenders of us humans stubbornly tout us as the vastly superior species. Yeah, whatever……………

WOW

Walls, Wars, and Old White Men

It seems to me that most of the world’s problems are created by old men – old fart politicos who are frequently, though not always, of the white persuasion. I know this isn’t remotely “pc”: but when we lose one of these guys to the annals of time and history, there’s a part of me that celebrates – a little fillip of hope dances in my heart. The dance, unfortunately becomes a little less enthusiastic the next time I watch the news, and slows more with each subsequent viewing. But a tiny shiver of hope always remains, waiting to be revived, sustained by the knowledge these guys can’t live forever……(except for Dick Cheney.)

Not to make excuses for my terrible attitude, but these are the guys who keep using the same old beat-up ideas to beat up on others – seems like they wouldn’t recognize an original thought if it whacked them hard on the back of the head! (And speaking of bats, maybe we should start a “trade in your guns for bats” campaign; it’s a little more intimidating to contemplate exchanging close-up bone-crushing blows rather than firing off those tiny, impersonal bullets from a distance.) Furthermore, I think we need a constitutional amendment that states: “Anyone prepared to declare war must also be prepared to personally conduct that war on the front lines, on the ground.” That might nip some of this gratuitous war-mongering right in the bud. (Oh, PS: if you can’t go, your kid or any other able-bodied relation goes.)

And another thing: the UN – don’t get me started……oh well, too late…..this venerable institution which began with such huge promise for the entire world has become a paralyzed, toothless old fossil with nonads in place of gonads. It needs a big kick-in-the-ass and definitely a damn sight more women occupying those chairs with their different kind of gonads representing. If I were one of these women some of the first things I’d propose are:

– IF a country or countries cannot, within a specified period (say six to nine months max) resolve internal and external conflicts, and major social issues such as the abuse and exploitation of children or women, they will lose their right to sovereignity and the UN will step in until the problem is solved. If they don’t comply, they are booted out of the UN, NATO, EU, WTO etc. All aid and other emergency support would then go directly to the people, and this would be supervised by an adequate contingent of UN reps and troops. All trade and any other international financial dealings or incentives would stop. No ifs, No ands, No buts. If compliance is then exhibited for a number of years (TBD) they may get to rejoin all clubs on a probationary basis.

– NO country gets to build a border wall instead of solving the real problems which have created the perceived “need” for a wall. (What a cheesy bs way of dealing with things!)
– NO country gets to refuse to participate in the International Criminal Court, any environmental summit, UN, or World Trade meetings.
– NO country gets to unilaterally block UN mandates or decisions, rather a majority vote of all member countries is required. The “security council” will be eliminated.
– NO country gets to keep its nukes, especially while telling everyone else they can’t have them. (This one particularly irks me – reminding me of parents who tell their kids they can’t smoke while they stand there puffing away.)

Well, that’s it for now, my bile level has reached its daily quota and then some. – buon carnage!

Cells Run Amok

Occasionally I occupy myself by viewing this earth-world of ours as if it were one cell in a vast humming universe of cells. All are more or less different and serve various functions but all are subtly, yet strongly connected. From this perspective it appears our particular cell is quite bent on self-destruction with all its tiny internal parts battling each other in fierce and pointless duels. This cell obviously hasn’t the sense to realize its survival depends completely on the cooperation and mutual support of its countless parts, rather than the “victory” of one over the other.

It baffles me that after billions of years at this game of adapting, developing, and sustaining life, this cell with supposedly intelligent elements within it hasn’t yet developed better sense (the survival of the fittest stategy now being rather obsolete and all). Rather it seems profoundly dumb – not much better than an amoeba. And shockingly, in a way dumber because amoebas and most other basic organisms have parts that actually work together cooperatively to sustain their life and growth. They don’t senselessly destroy themselves!

Humans seem therefore, to be more like a virus which has taken over our cell, gobbling its parts up and everything else around it, absolutely heedless of the very real and devastating consequences including, ultimately, the complete demise of the very thing which sustains it.
What could be the vaccine for these “humanaids” run amok? Why have all suggested cures thus far failed? Why has the larger global entity of the cell itself not realized what’s happening? Can it not sense its illness? Why did it not long-ago recognize and stop this plague which has caused its dysfunction and contamination?

It’s incredible to me that each of us, though so much smaller than an atom in this scheme, believes that our own personal existence has such great significance, and that even our smallest actions are of great “importance” – yet we typically lack a corresponding sense of responsibility to the whole organism, without which we simply cannot exist.

If we were more sensitive and attentive to our surroundings, wouldn’t more of us realize something is very wrong and getting dangerously wronger? Wouldn’t we understand that we’re fouling our own nest and even killing our own kind? Why are we so bloody obtuse? Isn’t it our role (as the “most intelligent” elements of our cell) to be conscious custodians? We arrogantly think of ourselves as in charge of it all, but every day each of us inadvertently does some thing or, even more ignorantly, many things to help destroy our life support system.

What is being worked out here?
Is this just a small faulty cell in the vast universe that will, and must, eventually destroy itself? (So far it has been amazingly resilient – surviving so many brutal forms of internal assault. But really, how long can this last?) Or has something else gone just terribly wrong with an experiment called human life, and it’s doomed to fail? Or is this also happening elsewhere in other cells in the universe, so no big deal – it’s just the normal cycles of life and death being repeated? On the other hand, as with all other living things (like those amoebas), will the instinctive drive toward survival ultimately produce a viable new adaptation or mutation which will lead us, and the cell in which we dwell, in a more sustainable direction?

Obviously we’re still just at the beginning stages of the slow evolution of these mysteriously endowed and largely unused brains of ours. My worry is that in the meantime, our stupidity combined with our destructive power will put an unfortunate and premature end to it all, taking everything else down with us. But maybe that’s okay too, being as we’re not as “precious” as we seem to think we are. Other forms of life would arise and perhaps do a better job. That I’d like to see………..

On Writing Like D.B.

I’ve always wanted to write like Dave Barry. But to do that honestly I’d have to be Dave Barry, and unless he’s secretly a sixty-ish, slightly crotchety, yet still-young-at-heart woman, that ain’t gonna happen. So I must be content to continue with the kind of short essays I’ve always written which address whatever serious issue captures my fancy at the moment. Or more accurately, whatever gets my goat at the moment. (If I were Dave Barry I’d now insert a clever little aside like: “What if I don’t have a goat to be got?” And readers would howl with laughter. Alas it seems only Dave can pull that off, and I shall have to live with DB envy forevermore.)

The best approximation of DB’s style I can muster is snarky, satirical, or ironic snidery that hopefully elicits at least a chuckle or smile. But better yet, a jolt of recognition, because ultimately my primary goal is not to amuse but to pull the wool off rather than over, uncloud, remind, illustrate, clarify, illuminate, awaken. To that end, my writing typically focuses on observations about culture, society, politics etc. and may at times seem esoteric, or even convoluted. (My father complained the stuff’s too complicated. This is a bit worrisome, because he was one of the kinds of folks I most want to reach! Not quite “Joe the plumber” but close enough.)

The writing doesn’t always start out that way, but ends up like that due to the way my brain works. I can take a pretty straightforward topic and by the time I’m done with it, there are all sorts of interconnections and extrapolations caught up in the tight net I’ve cast in the process of elaborating. Plus, as you can see, I like to use a lot of descriptive words, commas, italics, and quotation marks. Thanks to attending an almighty Journalism School I know I’m not “supposed” to, but I just can’t help it. They seem to have to be there for me to clearly make my point. Does that mean I’m a crappy writer who uses these cheap and despised “gimmicks” (see there they are again) to make my points? I don’t know, maybe.

In my defense I truly do strive for clarity, so don’t know exactly how what I was trying to say sometimes gets tangled up like yarn after a cat attack. During one reading it will all seem crystal clear, verging on dare-I-say “astute”? Yet reading the same essay another time can feel like I’m trudging thru water loaded with sediment. It’s like two people with entirely different sensibilities are reading the same stuff. Crazy. Honestly I’ve tried to do without these crutches as much as possible, and with enough reviewing often find that I can eliminate some. But oftentimes not, so there they stay like so much confetti strewn upon the pages. Just think of them as hieroglyphics……there for some very mysterious but good reason. (BTW have I used enough mixed metaphors?)

On the other hand some folks who’ve read my work have described it as: “like a dream”; “lyrical”; “paints terrific word pictures”; “a joy to read”; “beautiful prose”. They obviously know more than I do about what constitutes good writing! (And no, though tempting, I will absolutely NOT stick an lol in here. I abhor the things. But trust me I am, as I speak, laughing at myself.)

So hearing from you and getting your feedback would be both enlightening and terrifying. I look forward to it! – AH