Surrender

kveikurI’m never been much for podcasts. I can’t tell if that’s my own biases against being introduced to a new medium or a problem with the medium itself. Did people dismiss early cinema as nothing more than a novelty because they hadn’t yet seen what it could become? It’s quite possible. A lot of podcasts, to me, sound like a bunch of friends shooting the shit. That’s it. I’m sorry, but you need to have more than that if you want me to listen to it. I don’t even have that many friends and I think listening to other people and their friends talk about nothing is boring. Seriously, I don’t get it: What is the appeal of listening to people you don’t know go on random comedic tangents for an hour or more without ever coming to a point? I’m not trying to be dismissive here, but I honestly do not understand why people like some of this crap. This American Life is about people’s lives, and the stories are organized around a theme. Savage Love is relationship advice. WTF With Marc Maron is interviews, although he opens with a story. Even with a podcast, there has to be a point.

Maybe I’m weird, but I like to think of everything as a potential learning experience. Even if I’m just going down the street for a burger, I feel like I’m cheating myself if I’m not looking for a chance to be enriched, entertained, or educated. A lot of new media doesn’t do it for me: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. That probably does have more to do with the fact that those platforms are relatively new, but I don’t particularly like any of them, which means that I’m kind of an old fuddy-duddy even though I’m in my 20s. I’m getting left behind, but admittedly, it is by my choice. Since I’m straying into well-trod territory here, let me shift gears and talk about a story that is constantly updating: LGBT equality. Specifically, let’s talk about the wide world of sports. More and more athletes are coming out, and while very few of them are doing so at the professional level, it’s only a matter of time. I think what’s holding us back is that even though there are parallels between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement, there are some differences, and we have to acknowledge that as well.

There is something very primal about sexuality that race and possibly even gender don’t touch. It’s not something that you can often tell just by looking at someone, and that confuses a lot of people. More importantly, it causes a lot of LGBT people to think that there is something special about them if you can’t tell just by looking at them. Sometimes you can, but that’s not the point. It’s been such a lazy stereotype for so long that gay men aren’t into sports that now that we are learning that some of our athletes are gay, we need to stop acting like it’s that big of a shock. Yes, some gay men love sports. And some straight men love fashion. Could you seriously not have figured that out on your own? It’s ironic that sports are typically held up as a bastion of masculinity, because really, what is gayer than slapping on tight pants and shoulder pads and slamming into other guys for a while? Football’s pretty gay too, come to think of it.

I’ve learned by now that people will never leave you alone if you let them do it on their terms. This does not mean that you have to shut everyone out for fear that they will hurt you, only that you have to own your own words and actions, whatever they are. As I’ve probably said before, I have a million regrets. But I’m not sorry for anything. I just don’t have the time. You can roll your eyes when I say that I’m the greatest human being who ever lived, but as far as I’m concerned, I am, and who are you to tell me I’m wrong? It’s all about living in the present, not that I’m all that good at that. I spend most of my time brooding in my room. The only person I can name who hated humanity more than I do is Bill Hicks, and he died at 32 because he didn’t take very good care of his body. I’ve heard multiple people quote George Carlin as saying, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that leave you breathless.” Bullshit. Carlin didn’t say that. That’s from a chain email that somebody claimed was written by him. He would never have said something so trite and meaningless.

I have decided that there is one thing about California that I’m going to miss when I eventually get out of here, and that’s In-N-Out Burger. There is no other fast food chain that compares to it. It’s not the best burger around, just the best burger you can get for under $10. Double-double animal style, there is no competition. New York has Five Guys, but aside from the fries, there’s nothing too remarkable about them, and I say that as somebody who used to eat there pretty regularly. We all have our fast food, I suppose.

I’m not a very good judge of what will take off and what doesn’t. This blog has never climbed very far about 1,000 hits per month, and even then very briefly. Whatever. What I have to say these days doesn’t quite fit into this format, and maybe that’s for the best. Because I want to push outward. I want to find out just what I can get away with and what I’m capable of. And when that’s done, I want time to watch season two of Orphan Black. I go at my own pace, is what I’m trying to say. Don’t try to stop me.

Making Sense

I used to be more scientifically-minded than I am. As a child, I played with chemistry sets and the like, checking out books on aviation and electronics from the library. I even entered in one or two science fairs. Somewhere along the line, that changed. I was very proud of making it all the way through my undergraduate education without taking a single hard science or math course. Now, I’m struggling to remember all of the things that I learned as a child. We had four labs this week, and for this semester, that’s going to be the rule rather than the exception. Needless to say, it was kind of intense. The refreshing thing about science is that once you get past the jargon and the various units and formulas, it’s quite intuitive. When you’re finished with a lab, your conclusion shouldn’t just be a dry interpretation of data. It should make sense. Most things do.

What is fascinating to me about many of my courses is the political agenda that lies beneath the surface. My professors aren’t preachers; they don’t hammer us over the head with their message and clearly want us to learn to think for ourselves. But it’s fairly difficult to be as passionate as they are about helping others understand the way that the natural world works and not want to tear out one’s hair over the obstinacy of much of the public. People don’t want facts. They ignore the ones that don’t suit them and distort what remains to conform to what they want to believe. It is an unsustainable way of living, and come November, I hope people will vote for the politicians that they believe in rather than just the ones who make them feel good. I have said before that I am not very fond of moderates. I prefer conservatives, who stand for something, even if it isn’t what I believe. My point is that I honestly believe it is better to believe in something that is evil than to believe in nothing at all. Evil can be converted. Indifference…not so much.

There are many who have a defeatist attitude about the American political system. They say that elections are all a sham, that there is no difference between the two parties and the only thing that we have the power to choose is how exactly we want to get ass-fucked. I call shenanigans. I don’t want to choose between the lesser of two evils. I want to live in a world where every now and then, the good guys win and the bad guys are duly punished. I don’t want to believe that the only reason any of us gets up in the morning and does what we do is because it beats stagnation. Defeatism is stagnation. It is not only counterproductive, but counterfactual. Look around at the world you live in. Does this look to you like a world in which nothing good ever comes of hard work and strong morals? If the answer is yes, look again. You’ll see it, unless you’re trying hard not to.

I think some of the older generation have forgotten what it was like to be young. George Carlin, as much as I love him, delivered an infuriating routine late in his career about the death of the American Dream. Carlin, as you may know, came from humble beginnings to become one of the most beloved comics and comedic actors of the 20th century. Who is he to tell anyone that the Dream is dead? Even in death, he is proof that it’s not gone just yet. Have we really changed that much in the last 70-plus years that there is no room in our culture for people who do what Carlin did, to talk truth to power and make people laugh about the contradictions and insecurities that keep us from realizing our full potential? I got into an argument about a month ago with a blogger who was reacting cynically to Joe Biden’s endorsement of gay marriage, saying that even if it was a step forward, the efforts of so many Washington insiders to walk it back reeked of cowardice. I didn’t check back to see what he thought about Barack Obama’s endorsement a few days later. By that point, I’d had enough. I’m not going to waste my time with people who can’t give our elected officials credit when they actually get something right, who can’t see that when it comes to issues like healthcare reform and the repeal of DADT, it’s less important that they happen at the time and in the manner that we want than that they happen at all. I’m pragmatic that way.

I have no patience for people who try to shape the world to fit their own view of it rather than the other way around. I don’t live with a filter. Whenever I try to put one up, something nasty gets through and forces me to deal with it. Perhaps some people are better at walling themselves off from what they don’t want to experience than I am. All I know is that when I look back at the last few years, I think that we, as a nation, have grown stronger. I’ve grown stronger as well.