Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Here's my latest post on Cheating Culture, about Lance Armstrong and steroids. Armstrong is one of those athletes who has accomplished these great feats-beating cancer, dominating the Tour De France--while being a jerk, i.e., getting people around him to tell lies that go on for decades, and smearing the reputation of anyone who accuses him of using banned substances. Successful athletes have been held up as paragons of virtue for so long that it's hard to imagine that they are vile people in private. But clearly Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger et al. are jerks at best and deeply immoral at worst. It's as if having a lot of money and fame and power come to you for playing a game in your mid-20's is somehow a bad thing. Read more!
Monday, January 24, 2011
You wake up and feel like shit. Which is actually not headline news, because you were out drinking last night, which you do a lot, and when you aren’t out drinking you’re in drinking, but this shit you’re feeling is worse than that usual dryness-on-the-inside-of-your-body ache. You throat is scraped raw, like sometime during the night you stuck a rusty spoon down it, and your headache is an unusually hot and heavy one. Your whole forehead feels like an oddly throbbing bruise. If only scientists could harness the power of your headache, the country’s carbon usage would fall by whole percentage points.
Now, are you actually sick? You haven’t puked, although your stomach is making a fist. You get out of bed. Jesus, you’re shivering uncontrollably, it’s fucking freezing and you start this horrible coughing that is really alarming—time to call in to work sick.
When you were a kid, you savored that moment when your parental figure finally gave in and was like, “Alright, I guess you’ll have to stay home,” making your heart surge. Stay home! All right! Except now you are your own parental unit and you actually want to go to work. Or not “want,” exactly, but if you’re working a shit per-hour job you need that money you won’t earn in your bed or contorted over your uncleaned-in-weeks toilet gagging; and if you have a job with some responsibility that pays you a salary, well, you better get well enough to stumble to your laptop and answer some emails or there will be a mess waiting for you when you get back.
Also, remember those childhood sickdays when your parental unit—unsexed here because we don’t want to offend anyone whose father was the primary caregiver and nurturer, but we’re talking about an essentially maternal figure—would take the day off work, if he or she worked, and just hover around you giving you cough syrup and water and tea and toast lightly drizzled with honey and chicken noodle soup and whatever else you felt you could consume without heaving green bile into a pot that the primary caregiver was thoughtful enough to place at your bedside? Remember when you were asked, “What do you need, honey? Do you need anything?” That was the best part of being sick, and the best part of having parents, actually, is that sense of having someone who cares about your desires, who will ask you what you need and be sincere and even be willing to go out of her way to physically provide the thing whose absence has left a hole in your preadolescent heart, unless this thing is something impossible like a helicopter or something that you really don’t need, like a ferret or a box of chemically flavored fudge or another fucking video game system. What is life, once you’ve become taller than your parents and wandered afield, other than a search for someone who will once again ask you, “What do you need?” and mean it?
Well, anyway, you could sure use someone asking you those questions, but your roommates are gone doing whatever it is they do during the day and your fridge and cabinets are not exactly stocked with cans of nurturing soup and cold medication and herbal remedies. This reminds you that you live the kind of life where you basically have half a six pack, some mustard, bacon, and a few half-eaten vegetables in your fridge and not much else, and maybe you really should try to be healthier, or at least better prepared. But that’s for later. Now, you should get some supplies for being sick, which gets at the crux of what it’s like to be sick and on your own.
Are you going to go to the store? You can’t really drive, what with these shivers and this fever, and you aren’t going to get on a fucking bus in this condition, so you better hope the hypothetical second person tense this is about lives in a metro area in walking distance of a corner store or pharmacy. And then you have to carry the stuff home yourself, trembling in the suddenly-freezing weather, coughing with your entire body on the street like one of those homeless guys on his really depressing last legs, and you have to heat the soup up yourself, when what you really need to do is lie down in the bed that no one is making for you. You give up on soup. You drink tap water, lots of tap water, and then try juice but it makes you nearly vomit. Juice later then. You scarf aspirin down, feel your forehead, the stupidity of taking your own temperature. The afternoon light outside your window goes gray and then fades. You’re pretty sure you won’t puke now.
When you’re sick you can’t entertain yourself by surfing the internet—too much effort—and you can only read if you’re really dedicated to the book and your head doesn’t start throbbing. You can maybe manage a movie, half watching it and half sort of trying to sleep, but it has to be something stupid, the kind of movie you usually hate, and you hate it now, watching it—being sick doesn’t make you dumber. Do you try to masturbate? Masturbating when you’re sick, when you have the chills and are coated in a thin layer of dried sweat and your head is pounding, is terrible, it’s like trying to have sex while your sick, as if anyone would let you do that, and you can only bring yourself to orgasm if you try way too hard for way to long, and it isn’t even any good and you feel fucking disgusting afterwards. Don’t masturbate when you’re feeling sick. Just lie there, doing that kind of moaning thing you did when you were sick and home along, where you make a sustained noise with your mouth that combines the vibration of a vibrating phone with the sustained low-pitch whine of a circular saw. It sounds like a robot dying but you feel better when you do it, somehow, like a sonic security blanket, although you couldn’t do it when your parental unit was home because, you learned the hard way, they would get pretty alarmed that their child would make a noise like that for an extended period of time.
If you are sick for more than one day, you wonder if you will die of your illness. This is ignorant and self-centered, but it happens. Isn’t there a chance that you have something really serious masquerading as a flu? It could be like an episode of House where the patient of the week thinks she’s just sick, but she’s been sick for a month and her concerned loving husband (secretly a gambling addict, we learn in a side plot!) takes her in and House’s team solves her problem easily and is ready to discharge her but then she starts anally bleeding and has this horrible rash on her arm, oh god, and her eyes are slowly filling with blood while the white-coated doctors banter about how it can’t be that one obscure disease because otherwise she would have no sense of smell, and there’s a tearful scene with her gambling-addict husband and she is like, “Am I going to die? They won’t tell me,” and he goes “Yes, and I’m not going to tell you about my gambling addiction because I love you so much, more than baccarat, and I want to spare you pain in your final moments,” and things are looking really bad until House himself, as the result of a side plot where he has taken up recreational hatchet-throwing as a way to bond with Cuddy, solves the mystery of the patient’s anal bleeding and nearly kills someone with a hatchet in his haste to administer the exact right medication to the patient, who, you have to wonder at the end, is still not in the best place because she still doesn’t know that the husband lost the mortgage in one white-knuckled night of high-stakes blackjack.
Well, this will not happen to you, thankfully. You will just gradually get better until you just have a cold and you won’t drink for a while and then you will be drinking again and you will learn nothing from this, your kitchen will still just have a bunch of shitty junk food in it that a sick person could not eat.
But while you wait to get better, you still have to stand in front of your stove cooking scrambled eggs—the thought of more complex foods makes your stomach clench in protest—in your bathrobe, which is inside out because who gives a fuck? and your t-shirt that is your least favorite t-shirt because it has about 20 tiny holes in it, and you are blowing your nose into your t-shirt because there aren’t any Kleenex in reach and you are like, man, I must have done something wrong for this to happen to me. At least when you’re hungover, there’s a reason for it. Read more!
Friday, January 21, 2011
I don’t read everything that appears on the internet, but surely Abe Sauer’s long, exhaustively-researched hit piece on Christian aid groups in Haiti illegally using government money from USAID to proselytize to the voodoo-practicing Haitians before giving them aid was just about the best thing that flashed across anyone’s monitor last week. The law states that the US government can give money to Christian groups as long as they in turn spend that money caring for the needy and don’t thrust Bibles into native hands at the same time they, the Christian groups, are bandaging up those hands. Because, y’know, if the US formally funded groups devoted spreading evangelical Christianity in the third world it would violate the Constitution in a pretty direct way.
I don’t have anything really to say about the piece itself, other than you should go read it, right now, the whole thing, but I will say that whenever the religious right (and the organizations mentioned in this article are undoubtedly right-wing; they have Sarah Palin’s support and some are overseen by the Graham family) gets the government to bend backwards to appease their agenda, I get visibly angry. Not at the Christians, necessarily, but at the atheists, agnostics, and others that generally oppose the Christians’ goals but aren’t motivated or organized enough to stop them.
Look, I know the United States is a Christian nation--not “founded on Christian principles,” but clearly, dominated demographically by Christians. Furthermore, a lot of these Christians have no problem just standing up and yelling, “Stop teaching my children evolution!” or “Put the Ten Commandments outside of this motherfucking courthouse!” (They don’t say “motherfucking,” but the tone is close enough.) A lot of people who disagree with these statements—which are fucking insane, by the way—are more or less happy to ignore the Christians, or laugh them off, and basically go about their merry, non-spiritual business as organisms.
The problem with this is that the Christians win this way. As an atheist, I’m having more and more of a problem with that.
For years, I didn’t want to argue with any Christians, or be vocal about my non-belief. Because no one wants to listen to that smug asshole atheist yammering about the inconsistencies in the Bible and treating Christians like brain-damaged infants. But there’s a difference between letting people believe what they believe and having a situation where a US-funded aid group refuses to give a job to a Haitian man until he converts to Christianity. That shit is not okay, and it’s not anti-Christian to say so. We don’t have to fruitlessly debate the existence of God to point out that turning USAID into a Christian organization is terrible foreign policy.
Of course, some Christians believe that it is their duty to convert the unbelievers, especially the brown, downtrodden unbelievers who have just gone through a disaster and are emotionally fragile and have more immediate problems than a lack of Jesus, such as, their entire families are dead and they have no food or medicine. If you’re one of those Christians that believes that telling those people about Jesus is “helping” them, fuck you. Read more!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
In modern times, there’s no such thing as an “election year.” Elections never cease. Even now, after one election has barely ended, we’re already polling, punditing, and raging about the next election, which won’t actually happen for 22 months. This is good news if you like the kind of political reporting in which elections are treated like horse races, only these races last a lot longer and the horses die out one by one and collapse on the track until there is just one horse left standing on the pile of dead horses wheezing and bleeding and having had huge patches of skin ripped from its body in the course of the race, and this horse pledges to restore civility to Washington and get things done, dammit, while beneath the winning horse, the dead horses slowly start to come back to life, making statements via Twitter and pledging to tear the winning horse into pieces. For those of us who don’t enjoy this spectacle, the prospect of primaries “just around the corner” makes us shiver and break out into a cold sweat.
Thankfully, we don’t need to care about the 2012 presidential election. We don’t need to write long, speculative pieces in New York magazine about how Sarah Palin could become president, or talk about whether Michael Bloomberg will run as a third-party candidate, or parse the minutiae—and oh God, will there be minutiae—of the Republican primary. We don’t need to talk about this stuff even if we really follow the news and care about politics. Why not? Because unless something changes, like we hit another recession, or he gets caught in a hotel room with a dead woman or a live boy, Obama is going to win reelection, and might even do so fairly easily, which would render the primary season pretty much moot.
Moot how? Well, some potential candidates like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie are probably going to sit this cycle out, which they presumably wouldn’t if Obama were that vulnerable. The polls pretty much back this up—there was a funny one from a few months ago showing that people liked a generic Republican candidate better than Obama, but they liked Obama better than any actual Republican candidate. The frontrunners for the nomination (Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich) are all pretty terrible as candidates.
To break it down one by one: Palin is popular with a certain kind of frothy-mouthed bloggy Republican who answers polling questions on Redstate, but she’s laughably unelectable in the country at large. Romney has the opposite problem: The base doesn’t like him any better than it did the last go-round, maybe because he’s a Mormon, maybe because he supported health care reform in Massachusetts. Newt—Jesus, do we need to consider him seriously now? If he came out of the primary, liberals would turn out to oppose him just as they would to oppose Sarah Palin.
Huckabee, well, Tom Jensen at left-leaning Public Policy Polling thinks that he’s the best GOP candidate. Huckabee has a fun name (although easily turned into “Fuckabee”), he’s an affable guy, he lost a bunch of weight and is committed to fighting obesity, he’s super Christian, he’s all about Zionism—pretty attractive to Republicans, all things considered. But when he ran for president four years ago, he got hosed everywhere except for Iowa and the South, and Chuck Norris isn’t going to help him when the aggressively ideological “values voters” and hard-line conservatives attack him. Already, Mike Pence (who?) polled better at something called the Values Voter Summit, and Ann Coulter called him a liberal for not wanting to kill and eat illegal immigrants. Can an election turn ugly before it even begins?
Just ignore any news coming out of this primary season, please. Even if I write something about it, don’t read it—find some articles about baseball instead, even if it’s only spring training. Or just watch YouTube footage of car accidents in slow motion or something. And if you live in New Hampshire or Iowa, I’d advise you to leave the state before the candidates descend on your state. This won’t be a media circus, it’ll be a months-long ten-way screaming match, with the winner inevitably covered in mud, blood, and allegations of homosexuality—and that candidate is probably going to go down in history as the next Bob Dole. Read more!
Friday, January 7, 2011
I have a new post (new-ish, anyway) post on CheatingCulture.com, if any readers are getting tired of joke posts and pop culture. Politics coming soon--the 2012 Presidential News Cycle is just beginning to spin! *Vomits blood* Read more!
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
You aren’t going to go to the gym, finish your novel, father a child, or meet your future husband. You will not legalize gay marriage nationwide, or go to space, or eat better. Your shaking, cold-sweat night terrors will not end in 2011, nor will your years of emotionally crippling loneliness. You won’t tell everyone what you really think. So here are some resolutions you will actually be able to keep:
Keep drinking. You know you’re going to keep drinking anyway, don’t torture yourself by walking back and forth in front of the liquor store in the cold trying to restrain yourself. Maybe just try not to black out so much this year?
Learn the difference between it’s and its, your and you’re, and there, their, and they’re.
Keep sending photos of your penis to coworkers who reject your clumsy advances. Who cares if that shit ends up on Deadspin? Someone is going to like what she sees, and then it’s party time for Brett, or whatever your name is.
Speaking of your penis, let’s make 2011 the year you finally come up with a clever name for it. For instance: The Pale King, Lil’ Abner (if your name is Abner), The Little Engine that Could, Yul Brynner (if you are circumcised), or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are all acceptable nicknames.
You know that girl who works in the next cubicle? The one who wears those red pants? Jesus, stop staring at her ass every time she walks by. It’s fucking creepy, and people are noticing. She’s young enough to be your daughter, you know.
No one wants to hear about your cats. Make a note of this.
Use your time in prison to hone your body and mind so when the parole board gives you time off for good behavior—thanks to your having been a model inmate, a pillar of the community, a baritone in the chapel choir—you will be an unstoppable killing machine.
Cultivate a fake British accent.
Quit masturbating in the bathroom during your coffee break. You’re going to get caught one of these days, and then what will you do? How are you going to explain that?
Spend less time following celebrity gossip, as your encyclopedic knowledge of Scarlett Johansson’s relationships and Megan Fox’s favorite clubs is disconcerting to people you meet at parties.
Let’s see if we can stop those abrupt fits of heavy weeping in public, shall we?
Tell your boss you need to be made Head Fry Cook, because you’ve been working here for six months now and Tom keeps calling in sick and everyone knows he has a drug problem and should get fired, and you could use the extra cash because you’re trying to get a place of your own for you and your kid, and maybe Amber if she’ll come back to you and dump that meathead Randy—anyway, you need to tell Jerry that if you don’t get that promotion and a raise, there are plenty of other kitsch-themed family restaurants that would love to have your grease-management skills.
Dress yourself in robes of linen and drink the blood of animals. The time of fire and tribulation is nigh! Read more!