Friday, April 13, 2007

The Elephant That Went Over The Falls

When hotels are built where wildlife preserves should be, tragedy occurs.

This just made me sad.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Cadbury Creme Egg Conspiracy

A conspiracy? You be the judge. Go to the webpage now and you'll read this:

Why has the size of the egg changed?

As the world's largest confectionery company, Cadbury Schweppes is committed to developing great-tasting products that you, the consumer loves. Since people's preferences vary from market to market, so do our products. This is reflected in the broad variety of sizes and flavours of products that we offer our consumers worldwide.
Yes, I'm sure Americans just demanded a smaller creme egg. makes sense??

But before the Conan episode aired, the SAME page was a bit different.
Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt

Rest In Peace, Mr. Vonnegut

"When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is 'So it goes'."

The first book of Vonnegut's that I ever read was Cat's Cradle. I believe it was on the suggested reading list upon entering NYU. I was completely blown away. Vonnegut creates his own language, his own history, his own world-- his own religion. And the amazing part about it is that nothing sounds like fantasy. The often bizarre and ridiculous actions undertaken by the characters in the novel do not seem unrealistic... indeed, contrasted with the real life actions of mankind, which Vonnegut reminds us of time and time again, the actions and events in Cat's Cradle seem to fit a tragic pattern of human absurdity. If man can drop the atom bomb and label it a success, then it's not that far a leap to imagine the end of the world arising from horrific human ignorance and arrogance. In times like this, with our government seemingly bent on bombing the world in order to save it, a novel like Cat's Cradle (published in 1963) is as poignant as ever. Breakfast of Champions and Slaughterhouse-Five tackle the same theme. They follow mankind's blissful blindness and chronicle it. In each, Vonnegut's main character (a stand-in for himself) learns he needs to wake up before it's too late-- but struggles to bring that message to the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, no books by Vonnegut were on Bush's reading list. But they should be on yours.

His books draw you in with their humor, their unique outlook on life, their quirky characters-- who often are much like people you know. His most bizarre creations, like the Tralfamadorians (aliens who can see the past, present and future all at once), and Bokonon (an island religious prophet who writes in calypsos), are outsiders who are able to view our world objectively, and offer philosophies that are genius in their simplicity:

"I once knew an Episcopalian lady in Newport, Rhode Island, who asked me to design and build a doghouse for her Great Dane. The lady claimed to understand God and His Ways of Working perfectly. She could not understand why anyone should be puzzled about what had been or about what was going to be.

And yet, when I showed her a blueprint of the doghouse I proposed to build, she said to me, "I'm sorry, but I never could read one of those things."

"Give it to your husband or your minister to pass on to God," I said, "and, when God finds a minute, I'm sure he'll explain this doghouse of mine in a way that even you can understand."

She fired me. I shall never forget her. She believed that God liked people in sailboats much better than He liked people in motorboats. She could not bear to look at a worm. When she saw a worm, she screamed.

She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he can see what God is Doing" --Bokonon's Autobiography
A brilliant storyteller, and perhaps even more brilliant philosopher, Vonnegut will be missed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Duke Rape Charges Dropped

Duke Kids

First off, I want to make something clear. I promise this little rant isn't going to be a blog entry calling DA Mike Nifong a deuchebag. And it's not going to attack the female accuser. And it's not going to declare the three Duke boys innocent victims and urge that they be considered for sainthood. The charges were dropped, but no one's walked away innocent.

Nifong, at least initially, did what any good district attorney should do. He believed someone who claimed to be a rape victim. There's already too many rape victims in this country who are afraid to come forward because they don't think people will believe them.

His mistake of course, was turning this whole thing into a media circus. He didn't just believe the victim, he began to ignore any evidence that was contrary to her account. That said, a lot of rape victims don't have their stories straight. That, initially, was not as big a red flag as many people think it should have been. But Nifong went on TV time and time again declaring the Duke boys guilty before he had even built a case against them. In the end, Nifong's vanity was his downfall. He didn't have to go on TV or speak to the media. But he did, possibly because it looked good in an election year.

And the female accuser... well. She clearly has some problems. She's clearly not completely sane. And maybe the reason is that she was raped or abused at some point in her life. I don't think anyone should drag her through the mud. It's not her fault that Nifong chose to use her case to further his career. And, I should point out, she was victimized... in a different way than rape.

That leads me to the Duke boys. Newsweek says they got their reputations back. But they shouldn't be let off the hook that easily. Yes, every major news organization should send them an apology and a nice gourmet gift basket. But we shouldn't forget that the rape charges overshadowed behavior that shouldn't be easily forgiven, behavior that none of the boys have denied. The same behavior that everyone now is smacking around Don Imus for. The Duke boys used racial slurs. They demeaned two women for kicks. Not once have they denied this. Yes, they didn't rape the girl, but they did call her a n****r. I'm not ready to declare them martyrs for justice.

And in case you're wondering why I refer to the Duke boys as "Duke boys" instead of "Duke Lacrosse Players," read my previous blog entry. I said it once and I'll say it again THIS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH LACROSSE. I don't care what Slate and Rolling Stone said. Those guys could have easily all been members of the chess team. There's no secret worldwide lacrosse subculture of loose morality and uber-privilege, complete with keg lined locker rooms stocked with slutty sorority girls and brainless muscleheads.

That's just the DUKE culture.

Oooh. Yes, that's right, I dissed Duke right there. I never promised I wasn't going to do that.

Visitor Map: