Tag Archives: newton

Fame Day: Basic Human Decency

I like to rail on our society.

Our blatant disregard for the poor. Our willful ignorance in the information age. Our hypocritical sense of morality. Capitalism. People who have perfect eyesight but wear glasses for “fashion.”

Worst. People. Ever.

But for all of that, I genuinely do think we’re making some (small) progress as a culture. Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that beneath every person’s thin veneer of civilization lies a seething volcano of barbarism, cannibalism, and baby-punching-ism waiting to be unleashed at any minute. There’s no changing that.

How awesome was this scene?

Nevertheless, we are getting better in some regards. Specifically, I’m thinking about an image I saw not too long ago.

You can’t really argue with that. When something is wrong, it’s wrong. “Injustice anywhere is…”

Well, you get the idea.

Now this guy deserves some applause on his own, but it’s really the bigger picture I want to direct the spotlight to. It’s the simple belief that there’s a basic set of expectations for human behavior. Being morally outraged not simply when the news is covering one story, or during a particularly heinous scandal- but for every act of injustice out there.

Let me break it down a bit.

Chances are, you’ve run into some post on Facebook or any other social networking site in which someone attempts to make a supposedly bold or heroic stand, voicing their support for gay rights or the body positive movement, or something of that nature. While this doesn’t typically happen on any of my feeds, when I do see it, I’m usually pretty underwhelmed. Wow, _____ is coming out in support of gay rights? Brave move, next thing you’ll know he’ll be speaking out against segregation!

I know that sounds needlessly harsh, but more often than not, I feel proclamations and manifestos of that nature are looking for applause more than anything else, and that’s the whole problem. Is it good to be a tolerant, passionate, socially, and environmentally conscious person?

Yes, it is.

What do you want, a cookie?

There’s a 1994 movie by the name of Quiz Show, a drama based off of the true story of a rigged gameshow in the 1950s. While I only ever saw the tail end of the movie (and that was years ago), there’s a scene that stuck in my head. The character who had been cheating at the game is called before congress to testify. Standing up, he offers an eloquent “soul-searching” speech on how he struggled to reclaim his integrity and self-respect after having been a pawn in this entire sordid affair. The congressmen congratulate him on giving such a moving speech- all but one. A congressman by the name of Derounian leans forward and states states that he doesn’t see why the contestant should be commended for simply having told the truth.

And it makes sense, doesn’t it?

We’re patting each other (and more than that, ourselves) on the backs for what? Decrying injustice? Raging against waste and greed? Supporting equality? Should we be praised for this? For briefly rising out of ignorance and selfishness to meet the minimum requirements for human decency?

Seriously, do you think you should feel a sense of pride over not being a racist? Should we applaud ourselves for not clubbing a baby seal to death?

I don’t think so.

And it seems like people are finally starting to get it. Moral outrage for the purposes of fashion are being attacked. Not, perhaps, on a grand and noticeable scale (barring, perhaps, Jon Stewart), but quietly; with caustic jabs like that picture up above. And it’s about time, too.

Best movie of all time.

And yes, I’m fully aware of the hypocrisy of commending basic human decency not being commended. Consider this more of a public service announcement, if you must.

Fame Day: Sigmund Freud

freudThere’s a reason why I’m offering the spotlight to the most iconic psychologist (barring Hannibal Lecter) of all time. You’re probably wondering, “Why? Everyone knows Freud!

True, but to echo every girl dating a scumbag, “You don’t know him like I do.

Even with all his fame, Freud is nevertheless the butt of plenty of jokes. He’s often looked on not so much as the founding father of psychology, but a weird Austrian doctor who managed to touch off something huge in his twisted speculation on primal, sexual urges and Oedipal complexes. He’s essentially the equivalent of the crazy 80s hair-band- popular in its time, and now looked back on as a stupid stage of music needed as a simple stepping stone.

The cost of progress is steep indeed…

Now this thought I’m about to reveal isn’t my own, but nevertheless merits echoing.

Imagine if we treated every scientist and inventor the way we treat Freud.

Think about it.

Imagine putting down Galileo for all the stuff he got wrong. Imagine assuming that because 90% of everything Newton knew about the universe was incorrect, he really isn’t worth more than a foot note in scientific history. Heck, Einstein rejected quantum mechanics, yet the guy remains the standard of genius in our age (an honor that should belong to Tesla, but that’s another story).

Tesla Coils: I like to think of ’em as big “**** You, Edison” Towers

Heck, I’m willing to wager that if you juxtaposed everything Freud got wrong about his field, and everything Darwin got wrong about his field, Freud would come out ahead. Yet Darwin is a respected, if not revered, icon of academia and a poster boy for exploration and discovery.

This was the coolest (and only) Darwin gif out there…

Why can’t Freud get the same deal?

That’s all I’m really trying to get at here- the man practically pioneered an entire field of (soft) science. He deserves more than yo momma jokes. His legacy should be more than the stereotype of a bald, bearded psychologist sitting behind a couch (did you know that pretty much no psychologist uses those couches anymore? What a rip-off). Let’s give this guy respect for all he discovered, credit for all he got right, and a shred of leniency for all he got wrong.

It’s only fair. A person who has contributed so much to the world deserves at least that consideration.

Let’s Talk About Hypocrisy

Before I begin, I believe I ought to clarify something.

In this post, I’m going to be addressing the issues of hardship and tragedy and our responses to both of these things as a culture. Naturally none of this is meant to rob any gravity from Friday’s events- pain is, as always, pain. Any and all criticism here is directed strictly at hypocrisy, not sorrow.

There is a scene in season 2 of AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead, in which one of the group’s children goes missing and the other is [accidentally] shot and badly injured- both of which are bad things even without the ongoing zombie apocalypse. After managing to stabilize the boy, his mother begins questioning whether or not her son would be better off dead, rather than going on living the horrific and nightmarish existence life had become. Her exact words went as follows:

Why do we want Carl to live in this world? To have this life? So he can see more people torn apart in front of him? So he can be hungry and scared for however long he has before he…

So he can run and run and run and run and- and even if he survives he winds up- just another animal who doesn’t know anything other than survive…

Now whether or not you’re familiar with the series, this scene will still probably get a reaction out of you. Horror, perhaps, at how vile life must be for a mother to suggest her son dying would be a better alternative. Pity, maybe, for a person so driven and desperate.

Or, if you’re like me, utter indignant rage.

Let’s take a look at that soliloquy again. What’s the criteria this person puts on a life so awful it might as not be lived? Constant hunger, constant fear, and exposure to violence. In other words, the life of the majority of men, women, and children on this planet since the dawn of time.

You heard the lady- might as well just keel over.

And what’s her description of people who live this life? Oh, right- animals.

“And a very merry **** you to you as well”

What really gets me is that this (almost certainly) wasn’t meant to portray Lori as the vicious, self-pitying hypocrite that she came across as. Someone- nay, a whole line of writers and editors and censors- let that whole speech slide on the basis that it’d portray the character as sympathetic and troubled. And it’s this twisted attitude towards life that I want to address.

Early in the summer, I wrote a post on the need to portray graphic violence in media– especially in regards to war. I argued that our distance from the conflicts the US was engaged in made war too easy to ignore. The lack of the presence of violence, or our understanding of the consequences, made it all cheap and trite. Really this problem exists not only with violence, but with every aspect of our alienated society. We love beef, but how many of us could actually kill a cow? I’m not talking about hunting one down using nothing but a smooth rock, I’m just talking about simply ending one’s life. Could you do it? If not, I submit that you shouldn’t have a right to eat beef or wear leather.

Take a look at this cartoon.

Hard to argue with that, huh? Just as you shouldn’t be able to eat meat if you’re unwilling to kill the animal, you really shouldn’t be able to buy clothes and shoes unless you are personally willing to oversee the sweatshops in which they’re made. One way or another, you shouldn’t be able to reap the benefits of something without being at least capable of getting your hands dirty- and nowhere does that apply more than perhaps our government.

You might be familiar with the famous scene from Fahrenheit 9/11, in which Michael Moore attempts to pass out army recruitment flyers to members of congress (not surprisingly, most duck the offer). These people who were more than willing to send other people’s kids out to die in the desert suddenly found themselves far less eager when in the same situation- one congressmen protesting that his son had kids of his own (after all, all soldiers are childless and single).

And before any liberal readers get too smug, you’re far from exempt either. After the tragic mass murder in Newtown on Friday, I came back from work to find a letter in my inbox from a progressive organization I’ve signed petitions with before. “Act now!” they cried, “Demand gun control!”. This from the same people who bombarded me with pleas to re-elect President Obama, author and owner of a freaking “kill list“, to say nothing of his administration’s shoot-first-and-suppress-questions-later policy with drone strikes, and the “operation fast and furious” debacle.

Now all of this is just to demonstrate the social pathology this culture is suffering from.It’s not that we’re involved in countless injustices (that’s all bad in and of itself, but it’s not the point right here)- it’s that we have the gall to act hurt, or shocked, or horrified. Injustice is not greater for having finally happened to you. Pain and suffering don’t intensify based on their proximity to you. If you won’t cry out over the violence overseas, what right do you have to cry out over the violence at home? What right does a person have to feel depressed about cyber-bullying when he’s wearing a shirt made by an eight year old?  If you shrug your shoulders, stick your hands in your pocket, and walk off whistling when you’re told about homelessness in India, what right do you have to complain about mortgage payments in Indiana? Let’s cut the narcissism, shall we?