Thursday, May 26, 2011

Should We Raise Children Without Gender Norms?

Yahoo news featured an interesting article the other day that challenged society’s views regarding gender roles and how the world around us shapes our totality as a human through the understanding of gender norms.  The article concentrates on a newborn baby named “Storm” whose parents refuse to tell friends/family/the world what gender the child is, as they would like for the child to decide it’s own path of self-understanding.  (Apparently there is no ambiguity regarding the child’s actual sex.)

I’ve had many discussions over the years of how gender shapes your personality and lifestyle. I have met many that believe there are no differences between men and women other than genitals, and that society fully forms their self image and forces them (willingly or unwillingly) to conform to gender norms.  I have to admit I’m not one of those people and though I’m not a doctor, scientist, or whatever, I have lived long enough to understand that males and females generally have different thought processes.  I also think this is a beautiful thing that allows us to learn and understand ourselves, through our relationships with the opposite sex, in greater depth. 

But the question the article is asking is whether or not it’s a good idea to raise your child with no understanding of gender norms.  And on this point I feel very conflicted because, in some bizarre way, I admire the parents for taking a stand and testing the theory that society shapes us fully and nature doesn’t play a role.  But because I already stated that I do believe nature takes a prominent role in our differences, I have to admit I believe this kind of parenting is misguided. 

I often criticize libertarians for not understanding that we live in a society, and I’d have to say the same about Storm’s parents.  To believe that you can insulate yourself from society and that it cannot shape you is both naïve and probably confusing for the child.  Obviously, a child is constantly analyzing, learning, and understanding and, even if they cannot fully comprehend the gravity of all it is absorbing, it has to be somewhat overwhelming.  To not guide the child through self understanding while it’s processing information and its environment might actually have the opposite effect on his/her development because he or she may not have any basis to help understand their own identity.  Now, I’m not claiming all little girls should wear pink bows and all boys should wear blue baseball caps.  If a parent wants to help their child challenge gender norms, I think that can lead to positive openmindedness.  But to do that, the child should have a deep understanding of its gender so it feels confident and secure when challenging the norms in a society that generally resists the push and pull. 

To set the child free to understand itself as if it lived in a vacuum is to forget what it’s like being a child.  Children need guidance and then when they are old enough to make their own decisions, they use this foundation to formulate their self image and their originality.  To just set one off to sea seems misguided and potentially harmful to a child’s development. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Isn't It Ironic? Well, Some Of It, YES

Time to discuss this stupid, now dated argument.
Irony is one of the most misused and misunderstood words in the English language, despite its fairly simple dictionary definition. defines it as “the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning.”  Easy, right?  Well anyone with a basic understanding of the English language knows that irony is usually saved for humor (not necessarily a jokey joke!) or exaggerative purposes, thus confusing a person when they are questioning whether to call something ironic or not.
And, of course, this includes Alanis Morrissette.
Thanks for setting the record straight, Brett!
Since the song was released in 1995, the general meme about Morrissette’s “Ironic” is that, well, nothing in it is ironic.  I might be 16 years late on this post, but since it is a claim I STILL hear, I figured it was time to set the record straight, stand on my pedestal, and claim that, though not EVERYTHING in the song is ironic, it does actually contain some ironic situations, with the potential for more.  Sorry, but it’s not simply black and white, even though I know people love it when things are. 
Let’s go through line by line (lyrics in italics, thoughts in bold) and analyze.
An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day

Without knowing background on said old man, it’s really hard to say.  Now, had the old man played the lottery every single day of his life while claiming “I CANNOT LIVE MY LIFE PROPERLY WITHOUT THE COMFORT OF LOTTERY WINNINGS.  UNTIL THEN I WILL BE A SHELL OF MY POTENTIAL.  AND ONCE I WIN THE JACKPOT, I SHALL BE THE GREATEST LIVING HUMAN THIS WORLD HAS SEEN,” and then died the day after he won the prize, then that would be ironic.  But since it’s a three minute song, we cannot go into the history of the old man’s finances, therefore Alanis probably shouldn’t have used this example. 

It's a black fly in your Chardonnay
Is this even a horrible thing?  I assume whatever disease the bug is potentially carrying would probably die in the alcohol.  Plus, the fly may have protein making it a nice accessory.  Regardless, it’s NOT ironic, maybe a tad unpleasant at worst?

It's a death row pardon two minutes too late
In my opinion, this is the first thing in the song that is ironic.  Assuming the criminal was on death row, he probably engaged in years of appeals to clear his name to no avail.  The fact that someone would give him a pardon, proving innocence two minutes after he was actually killed…hmmm, I’d consider this ironic.  Again, it involves assumption, but well, it’s a short song.    

And isn't it ironic... don't you think?   Well, so far one thing is clearly not ironic, one seems to be ironic, and the third has high potential for irony.  So while this is probably not what she was going for when creating the song, at least she’s not the complete idiot some make her out to be.    

It's like rain on your wedding dayProbably sucks, but not ironic
It's a free ride when you've already paidIf you’d be searching for the free ride for a while and then finally decided to pay only to find out the free ride just presented itself, it miiiiight be ironic.  But it’s a stretch, it could just be coincidence, but it depends on the situation. 
It's the good advice that you just didn't takeDefinitely has the potential for irony.  Though I’d like to know what this good advice that she cannot take is.  The content of said advice probably would help decide whether or not it’s ironic. 
Who would've thought... it figures – I dunno what the fuck this even means.

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
"Well isn't this nice..."
And isn't it ironic... don't you think

OK, this verse can be completely ironic or not, pending on the tone of the “well, isn’t this nice...”  Here we have old Joe Play It Safe (is that Dutch?), who essentially waited his entire life to take a flight, simply because he was afraid of crashing.  It’s implied that he was so fearful of grim death that he avoided this safe, convenient way of traveling for his entire existence. 
Now, here comes the tricky part.  If Alanis is saying “Well, isn’t this nice” in a SARCASTIC tone, it’s not ironic.  It’s actually the expected outcome considering he always figured he’d crash if he flew.  If the “well, isn’t this nice” is NOT SARCASTIC, and he is actually enjoying the plane’s death spiral towards the Earth, then it’s a very ironic story.  
Anyone know the tone? 

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything's okay and everything's going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face
True, I suppose?  We can swirl irony into this little life theory of hers. 

A traffic jam when you're already lateNah, this just sucks.  Leave earlier next time.  I live in Los Angeles, I always expect traffic. Not ironic. 
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break Not ironic unless said sign is next to a similar sign that states DESIGNATED SMOKING AREA.  More info, Alanis!
It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife – I’d say this is pretty f’n ironic considering I’ve never been around 10,000 spoons before. 
It's meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
  -- That’s just unfortunate.  Though I question how well she knew this “man of her dreams” if she didn’t even know he was married.  Perhaps Alanis is too much of a romantic, or maybe the “man of her dreams” is a douchbag that hid the fact that he was married for years, therefore questioning Alanis’s moral code when choosing mates if he’s still the man of her dreams.  Perhaps he ceased to be the dream man upon discovering his relationship status.   Never fear, Alanis, Dave Coulier is probably still single.  Either way, not ironic. 
And isn't it ironic...don't you think - Nope
A little too ironic...and, yeah, I really do think...  In this case, I really don’t.

So, as you can see, yes, much of the song doesn’t involve irony, though a good portion of it actually holds the potential for irony if she’d only elaborate on the proposed situations.  Perhaps for the 20th anniversary of Jagged Little Pill, Alanis will channel her inner Arlo Guthrie and pound out a 25 minute version of the song filled with detailed stories about her subject’s lives.  Until then, it remains a mystery.
But, regardless, there is SOME irony in the song, so can we quit saying NOTHING in it is ironic? 
(and I look forward to someone writing about how it’s ironic that I’m writing about irony, yet don’t understand what irony truly is.  I’m sure you’re out there, bring it on).   

Is it me....

... Or has DreamWorks animation managed to create the only non-cute panda in the history of pandas? 

E-Readers and Amazon

I don’t have a ton to add to the fact that Amazon is now selling more e-books than print books, but I am surprised by the rapid growth of the medium.  Obviously the ability to easily carry numerous books and magazines in a single tablet is attractive and convenient, but because I always considered the turning of the pages, the smell of the book, dog-earing, bookmarks, etc  to be part of the special experience of reading, I figured there would be a little more resistance to the turnover. 
Then again, I personally questioned whether or not I’d like using an e-reader and quickly adapted to actually reading books off my IPhone.  I still do buy print books from time to time, but I suppose I'm part of the revolution as well.
Will libraries soon be obsolete in favor of vast online databases? 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Does it...

annoy anyone else that Bristol Palin is still garnering media attention? 

Universal Healthcare is Good...that is until it becomes a political albatross!

Mitt Romney wants to earn the GOP nomination for the 2012 election.

Mitt Romney passed a universal healthcare bill while governer of Massachusetts.

Republicans don't like universal care and yearn to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Mitt Romney's Massachusetts healthcare plan looks a lot like the Affordable Care Act.

Mitt Romney has a big problem.

So, when in doubt, flip flop.   Yesterday, Mitt Romney addressed a Michigan crowd and explained, armed with a powerpoint, the differences between his Massachusetts act and the Affordable Care Act..  His major gripe was that healthcare should be solved as a state issue and not a federal one, even though the one he chose for his state (a successful plan by the way) mirrors the federal plan.  This, at face value, makes no sense to me other than the fact that Republicans generally like states' rights (because most feel we still live in the 1800's), thus he's trying to appease a base that questions him.  But even though I'm not convinced its best left as a states rights issue, Romney claims the ACA is a forced "one size fits all" approach to healthcare that is doomed to fail...except...the bill actually has a state waiver that allows states to pursue their own healthcare plan as long as it, essentially, meets the general requirements of the ACA. 

On a similar note, the Massachusetts law requires the individual mandate that many Republicans are claiming is unconstitutional.  Romney agrees that the mandate isn't valid because of its use on a federal level, but could be used on the state level if the state chooses to do so, even though most Republicans consider the mandate outright wrong because it forces people to buy something even if they'd prefer not to. 

The question is, how bad does this make him look to his base?  It seems as if he's fighting a losing argument with a paper thin defense.  After all, Republicans find his Massachusetts plan objectionable.  Knowing Romney often switches positions to appease his audience (he was once pro-choice until that became complete poison for a GOP presidential nominee), how soon will he denounce his own plan for the sake of victory? 

Just an observation.  It doesn't take a genius to know this is gonna be a hard one from him to weasel out of. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Should 90 Year Old War Criminals Go To Jail?

Interesting story on the wire today about the trial/conviction of John Demjanjuk, a 91 year old, retired American autoworker that was accused of aiding the murder of 20,000+ Jews while working as a guard for the Sobibor death camp in Nazi occupied Poland during World War 2.  Apparently, Demjanjuk has been involved in over 30 years of legal proceedings, including being sentenced to death in Israel during the 80’s, only to have that conviction overturned due to possible mistaken identity.
First off, it’s kind of bizarre that this is occurring at all, as World War Two has become one of America’s greatest cultural and historical relics.  It’s been preserved and displayed in countless films and books that have frozen 1939-1945 in this timeless, even romanticized history lesson that helps explain a forgotten time period.  It feels like a closed book that we’ll open in a similar manner we would one on the medieval period.  So to think there are still court cases that deal with this closed period of history strikes me as kind of funny (not in the ha-ha way). 
Clearly much evidence was lost over the past sixty years, defendants and witnesses have died off, so it’s hard to build a case with iron clad evidence against Demjanjuk for crimes committed a lifetime ago, especially ones that may have been carried out under duress.  As a Jew (even as a non-practicing one), the Holocaust has always been a cloud over even my personal history as it’s something I’ve heard about even as a small child.  And while it’s certainly possible that Demjanjuk played a hand in the deaths, I wonder what the point of sentencing an ailing 91 year old man to prison for crimes he committed over half a century ago is (not to mention, there will probably be a yearlong appeals process).
But regardless of this particular case, it is interesting to note that society seems to assume that the only possible true form of punishment is a prison term, and I’m honestly not sure why, as there are multiple ways the system forces accused criminals to “pay for their crimes.”  In the unique case of Demjanjuk, there has been a clear life altering thirty years of legal proceedings, which no doubt led to assumed deserved public humiliation/shame, society ostracization, numerous dollars spent for lawyers (etc), and essentially a 30-year major pain in the ass.  I’m not quite sure what the benefit of adding jail time to this process would be other than to fulfill a strange understanding that a prison sentence is the ultimate goal when doling out punishment.  But why?  What is it about locking someone up that gives the public some kind of cathartic benefit?  It’s not as if a 91 year old (or any senior citizen) is a real threat to society.  Why is the idea of isolating someone from society in a closed, unpleasant area considered the ultimate justice?   To this point, what purpose does the continued effort to lock up a 91 year old really have when it seems that most of his adult life has already been under the microscope?  Would people really feel better if someone gave him a swift kick to the jewels at this point?
Really, what kind of justice is being served by this?  It seems more like a piece of dated political theater, like some true to life modern day play about aging World War 2 war criminals rather than an important stand against crime.  Not to mention, a waste of resources. 
But I know this is a touchy subject, curious to hear people’s thoughts.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The fact that humanity somehow was able to create a metal box that can fly across the country in five hours is astounding.  But even more curious is why many react to the idea of a flight with hostility usually reserved for the DMV or, I dunno, waterboarding.  Whether it be complaints about the airport, or the simple fear of flying, we have collectively equated one of our coolest and most impressive processes to a trip to the dentist. 

Let's start with the first step in the pre-flight process:  The airport.  From listening to some people complain, one may assume the airport is a modern torture chamber instead of what it really is:  a shopping mall that planes fly in and out of, and a hub of activity the includes citizens of the world.  In fact, I'm not sure if there are statistics about this, but I can only assume that international airports are the world's true cultural melting pots. To me, there's something beautiful about people from all over the globe using the airport as a brief resting stop before traveling thousands of miles to a new destination.  People watchers delight!  Obviously, most don't seem to agree.

Sure, security can be a pain, yeah there may be traffic on the way, but I know too many people who like to leave for the airport at the last possible second in an effort to spend as little amount of time there as possible.  I have friends who will gladly sit around their houses for a half an hour with nothing to do instead of getting to the airport a little early where they will, god forbid, have to sit comfortably, go to a restaurant, shop for a new pair of sunglasses, people watch, or if you happen to be at Las Vegas's McCarren, gamble.  Plus, the only thing stressful about the airport is the possibility of actually missing your flight.  Yet these same people gladly throw caution to the wind and invite this possibility, making the traffic filled ride to the airport and subsequent run through security into an unnecessary stressful situation. 

Then there's the irrational fear of actually flying.  There are dozens of activities we do on a daily basis that put us at more risk of injury or death than a simple flight does.  Sure, plans crash, but at such an infrequent rate that their "success" record is unparalleled.  The funny thing is even if I throw out statistics that suggest driving a car puts you at greater risk than a flight; its hardly news to those who fear flying.  They agree and then say, "yeah, but you know, whatever." So why are people terrified?  Is it a lack of control?  Is it because the knowledge that even a slight problem may cause, at most, death, and, at least, a terrifying experience?  Why does the fear of this rare possibility severely outweigh the statistics?

Anyway, food for thought.  Louis CK did have a great bit about this.  Click here for some laughs and rationality.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Video Games? An Art?

Before the dawn of the internet age, I adored video games.  I'd spend countless hours in front of the Nintendo or Sega playing classic titles such as Tecmo Bowl or Phantasy Star.  Like most kids my age, passion for video games was met with severe resistence from parents who claimed them to be mindless and counter productive.  After all, it was just another activity to distract us from our homework.

But us creative little youngsters would argue the games enhanced our creative/cognitive skills and, of course my personal favorite, honed our "reflexes."   Well, it appears as though the Smithsonian now agrees.

Game designers can earn grants up to 200,000 dollars if their game can be considered a work of art?  Sure, why not.  The evolution of the video game has taken extraordinary leaps in the past decade; in fact designers have created entire virtual communities that some seem to prefer to live in, while others actually find real financial success in these alternate worlds.  So now that the gaming world is capable of making these multi-layered communities and games that feature indepth alien worlds with enough detail to trick you into thinking that it might be real, why not consider them a legitimate art form?

In fact, game designer Jane McGonigal strongly thinks students aren't playing ENOUGH video games as she firmly believes that simulating crises in an online setting will better prepare us for a real disaster.  She is the designer behind the game World Without Oil which depicts a world with depleted resources, rising prices, and the possibility for social chaos.  Gamers communicate with each other on how to both problem solve and cope with the issue with the hope that, one day, they can use this acquired knowledge for practical purposes.

The merits of this hyopthesis can be, and should be, challenged, but the fact that we are having the argument at all is a testament to the rise of gaming and its expressive qualities.  Though video games always had some sort of creative value, today's games have increased their interactive ability to not only create a new kind of social order, but the ability to build communities that extend beyond the borders of "real life."  So even though the results of this community and creativity do not exist in the "real world," it does serve a useful purpose as it helps stretch the mind and allows users to think in different parameters.

So how could this not be art?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Oh, Sarah. Don't You Have A Turd To Polish?

Ahhh…I’m absolutely enjoying the latest piece of political “advice” (or demand) from America’s favorite phony cunt, Sarah Palin.
From her Twitter feed in response to the White House’s decision not to release the gruesome photos of a dead Osama Bin Laden:
Show photo as warning to others seeking America's destruction. No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama; it's part of the mission”

Poetry, really.  That woman has a real knack for annoying me with only 160 characters.  A true talent. 

Since the announcement, the debate over whether or not to release the pics has heated up, but I can’t understand the benefit of doing so.  As much as some would love to see America hang Osama’s corpse outside of Boston Harbor like he were Captain Kidd, the idea that a gruesome photo might scare off other potential terrorists is…asinine.  Do we honestly believe that they don’t know the dangers of their business?  Do we think they are unaware that they are being hunted by the American military? How exactly would a picture SCARE them? Hell, you can show average Americans tons of pictures of wrecked cars, they are still gonna talk on their cell phones while driving.

We live in a civilized, 21st century society, we don’t need to plaster a gruesome photo of some dead terrorist on our nation’s newspapers as if it’s some sort of hunting trophy; though perhaps Sarah would be pleased if we stuffed Osama’s head and placed it above the White House mantle.  Not to mention, the photographic evidence will not assuage the “concerns” of the conspiracy theorists who believe Obama announced the news now for political expediency, as if that makes any sense.  What political benefit could Obama get in May of 2011? If this were some planned release, why not make it closer to an election…or even closer to the announcement of new legislation?  On a similar note, even if photos were released, these same people would claim Photoshop fraud and start picking out nonexistent details to prove their erroneous claims.  After all, there are still people who believe we never landed on the moon, the 9/11 truthers still exist, and people will continue to suck in the name of being an asshole for the rest of time. 

But, really, at the end of the day, Palin’s announcement is purely political (shocking I know).  I have no doubt that had the White House released the photos, Palin would spew some bullshit about how we are poking the enemy with our bravado.  The woman is a transparent waste that has little interest in policy, and lots of desire for attention. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nodding my head like "yeah" Smells Like Teen Spirit?

One of the more interesting aspects of humanity is how we are often territorial over art.  Over the past few days, the above video has stormed its way through the intertubes, mostly receiving negative reaction from people in my age bracket, including myself.  When I first watched the clip of Miley Cyrus covering Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (the unofficial anthem of my generation), I was immediately appalled and figured Kurt Cobain would be rolling in his grave.  I quickly disseminated the video to friends, expecting similar reaction so we could commiserate in the atrocity.  Hannah Montana is covering Nirvana?  Why not just hang me by my testicles!  And they all agreed. 
But when contemplating it later, I suddenly was struck by how much I cared and, more importantly, why.
A song is an expressive form of art that provides identity, even to someone who did not write or sing it.  And this particular Nirvana tune defined a generation of angry youths who yearned to separate themselves from the ones above.  The song is loud, the song is powerful, it’s unique for the time, and managed to capture a collective feeling that other generations could not understand. In fact, the song still has emotional effect all these years later.  I still can remember the first time I ever saw the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and immediately thought, “fuck…yeah!”
But Miley Cyrus (who I really have nothing against, I think there’s actually a song of hers on my iPod) was not a part of this movement, and was incredibly young when the song was released.  Her brand of pop music may be the voice of another generation, and will probably be a relic of this younger generation’s childhood, but her music is nothing more than a novelty to ours; causing her to seem like an insignificant footnote.  We subconsciously assume she’s unworthy of our battle cry and would prefer she find her own (even if this is batshit crazy).  Not to mention, Miley sings a certain brand of pop that caters to the lowest common denominator, which is at odds with Nirvana’s rebellious attitude.
So why is disgust my visceral reaction when I see she has performed it at her concert?  Simply put, because it’s not hers.  For her to perform it and own it, it feels like she’s speaking on behalf of my generation, making her a representative of an entire group of people she is actually not a part of.  And though it’s unfair and even a bit nonsensical, her version of it is disingenuous because of this, even if it were an awesome cover (which it’s not, but that’s beside the point).
I’m truly am not sure what Kurt Cobain would think of this, I think he’d actually appreciate the fact that his art has lived on and younger generations have taken to it.  I’m sure he’d enjoy that it’s still relevant.  But to the rest of us, we still wear it like a badge of honor, and we want that to remain unique to us.
Well, that’s all I can come up with anyway.

Monday, May 2, 2011

America: Fuck Yeah? Thoughts From The Morning After

When I first heard the news about the killing of Bin Laden, I actually texted a friend asking “Do you think anyone will care?”  I figured enough time had passed and, with our current problems being much greater, the news would be met with a healthy, but somber feeling of justice and piece of mind. 

Boy was I wrong. 

If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve been bombarded with images of parties in the streets and exclamations from American citizens regarding their American pride.  And though I may sound like a complete asshole for saying this, and fully admit I may be downplaying the event, I think its sad that a murder of a terrorist who got lucky ten years ago and hasn’t been relevant since is what makes someone “proud to be an American.”

9/11 was no doubt a horrific tragedy, one that accounted for a tremendous loss of life and one that changed the landscape of America both socially and politically.  But, as mentioned in my previous post, the murder of Osama doesn’t change any of that.  Not even a little.  In fact, I doubt anyone went to bed last week fearing the wrath of Osama Bin Laden.  After the 9/11 attacks occurred, he went off to hide in Pakistan while Al Qaeda was given for too much credit as a legitimate threat.  Now, ten years later, we found the apparent mastermind of the attacks and American citizens are parading through the streets as if he was the sole reason for all that ails us. 

But he’s not.  I’m honestly surprised that public reaction was not more reserved.  It’s great that justice was served, but I’m not sure why death is ever celebrated.  I’m glad it brings piece of mind to families that lost loved ones, but the death of Osama certainly will never bring them back.  It serves as another building block towards the recovery of the American psyche, but the public outcries of “don’t mess with America” into TV cameras comes off as bullyish (for lack of a better term) and proves our priorities are entirely out of whack. 

I think it’s telling that the Osama murder happened the same weekend as the royal wedding in England.  British citizens took to the streets to celebrate their British heritage through a symbol of family, love, and companionship.  While the event to cause Americans to do the same is the murder of an inept terrorist leader that has barely been heard from in a decade.

Excuse me if this strikes me as disappointing. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thoughts On Our Views Of The Osama Killing

I don’t have anything all that earth shattering to say about the Bin Laden murder itself, but I have found the reaction to the news by both the media and the public (at least through Facebook and Twitter) to be quite interesting. 

Obviously, after 9/11, Osama bin Laden became the face behind the tragedy and the image we as America focused our anger on (for good reason).  The man, the image, and his action easily changed the course of US history.  Without 9/11, we certainly never go into Afghanistan and probably never revisit Iraq.  9/11 obviously changed the course of our foreign policy and easily affected our domestic culture as well (today’s economy/state of mind/cultural zeitgeist, etc)

But whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden?  After watching a few different news stations, I heard them all say something to the effect of “everyone will remember where they were today” and I’m not sure why.  Though Osama was the architect of the most devastating attack on American soil, there hasn’t really been any relevant Al Queda attack since.  And from everything we know, he was essentially marginalized as a leader while hiding out, while other sects gained power.  Not to mention, Osama was hardly the leader of an army, he headed a group that, more or less, got lucky on September 11th, 2001.  Had hijacking protocol been different (and it changed by that afternoon), we’d all remember that day much differently.   He never posed a Soviet/German like threat against America, even if we were led to believe otherwise.

In a time when we, as a public, need good news, I suppose this can pass for some.  After all, this death will bring some kind of closure for everyone who lost a love one during 9/11, even if it’s bittersweet.  But the media is making this moment bigger than it really is.  We aren’t leaving Afghanistan tomorrow.  Iraq is still going to be a shit hole.  Our airports won’t be free and easy by the end of the week.  This won’t fix the economy. The black cloud over America isn’t dissipating. And, most of all, terrorism isn’t going away any time soon. This doesn’t compare to Hitler killing himself at the end of World War 2.  His action, unfortunately, remains and our reaction to his action will not erase or change. 

So, yes, this is a historical moment of some sort and if it provides a boost in morale, then it’s a good thing.  (I certainly don’t weep for Osama Bin Laden, even if I do find the celebration of death to be a little odd).  But I’d love for someone to explain why this is a huge deal beyond symbolic measures.

I’d like to be convinced otherwise.  What are people celebrating exactly beyond chasing a ghost? I don't write this post from the point of view of a contrarian, I actually would just love to hear some thoughts because my gut reaction to the news was, it seems, much different from most.

Would They Go To Islands? Subject One: Kate Middleton

I want to introduce a fun (hopefully), new recurring subject for the blog.  Actually, an incredibly important subject that explores whether or not certain people would like to join my friend Jenn and I for a weekday lunch at our favorite Hawaiian themed neighborhood chain eatery, Islands. 

For those who do not live in CA, NV, CO, AZ, or HI, or are unfamiliar with the restaurant, ISLANDS is a typical kitsch chain similar in quality to TGI Fridays or Applebee’s.  Actually, I’ll just copy and paste their carefully worded description from their website:

Who Needs Hawaii?
“Islands Restaurants was founded in 1982 with a basic philosophy – serve great, fresh food with friendly service in a fun atmosphere. Entrepreneur Tony DeGrazier had a vision of a restaurant that would offer a simple, original menu featuring gourmet hamburgers, specialty drinks and a fun, tropical theme. In fact, he wanted to recreate the dining experiences he had in the 1960s while stationed in Oahu with his Navy buddies.”

Oh, and does it ever.  Each time I go to Islands and someone later asks me where I went to lunch, they respond: “ugh … why?” like I personally offended them.  Then follow it up by squinching their face and saying “Islands” in such a way that suggests just the word itself produces gas pains and nausea. Regardless of its apparent uninspiring menu, Jenn and I eat there once a week as one is conveniently located near work, and we enjoy the simple food underneath the “cabana” while watching surfers on the few HD screens nearby. 

And sometimes during these visits, we wonder who might enjoy accompanying us.

So, hmmm, how about the world’s newest princess, Kate Middleton?

"The highlight of my trip to LA," she'd no doubt say
Kate just enjoyed the wedding of a lifetime.  In fact, over two billion people watched her get married (either in person or on television) in what has to have been one of the most, if not most, lavish weddings of all time.  I can’t even imagine what its like date high royalty for eight years, but I figure in that time she grew accustom to opulent restaurants, first rate cuisine, and a certain expectation.

Having said that, Kate Middleton was not groomed for this lifestyle.  In fact, from what I understand, prior to her family’s financial success, she was raised solidly middle class.  Considering this, I’m sure she was treated to a number of home-cooked meals, but also special nights out at neighborhood chain restaurants where the family could split burgers, fries (or fish and chips), and perhaps a laugh or two. And maybe Princess Kate is nostalgic.  I can imagine her eating a burger, slumping back in her chair, and mumbling “ahh, this reminds me of my childhood” in between chews.  Plus, I’m confident she’d admire the fake palm trees and beach décor on the walls considering England is far from tropical. 

But why would a princess waste her time with people like me and Jenn?  I mean, really, who are we? Well a princess is supposed to treat her subjects with respect, and even though we do not live in England, I do not believe she’d scoff at our offer considering it would be a genuine one.  Plus, we could inform her that Jenn is actually the FourSquare mayor of that Islands, therefore making her royalty in her own right.  I’m not saying it’s comparable, but really both have equal power, which is to say nothing more than bragging rights.  Plus, Jenn and I enjoy discussing world events (mixed in with a discussion about poop or two), so perhaps we could entertain Kate with mostly intelligent conversation.  

Regardless, I strongly feel her highness would enjoy the homey feel of Islands as it may remind her of simpler days, days when she strolled the streets without notoriety, days when she dined with just her family.  Though if she required privacy, I’m sure we could reserve the booth in the back that’s out of view of most patrons.


HER PREDICTED ORDER:  The Greek Salad.  But I think she’d politely ask Jenn if she could have a fry or two.  And hopefully she wouldn’t find a screw in the fry basket (sadly, this has happened.)