Jan 062011
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I was struck with serious feelings of unwellness in the early afternoon that were most unwelcome. Come on, immune system, it’s 2011. Get with it, I gots shit to do.

My mother and I had an interesting conversation today on the aforementioned “birds falling out of the sky” thing. Unfortunately the articles I finally read from the last post didn’t actually say anything too satisfying in terms of reasoning; mostly they were of the “yeeeeaahh, this actually happens all the time” variety. Like I was saying to her tonight though, I think I’m going with the conclusion that weird shit just happens sometimes because birds are basically stupid. As for us? We’re basically stupid too.

News outlets have one primary goal, and that’s to keep us reading/watching. As a result, they zero in on the things that generate the most amount of buzz, and what makes us buzz more than creepy freak-out fodder? Consequently, since stuff like this does actually happen all the time, there are stories about it out there — stories which usually go ignored because we are way too self-absorbed to worry about red-wing blackbirds. But because we’re hyper-aware about it for the next five minutes, news agencies publicize those usually ignored stories, thus creating the appearances of an epic battle of Birds v. Gravity that has us flailing around with fears – sometimes held secretly, sometimes screamed from rooftops – that the end of the world is nigh.

Consider earthquakes and mine collapses, just two of the most recent “unusual” events that “kept happening”. Where’s the flush of concern about those things now? Did they suddenly stop happening? Of course not. A three-minute online search turned up this Florida mine collapse and this one from Nepal, both of which occurred in just the past two weeks. As for earthquakes, well, on this earthquake monitoring site I counted a whopping twenty-one of them … just from yesterday. The truth is that between the media enjoying the benefits of keeping us fascinated and scared and the sheer speed and volume with which we’re constantly bombarded with “news”, it’s easy to get caught up in the sensationalism of the moment, all the while feeding our most innate human desire to form reason out of chaos.

Basically what I’m saying here is that we’re just two steps away from throwing virgins into volcanoes.

My other major thought of the day involves the announcement from yesterday that Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn will be reprinted with all instances of “injun” and “nigger” removed. Man, just typing “the ‘n’ word” there made me uncomfortable, which is exactly why the whole idea of this is stupid. One of Twain’s primary purposes for these novels was to tackle racial prejudice. (Its effectiveness is a separate debate.) Gutting a story of one of its most demonstrative and visible tools serves no purpose other than to make us feel better about an uncomfortable time in our nation’s history. It’s nothing less than whitewashing – a small irony I can’t help but find amusing given that we’re talking about Tom Sawyer here. Whatever reason is given, the language change is purely to assuage guilt, and when has history ever benefited from pretending something didn’t happen the way it happened?

Last night Mike beat the final boss for Dead Rising 2. Tonight he begins Fallout: New Vegas. Christmas was very good to him this year.

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