Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters
socratic

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Herman Munster for president! Couldn't we have at least gotten a Gomez Adams lookalike?

I know I'm not the first person to question this, but how is that John Kerry can condemn the Vietnam war in one breath and then speak with pride about his time there and his compatriots with the next. Yes, I understand that one can be brave even in pursuit of a foolish or unjust goal, but should one really be proud about it? I think that in this day and age that is insensative at the very least, and perhaps even sends a dangerous message. Imagine if in 30 years an Iraqi politician looks back on his days helping the insurgency kill Americans. He admits that the cause was unjust but still wants to use it as an example of his bravery and patriotism. How much different would that be from what Kerry is doing by bringing out his band of brothers? You may argue that the Vietnam war was not nearly as unjust or brutal as what the insurgents are doing in Iraq, but that's not the picture John Kerry painted of it when he returned. He was one of the people who took great pains to shed light on the massacres of the civilian population by American soldiers. He may not have taken part in such massacres himself, but he was working in support of at least some of those who did. Kerry didn't understand what he was getting himself into in Vietnam. He did not know about the massacres or the geopolitical causes of the war. That's a fine reason to forgive him for what he did, he is not a war criminal and should not be treated as such. On the other hand, perhaps our theortical Iraqi insurgent also did not commit acts of violence against civilians or realize that he was engaging in an unjust action. Would we still accept his pride and nationalism in having killed our soldiers?

I don't think that Kerry needs to apologise for what he did in Vietnam, if he's being honest about it, and I have no particular belief that he is not. I do, however, find it very troubling that he is able to accept that Vietnam was an unjust and harmful war, and yet still crow about his part in it. Let's say one day you came across a little old lady who had locked her keys in her house and forgotten where she put her spare. After some searching you helped her locate the spare key and enter the house. The next day in the newspaper you learned that she had been a burglar who had robbed the house. You might not feel bad about what you did, as it was well intentioned. On the other hand, you would accept that you were duped and you would not have pride in your actions that had been part of something horrible. John Kerry went to Vietnam and helped our country rain untold suffering upon its people (this is his view of the conflict, it doesn't need to be yours or mine for the comparison to hold up.) He continues to be proud of what he did and trumpets it loudly in a number of forums, bringing his old war buddies on stage to speak for him. Is it evidence of his bravery? Probably. But it is bravery for an evil cause. Imagine how the Vietnamese orphaned by the American war feel watching it on their television sets. Imagine how the military families who have lost members to the Iraqi insurgency would feel 30 years from now if our supposed politician was making these speeches and standing on stage with his terrorist brethren as proof of his patriotism.

It strikes me as, at the very least, highly inappropriate.

Kerry's speech was okay. I watched it with an open mind and he made at least some policy recommendations. Many of them were completely unworkable under the current fiscal situation, and I'm unsure as to why he is fixated on $200,000 as the number above which people are rich. That's not necessarily the case. In New York City $200,000 for a family of four would put you at very comfortably middle-classed, but it wouldn't be enough for a mansion or a super luxury car. It wouldn't even be enough to pay for college for two kids out of pocket. My family made around $200,000 in 1991 and we certainly weren't what I'd call rich. I don't so much object to there being a higher tax bracket there, but what we really need is a tax bracket that starts at $1,000,000 in order to tax the super rich, who have more absolute wealth than those between $200,000 and $1,000,000, and who are actually rich enough that they can pay for their needs out of pocket. You could even make it higher than $1,000,000. I also don't like that he didn't talk about bumping up funding for the IRS by like %300 or things like the capital gains tax and the estate tax (Death tax is a really dumb name for it. You're not taxed for dying, your heirs are taxed for inheriting. When you're dead you don't have anything and you don't deserve anything. You're dead. Money isn't going to change that.)

I will now proceed to talk about other stuff:

I am really growing tired of advertisements that insult potential customers. Especially those that do it in reverse. "Ultra-Clean isn't for people who love filth. It isn't for islamofascists or those who hate America. It isn't for the type of person who breaks into morgues late at night and commits unspeakable acts of violation against the dead. If you are one of those people then I don't suggest you buy it." It's not bad enough that we have to be bombarded by advertisements day in and day out, including when we go to the movie theatre and pay ridiculous prices to see shitty films (that one bunches up everyone's shorts.) Now we have to be told that if we don't buy whatever shitty product they're selling that we're Necrophiliac Jihadists, and untidy to boot. What about people who don't want to pay $30 to get the stains out of a $12 T-shirt because we don't buy overpriced designer crap that barely looks tolerable on a rail-thin Swedish model and makes the average human being look like a husky walrus being attacked by some sort of environmentally friendly fur trap? How far are we from Budweiser hiring women to go into bars, look for men drinking a competitor's beer, and loudly exclaim "Oh my god, I think that's the guy who raped me! Oh wait, sorry, my mistake. It's just that most rapists drink Michelobe." I'd say 5 years max.

I said I was going to write about weightloss and I might as well do it now, when people have either skipped over this entry because it's too long and uglies up their friends page (Sizequeen iconoclast I may be looking in your direction) or are wondering whether Amstel is the beer of guys who screw around on a girl with her roomate. Weightloss is a lot like pushing a big round rock up a rather steep hill. The beginning is the worst part. You're standing at the bottom of this massive earthy undulation looking at your boulder and saying "How the fuck am I supposed to do that?" But you start, because some things just have to get done. The intial bit after you've started is tough, but you're full of energy and all rested up with memories of that box of Kit-Kats you devoured the day before in an incredibly foolish "Last meal without boiled turnips" move. You're hungry but you're motivated, so you push like a motherfucker and the stone starts to get rolling up hill. You build a little momentum and things start moving and you start to think that you can do it. You've got the enthusiasm of new work pushing you and a lot of ways to go. Eventually that enthusiasm runs out, though. You start to realize that what you're doing is pushing a fucking boulder up a big-ass hill without assistance (unless you're having someone else restrict your food intake in which case your effort is likely for naught.) Sucks to be you, huh? What's critical at this point is that you be able to look back and see that you've made some progress, because the next phase is driven by the knowledge that if you stop now you're either going to have to spend the rest of your life sitting with your boulder at the bottom of that hill, or roll it back up to where you already are. You've probably spent a good deal of your life playing that Sisyphus game and you know it's dangerous. So you make your decision, you push onward, despite the cramping and the monotony, towards the top. The next trial is the slip. It always happens and it's always rough when you do. Something happens, like you find yourself stranded out in the middle of nowhere and the only sustenance to be found is an entire box of Hostess ding-dongs that must be consumed in a single sitting because they expire the next day. Or maybe you go out with your friends to a restaurant that doesn't have anything appetizing and low calorie on the menu, the specifics are not so important. What is important is that you fuck up, eat more than you should or something you shouldn't, and the scale admonishes you for this. This is a bit of a double whammy. Not only are you going to have to re-climb territory you've already passed, but you also have the memory of delicious fatty fried foods lingering. At the bottom of the hill you imagine you see a bucket of KFC and a fresh-baked cherry pie. Maybe it won't be so bad down there, you think, as long as you've got the Colonel to keep you company. It's a mirage of course. The chicken will taste vaguely diseased and the pie is burned at the bottom. It's never worth it to give up. Never. But you're thinking with your lips and tongue, not your brain. It's kind of like picking up that blonde at the bar with the suspicious sore on her lip. You know it's a bad idea and that she's been around the block so many times the children think she's part of the neighborhood watch, but damn the girl has tits.

It's not worth it.

So you pick yourself up, after your slip. You but your back into it, heave, get the ball rolling again, and start to move. And you will slip again, and there will be points where it seems like all your effort is for naught because the ground is soft and grips your stone and you just can't get the thing to move. It's a constant struggle and you can't take time off because that just gives you more ground to cover. You heave and you heave and finally you get it up to a point where the pushing isn't as important and you can focus on keeping it around where it is. The thing is, once you're there you HAVE to hold it. It's really easy to step aside and let it go crashing down the hill. Or to lean against it and let the ground give way beneath your feet, slowly sliding down towards that burnt pie. Maintenance is the hardest part, and I've learned that lesson several times. You need to keep pushing. For the rest of your life. It's a big commitment. A constant dull pain and self-denial. The only choice you really have.

Of course there are ways around the whole thing. With surgery you can bulldoze the mountain and roll the stone over to where the peak should be without effort. With a carefully controlled program by someone else you can travel to the top quicker being pushed from behind. Both of these methods work to some extent. The problem with the bulldozing is it's drastic, irreversible, and you could die beneath the treads. It's not clear Gastric-Bypass surgery increases lifespan, it may be mostly cosmetic. The problem with being carried up is that you don't develop the mental muscle necessary to stay there. You find yourself standing alone eventually and then you have to hold it there, without the benefit of having done the work to get there in the first place. It's tough. Really tough.

The thing is, you rolled the boulder down the hill in the first place. Nobody's born fat, and nobody got that way on breastmilk. You may not have known what you were doing at the time but you did it. Everything has consequences.

P.S.

This is funny. http://www.townhall.com/columnists/GuestColumns/Mazzella20040730.shtml
Apparently poking fun at America in advertisements is the same as shitting on the flag.
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