Archive for May, 2009

C & C

Friday, May 29th, 2009

It occurred to me this week that humans mostly start out as Communists but end up as Capitalists.

Okay, those are loaded terms and filled with enough competing ideologies and propagandized misuse that a bald statement like that cannot be left to stand. So, I’ll try and say what brought me to this observation. Anyone who’s hung around with little kids has probably observed that they like to be helpful (though this desire seems to wane at about the same rate as they begin to actually be helpful). I see that as the Communistic impulse, each person contributing to the general good as best they can. Then as they get older, they tend to care more about getting stuff, be it physical or not, for themselves, losing the impulse to help unless it also directly benefits them. I see that as the Capitalistic impulse, each person out to improve there own lot, justified by the idea that if each of us betters our own situation “the rising tide will lift all boats.”

In politics this transition from the selfless to the selfish is noted by the cynical joke/observation that if an American is not a Democrat when he is young, then he has no heart, but if he is not a Republican when he is older then he has no brain.

I talked to God about this, admittedly over-simplified, view of the two big-C ideologies and she told me I was missing an important part. It doesn’t much matter what the driving ideology is, it’s going to devolve down to yet another old joke, “Under Capitalism, man exploits man. Under Communism, it’s the other way around.” The reality is simple, no matter the official system, we need people to lead, and people that want to lead, mostly want power. And when it comes to power, it’s the people willing to do whatever it takes to grab it that have it and are, by that willingness, usually the least deserving. So it comes down to a mashup between the movie “Wargames” and the third law of thermodynamics, the only way to win, is not to play, but there is no way not to play.

You know, I started off thinking about how little kids want to be helpful, and somehow, from there, I’ve just gone and depressed myself.

Memory Test

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

It’s Memorial Day weekend. Monday is the day that we Americans set aside to honor our fallen soldiers. I was thinking about that and that got me to thinking about how we shouldn’t honor all the soldiers. I mean, some of them did horrific things. Now they may have done them because they thought they were right or even just necessary, or they may have done them because they were just following orders, but if we honored people just for doing what they thought was right, well we wouldn’t have many villains left.

I asked God about it and he said that I was on the right track. It’s important to think about these things. It’s important for us to figure out when our leaders are right and when they’re wrong. And that applies as much to religion as it does to war. Just because somebody tells us that they know what we have to do to get right with God doesn’t mean we should abandon our own common sense and our own inner guide to do what they say.

So take some time this weekend to honor those who died for our rights and those who died for our sins, but also take the time to dishonor those who took advantage of our desire to do what is right, who led us into bad wars and down paths that are paved with good intentions.

And Rice

Friday, May 15th, 2009

I live in the southwest U.S. which makes it easy to eat a lot of Mexican food, which I like. There was a comic I watched once whose routine included playing a waiter at a Mexican restaurant dealing with somebody new to the cuisine. They’d look at the menu and ask what a taco was. Tortillas with meat, beans and cheese, he’d explain. Well, what’s a burrito they’d ask. Tortillas with meat, beans and cheese, he’d explain. So they’d ask about a tostada and get the same answer. Like most of the best jokes, it was funny in part because it was largely true.

So how is it that within five miles of where I work there’s at least six different Mexican Fast Food chains? I asked God how the market could sustain them all and she told me they’re like a microcosm of humanity itself; while they’re all pretty much the same, they’re also all different, if you really look at them. Now being something of a slut when it comes to Mexican restaurants, I’ve eaten at every chain that I know of, so I had the information with which to think it through. There’s Taco Bell, which I’ve mentioned before; Taco Bell is to Mexican what McDonald’s is to American, it’s fast, consistent, and cheap (not to mention somewhat garish). Rubio’s differentiates itself as being the fish taco place. Sharky’s angles to be the healthy Mexican place. La Salsa shoots for authenticity and I think was the first chain to offer a salsa bar, way back when. Qdoba is a grill with a sort of haute tex-mex menu. And, finally, there’s Chipotle, which is all about getting to micromanage the construction of your meal.

All in all, there’s plenty of good stuff to choose amongst, even if it is mostly variations on meat, beans, and tortillas. And, hey, at least I’m rarely confronted with a teenage sales clerk asking, “Would you like chips with that?”


Friday, May 8th, 2009

Earlier this week was May Fifth, Cinco De Mayo, the day that Americans get to play at being Mexican. Its something we like to do, play at being something we’re not. We’ve got a number of holidays that are built around the concept. On St. Patrick’s Day we get to be Irish. For Oktoberfest we get to be German. On Halloween we get to be whatever we want.

It’s one of the ways we live out the old Cheyenne saying, “Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins.”

One group, though, that we don’t seem to play at much, is the Jews. I’ve held a number of jobs over the years and hung out with different groups, and it’s pretty common for a group to go out for Mexican food on Cinco De Mayo, and vast numbers of people cook up corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a group say something like “Hey, it’s Rosh Hashanah, let’s go to the deli.”

I asked God about it and he said it was because even more than we’re actors, Americans are lazy. He explained to me that there’s two reasons we don’t have a traditional “everyone is Jewish” day. The first is that we’ve never been able to decide on which Jewish Holiday to co-opt, but the other is the main one, the other is that the Jewish Holidays move around on our calendar and we’re just too lazy to keep track.

Would You Like Fries With That?

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Last weekend I went to the The Annual Grilled Cheese invitational. This is an event where people compete to produce the best grilled cheese sandwich. It’s rather like a chili cook-off with a high dose of silliness thrown in. Actually it occurs to me you could do a good event that combined the two things…

Think about it. Chili is often served with cheese on top and bread either on the side, or, in the case of a chili-size, underneath. So here’s what you do. You set up a big area. On the right side of this area you have a chili cook-off. On the left side you have a grilled cheese invitational. People file in on the right and get a bowl of chili. Then they saunter over to the left and pick up a grilled cheese sandwich. Cut the sandwich up into bite size pieces and smush them into the bowl of chili. Instant white-trash culinary haiku.

Anyway, it seems like a good idea to me, but when I told it to God, he told me I wasn’t allowed to look at any internet mashups for a month.