Random thoughts 12

A Vancouver radio station (FM 104.9) once bore the slogan, “The greatest hits of all time.” The greatest hits of the past, present AND future? Impossible. What the slogan implies is that the best music that humankind can create has already been released and it’s all downhill from here (although older music fans may have been saying that for a few decades now). This is yet another example of exaggeration in advertising.

Television is the old format of entertainment: you sat down in front of it and the programs featured kept you laughing, crying, interested, scared…in other words, emotionally spellbound. The maximum amount of interaction that you had with the television was the ability to change the channel using the remote control. However, with the advent of the home computer (and the Internet), there has begun a silent competition for your undivided attention. I believe that the computer is gaining ground (and fast) because it’s much more interactive; sure, you can sit down in front of it and watch movies and clips from TV programs, but you can also type documents, chat with friends (text, audio, or video) and play games. Also, there are infinitely more ‘channels’ to choose from (as opposed to cable TV’s 30-50, or satellite’s 500). The fact, for the most part, remains the same: we are planted in front of a lighted (sometimes flickering) box, receiving information. The only substantial change has been the format in which we receive said information.

Nowadays, I believe the media want personalities that attract attention for making offensive remarks and doing outlandish things so that they can capitalize on said personalities; this will ensure a future market (a continued interest in aforementioned personalities, a.k.a. future investment) and sustained ratings for those media outlets giving airtime to those personalities. Regular people are not interesting and certainly not newsworthy (a low interest in subject matter means little attention paid which equals an unprofitable market); therefore, the media gives attention to (or sometimes goes after) those who either say/do things for attention or draw attention to themselves because of their quirks and/or strange personality traits. This is what I refer to as the manipulation of the public’s attention through intentional offence (e.g. Eminem, Tom Green, Bill O’Reilly).

Something that both confuses and irritates me is people who say, “Sounds to me like you need to get laid!” in response to someone ranting angrily about something. Just because I have an opinion about something (and get mad while discussing it) does NOT mean I need to have sex or have not had sex lately. In most cases, having sex or not has NOTHING to do with why a person chooses to rant. Why can’t people get angry or be passionate about certain topics simply because of how strongly they feel about those topics? Why is it that if they’re really into a conversation and giving it their all, their ‘problem’ must be that they’re “not getting laid”? Yes, sex can mellow a person out, but do we HAVE to be mellow for our entire lives? What I think is actually being said here is, “You need to stop getting angry, shut your mouth and be complacent.” What’s wrong with getting angry once in awhile? I can go out, have the best sex of my life and then come back here and type an angry rant about something that pisses me off. Quit using that tired old line simply because you don’t have a good enough retort in response to what the ranter is talking about.

You know that old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? I can understand that saying being applied to people (insofar that there’s no reason to insult someone), but to apply it to how someone views an event, a situation or even an entire life is, I think, ignorant. This is not a happy-go-lucky, rose garden world; the truth can be very ugly at times, but must be acknowledged nonetheless. I believe that negativity in the form of constructive criticism is necessary in order to improve a person, place or thing. (I wonder if those who parrot ‘that old saying’ also believe that news seen in a negative light should be ignored, not printed/discussed, or covered up.)
The negative view is just as necessary as the positive because it presents a challenge. Challenge and competition are necessary in life to help you see your strengths, weaknesses and where you stand in relation to your friends, family and the rest of the population. There will be no utopia, no world where every single thing is good and every single person is happy because (1) we all have different views and goals, (2) an advancement in one person’s life may mean a reduction in another’s, (3) in order for all humankind to be happy, all humans must share the same goals, outlooks and mindsets (which means the death of diversity). Result? The world would become boring and monotonous, there would be very little in the way of challenge/obstacles and we would not reach our full potential as individuals.
Negativity is necessary because it provides balance. Sometimes, if we think we are the best at what we do, it’s useful to have negative feedback, in the form of constructive criticism, to deflate an ego that may be the cause of trouble later on (an overconfident ego can be dangerous, especially if left unchecked). It’s not to say that someone will criticize you because they want you to fail, quite the contrary; they may want you to succeed, and by sharing such information it may aid you as you may not have been able to see such things for yourself. What is not needed, however, is insulting negativity; this usually arises due to jealousy of one’s talents or abilities. There may even arise cases where seething, insulting negativity is encased inside (what appears to be) constructive criticism (this is sometimes known as sarcasm). The more one listens (and applies knowledge) to such statements, the better an idea they will get of others’ views about themselves. One should welcome negativity and learn to use it wisely.

A person may “see the glass as being half full,” but that does NOT mean that you know their personality inside and out simply because you read an article with the title, “The personalities of those who see the glass half full” in some magazine (Cosmopolitan, The Star or some other useless publication). Just because you read something that states that “a man who picks up a glass with his left hand is more likely to walk his dog twice on a rainy day,” and “if she licks her lips when talking to you, it means that she wants you to pay the server three dollars more than the 15% average,” and “if they sigh while watching fireworks it means they’re thinking about marriage,” DOES NOT MEAN THAT IT’S TRUE. Why are people interested in knowing useless tidbits of information like that? What does such a trait say about those people? I think those little ‘tips’ and ‘hints’ that the magazines pump out each month is just to keep us focused on little things that have no significance in the greater scheme of life. Then again, the fascination may also have something to do with prediction.
There are people out there who like to appear smarter than they actually are; they like to have the feeling of holding some ominous intellectual power over others and feel more powerful when they guess that something’s going to happen (and, by some fluke, are correct). But if predicting makes them FEEL powerful, where are they going to go to get more power? (Perhaps those magazines that dole out ‘helpful’ little hints.)
Many human beings have a fascination with power: political, physical, mental…any kind of power that makes a person stand out, makes others gasp in awe at the mere sight of that person or makes that person feel good about themselves. Power does not lie with any one person for long, so that may be why some people gloat and boast for as long as they can with what little power they have.
If you want real staying power, my suggestions are: to exercise (physically and mentally), read, write, explore, know thyself…in short, to learn as much as possible, but yourself most of all. Gaining recognition from others does not come as a result of telling them that you know what kind of person they are and what they’re bound to do simply because you’ve studied astrological signs and read horoscopes from an early age; in fact, it may bring much scorn your way (perhaps even earn you the label, ‘Nostradumbass’). The simple act of trying to gain recognition may be futile in and of itself; one should strive to be better for themselves, not simply for the ovation of others.
“Don’t act like if your parents had fucked a month earlier, you’d be feedin’ me chili dogs and lettin’ shit slide; you’re an asshole. Be who you are.” – Doug Stanhope, from the DVD “No refunds”.

When someone says, “If everyone thought like you, then no one would vote”, isn’t that a subtle attack on individual thought? The statement appears to convey the domino effect of groupthink in populations, but could it also be saying that those who think for themselves (and refuse to follow the system) are threats to society?
Remember that old, ludicrous saying, “If all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you do it too?” The question is asked in such a condescending way as to suggest that we, as individuals, do not think for ourselves but simply follow the herd mentality (even to the point of ignoring personal safety). I think a rebuttal to that old saying would not be out of the question: Why are my friends and I on the bridge in the first place? Are we bungee jumping? Is the difference in height (between the bridge and the ground below) so small that we can’t hurt ourselves no matter HOW we jumped off? And the biggest question: why would I threaten my own life by jumping off a bridge?
I’m starting to get the feeling that individual thought is frowned upon while large amounts of people who share the same idea are favoured. I am for individuality; that is not to say that I’ll never join a group that has a common cause, but I won’t sacrifice my views and beliefs simply to increase the quantity of a group…or the statistics of a population that favour one candidate over another.

It seems to me that laws are written in such a way that the common man cannot understand them, and therefore needs someone who practices law to interpret for them. Why is this? Why can’t laws be written in plain and simple terms so that the average person can understand those laws and be able to defend themselves in court? Could this be a conspiracy by legal minds to keep lawyers in business? Having to depend on a lawyer to decipher the legislative text for you is a type of conditioning to increase dependence on others for things that you yourself are not willing to put the time into investigating/understanding for yourself.  This is partly why we have leaders and governmental bodies: we are too busy in our own lives to do it ourselves. We are not completely self-sufficient; this can be seen as both positive and negative. On the positive side, depending on someone else for a certain task (or number of tasks) may temporarily (or, in some cases, permanently) employ them for monetary gain. On the negative, however, your dependence on them (and other strangers in the future) may increase and that will result in one less task that you yourself could learn.

There are millions of reasons made up of millions of combinations as to why some people have debilitating health problems. When it comes to analyzing specific foods in your diet, your level of physical activity, or your genetic structure and how it plays a role in what diseases you may develop or become susceptible to in your lifetime, there are not always clear-cut answers, such as, “If I stop eating Food A, then I will become 100% healthy again!”
It’s not always one particular food that drastically reduces your health, and even if it is, that particular food doesn’t always produce the same chemical reaction in every person, so telling everyone you know that just because you used to eat Food A and now you’re staying away from it doesn’t mean they should as well. The consumption of a particular food (or group of foods) may speed up the signs of a disease that could become painfully obvious later in life, but even with all the medical research done on the body’s reaction to certain foods (and chemicals in those foods), it’s very difficult, at this stage, to pinpoint exactly what is causing one person ill simply because there are so many factors in life to consider: food, stress, random accidents, air/water quality, animals, technology, children, job, influence/peer pressure by friends, religion/beliefs, local environment, etc. You must experiment for yourself to find the right combination, and even if you do, you may have to modify (or completely change) that combination in the future, for nothing stays the same.

I think the main reason that so many of us are overweight and/or experiencing health problems these days is because there are too many chemicals in the food made available to us. Various organs in the body don’t know how to properly deal with these unnatural ingredients and therefore spend a large amount of energy attempting to either convert or dispose of them. What energy remains (most likely very little) could lead to a decreased immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to continuous biological attack. The regular consumption of synthesized (as opposed to natural) food may cause (1) a lethargic feeling (which leads to less physical activity) and (2) less brain function (which slows, perhaps ceases, critical thinking when in the supermarket).
Either we have to somehow get these added chemicals out of the food we eat or we must stop buying the food that has so many chemical ingredients that we’d have to re-take science class in order to understand exactly what the chemical names mean and why they’re added to the food in the first place.

“McDonald’s food: Made with Canadian pride.”
(Advertisement seen in downtown Vancouver during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games)
Yeah, right. If a Canadian company advertised in the U.S. using the slogan “Made with American pride,” they’d be labelled “Un-American,” boycotted and run out of the country. Why did patriotic Canadians (with their flag waving and all) let an American company get away with posting such an ad? More importantly, where were the Canadian-based companies with their own counter-attack ads? Surely, in this day and age of cutthroat competition, there would be a company (founded on Canadian soil) that would be boasting about its patriotism and support for Canada louder than McDonald’s? Politicians take each other to task for their patriotism, so why not companies as well (some of whom donate money to the politician’s election campaigns)?

Why does McDonald’s sponsor the Olympic Games in the first place? Do athletes REALLY endorse McDonald’s food as part of their diet? I think it’s because people eat McDonald’s food that they have to exercise (and more so than usual).

In the week before the Olympics started in Vancouver, I noticed that Canadian flags had suddenly appeared in places where I’d never noticed them before: the fronts and sides of apartment buildings, people’s vehicles, and commercial buildings (to name a few). Why the sudden patriotism? Foreigners KNOW they’re in Canada; you needn’t make it any clearer lest they subconsciously think you’re insulting them with the mass number of flags everywhere! I walked around a few neighbourhoods in Salt Lake City, Utah in the summer of 2000 and saw many American flags hung up outside people’s houses, but it wasn’t for any special occasion; rather, the flags were up because those who set them were patriotic Americans. I think that this sudden ‘Canadian patriotism’ is for nothing else but show, because after all is said and done and the Olympics are a distant memory, the flags will be taken down. In fact, I predict that 75% of the Canadian flags that were on public display during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games will be taken down one month after the games end. (A real patriot doesn’t take their flag down simply because the world is no longer watching.)

Someone had asked me if I was going to see the Olympic torch when it was being carried to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver; I told them no because I knew what fire on a stick looked like and it wasn’t worth getting up at 8 o’clock in the morning to go and see. If someone is excited to see an object that has come here from another country, then take a look at the tag on your clothing, the sound (or video) cards in your computer or the fine print on your kids’ toys; chances are they were made in Korea, Indonesia or China. People aren’t lining up around the block to see that stuff, so why cheer for a torch? Why spend so much time, money and resources on showing the commoners a flaming stick?

The only way I see that B.C. could make back the money that was spent on the 2010 Olympics (figures range from 6-9 billion) would be to overcharge for simple products in the tourist season. By the way, raising prices on things (that normally don’t cost much) simply because the Olympics are here and the tourists don’t know what the actual prices are? Criminal, just like the Harmonized Sales Tax (that wasn’t going to be implemented in the first place) is criminal.

(This is in reference to Translink charging $5 to travel on the Canada Line Skytrain from the Vancouver International Airport instead of giving people the option to purchase 1 {$2.50}, 2 {$3.75} or 3 {$5.00} zone fares.)

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