I've been a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn, and a king; I've been up and down and over and out, and I know one thing; each time I find myself flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Americans = Gatsby = Lying to Yourself?

I have always been intrigued by F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby. Many people label it the novel that shows the great American Dream. I actually call it the anti-American Dream novel. Or a novel that shows when the American dream has gone bad or goes a  muck. If you have never read the novel, skimmed it, or only sort of read it once in high school and you are now at least in your mid 20's, I would suggest going back and reading it again. I think it will enlighten you.

Gatsby is a character that transcends all decades of American history. Why? Here is a man that was not satisfied with his situation at a very young age. Not unlike myself as a child. But instead of working honorably and hard to rise above his situation, he proceeded to create a fictitious Hollywood like hologram of himself. Very two dimensional in attributes and character. Some of this has to do with what he thinks he should be (versus what he wants to be) and what he thinks Daisy wants him to be. And of course he thinks he loves Daisy. And he never falters from that course even when he should have and maybe does recognize that he should re-evaluate his motivations. In essence, for whatever reason, he made some decisions as a 17 year old young man, and continued to "be constant as the northern star" to quote some good old Shakespeare (that is from Julius Caesar right before he gets stabbed to death in case you forgot). He lives his life as a complete lie. And my argument today (or should I say claim now because common core says I should use claim?) is that a majority of Americans are as stubborn as Gatsby and end up living most of their lives in spheres of facades trying to convince themselves that they are really trying to live for what they should be wanting instead of what they really like and dislike.

First, my simple Gatsby example. His extravagant parties. Notice how he doesn't really enjoy his parties. He doesn't drink, doesn't dance, doesn't even mingle among the guests. He throws these parties to try and attract Daisy because he thinks it is what she would like. He thinks it is what he is supposed to do and not what he really wants to do. Even having the goal of winning Daisy seems quite silly. She is married. That is like trying to buy a house that is not for sale. There are just some things you can not have. He needed to move on. But he lives his life in a lie and thinks he needs to win her back and thinks he knows what he needs to do and that will make him happy. And he is going to prove it to himself and the world. It doesn't make him happy. And we see such a loss in a human being.

How does this apply to the modern American? Oh, I see it every day. People's professions, child rearing, having children, where to live, clothes to buy, churched or unchurched, etc. Here is a great example from my science center days. I worked with a lot of folks who were just starting college and still living at home. They would complain and complain on end about the classes they had to take or their majors they were in. I had this one girl who hated living at home. I told her to move into the dorms. She was over 18 and she needed to be an adult. She wanted to, but her parents would stop paying for college. I told her fine! She was an adult, she had a job, she could get financial aid, and she could live on her own. But she did not do this because it would be hard. So I told her I did not want to hear her complaining anymore and cut her off anytime she started to complain about her living situation.

Same goes for field of study. One boy wanted to study one thing, but his parents would only pay for college if he became computer scientist. Instead of being true to himself (which indeed would have been a tad more difficult) he whined and complained, but did nothing to change his circumstance. So he got his computer science degree. I wonder how long he was going to work in that field... unhappy.

I always get grumpy around the holidays when people complain about having to visit their relatives. Why do you visit your relatives on holidays if you hate them so much? But their fammmmmmily is the common response I always hear. Who cares. You feel that you must do like Gatsby. There is some cosmic thing out there that says you have to be with relatives and family on holidays even if you hate it and they treat you bad, or it is just plain awful. Only being with people I enjoy on holidays has made my life so much better. I never feel uncomfortable and I have a super time. Why would you force yourself to do unpleasant things when you don't really have to. You are lying to yourself.

There are some people I have been very proud of that have been able to break the Gatsby mold. And in a very interesting way. And it goes against societal norms. I have known three people who were very insistent that they were going to be stay-at-home moms. They thought it was the right thing to do and the most healthy for their child, yada yada yada. They seemed to really really believe that. Baby comes along. And once they were in the 24/7 in your face, little to no adult stimulation/contact and no real work (not to say they don't have a job), these women had to face their truths and made a decision to go back to work for their health and happiness. One did it part time and the other two did it full time. This was not easy for them and was very hard. They had to face people who thought they were making selfish and bad choices. There was shame because what they thought was going to be the truth, turned out to be disaster. Now, when they realized that staying at home was not as fulfilling as they thought it would be, they could have stuck it out. Pretended all was rainbows and unicorns, but they would have been lying to themselves. How healthy is that to a child?

We live in a society where when new information is given or new experiences happen to go and re-evaluate and change your mind and do something different is considered wrong. We are a stay-the-course society. Which means we have a society of liars. So many folks are wishy washy because they truly don't know what they want. They only know what they think they want. They are trying to live to an ideal which really means they are living in a facade. I can only imagine how confusing and frustrating a life like that must be.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What Ever Happened to the Art of Discourse?

What a boring world this would be if we all agreed and we all had the same beliefs. But what I am finding more and more in American culture is the lost art of discourse and discussion. The idea that you can have firmly held beliefs (or maybe not so firmly held beliefs) and you can have an intelligent, thoughtful, fact based, common sense like conversation and maybe not even come up with a conclusion or answer.

You would think with the invention of first Friendster, then MySpace, and then Facebook, you would see this type of discourse blooming even more. Alas, all you get are these chest thumping idiots who are quick to call anyone who wants to bring up a different point of view of being a bully, a socialist, or any other fill-in-the-blank term that is meant to be derogatory. While the demographic seems to fall into 3-4 very similar categories, I have noticed 2 other demographic categories that seem polar opposite. So I am not comfortable to say that it is only a specific group that follows this trend. It just seems to be people from all groups.

For example, If you post a picture that says something like, "when you eat meat an animal was killed so you support murder," I am going to post links showing that science shows the human body as being omnivorous and other links showing how people who have went vegan and such have ruined their bodies and have done real medical harm. Now, I know that person could come back and have some valid examples of people who have gone all vegan and have had huge medical success. My one token in my belt is they can not take away my scientific omnivorous argument. But, we can have a discourse. Do I really plan to 'win?' No, but I want to make sure people are seeing that there can different sides to every story, every thought. 

Another example. For a week or so, I saw all these people (some quite shockingly very supportive of President Obama) sharing around how he spoke poorly about small business. Some said it was a slip of the tongue and maybe he should have stayed on the teleprompter. Others were outraged and used it as proof he was un-American and hated small business. None of this made sense to me. Having no TV access, I went to my valid and reliable internet sources to see what was up with this speech. I found the transcript of the speech and saw nothing that was against small business. I actually thought it was a nice speech about how we were all interconnected to each other and we all had someone (or many) who inspired us to achieve, and he even mentioned teachers. So then I began to wonder if he was misquoted. It is election season. Low and behold, I found several articles on how Fox News and Romney misquoted the speech. Actually they spliced together certain sentences. Then it made sense. Those splices did make it sound like he was anti-business. But people acted like sheeple (sheep/people) and did not do their research. 

So I promptly started correcting people and trying to get them to read the transcript of the speech and look at the info about him being misquoted. A lot of people did. But of course, there were those who pounded their fists. Maintained that I was wrong. They didn't need to read anything. They heard it on Fox or CNN or Rush or where ever they get their stuff. He is a bad president. They knew it from day one. I don't care what you feel about someone, but if you are given false information wouldn't you want the right stuff. Even if you hated him? I would. 

And there have been other examples. Which has led a couple folks to get very very angry with me. I have since been called a bully, socialist, commie, union thug, bad teacher, worse than I was in high school, crazy liberal, stupid, uninformed, misguided, etc. All because I wanted to have a little discourse. To flesh out what someone was really thinking. But because I choose to poke at them with some facts that went against what they were saying, they could not stand up to their arguments. I became the bad guy. The bully. I just wanted to hear what they had to say up against what I know to be facts and figures. I even said that. It was not good enough for them. 

Since I have caused such harm to them and they continue to call me names, I have taken the liberty to block them completely. I usually don't to necessarily to this because I like to see lots of opinions and beliefs, but this total disregard for discourse gets old. I have an irony board and when I pull it out, I irony people into Flat Stanleys. The irony here is that they were the ones to add me on the Book of Faces. 99% of the time, I don't add people because I don't want to be responsible for someone getting offended by anything that I may say or do. So here they were getting offending and could not take the same initiative they did to add me to then remove me. Of course, like always, I have rectified the problem. 

Please folks, bring back the art of discourse. Discussions. Remove your emotion from a topic and pick and poke at it. Look at the other sides. Play devil's advocate. You will work your brain in a manner you never thought possible and be a happier person! Trust me! Sometimes it is called High Level Thinking.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Meanwhile in the World of Soccer

I make no proclamations of being an expert in soccer. In fact, 2006 is really when I started to paying attention to the sport. But now I love it. And no, I will never play it. I think it is very healthy to have a sport that you follow that you do not participate. I really think it is important.

So as a relative outsider, I am starting to see some of the hypocrisies within the MLS. Some players get chastised for certain behaviors and techniques, while other players it is encouraged.

Let's get things straight here. I am not sure what the real label is, but I label myself a soccer purist. I don't like flopping and acting. I don't like full contact. Play and watch rugby if that is your thing. Now I understand and have no problem with legit "tackles."

I also think we need goal line technology. Real goal line technology. Chips in the balls and if it crosses the line, a light goes off. We have it in curling, we have it in hockey, and we have it bowling, and we can have it in soccer.

I also think there needs to be Ref reform. And it starts in an area where you may not think. FIFA retires its refs at 45. No ifs, ands or buts. This is stupid. If a ref can pass a physical test, then they should be able to continue. There is something to be said with age and expereince. Almost a calming effect sometimes. I also think that maybe letting women ref dude games should be considered. Chew on that!

I have a class today and will miss a lot of soccer games on MLS Live. It makes me sad. Well.. off to start the day!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Let's Cast Off...

This blog is going to be an adventure. Sailing into the written world of the unknown. Which direction will I wander is up the wind known as life. I know the topics will be as random as the call of ports around the world. I am a master to no one and my weapons of choice are fact based knowledge along side common sense and good judgement.

While I do not aim to confront, offend, or judge, I will not hold back on my opinions and observations. My beliefs are strong, but not unbreakable. As with all journeys, you have to be able to alter the course when different information becomes available.

So if you are willing to take the challenge, you are more than welcome to join the crew. Be forewarned, I do believe there are certain truths to be self evident. All humans are created equal, you don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger, and you don't mess around with Mel (or is it Jim). I can't seem to remember :-D

THIC [The Hammer in Chief]