Monday, December 31, 2012

Neutrality's Nascent Notion

There have been times throughout history when the pendulum of radicalization has swung so ridiculously far to the extreme that only in retrospect can we fully appreciate the significance of the bias.  Nazi Germany, the Khmer Rouge, or any form of ethnic cleansing are manifestations of such extremism.

While these examples represent the gravest forms of radicalization, I believe we are now witnessing a cultural form of it caused by pushing equality way past the boundaries of what should be deemed acceptable.

In the modern age, there a very few rational people who would argue against fair pay between the genders, equal rights among the races, or religious freedom for the masses. This is equality and we're closer to that ideal today than we've ever been, at least here in the West. When equality is pushed too far, though, its idiot cousin, neutrality rears its ugly head.

Recognizing as a parent that there's nothing inappropriate about your daughter playing with a truck or you son playing with a doll promotes equality. Teaching children, however, that there are no differences between the genders breeds neutrality and that's wrong.  Progressives clutching the idea that the sexes are indeed the same need to do nothing more than flip through an issue of Maxim, or worse (better?) to comprehend in vivid technicolor the error of their ways.   And if that's too reprobate, perhaps a visit to a hospital maternity ward would emphasize the point.

Our schools provide even better examples. The gender-neutral Gestapo have extolled the virtues of allowing little Jimmy to use the girls' room and Sally the boys'; to hell with cultural and biological differences. I'm pretty certain urinals' days are numbered if these clowns ever get their agenda in front of some dimwitted politician with a majority.

Where can "shim" relieve "shisself"?

Need more? Encouraging all religions and acknowledging their traditions promotes equality. Banning all religious observances and extirpating the word "Christmas" every December, walking around shamed into wishing everyone, "Happy holidays" instead is neutrality's evil fallout at its worst. Stop sounding so stupid! I'm curious as to why the politically correct zealots among us don't holster their "Happy New Year" salutations like they do with "Merry Christmas" when a full 20% of the people on Earth observe a different New Year.  Hmmmm!!?

And finally the workplace. Designing a building so that it is accessible and friendly to the disabled fosters equality. Changing the definition of "disability" so that it applies to nearly one-third of the workforce to further neutrality's agenda is utter madness and should be an affront to those who truly are disabled. Nothing lends itself to this argument more eloquently than "fragrance free workplace" boondoggles. It would appear that the very small minority who are bothered by the smell of lavender or ginger have persuaded the feeble minded that this is a disability and thus all fragrances need to be obliterated from the workplace. Fine with that? I wonder how far I would get if I could persuade a doctor to give me a note stating that the aroma of coffee makes me nauseous and exacerbates my asthma. Could I get that banned, too? After all, the fragrance of coffee wafting through the air is certainly more prevalent in our office spaces than eau de Paris Hilton. Or are with sniffing Taylor Swift this year? And before anyone reminds me that it's the carcinogens in scents that require them to be banned, let's not forget that the ozone expelled from your office copiers and the radiation emitted from your computer screens pose a much greater health risk than my Aqua Velva Classic ever could. Try banning those.

Equality can exist without neutrality and 100 years hence historians will look back at this time when many tried to guilt us into thinking otherwise with considerable contempt.

As a new year dawns, let's hope the pendulum of cultural radicalization swings back to the centre, where it belongs.

Monday, December 24, 2012

NRA's Holiday Histrionics

'Tis the season, so I thought about posting a provocative holiday message, but what can be uttered about Christmas that hasn't already been said? I'd rather wade into the gun control debate currently gripping America; the aforementioned disqualifier notwithstanding.

Allegedly, out of respect for the victims and their families, the NRA waited a full week after the Sandy Hook Massacre before issuing a statement. Apart from the usual sloganeering ("Guns don't kill people, people kill people" and "More guns means less crime"), the NRA issued a sensational new dictum calling on the nation to support armed police officers at all schools. If that's your best response to tragedies like Sandy Hook, I guess the debate is over before it's even started. I mean even if the NRA's suggestion was plausible, how long would it be before we were reading about some school cop going postal and executing a bunch of kids during recess? And after that, what pray tell would the NRA's next move be...arm the children?

Blame video games, blame the media, blame the internet, blame single parent families, blame valueless upbringing. It matters not who or what you blame because these issues are not going away and therefore we must conclude that the tragedies will not end while society's "aberrations" have easy access to weapons that could take down an airliner. And if we were somehow able to prevent these massacres at our schools based on the NRA's lastest proposal, those bent on executing the innocent would simply set their sights on churches, shopping malls, movie theaters, and bingo halls, instead.

On the exact same day as the Sandy Hook Massacre, a 36-year-old man rampaged through a Chinese elementary school slashing 22 children. While just as abhorrent as the nightmare in Newtown, no youngsters in China were buried in the aftermath. They will play another day, get hugged by loved ones, and live their lives. One can't help to think how the outcome might have been different in China if the same gun culture that exists in America was prevalent there and when these two outcomes are juxtaposed the point is delivered more eloquently than any 3 000 word essay ever could. For those who have genuinely thought it through, there is really only one sound course of action to preventing calamities like Sandy Hook, but it would appear that this is a directive America is loath to grasp.

You will never convince me that anyone other than a soldier at war requires an assault rifle. Ever. Torture the language of the 2nd Amendment all you want, get 4.3 million people to sign a petition,  threaten to impeach the President, remind me how many have sacrificed their lives in the name of liberty. I'm still unmoved.

If you need to search for meaning this Christmas, don't look to America's gun culture; you won't find any there.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Mayan Mayhem

If the world must end, does it really need to be on a Friday...before Christmas? I mean the Mayans could have certainly garnered a few more followers if they had "called" for the apocalypse on a cold January Monday before the morning commute.

All kidding aside, is anyone else as surprised as I am by the sheer number of doomsdayers who are actually preparing for the end of the world this Friday? It's depressing in the modern age with all of the access to instant information that so many still govern themselves as if they are brainless drones being preached to by some self-proclaimed backwoods prophet.

I'm certainly no expert on Mesoamerican culture, but it would seem that the Mayans adopted a 5125-year-long calendar that terminated in 2012. So while they never explicitly predicted the end of the world, the fact that their calendar cycle ends this year allowed the feeble minded to extrapolate and fill in the blanks. Who knows, maybe the Mayans simply discovered peyote or coca paste and lost all interest in chronology.

Undoubtedly written in chalk so it can be conveniently edited?

You'd be forgiven if you thought that this was nothing more than a harmless, humorous diversion, but runs on generators, batteries, and bottled water last week would seem to indicate otherwise. Sometimes I wonder if there's really and truly any hope for mankind when polls indicate that 1 in 7 people firmly believe that the world will end in their lifetimes.

Of course, the real danger on December 21st won't be from any cataclysm, but from some psycho who's convinced it's coming and is bent on taking out a few people (or a few buildings) for some just reason dreamt up during some drug fuelled haze.

The world won't end on Friday. Those who thought that it would will then go on record to say that the Mayans' math was off (rounding error?) and propose a new date for the apocalypse. And if you find yourself in that camp, might I suggest that I think your world may have already come to an end?

If you don't want to start your Christmas shopping, you'll need a better excuse.

Monday, December 10, 2012

When Sleeping In is Out

As much as I would like to, I can no longer sleep in. The will is there. In fact, there are times when on vacation with no alarm or next morning plans that I consciously remind myself upon retiring for the night that I plan to sleep in the next day. It never seems to happen, though.

Is it guilt? After all, the productive elements of our society generally associate sleeping in with sloth while rewarding early risers. "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." and "The early bird catches the worm." While I'm sure guilt plays a part for many, I don't think it applies to me. In college, on days with little to do or weekends, it wasn't uncommon for me to snooze well past noon or, as the saying goes, rise to see the sunset. I was comfortable with this and recall it being the norm among my peers. I was happy and there was never any guilt.

So what is it? I think like anything else in life, sleep fits into a subconscious list of priorities that evolve with us over time. To an ultra fit athlete, sleep may be curtailed to get in a 90 minute early morning jog. To the socially inclined, sleep may be restricted to enjoy a night (or several) on the town. To a career minded family man with two young children, realizing that he has fewer tomorrows than yesterdays, sleep takes a back seat to the cornucopia of other priorities in his pursuit of happiness.

I will never disparage the late-risers. I envy them, but doubt I will ever again join their ranks.

Monday, December 03, 2012

A Tale of Two Pities

So, the United States Postal Service lost a record $15.9 billion last year. I don't know what surprised me more: the enormity of the loss or the fact that there still is a United States Postal Service.

Think hard. What's this dinosaur still doing around?  If you answered, "Being a cash cow for parasitic union jobs", then you'd be correct. By its own account, the USPS will be out of money by mid Oct, 2013 unless Congress bails them out. And if you smell a bankruptcy, then you must be high from licking stamps; it won't happen as the USPS is just too big to fail and too important to the economy.

So here's a thought from way out in left field.  Try cutting costs. Do meaningless flyers and the refuse they become really need to be delivered to every door in America each and every day? Of course not. Cut some services and you can trim some fat. The unions aren't going to like it, but there's 15 900 000 000 reasons why Congress may need to help them understand.

You must be thinking that we should all be grateful that things aren't this dicey on the private sector side of things. Just ask iconic Twinkie maker, Hostess Brands Inc. how true they think that is.

A crippling strike by the company's 12 unions have all but erased the company's ability to produce and deliver products. The union has stated that they have given enough for the struggling firm and "can't keep giving."

So the world will do without Twinkies and the unions will see to it that 18 500 former employees will do without jobs. Well done.

There was a time, long ago, when unions served a purpose. Long hours in poor conditions for slave wages were all eliminated by unions. Those days are over and if the unions' new objective is to bankrupt companies or create tax-payer funded bailouts, then God help us all.