Can We Still Rally?

the other night, over dinner with a friend, i believe an important question reared its head:
where has our fervor gone?

why does it appear that the american public is only mildly concerned with the current state of affairs in this country? why is this mild concern meagerly supported by a dearth of examples, further hindering our awareness and leaving efforts hamstrung? and why do these efforts seem sporadic at best?

initially, my friend and i, we gravitated toward the 'media.' between its fragmentation and various vehicles, we simply concluded that its coverage of this war is equally fragmented and varied. and, well, it fills the gaps with things that amount to news-journalism "rubbernecking." we hear about porn revenues, people getting beat up, tv hosts dropping the F Bomb, spats amongst celebrities. and, as interesting and pleasing as these things are to read--they satisfy some cerebral sweet tooth--they take up space in our newspapers, websites, radio shows, magazines, and newscasts. they fill up time that might be better spent examining more necessary issues. moreover, they distract us.

for instance:
there were over 100 people killed in iraq on tuesday. yet, the only thing i really heard about was how hot brangelina looked at the golden globes.

now, i understand that if i really wanted to find some coverage on this disturbing wartime fact, i could dig around for a few minutes and find it. but my worry isn't about a situation like this. there are people who care deeply, and they find the facts; and they do talk about them. but, on the whole, these folks appear (at least to me) to be a vast minority. the issues they try to bring to the forefront can be given cursory coverage in major news sources and compete for ratings on tv newscasts where people naturally gravitate towards less taxing issues, like red carpet fashions.

even still, i think many might agree that there is sufficient coverage of some of the more pressing matters concerning our involvement in this war, and that one need only take a step in any direction to land on it. i admit that it would be difficult for me to argue against this position for an extended period of time.

and so, this situation, this 'mild concern' that i'm discussing, is a cause for even greater perplexity (again, perhaps just for me)...

...if i acquiesce and concede that there may in fact be satisfactory coverage of our involvement in this war and the issues involved in it, how is it that americans still appear to be, on the whole, rather apathetic about the whole thing?

my friend and i, we continued our debate on this point of contention, trying to lay blame. in doing so, we found our focus tightening. it no longer settled on 'media' as a whole. our aim now trained on what i'll call the 'curators'--the newscasters, editors, producers. for if, out there in the media ether, there exists sufficient wartime analysis to counter my previous assertion, and yet we still remain lethargic in response to the facts, then it must be concluded that one cannot necessarily depend on the american people to actively seek out the truth and debate it. therefore, it takes someone to direct us, to literally make us look at what is most important. this job lies in the hands of these 'curators,' as they control the distribution, the lineup, the commentary; they are the sources of dissemination.

there was a time when curators dealt the truth whether we wanted to hear it or not. and because those views rang true, we had no choice but to hear. they forced us to pay attention. during his coverage of the vietnam war, walter cronkite was brave enough to make us stop and listen. during his newscast on february 19, 1968 he opined that the war had become a "stalemate" that had to be ended, and so we must "negotiate."

ultimately, his comments helped lead our country out of that war, perhaps contributing to president johnson's decision to end our commitment in vietnam.

meanwhile, today, we have nbc newscasters labeling the situation in iraq as "civil war."

i find this to be a sad, stark contrast. and, unfortunately, most people are suffering for it--iraqis and americans alike. it's a "civil war" mentality that allows the importance of our wartime status to sneak past the american conscience and become a demoted, second-tier issue, effecting everything related to it.

in the end, however, i think it's difficult to place onus on any one group or person or thing. but then, this isn't the sort of issue that is bettered as result of allocating blame. rather than try to figure out where the problem started, it's better for us to decide how to fix it.

and so, i want to test the waters. i'm posting this article on digg.com. i urge you to help make this post stand out from the rest. i want to use it as a starting point. if enough support can be rallied, i hope to use it as a means of organizing a march in washington d.c.. something large enough to get everyone's attention. i've never done anything like this before, that's why i hope you'll take me seriously and help show that people still do care.

let's see what happens.


You Pay For What You (Don't) Get

it would appear that many of my musings are inspired or occur whilst in coffee shops.

this deep thought is brought to you by starbucks.

let us walk through a scenario which i believe we can all relate to.

step 1: enter starbucks
step 2: queue in line
step 3: approach 'barista'
step 4: order
step 5: pay
step 6: get coffee

in a perfect world, this scenario unfolds from step 1 in a rather prompt and sequential manner. after all, it make sense that after step 1 comes step 2 and then step 3 and so on. until, in a reasonable amount of time, you're holding the multi-syllabic caffeinated beverage of your choice.

however, in a perfect world, we live not.

and so, our scenario's impenetrable logic suddenly begins to breakdown. everything still unfolds from step 1, but the fluidity and promptness of the process begins to deteriorate at step 5. here, there is a sort of barista brain fart, a hiccup.

the bone of contention for me is trying to understand what in god's name happens between steps 5 and 6. and, more importantly, why this mystery event--let's call it step 5.5--is acceptable.

after the barista has taken my money at step 5 thus ensues The Long Wait (aka step 5.5). it is at this particular juncture that i have taken value i own--i.e. cash--and transferred that value to the barista with the expectation of receiving a perishable good of commensurate value to the cash i just dispensed.

however, in return, i receive nothing. in fact, not only do i receive nothing, but worse, i am made to wait whilst still receiving nothing for an undetermined, protracted period of time ...the duration of which i have no control over.

this when i find myself asking:
"what did i just pay for?"

to anticipate a critique of this rationale:
yes, inevitably and ultimately i do receive my caffeine fix for the day. but my gripe is not with the end--i paid for that; i expect my coffee. my gripe is with the means--i didn't pay for that; why am i paying a price just to stand there?

so, in this limbo where i have paid for something and not yet received it, i'm waiting in a space where i've in fact paid for nothing.

the next question is:
"why are these 15 other people standing here? and why is this an acceptable paradigm for them?"

other holes people might try to punch in this conundrum involve examples.

for instance: plane tickets.
we buy those in advance. why don't you make the same claim about waiting for a flight to board when there's a delay or bad weather?

my answer:
i'm complaining about coffee. COFFEE.
it requires a process of grinding beans and then pouring hot water through them to produce a drink.

the counter-example involves airplanes.
airplanes are highly sophisticated machines with innumerable pieces, parts, nuances etc. furthermore, to fly one requires coordination on an advanced level. there's the FAA, flight control, other planes, radar, flight paths, etc. finally, weather can't be controlled, nor can it be well-predicted. simply put, flying on an airplane contains a sufficient amount of variables as to require a passenger to not only be un-phased by delays but to actually expect/anticipate them.

coffee on the other hand does not satisfy this 'numerous variable' requirement.

what do you think?


2 + 1 + 2 Things You Don't Know About Me

got a tag from Jack Cheng to participate in a nice little project: five things you don't know about me. here comes the weirdness...

1. i'm incredibly OCD. i'm obsessed with the number thirteen. i view it as an auspicious sign when i look at a digital clock and it reads X hour and 13 minutes. if i want something good to happen, i will ask myself if it is going to happen and then look at the clock. if it is at the 13th minute, i will then count to thirteen in my head; and, if the minute doesn't change then i'm somewhat more hopeful of the prospect of this wish being fulfilled. likewise, i won't turn off the shower until i count backwards from 10 to -3.

2. conversely, i hate the number 14. i believe it to be the unluckiest of all numbers. if, when going through the above exercise of asking for a wish to fulfilled, i see the 14th minute on the clock, i'm pretty much certain that whatever it is i hoped for is now marked for death.

3. i love legos. i still build them with my nephews whenever i visit them. when i was little, i built an entire lego world based around the then magical monorail. it filled my whole room, and regular sized adults would have to sort of bob and weave to make their way through it.

4. i speak french

5. i have a 125mph serve. (i used to play a lot of tennis)

sadly, i know not who else to tag as all of my blogosphere contacts have been used up between my friends Jack and Ryan. they would've been Concha, Piers, Bryan, and then Ryan and Jack.

alas, i know no other bloggers. maybe i'll try aziz. he doesn't know me, but i bet his list would be interesting.