for 2 November 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run 10.26.00
That was a remarkably good interview with the ghostie-boy. The whole idea that there are lots of ghosts around but they don't really do much...just sit and brood, really...is truly scary. Very "No Exit." Better "the end of days" than "days without end," surely. Though, for sheer terror, you might pull out an old copy of the Odyssey and read what hell is really like. Grey would not be my favorite color for eternity.
But I really wanted to rant about the undecided. "Say a prayer for the stay at home voter..." and all that. You may recall that to keep the cat in kibble I occasionally climb into an aluminium cylinder, fly to exotic lands, and run focus groups. I have heard America singing, and---trust me on this one---she is way off key. Any time you bring a bunch of just plain folks into a room with Pepperidge Farms cookies, what you get is a massive dose of aggressive ignorance. Mind you, these are nice people. Get them talking about their kids or their pets or their community, and they're just fine. But they are in such fear of being "taken" that they will, as far as I can tell, say or do almost anything to avoid doing the common sense thing. They're suspicious of insurance companies...so they invest in pyramid schemes. They're suspicious of doctors...so they spend their savings on herbal remedies. They're suspicious of politicians...so they invent bizarre hurdles they expect officials to jump over...and when they actually do jump over them, they're accused of pandering. The one thing nobody apparently is willing to do is spend 15 minutes looking into an issue, accept that you do the best you can with what you have, make a decision, and live with it. This cheap, unformed, knee jerk, essentially self-destructive cynicism is the heart of the great undecided vote...and I say it's spinach. It's true that some of these "undecideds" simply don't give a damn but, rather than admit this, invent silly reasons for their lack of decision.
We should declare a moratorium on requiring political awareness and let anyone who thinks the country is doing sort of OK and doesn't care just opt out. Since the country really is doing pretty OK, and the political culture is debating at the margins anyway, this should be allowed. We don't require people to root for football games if they don't like football, after all. Letting them opt out would spare us a raft of rationalizations that only clutter things up. Most of us probably in our heart of hearts would prefer a king anyway. I'm more concerned by the ex-Ross Perot types (yeah, and the Naderites and the Libertarians and Buchannasties) who keep complaining that they'd really truly do something if only The System would give them the chance. Deal with it. The System will NEVER give you a chance. That's because it's a big big system with enormous inertia...and it damn well should be changed slowly. Changes occur slowly...too slowly, sure, but that means bad changes as well as good changes occur slowly. If Regan couldn't reduce the size of government and Clinton (with a majority in both houses) couldn't pass the world's most conservative health care bill...ain't nothing going to happen fast. You don't like that? Tough. Go write an anti-glacier book (pace, Mr Vonnegut). Just spare me all this yammering by the undecided. It's a fairly easy choice; the two guys are pretty different; they're imperfect, but you're not a 10 either. Pick one. And shut up and go away. It's bad enough I have to listen to this stuff when I get paid for it. Alan Who is feeling unusually cranky today
Alan S Kornheiser
Not to be abrupt, but the idea you're proposing is the situation that exists in the United States of America at the present time. Nobody is required to be politically aware, much less to vote. Most likely they're attending your focus group because it's a quick and relatively easy $100.
But let's talk about ghosts. We were a bit disappointed that Ghostmaster Dale David Kaczmarek seemed to accept so readily the notion that spirits are wandering the earth merely because they don't know where to go. Based on experience, we're guessing most of them know very well that they're going to the Wrong Place and are trying to put that off as long as possible. We would have asked him about this, and in the spirit of your Homeric allusion, tried to worm out some descriptions of the underworld. But Mr. Ghost was so determined to avoid the topic of evil spirits that we didn't want to bedevil him. Besides, the scary thing about hell isn't that it's terrible, but that anything less than perfect would be intolerable if it lasted for eternity.
Under the link[BABYLON] I was sent to a website of the Vatican's Holy See as if it was a comparison of the Vatican and Babylon for the sake of humer. As a Catholic I find it not so funny a comparison. I converted to the Church and have found it a Bastion of good will ,true and heathy love, kindness and exceptional empathy for mankind.
As a Catholic from infancy, the suckster who inserted that link has neither your convert's conviction nor your convert's insulation from the aggressive madness of the old RCC. But rest assured, that joke is as funny as a male nun. When the Pope retains a cartoonist as brilliant as Jack Chick, we'll stop believing Mother Church is the Whore of Babylon.
Damn you! The following line from today's edition literally made me blow coffee all over my monitor, thanks a lot:
"but Swisher also summarizes one potential new demographic uncovered: "men who wanted to access porn online but didn't know how to find it.""
Take a closer look, BellD. That's not coffee on your monitor! Bah-duh-bump.
Nice interview with the ghost hunter. I liked your asking "Do you ever get any overlap, where people report a ghost but it turns out to be the Virgin Mary or an angel or something? " A valid question, but also think about what would happen if a place was haunted by several mutually exclusive entities. Who would win in turf wars between angels, ghosts, aliens and elves, each calling the others inexistent or obsolete?
At any rate, the guy's best answers were those regarding his work with "professional psychics" and his claim to "stay on the scientific end of the spectrum, using high tech gear and gizmos". They're so scientific, in fact, that they use something called a "Geophysically Equipped _Instrument of Scientific Testing_" (designed by one of their members) which measures everything from static electricity to smells. They stay away from controversial polygraphs, instead using something called a "Tremolo Meter" (which measures the "percentage of amplitude modulation" in voice) to tell if the witnesses are telling the truth, and the gizmo is so good it even works from tape recorded voices.
He says the society has 168 members, but the "bylaws" ("The title Ghost Research Society remains the exclusive property of Dale Kaczmarek") and the "chain of command" (empty posts for vice-president, research director, secretary, etc.) show that the "society" is basically under control of one Dale Kaczmarek. But I guess something called "Dale's Ghostly Gizmo Club" wouldn't look as good on his book or on the Discovery Channel. I used to watch Discovery/TLC some time ago, before the FOXification of including shows about Roswell and killer Earthquakes instead of Connections. I don't watch anymore, but I hope they're not endorsing magnetic insoles and reverse speech now.
And why bother with pros when scientific ghost hunting is within anyone's reach with the new Phantometer, available for only $49.95 by following a link from the GRS website. This "ghost field detector" also acts as a "Ghost/UFO" meter. "Whichever ghost theory you believe or however many times you've been abducted, we've got your tool!" How's that for overlap. I expect the next model will detect missing people, miracles, underground water, and the evil eye.
Sorry for the long rant, but I get steamed with that certain kind of people who want to invoke science via buzzword incantations. Jane Houston's Ghostwatcher is the only ghost site I consider neat.
You've got a valid point, Humberto. Technology has democratized the field of ghost hunting just as it has so many industries, and the elites are probably feeling protective of their turf. But think about it: The infighting, the creative differences, the voluminous bylaws aren't all of these really the whole point of exercises like this?
As for your first question, we'd have to say that whoever wins in an inter-entity battle, it wouldn't be the ghosts. Dale's central point that ghosts are pretty much powerless beings is pretty much beyond dispute. What makes ghosts scary isn't that they can really harm us, but that they remind us of how we're going to end up with or without their assistance.
I think you've hit on something important about the nature of conversations with "successful" people. The constant jockeying for upper hand position does get irritating very quickly, and while understanding how to be a complete assfuck is an important skill, you quickly come to realize that making a career/lifestyle out of it doesn't really contribute all that much to your personal happiness.
And I'm sure that's what they're banking on. I suppose such people are able to eat moose turd pie longer than the rest of us, but after a while one begins to understand that you are what you eat.
Before you club me with a bong and turn me into a squirrel tell me: can you really have disconnected ownership, or do you think it infects who you are on an intrinsic level?
Well, to tell you the truth, I don't think doing something crass and commercial infects who you are on an intrinsic level. I think hanging out with the kinds of people who do crass, commercial things and never, ever question it for a second is what infects who you are on an intrinsic level. I mean, you're surrounded by these people who don't question things. Maybe they also speak entirely in upbeat business jargon. But, hey, wouldn't you do something crass and commercial if you weren't a big questioner? I mean, life would be so much easier. But see, for a questioner, hanging out with non-questioners is sheer torture. That's because all questioners were raised by non-questioners, who beat them about the face and neck with huge question marks every time they asked a question, hence the perverse need, as adults, to question everything and be punished for it.
Ok, that's not totally accurate. It's questioners who hang out with non-questioners that are questionable. These are people who want to torture themselves by trying to play a role they can never play, not authentically. They wish they didn't question everything, but they do. So they surround themselves by upbeat non-questioners, hoping they'll pick up the non-questioning thing. Instead they just end up beating someone up or crying at the company picnic.
What really gets my goat is renowned questioners, questioners you know really well, who suddenly start acting like non-questioners. I mean, you lose touch, and then the next thing you know, they're sending you emails about how great their lives are, when in fact the details of their lives sound quite unbearable. Did they stop questioning, and if so, can you get a prescription for whatever they're on? Or did they stop bringing you into their confidences? Should you respond by lying in kind ("Lovin' Fayetteville! Wish you were here!") or should you be brutally honest and hope they'll respond with honesty? And isn't it sad that you think reports of happiness must be dishonest? What the fuck is wrong with you anyway?
Ah, the life of the questioner really is the true path to happiness, isn't it?
It isn't? You're kidding me. Then why am I on it?
I'm not on it?
Where am I?
Hello? Is there anybody out there?
Filler today was excellent: good topic (yuppies), with a quiz (drawing in your readers), and political topicality (lockbox) which led back to to the topic. It worked for me on so many levels, man.
I wanted to tell you it was all a's and b's on the quiz, but if I'm honest I have to admit to answering c on the last one. But my poster was Georgia O'Keefe, and it was from the big tour that followed her death, and I've been to D.C. lots of times, and I was there for my sister's wedding, and besides it was one of her abstracts--you know, the one with lots of hard pastels that can go in any room, so you can't really blame me for wanting a remembrance.
Please, God, save me from yuppiedom, or just give me an Internet-ready earpiece and some handlers.
Still trying to make the grade.
Hey, man, I'd never give you an F for liking vaginas.
Besides, one should never be blamed for what one truly wants.
Nice stuff, but the service professional thing seems very Eighties--not Naughts--as lampooned in American Psycho.
Didn't see the movie or read the book I avoid material about psychos, fearing it will strike a little too close to home. But I'm very eighties, so your comments are right on the money. In fact, your comments are the color of money, money, money, honey, honey.
p.s. Did you know your name rhymes with "grouch"?
You know whatcher talking about Lady.
And, say for instance that your Yuppie acquaintances are not just friends of friends but actual blood relatives. Say they are your older sisters, even. Then the steady barrage of unsolicited and publicly delivered career counseling comes under the guise of familial concern. Well it's no less humiliating than unsolicited and publicly delivered psychiatric counseling. So, in response to their well-intentioned assaults, why don't I publicly deliver my amateur diagnosis of their clear personality disorders?
Because that would be cruel. I really can get a better job. They, on the other hand, are mired in high-powered careers and lifestyles to which their social pathologies suit and condemn them. Can't have the one without the other.
Keep keepin it real.
What makes you think I'm keeping anything real? What would you say if I told you I'm reading this email on my Limited Issue Platinum Palm Pilot XX?
I believe in publicly delivered career counseling and publicly delivered psychiatric counseling, frankly particularly among Catholics like yourself, who tend to be a little bit repressed. I think if your siblings are speaking to you honestly, no matter how much you second-guess and judge what they say, you should feel grateful that they take the time to try. I mean, they're older sisters. They feel like it's their responsibility to be open and frank with their sweet, shy little brother. I'm thinking maybe you're the one creating distance there, because you're a wee bit self-conscious about your lack of ambition in commercial and monetarily rewarding fields.
Why so embarrassed by your own choices, sweet pea? I think you need to make peace with the decisions you've made in your life, and then your siblings' behavior won't get under your skin so much.
Actually, scratch that. Your siblings' behavior will always get under your skin. I should know, I am a medical doctor. I suggest you fire back with some fashion advice, or perhaps a little guidance on how to raise their children, or how to listen to something other than Motown classics for once.
My advice is pretty schizophrenic, huh? It's as if I can't decide between open-mindedness as a means of dismissing you, or vengeful pettiness as a means of spiting your awful unquestioning siblings. It's all bad! Torn between two (bad) lovers!
Feelin' like a fool,