Thursday, May 31, 2007

You Can Buy Land On The Moon!

This evening, Son, wriggling into his spiderman pyjamas in preparation for Dinosaurs and Dr. Seuss, voice muffled by the corner of his Winnie-the-Pooh binkie, spake unto me: "Daddy, I want to sleep in your bed".

This of course was uttered in the indescribable whine that only the parents of a two-to-five-year-old can come close to appreciating. Half of you know exactly what I mean. The other half have no fucking clue. Really. You think you know, but you really don't. Trust me.

A perverse compulsion, no doubt supernatural in origin, came over me, and I could not restrain myself. "Why?" I asked. Son gave me The Look. This was a look that seemed to say "What the hell kind of idiot are you?" He learned this look from his mother.

Too polite to express his low esteem of my intellectual gifts, the conversation proceeded thusly:

Self: Why do you want to sleep in our bed?
Son: Because I love it.
Self: But why don't you want to sleep in your own bed?
Son: Because I want to sleep in yours.
Self: But why? You have a very nice bed.
Son: But. But. But. I don't want to sleep in mine.
Self: What's wrong with it?
Son: I want to sleep in yoouuuurrrrs..

So of course I caved. I mean, really, who has the time? This, to me, represented a perfect tautology. Ayn Rand would be proud. A is A. Son, going on four years of age, has not yet learned the necessary skill of self-justification. He wants to sleep in my bed because that's what I fucking want! Why do I need a reason?

Prima facie, this phenomena seems confined to children and the insane, which would seem to indicate that the behavior that governs justification, or motivational invention, is either a learned behavior, or, if innate, is encoded in neural structures that, by age five, are not yet mature enough to allow the kind of profound self-deception the rest of us take for granted.

An adult, considering a change in venue for the evening, might concoct any number of inanities -- "Because the front room is quieter, darker, cooler, warmer, has better feng shui", whatever -- and convince themselves of that very proposition. This is not technically a lie, the master bedroom may possess any one of these many fine qualities and more, but the fundamental pre-linguistic, pre-justified motivation, rarely examined, is simple: I want it.

It's a funny old thing, the brain.

And on the subject of completely unjustifiable desire: I received spam the other day that suggested in bold type that it is now possible to -- I'm not kidding here -- buy land on the moon. Yes, you too can own a piece of our nearest celestial neighbor. Real estate speculators are apparently snatching up this valuable acreage in a land-grab that rivals that of the 1849 California Gold Rush.

This communique seemed sent from God himself, and spoke directly to the Sci-Fi centers of my brain.

As you may have guessed by now, I'm not really an expert in anything, and real estate is no exception, but as I put pen to paper to apply for the necessary mortgage, I seemed to recall some trite pearl of wisdom identifying the three cardinal rules of real estate as "location, location, location". Too, common sense tells me that one good reason to own land, aside from raising puppies or medicinal marijuana, is to build something on it.

These two basic tenets seem to diverge somewhat from the concept of buying land that's four hundred thousand kilometers from the nearest flush toilet, let alone schools, shops, and businesses.

I mean, think of the commute.

And so, common sense has weighed in, and I am swayed by it's persuasive arguments and feminine charms. Against the express wishes of co-workers and neighbors, I shan't be moving to the moon any time soon.

There are those, however, for whom proprietorship of a slice of the Mare Tranquillitas holds an irresistible allure. To such a visionary, I would wish the best of luck and ask that, fifty years from now, as they relax on the porch swing of their lunar retirement cottage, sipping their lunar lemonade and watching the earth choke to death on smog, drown in the "globally warmed" ice caps, and blog about American Idol, they try not to rub it in our faces too much.

Visionaries: click here. Realists: Have another drink.

I Find Your Lack of Faith... Disturbing.

I know this has been blogged to death already, but Holy F-ing S---. That's cool, in a totally creepy kind of way.

Is it too early to start referring to Google as "Big Brother"?

...Too late?

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously

The title is a Chomsky gem. A sentence which, while grammatically correct, makes no sense whatsoever (remind you of anything?).

Related: Other languages don't have spelling bees, because they would be too simple. They hold grammar bees, though (cadavre exquis, anyone?). The Boxer is a grammar fiend. She subscribes to a grammar magazine, is a member of a grammar Facebook group. They have tee shirts. God-damn, I hope she never reads this.

In Other News That I'm Not Even Remotely Qualified To Comment On:

Liberals: Tax cuts for everyone!
PQ: Wait, let's use the money to fund health care instead!
Public: Um. Yay!
Liberals & PQ: We disagree! Time for an election!
Public: wtf?
ADQ: Yay!

"The duty of an opposition is very simple: to oppose everything, and propose nothing" -- The Earl of Derby, British Prime Minister

This adage in mind, the newly-captained PQ appear to be performing their duty admirably. Dumont has to be smarting that the ADQ's best chance at winning an election has come and gone. It is, after all, unlikely that the PQ will soon put another straw man in the captain's chair whose unpopularity could ever approach that of Boisclair, the coke-snorting homosexual.

Let's take a moment here...

I mean, they had to figure that the portion of their voter demographic that would not be alienated by Boisclair's homosexuality (and let me assure you that this is not my personal sticking point), would likely fall to his admitted cocaine use. I mean a simple Venn diagram, a technique imparted to third-graders, could have saved them.

By spinning their budgetary objections as a health-care issue, the PQ have set the stage for a potential victory in a snap election. The only chance the Liberals have to conserve power (albeit in name only), is to come to some agreement.

Honestly, it's a win-win. Either we get tax breaks, or we get better health care. My vote? Tax Break. Here's why:

Quebec has a fairly high tax rate. The old chestnut that we are the highest-taxed nation in the western hemisphere, while not strictly true, certainly corresponds to citizen's feelings on the subject. It hurts. quite a bit.

Quebec's health care system is in need of, if not an overhaul, then at least some major financial shoring-up. On this topic you will hear no disagreement from me. However history has shown us that government spending is as leaky as Montreal's wooden plumbing. My bet is that a three-hundred million injection to the health care budget won't see a lot of improvement on the ground.

Sure, the PQ can walk away saying "Look what we did: We just gave you 300 million dollars! We're heroes!", but what the average shmuck - lying for nineteen hours on the floor of a hallway in Montreal's Royal Vic hospital, for lack of a stretcher, before seeing a doctor - wants to know is: will this reduce waiting times? Will I be able to find a family doctor now? Will I still have to wait in line for six months for an MRI scan to diagnose my tumor? Can I get a fucking bed, or a stretcher, or a chair, or something?

In case you hadn't noticed, I don't know squat about politics. It is that most base profession, vocation of swindlers, sheisters and lawyers that aren't attractive enough for more conventional forms of prostitution. Idealists, believers of a political stripe, such as the Boxer or Delrin, are reserved a special kind of pity (that I'm sure is mutual).

"You poor saps, can't you see it doesn't matter who you vote for, they're going to take your vote, suck some corporate dick for kickbacks, and leave in four years?", I will say, to which the true-believer will respond: "It is your duty, your responsibility, your privilege to vote, to have your voice heard in the public forum, to affect history!". The true-believer will invoke the ghosts of soldiers dead in various wars, who arguably gave their life for my right to contribute in some small, meaningful way to the nation's political destiny.

I mean what do you say to that? I usually just look at the floor and mumble sheepishly.

They will discuss politics over lunch, have their picture taken with their favorite politician. They will volunteer. They will (shudder) make me care.

Truly, there is no worse fate.

From A Quiet Place

Son looks at me
and I love him.

Wife waits for me
and I love her.

You don't speak to me
don't see me
don't know me
and I love you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pissing in the Stream of Consciousness

And so it begins anew. Except it's not really new, and it's not beginning. Forever, since before the word "blog" even existed, back in the days of slashdot and kuro5hin, I've excreted more blogs -- Not blog posts, mind you, but individual blogs -- than I can count. A chronic serial blogger, I would start one, make one or two inconsequential posts, then, spent from the sisyphean effort of self-expression in a medium that seems hewn from a solid block of undifferentiated navel-gazing, I would slouch off into the dark, sunless oort cloud at the periphery of the blog-o-verse, or blogger-system, or blog-space, or whatever meaningless term is most recently employed, to mull and think, and prepare my next post, thoughts skating across the empty ocean of my mind with the speed of continental drift.

The word "blog" itself is distasteful to me on an almost instinctual level. The onomatopoeia of "blog" suggests some regurgitative therapy, perhaps as the culmination of an evening spent doing things one will regret the next day. The parallels here are obvious. One: vomiting. To observe a small sample of available "blogs" is to assault the sensorium with the sour odor of pre-digested content. Ideas once teeming with nutritional value now lay curdled and bubbling before you, full of all the promise of a pavement pizza after an evening of serious drinking (that is to say: none at all).

And really, mostly, at least for me, and as with most things in life, with the possible exception of run-on sentences, blogging involves regret. "I wish I hadn't written that", I will say, or "I wish I had written that witty thing before this other dude wrote it", or "I wish I hadn't plagiarized that one girl whose blog, it turns out, is much more widely read than I had anticipated".

So why the hell am I blogging, one might ask, and to such a one, to whom I would normally thumb my nose, or bite my thumb, or hoot derisively, or whatever it is the kids are doing these days, I will instead extend the temporary grace of my ephemeral and fleeting good humor, and respond "It's all her fault."

An ex-co-worker (the grammatically astute among you are welcome to silently criticize the over-use-of-hyphens), the poet pugilist has ever been an inspiration to me. Braver, kinder, smarter, funnier, more earnest, more cheerful, more honest, more deserving-of-unconditional-praise a person you can never hope to find. In the words of John the Baptist, I am not worthy to loose the thong upon her sandals. Her blog is the rare exception to the rule, the subtle edelweiss that blooms in the shade of that mountain of shit that is the blog-mass. She rises above the blogger lumpenproletariat, and makes me want to be a better person.

...But perhaps I gush.

Superlatives aside, Leila really is a brick of a gal (the first in a series of intriguing and charming characters who pass, underappreciated, through my life, and to whom I hope to introduce you in the course of this intermittent verbal diarrhea), for whom I must confess a slight hero-worship.

She blogs, and therefore must I blog. Blogito ergo sum. I will not, however, I refuse, to use those goddamn e.e. cummings headlines. Ew.

As an aside, and on the subject of Descartes, one finds philosophical depth in the strangest of places...

It is verbose, it is pretentious, it will use big, unnecessary words and complicated grammar, and at times there will be cussing. It will be a journey from unpolished pretension and blatant sesquipedalianism to a hopefully more streamlined, hemingwayesque paradigm.

Paradigm, by the way, is another word that makes me want to vomit. I am comforted by the thought that I'm not alone in this.

So desu ka? To the title of this little literary turd: "Nacho Niche". It's really a reference to my current work environment, in the context of which I am regularly exposed to many pearls of marketing wisdom involving "niches", "long tails", and "the box" (getting outside it, getting back in it, throwing it out, decorating it, maybe adding some nice plants, etc.), combined with an extremely childish (and possibly racially insensitive) joke, the punchline to which is "That's Nacho Cheese! That's Nacho Cheese!".

So yeah, this ain't my niche. I don't blog. And when I do it's fucking unreadable, but if you've made it this far, next post will be better, I promise.

Tomorrow: A poem! My first poem in twenty years! Of questionable nutritional value, but delicious nonetheless. The McDonald's of poetry. Empty calories for all!

(See what I did there? I dangled the enticing "carrot", a promise of improvement, then whipped it away and smacked you with the "stick", a threat of imminent poetry. It was an experiment. I promise not to do it again.)