Things People Care About, That I Don’t.

Anything pertaining to Football. I haven’t watched a game all year. That’s been the case for a number of years, really. Football used to be an entertaining sport before every part of it got dissected like a pregnant frog for television, to be jabbered about by half-wits in ugly suits. The Super Bowl is a social event, really, just an excuse to judge commercial aesthetics, eat pub food, and moan about the half-time show.

Celebrities with Covid. Oh, no, not Larry King, the guy who’s interviews I’ve never watched! What will become of us if I’m not able to have warm feeling about him? If he dies, I just, I just won’t know how I can go on…
I get it. He’s an old man and he’s sick. So let me state for the record that my earnest hope is that he makes a full recovery, so I can be surprised by his continued earthly existence sometime next year. But I’m not related to him, he’s not my friend, I’m not even that familiar with his work. He’s just some guy completely memed by the media into Special Status.

Really, any celebrities. They’re just… not that interesting, as people. What you think you know about them is marketing fluff designed to prime you to consume their next product. I know that sounds communist, but I don’t mean it that way. Consume whatever you want. Just don’t care about the producers. They don’t care about you.

2021. This thing that we do where we treat years like sentient entities was already tired at the end of 2016, and has gotten worse with every subsequent year. Last year was the meme becoming self-aware and launching its missiles at the Russians (that’s a Terminator 2 reference, kids). 2020 didn’t do anything to you, a virus and the government did. Guess what? They still are. Covid doesn’t care that the calendar flipped. The year will be what it is.

A Short List of Things I Do Not Care About

smokin' JayWilliam Burroughs used to write, back in the jet-age 60’s, about starting a riot with a tape recorder. You ask some people their opinion of a different group, and record their responses, then take them to members of that group, and ask what they think of it, and record their responses, then take them back to the first group, etc., etc.

Social Media is that tape recorder. It’s also the riot.

So here’s a list of things going on in the Riot, that I am shrugging my shoulders on:

  1. John McCain. I voted for McCain in the primaries against George W. Bush in 2000. I voted for him against Obama in 2008. He was good enough for my approval then, and I’m not suddenly going to decide that he’s the Enemy because he didn’t like Trump. I didn’t vote for Trump, so I’m not going to do that.

    But I also don’t care that he’s dead. He was old, and sick. That happens. He lived a full life. His family can mourn him. He wasn’t a hero to me; he was just a politician. I have nothing to say about that political circus that was his funeral other than “McCain finally became the Media’s favorite kind of Republican: Dead.”

    I expect we’ll get the same when George H.W. Bush finally dies, a lamentation for the Old Good Kind of Republicans, who are totes magotes different from the New Evil Scary Kind (never mind that Bush was the New Evil Scary Kind back when he was actually President. We have always been at war with Eastasia). But George W. probably won’t, because he’ll live too long to be useful against Trump. They’ll probably feel authorized to give him Hunter Thompson’s Nixon sendoff.

    Or not. I don’t care. Here’s the only sensible thing I’ve read about John McCain in the last week.

  2. Anything pertaining to the NFL. The NFL lost me permanently last year when it decided to become a political organization, in which one kind of Cheap Political Theater was acceptable and one kind not. Overpaid Jockulas braining each other for millions acting like Bold Martyrs of Truth? Whatever. But allowing that and fining a guy for wearing 9/11 memorial socks? That means you’re a political organization, and not my kind. So I don’t care who wins the Super Bowl, and I don’t care what teams do what. None of them are my heroes, and if the sport dies tomorrow and everyone plays soccer instead, I will nod bemusedly and then go back to playing Crusader Kings 2.

    By the same token, I don’t care about Colin Kaepernick. I don’t hate the guy. I don’t know if he really means what he’s said, if it was all an act for attention, or if he just zoned out on mushrooms and then felt like he had to commit to the bit. I don’t care that Nike made him their poster boy, and I don’t care that people have decided to burn perfectly good shoes in protest of this. Everything is political now, so this is the sort of thing that’s going to happen. Your shoes are political. Your car is political. Your fast food is political, as are farm-to-table restaurants in Lexington, VA (and the smoking holes left of them). Ill-thought actions, meet foreseeable results. Have fun yelling at each other over it.

  3. Whatever Stupid Movie They’re Rebooting Now. You know, that one? The one that comes from the pre-internet age, the last era with shared cultural touchstones? The one that’s going to be ruined by adding/removing X? I don’t care. It’s going to be boring, I’m not going to see it. I would say Hollywood hit Peak Cultural Ouroboros with Ready Player One, but that would imply that I didn’t think they could crawl up their own rear ends any further, and I’m not prepared to make that claim. It would also imply that I cared enough to actually watch it. And I do not.

    All of which means, the only way I’d probably end up watching an episode of Jack Ryan is if I fall asleep binging The Man in the High Castle. The only really good Jack Ryan movie was Hunt for Red October.

  4. Whatever Celebrity X is Doing. Pick one. Taylor Swift. Brad Paisley. That Guy who was in That Thing. Sarah “I Slummed America So You Don’t Have To” Silverman. Whatever Late-Night Mouth of Sauron who said That Thing that people are all OH NO YOU DIDN’T and I CANNOT EVEN about. Or whatever YouTube personality fell afoul of MiniTruth and got unpersoned (I might care about that last one slightly, because it’s creepy).
  5. Brett Kavanaugh. Dude is going to get confirmed. It’s going to happen. And then he’s going to reduce everyone to Handmaids and eat babies. Just like immediately happened when Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas were confirmed. Because it’s not like Roe vs. Wade has been UNDER THREAT for the last 30 years, and is somehow still on the books, or anything. You know, kind of how Donald Trump can’t throw all the Muslims out of America, because George W. Bush already did that, and anyway we all died in the atomic wars that Reagan started.

    Enjoy the Kabuki.

Getting Around the Nerd Behavior Paradigm

Cracked has a good article (how many blog posts have started with those five words, I wonder?) about how awful nerds/geeks are as human beings. Read the whole thing, obviously, but in brief:

  1. We Feel Like We’re Owed Our Favorite Things … Forever
  2. We Secretly Hope Our Favorite Artists Aren’t Successful
  3. We Think We Have to Protect Our Favorite Stuff from Outsiders
  4. We Think Our Knowledge Makes Us Important

Why are we this way? For the same reason otherwise sane people engage in borderline (or even non-borderline) criminal behavior over sports games: because of a tribal need to exercise dominance. The modern world gives us opportunity to do so over trivial matters.

And while it’s bound to be something of a similar behavior for me to say this, but I work very hard at not doing this. Actually, I don’t work that hard, because I tend to find such things…well, boring. Baseball is interesting, and gets more interesting as I get older. Talking about baseball? Boring as hell. Football is fun to watch. A bunch of dimwits in purple ties talking about football? Not so much.

stupidsportscasters

So that’s why I’ve made a consistent effort to tone down my opinions on inconsequential matters. Take, for example, the Kings of Leon. I liked them when they first came out, and their first three albums are pretty solid. Since then, they’ve gone a more radio-ready style, and I just haven’t been feeling it. My wife, on the other hand, loves the arena-rock boomers of their fourth album, and now I only buy those records for her.

What does this mean? Does it mean that my wife hates good music? That she doesn’t know when a band has sold out? No. It just means that she likes different stuff than I do.

So I find the solution to this kind of petty childishness is a healthy does of indifference. Indifference gets a bad rap these days, with some declaring it the opposite of love and worse than hate. And in one sense, that’s true. But it’s an act of pure fantasy to pretend that you can have a considered, thoughtful opinion about everyone and everything. It’s simply not possible.

When I was in my 20’s, I had lots of opinions, and most of them were emotionally-driven, snarky prejudices dressed up in common rhetoric. Back then I found the whole idea of Harry Potter offensive. Why anyone would feel compelled to rush out and buy a series of stories in which a teenage wizard confronts enemies with teenage wizardry was not just a mystery, but a condemnation of popular culture. I laughed at all these idjits going all Black Friday over the literary equivalent of a Beanie Baby.

Now, I still haven’t read them, because the central premise — teenage wizardry — still doesn’t interest me. But that’s just me. Other people — most people, in fact — love these stories with a deep and abiding passion. I am told they are well-written. So, I assume that I’m one of the outliers here, and say Peace Be Upon the Potterheads, and I hope the next Rowling book wins a Pulitzer.

Saying that costs me nothing and doesn’t entail a commitment to spend my time reading or doing anything I don’t want to. It’s all a free world, and a candle loses nothing of its light by lighting another candle, and I’m better than yoooooooouuuuu…

What?