Posts Tagged ‘opinion’

An editorial: Time passes, and that’s a good thing

September 1, 2011

Today is the first day of September. Almost as much as New Year’s Day, it seems like a time for renewal and rebirth.

Kids are going back to school. The much-anticipated football season is right around the corner. Cooler weather gives us the energy to tackle projects that seemed too daunting during the hot days of summer.

As the leaves start showing their first blush of fall colors, we’re all reminded that time marches on, that the autumn of our lives is just around the corner, that nothing lasts forever. Vacation is over, and it’s time to head back to everyday life with renewed purpose and vigor.

The editorial board here at DavisW’s Blog goes on record today as being very much in favor of the progression of time.

It’s easy for us to forget how critical it is that there be a past, a present and a future. When things are good, we wish that time could stand still. When things are bad, we can’t wait till tomorrow. There’s a natural human tendency to regard the present as all-important, and thus the time we wish it always was.

But think about how awkward life would be if everything happened at the same time. You’d never get anything done. Instead of planning for retirement or for your children’s college education, you’d be wrestling with issues of serfdom, with the injustice of life under an all-powerful Extraterrestrial Overlord, with dinosaurs marauding through your garbage and futuristic robots knocking on your door, trying to sell you siding or new gutters or the benefits of a Mormon lifestyle.

It’s only because time passes gradually that we can put our lives in a logical, sequential order. Think how chaotic it would be for days and months and years to occur randomly. One day, it’s September 1, 2011; the next day it’s March 16, 1584; next, it’s the year 2525 (if Man is still alive).

Whether you think the universe was created in God’s image 6,000 years ago, or at the moment of a Big Bang some 13.7 billion years earlier than that, you’ve got to believe there was a beginning of time. And you’ve got to be glad you weren’t there. Who among us would want to be witnesses to the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, or the explosion of a primordial atom into a trillion stars? It would be awkward, or it would be loud, or possibly both.

And who wants to be around for the End Times? Though a few religious zealots might pray for the Rapture, the rest of us would find it awfully hard to schedule, what with Bobby’s soccer practice and Mom’s book club meeting and Dad’s dalliance with the neighbor lady. And, if instead of a Rapture it’s a collision between Earth and a rogue asteroid, how will that be any less convenient?

So let’s welcome the new month with enthusiasm. Let’s be glad that tomorrow will be September 2, and the day after that September 3. Let’s hope that the rest of September proceeds as logically as August did, and that when it comes time in four and a half weeks to flip the calendar page yet again, let’s hope that it’s October.

“Time keeps on slipping … slipping … slipping, into the future,” sang Steve Miller.

“Time passages,” added Al Stewart. “I know you’re in there, you’re just out of sight.”

“Yesterday,” noted the Beatles, “all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.”

Musicians don’t lie. Let us heed their call, and be thankful that it’s become later than it was when you first began reading this editorial.

Editorial: I’m a bad person

June 16, 2011

Much is currently being made over how wonderful I am.

Sunday is Father’s Day, and I expect the requisite adulation from my son and wife. I’m due to have my performance review at work any day now, and anticipate a hearty “meets expectations” in most categories.

Even those who don’t know me seem to cherish me. Citibank writes me a letter offering a low-interest credit card, calling me “Dear Davis.” The order taker at the Chick-fil-A drive-thru looks forward to seeing me at the window.

The truth of the matter, though, is that I suck. And not just when I’m using a straw.

I have done many, many bad things during my nearly 58 years, things that I’m certainly too ashamed of to mention in a semi-public forum like this blog, where as many as 50 or so people might see them.

I am a self-centered sociopath with little capacity for empathy. I have few friends, for obvious reasons. I am cynical beyond reason, and manipulative beyond belief. I lie, I covet. Of the seven deadly sins, I regularly practice at least six of them. I’d have a perfect score if I was certain what “sloth” was and agile enough to do it (I think it involves climbing slowly through the treetops).

Also, I’m pretty sure I frequently smell bad.

Though awful, I’m not as bad as a Hitler or a bin-Laden or an Anthony Weiner. I’ve never intentionally killed nor injured anybody, though that’s more out of a fear of being beaten up than any great respect I have for human life. I’ve never cheated on my wife. I am not now, nor do I plan to become, a candidate for the Republican nomination to be president of the United States. I’m not that horrible.

The few positive traits that I do exhibit do little to mitigate my repulsiveness. Most are more like skills than they are character traits:

  •  I can draw a map of the world freehand, including the islands of Madagascar, Taiwan and Sri Lanka. (I’m a little sketchy on the Indonesian archipelago, capable of a decent rendering of Java and Celebes but then I just trail off into dots for many of the lesser islands).
  • I’m double-jointed in the middle finger of my right hand, and can wiggle it in a bizarre fashion.
  • I’ve been certified as able to type at 100 words per minute with a 98% accuracy rate (Source: TyperShark).
  • I can take a nap and wake up at any predetermined time I like, without the help of an alarm clock.
  • I can fast-forward through commercials on TiVo recordings — on triple speed, mind you — and stop exactly at the beginning of a show’s next segment.
  • I can button a dress shirt faster than anyone I know.
  • I have a very large head (hat size: 9-1/8) which some studies have shown indicate a high level of intelligence, though most of those have now been debunked.

Not exactly qualities to make me a superhero or role model.

Still, I’m going to do my best to suppress my self-awareness deep, deep inside me this weekend where it can fester, rot and eventually turn into methane, which I can safely vent. (Oh yeah — I also have a problem with flatulence). Hopefully, this will allow me to enjoy a guilt-free summer Saturday and a wonderful Father’s Day.

Celebes (also called "Sulawesi")

An editorial: Is gravity still necessary?

December 16, 2010

Getting ready for work the other morning, I dropped a knife while mayonnaising my sandwich. Moments later, in the bathroom, I dropped my hairbrush.

Maybe I’ve got a mild case of Lou Gehrig’s Disease and will feel better by the weekend. Maybe I’m just getting a little old.

Or maybe — in these days when we’re re-considering dozens of other societal institutions — it’s time to revisit the value of gravity. Has this fundamental interaction of nature lost its appeal? Do we still want to live in a universe in which objects with mass attract one another? Or is it time to shop around for other systems of physics?

I’m suggesting that we look at this issue with fresh eyes, especially since it hurts my back to be bending over so much.

Gravity was invented in 1687 by Sir Isaac Newton, who famously watched an apple fall from a tree to the ground and thought, “Huh — that’s weird.” Before this invention, people and objects would just drift off into space with nothing to hold them Earth-bound. Jesus ascended into heaven. Moses got the Red Sea to rise up so the Jews could escape from the pharaoh. Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes were able to invade and defeat rival civilizations because they rode on flying horses.

After Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation was published, the world started to settle down. Modern economies were able to develop because shopkeepers could put goods on a shelf and they’d stay still. Western culture and civilization flourished, at least until 2008 and the collapse of the world financial system.

Now, as we question other once-dear fundamentals of life, perhaps it’s time to consider at least a partial revocation of Newton’s law.

I’m not proposing such a radical change as to allow people to be floating off into the sky, never to return (though that might be nice to contemplate for certain pop singers, maniacal dictators and the loud woman with the twangy accent who sits next to me at work). I’ll leave it for the Tea Partiers and other radical thinkers to contemplate what that kind of world would be like. I acknowledge that there’s a need for at least some gravity — just not as much as we have now.

Think of the problems that less gravity might be able to solve:

–Illegal immigration would be a thing of the past, since undocumented Mexicans wouldn’t actually be walking on the soil of the United States, but instead hovering several feet above it
–Traffic congestion in major cities would be dramatically improved, as long-dreamed-of rocket cars that sail through highways in the sky become a reality
–Overpopulation in the poor nations of Asia and Africa would be mitigated when it becomes possible for whole families to live on top of one another’s shoulders
–War-torn regions of the world would put aside their conflicts so they could concentrate on not running into helicopters
–Global warming would no longer be a concern, as large parts of our atmosphere dissipated into the voids of space
–The American obesity epidemic would disappear overnight, as people who once weighed thousands of pounds are able to log in at a trim 185 pounds
–Everybody would be hopping about like those brave Apollo astronauts romping on the moon’s surface back in the 1970s, lending an air of childlike joy to everyday life

Yes, I admit there would be some disadvantages. This holiday season’s hottest gift idea, the Fushigi Magic Gravity Ball now on sale at Walgreen’s for only $19.99, would no longer “mesmerize the mind and confuse the senses.” (Well, it might continue to confuse the senses as to why people ever considered spending almost twenty bucks on a simple silver ball.) Suction shoes would become the new sensation.

I recommend that the president set up a national commission to study whether the laws of gravity are something that Congress might want to consider repealing. I know partisan divides are quite stark these days; yet I strangely have faith that this is one issue where the right and left might agree.

All it would take is to track down Sir Isaac’s descendants and ask them to revoke their famous ancestor’s lifetime of study. Singer-songwriter Juice Newton, whose 1981 smash “Queen of Hearts” hit number one on both pop and country charts, still tours and can currently be found playing at the municipal auditorium in Missoula, Montana. Recent Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton of Auburn is busy in his Alabama dorm preparing for finals and the Jan. 10 BCS title game against second-ranked Oregon. I’m sure both would be amenable to refinements in the law that would give us all a good chuckle.

Let’s give reduced-gravity existence a try. We have nothing to lose, as long as we tie it all down.

An editorial: Jets shouldn’t explode or fall apart

November 5, 2010

Air travelers have come to expect a host of inconveniences and affronts as they fly around the globe. Security x-ray machines strip them naked. Airline counter clerks nickel-and-dime them with petty surcharges. On the plane itself, seating is tight, boredom is epidemic and that guy across the aisle is wearing a disturbing amount of facial hair and turbans.

But you would expect, at a minimum, not to be troubled by parts of the airplane falling off. Especially when you’re pretty sure you had to pay an extra $50 to upgrade to an intact plane.

Passengers aboard a Qantas flight from Singapore to Sydney were forced into an emergency landing Thursday after one of their Airbus A380’s engines experienced an “uncontained failure” and parts of it fell onto hapless Indonesians below. The plane landed safely and no one was injured.

Still, the incident represents what could be a new low in how travelers are being treated by the airline industry. Herded onto these new “super jumbo” jets that can seat close to a thousand people, passengers apparently now have to add aircraft disintegration to their list of concerns. This should not be.

“There has never been a fatal accident with this new generation of jetliners,” said Airbus spokesperson Justin Dubon of the A380s that have been in service for just over two years. “Therefore, it logically follows that there never will be one. We are studying this particular incident to see what kind of technical issues might be involved with similar aircraft, and how we can come up with a way to find that it was the passengers’ fault.”

It’s true that, in general, aviation safety has never been better. Millions of miles are flown each year without incident. Built-in redundancies all but guarantee that catastrophic mechanical failures will be kept to an absolute minimum. For example, a four-engine jet like the Qantas plane can still fly with only one engine functioning, though admittedly you’d be flying in circles.

What is usually the larger issue for the flying public are the minor annoyances that combine to make air travel a major hassle. Especially with long-haul transcontinental flights, passengers are faced with hours of boredom during which the highlight is having to climb over two sleeping fat ladies to go to the bathroom.

We applaud the efforts made by airlines like Qantas to make the in-flight experience more entertaining, with features like oxygen masks that contain scented gases and a closed-circuit network broadcasting movies, music, flight data and live video feeds of stuff falling off the plane.

But we don’t think a constructive way to fight tedium is by sending 433 passengers and a crew of 26 into a gut-wrenching panic with exploding jet engines.

“My whole body just went to jelly,” Tyler Wooster told Australia’s Nine Network. “We heard like a bang, like a shotgun going off, like a big loud gun.”

Even though most of the victims would’ve been Australian, we condemn the possibility that all aboard could’ve been killed in a fiery crash into the sea. The remote possibility that they might instead survive to spawn a gripping TV drama that incorporated time travel, flash-forward story lines and Evangeline Lilly in a sweaty T-shirt does little to mitigate what had the very real chance of becoming a major disaster.

The only thing we condone falling from the underbelly of a jetliner is flash-frozen excrement. Engines, wings, pieces of the fuselage and, most importantly, the confidence of the flying public that they’ll arrive safely at their intended destination, must remain a part of the airplane.

An editorial: Actually a bunch of really small ones

July 15, 2010

Just about every newspaper, from the monolithic New York Times to the local small-town shopper, seems to have an opinion page. Much of the space in that section is taken up with editorials, in which various news events are dissected, and the writer eventually comes out in favor of or opposed to something. Most of these are longer than they need to be, in a sad attempt to justify whatever opinion is being espoused.

In today’s fast-paced society, we have to get to the point more quickly than ever. Glaciers are melting, people are starving and celebrities are finding themselves in trouble. Editorialists need to wrap it up faster. Tell everybody what to do and how to feel, and move on already.

Today I’d like to introduce the concept of what I call the “mini-torial.” What follows represents my sentiments on a variety of topics, all of which you’d typically skip right past if they were long and boring. Since instead they’re short and snappy, you will read and heed my word.

  • There’s too much variety in the world. Have you been to the grocery store lately? There must be hundreds of different cereals to choose from. This is simply too many. Everything should be the same.
  • Bristol, Bristol, Bristol. You’re such a young girl. Do you realize what you’re doing? You’re not pregnant again, are you? Bristol?
  • Farewell, George Steinbrenner. It’s such a shame that people eventually have to die. We call for a moratorium on mortality.
  • Chinese characters are unnecessarily difficult to read. It looks like a typewriter got stuck in one place and all the letters just typed one on top of the other. Come on, China. Enter the twenty-first century. Start writing and speaking in English.
  • Professional car racing for sport represents such a huge waste of gasoline. Stop it.
  • BP should be ashamed of itself for allowing the gulf oil spill to go on this long. Wildlife is dying. Clean-up crews are getting hot and dirty and smelly. This is not how we’re supposed to spend a summer at the beach.
  • Apple announces it will have a major announcement about the iPhone 4. Just tell us already.
  • We’re looking forward to Tiger’s return to St. Andrews for this week’s British Open. We hope there’s a lot of exciting golf and not so much distracting chatter about his personal life. Isn’t it about time that we all started acting like grown-ups?
  • There’s no need for phone books anymore.
  • Those Hitler shenanigans got completely out of control. Someone should have stopped him back in the 1930s.
  • Things are looking increasingly bleak for our war effort in Afghanistan. Soon it will be winter and the Taliban will retreat even further into their caves. People are going to be catching some awful head colds.
  • It’s so easy to take oxygen for granted. It’s all around us, in the very air that we breathe. We call on Congress to establish a National Oxygen Appreciation Day, to honor this most precious of gases.
  • We need to jump start economic growth. This recession has gone on for far too long. There are people out there looking for jobs, and there just aren’t that many to choose from. If you know anyone who is hiring, could you mention my name?
  • The so-called obesity epidemic just means that a lot of people are fat. Since when is that news?
  • Congratulations, South Africa, on the success of the recently completed World Cup soccer tournament. Job well done. Let’s do it again some time.
  • Muslims in New York are planning to build a mosque right down the street from Ground Zero. If they have the traditional call to prayer five times a day, it’s going to be difficult to hear, what with the traffic noise and such.
  • Even though we didn’t usually agree with Dick Cheney’s politics, we wish him well as he recovers from major heart surgery. That can take a toll on anybody, especially someone his age.
  • It’s been six months since the terrible earthquake in Haiti, and there’s so little progress in that poorest of Caribbean nations. And now hurricane season has arrived. It’s just one thing after another with those people.
  • Twitter is enabling people to keep up with their friends like never before. This is a good thing in our increasingly hectic lives. We need to stay in touch. Let’s have lunch together some time.
  • LeBron James has forsaken his hometown of Cleveland for the bright lights and excitement of Miami. Let’s hope he realizes how hot it gets there in the summertime.
  • The Tea Party movement needs to stop being against things and start proposing some stuff. Nobody likes too much negativism. Couldn’t they at least say something nice about President Obama’s posture?
  • Happy Bastille Day to all the French! We’ll make no snide comments here about how they’re effete, weak, foul-smelling and cowardly. Instead, it’s a day to celebrate all things French — not just kisses, toast, fries and dressing, but the people too.

An Editorial: Shhhhh!

May 13, 2010

People of America, hear me: You need to be quiet.

There’s entirely too much idle chatter going on here. You have to simmer down and get back to work. You’re never going to make anything of yourself if you spend all day yacking with your friends.

What was good advice from our third-grade teacher is good advice today. People blather on incessantly about the most pointless topics, diverting much-needed attention from the advancement of Western Civilization. It’s no wonder we’re falling behind the rest of the world in so many areas. Being number one in telling stories about our dogs is not going to cut it when it comes to global competitiveness.

“How are you?”/”I’m fine, how are you?”

“How’s it going?”/”Oh, it’s going.”

“What’s happening?”/”Same ol’ same ol’.”

“How’s it hangin’?”/”Oh, it’s quite comfortably packaged in a cotton-blend brief.”

Will you please shut the hell up?

The editorial board here at DavisW’s Blog is anticipating a summer-long extravaganza of incessant yammering, and goes on record with this editorial as saying it doesn’t like the prospect one bit. We will not stand for endless stories about the cute blouse you almost bought, that back-handed catch in last night’s Mariners’ game, and those allergies that are going around right now. Anything short of you being hit by a meteor, spare us the details.

We’re proposing alternate forms of communication for some of the big events likely to be the most irritating in the months ahead.

At the Senate confirmation hearings for new Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, we’d like to see all parties agree to use exaggerated facial expressions rather than words to debate the merits of her qualifications. Supporters will be limited to broad smiles and wide-eyed nods. Those still on the fence can furrow their brows, narrow their eyes and peer over the rims of their glasses. Republicans can do like they always do, shake their heads no.

Nominee Kagan can make her case by the clothes she wears, the jewelry she rocks and the makeup she carefully applies. Regardless of what she does, she’ll still not compare to the woman we’d like to have appointed (see yesterday’s editorial, “Our Pick for High Court: Lost‘s Hottie Evangeline Lilly”). If Kagan wants to jump up and down or wave her arms wildly in the air to prove to the Judiciary Committee that she’ll be a strict constructionist, that’s fine.

In the entertainment world, let’s have a half-baked limited-run TV reality series in which contestants are locked in a house and not allowed to talk to each other. Only menacing stares, threatening glances, heavy sighs and chimp-like grunts are permitted. In the season finale, all participants will be allowed to file restraining orders against each other and lawsuits against the producers. Ensuing trials will be conducted using semaphore flags.

Sports analysts will not be allowed to discuss what’s the latest news on Tiger Woods. Instead, they can only employ the pantomime conventions of the parlor game “Charades.” Viewers will tweet in their guesses until the entire commentary is revealed. “Bulging something, right? Bulging dick. Bulging disc. BULGING DISC!”

And of course, it goes without saying that our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends and our associates will keep their heads down, mind their own business, and clam up, for Christ’s sake. Use your mouth for eating hot dogs and catching fireflies on your tongue, just as our ancestors did in summers gone by. Otherwise, keep your yap shut.

This is our decree. Heed our word.