If you Google “Paris Hilton Jail” you’ll get 15 million hits. If you Google “Downing Street Memo” you’ll get only 800,000 hits. A terrifying real-world topic, “Greenland ice sheet,” will only return 900,000 hits. I suppose it’s because there are no videos of memos or glaciers having sex.
What brought me to the topic of Paris Hilton (other than my world salad mood) might be my fascination with how folks use Google. It astounds me whenever I notice the sexually graphic search strings that bring some people to this site. I don’t know who you are (the feds know who you are, but I don’t). Website traffic software, however, allows me to view your search queries if you click on a Google result that brings you to this site. Lots of kinky stuff. I hope those of you who stumble onto this site in that manner won’t be disappointed, even though you really won’t find the kinds of things for which you are apparently looking. I’m not trying to be preachy, but maybe you can afford to take a break from all that stuff, at least once in a while, and come to this website on purpose.
I really don’t know anything about Paris Hilton, other than that she is famous because of a sex video and that she is otherwise famous because she is famous. Those millions of Google hits (the jail episode involves merely one small slice of her life) really speak to the power of vapid celebrity. But this is a word salad post, so I am at liberty to move on to discuss the next thing that comes to my mind.
After work, I commute home past a stadium where the St. Louis Cardinal Baseball team plays. I often do wonder whether baseball fans are more out of shape than football fans or basketball fans. Here’s a thought experiment I’ve never run because I don’t want a broken jaw: Try greeting every single fan who comes through the baseball stadium turnstiles by saying, “You need to lose 25 pounds. You would be correct 60%of the time. If anyone want to run this experiment, I’ll be happy to watch.
People often excel at what they do most often. If people sit, eat and watch athletes that mostly stand and spit, that has real-life consequences. Fans who engage in this activity much of the time really get good at sitting, eating and watching. Ironically, in my experience, most fans don’t actually pay attention to the baseball game even after paying lots of money for a ticket to get into the stadium. It must be all of those distracting advertising posters and videos, I assume.
Now don’t get all bent out of shape. Professional baseball athletes are capable of doing many things I will never be able to do. They are exquisitely skilled. But here’s the irony: most professional baseball players don’t exercise much during the competition. Only when it’s “time out” do they get busy taking practice swings, taking ground balls, stretching, running sprints and coming in and out of the dugout. When it’s time in, however, there really aren’t many calories burned on the field. Just stare at the outfields and all of those guys sitting in the dugout and you’ll see that I’m correct.
There can’t be much debate on this lack of exercise issue. But now, answer this: Playing what sport will burn the fewest calories? Baseball loses hands down. No question. Therefore, we sign up our kids to play soccer and basketball over tee-ball, right? Not in this town. We can’t wait to take our kids out to a baseball diamond to get very little exercise, well before their little muscles can even function well enough to make a match meaningful. That doesn’t matter to the parents, who come to cheer the kids on. Human beings are great creators of meaning.
Uh-oh. Another transition. Damn that National Geographic! The June 2007 issue features “The Big Thaw.” There are too many dramatic photos of water flushing down and out of Greenland at an incredible rate. The message is clear: If we don’t do something drastic, “the ice will likely disappear.” The only polar bears will live in zoos, just like it already is for tigers and many other endangered animals. The photos and statistics are numbing (see pp. 56 – 71). Go look, if you dare. As I was reading this depressing news about global warming, at least for a few seconds, I felt like a Republican. I was irritated that all of those uppity scientists and writers were telling me devastating things that won’t stop unless all of us dramatically change our lifestyles. That must be what Republicans feel when they decide that it’s easier to deny than to do something meaningful about a problem. All of this environmental damage is going on under the watch the most powerful man in the world, yet he doesn’t give a crap. Well, actually, he does care enough to allow his minions to falsify scientific reports to assure us that everything is OK. Lots of people voted for him, because they like that approach.
Voting? That topic reminds me of a haunting letter to the New York Times Magazine (June 10, 2007): “Today’s manipulation of the uninformed and illogical voting public by puerile ‘sound bites’ and bumper stickers has gotten us into lots of trouble.” What do we do about our big problems? We elect people who make us feel good about not doing anything at all. Nonetheless, many people still claim that that our voting system is a system that has proven its worth. It’s better than any other voting system in the world. There’s no need to actually make a factual comparison. We just know it.
But let me bring this full circle, in a word salad sort of way. Yes, all of us do like to watch videos. We especially love underdogs. Would you like to watch the opposite of Paris Hilton? If you’ve seen this video of Paul Potts before, you’ll thank me. If you’ve never before seen this video, you’ll really thank me. May this be a complete antidote to my frustration and cynicism . . .