Macho News

Well, here we are — still locked in a struggle with … Okay, let’s not bore each other with the details.  None of us can escape Doom Scrolling these days.   Personally, I find the numbers have gotten so big I quit trying to comprehend them — back in September.  However, I’m still planning the party for when we finally strangle the life out of this wicked little virus.  And the first toast is going to go to anyone in the medical profession.

But, despite our current global predicament, apparently no invisible bug can put a stop to macho, that strange phenom that turns normally reasonable people into WWE wrestlers.  But in the real world, they’re half as comical and twice as crazy.  Here are a couple of examples from the current news feed.

1 – For some unknown reason, they’re shooting at each other in some place I can’t pronounce in Central Asia.  Call me a cynic, but when Google’s Auto-correct can’t even find the place, there can’t be that much there to fight over.  Folks, look around you!  The world has problems, and who owns which bit of real estate 100 kilometres south of Tbilisi isn’t one of them.  Mother Nature is killing enough people on her own these days.  You don’t need to add to the carnage!

2 — There are a couple of games of “You-did-not/I-did-so” going on.
The American media reported somebody (read “the Israelis”) killed Al-Qaeda’s #2 man in Tehran.  The Iranians are saying, “No, they didn’t.” But, strangely enough, Abu – uh – (I don’t actually care what his name is) hasn’t showed up for his Suicide Bomber classes since August.  (You decide!)
Meanwhile, allegedly, the Chinese military used microwaves to literally cook the Indian army out of a disputed border area in the Himalayas.  The Indian government says, “No, they didn’t.”  But, given what we’ve recently discovered about Chinese culinary traditions, I wouldn’t be too quick to poo-poo the idea.

3 — In America, they’ve whipped out the lawyers to keep fighting the presidential election that was over several Tuesdays ago.  I’m not surprised: litigation is as American as baseball.  But given the various and sundry lawsuits circling the White House, this is rapidly turning into a 21st century rendition of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?”

And finally:

4 — The folks at Big Pharma are acting like a bunch of schoolboys.  First of all, last week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced their Covid-19 vaccine was 90% effective.  Right after that, Moderna said “Oh, yeah?  Well, our vaccine is 95% effective!”  Then, right after that, Pfizer and BioNTech told everybody their vaccine was 95% effective, too, with no measurable side effects.  Not to be outdone, this week, the researchers at Oxford jumped into the fray and said their vaccine was almost 100% effective for old people.

Hey!  Just stop it!  Instead of dickin’ around, playing my-vaccine-can-beat-up-your-vaccine, how about getting it on the market?   There are 7.8 billion people on this planet who’ve been holding their breath since March, waiting on you.  I mean, thanks and all that, but really!

Pigeons And The “New Normal”

These days, everybody and his sister is yipping about “The New Normal” as if it were as inevitable as death and taxes.  The predictions run the gambit from “We’re all screwed!” to “The light at the end of the tunnel is utopia calling.”  Okay, we’re never going back to pre-Covid, but, I’m tellin’ you for a fact, our world’s “old normal” has just way too much in-your-face ego to give up without a fight.  We walk this planet with the swagger of a samurai gunfighter with a chip on his shoulder.  We do as we please, and no wiggly little bug is going to change that.  Even as we speak, Big Pharma is callin’ Covid out to finish this fight in the laboratory, and take a wild guess who’s going to win?  Boot Hill is full of tough little bastard diseases (cholera, typhus, bubonic plague) who thought they could ambush us and come out on top.  Wrong!  So, yeah, things are going to change but not that much — and I can prove it.

Next week, in the middle of the worst crisis in human history, there’s going to be an auction at Versailles.  You remember Versailles, Louis XIV’s 700-room testimonial to the success and excess of 17th century French culture?  One of the items up for sale is a shoe (one shoe, not a pair) and the reserve bid is 10,000 Euros.  For a shoe?  Okay, it’s Marie Antoinette’s shoe … but there’s only one, and it isn’t even signed.  At least when Michael Jordan sells his shoes, he signs them — and they come in pairs.  Anyway, Jean-Pierre Osenat, the guy running the auction, is confident the shoe will sell for a lot more than the opening bid.  In other words, crisis or no, our world still has the time and money to pay exorbitant amounts for second-hand clothing.  But this isn’t even special because …

Last week, the Pipa Auction House of Belgium also had a sale.  It went quite well.  In fact, they set a record.  Somebody paid 2.4 million dollars for … a pigeon.  WTF?  To be fair, “New Kim” isn’t your average poop-on-a-park-bench pigeon; she’s a pedigreed racing pigeon.  Apparently, there’s a difference.  Now, I don’t know anything about pigeon racing, but I do know how much 2.4 million dollars is, and for that kind of money, this little bird better be one kick-ass fast pigeon!  She better be Usain Bolt strapped to an F-14 turbocharged Tomcat — cuz if she doesn’t come with a sonic boom, somebody just got robbed.  People don’t pay that kind of money for a Lamborghini, for God sake — and that’s 0-to-60 in 3 seconds!  Besides, where’s the prestige?  Pigeon racing?  It’s not exactly the Sport of Kings.  Hobby of the Urban Geek maybe, but …

“Hey, baby!  Wanna come back to my place and I’ll show you my pigeon?  It’s a really fast one.”

Not the greatest pickup line in the world.  I guess pigeon owners are just dedicated to the “sport,” and they don’t care what ordinary people do (kinda like Hula Hoop enthusiasts.)  But whichever way you cut that sausage, 2.4 million is a lot of money.

So here we are — elbow deep in what everybody’s calling “The Second Wave” — (Holy hell!  Is there going to be a third one?) and somebody out there is about to plunk down serious coin for a worn out bit of footwear.  Not only that, but somebody else has already paid seven figures for less than 7 pounds (3 kilos) of poultry.

I don’t know about you, but this “new normal” looks suspiciously like the “old normal” to me.

The Pursuit Of Cool

The world is built on “cool.”  And, deny it if you want to, we all have an uncontrollable urge to pursue it.  It’s like hungry, horny and getting enough to drink – hydration: we need it to live.  That’s why everybody’s teenage years were so godawful.  Not only were we being pistol-whipped by our hormones, but every time we turned around, Susan and Dave, the “cool” kids, were standing there.  They had bodies by Mattel and clothes by Yves St. Laurent.  They knew exactly what to say on every occasion, never had an unfortunate zit and certainly never felt the need to fart.  In a word, they were cool.  Of course, we knew we would be way cooler if only we had the opportunity, but mostly we cursed our fate for being born incurable nerds.

As adults, we pursue “cool” in more subtle and sophisticated ways — what we eat, what we sit on, how we get around, what we watch on TV, even the way we speak.  (Slang is a very refined bit of “cool.”)  Plus, we convince ourselves that “cool” doesn’t matter (we’ve outgrown it) because one of the essential elements of being “cool” is … you don’t care about it.  And there’s a whole it’s-hip-to-be-square industry that’s grown up around that.  But regardless of how we chase it, “cool” is always out there.  It’s the way we define ourselves in relation to every other person on the planet.  And like it or not, some people are better at it than the rest of us.  It even extends beyond the grave.

For example, Hunter S. Thompson, the King of Gonzo Journalism had his ashes shot out of a cannon.  His buddy, Johnny Depp, did the shooting (this was back when Johnny was still “cool”) and Jack Nicholson, John Cusack, Bill Murray, John Kerry, Ed Bradley, etc., etc. all showed up to wish Hunter S. well on his final journey.  Personally, I think with that much “cool” standing around the cannon, they probably didn’t even have to light the fuse – it just spontaneously burst into flame.

Meanwhile, Gene Roddenberry, the guy who created Star Trek, had his ashes taken into space on the Space Shuttle – kind of a “There and Back” posthumous adventure.  He also had some of his ashes (along with Timothy Leary’s and a bunch of other guys’) shot into orbit aboard a Pegasus XL rocket.  Unfortunately, after several years, the orbit deteriorated and the capsule disintegrated when it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.  But talk about totally cool — especially since the whole Star Trek phenom — from Jim Kirk to the latest Picard — is the ultimate sci-fi travelogue for nerds.  Star Trek has never been “cool” beyond its geek niche, but clearly Roddenberry is.

However, the best nerd-to-“cool” tale ever told is that of Eugene Shoemaker.  Here was a guy with a Thomas Dewey moustache and a personality to match.  He loved rocks — and not just any rocks: he was an astrogeologist.  (I don’t even know what those people do.)  Anyway, he was so good at it that, when he died, his colleagues convinced NASA to put his ashes on the Lunar Prospector, a capsule designed to crash on the Moon.  On July 31, 1999, it did just that — with a special polycarbonate “urn” containing Shoemaker.  So Eugene is the first human being buried on the Moon.  How “cool” is that?  Too “cool!”  (Eat your heart out, Clooney!)

So when all those people are putting on the brag about their “cool” walking tour of Greenland, or their “cool” new Nespresso machine, or their eco-friendly bicycle with heated seat and handlebars – remember: they might think they’re “cool” (just like Susan and Dave did in high school) but they’re never going to be buried-on-the-Moon “cool.”  That’s reserved for nerds like us.