Popular Culture — Temporary Truth

pop culture

Pop culture is to culture what water is to granite: write your name in water and see how long it lasts.  But, eventually, even the mightiest carved granite tablet will be worn away by rivers of water.  Pop culture might be trivial and easily forgotten (I’m looking at you, Beanie Babies) but while it hangs around, it can change the way we think.  For example, for 99% of human history, a person had to work hard to be universally hated – mass murder usually did the trick.  Enter the Internet.  These days, all anyone has to do is disagree with Twitter once too often and they’ll find themselves on the business end of a Cybermob, howling for their blood.  Here are just a few other examples of how Pop Culture has changed our perceptions.  There are many, many more.

Look what happened to clowns!  Back in the day, clowns were fun.  They were colourful.  They were silly.  They had big feet and made balloon animals.  They hosted TV programs and were everybody’s first choice for their child’s birthday party.  They even advertised fast food.  Then, in 1986, along came Stephen King.  BAM!  Suddenly, clowns became evil.  And not just regular evil, either — eat-your-eyeballs evil!  Now, everybody’s afraid of clowns as if humans have always had a deep, primeval fear of painted faces.  We even have one of those meaningless psychobabble names for it – coulrophobia.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, vampires were created to scare the hell outta people.  They were the creatures whose very existence broke the laws of God and nature.  They were the secret horror that lurked behind us in the dark, thirsty for our souls.  Wow!  What a difference a generation makes!  Anne Rice and a couple of million imitators have turned vampires into that kinda odd, undead guy next door.  Vampires play video games and Monopoly, and aside from the nasty habit of wanting to feast on your blood, they’re no more dangerous than an angry Chihuahua.

For centuries, machines were our friends.  However, the prevailing wisdom of our time is that, one of these days, your laptop is going to become self-aware, leap up and slaughter you, the kids, your neighbour, your cousin and anybody else who gets in its way.  Apparently, this is the inevitable result of Artificial Intelligence.  Crap!  It’s too complicated to explain here, but trust me: there is no scientific proof for this, at all.  None!  It’s all based on recent science fiction books, television and movies.  Think about it!  My computer can’t even get Auto-Correct right; how the hell is it going to take over the world?

And finally, one of the best ones:

Of all the lame excuses in the history of lame excuses, sex addiction has got to be the lamest.
“Sorry, honey!  I slept with your brother, his best friend and Carl from work — cuz I’m a sex addict!”
“No, not all at the same time.  I’m not that addicted!”
I’m pretty sure sex addiction isn’t a real thing.  Mother Nature made us wanna have sex because that’s how we make more of us.  It’s next to impossible to be addicted to something that you’re biologically programmed to do in the first place.  It’s like saying, “I’m addicted to breathing.”  Contemporary culture made up sex addiction so we’d have someplace to hide when we act like emotional assholes.

My point is, be careful what you believe to be irrefutable truth because, as some Persian poet said, a thousand years ago, “This, too, shall pass.”

Are You A Pompous Ass?


Recently, I discovered that I’m actually not a pompous ass.  It was quite a revelation.  I’ve been working under the delusion for years.  Anyway, I took the test, and come to find out, I’m just an ordinary guy.  (Who knew?)  So, if you’re at all concerned about where you fit on the scale of pompous assery — take the test.  (Europeans: don’t worry about question #1 — all your films are “foreign.”  Vegetarians: disregard #4 – it’s for meat eaters.)  Good luck!

1 — Do you prefer movies with subtitles?
Pompous asses believe they are cultural sponges, and they can magically soak up sophistication just by watching foreign films – whether they understand them or not.

2 — Do you automatically think people with English accents are smart?
Seduced by Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones and the many, many productions of Pride and Prejudice, the pompous ass looks at a clipped consonant as if it were an IQ test.  That’s why so many advertisers use it for voiceovers.

3 — Do you eat a lot of food with French names?
Everybody knows that you can put mud through a French kitchen and it will taste good, but only a pompous ass gets fooled by the name.

4 — Do you secretly wish you could figure out how to become a Vegan so you can casually mention it to your friends at dinner parties?
Pompous asses groom their image as if it were an award-winning show dog.  And speaking of dogs:

5 — Do you call the mutt you got from the Animal Shelter a “rescue dog?”
A pompous ass doesn’t understand that you don’t get extra points for giving an ordinary event a special name.

6 — Are you on Instagram instead of Facebook — even though they’re virtually the same and are both owned by that cyber-scoundrel, Mark Zuckerberg?
A pompous ass follows meaningless trends the way a southern bloodhound follows an escaped convict.

7 — Do you used words like “toxic,” “vulnerable” and “inappropriate” as if they mean something?
Pompous asses use buzzwords to camouflage their shallow understanding of the conversation at hand.

8 — Do you say “purchase” instead of “buy,” “communicate” instead of “talk” and “plethora” instead of “lots?”
Pompous asses love using 10-dollar words.  It makes them feel ever-so-clever.

And finally:

9 — Do you drink your coffee out of a paper cup?
The ubiquitous badge of the pompous ass is the paper coffee cup.  Screw the environment: this is about cool!


If you answered yes 3 times or fewer – you’re fine.
If you had 4 to 7 yeses – you need to think about this.
Anything else – go walk your “rescue dog!”

Lies, Lies and 7 More Lies

langara 1Somebody (Hitler? Goebbels? Lenin? Trotsky?) once said, “If you tell a big enough lie loud enough and long enough people will eventually believe it.”  It’s terribly ironic that, in the Age of Information, there are quite a few of those kind of “truths” kicking around, and a lot of what we call common knowledge is just a load of crap.  Here are nine glaring examples:

1 – Einstein did NOT fail high school math.  Think about this for a minute!  The guy was a genius who E=MC2-ed himself to the top of the intellectual ladder, along with Newton, Copernicus and da Vinci.  What are the chances he had trouble with Grade 10 algebra?  Besides, the records show that he skipped most of what we would call high school, anyway.

2 – You can NOT see the Great Wall of China from space.  Here’s the deal.  Yes, the Great Wall is absolutely huge.  Yes, it’s the largest man-made structure on earth, and yes, it runs for thousands of kilometres, but — surprise — it’s less than 4 metres (12 feet) wide.  Your house is probably wider.  Looking down from space, the Great Wall of China is invisible — just like your house.

3 – You do NOT use only 10% of your brain.  The truth is, even with all our advanced technology, we know so little about the brain’s function that nobody knows how much of our brain’s capacity we actually use.  However, given some people I’ve worked with, 10% might be wildly optimistic.

4 – Coca-Cola™ does NOT dissolve teeth.  Folks, they use dental work to identify bodies that have been lying around for centuries.  Every museum on Earth has at least one set of Cro-Magnon chompers.  The corrosive elements that Mother Nature can throw at the human body make Coca-Cola look like a bubble bath.  This is just another Coke™ myth that circles our planet once a generation.

5 – Undercover cops do NOT have to tell you they’re police.  Police, undercover or otherwise, cannot entrap you into committing a crime, but they are under no legal obligation to identify themselves before you commit that crime on your own.  Use your head!  If undercover cops had to tell you they’re cops, it would kinda defeat the whole purpose of “undercover,” now, wouldn’t it?

6 – Jedi is NOT a recognized religion anywhere in the world.  Despite the best efforts of literally millions of Star Wars nerds, no national or international body outside a few fans clubs views Jedi as an organized religion.  The word is you can claim to be a Jedi on your income tax form and reap all the religious benefit and advantages.  You can’t.  Don’t believe me?  Try it!

7 – There are NOT more people alive today than have ever lived in all of history.  Do the math!  Even using the ten millennia of recorded history, fifty generations a millennium and the current reproductive rate of 23 per thousand (for most of history, it was closer to 80) the result is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100 billion people.  Even counting all the lost Australian backpackers, at 7 billion, this generation isn’t even close.

8 – Mr Rogers was NOT a Navy Seal sniper in Vietnam.  Quit saying that!  There is absolutely no evidence that Fred Rogers served in the military, nor even that he ever left the continental United States — although there’s an e-rumor that he went to Maui once, on vacation.

9 – You do NOT eat 7, 9, 12 or 16 spiders every night in your sleep.  Spiders prefer dry, still, quiet places where they can spin a web and catch themselves some breakfast.  Occasionally, maybe, a single spider might venture across your bed, but, unless they’re unusually stupid, the inhale/exhale of breathing air would scare them off.  I’m sure this lie gets retold so much because it’s a guaranteed gross out to even think about it.