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Just as a body requires nutrients to survive, and to be able to expel toxicity, we likewise need to do the same with information. As Americans increasingly fail to metabolize massive amounts of carbohydrates, we have simultaneously lost the ability absorb, and sift through the deluge superfluous data we take in every day. With tabloid, ratings driven news-ertainment having supplanted journalism as the common means by which we garner current events, our ability to cognitively metabolize media has been compromised by a steady diet of sugar coated propaganda. The diversions from more pressing political or economic issues amount to insulin for the nation’s cerebral diabetes.

We’ve become intellectually unhealthy, lazy in our thinking, and have fed our bias past the point of morbid obesity.

In a big scary world where real life monsters manifest as disappearing pensions and inaccessible health care, our diminishing ability to psychologically cope with the feelings of powerlessness that accompany the twenty-first century have caused many to project their anxiety at tabloid social issues. Mired in a Pavlovian feedback loop, the American proletariat has been conditioned to salivate every time the news media makes the determination of where we should focus our attention. On some visceral level, we feel more emotionally equipped to offer sociological opinions on tabloid subject matter than we do the economy. And in that regard, it allows us to feel a little less powerless.

America is afraid. So do as we’ve been trained to do in order to internally rationalize our anxiety. We engage in the partisan rhetoric, and ignore things that require acumen, or which might require us to accord uncomfortable realities. We cope with fear by being angry at one another. Indeed, Americans have been Nancy Grace’d into a waking coma.

But it gets worse. With the advent of social media, our polarization has become philosophically paralyzing. Facebook and Twitter have allowed us to engage one another directly. Thus, our fear and hyper-partisanship are realized in guttural reactions to complex social and economic issues. Our diminishing intellects and collective unwillingness to generate genuine comprehension have crippled our ability to effectively communicate, and reduced us to a nation of conspiratorial, hyperbolic, name calling dullards.

We’ve gotten to a point where one’s choice of laundry detergent can reduce them to ally or enemy.

As such, American social media has diminished every aspect of sociology to equate with over-simplified, black and white perspectives. So we gather information that coincides with our predispositions, and dismiss that which contradicts them. It is no longer enough to feel that our vapid, uninformed opinions are so completely justified that there is no room for any concession, but the world has to understand that whomever lies in the path of our enfeebled sensibilities must be so utterly wrong, morally bankrupt and intellectually inferior that they are due ridicule from the entire internet. But of course, those with whom we disagree feel the same about us. Our collective need to have some sort of control over our fear –and to be “right”– often precludes us from sharing empathy with one another.

And around and around we go. It’s not that anybody is right, or that anybody is wrong. It’s that (to some degree) everybody is right, and everybody is wrong. Falling prey to sensationalist media is a no-win scenario, and the people who profit from tabloid news know it. In fact, they bank on it. literally.

The danger of subjectivity harmonizing with cynicism on any given issue can affect our overall perspectives moving forward. From a sociological perspective, tabloid news is interesting insofar as how people can interpret the same evidence in accordance with their own predispositions, and how –as a society– we are prone to polarization. Whether one is partial to believe in anyone’s guilt or innocence, those choices are often made before information is gathered, or objectivity can be implemented so as to accord one’s bias. Tabloid news says a lot more about our capacity to remain mired in subjectivity than it does our judicial system.

The very purpose of the establishing a free press in our country was to keep our focus on the judiciary, legislative, and executive branches of our government. Not to distract us from them. But as with every other industry, profit alters perspective. So we find our media being dummied down to our lowest intellectual common denominator and arguing over symptomatic social issues, while their root causes go unaddressed.

Sadly, the same capital lobbies that collude with Congress to undermine our economy, and our judicial system also own the media. They need us polarized, and bickering with one another. For if we ever stopped to notice that our democratic republic is being slowly terraformed into an Orwellian aristocracy, “We the People” might learn to metabolize the bad information we are being fed.


The Wedding Scam

It seems that any time I log onto Facebook and read the engagement announcements in the right hand column of my news feed, I feel a cynical, albeit amusing sense of dread for the would-be newlyweds.

While the nation justifiably inches towards marriage equality, they have neglected to realize that while we are doing so, we should also be collectively vying for marital sanity. Especially where it concerns our wedding day. Because regardless of the amount of X or Y chromosomes that any two people taking the plunge together have, from soup to nuts, the institution requires a complete abandoning of one’s senses. I can only hope that when it comes to the “big day”, that same sex couples have more brains than their heterosexual counterparts.
There will never be another day when you are as financially taken advantage of –with the possible exception of your funeral– than your wedding day. If you’re really lucky, they will both happen on the same day. From the moment you decide to have one of these vapid, typically American “traditional” fiascoes with an obscenely self indulgent, can-you-top-this party immediately thereafter, you begin hemorrhaging money that you probably can’t afford like British Petroleum during the Gulf crisis.

It truly takes a psychosis to do what most Americans do leading up to, and including walking down the aisle. We all know that roughly half of everyone who endeavors matrimony, fails miserably. But subjectivity being what it is, people unknowingly suffer from a hormone induced dementia called “wedding fever”, and as they do so, they make complete fools out of themselves to everyone they know. Then, when it’s our turn, we do the same. It’s a complete cycle of lunacy. Almost without fail, young American future newlyweds fall under the mistaken impression that somehow their love is the stuff written about in story books, and which every chick flick is based.

Here’s a helpful hint to all of my younger readers…. It’s not.

The wedding dress itself is a monument to unreason. In a Walt Disney engendered psychosis which causes otherwise rational women to spend thousands of dollars (that she might want to put towards starting her family) so that she can play a one night performance as a fairy princess. Brides still dress in traditional white, as if we all aren’t painfully aware that even before she met the sap she’s marrying, she’d been legs up more times than a gymnast. I won’t even get into the stupidity of a grown woman who is not royalty wearing a tiara. chap5bridezillabw

These aren’t clothes we wear on our wedding day… they’re costumes. If not for tradition, we might as well be dressed as a Cowboy and a French Maid. And while we’re on the subject of ridiculous nuptial-wear, do you know what no woman in the history of weddings has ever said? “Oh I just loved my bridesmaid dress, it was soooo pretty.” Brides maids dresses are a punishment for all the petty backstabbing that women perpetrate on one another, and they only tolerate it because they hope to return the favor one day.

The penguin-wear that grooms have been conditioned to display is slightly less vacuous, but for only the fact that they are usually only rented, albeit as at obscene expense. While it may be nice to pretend to be James Bond in Monte Carlo –when insipidly tooling around with your band of dim-witted, testosterone rich band of groomsmen– while becoming inebriated in the back of your limousine — one look at the painted snow beast waddling up the aisle — praying that her spaghetti straps don’t burst since she was hoping to be ten pounds lighter before she crammed herself into this ridiculous expenditure — should snap you back into reality.

This all became a foregone conclusion once the stolid suitor made his futile attempt to impress the friends of his betrothed with an engagement ring that might as well have been purchased at a yard sale. No one who looks at it knows it’s value. They only “ooh and ah” because they pretend to. Americans spend thousands on diamonds, when they are truly worthless bits of indulgence, and which, for the average person is indistinguishable from any other piece of glass. We only engage in this idiocy because it’s expect of us, and because if we don’t, we’re afraid that people might think less of us. So we bribe our bride and hope that somehow this farce will translate into a lifetime of oral sex.

It almost never does. And when it happens, it has nothing to do with the ring.

But eventually the wedding is over, and the party begins. We pay big money to feed and entertain our friends and family so that they can hokey-pokey around a disco-ball lit dance floor and work off the eight roving appetizers and choice of prime rib or chicken cordon bleu. Thankfully the fog machine spares most young newlyweds from the horrors of what marriage has done to their glutinous, anxiety ridden wedding guests, and how their children have robbed them of their once youthful exuberance, and their sanity.

All of this is choreographed according to your caterer. Like Pavlov’s poodles, the newly-partnered soul mates marvel at the succession of unoriginal productions performed in their honor. From the tedium of watching your serving staff walk in a circle for the “champagne march” … to the less than fascinating self indulgence of the “Hi-Ho the Cherry-O” version of watching a grown woman cut a cake, and then mash it in the face of her new husband… to backwards flower tossing … it’s all nuts.

… And then we wake up the day after “Happily Ever After”… and we’re married. Walt Disney never mentioned what happens in the sixty years that follow. So maybe it might be a good idea to begin our marriages on a sane note. If you’re considering taking this step in your life, also consider that hopping in line with the other cliff-bound lemmings might not be in your best interest. The white dress, cake, and needless expenditure have NOTHING to do with a lifetime of love, respect, and interdependence. chap10romancecplbw

This is not about money. It’s about sanity.

Love cannot be expressed through needless expenditure. It’s time we forego the pomp, and come to this simple understanding… that we stop playing at love, and learn the difference between Hollywood romance, and what it really takes to be in a marriage that both loves, and endures.
Here’s a good start;

Willful Ignorance

Every once in a while, inspiration arrives unexpectedly.

Recently I’d had a rather humorous exchange of ideologies with some very nice, albeit imaginatively compromised theists on the internet. Although we had extremely different views about life, death, the afterlife, science and theology… for the most part we were all able to discuss our varying perspectives without too much Christian inspired animus. As only the invisible, all-knowing, all powerful, sex hating, intergalactic ruler of the cosmos knows, I was uncharacteristically well behaved.

Sure, there were those who took exception to my very existence, and who typed in all capital letters (to let me know that they were shouting in anger) that I was undoubtedly going to hell, and that –as one synaptic impaired dullard asserted– “GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD! I HAVE 2 AWESOME PRAISE REPORTS THIS WEEK! HE IS WORTHY 2 B PRAISED! I GIVE HIM ALL THE PRAISE AND GLORY!” (actual quote)… but for the most part the discussion revolved around me trying to explain basic science to people who refused to acknowledge it. To them, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the earth is 6000 years old, humans and dinosaurs coexisted, and their appalling consensus was that any science that contradicts the bible is a tool of Satan.

But my resolve is such that I cannot sit in good conscience and allow blatant lies which negatively affect so many lives to be accepted without speaking out against them. My idealism won’t allow what I felt was a flippant, cavalier disregard for human suffering from “Christians” sitting comfortably in their heated, carpeted homes to go unanswered… especially when they engage in trite religious platitudes such as “Jesus loves us”, or the comment that began our interaction:

“GOD is with you, He is on your side, He has your best interest at heart and He is working to bring restoration and peace to every area of your life”.

But clearly, God doesn’t love all of us, and if he does, he has a funny way of showing it. Sure he loves the wealthy, or the plain ole’ lucky… but try telling a victim of the Rwandan holocaust who’s had her arm hacked off with a machete, or someone who lost their family in the Japanese tsunami, or a 4 year old dying painfully from leukemia that God has a special plan for them. Faith in god not only allows theists to dismiss the man made pain and suffering occurring around the globe and chalk it up to “god’s will”…. it allows them to remove themselves from any sense of empathy and pretend that (especially brown) people somehow had it coming for not believing as good, Anglo mid-western Christians do.

The sanctimonious indifference exhibited routinely by American Christians is the height of condescension, and serves the less than noble purpose of narcissistic self-centeredness. “God loves me, more than the Serbian child who became paralyzed when a bullet ripped through his spine while he was doing his homework. I can tell because he rewards me with cable television. In fact, I don’t have to concern myself with the poor little cripple, God is on the job.” Religion appeals to the darkest parts of human nature, and allows us to rationalize some otherwise very antisocial, bigoted, and overtly ignorant perspectives. It’s as if theists are complicit in a post-life ponzi scheme, design to sign as many gullible people on as they can. And like any other multi-level-marketing pyramid, only those at the top are rewarded.

Which is why I believe that even a little religion is a very bad thing. For theist –many of whom I have little doubt are very well intentioned– the belief in god deprives them of the ability to think critically, or to fundamentally reason. It allows them to ignore facts and evidence in favor of what they’d like to believe. It can cause people who are obviously not insane, to make some very irrational statements of faith. Once one convinces themselves that a talking snake persuading a woman to eat an apple is the reason for war and disease, believing that god was punishing the hedonistic city of New Orleans with a hurricane is not such a stretch.

When adults practice the art of self-deception in any other aspect of their lives, we call it denial. We offer therapy, support or perhaps even an intervention whereby all of one’s friends get together and explain what an irrational, self-destructive imbecile they are behaving like. However when they do so in regard to the genetic, or astronomical evidence supporting the actual age of our universe or the origin of our species, we call it “faith”. However “god” is the abusive relationship theists can’t get out of, and they keep telling themselves that “He loves them”, despite the random, abject cruelty he routinely exhibits. They need an intervention.

But it gets worse. When people allow themselves to become corporeal servants to an ethereal dictator… and when we sacrifice our intellect and ability to employ logic here on earth in the hopes of gaining post-life admittance to what Christopher Hitchens so eloquently described as a “Celestial North Korea”… When we convince ourselves that we’ll find happiness in a heavenly hive where one must appeal to an almighty creator’s sense of vanity by constantly heaping praise on him, while simultaneously serving as “bottoms” in a sadomasochistic, mentally abusive patriarchy which only allows one to only be rewarded for blind obedience, and the ability to endure boredom… it is epitome of lazy thinking in the face of real world issues that require our serious attention.

As such, religion hurts everyone. To which I say to those whom demand “respect” for a fundamentalist, inherently bigoted worldview that eliminates any metaphoric interpretation of scripture, and which denies science in favor of fairy tales…. You’ll get none from *this* Atheist.