June 07, 2005

Empathy? Screw You.

Well hello, summer! Nice of you to drop by--nothing like a slow cool May followed by the soggy, humid boot in your butt that is 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity. Especially thoughtful of you to arrive over the course of a 24-hour period. Perhaps next time you could give me more than one day's notice before you ruin my life? Because ruined! My life! You have! What do you mean, I've watched the Yoda portions of the original trilogy too much?

Well, that's not exactly true. I can't blame my current highly irritable state on the weather, although it tends to work for Lileks--dude, I love your stuff, but just move already. It'll be winter again in, what, a month and a half? Don't fall prey to the false sense of security that a bit of sun provides. You live on a freaking tundra! Flee! I've been to Arizona and it truly is fabulous. Not fabulous enough for me to give up my easy access to the ocean, the mountains, and the West Nile virus, but it's plenty fabulous all the same...

But I digress, as usual. I am irritated. Because as mentioned previously it is summer, and summer equals mellow. And I am looking around, and all I am seeing is bitter, scared little pissants who are harshing my mellow! Would you like a list? Well, you're getting one.

1. Atlantic Monthly, you are dead to me. I know that I've threatened you in the past, but now I am serious. I mean, it's one thing to constantly predict DOOOOOOMMMMMM concerning current events, because, hey--at least there's a case to be made from actual evidence at hand, but now you've sicced your personal black cloud of pessimism, James "Why Do I Bother to Get Out of Bed in the Morning" Fallows on the future. On the year 2016, in fact. Guys? It's just as likely that we'll have flying cars by 2016 as it is that James "My Track Record is Impeccable if You Ignore the Articles I've Actually Written" Fallows will correctly predict our financial future. But thanks for playing. Oh, and maybe the next time you hire a french dude to follow in the steps of Tocqueville you might suggest that he visit locales that don't just confirm his preconceptions about America. But I understand why you didn't--it would detract from that inexplicable sense of superiority that makes continental europeans so dang fascinating. Or irrelevant. I never can get those two things straight.

2. Faux "documentaries" from the future. The hell, people. First we have an overwrought two hours about how Old Faithful is a SUPERVOLCANO that is ready to BLOW STEAMY FLAMING DEATH ALL OVER AMERICA OH MY GOD!!! and then last night it was two hours of OILSTORM OH MY GOD, the better to get all those end of days folks frothing and foaming at the mouth. Guys? Here's $100.00. Purchase your black Nikes and prepare to board the mother ship, because you are dead to me. What, you can't find enough riveting human tragedy in, say, Rwanda or Darfur? Oh, right. Those folks are too distant for middle America to relate to. And also, they're the wrong color, and nothing blows up so much as it slowly starves to death or gets dismembered. My bad.

3. The death of empathy via academia. Time was writers could create any characters they wanted to in their fiction. They used two tools--empathy and imagination. Well guess what, writers? No more of that! If you aren't a transsexual female of color you can just forget about writing about one, no matter how empathetic you are, because you aren't an "authentic" representative of a tiny balkanized community. Hey, literary diversity police in publishing? DROP DEAD.
UPDATE: Hublet corrected me - Article I refer to in the above paragraph is from the New Criterion - link here. Will erase the rambling paragraph from earlier...

Posted by Big Arm Woman at June 7, 2005 11:09 AM

The French dude following in the footsteps of Toqueville was particularly lame. He was so taken with John Kerry I almost expected him to describe going down and... licking his boots. (What did you think I was going to say!?)His horror that such an urbane, cultured gentleman was not elected was especially priceless... yep, that is one keen, observant eye, there, sport.

Posted by: Sgt. Mom at June 7, 2005 01:16 PM

Too funny.

But the problem with the heat and humidy is *enthalpy* not empathy. The adiabadic lapse rate is all out of whack all over the South. The Brunt-Vaisala frequency is decreasing; Kelvin-Helmholtz driven turbulence is on the increase.

Too darn much enthalpy in the steeenkin' air these days. The smallest atmospheric upset in a far away place (butterfly wings fluttering in China) will cause serious and irreversible consequences.


Posted by: snopercod at June 7, 2005 06:52 PM

The actual factual stuff about the supervolcano was interesting, but I turned off the tv when the stupid dramafication started, because it was all the usual shtick about Grandstanding CelebriScientist™ Doesn't Listen Until It Is Too Late. I knew by the end I'd just be praying for that thing to blow and get them all.

But Oilstorm? Feh. People won't panic during an oil shortage, they'll just bitch, moan, and make awful tv shows about people being stuck in the middle of the Caribbean on a boat full of women wearing polyester pantsuits and men with pouffy curly perms. It'll all be like a Carter-era flashback, but we'll get over it once we figure out how to turn PETA members into petroleum-substitutes.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 8, 2005 12:34 AM