Two weeks ago, another senseless mass shooting occurred in the U.S. The perpetrator, Aaron Alexis, stole twelve American lives (in addition to his own), injured another eight, and decimated most of what remained of the fragile hope I carried in my heart. The hope that this attack would be the one that removes semi-automatic and automatic weapons out of the hands of anyone but the police, security personnel, and the military. The hope that this attack would be the one to convince anyone suffering from a mental illness to seek help – without the threat of societal judgement. The hope that this attack would be the last. For a long time, anyway.
Perhaps I was naive.
The worst part is that when I write about this attack, I don’t mean the shooting committed by Aaron Alexis. No, I’m still reeling from Aurora. James Holmes’ hang dog face was burned into my eyelids the moment I glimpsed his cartoonish red hair and sly, but vacant – maybe too vacant - expression. Most serial killers don’t stand out because they’re too busy blending in. They live lives that don’t draw attention. Or suspicion. (Yes, I’ve been watching a lot of Dexter recently, so I’ve got mad criminal profiling skills.)
Similarly, many who’ve known mass murderers – defined as a person who kills four or more people in a single incident – will confirm that they were shocked to discover that their friend, family member, neighbor or colleague was arrested for the first-degree murder of, not one, or even two people, but a dozen. All at once. When interviewed by the press, they nearly always say: ”He seemed like a nice guy.” “He was always friendly to me.” “He kept to himself, but was really pleasant.” No one ever says, “I saw this coming from a mile away. That dude was a burnt sienna short of a box of Crayolas.”
Mass murderers are almost never biker-types with tat sleeves, shaved heads and a long, deep facial scars. They don’t typically look like Walter White; they more closely resemble your next door neighbor with the expensive landscaping and the Lexus…or his shy, college-educated son. Aaron Alexis could have passed for my friend’s husband. But James Holmes remains an enigma. On the surface, he makes Charles Manson look like your favorite babysitter, albeit one with a swastika carved into his forehead. James Holmes looks utterly cray cray, but he’s almost textbook – and that’s where the problem lies. After all, he was enrolled in a prestigious, neuroscience doctoral program. He had access to thousands of scholarly tomes about mental disorders, and made a classroom presentation entitled,”Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders.” Certainly, we’re all hoping that he is mentally ill, because if he’s not, it’s terrifying to conceive that a sane person could mow down a dozen innocent moviegoers, and injure another 58, with such cold precision.
So when I read that Aaron Alexis had been hearing voices in the weeks prior to the shooting, I felt a sense of relief. The monster who terrorized the employees of the Washington Navy Yard was mentally ill. He wasn’t a bad person; he was a sick person who did a bad, bad thing. One whom believed his insomnia was caused by people “using some kind of microwave machine” that made his body vibrate and prevented him from sleeping – a fact that only cemented my resolve that Alexis was as much of a victim as the innocent people whom he killed. A victim who had notified authorities about his paranoid hallucinations, and, yet, nothing was done to prevent the heinous crime Alexis was to commit mere weeks later.
Last night, I was reading an article about the politicians responsible for the federal government shutdown. When I came across the following statement, my heart lodged in my throat:
And I am concerned. They are shipping all the, I’m concerned about the microchips. That they are in many, many of the things that we own. And some of those are embedded, I believe, with, with detection and, uh, capabilities or tracking capabilities.
That’s no mass murderer; it’s Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri (R), who apparently believes that her Chinese-manufactured blender is listening in as she makes her morning smoothie. What’s her solution to this dilemma? “We need to have a new 007 James Bond movie with China as the bad guys.” Erm, didn’t we do that already in Tomorrow Never Dies? I would think if China actually feared Hollywood, they wouldn’t illegally manufacture and sell bootleg copies of every major motion picture released, without paying a yuan in royalties.
Not surprisingly, she’s also a birther who has publicly said, “I have doubts that it is really his [President Obama's] birth certificate…” Funny, she hasn’t questioned Sen. Ted Cruz’s citizenship – and he admits that he was hatched in Canada. (Yes, Canada, you owe us big time for that one. I don’t care if you gave us Ryan Gosling and William Shatner; you’re also responsible for Justin Bieber, so this is strike deux.)
More alarming is the fact that she also appears to be hearing voices. Just yesterday, she was quoted as saying, “The American people have spoken already on this. They do not want Obamacare.” Really? According to RealClearPolitics.com, five times as many people have already visited the Obamacare website than have ever visited Medicare.gov. In fact, it’s been reported that 4.7 million people dropped by Healthcare.gov within the first twenty-four hours of the site being launched, despite the fact that the federal government had just been shutdown by a handful of Tea Party zealots attempting to hold it hostage. So, who are the faces behind these “American people” Hartzler speaks of? Maybe this one:
Rep. Hartzler credits God with inspiring her decision to become a politician. At the age of nine. Did it occur to her that God may have only been encouraging her to run for Playground Committee Chairwoman, not Congress? What does God’s inspiration sound like, anyway? My vote would go to Morgan Freeman, but I suspect Hartzler’s God sounds more like Charleston Heston: “Run for Congress, Vicky, or I’ll pry this gun out of my cold, dead hands and show you how I parted the Red Sea.” The poster child for the anti-choice movement, she supports charging women who have abortions with first degree murder, and the physicians who perform said abortions with second degree murder. Climate change? She’s not buying it. She’s not even certain it exists…but if it does, she doubts ”that man has a very significant role in that.”
I’d bet that Rep. Hartzler believes unicorns shit rainbows, but considering that she is a rabid, anti-LGBT activist, I doubt she recognizes the existence of rainbows at all. Kinda like gay marriage. Evolution. Gravity. On the upside, Hartzler supports increasing the size of the Navy in her land-locked Missouri. Erm, okay. You never know when North Korea is going to invade Mark Twain Lake.
While I’m relieved that it appears that Rep. Hartzler is suffering from a mental illness – much like Aaron Alexis – I’m concerned that she, along with a small Tea Party minority, seems to possess the power to shut down the federal government. When did we decide to hand the keys to the asylum over to the inmates? Why is John Boehner listening to a vapid, former home economics teacher whose greatest, single accomplishment so far is her contribution to passing a Missouri constitutional amendment banning gay marriage…in a state in which gay marriage was already illegal. Nothing like killing a fly with a jackhammer, huh, Hartzler?
If we continue to allow politicians who hear voices and hold conference calls with God, yet speak in whispers when within sight of a household appliance, to make decisions about the future of the United States, we could end up with much worse than 800,000 federal government staffers being furloughed indefinitely and Panda Cam going dark. In some ways, political terrorism is no different than a mass shooting, and the perpetrators no different than Aaron Alexis. Both wield power through fear. Both directly and indirectly impact the lives of thousands of people through intimidation, through terror. Both control the majority through the acts of the minority. Both hurt people.
For her sake, I hope Rep. Vicky Hartzler is mentally ill. Because if she’s not, that would make her a monster.
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Note: This post was not written, in any way, to trivialize or capitalize upon the victims of both the Aurora movie theater or Washington Navy Yard shootings. Please know that I offer my deepest condolences to both the victims and their families. Nor is this post intended to poke fun at those who bravely suffer from mental illness. Except for Vicky Hartzler. I was totally making fun of her.
Update: As per The Huffington Post, a Government Accountability Office analysis of Drug Enforcement Administration data has named Missouri the “methiest” state with 1,825 meth lab busts and seizures in 2012. One of only three states with over 1,000 incidents, Missouri beat out West Virginia, which ranks second with 1,585 arrests and seizures. Mother Jones reports that the most common victim of meth burn, often caused by the “shake and bake” manufacturing method, is under 4 years of age. Way to go, Rep. Hartzler! Maybe you should focus less on your anti-LGBT, anti-choice, anti-Chinese appliances, and anti-Affordable Healthcare Act platform, and focus on something that’s a genuine problem in your state.
I am so disappointed in you. After thousands of people worked tirelessly to ensure that your husband, President Barack Obama, was again elected to the highest office in this country, you go and blow his inauguration for all of us. A week later, I’m still appalled. For a woman with such class, intelligence and beauty, how could you steal your husband’s thunder as you did? It was his big day; the last time he’ll ever place his hand on a Bible and be sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts in front of millions of chilled constituents and television viewers. But thanks to you, most Americans will only remember January 21, 2013 as the day the First Lady debuted bangs.
Before you begin with the excuses, I realize you technically took your bangs out for a trial run a few days earlier to celebrate your 49th birthday and the launch of your Twitter account, but the world didn’t officially check out your new fringe until Inauguration Day. As First Lady, someone must have educated you on the significant buzz generated by something as drastic as thick, flirty bangs. For crying out loud, one of the world’s most renowned experts on First Lady Dos and Don’ts, literally and figuratively, has been working for your husband for the last four years as Secretary of State.
Did you not think to consult with Hillary Clinton before embarking upon such a controversial voyage toward sassy bobdom? Did four years of the planet’s pop culture obsession with your J. Crew cardigans, your finely-honed triceps and your dazzling smile not clue you in to the fact that everything you do is so amazeballs, it makes your husband’s accomplishments appear minuscule by comparison? How can a measly president keep up?
Don’t believe me? Here are just a few conversations that I
totally made up to illustrate my point have overheard in the past couple of years:
American 1: “Hey, did you hear that Osama Bin Laden is dead?”
American 2: “About damn time. Anyway, did you see that incredible dress that Michelle Obama wore on Oprah today? Her arms are totally ripped!”
American 1: “I’m so psyched. Thanks to President Obama and Obamacare, my health insurance is going to cover my pre-existing conditions and my birth control pills.”
American 2: “Huh? Did you hear that Michelle Obama is nominated for a Grammy? I loved her book. I’ve heard that the vegetables she grows in the White House garden have ten times as many vitamins as your standard organic fare – and you can develop super hero powers after eating them. Sasha, for example, once gave Chuck Norris a painful wedgie that left him so disabled he had to change the name of his show to Walker With A Limp, Texas Ranger. After eating a single serving of White House garden broccoli, Malia memorized the entire Oxford English Dictionary…in Finnish.
American 1: “Thanks to President Obama’s support, my state legalized gay marriage, and now my partner and I can finally get hitched after twenty-five years together.”
American 2: “I’m pretty sure that was Michelle Obama’s idea; after all, her designer of choice, Jason Wu, is gay. Plus, nothing screams equality like her sassy ass bangs.”
Is this sinking in, Michelle? Do you realize that, at this very moment, if you were to Google “Michelle Obama Hair,” you’d find an astounding 106 million results? Your hair alone culls more than three times the hits as does Adolf Hitler’s entire murderous career – one which was nearly outshone by the black caterpillar named Otto who lived above his upper lip. Hillary Clinton, whose tresses were famously criticized throughout her two term tenure as First Lady, garners a paltry 31 million results – and she’s been in the public eye for over twenty years. In a world in which bad news always seems to trump good news, it’s confounding to discover that the positive reviews about your gleaming mane easily outnumber the negative appraisals of Hillary’s helmet head.
Perhaps it’s difficult for someone like you, someone who’s never had a bad hair day in her life, to understand the power of bangs. They’re a decisive, aggressive move, much like invading Russia in winter or refusing to use Gatling guns at Little Bighorn – and we all know how those choices impacted Hitler and Custer, respectively. Poor little Taylor Swift was transformed from gawky, teen queen into a sleek, man-eater with one long snip across her forehead and a few passes with a flat iron. Suddenly, she metamorphosized from a mother-in-law’s wet dream into the bane of every eligible bachelor’s existence. When Michael J. Fox doesn’t want his son to date you, that’s a pretty clear indication that you’ve succumbed to fringe-induced flooziness.
The thing that really chaps my ass, Michelle, is that you allowed a mere flight of fancy to outshine your hubby on his big day. Let’s face it; bangs are almost always snipped on a whim. And just like that last martini, bold, blunt bangs are almost always a mistake…unless your name is Zooey Deschanel, who doesn’t count because her eyeballs are so large, they have their own satellites. No one can carry bangs off for long and growing them out is worse than being informed that your sober living partner is Charlie Sheen.
Of course, the greater concern is – now that you’ve demonstrated a desire to one-up the president – what you are planning to debut at the State of the Union address? Knee cap liposuction? Eyelash extensions? A neon pink merkin?
May I suggest something that makes an impact, yet is temporary? Something that President Obama and you can do together. A statement that will eliminate the image of your bangs from our collective memory and bring your lovely forehead out of hiding. A look that will demonstrate your solidarity as America’s most famous, most beloved – and most romantic – couple.
With Great Respect and Admiration,
Miss Snarky Pants
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Photo Credits:Michelle Obama With Bangs: HuffingtonPost.com Hillary Clinton Hair Don’t: CBS.com Michelle Obama With Guns: Allure.com Chuck Norris: FishingJones.com Adolph Hitler: Wikipedia.com Zooey Deschanel: Allure.com
As with every major event, some self-satisfied schmuck comes along and deigns it his or her distinct honor to decide who were the best dressed, worst dressed, most improved, most likely to, most popular and funniest. In the case of The March on the Republican National Convention (RNC), that self-satisfied schmuck would be moi.
Most Likely To Be Shot By A Vigilante Neighborhood Watch Member
It’s A Good Thing George Zimmerman Can’t Leave Orange County
Most Likely To Have Thought Black Bloc Was A Fashion Trend
“Are We Supposed To Wear The Bandana As A Mask Or As A Scarf? It’s Cuter As A Scarf.”
Most Likely To Think The March Ends At A Shelter
“GOP Farts Need To Give The Homeless Shopping Carts!”
Perhaps the most prominent and organized group of protesters at Monday morning’s March on the RNC, which began just over a mile north of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, ground zero for this year’s convention, was the Cycling Zookeeper Regime. Dressed from neck to knees in khaki to honor their slain leader, Steve Irwin, a.k.a. The Crocodile Hunter, the members of the CZR (pronounced seize-her) were determined to thwart law enforcement’s plans to arrest them en masse after the organization threatened – in a YouTube video last week – to release Animals of Mass Destruction within the secure areas of the RNC’s Clean Zone. Though the March was attended by hundreds of protesters representing over a dozen causes, CZR members had clearly organized and orchestrated the entire event, as evidenced by their constant and silent presence on the sidelines. Even the most unruly protesters seemed to respect the CZR’s control, waiting patiently and holding their banners, while CZR members repositioned their bicycle-wielding bodies into a human chain along the March route that would prove so daunting to law enforcement, they refused to attempt to break it.
A Humor Blog For Horrible People
That’s my new tagline – and one that will take up residence on my newly-designed website in a month or so after all of my Paltry Meanderings’ readers have caught on. You may have noticed that I’ve got a new name and look. It was time for a change or, as David Bowie would put it, it was time to turn and face the strange.
However, my blog makeover is only one of several metamorphoses I’ve undergone recently. In fact, during my brief August sabbatical:
1) I’ve Become A Vegan:I know…I may as well have just confided to you that I’ve moved to Oregon, stopped shaving my legs, taken to rubbing a chunk of crystal under my arms instead of deodorant, started wearing Birkenstocks, and sold my televisions in order to donate the money to my local farm co-operative. Of course, that’s ridiculous. I don’t even use deodorant. For the record, although I love all critters, I decided to eschew meat and all animal-based products because I had some addiction issues to conquer – namely my lifelong enslavement to one particular substance – not because I wanted to have an excuse for wearing the fugliest shoes ever created. Breaking this dependence was critical to my relationship with my husband, my parents, my friends and my waistline.
They say, Admitting you have a problem is the first step.So here I am to announce to all of you today that I, Miss Snarky Pants, am an addict. I can’t remember not drinking. I suppose whole milk was my gateway drug, but then my mother further mired me in the Swamp of Dependency by introducing me to Nestlé Quik. Within days, I was a chocolate milk junkie. Mom enabled my new addiction by permitting me to slug down a glass every Saturday morning – as long as I woke her first and asked permission. Of course, I scored half pints of the stuff in the school cafeteria; you’d be amazed what you can get in trade for an apple, half a Twinkie and a bathroom stall blow job.
When you have gazillions of dollars and no job, you aren’t “unemployed.” You’re “retired.”
London is an international, financial hub with a port, the first underground rail system and nearly 8 million people. Salt Lake City is dot on a map with a lake, a genealogical library and less than 200,000 people. Don’t get them confused again.
I know the trees in London look like they’re exactly the right height, but don’t say that out loud.
We’re all taught to be nice to others. To treat people as we would like to be treated. Bumper stickers proclaim “Mean People Suck” and “Mean People Are Mean.” And while not terribly eloquent and apparently created by four year olds, their message is dead-on accurate. Mean people suck. But without them, humanity will wither and, eventually, die.
Though some would disagree, many believe that people are becoming more pleasant. Particularly here, in the United States. The manner in which we debate politically evidences this fact. Our politicians actually sing, they’re so happy with one another. They call each other by cute nicknames like “Mitt” and “Newt” and “That Black Interloper in the White House.” One group of conservatives who seems particularly desperate to reach out to others calls themselves “The Tea Party.” Clearly, it’s an invitation. Come on over. We’ll talk tax cuts and why it’s nobody’s fault but your own if you don’t have health insurance, and drink a cup of chamomile (No English Breakfast Tea – they’re bloody Socialists, dontcha know?). I bet they’d serve cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off if you requested it.
This level of friendliness has also impacted the manner in which our country deals with other nations. When U.S. troops visit other countries – without their permission – and in large numbers, this is no longer considered an invasion or war, but an “Operation” – i.e. Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Desert Storm. We no longer kill our enemies, we neutralize assets using smart bombs and surgical strikes. I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I’m not sure if we’re running a war or a MASH unit or fixing kid’s cleft palates. The whole thing sounds so civil and professional and medical. Even when we lose one of our own, it’s often to “friendly fire.” Did the deceased soldier feel that the bullets or bombs that took his or her life were particularly amiable? He or she must have because, otherwise, a term like friendly fire would almost be insulting to the families those heroes left behind. And nice people don’t insult widows and orphaned children. It’s inherently NOT nice.
Overall, this may be one of the nicest decades in history. According to Steven Pinker, Harvard psychology professor and author of The Better Angels of our Nature, “Today we may be living in the most peaceable era of our species’ existence.” What? We’re less violent today, you say? That’s just crazy talk! We’ve got non-stop wars going on. We’re armed to the gills. Our ghettos are infested with gangs. Schools employ the use of metal detectors. Someone threw glitter at Newt Gingrich. Paula Abdul was canned as an X-Factor judge. Kim Kardashian has to travel with multiple body guards. Paris Hilton’s house is continuously burgled. Jimmy Fallon’s band insinuated that Michele Bachmann is a “lyin’ ass bitch.” It’s a cruel, mean world.
Au contraire, says The New York Times journalist, Nicholas D. Kristof, who recently examined the warm-and-fuzzy worldwide trend in his article, “Are We Getting Nicer?” Actually, he didn’t really say, “Au contraire.” But he would – if he was here sitting next to me right now as I write this blog. Which he isn’t. He’d also say, “You know, it’s really late. Mind if I take a little nap?” What he did say is that in the 20th century, a time “notorious for world war and genocide,” only about 3% of all deaths involved “such man-made catastrophes.” By comparison, in Native American, hunter-gatherer societies, 13% died as the result of violence, and the 17th century’s “Thirty Years’ War reduced Germany’s population by as much as one-third.” Now either Kristof, like Bobby Fischer and David Duke, doesn’t believe the Holocaust occurred and is leaving out a whole lot of dead people in his calculations – or humans used to be much, much, much more violent. We were bad asses. A few centuries ago, “Oh, no she diddddn’t” was inevitably followed by the previously-referenced “she” person’s head being paraded around the town on a stick. Three hundred years ago, the Grimm brothers wrote fairy tales – for little children - involving cannibalism, the severing of various limbs, a talking dead horse head, kidnapping, murder, imprisonment in tall towers, and talking drops of blood. S&M wasn’t a sexual fetish; it was a religious conversion technique.
Further supporting the theory that society is becoming a kinder, gentler place is The U.S. Department of Justice’s 2010 report, Crime In the United States, which indicates a steady decline in violent crime over the last five years. Between 2009 and 2010 alone, there was a 6% decrease. And since 2006, the incidence of violent crime has dipped over 13%. If this is true, then surely – at this rate – we’ll all be dancing naked and banging drums around bonfires singing Kumbaya in another twenty years, and living in an Egalitarian society in which all food and goods are gifted to one another on the basis of need.
However, if you’re like me, you don’t trust the numbers. Former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, may have put it best when he said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Numbers can be manipulated and our country’s leaders are quick to point that out. For example, Rick Perry emphatically stated in his book, Fed Up!, that global warming and the science supporting it is “one contrived phony mess.” Likewise, fast-food expert Herman Cain recently weighed in on the same issue, calling the whole thing “a scam.” Granted, neither of them possess an actual background in climatology, but they’re wealthy men with good jobs – and they recognize manipulation when they see it. One of them has years of experience running a corporation in which lobbying, greed and corruption are not uncommon, so he’s familiar with collusion; the other is an expert in numbers manipulation himself, most recently with his 9-9-9 Plan (though I personally think he stole it from a Beatles’ song). Just as these political giants dismiss global warming, I’m certain they’d disagree with all these crazy statistics that claim our world is gradually becoming a nicer place.
Perhaps some anecdotal evidence would be more convincing. Halloween is a perfect example. Unlike the Seventies when children were encouraged to go strangers’ doors dressed in strange costumes and rudely scream, “Trick or Treat!” into homeowners’ faces on an annual basis, parents now shepherd their rugrats to the mall, where they now shout “Trick or Treat” into the faces of mall employees. Wait! Isn’t this evidence of the fact that parents are worried about their children’s safety because the world is NOT a nicer place? No. No. Not at all. This is merely indicative of the fact that parents have recognized the burden that Halloween places on the average person. How rude is it to allow your kids to bang on some old lady’s door thirty or forty times in one night and threaten her with a “trick” if she doesn’t give scary looking children (who, in her mind, might be demonic dwarves) candy that she really can’t afford on her fixed income? Especially when she’s trying to watch Hot In Cleveland. You can’t miss a second of that show ’cause Betty “Don’t Buy Me Green Bananas” White could go at an any minute.
By taking children to the mall instead, parents are attempting to mitigate the impact of Halloween’s expense and inconvenience on others. Unlike the elderly woman I mentioned, mall employees aren’t watching television, so the children aren’t interrupting them doing something important. And they’re paid to be yelled at. In fact, they’re hollered at regularly (though less than before, because we are getting friendlier) and they don’t have to bear the expense of the candy distributed to the ankle-biters to get them to run along and harass someone else. This cost is absorbed by Corporate America and I don’t care what anyone says, they aren’t people and I don’t have to be nicer to them.
Assuming the statistics and anecdotal evidence supporting the Amiable Argument, as I like to call it, are correct, how is this a bad thing? Won’t we, as a society, be happier? Isn’t this what we’ve been aspiring to as humans – evolving over the years into more civilized creatures capable of empathy and love? It looks as though we’re almost there. We’re right on the cusp of Utopia, ready to fall off the precipice into the gorge of universal peace.
Yeah, okay. Lemme know when you’re done huggin’ that tree and are willing to put the patchouli incense away. Please. It stinks. Oh, and that crystal you’ve been rubbing under your armpits – not working. It’s like being downwind of a pair of Larry King’s Depends first thing in the morning before his
babysitter wife has changed him. Oh, and you – radical conservatives who doubt anything that God didn’t handwrite Himself in your translated-a-billion-times-over King James version of the Bible, I’ve got a question for you. If God created everything, then He created the metaphor, right? Why would the universe’s greatest super hero invent a linguistic tool, inspire one of the best-selling books of all time and not use a single metaphor anywhere in that very, very long book? C’mon – can’t we agree that maybe everything shouldn’t be taken literally? Maybe Christ wasn’t really a vine. Or a door. And maybe seven days is more like seven million years.
So back to why nice people will be the death of us all. Darwin. Natural selection. Oh, let me guess. That’s more poppycock, right? Darwin’s theories are up there with global warming and the Holocaust and the moon landing. Crazy talk! Fine, but the dinosaurs probably dismissed him as well and it didn’t turn out so well for most of them now, did it? No, I’m not saying that being amiable will be the catalyst for the natural disaster that will spawn another Ice Age – for which we are sorely unprepared.
What I’m saying is that when everything’s good, when everything’s easy-peasy, is when our DNA becomes complacent. Instead of developing opposable big toes like Beast in X-Men: First Class or the ability to communicate with one another almost entirely through pheromones like ants, we’re doing nothing. We’re letting our technology do our thinking for us, sitting in front of our computers all day while our muscle tone slowly dwindles, and our girths expand until width is the term used to describe one’s size, not height. I’m no wack-a-doo soothsayer, either. Pixar foretold this future a few years back in WALL-E.
Think I’m crazy? Visit any Wal-Mart or grocery store and see how many of those scooters are now available for shoppers. Twenty years ago, they didn’t exist. They were called wheelchairs – and you brought your own with you. Because you were crippled – not fat and lazy. One upon a time, heavy-set people just waddled up and down the aisles like the rest of us. For us, it was shopping; for them, it was an aerobic workout, but it was better than sitting on your ass because you might get a tad out of breath. Now you have to be careful where you walk at a theme park because you’ll get run down by someone who can’t be bothered to get off their butt (or just wants to get to the next ride faster – those friggin’ scooters have some serious horsepower). And this is bad for us as a species. When apex predators get fat and lazy, they get eaten by new apex predators.
Without mean people, the human race will lose it’s only predator. As apex predators, we are remarkably similar to sharks and crocodiles, neither of which has changed much since the K/T Extinction Event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Still, a long time ago, both were quite a bit larger, but after being the big guys on campus for so long, they inevitably began to take it easy, evolutionarily speaking. Imagine an crocodile thinking to himself millions of years ago, “Wildebeest aren’t getting any bigger. I couldn’t probably lose a few inches of tail, spend a little less time at the gym and a work on my tan more often and still get plenty to eat. Same with sharks. For 14 million years, the 50-foot long Megalodon was, literally, the big motherfuckin’ fish in the big motherfuckin’ pond. Though some dispute that the Great White Shark is a descendant of the Megalodon and the reason for this monster’s extinction has never been determined, it’s possible that Mega Mouth just got tired of chewing (My husband often claims that it’s the most boring of activities) and filling its enormous belly. Maybe he thought, “If I dropped a good 35 tons, I could still rule this roost no problem and I wouldn’t have to feed all the darn time. I could take up Scrabble or write that novel I keep talking about.” And The Great White Shark was born.
Regardless, these apex-predators of the oceans and rivers are in trouble. The Great White is now more endangered than tigers. In the United States, alligators were endangered for years and are now a protected species. Numerous species of crocodiles across the world are currently endangered. Why? Ultimately, because we are the Uber Villain in the comic strip called, “Earth.” We hunt them, we steal and pollute their habitat, we make awful films about gimongous versions of them. Except, as we get lazier, spawn fewer evolved children and destroy our DNA with crystal meth, the chimps out there are eating well, throwing poo (a sign of intelligence and one step away from learning to use an uzi) and are fashioning and using weapons. Whaaaaaat? Weapons? Yep. Santino, a chimp in the Furuvik Zoo in Sweden, began creating disks out of concrete and collecting stones – even after hours – to throw at annoying tourists while the zoo was open. Scared yet?
So keep it up, Nice People. If you do, Planet of the Apes could be your future. Mean People keep you on your toes. They pick on you so that you’re too embarrassed to ride around on that scooter, hogging the damn cereal aisle. They mind-fuck you at work to keep your synapses firing, and cut you off in traffic to keep your eye-hand coordination intact. They beat you up in the playground to teach you how to defend yourself, mug you in the alley so you understand when to fight and when to flee, and steal your girlfriend so you learn to treat the next one like gold. Mean people make your books and films interesting. Conflict is what makes the world go round…not conservation of angular momentum. That’s just more science poppycock. Back me up on this one, Rick Perry.