July 05, 2017
Who’s Afraid of North Korea?

Who’s afraid of North Korea? Not me, at least not in the way we’re supposed to be. So Kim Jong-Un fired a single ICBM that might be able to hit Alaska. Are we supposed to believe that he’s just going wake up one morning and decide to bomb Anchorage, knowing that if he did so his country would be radioactive ash within minutes?

Then I remember yellow cake and aluminum tubes, the Axis of Evil, Saddam, cross-dressing Panamanian dictators, Gadaffi in his tent, ayatollahs, Russian commies, Chinese commies, mullahs, Cubans, Sandinistas, Somali pirates, bird flu and ecoli and anthrax and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! And then I realize that, well, yes, we are indeed supposed to think exactly that.

This map is only a slight exaggeration of how lots of Americans actually do view the world (click to enlarge):

They’re encouraged in their ignorance by leaders who are equally dumb. Ronald Reagan once returned from a trip to Latin America and said with genuine astonishment: “You’d be surprised. They’re all individual countries down there.” Not to be outdone, George Dubya once informed the world that Nigeria was an important continent and that border relations between Canada and Mexico were excellent. He also once asked the Brazilian president: “Do you have blacks, too?”

And Trump, well, every day of the week Trump says something skull-smashingly stupid for the delectation of his moron base, and his most jarringly ignorant statements are usually sincere (i.e., nobody knew how complicated health care was. You know, I get great intelligence. I have a great relationship with the blacks, etc. etc.)

It’s possible to meet successful, even college-educated, Americans, solid members of the middle class, who routinely confuse Sweden with Switzerland, still refer to Czechoslovakia, and can only vaguely distinguish between China and Japan. Sure, they’re different countries and all. Japan is kind of a good guy and China is kind of a bad guy, or at least that’s the impression they get from the trickle of images on the subject that come through their TV screens for a few minutes each week between commercials for Budweiser and Viagra. But at the end of the day they’re still, you know, Asians, who are all basically the same, right?

One must never forget, and perhaps never forgive, the fact that grown-ups in this country dress up like their favorite Star Wars characters and camp outside of movie theaters for days. They flock to see Wonder Woman. They wear neon spandex tights to go for bike rides. They trample each other to death on Black Friday. They fret over imaginary disorders that have no firm basis in medical science and will drop out of consciousness in a few months or years. They don’t read. Less than fifteen percent of them have passports. Seventy-seven percent of them believe in angels. One in four thinks the sun revolves around the earth. They plagiarize their words from television commercials and think they sound clever doing it: “You got this!” “Can you hear me now?”

We are the end result of a seventy year long laboratory experiment called “consumerism,” in which American culture has been almost totally drained of substance and intellect, of meaning and value, and the resulting void was filled with wall-to-wall entertainment and cheap consumer goods. It has created a society of fearful, anxious children who demand instant gratification and lust after shiny objects. There is no past, there is no future, and there is no world outside of the plastic cornucopia of American commercialism worth seeing or knowing about. It is an airtight, hermetically sealed, self-enclosed system that exercises nearly totalitarian control over the minds of the American people.

We’re easy sport for the corporations, banks, Pentagon bureaucrats, CIA spooks, political hacks and demagogues who want to rob and deceive us. All they have to do is scream “Orange Alert” and all the bold flag wavers who sang so proudly last night will go scurrying to Walmart in order to buy duct tape and bottled water. If they told us that wearing underwear on our heads warded off brain eating rays from Pyongyang, people in this country would do it (and we would be told, no doubt, that buying Fruit-of-the-Loom was patriotic).

So, yeah, we are supposed to believe Kim Jong-Un will risk his power and his life for the sheer stupid pleasure of flinging a missile at the US, because he’s a crazy and evil super villain who hates us for our freedom, and because we’re so effin’ good … Booyah!

Then Donald Trump will get his excuse for a war, and with war will come all those juicy war powers we allow presidents to have. Then we’ll realize, too late, that the freakish little dictator of a starving medieval country was the least of our problems.

Posted by OHollern at July 05, 2017 03:53 PM
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Although my general practice is never to criticized a fellow progressive blogger, I'm going to make an exception in this case. You can thank your outrageous, ill-considered, or likely ignorant statement, "One must never forget, and perhaps never forgive, the fact that grown-ups in this country....wear neon spandex tights to go for bike rides."

Despite the tragically obvious fact that functional, technical, form-fitting bicycle clothing raises fierce and irrational resentment among the uneducated masses of what I'll call, for the sake of brevity, the Fatass Jellybelly Class (FJC), everything about those tights serves a useful function, including the following:

Long rides create friction that frequently results in skin chafing, painful irritation, and sometimes infection of areas upon which the FJC usually sits motionless while mindlessly watching Fox News from the vantage point of a couch cushion. Those bicycle tights contain a chamois pad which reduce friction and irritation in that area. The tight fit keeps the chamois in just the right place.

Spandex or Lyrca does not absorb moisture the way cotton and wool do. Instead, the moisture wicks to the surface of the clothing where it quickly evaporates. Result, the rider is not pedaling around in damp, uncomfortable clothing.

When bicycling in the rain, see above.

Tight clothing, particularly when it gets down to the ankles or shins, is not going to get caught between the bike chain and the bike gear wheels the way floppy slacks can, leading to accidents that could cause bone breakage or fatalities.

Even the neon colors are functional. Drivers are conditioned to watch for traffic lights, oncoming traffic, and pedestrians crossing the street. Bicyclists aren't on their conscious radar. There have been too many cases where a driver approaches a bicyclists from the rear and then either rear ends the rider or sideswipes the rider. After the ambulance comes to take the cyclist away, the driver whines, "I didn't see him. He came out of nowhere." Nowhere! Try that bit of magic one of these days. Neon colored clothing, the more outrageous the pattern and colors the better, stands a better chance of breaking through the driver's wall of cycle-blindness, thus saving the rider's life.

I agree with the rest of your post, despite the severe dyspepsia you have inflicted on me by lumping safety-conscious bicycle riders in with anti-vaxxers and other nincompoops.

Yours with extreme crankiness,
The New York Crank

Posted by: The New York Crank on July 6, 2017 11:08 AM
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