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The opinions expressed here-in are my own. They are subjective, although hopefully well informed. I don't know how often I will write here, however I feel it is important to stress that this is not a "blog". It is a place for me to do my best to contribute something constructive and productive to the world around me, on a variety of subjects. It is also important to note that at least for now, this is not a discussion. If you wish to write a comment about something you read here, you're welcome to do so.
Running Out of Superlatives: Death of the Ordinary Sep. 14, 2008 Have you gone to see a movie recently? Did you watch the Olympics? Have you, with commendable hope, tuned into the evening's program to sharpen your political acumen only to be left bereft of your unexpected temptation and instead be numbed by the glee and ease with which words - the precious building blocks of humanity's linguistic achievement - are used to rob you of the simple, guilty pleasure of acceptability? Even if you haven't, it happens so conspicuously, so ubiquitously that you surely could not have escaped it. At some point, someone, somewhere, somehow decided that "ordinary" is confounding. We agreed and we insisted that mediocrity is the dirty secret we shall avow to never strive for, but dutifully accept.

It's a perplexing conundrum. We are inundated with data. Televisions, radio, iPods, newspapers and magazines, with the use of each word they all fight, clamoring for our attention. They can only rouse us from our daily existential slumber by the extremity of that which they present us with. And we accept. We accept to be only interested in world records. We accept only the best price. We accept that we're most interested in the unacceptable, the unattainable and the unfathomable. Yet, for our habitual wariness of the ordinary, we must keep the ordinary alive to reference the extraordinary. Without mediocrity, the extraordinary can not exist.

In our ardent pursuit of the above-average, we have realized that what used to be exceptional has to, in turn, become mediocre, as to satiate our desire to out-do it. First we started with "good" and "bad". Cleverly, we relied on "very" and for a while "very good" was quite apt at outdoing "good". We even creatively began to see things which were "better", and every so often we would be overjoyed by the "best". Today, however, one might be old-fashioned if they're heard with the boorish "very very good" or "the very best". We've devised new ways to overcome the acceptably "good" and replace it with "exceptional", "super" or even "incredible". That's right, my fervent perjurer of mediocrity, we will gladly accept that which is not credible, to satisfy our burning desire to avoid being too common.

We no longer trust going to a movie if our friends simply tell us "It was pretty good." We will prefer to watch the athletic demonstrations that break a previously set record. We only listen to the politician that tells us about change. We are afraid to settle. We do not want the norm. We want to be different, we want to be unique and we want to stand out. We are exceptional, ultra-chic with post-modern-haute-couture clothing, extravagant home, lavish banquets and sensational car. We have "mega", "super" and when we run out we'll surely come up with something to diminish the power of "absolutely" in front of the meager "stunning". Or will we?

At what point do we realize that it's a losing battle? At what point will someone stand up and say they liked the movie just as it was? When do we watch sport because of the beauty and grace inherent in it, and the work and dedication it takes to perform it? When will we realize that making the same delicious pie the same way your grandmother made all those years ago does not need to be outdone, that it is fine the way it is, that exceeding is seldom privilege and that living a life is to add to our collective mediocrity. It is natural to want to repeat that which is good, to keep it good and not to trivialize its worth by artificially pushing it into insignificance through attacking it's prominence. In truth, that which is now ordinary, in the scope of our humanity, is boundless in exception and achievement to the mediocrity of millennia past. We need not resort to the banal, thirsting for "truly fantastic", "super-sized" and "grand". The building blocks of our language, our words, do not need that shame and I will stick with a good movie, a better idea and the best pie my money can buy.
"Going Green" and the Trivialization of the Conscientious Ecologist Jul. 14, 2007 In the recent months and years, the topic of protecting the environment, reducing pollution and toxic emissions has gone from being the subject of oft-called fringe environmental fanatics to being the hot topic du-jour. Not a day goes by without "experts", politicians and even daytime talk-show hosts proselytizing the virtues of environmental conscientiousness, toppling over each other in the frantic exercise to alert us, their dear, direction-bereft consumers and constituents, of our nature-destroying ways.

Allow me to preface all this by saying that those who know me, know my fringe-fanatical inclinations; not in the sense that I preoccupy my speck of the world with the relentless pursuit of environmental harmony, but that I'd much rather do my part for the crazy-club than wish somebody else dealt with the problem.

The thunderous arrival of the environmental hot potato was inevitable, and now that it is here, everyone is clamoring for a bite of its predictably acrid yet unexpectedly sweet nectar. It appears people do, in fact, care to hear and learn and act for the sake of our good natured Mother Earth. All isn't without merit, of course, people spent decades trying to explain to us the consequences of our errant ways, and it is about time we listened and did something about it.

I am amused when thinking of the challenge our popular media, our politicians, TV stations, the puppet-masters of humanity's comedy faced when confronted with the reality of our environmental problem. It's not that they didn't know how to present a sad, sordid, depressing story, nor that it wasn't for a good cause, but what was the urgency? When could they dictate to us when to expect the unexpected? What heroes could we rely on to enshrine in a new category of honorifics and adulation? Will the ice melt tomorrow? Can we call the Enviropolice for a press conference in front of microphones and concerned citizens asking questions from the back of the elementary school classroom designated as headquarters for the looming catastrophe? Fear not, consumers and constituents, the solution is far more cunning. Somebody, somewhere, realized the potential for the story which has no finality, which is an endless, bottomless pit of news, hysteria and accolades. I am only waiting for the rousing music and immersive graphical titles to roll onto CNN announcing the start of their next segment: War on Pollution, daily at 8pm.

Until then, the sharply witted PR intern that is probably equally responsible for gems such as "blog", "Web 2.0" and "metrosexual" has come up with an incredible new strategy, and a hip 21st Century term for it: "Going Green". I must admit the first time I heard it I did not think twice, my consumerist idleness allowing this new ploy to work itself into my subconscious. In fact, I began to hear it all the time, each instance with more zeal. Everyone is "Going Green". What a fantastic thing to hear! Every evening a new corporation, your local community, your favorite actor - they are all "Going Green"! It's the sound of a million news stories waiting to be told, to announce when and how someone I absolutely must know about has taken this course of action. It's the new vehicle to admiration and forgiveness for your past environmental sins. You spilled toxins in the lake? You never recycled your beverage bottles? You didn't even know you can recycle your canned food containers? Just "Go Green". Things will be OK. If you're famous, it won't just be OK, they will have you on the evening entertainment news, people will listen to you at concerts and nod their head when you explain how you will right your wrongs.

What happened to the fringe environmental fanatic? Where is his seat at this new party? He tried to "Go Green", but he didn't have anything to show for it. She already recycled everything she could. He made sure to buy just the size of car that suited his needs. They worked through their summer to plant trees, raise awareness and argued with your politicians to spend money on studying the climate. They "Went Green", but the Evening News wasn't there to notice. The TV station is now busy showing me the latest multi-national, century-old corporation I should admire because yesterday they told the press they are "Going Green".

And so this remarkable movement, the awareness and actions that have been brought forth through years of hard work by climatologist and environmentalists, researchers and unpopular politicians has been turned into the latest concoction for us to consume, trivialized with a new buzz-phrase and its analysis in popular culture stifled and placated by the presence of a superficial feel-good formula. I can only hope the forgotten, conscientious ecologist "Stays Green".
Upcoming opinion piece Jan. 28, 2007 My opinions, like wine, ferment for a while. Hopefully they clear up nicely and get better with age.