Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Just Not Cool

I’ve written it on this blog in the past, and I firmly believe it’s true— that there’s a high school analogy for everybody and everything in life. This is why I don’t understand the difficulty that media pundits and everybody else seems to encounter when they try to describe Mitt Romney, and try to explain his struggle in the Republican primaries. We know exactly who Mitt is, and we know everything about him. We know because we went to high school with someone just like him.

He was the rich kid. Not only did he come from a wealthy family, but he was the best looking and best dressed boy in school. For this reason, he could get a date with any girl in school, but the really bright, high-quality girls never went out with him more than once. When asked about it by their girlfriends, they would only say, “He’s just not cool.” He drove a new convertible every year, but those same bright, high-quality girls would never ride in his car because they didn’t want to be seen with him. He went out for every sport, but never lettered. Nevertheless, he always wore a letter sweater (even without the letter) because he thought it looked cool.

He was the guy who would buy you a candy bar at lunch time if you would sit with him in the cafeteria (not cool), and he would buy your entire lunch plus a soda pop if you would vote for him in the election for class president. So he became the class president, simply because he had the money to buy lunches and sodas for everybody, but he never could buy enough goodies to ever become what you could truly call, “popular.” Classmates were willing to sell their votes, but not their friendships.

Without his money and fine clothes and good looks, he would have been called a “loser,” but we all know that in this life, nobody gets labeled “loser” if they have a lot of money. That’s what big money does for you. But all the money in the world can’t buy the image of “cool.” That’s Mitt Romney’s fundamental problem. He’s just not cool. There’s a word for guys like him, and you don’t hear the word used often enough. Mitt Romney is “smarmy.”

Monday, March 5, 2012

We’re Doomed, But Not by the Asteroid

NASA announced last week that they’ve found a good-sized asteroid on a trajectory that could impact earth in 2040, but by then it may not matter. Our planet is running out of everything but human beings. Fresh water, edible fish, petroleum, and land suitable for agriculture— these are only four items on a seemingly endless list of resources that are essential and finite, but rapidly diminishing. And make no mistake about it, competition for these scarcities has absolutely become a zero-sum game played out between the nations and cultures around the globe. For maybe the last century or two, this has always been the case (to a lesser degree), but until recently the winners in this game could keep their good fortune off the radar as their own dirty little secret— somewhat hidden and unknown to those who were losing out. But those days are gone. Now, with ubiquitous social media and telecommunication, everybody knows what everybody else has got.

For 30 years or more, Americans have been spoon fed on the mythological crapola that much of the world hates us because of our freedom. The real truth is that much of the world hates us because we have the disproportionate lion’s share of access to fresh water, petroleum, and good fertile cropland. Individual freedom in America isn’t a threat to anyone, but the prospect of losing out to a more powerful player in a zero-sum game is very much a threat.

This competition to see who gets the right to deplete the planet’s scarce resources is being played out against the backdrop of an even bigger problem— exponential population growth. In my lifetime (the last 70 years) the global population has more than tripled, going from 2 billion to 7 billion. Current educated estimates put the population at 9 billion within 15 to 20 years, and probably at 10 billion by 2040 when the asteroid may or may not stop the growth permanently. For those who are mathematically ignorant and who don’t understand exponential growth, here’s a little fact. There are more people alive today than the number of people who have died since the dawn of the human race 100,000 years ago. To put it another way, more than half of all the humans who have ever walked the earth are alive and walking the earth today.

Faced with the biggest problem to confront mankind in all of history, the last 10 days in America witnessed something truly remarkable. Two influential institutions came together. The political ideology that gave us Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush, and Rush Limbaugh teamed-up with the Italian religion that gave us 1000 years of unchecked child sex abuse, and together they came out against what they consider to be the scourge of modern mankind. They pooled their mutual influence and collective animosity to oppose— drum roll, please— CONTRACEPTION!!!

It just makes you weep with frustration and disappointment. We’re doomed, and not because of the asteroid..