Choices People Make

This post is kind of hard to write. I am making the point that some things are inherently better than others. In doing this, I am claiming my membership in the “elite” class so many people wish to dismiss. Indeed, I am asking to be “owned” as a card-carrying lib.

First, let me address something that I hope is local to Appalachia, though I fear it has spread across much of the country. I think those who participate in, and attend “Toughman” competitions, represent a failed class of humanity. A bit of explanation, in case these events are not universal. These are competitions where untrained amateurs put on boxing gloves, and go and whale away on opponents who are likely as unskilled as they are. In between rounds, examples of Daisy Mae femininity parade around the ring, holding up the round numbers. In one fell swoop, this commercial enterprise manages to denigrate both the men and women of Appalachia, as only being capable of serving as cannon fodder or as sex symbols. Since these events have survived for decades in this market, I believe they serve to confirm the stereotypes hung on the residents of this region.

I believe classical music and jazz represents a higher capability when compared to rap, hip-hop, and country music. It is harder to make the notes on the scores come to life when you compare classical to these other forms, and as such, I believe it is better to have one’s music come from the classical repertoire. For jazz, the writing is minimal. You must internally improvise the chords and harmonies. Certainly you can write a memorable song only using 3 chords. But that does not mean you are a musician.

I believe most television is aimed at the lowest common denominator. Certainly the plethora of reality television shows represent some of the worst of humanity. Anything that allows mankind to exist vicariously and enable people to feel either envy at the lifestyles of celebrities, or wishing they had the physical abilities on certain reality shows, those shows further the misallocation of mental resources made possible by visual media. The popularity of TikTok videos, in five second increments, shows how the diminishing of the attention span is progressing quite well.

Even in our choice of weaponry, we seem to want to reduce our functioning capability while increasing our dependence on technology. Whereas shooting sports used to require skill, and superb hand-eye coordination, now we just get a semi-automatic weapon, point, and shoot aimlessly. Perhaps we are fortunate in that simply spraying bullets is normally less lethal than someone who is trained on their weapon. Let me just say that I do not measure my worth by the number of weapons I keep around the house. Those who seem to live in a permanent state of paranoia of the “government” coming to take their weapons are inferior to those who want to live in peace among their neighbors.

Let’s see, whose oxen can I gore now? We could talk about all of those who feel a perfect monoculture of grass is the highest form of landscaping possible. The ones who keep the landscape companies in business applying endless quantities of fertilizer, herbicide, and insecticide all aimed at turning suburbia into a boring sea of grass. They are the ones who on a small scale are responsible for the loss of pollinators and birds we see around us. They will never have the joy of watching naturalized crocus bloom in their lawn as a harbinger of spring every year.

To all who not only are incapable of understanding scientific principles, but actively work at diminishing them and proselytizing against them, you have my scorn. It is amazing in this day we are still seeing state legislatures devoting time and effort towards implementing intelligent design (ID), but that is the current condition in West Virginia, where the ID camel has stuck its nose in the legislative tent. Of course, research has found a higher death rate in the counties where science denialism is more widespread as compared to those counties repudiating those anti-intellectual beliefs. Only a few more generations and mankind may evolve towards a belief in science. Too bad we have to deal with the idiots in charge in the interim.

I believe the underlying cause for all of the issues I’ve identified is money. People go where the money is. And unfortunately, people are willing to spend money on those things which tend to feel good, but don’t last when looked at from afar. If people didn’t buy rap or hip-hop, we would not find it infesting our culture. If there wasn’t peer pressure to maintain a “perfect” lawn, lawn chemical companies would find more useful ways to serve society. If people stopped contributing money to those hypocritical politicians who give voice to populism, but really just want tax breaks for wealthy people, then we might get a political class that wants to solve real-world problems. I am not holding my breath waiting for sanity to sweep over this land.

Some of these distinctions are real, and cause much of the division between people we find in society today. Some seem like minor irritants (like reality TV – no one is making you watch that). But there is a deeper meaning to be found in people’s preferences. In most cases, people go for the easy solution. That is a primary reason why people find it difficult to postpone gratification and save for the future. If you are lucky, you will win the lottery and never have to worry about the future.

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