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We at the Chipmunk Party hold these self evident truths:
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The Chipmunk Party platform welcomes immigrants of any species to this land but recommends that they leave their foreign ideologies, institutions, and ways of life behind them, and become real Americans by adopting wholeheartedly the chipmunk way of live.
I dislike entertainment. I can’t stand entertainers and I know what I am talking about. I used to be one of them. I don’t mind being entertained, inadvertently by something I notice around me, something that was not intended to be entertaining, and most of what I observe around me every day is actually very entertaining. What I dislike is people setting out deliberately to amaze me, to make me laugh or cry or forget my troubles. It is part of my resistance to being manipulated, and it seems to be the very purpose of that mind-numbing Tsunami of information and artifice that engulfs us every minute of our lives. While not very long ago people sought to be entertained after their workday or work week, wishing to relax with some mindless fluff, or wishing to escape their misery with some compelling distraction, today we are being entertained not just during work, but during every other activity, from going to school, engaging in politics, or doing business.
Consider a business consulting meeting without some pre-planned well-timed jokes, visual razzmatazz, and some very entertaining group activities. It just couldn’t happen. You want to find out what happens in the world, and you get actors (what else are “anchors”?) presenting you with little featurettes with dramatic musical background. You drive to work with Vivaldi. You surf the net instead of working at the office and pick up the latest moronic YouTube joke or celebrity gossip. Literature is reduced to a Tweet.
The “arts and entertainment” industry is no longer limited to films and TV and musical acts and the odd Broadway show we might take in while on a rare visit to New York. Today the industry is run by conglomerates that also control news, information, and politics, and who apply the same manipulative production principles to all forms of information exchange. The purpose of information is no longer to enlighten but to distract. By concentrating all forms of human communication in just a handful of corporate entertainment centers we have now succeeded in filling every waking minute with distracting content that has a single purpose - to make us NOT think, to make us buy, spend, and toe the line.
Notice the term “Arts and Entertainment”. It is a telling emblem of what is happening to our culture. By lumping art, that timeless and sacred expression of our innermost vision, with the mindless diversions intended to make us forget reality, by merging them into a single field, the purveyors of culture have in fact capitulated to the gods of commercial success. No matter how sophisticated a painter, choreographer, or novelist is, or is made out to be, the pipeline to his or her audience goes through those same boardrooms that hold absolute control of the culture “market”.
You can’t be successful without a Vaudeville act. An artist today faces a simple choice - to have an audience and be an entertainer, or to speak whatever unadorned truth or nonsense they manage to dredge up from deep within themselves and express it in total obscure isolation. There is no middle ground between these two choices, no compromise that doesn’t end up going through an entertainment boardroom.
If you think that avant garde art, the grunge stuff of starving artists in unheated garrets is immune, just step into the Armory Show, that annual extravaganza in New York City that brings together the most “provocative, off beat, and cutting edge…etc. etc.” merchants of art from around the world, and see if you don’t walk away from it with a dizzy headache and the kind of ringing in your ears that you would normally get from an auto trade show.
Today, more than ever in human history, what is sorely lacking is silence, empty space, information vacuum. But since most urban dwellers are unlikely to have the possibility of retreating to a mountain top or a monastery, and since “spiritual practices” like yoga and Tai Chi have been turned into “power practices”, quick and noisy, with the result of adding rather than reducing the stress and noise level, what can artists do to increase silence and empty space for society?
Staying silent may be the most urgently needed act for any artist. Creating in isolation, not seeking an audience may be second best. Eventually the tide must turn (as it always does). An art of silence may emerge, soundless music, blank slate art, motionless dance - the art of nothing.
How much music does an average American consume in an average day? Is there such a thing as musical overload, an auditory equivalent to overeating? What are the physiological and psychological symptoms of Musical Overdose (MO)? Are we in the midst of an epidemic that no one seems to have noticed? Is it a conspiracy (why not)? Should the Surgeon General prescribe a musical RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) that must appear on all CD labels? Besides, how do we measure musical intake anyway? Maybe we need some kind of listening calorie scale that factors in the musical style, the loudness in decibels, and the number of hours our eardrums and auditory cortex are inundated with deliberate or inadvertent musical assault. I say inadvertent because even if you are that rare unplugged specimen with no earbuds in your ears, you are still subject to secondhand inhalation.
I am in a coffee shop right now trying to write this piece on my laptop. James Taylor is singing on the house speakers and two ringtones (Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and Lady Gaga’s Just Dance) have chirped next to me in succession in the last two minutes. I can’t write or think with music in the background. The part of my brain designed to listen to music takes over and shuts down all other processing centers. So I escape to a nearby park, praying that my battery will last. I sit down on a bench but even before reaching for my laptop I hear this gargled distorted whine with an annoying steady beat. What the heck, in the park? I look around, and sure enough on the next bench over sits a guy listening to his iPod, on earphones! What I hear is just the exhaust fumes, the few high frequencies that manage to escape his earphones. He is sitting twelve feet away. I can’t imagine the assault on his nervous system that’s going on inside those ears.
You get the picture.
I enter a grocery store and am forced to listen to an ancient Frank Sinatra hit as I check the ripeness of an avocado (Take me to the Moon). I enter the lobby of the office tower on my way to my dental appointment to the strains of some generic Vivaldi (classy) then sit in the waiting room and forced to listen to some vintage Muzak (not so classy), my alarm clock doesn’t buzz, it plays music. The NPR news I listen to on my way to work punctuates the latest disasters from around the world with cheerful little music jingles, as if to underline the fact that we are inside some giant movie plot with a happy ending just around the corner.
What’s happening worldwide is not mere increased listening. It’s gorging, the stuff serious food addicts or junkies go to rehab for. The more we consume the less impact the music has. The more all-pervasive the musical experience becomes the blander it seems, and to keep getting that “hit” we crave, the music must get louder.
Measurements taken on dance floors have registered decibel levels equivalent to standing next to a full-throttled jet engine without protective headgear. Participants in Rock concerts actually “listen” with their entire body, not just their ears. The high volume speakers are intended to deliver physical vibrations to the whole body, like repeated punches to the stomach. Even your neighborhood movie theater, using Dolby high-octane surround sound delivers audio levels that would have sent your parents’ generation scurrying for cover.
The loudness per se would be less critical if we were subjected to it sparingly. Our ancestors enjoyed music in small doses, after work perhaps in the pub, during a celebration, or the occasional concert. Music appeared as a relief from everyday sounds, the sound of horse drawn carriages or barking dogs. It needed no boost to draw attention to itself. Today the everyday backdrop is all music, all the time, and everywhere. There are no more music-free spaces on earth except perhaps in the middle of the Pacific ocean. In this homogenous musical soup the only way to stand out is to be louder and more abrasive.
The ubiquity of music is only one of a host of other reasons why the decibels of music continue to rise to dangerous levels. Equally responsible is the general level of noise around us that desensitizes our hearing and makes us turn up the volume. In fact it is a classic feedback loop. The louder the music you listen to the more your brain lowers the sensitivity of the ear to protect itself, causing you to hear less and in turn raise the volume even more. This process has accelerated over the last few years with the near-universal usage of in-ear earphones for both portable music devices and cell phones. Numerous studies have linked rising hearing impairment in young adults to these devices.
Consider the fact that most people keep the earphones plugged in their ears while engaging in other activities like conversation, shopping, or riding the subway. Many of these activities take place in extremely noisy environments that compete with what you are listening to on your earphones. So you raise the volume even more. Listening to multiple loud sound sources that compete with each other is unpleasant in any circumstance, but having the ability to artificially intensify one of these signals without lowering the others is not only unnatural it is downright hazardous. Add the fact that in-ear earphones, the kind preferred by most users, act in the most egregious manner as far as our ear is concerned, in fact mimicking the act of someone shouting directly into your ear, something quite rare under natural circumstances, and doing so hour after hour, day in and day out, and you have a recipe for mass deafness.
Is there a ceiling, a cut-off point, a moment where some external force (perforated eardrums, bleeding, state regulation) intervene to impose a limit, perhaps restoring some islands of silence, or at least a greater scarcity of music, and more tolerable levels of listening?
To answer this question it might be enlightening to compare sound to speed. Leaving aside the speed of light that no one seriously contemplates approaching, speed of travel, by car or by air, does not really have natural limits that cannot be overcome by engineering. Theoretically you could build a consumer car traveling at 300 miles an hour (yes, without lifting off), or an airplane rocketing its passengers at Mach 3. The reason you won’t see anything approaching these speeds is not that they can’t be achieved but that external limitations make them either impractical or unlawful. What would be the point of manufacturing a passenger car that goes at airplane speeds when the road it would be traveling on has a speed limit of 65 miles per hour imposed by the state legislature? And the reason, at least the official reason, for this imposed limit is safety.
The same goes for sound levels. While music engineers and film producers may continue to raise the sound level until at 180 decibels your entire body will be shaking and your eardrums will pop out of your ears, there is no doubt that the ensuing mass deafness will be recognized by society as a health hazard and a ceiling will be imposed.
But you don’t need to go that far. Unfortunately, even at the average 100 db levels experienced right now in most earphones, an entire generation of humans in industrialized nations is going deaf, from both excessive impact on the body’s hearing mechanisms and overexposure to music.
I am eagerly awaiting the legislation that will designate a “music free” environment, first in public places and then gradually everywhere. I can’t wait for people to huddle around some illegitimate boom-box outside an office building, surreptitiously listening to some very soft music, looking furtively around like smokers.
And that Surgeon Genral’s white label on the front of CDs “This product may be dangerous to your health” is long overdue.
I am standing at the pickup counter of Peet’s Coffee, waiting for my “double-espresso-macchiato, long pull (for here, please)”. Amidst the soundscape of barrista calls and orders placed in an Italian patois at the cash register, I hear another fake Italian sound, the digitized sound of a Canzona for brass instruments by Giovanni Gabrieli piped in on the muted speakers to provide the upscale equivalent of 1960s Muzak. None of the patrons seems to notice. They are busily pawing their laptops/iPads/iPhones, oblivious to this surreal auditory mirage, a ghost, a Renaissance apparition floating in the air of a coffee shop on State street. I don’t blame them. Gabrieli himself would not have recognized his masterpiece.
We are the graveyard of great works of art. Here in our commercial paradise all immortal symphonies, paintings, and dramas find their eternal resting place, on T-shirts, ringtones, comic strips, mugs, and at Peet’s coffee shop. It’s not just Beethoven the dog or Mona Lisa with a moustache, more recent classics like Lucy in the Sky are now the ambience for buying broccoli at your local supermarket.
My espresso is still far in the future (it’s morning rush at Peet’s) so I cast my mind back to the lofty dome of the San Marco Cathedral in Venice where Gabrieli’s brass players are arrayed on the various balconies, creating their antiphonal splendor to the awe and amazement of the worshipers below. Given the choice would Gabrieli perhaps preferred the dust of history to this ignominious purgatory for his muse’s children? But then I don’t think they worried much about posterity in the 16th century. Worrying about their soul’s journey in the afterlife was work enough.
One thing though is crystal clear. The fate of all great works of art is to become back-end merchandizing. That’s our contribution to human history. There is a consolation here for mediocre artists like myself. At least our work will die along with us and never serve as the sound furnishings for lattes and broccoli.
And here finally is my espresso macchiato.
Every generation despises the music of its young. My grandparents’ idea of “good” music was the warblings of tenors in Franz Léhar’s operetta The Merry Widow, or the waltzes of Johann Strauss. My dad’s taste for the Charleston of the 20s sounded to them like “jungle music”. The opposite is not always true. Young people often take a benign outlook on their parents’ music, perhaps not in their teens but certainly as an expression of nostalgia in later years. Thus, my father although steeped in the European “jazz” music (he pronounced it “Jess”) of the likes of Django Reinhardt, he still enjoyed the sentimental crooning of tenors like Jozef Schmidt and later Mario Lanza.
When I in turn took a liking to Elvis, my parents could not fathom what a classical piano student could possibly find enticing in all this ugly “shouting and croaking”. Eventually they resolved the riddle by ascribing my taste in popular music to nothing more than rebellion, believing that I too secretly loathed it but pretended not to just to annoy them. In hindsight it’s strange that they picked on Elvis of all people, with his velvety voice and ridiculously wide vibrato, so reminiscent of the style of sentimental singing they adored. But then Jailhouse Rock wasn’t exactly The Student Prince. By the time the Beatles and Rolling Stones rolled by there was no more common ground between us, and the sad conclusion had to be drawn that “the young generation is simply going deaf”.
I was reminded of this earlier today while sitting in another coffee shop. It was a sunny day and I chose to sit outside enjoying another espresso, when the soft rock music on the speakers gave way to the most obnoxious repetitive electronic chord, incessantly repeated without change except for occasional undecipherable grunts in the background. I waited patiently for the chord to change, perhaps just modulate its loudness a bit. No such luck. Like a jack hammer or a very loud alarm clock, the chord continued hammering away at top decibels. I have no idea which Noize band it was. Perhaps the lyrics had some meaning (if you bothered to download and read them). I was never to find out any of these irrelevant questions. I left my coffee there and retreated to the safety of the honking horns of the street.
And I was painfully reminded of my dad.
As an opera buff in Vienna of the 1920s he once told me of his experience with a performance of Richard Strauss’s opera Ariadne of Naxos, one of the most lyrical and melodious of the composer’s works. My dad was a member of the Claque (the people given free tickets to clap and hoot and laugh in the appropriate moments). He remembered abandoning his station and escaping the opera house after the first act of Ariadne, standing in the rain on a street corner and savoring the noise of the traffic as a relief from the cacophony he endured indoors.
No one listening to Ariadne today could possibly find any shred of cacophony in it.
It was a disturbing thought. Was it possible that the anonymous jack hammer music I just escaped (that for all I knew went platinum and won a Grammy) is as meaningful to my daughter as the Beatles were to me? Was I listening to a masterpiece like Ariadne of Naxos and it was just my calcified ears and ancient tastes that missed the point, or was the travesty truly junk? This is of course an unanswerable question. You can never tell which music will be vindicated by the passage of time.
But one thing is certain, the young people who enjoy this kind of monotonous noise have musical tastes utterly different than mine, and the gulf is unbridgeable, as was my father’s with mine and his parents’ with his.
Image No. 1 - Sitting on a foot bridge over the roaring Housatonic (near my village of Lenox Dale) -
Swallows over the river feasting on mosquitoes, exhibiting agility, coordination in flight, eyesight power, precision, and elegance that can never be matched by humans in flying machines or with the most powerful scope on a hunting rifle. I realize that I am witnessing perfection that no human endeavor, no matter how exceptional, can ever match.
Image No. 2 - On the way back from the river -
A truck parked by a house in the village with a bumper sticker (which I had seen before on other trucks) showing a gaggle of geese, saying: “Shoot ‘em in the face”. I don’t know if this is a new slogan sponsored by the NRA or a campaign by PETA to kill hunters (unlikely). The sentiment however is clear either way, rage and violence of a species that shouldn’t be here and that deep down knows it.
Image No. 3 - On a side street up the hill to our house -
A bunch of young boys, maybe 6 or 7 years old, fully dressed in army fatigue and boots, with popguns made to look like assault rifles, enacting a battle - young human killers in the making (their parents clearly spent good money buying them the complete costumes and “weapons”).
It made me think ---
Unlike the swallows, we are a species ill-fitted to our environment. Our civilization and technologies can barely sustain us. For now we surround ourselves with artificial life-preserving inventions in lieu of evolutionary survival tool. We are a species on life-support. Consider each survival skill we DO naturally possess and it is clear that we fall far short of all other living things around us. We are slower, clumsier, more naked, less organized, more helpless, and less ingenious than the ants, birds, and chipmunks in our backyards. The species we do resemble are the ones that didn’t make it, the extinct ones, because they too were ill adapted to their environment. Perhaps they too in their time thought themselves invincible, though that is unlikely because the tragic ability to see ourselves is unique to us, humans. It is what literally sets us apart from the rest of life on this planet.
An objective look at ourselves inevitably will leave us with two choices: either we realize what an unequivocal flop we are in evolutionary terms, or else we make up stories. We opt for stories every time, because they make us feel better. It really doesn’t matter. In the end, it makes little difference how you feel when you are going extinct.
There is of course a third way, though I doubt we'd ever take it. How about a bit more humility? How about knowing your place as the new kid on the block? How about some respect for the tenants whose place this has been millions of years longer than our entire existence?
Could such a sudden realization perhaps sway even a murderous human to remove that bumper sticker from their truck, or encourage their little boys to go and observe the swallows from the bridge instead of pretending to slaughter their friends?
Ambition is good. It’s what fuels achievement. Greed on the other hand is definitely bad. No one ever willingly admits to being greedy. The distinction is more than mere semantics. An ambitious politician or CEO is rewarded with status, power and wealth. Bill Gates is not greedy for money. Neither was Bill Clinton greedy for power. The popular spin machine will have you believe that these ambitious men were solely driven by a desire to do good. Their sanitized biographies were meticulously scrubbed of the blemish of greed. We instinctively recoil from raw greed as if there was a cooked variety.
But the difference between the two is not as clear cut as you might think. Both ambition and greed are essentially desires to have what we lack. Both are forms of hunger or thirst. There is a reason why we describe those ambitious for power as power-hungry, and those craving knowledge as having a thirst for it. The analogy is apt. Deprived of nourishment or water we die. Deprived of the fulfillment of our cravings we die inwardly. It is no coincidence that the Protestant/Calvinist countries which raised hard work and the accumulation of wealth to be articles of faith, a sign of God’s favor, produced the greatest material benefits for the largest number of people the world has ever known, far greater than those societies that extolled the virtue of self denial or egalitarianism.
So maybe greed is not all that bad? Yet something in the word itself connotes more than mere hunger, more like a ravenousness, a craving without bounds that cannot be satiated. It is that lack of self-restraint that turns us off greed. Sanitize greed of this undesirable attribute and what’s left? Ambition, not the unbridled kind of course, but the more appealing disciplined thriving for a personal good that attempts to keep itself in check and keep the common good within its sights. This white-washed greed, masquerading as wholesome ambition, is what we have been fed for more than a generation now as the justification for deregulation, top-down economics, and the rest of the conservative claptrap. Let ambition loose unchecked and it will control itself. Yeah, for sure…
Aside from being disingenuous, this propaganda debases the very principles that should make capitalism work. By obfuscating the crucial difference between wealth as a fair reward for your labors and talent and the rampant grabbing we see all around us, justified only by what you can get away with, greed has been enshrined in our culture as an acceptable, even desirable, trait.
To be sure the bankers at Goldman Sacks did not invent greed. They are pigmies following in the questionable footsteps of rapacious greedy giants like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and the other robber barons of the 19th century. The American billionaire of today has a long tradition of greed to emulate. Then as now, a stigma was connected to their wealth, to wit the moniker “robber” they earned, and the violent labor protests they spawned as a reaction to their excesses.
The disingenuousness of the mega-rich in claiming to be merely ambitious, not really greedy has its counterpart disingenuousness in their political opponents. I wonder how many of the most vociferous anti-rich lefties would turn down trading places with the mega-rich should they be given half a chance? We live in a culture in which making as much money as you could possibly make, with total disregard to whether you need it, what you use it for, and the kind of effect it may have on others is accepted as more than OK. It is the new American Dream. What drives millions of parents to dress up their 4 year old daughters in obscenely provocative outfits, and train them like little monkeys to vie for a spot on a pageant? How about American Idol? Isn’t it a loud endorsement of the fantasy to join in the orgy of greed?
Once again, I find nothing wrong with the ambition to succeed financially, of vying to become rich enough to never have to worry about money, able to satisfy every need and luxury you desire, within the bounds of decency. The crucial question is, “when is enough enough?” At what point does the attainment of your dream become a disease?
Put another way, can ambition ever be unbridled? Can excess be subject to some limiting code that would make the very rich stay within it?
Of course you could legislate the code. Administer it from the outside. I don’t mean by the dictatorial methods of Communism. A democratic government has the power to limit the wealth of its citizens by levying such taxes that would ensure a ceiling that no one could exceed no matter how much they made. Norway is such a country. It is far from being Communist. It has a similar free market system to the United States, but its wealthiest citizens cannot be richer than a given amount (which by the way is extremely high, enough for them to earn many times more than the average citizen). Do the rich mind? Not a bit. In an interview on NPR, the head of the largest cell phone provider explained that the difference between what he could theoretically take home in the US and what he gets to keep in Norway is just a small price to pay for the kind of generous society he wants to live in. His “sacrifice” pays for social services that ensure that fewer citizens will turn to crime. “I pay for my daughter to be able to walk the streets safely. The average person in Norway feels fairly treated by society. My taxes contribute to that. And let me tell you by the way” he said with a chuckle, “I live very well”.
That could never happen in the United States. It just goes against the grain.
But legislating mega-wealth out of existence is not a real solution anyway. As great as the damage of income disparity is to the spirit of a nation the damage of setting up the mega-rich as the object of envy and an ideal to strive for is far greater. Unless the accumulation of obscene unnecessary wealth is seen for the grotesque behavior that it is the practice will continue to poison every aspect of our personal and social intercourse.
Unlimited unbridled accumulation of wealth by an individual is a mental disorder. Starting to see it that way is the only way in which this absurd behavior can lose its hold on the imagination of a nation.
To return to the metaphor of food and drink, you can love food without having an eating disorder. You can love to drink without being an alcoholic. The reason we know when someone has crossed that line is because we have identified that transgression as an illness. Being obese or bulimic is not something to criticize but something to treat. We have not always been as broad minded. Until recently “fat people” were blamed for their lack of restraint. Alcoholics were mere drunkards. It took much education for practically everyone to accept the view that these behaviors are fundamentally self-destructive expressions of an illness. The recognition that an eating disorder, just like Kleptomania, is something that the perpetrator is powerless to change on his or her own, ushered in interventions that though not always successful at the very least have changed our way of seeing them.
A person who already has a private jet who then goes out and buys three more (so as not to fall behind the competition) is likewise not a criminal to be heckled but a sick person who needs medical help. Perhaps starting a Billionaires Anonymous 12-step program would not be such a bad idea. Consider a wealthy woman living in a 20 million dollar home in Montecito California, with a 2,600 square foot bedroom, who decides that she needs a second shoe closet because the one next door to her bedroom (the size of a bachelor apartment) is too full. This is not luxury. This is gorging on money. Anyone envying (or aspiring to) such wealth is like someone envying a Bulimic who gorges herself on three tubs of ice cream at one sitting and then throws it all up. If this is enviable to you, you too need to see shrink. If you envy the lady in Montecito, ditto.
In fact the same principle is at play in both people suffering from an eating disorder and those suffering from an acquisition disorder. Neither the food nor the private jet have much intrinsic value. The behavior in both cases is compulsive. The person acquiring companies is like the person stuffing themselves and then throwing up. Both are sick.
The transformation of excessive wealth and conspicuous consumption from an object of envy and anger to an object of pity would have an inevitable effect of the sufferers themselves. A sense of shame associated with all mental illnesses would descend on the mega-rich as they try to get a grip on their obsession of earning and spending, or perhaps. like alcoholics, they would just pretend to do so. What a boon to an entire new self-help industry, a new branch of psychotherapy, “How to be less rich in seven easy steps”. Who knows, a new model for success may even arise from this, the modest movie star who lives in an apartment and drives a Toyota.
Oprah may just enjoy a bus ride.
“Anyone who hates dogs and little children cannot be all bad” (Leo Rosten about W.C. Fields)
The briefest explanation as to why I can’t stand dogs is that I can’t stand people, and dogs resemble people more than any other animal, far more than chimpanzees. I should qualify that statement; I can’t stand most people and dogs are definitely like most people. In fact I question whether they are animals at all. More like cloning experiments gone wrong.
Here is how you make a dog. You take a really weak and stupid wolf, lobotomize it, and genetically engineer what’s left to mimic the worst qualities of you, a human. It will automatically wag its tail every time it sees you, a veritable biological robot, just like you. You don’t wag your tail (at least not in public) but you automatically turn on that fake smile when your boss enters the room (and then call him an asshole behind his back). Your dog has been programmed to make you believe it loves you, just as you have been programmed to believe that the big dog (I mean god) in the sky loves you.
Just as the nicest family man can turn on a dime into a killer, the sweetest pooch will tear a piece out of your behind for no other reason than you passing by its yard. Forget electric fences. I can vouch for it being so from personal experience. Last year I was attacked by a Great Pyrenee whose owner was baffled why such a sweet doggie (weighing 95 pounds) would do such a naughty thing. My only provocation was to walk on the street nearby, and my bad luck was that it was a Great Pyrenee which I am told is amongst the stupidest and most vicious breed of this otherwise stupid and vicious species.
You want to understand the absurdity of war just look at what Man’s Best Friend has been bred to do. It has been programmed to defend its (your) territory. But like a Frankenstein monster its programming is out of control. You don’t need to invade its territory for it to lunge at you. It claims off-shore territorial and airspace rights that far exceed its owners boundaries, just like the United States. Anyone showing up on the horizon, regardless of their intentions, is fair game. Man’s Best Friend (and the United States military) may protect your territory but it keeps all the neighbors awake at night.
Like humans, dogs have very short memories. I mean how many times does the UPS truck have to show up in your driveway before your dog will finally just open one eye and say: “Ah, the hell with it, I’m tired”? A million times, a trillion? No such luck. The millionth time is like the first: “OMG, a truck! a brown truck! danger! Must chase it away, arf, arf, arf”. Dogs are born with Alzheimer’s.
Grown up women carrying these grotesque mutants in their handbags, nuzzling them and talking English to them like 2-year olds talking to their stuffed dolls, are an embarrassment. But then their IQs may not exceed their pets’ by much. “Hello lady, that snout you’re nuzzling was in a pile of shit moments ago”. I could never have any respect for a species that gets its information from piss.
Buying affection is another trait we bred into dogs. We have different ways to buy affection, with money, sex, perks, loyalty. With dogs it’s just food. Did you know that there are more dogs in America than citizens in Afghanistan, and their diet and healthcare are far superior.
But the worst trait that dogs picked up from their masters is the knack to pollute. Just walk any city street executing your slalom run between piles of excrement, or watch your backyard slowly turning into a cesspool, and you will be reminded of your fellow humans who for millennia defecated into their own water source (and some continue to do so in places like India and Africa). Leave a dog ungroomed for a while and it will degenerate into a walking stinking carpet. Why can’t they be like cats? Why can’t they at least clean after themselves? Have you ever seen a cat slobber all over you? But then cats can’t be programmed. Your cat owns you. Cats retain their dignity even if they depend on you feeding them, and unless you have de-clawed them, they could in most likelihood manage OK without you.
Not your dog. As I said, it’s not an animal. It’s your clone.
As dogs proliferate and more and more of people’s disposable income is spent on them what will happen once their numbers exceed humans’? Are we going to have a Dog’s equal rights amendment? Dog-enabled public transportation? Universal DogCare? A dog president?
I tell you, the world has gone to the dogs, as my father used to say.
The Kvetching Factory
"Start every day with a smile and get it over with" (W.C. Fields)