Friday, February 10, 2006

I'M HAVING A POP CULTURE MOMENT -- AND SO SHOULD YOU!

I'M HAVING A POP CULTURE MOMENT -- AND SO SHOULD YOU!

I sometimes now work on a Wintel machine. Our friend Bruce Faber felt I should have one to go with the half-dozen Macintoshes of varying vintage we have in our house, and since I do dialup still, and it has a 56K modem, it's what I use most for getting online.

So I'm getting used to what Windows offers folks with these basic boxes. One thing I enjoy is the ability to rip my CDs into my computer (no, I don't have an iPod yet, either... but my birthday's in August). I play everything on shuffle, so I never know what I'll get.

For some reason today the stretch of music was particularly great, even if it's stuff you may not have spent a lot of time with. In sequence I found five songs I had to play louder than I normally would... "The Guitar," from the Apollo 18 collection by They Might Be Giants... "Cry Love" from John Hiatt's greatest hits collection... "Common People," from William Shatner's brilliant Has Been... "Second Guessing" from Jonny Lang's equally brilliant Wander This World... "See Emily Play" from Pink Floyd's Relics... and "Untamed Girls" from Chain Gang of Love by the Raveonettes. And the sun's even out today! Man, if I only had a job (although I did apply to Holland America Line for a copywriter slot today, and boy, am I perfect)!

And then, tonight... tonight on TV is even cooler. Okay, there's the string of shows on the SciFi Channel that we now watch religiously, most cool of which is Battlestar Galactica. But tonight add Fox's two-hour, four-episode sendoff of Arrested Development, the best comedy show since Seinfeld. And now I see that Turner Classic Movies is showing three great Kubrick films in a row... 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lolita, and, one of my Top 10 of all time films, Dr. Strangelove (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb). If we didn't have four televisions, three working VCRs, and two TiVos... I don't know what I'd do. All I know is that this is a good night to sit down with a pizza and just be glad for people who are smarter and more clever than me.

One more thing, if you want to truly live the Mike Flynn experience this weekend: Tomorrow at 2 pm EST, 11 am PST: George Washington University's men's basketball on ESPN2. GW is ranked eighth right now, which is higher than it's been since the 1950s. The team is led by Pops Mensah-Bonsu, and it's a fast, well-coached, fun team to watch, even if you're not a huge basketball fan (which, for instance, I'm not). If they go far into the NCAA tournament, maybe people will finally be able to understand I didn't go to Georgetown!

Anyway, it's a fun weekend... and you don't even have to watch the winter Olympics!

4 comments:

frankpoor said...

A dozen or so years ago I picked George Washington to upset "two seed" Arizona in the tournament, but they were denied that exposure when little Santa Clara and Steve Nash beat them to it. Still, they made it to the sweet 16 that year so
some of us have known who they are for awhile now. I know you've decided to
immerse yourself in pacific northwestern sports fandom, so how is it you
have not yet made the pilgrimage to Spokane to see the Zags! Do you know how
many guys in a five square mile radius of this keyboard would kill to be
less than 300 miles from the brand new McCarthey Athletic Center?!!! How is
it you've managed to deny yourself the closest thing that area has to
Nirvana since...oh well, you know.

Anyway, it was nice to see something on your site about a sport other than
Baseball. Given that then NFL's tendency to have a preferred outcome in it's
big games was exposed in a really obvious way last week and the team that
was cheated out of a victory in front of (practically) the whole nation
plays in your city, you think you might have mentioned it (even if only to
gloat that MLB hasn't fixed a World Series since the one played in 2000). I
personally wonder if local TV Sportscasters have been as fired up about the
whole thing as I am? Of course, not having a Satellite dish, I have no way
of knowing. And since there has been so little outrage even in the
blogosphere, I may actually post something about it to my own blog!

And since you still have not conceded our little wager (remember, you said:
"Show me a more powerful message than the Golden Rule and I'll root for the
Mets."); I tried to end it honorably in a letter rather than in public in
your blog. It seems you leave me no choice.

IMHO, Rene' Descartes': "I think therefore I am" is a far more powerful
statement than "the GR". But when I think about you, I usually think about
the "you" I knew back in the seventies and eighties when you were a rabid
Yankee fan. It seems to me, that if I think about those Yankees and their
owner George Steinbrenner, "the GR" simply does not apply to the way they played,
the way the fans treated the other team, or Steinbrenner's relationship with his managers. And better yet, would you have ever been as passionate a fan of the Yanks if they had used "the GR" as their guiding principle. I really
don't think so.

In fact, if I had to pick a statement to describe Steinbrenner, the Yankees
and their fans, I'd pick what is probably the polar opposite statement. It
was first made famous by renegade NFL owner Al Davis. "Just Win...Baby!!!"
It doesn't matter how. The only thing that matters is how often. Get every
player, even if it's only to make sure Boston doesn't. Sorry, that doesn't
sound like "the Golden Rule". And if you had to pick a team that DID use
"the GR" to guide how they played, well the Red Socks (1918-2003) seem to fit the
bill better than anybody (except maybe the Cubs). If "the GR" is such a
powerful statement, why did you have to move 3000 miles to change your
aberrant behavior? Oh, wait a minute, I forgot how pissed you were when the
Mariners banned "Yankees Sucks" tee shirts inside Safe Co. See, the Mariners
get it about "the GR" even if some transplanted New Yorkers don't. Very
successful franchise, aren't they.

I know I picked sports, but it's as bad or worse in business where
practicing "the GR" is a sure ticket to early retirement. I can guarantee
you, "the GR" rarely crossed my mind as I was driving my cab looking for a
fare; when I actually got a passenger the fact that I did practice it with
him/her had virtually no effect on my tips. Even Google (who's motto: "Don't
Be Evil" is a step in the right direction away from "the GR") is getting
slammed as we speak. Talk to the most powerful, influential self-made people
in this country and asked them how they got that way. I don't know what each
of them will say, but when they stop talking I can guarantee you will not be
able to fit what you just heard easily into "the GR". GWB, Karl Rove, Bill
Gates, Donald Trump, Roger Clemens, Billy Martin none of them followed "the
GR" as their personal guide to fame and fortune. In fact the only powerful
famous person I can think of who does is Oprah.

So there you have it. Not one, but three statements: "I think therefore I
am", "Just Win...Baby!!!" and "Don't be Evil"; each in it's own way a more
powerful, relevant statement than "the Golden Rule" is to life today. That's
my argument, what say you?

I believe the word you're searching for is...UNCLE!

No Mike, I don't expect you to have a response to this, and I don't expect
you to start rooting for the Mets. Just show up at one Mets game this coming
season wearing a Mets cap, a Mets tee-shirt and one of those big orange #1
foam rubber fingers and have your picture taken at the game. Then run it in
this Blog under this headline...


"Next Time I'll THINK Before I Post"


I know you're not a welcher...ARE You? Don't Be Evil.

Mike said...

Sorry to disappoint one of my four regular readers, but most of the sports that will ever be covered at Weird Tales of the Untrue and Mostly Facetious will be baseball. That's primarily because baseball is the sport that I live for. It's the most interesting sport, it's the most fun to play, it can be played professionally by guys of most any size (two names: Ichiro Suzuki and Bob Wickman), and, frankly, I just can't follow more than one professional sport closely.

The reason I wrote about the GW basketball team has less to do with any affection I have for college sports (for the most part, I believe college sports should be done away with in favor of additional library purchases and lab time for undergraduates) than it does for the fact that the value of my degree (sadly) does rise with the fortunes of GW's sole big-time sports program. Secondarily, one grows tired of folks confusing George Washington University with Georgetown. (I can only shudder in empathy for matriculates at and graduates from George Mason University in nearby Virginia.) (Less so, however, after GMU withdrew an invitation to Michael Moore primarily because he's liberal.)

The folks out here seem very excited about the Gonzaga team, and I'm personally looking forward to a bracket matchup that might bring the Zags against the Colonials, if only to see whether either, neither, or both has been misranked by the sports authorities. GW beat Maryland earlier this year, but apparently everybody is beating Maryland this year, so, while a GW defeat of Maryland always thrills me (I went to college during the Lefty Drisell era, just prior to the death of Len Bias), it is apparently no real indication of GW's strength. (In fact, the broadcasters of Saturday's game pointed out that of the 344 Division I colleges, GW's schedule was about the 320th toughest.)

I wish roller derby was back, though (real roller derby, with men and women). And I'll always root for the New York Rangers and New York Giants (and whichever team other than Dallas that Bill Parcells might coach).

Now, as for the Golden Rule. You and I just are not going to agree, and I won't especially agree with you on your three options for more powerful phrases.

In order:

"Cogito ergo sum." Granted, a very powerful argument, and your best challenge. Not only does it state that consciousness creates being, but it implies that with consciousness comes great responsibility. The problem is that this leads to solipsism. Solipsism can lead to Bad Things.

"Just win, baby." This is a Bad Thing to which "cogito ergo sum" can lead. The flaw with this philosophy is that it accepts that the Law of the Jungle should be applied to human interaction in both sports (which is where Al Davis and George Steinbrenner would embrace it), and, where you're implying, to life in general. The entire point of having sentience is to separate ourselves from the beasts and make not just rational decisions, but moral ones. Just so you know, not all morality is relgious.

Finally, you talk about "Don't be evil," which, until five minutes ago, I hadn't realized was Google's informal motto. Frankly, it's just another way of saying "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you," and therefore, I'm inclined to accept it.

Where you and I disagree is what happens outside of laboratory conditions. You correctly point out that people who have achieved "success" (which sounds to me as if you equate with either money or power) have never seemed to obey the golden rule. (Watching Google's share prices tumble this past week, it appears that we can add it to the stew.) But the flaw with this logic is accepting money and power as success. What if the glass is neither half-empty or half-full, but the wrong container for a sweater? That's what we have here.

If we all could adhere to the Golden Rule, the world would be a much better place. Of course, it might be two years instead of two months before the next big change in technology burst onto the scene, or we might find ourselves needing to find places to house the millions who won't be killed by evil scumbags this year, but that's okay.

If you're going to look at money and power as the way to measure things, I can counter with an even more powerful phrase: "We disagree with you, and we have nuclear weapons."

But to change the world for good, that phrase is about 178 degrees in opposition.

Now, as for this Mets thing: Let's accept that I now root for the Mariners even ahead of the Yankees (disappointing many of the friends with whom I grew up, including my oldest pals Joe Confreda and Tommy D'Agostino, as well as my pal from JHS 127, Mike Udolf). But for me to root for the Mets...? You might as well ask for my right leg.

frankpoor said...

Mike, Mike, Mike…you’re confusing the issue. The idea is not to find an ideal way to live or a more perfect philosophy. The issue is answering the challenge you posed; and that was: “Show me a more powerful message than the Golden Rule”. Now if I succeed in doing that you offered to root for the Mets. I never asked you to root for them. You offered. Unless you also plan on never admitting defeat, which would make your offer less than sincere, something an honorable man would never do, you are bound by your word to root for them once I defeat you. Besides, if you were arguing in favor of “the Golden Rule” being the most powerful statement in the known universe and then behaved in a manner that I never would (well, not in the past 25 years anyway), a manner in which I would certainly never treat you…wouldn’t you be making my point for me? Therefore I certainly hope you’ll stay open to agreeing with me.

There are a lot of ways for me to win this argument but since I’m still a lovable but obnoxious kid at heart, I’ll use your own previous statement to defeat you.

In the second paragraph of your 12:39 PM post you bemoan your fate as a GW grad forever having to explain that you didn’t go to Georgetown. What do you say is the best remedy for this…VICTORIES!! “…the fact that the value of my degree (sadly) does rise with the fortunes of GW's sole big-time sports program…” those are your words are they not. I believe that you are referring to the real world here not some imaginary laboratory, and in this real world you feel that it is a “FACT” that your degree is worth more when GWU wins. Of course this really can’t be true. Your knowledge, intelligence and ability to do the job have nothing to do with how well your old school performs on the Basketball court…except for one minor thing…IT DOES. You said so. Not me, you did.

In the real world, which should never be confused with some sterile environment; currency matters. It’s how the real world measures things. And by currency I don’t mean money. Popularity is currency. Power, knowing the right people, being able to get a table…you can’t spend it, but they are all a form of currency. The guy living in a cardboard box outside this building might be much nicer much more decent guy then the one who lives in the penthouse…nobody cares. That’s not the laboratory Mike and nothing either of us could do is going to change the simple fact that having currency is better than not having it. And a degree form GWU will open a few more doors in April than it will right now if they pull off one of the biggest upsets in history and win the NCAA tournament simply because most people would rather be surrounded by winners than losers (even though you did nothing to directly contribute to the victory it has an intrinsic benefit to you)…at least, that’s the argument you’re making, so guess what? We agree!!!

If victories aren’t important why do they keep score? It certainly has nothing to do with anything important like treating people well? Maybe treating people well is less important than you think it is? Are you open to that?

Would the world be a better place if we all lived by the Golden Rule…I don’t know if you can say so for sure. Would athletic competition have the same excitement surrounding it? Probably not. If you got the best looking girl you knew into bed (oh, I forgot, you did) would it seem like as big an achievement? Hell, even I’d be able to get laid as often as I wanted to. The question is if that were the case, would I still want to.

Mike, you’re married to a smart, beautiful woman that makes you the envy of many thinner men. Would it be a better world if you were married because you didn’t want to hurt each other’s feelings? Is that a secure basis for ANY but the most superficial relationships?

Argue all you want that the laboratory would be better than the world…you’re wasting your time. We don’t live in a laboratory and we’re not moving the world to one anytime soon.

In the real world victories are always better than defeats, championships are always better than victories and dynasties get laid whenever they want. I don’t like it. But that is the way of the world. And simply accepting it and getting down to whatever you’re going to do beats the shit out of the old…oh woe is me song and dance. In the real world, the Golden Rule only applies to waiters. You treat them well so they don’t spit in your food. That’s the only real world application of the Golden Rule that still holds true, and it only holds true because waiters have power. If waiters had no power they’d be cabbies.

When I think of Republicans I think Al Davis, I do not think Jesus (pretty funny when ya think about it). But once they win (baby) they have no idea what to do because they hate government. They love power, they want to rule! Majority Rule!! That was the battle cry of those who called for the “nuclear option”. But this is a democracy. You don’t rule it you govern it. They use religion to help them gain and keep power; of course I know that there is a difference between religion and morality. The Republican Party is very religious and not at all moral. As far as I’m concerned, those two terms are diametrically opposed.

But the world would be a better place if the Democrats were a little more like Al Davis and a little less like Jesus. There are still zero-sum games in the real world and politics is the biggest. Treating GWB with respect was just dumb. If the Democrats want to have an impact on this country’s political landscape they better stop trying not to offend people and give them what they crave; real leadership. Carville knew that. The next person who runs a Democratic presidential campaign had better take a page out of his playbook, and throw the last two away. Or we will surely be bemoaning this same thing in 2008.

And that is why “Just Win Baby” is a far more powerful statement than the Golden Rule. More powerful today and more powerful in the future; in the real world anyway.

And if your going to dismiss Descartes just because it can “lead to bad things” don’t I get to dismiss everything in the bible for the same reason. And as for “Don’t Be Evil”, to say it’s the same as “the GR” is to take a very simplistic view of the world, so you’re consistent if incorrect (again). For instance, you may treat others the way you would want them to treat you, perhaps you’re the most benign factory owner in America in terms of how you treat your workers. You treat them great and they love you. But, you dump raw sewage into the river that runs next to it. I don’t believe that the Golden Rule covers fish, water or the environment in general. “Don’t Be Evil” does. Would you really like a more through explanation of this (it’s not like I’ve got anything better to do).

So Mike, if I have a message here, it’s be more careful what you write. If you had written anything other than…I’ll root for the Mets; I’d have let go of this a long time ago. That was a chalenge I just couldn’t pass up!

And while we’re on the subject of a month old post; you wrote: “Hindu; Hebrew or Muslim, what we're all arguing about is which shade of blue we're looking at”. Once again, very simplistic perspective. Jews don’t believe in Heaven, Muslims believe if they kill Jews they will go there. That’s a fundamental difference much more nuanced than “is it turquoise or is it teal”. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion so that fundamentally distinguishes it from the other two. BTW the shade of Blue I’m most interested in seeing you in? That would be Royal Blue (as in Mets Blue).

And FYI. When you wrote: “Just because they believe they're right and they need to save you and me by imposing their belief system on us doesn't mean that I should try to do the reverse.” That was a low blow, because that is NOT what I’m doing and you know it.

And BTW: William ‘the refrigerator” Perry, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Archie Griffin and Billy “white shoes” Johnson all had vastly different body types and all enjoyed NFL success. Steve Smith isn’t very big but he won Howie Long’s “tough guy” award and comeback player of the year this year. I don’t think the fridge could have played major league baseball. I don’t think he could have run 90 feet without collapsing.

Mike said...

*sigh*

If I thought people were reading this, I might give it another go. I'm most offended by the fact that I appear unable to clearly state my position.

So here's my compromise (and I'll go find a Mets cap and send you a photo of me in it... but not one of those crappy black Mets caps with the blue lettering, a perversion of the Mets uniform, just like half of the major league baseball teams are perverting their uniforms by including black in them, or, worse, selling caps in red, pink, and yellow when your team colors are navy blue or royal blue): In today's world, which is a perverse, horrible, evil, awful, putrid disaster, "Just Win, Baby" is DEFINITELY the most powerful phrase.

However, if you want to change the world, make it a better place, and turn human beings into something more useful than cannon fodder, disposable employees, and potential victims of scumbags, rapists, serial killers, and evil despots, the Golden Rule is still It.

One more thing: You take me to task for inflicting a low blow on you, and I want to clarify that. That statement was not intended to be about you in any way. I know you're not imposing your thoughts on me (or anyone); we're just having a discussion. But there are folks out there who are... they are instigating fatwas and book burnings and worse.

Now... let's talk about something important. Like Cheez Whiz. Or BEAUTY AND THE GEEK.