Things I Doubt

Why do you believe in God when you can’t see Him? The faithful respond with an analogy of a billion dollars: Most of us have never seen a billion dollars, but it would be foolish to entertain the notion that a billion dollars doesn’t exist just because we haven’t seen it.

Well I have a “billion dollar file” full of things I believe in even though I haven’t seen evidence of them. God’s in there. But it’s a rather slender file because I’m very slow to put things in there. And you know what? Sometimes I pull things out, and put them somewhere else. What’s listed below, is going somewhere else. I know there are a lot of loud and outspoken people who want me to keep them in the billion-dollar file. Those people have had a lot to do with those things coming out of the billion-dollar file, and being put somewhere else.

I’m all done believing in these things until I see some goddamned evidence.

1. Men who have problems with their wives making more money
I’m continually told this is a major cause of trouble in paradise, but I notice the people who tell me this are very seldom personally involved. In fact the only exception to that, is when it’s the wife who earned more…and in those situations it would be more accurate to say she had fantasies about earning more. Now, I’m a man. Having a wife or live-in who earned more than me, would be a real first-time experience. It strikes me, at first blush, as a rather pleasant change of pace. I know other men. None of them, not a single one, has demonstrated any attitude about this remarkably different from my own.

2. People who “are not ready for” a female and/or black President
Hogwash. This country is so incredibly divided right now, I daresay the most committed sexist or bigot is ready to vote for whoever will push the “right” ideas and whoever will reject the “wrong” ones. Whether the skin is the correct color…hey look. I know there are exceptions to everything. I know people can be incredibly simple-minded, and I know birds of a feather flock together. And I’m sure that kind of racism has been a huge wide-spread problem in times past. My point is, it hasn’t been statistically measured, it’s certainly been on the decline, logic tells us there are other issues that are more meaningful on a vote-by-vote basis, and we haven’t been tracking it. So, no. I think we’re ready, and I think the question is silly. You know how this started? Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman from a major party to run on a presidential ticket. Walter Mondale, with her, lost 49 states in 1984. This was taken as some kind of a sign of what we’re “not ready for” — and still is — even though Mondale was a complete putz with no more solid a platform than John Kerry 20 years later, and Ferraro was an annoying, shrieking shrew. It was my first vote, and Ferraro’s “plumbing” was the very least of my issues with her…trust me. This whole talking-point and all the rhetorical questions that go with it, are complete bullshit.

This is for you, Chiraq3. America squandering the goodwill of her allies
The stilted language, never wavering by so much as a syllable, makes me highly suspicious. For example, we never “exhaust” the goodwill or “make people regret” the goodwill; the verb is always squander. Seldom are the allies listed, and it’s easy to see why: It’s Canada, Germany, and France. Those who seek to persuade, once they listed these allies, would have no choice but to start pontificating what we would have to do to keep these folks as “allies” — and those things we would have to do, would have zip, zero, zilch, nada to do with doing anything bad to the bad guys we’re trying to take down. It is purely a sixties peacenik pacifist bit of propaganda masquerading as a legitimate argument. And here’s another thing: What benefits do we get out of having people as our allies, when they’re our allies only until we take steps to defend ourselves? What kind of ally is that? Pffft.

4. People who are tired of other people arguing
Bull. Shit. People who claim to loathe arguing, love it just fine as long as the arguer is arguing something they like, and attacking something they dislike. I’ve never seen that fail.

5. The Religious Right
I know there is one. I don’t believe they have any effect on our domestic or foreign policies. In fact, I don’t think they’ve had much effect for a very long time, certainly not compared to the effect our secular peaceniks have had. Not even close.

6. Saddam Hussein’s regime being harmless
Yeah yeah, you can’t prove a negative. Saddam Hussein was a druggie who flushed his weed before the cops broke down the door, except it wasn’t just drugs. Why should I believe he was “no threat,” just because it’s not possible to prove it?

7. College giving you a well-rounded education and teaching you to be tolerant of diverse viewpoints
This axiom has crumbled under the weight of its inherent silliness. I keep hearing it over and over again, and I keep seeing evidence to the contrary. I know what other folks want me to think, but eventually a fella has to place some importance on the things he’s been seeing. College grads and professors being tolerant of other points of view? Heh. Show me.

8. President Clinton “going after” the terrorists who would later cause 9/11 to happen
Don’t believe it.

9. President Roosevelt ending the Great Depression
Don’t believe it.

10. Drugs that make kids “do better in school”
So MANY of the parents that want to put the kids on these drugs, are moms. And SO many of the kids who are being considered for the drugs, are boys. It’s at least worthy of consideration, that the drug is being considered as a substitute for the activist parent being ready to empathize with their child, the way most parents would like to. There’s no evidence to directly contradict that, and if that’s what’s happening, I think that’s wrong. And there is so much nonsensical jibber-jabber going on before anybody undertakes to explain how the rug-rat will eventually be taken off the drug; a lot of said jibber-jabber has to do with one day being a functional employable adult, few would seek to assert functional employable adults need to take drugs in order to function. So “what’s the plan?” seems like the next logical question to ask. It’s easy to round up, say, ten different people who want to dope up the poor kid, and if you ask all ten of them that question, you’ll get back ten different answers.

11. Anthropological global warming
There is so much “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” going on here. How come techno-industrial elements are always to blame? There are more identified greenhouse gases than just carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Many of them are many times more effective as greenhouse gases, and discharged into the atmosphere at a greater volume. Methane, for example. Methane is an agricultural by-product. Now, you were saying something about cars? Factories? Pffft. Looks like a bunch of anti-American, anti-capitalist bullshit. Probably is.

Like a little boy or something12. Men who demand thin women
The fashion industry demands thin women, and all the men I know of who make the decisions there, are gay. Straight men like huge tits. Straight men think Marilyn Monroe’s torso looked a lot better than Keira Knightley’s. Almost all of them. Yes, there are exceptions, but all the exceptions I know of are part of the “I’m so sorry I’m a man, I’m thinking of becoming a vegetarian, I’m proud to be a male feminist, please tell me what to do” puppy-face peacenik crowd. They aren’t ready to dominate or coerce a woman anywhere into being a certain size or shape, and if ever they were to try to, she’d probably just clock ‘im. So, no. I don’t think women are being pressured into unhealthy, anorexic lifestyles by demands for more thinness from an antiquated, patriarchal society. They’re being pressured into it by the glossy pages of trendy teen magazines.

13. People who say they like eggplant
Until the day I get to interview someone one-on-one, and ascertain to my satisfaction they really do like eggplant and aren’t just trying to ingratiate themselves with others by pretending to like it, in my book they just don’t exist.

Update 10/07/07: After multiple e-mails from Phil, who at least tolerates eggplant, it occurs to me I should tack on an addendum since I’m professing a belief that people who like eggplant don’t exist. Well…you know, I could sit here all day long and list things I don’t think anybody likes, and if you have the time and energy you can probably find someone who likes anything I care to name, from venereal diseases to paper cuts on the tongue. Let’s say I doubt anybody would miss eggplant if it went away. They cook eggplant so that later on they can say “I cooked eggplant.” It’s a starchy side dish meant to fill the empty corners of your gut. It does exactly what baked or mashed potatoes do, for a nominally higher price, and with an exotic otherworldly slimy grit to it that I personally find to be more than a little odious. Yuck on the eggplant. Vile, vile eggplant.

14. Women who are attracted to men in touch with their feelings
When I was a relatively inexperienced young lad, I made a rather intriguing discovery about women, and it’s rather humbling to jot it down as if there was once a touch of irony about it — until you consider that today, a lot of people have yet to learn this. They are NOT all the same. Some women want to make love to men, some women want to make love to women, and there’s this third camp that has just exploded in number since about the early 1970′s…they want to be in a relationship with a man but they don’t want to be reminded — ever, if that’s possible — that a man is what he is. Horny young men don’t have a proclivity to filter their women out according to any kind of criteria; it’s much more in their nature to take the “Hoover Vac” approach, casting a wide net and scooping up all they can. But once I got past that stage and rejected all the women who just wanted to snuggle down with some warm-blooded teddy bear — anatomically incorrect teddy bear — my success with women grew by leaps and bounds. It makes sense in many ways. First, it puts the man in charge. Women love that. Second, it gives women a signal about what the man wants and what he doesn’t. Women love that too; they hate having to make all the decisions about things. And third…why the hell would you think your girlfriend is going to want anything to do with your penis, if she resents even being reminded that you have one? So — yes there are women who “like it” when a man cries like a little girl. That doesn’t mean they’re aroused by it. And furthermore, I think in this new century that particular strain of woman is in steep decline. I doubt there are that many of them anymore. Why? Because men who don’t act like men, are boring.

15. Bad information resulting from “torture”
I’m sure it happens, but any attempt to invalidate or discredit torture through this argument, or any form of harsh interrogation, is assaulted by the Doctrine of Brittle Extremes. Surely it must work some of the time? If it did not, then how long would we be having the discussion about whether to use it or not?

16. Murderers sentenced to life, whose tortured consciences deliver a fate worse than death
Other than that it would be a valuable support for the anti-death-penalty movement if some of us are convinced it’s the case — can you think of a single reason to believe this ever happens? I can’t. It makes no sense. I want to knock over some guy so I can steal his money…I get his thirty-seven bucks…I’m going to yell “Yipee, I got away with it” until the judge sentences me to the slammer? And then I’m going to start pondering about this awful thing I did? What on earth for? How could prison turn my personality around in such a way? What kind of “conscience” does someone have, that starts torturing him after he got caught and not one minute before? Bullshit.

17. The wealth gap
Richest guy makes a hundred times as much as the poorest guy…or a thousand times as much…or ten thousand. Or a million. What the hell does it matter? To those of us in between those two, how does this affect us in any way at all? Nobody’s explained that to my satisfaction, not one single time. And they’ve been arguing about it at full volume since I was a little kid.

18. Kids being traumatized by their overly-competitive parents
I’ll not take issue with the observation that when people see their kids competing for things, and have some encouragement/advice to deliver in a tense and critical moment, social inhibitions fall away. That’s just the way people are, and the results are not for the timid. But as to the notion that the simple desire for the scion of the household to succeed, is sufficient to rob the poor moppet of his childhood, and turn the family champion into a mopey, dejected, wallflower with a pouting lower lip and dragging feet, just floating through his miserable life like plankton wondering why he can’t have normal parents like everyone else…it occurs to me. I’ve never seen a single speck of evidence to support that this phenomenon takes place. Not outside the infernal boob tube and movie screen. Not once.

Update 2/20/09:
19. President Barack Obama is technologically hip and with-it
Twenty-one years have now come and gone since I was first hired to build things that others would sell. In all that time, I’ve seen people like this do their “work” around technology; the happy-talky gift-of-gabbers. I know how they work. They show what they “know” with their amazing personalities and their wonderful charisma-or-whatever.

I do not mean to say they are all ignorant of technology. What I mean to say is far more damning than that: I mean to say I don’t know. I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. So Obama’s got an iPod. Obama’s got a Blackberry. A whole lot of fuss has been made over these two items, and the conclusion to which we’re supposed to come is that Obama has a way with gadgets just like James Bond. Maybe he does. Pardon me. I’ve spent an entire generation watching well-dressed superstars put on soapboxes for the wonderful miracles they’re going to be working, and then go on to demonstrate any mastery they had over things technical, to be distressingly and unworkably narrow…and nobody ever notices.

Obama’s got a Blackberry. That’s swell. Would you care to knock back a few beers with me, and hear some of the stories I have to tell about executives I knew who got a Blackberry to work — and the things they didn’t know how to do?

Update 12/19/09:
20. We are currently experiencing high call volume
No, you aren’t. If I think it’s a good time to be doing something, that means most other people think it’s a stupid thing to do and they don’t want to do it…or if they do want to do it, they disagree with the time I picked to be doing it. That includes calling people. So no, you are not experiencing a high call volume from people who chose exactly the same time to call you, as the time I chose to call you. Because that would mean most people are in agreement with me about when you should be called, which is something that never happens. No, what happened here is you didn’t hire any people to staff your lines, or the people you did hire are on some endless break gabbing away about their Facebook friends, how they can’t get iTunes to work, who got kicked off American Idol, or what they think of Oprah’s latest book-club title.