Posts Tagged suffering

The Banality of Evil

Is Your Cat Nearsighted?
The Jellybean That Looks Like Kate Middleton
Can Dogs Detect Cancer?
Eight Creative Ways To Make Your Bed
Aflac’s Surprising New “Spokes-duck”
Is Your Cat Nearsighted??

Royal Wedding Drives Atlanta Hat Sales
Nose Doctor Who Hid In Italy Awaits Fraud Sentence
Will Kate Wear The Queen’s Tiara?
Mistakes You Are Making With Your Skin
How Sleep Doctor Changed One NBA Team
Is Your Cat Nearsighted???

Is Your Dentist Too Pricey?
‘Dancing’ Star Gets The Boot
What Millionaires Have In Common
Carson Daly Hopes Viewers Find ‘The Voice’
Is Your Cat Nearsighted!

When Your Appliance Warranty Expires
Eight Red-Hot Small Cars
Money Lessons We Should Have Learned In Childhood
Is Your Cat Nearsighted!!!!!

Lindsey Lohan Opens Up About Time In Jail
Does Your Resume Make You Look Old
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!!!!!

Search For Alien Life Hits A Snag
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!

IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!

IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!

IS……..YOUR………….CAT………………… NEARSIGHTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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We Are Bones, We Are Dust

This thing that I think that I am, sometimes, I am not.  Looking at an X-Ray of my right foot has twisted my mind into knots for the past few weeks.  It’s not that they found anything that disturbing. My doctor discovered a bone spur, which I was pretty sure that I had.  No surprise there.  I am having surgery tomorrow.  Again, not a surprise.  The thing that got in my head was the X-ray itself.  If I am what’s in that picture…what am i?

There was this picture of the bones in my foot staring at me.  The doctor was pointing to things and saying a bunch of words, but I was transfixed on the picture.  There I am?  There I AM!  There I am?!?!?!?  This picture is of the inside of me.  Underneath all of this skin and blood are a set of bones. These bones have been with me all of my life.  They were at my high school graduation, they were there when I got married, they attended the births of my two beautiful children, they have seen me laugh, they have seen me cry, they have been there when I thought I was alone.  I couldn’t process it. These bones are actually me!

The me that I think I am is the thing that experiences the world consciously.  I am aware of feelings and ideas.  I make plans and I remember experiences.  I see, I smell, I touch, I taste, I hear.  I have no problem associating these things with me.  Then, there are these bones. They are in me, they are part of me, but I can’t believe that they are me. This picture wasn’t some random x-ray they keep in the back and show everybody.  These were my bones!  Seeing them really sucked the magic out of everything.  I tend to think of myself as more than the sum of my parts, but maybe I am nothing more than my parts. Maybe, I am just bones and skin and blood with a few organs floating around.

There are parts of myself I have never seen.  I don’t know what my hip bone looks like.  I don’t know what my liver looks like.  My heart, my brain, my lungs…all highly valuable parts, but I couldn’t tell mine from my neighbors.  The me that I know seems so special, so unique.  My memories seem so important, as if they are part of some great mystery that I have a lifetime to solve.  My thoughts, my ideas, my identity all seem to be pieces in the great “who am I?” puzzle.  They all conspire to make me believe that I am an enigmatic character whose mythology is terribly important.  And then, there is this picture of the inside of my foot.  It is not special.  It is not unique.  It is simply mineralized osseous tissue housed in a pile of skin that is called “foot”.  There are somewhere in the range of 14 billion of them and they all pretty much look and act the same.  Sure, there are minor subtleties and nuances, but for the most part, what is the difference?

My foot does not find itself unique.  It pushes against surfaces over and over throughout a day.  It works, it rests.  It does not feel loneliness or claustrophobia if it is trapped in a shoe for too long.  It does not become jealous that I am favoring my other foot.  It does not make plans to meet with my spleen for coffee.  It does not become romantically involved with my esophagus.  It does not ponder the mysteries of the universe and wonder what will happen to it when it dies.  It is material and material has no time for enchantment.  It simply is.  When it ceases to work, it will waste away along with the rest of this thing that is me.

There is a part of me that cannot imagine that this is possible.  There must be something else, there must be something more.  I am more than that picture.  I am not just bones.  I am not just flesh.  I am something mystical.  I am more than those parts.  I am more than words on a page saying “healthy, well-developed 35 year old male suffering from Hallux rigidus“. Right?  Right?!?!?!

Maybe this identity of mine that I find so fascinating is just a bunch of electrical impulses.  Maybe we are just piles of material walking around among other piles of material, thinking that thoughts and memories and ideas make us more.  These self-important piles of material spend much of their time avoiding damage so that they can one day be part of creating new piles of material.  And on and on with no direction, no meaning and no end.  Thousands of them are created each day and thousands disintegrate. It does not matter…it is only matter.

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The Most Amazing Thing That Has Ever Happened To Me….THANK YOU SARAH PALIN!!!!

 

A Real Iron Maiden!!!

Some of you may have heard the big news today, but if you haven’t, I will tell you that today is easily the biggest day in the history of The Tyranny of Tradition blog.  I have spent most of the last 24 hours dealing with calls from CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and even the 700 Club.  In order to understand what is about to happen I need to give you some back-story. About 3 months ago, a good friend of mine told me that he remembered at an early Sarah Palin speech during the 2008 campaign she came out to speak to the opening riff from Godzilla by the Blue Oyster Cult.  I assumed he was kidding, but he was pretty insistent about it so I decided to look it up.  Sure enough, I found the footage along with an interview with her talking about music and she mentioned listening to the Blue Oyster Cult when she was in high school.  Being a die-hard Blue Oyster Cult fan, this utterly blew my mind.  I wanted to find out if she was still a fan so I emailed her people again and again but never got a response.  I figured that she had just blown it off as a series of bizarre emails and forgot about the whole thing.  Then, about a week ago…I got an email FROM HER.  I was astonished.  She wrote me this lengthy letter thanking me for writing to her telling me all about her love for the Blue Oyster Cult.  This was too much for me.  I nearly had a heart attack.  I decided to push things a step further and sent her a request to write a short piece for my blog.  I had been listening nonstop to a record by a band called Ghost.  The album, “Opus Eponymous”, is absolutely fantastic.  On a whim, I decided to ask her to listen to it and write a review.  Again, I was certain that I would never in a million years get a reply, but as I opened my inbox this morning I found the following email…

Keith,

Thanks for offering me a chance to write a review for your blog.  I have been quite busy recently but I took a few moments to put something together for you.  Hope you like it.

Yours truly,

Sarah

A Review of Ghost “Opus Eponymous”

By Sarah Palin

Over the last few years, many of you have gotten to know me as Sarah the candidate, or Sarah the Governor, or Sarah the Mother, but I want to take this opportunity to show you another side of me.  Today, I want to introduce you to Sarah the Metalhead.  A lot of people think of me as some kind of stuffed shirt who doesn’t know how to rock out.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Todd and I are both huge fans of heavy metal.  On one of our first dates, Todd took me to the nicest restaurant in Wasilla, a wonderful little Mexican place called El Taco that is owned by our close family friend Jerry O’Malley.  To impress me, he hired the mariachi band to play the Blue Oyster Cult song “Astronomy”.  At that moment, I knew I was in love.   Of all metal and hard rock bands, I have always had a special place in my heart for the Blue Oyster Cult.  I love them so much that I even tried to get Bristol and Piper’s Jazzercise instructor to use “Burnin’ For You” as part of their warm-up activities.  When we were working on Sarah Palin’s America for TLC, we tried to film a sequence where we shot a moose with a rocket launcher from a moving chopper.  To get ready to use this fine piece of military machinery, I listened to the Blue Oyster Cult’s song “Vengeance:  The Pact”.  Unfortunately, I missed the moose and the segment had to be cut, but that song really got me ready to go.

I recently picked up a copy of a CD by a band named Ghost called “Opus Eponymous” that reminded me a lot of what’s great about the Blue Oyster Cult.  The album is filled with great solos, sweeping choruses and driving riffs.  When I first heard the song, “Ritual” I knew I was going to enjoy their sound.  There are definitely other influences on this album as well.  I noticed a lot of moments that reminded me of some of the work done by the great King Diamond on the early records by Mercyful Fate, particularly the song “Elizabeth”.

At first, I really loved the album but then I found out some things about Ghost that troubled me greatly.  First of all, they make reference to Satan on several occasions on this album.  There are also a lot of violent lyrics.  As you know, I am strongly against young people listening to violent music.  This is not the sort of thing that impressionable children should be listening to.  The thing that disturbed even more was the fact that Ghost is Swedish.  They seemed to speak English very well so I, of course, assumed that they were American.  It makes you think that a Swede could pretend to be an American an easily get away with it.  A slick talking Swedish terrorist could easily get past one of those TSA government workers and bring weapons of mass destruction into our country.  I don’t want to paint all Swedes with the same brush.  There are probably some good Swedes out there, but it is a fact that the government of Sweden is socialist.  Ghost may not be a socialist band.  They may have fled Sweden to escape their brutal and oppressive government, but they have grown up living the socialist life and these things can change a person.  They probably would come here expecting some sort of government hand out if they didn’t sell enough records.  We have to at least consider the possibility that their music is meant as a Trojan horse to lead our young people to violence, Satanism and the belief that the government is going to solve all of their problems.

I would advise you to not buy this album in spite of the excellent quality of the music.  There are plenty of good old fashion, red-blooded American metal bands that are struggling to sell records.  Why give good hard earned, American money to a group of people who are just going to give it away to people who don’t share our values?

Read Sarah Palin’s response to the “Oystergate” controversy caused by this article.

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Down With CMOBD: A Survivor’s Story

Digging my way out from mega despair

“You can watch them all day and never know why…”

-The Mighty Machines Theme Song

I’ve spent the last 43 hours and 12 minutes with a song from my son’s Thomas the Tank Engine video in my head.  The song is called “Accidents Can Happen” and, needless to say, it’s not very good. They tell you about a lot of things before you have a child, but they never seem to mention the debilitating effects of children’s music on the functioning of your mind.  There was a point in my life where I was able to have a normal flow of thought.  That time is over.  In less than four years, my mind has turned into a Ringling Brothers sideshow act.

There was a song on a Blues Clues DVD called “Bebop A”.  My 2 year old daughter spent the entire car trip from New Jersey to Atlanta screaming “BEBOP A…HEY, HEY…BEBOP A…HEY HEY!!!”  Once or twice is very cute.  Heck, 50 or 60 times isn’t bad.  But after a while, the stuff gets into your blood.  You can’t go anywhere or do anything without thinking of it.  It’s like graffiti on your cerebral cortex.  You zone out for a minute and there it is.  Over and over.  When you lay down and close your eyes in a 30 dollar a night Motel 6 somewhere in Southern Virginia and you see Steve from Blues Clues staring at you with that smug, goofy look shouting “BEBOP A!!!!” you really get how far gone you are.

There are three stages of CMOBD (Children’s Music on the Brain Disorder).  The first is a general acceptance of the song.  You hear the Clifford the Big Red Dog theme and you don’t think much about it.  You go about your life pretty much unhindered. Occasionally, you notice that you are humming it, but you are nothing more than slightly amused that you remember it.  This is the denial stage.  Maybe you’ve been hooked before, but you think…not this time.

The second stage is where you start to lose control.  It’s when the song starts to consume you.  It runs through your mind constantly.  Sometimes it’s just the chorus, sometimes it’s a just a phrase, but it starts to take over your life.  You are driving a car. Suddenly, you realize you are headed in the wrong direction on a highway. You realize you were singing the awful Aaron Neville theme to The Little People.  Something about how Aaron says “little people and we’ll always be friends”.  Perfect.  You are lost in it.

You are an air traffic controller and someone asks you  “What runway should we land that DC-10 on?”  You reply with a blank stare.  You were thinking about the music at the beginning of Dinosaur Train.   Hundreds of lives hang in the balance and you are thinking about dear old Mrs. Pteranodon.  You have lost all orientation.  You are a CMOBD zombie headed with a one-way ticket to destruction.

Then, there is the third stage.  Complete withdrawal.  Blinding rage.  Utter confusion.  You are angry at the world because they can’t hear what you hear.  You don’t care whether they understand you or not.  You know that there is no thought that is more important than the Teletubbies theme. You close your eyes and you begin to understand that the smiling baby inside of the sun is looking at you and only you.  You crave Tubby toast.  You start to feel angry that the Tubbies have spilled things again and forced the Noo-Noo into more backbreaking labor.  You can no longer distinguish the world from your own personal CMOBD purgatory.

Many recover, but a relapse is never far away.  A CMOBD sufferer need only here a few notes and the whole vicious cycle starts again.  The confusion.  The hysteria.  The shame.  There is no known cure for CMOBD but we as parents must be vigilant.  I have spent three and a half long years suffering from repeated bouts of CMOBD, but I have not lost hope.  I know that a brighter tomorrow is just around the corner.  Won’t you be, won’t you be, won’t you be…my neighbor.

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The Words Crawl in, The Words Crawl Out: Existential Dread and FDR’s Inaugural Address

An appropriate response to reality?

Sometimes expressions are so powerful, so significant, that it is easy to lose sight of how utterly absurd they are.  American history is riddled with such quotes.  A personal favorite of mine comes from FDR’s 1st Inaugural address. The story goes something like this:  America was mired in the worst economic depression in it’s history.  Roosevelt had just put an end to the rattling death spiral that was Herbert Hoover‘s Presidency and stood in front of the country promising the revitalization of the American Dream and the end of nearly four years of chaos, despair and misery.

Within the first few sentences of his first Presidential address, Roosevelt set a tone of vital, unabashed optimism when he uttered the now famous words “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  Those words, along with many social programs or “fortuitous” sets of circumstances (depending on who you ask), picked America up and led it through some of it’s worst moments.  It became a rallying cry for a troubled nation whose best days were ahead of it.
I need you to know that I am not six years old.  I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy or the literal truth of expressions used by politicians in speeches.  I am quite sure that Roosevelt was afraid of a few things besides fear.  Maybe he was afraid of spiders, maybe he was paranoid about being in graveyards after 9 PM, maybe he was just plain scared of being attacked by a group of fanged clowns.  I really am not sure what made FDR fret, but I am quite sure something did.  The point is, the line was meant to be hyperbole.

Here’s the problem, if you hold the line up and look at it for a minute, even as hyperbole, it turns into mush in your hands.  The truth of the matter is, there are an enormous amount of things to be afraid of.  We are narrowly held on a mortal coil that could collapse at anytime.  Our bodies, given a few years of exuberant youth, quickly melt away like ice cream on a summer afternoon.  We rarely, if ever, are informed of when our time here will end and on the rare occasions we get that message in advance it is never good news.  We form deep connections with those around us only to watch those bonds dissolved through mortality or miscommunication.  As humans, we depend on a constant flow of sustenance that could dry up or be ripped away at any time. The possibility of mass annihilation through disease, war or famine are never far from our collective consciousness.

After death, who knows what bizarre carnival awaits us.  Will I go to a smoking pit of flames, left to forever roast for eternity for some momentary lapse of judgement I made in the previous life?  Or shall I fly away on white wings floating in a vast cosmic eternity day after day after day after day….with no end anywhere in sight?   Will I simply get to experience the same mindless pain and suffering over and over, just from some new perspective?  Will I come back as some “lower” animal, only to be slaughtered by other creatures for food, belts or coats or stepped on because I am “in the way”?  Will I be at one with the universe, a desireless speck in an endless cosmos?  Or will I lay in the ground and deteriorate slowly, a buffet for worms and bugs; a previously animated, once sentient form of high quality fertilizer?  Which option would be preferable to me?  (It doesn’t matter…I don’t really get to choose!)

If Roosevelt had any sense of the existential turmoil that lives at the root of our being, he would have left comedy to the comedians.  How could someone look at the human condition and honestly utter the expression that there is only fear to fear? Fear is a completely reasonable response to an entirely preposterous set of circumstances.  Maybe Roosevelt understood this and decided the best way to comfort humans was to deceive them and give them a false understanding of the terms of the world.  You’ll forgive me if I don’t thank him for that.  I have always believed that given the choice of comforting words or horrific facts, people tend to believe the latter, even if they don’t readily admit to it.
I am never more convinced that a person is lying to me and to themselves as when they say something like “I am not afraid of death”.  This delusion can be truly catastrophic, not just because it allows people to pretend that their life is something that it is not, but because it allows people to rationalize the suffering of other creatures.  “If I am not afraid of death, then it must not be that bad, then your death isn’t as bad as you think, then you should just get over your death (after all, I did), then you should stop dying because it reminds me I will die (which I am not, by the way, afraid of).” The logic (or lack of it) is torturous.  “It is just a dumb beast, what does it matter if it dies or it is just a non-American, what does it matter if it dies or it is just one, what does it matter if it dies, or it’s just one of THEM, what does it matter if it dies or it’s not related to me or my friend, what does it matter if it dies.”  These thoughts cannot be far behind.

Fear, I concede, can produce irrational responses and untold misery.  However, it can also be a great tool to remind us of our humanity.  It has the invaluable capability of reminding us what we share with the rest of these animated objects that surround us.  Fear is not something to be feared, it is something to be listened to, reckoned with and understood. Otherwise, how can we ever truly begin to understand what we are and what we share with the creatures around us.

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