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That Big Sucking Sound on New Year's Eve
12/28/2011 10:31:06 AM
A few cheerful,friendly and optimistic reflections on all the blessings bestowed upon us during the departing year, as the New Year dons its body armor...
That Big Sucking Sound on New Year’s Eve…
It’s a day or two after the ‘Christian Holiday Formerly Known as Christmas’ and most of us who haven’t played all the angles (to get time off between Xmas and New Year’s) are back in the office, dutifully marking time for the next few days and pretending to be productive until we can all go home and get merrily sloshed, as the hours count down to midnight on New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Eve. Hm. Traditionally a time to mightily shrug one’s shoulders, resolve to do better in the New Year and hope for better luck after January 1st. Also a time to throw back copious quantities of whatever fermented fluid is most readily at hand and work on developing a massive hangover for the following day. It’s useless to suggest that these activities are about as counterproductive to one’s betterment as anything can be, but that’s what the New Year celebration invariably epitomises: a collective spasm of massive, world-wide, uncontrolled psychic decompensation attended closely by emotional frenzy that has about as much relevancy to the depressing predictability of chaotic human affairs as a condemned murderer’s last meal.
The irony of all this isn’t hard to glimpse, since the passing of a day and the symbolic ending of a year isn’t going to make a rat turd’s difference in how human affairs continue to come apart at the seams, is it? However you look at it, celebrating the end of a year is a harmless enough custom, if you exclude all the unhappy peripheral consequences of such emotion-laundering (such as drunk drivers, unhinged sociopaths, mentally distraught suicides, friendless/homeless people who have nothing either to gain or to lose by going terminally ballistic on meth, and philosophically disappointed people like me).
Very recently, whilst perusing the aisles of our local neighborhood independent book store for some holiday gifts, I ran into a delightful publication titled ‘Earth: A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race’. A printed product of the writers behind ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ and similar in format and tongue-in-cheek approach to The Daily Show/Jon Stewart’s ‘America, Teacher's Edition: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction (SIC)’, the 238 odd pages of material found therein offer Extraterrestrial Aliens a highly sardonic and cynically amusing post-mortem insight into how Planet Earth came to become a dead world and utterly toxic to all life, human, animal, and/or biological. The whole jokey schtick assumes that humankind has continued to rape, screw, destroy and generally f**k-up their home planet to the point where any ETs who might happen upon the hapless world would find it completely devoid of any life whatsoever. That assumed, however, at least the visiting ETs would have (in this book) a compendium of answers about how humanity managed to soil its own kennel so badly that all life became extinct, in the form of an explanation of what we were like when we were in our ascendance as the ‘highest evolved life form’ on the world.
Stewart and his mirthful co-conspirators manage to skewer everything even remotely associated with our species mercilessly and although by the end of the book the joke has weakened appreciably, the hard, cold, and impossible to ignore point that emerges is the fact that we are indeed f**ked, as is the world we live in and everything that we humming beans come into contact with. Ever since the first proto-humanoid primate with a glimmer of reflective intelligence emerged from the slime pool broth of primordial creation, the home planet has been taking mortal hits with increasing frequency and exponentially increasing force. Originally humanity’s collective ignorance and sheer perversity didn’t really matter that much, since mortality rates were usually high enough to keep the little buggers from developing the wherewithal to screw things over on a massive enough scale to do permanent damage to the ecosphere. With the rise of Western science and technology, however, the equation tipped fatally and permanently, and like a virtual avalanche released from the highest figurative Alpine summit, the destructive process has gained such inertia and impact that barring a miracle (assuming there are a few of the religious faithful among you who still believe in such things), humanity’s collective social and economic activity now has the potential to utterly overwhelm the Earth’s ability to deal with massive insults against nature’s increasingly precarious equilibrium.
I hesitate somewhat to refer the less alert among you to check out the nuances of entropy, which some of the more physical-sciences astute among you will doubtless relate to the greater theories of thermodynamic physics (energy cause & effect relationships), but ‘entropy’ certainly also has a less ‘hard science’ association dealing with society and culture that has alarming relevance to our tendency to progressively muck-up the planet we depend upon (for just about everything).
Given the chaotically primitive nature of our emotions and the higher order of our (typically unrealized) potential for intelligent reflectivity that go together about as well as gunpowder and a spark, there’s no question in my mind that unless that vaunted miracle occurs sometime soon, the soon-to-be-late-great planet Earth will become far more of a grim reality than most are presently willing to accept. But of course, there’s also the factor to consider called ‘religion’, or that intangible faith in some unseen and mysterious higher omniscience that works in ways we mere mortals cannot presume to understand, that contributes rather disproportionately to the social entropy that exists in our world.
And speaking of entropy, since this is the erstwhile ‘holiday season’ and all, commercial broadcast media networks have been bombarding us over the past week or two with a variety of some of the worst, most smarmy and ultra-kitchy Christmas movies ever (most of the top contenders are the wretchedly animated 50s, 60s, and 70s vintage feature-length cartoons dealing with Santa, his reindeer, misbehaving elves, and so forth), but one local station managed to toss a real stinker at its audience this past week in the form of John Huston’s truly abysmal 1966 classic bible-thumper flick, ‘The Bible’ (starring a cast of notable soon-to-be forgotten stars that includes nancy-boy Michael Parks as Adam and Swedish sex-bomb Ulla Bergryd as Eve….euuuuw!). Only Hollywood, that festering armpit of cinematic entertainment excesses, would attempt to compress the entire story of the Old Testament into a mere 174 minutes of smokin’ celluloid (which is something of a record, since God himself reportedly took an entire seven days to perform the original feat in ‘reel’ time, so we are told by our evangelical friends, anyway). Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that the funders of this wretched film not only got an Academy Award winning director to orchestrate the Dino DeLaurentiis action, they also gathered together a cast of actors (Peter O’Tool, Richard Harris, George C. Scott, Ava Gardner, etc.) whose merits are otherwise so far above the tawdry mess Huston directs in ‘The Bible’ that it stretches credulity more than a bit.
Some of the scenes are absolutely hilarious, notably those dealing with Noah (played by John Huston) and his ark, since the logistics of using local help to build a ship that would embarrass the Queen Mary (and hold almost as much cargo), and the monumental effort required to staff the most extensive zoo the world has ever seen for a prolonged stretch at sea, are of an order far above what passes for the ‘sublime’ category in today’s modern world. But then, except for that 30% of America that believes in the implicitly unassailable and literal truth of the Christian Old Testament, the end result of DeLaunrentiis’ and Huston’s “B-bible movie” is sheer wonder over how anyone with half a frontal lobe could possibly think that such an epic was even a remote approximation of a genuine event that actually happened, thousands of years ago. It also helps explain why marketing geniuses like P.T. Barnum (to cite only the most notable and fairly recent archetypal example) are so successful in fleecing their clients of every last bottom buck in their burger-flipping budgets.
To add an even further level of amusement to this odd entry in the lousy Christmas holiday flick competition is the fact that camera-blurred-focus techniques were used to artfully obfuscate Michael Parks junk (what a great pop-term for ‘genitals’, eh?) and Ulla Bergryd’s ample bazoongas, since it wouldn’t do at all to think that a few chews of that infamous Red Delicious led to Adam banging Eve through the floorboards of their very first hooch (can’t you really picture that? I have trouble with it myself…it’s as far-fetched as God getting the Virgin Mary to play ‘hide the baloney’ with him in her birthday suit). Ah, but those among us that are a bit critical of the ultimate success of this film can take some solace in knowing that this 18 million dollar film was a box-office bomb in its day, meaning not much of a return was forthcoming for all the trouble they took to make it (in 1966). It was in fact the most expensive film Huston ever made and also one of his absolute worst.
But wretched B-movies on the ‘free’ network channels at holiday time aside, Jon Stewart’s ‘Earth: A visitor’s Guide to the Human Race’ served, in addition to providing many moments of droll amusement, to make me reflect on what exactly we human beings are actually good at, as we merrily go about soiling the kennels we occupy. Take all the high-minded yearning, complex philosophizing, the tendentious scientific curiosity and the advanced opposed-thumb primate technology out of the equation and what do we have left that we are really, REALLY good at? Three points if you guessed ‘the ability to procreate’. Or, perhaps more aptly stated, the ability to replicate little copies of our noisome, irritating, infuriatingly self-absorbed and schizophrenic selves to fill up the world beyond its capability to support us.
Early in life all human beings must ask certain questions of themselves (assuming that they’re rationally self-possessed enough to pose the queries in the first place). One of the most important ones is “Do I really want children?” Of course to most this is less a function of the rational reflective brain than an automatic instinct to drill for oil in Betty-Jo Biolosky’s knickers. The determinant for even asking that question has a lot to do with inherent intelligence, since as science has proven again and again most critical human decisions are made on the basis of emotional bias and not by virtue of moments of superior thoughtfulness. Hence the preponderant majority of human beings never even get to that point. Gender polarity hits the ‘start’ button for both sexes at puberty (just DO it…ahhhOOOOOga!) and before you know what’s been set in motion, more little copies of homo sapiens have been created and we’re all that much further behind the curve than ever. The less intelligent a person is, the less likely the fact that children have been anticipated and planned for (in the entirety of their increasingly expensive needs and economic support requirements) in advance of that magic coital moment, and regrettably most people belong to this category. To add injury to insult we also have organized religion urging unthoughtful people on from the sidelines to marry (first) and have families (afterwards), basing their support for this idea on that previously alluded to omniscient (unseen and imaginary) deity’s supposed exhortation to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (but only in the proscribed manner blessed by ‘god’, since poking around in Betty-Jo’s knickers for the pure fun of it is still a mortal sin). Thus we have two powerful forces working in unholy harmony to help fill up the world even more with ravenous little immature human beings (who grow up to become ravenous physically mature human beings). The fact that those adults who elect for various reasons (perhaps philosophic or economic) to forego having children have lots of difficulty finding something meaningful to preoccupy themselves with before they die somewhere lonely and forgotten may be conveniently overlooked here (let’s not complicate the thesis unnecessarily).
While this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing (were it not for human beings’ need to consume resources to ensure basic survival, let alone a life of reasonable quality), the central poser associated with blindly instinctual human procreating is that the untoward consequences, both socially and economically, are horrific. Absent or half-hearted fathers, dysfunctional families, lack of adequate child rearing and nurturing resources, parental immaturity (teenaged mothers, irresponsible fathers, etc.) and a strongly outspoken segment of the population that views abortion as a sin against their god’s moral directives. What ya end up with here, bro, is an absolutely f**ked prospect for the ultimate survival of human beings and their supposedly ‘civilised’ social infrastructures.
From a practical standpoint I wouldn’t mind so much about the lemming-like path humanity is following to its ultimate doom, except that all those marginally intelligent parents continue to spawn marginally intelligent offspring, and if my own personal health and welfare is threatened by one of them (some careless yahoo kid or an adult with arrested intelligence) racing a 400 horsepower vehicle on the streets I am riding my bicycle or motorcycle on, I tend to get highly pissed off about it. To my manner of viewing things, we could take care of this sort of accident-waiting-to-happen by requiring that prospective parents pass some sort of licensing test before being granted permission to wrap their legs around each other’s throats. Call it eugenics or anything you wish, but sooner or later we will need to take active measures to control and regulate unchecked human breeding, since the ultimate consequences are all too clear and have been for almost a century or more (for basic homework on this, kids, read some Thomas Robert Malthus, etc.).
As I have remarked in several other articles, the ancient Hawaiians (who were unburdened by the evangelical morality of Christian gods until 1820) were remarkably enlightened people in many ways. When a child had been created, newborn infants who were obviously (physically) defective had their lives immediately terminated by being buried alive in the sand, to asphyxiate. Of course that brilliant family planning course of action was often dimmed by other less-happy habits (such as the practice of banging brothers and/or sisters, which often produced mentally retarded or physically afflicted babies), but on the whole my befoh-time Hawaiian brahs and sistahs were on the right track, I think. They also had a very healthy and clear-thinking attitude about sex (if it feels good, go with it!), but lacked the emotionally and spiritually crippling handicaps that modern politically correct society imposes uniformly upon members of our greater American culture (and please don’t forget that syphilis and all those other nasty STDs were an unrequested import product of the West). Be that as it may, due to the relatively localized and self-sufficient, collective culture that ancient Hawaii enjoyed, whatever effects either good or bad that resulted from local custom were self-limiting (and always in the best interests of Ma Nature, whom the Hawaiians called ‘Haumea’). Contrast that to a science and technology enabled modern economic world power like the United States, guided by a religious fueled, hypocritical morality that archly presumes its singularly materialistic commercial outlook to be the only legitimate one of any merit in the entire world, and there’s no contest whatsoever: the ancient Hawaiians were social rocket scientists and we ‘Mercans are cudgel-wielding cultural primitives by comparison.
As I put these words to paper a few days before the end of 2011, the media is full of breaking news about a great many grossly alarming events that make it even more likely that Jon Stewart’s Daily Show crew are closer to the target than we might suspect. Several incidents of note among them include the following. In Pakistan, the elected government (which has just barely managed to avoid a coup de etat by the military over the past 20 years) expresses ‘great anxiety’ over the possibility of a imminent political overthrow, once again plunging that nuclear weapon armed state into dangerously uncertain social and religious chaos. In Iraq, after nearly 10 years of absolutely unjustified and unwarranted meddling by the United States military forces to bring Western style ‘democracy’ to a nation that doesn’t even have a definition for the word (not to mention the ‘sacrifice’ of nearly 4,500 US servicemen), those loveable little Shi’ias and rascally little Suunis are once again on the verge of an all-out civil war, the results of which are not good no matter who comes out on top. North Korea, another festering pesthole of human suffering and fascist repression (that also has nuclear weapons, so it is rumored, and at least the capability to build them), has just lost its leader; the designated heir, a 28 year old, overly plump and pouty spoiled child is about to take on all of North Korea’s top-heavy old-line generals for political ascendency, with dire results for the entire world no matter who gains the final upper hand. And let’s not forget all those radical Islamic factions who believe that committing suicide while taking out as many innocent bystanders as possible, gains them a free passage to heaven.
And that’s just the worst of the world news that has grave implications for the pending New Year. At home (here in the USA) a lovely 39 year old chap, described by close friends as a ‘trusted and loving person’ has just hacked the nine year old girl he was babysitting to death and dismembered her body, hiding bits and pieces in various places (fortunately, he’s just been arrested so we can assume responsibility for feeding and housing yet another violent sociopath in our Level V prisons). Add to this at least a dozen or so serial murderers across the nation, numerous instances of gang-rape, drive-by shootings and burgeoning youthful gang violence in major cities, a millionaire Congress that is so functionally defunct that Democrats refuse to use Republican restrooms pro forma, elected representatives who are scared s**tless of taking any sort of socially beneficial initiative, parents who are literally storming state capitols screaming for more educational benefits for their little progeny, the continuing widespread abuse of addictive substances for recreation by a whacked-out lower middle class (read ‘meth’), more and more examples of white-collar fraud and outrageous acts of economic criminality by powerful corporate and business leaders, and the continual madness that marks Israeli/Palestinian relations in the West bank.
Perhaps the crowning event of all this widespread social dishegemony (permit me the use of that made-up but functionally apt word here) 2011 has seen is the report appearing in today’s Wall Street Journal about the Texas father who showed up at his extended family’s Christmas gathering dressed in a full Santa Claus outfit and then pulled two Glock and S&W handguns, killing his wife, two daughters and three others before shooting himself. If the above (or similar) litanies make it seem as if the entire world is coming unglued, you may take heart at least partly in the knowledge that our modern news media are encouraged to make each new outrage seem as if it’s just one of an unending progression of egregious acts, since the old aphorism about news (‘no news is good news’) is still operative. Despite that fact, however, there’s also considerable evidence to support this last surmise, since each outrageous social aberration resonates with far greater impact now than it used to (in pre-electronic communications times) and once the seed of discord is germinated in unsound, precariously imbalanced minds, all sorts of similar mayhem seems to be forthcoming.
In my final analysis, anyone who feels truly hopeful for a ‘better new year’, in light of all that disheartening reality threatening to break down the gates of civilized society at any moment, must be (in my considered opinion) one E-meter analysis short of a Scientology ‘Clear’ rating. But pardon me for being an old poopy-pants and raining on anyone’s New Year’s parade. Given the enormity of all these things arrayed against the tenuous fragility of our native species, the only truly effective refuge (albeit a very brief and temporary one, lasting about 8 hours only) that makes any sense at all is to light off those M-80s, fire those guns into the air (who cares, after all, where the slugs come down, right?), and have one’s self a merry little New Year’s drunk. It can only get much, much worse, right? RIGHT?
Wrong: It can get much, much MUCH worse (and it shall, trust me). Now, if you’ll pardon me, it’s time for lunch and I note on the lid of my cottage cheese carton that I can ‘friend’ ‘Happy Acres Farm’ Low Fat Cottage Cheese on FACEBOOK. Wow! [That reminds me. An especially potent curse upon the head of Mark Zuckerberg and all the proliferating legions of his brainless adolescent (and post-adolescent) followers (“Zucker’s suckers?”) as the year draws to its pain-filled and semi-crazed end.]
PS: No aloha to spare, for the moment! Mebbe nex year, eh!
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