not exactly a bedtime story (but perhaps it should be)

Something I am deeply saddened by is the fact that there are so many of nature's species which are in distress these days. Yes, humans too - humans are are a troubled species as well. It's just that... well, this next part is probably not going to win me any popularity points, but I'm going to just say it anyway and then duck - the plighting of humans is done solely and exclusively by humans. The plighting of nature, however, is not done by nature; it's done by humans. But the reason we are able to do it is the exact reason we shouldn't. We are at the top of the food chain, the top of the brain chain - we are the masters of our universe. We should know better. As a wise man once said, with great power comes great responsibility.

Recently, I've been made more aware of the plight of the dolphins, because a man named Ric O'Barry and his team made a movie that won a lot of awards. I watched that movie and cried throughout; and guys, I am generally not a crier - I am a chickenshit, but not a crier. But, more importantly, I became aware of the extent of the problem - so for me, the movie did what it had set out to do.

Meet Ric O'Barry - an activist who has spent the past 40 years campaigning against the captive dolphin industry:

But before he was that guy, he was the guy who raised and trained (the dolphins who played) Flipper and endeared her to the viewing public, the popularity of the show resulting in a rising demand for trained dolphins. He had no idea at the time that all this was leading down a road to a bad place; but in working with the dolphins, he came to realize how highly complex, intelligent and sensitive they are, and how distressed they become when plucked from the wild and dropped into captivity (and - to add insult to injury - made to perform tricks for their food, for screaming audiences, in the tiny little tank they are forced to call home). It all came to a head the day one of the Flipper dolphins died, by - wait for it - committing suicide in his arms. And okay, I know what you're all thinking, because I thought it too - "Suicide? A dolphin? Next you're going to tell me she left a suicide note on the nightstand!" But seriously, guys, you have to hear him tell the story. I cried.

And that was only the beginning of the story. Since that time, O'Barry has been crusading to stop the practice of capturing dolphins from the wild to be put into captivity; but in the city of Taiji, Japan, his mission goes one step further. There*, the dolphins are chased into a cove, disoriented and frightened by a ceaseless beating of sticks in the water - this is done to panic them by creating too much sound for their sensitive sonars to handle. They experience extreme physical and psychological trauma; they are self-aware in many, if not most, of the same ways that humans are, and they can tell what is going to happen to them. The "best" dolphins are picked by visiting trainers and carted off to aquariums, dolphin shows and swim-with-dolphin programs around the world. The rest are killed by repeatedly stabbing the water with spears until the bodies are still - it's hard to really aim, I guess, when you can't see through the bloodied water. There's a heart-wrenching clip in the movie where a dolphin, frantic with bloody stab wounds all over its body, desperately flips and flops its way on shore, trying to get away, only to collapse and die on the sand.

Just because something is difficult to watch doesn't mean it shouldn't be seen.

There are those that argue that all this brouhaha that's being raised about dolphin killings is just another case of cultural imperialism. To that, I say, PSHAW. There is nothing cultural about dolphin meat, nor selling dolphins into captivity, nor the cruel method of chasing, capturing and killing dolphins that takes place in Taiji. Most Japanese people don't even know about this, and they certainly don't eat dolphin meat (not knowingly, anyway, because who really chooses to subject themselves to mercury poisoning?). How can it be cultural when people have no idea?

Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But one thing I absolutely cannot stand, in a make it stop make it stop OMG MAKE IT STOP kind of way, is an illogical argument. When somebody tells me the sky is red, and I go and look outside and the sky is not, in fact, red, it makes me want to punch them. But because I know this is not a socially acceptable way to converse with someone, I am stuck without a response. Which I hate. Likewise, when somebody tells me that wanting to stop the hunting of dolphins for capture and baseless killing is another example of cultural imperialism, and when I look around me and see that most Japanese people have no clue what any of this dolphin business is all about, I see that it can't be cultural. The sky is not red. But yet, many of those who put forth the cultural imperialism argument are people I know to be rational, intelligent, and otherwise capable of distinguishing between colors. So - to those of you who hold this view - I wonder, sincerely and without trying to be facetious - why do you think so? How do you get the sky to be red?

* This is not the only place dolphin hunts take place, but it happens on the largest scale in Japan. It also happens in Denmark, Peru and parts of the South Pacific.


this is why you love me

I thought that I should (re-)start things off with a bang by discussing a few things I cannot stand. You can thank me later. In no particular order:

Rant the first: that there is not one actor, among the entire universe of actors, A.K.A. people who are paid BIG BUCKS to be experts at pretending, who actually knows how to properly pretend to either hold or drink from a cup. If you watch any scene that involves a cup of liquid (or, worse, multiple cups in one of those cardboard/styrofoam cupholder things), I guarantee that you will see the actor waving it around as if it is empty. And then, to reinforce the idea that there is something in the empty cup, the actor will take a pathetic little sip - barely tilting the cup - and then fail to pretend to swallow. You'd think that would be something they'd teach in the first week of Acting 101. Why bother with a cup of anything if they're not going to handle it correctly?

Rant the second: the way Jack Bauer pronounces "nuclear". It really takes away from his badassed-ness every time he says nu-cue-lar. Say it with me, Jack. NU-CLEE-AR. Even nu-clear would be acceptable. But not nu-cue-lar. No, no, no. I have particularly strong feelings about this one.

Rant the third: people who don't excuse themselves after RUNNING FULL-ON INTO ME because instead of watching where they were going, they were too busy looking down at the floor - the floor that is inside my apartment building and therefore free of potholes, curbs, sticks, and stones. Why are we looking down at the floor? Why are we not looking in the direction in which we are charging?

Rant the fourth: being too shocked to berate these people with anything other than an "excuse you!!" (a great one, I know, especially when the target of my wrath does not even speak English), and then seconds later coming up with the perfect way to teach them a lesson, and then for the rest of the day (several days, if I'm being honest) fantasizing about sticking my foot out to trip them while verbally ripping them a new asshole. This one, I also have strong feelings about.

Rant the fifth: airplane announcements that come in through the headsets AT EXTREMELY HIGH DECIBELS. Seriously, why does this happen? If I am watching a movie and my headset volume is set to a level of my liking, and if the announcement is otherwise coming through the airplane's speakers at a normal volume, WHY must the living daylights be frightened out of me by the announcement ripping through the headset?

Now you can thank me.


...aaaand i'm back

Well. Hi!

So I'm back, and wow, things look a little different around here. As things often do after a year and a half. Heh, heh. Ok, I'll just get down to it - I'm sorry. To all 4 of you who read this blog, I'm sorry that I disappeared without warning. But I do have an excuse, and without getting too much into it, I will explain. First, One Thing happened, which kind of drained the energy and inspiration out of me - sucked it out and left me a shriveled, empty shell (luckily, I did not lose my flair for the dramatic). So while that One Thing was happening, I found that I didn't really have much to say about anything; so I didn't. Then, Another Thing happened. That Another Thing was actually a good Thing that was only disguised as a bad Thing; but still, it was a doozy of a Thing, and I continued to find myself without much to say. On top of all this, Facebook became my go-to for scratching any itches I did have to post commentary on the Internet. Thus went this blog the way of all my gym memberships in the past few years - that is, something I was excited about and diligently paid attention to with gusto and good intentions for awhile, but which then became something I just couldn't get it up for, then got used to not getting it up for, then eventually let lie there like a cold dead fish I had no interest in reviving.*

But, the good news? I'm back! And I'll try to do better this time, I'll try not to disappear without so much as a sayonara, because as everyone knows, we only get one second chance in life.

Now, let's get back to our regularly scheduled sporadic posting.

* And that, my friends, is how you wind up with an entirely different metaphor than you started out with.