Monday, May 12, 2008

Banter on Chit-Chat

When I am asked the question, “How are you?” I respond with “Well”, even if I am not well. I never respond differently so as not to convert small talk into large talk. No further inquiry should be needed. I will only reply differently when I have asked the question first and the other’s response is “Good”. When the question is reciprocated, I will also reply with a grammatically incorrect answer; “Good”. This is so I don’t appear elitist.*ª

You should never hear:

A: “How are you?”
B: “I’m well. How are you?”
A: “Not so well, actually. Life has been proverbially sucking.”
B: “Okay, have a great day.”
A: “Thanks, you too!”

The above conversation has never happened. I wish it had, and that I had played the part of person A. I don’t need people prying themselves into my personal life. Conversations occurring in passing, while walking down a hallway or in an uncomfortable environment such as an elevator or airplane bathroom queue, should be as curt as possible.

A week ago, I was walking down a hallway, debating whether or not to address the person walking towards me. Clearly, she was thinking the same thing because she hesitantly said, “Hi.” mere steps in front of me. Under pressure, instead of “Hello” I responded with, “How are you?” My question was tardy, we had already physically passed each other in the hallway, I knew it. She answered my question while already behind me and to my horror, returned my belated pleasantries. “Good. How are you?” Shoot! A simple ‘good’ would have sufficed. Now I’m stuck and time is scarce. Should I turn around and politely answer back, or answer very loudly without even turning or should I ignore her question and move quickly on? Well, I chose the latter option, and ducked into my office.

The next time I saw her, neither of us engaged in eye contact, let alone any other form of verbal communication. For the last week, I have focused on avoiding this woman in the hallway. Sometimes I even pretend to be on my cell phone when I walk past her office. I am immature, I know, but I put a lot of time and energy into being this way.

I suppose the point that I should be taking from my own reasoning is this: life’s insipid tea leaves forecast very little, so it is necessary to spice up the bland. I may just add a little more flavour into my next conversation and if I leave a bad taste in the back of your throat, suck it up.
*ª I am elitist.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Right Direction

A collection of national polls measuring Americans' opinions on whether or not the USA is heading in the right direction confirms wayward fears. An average of 18% of Americans affirm the nation's direction while 75.7% believe we need to change course. The confidence has been cut in nearly half from three years ago when an average of roughly 40% of Americans approved the direction in which their country was heading.

What is shocking to me is that even 18% (let alone 40%) of any group of people can get together, en masse, and affirm a specific heading. Now, this should be very easy in an automobile, when linear travel is most often the norm. One has normally two to four choices of direction upon asphalt. Given the flexibility of an off-road vehicle, a group of people can head in any planar direction. This, in itself, provides limitless direction and as a result, multitudinous dissent (provided no GPS navigation system is provided, (although one would be hard pressed to find an off-road vehicle without at least an iPhone anymore)). Yet, I look at a nation filled with over 300 million legal citizens rather than a Jeep Wrangler with seating for four. Think of a rocket ship, propelled by technological growth, national concern and social change. In what direction can this metaphorical ship head? Any. It has vertical, lateral and longitudinal rotational abilities. Moreover, the addition of a Z-coordinate allows us to head towards any infinite directions in space. Throw in a fourth dimension of time, and, well, you get my point. How can anyone, let alone 54 million Americans agree on a very, very specific vector?

There is an answer and that answer is simpler than aeronautical political science can explain. Americans, in general, believe that any direction "forward" will suffice. The minor directional bearings are assumed to play no large role in national government. Now if we define "forward" as positive movement in relation to one axis governing the "statusquo ", a whole hemisphere of travel is considered "wrong". Without getting too mathematical, the more variables that we restrict with a requirement of positive growth, the smaller our preferred directional course will be. Fitting into that pinhole becomes a more daunting task. Let's simply focus on "positive" spacial growth by moving up the Z-axis. I'll take away the dimension of time by adding another flat plane perpendicular to the Z-axis and call that our "goal". The National Government's job, now, is to reach our "goal" by moving in a forward direction (at a constant rate of speed). If it's direction is just the slightest bit skewed, then it will take calculatedly longer to reach plane "goal". If a backward direction is headed, then it will take either longer or never to reach plane "goal", depending on the value of the variables.

So how does one explain the existence of an estimated 54 million people who agree the United States is heading towards plane "goal"? Clearly it becomes the position of "goal". Some may place it very far away, others, very close. Some make "goal" a coordinate, or point. Some make it non-linear. Some make it so it is not perpendicular to the "positive" Z axis. Others make it an imaginary number (see Marx and Engels).

The only conclusion that I can draw is that while most can agree that the right direction in one with positive growth, there is a finite number of people who just don't seem to care where the nation is heading, as long as Dancing With The Stars is on.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ozzie Guillen

This post is in response to Ozzie Guillen's bemoans...

The text of the AP article can be found here:

TORONTO (AP)—White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had his own Lee Elia moment, letting forth a stream of obscenities in which he accused Chicago fans of turning on the struggling team after a strong start.

During his rant before Sunday's game against Toronto, Guillen said the White Sox are not sufficiently appreciated in their city despite winning the 2005 World Series.

"That's what ticks me off about Chicago fans and Chicago media, they forget pretty quickly," Guillen said, punctuating his outburst with a healthy dose of vulgarities.

He bemoaned the fact that the Cubs are considered the "best" in Chicago even though they haven't won a World Series since 1908, dropping F-bombs along the way. He fears his team will never get respect "no matter how many World Series we win."

Guillen also mocked the 25th anniversary of the rant by Elia, the former Cubs manager. Guillen predicted his own tirades will one day be equally legendary, and maybe lucrative.

"How many times do I curse people out? I will make a lot of money. … I have to keep going because in the future Ozzie will need money," he said.

The White Sox, who lost 4-3 Sunday, have dropped eight of 11 and fallen out of first place in the AL Central. At 14-15, the White Sox are below .500 for the first time since they started the season 1-2.

"People are panicking," Guillen said. "Did we play a real bad week? Yes, we did. We stunk. But it wasn't too long ago that we were the biggest surprise in baseball. Wow, look at the White Sox."

Chicago has scored just nine runs in its past five games and its .232 batting average is the AL's lowest.

In retort: Ozzie, the reason the White Sox don't get respect is because they currently don't deserve it. You've provided readers with the primary example that their manager spews obscenities and is quick to blame anyone but himself. It's also very hard to watch your team struggle to bat above the Mendoza line. Face it, the Marlins won two world series and they don't get respect either, but at least their team hits above .232 and managers Joe Girardi and Fredi Gonzalez have led a bunch of scrubs (sans Hanley Ramirez and ex-3b Miggy Cabrera) to victory. Have you ever stopped swearing to think that some of this might be your own fault? You said it yourself, you stunk last week. If you dare surprise Chicago fans by finishing atop the AL Central again, then expect more people to give you the appreciation (and shock) you deserve. Look at the 2008 major league payrolls, sir:

Chicago Sox (5th MLB): $121,152,667 (14-15)
Florida Marlins (30th MLB): $21,836,500 (17-14)

Nope, no typo there. The White Sox are paying approx. $100,000,000.00 (or 6x) more for their players this year than the team who has Cody Ross starting in CF and Mike Rabelo behind the dish. I just don't hear Rodney Dangerfield yelling from their dugout.

Sure, the Cubs have been losing lately too, a phenomenon nothing new to their fans. Yet, Cubs fans are filled with enough youthful exuberance (booze) and liquid
courage (more booze) to face any gaunt prospects with prowess (and numbness). The Cubs will always have their goat, but you don't have to turn their fans or media attention into your personal scapegoat.

In short, focus on managing and let your bats speak. Bats neither swear nor speak will poor broken English. Maybe then you'll get some respect.

postscript: This is the same manager who was forced to apologize publicly in 2006 for calling Chicago sporst columnist Jay Mariotti a "F*cking Fag", And that's really not cool at all. If you want respect you'll have to earn it Ozzie.