October 10, 2011

Random Ruminations

I spent last week basically on vacation. It's weird to think I can be on "vacation" when I write freelance articles from home, but I'm not sure how else to describe it. Yes, I had several articles to write, but at the same time we were enjoying October temperatures that felt like June with falling leaves, so why in the world would I want to spend such precious time writing about the latest innovation in fiber connectivity (FICON)?

We're enjoying the same kind of weather this week, but I can't ignore the deadline pressures forever. First drafts are due when first drafts are due, after all.

Still, 70+ degrees in October? That makes it incredibly easy to say "Screw FICON."

But, no, deadlines beckon, and writing pays the bills, and my family seems to enjoy having a roof over their heads, so. . . FICON it is.

Before I FICON--which isn't a verb, but it is NOW--some random ruminations:

I've been sort of, kind of, but not really, following the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) phenomenon and it's associated derivatives popping up nationwide. I can't say I have a huge opinion about it all one way or another. It would be easy enough to adopt the old knee jerk "smelly, lazy, entitlement-suckling hippies" line that's so in vogue in so many comment threads, but there's obviously more to it than that.

I can empathize with the OWS component that's upset about debt. Debt sucks. No doubt about it. But then, debt is also a conscious choice, or at least it usually is, if you're conscious. When I bought my house, for example, I knew I was entering into $150k worth of debt, give or take a few grand. Thing is, I was approved for a loan almost three times that amount, but common sense and third grade caliber math told me the monthly payments would leave me subsisting entirely on my own pubic hair and urine for survival--or somebody else's when I could afford it. So, I calculated what I thought I could afford, even in the lean times, and now I have a modest home.

Student loan debt is a different beast entirely, of course. It follows you around and you can't get rid of it. Worse, you're told all your life that a college degree is a necessity if you want to succeed in life. And who doesn't want to succeed? The problem is, precious few people bother telling you what degrees, in particular, can lead to success, so you have a crapload of young people graduating with completely useless degrees like Sudanese Turd Sculpture and Transgender Appreciation Studies and kind of on and on like that. Oh, and I graduated with a Mass Communications/Journalism degree, so I know a thing or two about useless degrees--okay, it wasn't useless when I graduated in 1998, but it sure is now.

So, you have a lot of disillusioned, unemployed youths out there with useless degrees and a mountain of debt, and they're coming to terms with the fact their once vaunted "precious snowflake" status is actually a big stinking pile of 99 percent. Welcome to the party, kids! Sucks, doesn't it?

And, I don't disagree that some of the one percent top dogs make ridiculously obscene amounts of money. Like, they make so much freakin' money, it's really easy to let yourself get offended by it. It's easy to take to the streets and complain about it. It's easy to say "stop making so much when we don't!"

But, the thing is, I really don't want someone to ever tell me how much money I should or should not make in my lifetime. I realize I'll never own a gold yacht or swim in my own Olympic-sized pool filled with "Vulva," but I like living in a country where I at least have the freedom to do so if the opportunity should ever present itself. It's about freedom, not fairness. After all, life sure as hell isn't fair, so you might as well have freedom.

A large swath of the OWS crowd seems to silently be advocating freedom from responsibility, which is where they lose me. Once you're an adult, life is all about responsibility. Deal with it. Stop pointing at people and saying "You're too rich! Gimme gimme gimme!"

Of course, I'm not allowed to opine about what I think OWS stands for, because it defies "standing for" anything, as this article commenter sniffs:

The fact that you published this means that you never bothered to talk to anyone actually PRESENT at the protests. This list of “demands” was on a public forum and submitted by someone not even participating directly in the General Assembly at the protest. It in no way represents an official list of demands, and presenting it as such is insulting to the protesters and degrading to you as a journalist.

Do some research somewhere other than twitter.

It's an interesting dodge. A list of "demands" published on the OWS Web site doesn't represent the actual demands of a movement that doesn't officially have any actual demands. It requires an odd bit of mental gymnastics, really. But, let's say the "journalist" who wrote the piece had taken the time to interview a protester or two, or five. Would that have made the commenter happy? I'm guessing not. If I attended an OWS protest and interviewed five people who just happened to be wearing fig leaves over their genitals and were chanting "Hey ho, debt must go, and I can pleasure peacocks with my left big toe!" I'm betting the same commenter would scream "THEY DON'T REPRESENT WHAT THE MOVEMENT IS ALL ABOUT!" It's a catch-all dodge, in other words.

It's fascinating to witness the Media's treatment of the OWS movement, as opposed to the Tea Party movement, which is like comparing a child petting a kitten to how Lorena treated John Wayne Bobbit.

Anyway, that's my two cents on an early Monday morning. On to FICON!!!

Posted by Ryan at October 10, 2011 06:13 AM | TrackBack
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