Friday, August 8, 2008

Surprise from São Paulo!

I know that I am supposedly taking a hiatus in Brazil, but given the statistics from google, I wanted to assure people that I am still around and that Enrique is going to do a smashing job with the blog while I am here. I also wanted to type this using some of the portuguese accents that are built into the keyboard.

Yes, I am retarded. That is quotable. I am fascinated by foreign keyboards. This one is no exception. I am currently sitting in my friend Mario's office in Santo André, a municipality just outside the capital of the state of São Paulo which just happens to be São Paulo. It's similar to New York City except NYC is not New York State's capital. It is odd how it's not, but at the same time, NYC is not really representative of New York state. NYC is representative of itself and the world financial capital. Albany on the other hand is smaller, and sits in upstate New York, which is funny because anything that is not NYC can be considered upstate New York. Wow. Tangent.

So now for the portuguese portion of this post: Eu queria usar os acentos legais desta tecla. Para poder fazer isto, vou usar palavras como estas: estações, furacão, rodapé, econômico, e vamos lá hoje à noite. Ok I think that's about enough. I don't know how many of you actually understood any of that, but it was entertaining for me. So, if everyone stops reading my blog, that's their problem. I won't be missing out, only they will. Come on, bilingual, multi-faceted, co-authored, satirical blogs are awesome. If you think otherwise you are stupid. Deal with it.

"Just Kidding!"

The Russians have a saying: Within every joke there is a drop of truth. Now, I don't know if you've noticed this, but it seems that we have unwittingly developed a method of systematically removing ourselves from absolutely any socially jeopardizing statement simply by declaring the magic words, "Just kidding!" Allow me to elaborate.

I had an experience the other day where a former co-worker told me she had stopped by the office to see my boss (her former boss). I asked her why and she nonchalantly told me that she had a secret crush on him. I gave her a sideways glance and made sure I understood her correctly, "You have a secret crush on him?" Without hesitation she laughed and said, "I'm just kidding!"

Now the problem here is not that she had a crush on my boss. I had suspected that she liked him a long time ago and I didn't care. The problem is that she didn't want to be honest with her feelings. And not even because she couldn't confide in me, but because she thought that I felt her feelings were socially unacceptable.

In an episode of the Family Guy entitled, 'Mr. Saturday Knight,' father-figure Peter Griffin makes a statement that depicts what is really going one here. He says to his wife, "Since money is getting tight I was gonna suggest that we eat the kids. You know, like jokingly at first but then I was gonna gauge your reaction and then if you were cool with it we could go from there."

You've probably found yourself in a situation similar to this one-you may have even uttered those words yourself. Someone says something vulgar or brash or politically incorrect and the statement isn't received as expected. So, the individual puts on a smile and declares, "Just kidding!" I don't know about you, but I see this happen all the time.

So why do we do this? Why can't we just suck it up and take it like a man...or woman. So we said something stupid. Big deal. Trying to pass it off as a bad joke doesn't make it any better. Next time you find yourself tempted to nullify your that faux pas with the statement, "It was just a joke!" stop and ask your self the following questions: 1) Was your statement a joke? 2) Does anyone actually care about what you just said? 3) Is stating "just kidding" really going to be able to gloss over what was said?

If you answered yes to any of the following questions you are probably need to have your head checked.

Just kidding!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Do Not Attempt to Adjust Your Screen

Never fear readers! This is not a test. If anything, it's just a very bad cliche.

Your favorite blogger, the infamous Michael Powers, has left us for Brazil and for the time being you will have to settle for me, Enrique Estrella. Hopefully I will be able to provide you with the same amount of charm and wit and cynicism. At the very least I hope to keep your attention long enough so that you are still reading the Satire Report when Michael gets back. Tomorrow we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Stop and smell the Roses

Paraphrasing T. S. Eliot, we are becoming 'distracted from distraction by distraction.'  And it is a worrying trend. All the world is a stage, and there are no players. People are much more content doing everything and nothing at the same time. Children and adults alike have no attention spans any more. Fewer people can sit and be content reading long news articles, much less novels. And this ADHD society we live in is only getting worse. It's not like people don't have the ability to focus, it's that we're being marketed to death by the masterminds of distraction.

Every new gadget, be it the iphone, flat screen HD TVs, and every new program, from leopard to random applications for PDAs are pulling us away from reality. Some may argue, and perhaps successfully, that with the technology and information age that we are becoming closer, more cohesive, and we can absorb much more information than the past.  But, many new studies are proclaiming that we are being stretched too thin psychologically.  I read this article in the London times about it.  Turns out multi-tasking, which is the expectation and the most praised thing in modern society, is bunk. When you attempt to multi-task, you do a whole bunch of things poorly, as opposed to one thing at a time well. You are not more productive, you're not saving your company money, or making things easier on yourself, your family, your friends or co-workers. It comes down to distraction.

You get tons of emails, phone calls, text messages, and talk to people daily. You try to respond as best you can, but rarely take the time needed to do something thoroughly. We are all guilty of this. Social networking sites, (as cool as they are, and as much as I use them) can degrade and submerge the quality of our social interaction, and our ability to gather and retain useful information. We become so often caught up in the storms of gossip and banter that we idle our lives away while not gaining much more than superficial pleasure and a relief from our self-induced boredom. 

Life is exciting. There are great books to read, projects that need to be done in the yard, games to be played with sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, and every task deserves its own time and a high level of attention to be done well. I have always been and avid supporter of stopping and smelling the roses, breathing in the air, getting away from the world to understand it. If we can't take the time to digest our world, we'll just keep vomiting, getting sicker and sicker until we starve. We need to know the foundations that made what we have now possible. Works of art, literature, philosophy, science, and long books, trips, and talks are all important. We shouldn't give in to the whirling, spinning, superficiality and trendiness that is fleeting. I call for us to stop and smell the roses, and maybe, buy a few, or start our own rose garden.


And, on another note, I leave for Brazil tomorrow, and my friend will be taking over for the next two weeks. I do this because I practice what I preach. It's time for a break. I love you all. Ask me to bring you back something, and I'll do my best (no promises).

Picture taken from this site.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Obama is right.

I hope most of you who read this blog know that some of it is satire, a lot of it is exaggeration, and I try to generate responses both negative and positive. I am over the top at times to make a point. At no point is my aim to offend or misrepresent important issues.  With that disclaimer let me talk about something that pleases me.

Obama recently said he thinks reparations are not the solution to the repercussions of slavery. I am in complete agreement with that.  

Slavery is over. I am not, nor was I ever, responsible for it. The current African American community is not enslaved. Giving them money only encourages a mentality of entitlement and dependency. There have been numerous programs created by the government to 'help' the black community. These programs treat blacks like second-class citizens. The government favors them with welfare policies and school tuition subsidies, because it believes they can't make it without its help. This is America. We believe in the American dream. Anyone can make it big. Just go out and get it. We cannot create balance and equality by reversing the scale. We need to make it even. We all are capable people.

Reparations are not a solution, but would create more problems than they aim to solve. There is no way to quantify the suffering, death, torture, oppression, years of discrimination, or even continuing discrimination by a dollar figure. Furthermore, why should Asian Americans, Indian Americans, Muslims, Hispanics, and Caucasians dole out money to fill the pockets of African Americans who have not experienced slavery, and who are more than capable of making their own way in this country without a handout? There are many peoples who have been discriminated against in America. The Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, and the Jews to name a few, have all been discriminated against. We cannot play favorites, and we cannot expect that money will take away the years of pain and inequality. The apology congress came up with is meaningless.  People  cannot meaningfully apologize for something they themselves have not done, nor can they apologize to people who have not been victims of atrocities. We need not create more victims through apologies and reparations. 

Of course the government was wrong with the Jim Crow laws. People suffered needlessly. But no amount of money, pats on the back, or apologies will fix the hurt. We need to get on with out lives, let the African community live theirs, and give them the expectation that they can do it on their own, like the rest of this country.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Olympics moved to moon

So China got the skies clear just in time for the Olympics. Supposedly. After taking half of the normal 3.3 million cars off the road and a little artificial precipitation, they have breathable air (or so they want you to think). The truth is, the IOC has recently agreed to host the Olympics on the moon. Even with all the capital improvements (like that giant bird nest stadium thing), and the demolition of entire swathes of neighborhoods to build random shops and venues in Beijing, the best option has been, and still remains, the moon. And as it turns out, the Chinese have laid claim to it as a former possession (even prior to Taiwan, although they still believe it is made of Cheese and sits on the back of a giant turtle). Apparently they'll even be there before the US returns, so the IOC decided we might as well hold the opening ceremonies there.

French President Sarkozy says, "This is a great decision, I've always wondered what would be the best wine with a moon landing." And I'd have to agree. I've always wanted to see the long jump from outer space, and swimming in near zero g.  I think the IOC has finally got it right for a change.

Chinese moon taken from this blog.