Monday, December 28
With A Capital T
IF there's anything we learn at the close of Advent, over and over and over, it's that Crap is the one thing that's always in style, that Crap actually informs the further production of Crap (i.e., today's Crap is a crapier version of yesterday's), and that post-Industrial society has a desperate need to entice the young into the worship of Crap as early as possible, lest they grow up knowing the difference.
Extrapolating from my family, anyway.
It was damn-near impossible by Friday night to separate the screaming, battery-operated consumer wallow I'd just endured from the hysterical NBC News pitchmen desperately trying to entice last-minute Boxing Day (Canada) shoppers with discounted al-Qaeda and Pope Assassination remnants.
Maybe it's just me, but if we're so intent on fighting a War on Terra, perhaps we could begin with not helping the agents of terror spread, well, terror. No one with a cursory experience of such things expects The Press to actually remain calm and report established facts only; but what NBC (if I'm unfairly tarring the other nets here, let me say sincerely that I fucking doubt it) was engaged in Friday night was an ad campaign disguised as news, yet another suggestion that the massive failures of the Bush administration now serve as corporate/government templates.
Crazy guy from Nigeria sets leg on fire, claims al-Qaeda told him to! And maybe they did, but for the Love of Spam, how does anyone believe anything a Nigerian says without independent collaboration? Of course, if you were one of literally dozens of Americans who regularly reads the papers, and if you backed that up by reading ten paragraphs into the Times story the next day, you'd'a heard from a suitably anonymous federal official that there was a possibility the claim was aspirational rather than real, which is like waiting ten graphs to have a 700 Club official, on condition of anonymity, admit it was theoretically possible Jebus didn't actually aim Hurricane Katrina at Nawlins just because of the gays.
Of course there's no question why the Qaeda™ Brand would be so attractive to the aspirational human torch, shampoo bomber, or pizza-box booby-trapiste: infomercials.
The Flight 253 story was helpfully illustrated with crazy pictures of crazy Richard Reid, the convicted 2001 shoe bomber, whose al-Qaeda-assisted incompetence was revealed by Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, the former al-Qaeda #2 man who was "questioned" in "Oman", or "Amman", or "Canada", and who also revealed that fiendish al-Qaeda turbulence that brought down that airliner in Queens; evidently Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab hadn't had time to get his Islamic Glamour Shots back. The technique continued when the Potential but Bumped Wall-to-Waller of the Islamo-atheist attack on the Pope called out the clips of some other guy shooting some other Pope, on the grounds that this was much cooler.
The woman turned out to be a Pope-crazed fangirl, not a terrorist, and so was unfairly locked up in the nuthouse (Italian cassia delle castagne) for daring to live the dream of the other 200,000 people in the crowd. The interesting thing, though, was that while the attack had occurred twenty-fours hours earlier, NBC was still left to speculate about the possibility of Evil intent motivating the same crazy woman who'd tried to rush this Ratzenberger guy a year earlier while wearing the same bright red sweatshirt. I guess they didn't have time to check.
[Not coincidentally, in searching for actual entertainment to replace last night's gridiron "contest" between the Washington (DC) Redskins and the Dallas (TX) Palefaces, I accidentally ingested five minutes of some History Channel, or National Geographic Network, or some similar Perpetual Horoscope of the Airwaves, program promising to unleash historians and other scholars on the question of Biblical history. What this apparently entails, so far as The Channel Formerly Known As History is concerned, is checking the Rolodex for people with advanced degrees in Explaining Biblical Nonsense Away. I happened upon an "exposé" of Exodus; it turned out I wasn't interested enough to see if they were doing the whole thing in order. I got there just as Moses had been banished to Midian, and what happened next explains a lot about our news coverage.
There's not a scrap of evidence for Midian, which might give your average scholar pause, but this is teevee. Based on the burning bush episode, which happened on Mount Horeb, a geographic feature remarkable for its ability to pick up and move to wherever Biblical apologists need it to be, we proceed from the assumption that the tale must be describing something literally true, even though the misapprehension of a real physical event would seem to defeat the purpose of insisting on literal truth in the first place. We speculate that the heat source was a volcanic vent; we locate the nearest such vents (in the mountains of Araby); voilà! we've found Midian. Meanwhile, we've found our bush, which happens to be a tree, an acacia which is the most fire-resistant thing in Midian, and we take a blowtorch to one. And through some theological argument I wasn't equipped to follow, we proved that it being reduced to ash was somehow distinct from being "consumed".
Have you followed any of that? Could you explain it to me? So far as I could tell it is metaphysically preferable to have the authors of the Pentateuch, the most learned people of their era, unable to recognize where the heat from a volcanic vent is coming from or to distinguish tree from bramble, ignorant of the burning properties of the local flora, and so simple as to imagine something reduced to ash had not burned, than to admit the great foundation of Western literature occasionally indulges in poetry.]
So a woman--all this is obvious at videophone resolutions--jumps a barrier and is bullrushed, somewhat belatedly, by Il Papa's security detail, but manages to get a hold of him and drags him down with her. And a day later this is still being described as a possible assault. But I guess we should be thankful she's in a mental hospital, considering these are the people who took two centuries to take Galileo off the Index. The Church of Rome, I mean; for all I know NBC is still debating the issue.