Monday, July 12, 2010

Mel Gibson Needs to Cool Off

I spend more time than I should paying attention to "entertainment news", which isn't really news. It's gossip, and juicy details about the various meltdowns of celebrities from all walks of life. Whatever an actor does when they aren't acting falls under the category of "entertainment news". Whatever a professional athlete does besides athletics usually does too. Admittedly, it's more interesting than a lot of what you'll watch on C-SPAN.

One of the more recent meltdowns (or re-meltdowns) has been Mel Gibson's. Remember a few years ago? He got arrested on a DUI and proceeded to tell the arresting officer why Jews were responsible for all the wars in the world. Back at the station, he addressed a female police office as "sugar t*ts". Part of his damage control was to point out that he was a family man and a good Catholic. Exhibit "A" was his wife of thirty years and their bah-zillion kids. Take THAT, Brad and Angelina!

He had the good sense to shut the hell up for a little while after that. He released "Apocolypto", which did okay considering nobody spoke any English. Then he left his wife and took up with a Russian model, and had a kid out of wedlock. Since then, he's been recording verbally abusing her, wishing she'd get gang-raped and telling her she deserved to get hit.


What got me writing today wasn't the need to parrot back what you could have read anywhere. Believe me, I just glossed over the highlights. If you want the real dirt, visit any one of a hundred different web sites, all dishing the dirt. What got me writing was in the comment section, which read in part " the real reason this article was written, is that the writer and the elitists in general hate Christianity (which Mel Gibson represents...)"

Wow. Really?

Let me say first, that I am not a Christian. I was once, but I'm not now. (Long story, ask me later.) It seems as if the person who made that comment feels the anti-Mel writings have more to do with settling a score with Christianity in general and uses its most public representative, Mel Gibson, to make that happen. It makes me wonder if the commenter was hinting that the anti-Mel backlash in the press recently isn't some cleverly orchestrated comeuppance by the Jewish community.

What bugs me is the idea that anyone can represent a religion. In the case of Christianity, you've got Jesus, and then you've got everybody else interpreting who Jesus was, what Jesus was all about, and doing their best to emulate that. Because as Christians - followers of Christ - one would think that you could gauge your performance as a follower by how well you emulate the leader. Now apart from laying hands on the sick or walking on water, I think the best way one could emulate Jesus would be to attend to the sick, to feed the hungry, to offer encouragement to the downtrodden, to not sit in judgment of others, and so on. But don't take my word for it - if you really want to know how best to emulate Jesus - in other words, to be a Christian - then get it from the source. Read the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. That ought to be enough to get you started. Do what he would do, say what he would say, and avoid doing or saying stuff he probably wouldn't have done or said. From what I've read, there isn't a lot of mystery to it. You can take what you see at face value.

Understand that to me, it makes no difference if you're a Christian or not. I just don't care. But it seems to me that if every self-proclaimed "Christian" out there were to suddenly and genuinely dedicate themselves to be as much like Jesus the man as they possibly could, there would be a lot less war, a lot less televangelism, a lot less judging, a lot less violence, a lot less homeless, a lot less racism, a lot more caring about the environment, a lot more concern over health care (especially for the young and the poor), a lot less corruption, and a lot less Mel Gibsons in general.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Greasing the Wheels

So now oil is starting to wash up on the beaches in Texas, thanks to the never-ended bad news that is the BP Drama. For those of you living in a cave until just now, back in April a BP drilling facility in the Gulf of Mexico fell to pieces about a mile underwater, and has since been spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate that makes the Exxon Valdez spill look like a bad day at Jiffy Lube. Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states, just now emerging from the carnage of Katrina a few years back, are now losing the fishing and tourist industries thanks to zillions of gallons of greasy goop washing ashore. I pause at the news that Texas is now affected, only because it will be telling to see how the state known for its love of oil wells will react to this. That and the fact that Texas' governor hates Obama and the federal government, and I'll love to see him changing his tune when he asks, ten gallon hat in hand, that the feds step in and help the good folks in Texas clean all this up, or at least help pay for it.

That aside, I saw an article on about 6 alternative cars to the Mini Cooper. The idea was to showcase the other little, fuel efficient go-devils currently on the market. Of the six alternative to the German Mini, only one was from an American car company (Ford). The others were all Asian - Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Kia and Scion (Toyota).

Now, it doesn't surprise me that out friends in the Far East set the pace for peppy, high-mileage cars. But it does disappoint me that our auto industry here in the U.S. seems oblivious to the realities concerning oil and gas. It is common for addicts to live in a state of perpetual denial about their addictions, so allow me to attempt an intervention with a few reality bombs. Please note the following for the record:

  • Gas is expensive. Granted, we pay less for our gasoline in the United States than a lot of other countries. But in the last few years, as our economy has circled the drain and jobs are evaporating, filling the gas tank is a bigger deal now than ever. Americans may be encouraged to "Buy American", but when we have to choose between treason and bankruptcy, then we are ultimatelty capitalists - which means we go where the bargains are. American car companies, in ignoring this, jeopardize their futures with the one captive audience they have.
  • Oil supplies are not endless. Ask a scientist. We, as a country consume more oil now than ever, and the earth isn't making more at a rate that can keep up. Simple mathematics dictate that we will, at the rate we're going, run out before we've had a chance to phase ourselves into a more viable long-term alternative. We do ourselves and our children a grave disservice by not acknowledging this.
  • It's only going to get worse. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in the 80's, we sat shiva for months, thinking that this was surely as bad as it could ever get. But in light of this current BP nightmare, we're almost nostalgic for that bush-league whoopsie. We are going to pay the piper on this one for decades to come. It's fair to say that the reality, the full reality of this has not yet landed on our collective consciousness. And we cannot afford to tell ourselves "surely this is as bad as it can get", as if the gods themselves would surely intervene to prevent anything any worse in the future. It is our job to draw the line in the oil-soaked sand and say to the big oil companies "this far and no further".

So to the American auto makers, please understand I am on your side here. I want you to succeed. I hate the thought of you sending your executives back to Washington (in your private jets) to ask for yet another bailout. You want to compete globally? You want to win back the hearts (and loyalty) of the American car-buying public? Acknowledge that our oil supplies are not infinite, and we're being pretty poor stewards of what little we have. We, the buying public, will always love that Detroit gave birth to the throaty "vroom" of the V8, and gave the world the Mustangs, the Corvettes, and the GTOs. But the rules of the game have shifted, and this is no time to wax nostalgic. Start dedicating yourselves to cranking out, en masse, fuel-efficient cars, hybrids, and other vehicles designed to take both the environment and the economy seriously. Maybe when we get the Gulf mopped up and the economy rebounds, we can talk about the possibility of making more useless money pit cars like the Humvee. But now, in light of the Gulf and my wallet, it's just in poor taste.