Friday, July 25, 2008

Ply me with drinks


Health advocates say that you shouldn’t cover your mouth with your hands if you’re coughing or sneezing.

It’s not that you shouldn’t cover your mouth at all; it’s just that covering your mouth with your hands does about as much good as holding a newspaper in front of you to stop a mudslide. Not only does most of your sick mucus get thrown out into the atmosphere, but you end up with snot all over your hands.

They recommend coughing and sneezing into a tissue or, if one is not available, your shirtsleeve.

I don’t know how you feel about this advice, but I welcome the advent of snotty biceps.

Of course, there will be some people out there who say that they’ve coughed into their hands for years because it was the way their parents taught them to cough, and that’s fine enough. Don’t shake hands with any of these people during flu season.

There are always people who don’t want to change just because it requires expending a little bit of effort. From the politician who can’t stop lying to the public and stealing their money, to the pedophile who can’t stop plying children with lollipops and teaching them what causes the strange noises emanating from their parents bedrooms on early bedtime night.

The United States was that way once, which is why it is still one of only three countries in the world that doesn’t know how to measure distance in meters.

It also explains why people are so reluctant to give up their superstition and mythology. Superstition is an irrational belief that comes from ignorance or fear; a myth is an irrational belief that attempts to explain a natural phenomenon.

Believing in heaven is a superstition; thinking that God has a plan for everyone and that’s why they die when they do, that’s a myth.

Modern religions are a mix of superstition and mythology, the same as any other old timey religion; they difference is that the only reason people know about Zeus, Wotan, Hamburgler, and Set is so they can pass a class on ancient Greek, Nordic, McDonaldsian or Egyptian history while people know about Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, and Buddha because their parents passed on the same mythological superstitions that their parents told them.

There is nothing more dangerous than unquestioned custom; just because your daddy, and his daddy, did it, doesn’t mean that it’s right to do; otherwise, a family of cannibals is as justified in practicing their culinary curiosities as any faithful person is in tithing whichever imaginary deity demands ten percent of their gross income.

Custom is a great, and easy, way to impart knowledge, especially to children; life is so much easier if those little bastards conform to our ways of shitting in porcelain bowls, not shaving our pets, and learning to keep their fucking mouths shut during playoff season; however, most problems in this world come from people who take custom and mistake it for sound learning. Each generation must examine their parent’s customs to decide which ones stay and which ones pass into the forgotten annals of history like nickelodeons and the hully gully.

It’s called evolution and, even if you don’t believe that we evolved from the same common ancestor as Koko the gorilla, evolution, it’s real.

Taking the easy route has never been the American way; we’re a country of people who would drive our cars backwards all the way to work if we didn’t have the money to have our transmissions fixed. It’s about time that we stopped using custom to teach our children, explain the reasons behind all the stupid things that we, as people, do and stop relying on that age old adage our parents taught us: “Because I said so, that’s why.”

We can start by explaining why inflammable means flammable, and recruiting doesn’t involve cruiting again.

Actually, that’s exactly what humanity has done for most of its existence, and especially so in the last few hundred years; we try to explain all the new and complicated things we’ve discovered to our decrepit and immutable parents and peers, who still think that it is necessary to hide during an eclipse so that the snake who swallowed the sun doesn’t try to eat them too.

There’s not much difference with religion and its various mythological incarnations. Some of the rules are easy to follow such as, don’t kill anyone and fuck someone besides your own children, but other’s are outmoded and fall by the wayside, such as shellfish are an abomination and donkeys aren’t allowed to wear hats.

Religious adherence to a set of guidelines, last updated hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago, does not take into account the way society changes over time and it’s not a distortion to look at those guidelines and laugh at what ancient people thought were important issues, the regulation of which required codifying. Don’t ask me why it was illegal to buy bread on a Wednesday, but it must have had a good reason since it was punishable by stoning.

Let’s get rid of the churches, and stop reading the bible for practical advice; it’s about time we set religion adrift on an ice floe. I’m not saying that you have to stop believing in God, if I can go on thinking that I’m attractive and witty, then you’re entitled to your ridiculous beliefs too, it’s just that there are better ways to spend your time, money, and spare thoughts that don’t involve eating up your entire Sunday morning and wearing stupid hats.

Sometimes a custom is an honored tradition that imparts practical wisdom from previous generation on to their intellectual and spiritual heirs, and sometimes you just end up with snot on your hands.

Sex Mahoney for President


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