Wednesday, July 30, 2008

South on I-95


Koreans believe in an urban legend called Fan Death.

There’s a Wikipedia article on the subject if you’re interested in reading more, but, to summarize, if you leave a fan running in a small, closed room, it will create a vortex and remove all the oxygen thereby causing you to suffocate.

Another explanation is that the fan blades eventually chop up all the oxygen particles until there are none left to breathe.

The official government position is that, if a body is exposed to electric fans or air conditioners for too long, it causes dehydration and hypothermia, plus, an increase of carbon dioxide in the blood stream.

Upon first examination, this kind of urban legend seems particularly harmful, untrustworthy, and downright fraudulent, but when you consider that people all over the world have been shoveling Jesus down other folks throats, sometimes at sword/gun point, it doesn’t seem that bad.

Besides, just like evolution and human-caused global warming, that fan death does not occur has never been conclusively proven; similarly, no one has ever shown that going swimming within thirty minutes after a meal causes debilitating stomach cramps, but there are mothers all over the world still peddling that load of horse manure.

In the old days, it was incredibly hard to tell this difference between an urban legend and a scientific fact, but, in these modern times, things are much easier.

If you receive an email with the character string FW:, then everything contained therein is probably untrue. Anything that attributes a particular phenomenon to God, Jesus, or a ghost is improvable at best and a damn lie at worst. Feel free to further disregard anything with the word conspiracy in the title or body text.

Of course, not all disinformation comes through your inbox; much of it originates in advertising and is then appropriated as truth by people who don’t know any better.

My wife and I argue about advertising all the time. She thinks it’s a harmless way for artists to produce work, and I think it’s a conspiracy created by God and the ghost of Jesus to sell more American cars.

Trinatorial scheming aside, the Tipper Gore in me would like to silence advertising to protect people from their own idiocy, while my wife thinks that anyone who buys a Ronco Rotisserie Grill deserves the severe scalding and financial penalty they eventually receive.

Advertising puts me in a difficult position, since I’m ordinarily in favor of free speech, even to the detriment of everything else. I don’t see anything wrong with a veteran call girl graphically describing her sexual history to a room full of six-year-olds, but that’s mostly because the call girl isn’t trying to convince the children to give her money for sexual favors. The second she does, then we have a problem.

It’s not that I don’t understand advertising, people have useless shit to sell and they need suckers to whom it can be sold, and that is generally harmless; I don’t particularly care which brand of toilet tissue you use on your backside just so long as I don’t have to unclog the soggy, scented, double-ply mess out of your toilet when the damn things backs up; however, when I am crushed to death beneath the massive bulk of your SUV because you’re both too insecure in your masculinity to settle for a minivan, and too stupid to figure out how to use the Bluetooth headset that you had to have for Christmas, then I’m far less likely to sympathize with advertisers.

There’s no point in punishing a driver for their negligence, because people are like dogs; yes, some of them will learn if you repeatedly shove their face into the steaming pile of love they leave on your living room floor, but most of them just bow their heads until you’re out of sight and go back to licking their assholes clean.

Then again, if I blame advertising, doesn’t that make me just another whiny, crybaby harping about the media’s responsibility for society’s ills? Just how responsible can you expect a species to be when it took them 20,000 years of social-evolutionary development just to realize that their coming often represented a death knell for any large edible animals in the area? We couldn’t even get a society going without inventing an imaginary, all powerful father figure to watch over us and justify our ruthless aggression.

In the end, I have no other choice but to accept advertising as yet another screening process so that, when I hear people explain to me how their new oscillating fan also ionizes their air, I can turn my brain to more important tasks like replaying old games of Frogger in my imagination.

I guess I’m just a little sad when I sit down with an old friend, and rather than talking about new books we’ve read, movies we’ve watched, or hobos we’ve stabbed, we talk about new commercials we have both seen. Plus, it’s too much, eventually advertising wears us down until we’re standing in a supermarket trying to decide between the classic or the old fashioned seasoning.

Just make sure you turn off your air conditioner before you sleep tonight.

Sex Mahoney for President


Currently listening to:

Traffic and Weather
by Fountains of Wayne
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