Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Important words spoken in jest

One of the best written comedy websites out there is One of the things that makes them so good is that often their articles are the straight dope- but being about people, they're naturally funny. And sometimes, they include really important words that people need to hear, like 5 Complaints About Modern Life (That Are Statistically B.S.)


Chalicechick said...

As I've written before, another modern complaint that I think is BS is when people bitch about violent video games and/or TV shows. Given that executions were public entertainment for all of human history until the 20th century, fictional characters smacking each other around seems pretty tame.

Long fight sequences in pretty much anything bore me and I'd rather not watch most violent entertainment, but that doesn't mean that the "societal impact" complaint isn't stupid.

Also, if Amazon ever makes me sign up for one of those "pay phrases," I think I'm going to use "Turducken Nothwithstanding."

Joel Monka said...

Another is "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer". That's only half true in any sense, and in a practical sense, neither half is true.

As far as the rich goes, the numbers are approaching the realm of the theoretical. Nobody really "has" a billion dollars; what they have is a few million in pocket money plus influence. And even the millions reach the silly quite early- Jay Leno may have a hundred cars to my one, but as we both can only drive one at a time, and we both have guaranteed transportation, (I through insurance), we're equally rich in that sense. Suppose he owned a million cars- he'd be "richer" only in an egomaniacal way, not in any rational sense.

Nor are the poor getting poorer. When my parents were children, the bottom quintile meant death and disease from malnutrition- pellagra, kwashiorkor, etc. It meant not owning shoes, and only one set of clothes, and that sometimes made of farm feed or seed bags. It meant entire counties without running water, electricity, or indoor plumbing. Hell, in some parts of rural America, particularly in the south, it was still that way when *I* was a kid- read "Black Like Me", which came out when I was six.

Today, activists are always saying that the difference between rich and poor has never been greater in this country- which is true, if you look at zeros divorced from all meaning. But if you look at lifestyles, the difference today is between living in a mansion, and living in an apartment with only one color TV. When my parents were young, it was the difference between living in a mansion and starving to death in a tar paper shack. Despite there being a bigger difference between my bank account and Bill Gates' than there was between these people and Rockefeller's, I'm sure they would take today's greater wealth gap over the one they had then.

Chalicechick said...

True enough. I generally use the example of how a few decades ago, it was simply taken as a given that a few hundred poor old people would die every summer in New Orleans and air conditioning was a big luxury.

Now poor people, and especially poor old people, can get air conditioning through public and charitable programs.

Progress rocks.

who always took the phrase to mean that individual rich people get richer and individual poor people get poorer, and I generally expect that this is true due to the factors (however one chooses to define them) that lead them to be rich and poor in the first place.