Tuesday, August 09, 2005

August 8, 2005

Modest Proposals

Since I wrote last week that "it's over, we lost," readers have asked what I was going to do now that I have accepted defeat. Well, join them of course. I mean, the alternative is to live life of quiet desperation, paranoia and fear. I still have at least another 25 years in me and I want to find ways to enjoy those years despite that living in Christian Right America and a world filled with exploding nuts.

Modest Proposal #1: Living With Terrorism
If you are really looking for the root cause of terrorism jot this down: the earth is getting lousy with humans. Different tribes, religions and cultures have rarely gotten along but, in the past, at least they could put some distance between each other. Now they can't even do that. So we are all getting on one another's nerves, big time.

I recall a psychology experiment on the effects of over-crowding on white rats. They put way too many white rats in a small cage and in a matter of hours some some rats were fighting while others were hanging from the roof of the cage by their teeth just trying to find a little peace and quite. Terrorist attacks in London, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, New York,. Spain, Bali, are manifestations of people who do not like one another – for all kinds of reasons – fighting on our cage's floor.

So, the question I asked myself was, do I want to spend the rest of my life hanging by my teeth from my office ceiling, or can we make lemonade out of this mess.

I think we can find the hint of an opportunity in the popularity of reality TV shows. People seem to want to get real, even for entertainment.

So, why not terror tourism. That's right, turn terror attacks into tourist attractions.

There is precedent , eco-tourism, which has shown us the way. Eco-tourism is were ordinary folks pay huge sums of money to do things on vacation we once had to pay other people to do because the experience sucked. You know, like marching for days through steaming, mosquito-infested jungles to document the existence of a five-ounce bird.

Anyway, I got a brochure from one of those eco-tourism companies. It used codes to help the would-be eco-tourist decide if they were personally fit enough for any given $6000 ordeal. A little cartoon man walking meant, "You must be able to hike at least 5 miles a day," and a little guy climbing a steep slope meant, "You must be able to climb moderate to severe elevations."

The brochure got me thinking -- why not commoditize terrorism the same way? Turn this growing problem into a growing business opportunity. Like eco-tourist destinations, terror tourism would be offered in levels of difficulty. A terror tour of Egypt, for example, might require travelers only be able to "duck and cover" quickly in the event of nearby explosions, where a terror tour of Iraq would be limited to travelers who can do the 80-yard dash in under 12 seconds, crawl on their bellies for at least two city blocks and have no living next of kin.

But wait, there's more. If terror tourism really took off – as I'm certain it would – imagine the demoralizing effect it would have on the terrorists. A radical jihadist in heat peers through his sniper scope ready to honor Allah, only to be confronted with a half-dozen fat American tourists in tour-company helmets and Hawaiian shirts staring back at them with binoculars, pointing, high-fiving each other and snapping digital photos. It would be like a whale watching tour, only these whales shot back.

Just as eco-tourists like to participate in science, terror tourists would surely want to "get a piece of the action" too. So, if I were organizing the tour I would arm travelers with paint guns. Every confirmed hit would win the traveler a free drink at the hotel bar that night. And, can you imagine the crippling shame and burning humiliation suffered by a terrorist punching out after a hard day of jihading covered with yellow and pink paint splotches? Allah willing, many of them would simply walk out into the desert and blow themselves up rather than let their friends back at the cave learn they'd been ambushed by a tour group of infidels from Peoria.

The growth in terror tourism would also be a boon to businesses currently suffering because of terrorism, like airlines and the hotel/resort businesses. The Brits are begging tourists to come back to the UK, for example. But they are going about it all wrong. They are trying to assure tourists "it's safe, to come the UK." Wrong, wrong, wrong. What they need to do is turn that around, tell them it's "not safe," and that's why they should come.

"Come visit the UK and become part of the biggest story of the new millennium -- Islamic terrorism, up-close and personal! Experience the thrill of riding a double-decker bus, the mystery and drama of a trip on the underground and, if you survive that you face the traditional British breakfast."

Oh I know this sounds like a terrible, cynical and heartless idea. But try as I could, it's the only way I could think of that would turn terrorism into something "positive." If you are not personally attracted to the idea of a terror tour, not to worry. The terrorists have their own touring company and will eventually show up in a city or town near you soon anyway.

Then, while I'm at the bar consuming my free drinks, you'll be sorry you don't have your own paint ball gun.

Modest Proposal #2: Dealing With the Growing US Theocracy
Last week President Bush endorsed the notion of teaching "Intelligent Design" along with evolution in school science classes. This whole pseudo-science push by the Christian right had been driving me up the wall. But, since they seem to making headway I figure it's time to also jump and have some fun with it.

They want to teach mythology (Intelligent Design -- Creationism in a lab-coat) on an equal par with evolutionary biology. Okay. But if they are going to teach theories for which there are is no, none, zippo, scientific data, then we can't stop at Intelligent Design.

Remember the book, "Chariots of the Gods?" That book and a host of others propose that space aliens either put us here a few million years ago, or at very least aided and abetted in our evolutionary development. Some say they bred with early man, which I find hard to believe because cave people must have smelled like pole-cats and why would an advanced alien space traveler stoop – so to speak – to such liaisons.

Anyway, there are plenty of folks who still believe that those cave drawings are pictures of our alien creators, so we need to teach the kids that theory too.

And what about folks who believe in reincarnation? That has to qualify too because there's not a scintilla of scientific proof for that theory of life either. But if we are reborn after we die it would explain why the number of assholes alive on on earth at any moment in history seems to remain stable. That's proof enough for me to insist it be added to all future biology texts.

In fact if we add all unproved (and unprovable ) creation theories a fifth year would have to be added to high school to teach them. Here's a couple of dozen.

Then there are lesser known creation theories, like The Flying Spaghetti Monster." While this theory departs slightly from the Christian's Genesis theory, it has quite a following, and tee-shirts.

So, when I am not ducking from ally to ally, paint gun hand, on a terror tour, I will fill my time attending school board meetings where Intelligent Design in on the agenda. I haven't yet decided which alternative creation theory I will insist be added to the curriculum along with Intelligent Design. What I may to is just put them all in hat and pick one before I leave for the meeting. After all, none of them can be proved and are equally whacky so, it really doesn't matter?

The important thing is we progressives out here stop moping around and learn to have fun with facts, like the right does. It's not fair (or balanced) to let them have all the fun, right?

Quote of the Day
"I once joked that if President Bush said that the Earth was flat, the headlines of news articles would read, "Opinions Differ on Shape of the Earth." The headlines on many articles about the intelligent design controversy come pretty close."
(NY TImes columnist Paul Krugman)

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