#120 The Top Ten Things I Don't Understand (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

When I originally began writing Rat Rants, I called the articles "Things I Don't Understand."  That title lasted one article, when a friend reminded me that the list of things I don't understand is infinite while the list of understandables is microscopically short.  I was cowed into renaming the website The Rat's Eye View and that's what it's been ever since.  But every once in a while I'm forced to return to my original roots and this column is my short list (more or less in order, from least to most incomprehensible) of Ten Things I Really Don't Understand:

  1. Country Western Music.  There are far more country fans than there are country folks.  No, being a suburban commuter is not in any way similar to being a country folk.  Country singers wail their misery in historic, nasal accents that would repel most city folks, but in song the sound appears to be, somehow, compelling.  I don't get it.  My local city storm siren and almost any country song will set my dog to howling as if he's got a sharp pin stuck in one ear.  It affects me the same way.

  2. Urban planners.  First, the title is an oxymoron.  Anyone who was actually "planning" would do everything possible to avoid creating an urban environment.  The definition of "urban" is "characteristic of the city or city life."  Why the hell would anyone plan the "characteristics of the city?"  Is there a plug-in for violence, isolation, over-crowding, traffic and housing congestion, and and noise pollution?  I'd think that real urban planners would be folks whose job it is to alienate as many prospective new citizens to keep the quality of city life from falling much lower than it is currently.

  3. Corporate Vice Presidents.  We have one, really nasty, super-powerful Vice President of the United States.  Why do piddly-assed corporations have dozens of that useless species? 

  4. House Plants.  If I'd wanted plants in my house, I wouldn't have bothered to cover the dirt under my roof.  Why do women think that plants belong indoors?  Between the mold, the the litter of dead leaves, and the creepy feel of plants dangling over my shoulder in the bathtub, I've learned to dislike anything green that lives indoors.

  5. Oldies Radio Stations.  When I was a kid, my parents listened to radio stations that played the music of Frank Sinatra, Lawrence Welk, Henry Mancini, Tony Bennett, and Duke Ellington.  Those stations weren't playing 1940s hits, though, they were playing the latest releases of those artists.  Today, even though Eric Clapton, Sting, Elton John, Todd Rundgren, and almost every other artist who survived the 60s is still cranking out new music, the only place they exist on the airwaves is on oldies stations who are still playing the same song list they used in 1971.  Who wants to hear "Journey to Heaven" for the 17,549th time? 

  6. Foreign students subsidized by public universities.  I only sort of don't understand this phenomena.  Universities are mismanaged by the greediest, laziest folks ever to push a pencil.  Every year they demand higher salaries, fewer hours, more perks, and bigger pensions.  Every year, their in-state student populations decline.  The only way they can justify their existence and expense is with a growing student population, regardless of where it comes from.  Hence, the concentration on attracting students from other states and countries.  Out-of-state tuition is far higher, more profitable, as long the in-state suckers foot the overhead bill.  What I don't understand is why the in-state suckers don't ban all state aid to the schools for out-of-state student expenses. 

  7. Immigration Policies.  The only countries who need immigrants are countries no one wants to immigrate to.  The rest of the world ought to be doing its level best to restrict immigration to folks who bring skills and valuable technology to the country.  The last thing the US, for example, needs is more leaf blower operators. 

  8. Legal drugs and illegal drugs. If you were to look at the list of possible harmful side-effects for legal vs. illegal drugs, you'd be hard-pressed to tell one from the other.  Yet, Paxil is being prescribed to children, even when it's well known that this dangerous, harmful drug is likely to create a lifetime physical and psychological addiction that is often incredibly harmful.  The old white guy recreational drugs, Viagra and Dr. Porkinheimer's Boner Juice, are about as "safe" as meth, but they are legal and prescribed by "doctors" and advertised on television as if they were the ultimate "happy drug."  What's with that?  Alcohol is another dope that is well known to be physically and psychologically addicting, but the ads would make you think getting drunk is the short way to Nirvana (not the band, the mythical fantasyland).

  9. Popular Elections. The "most popular elections" are those guessing games we attempt to solve for federal jobs.  I'm still waiting to see my first actually popular person make it past the primaries.  So far, the winner of every election I've been allowed to select on a national ballot has been about as far from "popular" as Rush Limbaugh.  I think these farces should be named, but I can't think of an alternative that doesn't require an expletive that would have to be deleted. 

  10. Lower-middle and middle-middle class folks who vote Republican.  What's with that economic and social suicide?  The Republican Party HATES the middle class, especially those at the bottom of the economic ladder.  They always have, they always will.  The only humans the Republican Party recognizes have incomes (or trust funds) of more $1,000,000 annually.  If you can't contribute at least $10,000 for the opportunity to hear G.W. Bush babble about loving "his base," you aren't on their radar.  The Democrats are no great improvement, but at least they acknowledge their union base and a few of those folks actually work for a living.

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