Archive for February, 2015

As childhood heroes grow old and die, it’s a reminder of our mortality

by David McElroy

Nimoy and Shatner

I’ve known for a long time that the people who played the crew of the starship Enterprise when I was a small child are getting old, but it still caught me by surprise Monday night to see a picture of a very old-looking Leonard Nimoy with the news that he has been hospitalized for severe chest pain.

When the celebrities of our youth grow old and start dying, we feel pangs of something. Is it regret? sadness? or something else? I’m not sure what to call it, but the feelings are ultimately about ourselves, not about the people who are dying.

James Doohan (Scotty) and DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy) are already gone. Nimoy (Spock) and William Shatner (Capt. Kirk) are old men. What does this say about me?

I know it sounds selfish to interpret someone else’s problems this way, but isn’t that natural? I didn’t know any of these people except as actors whose faces and voices were burned into my child brain. They only have meaning as reminders of the little boy who wanted to join them in space — away from the reality that seemed so unhappy down here.

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Why are we uncomfortable when other people aren’t much like us?

by David McElroy

A different drummer

At a gym where I go, there’s another member who makes me very uncomfortable.

The guy is about 30 years old and he has no apparent understanding of social boundaries. He talks to everybody in intrusive ways. He’s constantly repeating things that don’t seem appropriate to be talking about in public. He’s been known to open curtains in the showers to randomly talk with people.

Employees at the place tell me that people have complained about him and his family has been warned that people find him creepy and intrusive. He makes me very uncomfortable.

After he came through the locker room when I was in there Thursday morning — stopping to talk with people as though each were a trusted old friend — I found myself talking to a couple of guys after he was gone. We were speculating about what his issue might be — something on the autism spectrum was our best guess — and one of the guys mentioned that he had grown up across the street from him. He said the guy’s parents were strange, so maybe it was some sort of family lunacy.

After that brief chat, I walked into the shower feeling a deep sense of relief. I was surprised to realize that I felt relieved simply because I’d had another conversation with people who validated my feelings about the guy. The unspoken subtext of the conversation was, “That guy is weird. He’s not normal like we are. There’s something wrong with him. We’re the ones who are OK.”

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The real crime is how CNN is trying to manipulate what you believe

by David McElroy

CNN headline about murdered students

 

When three college students in North Carolina were murdered Tuesday night, it was a tragic story for their families and friends. Now CNN is throwing its resources into turning these murders into “hate crimes.” If there are any honest journalists left who work for CNN, I hope they’re still self-aware enough to be ashamed of their employer tonight.

This is a screenshot of the lead story on CNN’s website for most of the day Wednesday. (Click it for a full-size version.) I’m so disgusted by the manipulation and poor ethics of this graphic that it’s hard to know where to start. But let’s look at it quickly anyway.

We’ll start with the hammer head above the photo: “A hate crime?” Most of the time, when a news story has a question mark, it means, “This is what we want to believe, but we don’t have the facts to say it, so we’re just going to imply it.” In an opinion piece, there’s nothing wrong with it. Even in some news stories in which there’s legitimate mystery, it might be acceptable. But it is always a violation of ethics to place your own unsupported agenda into a headline and then use a question mark to weasel out of taking responsibility for what you’re claiming.

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Goodbye, William (1999-2015)

by David McElroy

William-Jan. 26, 2015

He was named for William the Conqueror. He came into a home with five dogs and six cats and let everybody know that he was now in charge. He was supremely confident as a kitten — you might say arrogant — and he conquered every room he entered.

Mostly, though, he conquered my heart.

It was my ex-wife who found him and brought him home in 1999. I can’t say that I was thrilled to add another animal to the menagerie, but there was something about him that was impossible to say no to.

So he became the seventh and youngest cat in the household, but there never seemed to be a moment when he wasn’t in charge.

Eventually, all the others died of old age or disease. At 16 years old, William was the oldest — the unquestioned king of his domain.

Just about 10 days ago, he started acting lethargic. After a few more days, he had little interest in food. Early last week, a trip to the vet confirmed my worst fear. My little friend was very sick.

William had a tumor the size of a lemon in his abdomen. There were signs that it was attached to something related to his gastrointestinal system. His age and his condition meant that surgery wasn’t an option. All we could do is put him on steroids and try to “jump start” his appetite. If he would start eating again, he might have many months of quality of life left. But if he wouldn’t start eating, he had no chance.

Just five days after that diagnosis, William died Sunday morning about 9 a.m. He never seemed to be in pain. His cancer-ravaged body simply shut down as I held him. All of a sudden, he was gone — and his battle with the cancer was over.

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Dead man’s watch always there to remind me of my own mortality

by David McElroy

Watch-closeup

When I was about 10 years old, I saw a dead man right after his car had been hit by a train. It happened near where we lived at the time in Anniston, Ala. I’ve never gotten that image out of my head.

We lived away from the city and suburbs, out in a little community called Choccolocco. At the turnoff from the main road to get to our house, there was a railroad crossing. We came upon it one afternoon after an accident had happened. We had never before stopped at an accident, as far as I remember, but since my father worked for the safety department of Southern Railway, he had a reason to check it out. And I think he also wanted my sisters and me to be very aware of the danger of being unsafe around trains.

I still remember the unnatural stillness of the accident scene. Even though there were people standing around watching, everyone seemed dead silent. The man’s body was placed onto a stretcher to be taken away.

As the ambulance attendants walked the body toward a waiting vehicle, they had to pass within inches of where I stood. I could have reached out and touched the body. Right as they passed, the body shifted slightly and the dead man’s arm dangled off the stretcher — right in front of me. On the dead, hairy arm was a watch.

In the surreal vision of my mind’s eye, the arm dangled in front of me for what seemed like an eternity. I saw the second hand still moving on that watch and it’s an image I’ve never gotten out of my head.

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I’ll make fun of your Super Bowl, but you can’t make fun of my Spock ears

by David McElroy

Grumpy Cat-Super BowlI won’t be watching the Super Bowl today. I doubt Grumpy Cat will be watching, either, despite someone decking him out in a Seattle logo here. I figure he wants both teams to lose.

I enjoy football, but I’m a college football fan. The pro game bores me. I don’t have an attachment to any of the professional teams, so I just don’t care one way or the other who wins.

I get tired of the rabid obsession that seems to descend upon the United States on the day of this game. It seems excessive to me, and I’m sure it’s easier for me to see it that way since I’m outside of the mass of participants.

But despite my disinterest and my discomfort at the obsession, I’m getting increasingly uncomfortable with the backlash against it. I’m afraid that those of us who don’t care about the game have become a bit elitist and arrogant.

I see non-football fans competing with each other to see who can care the least about the game. I see people condescendingly saying that if others would just care about the things they care about — whatever they happen to be — the world’s problems would be fixed. I see people looking down their noses at others simply because they enjoy a game that doesn’t matter to the first group.

In a lot of ways, it’s just another manifestation of something that keeps troubling me. It’s just another form of people saying, “Why aren’t you people more like me?

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

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