20 December 2016

 Joseph O'Neil, The Dog

     Joseph O'Neil's book is interesting in several respects:  His illustration of Dubai and his characterization of the super wealthy.  Dubai and the super wealthy are, in The Dog, totally compatible and appropriate for one another--vacuous, with no substance.  The character through which we view both, is a commentator, a viewer, a critic living in an environment described as the equivalent of an airport.  Visualize your self waiting for a plane at an airport without any connection to anyone there but a destination.  This is Dubai, a gigantic airport. 

     As the 2016 election recedes behind us, a lengthy quote from the book is apropos.

      "To 'surf' even non-pornographically is to ride one two-foot wave of imbecility after another.".... "I think it's the phenomenon of these commenters--who must be taken to represent the masses, a body from which nobody is excluded--in combination with my new intercontinental perspective, that has left me with a most unfortunate impression that my fatherland--inescapably the United States of America--is, or has become, a strange, gigantically foolish place that sooner or later will be undone by the calamitous mental life of its population, whose bizarre domination by misconceptions is all to well incorporated by its representatives in Washington, D. C."

     The book is worth reading, if for no other reason, that it will depress you once again with the fact that no amount of education can defeat the mass mind.  As to facts, "A fact is where it all starts to go wrong." p. 149 of the Pantheon Books edition. Out national debate this election season has had no relation to the facts; facts are deemed irrelevant and annoying.

     The portrayal of the super wealthy is a portrait of total squander, unconcern for lesser beings, and the requirement that any inconvenience be born by those who serve them.   In  The wealth of Dubai is unseen except for the buildings in the desert, but also the control emanating from unseen sources.    Our protagonist's  job interview is at the Claridge Hotel which happens to be in London at 10:00 the next morning requiring an immediate cab to the Kennedy for a flight to London overnight.  Our man arrives at the Claridge Hotel on time only to see the person who requested his presence speed off in an auto on other business cancelling the meeting of our traveler who then flies back to New York without the interview.  This view of our friends, the super wealthy, who we would all like to emulate does not change throughout the book.

     Hence the name of the book, The Dog, which is what our man is--a pet.

18 December 2016


     I presume that we all have little things that have become large annoyances.  I have two that I endure daily and from the same source.  My immediate family and associates find my annoyance amusing.  This I believe shows a shallow understanding and lack of judgment.  We have a local radio station which my daughter and I listen to on our morning trip to either school or the bus.  The call letters for this station will not be divulged for the protection of the weather person from others who might also be annoyed and would be unable or unwilling to simply express their displeasure verbally.

     I personally find it difficult not to express mine in the car when driving in the morning as the weather guy gives us his version of the current weather and the day's forecast which includes his pronouncement of how I feel as I'm sitting in the car listening to him.  First, the weather person does not know me; he does not know my circumstances; and, he certainly does not know how I feel.  He does presume to know however.

     When describing the weather conditions, he will matter-of-factly relate that the temperature might be 25 degrees for example; but in the same breath and with obvious gusto and pleasure he will then tell me it feels like 10 degrees.  My response to this is no, it does not feel like 10 degrees, it feels like 25 degrees.  He, and many others, apparently have determined that the actual weather is irrelevant; that what I really need to know is how I'm feeling at that moment.  If I were standing outside, clothed or unclothed, I would be aware that the wind is blowing.  It remains the same temperature whether the wind is blowing or not.  I might be standing behind a building out of the wind; I might be in my care with no wind whatsoever; I might be in my garage ready to get into my car.  Under these circumstances, the wind velocity is irrelevant--I don't need to know it.

     All reporters of whom I am aware, find it in their interest to make things seem worse than they are or will be.  This is especially true of meteorologists and other weather people one sees reporting the weather conditions on TV or listening to on the radio.  It must sell.  More people listen, the betters the ratings, the more advertising sold. But, there is a second very irksome habit of this same weather person for which there is no excuse.

     Secondly, it is not suppose to be 30 degrees on the day in question rather than 25 degrees.  Invariably, the weather person in question will tell us, the listeners, that it is suppose to be 30 degrees today.  This is a false statement.  There is no "suppose to be" temperature.  What this man refers to is the average temperature for the day in question.  There is nothing mandatory or required of a certain temperature on a certain day at a certain time-there is an average!  Because one can not predict what the weather will be on a given day with exactness; nor can one determine from year to year what a given day holds, we have averages.  Averages are very useful things: they give an idea of what to expect at any time of the year.  The average temperature may be important to know-in advance-so that if any weather planning is necessary, it can be done.

     These are my two irritants from the same source.  If I ever encounter our local weather person, we shall have a discussion of these items and hopefully I will be able to convey an understanding to said person that how I feel is not his concern and of his misunderstanding of the concept of average.