Friday, July 23, 2010
George Carlin has a great bit about the tendency of American English to disintegrate into euphemisms over time, as confrontational terms are replaced with gentler alternatives which disguise the truth of the matter and lead to pretentious assumptions. As an example, he points out the replacements of terms like "crippled" or "handicapped" with "those in need of special assistance", "the differently abled", or even "the Physically Challenged!" As he is quick to remind us, changing the name of the condition doesn't change the condition; all it does is enable us to ignore it more easily. "The CIA doesn't kill anybody; they 'neutralize' people. The government doesn't lie, it 'engages in disinformation'. Poor people used to live in slums; now 'the economically disadvantaged occupy substandard housing'." Such evasions, he claims and I largely agree, only serve to disguise injustices, offer false comfort for true problems that would be better met head-on, and generally contribute to the climate of hypocrisy and neuroticism that is rife in America today.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I am uniquely privileged to be one of the few people in this world who can put a finger on exactly how much their happiness (defined as "a contented existence"; some would argue true happiness requires more than this, but for me it sounds good enough) would cost to achieve. I have discovered the one thing in life which I want more than any other single thing, an experience so pleasing to me that a day when I have had it is all but guaranteed to be a good day by my definition, and have calculated how much it would cost me to do it every single day. Adding that result to a modest cost-of-living estimate, I have come up with a dollar figure about twice what I'm earning now, at the job I wish I worked half as many hours and days a week at as I actually do. Ergo, I can construe that my ideal existence will be possible as soon as I can arrange to quadruple my income; this is a more or less achievable goal over the long term, and thus I have hope that I may one day be able to fulfill my minimal requirement for peace of mind.