Tuesday, 1 March 2011

What the hell...?






In today's departure off the beaten track of usual subjects, I want to share some things that have caught my attention for their total bizarreness. These are major news items, yes. But they have contorted my face into grimaces, frowns, and expressions of sheer despair that I have never previously experienced. Maybe that is a stretch; but if my physical face wasn't doing those things, my mental one sure was. I can say that as someone who has been forced to cultivate cynical, pessimistic, or contrairian perspectives on many current issues, when faced with the evidence, I was still beside myself as I pondered the four things I am about to share. Things that made my voice shout "What the hell...?" in the most disturbed octave that came to its register.

I could go on a tear now about how we've hit rock bottom. Or unleash several paragraphs about how there are no more boundaries, telling you we are going to hell in a hand basket and this just proves it, etc. Yet this would be too easy. A waste of time. With these cases, its more than obvious and there is no need to dwell on the obvious. I mean, in an era when grandparents are on facebook and Jersey Shore is a top show, sane people have already had to develop pretty thick skin in order to keep their heads on straight. But this...this...its the beginning of March 2011...and...I don't even have any more intro to give you...what the hell, man?

Starting off today's post, as he starts off every single piece of media that exists these days, is none other than Mr. Carlos Estevez Jr., son of Carlos Estevez Senior and brother of Emilio, of Mighty Ducks fame. Yes, as much as I avoid the celebritrash machine and all the bile that leaks out of its churning vats, the travails of the man you probably know as Charlie Sheen upended me as no previous gossip ever has. This guy is so over the top that nobody can stop looking at him or talking about him.

I don't want to get into weighing in on this man's ridiculous life or trying to sort out why he chose such an outrageous lifestyle; you can read that on every other internet site. Nor do I want to get into tying this into some doom and gloom sociology about our zeitgeist. I just want you to know that I read this trash today and I couldn't believe it. Upstaged the oscars? Usually, when over a period of several months you've made as most sorry spectacle of yourself as anybody has in recent memory, and made absolutely certain that the whole world knows you're an erratic egomaniac hooked on whores and blow, you do something other than hit the primetime interview circuit with a bunch of incoherent rants and gestures proclaiming your the greatest thing to ever happen to humanity. Have you ever seen gas poured on a fire like this before?

I leave the Spears, the Hiltons, the Lohans, the Hills stars, et al, out of my column and my conversations because none of them were ever worth a damn culturally to begin with. People with lots of money, plastic faces, and no talent or anything useful to say don't deserve the time of day or being paid attention to. The crazy thing about Sheen, what separates him from the interchangeable tabloid rag lot, is he actually was a good actor at one time, in films. The guy has some accomplishments; Platoon, Hot Shots Part Deux. I mean, that is some classic stuff. To waste it all calling yourself a drug and saying every dude wishes he were you? There's no coming back from that, and I hope the cameras will do themselves and all of us a favour soon and turn away from what is bound to be a steep and sorry ass decline into obscurity.

Moving from the strange train wreck to the utterly shameful, we have here the son of the ultimate African dictator resource stooge, Equatorial Guinea's Teodorin Obiang, making plans to build himself a $380 million yacht. This is a man from a country where 20% of kids don't make it to age 5, 60% of the population lives on a dollar a day, and the life expectancy according to this is a whopping 51. It's nice that Craig Kielburger and Oprah try to make everybody feel all do-goody and fuzzy with their awareness raising and generalized indignation at the world's injustice, but with pieces of garbage like this walking around, I have a hard time sharing their optimism.

It's hard to get idealistic with them after you discover this case, because even compared to a place like Congo, with its notorious child soldiers and rape/pillage/civil war militia anarchy in the east, Equatorial Guinea is doing fine, thank you. Congo is one of the richest countries in resources but poorest economically, which is a direct result of multi-nationals seeing the size of the country and lack of development as proof that it is vulnerable and the shit I just mentioned as a free pass to take all that's there for the taking. EQG, on the other hand, has a GDP higher than many Asian or European nations, one that blows other African countries out of the water. So what gives?

Well, offshore oil in 1996. Which has been gladly developed by multinational corporations, who have then gladly handed all the runoff spoils to Mr. Obiang's inner circle, so they can buy mansions in malibu and the biggest yacht in the world, as his son proudly states in the link. But give your money to World Vision and Kielburger, I'm sure they're right one the case.

Back here in Ontario, on an issue that you may feel slightly less powerless and depressed about, former eHealth CEO Sarah Kramer was sighted in...Southern California, doing the same thing she did here: making millions consulting! Way to go Sarah! The star pick of the Ontario government to complete the digitizing of the provinces' paper health files, the navy blazer wearin', creepy camera gaze havin', roly poly elitist oversaw the shovelling and waste of a billion dollars to private consultants who accomplished little to no progress on the one straightforward and simple objective they had. The government who loves to brag about the province being a hub for innovation and the seat of RIM couldn't seem to find someone up to the job of setting up some scanners and servers for a lower fee than Ms. Kramer's or who could finish earlier than her expected completion date of 2075. When Ms. Kramer pocketed over 300K severance after a whopping seven months on the job, the government came out with a bumbled response to public rage about how it had to find the "best people" to "compete with the private sector".

Anyway, its good to see she's landed on her feet in a bankrupt state where she can skim her outrageous fees from the top triangle of the American sickcare pyramid. That's 99% of the voters in that State who have absolutely 0 chance of getting health care from the facility employing her
whose scrutiny she won't need to worry about. Maybe Charlie Sheen will come in to revive the lobotomy, paying for some of that "leading edge" care she mentioned in her speech.

Rounding out this bombastic cornucopia of bullshit is an interview with probably the one man on earth more delusional than Charlie Sheen, Moammar Gadhafi. Other than reiterating the cause of his country's unrest, Al Qaeda spiking the youth's coffee, his finest moments include saying he has not had an official position for 35 years since Libya is governed by the people. Ben Ali lasted 36 hours in Tunisia, Mubarak 19 days in Egypt, and Gadhafi - I know he's got great skin for a guy his age, but with nothing else going for him - seems determined to win the dictator longevity contest. Only 60 days into 2011, I wonder what other true absurdity our young year can hold.

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