Sunday, May 15, 2011

Frackin' Rabble-Babble Razzum-Frazzum

So, apparently the ubiquitous F-word of the SciFi/Fantasyscape, "frack", as in "What do you mean there's no frackin' chips?" is . . . a real thing??

Kana's Tummy-Bubble Figure 1
Championed by such speculative-fiction titans as Battlestar Galactica and Warehouse 13, the idea of fracking, or "to frack," is not actually as fun -- and is in truth far more naughty -- than Hollywood would lead you to believe. Not just the fictive step up from "hinky" (which is also a real word, not just an NCIS Abbyism) anymore, fracking is a method of injecting a toxic chemical cocktail into the ground to extract natural gas, much like our nigh-unconscious method of inciting a burp by swallowing a little bit of air; the gaseous link to the surface enables egress to hitherto isolated pockets, or bubbles...see Figure 1. It's not well-thought-of by the progressive liberals, which have an opinion-piece/FAQ here. Regardless of the politics, it blows my mind that fracking's a THING. Our language is actually way more comprehensive than the public seems to realize, and we do have words for the things we know about, we just have to frackin' learn them.

And I love 'em.

Even though communication occurs only when meaning is successfully conveyed, not when one person knows a bunch of obscure words, I can't help myself. It's like corn chips for my brain -- you think you just want, like, 3, and then you take down half the bag by yourself. And even though frack became frak on the good ol' BSG to make it an official "four-letter-word," it is still a bridge from Cylons to true eco-concerns that I invite you all to take; worry about "what will happen next time" on Days Of Our Lives, No Seriously, This Really Is Real Life.

Speaking of vacuum might really be a Cylon. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Wheeled Fetish

First off, I regret to inform you that this is an anthropological use of the word 'fetish' -- so however reluctant you are to cast off images involving straps, safewords, or clothes with special holes cut out in exciting places, it's time move back into academia. The cultural application of the word refers to an object to which is ascribed properties, usually intangible, that an outside observer might not see any clear connection to, such as a holy icon's ability to heal those who touch it. And so, with a salutary nod to my professors through the years, I now boldly key my “thesis statement.” Are you ready? Here it goes.

I really, really hate cars. 

Not a knee-jerk hate like racism or something, where just seeing one makes the loathing swirl in your stomach and your mouth sneer. That’s more of a phobia. Probably xenophobia. No, cars have been too consistently a part of my life’s landscape for me to even really “see”/think critically about them until, as they so often do, they break or eff something up and piss you off. Why do Americans care about cars so much?

It seemed so funny at the time
Yeah, yeah,  they represent auto(ha!)nomous movement and independence, and we sure do have a raging brainer for those concepts. But to the point of not having any other viable interstate public travel network? Japan and Switzerland are laughing at us. And they might’ve been the geeky kids back in global-school that America swirlied in the fifties, but now it’s class reunion time and they’re slim, coiffed and successful, and America is “between jobs’ and smells of stale beer. 

We fetishize cars, they’re FREEDOM and ADVENTURE and INDEPENDENCE and if you take the city bus than you’re a LOSER. Every single person on a bus looks like a failure, because they, for one reason or another, weren’t able to achieve the most basic American standard of success; a high school education car. That’s all we want, nationwise. Wheels and the highway. Are we a nation of rebellious teens? We keep telling England we’re grownups, equals, but we still just want to roadtrip every summer because summer school is BORING. We are children who are excited by bright colors and movement. So maybe juvenile velociraptors.

No beep, no light-up indicator….but it made
a sound like a cricket and a smell kind of like
formaldehyde once. So you should’ve known
But they are not freedom. 
They are car payments, and oil changes, and snow tires, and insurance, and traffic, and anonymity and road rage, and the hellish ragescape of the supermarket parking lot. 
They are little lights that flare up on the dashboard, demanding yet another expensive appointment that needs to be made at the autoshop. 
They are unexpected failures that leave you a forlorn figure on the side of the road, because some damn tell you were supposed to have picked up on evaded your perception because you were trying to think about something OTHER than your car for a godsdamned minute.

If one hates going fast, dislikes confrontation or crowds, and has spatial issues with concepts like will A fit into B, then it seems perfectly reasonable to dislike and not participate in driving. But it is not seen as reasonable. Boyfriend’s Mom looks down on me. I am a burden to my friends with cars. Suddenly I am a parasite, a drain on my society, because the bus system is shit and there are no bullet trains. I am somehow juvenile for not matriculating into the adult world of car ownership. All my well-meaning loved ones have at one time or another stuffed me into the driver’s seat of their car and forced me to
-        Get to the other side of the parking lot
-        Park in this space
-        Make my way home or I’m not getting there

They mean well. They really do.
But all this makes me want to do is leave America for one of those more composed, successful nations. Surely they’ll love me for who I am and buy me pretty  bullet trains. But one thought always slides into the forefront of my mind at this point in my line of reasoning: It IS easier to learn the Driving Manual than learning a new language…So I will stick with America, and breathe in the stale beer stink of shame. Because I am lazy, and emigrating is HARD.