I’ve been pretty busy lately. Just one of those months where there’s a million things to do and only so many hours in the day to do it. Summer’s here so it’s busy season at the campground where I work as a security guard/campground host/complaints department/bouncer.
For my fellow MTstars frequenters, I see the politics board is once again up in flames. I was tempted to write something, but it seemed pointless given the caliber of the idiocy we’re dealing with over there this week. A long time ago, when I was still in training, a patient told his doctor “Talking to you is like throwing sandbags at the ocean.” I’m fresh out of sandbags this week. A huge debate about whether voting Obama increases the likelihood of the voter to commit an act of terror. It also turns out that Hitler was a Democrat because he belonged to the National Socialist Democrat Party. See, the word is right in the middle there. The more you know. Also, the argument that because some media outlets in the 70’s ran a story about a coming ice age, the modern global warming argument is invalid. The news also told me that Dungeons & Dragons causes Satanism and people are putting razor blades in your candy on Halloween. The news is always reporting on things that aren’t happening.
I’m always torn as regards the mainstream media. I often criticize the big news outlets and their slanted, incompetent views. If you saw it on MSNBC it was good news for Democrats, if you saw it on CNN you probably aren’t sure what you saw and if you saw it on Fox News you’ve probably contracted some kind of illness from the mere viewing. Newspapers seem safer and then the Post frames innocent kids. Imagine getting a copy of the newspaper and seeing that you’re a fugitive terrorist and you didn’t even know it. So I don’t trust the mainstream news as far as I can throw it and it’s gotten pretty bloated.
The problem is the other side of that coin. The “You have to find it on the internet or it’s not true” crowd. I’ve officially heard the words “lame stream media” 10 million times too many. The desire for better journalism and fears about what the media is feeding us are legitimate and justified. However, we can’t go running into the hands of journalistic charlatans in response. I’m not saying blogs don’t have a place in journalism, but what makes so many people see them as foolproof? Except this blog. Everything said here is trustworthy. Unless it’s opinion. Or opinionated news. Or a newsy opinion. Which one is this? Like most media outlets I’ve lost track.
My policy is that everything I hear is plain old information. I assign varying degrees of probability depending on how likely it sounded and how trustworthy I think the source is. It only becomes reality when I see it with my own two eyes. And I take that with a grain of salt, because the human perspective is questionable in the best of times. We tend to like to see our memories as indelible. We only become unreliable if we have a disease like dementia. The truth is scarier.
They did a study years ago (and many like it since then with similar results) where they asked people to bring in photos of themselves when they were kids. They would then sneak in a fake picture and ask people about the pictures. Most people remembered the fake picture the first time. Some people saw that it was a fake, but then when assured by the researchers that it was real, they all remembered it as real. Even funnier is that they would then justify the memory to their own brains my making up a story. Like a fake picture of yourself as a kid at a carnival and you remember how on that day that never happened your mom wouldn’t let you get cotton candy and you cried all the way home. A fake picture and an interview later and you now have a fake memory in your head.
Recently they performed another test where they took photos of famous protests like the anti-Iraq War protest in Rome in 2003 or Tiananmen Square in 1989. They showed the normal photos to one group and doctored photos to another where angry and violent looking people were added to the foreground. The people shown the doctored photos remembered far greater violence breaking out and more general destruction than what the control group remembered.
Unless this too was a fake memory, I read an article on… Huffpo was it? Ah, who knows. Anyway, researchers were doing brain scans on people while they were driving. Turns out the reason you might drive past a new stop sign on a road you’ve driven before is because you’re driving from memory. Your visual field is being partially filled in by your memory center to save processing power so you can concentrate on more important thoughts (sex, commercial jingles, things people said that ticked you off and potential come backs, useless trivia, etc.) The exception is moving objects. So, if a dog runs out in front of you, your brain will know to not paint over it with memory because of your potential predator override switch, but if it’s stationary like a car or a stop sign or a downed tree, you might not see it. This doesn’t explain why people going somewhere for the first time will blindly follow their GPS into the ocean, but neither bodes well for humankind.
Long before I was born and my mom was still riding a motorcycle, she was on the highway zipping along. A cat ran out in front of her. She realized afterward that she should have assumed from the speed that the cat was being chased. A dog side swiped her and she went down (rarely hear about people run over by dogs on the freeway). Of course, she did what any true rider knows to do when their taking a spill: Use your body to provide a fleshy cushion for the bike.
So, she goes to the laundromat to wash her clothes. After putting her clothes in, she finds that she’s having trouble figuring out how to use the washer. A bystander comes by and asks if she’s alright. She asks why he’s asking. He points out that her and her clothes are covered in blood. She notices for the first time that he’s right. She decides that she must have been in some kind of accident and needs to call someone. She goes to a neighboring store to get change for the phone. She gives the guy a five and when he hands back the money, she throws most of it back at him and says all she wanted was a quarter.
She goes to the pay phone, but she can only remember her cousin’s number from years before. She doesn’t know what year it is. She can’t remember where she lived. She finally finds her cousin’s number in her wallet and calls her (she also finds her driver’s license and can’t remember where her address is actually located.) She tells her that she might have been in an accident because there’s blood everywhere. Her cousin freaks out as one would in that situation and promises to come get her. Half a minute later, my mom decides she’s been in an accident and needs to call her cousin. Who is now really, really worried. Half a minute later she calls her a third time as she’s getting out the door.
Her cousin turns out to be the worst possible friend you could ever have in this circumstance. My mom convinces her (yes, she was tricked and outsmarted by a severely concussed, wounded and anemic person) that she just needs to get home and sleep and she won’t leave the bike, which luckily is undamaged. She rides it home and her cousin leads the way because she still doesn’t know where she lives now. They drink a six pack together and go to sleep.
That morning she wakes up in unbelievable pain and finds out that she’s missing half her upper teeth on one side, though she did find them in her helmet embedded into the visor. She’s bleeding from her head, she has hamburger for arms and her right leg is broken. The same leg she walked around on with no pain. She gets out to her bike and finds that it’s trashed. When she saw it on the way home, she saw it as it had been before the accident.
If you think this stopped her from riding, you would be wrong. As she told the irate doctor she saw “If you fell in the shower, would you stop bathing?” In fact, she didn’t stop riding until the day she found out she was pregnant with me. She came home that day, put the bike out on the lawn and put a for sale sign on it. You’ve never seen a father so happy to hear their unmarried single daughter is pregnant.
So, the moral of the story is that if you have a concussion you should drive home and drink yourself to sleep… wait… that’s the worse lesson ever.
No, the real lesson is three part:
1. Don’t trust what people tell you.
2. Don’t trust what you tell yourself.
3. Don’t be one of those people that never trusts anything.
4. Considering the choices my mom made before I was conceived, I am extremely lucky to exist.