What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Blame and credit. OK, it’s fashionable to blame Joe Biden for interest rates and inflation and gas prices and whatever else anyone believes is going off the rails at any given time. Fine. Taking the blame is an occupational hazard of being president. I think, though, we’re missing some of the up side of the current economic environment – namely that gas prices and generationally high inflation levels have apparently made backyard fireworks a budget line item that was ripe to dramatically decrease or be cut out completely for people in 2022. With only a few individual outliers, personal fireworks displays within earshot of the homestead were constrained almost exclusively to between 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM on Independence Day and were dramatically smaller and less intrusive to the general peace and tranquility of the evening than they have been in previous years… so, thanks, Biden. I mean if we’re going to blame him for global economic forces at work, he might as well get some credit for the good stuff he doesn’t have any control over.

2. Time. The standard work week lasts approximately 375 hours. A week of vacation time wraps up in just short of one hour and 26 minutes. I know here are psychological reasons why we perceive the passage of time differently under various conditions, but that doesn’t make the fact any less annoying – particularly when your most recent batch of days off is quickly diminishing. It this case, perception is stupid and I hate it.

3. Religion. I’ve covered it before, but it bears repeating: I’m under no moral, ethical, or legal obligation to follow the tenants of your religion. I don’t care if you follow the old gods, the new gods, the Greek pantheon, Sol Invictus, Vishnu, Buddha, or Jesus Christ himself. Your beliefs govern the way you live your life. The minute you turn your faith into a belaying pin to cudgel others about the head and neck, no matter what peace and love you preach, I’ll oppose you loudly, at length, and with whatever force is necessary to get you to cease pummeling others with your interpretation of faith and goodness. You’d think in the year of our lord two thousand and twenty-two we might have left some of this medieval fuckery in the rear view, and yet here we are. 

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. “Responsible” adults. If you’re over the age of 18 and find just about everything in your life continues to end up being a big ol’ shit sandwich, might I recommend taking a chance on trying to be accountable for your own decisions and actions rather than trying to pass the responsibility off to any or everyone else. The neat thing about being an adult is that, with very few exceptions, I’m responsible for my own actions – and for the outcomes that follow. Apparently, though, there’s a whole bevy of other adult humans that think the problems lie with everyone except them. This, I suspect, is overwhelmingly the cause of my generally dim view of humanity.

2. “Encouraging” telework. Oh, the paperwork definitely says we encourage telework. It’s an important part of our continuity of operations plan to help us get through a hurricane, the building burning down, or a bad year of the flu. What we don’t do is actually encourage it. I know this because the expectation, no matter how unstated, is if there’s a meeting involving one of the Uberbosses, there’s never a provision made for anyone to participate other than by being right there in the room. Sure, you could ask and they might set up a phone line, but it will be done grudgingly and met with a decided side-eyed look. We’ve gotten very good at lip service to this not being 1975, but how we actually operate hasn’t changed all that much. It’s less than a surprise.

3. A return to “normalcy.” After a couple of days of clocking out at 2:30, getting back to the normal schedule has been… disappointing. It’s hard to believe that a realtively minor shift in schedule can be a significant mood enhancer. It would probably be even more of an enhancement if I somehow managed not to be so relentlessly commited to issues of time and schedule… but as always, I know my key motivators and influences and time is likely to always be one of them. So here we are, back to situation normal, trying to stave off the madness for another day

Blaming “Big Pharma”…

So Johnson & Johnson just got bitch slapped by the State of Oklahoma for creating a pain reliever it turns out has some addictive qualities. A fair portion of the interwebs are cheering this development.

I’m a contrarian, though. There are some fine points that I don’t quite understand. I have questions.

Opioid pain relievers are, obviously, considered pretty good at what they were designed to do. Without deep diving into the science of how and why, my assumption is they were created principally to reduce / manage pain. It occurs to me, a guy with no medical degree or scientific training, that there are a lot of ways to get after that goal other than opioids depending on the severity of the pain in question.

So now, the question is, what, if anything, is available that’s just as effective at revealing pain as a standard opioid? Then, the question becomes, what role do doctors have in determining the most effective treatment? Finally, we get down to brass tacks and ask what responsibility does the general public have in terms of being informed about what these options are and what they are putting into their own bodies?

You see, I don’t blame the drug companies here – at least not to the level of holding them out as the ultimate bad guy. I suspect in developing bigger and better opioids they were simply responding to a demand signal in the marketplace. That is to say that when given an option, people tend to want to reduce the pain associated with medical conditions or procedures as much and as quickly as possible. I don’t blame them. I’m less than heroic under duress. I don’t want to be in pain any more than is strictly necessary. I wouldn’t do well if it came to holding up under torture. What can I say, I’m a man who knows his own limitations.

With that all said, I’m also a guy who makes his own decisions. I’ve been prescribed opioids on a couple of occasions. Fortunately, the level of pain involved was such that I could manage with a few hands full of 800mg ibuprofen and go on about my business. Even though it was readily available, I opted to bypass the higher powered pain killer because I didn’t really need it. A lot of other people would have made different assessments of their own needs under the exact same circumstance. But everything starts with that choice… and then consequences follow.

But, this is America in the 21st century, so we have to have someone to blame for every bad thing that happens. “Big Pharma” is an easy and tempting target when it comes to who caused the opioid problem. It is their product, after all… even if that product only exists because we collectively have demanded a better and faster painkiller. They gave us a hell of a product. Maybe in the future we we should be a bit more thoughtful about what we ask for and noggin through some of the second and third order effects it might have.

Yeah, right. Like that’s going to happen. Never as long as we have a convenient scapegoat to relieve us of the burden of our own responsibilities.

The God of Happy Accidents…

There’s something that’s been bugging me for the last few days. It’s one of those things that most don’t consider a topic for polite company and I’ve swung from one side to the other debating whether this was the right place to even bring it up… or whether I should bring it up at all or just let it be one of those questions that agitates me quietly forever in the back of my head. Since I use this site as a platform for pretty much every other flavor of Buddycontroversy, I don’t suppose religion should be more off limits here than any other topic has been in the past.

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m not exactly what you’d call religious. I’m not sure I can even get away with describing myself as “spiritual,” as many people seem to prefer these days. It’s not exactly that I’m anti-religion, but I’ve never quite been able to accept faith as the ultimate evidence of things not seen. I’ve always liked my evidence to be something a little more corporeal. Despite that, I’ve always had a healthy level of curiosity about world religions and have a tendency to pay attention when they are discussed academically.

This past weekend I heard a theologian argue that we can’t really blame God when something bad happens. In the next breath, this same panel member argued that we should praise God for all the good things that we enjoy in the world. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where my train of thought came off the rails. It seems to me that if we’re going to worship an all knowing, all powerful deity that is responsible for every good thing that happens, the very nature of an omnipotent God demands that He also be responsible for bad things when they happen. To think otherwise suggests a divine duality – one god responsible for all good things and another responsible for only bad things. That’s a pretty problematic concept to tinker with when the world’s major religious groups are pretty well established as monotheistic enterprises.

After writing that last paragraph, someone is sure to argue that I just don’t like religion in general or Christianity in particular. Because I know my own mind, I can say that’s not exactly true. I’m fine with religion and with Christianity (as long as they’re not being forced on anyone at the point of a sword)… what chaps my ass is hypocrisy. If someone of faith had the stones to go on national television and simply say “sometimes God just lets bad shit happen” I think I’d be fine with it, but to absolve your particular deity from responsibility because it doesn’t fit with the traditional narrative that God is Good requires a level of mental gymnastics that I’m not comfortable carrying out.

Although I’m not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination, it seems to be that if there is a God and He is, in fact, all powerful and all knowing, then we’re doing Him a disservice by only giving Him accolades for the happy accidents of life. Sorry, but if He wants the credit when things are going well, He’s going to have to share in the blame when it’s gone to hell in a handbag, even if it’s only because free will was His idea in the first place. How’s that for a controversial stance?

Goddamn wine in a box…

One of my personal favorite phrases and one that doesn’t get enough use once I left Frostburg, is the venerable “Goddamn wine in a box.” The phrase was coined when a friend blamed the consumption of, not surprisingly, a box of wine for sleeping with a girl we all affectionately called “Dumpy.” As best I can remember, she sort of looked like a bullfrog. What can I say, young adults can be a cruel lot when they’re traveling in a pack. And when the inevitable question “how could you sleep with Dumpy” was asked, I suppose the only natural response could be, “I don’t know, man… it was that goddamn wine in a box.” To this day, when I see a box of wine, I smirk and then laugh. *sighs* Thanks for the memories.