Okay, Okay

29 March 2001

I can't believe you want to hear a moose joke. But at least some of you do. (Evidently this is what I need to do to get reader feedback....) I'm always wary of telling jokes, because a joke screams, "Look! I'm trying to be funny!" If I'm funny accidentally, that's all for the best. But to claim to be funny deliberately, well, that's a bit daunting. Setting up expectations and all. Okay. Well, they're moose jokes, so your standards will be low, right?

So there were these two guys who were going moose hunting up in Alaska. And the bush pilot they'd hired to drop them off and pick them up said, "Now, remember. You only have the license for one moose. Besides, this plane won't take the three of us and two moose. You can only shoot one moose."

The guys said okay, and the pilot dropped them off. He landed again on their meeting spot a few days later, and sure enough, the two guys had two dead moose with them. The pilot had barely gotten out of the plane before they started going on about how it was coincidence and they shot at exactly the same time, and couldn't they please just try to bring both moose?

They finally talked him into it, so they loaded up the two moose onto the plane, and all three guys got in. The pilot revved up the engine and got the plane off the ground, but just barely -- they crashed into a hill across the lake.

One of the guys was thrown clear of the plane. He looked around for his friend and the pilot. His friend's feet were sticking up out of a snow-bank, so he pulled the guy out and dusted him off.

The second guy had been launched pretty good into the snow-bank. He shook his head to try to clear it. "Where are we?"

"'Bout a hundred yards farther than last year," said his friend.

Okay, that's one of the moose jokes. Maybe I'll tell you another in a later entry. Maybe I won't. I will be moosily capricious. I don't think it'll be like Tim's goats, though. I don't think moose will be popping up in my journal from time to time. Even though I had a stuffed turquoise elk as a child. (There are advantages to having Swedish relatives, and one of them is the weird presents they find appropriate for children.)

I say this now, but watch. I'll finally come up with a novel-length fantasy for grown-ups, and it'll center around moose imagery. And I'll try to surreptitiously remove this page from my journal archives, but you all will remember and throw it in my face.

Yesterday was Dumb Stuff Day in some ways. I was on my way back from Hayward State's library (one of the worst-designed libraries I've ever visited!), driving down Harder Road. I'd guess Harder Rd. is around a 12 degree incline -- doesn't sound like that much, but hills are not nearly as inclined as we tend to assess them. So I'm halfway down this thing, and I see a yellow traffic diamond: "Hill." That's all. Just "Hill." In case you hadn't noticed, I guess.

Then the radio came on with an ad for a garden center. It was going on at length about sales on potting soil and this and that, and then it said, "Remember, April 1 is National Re-Pot Your Plant Day!" and went on a little more about potted plants and their need to grow. National Re-Pot Your Plant Day. I mean, National Goof-Off Day last week was one thing. And National Ice Cream Day (July 9), that makes sense. But National Re-Pot Your Plant Day? What about National Clean Your Grout Day? Or National Sort Your Grandpa's Closet Out Day? Sheesh. Too many things being observed, not enough things being celebrated.

If it wasn't for the perfectly honest garden store commercial that preceded it, I would have assumed that it was a joke. But wow. National Re-Pot Your Plant Day.

Oh, and speaking of pot, the Supreme Court has me filled with dread. They're about to strike down the medicinal marijuana laws out here. I can just feel it coming, and I'm not claiming unique psychic abilities -- pretty much every news article I've read has made it clear that this is the attitude of the court. It annoys me when people are stupid. When people are viciously stupid, that's beyond annoyance. And when people in high places are stupid, that's a little more upsetting. So when people in high places are viciously stupid....

Actual argument of the lobby against medical pot: it may make young people think smoking pot is okay.

Woo, yeah. Most teenagers I know absolutely idolize cancer, glaucoma, and AIDS patients. They tape fake IVs to their arms and try to get away with wearing those little backless hospital dresses to school. Tres chic.

For those of you who don't know, marijuana is currently a Schedule One drug. That means that (if you live in the U.S.), your doctor cannot legally prescribe it to you for any reason. She can prescribe cocaine. But not marijuana. If you have a good argument for why this should be the case, come on ahead and tell me. I've never heard a logical argument on it yet. The arguments are not based on medical evidence. They're not based on solid trains of logic. They are based on pure and simple fear of teenage junkies. And these days, they're being upheld by people who smoked pot in large numbers just for fun when they were teenagers.

I've never smoked pot. I don't intend to. But I've seen statistics that say that close to 40% of my fellow American citizens have tried it at least once. If all of them decided to vote for Congresscritters who were willing to let sick people get the medicine they need to live and live comfortably, we might come closer to having a sensible drug policy in this country. A little closer, anyway.

Full disclosure: I believe in drug legalization. All the way across the board. Legalize it. Victimless crime is an oxymoron. But medical marijuana seems to be a totally different issue to me: whether taking a pointless stand is worth people's lives and their quality of life.

This does not go on my list of stuff I think you should know. But I want to tell you anyway, because I think it's interesting. Guess who makes the most money on pornographic materials? It's not Playboy Enterprises. It's not Hustler. Give up? It's General Motors. Yep. GM. They make $200 million a year on pay-per-view porn flicks from DirecTV.

I came up with another theory. See? Now I know what all those people meant when they said I was full of it. "It" is evidently "theories." I think this one is good, but if you can come up with some counterexamples, I'd like to hear them. This was in an e-mail conversation with David-from-Strange-Horizons. (We have at least four Davids who are likely to come up in conversation around here: M. Horwich, the Strange Horizons article editor we met at the Nalo Hopkinson reading; my father-in-law; my godfather [the younger one, who lives in L.A. but visits up here]; and Mark's advisor. Oh yeah, and then there's Heather Orser's husband. Who will be coming up in conversation today because he's going to be a daddy again! Congrats, Orsers! You already got it right once, with Siri. I hope your next one is even close to that cool.)

Oh yeah. The theory. Okay. I think that we use sensory metaphors differently, in English, for the type of stuff we're trying to convey. If we're trying to convey more factual, rational stuff, we use more visual metaphors. It's "do you see what I'm saying?" (This metaphor persists into spoken communications.) If we're talking about emotional stuff, it's auditory metaphors: "He's a good listener" and "Yeah, I hear you." (This metaphor persists into written conversations.) And if we're talking about something we know but not consciously, something that we can't explain, we use olfactory metaphors: "there's something fishy about his argument" and "I smell a rat." I think there are good reasons for all of these. People trust things they can see written down -- they can trace exactly what's been said and go over arguments again easily -- or drawn or modeled. But if they want to really get a sense for how someone is feeling, the tone of voice is essential for many people. And most people don't deal with scents as consciously as I do, so when they smell something, it may trigger all sorts of associations they can't trace or name.

I'm going to put the stuff for chicken pot-pie in the crock-pot now and then get some real work done. So enjoy your first moose joke with my blessing.

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