Hard Truths

By Sidney Reilly

Hard Truths_1_29On Mourning

SkyMall filed for bankruptcy late last week, and people all over the country are now questioning how they’ll get a look at Highlander replica swords, automatic kitty litter machines, and romantic one-of-a-kind original jewelry options all in the same publication. The explanations for the popular in-flight magazine’s unexpected demise are ranging from the obvious, “Well, the stuff was all crap and not that cheap either,” to the less obvious, “Their financial statements show the company was a mess, and a long overdue change of CFO could have prevented disaster.” I’d like to point to a quieter culprit: the slackening of rules on when you can use your cell phone or computer on a flight mixed with the technological advances that allow you to get both cell reception and Wi-Fi signal in the air.

The only reason you picked up the SkyMall magazine in the first place is because you forgot to bring a book and the steward just asked you rather brusquely to stow your computer and turn off your phone. Lord knows you’re not just going to sit there for the next three to five minutes without something to entertain you. Then once you saw the hiding place for your spare key that looks like a dog poop, on sale for only $19.99, you were obviously hooked and a fan for life.

But in the age where they don’t even care if you turn off your phone anymore, who’s reaching for the magazines in the seat-back? Not to mention when you get the dog poop hide-a-key in the mail it really doesn’t look very convincingly like poop… or so I’m told.

On Inflation

Tom Brady is a dirty, baby-eating cheater and he purposefully deflated footballs so his team would have an advantage. Okay, have I covered it? 

Let’s all admit the obvious here: nobody cares. The options are this: pretend it didn’t happen, and allow potentially the best and most exciting Super Bowl we’ve had in a while to come off without further bellyaching; or make a big stink about it and ruin the Super Bowl. This is sort of like the steroids in baseball thing; sure, they obviously broke the rules, but if we took a hard line on it, there’d be nobody left to play but a bunch of scrawny also-rans. And we want home runs.

I’ve always advocated just tossing out all the rules and letting these guys get dirty. I don’t look to them for moral guidance, I look to them for athletic and strategic excellence. To me that includes amphetamines, anabolic steroids, espionage, dirty tricks, football deflation, and anything else these devious geniuses cook up. Purity contests are for elections. This is football.

If you want to watch a bunch of saints play, find a sport that’s got some… or move to New Orleans, I guess.

On Time

Full disclosure: I’m not a scientist. So please bear with me on this next part, because there’s a chance I’m being obtuse here—but is the Doomsday Clock, which was pushed forward two minutes to 11:57 this past week, not the vaguest, most non-scientific thing ever to be pushed on us by scientists? Not counting the myth of the female orgasm, of course.

It’s a giant metaphor to help us visualize how close we are to total annihilation from nuclear destruction, or climate change, that’s been gauging our apocalyptic proximity for nearly 70 years by edging us closer to midnight, which of course has all sorts of built-in end-is-nigh symbolism. But the question is, why? What does it even tell us?

They moved it up two minutes. What does two minutes mean? What does 11:57 mean in terms of us actually all getting melted by nuclear explosion or greenhouse gases? What did 11:55 mean? Is it a coincidence that it moved  up two minutes right as two major crises unfolded (I’m referring of course to SkyMall and the Patriots)? Why on Earth did we all deride the color system for warning of terrorist attacks, yet we seem to unquestioningly accept this far hazier and clunkier system? Is it really just the subjective judgment of a handful of scientists? Let me propose a more modern mechanism that is responsive to the idiosyncrasies of modern living: the Doomsday iPhone. It only has one app, Candy Crush, but the in-game advertisements increase in proportion to how close we all think the end is.

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