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Carter A. Johns

Carter A. Johns has written 4 posts for ThisIsWater.org

What $10k Doesn’t Buy: Perspective

I want to keep this brief, partly because I don’t have a real interest in politics and we already have a poly sci major on board, and partly because I don’t think it’s a big deal. But I guess the latter is belied by my posting. I need to preface this by saying that I am by no means sympathetic to the conservative agenda or its candidates, but I am sympathetic to logic and tempered thinking, as emotionality is the quickest route to bad policy (see: 9/11 and the Patriot Act).

Anyway, the nonissue of the Romney/Perry $10k bet from last night’s debate exploded in the media immediately, with #what10kbuys becoming a trending topic on Twitter among the whining liberal class. Apparently, Mit has “lost” his common appeal because he can afford to make a random bet for $10,000, while the more valiant of our 99% class are spending that money on broken down cars and hospital bills. But when you look at the public tax records of our elected officials (and as you overlook the invasion of privacy in obtaining and obsessing over those records), THEY’RE ALL MILLIONAIRES. The Clintons, Obamas, Edwards, Romney, etc. Every last one of them. Since our form of democracy is more like a covert oligarchy/plutocracy/quibble with semantics as you wish, we (on both sides of the proverbial aisle) like to pretend we want, or could ever get, an outsider, some mythical “Maverick from Main Street” to shake up the system. And then we want to ridicule, rightfully so, the Sarah Palins and Michelle Bachmanns and (maybe less rightfully so) the Ron Pauls who do have more of a claim to “outsider” thinking, notwithstanding their seeming incompetence.

In my own opinion, I of the 0.0000000028% that resides at (address withheld), it would be MORE deceptive/insulting for a candidate to make a $1 bet, a la the movie Trading Places, and to continue to pretend that they are among the “common folk”, as has been the conservative M.O. for years (not surprisingly coinciding with the stark increase in wealth disparity). Of course, politics is all about impressions, not substance, and this has produced a hashtaggable trend for whiny liberals to rally around. But it will be just as quickly subverted when the winner of the wager donates that $10k to charity, which is the obvious course of action for a savvy campaign manager. And then, will the liberal rabble complain about the fact that the rich have the ability to make such donations, or will they suckle at the welfarish teat that is private giving?

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Feeling Good

For every hour of glory, there are five minutes of failure that make you feel just miserable. But that doesn’t mean you stop trying for glory. It just means things are going to be rough sometimes, Ponyboy.

I Wrote Something Today

I wrote something today. Or, maybe more specifically, I wrote something yesterday, and more abstractly, I’ve been writing something for a few weeks. But, I finished today, and the final product is much different than the original. So it really feels like I wrote this thing today, even though it is the product of a lot of labor.

The thing I wrote is a script to accompany a presentation for a meeting I’m hosting tomorrow, with several doctors from around the world, to discuss one of my journals. The presentation has been in motion for weeks, various tinkering to the order. But the script is, well, the script. It is me talking for about 30 minutes. Not much different from a monologue, except there is audience participation built in. Today, I read through the bulk and realized there was no plan. I have a plan in mind but I completely whiffed because the structure is pretty firm. I found places to add the plan, the real driving force behind the discussion, a proposal for increasing our content and reputation among urology journals, a kernal of impetus that was lurking behind all the words I had written, and made most of those words superfluous. So,the main point is, I wrote something today.

The script turned out to be about 11 pages long. If you told me to sit down and write an 11-page story, I’d probably feign incompetence. But I did that. Those 11 pages have a clear beginning, middle, and end, with a driving theme and various subpoints revolving around that theme. It represents the majority of what I know about the publishing industry, or at least my small corner of it, and yet, there will be ample room for questions from the meeting attendees, because no one presentation can really be all-encompassing.

In preparation for the meeting, I probably sent about 50 emails of various length and intent. And I have to do all of this for two more journals. People write novels all over their lives and just don’t realize it.

Half Empty: The Charlie Sheen Roastervention

Instead of watching the Charlie Sheen Roast, I watched the first half of the Two and a Half Men season premiere. If you knew me, this might strike you as odd. First of all, I was an unabashed fan of 2.5 (as no one has ever called it), and resolved not to watch the tiger dung left after it’s star’s absence. Second, I was an unflinching supporter of Charlie’s descent into mania. Not my choice, but wasn’t that the point? Besides, feeding the beast that craves the spotlight with more attention is a classic example of Perry Como Syndrome (ie, if you want to stop monsters, just don’t look). However, if you knew me, you also might think my nonviewing was logical, since I don’t have cable and network TV is crap on Monday night.

At the same time as the 2.5 premiere, Fox was airing the Primetime Emmys. I happened to catch Charlie sheepishly apologize to the cast, crew, and producer of his former show and wish them luck. I knew that soon, Charlie would be dead. Charlie probably knew he was going to die soon. And as the characters lamented the loss of Charlie Harper, to the tune of a train splattering, I knew the hackneyed charm of the jokes wouldn’t survive the death of the lead character.

Part of the allure of a roast is making stars more accessible, down to Earth. There is an exquisite moment in the best roasts when the honoree’s face betrays their shrinking ego: am I really that much of a slut (Pamela Anderson) or a public joke (Donald Trump, Donald Trump’s hair [which deserved its own roast])? But, how low did you want to push Charlie, who had already displayed so much depravity yet claimed such control?

Jeffrey Roast, the roastmaster, declared the roast a success because while at a viewing party, Charlie displayed a moment of clarity. You know unlike any other addict in history, or Charlie himself many times over his career. If Charlie is really clean, then mazel tov to him and good luck to him and his family. He will have to admit that he didn’t do it on his own terms, though, because what happened to Charlie wasn’t a roast; it was an intervention. Being emotionally pummeled from all sides by upstart comedians at the end of a disasterous live tour circuit might have pushed him back on the wagon. But Pam didn’t get a breast reduction, and the Donald announced he was running for president. Clearly, they learned nothing from their roasts.

If Jeff Ross inspired a socially approved turnaround for Charlie Sheen, then kudos to him and his intervention. But if Charlie just goes back to being Charlie, then all he did by roasting him was help glorify the beast. He’s kind of all-in on that turnout, but then again, he’s a comedian, so he’s probably not losing sleep.