Hot Air: Prime Suckers

I don’t begrudge any businesses for creating whatever phony-baloney “Days” they want in order to fool their potential customers into thinking they’re getting special deals or real steals. America since it’s inception has been the world’s safe haven for clever snake oil and used car salesmen. Even — or especially — in today’s “enlightened,” instant information environment, people still fall for any smooth talker’s patter.

If history has shown us anything, it’s that humans are easily swayed, falling for emotional, terror-inducing, flattering, or pseudo-scientific appeals. We think we’re smarter today than were the yokels of 1850 or the illiterate, pre-technological wandering tribes of the Middle East of 2500 years ago. By and large, we’re not.

So if, say, retailers today want to try to persuade us that we must go out and shop for shit at 1:00 in the morning the day after Thanksgiving because, by golly, by doing so we’ll save more money than we’ll even spend, for chrissakes, why then they’re only engaging in what can be considered the one true American tradition. People who want to sell you crap will tell you anything you want to hear and you’ll eat it up because you want — nay, you need — to believe it.

It’s a dance that’s been played here since the Founding Fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal,” but then went on to pen a Constitution that codified the sub-human status of slaves.

Today, apparently, is Prime Day. Okay, fine. Amazon can declare today anything it likes. It can offer bushwa sales and unbelievable deals. It’s just that we, the people, don’t have to buy into the bullshit. Our newspapers and electronic media do not have to run blaring headlines in their news holes, telling us it’s Prime Day. We don’t have to remind each other when we meet on the street that it’s Prime Day.

NBC’s Today Show Treats It As News.

Just as we don’t have to consider Black Friday or Cyber Monday actual days. They’re not. They’re conceits dreamed up by public relations and advertising people, perhaps the least likely souls on this planet to whom we should look for definitions or parameters.

So, to the next person who says to me today is Prime Day, I say to you, Please shut up.

Just Guys

Bloomington is ground zero for hero worshipping Buddhists, the Dalai Lama in particular. People in casual conversation actually refer, to that religion’s current global head as “His Holiness.” The Dalai Lama visited this town nearly ten years ago and people still recall the event in dreamy, reverent tones, as if…, well, some kind of god descended upon us and gifted us with his presence.

There’s even a Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and monastery here, on Snoddy Road, founded by old man Gyatso’s brother, a fellow named Thubten Jigme Norbu. For some Bloomingtonians, it’s the center of the universe.

The Dalai Lama, for my money, is a guy (real name: Tenzin Gyatso; born 1935 in Takster, Amdo, Tibet to a family of farmers and horse dealers) who specializes in issuing the type of kindergarten platitudes that college town seekers of Truth and Knowledge and All Things Good & Right eat up.

I don’t have anything against Gyatso, the guy, just as I have no particular quarrel with, say, Jorge Bergoglio, AKA the Roman Catholic Church’s Pope Francis. I’m sure they’re both swell fellows and, likely, riveting dinner guests. But I don’t figure either of them possesses any superhuman insights or can access a divine pipeline. Their employers, however, to one degree or another, are as suspect as any big corporation or association of people, filled with blowhards, zealots, ambitious ladder climbers, influence peddlers, and — yes — jerks.

Buddhism, apparently, does not inoculate its adherents against the baser, more repulsive aspects of our species, no matter what the Dalai Lama’s fanboys and -girls swear. To wit: There’s a strain of Buddhism — run by Lamas less celebrated hereabouts than the 14th D.L. — becoming overwhelmingly numerous and powerful in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. These Buddhists detest Muslims and rant and rave against practitioners of that religion from morning until night. And if someone blows up a mosque, say, well that’s tough shit because Muslims are the bad guys, not like us. Sound familiar?

Even the current Dalai Lama has stuck his foot in his mouth a time or two. Again, that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. He’s not.

He’s just a guy.

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