March 3, 2005

fervent uncertainty

i have a lot of opinions that are vehement but undecided. for example: pennies. are they such a small unit of currency that i find them too annoying to deal with? do i think the penny ought to be abolished, or do i think they are legal tender goddamn it, and they have a non-zero value? not to mention how silly it would be to have a system of dollars and cents where a single cent is an abstract concept (like the lira became). this indecision may lead you to believe that i don’t care. nothing could be further from the truth. i care vehemently; i just don’t know which way. i vacillate between passionately hating pennies and passionately wanting to stand up for them.

but this goes well beyond pennies. i am in the position of undecided vehemence on the issue of those livestrong bracelets. on the one hand they are a stupid trend that people use to demonstrate their commitment to one dollar charitable donations. on the other hand, the bracelet people are exploiting this trendiness for a good cause. coercing pretentious jerks to give to cancer research, i can appreciate that. and then again ‘livestrong’? annoying name. wearing a bracelet that says “i’m against cancer and not living life to the fullest!”? annoying sentiment. then again, medical research is the probably the best kind of charity, and you can never really go wrong there. then again again, lance armstrong is wicked irritating.

(i almost found myself in a pickle with the wwjd bracelets too. even being a hardcore atheist i have to admit that people acting the way they think jesus acted would be nice. of course, nobody really started doing that, and it just turned into a superficial fad among a more religious core audience. when you see someone wearing a wwjd shirt and furiously waving a sign that says “god hates fags!” you know that the message isn’t exactly getting through.)

i have this problem with oil drilling in alaska as well but for a different reason. i had a friend in high school that was from alaska, and the two of us agreed about everything. we would spend like 3 hours every night chatting and never failed to see the other’s point of view. it was wonderful, and always edifying (in fact, this is where my views on pennies first originated--probably copped from him). we had this whole conversational zen thing going on, where we knew how to tell when the other knew more than we did and it was time to back down. there wasn’t any kind of pride involved in debates. and he had a very strong opinion on oil drilling. the problem is that i have no idea whether he was for or against it. i have completely forgotten. all i know is that he was well-informed, and had insider info about one of the sides misrepresenting something really important. not to mention that he was, in fact, from alaska. and he was not at all ideological, so i can’t get any clues from that. he was pretty big on the environment, but he knew more science than most environmentalists, (he was aware, for instance, that only the recycling programs that conserve energy are worthwhile. not enough people respect the laws of thermodynamics.) he loved the unmolested wilderness in the west, but i’m sure he wouldn’t object to drilling if the reasons against it were baloney.

in any case, i don’t even care about this kind of thing, but from time to time i’ll hear someone talking about it, or see an article in one of the student newspapers and feel all aloof, like “i know for absolute certain that the person writing this is wrong…if they disagree with dan.” as in the other cases, i have absolute confidence on this issue, i just don’t know what i think.