I think that, with respect to many things, you can divide the human race into two clear categories. Those who care deeply about professional sports and those who think it’s weird that people are so passionate about grown-ups playing what are obviously children’s games. Those who like heavy metal music and those who think it’s a secretly devised form of eardrum torture.
And those who care about things like today’s royal wedding, and not only will watch broadcasts of it from beginning to end but will drink tea and eat crumpets and display Union Jack flags and wear the kind of silly hats that our friends across the pond will happily don on such august occasions, and those who scratch their heads in bewilderment that anybody in America would refer to a complete stranger in a different country as a “royal” or speak knowingly about “Prince Harry” and “the Queen” or pay any attention whatsoever to their nuptials or to anything else they might do or say.
I’m in the second category. I’ve never understood the fascination that some people have with the British monarchy, and when something like a wedding happens the attention that it draws seems to me like lunacy. I’m not one of those people who thinks that Americans who are interested in this stuff are betraying their democratic roots or high-society wannabes, I just find it mystifying that anybody cares about it. I suppose some people just like the pomp and pageantry that the Brits do so well, and enjoy talking about dresses and hats and the uniforms that the men wear.
Me? I’d really rather watch sports. In this world, I think, it takes all kinds.
Socks are the the most roundly ignored article of western clothing.
Unless you wear socks with shorts — which itself makes a significant statement about the kind of person you are — socks are hidden by your trousers. Very few people buy socks based on their colors, or designs, or fabrics. Even fewer people try to match their sock selection with the rest of their workday wardrobe. I usually pick out socks at random in a pitch-dark room in the morning because it is irrelevant whether my socks are blue, black or gray, plain or with a line down the side or an argyle pattern. No one will see them, so what difference does it make?
I think socks realize that no one pays attention to them or, frankly, cares about them. Most socks accept this fate and move forward with their humble existence and, when selection day comes, seek to find pride and fulfillment in performing their intended function of keeping human feet warm and dry and unchafed in a shoe. Other socks come to despair and can’t stand to continue with their sock-drawer lives and seize the first opportunity for freedom that presents itself, abandoning their mates and finding fulfillment in a life of solitary contemplation behind a clothes dryer or under a bed.
Still other socks rebel in a different way. They reject the very essence of sockdom. It galls them that no one gives them a second thought. They crave attention and can’t abide being ignored. They know that there are only two ways that an average sock can break out of the pack — by developing a hole in the toe or by losing all upper sock elasticity. Socks that eventually, after years of service, develop a hole in the heel have done their duty, but socks that quickly develop a hole in the toe are just acting out. Droopy socks, on the other hand, know that, over the course of the day, they will fall below ankle level and bunch around your heel again and again, requiring constant adjustment and attention. Each upward tug just further feeds their neediness and addiction to getting more and more attention.
In some ways, socks are like people.
More than 1.3 billion people live in China, and more than 20 million live in Beijing. What is it like to live and work in Beijing? This video of the morning rush hour at one of the Beijing subway stations gives you an idea of what happens when a lot of people try to get into a train to get to work.
You look at this short video and you wonder: if it is this cramped and jammed outside the train, what must it be like inside the train?
Occasionally you will see a story that just makes you shake your head in dismay about what it says about the human condition.
For me, at least, so it is with a story about a guy in Michigan who won $2 million in the state lottery TV show called “Make Me Rich,” but nevertheless remains eligible for food stamps — and continues to use his food stamp card to buy his food. The man in question, Leroy Fick, says he doesn’t feel bad about still using taxpayer money to buy his food. Fick’s $2 million lottery winnings don’t disqualify him from a program that is supposed to help the poor because, under current law, food stamp eligibility is based on gross income and lottery winnings are considered liquid assets. As a result, a guy who has more money in the bank than the vast majority of taxpayers is happy to have those taxpayers pay for his groceries. What a greedy jerk!
I recognize that this is an extreme case, and obviously the “liquid assets” loophole needs to be fixed. But what it really sad about this story is that a guy who has had a stroke of incredible good fortune has absolutely no regrets about taking advantage of that loophole, and thereby taking advantage of his fellow citizens. Why doesn’t “Lucky Leroy” Fick have a conscience that causes him to realize that using his food stamp card under these circumstances is just wrong?