Thursday, December 19, 2002


People who know me consider me peculiarly mild, even unflappable. But the truth is that inside I am horribly ill-tempered. I am an angry young man growing old. I am doomed to live the rest of my life with frequent fits of rage.

Yesterday, on the CBC news, the public radio station, they thought it worthwhile to interview a person about her opinion that Iraq should not be invaded because (1.) It is a very old and proud civilization, a Mesopotamian civilization begun by the Sumerians 4500 years ago and (2.) the U.S. has weapons of mass destruction, too, so it is fair for Iraq to have them.

Tonight the CBC television news felt it appropriate to interview someone who did not like a department store’s using live mannequins (women who model clothes in storefront windows by standing still) because it “is degrading to women.”

I just finished grading 60 papers written by college students. Half of these students are simply wasting time and money. They are uneducated and stupid, and they do not care. Don’t ask them to read the book or show up to class. Oh, they’ll read the book the night before a paper is due. They simply paraphrase and plagiarize the book, and this is called a “paper”. This is why I turned in my resignation from academia a couple months ago. I will not do this meaningless task for another 30 years.

A man on a call-in radio show: “I have children by two previous marriages, and I am fully involved in all of their lives.” I think he even believes this.

Reckless drivers and speeders kill plenty of two-year-olds every year. On tonight’s news it was reported that a man killed a two-year-old because he crashed right into a train while being distracted by his cell phone conversation.

In response to numerous student complaints that professors just assume that leftism is the right philosophy in college classes and fail to leave the question open to debate, a professor of English named Gravitt wrote this on a web message board:

“Some parents should send their children directly to church and skip college. This way they can ensure a proper message is being sent. Isn't this what they do in the Madrasa in Pakistan? It worked for Bin Laden, why won't it work for them.”

These things cause enormous fluxes of vitriol in my veins. I am doomed to this. A friend of mine, who spent his childhood under the Nazis and a communist authoritarian police state, consecutively, says things could be worse and that I should not be so ill-tempered. But I am doomed. I cannot change. This is my vice. I will take it to my grave. It will continue to cause unhappiness in me and, sometimes, in others.

The question is: How can one overcome vice? I suppose it depends on the vice. In my case, I think the answer is to try to remember, to reflect on the vast amount of good in the world. But how can one remember to do this often enough?