After breakfast at Knight’s Diner with Gay’s dad and two aunts, we drove back to Seattle. When we got home we found that the painter had started painting the house! Hopefully, the weather will hold up and we’ll have the job done next week.

Also in the mailbox was Bowling for Columbine that we watched last night. Michael Moore isn’t as unbiased as I’d like in someone filming a “documentary” but he did find some interesting things about gun violence in the US. He portrayed the US as a country in a state of constant fear that causes an inordinately high number of deaths from guns (and by “inordinate” I mean “insanely high”). Ever see those Volvo or Michelin commercials that essentially say “If you don’t use our products, your children will die”? Ever watch a newscast that, before breaking for commercials, says something to the effect “We have information coming up that will keep you from dying”? Fear sells. Moore showed how other countries with a much lower rate of gun deaths has the same media, violent video games, rock music, violent movies as the US. The other countries have just as much poor people, just as much or more unemployment, just as much ethnic backgrounds, etc. The other countries have just as much a history of violence and aggression as the US. The only difference between the US and the other countries is capitalism.

Anyone who reads this site knows how much I dislike large corporations. Capitalism does great things for people (cures disease, cures hunger, makes life easier, etc) and the US wouldn’t be such a world power without it (and I mean that in a good way). And best of all, it’s simple, requires few laws and it actually works. But as with everything, it has its negatives, namely breeding unhealthy competitiveness through all levels of our society. I’ve travelled a little around the world in wealthy countries and in poor countries and the one thing that has always amazed me is that the people in the poor countries are far happier than the people in wealthier countries. I’ve been to Cuba and it’s not a pretty place. If you’re an American, you’re likely to view Cubans as pinko commie atheist bastards who are all thirsty for the blood of us hard-working, honorable, god-fearing, good people. But Cuban people are the friendliest, happiest and least-selfish people I’ve ever met. These people could barely afford to feed themselves, yet they offered us food without hesitation. In the US, you could get shot for taking a drink of water from someone’s garden hose.

In the US, people don’t smile, they scowl. Smiling people are freaks or they want something from you. People don’t talk about how happy they are, they complain. Happy people are stupid, naive or doped up. People don’t congratulate others on their successes, they criticize them and point out their own successes instead. People who congratulate others are conceding defeat. I worked at what many people consider the bastion of capitalism and a great example of American corporate success. In corporate America and in American sports, we talk about winning with verbs such as “kill”, “slaughter”, “destroy”, “crush”, etc. Why are we surprised when our children grow up thinking they also need to kill, slaughter and destroy their competitors?

Lunch time.