Some Things I Wonder About

Ortolina, Flickr Creative Commons

Why are we here? Where do we go when we die? Was someone really watching Rockwell or was he just paranoid?

Life is peppered with deep questions, of which very few hold my interest. What keeps me up at night are neither the big questions without answers nor the little ones whose answers are a search engine away. The ones that get me are answerable questions, but those answers aren’t available to me for whatever reason. Here’s a few of them:

How did we get suckered into buying bottled water? Civilization is roughly 10,000 years old, and for 9,965 of those years when it came to portable water the vessel was the commodity: dried gourds, water-tight animal skins, flasks, bottles, jugs, canteens, thermoses. The idea was that you bought the container and then refilled it as many times as you cared to for free (or close enough), first from streams and other fresh water sources and later from faucets, drinking fountains, etc., connected to municipal water supplies. And then somewhere around the mid-80s, when Bruce Willis thought it was a good idea to sing, we collectively decided that turning this ten millennia equation inside out was a good idea: We’d gladly pay a premium for water in a little single use water bottle. Never mind that in most cases it’s the same water that we’d get from the tap (it’s true! Most bottled water comes from municipal water supplies), somehow this was better. And speaking of those single use water bottles…

How much plastic do I consume each year? By “consume” here I don’t mean “ingest,” though that’s another interesting question now that plastic is turning up more frequently in our food supply. No, here “consume” denotes “use and throw away.” I try to avoid single use plastic, but I bet I generate a lot of plastic waste annually. Try this little experiment: Raise your hand and vow not to bring home any disposable plastic. Now go grocery shopping. Enjoy your onion. Maybe I should hoard all of my plastic waste for 12 months and see what it amounts to. Since I mentioned hoarding…

Why is hoarding one billion baseball cards crazy but one billion dollars is admirable? I don’t know whether there’s a collector out there with one billion baseball cards, but imagine your latest love interest disclosing this piece of information to you. “And one billion isn’t enough,” he (because let’s face it–it’s likely a he) says. “If I could own all the baseball cards I would.” Crazy, right? Now replace “baseball cards” with “dollars” and magically you’re in love with a mover and a shaker rather than a nut job. But baseball cards and dollar bills are both funny little pieces of paper sporting images of people. Neither has intrinsic value; rather, their worth comes from a collective agreement of value that collapses the moment that agreement falters. Yet gross accumulation of one is pathological and the other is admirable? No wonder we were so easy to sway on the bottled water con. Which reminds me…

Is Donald Trump happy? He claims to be fantastically wealthy, handsome, a great golfer, an exquisite specimen of both intellect and health, a world class Lothario–a winner in all aspects of life including reelection, and yet he seems so sad and angry. What’s it like inside that meaty head where nobody else can hear? On those rainy evenings when Donald Trump fills his golden bathtub with soothing bath beads, lights his Yankee candle, and settles in with a glass of Franzia and a good romance novel is he happy? You know who else I wonder about…

Does Pete Rose care about his lifetime ban anymore? Over 30 years have passed since Major League Baseball banned Charlie Hustle from their ranks. Rose was one of the best ever to play the game: Prior to the ban he was a certain hall of famer. Over the last three decades he filed petitions for reinstatement, commented publicly, etc., but when the lights are off and the only sound is the ringing in his ears does 80 year-old Pete Rose really care about the ban? He’s still remembered as one of the greatest players of the late 20th century, after all. Only Pete knows, but I suspect that as competitive of a player as he was he can’t stand losing the battle to redeem himself in the eyes of his former employer. While on the subject of ethics…

How different would the world be if all societies governed themselves based upon what is best for children? Would we create and dispose so much plastic? Would we hoard money, or turn childhood pastimes like sports and trading cards into multibillion dollar businesses? Would we be so quick to dismiss things like climate science, wealth gaps, violent crime, and inequality? I honestly don’t know, as “what’s best for children” is awfully subjective. How does one quantify that? On the other hand some things are easily counted, which leads me to wonder…

Why do we need to manufacture anymore coffee cups? Have you visited a charity shop recently? Drop by your local Salvation Army or Goodwill and take a look at the mugs and cups. World’s Best Boss/Mom/Dad/Wife/Husband. I Hate Mondays. Your Corporate Logo Here. There are roughly 8 billion people on the planet, and probably 10 times that many coffee cups. Why so many cups? Are our national strategic coffee cup reserves in danger?

So yeah, those are some of the things I wonder about. I wonder about what you wonder about, too, which is–well, pretty wonderful.

Categories: op-ed

3 replies »

  1. Your list is fascinating. I often play the same game in my idle moments, which, since I retired, are all my waking hours. Why do pro-lifers lose interest in the sanctity of life once a fetus emerges into the world? They generally oppose programs to provide food to hungry school children. They oppose programs that provide health care to the ailing and housing to the homeless. Why do people who have more money than they can ever spend oppose paying income taxes but work tirelessly to ensure that lower income brackets pay their “fair share.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My head hurts now but it’s most likely forever chemicals. Why did we buy the notion of nonstick pans that flake off to then park themselves inside of us for… ever. Additionally PFAS is just not as sexy as per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances. Some scientist is regretting time spent on proper naming when the marketing department came in with something that would crackup an eight year old boy – PFAS’s.

    Nice flow here James. Tangential thoughts that really aren’t.

    Just questions ma’am, nothing to see here, just questions.


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