Speaking of Conspiracy Theories

Is it any coincidence that the show that prepared us to accept the egregious existence of a government conspiracy against the common person–The X-Files–was on Fox?

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Strawberries

There was strawberry sauce on the cheesecake. I asked myself, “Is it worth the itch?” I said, “Yes.” Little did I know, the right question was, “Do you want to puff up like a giant marshmallow and inexplicably wake up from a weird-ass pain in your finger that alerts you to your puffy marshmallow status?”

Bob Edwards

Bob Edwards wonders why people aren’t more outraged. This is a good question. I have an answer: Conspiracy Theorists.

For years, conspiracy theorists have sat on my TV presenting me with seemingly plausible “explanations” for shit that really has no good explanation other than individual idiocy.

Who killed the Kennedys? Dr. King? Who keeps alien craft out at a top secret facility in New Mexico? Who faked the moon landing?

For forty years, we’ve been telling ourselves a story about how our government doesn’t play by its own rules. And sitting out there at the very edge of that are, I think, these assassinations and fairy tales. We don’t all believe that the government would go that far, but it’s all out there in the distance like a beacon, showing us the contours of how bad it might be.

And anything that happens–torturing prisoners, keeping people detained without constitutional rights, lying about weapons of mass destruction, paying reporters, etc.–just fills in an area that conspiracy theorists have already outlined for us.

Why was the X-Files so popular? Enemy of the State? 24? Alias?

Because we already believe that there are parts of the government so secret and so powerful that they operate beyond the law and we can’t stop them.

There is no outrage because we were already living in a country where this kind of behavior seemed possible. We all thought the day had already come–long before this–in which our country was secretly unrecognizable to us.

Amazon.com

Can a thing be both cool and depressing? If so, then Amazon.com’s warehouse is truly that. On the one hand, it’s enormous, like a forest of books and cds and DVDs all waiting quietly on three endless floors. Eighty-seven miles of shelves and pickers pushing carts back and forth and up and down.

You order a book and immediately this massive system sets to work to fill your order. Books and the other items come from all over the warehouse, converging first in bins, then on conveyer belts, then on shelves, then cardboard trays. Then everything is wrapped in plastic, put in a box, stuffed with bubblewrap, labeled and taped, and sent.

Above the hot machinery in shipping–each piece of equipment making its own rhythmic noise–snakes a white tube of cool air undulating under the power of fans, lined with holes to direct the air to the hot workers below.

My favorite part, and my least favorite, was at the end, watching this lone woman sorting all of the boxes onto four conveyor belts–one below her and three behind her.

There, in those boxes, are the words that we write and carefully edit and agonizingly design. There, in those boxes, are the books that we cherish. We wait with glee for that package, opening those books to random pages to take a peek at what awaits us once we start to read. Words, paper, ideas, all boxed up and tossed over her shoulder in a rhythm instantly recognizable–I-hate-my-fucking-job.

It’s the kind of place you walk through and suspect that everyone there wishes his or her life had gone differently.