What is the use of a house if you haven't got
a tolerable planet to put it on?
--Henry David Thoreau
Elvis is in your jeans
He's in your cheeseburger
Elvis is in Nutty Buddies
--Elvis is Everywhere, Mojo Nixon
--I want to say one word to you.
Just one word. Are you listening?
--The Graduate (1967)
It's not all guns and roses here at Ranger. We care about the environment, and this is a post to recognize Earth Day. The ways in which we are blighting our planet are manifold. Botanist Michael Pollan says in the New York Times Magazine's Earth Issue we need to live lighter and be more self-sufficient, thereby becoming an example to others.
It is questionable whether monastic chic will catch on here. Because the topic is so daunting, I will just share a simple thought, a dabble in conspiracy theory. It is a tale connecting plastics to the virtual game, Second Life.
On the same day last week two stories were featured in the MSM and a connection was formed, as writing on this site has taught me to make linkages, however tenuous.
First, it was reported that a compound found in plastics, bisphenol A (bis A), was possibly detrimental to human health, an endocrine disruptor linked to various reproductive abnormalities; Canada would be banning it. The four New York Times links are here.
It has been linked to insulin resistance, which may be why we are so fat; it may stimulate, or suppress, the immune system, resulting in a rash of autoimmune diseases; it may result in a host of reproductive failures, including cancers and impotence.
Like the ubiquitous Elvis in Mojo Nixon's song, bisphenol A is everywhere: it's in the cups and bottles from which you drink, it's in the lotions contained in the bottles, it's in cosmetics, baby bottles and sippy cups, it lines the cans of canned food, ad infinitum.
In addition to bis-A, phthalates are another component of flexible plastic goods which may cause similar problems when ingested.
The reports did not go into detail about the reproductive problems, but among these are undescended testicles and micropenis, in boys.
A micropenis makes it hard, as Ranger would say, to get the hose to the fire. This brought to mind a male friend 15 years ago speculating on the reason behind his smallish member. A finer soul you could never hope to meet, and he thought perhaps the wearing of too-tight Spiderman Underoos in his youth might have been to blame. Now, I am thinking maybe the plastic baby bottles had something to do with it.
What's a boy to do?
Well, one solution is just live another life, a Second Life. The New York Times featured an article the same day on The Sims, a computer game in which players create a virtual life. While this game appeals mainly to teenagers, it brought to mind the virtual world game Second Life, which has become an obsession for many adults. A WSJ article from last year lays out the problem (Is This Man Cheating on His Wife?)
Why not trade the micropenis and pot belly (not a winning combo) in for a ripped bod and become a philanthropist-capitalist? Dudes at the bar will envy you; chicks will dig you. Take on a wife -- there are no obligations. You can even take on a few. Be a jet-setter. Earn the big bucks. You can have anything you want at Alice's Restaurant. But only on the 15" screen.
You can attend virtual anti-war rallies at the village green; socialize at the clubhouse later, all from you computer screen whilst huffing down frozen calzones and Milky Ways and Mountain Dew in your tattered skivvies, trash bucket nearby in which to chuck the empties. You feel like you are actually doing something. Like Steve Martin's character Navin in The Jerk, you too can Be Somebody!
I am not alone in my theory. Dr. Leonard Sax also sees an environment dripping in xenoestrogens and pthalates as possibly driving boys and men to live in these virtual worlds as they become more and more like Peter Pans.
Now you take it to the next level. Let us say you don't want troublesome people protesting in the streets. Might you then give them Nalgene bottles and virtual streets?
It's just a theory, mind. But if you had the materials and tools, wouldn't you build a real house?