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Friday, March 11, 2022

No Happy Ending


Colonoscopies are undignified. 

That's what I said. 

Yes, I said it. 

If you live long enough, eventually the only words any doctor will say to you are: have you had a colonoscopy? 

Literally that's it. Doctor, I'm here for my eye exam. Have you had a colonoscopy? 

Doc, I've got a sore throat. Right, have you had a colonoscopy? 

Doc, I'm pretty sure I broke my arm, see the sharp end of the bone sticking out of my skin? Uh huh, when's the last time you had a colonoscopy? 

Doc, I'm having these excruciating chest pains, my arm hurts, my vision is fading out, I'm sweating like Donald Trump Jr. on a coke bender making a TikTok video... I hear you, so anyway let's get you scheduled for that colonoscopy.

Sooner or later there you are, on a table, naked, unconscious, with your ass literally hanging out in the middle of room full of people suited up with masks and face shields, cameras, lights, computer monitors and robot probes like an SpaceX mission to Uranus. Then later, while you're still dopey from the anesthesia and pumped full of sewer gas that's slowly (or rapidly) leaking out and you're sitting in a puddle of your own goo, they show you high resolution full color pictures of parts of your anatomy that you'd rather not see, with the person who's supposed to drive you home right there as part of the audience and ain't that a hoot? 

And maybe, if you're really lucky, they'll tell you that you have cancer. 

Because that's always awesome. 

I don't know, maybe that's a fun day for you. 

Me? I'd prefer to do just about anything else -- well, except for maybe watching that aforementioned Don Jr. video. 

Now, I didn't say it wasn't necessary. 

And I also didn't say you shouldn't get it done when your doctor tells you to. 

And I don't honestly see how what I said was in any way whatsoever at all controversial.

I just said, the whole process is undignified. 

Undignified. That's it. That's what I said. Undignified. 

And Twitter called me ... homophobic? 

Wait, what? 

No, no, you read that right the first time. Homophobic. 

I...

(long pause)

... honestly don't know how you get there. 

It's three days later, and still I still really just don't see how you got there. 

Nevertheless here we are. Homophobic. Cue the outrage. And then, I got to spend the next six hours hearing about how I'm an asshole (yeah, I did that on purpose, tough shit) because here are all these other procedures that are even more undignified if you're a woman. Rage! Rage! You terrible person, you! 

So, in summary, not only homophobic (and really, what the actual fuck?), but misogynistic too. 

Oh, and the people who have colorectal cancer? They were likewise mad. A lot of them anyway. 

What? 

What's that? 

Oh, right. You're right. You're right. I shouldn't take it personally. After all, the whole purpose of social media to be perpetually outraged at every jerk of the knee no matter how ridiculous. You're absolutely right. 

And I really don't take it personally, much. 

Still, homophobic? 

Are you kidding me?


But, I'm getting ahead of myself. 


Remember those old home improvement TV shows? 

Like, actual home improvement shows. 

Remember those?

Back in the 1980s and 90s. Shows like This Old House, Home Again, and Hometime. Dean Johnson. Jojo Liebeler. Robin Hartl. Norm Abram. 

Remember that? 

No?

Well, I guess if you're not old enough for a colonoscopy, you're probably not old enough to remember Bob Vila

Anyway, if you were a homeowner back then, especially if you were fixing up an older house, they were pretty great. They showed you how to repair things. How to renovate on a budget. How to build a new kitchen, knock down a wall, overhaul a bathroom, landscape your yard, how to hire a contractor or how to do it yourself.  They'd give you great ideas, show you what tools you'd need and where to rent them, what kind of materials to use, and walk you through the various steps in detail. 

Moreover, they were fun people. Likable. Interesting. No drama. Every week you'd tune in and see a new thing, a new idea, something you could adapt to your own situation. 

America was a different place back then. 

I'm not saying it was great. But we still had this idea, somehow, that we could make things better. 

Things changed. 

One day, suddenly it seemed, all the shows were about buying some rundown place, renovating it the minimum possible amount, and selling it for a profit. 

Oh boy, profit. 

At first those programs might show you how they were doing the renovations, but unlike actual home improvement that really wasn't the point. And it wasn't long before they dropped even the pretense.

Now, these shows are about drama. 

Oh my God! We've got a problem! Termites! Bad Pipes! We're Going Over budget! Everybody is mad at everybody else! You're fired! What are we gonna do? What are we gonna doooooo?!

Over about 30 years, these shows stopped being about practical solutions and became manufactured outrage for entertainment. 

Reality TV. 


You're wondering where the hell I'm going with this, aren't you?


You're trying to figure out how I got from social media being mad at me over a colonoscopy to Love It or List It, aren't you? 

But, that's it, right there. 

That's the whole thing. 

Somehow over the last four decades, we went from looking for simple, practical solutions to literally manufacturing ridiculous drama so that we can be outraged for our entertainment all the damn time. We don't care about fixing stuff, we want to watch people shouting at each other. 

Home renovation not your thing?

Then take a look at the evolution of cooking shows over the same period. 

We went from how to make a decent meal to a red faced asshole screaming at some poor cook about what a goddamn failure they are. It's not about cooking. It's not even about food. 

It's about humiliation for entertainment. 

And goddamn, don't we just love that? 

Of course, the evolution (de-evolution?) of these shows is nothing compared to what's happened to the news.

So, what am I'm saying here? TV rots your brain? 

Maybe, but the point isn't that these shows, and by extension social media, are causing the downfall of humanity. 

That's not what I'm saying at all.


These shows are simply a reflection of who we've become as a people over the last 40 years. 


We've become a race of beings who are perpetually offended and outraged. 

We thrive on it. And if there's nothing to be outraged about, by god, we'll make something up and be mad anyway! You're not enthusiastic about getting a colonoscopy? YOU HAVE OFFENDED ME!

We can't just live our lives. 

It is not possible for Americans, or increasingly anyone else, to just be happy. 

Oh, but it's so much worse than that. 

See, we can't allow anyone else to live their lives either.

We absolutely cannot tolerate the idea of anyone else being happy. 

We have quite literally reached the point where we as a people, as an ideology, as a society, seemingly can only find self-worth in outrage.

This wretched worldview is bad enough when it results in the kind of bizarre manufactured indignation that I illustrated up above as a lede into this article, but all that happens then is that I take a break from social media until I stop thinking that maybe nuclear war might not be such a bad idea after all. 

As nasty and insane as social media is to me most of the time, I, as a straight white male, am not in any way oppressed or diminished by it. 

I can, and do, walk away when I have to. I have that luxury. 

I have privilege to ignore it if I want to. 

Others, far too many others, cannot escape and the actual real consequence of this contemptible worldview is that it results in real, actual, terrible oppression. 

The real horror is that this oppression exists for no reason, for literally no reason at all, other than that we as a society have come to glory in the humiliating domination of others.

And far too often, that oppression, that true horror, is lost in the seething noise floor of our perpetual outrage over idiotic nonsensical things. 

While my Twitter feed was working itself into a righteous over-caffeinated woke fury over some imagined homophobia on my part, Florida made it illegal -- literally illegal -- to even say the word "gay" in public schools. 

What's that? 

Oh, now you're mad at me about that? The new law doesn't really say any such thing? 

No? 

Yeah, actually, it does. 

Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

May not occur. 

May not

No exception. 

In Kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.

And who decides what is age is developmentally appropriate? 

The state. 

The governor. 

The political party who came up with this hateful bullshit in the first place. 

That's who. 

So don't you dare try to tell me that's not what the law says. 

And if it's illegal to say gay, then it won't be long before it's illegal to be gay. 

Which is what just happened in Texas, where any parents can now be sent to prison for life -- simply for affirming their own child's sexual identity. 

For being supportive of their own children. Imagine that. 

Well, you don't have to imagine it. That's the thing. 

This is America. This is what we have become. The ideology of self-determination and personal freedom, so long as you only identify yourself in accordance with the state's accepted definition. 

Meanwhile, back in Florida again, a second bill just passed the Senate making it illegal to discuss race in public school -- specifically racism. It will be quite literally illegal in the state of Florida to teach  actual American history. 

And this isn't just happening in former slave states. 

Or the Bible Belt. 

There are more than one hundred and fifty similar examples of pending legislation in nearly every other state in the Union. 

Florida and Texas are only the first, they won't be the last. 

But ... why?

No, that's not a rhetorical question. Why? 

Why would anyone care? 

Why do you care what sexual orientation anyone else is? What skin off your nose is it? How could you possibly be offended by what pronoun someone else uses? How does it affect you personally? How does teaching that our nation once held human beings in bondage and treated them as less than livestock diminish you personally now? 

Of course, it doesn't. 

But, it's not about that, is it?

No, it's about outrage

Outrage at the very idea that someone else should know their own identity -- because that's what history is, identity. 

Outrage that someone else should be free to chose their identity -- because that's what freedom actually is, the right to define yourself. 

While social media is yet again outraged at some imagined slight, very real people are being erased from our society. 

That is an outrage. 

This is about an ideology that claims to revere freedom, but is daily reduced to seething yellow-eyed violent rage over the idea of someone else choosing a pronoun. Over someone learning that their ancestors were property. About the idea of actually trying to make the world a better place. 

This is about a people who see themselves as victims, who literally liken themselves to Jews being pushed into Nazi gas chambers, even as their own endless privilege allows them the freedom to take a month away from work and drive their trucks across country to protest an oppression that exists only in their own fevered brains -- while some of them are literally flying the Nazi swastika and how the fuck does that even make any sense? 

It's about a people whose sense of self-worth is measured entirely relative to others, and so they can only feel superior if those others are made less -- it is the swaggering self-assurance of a bully. 

It is about a people who've been conditioned to believe that worth is measured in bombastic chest beating, in physical strength, in power, in size, in bulk, in muscle, and most of all in the willingness and ability to visit violence upon others. It's about the biggest truck, the most powerful gun, the greatest wealth, the loudest voice, and the largest flag. And the biggest hardon. 

It's about self-loathing. 

It's about fear. 

It's about an ideology that can never ever be happy with itself and thus can only find satisfaction in the humiliation and subjugation of others. 

It's about those who profit from hate and outrage and who think there will never be an accounting. 

Writ large, this is Russia's invasion of Ukraine and it just might end in nuclear fire after all. 

It's about a culture that is the end result of decades of manufactured artificial outrage -- so much so, that it's become self-sustaining and thus you must find offense in the most innocuous of things while real injustice goes unchecked all around. 

We have become a people who pretend to oppression, who scream in outrage at the slightest of imagined offenses, solely in order to drown out the anguished cries of those who are the true victims of tyranny, inequality, and injustice. 

Outrage isn't the opposite of calm, it's the savage antithesis of reason

And far too many of us have given up on making the world a better place. 

227 comments:

  1. Uh, maybe you still watch T.V.? Too much?
    And pay too much attention to jerks in social media?

    I gave up T.V. 10++ years ago. Blessings: No advertising, no political nonsense. Still listen to NPR (radio).

    I follow subject matter I care about on the inner-tubes. Science, computers, politics, mathematics, history, literature. It's really easy to stop particular crapola if I don't like it. And the experience is not linear like it is in the broadcast media - I can jump around based on headlines, abstracts, references, etc.

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    1. First comment and way to completely miss the whole point while literally making my point for me. Thanks // Jim

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    2. Yeah missed the point. No need to attempt to explain what he just spent a long essay explaining.

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    3. Did you have your stop watch running for that asshole? That was like - so fast... they must have your blog on an alert - it took me longer to read it than for them to type up that drivel.

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    4. Gosh, I wish I’d thought of that. I believe I’ll just ignore things that I care about from now on.

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    5. Agree with you on every point. The bombast, the intolerance, these new laws.....I'm so tired of it all. You wrote what I was thinking but don't have the skill to express. Also, these times make me want to not live any more. So sad.

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    6. I’m glad the colonoscopy went as well as could be expected. I have never watched reality shows and only watched six months of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune when my mom lived with us they drove me into my bedroom and I didn’t leave when they were on. Social media? I have some funny accounts on Twitter that I check. FB I only check on close friends or family. Who the hell came up with TikTok- it’s the most awful thing I’ve seen?) I don’t watch news, I read or watch streaming. I am terrified of the world I live in now. My family (husband, daughter, and me) are all dealing with chronic diseases that will kill us sooner or later. Thanks for your essay, Jim. You said it so much better than I could’ve. Please stay safe and healthy.

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    7. Incredibly powerful post,Jim. As for the the first commenter,as a tech assisting with hundreds of colonoscopies over 10+ years, I feel qualified to say that he has his head so far up his ass that he can see his tonsils.

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    8. To borrow a line from Joe Haldeman 'I don't care what you do with your plumbing'.

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    9. Love your column! If you are a woman, when you go to the doctor for anything, they will ask you the date of your last period. EVEN if you are turning 70 in a month. Then they ask about mammograms, and after that, colonoscopies. Just so ya know! LOL

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    10. The thing I like about Jim is he writes what I am thinking but am too outraged to get the words out.

      And yes, I used "outraged" on purpose because I'm like that.

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    11. My last TV died during the vice-presidential debates in 2008. I've never replaced it!

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    12. Elaine, hilariously, my thought was "I wonder if the colonoscopy bit will join or replace the 'you need to lose some weight' we fat guys get every visit."

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    13. Rip March 11 -
      dude, I think you need to go back and read the part about privilege again. Turning your back on oppression does not make it go away.

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    14. Spot on. Hand in hand with dumbing (& numbing) down of America.

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    15. If your point was that AmeriKKKa has gone to hell in a hand basket, I'm all in with you! Reality TV is just a symptom of how deep the moral rot and decay have become. Trump was the ultimate end of the death of our culture. Thanks for making me agree how horrific the world we live in is. Oh, and I am REALLY looking forward NOW to my next colonoscopy! LOL!

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  2. Well shit, literally, sir. I am glad that you weren't caught in the wildfires.

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  3. My 97 year old Grandfather passed away last month. He was dignified. Your examples and most everything else I see make me think he's the last dignified thing I'll have in my life....

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  4. When Survivor showed up on TV, that was my cue to back away. I could see the cluster that was coming. I still watch sci-fi qnd fantasy occasionally but prefer books. I avoid the insanity.

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    1. Yep. I watch British mysteries. Miss Marple saying, “Oh, dear!” is about as outraged as my TV shows get.

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    2. I watch British mysteries. Miss Marple saying, “Oh, dear!” is about as outraged as my TV shows get.

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    3. Ditto. Survivor, Big Brother, all those "reality" shows that essentially glorified psychopathy and sociopathy.

      Backstabbing and deceit deified.

      I wish I'd been wrong. Like, totally and entirely WRONG. But no, dammit.

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    4. It predates that by a few years...see MTV's The Real World.

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    5. Yup, Survivor was definitely the first outward sign. I hated the concept of that show from the very first episode.

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    6. It was "Fear Factor" that got me thinking that something was going deeply wrong with TV culture. I walked away from game shows when that came on and never came back. (And yes, I'm wearily aware of what that show's host is doing with his time these days.)

      -- Steve

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  5. I have sorta given up on on making the world a better place.
    Talk about privilege.

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  6. the less a person watches tv, the more they tell other people they don't watch tv.

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  7. As the mother of a transgender woman, and a gay man, and a thinking, feeling, compassionate human being, these Texas and Florida laws scare the shit out of me.

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    1. Amen, Sister, Amen - and the book banning horrifies me!

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    2. As a straight while male these Florida and Texas laws scare the shit out of me, too. They are as insane as passing a law changing mathematics (which I think Arkansas tried once). These days it's almost embarrassing to admit I live in Florida. But as I mentioned elsewhere, I VOTE and I have to stay here to vote against these assholes every possibly election. (Also, I like the weather). Human beings have human rights, even if they do not look or act like you. Why is that such a hard concept to get legislators (or Republicans) to understand?

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  8. Measure twice, cut once. I always enjoyed Norm Abram; and a story by Jim Wright is always thought-provoking. Thank you.

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  9. The way you put it, reminds me of parlor families from Fahrenheit 451.

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  10. I really miss the buttons that let me say "You are a god"! Or really articulate and stuff. You are dead on.

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  11. Good essay, as usual. It's like you do this for a living!

    I've been thinking a lot about just this subject, about outrage and poutrage and the addictive qualities of anger and Holy Rage. The whole thing makes a colonoscopy seem like a preferable alternative.

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  12. They say a rising tide lifts all boats but have to admit that effort to help raise the tide feels more like pissing in the ocean lately.

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  13. Jim, first off I'm sorry for the prognosis you stated above.

    Second, I agree; colonoscopies are horrible though I've never had one myself. A friend did and I watched a nurse push her knees to her chest to expel out the air quicker. Thankfully she was still loopy and had no memory of this (though I did tell her).

    I absolutely agree that today it is like society needs to be outraged over SOMETHING, or else it'll cease to exist somehow. Getting ragey at things that matter, sure, but because some restaurant owner failed at their business and thus needs to pay loudmouth, reputational jerk to come yell at them about how much they suck is just over the top.

    To your last point about so many of us giving up... aye, sadly, I'm one of those. Just so damned tired fighting the stupid...

    Stay strong.

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  14. You just described how I feel most days. I am so damn tired of the outrage over things that are inane. I am disgusted with those who feel they need to have power over others self determination. At least when I read your words I realize I am not alone.

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  15. Gosh, I wish I’d thought of that before. I think I’ll just ignore what I don’t care for from now on.

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  16. The ability to ignore the horrors being inflicted on others, while doing absolutely nothing to change the situation, is the very definition of privilege, Rip. YTA

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  17. Real good read, Jim. My way of dealing with all this stuff is just ignore it all and go fishing.

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  18. I've had years of pelvic exams, even pelvic ultrasounds (which I dare not describe in FB), and for sheer undignified, a colonoscopy beats them in every way. Consider the prep alone...

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  19. Seriously? Saying a colonoscopy is undignified (which is certainly is) means you are homophobic? Yes, it's true that women go through other specific undignified procedures. Childbirth was undignified for me. The male-specific prostate exam was undignified for my husband. I save my accusations of homophobia for the Florida and Texas legislators and my outrage for things like the Ukraine war crimes.

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  20. "...like an SpaceX mission to Uranus." your best line to date.🙏

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    1. I did, too. Thank you, Jim, for a glimmer of light amid the gathering darkness.

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  21. My grandchildren live in Florida. The youngest will start K in the fall. He adores his dad's mom, who happens to be married to a woman. They are lovely people and it makes me sad that he might be kept from talking about them in school because someone is offended. He adores them. Also, that he and his sister would be kept from learning about our history, the good, the bad and the ugly. I sit here in my blue state and shake my head in sorrow at what is happening in other states. BTW, I missed the original colonoscopy post but I agree about it being undignified. People who can't see the humor are really sad. The prep is horrific, but the nap is lovely. The procedure finds pre-cancerous polyps more often than not so I am on the 5 year repeat plan. Do I like doing it? Hell no. Will I be there to get it done? Hell yes. And I will laugh about it to lessen the indignities. More laughing, less hurt fee fees.

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    1. Exactly! The overwroght aggrieved jerks, whining and driving their 10 MPG trucks in circles and shouting nastiness into everyone else's airspace, are spoiled brats. They and their ilk lack not only empathy but also any sense of humor. Dopes.

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  22. As usual, Jim, you are absolutely way too fucking on target. Like having a ragged hole in the center of the 10 ring at 1000m on target.

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  23. I've had years of pelvic exams, even pelvic ultrasounds (which I dare not describe in FB), and for sheer undignified, a colonoscopy beats them in every way. Consider the prep alone...

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  24. Sadly, you are entirely correct. Including how unpleasant, if fully necessary, a colonoscopy is.

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  25. Thank you. This post says what I've been thinking for years better than I've been able to explain it.

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  26. I miss those days of "This Old House". I used to watch it with my Dad who could fix anything and he called the plumber "Rip it out Rich" as he never saw a plumbing fixture that didn't need replacing. You're correct. The outrage seems to be the point. As I fix things around here and built some furniture many don't know what end of the hammer to use including my kid. I hid under desks in the 60's and served on ballistic missile subs for years. Here's to hoping I won't be popping iodine anytime soon. Take care. Dan

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  27. Not sure if you missed the "add on" to the perpetual "I'm offended" crowd. There are (as of 3/10/22), two states trying to make it a criminal act to either take your child out of the state for hormonal therapy, or for a woman to travel out of state for an abortion, and to utilize the same method of Texas: the State will not be the prosecutor, your busy-body neighbor will be. The one state that I saw where a legislator is trying to get this into law (Missouri?) is also copying the "penalties of Texas; court costs and up to $10,000 in fines to be paid to the snitch.

    I wonder if the populations of states that do this will ever see the people voting with their feet, moving to states that do not preach freedom, but practice Totalitarianism.

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    1. My wife & I voted with our feet. Two years now gone from Floryduh!

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    2. East Germany had the Stasi doing the same thing, and by the time the wall fell, no one trusted anyone.

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    3. California is taking advantage of the Texas legislation regarding strangers suing people in civil court if they think a woman is or may be getting an abortion. Only California has legislation pending regarding the sale, ownership or use of automatic assault firearms. So, if this legislation is passed, busy-body strangers can sue you in civil court if you buy, own or use an automatic assault rifle in the state. Genius!

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    4. In all honesty, someone using an assault rifle could have a way larger impact on other people than a woman having an abortion or a trans kid getting treatment.

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    5. Then they claim to cherish "State's Rights" while curtailing those of others. It's the Fugitive Slave Act all over again.

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  28. I really miss those do-it-yourself shows, especially the gardening ones.
    Yes, colonoscopies *are* undignified.
    And yeah, I agree with everything else you've said too. I really try to avoid things which outrage me, like the Karshasians, for instance. Not worth my time.

    I grew up in Florida and I'm visiting in 2 months for the first time in nearly 2 decades. I live in S.Dakota now, where even the damn water is red, but I'm afraid of how badly disappointed I will be in seeing my beloved "home" for what it has become. It may be cold here but at least we don't have DeSantis. Hell, Noem is bad enough! I'll wave as we fly over the panhandle!

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  29. Wow! America (in general) has truly become a hateful place. It saddens me to say so, but I saw it starting some 30 years ago during my first visits Stateside.

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    1. It actually began during the Reagan Administration, led by one Lee Atwater and his nasty band of jerks.

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    2. I'm afraid I had to Google him. I didn't realise Reagan was such a divisive character. Over here in UK he was seen as a strong leader at the height of the Cold War.

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  30. I know it's not the main topic of the piece, just a framing device, but as an ulcerative colitis victim, I've had waaay too many colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies and other -oscopies. My advice is to always insist on sedation. It's infinitely better to sleep through the discomfort and sundry indignities of the procedure--especially if it's a teaching hospital. It's bad enough lying there as they thread the recto-cam four feet up your bunghole but, trust me, it's even worse to lie there with a half-dozen attractive young interns avidly watching and commenting...

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  31. What I would like is some sort of, erm, REASSURANCE that you are still going to be reasonably OK now that the colonoscopy is behind you, if you don't mind the risqué bit of double-entendre from the grandma in Switzerland. So?

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  32. This is so right, I read through it twice. I may even come back and do it again. Well done, well said, and thank you for doing so.

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  33. What I would like is some sort of, erm, REASSURANCE that you are still going to be reasonably OK now that the colonoscopy is behind you, if you don't mind the risqué bit of double-entendre from the grandma in Switzerland. So?

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  34. Looking back at the 80's and 90's some practical first hand advice on prep leading up to being probed by non-aliens I wish I'd known during the 3 days of hell known as prep that the VA here required: A+D, Desitin, Vaseline, slather with it, practically bathe in it before and during the run up prep. Despite the squishy feeling as you walk your lava burned bum will thank you! The rest, I try to be careful where I bang my head in frustration.

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  35. I think you are spot on, Jim, and you are absolutely right about the first commenter, hilariously so!

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  36. Comment? I'll spare you... I just killed (blocked) a christ who went on rampage because his "divorced from reality" ideology couldn't dig out evidence for the bull he wanted to sell...
    Keep up your work, it is ambrosia for the starving brains of your admirer...

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  37. Jim, have I mentioned lately that I love you? This was the most honest, thought provoking post that I have read in a long time. You spoke what I have been feeling for quite a while. Thank you. P.S. Twitter threw me in the slammer for telling a certain Senator what I thought.

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  38. Ricky Nelson said it best my friends; "... But it's all right now
    I learned my lesson well
    You see, ya can't please everyone
    So ya got to please yourself"...
    Two things I get asked when I go see a doctor:
    1. When was your last colonoscopy (Which I refer to as a recto-camera-rodery) and
    2. How's your sex life? Need any Viagra or Cialis?
    The colonoscopy question doesn't bother me all that much. Cancer does marathons in our genes.
    But the idea that because I'm in my 60's things need help in the sex department? Nope, not having that. I generally give them both the phone number of my wife, and my girlfriend. Now who feels uncomfortable buddy?
    Sure isn't me...

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    1. Cialis and Viagra are both covered under insurance and Medicare D. Contraceptives are more necessary than some middle aged twerp who cheats o his wife getting it up, but the men have decided more white babies are needed. And why are women getting college degrees? Got an earful of that from my not yet MIL 50 years ago. Thus she was fine when some grandsons skipped college completely, and a granddaughter dropped out to get married, just like one of her own daughters had done. I won't get into the divorces, night school and the same MIL spending five years raising her divorced daughter's four kids for her while she went back to school.
      But Jim, fabulous writing, and exactly correct. My husband got hooked on "Naked and Something' for awhile--pathetic waste of time. I spend my days still working at 68, teaching music lessons, helping a middle school band, and reading. I can get through a book. a day on KIndle, mostly historical fiction. Read a really interesting book about the "Spanish flu" recently and one about a leper colony in Louisiana that didn't close until 1957! So much of our gruesome history is buried already. The GOP wants to bury the rest. We have to vote for sane people.

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    2. The newest addition to the list of of questions asked by a doctor is: "Are you safe at home?" Since I live alone, I quip "Except for falling off the step stool occasionally." Apparently the doctors are now concerned that I might be a victim of domestic violence. This is always a problem, of course, but my bruises are the result of being clumsy and being old (and easily bruised).

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  39. I am just so fucking tired of all this bullshit. You are right of course, but anyone with a smidge of compassion should be able to see this too. Additionally, I certainly hope that if you're prognosis was cancer, it is caught early. Cancer sucks monkey balls.

    Doctorow had a thread recently on twitter, positing why these batshit intolerance laws are so common, and its almost like we're in the middle of bad remake of 'Life of Brian', where we're the Romans and Biggus Dickus rules the roost.

    Not giving up hope, but damn, its dark right now

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  40. Outrage is sometimes an appropriate response, but it can easily become an addiction, and then it's a problem in its own right. And like anything addictive, the addict needs more and more of it to get that fine self-righteous high.

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  41. As is often the case, you have made me think about a slew of things in a different way. Outrage. The evolution of manufactured outrage. I just finished reading your essay, and now I'm going to read it again. I think this is one of your most spot-on, thought-provoking ideas. And, "homophobic"? Just crazy.

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  42. And you didn't even mention the outrage over masking and vaccine mandates.

    Trump would never have been president without the "reality" show, "The Apprentice"; all manufactured drama and no reality. People ate that stuff up and believed every bit of it. It was all entertainment and none of it true. But people believed Donald Trump was a savvy, decisive businessman, and elected him as a result.

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    1. Agreed. "Reality" shows and "smart" phones. Make a splash over anything to get noticed and maybe famous ($$$) is the fantasy.

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    2. He had a LOT of help from Russian trolls bashing Clinton 24-7, from Comey., and from the RNC, who would put a goldfish in the Oval Office if they could.

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    3. How'd that work out for us.....?

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  43. Hey, I've run into the dickwad on Twitter who took sanctimonious umbrage over my remark that we can stop talking about no-fly zones because frankly the Ukrainians are owning the Russians in this thing, using the weapons we're already supplying. For that, I got the tweet telling me to think.of.the.children. You know an argument is sound when someone puts periods between all the words like that. And my response, logically sound because I've been teaching 18 year olds how to not write bullshit my entire working life, apparently required the poster to call me disingenuous, hypocritical, and a coward. Basically, social media hasn't created additional morons; it's just given them a really convenient place to hang out. It isn't just morons, though. It's people who've lost the ability (those who at least started with it) to have an actual debate on the merits of something without feeling the need to escalate things into the stratosphere of jackassery.

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  44. Damn. I hadn't connected the two (probably because I don't watch TV, reality or otherwise), but of course that's the connection> The lack of identity translates to instant rage at anyone else's.

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  45. On the racism issue, the outrage seems less about someone finding out their ancestors were slaves and more about finding out your ancestors owned them. I don't get it, the whole outrage thing.

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  46. You just tied together a lot of unconnected thinking on this I've been banging my head on for years. Much about the last forty years now makes sense. Thank you for putting some of the puzzle together in a way I could grasp.

    Perhaps the biggest self-inflicted danger to the human species isn't ignorance of viral pandemics but anti-intellectual and anti-reason pandemics riding global communications. David Brin certainly thinks so.

    Being of colonoscopy age myself, I am really hoping some of the newly developed testing procedures make much of that unnecessary someday. Undignified is a very mild term for it. But I'm not holding my breath that it'll be soon.

    "Barbaric!" - Dr. McCoy (probably) would have said :)

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    1. Having had a coloscopy 11 days ago, I found that the procedure itself (while asleep) wasn't terribly bad. But the preparation for it was horrible! Talk about undignified!

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    2. You definitely need the day off for the prep, especially towards the end of that day.

      My husband had one of the kind where you send in a stool sample. He had to float a sheet of some kind of foam material on the surface of the water in the toilet and make sure the turd landed on it. We are both in our 70s to all intents and purposes and I hope we're done with all that, unless, of course, we have reason to think we aren't.

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  47. Agree with you completely - and so saddened to have to do it :(

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  48. Really hoping the "if you're REALLY lucky" part doesn't actually apply in your case? Other than that, agreed. Nothing like jumping straight to attack mode over absolutely any and everything to really advance the cause of human progress.

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  49. Jim, you are so right. About it all. I mean, I loved those home improvement shows. Norm, Bob, all of them. Same with cooking shows. Remember Justin Wilson? Julia Child? And - no I have no idea how someone got from saying a colonoscopy is undignified is homophobic. Keep up with making these great essays.

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  50. This faggot thinks his colonoscopy what the most undignified procedure he'd ever had. The only people who could ever think this had anything to do with butt sex have never had a colonoscopy.

    Twitter is a cesspool of people who think they're witty and snarky, but are just aholes who are aroused by outrage.

    Their pettiness diminishes us.

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  51. Preach.

    Just had the drainpipe treatment myself. Humiliating, yes. The prep was undignified and hangover-inducing. Upside: best quality drugs I've ever been given. They open the tap, sitar music starts happening in Mr Brain.

    The process I found unspeakably more unspeakable was the Cologuard DIY kit, but if you've been in a dessert using a 50 cal ammo box as a commode, I'm guessing you'd laugh at my timidity.

    Thanks for the insights. They seem spot on to me.

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  52. 100% agree with you Jim on all points.

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  53. How fucking dare you expose this? (total sarcasm Jim) Who the fuck are you anyway, some cock sure retired military informer of reality? (total sarcasm Jim) It scares me sometimes Jim Wright, how you can write to us and expose our own bad faults that we don't even know we have. (truth)

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  54. Did you actually get a cancer diagnosis? I really hope not, because I went through that treatment protocol, and let me tell you, it is no fun at all. Yes, colonoscopies are undignified as hell, but pelvic radiation is worse. And 5-FU coursing through your body via an implanted port and a pump in a waist belt is just so much fun -- NOT.

    Anyway, I pretty much agree with you about TV and our cultural devolution. I miss This Old House and Home Time, and wish I could get the Canadian show Holmes on Homes. I thank all the gods at once, fasting, for Star Trek Discovery and Picard, for a full collection of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, chocolate and a rack full of various bottles of red wine. We may all end up glowing in the dark like radium girls, but at least my taste buds will be happy.

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  55. People seem to have traded in basic decency for the ease of outrage and manufactured drama. Acknowledging that a colonoscopy is undignified does not lessen the indignity of childbirth, or any other medical procedure that I have had to go through as a woman. It isn't the Suffering Olympics, there is no medal for most undignified, or worst time had.

    As for the rest. I was a history major in college, and I am really not enjoying the experience of reliving the first half of the 20th century. It's heartbreaking to see that not only have we not learned to do better, but we've learned to do exactly the same evils and revel in them.

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    1. Spot on! Speaking of an experience does not diminish anyone else's experience. There are many healthcare procedures that aren't dignified. Let's face it, this country in general isn't very good at discussing bodily function without getting either giddy, disgusted, or outraged. It's just science, and the human body is actually fascinating. Looking at it this way, I have been able to tolerate a number of undignified procedures.

      Your second point is well taken too. My great grandfather died at the Somme on the second day of the battle, from injuries he sustained on the first day. That battle was a five month long bloodbath. We don't learn. Ever.

      Now I'll go back to my knitting and try to zone out again, as there is little civility left in the world.

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  56. Have you tried explaining to those people that equating an invase medical procedure to an act of love/affection/lust, which is what they seem to be doing in order to pretend you're a homophobe, is itself deeply homophobic?

    It's indeed a great shame that people have become so addicted to outrage, that they've allowed nuance and reasoned, good-faith debate to become nearly extinct. We can try to resist this trend, but it's an uphill battle, and for the sake of our own emotional and mental well-being, sometimes I think we should take a leaf from George Carlin's book and just divorce ourselves from the species. Just enjoy the freakshow and give up caring about the outcome. Every day on social media is a battle between idealism and cynicism.

    It can be challenging, being the person in the room who's just a little more insightful than everyone else.
    In the words of Frank Zappa: The person who stands up and says, "This is stupid!", either is asked to behave or, worse, is greeted with a cheerful "Yes, we know! Isn't it terrific?!"...

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  57. thanks for this essay- spot on.
    i'm sorry you had all that shit thrown at you about the colonoscopy(ha ha)- it IS undignified, and the drs ARE unrelenting about it. it's not fucking homophobic to say that- i'm sure all the gay people i know feel the same way about a colonoscopy as i or you or anyone else feels- they suck!
    anyhoo- carry on and thanks again for the essay.

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  58. I spend most of my life trying to avoid drama I certainly don't want to spend my free time watching it and don't understand the appeal. Even worse is that most of it is manufactured for the audience. Miss those old shows, they were a favorite. Great article

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  59. This one ranks right up there with the best of your best. I was nodding in agreement with every word, amazed, as usual, with your ability to say what I didn't even realize I was thinking. (And, yes, colonoscopies are unpleasant.)

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  60. I was kind of wondering how you were going to be able to do it, but damn, man, you managed to stick the landing!

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  61. Yes, we are becoming botnik nation. Comments are flagged for really crazy reasons.

    A colonoscopy (I've had a few) is really undignified. I've had a few other invasive procedures which are pretty bad too. But bots and people who just wanna express outrage will always find SOMETHING.

    These so called defenders of freedumb are really being schooled in what fighting for freedom really means, now that there's a real war in Europe. Only they're not learning. Everyone else can learn, and tell them how insignificant they are and then they can be outraged because no one is listening.....

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  62. I am so outraged by all this outrageousness! What are you saying!? We should just live and let live? Mind our own business and try to be decent to one another?! How dare you sir!! How dare you suggest that you prefer an actual home improvement show over the carefully scripted dramas we now enjoy! The outrage I'm experiencing now exceeds all the previous outrages the I've outraged over the past 5 or 6 outrages! Something something gazpacho...

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  63. Spot on yet again Chief.
    Colonoscopies are undignified...I've assisted with them and have them every 5 years. Thank God for drugs.

    You have said many times people are addicted to rage and man are you right. Someone said, if you look to be offended you will never be disappointed, and that is where we are isn't it?

    I appreciate you views and marvel at your unique way of expressing them. You are a treasure. There I said it.

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  64. Good read, as always. A few points from my end:

    1. Colonoscopies are certainly no fun. I've gone through it once(and, luckily, nothing bad on my end; I'll get to go through this fun again in about 8 years). Speaking of which: one of my favorite comedians, Rick Mercer, referenced this when he was dealing with the fallout of his televised rant about a gay teenager in Ottawa who had committed suicide and that we have to make it better for LGBT youth: "The idea that I would go on national television or radio and discuss something as personal as my sexuality is about as appealing to me as a colonoscopy." Rick later added that kids are still coming out in high school and it was his generation's job to help them out. "So I came to the conclusion that like my annual colonscopy, it's something that I have to do whether I like it or not. Having done both now for many years, I must say that-thanks to the Valium/Demerol drip-a colonoscopy is infinitely more enjoyable." (That passage is from his book A Nation Worth Ranting About, if you care to purchase it.)

    2. Don't even get me going on "reality" TV. Because, quite frankly, "reality" TV is anything BUT. It's creating drama on the cheap.

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  65. PERFECT essay, Jim. You nailed this to the wall. And ignore that... idiot who commented first.

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  66. Yeah, colonoscopies... I have them every 3 years because of a family history of colon cancer. I'm sorry, Jim. Sending you a hug.

    And, yes, things are truly ridiculous and really scary out there now days. As usual, you nailed it.

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  67. Miserable people want and enjoy making other just as miserable as they are. Revel in it, even. You hit it right on the mark.

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  68. Thanks for another good piece of writing. You say what we think, just better.

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  69. Another excellent blog. People have gotten mad and gone mad.
    We rarely watch any American TV. It is so ridiculous. We watch PBS,CBC and BBC mostly.
    Just to let you all know...This Old House is alive and well with brand new episodes on our PBS station here in the PNW. Mostly a different cast but the energy is still the same.

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  70. I watch a lot of US police procedurals. And in the last 15 years or so, I've noticed how the characters in them behaved more and more hysterically. They all seemed permanently outraged. I always thought it was for dramatic purposes. After reading Mr. Wright's piece, I guess that those TV series are simply portraying how a lot of people in the US behave these days.

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  71. I learned how to cook watching Great Chefs on PBS. I loved cooking shows!

    Now the big new hit is "worst cooks in america"
    We're in a race to the bottom. :(

    ...and, you guessed it, I'm of that age. My first colonoscopy is scheduled for next month. Whooppie!

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  72. Don't remind me that colonoscopies are undignified. My first one is scheduled for later this month.

    I miss this old house and shows that actually taught you things. Now I just surf YouTube looking for similar informative creators.

    I am crossing my fingers and hoping that the whack job states will pull their heads out of their collective a**** and quit making life harder for people whose lives are already more difficult. The fact that the courts are blocking Texas from investigating the families of trans youth and just threw out the state's appeal to that ruling is hopeful. While Idaho's house passed a similar bill, I've heard that their senate is unwilling to bring it to the floor. Fingers crossed. I don't know what to say about Florida. I'm just hoping it will get thrown out as unconstitutional.

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  73. My first and only colonoscopy happened this summer. They found cancer. This is the first time I have shared this news with anyone outside of my family. I had surgery to remove the part of my colon that was cancerous. Now, I am cancer free with a 1% chance of recurrence. I do have to have bi-annual visits with an oncologist and annual colonoscopies are the new norm for me. Every doctor I ever visited always advised me to get a colonoscopy but I ignored their advice. Get it done. It will be a benefit to you and those you care about. Family history is important. There is a lot of value in what you have to say, Jim. For the love of God, keep saying it.

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  74. Like any mental disease or addiction, one has to hit rock bottom. I don't know how long it will take on this, as more seem to be jumping on the bandwagon than those jumping off. I think (hope) it will happen in my lifetime, but that time is running out. I know my wife and I are damn tired of the perpetual outrage over just about anything. Again you have captured a slice of America. BTW I'm scheduled for a rotor rooter check up this summer. Good times.

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  75. Just had my 4th colonoscopy Thursday. I feel your pain.

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  76. My old coworkers were like this: always had to be angry about something. There's a reason I left.

    My son is five months old and there are too many days I worry what world I've brought him into. I know he could be the good, but is that enough to counter all the horrible?

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  77. Your ability to see big picture, and write so well about it,is always helpful to me. Thank you!

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  78. Thank you again for being able to clear a path through the drama-dust to give us a glimpse of the “big picture” of our culture.
    As an alcohol and drug abuse counselor for 30+ years I have expended a lot of energy attempting to get people to understand that the addictive mindset is an adolescent mindset.
    Two hallmarks of the adolescent mindset are an inability or unwillingness to accept personal responsibility and an inability or unwillingness to defer gratification.
    Over those 30 years it has become more difficult to be successful in educating people to that concept because it has become more difficult to find people in our culture that are able to model an adult mindset.
    I’m concerned that our culture may be stuck in a terminal state of adolescence.


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  79. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  80. "Manufactured artificial outrage" is such a perfect descriptor for these loons. They will build an entire movement around some supposed offense, regardless of what actually occurred. We have always had these types around us, and they have turned our society on its head with their paranoia and fear of anything or amyone dofferent.

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  81. Essay: spot on. And I'm hoping the remark about being told you have cancer was part of the metaphor, not your actual result.

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  82. Thank you, Jim. I'm grateful for your voice.

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  83. My late uncle was a lovely intelligent man with a wry sense of humor. He opined that the devolution of modern society was the natural result of breathing 70 years of leaded gas fumes. I guess 40 years of right wing conservative million/billionaires funding the Hannity/Limbaugh/etc villains probably played a part as well. When I was young these malignancies were relegated to broadcasting at 2AM Sunday mornings because they were widely recognized as batshit crazy.

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  84. I've been a woman for years. Decades. Anyone who tells you a pelvic exam is worse than a colonoscopy has never prepped for a colonoscopy. I have had several colonoscopies and my husband, who has Crohns Disease and did have gastric cancer 2020, has had even more during our 31 year marriage.

    Yes, I know the point was the outrage machine, and I agree, but the point actually stands - the outraged often are full of crap. (Yes, that was intentional).

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  85. It's nice to see you back Jim.

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  86. Y U got 2 b so rite?!?!?

    (Pardon the grammar / spelling, it's a cri de coeur...)

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  87. A year after my first colonoscopy, in which my doctor told me that I had the cleanest colon he'd seen in years, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

    My surgery was ten years ago on Monday. Still kicking, just not as high.

    It was a different America, at least as portrayed by what the media showed us. Now, most of what we see is designed to give the kids a shorter attention span; hell, my kid coasted through college without having to read a book, which I'm not proud of.

    It's sad that someday, these will be remembered as the Good Old Days.

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    1. First off: I'm glad you're cancer-free! The big C used to be my biggest fear; its place in the Fear Hit Parade has since been usurped by dementia, but not by much.

      But I have to ask, re: your kid: Seriously? Without reading a book?

      Wow. There is no easy explanation for WHY that sentence hits me like a knife to the guts, but here we are.

      I share your horror that this era will one day be the subject of someone's nostalgia. (But then again, I'm sure there was some 51-year-old curmudgeon who thought the same thing back in 1991, while my 21-year-old self lived her goofy little life as hard as she possibly could. And now I'm the curmudgeon, and I wish only the best for that 21-year-old girl, the one who's going to wake up 30 years from now wishing it was 2022 again.)

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  88. Same goes for having your balls fondled by a PCP. Undignified, barbaric, and just plain unscientific. Let the ladies add to the list, like having the girls mashed for a mammogram. We can do so much better if we tried.

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  89. So many thoughts on this!! First, clearing your guts so a camera can glide thru and check for cancer/the potential for cancer is totally undignified. We do it because we hope to stay healthy, not for any type of sexual gratification. How homophobic of someone to sexualize a medical procedure, and then they call you homophobic for expressing the misery of having that procedure! I'm on the 5 year plan because of some nasty little polyps. Yay!! Can't wait for the next one. Sigh

    And you expressed the outrage factor so well. Cable may have destroyed the world. Once upon a time TV signed off for the night. Programming was selected for quality, not quantity. Now it's like there's a race to pick the most inane bullshit to fill the unending hours of airtime. The worst behaved are glorified and awarded with TV shows. Example, tfg.

    And the outrage. Ugh!! The same morons who bemoaned giving every participant a trophy and made fun of the idea of someone getting their feelings hurt over not getting a trophy are now crying over their little white babies' feel-bads taking a hit cause there is systemic racism in our country. They want to be outraged. And sadly, anyone who doesn't agree with their every outrage is someone to be hated, accosted, shot, etc.

    Hey world, here's your ticket to hell. You'll be travelling in a handbasket.

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  90. So many thoughts on this!! First, clearing your guts so a camera can glide thru and check for cancer/the potential for cancer is totally undignified. We do it because we hope to stay healthy, not for any type of sexual gratification. How homophobic of someone to sexualize a medical procedure, and then they call you homophobic for expressing the misery of having that procedure! I'm on the 5 year plan because of some nasty little polyps. Yay!! Can't wait for the next one. Sigh

    And you expressed the outrage factor so well. Cable may have destroyed the world. Once upon a time TV signed off for the night. Programming was selected for quality, not quantity. Now it's like there's a race to pick the most inane bullshit to fill the unending hours of airtime. The worst behaved are glorified and awarded with TV shows. Example, tfg.

    And the outrage. Ugh!! The same morons who bemoaned giving every participant a trophy and made fun of the idea of someone getting their feelings hurt over not getting a trophy are now crying over their little white babies' feel-bads taking a hit cause there is systemic racism in our country. They want to be outraged. And sadly, anyone who doesn't agree with their every outrage is someone to be hated, accosted, shot, etc.

    Hey world, here's your ticket to hell. You'll be travelling in a handbasket.

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  91. I don’t pretend to have the solution to the crazy animalistic mess our culture is devolving to, but as a physician and a person who had both parents die of colon cancer(that means every 5 years colonoscopy for me) I have a solution: Ketamine.
    Ask your anesthesia provider for Ketamine as some or all of your procedure anesthesia. You will not even remember what humiliation is. Instead, you will spend 20 minutes flying in a gold-and-crystal tropical paradise populated by kind, sentient beings, who at the end will tell you: congratulations! No cancer.
    I’ve got #6 coming up next year

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  92. Well, I hope I misread the part of an actual diagnosis for you.

    It's embarrassing watching right wing nut jobs (PUTIN) attack another country because they wanted to maybe possibly join a coalition that would protect them from right wing nut jobs (PUTIN) while Americans whine on and on ad nauseum about every g.d. thing. These people would lose their minds over their local Starbucks being slow because they don't have enough employees, yet now they're all military experts. I hate it here.

    I will say that anything you want to know how to do, someone on YT has done it for you. Slowly, calmly, they explain how to do the things. TV is only about attracting ad dollars through eyeballs anymore.

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  93. It started with the writers' strike and the rise of "reality" tv.
    But seriously, it started when the first poor white European refugee was told that, contrary to what they might have heard about the land of opportunity, life is a zero-sum game, and if "those people" over there who are not like us in some aspect of their lives are going to get ahead, it must necessarily mean that something has been taken away from "us." As if there is a finite quantity of civil rights. Or justice. Or liberty. If you get more then there's less for me. That's what they believe, so of course they're outraged.

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  94. I'm honestly asking myself whether I still believe in making the world a better place. The answer I'm coming up with is a tentative yes, and my evidence for that fact is how incredibly discouraged I am about the state of the place and its apparent trajectory. Maybe I'm kidding myself, but would I care about my tank being empty if I had given up on trying to get anywhere?

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  95. Don't let the bastards get you down. Easier said than done. It's all just so sad.

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  96. The world can be a strange place. I suppose some of it has to do with our monkey brains being exposed to a litany of tragedy and despair suddenly due to factors like global communications, 24h hour news cycles, and the shared collective trauma. So people are angry, yet unable to explain why they are angry without the fear of upsetting others. I mean most if not all of our problems are caused by money these days and we'd be better off getting rid of it, but like cigarettes, there are those so deep in that delusion that it will somehow "fix" our problems that we keep putting off quiting. I like my cell phone, but I would prefer social mobility out of wage slavery and living in perpetual debt whole millions starve and die because we cannot afford to address shit like the fucking pandemic fucking up our lives right now. All because some assholes think that if they somehow get all the money they will become owner and master of all humanity. Then they be burned alive by a mob because that is exactly how that shit always plays out.
    Dreading a colonoscopy is not homophobic. Thinking it will somehow turn you gay is, and may be a indicator of one's own suppressed desires. Used to be there were those people who would stick random items up their rectum and got off going to the ER to watch as the doctors struggled with trying to extract said objects. Now they got an entire genre of medical porn.
    It is agonizing to watch this shitshow of human failure, having a reasoned voice fall on deaf ears and then watching some painted clown tell us how great he is for four agonizing years. Then there's the cult of simpletons and sycophants that parade down the street screaming about gas prices and mask mandates ,from their plague infested expensive trucks.
    This is why I smoke pot, and maybe too much. To somehow manage the burning rage and suffering one feels from realizing that one is surrounded by the wounded suffering from their invisible scars of trauma. That we continue to inflict, knowingly and unknowingly.

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  97. Brilliantly and eloquently written, Jim. On a psychological level, we are witnessing a mass "othering" of anyone who does not fit into a very tiny parameter of being "acceptable" to those who are allowing themselves to be outraged. This is fear on a massive scale. Fear is always about a supposed "loss". The biggest fear, of course, is loss of life. On the surface, it sounds ridiculous that people should be afraid of losing their life if someone is being or doing something different than they do, but there it is. While they are not conscious of it, the internal thought pattern goes from "They're not like me!" to "I'm going to die because of that!" in a nanosecond. In being outraged, they achieve a tiny bit of relief from the fear, but, just like with drugs, it never lasts. Then they have to be more outraged to get that bit of relief. As a counselor for the last 30 years, this is what I help people to let go of. That fear that overrides all common sense and consciousness. The entirety of the Western world, and most especially the people in the U.S., needs counseling to get past all of this. The eruption of this much fear in millions of people will not be pretty on any level. Every day, we're closer to that eruption. What we're seeing now is just the tremors of it. It can be reversed, but people have to want it to be reversed.

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  98. Oh my sweet fucking toothless baldheaded baby Jeebus X Christowski, SO. WELL. SAID.

    Like, jumping-up-and-down-yelling-"EK-FUCKING-ZACTLY"-so-loud-it-scares-the-cats levels of agreement.

    I got caught in one of those outrage loops the other day--on Facebook, natch--because (buckle up here, the next phrase is a WHOLE wild ride):

    I AGREED with someone wrong.

    It put me in the foulest damn mood for about 36 hours, because the underlying accusation was one of those which, if you object to being characterized as such, the accuser can use that objection to "prove" that they were right--just by virtue of your having objected.

    We have built these sick rhetorical constructs which GUARANTEE that if someone wants to be "right", they can make you "wrong" even if you haven't said or done anything.

    I'm 52 years old. I try to be open-minded and accepting even of things I don't entirely understand, and I try to remain flexible in thought--not to judge a way of speaking or thinking or being because it's prevalent among the young--but this whole "you agreed with me but because you're ______ (fill in your chosen group) I don't accept your agreement, nor even your right to participate in the dialog, and because you've chosen to speak that makes you _______ (fill in your chosen negative character trait)"??

    Fuck THAT noise with a big, pointy stick. REPEATEDLY.

    I flatly refuse to play Oppression Mad-Libs; I'd prefer the colonoscopy, thanks.

    And I completely understand the fear that people are giving up on making the world a better place; I'm damn near that point myself. Why try to make things right, when because you're in a position to make the effort, it establishes you as one of the privileged class, and thus responsible for the whole problem in the first place--and somehow this responsibility invalidates any effort to fix the injustices??? And if you dare to object to the pretzel logic, that proves that you're tone-deaf and privilege-blinded and living in a cushiony little bubble.

    Did I mention "fuck THAT noise"?

    I don't know what to do to make it better. I'm supposedly one of the people who needs to take the lead in fighting injustice, but I'm constantly told I'm doing it wrong, and that it's the height of privilege to ask how to do better. It makes my brain hurt.

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  99. Perfect. Absolutely perfect essay.

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  100. I actually had a friend get the aforementioned colonoscopy at the end of last year, and sadly hit the cancer jackpot. Stage 4. Let me tell you, next year I'll be getting my first one on time.

    One small comment: the issue in Texas isn't over sexual identity, it's gender identity. Parents can be sent to prison for gender affirming care, i.e. telling their trans kids that it's okay to exist and affirming their gender choice. And, the shit Republicans are screaming about isn't even so much gender-affirming care as it is puberty blockers so kids have time to sort out their head and choices before their bodies change irrevocably. And those meds don't get handed out like candy, either. The kids have to go through psychological counseling and evaluation before a doctor will write those scripts.

    I live in Colorado now, and there's a whole lot of folks thinking about moving up this way from Texas because Colorado treats people like human beings. I wonder if Abbott is trying to actually drive people out of his state that he doesn't want there.

    Anyway, I'm glad you don't have cancer. My friend is living his best life while going through chemo and trying to build memories with his 12 and 14-year-old kids right now. He'll probably be dead before the oldest graduates from high school.

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  101. I... don't know that I'd argue that education has shifted over to theatrics, as much as the monetization of entertainment and the mass range of education has caused shows to become more showmanlike. I can hop onto YouTube and watch people do all kinds of DIY projects, with chill conversation and the ability to replay in slow motion.

    Which is not to say you're wrong, but that people now make more of a conscious choice between learning or just watching dramatics.

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  102. I love this essay for so many reasons, not the least of which is how you managed to segue from an essay about colonoscopies to one about the collective outrage of the American Public. Thank you, Jim Wright, for your insight, humor, curmudgeonly perspective.

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  103. I got to tired to be outraged. My 80 you're old bowling teammate started today of with "How bout them gas prices?!" Andi just sighed, changed the topic to gardening, I need more dirt and mulch, and asked if he was planting anything. He's a good guy but watches to much News.
    FWIW, in Boise on Saturdays at 9am on KBOI 670am Joe Prinn had a radio show for home repair. He's the local Bob Vila.

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    1. We had a guy come this morning to talk about various repairs our house needs, and out of nowhere he started complaining about the President. My husband plays tennis with him and I'm sure he knows what he's doing when it comes to home repair, but I try to avoid talking about politics so as to avoid a bunch of RW ranting. I wish people would cooperate with me.

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  104. This is one of the best essays I've ever read. I agree with you completely. This culture of perpetual outrage doesn't do any good for anyone. But there is an entire industry promoting outrage, and this isn't confined to a single part of the political spectrum, it is across the board. It is poisonous, it lacks all compassion, and it is, as he says, against reason. I love the poetry of the great Romantic poets. But as I studied the Romantic Movement, particularly in Western Europe, I came to realize that it was reactionary, that it was a reaction to the Age of Reason. I learnt that the Romantics valued emotion over reason, even instead of, at the expense of, reason, of rationality. And emotion, while not inherently a bad thing, can be, and very often IS, quite irrational. It is that irrational emotionalism which is being promoted, and which is being accepted and lived, by far too many people across the entire world, not just in the US, or Europe. Perhaps it is time, even past time, for us to reject, to turn away from, Romanticism, and return to the Age of Reason.

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  105. As someone who's chronic disease has required a colonoscopy every 1-3 years for the past 40, "Colonoscopies ARE undignified." Everything else you said was truth as well. Sad, but true.

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  106. "This is about a people who see themselves as victims" -- Truer words were never spoken. And outrage is making money for a lot of people, so they'regoing to keep supporting things that create faux outrage.

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  107. Apart from being puzzled about how one might expect a happy ending from a colonoscopy, I have to say that I think you're spot on.
    Which made me question, is the Left searching for outrage as much as the Right? I suppose they are. Is this the long, winding an inevitable road of men being encouraged to express their emotions? It feels like these laws are supported by many as a flipoff to the other side, while consciously ignoring the impact on actual people. They normalize and even legitimize their deep-down prejudices and hatreds.
    To me, that's the so-what explanation. I can't think of any other.
    As for your examples, Bob Vila was kinda a dick. But we didn't care. Much. Now we've got Mike Rowe opining political. At least Bob only made you think he was probably a dick.

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  108. The blindness to real suffering is by design. That is the most damning fact of all. We center ourselves on transitive happiness and forget about joy. I've had people get offended when I pointed this out. Happiness is irrelevant. Discovering joy is a journey worth taking. I'm proud of having never taken pleasure in another person's misery. I contemplated it many times vicariously when I was one of them. One of the watching outraged. In the end, the suffering is bad enough and inescapable enough that it's better if no one felt it, and yet everyone must feel it to find true joy.

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  109. Also? Colonoscopies are worse than you describe. Everyone who objected to your description should be required to undergo one.

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  110. Berke Breathed was on to the same thing back in the 80's. He called it "offensensitivity": http://www.hsoi.com/resources/offensensitivity.gif

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  111. Yet another terrific essay. Thank you.

    (One disagreement, however: if you are female and overweight, the docs will tell you to lose weight even before they mention colonoscopies. Earache? “Have you thought about losing weight?” Carpal tunnel syndrome? “Let’s talk about doing something about your weight.” Not that that’s rekevant to your macropoint.)

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  112. Someday, maybe I'll stop being amazed at your ability to bring together seemingly unconnected things to slam home a point in a way that perfectly illustrates something that has been rattling around in my brain, impossible to articulate well. But I hope not!

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  113. I think that outrage is a bit fake. I have a 2021 quarter with Tuskegee Airmen on the back. How do you keep that out of the classroom? Maya Angelou is on the 2022 quarter. Harriet Tubman is coming on the 20. How do you talk to kids whose primary education has been stunted (mine was and I have almost nothing good to say about it). That has embarrassed me so much in my travels around the US and around the world. What happens when a Florida youth wanders by Manzanar in California? Or ends up driving through the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota. The past is just that and when we don't know how we got here, it's kind of like skipping those colonoscopies. BTW you left out prostate exam.

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  114. Honestly, I'm starting to believe that nuclear war is not a bad idea either. SMH. A teacher was fired for reading a book to 4th graders of the sort that kids that age LOVE about farts and smells and butts, etc. Jebus,has anyone listened to nine year old boys? GROWN MEN love that sort of stuff. All the joy is being sucked out of life by people sticking their long noses in places they have no business being. I hated my colonoscopy too for being so demeaning. I haven't watched TV since MASH ended. None of it is entertainment. I listen to NPR. I watch British programs. I'm sick of whiny babies demanding Freedumb while they have the freedom to drive around in circles proving they are idiots with too much time on their hands while a country is being demolished piece by piece before our eyes. Thank you for your clarity as always Jim. Solidarity with Ukraine.

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  115. Excellent essay - I should send you more money.....
    This is so on the mark, I don't know where to start, but this will end up in my computer with the other essays I've read here since I joined up. I'm afraid this has been going on for decades in one way or another. In the early 1960s, I was in grad school in Boston and tuned in to a hockey game, when Bobby Orr was new to the Boston Bruins. Orr stole the puck from Gordy Howe and Howe 'sticked' him in the back, hard. I thought to myself, if this is hockey, I want no part of it, and I have not watched a hockey game since. There are some cosmologists who feel that with the vast number of other planets out there, some of them must have developed advanced civilizations, and the fact that we have never heard from any other civilization in space is that at some point they reached the ability to destroy their civilization or their planet, and no longer exist. One wonders what they think about us on this little blue marble.....

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  116. For what it's worth, Jim, I am old enough (81) that the docs tell me I don't need another colonoscopy..... But Mom went to 99 and her mother went to 97, so i plan to "volunteer" for another one because I may still have enough time left to get in trouble. At least the prep is a lot better than the metallic salts they used in the dark ages.....

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  117. It takes time and energy to be outraged. I dunno where the governor of my state gets the time and energy to have this 24/7 outrage against people of color and the LGBT community, but maybe FPL should hook him up to the power grid in the summer to top off the reserves.

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  118. For the longest time, I thought I liked the British Baking Show or Bakeoff (regional titles) because the sets were so cute. (I said cute on your blog.) The bunting and the pastels and the old time bowls, it all spoke to me. I thought that was the reason. Then, my neighbor told me I had to watch some American cook off show, and I caught part of an episode with her and I hated it. I was so uncomfortable. I thought it was the set. So ugly, not charming at all. Then I sat back and gave it a more critical think. It was as you describe. Mean. Ugly. Thriving on conflict and cruelty.
    I know the UK has their own fair share of reality conflict shows. But somehow, they got it right with the baking show. And what's funny/sad, is it will be too saccharin for someone else.
    I don't know how we got so ugly as a people. I guess we always were. It reminds me of the Twilight Zone where the woman had the beautiful face and was considered a monster because she was different. The world is full of monsters.

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    1. I am a huge fan of the Great British Baking Show. I've watched it countless times. It's my go to when I need a reminder that people can be civil and kind to each other.

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  119. I used to love This Old House, as well as The New Yankee Workshop. I inherited a lot of wood-woorking tools when my father died, and both of those shows helped teach me how to use them. Never thought about them in this way, though, and I think you are right on the money.

    Thanks, for that.

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  120. Our nation's emotional immaturity and need for bigger-louder-faster has sparked a firestorm--the beast keeps feeding, sucking the oxygen out of the room and choking disagreement, debate, even discussion in favor of "fuck you, asshole! you're a fucking monster!" and so on.
    If we don't find a way to get control over this, it could destroy us.

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  121. I've been having Colonoscopies since about age 18 due to some gastrointestinal troubles I have. They definitely are undignified but that doesn't really bother me. And as someone who has been sober since age 18 it's my only chance to get a really nice buzz without guilt. But the prep, holy hell I never get used to that torture.

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  122. Gee Jim, seems like you had a rough go of having your large intestine inflated with air and three feet of fiber optic cable inserted to produce a video record of gastric spelunking. But they say it is for your own good. What I recall of my procedure a couple years ago is that the general anesthetic was very cold going into the back of my hand before I blacked out, and when I woke up some Doctor I had met briefly to sign some papers telling be I had the colon of a 25 year old and he would see me in ten years.

    But we are not here to discuss the relative experiences of intrusive and unpleasant medical exams. Are we?

    I agree fully that the Whitest, fattest, laziest, most privileged and freest people on Earth are not necessarily in the best position to howl and bleat and foam at the mouth about the loss of their freedoms which they have never lost, problems which are not problems, and existential threats that only exist in the rice pudding between their ears.

    But the exercise makes money for someone to keep up the racist rage and abject fear that someone, somewhere is getting something for free. Or having fun, or sex or just not realizing the World is being overrun by Blacks/Browns/liberals/Soros/Gates' microchips/child sex trafficking/Muslims/socialists, and loose American women who are not forced to give birth to baby Jeebuses that they can drop off at the local fire station for adoption. These are serious issues, no doubt.

    I like to think I am a good person. But I am not always a nice person. And these howler monkeys of Trump cultists, QAnon imbeciles, Talibangicals and GOP Nazi window lickers have used up all my good will. Maybe those FEMA reeducation camps are not such a bad idea after all.

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  123. Oh, Jim! I was so hoping we were to be treated to the wonderful humor of Stonekettle Station back when someone said to me "You gotta check this guy out but put down your coffee cup first!" "SpaceX mission to Uranus"! HAHAHA! Gotta comment that after 80, colonoscopy no longer recommended, hooray for old age! And then? Wham! Like no other commentator on the human condition, you drew the threads together and showed us how everything over the past couple of decades has conspired to reverse the joy and tranquility we sought after WWII and here we are again. Steeped in rage and fuses burning, and for what? Rather than learn to celebrate our differences we once more are turning toward hate and domination. I'm beginning to be glad I only can expect a few more years on this earth and sorry for leaving a mess for people I care about.

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  124. Funny.... I used the same word when my doc asked if I was comfortable during my colonoscopy: "yes, if you ignore the indignity of it all." At my request, I got to watch the last of it; who knew my insides were so pink and shiny? 😀

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  125. "Outrage isn't the opposite of calm, it's the savage antithesis of reason." THIS!!!

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  126. I'm totally in agreement with you, Jim. Due to my overarching medical condition I've had seven or eight colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy "adventures" between the ages of 44 and 52, and the only way I've avoided dying of embarrassment was to brainwash myself into the whole "they're medical professionals, none of this is entertaining to them" mindset. That being said, it was lovely to give my husband one of the most-entertaining moments of his life, when I managed a record-volume 'bottom burp' into one of those hospital toilets in the recovery room. My nurse wanted me to perform that on the gurney, but I was convinced that would result in EVERYONE around me being powerwashed with, uh, RESIDUE. So I convinced her to let me go into the little lavatory to expel that initial, um. Blast. Hubby was very impressed with the volume, and said that everyone had to have heard it, including some patients who were still anesthetized. :/ You are correct, sir. No dignity, at all, at all.

    And as others have mentioned, I was impressed (but not surprised) with how you managed to tie this all together into an articulate essay. How do we haul our collective attitude back from Chef Ramsey and What's-his-face Jones, and back to Norm Abrams and Julia Child without risking being labeled 'elitist and intellectual' (as if those are pejoratives)?

    Returning to the beginning of your bit, I do hope that you do not have to deal with a cancer diagnosis on top of all the other fuckery going on in the world--but if so, I know you will persevere and kick the living daylights outta it. Hugs.

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  127. I guess I'm very lucky - slept through my entire procedure. Thanks for sharing your additional thoughts. And yes, people are idiots.

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    1. So did I. I thought that's what always happened!

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  128. One aspect of outrage culture I have not seen mentioned,
    when being outraged about some trivial event is elevated to being outraged about people being bombed by an invading country, it gets a lot easier to not care so much about the people getting bombed.

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  129. Please tell me what clinic you got your colonoscopy at, so if the outfit that owns it ever acquires the clinic where I got mine, I'll be forewarned.

    I had no idea that you could go through one of these procedures without sedation. I've had three, and the same thing happened every time.

    The prep was the biggest pain in the butt, especially after the Dulcolax and the Miralax had done their work and I was shitting dirty water and it BURNED. That, of course, was after a long, long day of forcing down more liquid than I usually drink in two days, possibly three.

    The event itself? I lay down in a hospital bed, where I'd been given a saline drip, then I was shifted to a gurney which was then wheeled toward the--and Shazam! I was back in the hospital bed and it was all over, as if the procedure had been snipped out of my consciousness like a big jump-edit. In another hour I was up, dressed, being processed out and then I went to lunch.

    I've always been a frustrated medical geek and I would have been curious to see what happened. I didn't know that not being sedated was even an option.

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  130. Lord knows I love your commentaries.

    I have my first colonoscopy coming in the very near future. My new insurance company must have a specific checklist tied into a serious reward/punishment system. I just had a kick ass health year last year - that included major sx (and CA dx) and other serious emerging issues. New insurance / new PCP as of Jan 2022. My PCP’s personal mission is to see her insurance checklist completed. That’s it.

    Does NOT want to hear about my previous or current issues - no, no, NO! - that is for all the specialists to deal with. Top of her list: Mammogram. It was done in the midst of all my serious appts and procedures. Could NOT care less about me or what else may be happening with me.

    Next on her list: the dreaded undignified colonoscopy. My GI issues will not allow me to drink all that prep – but there was no opportunity to share that with her. The clear message is: “Get it done!”

    B/P was taken; it was above normal. Lost weight from my previous visit (because of continuing GI issues). I dared to mention my BP had been all over the place – including really high following my last procedure the previous day. History of hypertension documented in my new patient paperwork. She stated that I was nervous because of the procedure and then turned around and walked away. End of non-discussion. End of visit.


    My instructions were come back in 90 days - get the labs she ordered and have the colonoscopy done. She is not interested in copies of labs that I am getting other places (between 1 and 4 times a month). No - she wants HER labs. Yes, I am outraged. We have been trained to be outraged.

    My big story about healthcare issues and the outrage of it all highlights the whole silo / stay in your lane. If I see it on Fox (reality TV or my preacher / Governor tells me it is true), that's it - that's how it is. If I don’t want to hear about reality or problems, I am simply going to focus solely on what is important to me.

    You are a primo lane jumper with a wicked SOH. Your outrage has a logic and purpose.

    This is why I/we love you.

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  131. I think the people who are outraged at Jim's posts NEED colonoscopies. It appears the shit has backed up into their brains.

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  132. You had me at Uranus...which is a rather uncomfortable position to be in. But seriously, good essay.

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  133. Amen, brother Jim. As someone who performs colonoscopies and affirms y’all’s right to be (in the y’all means all vein), amen. And thank you. There’s not enough articulate common sense out there.

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  134. I think this spread of outrage is the embryo of an honor culture, like that of the old south, or Iran. In the bad old days, if you were an abolitionist, a slaveholder would challenge you to a duel and, why, if you refused, might decide to assault you in the streets. It was impossible to debate slavery in Congress for many years, because of it. People who finally decided that they were going to criticize anyway then founded a political party.

    That's where this is going: to a place where anti-racists and gay people will be routinely threatened.

    Croak!

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  135. Jim, there is hope for the future. This guy is literally right in your neighborhood - https://youtu.be/H4gedJZqm3o As someone who's recently undergone a VA colonscopy, I can say you haven't lived until they do a prostate biopsy on you. To save money in both cases they kept me awake with 'light' sedation. As far as tv over the last 30/40 years, it's the rise of the 'kick down' mentality, i.e. kick down on the weaker part of society as the reason for all our problems. Remember St. Ronnie telling us it was all because of people on welfare driving cadillacs?

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  136. I didn't see this until a few minutes ago in my email. Thank you for the laugh in the first part, because, yes, undignified. And you're descriptive abilities made it a hoot. Then the homophobic comment. Have you seen the Nathan Fillion reaction gif? From Castle? Yeah, my reaction. I suspect the rest of your commentary is why I don't watch any of that stuff. I don't want to be continually outraged. Thank you for your observations.

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  137. You’re right. But maybe you’re wrong? Maybe we’ve always been this way, but the media is now more willing to “go there,” whereas, in the past the media was trying to create the pretense of a more civilized human race? Either way, we definitely suck now, and social media, reality TV, and politics have only made it more obvious. Let’s be better. Change starts with us. <3

    P.S. I’ve been following you for years, and you remain ever relevant and always entertaining.

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  138. LOVE your essays so much! I'm SURE you've heard of this, but I thought I'd tell you anyway: SubStack. It is an email based newsletter system that is MONETIZED. You can offer your stuff for free, or you can set up a paid subscription model - or a hybrid of both. I'm trying it out and I really like it. Substack is easy to use and there are many writers using it already. substack.com (NOT paid to mention it, I just think it would be a good fit for your content - PLUS, I'd never miss a post if it hit my email.)

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  139. Thank you for being right :) and easy to agree with on it all. I loved Bob Vila tho I had zero fix-it talent or ability beyond handing my ex-husband tools while he fixed things while we were married.

    Bob Ross taught me to oil paint and I took my life of art & ran from there to here all these 30-ish years later. Every time someone asks me why I do not watch much TV .. I wonder why not and why most of it seems terrible to me the few times I have made an effort to watch any of it over the years.

    Now I know .. I have plenty of real reasons to be out-raged .. I do not need manufactured pretend .. but I do not live in my own outrage .. I have worked hard over the years to heal myself into a happy emotionally healthy person who still participates in life and sees all the wonderfulness out there as well as the senseless outrage that til now I have not really understood.

    Thank you so much for being you!!! And for sharing your thoughts and writings with us.

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  141. Wondered where you were going with this...
    I liked my colonoscopies (I've had three) because I got great drugs and don't remember any of it.

    But homophobic??? WTF? Have people lost their goddam minds?

    Outrage is exhausting. Eventually it will consume and destroy the outraged. But probably not soon enough

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  142. Man, it is so hard to talk about this without starting to sound like the people ranting about Cancel Culture (when what's usually getting "cancelled" is hate speech or bad behavior). But you threaded that needle, as usual. I do remember those old shows and you're right--it might not have been a better time, but it seemed like a less angry one. Now everyone seems desperate to find the next bad guy, because nothing provides a hit like "justifiable" moral outrage and a little mob justice. Heck, that's the essence of clickbait headlines: instant outrage, instant gratification.

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  143. I so needed this essay. It's utterly brilliant from beginning to (dare I say it) end. Yes, I just had another colonoscopy, so that part of it was beyond hilarious - and I, like everyone else, need a good laugh these days. But the way you built on that to arrive at an entirely sobering conclusion was just masterful. (Oh, and way to pile on the nostalgia. If somehow "Square Foot Gardening" had been in there I'd have been completely deceased instead of just partially so.) In all seriousness, you've articulated the dread, the dismay, and the horrifying feeling of helplessness this world has me in these days; and yet knowing there are, actually, signs of intelligent life in the universe helps. Thank you.

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