Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Worst Husband Ever


A show called Wife Swap, which I've never seen -- no longer having the habit of viewing any television monitoring device. The show is not, apparently, as odious as the title suggests. But here's the point. The husband? The bad one? A few of his character traits:

The San Francisco family lives in a "tony ... neighborhood, spends $40,000 a year to send [their] two young children to a French bilingual private school, and [are] die-hard about environmental issues and staying healthy." Well,to be fair, there's nothing wrong with any of that. Their kids, their money, free country.

But it's the "venture capitalist" husband, Stephen Fowler, who "began acting downright cruel to [swapped wife] Gayla. He continually humiliated her in front of his kids, insulted everything from her hometown to her language skills ... and even banned her from setting foot upstairs."

Well, how boorish. He didn't really enter into the spirit of the thing, did he. Didn't follow the rules of the show. Didn't follow the rules of civil conduct. It's not that he's the worst husband ever -- he's just a genuinely crappy person.

He refused to allow the family to sing the national anthem. He has a problem with overweight people, the military, America ... well, why go on. He lives in a tony neighborhood of San Fransisco. The link at the top here gives the article, which itself has a few links to sites that discuss Fowler in depth. For my part, I don't suppose there's really a lot to say. The man is a caricature of himself and his positions. He says he has resigned from a couple of environmental boards, lest the controversy bring them disrepute. So he's a liar as well -- he was told to resign, of course.

Point is, he was on environmental boards. What is it that matters? People? No. An abstract, a theoretical cause. One of the more influential books I've ever read was Intellectuals, by Paul Johnson. I read the first edition, back in the early 90s -- it's been revised, I see. A number of biographies, pointing out a single common thread. Intellectuals care more about theories than about reality, more about "ideas" than about people. This is the reason I'm not an intellectual. I love ideas, and can't say that I care a whole lot, in practical terms, about humanity. But I know what's important. And it's people, not ideas.

Stephan Fowler insulted his guest by bragging about his income ("I probably make more in a week than you make in a year") and his very high IQ (mine is higher than his). To what end? What was the purpose? He did after all know he was being filmed. It's that he thinks it's right to be the way he is. The Truth, as he conceives of it, is the only Truth. And behind all the verbiage, the Truth as he understands it is that his Truth is the Truth. His ilk asserts that everything is relative -- a self-refuting proposition, except that the ellipsis is obvious. Everything is relative, except when I say otherwise. Which makes his opinion the fundamental law of the universe.

Intelligence? It is a measurement of speed. Given long enough, most people can figure out most things. It's not only about knowing facts or having a complex skill. It's how fast you get it. What are we to make of the fact that Stephen Fowler, with his very high but less than mine IQ, in all of his lifetime has never figured out that he should pretend to be civil during the taping of a nationally broadcast television program? What indeed. Yes, intelligence is a measurement of speed, and of knowledge -- but it is also a measurement of wisdom -- that calm, steady, biblical probity that knows right from wrong and is often called, paradoxically, common sense.

That's all I wanted to say. About courtesy, and a little something about my IQ. Which is very, very high. Very. And I'm tall. And blond, which is superior. But I have very small testicles.


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