Monday, August 29, 2005

Captain Kidd & the UFOs

I just watched a bit of a program, on the Discovery or History Channel or somesuch, which documented the efforts of some researchers to uncover the wreck of the dread pirate Captain Kidd's ship.

At first, I found something charming in the zeal these men (and they were all men) brought to their hunt. Deploying expensive equipment and workingwith a largish team, I felt they must pour every cent into this wild endeavor. They must live and breathe pirate hunting at the expense of their wealth, credibility, and popularity with women. Their quest carries with it an air of childish innocence; of boyish fantasies somehow turned into reality.

But the longer I watched, the more I felt unease. There was something dishonest about the enterprise. Intellectually dishonest. The problem was that these men purported to be researchers, but went in with a predetermined result. When they found evidence on the sea floor, they immediately fit it to their preconception. Gold coins became an occasion for a hypothesis that the pirates perhaps needed to leave the ship quickly and were not able to save all their loot. There was no real evidence for this. They were looking for reasons the wreck could have been Captain Kidd's as opposed to reasons it could not. I could see the strain in the pirate-hunter's brain as he forced the find into his worldview.

Why would they operate in so counterproductive a manner? It could easily lead to incorrect labeling of the ship as Kidd's wreck. It makes better TV, for one. And for two, it is only human to want to be a part of something great. For them, greatness seems wrapped up in the romantic pirate, and their part of this greatness would be a great discovery, which would bring them renown and publicity.

I for one would be damned proud to be part of such a discovery. But I am not delusional, as these poor chaps appear dangerously close to being. I have some experience with delusional individuals, and while I can't make a positive diagnosis, I can offer this advice: be wary of anyone with an abnormal fascination with UFOs, conspiracies, or pirates.

I imagine anyone still reading at this point is thinking "But why should this bother you so much? Why take so much effort with a trivial TV show?"

I don't know. I understand others somehow tune the crap out. It's not something I can do. Commercials, for instance have a way of really upsetting me. They really piss me off. I become livid at the blatant manipulations and deceptions employed. The attacks on my self constantly flowing from the TV get way under my skin. I complain. I criticize. I rant. And I irritate anyone who happens to be watching with me far more than the commercials ever could. Most people are able to hit a mental "mute" button. It's a gift I was not given.

On second thought, go on and hunt pirate booty all ye want, ye wild-eyed romantics. As long as you're not scheming in the conference rooms of some ad agency, plotting to foist on me moisturizer and beer, I salute you. Argh.


Anonymous said...

O this is eloquent. Well said! But let it be asked: Have you never heard of not so much the mental mute button, but the actual mute button, which halves the annoyance factor of the dreaded and pervasive commercials that are driving you to the brink of reason?

It is located right on your remote, the one you could find were you not rending your hair from your skull and screaming at those unfortunates who happen to be near you.

beckett said...

Well spake. I...don't...know...why I don't use the mute button. I never thought of it.

Maybe...just...maybe...I revel, just a little bit, in outrage.

vacuous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vacuous said...

I have to agree. The mute button is a very, very, very useful tool in maintaining by equanimity. At one point, I was thinking to myself about how clever Dyson vaccum cleaners are. After a while it hit me that this was because the commercials, in there own insidious way, had told me exactly that. In fact, in one commercial the fucking vacuum cleaner traces out the image of a brain. Of course, when one looks at independent data, it turns out that these vacuum cleaners are made of cheapy plastic parts which break very easily. But, damned if that guy with the fancy British accent didn't tell me about how great his vacuum cleaners are. I mean, for a normal vaccum cleaner, you have to constantly hit it in a desperate attempt to restore its suction. Oh wait. Actually, I've never had to do that with a vacuum cleaner. But he told me I did, and I believed him. Damn stupid insidious commercial!