The voices in their heads

M – I don’t know if you caught the recent Teen Choice Awards but if you did, I think you’ll agree that Ashton Kutcher’s speech was spot-on and delivered to the perfect audience. (Check it out on YouTube. The video has already received more than 3 million views.) In a nutshell, he talked up the importance of hard work and played down the importance of sex appeal (even more poignant after Miley Cyrus’ recent MTV twerking debacle). Ashton told the young, highly impressionable crowd that “opportunity looks a lot like hard work.” (Reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that most “geniuses” aren’t born but rather become exceptional through hard work and dedication, 10,000-plus hours, starting from a very young age.) Ashton talked about the many menial jobs he had growing up and he added, “I never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping-stone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job.” He also warned his tween and teenage fans not to worry about being “sexy.” “Don’t buy it,” he said. “The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart and being thoughtful and generous. Everything else is crap. I promise you.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. So many women worked so hard to bring about gender equality and this generation of young girls seems to be foregoing their brains in favor of exposing their breasts and booties.

J – I concur. The number one hallmark of success is not talent, intelligence or creativity (although, we’d all like to believe this). It is the stubborn will to succeed, tenacity. To quote my husband, “‘No’ to me means ‘just come back later.’” But you need to focus on a goal to “get the ball in.” I’ll bet even Pelé himself – having, I am sure, put in his 10,000 hours – would have missed the net if he were tweeting while playing or posting a selfie on Instagram. Some studies have shown that the mind cannot successfully do two things at the same time. And this worries me, because we have become a culture that believes in multitasking. According to psychologists, the Internet, social media and smartphones are dividing and conquering our attentions, driving us to distraction and forcing us to lead fragmented lives. In his book “Emotional Intelligence,” Daniel Goleman states that nearly 20 percent of smartphone owners ages 18-34 report having used their phones while having sex. I can only hope that they were looking up different positions. How can we have a voice, when there are so many voices in our heads?

M – Isn’t it interesting how often those with the loudest voices (most notably right-wingers) are discovered to be the biggest hypocrites? There are way too many to name here, so I’ll just list a few. There is Newt Gingrich, who lambasted Bill Clinton for committing adultery and tried to get him impeached, while simultaneously cheating on his second wife with a woman 20 years his junior. And when he himself was exposed as a serial adulterer, he still had no problem playing the “family values card” during his bid for the GOP presidential nomination. Rush Limbaugh’s hypocrisy is legend, but I found his recent public attack on Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke truly reprehensible. He not only called her a “slut” and a “prostitute,” but suggested she film a sexual act for his viewing pleasure, while at the same time publicly rallying against the adult entertainment industry. Yet Rush is considered the “true voice of morality in the U.S.”? And then there’s ultraconservative Mark Sanford, former governor of South Carolina, who also voted to impeach Bill Clinton and who claimed he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was actually in South America cheating on his wife with his Argentine girlfriend. My cousin, a fellow Carolinian, explained that it was all just a big misunderstanding: “Sanford never said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He said he was going after some Argentinean tail.” This would all be hilarious if it weren’t so utterly stupid.

J – There are two subjects I’ve learned not to discuss at a dinner party, or any other social gathering for that matter – politics and religion. That’s a venomous snake pit that I choose to avoid altogether at this stage of the game. I’ve gotten myself backed into a corner by angry supporters of the left wing, the right and the religious high and mighty more times than I care to admit, probably because I disagree with a lot of what is said, because I like a good debate and because I like playing devil’s advocate, much to my own chagrin. However, the one point I will always agree on is the hypocrisy issue. And although politics is rife with hypocrisy (which no one can deny), the slippery slope of the religious soapbox is an even steeper one. Still, I’m not as concerned with the ethics and morals of the “majority” as much as I am with its common sense. You would think that the public humiliation of noted sports, religious and political figures (by noted sports, religious and political figures), time and time again, would somehow keep others from the same fall from grace. But they just keep tumbling down. Hasn’t it sunk in yet, that you can’t text, tweet and email your private lives and private parts around the cyber world? Anthony Weiner comes vividly to mind…

M – Ego seems to trump common sense in many people and especially those in politics.

Wag Up

M – • Dr. Ruth – not only does she have an amazing sounding voice but she gives sexually sound advice.

J – • Ashton Kutcher – He has an amazing everything.

Wag Down

M – • The voices of electronic (and human) telemarketers. Why isn’t the Do Not Call registry working?

J – • I’m gonna double-down on that one, Martha. I have stopped picking up my home phone because of telemarketers. And I no longer give my email out at retail stores. I am now being harassed via cyberspace as well.

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