Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Burning (Random) Questions: The June Edition

Why is it that the surest route to really loving any city is the one you run at 6am, when most of it is still asleep? In Bangkok, this is especially true at this time of year, when, despite it being summer, it's markedly cooler than it was one month ago, thanks, I suppose, to the start of rainy season.

What's "normal" in matters of sickness and health? If, as a cardiologist recently told me, more than half of the perfectly healthy patients who come in and have an echocardiogram exhibit leakage in a part of the heart that is in no way hazardous to the general health, then why isn't that considered "normal"?

Why do kids still want journalism degrees? It pains me to ask this because I have one, and it served me well 20 years ago, before the Internet, back when magazines and newspapers were still thriving. But what if I were entering college now? If I were more concerned with making a living than making myself happy by doing something I really enjoy (but might not get paid much for doing), I'd opt for marketing or advertising instead.

I was talking to a fellow expatriate (a woman from France who has been living abroad for 25 years) on the way back from my morning jog around Lumphini Park, and she told me that her son is in his second year in college, and he's a journalism major. She seemed proud but not exactly enthused. Why? "Aren't there like no jobs in journalism anymore?" she asked -- or something to that general effect. I wish I could have delivered better news than, "Well, on the bright side, many journalism majors go on to become lawyers... or politicians."

Do scarecrows work? I recently saw one from the train window while traveling from Bangkok to Vientiane, and it didn't look so scary at all. I've had birds fly right up to me in the big city, so unless country birds are more skittish about humans than urban ones -- and they very well might be -- why would they be deterred from feeding on crops by such bad human stand-ins, which in photos of scarecrows often seem to be surrounded by crows?

What is it about our parents? Why are "I'm proud of you" and "I'm disappointed in you" three of the best and worst words, respectively, in the English language when they're coming from our folks? I don't think I've heard the latter since I got my nose pierced when I was in my early twenties, but my mom recently told me that she's proud of me, and it almost felt like I'd won the lottery. It's not a compliment that she hands out like candy, and though it's just as sweet, it's far less likely to cause cavities and other shame-inducing physical deformities.

What is it with certain words and phrases that make me cringe every single time I hear them? What will it take to ban the following -- "It is what it is," "Touché," "Step it up," "Focus" -- from overuse, or use, in general? What does "It is what it is" even mean besides the obvious, which is so glaringly obvious that it's never, under no circumstance, ever even worth saying?
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