Big Machine

Not too long ago, I watched a music-related YouTube channel I follow and the person had listed their favorite songs by the Goo Goo Dolls that had appeared on a particular Billboard Chart, I believe it was the Adult Rock chart or something like that.  I’m pretty fond of the Goo Goo Dolls.  I own close to half a dozen of their albums, including all of the studio albums from A Boy Named Goo to Let Love In along with a couple of their compilations.  Among the songs that the commentator particularly liked was one that I like, a song from their Gutterflower album called “Big Machine,” which looks at a hopelessly complicated and dysfunctional relationship.  Perhaps it should not be surprising why someone by whom the words hopeless, complicated, and dysfunctional are frequently mentioned.  With a suitable song stuck in my head, all that remained was for me to observe life around me and see how this sort of feeling of being caught inside a big machine would fit with the life I live.

Last night after returning home from dinner and reading, I felt a slight tinge of panic when I looked at my stack of library and publisher related books to read and saw that there was only one book that is for a book tour next month that I have been putting off for a while.  Then I realized I was going to the library tonight [1] and had half a dozen books that I had bought from Barnes & Nobles this past weekend, finally redeeming the gift card I had been given by the family I chauffeured to and from Preteen Camp the past two years.  It just so happens that when I went to redeem the gift card for half a dozen books that I ran into a moonlighting coworker from the same department I am in.  Then I realized as well that over the course of that day I had arranged for two books to be sent to me from two publishers that normally fulfill my book requests within a week.  So there was no need to panic that the big machine of my reading operations would grind to a halt because of a lack of material to read.  There was no need to panic about that at all.

At work today, a different kind of big machine was an issue.  Shortly before 10AM, I started feeling a bit warm.  Being someone who is extremely sensitive to dehydration and someone who does not have a particularly large amount of energy with which I seek to accomplish my fairly ambitious goals, I tend to notice when the air conditioning fails fairly early.  Being a somewhat alert person as well, I picked up also on the news that the air conditioner was blowing hot air in one of our other rooms, leading to a certain sense of urgency in keeping our office cool, which has been a consistent problem so far this summer [2] for some of us.  Having a computer I can use in a relatively cool place, I retreated to do one of my work projects where it was cool and comfortable and hoped that my absence would not be too noticeable and could be conducted in as stealthy and ninja-like a way as I prefer to operate when it comes to my own dealings.

For the most part, my own big machines are fairly reasonable as far as it goes, but not all big machines operate in as benign a way as I do, with concerns for music, reading, and working in as cool an environment as possible.  On the contrary, some big machines operate in rather unfriendly ways.  Take the Washington Post, for example, which generally humors me by asking for my money in order to support their leftist machine politics, almost transparently hostile to our legitimate elected authorities.  Nearly every day I get some sort of e-mail message urging me to “support the work,” as if their sleazy reportage was akin to some sort of ministry.  Rather than being upset about such matters I find them sources of humor, for like Elizabeth Bennet I delight in having convenient people and institutions to laugh at, and the world is a sufficiently ridiculous place that this desire for humor in the follies of others, and sometimes myself, is easy enough to gratify.

Not all such follies are amusing, though.  For example, as I was browsing through my news stories today I saw a story of two nuclear powers, India and China, whose soldiers in their remote and contested Himalayan regions had thrown stones at each other.  This is decidedly not an amusing sort of folly.  Both China and India are somewhat prickly nations as far as their territorial sovereignty and dignity is concerned and both have already fought each other over their border regions over the past few decades.  It does not take a particularly anxious or panicky nature such as I have to see that the distance between stones thrown to shots fired to missiles launched may not be as large a distance as one might hope.  China is ominously calling upon India to keep the peace, but it might want to tell that to its own trigger-happy soldiers.  The big machine of nationalism and xenophobia that keeps tensions high is a machine that can go awry all too easily, like many of the machines which operate in our world and in our lives.  We may sing about them or we may joke about them, but we cannot entirely ignore them.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, International Relations, Military History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Big Machine

  1. Pingback: Seasons Change | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Help Wanted: Ninjas | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: The Goo Goo Dolls | Edge Induced Cohesion

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