Friday, September 21, 2007

In the Beginning was the End (parte secunda)

So, you may ask, what do men's habits post-going-to-the-'bathroom' have to do with the End being in the Beginning?

Ahh, well, right now they only have a connection in my head, but soon they will have in yours, too. Provided, that is, you keep on reading. So, how's that for a 'hook'? And, no, you can't read ahead to the End to see how it all comes out, because in my usual way I shall scramble things all up, and you really won't know where the End actually just give up and read on.

The fatuosity of some 'research' and its conclusions never ceases to amaze me. Here's a few lines from it, to save you going to the page:

One-third of men don't wash their hands after using the restroom.

Not only that, if he tells you he washed his hands, he may not be telling the truth.

This is revealed in results of the latest Hand Washing Survey, released Monday at a scientific meeting in Chicago by the American Society for Microbiology and the Soap and Detergent Association. The survey found that although 89% of men claim in a telephone poll to wash their hands every time they use a public bathroom, only 66% were seen doing so.

The survey found that women outwash men, though they also overstate their cleanliness: While 96% say they always wash their hands in a public restroom, 88% of women were actually seen doing so.

Number of people 'surveyed': approximately 3k men and 3k women.

Hmm. Interesting. What it really tells me is that there are far too many cameras in public places, and that quite possibly the information from said cameras is being made available entirely to the wrong people. The 'Soap and Detergent Association'? Huh? What right to they have to access such records? Imagine some weirdo! from their research staff quite possibly watching you pee on video and then washing your hands, or not—of fumbling with your fly or what-have-you. Ahh, banish those images from my imagination! Get thee hence, fiends! weirdo!s

Unless I'm wrong with my preliminary conclusion, in which case the evidence for the '66%' claim must come from somewhere else, and these have to be observations supplied by human observers. More weirdo!s, who must have skulked at length in the close vicinity of those relieving themselves in public relieving-places; a veritable army of men and women—or men disguised as women, or women disguised as men, just to cover all our bases here! (again: weirdo!s)— all dedicated to determining who washes hands and who doesn't.

Great job! Remind me never to apply for one like that... Skip that. Don't remind me. I'd rather forget such things are possible. Certain imagery unsettles settled stomachs and should not be imprinted into one's brain.

Human observer results of the 'true' post-pee-or-crap-hand-washers are not necessarily reliable, for any number of reasons. Just to pick one at random: if I had some weirdo! hanging around in the men's room with a writing pad or a little counter-clicker in his hand and watching me like a hawk, all the while pretending he wasn't—just imagine that scene as a movie clip; it has incredible stand-up comedic potential—well, I'd not only not pee against the urinal, but try to find me a cubicle with a lockable door and once done get the hell out of there, and never mind washing my hands. There are worse things than a few germs on your fingers.

Beside—and how about some practicality here??—urine is clean. Hell, you can drink it and use it as a rinse for wounds and all sorts of things. Other things aren't so clean, but it occurs to me that the crap on toilet seats, door handles, cubicle locks and so on, is much, much worse. So you do the right thing and wash your hands—and then?

Well, either it's the blow-dryer that not only blows whatever germs you may have left on your hands right into your face—cool!—and it also nicely warms them up and blows them into everybody else's breathing orifices; including the weirdo! with the pad or the clicker. Else it's the towels on a roller, that might or might not have been hygienically sterilized by the towel supplier. Problem with the towels is you can't take them with you...which makes the paper towel option much more attractive, because not only can you dry your hands on something that very probably has never been touched by a human hand before, but you can also fold it over and use it to open the door(s) you came in through, such as to avoid touching the germ breeding grounds on the handles. But make sure you use at least two layers of paper, or else the wetness from your hands will transmit the germs straight from the gripping side to your hands, and then you're screwed anyway. And make sure, when you're done with all that, that you fold the paper over so that you don't end up touching the dirty side.

Of course, soon after you've finally disposed of the disposable towel—whose 'environmental friendliness' should at least be investigated, if not doubted—you will touch other things contaminated with germs, and be it only somebody's keyboard, where stuff lurks you really rather not know about! In other words, why the hell bother to begin with, especially since your immune system does need constant challenges to stay on guard, for otherwise it soon slackens off and/or doesn't respond appropriately. And, let's face it, when it comes down to the crunch, your immune system, and not some disinfectant is what really protects you against whatever skulks on the fittings of the 'bathroom'—though not against the lurker with the pad.

There are other serious issues with the methodology these 'researchers' use to establish a baseline for whatever they say 'really' happens in bathrooms. Issues so grave that I think said baseline is entirely a matter of conjecture.

But enough! What I really wanted to go on about was the fact that people lie and that that really and honestly shouldn't come as a surprise. I mean, would you tell the asshole who phones you to do some 'research' what you really do in the privacy of your post-peeing ritual? Especially given that said 'researcher' does indeed have your number—your phone number at the very least, and so, no matter what anybody says, these things are never anonymous. Why should anybody expect to tell the truth here? I'm utterly surprised that—assuming we believe the baseline figure, which I don't to begin with—the numbers of liars are apparently so low! Obviously the phenomenon evidenced on TV these days, where random dysfunctional people or groups thereof allow their most debasing and one would think embarrassing attributes to be exhibited to the world at large, is quite pervasive and not confined to just a few definite weirdos! Also interesting are the apparent implications—again if we believe the baselines!—of the gender-differences in the responses. Are they so because of the differences in the methodology involved in the determination of the baselines themselves; in the interview-related psychological aspects of gender-difference; or because of both?

And so we come to you, dear reader, because I'm wondering if you're a liar or not. Actually, I don't wonder, because I know you are—because we all are. Little white ones without selfish intent or harm done; to the big bad ones, to others and yourself. We all do it. At the very least we do it through 'denial' of things awareness of which we either want or need to deny during the normal course of a day. Denial is lying, make no mistake about it.

So tell me this: do you, at least occasionally and maybe 'accidentally' read the end of a story before you even begin it? Or do you decide to watch enough of the last snippet of that DVD you just rented from the store, so that you get at least a notion of whether the good guys win or not, or who-really-dunnit, or if the guy gets his girl or the girl her guy? And if you don't like it, do you watch the DVD or read the book anyway? Because you did fork out cash for it; and who wants to admit, even to themselves, that they wasted money because of an error in judgment, hard to make though it might have been?

OK, so don't tell me! Because if you say 'no' I won't necessarily believe you anyway, and we want to keep that nice easy relationship we've got going, right? No need to inject dissonances.

But do some serious honest-with-yourself thingie here. How often do you place the end, or the knowledge of the end, before the beginning? Does this awareness, once you have it—and once you do you can never remove it; no more than most of you can not see the Dalmatian (sniffing at the ground) in the image below, now that I've told you that it's there—make that experience of pre-knowing of any story, excepting maybe straightforward whodunnits, into something that enhances or degrades the story itself?

Does it maybe depends entirely on the story? How do you set a value on a story? Has it got to do with how much you'd like to hear/see/read it again, because of how it affects you? Or does it live mainly by the not-knowing-the-ending? Will you not spend time on a story because right now you remember much of it, so that hearing/seeing/reading it again will not add anything to the perceived benefit you get from it? If this is the case, then why do you not treat a piece of music the same way? Or a poem, say? Or why do you keep looking at that picture on your wall, which also tells a story of sorts?

So what, you ask, was the connection between In the Beginning was the End and male hand-washing habits? Lies, of course. You probably figured that by now, but for those who didn't I thought I'd mention it anyway.

Convoluted trains of thinking? Hey, aren't they all?

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