Qualls: Things I don’t understand


The world seems to make less sense every day.  Strange things are going on everywhere. This is not about UFOs, ESP or Bigfoot. It’s things more incredible than that. We are living in a Bizarro World. I submit the following into evidence.

On the very same day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the U.S. Congress, Kanye West gives a lecture at Oxford University.  Guess which one was controversial?

The leader of one our closest allies speaks about a concern to both his nation and ours, and it’s depicted as an insult to President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Kanye West is doing a “stream of consciousness” nearly incoherent babbling presentation at Oxford University where he boasts that President Obama calls him at home.  I hope that isn’t true.

I hope it isn’t true that our president refuses to talk to the prime minister of the democratic nation of Israel but calls up the egomaniacal Kanye West for a little chat.  By the way, West told the students at Oxford that if he had been a Renaissance painter he would have been like Picasso, only better. He also told them his shirt cost $2,000. Skipping that class should have been an excused absence.

You know that look where a dog is trying really hard to understand? Picture it: turning its head a little to the side, watching closely, really trying to understand. That’s where I am. Events like those described above make me feel like a confused cocker spaniel. And it’s a feeling that’s happening more and more.

Our government sells bonds (debt) to China and then gives money to countries that hate us.  Cue the cocker spaniel. A law that required age verification before accessing Internet pornography was declared unconstitutional. Yet, with all my gray hair, I have to show my driver’s license to buy beer. And it’s controversial to require voters to provide evidence of citizenship to vote. That cocker spaniel is in danger of whiplash.

Hillary Clinton lies about dodging gunfire in Bosnia and she’s still a strong presidential contender. NBC news anchor Brian Williams tells a similar lie and he’s suspended from work. Try explaining that to the cocker spaniel. While you’re at it, try explaining the popularity of Miley Cyrus, whatever happened in Benghazi and why it’s not OK to be skeptical about climate change (formerly known as “Global Warming.”)

Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Elena Kagan never served as a judge anywhere before being nominated and then confirmed to serve on the highest court in the country. She had only two years of law practice experience. In what world does that make sense? When there’s a bombing, the bomber is blamed. When there’s a drunken driving accident, the driver is blamed. When someone is shot, guns everywhere are blamed. Non sequitur. JP Morgan is now charging customers who make large deposits, yet government reports say that the dollar is stronger than it’s been in years. Interesting? Certainly nonsensical.

Eventually, that poor cocker spaniel starts to whimper. Despite its best efforts, it can’t make sense of what’s right in front of it.

Maybe it’s not the dog’s fault. Maybe it really doesn’t make sense. Maybe that’s why ABC news reports that anxiety is now the most reported psychiatric ailment in our country. In this category, the United States is number one!

Bizzaro World is highly stressful for those wanting things to make sense. Bizzaro World is one where attitudes are measured and presented as a meaningful barometer of what must be true. Excuses are offered as reasons and attitude trumps analysis. And most of us go along to get-along. Stressful. Finally, the cocker spaniel goes beyond the whimper and starts to bark. But, nobody likes a barking dog. They would rather listen to Kanye West.

These are things I just don’t understand.


Column by  Kevin Qualls, Professor of mass communications

12 Comments on "Qualls: Things I don’t understand"

  1. Steven Taylor | March 6, 2015 at 5:16 pm |

    Please don't make memes from a second-rate conservative Facebook page into a stream of consciousness op-ed piece. Reading this whole thing hurts as much as watching Admiral Stockdale begin a debate with questions reminiscent of Alzheimer's sufferers.
    From your own generation, I posit the following piece of advice: "Get out of the new [way] if you can't lend a hand, for the times they are a-changin'."

  2. Well written column. Now if someone would just try to solve these cases.

  3. Jolie Birchfield | March 6, 2015 at 10:14 pm |

    Thank you, Kevin…I thought I was the only one with "Spaniel Syndrome". It is certainly Bizzaro World when Kanye speaks at an Ivy League college (wasn't it agreed that he shouldn't even be allowed to speak at cheesy award ceremonies???). But then again, I'm still trying to understand why we're expected to care about the Kardashian family.

  4. Time for the Cocker Spaniel to revert back to it's original DNA and release it's inner wolf and take a stand for truth against the bizarre idiocy!!!!!!!

  5. Hey Kevin, Who is that Steven guy anyway? Sure hope he just works @ Eastern KY and was not born there. He would make those of us natural born East Ky geniuses look really bad!

  6. I find it interesting that the author seems to blame what he terms "Bizarro World" solely on liberals or Democrats. While I agree that we live in interesting times, I firmly believe that ignorance and poor-decision making are equal opportunity employers. Could we get a more "fair and balanced" view of Bizarro World, please?

  7. There are a lot things Qualls doesn't understand about what he doesn't understand. Anyone who is surprised that Congress's invitation to Netanyahu sparked controversy is probably surprised every time he wakes up to discover that, once again, the sun is shining in the sky. Anyone who finds the delicate and complex nature of the politics of foreign policy as confusing as a Kanye West rant probably shouldn't comment on politics at all. The cocker spaniel surprised by the fact that a politician lies and is still a viable Presidential candidate should maybe read newspapers rather than urinate on them. Anyone who is as equally flummoxed by Miley Cyrus's popularity as he is by the problem with climate change skepticism just doesn't understand that people love Miley Cyrus for pretty much the same reason that people deny climate change. That's all about attitude, not reality. The reality is that pretty much every single "skeptical" claim and piece of "evidence" has been disproven by science. People who like Miley Cyrus will continue to like her in the face of all the evidence that her music and very being are fatuous. People who are "skeptical" of climate change science will continue to do so no matter how silly (and dangerous) it is to do so. That's my Bizarro world … the one in which people behave like cocker spaniels, stubbornly refusing to engage in the complexities of the world, reducing it all, instead, into a milk bone.

  8. Oxford is not Ivy League. You know it's not in the USA right?

  9. "Kanye West gives a lecture at Oxford University." No he didn't. He spoke to the Oxford Guild Society in Oxford. Nothing to do with the University or any of the colleges. But we shouldn't let fact checking get in the way of this tired and emotional discourse on what the author does not understand about…most things apparently.

  10. "Our government sells bonds to China.." As we will be discussing today in ECO 310 Issues in the Global Economy (Business Building room 306), China buys our bonds because we buy their goods and they want to buy safe assets with the dollars they are holding. There is much ignorance regarding economics and fear of China surrounding this issue as illustrated in the article. I strongly encourage my students to move beyond superficial reactions and I would ask Qualls to do the same.

  11. Bentley Clifford Utgaard | March 11, 2015 at 5:42 pm |

    I have a hard time understanding that there are people who think that Kayne West speaking at Oxford or wherever has anything to do with well, anything. It’s not controversial because WHO CARES. I like Kanye, actually. He’s pretty good at what he does…which is not foreign policy, by the way. The real Bizarro World happens when people fail to see how Netanyahu’s recent speech to Congress (not to mention how he got the gig) could be a tad bit controversial. Another example of something I don't understand about this column is the attack on Supreme Court Justice Kagan. There are no constitutional restrictions on whom the President may appoint, plus she was confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee just like all the rest. Some casual internet research revealed that Justice William Rehnquist, along with 39 other former Supreme Court justices did not have prior judicial experience, either. The comparisons throughout are simplistic and baselessly provocative. A little research goes a long way in making credible arguments.

  12. At least this guy buys beer, because he has the logic of the leaders of the "Keep It Out" movement… I'm guessing that he didn't even read or listen in whole to either Kanye West's or Benjamin Netanyahu's speeches, because each one was both eccentric and compelling, But what's bizarro, is that Netanyahu is dropping in the polls since he talked, while Kanye ended up selling more music after he talked… Elena Kagen? What's really bizarro is a serial pervert like Clarence Thomas getting voted onto the bench by a bunch of old white conservatives… And lies? Really? What's bizarro is a Republican congressman embarrassing himself, and his nation, while behaving like someone from a third world parliament, by standing up and shouting "Liar" to the President of the United States during a State of the Union Address, and then getting praised for it by the right wing media… And just to be clear, which shooters exactly have not been blamed and vilified for their killings? What's bizarro is that the best the gun lobby can do is call for more guns in the hands of more people so that everyone is armed all the time. …And what's finally bizarro is a professor asking students to publish his random biases in a college newspaper. Just sayin'

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