December 28, 2007

Way to Ruin "philia" for the Rest of Us


I saw a word that ended with "philia" the other day and got grossed out. Then, I realized that this word had nothing to do with little kids.

Pedophilia has ruined a perfectly good suffix. "Philia" - meaning friendship, affection, brotherly love has now been corrupted.

But, most people have friendly affection for children, so perhaps we need to give child molestors a new name.

It's the suffix "eros" that actually means sexual love.

So, shouldn't a child molestor be called a pederos?

Of course, that might hurt his chances of getting into the Mexican Hall of Fame too?
...anyone get that one?

December 27, 2007

Why Are Most Theists "Conservative"?


I realize this is a different question than I asked yesterday. But, I realized that they require two very different answers, and I only have theories for today's wording.

Do theists align themselves with "conservatism" because "conservatism" tends to desire the legislation of a similar morality that they align themselves with?

Or, in this country, where "theist" means Christian in 90% of cases, do Christian's simply have an inherent appreciation for the power of freedom?

December 26, 2007

Why Are Most "Conservatives" Theistic?


I work in Chicago, and as such, am immersed in a fairly liberal working environment. However, Ayn Rand's, "Atlas Shrugged" has been making its way around my office, not from me mind you.

And the ideas are sticking. People are getting it. For those of you unfamiliar with Rand, amidst her objectivist, free-market philosophy lies a very intrinsically woven atheistic outlook. Which frankly, I wonder if that is one of the reasons it has been so successful in this liberal audience. Rand separates Christianity from Conservatism.

This stemmed a question from one of my coworkers the other day, "Why are most 'conservatives' theistic?"

I await your theories, and will offer mine tomorrow.

December 21, 2007

I Am America


Let's say I find a handsome, well-spoken man with no real opinions on anything. He's up for believing anything we tell him to believe.

Our goal is popularity. We want him to run for President as the populist candidate. What would we tell him to believe in that would sit well with the majority of the public?

Let's start brainwashing. Pick your issues, and speak the populist platform.

December 20, 2007

To Fix a Stranger's Brokeness


I wish I could hug strangers.

There was a lady walking out of my health club today softly sobbing. I couldn't ask her what was wrong. I couldn't give her a hug. I couldn't help patch the broken. Because I'm a weird stranger.

How could I help in this situation? What could I do?

December 19, 2007

Huckawho?


Mike Huckabee is now the national front runner for the Republican party. Why?

I was out for lunch with some people from work yesterday, and they mentioned Chuck Norris. So, I asked how many people had seen the Chuck Norris / Mike Huckabee commercials?

...blank stares...then, a "Huckawho?"

No one knows who this guy is. And yet, all of a sudden, he jumps to the lead? Why?

Because he's the only GOP candidate who talks openly about his faith. And apparently, that's all it takes.

But, that doesn't change the fact that this guy will get demolished in a national election.

Ideas = Spam?


So, I was banned from posting for the last few days, because Blogger thought this blog was being used for spamming purposes...

Obviously, someone saw my recreational shrink-wrapping idea, and wanted to shut me down before I cashed out. Nice try.

I apologize for the inconvenience. You can expect regular thought-provocation to resume shortly.

December 14, 2007

Balancing Freedom with Responsibility


"We need to protect children." "Adults should be free to do whatever they want." "I am my brother's keeper."

All of these statements have merit, but they can also contradict each other. So, how do we protect people from themselves without extinguishing liberty?

And what it comes down to is, who are we responsible for?

Should we stress individual responsibility? Familial responsibility? Or collective responsibility? and why?

December 13, 2007

The Power of Words


Legislating morality sounds bad, right. The phrase implies inflicting someone's personal beliefs regarding morality on others.

However, we regulate behavior all the time. Stealing, murder, kidnapping, rape. All wrong. Not much argument. However, these are still personal beliefs. They are just populist beliefs.

So, does the only trouble come when a political party tries to criminalize something that's not universally frowned upon?

December 12, 2007

Recreational Shrink-Wrapping


So, we have a client that sells shrinkwrapping devices for packaging. You put the package in this machine, it spins around really fast, and the package gets completely and instantly shrink-wrapped.

Here's my idea for expanding their market. Why only shrink-wrap packages? Why not people?

I think certain people (aka - freakshows) would enjoy getting spun around and shrink-wrapped. Then, we could throw them in a Chuck'E Cheese ball pit afterwards. Or set up an obstacle course or something.

This has got to be a hundred-dollar idea just waiting to happen.

December 11, 2007

Expectations are Powerful


Expectations are so powerful that we often live up to them. I remember being in college one day, thinking how did I get here? Well, I had the means, and it was expected of me. So, mostly, I just followed that route. I was expected to drink socially. I was expected to never do drugs. I was expected to get good grades. I was expected to abstain from sex. And I just kind of followed these expectations.

So, while I understand the argument that kids are going to have sex and that we better do whatever we can to make it safe for them to do so...

I also believe that by schools providing free contraception, we are saying that we expect you to have sex. And expectations are powerful.

December 10, 2007

E-Ching For the Day:


"The best part about losing is that it means someone else gets to win."

December 07, 2007

Your Mind is Messed Up


Just a reminder that you can't believe anything you see. Also, you're probably crazy. Third, no one else sees them spinning but you.

December 06, 2007

Lady Liberty? Really?


"Welcome to America, the land of the she-males."

That has to be what many immigrants thought when they entered New York Harbor. Their greeting given by this half-Grecian, half-Amish, giant muscled statue that they want us to believe is a lady?

Granted, in our coinage, we got it a little bit closer.

But, these immigrants are accustomed to sculptures of Athena, Venus and Aphrodite...and we give them a female version of Hulk Hogan?

That's not the America I watch people die for.

December 05, 2007

No More Middle Man


When you're involved in a purchasing situation, and you see a way where you can go around the middle man and buy directly from the source, do you consider this to be greedy?

December 04, 2007

E-Ching For the Day:


"Love has no restraining order."

December 03, 2007

Mocking My Future Self


Roughly ten years ago, I walked into a public men's room and there was an old man in there standing in front of a urinal, with both arms raised and pressed against the wall, as if taking advantage of this downtime to take a brief upper-body nap.

Frightened, I quickly left the men's room and told the story to all my friends. We laughed at the weird old man and his old man ways.

A decade passed, and last Friday I walked into the empty men's room at work and stood before a urinal. It had been a tough week. And I was exhausted. Before I knew it, my hands were raising and I slowly leaned against the wall in front of me.

Quickly realizing what I had done, I lowered my hands and became instantly ashamed.

I have become that which I scoffed.

November 30, 2007

Was it Worth it?


Hypothetical: A man is walking down the street and sees a girl about to be hit by a car. He jumps in front of the car and pushes the girl out of the way. She lives. He dies.

Was the sacrifice worth it?

The problem is that we only get to see the consequences of the reality and not the alternative hypothetical. What will she do with her life compared to what he would have done? How will his death affect others compared to how hers would have?

So, what about Iraq? This logic clearly can not justify the reasons for our intervention. But, it does bring up a interesting thought regarding what we should do now, and pondering whether our sacrifice was worth it.

Saddam Hussein, a man who was ethnically cleansing his country through mass rape and murder is no longer able to do so. How many people would have been killed had we not intervened? Could it possibly be more than have died in this war? Would he have bartered his way into a nuclear weapon by now? Would he have used it?

Or, let's say we walk out now, claiming that we can not stay in a situation we entered due to faulty information. Muslims around the world call it a religious victory awarded by God. The appeal of Islamic fundamentalism grows. What would be the outcome of that?

Unfortunately, we won't really know whether or not any of this was worth it. Because, we'll only get to see the outcome of one side, whichever one happens.

November 29, 2007

Havana, We Have a Problem


So, we're sitting here waiting for the people of Cuba to overthrow Fidel and start a democracy. And we're not going to trade with them until they do, right?

But, here's the problem. Let's say the people complain. Fidel replies, "It's America's fault. They won't trade with us because they're the great Satan. That's why you're poor."

That's a good argument, right? So, we're sitting here hoping for the populace of that country to want to emulate us, but they might just think we're big jerks.

And while this is happening, we're still trading with China, even though they're a Communist country. Maybe just because the lead paint on Hot Wheels tastes so good.

November 28, 2007

Choose the Winner


Read the following discussion, and choose the Beatle that best represents your view. (note, this was not an actual conversation had by these Beatles. The real names were changed to protect the idiots.)

John:
do you think it's a contradiction when someone wants to raise taxes for their own tax bracket to a certain level that they think is "fair", but does not currently willingly give that much to charity?

Ringo:
no.

John:
was jefferson wrong for owning slaves while he was trying to pass legislation to free them?

Ringo: this was talked about recently on Bill Maher's show. I forget the exact argument, but he said that no, it wasn't wrong for jefferson to own slaves while doing that. And I'm not sure if I agree.

John: well, judging by your above comment, you would?

Ringo: think it's wrong?

John: you would not. it's the same contradiction i gave above re: charitable giving. someone thinks something is right, but will only do it when it's illegal NOT to

Ringo: charitable giving goes to a specific cause. raising tax revenue is expecting to get something back. ie: raise taxes so that everyone has health care

John: ok, then why don't they willingly give that extra money to hospitals every year until they make it illegal not to

Ringo: the goal is that there's a national effect, to raise the quality of life for everyone. giving to one hospital or one charity, by one person isn't enough.

John: but if you believe it's the RIGHT thing to do, enough to make it MANDATORY for everyone to do it, why aren't you doing it right now?

Ringo: the belief that it will have very little impact.

John: does that really make sense to you?

Ringo: yep.

November 27, 2007

E-Ching For the Day


"Faith is not a safety net. It is knowing what's on top of the mountain."

November 26, 2007

The Evolution of Power


It used to be that only the wealthy could have power. And even then, you had to be born into it. But, the human spirit changed all this. Democracy made power available to anybody willing to work for it. And then, the human spirit found a loophole.

Handguns anybody near absolute power within a 30 yard circumference of where they are. You don't need to be a son of a king anymore, win the people's affections, or diligently earn your way.

You just need to wait three days.

November 21, 2007

Re-Thinking Robin Hood


As you well know, I have publicly vilified Robin Hood on this blog on several occasions, pronouncing him as utter communistic propaganda.

But today, I rethink my hypothesis. Why couldn't Robin Hood be used as libertarian propaganda for someone like Ron Paul instead?

He is taking back money that was wrongly taxed from the populace. Robin Hood does not have to be seen only as a rich-bad, poor-good scenario. It merely sheds a positive light on limited government and lower taxation. So, I guess Robin Hood can be whatever you want. He'll always be Kevin Costner to me.

November 20, 2007

The Best Way to Kill


Michael Moore's film, "Bowling for Columbine" tried to theorize why there is so much gun violence in America as opposed to other gun-toting countries. The movie ends unconclusively, letting you think about it for yourself. So I have.

Have you watched International Soccer matches lately? There are constant riots. It's unbelievable. People getting mauled and beaten over the outcome or even during a game.

So, here's my conclusion. Americans have a higher rate of gun violence because we're smarter. We know that our odds of inflicting harm on someone are much higher if we use guns and not just whatever is lying around when we become inebriated at a sporting event.

And at least our violence is based on revenge, drugs, money or women. But, soccer?

November 19, 2007

H2Low


This is how the drinking fountains are set up at the health club I go to every morning. On some mornings, there will be a line three deep for the higher water fountain, while the shorter one remains empty.

I am guilty of this as well. Why? Subconsciously, I think that the water in the higher fountain is better, cleaner, colder. Yet, intellectually I know that's absurd. Is it a spatial issue? Do I not like having someone so close to my back? If the nozzle was on the other side, would I prefer the shorter fountain? I suppose some people could have back problems. But that's not my excuse.

Any other theories? Are we all just crazy?

November 16, 2007

Talent: How America Got So Rich


(continuation)

While the previous hypotheses' regarding the cause of America's wealth are all partially responsible, and while there are likely dozens of other reasons, the final one I want to discuss is "talent".

For the last two-hundred years, we have been drawing the best and the brightest from all over the world. The best engineers, doctors, lawyers, athletes...they all come to America to work. Why? Because they are better rewarded for their efforts here than they could be anywhere else.

So, while the benefits of socialized systems and a higher tax-rate can be very appealing, it is essential that we understand what caused our country to get to this position of wealth in the first place. And understand the possible consequences of imitating someone else.

November 15, 2007

World War II: How America Got So Rich


(continuation)

After World War II was won by the Allied forces, The United States became a lone global superpower along with the Soviet Union trailing behind. This lack of competition allowed the United States to become the leading producer/exporter of...just about everything.

While that gap has narrowed significantly over the last 50 years, this has to be given credit for our current state of wealth. But, even before this event, we were a comparatively wealthy nation. So, there's one more big idea that we'll consider tomorrow to round up our week in thought.

November 14, 2007

Agriculture: How America Got So Rich


(continuation)

We stand on very fortunate ground here in the U.S. Throughout this country, we have different seasonal patterns and climates that allow us to produce an abundance of basic essentials that feed, clothe and shelter the world. Agriculture is the largest industry in this country, employing over 20 million people.

While human intelligence has played a big role in the continual industrial revolution, a lot of our agriculture success and wealth must be credited to simply residing on such fertile ground.

However, we are not the only country to have this climate, and yet, we are the wealthiest.

So, while agriculture may take partial credit, let's keep looking.

November 13, 2007

Slavery: How America Got So Rich

(continuation)

This is a popular argument. Having access to millions of laborers you don't have to pay, and only providing them with enough necessities to stay fit as laborers seems like a great way to make some money. And it was. Especially in early America where land was ample and labor was few. Slavery, even if legal today, would not be nearly as economically prosperous as it was 200 years ago because of the higher costs to house and guard these slaves today.

But, the problem is that lots of countries had slaves. Some still do. Yet, we alone experienced unprecedented wealth.

So, while slavery may take partial credit, let's keep looking.

November 12, 2007

How Did America Get So Rich?


I am looking for any possible theories you either personally have or have heard for how America has become the wealthiest country on Earth.

We will spend the rest of the week discussing the possibilities of these theories.

November 09, 2007

Telecommuting


So, they're remodeling at my office today. And I get to work from home. I've never done that before.

On a related note, Drew Carey doesn't make a very good Bob Barker replacement.

I'm kidding, I just watched one game. It wasn't even Plinko. What a waste of time.

But, this is definitely the future. And as a writer, I definitely don't have to be at work to get stuff done. And I save 2 hours of commuting. But, any advice out there for how to concentrate around so many distractions?

November 08, 2007

Nebraska Man


In 1917, a single tooth was found by a rancher in Nebraska. This drawing was created from that tooth. Several years later an identical tooth was found...along with the rest of the skeleton...of a pig.

There's a lot of other drawings you're probably familiar with from high school that are creatively illustrated from a couple of teeth and a femur, sometimes found hundreds of feet apart from each.

So, the question is, what incentive do these people have to creative something past what the evidence points to?

November 07, 2007

The Problem with Names


My friend's name is Stacy Peterson. She lives in Chicago. So, I'm driving to work the other day and hear on the radio that Stacy Peterson is missing and that foul play has been considered. Her physical description matches my friend's as well.

It wasn't her. But needless to say, I'm sure plenty of her family and friends were scared for a minute, especially when the media let the sound-byte stop there before giving the name of her suspected husband, etc.

So, here's the problem. What if someone from Chicago with my name becomes a convicted serial killer, pedophile, etc.? Then I get the wrap. That's why you should name your kid something ridiculous.

Unless your kid actually DOES become a serial killer. Then, he can't say, "No, that must be a DIFFERENT Gonzo Potatohead."

November 06, 2007

Alliances


On the TV show Survivor, people inevitably form alliances. They enter willingly into smaller subsets of the larger community for mutual benefits.

Are families merely alliances in the greater whole of society?

November 05, 2007

Tricked into It


I was always a 2% milk kind of guy. Went to college, filled my bowl of frosted flakes with the pump marked 2% in the cafeteria every morning. Went home on Christmas break, drank a glass of 2% milk, and spit it right out. It tasted like cream to me.

What I didn't know is that the school cafeteria had been using 1% in the 2% container. But, mentally, since I wasn't aware of the change, I became accustomed to it.

The same thing happened to me recently with light potato chips. My wife packed Ruffles light potato chips made w/ Olestra (yes, my wife packs a lunch for me, she's amazing) into my lunch, and I didn't notice the difference. But, these have no fat. So, it seems like the only way I can exhibit a healthy lifestyle is if I'm tricked into it.

Deception...that's the key.

November 02, 2007

Missing Role Models


So, in a K-5 school, the 5th graders think they're royalty and have no one to look up to as role models, because no one wants to be like their teacher. Then, they jump into 6th grade and want to be like the royal 8th graders. Once there, they have no one to look up to. Then, they jump into 9th grade and want to be like the royal seniors. Once, there they have no one to look up to.

How do we incorporate slightly older role models throughout a child's upbringing that fills in these gaps? A K-College school? :)

November 01, 2007

Soda Lid Covers


So, what if you saw someone start licking the outside of a bag of potato chips? Kind of unsanitary seeming, right? Anyone could have touched it throughout the manufacturing/production process. Anything could be on that. It's not part of the vacuum-sealed process.

Yet, we lick the outside metal of soda cans all the time. But, somehow, this seems ok, because it's a necessity of the process, right?

Now, I'm not trying to be a germophobe and pretend like we should be overly concerned about this. But, I do spot a marketing opportunity.

The first company to create a built in lid protector is going to create a need in the marketplace for this. Once people have the choice between small chance of sucking on rat feces to no chance, there's no real contest.

Mark my words. Whoever does it first will win. And the rest will surely follow.

October 31, 2007

E-Ching For the Day


"The only two options are war and peace. But war doesn't have to mean fighting, and peace doesn't have to mean apathy."

October 30, 2007

If It's So Moral


If you truly believe that certain political issues are a moral outcry, in particular, the idea that certain people in this country don't have healthcare, then why aren't you currently spending your personal money on helping to alleviate this problem?

I'm not saying ALL of your money. My contention is that if you claim it to be a serious moral problem, and that you currently choose to ignore the problem unless everyone else sacrifices with you, then would you admit to being immoral?

When you stand on your podium and tell me that I'm greedy, and yet I give ten times the percentage of my income on charitable giving than you do, you lose all credibility with me. And yet, no one else calls you out on this. I don't understand it.

October 29, 2007

Respect for the Presidency


This is a fully-loaded post title. What does having respect for the position of presidency mean?

If you notice, President Bush is extremely careful not to denigrate any former President, and is extremely gracious and complimentary when he meets with President Clinton. This is contrary to the actions of many other former Presidents who are quick to throw these men under the bus in order to rise their historical ranking.

Once retired, President Harry S. Truman refused to make money off of his prestigious title. While President Clinton is making millions off book sales and speaking engagements, Truman refused either. President Bush recently stated his inclination to go on a similar speaking tour once he retires; the only problem might be getting the gigs.

Or does respect mean being careful not to abuse Presidential power? Well, we haven't had one of those in a while.

So, it comes down to which of these characteristics of respect do YOU respect the most?

October 26, 2007

Stem Cell Sacrifice


Have you ever heard the argument that even if you do consider an unborn child to be human life, that the research done through harvesting these stem cells makes destruction worth it, because of all the diseases that could be cured through this research?

So, why aren't these proponents willingly donating their own bodies for this cause as well? Plus, they can offer blood, working organs, etc. Seems to me like a no-brainer by that logic.

October 25, 2007

Ignorance Beats Foolishness


I think ignorance gets a bad rap.

You don't know where Toronto is? You're ignorant. You don't how a carburetor works? You're ignorant.

But, we're all ignorant before someone teaches us these things. The idea of "common knowledge" that everyone should know is kind of preposterous. If someone is intelligent and open to learning, I'll take them ignorant over someone who knows what S.A.R.S. stands for and thinks they have everything figured out.

Intelligence without wisdom is worthless.

October 24, 2007

While We're On Columbus


Many credit Columbus for being the first to discover America (cough, Leif Erikson), and many also credit Columbus for being the first person to think the world was round. But, all of those smart toga guys in Ancient Greece had known the Earth was round for well over 1000 years before him. In fact, they taught it in their schools. So, why wasn't this universal knowledge by 1492?

What knowledge might people still ignore 1000 years from now that you can't believe isn't widely understood today?

October 23, 2007

Columbus Day


This holiday was recently "celebrated" in this country, recognizing the date on which Christopher Columbus discovered "America". Someone in my office brought in cookies that day. And someone else responded with a witty comment of how he didn't believe in eating cookies on "Indigenous People's Day". When I say witty, I mean that one other person encouraged this comment and began ridiculing Columbus, while the rest of us awkwardly managed silence.

I don't contend that we should overlook any acts of violence occurred through colonization. But, to be consistent with a Columbus hatred, we must also detest every land discovery ever made and label it as intrusion onto other's property, whether these others include people, animals or wildlife.

And I'm ok with that opinion. At least it's consistent.

October 22, 2007

Losers are Necessary


So, I commission a fantasy football league every year. I've done pretty well in the past, but am experiencing my first year of "horrendousness". And it's fairly discouraging. I feel like it reflects poorly both on my status as a sports fan as well as a man.

But, you know how when you're a kid, your mother used to let you win at board/card games so that you'd enjoy it?

So, can't I feel good about the fact that my poor performance is making some of my friends feel better about themselves.

I mean, I'm arrogant enough where I can take pride in something else pretty easily. So they can have football...this year.

October 19, 2007

If the Universe was Infinite


If the universe has been ever-expanding since it's conception, then by definition, it must be finite, correct?

But, IF the universal was eternal (which modern physics has declared is impossible since they have found a beginning "bang"), then an infinite universe could technically be possible. And IF the universe was infinite, then wouldn't that necessitate, by definition, other human-inhabited planets?

People call Earth the "Privileged Planet" because of the specific temperatures, molecular compounds, gravity, pressures, magnetism etc. that with such great fragility makes life possible.

But if the universe was truly infinite, even if the odds of an alternative "Earth" were 1-whatever quintillion^quintillion they say it is, infinity would beat those odds out.

But since it seems that the universe is still expanding and yet finite, it is quite probable that we are alone...besides from whoever started that bang.

October 18, 2007

You're Just Normal Crazy


So, if I claim to communicate with an invisible God, why don't they lock me up?

Is it because that's a common form of craziness? Is something only lock-up worthy if they believe in something that no one else believes in? Or does my belief have to physically threaten myself or those around me before they call me crazy?

October 17, 2007

Silly String Theory


I've been getting into laymans physics a little bit lately and learning about string theory. String theory is a theory intended to unify quantum theory with the natural forces of gravity, etc. into one consistent theory that explains just about EVERYTHING in terms of physics, the universe and the natural world.

However, our limited knowledge makes a theory like this incredibly hard to prove scientifically. So, while we're waiting, I propose a Silly String theory. Because how cool would science class be that day!

October 15, 2007

Hallmark's Missed Opportunity


They need a dysfunctional family section of greeting cards at Hallmark, containing cards with memorable poetry such as:

"Mom, you tried."