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.