January 31, 2008
When establishing our current system of government, John Adams, our second President, was outspoken about creating a clear separation of powers through the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. Many of his contemporaries thought this was unnecessarily complex, but Adams was adamant that a particular party should not have control over all of the branches at once, legislating their will freely over the American people.
His idea meant that for any piece of legislation to pass, it would have to be legislation that both parties could agree upon. And if they couldn't, then the legislation didn't deserve to pass.
Oh how far we have come, when we hear people crying out for either party to take full control over the system so we can at least "get stuff done" and make some "progress." My question is, to where are we "progressing"?
Posted by Eric Olsen at 11:54 AM
January 30, 2008
When I was in high school, I attended a Dave Matthews concert at Soldier Field. It was a "spiritual" experience for me. The beauty in the music - the shared purpose of 40,000 people. My heart became noticeably full, and I felt privileged to be there that night.
Since then, I have experienced God moments, both alone, and through a corporate setting like a church, that have profoundly trumped that concert experience. But, the physical feeling was fairly similar.
So, I finally think I can understand the enthusiasm witnessed at these political rallies I see on television. To me, the rhetoric and audience repetition is condescending. But, now I realize, this is simply liturgy for the unchurched.
Just as I attended church while listening to Dave Matthews sing #41, hearing some of these candidates talk passionately about how together, we're going to change the world, is the closest many of these people have ever come to a true God experience.
But for those who have experienced both, it's not even close.
An Obama rally may be our generation's new Dave Matthews concert. But it's not church. He's a man, not your Savior.
Posted by Eric Olsen at 8:25 AM
January 29, 2008
#7. Andrew Jackson
Jackson popularized what is now a common practice of dismissing federal employees and replacing them with personal supporters. Today, this practice is known as the "Spoils System", taken from the maxim, "To the victor belong the spoils." While this practice did occur pre-Jackson, his approach of abrupt dismissals without regard to job performance set a dangerous precedent that continues to destabilize the federal government to this day by haphazardly replacing competence with the lack thereof.
January 28, 2008
Heath Ledger died naked on the floor of his New York apartment, drug-filled and drug paraphenelia-surrounded. If he had died on set while doing a stunt, despite his drug history, his death would be perceived in a much more heroic light.
So, what do you currently do that you wouldn't want to die doing? Because whatever it is, that activity will claim your legacy. Even if it's the only time you've ever wrestled a goat, your family will forever be left defending their goat-wrestling child.
January 25, 2008
I went indoor rock climbing yesterday. I'm scared of heights. It was terrifying. But, since I did it with guys from work, I forced myself to get to the top mostly because my fear of humiliation outweighed my fear of heights.
Similarly, it's been very cold lately in Chicago. Some days I whine when I walk outside. The next day it could be the exact same temperature, and I'm fine.
So, obviously, my mental state has a large control over my emotions and behavior.
And my question is, how do I conquer these things? Force myself to climb up a mountain? Sit outside in the cold?
How do I get control over my mind?
Posted by Eric Olsen at 1:49 PM
January 24, 2008
I wake up tired every morning. I'm tired at work. I usually wake up a little during lunch. Then, I'm really tired in the afternoon. Then, I'm awake for dinner, and am tired again until it's time for bed.
I probably get an average amount of sleep compared to most Americans. And yet I spend most of my life tired.
Is this normal? natural? a recent historical trend?
It just doesn't seem right. Or should I just compare it to eating? Where I'm always hungry. But, it's a controllable hunger.
Posted by Eric Olsen at 1:38 PM
January 23, 2008
So, I've been watching the American Idol auditions. And I was ok when I thought that there were just a few crazy people running around out there. But, now, there are getting to be too many.
Too many people come on that show, confident of an incredible gift invisible to everyone else but them, and horribly dissapointed when the judges don't see it. You can see their mind just freeze when they learn that their talents aren't universally admired. And they leave thinking they must just have picked the wrong song or that the judges are idiots.
And I am finding that there are too many of these people suffering from delusion to make me believe it's limited to a few random "psychos".
So, what are each of us delusional about? What are you convinced of about yourself that if the whole world told you no, you'd be convinced that, against all statistical odds, everyone else was simply crazy?
Posted by Eric Olsen at 7:35 AM
January 22, 2008
Yesterday's post created some interesting comments that have further provoked my initial curiosity.
This reason for drinking was given by two separate respondents: "I'm stressed and want to relax".
Is alcohol the only stress-relieving drug in this country that's widely socially acceptable?
What would it take for social and moderate huffing to become acceptable? Prescription painkillers? Marijuana?
Perhaps the effects of drinking are subtler than these examples. Perhaps drinking has a longer history. But perhaps, it shares this lone spot simply because it's legal. When we declare something legal, we create an acceptance as well as an expectation. Therefore, this activity can not be wrong. After all, it is legal.
Posted by Eric Olsen at 11:53 AM
January 21, 2008
January 18, 2008
Quite often, when I'm about to prepare myself a meal, I think to myself, "Wait, did I already have lunch?"
Yes, my memory is that bad. But, whenever I'm not sure, I default with not eating. Because I'd rather go hungry than be the guy who ate double lunches.
So, if you can trick yourself into forgetting...hello swimsuit season.
Posted by Eric Olsen at 10:08 AM
January 17, 2008
How much does your geography, location, and circle of relationships shape your identity? The more you are surrounded by homogeny, the less likely you are to be able to see the validity in an alternative opinion.
But, if someone from a certain political persuasion moves across the country and has to make all new friends, most of whom have the opposite political identity, they may be forced for the first time to really understand the logic behind the other side.
So, the question is, are you what you are because it really makes the most sense to you? Or are you what you are because you haven't put yourself in a place to hear a reasonable alternative yet?
No matter what you are, hopefully this place helps a little.
January 16, 2008
How much of what people currently believe the role of the government should be is based on a faulty sense of economics?
For example, I have a friend who will admit that raising the minimum wage will likely raise unemployment as well. It's a simply economic principle. But, his contention is that it is still worth it.
I can appreciate that viewpoint even though I disagree with it, because it's honest. It's the people who say we can raise the minimum wage, and everyone will make more money with no consequences that drive me crazy.
Why are most economists conservative? Are they all inherently greedy? Or are they simply more aware of the effects of fiscal policy?
Posted by Eric Olsen at 8:29 AM
January 15, 2008
January 14, 2008
Let's say I'm an A.P. writer over in Baghdad. I come across a town where violence has gone down and become "relatively" stable over the last six months. But, I don't want to write about it, because I don't want to encourage what I believe is a terrible situation due to everything else that I see poorly going around the country. So, I write about a car-bomb instead.
The car bomb actually happened. I am reporting the truth. It will sell more papers. Is this bias?
I am a reporter working for Obama's campaign asked to follow Hilary around. I witness her having heart-to-heart talks with a lot of the local people in the town. But I don't want to write about that, since I am confident that Obama would be a better President. So, instead I write about how Hilary tripped down the stairs.
The tripping actually happened. I am reporting the truth. It will sell more papers. Is this bias?
Posted by Eric Olsen at 10:13 AM
January 11, 2008
...is about the most foolish thing anyone could ever say. I understand the idea that you learned things from your mistakes you may not have learned had you not made them. But, at the end of every day, I regret a lot of things from that day alone. Things I said that I shouldn't have said. Things I wish I had done that I didn't do.
Falling back on this bizarre idea that whatever ended up happening was supposed to happen, is ridiculous.
Everyone screws up all of the time. And there are consequences for these actions. God is gracious, and quick to forgive. But, the regret should remain. For the crime itself, and what was lost because of it.
Posted by Eric Olsen at 10:24 AM
January 10, 2008
The only way to win this popular family game: completely bankrupt all of your friends and loved ones.
Also, you get paid more if you own every property on the block. So, this game inherently teaches that wealth is created through a lack of competition.
Does my favorite childhood game along with Robin Hood and Captain Planet belong in my unwitting propaganda collection?
Posted by Eric Olsen at 10:19 AM
January 09, 2008
Whether you're in an office building, a grocery store or walking down the sidewalk, when going against traffic, take the right side. It's pretty easy to remember. Pretend your body is a car, and think what a psycho you'd be to speed down the other side of the road against traffic.
Well, it's just as disconcerting off the roads.
A Public Service Announcement from your Local Friends who don't like getting bumped by your shoulder or your grocery cart.
Posted by Eric Olsen at 5:46 AM
January 08, 2008
What would you say the most popular day to give up smoking is?
Probably New Years Day, right. A resolution of health, perhaps, that usually lasts 'til they go to the bar and get a second-hand whiff of that sweet tobacco mist.
Problem solved. It is now illegal to smoke in any public place in Illinois. Also, by public place, they mean any private business, too.
And while I am a non-smoker against the ban for reasons of liberty and other insights previously discussed here, I have to give the state government credit for choosing January 1st as the ban date. They knew that people would see it as a good reason to try and quit.
Posted by Eric Olsen at 11:29 AM
January 07, 2008
If Hilary gets the nomination, and loses the general, Democrats will just say "oh, she's not well liked." That isn't an excuse for Barack though. If he gets the nomination, and loses the general, Democrats would have to consider the idea that their ideas are simply not winning over the majority of the land.
Perhaps a more likely scenario, Barack getting the nomination and winning the general, would mean that conservatives would actually have to regroup and agree on what the party is all about.
Again, this is assuming rational thinking, which is always a big mistake.
Whoever wins, the loser and the respective party will likely blame the results on something other than themselves or their beliefs.
Posted by Eric Olsen at 1:32 PM
January 04, 2008
All it takes to win the Iowa Primary as a Republican is saying you love Jesus... apparently.
Mike Huckabee was the only Republican candidate who clearly and constantly embraced his Christian faith. And although he is in real terms, the LEAST fiscally conservative candidate running for the Republicans by a mile, he slides in with an easy victory.
I'm more confused than ever.
January 03, 2008
Who decided on the color-coding for red states and blue states?
Universally, red tends to be the political color used to represent Labor/Socialist parties where blue tends to represent Conservative/Right-Wingers. You'll find this trend to be globally consistent... except for in America. As I researched this, I found out that only in 2000 was this switch made. There was no real consistency in the prior elections, and as recently as 1984, Reagan's landslide victory was painted in a "sea of blue" on a popular NBC map.
I haven't been able to find out who made the change (readers?), but it was likely a media decision, and frankly, it's pretty brilliant for the Democrats.
In terms of psychology, people like blue more than red. But, isn't it just a bit confusing to go against the global politically symbolism of these colors?
And I understand that Democrats would be apprehensive aligning themselves with a traditional color used to represent Communism, but it makes at least a LITTLE more sense logically, no?
Posted by Eric Olsen at 7:52 AM
January 02, 2008
So, every year, our company has awards at our Christmas party. Arrogantly, I figured I was a lock for at least the semi-finals for the "best humor" award... didn't even come close.
So, our Creative Department, a smaller group than the full company, had a separate award ceremony. In this group, I won "most sarcastic".
Here's the question: Is my generation's Simpsons/Seinfeld dry wit merely scene as "sarcasm" to the masses, and not genuine humor?
Or am I just smarter than everyone else, and that's why no one gets me?
C'mon, lucky number 2!
Posted by Eric Olsen at 11:11 AM