September 30, 2008

The Tipping Point: Part Nine


Let's tip garbage.

I don't mean tipping the cans over. I mean, is there a way to dramatically lower the amount of garbage that people throw away?

Right now, in most communities, there is no real limit on trash. You can fill up the dumpster in your apartment complex to the brim. Or bring as many bins down to the end of your driveway as you want. And it gets taken away by men and trucks paid for by taxpayer dollars.

But, what if you had to pay for precisely what you threw away? And because landfill use is probably best valued in terms of volume, let's say you'd pay "per cubic foot" or something like that.

You'd think about what you're discarding, recycling, buying and keeping a lot more carefully, wouldn't you?

Of course, this would likely lead to other problems. People storing mounds of garbage in their backyard, or dumping garbage in inappropriate places to avoid the fees. Frankly, this is probably why most communities handle garbage the way they do.

But, could there be another way? One that would cause us to think about what we're actually throwing away?

September 29, 2008

Collie Crack-Down


I've been seeing a lot of dogs lately riding in cars without seat belts.

Remember. Their medical injuries affect all of our vet bill costs.

The free ride's over, Lassie.

EDIT: Yes, this is satire.

September 26, 2008

Things That Stick With You


Isn't it funny? The moments in your life that stick with you so vividly?

I can remember every broken arm (four) and the lead-up to the disaster. I can remember the time where I stole a girl's cracker, and became terribly afraid of the consequences as she ran to tell on me.

I can remember self-sacrificing moments from both of my parents. Pretty much every part of my wedding day. And one moment from several years ago.

I was playing ultimate frisbee with some friends. I didn't have much experience at the time, and threw the frisbee quite off mark. Then, this guy looked at me and said, "Well, let's just chalk that up to yet another thing you're not any good at."

He laughed. I had a single second of anger and desire to defend myself well up within me. Then, the next was my bewildered reaction to that reaction.

Because I do desire to be better than everybody at just about everything. And I do understand how silly and counter-productive that desire is.

I often wonder why we remember the things we remember. But I think, at least in this case, it's because I'm supposed to.

September 25, 2008

Name Your Price


What is the least amount of money you would accept to vote for the candidate you oppose winning the upcoming Presidential election?

Note: I understand that in many of your states, your vote is not likely to influence the election. The question is still the same.

September 24, 2008

Sub-par. Sub-human. Sub-urban.


Is the word "suburbs" meant to shame me?

As if I am something less than my urban friends. Because of my gas-guzzling commute. Because of my willing separation from the cultural mecca that is Chicago.

On the plus side, I get to record drums in my basement without violating noise permits, my wife has a vegetable garden in our backyard, and we have hundreds of miles of biking trails nearby.

I'll keep it.

September 23, 2008

Cake is Cake

"Wow, this cake is amazing."

No, it's not. It's cake. And perhaps frosting. By definition, this can't be the "greatest cake you've ever had" more than it can be the "worst cake you've ever had."

While it is very difficult to make a good cake (proportions, temperature and timing have to all be perfect), the result is only one of two options. Moist or dry. Good or bad.

The simplicity of the ingredients make it impossible for cake to achieve the status of greatness. It's cake or it's crap.

(note: this post stems from Emily's comment yesterday. Just goes to show you, your suggestions are welcome here.)

September 22, 2008

Yea or Nay


Should Congress vote with the collective interests of the people in mind, or the individual freedoms of the people in mind?

September 19, 2008

Surival of the Fastest


Do you realize that the very fastest and strongest out of the millions of sperm competing for a place in that egg was the beginning of you?

Therefore, by default, you're already the pick of the litter. Well done.

September 18, 2008

Dalai Lama vs. Dr. Phil
















It's a draw.


I just finished reading, "The Art of Happiness", by the Dalai Lama. It consisted of basic wisdom, and promoted methods for positive thinking. While I found this information to be extremely profitable, I also think that most of these ideas could be attained by watching a couple episodes of Dr. Phil.

Perhaps classifying Buddhism as a philosophy rather than a religion might be more appropriate?

Because the tenents presented aim to help people better live their lives. But, as far as answering the bigger questions that many people have, it doesn't seem like it tries. Which is fine. But, it's not apples to apples with Christianity, Judaism or Islam, which claim to explain the role and relationship between Creator and creation. Which if there is one, would heavily influence the Dalai Lama's philosophy.

September 17, 2008

We Don't Need No Water


"Thanks to your help, we were able to get bottled water vending machines banned from school campuses across the nation!"

This was the beginning line of an in-show commercial during "The Biggest Loser" last night, and completely startled me. We were then reminded how bad these plastic bottles are bad for the environment.

I remember when I was in high school, there was an initiative to get soda machines out of schools, and replace them with bottled water. So, now that the bottled water machines are gone, are we going back to cans of coke, or just refraining from beverages as a whole?

September 16, 2008

Why Every President Sucked


(a continuation)

#11. James Polk

With the border region of Mexico and the United States in dispute, James Polk initially set out to achieve diplomatic reconciliation. But when Mexico declined his initial buy-out offer, Polk deemed Mexican presence in this disputed region enough to declare war. Over time, U.S. military strength caused Mexico to concede and accept financial terms less than originally offered. While this resulted in a substantial increase of American land, it also enraged a neighboring country where resentment of this action still lingers today.

September 15, 2008

I Will Make Things Better


When a candidate says they plan on "making tuition more affordable", does this just mean they plan on paying for part of it, or that they actually plan on establishing a competitive schooling market that would, by nature, decrease costs?

September 12, 2008

It's Election Time


"and you haven't been talking about the candidates."

Not specifically. But, I believe what we're doing here is more valuable. By thinking through broader topics, we come to this discussion table with less baggage and are better learning how to reason - so that when we hear the candidates make their arguments, we'll be able to make better judgments.

That being said, for those of you interested in the fascinating political match up that's taking place this year, there are two sets of interviews that I highly recommend. Interviews that force the candidates to go beyond the practiced answer, so that we can try and learn and empathize what the candidate truly believes in.

1) The Saddleback Civil Forum Interviews of both candidates by pastor and author, Rick Warren.

In these lengthy interviews of both candidates, the questions focus on each candidate's philosophy and worldview more than specific policy matters. Absolutely fascinating.

2) Obama's appearance on the O'Reilly Factor (Part 1 of 4 linked here)

O'Reilly angrily presses Obama to offer specifics on his soundbyte proposals, and we get them. I would love to see a McCain interview handled in this same way. Unfortunately, the first person that comes to mind is the late Tim Russert.

September 11, 2008

Why is Abortion a Religious Issue?


It's a biological question.
The question is: when does a child obtain human rights?

It seems as though a majority of theists believe that life, and therefore, human rights, begin at conception. And that the majority of non-theists believe that this point comes later, for example, when the child is able to achieve viability outside the womb.

Religion or lack, thereof, is obviously influencing our answers to this biological question.

Why is this?

September 10, 2008

Challenge for the Week:


For the next week, enter conversations trying to learn rather than trying to win.

What the other person believes. And why they believe it. Feel free to question the logic, but for the sake of your understanding.

Report back with your findings.

September 09, 2008

Liberty or Justice for All?


It seems as though a lot of political issues boil down to these two arguments.

One, the argument of liberty. Stating that people are free to pursue their own happiness as long as that pursuit does not harm anyone else, and that the government has no constitutional authority to be involved.

Second, the argument of justice. That the consequences of this government inaction would create injustice.

Are we playing with poor definitions here, or is there an inherent dilemma between these powerful words?

September 08, 2008

Mandatory Service


Is mandatory service today the best way to encourage willing service tomorrow?

Legislation has been proposed that would force high school students to participate in a set number of hours of community service per year. Not just to make it into the National Honors Society, or for a better chance to make the college of their choice. But, simply to graduate from high school.

There would be much good that would come from this, specifically the tremendous amount of community service that would get done from this new market of forced labor.

Willing service would obviously be a much more beautiful picture. True love offered without coercion. But, until that happens, should we force it, in hopes that seeing the need would spur willing action post- high school?

September 04, 2008

Elite vs. Elitist


Let's clear it up.

Elite means you are first-in-class, leader of the pack, pick of the litter.

An Elitist is one who assumes this superiority and presents themselves outwardly as an elite.

September 03, 2008

Lead is Bad


Toys that contain lead or phthalates can be harmful to children. So, the U.S. recently signed into law legislation that prohibits both, the strictest ban in the world.

This has been universally heralded as a positive. Kids are safer. Parents don't have to worry. No consumer wanted lead in the toys.

I still question why legislation was needed. Why couldn't a lead-free toymaker advertise "Lead-Free" on their box, spurring consumer awareness, and therefore, market competition.

Is the real problem lack of legislation or consumer education?

I know what you're thinking. What's the big deal? Lead was bad, and now it's gone. Same result.

You're right. But, with this logic, it makes no sense for a lot of other things to be legal, either. And maybe we'll still want the choice for some of them.

September 02, 2008

Stop Fake Laughing


It helps no one.