January 30, 2009

Welcome to the 20th Century


Do you think that in 1902, someone made a comment that showed his age, and someone else retorted with "Welcome to the 20th Century, George"?

Or did it take 80 years for that joke to catch on like I see in Hollywood movies. Because frankly, the former would have been much more impressive, not to mention timelier.

January 29, 2009

BetAgainstYou.com


There's a lot of idiots out there investing in the stock market. And here's the typical business model. You have these online brokerage houses, etrade.com, etc. who charge a flat $8 or so per transaction. That's how they make their money.

Here's my idea. BetAgainstYou.com.

No transaction charges. Invest for free. But, here's the thing. I'm not really investing your money in the stocks that you want. It's almost like a fantasy stock market. I give you credit for getting in and out when you want, and I am liable to pay you for your earnings based on your actual performance as if you did own them. However, I know I'm smarter than you. I'm not basing my investments on short-term hope, but on long-term financial performance. And I'm using your money to invest in real winners.

Pretend we could get around the liability, and this was a big enough company where they were good for the money.

The competitive spirit behind the idea. All these people who want to prove that they can beat the "experts". Free transaction costs.

What do you think?

January 28, 2009

Group-Sing


Have you ever been in a stadium setting where you have thousands of people singing, and it sounds pretty good?

How is this possible?

Most of these people aren't good, and yet the whole is much greater than the average of all its parts.

There's something profound here. I just can't find it. Help.

January 27, 2009

Why Every President Sucks


(a continuation)

#13. Millard Fillmore

Always the political pragmatist, Millard Fillmore took office after the death of his predecessor, Zachary Taylor, and quickly ushered in the Compromise of 1850. While the goal of the act was to settle the slave controversy, the Fugitive Slave Act contained in the bill which provided the federal government with legal claim to send freed slaves back to their Southern masters, did nothing of the sort and only stoked flames on the fire of secession.

January 26, 2009

Dream Sequences are a Cop-out


Unless the viewer is aware that they are witnessing a dream sequence ahead of time, it's just pointless trickery.

Please abandon the dream sequence, Hollywood!

Now, you know what's coming. This is where you give me an example of a successful dream sequence to prove me wrong...Steve?

January 23, 2009

Bad News and Good News


I was recently laid off.

Marketing is not the safest job to have during these down economic times. And I paid the price for having it.

I was laid off during my two week study of "faith" on the blog. You can decide for yourself whether that was a sovereign act or simply sleigh track logic that makes me see it as more than mere coincidence.

A couple weeks later, after getting some perspective, I am excited about the future. Especially for news I just found out today!

My sister-in-law is finishing up her last semester of graphic design school and has decided, for her senior project, to create my book idea, "Why Every President Sucked: America's Endless Pursuit for a Divine Man."

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you are probably aware of this series in progress. So, thanks to her, this project will become a fully-designed coffee table book soon, and I am excited about what possibilities that might produce.

While it is often hard to see the light in the storm, I reach out anyway.

January 22, 2009

"A Cry For Help"


I don't think that term ever really applies when people give it out as the reason for an unsuccessful suicide.

I think the truth is more likely that the person hates life, but they're still afraid of dying.

January 21, 2009

Prejudice


Let's say the first car you ever owned was a Ford Taurus.

And you hated it. It broke down all the time and caused you all sorts of problems. To the point where you have since sworn off Ford for life. You'll never buy one again.

Based on one car.

Now, what if when you're young, you get beaten up by a black kid...

January 20, 2009

Jello Pudding


Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed it.

But, The Cosby Show made today possible.

I'm serious.

January 19, 2009

In This Recession...


...I don't get how those cloud-making factories are going to survive. I mean, seriously, even in a good market, who's paying for those?

January 16, 2009

How to Believe: Part Five


Over these two weeks, our hope is to overcome Sleigh Track Logic, sorting through all of the things that make sense and determine what makes the most sense.

Seek.

During the presidential elections, everyone at least tries to learn a little about what the candidates believe. Why don't we do that for this?

Whether you're interested in philosophy, science, politics or living a better life, we need to study these things. Because they're all dependent on what we believe about "what are we doing here".

So, what better use of your time than trying to figure it out?

January 15, 2009

How to Believe: Part Four


Over these two weeks, our hope is to overcome Sleigh Track Logic, sorting through all of the things that make sense and determine what makes the most sense.

Taking our advice from last week, let's fast track this conversation to the big question here. Is there any evidence for the resurrection of Christ?

There are several stories of prominent atheists who had decided to get to the bottom of the issue for themselves, weighing all of the evidence and seeing where they came out. There are many who admit to coming to belief after their investigation. And I am sure that there are others who have not come to that conclusion. That's the thing about evidence. Unless you actually saw it take place, it can be easy to dismiss even the most overwhelming of it. And it's easy to make it point to wherever you want it to point. But, this should not stop our desire for objectivity.

Personally, I find the evidence mentioned in former atheist Lee Strobel's popular book, The Case for Christ overwhelming. I've also had friends who have read it and didn't find it convincing at all. But perhaps, if nothing else, the reasoning for their unbelief was forced to change. Getting us past the "I don't know and I'm ok with it" stage. Which is simply unacceptable.

Because if this event took place, it changes everything.

January 14, 2009

How to Believe: Part Three


Over these two weeks, our hope is to overcome Sleigh Track Logic, sorting through all of the things that make sense and determine what makes the most sense.

There are some philosophers who have come to belief after a personal discovery of what many call the "moral law." There is a story of one philosopher who came across this concept one day after someone stole his wallet. In the classroom, he claimed an earnest belief that there was no absolute right and wrong. Yet, even with this belief, he felt violated when he was robbed.

Why do we all have such a big overlapping view of good and bad if we are simply making it up ourselves? Despite subtle social and cultural differences, and the occasional oddity, most people around the world believe both that they ought to believe in a certain way, and also that they don't.

Now, this is not to be confused with mere instinct in which you choose actions due to self-preservation or for helping the herd. But, rather, when you are put in a situation in which helping the herd comes at the cost of your self-preservation, there is something above this level of instinct, willing you to choose the former.

January 13, 2009

How to Believe: Part Two


Over these two weeks, our hope is to overcome Sleigh Track Logic, sorting through all of the things that make sense and determine what makes the most sense.

Some people have experiences they can not explain, that they attribute to the supernatural. Now, we obviously have to be careful about this, but I am merely stating that this is one of the reasons people come to faith.

Years ago, my mother was in the Grand Cayman Islands accompanying my father on a business trip/vacation. She decided to go snorkeling and was simply amazed at the beauty she saw. So much so, that after an hour of swimming with flippers, she poked her head out of the water and realized she had no idea which way the coast was. She was so far out that she could no longer see any land. Immediately she began to panic. And just then a surfer came by, paddling on his board and asked her if she was ok. She explained the situation, and he told her not to worry and he swam back to shore with her. After a while, they reached the beach together. Exhausted and grateful, my mother turned to thank him once again, and he was gone.

She doesn't know how to explain it. So, she attributes it to an angel, because that's the term that pops into our heads when we hear of stories like that. But, whatever it is, she is convinced she had a supernatural experience. And that has helped her to believe.

January 12, 2009

How to Believe: Part One


Over these two weeks, our hope is to overcome Sleigh Track Logic, sorting through all of the things that make sense and determine what makes the most sense.

When I was growing up, I became convinced that the Bible was magic. My parents were believers, and therefore, I was by default, but I really didn't concern myself too much with those things.

But, whenever I was angry, or wanted advice on something, I opened up that 1400 pg book, always to a random page as a test, and without fail, there was advice that helped.

As a child, I just thought that's how God worked.

Today, if I wanted to do the same thing, I'd be conscious of where I was opening, knowing that if I crack open the Bible towards the middle, I can probably hit a Psalm that's generic enough to give me guidance.

But, as a child, it happened enough to convince me that there was something supernatural about that book. That was my first God moment that led me to desire others.

January 09, 2009

What Are We Doing Here? Part Five


Over these two weeks, our hope is to overcome Sleigh Track Logic, sorting through all of the things that make sense, and determine what makes the most sense.

"I don't believe Noah could have built an ark the size of a football field."


"I don't believe that a man could get swallowed by a whale and survive."


These are just a couple of common hang-ups that people have with the stories recorded in the Bible. And while you can try to convince someone that if Noah worked really hard, or had his sons help, etc... maybe the person will be able to get over that hold up and move on to their next one.

But let's fast-track the conversation to the big one, no matter if you're asking the questions or trying to answer them. Christianity not only believes Noah built a giant ark, but that a man died, and after three days, came back to life. Now, that's ridiculous. But if you can convince me it's true, then, all of a sudden, miracles are possible. And the other hold-ups almost seem trivial by comparison.

Next week, we're going to talk about the different ways people come to faith.

January 08, 2009

What Are We Doing Here? Part Four


Over these two weeks, our hope is to overcome Sleigh Track Logic, sorting through all of the things that make sense, and determine what makes the most sense.

There's a common argument that says that God has been created and designed by man to help us make sense of things like death and loneliness which are hard to understand. Now, I definitely think this occurs - people who like the idea of God, and pick and choose things they've heard about him that they like, and assign those attributes alone to him.

However, this can't explain every religion, can it? For instance, why would we create a religion like Christianity that teaches us that we are inherent wretches? Incapable of attaining salvation through our own merits? That we suck apart from him? Why would I create that club if I was doing it simply to reassure myself?

January 07, 2009

What Are We Doing Here? Part Three


Over these two weeks, our hope is to overcome Sleigh Track Logic, sorting through all of the things that make sense and determine what makes the most sense.

Physical pleasure doesn't seem to be enough. That is why we search for God; for love. And whether or not we find either, sometimes we turn to drugs within the same search. For an intense cerebral pleasure. For relief.

That is why a person swept up in a time of worship might cry out, "I have God, and nothing else matters." While a person swept up in a chemical high might feel a similar apathy to their surroundings.

It seems as if we naturally long for something that doesn't seem all that easy to attain.

January 06, 2009

What Are We Doing Here? Part Two


Over these two weeks, our hope is to overcome Sleigh Track Logic, sorting through all of the things that make sense and determine what makes the most sense.

I saw a video once where some guy on the street asked people A) if they believed in Heaven, and B) to describe what it's like. It was really funny to hear each person's unique answers to these questions, and wonder where they developed this imagery that they verbalized.

Then the guy asked each person if they believed they'd go to heaven when they died, and why. These explanations were even more bizarre. Each person tended to have unique rules for entry, and coincidentally, most seemed to make their own cut. The typical rationale consisted of some sort of ethical comparison between themselves and other people. As if somehow, the actions of others would slide the grading scale of heaven in their favor.

So, my question is A) Do you believe you're going to heaven? and B) Do you have any compelling reason to believe it?

January 05, 2009

What Are We Doing Here? Part One


Over these two weeks, our hope is to overcome Sleigh Track Logic, sorting through all of the things that make sense and determine what makes the most sense.

Richard Dawkins, one of the most prominent voices in the atheist movement has written a very popular book called "The God Delusion", in which Dawkins aims to prove how the world we see today could be created through naturalistic means.

These naturalistic explanations are very compelling, fleshing out Darwin's theory based on the newest science available to us.

But, this only takes us to a point. The point in which everything came out of nothing.

In a recent interview of Dawkins, the journalist didn't try to make the mistake of picking apart Dawkins' science from a completely uninformed perspective, but instead asked where this first "life" came from that naturally replicated and evolved over time into the world we see today? Dawkins could not answer, because it is not something that science can tell us, at least not yet.

The origin of species does not explain the origin of life itself.

January 02, 2009

Sleigh Track Logic


Recently, I was looking for a new word. And I think I found it.

Frequent contributor Emily recently told me a story about her 7-year old cousin, whose parents go out of the way to make the "magic" of Santa Claus extra special for her. More than just taking the bite out of the cookie she leaves out for him, her parents actually create indentations in the front yard, and claim the next morning that they are tracks from Santa's sleigh.

This girl is going to believe in Santa Claus for the rest of her life.

Think about it. We believe in lots of things with WAY less evidence than that. Her faith in Santa Claus makes sense. Until you start asking questions.

So, that is what we are going to do.

Every year around this time, we often examine our lives. Self-reflect. Determine if we like the way we're living and chart a new course of action for the year, promising to change the things we do not.

And in order to effectively do that, I think we need to start asking questions. Specifically, the big question that scientists and philosophers alike always come back to. The question to which our answer impacts everything else we do. So, we are going to dedicate the next two weeks to this question, and determine how much of our lives are based on Sleigh Track Logic.

What are we doing here?