December 31, 2010

My Perpetual Prayer for the New Year

Lord, help me to love people. For I hate them so much.

December 29, 2010

That Kind of Thing May Fly in California

After yet another guffaw from a family member around the Christmas table this year, my wife leaned over to me and whispered, "Well, on the plus side, you always get great blog material here."

She's right.

Specifically, what I got with that exchange was wonderful insight into what the average apathetic churchgoer thinks about the church.

"So, our new Priest scheduled a congregational luncheon and assigned seats so we'd have to meet different people in the church. I don't know what he was thinking. That's not what a luncheon is for!"

"Umm, I think that's exactly what a luncheon is for."

"Well, it was just stupid. I mean, that stuff may fly in California (where the priest came from), but not here."

Of course. What was I thinking? What could community possibly have to do with the church?

December 28, 2010

Oahu, Lost and Shave Ice



A brief highlight film of our Winter escape from Chicago.

December 25, 2010

A Mistaken Missing of Materialism

As my family and friends asked me to develop a Christmas wishlist for this year, I had a hard time thinking of anything. For a fleeting moment, I thought I might be outgrowing materialism.

Then, I realized, it wasn't that at all. It's that I've already acquired everything I always wanted.

When I got a job and got married, I developed an idea of what I wanted. The things that would make a middle-class lifestyle more comfortable. And despite my interest in cutting-edge technology, my interest in economics has always prevented me from becoming an early adopter. This Christmas, we finally bought an HDTV. And now we have everything.

So, how soon until I develop a desire for the material items in the tax bracket above my own?

Until then, Merry Christmas.

December 22, 2010

Eyes See You

A research group did a behavioral economics study utilizing the snack room at a business office.

The office had no vending machines. So there was simply a container of snacks, a price sheet, and a deposit box. It was based on an honor system.

The research group did two tests with the price sheet. In both tests, the prices remained identical. The only difference was with the image included on the top of the sheet. In the first, a picture of flowers. In the second, a pair of eyes.

Ready for this? During the weeks that the picture of the eyes were displayed on the price sheet, the deposit box received 3 times as much money.

Surely these workers didn't believe the image could actually catch them in acts of dishonesty. So how did the eyes affect their behavior so much. Does it simply trick them into behaving as if they WERE being watched? Or is it a reminder that, if God exists, they always are?

December 21, 2010

Is There an Historical Jesus?

For those of you not aware, I started a new podcast this past year with my friend Dave "Vox" Mullen and Hollywood writer and producer, Quinton Peeples.

It's called Q.E.D. And each week, we investigate a topic regarding the psychological, supernatural, metaphysical and more. Research. Discuss. Debate. And stamp our (quod erat demonstradum, "thus completes the proof") at the end of every episode.

Basically, it's an audio version of this blog!

The podcast is really starting to pick up some steam and we just released our 12th episode, specifically timed for the season. If you haven't listened yet, I think this is a great gateway episode into seeing what the podcast is all about and if you should add it to your iTunes subscriptions. Either head on over to www.qedpodcast.com or listen to this episode directly.

Thanks! And Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2010

11 Things I Learned in Hawaii

1. Don't Bring Your Baby on a Plane
I had this idea a while ago. That some airline should come out with baby-free flights. Now that I experienced a red-eye flight with an entire row of babies, and the worst one of all was a 3-year old....in diapers, I think it's time for an airline to offer a 5 years and up rule for select flights.

2. Asian Stereotypes are Weirdly True
On our way to the hotel, our shuttle driver made an insulting stereotype about Japanese people that appalled us. Claiming that their social spatial bearings were terrible. He didn't receive a tip. After a week in Oahu, I think he's right. It's bizarre. We had an inordinate amount of experiences where people wouldn't follow typical social mores (getting out of one's path, etc.) Whether it has to do with coming from a more densely populated location, or the fact that I hate people, it was weird. But some sort of genetic social awkwardness might explain the lack of Asians in American professional sports. Although, their flattering body mass index might explain that as well.

3. Asians are Short
The shower in our hotel was built precisely for my 5'3" wife. I felt like a giant.

4. I Love Asians
After all my comments about how much I loved the Asian people we were meeting on our trip, my wife suggested it was because their size didn't allow them to intimidate me...I think she's right. Still trying to figure out the Freudian creep-show with that, but I think she's on to something.

5. Golf in Hawaii is Better Than Anyplace Else
I played at Luana Hills Country Club. And it felt like I was playing in Jurassic Park. You know why? Because that area is where they filmed Jurassic Park! Jungle golf is unreal.

6. Wailua Bay Beach is My Favorite Place in the World
Not much comes close. The water is turquoise. The beach is white and soft. And the crowds are on Waikiki. It's perfect.

7. Our "Continual Wedding Album" Continued in Oahu
Many of you made fun of this idea when we started it. But it's turned into one of my all time favorite things. You can view our Facebook album here.

8. Great Service is as Important as Great Food
We got the opportunity to eat at Allan Wong's, touted in Gourmet Magazine as their #8 best restaurant in the world. The food was lovely. But more impressive than that was the service. (We had never been in a fancy-schmancy restaurant like that before). The courtesy. The kindness. The staff coming to a halt when my wife stood up to find the bathroom. The way another staff member walked her there. It was perfect. And just as my 25% gratuity to our waiter seemed almost too low, I now feel that my typical 20% raise to the wait staff at Chili's is incredibly high for what you get out of it, which is simply your food brought to you.

9. Are You Sure You're a Doctor?
Someone got sick on both our to and return flights. Each time, a flight attendant asked over the loud speaker if there was a doctor on board. One lady jumped up, started walking back, and the flight attendant said, "Are you a doctor? A nurse?" She replied, "A physical therapist...well, uh, I have a doctorate." My wife, also a physical therapist, rolled her eyes and stayed seated. What did this lady think she was possibly going to be able to do in that situation? Fortunately, an RN was also on board, and our ambitious friend quickly returned to her seat.

10. Hawaii Makes You Hot
Within a week, my skin became baby smooth and my post-nasal drip was gone. An hour back in evil Chicago, and it all came back.

11. Hawaiians love that Hawaii 5-0 is Being Made
Every night, we heard ratings news about the new Hawaiian remake on the evening news.

We had a wonderful time!

December 17, 2010

Contact Lenses Too Big: Dreams Becoming Reality

When I was a child, my recurring dreams consisted of being late for class, not being able to remember my locker combination or being completely unprepared for a play or concert.

As an adult, I now only have one recurring dream. That my contact lenses are too big for my eyes. They've grown into the size of pancakes, and I try to shrink them but can't.

I have this dream often. And this morning, when I went to get a new pair of contact lenses, I opened up the left one, and the contact was too big for my eye. It turns out that contacts must be made like cookie-cutter cookies. Because the leftover dough from around the cut-out of the lens was still attached.

It was horrifying. Because I felt so awake. And yet, this was my dream-life. So, have these dreams all been leading up to today? Have I reached some sort of life milestone here? Or am I still dreaming?

December 16, 2010

We Are God's Muse

Thought discussion for the theists here:

I'm comfortable with the Trinitarian idea that in the beginning, there was the lover, the beloved and love itself (Father, Son, Spirit). A creative trifecta. Not passive. Not bored. Not lonely.

And that both the Earth and we ourselves are the creative output of that love. So, depending on how you view time, if we have inspired any of that creation, that would make us...

December 15, 2010

No Worthier Cause Than...The Hollywood Sign

Hugh Hefner recently saved the Hollywood sign from destruction, putting $1 million of his own money toward extending the public Griffith Park into the private land where the sign currently resides.

During the fundraising for this project, a California leader stated that, "If we can't save the Hollywood sign, what can we save?"

Well, specifically with Hefner's partial contribution, 10,000 Africans from malaria.

No, I'm not trying to be a jerk. I want the Hollywood sign up, too. I really do. It's awesome. I loved seeing it when I made my cross-country road trip to California during college. It was awesome. It was momentous.

But I want to be honest with myself here. Would I rather that sign be up than providing 10,000 Africans with malaria nets?

God, I hope not. And if I use this same economic logic with my own expenditures, I don't know what will happen. But, I have to start thinking that way. Because it's reality.

December 08, 2010

Musical Orgasms

For the next week, I will be on vacation in Cleveland*
* Name of actual location changed to prevent resentment

Here's a thought to tide you over until I return. I am beginning to think that music is nowhere close to its peak. Whereas food has nearly gotten there.

Until you've had a really exquisite gourmet meal or flavor combination, you might love food. But with that single bite of flavor orgasm, your life has been changed. Food is much more than food from now on. It has the potential to be magic.

And I don't think music has gotten there yet. I think music is simply great, but that we are too easily pleased.

I want to create musical orgasms. And I'm convinced it's possible. Watch out.

December 06, 2010

Truth Telling or Treason?

I've been respectfully following the work of Julian Assange's WikiLeaks for close to a year now.

When his recent mass release of state secrets this past week received worldwide interest, I was terribly disappointed to see the public accepting the Federal Government's call for Assange's deeds as "treason".

Are you kidding me? Someone exposes the deception and corruption and duplicity of U.S. foreign policy, and he's the traitor?

If you accept the Federal response to Assange's acts, I plead for you to start developing a healthier distrust in the Federal Government.

December 03, 2010

All Quarterbacks Should be Black

I think Michael Vick is the evolution of football.

Now, I'm not saying that a white guy can't do what Michael Vick does. I'm saying that based on sheer genetic odds, the racial demographic of quarterbacks in the NFL in 10 years will probably be 75% black.

Because the fastest man in the world will always be black. And teams are realizing the benefits of the fastest man on the football field being the quarterback.

December 02, 2010

Tempted to Go Cable-Less

I can buy a Roku XD device for a one-time fee of $79 to stream HD content to my TV.

If I buy a Hulu Plus subscription for $7.99 a month and a Netflix streaming-only subscription for $7.99 a month, my monthly bill will be like $60 less than it currently is, I gain access to TONS of content, and infinite movies, and I only lose ESPN. Is that about it?

December 01, 2010

What Can You Do A Lot Better Than Everyone?

Let's stay one more day on yesterday's topic. That children don't just need "college" to be assured of a great career anymore, but that they need a specialized skill-set.

I have a friend who doesn't like his job. He called me the other day to talk about his entrepreneurial ideas, knowing that I share my own. The two ideas he pitched to me were to start up either a:

1) Used Car Dealership
2) Breakfast Restaurant

With everything in my soul, I worked to dissuade him from both.

Here's the problem. Smart people like us think that we'd be good at anything. And we're mostly right. But being "good" isn't enough anymore. My friend is smart, talented and capable. But, that only takes you so far in a super-saturated marketplace overcrowded with failing breakfast restaurants and used car dealerships.

What makes a great (profitable) breakfast place? Either unbelievable food or unbelievable prices. Well, my friend is not a chef, and since food obviously isn't a passion for him, he's going to hate having to work so hard just trying to pay the bills. Maybe if he had some great idea to re-think breakfast altogether? But, coming way late to market in a town with slightly better service than your competitors? You don't have a chance.

Opening up a franchise is NOT a get rich quick scheme. Figuring out what you're better at than anyone else, or becoming great at something that NO one else is good at yet - now that's closer.

November 30, 2010

Expectations for College

My next question along the lines of "expectations" is in regards to college. And I'd like your help.

Because children are expected to go to college if they want to get a good job one day. So, in their minds, college = good job. Obviously, that's changing as the new economy breaks that reality. But, that idea was never real to begin with.

College does not = good job. Comparative advantage = good job. If you had a higher learning degree in the past, you were in a minority of the labor force more likely to do good work. But if one day, everyone has a college degree, who do you choose?

That's why the political promise of giving every kid a college education means nothing to me. Oh good, we have 2 million new English majors? That's going to help a lot.

Let's change the next generation's expectations of how you can have a great job growing up. I'm leaning toward the idea of "specialization" within a broader market, and being one of the best within it.

Because it's either being specialized, or being cheapest. And the second one sucks.

November 24, 2010

Expectations for Divorce

We touched on the idea of "expectations" nearly three years ago after I read the book, "It Takes a Family" by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Yeah, I know. You probably don't like the guy.

But, the book was incredibly thought provoking for me at the time - providing statistical evidence for the idea that children will become what they're expected to be. That idea continues to shape me. And I see evidence of it everywhere. For instance, yesterday, I sought out statistics to see if children of divorce parents have a greater likelihood of divorce.

They do. By 40%. Partially because of how their parent's experience has influenced their expectations of marriage.

More on expectations next time. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2010

Gate Raped by the TSA: News in Song



At the beginning of this year, I launched www.newsinsong.com. The idea for the site was to be a quick, aggregate news source for the ADD generation. Through one quick video/song each week, you'd be caught up with the big headlines from around the world - in a musically entertaining way.

It made more sense via description than it actually panned out. It was hard to create a single song while tying in 7 or more news stories each week - especially trying to do so in a humorous way. Not to mention it was incredibly laborious assembling the video clips. So the last few months, I've been trying something else. Take one news story. As it happens. And put together a quick song about it. Focusing on a single story lets me poke fun at it from a few different angles, while hopefully revealing some actual insights at the same time. Very similar to what I did for www.whyeverypresidentsucked.com.

This was yesterday's song. Let me know if you like this new approach. And if so, you can catch up and follow upcoming news story-songs at www.newsinsong.com.

November 22, 2010

I'm Not Going to Tell You About My Upcoming Vacation

You ever tell someone you're going on vacation, and they immediately respond with, "You deserve it."

It's not until they say that, that I start fearing I don't.

November 19, 2010

Cosmo's 30 Tips for Pleasing Your Man

I've never read a Cosmo magazine before. My only interaction with them is when standing in the line at the grocery store. But, their headlines have always confused me.

The idea of women being so fanatical about sexually pleasing their unsatisfied husbands that they need to learn 30 new tips a month to keep the spark alive just seemed incredulous to me?

But, then I wondered if I was assuming an incorrect demographic for this magazine's readership. And after looking it up, I was. Cosmo's biggest readership age (double any other group) was 18-24.

These are single women. Trying to get a guy. Under the delusion that by utilizing these 30 tips, they'll convince their boyfriend or date that they're worth the commitment.

November 18, 2010

Michael Vick: Future Poster Boy of Second Chances

Last year, Michael Vick was sitting in jail. And I rationalized it by telling my friends he was never that great of a quarterback anyway. Sure, he had unreal mobility and a killer arm, but he made really bad decisions on the field (and off, obviously).

I gave up on him. Today, he is on the cusp of becoming one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

My friend Justin and I have been talking about this lately. The idea of choosing who to get behind. This year, Justin is privileged to work in one of the best school districts in the nation. The kids are exceptional. And it makes him wonder if he's really needed there.

So, our discussion became...what's better? Teaching a kid to read who might not read otherwise, so that he can go to high school, get a good job, and have a family. Or mentoring the kids with the absolute best potential in the world, and turning guys who host dogfights for fun into an apparently redeemed man with matchless potential.

That's why there's more than one kind of person, I guess. I think Justin still feels that the better service opportunity for him is working with the underprivileged. And they need him.

I want to work with people who have disproportional expectations compared to their abilities. Think of how many Michael Vicks are probably in prison right now.

November 17, 2010

Mr. W by Epuron: The Best Commercial I've Seen in Years



This ad, created by German ad-agency, Nordpol Hamburg, is promotional art at its finest. To be fair, I had no absolutely no idea what was going on the first time I watched it. The second time, it's magical.

Physical humor works. Animals are easy. But, this? This is the stuff that's worth trying to create.

November 16, 2010

This is How You Debate

When in the course of human debate:

Don't assume authority. Don't get riled up. Be Socratic, and help them get there themselves. Also... be Jon Stewart.

These videos of Jon Stewart's interview by Rachel Maddow are absolutely must-sees. He has mastered the art of debate through conversation. You don't even see what he's doing. And yet, he wins every argument.

It's fascinating. And it can be learned. Thank you Jon Stewart for the reminder. Because too often, when I run into irrational people who won't follow logic, I give up diplomacy far too quickly and jump straight to condescension, which fails even more quickly. But, watching you has renewed my desire to win without fighting. Sun Tzu-style.

And yes, I would vote for you if you ran for President.

Watch the video clips.

November 15, 2010

How to Use Metaphors Appropriately

I was recently in an HR meeting, where local vendors pitched us discounted services based on our employer affiliation. And everyone in the room got to witness both effective and terrible uses of metaphors.

A pre-order pick-up grocery service called MyGofer, pitched us this way. "You try and squeeze in your weekly grocery shopping after church on Sunday. But your kids are being crazy. Your husband is mad because he's missing the start of the Bears game. And the cashier doesn't seem like she values your time nearly as much as you do..."

One lady in the room started laughing and said, "Are you following me around!?!"
A perfect metaphor.

The next pitch was from an insurance provider. The idea was that you may be paying too much for home insurance. Because some providers make you pay for what it would cost to rebuild your house from scratch, post-catastrophe. But this provider will only charge you for the current market value of your house.

This is a real benefit. But, here's how he pitched it.  "Let's say you own a $1,000,000 million mansion on a 20-acre estate. But, the house only takes up an acre of land..."

What? Now, to be fair, this is a metaphor. But, if no one in the room can relate to it, it's not a good one.

It's like when my allergist recently tried comparing my lung capacity to a carburetor. It may have been effective...if I understood how a carburetor worked.

November 12, 2010

Why High Speed Rail Doesn't Make Sense



I knew I didn't like high-speed rail. Because the idea of any new grandiose government-led initiative makes me uneasy. But now I know why. And this is one of the reasons why "Reason" is one of my most influential sources.

I Know Your Outgoing Voicemail Message

I know everything about you. I even know the message I'll hear if I get your voicemail right now.

Hi, this is "Your Name". I can't come to the phone right now, but if you leave your name, number and a brief message, I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you!

Aren't you impressed? So, the question is, why do we all still record this weird antiquated boilerplate? We need a new, abbreviated solution that still rings full of etiquette.

Any ideas?

November 10, 2010

Why I Think Like I Do

My overall goal for this blog is that it serves as your daily devotional for critical thought.

More than that, I hope that this blog and my twitter account serve as some sort of aggregate for you in terms of keeping you up to speed on politics, marketing, faith and technology - with as little effort as possible.

But if you're interested in delving deeper into the sources that most influence me, here you go.

My Magazine Subscriptions

The Week - a weekly aggregate of the best stories from all around the World. If you only have 30 minutes a week for news, this magazine will keep you up to conversational speed on everything that is going on in the world.
Reason - this is a monthly libertarian magazine that gets more in-depth about specific policy issues, but in a very entertaining way. If you lean toward small-government, this magazine will help you understand both the moral and Machiavellian reasons why you're right.
Fast Company - this is a new find for me. A fabulous monthly mag about the latest technology, entrepreneurship and how to use the former to successfully achieve the latter.

My Favorite Blogs

Now, I subscribe to more than 100 blogs. Not all of them update regularly of course. But, since you read this one, here are my two favorite I think you might want to consider adding to your RSS feed or Google Reader.

Scott Adams - This daily blog (written by the creator of Dilbert) is what I want my blog to be. His creative thoughts will inspire your own. His brilliant humor makes even his longer posts extraordinarily readable. I would vote for him if he ran for President.
Seth Godin - As a marketing titan, Seth understands online attention span better than anyone, and utilizes my own "couple paragraphs" a day preference for every post. If you're business-minded, his brief daily thoughts on management, entrepreneurship and technology is better than grad school.

Now, since you guys all know me pretty well by now, what "essentials" must I add to this list?

November 09, 2010

People Have No Idea What they Want

When British Airways introduced the mini-fridge on long international flights, they held focus groups to figure out how to best stock these cold goodie bins.

The results? People wanted light salads and apples. But, what did people ask the flight attendants for when they woke up in the middle of the night? Candy bars.

People have no idea what they want. Steve Jobs talked about this recently in an interview regarding his predictive technological ability. And Jobs' replied that you should never give the customer what they ask for.

Because all a consumer can think of is how to slightly improve existing technology. Adding more features or performance to current laptops and phones. It's what you see Dell and HP doing. They're listening to their customers.

Apple is creating technology that people have no idea they need.

November 08, 2010

You Better Not Legislate Morality

I hear this far too often. The fear of a newly appointed Republican politician "legislating morality."

Here's the problem with this statement. ALL legislation is morality-based. Consider what the new healthcare bill was? That bill says that it's a moral injustice that those with pre-existing conditions can't qualify for healthcare at the same cost as those without them.

Since that's clearly not an economically advantageous legislative decision for the country at large, it's a moral one.

If you want to stop legislating morality, you need to stop legislation altogether.

November 05, 2010

Downsized: A Real-Life Snob Sob Story

If you watch Hulu, you may have seen previews for "Downsized", a reality TV show about a formerly rich family who are now on food stamps, and taking odd jobs and dumpster diving just to pay the mortgage on their mansion.

Here's the crazy part. In the preview, their lawyer explains that they can't qualify for bankruptcy...because they refuse to liquidate their properties!!!

We, the people, are buying these people's groceries because they don't want to lose their summer home, not to mention "downsize" their current one.

While this show is being pitched as an anti-celebrity show, a "real"-life story, it makes me even madder than one of the generic celebreality shows. At least I'm not subsidizing the Kardashians.

November 04, 2010

Government is Not a Business



This ad wasn't a joke. Did you read the bullet points? One said "Treat citizens like customers." This TV ad was created by candidate Rick Synder, who ran and won the race to become Michigan's governor this past Tuesday.

This idea of "running a state like I ran my business" has become a more popular talking point in the last few years. Because in times of financial suffering, it sounds appealing. This was Meg Whitman's big push. She ran eBay. eBay did good. So let's give her the reins to California, and she'll turn it into a successful online auction and shopping Website...wait.

It's not the same thing. The government is not a business. A state's role is not to increase total ROI, get bigger and buy-out other states. A state's role is not to take your tax dollars and invest them in blue-chip index funds.

Like it or not, government is charity. It's justice. It tries to right civil wrongs. That's what it is. And even if you think that's not what it should be - even if you think the role of government is simply to protect the constitutional rights of the populace, a business doesn't do that either.

If you want a balanced budget, elect an accountant. If you want social "justice", elect a community organizer. If you want a good ROI, invest in the market yourself.

November 03, 2010

Money Doesn't Buy Elections

No matter what your political views, we learned some interesting lessons Monday night.

One of the most important takeaways for me came from the California Gubernatorial election where former President and CEO of eBay, Republican Meg Whitman, spent a record $170 million on the race, which she lost to Democratic challenger Jerry Brown.

Money can't buy elections anymore. Whoever has the most gold can make the most ads. But, they're becoming a progressively decaying factor. Because P.R. spreads faster than billboards. Social media spreads faster than signage. Actions spread faster than ads.

So shut up with your "money will buy elections". It's true, but not based on ad budgets. People vote for the person that's going to be the best for their situation. If they are employed in an industry propped by subsidies, they're going to vote for the candidate who supports them.

That's what we should be focused on getting rid of. Not campaign budget and donor regulations.

More on Meg Whitman and the idea of "running a state like a business" tomorrow.

November 02, 2010

I'm Going to Vote

I wasn't sure about voting this year. I live in Illinois. And Illinois sucks...politically at least. The system is inherently corrupt. There's no getting around it. Except to not vote. And feel a sense of moral superiority in not embracing the system.

And I was mentally there. But, I needed encouragement. So, I asked my friend Wes Messamore, editor of The Humble Libertarian, of which I am a contributor, to write a piece in support of my apathy.

It worked. I was convinced. But then marketing guru Seth Godin wrote a piece in support of voting yesterday. And that worked harder. I hated the idea that sneaky marketing was working against me. That they want me to hate "hate" ads. That they want me to stay home.

And so the rebellion in my soul is driving to the polls on the way to work. I'm James Dean. Read both, and see where you fall.

November 01, 2010

Lessons I Learned This Halloween

My wife was sick yesterday, so it was my first time being in charge of giving out candy to the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Here were my lessons learned.

Lesson #1: I wanted to learn my script - exactly what to say when the ankle biters arrived at the door. (I'm a writer). My wife thought I was crazy, but since we had an assortment of candy, I wanted to give the kids their choice. My idea was "Choose 1 of your favorites." Kat told me this was a bad idea and that the kids wouldn't just take one. But, I remembered getting to choose when I was a kid, and loved it, so I gave it a try. Big mistake. With those exact instructions, 60% of the first group took 2 or 3 candies each.

Lesson #2: So, I quickly gave up on this idea, because we would assuredly run out of candy if I continued my sociological experiment to test the etiquette of these neighborhood miscreants. So, I switched to my brilliant wife's originally recommended strategy. "Just pick one and give it to them." So, I did this. And 90% of the kids, after they received their candy, looked into my bowl of assorted delights to see what they would have been able to get if they got to choose themselves.

Lesson #3: Kids are cute, and rude. Least favorite line of the night. "Are you kidding me?!! Just one butterfinger???"!!"

It's easy to say, "Kids suck these days." But, I'm more curious in the reality. Because I was polite when I was a kid. I nicely said "Trick or treat!" And I always said "Thank you!" And there were a whole bunch of kids like that yesterday who came to my door. So, was I simply unaware of the bad-mannered kids from my generation? Or, since I live in a lower-class area than where I grew up, is there a socioeconomic correlation to etiquette?
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October 29, 2010

Let's Invent a Sport Called "Turn Left"

The average age for a boy's peak love/interest in cars is what? Probably 3 or 4?

Now, I'm not saying there's not beauty in the sport. I fully confess that I simply don't get it.

But what might that stat imply about the average intelligence of NASCAR fans?

October 28, 2010

You Can Get Old Without Growing Up

Certain old people scare me. The ones who have given up. I think it happens over time. But, eventually, these people stop thinking they have the capacity to do something great.

I like my naivete. It keeps learning intentional. It makes me want to understand everything, because I feel a personal responsibility to change the world and believe that particular knowledge may be necessary for me to do it.

Human potential is insane. If you don't do something awesome with your life, you are wasting amazing potential.

So, press on. And as we get older, we can either become like Mr. Rogers, taking children on tours of a box factory one week, and a gumball packager the next. Understanding how things work. The mechanics behind things. The people. Getting smarter.

Or we can become like Andy Rooney. Hate everything invented after you were 12. Complain about the world. Get stupider every year. And die angry.

You don't automatically get smarter just by being alive. You have to want it.

October 26, 2010

Langston Hughes - Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore--
And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over---
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

October 25, 2010

Winning isn't Everything

If Sarah Palin has taught us anything, it is that, "Winning is irrelevant to your relevance."

Back in the 60s and beyond, political losers were still the party front runners next time up. But, that's all changed. Gore lost to Bush, and he was politically done. Kerry lost to Bush, and he was politically done. Forever. No second chances.

Yet, Palin, if anything, has become a bigger leader in the Republican party since her loss. Why is that? Is it because since McCain's name was ahead of hers on the ticket, that "she" didn't really lose?

Or are the rules changing?

October 22, 2010

American Education: The Best and the Boredest

Last night, I met a young German student named Cornelius who was visiting his cousin, my friend Jake for the past month.

Fresh out of school and about to start his first real-world job, Cornelius tried explaining the German school system to me. Here's the gist, keeping in mind that I may have lost some things in translation.

In Germany, after 4th grade, children are separated by perceived potential and placed in different types of schools based on predicted outcome. The students with lower academic records go to trade school. The more successful students go to higher levels of education.

Now, they're not eternally stuck at the age of 10. Germany understands that they can guess wrong. And students who do well at trade school can move up. But, it still sounds really weird and creepy, doesn't it?

We used to do the same thing. In the 60s, when Kennedy said, "We're going to the moon." here's what we did. We tried to find geniuses. We plucked our perceived best and brightest out of high school and sent them to specialized schools. Gave them great teachers, so they could go help NASA. And we got to the moon.

"But why doesn't my kid get the best teachers? That's why they're not as smart!" the populace cried out. It didn't seem fair, and it wasn't.

So, today, the perceived best and brightest might get plucked out for an hour a day to learn slightly more advanced math. And for the rest of the day, they're stuck with the other kids their age, bored out of their minds, based on a weird assumption that like-ages equate to like-talents.

So, here's my question. Is our educational system designed to help geniuses create the future, or to help the average kid follow instructions?

October 21, 2010

How Safe is Safe Enough?

We hit on this briefly last week, but I wanted to develop a single conversation around it. U.S. "defense" spending equals roughly 25% of our federal budget. We spend more on "defense" than every other country in the world combined.

So the question is, How safe is safe enough?

At what point will a politician be able to say "We need to start seriously scaling back our global operations." without their opponent yelling, "Obviously somebody doesn't understand that there are currently terrorists working around the clock plotting our children's deaths!" received by giant applause at the town hall meeting.

In all reality, how can this conversation change? I'm sure the first candidate will have to maintain that R&D + intelligence system integration keeps us safer than our ever-expanding global military outposts, and that he could actually increase that spending while severely decreasing our actually costs of production, maintenance and manpower.

But, how do we even get to that point without being laughed out of the room? Because those bombs and parts and men get made in every city of this nation. And they have a vested interest in growing our system, not saving it.

October 20, 2010

Why Negative Political Ads? Because They Work.

These quotes are paraphrased to prevent voter confusion.


Jack Conway on Rand Paul - Kentucky Senate Race
"30 years ago, my opponent was reportedly involved in a hazing ritual in which he tried coercing others into worshiping a make-believe deity called Aqua Buddha."

Chris Coons on Christine O'Donnell - Delaware Senate Race
"20 years ago, my opponent dated someone who was involved in witchcraft."

Here's a local one for you Illinois' folk.
Pat Quinn on Bill Brady - Illinois Governor Race
"My opponent wants to take dogs destined to be put down via euthanasia and put them down en masse, rather than wasting the state money to euthanize them all individually."

These accusations all became television commercials. In fact, I am trying to recall a single campaign commercial I have seen during this election season that spent more than 10% of its air time touting their own beliefs, and not denouncing their opponents as morally bent, and unworthy of the honor of public service.

Why do they do this? Because it works.

We are obviously that stupid. We like the idea of "good" people being in charge of us, and when all we are fed is the candidate's dirty laundry, we pick the person with the smaller stain.

It works. There are really smart campaign managers getting paid a lot of money to win elections. It's not marketing. It's the opposite of branding in fact. It's denouncing. It's short-term bullying. And it works. What if you were to say you refuse to vote for a candidate who puts out a single negative campaign advertisement regarding their opponent? Because that's where I'm at. And I'm not sure if I'd ever be able to vote again.

October 19, 2010

A Print Ad That Doesn't Suck

I can't remember the last time a print ad in a magazine stopped me in my tracks.

Until yesterday. Right after the ad with the SUV carving through the forest (seriously, I am SO sick of car ads that tell me nothing new, driving in scenarios I would never attempt), this ad from Effen Vodka graphically startled me.

Yes, there are layers of innuendo in the ad, but I contend that's not the reason it grabbed my attention. The photography is jarring. The detail is beautiful. The monochromatic coloring is lovely. Her hat is awesome! It made me stop flipping through the pages. And that's exactly what an ad is supposed to do. Create a positive interruption. I had never heard of Effen Vodka. Now I have. And I have a positive brand association with it.

Check out the rest of the terrific ad series put together by Euro RSCG, and for those of you in the business, try to figure out how to bring this design strategy to your brand.

October 18, 2010

The Difference Between Jesus and Sesame Street



In this Bill O'Reilly interview with Richard Dawkins, O'Reilly gives the following reasoning for his faith in Jesus Christ.

"My thesis is that if everybody followed the teachings of Jesus Christ that we'd have peace on earth. Love your brother. Everybody love one another. And we'd be almost an idyllic situation."

That is NOT a good reason for belief. If everybody followed the teachings of Mr. Rogers, we'd have a pretty idyllic situation, too. Sesame Street. Buddha. Joseph Smith. Gandhi.

If we perfectly followed the morality of nearly any philosophy, the world would be a much better place. But Jesus wasn't simply claiming moral authority. He claimed to be restoration. The answer to every "Why...?" question about God and his universe. The answer to every "Why...?" question about relationship with God and each other.

Bert and Ernie don't offer that.

October 15, 2010

The Responsibility of the Offended

Last month, at Rutgers College, Tyler Clementi tragically ended his life after being outed by his roommate en masse. Dharun Ravi, Clementi's roommate, had been using his computer's Web cam to monitor and transmit live video of his roommate's romantic activity to all of his friends.

Upon learning about this egregious invasion of privacy, Clementi jumped off the George Washington bridge.

This is a horribly sad tragedy that you undoubtedly have read much about. But, I wanted to bring up a new question. That the anger we feel toward's Clementi's roommate is not in direct response to his action's, but rather, the consequences.

If Clementi simply got mad, we would have rightfully called Ravi a horrible jerk. With these results, we call Ravi a murderer. For which do you penalize?

October 13, 2010

How to Win an Election in 2010: Cut "Wasteful" Spending

"I'm going to cut every bit of wasteful spending in our budget." This is an a-political statement. Everyone says it. The problem is that "wasteful" is subjective.

Is paying people 4x market wage to make road repairs wasteful?
Is research on squirrel mating wasteful?

And honestly, even if we could agree on these things, which we can't, that's not where our spending troubles lie. At least on a federal level, it's social security, medicare, medicaid and military spending. This is a whopping 75% of the Federal Budget. I can stop the university biologists from researching the amorous habits of our bushy tailed friends, and I will be praised for it. But, this doesn't really solve anything.

And no candidate is saying "I'm going to cut every bit of wasteful military spending and help re-think the long-term fiscal outlook for our social welfare programs."

Because that's scary. Even if some military spending is wasteful or unnecessary, someone's currently making the planes and bombs. And they're going to be mad you're cutting their gig. And your opponent can say we're so much less safe because of it. But, it's the very thing that must be said.

October 12, 2010

How to Win an Election in 2010: Economic Illiteracy

Let's be straight here. People who don't have jobs right now could care less about debt. People with jobs? The national debt is one of their biggest long-term concerns.

So, as a political candidate, how do you effectively and honestly balance the people's desire for both short-term growth and long-term fiscal responsibility?

Do you work really hard to educate people in understanding that the long-term plan is in everybody's long term best interest? Or do you talk about tax cuts and spending cuts and job creation and debt reduction in some super-string theory impossible strategy that has no chance of being realistic in the hopes that the economically illiterate in your crowd will cheer because you said the words they were waiting for?

October 11, 2010

How to Win an Election in 2010: Andy Rooney Voters

First things first. You need to watch this latest Andy Rooney Hates Video. Seriously. This whole week of thinking only works if you do.

Watch it yet? Ok. Yes, he's crazy. He's a crotchety old man, and virtually nothing would make him happy. So, what on earth could I possibly say as a candidate running for office this year to persuade the Andy Rooneys (+70 people, and a LARGE voting bloc) in my district that I'm going to make their life better during a recession? It's virtually impossible.

And it made me question how on Earth an average person, who isn't ok with lying, can actually gain broad political support while holding firmly to their beliefs.

You're at a town hall meeting with all old people, because no one else can leave work at 3:30 in the afternoon. What do you tell them that wouldn't be outright lies?

October 08, 2010

Human Stock Market: Getting in and Out

This week, we've been trying to figure out how to create a Human Stock Market, for both charitable and capitalistic reasons.

I think we're close folks. Not to having every single factor figured out. But to the idea that this could be possible. I really appreciate your thoughts on this. Who knows? This could be something huge one day, and you're all a part of it now.

One great question yesterday to end our week.

How easy would it be for someone to get out of the market?

Great question. This is definitely a little tricky, because it's easier for a corporation to get sold, bought out, liquidated or go under than an individual. I suppose there are two options: the individual could buy back their outstanding shares, or simply pay-out those unwilling to sell at some sort of pre-arranged market(+)  price. Anyone else have any insights on how this happens on real exchanges?

October 07, 2010

Human Stock Market: Valuation

This week, we're trying to figure out how to create a Human Stock Market, for both charitable and investment reasons.

Two great questions yesterday.

1) How do we valuate the person before investing?

Why do you invest in the stocks you do? Some people like Walmart because they see it has a monopolistic hold in its market. Some invest in Whole Foods because they not only believe in the growing market for organic goods, but feel like the company is creating a social "good" in the world as well. Some people invest in guitar manufacturing companies because they own one of the guitars and they believe in the product.

There could a whole lot of reasons for investing. Why do people pick the kids they choose to sponsor through World Vision? Probably the kid's face. If they seem cute, you want to help. Same reason you pick the puppy that seems the nicest at the animal shelter. But again, that's strictly for the charitable side of this human stock market.

As far as picking a long-term investment (assuming we keep our 18-year and older rule), IQ, high school academic record, career goals, parental background, country of origin and opportunity in that country, etc.

2) How do we track performance post-investment?

This gets harder. I think earlier in the week, we talked about how we'd probably only have access to a person's personal financial statement, since they're not a corporation. But maybe they'd need to be in order to get the debt information investors would rely on? But the individual has a vested interest in keeping their investors up-to-date with status reports and new goals in order to get new investments and keep their current ones.

Any big hangs up with either of these? I think I need help thinking the 2nd one through.

October 06, 2010

Human Stock Market: Adult/Child Conflict

This week we're trying to figure out how to create a working Human Stock Market, for both charitable and investment reasons.

Justin brought up a great question yesterday. Because securing funding for one's own education would likely be the greatest use of entering the Human Stock Market. But, buying and selling shares in minors would be problematic, and super creepy knowing you don't really have their consent.

So, I think an 18-year old minimum age is probably a great idea. But also hurts what I think might be a big market - helping put promising third-world children through primary school as well as college in hopes of both helping them succeed and profiting on the success.

Justin hypothesized regulation to prevent monopoly ownership or employer influence. The monopoly question is a great one. What if we make it so that no individual can give up majority ownership in their stock. The individual must always possess at least a 51% share. That would also keep the individual as the primarily "decision-maker" over their own life plan. Can you imagine a meeting where your Board of Directors tells you to give up writing to become a mechanic?

As far as employer influence, why shouldn't an employer be able to buy someone's stock before hiring them? I don't exactly know why they'd want to, because it would just be like taking money out from one pocket and putting it in the other, especially if the job was this person's sole income. But if they think this person is going to go places, sure, the more power to them.

What else do we need to think about ?

October 05, 2010

Human Stock Market: How to Do This?

So, I want to do this. Or at the very least, figure out it's impossible and give up.

Here's the premise. I love what Kiva's now doing in terms of student loan micro-lending. Having donors provide children with no-interest loans that are repaid upon completion. But, even if Kiva keeps their maximum gift at $25, like they do with their other loans, you're waiting a long time before you get repaid.

Which is fine. But, I'm nervous that the repayment period may scare people away. So, what if we add some risk/reward to the possibility?

Hence my original Human Stock Market idea from a few years ago. You invest in the person. Not the business. The idea-maker. Not just the one idea.

You invest in a promising child's education or other funding, and receive a small share of that person's life earnings. The person becomes the corporation. The share entitles you to a percentage of their net income.

So, here's the problem? Because this isn't going to work if it's on a honor-basis. How could I do this without insane regulation? I would just have to confirm their personal tax statements each year, right? But obviously, the person could funnel money into corporations and other businesses. How could this work?

As far as Justin's question to how share prices are decided. That's for the market to decide. The person could release an IPO at a set price. But based on the factors you mentioned, demographics, resume, parental successes (genetics), goals and dreams, the share price of funding your kid and another kid would assuredly be different.

Help people. If we figure this out by the end of the week, I'm starting it.

October 04, 2010

How Young is Too Young?

I was recently in a conversation where older people were warning a young girl (23) that she was far too young to get married. "Play the field." "Explore your options." "Have fun."

And my favorite, "You're way too young to be making a decision like that."

And yet, we think that 5 years before, she was intellectually ready to choose a collegiate career she could stick with the rest of her life? We can't have it both ways. Either 18 is old enough to vote, go to war, choose a future, and commit to a love.

Or we're getting too accustomed to children being stuck in arrested development throughout their 20s.

Raise your expectations for the youth of America. I've met 16 year olds who are vastly more mature than some 50 year olds. Just because you were a dope at 23 doesn't mean everyone is. Just because your marriage sucks doesn't mean everyone's will.

October 01, 2010

Kiva Student Loans: The Human Stock Market

You guys know about Kiva by now. My favorite micro-lending organization. You team up with strangers, each giving a $25 loan to a third-world entrepreneur, and as they succeed, you get your entire loan back to re-give to someone else.

It's awesome. Well, here's the news. Kiva is branching out into student loans. You team up with strangers to help ambitious children go to college who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it. They pay you back after completion through the new career they're in.

This is awesome, but obviously takes longer for repayment. While traditional Kiva loans are typically repaid in 1 year, these Kiva student loan repayments take from 1-3.

And here's the wrench I want to throw into this system. Let me invest in these kids. Give me my Human Stock Market. I give $500 for a .008 (or whatever it is) stake in this child's future. I'm not just helping them. I'm betting on them. I believe in their dreams. I believe in their potential.

They get their education. I get paid off throughout their career if I'm right. I don't care if you think it's creepy. It's going to happen. Look how close Kiva is already?

September 30, 2010

30 Days. 30 Bloggers. $11,474.



Through 149 individual donations, we were able to provide 573 people in the Central African Republic with clean water for the next 20 years during our #30water campaign.

That's awesome! Thanks to all of you who donated. I hope you enjoyed learning about an awesome new charity in charity: water as well.

More importantly, I want to remind you to give your money away. I know it's hard. But you'll get addicted to it. It's such good stuff. And if you can find the right charities (exclude Boy Scout fundraisers and Football team raffles), it's amazing what you can do with even a little amount of money.

Go change the world.

September 29, 2010

The Cell Phone is Dying

I'm having a nice dinner with my wife.
I'm taking a nap.
I'm out with my friends.

LOUD ALARM CLOCK NOISE!!!!!!

Oh wait, that's my phone. How is this convenient again? Well, it is convenient to be able to make calls wherever you are. But rarely to receive them.

How often does your phone ring when you think, "Yea! I've been looking to be interrupted!"? No, much more likely, you go, "Ugh, I'm not walking the 10 ft. over to the table to see who it is."

That's why I like the idea of texting to set up a phone call, but my friends still think that's weird. It may be weird, but I bet it's the future.

September 28, 2010

I Scared a Police Officer Yesterday

They're doing construction in my building, so he didn't hear me walking behind him. I was looking down and flipping through e-mails on my black cell phone, when he must have felt my presence. He glanced behind at me, and instantly stumbled forward while reaching for his belt.

Then he quickly composed himself and said, "Good morning." I replied with the same and didn't realize what had happened until a few seconds later.

He thought I was holding a gun.

Now, let's run this out to its inevitable conclusion. Because these policemen rightfully have their eyes out for suspicious things (someone carrying a gun). Yet, if you look around the college campus I work at, 99% of students are walking around, heading to class, head down, eyes on their phone. If this policeman got confused, somebody, somewhere, is going to try banning black cell phones for national security reasons.

As far as scaring a police officer, yeah, it felt pretty good.

September 27, 2010

How to Make Something Go Viral

This is probably one of the most popular questions I receive from my clients.
"How can we make something go viral?"

Well, you can't. You can't make something become insanely successful. That's why Hollywood makes so many bad movie every year. Because it's really hard to guess what the masses are going to love.

But the odds are it's not going to be some cheesy promotional video about your product...unless you're Old Spice. So, all you can do is go one of these two routes, and hope for the best.

#1. Be hilarious.
For something to become viral, it needs to have mass appeal. Not sophisticated humor. Not impress your buddy with how clever we are. Think physical comedy. Think someone falling down. Think 3 Stooges. Think "surprise".

#2. Be captivating.
Ok Go's music videos all go viral. And none are really funny. They're simply extremely elaborate. You can't take your eyes of them.

Your product isn't that compelling. Your market isn't that broad. So, you have to do a 1-off of your traditional market messaging to have any chance of going viral. And like Old Spice, brand it well so that your benefits come across while being either hilariously funny or genuinely captivating.

September 24, 2010

Non-Unionized Union Workers

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Working Stiffed
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Thank you The Daily Show for pointing out inconsistency wherever you find it. This is a MUST-SEE clip.

Note: you will find this creepy and slightly uncomfortable.

September 23, 2010

Raffles: An Even Odds Gambling Fallacy

I don't like raffles.

I don't like pools where you don't pick your team. I don't like the lottery.

But I like "gambling" as investment. As long as my winning is dependent on my intellectual superiority, I'm in. Otherwise, where's the fun?

September 22, 2010

Jumping to the Wrong Conclusions

People in bad marriages don't like hearing you're in a good one.

In fact, your good marriage, rather than convincing them that a good marriage is indeed possible, may wrongly convince them they simply married the wrong person.

30 Bloggers. 30 Days. $30,000 Update.

So far, we have provided 460 people clean water for the next 20 years. Think about that. Simply ridiculously awesome. 1 week to go...

September 21, 2010

Wedding Tips for Guests and Future Participants

The next time you're at a wedding, when the bride's coming down the aisle...look at the groom's face.

Typically my favorite part of the wedding. And you can learn a lot from it.

Me? Oh, I was bawling at that moment during mine.

Which leads me to Tip #2 if you're not married yet. Don't take pictures beforehand. That moment is too magical to ruin it by seeing your future spouse ahead of time.

September 20, 2010

Twitter Doesn't Suck. You Suck.

You might not understand Twitter. But, that doesn't mean it sucks. In fact, let's get over that whole crazy Luddite judgmental attitude toward technology we don't currently utilize or understand.

If 160 million people are using something, trust that these people must be finding value in it. (Seriously, I've never played Farmville, but it has to be awesome/addictive for so many people to play it)

"Oh, you tweet stupid status updates about how you're 'going to the bathroom.' Twitter is stupid!"

Ok, no one does that. In fact, Twitter is far more professional than Facebook. And that's what I see Twitter as. A networking tool. Facebook helps you stay in contact with people you already know. Twitter helps you meet people based on like interests you would never have met in the outside world.

I've made new friends on Twitter. I've gotten new clients on Twitter. And yes, I started following celebrities on Twitter, and now, host a podcast with a leading Hollywood writer.

Twitter doesn't suck. You suck.  So, shut up and come follow me.

September 17, 2010

Parenthood: Season 1

Parenthood: Season 1 was one of the best seasons of television I've ever watched. But, again, through bad marketing, it created faulty expectations among potential viewers, including me. And it's why I've only caught up just now, right as season two begins.

Last fall, you may have seen Parenthood preview commercials about a guy scared of his over-excited girlfriend wanting to have a baby. You may have seen a mother embarrassing her children outside a school.

But, the show is not a comedy. Well, it's funny. But, it's West Wing funny. Hilarious. But, it's a flat-out drama. Heart-wrenching. Beautifully written. Extraordinarily educational for current and future parents.

Where do I rank this show. It's Office: Season 2 good. It's West Wing: Seasons 1-3 good. It's Parks and Recreation: Season 2 good.  It's that good. Check it out.

You have just been evangelized to.

September 16, 2010

The Never-Ending Punch Line

What do Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods have in common?

Place your punchline in the comments below.

September 15, 2010

30 Days. 30 Bloggers. $30,000.



30 Days. 30 Bloggers. $30,000.

That's what this blog is a part of this month. And at this point, we've raised $6,810. That means we've raised enough money to provide 340 people in the Central African Republic with clean drinking water for the next 20 years.

It's an amazing thing to be a part of. Thank you to all of who have given. It's an amazing opportunity for the community of All Opinions Are Not Equal to get behind as well. To not only be content with being smarter than everyone else in the world. But to do amazing stuff precisely because of it.

Donate today.

September 14, 2010

Time or Distance Goal While Running?

Running is amazingly good for your body. If you're not doing it, start. I know you like biking more. But, it's like a 5-1 calorie difference. And you can learn to love running, too.

Here's the problem. We don't create good incentives for new runners. We say something like "Try running 30 minutes a day." But time is not a good incentive to work harder. Distance is. I think we should recommend that the new runner jog/run 3 miles a day. Because if we tell people to run for 30 minutes, they'll slowly jog it every day. No incentive to work harder. But, if it's 3 miles, then the sooner they get there, the sooner they're done.

Now, I know what you're thinking. But then eventually, their workouts will shrink from 45 to 30 minutes. But, guess what? They're still burning more calories running 3 miles in 30 minutes than running 3 miles in 45 minutes!

Diet and exercise are all mental, and I feel like we're not incentivizing people appropriately to beat the mental aspect of the game.

September 13, 2010

The Evolution of the RSVP

Last weekend, I played music at weddings for two of my friends. And I didn't properly RSVP to either of their weddings or rehearsal dinners.

Now, my wife and I are fairly organized. And we're (typically) incredibly socially sensitive. Yet, we completely ignored/forgot about both of these RSVPs. Why?

Because they arrived by snail mail. When, I receive an e-mail request, I don't delete it until it's resolved. Same thing with voicemail. But, snail mail goes up to this weird room upstairs we don't really go in, and gets lost underneath a pile of junk until it's forgotten about altogether.

You might ask, why don't I just RSVP the second I open the letter? Well, because RSVP'ing requires a stamp. And so that process requires finding/buying a stamp, both difficult. The former because I only use stamps when mailing in our yearly car registration information to the Illinois Secretary of State. The latter because the post office is miles away.

Now you might be thinking, you're just lazy. But some of you might be agreeing with me and thinking, ok, let's go to an online system for RSVP'ing?

But while evite.com might work for your Labor Day BBQ, inviting anyone 50+ and over might run you into the opposite problem as my stamp laziness. Because, my cousin recently did this for their wedding. Sent an invitation to my father. A computer programmer. And he couldn't figure it out. So, what chance did his mother have of figuring it out? And oh yeah, she doesn't have an e-mail address anyway.

Any better solution that doesn't require me to be less lazy?

September 10, 2010

Cows, Pigs and Chickens

Restaurant Naming Idea:
Would you go to a restaurant called "Cows, Pigs and Chickens"?
Is your "blink" reaction to the name, "that's cute" or "that's morbid"?

September 09, 2010

Individual Nudism

Recently, nudist colonies started to make sense to me.

Bear with me. Little children like running around naked, right? This is the idea behind the nudist colony. That, as a pure child, (note: follow a child around for a day, and you'll see how morally bankrupt they are) we wanted nothing more than to unshackle ourselves from the bondage of cotton and linens. And a nudist colony gets us back to that point. A life of freedom.

Here's the problem. These children who run around during "naked time", hiding behind furniture after taking their baths, have not been sexualized yet. We can't get back there. You could become used to nudity. Like what I assume a fine artist feels, you could get to the point where you wouldn't giggle every time you walked through certain parts of a museum.

But, you can't undo sexualization. You can't re-become the 6-year old who didn't think of being naked as anything more than being free.

At least in public. Individual nudism is fine. So, spend some time alone naked in your house and report your findings.



September 08, 2010

Situationally Gay

Haven't gotten you all riled up in a while, so here goes.

"The Week" recently featured an expose on the Afghanistan national guard. These are men, still mostly untrained, who largely spend their days making money off opium confiscation and bribery. And after spending some time with  them, the writer noticed that the entirety of them engaged in sexual activity with their fellow male soldiers.

The writer gave no other reasons for this besides an assumption of situation. The men were all packed together in very small residences for long periods of time. They had to share bunks. And the assumption was that this situation led to certain sexual behavior that likely would not have happened outside of this situation among these Muslim men.

This is what I would like to refer to as "situationally gay". There are many women who have been in abusive relationships with men, who then enter into relationships with women. The common argument is that these women were always gay. Perhaps many were. But, why exclude the notion that a psychological shift occurred? These woman, scarred by men, now associate men with violence, and therefore, now seek women as both emotional and sexual companions.

These Afghani soldiers, due to the situation of being bunked very tightly with other men, all ended up engaging in sexual relations with other men over time.

I imagine this theory will not be welcomed by many gay people. But, I'm not sure why. It simply acknowledges a psychological correlation for sexual companionship. It makes no moral judgment. It does not deny a genetic argument. It merely suggests that certain situations can overcome default preference.

September 07, 2010

The Sliding Scale of Insanity

We tend to put people into two groups. Normal people. And crazy people.

The truth is, we're dealing with a spectrum here. Everyone's a little crazy. And it will help if you start looking at people like that.

You ever come home from a long day thinking, "What is wrong with that person!??!"

Well, they're crazy. They don't live in a hospital. And society lets them drive a car. But, they're a little out of their mind. You can't reason with everyone the way we reason here on this site.

And that's why this critical-thought community exists. To reassure you that honest thinkers do exist. You're not alone. You're just surrounded by crazy people, too.

September 02, 2010

How to Be a "Happy" Person

My preferred personality is "polite". I love polite people. Good manners. Good social etiquette. Those who intuit back-and-forth communication. If everyone was polite, I'm convinced the world would be a much more enjoyable place.

But, there's another kind of person. "Happy." And not just happy, but bubbly. Always in a good mood. They always put you in a good mood. They energize you.

So, shouldn't I want to be that person? The only problem is, being that person is exhausting when it's not natural to you. So, what do I do?

September 01, 2010

30 Days. 30 Bloggers. $30,000.

30 Days. 30 Bloggers. $30,000.

I couldn't be more excited about this. My friend, Tyler Stanton, Christian writer and comedian, has invited All Opinions Are Not Equal to be a part of a 30-day fundraising challenge through CharityWater.org.

Right off the bat, let's be clear. There's no guilt trip here. This isn't a "wouldn't it be cool to be a part of this thing?" You all know my policy on generosity. We are generous people. We simply need to re-prioritize where we're putting our money. Where can our dollars do the most good for the most people?

That's why you hear me talk so often about the Copenhagen Consensus Project, which aims to solve that exact mystery. And clean water and sanitation is a perennial staple on their top challenges list. Not number 1. Because the Copenhagen Consensus Project leans more toward preventing death, from an economic standpoint, and this project through Charity Water, which does do an amazing $12 of good for every $1 of investment, hopes to not only prevent death but start real life in Africa through clean water and sanitation.

If you're currently supporting micro-nutrient funds or malaria prevention, keep your money going there. That's awesome. And dollar-for-dollar can't be beaten. But this is a really beautiful organization to be behind.

WHY WATER? (Learn more here at the charitywater site and watch the awesome videos.)

100% of your donation goes directly toward providing clean water. (Private donors have covered all of the overhead.)
$20 provides 1 person clean water for 20 years. (i know, it's crazy.)
This month, your donation will specifically help the beautiful Bayaka Tribe in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.).

I'll be sure to keep you posted with how we're doing throughout the month.
Now go change the world.

DONATE now through our "30 DAY. 30 BLOGGER" campaign.

August 31, 2010

E-Ching for The Day

"The difference between being smart and being a genius is an insatiable sense of curiosity."

...big news coming tomorrow. Not about me being a genius. But about all of us acting upon what we now know.

August 30, 2010

Single Guys Who Chew With Their Mouths Open

I have noticed a pattern with both my single and divorced male friends. Most of them chew loudly with their mouths open while eating.

And, at first, I jumped to "oh, that's why they're single." But, it's obviously a result, not a symptom, right? Most of them eat most of their meals alone. And therefore, with no social norms or polite niceties to pay attention to, eat in the most efficient way possible.

It makes sense. And will make you feel sad the next time you're grossed out by it.

August 27, 2010

What is Flavors.me?

If you don't have a Web site, you should really get one from these guys. I don't care what you do. Networking is essential for your future. And your name is your personal brand. Make sure it's pretty. Flavors.me is the easiest and most affordable way I've seen for the non tech-geek to do it. Check out the video.

August 26, 2010

Imagine You're a Stalker

Consider the unique benefits of stalking in the 21st century.

You can leaf through pages and pages of photos of your target... that they have uploaded themselves for your convenience. You can see their answers to "What are you doing right now?" at any time - day or night.

Your target helps you maintain constant surveillance by utilizing GPS check-in with Facebook Places and FourSquare.

It's a relative golden age. You can even stalk from home if you want.

August 25, 2010

The Isolation of Being Charles Darwin

You're Charles Darwin. And your 5 years surveying the natural sciences around the world on the HMS Beagle have wrecked you.

Mainstream thought no longer seems possible. That every creature in existence had been created instantaneously in one fell swoop. That the fossil remains of extinct species are simply the ones that didn't make it on to Noah's Ark. These assumed truths no longer makes sense with what you're seeing.

And then you notice layers of seashell sediment on a nearby mountain. Realizing that this geology could have only happened over millions of years. Not the 6,000 maximum your peers all assume is possible.

Your no longer know what to believe. And you are all alone.

August 24, 2010

Life After Science: Identical Twins

200 years ago, before scientists had even the most basic understanding of genetics, what the heck must they have thought when a pregnant woman popped out identical twins?

August 23, 2010

If You Were Islam's Image Consultant

You're a PR image consultant for the Church of Islam in America.

Your reputation here sucks. So, what do you do? Keeping in mind that you have no power to change legitimate articles of faith. Simply perception. What do you focus on? What would you want Americans to think of when they think of Islam?

August 20, 2010

My First and Likely Last Sermon Ever



This is a sermon I gave last week regarding the difference between the church today and the community in Acts 4. It was terrifying. I'm not cut out for it. But, if you're curious...

And we couldn't put the SNL Clip I Got This on our site for copyright reasons, so when I introduce it, you can watch it here.

The Horoscope Experiment Conclusions

Well, we don't really have any conclusions. Becky was the only one that really played along. But that actually did produce some gullibility...in me.

My goal was to predict broad, yet seemingly specific circumstances that would creep you out.

TEST SUBJECT: BECKY JOHNSON
"You will have an awkward encounter with a tall man today."
Becky's husband is 6'8" tall. And without her verifying this, you'd have to imagine she could have found something if she had tried.

"You will experience a small amount of physical pain."
Becky is breastfeeding a 5-week angel named Louisa. (Congrats Becky!)

"Your day will not end up as you had originally planned it."
The day in the life of a 5-week old is, by definition, un-plannable.

After Becky's comment on Wednesday, I thought to myself, "woah, that's weird. I wasn't even thinking of Becky when I was creating these."

The project worked....on me. I confused coincidence for something else, and I acutely aware of what I was trying to achieve. If you were Becky, and you had a leaning to believe this stuff, wouldn't you?

August 19, 2010

Your Thursday Horoscope Experiment

You are going to feel embarrassed today in front of a small group of people. Try and laugh it off.

Report your results before tomorrow's wrap-up.

August 18, 2010

Your Wednesday Horoscope Experiment

Your day will not end up as you had originally planned it.

Report your experiences.

August 17, 2010

Your Tuesday Horoscope Experiment

You will experience a small amount of physical pain.

Report your experiences.

August 16, 2010

Your Monday Horoscope Experiment

You will have an awkward encounter with a tall man today.

Report your experiences.

August 13, 2010

I'm Preaching This Sunday

For those of you who haven't gone to Church since Christmas....of 2007, here's your chance to continue your trend. Head over to gracewired.net this Sunday at either 9:00 or 10:30 Central Standard Time, and participate in a church service from the convenience of your laptop. You simply have to scroll down the bottom right hand corner and click the "Watch Live" button.

And if you do, you'll see me preach.

Yes, I'm terrified. But, the content is pretty cool. I'm going to be talking about the difference between today's Americanized Church and the very first baby church in the book of Acts. What made them tick. What made them treat everyone in their community as if they truly were one big family. And if we're permanently stuck where we are.

On an opposite note, I'm going to try a horoscope experiment on the blog all week next week. Should be fun! Stay tuned.

August 12, 2010

Inception

So, what did you think?

August 11, 2010

Seek Humility

"You can not presume a position of authority. You must be placed there."

I know you're smart. You know you're smart. But strangers don't know that yet. And the best way to get them to hate you is to start presuming authority over their life. Telling them why they're wrong. Even in the guise of "speaking truth" into their life.

If you want their respect, earn it. Listen. Think out loud with them.

Stop preaching. The pride will kill you. And it's ugly.

August 10, 2010

What Do "Best Practices" Mean?

Often I find myself in situations where people return my comments with blank stares. This is usually because I am using some marketing "buzzword" that's not mainstream vernacular.

And I am realizing that the average doesn't know what it means to follow "best practices."

This simply means that you don't have to re-invent the wheel. "Best practices" means following that which is statistically proven to work best.

There are best practices for design. Writing. Teaching. Athletics. Entrepreneurship.

Unless you're Mozart, don't reinvent music. Figure out the system. Imitate the best. And you'll be fine.

August 09, 2010

The Most Likely Scenario Can Still Be Improbable

"CaseRanter" made an interesting comment regarding Justin's guest post last Friday about Lebron James' "Decision".

When giving his thoughts, he predicted that Miami would lose to the Lakers in the finals next year. Now, let's think about this. A Miami-Lakers Finals next year IS probably the most likely scenario possible for next year. And you should bet against it.

This is a good gambling lesson for how to get money out of your mathematically illiterate friends. Who's the most likely team to make the finals in the West next year? The Lakers, right? So why bet money against it happening?

Because just because something is the MOST likely scenario still doesn't mean the odds are in it's favor. Because we're not in a 2-possibility system. The most likely scenario is RARELY better than 50% odds.

Follow yet? Let's take another example.

Who do you think the Republican nominee for President in 2012 is going to be? I'll put money on you that they're not. Why am I being so crazy? Because by going against the favorite, I get the odds of every other possibility. And the odds are always in my favor.

Tiger won't win the next major. You won't win your fantasy league. Wanna bet?

August 06, 2010

Lebron James: "The Decision" - A Guest Post

I had a lot of thoughts about Lebron James' recent "Decision" to leave Cleveland, pass by Chicago and go straight to Miami to play basketball with two of the other most dominant players in the game. But I brought in a ringer, a crazy sports fan and my good friend to give you the real low-down and deeper insight than I could bring.


"The Decision"
A guest post by Justin Elder



I have been to three Chicago Bulls/Cleveland Cavs basketball games since LeBron James joined the league, solely to watch one of my favorite NBA players of the past 7 years.  On one occasion, I'm not sure I really remembered him scoring a basketball until the 4th quarter, but he quietly had 43 points at the end of the game.

Each time the Bulls lost yet I left the stadium satisfied because I had watched one of the best players I'd see in my adult lifetime.  I also watched the entirety of his high school basketball games that were aired on ESPN during the winter of 2002-2003.  I even seriously considered buying his basketball jersey but convinced myself I couldn't do that as a Bulls fan.  I've read articles and seen movies about LeBron and his buddies from high school help each other live their dreams and thought how different LeBron must be from other superstar players.  And, until July 8th I loved LeBron as much as I could love any other player not on the Chicago Bulls (except Kevin Durant).
   
For a wonderfully written, albeit 2 weeks late, analysis on why ESPN raised serious ethical questions based on "The Decision", please read the following. I believe this in-depth article to fully answer why Team LeBron chose to use a one hour program to announce a one-second decision amongst other things.  

I want to focus more on the pros and cons for LeBron after that one hour decision.  

Pros: (There's only one that I see, but it's a big one):
LeBron is now a Miami Heat and in prime position to win as many championships as the three egos will allow in South Beach. This was a decision that is well documented to have been planned during the summer of 2008 Beijing Olympics. Though talking about the possibility and actually pulling it off are two different things, it's clear that all three stars (Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh) were willing to sacrifice pay in order to play together as evidenced by Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks being the highest paid free agent this summer.  Pat Riley also did whatever was necessary to get them there, something no other team had either the guts or the stupidity to pull off.  

Cons:
LeBron's popularity fallout could not been anticipated when Team LeBron first pitched the idea to have a one-hour special, however I believe a few things really hurt his credibility and turned him from a lovable, one of the boys type kind of guy to a narcissistic evil empire player.  First, just two days earlier Dwayne Wade (a similar caliber player) and Chris Bosh (a short step down caliber player) announced their decision in a short "Breaking News" interview on Sportscenter.  If the Heat are truly all about playing together as a team, why not announce the decision as a team of three instead of two? Second, Kevin Durant, reigning NBA scoring champion and quickly climbing the ranks of top 5/10 players announced his decision to sign a contact extension via Twitter with zero media attention and continued to go about his business as usual.  After we saw how players of similar quality made their decision it became very clear during "The Decision" that LeBron only cared about himself and fans quickly turned against him and his new team.

Although I don't believe LeBron only cares about himself, that was the perception that was given off and one I'm not sure he will be able to overcome.  For the next few years every city will be rooting for their team to annihilate the Heat.  It won't happen, the team is too good, but why do you think teams don't want Terrell Owens or Barry Bonds on their roster?  Players like this bring in extra reporters with extra questions and pretty soon the hype and pressure on this team will be something the NBA has never seen and to me, LeBron has become as hated in his sport as either of those guys in theirs.  If this is true, there's no doubt that this team will fall well short of winning multiple NBA championships. 

I believe this to be the biggest negative for LeBron.  No matter how many rings he wins in Miami, Wade will always have one more than he does.  This year Kobe Bryant won his 5th ring and the media talk was how he measured up to Jordan.  None of them said he was better, but if Kobe were to win 2 more and have 7, there would definitely be those out there saying without question that Kobe was better.  At the end of LeBron's career, it's inconceivable to think that he won't be upset if he's won 5,6,7 championships and yet Wade will have won one more.

His legacy can now never end up as the NBA's all time greatest player, no matter what he accomplishes.