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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Annihilation of Imagination

To say that I'm an avid reader is an understatement. I truly love to read. In this affinity, I'm definitely in the minority. A question I've often pondered—why do so few people love to read? Why would most people rather pluck out their toenails than pick up a book?

Those who know me, know that I'm seldom at a loss for an answer even when that answer is completely wrong. With that said, I believe most people don't enjoy reading because their imagination was strangled by well-meaning but sadly misguided teachers. It all started—if you remember—with that seminal event in our lives called a “book report.” We were assigned a book to read, and after trudging tediously through this waste of a perfectly good tree we were then asked to stand up before a classroom full of hecklers and explain exactly what it was about this book that was so wonderful.

Maybe you were one of the lucky ones. Perhaps you actually enjoyed your book. It's hard for me to conceive of but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. In all my years of schooling I was never once assigned a book I enjoyed. In case that statement wasn't definitive enough... I absolutely loathed the poorly written and mind-bogglingly boring amateur hour narratives handed down by those smug and condescending trolls more commonly referred to as teachers.

The trouble all boils down to one fact; classics were written by unimaginative hacks whose works would have rotted in some publisher's slush pile had they been written today. I'm not blaming them; what did they have to compare themselves against? What kind of competition were they up against? Few in their time could read and those that could didn't exactly have a wide selection to choose from. In those unenlightened days maybe a 416 page story about an OCD fisherman and a big fish was a rollercoaster thrillride.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Some Philosophy for Fun

If Life Is:

If Life is a Journey—then all that really matters is getting to the end of it.

If Life is a Game—then it doesn't matter whether I win or lose, just how I play. Hey, how about double or nothing? Best two out of three?

If Life is a Highway—Wait, life is a million tons of steam-rollered tar?

If Life is a Play—If we're just actors on some cosmic stage, then who's the audience? What if I don't like the script?

If Life is a Guided Tour—then where the hell did the tour guide go?

A Sad Story

Some background to start with: The company I work for is a medium sized security guard company with a fairly high turnover. The turnover is caused by the fact that the job is essentially unskilled labor requiring only about six hours of training, and therefore the people we get are not what you'd call self-starters. I work in HR and have been there for fifteen years. One of the hats I wear is that of record keeper / employment verifier.

You'd think in an economy with nearly 10 percent unemployment, people would want to keep a job where they don't have to lift stuff, move stuff, pack / unpack stuff, or screw part A into socket B, but nope they quit at the drop of a hat. Today I got a call from a guy we hired a month ago. We hired him; we spent 6 hours training him. We fingerprinted, photographed, drug tested, filled out all the forms, and then mailed off his state security guard certification packet—with a check for 50 dollars for his guard license. Do you think he even showed up for work?

Not only did he not show up for work, but today he requested a letter on company letterhead stationary, explaining that he had in fact never worked a minute nor received any wages from our company. You see, he didn't want to lose out on the unemployment money he's been getting for over a year now.

It's really a sad story. Not the scumbag's story; I'm talking about this country.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Censorship, Profanity, and Thought Control

We are all taught not to use Profanities. Obscene words offend people, and we certainly wouldn't want to offend anyone. Ok I'll accept that reason. We shouldn't do things that are offensive. But, why is cursing offensive?

Farting and burping for instance are also offensive. We wouldn't want everybody farting and burping all the time. Fart and burps smell bad. I don't want someone's intestinal gas inside my nostrils. Who would want microscopic floating bits from someone's rectum coating their olfactory sensors? Same thing goes for a burp. I don't want molecules from someone's churning bag of half-digested food and saliva and stomach acid to coat the inside of my nostrils.

This doesn't explain why cursing is offensive though. Ever since I was old enough to curse, I always wondered why cursing was so upsetting to others. Even more upsetting though is when women and especially children are exposed to those offensive vulgar words.

Well I think it's bullshit! People want to control what I say, and the only reason they can give is that it's offensive. I ask why it's offensive and they say... "It just is." I think it's offensive to try and censor speech just because you have some odd bias against a particular synonym for fecal material.

This whole profanity argument really is the slippery slope towards thought control. Once you've got everybody questioning themselves internally about every little thing they're about to say until they're afraid to say anything at all for fear of giving offense, well... what do you have? I suppose if you desire a quiet society, a fearful society, a dull and ultimately dimwitted and docile society, then you'll have achieved the total thought control you were after.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Here's my big conspiracy theory

I read the following article which I found on American Thinker entitled: Death of The Dollar. The opinion makes the clear cut argument that the dollar will soon be dead as a door nail. The article stops at that point, but what happens next?

What will happen when the dollar becomes worthless? A new currency will become necessary. Barter won't work. You can't pour kerosene in your car's gas tank and expect to get very far; likewise our nation's economic engine will not run on barter. Americans will need a new form of currency, something completely different not just in appearance but in a radically different way. Remember the lesson our leaders have learned over the past fifty years: NEVER WASTE A GOOD CRISIS.

What form will the new currency take? I suspect it will be entirely electronic. It will be touted as a great new vehicle of commerce which will put a stranglehold on black-market activity, curtail illegal immigration, and finally sound the death knell for the illegal drug trade. No more burglaries or muggings, because there's no paper money to steal. And if you stole possessions you wouldn't be able to sell them when there's no longer a black-market. It will also cause the United States of America to finally resemble the dystopian world envisioned by the late George Orwell, some thirty years later than the author's original prediction.

The vehicle for this electronic commerce will be a national ID card. This card will be highly tamper resistant—perhaps even foolproof. All transactions will be enabled in some fashion through some combination of this card with its photo and thumbprint, and retinal scanners at all retail locations. I'm not sure what people without retinas or thumbs will do but I'm pretty sure the geniuses in DC will figure it out. All money will be digital and accounted for in a central national bank. Because all transactions will be tracked through a government supercomputer, any suspicious activity will be spot-lighted and investigated.

So far so good? Wait, there's more...

There won't be any more fudging on your taxes, because Uncle Sam will know what you bought, and when. They'll know what movies you saw, whether you're a kinky little porn freak, what books you bought, how much alcohol you drink, and how long you're likely to keep your current job.

With the ability to track all money transfers, the government will be able to compile dossiers on every citizen of this country and assign a threat assessment score. They will base this score on purchases and computer activity, television, radio, and book preferences. This kind of information gathering is nothing new. The FBI has had the ability to gather data about anyone—without a court order—for some time now.

But wait, there's still more...

You hear that knocking at your door? That's your case worker. He knows you're broke and rent's due. He's here to make you an offer you can't refuse.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Charity Industry

As I sat in the tub this morning, I started thinking about everyone's contribution to society. Many of us work, pay taxes, and raise our children, and this constitutes the totality of our contribution. Others do more than this and while I admire that kind of energy, I don't possess it myself. I started thinking about what thing I could do that would improve society in some small way.

I was still thinking in the tub when the concept of charity bubbled to the surface, carrying with it a less than agreeable odor. There are people who devote their lives to those in need. Can you imagine that? Maybe they run a soup kitchen or work for the Salvation Army, whatever the case, the list of charitable organizations is immense. The charity industry is huge, and because I am such a cynic, I suspect it must be quite profitable as well. In the best of all possible worlds, how many cents of every dollar given to a charitable organization goes to those who're truly in need?

As I pondered, it occurred to me that soup kitchens would be impossible without soup. Put another way, a soybean farmer probably feeds way more people than a man running a soup kitchen. What an astounding thought! Everyone loves the kindly old man administering that soup kitchen, “what a kind soul!” they gush in genuine admiration. Of course the fact that his soup kitchen accepts donations should not be forgotten, because that is the heart of the matter. Both the soup kitchen administrator and the farmer are running businesses which feed people. The soybean farmer is just way more efficient at it.

Everyone with a job helps put that soup on the table at the soup kitchen. Without the vast infrastructure and supporting web of interrelated industry, the soup kitchen would be impossible. Whether it's a nurse a teacher a police officer or a warehouse truck loader, we are all necessary for society to function, and without society there would be no soup kitchen and no soup or bowls either.

So remember, when you answer the annoying donation solicitor with: "I gave at the office," that you really did!

Is Homo Sapiens an Evolutionary Dead End?

Life evolved from simple organisms to more complex ones, and this evolution is founded on competition for resources. We live in a competitive society, with a free market and western thought holds that this competition is healthy and makes life better for all of us, and up until now this was undoubtedly true. We stand at the apex of all that has gone before us. A vast uncountable series of victories brought us to this unimaginable height. It was the winners of every struggle who continued on, not the losers. We are all descended from an eons-old line of these winners back to the very beginning of life on earth. That's a pretty admirable pedigree for every one of us.

That's all in the past, however. Times have changed, and we must change with them or face extinction. Competition ceases to be healthy when every competitor carries the ability not only to defeat his competition but also kill every other life-form on the planet into the bargain. I'm speaking of nuclear weapons of course. The proliferation of nuclear weapons grows more and more critical. We will soon have critical mass, and once that point is reached what follows is inevitable. It's called a chain reaction.

If only one country on earth had nuclear weapons that would be dangerous enough, but imagine what happens when every country on earth has them? This practice of beating on our chests and brandishing clubs at our competitors has brought us to this inevitable final nuclear wall. Is the wall our evolutionary dead end, or is there a way to get past it?

How can a world of human beings who've evolved to compete, to win at any cost, how can we as a species suddenly change? I don't know the answer to that, but I do know that this change must happen very soon or it will be too late.