Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Tao of Oreo

So apparently Kraft Foods did a study in 2004. In it they asked 2,000 people across America how they like to eat their Oreos. Then they did personality screenings. They found some fun results.

If you're a dunker you are energetic, adventurous and extremely social.

If you bite(nibbles or popping it whole into your mouth) you are easy-going, self-confident and optimistic.

If you're a twister you are sensitive, emotional, artistic and trendy.

Interestingly, they found that primarily women are dunkers, men are biters, Republicans dunk and Democrats twist.

Me, myself, I am a combination, as I think most people are. I drown mine(youknow, hold it under until there are no more bubbles) then I pop it in whole. If you do it just right, you still get the satisfying crunch of a bite, but it doesn't cut your mouth to shreds.

I guess I should have known that all the answers would lay in a chocolate sandwich cookie.

Promote world peace! Eat your Oreos!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run to the store. I feel a sudden craving for a certain cookie.......

Saturday, October 20, 2007

On the surface....

The question posed here is a deceptively simple one: Does appearance matter?

I contend that it does. How you choose to present yourself makes an enormous impact on how the world chooses to respond to you. How you dress, how you speak, if you’re clean and well-groomed, if your clothes are in good repair and well-fitting, all of these things are factors in how the world perceives you and, thereby, what it’s willing to grant you in terms of its rewards. Is it a complete picture of your deepest, truest self? No! But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about making a surface judgment, based on surface elements. As long as you’re aware that it’s a surface judgment, and that there is something to discover beyond the surface, I fail to see the injustice. We have an outside surface that we present to everyone we meet. We have to start somewhere and, lacking telepathy, this is our best option.

There are those who say that to judge another solely by their appearance is a closed-minded bigotry. I would agree with that statement, and would venture to say that this is not what I am proposing to do. I am proposing that it’s not entirely outside the realm of reason to think that a person’s external state may offer some insight into his internal one.

An example was proffered that in a certain professional setting a kind of uniformity of dress was required to maintain employment. There was a great deal of unhappiness engendered by this mandate, owing to a feeling of being dictated to on a matter that is considered very personal. It was stated that I could not have gotten to know a person simply by looking at their uniform. I acknowledge this is truth. In a professional setting, however, you are representing something bigger than yourself, and it is accepted and, indeed, expected that your personality would be somewhat subjugated to that larger entity. In this case, it is not the goal to get to know a person deeply and meaningfully. It can often be a pleasant side-effect from working closely with a person for a long period of time, but it isn’t the primary goal, nor would it be appropriate for it to be such.

This is my point: Your appearance is a reflection of who are. Not a 3-D sculpture in full color, by any means, but a reflection, nonetheless. If it wasn’t, the professional wouldn’t be distressed in any way at the thought of maintaining an externally imposed dress standard. But instead, it feels like a violation, because it removes that surface indication of individual personality.

Appearance matters!


These questions were posed in class, “Are we really free? Do we really have freedom of speech in this country? Is there censorship?”

Well, these are big questions, and rather interrelated, of course. My simple answer to all three of them is, yes.

We are free; at least by my definition of free. Meaning,we have the freedom to choose how to live our lives. If you decide to give up a lucrative career and go be a squid fisherman in Borneo, you are free to do so. No one will stop you.

You are free to choose anything. You just have to be aware that choices have consequences. If you’re going to define freedom as a complete lack of consequences, then no, you are not now, nor will you ever be, free. I see this problem in a lot of people. They seem to feel that just because they want something, that should be reason enough to get it, but they're seldom willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make it happen. Nor are they willing to take responsibility for the consequences. That's my biggest problem. People are so quick to demand their freedoms; their right to choose. But they are even more quick to abdicate their responsibilty for the consequence of the choice. They always want someone else to pay for it. That's not freedom. That's slavery.

As to the second question, this country has the freest speech you’re ever going to find. I would like to note, however, that what our forefathers intended by that amendment was the right to criticize the government. Not the right to be publicly offensive with impunity. When the Dixie Chicks had their little bout with public reactions, they were shocked and appalled that people responded so negatively. I think they were stupid not to see it coming! They viewed their actions as patriotic(which makes me question, not only their intellect, but their sanity). They had every right, under the Constitution, to say what they did, and if they had been in the States when they did it, the reaction would likely not have been as intense. But when you go to a foreign country and denigrate yours, you’ve crossed a line. I don’t feel sorry for them. Not even a little. You said what you had to say, and now you can deal with the consequences. I will never buy one of their albums. And I change the station if one of their songs comes on. That’s one of the consequences. They lose my patronage. That’s the thing most people seem unwilling to accept. You have the right to say whatever you want. You do not, however, have the right to an audience, let alone a warm and accepting one.

Question three: Is there censorship in America? Yes. And I’m glad. What the critics call censorship, I call discretion, and I’m deeply appreciative for the meager amounts that are currently circulating in our society. This criticism is usually lobbed by those who think Europe has the market cornered on “the way to live and be happy”. I do not wish to become as seemingly “enlightened” as our Western European friends. Pardon me, but didn’t we fight that whole Revolutionary War thing, so that we WOULDN’T become like them?! Further, has anyone else noticed that when Europeans say enlightened, what they are invariably talking about is sex? When, oh when, did sex become the pinnacle and beacon of all learning and knowledge?! I’m noticing this attitude seeping to our society with alarming thoroughness. People seem to feel that if we are not open to, actively engaged in and discussing sex of every kind that we are somehow lacking. We are hypocrites. NEWS FLASH: The fact that you engage in a behavior, does not automatically render it appropriate for public discussion!

On a side note, I find it to be an interesting juxtaposition that in France they will talk about sex at the drop of a hat, but it is considered beyond uncouth to discuss money in any form. No wonder they hate us! We are their antithesis!

So, to recap: Yes. We are really free. Free to choose, but not free to escape the consequences of our choice. Yes, we have freedom of speech. You can say whatever you like, but you're not guaranteed an audience or acceptance of what you have to say. Yes, we have censorship, and it's a good thing. It's true name is discretion. Not all information NEEDS to be out there.

The Myth of Multi-Culturalism

I hate diversity. Don’t get me wrong. I understand its value, when used properly. But no one uses it properly anymore! It has been, like so many other good concepts, turned and twisted and mutated into something wholly wrong and undesirable by any sane, thinking person.

What do the proponents of diversity for its own sake hope to accomplish?

People are different from each other. I get that. I do. And I think most people are good, and when they strive for diversity, they are attempting to make people appreciate, rather than fear, those differences. But they’re missing some rather vital aspects, and have incorrectly defined the role diversity should play in the grand scheme of things.

First of all, they’re not taking into account human nature, and working within those parameters. We tend to be selfish beings. Our first thought is, “What’s in it for me?” Even those who are not actively selfish have little desire to help someone if it's going to cause damage to themselves. And rightly so! Diversity, as it is held forth today, has not satisfactorily answered the question of self-interest. It is held as a higher virtue, which is its own reward. Historically speaking, that is seldom a strong enough incentive to get the vast majority of people to adopt any particular attitude or behavior change. You must appeal to their self interest, and that is why diversity as a goal will never succeed. It's not in anyone's best interests.

Diversity as a vehicle to a goal, on the other hand, answers this fundamental question. We all have someplace to go and our differences can make sure that we all get there in such a way that we not only get what we wanted, we get a little extra. That’s what’s in it for me. I get what I want, and then some. If it happens that I help you get what you want, and then some, so much the better. And I like you better at the end of the journey. The differences work in everyone’s favor, instead of creating a competition over whose values and abilities and contributions are more valid, important, yada, yada, yada. Diversity as a goal simply puts an emphasis on the differences, rather than a mutual goal, and creates an atmosphere of dissent,judgment, conflict and resentment. This will never change.

The diversity pushers seem to feel we should just drop the judgment, but that’s another integral part of human nature. You have a will; a desire and an ability to choose. It is the core of being. But in order to use that with any degree of efficacy, you must have judgment. It is essential to our survival to be able to judge a good thing from a bad thing. No one can give that up and live. And until people figure out that diversity is merely a vehicle, we will continue to have the strife that currently pulses beneath our civilized veneers.

There are those who say that we have no right to say our culture is superior. I say to them, "Bull pucky!" Look at the empirical evidence! We are the most successful country in the world, and when we adhere to its founding principles, we are unbeatable. More importantly, when other countries use these same principles, they are more successful, too! This is not about geography. It's about principles. It always has been. And you cannot have more than one culture being dominant, or the country will rip itself to shreds. I get very angry when people call us a nation of immigrants, because they leave the sentence unfinished. We are a nation of immigrants WHO BECAME AMERICANS. We united under one culture. Proud of our individual heritages, most certainly, but loyalty to countries of origin never superseded loyalty to the chosen homeland. If there is ever a choice to be made between the two, America should win, hands down, in the hearts of every person who lives here. If it doesn't, get out. We don't want you here, any more than you want to be here.

While there may be countless sub-cultures, there can be only one main culture. Anything else is a recipe for destruction, and I don't have to be okay with that.

America is NOT a cultural Imperialist!

I found myself pondering something in my philosophy class(the fruits of which will be seen with increasing regularity here, no doubt). While we were debating whether America is a cultural imperialist or not, I put forth that our system, and our country, were the best in the world. One of my classmates sneered, with no mean amount of derision, “So, our system is perfect?” My first impulse was to say, “No, of course it isn’t.” He answered with an emphatic, “No, it is not!”

I wish to amend my answer.

In the first place, my contention was not that our system was perfect, but that it was the best. Since when is perfection the litmus test for superiority? And secondly, which ought, perhaps, to have come first, our system is perfect. It was founded by God, upon principles that are eternal and immutable. The system is perfect. It is run, alas, by people, who are not, and never shall be. The fact that we execute the system imperfectly is not a poor reflection on the perfection of the concepts, but upon the perfection of our capabilities.

My country is not a cultural imperialist. We are a market society. We offer goods, services and ideas. There is no requirement to buy what we sell, on any level. If people are buying, however, and their ruling bodies don’t like it, they (the rulers) need to take it up with their citizens. We are not under any imperative to NOT share our culture. And, along those lines, why do so many Americans feel that everyone has a right to violently defend their cultures, EXCEPT US? Everyone in the world is entitled to their own beliefs, except Americans. We have to believe in everyone but ourselves. Otherwise we are charcterized as arrogant, domineering and imperialistic; forcing our views on the rest of the world. Poor, innocent, defenseless world at the mercy of big, mean, dumb America. PLEASE!

How long do people think we can be “one nation” with that attitude? And, more terrifyingly, what if that's why they're doing this? They don’t want to be one nation? What then? What do they seriously think will happen to all their freedoms when they get the nation they're trying so hard to build? They're going to find that the world they've built has no place for them. They will have fought hard to achieve self-annihilation. What really scares me is that I think some of them know that. And they're doing it anyway.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

When I grow up.....

What do you want to be when you grow up? You ask this of every child. But at some point you quit asking, because the growing up is done, and whatever you ARE is apparently what you want to be. And, clearly, I want to be a student. Because thats what I are. I find it frustrating to have thought that I had discovered what I wanted to be " when I grew up", only to discover that I am constitutionally unsuited for it. So now I have to try again. And try I shall, because I refuse to give up! I will have a real job one day "if it takes me the rest of my life, which may end at any minute!"

Not that I'm entirely sorry, mind you. I mean, think of how wretched it would have been to have finished school and gotten a JOB I was constitutionally unsuited for! But it's a tad wearying to be almost back at the starting line, after such a long and rather arduous journey.

But, in the immortal words of Mr. Mouskowitz, "Ah, Feivel! If growing up were easy, would it take so long?"