Thursday, November 30, 2006

Men Suck ???

Speaking of differences in the genders…………I had a really interesting discussion with a female friend recently. During the discussion she trotted out the old familiar line that ‘men do all of their thinking with their penises.’

I know you have heard that one. I think it is so often repeated that it has become generally accepted as true and worse yet considered sophisticated to utter.

I don’t really think there is a rant coming here ….lets call it a purging or challenging discussion. Recognizing I have a faithful female audience (and you know I love you all) I am at some risk here of losing friends, but the general content and tenor of this post is intended to be helpful. Or on the other hand you should know that it is 25 degrees F in Dallas today and I DON”T LIKE THAT.

Is it just me being sensitive or is there an inordinate amount of male bashing going on in the blogsphere? Not only in the blogsphere, but all around me? Are we really so awful that we have to be hammered at every turn?

Let me tell you why I don’t like this phrase “men think with their penises”….I have spent a professional career around men and working with men. We have done considerably wonderful things with our environment, while thinking with brains and not our penises.

When you walk through an airport, attend a movie with surround sound and digital image, fly on spacecraft to the moon, examine the surface of Mars with a mars remote vehicle, cross a gigantic span bridge…and of course I could go on and on…..think of men. We opened those doors for you, along with millions of other doors. We weren’t thinking with our penises. Now of course, you are thinking I am reasoning out of context on this one, since when women say this ‘penis thinking’ thing they are talking about the male sex drive. OK, I’m guilty of that charge, so let’s look at the issue in context.

Did you see the latest brain research? It shows that the area of the brain that processes sexual information, images, fantasy, sexual reasoning and all the rest, is twice as large in men as it is in women. That would be 2X in math terms.

Looking at the biology as a sole causative factor the researchers say it is only natural that men think about sex much more frequently and process information about sex more easily. (and with considerably less drama) As we all know research also shows women have a larger talent and better wired brain for talking, beating males by a 7:2 ratio of words spoken per day, the point being that both genders have strengths and weaknesses.

What bothers me on this one is that men are typically branded as being ‘oafish or even perhaps slimy’ because we think about sex often and find the area of sex talk, imagery and sex engagement an entertaining and worthwhile pursuit, even fun. Maybe we aren’t really thinking with our penises at all. Maybe we are thinking with a motor twice as large as yours and the problem is that your female brain is puttering along below the speed limit? Maybe you could even respect our superior ability and learn something from us?

I’m serious. I know speaking for my male contemporaries that there is so much underlying hostility in the male population due to not only the lack of understanding, but the labeling and rejection that contributes to our undeserved ride on the train to confusion and misunderstanding. There are things we can teach you. There are things you need to know. But it will be necessary to quit constantly bashing us first.

As far as public male bashing goes I sense it is at record levels. There is a backlash coming. As I talk to my male friends I find a level of hostility that will ultimately create a backlash.

Maybe the era of feminism and female chest thumping could gently close itself and bring a new era of mutual respect?

It’s 25 F in Dallas and I am in a pissy mood. I am especially tired of reading blog posts that start out “Men suck……”

Really. I am.

Me and my fellow males are very tired of it. Our 2X sex brains are especially tired of it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Confusion De-Scrambler Cap - Part 2

Postscript and response to comments on the "Confusion De-Scrambling Cap" post.
I wish I could say I actually invented this cap. Unfortunately it is just a silly idea free grazing inside my brain.
Reach asked a good question. What question created the post? Well....BEG reads the posts and usually the comments so I will have to be careful. No single question brought it on. It is based on a lifetime (55 years) of observation.
What is funny around here is that BEG will listen to a question from me and I can see her trying to figure out what is 'unsaid' between the lines of the question. When she guesses wrong and gets all discombobulated I always explain there is nothing unsaid, that men always just ask exactly what they want to know. This perplexes her and also other women I have known.
When she asks a question I tend to think the question concerns exactly what she wants to know and I usually answer way too quickly, forgetting the question has serious hidden parts with hazards for those without skills at this level of discourse.
I'm not gender bashing. I guess men could ask questions that are not exactly what we want to know, but I'm thinking we are likely to be so inept at such a thing it might leave us looking like a crocodile trying to fly.
Women might try asking a question where the answer to the question leads to resolution of the question. But...I guess answering a question by correctly guessing at what the actual (unspoken) question really is, is somehow more intellectually stimulating?
So at the end of the day I decided we men needed help.
If only I could get the damn thing to work, I could really make some dough!
On the other hand, some smart-ass transexual would probably pop up and sue me if it didn't work correctly for them.......then of course we have those with an imbalance of chromosones.....and OK.....thats all I want to think about it.
Your stories of gender use of the language, and its attendant confusion are welcome.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Confusion De-Scrambler Cap

Seven's Satire Report News
Men's Institute for Awareness
Hope, Arkansas
Scientists at the Men’s Institute for Awareness have announced a breakthrough in communication equipment. The scientist report they have combined female voice stress levels, voice frequency, voice inflection and voice volume into a complex algorithm. The result of the equation is then integrated into known patterns of female behavior and thinking. The outcome of the two streams of input is a new device that will unscramble questions asked by a female partner. After extensive beta testing with females of all ages, the final data base has been developed into hardware that can be worn by men inside a baseball cap. The micro processor for the system has been installed in the caps button. The flexible and flat hard drive section is sewn to the top of the cap and rests gently against the cap wearers head.

In an attempt to establish a marketing campaign for the ‘Confusion De-Scrambler Cap' the Men’s Institute tested the product with the male executive in charge of the ad campaign.

Johnny Spindude reports stellar results and wrote a brief report to the Institute. The highlights of Mr. Spindude’s report are shown below.

My Report on the MIA Confusion De-Scrambler Cap: by Johnny Spindude
Over the course of two weeks I wore the cap at home and kept the batteries at full charge of 2,140 volts. The cap is comfortable and light weight as advertised. There is an initial delay in responding to the female questioner while you wait for the de-scrambling, however I am told future versions of the cap will address this delay problem. On the whole, the cap worked marvelously and I was able to avoid many hazardous situations with my spouse. Prior to using the cap, such sticky situations would have been unavoidable. Below are some actual examples of the cap’s abilities.

Example 1
Her original question: “Would you like to go to the movies tonight?”

Obvious answer to the question asked: “Sure, let’s take a look at what’s showing.”

However, after the cap’s de-scrambling of the question, it came in clearly in this form:
“I want to go see the movie about the young girl and her relationship with the famous rich guy and how she got a broken heart from him, but her heart got healed because she realized she really loved her best friend from high school, the guy named Todd. Don’t be trying to go see that football movie Friday Night Lights because I’ll just pout all the way through it if that’s what YOU want to do.”

My answer after de-scrambling: “No thanks I have some reading to do tonight. However, why don’t you call your friend Janice and ask her to go with you. I think that dating movie about the girl and famous guy has great reviews.”

Example 2
Her original question: “Is eating at home tonight alright with you?”

Obvious answer to the question asked: “Sure sweetie, I’m OK with that.”

However, after de-scrambling, the question came in clearly in this form:

“If you expect me to cook tonight after working all day then you damn well better have your ass in the kitchen helping, cuz I’m not your danged kitchen slave.”

My answer after de-scrambling: “Lets go out tonight, I know you are probably tired and you deserve to have someone else cook for you.”

Example 3
Her original question: Does this dress look OK for the wedding?

Obvious answer to the question asked: “You look as wonderful as always.”

However, after de-scrambling, the question came in clearly in this form: “I hate it. I’ve worn it to 5 straight weddings and you never even noticed. I don’t know why you can’t pay more attention to me. Everyone is going to think I have one damn dress in my closet.”

Answer after de-scrambling: “You would look great in anything, but I think we should look for something new and fresh so you feel good about wearing it.”

I noticed that it is difficult to sleep in the cap. After removing it during the night I was asked “Are you going to snore all night again tonight?”
I was not able to come up with a suitable answer. I would encourage the Men’s Institute to solve the problem with the cap’s comfort during sleep. Other than that I find the Confusion De-Scrambler Cap to be marvelous and just as advertised.

End of report – Johnny Spindude

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Good Will Prevail

My absence here has been about holiday deadlines and family and friends. It is not disinterest. I apologize for not responding to comments, particularly to those who are always here and supportive; you know who you are.

Stopping in to look at comments I saw Enemy had addressed the idea that a shrinking world implies a theoretical concept that is positive and yet hold hazards in its misapplication. I agree with that assessment.

However, I agree with a positive slant and when I wrote that post I was in a positive frame of mind.

What the Cold War victory produced is a global recognition that successful acquisition of economic wealth is based on free market capitalism and not the centralized top heavy, minimal information frameworks of communism, marxism or fascism. Withholding information from the masses, as practiced by these doctrines is no longer possible. The rage against America is precisely because it is our system that has proven the winner and this free market determinism is now at work across the globe. There are winners and losers, and the losers are upset. This will change. The free exchange of information through cell phone, satellite television and internet has made the world at large aware of its oppression and poverty under systems of centralized control.

The decentralization of the world’s capital into the hands of individual investors around the globe and out of the hands of the centralized banking systems of the Cold War era has created a capital and investment pool of money available to all developing nations that does not award its favor based on political connection but is instead based on the performance of the nation’s economy. Credit investors with knowing the truth; truth derived via information available in an instant. Fail the test of the new era of the diverse investor and the money will abandon you. It is capitalism at its best, demanding performance and competition that ultimately generates wealth. The non-performing countries and totalitarian regimes fall further behind. See the former Yasser Arafat and his regime for an example of such failings. Picture his people throwing rocks at Israeli tanks for a vivid reminder. They remain 100 years behind the Israeli’s, stuck in economic hell.

This I think is Enemy’s point about the dual between theory and practice as the world grows smaller. She can correct me if I misunderstood.

This is indeed the focal point of many of the nations that wage psychological and cultural warfare against the US. They are failing in the fight for economic survival because they are late to the game or refuse to play. Witness the French limiting its economy by placing socialistic legal barriers on the amount of hours an employee is ‘forced’ to work. The effect of the legislation tied the hands of the French entrepreneur in tight knots as they tried to compete with the industrious Indians, Japanese or Americans. Capital fled, industry failed or at best struggled to compete. The ultimate failure of such an idea in the shrinking world was completely predictable. Failing to recognize the new era of information sharing, investor diversity and the performance demands of free market capitalism is a ticket to national poverty.

This is not the only reason much of the world hates us. To imagine there is but one reason is to delude ourselves about the complexity of the world. If you listen regularly to NPR radio they will flesh out all their mantra-nized details and invent a few others for good measure for those inclined to hate and blame their own country. It is my opinion however that economics is the major force behind the rage. The Cold War ended with one economic super-power because our system has proven itself to be the one known dependable model for producing wealth and a modicum balance of the wealth for any nation. This will end in time. America will not always be the super power of today precisely because the world grows smaller and a world that wishes for economic success measures itself against the competition. We will have to continue to compete. It is the nature of the system.

With these beliefs of mine, how would I address Enemy’s concerns about duality of good and bad?

I was actually working that point in the previous post. In a new era where digitization of information creates a shrinking world of new opportunity, how do we attend to the spiritual and cultural aspects of the changes? I sat in a seminar recently about the digitization of my profession of architecture. Remarkable and eye opening changes for the practice of designing buildings waits right around the corner. In the seminar one remarkable thought caught my attention. The lecturer asked, “What are the 3 things that our economy cannot produce by digitizing information?”

The answers were leadership, relationships and creativity. With this we start to zero in on Enemy’s question a little.

I can’t say how we as a nation or collection of people bring the have-nots to the table. It may be as harsh as understanding they must bring themselves. Apart from that question of economics, here is what I hoped to convey in the previous post.

As the world grow smaller as a result of the sharing of information and capital asset we inherit the remarkable opportunity to spread what we believe to other hearts around the world. You might call it leadership or relationships. It is the thing we cannot digitize inside another’s heart. And so I asked the question, “What will we teach the little ones at our feet?”

You see, I believe the natural law of good can prevail as long as we are willing to promote it within ourselves and within our underlying generations. And yes, unfortunately there will be times when we are forced to fight for the natural good we believe in. A terrorist will suffer under the truth exactly as a totalitarian regime will suffer. Each is doomed by the free flow of information in an open world. It is a matter of time for this failure to occur with the terrorist. This is the positive message I want to spread among you. Money and economic power will come and go as competition and the influences of the marketplace divine. Values, beliefs and the power of natural good will not vacillate when used properly. It is our responsibility to win this war using the opportunity that a shrinking world lays at our feet. Opportunity knocks.

This was my question of yesterday. What will we teach the little ones at our feet? My answer is that we teach the natural law of good. Terrorism is temporary. It is transient in the way that communism and marxism were transient, doomed by its own inability to honor mans natural inclination toward freedom, self-determinism and the natural law of good. Darwin was not wrong.

Diligence is required. Teaching is required. The careful and sensitive use of bandwidth as we communicate our values to the world is required. Hating and blaming America is a fool’s game with no identifiable goal.

The good will prevail.

What will we teach the little ones at our feet?

What will we teach the little ones across the globe?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Power of the Voices

Simpson book and television special canceled by NewsCorp.
I will consider this a victory for all of our voices. Power to the People? Perhaps.
Time will tell where the biggest pressure came from, but for now lets pat ourselves on the back

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Who Wins When the World Grows Small?

The world continues to march toward what the futurist of yesterday correctly labeled the era of globalization. As the internet and global communication systems expand the reach of all people we find the improbable of yesterday playing out in front our eyes. A man in Seattle plays a video game online with a Brazilian homemaker as his opponent. With a few keystrokes a trader of commodities in China buys American corn to be delivered in 2009. On that same day in 2009 citizens of Chile will wear shoes made in China while watching a laser screen made in Japan. We all know these things. They are a part of our globalized world.

I should point out that our working knowledge of this globalization deals with information transfer and the conduct of commerce. What is unknown to most of us is what this shrinking of the earth means to the end place of the world's spiritual integration and our systems of values, the moral code that defines right from wrong.

The values taught in America, and by logical extension, the values taught around the globe are the values of a previous era. The idea that the world is ten years old was a popular notion of the 1990's decade. Our fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers have been at work teaching the children far longer than the existence of our 10 year old shrinking and net connected planet.

No one can teach us the future. Where we are headed is a matter of reaction and adaptation. I am thinking that we will react and adapt as our personal values and convictions direct us. As the world narrows, teaching can come from distant sources. How could an Italian grandfather teach a 26 year old American in 1976? It would be unlikely, a familial relationship being the most likely manner. Today however a blogging grandfather in Italy can reach a young American in an instant and transfer all of his opinion and belief in a way that was not imagined in 1976. The world shrinks and the pot of information thickens not because we know so much more but because the information is more readily available to the seeker.

A wise observer of these trends would naturally question the process for transferring our values and our spiritual conviction to the generations beneath us.

In France a college professor moves away from his university podium. Clipping the microphone to his lapel he moves closer to his students, delivering a condemnation of the mercenary and evil culture of the United States. He rages against our president and our lifestyle. Careful observation reveals he does so wearing Levi’s. His bottle of Coca Cola remains behind at the podium. The young French instructed to hate march out to burn US flags in the street, ever careful to not get gasoline on their Gap t-shirts.

Muslim children are told Americans are evil and exist to be murdered. The facility in which they are taught is funded by America’s need for oil. It is a need that fuels an economy that outpaces all others and often feeds the world with aid and generous charity.

A Venezuelan leader comes to the United Nations and criticizes the evil empire of America, while his own country faces immense poverty and a divide in rich versus wealthy that makes the debate of America’s similar problem laughable by comparison. A well known American actor Danny Glover hoists the deceiver onto his shoulders, ignoring that his own success and wealth have been granted by the American system.

My own opinion is that the overriding factor in why America is hated is rooted in becoming the one superpower. We are the winner of the Cold War era. Our success and ascension is owed in large measure to our tendency toward hard work, but perhaps more importantly to our generosity and our supporting system of values and spiritual faith.

I also think this opinion of mine is meaningless when viewed in a globalization context. The larger view would expect that the term ‘super power’ will soon be extinct. What will define this globalized world of our grandchildren? I propose that it may be the natural law of good at work in a self sustaining spiritual system. The good will manifest in action. The opposite possibility will occur if hatred, violence and barbarism become the idea embraced by the majority. Many in the world will need to transform their values in order to survive in a unified world.

Who wins when the worlds grows small?

Before you answer, understand that I ask the question not expecting that the answer will be America, or Iran or China or North Korea or Argentina. I ask instead which side wins when communication is global and the world knits itself together, expecting that the answer lies not in the new formation of republics or dictatorships, but rather that a spiritual conviction and teaching will win the day.

Many of you might want to comment that the answer lies in electing Al Gore not George Bush. This misses the larger point of the concept of a smaller world. I believe we are headed elsewhere as we shrink and communicate universal spiritual views. We move in a direction that the Creator may have always had in mind. We move toward a universal grant. A time of decision. A grant of peace on earth or hell on earth as we forge what we believe within a small community that paradoxically spans across the globe.

What can cause us to change our morals and spiritual convictions? Would it be the weakness of what our parents taught us? Is this just as true for a young Muslim boy taught to hate Christians or a young Muslim girl taught that she has no self rights? Can that be overcome? Can an American child be taught to overcome religious bias?

The world grows smaller. What voice will we use? I trust the voice we want the world to hear is the voice that is persistent and soundly grounded in the natural law of the good.
Who owns the strongest will and the strongest voice in a shrinking world? Who owns the strongest spiritual teaching?

Who wins when the worlds grows small?

What will we teach the little ones at our feet?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Double Transgression

My mother told me that I could not learn a thing from watching television.

She was very wrong.

For example, I learned a valuable cultural and behavioral theory from a television show recently.

My enlightenment occurred while watching Curb Your Enthusiasm. For you intellectuals that obeyed my mother and do not watch television, that’s an HBO show written by Larry David, the creator and writer of Seinfeld.

Larry David makes me laugh; right out loud while sitting on the couch.

The theory, according to Larry’s agent Jeff, is known as the ‘Double Transgression Theory’.

It sounds pretty important with profound psychological implications dripping off its every letter.

It goes like this:

Imagine a dog that has peed on the floor. He has been caught with his leg lifted, and is being herded to the yard to be disciplined. The dog knowing he is already in trouble snatches the plate of ham off the table on his way out. The dog is theorizing that since he is already in trouble and will have to suffer a punishment, why not get another transgression out of the way at the same time, resulting in one punishment rather than the two he would get if he snatched the ham later in the day.

Of course a dog thought of this. Who else?

I like this theory.


You may feel free to report to my mom that I haven’t called her because I have been diligently studying the cultural implications of the double transgression theory and its effects on my personal behavior when confronted with conflicting choices. That will impress her. She likes long sentences like the ones George Will invents.

But, please don’t tell her where I learned this information. She doesn’t like being wrong.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Are You Kidding Me?

And now we see that Fox News will host an interview with OJ Simpson over the Thanksgiving Holidays. The subject of the interview? According to Fox, Simpson will hype his new book by discussing how he would have killed his wife and acquaintance; that is if he had really done so.

I have this to say to Fox News. This is shameful.

I’m not sure anything else needs to be said. It is simply, in my mind, inarguably shameful.

You know the saddest thing here among many sad things? People will watch. People will buy the book. Good ratings will embolden other communication outlets to continue the long slide into sleaze with similar repugnant programming.

Shameful and Disturbing.

Addenda: Below is my email to Fox columnist Mike Straka

It’s total and complete BS that Fox will give air time to this sickness and that you paint it as giving the public what they want. OJ exists because the media shares in his thirst to make money off of sleaze. Fox has a choice. The public is often just watching the television when they are broadsided with this filth. Others, as you say, will specifically tune in, support and be glued to this sick discourse. To defend that Fox has no choice but to give us this at our request misses a larger point of moral clarity and responsibility and feebly defends a filthy national conversation. This is truly shameful of Fox.
Rick Riddle

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Webster’s definition of circumlocution
Circumlocution: a roundabout, indirect, or lengthy way of expressing something.

My mother in law is 86 years old. The large number of years has allowed her to master the fine art of circumlocution. She visited here Sunday while our daughter and our grandson were in town. She wandered around the house a bit then apparently noticed that I needed someone to listen to. She told me she stopped at the bank on her way over, but forgot that it was Sunday and so it did her no good at all since the bank was closed.
I asked her if her bank provides her a debit card and ATM card. This was her answer.

Mom-In-Law: “My neighbor Rita across the street is 92 years old and sometimes her daughter comes to take her to the bank. Now, her daughter understand is 70 herself and she can’t drive at night because of her glaucoma. Anyway, she and her husband only have one car because they don’t really need to go anywhere. I think it's a Buick. No, wait maybe its a Ford, oh shoot I cant remember. Anyway, sometimes they go to WalMart but she told me she really likes Target better anyway because of the prices. The only thing about Target is that it is so far to walk from the parking lot. I don't go to the one near me, there's one over by, oh what's the name of that street? You know the one I mean, by the coffee store that sells that Star-something coffee? Anyway, back when Leonard’s was downtown you could take the trolley and it would take you right up to the door and you didn’t have to walk at all. Nowadays it seems like everybody has a big parking lot and the stores like Target are so big I get tired before I even find what I want. Anyway, she said her husband won’t go into Target because the lights make him dizzy, but the lights in WalMart are different and so it doesn’t bother him in there as much.
Most of the time when they come to get Rita they will come over and say hello to me. One time she brought me a bundt cake that had these big pecans in it. I can’t really eat pecans because of my dentures but I didn’t tell her that, I just took a piece and told her I would eat it later. I don’t really understand why someone would leave big old nuts like that in a bundt cake anyway. I don’t think Rita cooks much either so maybe she just never taught her how.”

Me: What about the ATM card?

Mom-In-Law: “That’s why I was telling you about Target. They have those machines there that I see people putting a card in and I don’t really understand it. Rita said they don’t make mistakes. But, I remember when typewriters first came in and some of the manufacturers put the keys in different places from the other people so you never really knew if you were typing a ‘s’ or an ‘a’ unless you looked at the paper. After a while you got used to your typewriter and you didn’t have to look up, but then they would get you a new typewriter and it would be the other way around and you had to relearn it all over again. It took them some years to decide to make the typewriters the same. Anyway, it just seems like all new things have to have the problems sorted out with them. After all airplanes still crash and they have been around a long time. I still remember visiting Meacham Airport when it opened and that was 80 years ago. Daddy took us out there and I remember sitting on his shoulders so I could see. He was tall. My boys were tall like him, but now Brown Eyed-Girl isn’t tall like that. Anyway the airplanes were some of the type that only hauled cargo and the US Mail. A lot of times the planes had to stop for maintenance somewhere and the mail never got to the place it was supposed to go. Anyway, I don’t want any of those cards, I don’t trust them.”

Me: I see.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Babbling Is Ever a Folly

I am amused that institutions that thrive on performance and the continuation of positive effect are content and comfortable with a deadlocked government.

This seems at first glance to be paradoxical. If the institutions that value progressive and positive movement, such as business, are happy to see the government elected by the people drawn to a conflicted standstill, what does this say for the government?

In a more perfect world it would follow logic that a properly functioning republic form of government would be an aid to the welfare of the people governed. If we define ‘aid to the welfare of the people’ I believe it would fall into a framework of economics and supply of need that is economics based. However for many years now we see that business and Wall Street typically function better for the people when government is stricken with partisan deadlock.

That last sentence is my opinion, also supported by other writers and record keepers. It could be argued that significant legislation such as welfare reform has in fact aided the populace all around and that it was affected by a divided government. I would counter my counter argument by pointing out that welfare reform was a 'too long coming' compromise between political parties hammered out over documented failings that were statistically conclusive. In other words, it was a ‘no-brainer’.

In the beginning the founders of the country forged law and set the tone for growth in an orderly fashion, though it can also be pointed out that its efforts fell short of respecting the original inhabitants and could not avoid a civil war within the US. Nevertheless I think the legislation designed and passed by early congresses helped us set an example of a thriving and successful republic for the rest of the world.

Now we have seemingly arrived at the point where the lack of a functioning congress brings a period where the performance institutions that surround us applaud and breathe a sigh of relief.

Is it possible too much legislation is the culprit? Is it possible to make too many rules?

I will take you weirdly out of context for a moment and I readily confess to the digression being significantly skewed, but if we take professional sports as an example of an institution that values progress and is non-ceasing in its efforts to transcend toward its ultimate perfection, we know that the players, managers and coaches are under significant scrutiny.

Managers that cannot bring success and players that do not measure up by viable measuring standards are released and others are given a chance to prove they are better capable of delivering positive results. In the case of the Texas Rangers this season the manager was released because the players rejected his extensive use of rules, including what they could wear on an airplane, dictates about uniforms, and clubhouse hours and more. Two teams have gone on the next season to World Series championships the year after firing this same manager. A close friend of mine, employed in professional baseball for the past 32 years, tells me this is for no other reason than that the players are able to return to playing baseball without the oppressive managers rules that regulate everything except their performance. They are so relieved to be rid of the oppression of too many rules that they perform way above expectations the following year.

This sounds familiar to me when I think about this phenomenon of business being happy with the congresses ability to do nothing.

Maybe we are altogether better off to suspend the rules making when it now takes experts to interpret only one of the hundreds of rulebooks before us. Maybe Wall Street is on to something worth examining.

Ben Franklin said, “Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a folly.” I think I would have liked Ben Franklin a great deal.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election Reflections Part 1

I am going to break my self imposed ban on writing about politics for a series of 3 or 4 posts. I really should say that I will be writing about political culture. I will tell you that my tolerance is very low for interactive discussion that devalues another’s opinion and I really won’t tolerate that behavior in the comment box. Consider yourselves forewarned.

In fact that idea is the subject of this initial post. Is it just me or have we sunk into new lows in our political discourse? This is not a new observance for me, I have been aware of it for several years.

I participated in a discussion on a video recently. The video consisted of an exchange between CNN reporter Aaron Brown and cartoonist Aaron McGruder. During McGruders hateful diatribe against the president he states that “Beliefs don’t mean anything if you are stupid.”

This comment was met with resounding cheers from commenters that believed it to be a remarkably intellectual statement. I don’t see it that way. I think the comment is soundly failing in logic, compassion and benevolence.

In my mind it is a remarkable display of both arrogance and ignorance that accompanies a mindset of hatefulness. I pointed out to the commenters that it is perfectly possible to have beliefs that effectively guide your life even if we might not have graduated from a northeastern prep school. Actually I used Forrest Gump as an example in my rebuttal trying to help them understand that the fictional character Gump had a profound belief in the power of love for his mother and for Ginny, and that his beliefs were (while fictional) nevertheless meaningful.

I was thinking in a philosophical context that separated the statement from its political hatefulness and placed it instead into the context of human reasoning and simple examination of its base logic.

As you might imagine I was immediately told that I was comparing Bush to a retard and that that somehow proved their point that I was defending the president and this made me stupid as well. The discussion culminated in a commenter declaring me a 13 year old f **** retard. If you would like to follow this predictable and sometimes bizarre discussion it can be found here . I am the commenter Sleepy7.

Now it is important to know I am essentially a political independent and cast no particular lot with either party. As a matter of information you can consider me a limited government advocate. A deadlocked Congress is a wonderful thing to me since it means the government will not actually function except in emergencies, an assessment with which Wall Street agrees.

I do enjoy an intelligent and reasoned discussion. The problem I am seeing across our country is that the process of discussing points of politics or culture often digresses into one party calling another one nasty names if you are not a member of their ideological camp.

In my opinion one of the hallmarks of intelligence and the development of useful social discourse is the ability to listen and accept that another’s position and understanding is important and meaningful to them even if we disagree with their opinion. The fact that they hold a different opinion is not the same as delivering a death sentence to our own beliefs.

In the case of the ‘you tube discussion’ it appeared the audience was unable to excise the intellectual examination of the logic of McGruders comment from their intense hatred of conservatives and the president. The fact that I would challenge the statement immediately set me as a conservative enemy in their mind and the hateful venom was quickly ejected. What is comical to me is that Bush is far too liberal for most conservatives and yet is widely despised by liberals. It’s a strange and hateful political world we occupy. I would leave everyone with this thought. Not everything in our lives or judgment carries political party implications. Perhaps we could all act in a more thoughtful and reasonable manner when dealing with our neighbors beliefs?

Beliefs do mean something to anyone that holds them; even if you are not a northeastern seaboard ‘blue state’ cartoon artist that is all too ready to dismiss the beliefs of those he considers inadequate.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Scatter Shot Election Tuesday

According to Rush Limbaugh he would like to slap Michael Fox 'back to the future' for confusing the electorate and telling little white fibs. However, Limbaugh say it is a difficult task since Fox will not sit still long enough.

Reports from the NFL yesterday said Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard was questionable for the game because he pulled his groin last week. Hmmm…I did too, but I think I could still play football.

A man in Detroit this week was arrested for assaulting his wife. He claimed he grew tired of her ‘looking at him the wrong way’. Clearly, more practice ‘looking at him the right way’ is required.

Just kidding…no hate mail please. Defenses of the slandered individuals are also not required.
However, I would like to hear your sex stories from the weekend.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Following the Piper Across the Illogical Divide

It’s late on a Saturday evening and for some reason I am reflecting on a summer day in June of this year. I was watching the Yankees play the Red Sox on television and the Yankee fans were viciously booing their own player Alex Rodriquez.

This post is not necessarily about baseball, so don’t hang up the phone just yet.

What I am really thinking about is a cultural phenomenon that presents itself for inspection often. Many of us might use the colloquialism ‘piling on’ to describe it. Or we might also call it ‘follow the leader’ or being ‘on the bandwagon.’

What Yankees fans were doing was booing one of the games premier players, and odd to the point of illogic, one of their own players in a situation in which his positive performance would be instrumental to their goals as Yankee fans.

I see this often. My take on this is a simple analysis really. I think we often behave in a herd mentality to our detriment. A talk show host or someone on the New York sports scene decides to jump the case of Rodriquez and soon the unthinking herd has picked up the beat and the next scene observed is the thundering roar of complete illogic.

From Florida elections history we are told that elections are rigged and our vote does not count. The Democratic Party confesses it must now re-educate its voters to understand they really should vote because their vote actually does count. Once again the bandwagon effect plays a part in an illogical action from voters based on the wagon loading voice of the party’s leaders themselves.

We watch the disgraced Ted Haggard place countless thousands on the anti-gay bandwagon while he pays for gay sex on the quiet. The anti-gay beat resonates across religious America with intense fervor as the wagon grows tall with followers of the Haggard position, no personal thought required; we’ll just follow gay Ted to loud and profane illogical conclusions.

It is not a crystallized thought with me at this point, but I am moving toward the idea that we are often simply too cowardly to act on our own thoughts. We find a chorus we are comfortable singing and then we find many others to sing it with, abandoning additional thought. It matters not that the song doesn’t belong to our heart or even represent our soul’s reflection. Rather it is the easy out, the repetition of another’s thought brought forward into reality without a proper gestation based on individual thought.

So we join the chorus that sounds more or less socially presentable to us, one that makes us acceptable to others. We do it because the consequences of being different or disputing the logic of the masses is unpleasant. This failure in stepping away from the tribe is apparent in history. If it were not true, then Hitler would not have done the damage he did and fanatical Muslims could not so willingly kill from atop their bandwagon of immense hate carrying the illogical notion that the service of virgins is the reward for the murder of fellow humans.

I say these things because I believe in a natural order handed down by the Creator. I believe all things are presented in the good and that evil originates from our failures to understand or correctly implement the natural law.

This might sound mysterious, but for me it is as simple as listening to the inner soul or perhaps what we think of as heart. If the heart and mind feel good and you do not suffer from psychosis, then I propose we are working in the natural order. If it somehow feels wrong then perhaps we should consider if we are atop another’s bandwagon instead of riding comfortably inside our own set of values and God granted abilities to discern good from evil

I fear the possibility that I follow the Piper across the illogical divide too often. I pray that it isn't true. I wish to be brave enough to ride on a bandwagon of one called 'me', walking in the good with logic in hand.