Friday, October 31, 2008

Fat Guys are Always so Animated

"Are you struggling with body fat?" I hear this all the time on commercials, with miracle cures and potent pills that might lose me some weight, but it'll be because I'm spending all my time in the restrooms, not the restaurants. So I got to thinking. What are the reasons one diets and exercises to lose weight.

Valid Reason: The immediate health of the person. Sure, my ankles hurt, especially when I go up stairs and climb a bunch of ladders...etc... And I don't expect to be running miles, or trying to outrun a bear (and lets face it, in olden times, one reason why being fit was important was so if you did meet up with said bear, you might live). So if immediate discomfort was enough to make me lose weight, I'd do it.

Invalid reasons:

You'll look better, you'll be able to date, you'll be able to get a better job...etc... cosmetically, for some reason, the more muscle and the leaner you are, the more attractive you seem to be. This is a biological trait, probably going back to pre-historic times, that the ones that were strongest, could outrun said bears, and could run miles, would be the ones that ended up copulating with the women. But if you look at it now, being successful doesn't mean running miles or lifting hundreds of pounds every day (although it might help.) The saying "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," certainly applies to this. There are cultures that have existed where fat was considered a label of royalty and luxury, where people who could get fat were admired as people with money (thus to get food) and happiness (quoth Julius Caesar, "I would have about me men that are fat, for they are happy. Lean men have a dangerous look" (paraphrased from my memory)). And certainly, if those cultures existed today, they would look upon the USA as a land of luxury and royalty, because we are all* chubby.

And the aliens that pick up our broadcasts will see that the fat, lazy father is truly head of the household. Especially when it comes to animated TV shows. Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, and in real TV, Rosanne's husband, each were very lovable characters, loved by their wives, and able to be drawn naked (well, except for on Rosanne) because their stomachs hid certain private parts. :) So the aliens will interpret that those who are overweight are masters of their universes. And so they should be. It is the attitude taken up by my cat (who is female), who is big in stature, smug in outlook, and master of her domain.

"But you want to live a long time, right?" Well, it depends on how long you think a long time is. How old is old? 60? 70? 50? Is living half a century enough time to do what you need to do? Would it be better, living a long time, being disciplined about diet and constantly worrying about health, and generally unhappy, or is it better to live an Epicurean life, shorter, but happier? To taste the cheese, the chocolate, and the wine (except I don't drink). As Mark Lowry said, "There are two ways to go, cholesterol and worry, and cholesterol's so much more fun." I agree with him. So, for me, it's not a matter how long I live, but how much enjoyment I get out of the years I do live.

I've seen old people, living with no heat or air conditioning, drinking powdered milk and crusts of bread. And not because they can't afford the food, but for some reason they insist on living that way. I can't do that. Give me the heater (which will one day catch my house on fire, but it makes my feet nice and toasty), and my air conditioner (which is why I have the heater on), and my Hot Pockets, and I shall spend my money to make me comfortable, cause I'm not going to take it with me, and I don't think there will be anyone to leave it to.

It's not a depressing or pessimistic attitude, it's just looking realistically about life. And if you look at TV shows, it's very obvious that fat guys are happy. I would much rather be fat and happy than lean and miserable. Give me the cheesecake, and the ice cream, and the pizza, and I will laugh at the people running in the park when it's 20 degrees outside. And they, with all their muscles, can lift my coffin. They're going to need them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Grocery Store Tabula Rasa. (or, "History is Bunk.")

So I go to Ingles to get groceries (cause we're out of cookies and chips, and no snack food is analogous to chimps not having bananas, or most teenagers not having their ipods glued to their thighs. Anyway...) so I get up to the check-out counter, and it all rings up as $14.92. To which I reply... "that was a good year."

I get a blank look, as if she didn't understand why I would say such a thing. "What?"

"1492, that was a good year."

Blank look...

"If you were Columbus."

"Oh, didn't he discover the world, or something that year?"


Makes me wonder if its all worth worrying about. Why should I, like Bernard, worry about beauty and justice and what's write in this world when the masses are craving entertainment and their latest dosage of Soma, in whatever form. If the public school system's true aim is to produce mindless, credit card carrying zombies that are fit for consumation and pleasure, then no child will be left behind. As for me, Iceland sounds like a great place to live. (See Huxley's Brave New World for references.)

I was thinking about this post this morning (I had put this on Facebook just as a small note yesterday), and thought about what the critics would say. "Well, he's just an intellectual elitist. The public school system is doing the best they can." And to some extent, they'd be somewhat right. But, see, it's a frame of mind, when children are allowed to float through the first 18 years of their lives and not learn the very basics of history, grammar, literature, math, science...etc... Everyone should be smarter than a 5th grader. The date 1492, or 1776, should mean something. You should be able to say 'Romeo" and have people think about Shakespeare, and not a hip/hop artist.

And to indict the public school system for not doing enough to raise the basic intelligence level of American children, to say teachers aren't doing enough, it's partly true. Teachers should be battling against the frame of mind that creates the difficulties they face everyday, from discipline to apathy. Why should students care about even the very basics of education when it's not necessary to know these things in the real world? All it is necessary to do is to work, spend money, enhance the consumer base that keeps the American economy working. American culture dictates that pleasure is the inevitable by-product of our times. (Monkees, from Head.) All else is bunk, as the great Ford would say (Huxley).

(As an aside, the more I think about the Monkees movie, it ceases to be a box office failure and the end of a phenomenon, and more a biting commentary on the very culture that created it in the first place, which is why it failed. With all the ambiguity and drug-induced scenes of nonsense, there was a highly relevant message that reverberates even today. A masterpiece that has wasted away as part of what people simply think of as a 60's pop band.)

The problem is, even as i say the teachers must fight to keep the American mind from closing (Bloom), I know it's a battle that cannot be won, at least, not in this day in time. Because the desire for knowledge, to know and to perceive the world as something more than a fish bowl to be happy and entertain ourselves in, is rapidly becoming a dying cry, lost in the sounds of reality TV shows, blocked from ears sporting ipod buds, drowning in useless news and manipulated surveys, until only something like Jeopardy! is there to remind us that there might be something more out there.

It strikes me as ironic that Bradbury was wrong in his novel Fahrenheit 451, that books would be burned as thought of as illegal. Instead, he was absolutely correct in his short story "The Pedestrian," that the pursuit of knowledge would be seen as aberrant behavior and worthy of mental restructuring. Books aren't simply to be burned, they are to suffer a fate 10 times worse. They are to be ignored.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Insane things heard on the Boob Toob

Sportcenter, during the playoffs, when the Tampa Bay Rays had won a game by hitting a home run.

"What went through your mind as you were about to hit that home run?"

I love how the media comes up with all these questions, that don't really mean anything, but are designed to take up time. As we all know, the 24 hours news reel must be filled up with "un-news," made up news, repeats of news, or just gossip that people might think important or attractive. It wasn't so made before Turner revolutionized the cable industry and brought about the information age (one might even argue that he is the single most important person to media and print since Gutenberg and his printing press, much as Ford was to the Industrial Revolution. anyway...) Back in the 1970's and earlier, before cable, journalists didn't have all day to spurt out information and opinions, they only had an hour or so each night. It was much easier to contain biases and maintain journalistic integrity. Btu now, anyone can go on the air and say pretty much whatever they want, in the name of journalism and free speech, and get away with it. And the citizens of this country, who have thought for years that the news, with Kronkite and Brinkley and Hunt being masters of their trade, was the absolute truth, now take whatever the media (and that includes the AP, Internet, Radio...etc...) tells them as truth.

And while this makes the media powerful and dangerous, it also allows them much room for mistakes and hilarity to show the absolute stupidity that they sometimes demonstrate. Which brings me back to the question above. What would he be thinking about? Sports people have been taught to answer the media with vague nothingness, with answers that would satisfy the tongues and the ears and bring about some sort of nobility, as if they were a part of the gladiators of old, having honor and courage before their deaths. Or they exhibit some sort of modesty that makes them seem meager servants to the great game of whatever, or the commissioners that reign over them (and are taking more and more leeway to control their minions). But shouldn't the obvious answer to the question be:

"To hit the ball."

It struck me as so funny that someone would ask that question, but it also struck me as odd that the answer (which probably thanked God and praised the other team and considered their teammates ....etc...) was everything but the obvious.

2. A news program was giving the nightly body count (which has become almost preferred over politics or the economic forecast of doom.), and they described a 70 year old man, who, after going to the grocery store, had been shot several times by someone else who fled in another car. Upon hearing this, two women in an adjoining business rushed out, and, upon seeing the man barely conscious and bleeding from several gunshot wounds, asked, "Are you all right??" It's like, "Hello!! I'm bleeding!!! Of course I'm okay!!!" Don't know if he lived or not, but he was able to tell police who it was that done shot him.

3. Heard this on a stand-up comedian routine on Comedy Central. And it was odd cause I had thought the same thing myself. Recently a commercial from Direct TV has been airing a modified version of Poltergeist, where the girl looks back at the father from the staticy TV screen and says, "They're Here!!" You've seen the scene, but the dad says, No, we just forgot to switch it to Direct TV from Cable. The creepy thing about this is that they're using a scene in which the kid (the girl) is dead (she died during the making of Poltergeist II). Just odd, which is what I thought when I saw it.

Just some of the oddities I've heard on TV recently. Thought I'd share.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Woodwork Employee

If you've ever filled out a job application created by Unicru, you know that at the end there are a bunch of questions that you must answer. One of those questions I have always found interesting.

"Is it your belief that business are supposed to take advantage of their employees?"

When I first came across it, many years ago, it took me by surprise. I answered, and will always answer, "Yes." This may not be the right answer for the application, but it's the only answer that makes sense according to the free market system.

Businesses must compete to be successful in the free market. In order to do this, they must cut costs, attract customers, make a profit...etc... One way that they do this is by balancing quality of workers with the pay that they give them. You can see this most readily in the sports world, where experienced and talented players are often traded for more, less qualified players that may one day develop into championship-caliber people. Similarly, in the business world, companies must balance having talented, well paid workers and green workers that are less paid, but have the potential to grow.

In fact, the overall goal is to get as much work out of your employees while paying them as little as possible. This sounds cruel, but it's the only way to attain a profit over the long term. Of course, you have to balance the pay scale with the quality of workers that you expect to have. It's a delicate game, but one that must be played in order not to go out of business. Winn-Dixie, who my brother and I worked for, paid their employees very well. They are now gone.

The best way of doing this is, of course, to evaluate each of the employees, see what work they are capable and willing to do at what pay scale. This scale goes with the amount of responsibility that any one worker is willing to accept.

This goes into what I call "The Woodwork Principle." Frankly, the ideal worker is someone who cares very much for the company, is loyal to a fault, will take on a ton of responsibility, but is willing to be paid very little for it.

A hiring manager is taught to locate these people, because they are essential for the success of the company, even if they are never promoted or given the status that the amount of work that they do would suggest that they have. Again, this seems to be a cruel way of handling business. For after all, why would you promote someone that accepts responsibility and works very hard for the company that they are hired for? But this is a good business practice, and every manager should be on the lookout for such "Woodwork" employees.

And frankly, I come from a line of "woodwork" employees. My dad was one of the top sprinkler engineers in the Southeast, especially on working with the CAD system on the computer, but he was never promoted to a supervisory role. My mom and grandmother were excellent secretaries that did most of their bosses' work, but were never promoted above their stations. They were all paid very well, but never achieved the status that should have come with the work that they did.

And I think it should be easy just not to care. But that wouldn't be me. If I were to do just what was required of me, and not expand beyond my horizons, to stretch as far as I could go, it would go against every fiber of my being. I have to be more than what I have been expected of. And maybe I don't get the credit for it now, but I will....someday.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Government and a Brave New World

Well.... I think there's one thing for it then, as the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The government seems bound and determined to dig its way into socialism, nationalizing the banks and playing doctor with our ailing economic systems. It won't let the free market system fix itself (which, admittedly, it did a wonderful job at messing itself up, no thanks to large amounts of greed and corruption stemming from large amounts of unsecured money, loans, and whatnot left over from the bubble bursting in the 1990's. They had to have someplace to put the dough, so they put it in mortgages, bad and otherwise, and now that bubble has burst. It's taking a bigger and bigger government fix to keep everything under control, and soon it won't be fixable.)

As I see it, there is only one way to adapt the government's current path, which is down the slippery slope of socialism, into the current market. And this goes double if Obama gets elected. But for the answer, we have to turn ourselves to Literature for models. I think the best model the government for socialism where a free market system is still able to exist lies in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

I've been saying for years that the world we live in now is much more like the dystopia of BNW than it is the Communistic approach that Orwell did in 1984. The government is much more successful in ruling through pleasure and happiness than it is through fear. Get someone addicted, and they'll depend on you forever, but if they're afraid of you, they'll eventually rebel.

And if you think about it, the government has been providing addictive programs for years now. To be dependent on food stamps and welfare is much easier to work hard and be successful in earning the money yourself. And with the regulations about how much money you can make on the side, it's easier to not be married, not work, and let the government carry you through, with all the computer gliches and red tape and whatnot, than it is simply to make the money needed to do it yourself. And with the economy and available jobs the way they are, it's necessary to do it this way. Jobs are being pulled overseas where they are cheaper to invest in (based on corporate taxes and quality of life, and the absence of unions), and so there just isn't any way to make money here. The interesting thing about this is, that the most valuable asset that we have in this country is our ability to spend way beyond our means. So the companies that are pulling jobs away from the US citizens are actually hurting themselves by keeping us from having the money to pay off our credit cards. (Course, that goes into the idea of "consumerism", where people are renewable resources, and very expendable, which I have outlined in past blogs).

Anyway, so the government is in a position to provide for it's citizens. Food, Shelter, Health Care, and the Democrats and their Media pundits have been preaching that it's our "right" to have all these things, and that the government is obligated to provide us with all the things we need to be Happy They forgot about the whole "pursuit" word. It's "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." There is no guarantee that we will be happy, only that we should be given the freedom to be given the chance to find happiness. But now the government has taken that word away, and now they will have to provide for our happiness.

So if we're going to go the socialist way, which seems certain if Obama gets elected, or probable if McCain does, then we must give every government official a copy of Huxley's Brave New World to show them how it's done.

First, reform the education system, so that people are taught based on their skills, and are not taught equally (this is a good thing, and should be done anyway). Then, place them in jobs based on their skills (sounds good). Whether they make a ton of money or not is not important, as the government will be taking care of housing, food, transportation, health care, and most importantly, entertainment. The extra money that people do wind up with can be used to buy differing methods of enjoyment, through gambling (lottery tickets, which they already do), state run casinos and sports betting, drugs and sex (might as well legalize both, cause prostitutes can benefit the government as well), or other methods of distraction. And money can be given as salary based on the needs of the government to give x y or z to the people. And this falls in line with what is already going on. Sports and entertainment people will make the most. Other things could be decided upon based on what is needed. Law enforcement, teachers, industrial workers, etc....

Also, this falls in line exactly with the type of housing I talked about 6 months ago with Le Corbiseur's architectural plans (see previous blogs) as well as the development of mass transit systems and environmentally friendly methods of transportation. See, it's not all bad. Things could get better, with it all government controlled.

But it has to be everything, or nothing at all. Because happiness cannot be provided for part way. So the officials in Washington are going to have to be prepared to switch to a Huxley model, and convince the other world governments to do the same, or it's not going to work. Because corruption and greed and human nature sets in and destroys it all. And while Huxley banished the thinkers and revolutionaries to Iceland, it's gonna take a much bigger place to banish them if the government screws it up.

So it all comes down to this. If Obama and McCain and the other people in the government want to provide for our happiness, that's fine. We can go socialist. BUT, it must be all the way, or the state of our economical system and our country in general will go downhill fast. And that opens up a power vacuum that our enemies will be only too glad to fill. We will have done ourselves in.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Shorts, 80’s Style: OJ, Tiger, Lego Star Wars, Soaking Rains

Some little things that have been bouncing around in my head for the past few days, snowballs that haven't rolled downhill far enough to become blogs in themselves.


So O.J. Simpson finally goes to jail. Ironically enough, this is one of our generation's "do you remember when" moments. When OJ was declared innocent from (allegedly) murdering his Ex-wife and her boyfriend. The Sports Reporters on ESPN made an amazing statement, that OJ's celebrity status carried him through the trial of the century, a trial that made the careers of a ton of people, and like many stars in LA, was given a pass (for murder, no less, but tons of money will do that). And now, he's found guilty of armed robbery, for attempting to get back objects that prove how great a sports star, how big of a celebrity he won. His celeb. status dried up, his 9 lives died, game over. I talk about this mainly because OJ Simpson fits all the requirements for a classic tragedy. Shakespeare could have written it no better. No celebrity or other figure in my lifetime (save one) has fallen so far, from the height of fame and stardom to nothing, solely on his own actions. He is Hamlet or King Lear or Willie Lowman all rolled into one. The only other person I could think of that fits this pattern would be Michael Jackson.


The US Men's golf team won this year's Ryder cup, and did so for the first time since..... wait for it.... since Tiger Woods joined the team. Tiger should have stayed off the Ryder cup team and let someone else go in his place, because, and I firmly believe this, Tiger was too good to compete in a team event like this. With Tiger there, the other players didn't have to play as well, because Tiger would have pulled them all through (and never did). But now with TW injured, the US team had to pull together and play harder, and therefore, they won without Tiger Woods being there. And this is nothing conscious, it's something that sports team members do instinctively. Why play your best when you have someone like Kobe or Adrian Petersen (OU) or Brett Farve to pull you through? Tiger Woods is amazing, but he should stick to competing with himself, in solo contests, and forget team events, because it makes everyone else better because of it. With Tiger injured, he's not being pulled down to the level of everyone's giving everyone else the chance to catch up to greatness.


Lego Star Wars II was a good game. It told the story as best it could, with the financial restrictions they put on it (they couldn't use the voices of the stars that played in the movies, else it would be mula to those people), and it had a magnificent score playing behind it ($$$ to John Williams). I do think they did a better job with the latter movies, with hiding the mini-kits a lot better. I very rarely had to use any walkthrough with this one. An enjoyable game, but not worth a separate blog. :)


Rained yesterday... a nice soaking rain... it was good for the area. Clean out the air, wash away past living for a little while. Nothing like a day long rain to make things better outside. Maybe it will clear people's heads somewhat, too. A fresh look on life is what is needed, especially in today's world. When God needed to start anew, he sent the rain. Perhaps there is a message in the rain as there was in the rainbow. :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Spore: Jung’s playground.

I love playing God. I think, in some respects, we all do. God made us in our image, and I think, as children, we always try to imitate our parents. Take a look back at the toys we played with as children. In Kindergarten, we coveted the chance to play in the "Kitchen" that Mrs. Ravencraft had set up. Boys or girls, it didn't matter... it was cool to do that... And girls have doll houses and boys have GI Joes (and sometimes the reverse), but all in all, we are imitating life.

Video games have made this even more possible. Sim City has been around forever (well, late 80's), and games like Actraiser for the SNES made creating whole civilizations (I never played Sid Meier's games, so I don't know that much about them.) so much fun. I want to make special reference to Actraiser, because of the unique themes that it carried with it in the Sim part of it. In the end, it said that the goal of a god was to ultimately not be needed, much like a parent would. Of course, much like a parent, it is almost impossible to see a world where nothing bad ever happened, where divine intervention would not be needed. But it was an ending that stuck with me, because the idea of a clock-maker God, one that was popular back in the 1800's, is an interesting one (a god that winds the clock, and lets it run, with minor manipulations to keep everything in check...see the Ancients on Stargate.)

But Spore lets you play God, and then it allows you to truly make something in your own image. And it does it more than Sim-City or Civilization or even Sims would, because you get to create an entire civilization from the cellular level. The choices you make effect the whole path that the civilization takes. The most interesting part of this is that if you let it happen naturally, the creature that is created truly comes from within you. It reflects who you are, and what you believe in.

It starts by asking you if you want to be a Herbivore or Carnivore. This is much like asking you what alignment you wanted to be on most RPG games done by Wizards of the Coast. I was always Chaotic good, in other words, just a little this side of neutral, but with a rebellious streak. For Spore, I immediately picked Herbivore. Don't sit and think, what would be easier in the game, or what would make a kick-butt creature (unless that is your personality, then by all means), but make the creature completely out of the sub-conscious part of your mind.

Jung would have a field day, looking at what people would have created. The interesting thing is to ask, "Why?" you created the species the way you did. Now, some parts of the game are dictated by items, cost of parts, strength of skills associated with those parts, but as long as they're attached in some way, you can hide unwanted items fairly easily.

My Tophian is a negotiator, a socializer, and detests killing. She's (the way I have her made makes her look most assuredly female, which is interesting in itself) a herbivore, and in making the species I adapted it for Speed, Intelligence, and Beauty above weapons and killing. Although I have enough offensive parts to keep myself alive if I need to, if socializing breaks down. I've seen the creatures in the game guides, and I find them repulsive looking. Aesthetics was most important. I wanted something I could care about, not a creature that could mow down others like some Rambo three headed spiked creature.

I've only played the first two parts, and so far I've highly enjoyed it. It's the first game of this type that I've actually found a purpose in, above buying sofas and placing residential blocks around a statue. In my opinion, Actrasier was way beyond its time, and Spore is a full realization of the ideas behind it. And there's room enough for infinite expansion. The universe is a big place.

[I want to put a picture of my species here, but since photobucket is being a pain right now (in other words, I don't remember my password), I'll put it in my pictures here. (shrug)]