Thots and observations about our culture 2008
By Jim Watson
Letter from Glen Tibbits, in The Oklahoman:
A few men who go to Thunder (the OKC NBA team) games feel it necessary to use curse words during the game, in restrooms, and when leaving after a disappointing loss. For men to be talking like this speaks of a heart that's hurting; the overflow of darkness in the heart comes out of the mouth. Wouldn't you rather have blessings and joy coming out of your mouth instead? I pray that these men ask God to clean their hearts and restore them to the men that they should be.
Let me see if I understand Glen's concern: he chooses to attend a sporting event with these characteristics - testosterone-pumped men are rooting for professional basketball, there is a bevy of provocatively-dressed Thunder girls on the court, beer is consumed at the arena, and the men are cheering a losing team. Sorry, Glen, but that's simply an ideal recipe for men to cuss.
Greg states that they should be restored "to the men that they should be"? According to whom? Why does Glen feel he is qualified to dictate how others should behave?
When I was a devout Christian, I kept the Sabbath somewhat holy - I fasted (only juice and water) and spent the day in quiet meditation after church and I would read the Bible each day, often memorizing a verse before going to sleep. I also refused to buy car insurance. Before starting the car, I would pray for a safe trip and for God to protect me, the car, and others from harm. I realized that if I paid for car insurance (beyond the state-mandated minimum) that I would be insulting God. "Lord, I know I have prayed for you to protect my car and I do believe that you will, but, you know, just to be safe (because I really don't think you'll take care of me) I bought some car insurance. Hope that doesn't piss you off. In the name of your son, Jesus Christ, Amen." It really did seem to be a lack of faith if I bought car insurance. Jesus instructs us to believe with all our hearts, with faith and trust. So I did - and I refused to pay for more insurance than required by law.
The other day, I asked a 'Christian' if she paid for car insurance beyond the state minimum. She said she did. I mentioned that it seemed that was an insult to God and a sign that she did not trust the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe. She was aghast, "No, I trust Him." Then why pay for insurance? "Well," she said, "it doesn't make sense to not have additional car insurance." I remained silent and let the absurdity of her comment sink in - it doesn't make sense for God to take care of us and our property and it doesn't make sense to trust implicitly in God's grace and protection. She was somewhat confounded as she now had to wrestle with this conundrum of reason and faith.
From Angels & Demons: A spiritual conundrum
Although he studied religion for years, he was not a religious man. He respected the power of faith, the benevolence of churches, the strength religion gave so many people, and yet, the intellectual suspension of disbelief that was imperative if one were truly going to 'believe' had always proved too big an obstacle for his academic mind. "I want to believe, but its not that easy. Having faith requires leaps of faith, cerebral acceptance of miracles - immaculate conceptions and divine interventions. And then there are the codes of conduct. The Bible, the Koran, Buddhist scripture, they all carry similar requirements - and similar penalties. They claim that if I don't live by a specific code that I will go to hell. I can't imagine a God who would rule that way."
Numerous studies confirm that the more intelligent one is, the less likely one is to be religious. Albert Einstein spoke about religion in an ambiguous way - the religious and non-religious have been searching his remarks for evidence that he was on their side. In May, 2008, a newly unearthed letter, written in 1954, was put up for auction in London. In that letter, Einstein called religion a "childish superstition" and "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses." He described the Bible as "a collection of honorable but still primitive legends." I guess that's about what you'd expect from one of the smartest people in history.
Two of the most influential men on the planet. The Pope heads an institution that doesn't allow its members to practice birth control, encourages large families, and practices delusional thinking and worship with fairy tale antiquated rituals. The other seems to have little regard for human life as he condones and authorizes murder and torture of those who stand in his way or disagree with him. Tyrants both. Together, these two have done much to inhibit the humanitarian progress of the human species and harm the integrity of the USA.
Ron Reese, in The Oklahoman: Your Views January 16, fondly recalls the good old days of more Christianity and less violence. He thinks still more Christianity now can bring them back. Today, Christians predominate in the USA; we're uniquely religious among developed nations. Norway, Iceland, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, the Netherlands, and Denmark are among the least religious countries. Yet all have lower rates of homicide, teen pregnancy, teen abortion, illiteracy, and infant mortality; and greater life expectancy than the USA. They're also more inclined toward peace. Their policy decisions generally are based on rational discourse. In today's world, perhaps we'd be better off relying more on sound reasoning and less on unquestioning faith.
Last April, Pope Benedict XVI declared that hell is not a metaphor, but a place where the damned actually burn in everlasting fire. "It really exists and is eternal even if nobody talks about it much anymore." My Lord, talk about being delusional - and people revere this guy
To call somebody ignorant is no insult. All of us are ignorant of most of what there is to know. If, for example, someone does not believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked. To refer to that person as ignorant is to pay him/her a compliment - one is assuming that he/she is not stupid, insane, or wicked. However, a 2004 newsweek poll shows that 48% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form in the past 10,000 years. Are those people ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked?
Christopher Hitchens asks, in his book, God is Not Great, "With all this continual prayer, why no result?" He then chronicles the horrible results of predicting one's existence on make-believe. Example: Belief in one's personal god makes people want to kill people who don't believe in Him. And God has achieved a mighty large body count.
Gist of a letter I sent to ABCNews.com
RE: the USAirways emergency landing in the Hudson River
Some reasons why the broadcast media has lost credibility:
1. The waters were not "icy" nor "freezing" if the water temp was 40 degrees. We would not tolerate a weather forecaster being so inaccurate, why do we tolerate it from news reporters? The water could be frigid, cold, or something similar, but not icy or freezing.
2. Calling the landing a "miracle" is an insult to the training, expertise, and intelligence of the flight crew. The safe landing and low injury count is due to humans acting appropriately, not to divine intervention (if it were divine intervention or a 'miracle' we have a tough time explaining the planes that do crash and kill people).
3. Was it reae birds caused - the birds crashed, not the plane). Wasn't it just an emergency landing or a water landing? I realize that doesn't make for sensational copy on-air, but it does seem more accurate.
Why do we capitalize the word 'i'? Frank Nichols, a New York-based designer, posed this question to me a while back. I admit I had accepted the illogical practice for years without ever questioning it. It really doesn't make sense - we don't capitalize You or We when they're in the middle of a sentence, so why the pronoun i? I will be more aware of this and sometimes not capitalize i. I will try it and see how i feel about it. More info
I stood and pondered the message on this billboard. The only clue I can find to help me answer the question posed is that the sponsor seems to be the Special Olympics. I assume, then, that the 'R-Word' is 'Retarded'. This billboard asks the reader to wonder and figure it out - thereby making the word even more dominant and memorable. The result backfires - instead of encouraging the reader to erase a word, it is reinforcing the word and making it a part of our vernacular. There are also too many image messages - the eraser competes for attention with the prohibited symbol over the R - which is the dominant message? Is the content asking us to erase the word or prohibit it? Do we really need two messages? A reader typically doesn't have much time to read the message on an outdoor billboard. Is the message conveyed here that the 'R' is prohibited, but the word 'retarded' is okay? Should we replace retarded with the R-Word? Doesn't that seem a bit retarded? There sure is a lot of bad design around. Weak concepts. Weak messages. Weak communication of content Photographed on The Drag in Austin
We love burgers and fries, so here's a burger made of fries, with a delectable spicy sauce with a subtle yet robust hint of ketchup and pickle. This recipe was created and assembled in Greenwich Village, New York City, during the afternoon of September 20, 2008, by part-time chef Jim Watson.
Egossism - Egotism + narcissism. Remember when media pundits labeled the 1980s as the 'Me Decade'? It was due to our putting individual needs and desires first. But the 80s have nothing on '08. I notice so many people who are true narcissists - they are driven primarily by their own egos.
Definition: nar·cis·sism [nahr-suh-siz-em]
1. inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity -
being a normal condition at the infantile level of personality development.
Synonyms 1. self-centeredness, smugness, egocentrism.
It seems that many narcissists are hiding deeper insecurities and fears - the 'me first' is quite likely just a cover so underlying deficiencies can be masked. Maybe this is just an appropriate and expected result of this era of fear-mongering from the government and the media. This commitment to self may help explain why so few people are involved or seem to care about the consequences of The Worst President Ever, climate change, and other social issues. I wonder if facebook, myspace, blogs, and chats have an influence on this - much of this digital socializing encourages self-centeredness - 'tell what you are doing', etc. The illustration to the left, by Ron Barrett in The New York Times, July 2008, is so right-on. It portrays the extent of the universe in the minds of many people. It accompanied an article discussing this trend among us.
Drilling for oil should be allowed in the ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) in Alaska. The USA depends on oil for transportation and plastics - we are a petroleum-driven society. The countries in the Middle East charge us for their oil and keep us beholden to them and their whims (gas costs 78 cents a gallon in Kuwait and 91 cents in Saudi Arabia). They are able to manipulate the world economy. If the USA would process oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve in Alaska (a US state), we could lessen our dependence on imported oil. That would seriously impair the economy of the Middle East and force them to play by our rules instead of our playing by their rules. Peace is not likely to come to the Middle East nor the planet until the economic playing field is better balanced.
Look how tiny the land area is (the red square in the Coastal Plain in the map to the left) and look how desolate the area is (above). Drilling for oil on American land is more important than keeping pristine the land that has such minimal impact on the lives of humanoids. We consumers are responsible for the need to drill for more oil since we refuse to conserve energy, continue to buy inefficient cars, and are unwilling to compromise our excessive lifestyles. Americans have made it painfully clear through many gas shortages and price increases that we love our cars, driving 2 blocks to run errands, flying all over the world for fun, etc. We are excessive. No doubt about it. But we choose to do those things and we enjoy them. And, if we choose to do them, we must accept the consequences - that they require massive amounts of fuel. Having to import oil allows other countries and their power-mad leaders to exploit their bargaining hold over the USA and allows the Bush/Cheneys to attack and kill others in their quest to get more and cheaper oil for us to use. We must look for alternatives. No solution will be ideal - each comes with negative consequences. Those who stand in the way of drilling in Alaska (or offshore) seem to be okay with drilling in other lands, even at the high cost of lives, security, and money. That seems a bit arrogant and short-sighted. So, of course, we should allow drilling in the ANWR. More info.
Give back seems to be the new media and celebrity buzzword. Spokespeople talk about giving back. Just what did they take? Why do they have to give something back? I'm not sure its the right phrase. Giving of one's time, energy, and money to the community or a good cause is admirable - something we each should do. Continually. But we're not giving back - we didn't take time or money from the community or a cause, so how can we give back?
1. I don't understand the phrase, 'get a kick out of this'. Why would anyone want to be kicked? Why do we say that in reference to something good - like getting kicked is good.
2. In Manhattan, I take the two dogs to a nearby dog park. Once, while they romped with their pals, I realized that 'dog park' backwards spells 'krap god'. I'm not real sure what the cosmic connection is between these phrases. Holy shit? Supreme turd? I just don't know. Maybe it will come to me one day in the dog park.
3. Emily coined a neword in an email about my leaving New York City for Oklahoma - she referred to the home state as Oklahome. Nice.
4. Have you heard the phrase, "As much fun as a barrel of monkeys"? Help me on this one. Who has ever played with monkeys in a barrel? Wouldn't monkeys in a barrel be pissed off and desperate to get out? Is that fun? Doesn't it make more sense to say, "As much fun as monkeys at an amusement park." or "As much fun as a barrel of whiskey."
5. Since a teacher teaches, an actor acts, and a baker bakes, does a carpenter carpent?
6. Have you ever heard someone say, "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse" ? Yuck - what's that about? Horse meat, hooves, horse head? I don't get it. Why don't they just say, "I'm so hungry I could eat a big steak (or Caesar salad or a large pizza)", anything but a horse.
I found a new way to waste less. For years, I was getting a cup every time I ordered coffee at Starbucks. I requested 'no lid' since I didn't need one and it was just a waste. Then I bought a reusable plastic Starbucks cup that I took in with me and reused. In April, 2008, I was given a great gift of a ceramic cup that is all white and looks like a paper coffee cup. So, I started using that one at Starbucks. Then I realized, why not take it into every restaurant? Why get a new cup or glass every time I eat out (which is a lot). I keep the cup in my car and rinse it out at the restaurant before putting it back into the car. This eco-friendly ceramic 'I am not a paper cup' was designed by James Burgess and is a double-walled thermal porcelain cup with a silicone top. I used to get 12-15 cups per week. Now with this reusable ceramic cup, I am saving the materials, manufacturing, shipping, storage, disposal, and landfill of about 700 cups per year. i April 22 (Earth Day - a nice coincidence)
I have turned off the ringer on my landline phone at home. I have a recorded message that just says "I don't answer this phone anymore. Please call me on my cell." I had reached my lifetime quota of tolerating telemarketing spiels. I was never quite comfortable with hanging up on a sales rep so I would sit through the scripted pitch. But no more. Its also quite nice to not hear the phone ring at home anymore.
Eathan Harris, an 8-year-old Colorado boy has been suspended from elementary school for sniffing his Sharpie marker in class. The principal wanted to send a warning about inhaling solvents, which is “really, really, seriously dangerous. We’ve purged every permanent marker there is in this building.” Toxicologists, though, say Sharpies are nontoxic and cannot be used to get high. i From The Week
This foto just baffles me. A parking area for wheelchairs? Providing a safe haven for them is considerate but how do the users move from here - do they hobble?
My driver's license expired on December 31, 2007. Flying back to OKC from NYC on January 2nd, I was marked for special security screening - the whole package - double pass and hand search of my stuff, thorough pat down. So, I asked the pat-down guy, "Wouldn't a terrorist make sure they didn't have an expired license or anything to draw extra security screening? In fact, doesn't my stupidity about letting a license expire put me in a category of 'Least threatening'?" That made too much sense, so he just gave me a sheepish 'I dunno' smile. Security measures at airports have been and are absurd and completely unproductive. More about this
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