Beyond Twitter Length Reply To Joanna Brooks (@askmormongirl)

January 2, 2012

So Joanna Brooks (@askmormongirl) asked the question on Twitter yesterday:
if you had to convince a 23 year old that a religious / faith / spiritual life was worth the investment, what would you say?
Over the night she retweeted various answers (one of mine included).  I think about things like this a lot because I find human nature puzzling.  Most of the answers Joanna retweeted seemed to me like the writers of the original tweets already believed in God and religion and was merely waiting for someone to get them an address; something like a radio contest where the first caller would get the prize.  Others responded as if matters of faith were as easy to convince people of as the benefits of a healthy diet. 
Later in the night after I was already asleep @msdefarge replied with what I thought was the best answer to the question:
if you had to convince a 23 year old that a religious / faith / spiritual life was worth the investment, what would you say?
The answer didn’t assume anything beyond the attitude of the person answering which is all that can really be done.  If matters of attitude, values and belief could be resolved with appeals to logic many of the world’s issues would have been resolved a long time ago. Religion and politics would no longer be an issue and, I suspect, we would all be wearing silver jumpsuits and travelling the universe looking for other species that are ready for contact with a species not of their planet. 
What I believe the fact of the matter is that the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the time, common beliefs, assumptions and values in America are disappearing.  There used to be a mainstream that politicians could appeal to that allowed us to make general assumptions about certain things that can no longer be made.  Like all things this change in the American culture this change is a double-edged sword. 
The bottom line is that there is no one way to convince people of anything.  Sharing of deeply held personal beliefs, if done sparingly and in an appropriate setting, has a unique effect on other people’s attitudes but the essence of opinion is that individuals don’t change their mind about something until they want to and what other people say almost always plays the smallest part in that process.  

The One Percent

April 8, 2010

I watched the documentary “The One Percent” today. This is a really powerful documentary about the richest 1% of society in the United States. As a documentary filmmaker Jamie Johnson has greatly improved from his first effort, the documentary “Born Rich” but it seems apparent that he still has some room for improvement. I don’t mean to say that it’s no good (it is good) or that Michael Moore could have done better (he couldn’t, he makes propaganda films not documentaries) but that some of his interviews seemed unprepared.

Let’s take, for instance, his interview of Milton Friedman. Milton Friedman was talking in sound bites and cliches and left himself open for some good questions to really get at the heart of his assertions. Rather than go that route Jamie sounds like a little kid trying to convince a parent they deserve a third helping of dessert.

There are also the scenes when Jamie interviews his father and doesn’t attempt to explain to him what he wants out of the interview, or maybe he does and it isn’t shown. But when his father tries to get out of the interview by saying that he doesn’t have the answers and isn’t a genius (or something along those lines) he lets his father off the hook and lets him get frustrated rather than attempt to explain what he is trying to get out of the interview.

I thought that the best example was the part where they interview the Johnson family economist who comes across as a frenzied sycophant but is never pinned down for specificities when he says things like “you haven’t done your homework” and “you need to think about this”. Why not ask him what needs to be studied and what homework needs to be done and why?

Those quibbles aside I recommend this documentary.

The Crazy Lady Network

April 8, 2010

One of the first things that I do in the morning when I get to work is look at what’s on my Google Reader. One of the first things that I saw was this article about Kate Gosselin getting another show on TLC. Now her getting a new show isn’t so surprising but what is was a combo of a one-two punch of info in the article itself.

  1. [Kate] … has found her new calling: using her role as an ‘example mom’ to help and learn from others”

  2. It’s part of a plan to build on the channel’s growth that also includes Sarah Palin’s Alaska, a travelogue series about the state and its high-profile former governor”

Wait, I’ve seen Kate Gosselin andSarah Palin before and it is almost as if TLC has decided to rename their network something like “The Crazy Lady Network”. They could likely keep the same acronym of TLC if they made it something French like “The Lady de Crazy Network”.

Both of these ladies (and apparently I’m using the word loosely here) have a very difficult time dealing with reality. Palin like to whitewash her past and invents her own reality on-the-fly which is a lot like Gosselin does. It looks like TLC is expecting there to be a market for this but, regardless of one’s politics, I couldn’t imagine who would waste their time watching this.

Krauthammered

April 4, 2010

I got most recent issue of Time in the mail yesterday and boy is it a doozy. In addition to the cover article about Steve Jobs and the iPad (what looks like it amounts to the PR equivalent of a hand job for the most popular kid in class) they included a quote from Charles Krauthammer on the Verbatim page for the current issue. ( The whole issue can be found many places all over the Internet.)

The excerpt is:

American liberals have long complained that ours is the only advanced industrial country without universal health care. Well, now we shall have it. And as we approach European levels of entitlements, we will need European levels of taxation.

I have a few issues with this and the first is: it’s not accurate. This is a typical trick of right-wing commentators who try to indicate that universal health care comes in one flavor; the flavor provided by the likes of England and Canada. This is just not true. Go ask Germany and Japan.

Second, What is wrong with making sure that everyone has access to health care? As a nation we don’t charge for basic education or public safeties like fire protection or the law enforcement. Why do we not provide for people to be healthy? What does that say about us as a nation?

Third, why do these ideas have to live in a reality distortion field where neither side will talk honestly and openly about it? I understand that this is not an issue specific to health care but I feel like this is something important for our country. When people are allowed to die and/or go broke because they can’t afford to stay healthy is akin to allowing someone’s house to burn down because they can’t afford to pay the firefighters or allow a child to not learn to read because they can’t afford to pay to go to school.

Morally it is just wrong and now that the law has passed Krautie sounds like one of my kids who didn’t get their way and has decided to mouth off while he’s pouting.

Potpourri

April 1, 2010

I haven’t posted in a while, mainly because I haven’t felt too inspired to write anything so here are a few random items: things that would be classified as “Potpourri” on Jeopardy.

  1. I finally heard back from The Consumerist “moderator” who referred to my remarks as “nasty and mocking”. I thought I was restrained with what I could have said and often do say to people in real life. This only confirms that they are as smug as they look in the “The Consumerist Team” section (except “Roz” who is the “moderator” and apparently broke the camera when they got to her (him?))

  2. It’s a slow day at work today so I’m reading my Time magazine (I don’t know that there will ever be a suitable electronic replacement for reading things on paper) and came across a profile of Andrew Breitbart. I just can’t imagine being this worked up all the time about anything. I pay attention and I find plenty of things I don’t like but I find ti hard to be “outraged” like the bumper stickers say that I should be. Mostly I’m bewildered but more on that later. I know that cooperation doesn’t sell and make you rich of famous but the polarizing of American needs to stop.

  3. I’m really happy that the Health Care reform and accompanying “Fix-It” bill passed. I didn’t think it would and while there are a lot of points in the bill that are good and some that are perplexing I think that Obama opened himself up to a lot of criticism by not framing the argument as a humanitarian need. I think framing this in terms of what we are allowing to happen to fellow citizens would have headed off “death panel” claims (or at least make them sound absurd the moment they were spoken). And while I’m on it, please just stop the “I didn’t get to vote on it” complaints because that’s not how our government runs. I think there are a lot of people that need to go back to High School and re-learn the government civics lessons again.

@Consumerist #Consumerist Can’t Stand The Heat, Pulls Me Into The Fire

March 20, 2010
I’ve been a fan of The Consumerist for a while now. It’s tough to tell how long because when I find a site I like it either gets added to my Google Reader feed or it gets bookmarked and forgotten.

At any rate, a while ago I signed up for an account and proceeded to “audition” for the privilege to comment on their web site. Apparently I was approved and I’ve been commenting for some time now. Well, I was until about two weeks ago.

About two weeks ago I was evidently banned, as I discovered when I tried to add a comment to a story about a tax withholding calculator provided by Kiplinger rather than the official one provided by the IRS. I really think it makes much more sense to direct people to the official tax withholding calculator rather than directing people to a third party when money and potentially jail time is on the line. But this is beside the point.

Just before the discovery of my banishment from commenting on Consumerist I, along with others, had made some comments on an article of theirs that wasn’t “Consumerist” related but more of something you’d find on a consumer electronics related site like Engadget.com. (I don’t remember which story it was but it was either this story or one like it posted around the same time.) My comment, as I mentioned, was similar to others like it already posted. In fact, if you go to the story about the PSP phone many of the other comments musing about why Consumerist was posting a story of that nature are still there.

What I find ironic is that a snarky web site that is based on criticizing companies for poor customer service bans me for criticizing them for, as I and others perceived, going off-topic. Ironic right? To get all uppity because someone has the temerity to do to them once what they do to others many times a day.

As a disclaimer, so I’m not accused of being ignorant or completely honest I do know there is a page on their site with posting“code”. Also, while I don’t remember what I said exactly I do remember the gist of the message and I also remember exactly what I said in part. I said something like this was the kind of news I expected on Engadget (another snarky site I patronize which apparently doesn’t mind a taste of its own medicine from time to time) and that “my how the mighty have fallen”.

Really? You can’t take that with all that you dish out you get your fans, the ones who care enough to comment and point out how they think you’ve strayed from the path a bit and this is the thanks we (I’m assuming they booted others as well) get for caring?

I’m not going for self-pity here. While I am not going to follow their RSS feed anymore unless they reinstate my commenting abilities (and even then I’m going to think about it for a while) I do want to point out the hypocrisy of their actions.

Falling In My Dreams

March 20, 2010
I’m a pretty sound sleeper, just ask my wife. Last night though I woke up at about 5 am. I’ve started keeping a record of my dreams because I find them fascinating (not that anyone else really would).

One thing that I have found though is that in my dreams I don’t run or jump particularly well. So when I was running in my dream last night and attempted to jump a gap on a walkway I fell. It was if I knew I was asleep and knew that rather than hitting the ground I could wake up and save myself. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t happen again tonight; it’s the weekend.

The New Michael And Janet Question? II

March 19, 2010

Stick with me on this one.  After I posted about Larry Wachowski I couldn’t get the image(s) out of my head. It is true that Larry is more attractive as “Lana” than he is as Larry (although neither is all that attractive) but then it donned on me that there are two other people that look similar and have never been seen together:

Larry (left) as Larry
Larry as “Lana”
“Lana” as Kate Gosselin?

Wachowski Freak Out

March 16, 2010

The Wachowski “Brothers” are freaking me out. Well, not both of them but Larry is. I used to subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine back when they originally published an article about his penchant for cross-dressing and how his then-soon-to-be-ex-wife was calling him crazy-as-bat-shit.

Now I admit that I really loved the original Matrix movie and the duo-sequel they made was alright (better if you didn’t expect the same quality of movie) so I went to IMDB today and looked up some info about the newly-released-on-DVD movie “Ninja Assassin” that I know they were somehow involved in. Well, I then see the credit for Lana Wachowski rather than Larry Wachowski. What gives?

So then comes the research. First I did a Google News search that only tells me that Lana is involved in some kind of unscripted war movie poacking such A list celebrities as Jesse Ventura and Arianna Huffington. Next I head over to Wikipedia where I figure I can get a documented and unbiased story and find out that there is apparently a debate as to whether or not he’s had a sex change.

I can understand that Joel Silver wants to protect one of his meal tickets and that speculation runs rampant when there is no official source for a story, but really. After reading the story about the writing of the original Matrix screen play in Creative Screenwriting (Vol. 10 No. 3) I was convinced that they’ve mostly been lucky.

Victor Champ’s New Nickname

March 16, 2010

Don’t call me George W. Bush or anything but I’ve decided to bestow a nickname on Victor Champ. I’ve decided that, after reading what he has posted so far on his relatively new blog he deserves the nickname of “The Hammer” for hitting the nail on the head in every blog post so far.

Take his latest post about the quasi-rush to support the iPad. I agree that the iPad is a device in search of customers. Maybe we should get Leonard Nimoy on that. I really loved the link to the news story comparing consumer interest before and after the official announcement of the iPad. I felt that same way as most of those responders felt. I was very interested in the iPad before the announcement but was nervious about price, etc. Then the announcement came and its what? A bigger iPod Touch? An ultimate web experience without Flash? (I know it doesn’t support Java either but I believe I could survive without that.)

The most awesome setup for Victor’s latest article was his (is Victor a him or an it? You look at his photo and decide) blog post about HTML5. I knew a little about HTML5 before this article but this is really telling about how far ahead of the implied (by Stevie J) curve they are. Who wants to wait for however long to get their Farmville fix on a $500 device? I wouldn’t. The only thing the iPad convinced me to buy was a Netbook. I love it and, just guess, it does Java and Flash.


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