Christian Groups Claim Pro-Atheist 'Stealth Campaign' in Nicole Kidman Fantasy Film 'The Golden Compass'
You're gonna ruin it! Not cool.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING.
This simple statement is perhaps the definition of American life in the early 21st century. It haunts me. It infuriates me. Every moment I spend awake, every personal and professional interaction I have, every piece of information that manages to penetrate my consciousness reinforces this simple truth. We do not care what is. We only care what we think it is.
I sell and support a piece of software. It's a simple program but contains a great deal of functionality. When I train my clients in its use, I often end by telling them two things. 1) If you can't remember or can't figure out how to do something, don't spend an hour trying to find the answer. Call me and I will give it to you. 2) If you find yourself thinking that there has to be an easier way to do something, there probably is. Call me and I'll tell you. Of course, when they do call, I charge them for my time. My time is about 100 bucks an hour. Their time is worth considerably more, and it is this aspect I try to impress upon them. Don't waste several thousand dollars' worth of your time to save (usually less than) a hundred bucks on mine. Don't scour the net trying to figure out why this function is not interacting with that program. I've already done that, or I can do it faster than you. I tell them these things to nurture the relationship and hopefully turn it into many more direct and indirect sales and services. I also need to combat the dangers of perception. If they think the product is worthless, then it is. It doesn't matter that 10 minutes on the phone will correct their mistake or remind them of the training or (too rarely) help them understand why the software won't do what they think it should do. As soon as that one deal gets screwed all to hell because Mary the temp couldn't figure out which buttons to press, I've lost them. And I've lost everyone that they'll tell about it. When someone can type a keyword and find a hundred other programs that claim to do what mine can, I have to make sure that those keywords never find their way into the search engine.
And so it goes with every aspect of our existence. No time to read the paper at home, I'll do it at work. No time to read EVERYTHING at work (and not supposed to be doing it anyway), so I'll just scan the headlines and read what's interesting. Usually sports and gossip, right? If there's a disaster, maybe tune in to check on those poor people. Everything else is just the headline.
You know that secondhand smoke increases your chance of lung cancer by thirty percent, right? Surely you've read that. But what you didn't read is that the average probability for a nonsmoker (in the absence of other factors) developing lung cancer is about 0.5% to begin with. So you don't go from 0% to 30 % risk by sucking down smoke fumes at the bar. You're increasing your risk of 0.5% by thirty percent OF THAT (0.15%), which puts the actual increased risk at 0.65%. Amazingly, with that bit of information, your risk of getting cancer from some asshole's cigarette just went down from 3 in 10 to less than 1 in 100. Not to mention that the increase only applies to those who consistently (as in, most of their time) breathe second hand smoke. But the headline/scan method that the media encourages only provides the 30% INCREASE(!!), which is what leads to to all the crap I have to take when I'm standing outside trying to enjoy a goddamn cigarette.
The best part of the above example is that I just made those numbers up. I read something like that somewhere recently, but who's going to check? Who has time? Especially if it's coming from the NYT or MSN or (God forbid) AOL. Surely we can believe THEM. Of course we can. That's why I continue to get email encouraging me to boycott gas companies on a certain day or warning me about the latest threat to my income or well-being. You might run out and check my numbers and comment and criticize, but an actual journalist working for an actual publication? And even if you did, who's going to read it? Who's going to scan through a thousand comments to find yours - the REALLY truthful, unbiased one?
It doesn't matter what IS. There is no single TRUTH, only infinite variations of perception and no way to change it.
It torments me. We live in a time and place in which we have access to SO MUCH information and we still surrender our reason to those who exist solely to twist it in one direction or another.
At least, that's the way I see it.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I don't know why I read Dinesh D'Souza anymore. I always promise I won't and then I do. I don't know what I hate more - the ridiculous persecution complex or the mind and back bending rationalizations he uses to justify it.
Anyway, at least I found something good in the comments section.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
His name is Oliver and despite his signed and sealed purebred assurance papers he turned out to be some kind of mutant dog. Oh, I’m not talking about a fifth leg or anything, just a random recombination of recessive traits that saw to it he’d be five times his expected size with random colors exploding in tufts of hair across the entirety of his body. I don’t quite think Oliver’s fetish for growling at leaves as they blow across the pavement in the wind constitutes mutation, but I offer it here for those who think weirdness in a dog’s genome is followed by weirdness in its attitude. As a tiny puppy he fancied sleeping in one of my ball caps, even pulling it from my head to do so. Now, a good running leap yields upwards of 300 PSI per paw, punching hearts out of human chests, as he sofa-stalks passers-by through the front window.
Perhaps in his canine zeal for Thanksgiving, Oliver, last week, ate an entire dirty diaper. No ladies and gentlemen, not just the diaper contents, the sudden shock of a six week old’s valiant attempt to self-launch into space, but also the diaper itself, Baby Elmo decal and all. My wife awoke to change and to feed the baby for the third time during the night, not exactly making it all the way to the Diaper Champ (genies freak us out) in the next room. Come alarm time, only two diapers were to be found. We thought we’d lost it. We thought we were too tired and hadn’t remembered correctly. We even came up with random sleepwalking tales and matrices of denial to explain away the missing poopy diaper.
It all became clear about 36 hours later when Oliver began pooping out tiny blue absorption crystals and undigested Elmo feet on the order of thrice a day. (Yeah, I said thrice! What’s it to ya?) Poor thing didn’t get the full re-recycled load out of his system for another 2 days thereafter. Interestingly enough, it was as if nothing was wrong. He ate his breakfast on every such day as normal. He never looked sick or depressed. He played as he normally would and bruised three of my ribs after catching a glimpse of a squirrel through the window, as is customary in my household.
Disgusting though the prospect may have been, I was rather impressed. Sure, I’ve been of the uninformed opinion that a dog’s immune system is among the finest known to the animal kingdom, and by animal kingdom I mean downtown Rochester. I’ve heard all the exaggerated stories about dog saliva saving precious lives and the expert canine stomach tolerances to the world’s nastiest swill. I’ve even witnessed Oliver, himself, finding and eating something that I can only describe as a raw, under-dumpster squid. Still, the diaper incident seemed somehow different, somehow impressive. It was a feat.
I found myself coveting Oliver’s immune system, at least as it relates to his digestive tract. It’s as if he had built-in super-Tums. I eat one bowl of bran flakes and my wife has to get a soundproof room at the Best Western.
So, though I have never quite understood the people who give pets all-dog birthday parties with little hats or who send signed cards between cats, I am now one of them. I am setting up a trust for my dog, a trust that will require Oliver to write a last will and testament. And, as his owner, advisor, and poop scooper, I am going to have it put into said will that when Oliver passes, I get whatever gland he has that can happily digest an entire dirty diaper without leaving a trace. Then my friends, then we will feast!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Thank you, Bullet, for the well-wishes up the gangplank to highly obscure bloggerdom. Yes, I very much relish the chance to argue in front of the entire planet, or at least in front of the one, mysterious, unnamed person who caught the rogue wave to My Pants.
I can promise you this. If you began the blog in hopes of one day becoming a blog of note, then adding me to your roster of keyboard debates will certainly get you farther from that goal. I look forward to us plummeting into the abyss together.
Posted by Pockets at 3:48 PM
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Pockets is a friend who has a lot of ideas and a lot to contribute. While his views are not always the same as mine, we share the same love for logic and argument. I have stayed up for days in a row trying to out-think and out-argue this man. So I welcome him as a poster on this blog.
I'll update the site when I can.
Be sure to check out his response to a previous post.
Posted by bullet at 1:53 PM
I see on my poll that I have FOUR votes. I only know where three of them came from, which means someone I don't know has actually seen and read this. And to that person I would like to say, "I'm sorry." I don't know how you wound up here, but I'm fairly certain it wasn't worth the time it took to load.
Posted by bullet at 1:37 PM