Pet Owners and Their Skewed Perception of Cleanliness

This may be my cutest and most controversial post to date.

I believe that in general, or, to put it another way, in large part, pet owners have learned to live at a level of cleanliness that is below the majority of non-pet owners.  They have allowed animals to walk on their carpets, sleep in their beds, and shed hair like Sampson with a crush.  For today’s discussion I am focusing on the two main types of pets, cats and dogs.  So if you have fish or a turtle, you can just sit back without a care in your clean chair.

Here is a real-life story that should serve to illustrate my point.  I won’t mention any names.

I knew someone who had a dog.  This dog was beloved and treated as a member of the family.  I cared for this dog, even though he seemed to want to kill me every time I saw him.  He had heart, and I believe we had an understanding.  Anyway, this dog was allowed to rest on one of the couches in the living room.

The lady of the house believed in cleanliness.  She hired a maid to come by the house once a week to vacuum, dust, and generally keep the place sparkling.  I will say that the house has always been kept in good order.  But they had a dog.  And this dog had hair.

One day the lady of the house noticed that I was not sitting on the couch.  She asked me about it.  I responded that I noticed the couch was loaded with dog hair, and I didn’t want it to get all over my clothes.  She appeared shocked and troubled by this.  How could a house devoted to cleanliness have a piece of furniture too dirty to sit on comfortably?  The answer is a skewed perception of cleanliness.

If someone lives on or near a farm with cows, chances are they will eventually develop a greater tolerance to the smell of manure.  A passerby will get punched in the nose by the odor, but those subjected to the smells on a daily basis will grow increasingly numb to it.  It’s incredible what human beings can adapt to.

When you take a furry animal into your home, you are accepting a decreased level of cleanliness.  Fur (or hair, or any thin strands of animal) will cling to everything.  You might fight the good fight with dusters and vacuums, but in the end you will lose.  Hair will continue to poke into the fibers, and dander will float around until it enters your nostrils.  Eventually, constant exposure and love for your pet will blind you from the unclean reality.  Your tolerance for filth will increase out of necessity.

Your perception becomes skewed.

And people won’t want to sit on your couches.



Hackers: Holding the World Accountable Without Any Accountability

This post is in response to a post by Curtis Entenmann called 1s and Os.  I encourage you to read his post before reading this one.  And if you haven’t looked at our posts on Equality yet (Mine and His) , I would encourage you to take a look see.

Curtis wrote about an anonymous hacker group called LulzSec.  I gathered some info from a few news sites and found a statement issued by the group, which they posted in honor of their 1000th tweet.  Read the statement here to see what they are saying.   This group recently completed a 50 day hacking spree that resulted in attacks on Sony, Nintendo, the CIA and many other institutions.  According to their statement, if we are to read it as any indication of what actually motivates them (who knows?)  they seem compelled to educate the pitiful masses of how vulnerable and ignorant they are, and they are not apologizing for finding the whole thing entertaining.  They have compromised the security and privacy of millions, and they say things like the following:(This is graphic, but I don’t want to censor it so you can see the caliber of people we’re dealing with)

Yes, yes, there’s always the argument that releasing everything in full is just as evil, what with accounts being stolen and abused, but welcome to 2011. This is the lulz lizard era, where we do things just because we find it entertaining. Watching someone’s Facebook picture turn into a penis and seeing their sister’s shocked response is priceless. Receiving angry emails from the man you just sent 10 dildos to because he can’t secure his Amazon password is priceless. You find it funny to watch havoc unfold, and we find it funny to cause it. We release personal data so that equally evil people can entertain us with what they do with it.

I get a sense that they are saying things like this and doing things to evoke a response from the masses.  Perhaps they want to show them how corrupt their leaders and institutions are, and in the meantime make a commentary on how sick and twisted human nature is.  So, like a preachy alt-rock band in the likes of Tool or Slipknot, they are making it an art form to tell the people how messed up their world is.

Here is what they said at the end of their 50 day hacking spree:

Our planned 50 day cruise has expired, and we must now sail into the distance, leaving behind – we hope – inspiration, fear, denial, happiness, approval, disapproval, mockery, embarrassment, thoughtfulness, jealousy, hate, even love,” the group wrote. “If anything, we hope we had a microscopic impact on someone, somewhere. Anywhere.

What is their purpose?  What do they want?  WHO ARE THEY?

Curtis supports their efforts to expose corruption.  He writes, “I for one am all for these “hackers” who aim to expose the corruption around us. A government should fear it’s people, not the other way around.”   Curtis then goes on to say that hackers could even go further by going after our own government and financial institutions.  He believes that it is better to expose corruption in this manner than to live under the influence of it.

Here is my response.

LulzSec and other hackers who act in a similar fashion could have any number of motives.  These motives could be pure and true, or they could be twisted and self-serving.  They are viewed by some as modern-day freedom fighters, exposing the corruption behind our powerful leaders and institutions.  They are viewed by others as criminals, internet vigilantes who put personal and national security at risk.  Very well.  But none of what I just said matters.  Here’s why.

Hackers pride themselves on holding the world accountable to whatever standard they believe they should be held to.  But they themselves cannot be held accountable for their actions because they are anonymous.  I don’t care how righteous or evil they are at the core, they are nameless, faceless, reckless, and dangerous.  Action, any action, without accountability is only subject to the whims of the individual.  And if you take this total lack of accountability and you add the massive amount of power at the fingertips of these individuals, you get worrisome results.

That doesn’t mean that they do not serve some good purpose.  We live in a world where our identities (the personal information that makes up part of our identity) exist on computers.  Too many of us do not understand how vulnerable we are to the leaders and institutions that control our information.  Hackers understand our vulnerability better than most.  Many of them want to expose our dangerous ignorance.  I get that. And that message should be delivered to the people.

But once again, I cannot support the actions of individuals who operate without accountability, and who exercise so much power to disrupt or topple structures which make up our society.

Three Brief Thoughts: Evil Jargon, Good Quotes, and Great Books

Evil Jargon

If there is one thing that I aspire to in my writing, it is clarity.  I want to think clear thoughts, and I want to write clear words.  With clarity comes a better glimpse of the truth.  Language has such a power to communicate the truth of our existence, but it also has an unmatched power to blind us from the same truth.  We build mighty walls around our minds and hearts with empty words mortared by ignorance.  And, unfortunately, we are guilty of building the same walls around those with whom we interact.  When we resort to jargon (words used by a particular group that have  little meaning to outsiders) we put up more walls.  Jargon is in direct conflict with the truth found in Christianity.  Only a fool, or a young child would build walls just to break them down and build them again.  Jargon is an enemy of truth and therefore in direct opposition to the message found in the bible.

Good Quotes

“There are two people who provide the entire world with quotations: Names and Anonymous.”

I wrote that quote.  Is it true, or is it clever?  Does it matter?  It seems to me that most of the quotes that we use come from famous individuals.  Regular people say all kinds of great things throughout their lives, but who cares?  You have to make a name for yourself, or the quote has to be so incredible that people forget your name and you become Mr. Anonymous.  So the next time you see a quote, ask yourself if it’s truly insightful, or if it is something you could have said at a party.

Great Books

I love movies, but more and more I see the advantage of books.  How many times have you heard someone say, “The book was better than the movie”?  In almost all cases the book is more enjoyable than the movie.  The Harry Potter series is perhaps the best modern example.  Is there one person who truly appreciates the books who will then say that the movies are greater?  To claim that the movies are better would undermine the foundation of the series, and prove to everyone that you don’t actually appreciate the story.  Even though Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all-time, you would be hard pressed to find a fan who didn’t believe wholeheartedly that the books were far greater.  The magic of books is found in the intimacy between author and reader.  The author transports you to a place inside of your own mind where the both of you can go on a fantastic journey.  Isn’t that a beautiful thing?  Let’s value great books.

An Unreasonable Belief in Equality: The Longstanding Tyranny of Religious Influence

The Declaration of Independence has something written in it that sounds a lot like it was tainted by religious ideas.  Here is the section.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.- Declaration of Independence 

I’m not going to use the Founding Fathers to prove to you that this is a Christian nation.   Glenn Beck ruined that argument for all of us. What I want to do here is look at this idea of equality.  What is it based on, and why do we believe in it today?

If I pick apart that snippet of the Declaration it reads like something that you probably wouldn’t find in a modern government document.  That part about a Creator being self-evident stands out to me.  Would our leaders write something so bold and offensive today?  Wouldn’t the network news channels be all over that, showing various negative responses from those who believe in the separation of church and state and who fear that our government officials are being brainwashed by religious beliefs?  Wouldn’t there be a call for reason over religious bias? No?  Yes?  Maybe?

It is self-evident that the Creator (God.  Accidental evolution has nothing to do with creation) made all people equal.   The people created by God are equal.  Alrighty.  What about the people who weren’t created?  Are they equal too?  Let’s explore.

To say that people are equal in relation to God is to recognize a quality of God and not people.  It says more about God to say that we are equal than it does about us.  In this way, we are equal because we are all under God’s authority and God’s law.  We all have the divine spark, the breath of life, the spirit given by God.  Under God we are all in equal need of God for life and purpose.  In relation to God our physical differences take a back seat, and we see ourselves as God sees us… as spiritual beings.  Equality makes sense in relation to God because it is a reasonable consequence of a belief in God.  If God is God, we are equal in our dependence on Him and we share an equal place in the Universe as His creation.  Where I get confused is why the reasonable non-believers believe in equality.

A popular saying among those who don’t believe in any divine creator is, “Show me the proof.”  Very well.  Now let me ask you to show me the proof that we are all equal.  Show me the evidence for equality.  How does your reason lead you to believe in such a faith-based idea?

Will you say that the government told you it was true?  Did the Constitution tell you it is so?  Has society beat it into your brain that all men and women are equal in the eyes of the state?  Did your parents tell you?  Why do you believe in equality when there is so little evidence for it?  Is it because it feels nice to say that we are all brothers and sisters?  Be careful, you’re starting to sound like a believer.

Open your eyes to the world around you.

Physically, people are far from equal.  Some are taller and stronger, and some are weak and sickly.  There are those whose brains don’t work so well, and those who understand calculus without much trouble.  Some don’t seem to be able to lose weight and some can just eat whatever they want and stay skinny.  You’ve got Mr. Muscles and Mr. Skinandbones living side by side believing they are equal.  Yet, clearly we are not equal in the physical realm.

Socially there isn’t much equality either.  You’ve got rich people and poor people.  You’ve got white-collar and blue-collar workers.  Some have millions and some live on the streets.  Certain groups of people experience  regular racial discrimination.  You’ve got the Haves and the Have Nots.  Where’s the proof that we are equal?  Don’t look to society for evidence.

So what are you basing this unfounded belief on?  Are we all equal in some abstract deep sense?   You believe in everyone’s right to happiness and a good life.  I’m no better than you and you are no better than me.  This sounds great, but where is it coming from?  Is it the belief that we are all just animals that came out of the ocean?  Once again, if that’s the case why base your belief on anything more than the  physical reality?  Why do you shun God because you can’t see or touch Him and then accept blindly something as  intangible as perfect equality?

I make this point because I fear weak belief.  A weak belief can be easily altered or tossed out.  If you are basing your belief on something that is abstract and “deep”, or simply taught to you by your government, what happens when the belief is challenged by some hard external pressure, or even the government itself?  When the Nazi’s took control of Germany, they did a great job of convincing the people of inequality.   Were the Jews equal to the Germans at that place and at that time?  Yes? No? Maybe?

Tell me, why?

Side Note:  My friend, Curtis Entenmann has decided to start his own blog in which he intends to respond to my wild conservative Christian ideas.  I will also be responding to him.  We will be posting links to each other’s blogs from time to time so I really think you should check it out.  It should be interesting to see two people with many opposing views reacting and challenging each other.    His blog is just starting out, but very soon he is sure to have many posts.   Here is the link to  Curt’s Blog.  I’m willing to bet he will say something about this last post in a few days.

A Theme Song and a Call For Some Competition

Today I was listening to some music, or to put it as the kids do these days, I was listening to my iPod.  At the same time I was checking over the response to my latest Tiger vs. Gorilla post, and that’s when I got an idea: give the blog a theme song!  Hey, why not?  Wrestlers have theme songs.  Radio talk show hosts have theme songs.  Kars for Kids has a theme song. (pretty sure that’s playing on an endless loop in hell) This blog should have one too.

I chose one song that does a good job of capturing the essence of this blog.  But before I could decide, I had to narrow it down to three.  Here are the first two that I almost chose.

I initially wanted to use a Muse song since they’re my favorite band, and this song touches on many aspects of the blog.  You’ve got a plea to destroy the delusions that wall us in, which is really a desire for the truth.  I’m a fan of truth, and when I write I’m often searching for it or communicating it.  But in the end I couldn’t use it because it was a little too intense.  The tone doesn’t quite capture the lighter side of my blog.  Plus there is a line that goes, “Justify my reasons with your blood.”  That’s the opposite of what I’m trying to do.

Truthfully, this song crossed my mind even though I despise John Mayer.    “Say what you need to say” is simple, but very true.  “Do it with your heart wide open” would have been a nice touch.  But in the end I couldn’t get past my annoyance and I couldn’t choose a song that repeats the same six words over thirty times.

Now to the one that I finally chose to be the official theme song of the blog.


On to the second thing I wanted to talk about.

I was speaking with Nicole about a week ago and we stumbled upon an interesting idea.  What if there was someone who thought the opposite of the way I do, and that person posted a blog?  You know, they hate Cadbury eggs and think Bill Cosby is lame.  They hate God and love John Mayer.  Everything I stand for, they stand against.  And what if that person attracted the same readers?  And what if we responded to each other on a regular basis?   Wouldn’t that be great?  Seriously, that would be fantastic. Nothing motivates like some good competition.

For that reason, I’m calling you out!  Say what you need to say, and show me what your city of delusion is built of.  There’s plenty of room for competing ideas, so let’s make this a full house.

The Tiger/ Gorilla Question: Conclusion

You’re in a maze.  You can’t turn back.  You have only to go forward.  In your hand is a sharp six-inch knife.  Just ahead is a spot where the maze forks in two directions.  If you go one way you must face a tiger (the average size of all tigers) and if you go the other way you must face a gorilla (the average size of all gorillas).  You must kill the animal in order to pass.  Which one do you choose?

I came up with this question a few years back (3 or 4 I believe) and it has not gone away.  Part of the reason for its longevity is the fact that I originally chose the gorilla and most people choose the tiger.  This conflict fuels debate and further interest.  I have always believed that the gorilla is the more reasonable choice.  Yet most think I am foolish.  Well, I now want to put it all to rest by presenting an air-tight argument in favor of the gorilla. To put it another way, I’m going to show the tiger people that they are the foolish ones.

First, let’s look at size.  Here is an illustration of the size comparison between a 6 foot man and a mountain gorilla (which is the largest of the gorillas).

The male mountain gorilla can grow as heavy as 500 pounds and to over 6 feet tall when standing upright.  When you factor the various species of gorilla, you get an average of about 400 pounds and a size of about 5 feet standing upright. That’s still nothing to shake a stick at.  But how does the tiger compare?

On the left is the size comparison between a man and a lion, so ignore that.  The middle image is of a Bengal tiger and the image on the right is of the largest tiger, the Amur.  From what I’ve gathered, to average the tiger sizes you would have a length of about 8.5 feet and a weight of about 450 pounds.  (I used two internet sources and neither were wikipedia).  You could say that they are of comparable size to the gorilla, if not larger.

The main point I am trying to make with the reality of size is that gorillas are not significantly larger than tigers.  If anything, tigers are larger.   I believe that many people envision gorillas to be larger than they actually are and tigers to be smaller.

Now that I’ve shown you that tigers are a little bigger than gorillas, let’s move to my next point, which is what these animals are designed for.

Tigers are predators.  Gorillas eat plants.

Tigers have claws that can extend to 4 inches.  They have canines that often exceed three inches.  Tigers have powerful jaw muscles to “clamp on prey with crushing force.”  They are built to take down animals and kill them.  Here is a quote I found.

Corbett’s idiosynchratic Temple tiger, after fighting over a kill with a very large black bear, then picked up the cow, weighing six or seven hundred pounds, and dragged it for some two miles up a densely wooded hill, negotiating dense undergrowths, fallen trees and great masses of rock

Now let’s look at the vegetarian gorilla.

Gorillas are herbivores that eat seeds and fruits and sometimes ants and termites.   They are certainly strong at about six times stronger than an adult male.  But that strength is not used to hunt prey.  They have fairly large canines, but most of their teeth are flat for chomping on plants.  They are not killing machines.

Conclusion:  Tigers are killing machines that are at least of comparable size to gorillas.  Tigers are built to kill large prey.  Gorillas are built to pick plants.  Tigers have impressive strength, at the very least on par with gorillas.  Gorillas are about six times stronger than an adult man.

People choose tiger due to misconceptions in size and ferocity.  They saw The Neverending Story when they were kids and they think that the tiger will simply jump at them and all that needs to be done is stab them once in the neck.  You know it’s true!

King Kong and Mighty Joe Young don’t help either.

Gorilla is the correct answer.

Case closed.

The Magic of Yogurtland: The Indecisive Sweet Lover’s Paradise

Gather round and I will tell you a tale of a far away place filled with beauty and defined by perfect freedom.  It is a sacred country where lions and gorillas play peacefully with puppies and baby monkeys.  A land flowing with milk and honey, where the old teach wisdom to the young and the young sing songs of innocence and promise.   Yes, this is a frozen treat lover’s paradise.  This is a sanctuary of unapologetic indulgence.  My friends, this is Yogurtland.

The slogan of Yogurtland really captures its essence: You Rule.  From the moment you walk in, you are in control of your experience.  And, oh, how simple a concept this is.  You pick a dish, you choose your flavors, and you choose your toppings.  But you don’t just choose and surrender to some frozen yogurt jockey, you add everything in any amount or order your heart desires.   Then, when it’s all over, they simply weigh your dish and charge you accordingly.  But don’t fret about the cost, even with my gut-busting mountain of chilly goodness it still cost under five dollars.

Now let me tell you about the flavors.  They have Red Velvet Cupcake Batter, Nutter Butter, Strawberry Cheesecake, Chocolate Milkshake, Double Cookies and Cream, Green Tea, Pistachio, Dragon Passion Tart, Dutch Chocolate and more!  This is premium stuff, and even without the toppings would make Yogurtland a special place.  But who are we kidding?  On to the toppings.

For the health inclined they have fruits and stuff.  Ok, ok they have a great selection of fruits and nuts and pretty much any healthy thing you could imagine to place on top of frozen yogurt.  I sort of looked past those toppings, though.  You’ll understand why in a second.

Crushed Oreo cookies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, M&M’s, mini Nutter Butters, brownie chunks, cheesecake bits, Kit Kat pieces, sprinkles, crushed graham crackers, at least four kinds of sauces, chocolate chips, Gummi Bears, mini caramel cups and many many more.  As I mentioned in the title, it’s an indecisive sweet lover’s paradise.  Just get a little of everything.  I did.

This is all well and good, and I hope I have peaked your interest, but unfortunately I have some sobering news for my fellow New Englanders.  My experience took place in California, and  the closest Yogurtland to us is in New Jersey.  It’s a long way to travel for a treat.  Then again, maybe it’s worth it.  After all, we can’t let Bruce Springsteen and Snooki have their fill without taking some for ourselves.

And maybe, just maybe someone out there is looking to open a franchise here in my home state of Massachusetts.  Perhaps it’s you.  If that’s the case, let me assure you that I speak for my millions of hungry brothers and sisters here in New England when I say, “Make this California dream a Massachusetts reality!

UPDATE 1/9/13:  Yogurtland announced it is coming to Boston!  Click here to learn more.