Monday, October 30, 2017

When Great Becomes the Enemy of Good



This article was originally about how you shouldn’t get yourself all in a tizzy because you can’t save the environment on your own. But, I soon realized the problem goes much deeper and applies to many more situations. So, today, we are going to look at how you shouldn’t let your inability to be great get in the way of being good enough.

Please Stop Burning Styrofoam

Do you often find yourself on the business end of an anti-environmental bender of burning Styrofoam and rolling coal because you can’t make up for all of the cows farting? One of the annoying (and vaguely racist) arguments for doing nothing to save the environment is that anything we do will be erased by the Chinese. Essentially, we can’t be perfect, so why try to be good?

This concept was first popularized by Voltaire’s aphorism “the better is the enemy of good.” It is related to the Kurt Cobain fallacy that states that if we can’t achieve perfection at a task, then we shouldn’t even start.

Good Enough Is Often the First Step to Greatness

If there is a task you must complete, then it helps to set a deadline. You may have been able to tell that nothing I write is perfect. Artists (did you know this blog post is art?) would never produce anything if they didn’t have deadlines. They would continue to strive for perfection. For example, it took the American hard rock band Guns as well as Roses about fifteen years to finish Chinese Democracy because they were working toward perfection…and finally achieved it.

Getting back to the environment, we have to leave a planet that our offspring can live on. Of course, you can set personal deadlines for when you want to achieve certain environmental goals, but you might get diagnosed with Asperger’s. Instead, I recommend just doing the best you can. Every little bit counts. This works for a lot of different aspects of life: spending time with and raising your kids, eating healthy, dumping addictions, and donating to public radio. Half of the joy of life is striving for something (the other half is being all up in the club getting tipsy).

All Good Aphorisms Have their Downfalls

According to the Brains Report’s Department of Nonsense Statistics, the typical space shuttle has right around 1,934,720,131 parts to it. You might think based on our above conversation that I would recommend sending that shuttle up with 1,934,720,130 of those parts in good working order. Good enough, right? Well, in some instances, perfection is necessary. After all, that O-ring may not work well in cold weather and could kill everyone.

This is an extreme example, but there are several instances where you need to be great/perfect or you should stop. The key is to identify these instances.

Anyway the moral is that you should go ahead and do a darn thing. Launch that website, start that business, stop using Styrofoam, teach your son about consent, etc. You may just be good at these things or just plain suck at first. But, you’ll learn along the way. It’s okay not to be great, but keep striving if it’s something you value.


Is this blog post the enemy of great, good, perfect, and everything in between? Let us know in the comments below.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

We Support the Death Penalty for Corporations


In the United States, most of the states have some form of capital punishment. In addition, capital punishment is practiced on the federal level for certain crimes. Also, in the US, corporations are considered to be people when it comes to constitutional rights and other laws. Since this is the case, we are strong supporters of using the death penalty to punish corporations for crimes against humanity.

What Crimes Are Worthy of the Death Penalty?

There are several ways one can earn a date in an electric chair, gas chamber, or a lethal injection. One of the most popular crimes is “crimes against humanity.” This is kind of like the card game “Cards Against Humanity.” Only, it involves real acts against real people, such as genocide. Also, in most countries retaining the death penalty, intentional homicide will get us bumped off. The more gruesome the murder sounds, the more likely the government will decide that we no longer deserve to live. For instance, if we eat the body of our victim, we can expect to have our life ended.

In the United States, if we are particularly skilled at drug trafficking and get caught, we can also be murdered by the government.

We don’t believe that the government should ever be allowed to take a person’s life. The burden is on the government to rehabilitate its citizens. This should be done in safe facilities until the person is no longer a danger to others. This may take the person’s entire life. It is not our job to decide when people die. In addition, the death penalty has been abused (i.e., innocent people being sentenced, racial biases, etc.) to a point in this country where it is horribly irresponsible for the practice to continue.
What corporations look like in their human form.
But, if we are going to keep it on the books, it is only fair that we are consistent in its application. In other words, there shouldn’t be certain classes that are exempted from the death penalty. The death penalty should be in play for corporations.

This is not a new idea, but it does need to be revisited until action is taken.

What Would the Death Penalty Look like for Corporations?

If a corporation’s actions are particularly negligent and lead to the loss of human life, either here or abroad, the corporation should be punished accordingly. If you were to look at the psychological profile of a corporation, it would be the definition of a megalomaniacal psychopath. They are legally required (a law that would need to change) to earn as much profit as possible at all costs. Therefore, corporations produce unsafe products to save a few bucks and people die. They do this knowingly. That is, many corporations intentionally commit homicide.

For instance, why are R.J. Reynolds, Phillip Morris, Brown & Williamson, and so on allowed to continue to function? They are each responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people through manufacturing a product (cigarettes) that they knew caused people health problems that would kill them. They are directly responsible. If a person were to intentionally kill even ten people, we would put him to death.
Tobacco companies knew for decades that their products were killing people. They did nothing.
How do you kill a corporation? Well, states have the power to dissolve corporations at will. That is a good start, but it is not really death. In addition, those responsible for the decisions that lead to the intentional deaths also need to be held accountable. Also, the leadership of the organization, such as the executives and board of directors, should not be allowed to hold similar positions ever again. Their careers should be “murdered” so to speak.

If we are going to have the death penalty in this country, we should put it to work for us where it will do the most good. Let’s murder these morally bankrupt corporations.


What are your thoughts?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

BOOK REPORT: “Titanic 2: Dead Wake”


In the interest of promoting literacy among groups that are not noted for their reading proclivity, I will occasionally write reports about books I’ve recently read. I write in a manner that is accessible to people from all walks of life, but especially teenagers.

Background

I learned about Dead Wake while peeping the New York Times Bestseller List. It had been on there for a couple years or something, and I figured that the hundreds of people out there that still buy books can’t be wrong. They weren’t.

Dead Wake was written by Erik Larson, a journalist who is perhaps best known for The Devil in the White City. I haven’t read it, but my mom keeps telling me it’s great. Larson’s life is pretty boring. He grew up in New York and still lives there and went to college and worked for newspapers and wrote books. That’s about it. No interesting backstory.

Overview

Dead Wake is about the sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915. This event is commonly credited as leading the United States into World War I, even though we didn’t really join that party until two years later.

Dead Wake jumps around between what people were doing on the boat, life in the German submarine that sank the Lusitania, President Woodrow Wilson getting over the death of his wife and moving on to wife #2, and some secret room in Britain where they stole German secrets. It covers the events leading up to the voyage, including the start of WWI, up to the aftermath of the Lusitania getting torpedoed and the pointing of fingers and such.

Favorite Passage

Readability

This is a light read. I’d recommend brushing up on your boat jargon early on so you know where the bow (front), stern (back), starboard (right), port (left), hull (bottom), and all those other boatly things are. But, overall, Larson does a good job of explaining confusing concepts and dumbing it down for us Neanderthals. I’m a slow reader, and the book took me about twelve hours to read.

Contribution to Overall Knowledge

The name Lusitania rang a bell, and I knew it was the ship full of Jewish refugees that the United States turned away during World War II, but I didn’t know the specifics. So, Dead Wake did bring to life a mildly important event in world history. I think the most interesting part was that both Germany and Britain wanted to drag the US, which was strictly neutral at the time, into the war. Also, it made it clear that the Lusitania wasn’t really a neutral ship: it was carrying ammo to British troops.

Suggested Audience

This is great summer reading. I’d recommend it to both port and starboard-handed people as well as those who are on the spectrum who like novels but who also like learning. I often feel like novels are a waste of my time because I’m not learning anything. I’m just getting entertained, but Dead Wake was edutaining. Plus, it will help you ace the WWI section of your US History class. That’ll show Mr. Frederickson!

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

The only reason I didn’t give Dead Wake a higher rating is because it didn’t change my life, but it did give me a lot of interesting information. If this is a 6.5, then the hit movie the Titanic is a 5. As far as sequels go, the name is terrible. It should be called Titanic 2: The Titanicking or Titanic 2: The New Batch. Despite its naming inadequacies, Dead Wake is much better than the original. The ship is even bigger and even more unsinkable. There are evil Germans. The love story involves the President of the United States instead of some pauper boy.


Read Dead Wake now and impress the girls at school with your World War I knowledge.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hillary Clinton Releases Her Wall Street Speech Transcripts


In a surprise move today, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has released the transcripts of the speeches she gave to a number of Wall Street firms. The surprising part is that she released them to Square Peg, Round Planet. Her spokesperson said this bold move was made because they wanted to be able to say, “There the transcripts are released. Shut your fat face!” Yet, they knew that no one would trust such an obscure media outlet.

In all, Clinton sent us 92 speech transcripts from between 2013 and 2015 for which she was paid an average of $235,000 per speech. We will release all of the speeches in due time. We are first going to start with an excerpt from a speech she made last year at a Goldman Sachs conference in New York City:

“Can I get a light? *a few men come to the stage with burning stacks of $100 bills to light her cigarette* Thank you. Isn’t it great being rich? *applause* It has never been a better time to be rich in America. We have weakened government agencies so they have no ability to enforce the laws. We have left gaping loopholes in our laws to help big businesses do as they wish. We have this beautiful revolving door between Wall Street and Washington.

“And, no one raises a fuss. The masses have their sports and TV to keep them distracted. And, those who do pay attention blame Mexicans and Muslims for their problems. *the audience laughs*
The Wall Street Lighter
“Unfortunately, 2016 will be a transitional year with a new president coming to power. However, I think we can be sure the results will be favorable. *another round of laughter* I stand to raise more money than any presidential hopeful ever thanks to Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions. We share a common interest in maintaining power and are willing to do anything to achieve it.

“Few people know that I killed the first woman Bill cheated on me with. Not because I was upset that he did it. I knew he couldn’t keep his prick in his pants. *laughter* I did not want that little SOB hurting my chances at power. As time went on and we became more powerful, it became easier to sweep things under the rug. American citizens want to believe those in power are decent human beings. And, we give them this illusion.

“One way I provided this illusion while Secretary of State was to use my own private server for emails. This way, I could destroy anything incriminating. And, we all know that if there is no smoking gun or body, then there is no crime. We all know that you never admit anything. Put the burden of proof on the conspiracy theorists. Oh yeah: I have the media on my side to make sure my accusers are called ‘conspiracy theorists.’

“Anyway, we both know I’m not really here to give a speech. You paid me a quarter million dollars for this to get around FEC campaign rules as I ramp up for my 2016 run for president. You are scratching my back, and I will scratch yours. Whether it is making sure we don’t break up the big banks or, if it does become a possibility, making sure it is really just a front for another Wall Street power grab, I’ll be there in 2016 to scratch your back! *applause*

“And, you can rest assured that I will do all that I can do to continue to find new markets for big businesses to exploit, and I will protect my friends in power from ever having to face repercussions. After all, the future of our country depends on us being above the law.


“Thank you! And, I look forward to serving you from the White House in 2017!”

Monday, May 16, 2016

One Simple Trick to Improve Your Quality of Life


I can’t come right out and tell you the trick. That is too simple. No, we need some build up first. Maybe I can get you really curious by telling you that the trick does not take up your precious free time. In fact, it may save you some time. It also won’t cost you anything. Again, it may save you money. It will also give you a larger penis or vagina, whichever you prefer. So, what is the trick? Let me first give you a little background on how I discovered it.

I Was a Fat Useless Slob

Once upon a time, I was a fat useless slob. It was a time that continues to the present. I’m still a fat useless slob, but now, I’m feeding my brain. You see, I used to hurry up and finish my work for the day, so I could turn on the TV, find something to binge watch, rub on my phone, and just coast until bed time. I would neglect my family, my body, my mind, and my civic duties.

One day, after I had finished binge watching a very unsatisfying docudrama – we’ll just call it “Baking a Butcherer” – I could not find anything else I wanted to watch. This led me to question what I was doing with my life. What if I did find something enjoyable to watch? It would just take up quarters of dozens of hours of my life that I would never get back. I doubt I’ll ever be on my death bed regretting that I never watched Jessica Jones.
I'm sure she's a very nice young lady.
Also, I realized there was no dialogue between my family and me. If I tried to ask my wife something, she would ignore me because she was too busy watching the TV or rubbing on her phone. I eventually stopped even trying to talk to her.

My Brain Was Empty

Worst of all, I felt my $100,000+ education going to waste as my brain turned to mush. I was basically a thoughtless consumer: right where the bourgeoisie wanted me. I would just work, pay taxes, and not notice how the average American was being screwed. Why should I care? I was entertained. And, I was happy until I ran out of things to watch.
You can only watch so much static.
Books and Moderation

We all know that TV is bad for us and that picking up a book is good. Yet, we consistently choose the former over the latter. To “trick” myself into turning off the TV and phone more, I made a rule: I could only watch as much TV and go on social media as much as I read. So, for instance, if I wanted to spend 15 minutes on Facebook (the max per day I allow myself) and watch 45 minutes of TV, I would first need to read a book for an hour.

I have done this for many fortnights now, and I have noticed that reading is much more rewarding. My brain feels like it is firing on a couple more cylinders. I prefer nonfiction books, so I let my interests lead me in fun and immoral directions. I’ve even started to blog about it. I now carry a book with me everywhere I go instead of wasting time rubbing on my phone.

Best of all, this practice gives me a smug sense of self-righteousness that allows me to look down my nose at everyone else. You should give it a try for a month!


What are your thoughts?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Stop Using Your Personal Experience to Make Sweeping Generalizations


I get in a lot of fights on the Internet. I’ve noticed in comment threads and discussion boards across this great planet of ours that many of us tend to think that our personal experience matters when it comes to widespread phenomena. We think that since we have experienced something that it proves a point. This is called the “anecdotal fallacy,” and we really need to recognize and avoid it.

What Is the Anecdotal Fallacy?

Also referred to as “misleading vividness,” the anecdotal fallacy occurs when we can recall a particular event or phenomenon with sufficient vividness as to make it seem as if we can generalize it to a more widespread population. Though it could be an instance of a more common occurrence, you really cannot base this on one occurrence.

What the hell does any of that mean? I think understanding these logical arguments comes with examples. So, here we go.
  • Example 1: I saw a white dude with a backwards hat steal an old lady’s purse. Therefore, white dudes with backwards hats regularly steal in general.
  • Example 2: I was given incorrect change by a teenager working at the corner store. Therefore, teenagers these days suck at math.

Both of the conclusions drawn in these examples are based on anecdotal fallacies. I catch myself doing this all the time. I even have a solid background in statistics and (social) scientific research. It’s an easy fallacy to fall into.
Logical Fallacy Ref is pretty awesome: http://imgur.com/a/QDbyt/all
Why Do We Commit the Anecdotal Fallacy?

The jackass in me wants to attribute the prevalence of this fallacy to people being so self-involved and vapid that they can’t wait to offer information about their own personal experience. I’m sure this is the case for some, but more likely, our own personal experience is the easiest information we have access to.

At a different and perhaps more valid level, there is an understandable distrust of the mainstream media. That is, news sources can post about a phenomenon all they want, but why are we to believe them? They’re probably just trying to push an agenda. Plus, the media feed off of sensationalism. They want us to be afraid of those white dudes with backwards hats or to think that teenagers are destroying this country or whatever sells papers or gets the clicks.

When we don’t trust the media, where can we get our information? We’ll always have our personal experience.
Also, be skeptical of ALL media.
What Can We Do?

There are a few things we can do:
  • Recognize when we are committing the anecdotal fallacy and stop it.
  • Recognize when others are committing the anecdotal fallacy and call them on it.
  • Become sophisticated media connoisseurs – This is a tough one because it will take practice and time. There are good news sources out there. The best way to find the good ones is to read as many different perspectives as possible and always read with a critical eye.
  • Look for cold, hard facts from legitimate scientific research to support our opinions. If we can’t find real evidence, then we don’t really have much to base our opinions on.

Of course, anecdotal evidence is important. It is the beginning of the scientific method. Our observations feed into hypotheses which can then be tested and lead to theories. We just need to make sure that we are not skipping the whole scientific experimentation part of the scientific method. This is when we get into anecdotal fallacy territory.


What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

All Facts, Findings, and Research Should Be Presented as Internet Memes


Let’s face it. These days, nobody has time to find links, click on them, and spend hours reading articles. And, when it comes to actual research studies, even scientists rarely read the peer-reviewed journal articles, and the layperson never does. It’s time we cut our losses and present all facts, findings, and research as handy internet memes that people can easily share on social media.

Defining My Terms

When I refer to “Internet memes,” I’m not referring to the classical use of the word “meme,” which is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person in a culture. I’m referring to the pictures with witty or funny captions on them. Sure, the ideas they express may spread from person to person, but for the most part, they are disposable images that are viewed for a second and quickly forgotten. Despite their simplicity, misinformation, and ability to be created by anyone, they are proving to be quite effective at getting one’s point across.
The same is true for wind power!
As for facts, findings, and research, I’m referring to both hard scientific and soft scientific research. This includes biology and physics, psychology and sociology, Reuters polls and Pew research, and so on. Anything that gives at least a nod to scientific rigor.

The Current State of Things

Right now, Internet memes rarely have any truth to them. They are either presented purely for entertainment purposes, or they are trying to make a point. When a point is being made, Internet memes usually rely on some logical fallacy to go for the “Gotcha!” effect or to trick you into agreeing with their way of thinking. Facts are never backed up with citations. Despite these shortcomings, Internet memes continue to be popular on social media, comments sections, and internet discussion forums.
Abraham Lincoln was also a loser.
On the other hand, no one cares about research. Academic research is usually presented in a long, dry peer-review journal article that might get a handful of readers, who are all academics as well. If the information is truly groundbreaking, then it will be mangled by someone who doesn’t understand it and presented in a mainstream article. This will get a few thousand clicks. This is also true of the surveys done by news outlets and think tanks. There is some value here, but it takes too much work to digest it.

The Solution: Turn Research into Internet Memes

The obvious solution to these problems is to present research in Internet meme form. This stands to benefit everyone. Social media users and commenters will have easily-digestible facts and research to back up their points, rather than simply flinging poo. And, researchers will reach a broader audience.

Plus, down the road, researchers and scientists will not have to go through all the trouble of actually conducting studies, and the government won’t need to waste money on grants and unnecessary research. The academics can simply create Internet memes demonstrating their gut feeling (or hypothesis) and spread that. After all, when it comes to Internet memes, no one is going to fact check you. And, even if someone does point out that your Internet meme is a lie, you can simply say, “Who cares? I still believe it!” You can’t argue with that.


What are your thoughts?