Monday, May 23, 2011

PSA: Have your cake and eat it, too

I'm pretty sure that "You can't have your cake and eat it, too" may be one of the most misunderstood sayings on the face of the planet. I frequently see people who are otherwise very intelligent misusing it, to the point that it's starting to become a pet peeve of mine. (Personally, I blame the public education system.)

Basically, what I frequently see people saying is, "Why shouldn't I eat the cake? Why else would I have cake? It is my cake!"

Granted, some of these people probably know very well what the saying means, and they are trying to be funny. However, it has started to get to the point where people are using this logic to try and make a serious point, and it really bothers me.

So, for those of you who may not realize, the saying does not say that you shouldn't eat the cake, or even that there's anything wrong with eating cake. The point of the saying is that once you eat the cake, it is eaten. If you eat the cake today, you can't expect to have cake to eat tomorrow. Trying to defeat this logic by saying "But why shouldn't I eat the cake?" is missing the point entirely.

The only thing this saying was ever supposed to mean is that you can't have two things that cancel each other out. For example, the phrase would be accurately applied to a person who was married and having an affair. You can't be monogamous, while still having lovers on the side.

It also is accurately applied to secretly gay ultra-republicans. But that's another post entirely.

Granted, people often use this saying when they feel like someone is getting too much of a good thing. If someone uses this saying on you in this way, a more accurate response would be, "I'm not. I'm just baking a new cake." This response also has the added benefit of being original enough to distract the ignorant person. I suggest running away while they are busy figuring it out.

Once again, NO ONE IS SAYING DON'T EAT THE CAKE. They are only saying that once you eat the cake, you can't decide not to eat the cake. But please, do eat the cake before it goes stale. No one likes stale cake.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Red Herrings

At what point can we say that a person has accumulated such an obscene amount of money that they are actually hurting the economy by taking that money out of circulation? When 1% of the population controls almost half the wealth, doesn't it stand to reason that the economy will suffer as a result?

How much of the nation's money goes in the pockets of CEOs who care nothing about the economy, but are only out to grab as much as possible for themselves? How much of our education budget is tied up in ridiculous administration costs? How much of the cost of our medical care goes straight in the pockets of an insurance company CEO? How much of what we pay for food goes into the pocket of some executive instead of into the pocket of the farmer?

Wouldn't it be better for the economy if that money went to the person actually providing the service, rather than some middle man who has nothing to do with it?

We're living in frightening times. With the divide between the rich and the middle class growing ever wider, I would not be surprised to see a civil war in my lifetime. We have the chance to change our fates right now, but I'm not sure that we will. I think that by the time people realize what's really going on, it will be too late, and revolution will be the only way to make any changes.

Why are we letting such a minority control our economy? Why aren't we standing up as a people and saying "enough is enough"? We outnumber them! How is this happening?

Well, it's all about the red herrings. This is the biggest threat to America that we've seen since the Great Depression, and everyone is allowing themselves to be distracted.

OMG GAYS MIGHT GET MARRIED.

OMG POOR PEOPLE MIGHT GET HEALTH CARE.

OMG THE PRESIDENT IS A FOREIGNER.

OMG IMMIGRANTS ARE TAKING OUR JOBS.

WE CAN'T ALLOW THAT!

When are we going to wake up and see past all these red herrings and realize what's really going on in this country? The very rich want you to be distracted by public health care, gun control, gay rights, abortion, etc. Because if you're so busy worrying about all that nonsense, you'll never have a chance to realize that you've spent your life working at a job you hate for peanuts, a slave to a credit card company, with no hope of making a better life for yourself or your children.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hippo's Hope

I felt like sharing a poem. I grew up on Shel Silverstein poems, and every once in awhile, you just feel like going home again. :)

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Hippo's Hope
There once was a hippo who wanted to fly --
Fly-hi-dee, try-hi-dee, my-hi-dee-ho.
So he sewed him some wings that could flap through the sky --
Sky-hi-dee, fly-hi-dee, why-hi-dee-go.

He climbed to the top of a mountain of snow --
Snow-hi-dee, slow-hi-dee, oh-hi-dee-hoo.
With the clouds high above and the sea down below --
Where-hi-dee, there-hi-dee, scare-hi-dee-boo.

(Happy ending)
And he flipped and he flapped and he bellowed so loud --
Now-hi-dee, loud-hi-dee, proud-hi-dee-poop.
And he sailed like an eagle, off into the clouds --
High-hi-dee, fly-hi-dee, bye-hi-dee-boop.

(Unhappy ending)
And he leaped like a frog and he fell like a stone --
Stone-hi-dee, lone-hi-dee, own-hi-dee-flop.
And he crashed and he drowned and broke all his bones --
Bones-hi-dee, moans-hi-dee, groans-hi-dee-glop.

(Chicken ending)
He looked up at the sky and looked down at the sea --
Sea-hi-dee, free-hi-dee, whee-hi-dee-way.
And he turned and went home and had cookies and tea --
That's hi-dee, all hi-dee, I have to say.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Should" you care?

There's an interesting debate that pops up whenever the topic of money and charity are involved.

On one side, you have people who feel that each individual has a responsibility to the success of the community as a whole. These are the people who feel that a person "should" give to charity, "should" care about hungry people in Africa, "should" contribute to fund cancer research, etc.

On the other side, there are people who feel that the world is a jungle. That the only responsibility one has is to oneself and (perhaps) one's family. These are the people who are likely to argue that giving to other people just makes them dependent upon the giver, and that you shouldn't have to give away your hard-earned money to people who haven't worked for it, etc.

Obviously, there are varying stances in between these two extremes, but for the sake of discussion, let's accept this simplified view of things, for now. From a purely objective and rational point of view, this comes down to an emotional appeal vs. logic.

Logic dictates that if you give away less money, you will have more for yourself. Logic also (seems to) dictate that if you have more for yourself, your life will be happier, particularly if you are below a certain threshold. (Research has shown that this threshold is about $40,000 per year.) You will be able to provide better for your children. You will even be able to buy more consumer goods, which will create jobs for people who are less fortunate, and eventually make the world a better place. If you eliminate a religious imperative to tithe, there's really no ethical reason to think that you "should" give away what's rightfully yours, whether you worked hard to earn it, or just happened to inherit it.

However, upon further inspection, I feel there's something that's always missing from these discussions. At some point, you will need help from your community. Whether you are a wealthy executive who needs advice on how to handle a marital dispute, or a poor divorcee trying to figure out how to keep your house and raise your kids on a single income, you will want to have a community of supportive people around you who care about you as much as they care about their own interests.

If you are a person who gives to other people, doesn't it make sense that you will gather people around you that are also giving personalities? However, if you are only out for "number one", doesn't it make sense that you will drive those "givers" away?

We create the world we have to live in by the people we attract. What kind of world do you want to live in?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Are We Bad People?

Osama bin Laden is dead, y'all.

Think about that for a second. Soak it in. Let yourself /really/ understand it.

When I first heard the news (caught the live feed of the announcement, even), I started to feel happy. In fact, I was almost in a celebratory mood.

Then I started to realize what I was doing. I was celebrating the death of another human being. Then came the guilt.

I started to wonder what's wrong with me. I started to wonder what's wrong with all of us. How can we be happy about the death of a fellow human being?

This lasted a day or so. But now I've given it my due consideration, and you know what? Yes. I'm happy. Fuck Osama bin Laden. This is a man who directly set out to kill as many Americans as he possibly could. Not because we'd done anything to him, but because we're different. For the same reason that a lot of Americans want to nuke the Middle East or get us involved in some kind of holy war. Osama is a wanna-be Hitler.

And it wasn't enough to kill as many Americans as he could, but he sent videos bragging about his actions. No only that, but he promised to do more in the future. He hated our guts, y'all, and you know what? He and all his followers would be celebrating if he succeeded in another attack on us.

So will I celebrate Osama's death?

Probably not.

Will I feel pleased about the death and the timing?

Yes. Yes, I will.