Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Random Thoughts 7

  • We all know that it is common courtesy to prop a lost hubcap against the nearest tree or telephone pole so that the owner can retrieve it, but there should be a statute of limitations on this. A guy in my neighborhood has had a hubcap propped against a tree next to the road for going on two years now. I think that he is actually mowing around it. You have given it a solid effort, no one will judge you if throw it away.

  • My wife and I received a complimentary subscription to a fitness magazine in exchange for unused “bonus miles” with an airline. I noticed a pattern:

Paradoxically, each issue would feature a cover-story which, if accurate, would negate further publication of the magazine itself. Examples include “Only Workout You Will Ever Need” or “Ultimate Fitness Guide.”

There was always a feature on coitus with a superfluous title like “Have Sexier Sex” or “Your Sexiest Sex Now.” By the title, I always assumed it would simply instruct you to purchase a wind machine, install perpetually-flowing tapestries on the corners of your four-post bed, and hire more attractive stand-ins.

  • There is a market for computer mice that feature built-in “palm cooling features” for when your online gaming experience becomes too intense and you are concerned that hand perspiration will negatively affect your performance. I hope a complimentary intervention is included with every purchase.

  • Is there a more ironic title for an online video than, “The Video That The Internet Does Not Want You To See!”

  • I had not realized how embarrassing it had become to admit you still own a traditional CRT television. I tried to sell one on craigslist for the cost of dinner at Panera and I think I would have gotten more responses for a defective slinky. Even Goodwill has refused to take them anymore and I am pretty sure they will accept a solitary tennis shoe.

  • I think to celebrate Throwback Thursday, Facebook itself should revert back to 2003 and visitors would simply get a “Domain Name for Sale” page.

  • I find it entertaining to utilize obscure references to clarify even more obscure references. For instance, I could say “Injected was the Geocities of the late 90’s Atlanta Hard Rock Scene” or “John C. Reilly is the iOS 7.2 of supporting cast members in major studio releases.”

  • I have mixed feelings about campaigns that utilize the “every 2 minutes” strategy. On the one hand, it creates a sense of immediacy and, at its best, goads the target audience into action. On the other hand, when I am eating a sandwich on my lunch break and I catch a TV spot that says “While you were watching this commercial, two paraplegic orphans were attacked by kimono dragons” it just seems like emotional entrapment. There was literally nothing I could do but now I feel guilty.

  • Was anyone else surprised to learn that MTV is still hosting an annual Movie Awards Show?

  • I got an e-mail today reminding me that it was “National Moment of Laughter Day.” This has gone too far. It is high time that Congress step-up and create a bi-partisan oversight committee for arbitrary holidays and asinine awareness weeks. Every time I get online people are celebrating “Latino Uncle Awareness Week” or “Retired Parking Attendant Month” and it has to stop. If you want to post an archived prom photo, just post it. There is no requirement that it be prefaced by explaining that next Thursday is “Brief High School Romances That Collapsed Under The Pressure of Differing Career Goals” Day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Phil Robertson Says More Words....

Some of you may be aware of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s latest controversy concerning a speech he gave at the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast in Florida. He constructed a terrifying hypothetical situation presumably meant to convey the mutual exclusivity of atheism and morality:
“I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’”

“Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’”

First of all, this has to be the worst prayer breakfast ever. Was Robertson vamping or was the speech cleared with organizers ahead of time? Can you imagine that conversation?

Mr. Robertson, we glanced at your talking points and were wondering if we could perhaps re-word the section of your speech where the protagonist has his tallywacker lobbed off by marauders. We are serving sausage links and I fear it could cause some discomfort among our guests.

I won’t dial down the truth just to make a few people more comfortable.

Fair enough. Could we at least delay the gang-rape / spousal decapitation scenario until after the omelet station closes?

As best I can gather, Mr. Robertson was graphically illustrating his opinion that basic human empathy and morality derive from one’s stated theological disposition. The idea being that a person has no reasonable grounds to disapprove of seeing his children come to harm or his wang chopped off if he does not recognize a higher power.

This is a rather paradoxical stance for an avowed evangelical Christian since one of the basic tenets of that belief system is that mankind was created in God’s image and is intrinsically able to differentiate right from wrong. It is that very ability that empowers them to determine their eternal destiny through either the acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Were they unable to distinguish morality from immorality, one could make the argument that God’s judgement was arbitrary at best.

I was also confused by some of the details of the story. For instance, why were all of the female characters so small? Both the wife and the daughters were “little atheists.” Did he mean that their value as humans were diminished by their philosophy or that they just happen to be underwhelming in stature? Also, did anyone else find it odd that the home invaders were attempting to demonstrate the victims’ lack of morality… by murdering them?

I would like to apologize, as a Christian, for Mr. Robertson’s ridiculous and offensive assertions. As fond as Jesus was of parables, I cannot recall any instances where he evoked involuntary castration or the rape of children as teaching tools. Indeed, Christ’s most pointed words were reserved for the members of the religious establishment that claimed to speak for his Father. I personally believe that atheists, agnostics, and theists (of both the poly and mono persuasion) are loved by God. We cannot earn that love by endorsing a particular denomination and the job of Christ’s followers is to act as both recipients and conduits of his grace.

In closing, I will leave you with the wise words of a man became an atheist at fifteen and remained one into his thirties until he became one of the world’s greatest Christian theologians:

“If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake.” – C.S. Lewis

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Toddler Dinning

If you have never shared regular meals with a toddler, imagine The Hurt Locker taking place in a cafeteria. Everyone is on edge knowing that the slightest misstep will result in flying shrapnel. Most of your meal is spent utilizing your peripheral vision to monitor the child’s progress because direct eye-contact could have disastrous consequences. If they are actually eating well and they catch what they interpret as a look of approval, an immediate hunger strike will be implemented. If they are not eating well, they will use the opportunity to request a different entrée that you just ran out of.

When presented with a new delicacy, my son will visually inspect the item for several seconds before giving it a tentative lick. If the food in question is found to be worthy, a nibble is attempted. Then perhaps, he will take a full bite. At any point during this process, he may issue a full abort. This entails immediate expulsion from his mouth followed by cleansing his tongue with a napkin.

For months I told myself that my son was not picky, he simply had a discerning palate. While some might view his culinary methodology as excessive or even neurotic, I was convinced the behavior was simply the result of his practicality and lack of compulsion. Sure it can be annoying, but at least he contemplates what he ingests unlike some of these unwashed Philistines.
This theory was invalidated several weeks ago while on an afternoon walk. Without so much as a moment’s hesitation, he picked up a rusted bolt from the crosswalk and popped it into his mouth. I had once watched this child agonize for three minutes over whether or not to eat an organic grape and now he was in danger of choking on a metallic shard he found in a water puddle. I have since realized that the only sure way to keep your child from ingested dangerous items is to present them as food. I am fairly certain that we could forgo the child-safety locks in our home as long as we place the cleaning products on a plate and ask him to give them a try.   

While in-home dinning can be challenging, there is nothing quite like the thrill of eating out. When you will be breaking bread with someone in their terrible twos, the first item of business is to case the restaurant. Where are the exits? Are the tables decorated with breakable items? Is there an open booth next to an HVAC closet we could request?

Once your location is scouted, the ordering process must begin in haste. Parents of toddlers do not have the luxury of perusing the menu for twenty minutes, so when the server shows up to get the drink order they better come to play. Our order varies some depending on the venue, but here is the template:

“He will have the kid’s (insert cheese-based entrée here) with a side of (something he loves at home but will not eat in public) and the flimsiest plastic child’s cup you can locate. And can you bring us a case of napkins and a box crayons that he can throw on the floor?

The away game is the worst because you know the other patrons are observing you with the same peripheral vision trick you use on your toddler. When the meal goes sideways, I always imagine that our fellow dinners are discussing our obvious parenting missteps. They smile at each other and pretend to be oblivious to the fact that the high-chair next to them has transformed into a grilled-cheese catapulting apparatus.

The exception to this are other toddler parents because the only thing better than your child being the best behaved in the restaurant is your child being dethroned as the worst behaved in a restaurant. This is known as the “not my kid” lottery. This changes your whole demeanor as a parent. Instead of avoiding eye contact, you start wearing a smug grin that says, “My kid doesn’t seem so ill-mannered now does he?”  Cocky parents might even cast their own disapproving look toward the misbehaving munchkin. But beware, every two-year old will play that role sooner or later.

Once, my wife and I were at a Mexican restaurant with our son when he decided to mount an insurrection. There was screaming, crying, and we nearly lost my wife’s iPhone to re fried bean submersion. I actually chased down the waiter for the check and was standing in line to pay while my wife was back at the table packing up the family. It just so happened that an acquaintance had been dinning at the same restaurant and was in line behind me. We chatted and moment and I mentioned something about being ready to pay and hit the road. She replied, “Tell me about it, I could hardly hear myself think with that kid screaming. Did you hear him?”I admitted that it had been even louder where I was sitting and that my wife and I could barely talk.