Monthly Archives: April 2012

Evil by Omission

Mankind is flawed.  We have the tendency to exploit the less-powerful for our own gain, we tend to rule the weak, we tend to abuse those less powerful than us, and we tend to make mistakes even when we know it’s a mistake.  That’s us – crooked and flawed.

I know what you’re saying: “Not everyone is that way!” I agree and disagree.  Not everyone is that way all of the time (or maybe even most of the time); however we have all fallen short when it comes to perfection/morality.  I’m not religious, but one thing that I have always found true about Christianity is what the preacher at the church I used to attend would say every Sunday “We have all fallen short of the perfection demanded of us by God.”  If there is a truth in religion that is it.

The good news is we have a lot of good in us too.  I can only examine myself, but I know internally I have a strong urge to do what’s right and to make the world a better place.  I’m not sure why – either.  Perhaps it’s out of my own need for self preservation or some instinct for the preservation of the species – maybe something else.  I have to believe that we all have that in us; though some have become more adapt in ignoring that feeling than others.

But maybe that is the first step for all of us.  Realizing that we all have this duality of good and evil in us.  That we all live and walk a different path with factors affecting our personalities and decisions that another person probably couldn’t even imagine or come close to understanding.  That shapes who we are.  Those facts can also help us understand and deal with everyone else.

Maybe armed with new information and new understanding we can set new rules for ourselves and society.  One where we understand and empathize with those who aren’t there yet.  A society where we can do the right thing even when it’s hard because ultimately we understand that it’s the right thing to do.  Maybe this is just the beginning of social responsibility and recovery of a flawed species capable of so much creation and destruction.

Maybe we can reconcile our needs for self preservation and perpetuity of the species until those two influences come in perfect harmony.  The problems of war and famine from yesterday will become lessons we teach our children in the future.  Maybe borders will seem silly in the future.  Why we value an American, Canadian, African, Muslim, or Christian life more or less than any other will seem absurd – maybe it already does.

I see a younger generation, some of us, already headed there.  Others I see as devout as ever toward a cause no more just or moral as the very “enemies” they so passionately hate.  Maybe its a man living in a mansion while somewhere else a child dies or maybe its an art student trying to make the “big time” in music while forgetting, even for a moment, there are people out there starving.  We’ve all been guilty of ignoring our fellow humans, especially me, so how do we get past that?  I do not know.

What I do know is that until we can get the little things right – we aren’t even close.  Until we can get involved in our own back yards, all of us, and do what’s right – that hopeful light of helping those somewhere else seems very dim.  Do I expect a Utopian society?  Of course not.  I’m not that foolish.

I do know that we can all do better though.  Maybe that means helping out your Mom who has been trapped in the house for years wasting away.  Maybe that means donating a little time to charity.  Maybe that means cleaning up your neighborhood when no one else will.  Maybe it even means doing something big, because you can, and change everything.

Just do what’s right.  Not with words, but by example.

Forget Vegas – What Happens in Chicago STAYS in Chicago

“Legendary-ish Stories” is a series I plan to write occasionally in which I describe actual incidents that happened in my life. These incidents often involve alcohol and at times immorality – neither of which I necessarily condone. With these stories I hope to add a touch of humor and display human imperfection while simultaneously eroding my credibility. Enjoy.

What I did was despicable, terrible, accidental, unplanned, unforgivable, and also memorable. What I did is something no one should ever do and no I do not commend my actions. If anything I discourage them, but as this blog is about being human, about the truth, I will shamefully tell it anyway – however hesitantly I proceed.

Let me start out by saying being a young man in a bar with your closest work friends (who have become personal friends) with an unlimited bar tab and tables that have taps of limitless beer and liquor – is a recipe for disaster and mistakes to be made. Even by a man like me who prides himself on having integrity. A word I can barely write at the moment.

The night started out innocently and unplanned enough. Of course we planned on drinking as much as possible on the company dime – who wouldn’t. However, when the bar closed at 1am and we had ingested an untold number of beers and two older women were hitting on me continuously – what was I to do? Resist?

I’m a young guy in my mid-20s. I am married, so I’m not proud of what happened. My conversation with the women started of completely innocent. I talked about my time in the city, asked for suggestions, and even talked about my wife and their husbands. It was a blur, I will admit, but to my knowledge I was completely forth-coming and polite – yet it seems that older women with husbands really, really like younger men with wives.

Upon blackout a friend of mine (also attached) and I teleport to their hotel room. I don’t remember leaving the bar, making the decision to follow them, nor arriving to the hotel.

Let me stop right here though and say that I was strong. Stronger than most in this position. I resisted their constant propositions. However, that did not stop them from undressing and that did not stop me from looking. I’m not proud. I shouldn’t have put myself in such a situation and how I resisted the desire to take full advantage I may never know.  Still, I deserve a kick to the testicles if nothing else.

Now this is where the story gets funny because if you know me than you would completely understand that this is something I would do. In the middle of all of this “excitement” somehow we get on the subject of politics. (Me being from the South they joked that I hated Obama) That’s when, in my drunken stupor, my mind went from thinking about sex like a 14 year old – to politics. I started in on all of my beliefs and proofs – many of which you have read in this blog. I think the fact that I subconsciously care more about economics and politics than a naked women is clearly more shameful than being in the room with two naked women while I’m married.

In the end I convinced two very liberal women that Ron Paul is an excellent choice for president and that many of my “pseudo-socialist-libertarian-naturalist” viewpoints are incredibly valid. This made me feel AWESOME since both of these women were clearly well educated executive types. They could have very well been my boss. To make matters worse I went on a rant about integrity (while ironically showing no integrity at all).

That’s about the point I felt completely disgusted with myself and realized I was about to force myself to leave and take a very expensive cab ride back to the hotel, alone. So I excused myself and took the walk of shame down to the hotel lobby and shook my head when I noticed the sun was coming up.

I hailed a cab, cringed at how much it cost, drank a lot of water and coffee, took a shower to rinse the disgust off of my body, and went back to work. Now I’m just trying to forget these memories of blatant idiocracy on my part. The shit I feel right now in the form of a massive hang-over, the credibility I may lose from all my “many” readers, and any negative consequences that come from what happened – I deserve.

I’ll leave you with a the most memorable quote from the night (please excuse the language): “You are an impressive young guy. I would hire you and I would fuck you, but not necessarily in that order.” How do you forget something like that?

Wrigley Field and the Cubs

I’m in Chicago at my first ever Cubs game at perhaps the most classic baseball stadium on the planet and a foul ball comes rushing toward me hit by a cubs player. I catch it – Perhaps the best experience of my sports life as a spectator! Then to top it all off the Cubs rally in the 9th to win the game and storm the field. Best $18 I’ve ever spent on a sporting event ticket. Also, not a bad way to spend your first night in Chicago on a business trip.

She doesn’t get it

I like Facebook because it really is a good measure of what people are thinking. That’s also what scares me, a lot. Take a look at this conversation that I was FORCED to comment on. She clearly didn’t get my point. Keep in mind this is a college educated women who is working to become a doctor – God help us all. My comment is in the red box.

Click to Enlarge

This isn’t the first such rant this women has posted online. So if you were wondering, yes, there really are people like this out there.

The funny thing is – I’m sure she didn’t get my point at all.

Change Examined

I have noticed that certain things in my life stay almost exactly the same while other things change all the time. I mean its almost too easy to break my life into distinct stages – but at the same time I can easily identify things that have always been constant.

For example, I can remember a time when I was little and I lived at home with my parents in South Atlanta. That was hell. I remember middle school when I honestly thought I was going to be an NFL football player. I remember in high school when high-school wrestling was all I thought about. Looking back I realize how ignorant I was, but it also amazes me how I made so many great decisions almost by chance.

On the same token some small things I do seem to be almost unchanged. I’ve had the same haircut, basically, since I was 17. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t go for a run regularly. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have this feeling in my gut that I’m supposed to do something “great” with myself – although what I thought I’m supposed to do has changed several times. What I’m talking about reminds me of this post I wrote a long time ago.

Just a couple of years ago I was spending most of my time with college friends, doing a lot of drinking, working at a dining hall, and quite frankly living the dream. I wonder why now I feel obligated to live a life like the one I do. I would be perfectly content being poor and living like a college kid. In fact, I’m hanging out with those guys again this weekend – I wonder why I don’t do it more often. I’m horrible at keeping up with people. My best friends from high school I’m not really even friends with. The ones from college I’m slowly letting drift apart. Memo to self: preserve friendships.

Anyways, if you have made it this far I commend you. This has turned into quite a meaningless ramble that will surely add no value to you at all. If anything, just know, that if you think examining you life is a little weird – you aren’t alone.

The exciting part is realizing that you can do anything you want. The trick is just doing it, I guess.

The Problem with the Buffet Rule

I follow Barrack Obama on twitter. Recently every tweet has been about the “#BuffetRule”. Reason after reason why the rich should pay as much or more as a percent of their income in taxes as the middle class and poor. On the surface I get it – but are we asking the wrong questions?

I mean I saw this push a mile away. When Buffet first published “his” article (or at least an article he endorsed that his secretary probably wrote for him) I knew a push for higher taxes was coming. All in the name of “the rich paying their fair share”. But why are we asking ANYONE to pay more taxes. The rich paying more taxes doesn’t mean the rest of us win, just that we all lose.

Instead of asking the rich to pay more taxes to catch up with the rest of us, why not lower taxes for everyone else? I know an increased tax on the rich will not benefit me. They’ll probably use it to buy more body scanners that I’ll have to opt out of in the airport. Or maybe they’ll find another country to invade in Africa.

If Obama wants this so bad why doesn’t he promise 100% of it to education or food for the poor? No one knows for sure where the extra cash is going. I mean, why are we trusting the Government with MORE or OUR money? Oh, all for Universal Healthcare and to “level the playing field.” Right? I doubt it.

Currently the US pays as much or more in taxes as any country on the planet. Notice how many of those countries have Universal Healthcare. In fact I just returned from Japan who pays about the same tax rate as us, but has Universal Healthcare. How can they do it, but we can’t? Maybe it’s because WE are the Japanese military!

So why are we agreeing to MORE taxes again?

Any good business man (even bad ones) will tell you that the easiest way to add to your bottom line is to cut expenses NOT add revenue (via taxation for the government). So why aren’t we focused on balancing the budget and maybe, just maybe, cutting back on the military. Why are we concerned about getting involved in Africa and staying involved in the Middle-east. I thought this was the “peaceful” democratic party!

If it doesn’t bother you that our Government can find excuse after excuse to increase taxes instead of lowering them for the rest of us – then we have lost. We will continue war-mongering. We will continue deficit spending. We will continue giving more and more power to those who already have it.

If you really think that raising taxes on the “rich” will in any way benefit you, you’re crazy. If you think this isn’t benefiting the most powerful “1%” – then you’re wrong.

A quick summary of my week in JAPAN

I have never really been to a place and not known where to start when describing it. Then again, until now, I’ve never been to the other side of the world. That’s Japan.

One one hand I can’t believe how similar Japan is to what I’m used to. I mean almost everything is in English (at least English subtitles), technology is everywhere, I can barely go anywhere without hearing American Pop music, and there are McDonald’s all over the place.

In contrast nothing is the same. The nuances are all different and the details aren’t even close. The train rides are quiet, personal space is valued above all else, perversion and smut seems to be accepted as part of life, the laws are based on common sense, and there is a certain cultural quality that I can’t quite put my finger on that makes Japan truly, well, different.

The Never Ending City
Every city I have ever been to pales in comparison to the sheer size and population of Tokyo, Japan. Atop the two tallest buildings in Japan, even on a clear day, I could not see the end of the city. This amazed me.

Dislike of Americans because of the Military
A few trips to the local pubs and after a few drinks the Japanese really start to loosen up. That’s when I found out that overall the Japanese do not think very highly of Americans. Why? Because the Island of Japan houses thousands and thousands of military personnel. Personnel that have been trapped on a military base all week or on a boat for months and decide to “blow off steam” in the Japanese bars and clubs.

For a culture that is relatively quiet and outwardly conservative a bunch of routy and aggressive Military guys tend to stand out. They also tend to be disrespectful and culturally incensitive. It’s no surprise to me – most of these guys are trained for war, but hanging out with the civilian population of a people we dropped two nuclear bombs on not too long ago. It’s not that all military guys are bad, it’s just a few bad apples.

The good news is, at a personal level, the Japanese people are willing to get to know anyone. As I found out – they also make great drinking partners!

Why Drinking at Local Bars is GOOD
Other than just to get intoxicated drinking at the local watering whole is great for meeting people. In a single night in Roppongi, the “club and party” district, I met a group of Dutchmen, a Scotsmen, several Canadians, a Swissman, and of course Japanese. This was all at my table. It seems good company attracts people no matter what country you’re from. I also found out that I do a great Scottish accent, my wife looks French, and I could be either Australian or American.

We discussed politics, our home towns, exchanged emails, bought each other drinks, had an arm wrestling contest, missed the train, had to stay out until morning, and danced the night away. I can honestly say it was a blast and I learned more about other countries than I ever did in history class. And just in case you were wondering… Yes – I did teach everyone how to fist-pump like an American :).

Old and New
Amongst the modern design and never ending city-scape is a hint of the old. Shinto shrines older than any living person on the planet – older than and living person for the past few generations. They are stragely peaceful and beautiful – even to a secular American like myself.

I have to admit that cleansing my soul with sacred smoke and water, asking for a prayer, and leaving behind a bad fortune made me feel eerily at peace. A beautiful Oasis in the heart of mayhem.


Quirks
Don’t point. Walk on the left hand side. Keep your voice down on the train. Walk in lines not side by side. It’s legal to drink alcohol on the street, but no one does (why?), it’s okay and often attractive for women to dress like dolls, prostitution is “almost” legal, everyone knows multiple languages, the streets are clean, it’s WAY too expensive to drive, public transportation is awesome, and the exchange rate is horrible. Just a few interesting tid-bits about Japan.

More to come
There is so much to say about Japan that I think writing about each subject will have to be individual posts. Plan on hearing more specific analysis in the coming weeks.

Japan and Back

I made it back from Japan. It was an amazing experience. The culture was unlike any other I’ve experienced and I will have stories to share for at least the next year. I may be changed forever.

Since I’m experiencing some jet-lag and I have to travel again for work – on the same day I get back from Japan (poor planning on my part) I will leave you with a few photos from the trip. Many, many more stories coming in the next few days.