Saturday, April 25, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog (You know the rest...)

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately... I agree, for me that is always a dangerous proposition but hey, what the hell you gonna do? If I reflect carefully on how this happened I think it all started with some serious "discussions" with a friend who also happens to be a colleague. But to make this less cryptic, let me give a little background.

Donald (not his real name... I know, chicken shit... I admit it) and I got into some very heated discussions about current events. I was trying to point out how difficult it is to deal with people who are fanatical about their religious position especially fanatical Muslims or Christians. This discussion came about due to the news that I had in the newspaper next to us that the Taliban had gained control of areas that are only 60 miles from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Without too much more detail, I agreed with him that our dealings with the Taliban have been pretty lacking in wisdom in the past ( we support them against the Soviet Empire but leave them out in the cold developmentally after the soviets leave in '89... bad move). Then I tried to point out to him that it was entirely within reason to suppose that the Taliban would take the capital of Pakistan within a few years if nothing was done to help the Pakistani government.

     He was adamant that would never happen because it was "too secular a society" and "the Taliban are not a real organized group and as such not a threat." Further he said that in essence we were reaping what we had sown and that only talking with these people would help the situation. Now to be honest, these may all be valid points ( he still wouldn't take my $20 bet that Islamabad would fall in 5 years... chicken shit!) but that's not what struck me so hard.... it was the extreme pacifist vitriol that was spewing (yup... spewing ) out of him that slightly shocked me. The "I'm right and nothing you can say will change my mind" type of fanatical froth seething out of every orifice was just too much. It reminded me of the First Law of the Fanatic which states, "When you obsess over the enemy, you become the enemy."

My head has been swimming ever since that encounter. I thought I knew the man... I was wrong. But now, I have had some time to analyze the encounter and it has left me with two conclusions: [1] I have been an apologist for my friends failings and not brave enough to forcefully confront him about them and [2] I am being driven by such encounters to blog more and, as such, get my blog read by a larger audience than the two people who  follow me right now (and you, my faithful readers are much appreciated!). Yet, I have a problem of psychic or psychotic proportions to overcome (take your pick).... while working I have little time to contemplate the weighty flow of the Universe often enough to write each day with wit, originality, and consistency. And so, I come to that famous question first posed by Shakespeare's Hamlet (modified for my own purposes): To Blog or Not to Blog... 

Write me friends and give me your feedback: Write more or just keep on doing what I've been doing OR keep on doing it just more often. As for my friend and my cowardice in not confronting him, from a purely tactical P.O.V. I know that he will be retiring to another country by the end of the calendar year so the cost-benefit analysis just doesn't add up to any long term benefit in that course of action. Next time, he spews like he did I will just have to get up and walk away; cut my loses and go. As for my blogging, I await you sage feedback... Take care.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Brief Blog - "Just How Stupid Are We?"

While doing a bit of quick research on for a friend, I caught sight of a recommendation for a book. Amazon is famous for this... they analyze your previous purchases and make recommendations for purchases based on this data. I usually just take a quick glance at the texts, see the title or author, check to see if it's Kindle available, then move on to other things. After all, I have a wish list that is over 40 web pages long on alone (not to mention other places and my wish lists there) and so most of the time the recommendations don't mean much to me. 

Then a title caught my eye in a serious way: Just How Stupid Are We?  Now with a title like that, well, I decided a second look was warranted. The author is a historian, a New York - Times best selling author of Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths of American History and a commentator for MSNBC and CNN and has produced programs on history for TLC. He even has his own blog as well. Having glanced at it and digested a few paragraphs, it seems to be aimed at the need for accuracy in the debate of the body politic and he seems to do a good job. On his blog, he states the following:

Dunce Cap Scorecard: It would be stupid to say that the American people are stupid--as stupid as saying the American people are smart. It's impossible to generalize--and silly. But our politics are often stupid. And there are times when no other word, harsh as it is, seems to capture the essence of the turn politics have taken.

But what do we mean by stupid? To help determine whether a debate is stupid or not I have devised a five-part test. Call it the Dunce Cap Scorecard.

On the blog I rank debates by how stupid they get. One or two Dunce Caps is normal for any debate. Five Dunce Caps and you know you're in a deep pile of stupid.

Now this I can appreciate. I have always looked at the topic of "stupid" in a couple of ways. One - the way I have to deal with 8th graders; keep it simple for them and stick with "The Forrest Gump Rule":  Stupid is as Stupid does ( with 'stupid' capitalized for you English snobs and minutiae creeps because I consider it a proper noun in this context). Then, two, that I don't trust democracy as practiced today in America (or for that matter anywhere else on the Earth). I explain this by realizing that the power and effectiveness of democracy lies in the education and reasonableness of the constituent population - and quite frankly I don't trust any of you with my welfare when it comes to being able to reasonably pick representatives to hold public office (the new mayor of the town I live in is a perfect example - oy vay!!).

Well, time to read the book some more and get back to you later... peace and Good Luck.

Labels: , , ,