Thursday, July 28, 2011

Great Diet Tips, Given By Someone Who Has No Idea What They Are Talking About

Something a little different this week...

Dieting is hard. I have to do it a lot, my girlfriend and her mom are constantly on one, and there's no fun in it. So I decided to put some fun in there :)


So you want to go on a diet and stay on a diet, but you have no motivation. I have plenty for you.
1. If you are 250 pounds and have no chance of being a wrestler, that's all the motivation you need. 
2. Order a pizza. Now don't eat it. Can't do it? Then you need a diet plan.
3. Do house hold laps. Sit on the couch. Now walk into the kitchen. Now go sit back on the couch. Now go back to the kitchen. Now got sit back down on the couch. Are you winded? How many sandwiches do you now have made? If the answer is yes or more than one, that's your motivation.
4. Count how much of exercise equipment you have in your house. If you have more than one, you need a diet. Fit people go to the gym. Duh.
5. Paint your toe nails. A few days later, try to remember what color you painted them. If you can't remember and can't look down to check to make sure you're right, you may need to reconsider your lifestyle choices. Guys: Say you bought the paint for your girlfriends. There will be no cheating here!
6. Count how how many Twinkies you've eaten since midnight. If the number exceeds the number of hours you've been awake, a diet plan is perfect for you.

Tips for Losing Weight

So now you are properly motivated. Now how are you going to lose all that fat?
1. Smoke more. As long as you have a cigar or a cigarette in your mouth, you can't put food in there, right?
2. Brush your teeth more often. You know how when you brush your teeth, and then afterwards nothing tastes good? That's how this works. You'll be skinny AND have a perfect smile.
3. Don't sleep. When you sleep, your metabolism slows down. Keep it ramped up by staying awake.
4. Drink more water. If you have a lot of water in your belly, you wont feel hungry. And because it's water, it has nothing in it. So it's like anorexia, but with out the hunger pains, right?
5. Become a stoner. Have you ever seen a fat stoner? No. And yet they eat all the time. I rest my case.
6. Start a life of crime. With all the running from the cops you'll do, you have to burn SOME calories. And if you get caught, you'll have plenty of time to work out and get the body you and your cell mate always wanted you to have.
7. Sleep more. If you're sleeping, you're not eating. Problem solved.
8. Get diabetes. It forces you follow a strict diet of no sweet and not a lot of carbs. Or your foot will fall off. That's still weight loss, right?
9. Eat a lot of fiber. I know the government says to eat a lot of it, but I'm saying eat even more than that. Or even laxatives. If you eat enough, you'll get exercise by running to the toilet, and you'll poop all the food out before you can digest it.
10. Eat. A whole lot. The more you eat, the more you puke. It's like bulimia! But more socially acceptable!

Tips for Keeping the Weight Off

1. Follow all the tips for losing weight listed above. Yeah. It's pretty much that simple. Keep up the good work.

I don't see how people think dieting is hard.

All work and no play makes 10swords a dull boy, right? If this is your first time visiting the blog, it's not normally like this. Just something a little different ;) As always, I would like to know what you think! Leave me a comment or yell at me more privately. Either way, thanks for reading, and this will be back on track next week! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

"You Can Call Me By My First Name: Doctor"

These were the first words spoken by one of my professors on the first day of class. He was attempting to seem tough to weed out the people who wouldn't do the work in class, but it brought up an interesting point in my mind. Where has all the respect gone?

I think this was the first professor many people respected

I would like to ask you, dear reader, to think back a few years. Near the end of his presidency, what did many people call George W. Bush (This isn't a trick question, smart alack)? Many people referred to him as Mr. Bush. Now, that may sound alright, but think about it. He was President of the United States of America, whether you like it or not. His title should have been, at all times, President Bush. The same thing happened with Barack Obama. People were so used to saying "mister," they referred to him as Mr. Obama, instead of Senator or, later, President Obama.

Now let's get a little closer to home. How many of you are on a first name basis with your bosses?  Or your Professors? Instructors? Anyone in a higher position than you? Seems great, doesn't it? You can get all chummy with them, forget the formalities, and just be happy with your relationship with them. But do you realize how many problems that actually causes? Think about it. How much harder is it to tell a friend that they messed up than an underling? How much more difficult is it to command respect in a crisis if everyone thinks they're on the same level when the situation needs a leader? The answer is a lot. Some people just don't get this. There needs to be a distinction in the hierarchy, and titles serve this purpose.

To go along with respect of position, how about respect of accomplishment? If someone go through college, gets through grad school, and miraculously gets their Ph.D, shouldn't this be commemorated in no other way than to say "Dr. Derp?" If someone puts eight or more years in with a company and gets promoted to manager, should they not be referred to "Mr./Mrs./Ms. Herp" to show respect to their hard work? Something as simple as a title can do wonders in establishing the chain of command and, in some instances, making it harder to shift responsibility to someone else (Yes, that was a jab at bad bosses. I'm not completely putting down the little man here).

There are people like me and my friends who use titles as a show of respect out there, and usually it's appreciated. But then there are people in the higher up positions that try to buck the titles system. "Dr. Kevorkian" insists on being called "Jack" (this is just an example). In the classroom, office, or treatment room, "Jack" seems to be a cool guy. Then a group of people in the setting you picked above start to cause some trouble for "Jack." "Jack" needs to do something to curb this behavior before he gets put down. But because he has never commanded the respect he deserves and needs, he is detained by the situation, rendering him ineffective. (I had more fun writing that than I should have...)

You see it everyday in some businesses. Just the other day at my job, one of my coworkers came in thirty minutes late. The supervisor on duty, who insists on being called by her first name, should have and had the authority to send him home for being so late (his shift was already covered). But, because there was no line of distinction between friend and boss, she couldn't find it in her to send him home. Think of the hard feelings if she had made the call herself! So she had to call her boss (who had the day off) to make the call to send him home. Same result, but it took longer and more people than needed got involved. And in a business atmosphere, wasted time is wasted money.

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't be friends with your boss. Go ahead. They're a person too. But there needs to be some distinction and some respect shown in the work environment. Yes, you can play golf with "Sally" on Saturday. But on Monday, you had better have your TPS reports on "Ms. Bakersfield's" desk by 5 p.m.

Sure, this may seem elitist, but we know that this system works. I reference the military. "General Jackson," "Private Stern," "Captain Pierce," just to show some examples. There are hardly any problems identifying the chain of command there, and part of that is due to the titles they hold. This system may not exactly work well in the civilian world (though I would like to see this to some extent), but the simple Mister, Missus, or Miss does go a long way in ensuring order is maintained and things get done in the proper way.

Titles help in more ways than many people know. Sure, they may be a hassle, and yes, we may not respect the person to whom the title belongs, but the chain of command needs to be clear and respect needs to be given when it is due. And when push comes to shove, if nothing else it makes the higher up's job easier by allowing them to do their job without having to step on an underling's toes.

What do you think? Too elitist? Or were our grandparents right about showing respect through titles? Tell me what you think! Leave a comment or contact me so we can discuss this!

Friday, July 15, 2011

March Of Morons

Did she do it? Did she not? Does it even matter?

Does this look like a guilty mother to you? Wait... Maybe not the best example...

Ladies and gentlemen, if you haven't heard about the Casey Anthony case, I envy you. I truly do. Because quite frankly, I'm sick of hearing about it. near 24 hour coverage on Headline News, constant coverage during the trial, THIRTEEN FRIGGIN' TOP STORIES ON CNN.COM, Facebook groups in response to the verdict, it's all a bit much, don't you think?

 Before I move on the the meat of this article, let me get something out of the way: the verdict was made. Get over it. You may not agree with it, but it was final and legal. The prosecution's case sucked, a jury of her peers found her innocent (and it was a well diversified jury too, by the way. It reflected the people of the community well), and she still served time for lying to the cops. Yes, this is justified too. She was arrested and held for murder. She sat there for three years. Three years behind bars for a crime she was acquitted (not found innocent) of. The bigger injustice was if she didn't get time served. The defense created reasonable doubt, and that's all that was needed. The American justice system was set up to protect the innocent, and while some people may slip through the cracks and get through loop-holes, it works (mostly). Live with the verdict. It's final.

That being said, why the heck was the case so big? Kids die all the time. Mothers kill their children all the time. Huge volunteer searches for bodies happen often. What made this case so special? The news media. Without them, this would have been an open and shut case. Without them, the case could have been settled out of court, or taken longer to get to court so the prosecution could get more evidence, money could have been saved finding an impartial jury, court proceedings could have gone smoother, and overall real justice could have prevailed if the cameras were just gone.

Everyone had to show off for the cameras. The stinkologist was brought in, the charge was murder one instead of something lesser, the case was brought to court way too soon, all for some of the lime light. And the media ate it up. Here was a woman that was easy to make people hate, easy to vilify, and a case that could be made into a top headline for weeks to come. The whole thing played out like a bad daytime soap opera, and had a similar audience. Why wouldn't the news media jump on it?

In the process however, they turned people into an angry mob. They strung the viewers along, leading them to one and only one conclusion: Casey Anthony is guilty, should be found guilty, and will be found guilty. As far as the news hounds were concerned, there was no other alternative. And of course, their simple-minded viewers who had every bit of the case spoon-fed to them with a little added spin and conjecture went right along with it. When the great jury that would surely find the woman guilty acquitted her, it was suddenly a bad jury, a stupid one, and, as one woman put it, a jury that should "be shunned by society." People wanted a retrial (double jeopardy anyone?), people wanted justice! This jury didn't do justice! They heard a month's worth of testimony, saw all the evidence, deliberated for 10 hours, and analyzed all the facts without the media explaining it to them! How could they have come to an informed and correct decision?! 

See the problem here? Outside the courtroom, it's all spin. It wasn't impartial. If anyone thought that maybe, just maybe Casey may get off, they were ridiculed or censored. Is that any way to do the news? (Full disclosure, I may have a bit of a problem with the media). Not only that, this whole civil suit for defemation, it's an attempt at double jeopardy. "Even Al Capone went down for tax evasion." Yes, but he was tried once (in that case) and even then the punishment was too strong (for tax evasion). To get Anthony on a civil suit just because she didn't get the murder charge is a last ditch effort by the mobs to "see that justice gets done."

Then there's the after-trial part. This part just dumbfounds me. Casey Anthony was acquitted. It's finally over, right? WRONG! All of a sudden the media goes into overdrive. The cash cow is almost dry! Time to milk it for all it's worth before it's cold, dry carcass is unceremoniously kicked to the curb. Huge speculation on if Casey will do porn now, how much she can get for a book and/or movie deal, how the mobs are going to attack her when she gets out, and, here's my favorite, a countdown timer for when she goes "free," as if she hasn't already paid three years behind bars for a crime. She's not going free. She's paid her dues, and with the mob that's going to follow her for the rest of her life, she may as well be in prison for the rest of her life. 

It's all a huge problem that could be solved it we just let the justice system do what it's supposed to do. No cameras, no media, no hype, just prosecutors, defendants, cops, evidence, and the law. As soon as anything extra is added, is justice really done? Can the system really properly compensate for all the cameras and hype? Of course it can't! Jurors need to be impartial. With the spin of the media, they form too many judgements before they even get to hear the case. With mobs of people on the outside, there's pressure on the jurors to give the popular decision, not the proper one. Not to mention the vigilantes that Nancy Grace herself could have spawned (I fully expect at least one murder attempt within three months of when Anthony gets released). 

So, when it gets down to it, where's the justice? Was it not done because Anthony was acquitted? Or was it not done because the justice system wasn't allowed to work properly? You have my opinion. You make your own from here.

So what do you think? Was justice done? Or was it spat on? Am I right? Or did I miss something? Tell me what you think! Leave a comment or contact me to share your thoughts! 

I hope you enjoyed this article! The topic was chosen by fans of this website (last week, this topic was chosen). If you want to get involved, join the community on Facebook or get a hold of me on Twitter!  Your voice is just as important as mine in this corner of the internet!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Bad Games, or Bad Parents?

I'm not sure if you've heard of it, but the decision on Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association was released recently (if you don't want to read the whole document, there's a good video synopsis here and here). The back story is that California wanted to ban violent video games to anyone under the age of 18 and require more labeling of games beyond the ratings of the ESRB. The Supreme Court decided that such a law was in violation of the First Amendment, stating 
The most basic principle--that government lacks the power to restrict expression because of its message, ideas, subject matter, or content--is subject to a few limited exceptions for historically unprotected speech, such as obscenity, incitement, and fighting words. But a legislature cannot create new categories of unprotected speech simply by weighing the value of a particular category against its social costs and then punishing it if it fails the test.
I thought this was a great ruling, but it begs the question, what's wrong that people think such a law is needed in the first place?

Is this really so hard to understand?

Many of my readers know about the ESRB, but I think it's worth discussing the basics of the organization. It's a self-policing body that gives ratings to video games, among other things. As you can see in the image above,  a quick glance can tell you the age appropriateness of the game. On the back of a game box, there's even a detailed description of the game, telling the buyer why the game got the rating. If you don't want to go to the store to do this research, it's all on the internet via the ESRB website. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a hard thing to understand. Let me add just one more point before moving on: Most retailers (Wal-Mart, Gamestop, and others) have policies that force cashiers to card anyone who wants to purchase a M-rated game.

With this information at hand, what was the point of California's law? Basically everything the law set out to do was already in place. My answer: because idiot parents still can't wrap their heads around simple things. Log on to a M-rated MMO and wait for an annoying, bad mouthed 15 year old kid to start screaming about how everyone but him is an idiot. Don't blink, it won't take long. How did a child who obviously can't handle such a game in a mature manner acquire it? More than likely the parents gave it to him. The same parents who are upset about the violence in video games usually, and claim that they didn't know how violent the games really are. Let's even assume that the kid didn't get the game him or herself. It was a gift from a relative. How hard is it for a parent to take the game away? How hard is it to realize the child does not have the maturity level to handle a game and then take it away until they do have the maturity level necessary?

The way I see it, the problem with violent video games is not with their content, but who consumes the content. Steps have been taken to limit what content is consumed by certain groups, but no laws have been made (until California's attempt), largely because it is not a state's, organization's, or other group's place to do so. It is ultimately the parent's (or legal guardian's) decision and responsibility to decide what their child plays. With all the resources available to guardians as to the content of the game, there are two reasons as to why children are supposedly being negatively affected by video games. 1. The parents don't bother to learn about the rating system and/or 2. the parents aren't in good enough touch with their children to know that they can't handle the games.

If the first option is the case, then we have a lot of seriously messed up parents. They don't bother to learn the system set up to help them "protect" their children, but they will cause a huge outcry at the thought of violent video games. If the second option is the case, then what right to the parents have to complain about violent video games when they have bigger problems on their hands? Everyone knows that any Grand Theft Auto game is not meant for kids, that anything that has a muscular man with a gun on it shouldn't be given to a 13 year old, and that most anything that has two people on either side of the screen fighting each other may be a bit graphic. The ESRB rating system simply backs up the obvious, and in some cases actually brings to light what may not be so obvious.

To bring this back around, what was the point of the California law? Was it to punish "bad" games and protect the youngsters, or was it to do the job that parents should already be doing? It seems to me that the latter is a more plausible possibility. Why else would a special department be set up just to put a sticker on a game that's already be rated? And why else would it (eventually) lead to M-rated games being pulled off the shelves and not sold in stores? And why would people want to set up such an agency with tax-payer money in an already bankrupt state? It makes no real sense except that maybe parents no longer want all the responsibilities of being parents in the modern age. And that, my readers, is a scary thought.

What do you think? Bulls-eye or missed by a mile? Let me know what you think! Leave comment below or contact me to let me know your thoughts!

A quick on this article. This week's article subject was chosen by the fans of this website. Next week I will be covering the Casey Anthony case (unless something better comes up). If you want to get involved in this process, join the community on Facebook or Twitter!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Is Anarchy So Bad?

Say the word "anarchy" and all kinds of negative connotations come to mind. While many of these associations are rightly feared, I say that, ideally, it isn't so bad. In fact, we are already teaching it in our schools.

To many, this is the face of anarchy. Punks, criminals, and low-lives post them in books, on walls, and everywhere else that can hold the paint from a spray can. It was denounced in the French Revolution, used against people in the Cold War if they couldn't be proved Communists, and overall has been used to describe detestable people. Ladies and gentlemen (and everyone inbetween), I would like to show you the real face of anarchy.

I would like to introduce Adam Smith, one of the early pioneers of economics, and main influence in economics today. Now, ask anyone and they may not see the connection immediately. And no, Smith was not an anarchist. But if a few connections are made, the reasoning behind what I say will be clear.

I like the short and skinny personally, so here it is: Adam Smith put forth the idea of the Invisible Hand. In essence, this states that in the absence of government (and therefore, without regulation), businesses will provide the best quality goods and services at the cheapest price in order to remain competitive in a market with no barriers to entry. Sound a bit complicated? How about an illustration?

I wake up one morning and decide to sell sandwiches on the side of the road. I gather up my supplies to make sandwiches, load up a cart, and set up my stand. There are other sandwich carts on the same road I'm making food on, and I have to be mindful of that. Following the idea of the Invisible Hand, I will keep my cart clean so that I will not make my customers sick and seem more attractive. I will make great tasting sandwiches to get return customers and spread the word about my business to their friends. I will also have a great price, covering my costs and making a little money for myself, but the price will be VERY reasonable. After a successful day I go to bed, and the next morning I wake up and decide to be a doctor.

We'll get to that last part in a minute, but this is basically what the Invisible Hand theory states. The best quality goods and services at the cheapest price in order to remain competitive in a market with no barriers to entry. I do the best I can do to be successful, and if I'm good I succeed. Conversely, if I'm bad at what I do, then I no longer have a job in that field. This applies to that last part about being a doctor. No barriers to entry means exactly that: no barriers. Average Joe can wake up and do brain surgery. However, following the Invisible Hand, he won't be in business for long. More experienced, trained, and educated brain surgeons
will put him out of business quickly. All this is only achievable without a government to make you get licensed, certified, and regulate what you do. In short: perfect anarchy.

This brings up an interesting question, however. Knowing all this, could we, as a society achieve this perfect anarchy, be led by the Invisible Hand, and become much more wealthy because of the perfect economy that would be created (by most accounts, a completely free market is the "best" market)? The realistic answer: No. The optimistic answer: Yes, but with many bumps along the way.

Sounds nuts, right? But follow me here, it'll make sense in the end. Let's say that all of a sudden the government disappeared overnight. For the sake of simplicity, let's also assume world peace was achieved overnight too, just so this example doesn't get overly complicated. There are suddenly several thousand people out of a job because they worked for the government; police, fire...people, paramedics, and schools suddenly have no funding; the military is S.O.L.; and there is chaos in the streets. Skip ahead a few weeks. Vigilantes roam the streets, businesses practically enslave workers similar to the industrial revolution, and education was a thing of the past. Not good at all, is it? Things would get very rough quickly. But eventually equilibrium would have to be achieved, and that equilibrium would be anarchy/the perfect free market. Vigilantes would still roam the streets, but with an agreed upon sense of justice that would be upheld. Education would be held in high regard so that positions like doctor and brain surgeon could be filled, but they couldn't necessarily be as important as they are now. Business owners would pay their employees fair wages because the workers are also the consumers. Innovation and invention would be very important. The next best thing could mean the difference between a short lived business and a huge market share. It would be a peaceful and profitable time to live.*

To summarize, we go along, have social World War III, and then achieve total peace and prosperity. Ideally it could work, right? Not exactly. Corporations, war lords, crime ring leaders would find a way to gain control. Human greed, the need for guidance, and humanity's propensity for violence and cruelty would make this almost completely unachievable. Not to mention the huge booms and busts in the economic cycle that would make the current recession and the Great Depression seem like the good ol' days.

So, to wrap all this up, is anarchy so bad? Ideally, no. Anarchy is equitable to a perfect free market, which in itself is almost perfect. While this would normally be something to strive for, generally people suck, meaning that even in the long run it could never be achieved, with an oligarchy much more likely. Therefore, realistically, anarchy is indeed a bad thing. Still, by just philosophizing about it, some interesting discussions can be had.

*I would like to put a special note here. You would have to pay for everything. Even the vigilantes and the most basic education. So, while ideally many people would lead profitable lives, there would be absolutely no free rides.

What do you think? Did I just waste your time? Or did I bring up some good points? Is my final conclusion correct? Or do you think differently? No matter the case, LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK! Leave a comment below or contact me to share your thoughts!