Monday, January 16

Being Special

Confession time! I was an avid reader when I was younger. I still am to a large extent, but my interests have diversified and I have friends that I spend time with now. Still, I read a lot when I was in elementary and junior high. I would read everything. I burned through children and teen series like Animorphs, Goosebumps, and even a few Babysitters’ Club. Around my freshman year of high school, Michael Crichton and John Grisham became my favorites. There was always one thing that irritated me in these books though. The kids. I don’t why they did this, (maybe because they didn’t know any young kids or something) but those two could not write believable kids. They were always too perfect and never died. The ones that boiled my blood the most were in Jurassic Park: The Lost World and The Witness. The adult characters couldn’t stop praising how clever and brave these little kids were. I, being about the same age or older, couldn’t help comparing myself to them. Now, you need to understand that I was a bit arrogant at this age. There were about seventy other freshmen, and I was at the top of the class. I thought myself pretty smart and was enraged that these fictional characters were getting all these kudos. “Just give me a chance,” I thought, “and I’ll show them up. I’ll even stop the bad guys way faster.” This was unbelievably arrogant of me, being jealous of fictional characters. On top of that, I had no real reason to feel this way. My world was fairly insulated, and I had managed to not realize that there were millions of people smarter and more talented than me.

So this finally brings me to my point. At some point in my life, I was told that for every person alive today, there are sixteen dead people in the past (which is a really stupid and impossible to accurately calculate statistic if you think about it. Still it gives us a starting point). Seeing as how there are over six billion people alive today, that’s a lot of people who have walked this planet. I’m not special. Everything I’m decent at, there’s at least one person who did it better and had other talents on top of that. Then you have to figure that there is a whole pile of people who didn’t have the same opportunities as I had, and, that given the chance, these people would exceed me as well. Short of the Day of Revelation coming upon us tomorrow, there is going to be a lot more people better than me as well.

I think we all need to square this fact with ourselves. We are not the best and probably won’t be so. Failing to realize this will only lead to disappointment. Once our egos are stripped away by this though, I believe we come to something better. We see our shared relationship with the rest of humanity, recognizing that we’re all in the same boat, and are able to see that their being and existence means as much as ours in the long run, hopefully leading to mutual respect and fair treatment.

I think this was a pretty good post.


Something I’ve been wondering about recently is evolution, particularly the development of non-physical traits. Preferences and tastes are what I’m especially holding in mind. I guess this post is at least partially inspired by a National Geographic or Discover article my mom showed me some time ago about a study on what people find disgusting. As I remember, some things people found disgusting, like kissing in public, were cultural. Other things though, like dead and rotting animals, were found disgusting universally. Could there have once been ancient people who found decay enticing and feasted upon it only to be killed by the diseases carried? My question then though is what prevented those same ancient people with the hardiest immune systems from surviving? Were there just too many and too virulent diseases on their rotten meat? Are we born with some innate tastes that keep us alive? Do we know as babies to avoid rancid pork and molding bread?

There’s no doubt in my mind that tastes are rather heavily influenced by nurture. If a person found themselves in financial difficulty, say a college student, for a while and spent that time eating a lot of cheap ramen noodles, it’s not hard to imagine that they won’t like them later in life. On the flip side, some people learn to enjoy foods they once hated. I hear truffles are like that.

Something worth thinking about I guess.

Monday, January 9

Thoughts on Journalism

One day I hope to be a journalist, preferably for a newspaper or news web site. Thus, my thoughts often turn towards this topic. I recently have had a number of post worthy thoughts on journalism, but none of them are long enough to justify a single post, so, if you'll bear with the schizophrenic nature of this paper, I'll slap them up in my usual manner.

I was reading an article by the International Herald Tribune today on recent attacks in Iraq and arrived at what I believe to be a rather unusual revelation. Though the reporters hold nothing back when detailing the deaths of 'the good guys' (those whom the readers are most likely to sympathize with, in this case being the American and Iraqi soldiers) I don't believe I've ever read how many insurgents died in their fights with American and Iraqi forces. I do understand most attacks are carried out through suicide bombings, where it's pretty obvious how many insurgents died, but what about these skirmishes I keep hearing about. Short of surviving insurgents taking the dead with them or injured fighters dying away from the action, shouldn't there be bodies that can be counted? Why do our news sources shy away from this? Do they fear it would make us appear brutal in the case of many dead insurgents or pathetic if there are few enemy deaths?

Before I left for college, my dad asked a reporter who used him as a source for stories on the Outdoors page for his thoughts on journalism and was told that it was the worst paying job this side of working for the Department of Natural Resources. Well, there is one way I figure to get rich through journalism, be a liar. More than a few of those publicly denounced journalists were in the running for a Pulitzer prize, and movies have been made about their lives. As long as money can buy happiness and allow these fallen writers to hide from their failure, they're living pretty well.

Saturday, January 7


Today I will post what I believe to be the closest thing to an original idea I've ever had. It's possible that you've heard this or variations of it before, but I came up with it independently. All similarities are coincidences. I'm fond of telling people this personal philosophy when we walk somewhere together, and they find themselves stopping and waiting for me because I walk so slow. I don't remember where or why I first came up with it, but it was greatly refined during my Literature class this semester. While reading The Odyssey, the professor introduced two terms, dilatory and teleological. Both relate to journies, dilatory being the tendency to enjoy the journey and avoid the end, and teleological is the desire to reach the end, complete the journey.

Anyway, here it goes. What is our destination? It's not some store or friend's house. For all of us, it's death. Our lives are nothing more than a journey towards our eventual deaths.

Whoo, great idea Chris. Going good so far with all your originality. Hold on though. It gets better.

A have a number of problems with modern American society, but one that bugs me is our tendency to rush, driving headlong into whatever destination takes our fancy. For all our lives, we're told to look towards the future and keep our eye on the goal. When we're young, we focus on the time when we get our driver's license or turn twenty-one and can start drinking legally. One of the most cliche lines in the world is "Are we there yet?" As a society, we don't care about the journey. Only the destination. I think we really need to readjust our priorities because this is screwed up. Though death is not something we should fear, it certainly isn't something we should be rushing headlong towards. Life is a journey and is all about that journey. The destination is really a secondary concern. If we keep caring only about the destination, we are missing so much. I say we need to slow down. Bike instead of drive, walk instead of bike, and admire our surroundings. Enjoy or, at least, pay attention to every moment of our lives a little more.

You know, if anything affected this idea it's the town where I grew up. Baudette, Minnesota. Population 1,400. About two hours away from any city worth going to. In school, I was happy if my team only had to drive an hour to get to our meet or whatever. There have been more than a few times that I've spent more time driving to than spending time at the place I ended up at. If I only cared about the destination, I would have wasted a lot of my life on the road.

Looking back on this post, I see that it really resembles the aphorism "Stop and smell the roses," but I'm still proud of my idea.

Wednesday, January 4

A Stupid Idea That Needs To Be Proven Wrong

I came up with this idea maybe a year and a half ago. I was taking a Philosophy course online and decided to make up something that made absolutely nosense but was logically correct. Anyway, I worked out this clever idea, and now it's driving me insane. If you asked anyone if it was right, they'd tell you it didn't make any sense, but I can't see what's wrong with it. So, I'm posting this in the hopes that someone smarter than me can prove it wrong.

Here's how it goes. Noone assumes that all change is instantaneous. In books, it's cliche to write that something, let's say a person's hand, moved faster than the eye could follow, almost appearing in some new place. We know, however, that the hand had to move through points between its beginning and end. But you can't measure these points. Let's say the hand started at point zero and ended up at point ten, moving in a straight line. At one point, the hand had to be at points one, two, and so on. But the hand still has to get from point zero to point one, so it has go through points one point one, one point two, and so on. Do you see where I'm going with this? No matter how little you divide up the distance, there will always be a gap that the hand magically teleports past. Thus, these changes are instantaneous, skipping over some points.

Please, someone prove this wrong. It's such a stupid idea, but I can't do it myself.

Monday, January 2

Creepy Calls

Today I was working on my finances and had to call up Wells Fargo because I was paranoid that my credit card wasn't being fully paid off and that interest was building up on me. Anyway, I called up their 800 number and was greeted, unsurprisingly, by a machine. This was a special machine though. Now only did it have a speech recognition system, which I avoided using as much as possible, but it was designed to sound like a real person as much as possible by using phrases like "Hold on while I look that up" and "Okay, here it is. What do you want to do now."

This really irritated me. Come on. It's obviously a machine since it speaks in that jilted, recorded way and asks you to speak your needs into the phone. I guess Wells Fargo is trying to make calls a little less stressful and personal, but the voice is just creepy. I know you're a recording. You're not fooling anyone, so quit faking humanity! Hearing the computer tell me "Okay, here it is" makes me laugh and then I get redirected to who knows where because of the stupid speech recognition system. Personally, I would much rather talk to a real person, even if the spot had been outsourced, and they had a thick accent. At least jobs are being created then.

On the bright side, when I ended up talking to people, my problem was quickly solved, and I shouldn't need to call back anytime soon.