Sunday, October 26, 2008

F-ing stupid Ford

Have you heard the recent radio commercial for the Ford F-150? I cannot seem to locate it online, but the gist is this: Are you tough enough to drive/own a Ford F-150 truck??? The radio ad starts of by saying you're trying to enjoy an athletic event at the stadium of your favorite team when a fan for the other team starts yelling from the row behind you. I'm paraphrasing: You have three choices, do you a) do nothing, b) ask him to be quiet, or c) shove a hot dog down his throat, sit down and enjoy the rest of the game in peace and quiet. The commercial goes on to say that if you chose option c) then you might be tough enough to drive a Ford F-150.

Listen, I get the idea of questioning a guy's "manhood" in order to motivate him to buy something. This has worked on simple minds for decades if not centuries. It works for Tabasco sauce, loud music, football, MMA, big tires, trucks, and many other "manly" things. I mean, what man in his right mind is going to think - or worse, admit - that they are not man enough to buy or use something??? Obviously that mode of advertising and persuasion is working or ad/marketing agencies would stop using it. As ridiculous as it is, I get it.

The part that really bothers me is that this commercial - and this company (Ford) - is equating physically punishing someone with "tough" or "manly" in order to sell their product. Perhaps I'm taking this too seriously, but it bothers me. If I get this commercial right, if I can beat someone up then I'm tough enough to drive a Ford F-150. Am I the only one to which this sounds stupid? To me it makes me think more of "meat head" than "tough".

Am I to assume, then, that every person - man or woman - that drives a Ford F-150 is a testosterone induced, short-fused, simpleton?

What a sad society we live in when the inability to solve a problem by means other than brute force and imposing your physical will on someone is celebrated and encouraged and romanticised. I'd rather Ford just be more straight-forward and state, "If you have a small penis, no frontal lobe, no people skills, and no problem solving skills, then compensate by driving a big truck with a loud horn so you can drive like an idiot and intimidate smart people in fuel-efficient sedans."

Either way, its safe to say this blogger will not be caught dead driving a Ford F-150 anytime soon.

"I'm sorry"

I apologize in advance that this entry is pathetically similar to the "love" entry I wrote just a few days ago, but...

Why do people get so hung up on hearing the words, "I'm sorry." I, for one, do not. But many people do; they cannot function in a relationship after a disagreement/fight/problem until they hear those words. Sincere or not, does hearing those words make everything better? Can people not function or forgive without those words? Does saying those words "earn" the right to be treated normal again solely because those words were uttered? Is it that simple?

Parents "force" their children to apologize after doing something wrong. The children learn to say "I'm sorry" to get out of a timeout, do be able to play again, to earn their treat back, but do they really mean it? Are they sincere? Do they really grasp the idea of remorse and forgiveness?

Me? I prefer someone to SHOW me they are sorry. Saying you're sorry is fine and dandy, and I appreciate the gesture, but talk is cheap. SHOW me you are sorry by your actions. Show me you are remorseful and that you are making strides to prevent the same infraction from happeneing again in the future. Show me you are humbled and earn my trust back. Saying you're sorry only shows me you have manners, and as a wise man once told me, "manners are a just a social lubricant." Manners are great, but they're not as great as a loyal, trustworthy friend.

The fact of the matter is, regardless of how many times you err and ask for forgiveness, I will always forgive you - that's not the issue - but there comes a time where I will cut my losses and just stop being around you. I forgive you and love you as a brother, but I don't care to be around you because you make me something other than happy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

McCain or Obama or Other

Lets get this out of the way: I'm an independent. I don't want to be associated with a specific party, because I don't agree with ALL of either party's motives/perspectives. I cannot be totally objective, because I am pretty sure I know who I'm voting for. But, this entry is now about who to vote for really; its more about how to vote. Let me explain...

Over the past few months I've heard people say which presidential candidate they are going to vote for and why. Some reasons are unique, but I hear a lot of people basing their decision on how each candidate will affect them personally.

For example: one person said they would vote for McCain because Obama would hurt their business. Another person said they would vote for Obama because Obama would provide better health care benefits and this person had a disease that may/will require a lot of medical attention over the next 4 years.

There are two reasons why I think this kind of narrow-focused decision making has flaws:
Firstly, when has a candidate every tried doing everything he/she said they would during a campaign? Secondly, even if they want to do something, there are enough checks and balances in the system to prevent every idea a candidate has from coming to fruition. That being said, I realize you have to base your decision on something... and perhaps it is at least a good starting point. But I digress...

The real question that those explanations brought up for me is, is it better to choose a candidate that best fits your individual needs or best fits the needs of the country?

If I choose a candidate that helps me and my relatively small group of people, is that selfish and a good use of democratic process? What about everyone else?
If I get what I want, but the rest of the country goes to shit because I don't care about anything but me, am I really going to be that well off?

Forgive me, but it goes back to systems thinking. Many people are egocentric and more or less think about how the candidates will affect them (and maybe their families and close friends) directly. Most people also are looking at the static picture instead of the long term ramifications of decisions.
But like a budget, if one thing goes up, something else must go down. If a candidate put all of the budget into health care, what would happen to education? If education lacks, are the doctors caring for us going to be as good? If they gave a tax break to businesses, who will be taxed? The employees, who will then need a higher salary to provide for their families. So which is worse for the business owner, being taxes or paying higher wages? What's the difference?
Another example is the upper class getting a tax break. They probably think its great because its so much more money they can keep. But if they get a tax break, then its very likely that the lower classes won't. That won't cause - but it could play a part - in poverty and increased crime. Who knows, maybe someone in that lower class will rob the upper class citizen who got a tax break and thought life was grand.

So, I think you get my point. Choosing a candidate over an issue or two doesn't really make a lot of sense. It seems like both candidates are aiming for similar things, but just going about it differently anyway. We're all going to get screwed the same amount by each candidate, one way or another.

I prefer to choose a candidate on who things in this order:
1) Putting time and effort into the foundation of the country. Band-aid programs really chap my ass. Treating the symptom doesn't solve the problem or change the process. Pulling troops out of Iraq makes a lot of sense for today (because you get troops out, save lives today anyway, and stop spending money initially) but what will happen after that? There's no guarantee that spending will be over at that time. (I don't mean to pick on Obama, its just a real life example.) Tax breaks sound great, but at what expense? Are we jeopardizing schools, healthcare, crime, etc? Putting more cops on the streets may reduce crime in a certain area, but only until the criminals move to a different area. I want to see a candidate put time, money, and effort into families, parenting, education, etc. Relationships and Intellect will make this company strong. With good interpersonal relationships and intelligence, success and financial prosper are sure to follow. Sure, that will take time and the results may not show up until after that president is done, but it will make American stronger longer.
2) A proven track record. I can't predict the future, but noticing a pattern from the actual past can at least be something to go by. Lofty goals are great, but does the candidate have a proven record of doing what they say and being successful?

Obviously, this is just one man's opinions. I am always very open to other ways of seeing things. Please tell me how you decide or what you think is best for America.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Love. Don't just say you do.

One of the best words of advice my mother gave me when I was younger was, "Love is an action, not a feeling." That always made a lot of sense to me. More recently, I've integrated that statement with my interest in cybernetics and communication theory and systems theory, which has augmented the idea.

One cannot love in a vacuum. Other than "loving yourself," one cannot love without an "other" to direct the love toward, an other person, thing, etc. As much as I love animals and nature, let's use the example of two people. If we consider two ideas, 1) One cannot not communicate, and 2) All behavior is communication, then it leads to support the claim that "love" is an action - or behavior or communication - rather than some abstract term representing a feeling.

Maybe its better to back up a level and discuss the idea that love has various definitions and (I think) those definitions are often mixed up and/or misused:
There is a "love" that is used to describe the way someone feels when they are getting to know someone and are excited by their interactions. Going forward I will refer to this as a chemical response called infatuation.
I will refer to the observable action or behavior - or manifestation of the infatuation - as "love".
Also, for the sake of breadth, "love" will include any and all favorable behavior - or behavior that is received as favorable by the receiver - including but not limited to romantic love, platonic love, brotherly love, parental love, Samaritan love, etc.

In our lives, do we say things like, "I love you" or "I have always loved you" or "I will always love you"? What does that mean? If person A says, "I love person B" does that mean Person A feels good inside because of the relationship with person B or that Person A behaves in a loving manner toward person B? I think too often it is the former, especially in newer and younger relationships. In either definition, does that mean that we always feel excited, every minute of every day? Does it mean that we behave in a loving manner every second of every day? Is it just a cliche? Am I un-romanticizing it by calling out its meaning?

How do we love? Are we overt with our love or do we keep it all to ourselves and just think about it? Does it do any good to think about loving? Which is better: saying "I love you" or doing something that shows love like doing the dishes or giving a back rub or playing a game or listening intently?

It might be worth asking yourself: is my love about me and my feelings or about my relationship, my interaction, my behavior with another person? and see if it changes anything.

What about hate?