Friday, February 26, 2010

International Conflict

Today the USA hockey team plays the Finnish team in the semi-finals. As I've mentioned before, we're a mixed-nationality house. But all things considered, I hope you'll all understand if I cheer for Finland to win. I mean, come on. Team USA has dominated the medals. Finland has three--and no golds.

I'm cheering for Finland.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Segregation based on health care?

Where I work they have the president's health care summit on the television. I can't see it, but I can hear it.

Some genius is going on and on about how we eliminated segregation based on gender, disability, and other factors, and now he wants to eliminate segregation based on health care.

This worries me when the people leading this country don't even know the meaning of a simple word. Since when are we setting up "premium coverage only" sections on buses? Where is the "insured only" drinking fountains? Where are the "uninsured" high schools?

Perhaps he knew full well he was using the wrong word, but used it anyway because of it's emotional connotation. Even so, it's probably a good thing I don't know who that was. I lost all respect for him.

Men only do bad things?

Here's an interesting YouTube video about the disappearance of men and the rise of misanthropy.

Interesting video, but I will take one exception to it. The narrator claims that misandry is a word. Not according to Websters. Misanthropy is the word he may be looking for, and it is accepted by spell-check.

EDIT: I checked in the Oxford English Dictionary, and "misandry" is a word in the British English. But since it's evidently not a word in American English, and MS Word is made by an American company, I wouldn't place too much stock in that particular argument.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

If Vonn is drawing all the attention it's not her fault

It seems US Skier Julia Mancuso is annoyed by teammate Lindsey Vonn's popularity. While her remarks may be true, it's the nature of the sport. And with me, at least, Vonn's popularity is perhaps more deserved.

I admit my opinion is based only on a single medals ceremony; one of the first, when Vonn won gold and Mancuso won silver. Mancuso was wearing, of course, her trademark tiara. And when she took the winners podium she had to add a saucy dance to her waving. Vonn was much more staid, pumping her fists a few times, but otherwise keeping it more dignified. To be fair, both women placed their hands over their hearts for the National Anthem, and it appeared as if Mancuso were even singing along. But the podium dance rubbed me the wrong way. It's a small difference, but Mancuso seemed to be about "look at me", while Vonn seemed to be more about "look at this moment." What can I say? I prefer my winners dignified and a little awed at their success.

Certainly it's Vonn who has the media's attention, and no, it's not fair. But she could have it for all the wrong reasons, too. Ask Bodie Miller what that's like. It's not like Vonn did anything particular to become the media's Face de Olympique. I doubt she would feel at all bothered if the attention were elsewhere.

Mancuso's remarks also belie a predisposition to attention-seeking. The reality for most of us in the viewing audience is that women's skiing gets but a small percentage of the overall attention. Lindsey Vonn is no more important than, say, Apolo Ohno, Evan Lysacek, or Lindsey Jacobellis (how'd you like that kind of attention, Julia?). To assume that America is focused on Lindsey Vonn is untrue at best, delusional at worst.

Relax, Julia. There's enough limelight for everyone. You've already had more of it than I'm likely to ever have. Try to make sure it's not the wrong kind of attention.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Will we turn a blind eye to antisemitism this time too?

Sweden, where Jews were once given refuge during WWII, is now becoming a hotbed of antisemitism. Does this mean that for all our supposed intellectual and moral progress we're no better today than we were seventy years ago?

I hope not.

Glenn Reynolds on why spirituality is more popular than religion

Citing a Pew Research Forum report, which cites young people as being spiritual, but not religious, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit had this to say:
Well, that’s because religion often tells you to do things you don’t want to do, or to refrain from doing things you want to do, while spirituality is usually more . . . flexible.
I'm not sure if he considers that a bug of a feature, but he hits the nail on the head. Far too much of the so-called spirituality today centers around the idea of God wanting our attention, but little more. The idea that God may actually expect certain things of us beyond a generic, flexible "being good" is inconvenient at best.

No, the inconvenient truth is that God has a plan for us, and that plan calls for us to meet certain standards of behavior. Attempts to water it down so that we can feel better about ourselves with less effort will not work out well for us in the end. I mean seriously, do you really think you can tell the creator of the universe that "I'm sure you didn't mean all that 'thou shalt/shalt not' business. Here, let me show you what I am willing to do for you, though."?

Good luck with that.

I envy the Dalai Lama

When recently asked for his opinion on the Tiger Woods situation the Dalai Lama admitted that he did not know who that was. Boy do I wish I could say that.

Once it was explained to him he added:
“Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that’s important,” he said. “Self-discipline with awareness of consequences.”
I can't argue with that.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Multi-national households and the Olympics

My wife is Finnish. Not that American television shows that many competitions where the Finns are competing (unless, of course, there's an American with a good chance of winning competing), but it does make it fun to have more than one nation to cheer for.

Am I glad that Shaun White won the Half-pipe gold? Sure. Am I thrilled that a Finn got second? You bet! With the Finnish ski-jump team not quite living up to its usual powerhouse status so far, I'm all for Finland developing some depth in other areas, too (4 of the top twelve snowboarders going into the final round were Finns).

I'm also backing the Finnish hockey team, just so you know. I want them to beat the Swedes first and foremost, but if they go on to beat Team USA, I'm fine with that. I love my country, but I don't believe can't do with a little humbling from time to time. And if someone's got to do it, why not my adopted country?

Go Finland! Hyää Suomi!

Monday, February 15, 2010

How not to make a sale

My business partner and I had a conference call from someone who had promised to show us some things that would improve our business. The presentation was light on details, heavy on sales pitch. We were okay with that.

But then he went into full "used-car salesman" mode. When we wouldn't commit to a sale right away he decided to do us a "favor" and go talk to his supervisor. Sure enough, he came back with a wonderful new offer about a third lower than the first one--if we acted right away. We were not about to act right away. We needed time to think about it.

But time was one thing he absolutely did not want to give us. Every time we would tell him we wanted to think about it he would keep countering with various reasons why we didn't need to. Some lovely gems:

- If we didn't like charging the amount to our credit cards he could always set us up a business account so it would be charged to the business. This, frankly, was an insult to our intelligence. Debt is debt, whether it is owed by us or by the company we own. If we aren't sure we can afford it on our personal credit cards we are not going to be any more able to afford it if we charge it to the business. It's real money, regardless of where we charge it.

- When we asked for a couple of days to think it over he initially agreed, but then countered by asking what could possibly change in two days? He added that all that was likely to happen in two days was that we'd talk ourselves out of it. I can't argue with that. He hadn't really made that strong of a case for his company's services. If he had, we'd still feel good about it after a couple of days.

The bottom line was that no matter what we said he wanted us to decided right then and there. People like that annoy me. They obviously do not have faith in their product. They do NOT want you to think about it, which is always a red flag to me that you should do plenty of thinking.

My partner was much nicer than I was. I gave up about 2/3rds of the way into the conversation and walked away. Had it been my phone I would have hung up on the guy. I don't have time for jerks like that. I've got plenty of fly-by-night shysters calling me now that I have a registered business. I don't have that much time to waste on them. I hope to never hear from that one again.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Why I like Country music

Lately I've become bored with the classical music station when I'm out driving, and the Lite Rock station plays obnoxious trash more often than not, so I once again checked out the Country station. Within a few minutes I heard:

- A song in which the subject acknowledged God's place in their life.
- A song reminding us that our life here on Earth is temporary, and so shouldn't we all do more to help one another along the way?
- A song about how wonderful the singer's wife is.
- A song extolling the virtues of hard work, family, and simple living.

I do like some of today's pop music. But very little of it has to do with me. I'm not in that lifestyle anymore--if I ever was. I'm in a lifestyle that seems to only find its voice in Country music. Not that all Country is that way by any means. There's still plenty of heartache songs, total lust songs, mad at the world songs, etc. to go around. But all in all, Country music is the only genre left that still respects and cherishes the things I respect and cherish.

As I get older I find the message is becoming more important than the medium, and I can overlook the nasal voices, drawls, and twangy guitars that still characterize much of Country music because of its message. If you're looking for sophisticated music you'll probably want to look elsewhere (but then again, you'll also discount much of the music world in any genre). But if you're looking for music that isn't ashamed to stand up for hard work, honesty, religion, fidelity, family, loyalty, patriotism, and traditional values, Country is pretty much it.

I thank God I'm a country boy.