American’s have pretty much always taken pride in their individuality. It has kind of been woven into our cultural DNA. It isn’t too hard to understand why; I mean the original Pilgrims came to the new world because they wanted be able to practice their individual religion (that is a nice way of saying to escape religious persecution). The opening up of the west helped to further foster the growth of American individualism. Since there are no more frontiers for us to spread our individualistic wings, we Americans have taken to showing our individuality in other ways; and that is through customization.
Today we customize pretty much everything that we own. Don’t believe me? Remember the Bedazzler? Yeah, that thing still exists and its sole purpose is so we can <cough> customize our clothing. We can buy accessories for our mobile phones that make them more individual. However the thing that most of us Americans have taken to customizing more than anything else is the automobile. It isn’t too hard to understand why; the car was and is the ultimate in personal freedom. It is all of our getaway vehicles, it is a personal sanctuary where we can play the music that WE like and actually have control over where we are going. It is no small wonder then that many of us wish to customize these rolling cocoons of personal space; in fact the vehicle accessory market is an estimated $257 billion dollar industry, so yeah, we like to fix our cars up.
Well, despite what many Americans might like to think, we are not the center of the universe, automotive or otherwise. There is another country that has the individuality gene deeply ingrained into its society, and that is Australia; and like Americans they also are a little car crazy down there too. So crazy in fact that there is this guy (I guess it is a guy) has decided to part ways with his Hyundai Excel, which is emblazoned with a custom paint job, featuring Rhianna and Katy Perry. According to the owner/seller the paint job cost $4,000 Australian dollars, and he is willing to part ways with his trusty and custom high mileage steed for the low, low price of $2,500 Australian dollars — BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!!! For those same $2,500 Australian dollars the owner will throw in “4 extra tyres and spoiler.” Yeah, that will seal the deal.
In this country the government requires us to get a permit for just about anything and everything. Some permits are understandable, such as a driver’s license. I mean with as poorly as so many Americans drive who would want just anybody who can reach the gas pedal to be behind the wheel of a car? A gun permit is probably a good idea too. Again, I know I don’t want just anybody who walks off the street to be able to get their hands on a gun. Don’t mistake this to believe that I am anti-gun, I am not. I just think that there are some people who probably shouldn’t have a firearm in their possession. Some building permits are okay in my book too. If you are building an office space or multifamily residence, then maybe having some oversight as to how these structures are built makes sense. However, if you want to build a shed in YOUR backyard then I think having to get permits to do so is a little too nanny state-ish.
That last example is touching upon where the state, local, and federal government gets a little too happy with this whole needing a permit business. Sure permits raise revenue, but at the same time they really make for the abandonment of common sense at times too. We all have heard the story of government officials shutting down a kid’s lemonade stand because they didn’t get a permit. Well, sure, but it is a nine year old with a lemonade stand, I mean c’mon man. I believe the primary function of most permits is simply the source of revenue that they generate, and in Arkansas they have taken the need of a permit to a whole other level. If you wish to hunt for bigfoot in the state of Arkansas you will now have to get a permit to do so . . . let that sink in for a little bit . . . a permit to hunt bigfoot — all I can say is wow — to be fare it isn’t an actual hunting permit, but still.
Consider this as part two of yesterday’s article, which was about a high school boy who was expelled from school for Tweeting a few “F-bombs” on his personal Twitter account; even though these Tweets took place well after school hours and off of school property. Anyway, I began that article with a comment that the internet may be one of the greatest inventions in all of human history. For those of who haven’t read that article I simply mentioned how the internet has improved productivity and efficiencies for businesses. I also mentioned how the internet has transformed how we act as consumers, and how it is transforming the way in which entertain ourselves. Lastly, I mentioned that the internet has provided an almost infinite amount of information to tens if not hundreds of millions-if not billions of people’s finger tips. The internet is also a great way to keep in touch with friends and families, as well as exchanging ideas, opinions and data.
Well, this is where the internet seems to be in its evolution right now. The rise of social media websites seems to be unstoppable, and unfortunately with that rise we have to take the good with the bad. Such as the unfortunate high school kid getting expelled for having a potty mouth and broadcasting it so the whole world (or at least his followers) can see. Then there are the countless stories of people losing their jobs over some careless posting on which ever social media outlet of their choosing. Well, the latest “craze” (I don’t know if craze is the right word or not) is Pinterest, which is apparently a site where lonely housewives post photos on each other’s “pin-boards” as a way to share family outings and the cute thing that their cat did. Pardon my facetiousness, but wow, that sounds exciting. There is one area however that I have deliberately avoided, with regards to the internet, and that is porn. Yes the internet has done wonders for the adult entertainment industry, but it has (to my knowledge) yet to catch the social media craze, until now.
Where Pinterest may be geared towards the lonely housewives, Snatchly can be said to be geared around lonely men — period. Snatchly is the name of a new social media website where its users can post and exchange adult material that they fancy. According to the website, it is a place where you can “personalize your porn,” oh joy, just what we all need. Thinking back to my earlier comments, I think that the internet may actually be the worst invention in the history of mankind . . .
The internet is arguably one of the greatest inventions in all of mankind’s history. I mean outside of the domestication of animals and development of agriculture, which are far more important than the internet, I can think of few things that could be conceived as being a greater invention than the internet. Funny, just as I typed that I thought of several things that could be argued as more important that the internet; but I will press on.
The internet is almost magical in how multifaceted it is. It has increased efficiencies in the work place (though some may argue it has decreased efficiencies too). It has increased efficiencies in commerce. It has increased the speed at which information can be spread, as such making an almost infinite amount of information available to hundreds of millions of people, who may have never had access to such information. It has and still is redefining how we consume, react to, and interact with media. And the internet has been instrumental in bring people closer together (some studies have shown it has actually driven us further apart) than at any other time in history via the many social media outlets.
It is in this last area where the internet has caused some stumbling blocks for many individuals. People have been fired from their jobs because of posts and or pictures they have put on their social media pages. People have been denied employment because of the same thing; and now a high school student in Indiana has been expelled from his school because of several “F-bombs” he dropped on his Twitter account. Here’s the thing though, the dropped F-bombs were tweeted while the student was not on campus and they weren’t even dropped during school hours. Austin Carroll was filling the Twitterverse with foul language at 2:30am, and yet despite all of this the school stands by its decision of expelling Mr. Carroll. This raises one of the ambiguous areas over social media; do posting/Tweeting things in such a public fashion still fall under the one’s right to privacy? In this kid’s case it obviously doesn’t. To read the article click here.
Like most men I have a favorite team in pretty much every sport. Thanks to one Michael Jordan I am a Chicago Bulls fan. Living the vast majority of my life in the South, I am an Atlanta Braves fan. In professional football I am a Buffalo Bills fan, because I really loved the way they played in the late 1980’s through the early 1990’s — yes I know they lost four Super Bowls in a row, but how many teams have achieved such a feat? In the sport of hockey I like the Tampa Bay Lightning. But there is one level of sports that can illicit blood feuds among many sports fans in this country; and that is at the college level.
I am a pretty devout fan of my alma mater, though I have to admit that I am not one of those who goes into mourning whenever my beloved university’s sports teams lose. I guess you could say that I am passively passionate. The interesting thing about college sports fans is that there are a lot of really diehard fans who have never even attended the university for which they root for. In fact some of the most passionate fans of my alma mater were never even students. I don’t really know how that happens, but it does and to each his own.
Speaking of rabid college sports fans; for those of you who are not huge college sports fans there is this little thing going on called “March Madness.” That is the nickname given to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and it can illicit quite the rise in school spirit from the fans of those teams who made it into the tournament. Well, the “Final Four” will play this Saturday pitting the Kansas Jayhawks against The Ohio State Buckeyes at 8:49pm EST, and the Kentucky Wildcats versus The Louisville Cardinals at 6:09pm EST. It is the Kentucky/Louisville game that can shed some light on how crazy some college sports fans can get. First of all I need to point out to the uninitiated, Kentucky and Louisville are instate rivals, and in the state of Kentucky college basketball is HUGE. So, this game really means something to the fans of both schools. It means so much that one particular fan of Kentucky wishes to go to the game (which is being played in New Orleans) so bad that he is actually selling his wife on Craislist. Not selling as in actually selling her. Rather he is selling her, umm, services if you catch my meaning. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this is one of those fans who didn’t actually attend his beloved University of Kentucky. You can see his Craigslist ad here.
There is just something about superheroes. I mean what is not to like, or at the very least very cool about altruistic individuals with extraordinary powers who are there to keep the populace safe and secure from the actions of evil doers? Of course this requires a large amount of suspension of disbelief by us mere mortals, because there are no humans that I am aware of that have superpowers. Then again, these characters were never created with the idea of jaded adults in mind. No, the target audience is and was by and large young boys. Also, the creation of these superheroes came about at times when there was a heightened sense of a need for them. While I am by no means a comic book collector and as such I am not fully versed in the creation of ALL comic book superheroes, I do know that many of the most popular and longest lasting superheroes were created at points in history when the idea of these characters would certainly resonate with these youngsters (and I suppose some adults too).
Superman for example was created in 1932, at the absolute depths of the Great Depression. Captain America was created during World War II. The X-Men were created in 1963 as the Civil Rights movement was really beginning to gain traction with the public. But my favorite superhero of all time has no superpowers what-so-ever. He is none other than Batman. He too was created in the 1930’s (1939 to be exact) which again was during the Great Depression, as well as the rise (and perhaps peek) of Mafia crime bosses power, influence and terror upon cities, and of course 1939 was also the year that World War II broke out in Europe. I can only imagine that to many people, young and old, really thought that the world was going to hell in a hand basket and that it needed a hero.
Well, apparently law enforcement feels that it doesn’t need any help from the caped crusader anymore, because in Montgomery County Maryland they pulled over and ticketed Batman for driving an unregistered car. Batman wasn’t driving the Batmobile though, which one would expect to be a fully registered vehicle (yeah right). No, he was pulled over driving only what I can presume to be his daily driver, which is a Lamborghini Gallardo. As a fan of Batman I am more than a little disappointed in him. Shouldn’t a superhero, who is supposedly fighting to uphold laws and bring to justice those who break said laws, shouldn’t he then follow one of the simplest laws to abide by; that being to properly register your vehicle in accordance to state and local laws? We really do need a hero now; don’t we?
For many of us adults, we might have learned that it is pretty difficult to make close friends; particularly if you have moved to a new area recently. This isn’t to say that it is hard to meet people, quite the contrary — that is unless you are a total introvert/recluse of course. No, instead it is to say that because we tend to be so busy in our daily lives, what with having to go to work every day, and taking care of all of the responsibilities that comes with adulthood, that we often find that when it comes to meeting peers with similar interests and dispositions whom we would want to spend some of our limited free time with becomes a little more difficult. To be clear here I am referring to meeting and making best friends, not meeting and find a significant other; though that isn’t too easy either.
When we were children, the friend making process was much simpler. This is basically because we were put together with others in our same age group in our respective classes five days a week, and many of those children lived either in our own neighborhoods, or at least nearby, so that we could then associate/commiserate with them outside of school. We often times also ended up playing in youth leagues with some of these peers too, thus further increasing the possibility that we each find at least one like-minded soul that we could form a bond with and become best of friends.
Well, apparently this process of making close and potentially lifelong friends has been deemed a not so good thing by a number of primary schools in the UK. Under the guise of protecting the children in those schools from the potential hurt that could come from the possibility of a break-up with a best friend, these schools have decided to not allow the children to play in small groups or form clicks. Instead the children are encouraged (forced?) to play in large groups. I know the intentions are good, but you know what they say about best intentionsâ€¦
I am not an overly religious person. That is not to say that I am an atheist or anything, because I do believe in a higher power, it’s just that I am not sure you can place that higher power under the umbrella of a particular faith. Now, before I dig myself an even deeper hole with many of you, I will just leave my views on faith and spirituality at that. Okay, with all of that out of the way, let’s talk about sex — that was a nice segue wasn’t it. There are a lot of people who are very devout in their religious beliefs, and for this instance I am focusing specifically on those of the Christian faith and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, we are all only human, and we do have certain baser instincts that are at times a little hard to keep reigned in — by baser instincts I am referring carnal desires. So, what are devout Christians to do to satiate these urges?
Well, rest at ease because a Dutch priest (yes a priest) named Marc Angenent who has decided that good Christian people needed an outlet (no pun intended), but not just any outlet, a tasteful outlet for them to explore their sexual desires. Right now I am sure that many of you are wondering just what kind of outlet I am referring to? Rest at ease, it isn’t anything overly salacious, although I guess that depends on how devout a Christian one might be. What this good Dutch man of the cloth did was create a website that sells marital aids, but without all the smutty pictures. The name of the website is “Liefdestuin,” which translates into “Love Garden” in English. As of right now the site is only in Dutch, but if there is anything that is a virtual constant, that is that sex sells, and I can only imagine it is a matter of time before either this site, or a similar sites sprout up in any and all languages that are spoken in Christendom.
Have you ever heard of the list of seven words you can’t say on TV? Here’s a hint, they’re all curse words, and just because I know how must everyone thinks, you can click here to see the list. As you can tell from that Wikipedia article that the list isn’t an official list, rather it was part of a comedy bit by George Carlin, but I think it is safe to say that those are words that are rarely if ever uttered on network television. They are also words that we have long been advised to remove from our vocabulary by our parents, and teachers when we were growing up. I remember when I was in third grade me and my friends trying to quit cussing; like we were addicted to it — yes we were like the South Park kids, foul mouthed little third graders. So, basically all of our lives we have been told that cussing is bad. Well, as it turns out we might have been a little bit lied to.
In another one of those “you can get funding to study that?” studies researchers have found that cussing at work can actually be good at building relationships . . .Huh, who would have thought? According to one professor when a public figure slips up and cusses then they actually become more relatable to the public at large — and yet when a public person does let a cuss word slip, they usually get castigated by the media; go figure. Of course this new study doesn’t mean that we should all go rolling into work and just start letting the F-bombs fly at will. We need to remember another little thing from our parents and teachers; there is a time and a place for everything. So don’t start the morning meeting with, “How the f*&# is everybody?” You probably shouldn’t drop the f-bomb when speaking with your boss, or when introduced to a new client; but when hanging around the old water cooler talking to your colleagues about the game last night, then you might be able to get away with it. It all comes down to using your best judgment, as it is with most everything in life.
I really should have focused more of my academics towards the studying of any of the sciences. I have a bit of the nerdy geeky gene in me; I just never fully nurtured it and let it flourish. No, instead I decided to concentrate my pursuit of knowledge in the realm of the liberal arts (English Lit. major) and the social sciences (minored in history) ; at least the word “science” is in there right? Of course I know that scientists aren’t exactly known for pulling in the big bucks, but I think we all have heard about those who get liberal arts degrees, they’re favorite phrase is, “Hi welcome to McDonalds, can I take your order?” So, it isn’t like an English Lit. degree opens the doors to prosperity.
One reason why I think I should have focused more of my attention towards the sciences is because it is a highly academic atmosphere, meaning that you are in constant pursuit of knowledge, and I like to continue to learn new things. Another reason is that in this pursuit of knowledge you can get grants (which is essentially free money) to pay for these studies. And apparently you can get grants to study just about anything; and I mean ANYTHING! Recent studies include the addictive properties of ice cream, that men behave dumber around women they are attracted to, and this latest one, that push-up bras make women behave more confident. At the risk of sounding like a misogynist pig, that last one is another reason why maybe I should have taken a more scientific bend to my education; but I digress. As it turns out when women wear a push-up bra they tend to exhibit more signs of confidence, such as holding eye contact, and smiling more often than those when they were not wearing a push-up bra. Just another example of how science makes the world a better place . . . I think, I don’t really know because I am not a scientist.