I was reminded of this story today, and wanted to write it down before I forget it.
My dad was in the Air Force for over twenty years, from a little after I was born until a little before I got married. He was a navigator, planned exercises and did all kinds of stuff I didn’t understand at the time.
When my brother, Tim, and I were high school, we went to his office after school (why, I don’t remember, and I think my mom might have been there, but I’m not sure). Almost as soon as he got there, he had to go talk to one of his coworkers, leaving Tim, me, and his desk, all alone. We were bored, so started looking at all the stuff on his desk. What did we find? His super awesome, self-inking, bright red, clicky-clack noise making, CLASSIFIED stamp!
We started stamping every piece of paper we could find CLASSIFIED: Post-Its, to-do lists, you name, it got CLASSIFIED.
Dad came back in, saw everything we “decorated,” pursed his already narrow lips, put his hands on his hips and said in his sternest dad voice: “Not funny.”
We, of course, thought it was hilarious. We thought it was so funny, we got him a blue, self-inking, clicky-clak noise making, super awesome, NOT FUNNY stamp for Christmas.
We all hate spam. It’s stupid, misleading and a huge drain on our inboxes. But, what if it was short and mildly entertaining? What if spammers were required to write their misspelled grammatically horrific missives as single haikus? I think that would make things a lot better. I’ve even written some to get them used to the idea:
Your manhood too small? // Your wife will be happier // If you take our pill!
African prince here // Need help to send you dollars // Just fill out this form!
Replica watches // Built in Ukraine, look like best // (only last a week)
Russian brides for you! // They’ll love you for your money // Peruse our beauties!
Not really PayPal // Need your password, or… bad stuff! // I’m, like, official!
Someone thinks you’re cute! // But, to find out, we need cash // You poor lonely fool.
The great thing about haikus is that they easily fit on twitter too. I’ve posted a couple of these with the hashtag #haikuspam. If you write your own, tag ’em and share ’em with the world!
Sometimes, especially Halloween, I can’t help but think I’ve somehow ruined my children. Every year since they’ve been old enough to pick their own costumes, they’ve gone as something so obscure and webby that we end up having to explain it at every house we go to. That’s doubly true since we moved to Savannah and most of our neighbors are retired.
We signed up for Netflix recently, and I love it. I’m not sure why I held out for so long… Anyways, the boys have fallen in love with it too and are now ruining my recommendations by watching nothing but Mythbusters and Mystery Science Theater 3000 on it. Now, whenever I log in, the “Top Picks” list is all Jamie and Adam or Tom Servo and Crow staring at me. No documentaries or alternative standup. Nope.
(Max, if you’re reading this, I’m kidding. I just think it’s funny.)
It reminds me of the Tivo Thinks I Want WHAT?! episode. When Tivo first launched, there was an option to fill up the empty space with stuff it thinks you’ll like based on your recording and viewing preferences. Max was two or three at the time, and into Blue’s Cluesbig time. We were into The Sopranos, Oz and The Wire. So, what did Tivo think would make us happy? The Price is Right and a bunch of old game shows from the 80’s.
Collaborative filtering is great and all, but when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong.
I didn’t watch it, but Syfy had a movie called Sharktopus on last week. I’m sitting here on the couch with Brian, and we’ve decided that this mutant animal thing needs to be encouraged. So, here are our recommendations for Syfy’s next round of mutant animal movies:
Ladybug Man vs. Butterfly fish
Pigow vs Lizicken (Brian really like the VS)
Beelephant – with a stinger the size of a car!
Hippotoo (needs a sturdy perch – Jen came up with that one)
Hippoguin vs. Rhinogator
Catalope vs. Hamsterlion
Mothemone (as long as you keep your sweaters out of its tentacles, you’re fine)
Cuddlebudgie (that would be a cuddlefish+hedgehog)
I’ve registered too many domain names. I have almost fifty and most of them aren’t being used for anything. So now, instead of wasting more money registering domain names that I have big ideas but no time for, I’m sharing them with the internet! I’ve been posting them to twitter, but now that I’ve done two of them, I figure it’s time for a blog post about them. Here they are, along with the original idea behind them:
butchtutu.com – I have a horrible idea for a serial about a cowboy who rides alone through the Old West “hellbent on reconciliation” and “busting heads in the name of forgiveness”. It just struck me as a really funny idea. And yes, it’s still available. (I may end up writing this on Ficly)
bigbadbaboon.com – It’s a domain name and a tongue twister! Inspired by this awesome monkey by Jon Morris. I think it would be a great name for a design firm, heavy metal blues band or comic strip about unruly teenage mercenaries.
metaldick.com – Another serial idea about a robotic private eye who solves human cases with cold logic and learns emotions from his brassy secretary, Gladys.
Your welcome, internet. If you end up registering them and using them for either the intended purpose or something else, let me know.
Today is the third International Day of Awesomeness, a holiday I invented back in 2007. For the past three years, I’ve tried to perform a “feat of awesomeness” to commemorate the day. The first year, I dyed my hair blue, something I’d always wanted to do but never had the guts to actually do. Last year’s was less obvious, but there was a huge layoff at AOL the day before, so I wrote LinkedIn recommendations for all of my friends that got laid off instead of doing something else. This year, I walked around Forsyth Park with my friends Murray and Tom (something they do three times a week at 6:30AM), poorly organized a lunch at a brand new restaurant downtown, and am now doing part three – writing a manifesto. I wanted to write down, for the world to see, what I believe in and what I aspire to be. But, I remembered this TED Talk from Barry Schwartz and realized that he sums up most of it in 20 minutes of eloquence. So, watch it, and then join me down below.
He talks quite a bit about “moral heroes” and celebrating them. My moral heroes are pretty simple: Mister Rogers, Elwood P. Dowd and Jesus Christ. All three men (fictional or not) contain the attributes I aspire to. They’re kind, empathetic and gentle.\
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want my kids to learn from me, and here’s the (very short) list I’ve come up with:
Be kind to everyone.
Do no harm.
I think that if I can live those two things, everything else that I could do that would be considered good or worthwhile will follow naturally. As Jesus said, “And the second [great commandment] is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:39). Elwood P. Dowd, the protagonist in Harvey said it like this, “Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be’ – she always called me Elwood – ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”
I don’t know about choosing between being smart or pleasant. I hope it’s possible to be both.
And, I obviously stole the second item in the list from the Hippocratic Oath, but I think it applies to everyone, not just doctors. To me, that means not just avoiding physical harm but emotional. If you’re kind and empathetic, you’re not going to intentionally cause any kind of harm to anyone else – and you’re much less likely to cause it unintentionally.
The world is full of well-meaning people who forget about empathy. We hear it every day: “I can’t imagine anyone living like that / doing that / feeling that way / loving that person / doing that to themselves / etc.” That shows a problem with their imagination, not with the other people. The things one person can’t imagine are held deeply by others. The things one person thinks are disgusting are the deepest feelings of another’s heart. We try to legislate away everything that makes us uncomfortable. We try to push deep down inside us those feelings that we can’t express because we lack the imagination to invent the words for them.
I refuse to believe that there is too little imagination in the world for us to accept each other. Being “tolerant” isn’t good enough.
If the second great commandment is to “love thy neighbor as thyself”, then nothing else can trump that, not the Old Testament, not Paul’s epistles, nothing else in Christian scripture beats Jesus Christ telling us to love each other (if you’re a Christian that is – if you’re not, that’s fine, the golden rule is a fairly universal concept – see the Charter for Compassion).
If my kids learn that from me, then I think I’ve done my job. It doesn’t matter what else they learn from me. If they grow up to be gentlemen, in the truest simplest definition of the word, then I’ll be happy.
How are you supposed to end a manifesto? I think I’ll end it with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr, who is on my “expanded” list of moral heroes:
Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, or retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.