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Stupid Cure

Is there a cure for stupidity? If there is, I want it! Of course the actual daily post question is how would you spend $1 million to reduce stupidity in your area. 

That may take some time. One million is not nearly enough. As is my wont, I would go for the pragmatic solution. First, we need to invest the million in a diversity of projects that will yield dividends to live off of, and some high returns to build up the fund. This allows me to devote my full-time efforts to the cause. Next, we apply for non-profit status as a group devoted to improving education, test scores, blah, blah. Some of the initial outlay would have to go for a nationwide campaign to raise awareness. Donations are tax deductible, so it’s the smart thing to do. Donations could be rolled into the portfolio and further, global advertising, as well as invested into local real estate. Ostensibly this gives the organization a home base to work from, and property that can be leveraged as collateral (only if necessary). By this time my job at the organization is filled with work and travel (in order to promote the cause), therefore I really should get a raise. Not too much, just enough to look responsible but not greedy. As my own investment portfolios increase my net worth, I buy off the groups investment property, thus benefiting the group make making their assets more liquid. These properties can be rented out only to those who don’t rank too high on the stupidity scale. As my strangle-hold…I mean investments in the community continue, the renters would be pushed out to the properties furthest from the center. This would be for them an upgrade. This process continues until I can reasonably ask for and get a pension I can live off comfortably indefinitely and there is no one else living in a 1-mile radius of my home, thus reducing the stupidity of my area quite a bit.

OK, so even if I am the only one there, the stupidity rate is pretty high. And then this post will surface and the populace will turn against me and arrive on night en masse with pitchforks and torches. And it is a lot of work I would be making for myself, anxiety over investments, &c. Scrap the whole thing. I’ll go for the more spiritual approach. Pocket the whole sum and work on improving my stupidity via world travel, stress reduction (I hear the Caribbean is particularly good for this), and education. We got to start right where we are, with ourselves right?

Live Forever!

With a few provisions. First and foremost is of course that the contract option of eternal afterlife remains in force, subject to the usual conditions. In addition, the choice does not preclude the ability at some future point to learn or discover how to read minds either directly or indirectly, or to profit from either choice. The assumption is that the two options are mutually exclusive only at the time the offer is made and accepted. Re-licensing issues would need to be agreed upon as well.

However, before taking that leap, and signing on, we must pause, ever so briefly, to contemplate the conditions and consequences of each choice in the light of history. Having watched just about every episode of the Twilight Zone (and that includes the hour long ones) growing up, I am instinctively, almost neurotically paranoid when it comes to accepting offers of supernatural powers. Sure, I would like to assume the best of others, but in these cases, the odds are stacked significantly against it. Look at literature throughout the ages as well. In almost every case, you know, just know, who is backing the deal and even if by some miracle the person thus granted such abilities does not lose his or her eternal soul, involved in that process of repentance is a heavy dose of contrition and pain. No thanks! Most of the time, though, the signee loses big. Remember that episode of the Twilight Zone where the guy signed over his soul so that he couldn’t be killed. How long was it until he wound up in jail for murder? And guess what, he got a life sentence (this was back in the day when it really was more of a life sentence than what is meant by the term as used today). Not Good. Game Over. Dr. Faustus, though refusing to drag his love down with him, did not make it himself, but was only to be consoled that she, in her death had gained heaven.

Now, in the past few decades, there has been a trend toward adapting this deal with the devil in order to downplay the impending doom. It is a dead cert in these modern stories that the main character is going to have a change of heart and be given an out at the last gasp so that everything works out OK, and everyone gets to remain alive and in improved circumstances! In Bedazzled, for example, at the end God and the devil are sitting down  together and discussing how things worked out with the implication that they were both on the same side just helping this guy grow into a more successful and well-adjusted person. Theological implications aside, I am getting tired of the ‘nothing bad ever really happens, and everything can be made just like it was’ genre. That isn’t to say that we don’t grow through adversity, or that God can’t use the poor and/or evil choices of others for good–far from it. But these “negative” consequences don’t just go away.

So what is to be done? I mean, if we are going to choose the live forever option, we certainly do not wish to be subjected to an infinitude of sappy movies and books, right? Just look what happened to those poor crew members in “Mystery Science Theatre 3000.” No! We shall not have it! Go back and read the old stories, find the new movies or remakes that pull no punches. As one wit recalled, in Shakespeare it is easy to differentiate his comedies and tragedies–in the comedies, not as many people die. And what kind of blogger would I be, were I not to offer some starting points upon this grand adventure? N.B. the mind reading option, though usually not in the eternally-damned category of Bad Things that Happen, still turn out pretty bad.


Sucker Punch. Live Action. Not for the young, nor the faint of heart, those easily confused by the blurring of realities or the squeamish. Lots of action, great choreography, some great lines and loads of symbolism–most of which I am sure sped by me. There is a lot of humor for those acquainted with a large genre of movies and literature. It is not, not, not, a comedy. But it is well done. A more in-depth review is in the works, but I will need to watch it again. There is also a Kindle version for significantly less, and a blu-ray extended edition.



The Three Musketeers. Dumas trans. Pevear. Excellent book, but you must get Pevear’s translation. I have an in-depth review of the Three Musketeers elsewhere with reasons for preferring this translation. This is no sappy-movie remake with airships, this is the original. And while events fall on the for-the-better side of things by the end of the story, it is certainly not of the happily ever after variety.



The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. Marlowe. Christopher Marlowe was a contemporary of Shakespeare. No punches pulled in this play. Suffering, bad choices and the corruption of morals abound. It is all the more poignant and ironic, in that Faustus was truly more aware of the enormity of the consequences, but thought he could handle it on his own, make the deal, get the power and remain unaffected by it.  Excellent play and not very long, and Marlowe isn’t much given to judging the characters for his audience and injecting “here’s the moral of the story”–he has a much higher opinion of his audience. The edition I read it from was an excellent, older paperback borrowed from the university library. The book pictured is I believe the same, but looks like a decent edition in any event (check out the book images), has several other plays as well, and the necessary end notes to render the plays comprehensible. There is also a free edition of the play for Kindle owners and another print version, too.

Enjoy, and share in the comments any other movies or books that pull no punches, and why you think they are great.

Machiavelli’s Means to and End

Today’s daily writing challenge concerns the end and the means and the possibility of justification for said means before, during or after the fact. The Stick of Justification swings both ways, depending upon who is in charge, and it can look pretty mean at times.

Whenever I hear this phrase, “the ends justify the means,” there always since very young has been the idea of Machiavelli along with that. And with Machiavelli comes the pallor of evil. Where did I get these impressions? They came from just about everybody’s reaction to his name. There was a certain grimace of discomfort, and I always had the distinct feeling, that though one might mention his name in hushed tones, saying it out loud, or asking as I was wont, what the big deal was (I was quite young, and no one would ever tell me), was Frowned Upon and a Bad Deal all round.

It was not until college, and my junior year, that I sat down and read the beast. All the years of mystery surrounding this man and his work “The Prince” came to an end. Actually it was quite a good read, and interesting. Now, I’m not saying these impressions that had been inlaid into my psyche were baseless. There are a number of, shall we say, dicey moral decisions he is advocating. But there are two points that stood out in stark contrast to all that I had heard about “The Prince.”

The first is its hypotheticality. The second is the specificity of the situation discussed and the generally overlooked good council as regards the subjects of a prince and his interactions with the military. Plus, Machiavelli’s recommendations are backed by illustrations from classical battles as well as internal fights of the organized gang leaders. Organized crime in 15th Century Europe! Great stuff and written, unlike much history, not to bore but to involve. More specific points are in order, but it is late. Till then.

First Strike

Is it OK to strike first? The vagaries of English have struck first. They like to do that. And anything English does, is A-OK by me.

My hope is that I will strike it rich. In that case, I really don’t care who went first. If it is the first grocery store to strike, well then it depends how hungry I am. Hungry = Don’t strike first. But then my stomach has kind of struck first already, so technically they wouldn’t be striking first.

In bowling, it is tantamount to strike first and often in order to rack up the highest score. If you know that you can pull off the first strike successfully, then you may also be able to parlay that into a liquid commodity procured via the wallet(s) of your defeated foe(s), from the bar.

Tyoes usully strike fist and may go unoticed. Thankfilly I find and eradictate them all! I laugh at there feebil attempts! Bwahaha! Note: Apparently typos have feelings, too. As I was typing this last sentence, three words flashed on the screen. YULE BEE SARI, –THE TYPOS Not sure what they meen, but their only tpos aftr all.

Jackie Chan’s First Strike was a fun movie. Lot’s of action and not too much plot to get in the way. And he got to wear a marine land shark character suit.

If you are a pitcher, you job depends on striking first. If you are the batter, though, you ought not ever strike, first or otherwise.

Other than those times listed above, I’d have to say it really depends. Thankfully I am rarely in situations where I will have to attack. Sometimes, too, it is better to wait and let the other strike first. This is becoming more apparent to me playing chess. It goes against my natural instinct to wait. I like to capture pieces. Unfortunately, I find myself at a distinct material disadvantage in the middle game, without a clear recollection of exactly how that came to be the case. If I wait, I am more likely to keep even or even be ahead a point or two. It makes the difference.

BTW–since I wrote that section about typos, I have hit way more wrong keys than usual. Funny. But just in case, I hereby offer formal apologies to THE TYPOS.

300 of/f

300 more posts.
300 less of terrible movies “adapted” from really good books or stories.
300 virtual spam-attack dogs.
300 more keyboards with accompanying fingers to catch up on my what is becoming a majorly-epic-nanowrimo fail. (1667 words a day didn’t seem like a lot until I tried to actually write them. My inner editor is a tough little so-and-so, but he’s going down).
And lots of other stuff.
Most of all–300 less hectic days, and 300 more consistent posts.

What will the kids say?

What would I hope my kids would say, had I any, when grown up? Obviously it means when they grow up, which will be before I do. If I am going to have imaginary kids, they might as well be extraordinarily precocious. I would hope they would say what a weenie I was for not posting an answer. Having posted that answer, the consequent paradox would rip the time-space continuum a big one. I would be able to step back through time and warn myself, so that I don’t write the post. This closes up the paradox. But now there are two of me. Masquerading as myself, I log onto WordPress, and go ahead and write the post, causing another paradox, another me, &c. until I a) get tired or b) take over the universe.

Why such a short, and straightforward post today? Well, it’s November 1st, and NaNoWriMo has officially begun. I’m saving up my really weird writing for that.

∃n: n is Shakespeare

Did Shakespeare write the plays that bear his name as author? That is the question. And given the recent hoo-haw about this perennial question rummaging about the minds of folk due to the release of the film Anonymous, a fine question well played.

Thankfully I remembered my helpful acronym: WWRSCD. That is “What would the Reduced Shakespeare Company Do?”

They did a really funny podcast about it. Now, I had seen their Reduced Shakespeare video some years ago. I bought and enjoyed their Reduced Shakespeare book. I should have tumbled to the fact long before this, that they would have a website.

So now I have one more compelling reason to procrastinate upon my postaday writing, but as the Bard has so aptly put in the mouth of Polonius, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

Oh, I almost forgot to actually answer the question posed for today’s topic. Yes, I think Shakespeare existed. Yes, he wrote most, if not all of the works attributed to him. No, it is not too much for one person to write (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, et al.). Yes, he took ideas from other sources (except perhaps Cymbeline). Yes, every writer does that (it is tautologically unavoidable). No, he was not just some illiterate buffoon, not that there would be anything wrong with that either.

Time to Go

Knowing the time to gois a more deeply philosophical topic than it might seem at first sight. And that sneaky postaday poster person has tried once again to lead us astray by throwing in a couple of semi-red herrings. At a party? Meeting for coffee? Oh, no, my dear friends. To plumb the depths of this topic would be to strain, indeed were it even possible, to breach the limits of blogdomhood!

But not wishing to push that ephemeral envelope so nigh upon the witching hour, and being in part a brass tacks kind of guy, I will limit myself to a few of the more practical and obvious observations.

At a party depends upon whether or not one is the host. If one is the host and it becomes to tedious, one just leaves (perhaps to meet someone for coffee–see next). Assuming that the party-goers can be expected to refrain from an unreasonable trashing of the place. If this is not the case, merely release the attack dogs. Which leads to the alternate case. If one is not the host, it is most definitely time to go, and I cannot stress this point too strongly, as soon as the attack dogs have been released. At least this has been my own experience.

Meeting for coffee assumes that the individuals are congregating in neutral territory. Depending upon circumstances this can be quite exhilarating. Proper etiquette demands that one remain at the coffee shop no more than 2 hours after closing. If it is cold outside, one might even be inclined to play a little game of chicken to see who wimps out and leaves first. (Among those who study game theory, this is known as a losing game.) At indoor locations that operate on a 24-hour basis, e.g. Norms, the results are quite unpredictable and many positions turn out to be non-winnable.

Speaking of games, when an ancient master from Japan wields his board of 361 points and mystic bowls filled with black and white, it is most definitely time to Go.

Lastly, in this brief tour, when a toddler of un-self-assured training says it’s time to go, well then dear reader, it’s time to panic.

Beauty is only

skin deep? It is cliche. But sometimes there is truth lying beneath the surface of cliches. You just have to look hard enough. Is it not interesting that we should call it “skin deep” to imply that beauty is just on the surface or only superficially appreciated? Skin is a surface. It is the conduit of communication, complex communication between beings. It is not its own, some autonomous thing, but lives as a connected part of the whole being. Thoughts are expressed, hidden or disguised. We see how others react, get a first sense of who they are through their skin. We can’t see inside or truly know their thoughts. Touch can be light and playful, friendly, caring, or intimate. This surface, this skin, is more than just skin deep.

So what then is beauty? Or rather, what makes someone beautiful? It is only one thing, that which makes a person beautiful. Not how they look, or touch, or how they make your heart melt when you look into their eyes. Not their hair, their laugh, or impressive intellect. From their deep being wells up the beauty that can express itself in manifold ways. No two are exactly alike. Like good art, it may be difficult to define, but we know it and respond to it when we are in its true presence.

You’re Fired!!

Well, I would like to hope that I never get that “opportunity.” Then again, I don’t like hiring people or deciding who should and shouldn’t be hired.

If I ever did have to fire someone, depending upon the circumstances, I think the best way would be to get them fired up about leaving. Commiserate on how bad the environment is, that they don’t seem to be enjoying their work, and point out how much happier they would be in some other career. Discuss with them the things they don’t like where they are and how they think they are perceived by there co-workers, including me. Hint that their days may be numbered at the current place of employ. Help them decide what they are good at and motivated to do. Either they will decide to leave on their own or they will shape up their act. (OK, that is a false dichotomy. Realistically they may do neither, in which case, and as gently as possible, I would state that they have been fired, what points–in my opinion–they need to keep in mind at their next wonderful and exciting career, and wish them luck.)

Accuse me of sappy idealism, if you will! I care not! Like it or lump it, we have formed a relationship with those we work with and at times to whom we are the bearers of the news that that relationship is about to embark upon new and uncharted waters. Each of us is a human being and upon that count requires of us that others be treated with dignity. (This sounds a lot more sappy and fluffy than are my intentions for it to sound. Basically I mean that we help when and how we can, offer guidance if it is appropriate, because we are all in this together. I don’t mean that they shouldn’t be fired, or that you have to agree with them and do everything in your power not to hurt their feelings. Stuff (that is Life) happens. But I do mean that we should try not to humiliate or embarrass them. If it needs doing, God’ll see to it, and in a way that will be for their benefit (even they don’t believe it at the time–trust me, I know from first hand experience).)

For those unacquainted with Tristram Shandy and other works of the on-another-digression-ilk, Yes!–those are parenthetical remarks within parenthetical remarks. No apology is offered.

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