Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Acquiring Beauty

I find it fascinating how certain appreciations do not reveal themselves at first glance. There is a beauty that must reveal itself one layer at a time. The time of its revealing may depend on many factors such as your current frame of mind, your recent and past experiences, your current station in life and your overall evolution as a thinking human being.

There have been many instances where I did not appreciate some work of art the first time I approached it. Often I have discovered new meanings in familiar objects. I did not appreciate John Coltrane's "Naima" until one day it enveloped me in epiphanies of new understanding. The same was true for Albert Camus' "The Rebel" and "Spirit" by Willie Nelson, the works of Miro and a host of other works of art.

A tree appears differently in morning than it does at night, or in winter than summer or in rain than drought. The point is to keep looking at the tree to gain new and different appreciations.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Freakonomically Speaking

I am reading my second straight book on economics. This is strange since usually the idea of reading a book on economics would have sent my eyes rolling back into my head. Sure I've taught economics in the past and took many economics related courses as a Political Science (sometimes referred to as Policial Economy)/History major. But all the charts and graphs always bored me. But these two books have enlightened me to the practical applications of economics in both thought and deed.

The first is the wildly successful Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. There really isn't a unifying theme to Freakonomics. The authors even admit this. But I found unifying ideas in these principles discussed throughout the book.

1.) Conventional wisdom is usually wrong. Sometimes you must look at things from an uncoventional manner to find the true story. Sometimes you must ask unconventional questions to discover the truth about everyday subjects. Conventional wisdom is lazy. Freakonomic thinking is challenging. This explains why very few actually challenge conventional wisdom.

2.) Incentives are the prime motivator for most human behavior. You want to know why people do the things they do? You want to alter negative behavior and encourage constructive behavior? Examine the incentives.

3.) Economics should be more than numbers and graphs. It should help explain human behavior and perhaps offer ideas on how to improve our lot in life. Freakonomics is fascinating and offers interesting insight into American life.

The second book on my reading list with an economic premise is "Banker to the Poor" by 2006 Nobel Prize winning economist Muhammad Yunus. This book deals with the success of the microcredit movement in Bangladesh. It has fascinating insights in to how to approach poverty in a pragmatic and successful way. I'll post more on it later.

So to me, to think freakonomically means to think in new and innovative ways. To examine issues from a different point of view and sometimes that means boiling things down to their essence. Simplicity in perspective is often an elegant and enlightening pathway to understanding.

Monday, February 19, 2007

American Trainwrecks

America loves a good train wreck and the past few weeks we've seen a perfect storm of train wrecks. Astronauts wearing diapers, the death of Anna Nicole Smith and Britney shaving her head...ridiculous stories that have found their way on the front page of major newspapers and the lead slot on local newscasts. It's embarassing that our nation is so fixated on these trivialities. Maybe we need a dose of these stories to keep ourselves from being completely overwhelmed by the bad news coming from Iraq, Sudan and other places around the world.

One last thing. Anna Nicole Smith was no Marilyn Monroe. She was a sleazy gold-digging pillpopping two-bit stripper who got lucky in finding a millionaire sugardaddy knocking on death's door. Nothing More. Let's move on America.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

One Year Blogiversary

Today is the one year anniversary of this incarnation of Dave's Internet Lounge. The initial Lounge opened September of 2001 on a website host that looks primitive by today's standards. In 2003 the geocities version came online and is actually still up although seldom maintained. This version of the Internet Lounge was my first official foray into the world of blogging. I can no longer blog at work due to some fascist filtering programs so I don't blog as much as I would like. Nor do I attach as many links due to the fact that my home computer is still on dial-up and only gets about 46 kbps. But I still average a post about every other day or so...which is quite an accomplishment with a little baby in your arms. This post is the 199th post in a year. So thanks to all two of my loyal readers. I hope I haven't ticked you off too much. Please comment and let me know you're out there!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Cell Phone Rant

I believe it is high time that cell phone etiquette be introduced into the state's public school curriculum. The availibility of the celluar mobile phone made a statospheric leap in the early 21st century due to lowered prices and attractive long distance plans. The leap was so rapid that our culture experienced and I believe is still experiencing cultural and technological lag when it comes to cell phone use. Fortunately more and more states are placing restrictions on the use of mobile phones while driving. But more etiquette instruction is needed...

1.) Cell phones should be turned completely off in the movie theater. Even when someone is not actually talking on the phone...the light enamating from the cell phone screen is an annoying distraction from the movie screen.
2.) Cell phones should never be used while driving.

3.) Cell phones should be turned off in restauraunts.

4.) Cell phones should be turned completely off in schools and churches.

5.) Make an attempt not to be gabbing on the phone while shopping at the grocery store. People on the phone do not pay attention and often hold up aisles or run into people. Stop in an out of the way place and make or take your call in a stationary fashion.

There are exceptions, of course, in all these cases. However most Americans have no idea how to use a cell phone appropriately. You do not have to be in constant contact with your friends and family while you're driving or shopping. Disconnect from the grid occassionally and enjoy some solitude. Heaven knows how people lived without cell phones prior to 1995.
photo: Jackson mimicing his mother on the phone...told you he's smart!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Read to Feed

So far my 2007 reading list is off to an excellent start. The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin started off the year and I just completed David Mitchell's Black Swan Green. I'm almost finished with Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner and have been engrossed from page one. I will review each book as I go along but so far 2007 is off to a good reading start.

When do you read you might ask now that I have a baby to look after? I read while he is feeding. My job is to burp and change the diaper midway through the feeding session. We like to keep the television off during the late night feeding sessions to encourage sleep after he's finished. So I read between burps and changes.

I'll post a review of both the Songlines and Black Swan Green soon...but I recommend both highly. Both are more than just a read...they are "add to your life perspective" reads. Super super stuff. I'll also post my final 2006 reading list soon as well. Turn off the television and open up a book! And if you've read something a comment and let us know.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Epic Reunions

Now for some epic news: David Lee Roth is back with Van Halen and they will be touring this summer. Only downside...bassist Michael Anthony has been kicked out in favor of Eddie's fifteen-year old son Wolfgang. They'll still blow the roof off of any dump they play.

More superepic news: The Police who reunited for last Sunday's Grammys are going on tour. And they're coming to Dallas. You don't have to turn on the red light any more.

Word on the street is that Genesis may be getting back together as well. Is this the Land of Confusion or what?

Now with all this good news about monster 80's bands reuniting there is one piece of disturbing news. There are reports that Wham! is getting back together. I guess you have to take the bad with the good. If they truly want to torture the inmates at Gitmo and the Supermaxes then they should force the cons to listen to Wham! 24/7. That'll ruin 'em.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Freakonomic Snowboarding

One time Kim, her parents and I were traveling up a mountain gondola in Keystone, Colorado with a snowboarder who was riding along from the single line to fill out our five person gondola car. He looked the typical teenage shredder and was plugged in with the ubiqitous white iPod headphones. My father-in-law Tom engaged him in small talk by asking what music he was listening to. The boarder pulled out his plugs and said he was actually listening to a podcast of a book on tape...Freakonomics (which I'm reading at the time of this blog by the way). Talk about image busting...shouldn't judge a man by their outward gear. You'd expect a rider to be listening to hardcore punk/hop ski music. Instead he was listening to a New York Times bestseller about the impact of economics on society's decision making.

Anyway I put together a playlist last week of good ski music if I ever wanted to iPod down the mountain. I prefer to stay plug free on the mountain so I can enjoy the sounds of the mountain and actually talk with those I'm skiing with. But if I need some musical encouragement here's my initial ski playlist...

Monkey Wrench - Foo Fighters
I'll Stick Around - Foo Fighters
Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
E-Pro - Beck
Song 2 - Blur
Girlfriend - Matthew Sweet
Crackity Jones - The Pixies
Debaser - The Pixies
Hash Pipe - Weezer
Don't Let Go - Weezer
Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes
The Saint - Orbital
Revolution - The Beatles
Live and Let Die - Guns 'n Roses
Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet
Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz
Vertigo - U2
Pistolero - Juno Reactor
El Matador - Los Fabulosos Cadillacs

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Super Bowl Thoughts

Last Super Bowl thoughts...The game was sloppy due to rain and Peyton Manning did not deserve the MVP...the co-running backs did more to win. This game is becoming all about Manning. He had a mediocre game...there are others on the Colts that deserve more ink. The Bears defense can't be faulted for having to play almost the entire game because of their inept offense.

The commercials were bland. Not too many stick out the next day. My favorite...Lettermen and Oprah's promo for the Late Show...totally unexpected and totally funny. Super Bowl commercials have jumped the shark and are no longer a big deal. They try too hard. The Coke/Grand Theft Auto commercial was cool. Snicker's kissing mechanics was funny...but it didn't make me want to eat a snickers bar. The K-Fed commerical would have been funnier if they hadn't released online weeks in advance. And there's no way Jay-Z beats Don Shula in a virtual football game.

Half time show...disappointing. Prince started things okay with "Let Go Crazy." But he sang three cover songs...Rollin' on the River, All Along the Watchtower and The Best of You. Why was he covering a Foo Fighters song? Prince has enough of his own material he doesn't need to rip others off on the biggest stage on television. Now the Foo Fighters would have put on a killer show. I'm just glad he wasn't electrocuted in the rain by playing an electric guitar. Still, the show was better than the Britney Spears, InSync, Aerosmith show a few years ago and anything's better than that preening twit Justin Timberlake.

I had fun watching the game with my son Jackson for the first time. He wasn't really paying attention though...he's a Chiefs fan.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

No Fun League

The NFL (No Fun League) has demanded that an Indianapolis church cancel a superbowl party because it violates copyright infringement restrictions. Click HERE to read the story from CNN. The church backed down on charging people admission and using the actual words "Super Bowl." But that wasn't enough for the poverty stricken NFL. The church was planning on showing the game via a LCD projector on a large screen. The NFL states the law only permits public showings of the super bowl on tv sets smaller than 55 inches. The church ended up cancelling the party because those restrictions would make viewing the game difficult for the large number of people they were expecting.

The hypocritical thing is that the NFL allows bars and sports themed resturaunts to be exempt from the 55 inch rule and allows them to charge admission. So the only public gathering place to watch the super bowl with your family, according to the NFL, is at an alcholic establishment where kids are verboten anyway. I am a football fan and I've seen the NFL and the beer industry get cozier and cozier for years. But now they are actually antogonizing and attacking those cultural and religious institutions that possess an opposing moral code. The NFL officials found out about the party by viewing the church's website. They were proactively searching for religious offenders.

The NFL's greed would be bad enough...but that they are selectively greedy at the expense of religious organizations is inexcusable. If the NFL continues this policy then Christians should stand up everywhere and voice their concern. If the NFL foolishly ignores such concerns then Christians everywhere should be duty bound to boycott this organization that attacks the Church in such a callous and blunt manner.