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27 September 2008

Remember 911?

No, I'm not bad at math, I was just away from the blogosphere on and about the 11th.

Fortunately I was able to attend however a brief - yet touching - memorial service on the 11th with my fellow responders, many of whom also responded to the attacks at Ground Zero after 9/11.

For this blog, I did not want the occasion to pass however without a mention. And dare I needs a mention.

In catching up with some of the blogs I read for amusement and the blogs I read for insight, I noted that the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks were not - if seldom - mentioned. Why I wonder? 2,751 of our USA countrymen perished at the hands of another 7 years ago and many of us swore we would never forget. Remember?


Perhaps we need to move on without the annual morose, dramatic and politicized reminder? Or perhaps we don't want to be reminded at all because it conflicts with a riveting episode of Dancing with The Stars? Legitimately too, in the past 7 years since the attacks, so many distractions have captured our attention, many requiring the prompt attention to the living; to the here and to the now. Babies, jobs, crashing economy ... and stuff. Is it possible to remember the past and still attend to the present and future with equal respect and duty?

At 8:46am on the 11th of this year, what was America doing? Last year? Does it matter? Will it matter when another attack occurs on US soil?

Memorials and similar observances help us remember, that is the point after all. Many of us were not alive when President Kennedy was killed, but I suspect that the citizens that were connected with our country at that time do not need an official memorial to pay homage to the moment that changed our country's direction. Same with Pearl Harbor survivors, etc.

I have long believed that what resides in our hearts and minds is imminently more important than some contrived event, festival or public display. So I for one understand the people who chose to keep their remembrances to themselves. How many does that apply to? After all, like weddings and funerals, they are chiefly for the witnesses; the principle players can or have done their part without an audience.

But I digress...


There is no legitimate doubt who carried out the attacks against us. And there is no doubt what they have in common with each other.

Across the pond in Britain, 50,000 Britons are converting to Islam each year and since 2001, nearly 1/2 million Britons have converted to Islam, or roughly the city of Ft. Worth Texas. The Muslim population in Britain has reached 2 million.

In 2007, the world's Muslim population was estimated at 1.8 billion, 7 million of which live in the United States. Of those Americans, nearly 20% are converts to Islam, not having been born into the religion. For obvious reasons, the percentage al-Qaeda terrorist's within the US Muslim population is unknown. It should also be noted that while not all Muslim's are terrorists, all terrorists seem to be Muslim. One doesn't have to be McGruff the Crime Dog to see the clue in that finding.

Now, lest I be labelled a bigot, being a Muslim is no more wrong than being a Christian. Long time readers can read the subtext here, I'm sure. There are a percentage of bad Christians, bad men, bad Chrysler's and bad Pad Thai everywhere. The troubling issue here is that the percentage of bad Muslim's seems to grow exponentially with the percentage of Muslim's in total. I'm not sure you can say that about other fringe elements mentioned.

Consider this...among a 2007 study of Muslim's in 4 predominately Muslim countries, the following sobering findings emerge:

  • 70% of Muslim's support attacks against US Troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf
  • Only 3% of Pakistanis believe al-Qaeda was behind the 911 attacks
  • Only 65% of Muslim's disapprove of attacks against civilians

If the even minded among you were to apply the same logic using similar circumstances but a different demographic (i.e., what percentage of Whites endorse the dragging death of a Black man?) then we would see that something is awry among the collective Muslim attitude. And that readers, deserves more than a passing glance.

To compound the problem, terrorists groups like Hezbollah and Hamas are also attracting new members because they are involved in 'social services' (to other Muslim's no doubt) and not just the wholesale killing of civilian targets (including Muslim's) like al-Qaeda is. In some circles it seems to be coming downright popular to be a US hating, US attacking, terrorist.

While some Muslim's have done a admirable job of trying to convince us that they do - in their own special way - condemn their fellow Muslim's for supporting terrorism, how do they explain the Muslim children in our schools that are "forbidden to sing American patriotic songs"? How are we supposed to react when a Muslim child confesses that her family "has a party every September 11th?" (yes, those are quotes).


Yes, 7 years have passed. And maybe 7 more will before we have another tangible reminder on our soil of what lengths our enemies will go to to hurt the innocent among us.

Is it worth us remembering? Or is it easier to forget and wait until THEY remind us?

26 September 2008

Air Travel is Absurd

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
- Lord Kelvin, President Royal Society, 1895

Oh my. Me thinks Lord Kelvin was as wrong as a wearing suspenders with a belt.

The first of many heavier-than-air flights occurred in 1848, a full 47 years before Lord Kelvin captivated his fellow royals with his profound words; and the lastest heavier-than-air flight was about 7 seconds ago at New York's LaGuardia Airport (trust me). Perhaps too many cocktails were being served at the Royal Society that day.

The first powered flight in America wasn't until 1896 by a stud named Sam Langley. Ol' Sam was a former military man and had a can-do attitude. He also knew enough to include other big thinkers on his project so he invited other inventors, engineers and the like. Hearing about their work, Langley tried to collaborate with the Wright Brother's too, but they repeatedly turned him down. Langley eventually launched his "Aerodrome" (Greek for 'Air Runner') even though it was more of a flier than a lander. His only means of landing was a controlled crash into the Potomac River (so his pilot wouldn't get hurt crashing on land). Of course, people focused on the crashes, however intentional they may have been, and not on the spectacular nature of the powered, manned, air flight. Years later, the Wright Brother's were famously credited for flying - and landing - a much smaller, less powerful machine, but with a steering and landing mechanism, and therefore they are largely known as the originators of flight in America. The brothers also sued Langley relentlessly over his flight claims after the Smithsonian Museum displayed his Aerodrome as the first "powered, manned, self sustaining aircraft." Langley Air Force Base in Virginia? Yep, that's named after him.

So thanks for those adventurers! As anybody that has ever tried to get out of Omaha in January before a blizzard hits and closes everything down can tell you, we are grateful for the expediency and effectiveness of air travel.

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Tune in to the next Absurdity Tour when we visit the Workplace!

24 September 2008

Medicine is Absurd

"If you think medicines are dangerous, try disease."
- Dr. Brian Cromie, Hoechst Pharmaceuticals (UK), 1980s

Perhaps a bit of truth to that...but perhaps a bit of hooey to that too. I mean really, have you watched TV or read a magazine lately? The litany of ads seem to suggest that we must all be dying of some terribly depressed, erectile dysfunctioned, heart diseased, artery blocked death. 'Sell the disease, not the cure'...isn't that the drug industry's unwritten motto?

A 2001 study showed that nearly 110,000 people died as a direct result of Adverse Drug Reactions. When you add in deaths from Medical Error, Infection, Unnecessary Procedures, and a few other fatal medical interventions, the annual tally was over 780,000 fatalities, while in the hands of medical folks.

Compared with heart disease (700,000 deaths) and cancer (550,000 deaths), once could make the argument that medical intervention is the leading cause of death in America. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Of course "statistics are like loose women (says Walt Michaels, former New York Jets Coach); once you get them, they let you do what you want with them."

There are plenty of people that claim 'better living through chemistry' and I'm sure we all know our fair share of folks that have had their life extended by the addition of medicine.

So like anything else:

fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt

More of the Absurdity Tour on the way....stay tuned and check your FEED.

16 September 2008

Urination is Absurd

"Never get into a pissing contest with a skunk."
- J. K. Lilly, President, Eli Lilly & Company

I guess he knows?

For me, I would have gone with, "never get into a pissing contest with a fox". Follow the link to be reminded why.

In fairness, urination is not really that absurd. It is a usual part of our day, or if you are Grandpa Gus with the enlarged prostate, a useful part of your week. Urine expels toxins from our body and gives us (Caballeros anyway) a useful way to sign our name in the snow AND to mark our trees to ward off interlopers.

But urine has it's limits too. What, no disagreement?

Many, many moons ago I was in Chicago on business. I was in early so I decided to go downtown and soak up some Windy City culture. Their modern art museum seemed like a decent place to start. An 'artist' was on display showing his latest collection of 'masterpieces'...and how lucky that he was there to sign autographs and shake hands with his fans! Well, his crowning achievements were photographs of fluids. Yep. Fluids. All kinds too. The two that stuck out were a close up a commode full of foaming, yellow urine and another that was pure white (coincidentally, just like the wall behind the frame painted by a crew making $5 bucks an hour) and entitled: milk. What? I looked for the Candid Camera guy. And then after being duly offended - and ripped off - I cruised, without shaking the artist's hand thankyouverymuch.

So, yes, urine has its limits. I wonder if Eli Lilly & Company has any drugs to erase my memory of that very absurd urine memory?

Speaking of medicine, be sure to hop aboard the Absurdity Bus for our next stop when we visit the Absurdity of Medicine! Be sure to tell your friends...

12 September 2008

Offices are Absurd

"We forecast that we'll see the paperless office at the same time we see the paperless bathroom."
- Steve Pytka, Market consultant in Micro Market World, early 1980s

For nearly 30 years, The Gallup Poll (not to be confused with the Giddy Up Pole, where you pay to, uh, well, never mind) interviews a few million American office workers.

One of their takeaways is that barely 1 in 4 American workers is "engaged" at work. The remaining 3 out of 4 is either "not engaged" or the near cataclysmic "actively disengaged". Yow. Where is Rosie the Riveter when you need her??

Why so many foot-draggers at work? The reasons vary, but themes exist, such as under qualified managers, arrogant/selfish co-workers, no Diet Coke in the drink machine and nothing motivating to work toward. (Note to XX, a former supervisor: me working harder so YOU could get a bigger lake house while all I got was more, uh, grief, was only motivating to you. Grrr.)

Too many company's expect their peeps to show up on their own to work with a spring in their step. And maybe 25% of workers do, but I suspect the truth is that there are some capable, inspiring leaders in the midst of those 'engaged' workers that have earned that devotion and engagement. How embarrassing for US companies that still think that they are so special that they don't need to recognize the need to provide some degree of motivation for their team members.

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing -
that's why we recommend it daily."
- Zig Ziglar

So if you work in a motivational environment...and that includes stay-at-home-parents, titans of industry, ditch diggers and pretty much everybody but paparazzi, then congrats. And if you are paperless, then perhaps a congrats is in order for that too?

"I can't stand this proliferation of paperwork! It's useless to fight the forms, you've got to kill the people producing them." - Vladamir Labailze

However, whatever line of work you are in, you know you are in a bad place when the most important paper in your workplace is being produced in the bathroom. Agreed?

Let's do these again next time okay? Lots more on the way from the Absurdity Tour! Don't miss a single post by getting your very own free, custom delivery of each post. Click on the "Feed Me!" label to the right and choose your method.

04 September 2008

Movies are Absurd

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"

- Harry Warner, head of Warner Studios, 1922

He must have been referring to mushed mouth Sylvester Stallone trying to play a country bumpkin in the 1984 movie Rhinestone. Yikes.

Luckily for the development of cinema, the other 3 Warner Brothers talked some sense into ol' Harry and they went forward with their plan for "talkies". I think it worked out for them.

Interestingly, another company was almost torpedoed by it's founder too (besides Ken Olsen of DEC, you ask?).

In 1919, the Hilton family (yes, those Hiltons) saw an opportunity to capitalize on the oil boom in East Texas by starting a bank where the oilcatters could put their money. So they sent young Conrad Hilton to Cisco, Texas to buy the local bank. The deal was not finalized in a day so he when he went to secure a room for the night, he discovered that the hotel was booked solid. Motivation being what it is, he looked in his satchel and, uh, re-appropriated the money that was intended to buy the local bank and bought the hotel instead, insuring he would have a room for the night (yeah, the things we do to insure a bed for the night, huh?). He added cots to the lobby and to the kitchen and rented rooms in 8 hour shifts in order to maximize space (and profit). Thus, the Hilton Hotel chain was born. Although I doubt you can request a room by the hour anymore.

And speaking of talk-less movies and rooms-by-the-hour, Conrad's infamous granddaughter, Paris has done more than her share of performing in front of a camera too. What a coincidence huh?

But I digress...

Do you have any recommendations for other Actors Most Improved By The Use Of The Mute Button?

My starter list would be Michael Moore, Bobcat Goldthwait and Mr. Whipple (RIP)....

After you comment for today, be sure to tune in next when the Absurdity Tour visits the Office.

01 September 2008

Inventions are Absurd

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

- Charles H. Duell, Director of US Patent Office, 1899

See? Now you have corroborative proof that those late night commercials about submitting your invention to become an overnight millionaire are 伪造品 (that means fake in Chinese), right?

Hopefully for Mr. Duell's sake he was a better director than he was a visionary. Patent applications are filed every year at a steady clip of about 120 thousand, and that is up from 1900 (after Duell was presumably laughed out of town) when there were over 40 thousand patent applications. That is a lot of innovation sports fans.

Here are a few of my favorite innovations:

Disposable diapers. A few of you will remember a brief entrepreneurial sojourn of mine into the cloth diaper delivery business when I was in my early 20's. Great business as far as eco-businesses go (they weren't called that back then), but now as a practitioner of diaper changes and as co-wrangler of the Pooter of Terror...I do like those Huggies. Especially after Tonya said I couldn't use a garden hose and a trough to 'change/clean' Ethan...

Digital Camera. Please. Trying to print and send 100's of printed photos to friends and family of your newborn versus uploading them to the Internet? Fuggetaboutit. Digital cameras are the bomb. I'm told you can even modify a picture of a, uh, homely person and make 'em presentable?

Microwave. When I was a kid, I remember my mother calling it a $700 clock; it just sat there and told time (and it was correct - at least 2x per day!)...other than that we had no idea what to do with it. Then I grew up and spent several years a bachelor. Foot high stack of tortillas: check. Block of cheese the size of a Chihuahua: check. Cold beer: check. Gallon of picante sauce: check. Microwave to melt the cheese and warm the tortillas into a limitless 30 second bachelor dream meal: Priceless.

Do you have any I can't live with out em' items?

Next up ...the Absurdity Tour visits your local cinema......