Archive for the 'Good stuff' Category

The Malboro Man back with a vengeance

June.4. 2019

Back in the day, the Marlboro Man was everywhere, on the big and silver screens.

He was the definition of the great macho man, the original hunk, the outdoorsman, the rugged cowboy—sitting by a stream or riding his horse.

All the while peddling to us his drug of choice, the cigarette.

Absent from view, of course, in all these great commercials—the emphysema machines, the black lungs, the wheezing.

If you watch TV these days, it would seem that the new drug peddlers of our time have learned a lesson or two from the Marlboro Man.

These days, if you have a new (and expensive) drug to peddle, you must always present that same idyllic existence.

In countless TV ads, beautiful people living the dream life, strolling on a sunlit beach, playing ball with their kids. having a BBQ in the backyard, casting a line into the big blue ocean.

All the while, peddling that drug of choice.

Absent from this idyllic existence, of course, the nefarious side effects, the equivalent emphysema machines, the equivalent black lungs…

It’s all part of the great American pharmaceutical life cycle.

First, the big rollout with much fanfare, many ads, (and many incentives for physicians to push the drug onto unsuspecting patients).

Second, the bumper crop of profits.

Third, stocks of the drug company go through the roof.

Fourth, negative side effects from the drug begin to manifest themselves among the populace.

Fifth, the independent studies.

Sixth, predatory lawyers get into the act.

Seventh, the TV ads with many 800 numbers to call if you think you are a victim (and you don’t have to pay unless you get a payout!)

Eighth, the drug company files for bankruptcy (while laughing all the way to the bank.)

Ninth, everyone lives happily ever after, except the poor victim who’s strapped to his emphysema machine (or equivalent).

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The means to an end

May.21. 2019

In life, there’re many hard decisions to make, and one of the hardest is the choice between the means or the end.

Which one do you choose?

The means or the end?

For example, suppose you hold a principle close to your heart, suppose it is about killing the unborn.

And then along comes someone who knows you hold that principle close to your heart.

He knows you would give a lot to help the unborn.

And so he promises you he will deliver this end to you, provided you allow him unbridled access to power.

He, of course, has absolutely no scruples or morals, and the plight of the unborn is the last thing on his mind–his only principle in life being to fill his coffers with the green stuff.

Would you still give him access to that unlimited power?

There’s an old story about the guy who decided that the end is more important than the means and sold his soul to the devil for delivering the desired end to him.

Well, we all know how that story worked out.

Something perhaps current Republican politicians should take note of.

The party of the opposite of what they say

March.31. 2019

So I hear our esteemed president saying that his party will be known as “the party of health care.”

(If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that anything that comes out of his mouth is just hot air, quite indistinguishable from the hot air that comes out from his other orifice.)

“The party of health care,” and the first thing they will do is take away health care from 20 million citizens.

But this is really a clever ploy—say the opposite of what you really plan to do.

It’s worked before so why not this time?

For instance, there’s a religion that claims to be one of peace and how did they spread that message of peace?

Through invading other people’s lands.

I believe someone said that if you tell a lie enough times, people will actually believe it’s the truth.

And I say, if you want to do something dastardly to people, tell them the opposite of what you plan to do.

For example, if you want to invade a country, tell them you’re a religion of peace.

If you want to take health care away from people, tell them you’re the party of health care.

It’s worked before, why not this time.

The difference

March.29. 2019

This is the difference.

I heard 20,000 gathered in NZ today to honor the victims of the massacre. 20,000 good decent people.

I don’t recall hearing of 20,000 people gathering in Mecca after the twin towers fell, not 2,000, no, not even 2 people.

Instead, they were dancing in the streets in celebration.

Tell me which religion is the true one of peace.

The current debacle

March.15. 2019

The current debacle with the college admissions scandal and the Manafort saga has a strange intersection.

It underlines one fact.

There’re two kinds of rich people—those who get their riches through cheating and bribing and those earn it through hard work and talent.

And talent is what separates these two.

If you’re lacking in talent, get someone to sit your SAT for you, or bribe some greedy official, or do some lobbying for some foreign despot.

As a boy growing up in Asia (specifically Borneo), I had long been aware that rich people are more filthy than crazy.

They got their ill-begotten wealth mainly through cheating and bribing local officials, and in the case of Borneo, cutting down centuries-old virgin jungle by bribing the head of the government to get the concessions.

There’s no thought, no consideration for anything else.

Their only consideration is to line their pockets with that filthy money.

The college admissions and Manafort intersection underlines another important fact—and that’s rich people will do whatever it takes to get what they want.

This is positive thinking on steroids.

To them, nothing is impossible. Everything is doable.

So if you want to get that ostrich jacket, find a wealthy foreign patron, if you want your son to go to a good college, bribe the coach or pay someone to sit his SAT.

This modus op is what separates rich people from poor people.

Poor people tend to be negative. They’re always thinking about obstacles, that’s why they don’t get anywhere.

Rich people on the other hand, don’t take no for an answer. They will do whatever it takes to get what they want.

This is a good positive trait, until it gets entangled with legalities.

And that’s the problem.

When you’re fired up with this positive energy, and it gets you all the riches of the world, at some point, you start to think that you’re invincible and that you will get away with it all the time.

But, to paraphrase that famous saying by Abe.

‘You can cheat all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you can’t cheat all the people all the time.’

It is true; some people do get away with it.

However, a useful lesson—if your money is more filthy than crazy (or smart), don’t run for president.

Because you might win, and then the nation’s eyes will be on your ill-begotten wealth and soon you’ll be blessed with a special counsel to examine every one of your past business transactions.

 

Another possible scenario

February.2. 2019

Now, there’s another possible scenario; possible, but not necessarily plausible.

The Gods of our ancestors are higher life forms from other parts of the universe. They are, in a sense, super beings because they have attained a high level of technological advancement but they’re not the supreme Super Being who created everything.

Rather, they’re creatures like us, created by the great Supreme Being.

Their mastery and knowledge of the inner workings and hidden forces of the universe have enabled them to manipulate space and time effortlessly.

It’s very possible they came to the third planet of our rather ordinary star, and seeing it was perfect from every standpoint, decided to create the garden and place in it the first two human beings.

This would explain the small-mindedness and the wrathful God of the early Biblical books.

This ‘god’ was just an ordinary being or beings like us, prone to anger and displaying an insecurity which constantly demands respect and obedience from his ‘creations.’

It’s even possible that this ‘God’ or ‘gods’ created the conditions that made life possible on this planet, and possible they created the planet itself. Their technological advances may have been that much superior to ours.

When you consider the number of stars in the known universe and the law of probability, this theory does not seem so far fetched.

It is very probable that there are many other intelligent life forms out there among the myriad stars, and considering the age of the universe, some of them probably light years ahead of us in terms of technology.

The theory also explains why the ancient ‘gods’ always had to descend and ascend from heaven.

Why would a Super Being who created everything in the universe have to physically descend and ascend from earth?

Surely he/she/it is beyond space/time and could just miraculously appear anywhere in the universe?

Unless, of course, if they are physical beings who exist in physical space.

All harmless conjectures.

As I mentioned earlier, our capabilities are indeed too limited to understand any of these deep questions.

All we can do is ponder and debate plausibility.

Knowing that at the end of the day, it’s all going to be a huge waste of time.

Because whatever conclusions we arrive at is sure to be as puerile and as implausible as what our ancestors had arrived at in their efforts to explain the world around them.

The bogeyman in the closet

February.2. 2019

Earlier, I had laid out the scenario for a universe consisting of a gazillion stars and the creator of this humongous universe deciding to also create a garden paradise on a small planet circling one of these stars.

It is true, anything is possible, and this scenario could be very possible too.

But is it plausible?

No one can fathom the mind/innerworkings of the creator/God/mechanism that created this universe so all we can do is debate plausibility.

The unspoken factor in all this is man’s incredible powers of imagination.

Man’s mind is infinite in its capacity to dream up all kinds of scenarios.

Sometimes, these scenarios are in the metaphorical category, sometimes there’re just way out wacky—things people make up to teach moral lessons, and sometimes they’re just pure fantasies.

Anything is possible.

It’s possible there’s a tooth fairy, or a bearded obese guy in a red suit on the North Pole.

But is it plausible?

My preference is for the theory of changing understanding/consciousness creating scenarios that reflect these changes in understanding/consciousness.

For instance, let’s say when you were young, you were told that there’s a bogeyman living in the closet at night.

So you were terrified.

But one day, you shine a light into the closet and you realize that there’s no bogeyman.

What do you do?

Do you still persist in believing in the bogeyman myth even though your light is telling you that there’s no bogeyman?

Think of science as the light and our fears, superstitions, and religions as the bogeyman that lives in our minds.

The usual response when science is brought in to debunk old myths is usually “a little knowledge is dangerous, or you’re getting too smart for your own good.”

To which I say, when I shine a light in the closet and there’s no bogeyman, what do I do? Do I continue to pretend that there’s a bogeyman in the closet?

A synopsis

December.1. 2018

Consider this plot for a blockbuster movie.

It’s a time before time and space.

Nothing but a Super Being alone in a deep void.

And then one day, the Super Being decides to create a universe and along with it gazillions of stars.

How many?

Just a wild estimate, but in our galaxy alone, the Milky Way, there’re over 250 billion stars, give or take 150 billion.

And that’s just one galaxy.

Now, imagine over 100 billion galaxies, each one of them filled with hundreds of billions of stars.

To put this in perspective, this is about:

250,000,000,000 x 100,000,000,000 stars

Truly a blockbuster setting.

Now imagine that in this humongous immensity, the Super Being decides it would be good to create a small garden, a paradise, on a small planet circling a small sun on the fringe of one of these billions of galaxies.

And in this paradise, he places two human beings.

A man-child and a woman-child whose only reason for existing is to do nothing but enjoy the paradise.

But every blockbuster needs a villain to create some conflict.

So an anti-hero enters the scene.

Well, you know how the story goes. He hoodwinks the woman (of course it has to be the woman, the story is obviously written by men) and the man-child and woman-child get thrown out of paradise.

But in the process, they gain something more precious—knowledge.

Now the story shifts to the main conflict of the plot—how do they get back into the garden, or rather, how do their progenies get back into the garden?

Well, for that to happen, a redeemer has to appear.

So the Super Being sends his son to help his poor creations regain their paradise.

Never mind that up to that point, there have been no mention of a son…

So the son comes and dwells among the creatures he had created before time existed, along with the trillions upon trillions of stars…

Long story short, he redeems the whole world by undergoing a gruesome death at the hands of his very creations.

You would think the plot would end there but no, that’s not all.

The real climax is yet to come.

He will come again and this time, he will establish an earthly kingdom and reign for 1000 years. (Why 1000 years? Because it sounds better than 10,000 years.)

And still that’s not all, to make sure that this is the blockbuster of all blockbusters, you have to throw in a period of seven years of rapture and tribulation before the earthly kingdom can happen.

So who wrote this story?

It’s a team effort culminating with a particularly imaginative writer who lived on a small island in the Mediterranean.

In another place and another time, the author would’ve made quite a name for himself as a fantasy author.

But in the first and second century, his writings captured the imagination of some bureaucrats at the time, and they decided to adopt it as part of a new religion.

Never mind that his wild and fantastical scenarios have more to do with his own wild imaginings and dreams than the ideas of the man whose name they co-opted for the new religion.

Like every blockbuster, every religion needs a bogeyman and some dastardly fearsome endings and the writings of this man fit the bill exactly.

That’s the total summary, the backdrop to the gift that keeps on giving.

The story has everything going for it.

Love, betrayal, villains, innocence, loss of innocence, gore, heartache and of course, redemption.

The perfect recipe to tug at the hearts of people who yearn for meaning and purpose in life.

And the perfect vehicle to perpetrate whatever evil deeds you may have in your heart on poor unsuspecting folk.

The failure of morality 2

October.9. 2018

So what’s the solution?

Take out morality and adopt an unabashed total self-serving approach to life.

Forget the good of mankind, the common good, or any other phony pseudo altruistic religious mumbo-jumbo.

Instead, be unabashedly self-serving, look out for number one. No need to pretend.

There’s a choice here.

You can do it the old fashioned way which is to ruthlessly grab whatever you see, and do whatever it takes to ensure that you get what you want.

Which may or may not include cheating, lying, scamming, extorting, assaulting, you name it, it’s all fair game to you.

Since morality has become obsolete, you’re free to pursue anything you want, with unbridled greed and lust.

Never mind that this will upset other people.

They’re losers, weaklings, not worth your concern. (I’ve even heard one guy proclaiming that morality is for losers. Really? We’ll wait for Mr Mueller’s report.)

The goal here is to satisfy every one of your needs and urges without any concern for others, because you’re the most important person in the world.

In the short term, this strategy will work, and you will probably be on top of your world.

The only problem is, all that lying and cheating and scamming and assaulting involve victims.

And victims have long memories and they will harbor resentments.

For example, if you cheat someone of his life savings, don’t expect that person to forget it in a hurry.

All that forgiving garbage may be good for Sunday school, but your victims’ resentments will simmer on and will find an outlet one day.

This will lead to a universal law—the law of return.

The return will come in unexpected ways and when you least expect it. Maybe not in a tsunami, but it will come.

(If you don’t believe me, if you think this is mere superstition, maybe some of these names might ring a bell—like Madoff, Cosby, Kaddafi, Marcos, etc etc.)

And you will no longer be on top.

Now there’s a second way to look out for yourself but this method is a bit more complicated.

And it involves a fundamental shift in your thinking.

Which is that looking out for yourself is not a solo enterprise but one that involves the whole universe.

Because we don’t live on a deserted island.

Everything we do interacts with the universe and produces repercussions. These interactions and repercussions are what will really determine our fate, not our own small selfish efforts.

In other words, our future happiness and well-being are as dependent on the actions of others as they are on our actions.

This leads to one inescapable conclusion.

To look out for ourselves, we must do good onto others, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because we want them to do good onto us, because if they want to, they could make our lives miserable.

You might call this the enlightened approach to life.

And it’s totally based on a self serving agenda (with no phony self-righteous moral overtones).

You’re looking out for yourself but in order to look out for yourself, you’ll have to look out for others first.

The failure of morality

October.8. 2018

One of the reasons communism failed was not because its ideals were bad.

On the contrary, its utopian ideals are actually based on lofty principles that hack back to the teachings of the great teacher two thousand years ago, who espoused a doctrine of ‘the meek shall inherit.’

Communism failed because it didn’t take into account human nature.

Human nature is inherently self serving.

No amount of political sloganeering can change that fact.

You can appeal to people’s sense of patriotism or their duty for the common good, but at the end of the day, few people will be moved by altruistic ideals.

Instead, people are motivated by their self interest, or as Americans call it, looking out for number one.

The same is true of morality.

Morality is supposed to be based on doing what is right, for the common good of mankind.

But as is evident from the state of our current affairs, it has failed miserably.

Nobody cares about it.

You have clergymen who are supposed to protect the innocence of young people, actively engaged in corrupting them.

You have a political system that should be there to protect the country but instead is used primarily by many to line one’s own pockets. (Can anyone say tax cuts?)

You have the rich exploiting the poor, the powerful exploiting the weak, and in general, everyone’s doing what they can to look out for number one, and they don’t care who they tread on in the process.

So what’s the solution?

That’s for the next post.