I’ve been obsessed with reading advice columnists since as long as I can remember. So I’ve been reading Dear Prudence over at Slate for several years. While there I tend to read various columns and opinion pieces about a variety of topics. Because I love a good logical argument, I like to read such pieces. Even if they’re wrong, in my opinion, I really like to understand the process of their opinion.
However, in the last few weeks, as far as I’ve noticed, Slate has become troll bait. And by that I mean, Slate is publishing articles for the sole purpose of riling up net denizens. In a nutshell the modus operandi is to take a hardline dogmatic approach to an otherwise mundane and subjective topic. Because the topic is subjective, people will almost certainly disagree with the dogmatic argument made in the article, which leads people to read and comment for the sole purpose of disagreeing.
Here’s just a few of these bizarre tirades about the mundane:
You’re Doing It Wrong: Beef Stew, You’re Doing It Wrong: Pecan Pie, and You’re Doing It Wrong: Carrot Cake Really, first you have no idea how I “do” beef stew, pecan pie, or carrot cake, and even if you do, there is no right way to “do” any of them!
This next article argues against the very common practice of eating an early Thanksgiving dinner with the tag:* “It’s Thanksgiving Dinner. Stop Eating at Lunchtime.” I think I can speak for most people that we like eating early so we can get home early. Duh. Fucking Duh.
This next idiot is utterly aghast that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are falling on the same day with the outrageous tag:* Thanksgivukkah: Bad for America, Bad for Jews. Really an event that only happens every several HUNDRED years is bad for America and Jews?! We’re going to be injured as a nation? People are going to die?
And some of them are completely and utterly absurd, such as this one: What Thanksgiving Really Needs Is More Pickles or this bizarre fiat: Apple Pie Has No Place at Thanksgiving. These people are actually griping about insufficient pickles for one dinner out of the year and the fact that some people like apple pie one day out of the year?! Really? That’s their big concern?
Slate, I enjoyed reading your site. But while I’ll continue reading Dear Prudence, the rest of your site can stay under its bridge.
* These are not the titles of the articles, but are linked tags on the right of the site, obviously written for the sole purpose of getting people to click on them
According to studies on how men and women choose passwords, women prefer length and men prefer diversity. I always knew that size mattered and men are dogs.
As fans of Breaking Bad know, the series ended, in part, with Saul Goodman heading off to Nebraska to assume a new identity and manage a Cinnabon. But instead of showing us that life, the actor who plays Saul, Bob Odenkirk, has signed up to do a prequel television series. So we’re gonna learn about Saul’s past, not about his future. As I’ll explain below, I think that’s gonna be a lot more interesting.
Anyway, back to Saul’s Nebraska adventure. I wonder whether Saul’s moving to Nebraska to assume a new identity was his first time at assuming a new identity, and more importantly, whether he’s actually even an attorney. My guess is that it’s not his first time and that he’s not actually an attorney.
First, his real name is not Goodman. As fans of the show know, he’s not Jewish but is actually Irish, and his last name is McGill.
So at one time he used the name Saul McGill. He did not use it in college. As fans might remember, he graduated from University of American Samoa.
But that raises more questions. First, if his name was Saul McGill, when did he change it? In other words, did he change it before attending the University of Samoa? Or did he simply assume the identify of someone who graduated from the University of Samoa with the name Saul Goodman.
The next issue is that the University of Samoa is not a law school. It appears to be a liberal arts school. So why didn’t Saul have his law school diploma displayed in his office?
According to an interview with actor Bob Odenkirk with Rolling Stone magazine, Saul did not go to law school:
How much backstory did you create on Saul? Did he go to a good law school? Did he make law review?
No, he went to the University of American Samoa ? the diploma is on the wall of his office. He barely passed the bar.
So Saul did not go to law school, but he did pass the bar. I know of no state in our union that allows people to take the bar without first going through law school. So if Saul did not go to law school, the only way he could have taken the exam would have been by faking it or cheating somehow, e.g., assuming someone else’s identity.
Let’s recap. He was probably born Saul McGill. At some point he changed his name or assumed the identify of a Saul Goodman. Because it would have been highly coincidental for Saul to change his name to Goodman to attend the University of Samoa, and then assume the identify of some law school graduate with the exact same name, I don’t think it happened that way.
It makes more sense if Saul wanted to be an attorney, for him to work backwards. In other words, Saul must have found someone who graduated from a law school, but then who died or moved out of the country or decided to not take the exam. Saul must have assumed that guy’s identify first.
He then worked backwards to “get” an undergrad degree. It’s unlikely Saul would have actually went to a University because by then he was already a licensed attorney. So it would make more sense to assume he didn’t go to any undergrad university. Which is why Saul used a “foreign” university. Because then you don’t deal with circumstances with meeting people who attended the same time you did or who knew people who attended the same time you did. It would also make it harder for anyone to verify Saul’s attendance, because they’d have to contact a foreign university. And even if someone did such an investigation, the fact that it’s a foreign country means that such files proving his attendance were probably lost.
And I’ll get one more bit out of the way. Saul seemingly has no friends or family. In other words, when he’s going to Nebraska, there is seemingly no one to say goodbye to. Even at the top of his legal game, he’s a ghost who can pack up with no emotional or human baggage. To me that proves that done it before. Because he had already lost his friends and family the first time.
So my prediction is that the prequel will not be a boring law show with Saul Goodman protecting the rights of criminals week after week. My prediction is that the show will explain Saul’s mysterious and criminal past. Most likely he won’t even be an attorney when the show starts. He’ll be some guy either hiding from the law or from criminals and will decide to assume a new identify. In the show he’ll find an opportunity to take the bar exam, either a friend of his who went to law school was murdered, or something else. I’ll also predict a scene of Saul photoshopping his Samoa diploma.
I was worried that Saul Goodman’s prequel would boring. Now I’m looking forward to it.
Update: I was thinking that someone could argue that if Saul took a new identity and was hiding, why would he tell other people about it by revealing his real name? That’s actually quite easy, because the original threat is gone. If Saul went into hiding because some criminal madman was trying to kill him, once the madmen was killed himself, Saul no longer had a reason to hide. However, as a semi-successful attorney, he had a reason to continue the charade.
The Right Wing in the US loves to point to America’s Exceptionalism, which according to my spell check, isn’t even a word. To the Right and its supporters, American Exceptionalism means that we’re better than everyone else. That our freedom and liberty have created the best country on the planet. And this is despite all of the objective exceptions:
We’ve got the most expensive and inadequate medical system in the free world.
Our public schools perform near the bottom and our university system survives on foreign blood to both teach and excel. I had a friend who was an engineering student at UM Ann Arbor. He was born and raised in America. He was a math fucking wiz. But compared to the foreign kids in the same program, he and the other American students were in the bottom half of the class. He would talk to those foreign kids and discover that they were learning advanced mathematics, in what would be our middle school. Basically, they were so far ahead, the Americans could never catch up.
Heck, when was the last time you had an American doctor? I’ve written about this before, it’s just not our public schools, its our love of freedom of choice which causes this decline.
We can go on and one, the rest of the first world has better internet, by a long shot. Better railways and transportation, our public transportation is a joke. Better roads, ours are crumbling. Northern Europeans are happier than us. Why not, they work less hours and actually get vacation time each year. In Europe, they work to live, in America we live to work. Work is what we do, it’s how we define ourselves. As drones. We’re like the Borg, but are too busy working to notice.
So in infrastructure, medicine, education, and happiness, we’re mostly exceptional in the sense that we exceptionally suck compared to other first world nations.
But what’s really interesting is that the term “Exceptionalism” as applied to the US did not always means what it means today. Exceptionalism was used by communists and socialists back in the 1920s to explain why socialism was not catching on in the US, based upon our social egalitarianism, economic productivity, and social mobility. In other words, the US was more of a classless society, so there was not as much of an worker versus owner mentality. People could come to the US as poor with nothing, but work their way up to business owners. So there was less need for socialism, just more hard work.
But the phrase American Exceptionalism didn’t end there. In WWII it was thought that the US was the exception to the petty disagreements and wars common in Europe and the rest of the world. Isolationists used American Exceptionalism to describe that exception and to avoid us joining the war.
As I wrote above, nowadays the Right uses American Exceptionalism to describe how our freedom and liberty has made us great. Palin made that a common theme in both of Obama’s elections. Obama has widely been criticized by the Right by claiming that our Exceptionalism is subjective. By saying that he believes the US is exceptional in the same way that any country’s residents believe they are exceptional.
However, to the Right, American Exceptionalism is based entirely upon found memories and faith. We were exceptional back in the 20s (in an entirely different context) and back in the 30s (to keep us out of the war) so, after all of these years, it must be true. Even though it it means something entirely different and even under our own current definition, we’re not. But the Right believes it and will criticize anyone who doesn’t.
If the US is exceptional, I believe it is the subjective variety. And by that, we do somethings better than other countries. The first is that our economy is more dynamic. In Europe, Muslims are having difficulties fitting in and are being forced into ghettos. While in the US, specifically, the Detroit area, which has the largest middle eastern population in North America, does not have that problem. It’s quite easy for people from the middle east to open up businesses in Detroit and succeed without government intervention and support.
Heck, throughout the entire computer/internet bubble, name one European company as successful as Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. The lack of bureaucratic impediments in the US allows little upstarts to become dominate.
So sure, the United States is exceptional in some aspects. But it is unexceptional in others. And it’s a complete failure different others. We’re a country, not an ideal.
Meat-space retailers bitch about Showrooming. That’s where consumers will use retail stores to check out products they intend to buy online.
Meat-space retailers have tried to fix this problem by lowering prices to match the online retailers. But that’s not really a solution, because having a brick and mortar store adds costs that online retailers can easily beat.
The solution for big-box retailers is to use their stores as show rooms, and get people to buy the products via their websites. So let’s say you work at Best Buy and someone comes in to check out a particular TV. You explain all the features and let them use it a bit. You’ll ask if they want to buy it, and if they’re showrooming, they’ll say “no”, “I have to think about it”, “I’ll get it cheaper on Newegg.”
If they seem interested but don’t want to buy it in the store, here’s how you clinch it. Ask, “Do you plan on buying in online, because if you purchase today from Bestbuy.com today, you’ll get it 10% less. Where did you plan on ordering it online?”
If they’re interested in the TV, the additional 10% will get their attention. And here’s the details, the salesperson asks where they planned on buying it. They might say, “Amazon.” So the salesperson goes to Amazon and checks out the price. He tells the consumer that if he orders from Bestbuy.com right now, he can get 10% off, including free shipping.
One issue is what percentage it should be. The problem with meat-space retailers is that we have to pay sales tax, even on their website. However, that’s changing for Amazon, and eventually that will no longer be an issue. However, the percentage off as to factor in sales tax.
And maybe 10% is too high. Maybe 7% or 5% would be enough. But while this plan needs tweaks, it would still turn Showroomers into customers. Because if they truly want to buy the item online cheaper, why would they buy it for more on Amazon/Newegg/Elsewhere?
And it’d certainly put the hurt on Amazon. Because if you know you can get big ticket items 10% cheaper than Amazon, why would you use Amazon? You’d simply go to Best Buy and buy it there. It wouldn’t be worth the drive for everything you buy from Amazon, but for big ticket items, it sure would be.
Some Christians ask atheists, what if you’re wrong? Why would you risk burning in eternal damnation? Isn’t it more intelligent to simply believe rather than risk learning you’re wrong after you die? Here’s my answer:
Because if there is an omnipotent and omniscient being which created everything, just so it could hide itself and then burn me for eternity for not believing in it… it’ll give me something to laugh about while I burn. Because that shit is funny.
A recent Big Bang Theory points out that Indiana Jones was completely useless in the movie the Raiders of the Lost Ark. In a nutshell, if Indy had simply taken the month off, the Nazi’s would have obtained the Ark, opened it up, and would have been killed. In other words, even if he did nothing, the exact same ending would have occurred.
I’ve noticed a similar problem with the Terminator and Terminator 2. The only way Skynet’s plan to kill Sarah Connor could have worked is if the terminator failed.
Let me explain, if the terminator had killed Sarah, John Connor never would have been born. And in that case, a terminator never would have been sent back to kill her. And if the terminator was never sent back, Skynet could not have been invented because there would have been no advanced future-tech to base it on.
So Sarah was not a hero at all. All her actions led to Skynet being created and the robot war to occur. She should have simply allowed the terminator to kill her and the whole thing would have worked itself out in the long run.
Heck, merely by not sending back the terminator, Kyle Reese never would have been sent back, thus, John Connor never would have been conceived. Yes, the robots are the main reason John Connor exists. They should have just killed Kyle in their present and sent the future-tech back to Cyberdyne Systems in the past. But that would have been a much more boring movie: A solider from the future being sent back to the past to stop a robot also sent to the past from delivering a package. The Delivernator!
Apparently Wikipedia has a problem. Despite more and more people accessing it, fewer and fewer people are working as editors.
I can understand why. Every time I tried editing on Wikipedia, my work was ignored. I’m not talking about huge edits or entire articles I’ve written. I’ve got no time for that. I’m talking about minor but important changes. I’ve fixed grammatical errors or tightened up the writing to make it easier to read. I’ve also added citations where there were none. Wikipedia has a serious problem with participants who treat articles as being analogous to emails. They’re written and published without proofreading. The hard part of writing is not the writing. It’s the monotonous, but necessary rewriting.
But every time I’ve done that, every single time, within an hour the materials I fixed were back. Apparently the editors in charge want poorly written materials, complete with grammatical errors, and without citations to the supporting facts. I got tired of making such fixes, so I quit. I’m sure plenty of others have, too.
You may have heard that Oprah Winfrey has stated that you can’t be an atheist if you experience awe and wonder about the world. I cannot agree and will argue the opposite. Anyone who truly experiences awe and wonder is either an atheist or is a theist with severe doubts.
First, let’s dispense with the “wonder.” What possible reason could a theist ever look at the natural world and wonder about how it works or occurs or anything else. Theists don’t have to wonder. They know. God did it. If they’re truly wondering, they’ve lost their faith in God.
Second, awe. You can experience awe in a lot of things. Hearing a great musician or seeing a great painting. You’re “in awe” because you’re in a state of amazement that someone could do something so amazing.
But what possible reason could a theist ever look to the natural world in awe? Musicians are mere mortals, we don’t expect perfection and amazement from them. But for an omnipotent and omniscient being such as God, a theist could expect nothing else. So when a theist looks at an example of natural beauty, e.g., the Grand Canyon or the Niagara Falls, how could he or she be “in awe” or amazed? Did they think any less from the perfect being that created it?
Atheists are “in awe” of the natural world because we’re amazed at the imperfect processes that can come together and create great beauty. Then we “wonder” about how it all came to fruition. A theist could never do that. And if he did, he’d be a theist with a lot of doubt.
It’s quite common for comic fans to make fun of the Wonder Twins. While Jayna could at least turn into nearly any animal, Zan could only turn into various forms of water, e.g., buckets of water, steam, or ice cages, complete with creepy faces. The Super Friends TV show played the Wonder Twins off as comic relief.
Recently the super hero parody show, Teen Titans Go, made fun of the Wonder Twins. They needed to hire someone to replace Beast Boy, so they hired Jayna. They kept Zan as a receptionist to answer the phone.
Here’s the deal with Zan, he’s totally fucking more powerful than Jayna. He’s also more powerful that most other super heroes, with maybe the exception of Superman or Captain Marvel.
To understand the full extent of Zan’s power, you have to watch a Super Friends episode entitled Joy Ride:
In it some teenagers go for a joy ride in a plane. Which is a very bizarre scenario, since very few kids are working towards getting their pilot licenses. Anyway, these kids are in this plane, with mechanical problems, and the Wonder Twins have to rescue them.
Jayna turns into an eagle. But to avoid the kids dying in a crash, Zan turns into a lake. A mother fucking lake. At least a mile in diameter and deep enough where you can’t see the tops of the trees in this huge forest.
Think about facing down a criminal and being able to create an instant lake. Fuck the criminal, Zan would be able to fucking drown an army of bad guys. And remember, he can turn into ice instantly, so he’d turn that wave into ice and freeze them. And it’s not as if he could get shot or killed while he’s water. He’s completely invulnerable. Boil him, and he turns into steam, surrounds you, makes you breath him in, and then changes back to human form from the inside, killing the bad guy in the process.
Actually he’d never actually have to fight at all. Whether it’s one bad guy or a million, he’d just turn into a sufficient quantity of water, freeze, and he’s done. Total. Fucking. Bad ass.
Update: I just checked out the Wikipedia entry for the Wonder Twins, and Zan is even more powerful than I thought. He’s able to turn into weather patterns including whirlpools, blizzards, monsoons, waterspouts and typhoons. He was also able to turn into a frost giant. And last but not least, fuck all that talk about turning into a lake of water, because according to Wikipedia he’s able to turn into liquid fucking nitrogen. Totally. Fucking. Bad Fucking Ass.
2nd Update: The real problem with the Wonder Twins is that they were created specifically for the Super Friends television program. That cartoon existed back in a time when it was illegal for punches to be thrown in kids’ programing. To put it another way, it existed in a time when super hero programing was totally fucking lame.
We don’t think Batman or Superman is lame because of the Super Friends. But that’s because we recognize it was their time on the Super Friends which as lame, not the characters themselves. But because the Wonder Twins started out on the Super Friends, they started out lame, we think of them as lame.
And interestingly, according to the above Wikipedia link, the powers conceived for the Wonder Twins were specifically toned down to not overshadow Superman. So even in the world of the Super Friends, the Wonder Twins were supposed to be bad asses, but for the dastardly deeds committed by the villainous producers of the show.