Monthly Archives: May 2008

Arguing with 5-year-olds – "It’s a Free Country"

Back when I was in the service (First Lieutenant, Safety Patrol, 6th grade), I would sometimes have to help watch over the kindergartners to make sure they didn’t hurt themselves. Sometimes, I would get into arguments with them. Their arguments would always be somewhat compelling, and as a 12-year-old, though I felt that I was on the right side of the arguments, I could never quite put together a counter-argument. Now, 10 years later, I’m ready.

One day, I was trying to get the kindergartners to line up in front of their class room as class was about to begin. One kid refused. When I said, “hey, let’s get in a straight line for Mrs. So-and-so” (her name really was Mrs. So and So), he replied, “it’s a free country” and refused to get in line.

That didn’t seem right! But aren’t we in a free country? What does that even mean? And how could I respond to that in such a way that would convince the student to get in line? I didn’t have an answer at the time. Once Mrs. So and So arrived, he got scared and just got in line, but the question haunted me until this day.

Today, I realize that the idea of the United States being a “free country” really refers to the spirit on which the United States was founded. As opposed to many other nations in which the “contract” between the governing and the governed is, “maintain or improve our quality of life and we won’t revolt,” the “contract” between the US government and its citizens is explicitly spelled out in the Constitution with a series of amendments protecting various freedoms such as speech, religion, self-incrimination, gay marriage, etc.

Relevant to the case with the 5-year-old is that the freedoms protected are finite and explicitly enumerated. There is no absolute individual freedom, and specifically, the Constitution does not guarantee the freedom to be a dick. So get in line and shut up.

Nyah.

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Cut to the Chase – America’s Next Top Model

In today’s edition of Cut to the Chase, rather than look at a movie, I’ll be cutting to the chase of the TV series “America’s Next Top Model.” Tyra Banks is a model that likes to teach lessons like, “modeling is about more than just inner beauty.” On her show, she generally chooses winners that exhibit characteristics other than just inner beauty. Winners from her show rarely go on to become successful models, thus proving that Tyra’s original premise is wrong.

Bear Grylls’ next challenge

Bear Grylls is one bad-ass mother fucker.

For those of you unfamiliar with Bear Grylls, Bear is a guy on survival show on TV. He gets dropped in locations with extreme geographical climates with little more than the clothes on his back. Once there, he teaches his audience, through demonstration, how to survive, as a camera crew follows him on turbo-charged segways. (I may have made up the part of the segways).

Somewhat recently, there has been controversy over how bad ass he actually is as it was discovered that he sometimes stays in hotels when the camera isn’t looking. However, the fact of the matter is that he is still bad ass because he jumped into a crevasse, and Oxford’s English Dictionary, anybody who jumps into a crevasse is bad ass.

Those that still support Bear wonder what his next challenge is. Will he be dropped from helicopter straight into the mouth of a volcano? Or will he teach his audience how to survive after being violently beaten, robbed, and then buried alive while on vacation in Tijuana? The answer is neither.

Though sources say that Bear does plan to get around to these, his next challenge will be: surviving Waterworld.

After being dropped from a helicopter into Waterworld, Grylls will demonstrate survival techniques for those stranded amongst the traders, smokers, and the vast expanses of water as a camera crew follows him on modified “sea-segways.” The end goal of this mission is to find land, the key to which is finding a girl named Enola with a map to land tattooed on her back. Whilst doing this, he will be evading the marauding Deacon and his crew of Smokers aboard the Exxon Valdez.

Grylls fully discloses that he will be sleeping in a house boat at night and that his camera crew secretly already know where land is. However, his crew has been strictly instructed not to divulge its whereabouts.

A career in reverse archaeology

Indiana Jones makes archaeology look sexy, but is it really a good career? My magic 8 ball says that sources say no. As I cannot read my 8 ball’s mind as it reads mine, I could only guess that it feels this way because archaeology doesn’t pay well, and in the end, the job is to disprove the existence of God, one unearthed rock at a time.

For those of you considering archaeology, consider a growing, even-more-fun profession: reverse archaeology. Rather than to unearth clues about the past, the job of the reverse archaeologist is to earth clues about the present.

Some responsibilities of reverse archaeologists include:

  1. Information highlighter. Your job is to go through important documents with a black highlighter and highlight everything that looks important, like words longer than 4 letters long. These words will then be lost in history!
  2. Grave digging. Many archeologists will dig for weeks in the wrong place, not finding anything. Grave diggers have a 97% success rate in digging in the right place, and they are generally better able to complete their objective when they don’t find anything.
  3. Time capsule digger. There’s no better way to communicate with the future than collecting a whole bunch of crap and burying it in the ground. Time capsulists really depend on reverse archaeologists to make sure that their capsules are properly transmitted.

But of course, the job of the reverse archaeologist isn’t all fun and games. Seasoned reverse archaeologist Bob “The Hole” Jennings described in his autobiography his most difficult mission. Bob writes that in the early 1920s, he was responsible for placing a golden statue of a head deep in a cave. In addition to dealing with the “intolerable humidity,” Bob also had to push a 5 ton boulder up a ramp in the cave that would be released if the statue were ever stolen.

With all career decisions, make sure you do your research. You don’t want to spend years studying reverse archaeology only to find that you have no interest in building bridges that look invisible from certain angles.