Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Welcome MSNers!

My latest MSN article:

Why Hasn't The Future Happened Yet?

Why hasn't the future happened yet? A look into past visions of our present time-- and our hopes for the immediate future.

One tidbit that got cut for space:

Technological limits and safety concerns aren’t the only things holding back our future. Only now is NASA finally seriously considering a base on the Moon, even though the equipment has been around since the late 1960s. And their vision of a lunar south pole research station is a far cry from the domed cities envisioned in the 1979 book Future Cities: Homes and Living into the 21st Century, which predicted a Moon-hosted 2020 Olympic Games (imagine that high jump record). Blame the mineral mining corporations, which haven’t gotten around to building their giant moonrock mines. “They don’t make any economic sense,” Novak points out. “NASA is subsidized, they’re losing money. It doesn’t make sense to be mining minerals on the moon if it costs twice as much to bring them down.” Sometimes, it’s all about the Benjamins… or as future people call them, Zoltars.
If you haven't been to my blog before, you've been wasting your life. Luckily, you've finally seen the error of your ways. Feel free to dip a toe into the swimming pool of ideas that comprises the least-focused and most poorly organized blog on the net. Check out Rudolph, The Steroid-Abusing Reindeer. Or my completely serious plea for the development of a feline penal system. Or better still, dig deep into the Adam's Life archives and uncover forgotten gems such as the time I outed the space shuttle Discovery.

Ah, the memories.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No Smoking

No Smoking At Anytime

Welcome to another Adam's Life patented rant.

I dislike cigarette smokers. Now, I know a few smokers who are generally very fine people... but I hate who they become when a cigarette hits their lips. A cigarette temporarily turns decent human beings into the most vile creatures on the planet, and the saddest part is, they don't even know it.

Perhaps you've heard of the "Flaming Bag Of Shit" prank, or seen it in the Adam Sandler movie "Billy Madison". It involves putting poop into a paper bag, placing it on somebody's doorstep, lighting the bag on fire, ringing the doorbell, and then hiding in the bushes. When the homeowner opens the door, they see the flaming bag, stomp it out with their shoes... and discover that their shoes now have crap all over them. Then the perpetrator snickers in the bushes.

What kind of person does this kind of thing? An asshole, clearly. Whether you smoke cigarettes or not, most people agree this is a crude, horrible thing to do to someone.

Yet, smokers do this EVERY DAY. They do it to you, to me, and especially to those in low-paying custodial jobs.

Watch a smoker on the street. They will take long, loving drags of their cigarette, and then, when it's about halfway done, they'll nonchalantly flick it to the ground, where it rolls to a stop, still smoking. Then, the smoker will walk away, not giving that cigarette a second thought.

That cigarette is a bag of flaming shit. A miniature bag of flaming shit. And someone will step on it, either inadvertently, or trying to stop an inevitable fire. Or a small, curious child will pick it up in their hands. Or a bird will choke on it. Or it will be washed down the drain and join 10,000 other discarded cigarettes, destined to pollute our nation's waterways.

Would we put up with a person throwing flaming bags of shit everywhere? No. Yet for some reason, smokers are perfectly fine with littering everywhere. They do it without caring. They do it without thinking. It's an unconscious gesture passed down from the kid they first smoked with back in high school, the kid who's still assistant manager at the Wendy's.

It's crude, rude, and gross. And the sidewalks of New York City are marked and spattered with smokers' mini bags of shit.

If that was all, I might be able to forgive smokers. But there's more.

How would you feel if your next-door neighbor burned their trash in their yard? When you leave your house in the morning, the putrid smell of burning garbage enters your nose and throat. When you come back at night, the pungent fumes make you cough and gag. You'd call the authorities. You'd probably strongly consider moving, just to get away from the air pollution.

And how would you feel if someone with a cold kept coughing right in your face? You'd probably think they were just about the rudest person in the planet.

Smokers are miniature mobile incinerators. They burn their garbage everywhere: city streets, sports stadiums, bus stops, office buildings, restaurants. And the smoke always wafts away from them, into the air passages of non smokers.

Smokers spread their disease, right into your face. Everyday on my way to work, on my way to lunch, on my way back from work, a smoker is inevitably walking directly in front of me. They'll take a long, loving drag from their cigarette, and then, BOOM, a blast of smoke out of the corner of their mouth.

The wind blows towards me. I get a mouthful of smoke. Some white ashes fly onto my clothes.

The smoker continues walking, continues puffing, oblivious.

I run to get in front of them, desperate to get out of the line of fire.

The smoker continues puffing, indifferent.

Maybe you can put up with the littering and the smoke in your face. But now imagine there's a group of people who demand that you pay them money so that they can continue playing a game of Russian Roulette (that's when one bullet is loaded into a six-shooter pistol, and the player pulls the trigger, risking that the chamber might be full).

You'd most likely say "hell no." You'd call them suicidal. You'd demand that their guns be taken away. You'd tell them to seek help.

Instead, non-smoking Americans pay, on average, $630 extra dollars a year in federal and state taxes, to pay for the health costs of smokers-- people who engage in an activity known to shorten their lives. $630 dollars, to ensure that people who choose to kill themselves slowly can be treated for their smoking-related illnesses.

That's not even factoring in the cost to the economy of these people taking "smoking breaks" during work, which can last 20 minutes or more and take place several times a day.

Finally, imagine that this person--who put a flaming bag of shit at your doorstep, who burned their trash next door, who coughed in your face, who made you pay money to fund his suicidal game--then complained that he was treated like a second class citizen.

"They make us smoke outside in the cold, like we're animals!"

They complain all the time. Talk about the good old days when they could smoke in bars and restaurants, when cigarettes were cheap and Joe Camel used to give them free rides on his humpy backside.

If that wasn't enough to get you pissed at this hypothetical person, imagine they keep insisting, "I can stop anytime I want to." But they don't. They continue these behaviors, refusing to acknowledge the following three things:

1. The smell of smoke is bad.
2. Other people exist.
3. Perhaps, maybe, they should get far away from other people when they smoke.

One day, smoking in most places will be illegal. We're headed there already. Many municipalities have banned smoking indoors, and a few have banned smoking in public entirely. No one can justify why nicotine isn't illegal... it's a substance designed to trick the brain into wanting more of it. All other drugs of this nature are strictly controlled. It's just a matter of time before the government no longer feels the pressure from an unpopular, weakened, and financially-strapped Big Tobacco.

But smokers shouldn't be outraged. They've had the right to smoke for centuries... and they've abused that privilege. It's their right to smoke, but is it also their right to litter, to force their smoke onto others, to steal our money and waste our time? Maybe if smokers were more responsible about their smoking, people wouldn't want to ban their activity so much.

So smokers, be warned. Stay the hell out of my way.

[UPDATE:] A handy chart:

Smoking Kills

My next rant: Irresponsible New York City dog owners.
Smartest Play Of The NFL Season

Brian Westbrook is one of the NFL's best running backs. He can catch and run, and often--at least these past two years--he has been nearly the entire Philadelphia Eagles offense. But this week in the NFL, he proved to be one of the NFL's smartest, most selfless running backs as well.

The Eagles, still clinging to playoff hopes, were up on the division-leading Dallas Cowboys 10-6, late in the fourth quarter. The Eagles had the ball on the Dallas 25 yard line. That's when Westbrook broke free and headed untouched towards the end zone. And that was when Westbrook... well, watch:

"Why didn't he score?" You may ask. Well, scoring certainly would have put the Eagles up 17-6 with two minutes to go, nearly assuring them of victory. But not scoring, falling down at the one, absolutely, positively assured the Eagles could run the clock down to zero (by kneeling three times), absolutely, positively resulting in an Eagles win.

The Eagles probably would have won if Westbrook scored. But they definitely won because he didn't.

Westbrook credited his offensive tackle, Jon Runyan, with the good advice.

But to me, even more amazing is that fact that Westbrook heeded that advice. With all the emphasis on individual stats and Sportscenter-highlights in today's NFL, Westbrook made a team decision.

And it ended up on Sportscenter anyway.

Westbrook could have moved into sole-possesion of second place in the NFC for touchdowns on the year. Can you imagine T.O. making that decision?

Of course, fantasy football fans who owned Westbrook are unhappy with the outcome. The Eagles winning by fewer points shouldn't have affected many gamblers, because the Cowboys were favored to win.

But Westbrook's selfless act reminds us that sometimes the best highlights highlight something other than an athlete's physical abilities.

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