Sunday, 06 March 2011
I like hypothetical games. It's a good way to kill time until Friday, or until she's drunk enough to go home with you. Here are a few of my favorites.
The Finger Question - This one is simple, but always leads to thoughtful discussion. The question: how much money would you have to be paid to surgically remove one (1) finger of your choosing? The parameters: the operation is professionally done, in a hospital; it's not a shoddy back-alley operation in South America. There's no risk of a botched surgery or any problems arising, and the finger is going to a good cause; maybe scientific research, or something.
You get to pick which finger it is, and you get one lump sum of cash. You're under anesthetic for the entire operation, so you don't feel anything; you simply wake up, and that finger is gone. Which finger, and how much?
Most people will start off with some ridiculous stance - "No way! It would have to be ten billion dollars for me to even think about it!" That's when you say, "So you wouldn't do it for a billion?" and watch as they shrug and reconsider. "I mean, I don't know..."
Then you start talking about the power of money. For a few mil you could have a new prosthetic finger attached that would not only replace your old one, but also have a built-in GPS system and access to the iTunes store. Yeah, there's an app for that. Now you've talked this person down into the 9-figure range; maybe they've agreed to $100 million. Cut it in half.
You wouldn't lose a finger for $50 mil? You'd never have to work again in your life. You could spend your days traveling the world, living lavishly, donating to charities, changing lives - almost anything you wanted, short of owning a pro football team. You'd rather continue your crappy life than have $50 MILLION dollars?
Continue in this fashion until you've whittled them down to their actual answer, which will be much lower than what they started with. In case you were wondering: my left ring finger can be had for a cool $500,000. The recession ain't over, people.
The Lightsaber - We're all familiar with lightsabers, yes? The choice weapon of the Jedi in Star Wars, capable of slicing through pretty much anything like a knife through hot butter.
The question is this: You win a secret intergalactic competition and are given the choice of two prizes. You can either select a lightsaber, or a lump sum of cash (the LSoC is the motif of this article). How much money would you have to be offered to pass up the saber?
Considering the lightsaber is technology far beyond anything we currently have, it's safe to assume it would be worth a shitload of money. The question is, who would buy it? You'd have to be pretty careful about how you went about it.
For example, if you just started showing it off on the corner outside of your Brooklyn apartment, you might impress a few neighbors and make the local news, but the next morning you'll wake up with a black bag on your face in a dimly-lit interrogation room while the CIA figures out what to do with you and how to make use of their new toy.
There are two moves, in my opinion: crime, and wild publicity.
Strap on a ski mask and stroll down to the local bank well after dark. Unsheathe your saber and carve a nice little hole in the wall, grab your cash, and hit the road; you're some sort of a cross between "Star Wars" and "Jumper".
The problem is you would have to pull this off several times before you actually had a large amount of cash, and if the alarm goes off, there's not much your saber is gonna do for ya. Even though you can technically deflect bullets with it, you're not nearly skilled enough, and probably never will be. The force is weak in you, my son.
Option B is the publicity stunt. Call up Good Morning America and tell them you've got the story of the decade. When they ask what it is, tell them you've got the Justin Bieber/Selena Gomez sex tape.
What, you thought I'd have you call in and say you found a lightsaber? There's no chance they accept that call, let alone set up an interview.
Once they show up at your house, get everything all set up, and when the camera starts rolling, you bust out the saber and slice through a cinderblock or something. Announce that you're sorry, you don't have the sex tape, but you do have...this! From there, the choice is yours; throw it on eBay, ask for bidders on TV, declare yourself the defender of the free world...the choice is yours.
Of course, you could always pass on the saber and take the cash, but where's the fun in that?
Man vs. Cheetah - This one is near and dear to my heart, because I've spent many man-hours debating it with my peers, often while under the influence of this, that, or the other.
I'm 6'0'' tall on the nose, athletic, and in decent shape. I weigh roughly 200 lbs. Consider this: I am placed in a small room, maybe the size of a small bedroom, that has no windows and is completely empty. The walls are metallic, save for a glass section for viewing; basically, imagine a police interrogation room, without the chair or the table. In one corner is me, wearing blue jeans and a fleece. I am equipped with one (1) machete.
In the other corner...is a cheetah. Yes, the fastest land animal on the planet - but also terribly suited for the current contest. The small room affords it no real advantage for it's speed. The adult cheetah weighs anywhere from 80 - 140 lbs, so we'll cut it right in half and say this one weighs 110 lbs.
I am almost twice as large as this animal. A quick read of the cheetah Wikipedia page tells us that the cheetah kills prey, usually under 88 lbs, by "tripping it during the chase, then biting it on the underside of the throat to suffocate it; the cheetah is not strong enough to break the necks".
I've consistently been rebuffed in my claim that I would win this battle. Yes, I would probably suffer some painful injuries and possibly even some life-threatening ones, but if presented the opportunity to do battle with a cheetah under these conditions for a grand prize of $1,000,000 if I was victorious, I would accept.
I have a standing offer from a few of my friends that if they ever become rich enough, they'll make sure to arrange it. It would have to be an underground affair, considering the cheetah is an endangered species and all, but if that day comes, I'll be ready.
Tuesday, 01 March 2011
I haven't gotten legitimately sick in at least two years; it could be as long as three or four, but I honestly can't remember. My theory: I've never given a crap about germs and all that nonsense my whole life, and now my immune system sees puny flu particles and laughs in their face. Common cold? Please. You better come with something better than that.
I would like to see some statistics about garbage men and how often they get sick - I'd bet a Sacajawea coin that they have half as many trips to the doctor as the dude at your office who's always singing the praises of waterless soap.
It saddens me to see how men, as a species, are going the other direction. Girls have always complained that It's Too Cold In Here or My Mono Is Acting Up Again, but us guys? Seriously?
Since when is it cool to be sick? Unless you're under the age of 17, you shouldn't flaunt your Kleenex like it's a flag at the Alamo. And don't even get me started on hand sanitizer. Unless your day job involves regularly handling fecal matter and/or weapons-grade plutonium, you can wait until the next time you drop your skinny jeans to wash the digits.
Everybody is too clean and too worried. If somebody drops a cookie and calls the five-second rule, these days they get looked at like a leper. It's time we set some things straight. Here's some other topics that really chap my ass when it comes to the subject of dirty.
-- Why do people brush their teeth right before going to bed...and then again as soon as they wake up? What exactly happened to your teeth during the course of the night that requires immediate attention? Unless you woke up to your roommate farting in your face, you can either wait until after breakfast (ruins the breakfast aftertaste, but at least defensible) or chill until lunch. Even in this hypothetical situation, you should be more worried about pinkeye.
-- The aforementioned five second rule. To be honest, it should be renamed the "as long as it didn't land in dog shit" rule. Alright, that may be a bit strong, but still - you do realize nothing will happen, right?
Imagine the cookie being a flying saucer, and the germs on the ground being tiny people. When the cookie lands, it immediately crushes and kills all the poor suckers underneath it. The people in the surrounding area get knocked 50 feet back by the shock wave, and even after they stand up, they're too dazed and bewildered to walk up to the space ship. You've got at least a minute before you should worry.
People who don't pick up the cookie shouldn't be trusted.
-- Eating other people's pizza crust. First of all, why aren't you eating the crust? It's the best part. What else is wrong with you? Secondly, why do you care if I eat it? If you have the Ebola virus, tell me; otherwise, just shut up and let me enjoy this delicious saucy bread. As soon as somebody starts piling up their crust like Lincoln Logs, I start interrogating, both for my own gain and to peer into their soul.
Me - Saving the crust for last, eh? I like it. Do you prefer ranch or garlic sauce for dipping?
Good Answer - Hell yeah. Garlic sauce all day; ranch dressing is for people from Pennsylvania.
Medium Answer - I don't like the crust, you can have it.
Bad Answer - I'm not eating the crust; I'm trying out this low-carb diet that I saw in Cosmo.
-- Drinking straight from the carton. Look, I'm not telling you to wrap your lips around the Tropicana glory hole and suck like a Tijuana hooker - you're looking to wet your whistle, not get to third base. There's a proper way to do this. Open the cap, lean your head back, and slow-pour down the chute. No lip contact, no foul - germs don't swim upstream, they're not salmon. After some practice, you can try it with a quart of milk; the handle isn't as easy, but the triangular opening allows for great aim.
-- Taking the laptop into the bathroom. Why is this gross? First of all, whenever possible I have an accessory - a chair, a stool, a small table - on which I place my laptop, forming a makeshift desk. Even if I did have it on my lap, it's resting on my knees; I'm not sticking my salami into the CD-ROM drive. Take a deep breath and put down the Purell before somebody gets hurt.
I can hear the retorts already. "Wahhh, but the human lifespan is now 75! Hygiene is why we live that long!" Yeah, but do you think your pussy genes would have made it this far if your ancestors were passing up their version of the crust?
Bitchy Caveman - "No thanks, I don't eat woolly mammoth nipples; they give me gas."
Badass Caveman - "Cool, well then you can go eat that root over there, or just starve, I don't give a shit. And show some damn respect, we lost two good men out there slaying this beast while you were drawing those gay pictures on the cave wall."
Every night I eat dinner with my family, which currently consists of me, my parents, and my youngest brother James, who is now 8. James rules the house with an iron fist. We call him "King James," but really that's an insult to him; he lives more like a Pharaoh.
He controls the TV in a manner that would make Gadhafi blush. He doesn't ask what's for dinner - he tells you what's for dinner. He hasn't worn pants on the weekend since 2007. He has a goldfish next to his bed - Oscar - who was won at a town fair in 2003 and is still alive. That's from the first term of the Bush administration! If those goldfish make it a day before going down the toilet, you call it a win. The only explanation is that James has not yet given him permission to die.
But it's his meals that impress me the most. More Here...
During my junior year of high school, I had an economics class that was taught by my basketball coach. Needless to say, there wasn't much economic dialogue taking place. I sat in the back corner with four of my friends, and every day we spent block 3 debating movies, girls, sports, and so on. Halfway through the year we began a brazen attempt to rank the top 50 movies of all time, largely because of my long-standing claim that The Rundown, starring Duane "The Rock" Johnson, deserved a spot in the top 25.
During one of our panel discussions that week, a smoking-hot babe from the grade above us came in to drop off some papers for the teacher. Our conversation died quicker than a carnival goldfish, and my buddy Harry summed up the thoughts of the group rather nicely: "Screw movies. Let's do the girls in our school." More Here...
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Analogies are one of my favorite cognitive processes, quite possibly my favorite. We have a symbiotic relationship: I use them often and spread their gospel of truth, reason, and humor, and they helped me do well on the SAT's. Sometimes a beautiful analogy will come to me at random, in a moment of clarity, like a sign from the gods themselves. The other day was just such an occurrence.
I was on a train with a few friends of mine, heading to a birthday celebration for one of our high school buddies at a bar in Manhattan. One of my friends was giving us the ins and outs of his recent breakup with a longtime girlfriend. The group, unwilling to pause and reflect on the emotional strain of a suspended relationship and the value of true love, quickly turned the conversation to pussy-getting. A random three-way story here, a failed attempt at anal there; in true man-code fashion, his friends were turning his attention from the negative and instead focusing on the potential for positives. It was beautiful to watch. Who cares if you'll cry yourself to sleep whenever you see a commercial for her favorite Oxygen show? You can still go out three nights a week and try to get chlamydia. Ah, the fish in the sea.
During the conversation, somebody casually mentioned "the hunt". Guys know what I'm talking about. There is an unmistakable feeling when you're freshly single, and you remember what it's like to hunt for your food instead of having it brought to you. You are a cheetah that has been raised in captivity, finally released into the wild. The adrenaline rush as you walk into the club (safari) and take a moment to scan the bar (watering hole) for women (fauna/prey). It's before you realize you've been in captivity for so long that you've forgotten how to hunt (let's not even think about mating yet; ten hours of Panda porn couldn't help you now). It's before you look down and realize you have your black Nike socks and loafers on; before you realize that this prey doesn't want to be hunted. These women are zebra, or antelope, or even water buffalo. Some will kick you in the face; others will simply outrun you. Others still are too large to be taken down without a significant risk of injury (emotional, when you wake up the next morning). Before you confront these cold, hard facts, you are taken over by the rush of excitement that comes along with new found freedom.
Soon, however, reality hits. It's been two weeks since you've left captivity. You're starving. In the wild, you would do two weeks no problem, but you're used to getting fed daily. You got fat. You got slow. You start wondering what happened to your cheetah body. You start thinking about all that free meat placed right in front of you back in the day. Was it the freshest, Grade-A meat out there? Was it a filet mignon? No, but it was pretty solid meat, and there was plenty of it. Sirloin for days.
Before you know it, you're desperate. You just need a taste, a piece, anything. You end up back at the watering hole, scoping out the same water buffalo that's been there for weeks now. Nobody messes with her - too big. Just leave it be, your wild cheetah buddies tell you. One of these antelope is gonna slow down soon, maybe sprain an emotional ankle, and then you can pounce. Hell, they feel so bad for you that they'll even help you. But not this buffalo. "This one," they say, "you're on your own."
And that's when cheetahs make mistakes.
This actually started in my head as a hunter-gatherer analogy. The gatherer is the relationship man; he has a steady home, and his garden is sustainable. He can eat for free while it replenishes itself, with only minor work on his part. He is free to discover tools, invent the wheel, or win his fantasy football league. Or, he is the captive cheetah, fed meat daily, never worrying about anything higher on the food chain stealing his bounty. He has no competition, and lives a cushy, comfortable, predictable life.
The hunter is the single man. He may not be furthering mankind, but he can definitely kick your ass. He fends for himself in the wild. He is chiseled, sculpted; the hunt demands it of him. Leisure time? Hardly. From sharpening his spear to shopping at Banana Republic, everything he does is geared towards the hunt. He may go weeks without eating, but he can take it. He is a nomad, going wherever the food is. He is the wild cheetah. Every day is a struggle, but it's that very struggle that keeps him alive. You call him an endangered species and try to reason with him, to lure him into the cage filled with meat and water and artificial grass; he says "Fuck off, I can take care of myself."
Anything can be twisted or slanted to sound better or worse than the alternative. I'm not making a case for either one; I'll leave that up to you fellas. Would you rather be the proud hunter,
or the stable gatherer?