Great writing from Derek Thompson for The Atlantic:
“As America’s youth have slipped away from organized religion, they haven’t quite fallen into wickedness. If anything, today’s young people are uniquely conscientious—less likely to fight, drink, use hard drugs, or have premarital sex than previous generations. They might not be able to quote from the Book of Matthew, but their economic and social politics—which insist on protections for the politically meek and the historically persecuted—aren’t so far from a certain reading of the beatitudes.
“Most important has been the dramatic changes in the American family. The past half century has dealt a series of body blows to American marriage. Divorce rates spiked in the ’70s through the ’90s, following the state-by-state spread of no-fault divorce laws. Just as divorce rates stabilized, the marriage rate started to plummet in the ’80s, due to both the decline of marriage within the working class and delayed marriage among college-educated couples.”
Frankenstein back with 28 staples (credit: Lindsey Snow)
Life isn’t fair.
I was born with an 80 year-old back. Not exactly 80, but old. It first broke when I was 29. After surgery, it worked again, but only for another six years. It teetered and failed again late this summer in the same spot — a re-ruptured L4/5 disc. The thing was so decrepit, my surgeon had to remove the remains and fuse my spine.
Now I’m resigned to a life of low impact and light lifting. I can’t even hold my youngest brown-eyed boy in his final months of baby-dom, let alone lift a gallon of milk for a month. I can’t return to full activity for six months until the vertebrae fully fuse. And after that, I’m advised to give up running, basketball, soccer, and maybe wake boarding or else.
But it’s not all bad. In fact, I’ve got a heck of a lot to look forward to—a lot more to live for. While having my body deteriorate ahead of schedule and the long recovery are both humbling, I also feel inspired by the experience. Here are 10 things I learned post surgery: Continue reading…
Until I get around to writing a condensed, more interesting story, here’s a chronology of mostly personal events: Continue reading…
The following people are giants in my eyes. Without their supportive shoulders and encouraging spirit, I would be at a disadvantage: Continue reading…
I don’t always study philosophy, but when I do, I make it count.
Case in point: A friend and I were recently discussing the human condition over email. Exhilarating stuff, I know. I’ll skip to the best part.
Basically, we decided that humans struggle to internalize both complex and simple realizations. Complex ones because they’re harder to grasp, and simple takeaways because we’re usually too distracted by temptations, desires, and pleasures to see them through, even if we believe in them (or so argues Aristotle; more on him later).
At this point, I asked my buddy, “So if humans struggle to comprehend both complex and simple ideas, what in the HELL are we good at?”
His reply, “Entertainment. And nothing else.” Full stop. The gravity and strategic double periods of his remark made me do this:
At which point I enrolled in a 36-course undergraduate class from Smith College. Not exactly. But I did download the audible version of the class, The Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World’s Greatest Thinkers, from Amazon!
Having already graduated (go, fight, win!), I did this solely for my own enlightenment. Little did I know how much impact professor Jay Garfield’s masterful curriculum would have on my worldview, existential outlook, and shared beliefs with others.
Here’s what I learned: Continue reading…
My wife and I recently borrowed a large sum of money to buy a highly illiquid asset. To secure the loan, we disclosed more of our financial behavior to the bank than we’ve admitted to anyone else, including God. And rightfully so—again we were borrowing a large sum of money, and they wanted to make sure we’d pay it back.
In addition to scouring our personal finances, the lender took a fine tooth comb to our business finances. I’m self-employed. But my wife owns 50% of “the company.” I generate and service all the income. She gets half. Many would call her—as my lender often did—a “silent partner.” But she is anything but. Continue reading…
Warning: This post contains existential beliefs. If you have a perfect, godless knowledge of the meaning of life, discredit my opinion and skip to next post. Otherwise, follow me, blind believers!
Either dirt has a fetish for fine art or God exists.
I say that because every winter crystals form on my office window. It’s an old, single pane window. It has no business living in an energy-efficient world. But its side effects can be mesmerizing.
Last month, during a particularly negative below cold spell, I entered the room to see something like this, only it was much more mathematical. Like something a computer would do in geometry, spilled all over the lower half of my window. But it wasn’t as mechanical as computer art. It was organic. Precise but spontaneous. As if the creator of math and science Himself had sent a memo.
The other windows in my house don’t do this, but this easterly-facing one does on occasion. Does it come from God or chaos?
Either way, it’s exquisite.
God, how did you get pork ribs to taste so delicious and why didn’t you make beef or chicken ribs this scrumptious?
That’s what I’d ask him. Here’s why: Lindsey and I have made these oven baked ribs several times this summer. They’re ridiculously easy. Can be made using baby or spare ribs. The meat falls of the bone with the slightest of bites. And there are virtually no ligaments or tendons to mess with — the closest thing to cartoon characters eating hunks of meat off single bones.
It’s my new favorite BBQ dish.
Photo credit: rays of sunshine
Six years ago, I wrote about 10 things that scare me. Since then, I’ve overcome many of those fears and have adopted new ones, so I think it’s time I updated my list. Here it is: 10 things that intimidate or otherwise worry me at this point in my life:
- Writing a book. Thanks to blogging and an insatiable curiosity, I’m a self-made writer. Since 2005, I’ve written tens of thousands of posts. I’ve also written hundreds of 800-6000 word feature stories, and thousands of pages of special reports, columns, product reviews, opinion pieces and analysis. And yet, writing a 10 chapter book seems so daunting to me. Go figure. It’s probably because the required focus conflicts with my ADA more than a writing project that typically lasts no more than a half day to a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, it’s my biggest professional fear. Continue reading…
One of my goals in life is to become a centenarian, someone over 100 years of age. A few years ago, a team of researchers identified four areas that had the highest number of centenarians per capita in the world. They studied these people, wrote a book about them, then distilled their similar lifestyles down to a set of consistent life-giving habits.
And by life giving, I really mean death halting. Since there’s no brake on death, the best you can do is ease off the accelerator. With my added commentary, here are nine ways to do just that, as compiled by author Dan Buettner:
- Find a physical activity you enjoy and keep doing it. Do it for as long as you enjoy it. If and when you tire of that activity, find something else that pleases you. For example, you could start jogging, and if that becomes a bore, move to biking. Then swimming. Then Pilates. Then kickboxing. Then underwater basket weaving. Whatever it is, be sure to do it at least three times a week, moreso for idle or cubicle people. (In my case, since I sit at a desk and work from home, I have to move a lot more than most people to achieve the optimal amount of fitness.)
- Stop eating when you’re no longer hungry, as opposed to being full. There’s a difference. About 20% less food per meal, in fact. In short, this is the best known way to eat less. Stop when satisfied instead of stuffing yourself. Continue reading…
Like many things in life, the island of Madagascar is a mystery. A mini continent off the southeast coast of Africa, it features all kinds of crazy animals that shouldn’t be there.
How did they get there?
Since there’s no evidence of a land bridge, scientific consensus says that animals from Africa suddenly got the urge to hit the open seas on self-made rafts and hope for the best, even though currents and prevailing winds blow away from the island.
I imagine the sporadic migration of seafaring land animals went something like this:
I’d be a Mormon even if one of the most poetic, influential, and “let’s bring keyboards and saxophones back” rockstars of the last decade wasn’t.
Plus, if I wanted to align myself closer with celebrity thinking, there are a lot more popular, less demanding belief systems in existence to boost my status.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to have Brandon Flowers of The Killers publicly casting his lot with mine. If anything, he rocks a religious promotional video better than other celebrities.
Of course, religion, following Christ, or believing in God will never be cool. Nor should it be. Depending on the community, persecution rightfully comes with the territory. (How else would deity test the faith of its followers?)
Nevertheless, it’s nice to have backup. Superstar DJs very much included.
We now return to regularly schedules jokes about magic underwear, big love, how religion (not greed) ruins the world, why educated people have a harder time believing in God than uneducated people, great and spacious buildings, how successful people often get prideful and turn into jerks, yesterday’s news that Joseph Smith was a controversial man since he was entitled to agency like everyone else (including other purported prophets), why neither atheist nor believers have faith-shattering proof of anything, and Christians calling other Christians non-Christians because the second group worships in a different way. Go figure.
“My own experience has given me the conviction that, quite apart from any such terrors or imaginings, the religious sentiment tends to develop as we grow older; to develop because, as the passions grow calm, as the fancy and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason becomes less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed; whereupon God emerges as from behind a cloud; our soul feels, sees, turns towards the source of all light; turns naturally and inevitably; for now that all that gave to the world of sensations its life and charm has begun to leak away from us, now that phenomenal existence is no more bolstered up by impressions from within or from without, we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false—a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God; for this religious sentiment is of its nature so pure, so delightful to the soul that experiences it, that it makes up to us for all our other losses.”—My favorite passage from Brave New World
Behold—my obligatory Thanksgiving post. In honesty, I actually write these for myself, as they’re fun to look back on. But most importantly, they make me feel blessed. And who doesn’t like to feel blessed?! Continue reading…
At the recommendation of a long-time Smooth Harold reader (thanks, Nic), I finished Robinson Crusoe over the weekend. Regarded as the first novel written in English and first published in 1719, it’s a story about high-sea adventure, shipwrecks, castaways, gratitude, hard work, and international intrigue.
What I like most about the book is Defoe’s poetic commentary on human behavior. For example, after Robinson nearly drowned at sea for the first time, he quickly swore off his selfish ways and committed himself to God, before changing his mind after disaster had been averted: Continue reading…
I finished reading the popular Life of Pi last night. In sum, it’s a clever endorsement for zoos, storytelling, and the existence of God, either allegorically or literally.
Author Yann Martel’s use of metaphors is inspired and makes me feel inadequate as a writer when it comes to creatively describing objects, emotions, and experiences. For that, I was in awe — and laughing at times. Overall, I give the book four stars out of five for dragging a little in the first and second acts. Chapter 97 is my favorite.
If I were a disoriented high school or college student, and were forced to answer the following discussion guide questions for a homework assignment, these would be my answers:
This year felt a lot like last for me. I liked that.
That’s not to say thetr weren’t any life improvements — there most definitely were. But it did feel like business as usual with a few notable exceptions. Lindsey and I went on a lovely vacation to the Caribbean in February. Sadie started dance class and abandoned diapers over the summer (rad). Maddie started walking and her colorful personality has filled our house with 100% more smiles. We visited my parents home in Georgia for the first time in three years. And I started two new writing gigs.
In sum, here is what I am most thankful for this year: Continue reading…
A statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reads: “President Gordon B. Hinckley, who led The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through twelve years of global expansion, has died at the age of 97… from causes incident to age.
“His quick wit and humor, combined with an eloquent style at the pulpit, made him one of the most loved of modern Church leaders. A profoundly spiritual man, he had a great fondness for history and often peppered his sermons with stories from the Church’s pioneer past.”
In my lifetime, I respected this man as a prophet of God.
I’m no fan of new year’s resolutions. I think individuals should resolve to improve on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, not yearly. But I am big believer in learning from the previous year, which brings me to my list of top educational attainments and the last post of 2007.
- More really is merrier.
I’m the proud father of two girls instead of one as of October. Before the latest arrival (Hi, Maddie!), I errantly thought that two kids would double the parenting workload. In reality, it feels more like a 1.5 workload with a 2.5 return. Challenging, yes, but even more rewarding than I imagined. Continue reading…
Parents say the darndest things to influence kids — especially when their two-year-olds constantly question “Why?” after every command, like my daughter.
For example, she has this stuffed Elmo she takes wherever she goes. Expectedly, Lindsey and I are trying to put the kibosh on that — more for convenience than principle. So when leaving for church yesterday morning, my daughter wanted to take Elmo. “No,” her mother replied, to which Sadie quickly retorted, “Why?”
“Because Elmo doesn’t believe in God — he’s an atheist.”
Later that night, while trying to persuade Sadie to eat her veggies after she repeatedly questioned “Why?” I said, “Because Elmo’s a corn-eating fool.”
In a single day, the muppet became a corn-eating atheist. God bless his soul.
Publicly professing your gratitude once a year makes up for an otherwise selfish individual, right? Whatever the case, here are 10 things I’m thankful for in 2007, a day before Thanksgiving — some genuine, others with tongue in cheek. Continue reading…
I’m 27. Married. And I have one little girl with one more (girl/boy) on the way due this October. I’ve been self-employed for over three years, I work from home, and I believe in God. Here are 10 things that scare/worry me at this point in my life: Continue reading…
Happy Thanksgiving to all you SH readers out there. Some things I’m thankful for on this day of thanks (In no particular order, sort of):
- The Man upstairs
- My wife and new baby girl
- RSS Readers
- 1&1 dedicated server
- A warm apartment with food to eat
- A great family and close friends
- Informative magazines
- The clients that have entrusted me with their business
- The opportunity to be an entrepreneur
- My country
- My desk
- Kind individuals
- Great minds
- Sincerity & honesty
May the turkey be juicy, and may you kick off the holiday season with a bang!
(see also, Wikipedia)