Thursday, April 28, 2011

Post No. 164: Can One Be Responsible and Irresponsible at the Same Time?

© 2011, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

(Pssshh. This post is about Katie Kouric.)

Earlier today, one of our loyal followers (the Independent Cuss) inquired as to our next topic. Although we suspected that our readers had enough of the subject, we weren’t quite through whipping the dead horse of freedom of political expression (or the Koran burning Rev. Jerry Jones). Therefore we provided some other nuance of the subject to piss off some additional people.

(This post is about Katie Kouric.)

In reality, over the past week we missed our regular viewing of Tom and Jerry cartoons, and AMC did not air enough Three Stooges movie shorts to provide us with a global, historical appreciation of the world and its contents. Consequently, we were at a loss for scintillating, adult-oriented subject matter.

However, the Weather Channel came to the rescue and filled the intellectual void. When one considers that they regularly feature, “How Weather Changed History,” it makes one realize that this underdog channel deserves more of our attention.

(This post is about Katie Kouric.)

A few months back, we generated a piece entitled, As is the Case with the Truth, Personal Responsibility is Rarely Plain, and It’s Never Simple. During many of the comment threads flowing from our posts, it occurred to us that Personal Responsibility means different things to different people.

Some feel that Personal Responsibility is personal to the actor, while others feel that some standard or reference point is established through the collective eyes of a group or through the mouths of the most vocal members of a group. For some others, such as religious sorts, the concept is defined by some higher authority or power. For the liquor manufacturers, it’s about drinking just enough short of embarrassing yourself in some form or fashion.

(Yep, this post is about Katie Kouric.)

When the Institute was based in Los Angeles, on our trips back east people would frequently suggest that they could not live anywhere near the San Andreas Fault. They were concerned that the “Big One” might occur, kill them, and destroy all for which they had worked. We always responded that the “Big One” would probably be only once in a lifetime.

But as we watched the Weather Channel’s coverage of the recent string of storms which swept the southern region of the US, we asked ourselves, "How often does a threat need to appear before a region decides that the risk level is too high to live there on a continuing basis?"

We Baby Boomers can readily recall instances during our youth when residents in purported Third World countries were devastated by various natural forces, and the media always asked how they could return and rebuild year after year following natural devastation. It was a testament to human … something.

(Some have even suggested that we are rapidly approaching our goal of becoming a Third World nation, since we previously attained the status of a “Developed Nation,” and appear to be going in the other direction.)

We here in America historically felt that we were smarter than Nature and that our engineers could figure out a way to win the match. After all, we placed a man on the Moon….
That is until Hurricane Katrina delivered a wallop to the Gulf Coast, and made us look like a bunch of mere mortals. Some suggested that the “responsible thing to do” would be to abandon New Orleans and similarly affected areas.

As we watched the Weather Channel’s coverage of this week’s devastation, particularly in Alabama, it occurred to us: At what point do people, society, and government (oops, and the private sector) decide to shift their efforts to other pursuits and abandon their prior ventures?

How much time should anyone spend pursuing any goal before it becomes the “irresponsible” thing to do? If one does not invest “enough” time or effort, is that person a “quitter?” Do the times dictate or suggest how long anyone should devote their time and energy to any venture? Who decides?

There are only 2 things about which we are absolutely certain in life:

1) Many of our readers have a clear cut, black and white line in their minds as to what is “responsible” and what is “irresponsible;” and

2) This post is about Katie Kouric.

Well, maybe not.

On second thought, this post is about Bill Gates of Microsoft fame, who quit Harvard to go out and pursue his PC dream.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Post No. 163: Monkey See; Monkey Do

© 2011, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

Not long ago, a friend of the Institute sent us this story from a major news source:

Beverly Hills Police officers responded last evening to a collision involving a single vehicle at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Rodeo Drive. The driver and passenger were killed. As police examined the wreckage, a little monkey came out of the brush and hopped around the crashed car.

One of the officers looked at the monkey and said, "I wish you could talk."

The monkey looked up at the officer and nodded and raised his head up and down.

"You can understand what I'm saying?" asked the officer.

Again, the monkey picked his head up and down.

"Well, did you see this?"

"Yes," motioned the monkey.

"What happened?" asked the Officer.

The monkey made a gesture as if he had a can in his hand and turned it up by his mouth.

"They were drinking?" asked the officer.

The monkey’s head movements indicated another "Yes."

"What else?" said the Officer. The monkey pinched his fingers together and held them to his mouth.

"They were smoking marijuana?"

The monkey shook his head again indicating, "Yes."

"What else?"

The monkey then made a kissing motion.

"They were kissing, too?" asked the astounded officer.

The monkey again nodded affirmatively.

"Now wait, you witnessed your owners drinking, smoking, and kissing before they wrecked?"

The monkey shook his head vigorously providing another "Yes" response.

"And what were you doing all of this time?"

"Driving," motioned the monkey.

This unfortunate incident reminded us of the potential risks associated with monkeys seeing other monkeys doing dangerous things.

While Common Sense might be relatively simplistic (and capable of being appreciated by monkeys), and frequently merges with Personal Responsibility, there are times when Personal Responsibility is a far more complicated and nuanced concept, depending on the environment and the monkeys involved.

In prior posts, we spoke of the need on the part of some individuals to be right, rather than accurate. Today we shift from being right to having rights.

There’s a “rights” story out there that’s been gnawing on our peanuts for the past couple of weeks. And while many had much to say about the potential threat in the months leading up to the story, once the threat was actually consummated, there were very few American political leaders who had much to say.

Perhaps it received so little attention in the media due to other more pressing stories, such as the Japanese nuclear radiation risk, the potential shutdown of the U.S. government, and our involvement in Libya. Or maybe most regular citizens just didn’t care once the act occurred.

We’re talking about Terry Jones, the Pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida, who, in 2010, threatened to burn Korans to mark the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11.

When he initially made the threat, virtually everyone came out of the woodwork, out of fear that the ensuing fire would engulf their abodes, or real estate projects in which they had invested. But after faking us out with a song and dance alongside a organ grinder and suggesting that he had realized the folly of his ways, on March 21, 2011, the Good Reverend conducted a mock trial (consisting primarily of members of his congregation as jurors), after which he went through with the burning.

Unfortunately, the burning of the books may have been a factor in the attack shortly thereafter on a United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, which left at least 30 people dead, and as many as 150 injured, following 5 days of rioting.

No one will ever be able to prove, with any degree of certainty, whether the exercise of the Good Reverend’s right to express his views was a contributing factor to the bloodshed. But we were surprised at the paucity of coverage of the event by the media, and by how little our political leadership in this country had to say about the burning, and its possible ramifications.

Particularly those in American society who generally argue so forcefully against burning anything which they value.

(Although we do not have any empirical evidence to support this, our guess is that Kobe Bryant received more press accusing a pro basketball referee of being related to Liberace.)

Maybe we were all afraid that some other monkeys out there might repeat the show, and that others might try to imitate the original.

Or perhaps it made some of us actually realize that the exercise of our individual rights might not always be the most responsible thing to do, depending on the environment and the parties (or monkeys) involved.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Post No. 162d: Chicago School Bans Some Lunches Brought from Home

According to the Chicago Tribune, an Illinois school has banned certain lunches brought from home. According to the school head, the new policy is designed to assist students in making healthy food choices.

Is this a responsible or irresponsible approach?

Check out the article here.

"There Are More Than 2 Or 3 Ways To View Any Issue; There Are At Least 27"™

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"Common Sense Should be a Way of Life"™