Archives For rants

How May I Help You?

July 7, 2010

I think the most memorable part of vacations is usually when things go wrong.

Seriously.  You make plans to take a trip.  You come home with a bunch of pictures that people politely look at.  But it’s when something goes really wrong that you have a great story to tell people.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were on vacation, and while we were in the middle of nowhere, we had two flat tires.  At the same time.  They’re shredded.  And the state we were in had shockingly few gas stations.  Oh, and we’re in a car from National car rental, so that’s fun too. 

I braced myself and put on my “please-for-the-love-of-God-help-me” voice to make what I was sure would be a pain and numbness inducing call to the car rental hotline.  I hate talking to customer service reps.  Sure enough, we were six hours away from their nearest rental office.  This was going to be a disaster.

Then something funny happened.  I realized the girl on the hotline was being really compassionate toward me.  She was typing away on her computer for a long time and then told me she had reserved a new car for me at a competitor’s office.  A tow truck picked me up a while later.  And the girl at the competitor’s rental office ended up staying at work two hours past closing time to be there when I arrived for my new car.  Wow.

I’m not usually pleasantly surprised by customer service.  Usually, I’d rather be waterboarded than call an 800 number.  But every once in a while, I’m surprised that I haven’t been insulted by a massive corporation.

I’d like to write a whole post about all the surprisingly great customer service I’ve recieved.  But I just don’t have enough stories.  But I have plenty of these…

My Six Worst Places for Customer Service

Continue Reading…

Cars, food, entertainment:

I’ll be blunt. I don’t like advertisements. Unless your stupid product falls under one of those categories, I don’t want to know about it, so you can cut the television ads. They’re pointless. And even some ads that plug one of those acceptable products have long since become vomit-worthy. I’m looking your way, Taco Bell.

Apparently, the brilliant strategy Taco Bell pays their ad executives to come up with is to slap together an only mildly annoying ad…then run it approximately one-thousand times on a given day, for two solid weeks until the very sight of a volcano taco makes the TV watching victim want to hurl. Rinse, and repeat.

Actually, Taco Bell might be doing us a favor by letting us skip their food and go straight for the vomiting by way of their commercials.

But this post isn’t about Taco Bell, as much as it’s played into the last two paragraphs. It’s about these ads:


Drug ads are ridiculous. The US and New Zealand, I hear, are the only places that allow this junk. So I guess Europe gets on the board with 1 reason it’s better than America.

Americans are a bunch of crybabies. As soon as something goes slightly wrong – we get a tummyache or the sniffles, we want a fix now. In the old days, that didn’t happen. Back when average men worked in smog factories and ate lunch out of buckets, know what they did when they mangled their hands in the machinery? They drank some ‘tonic,’ and then went home and chopped wood for the fireplace…because the boss fired them for breaking the machine.

The fact that Americans are crybabies plays a big role in our healthcare debate. I’ll explain that on a later date. I just like throwing that out there so I can watch what happens.

And the fact that Americans are crybabies is the reason that drug companies spend so much time telling us about their candy-coated products.

See, Americans have more choices about everything than anyone has ever had. Most of those choices happen to be stupid choices, but stupid choices are what keeps our great economy churning. So it makes sense that Americans should have lots of stupid choices when it comes to drugs.

It’s pretty easy to make an ad for a prescription drug:
Step 1. Pay some guy to come up with a catchy drug name.
Step 2. Make some graphics of the drug dissolving in someone’s body.
Step 3. Find a fast talking guy to read all the horrible side effects the drug may have. No one cares about side effects. That’s why Outback Steakhouse is still in business.
Step 4. Pay a family to pretend they’re having a great time, now that Dad’s prostate is back to normal.

The result? Some guy has a minor pain in his body. He sees an appealing drug ad where the people look much happier than he is. He wishes he could be as happy as those people. He goes on WebMD and enters his pitiful symptoms. He hopes he has something that can be treated with that drug he saw on TV. He narrows his self-diagnosis down to eleven possible diseases and picks his favorite out of those, because WebMD, despite the name, is not an MD and cannot narrow your possible diseases to fewer than eleven. He then goes to a real doctor, who went to school for ten years to learn how to diagnose slobs like him, and proceeds to roll out his expert opinion as he sits on that paper covered exam bed, and demand to be prescribed the drug he saw on TV.

When the ad says, “Ask your doctor if Xanax is right for you,” what they really want you to say is, Tell your doctor that Xanax is right for you, and you’ll sue him for malpractice if he doesn’t give you some free samples.”

This phenomenon – people thinking they are doctors, is all over the place. There’s no better reason for people to consider themselves ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious.’ People are their own doctors, teachers and preachers. Doctors are like churches. We both speak with authority to people about what is wrong, and what needs to be done to fix it. These days, the most natural thing to do would be to discard that opinion in favor of some ‘alternative’ medicine. And it’s all based on some colorful advertising.

The reprieve for the doctors come when people find that alternative medicine is usually a scam. I don’t know where the reprieve is for the church. What do you think? About ads, about WebMD, about Taco Bell, or about that rabbit trail that really did lead to church? Are we more empowered with so much information at hand, or even more foolish?

Update: I had an email come my way from a reader especially concerned with overmedicating. He asked that I link to an article he wrote, and I’m feeling good, thanks to my Zoloft, so I decided to oblige. It’s an interesting read: http://healthlifeandstuff.com/2009/10/xanax-side-effects-uses-withdrawal/

If there’s one phrase in the whole world I love to hear, it’s this:

“Experts were surprised…”

Good thing I love that phrase, because I get to hear it a lot these days. Just google those words. You will literally get 29 million results. That’s a lot of surprises. Whenever the news reports on some new surprise that experts find, they like to dress it up with phrases like, “Experts are reeling over the new findings.” I just want to find the expert that told the news reporter, “I am reeling over these new findings.” No one says that. Except maybe this expert to the left, who’s getting ready to eat a big mouthful of crow.

A few years ago, ‘experts’ predicted longer, more intense hurricane seasons because of the evils of mankind. Which sounds a lot like how ancient people explained everything from eclipses to droughts. The gods are angry with us, find a virgin to sacrifice! Anyway, we were told we could expect a lot more ‘Katrinas’ in the future and face doomsday unless we sacrificed a bunch of oil executives on an altar. Since then, the experts have been surprised by record-breaking calm hurricane seasons.

The current list of things that surprise experts includes, but is not limited to hurricanes, unemployment, Antarctica, Orangutans, swine flu, Iran, the Royal Bank of Scotland, earthquakes, Cash for Clunkers, the Chinese, Prince Charles, Komodo Dragons, teen birth rates, experts’ rates of being surprised, obesity, and surprise birthday parties.

If you love surprises, now is a great time to be an expert!

I’ve got a five things to say to the experts of the world.

How do I become an expert?
You make being an expert look so easy! With just that title, people line up to interview you, buy your books, plagarize your words in their high school research papers. Is there a class I can take, perhaps at my local community college or online that will teach me how to be an expert? What certification board do I need to apply to for my Expert Degree?

Oh, there is no Expert School?
Then how do you become an expert? I can’t see you calling yourself an ‘expert,’ ‘guru,’ ‘virtuoso,’ or ‘wizard,’ with no qualifications, because that would be incredibly egotistical, and would kind of set you up for a huge, surprising failure. No, a real expert would never make this mistake. It wouldn’t be wise to call yourself an ‘expert’ when you really aren’t an expert…and yet, I can’t shake a sneaking suspicion…

You don’t know what you’re talking about.
The more you say, and the more authority you use to say it, the more times you have to eat your words. It’s evident to me that we have a bunch of people running the world, our nations, our banks, our schools, our churches, writing books, being published and quoted who don’t have a gat-dang clue what they’re talking about. They don’t know history; that’s why they’re reliving it. They don’t know economics; that’s why they’re trashing it. They don’t know science because big business pays for science. If an expert says something, I can make a pretty sure bet, something else will happen somewhere in the world. Besides that…

Expert is just another word for ‘nerd.’
Nicholas Butler, an expert on, ironically, experts, said, “An expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less.” In other words, expert knowledge is so deep and so narrow, that almost no one else cares unless your expertise in in Star Wars. Such a level of nerd-knowledge makes it even more ironic that a bunch of super-nerds can be surprised so often.

I’m not an expert.
Just kidding, I’m an expert at being awesome. But really, I can’t afford to be an expert. I have precious little capital to spend on getting people to believe me. I can’t be throwing it around like an expert. I’ve had enough failures and shortcomings already, I don’t need to fall from the ‘expert’ pedistal.

If you really are an expert, people will notice it and call you an expert. Don’t look like a tool and set yourself up for failure by putting it on your resume. I see ‘expert’ and immediately smirk. That goes for Christian experts too. Your reputation precedes you. You don’t have to tell us you have a reputation. Maybe you really are an expert. Fine, but think about what your fellow experts are doing to give experts a bad name.

What say you? Do you consider yourself an expert at anything? If you could call yourself an expert at something, what would it be? It’s okay to call yourself an expert here. We’re all laughing with each other, not at each other here.

Friendly Atheist Arguments

September 16, 2009

Monday, I talked about the useless arguments Christians are prone to use when trying to convince non-believers about God.

Let’s turn the tables. Because there’s a few asinine arguments up a lot of atheists’ sleeve too.

I still stand by what I said that most atheists are lovely people. But I cannot deny that there is a new breed of neo-Atheists who can hardly be called ‘friendly.’ They act as if the very presence of religion makes them completely miserable and bitter.

Fortunately for us, many of the arguments they preach and the ‘regular’ atheists regurgitate are childish and lame.

Six Atheist Arguments Christians Can Easily Answer

Christians are a Bunch of Hypocrites.
I’m sorry you think that.

I’m sorry you think occasionally failing to live up to high ethical standards is the root of all evil. I happen to think having no standards at all would naturally be much more evil.

I’m happy for you that you have no convictions that you might not live up to once in a while.

I’m sorry that Christians are the only people who’ve ever let you down.

And I’m sorry that the only Christians you’ve known in your life were on TV.

Do You Know How Many Wars Have Been Fought in the Name of Christianity?
Three? Four? Ten? I know there’s been a few.

How many wars have been fought in the name of everything else?
Oil? Territory? Dominance? Technology? Culture? Economics? Racism?
War predates Christianity by quite a few years. War wasn’t invented for religion’s sake. Religion is abused for war’s sake.

Lots of other stuff besides war was done in the name of Christianity. Like ending slavery, for one. I guess if you’re a wealthy southern plantation owner, I can see how that would piss you off.

Hitler Was a Christian.
Monday I pointed out that Christians sometimes like to look for a cheap shot when debating atheists by saying Hitler was an atheist. Turns out atheists like to do the same. So if Hitler was a Christian, it must mean that all Christians are harboring an extreme hatred for the world.

So if Hitler was a Christian, and therefore all Christians are like Hitler, then…

…all Muslims must be violent terrorists like Bin Laden,
and all Irish must be rampant loudmouths like Bono.

But of course, saying that would make me politically incorrect and a racist…well, maybe that first one.

The Only Thing Christians Do is Indoctrinate Kids.
I love free thinkers. I used to run into them a lot, but then I became employed. Many of them like to paint Christians as brain-washers.

Tell me, if we’re so good at hypnotizing the masses, how did you escape?

I love how hippie New Age parents want their children to decide for themselves what they’ll be without any parental pressure or guidance. So they dress their kids up like punks to show how much they’re fighting the man, as the parents pretend to not be capitalists. Of course that desire fades as soon as their kids show any interest in becoming Republicans, Christians, CEOs of ‘evil’ corporations, or anything else that’s not a hippie New Ager.

Besides, if you’re so against indoctrination, maybe you should tell Christopher Hitchens to stop writing books.

I am a Scientist. I Take Nothing on Faith.
Good. Then quit using ridiculous arguments, Mr. Scientist.

How many things do you believe that you have actually tested using the scientific method? Have you formed a hypothesis that France exists, despite every logical thread in your being telling you such a place could not possibly exist, formulate an experiment to test the existence of France, record your findings, repeat said experiment, and correctly conclude that despite all odds and wishes to the contrary, France does indeed exist.

No you didn’t. You took it on authority that your third grade teacher was not a liar. And you’ve been drinking science-flavored kool-aid your entire life.

I Don’t Need a God to Tell Me to Be Good. I’m Good for It’s Own Sake.
Good. Because if you ever failed at that, you’d be a hypocrite. That would make you the root of all evil.

I haven’t touched all their arguments, and haven’t even done the best job at answering them. Then again, they write books about God not existing, and this blog is a few hundred words I wrote in my spare time.

What are some of the lame arguments you’ve heard? I’m even more interested in hearing what was something that made you doubt Christianity when your faith and knowledge was not so strong?

Do What I Say or Go To Hell!

September 14, 2009

Christians love to argue.

I think we like to argue with each other, just to take a break from arguing with non-Christians.

Christians often times like to try to ‘prove’ Christianity to non-believers. It makes so much sense! Here look at all these amazing reasons Jesus rules! Sometimes we do it out of love, sometimes we get heated and just have to vindicate ourselves.

The problem is, most of the arguments relied on by pastors and used by people are crutches that are super-lame, illogical, and don’t work.

First, you will never convince someone of the truth of Christianity. That’s something only God himself can do. But if you find yourself in an intellectual conversation about the truthiness of the Bible, please don’t say any of these things…

Five Lame Ways to Prove Christianity

The Wager
The wager Christians like to pull out with non-believers is ‘What if Christianity is true and you end up going to hell for not believing?’ Sounds solid enough, because hell is a bad place to go and seems a good motivation for turning to Jesus. Except that most people don’t like to be threatened into doing something. That’s like terrorists making a guy renounce America under threat of beheading. We all know those terrorists are lame.

Besides, basing your beliefs on what amounts to a gamble to avoid hell probably isn’t going to impress God.

God: “So why do you think you should be in heaven?”

Dead Guy: “Well, I thought there was at least a 50/50 shot of me going to hell unless I became a Christian. So it looks like I gambled correctly! Can I have my welcome basket now?”

God: “Release the hounds.”

Everyone believes in God!
Well, not everyone. Atheists for one, Buddhists for another. That’s like least a billion people right there.

Christians like to say that belief in God is in almost everyone’s heart, so to not believe in Him is arrogant and against human nature. But Christians are notorious for fudging the numbers with baptisms and church memberships, so it figures they’d gloss over a billion atheists on the planet.

Besides, this argument goes directly against what your mother said to you when all your friends were doing stupid things, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” Just because a bunch of idiots do this or believe that, it doesn’t make it not stupid.

C.S. Lewis makes a great argument for God’s existence, using this method, but starts with the inherant ethics of the human heart, and then works his way to God. It’s amazing, and I suggest you read Mere Christianity.

You can’t prove God doesn’t exist.
You can’t prove He does exist.

You just fell into the trap the atheist would like to set you in, but it’s a stupid trap for both people. If we’re going on proof based on our five senses, we wouldn’t know anything! I can’t prove the existence of germs, London, or the President based on my five senses!

Just drop this one entirely. It’s lame.

Hitler was an Atheist!
Maybe. Maybe he thought he was God’s agent.

The point of bringing up Hitler, I think is to say that atheists have no morals.

Which isn’t true. Most atheists are lovely people. As I said before, C.S. Lewis says that everyone has morals, and that’s what proves God (eventually).

Atheists just have no reason for their morals. That’s something I’ll never understand. Why should I care about rain forests or Africans or free trade coffee or be a vegan if this life is all there is?

Second, plenty of terrible people have claimed to be Christians. Wouldn’t that disprove Christianity? I don’t think we want to bring up Christianity’s solid history of good deeds to prove anything.

You just need faith!
Are you a child? Do you really think there is no proof for Christ other than suspending your adult intellect and injecting that feel-good drug of praise music and prosperity gospel to help numb the pain of life?

You don’t need to tell someone they need faith. Faith is produced by God working in an unbeliever’s heart apart from their desire to have faith. It will happen whether they want it to or not. Meanwhile, stop with the lame arguments.

What are your best reasons for faith in Christ? What are some of the lamest you’ve heard?

I’ll See You in Court

September 4, 2009

Last month, it was reported that a young woman who graduated college in May was suing her college. She wanted a full refund of the $70,000 she spent in tuition. The reason? She hasn’t yet found a job.

I knew someone of this chump-titude must be special. Turns out I was right…which was a foregone conclusion, really.

First, the lawsuit was filed at the end of July – a full two and a half months after graduation…in a recession with an unemployment rate of 10%. Her mother (who inexplicably lives with her daughter and can’t remain employed beyond a part-time substitute teacher) is quoted as saying, “This isn’t how we want to live our lives…This isn’t what we planned.” Right. So for four years, you didn’t plan on being 70 grand in the hole and maybe having to wait more than six weeks for someone to offer your crybaby-pansy-daughter a job, so you could continue to live off her.

I did a little digging. Turns out our graduate wasn’t exactly a Rhodes scholar. In fact, she finished with with a solid C average. Not bad, but not exactly top of the class. And her degree was in “Information Technology,” which is an extremely common degree.

So I ask two questions. Why was a C student spending $70,000 on college when an identical community college education costs a fraction of that? And the hair puller…

What about the job she’s been working through college?

Is she even working a job? Or were she and her mother just plunging money into a big hole with no plans for the future? And if she wasn’t working, how is it she barely managed average grades? I can’t even tell if the mother is mooching off the daughter, or the other way around!

Well I’m sure with this bullet point on her already sterling resume, the employers are lining up!

People sure like to blame others for screwing up their days, and then making them pay thousands of dollars for it. But in our lawsuit-happy world, I thought of a few people who don’t get sued nearly enough!

Four Groups of People Who Are Asking For It

Teachers
We could seriously cut the middleman in this case by just suing this girl’s teachers. If they had the foresight to tell this girl in third grade that she’d be a huge failure as an adult, she’d have saved herself a lot of trouble and broken dreams. Self esteem is great, but eventually, reality kicks in. Her teachers are responsible for ongoing child abuse through nurturing her delusions of talent and intellect. Teachers are some of the most loving, patient, and nurturing people in the world, and that has to stop, so they’re asking for it.

Scientists
Seriously, every time I have to walk in the rain, I know there’s some eggheads who just know the secret to teleportation. But instead of improving my life, they made the Segway, just to mock us. And now they’re up there in their tower, laughing, rolling in all their Segway money…on their Segways. Well I’d like to take those scientists down a peg. With all their brains, and pocket protectors, they’re asking for it.

Lawyers
What have lawyers done, except ruin our society, and be the perfect butt of countless jokes? If something is wrong with your life, chances are a lawyer came up with the idea. These guys are definately asking for it.

Churches
It’s a really good thing people can’t come back from the afterlife. The church would be swallowed up in lawsuits. Imagine all the people who went through the motions, tithed 2.5%, judged the heathans, didn’t drink, dance or smoke, voted Republican, owned a Bible, listened to the preacher, and had a solid C average church attendance…only to find their dreams of heaven didn’t quite pan out. I know I’d be ticked if my fire insurance didn’t cover me in the event of eternal damnation! A lot of people are giving Jesus their resumes, and he’s giving them the old ‘heave ho’ with the “I never knew ye” line.

Pastors, I don’t know what you can do for your ‘carnal’ Christians, but it seems you get a free pass.

Prosperity preachers, you also get a free pass…for now.

Who else is asking for it? Who is screwing up your life and needs to pay? The neighbor kids? Traffic Lights? Pastry Chefs? All aboard the blame train!

I’ll be observing the hallowed Labor Day holiday, so I’ll see you back on Wednesday!