Car Manufacturers . . .

This is an open letter to all car manufacturers selling cars in the USA.

Because I’ve been binge watching a show on the tubi application of the Playstation Network I’ve been seeing an estimated average of 2 New Car ads every hour of watching my show. IMHO – that by itself is ridiculous – but it gets worse.

Nearly every car ad I’ve seen is touting their vehicles as the most modern, most innovative, or most safe vehicle available. They all make at least one of those claims while tooting their own horn about how advanced the electronics package is.

I have news for you. I will NEVER buy a car that gives a computer control of any functions of the vehicle. I do not want satellite radio, and I was taught to use mirrors, not an onboard camera system, to see what’s happening behind me. If you want to impress me enough to buy a new vehicle you will leave out all of those things, and concentrate on delivering one thing that would actually be of value to the entire planet, especially the ecosystem.

DUMP THE IOCOCA BUSINESS MODEL OF PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE. Build a car that you can confidently put a 25 year bumper-to-bumper warranty on, with NO deductibles, and the only exclusion would be traffic accidents. If the only things I had to pay attention to were fuel, tune-ups, brakes, and tires, and I was confident that the car would last or be replaced without me having to enter a new contract, THAT would be a car I’d be interested in buying.

Oh, one more thing. Do it for under $40k USD – after sales tax where applicable.

Let’s End The War . . .

While I would love to end all wars, we must start somewhere, and I am proposing that we start by ending the war between Gothic Vampire stories and Twilight.

I’m 59 years old. I grew up enjoying the gothic horror stories by Bram Stokker. If you are willing to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy them, their version of why a vampire avoids sunlight is plausible. However, with the same amount of effort to suspend disbelief, there is one other thing that is true.

SO IS THE EXPLANATION OF VAMPIRE BEHAVIOR DESCRIBED BY Stephenie Meyer!

Bram Stokker suggested that vampires avoid sunlight because they will be killed by it. It burns their flesh, and doesn’t stop until they are consumed to ash. That idea continued to prevail even into the recent video games such as BloodRayne, which was made into a movie franchise by Uwe Boll. Stephenie Meyer suggested that fire still consumes a vampire to ash, but that they avoid being seen in sunlight because it would instantly reveal the physical difference between a human and a vampire.

That isn’t a great reach. Either suggestion is as plausible as the other. Stokker wrote his during a time when Christianity ruled most of the civilized world, and sunlight represented purity. Meyer wrote her stories much later, during a time when many conventions of society were being called into question, including the traditions of Christianity being questioned by people who follow them.

Both authors wrote fiction. Why should any fan of vampire fiction accept one version more than another? IMHO, they should not. If we can agree that they are both fiction, their fantasy ideas should not be seen as if they are opposed to each other. If we embrace them both, that is one less division between US/Them in our society.

Another difficult call . . .

but this one wasn’t a phone call. It was a decision about a letter. I wrote the letter to my dad, and wrestled with it for a week. The decision was about the temptation to post a copy of it here. This morning I concluded that it should not be shared, because I couldn’t find any way that it’s personal and family information would actually help anyone else.

Except for one thing that isn’t personal or family information. It’s about a problem in our world that affects everyone in some way or other. So, I’m going to write this as an opinion piece to the whole world.

There is a misunderstanding that is one of the most fundamental we face. The differences between an opinion, a fact, and faith.

At the most basic, most people think they know what each of these 3 things is. However, when it comes to applying that knowledge, the meanings get blurred.

We accept that one person may not like our favorite sports team, or prefer one city over another, or prefer tea over coffee. Everyone knows that those are matters of opinion, and we generally respect those opinions.

We also know that a fact is something that is able to be tested, and proved, over and over by anyone trained to examine it. A fact is that riding a motorcycle without a helmet at low speeds is more risky than using the helmet. It is also a fact that the helmet probably won’t save your life in an accident at highway speeds, because the helmet can’t protect your neck.

But our real problem on this planet is the number of people who mistake faith for facts. The only difference between faith and an opinion is the religious nature of faith. Faith is an expressed belief in something that can’t be proved – thus it is an opinion on religion. Missing that one thing is why so much strife exists in our world anytime religions clash.

Please, people, learn to treat your own faith, and the faith of anyone who disagrees with it, as an opinion. Religious zeal has already caused too many wars, ruined families, and hatred among us. It is arguably, historically speaking, the #1 cause of preventable death globally.

Love really is the answer.

Saturday Posts . . .

Today I’m going to share something different.  It’s about a movie . . . you can consider it a movie review if you like.

My wife and I started using Netflix just shortly after it launched in the St. Louis area – a very long time ago, it seems.  In all of that time, to the best of my knowledge, the rating system has always had 5 stars as the highest rating.  To me – and this is my own evaluation – 5 stars would be a rating of “perfect, nothing to improve”.  I’ve almost never given such a rating, because we humans very rarely approach perfection at anything we make.  To narrow my criteria even further – most of the Netflix listings that I have rated at 5 stars were either a documentary or a drama that was based on real-life events.

So, imagine my surprise at recently rating a comic-book movie with 5 stars.  Yes, every review I’ve seen for the movie said it was awesome, but with my view that still only gets 4 stars.

What movie could have nabbed such a rare feat?   WONDER WOMAN

The Elf on the Shelf

I just read an article on Yahoo News about this phenomenon that started in 2008 with a mom-and-daughter self-published book, titled “The Elf on the Shelf”.  The book is all about how Santa is too busy to watch everyone on his own, so he sends elves out to watch kids and report back on whether they are naughty or nice.  The book even helpfully comes with a little plushy elf that you (as the parent) are supposed to put on shelves, counters, and other areas (move him around to keep the kids convinced that he actually does report back to Santa every night).

There are two GLARING problems, in my humble opinion (IMHO).  The first is that parents spend their children’s entire lives trying to teach the kids to tell the truth – be honest – and the example you’re going to set is to lie to their faces about this Elf?  Brilliant strategy – no wonder kids grow up distrusting their elders and rejecting everything they were ever taught.

The second is a bit more subtle – surveillance.  With all the information in the news today about the privacy abuses of the NSA, and similar governmental organizations around the globe, do you really want your kids to get comfortable with the idea of being spied on by anyone?  That is what the Elf on the Shelf is doing – telling kids that it’s a good thing to be spied upon.

I think the smart money would be on telling kids the truth about Santa and Christmas (which isn’t a Christian holiday – it’s origins are more than a thousand years older than Christianity) – and saying “NO” to the Elf.

If you already have an Elf in your home – stage a “meltdown” in front of your kids and tell off the Elf.  Denounce his spying and general invasions of privacy, and kick him out.