religion & philosophy

Warning: Spirituality can be hazardous to your health & wealth

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Ah, the enlightened life! A life where the superficial trappings of the material world have lost their luster. Where greasy, fried, and fatty foods are no longer tempting. Where meditation, sharing, and an appreciation of the beauty of nature provide all the fulfillment one needs for true happiness. And yet, considering how healthy, content, and self-fulfilled spiritual people claim to be, why are they plagued with so many health, wealth, and happiness issues? Is poverty a requirement of enlightenment? Is self-indulgence selfish? Is self-love a sign of an inflated ego? The irony is that most spiritual people are just as egotistical as materialistic people—perhaps even more so since they believe themselves to be so far above everyone else. Sacrifice and ascetic behavior do not make one spiritual. Denying the material for the sake of the spirit misses the big picture. To be truly fulfilled, one needs to embrace both of these worlds, creating more than a holy life, but a wholly life. [Read more →]

getting olderThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that age is not “just a number”

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I have been declared Emperor of the World. Let us not waste time explaining why or how; let’s all simply accept the fact that we are better off, as a result; hence, my next decree:

Emperor’s Decree No. 70: Age simply is not “just a number.” Age is, after, say, twenty-one, the irreversible decline of the mind and body, the ultimate result of which is, in the best of all possible situations, an uncomplicated and peaceful death. But age is, most often, a slow ride on a dirty bus, with sticky floors, among a bunch of stinking strangers to soap, at the end of which we find ourselves befuddled, boxed off from the things and people we love through the loss of vision and hearing and terrified (if we are blessed with the mental capacity to be terrified) by the question of whether our beliefs in an afterlife will prove to have been even remotely true. Age is the arduous road to either oblivion or paradise, but it is not just a number. Age is a walking journey, each step pf which leaves us weaker, more filled with existential anxiety, and looking — if I am being honest — less and less attractive at the waypoint of each birthday. Age is a journey from which there is no return. Age is the turning of the padlock on a cage that will be dropped into an ocean. Age is doom, in the most Anglo-Saxon sense of the word.

Oh, please.  I’m doing you a favor. You can’t rage against “a number. “

The Punishment: Users of the phrase are doomed to learn the truth. This is punishment enough.

Now, go forth and obey.

The Emperor will grace the world with a new decree each Tuesday morning(ish).

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Fans should not be part of the show

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I constantly realize that I am not the typical sports fan. There are just so many things I see and hear fans do that I just wouldn’t do. I have had seats at a baseball game that were right up against the fence that separates the stands from the field, and yet I have never felt the need to interfere with a player in any way at all, whether that be physical interference of any kind of even verbal interference. There were a couple of interesting examples of those things happening this week, though. I was not involved, of course. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingreligion & philosophy

Top ten ways the new hip progressive Pope Francis is celebrating Easter Sunday

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10. Instead of blessing everyone from his balcony, he’s doing his monologue from ground level, like Leno.

9. He’s inviting Benedict XVI over for an afternoon showing of Philomena.

8. He’s holding an Easter Egg Roll – not that kind – he’s just calling his local Chinese to order 3,000 egg rolls!

7. He’s starting his own Easter papal ‘white smoke’ tradition (wink wink), followed by a Council of the Cardinals discussion of how current Theological thinking fits in with today’s debate between String Theory and Loop Quantum Gravity.
[Read more →]

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

The new SAT: No more mandatory writing

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Part 8 (of 874) in an occasional series about how standardized tests are destroying education.

The redesigned SAT, debuting in 2015, will feature new approaches to language skills, and the writing test will be optional. We’ll return to the old 1600-point scale that we all knew so well. With the College Board admitting/recognizing that the writing test, which was introduced in 2005, is flawed, some are wondering if this presents an opportunity to reassess all mechanized writing tests, to now see them all for the education-draining entities that they are. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Daniel Murphy has the nerve to use his paternity leave

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Being a parent is one of the central roles in most peoples lives. Whether you are a professional athlete, an accountant, or a cashier, there is a better than fair chance that you will become a parent at some point. For regular people, it is a natural thing to take a few days off when a child is born. For people who get paid large sums of money to play games, though, the same act often leads to a great deal of consternation among fans and the media. This week, Daniel Murphy, the second baseman for the New York Mets, left the team for a couple of days to be with his wife as she gave birth to their baby. Some people were not pleased.

[Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingreligion & philosophy

Top ten lines from a joke you have until April 20 to memorize, so you can recite it at Easter Dinner

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10. Tom, Dick, and Harry are in a VW when they have a head-on collision with a Mack truck.

9. Suddenly, they find themselves walking across these white billowy clouds towards there pearly gates.

8. As they start running towards the gates, St. Peter swoops in and says, “Wait a second, you can’t just come buzzing in here like you own the place!…”
[Read more →]

art & entertainmentbooks & writing

Book Review: Retroworld (plus, why I hate Star Trek)

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I’ve never been much of a Star Trek fan. It’s not because I don’t like Science Fiction-Star Wars and alien invasion B-movies were a big part of my childhood, I grew up reading the British comic 2000AD, and I wrote my thesis on Philip K. Dick before it was fashionable to do such things. No, I hate Star Trek because it’s so utterly dishonest about human nature and the universe we live in.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is especially egregious. It’s essentially a soap opera about UN diplomats in space, only instead of standing by impotently while alien races are massacred by enemy species, or dispatching squads of blue space-helmeted peacekeepers on alien rape missions, the dull inhabitants of the Starship Enterprise  [Read more →]

books & writingThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that tripping and falling can no longer be used to enhance a story’s plot

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I have been declared Emperor of the World. Let us not waste time explaining why or how; let’s all simply accept the fact that we are better off, as a result; hence, my next decree:

Emperor’s Decree 4815162342: We’ll have no more of it. Figure something else out. Life’s suspense and life’s problems come from myriad places. Tripping and twisting one’s ankle is not the only way find oneself in danger. It is not the only way for the pursuing ax-murderer to gain ground. Mine the depths, writers.  Oh, and while we are at it, no more using “cuts like knife” and “what is this place?” How about “cuts like a father’s disappointment” or a simple but much more effective: “where the hell are we?” We can’t take it anymore. It will cease, or there will be no more writing. You hear us? Don’t ruin it for the rest of the minions.

The Punishment: Anyone guilty of these writing infractions will be placed on a treadmill and forced to run at 7 miles per hour. The Imperial Exercise Minister will sit with a remote control and he will press the DEAD STOP button, again and again, while the offender is running at speed.  When the runner can no longer calculate simple addition  problems, he or she will be released.

Now, go forth and obey.

The Emperor will grace the world with a new decree each Tuesday morning, unless he decides not to, because, after all, he is the Emperor and can do whatever he wants.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Why, 76ers, why?

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Every once in a while, a sports fan is faced with a strange dilemma. It sometimes becomes evident that it would be much more beneficial for a team to lose than to win. This is because of the nature of the draft, particularly in football and basketball. Sure, baseball and hockey have drafts too, and the draft orders for those sports are determined in such a way that the worst teams get the earlier picks, just like in football and basketball, but because baseball and hockey have robust minor league systems, players in those sports generally take a lot longer to get to the major league level and picks are far more speculative in nature. If you root for a bad team, you often realize that late-season wins may actually be hurting the cause of making the team better. In the spirit of that philosophy, this week’s big Bad Sports story to me was the Philadelphia 76ers’ win over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingreligion & philosophy

Top ten people going to hell

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10. People who say, “No offence, but…” and then keep on talking.

9. Telemarketers/robocallers.

8. People who prove every day that there really is such a thing as a dumb question.

7. Any dentist who tries to carry on a conversation while your mouth is chockfull of Novocain and metal torture instruments.
[Read more →]

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

A new, redesigned SAT is on the way

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Part 7 (of 874) in an occasional series about how standardized tests are destroying education.

The SAT is going through a redesign. For those of you who mentally autofilled the start of the previous statement with “The SAT is going … away,” I’m sorry to disappoint you. It’s not going away. It’s going through changes that will do/attempt to do a variety of things. But the SAT will still be around. There’s been an active dialogue, as you might expect, about this redesign.

[Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: March Madness is in full swing again

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Five years and one week ago, I wrote my first column for When Falls the Coliseum. I was going to make note of this in last week’s post, but it seemed more appropriate to call it out this week, as I knew it was likely that I would be writing about the same thing I wrote about back on March 16, 2009, and that is March Madness. The NCAA Basketball Tournament started this week, and the opening weekend provided lots of Good Sports moments. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten “Did you know…?”s

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10. Did you know that the bigger they are, the harder they’re going to hit you?

9. Did you know that the reason all nurses carry red pens is so that they can draw blood?

8. Did you know that there’s no use beating a dead horse – unless you’re into that kinda thing?
[Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Colts owner Irsay sets a very bad example

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It is a shame, but we are used to professional athletes behaving badly. Heck, I wouldn’t be able to write this column if there weren’t a world full of these people doing stupid, bad things on a very regular basis. Occasionally, it’s not the players but the coaches that are committing these acts of idiocy. Every once in a while, though, it goes higher up the ladder than that. On Sunday night, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested for driving while intoxicated in a suburb of Indianapolis where he lives. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingrace & culture

Top ten Irish euphemisms for having sex

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10. Shagging

9. Knocking Knickers

8. Licking the Leprechaun

7. Drowning the Shillelagh
[Read more →]

language & grammarThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that “Ban Bossy” is banned

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I have been declared Emperor of the World. Let us not waste time explaining why or how; let’s all simply accept the fact that we are better off, as a result; hence, my next decree:

Emperor’s Decree No. 449505: I don’t know who these people are who think they can go around banning things behind the Emperor’s back, but it must stop; therefore, the Emperor decrees that Ban Bossy shall be banned. Don’t get us wrong. This particular “ban” is voluntary. And it is for a good cause…this teaching girls to be leaders through a campaign that attempts to control language. Good idea — controlling language is a great source of power. (Someone ought to write a dystopian novel about that.) I trust these people, thoroughly. They have our young women’s best interests in mind; these ban-ers of words are like big sisters, in fact. This is so much different than “thought control” because it is good. The Emperor well knows that the intention justifies the means. But — it is, in fact, our Empire. No one shall ban thoughts or words but the Emperor.

The Punishment: Those who ban words without the Emperor’s leave shall be detained in the hot desert sun. They shall be instructed to ban the words “water,” “thirsty,” “drink” and and anyother words relating to the wetting of the proverbial whistle. Otherwise, they are completely free to ask for the crystal-cold liquid which will sit before them on a table, freshly stirred, with ice cubes swirling around, beads of cool moisture dripping languidly down its sides… They need only ask — provided they can ask within the language constraints given them.

Now, go forth and obey. 

The Emperor will grace the world with a new decree each Tuesday morning (or so).

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: State hockey final ends in a tie and everyone loses

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I keep reading that this is a “trophy for everybody” world now. The lack of trophies on my desk make me think that this is just hyperbole, although it could just be that I have not competed in anything that would earn me one of these trophies just for being there. On second thought, I have several medals I received for finishing somewhere in the thousands in a bunch of races, so I guess I agree with the original premise. Still, when you get into organized sports beyond the type that anyone can just join because he or she feels like it, there is usually a distinct winner at the end, and that is as it should be. Occasionally, there are examples to the contrary, and this is where the supposed fun begins. Fun for columnists, not for players, of course. The state of Ohio held its high school hockey championships last week, and when the ice dust cleared, no one won. Or everyone won. It’s hard to tell. [Read more →]

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Lego laggards

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You can do what you want for therapeutic relaxation. I’ll sort Legos. This is fortunate for me, because I have about 20,000 loose Legos in my house. I should say had, because I’m down to about 2,000, as I have, yet again, methodically gone through my boys’ gigantic plastic bin and sorted their Legos by color into gallon-sized Ziploc bags. Those guys are going, yet again, to rebuild their 70+ Lego sets – whether they like it or not. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingrecipes & food

Top ten other names considered for Shmeat, the world’s first meat grown in a test tube

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10. Shamburgers

9. Peking Yuck

8. Barbecue Fibs
[Read more →]