If the American horse was born in Germany, who gets the medal and for what country? It’s as stupid as rooting for a team in the Superbowl.
I tweeted this without justifying my logic as I often do. This tweet was in reference to the Equestrian Olympic events that I was watching. The particular event had a German born horse running a course for the American team with an American rider. My question was basically, if the horse wins, should the medal go to Germany? After all, nobody asked the horse if it wanted to ride for the American team. I was making a statement that was diminishing the contributions of the rider. The second part of my tweet was in reference to the NFL. More on that in a bit. I will now explain my logic. First, lets define the Olympics. Without doing a Google search or looking up the Olympics on Wikipedia, what is a simple definition of the Olympics? Perhaps the best way to define it would be to call it “An international competition of physical strength and skill.”
When you think about the Olympics, you think of athletes competing. Swimmers, runners, skiers, skaters, jumpers, throwers, etc. Typically, an Olympic event requires a great deal of physical effort and discipline. However, lets think about an Olympic sport that doesn’t involve an intense race to a finish line. Archery for example. It appears to be a rather passive sport compared to swimming or running, yet it still requires a great deal of strength, skill, and practice. Curling is sport that seems comical compared to ice skating, yet there is still a great deal of strength and skill involved. Are all Olympic events equal? No. But 99% of Olympic events require some amount of human physical strength and skill. Equestrian events don’t.
I’m not saying that it doesn’t take skill to ride a horse. I’m saying that riding a horse doesn’t require physical strength and skill warranting Olympic competition. Not only that, but a horse could be trained to run an Olympic course without a rider. Don’t believe me? Watch a dog show where the dog runs an obstacle course. Does the dog have a little monkey jockey on its back? No, the dog has a handler/owner that guides the dog through the course. The dog owner/handler is actually running the length of the course with the dog… a far greater test of strength and skill than just riding atop a horse. So am I saying that the Olympics should include a dog show? No, but it would make as much sense as including Equestrian events in the Olympics. However, if the medal was awarded to the horse, and if the horse even cared, then I would say include equestrian events. After all, the Olympics are an international competition. An athlete’s allegiance to a country (typically the country of their birth and/or current citizenship) determines which country is awarded the Olympic medal. Horses aren’t people, they’re property. Since the German born horse is being ridden by an American, the medal would go to the United States even though the horse did all of the hard work. But if you’re going to allow horses to compete in the Olympics, then they get to compete in all the events. Not only that, but so does any animal. When cheetahs start winning races and gorillas start winning wrestling matches the Olympics will be interesting enough to hold my attention.
Now the second part of my tweet in regards to the NFL. First, let’s explore sports fandom. An individual athlete has invested themselves in their sport. Winning and losing is part of their athletic career. Athlete’s often represent teams, schools, states, countries, etc. To an athlete, these allegiances may be extremely significant. Some athletes play for pride, some play to represent the best of their school, state, etc. and some play for money as part of their career. Regardless of the motivation, the reasons for an athlete to compete are important to them. Should they be important to you? Perhaps. Perhaps an athlete is from your hometown and you want to express pride in your origins. Perhaps an athlete represents your school, and school pride is important to you. Perhaps an athlete represents your state and you feel pride in your state. Should you? Sometimes rooting for an athlete or a team based solely on location is a bit too arbitrary. The average Olympic fan roots for their country because they have no personal investment in the sports or the athletes and they simply want to express pride in their country. Ok. Typically an Olympic athlete is from the country that they represent, so on a very superficial level it makes sense to express national pride by rooting for your country. What about the NFL? Each team usually represents an American city or state. But take a look at the team rosters, the coaches, the owners. There are NFL teams out there that don’t have one native of the state that they are representing. I looked up the rosters of a few random teams and found that on average, 90% of the players were from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas. So if you’re a fan of a specific player, or a coach, or an owner, then I get it. But if your a fan of a team because they represent the state that you are from, then you’ve made an arbitrary decision to be devoted to a random organization. Basically, you’re rooting for money. I understand if a specific player inspires you. But did you learn about this player because they joined your local team? To put it differently, if the United States Olympic team was comprised of 90% Afganistan athletes that were paid to become US citizens, would you still root for the United States Olympic team? Would Afghanistan root for the United States Olympic team? Blind devotion based on proximity is like rooting for a German horse because there is an American sitting on top of it.
The Problem with Pizza (The Marxmith Conspiracy). It’s happened again, so I have to repost my opinion on Pizza.
It’s a busy day, so busy that in order to keep everybody at their desks they’ve ordered Pizza for the entire office. This is the most illogical idea on the planet. The ideal logic is thus – Provide a universally beloved food, free to everybody, to keep people at their desks working happily through lunch (sounds like a great idea). The problem is that pizza has this great reputation, but everybody secretly hates pizza and they just don’t realize it. I’d like to say that I love pizza, but I probably hate pizza. Or to be more precise, I love MY Pizza and I hate YOUR pizza. Also, I’m not writing this to sound like an ungrateful jerk. I’m just making my usual argument about Pizza that apparently nobody has bothered to take to heart.
As I mentioned, it happened again. The office ordered pizza for all. I walked into the room with the pizzas with the same feeling that I have when I would go to a Michael Bay or Tim Burton movie. I think to myself, “I need to keep my expectations low. The trailer looked interesting, but it’s Michael Bay. I haven’t like a Michael Bay or Tim Burton movie in about 15 years. It’s time to give up.” Tim Burton made two good movies (Batman and Edward Scissorhands), Michael Bay made one (The Rock). These closed pizza boxes are the culmination of disappointment.
Box 1: Cheese. This is the laziest, blandest thing on the planet. It’s basically saying, “I’m just as fattening as all the other pizzas, but I taste like a big pile of greasy bread.” The thought process behind ordering the cheese pizza is, “Let’s get something for the picky eaters.” At the end of the day what is going to be leftover? A big desperate cheese pizza that is the human equivalent of dog food. Nobody wants it, but everybody is hungry and it is technically food. You’ll eat it, but it gives you the same amount of satisfaction as a breakfast shake or a protein bar. Verdict, bland circle of boring.
Box 2. Everything. This is just as lazy of an order as the cheese pizza, but on the other end of the spectrum. The logic? “Lets get something for the people who will eat anything.” I’m not the, “everything” pizza guy, so I can’t really see the appeal of this. To me it looks like there’s too much going on there. It looks like vomit. As if all of the meals of the day were puked onto a crust. Pizza already has a lot going on with one or two toppings. When it’s an everything pizza, it might as well just be a quiche, or some sort of eating challenge. Also, whenever I see the “I’ll eat anything guy” walk up to the table of pizzas, he always takes one slice of the everything pizza, and three slices of a pepperoni pizza. Verdict, people who eat “everything” are too dumb or lazy to actually appreciate a meal. They’re like the Pakleds on Star Trek… They look for things, things to make them go.
Box 3. Vegetarian. Nobody eats this. Someone ordered it because they assumed that someone was a vegetarian. Here’s a hint, if there is a vegetarian in your midst, they’ve already planned their lunch because they’re so anal about being a vegetarian. At the end of the day there is going to be a giant uneaten vegetarian pizza in the fridge. Verdict, it’s a vegetarian pizza… for decoration only.
Box 4. Someones’ personal preference. I don’t know what this thing is. It’s got giant raw tomatoes on it. Some red stuff that might be minced peppers or possibly Legos (If your going to make peppers an option, they still need to be recognizable as peppers. It’s not necessary to atomize a bell pepper). I think there might be a layer of olives underneath the cheese. It just looks too damn mysterious as if someone’s subconscious were to manifest itself in a physical form. This pizza is always the favorite of whomever placed the order. End of the day, it goes home with them. Verdict, this wasn’t really meant for anybody in the office, it just happened to occupy the same room as the rest of the pizzas.
Box 5. Pepperoni. This box didn’t exist. However, it could have replaced boxes 1 through 4 and everybody would have been happy and satisfied.
Pizza has the ability to be the most disappointing food you can consume. When the perfect food ends up tasting not so perfect, then it has failed to meet its exceedingly high expectations as a universal favorite. There are many reasons for this, some of which include: toppings (both in variety and quality), crust (quality, and thickness), and preparation (oven type, deep dish, hand tossed, etc.). However, the biggest variable to the enjoyment of pizza is of course personal preference. Typically for me, any decent pepperoni pizza will do (sounds too simple to screw up, right?). Some might say what is pizza? Can you really put Little Caesars into the same category as California Pizza Kitchen, or perhaps some other gourmet pizza place? The term “pizza” has such a breadth that it can be applied to wildly different meals. Permit me to elaborate. I love the taste of a crust topped with a tangy tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. However, a crust topped with alfredo sauce, cheese, and broccoli could be described as pizza as well (not my preference, but I’ve seen people eat it). On occasion, I might like like spicy Thai chicken in lieu of pepperoni and barbecue sauce in lieu of tomato sauce. Sometimes I like the addition of bell peppers. So, what am I saying? I love Pizza, right? No, I love MY pizza. But what is a pizza? It’s a communal food.
Have you ever watched pets become suddenly territorial when it comes time to feed them? Two dogs who normally get along will snap and growl at each other when food is available.
The same instinct occurs in people, although it is usually suppressed in society. The reason that it is suppressed is because we all were raised watching Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street and told that sharing was what a good person does. You see? There is Sesame Street purging the instinctual animal from youngsters minds and instilling them with a sense of empathy. That’s all well and good if we want a society and would prefer not to live in Thunderdome. Nevertheless, our genetics are undeniable. That sense of territoriality still resides within us. So I say again, what is Pizza? Pizza is the ultimate conflict between civilization and anarchy.
Hypothetical scenario 1: You have a group of friends over to your house. You offer to purchase a pizza. There is no concrete consensus on the toppings, so you order something that should have broad appeal, most commonly a pepperoni pizza. This action provides no ultimate satisfaction. You, as the buyer of the pizza feel empathy for those who did not get what they wanted and simultaneously feel anger for their lack of gratitude. The friends who wanted pepperoni are instinctively disappointed because their animal instincts want to claim their favorite topping for themselves. The people who didn’t want pepperoni are conflicted because they are grateful for the free food, but in a world where choice exists, they could have had exactly what they wanted if only more people preferred their topping of choice. Scenario 1 results in mutual disappointment for everybody.
Hypothetical scenario 2: You have a group of friends over to your house. You offer to purchase several pizzas in an effort to satisfy everybody. A variety of pizzas are ordered. A meat lovers, pepperoni, veggie, the works, mushroom, and one with a bunch of crazy ass toppings that would not ordinarily appeal to anybody. What happens? Once again, in a world of choice, the people who enjoy variety consume slices not only from the works pizza, but from all of the other pizzas as well, the vegetarian person satiates their meager appetite with a single slice of the veggie pizza. The dude who actually only wants pepperoni is screwed because his preference is the lowest common denominator of pizzas. Everybody has a slice of the pepperoni, leaving him with 1 or two slices and no possibility of leftover pizza the next morning. When all is said and done, there are a bunch of veggie pizzas left that nobody wants, and those who are still hungry have to resort to picking off the toppings that they hate and then apprehensively biting into a cold slice that undoubtedly hides the foreign texture of a hunk of broccoli or a cold stringy onion. Meanwhile, the purchaser of the pizzas notes how wasteful it was to have paid for multiple pizzas when the veggie pizzas have gone relatively untouched. The only people who come out ahead are the human garbage disposals who would have been satisfied with a brick of cheese and rice. Unfortunately, they typically are not the type to feel empathy.
Now these are just two simple straightforward examples of group pizza consumption that are rife with conflict and dissatisfaction. Factor in the different vendors of pizza, pizza size, crust texture and thickness, and all other variables and you have no multilateral dining option.
The only perfect solution is that each and every person purchases their own pizza(s) and sharing is only permitted when offered by the purchasing party. But is that what Pizza stands for? No. Modern pizza represents the fading ideals of America the great melting pot, where nobody is a hyphenated American, everybody is simply American. We live in an age of individuality. A round disk of variety will no longer satisfy everybody at the table. We know that there is something out there that will satisfy our tastes precisely, and we are damned if we don’t get exactly what we want.
The office pizza scenario that occurred today has happened so many times despite my regular protests that I’m convinced that it is now a personal conspiracy against me. Personally, I am of the opinion that if I was banished to a world where the only pizza that existed was pepperoni, I’d be satisfied. I now believe that people intentionally do this around me to anger me because it has happened so often. Pepperoni seems to be everybody’s favorite, just buy a pile of nothing but pepperoni pizzas, eliminate choice, and watch how humans, in a world of no options, happily consume pepperoni.
I carry a phone, an iPad, and an iTouch from time to time. I don’t like to carry them loosely in a bag because of the possibility of scratches, dust, moisture, etc. Also, I like having everything in a compact protected case. There wasn’t anything available that held the devices I carry, so I designed one specifically for my needs. I based the design on a box that came with a James Bond camera that I purchased in 2004. The opposite ends of the case expand and collapse on top of themselves (see video demonstration). It’s made from foam-core, foam matting, and adhesive paper. It’s extremely light and sturdy. You can throw it in a backpack and not worry about anything getting banged up because everything fits in to a padded compartment.