Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive are two of the most perversely entertaining shows on television. Both feature efforts to help people who’ve crammed their homes with so much trash, animals, or gaudy treasures that it’s almost impossible to move. Most of the time, they have trouble using the bathroom and have to cook in tiny, dangerous spaces. They often end up sleeping on garbage. Some of these people even end up crapping in buckets and sharing their crumbling houses with lizards and rats because there is just so much junk in the way that they don’t feel like they have any other choice.
It’s easy to feel superior to someone so damaged that he’d live in a cluttered pile of filth that most of us wouldn’t let our dogs wander into, but there are actually some deep insights into human behavior that you can pick up from watching the shows, even if your house doesn’t look like it was picked up by a tornado and dropped into the city dump.
1) We can become accustomed to even the worst of problems instead of fixing them.
Many of the hoarders you see on those shows have gotten used to living in homes where they hear rats rustling around at night or where it smells so bad that first-time visitors struggle not to vomit. That’s possible not just because we humans are very adaptable creatures with a talent for lying to ourselves, but because we take many of our cues about what’s acceptable from the people around us. Since hoarders are ashamed of the mess they live in, they tend to isolate themselves from other people who might note that they shouldn’t eat food with mold on it or just start peeing in a jug every day instead of getting the toilet fixed. Give it a few years for things to deteriorate and next thing you know, it makes sense to a hoarder that they slept on a four year old bag of doughnuts last night.
Human beings, by their very nature, are all vulnerable to this same process. So, it’s worth asking yourself, “Have I let my standards slide and told myself there’s no other choice? Is there anything I’m doing that I’m so ashamed of that I have to hide it from people? Have I accepted something in my life as ‘just the way it is’ when I should be doing the hard work it takes to make my life better?”
Tony Robbins has noted, “The only way for us to have long-term happiness is to live by our highest ideals.“ Whether it’s hoarding or some other problem, ultimately our happiness will depend on tackling it rather than learning to live with a self-imposed limitation.
Ever heard those “I had to walk five miles to school in the snow, uphill, both ways” stories from your parents? I have, too. Of course, my father’s stories were real. He grew up poor. Very poor. I’m talking soda and peanut butter were considered luxuries poor. Like wearing clothes with holes in them that two of his brothers had already grown out of poor. Like putting feathers in a corncob and tossing it in the air so he had something to play with because his parents couldn’t afford to buy him any toys poor.
Happily, since he was born in America, being born poor didn’t mean that he had to stay poor. He started at the bottom with a company (manually punching holes in carpet), moved on from there to become one of his company’s best salesmen, and actually made it to vice president of the rug division near the end of his career. In addition, he served in the military, had four kids, and played his way into the North Carolina Softball Hall Of Fame.
Happily, because of my father’s work ethic and determination that his kids were going to have it better than him, I didn’t have to grow up with the kind of grinding poverty that he did. Yet and still, I remember a conversation he had with me when I was young and he was still working his way up the ladder. He told me that at his income level, I qualified for the free lunch program at school. He asked what I thought about that. My response was, “I’d rather just not eat lunch.” Even then, I could tell he was pleased with that answer and we never applied for any kind of free goodies at school. As I got older my father started climbing the corporate ladder and money ceased to be a big problem, although he remained very frugal.
Then, as I flew the nest and went out on my own, I got to experience my own struggles with money. I rolled pennies for grocery money and went whole weeks on nothing but baked potatoes along with 3-for-a-dollar burritos and pot pies. I drove around in a car with bad brakes that would overheat if I didn’t drive fast enough to cool the engine because I couldn’t afford to repair it. I once had to borrow gas money to take a date out to dinner at a cheap restaurant. I had checks bounce because I had no float money and was regularly dipping below the $5 line to pay bills. I took day laborer positions at temp agencies and had to do things like lay sod to make ends meet. When I was out of town, I once slept in an elevator all night because I was too proud to crash with friends without paying. At one point, I kid you not, I seriously considered living in my car for a couple of months to save up some money.
So I do know what it’s like to be poor, and while I can’t recommend the experience, I can tell you that it is not all bad. There are actually some benefits to it. For example…
1) Once things have been really bad, you’re not as frightened of tough times and risks.
When you run your own business you have to make big decisions that can make or break you, cash flow can pick up and slow down, and sometimes you have to make choices today that will reverberate for years to come. In other words, it requires a high level of risk tolerance. Even if you don’t run your own business, you have to worry about getting fired or getting hit with big bills that put you in a really tight spot.
Well, the nice thing about having been so poor that you’ve had to sleep in your car multiple times (yes, really) is that you already KNOW that if worse comes to worse financially, you can handle it. That means when the storm blows in, the lightning flashes, and the tide gets high, you KNOW that you can swim even if you get swept off the boat because you have done it before.
1) An elevation of victimhood
In a weird reversal of how the world has worked since man was raised up out of the dust, it has become good to be a victim in America. In fact, many of the people held up as “victims” in our country are loving every second of their “victimhood.”
The best recent example of that phenomenon is Sandra Fluke. Here’s an unaccomplished 30-year-old student who went to Congress and demanded that other people be forced to pay thousands of dollars a year to subsidize her birth control. It’s like the set-up of a stand-up comedian’s joke, except that when people responded with the natural punch lines that featured lots of “She’s a slut” jokes, Sandra Fluke was treated like a victim. Next thing you know, she’s on TV, she’s treated like a heroine, and she gets a speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention. For a fifth-rate mediocrity like Sandra Fluke, her supposed “victimhood” was the best thing that ever happened to her.
Then there’s bus monitor Karen Klein. People felt sorry for the nice old lady who was bullied by kids on a bus — so much so that they chipped in more than a half million dollars to help her out. However, this was an adult whose job was to keep kids from being bullied. How many kids on that bus must have been abused because she was so completely unsuited to the job she willingly chose to take on? At the end of the day, she wasn’t a “victim” in any meaningful sense; she was just a failure at her job.
Does treating people like this as heroes strike anyone as healthy or good for the country? At best, victims should be pitied, not celebrated or rewarded.
“There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs.” — Thomas Sowell
1) They may believe that learning about something is the same as doing it.
When you’ve gone to school for years, read hundreds of books, and talked to “experts” about a subject, there’s a tendency to believe that you can learn everything you possibly need to know about something without ever doing it. Unfortunately, there are some things in life you can just never understand without personally experiencing them, as this quote from Good Will Hunting explains.
Sean: So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You’re a tough kid. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, “once more unto the breach dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you…. I don’t see an intelligent, confident man…. I see a cocky, scared sh*tless kid. But you’re a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my f*cking life apart. You’re an orphan right?… You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally… I don’t give a sh*t about all that, because you know what, I can’t learn anything from you, I can’t read in some f*ckin’ book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don’t want to do that do you sport? You’re terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.
Additionally, as Thomas Sowell has noted, “experience trumps brilliance.” If you had a restaurant, whom would you rather have running it for the next year? A seasoned veteran of a restaurant business with a decade of experience and an average IQ or Nikola Tesla, one of the most brilliant scientists who ever lived? Keep in mind that Tesla used to falsely claim that he had created a death ray, never married because he thought great inventors should remain celibate, and spent the last decade of his life obsessing over pigeons. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Remember the final refrain of the classic Queen song “Who Wants To Live Forever?”
Who wants to live forever?
Who wants to live forever?
Forever is our today
Who has forever anyway…
If you’re like most people, you probably answered that in your head with “ME! I want to live forever!” It does sound appealing, doesn’t it? The idea that you would never die as long as you kept your head was what really captured people’s imagination about Highlander. The same goes for vampires. The big difference between vampires and other much more boring supernatural creatures like goblins, ghouls, ogres, and pixies is that they can live for thousands of years…. like God. Just imagine what you could do, learn, and become if you had thousands of years to do it! Unfortunately, there may be a few downsides people haven’t considered…
1) Sometimes, death is a mercy.
We get this when it comes to animals. When a pet’s whole life becomes misery, we put it down. Even though we don’t do the same with other humans because of political and cultural reasons, we understand it. But, if you were immortal and healthy, why would you ever WANT to die?
In Greek mythology, the immortal Prometheus was chained on a mountain, and each night a vulture came to rip out his liver and eat it.
In Ninja Scroll, the immortal Lord Himuro Gemma is washed into the sea by a wave of boiling gold, which hardens, traps him, and takes him to the bottom.
In the TV show Angel, the main character, who is a vampire, is sealed in a metal box and dropped to the bottom of the ocean.
In the TV show Supernatural, the unkillable Doc Benton is chained in a refrigerator and buried alive.
Imagine being caught in a landslide, being trapped in a plane that goes down over the ocean, or even being captured and experimented on by a government trying to learn the secrets of your immortality. There are times when dying beats all the other options.
Ever had a single moment that changed your entire life? One event, one mental tweak, one epiphany that made everything better?
Granted, we’re not talking about something as huge as turning into a masked crimefighter because my parents were murdered in front of me — but that’s a good thing. Only so many people have experiences like that. I’m talking about relatively small modifications that have had an outsized positive impact on my life. Not only can these mind hacks do the same thing for you, but you can adopt every one of them by the end of this article if you choose to do so.
1) Making yourself impervious to criticism.
When you write about politics for a living, you get called every nasty thing in the book. There’s not a single feature on my body that hasn’t been thoroughly critiqued. I’ve been called ugly, fat, stupid, inbred, retarded, a fascist, a Nazi, a racist, and dozens of other terms that I’m not allowed to write on PJM. I get smeared and lied about. I receive death threats. There’s not a day that goes by in my life where I don’t either get hate mail or get attacked in the comments of articles that I write. After reading that, ponder the fact that when I started writing for a living, not only was I sensitive to criticism, but conflict with other people made me uncomfortable. So how did I go from that to retweeting hate aimed at me on Twitter, laughing off death threats, and taking on four liberals at a time on HuffPostLive?
It started with adopting a quote from Frederick Douglas as a motto.
A gentleman will not insult me, and no man not a gentleman can insult me.
As a practical matter, what does that mean? That anyone who insults is — by virtue of the fact that he is insulting — unworthy of my time, attention, or serious consideration. Some people might argue that someone who’s deliberately insulting you might also have a legitimate point too. Setting aside the fact that happens about as often as Lady Gaga turns down a chance to wear a weird dress, if the point is worth making, someone else will surely come along and make it as well and then I can respond to it. Once you internalize this sort of thinking, insults no longer have any impact because the very fact that someone is treating you in a deliberately insulting manner makes his opinion irrelevant.
As a capitalist, it’s tempting to say that box-office receipts are a better judge of a movie’s worth than Hollywood award ceremonies. However, that ignores the sad reality that Americans sure do love some crummy movies. We’re not even talking “good crummy” either, like a fun zombie or chop socky flick; we’re talking “bad crummy.” Big-budget, high-powered, star-filled atrocities that bank hundreds of millions of dollars despite being average at best and mediocre at worst. Like, for example….
2010: Adjusted Domestic Gross — $295,152,300
Admittedly, in a theme that you’ll see repeated multiple times on this list, the movie looks great. It’s really cool to watch city blocks folding over on each other like a crisp dollar bill. The problem is that’s the only thing that makes the movie worth watching. Yes, it’s pretty… but it’s barely watchable, pretty garbage. The plot is dumb, the characters aren’t likable, the movie is full of overly forced action, and the rules the filmmakers come up with for their invented world are nonsensical. It’s almost like the CGI version of what’s going through someone’s head right after he takes bath salts, but right before he starts to eat people.
“Middle-class society is being strained to the breaking point not, as Marx predicted, by ever-increasing misery but by ever-increasing affluence.” — Eric Hoffer
“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.” — Victor Hugo
It goes without saying that it’s better to be rich than poor. However, that doesn’t mean that affluence doesn’t have its own perils. People instinctively recognize this on a personal level. That’s why fabulously wealthy villains are a staple of TV and movies. It’s why we mock spoiled, rich celebrities like Meghan McCain, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan. It’s why many Americans, fairly or in most cases unfairly, tend to assume that the rich don’t understand what life is like for ordinary Americans. Of course, this bring to mind the following question: Why is it that so many Americans can recognize this when they see it in front of them with individuals, but fail to see the same things happening on a national level?
1) We’re forgetting how we got rich in the first place.
America is like a family that inherited a profitable business from a rich relative. Unfortunately, only some of the family members understand how the business works, while most of the rest just see a big cash machine that’s going to keep printing out money forever. This is not how the world works with companies or with nations.
Most Americans have no clue how exceptional the nation we live in is compared to the rest of the world. Depending on which source you use, America possesses somewhere between the 6th and 8th highest per capita income of any nation in the world. The nations ahead of us are all tiny little countries that range from under 100,000 people to a population of roughly 5.5 million. (Admittedly Canada, which benefits from trade with us and having us defend them militarily, has almost caught up). These tiny countries get by on tourism, natural resources, or small, highly educated populaces, and none of them could even come close to matching the success in a nation like ours which has almost 312 million people.
This country has been such an economic success for a number of reasons, including geographic isolation from Europe during its world wars, mineral resources, a Puritan work ethic, and lack of corruption — along with small government, low taxes, minimal regulations, a comparably small social safety net, and a pro-business atmosphere. Many of the factors enabling this country to grow so successful are eroding away, year after year, and that is sapping the vitality of our economy. Our “cash machine” slows down because so many Americans have no idea how to maintain it.
Ladies, have you ever had a person that you care about but he has this annoying habit that grinds your nerves?
Since you’re an open and honest human being, you want to talk to him about it, but the one time you alluded to it before, he got all huffy about it. Now, you don’t want to bring it up because you’re thinking it’ll turn into this whole, big thing. So, since he’s a great person, you just ignore it even though you really wish he’d stop doing it. Well, it just may be possible that you’re doing something very similar to some of the men in your life. Too harsh? Okay, maybe not YOU, but your loud friend, you know — the one that doesn’t have a lot of tact? She may be doing some of these things and by reading this article, you may be able to help her with things like…
1) If you don’t want us to fix it, why did you bring it up?
When men have a problem, we like to figure out how to deal with it so that it frees our thought processes up for debates about who the greatest home run hitter of all time is (Babe Ruth) or whether you’d be more likely to catch a venereal disease from Paris Hilton or Snooki (Snooki). So, if two men are talking and one says to the other, “My boss is being a real jerk. I’ve had a vacation on the schedule for three months, but he’s asking me to work next weekend. It’s not even an important job! Anybody could do it!” he’s hoping to get a solution to his problem.
Is there a way to save his vacation? Should he quit his job? What should he say to his boss?
This is why men tend to be mildly irritated when a woman talks about an issue and just seems to want him to commiserate. “Oh, I can’t BELIEVE she said that to you about your dress! Who does that ratty b*tch think she is?” These comments don’t lead to getting anything done. So, we can pretend to sympathize, but we’ll be biting our lip to keep from explaining what to do the whole time.
Let me be perfectly frank: I didn’t pick this topic on my own and I never would have. My editor came up with it. He liked the idea of my writing something that dug deeper into my life. I’m not exactly sure why that is since I’m a professional writer, not a UFC grappler. I’m not even one of those haunted, drunken writers like Edgar Allan Poe who’s trying to disgorge the horror in his soul onto the printed page before it bursts out of his chest like the creature from Alien. So, there aren’t going to be any emails that say, “After you kill the hobo, bury him in the woods instead of under the pile of leaves in the front yard.”
Worse yet, the idea of changing things that have already happened in my life is scary. When everything is going great, the natural tendency is to keep doing the same thing. On the other hand, my failures are what have spurred me to work harder and reach for more. If I went back in time and fixed those issues so that it was all smooth sailing, I might be a poorer male version of Paris Hilton — and who the hell wants that? Then there’s the frightening possibility that I could make some small change to my timeline that would have major ramifications today à la The Butterfly Effect. Come to think of it, that’s the one to really fear…
1) Dear 15-year-old John:
I’m writing you from the future to let you know that you’re going to have some people try to bully you. It’s not going to be your fault. You don’t start trouble with anyone or cause problems; you just try very hard to avoid conflict and bullies can smell that the way a shark smells blood.
There’s a solution to this: It’s called hitting the bullies in the mouth. You’ll use that tactic effectively as you get older, but it would save you a lot of worry and stress if you embraced it earlier. Getting in fights isn’t so bad. In fact, I did Southern Longfist Kung-Fu in college, and you know what I learned? I can take and deliver a punch that would knock a mule down. Not only that, it’s a lot of fun to hit another human being as hard as you can. There are not a lot of times when it’s moral to do that, but when you’re being bullied in high school, it’s perfectly fine. Avoid trouble if you can, but if someone insists on starting a fight, oblige him. Win or lose, you get to keep your self-respect and the more fights you get in, the better you’ll be at it.
I got this response back:
Dear future John:
Thank you for the great advice. I fight all the time now! At school, on the street corner, at Juvenile Hall — it’s great! Of course, after a hobo mouthed off to me last night, I did go a little overboard and beat him to death. But no worries, I buried him under a pile of leaves in the front yard, so no one will ever find him!
“A man does what he must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures — and that is the basis of all human morality.” — John F. Kennedy
There’s a lot more to being a man than being 18 years old with the right equipment downstairs. In fact, there are males who live a lifetime without ever knowing what it’s like to be a real man. No matter how happy the responsibility-free stoners may seem in the movies or how many neutered, feminized males you run across who claim to be thrilled with their lot in life, people know better. They live like that, in shame and failure, because they don’t believe they have what it takes to be the sort of man they really want to be. The sad truth, in their case, is that they’re selling themselves short. Like anything else in life worth doing, being a real man isn’t easy, but not only is it doable, it’s actually simpler than it used to be.
1) A real man gets the job done: In times gone by a real man had to know how to do everything from building a house, to fixing a car, to making a fire in the woods. Today, in our modern, civilized, capitalistic society, you can pick up the phone and have someone else do all those things for you. But you still have to know whom to call, you still have to pick up the phone, and you still have to know what you’re trying to do in the first place. In other words, it’s easier than ever for a man to handle his business, but the world is still full of guys who could screw up a two-car parade. That’s not to say that a real man never fails, makes mistakes, or lets things fall through the cracks. That happens to EVERYBODY at some point or another. But if a man tells you something will get done, he figures out a way to make it happen. You don’t have to remind him 34 times to do his work, baby him through the “tough parts,” or frantically do his assignment for him at the last minute because he “forgot” or was too distracted by a South Park marathon to keep his promise. When a real man tells you, “I’ll take care it,” you can take that to the bank.
1) One of the most harmful myths spread by movies is that it’s the person who wants it more who finds a way to win when the chips are down. That’s actually very misleading. Heart might give you an edge versus an equally matched opponent, but preparation mows down heart 99 times out of 100. It’s not who wants it more in the moment; it’s wanting it bad enough to put in work day after day, week after week, and year after year until you make yourself into a formidable opponent. Don’t bet on heart; bet on the one who’s out there busting his behind to get better when there’s no cheering crowd to spur him on.
If you had a time machine, what could you do with it? The possibilities are endless — especially if we assume that if we ever manage to create technology as sophisticated as a time machine, we’ll also have a work-around for language differences and ways to keep from passing on diseases to previous generations. Of course, there would be inevitable dangers. If you made major changes and altered the course of history, you could come back to a future where apes ruled the world or, perhaps worse yet, the French. Obviously, nobody wants that. So, what kind of fun could you have if shooting Hitler or Stalin in the face was out of the question? Well, just imagine….
1) Meeting Jesus: One of the key existential questions that we all grapple with is “Is there a God?”
I believe there is, which is why I’d love to go back in time and meet His Son personally. (This concept also works for non-mainstream Christians if you insert Muhammad, Buddha, Abraham, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, or any other religious founder of your choice.)
Imagine going back to watch Jesus feed the 5000 with loaves and fishes, heal the blind, walk on water, and bring Lazarus back to life. If you wanted a definitive answer to the question of a deity’s existence then you’d have it after that. If there were no miracles, you could go back to your own time and reorder your life accordingly. However, if, as I believe, there is a God and Jesus is His Son, how incredible would it be to see Him in person? To hear His voice speak your name? What else could you possibly do in your life that could match that experience?
You can have it all! It’s a feminist mantra that has been repeated so often that it has become a cliche. Of course, women aren’t the only ones that want to “have it all.” Men have been chasing that same will-o’-the-wisp since time immemorial. After all, who wouldn’t want to have all his heart’s desires? Who wouldn’t want to rise to dizzying heights in his career, get married to someone he or she loves, be mommy or daddy of the year to 2.1 rugrats, be in peak physical health, and have a great house, lots of friends, and an abundant supply of money? Unfortunately this is one beautiful dream that very few, if any, people will ever get to live. There are many good reasons for that.
1) Goals grow over time: Human beings are goal-setting animals and our goals only grow over time. Someone who gets promoted to regional manager will immediately start to covet the company VP slot. The person who wins a championship in just about anything immediately begins to think about what he’ll need to do to repeat. The musician who has a hit record wants to sell even more copies of his next album. This is why a college student with no car and a $15 Salvation Army couch in his studio-apartment living room can be completely satisfied with his material possessions at 18 even though he may feel poor at 50 if his car is a decade old, his small house is run down, and he can’t afford a new washer. You’re either growing and improving as a human being or you’re starting to rot inside, and this makes it very difficult to ever be completely satisfied with any aspect of your life.
The crunch comes when we recognize that societies must continually solve problems in order to keep growing. But the solution to these problems requires ever more complex structures. Ultimately, a point is reached where all the resources of the society are consumed just in maintaining the system at its current level. At this point, the society is experiencing a complexity overload; no further degrees of freedom exist for coping with new problems. When the next problem appears, the system cannot accommodate it by adding more complexity. So it collapses quickly through an X-event that rapidly reduces the complexity overload.
You’re probably wondering what sort of “X-event” could create so much havoc that our society would have trouble coping with it for months or years at a time — if ever. Here are a few possibilities.
1) Death by Physics: Destruction of the Earth through the Creation of Exotic Particles!
This is an unlikely yet fun one, if your idea of fun is seeing the entire earth destroyed.
Did you know that when American scientists were first developing a nuclear bomb, there were genuine concerns that the temperatures created by the explosion of a nuclear weapon might be hot enough to set the earth’s atmosphere on fire? That would have quickly baked all of humankind like a giant pot pie. There was enough worry about this possibility that Robert Oppenheimer called for a study on the matter, which concluded that “a nuclear fireball cools down far too rapidly to set the atmosphere aflame.” Since you’re still alive to read this column, happily that was one government report that turned out to be right.
That brings us to the Large Hadron Collider, where scientists are creating mini “Big Bangs” and temperatures a million times hotter than the center of the sun. On the one hand, this has the potential to teach us a lot about physics and the creation of the universe. On the other, we’re toying with powerful forces we don’t understand. Some people even think it has the potential to destroy the planet by creating a black hole. Others fear it could set off a chain reaction caused by strangelets that could wipe out all life on earth. The good news is that it’s probably safe. Probably — and if it isn’t, all of us will be dead before we can yell at the scientists who killed us anyway; so why worry?
28 Days Later. Resident Evil. Land of the Dead. Deadgirl. Army of Darkness. The Walking Dead. Fido. Dead Snow. Planet Terror. Evil Dead 2. Dawn of the Dead. Zombieland. Shaun of the Dead — the list just goes on and on. Everybody seems to LOVE zombie films — but why? What exactly is so intriguing to people about the idea of being stalked by dead people who want to eat their brains after a worldwide apocalypse? Simple: zombie movies cater to a whole range of deeply rooted human desires. It may be an apocalypse for the world, but for the moviegoer picturing himself in the middle of it all, it’s finally his chance to shine.
1) You can plausibly be the hero. The problem with most action flicks is that the average person has trouble picturing himself as the hero. He doesn’t have special training or powers. He’s not a CIA operative, a Navy SEAL, a gunfighter, or a mutant. So the idea of taking on a gang of Die Hard-style terrorists or fighting with a sword against the medieval equivalent of Chuck Liddell in a film like Gladiator is completely outside of his reality.
On the other hand, zombies are most often portrayed as extremely slow and stupid, yet still dangerous. That makes zombies an enemy that the average restaurant manager or accountant feels like he could realistically handle. Every man, in his heart, wants to be a hero. He wants to be John Wayne, he wants to be Rambo, he wants to be Bruce Lee. In a world filled with zombies, that’s an achievable goal.
Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think is exactly what anyone feeling pessimistic about the world should read. That’s because it’s hard to get down about the future when you read about stunning technological advances on the horizon that will soon change the planet for the better. Here, try it for yourself!
1) 3D Printing: Get ready to geek out because, yes, a rudimentary replicator exists. 3D printers can create everything from lampshades to prosthetic limbs out of steel, titanium, glass, and plastic among other materials. Inventor Behrokh Khoshnevis has even come up with a 3-D printer that uses concrete to build low-income housing for the third world. Granted, this isn’t as powerful or efficient as a Star Trek replicator, but when the technology improves enough to be mass produced and becomes cheap enough for most people to afford, it will be amazing. Picture it now: you’re shopping on Amazon and you see a TV you like. You then walk over to your 3D printer, hit a button, and thirty minutes later, you’re kicking back and watching House reruns. Granted, it won’t make a pork chop or materialize what you want out of thin air like a replicator, but it would represent an amazing leap forward.
What does the future of mankind look like? Is it bright? That’s the impression one gets from reading Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think.
The book argues that advances in technology will solve all of our problems. Food, water, energy, medicine — our capabilities have been rapidly improving on all of these fronts for decades and we’re on pace to advance even faster in coming years. In fact, according to the book, the only reason we don’t see how terrific our future will be is because of our cognitive biases towards pessimism and gloom. It notes,
…Our brain’s filtering architecture is pessimistic by design…(and) good news is drowned out, because it’s in the media’s best interest to overemphasize the bad.
Therefore we tend to ignore the advances in robotics, nanotechnology, computers, genetically engineered crops, vertical farming, cultured meats, smart grids, and innumerable other technological advances that have put us on the cusp of taking a great leap forward as a species.
This isn’t just hot air either. The book goes into detail about the extraordinary breakthroughs that we’re approaching: algae that can produce thirty times more energy than conventional biofuels per acre, computer assisted irrigation that will dramatically reduce the water usage needed for farming, autonomous cars that will reduce commute times and almost eliminate accidents, human body parts that can be grown as replacements for our worn out organs, and diagnostic advances that will allow thousands of dollars’ worth of medical tests to be done for pennies. These are exciting ideas that have the potential to uplift the lives of human beings all across the globe.
When you have more than 4,600 friends on Facebook, you’re guaranteed to have a few stinkers in the bunch. Sadly, like career criminals, the worst transgressors tend to repeat their crimes over and over again, which is why it’s a good idea to get them out of your feed. Are you one of these repeat offenders who’s annoying all of your soon-to-be-ex-Facebook friends so badly that they’re about to drop you like a Blockbuster customer who just discovered Redbox? Well, read on and let’s see!
1) Phony Picture Tag Guy
Do you know how annoying it is to have a picture of a shoe or the Constitution show up in your feed, tagged as a picture of you? The whole idea behind it is to force you to go look at the post and remove your name from the picture so that people aren’t forever more wondering why something so completely irrelevant shows up in your pictures. As an extra added bonus, every time one of the other people who was also tagged on the irrelevant picture says something like “What is this crap?” or “How rude!” you get alerted. Joy!
5) Rob: You don’t look at the things that you have, you only look at the stuff that you don’t have. Those guys are right about you – you’re money.
Mike: Then why won’t she call?
Rob: She won’t call because you left. She’s got her own life to deal with, man, and that’s in New York… alright? And she’s a sweet girl, and I love her to pieces, but f*ck her, man. You gotta get on with your life. You gotta let go of the past. And Mikey, when you do, I’m telling you: the future is beautiful, alright? Look out the window. It’s sunny every day here. It’s like Manifest Destiny. Don’t tell me we didn’t make it. We made it! We are here. And everything that is past is prologue to this. All of the sh*t that didn’t kill us is only – you know, all that sh*t. You’re gonna get over it.
Mike: How did you get over it? I mean, how long did it take?
Rob: Sometimes it still hurts. You know how it is, man. It’s like, you wake up every day and it hurts a little bit less, and then you wake up one day and it doesn’t hurt at all. And the funny thing is, is that, this is kinda weird, but it’s like, it’s like you almost miss that pain.
Mike: You miss the pain?
Rob: Yeah, for the same reason that you missed her… because you lived with it for so long.
No matter how much of a glass-half-full, optimistic, “don’t worry, be happy” sort of fellow you are, life is going to eventually knock you flat on your behind and it’s going to hurt like hell. When that happens, it’s nice to try to stay positive and know that other people care, but at the end of the day, only God and time can heal the wound. No matter how much it hurts, just give it enough time and it’ll get better.
People aren’t trashy because of who they are, they’re trashy because of how they behave. That means the cast of Jersey Shore, Perez Hilton, and the Kardashians didn’t pop out of their mamas’ wombs wrong. To the contrary, they all had to learn how to be as trashy as a Louisiana landfill. Now trashy people have always been around, but the difference is that in our “any attention is good attention,” 15-minutes-of-fame society, a lot of people consider “trashy” to be an asset if it gets more people looking in their direction. Having every eye in the room on you isn’t worth it if the word “trash” is going through every head at the same time. The good news is that it’s easy to avoid the sort of behavior that gets you labeled as trash.
1) Profanity in Public.
Last time I was in D.C., I was in a cab with a female friend and the cabby was playing rap music. Five minutes into the ride, the music got dirty. A song came on that actually referenced “p*ssy,” at which point I, his paying customer, had to actually ask him to change the station. Later that weekend, when we were on the metro, we had someone playing loud music in the back of the train. Of course, since it was D.C., maybe he had just arrived from some country that doesn’t have headphones — but I doubt it.
It’s just as grating when people curse in public or get loud in a restaurant. Are these backwards idiots not aware there are other people in the room? How about a modicum of courtesy to other human beings who are sharing space with you? Nobody wants to hear you rant on your cell phone, yell across the table to your cousin, or hear about how much you hate the F-ing Panthers. Pretend like you weren’t raised in a barn and show a little class.
Every day of your life, you’re bombarded with attempts to influence your behavior. You pick up the paper and it tries to convince you to take a political position. You turn on the TV, watch a sitcom, and recognize that there’s a moral message shoved into it. While you’re watching the sitcom, commercials play. Do those ads stick in your brain?
Let’s find out.
Which company has the slogan, “Just do it”? Which candy “melts in your mouth, but not in your hand”? Here’s a golden oldie: Which fast food chain introduced the phrase “Where’s the beef?”
Because the changes wrought by these messages tend to be subtle, most people erroneously believe they’re unaffected. Of course, they’re very wrong. It costs $3.5 million to run a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl. You think those companies pay out dumptrucks of cash for those spots without believing they’re getting their money’s worth? So, here’s a question: Since you’re being programmed by outside sources on a day in, day out basis, why not run some of your own programming that’s designed to make your life better? There are a number of ways to do it.
Here’s a secret that you would not guess if you met me in public: I’m naturally introverted. I was very shy as a kid, I’m still perfectly content to go to dinner or a movie by myself, and I enjoy working alone. That said, I’m also one of the best networkers you’re ever going to run into. I’ve been hired by a presidential campaign and consulting confirms because of my blogger contacts. I do speeches at Tea Parties, I write articles on how to communicate with people, and my Facebook page is nothing but pictures of me hanging out with cool people and political celebrities. Here’s something a blogger wrote about me just two weeks ago.
* John Hawkins will walk up to any woman or group of women — including the stunning Dana Loesch and Katie Pavlich — and begin chatting them up for photos. I have a vision of Hawkins’ foyer that is lined with hundreds of photos of him hugging every woman on the center-right scene….
* John Hawkins knows everyone. He is an uber-networker and can connect you with the full spectrum of conservative thought, from National Review to Breitbart.com.
* John Hawkins is funny. At #BlogConCLT, he had me literally crying and gasping for breath as he outlined various possible “list columns” like “The Top 12 Places You Should Never Wear a Speedo With an Afro-Wig Under It.”
I’m not rich, famous, or good looking — yet. So, how did I get so much better with people that my Myers-Briggs score actually switched from INTJ (introversion, intuition, thinking, judgment) when I was younger to ENTJ (extraversion, intuition, thinking, judgment) now?
1) Approach: If you’re determined to meet a new person, the easiest way to do it is to be the one who walks up and says, “hello.” This is actually not as tough as it may seem. People get wrapped up in what they should say, but the truth is that it doesn’t matter all that much. Personally, my favorite is, “I’m John Hawkins and I don’t think I’ve met you yet,” but I’m confident that I could walk up to someone and say, “Meow” or “I bet the weather is great on Mars today” and still have things turn out well. That’s because people watch your body language and pay attention to your tone more than what you say. If you seem completely comfortable, confident, and friendly, they’ll just assume they must have misheard you and keep chatting. Just be content to meet people, enjoy yourself, and move on if you get bored. 99 times out of a 100, I get a good reaction doing that and the 1 time out of 100 that I don’t, I assume there’s something wrong with them, not me.
Many conversational habits can torpedo your friendships and alienate people. You can slip into them easily; next thing you know, you’re wondering why the people at work don’t want to go to lunch anymore and your buddies stopped returning your calls. Worse yet, once a bad habit becomes customary it can linger like a bad smell for years, ruining relationships and leaving otherwise wonderful people wondering why they can’t make any of their friendships work. Rather than tiptoeing around the elephant corpse rotting in the living room, now’s the time we set our sights on these killers hunting down people’s social lives
1) Bad manners: In one of my favorite scenes from Season 2 of The Walking Dead, a couple of sketchy guys try to convince Rick to take them back to his camp. After talking a bit, one of them goes over to the corner of the abandoned bar, urinates, and makes a comment about “c**ch.” After their bad manners reveal both men as trash, the boring nice guy Rick shoots both of them to death. There is a lesson here. Don’t be crude. Don’t treat maids or waiters rudely. Don’t make an ass of yourself. Because even if it’s not aimed at them this time around, other people in your presence will assume it says something about your character and think, “Next time, that might be me.”