Archive for the Zen and Modern Life Category

Healthy Food, Healthy Image, Healthy Fearmongering.

Posted in The Middle Ground, Zen and Modern Life on July 30, 2008 by cheappaper

I know a lawyer who tells her clients that a time comes when the client needs to stop listening to her.  That is, do what’s right and damn the whining lawyers.  The California Milk Processors Board might want to heed her advice.

Got Milk?  Healthy message, right?  Not the message the Milk Board’s lawyers are sending to Talkeetna, Alaska artist Barbara Holmes.

Remember that guy in the cartoon, Snidley Whiplash?  The Milk Board is doing its best to imitate him.  It is bringing a cease and desist order against Ms. Holmes.  It seems that Ms. Holmes embroidered a handful of baby shirts for a church auction.  The fuss you ask?  She hand embroidered each shirt with the message, “Got Breastmilk.”

Her act, according to the Milk Board’s attorneys, is a clear copyright violation.

A nice summary of the situation here.

The website of the local Talkeetna lawyer who is defending Ms. Holmes against the Milk Board is here.

To me, it looks like some healthy stuff had been going down.  That is, some healthy fearmongering by the Milk Board’s legal counsel.

Update: July 30.  If you have more free reading time than me and prefer Hiaku with your intellectual property law, check out the coverage at f/k/a.

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On Greed

Posted in Zen and Modern Life on June 26, 2008 by cheappaper

I am a lazy lout. If I post two days in a row, I know that I am mulling over things.

I return to my post of yesterday. I have alway been a fan of the old saying:

Greed is not bad, and stupidity is not bad, but greed and stupidity combined are very bad.

Here is another take on greed: it is good until it becomes sociopathic greed.

Sociopathic greed is the sort of greed that gives no consideration to its own survival. It is the parasite that kills the host — and most parasites are too smart to do that.

For example, take football. Each team is greedy. It wants to win. It is good that both teams may knock a few heads, use some elbows, and do whatever below the belt. All part of the sport.

Consider what would happen if one team arrived with firearms and offed the other team. In their own eyes, they would see themselves as the winners. On the other hand, it would not do much for the sport in general. Sooner or later there would be no more football.

I think the same may be said of societies.

The Fall of Rome

Posted in The Middle Ground, Zen and Modern Life on June 25, 2008 by cheappaper

I could enjoy watching flights of hubris if they did not have the nasty habit of landing on top of pedestrians when they return to earth.

I was reading this morning an article on the Bear Stearns debacle. The pundits continue to debate the source of the subprime mess. “Did Bear Stearn’s downfall cause it?,” they ask. “No, it was the other way around,” others contend.

In all the flurry, what caught my eye was a statement attributed to Bear Stearn’s fund manager Ralph Cioffi. Ralph was the manager of one of Bear Stearn’s subprime portfolios. He reportedly earned tens of millions of dollars annually to shepard these monies. When he belatedly realized his funds had failed, he emailed a colleague and stated that he had “effectively washed a 30-year career down the drain.”

A remarkable statement. A man who has just squandered 1.6 billion of other people’s money and his first thought is to his career and, by extension, his pocketbook?

I would guess that if the pundits paused long enough to meditate on Ralph’s statement, they would find in it the answer to their questions. For I would also guess that Ralph is not alone.

Highways and Whole Grain

Posted in Zen and Modern Life on April 29, 2008 by cheappaper

When it comes to our highways, America likes it big.  For instance, there is Salem Sue, the worlds largest Holstein cow. There is the world’s largest tire and the world’s largest catsup bottle. There are all sorts of large people standing around, including vegetable eating celebrities, religious figures, and respected lumbering icons. (Lumbering icons also found here, here, and no doubt lots of other places).  As we all know, these monuments are simply the bait set out by the tourist traps that lurk near by.  I am not one to be fooled.

With these things in mind, I recently went shopping for bread.  To my delight, there was a new whole wheat bread with 12 grains.  (As best I can tell: wheat, millet, oats, barley, sunflower seeds, brown rice, flax, lentils, soy, spelt, malted barley, rye).  Without hesitation, I put it in my basket and head for the cash register.  I know that if 2 grains are better than one grain, then 12 grains must be better than 2.

Intelligent Life and Cows

Posted in Zen and Modern Life on March 25, 2008 by cheappaper

While commuting to work today, I got stuck behind a slow moving car. The driver put on his left hand turn signal. As I prepare to drive around him to the right, he turned right, almost colliding with me.

It is commutes such as these that get me thinking about signals and intelligent life. More specifically, humankind’s search for some signal that intelligent life exists in the universe. I have always been skeptical of these efforts. I do not understand why scientists spend so much time looking out into space for intelligent life.  If they looked around down here, they would see that we are surrounded by intelligent life. (With the possible exceptions of cows and commuters).

Our search for intelligent life reminds me of an insecure property owner.  The kind of person who is embarrassed by his neighbors.  He keeps looking down the street and hoping someone more like himself will come along and move in next door.

It is easy to predict the result of our contact with extraterrestrial life.  One of three things will happen:

  1. If the creatures are dumber than us, like cows, we will eat them.
  2. If we are dumber than the creatures, they will eat us.
  3. Otherwise, we will fight with each other.

Why do I pick on cows? I have spent many hours in free range country. Every time I have met a herd of cows on the road, all the cows on the left side of the road have exited to the right and vice versa.  Any resemblance to commuters is purely a coincidence.

Caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Posted in Zen and Modern Life on March 11, 2008 by cheappaper

I am reading that Eliot Spitzer has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. (Cute pics).

What an opportunity for some Applied Yin and Yang.

The premise:

The person without sin is most often without virtue.

The question:

Where is the bigger hypocrisy? Is it with Spitzer, who lies with those he judges, or is it with the public, which first ignored Spitzer’s sins and now ignores his virtues.