The "C" Branch

Jaded commentary on random shit, with an extra helping of cynicism, satire and general contempt for society & Western culture, religion, politics, celebrities, technology, business & more.

Mar 31

What Constitutes True Wealth?


Prosperity and happiness don’t come from money. Here’s what really counts.

In America as well as many other industrialized countries throughout the world, wealth has unfortunately come to be known, for the most part, in a financial sense. This, however, is a great shame because money in actuality is the least meaningful and significant aspect of wealth. There are so many things that are so much more valuable and that provide a much richer understanding of what wealth really is.

For the remainder of this article, I will discuss some of the things I believe constitute true wealth, and suggest some ways to achieve the wealth found in these sources.
Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 01

The Irony of Online Dating


If you haven’t heard yet, you might be interested in hearing how Dr. Neil Warren, founder of eHarmony.com, found love on the internet. There’s only one problem. It was on one of his major competitors’ sites, match.com! Take a look at this: http://www.onlinedatingmagazine.com/news2008/neilwarrenlove.html

And now that you’ve read through that, we can learn two valuable lessons:

  1. Online dating is kinda a joke.
  2. AND

  3. Always look at a calendar before you believe stuff
Jan 29

These Congressmen Are Killing Me


I happened to come across this news article on news.com the other day – apparently a New York senator wants to ban the use of electronic devices while crossing the street. He doesn’t just want to ban iPods while crossing the street, which actually makes some sense since you can’t hear sirens or traffic if you have headphones on, though it’s still stupid. He actually wants to ban any electronic device, including cell phones, portable video game systems, and video players. I don’t know if he plans on forbidding people from crossing the street while on bluetooth headsets too, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that when I’m blasting music into my ears with my iPod, I’m completely oblivious to outside noises. So, I acknowledge that there is perhaps some degree of danger in crossing the street if you don’t know that there’s an ambulance speeding down the road before it hits you. In fact, I’ll even agree that a bill to prohibit blind people from crossing the road while listening to their iPods would be just dandy. Normally, however, sirens conveniently come from some sort of physical, visible thing that any semi-intelligent living thing (that can see) would be easily aware of. If you can’t handle crossing a road without being able to hear, you just might need to get run over a few times so you can learn how to.

Honestly, if crossing a busy road, I would probably pause the song I was listening to, and turn it back on when I got to the other side. I just like to be able to hear when I’m trying to concentrate. However, if this became a law, I would apparently have to completely take the headphones off, and put them back on when I got to the other side, to avoid the risk of being slapped with a $100 fine on top of court costs.

And, if I can handle talking on the phone while writing a paper, eating a bowl of soup, and watching a James Bond movie, I can certainly manage talking on the phone while crossing a road, especially on a bluetooth headset. In fact, I do it all the time. If somebody seriously thinks he can tell me that I can’t handle talking on the phone while walking, then we have a serious problem, and unfortunately for him, it does not lie with me.

Lastly, if someone is stupid enough to watch a movie on a portable DVD player while crossing the road, then they pretty much deserve whatever outcome results.

I guess you just have to become a senator before you can reach the level of stupidity required for this idea to make sense.

Jan 22

Taking Our Society Back


This is the second of a multiple-post series.
If you haven’t read the first post, you can find it here.

About a month ago, I wrote about some very apparent and substantial concerns with the directions American society is heading in. Hopefully you’ve had the opportunity to take a few minutes here and there and reflect on the points I brought up. If you haven’t read last month’s post, please read it first using the link above before you continue. This is a follow-up of that post in which I’ll explore some of the opportunities we have to bring about change in our society and to reverse the destructive trends that plague our culture and society.

Last month, I emphasized the importance of communication and interaction and explored some of the trends that are resulting in our society from a grave decline and lack of these important aspects of society. Society cannot exist without a sense of community, and these things are vital to a healthy community. So, in this article, I’ll explore five of my ideas on how we can begin to restore community and interaction.

1. Move beyond your own “comfort zone.”
Before you can begin change anything, you have to start with yourself. Take some time to evaluate yourself and how you interact with people. I know as for myself that even being as extroverted as I generally am, there are many social situations where I’ll become shy or uncomfortable. We must first push ourselves further and challenge ourselves to move beyond our “comfort zones,” perhaps stepping out into the crowd or giving that unexpected hug. If you notice that you spend a lot of time texting or on instant messenger, challenge yourself to go out more and interact with people face-to-face. If you’re waiting in a slow-moving line, initiate a conversation with one of the people next to you.

2. Encourage others beyond their “comfort zones.”
Being careful not to be intimidating or to make others too uncomfortable, gently push people beyond their comfort zones. If you see someone sitting alone, go join them and start talking to them. Involve people who are more shy in your conversations, project groups, or meetings. Reach out to people who seem secluded or singled out. Even if this makes them slightly uncomfortable, you’re really doing them a favor and helping them to grow in a way they just haven’t realized yet.

3. Don’t wimp out on the truth.
Be honest with people and stick with what is right, even when it hurts. Way too much stuff in our society is sugar-coated and diluted. If you believe something is wrong, stand up for it no matter what! If your kids want to watch a television show that you don’t feel is appropriate, don’t let them watch it! If your daughter has received detention for hugging a friend, and you don’t think that’s right, protest! By “playing along” with our society as it is we are only complying and supporting it without even realizing it. Be brutally honest with your kids on how you feel about drugs, sex, and violence, and make it clear that you won’t accept it.

4. Double listening, talk half as much.
Take time to really listen to what people have to say. Pay attention to people! Sometimes we all get so caught up in stuff that we miss out on what’s going on with the people around us. Be sensitive to people’s needs and how people are doing. You can save the life of someone about to commit suicide by being there and caring enough to discover there’s a problem. Instead of getting mad at kids bringing guns to school, talk with them and find out why they feel threatened. Instead of judging people, get to know them and see who they really are first. If we take more time to listen and be there for one another, we’ll be more connected and be able to support each other and grow together again.

5. When it’s time to talk, be bold and make your statement.
Don’t chicken out when it is time to talk. Remember to not wimp out on the truth, but also, don’t wimp out on your mission. Make sure that you’re heard. Team up with people and combine voices. A perfect example is the Free Hugs Campaign that has flooded Facebook. People all across the country and even across the world have teamed up for “free hug campaigns” in which participants will agree on a date, and then stand out in the streets and offer strangers passing by a hug. This makes a strong statement that we don’t feel embrace and affection are “tacky” or “poor taste,” and that we won’t stand for our society turning them into just that. Remember, whatever you decide to do, never give up! Eventually, someone will have to listen. Everyone will have to listen.

So, there are some of my thoughts. I’ll be sure and provide updates on the “free hugs” or any other campaigns or events coming up. I hope you’ll be able to find some time to think and reflect about this, and formulate your own game plan on what you’re going to do to take our society back. Together, rather than trying to “make a difference,” we ourselves can be that difference. I know I’m ready. Are you?

Dec 27

American Society Deems Affection “Tacky”


This is the first of a two-part series.

Or at least it seems so. Last month, a thirteen-year old Middle School student from Illinois received two detentions for hugging her friends while saying goodbye for the weekend. Sam McGowen, the school district’s superintendent, was addressed regarding the issue. He contended that the punishment was in fact fair, referring to the school’s student handbook. So, referring to the handbook, one will find the following clause:

“Displays of affection should not occur on the school campus at any time. It is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and brings discredit to the school and to the persons involved.�

This is simply appalling. Affection, apparently, is now considered “poor taste,” and “poor judgement.” This handbook does not seem to say that is it bad to show affection only at the school, but appears instead to state that this is true of affection in general. So, remember as you hug your son or daughter before they go to bed tonight, the next time you see your boy/girlfriend, or the next time you see grandma, don’t show affection! Be American and give them a good, cold and impersonal American greeting.

Perhaps this seems outrageous to many, who still believe in the importance of affection, interaction, and human embrace. Unfortunately, however, it truly does reflect changes that are taking place in American society as a whole. Compared to many other countries, the physical interaction between Americans is quite cold. It is not customary in American society for people to embrace each other, show their affection for one another, or even communicate sufficiently with one another. This, not coincidentally, reflects many of the widespread problems that plague American society. Without live communication, affection, and other personal interaction among people, it is simply impossible for a society to exist.

The definition of society simply requires that. Virtually all the definitions I found of society demanded “interaction,” and “similar interest.” My favorite, however, came from a Bioethics dictionary:

1. an enduring and co-operating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another. 2. a community or broad grouping of people having common tradition, institutions and collective activities and interests;

Society implies community. You simply cannot have society without community. A group of people living in the same spot under the same government may be part of the definition of society, but it is not complete. Unfortunately, it seems that America is losing the sense of what community is. This can be demonstrated in basically all aspects of American society, particularly the family – the most basic unit of society.

In a society where we communicate less and less, are so busy that we have less and less time to spend with people, and are discouraged from showing affection to one another, it should be no surprise to us that the divorce rate continues to rise at an alarming rate, that crime and murder rates are rising, that kids are bringing guns and other weapons to schools, that domestic abuse is rampant, that we are running out of space in prisons, and that more and more people are walking the streets at night, homeless and hungry.

How can we expect people to spend the rest of their lives together happily when they simply cannot communicate, and have little time to spend together?

How can we expect children to get along peacefully when their socialization comes more from movies, video games, and television shows filled with violence, conflict, and poor taste more than it comes from us teaching them to love and embrace? Should we really be surprised when they show up at school with guns? I mean, it’s not like they spend more time texting and talking with people on IM than they do in real person. After all, we were too busy to teach them the right way anyways, right?

And of course, how could we possibly address the needs of those around us when we’re clearly so busy? Besides, we can’t possibly afford to give away any of our money, possessions, or resources. We need those for ourselves!

So, in the end, should we really be surprised when we look around at all the problems that face us and our so called “society” or whatever it has become now?

Continue with Part 2: Taking Our Society Back.