Am I the last person in Western Civilization to find out about Pandora.com?

In case the answer to that question is “no,” Pandora is an internet radio service that allows you to create your own “stations” which play music that you like.

You start by picking a song or artist that you like, and then Pandora chooses similar music. As each song plays, you can either give it a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down”, determining if that specific song and others like it will appear again on your station.

The service is completely free; you just have to register with a username and password in order to save your stations.

I haven’t used it enough to figure out just how good it is at predicting songs that I like, but so far, I’m impressed.


“Experience” And The U.S. Presidency

There’s been a lot of talk during this election about “experience” and about who’s “qualified” for the job of President and who isn’t.

For a long time, the claims of inexperience were largely directed at Barack Obama, but with McCain’s pick of the relatively unknown Sarah Palin as his VP candidate, both sides are now letting the accusations of inexperience fly.

A couple of thoughts on why I think all of this is overblown:

First, it seems clear that neither party really cares too much about having experience in the White House.

After campaigning for so long about how Obama is unqualified for the job because of his lack of experience, it seems a little inconsistent that McCain, an old man who’s had significant health problems, would choose a running mate who is similarly inexperienced when there’s a real chance that she could end up as President.

On the other side, what’s up with the Democrats complaining about the inexperience of Palin (the number two on the Republican ticket), when their would-be President Obama has no experience to speak of either?

Oh, the irony.

Secondly, while I’ll certainly agree that some candidates are more qualified and have more experience than others, and while some presidents have certainly turned out to be up to the job, is anyone really qualified to have the job of the most powerful person on the planet?

I’m thinking the only person in history with that degree of qualification would be Jesus, and He really wasn’t interested in political power…


Observation #2

On infomercials, when companies boast about the “space age technology” of a given product, aren’t they really only claiming that they have a technology that was possibly developed as many as 50 years ago?


Frisbee Poster

For some time, I’ve been eager to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator, and over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been tinkering around with it in my spare time.

Several days ago I made the poster below to advertise a mixer that the Harding Ultimate Frisbee team was having.

I think I’ve probably only tapped into about 3% of Illustrator’s potential at this point, but so far, I’ve been pleased.

Click on the picture to see a larger version.


The Kinship Of Speeders

Yesterday on the way to work a minivan coming the other way flashed his headlights at me repeatedly.

After I checked to make sure that I didn’t have my brights on, I surmised that the minivan driver must have been warning me about a police car lurking up ahead. Sure enough, as I turned the corner I saw one waiting in a side street looking to catch speeders.

The phenomenon of drivers feeling compelled to warn others about the presence of cops has always been intriguing to me. On some level, I know that it’s not necessarily a good thing to help other people avoid being caught by the law, but at the same time, I like the feeling of camaraderie that I experience every time someone flashes their headlights at me in warning.

In that spirit of camaraderie, I present the following picture from FAIL Blog, which I thought was hilarious:


Arthur Ashe On Suffering

Late in his life, during his battle with AIDS (he had contracted HIV during a blood transfusion), one of Ashe’s fans asked him, “Why does God have to select you for such a bad disease?”

Ashe replied:

“The world over, 50,000,000 children start playing tennis, 5,000,000 learn to play tennis, 500,000 learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5,000 reach the Grand Slam, 50 reach Wimbledon, 4 to the semifinals, 2 to the finals. When I was holding a cup, I never asked God ‘Why me?’ And today in pain I should not be asking God, ‘Why me?’”


Dumb Things People Say 2: “What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger”

It’s about time that I wrote another entry for this series.

Today’s Dumb Thing, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” is somewhat special in that it has a specific origin. It was the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who first made this robust claim, which I guess shouldn’t be too surprising, since he made some other claims which haven’t exactly panned out either (consider that whole “God is dead” idea for example).

Nevertheless, in the years since Nietzsche (whose name is incredibly difficult to spell) first penned the words countless people have seized upon them as an expression of truth and source of inspiration to get them and their loved ones through difficult times.

Of course, the words weren’t meant in a physical sense, and that’s a good thing—a person who had been crippled by polio could hardly claim to be physically stronger from the experience—but I don’t think it really holds up emotionally as well.

Oh, I think it’s certainly true that we all from time to time get through difficult episodes which ultimately make us stronger and better people, but it’s also true that people suffer through certain traumatic events that leave them scarred for life—they never recover the “strength” they once had.

I’m not much of a philosopher, but basically, I think people have a “Hardship Ceiling,” or a certain point beyond which they cannot deal with more, and from which they cannot recover.

If you have never experienced a wound that you couldn’t just shrug off and classify as “strength-enhancing,” be thankful. Just don’t assume that such wounds don’t exist.


Richard Ben Cramer on Joe DiMaggio: The Mirror Of A Nation

A while back, I wrote a post about Joe DiMaggio.

Then, while reading an article written about him after his death, I found a quote that I really liked:

“In Joe, the nation found a mirror for its best self. In the hard-knuckled ’30s, he was the Sicilian immigrant’s son who came from nothing, made it big. As the war drew nearer, he was our can-do poster boy, getting hits every day through the summer of ’41. In the war, he sacrificed his best years but came back as a winner—bigger than ever. In postwar wealth and ease, he was our Broadway Joe, squiring Miss Americas at the Stork Club…until he wooed and won, in Marilyn Monroe, the most beautiful girl America could dream up. And even when he lost that girl for good, in 1962, he was us, at the start of our decade of assassination and bereavement. He was, at every turn, our idea of the American hero—one man we could look at, who made us feel good. For it was always about how we felt…with Joe. That’s how it worked. No wonder we strove, for six decades—the nation, its presidents, its citizens, almost everyone—to give Joe the hero’s life. It was always about us.”

The Doc File © 2006-2012 by Luke Dockery

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