August 28, 2008

Is Phelps Phony?

My purview as Minister of Common Sense extends to many corners of society, including sports. I watched the Olympics with great interest, especially as Michael Phelps pursued his historical, record-setting eight gold medals. However, I got to thinking... and I’m beginning to wonder if maybe all the hype surrounding his achievements are overblown.

Phelps is being lauded as either the “greatest Olympian ever” or the “greatest athlete ever” (depending on who you talk to, and some people think he is both). These titles are being bestowed on Phelps because of the amazing number of gold medals he won in Beijing. But, did he really win “eight” gold medals or just “one”?

I mean, it’s swimming. He’s a great swimmer. I get that. But do we really need all those different swimming events and strokes? At its most basic, a swimming race is two people in a body of water trying to go from point A to point B in the least amount of time. Who cares how you get there? Why do we need the freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly? It’s like losing a foot race to someone and then saying, “OK, let’s race again... but this time we have to run sideways!” The dude is faster than you, and he just proved it, so who cares if you are a faster sideways runner than him? If you both had to race to the last lifejacket on the Titanic, guess what?... you’re not going to get it. We don’t have sideways running, so why do we have the butterfly?

If someone is a fast runner, I’m willing to bet he’s also a pretty fast sideways runner, too. Just as Phelps is a fast freestyle swimmer, he’s also pretty good at all the other hokey swim strokes. Given all the different swimming strokes, distances and relays, there were 17 opportunities to win a gold medal as a male swimmer in Beijing. That is almost as much as track & field (24), and track & field has everything from walking to the long jump to the javelin to the pole vault. That is a hell of a lot more varied than just swimming. So with 17 gold medals available in swimming, if you insert a great swimmer like Michael Phelps into that opportunity, of course he’s going to walk away with a shitload of them. So why is that so amazing?

One way to look at it is that Phelps basically won 5 gold medals for the same thing – being a fast swimmer. (He won three more gold medals for being a fast swimmer who also had other fast swimmers in the same country, which is even less impressive.) I could shatter Phelps’ gold medal record tomorrow... if you made common sense an Olympic sport and had events such as: common sense on Monday morning; common sense on Monday afternoon; common sense on Tuesday morning; common sense on Tuesday afternoon; etc. By the end of the week, I’d have 14 gold medals around my neck. Does that make me the best Olympian or athlete of all time? No, it just makes me a guy with a lot of common sense, right? So why is Phelps suddenly the best athlete ever?

I say that Phelps isn’t the best athlete ever. You could also say he’s also not the best Olympian ever because there are too many events (i.e. gold medal opportunities) in swimming, plus Larissa Latynina has the most career medals ever with 18 (bet you didn't know that). You know what you CAN say?... you can say he’s the best swimmer ever, which is pretty damn good.

This isn’t Phelps’ fault, of course, and I’m not suggesting that we push the button on him or anything. It’s the fault of the Ministry of Olympics for having too many swimming events. They don’t give one gold medal for ping pong with a red paddle and then another gold medal for ping pong with a blue paddle, so why do we have all the different retarded swimming strokes? I recommend that all swimming events at the Olympics should just come down to one race – “the fastest motherfucker to the other side of the pool”. OK, I’ll grant them swimming races at different distances, too, just to mix things up. I’m on my way to the Olympic Minister’s office right now.

August 21, 2008

Hosting Weddings Sucks

A friend of mine got married recently. I'm not married, so I don't have any first-hand experience at this, but I was appalled at the rudeness and lack of consideration from their guests.

The first problem came after the RSVP date for the invitations came and went... and 30% of the guests still hadn't responded (one way or the other). OK, fine, people might forget or whatever - or maybe they assume that a non-RSVP means that they are not coming (by the way, that is NOT what it means - it just means that you are lazy, rude and inconsiderate). Whatever the case, a 30% non-response rate is a lot. Many of the invitees who didn't RSVP were married themselves, so you would think that these people would appreciate how expensive weddings can be (even at the cheapest) and would understand about how getting the guest count correct is key to managing the costs, right? Anyway, the bride and groom had to spend tons of time calling these people personally and ask them if they were coming (certainly something they shouldn't have to do, which is the whole purpose of the RSVP). But, wait, it gets worse.

The couple getting married requested no children at the wedding reception - it was written on the invitation - yet multiple people who attended the wedding brought along their friggin' kids. Additionally, the RSVP cards were sent out pre-printed with the number of guests already written on it (like "1" if the invite was just for one person, "2" if it was for someone and their girlfriend, etc.). Well, get this - people would cross out the pre-printed number and write their own response. Individuals would cross out "1" and write "2". Couples would cross out "2" and write "4". You can't fucking do that, people!! But, wait, it gets worse.

After the wedding, the couple couldn't help but notice that the the gifts they received only amounted to one-fifth of the cost to throw the wedding. And this wasn't an expensive wedding, so it made the numbers all the more shocking. As an example, if the wedding cost $20,000, they only received $3,700 in gifts. There were a ton of people who didn't event bring a CARD! I know the "rule" is that you have one year to give the married couple a gift, but let's be honest, if the guest doesn't bring a gift to the wedding, there is a great probability they won't give a gift at all. It was a destination wedding, so you can excuse the people who traveled from giving a gift. But the majority of the attendees at the wedding were local at this "destination" wedding, and the couple still didn't get shit for gifts. (Disclaimer: the guests were not the most affluent people in the world, but I'm still pretty shocked... I mean, knit a sweater or something.) Of course, you shouldn't throw a wedding in order to get gifts, or with the expectation it will pay for your party - I understand that - but isn't this horrible that a ton of people didn't give anything, not even a card? That seems rude to me.

The couple then held a reception in their hometown for the people who couldn't travel all the way to the actual wedding, and the gifts received at the hometown reception was just as bad - again, only about half of the guests brought a gift and they were just as skimpy as those received at the actual wedding. I'm shocked that HALF the guests wouldn't bring some sort of gift or token - is this the norm?

There was one person who is a close friend of the couple, who attended the lavish bachelor party (for free), didn't come to the actual wedding, attended the hometown reception, and didn't even bring a card (let alone cash)! This is the same person who received a $300 gift from the groom at his wedding a while back). In another horrible example - a bonefide millionaire, who is a friend of the family, came to the hometown reception and didn't even bring a card. What the fuck?!?!

It's shocking how screwed up and rude people can be when when invited to weddings. How is this possible? If I get invited to a legitimate friend/family wedding, I send a gift even if I DON'T COME! Shouldn't the button be pushed on all these people?? If you're the bride or groom, how do you even LOOK at these people again? Maybe the guests didn't think the couple would make it long term?? I just find this all very disappointing, and it shakes my confidence in people.

I'd love to hear your wedding horror stories, as I'm sure they get much worse.

If you're interested in reading more about weddings, you might want to check out another post on this blog titled, "Weddings: The Money Pit of All Money Pits".

August 14, 2008

Urinal Skeeve Out

There's this one guy on my office floor (who doesn't work for the Ministry, but for another government entity), and he freaks me out in the bathroom.

There are two urinals in the bathroom on my floor. If this guy is already standing at a urinal when I go in there, he ALWAYS turns and looks at me when I saddle up to the urinal next to him.

I assume he does this when anyone comes in, and it's super freaky. It is an unspoken guy rule NOT to look at the other person when standing at a urinal.

There is a divider between us, so it's not like he's looking at my junk or anything. He just turns and looks at my face for a second. I'd almost prefer it if he looked at my package, instead - at least I could understand that he might be gay or insecure or something, but why is he looking at my face?? Perhaps to identifying me to see if he knows me? Even if he DID know me, what would he want do with that recognition?... talk to me?? No one wants to be talked to when they are pissing (unless it's your best friend and you are drunk at a strip bar or something).

As soon as I walk in and see him there, I just know he's going to look at me. Of course, I never look back - I just see him with my peripheral vision, but one time I'd like to turn my head immediately toward him and angrily ask, "WHAT?"

One time, a guy who I DID know walked in when I was in one of the stalls with the door shut. He calls out, "Minister, is that you?" (How he knew it was me, is beyond me. And what a risk to take - what if it WASN'T me!... imagine that awkward exchange.) Reluctantly, I responded, "Yeah." Then he proceeds to talk to me while he was pissing and while I was in the stall. I wanted to kill him, and it was hard to listen to him when I was constantly saying to myself, "shutthefuckupshutthefuckupshutthefuckup".

Don't fucking talk to me in the bathroom. Am I alone in this preference??

August 7, 2008

The Minister of Common Sense

Welcome to the official site of The Minister of Common Sense. The federal government has commissioned this blog in an attempt to broaden society's appreciation, adoption and practice of common sense in everyday life. Studies have shown that people have increasingly become more and more stupid, and the Minister's task is to correct this trend and improve the efficiencies of society. Given that this epidemic has reached crisis levels, the Minister has been empowered with the ability to push the button on those who won't (or can't) comply.

A special message from The Minister of Common Sense:

"It is my privilege to lead this new initiative. I hope that this blog will educate people, allow them to correct idiocy in their lives, improve the progress of society, and make life better for those of us who are already intelligent. For those who find themselves incapable of conforming, they should remove themselves from society, or I will have to push the button on them."