Thoughts That Hurt to Think #035 – Undeveloped Brains Make Big Decisions!

When science discovered that the typical human brain doesn’t fully develop until about twenty-five years of age, the government did a strange thing. They put restrictions on things like when a person could drink and vote and get married and fight in a war. Makes sense, right? You can’t prosecute someone who isn’t really responsible yet, any more than you can give them the same freedom of choice that you can adults. Where it really goes off the rails is when you look at what ages got assigned for these things.

None of them landed at twenty-five, the age when brain maturity is actually achieved. The drinking age started as a state decision, but the federal government later figured out a way to get around that. Under the threat of losing funding for their highways, every state that let people under twenty-one drink opted for better roads and a higher drinking age. That was in 1984. The year, not the book.

I know, it can be a little difficult to tell them apart. Continue reading “Thoughts That Hurt to Think #035 – Undeveloped Brains Make Big Decisions!”

When the last thing you want to be is you…

For me, thoughts that hurt to think are still fun to write about. That’s the theme for my blog this year, and I sort of hope the reason you’re stopping by is because you have been enjoying them so much. A lot of the knowledge that we all live with can be a little mind-bending, but that doesn’t mean critical thinking should be tossed out just to keep it straight.

I don’t just blog, though; I write books, too. My favorite question of all time, since I first learned what a question was, has always been ‘what if…?’ Those two words can start off infinite endings, with even more questions arising from each answer. Sometimes these thought experiments can teach us things in a way that talking about the real world can’t, and sometimes it takes a while to spell them out properly. Books have always meant a great deal to me; now that I write them, they mean even more. I’ve been known to go on and on about where my ideas come from and how I view my characters, but that’s not what we’re here for.

Today I want to talk about the book I have just completed. Continue reading “When the last thing you want to be is you…”

Thoughts That Hurt to Think #034 – Children Are More Marginalized Than Anyone!

Very few children commit murder.

They don’t wage war, or commit rape, or write ridiculous laws.

All in all, children are the most peaceful and non-violent group that our country can categorize; as our country so likes to do. They’re also more discriminated against than any other group. Continue reading “Thoughts That Hurt to Think #034 – Children Are More Marginalized Than Anyone!”

Thoughts That Hurt to Think #033 – Eating is the New Smoking!

You know all those studies they do on smoking cigarettes, the ones that have been quoted repeatedly until yet another group got marginalized for the thing they enjoy doing? Have you ever noticed the asterisks in the legit ones, or read the information in tiny print at the bottom? I noticed when I was a kid, that there were serious qualifiers on every study I read about how bad smoking is for you.

So, what is the qualifying factor?

I mean…smoking is bad, right?

It turns out that they won’t do tests on people that smoke less than two packs a day, and most of them are actually studying smokers that pound through three packs a day or more. Why the giant qualifier? Most people that smoke keep it around a pack a day, and a lot of smokers go through even less. They don’t include these people in the study, and it’s quite likely because they don’t get the results they’re looking for when they do.

Studies show that statistics are wrong, after all.

Can you imagine what kind of numbers you would get if you specifically followed a group of drivers who only drove when they were extremely drunk, or habitually drove at least thirty miles an hour over all posted speed limits? How many accidents might this reckless group get into while being studied, and how many would die? Would it really be fair to subsequently announce that studies show driving to be particularly dangerous, and mention in tiny print at the bottom that results may vary for sober or slower drivers?

Too much of a stretch?

How about this one?

Not long after this country began to consume food substitutes in favor of actual food, obesity became an epidemic in the United States. It’s hard to tell if it’s sedentary lifestyles or unhealthy eating habits that have become the biggest killer in our country, since the two seem to so often go together. They’ve definitely left smoking in the dust, although obese people that smoke often leave behind family that blame the one instead of the other.

After studies showed that second hand smoke is actually a myth for the most part, the non-smokers felt completely comfortable responding to the news with, “well, it’s still annoying”.

If you don’t like the smell of cigarettes, I understand completely. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked up the hallway to the break room at some site I was working and been unable to approach for the smell wafting toward me. When I have some good reason I’m headed there, I hold my breath and go to wash my hands or get some coffee. I try to pretend I don’t notice that the thing in the microwave smells like death warmed over, even if that’s clearly what it is. I also try not to notice that the person waiting anxiously to consume the thing spewing out the noxious smell is invariably wearing their eating habits clearly under their clothes.

Then I go outside, where I can breathe, and notice that the smoke that I have to walk fifty feet to smell is way more appealing to my senses than whatever was about to get eaten inside. I try not to think of the fact that the only way you can smell something is if tiny particles of it actually find their way inside your nose, as I breathe out something I would never put in my body.

Do you see where this is headed?

Well, we’re not ready to get there just yet.

First we should discuss how hard it is to pass someone who overdoes it with food substitutes in a narrow hallway, or how irritating it is to have half of your seat on a plane or at a theater taken up by someone who weighs twice what you do. It’s easy to cry that the seats should be bigger, and many of them are now; but we can’t dismiss the smells that they put off, or the fact that they’re pretty much blowing it in our faces.

If seats need to be bigger to accommodate one excessive habit, shouldn’t every public place be required to provide a comfortable spot for smokers as well? Or should we just keep marginalizing more groups based on their habits?

Is it time to weigh people before allowing them into restaurants, or on airplanes? Is it time to make them eat outside, so the rest of us don’t have to see or smell the habitual overeaters? We could give them a spot fifty feet from the smokers, to be fair to each group.

One of the reasons that even smokers didn’t mind going outside is because it was seen as so dangerous, according to those studies that tested the only group they could get the results they wanted from. I wondered aloud, even as a kid, why everyone seemed to know two facts that stood in stark contradiction to each other.

“What ethnicity lives the longest, from what you’ve heard?” I would ask people, and still do.

I’m asking you, now.

So far, everyone has said, “Asians.”

“What ethnicity is most known for smoking cigarettes?”

So far, the answer has always been the same.

Does that seem weird, or is it just me?

I mean, is smoking maybe actually good for you?

That’s what an acupuncturist told me, when he was giving me the only treatment that successfully keeps me from getting migraine headaches for a couple weeks. I asked him if there was a treatment for quitting smoking, and he laughed at me.

“Why would you want to do that?” he asked, pulling a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and smiling. “Smoking is good for you.”

When he slipped them back in his pocket, he added something.

“Just don’t overdo it,” he counseled me.

Well, that sounds reasonable.

And, it’s good advice for those who enjoy being sedentary or eating food substitutes. Actually, it’s good advice for almost anyone who enjoys indulging in almost anything.

Just don’t overdo it.

That way, we can all have our little indulgences without imposing the consequences of our overindulging on anyone else. I hate to point out to people packing around a bunch of extra weight that way more smokers live into old age than obese people, and that they are a much smaller burden on healthcare all around…but I will if the subject comes up. Just because one habit has been demonized and the other hasn’t yet, overeaters may consider their attitudes towards smokers as time goes by. Sugar taxes are right on the heels of tobacco taxes, and segregation is right around the corner from fifty feet from the door.

Don’t even get me started on how many athletes smoke, or how few of them are obese. Quality of life coupled with a longer expected life span makes smokers the healthier of these two groups, with less trips to the hospital. And those are just the smokers pounding through multiple packs per day. The studies on people who smoke less don’t even exist, because they don’t support the marginalization of this group or the excessive taxation on their indulgence.

While the number of smokers in America drops, obesity is on the rise. The funny thing is, the only folks I’ve ever seen get really up in arms about smokers have been obese people. Not all obese people are rigid and lacking compassion, obviously; that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying the only people I have seen openly criticizing one oral fixation clearly had an oral fixation of their own. Maybe they sense that the taxes and marginalization is heading their way, and they want to feel superior while they still can.

Very few people in America belong to a group that has not been marginalized at some point in some way. Yet all of us have belonged to the group that gets marginalized more than any other, and few of us look back and feel that we were treated unfairly. Even fewer fight for the rights of this group, since pretty much everyone agrees they should continue to be marginalized. We’ll talk about that next week, in a post called…

‘Children are more marginalized than anyone!’

I hope to see you then!

Thanks for reading!

All the best,

J.K. Norry
The Secret Society of Deeper Meaning
Twitter: @JayNorry

Thoughts That Hurt to Think Bonus Post – Eclipse Blindness is Greatly Exaggerated!

Most of the posts in this series are about things I have thought about pretty much my whole life. I can remember being told I asked too many questions as a kid, by the type of person that doesn’t like thinking thoughts that hurt to think. Yet my mind never stopped questioning, and I continue to hope it never does.

Like this last month, with all the eclipse talk going on. I remember being curious about the difference between a solar and lunar eclipse when I was a kid, and hitting the books to find my answers. It wasn’t until this most recent event that I got to wondering about something else, and luckily all I needed was a good search engine to find answers this time.

You’ve probably heard it your whole life, like I have for mine; but we probably both heard it a lot more in the last few weeks. No one should look at the sun during a solar eclipse, because…well, you know why.

It will blind you!


Well, actually… Continue reading “Thoughts That Hurt to Think Bonus Post – Eclipse Blindness is Greatly Exaggerated!”

Thoughts That Hurt to Think #032 – Patriotism is a Fluid Term!

When settlers first arrived in America, being patriotic meant remaining loyal to the British Empire. That changed pretty quickly, as Americans saw how much that loyalty was costing them. New patriots came forth to fight the old empire, and the country won its freedom due to their efforts. The next batch of patriots were called on to build the country up right, by any means necessary. Some of those means weren’t really necessary, so the next generation of patriots fought for civil rights.

In case you haven’t been counting… Continue reading “Thoughts That Hurt to Think #032 – Patriotism is a Fluid Term!”

Thoughts That Hurt to Think #031 – The Robin Hood Saying is Wrong!

The legend of Robin Hood may actually be a myth, so far as verifiable history can tell. Even if the story is real, it still lives more as a legend in the modern mind. The only real difference between a myth and a legend is that the origin story has some truth to it; otherwise, both are mostly if not entirely made up. So is the case with Robin Hood. You probably already know that he wasn’t a fox, and that he didn’t speak with an American accent; but did you know that pretty much every other element of the story is made up as well?

Nobody called him ‘Robin of Locksley’ until centuries after the man himself had died. That’s because he most likely wasn’t nobility at all. Friar Tuck and Maid Marion are later additions to the original story as well, although nobody tells the tale without including them these days. All we really know about Robin Hood is that he was a skilled archer and swordsman, and that he had quite a beef with the Sheriff of Nottingham.

The rest is pretty much made up. Continue reading “Thoughts That Hurt to Think #031 – The Robin Hood Saying is Wrong!”

Limited Edition Release!

You might come here every week to have fun thinking thoughts that hurt to think with me. If you do, I appreciate it. Blogging has been more enjoyable for me than I thought possible, and this series has taken that to a new level. Last year I wrote a series of blogs called Why I Love to Write, and if you read those posts you already know what I’m about to tell you.

I don’t just write blogs; I also write books. The books called to me first, and I honestly only started writing a blog to gain more visibility for my books. After awhile I realized that I can do different things with each outlet, and that blogging had become almost as rewarding to me as writing books.

Almost. Continue reading “Limited Edition Release!”

Thoughts That Hurt to Think #030 – War Is More Popular Than Ever!

The United States began with a war. Early pioneers were not too keen on taxation without proper representation, so they formed a government and fought a war over it. Modern Americans don’t object to taxation without proper representation nearly as much as they did, but that isn’t the only thing our collective opinion has changed about. Americans yesterday saw fighting a war as the only way to gain their freedom; Americans today are more likely to see war as an inevitability.

How is it that this attitude has changed so much? Continue reading “Thoughts That Hurt to Think #030 – War Is More Popular Than Ever!”

Thoughts That Hurt to Think #029 – We Were Warned This Would Happen!

One of the most terrifying examples of political speeches in America was the farewell address given by its 34th president, Dwight Eisenhower. He warned the public of the dangers of unchecked political power, and called upon the nation’s citizens to keep a close and suspicious eye on their own government in the years to come. Although he was a decorated general, this former president cautioned Americans against the war machine that was being built and the untold dangers that its creation posed.

Rather than quote the speech here, I’ll encourage you to search out the specifics for yourself. The speech was only aired one time, in January of 1961, and all the folks that missed it then really missed out. Thanks to modern technology, full transcripts and even grainy video footage can be viewed online. Although it is often referred to as the ‘Military Industrial Complex’ speech, the commentary is both broad in scope and specific in detail. It warns about many dangers, perhaps the least of them military in nature. It’s also a little chilling. Continue reading “Thoughts That Hurt to Think #029 – We Were Warned This Would Happen!”