Tuesday, March 21

GM video posted

Devin Thorpe, a friend and mentor recently posted a video interview of me (set in one of our garages) on his blog at www.midmarketmaven.com. Devin's blog is a great resource for people interested in Private Equity, Venture Capital, M&A, Entrepreneurship, and business in general.

Saturday, March 18


VIPbloggers.com has officially launched. This is similar to Milliondollarhomepage, in that it sells spaces on the page, which help to generate traffic for your website...especially blogs.

In my opinion there are not enough ways to find quality, relevant blogs. I'm an entrepreneur, so naturally I'm drawn to blogs about business, entrepreneurship, venture capital, private equity, marketing, etc... Well this site lets you randomly roll over the different squares and see pictures/links to different blogs, but the improvement is that there is a search bar, which let's you search each blog for keywords. I've found some entrepreneurs I know on the site, and also other informative blogs.

I plan on buying a spot on the site and I would encourage any bloggers out there to do the same. Together we can create a comprehensive source for finding relevant blogs and build our online communities. It only costs $10 for the first 6 month beta period. Most PPC sites will charge $0.50 per click, so why not bet on 20 leads over the next 6 months and drop $10 on VIPbloggers.com?

Saturday, December 31

Why be an entrepreneur?

I know why I get up every morning to take on the challenges of an entrepreneur, but it is nice to know what gets one of my good friends and partners going. Will Allred added a few of his reasons to Inc.com's list of 75 reasons to be an entrepreneur. This is what it's all about. If anyone out there is weighing the decision, let this push you over to our side of the fence.

Don't worry, be happy

Although I've always disliked the prevalent biases found in the New York Times, I found a good New Year's article by Timothy Wilson. It's alright, don't think twice. Apparently, studies find that over-self-analyzation can be psychologically detrimental. This, being the time of year to reflect upon one's actions and relationships, one can easily fall into the trap of thinking oneself into discouragement and disillusionment. The bottom line? Just take things as they come. If you want to change something in your life, just do it. Forget the hours of analization and list writing. Good luck!

Friday, December 30

iPod endorsement

Always the Apple cult member, I've gotta say that my new blackiPod 60GB is the coolest toy since transformers came out with the constructobots that attached to each other to form one huge megabot. I think that was 1985. It took twenty years, but Apple finally one-upped it. Sure there's the coolness factor due to the sleek new design and black face, but the tech features are endless. The only thing it lacks is the ability to make a phone call or get email. But that shouldn't take Apple long.

It's hard to believe that 60GB will even fit in my pocket, but I've done everything from the treadmill to hitting the back country on the ski slopes with it. Worried about dropping it? Forget about it, the new iPods have a sensor that tells it if it is in a free fall, automatically shutting off the hard disk so that no memory is susceptible to corruption on impact.

The screens resolution is astounding. I have a couple dozen music videos (everything from Michael Jackson to Kanye West), some home video clips, Anchorman (more DVD's being ripped as I write), and 2500 digital pictures. All this and I haven't even come close to filling up those 60GB. I could put all 50 DVD's I own on there and still have room for much more.

I opened up the hard disk and now I use it to back up my 12" Powerbook G4. I almost felt bad introducing my laptop to the new iPod, knowing that the iPod has as much disk space in about 1/20th of the size. But the two make good companions.

So anyway, the bottom line is this--go buy the new iPod. It's worth the $369 I spent after my BYU discount...and heck, they're offering 90 days same as cash = )

Thursday, September 8

Call Out

The Ogden Valley Triathlon is coming up on September 17. My business partner Will Allred challenged me to race. Despite my almost embarrassing current physical condition, I agreed.

If you guys want in, just register online.

I hope to see you there. I will try to post some pics if I don't drown in the first leg.

Friday, September 2

Lemonade Diet...revisited??/

So I was reading my weekly traffic report and noticed a spike in traffic yesterday. The crazy thing is that the apparent cause of this upswing was an increased interest in my post about the Lemonade Diet back in January.

I'm guessing some already anorexic Hollywood nutcase credited her "success" to the Lemonade Diet, which sent millions of people to scour the web in search of more details. I hope I didn't disappoint them =)

Monday, August 8

Garage Mahal

Garage Mahal

I've been a slacker of a blogger for several months now. I promise to change. For those of you who aren't aware of what has been keeping me busy, I have been caught up in a few other ventures. Garage Mahal, my primary focus for the past months, is a custom garage organization and design company. We specialize in higher-end themed garages. We manufacture cabinetry, storage and organization solutions, and combine that with flooring, lighting, paint and themed accessories for a complete garage solution.

Other activities the past month or two have been Zipfo, a trip to China, and putting my my time on other portfolio companies (Hirevue, Firepoll, Agile Studios, and Caljitsu--which hasn't really been named yet).

Stay posted, I will have more to follow.

Monday, June 20

I'm back

My blogging has been non-existent over the past month. Sorry about that. Entrepreneurship is more and more time consuming as deals progress. I will do my best to post more regularly...

Friday, April 29

Keep in touch with customers

Case 1: Wendy's

In November 2004 I personally spent close to $300 at Wendy's. That may not sound like a lot, but not many people spend $300 in aggregate monthly food expenditures--total. People around me got sick of me talking about how great the Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers tasted compared to McDonald's, or how much better their chicken nuggets are. In addition, I was a major proponent of their $0.99 menu, which finally gave customers decent options for under a buck. I read in QSR Magazine, how Wendy's was the best rated drive through service among quick-service restaurants. In my eyes, and in the ears of those around me, Wendy's was positioned to take over the world. Once again, greedy corporate executives (completely out of touch with their customers) decided they had enough of a stronghold to in the market to shake off a few customers when raising their prices. JBC's went up 30%...and enough other menu items went up to make them rename their 99 cent menu the 'value' menu. Pretty hard to convince customers that the new, higher prices were really a value. To top off their woes, a faithful Wendy's customer made international news headlines with the finding of a human finger in a bowl of chili. What happens with the investigation won't really matter... the damage has been done. Not only am I less appetized to eat there, but I sure as hell am not willing to pay 30% more for the worsening food, and lack of English-speaking drive through attendants.

Case 2: Wal-Mart

If you can't tell from Case 1, I eat out a LOT. Last night, I decided to start eating more healthy food, which warranted my first trip to the grocery store in about a year. I went to Wal-Mart because I wanted to look at a few non-grocer items. After about 2 hours of figuring out what I wanted, and where to find it, I proceeded to the check-out line. I waited for 5 minutes and then realized i exceeded the 20-item-limit posted on the tiny sign above this register. I conformingly repositioned myself in a new line and waited another 10 minutes. When I got to the front of the line, I was informed that they were accepting only cash or checks, since the debit/credit machines weren't working. The girl claimed it was a "network" problem and that none of the other local stores' credit machines were working either. Completely surprised and bothered, I walked out leaving all my groceries on the check-out conveyor belt. I could have paid the $5.00 in fees and used the ATM, but it was the principle that bothered me. No one had bothered to tell me this on the way in the store and I subsequently wasted half my evening. On the way out, I noticed a fat, shy, unkept, old woman standing near the door...she half-whispered to 1 of the 15 people walking in that they wouldn't be able to pay with a credit card...after some confusion he figured out what she was saying through her decaying teeth and left about the same time as I did. About the "network" problem...I went to Smith's down the street and paid with my Debit card...no problems. I will probably NEVER shop at Wal-Mart again. I'm only 1 of millions of customers...but I think it matters.

Case 3: Costa Vida...or Azul... or Vida... I'm not sure how abut Costa Suck

Utah is known for its blatant knock-off attempts on quality companies. A local success is Cafe Rio. Hands down the best mexican food money can buy north of the border. Oversized burritos and salads, filled with top-notch ingredients made Cafe Rio one of the most profitable restaurant chains I have ever seen. I commonly waited in a standing line for over an hour to get mine. Well, true to their colors, not-so-creative Utahns have knocked off Cafe Rio in several chains: Bajio's, and Costa 'Suck' are two of the ones I've been to. I would like to put a little negative PR out there about Costa 'Suck'...They recently opened up a new location at the Gateway (downtown SLC), which is right next to my office. I have been there twice and been disappointed both times. Each time, the people in the food line have totally skimped me and my friends. The first time, I said nothing and ate what seemed to be a half-Cafe Rio knock-off salad for a dollar more. The second time, my friend asked for extra meat and they said he would be charged for it. They tried to nail him for $2.00 extra and still gave less meat and toppings than Cafe Rio. Listen! If you are going to blatantly copy someone else's creativity and try to profit from it... you better do it as good or better. Costa 'Suck' lost 5 would-be regulars (minimum 3 visits/week) all because management put the fear of God into those people about being stingy on meat... Try a little common sense, or at least don't make it so obvious by taking meat out when the first scoop looks like too much. Come on. Oh...I almost forgot...Costa 'Suck' just changed its name from Azul to Vida...try picking a name and sticking with it. Brand consistency is usually a good thing=)

This frustration comes from my perspective as a business founder. Dave Thomas would roll over in his grave if he knew what the current executives have done with his baby. Sam Walton would be appalled at the lack of qualified employees and poor customer service in his establishment. The founder of Cafe Rio is probably laughing all the way to the bank after selling his chain, only to see wannabe's struggling to do simple things that made him successful. Maybe some of you were not in on the founding of your business...maybe you haven't caught the vision of what your company is trying to do...maybe you are just lazy and have no sense of responsibility or loyalty...perhaps you are trying and failing...Look... live up to the vision and expectation set by the founder of your business. Do things right... don't take short-cuts...don't get greedy, and you will thrive!

Friday, April 15


So, I've decided to experiment around with Adsense on my blog. I didn't want any of you to think I'm really trying to profit off this. The $0.30 I expect to earn a day probably won't impact my financial situation, but I wanted to get a feel for what it's like to work with Google, and how much revenue can be generated at different traffic levels.

If you have any insight on this, let me know...

PS>I'll be in San Diego this weekend sitting on the beach. Don't be bitter if I don't post:)


Some things in this world are just ridiculous...

One thing that bothers me is the rampant misuse of perfectly good domain names. One of the startups I am running is a higher-end garage solution company. We build the coolest custom cabinetry around, design a functional, hobby-specific layout, including flooring, paint, fixtures, etc... turning any garage into much more than a place to park your car.

The name we had sort of settled on is Garage Mahal. If you follow the link you will understand my dissonance. Unfortunately, one stupid choice by some lame photographer in naming his website has become just another obstacle around which this entrepreneur is forced to maneuver.

Wednesday, April 13

What are you worth?

So, according to www.humanforsale.com I am worth $3,342,530.00.

I am not sure how the metrics work, but it asks questions about your IQ, height, weight, dental health, creativity, and other factors.

I've decided to sell myself for that price. I'll do anything for a day for just over 3 1/3 million dollars... Let the bidding begin :)

Tuesday, April 5

Facetiousness defined: a response to an idiotic comment

Just because someone in this world is actually naive enough not to fully understand, I would like to say a little something about facetiousness. First let me give Webster's definition:

Facetious: 1. not meant to be taken seriously or literally. 2. amusing; humorous. 3. characterized by a lack of serious intent; concerned with that which is non-essential, amusing, or frivolous.

In case that didn't drive the point home, let me point out a few obvious indicators of facetiousness or sarcasm. When a person makes a very bold, controversial statement followed by a smiley face, one would typically understand the statement to be facetious.

Typically such facetiousness is better understood in context. For example, let's take a person (like myself) who is known for placing great value on things such as: charitable organizations, understanding people, religion, faith, politics, education, etc (Those are all topics of previous blogs... not to mention the priorities laid out in my post on my Life Plan). When that person places an overemphasis on something like MONEY it is more than likely that such a statement was intended to be taken facetiously (did I mention the smiley?).

Well, I am really giving this more attention than it merits. The truth is any coward who can idiotically and anonymously criticize a blogger's facetious assertion probably has too much time and too few personal endowments with which to make use of it.

Thursday, March 31

Apparently... love is not necessarily the answer

I had an interesting thought today while sitting at the Sales Intelligence Summit 2005.

It was extremely insightful. I would encourage anyone in sales or business management to try and attend next year's.

So I was looking around the room at the various individuals present. Women, men, old, young, fat, thin, tall, harry, and from all different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I thought to myself...with all the hatred, division, disputation and disparate thought in this world, what could bring all these people together in such a peaceful setting?

My skin began to tingle...chills went down my spine...my hair stood up...tears began to swell in my eyes...I had my answer!

It wasn't love, service, religion, or brotherhood. It wasn't a political move... It wasn't altruistic in nature.

No, the one element in life that crosses all borders and penetrates every soul on earth is none other than my personal best friend....MONEY.

Everyone in that room recognized the necessity and utility associated with money, and everyone in there had flown planes, driven cars, cancelled meetings and joined together in search of more.

What a wonderful world :-)

Wednesday, March 16

Firepoll is ready

Check it out! firepoll.com

This is going to revolutionize the way opinion research is performed. No more waiting for a week or longer to get results on lame, outdated services such as...well we won't do any name-dropping, but you online survey companies know who you are.

How does it work?
1. Consumers (panelists) download the client from www.firepoll.com
2. They enter their demographic information so they can be matched with surveys
3. Panelists are invited to take surveys and told ahead of time what their reward will be
4. Panelists take streaming surveys while marketers watch results come back in real-time
5. We send panelists rewards instantly

Give it a shot. If you join our panel today you can participate in our Beta-stage surveys. Everyone else will have to wait to get their rewards.

Thursday, February 24

Understanding people

Kofi Annan wrote: "We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race."

Tom Peters: "The magic formula that successful businesses have discovered is to treat customers like guests and employees like people."

Robert Schuller: "As we grow as unique persons, we learn to respect the uniqueness of others."

Great people understand that life is a series of dealings with others. People I consider great, treat each new person like the most important person they've ever met...

Junto 2005

I was down in Provo, visiting BYU with Greg Warnock tonight. He was speaking on entrepreneurship and talked about Junto. He will accept applications through Thursday 2-24-05 for the next couple groups.

As one of the original Junto members, I have to re-emphasize how great an opportunity this is for young entrepreneurs... I would do it all over again, even without pay or equity.

If you think you have what it takes check out the article in Connect Magazine titled The Ride of Your Life.

For more details on the program go to juntopartners.com.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 23

Slow start?

I like to feel that starting my first 'real' company at age 24 is pretty aggressive... In comparison to Warren Buffet, I may be a decade behind pace:

His first investment was in real estate. At the age of 14, with savings from his two paper routes, he spent $1200 on 40 acres of Nebraska farmland, which he leased to a tenant farmer.

That experience in 1944 was a great head-start to set the stage for his last 61 years of investing genius...

Tuesday, February 22

Invest in Yourself

The Greeks highly valued a principle called arete--the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of life and in all disciplines. Arete is the art of self-improvement.

Jim Rohn says, "Work harder on yourself than you do in your job." He also says, "Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune."

By dedicating yourself to lifelong learning, there's no limit to how much better you can make yourself. In doing so, you increase the value you bring to the marketplace. As Buckminster Fuller said, "You can't learn less."

Tony Robbins: "If we habitually focus on how to improve things that are already great, can you see how this spirit can transform ourselves, our organizations, families and communities?"

Jack Welch: "I was afraid of the internet because I couldn't type."

Stephen King: "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write."

One book that my partner, Will Allred, gave me spoke about the importance of reading. Check out "Love is the Killer App"...it's a good read.

Monday, February 21

Miracle at Philadelphia (excerpt)

Old Dr. Franklin, sitting with the famous double spectacles low on his nose, now broke silence; he had said little these past days. Addressing himself to Washington in the chair--"The small progress we have made," Franklin said, "after four or five weeks close attendance and continual reasonings with each other--our different sentiments on almost every question...producing almost as many noes and ayes, as methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those republics which, having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist. And we have viewed modern states all round Europe, but find none of their constitutions suitable to our circumstances.

"In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?" Franklin here reminded the convention how at the beginning of the war with England, the Continental Congress had had prayers for divine protection--and in this very room. "Our prayers, Sir, were heard," said Franklin, "and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend?...I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth--that God governs in the affairs of men.

The Great Debate (pg 125)

Wednesday, February 16

Detest mediocrity

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered with failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows no victory nor defeat."--Theodore Roosevelt

Larry's Advice

When at BYU, I took a class in entrepreneurship from Utah Jazz Owner and respected businessman, Larry H. Miller. This is a list he gave me of advice and favorite sayings:

Larry's Advice:
1. The only stupid question is an unasked question
2. Even more important than the will to win is the will to prepare to win.
3. You don't have to blow out the other person's candle to let your own shine.
4. Don't make a bad deal just to make a deal.
5. Keep money in perspective.
6. Be patient.
7. Life is a journey, not a destination.
8. Play to your own strengths.
9. Trust your instincts. You have within you abilities to deal with everything you will need to.
10. Manage business at the level of business you're actually doing, not the level you wish you were doing.
11. Learn not to confuse the elements of motion and progress. Progress always requires motion, but motion isn't always progress.

Some Favorite Sayings:
A. Are we mortal beings having a spiritual experience, or are we spiritual beings having a mortal experience?
B. When the student is prepared, the teacher will appear.
C. Children are the messengers we send to a time we'll never see.
D. When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.
E. If we were charged with being followers of Jesus Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

Thursday, February 10

Team Building 101

As a young entrepreneur, I've had to learn a little about team-building. This skill is necessary to recruit highly skilled and experienced individuals whom you can't necessarily afford to pay a lofty salary.

The first step is to recognize what skills you're missing. This can take form of an introspective SWAT analysis. For me, unfortunately, I may have many more W's than I often lead myself to believe.

The next step is to place a value on those missing skills/qualities--based on their relative impact on the growth and value of the company.

Once you have placed a value on those factors, it's time to go shopping...

You can find quality people all around, though some skills may be harder to come by. It's important to realize that the rarer those skills are, the more valuable they are to you... don't be stingy in rewarding people for their significant contributions.

You may not be able to recruit the level of experience you are looking for, so here is a list of universal attributes I seek in hiring people who can step up and fill those roles:

1) Brilliance (SAT of 1200 or better)
2) Compulsiveness (passionate and able to hyper-focus on a single objective)
3) Interesting (someone who adds diversity, creativity, and makes you like to be around them)

This brings us to the last step--incentivizing those individuals to adopt your vision. It's a question of motivating forces. You are not limited to dangling carrots in front of their eyes.

Here are some things that might motivate your target partners:

1. Freedom from a cubicle based job in corporate slavery
2. The potential to build something great
3. Have fun working with great people
4. Altruism--the belief that their skills and talents will make a difference in the world
5. Learn a new side of business through experience in a startup
6. You...if they like you enough, they will want you to succeed
7. The potential for a valuable equity position later on
8. Pride...give them a reason to prove their abilities
9. Spite...your company is a way for them to fight a market competitor they may not like
10. Optimism...instill a vision so strong that they are not concerned about what is in it for them

As you start to build your team today, remember that each venture is just a stepping stone to the next bigger and better deal. Get the people around you sold on your vision for the long-run and keep them on board by rewarding them for their loyalty.

Monday, January 31

Life-changing opportunity--Junto 2005

They say 8 of 10 high school students aspire to owning their own companies. Interesting statistic considering I challenge whether 80% of people rightly graduate from high school, let alone receive a college education.

In my opinion, however, there is no greater or nobler career than that of the entrepreneur. Upon his back rests the weight of the economy. More people in the U.S. are employed by small businesses than large. An entrepreneur faces risk, discouragement, loneliness and negativism all around. He must persist, persuade, invent, adapt, and mold resources (that he often does not possess) to create jobs and build a viable, lasting company. The entrepreneur has to recruit and inspire qualified people. He has to build a corporate culture of integrity, honesty, hard work and cooperation. An entrepreneur is outlived by his vision, which takes root in the hearts of his successors.

The founding fathers were entrepreneurs, as were the many religious leaders in every dispensation of time. Pioneers, explorers, inventors, composers, artisans, authors--all of these people confronted innumerable obstacles to realize their visions.

Entrepreneurs--you know who you are. You can feel it inside. There is a sense of calling from within. Deep inside you, the weight of this responsibility makes an urgent call to action. Unsure of how or when you will begin this quest, you are optimistic that your chance is just around the corner--ready when you are.

For me, that opportunity came early 2004, when I received an invitation to compete for a spot in Junto, where I would be educated, mentored and given funds to begin my lifelong pursuit as an entrepreneur. If you have what it takes, that opportunity is now extended to you. Check out the link below for details. Good luck!
Junto 2005 Press Release

Thursday, January 20


Follow the link to CharityDates.org. This is just some little idea I had of how we might be able to help people around the world. I believe in the responsibility each of us has to make the most of his talents in doing good. By small and simple means, great things come to pass. Check out what we've begun and contribute in any way you can. Let's make a difference!


Monday, January 17

Life Plan

This week I was lucky enough to attend a very insightful summit on private equity. It was the University Private Equity Summit hosted by the University of Utah. Among the guest panelists and speakers were world-class entrepreneurs, Angel Investors, and Venture Capitalists (controlling a combined sum of over $95 billion worldwide).

Speakers that impressed me include: Overstock's Patrick Byrne, RC Willey's Bill Child, Mike Murray of Unitus, and Joel Peterson. Joel, founder of Peterson Capital, Lead Director at Franklin Covey, and professor at Stanford University, spoke on building a Life Plan (see link through this post's title). This is much like a Business Plan, but maps out and operationalizes the core goals of our lives. I was inspired to follow this counsel and began the next day. It is getting lengthy, but I thought I'd post the 10 most important goals from my Life Plan. Now the world will hold me accountable.

10. Travel the World
9. Own a Major League Baseball Franchise
8. Continue a lifelong formal and informal education
7. Provide meaningful service to my country
6. Make a lasting impact on world poverty
5. Master self-discipline by cultivating my talents
4. Serve to the best of my ability in church callings
3. Raise passionate children
2. Become a worthy, honorable husband
1. Live in a way so I can meet Christ without shame or regret

costa rica

Just thought I'd post some pictures from my holiday trip to Costa Rica. One of the coolest places I've been. Great surfing, amazing rainforests--tons of wildlife and vegetation. The water is clean, food is cheap, people are friendly. What more could you ask for.

High above the valley

Smiling upside down

750 meter zipline

Sunday, January 9

Lemonade Diet

After graduating last summer from BYU, I, Clint Carlos, have become one of the many victims to deskitis. This disease is impacting the lives of millions of Americans and its effects have become universally recognizable. Symptoms include: excessive inflammation around the hips; severe expansion below the frontal ribs; increased occasion of heavy breathing and profuse sweating. In other words, lovehandles, fatty gut, and being out of shape. I may not have been hit that hard, but there's no hiding the detriment to my physique.

Being fed up with the downward trend I had been observing in the mirror, I decided to join with my business partners and do something about it. We heard about a treatment called "The Master Cleanse" aka "The Lemonade Diet" (http://thelemonadediet.com/). Rumor had it people typically lose 2 lbs per diem on it. They come off it sleeping better, digesting better, feeling calmer, healthier in general, and facing fewer addictions than when they started. The catch is how much you give up to experience those results. For 10 or more days, eating of any sort is not allowed. The diet calls for drinking about 10 glasses of a specially mixed drink (including lemons, maple syrup and cayenne pepper) per day--only.

Well to make a long story short, I'm over 4 days into the diet. I haven't been as hungry as I had imagined. As I begun the diet I was coming down with a sinus infection. The diet purged it over a couple dreadful days as the toxins were released. I feel better now, but today the real dilemma took place.

I was at costco with nothing but the good intentions of buying lemons and maple syrup at a reduced price. Lo and behold, those sneaky old ladies were there offering samples galore. It was hell. I passed on the pizza pockets, the chicken nuggets, the cinnamon rolls, the diet cola, the popcorn, the pretzels and the rotisserie chicken...and then there it was. Progresso vegetable soup. It looked warm and tasty and--best of all--wouldn't do much harm to my now sensitive stomach. I cracked under pressure and took the sample. Within a few seconds it was over. I had compromised my values; I had given in. I had justified it completely. Afterall, it was only liquid, I was behind on my daily allotted quantity and I had already suffered through a sinus infection--I deserved it!

The question I pose to you all is, "Am I justified in this exception or have I fully compromised this diet by today's slip?" FOr consistency's sake, let's suppose I stay true the remaining 6 days. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 27

Fate of the Nation

This was written in the Daily Record (Ellensburg's paper) on Wed. Oct. 6, 2004. It was written by Mathew (only one t) Manweller who is a Central Washington University political science professor. The title of the article was "Election determines fate of nation."

"In that this will be my last column before the presidential election there will be no sarcasm, no attempts at witty repartee. The topic is too serious, and the stakes are too high.

This November we will vote in the only election during our lifetime that will truly matter. Because America is at a once-in-a-generation crossroads, more than an election hangs in the balance. Down one path lies retreat, abdication and a reign of ambivalence. Down the other lies a nation that is aware of its past and accepts the daunting obligation its future demands. If we choose poorly, the consequences will echo through the next 50 years of history. If we, in a spasm of frustration, turn out the current occupant of the White House, the message to the world and ourselves will be twofold. First, we will reject the notion that America can do big things. Once a nation that tamed a frontier, stood down the Nazis and stood upon the moon, we will announce to the world that bringing democracy to the Middle East is too big of a task for us. But more significantly, we will signal to future presidents that as voters, we are unwilling to tackle difficult challenges, preferring caution to boldness, embracing the mediocrity that has characterized other civilizations.

The defeat of President Bush will send a chilling message to future presidents who may need to make difficult, yet unpopular decisions. America has always been a nation that rises to the demands of history regardless of the costs or appeal. If we turn away from that legacy, we turn away from who we are.

Second, we inform every terrorist organization on the globe that the lesson of Somalia was well learned. In Somalia we showed terrorists that you don't need to defeat America on the battlefield when you can defeat them in the newsroom. They learned that a wounded America can become a defeated America. Twenty-four-hour news stations and daily tracing polls will do the heavy lifting, turning a cut into a fatal blow. Except that Iraq is Somalia times 10. The election of John Kerrywill serve notice to every terrorist in every cave that the soft underbelly of American power is the timidity of American voters. Terrorists will know that a steady stream of grizzly photos for CNN is all you need to break the will of the American people. Our own self-doubt will take it from there. Bin Laden will recognize that he can topple any American administration without setting foot on the homeland.

It is said that America's W.W.II generation is its 'greatest generation.' But my greatest fear is that it will become known as America's 'last generation.' Born in the bleakness of the Great Depression and hardened in the fire of WW II, they may be the last American generation that understands the meaning of duty, honor and sacrifice. It is difficult to admit, but I know these terms are spoken with only hollow detachment by many (but not all) in my generation. Too many citizens today mistake 'living in America' as 'being an American.' But America has always been more of an idea than a place. When you sign on, you do more than buy real estate. You accept a set of values and responsibilities.

This November, my generation, which has been absent too long, must grasp the obligation that comes with being an American, or fade into the oblivion they may deserve. I believe that 100 years from now historians will look back at the election of 2004 and see it as the decisive election of our century. Depending on the outcome, they will describe it as the moment America joined the ranks of ordinary nations; or they will describe it as the moment the prodigal sons and daughters of the greatest generation accepted their burden as caretakers of the City on
the Hill."

Mathew Manweller

Friday, October 15

Religion is Reasonable

We have always had atheists among us,” the philosopher Edmund Burke wrote in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, “but now they have grown turbulent and seditious.”  It seems that in our own day some prominent atheists are agitating for greater political and social influence.   In this connection, leading atheist thinkers have been writing articles declaring that they should no longer be called “atheists.”  Rather, they want to be called “brights.”

Yes, “brights,” as in “I am a bright.”  In a recent article in the New York Times, philosopher Daniel Dennett defined a bright as “a person with a naturalist as opposed to a supernaturalist world view.”  Dennett added that “we brights don’t believe in ghosts or elves or the Easter bunny or God.”  Dennett’s implication was clear: brights are the smart people who don’t fall for silly superstitions.

Writing in the British newspaper The Guardian, Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, a leading defender of Darwinism, also identified himself as a bright and called on other atheists and agnostics to embrace the term and to mobilize as a political movement.  Like Dennett, Dawkins defined a bright as one who espouses “a world view that is free of supernaturalism and mysticism.”  Dawkins couldn’t help mentioning that most scientists and intellectuals are brights.  Religious people, he implied, can be found among the ranks of the less intelligent.

Clearly Dennett and Dawkins, like many atheists, are confident that atheists are simply brighter—more rational—than religious believers.  Their assumption is: we nonbelievers employ critical reason while the theists rely on blind faith.  But Dennett and Dawkins, for all their credentials and learning, have been duped by a fallacy.  This may be called the Fallacy of the Enlightenment, and it was first pointed out by the philosopher Immanuel Kant.

The Fallacy of the Enlightenment is the glib assumption that there is only one limit to what human beings can know, and that limit is reality itself.  In this view, widely held by atheists, agnostics, and other self-styled rationalists, human beings can continually find out more and more until eventually there is nothing more to discover.  Advocates of the Enlightenment Fallacy insist that knowledge of reality can be obtained by reason alone, and that reason can science can, in principle, unmask the whole of reality.

In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant showed that these assumptions are false.  In fact, he argued, there is a much greater limit to what human beings can know.  To understand what Kant is getting at, consider the example of a tape recorder.  A tape recorder, being the kind of instrument it is, can only capture one mode or representation of reality.  It can only capture sound.  Tape recorders can only “hear,” they cannot see or touch or smell.  Thus all aspects of reality that cannot be captured in sound are completely and forever beyond the reach of a tape recorder.

The same, Kant argued, is true of human beings.  The only way that we apprehend reality is through our five senses.  If a tape recorder represents reality in a single mode, human beings can perceive reality through five different modes: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.  But why should we believe, Kant asked, that our five-mode instrument for apprehending reality is sufficient for capturing all of reality?  What makes us think that there is no reality that goes beyond, that simply cannot be apprehended by, our five senses? 

Kant persuasively noted that there is no reason whatsoever for us to believe that we can know everything that exists.  Indeed what we do know, Kant said, we know only through the refracted filter of our experience.   Kant argued that we cannot even be sure that our experience of a thing is the same as the thing-in-itself.   After all, we see in pretty much the same way that a camera does, and yet who would argue that a picture of a boat is the same thing as a boat?

Kant isn’t arguing against the validity of perception or science or reason.  He is simply showing their significant limits.  These limits cannot be erased by the passage of time or by further investigation and experimentation.  Rather, the limits on reason are intrinsic to the kind of beings that humans are, and to the kind of apparatus that we possess for perceiving reality.  The implication of Kant’s argument is that reality as a whole is, in principle, inaccessible to human beings.   Put another way, there is a great deal that human beings will simply never know.  

Notice that Kant’s argument is entirely secular: it does not employ any religious vocabulary, nor does it rely on any kind of faith.  But in showing the limits of reason, Kant’s philosophy “opens the door to faith,” as the philosopher famously noted.

If Dawkins and Dennett have produced refutations of Kant that have eluded the philosophical community, they should share them with the rest of us.  But until then, they and other like-minded atheists should refrain from the ignorant boast that atheism operates on a higher intellectual plane than theism.  Rather, as Kant showed, reason must know its limits in order to be truly reasonable.  The atheist foolishly presumes that reason is in principle capable of figuring out all that there is, while the theist at least knows that there is a reality greater than, and beyond, that which our senses and our minds can ever apprehend. 

This article, in a slightly different form, appeared in the Wall Street Journal.  For comments, write Dinesh D’Souza at thedsouzas@aol.com.

Monday, September 27


Welcome to my blog!

For those new to blogging, this is a forum to post any of your thoughts about current issues. You can add your own post, comment on someone else's or just log on to see what others have to say. I'm open for politics, religion, relationships, business, insightful reading, travel stories, sports news, etc. etc. etc. Nothing is taboo..
If you would like to leave a post, email me and I'll add you to the member list. Otherwise you can leave a comment at any time.