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A. If you could get away with one murder in your lifetime without any legal, social, or emotional repercussions, would you kill someone?
- Like most people, I guess, my first instinct is the personal (my ex-boss) or the noble (Joseph Kony) but I know myself well enough to say that I probably wouldn’t take the opportunity; I’m not really that kind of person. Unless someone cut me off in traffic. Or hogged the left lane doing 45 freaking MPH. OK, maybe I’m not as noble as I like to think. Also, I can hypothesize no legal or social repercussions, but no emotional blow back? I can’t even imagine that being the case with me, so maybe the answer should be "n/a".
B. What is your first thought when you receive a message on your blog, are you excited for the idea of someone from potentially the other side of the world wanting to talk to you or fearful that someone will criticize you?
- Both, actually. To have a stranger feel something you posted is worth commenting on is gratifying, and it’s one of the chief reasons that blogs exist (mine, anyway). I try to write carefully so I can usually defend what I write, here or on FB or on other blogs, so I don’t really fear criticism too much. But I have on occasion screwed up, commented in haste and received scorn in reply. I’ll admit that my feelings were hurt, but the realization that my comment was stupid and that the scorn might be justified probably hurt more.
C. Have you ever looked down on someone because you thought your religious views were superior?
- Yes. As an atheist, I struggle to respect the deep religious feelings of otherwise rational people. Vague spirituality is hard to debunk, but folks who believe that all the rules, miracles and parables in the bible of their particular sub-set of monotheism were handed down word for word by some almighty god…well I’m sorry, I can’t follow you there. As Mencken said: "We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."
D. Would you rather know everything the universe has to offer but in exchange lose all emotions or remain the way you are now?
- Easy. I’ll keep my emotions. Without emotions, how could sheer knowledge make me happy? Emotions are what makes us human. My particular stew of emotions, unstable as they may be, is what makes me me. No love, no happiness, no lust, no empathy? Even fear, despair and jealousy (in moderation) are building blocks of human nature. Thanks, but I am used to being me by now. And I can usually find out what I need to know on Wikipedia.
E. If you could live and be healthy without sleeping or eating/drinking, which would you cut out of your life?
- If I didn’t have to eat/drink, I might gain two hours per day. Without sleep, my life would effectively increase by 33%. Eating and drinking can be the most social of activities, time well spent with friends and loved ones. Sleep is solitary and unproductive, except for the health issue. I would cut sleep.
F. If you could take on the exact body and form of anyone else on Earth, who would it be?
- Assuming that I would be bringing my own personality, knowledge and life experiences along with me, I would inhabit the healthy and athletic body of a handsome young eighteen year old just as he was about to leave his moderately affluent family to attend a large, well regarded urban college. With the perspective of my 65 year old mind, I would work to obtain good grades while meeting as many interesting people and having as many varied experiences as possible. I would work my way to a life of opportunity, happily swapping monetary gain for freedom to live and travel wherever I want.
G. Would you rather burn or freeze to death?
- I’ve read of an outdoorsman who ended his life by climbing a mountain in winter, leaning against a tree, drinking a bottle of hootch and exposing himself to the elements. The description made it seem uncomfortable, but relatively painless. Burning alive hurts a lot. Dying in a fire is a nightmare scenario. It’s freezing to death, no contest.
H. If it meant it would solve all world hunger, war, disease and bigotry, would you spend the rest of eternity in Hell?
- Sure. I don’t believe in hell so there is only upside for heroic noble Jeff. You’re welcome, world.
I. Was the first crush in your life something you had or something someone had on you?
- I had it bad. I was about 12. She didn’t know I was alive and I was way too shy to change it. It was for about 3 months. Thanks for dredging that up.
J. Could you live without having sex ever (again) in exchange for eternal youth?
- Two things come to mind. First, without sex much of the appeal of eternal youth is gone. Yes, I’m shallow, but really, what’s the point? And second, the "eternal" part scares me. Are we talking about a young, attractive, healthy Jeff floating alone in the void of interstellar space for eons after the sun vaporizes the solar system and then eventually extinguishes? If not, how does an eternally young person ever die? And if you could still die, wouldn’t you become obsessed with a totally risk-free lifestyle since you would have potentially thousands of years of "youth" to protect. Short answer, no. There is a reason we have finite lifespans.
K. Have you ever watched a full length pornographic movie?
- Possibly, but if you actually need more than the first ten minutes or so, get a better movie.
L. The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
- Stones. Yeah, I do know that the Beatles were the best and I do have all their music and John was a god…but if push comes to shove, it’s the Stones. "Sister Morphine" for example, and about 60 more. On a desert isle give me "Let It Bleed", "Sticky Fingers" and "Beggars Banquet" over any Beatles album.
M. If you could have the ability to manipulate matter or energy, which would you choose?
- Probably matter because it seems more useful to be able to will gold into existence and ride across the sky on a levitated carpet. Controlling energy would be cool as a weapon (lightning bolts, heat rays, etc) but, a life of making valuable stuff out of dirt seems more fun than terrorizing the earth or even being a superhero. But, I might be dissuaded.
N. What was the worst nightmare you ever had?
- I don’t have them, or at least I don’t remember any. I will often have some pretty screwy, partially remembered, surrealistic dreams, but I’ve been lucky enough not to have any real scary stuff that I can recall.
O. Would you rather spend one year with your one true love just to never see them again or the rest of your life with second best?
- Depends on the difference between first and second place. If it was a close second, then I would happily choose quantity and avoid the ache of losing #1. If it wasn’t really close, I would go along with "It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all". Again, I have also been pretty lucky in not needing to choose.
P. All the sequels/remakes/adaptations/rip-offs in movies nowadays, good or bad?
- I would say it’s a bad thing since the number of sequels or remakes that I thought were even decent, never mind superior, is pretty small. But they can make all the "Transformers" and "Ironmans" they want as long as there is still room for "Slumdog Millionaire", "The Artist" and "Hugo" to be made.
Q. Would you rather be dirt poor and emotionally fulfilled in life or be rich beyond imagination and emotionally dissatisfied for life?
- No brainer. Rich and miserable or poor and happy? Happy wins every time.
R. Do you have any (secret) feelings of bigotry to any group of people?
- Yes, I don’t really hate any group, but I’ve noticed I do tend to prefer people who are like me. At a boxing match, I will root for the Irish guy over the Italian, the white guy over the black and the black guy from Boston over the white guy from Philly. I can feel a vague affinity for whomever triggers some emotional connection over someone slightly more removed from my own experience. I think it’s genetic that everyone feels a bit more comfortable around people from their own cohort. For illustration, just look at the informal lunchroom seating at any ethnically diverse school. The secret is to recognize these natural prejudices and not let them affect your interaction with society at large. The good news is that I think most people of decent character have learned to conquer this primitive tribalism and society is becoming more and more tolerant, at least around here.
S. Would you rather be the only person in the world that can read minds or have everyone else in the world be able to read minds except for your own?
- If everyone could read all minds except mine, I would stand out like a sore thumb and become a pariah, offsetting any advantage I might have gained. Being the only mind reader, on the other hand, has many intriguing possibilities, especially if no one knew I was doing it. Just think of the lucrative business deals and favorable international treaties you could negotiate. You would never get turned down for a date! I definitely would be the sole mind reader.
T. If everyone in the world would automatically only know one language, which language would you choose?
- Like everyone, I would choose the language I already speak. Since I speak English, I am also choosing every non-English speaker’s second choice for universal language. Win/win!
U. If you were old enough and not in a situation where it would be inappropriate, would you sleep with one of your (past) school teachers/professors?
- I attended Catholic primary school or "sister school", so that’s out. Scary women in billowing black gowns were never my thing. I then went to an all-boys, all-male-teachers, high school. Some of them were really nice guys, but I’m straight. By the time I got to college, I was 29 and pretty recently married. I’m sure there were some attractive women professors but I must have been so concentrating on my studies that none of them now come to mind (he said). So the answer for me and my teachers is no. But I do reserve the right to change my mind for someone else’s possibly more attractive instructors.
V. A world without religion, good, bad, neutral?
- It is a bit complicated, but the good done by religion is, in my mind, more than offset by the oppression, manipulation and blood thirst that supernatural belief has brought with it throughout the ages. I hope that sometime in the future people will be finally weaned off their seeming need to have someone with a direct line to the almighty tell them how to live their lives. But for right now, I agree with John Lennon.
W. The men’s rights movement, legitimate cause or laughable, and why?
- Legit. Men still drive the bus in this country, both economically and politically, but there are always cultural and legal areas in which gender plays more of a role than it should. These instances should be examined and corrected no matter which gender is the aggrieved party. Everyone should have the right to be treated with respect and fairness.
X. You can eliminate one of your five senses to substantially strengthen the others, which one and would you do it?
- Well, sight and hearing are just off the table as their loss is too debilitating and socially isolating. You need to see and hear to do so many things in our modern world. Having no sense of touch, besides ruining some of the most pleasant features of life (i.e. sex), would be downright dangerous. It’s important to feel radiant heat as you approach a hot stove or to feel a wound and the resultant blood flow on your skin before you bleed out. It comes down to taste and smell. While I recognize how useful taste can be, I feel that many of its advantages could be covered by smell, a closely related sense. And I’m not a foodie, so I would choose to lose taste.
Y. Do looks mean anything to you? Don’t lie, could you fall in love with someone you thought was ugly?
- Of course looks matter. Sexual attractiveness is largely a function of beauty, at least initially, and that preference is probably genetically based on some primordial drive to choose the healthiest looking mate. You will never hear anyone say "I am really turned on by that homely, doofus-looking guy with the overbite". But then there is "cuteness", that magic set of preferences unique to each beholder, which allows the less prepossessing among us to buy enough time to bring any other charms we may have into play. That explains why almost everyone eventually finds someone. I think that’s how it worked for me.
Z. Can you understand the mindset and logic used by the opposite spiritual opinion? An atheist understanding the belief in a higher power and vice versa.
- Intellectually, yes. I have seen firsthand the comfort some really good people take in lighting a candle or praying to a saint for relief on some personal issue. Leaving it "in god’s hands" is an effective psychological balm for the many situations in life where we feel we have no control. Sometimes I envy the serenity of those to whom faith brings such comfort. But, in too many others, this gentle religiosity gives way to rigid intolerance for any deviation from the sacred rules allegedly handed down from heaven thousands of years ago, edited and transcribed by the anointed hierarchy to keep them safely above their flock. My experience was Catholic, but the things I abhor seem to be universal traits across all religions. The comfort provided will never outweigh the evil uses to which man has put the worship of the various gods he has created.
Debate me in the Comments.