10 Years of Project 2,996

Project 2,996 was created back in 2006. So, even though it’s not yet 10 years old, this will be the 10th 9/11 where I have encouraged others to remember these people not by rehashing their very public deaths, but by learning about their lives.

I’ll freely admit when the idea came to me that I didn’t expect it to take off the way it did. In fact, until right before 9/11 I actually had the information contained on a single page of my existing blog. Then on 9/11 so many people visited my website–to see the list and follow the links–that I used up all my allotted traffic before I even woke up. I had trouble getting my site back up because every time my webhost tried to bring it back up a flood of incoming traffic immediately took it back down. Thankfully, some of the other participants put up mirrors of the list. That first year, even though my site was down for more than 12 hours, my webhost logged more than 2 million incoming requests.

However, what shocked me was how many people were willing to sign up to learn about–and write about–someone they never met.

This year–as I always do–I invite you to learn about those killed on 9/11.

Some Free Advice to a Future Sports Hero

So you’re good enough to play sports…maybe professionally…maybe in college, but you think you can be more. And you’re looking at the current landscape of professional sports and you’re sick of all the steroid talk. You’ve worked hard all your life and it gets under your skin that a number of very high profile cheaters are changing the landscape for everyone.

Here’s a little PR plan that I’m giving away for free. Follow it and you’ll become the hero of the working man (and woman…this is man in the mankind sense), the family man, and amateur coaches everywhere.

Dale C. Roe’s Certified Sports Hero Program

  1. Be clean. No recreational drugs, no steroids. Let me repeat, no steroids. If you can’t do this one, just skip the whole thing.
  2. Go find a testing lab and work out some sort of program with them—a program of scheduled and random tests that will allow them to certify that you are steroid free.
  3. Call a press conference. Stand up on a podium, with doctors from the testing lab, your parents and kids, your coach, the owner of your team, and anyone else you can think of who should be in on this kind of thing, and announce to the press and to the world that you have taken it upon yourself to prove you are clean and that you play fair. And that you will continue to have that lab certify you, both on- and off-season.
  4. Let the testing lab answer the technical questions. Heck, offer the reporters a tour of the operation.
  5. Now, here’s the critical part. At some point the reporters will look at you and ask “Why?” Your answer is critical, and you must believe this deep in your heart:

    Because when I was a kid, and I got a solid hit and ran the bases pretending I’d just won the World Series I had fireworks in my head and stars in my eyes. Never once did that dream include needles and pills, and shady doctors.

    Because my dad told me that hard work pays off, and that if you work hard enough you will get your reward.

    Because my coach taught me batting practice and fielding drills, not how to hide needle marks and ruin my body to beat guys who worked harder than me.

    Because I’m tired of press conferences where cheaters insist they just made a mistake.

    Because I don’t want a kid to put down his baseball bat, because he thinks he’ll have to do drugs to make it big. And even more, I don’t want that kid to think he has to pick up the needle to keep playing.

    Because I want all the kids to know that you don’t need the needles to make it to the top.

    Because I want parents to have someone to point to, and say to their kids ‘he didn’t cheat’. And because someday when my kids ask me if I ever cheated, I want to be able to look them in the eye when I say “No”.

  6. Now challenge your teammates to do the same.

I guarantee you’ll have at least one new fan for life.

Who’s with me?

Are We Devolving Ourselves?

Are we causing our devolution? This is a question that has been bothering me, off and on, and to varying degrees, for many years now.

Most of the computer using world (and hence the people with access to this post) live in one of the safest environments that has ever existed on this planet. We have a security force, a military force, government agencies, and a rather robust collection of laws all of which are there, essentially, to make sure we don’t die.

Likewise there is an entire healthcare network who’s purpose, aside from making enormous profits, is to keep us alive and healthy so we can keep buying products.

We no longer have to worry about being hunted or eaten. While murder is still a problem it’s no where near the problem it has been in other historical periods.

But does all this come at a cost? Through litigation, overprotection and advanced science are we hurting our own species? Are we creating a world that our own children won’t be able to live in?

This idea took seed long ago when, during a casual conversation, a friend began to rail against school speed zones (his rant was intended as pure humor, and at the time was taken that way). He lived near an elementary school and a high school as was often frustrated by the 2 miles of 15 MPH he had to endure to get from his house to the nearest major street.

When I was a kid, he reasoned, there were no speed zones. We had crossing guards who made the kids wait until it was safe to cross. So, we learned how to safely cross the street. Now, there are speed zones, and the cars must wait for the kids, no matter where they choose to cross. So, today’s kids learn that they can cross whenever and wherever they want to.

Although the argument is quite funny, especially when my friend was in one of his moods, there’s a nugget of truth in there. To expand it out to it’s evolutionary impact you could say that it used to be, that kids who couldn’t learn to cross the street got hit by cars, and hence were less likely to produce offspring.

In our society there are far too many examples of this to count. Lead based paint is now a no-no. Why? Because some kids would eat it, get sick, keep eating it and eventually get lead poisoning. And their parents sued someone. So now there is no lead-based paint. But why did that kid keep eating it when hundreds of thousands of other kids ate paint chips, got sick and decided they’d had just about enough of that? Maybe the kid who keeps eating paint shouldn’t be producing offspring.

Now one of the sticky spots I find myself in here, is that if I continue this line of thinking I get to a group of people that includes myself. Modern medicine makes a long normal life possible for people who in previous ages would have died off early. When I was 12 years old I had a massive asthma attack. In order for me to survive I had to have fast transportation, a close hospital, well trained, readily-available doctors, and modern medicines. And even with all that it was close. Even 20 years earlier and I probably wouldn’t have seen my 13th birthday. So, at just about any other time in human history I would not have had the opportunity to pass along my genetic makeup.

If this theory is correct, and we are in fact damaging our own ability to survive in our own environment, there could be many repercussions, some long term, but some much more immediate.

In the immediate, our society may have to deal with a new generation that is increasingly unable to solve problems. Back to the speed zones for a moment…there is a certain level of cognition and abstract reasoning that allows a young child to understand, “if this adult is stopping me from crossing the street until the cars are past, then maybe I should always wait to cross the street until the cars have past.” And maybe giving kids the benefit of speed-zones until they are out of high school is a little too much coddling.

But in the long term we may be hurting our species. Are we burdening our genetic pool with too many people who are unable to learn how to cross a street? Or who are unable to learn not to eat paint chips? By keeping people with illnesses alive before we can correct these illnesses, are we stocking our genetic pool with scores of “manageable” illnesses. Is our rapid medical advancement creating a genetic dependence on advanced medicine?

On the other hand, I could just be upset that my 13-year-old, doesn’t know how to properly cross the street.

Insanity or Bluetooth?

I wonder what someone unfamiliar with modern technology would think when looking at us. I’m not talking about cavemen—maybe just someone from the 80s.

Hey! Stop rolling your eyes. This isn’t one of those look at how far we’ve come articles.

But sometimes it just hits you in the face that we’re so hooked on the latest and greatest technology, that we don’t stop to consider how it will affect us. And by us I mean either our society, or just us lowly peons.

Specifically I’m wondering if the helpful souls that invented the Bluetooth headset, ever stopped to think about what a bunch of idiots we look like when we’re walking around yelling to ourselves.

I have a Bluetooth. I use it while driving, and at the office so I can keep working when I take a call. I remove it during lunch, meetings, personal conversations, and even during long stretches at my desk. But like most people I often forget to remove it, and as soon as I see the eyes of someone I’m talking to darting back and forth from my eyes to the blinking blue light by my right ear, I take it off.

But many—MANY—Bluetooth users never take them off. Frankly, I wonder if they sleep with it on. And most people just haven’t developed the body language to convey that they are talking on the cell phone.

Here’s a tip. If you’re talking to someone on the phone, and not to me, don’t make eye contact with me.

My favorite thing about the headsets is that they make us look like a bunch of nutcases wandering the streets. Most people make a point not to talk to themselves around other people—lest we look insane. But that little earpiece really gets rid of a lot of social awkwardness. The hallway outside my department is routinely littered with people having arguments, personal conversations, and business meetings with…the wall, the door to the breakroom, a person facing them who happens to be in a completely different conversation.

But by far the oddest thing—in fact, what inspired me to write this post—were the two people in the lobby having a meeting over their headsets who didn’t even realize they were in the same room.

We really are a bunch of loonies.