Four Questions

I Still Haven’t Found the Four Questions I’m Looking For

What is Dave wearing today? Dave is wearing a Bucs shirt and tan shorts. 

How does Dave feel today? Dave is relieved the day is over.

What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood today? Dave juggled a lot of things today — work, barking dogs, garage door repair, book club, sailing in his yacht — and now that it’s all over, he’s relaxing in front of the teevee.

Why were Dave and the Complimentary Spouse up early again? Dave and Britt were awakened in the wee hours of the morning because Lucy and Linus barked at an almost imperceptible noise outside. These are the same dogs that weren’t fazed one bit when the garage door was making a racket the previous morning.

Travel & Food

Thar She Blows! Thar He Spews!

The Atlantic: “An Entire Group of Whales Has Somehow Escaped Human Attention”

I love articles like this because they remind me that as much as we know about our planet, there is still much more to discover. This piece is pretty long, but worth scanning at least. I didn’t know this about whales and dolphins:

“Life on our planet began in the water and moved onto the land, an evolution that is often represented—in graphics that show fish growing legs and ending up as human beings—as progress. Yet the cetaceans, that grouping of creatures that includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises, reversed the trend. They came ashore, took a look around—and returned to the sea, turning their backs on what would become the human dominion.”

The article reminded me of my own experiences with whales. In 2001 in Juneau, Alaska, I saw an entire pod of humpback whales engage in bubble feeding. That’s when the whales work together to surround fish, blow bubbles to corral them into a small space, and then swim up to eat.

Another time (in 2005), the Complimentary Spouse and I did a whale-watching flight in Kaikoura, New Zealand. We were on one of the smallest airplanes you have ever seen. We circled over the water for nearly an hour, with no whales to be seen. I was sitting in the front of the plane, next to the pilot (who appeared to be 14 years old). At long last, right before we were about to return, I spotted a whale and pointed it out to the pilot. She circled over it and, at that very moment, I threw up. This has become an inside joke of sorts for Britt and me. Every time we see a whale on teevee, I pretend to throw up.

Four Questions

The Power of the Four Questions Compels You

What is Dave wearing today? Dave is wearing a red shirt, white socks, and blue shorts because he’s a proud American.

How does Dave feel today? Dave feels flazéda.

What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood today? Dave enjoyed writing about Homer Simpson this morning, had a good day at work, and is now relaxing with the Complimentary Spouse, Lucy, and Linus.

Why will Dave go to sleep early tonight? Dave and Britt woke up very early this morning because they heard some noises downstairs. It turns out the garage door was opening and closing. Dave thinks the only logical explanation is that the garage door opener is possessed by the devil. The exorcism is planned for tomorrow morning.


The More You D’oh!

Plato? Descartes? Emerson? What a bunch of amateurs! The philosopher that best understands the human spirit is Homer Simpson, a middle-class American man in his late 30s. As one of Homer’s disciples, I’d like to share some of his teachings.

First, if you want people to respect you, you have to give them something of value.

Ignore all the language lessons you learned by rote in school.

And the math lessons too.

Put your faith in a higher power.

Tell other people what you need from them.

Provide evidence to back up your claims.

Live up to your potential.

And, finally, inspire others.

Credit where it’s due: All screen grabs generated by Frinkiac.

Four Questions

Don’t Take the Four Questions if You Are Allergic to any of its Ingredients

What is Dave wearing today? Dave is wearing a dark blue T-shirt and light blue shorts.

How does Dave feel today? Dave feels cheated.

What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood today? Dave treated himself to a nice haircut, but the experience and the results are on par with Great Clips.

What’s the deal with Dave’s hair? Dave has thick, coarse hair that resists styling. He also has a very prominent whorl in the back that sticks up and needs to be cut carefully. Dave really shouldn’t complain about his hair, though, considering he has a full head of it.

Four Questions

The Four Questions Celebrate the First Night of Passover

Why on all other nights do we eat either leavened bread or matzo, but on this night only matzo? We only eat matzo because Passover is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Manischewitz company.

Why on all other nights do we eat different types of vegetables, but on this night only bitter herbs? We only eat bitter herbs to remind us of INXS’s 1991 hit, “Bitter Tears.”

Why on all other nights do we not dip our food once, but on this night we dip it twice? We dip our food twice because we have OCD and have to do tasks in even numbers.

Why on all nights do we eat either sitting upright or reclining, but on this night we recline? We recline to show our disrespect for the person sitting behind us on the plane. (This only applies if you’re doing your seder on a flight.)

Four Questions

The Four Questions Need Some Advil

What is Dave wearing today? Dave is wearing a red polo shirt and light blue shorts.

How does Dave feel today? Dave is achy.

What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood today? Dave started feeling sore and a little feverish a few hours ago.

Does Dave think he’ll be sick tomorrow? Dave says the odds of getting sick on a Saturday are a thousand to one. Wait, someone else said that.

Four Questions

With the Lights Out, the Four Questions Are Less Dangerous

What is Dave wearing today? Dave is in his work-from-home uniform: polo shirt (red today) and shorts (gray today). Dave is clearly in a clothing rut and needs to shake things up tomorrow.

How does Dave feel today? Dave is irate. 

What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood today? Dave is listening to a presentation about immigrant rights and justice in Florida, and it’s infuriating.

Can Dave share a link to more information about immigrants’ rights? Dave asks you to check out the ACLU of Florida’s immigrants’ rights page.

Four Questions

Don’t Bite the Four Questions That Feed You

What is Dave wearing today? Dave looks rather unassuming today in a light purple polo shirt and gray shorts.

How does Dave feel today? Dave is frustrated.

What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood today? Dave found it difficult to concentrate today thanks to the dogs’ incessant interruptions.

Does Dave speak to his dogs in Yiddish? Dave calls Lucy a shayna punim and Linus a pisher.

Current Events

The Freedom to Make Mistakes?

I recently heard someone say that having freedom means having the freedom to make mistakes.1 This was mentioned in the context of mask mandates during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

This seemed like a reasonable opinion at first, but something about it gnawed at me. After some rumination, I think I know why. It’s because it’s a kindergarten-level understanding of freedom: A very simple jingoistic statement that kids might write in crayon, ignoring the context, meaning, and reality of what freedom means in society.

First, we do not have the freedom to make certain kinds of mistakes. Here in Tampa, a police officer was killed recently by a wrong-way driver. In fact, the officer may have saved lives by deliberately crashing into the wrong-way driver to stop them from hitting anyone else. Driving the wrong way is a mistake. No one should be afforded the freedom to make this kind of mistake, even in the most Ayn Randian of worldviews.

I know this is one example, but there are plenty of reasonable scenarios where mistakes must not be written off as freedoms. Is it freedom if a surgeon, air traffic controller, mechanic, NICU nurse, anesthesiologist, or engineer makes a mistake?

This brings me to my second point: personal responsibility. Claiming you have the freedom to make mistakes doesn’t absolve you from being accountable for your actions. A recent example is the horrific murders of eight people in Atlanta.2

When the suspect was arrested, a representative of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said the shooter was just “a really bad day.” We can quibble over semantics, of course, but that sounds a lot to me like dismissing the killings as a mistake.3

Finally, being unable (or unwilling) to make an evidence-based, timely, logical decision is not a mistake. It’s ineptitude. 

To a very wide degree, yes, I think we have the freedom to make mistakes. Let me say —  declaratively and loudly — that mistakes are essential human experiences that promote emotional and intellectual growth. But, c’mon, we all know those weren’t the types of mistakes that the original speaker was referring to.

No one has the freedom to jeopardize others with their mistakes. No one is immune to the consequences of their mistakes. And no one has the privilege of disguising willful ignorance as a mistake.

So put on the damn mask.

1 This is somewhat of a lie. I didn’t hear this from anyone directly. It was relayed to me by a relative’s spouse, who heard it from one of his relatives. 
2 The murders seem directed toward people of Asian descent, but the usual chorus of know-nothings are claiming the murders could not possibly be racially motivated.4
3 And let’s not overlook this: “Georgia Official who Said Spa Shooting Suspect Had a ‘Bad Day’ Appeared to Promote Racist COVID-19 Shirt.”
4 Then how do we explain a 150% increase in anti-Asian-American hate crimes over the past year?