Thursday, January 14, 2010

On Gambling


Wagering on thoroughbred horse racing is something I enjoy very much, although I am well aware of the potential dangers of excessive gambling. I appreciate it most because unlike other forms of gambling, horse race handicapping involves a high level of skill and intellect. From the time I first went to Penn National Racecourse at the age of 6 to my current summer trips to Monmouth Park on the Jersey Shore, I’ve always enjoyed horse racing….win or lose. The ability to decipher what sets one horse apart from 8 others is not something that happens overnight; rather, you must spend hours preparing for a trip to the racetrack to ensure a reasonable chance of success. That being said, my grandmother was addicted to slot machines (an activity that seems to require very little skill), and was successful at it. I had nothing but respect for my grandmother and she was one of the greatest influences in getting me interested in horse racing, but I would never dream of spending hours at slot machines pissing money away. However, I think people should be free to spend their money in whatever way they choose. In fact, I hope people continue to pound money into slot machines, being that the profits from many casinos help fund horse racing at adjacent racetracks.


People probably expect me to quote some Bible verse as evidence that gambling is a sin, but then we should need to discuss the philosophical foundations and implications of sin—too long for this post. Instead, let us consider the intellectual merits of gambling. In short, if you’re like me, gambling is stupid, really stupid. It seems whenever I bet, the Olympian Pantheon immediately conspires against me; consequently, I do not gamble. I suppose if one is good, gambling is then profitable, in which case one is being a good steward with his money, but most people are not good, and people lose more often than they win (which is why the House stays in business), so I would say that in general, it is unwise for a given person to gamble…unless, of course, you are betting against me, in which case it is very wise for YOU to gamble!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cats or Dogs?


Cats or dogs, which are better? One’s choice says more about oneself than about the animal in question. For domestic camaraderie, it is clear why the canine is the populists’ choice, or should we say, the choice of the unwashed masses. With intellect extending little beyond frivolous stunts which elicit complementary responses from their masters, and with behavior rarely exceeding the slobber-blathering decorum of circus clowns, dogs certainly are more socially accessible initially. Yet it is the feline which has commanded the respect of sentient beings stretching back to the monarchs of antiquity. If they are not immediately sociable, it is because they possess a healthy intellectual skepticism and refuse to grovel at the whims of human companions. Yet when one is willing to expose his heart’s deepest vulnerabilities, Man and Cat then enter into an almost spiritual relationship, to love and be loved, heart to heart, soul to soul.


Clearly, the choice is dogs. A dog is always happy to see its owner and its love is unconditional. A cat, on the other hand, looks at you in a calculating way as if it is the superior being. A dog is fine with sitting next to you on the couch while you watch television or read...a cat needs attention and rubs against your leg to alert you of that fact. When a dog does something stupid, it’s funny because it likely doesn’t know any better...but when a cat knocks over the vase, you get the sense that it may have been a planned move. If animals could talk, this would be a matter of whether you’d prefer to be greeted by the wide-eyed lovable dog saying, “Yessssss! Good to see my best friend again!” or the spiteful cat who says “give me attention, you dumb prick.” Besides, in the words of an esteemed peer of mine, “puppies are cute as shit.”

Monday, October 19, 2009

On Prisons


The purpose of the prison system should be to punish and reform criminals with the goal of preventing future violations. Therefore, I see no need for lifetime prison sentences, because they often are applied to criminals that are incapable of reform. Moreover, long-term prison sentences are a drain on taxpayers’ money. As harsh as this may sound, it seems to me that it would make more sense to execute the murderers and rapists of the world who would normally get extensive sentences.


No child dreams of going to prison someday. Rather, prisons are home to life’s failures. But whose failures, the prisoners’ or ours? What kinds of parents seek to satisfy their own indulgences while neglecting their children’s needs? The kind that are still children. What kind of societies stand idly by while others struggle for survival amidst squalor? The greedy kind with a heart-numbing Darwinian social philosophy. Such are the sources of the world’s pain, suffering, crime, violence, and brokenness. We punish criminals, yet we fail to fix the social structures and attitudes that produce them. If prisons are to be considered any sort of success, we must rehabilitate criminals from the scars of their lives. Only love can do that. Only a belief that these lives, these people are worth redeeming. Anything else, and we might as well just kill them. It would save taxpayers a lot more money.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is NASCAR a sport?


Sport. What is it? Is NASCAR a sport? Of course not! Seems straightforward enough. I begin by defining sport generally: a physical competition to reach some goal. Seems direct enough, but I realize that NASCAR also has physical elements. People control cars with skill and decision making much as they would horses, and I’d like to think horse racing is a sport. No, there must be something more that truly defines sport. After all, sports are the descendants of ancient feats of war which were valorized. Football players converge on the battlefield as heroes of old. There is something pure and beautiful about a footrace, recalling the messenger who raced from the plains of Marathon to proclaim Greek victory. Valor, purity, beauty. This is sport. And then there is NASCAR: a white-trash version of horse racing where people drive in countless circles while the countriest of bumpkins hoot and holler.


It bothers me how most people scoff at the suggestion that Nascar is a “sport.” As I see it, Nascar is one of the purest forms of competition there is: people get in cars and see who can get from point A to point B the fastest. Nascar drivers are not exactly bastions of ideal fitness, but the amount of focus required to maintain control of 1 car racing 39 others going 200 miles per hour in a continuous circle is amazing. I understand not caring to watch Nascar (I can’t watch an entire race without getting bored), but there is really no need to badmouth the people that make a living off of the sport.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bilz Versus Ben Launch

Hello friends!

Welcome to "Bilz Versus Ben." As you all know, we are two of the most contrasting individuals on the Men's Cross Country Team. In countless ways, whether it be height, event group, political view, spiritual conviction, personality, method of problem solving, motivation, musical taste, or devilishly good looks, we define the spectrum of differences concerning many things.

About twice a week, we are going to each briefly comment on a topic, scenario, question, opinion, or whatever. You are free to engage with our thoughts as well, with comments, responses, declarations of brilliance or victory, etc. Further, for each post, you can vote for either Bilz or Ben based on with whom you agree, which you thought was funier or more interesting, or whatever rationale you choose. We also invite people to suggest categories for us to further broaden the range of possibilities. Thanks for checking this blog out, and we hope you come again.