Why Switching to Simple Isn’t Worth It

In late October, I received an email from Simple with the subject line “Have you been cheating on us?” It asked me to write back, so I did and have given them ample time to reply. Since they haven’t, I wanted to share with you all why I think Simple just isn’t worth the switch.

When BankSimple was first announced, I was crazy excited. I shared it on Twitter. I told lots of people. Within the first 3 hours of the announcement, I had signed up for a beta account and emailed one of the founders to offer my services in helping them develop good customer support in the future. He replied politely and my excitement remained strong.

Later renamed to just “Simple,” the premise of this bank is easy to explain: founded by techies, Simple will provide a fantastic, easy, and modern interface for a bank that handles and displays transactions instantly and charges no fees. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s really not. They do what they say they’re going to. But I still have some problems with them, and when they invited me to write them, I did so with the intent of it becoming an open letter if they never replied.

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Stop Calling Me Abnormal

Cross Necklace

One of the great weaknesses of humanity is shortsightedness. Whether it is because of our relatively short lives or because too many of us fail to gain a solid liberal arts education with the requisite history courses, we have trouble seeing the big picture, particularly in regards to societal differences and especially across time. As such, we draw conclusions based on our limited experience that are often incorrect.

Allow me to use an example I often encounter in my dealings with non-Christians. I meet an atheist, pagan, Taoist, what-have-you, and we converse. We drink coffee and break bread and generally have a good discussion. We find that we have a fair amount in common, particularly intellectually, and they come to like me.

However, in the past, they have disliked Christians, who they feel have traditionally been bigoted, unaccepting, and closed-minded. Christians have tried incessantly to convert them, refusing to listen to reason, and yet here is a Christian who listens and respects them. It makes no sense.

The conclusion drawn at this juncture is generally that I am either 1) Less Christian than those they had encountered previously or 2) More Christian, and certainly a better one.

For any of you reading this who have ever come to this conclusion about me or any other Christians, I have a newsflash. Those of us who love you, who respect you, and who you in turn like and respect are neither less nor more Christian. We are neither better nor worse than our brethren.

Obviously, there are bad Christians in the world, just like there are bad Buddhists, Hindus, and Wiccans. But in my experience, in my education, and in my study of the subject, I have found that the two conclusions mentioned above are only reachable through ignorance.

I committed the same error before I was Christian, though I cannot quite pinpoint the catalyst for the misconception. Because before I was Christian, I viewed Christians as hypocritical jerks who only considered themselves able to either convert or persecute me. Perhaps, before I converted, I was only really interacting with Christians on the fringe of the Church. I certainly wouldn’t have converted if I hadn’t been drawn into a loving family who were none of those negative things.

After becoming Christian, I found that I was meeting more and more Christians who were thoughtful, loving, and respectful. There was no judgmentalism and no hate.

If you have come to one of the above conclusions, it’s not because I or the other Christians about whom you have made that decision are different. More likely, it is because you don’t really interact with Christians much, or maybe haven’t given them a chance, and are less open-minded and more ignorant than you think. I am no different than most any other Christian, neither more nor less than the brothers and sisters with whom I worship on a weekly basis.

You’re not better than Christians when you snub them and write them off. And I am certainly no better than them just because you like me. I sin, am blunt and often a complete jerk without meaning to be, and generally screw up whenever the occasion presents itself. For whatever reason, you gave me (or some other person whom you respect) a chance and they turned out to be decent.

I’d ask you to give more people chances. I’m a firm believer that most everyone is pretty decent, just not everyone gets a fair shake. We’ve pretty much got all the same dreams and desires, so drop the holier-than-thou attitude, quit putting people on a pedestal, and treat everyone as you’d like to be treated.

And peace be with you.

Image by: vivekchugh

When Sparta Attacks Greece

The latest topic of school gossip circles at Missouri State University is the closing of the Beta Beta chapter of Sigma Sigma Sigma, a prominent sorority on campus that has been here since 1945. An article published in the Missouri State Standard (remarking on the national headquarters of Tri-Sigma closing the chapter) has drawn more discussion than these articles normally do (all of 16 comments now), and it’s pretty appalling.

In general, I agree that the chapter was at fault and probably deserved to be shut down at this point. They had broken the law repeatedly (the police had been called to the Tri-Sigma house 7 times, 3 for underage drinking and serving liquor without a liquor license… keeping in mind that the members of Tri-Sigma sign an agreement specifically to do no such thing), and the national headquarters indicated that they had been working with the MSU chapter to help improve their conduct and behaviour for quite some time prior to revoking their charter.

That being said, it seems that the majority of non-Greek students are being complete dicks about it. They find it amusing and subsequently mock the sorority members. They* write in with harsh (if perhaps accurate) comments about Greek life and the members of Tri-Sigma (though they also make libelous and likely incorrect assumptions about the girls). They are mean to girls who are upset, most of whom are confused because they had nothing to do with the issues leading to the closing of the chapter (particularly the freshmen), and 50+ of whom have now had to find a new place to live.

The title for this entry came to mind as a good parallel for our campus, and perhaps our society. When the movie 300 came out, we glorified it, and quotes from the movie became instant memes. I was cool with it at the time, because it looked like an awesome movie. I never got around to going and seeing it, but I could see why people would enjoy it, and I have enjoyed the various parodies I’ve seen on the net. Still, as people across campus break into laughter and begin attacking the Greeks**, I ask myself… why?

Perhaps I’m digging too much, finding something where truly there is nothing, but the hatred and detestation certain individuals seem to hold for the Greek community at our campus is startling. I simply do not understand how those who uphold gay rights, the right to choose, and liberty in all its ways, can then look at a group of people and say, “You’re wrong and what you do is stupid, and so are you!” simply because they’re part of a social organization. Maybe you don’t agree with it. Fine. I don’t agree with homosexuality as a lifestyle or having an abortion (unless certain circumstances apply). I’m not Muslim either, but I don’t attack them for their beliefs.

It ties into a bigger issue of religion (and why certain individuals feel the need to attack others about their beliefs), which I won’t go into now, but it all boils down to this comment from one of the members of Sigma Sigma Sigma:

I’m not entirely sure what the Greek system did to you, but I find it funny that you repeatedly talked about how “no one cares” about us and that “everyone else just thinks it’s funny” that our charter got suspended. Why did you take the time out of your busy, important day to tell us how much you “don’t care”?

There are a multitude of reasons why people join a Greek community–just like there are many reasons people choose not to join. And sorry, it really has nothing to do with popularity and feeling important. In a campus as large as Mo. State, a fraternity or sorority helps give you a place where you belong.

We really don’t care why you chose not to go Greek, why do you care so much about why we did make that decision?

A mistake was made, and the girls probably feel pretty bad in general. Why can’t you* either 1) Do what you can to help them recover and move on, or 2) Shut up and leave them alone? They already feel bad, so why make them feel worse? What does it gain you?

Besides a sense of superiority. Maybe a feeling of vindication for having not joined (or not been accepted into?) a fraternity or sorority. A chance to use your flame-fu to kick some easy targets when they’re already down on the ground.

If you can’t say anything nice, shut your damned mouth.

*The second person pronouns used in this piece are directed at no individual. I feel it bears writing that they are not directed solely at those who have written in to the Standard either, for I have heard similar comments in person (often by people I do not know, just random students on campus).

**To be fair, people loved the movie because it was good. It was a great action flick with a good love story (from what I’ve been told), so it appealed to a wide audience. The special effects were good. Presumably the acting was up to snuff. But in a philosophical, deeper sense, perhaps we resonate (or want to?) with the Spartans on a societal level. We want to be the warriors, the “good guys,” and the total- bad-ass-who-kills-everything.

In reality, the Spartans were no more “good guys” than the Persians were. And in the end, it was the Greeks who survived. As the saying goes, “Rome conquered the Greek empire and its civilization, but Greek culture conquered Rome.” The Grecian culture influenced everything because the Greeks were thinkers and doers, innovaters and inventors, rather than fighters.