Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Ten Factioid Blogsplosion

I've somehow managed to avoid doing surveys, for the most part, by not doing them when I get tagged. However, when you get tagged three times in one day... it warrants a response, nay sir, it demands a response. I am taking action. This survey is a dead man. (Note the use of metaphor, very important.)

Here are the rules. I have to list ten facts about myself. Easy? Not the way I do it.

Number One.

I have no idea what a nurse's assistant does. I know what a nurse does. A nurse assists a doctor. Nurses are responsible for administering medication, monitoring the patient, handing scalpels, and so on. They do tons of important stuff. A nurse's assistant? Do they open the medication? Do they wash the scalpel? It seems a bit contrived, like hiring a secretary for your secretary. I know I could wikipedia this, or google it, or ask someone, but I think the topic is more entertaining when cloaked by a veil of ignorance and assumption/presumption. I am nothing if not ignorant and sumptuous.

Number Two.

I once picked a girl up at a gas station. We went to a bar. She turned out to be completely boring. I have never been impressed by the quality of products found at the gas station. I wouldn't buy steak at the gas station, I should know better than to pick up girls there.

Number Three.

I see no problem with comparing women to pieces of meat. This has nothing to do with their gender, and a lot to do with the fact that we're all really just pieces of meat. Some of us are simply more sumptuous. Yum.

Number Four.

I've actually managed to glean three separate bullet points out of this one series of events. That same girl and I went out a few times, but we stopped seeing each other partly because the boredom was stifling. The richest relationship in her life was with her cat. The main reason though is this... I am an atheist. So after she asked me about it and I confirmed, she didn't return my calls. I let it go because watching cable on her couch and discussing her cat was not high on my to-do list. I have been "let go" for my religious views; I have been discriminated against because I bathe in hell-fire. I have an eternity of damnation ahead of me, no reason to make me suffer now.

Number Five.

I secretly worry that we're running out of personality types because of the influence of main stream media. Chuck Klosterman writes about this in his book Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, in the chapter about the Real World. Mr. Klosterman, I'll see your suspicions and raise you a reasonable amount of alarm.

I worry that future pirate movies will be constant rehashes of Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow. How sad would that be? Sparrow is an awesome character, brilliant even, but it's been done. We need progress, we need innovation. What's worse, I'm afraid of spillage. What happens when characters in other genres turn into Jack Sparrow? What happens when real life people turn into Jack Sparrow? What happens when Jack Sparrow bags your groceries? Bums a dollar? Files your taxes? Robs you at knife point?

This sort of thing is already happening, you see television homogenizing the country. Regional accents are slowly disappearing. America's role-models are broadcast country wide, world-wide really, and mass media has begun the process of pigeon-holing the population. Red State, Blue State anyone?

Human beings deal in one-dimensional stereotypes as a matter of convenience, it makes war and lynching easier to accept. When you can shed the burden of looking at a person as a multi-faceted being, it makes it easier to not think of them as a human(Like a piece of meat, I'm guilty too). Likewise, it's easier to be understood when you can whittle your own personality down to a known arch-type. When you can be the jock, the geek, the dweeb, the druggie, the prep, the militant, the artist, the queer, the black, the Jew, the upper, the downer, the socialite, the hopeless romantic, the moderately effeminate lumberjack, the musician, the nice guy, the Christian, the Jack Sparrow and so on, it streamlines the social process. You can take your most prominent trait, or feature, and run with it. The real motivation here, I suppose, is to avoid ridicule, or share ridicule with others who've lumped themselves into your group. The jock who plays Dungeons and Dragons isn't a jock who plays Dungeons and Dragons, he's a jock because people respect jocks more, it's more socially desirable to be a jock than a geek. It's easier to be gay because there are other people who are gay. I think the mantra "we're here, we're queer, get used to it." is telling because there is no "I" in queer. There is a gay community, and when moral/religious conservatives level ridicule at the gays they can share the so-called blame.

This could of course lead me back to the idea of racial identity. I'll keep it brief though. Racial profiling happens on two levels. People profile other people, and people profile themselves.

I suppose what I'm saying is that folks should be who they are, and not who they're supposed to be. Jocks should feel free to admit that the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was kind of a cool life changing experience, and straight guys should be able to admit that sometimes they like to watch gay porn because the acting is better.

Number Six

As previously mentioned, I am an atheist. I'm not asshole about it though. I would never be so bold as to presume to know the nature of the universe.

What makes me odd as an atheist is that I don't think atheism holds any more weight than any religion. Atheists tend to take a smarter-than-thou attitude when faced with a holier-than-thou situation, but when it comes down to it there's really no plausible argument for anything beyond belief. Atheists like to use science to disprove religion. But what is science, really?

Science is a collection of theories and observations that seek to explain the nature of existence. There are no facts in science, not really, there are some pretty good assumptions, but in an existence filled with infinite possibilities what can we really be certain about?

Most atheists accept science at face value, usually without even understanding how the conclusions were drawn. I can tell you that science says that the earth is several billion years old, but I couldn't prove it myself, and I have no clue how other people came to that conclusion. I believe it's true, and what's that called? Faith.

Regardless of whether you believe in God, unicorns, the tooth fairy, chemistry, or whatever, we're all on fairly equal footing in so-far as explaining the nature of existence. I don't feel that believing in God is any more far-fetched than believing that light travels at a constant speed 35 miles per hour, regardless of posted speed limits, when inside of a Lincoln Towncar with a geriatric behind the wheel. (See how I used a known stereotype to communicate absurdity? See number five again.)

There isn't that big of a difference between people who believe in God and people who don't, the only thing that changes is how you view our shared reality. If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's this... existence is magical.

Number Seven.

Those of you who party with me know that if there's one thing you can count on, it's the fact that I will clog your toilet and rob you of precious rolls of sanitary paper. I am of the mind that if there is one thing on this planet that every human being should be anal about it's the cleanliness of their anus. I wipe until I'm sure that the poop is gone, I will not walk around with a stinky bottom. To that end, baby wipes are a miracle. But why just for babies? Why not me? Why aren't more people wiping their asses with these things? They're like slightly moistened magic.

Think about it. Write a letter to big-ass-wipe and demand satisfaction from your netherly hygiene experience. Walk around clean and refreshed, not stinky and the opposite of refreshed when used as a description of cleanliness.

Try it, that's all I'm saying. It'll save you some time, keep you smelling fresh, and your sphincter will thank you. I was going to make a brown-eye/red-eye joke here, but it was sort of tasteless, so I cut it.

Number Eight.

I had a near death experience on a plane. While on mid-tour leave from Iraq, my flight out of Atlanta suffered technical difficulties. Apparently in mid-air the plane lost power to it's stabilizers. I don't know what stabilizers are, but I'm going to conjecture that they have something to do with stability, and I'm guessing that's sort of important. I'm no expert though, so I could be overreacting. Stabilizers might be the thing that keeps coffee from spilling during rough turbulence. I don't know. I'm not an airplane mechanic, or an aerospace engineer and I couldn't afford to stay at the Holiday Inn Express. I'm clueless. Anyway, I missed out on the whole experience because I was passed out drunk in my seat. I'm told it was quite harrowing.

Number Nine.

The only holiday I really like as an adult is Thanksgiving. I love food, and everybody gets the same thing. I might be a Commie.

I'm not jumping on the universal health-care bandwagon just yet. I've seen what our government can do.

On a lame side note, I don't know why doctors spend their entire careers practicing medicine. When is the big game? When are the Medical Olympics? Can we change that term to performing medicine. Magicians practice tricks and then they perform them. I think doctors could learn a thing or two from those guys. One, practice and then perform. Two, lovely young assistants, and I suppose lovely young assistants for your lovely young assistants. Three, sequins are okay, live a little.

And Ten.

I'm really pretty much done with this survey. I eat my fries with mayo whenever possible. It just tastes better. Mayonnaise is pretty delicious. I'd brush my teeth with it if I could.

Also, ten inch cocks.


I guess I tag...
Johnny Alien, the Bandit, Alejandra, Mo, Chris, Dylan, and Lewis, Jeremy, Gene and Brian because revenge is sweet and I know you won't do it again and I won't have to potentially read 10 blogs (that's 100 fucking factoids. What do I look like?)

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Banner

What do you think of that?

It took all afternoon, but I'm pretty satisfied with the results.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Worst Decision Ever Made (Coming Soon!)

I'm applying to go to college. I'm also supposed to be applying for a job. Well, more correctly, I was supposed to send off my resume to a potential employer two days ago. I'm really weighing my options right now. The job pays somewhere between double and triple what I was making in the Army, it involves a lot of travel (a plus), great health benefits, and a great northern Virginia location. It's a small business, with a very informal management structure. Everything I've heard about the job has been a positive.

So why do I get the feeling that I'm about to email the owner of this company, attach my resume, and tell him that I'm not interested in the job right now?

College. But why go to college?

Honestly, it has a little bit to do with the American habit of tying personal worth to documented accomplishments. This sort of feeds into the pseudo-rockstar aspirations of my generation. The youth segment of our culture operates under the assumption that we can grow up to be what we want to be, regardless of how devoid of talent, skill or prowess we are. If you dream it, you can be it.

That's a lie. Not everyone grows up to be President, only 43 people have ever done that. The odds are far from good. You have a better chance of winning the first time you play the lotto. I know people who've never won a game of bingo. I think shooting for McDonald's manager is a more tangible goal for most Americans. We should tell our kids that they can be anything they want to be... within reason.

"You could grow up to manage a McDonald's."

There is nothing wrong with managing a McDonald's. I'm just saying, it's a reasonable destination for the child of a working class American family. We cut the Santa Claus crap before things get too out of hand, but we let children enter into adulthood thinking some pretty fantastic bullshit. If we exposed children to reasonable goals, then wouldn't they be more satisfied when they surpass those goals? Instead of managing a McDonald's, they become a regional manager, or an owner/operator, or the owner of a chain. Owning a chain of McDonald's, by any reasonable measure, should be considered a success. Still, it can't help but feel a whole lot like a let down for someone who once dreamed of managing the whole country.

I guess what I'm saying is, instead of telling our children they can grow up to be anything they "want to be" we should be telling them that they will grow up to be anything they "are capable of being", which for most Americans is actually quite a lot of things.

Being capable of being something, and wanting to be something are two different things. I want to be the guy with a ten inch cock, but barring a medical miracle I don't see it happening. I realize my limitations. NOTE: I will probably have a ten inch cock before anyone cures cancer, or ends the AIDS epidemic Africa. Why? Because the size of my cock is a bigger cultural issue in this country. Let's be honest, there's more money in large virile cocks than in sick children and old people. And frankly, it's more fun to talk about.

So, tangent much?

What's this have to do with the choice between college and employment? I guess I never really saw myself having a good paying job. I'm just not sure I need it. I know my limitations, and I also know that I'm a commercially viable writer. I want to make that money on my own terms. Taking this job wouldn't interfere with my publication at all, it wouldn't stop me from becoming what I've always dreamed of being.

So what's all the fuss about?

So why go to college?

Probably to meet girls. Seriously. I think that might be it. The degree itself isn't necessarily appealing in its own right, I just have this money that the Army promised me for college and I kind of want to use it. The problem is that I have too many choices, and my options aren't bad. So if work is clearly the more profitable and, by most measures, the best option available to me... then why go to college?

Social interaction.

I want to be judged on my dreams, not on my skills. I want to be around people who haven't failed at achieving their goals yet. I want to be in an environment where I can focus on being the person I want to be, not just the man I am capable of being. That and maybe I can pick up a pretty grad student who will get a good job and support me while I work on my "craft".

So, to all the adults out there who lied to me. Thanks for helping me make what could turn out to be the worst decision of my life.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wake up Call

So, Monday, I was outside the unemployment office... I mean, the library. I was reading a city ordnance about noise pollution in English and Korean (one of the few chances I get to bone up on my language skills outside the menu at the Korean Barbecue), when a young man of about 20 years approached me. First, he bummed a cigarette. The smoker's code dictates that if you have more than one then fork it over. I gave him a cigarette and turned back to reading, not particularly interested in engaging in conversation. He , however, had a different plan for the next three minutes of my life. I was to be regaled with tales of... suitably ironic adjectives fail me. So here's approximately how the conversation went...

Him: Hey. You remember Woody Woodpecker? You know? The cartoon.

At this point he was reaching for his cellphone. Alarms were going off. Big alarms. Flashy red-light alarms. Germans bombing London alarms. This guy was about to show me pictures of Woody Woodpecker fucking something.

Me: Yeah.

Him: Heh heh. Check this out.

He showed me a picture of Woody Woodpecker fucking a woman doggy-style.

Me: Inspiring.

Him: Yeah, now I have to send it to all my friends. And then I'll get a bunch of text messages and people will be like "What the fuck?" Heh heh.

Thomas Edison would be proud. This guy has friends.

Me: Maybe.

Him: And the really fucked up thing is my girl has the car, so I have to wait for her to pick me up.

The really fucked up thing is the three day waiting period to purchase firearms at Wal-Mart. He has friends and a girlfriend. There is no hope.

It's okay to laugh at Woody Woodpecker fucking someone when you're thirteen, that stuff was hilarious. 'Was' being the operative word. Eventually though, you've got to grow up. It doesn't seem like enough people are growing up. I guess I could say something about opportunities in America... but Christ, I have a feeling I'd just end up sounding more like an elitist prick. There's got to be a way to unlearn stupid.

Thankfully, this encounter helped me come to a realization. I need to make something out of my life quickly, or I'm going to be surrounded by pictures of beloved cartoon characters fucking things until I die.

College, gainful employment... here I come. That'll teach me for hanging out in front of the library.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Confusion. Electric Cars and Smoking in Bars.

Last night I went on one of those YouTube walk-abouts that makes doing productive things like writing extraordinarily difficult. Some how, in the course of being damned to hell by thiests, poorly represented by outspoken athiests and completely baffled by scientology, I came across a surprising series of videos. Someone had ripped the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" to YouTube in nine parts. The whole thing was astonishing and mesmerizing for a number of reasons.


In 1996 GM's Saturn division released the EV1, leasing 800 of these vehicles to drivers in California in response to the state's tough environmental legislature. These cars were on the road, in the hands of a test-group of consumers. Honda, Ford, Nissan, Toyota and Chrysler all released electric cars during this brief period between 1996 and 2000. Today, these vehicles are conspicuously unavailable.

The primary focus of the film is the radical lengths that automakers and various other organizations went to not only terminate the EV1 program, but to essentially erase its existence from the American consciousness. The EV1s were reclaimed from their drivers by the GM company, in spite of many offers to purchase the vehicles and assume maintenance responsibilities. They were trucked to GM's proving grounds in Arizona and scrapped. GM, however, assures the public that they were recycled... I guess they just needed the material to make more Hummers.

The documentary delves fairly deep into the issue, figuring out how America's government and industries dropped the ball on what could have been one of the most significant social revolutions of the last 100 years (not to mention the crux of one of America's chief economic and environmental struggles for the next 50 years).

It's dumbfounding that our politicians can get behind podiums and preach non-reliance on foreign oil supplies, researching alternative fuels and environmental initiatives when the primary solution was proven viable more than ten years ago. It's a slap in the face. It's a lie. The technology exists and has existed in one form or another for the better part of a century. Enough verbal slight-of-hand.

In the New Hampshire Republican debates hosted by ABC, Rudy Giuliani made a strong case for reducing dependency on foreign oil production as a matter of national security. He suggested a program comparable to the one that put man on the moon. Guess what? Man's already been on the moon, now we just need to keep him there.

This leads me to something of a personal conundrum, in so far as my political views go. How do I reconcile my desire to see a zero emissions electric car on the market with my view of a free economy driven by market forces and a business owner's right to self-determination? I can't.

I believe that outlawing smoking in bars is wrong. It infringes on the rights of an establishment to determine its environment, and prevents American citizens from engaging in a perfectly legal activity in a public area. Where these ordnances have passed, the business owner has been robbed of the right to offer a specific atmosphere that appeals to a particular group of patrons. All this for the sake of public health and the betterment of America.

I can't argue that cigarettes aren't bad for people, but I cannot in turn approve of any legislation that saps the liberties of citizens to conduct themselves freely. I support the rights of businesses to ban smoking in their establishment if that's the environment they want to offer their customers.

So what does smoking in bars have to do with the electric car? Everything.

My support of the government's right, or rather the government's duty, to mandate that automobile manufacturers have to produce viable zero emissions electric cars stems from the same line of reasoning. The idea that the government can impose restrictions on the nature of the end product or service provided by a business is a slippery ethical slope.

I can make a thousand arguments for the forced production of electric cars, but in the end all I'm doing is playing nanny for a conscienceless industry built on profit margins. In the end though, I have to condone safeguarding the American people against fraud. That's what this is, it's fraud, we are being sold an inferior product at great expense to our environment, our finances and our national security. It's also a message to the American consumer from the American consumer, you're dumb.

If our government was serious about opposing Hugo Chavez, we'd build an electric car. If North Korea was serious about opposing the United States, so would they. Instead, we build Hummers so we can buy oil from nations with significant anti-American leanings and they build nukes to make us look bad when we don't send them food to feed their starving masses. Way to go everybody, let's have a nice slow sarcastic clap for humanity.

I guess what I learned from this documentary is something that I may have already suspected about myself, my ideology is not perfect. Sometimes it becomes necessary to prioritize your beliefs and let one fail so that the other, more important belief, might succeed.

Here's the first of the series of YouTube segments for "Who Killed the Electric Car?" Once again, I encourage you to buy this, and not steal it from the internet, since these people deserve to get back every dime they spent on their documentary. Once again, I will sacrifice one of my beliefs and say... the message of this film is more important than compensating the people who made it. Do what you think is right...

Update: I found this blog post on Oikos that tackles the economic benefit of fuel efficiency.

Oikos: Will fuel efficiency laws save motorists money?