aliens

Halloween takes on an entirely different meaning as I get older. Growing up, it was one of my least favorite holidays. I’ve never been a fan of dressing up in costume – I find myself uncreative due to a dearth of motivation, and I always feel stupid running around in anything half-assed. The candy was lovely, except that most of my Halloweens were spent trick-or-treating alone. While this meant I could go at an extremely fast pace and hit up a large volume of houses (several occasions saw me end the night with fully two or three grocery bags of candy), there was little joy to the process, and certainly no artistic expression. Mostly I just dressed up in black and called myself some variation of ninja or wraith.

More recent days stress the elements of costume parties mixed with copious alcohol, and it was a rather sudden realization to find myself anticipating the weekend and its associated festivities. While I continue to lack any desire for costume-wearing, I delightfully found that there are enough others in the same boat so as to eliminate any of the social awkwardness involved with being the only one not in costume. I can instead enjoy the spectacle of silliness and broken social inhibitions of those around me.

While it might be considered irresponsible or immature to embrace this sort of tradition, American culture necessarily depends on these holidays. Having no long-term traditions or rituals from our heredity or locale, we need the sanction of a holiday – however obscured from its origins or overtaken by marketing schemes – to do what humans need to do: interact. We find ourselves devoid of good excuses to get together and celebrate our existence, and the grind of the day-to-day brings us to forget that our lives are worth delighting in. Halloween is certainly a weak band-aid for a problem that runs far deeper than one holiday, or even a “holiday season” can attempt to address, but for now, it’s the best that we can manage.

the lost and the lonely

My peers are hopelessly divided between the pretty and the ugly.

Nobody would ever put it like that – such terms are uncouth to our ears. Yet our words cannot hide our actions. I go to one group, and clustered together are meticulously prepared mirages of persons, yearning to be judged and found acceptable by the discerning. I go to another, and the art of presentation has been lost, drowned by society’s unspoken demands, embracing a hopelessness that provides solace against the onslaught of judgment.

The beauty around me is corrupted, marching its way into meaningless oblivion as it hungrily pursues itself, its incest creating a fog of self-absorption. I wander the halls looking for beauty, but I do not find it. Each woman is the same as the next, offering fake smiles to match their fake hair. At least they are consistent. The men speak in voices deeper than puberty granted them, wearing attitudes of pre-packaged rebellion like fine jewelry.

There is a solution, but I know not what it is.

apart

One of the frustrating aspects of my sociology classes is this never-ending truth that I live in a society that has a really, really dark history, coupled with the fact that things are still pretty dark, if I take an honest look around me. While that’s not particularly new, as I grow older I can’t escape the fact that I am, at the core, a product of this society and many of my values are pretty American, no matter how much I might vie for moral and intellectual independence.

I wish, for example, that we gave more weight to the importance of family, geographically speaking. I’ve always thought it would be better to live in a society where leaving home at eighteen wasn’t the expectation, yet I find myself in a situation in which the only practical solution is for me to do just that. As much as I believe in the virtue of self-control and humility, in the art and form of love, all of that seems to break down with each passing day living at home. A part of me wants to stay home just that I might prove society wrong and show that one can be a fully-developed person while still living with one’s parents, and I stubbornly cling to this ideal in the face of the reality that it’s just not going to work. Having consumed the essence of Americana for nearly twenty years, I am fate-bound; I cannot value the things that I do and be the way that I am, and yet peacably live at home.

That’s not to victimize myself, but merely to say that I am thoroughly American, and my parents equally so. It’s not just my values at play, here, but theirs as well. The style of American parenting is often highly control-based, a methodology that does not mesh well with the existence of independent children within the household. I would have to submit to that control – minor though it may be at this point – a thought which repulses my American sensibilities, those qualities of self-reliance and self-actualization. Modern Americans are to find their identities outside the home, a process which does not lend itself to living at home.

One of the most distressing by-products of this is the diminished status of those whom do not find themselves independent. We relegate adult dependents back to a child-like status, into institutions and nursing homes, and we pay the people that run those places poorly, that we independents might live and breathe without restriction. It is only with the advent of new technology and medicine that we begin to see the disabled as viable members of society. The irony of this is that America regards its actual children with a strange paranoia. We fear their arrival with intense trepidation and declare their presence as among the most life-damning possibilities (though for some, that really is true), and yet we bend over backwards to protect them beyond all logical necessity, and we obsess over some of the most statistically improbable catastrophes.

Yet, here I am, giddy with the thought of embarking on this journey of self-determination, my head full of the limitless possibilities and the myriad details that will be my responsibility, and mine alone. Not that it’s happening really soon or anything; still have to apply for student loans and all.

ware

In general, I’m a terrible gift-giver and the Christmas season is always a little embarrassing for me. I can rarely think of a gift I’d like to give, and I’d much sooner give nothing than resort to a gift card or sommat. I’d rather be thought a miser than uninspired or generic.

Once in a while, however, I do find something that I want to share with another person. An Awesome Book was such an item, and I purchased one for each of my nephews. I also enjoyed the author’s short description of his book.

Something that brings me to despair very quickly is those moments where I feel very alone in my convictions. It’s fitting that I should feel this way after the events detailed in my previous post, but depending on which corner of the internet that I lurk in, the situation can feel very hopeless. Between the hum-drum catastrophes of every-day news and the endlessly pessimistic and self-righteous commentary that follows, it’s hard not to feel helpless and unimportant. A popular decision is to embrace that feeling, too, that one person truly can’t make a difference in light of such ridiculous circumstances. This resignation, of course, is a verbose excuse for laziness.

This is the attitude I was attempting to address in scones. It’s a common scene to see people complain about the status quo without recognizing their part in creating it or contributing towards the solution to the problem. If this weren’t already bad enough in real life, these tendencies are amplified by a factor of ten on the internet. I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise when we value independence as highly as we do. If we are as independent as we believe we are, then we cannot influence each other as much as would be necessary to drive the change we wish to see. It’s a good thing, then, that we are wrong.

Mean

An addendum to my lower entry.

I was pondering why exactly “normal” is considered the opposite of unique. From my words yesterday, it’s obvious that I don’t think normalcy at all a negative thing. Yet if you know me, you know I take pride in being unique.

I decided that people confuse normalcy with being average. It’s not a completely incorrect assumption; in many regards, what is average is what is normal, it’s what can and should be expected. A test score, income, life expectancy. In some ways, we’re forced into being average (which is when people are most prone to fight for identity). I’m a white middle-class male. Yet we wouldn’t say that’s normal, that’s just common. If we apply the same logic to other aspects of life, it becomes easy to see that correlation is not causation – being average doesn’t make you normal, they just happen to correlate with some matters.

My point is that it’s this distinction that allows one to be normal and yet outside the average, uncommon. Or, to modify the words of Mark Twain, “Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us would be average.” It’s a harsh reality that foolishness is the average for humanity, and I think we’d be hard pressed to find evidence otherwise.

That’s how I came to believe that the extraordinary are truly just normal.

I have high expectations for humanity, I guess.

Budding Terrorists

From Slashdot:

“A student at the Houston-area Clements High School was arrested, sent to an “Alternative Education Center” and banned from graduation after school officials found he created a video game map of his school. School district police arrested the teen and searched his home where they confiscated a hammer as a ‘potential weapon’. ‘ “They decided he was a terroristic threat,” said one source close to the district’s investigation.’ With an upcoming May 12 school board election, this issue has quickly become political, with school board members involved in the appeal accusing each other of pandering to the Chinese community in an attempt to gain votes.”

One more, two more.

Some good comments:

I made a map of my school shortly after the Columbine thing, for Duke Nuken 3D.

I got extra credit from my Visual Arts teacher for being ‘creative’, and lemme tell you, I had a HELL of a lot more than a hammer for weapons at my house.”

(in response)

My Visual Arts teacher gave me an “Incomplete” for the course. I shouldn’t have made my map for Duke Nukem Forever.

Dude, you are way underestimating the seriousness of this issue. They found a hammer in this kid’s house…a fucking HAMMER. He could easily have knocked one, maybe even two people unconscious with that thing before anyone could do anything about it.

What does anyone need with a hammer in their house anyway? Forget about banning him from graduation, this little mini-Osama should get sent straight to Gitmo. There is absolutely no reason to have a hammer in your home unless you intend to commit a terrorist act.

Plus, if all that weren’t bad enough, this kid is ASIAN. Christ man, do you have any idea how crazy those Asians are? One of them killed a bunch of people at Virginia Tech just a short time ago. This categorically PROVES that all Asians are sociopaths just itching to shoot up a school. You can’t argue with this logic, it is completely impervious.

You have no idea what we’re up against here, man. This shit is SERIOUS. Don’t come crying to me when your kid comes home with a big nasty bump on his head because one of these little Asian al Qaeda wannabes smacked him over the head with a mallet. You were warned.”

(in response)

I spoke with Charles Hammerton about this, and you are neglecting many aspects.

He might have had the hammer for home defence. There is nothing wrong with some sport hammering from time to time. Of course, we believe that hammers should be licensed, and background checks done before a hammer can be purchased. Training is, of course, very important, and hammers should never be left where children could harm themselves with them. If appropriate, a hammer lock can be had at any high school that teaches wrestling.

Dont forget about the constitution, and the right to bear hammers.

Responsible hammer ownership is a right, and should not be infringed by a few nut cases.

As Charles said “you can have my hammer, when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers”.”

Dont forget about the constitution, and the right to bear hammers.

People are always misquoting that amendment. It’s the right to hammer bears. Which, as the supreme court affirmed in smokey v. ashcroft, means that you have the right to get a bear drunk if it’s more than 18 years old.”

(in response)

He could easily have knocked one, maybe even two people unconscious with that thing before anyone could do anything about it.

As a proud, lifetime member of the National Hammer Association, I must insist that we not go too far here. It’s part of our constitutional rights – the right to Arm and Hammer – to arm ourselves with hammers. This incident is merely one more reason that everyone ought to carry hamers everywhere they go – if others had been armed with hammers, this student would have had a serious disincentive to consider possibly carrying out the egregious act he was prevented from possibly committing.

Soon, crazy liberal will want to outlaw air hammers, jack hammers, Mike Hammers, pipe hammers – even Diesel hammers – you name it. Act now to preserve your hammer rights – join the NHA.”

(in response)

Hey! If we outlaw hammers, only outlaws will be able to put shelves up!

(in response)

Don’t underestimate the hammer. Remember the Blacksmith of Brandywine.

During the US revolutionary war, a blacksmith performed an errand for General Washington, only to return home and find that redcoats had murdered his family in his absence. The blacksmith took a heavy sledge from his workshop and walked onto the battlefield of Brandywine. There, before they finally brought him down, he slew 20 british soldiers. With a hammer.

No, I’m not being serious about a hammer being a viable weapon, not these days. (Although note that the Blacksmith story is true, from all references I can find.)

I just found it ironic, that the Blacksmith of Brandywine went on a murderous rampage in response to oppression from a ruthless government…and now, our government is so scared of our children that they’re even taking our hammers away.”

1. It is not illegal to create game maps for a first-person shooter game.
2. It is not illegal to show maps for a first-person shooter game to someone else.
3. It is not illegal to possess five swords.
4. The board had nothing to react to in the first place.
5. The student committed no crime for which the police could legally arrest him, at least pre-PATRIOT Act.

He, an honor student, was removed from his high school and forced to attend an alternative (read: for delinquents) education center, will not be allowed to receive his diploma with the rest of his class, and will probably have difficulty, if not being accepted to, at least getting financial aid for a good college. All because he went to a school staffed and parented by a group of reactionary morons.

How should the school have handled it? There’s nothing to handle. When/if parents complained, the appropriate authority figures should have repeated my response to #1: “It is not illegal to create game maps for a first-person shooter game.””

A terrorist under every rock, and a WMD in every child’s hand. When will this crap cease and common sense prevail?

Oh, that’s right: never.

I’d read the article, but it’s been Slashdotted.”

(in response)

Since I’m from the deep south (somewhere east of Texas and west of Mississippi) I feel qualified to say…

This is par for the course in this part of the United States. Ignorance, fear and xenophobia run rampant, white men run everything, and opportunism prevails at every turn. Police forces are treated as a paramilitary force, and zero tolerance is the rule in schools – even though it only means that more kids every year get fewer chances at straightening up and becoming successful.

Louisiana (and other population-losing red states) wonder why it’s best and brightest move away as soon as they finish college – crap like this is the reason why.”

An overreaction is when you lock up someone for life when they stole a loaf of bread. This doesn’t even accomplish their stated goal – to protect their school from an unbalanced and violent individual.

Let’s assume for a second that they are right. The guy is violent, mentally unstable and is using his home grown CS map to practice his planned killing spree (which was apparently to be carried out with a hammer). What do they do? They merely transfer him to a different school. In no way, shape or form do any of the school’s actions prevent him from entering the school again and carrying out his assumed plans. At best, they’ve moved the problem to a different place, and put others at risk that hadn’t been at risk before. At worst, it really pisses him off, and he escalates his planned violence (pipe bombs really aren’t hard to make). Any which way you look at it, the actions of the school and the police were completely irresponsible.

Factor in that the guy had none of these plans to begin with, and you’re looking at a massively incompetent school administration, board and police whose only goal is to cover their ass. They don’t care whether what they did solved any issues; all they wanted was to have something to point to if the student does go apeshit and the inevitable question of “who’s to blame?” rolls around.

The US is going down the shitter, and attitudes like these towards kids and education are the reason why. Way to ruin your future generation.”

I died a little on the inside when I read this. 🙁

(in response)

Don’t worry, you’ll respawn in Mrs. Crabapple’s classroom for round 2.

Psychoanalyzation

This year’s return in candy was, dare I say, pathetic. I’m left with what could barely be called handfuls of candy, disregarding the large piles left from what we didn’t hand out. The process of gathering the candy amounted to less fun than desired, as well. Listening to the melodramatic “situations” in other people’s lives isn’t what I was particularly hoping for in my Halloween night. Returning home was satisfying, though, sitting in the attic and sorting through my pitiful collection of candy, watching the remaining half of the Sixth Sense, which for some reason I saw at the ripe old age of 11, which, in retrospect, might have been a little too young.

Edit: I failed to mention, my costume was exceedingly brilliant. I was, as some of you know, Dr. Schrödinger, the physicist who developed the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment. I sort of (not really) attempted to look like a scientist and carried a box labeled “cat”, but absolutely no one understood it. No one.

Returning to the melodrama I spoke of; I think people like to psychoanalyze and gossip about other people’s lives because their own lives are otherwise too boring and generic. Making a big deal over things that absolutely don’t matter is an excuse to not think about that which actually matters. A further possibility is that people just want something to talk about all the time, another concept that I fail to find myself comprehending. Imagine the horror of having nothing to say (or, ideally, just refraining from saying anything) (also, note the sarcasm of this sentence).

It reminds me a bit of the social commentary within the sixth season of the Sopranos. One of the things they suggested is that we, as a people, are bored, and participate in vaguely stupid activities to cure this. The case they cited would be carnival rides, like the generic spinning teacup thingo (we’ve all seen and/or ridden it, kind of like your mom). The actual event of getting in a metal hemisphere decorated like a cup and spinning around for fifty seconds isn’t fun, but the concept of being thrown around by something more powerful than you, that you have no control over, is. More precisely, the possibility of danger, such as the safeties failing, is what makes it fun. I’m not sure I entirely agree, but it is at least somewhat accurate, in that we’re seeking to inject something more interesting than ourselves into our lives, as if what we have isn’t enough.

I’m not suggesting we should be self-reliant and isolated. It merely seems to me that people are too reliant on artificial thrills. This is a broad statement – it stretches from alcoholism to thrill-seeking to…a whole lot of other things. Perhaps I’m guilty of this as well, but I don’t really know. Refer to the title of this post for my justification to speak so arrogantly on the matter.

Oh, in other news, I ran the mile in 6:11 (lol, that’s my address number), which I’m extremely confident I can do better on (I’m thinking like 5:50).

I also hit 39 in Wow (shut up, 60s), and have been positively mopping up in PvP. Then again, it’s not a PvP server (and the server as a whole suxxors), but has been fun regardless.

As for SK, my enthusiasm has slowed down a bit as of late. You have played 766 hour(s) so far.

EDIT: lolz

The Otaku Alliance

I bring you a dual-media post, containing both a podcast as well as a post! This is Paul-style, with music and even a rip-off of his introduction! I tried to add some crazy effects to the introduction, but all I could do was make it echo, or change the pitch. Neither were what I wanted. Anyways, I had to chop this one up a lot, so there are some obvious changes in tone and inflection occasionally. Not intended (except for in the beginning).

#6 – “X3 Sucked”

Muzak – “Answers” by Vigilante, “The Price is Right Techno Remix” by a guy on YTMND.

As noted within the podcast, #5 was fully produced, but came out with large technical issues. If you’re so inclined, you can listen to it, but it’s pretty messed up. I reused some (a lot) of the content from #5 for #6, so that will make it even less interesting. I actually liked #5 a lot more than #6, but you can’t reproduce this stuff at will. Anyways, I can see you’re all desperate to procastinate, so, here you go.

#5 – “Super Deciding Banana Antics”

Anyways. I suppose I enjoyed my weekend – I have something of a tan from all the mowing. Speaking of which, I now have 6 customers, resulting in 80 bucks for every round of mowing I do. Not bad, although with all this mowing I’m gonna have to pay for the blade sharpening and the gas (I haven’t had to before). Non-taxable, though. I’m still gonna apply at Greenstar, since I don’t want to rely on such a varied resource for my income. It’s nice having money again, though. Nothing makes me feel more out of place than having people pay for me. It’s also nice to be able to get people presents on their birthdays.

Speaking of which, I went and saw X3 with Christopher on Saturday, as a pseudo-birthday present for him. I’m assuming most of you now realize that the title for Podcast #6 was a complete lie – I just wanted to proudly state that it sucked hard. Way, way hard. They completely overused Wolverine/Hugh Jackman, and gave him the worst dialogue heard in a movie since Star Wars (“It’s a trap!”). Motivational speeches, TWO references to the title of the movie, and one-liners abound, attached to one of the most disorganized and improbable plots I’ve seen in a while, with mediocre production qualities (did they really need a 1/3 scale model of the golden gate bridge?), and total abandonment of the X-Men canon (Jean never killed any essential characters), combined for a truly terrible move. Christopher and I laughed about it the whole way home.

Soon after, Paul and Karen rescued me from certain doom, and we went to see Thank You For Smoking, which was still quite good the second time. Afterwards we realized that no Chinese places were open at 11:30 PM, so we went to Wegman’s. Now, I was way confused – I thought we were actually looking for food, but we ended up in the candy section, and somehow, I ended up with 1.5 lbs of gummy bears and 3 boxes of Pocky (note this for later). Likewise, Paul was assailed by dozens of feet of licorice, and we managed to escape with our lives, and even a little money.

In all honesty, though, I was confused as to why we were strolling the empty deli section, as well as to why Karen was buying some of the nastiest salmon I’ve ever tasted, until I realized that I was actually buying my dinner. I remained confused when we just sat down and ate it in the car – perhaps I’m just silly, but the car seemed awfully lacking in convenience and an atmosphere conducive to eating. But hey, I shouldn’t be complaining.

In other news, I think I’m turning into an otaku or japanophile or something. I’ve started searching for more anime, and I’m patiently waiting as 6 more download (ever so slowly). I’ve been thinking about taking up learning Japanese, too – I don’t know exactly where I could learn around here, but I think it’d be totally sweet. I don’t want to turn into Steven Segal or something, but Japan in general just fascinates me. Four large alphabets sounds somewhat scary, though. Although, I suppose I already know the romaji, so it’s more like three. Except, you know, the kanji has like 2000 characters worth knowing.

I also found the the ultimate get-rich-quick scheme that I developed while mowing today.

  1. Wait for a controversial or “anti-Christian” film, book, or song/album to come out. The target must be fairly popular.
  2. Write a book addressing this piece of media. The title must include the name of the said media. In this book, “prove” that the media’s focus is wrong. Place images from the said media onto the cover of the book.
  3. ?????
  4. Profit!

Seriously, there’s like half a dozen or more books on Amazon focused on “debunking” The Da Vinci code. It’s insanity. Who cares? Is boycotting or disproving the movie doing anything for the cause of Christ? Why not take the 30 bucks you spent buying that book, and give it to someone who actually needs it? These authors are literally living off of the laziness of those who are unwilling to go research this stuff on their own. You don’t need super awesome laser technology with your lollornets and roflcology, you need common sense.

The movie apparantly sucks anyways.

Hot Coffee v2.0

As many of you should know, yet another video game scandal has boiled over, before even the mighty Jack Thompson trounced upon it (although we’ve only got, at best, a week or so before someone puts him on TV again). Oblivion has been modded to include teh nudities and was subsequently rerated to mature, at the protest of Bethesda.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. The last scandal was pretty ridiculous – there’s no reason a game should be re-rated based on material not intended for inclusion within the game, but really, San Andreas should have been rated AO off the bat, with or without the Hot Coffee mod. In the end, though, it wasn’t Rockstar’s or Take Two’s fault that someone uncommented some code. They shouldn’t be blamed for that.

I don’t feel so generous with Bethesda. Maybe their whole “pay us two bucks for a model of a horse with armor” deal put me off but, it seems that this is entirely preventable. Oblivion is an extremely well made game (and yes, I will eventually do that review thing I was talking about ages ago), and it also happens to have an engine comparable to that of the Source engine in terms of flexibility. They made it to be modded, and because their game contains female characters with an obvious need for breasts in order to maintain realism, they should expect someone to go out and do this. No, it’s not their fault if someone does, but, whose fault is it if someone steals your car because you forgot to lock the door? Not yours, but you certainly aren’t getting much pity from me.

What I mean to say is, why didn’t Bethesda take some preventative measures? I see two options here. One involves making it harder to toy with the skins on the models – this would be the lesser solution, as it would be punishing all modders for the possible actions of one modder. The other would just be to ask any and all Oblivion mod databases to not host any nudity mods. Honestly, I’m positive every one of them would comply. It’s totally reasonable. But, Oblivion didn’t do that, and now Jack Thompson’s got fresh meat.

A minor point of speculation on my part begins here. The degree of complexity to the nudity mod seems to be disputed – many people are under the impression that it requires some complex retexturing of the basic models, but that does not seem to be the case. Equally many people have described a much simpler process, one possible within the Construction Set (the editing program for Oblivion). I should stress the fact that when I was cruising through the thousands of available mods, I saw at least five mods claiming to add nudity (ironic wording there – “add” nudity). It’s one thing if the mod is mildly complex, but I don’t think this is the case.

As for the rerating of the game to Mature, I think it’s stupid that it was rerated over a mod. It’s kind of like (using the car analogy again) blaming the car manufacturer for car theft (there are obvious cases in which this is reasonable, but, stick with me here). Oblivion probably should have been rated M anyways, though. As many have pointed out, you’re gonna find rotting corpses, on fire, hanging from the ceiling, with knocked over chairs below them. And once you get close enough, you can take the gold and meat out, complete with a squishing noise as you open and close the inventory! I’m no proponent of the idea that we should ban anyone below 18 from buying such horrid filth, but really, there’s stuff in the game that makes me cringe occasionally. Are breasts really worse than decapitated corpses and festering zombies?

I think the ESRB generally does an okay job of rating games, but I just hate to see them become pawns of the lesser forces in our country. It is an inevitability, of course, but one that I hate to see nonetheless.

I Feel the Winter

I’d really like to go to Italy some time. Ancient Rome is possibly one of my favorite subjects in history, and the terrain is exactly what I go for – hilly, lush, diverse. It’s really the only European country (with the Scandanavians – Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway – as the exceptions) that interests me. Not that I would want to live there, but some day, when I’m rich and famous, I could go for it.

I’m really enjoying The Catcher in the Rye. I didn’t like it at first, because it was just the monologue of an angsty teenager. As I’ve read on, however, I realize there’s a lot in Holden that’s extremely easy to relate to, but there’s a complexity to the character that makes it hard to interpret. I had this really interesting discussion with a girl in my English class (as the rest of the class sort of sat there and said nothing) about whether or not Holden is, at heart, untrue to himself and just a coward, or whether he’s really emotional/opinionated but unable to express himself in a way that others understand, and is thus forced to comply with the social norms to function. I argued for the latter.

The real point is, this is really the first book I’ve come across in the high school curriculum that approaches any level of intellectual complexity. Maybe I was just encouraged more by the fact that another person exists that even has the desire to discuss this kind of stuff in detail. I don’t mean to say that we actually bothered to continue talking about it after our 45 minutes of class ended; Lord knows that will never happen. Only politics and religion could pull enough interest out of any given acquaintence to permit prolonged discussion.

Things have been very surreal. I’ve been watching people around me grow up – I’ve been carefully marking the point at which the line between us and Joe “sixpack” Smith on TV is blurred. I don’t doubt my own maturity, but it is strange to watch everything around me continue to grow, but in a very, very demoralizing sense, not change. To illustrate what I mean, look at American histroy. We’re discussing the “growth” of industry in the late 19th century in US History, the same “ideas” of the time are inescapably true today. We are owned by “the man”, the corporations, “the system”, as it were (this is so cliche). I understand why this is, and why this will never change, despite what illusions we may create. The knowledge that humanity is no different than it was at any point in time is very demoralizing, especially in the sense that I will not live to see “better days”. Days with less blatant acts of sexism, racism, homophobia, or whatever discrimination of your choice, I will probably see. It will simply be traded off for another culturally acceptable evil that, in time, will morph from the norm to teh ev0l.

Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do, are doomed to watch as it is repeated by those who do not know it.

I could end the post here for dramatic effect, but I feel like noting the fact that nobody will comment on this post – whenever I make these type of posts, the numbers are very low, possibly because nobody can find anything funny to say to break the mood of the post, or because nobody feels like debating whatever I’ve said. Please, though, I do enjoy discussion. Write thoughts, if nothing else.

Mmm, Pie

Once again, I bring to you a revolution in my thinking on a popular topic. Marijauna is today’s subject. I bring to you a poll, reflecting the opinions of a whole lot of people. Some of you have given me your thoughts, some of you haven’t.

As you can see, it is mostly balanced. Many of those who said yes are my more conservative friends. Interestingly enough, the ones who said no are not stoners. For those of you who are asking yourselves “Wait, he said marijauna, not Cannabis!”, Cannabis is the name for all species of marijauna, that which is used for hemp as well as drugs.

As a starting point, I suggest some of you go read the wiki on the Cannabis drug. I know a lot of you don’t want to do that, so I’ll summarize the important points. I’ll try and be as non-biased as I can.

Cannabis has been around for practically ever. It isn’t new. At all. Scythia and Thracians used it (about 2000 years ago), and was a big part of most Western culture up until the early 20th century. What happened, you ask? Fear-mongering, akin to the Red Scare of the 50’s, produced by a single man seeking political power. Does this kind of slogan sound familiar to you?


Beware! Young and Old – People in All Walks of Life! This may be handed to you by the friendly stranger. It contains the Killer Drug “Marihauna”, a powerful narcotic in which lurks MURDER! INSANITY! DEATH!

This is lead to extreme taxes on all marijauna (Maria Joana), contrary to the advice of the Amercian Health Association at the time. Think $100 per pound. That’s crazy expensive even now, and insane at the time. It also required all merchants selling marijauna to register with the police, giving them all their information, a violation of the fifth amendment. This was not smacked down until 1963, but by then, all 50 states had banned marijauna outright. Posession or use of Cannabis was not made a federal crime until 1970, with the CSA, placing it alongside Schedule I drugs, like Heroin, Ecstasy, and LSD (Schedule I is the “most dangerous”, Schedule IV is “least dangerous”). It’s a full schedule above Ritalin and Speed, two schedules above steroids, and three schedules above Rufies. Look ’em up.

It is obviously considered a highly dangerous drug. So it’s got to do something bad, right? Time for a bulleted list. The bad effects include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Lowered coordination
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Enhanced stress or anxiety*
  • Enhanced nausea, dizziness, or headaches*
  • Short-term memory difficulty (this is debated)*
  • Hallucinations (in large doses)*

Doesn’t sound good does it? Note the asterisks. Those are effects that are supposedly uncommon or rare. Those effects are generally dependent on the person using them. Marijauna has the opposite effects on the positive side, so they obviously don’t happen all the time. Speaking of the good effects, let’s have another bulleted list:

  • Mild Euphoria
  • Increased appreciation of humor, art, music, colors, patterns, and food.
  • Increased mental acuity, sensory perception, and awareness.
  • Enhanced memory of past events and introspection.
  • Reduces headaches, nausea, stress and pain.

That about sums up all the good and bad effects with the short term. I won’t even touch the benefits for those with any kind of potent illness. Read for yourself, there’s tons. THC (the main active chemical) has a lot of uses, and marijauna in its entirity has even more. As for the long-term problems? I will list off all the common mythical problems with long-term usage. A bulleted list is again in call here.

  • Death

There are no recorded cases of an overdose of marijauna. It is estimated that the only way one could overdose on marijauna – requiring 42mg/kg of weight in the human body. Basically, for a 165 lb male to overdose, he’d have to smoke a minimum of 22 cigarettes with the maximum potency, with no loss of THC (the “killer” element) whatsoever. The last two factors make this almost entirely impossible, let alone the feasibility of doing so. Marijauna makes you sleepy, who knows how tired you’d be before the end of that run.

  • Addiction

Marijauna is not naturally addictive. The most addictive use of it is as a sleep aid. In this way, it is as addictive as sleeping aids. Even then, withdrawl symptoms include feeling mild depression, sleeplessness, and anxiety. THC also stays in the system for several days, causing the withdrawl to come very gradually. And no, the effects don’t last for that period of time.

  • Lung pollution

Marijauna is, in fact, a mild pollutant to the body. Compared to cigarettes, it is much less harmful. The tar in marijauna sticks to the lungs differently – it does not reach the alveoli, meaning it inhibits breathing less, and comes out much faster with time.

  • Psychosis, Schizophrenia, and Depression

These are symptoms evident in a certain group of users. It was initially thought to be apparant in all users, but upon further study, it has been shown that mental disorders only develop under two circumstances: frequent adolescent use, and genetic predisposition towards these illnesses. To develop these requires frequent use over a long period of time (months, possibly years). This ONLY occurs in those with a genetic predisposition – adolescent use increases the chance of those with the predisposition. Marijauna can also conflict with other drugs, causing problems, but generally only in cases of antipsychotic medication. That’s basic medicine though, it’s why alcohol plus basically any drug is bad.

If you still think marijauna is bad, think about alcohol. Alcohol has a lot of contributions to society. Just think about it. Drunk driving, enhancing violence, enhancing depression, overdosing, alcoholism, it’s just a great thing. Obviously we stopped trying prohibition because it just didn’t work, stopping millions from using it entirely is almost impossible. I consider alcohol fine in small amounts (ex. a few glasses of wine or cans of beer, know your limits), although I personally only like really sweet wines, and on occassion champagne.

My conclusion? There is no reason it should be banned from medical usage. If it were to be totally legalized, there would have to be an age minimum (18, as per usual). Benefits to this would be that the government could tax it. The total revenue from the uses as hemp, medicine, and recreation would be huge. And we all know the government needs more money right now.

All that said, I’ve never touched the stuff, and don’t plan to. If it were legalized, well, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. The big concern is the decreased inhibition. My logic is that if alcohol is okay (as in, you won’t be acting like a duck in the midst of communist Russia after a glass of Guinness), how different is this? This is the question it comes down to for me. Challenge me here.

The One Redeeming Quality

Something I’d forgotten over the past few years is something about Ithaca that redeems most of the liberal extremists, leftist tree-huggers, and drugged up hippies.

During my daily checking of Slashdot, I came across an article about video game violence, written by a student who went to Columbine during the shootings, and was friends with the shooters and the shot. I’m always on the hunt for good backup for the day when I’ll have to defend myself against someone who doesn’t understand what I do for a hobby, so I checked it out, and also read the comments on the article on /..

The sole blessing of Ithaca is the fact that as a high school student, I can be who I am, and I am not going to suffer in any way for that. Seeing stories about ignorant parents who take away their child’s computer permanently and news about geeks like myself having their only defense against the sucky world that is high school taken away, really strikes home. God has blessed me with parents that know and understand me enough to see that the tube I sit in front of all day is not a handicap or an escape. Knowing that other parents are foolish enough to give into the public hysteria that is the mainstream media pains me.

I am comforted to know I don’t have to deal with real rednecks and jocks.

Not that I’m stereotyping or anything.

But it’s not like they’ll find out anyways, being rednecks and jocks.

That wasn’t a stereotype either.