the tenets of my bleeding heart

edit: The first commenter made a very salient point, that my train of thought is quite incomplete at the end. There were a few paragraphs missing – hopefully I’ve managed to remedy this.

I have not often strayed into discussing the directly political, but I am gradually understanding that if I want to pretend to be an agent of change, I have to face facts. The slow, creeping resignation that changing society means more than just changing minds has forced me to stop and take stock of what I really believe when it comes to the role of government and the purpose of law. Politics isn’t easy conversation, but I’ve found that practice truly does make genuine discussion more viable over time. Primal emotions are accessed very rapidly as core values are placed at odds, and my knee-jerk response to toss away respect for others has to be tamed in light of the very constant reality that I really won’t find many people in the world that agree with me about everything. It’s the joy and curse of individuality.

It’s strange to rediscover what it feels like to have a moral zeal for something like, say, global warming – an issue I once believed wasn’t happening at all – and to now find myself gravely concerned for the future of the human race because of it. I’d changed my mind about it a few years back, but I didn’t quite get the “big deal” factor until more recently. It started by watching nature documentaries (if you want to feel emotional about global warming, watch a polar bear try to hunt walrus because it can’t find land), but relentlessly consuming TED talks and working with brand new ecology manuscripts every day has exposed me to a lot of really potent research. Statistics are cheap, but having a glimpse into the excruciating amount of detail and thought driving the process gives meaning to otherwise anonymous numbers.

Continue reading the tenets of my bleeding heart

naturally

Even when I was still a consistent driver, I never paid much attention to bumper stickers. Aside from the minority that provide a cheap laugh, they seem to me like the most cowardly and ineffective way to make a statement. Every victim of the bumper sticker is left unable to make any sort of response; the argument starts and ends on a 12 x 3″ adhesive pad. The ultimate last word.

While I doubt the bearers of the stickers I saw while on my most recent monthly errand run really understood the philosophical and theological ramifications of their banners, some old concepts were brought to mind. A simple “JESUS is GOD” sticker brought a flood of memories of my childhood bible camp. Another “Jesus SAVES” led me on a long chain of thoughts; I’d nearly forgotten that the whole idea behind Jesus was that he’s meant to be saving us from something we cannot save ourselves from. Most people think of that something as being hell, but the more technically accurate answer is sin.

Continue reading naturally

more filler

I got this gem in the inbox today, attached with a chain email with lots of fun pictures of Obama and Blagojevich:

“Remember?

I think you mentioned the virtuosity of Mr. Obama? Mr. Clean?

1.) I won’t appoint any lobbyists to Cabinet positions – only a half dozen – unless more pay their dues.
2.) Cabinet appointees will be rigorously examined – unless it is only a few hundred thou of tax evasions.
3.) I will not tolerate “pork” in spending bills. A half trillion coddled in the “stimulus” package won’t matter much will it?
4.) I will bring bi-partisanship to capitol Hill. But Pelosi will shut Republicans out of the debate and I back whatever spending bill comes from her caucus. (And tell the public it is crucial to pass it NOW!) That is bi-partisan isn’t it?
5.) I will bring “change” to Washington. Except a horde of Clinton appointees and a few things mentioned above.
6.) I didn’t know Bill Ayers
7.) I didn’t know the Illinois Governor.

If this is honesty and transparency someone is wearing welding hoods.

I called it hot air from a snake oil salesman – from an “empty suit” (no character). Was I right?”

My response:

“G’pa,

While I appreciate the opportunity for discussion, please don’t forward chain emails – if you’d like to share an article you’ve read or a video you found interesting, send it on, by all means. Chain emails, however, aren’t a reliable basis to form an opinion from – they’re just propoganda.

Thus far, I feel Obama’s done a great job. I like the majority of his appointees. While I wasn’t big on Daschle’s connections to big pharma, he was a very firm against single-payer health care, and I liked that. As far as tax evasion goes, I seriously doubt it was intentional for Dacschle or Geithner – no politician worth his salt purposefully makes that sort of mistake, and given the complexity of our tax code, I find it quite plausible that they simply made mistakes. I’m not such a huge fan of Geithner, especially after he alluded to some protectionist tendencies prior to his confirmation, but I’ll wait and see before I judge too harshly.

As far as the stimulus plan goes, overall I’m fond of it. I’ve read through a good bit of the original 180-page plan, and I can definitely get behind much of where the funding is going, but some of it seems ill-timed. That is, the target projects (ex: the National Mall) may important and useful, now isn’t exactly the time to be renovating our parks – important though they may be. There’s a fair bit that can be trimmed down, but neither party is doing what it takes to find out what both parties can agree to removing (and I’m confident there’s a lot of room for agreement). The process behind this bill has been disastrous. Multiple Republican senators have said they’ll reject the whole bill, regardless of what’s added or removed. Pelosi is also a part of the problem, and she seems (to me) wholly unhelpful in seeing this bill through. Obama can’t control her, however, nor can he be blamed for either party’s refusal to play ball. The most recent meeting between Nelson and Collins is evidence towards this.

I don’t think Obama was expecting so much resistance, and he was probably relying on the passage of this bill to come through on a lot of what he wants to change, which is why he’s trying to ram it through with relatively minimal consideration. What strikes me most, however, is that he’s utilizing similar rhetoric to what Bush used to justify the PATRIOT act, or the FISA amendments, or the war in Iraq. A lot of that is fairly standard political jargon, but I think if he wants to separate himself from previous administrations, he needs to come up with some new strategies.

I maintain that Obama’s a great guy, and his actions over the past few weeks have supported my feelings about him. Closing Guantanamo, exposing the current and past presidential records, denying Citibank its $50m jet, the $100k salary caps on White House employees, the $500k salary cap for all CEOs receiving bailout money, re-enforcing existing laws on interrogation, his weekly youtube addresses, and the simple fact that I can find all of his executive orders, memorandums, and nominations/appointments on the White House website seem to be a strong indicator that he’s starting off on the right foot and coming through on his promises of transparency and integrity.

He’s certainly not perfect, and I don’t appreciate the way he’s handling this stimulus plan – but if that and some photos of Obama with Blagojevich in a chain email are all it takes for you to hate him, then it seems to me that you’re simply looking for reasons to dislike him because he’s a Democrat. If you’re looking for reasons to dislike him, you’ll never run out – but that doesn’t mean you’ll be reasonably justified.

With love,

Timothy”

bloop.

scones

It’s times like these that I revel in the impetuosity of my youth. While I have my share of worries in the coming months over how well our nation will weather the current storms, I can’t help but enjoy the sudden rush of analyzation that results from an entire economy halting in its tracks with the realization that we have collectively made a series of giant, throbbing mistakes. It’s harder to criticize when things are going well. Nobody wants to play Negative Nancy, and the one guy that does is probably an asshole (for proof, see Michael Moore).

At the turning point for a recession, however, there’s a magical period of time where everyone gets to participate in the collective outrage. We become momentarily unified as we all point fingers in the same direction, and the rare-chance to humiliate the super-rich avails itself as we pretend that they actually give a rat’s ass about what the average citizen thinks. As reality sets in and the truth of the matter becomes more complicated than just ‘greedy men are greedy’ with each new failing corporation, an awkward moment ensues when people realize that they haven’t a damn clue what they’re talking about. They search for the nearest person they can trust to understand and solve these problems for them, all the while mumbling vague curses under their breath.

This might sound like a trite and arrogant comparison, but this is very similar to the experience I have with customers at work. In many cases, a customer will slam a laptop on the counter and pronounce very loudly, “Fix this worthless piece of shit”, and before I’ve said anything they’ve already scowled and turned their back to me. Disregarding the fact that half the time the problems they’re having are simple user error, a long series of questions immediately spring to my mind that I wish I could ask the people that come to me with this kind of attitude, and these questions resonate deeply with my regard for many of today’s complaints about the government and the economy.

The foremost question that comes to my mind, however, is this: If it’s a piece of shit, why did you buy it? (or, If he’s a piece of shit, why did you elect him?)

Customers rarely, rarely bother to research the products they buy. They expect the store to fully inform them of anything they might ever need to know, though I would estimate that less than 1 in 10 people read a single word on the contracts they sign in this store (fun fact: my store does not cover damage caused by acts of terrorism or hurricanes). Similarly, it seems to me that many voters really haven’t a clue about the kind of person they’re voting for, particularly when it comes to local and state-level politics. State and local government has at least as much impact on any given person’s daily life as the federal government, but voter turnouts for off-year elections are significantly lower than presidential elections, and people are significantly more likely just to go with their party when it comes to choosing governors, mayors, senators, and congressmen. At least, that’s the trend I’ve noticed, however unsubstantiated it might be.

I’ll be honest – I am not saint in this regard, though it’s something I’m working to improve. As of right now, I don’t know who the mayor of Ithaca is. I don’t know who the governor of New York is, since Spitzer resigned. I don’t know who the second senator of New York is. I am completely clueless, yet that doesn’t stop me from getting pissed off when some new bullshit law gets through in New York, even though I have exercised none of my rights as a citizen to make sure I know who’s doing what and how it’s being done. The customers I deal with, likewise, have in some cases spent thousands of dollars without ever considering what it is they’re truly buying, going solely off the word of one salesman whose job it is to ensure they spend as much money as possible. I would love to think these were actions born simply of trust and faith in the goodness of mankind, but the reality is that people are just lazy.

Until things stop working, of course. Then, self-righteous indignation and disgust-filled anger rouse them to action after-the-fact. Kind of like the current economic situation.

I would be fine with this whole process if people learned something from these situations. People make mistakes and overlook important details – we’re human, it happens. In some cases, people do learn – but most of the time, the conversation only ends because they’ve run out of excuses and complaints to keep it going. Likewise, my fear with the current situation is that people haven’t actually grasped why things are the way they are, beyond this vague idea that Bush really didn’t do so hot. Most people do not appear to have made any tangible connection between their own actions, and the overall state of the economy. These problems couldn’t possibly be related to the fact that Americans have been living economically unsustainable lives – no, it must be entirely the fault of a small group of faceless CEOs, wholly disconnected from the average citizen.

That’s not to say that corporate bullshit and political manhandling isn’t at play. There’s no doubt about that. Yet, have we ever expected anything different? Why do we feign surprise? For eons, jokes have been made about the endless greed and blatant corruption of America’s power players, but the notion that we have no part in these sins is false. We elect them, we buy their products, we hold stock in their companies, and we take loans from their banks. We are responsible for each dollar we spend and each vote we cast. And it’s not as if these are our only assets, either. Freedom of speech and whatnot, you know?

The kind of customers I’ve mentioned, however, would prefer to continue within the status quo. They don’t want to be bothered with the messy details. They don’t care about the whys and the hows and the ifs. Instead, they will hope that they can conjure enough wildly exaggerated excuses to convince themselves and others that their situation is most certainly not their fault, and that immediate compensation is the only fair solution to their problems. Sometimes my managers cave in to those sorts of customers, though thankfully not too often. But what happens when these people take that same attitude to the government, and the government doesn’t even have the compensation they’re demanding? What will they do without a large, anonymous body to blame their problems on and demand solutions from?

token

By nature, humans are born with limited awareness and a single perspective through which the world is experienced and understood. We’re left with finite quantities of knowledge, and the quality of this knowledge is at times unverifiable. The basis of any disagreement is in knowledge: I believe my knowledge is superior, until my opponent can provide me with new knowledge that forces me to reconsider. It’s hard to provide new knowledge, though. People with strong opinions tend to believe they already have a complete knowledge of the matter at hand, and telling them otherwise raises a lot of ire. Although ‘pure knowledge’ is theoretically universal, the knowledge we use and experience is worlds away from being pure: it is extremely personal. To threaten something so personal is fundamentally impolite, and it’s why Americans have chosen to label the discussion of religion and politics as unfit for civil conversation. This is one of the fundamental powers behind America’s religious right.

Religion exists to fill in the gaps for our immensely incomplete knowledge. It answers the questions for which there are no answers, or for which the existing answers are not satisfying. The answers to these questions – why is there evil, what is the purpose of life, where did our universe come from – are monumental, and will ultimately decide how a person lives his/her life.

Politics, on the other hand, exists to make decisions about how society will function. At its best, it is the art of compromise, seeking to craft policies that will satisfy as many people as possible without alienating the minority. At its worst, it is a tool of control, a system for amassing and maintaining power over others. Religion holds a striking parallel here. Religion can give birth to harmony unequaled – the peace and fulfillment that results from a community that earnestly seeks truth and goodness is overwhelming, and this is a reality I’ve experienced first-hand. Religion also offers immense opportunity for control, when a community devotes itself to dogma and doctrine, particularly when these doctrines are maligned by a leader with impure motives. When a politician refuses to vote outside party lines, he is not doing justice to the purpose of his profession. Likewise, when a believer unquestioningly follows doctrine, her faith loses focus. Instead of having faith in Christ, her faith is in her doctrine, and it becomes enslaved to technicalities and fine print.

Thus, when political policy becomes indistinguishable from doctrine, and a community of believers dare not question doctrine, a political force is created that cannot be talked down. To doubt policy is to doubt doctrine. To doubt doctrine is to doubt faith. To the ears of such a citizen, promotion of, say, abortion, gay marriage, or sex education is a direct attack on faith, an assault on God himself.

This kind of thinking was the power behind many of history’s greatest dictators. Stalin, for example, crafted himself as being one with the State, the essence of the people’s will, unified with the needs and desires of the nation. To question Stalin, then, was to question your friends and neighbors, and nothing less than treachery. Less extreme examples are not hard to summon. Many a pope, king, and emperor made use of similar tactics to maintain their power.

The logical fallacy here is simple: it’s all non sequitur. Doubting the quality of one man does not necessitate doubt in everything that man purports to represent. Likewise, questioning the church’s stance on one matter does not necessitate doubt in the entire church. A community based in love has room for disagreement. Two intellectually and morally honest persons can examine the same situation and reach different conclusions. Alienating the opposing side is not the solution, nor is ignoring it, nor dismissing it. These attitudes permeate both sides of America’s socio-political landscape, so please don’t think I’m only ragging on the right-wing, here – but I do believe that Falwell threw the first stone, in this matter.

It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.
– GK Chesterton

filler

My grandparents like to spam their address books with terror-filled articles about gay marriage and such things. Here’s a choice quote from my grandfather:

“Is “liberal” your escape from reason, or just a license to create your own morality? We have seen it all before and it is a well trodden path that allows a person to run; but not to hide from Truth. Don’t be too hasty with your judgment of biblical morality.

When the liberals discovered smoking causes cancer they virtually outlawed smoking. When they discovered homosexuality caused aids they tried to outlaw what? Truth! More good sense from the liberals!”

One of my cousins lashed out, and was promptly trounced by generic blather about how godless liberals are. To teach them all a lesson, I wrote a goddamn essay.

This whole debacle was just forwarded to me last night, so I apologize for being oh-so fashionably late to this party. But if I might be heard for a moment or two, I’d be much obliged.

Arguing the roots of this nation is fruitless. We don’t regard other nations based on what they were two hundred years ago – we judge them on what they are now. Norse mythology is no longer relevant to Scandinavia, Druidism is no longer relevant to England and France, and likewise, America’s religious roots should have little say in the here-and-now. Even if America ever was a “Christian nation” (a debatable matter, at best), we are looking at nation that has been long divided, and we must deal with this reality. Thomas Jefferson said it best: “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.”

What does do injury, however, is the suggestion that somehow my vote for Obama is both Godless and amoral. I not only believe Obama to be a man of incredible moral quality, but but that he’s also a man of outstanding character seen only once in a lifetime. I see in him a true love for others and for his country, I see a strong desire to do the right thing, and I see the policies and the planning to back it up. I see those around me for the first time ever truly excited to be an American, hopeful that this country can for the first time in history be lead by someone else outside an arbitrarily chosen set of rich white men. I don’t expect you to be excited like me. I don’t expect you to agree with me. I respect your views and I see the validity in them.

That said, there are more important issues than gay marriage to handle. Why is the issue of two men getting married more important than reforming our utterly broken education system? Why does it even compare to the fact that over half of Americans can’t afford health insurance? Why does it even hold a candle to the fact that America has within its borders 24% of all of the world’s prisoners, with only 5% of the world’s population? There are so many things wrong and broken within our society. So many of these problems don’t even exist outside of America, too – a semester in Europe taught me that much and a half. There are solutions to these problems, and other countries have already found them. America is way behind.

Don’t get me wrong: social issues are important. But if you’re going to argue that the godlessness of the blue states is going to finalize America’s demise, I would beg you to examine the current situation in our country. Red states currently sport higher teen pregnancy rates, higher high school drop out rates, higher crime rates, and higher divorce rates (I can provide sources, if necessary). Every red states reports significantly higher numbers of Christians. If the Bible belt is to be any example, America’s problems cannot be solved by fundamentalism or neoconservatism. Our problems can’t be solved by broad platitudes, or by gross generalizations, or by a simple belief in doing the right thing. Problems don’t get solved with harsh criticism and stern disapproval, they get solved by doing something. As Benjamin Disraeli said, “It is much easier to be critical than to be correct.”

I believe Obama went and did something – and in doing so, he revamped the American political system as we know it. His campaign registered millions of unreached voters. He opted of out of the public financing system – 80% of his donations were under 100 dollars. He’ll be the first president in 150 years to owe nothing to any corporate sponsor. He single-handedly renewed my hope in the American government, and I can safely say he did the same for others around the country. He renewed the world’s hope in America, too – for even as a waning superpower, our fate is tied to those of nearly every other nation on earth. Just look at Iceland.

All that’s to say: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Obama’s stance on gay marriage should not be the deciding factor for any person’s vote. I happen to agree that I have no right to interfere with how my neighbor chooses his or her lovers – does this invalidate everything I’ve written thus far? Does it just further attest to the liberal taint within my soul, or my complete godlessness? Please think rationally about this. See beyond red and blue. Not everything is black and white.

Respect the validity in disagreement. Honor the fact that others can think rationally and critically about important issues, but come to different conclusions. Avoid these over-simplified anecdotes and sweeping generalizations. Not all liberals are the same. Not all Christians are the same. Just look at our family: we’re not the same.

I apologize for the essay-length, but throwing one-liners back and forth does little to accomplish much in the way of reaching agreement or understanding between one another. I hope I’ve contributed positively.

Love,

Timothy

PS

I thought I should add: please don’t insinuate that AIDS is somehow divine justice over gay people. It’s repugnant simply given the fact that AIDS is currently ravaging Africa sideways and a half, and is also universally common among America’s impoverished, particularly African-Americans – unless you have a sin you might wish to label across all of those demographics, as well.

EDIT: The responses have been amusing.

A distant relative that I don’t actually know:

“I know that at the end of this election my faith is not in government, but in Jesus Christ. He has a bigger plan for all of us and he will use anything to His glory. So we wake up another day just happy to be alive and well. I know the end of the story and I am on the winning team. We still love the world through His eyes and live for King Jesus until He takes us home.”

My 80-something year old grandfather:

“I appreciate Tim’s effort to marginalize what has been said but the wordy and inane comparisons fail miserably to explain why going down a road already proven to be a failed system could possibly prove to be “positive”. Throwing more money at education than everyone else on the globe has produced a deficient product in comparison. More will do even less. Judging history has proven to be the necessary and exact measure for current appraisals. “He who doesn’t learn from the past is doomed to repeat” is a paraphrase of several political philosophers – probably a bit wiser than our contemporary young people. Seeing Obama as a man of noble character means someone has ignored his judgment. It sees him also as NOT guilty of shitting on anyone and everyone he has looked to as mentors or helpers, in his political quest, whenever they became a hindrance to his search for power. It looks past his deceitfulness when his past record, by rhetoric or votes, is brought to bear on his judgment. A look at his oration to far left assemblies and how different it was stated in a broader spectrum audience is more than a little alarming. He lied about his intentions to accept public financial support for his campaign. His sources of support have been hidden for questionable reasons. And this represents character?

The argument about red states/blue states is not proven. Those statements are inaccurate and illegitimate .

The fact that Obama wishes to support gay marriage, and abortion, represents departure from a moral code of thousands of years existence. A wise person could not possibly see that CHANGE as absolutely positive.

Sorry Tim but your argument fails to reach the level of responsible debate.”

My uncle’s father:

“‘There are so many things wrong and broken within our society. So many of these problems don’t even exist outside of America, too – a semester in Europe taught me that much and a half. There are solutions to these problems, and other countries have already found them. America is way behind.’

Tim – – you don’t know me but I know your mom and dad – – the above is your quote – – and I don’t want to sound ugly – – or start any MORE controversy – – but if this is REALLY how you feel – – why don’t you move to Europe or some third world country and enjoy your life instead of being miserable in this backward country – – just an idea – “

anger

Watching the political tides has been intensely painful, these past weeks, not just because I’m a supporter of Obama, but because I simply cannot fathom what brings my former brethren to rally under such a wicked woman as Palin. Alone, McCain was cute – he was the best the republicans had to offer, and yet he was still strictly inferior to Obama in every regard. Here we are, with a man of unfathomable proportions, that for once inspires the people to be more and do more with the record to prove it, and he is being forsaken for a woman of blatant hypocrisy and corruption, the very traits that have pushed so many away from politics in these past few decades. Her nomination, some have said, restarted the culture wars, and will lead to an increasingly bitter and divided America if she is allowed to take such a high profile place.

As one writer from the Guardian put it:

If Sarah Palin defies the conventional wisdom that says elections are determined by the top of the ticket, and somehow wins this for McCain, what will be the reaction? Yes, blue-state America will go into mourning once again, feeling estranged in its own country. A generation of young Americans – who back Obama in big numbers – will turn cynical, concluding that politics doesn’t work after all. And, most depressing, many African-Americans will decide that if even Barack Obama – with all his conspicuous gifts – could not win, then no black man can ever be elected president.

Palin represents to me all that is ill about neoconservatism, that if you want a WASP America, if you want an America that caters to the privileged, an America that fears change and scorns its responsibility to the rest of the world, if you want an America that has no room for dissent, you must vote for her. Oh, and John McCain, too, though he’s just an accessory, at this point.

I would pray that America doesn’t go down this path, but I don’t believe God’s listening.

EDIT:

ABC interviews Palin.
more, and some really juicy more.

strength

For the first time in seventeen years, Russia paraded its ICBMs through Red Square.

Nationalism is not an ideal I’ve ever adhered to, nor do I think it common among my peers. As far as America goes, for the past twenty-or-so years it’s been out of date. Unnecessary. Ignorant. A symbol of insecurity and misplaced values.

For America, this can be partially attributed to the over-use of national symbols; the flag and the anthem have lost any real meaning as they get waved and sung at every chance. The pledge is so pervasive that it’s nothing but tired phrases. In fact, it would be safe to say that many Americans really just don’t like America. Between inferior social services, a recessive economy, a president we can’t feel proud of, a war we can’t support, there isn’t much to feel good about. At best, it’s home, and many people spend their time admiring other countries, where the grass is obviously greener.

I’ve struggled with how to think about America. Nationality not a part of an American’s identity. It seems nothing more than arbitrary. Why should I care about “my” country, just because I was born here? Why should I serve a country that has not served me, and shows no such potential? At the same time, I recognize that a nation cannot be successful without people that do care about these questions.

As I think about China and Russia, I sort of start to understand why they’ve gone with the military/authoritarian state model. A nation full of critics and complainers produces nothing. They solely consume, and live off the production of others. Silencing the critics frees up a lot of wasted time and resources, even if it means running over a few innocent students with a tank. In a nation fighting tooth and nail to climb up the world ladder, freedom of speech is a small price to pay. Lincoln certainly thought so.

I think often about the state of other people in other countries, and in the past. Modernists love to praise how advanced we are and how far we have come, but I find it hard to believe that on the whole, people are significantly happier than they were 100 years ago or 1000 years ago. Although I don’t think happiness is purely relative, I do wonder at how happy I think I am, or how happy the people around me think they are. On the whole, people don’t seem to know what makes them happy, and I cannot see a long future in store for a nation that is so self-absorbed, trying to figure out what new forms of consumption will make them happier.

Yet still, I value the choice to determine my happiness. Action finds its value through choice. I can’t say there is no meaning in actions we do not choose, though – which is what confuses me about all this. Are Russians as happy as Americans? Do Russians think they are happier than Americans, despite the oppression of the Kremlin? Are the Chinese happy despite the censorship of their government, knowing that their military is invading an innocent and defenseless country?

Looking at it like this, I find it hard to complain about the problems of my own country, but it doesn’t induce pride or security; more like a relief that the problem of unhappy realities is universal. Ignorance of those realities is, of course, bliss – which is what censorship in Russia and China is all about. But if ignorance is what is required to be happy, then I don’t think I want that.

Ultimately, I can only come to the conclusion that happiness is not an end worth pursuing. That is not to say I shouldn’t do what makes me happy, but I don’t think my life should be finding its value in happiness. I can only see that as leading me down a path of ignorance, or a path of futility.

Thus, it makes sense to me that nowhere in Truth, Beauty and Goodness is happiness guaranteed.

about time

A collection of American evangelicals have drafted what’s being called an ‘Evangelical Manifesto’, condemning the divisive politics of faith among the Christian right and left.

“The declaration, scheduled to be released Wednesday in Washington, encourages Christians to be politically engaged and uphold teachings such as traditional marriage. But the drafters say evangelicals have often expressed “truth without love,” helping create a backlash against religion during a “generation of culture warring.”

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.

You Are a Pirate!

*hums*

Leave it to Iceland to create a song about pirates for children. They breed the pirates early over there. This song is actually quite old (I’ve known about it for some time), but I felt the need to reprise this for your benefit.

And, to set the election day mood:

BluECliQ: believing that Mcafee is going to protect you from hackers and viruses is exactly like believing that republicans can actually protect you from terrorists

Ninja_P: Okay, I just watched a guy puke in a glass, then drink it again
DragonAtma: Congratulations, you now know how congress operates.

Jim Kuhn: I just think it is silly that if I live in certain states in a ‘free country’ that I am not allowed to even read a poker forum.
DrSavage: What gave you an impression that you live in a free country?
bigalt: fox news

andyg721: i think it was on CNN
andyg721: Condoleeza Rice went to Asia
andyg721: the headline was RICE IN ASIA

I have this sneaking feeling that the Republicans will lose tomorrow.

You Call Down the Thunder

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is my CIA rant. I gotta get this out of my system – I was babbling about it pretty much all day after the speech, so otherwise, I’ll be doing this for practically EVAR until I write thoroughly about it.

(for those of you who don’t know, CIA stands for Congress in Action. it’s where US History students get assigned a representative, an issue, and must argue for or against this issue based on the opinions of their representative. this involves a lengthy research paper, a short speech, and an open debate.)

My representative is an ultra-crazy Democrat from Texas, strangely enough. I don’t exactly agree with her on 75% of everything, but thankfully, for this, I can argue my true opinion. The topic I presented was a fake bill providing for the legalization of Bush’s warrantless surveillance program. My job was to explain why this is a bad thing.

All around, I’ve actually had trouble with delivery of my content. I have really excellent content (if I do say so myself), but in both the paper and the speech, I’ve had issues with getting that message across. In the paper, I had serious length issues. I barely pulled it up to 6 full pages (although this can depend on which text editor you use), which is kind of the minimum. I had plenty of sources and research to use, but I ended up having to quote excessively, which I wasn’t too pleased about.

I initially had trouble coming up with convincing arguments, but in the end, it came around like this:

  • the bill is improper:
    • violates IV Amendment (surveillance is unwarranted, and entirely unreported)
    • violates all provisions of FISA (exceeds the full year under which the president may conduct warrantless surveillance)
    • not provided for under the PATRIOT Act/AUMF (intended for action against the September 11 terrorists, and none others)
  • the bill is ineffective:
    • america faces much larger issues of security:
      • we’ve failed in the war on drugs (it’s a $65 Billion business in America alone)
      • we’ve failed in our border control (60 million people travel through the US yearly, 7 million living on american soil illegally)
    • the targets are hardly traceable considering the aforementioned facts
  • the bill is unnecessary:
    • warrants provide necessary checks & balances against abuse in the system
    • warrants are easily obtained (usually less than 24 hours), and not necessary for up to 72 hours under FISA, therefore meaning they do not hinder time-sensitive situations
    • aforementioned time-sensitive situations are EXTREMELY rare

That pretty much sums up my arguments. I tried to communicate most of that in my speech, but I was REALLY nervous and it was REALLY cold in that room, so I stopped a lot, coughed a lot, and apparantly scratched my nose a lot. Apparantly my “content was great, delivery was not so great”. Because of my bad delivery, a lot of my points didn’t reach home.

The ensuing debate was very infuriating. The “Republicans” were ABSOLUTELY obnoxious – they’d clap whenever anybody said anything supporting their side, and kept using the SAME argument over and over even though I’d proven them wrong (ex. they kept saying time-sensitive situations were still threatened, I kept quoting FISA, which provided exactly what they needed). I also didn’t get to address the biggest point which was “if you have nothing to hide, then why does it matter?”, because Khoa (the Speaker of the House) kept picking the same people. I really hope they let us finish it tomorrow.

So, yeah, that’s CIA. I’ve had fun with it.

And I’ll reap the whirlwind.

[edit: This is entirely unrelated, but I found this snippit from a BBC article on a truly awful military idea very funny.

“During WWII: Attach a bomb to a cat and drop it from a dive-bomber on to Nazi ships. The cat, hating water, will “wrangle” itself on to enemy ship’s deck. In tests cats became unconscious in mid-air.”
/]

Estuans Interius

I have never been more scared to play a game, ever. F.E.A.R. is just so scary. I’m not one for horror movies or games, ever. In fact, I really don’t like them (mostly because I don’t discount the existence of the unholy supernatural), not that I can’t sit through one without crying, but really. It probably stems from me picking up a copy of Resident Evil 2 my brother had brought home, and subsequently having nightmares for two weeks straight. I was seven years old, give me a break. It’s also why I won’t ordain my gamecube with a copy of Resident Evil 4.

[geek]

Like I was saying, F.E.A.R. is just insane. It’s scarier than Doom 3, but then again, Doom 3 wasn’t scary after an hour of playing it. I withstand the sheer fright that is this game because it’s just really fun and really cool. The gameplay is really good, it’s so satisfying, well balanced, plenty challenging, it’s just awesome. The literal pools of blood, exploding corpses, intermittent flashes of dead people and such are really scary, but the incredibly well done AI is so worth it. The AI, man. They run around you, they know the map, they hide behind stuff, they roll, they jump, they ambush, just so well designed. Wort.

Anyways. As some of you know, I discovered Ruby on Rails the other day, and got all excited by their demos, thinking I could easily start running this here blog completely on my server without using WordPress. I spent three hours ripping my hair out trying to just figure out what the documentation wanted from me, then realizing it was five years out of date, and nothing they told me to do would work. Beyond that, I learned that Ruby is really not a good language anyways – it doesn’t do anything that Perl or PHP can’t easily do alone. I was displeased. I’m trying to learn another language in addition to Java – C++ is the obvious first choice, but I don’t want to run it through Cygwin, and the Eclipse plugin is finnicky, but we’ll see. I’m thinking Perl or Python would be good to learn, but it’s not real important.

[/geek]

That snow day was indeed a blessing. I used it well, I think. Ben, Zach, and I went downtown (with some intermittent snowball fights, and falling down stairs) to go present shopping with money I didn’t have, which was fun in its own right. That wasn’t before playing a rousing game of Rise of Nations in which I reasserted my authority over Paul (after a shameful loss). This also wasn’t after an interesting birthday party at Paul house, which there are pictures for.

In important news, the Patriot Act got owned! I am pleased about this. Something I’ve kind of noticed, is that the media spins everything into party politics. The loss of the Patriot Act is somehow a loss for Republicans. I don’t get it. It means people didn’t like it, and that the majority has won, nothing else. Then again, I don’t care about politics enough to sit down and try and reason through why there’s always been two parties in our political system, and I’m not getting a degree in Political Science to find out. At least the act got shot down.

You no take candle!

This so, so so isn’t ready, but I desperately want to post. I’ve been dreaming about it. I kid you not. This blog is wonderful to me. I love it dearly.

We’ll backtrack from here to then.

I’ve spent the past 3 days pretty much just playing World of Warcraft. I caved in and used Paul’s 10-day free trial, after which I will continue playing. At the moment, I’m a level 13 priest, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Very good game. But none of you have waited a month to hear about that.

Work has improved marginally. At this point, I’m basically getting paid to learn/do AutoCAD, which I shouldn’t be complaining about at all. It’s actually been a really good learning experience – I’ve learned how to mail all kinds of packages (I only knew how to mail letters before), stain wood, do stuff at the bank, lots of random things that are kind of useful for every day doings. It has a lot of boring moments though, mostly when I don’t have enough variety in my work. This last project in AutoCAD I’ve been doing has just shot my nerves – every day, something new changes or happens and I have to redo a lot of work. Frustrating, let me tell you. Thankfully, I’m not under any deadline, so nothings going to fail because of me. Actually, the project I’m working on right now is for a building that will be going up where Dominoe’s (that don’t look right O.o) used to be, next to the Gateway Center. It’s a pretty spiffy building. Maybe there’s an NDA on it or something, so I should probably be hush hush….

The only other significant thing in my daily life (e.g. that consumes time) is Jen, whom I still don’t like. She’s mostly house trained, but she’s still a puppy, and thus retains puppy-ness. How quaint.

In important news, Jonothan gets back from Iraq September 15th. He actually arrives back on the 5th (this Saturday), but has to stick around for a many number of days for whatever reason. I’m really looking forward to seeing him. I won’t be able to go down and meet him because it’s 10 days, but, whatev, I’ll see him soon. Before I got WoW, I was playing lots of Zelda (the gamecube version, which I will get to, and OoT), which brought back some great memories from our first Christmas here. We’d get up in the morning over break, grab some hot chocolate and all the blankets we could find, plop down in front of our little monitor and play for many hours. I can’t remember how we worked it out, we probably took turns or something, I dunno.

No word has come in on Christopher’s discharge (still). I’m hoping he’ll be here before Thanksgiving, at this point.

Let’s see….I’ve acquired a job with a cool old Russian dude. He’s a retired professor from Cornell, like 80 years old, so I help him out with gardening and stuff. It lasts basically indefinitely, which is how I’m going to be paying for WoW.

Zach lent me this CD from a band called Bloc Party – it is growing more, and more, and more on me. The lyrics SUCK, basically the same phrase (which was good the first time he said it) over and over (not so good the 8th time). However, the music is excellent, and my constant techno-listening (6 hours a day minimum, thanks to work), I can phase it out and listen to the good stuff.

And now, for the rants that have been brewing for a month.

I.D.

I can’t stand it.

I can tolerate a literal interpretation of Genesis, but the ID mindset has gone too far. For once, Bush has really ticked me off. As most of you know, I was once a big fan of him, but he’s servicing the “religious” right, giving them everything they want while he has time. I can’t stand it. Whether I’m a part of the people he’s blowing kisses towards or not, I don’t want the tax dollars I am now spending (I pay income tax now! Huzzah!) to go towards a movement to stick a “science” like ID in schools. A Slashdotter put it perfectly: Once the ID crowd are willing to say that the Intelligent Designer (God) is falsifiable, then and only then can ID be considered as a possibility. And I know well enough that it’s impossible for that to happen. Faith is the hope in things that cannot be seen, proven, or denied. As with most things that are written in the midst of emotion, I will probably regret a specific phrase or sentence which does not reflect what I mean. But we’ll see. Open fire.

The Gamecube Zelda.

It sucks.

It sucks majorly.

I could live with cell-shading. I could almost live with playing a child, with child-like characters in a child-like work. I could just about live with the sailing. But not. It sucks. I want the next version, which has been delayed until 2006.

Nintendo, if it isn’t good, I sincerely hope you go down in flames.

I wish you all well on this night. I will slowly improve the blog as I desire, but it’s readable, and that’s what matters at this point.

Honorable War (O.o)

The main event for today: A Soldier’s Story. In light of reading All Quiet on the Western Front, and our recent studying of WWI and WWII, the school invites veterans from just about every war of the previous century to come and talk, as a yearly event. The veterans can give a wide range of responses and stories – generally, the ones from Ithaca are Vietnam veterans, as they only went due to the draft. The rest are pretty much up in the air.

Veteran Number One, Sergeant Major Looplund:
This guy was probably 80-something years old, and an E-9 in the Marines and Active-duty reserves. He’d been in WWII, Korea, and I think Vietnam, I’m not sure on that one. He was drafted in the beginning, but chose to stay with the Marines to this day. As with all Marines, he was deployed to the Pacific in WWII, and in specific, Iwo Jima. In his fully reinforced company of 255 men (there were others, obviously, just not with him), only 35 survived the assault on the island. Nobody asked if he’d ever killed anyone – there were 21,000 Japanese on the island, and only 1000 survived. You do the math.

His company was intended to join the other divisions for a direct assault on Japan – but his company had suffered too many casualties, and was pulled back to Hawaii, re-equip, and the join the other divisions, but before the assault was approved, the atomic bombs were dropped. Something that really struck me about that, is this: “If the atomic bomb had not been dropped, I would not be here today. The Japanese were fanatics; when we landed, every man, woman, and child would be waiting to resist us.”. After WWII, he stayed as an Active Duty reserve, and was activated during both Korea and Vietnam, but I’m not sure if he fought or not.

This guy basically represents, to me, the wisdom you gain with age. He knew what he was talking about. He never swore, not even once. He was detailed, succinct, polite, and basically, just a strong soldier. He had perspective. Someone asked if he wanted to join the war, and he didn’t rant and rave about how war is pointless, how America is stuck on hating the world. I, for one, appreciate that. But he didn’t lie, he gave an honest answer. He sounded proud of his achievements and his past, but acknowledged the reality of what happened. He had also moved on from whatever might have happened – he wasn’t plagued by memories and nightmares. That, right there, is a man I can respect. Part of the reason I respect him highly is I didn’t realize exactly how bitter one can be until the second veteran.

And that, I kid you not, is not because he is (or claimed to be) a Christian.

Veteran Number 2:
This was some girl’s dad (Juliet’s – the one who screamed at me for being a Republican early in the year), I can’t remember his last name. He never gave many details on his rank and position. He was about 50 years old, and fought in the Vietnam War. He was born in Ithaca, and thus obviously only went because he was drafted. He was a semi-pacifist at the time. He was rarely in direct combat while in the army. To be honest, I don’t know what he did. He was really definitely affected by Agent Orange, as he couldn’t keep on a single track for too long, often went on tangents, stopped to cry 3 times (this was his 3rd time speaking today alone). He said that of the 25 places sprayed most with Agent Orange, he stayed at 18 of them.

After spending some time in Vietnam, he was recruited for a series of special bombing runs against North Vietnamese encampments. His job was to go with 4 other soldiers, sneak to other bases, record the coordinates, and take them back to the artillery. I don’t trust the accuracy of his guesses, but he said the missions saved thousands of Americans and killed thousands more Vietnamese, and still regretted doing them. After that he went into a long thing on how Bush was a liar, coke addict, alcoholic tyrant who wants to be a hero. I almost forgot to mention – he swore a LOT.

I had to come back to English later in the day to make up an essay, and he was talking about the same thing to another class. I asked him why he thought that, and man, do I regret asking that. I got about 5 or 10 minutes of curse-filled earfuls on how Bush is the worst thing since poop on a stick. Honestly, I only said three things to him. The first statement, then “I dunno…I just disagree.” and finally “It’s not that I think you’re crazy, I just disagree, that’s all.”. Lesson learned. Needless to say, I don’t have much respect for this guy. Yeah, ‘Nam was bad, so was WWI, so were the Crusades, say what you will, there’s nothing new under the sun.

This is a very long musing on war. Shoot me down if you so please. A lot of my musings are probably not befitting of a kid, but hey, I feel like writing, so I am.

[musing]

This kind of brings me to my whole view on war. The curriculum at our school is really geared towards getting to go see how horrific war is, on realizing it’s a bad thing, all that jazz. I don’t really buy it. That’s a gross oversimplification of my views, but that’s basically the sum of it.

    • All wars are not fought the same way.

All Quiet on the Western Front is a graphic and sometimes nasty portrayal of what happened during WWI – the most pointless, and yet possibly the nastiest war of the previous century. WWI is an exception, like Vietnam, to what war is like. WWI happened in the middle of a technological revolution, and left armies with tools fit only for trench warfare, and by the end, were crushed by sheer numbers and starvation. WWI was before the first Geneva Convention – weapons outlawed long ago in today’s age were weapons of fear and mass destruction. Flamethrowers, gas, shotguns, anything went. Because these were new and better weapons, they were used without warrant. It was war – nobody stopped to ask questions. Vietnam is, in some ways, same thing. Agent Orange, Napalm, it was superior tactics on page, but when implemented were really terrible things, and nobody realized until later. WWII, Korea, Iraq, these do not suffer from the same things.

    • All wars do not have the same purpose.

The best example here is WWI versus WWII. WWI was a war that started almost entirely out of pride in your respective country – it was just an excuse to exert your country’s ability. It was not out of hatred for other countries, but from love of your own. WWII, was far different. WWII was one gigantic resistance to stop three countries from taking over the world. Contrary to popular opinion, it was not to stop the genocide of Jews (which is similar to the myth that the Civil War started because of disagreements on slavery), although that did encourage Allied involvement. Treating war as a whole is a gigantic oversimplification of what it really is.

    • All wars are not won the same way.

Wars are not won if you are fighting for the correct reason. Wars are not lost if you are fighting for the wrong reason. Wars are not won by superior numbers. Wars are entirely dependent on how involved the country is in that war. Sergeant Major Looplund said something very striking: Soldiers hear about the reactions back at home from the newspapers and radio – if they’re only hearing protests and complaints, and no support, what’s gonna happen? This is true, regardless of time. Motivation, morale, that’s what the soldier needs. If a country wants to win a war, they’ll put a complete effort behind it – towards technological advances, gathering of resources, production of materials, behind supporting the soldiers. A divided country is a weak country. That, my friends, is why we spent app. 18 years in Vietnam, and why we are still in Iraq. Both of those have been spearheaded by ineffective military strategies, but, that is beside the current point. Do not think I am comparing Iraq to Vietnam, though. Iraq isn’t even close.

War is often portrayed as the worst of things that can happen between humans. To me, it’s definitely bad, I do not doubt that, but war is just another implementation of sin, human nature. War is not innately more horrific than what happens elsewhere in our lives. We’re just more accustomed to the other things.

[/musing]

In other news, I have another color template I’d like you guys to comment on. Tell me if you like it. It’s not gonna get implemented any time soon, but, it will eventually get around here.

Check it, yo.

O.o

Oy, I haven’t posted for a week. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to post about, I just didn’t feel up to it, I guess. Overall the week has been okay. Lots of Halo 2 playing has occured (I’ve played well over 300 games now). My Clan and I actually played against Bungie (and won!). Proof that Bungie owns, right there. 😀

I stayed home from school because I’m a lazy, lazy bum. I woke up this morning thinking a lot of things. “My homework is done.”, “I have no tests today.”, “I’m tired.”, “I’m going to be late for school.”, and “Thankgiving Break is too short. Let’s make it longer by one day!”. So I stayed home. I slept until 12:30 (making for a total of 12 hours of sleep!), and just lazed around for most of the day.

Daniel stopped by for a few minutes a little bit ago. He came and picked up some of the money I owe him (27/66 bucks). *shuffles slowly towards his Xbox*

EDIT: I was a little bored, so I decided to revise a report I did on Global Warming for my Global History I final report. The beginning and end are a little cheesy, as I had to cater to my teacher’s political leanings at one point or another, but the point comes across. I presented a rather weak argument in favor of the common theory of Global Warming, but to be honest, there isn’t much of one.

http://oftimarchive.blogspot.com/2004/11/report-global-warming.html

Have fun picking it apart. Since it’s been a year, I forgot the sources for that solar info (about the earth’s axis and rotation), but you’ll live.

[2012 edit: looks like these gems are lost forever]

I’ve had so many conversations it’s ridiculous. So many arguments. This is getting out of hand. But I’m gonna let it go on, because it’s interesting. If you feel the need to discuss or debate with me on anything, go RIGHT ahead. Don’t let anything stop you. But don’t be stupid. I don’t wanna see a lot of misinformed Bush-bashing.

That being said, I have a few recent conversations to show you.

Gay Marriage #1

Gay Marriage #2

Abortion #1

My disclaimer for talking over IM – the conversation, unless overtly personal, will get posted on here.

 

[2012 edit: looks like these gems are lost forever]

GIVE ME A FRICKING BREAK. I swear, if I see another rant on how Bush shouldn’t have gotten elected, someone’s throat is getting slit and it’s not going to be mine. I’m glad we all have opinions, but don’t treat them as FACT. It is your OPINION that Bush is bad, not a FACT. Anyone who treats it as a FACT is simply IGNORANT. I’m not saying this because I like Bush – I’m saying this as a general rule of life.

That being said, I’m glad he won. I went a little overboard and “in yo face!!” at school, but not too badly, I hope. A couple girls in my Global and English class decided that Republicans don’t deserve to have a fair argument, so 1 minute into a discussion on embryonic stem cell research, one of them starts screaming “NO! NO! NO! YOU’RE WRONG! I AM RIGHT! I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! NO! NO! NO! YOU ARE WRONG!” “Well, you’re just ignorant!” and it went downhill from there. Stuff like this pushes my buttons like nothing else.

I don’t wanna see a political discussion in my comments – if I do, I WILL BAN YOU FROM COMMENTING FOR A WEEK. Yes, I can do that. Now that I have that out of my system, I can continue. I was up till 4 AM watching the results and stuff. I sort of slept my way through chemistry, testing out various ways of looking alert but be asleep. Chemistry is interesting only because we have so many slackers in our class. So if they aren’t up to par, it’s a snore fest.

I’m getting really, really psyched for Halo 2, it’s only 5 days away. Can’t wait…*repeats mantra*

O.o

I think I may have set a record for how long I’ve ever slept. 15 hours, 11:00 PM to 2 PM today. I woke up feeling a littel better than yesterday, and right now I’m feeling not too shabby. I’ll probably go to school tomorrow. I’m kinda tired of staying home, watching the news until someone logs online to talk to. Watching the news gets pretty boring, too. The same stuff kinda gets mulled over and over until you’re brainwashed. Today’s wasn’t so bad, watching the 9/11 comittee review people. It’s also kind of frustrating, listening to how the FBI and CIA get stuck in the beurocracy of politics when they shouldn’t be. It reminds me of how I used to bother arguing with some of my friends about Bush as a president. It really bugs me looking at these people who claim to be so open-minded, yet tell me “you’re stupid. you like President Bush” or “all republicans are stupid” As if Gore, or, *snort* Nader would have done a better job. I won’t rant about my political views here, not worth your time, or mine.

In other news…*ahem* I still have to write this research report…it’s not hard, jsut time consuming. I have 75% of it done, but the stupid works cited and in-text citations take FOREVER. You forgot what page the info was on? You have to go look it up. I’ll have it done soon, I just have to get down to work some time soon. As in, tonight. I’ve also got that German thing to do, but that I’ll reserve for doing as school. Peace.