Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Divination

Deus Ex Machina


"If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him"
-Voltaire

"God didn't create humans -- humans created God"
-Cowboy Bebop, ep. 23: Brain Scratch

The question of what happiness when we die is something that most people like to ignore, probably because it reminds them of their own mortality. That's also another reason as to why funerals are so depressing: It's not just that someone you know has died, it's a reminder that one day, will follow the path of the corpse in front of you. To quote a Mr John Donne: "For whom the bell tolls-- It tolls for thee." We hate being reminded of our own limitations, our own shortcomings, our own mortality. So what do we do about it? We create God.

If you look at it completely objectively, the Bible makes no fucking sense. Two people populated the world, but incest is bad? God created Earth in 7 days, but the universe in a second? Talking Bushes? Come on. Why is it, then, that Christianity held together for so long? Because it gave people answers. Why are we here? God made us. Why do we do this? God lets us. Why are we blowing up that tall building? God said so. It provides a convenient and irrefutable cure-all for the common man. In the past century, however, times have changed.

With breakthroughs in science occurring and reoccurring since the steam engine, people have slowly shifted their faith from God to Science. Science can also provide a cureall for the common man, but a better one: most statements can be provided with an explanation. Sure, the explanation is long and complicated, but the men in white coats sure look like they know what their doing. Pills could cure anything: Flu? No Prob! Take two and call me in the morning. Malaria? Give me your arm. You'll feel a slight pinch. There. All better. Cancer...uh....fuck.

In the past 7 years or so, science has faltered. We are no longer being given pills that cure anything, and the marvels of yesteryear are common practice today. So, we move to another deity: the Screen, and with it, Celebritism. Here are these people who symbolize everything we could possibly ever strive to be: Their beautiful, their rich, their powerful, they must be smart; hell, I'd like to know everything about them. What? whats-her-face changed her breast size? quick! Show me!. What? Whats-his-face is going out with whats-her-name? Oh my God!!!. Slowly, our culture, our people, our information has begun to mirror this fanatic behavior. It has become complete commonplace to see kids dressed in a manner that would make a jaded whore blush. It has become nigh-impossible to find girls that don't wear midrifs (which, I would like to add, for the better part of the time make you look fatter than you are). The trial of Michael Jackson took priority over the food crisis in Sudan in the national news. Movies sell not by their artistic or entertainment value, but by whose name and face is on the poster.

I would like to add that this is, for the most part, an American-only phenomenon. However, variations of it have sprouted throughout the world. It might not be to famous actors and musicians, but to the television in general. People have become glued to the idiot box, and it's a real shame. Books are slowly becoming a thing of the past, and ignorance is becoming fashionable. Fashion, for the most part, is what the majority favors. Logic tells us that because of that, the majority of the world is slowly degenerating into a shell of their potential. And it shows. With people rather watching Pimp My Ride than picking up a newspaper, or reading People in the stead of a Book, nothing is being done to quell this epidemic of ignorance. Things can change. Don't listen to an audiobook, pick up the real thing. Don't get your news of TV, get it off a newspaper, or the Internet. As long as you're actively reading and not passively listening, you will rise above those around you. Make people look up to you. Be smarter than the masses. We must rekindle the thirst for knowledge that has died out, to be replaced with the stagnant obsession of fanaticism.

Talk with others. Argue. Debate. Pick up new ideas. Apply them. Test them out on others. Form others. Merge them. Grow. Adapt. Do what we're supposed to do. Everyone has the capacity to grow beyond their intellectual barriers, it's just a matter of will.

{Note: Every other time I tried to write God I typoed it to Gold. Rememeber, a Freudian slip is when you say one thing but you mean your mother.}

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Investigation

I always knew...


A little pastime of mine is to look for good flash animations. There are good ones, among the myriad of mediocrity, and the reward is quite worth the expense. One of these extraordinary artists is a Korean trio that go by SamBakZa, who, to date, have begun a small comedy entitled "There she is!!!", as well as a great serious animation entitled "Hot Fish", a commentary on Korean society. I happen upon their site again, only to find that my favorite of them all, Hot Fish, was taken down for legal issues. This, of course, pissed me off. No worries. The Internet being the Internet, there's bound to be another copy floating around somewhere. Basic google search brings up nothing. Advanced google search brings back nothing. Half an hour of searching later, I come up empty handed. Damn. So, I drudge through the Wayback Machine to find a previous copy of the site, where the flash was still on it. Of course, they don't have a download link, so I have to then download, crack, and run a leech program, which is now doing it's little leech thing on the site, hopefully giving me my hot fish that I so deserve by now.

Which, in turn, leads me to my ramble-of-the-day (TM): Legalities suck. Hard. They didn't always blow the proverbial donkey: once upon a time, all of the laws made sense. But, time went by, and these laws turned archaic. Do we remove them? No! No one's gonna care, and it's too much effort for us. Well, until john q lawyer digs it up and slams some kid in the face with it. We need to renovate our laws and jurisdictions. Adapt them to a new age. Out with the old and in with the new and all that. The second amendment was for the guys on the frontier shooting Indians. Update it. Copyright laws were before the internet. Change em. Checks and balances weren't meant to be thrown out. Reinforce em. For Christ sake people, it's the 21st century last I checked. Let's make our laws reflect that.

A/S/L?


[02:13] Will: i'm debating whether i should even try to be social though

[02:13] Will: i mean...i do have a single

Being social is overrated, especially when you have to suffer fools, something that certain people cannot do. A little experiment I did concluded that spending one day a month being completely blunt with people makes you feel quite a bit better about everything, though you might regret it in the morning (like many other things in life). Thinking back, I realize being social is a damn hard thing to do, even if you do it without thinking. You have to keep track of all the little white lies you told here and there, complement people when necessary, gossip when necessary, and do quite a number of things I just plain don't like doing. Of course, that all becomes irrelevant if you can spark up an intelligent conversation, but, unfortunately, that's a damn hard thing to do in the good ol' US of A.

Enter: Internet. Here, you really don't have to guard what you say, because people don't really know who you are. It makes all points of view accepted to a degree, because the only way you can deny them are by putting forth arguments of your own. Say you were talking with a Neo-Nazi. The only way you can argue with him/her is intellectually: no emotions. Everything is transmitted through what you type, and as such your ideas take center stage. It's like, well, being social 'lite', because you get all the good things of being social (exchange of ideas, intellectualism, etc) without the bad things (idiotic/inane conversation, lies, etc). Internet 1, Real Life 0.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Interpretation

French Connection


"When I look back on all the crap I learned in High School,
It's a wonder I can think at all
And my lack of education hasn't hurt me none,
I can read the writing on the wall."
-Simon and Garfunkle, "Kodachrome"

Education is overrated. We've got it all screwed up; kids learn things they aren't remotely interested in, and don't have the time to pursue the stuff they like. This seems to have diminished somewhat in recent years, with electives becoming more and more popular, but there are always the obligatory subjects, even if it wasn't written in black in white. Back in my school, there were subjects that were required and subjects that were "highly recommended." It was required that you take up to Algebra 2. It was "highly recommended" that you take math up to Calculus. It was required to take a science. It was "highly recommended" to take Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Unfortunately, with your schedule full of required and recommended courses, you can only really tack on one elective. Of course, this all changes quite a bit in college, but, in my humble opinion, that's 4 years too late.

In France, land of the brave and home of the free, you branch off from basic education to three (or more, depending on the school) basic schools of knowledge: Science, Social Economics, and Literature. In those branches, there are still two classes you take (French and math), but depending on the branch those can be as insignificant as your third language (You generally learn three languages in French high school. Your first is French, your second is English, your third is a more exotic language of your choice). Emphasis is placed on the subjects related to the branch you chose: science courses for S, government, economics, sociology for ES, French, History, psychology for L. This balances it out pretty well: by high school you should have some basic knowledge on what you're interested in, and the branch you take can help you refine your interest into a major.

I will never understand how the French can take any instance of American government, look at it, and make it better. As for myself, I, too, am astounded by the ton of useless crap I learned in high school, and am quite glad I can still read the writing on the wall.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Exploration

Traveling Circus


I hate tourists. I hate em with a fiery passion that rivals a school's hatred for political incorrectness. Especially the American ones: they remind me that the rest of the country is not nearly as decent as New York, and that people aren't nearly as interesting as they should be.

Please note that I perceive a fundamental difference in tourists and travelers. Travelers explore a new location, take in the local culture, explore the side-alleys, and return with a heightened sense of the world. Tourists go to the big tourist traps, take a bunch of photos, make no effort to actually enjoy the City, but rather affirm their preconceived notion of what they want the City to be, and go back home. They learn nothing. They gain nothing. They might have an enjoyable moment with the family, but they will not, in the long run, gain anything from their trip. And it's a damn shame.

You can always tell an American tourist in the City. They hover around the major landmarks, with their entire family wearing t-shirts, shorts, and sandals, the mom with a Polaroid camera around her neck, the kid(s) glued to some portable electronic device, the father looking at a map. Most of the time they're obese. A traveling family is another matter. They pursue their interests individually, and wander towards their destination instead of using a map. They interact with the locals, even if only to ask for directions. The kids are actually interested in their surroundings. The mom might have a camera, but it's discreetly hidden in her purse. No Fanny packs. Those people earn my respect. They will gain far more than tourists ever will.

The Subway of the Beast


Personal story, one I think is of enough note to post. I'm taking the subway back home from work. For no real reason, I'm wearing all black - black shoes, black pants, black socks, black shirt, sporting a goatee and slicked-back hair. Two stops into the ride, a guy gets on. Jeans, sneakers, and a T-shirt with "Got Jesus?" on it. He then proceeds to do something completely unique: he preaches. He wants us to atone for our sins and love Jesus. He doesn't want money, he doesn't want food, he just preaches. For 7 stops. I, meanwhile, tune him out, and continue to read the Art of War. Finally, that computer-generated voice announces that we have reached my destination. I begin to get up, trip, and smash head first into the guy just as he says: "Show me a man that truly does not love Jesus, and I will show you Satan!". He looks up and stares at me. I give the most evil grin I can possibly imagine. "SATAN! THE DEVIL! STAY BACK! THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!" and he runs like a bat out of hell. I get up, do an auto-check for wallet, and walk out of the subway, with a spring in my step that only a terrified Christ-bitten man could give.

Creation

Fine.


Fine. I hope you bastards are happy. I've made a blog. Woop-de-doo.

Well, life seems to be a decent shamble right now, with events being tossed left, right and center. Tossing together some ideas for businesses, small things to rub two coins together and make a third. You know, one of these days, when I get a hang of the whole writing thing, I'll probably elaborate on the schemes I've tried over the years. Jesus. I was stupid. Well, live and learn and all that.

In the plethora of recent events, there does seem to be one recurring theme which will annoy me to my grave: bigotry. Now, I would like to throw something out that I know a whole bunch of you will not like me for: I have been known to stereotype. Unfortunately, I do not seem to be the only one. You all do too. Oh sure, it could be crossing the street late at night when you see a black guy walking in the opposite direction as you, or it could be double-checking your change when you're buying something from a shady district. It could be looking down on some happy family with matching fanny packs. Damn tourists. Oh, sorry.

Back to the argument: We all stereotype, in some way or another. It's been ingrained in us since Ug didn't want to go see Gleek, because Gleek's tribe has been known to kill others on sight. Shame on Ug. Just because Gleek came from a bad tribe does not mean that he might be a bad person. But, that's survival. Your mind will react to even the hint of a perceived threat, no matter how remote it might be, and well either remind you of the threat or take action itself. In the case of the sketchy black man in Harlem at night wearing a loose hoody and torn pants, sure, that guy might just be a perfectly nice person, but if he isn't you'll wind up far worse off than you were to begin with. Not worth the risk.

Stereotyping isn't bad. It's natural. You will all have a perceived notion of someone the second you see them depending on how they dress, act, and respond. When you interact with them, your opinion might change, but you did have that initial reaction to them before even bothering to talk with them. If I see a white kid with twenty medallions, an Ecko Ltd shirt, pants four sizes bigger than he, and walking in a completely obnoxious manner, I will internally label him as "white kid who wants to be black" and ignore him. You might have a different reaction, but you will nonetheless have a reaction. What my reaction was might not have been the best. He could have been a perfectly intelligent and clever young lad who would enlighten me in many subjects. But I wasn't going to bother with him.

Picture this: You're at a party. You don't know anyone there. No one. But you're kinda social. What do you do? You look at the group of people assembled, pick out one or two people who look and/or act in ways that you are familiar and comforable with, and go talk to them. From there, as the night goes on, you might branch out and talk to others, but in all likelihood you will have analyzed, whether consciously or not, every person you see and came up with the best person/people to break the ice with. Why? Because you know what they act like, and you can make safe assumptions on what there reactions will be. "Sir, that is a horrible stereotype. Just because they look, act, and talk a certain way does not mean that they will react to something the way you think they will. " Sorry, but in all likelihood, they will.

In short -- Stereotyping is not an evil thing wrought on by our society. It is a natural and humane thing that has been going on for our entire history, and I see no reason at all to change it.

...There are too many god damn tourists in the City now. Hate them. Stupid tourists.