Saturday, March 31

You Are a Rottweiler Puppy

Powerful, smart, and protective.
You're eager to growl at anyone you hate - but you're a big sweetheart inside.
You Have Good Manners 98% of the Time

You manners are perfect. You always carry yourself with class.
You know how to be considerate toward everyone - even if they aren't considerate to you.
You Should Weigh 190

If you weigh less than this, you either have a fast metabolism or are about to gain weight.
If you weigh more than this, you may be losing a few pounds soon!
You Passed 8th Grade Spanish

Congratulations, you got 7/8 correct!

Your Seduction Style: The Charmer

You're a master at intimate conversation and verbal enticement.
You seduce with words, by getting people to open up to you.
By establishing this deep connection quickly, people feel under your power.
And then you've got them exactly where you want them!

You Are 24% Healthy

You're on your way to having a healthy diet, but you have a ways to go.

Everything is okay in moderation. But you don't quite have moderation figured out yet.
You Should Get a PhD in Liberal Arts (like political science, literature, or philosophy)

You're a great thinker and a true philosopher.
You'd make a talented professor or writer.

Your Inner European is Swedish!

Relaxed and peaceful.
You like to kick back and enjoy life.
You Should Drive a Ferrari

Sleek and sexy, style has a lot of importance in your life. And you'll pay a lot to look good!

How You Are In Love

You fall in love quickly and easily. And very often.

You give completely and unconditionally in relationships.

You tend to get very attached when you're with someone. You want to see your love all the time.

You're secretly hoping your partner will change for you.

You stay in love for a long time, even if you aren't loved back. When you fall, you fall hard.
Your 1996 Theme Song Is: 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins

Shakedown 1979
Cool kids never have the time
On a live wire right up off the street
You and I should meet
You Will Be a Cool Parent

You seem to naturally know a lot about parenting, and you know what kids need.

You can tell when it's time to let kids off the hook, and when it's time to lay down the law.

While your parenting is modern and hip, it's not over the top.

You know that there's nothing cool about a parent who acts like a teenager... or a drill sergeant!
Your Ideal Relationship is Serious Dating

You're not ready to go walking down the aisle.
But you may be ready in a couple of years.
You prefer to date one on one, with a commitment.
And while chemistry is important, so is compatibility.
You Are Really Not Happy

You may have noticed that things aren't going too well for you lately.

Your life never used to be like this, but it seems like happiness is slipping away from you.

You definitely need a change, because whatever you have going on isn't working.

It's time for you to shake things up - even if it means totally changing your life path.
You Have Your Sarcastic Moments

While you're not sarcastic at all times, you definitely have a cynical edge.

In your opinion, not all people are annoying. Some are dead!

And although you do have your genuine moments, you can't help getting your zingers in.

Some people might be a little hurt by your sarcasm, but it's more likely they think you're hilarious.
You Are 23% American

You're as American as Key Lime Tofu Pie
Otherwise known as UN-American!
You belong in Cairo or Paris...
Get out fast - before you end up in Gitmo!
You Are a Mermaid

You are a total daydreamer, and people tend to think you're flakier than you actually are.
While your head is often in the clouds, you'll always come back to earth to help someone in need.
Beyond being a caring person, you are also very intelligent and rational.
You understand the connections of the universe better than almost anyone else.
You Have Low Self Esteem 92% of the Time

You're definitely in a low place right now, but you also know deep down that you can get out of your funk.

Take a chance and make a new friend or try a new interest. Shaking things up will give you the self-esteem boost you need!
Your Geek Profile:

Academic Geekiness: Moderate
Gamer Geekiness: Moderate
Movie Geekiness: Moderate
Fashion Geekiness: Low
Geekiness in Love: Low
Internet Geekiness: Low
Music Geekiness: Low
SciFi Geekiness: Low
General Geekiness: None
Your Kissing Technique Is: Perfect

Your kissing technique is amazing - and you know it.

You have the confidence to make the first move.

And you always seem to know what kissing style is going to work best.

Sometimes you're passionate, sometimes you're a tease. And you're always amazing!
You Were A Jaguar

A shapeshifter that understands the patterns of chaos.
You are powerful and move without fear in dark places.
You Would Choose Love

Money may buy a little happiness, but not the happiness of true love.
You'd rather have a true soulmate than a private jet.
And while many people may claim they would choose love too...
You're one of the few who would really do it.
You Scored 85% Correct

You are an 80s expert
You never confuse New Order with the Pet Shop Boys
You know which classical musician Falco rocked
When it comes to 80s music, you Just Can't Get Enough!
You Don't Have Your Emotions in Check

Whatever life deals you, you make the worst of it.

You often feel that life isn't worth living, even when things are going your way.

Believe it or not, your life could be a lot better.

You just need a whole new outlook (and probably a therapist!).
You Are 93% Non Conformist

You're incredibly strange. And a weirdness like yours takes skill to cultivate!

No one really understands you. And you're cool with that. You just hope you never have to understand them!
You are 27% Capricorn
Your Taste in Music:

80's Alternative: Highest Influence
90's Alternative: High Influence
80's Pop: Medium Influence
90's Hip Hop: Medium Influence
Classic Rock: Low Influence
Your Mind is NC-17 Rated

You're mind is so filthy... you should should be washing every part of you out with soap.
If your thoughts can go dirty, they do. Almost everything is NC-17 to you!
Your Vocabulary Score: A

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!

You must be quite an erudite person.
You Are 92% Gentleman

No doubt about it, you are a total gentleman.
You please the pickiest ladies, and you make everyone in a room feel comfortable.
Your Career Personality: Independent, Insightful, and Ingenious

Your Ideal Careers:
Business strategist
College professor
Computer programmer
Video game developer
Your EQ is 133

50 or less: Thanks for answering honestly. Now get yourself a shrink, quick!
51-70: When it comes to understanding human emotions, you'd have better luck understanding Chinese.
71-90: You've got more emotional intelligence than the average frat boy. Barely.
91-110: You're average. It's easy to predict how you'll react to things. But anyone could have guessed that.
111-130: You usually have it going on emotionally, but roadblocks tend to land you on your butt.
131-150: You are remarkable when it comes to relating with others. Only the biggest losers get under your skin.
150+: Two possibilities - you've either out "Dr. Phil-ed" Dr. Phil... or you're a dirty liar.
Your Linguistic Profile:
80% General American English
5% Upper Midwestern
10% Yankee
5% Dixie
0% Midwestern

Friday, March 30

The future TUFFY

What do I want most in my life?

I want a British Blue Shorthair purebred.
Normally I don't like the idea of supporting breeding
since there are so many cats in the wild, waiting
to be adopted, or dying of malnutrition.
But I've done my service, I've raised loads of wild cats
and given them good lives.
Now I want a big plush grey tom with golden eyes
That I will name Tuffy.
I want to really study his lineage and see his parents
and get the biggest one I can possibly find.
BIG, not fat. Big head, big bones, big paws, bad temperament -
except when he's snuggling with me on my lap,
purring and watching the final Harry Potter movie or something.
I woke up "today" at 2:00 am with an alarm clock called my heart
going off like gangbusters. Holy Jesus I was scared.
I tried to return to sleep on again, off again for a few more hours,
then called it a night. I showered and nearly fell.
But I didn't. That was the best part of my day.
It was business hours now, and I dialed my lawyer:
Hello, is Richard in?
I'm sorry, all the attorneys are off today.
Why? It's Friday.
It's a holiday - Cesar Chavez day.
THAT'S a holiday?
You mean the Mexican civil rights guy?
I don't know. But they'll be back on Monday.
Shit! I need to talk to him now.
I can take a message for you.
Ok, I need to know what building handles the...
Hold up there. All I can do is take your name and number,
and he'll get back to you on the next business day,
time permitting.
Whoever heard of Cesar Chavez day? (I hang up.)
Everyone else in town seems to be working.
I think only schoolchildren and lawyers get this day off.
I run into an old acquaintance while filling up my gas tank.
Thinking he looks a bit shabby: Hey, how's it going?
Not too bad, yourself? (Tone indicates he thinks I look
like a bum, down on my luck. Really let myself go. Shame.)
I gotta go (I say). I got a bunch of stuff I'm not gonna do.
Say hi to the family for me, he smiles.
Thanks, you too! (He doesn't know my family Fredo'd me.)
Drive all over town on a variety of errands, none
of which actually succeed properly.
Friday traffic is horrible and the Dept. of Transportation,
which apparently works on Cesar Chavez Day,
and even BANKS stay open,

seems to think this is the perfect time to work on roads.
They drive around in their Tonka yellow and black
striped vehicles like Real Men and you know what? They are.
I set off a security alarm leaving Walgreens and get searched,
though I have no contraband on me.
Everyone from all walks of life, except the respectable ones,
are watching me, waiting to throw stones and draw blood,
make me carry some kind of wooden cross.
You can see it in their eyes.
As I'm leaving to go to the parking lot, a guy gets
out of his car and gives me a haughty look, you know the one.
He appears to be a thirty-something ladder-climbing businessman.
Businessmen make me sick, so I actually scream at him,
"What the FUCK are you looking at! Huh?"
He quickly turns and heads purposefully to the store
entrance, cowed or thinking I must be insane or maybe
one of those gangsters.
Or maybe he needs hair gel really bad before a meeting.
I find myself staring a lot and flipping people off
throughout the day. I'm not hungry; I'm living on coffee
and diet soda, and some eggs from the morning
that have begun to upset my stomach.
I shouldn't have eaten all six, probably.
I explode into the toilet at home and
feel like vomiting as well.
I wonder if I would start spinning like a pinwheel
with sparks flying out of both ends...?
Even my cat doesn't bother to greet me today,
he's too far into a mouse dream, but I'll bet he's faking.
Nobody but Mom has responded to any of the emails I've sent out,
no surprise there. My router is still hunting for an IP address;
I think it needs a lunch break. I probably just need to
reset it, but I don't want to disturb my bittorrent queue
that is flowing along so smoothly,
bringing me shows and movies I'd never pay to watch
and albums I get just because I barely like the band.
Free things are seductive but they are empty.
Some sick God made us have to suffer to find happiness,
and before that can happen, we usually die.
In the meantime we make everyone around us miserable
which is what the whole things seems to be about,
either that or redemption without dignity or intellectual honesty.
I have two middle fingers that I use without thinking,

some folks even get the double deuce if they're lucky.
Some people get screamed at in four letter playground
language that even people in China would understand.
Some people have to see the cold and utter emptiness in my eyes
before they understand.
My computer won't let me open folders or files anymore
the usual way, so now I have to use an alternate
file browser program which I've grown to like much more
than Windows Explorer. It's called ExplorerXP,
which is a gay name, but check it out sometime anyway.
When I had money I tried to make myself happy by getting new things.
It only made me more sad, more cluttered inside.
I never read all the books I bought - just some.
I never played all the games I bought - just a few.
I never learned all the gadgets I acquired - hardly any.
I never became a birdwatcher,
Or an amateur geologist; I never ordered that
topographical map of Sonoma County I wanted.
But I bought a globe I haven't unpacked yet,
because it makes me sick to think I wasted so much money
In such a short amount of time last year and my
computer is still pants and plus,

I want to unveil the globe when the house is clean
and finally organized. One day. It will be the cherry on the top.
In the meantime, the box has a large pillow crowning it,
stands by the sunny window,
and acts as a perch for Jackson if he can't finagle
his way onto my lap or attempt to enter my banking password
for me as he walks across the keyboard like an orange idiot.
I'm looking up the fatal doses of all my meds.
Turns out my meds don't have fatal doses, for the most part.
I'm on a safe regimen that ensures I will suffer in good health
for years to come. I can't even buy a gun for three more years.
I surrendered my right. The hospital made me sign.
What kind of "right" is that?
I called my daughter this morning
to tell her I would leave my other cat, Otis,
who is my favorite pet in the world, my true buddy,
with her because I heard she had grown attached to him
and didn't want to separate them if he was a comfort to her.
I know she's been feeling bad lately.
She screamed at me for making her depressed and afraid
of everything, and how her mom's put her on antidepressants
(and never even told me) and she hates me. She IS sad, and messed up.
But I'm not the reason. I know because her mom must be the
actual Devil, and there's only one of him, and how could I be
any worse than that? No. I'm some kind of vagabond shepherd being led by
the poet Virgil, taking a tour of Heaven and Hell (mostly Hell),
and seeing a good bit of the earth too.
What I see all around me makes me want to throw up
and jump into one of those boiling cauldrons where at least
the pain is unimaginable but consistent, predictable. In Hell,
they don't tease you with hope. They're evil to the core,
but they're honest about it. I want to chop some people's heads off
Or smash their brains with a heavy shovel and then kill
myself with a shotgun blast to the brainstem.
Let that be a lesson to old Virgil, the sick bastard.
Don't show me things, I don't even want to know.
Some asshole parked his shiny new Escalade in the precious
free parking spaces the other day, perfectly
straddling a line, taking up two full spaces presumably
so his new ride wouldn't get a dent from we the unclean.
At 2 am I took a key and make a mess of his paint job.
It was a harsh lesson I admit, but I know in my heart that
if I ever did what he did, my car would be trashed by morning
By all the druggies and burnouts and single moms and
dying elderlies who have stopped caring about anything
in this world full of beauty and trees.
No one wants to walk a whole block except for athletes,
And these ghouls I live amidst aren't even close to that.
Even dreams of cruises to Tahiti don't flutter their pulses
anymore; they know it's not all it's cracked up to be;
they know those parasols and drinks with umbrellas are a ripoff,
and more importantly they know it will never happen.
They're only living out their days watching cable.
And I have a restraining order against me. Apparently you must
be able to get one for any reason, because I've not been
charged with any crime, much less found guilty of anything.
"No evidence," they said when she tried, so what justification is there
restrain my freedom of movement now?
Our country is surreal like Wonderland.
This filing happens to bar me from seeing my daughter
and my favorite cat who I raised like a son from
the time he could fit in a teacup till he was a full-grown man,
albeit one with no testicles.
Women can ruin a man's life just with accusations
and paperwork. The God of the Courts loves women.
I can't even find my keys.
The God of the Miniature Black Hole in the house
constantly eats them along with one of each pair of socks,
my wallet, my quarters (he leaves the pennies and the bills),
my cell phone, and my clean underwear and comfy t-shirts and pajamas.
I need a new bookcase or maybe two or three.
How did I get this many books?
I don't care; I love books. I love to organize.
My place looks like a wreck, but it's categorized.
I know where to find things. I have my own system of logic
that works the way my brain does: perfectly well in a way
nobody else would ever understand.
I write poems to feel like I actually have a talent.
Some of my poems are good, I really believe that.
You know - objectively good. Some are hit or miss, depending on how
you relate to the subject matter or rhythm or whatever;
older people don't get it because their rhythm sucks:
They're locked into being so simple, they can't learn anymore.
They don't even want to.
Some of my poems are derivative or clumsy,
and I hate those ones. So I don't write any like that.
I used to think I was a good writer but I really haven't written
prose in such a long time, I don't know anymore. I probably
still have 'much potential' but also still suck at the same things.
You have to practice to be good at anything.
Even Kobe Bryant practices.
Especially Kobe Bryant practices.
There are born geniuses,
They're more common than you think.
Most of them kill themselves literally or by
running from their talent all their lives and simply melting.
Only those who also have a singleminded dedication make it
into that echelon, that pantheon of The Great.
That will never be me, now. At least I can say it plainly
and not cry anymore. I'm just some smartass kid who needs
medication to keep me from kicking other people's asses
who try to get too cute with me.
I don't think there's a damn thing funny about life.
I don't think people ought to smile,
because they're going to experience pain
in their lives, and finally die, and some of them
will have it really, really bad. Evolution was a crummy idea from
the start. Fuck you, Darwin. I want to go to greener
pastures devoid of cow droppings but full of thatch-roofed
cottages minus the pottage and boiled fat for dinner and the muddy toil.
I want to meet my sweetheart Nicola at the top of a hill,
above the village, by the windmill that generates clean energy.
I want to make her SO happy and never leave her arms
or think about words that label things as objects ever again.
I want to paint smiles and squinted eyes, shining white.
I want to live in a fairy tale without villains,
a nice story all the way to the end,
with no morals at all. When I die I want to glimpse
this place with the drugs they give me in my IV,
but the chance of this actually occurring are probably
a thousand to one, if not worse.
Cowards die like everyone else.

Does anyone ever really win

By building walls?
Instead of sitting and talking
Working things out, stopping
Them from happening
By respect and reasoning,
Why do some people flee from their
Problems, screaming
Or staring into empty space
Which is where they are headed
Alone, their small lives
Of no consequence,
And they couldn't even manage
To confront fear here on earth
Or to try to show love
To the people who are worth it.

Thursday, March 29

April is coming soon.

And I could never speak for you, you know that?
we may be on the bubble,
but we're in the worst kind of trouble now.
seems to push us through the bubble of inaction.
if my head's on the block I just hope god's a nicer guy
than this monster growing large with wrathful eyes, so dour.
behind the mask he can do his thing.
but that doesn't matter in the truth of pure seeing.
we love one another because we're human beings
you go, I go, that's a given,
that's the point of us both living,
at least to me.

I was cold outta the womb
people joked I was an eskimo
eskimo is a derogatory term now, still fits me perfectly
an eater of flesh. I rarely do what I am asked,
but I'm the good son, raised by a combination of temptation
of intellect and flesh.
a good human being, I say with a straight face, yes.
a good son.
I combed the world for protection,
a good son with no no blessing.
the sun is messing around, escaped the blue clouds and I'm
tired. I am a good son, tell me, please.
Where do we go now but nowhere?
(Nick Cave)

I remember a girl so very well
The carnival drums all mad in the air
Grim reapers and skeletons and a missionary bell
O where do we go now but nowhere?

In a colonial hotel we fucked up the sun
And then we fucked it down again
Well the sun comes up and the sun goes down
Going round and round to nowhere.

The kitten that padded and purred on my lap
Now swipes at my face with the paw of a bear
I turn the other cheek and you lay into that
O where do we go now but nowhere?

O wake up, my love, my lover wake up.
O wake up, my love, my lover wake up.

Across clinical benches with nothing to talk
Breathing in tea and biscuits and the Serenity Prayer
While the bones of our child crumble like chalk
O where do we go now but nowhere?

I remember a girl so bold and so bright
Loose-limbed and laughing and brazen and bare
Now sits gnawing her knuckles in the chemical light
O where do we go now but nowhere?

You come for me now with a cake that you've made
Ravaged avenger with a clip in your hair
Full of glass and bleach and my old razorblades
O where do we go now but nowhere?

O wake up, my love, my lover wake up.
O wake up, my love, my lover wake up.

If they'd give me my clothes back then I could go home
From this fresh, this clean antiseptic air
Behind the locked gates an old donkey moans
O where do we go now but nowhere?

Around the duck pond we grimly mope
Gloomily and mournfully we go round again
And one more doomed time and without much hope
Going round and around to nowhere.

From the balcony we watched the carnival band
The crack of the drum a little child did scare
I can still feel his fingers pressed in my hand
O where do we go now but nowhere?

If I could relive one day of my life
If I could relive just a single one
You on the balcony, my future wife
O who could have known, but no one...?

O wake up, my love, my lover wake up.
O wake up, my love, my lover wake up.

Wednesday, March 28

Keep Ya Head Up.
(Tupac Shakur)

Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
I say the darker the flesh then the deeper the roots.
I give a holler to my sisters on welfare:
Tupac cares, if don't nobody else care.
And uhh, I know they like to beat ya down a lot
And when they come around the block brothers clown a lot,
But please don't cry, dry your eyes, never let up,
Forgive but don't forget, girl keep your head up.
And when he tells you you ain't nothin' don't believe him.
And if you can't learn to love him you should leave him.
Cause sister you don't need him.
And I ain't tryin' to gash up, I just call 'em how I see 'em.
You know it makes me unhappy?
When brothers make a baby, and leave the young mother to be a pappy.
And since we all came from a woman, got our name from a woman
And our game from a woman...
I wonder why we take from our women, why we rape our women,
Do we hate our women?
I think it's time to kill for our women, time to heal our women
Be real to our women.
Cause if we don't we'll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies, that make the babies.
And since a man can't make one,
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one.
So will the real men get up...
I know you're fed up ladies, but keep your head up.

Yo, I remember Marvin Gaye used to sing to me
He had me feeling like black was the thing to be.
And suddenly the ghetto didn't seem so tough
And though we had it rough, we always had enough.
I huffed and puffed about my curfew and broke the rules,
Ran with the local crew, and had a smoke or two.
I realize mama really paid the price;
She nearly gave her life, to raise me right.
And all I had to give her was my pipe dreams
Of how I'd rock the mic, and make it to the bright screen.
Trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents...
It's hard to be legit and still pay the rent.
And in the end it seems I'm heading for the pen -
I try to find my friends, but they're blowin' in the wind.
Last night my buddy lost his whole family,
It's gonna take the man in me to conquer this insanity.
It seems the rain'll never let up.
I try to keep my head up, and still keep from gettin' wet up.
You know it's funny, when it rains it pours,
They got money for wars, but can't feed the poor.
Say there ain't no hope for the youth and the truth is
It ain't no hope for the future.
And then they wonder why we crazy?
I blame my mother, for turning my brother into a crack baby.
We ain't meant to survive, cause it's a setup,
But even though you're fed up...
You got to keep your head up.

To all the ladies having babies on they own,
I know it's kinda rough and you're feeling all alone.
Daddy's long gone and he left you by your lonesome;
Thank the Lord for my kids, even if nobody else want 'em.
But I think we can make it, in fact I'm sure -
And if you fall, stand tall and come back for more.
Cause ain't nothing worse than when your son
Wants to know why his daddy don't love him no more.
You can't complain, you was dealt this
Hell of a hand, without a man, feeling helpless.
Cause too many things for you to deal with,
Dying inside, but outside you're looking fearless.
While the tears is rolling down your cheek
You're steady hoping things don't go all down this week.
Cause if it did you couldn't take it; and don't blame me,
I was given this world, I didn't make it.
And now my son's gettin' older and older and cold
From having the world on his shoulders.
While the rich kids is drivin' Benz.
I'm still trying to hold on to my surviving friends.
And it's crazy, it seems it'll never let up, but...huh,
please... you got to keep your head up.

Saturday, March 24

A little information about... centaurs
courtesy of mythweb
Creatures part human and part horse. The centaurs were descendants of Centaurus, a son of the music god Apollo. Most centaurs were governed by the bestial half of their double nature. Their behavior was uncouth, and a very small amount of wine drove them wild.

When Heracles was entertained by Pholus, one of the few civilized centaurs, he made the mistake of demanding the guest's prerogative of a beaker of wine. Pholus could not refuse, though he hesitated before unearthing a jug of the liquid which he kept buried underground for fear of just the sort of consequence which now ensued.

As soon as Pholus uncapped the jar of wine, his brothers caught scent of it on the wind from more than a mile away. Driven instantly to madness, they attacked Heracles, and the hero barely succeeded in driving them off with flaming arrows.

Wine also caused the centaurs to fight with other guests at the wedding feast of Theseus's friend Peirithous. It was on this occasion that they destroyed the supposedly invulnerable Caeneus.

On another occasion, a centaur named Nessus offered to ferry Heracles' wife across a torrent on his back. Midway, his animal nature got the better of him and he tried to force his attentions on his passenger. She shrieked and Heracles came running. He killed Nessus with a single arrow through the heart.

Chiron was not an ordinary centaur, having ended up with his horsely half by virtue of his father, the god Cronus, taking the form of a horse when Chiron was conceived. Chiron became renowned for his civility and wisdom. He served as tutor to many famous heroes, including Heracles and Jason. He taught music and medicine as well as the skills of the hunt.

Thursday, March 22

Something I forgot to mention.

When the mood is right,
Please don't completely reach those heights
And lose your light.

For lights are dim,
They can only be seen when the soul within
Is free from whim.

Don't lose the plot:
The thing you seek can never be caught
You'll find you've got

Forever emptied hands,
And excess is regress in the mind of a man
Who seeks to understand.

Wednesday, March 21

Why I am an agnostic.

As much pleasure and gratitude as I feel when such famous and erudite atheists as Richard Dawkins, Isaac Asimov, and Carl Sagan take on backwards ideas like Christianity, Islam, Judaism, astrology, and similar faith-based and self-conflicting systems of belief, and subsequently rip them to shreds using logical analysis that even schoolchildren should be able to understand (and yet don't for some reason, possibly because their parents and other theologically-minded adults have drilled into them from an early age that religion is not something to be questioned, that faith in absurd ideas is, in this one special case, not only allowed but encouraged), I myself could never be an atheist. Dispelling a creator may be the only way out of the trap of the infinite regression (yes, but who made God?) argument; likewise, dozens of other atheist arguments may seem self-evident and convincing to an intelligent person who wants to move beyond the fairy tales they learned as children. And of course I would opt for an atheist stance rather than, say, a Christian stance if those were the only choices available to me. But they're not. I can also claim simply not to know - agnosticism - while perhaps assigning likelihoods to each idea based on my own experiences and internal reasoning. But how can I ever presume to know what the Truth is, or even if such a thing exists? To claim there is definitely nothing which exists outside what we currently consider natural and material seems just as reliant on a faith mechanism that I do not possess than, say, Tarot does (although in a more subtle way of course) and strikes me as no real improvement on those irrational religious ideas atheists love to attack.

I'm not even going to cop out and claim to be "spiritual" but not religious, as so many people do these days. While some so-called New Age beliefs seem an improvement over the dogmatic and inane ideas from thousands of years ago, they are just dressed up-versions of the same human-centric or life-centric ideas and are no more provable even if some seem more palatable. Nevermind the nebulously-worded precepts like "energy," "unity," and so forth that a spiritualist can fall back on, and that such broad concepts can never be rigidly defined or tested. It is still a belief system, one which requires faith ("an open mind" is usually how it's put, although if you tell a spiritualist that you've an open mind, have mulled their ideas over and found them to be rubbish, you'll quickly see how open their minds are). So let me try to put the case for agnosticism, which is not a system of belief but merely the admission that "I don't know anything for sure and I can never know anything for sure, regardless of what seems reasonable and functions well for me as a system I can adhere to and trust while living my life" (e.g., science for me), as plainly as I can.

Philosophers will never all agree, but it strikes ME (and this is my essay) in some profound way that one can never prove or disprove anything in an absolute sense, simply because you cannot prove that there is an absolute, unchanging "frame" in which we live wherein things like reason and physical laws exist and are consistent. All you can do is satisfy a given human mind that something is so implausible as to be absurd, or so self-evident as to be commonsense. Note that absurd and commonsense are human value judgments either born into us or developed experientially, most likely both. They are not something you can see in a microscope or prod with a stick. In short, we reason based on ideas. We can only ever create a sandbox within which to play (the human experience, our universe, etc.) and define the parameters which operate within it, like logic and truth, and only then can we go on and test further ideas against this set of parameters. This in essence is what science is, though many would like to believe it is something more ambitious and general. The fact is, in science too there must be a set of "givens" - the idea that the laws of nature hold all over and don't capriciously change over space or time "for no reason." They might do, of course, since even our human brain, which has evolved in a milieu which apparently does behave consistently, has the ability to imagine inconsistent realities. Fantasy, psychedelia, occultism, (religion,) and the like are all examples of realities which are incompatible with the one in which we've evolved, and yet we can postulate their existence, and even enjoy novels, movies, and games set in such realities. So in the end it is never possible to create a system of logic or a definition of truth which absolutely underlies and encompasses all possible things. Anything imaginable may be possible in some alternate realm. And within any reality one wishes to construct, some truisms must be taken on faith, and that is where any polemic in favor of true atheism must fail, no matter how elegantly constructed. Yes it is quite easy for us to show that organized monotheistic religions on this planet are nonsensical according to our understanding of reality. It is much more logical to suppose a non-supernatural universe. But that is only probabilistic reasoning; science itself admits is never provable. We can only ever operate within the sandbox we find ourselves in, and using the scientific method we can ascertain certain unchanging features of that sandbox. But of the existence of other sandboxes which we cannot observe, and which may or may not interact with ours in ways we cannot even conceive of, we can say nothing. There may be magic. There may be a guy up in the clouds with a white beard checking off boxes as we say our prayers each night. All we can really say is that according to our (human-defined) ideas of truth, provability, reason, and so forth that we have packaged and called "science" or "rationalism," we can find no evidence of any such magic, and that things seem to be ultimately describable using this method, without ever having to appeal to faith or going outside the system (except, as noted, for the initial acceptance of the givens of the method itself). This power is not to be taken lightly. Science is the most predictably-accurate and inerrant idea man has ever worked out, and it continues to hold the further up and down the scale of size and time we traverse. It is breathtakingly held together by a surprisingly few numerical models (laws), which give rise to all the beauty and complexity we see and experience. But to say it shall always be so or that there is not some completely unrelated and unreachable realm in which different numerical laws govern reality, or indeed where chaos simply reigns, is and shall forever remain beyond our ability to judge.

I applaud scientific atheists who combat religious zealotry simply because it helps to level the playing field and possibly make the world a safer and more rational place. It raises peoples' consciousness. Take away all religion (save for science itself, of course) and you'd have a lot less needless conflict out there - though don't kid yourself that other dissonant forces at work, such as economic disparity, wouldn't still contribute their share of violence. But to claim atheism (naturalism) and its toolbox (science), is Truth is simply to substitute one faith for another. I cannot accept faith. Thus, I shall always remain an agnostic, however unfulfilling that prospect may seem at times. To me, it is the only tenable position one can hold.
Check out this saguaro doing yoga.
(photo by Keir)

Take a Vista at your stupid innards, Windows.

Operating systems are such a mess, especially ones which have been cobbled together without any forethought like Windows. In constructing an operating system from scratch, one needs to invent and adhere to certain logical conventions. Of course, there is a line between some abstract academic perfection and a usable, user-friendly piece of software, but Windows has neither. To make Windows an efficient, extensible, flexible, and robust system, the design team would have to solve the following.

The resolution mess (bitmaps/vectors, monitor size and aspect ratio)
The install/uninstall mess (make it consistent and clean)
The registry mess (why is there a registry and then still hidden local values)
The icon mess (this isn't 1988 anymore, go to an Apple Store and peep game)
The font mess (why isn't management a lot easier? why is this so mysterious?)
The filetype mess (see the previous comment)
The control panel mess (make it consistent and logical)
The ease of use/functionality mess (kill help balloons, for one)
The modularity mess (how many things should each app or service do?)
The file organization mess (why is My Documents buried so deep?)
The desktop metaphor mess (why is the Desktop inside itself?)
The local vs network mess (not enough room to talk about here)
The compression mess (ZIP, RAR, ACE, JPG, GIF, PNG, CAB...)
The storage mess (flash drives, hard drives, internet drives, sex drives)
The hardware mess (plug and play is broken)
The UI mess (make it consistent and not dumbed down, please)
The WINDOWS folder itself (just take a peek inside it)

And on and on and on. These are just things the end user battles with. What about DLLs, the GDI model, DirectX and other APIs, system "hooks," security, customization, services, codecs, DRM, legacy support code bloat, monopolistic app integration, nondisclosure of privacy issues, fragile shortcuts, Steve Ballmer, command line parameters, Winsock, UPnP, hard locks, no WinFS, bootstrapping via BIOS, activation, proprietary Java and C, .NET Framework........

I'm not saying designing a modern OS is an easy thing, especially when you're not in control of other aspects of the machine, and have to ensure interoperability with such. I'm just saying someone could do a lot, lot better than Microsoft has. Oh wait a minute, someone has. Everyone else. Why has this heap of steaming excrement dominated them all then? Oh wait a minute, they're ruthless and unethical. Well, there goes my faith in the world.

Tuesday, March 20


I would like to wish a wonderful 17th birthday to my daughter Susannah. Sue, I had all your gifts ready in time and hope you will get them today on your birthday. It's been difficult for me to find cooperation in getting things to you.

I love you so much and that will never change. It's like the mountains and the oceans and the planets. They aren't going anywhere, and neither am I nor my love for you. The world can be tough, and I wish I could protect you from it all. But,
Happy Birthday will have to do.

I love you.
It's hard to know what to think these days, even from minute to minute inside a given day. I have so many mixed emotions. I want to forgive people, come together again. I want to destroy people, make them pay for their arrogance and outright cruelty. I want to ask for forgiveness, unsure that how I've lived has been right.

I vacillate between all these states, feeling persecuted, apathetic, compassionate, angry, and regretful. I don't know whether I'm an angel of heaven or hell. Probably I'm just an ordinary person, but maybe one who experiences emotions with an extraordinary sensitivity, and has been cursed with the power of self-analysis.

I wish I was a giant saguaro with nothing much to say, and nothing to fear. I wish I was a stone in the middle of Joshua Tree National Forest, or a flake of snow falling with only moments to have to be brave. The middle child - seed of malcontent; too aware, too long for this short time.
"A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff nature replaces it with"
-Tennessee Williams

Monday, March 19

I'm coming at this whole business game from the opposite side. I don't really know this for sure, but I suspect the majority of people we consider "successful" in society - whether monetarily or in terms of their achievements (NOT fame, which is a fickle an unpredictable phenomenon) - got that way by doing well in school, proceeding along through university or as a junior member of some business, and had an intuitive knack for taking the right path and the inbuilt or instilled discipline to stay their course. Not that they were mindless machines with only a single interest, but they lived life in such a way that positioned them for success. They kept fairly regular sleeping hours, eating habits, hygiene rituals; they organized the spaces around them and in their mind well enough to keep track of important things (important as relating to their goals), they socialized normally, and so on. They probably didn't freebase a lot of crack, sleep all day and miss work or appointments, let trash pile up around them, sink into debt. They probably also didn't wander the world in search of meaning, or paint themselves into a philosophical corner by delving into life's underlying purpose, debunking all religions, finding flaws in every form of logic or science man has constructed, or read much existentialist literature or write confessional poetry. I'm also guessing they probably didn't listen to the Swans. So at some point an opportunity presented itself, and they were healthy enough physically and mentally and structured enough in their lifestyle to be positioned to seize it. One thing followed the next, and soon our young entrepreneur or author or researcher (or even athlete, if they were blessed with superior genes) has the ball rolling and picks up confidence, contacts, and clarity of purpose and blossoms into their successful old selves. That must be nice.

I feel like I'm approaching a successful end to my life - if there is to be one, and that is by no means certain - the other way, by exhausting all the dead ends and avoiding all the cliffs and bottomless pits and McDonald's combo meals and finally realizing that, while you don't have to sell your soul to the devil, and without sounding like Tony Robbins, you can find success at something, get your body healthy, get your mind right (pleasingly content rather than actively joyous, probably), and live the days you have on earth not endlessly miserable, but proud of your accomplishments, humble enough to put them in the context of the immensely diverse world and not become a snob about them or stop doing what it took to get you there, and occasionally feed your neighbor's pets when they go snowboarding in Tahoe - free of charge. You don't have to be a narrowminded sheep who may or may not have a midlife crisis when suddenly exposed to the absurdity of the universe. You can delve into all that heady, enticing, terrifying stuff first and get it out of the way, forming a personal philosophy no one else can give you that leads you back around to a conventional lifestyle, but one free of excess underlying feelings that "something is wrong; I just bought a new Escalade and beat Sanjay at golf by three strokes and I'm keeping the wife supplied with "surprise" roses and jewelry, and the kids have all three new consoles, but I just don't feel HAPPY. Is this all there is to life?) That is not something everyone goes through (many don't), but enough do that they lose their friends and the support of much of their family and begin to see therapists and psychiatrists about their woes. Best case: they get help and get back to not thinking about stuff that's out of bounds. Worst case: they have to learn to deal with REAL life from scratch, and many aren't up to the challenge at this advanced stage and resort to prescription pills and heavy drinking, their lives fall apart, and something unpleasant happens to them in the latter stages of their lives.

By solving my demons first I feel like, if I do get off that fence and get involved in the world, if I decide to do things that make me happy right then (Buddhist and Cognitive-Behavioral advice), and pay attention to simple things everyday instead of planning for a future that never arrives, I may actually succeed more profoundly than those who did so by default. I will have gained some measure of wisdom, the value of life, money, friends, family, health, responsibility. And I will keep my job or pursuit in perspective, no matter how vigorously I work at it; I will always enclose it in a box and build in time around it for balancing actions. I think ultimately this is the best way to go, but I say that with a huge caveat: I'm still living this life, so I've no true perspective, and I'm not at the moment successful by any means and even though I may be turning the corner, I've thought so before and it's not been the case. So I don't want to come across like Yoda on the subject of life strategy, I just want to convey some thoughts that bubbled up in my brain as I began to imagine myself back in the working world again. Maybe it doesn't have to be so horrible. Maybe you just need to get out of the river's main flow and hang out in an eddy for awhile, and take stock, and then jump back in with a purpose and with safeguards in place. Maybe some of us need to learn to suffer before we can learn to succeed? Or maybe suffering is the point itself. Pretty messed up if that were the case though.

Thursday, March 15

a syllogism.

Everyone tells you to be yourself, remain true to who you are, don't be fake, don't act different to try to fit in.

I follow this sage advice and begin to be more assertive, more independent, less afraid to state my opinion or show my personality.

I gradually lose all my friends and alienate nearly my entire family.


4. The true me is a wretched creature indeed.

Wednesday, March 14

Ah, the Santa Rosa police have struck again. Yes, the police department rated the second-most needlessly violent in the State of California, just below the Fresno PD (yes, that means worse than the LAPD, Stockton, Oakland, Vallejo, Compton, Long Beach, Inglewood... you get the picture), have shot and killed a boy who had a dull pocketknife (swiss army style). TWO experienced police officers were confronting a 16 year old boy who was in an argument with his younger brother and eventually threatened him with the knife. You'd think these two officers could rush-and-cover, use a taser, talk the threat down, use pepper spray, or at the very most shoot him in the leg if they actually were convinced he was going to get this dull pocketknife into his brother somehow and actually instantly kill him with it, in front of onlookers, instead of talking tough and then backing down, as is always always the case involving testosterone-filled adolescent boys. But no, they shot with deadly force and destroyed a human life needlessly, in an act of "prevention" completely out of line with the threat. I've no doubt this kid was a punk (although it says he was a straight-A student), but that doesn't matter. It's the police force's duty to protect its citizens, not kill them when they have Swiss Army knives and make scared threats when backed into a corner.

We've descended a long ways since the heady days of the 60s. Then you had race riots and (mostly) peaceful war demonstrations, but the average apolitical white person (hah) had nothing to worry about from their neighborhood cop, who they might even know by name. Since Reagan's War On Drugs created an entirely new criminal class, the USA is starting to resemble the dystopic nation of The Wall. Morrissey was 100% right when he said Americans think of themselves as free because we are constantly told so by the press and our politicians, when in reality we live in one of the most fascist, law-obsessed countries in the Western World (note he did not say the third world, where there are many countries with worse human rights situations). He should know, he lived here eight years and has said while he loves the country for many reasons, the oppressive regime and the overzealous religious idiots who vote them and their policies into power has worn him out. Europeans think we are a backward, barbaric culture in the mold of a declining Rome. While cops here are hustling around busting kids for having pot, there is real organized crime and gang activity going on domestically and internationally feeding those end users and paying off the pawns set against them. But that rarely receives headlines.

Police forces are notoriously brutal and corrupt, because they have power. Or maybe they're overworked, or they've been ordered to come down hard to teach us all a good lesson, or maybe it's something bad in the Krispy Kremes. But Bush's global policy of justifying preemptory strikes (acts of war, to call them what they are) on where we think an attack might soon emanate (judgments which are made by the same intelligence agencies who told the President with a straight face there were WMDs in Iraq and which failed miserably to predict 911 or any scenario like it even though Al-Qaeda had planned it for years and had even practiced their logistics by bombing the World Trade Center earlier, then a US embassy and then the USS Cole), seems to have filtered down to its internal law enforcement agencies, where a cop will shoot when he sees someone reach into their pocket, because it "might" be a gun, or an ICBM, or will pop your arm out of its socket making a behind-the-back cuffing no matter how trivial the alleged crime. They take no chances and they take no crap these days. I have first hand experience, I regret to say. I was senselessly abused by a cop who either got off on that kind of power or else righteously thought I was some kind of wife-beater, even though I'm supposed to be presumed innocent and this idiot had no idea what even happened that night. Sure seemed to enjoy kicking and pushing me around though, since it was just he and I and no witnesses, and no one believes a suspect over a cop. But it's ok, I insulted him verbally in so many creative ways that he's probably using my lines now on other people. My legacy is no doubt assured.

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