Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Response to Jon: The Kobe Debate

I UNDERSTAND IF ONLY JON READS THIS CONSIDERING ITS LENGTH.

Jon (my brother) is a Celtics fan. I am a Lakers fan. Argument is obviously a natural entailment. He has currently brought against Kobe an argument that he is a bigger douche than Garnett (in an indirect way) and, somewhat implicitly, that he hasn’t earned as many awards as others or played as well as some in certain clutch situations (knocking him in general as a player). Now, I could spend days responding, but I figure one lengthy post was enough.

(Jon's post was in the comments section of my post about fanhood or whatever)

1 Deserved League MVP (to say he didn’t deserve it is false; to say someone else deserved it more would make more sense considering your angle about CP3)
10 time All-Star (youngest player to start an All-Star game)
6 All-NBA First Team (every year since 2002 except 2005)
2 All-NBA Second Team 2 All-NBA Third Team
6 All-Defensive First Team (every year since 2002 except 2005)
2 All-Defensive Second Team Youngest player to be named to an All-Defensive team; youngest player to start a game
[Six consecutive years (excluding 2005) Kobe made both the All-NBA First team and the All-Defensive First Team]

And to address the litany of things you bring against him: Though he has no Finals MVP awards, he was instrumental in the Lakers three-peat. In virtually every game they won, and even many they didn’t, Shaq and Kobe had great statistics and made the win possible. If Shaq was fouling out or on the bench due to foul trouble, or when Shaq was sluggish, Kobe repeatedly took over the game (usually in the 3rd and 4th quarters) and secured the win. If Kobe was sluggish, on the bench, etc., Shaq would take over the game. They were totally together in every way on the court. Every time Shaq wasn’t putting up 30, Kobe was, and vice versa (and sometimes together). In fact, during the last two championship years, Kobe averaged 28 points or more during the playoffs, both years (and during the first championship, he averaged close to 22). So I’m pretty sure his relationship with Shaq was symbiotic in that neither could have come close to doing what they did without the other. People say this and state the relationship to be 80/20 in Shaq’s favor, but that is to simply be ignorant of what happened. It’s more like 60/40 or closer.

The lack of Defensive Player of the Year awards doesn’t really count for much considering only one is given out every year and he is known less for his defense than his offense; however, his defense is stellar, as evidenced by his selection to All-Defensive First and Second teams 8 times (and All-Defensive Third team twice). Also, Kevin Garnett won the award in his 14th or 15th year in the league; does that mean Garnett was only good defensively this past year? It could, but obviously for Garnett it doesn’t, because he’s been selected to the All-Defensive Team nearly every year. Kobe is the same way; he’s never won the award, but he’s been on those teams nearly every year. And how many incredible defenders never won the award or won it very late in their careers?

Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year? Really? It’s given to “the athlete or team whose performance that year most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement.” Looking at the list, they give it to people and teams who win multiple championships, win MVP’s and championships, or play the game for a thousand years (Brett Favre and Cal Ripken). Kobe embodies a few of those, but how many people embody those and don’t get selected? And what if someone’s amazing performance in one sport is eclipsed by someone else who had a greater performance? Such as Shaquille O’Neal getting the League MVP and the Finals MVP in 2000 but losing the SI award to Tiger Woods who won three of the four majors that year. The very next year, 2001, Curt Shilling and Randy Johnson shared the SI award for doing exactly what Shaq did: winning “league” MVP (Cy Young for Johnson) and the Finals MVP. And Kobe could get the award for 2008 because he got the MVP and the Gold Medal, but it’s more likely that SI would give it to the USA Olympic Basketball Team as a whole or the Boston Celtics as a whole. So the SI award isn’t a fair judge of anything, really.

He was sixth man…for what little he played of his rookie season and most of his sophomore season. But sixth man awards go to players who are really good but happen to come off the bench. Kobe didn’t attain really good status (or at least consistent really good status) until the last half of his sophomore year – his SECOND year in the league (how many can say that? Bird? Magic? Jordan? Etc.?) and at the tender age of 19 (and only Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Moses Malone, and Lebron James can say that). And in that sophomore year, he was runner-up in the Sixth Man award race, losing to Danny Manning of the Suns. A statistical comparison shows that he and Kobe had roughly the same production off the bench. So Kobe was right there with him. Besides, Danny Manning was 31 and an 8 year veteran while Kobe was 19 and in his second year.

He also didn’t get Most Improved because his improvements came during the second half a season; so when he came around the next year for a breakout, he had already had, technically, that breakout. It’s the same reason Andrew Bynum won’t get the award this year because he “broke out” last year, even if it was only 30 games.

You point out a few examples from a few games (out of thousands, mind you) where Kobe played poorly. But what about the many times Jordan sucked balls and his team lost? Or Jordan scored 60 but still lost? These examples are meaningless.

And SunsFanBlog guy confused the Shaq/Kobe feud, as do most people. Shaq was being a douche, always has been a douche, and everyone was fed up with it. The team had to get rid of one of them, and Kobe was younger and had, presumably, more better days in his future. The details are that Shaq repeatedly showed up for training camp out of weight and shape, never prepared; he always blamed everyone but himself in post-game conferences when they lost; and he only took credit for himself when they won in those same conferences. Shaq has always been an arrogant douche bag, worse than anything Kobe did. If Shaq wasn’t funny (and ridiculously good), no one would listen to him. That said, I still like Shaq, and always have. But to say that Kobe was a little bitch, or something, is to totally misunderstand the situation. In fact, there’s video evidence of Kobe and his teammates during interviews around that time talking about how Shaq blamed everyone but himself, was always out of shape, would sit out longer with injuries because he wanted to, and on and on. So I’m not making this up, or just believing Kobe. The team was sick of Shaq. If you want further evidence, look at what he did in Miami after one bad year: he sat most of the season with lots of injuries (that trainers have since claimed weren’t that serious or time-worthy) and then when he got traded to the Suns, he’s back up and ready to go in a day or two. So I like Shaq, but honestly, he was more than deserving of blame in getting kicked off the Lakers. Kobe deserves blame, too, but showed more poise and clearheadedness (and more love for the game) than Shaq.

And I won’t even address the rape situation; you can’t argue with an angry guy like SunsFanBlog.

So most of this didn’t address Kobe being a douche, but most of what you cited didn’t either; so it’s all good. But Kobe can be a bit of a douche (and a huge one, especially early in his career), much like anyone and everyone. But the difference between Kobe and Garnett is that Kobe has matured, somewhat; he is not nearly as much of a douche as he was five years ago, whereas Garnett is 32 and still a douche. You will recall the Suns/Celtics game where Garnett repeatedly got angry at Stoudemire, instigated a double technical, and went at him hard a couple of times for no reason (didn’t even have the ball two of those times). So while Kobe has grown up, realized some of his errors, and made amends and progress towards fixing them, Garnett still does douchy things when his team is losing, badly.

I will say that Kobe’s first two years without Shaq were awful and he was partly to blame. He had an awful team, sure, but he didn’t make many efforts to bring them up, to raise their game as Lebron has done. He quickly got over that, however, and the Lakers of 06-07 were much better, and the year after went to the Finals with basically the same squad (Gasol obviously was an addition). Farmar, Odom, Vujacic, Walton, Turiaf, Mihm, etc. have all gotten significantly better over the past few years, and the last year and a half has been to Kobe’s credit. He started encouraging them as a leader, which he hadn’t done before. I don't want to give him sole credit, for that would depreciate what each player did for themselves, but it had to be healthy having an encouraging, incredible player next to them.

(And, just for comparison, Garnett went to the conference finals in 2004 with a decent Minnesota team, but did worse than Kobe or the same every surrounding year until he was put on the Celtics. Obviously, Garnett deserves a lot of credit for the team atmosphere on the Celtics this year, but adding to a positive team atmosphere and raising the game of those around you are two different things. I would say Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers deserve most of the credit for the bench development.)

So yes, Kobe has been a giant douche bag, yes, Kobe has done a lot of stupid things, and no, I won't defend a lot of his actions over the past 11 years; but judge him by who he is, not who he was. The last year and a half, he has matured, grown as a person and a player, has said in different interviews that he feels this way, that he feels closer to his family and his children, and that he’s past all of his boyish nonsense that pervaded most of his early career. Hell, during the Finals last year after a particularly bad loss, he read a Harry Potter book to his two daughters for hours, saying it was the best thing he’s done in a while. So judge him by who he is, not who he was.


Oh, and that uncyclopedia thing was extremely crazy and very hilarious. haha Here it is if you didn't see the comment Jon left: http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Kobe_Bryant

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Dr. Sir Charles Barkley, PhD (and DPhil, MPhil, and J.D.)

Go here.

I've said it before, and I'll be saying it for years, so I might as well say it now, too: Charles Barkley, in spite of his awful speech mannerisms, is a very intelligent person. When you actually hear the ideas behind the broken speech patterns, whether he's discussing Dirk Nowitzki's ability to knock down the outside jumper or the issue of racism in this country, you have to respect him, have to acknowledge he knows what he's talking about.

I've heard Charles give interviews on CNN and Fox a few times, and he just recently sat down for a longer interview with CNN a few days ago, and that link up there is the transcript. I encourage people to read it and get through his disjointed sentences so you can see that this man is very smart. And not only is he smart, but he isn't afraid (and never has been) of saying the right thing,t he direct thing.

For instance, whenever he has the opportunity, he encourages black people to "stop killing each other, get an education, and don't make fun of people who are trying to get an education" (para.). And he further recognizes and points out that the main issue in this country (and the world, he seems to think) is the conflict between rich and poor. It's cliche, old, and most people hate to hear it, but it's true: we can never get away from rich against poor, haves against have nots. And Charles sees this, understands it, and wants to combat it. He even lays out the role the president should play in America, the way it "ought" to be, according to Dr. Sir Charley Barkely, PhD.

I guess I just can't get over how smart he is, considering he's the same person who read the words "I am a dumbass" on a teleprompter when the boys at TNT pranked him. He was so into his reading he read the line right off, realized his mistake, and cracked up laughing.

And remember, kids: Charles is NOT a role model (cue mid-90's music).

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Wild World of Fanhood

In the sports world, you are only allowed to have to one favorite team per sport. You can only cheer for one team per sport, unless you are rooting for a team that beat your team in that sport. Also, it is preferred, but exceptions are grudgingly allowed, that your favorite teams in each sport be located in the same state/region (preferably state). Finally, it is mandatory to hate in a very extreme, almost comical way, the legendary/current rival(s) of your favorite teams, in their respective sports. If a hated rival is located in the same state as your favorite team in a different sport, then you have to forfeit one of the two teams, in one of the sports – and immediately adopt a new team with compatible rivalries.

Now, I can see why this is the standard operating procedure. Intense sports loyalties are, to be honest, very fun. Going to a game and being able to instantly relate with thousands of other people who are thinking the same things you are is an incredible experience. If you don’t like sports, pick one and get to it; it is something you will not find anywhere else. Trust me, I spent the first 18 years of my life hating sports (or at least remaining ignorant of them). Now I love them, and for good reason. And intense sports loyalties are more easily grounded, and observable, if a person only likes one team per sport. If you like more than one team in a particular state, the loyalty will be even more intense, and more recognizable (and appreciated, probably) by other loyalists. So the above rules make sense, initially.


But then I wonder about sports writers, broadcasters, analysts, and so on: these guys do what I wish I could get away with around my friends (without being ridiculed) – they watch everyone, love everyone, but still, somehow, against all odds, retain their intense loyalties. Why can I not get away with that?

Let us break it down. For whatever reasons, I am a loyal fan of the Dallas Cowboys, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I became a Dallas fan in 1996 (though I didn’t start following them consistently until a couple of years ago) during the Super Bowl when I was eight years old. The whole family had gathered to watch it (almost no one actually liked football; it was just an excuse to get together and eat homemade ice cream) and everyone in the room, including the children (me excluded) was cheering against the Dallas Cowboys, but not necessarily for the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, naturally, being a stupid kid who wanted to stand out, I started rooting heavily (as much as an eight year old can muster) for the ‘Boys, America’s Team. Thus was born my lifelong fanhood.

I became a Lakers fan because of one reason, which eventually led to thousands of other reasons: Kobe Bryant. I absolutely cannot get enough of this guy. I followed him a lot when I was younger, but never got into basketball. I was really fascinated, and still am, with his dominating mindset and his brain process that tells him he is always going to win. Now, that is an overly used phrase, but most times, it is misapplied; almost no one can match Kobe in this area, which is why it is aptly attributed to him. So, eventually, I fell in love with basketball, and now my school work suffers six months out of the year. People say I am a bandwagon fan, but I actually started following Lakers basketball during the two seasons they were awful, not too long ago. So, yeah, eat that, smelly pants.

And I became Diamondbacks fan because, well, I like the guys, what can I say. It would have been much easier to transfer into the Red Sox Nation because my dad was born and raised in Massachussetts and my brother has adopted his Sox loyalty, but I didn’t. I’m not really sure why; I just like the D-backs.

Now, with these loyalties I break all sorts of rules, all over the place. I’m surprised some committee hasn’t called me to testify on my own behalf before they blacklist me from nba.com forever or something. I mean, first, I live in Arizona. Both the Lakers and the Cowboys have rivalries here – the Lakers against the Suns who are in their division and the Cowboys against the Cardinals which is a huge game every year (mainly because there are as many Cowboys fans as Cardinals fans here). Also, the D-backs have division rivals in California, the home of the Lakers: the LOS ANGELES Dodgers and the San Franscisco Giants. So things are pretty much ugly on this front.

So how do we reconcile it? Well, honestly, we don’t. But I have to say that what drove my fanhood, initially, is not regional loyalty or some sense of patriotism for my city or something, but rather, my interest in players. I was driven to the Lakers by Kobe, I was partially driven to the D-backs because of Brandon Webb, and I was helped along, over the years, towards full-fledged Cowboys Fan status because of people like Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Terrell Owens, and Deon Sanders. And, while we’re at it, I have a billion players in every sport whom I take a great deal of interest in, and thus, I enjoy when their teams win (unless it’s against one of my Fav Five Minus Three). And so, my Celtic sports gear a little bit ago, while simultaneously holding a very strong loyalty to the Lakers, was seen as heresy. I liked Boston because I like Garnett and Allen. When I realized how big of a douche Garnett could be, my loyalty to the two players slipped, and the shirt and hat haven’t been seen in public in quite some time.

But that’s what should happen. Or, at the least, should be allowable. As long as I keep my original loyalties, and never waiver, what’s the big deal if I root for other teams (conflict-free, that is)? I wanted the Hawks, desperately, to beat the Celtics in the playoffs last year, and why? Because Josh Smith made me want to shit my pants every time I saw him play. And I wanted Phoenix to beat Dallas because the more I get to watch Amare and Steve Nash, the better I feel. But in the end, if the Lakers don’t win, I’m pissed (and I was; ask Keith – we didn’t talk basketball for three weeks).

So let’s not let intense fan loyalties blind us to the merits alternative forms of sports worshipping. They are all acceptable, and should be allowable publicly, and not just in private. (I know every guy on ESPN is like this. And what about coaches? Do they ever ditch their childhood loyalties, even if they coach for some other team? I’m sure they do.)

And some predictions, why not. Lakers win the championship if they stay healthy, and Kobe wins second MVP even if the team doesn't stay healthy. Diamondbacks due worse next season than they did this season because they failed to engineer a system in which they are able to keep all their good players. And the Cowboys are a mess, but I’ll give them a 70% chance of reaching the playoffs once Romo comes back, assuming they don’t lose three straight or something (which scares me).

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

John McCain's Struggle

Have you ever noticed how John McCain seems like he has lost his soul? As in, literally lost that possibly existent thing we all talk about as holding those intrinsic and specific ideals that make us unique? The John McCain of 2000 (or hell, 2005) was strikingly different than the John McCain of 2007 and beyond – but we all know that, it is old news. But have you ever looked at the man?

There are telling moments when he seems physically pained; it is almost as if his mind is tearing itself apart. He has turned against so many things he strongly believed in before (or at least strongly supported) and it is as if his entire person has not acclimated yet to the new approach. You can tell, after watching enough videos, that his perpetual and giant smile is forced. He has a normal smile, as do all people, but the politician smile he never acquired until recently. Usually, John McCain, when not speaking, will have a solemn, pensive look on his face; I have seen it dozens of times. Now, however, when he is not speaking, he wears this large, overly extroverted smile and after enough viewings, you can see where his face twitches a bit, where his cheek bones struggle to stay as close to his eyes as possible, and where his eyebrows look as if they want to sit down for a bit. Before, he used this smile when speaking, or when laughing, and so on, but now that it is a constant adornment of his fa├žade, it is tiresome, to us and him. This is merely the beginnings of the deconstruction of this man, a simple external feature.

Watch a portion of a speech or a response to a debate question that concerns the Bush tax cuts as well as something else. When speaking about the other issues, he carries himself with a certain air, speaks with a certain confidence and familiarity that you see in people who are sure of themselves, sure of what they are saying, and feel a certain intimacy with it. When McCain begins arguing the positive aspects of a policy that renews the Bush tax cuts, there is a change, sometimes subtle, sometimes very obvious. His sentences flow less smoothly, his sense of intimacy with the subject lessens, and his demeanor seems to shift slightly. Deep down, he is clearly not comfortable with what he is doing and it is tearing him apart.

Watch him give stump speeches at rallies. Watch him stumble through those call and response segments where he gets the crowd fired up and motivated to sustain their fervor through the whole speech. Those little games, those little toys and tricks of political speeches that involve stating a certain position or a fact, listening to the crowd react unfavorably, and then tearing it down to great applause and cheers – they do not sit well with John McCain, who is clearly unsettled every time he has to sustain a broad smile for forty-five minutes while giving some awful speech that is short on details and long on rhetoric (and not good rhetoric, either).

Compare this to Barack Obama, who also favors a different kind of speech-giving, who is more comfortable espousing the ins and outs and ups and downs of policy than the Martin Luther King, Jr. rhetoric that soars above the universe. The difference? Obama does not show his discomfort. In the 90’s, Obama was an awful speech giver; he would drone on and on about policy and laws and the constitution, boring the hell out of his listeners. It was only when he met a guy (whose name I cannot recall from memory) who told him what he was doing it all wrong and encouraged him to educate himself on “the great speech givers” and their techniques. Soon after, Obama began perfecting the rhetoric he is very well known for today and the rest is, as they say (I usually do not say, however), history. Though Obama would rather write an essay for the Harvard Law Review about the inherent vagueness of some constitutional principle, the reasons the Framers wrote it as such, and the positives of such a framing, he foregoes his own longings and gets the job done He feels much better dealing with details, wrapping his mind around the ins and outs of a problem, and working it all over like kneading bread dough. There is a certain pleasure to it, and a rhythm that develops that becomes intoxicating, and I am sure that is one reason Obama finds it so appealing. But no matter how uncomfortable the rhetoric may seem to him, he finds a way to get through it without anyone noticing. McCain, however, has not.

So why is John McCain so opposed to these changes? It seems that he has a very strong loyalty to his principles. Whatever his principles may be, he likes them best and wants to stick with them. And this should come as no surprise and should, after all, seem rather intuitive, for the conservative mind has a stronger tendency to place importance on things like loyalty and tradition. Irrespective of the pros and cons of such a mindset, it is the way it is. A liberal mind, for contrast, is going to tend towards ‘tolerance’ (or what they see as tolerance) and change (or what they see as change). So it is no large surprise that McCain would find such changes as he has been making throughout the campaign to be uncomfortable and unnerving. This also explains why Obama can so easily disguise whatever discomfort he may have in shifting positions to reflect the center on issues or engaging in exorbitant amounts of rhetorical speech at rallies: his mind is naturally more open to change and new ideas, so it is easier to accept certain things to gain ground.

So whether or not I agree with John McCain’s principles, the man has them and he strongly wants to stick to them. But he is also a rambling, gambling man, a straight-shooter who “does what he wants,” so to speak. I honestly think he tends towards maverick-ism because he likes standing out. He did so constantly during his military service; he was considered a brash, young buck of a pilot, sort of a Tom Cruise/Top Gun character. So maybe the reason he originally opposed the Bush tax cuts was because he was still steaming about his demonization in the Republican primaries and wanted to stick it to the President – it would make him a maverick, a standout among the crowd, just what he has always been.

So when he modifies his positions to look like a standard Republican candidate, it must eat his heart up inside. It must feel like some acidic disease is slowly devouring his organs, gradually assimilating destruction to his entire body. His spirit must be crushed every time he repeats a party line, every time he compliments Sarah Palin, and every time he shuts his mouth and lets his advisors do some dirty work.

So watch McCain next time, try to notice the little ticks, the changes in intimacy and familiarity, the constant struggle to sustain that inhuman smile. Watch him and feel his pain, feel his hurt, feel the emptiness in the room as he searches for his soul from among a sea of devils (though he may be one as well). Watch him die on stage, for Pro-America America

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Discrimination/Inequality

UPDATE: I misread the dates on the articles I read and thought the Palin/money thing happened a week ago and no one had said a word. They came out today, however. Go me.

Remember when John Edwards had that epic haircut that cost 400$? And everyone gave him all kinds of hell? The media crucified him for such an expenditure? Yeah, it was pretty ridic. And you know what? They were probably right to do it. A 400$ haircut is a little absurd. Is there such a striking difference between his haircut and the one my local guy could give me? Hell, all he needed was some scissors and some hairspray - that could have done the same thing. So it was probably pretty stupid to go that crazy. But guess what?

Since Governor Palin was selected as McCain's VP candidate, the RNC has spent 150,000 dollars on clothes, makeup, etc. for her and her family. And guess what?

The media hasn't said A WORD.

What the hell? Reverse discrimination: you pile up the shit on John Edwards, but when a woman does it, nothing? That's real nice, media. Way to go. Here's the official release:

"The political website www.politico.com reported Tuesday night that the Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 for clothes, accessories, cosmetics and hair-styling for Palin and her family since August. According to RNC financial disclosure records, the amount includes a bill of more than $75,000 from Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis in early September, as well as bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York totaling more than $49,000."

And they checked Obama's campaign as well:

"Politico reported that a review of similar records for the Barack Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee turned up no spending similar to the amount spent on Palin and her family."

So we're certain this isn't a lie; to further add credibility that they spent such an exorbitant amount, the McCain campaign commented on it, implicitly acknowledging the expenditures:

"With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it's remarkable that we're spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses," said spokesperson Tracey Schmitt. "It was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign."

Did the Republicans use this language and argument when commenting on John Edwards haircut? Nope. Gotta love it.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This is Ridiculous

Alright, so I know I've been posting a lot, blah, blah, blah, but I need to tell this shit to someone, even if it's the Great Void known as the blogosphere. But really, telling the Great Void these things is just as good as telling my mother, who could probably care less (I don't blame her, of course; I repeatedly bring up subjects a normal person could care less about).

In any case, two atrocious things to report. First, Sarah Palin has reiterated her statement, for the second time, about what the role of the Vice President is:

"[T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom." (She was responding to a question fielded by a third grader.)

In contrast, here's what the Constitution says:

"The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided."

And the U.S. Senate website says (bold added for emphasis):

"According to Article 1, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, 'The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.' Other than being prepared to succeed to the presidency if needed, the vice president's only constitutional role in government is to preside over the Senate."

So the VP, as per the Constitution, "presides" over the Senate (without power, however) and casts a tie-breaking vote. There are no other duties or powers granted explicitly or implicitly in that document. So when she says she's going to "be in charge" of the Senate, she's out of her mind - and this is the second time she has said this in a televised interview. I mean, what does "preside" even mean? Usually, the term is used to describe an honorary position on a committee/etc. or the person who mediates an event of some sort, without having actual power or duties other than mediation. So Palin is going to "be in charge of" something she only has the right to "preside" over. I'm a little confused as to what she does and does not know. Maybe it's all an act?

The other thing that spooked me is this: A 45 year old man was hunting with his dogs when a black bear mother rushed him, knocking him down repeatedly. He required stitches and bandages. What did he do? He killed the bear. He fought it off and found a big stick and beat its head in. Now, reading the story, I was sad, because the bear was clearly defending its young, which were nearby, but at the same time, should the hunter just let himself be killed? It's a tough pill to swallow, but obviously, the guy had to save his own life. He has given many heartfelt apologies for killing the bear, he feels awful.

But for some reason, animal-activists hate the guy. They are impersonating him in emails sent to media outlets, attacking him verbally, and harassing him at home. One lady called and asked "Why didn't you just run away?" to which he responded "you can't run away from a full grown black bear." (I would have added, "didn't you go to schooooool?") He is frustrated by all of this, as well he should be. It's ridiculous that in a situation like this we all can't feel bad for both sides and move on. The guy did nothing wrong, and he feels awful for the situation having to come down to his life or the bear's. It sucks, he admits it, we all admit, but don't harass the guy. All these people deserve t-shirts bearing the lines "King of the Douche Bags."

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FreeDarko Genius

So FreeDarko decided to do a one line prediction of EVERY game on the calendar for the NBA - every single game, every single night. Obviously, after game 4,000 he's going to shoot himself in the head, but for now I'm enjoying his predictions. Here are a few of my favorites.

Oct 29 Denver @ Utah. Anthony Carter laughs himself to sleep as he thinks about the fact that he is still a starting point guard in the NBA.

Nov 01 L.A. Lakers @ Denver. Reporter at post-game press conference liveblogs, “Phil Jackson looks totally high right now.”

Nov 05 Boston @ Oklahoma City. Instead of playing the Thunder, the Celtics just show up and sign autographs for the Thunder players and fans.

Nov 05 Portland @ Utah. The Jazz play terribly as a result of being hungover from their wild election night party involving russian strippers, PCP, and a lot of Guitar Hero.

Nov 07 Detroit @ New Jersey. Vince Carter passes it to himself for a reverse jam.

(For you, Philly brothers) Nov 11 Utah @ Philadelphia. Philly fans become bored with Elton Brand, long for the days of Allen Iverson + 11 nobodies.

Nov 15 New Jersey @ Atlanta. Josh Smith finally gets a triple-double in windmill dunks, blocks, and alley-oops.

Nov 19 Washington @ Atlanta. Joe Johnson forgets to take his downers, goes off for 64 points.

Nov 28 Golden State @ Cleveland. LeBron James decides before the game to begin the "Muslim phase" of his storied career.

Jan 04 Portland@L.A. Lakers: Greg Oden and Andrew Bynum break four backboards a piece, forcing the game to be decided by Rock Paper Scissors. After some mild dispute over the rules, Kobe beats Brandon Roy 2-1 with paper over rock. John Canzano writes a column questioning whether Roy has even been practicing his RPS form.

Jan 23 Milwaukee@Atlanta: Mario West takes his first free throw from four feet behind the line. The three-point line.

It's really odd. FreeDarko begins developing story lines amongst all of this, unintentionally at first. But madness appears to take over and things get a little out of hand. It's all very humorous, but only if you read them all, and he's not even done writing them yet. It's one of those things where at the beginning, there's no huge payoff, but the further you get, the better the payoff, the better the enjoyment and amusement. It's tough to get through at first, but you start rolling on the ground at how absurd it's all become, especially when you realize that a single man has been spending every waking hour writing these - he certainly must be incoherently babbling nonsense to his friends and family, and the deterioration in writing as the predictions continue gives me reason to think as much. This man could actually die if he continues. haha

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Monday, October 20, 2008

To My Favorite Philly Brothers - This One's For You

This is NOT a Rickroll

So two of my friends are Philly guys; they're not from Philly, but went to UPenn, so they automatically have Philly blood. They're not necessarily loyal to Philly teams, but as semi-blooded Philadelphians, they must, at any opportunity, knock Boston fans. It's pretty much a blood ritual I think the three big cities play out - Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. These three cities are chock full of sports guys who hock venum at each other, all for fun. But I must admit, it is pretty fun. So my two Philly bros give my real bro shit for being a Boston fan. Well, here's some help for my bro to get back. Of course, I'm not sure if Philly fans would be ashamed or proud of this. Hmmm.

A guy at Deadspin asked for readers to give him stories of Philly fans being, well, um, Philly fans. What he got was a deluge of stories about the most awful, wretched, immoral people who ever lived. But I gotta, say, it's freakin' hilarious. I only now wish the same guy would ask for similar stories about Boston and New York.

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Rickroll'd?


I just got Rickroll'd. It was pretty Wii-tarded. I'll save you the embarrassment and just show the damn picture. Oh, and Leeroy Jenkins (Philippi loves this guy) was a question on Jeopardy - that is abso-frickin-lutely ridiculous. It was college week and they thought it would be funny; only, no one knew the answer. Haha. Anyways, it's early, I'm tired, I have a test, and I needed to laught So enjoy.


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Oh, and Some Men in Hats

burn them

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Willaim Kristol? Really? Sigh...

William Kristol, a founding member of Neo-Conservatism (aka Neo-Racism), wrote an article in The New York Times for today, or Monday, or whatever the hell day it is - (I think I read the article when it was Sunday here but Monday back east, but this post might be going up Monday here; got it?) - about Joe the Plumber, among other things. His thesis, it seemed, was to argue that the "common people," the Joe Plumbers et al., have done pretty well for the country. In his own words: "Needless to say, the public’s not always right, and public opinion’s not always responsible. But as publics go, the American public has a pretty good track record."

He cites a few superficially strong examples and concludes his point, thinking he has shown, explicitly, that his thesis holds. Sadly, he fails to address a number of strong examples that run counter to his thesis. But let's look at his "strong" supporting examples. He states that in the 1930's "the American people didn't fall - unlike so many of their supposed intellectual betters - for either fascism or Communism." This is true, to an extent. The American people, as a whole, leaned neither right nor left to the extreme, like so many other populaces around the world. Now, I'm not sure if those other countries were considered our intellectual superiors, but I'll let the matter slide. In fact, I'm willing to grant that this point is strong; let's say it is and move on. Next, he states that since World War II, the American public resisted isolationism and "turned their backs on a history of bigotry." I'm not sure if I can grant these two, for a) I'm not convinced that we resisted isolationism, and b) we definitely have not turned our backs on a history of bigotry. Evidence is abundant in today's world. And, Kristol implicitly (and unwittingly, I imagine) admits that these same American people have been bigots, for some meaningful period of time. How does a "history of bigotry" go unnoticed in his examination, a fact he pointed out? It's a little odd, but nothing unusual for a Kristol article. These are his "strong" supporting examples.

What if we grant that both these examples are true and strong? He still loses. For Kristol cherry picks his evidence, here. He seems to have overlooked that "history of bigotry" he briefly mentioned. For over 200 years, the American people hated minorities and allowed, through the democratic process, laws discriminating against them. How does that factor into their track record? Pretty heavily, I'd imagine. Now, Kristol could come back at me and say that he was implicitly talking about the 20th century and beyond. But those same people who resisted isolationism, fascism, and communism spent 64 years hating black people legislatively, and another 44 privately. So how does he get off saying they have a good track record? They have an awful track record. Widespread anti-minority sentiment, backed up by powerful legislation - that's their crowning achievement. On that list are other acts, too: supporting Reagan, voting for George Bush twice, voting Jimmy Carter out of office, encouraging death and destruction by submitting their will to wars in multiple countries, and paying way more attention to media outlets than they should. This is a strikingly beautiful track record.

So Kristol got it wrong, again, and in a rather lopsided manner. He's usually spinning the truth, but today/tonight/tomorrow he simply missed it; he didn't spin it because he didn't know where it was - that or he was lying through his teeth, which is a strong possibility, given the man. But in any case, I thought his attrocity of an article (which many conservatives will find enlightening and intelligently informed) deserved attention, if only to satiate my desire to crush him. Speaking of crushing, he should go back on the Colbert Report; that worked out really well last time.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Oh Men in Hats, How You Pleasure Me

So I've rekindled my old love affair with that damn online comic Men in Hats. Our relationship was good...when it was good. But I just couldn't do it anymore, I just couldn't take the emotional strain of long, dark, sweaty nights - alone, together, in a park, maybe, or a motel room. Or maybe the guy stopped writing the comic, and there was nothing left to do but reread the old ones. Yeah, that seems more likely. In any case, here's a couple of my favorites.

Go here to read them all, or just ask me or Keith to let you borrow the book we may or may not have purchased containing all the comics, from Day 1...losers!

number one

Like Aram, I also hate people.

number tw0

I also steal from blind people. It's a good living, don't judge me.

number three

If I ever become a politician (and God save the world if I do), this would be on t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, the sides of big trucks going down the street, and the stomachs of babies.

number four

Bad people are coooool. Don't do drugs, kids.

So, apparently there's too many good ones to post them all here. Go read it. They're short, funny, and if you don't, I'll assume you like Sarah Palin. And remember, even JESUS hates Sarah Palin.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Spewing Hatred

This campaign reminds me of the TV show 'ER': we loved it in the beginning, watched it win awards while we faithfully kept track, and then watched as it died, slowly, over a long period of time before it finally succumbed to the awful eternity of death.

In the beginning, you loved everyone and everything; positions didn't matter so much as the fact that people with positions were up in front of you again, asking for your vote. It was exciting. So many new people, so many new faces, so many new things to think about and do, and research and read! It was incredible! And then you started picking favorites, started getting rid of the ones you hated, getting rid of the ones who weren't very good, and the campaign settled down into a smaller race, just a few left on each side. Some were given praise for their hard work, some were left out, there was an occasional scandal or two that rocked the primaries and made us all watch again. But then, twenty years later, you were tired, and the campaign was old. And the two people left, in order to retain viewership and make people remember them more than the other guy, started doing stupid things, like changing their mind on issues, or throwing negative ads at each other. And the debates? The debates were awful! They were pleading with the American audience to not forget them! Don't forget me! I've been putting in 20 hours a day for two years! I deserve your vote for that if nothing else! Fuck Joe the Plumber and Joe Six Pack, and Hockey Moms and Jesusologists! I've been working my ass for years! You are MORALLY inclined to vote for me! Ahhhhh!!! It was like watching two people argue the same position, for an hour and a half, like watching vaudeville performers decry the invention of movies, or white golfers when Tiger Woods started dominating, or white suburban mothers when black people started selling rap records...ahhhhh! The debates were awful, both candidates look more the same than they did a year ago - they should be on the same ticket! And who said the dumbest thing? I don't even know, they both couldn't say two smart things in a row. Obama said he would encourage more funding for charter school vouchers, and then said later that vouchers were bad. McCain said vouchers were bad and then later said he would fund them more! What the hell!? I thought we were supposed to elect the best and brightest, but it looks like we're limited to Dumb and Dumber. If the question about Bush is "Great president or the Greatest president?" then for McCain and Obama its "Dumb candidate or the Dumbest candidate?"

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I am Swamped. Like, Louisiana Bayou Swamped.

So I've been so busy with school and school related activities the past three to four days that I feel as if I should have a degree under my belt already, with all the crap I've been doing And you know what? It's not over. I have to finish a Final Project Proposal for playwriting (which is harder than it sounds), a five page exercise for playwriting also due tomorrow (and something I haven't started), a test on Monday, and a test a late Midterm on Tuesday. On top of that, I have to write a first draft of my Final Project by NEXT Thursday (the first 20 pages of a play), and I have to have the revisions of another play done by that time as well. It's going to be a hectic and awful weekend, so I don't expect to hang out with anyone.

Speaking of plays, the one that needs revisions is being produced on campus along with five other plays like it. So, um, you should come see it. It's funny that I asked my faithful readers to come see my play because I already told them all individually. Whatever. The play itself isn't very substantial; it's a ten-minute play, which means it's roughly ten minutes long. But apparently its a famous and common play form. Plus, it makes it easier to produce a larger number of works if they're all ten minutes.

Oh, and I just saw a commercial about Propositino 102 that wants to ban gay marriage. I am reminded again why nuclear proliferation to angry countries might not be a bad thing...sigh.

This post sucks.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tonight's Epic-ness

So I went to Jon's to watch the Red Sox game and the Suns/Nuggets "outdoor" game. Tfunk was there, and the three of us did what all trios of men do on Saturday nights: sit around and watch sports. Bleh... The Red Sox lost in the bottom of the eleventh inning; the game went over five hours. The Suns lost to the Nuggets and it was awful.

The Suns starting five looked terrible. I realize Diaw was in for Stoudemire, but still, those six guys should be able to run the floor pretty well and do the things they did last year. Somehow, though, the Nuggets bench beat them up. They looked like a group of players who had never played together before. I suppose the problem is really that Terry Porter instituted a new style of offense, and it's taking time to work it out, but still, five good ball players vs. Nuggets bench: I wanna see some production, here. The good news is that their poor play is helping vindicate my prediction that the Suns aren't going to make the playoffs. I WANT them to make the playoffs, but I'm skerrred. We'll know, I think, after the first 35 games or so, whether or not the Suns will be in the top 8 in the West; after that chunk of games, it should be obvious. But who knows. Maybe I'm horribly wrong. I hope.

In other news, the Lakers look so-so in preseason. If they can figure out just what to do with Bynum, Odom, Gasol, Kobe, Fisher, Farmer, Vujabitch, Vlad the Rad, Ariza, and Walton (that's a lot of talent), they should win the West again and make it the finals, where, hopefully, they win. But we'll see. Injuries might kill us (Gasol, Bynum, Odom, Kobe, Fisher, Walton...they all are prone to injuries. At least Kobe can play through his.)

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Early Morning Epigram! And ManLove

"In the U.S.A, it's winners vs. losers, and the fix is on."
- Someone who is obviously smarter than the rest of us




Anyways, ManLove. The White Sox are a very loving team, it seems. So loving, in fact, that they make out on the field every time they win a playoff spot. (I wonder if they made out on the field after losing in the first round.) Notice how the guy on the left is aware of the camera and doesn't seem to like it. He's either upset that he's getting frenched on camera, in front of millions, or he's upset because he wants to get nasty, but he's not a fan of making pornos. I think he just likes the penis. The guy on the right, though, is going at it. If he had one night with his buddy, it would be lights out. Wow.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

??? is a Copy Cat

Just kidding, ???. But yeah, ??? started a blog, too. Everyone, and their mother, is starting a blog. Woot.

And, on an unrelated note, we're all losers! We blog! bLaRg!

http://tinfoilhatsareus.blogspot.com/

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Beautiful Man with a Beautiful Dream

The day Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. died, I wept. I honestly broke down in tears. I didn't cry when one of my grandma's died, when an uncle died, or when a cousin died. But Kurt Vonnegut? I wept. I've been rereading his corpus today because it always fills me with the joy that I'm a human being concerned with equality and peace, rather than "victory at any cost," and other such nonsense. Here's a quote from Vonnegut regarding the Allied air bombings near the end of World War II, Dresden in particular (look it up).

"There can be no doubt that the Allies fought on the side of right and the Germans and Japanese on the side of wrong. World War II was fought for near-Holy motives. But I stand convinced that the brand of justice in which we dealt, wholesale bombing of civilian populations, was blasphemous. That the enemy did it first has nothing to do with the moral problem. What I saw of our air war, as the European conflict neared an end, had the earmarks of being an irrational war for war's sake. Soft citizens of American democracy learned to kick a man below the belt and make the bastard scream.

The occupying Russians, when they discovered that we were Americans, embraced us and congratulated us on the complete desolation our planes had wrought. We accepted their congratulations with good grace and proper modesty, but I felt then as I feel now, that I would have given my life to save Dresden for the World's generations to come. That is how everyone should feel about every city on Earth."

Why don't we all feel that way?

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BABY EYES! Another Update From School


So 'baby eyes' is everywhere. Through the power of Teh Internetszszsz, I have found baby twins for people I know. It's the most incredible discovery since those Dead Sea Scrolls, or whatever. The first baby, the one above, is just fuckin' crazy looking. Also, I think the father should really hire a private investigator to see if his wife had sex with any ALIENS. But damn, he ugly. I'd love a baby like that, though, because when you show it to people, they HAVE to say it's cute, otherwise they're dickheads. And no one likes to be a dickhead. And if I'm the dad, I know my baby is shit ugly. So it's hilarious when people have to lie to my face and tell me how cute my shit ugly baby is. And in other news, I'm still an asshole.



But on to the babies (right?). Here's Ben as a baby. I think it's a rather incredible likeness. This is the face Ben uses when he wants someone to shut up. But, I've also seen him use it when Keith rubs his Lion Belly. This baby is apparently hoping for the same. Ben should do this face more. Like, he should do it all the time. Can you imagine sitting in class with a guy doing this face for an hour? That would be awful.





Now, here's Keith. Keith loves doing this face: it's his sad panda face. This baby has it down. Keith does this face whenever he forgets the name of a state capital (for the record, he and I can name about 15, together) or whenever he has to eat Panda Express. I think both events are about the same in terms of how much terrrbleness is applied to the individual experiencing them. Anyways, here's to you, Sad Panda Keith.



And this last one is precious. It requires almost no introduction. I give you:

MICHAEL FILLMAN!



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Reporting from PHI 301: The Class I'm Not Taking Seriously

So I haven't been taking this class too seriously. It's "History of Ancient Philosophy" and the way the professor is approaching it, I don't have to do much. He had us buy an anthological text and then he offered us, for free, his book-in-progress about the subject. We have readings in both, but here's the catch: his lectures, every day, are right out of his book, chronologically as well as word-for-word paste jobs. So, if I read and understand his book, I don't have to show up. Currently, I'm under .500 in terms of attendance.

Right now, the class is attempting to pick his brain about a midterm review and it's not going well. His approach is that a significant portion of what he is testing us on is our ability to understand what material is important; naturally, the questions people are asking do not fit into that schematic. Obviously, there is a lot of frustration. I find it all funny. At first, I wasn't a fan of the way he was teaching the class, but now, after hearing him talk about the midterm, I'm starting to really like the guy. I might be the only one.

In any case, I thought I'd give a characterization of the man through two direct quotes, right from class. The first comes from last week, and the second from right now, about ten minutes ago.

(When describing why both political parties in Athens at the time, the 'democratic' people and the aristocrats, were angry at the sophists.)

"The democrats, the democratic people at the time, were upset because a sophistical education was very expensive and the democratic people were, notoriously, poor. Well, I guess not much has changed."

He himself thought this was funny and laughed heartily. Also, it's only offensive if he's some sort of conservative ideologue, but he's not, so it's hilarious.

(Some guy trying to reassure the class that this midterm isn't going to be as hellish as they were thinking.)

Some Guy - "Guys, look, it's in his best interest for us to succeed."

Professor - "No it's not."

BAM! So quick. He didn't wait for a second to come back with that line. The class laughed and then realized what he said was a bad thing, at which point they broke out into desperate cries for help, which went unnoticed. The class, I think, is getting together afterwards to beat up "Some Guy" and feed him to the fishes. I might watch; it could be fun.

Oh, and if you haven't seen it yet, look at Jon's blog (http://jcwiii.blogspot.com). He claims it will CONSTANTLY be FUNNY, so it's our job to ridicule him whenever it SUCKS BALLS. Will it be tomorrow? I'm ready to find out.

Also, I think Ben should start a blog. And Keith. And Jesus. 'Cause then we'd all be cool. And we could all study Spy together. Keith knows what I'm talking about. And, I guess technically, Jesus, too.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Brother Has a Blog: Run For the Hills!


Jon's Blog About Gay People Like Himself

So Jon made a blog. The first post is hilarious. Read it. Cringe. Laugh. Die. And then give me your worldly possessions.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Why Thinking is Bad, Kids

Sometimes I feel like I inject my life with too much control, too much planning, too many right answers. I feels so estranged from normal society, sometimes, because normal society often doesn't think, doesn't control, doesn't get a lot of things right. I feel like I'm on the outside, looking in, at a busy metropolis of life and action and vivacity that I'm not a part of. I'm not willing to take enough risks, because I hate being wrong; so I plan everything out and get the right answer and move on to the next query, the next target, the next issue to consume. Sometimes I want to just make a change, make a very uninformed decision, one that will have a significant impact on my life, something that will shake up my controlled world. I don't need someone else telling me how to live my life, or someone else making decisions for me; I just need to make some decisions without thinking, do some things without planning, hook up with a random person, and not care about it (for example). What if I did something that didn't seem like the right thing, or did something that I didn't plan out beforehand? Did something in minutes that required hours? I'm so afraid of being wrong, or caught in a bad situation, that I haven't done that, so far.

What if I spend six years doing undergrad, purposely? I'd love to learn three other languages, finish a philosophy degree, learn more math, and spend a year or two overseas somewhere, maybe Switzerland, or, hell, Senegal. But I'm so afraid of being 24 and nowhere in life that I remain reluctant and indecisve. I guess I have to remember that I'm only 20, that I've got years ahead of me (presumably, that is; but you have to live life based on this assumption, otherwise what the hell are you doing?). I have so much time to figure shit out and do whatever I want. I can't just fuck around forever, but I can certainly indulge in some things that aren't directly related to a career. I don't, I suppose, need to make progress in any particular direction, so long as I'm making progress, moving upward. Right?

And what is it that I'm heading for, anyways? Philosophy professor/author of philosophy texts? Do I consider law school? Linguist? Professional Douche Bag? What about bowling? I could drop everything and work on my ball spin. What about anything? Everything? I truly think there's no discipline in which I couldn't be successful. And the worst part? I could see myself being equally happy in any of the above situations. (Yes, even Professional Douche Bag; I've been perfecting the art for years now - all I need is someone to pay me.)

The more I think about all this, the less decisive I am. The more I think about it, th less sure of anything I become. The more I think about it, the less real it all seems, the more fake it becomes. Because if I can't see any conceivable difference between different life trajectories (with respect to my satisfaction), then what's the point? Where's the reality? Where's the point at which I know one is right and the others less right? Maybe I don't. Maybe it's like love: there's guaranteed to be a dozen people who would all be perfect life partners. Maybe I should just pick the one that makes the most money and be done with it. But I probably won't; for, as usual, indecision wins, and I do nothing. Or if I do something, it's a baby step in one direction that simultaneously leaves me open to other options in case of failure. So I get nowhere, again.

I need to tell myself, over and over: I can't wait for the future to vindicate the present; I have to make the present vindicate the future.

No matter what I do, I'll never be convinced it was the right decision. This thinking makes me clearly incapable of making the big decisions, the important ones, much less live with those decisions. This all kind of sucks, doesn't it? But whatever, it's something I probably have to figure out on my own. Advice on problems like this is usually less than helpful, I've noticed. It always seems that the advice means well but has no practical effect on the decision-maker; or it doesn't relate in a way that's intimate enough to make a difference. And that's because the problem is more than just words on a paper; it's something internal, something private and personal, so deep that no one can get at it except the person it relates to. And it's really hard to put that shit in words, so the advice solicited/received is almost always useless. And that kind of sucks, too, doesn't it?

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dissolution of Anger Through ManLove



So I'm not in a good mood. My brother was really angry with me, and now he's not, I guess; one of my best friends is upset with me, which sucks balls; and I keep pissing off people by opening my mouth. It hasn't been the best of times, let's just say. The cure for my ills? ManLove, of course.


Ah, nothing like one man helping out a fellow man in the best way possible. Sharing is caring, kids.

But anyways, back to the shit that went down this weekend. My brother is clearly frustrated with a number of things going on in his life right now and it's no big deal that he sort of blew up at me this morning. Honestly, he's under a lot of stress, he put himself in a bad position that is difficult to get out of, and we were talking ideology last night. That's never a good combination. It was about relationships et al: the main point we kept returning to was the difference in approach a few of us had when it came to pursuing women. Keith and Jon were of one mind, and Biggie and I were of another. Keith and Jon felt risk-taking was necessary and that in order to win the game, you had to play the game. Biggie and I are, naturally, cowards and don't like risk-taking; we also don't like that it's a game (which seems weird, really) and refuse, at times, to play it.

Now, why are relationships games? Doesn't it seem a little weird to say "I'm going to find the love of my life by playing a game." I would like to think that the person whom I spend the rest of life with (assuming someone can put up with me for an extended period of time) would not be found in some game, with trivial rules and what not. I'd like to think that two adults sharing each other's company would stem from meaningful interaction as opposed to "gaming." But maybe that's just me, and maybe I'm really just trying to find a new name, while keeping the same characteristics - I'm not really sure. It's difficult to call a spade a spade when you're not actually sure if it's a spade. Existential shit, right there.

Maybe it's all a game and I just don't want to play it; maybe I'm frustrated that in order to frequently find meaningful (maybe...) interaction of this nature, I have to play a game. It seems odd to say that to find meaningful interaction of a particularly refined nature, I have to play a game. At that point, is it really meaningful interaction, or do we simply enter another game, followed by another, and so on? Is it all just games? Do we ever find real meaningful interaction, outside the context of a game? Probably not, and maybe that's what really upsets me: not that it's a game, or that I have to play it, or that I might have to take risks that I'm normally opposed to. Maybe it's that there can never not be a game, and I'll just have to keep on playing them to get by and to get laid. Does this depress anyone else?

The depressing inevitability that it's all a game, and can never change, is reminiscent of today's political system: to win and enact meaningful change you have to play a game that is diametrically at odds with enacting meaningful change. So, if you get elected, can you really enact meaningful change? Or are you already deep in the system, unable to do that which you once thought was possible?

Who cares. On to the second problem: my best friend being mad at me. So, best friend and I are, to be fair, at opposite ends of the political spectrum, and this is fine. In fact, it's healthy; it often breeds discussion as opposed to the normal reiteration of beliefs you find among groups with similar political views. But sometimes, best friend and I go at each other over stupid things (i.e. political shit) that really doesn't matter, and that's not good. The issue today? Well, I said George Washington (and other Founding Father buddies) needed to be examined in light of their slaveholding natures and that we shouldn't simply deify them straightaway because of other things they did. This didn't sit well with best friend and he said some things that weren't cool (even though I totally understand where he's coming from). So what now? I don't know. We'll probably forget about it, have lunch, do sexy time, and forget it about. But what if we don't?

...

I suppose an easy way out of all this contextual existential bullshit is to just say "fuck it" and do what you want: kill babies, sleep with random women, and make fun of old people - what else are you gonna do? Play the game? There's probably a third option, but in these situations it usually requires some sort of combination of the two systems, which is difficult and often untenable. And besides, third party...er, third option people get ridiculed and never have sex, so, you know, do what you want, I guess.

So what did all this prove? Nothing, as usual. None of this shit ever does. People write books; people read them; people think they've learned something. But honestly, they never do - no one ever does. We eat, shit, sometimes sleep, and occasionally we get laid. That's about it. Thinking, changing, learning...those are for sissies and wimps. Sigh...it sucks to be a sissie and a wimp.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

If you Condemn Hitler, then Condemn Washington

Often when discussing historical figures, I hear a defense that never ceases to surprise me: You can't say Person X is bad because Belief A was common at the time - everyone was doing it.


Sigh...Really? Are we going to say that simply because a belief was common at the time, a belief later proved horribly immoral, Person X should not be condemned nor partially vilified? Here's why this reasoning is a very bad idea.

Take George Washington (or most other Founding Fathers): he owned slaves, used slaves, and never made an attempt to abolish or decrease the presence of slavery. Awful guy? I would say so. He was engaging in a practice that most people at the time thought was alright. But, obviously (and somewhat intuitively), we now hold slavery as something atrocious and objectively wrong. Was slavery wrong then or only right now? Both! The slavery they were practicing was wrong, morally. Any slavery we practice today is wrong, morally. So then why do people always want to defend Washington by saying that it was alright in his era, so we can't condemn him?

I won't argue this way, but I could remind Washington defenders that he said himself slavery was morally wrong, and so did a host of other contemporaries. But again, I won't argue this way.

What happens if we let this defense obtain? Can we then condemn Adolf Hitler? Nope. Doing so would be inconsistent with our previous belief: Hitler's view about wanting to kill all the Jewish people was widely accepted in Germany/Austria at the time as a good way of doing things, and, more importantly, the right way of doing things. So, if we do not condemn Washington, then we do not condemn Hitler.

And what are we saying when we say Hitler is wrong, anyways? Are we saying that killing innocent people is wrong? Certainly. Most rational people would agree that, under unexceptional circumstances, killing innocent people is wrong - right now, and 2000 years ago. External to the Washington example, I would bet highly that most rational people would also agree that, under unexceptional circumstances, enslaving human beings is wrong - right now, and 2000 years ago. So again, I repeat the refrain: why defend Washington? Or Jefferson? Or any of the celebrities of the revolution?

If you do not condemn Washington, you do not condemn Hitler. That's logic, bitches.


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Friday, October 3, 2008

There Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus


So today on campus, at the busiest intersection in terms of both foot traffic and cars (and such), a Catholic Organization (which apparently inhabits a nearby building) decided to protest gay marriage. They came armed with multiple signs, poles to hang them twelve feet int he air, pamphlets...and a bagpiper! Needless to say, for many reasons, I was excited. Any time people gather to protest something, and are so prepared, they deserve attention. I gave them some of mine.


As a preface, I want to say that people are allowed to hold whatever position they want on a given issue. My dissatisfaction stems, in most cases, from a lack of consistency in a person's beliefs. That's usually the point at which I get upset. So, in the future, all I ask, Catholic organization, is that you be consistent in your beliefs.

I first approached the nearest member; he was an older gentleman, with a kindly disposition. I calmly asked him what he found so unattractive about equality.

...

He apparently felt the need to ignore me. After this initial foray, the herd could smell danger; they knew there was a lion in their midst.

I then asked the young guy handing out pamphlets and saying something about Jesus if he felt Jesus was an egalitarian. He asked what "egalitarian" meant, and after explaining that it had a bit to do with equality, he said, yes, Jesus would have been an egalitarian. I then proceeded to ask if Jesus would have supported taking away rights from citizens. He turned away and began handing pamphlets to someone else.

Hmmm. I wasn't getting anywhere. Well, might as well head for the bagpiper; I love bagpipes.

Now, my love for bagpipes is rather strong. And the bagpipe is an instrument that requires precision, exactness, and perfection that is beyond the capabilities of most mortals. For purity's sake, I'll simply give an exact transcript of our conversation. No joke; this word-for-word:

"Hey, man, you blow pretty good, but your pipes are a little out."
"Yeah? Yeah? They're out of tune? Really?" (he was rather defensive)
"Yeah, brother, they're a little off."
"Really. Flat or sharp? Huh? Which one?"
"Flat, man."
"Oh yeah? Do I push in or pull out?"
"Why would you pull out? That would make it worse. Push in, dude."

Then he turned away and refused to say more. I imagine his musicality quiz didn't exaclty turn out the way he envisioned. I suppose he didn't expect an adept musician to give him tuning advice. I wanted to tell him, a bit more forcefully, that he clearly had a deficiency in pitch perception, but I don't think that would have solved anything.

At this point, I was getting blacklisted by everyone, so my conversations were going unheeded. Flag waving and sign holding are apparently taxing activities.

Also, I suspect that none of them share my egalitarian attitude. Come to think of it, I don't think any of them share Jesus' egalitarian attitude, either.

This brings me to the crux of what I see as the misunderstanding between those who support gay marriage and those who do not: the issue is strictly about equality and beliefs concerning the rightness or wrongness of the act are irrelevant. If the lack of gay marriage fosters inequality in the state, then clearly there is a problem with the state. But for some reason, the conversation seems to center on the deontological nature of gay marriage.

It seems a rather easy issue to deal with: what fosters equality is permissible in the state and mandatory; and what fosters inequality must be reevaluated and, most likely, terminated.

So what's the big deal? Why do I get blacklisted for asking simple questions to people who put themselves in public situations in the desire that they will be examined and questioned? It's pretty awful.

Oh, and I guarantee Andrew says something about how I'm beating up on stupid people.

Thanks Andrew. :)





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