Archive for May, 2004

My Mother's Fear Come True…
31 May, 2004

Faeries are sweet loving beings who love to help
people. They are not held back by reality and
love to dream and fly around. You probably are
very creative and although not the most popular
person in the world you are probably loved by
many for your sweet caring personality.

What Mythological Creature Are You (Many Results and Beautiful Pics)
brought to you by Quizilla


I Smell Iocaine Powder
31 May, 2004

posted about that great movie, The Princess Bride. I originally went to see the movie with my girlfriends in college on Cheap Movie Night. (I forget the event's real title but you get the picture.) I brought my capital-G girlfriend, one of their friends that I happened to be dating for some time. Let's call her Heather. (Sadly, that was the only similarity between her and Winona Horowitz.)

As you may recall, Westley said "As you wish" when he meant "I love you". After the movie, as I took Heather home, I played both the Clever and Romantic cards and dropped an "As you wish".

Heather looks at me and says, "Huh?"

Needless to say, that night and our erstwhile relationship were brought to rather abrupt ends.

There Can Be No "In" Without An "Out"
29 May, 2004

Take the What High School
Stereotype Are You?

However, tonight I am feeling very loved. So take that, cruel world.

Not a Bonnie Tyler Fan, Eh?
28 May, 2004

In this article, David Brin appears to criticize Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I've read his other article about Star Wars although I forget whether it was in Salon. While both articles have factual observations, the conculsions don't ring at all true for me.

Yes, it is rather unlikely that a single man, Jedi or Hobbit, would be able to single-handedly tip the scales and it is more likely that many regular folks would work together to triumph over evil. (And one could argue that in both cases there are ample examples of teamwork.) Yet unlikely is not the same as impossible. In the vein of Mr. Brin's Nazi analogy, in WWII Alan Turing led the effort to crack the Axis codes. Did he do it by himself? Of course not, but there's little doubt that, without him, the effort would have be qualitatively inferior.

Americans especially bristle at the notion that there is a royal line that is somehow better than the commoners. (And we pretty demonstratively disposed of such a monarchy.) But I think there's no doubt that each man or woman is born with their own special talents. Sometimes these special talents go unnoticed, like the man with freakish pinky finger strength or the woman with tracking smell like a bloodhound. But sometimes these special talents are so noticeable that they appear to be superhuman. They're not necessarily the young mother lifting the car off her toddler. But more often it's something like the sailor who stands for three hours in freezing sea water, spraying a fire hose on a generator to keep it from overheating and crippling his ship. That is heroic, that is superhuman, and that is the potential inside each and every one of us.

Heroes and champions are rare, sure. But so are the situations that create them from everymen. Far more important is the fact that both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings are stories. They're entertainment. And, yes, they're entertainment that has been wildly successful, both financially and popularly. But that doesn't reduce the fact that they're just entertainment requiring no more suspension of disbelief than a post-apocalyptic mailman.

Rather than focusing on which stories are more popular (Harry Potter certainly merits mention) than others, perhaps we ought to rejoice in anything that inspires us to be better people, to do some good, to make the world a better place.

Having said all that, I doubt Mr. Brin will be willing to provide a blurb for the dust jacket of my novel.

Grateful to be an American
27 May, 2004

A (hopefully not former) friend commented on her web site about an upcoming trip: "Humiliation because I have to travel with an American passport." This prompted some spirited discussion. After reading one particular block of repartee, I felt I had to respond. Here's the text of my response:

At the risk of stepping into the middle of a street fight, I think Winston Churchill said it best: “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.”

The United States government is not perfect. But it's a better system than most, especially because every few years we get a chance to change it without bloodshed.

But governments consist of people and people aren't always good or altruistic. Sometimes they make honest mistakes; other times they're greedy and screw others over. Our system of government doesn't promise that those things will never happen. It does, however, try to limit the frequency and magnitude of those injustices. Historically speaking, it's done a better job than any other form of government.

I'm not happy with the way things have turned out in Iraq. (I bet the Bush administration isn't entirely happy with it either.) One innocent person killed is too many in my book. But governments, even the United States government that was founded to protect the little guy, operate on statistics. Governments try to do the most good for the most people, even if individuals don't come out ahead. That's the nature of the beast and why people consider government to be a necessary evil.

Did the rich guy who was in charge make the right decision by sending troops to Iraq? I don't know. I have neither the information, skill, nor desire to make that assessment. Will the next rich guy to make that decision do any better? I don't know that either.

From what I've learned of history, all governments are short-sighted and self-interested. Despite my problems with both major parties, there still has never been a better government for the people.

So I choose to stay here, vote, and whine, bitch, and complain when the politicians don't do what's right. Because it's my inalienable right.

As my faithful readers know, I have covered the topic of the dangers of partisanship before. (Please refer to your notes.) I just get frustrated with a black-and-white, rigid view of life. Life is more complex than “if ya ain't wi' us, yer agin us.” That is part of the appeal, the joie de vivre. So those who take extreme, rigid positions frustrate me. I try not to get frustrated, but I do.

I wouldn't describe myself as patriotic. I'm far too cynical to be patriotic. But I'm also pragmatic enough to realize that our spirited discussions about the relative merits (or lack thereof) of the current administration could have constituted a capital crime in places like Saddam's Iraq.

Chilling, eh?

That's why I'm grateful to be an American.

Non-Profit for Whom?
26 May, 2004

A friend of mine needs a costly procedure that is not covered by insurance. So, the Shriners have an organization to raise money for children that need assistance. Jerry Lewis has his annual telethon. What constitutes a non-profit organization? Obviously, someone will profit from the fund-raising. At what point does it travel from the Land of People Trying to Help a Friend to the Republic of Tax Breaks? Because I think, if we make it tax-deductible, we can get a whole lot more donations.

I hadn't even thought of the fund raising idea. I just planned to bring dinner or something. Maybe a cake. Costco sells a nice half-sheet. But I like the idea of selling cookie dough or something.

We could ship vans of young children to random neighborhoods and send them door-to-door…

Oops. Wrong business plan. That one is for out-of-work software developers.

No Comment
25 May, 2004

I wish I had something witty to say. But I don't. I'm too !@#$%^&* grouchy.

(It's not that I'm opposed to profanity; I'm quite the fan. I just didn't want to get fined by the puritanical FCC.)

24 May, 2004

This new show, Colonial House is a real eye-opener. Not only does it offer the standard reality show fare of highlighting the conflicts inherent in any group of people forced to live in close quarters and difficult circumstances for any length of time, making us thankful that we get to choose our associates and toils. Not only does it show us something about the physical hardships endured as little as two hundred years ago, helping us remember our blessings as we deal with our struggles. But it highlights the stultifying, smothering asphyxiation of state religion, showing us how wonderful the religious freedom we enjoy today is.

One of my college history professors (who looked remarkably like John McLaughlin) opined that religious tolerance is when you allow me to practice my religion and religious freedom is when we allow someone else to practice theirs.

Humanity continues to struggle with conflicts of religion and these continue to present serious concerns to us all. But it's easy to forget with the daily news stories about violence between religious groups that we are still experiencing a remarkable amount of religious freedom.

If any nation had held the overwhelming military advantage three hundred years ago that the United States holds today, would it have refrained from arbitrarily imposing its religion on its foes?

I think not.

Adieu, Joan?
22 May, 2004

Last night's Joan of Arcadia was easily the worst episode of the show ever. It's sad to think that such a promising new show has already jumped the shark. Sigh.

And Me without my Pretty Dress
21 May, 2004

Yesterday I swung by Chevron to put some petrol in the big red bus. After saking its substantial thirst, the attendant hands me my receipt and says, "Thank you, ma'am."

I think to myself, "I think that dude just called me ma'am! Nah, he must've said man." (beat) "That's gotta hurt," he says. "Nope," I respond, "not at all."

And, you know, I was telling the complete truth. It didn't bother me in the slightest. I'm driving home thinking how odd it is that he called me a "ma'am" (not even a "chick" or "hottie") and I don't mind. I think it was just so silly that I couldn't see any reason to take umbrage.

It had to be a slip of the tongue. One, I don't look anything at all like a "ma'am"; I've more got the "sir" thing going on. Beta, I hadn't done anything to this guy to prompt the kindergarten level insult of Purposefully Switched Gender. III, I was a customer.

Now, I'm not saying that I've never been addressed with the wrong gender before. I went to kindergarten and, when you've got a nice back-porch, mistakes are bound to happen in dark places. No, what made this so surreal was the complete lack of impact it had on me. It's kind of odd.

Could I actually be losing my prodigious ego?