Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gays May Serve in the Military

At last. What I dreamed about at the age of twenty-two has become law in the United States: gay men and women may serve in our armed forces. I remember writing an impassioned letter to a local newspaper columnist in support of gays in the military. That letter was never published--although the columnist came out in favor of gays in the military ten years later. Whether I sowed a seed or whether another persuaded him, I have no clue.

Sexuality is not a relevant criterion for military service. Nothing more needs to be said in defense of a self-evident assertion.

HRC sent me an email that noted, in part, "Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins have been our steadfast champions in this fight. Here's what Senator Lieberman said today that shows how your energy, your drive, your commitment and your focus have been behind every single step: 'This historic day has been seventeen years in the making and would not have happened without the leadership of Joe Solmonese and the Human Rights Campaign.'"

As far as I'm concerned, HRC is vindicated by this victory. I am glad that I have supported that organization.

Joe Lieberman, also, is somewhat redeemed by this in my eyes. He certainly has a new luster. I agree with Megan McCain that he would have been a far better choice for a running mate for John McCain than Sarah Palin. I probably would not have voted for them, but I would have studied the pair much more closely than I did McCain/Palin. Palin has but to speak for a minute in order to annihilate all interest.

The benefits of this prudent change in policy will be everyone in the United States, the allies of the United States, and everyone that will live in the United States or its allies in the future.

Perhaps gays may benefit, as well, although that is not at all clear to me. The military is about self-sacrifice. It is no picnic.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, December 12, 2010

An American Heroine

I read the obituary of a great American heroine, Adele Starr.

Not many people can look back on their lives with certainty that they made a difference. Adele certainly could have done so. She helped to make the world a better place.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Telemarketers

Telemarketers are lonely. Why else would they call, day after day, to leave a harsh automated message on one's answering machine? Out of compassion, I have decided to alleviate their loneliness by offering up their email addresses for anyone who is interested in being a pen-pal. Perhaps automated bots on the Internet can communicate with those who run automated bots on the telephone.

~*~ The Lonely Hearts List ~*~

Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email
Email

Remember: True Love Waits

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Savagery of the Enemy

It is not the statements or reactions of the U.S. government that makes one despise Wikileaks for aiding and abetting a traitor. Rather, it is the savagery of the Enemy -- Islamist terrorists -- who today disrupted the peace in beautiful and free Stockholm, Sweden.

Those of foreign origin who fail to appreciate the advantages of Western freedoms should be deported to their native lands in order to experience the contrast.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Good News for a Change

The media harps on bad news so much that it is refreshing to catch a thread of positive change on rare occasions.

I have become an admirer of our ambassador to the U.N., Susan E. Rice. The U.S. has introduced a U.N. resolution supporting LGBT rights. It is opposed chiefly by the savages from Africa and the Middle East, who wish to continue butchering their own citizens.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Soured on Wikileaks

The more I think about Wikileaks, the less I like it. I'm uncomfortable with the readiness that the founder has to reveal the private diplomatic communication of the United States. One can argue over whether the United States should be involved in certain areas of the world. But regardless of the disclosure, the United States will remain involved in those areas, for better or worse. The disclosure will have none of the results that Julian predicts.

Freedom of speech is a fragile liberty, new in human history. The powers-that-be will use Wikileaks as a pretext to stifle free speech elsewhere on the Internet, now and in the future. They are refining their censorship strategies and capabilities. The world will be a less free place as a result. I believe it is Julian who was short-sighted. He should have refused to publish the documents uploaded by the traitor at least for ten years, by which time their information would have grown stale, and current politicians replaced by new ones. The documents were mostly irrelevant, but moreover, his intellect was incapable of determining their relevance. Julian is a stupid man who thinks himself intelligent. Such men are among the most dangerous.

He has not been arrested yet because the powers are cunning and do not wish to make a martyr. They are playing for the hearts and minds, same as Julian. In the end, they will win. They are good at what they do. Julian is not. "Grab the headlines at any cost" strikes me as a poor strategy.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Africa, the Caribbean, and Homosexuality

I remember walking out of "Malcolm X," the movie, because it demonized all white people. Some of the blacks in the audience hissed at my mother and me as we left. I had gone to see the movie because I was curious about the man, wanted to learn about him, and the movie had received many positive reviews. I came away realizing that Malcolm X was a black racist, not like Martin Luther King, Jr. at all.

Homosexuality is not a racial issue, although some black ministers pretend that it is. They claim that most gays are white. It may be that most visible, well-to-do, celebrity gays are white. But homosexuality does not favor one race or the other.

I was amused recently at the story of a prominent black minister in Atlanta who is facing lawsuits from four young men relating to his alleged courtship and sexual relationships with them. He had been an outspoken foe of gay marriage and had denounced homosexuality from the pulpit. Isn't that interesting?

In reality, blacks can be just as wicked as whites ever were, when it comes to gays among their own race. A recent incident in Jamaica is just the tip of the iceberg worldwide. The Caribbean is no picnic, but Africa seems like a brutal environment for black gays. The only really enlightened country in Africa at this time is South Africa.

I think that, if roles had been reversed, and blacks had wielded the power long ago in the U.S., they would not have conducted themselves any better than the whites did. The current situation in the Caribbean and in Africa do not suggest any reasons to think otherwise.

The idea that "we're all equal" goes both ways. We're all equally good. We can also be equally bad.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Welfare for the Rich

If a rich man screws up due to incompetence, the government gives millions of dollars to him, and says, "I don't care what you do with it. Go on vacation for all I care. If you want more, just ask!"

If a poor man works hard, but falls on hard times due to the incompetence of the rich business owners, the government does not care. The poor man can lose his car, his house, his whole life.

This is because so many people vote Republican or for conservative Democrats that are Republican in all but name.

People vote Republican for a variety of reasons. Some rich folk are just plain greedy and want their taxes as close to zero as possible. Some hate the gays and want to keep them down. Some hate the brown races. Some think abortion is murder. An assortment of nuts go into the Republican cake. The result is that the government favors the rich business criminals who really own the GOP nine times out of ten. The American worker gets the short end of the stick.

*I can do middle-aged rage quite well, can't I?
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Childish Behavior over Wikileaks

Some of our leaders are acting childish over the Wikileaks situation, with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton, who at least keeps a sense of humor about it.

I think Wikileaks should focus on corporations, rather than the U.S. government. I don't really see any benefits arising from random disclosure of private diplomatic mail, much of it trivial. All it did was stir up the hornet's nest that is the Republican Party. They have a short fuse. Already they're calling for hanging. It's not surprising. I could have predicted the Republican response. They don't spend much time thinking about things before they reach for their guns.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Don't Believe the Songs

The media, in this case the music and video industry, push a palatable product, romantic love. Insipid formula plots typically imagine two strangers having sex, falling in love afterward, and living together forever afterward in perfect bliss. That is simply not the case nine times out of ten.

When I think back to my so-called lovers in the distant past, I think the sex in those days was meaningless, dangerous, in no way superior to masturbation, and depressing, because the individuals were in it for a cheap thrill akin to sniffing nitrous oxide. They moved on in short order, which made me feel like a party condiment.

Reflections such as the above are probably why so many prunes preach abstinence. I don't preach abstinence, but modified, compassionate abstinence. Abstain from sex with casual acquaintances, passing fancies, brief infatuations and the like. I was always hopping into bed with the objects of one-sided infatuations, who took what was offered and then moved on to conquer other lovers with their sole virtue, their face.

However, I hold that there is a slim possibility for a magical requited love. If there is a dear and intimate friend that one has known for a long period of time, let us say six months in this age of AIDS, and the trust in this person is strong, then all right, research safer sex together and learn all of the proper techniques and precautions, prepare with due diligence for the sacred rite, and then taste of the fruit of the gods and see whether it is all that. Knowledge of the risks involved spared me from a lifetime coping with the HIV virus.

I cannot understand young men that have a cavalier attitude towards the viruses and bacteria that seek to use, harm, and kill us. Microbes are the enemies of the human race. They will attempt to exploit the sex act to their own ends. One must not let them win. We are smarter than they are, but they are invisible to our sight. If one is unaware, or assumes that microbes are not a serious concern, then the parasites stand better odds of winning another host. Read, read, and read some more, and learn all about the enemy, and in that way our best weapon, intelligence, can be harnessed against our greatest enemy, microbes.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, December 3, 2010

How to Manage Friends

There are people that I like to see every day. There are some people I'd like to be around all of the time. These are pleasant, reasonable, happy, calm people that like to be around me as well.

Then there are friends that one should only contact in moderation. Every day may be too much. They grow cranky and cantankerous for reasons that may not be at all apparent. Feeling bad, due to physical or psychological ailments, they lash out at others. If you happen to be around, you will get the sharp end of the stick. The trick is not to be around often. Familiarity breeds contempt. Let a day pass. A week. A month. The novelty of your next appearance may startle them from whatever mood they are in, and they may yet prove pleasant company once again. The trick is to cultivate distance, making oneself scarce.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

WikiLeaks, Rape, & So On

A certain government appears to be engaged in dirty tricks judging by the so-called rape charges against the founder of Wikileaks. People in power are incapable of curbing their indiscretions, because power is an addiction. They offer a road map into their souls that is a thousandfold more informative than anything available on Wikileaks.

I hope all of the facts of the so-called rape case are revealed in full, including any potential third parties involved in the accusations.

I am not impressed with the "rape" allegations, which have finally been made clear in the mainstream media, that the Wikileaks founder engaged in consensual sex with adult women using a condom initially, but did not stop immediately after the condom broke. First of all, condoms do not often break. If someone is using defective condoms, they should throw them away and purchase a different brand. It is important to avoid the use of oil-based lubrication. Water-soluble lubricants are better for the latex of the condom. Any person who engages in promiscuous sex should be aware of these facts. Second, the behavior of not-stopping would be difficult to prove in a court of law. No physical harm is alleged. Even if the allegation were true, it seems impolite, but not predatory or criminal in nature, and certainly not worth the attention of Interpol. The whole affair smacks of entrapment and mercenary motives.

It is a common and obvious trick to humiliate a political opponent with a false sexual allegation. This was done in Malaysia not long ago. A politician was accused of sodomy, which is to say consensual homosexual sex, in order to silence him. Sodomy remains illegal in Malaysia, punishable by caning or prison. The charges were bogus, but it seemed to be an effective tactic.

A few U.S. Presidents have had to find themselves a wife in order to survive in politics, because to be gay was thought incompatible with power. My best guess is that three of our Presidents were gay, although that may be a conservative estimate. I would not be surprised if a dozen were gay or bisexual. But it is difficult to know, since many are dead. A few relevant documents survive, however, justifying speculation.

I am amused by the claim made by some of our generals that gays should not be allowed into the military or, once there, tolerated. I would like to place them in the Persian army--as generals, to be fair, with no reduction in rank or privileges--serving under Darius, on the eve of a battle against Alexander. By day's end, they would arrive at a different conclusion.

For a long time, I have wondered why my species has so much difficulty grappling with issues related to sex and sexuality. I thought religion was to blame, but I did not know why religion should be at odds with sex or sexuality. Sex leads to more human lives, and if human life is sacred, the creation of God, why then should sex be embarrassing or taboo, in any of its forms?

Now that I have studied microbes, I know why. Lovemaking has been associated with disease for thousands of years, and even before our species evolved--millions of years, I suppose. There is more than HIV out there. Bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoa, and even larger parasites exploit our lovemaking in order to infect us and use us as hosts. This is why men began to think that God frowned on certain sex acts, or even all sex acts. Whores were, apparently, punished by God with syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis, warts, herpes, and a thousand other curses. Disease was poorly understood. Not until the 1800s did men realize that microbes existed! Even today, some cling to the belief that AIDS is a curse sent by God.

Perhaps science will deliver us from our many problems with sex by one of two methods. In the first method, sex may become unnecessary. A new version of our species, designed by humans, may lack genitalia. Reproduction can be accomplished in the laboratory under controlled conditions. Even by enthusiasts, sex can be regarded as a non-productive waste of time and energy, besides the many other negative views that puritanical people take of it.

An alternative method may be the enhancement of our immune systems, so that we can defeat all the microbes that seek to use us for their own ends. We could conquer disease. I'm afraid that people prefer to focus upon conquering other people at the moment. Disease is regarded as a very low priority by our leaders. The trouble with microbes is they are invisible to the naked eye. We are wired to grapple with visible enemies, even when those enemies represent a tiny fraction of the threat posed by microbes.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Water for Elephants

I began reading a popular bestseller--that is, I think it's a bestseller. Inside the cover are two pages with nothing but accolades from the leading newspapers and authors of our time, including Stephen King, one of my personal favorites, for better or worse.

I was impressed by the intricate care that went into the storytelling. No one could dispute that the author labored over every word, scene, and setting. It is poetry, and I immersed myself and read more than I usually do and plan to read the rest today.

The only thing I found jarring was that the style was in contradiction to many of the "Writing Commandments" that I learned long ago, such as avoiding the use of cliches and avoiding sentence fragments. I suppose that is one reason Stephen King liked the work, because he violates the same rules with impunity. I suppose they are not rules anymore, not really. I think there is something cheap about using cliches on every page, though, and I don't think it's snobbery to think so.

However, the author obeyed the Commandment that I violate, which is to show, not tell, which requires more effort on the part of the writer, but is more effective at engaging the reader's imagination.

The author's style reminds me so much of Stephen King's that I sometimes feel like I am reading Stephen King. The American vernacular, as he likes to describe it.

I forget the title of the book. Water for Elephants, I think. It was given to me as a birthday or Christmas present a year ago, and I have finally gotten around to reading it.

If I had known that cliches were OK, then heavens to Betsy, I'd have been using them left and right, all the time. As it is, a few pass by my guard, but I throttle most of them before they get on the page.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Thursday, December 2, 2010

We Can Make It Even Better

To those who praise their country and think that we live a charmed life, I'd say, right on.

We're much better off now than we were hundreds of years ago, or even decades ago.

America is a better place to live than Russia, China, or Iran, by about a million to one.

But we can make the country even better by avoiding complacency.

Where there are societal injustices, they should be corrected.

Where there is corruption, we should introduce reforms.

Where there is a law that harms, rather than benefits society, we should change the law or remove it altogether.

Constant improvement or evolution is the name of the game and one of the chief advantages to our system of government.

This is the precise point where liberals differ from conservatives.

Conservatives pretend that everything's OK just the way it is. Maybe, for them. One of the problems is that they simply don't care about people other than themselves, or else they don't care enough. Sometimes things are not OK even for them and for their own kind, and they refuse to acknowledge that anything is wrong, simply because they have gotten used to the way things are, and don't want any change.

Change is good. Sometimes it is wise to change even if there are unforeseen consequences. One can always revert back to a previous way of doing things. The reluctance to change results in stagnation. Any programmer knows that software that is not constantly improved is eventually abandoned. It becomes obsolete, outmoded. Competitors arise that have better features. So it is with nations and cultures. Just because a certain plan has worked, to a certain limited extent, does not mean it cannot stand some improvement.

Conservatives are just stodgy. They lack a spirit of adventure. They are unwilling to try new things. They are frightened to death by anything that is new. Novelties are interpreted as threats. They exaggerate dangers and discount possible rewards.

I think an accurate method to predict a person's political sympathies is to ask them what foods they like. The liberals will eat anything or at least try anything. The conservatives have a long list of foods they won't eat under any circumstances. Conservatives are squeamish and react with disgust to many foods that are perfectly nutritious, safe, and yummy. Liberals learn to eat new foods outside of their usual diet. Liberals are willing to experiment. The sense of adventure has not been completely washed out of a liberal.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Conformity

There has always been one certainty that I felt I could depend upon, as sure as death and taxes, and that is that people will apply a magnifying glass to whatever it is that they feel represents a defect. If one is homosexual, then that fact is magnified and obsessed over to the exclusion of all other facts. I have encountered people at work and elsewhere that assumed that I had AIDS or led a promiscuous lifestyle or did any number of things. It is always the elephant in the room. If one supports the legalization of marijuana, or objects to random drug testing, then that is interpreted to mean that one is a druggie or at least a pothead. People leap to astonishing conclusions without bothering to reevaluate their preconceptions. I have become leery about getting to know strangers. In my experience, people extract one fact or the other, then go behind one's back and gossip in order to make themselves look better by comparison to the "bad" nonconformist. This is at least the case in environments where the majority are conservative Republicans. Even the so-called Independents or "moderates" will show a double-face in order to curry favor with the bosses. One can forget about ideals, confidences, or promises of any kind.

Beware of the back-stab. I began as an open and trusting individual, a typical "naive liberal," I suppose. My back suffered a number of wounds before I learned not to trust others with personal information of any kind whatsoever. I learned to be reflective like a mirror. In response to questions, I learned to say, "I don't know," or "Not much I guess," or "Maybe." Then I would follow up with, "How about you?" I had learned early on, and capitalized upon the fact that all people love talking about themselves most of all. They are not interested in me or in anyone else near so much as themselves. In this way I avoided divulging much of any information about myself. Perhaps it was a mistake in some cases. Perhaps I misjudged others from time to time, but "burnt once, twice shy," as the saying goes.

It is the rare individual who has even the slightest shred of a scruple. If someone discovers a bit of information they find amusing or interesting, one can count on the fact that, whatever their promises to the contrary, they will share it with everyone that they possibly can, until it becomes the most often repeated story in the office.

In my last job in the corporate world, I was hard-working and the tasks I worked upon were difficult. How difficult, I do not think most people would believe. There were men who felt envious and worried about how I made them appear, so they would bring up my sexuality in conversation with others, because they perceived that was my weak point, my key vulnerability where I differed from others, yet they were the same as others. They would harp upon this point again and again without fail, as though it were their favorite tune in the entire world. This was a recurring theme throughout my career. My work was good, but I was gay, and would not lie about it, and so that held me back. All that matters is whatever is popular and in fashion. If gay is not considered okay in the workplace, then it becomes a personal liability.

I remember the lazy do-nothings and know-nothings, and they sometimes made as much, or more money than I did, yet all they ever did was stand around talking with others with their pot-bellies hanging out, carrying a mug of coffee in one hand and groping themselves with the other. I wonder how many of these the company chose to hire instead of people like me, and whether that really benefited the company over the years. It does not seem to me like organizations care very much who does the work or who doesn't. All that seems to matter is who cozies up to whom and who seems to fit the mold. Perhaps this is why many companies produce little except mountains of paperwork and complicated schemes designed to fleece their customers, or take advantage of their workers or even their own investors.

I felt under such enormous pressure to be like the others in order to fit in and be accepted by everyone that I began dating women at one point. I have written about that experience before on this blog. I am not sure whether I kept the entry or deleted it. I don't care about the stories. I wish I could delete the actual experiences, which were painful, pointless and sometimes humiliating. I never lied to anyone and never pretended to be anything that I was not. That strategy, of course, doomed any potential chances, but I still believe that honesty is the only way to proceed in matters of the heart. Dishonesty may succeed better in the short-term, but it creates circumstances that can result in harm later on.

Gays are not immune to cant. I got into an online flame war once with a gay man that liked everything else about me, or so he said--he may have been lying--but objected to my mention of marijuana. I suppose his motive in scolding me was that he felt I was making the gay community look bad. He said the mere admission of usage meant that a person was worthless, and if that person were gay, then he could justifiably be called a "faggot."

Some people do reveal their true character when engaged in dispute with others. If my opponent chooses to hoist the Nazi flag, then far be it from me to dissuade him from doing so. I will let others draw their own conclusions. I find it an amusing insult, considering the source, and do not feel belittled by the word. There was a time, in high school, when the word "faggot" wielded malevolent power over my emotions, but my old wounds have long since scabbed over, and I developed a certain degree of immunity to the toxin. It remains an unpleasant word, much like the n-word would be to a black person, but it will certainly not keep me up at nights worrying about it. Usage of the insult reveals more about the user and his prejudices than the target.

Most people are not interested in debate or in considering rational arguments of any sort. They are only interested in the acquisition of personal power, popularity, and prestige. If there is an opinion they think will make them appear macho, intelligent, cool, hip, or "right with God," they will seize that opinion, and use it to place themselves above others in the pecking order. Self-image is what people are concerned about, rather than deciding what is real or what is false.

The idea of sobriety is naturally appealing, and the idea of being a drug addict is not, and so many people choose to believe in the Prohibition, not just of hard drugs but also of Marijuana, because they do not wish to be associated with "druggies" or "hippies". The question of whether Prohibition is correct and proper never occurs to them or seems irrelevant, and they are not willing to even consider any arguments. They are concerned with their own self-image as a decent, upright citizen. They wish to think of themselves a certain way, as being on the side of "Law n' Order," whether or not "Law n' Order" is right or wrong.

I am reminded of how slavery was accepted and defended throughout the South prior to the Civil War. Everyone wished to be associated with the good, genteel, well-to-do plantation owners. No one wished to be associated with the penniless, uneducated African immigrants. Arguments against slavery were rejected in the South with great ferocity, and those Southerners who opposed slavery in public were ostracized from their communities. Such is the way of H. Sapiens, a species much concerned with self-image, prestige and conformity. Lies do prosper for a very long time, even when questioned, and even when extensive, devastating and well-researched arguments are advanced against them. People simply refuse to consider reason. They cling to a certain way of thinking or rather, unthinking.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

More Revealing than WikiLeaks Ever Was

Wikileaks presents one with a difficult issue to grapple with, in part because its actions concern the principle of freedom of the press, which has a long and checkered history. Traditionally, newspapers have been at liberty to disclose certain things that might be regarded as secrets by our government. This has been permitted for the sake of the public interest, on the theory that the public has a right to know what its servants are doing. I think that, had the U.S. not been at war, the political reaction against Wikileaks would have been much less than it is.

There is merit in Joe Lieberman's argument that the documents published by Wikileaks were illegally seized. The mainstream media does not seem to make a point out of it, choosing instead to focus upon the content and the repercussions. In effect, Wikileaks was performing a wiretap without a warrant or even any authority at all. Had a government agency acted in such a way, it would seem like Big Brother. Do not U.S. diplomats have a right to privacy? Are diplomats supposed to operate in dread that their remarks made in confidence will be one day published?

However, all the documents revealed by Wikileaks are as nothing, next to the revealing statements made by some immoderate politicians and pundits calling for the assassination of the founder of Wikileaks. Such remarks have been made before in regard to other nonviolent civilians and often followed by the spilling of blood.

"Win at any costs" is improper, I think. Otherwise, how are we to be distinguished from the enemy? If we are good, then we should act so. Words alone are not enough. I believe the Obama Administration has handled the situation well, at least in terms of not making any violent and illegal threats. Sarah Palin, for her part, has criticized the Adminstration for its supposed incompetence and called upon the full capabilities of Nato to be unleashed against Wikileaks. One Republican lawmaker wants to classify the founder in the same category as Al Qaeda, opening up the possibility of assassination with potential collateral damage. These sentiments are all familiar and have been observed many times before.

The long-term results of the Wikileaks disclosure remain unclear to me. It may be that the disclosures serve, rather than harm, the interests of those who complain the loudest about it. That seems to be the suspicion of the Russians. The Iranians believe it is an orchestrated attempt by the United States to dupe them. I don't know what to believe. The Wikileaks will be valuable to scholars, however. They will be the primary beneficiary. Only when the reports can be digested, summarized and interpreted will the public really benefit from them. It seems like too much raw data for a layman. I have not been motivated to read them, so far, in part because I find the information depressing, as it tends to reinforce what I already understand.

I do have grave doubts about the ethics of stealing private documents from the government, particularly in cases where no crime was being committed, although it could be argued that turnabout is fair play, as the government performs warrantless wiretaps nowadays and engages in what used to be thought illegal surveillance and espionage against its own citizens. Nowadays the government even has the right to poke about in people's underwear for no reason other than they seek to board a plane.

I do trust Hillary Clinton's judgment, in general, in matters of foreign policy, and if she believes that the disclosure is harmful, then I am inclined to think that they might be so. I did not vote for her in the Democratic primary of 2008, but remain an admirer. In retrospect, perhaps I should have voted for her after all. Obama has been a disappointment on gay issues. I think that Hillary Clinton has been unfairly savaged by right-wingers for what seem to be irrational reasons or just because she is an outspoken woman. She is far more polite and diplomatic than Ann Coulter on the right.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Immersion

One of my problems, or virtues, depending upon how one looks at it, is my tendency to become completely immersed in intellectual work, whether it be writing, programming, or web design. Tunnel-vision results. I examine things so closely and intently that not much escapes me in the end. I see all, or close to all at least, although there are certain limitations relating to my skills and preferences.

I would say I'm a hard worker, because I'd rather work on what I consider to be meaningful projects than play games, read books, or watch television. I prefer active over passive entertainment much of the time. If I am not writing or coding, then I feel as though I am wasting time.

And I hate wasting time. What I fear most of all is not death. I fear the void: the emptiness, guilt and dread that comes from accomplishing nothing at all. The thought that I have wasted this existence. To exit this world without leaving any trace at all is my fear. If there is something in me, however trivial, that I think can be applied for the cause of good, then I want to apply it to its maximum potential.

I feel an urge to be productive, to excel, to do well, to make a good impression on others. Sometimes, I succeed in doing so. Occasionally I do fail. Sometimes results are mixed, and I am uncertain as to my evaluation. But I always try. And I keep at my work in isolation, even unpaid, without any encouragement, or with the thinnest token of appreciation. Maybe that means I'm a fool, a worker bee, a hack, a grind, and an overachiever, as others have called me. Who can be other than what they are? And what is the alternative? To do nothing? To idle away the hours in front of a video game or television set? What sort of existence is that? I prefer to create things, even if the creations are humble. I could not procreate, so I create in other ways to justify this existence. Otherwise, where is the meaning in life? To eat and sleep only? That is not meaningful.

I find myself falling into the same old traps, though. Sometimes I become too focused upon projects that no one else seems to care about. I am made to feel like Don Quixote by those who attach little or no importance to the projects. There are web sites I have worked on night and day. Sometimes I wonder if the effort is misspent or if it matters at all to anyone else besides myself. Perhaps it doesn't. I could be mistaken, a victim of tunnel-vision, failing to see the big picture because I am focused upon a thousand small details.

All may be vanity, but if so, there are many souls in the world engaged in similar occupations. I am not the only victim of make-work. Is it realistic to expect any appreciation or recognition at all in any of one's endeavors? How often does that happen? The billions of people in the world are all creating something, all working toward some end, and most labor without any feedback, or even in the face of blistering criticism, because it is their destiny. Because there is no "because." Life happens because it must. The universe happens because it must. How are human activities different from the interactions between oxygen and hydrogen? I think that everything is predictable, if one knows enough.

We are all slaves to one thing or another. Every one of us. I do not know anyone who is not a slave to something. Even those who number among my enemies, they too are slaves. It is because of the mortal existence. Life desires. What life desires varies, but it craves food and water, and at a higher level, power and prestige. Only the dead know perfect freedom, because they desire nothing. Life trades the freedom of nonexistence for slavery to the desires, which permit survival and thriving. We the living become slaves because we must in order to survive and thrive.

I sometimes find it difficult to disengage myself from a project, because work becomes a passion for me, an addiction. The government should ban work. There should be a Work Enforcement Agency to stamp out everything that leads to work, because it is more addictive than any drug. I suppose the government is doing its best in that regard. The unemployment rate is, after all, much higher now than when I graduated college.

I would like to have been a part of a team, at some point in my life, of people with a similar ideological and philosophical cast, who were trustworthy, honest and forthright. Instead, I found myself in various teams where cutthroat was the name of the game. No one trusted anyone else. I was amused by the paranoia I observed in others, until I felt it residing in myself. It is difficult to resist a prevailing meme for a long period of time. Complacency was rewarded, curiosity and innovation stifled. We engaged upon tasks that benefited no one save the shareholders, and only in the short-term, even in that narrow perspective. This is a common fate.

I think only in the distant future, if that, will it be possible for human beings to come together as teams where cooperation and cohesion is possible, rather than just hypothetical. Whether there will be a distant future for H. Sapiens is another question, and I haven't been optimistic about the answer. Although the Pax Americana has been surprising and encouraging, I don't know how much longer it can endure, with our economy and manufacturing sector in decline. American workers have footed the bill for worldwide security for decades, but such a high rate of expenditure cannot continue indefinitely.

I do resolve to improve in the art of disengagement. For me, all that is required is finding another project, preferably a better one. One must look for greener pastures. I don't kid myself that I can be without a project of any kind. I need something to ply my skills upon. My task involves finding a better project more suitable for me.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Alcohol vs. Marijuana

I think that the reason so many people praise, use, and condone alcohol, while in some cases rejecting, maligning and condemning marijuana, has to do with the appeal of evil. Alcohol unleashes meanness and cruelty. Marijuana promotes passivity, calm, and reflection upon one's self and the world. Some want to do evil. It is their desire. Alcohol assists them in that goal by silencing the voice of conscience and reason. Once that voice is silenced, another voice may be heard.

The powerful voice of Thanatos suggests death and destruction through wars, the poisoning of the environment, and the persecution of minorities, in a world where there will always be minorities of one kind or the other, whether religious, sexual, ideological, or racial. One by one the disciples of Thanatos would have us slain, imprisoned, wounded, diminished, or poisoned. "Divide and conquer" is the means. Alcohol functions as a lubricant, when ideology proves an insufficient force.

Marijuana is recognized by the forces of darkness as the antithesis to alcohol and alcoholism. It is the Amethyst, the antidote, and evil-doers seek to crush it beneath the iron hammer of violence. Violence is what evil-doers know, practice, and preach. Violence is their solution to every flower that would break the surface of the earth, and it leads to an end that they have already foreseen, a silent and dead Earth, a twin of Mars the planet and their god.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

It's About Time

Republicans depend on groups like the Family Research Council to "bring out the vote," because the primary Republican agenda, class warfare, does not.

Finally, the Family Research Council has been designated as a hate group. It's about time FRC was revealed for what it is. That Republicans have used them for so many years for political purposes is disgusting and symptomatic of the lack of ethics in the Republican Party.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vote!

If I'm tired from work and feel like taking a nap, but there's a local election... I vote.

If it's raining and pouring outside, but there's a little runoff election involving a circuit court judge... I vote.

If I'm sick with flu and throwing up, but there's an election... I vote.

I don't give a damn if I'm on my death bed, I will crawl to the polling office on my hands and knees to vote.

Today the volunteers told me I was only one out of twenty-two people that showed up to vote in a runoff election. I replied, "That means my vote is worth more!" And of course it is.

I vote straight-ticket Democrat. The only exception would be if I have a reason not to like a particular Democrat, and that happens sometimes, especially when a Democrat tries extra hard to be like the Republicans. In those cases, I tend to vote Libertarian, and I'm thankful there is a third party candidate so that I can register my protest vote. A Democrat who talks Republican and votes Republican is for all intents and purposes a Republican. Strange creatures. I suppose they can't win the Republican primary, so they run as Democrats for that reason only. There are probably Republicans that have a similar story--I don't know.

I vote for candidates that are recommended to me by gay-rights groups. If there is a gap, an election where no one is recommended, then I research the candidate online to determine his views and style of thinking. I always favor the open-minded, tolerant, friendly, intelligent candidate, who does not brag about his Christianity, which is typically code for "hates gays" in today's political scene. If the candidate seems more intelligent than me, that's an asset. I prefer leaders to be more intelligent than me.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Arabs Want Us to Attack Iran?

Arab nations want us to attack Iran. Interesting and unexpected.

Who's gonna pay for it, hm? Us? Why should we? Seems like we've paid enough as it is. I think the collection plate needs to be passed around before the next war.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Picking Apart the GPL License

Using an author's essay or for that matter a programmer's code when he has asked you not to do so is uncool. Whether one has the legal right to do so is beside the point. The ethics of the matter are clear. The harm would be compounded by squandering his time on technical consultation without paying for that either and compounded beyond belief by engaging in a lengthy legal battle in order to defend the deed.

I find it difficult to comprehend someone paying his lawyer in order to avoid paying a programmer for his work, but that's apparently what happened in the case of JinChess versus IChessU.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

What is the Situation?

Reading the headlines of the day, it does seem like retardation is the lamentable situation around the globe. Folks are fooled by flimsy lies, whether from gossip, the media, religion, pseudoscience, or ideology. Wanting to believe something is a good enough reason to believe something. Wanting to be like so-and-so is a good enough reason to believe the same way so-and-so does. Advertisers and pundits exploit this vulnerability to their advantage.

Retardation is the situation. The question is, will the human race be able to survive long-term? The answer is unclear. I suppose it depends upon who controls the levers that run human society. If they number among the retards, then no, the human race can't possibly survive, due to the potency of our technologies, which are capable of destroying us in countless different ways.

I do hope the elite really are so in every way, not just in their fortunes. I wonder how much wisdom they have and whether they try to use their fortunes in the service of good. Certainly, some elites make a public attempt via philanthropy, trumpeted throughout the media, to make the world a better place.

If disaster looms, let it be in the future, after I am gone. I would not want to see it. If disaster looms, how sweet it was to live during a time of relative peace and prosperity. Ours might be a rare flowering of an endangered species that endangers itself.

Intelligence is common among life forms, but our superb excellence certainly is unique. It remains unclear whether intelligence will prove to be an advantage in the long term. The problem is that tool-making and tool-using is not enough. Sooner or later, one fashions tools or weapons that can destroy the entire species. Intelligence must be joined in lock-step with empathy and wisdom, or else it is a very dangerous thing indeed.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Forbidden Blood

I have no fear of needles, would give blood if paid or in some cases if it were requested of me, and am not squeamish about the process. That said, never in my lifetime will I give blood, because it is forbidden of gays. And I have no problem with that. The only people that should be concerned are those that need my blood and the blood of people like me, which is to say, everyone else.

I could lie in response to the question, "Have you had sex with a member of the same sex since 1979?" I read online comments from one gay to the effect that he lied for the greater good of giving clean blood to those that need it. In such a case, where a man knows that his blood is clean, possibly because he has been tested and found to be HIV negative, or due to his practicing safer sex, or abstaining--as some do--then a lie is not necessarily unethical, but a white lie.

I still have a problem with lying due to pragmatic reasons. Lying in general is bad policy. I don't like having to remember that I have lied and having to censor my speech forever after in the future. If I were to give blood, I'd have to deny ever having done so to everyone else I met in the future, or else I'd be caught out as a liar, and not everyone may buy the "white lie" argument above. It's just a potential can of worms. I'd rather stick to the straight and narrow, or maybe not so straight.

There is a certain irony in the fact that my blood is much cleaner and healthier than that of most straight men. I appreciate that irony. There is a certain degree of irrationality in society. It would be difficult to argue that society is, or ever has been, rational or reasonable. Instead, I think the diagnosis must be for neurosis, with occasional bouts of psychosis. The world's allegiance is to Thanatos. Hence we have worldwide prohibition of a medicinal herb, and the commercialization and popularization of an addictive poison. Those who contribute to world overpopulation are given welfare and recognition, whereas those who remove themselves from the reproductive cycle are ridiculed, marginalized and punished by a variety of legal sanctions.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

North Korea

The shelling of the island of Yeonpyeong by North Korea, resulting in civilian deaths, was an act of incompetence combined with evil. Evil and incompetence often go hand-in-hand. However, just because incompetence guided the deed does not mean the deed should go unpunished. There should be tangible consequences.

North Korea presents a serious and realistic nuclear threat, whereas Afghanistan does not. North Korea is devoid of any shred of ethics or indeed basic comprehension of the outside world. Their nuclear technology will be sold or given to any villain in the world.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Mohamud, the Wannabe Bomber

“Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia and resident of Corvallis, Oregon, was arrested after he attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van that was parked near the tree lighting ceremony in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square,”the FBI said in a statement on its website today.
I know of a talented person from another country who loves the U.S. and would like nothing better than to be a naturalized citizen. It is my partner, who I would be willing to marry. He cannot become a citizen, due to the law against gay marriage, but anti-American wannabe terrorists from the Islamic world can. Is that justice?

Why grant citizenship to people from alien cultures who regard our culture and way of life as anathema?

Our government makes citizens out of our enemies and denies citizenship to our most loyal friends. Is that wisdom?
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, November 26, 2010

Alanis Morissette

Who knew that the music industry would offer up a Bodhisattva?

Do you derive joy when someone else succeeds?
Do you not play dirty when engaged in competition?
Do you have a big intellectual capacity but know
that it alone does not equate to wisdom?
Do you see everything as an illusion
but enjoy it even though you are not of it?
Are you both masculine and feminine, politically aware, and don't believe in capital punishment?

These are 21 things that I want in a lover
Not necessarily needs but qualities that I prefer

Do you derive joy from diving in and seeing that
loving someone can actually feel like freedom?
Are you funny and self-deprecating, like adventure, and have many formed opinions?

These are 21 things that I want in a lover
Not necessarily needs but qualities that I prefer
I figure I can describe it since I have a choice in the matter
These are 21 things I choose to choose in a lover

I'm in no hurry; I could wait forever
I'm in no rush cause I like being solo
There are no worries and certainly no pressure
In the meantime I'll live like there's no tomorrow

Are you uninhibited in bed, more than three times a week, up for being experimental?
Are you athletic?
Are you thriving in a job that helps your brother?
Are you not addicted?

These are 21 things that I want in a lover
Not necessarily needs but qualities that I prefer
I figure I can describe it since I have a choice in the matter
These are 21 things I choose to choose in a lover

--Alanis Morissette, "21 Things I Want in a Lover"
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blessed Reticence

I say that reticence is blessed, because it will save me time and energy. I am not and never have been reticent by nature. I'm bubbly like champagne when in my element. I am cultivating reticence. It is best to be cautious when encountering strangers, either online or in the real world. Proceed with caution.

I contacted people associated with several different web sites recently in hopes there might be opportunities for cross-pollination of ideas. I regretted doing so. It was a waste of my time. It is usually a mistake to attempt to contact anyone on the Internet that one does not already know. The most probable response is tepid to ice-cold, if any response is offered at all. Common courtesy has gone out of style. Trolls, spammers, viruses and con artists have poisoned the online environment. People are unwilling or unable to conceive of a possible scenario where, instead of a mere annoyance, a new voice may represent a potential friend. There is an epidemic of impatience with other human beings.

In many cases, I sent email to a webmaster only to receive no reply at all. This is the most common scenario of all. I don't know whether my email gets lost in a spam folder, the webmaster simply doesn't check his email, or the webmaster's email address has changed, and he neglected to update it on his web site. In one case, I established contact with a webmaster whose site was static, with no updates in two or three years. He gave me terse, one-line responses to my messages. Many of these web sites are on the ropes, financially or otherwise, and their content will be lost forever in the near future. Since the webmasters are incapable of communicating with other webmasters, their fate is sealed, and no one will be able to help them.

On several web sites, I attempted to locate an email address for the webmaster, only to find that the page with the email address was blank. The webmaster had simply deleted his email address without removing the link to the email page. In other cases, an online forum was offered, but the forum software reported an error, and the forum never loaded. In one case, on someone's blog, I attempted to leave a comment, but found that I had to register in order to do so. I registered, and the software told me an email had been sent to me, which proved to be the case. The only problem was that the email was entirely blank, without any link or instructions, and my registration was invalid. It is obvious to me, based upon these experiences, that many webmasters are avoiding the public due to unpleasant experiences with spam, trolls, or other annoyances. Rather than arrive at an elegant solution for the problems, they simply remove themselves entirely from contact with the outside world.

On my blog, at least, it is possible for people to leave comments. At one time, I used to allow anonymous comments as well, but I stopped doing that because of spam and a flurry of insults from an anonymous troll. So, perhaps I am headed in the same direction as the others. The spammers are accomplishing rather dark ends that they themselves probably never considered in their selfish quest for pennies. Such is often the case with capitalists who never for a moment think of anyone but themselves, in the process polluting our world, destroying the economy through incompetence and negligence and creating new wars.

I don't think we have a civil society on the Internet, but rather atomization of selfish individuals who dwell in isolated fortresses, only peering over the ramparts on occasion to throw derision upon the other fortress-dwellers.

Based upon my thoughts above, I've decided to reinstall my email address in the right-hand column, in order to fight against the prevailing trend towards inaccessibility and remoteness.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Tiger's Eye Ring

There are certain stones I prefer over others. One is the Tiger's Eye. A long time ago, a friend asked me to pick out a ring for her, and I chose the one with the Tiger's Eye.


#


In sixth grade, our homeroom teacher was a hip young lady, liberal enough to favor such things as field trips, unlike the old relics who never left their classrooms. She allowed us kids to go exploring by ourselves in the Epcot Center. Ever independent, Alice ventured off by herself. I was with my friends, David and Carol. They helped kill time and boredom. Together we acted like The Three Stooges. I played along with them for an hour, until I realized that I would much rather be alone with Alice than with my friends. However, she was nowhere to be seen. The building had several floors and was not exactly small. I looked within my heart. As sure as following a map, I walked up two flights of stairs, turned left, then right into another room, and found her.

She was alone, as expected and desired. When she saw me, she greeted me neutrally. She discussed the exhibits and the science behind them, which fascinated her. I recall nothing of what she said. She was simply thinking aloud. I liked watching her, being in her presence. Her mind was active and alive, never idle, and her store of knowledge was more than can be imagined for a girl of that age. She was full of contagious energy, eager to learn and discover. If there was anything she could not do, I was unaware of it. I was euphoric, feeding off of her energy.

She said, “Do you think we should go and find the others? The teachers may be wondering where we are. We shouldn’t make them worry.”

I shook my head. No! This was the last thing on earth I wanted to do! Rejoining the others would mean the end of our conversation. She would prefer the company of her friends, other girls. We went searching for the others, but I directed us to places where I felt the others would not be, until she gave up. My legs grew tired with the walking, but hers did not, and so we continued examining the exhibits. Eventually we came upon a gift shop, and Alice found it irresistible.

“Oh, do you want to go in?” she said.

“Not really. I have no money!”

“I do. My father gave me thirty dollars and told me to buy myself something nice.”

“Well, I’ll just wait outside.”

She was gone for about ten minutes. I remember wishing I had money and wondering whether it even mattered. She came out and asked if I would give her advice. I said yes, of course. She wanted to buy herself a ring, but couldn't decide which one to buy. She wanted my opinion. I had no clue about girls’ rings and said as much, but she insisted. I entered the store with her, took a careful look at all the rings, and chose the one with a tiger’s eye. She said she preferred another stone, a green one. I told her it was all right, and she should get the ring that she wants, not the one that I picked. I left the store and waited outside.

She emerged with a new ring on her finger. It was the tiger’s eye. She smiled, admiring her ring, and I smiled, very pleased.

Soon after that, we found the other students and the teachers. As expected, Alice deserted me to talk with her girlfriends. I rejoined my friends with regret. We walked around for an hour or so until it was time to head back to the bus.

All of us were waiting in line to go to our next destination, the airport. The bus was being refueled. Alice was in the middle of the line. My buddies and I were in the back. We were bored, standing around doing nothing, just waiting for the bus to arrive. David asked where I had been, because he had not seen much of me at the museum. I confided that Alice and I had gone off alone together, not realizing the implication. David’s eyes lit up in amusement. “You like Alice, don’t you?” I was startled into silence, and then denied it, too late. A grin spread across David's face. “Hey, Carol, guess what! He’s in love!”

They reacted as boys do at that age to the spectacle of love, giggling and doing their utmost to embarrass me. David began singing a silly rhyme:

Alice and Igor, sittin’ in a tree!
K – I – S – S – I – N – G !
First comes love, then comes marriage!
Then come Carol in a baby carriage!

This was a common schoolyard rhyme. The person in the baby carriage could be anybody at all, but using Carol was funnier than others, because he was a runt. A chorus developed. I did not participate. I was mortified. I told them to shut-up, but my threats were ineffectual, as I wasn’t any bigger than anybody else, except Carol, though Carol was strong and stocky and capable of defending himself against me. They started making comments about her breasts—far too small, in David’s opinion. So why did I like her? You can just imagine how Alice felt. She heard every word that was spoken. Noticing her deep scarlet blush, they laughed all the harder. I hated my so-called friends just then.

How to salvage the situation? I sensed that it was my duty to protect her. I approached her with arms outstretched and my palms raised, as if to say it’s not my fault. In retrospect, this was a stupid gesture, but I was young, and did not know what to do. I said, “Hey, Alice, I didn’t... I hope you don’t think that..."

Suspicion was written all over her face. Her face was livid, her eyes burning into mine like hot coals. She thought me the ringleader.

I said, “I’m sorry that they are acting this way, and...” I stopped. My words were not having any effect. She hated me for standing there, for drawing attention to us, because that was making things rather more embarrassing for her, not less.

Her anger I perceived as dark waves flowing from her body. I was startled by the thought of her as an enemy. She hissed, “Why don’t you just leave me alone! Go away!”

Our teacher seized me by the shoulder and snapped, “Get back in line, right this minute!” I was pushed back to my place in line, where I stood defeated. Alice smiled, saying, “Good!” Then she turned around and never looked at me again.

David said, “Look at him! He’s head over heels in love!” Carol made smooching noises. But seeing that I was in no mood for jest, and with the teacher now exercising new vigilance, the joke died away, though the damage was already done.

I foresaw that she would give the tiger’s eye ring away to one of her friends. She never wanted to see it again. In the days that followed, she was implacable. She avoided me. If I ever spoke to her, she ignored me.

After a few weeks, I conveyed a message seeking reconciliation through a mutual acquaintance, a girl named Shannon who had volunteered her services to me. This proved to be another indiscretion and resulted in a different girl’s feelings being hurt, though that was not my intention. I had failed to detect Shannon’s feelings for me, being focused upon Alice. If I had known that Shannon was interested in me, I certainly wouldn’t have agreed to her being our intermediary.

Alice responded with a written note dictating terms. I was to agree that we would only ever be friends, and I was never to mention the incident on the field trip again. I tried to see if there was any wiggle room, but her position was take it or leave it. I reasoned that friendship was better than nothing. I liked her company and hoped that she might come to appreciate me better in time.

A sad little sideshow then developed in the melodrama between Alice and me. Shannon sent another written message through David to me, but it was not from Alice, it was from her. She confessed that she liked me and gave me her phone number, asking me to please call. I was quite surprised, since I had not suspected this at all. I am sorry to say that I felt completely indifferent to Shannon. She was pleasant and polite, but unfairly treated by other boys owing to her proportions. Upon consideration, I borrowed Alice’s line (“friends only”). Unlike some boys, I have never been one to pretend just for the presumed prestige of having a girlfriend.

When I shared my opinions with David and asked what he thought, he agreed, and cruelly, without my permission, revealed my thoughts to Shannon, casting them in the crudest and most hurtful light. Weeping, she came to me and asked if it were true. I grit my teeth and lied as much as I could bear. I at first denied all that my insensitive friend David had said just to heal the hurt, but she became encouraged and pursued her cause, asking me whether I actually liked her. Alarmed, I felt compelled to concede that some parts of what David said had a small basis in truth. Shannon ended up by blaming David for his cruelty.

If I had been attracted to Shannon, we might have been happy together, because she was a decent person. Human beings are far too fussy about the physical appearance of their mates. I always have been, and the same can be said for Alice. Most people are judged unattractive due to weight, age, or facial bone structure. In truth, Alice’s rejection more likely finds its basis in my physical characteristics rather than any faux pas. Her boyfriends were not more refined than me. Brutes are forgiven a thousand slights, have they a handsome face. The best strategy for most people is to indulge the powerful passions of romantic love through movies and stories, rather than seeking it in reality. Experience the strong passions vicariously, if at all! This is my best advice.

A few weeks later, I spoke to Alice during recess, and she could not bring herself to snub me, since we had signed a peace treaty. Of necessity, I obeyed the ground rules she set down for our platonic friendship. I never spoke of the incident at the airport again, because it was forbidden to do so. She was firm and of an iron discipline, but hungry for conversation, so I endeavored not to bore her. She found in me a good listener, ready to absorb new ideas. Despite herself, she found my company agreeable.

She warmed up to me sufficiently to teach me the Basic version of Dungeons and Dragons during recess. She played the Dungeon Master, and I played a rather clueless fighter stumbling about her dungeon, slaying goblins only because Alice fudged dice rolls out of kindness to me. I was fascinated by the colorful, gem-like, nontraditional dice that she used: a four-sided, eight-sided, ten-sided, and even a twenty-sided die! It was because of Alice, and out of boredom with an easy academic curriculum, that all of my friends and me soon went deep into the world of role-playing games.

We were to all play D&D for the next three years, cycling through the Basic edition to the Expert edition and finally ending with the Advanced version, a complicated system at which I became the master, absorbing every one of the many rules.


[The End.]


#


Epilogue:

I submitted an earlier version of this story to an online writer's group for critique. One writer praised it with many reservations due to stylistic errors, which I felt was the most honest and helpful response. I have great difficulty with style issues, such as logical errors, redundancies, telling instead of showing, and stating the obvious. One writer praised it too much, and I felt she was just being kind, in hopes others would treat her stories with a similar kindness. One panned it, and made a snippy comment about writers like me jumping on the "Harry Potter" bandwagon, which was strange, because I've never read HP, and the first draft of this story was written before HP existed.

One writer had a violent reaction against my story, and I do not know why, other than it had stylistic errors, as he pointed out, which I already realized at the time. Maybe he found my story too sentimental. Perhaps it is or was at the time in its earlier incarnation. Maybe he was competing with the other reviewers in cutthroat fashion, trying to sound witty and original. He told me, in public, to shove a broken glass bottle up my ass. I was not interested in anything else anyone in that group had to say after reading that. I envenomed a dagger that would do the maximum damage possible to his public reputation, which I perceived he valued, as it was the only possible motive for his insult. I posted my sharp reply without any concern for what the moderators might say, as they had said nothing to the troll. How deeply my poison dagger penetrated his black heart, I cannot know, because I left soon after the stab. For a week later, in my email box, I received thirty replies from various writers, as well as the moderators, and they ranged the gamut, sympathetic, neutral, and skeptical, all of which I ignored, because I had concluded the writer's group was not for me. The troll, however, did not dare to write back, although I had planned to ignore him as well.

Many people have difficulty coping with online trolls. Here is my advice. Don't read their words. You are in control of your own internet browser. Not anyone else. You can control what and who you read. If you are curious and want to monitor what is said, but fear getting caught up in a flame war, wait a month, six months, or a year, then read. In this way, it is a simple matter to avoid involvement. But once you have identified an online personage as being a troll, is there any point in reading anything that they say? Would you pay the slightest attention to such a person in real life? In all probability, no. You would ignore such a twit in real life. It is ridiculous to give more attention to online twits than to real-world twits and even rather unfair to the real-world twits. Also, just because a message is in one's email box does not mean one must read it. Consider the source. As one would not read spam, one should not read scum. Kill filters are a perfect solution, deleting such emails based upon the sending address.

I don't know who my writing is for or what the purpose is. Publishers have never been the slightest bit interested in any of my material. I enjoy capturing certain experiences and imbuing them with a permanence beyond my own memory. Whether they are later ignored or lost is not in my power to foresee. Most writing is lost. All writing prior to a certain point in ancient history has been lost. Better writers than me have been silenced forever.

Some people say, "Why bother writing?" But if that is the attitude one takes, one could take it further: why do anything at all? One does what one knows, likes, or thinks is important. Money is not the sole motivation for doing things, or it shouldn't be.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Too True

Sixteen of the dumbest things Americans believe.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

How Many People Believe the Craziness?

How many Americans believe the distortions of FOX News and other rabid right-wing media pundits, who do nothing but lie all the time? Judging by the recent election, plenty. Here's an article in the Irish Times on the subject. I know why the right has gotten into the habit of calling liberals "Nazis." They misapply the term because they fear its being used, with better accuracy, upon themselves. They torture, start wars, discriminate against minorities, and spy upon their fellow citizens.

If the Right is again installed into power in Washington, D.C. in 2012, then the number of calamities the United States must face will multiply. I expect more war, more pollution, more negligence, and more corruption. The poor will get poorer, and the middle class will continue its vanishing act.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, November 19, 2010

No Eval

Early in the semester, I was planning to give my conservative professor a bad evaluation, due to her habit of preaching on religious and political subjects unrelated to the subject of the course. I changed my mind. I have decided not to fill out any eval. Hear no evil, see no evil, fill out no eval.

Why the change of heart? She's got her flaw--the preaching--but her qualities compensate for the flaw. On a personal level, she has really won me over with her politeness and fairness. When someone is polite, that carries much weight with me. So maybe I'm a pushover. I don't care. The bottom line is that she's better than most of the other professors I've had.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Psychic Power?

I watched a documentary this evening on Robert Jahn, a Princeton scientist who researched psychokinesis. This led me to check out a web site where anyone can test themselves for psychokinetic ability. A javascript picks a number, either 0 or 1, hundreds of times, and the goal is for the user to influence the computer somehow to pick more of a certain result.

I performed seven tests, but the site informed me my results were statistically inconclusive. Nevertheless, each result slightly favored the digit that I wanted the computer to pick.

I decided to favor 0's.
0's: 526
1's: 498

I decided to favor 1's.
0's: 505
1's: 519

I decided to favor 1's.
0's: 498
1's: 526

I decided to favor 1's.
0's: 500
1's: 523

I decided to favor 0's.
0's: 525
1's: 499

I decided to favor 0's.
0's: 522
1's: 502

I decided to favor 0's.
0's: 539
1's: 485

Weird, huh? I tried to examine the javascript, but it is encrypted somehow. However, there is no way for the site to know which digit I preferred. Perhaps my results are just a coincidence. Also, as the site noted, my results are not statistically significant.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Evil is a Burden

Doing evil is a burden on the soul. Sometimes I hurt another unintentionally with careless words, spoken without thinking. My filter is not intact. Sometimes I blurt out what I am thinking, having calculated it is socially acceptable, without evaluating whether the words will hurt another person's feelings. Sometimes it is difficult to really know whether a remark will be taken in jest or taken ill. I think fatigue plays a role in this ethical lapse. My body may be taxed by a virus, and my mind exhausted by fatigue. I may have slept poorly the night before. I have many excuses, but nothing seems to ease the pain of knowing that one's words have done psychological harm to another, especially a person that one otherwise admires.

I am reminded of an ancient incident. Possibly no one remembers it now except for me. I learned certain lessons from the experience, but don't always practice what I know 100% of the time. To be sure, when I'm fully rested, my batteries fully charged, I usually conduct myself better.


#


In my tenth year, my friend Joe was out with a cold. For the first time that year, I sat alone in the school cafeteria at lunch. I was eating a dry and leathery soybean burger and washing it down with sips of chocolate milk, a nasty combination. I wasn’t in the best of spirits, and I felt it was just as well that Joe wasn’t at school today, because I might say the wrong thing and offend him.

The night before, I had played my mom and dad at Risk for three hours. The two of us eliminated Mom’s military forces in less than thirty minutes. The game changed into a battle between my father and me. The game was longer than most, spanning three hours, but in the end, I lost as my father invaded my stronghold in Australia and destroyed the last of my armies. I wept. My father shook his head in anger. He said, “Why are you crying? You’re taking all of the fun out of the game for me. Why are you taking it so seriously?”

I had cried because my dad wasn’t a great military genius. Losing to my dad meant that I wasn’t as clever as my idol, Napoleon. I was not born to dominate others, to conquer and to rule. My fate would be different. If I wasn’t borne to be a conqueror, then I must become one of the vanquished. This is why tears fell from my eyes. All I ever wished to do back then was be the last one standing in all the games I played.

#


From the corner of my eye, I saw Alice standing before me with her tray in her hands.

Alice said, “Is it okay if I sit here?”

My heart quickened with surprise. I looked away and waved my hand in the air. “I guess.”

She took a step toward me and then paused. “Sure you don’t mind?”

My voice softened. “Nah, make yourself at home.”

She laid her tray on the table and sat down. As she opened her chocolate milk carton, I said, “How come you’re not sitting with your friends?”

“Oh, I don’t know. They’re kind of boring sometimes.”

In a sarcastic tone, I said, “Well, I’ll try my best not to bore you, then.”

She laughed, as though I was just teasing her. Her eyes were gleaming with happiness. I couldn’t imagine the reason. She was insane. I took another bite of the bland soybean burger. She took my cue and started eating. After we had finished our food and were sitting idle, she said, “I was in gifted class all day yesterday. You might have missed me.”

The mention of this gifted class struck a bad chord in me, because I desperately wanted in. “Missed you?” I said coolly.

“Gifted class is so much fun!” She smiled.

I gripped the empty carton of chocolate milk until it crumpled in my fist.

"We did an experiment in gifted class yesterday. The teacher had us all bring old shoeboxes from home. We lined them with aluminum foil and placed them on windowsills where they caught the Sun. We did something else and then around lunchtime, we found that the hot dogs were cooked and ready to eat! It was a demonstration of solar power. Neat, huh?”

“You know what?”

“What?”

“I don’t care about your stupid hot dogs. That’s what.”

She stared at me with surprise and hurt written upon her face. “I thought you were interested.”

“I’m tired of hearing you brag about the stuff you do in gifted class. So you go to gifted class! Big deal! I heard from other people that you’re stuck-up, and I have to agree. You’re just a big fat snob!”

Two or three kids turned around and looked at her, with smiles written on their faces, pleased by the unfolding drama. Alice‘s face assumed a bright red hue. Alice was on the verge of tears when she said, in a quite reasonable tone, “W-Why are you saying these things? What have I ever done to offend you?”

“Alice, we all know you think you’re smarter than everyone else! But you’re not as smart as you think you are! So just buzz off with your solar-powered hot dogs!”

She cried. Right there in the cafeteria, in front of everyone. Those who take pleasure in the suffering of others grinned at the spectacle. There was one exception. A black girl with kind-looking eyes, Charlotte, appraised the situation at a glance. She scolded me for making Alice cry.

I opened my mouth to make a witty retort, but changed my mind. In a flash I had full awareness of what I had said. I felt diminished, much diminished. In a low voice, I said, “I’m sorry, Alice.” She would not look at me. With more urgency I said, “Please forgive me.” I tried to touch her hand, but she flinched away. Through her tears, she said, “Stay away from me!”

I learned on this day that there are words that cannot be taken back. If we could live our lives over again, how perfect we would be! Each vulnerable moment would be rehearsed. Forewarned, we would avoid many temptations.

An apology only ever works in part, not in whole. The wound remains. Sometimes apologies are not accepted. People clutch the evil words that others have said to them, but dismiss praise as false or worthless, even when the praise carried more sincerity than the rash criticism spoken in haste. The analytical mind is implicated in this, because it is hungry for knowledge. There is more information contained in the exception than the norm. The analytical mind focuses upon exceptions--bad things--to satisfy its craving for answers, which may lead to a distorted perception of the overall reality. People think things are worse than they really are. In this way, they place limits upon their powers of perception. They see part, but the totality escapes them.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Complete Body Scanners at Airports

Here's a news report on the man who is being paid to promote full-body scanners at airports.

According to the mainstream media, we are now willing to let the Man look at us naked if he wants. People don't care if some stranger touches their genitals and peeks at what they have beneath their underwear. All in the name of the war against terrorism? I think that the terrorists have already won. This is a major victory all by itself, leading to the further regimentation and dehumanization of American society. We are just numbers, not people. Nothing remains private. Nothing remains personal. We're livestock, the property of the U.S. government and large multinational corporations.

This is just another consequence of permitting corporations and the government to demand urine samples from their workers. It's a consequence of the insipid war on drugs and all the sacrifices that people have made to let the government spy on them.

What's coming next is the complete elimination of the search warrant requirement. Police will simply enter any house for any reason, arrest anyone for any reason and keep them in prison for as long as they feel like it, with or without a trial. They can always make the case that this will improve security and fight terrorism.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Impermanence

I don't know which will break down first--my car, which despite being eighteen is far past its prime, or my body. Yesterday in class, I felt a numbness in the tips of my left fingers. I don't know what could have caused it, other than eating too much candy in the morning. Maybe I'm getting close to a diagnosis of diabetes. I usually avoid sugary treats on general principles. But my body may have developed insulin resistance anyway due to my habit of sweetening tea and coffee.

Add that complaint to chronic lower back pain that never seems to go away, and arthritic pain in various joints, and not the fun kind of joints either. I'm reminded of a meeting at my previous job when the middle-aged managers and senior programmers sat around bitching about their "failing body parts" for the better part of an hour. Now I'm at the stage where I can do that too. It makes one aware of death, first of all, that the end is in sight, at least, no longer hidden behind the horizon. And it makes one worry about the future, about becoming incapacitated in some way or losing functionality for good.

My response is stoicism, because there's not much I can do besides diet and exercise, which only help so much. I know all of the good things that one can do to fend off ailments. I try to sunbathe whenever conditions are favorable in order to absorb valuable vitamin D. I go for walks on a regular basis, although probably not as often as I should. I avoid the desserts that all my other friends crave.

The thought of death does not really bother me as much as it seems to bother other people. I like living, of course. But if I'm dead, well then, there's nothing to worry about. The main thing is to take each day as it comes and do the best that one can, so as to make a good impression on others and set a good example for others. To be well-liked and well-thought of supplies motivation for most people. One exists because one loves the world and the people, animals and things that are in it. One wants what is best for them.

I really wish that more people would move past the God nonsense when discussing life, death and the human existence. People say, "God wants me to do this," or "God will take care of things." Both sentiments seem dangerous to me. People are placing the label "God" upon their own impulses. God stops all discussion. It's just a big elephant trampling upon philosophy, science, and psychology. Suddenly there's God, and that explains everything.

My professor makes the case that one should believe in God for health reasons. She claims that faith makes people healthier and happier. She didn't make the claim, "wiser," which I think is more important, but probably would have, if she had only thought about it longer. History does not support her hypothesis, and she probably knows that, but she claims science does. "There's been research." I'm sure.

How does one measure happiness, anyway? That is no small problem. Health is easy enough to measure. I suppose a group of clean-living church goers who don't drink or smoke stacks up well against the general population with its array of addictions. But in that case she is comparing against gen-pop, not atheists, who form a smaller subset. Even among atheists, there are a hundred different varieties: the moral and philosophic, the immoral, and shades in between. Some dabble in mysticism. Some attend church for the social benefits or at the urging of their spouse. Let me pick my group of atheists and compare them against a church of her choosing for health and happiness, and we will see which group is ahead.

As for theists, some are Pagan, worshiping Set, Zeus or Apollo--does she endorse that? To be consistent, she must. Perhaps if she felt at liberty to elaborate upon her beliefs, she would claim Christianity is superior to paganism or, for that matter, any other version of theism. It is one thing in our society to offend atheists. She can probably get away with that. It is quite another to offend theists. She has cunning. She knows which groups she can give offense and which groups she must avoid offending. Although staking a claim to morality, in truth she is nothing but a common bully looking for easy targets, minorities over which she can claim superiority. "Look at me, I am a believer in God like 80+% of Americans, and what is more, a heterosexual. Also, I'm healthy and happy, pure and good, and destined for Heaven. Aren't I something? Aren't I really, really something?" Yes: unoriginal, unenlightened and unpersuasive. Brag about something other than the way you were born or the beliefs that you accepted without examining them. As long as believers display arrogance, there will be new atheists created in churches and classrooms around the world.

I do not believe that atheism is lacking in resources as suggested by the oft-repeated canard, "there are no atheists in foxholes." The idea that humans are wimps that grovel back to God is preposterous. God doesn't help, anyway. My worse moment came when I suffered spinal disc herniation. My lower back sent waves of agonizing pain on a regular basis, every two to twenty minutes, for forty-eight hours or longer. It was like being tortured by an indefatigable torturer. I was immobilized and could do nothing but suffer. Sleeping was little help, because no sooner would I fall asleep than the pain would wake me up and force me to change position. If God had offered pain relief, I would have accepted it and offered my allegiance to him thereafter. Although I did not find God, I did find Ibuprofen, and my allegiance to that entity can be appreciated on various posts throughout this blog.

My professor expresses the insulting assumption that atheists are immoral, which is a common belief among theists. She will gain no converts from the atheist camp with that tactic. I say let her continue to insult, to display arrogance. I would not give her advice. She would not have any of it, anyway.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions