Posts Tagged ‘Life’

As promised, I’m posting all my logic puzzles over at logiduction.wordpress.com, my new blog. I will also periodically report my personal tidings, particularly my reading, over at Ex-Tangent.

Thank you all for reading this blog, and I will be forced to direct your attention over there.

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This post has been long in the making: it has resided in my brain since the time I started this blog and it has certainly made itself apparent throughout this part of history that will surely become known as the Great Manic Depression (you heard it here first, ladies and gentlemen). This will be the last post, officially, of the 59 Second Minute in its current, utter useless form, but it will also begin an era of new, more fresh, political commentary by me, as well as another project that will ultimately end up taking more of my time and is totally different from anything I’ve done here in my blogspace in the cybersphere. This post carries a message of imperative importance to everyone who considers themselves politically informed, or is involved in any way in the politics of the United States.

The message is this: both the Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same, wretched coin. Together, they compose an entity that is against the liberty of all American citizens. There is not a party that is for freedom – no mistake about that.

Consider that most people dislike the Republicans for their over-reliance on evangelicals; for their restrictions on the decisions of women via their “pro-life” stance; and for their traditionally anti-gay views. This is infringing upon peoples’ social liberty because it restricts their freedom based on sexuality, gender, or, in some religious extremists’ cases, religion.

Consider that some people dislike the Democrats for trying to increase taxes and increase the role of government in all sectors of life, especially now in the economy. This is infringing upon people’s economic liberty because they seek to restrict the way that people trade goods and conduct their business. Having freedom of any kind naturally carries risk – the risk of failure. The government, in essence, seeks to remove the risk of failure by taking over the banks, etc., etc.

When you put these parties together (have a compromise between the two), what do you get? General authoritarianism, where the government dictates what you do, both socially and economically. Is this the type of system the “land of the free” deserves? NO!

I’d argue, that since the founding of this country, political thought has become increasingly homogenized, especially in the past 60 years, due to the two-party system. Again, ask, “What makes two people in the Democratic party any different from one another?” Not much; and I’d wager that that fact is a cause (or is it an effect?) of the lack of diversity in political thought from our people, and, thusly, the representatives they elect. And if there is no diversity in political thought (along party lines, of course: Republicans vote Republican and Democrats vote Democratic), then, one can argue that no one’s really thinking at all. Think about it: if your political views mesh with the typical Democratic robot, then you don’t have to think, for they think for you! You hear them talk, you nod in agreement, and life goes on. Then you hear a left-leaning journalist spit fire at the Republicans, you, again, nod in agreement (for Republicans are The Enemy), and life goes on. Whenever you talk politics, you just vomit back what you heard on TV or read in the newspaper, and life goes on, without any analyzation of your beliefs.

This type of system benefits nobody but the ruling class. We’ve become programmed like Pavlov’s dogs: the majority of the populace has been conditioned to think highly of a person that has that capitalized “D” next to the state they represent when they’re interviewed on the major news networks (note: substitute “D” for “R” when appropriate). And when the “R” shows up – well, he’s just another Bush and shouldn’t be listened to.

(As a side note: when there is infighting among parties – witness the fears of Hillary “ripping apart” the Democratic Party during the Conventions last year- people hope they all “get along” and keep going with the party line. Back then, I said I hoped she would concede to Obama but now I realize there was no correct choice, and I imagine that it would’ve been preferable for the party to be torn apart if Hillary pulled a stunt during the Conventions. My reason? I don’t want parties)

Is this the kind of divisiveness we need in our country?

As I said before, if we all think along the party line(s), who do we elect? The same people, or, at the very least, people who follow the party line(s) – the sad thing being that there is no tangible difference between the two options. And so, we elect the same people, and they continue to get nothing done or they decide to do the worse alternative: make bad laws.

We wonder why the country is going downhill, and then you look at Congress’s approval rating, which has hovered around 30% for what seems to be time immemorial. If we really dislike who is in Congress that much wouldn’t it make sense to vote them out of office by replacing them with someone more competent and has a political ideology that would better represent us?

But, the problem is, we’re given two choices in most races, and are forced to pick one of the two party lines that fits ours the best. And, most often, we elect people of the same party – people who closely share political ideologies… Who are likely going to repeat the failings of their predecessor. So we vote in what seems to be a revolving door of people who follow a certain party line, but, somehow, 70% of us more or less disapprove of Congress as a whole.

The issue lies in the homogeneity of the parties and of the populace. It has become evident that the two-party system is worthless and is destroying the quality and quantity of political thought in this country. It gives no choice to those who disagree with the dominant parties and force their hand into voting for the lesser of two evils. I say that we abolish the party system and vote for people based on the quality of their thought and their policies, not the name of the party they’re a part of. I say we stop casting our votes for both parties, since they are against our liberty. I say we open our minds and encourage those with alternative viewpoints and vote for them instead. I say we pick up a book on political theory or economics instead of turning on our televisions.

And, if you don’t believe me, I think you’ll take George Washington’s word that the party system does not work. From his farewell address in 1796:

They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion…

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally…

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

This won’t be the type of return that all of you, who have so enjoyed my political commentary, might expect. I am not here to save the day and speak out with more bombastic rhetoric and be the sole voice of reason in this mess. I am not going to continue with political commentary as it once existed on this blog: this time, it will be more theoretical and will not stick with the shallow dealings of the now, the now being the day’s events. It will be broader in scope, but it will come across here less frequently than before – my writing will consist of other subjects. Before, my commentary followed a formula of “find news story, give angry opinion on it, find news story…” ad nauseum. That’s over.

But, perhaps, I shall tell you, readers, how this exile came about. Following the week of Thanksgiving, I decided to stop reading the news for a week, and, as such, stop blogging.

The results of that week? I felt absolutely liberated and my mood felt fantastic. My mind wasn’t channeling any of its usual negative energy – energy, it turns out, it picked up from paying too much attention to the media. By unplugging myself from the Matrix, I felt substantially better, simply because my mind was focused on things other than the dealings of the corrupt. I was no longer filled with anger, and I was starting to be more positive in all parts of my life. I just felt, if I haven’t made it clearly enough already, better.

Of course, after a couple weeks, I had a desire to know what the hell was going on in the world, so I started to slowly plug myself back into the Matrix. But here’s the catch: I didn’t have any reaction to the news – I read it and that was that. Well, maybe that’s a lie: I did have a reaction, but it was subdued and what I expected based on my ideology. Now, in reading the news, I have a “default” reaction to the article based on my political opinion: liberty = good, tight restrictions = bad. It’s ironic, since I started this out as a bit of a lefty. Now I’m more in the vein of a libertarian. And I’m sure the latter is my “true” view – as it was only obtained by my own thought and investigation, not via the view espoused and endorsed by the Matrix. But I digress.

At this point, my confidence was rising, and I was reading the news without any repercussions to my mental health, and life was good.

And then the ice storm came. Yes, the one you’ve been hearing about in the news (link here). I live in the worst affected part of Massachusetts, and lost all power for 9 days, losing it for brief periods 3 times afterwards. The temperature in my house dropped to below 40 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit). I was cold, didn’t have school, and read just about all day. More importantly, I learned to value the modern conveniences we take for granted – light and heat, namely. And, I was forced to totally unplug myself from the Matrix (if you’re wondering why I keep making annoying Matrix references, you’ll see in my material later. Promise).

Yeah, I suffered quite a bit during that period, but it finalized the burning of the bridge between me and the rest of the crazed world. How about that. In the aftermath of the storm, I read more, worked out more, was better at everything I committed myself to doing, was fitter, happier, and more productive (anyone who catches that reference is awesome, by the way). I wasn’t negative, but I didn’t transform into the grating optimist I hate so much. I was the same person, yet was… better. Again: fitter, happier, and more productive. Life was good. And yet, I’m here, plugging myself back in. “Why?” you ask, “Why bother coming back here after becoming a happier individual because of your absence from this place?”

And now, men and women of the jury, we get to the heart of the matter. During this period of feeling good, I still felt like there was something missing, and, with increased availability of technology, I was slowly lapsing into my previous, boring life, complete with hours spent looking up trivial information (though, not quite news) on the internet (no, not pr0n you idiots!). Allow me to digress, though I will be getting to the middle of this all.

Before, I found that I was reading articles by anarchists, libertarians, authoritarians, Trotskyites, classic liberals (what I consider myself to be), socialists, Communists, and everything in-between and I managed to agree with all of them, because all they were doing was criticizing the system. I didn’t agree with, however, their remedy to the situation; I only agreed with their diagnosis of the problem. I managed to, for a brief period of time, share in their disdain of the system. Turns out I was well on the path to the Dark Side… Remember, Yoda said:

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

And I didn’t want to suffer. My posts were so filled with negative energy that it dragged me down, and, ultimately, made me an unsuccessful blogger, because I did nothing but offer negativity. To my credit, there’s nothing I could’ve really done to improve the situation, since I called for real change (and no, not the kind that Obama’s offering), and there’s no way that my kind of change would be implemented just by me blogging about injustice in the world.

On that same note, insanity is defined as (by me, at least) “doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. I kept posting about politics and it didn’t do anything for me or for my readers. I wasn’t offering them anything valuable; my posts were like a sledgehammer of negativity, which crushed all the value that might have been contained in my post. I wasn’t helping anyone do anything – I, again, was just hitting them over the head over and over with the message “THE SYSTEM SUCKS”. And, really, it did nothing. It made me feel worse.

During this whole exile, I came to the conclusion that although the System sucked (not to be confused with the Matrix), there was nothing I could do at all to change it. That’s a scary thought (says my past self), but, I woke up and smelled the sweet smell of coffee in the morning and realized, again, that I truly could not change anything (at least, with the means I was using before). And then, I did what I thought I couldn’t do before: I let go. I let go of all feelings of the System because I knew there was not going to be a single representative to be elected in this country that would be someone I would have no qualms about supporting. And, astonishingly, it was okay with me. I am still an impassioned arguer on the behalf of my political ideology, but only if the argument comes up during a conversation; I will not create a political argument for the sake of doing so. I was just so exhausted from arguing for it before that I chilled out and stopped bringing politics into the mix unless someone else did because it was destroying me from the inside out.

And, back to why I’m here: I need to write. I need to do something fulfilling, something to be proud of, something to keep me sane while I’m not reading or working out. I need to return to the blogosphere and just network with you guys again. Except, this time, I’ll enjoy it, instead of just focusing on getting my blaring, hopeless message out to the world. And you guys will benefit from that the most.

I’ll write commentary from time to time, but only to talk theory. No current events stuff, and I’ll certainly be writing more about what I’ve been reading as well as shifting the concentration things like self-improvement and personal philosophy, with (HOPEFULLY) fiction making regular appearances.

So, dear readers, I’m back and better than ever.

A Little Change

Well, I’ve decided to separate my creative writing and my political commentary. My fiction, from now on (including Project Atlas, obviously!) can be seen at my new blog Ex-Tangent. It should be noted that, since my creative writing is closer to my heart (me as a living, breathing person), any random personal stuff like rants, etc. that are not about politics will go there. Just a little note.

Besides that, there’s not much more to say.

I won’t waste any words with a loquacious beginning, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the Cold War, though we supposedly “won” it, has come back to bite us, to be cliché, almost 20 years since the collapse of the USSR.

To put it bluntly: our Cold War policies of trying to to prevent the spread of Communism are the real reasons for us being at war right now (or, at least, planted the seeds; I still hold the Administration wholly responsible for getting us into these wars) — we created our enemies with our foreign policy of interventionism for the sake of stopping the spread of Communism, or, as it’s euphemistically called, “spreading the ideals of liberty and freedom and democracy”.

I’ve been over this before; in a comment (responding to a conservative) on Will Rhodes’s blog, I said:

But all you do tell us how awesome it is for us to go into nations and bomb people into liking democracy and freedom at the point of a gun, saying how wonderful “liberty” is. Who are we to police the world? Shouldn’t we be keeping to ourselves and worrying about our problems here at home rather than going around liberating people from awful governments? I’m not saying I don’t empathize with those in Afghanistan under the Taliban or those in Iraq under Hussein, but I feel like it’s their issue, and not ours. Yes, you can talk about how this nation building bullshit is all about the “common good”, but, really, is it? How many people have lost their lives because of this war? If we really cared about our troops, wouldn’t we avoid altercation at any cost? I digress. The irony is my “liberal” point of view is actually more “conservative” than your own.

It’s funny how you mention the Taliban and Hussein’s regimes as the specific reasons for us going and creating freedom for the people. Want to know how they got into power? WE GAVE THEM MONEY AND GUNS. We created the Muhajadeen in Afghanistan, fighting a proxy war there, during the Cold War. We gave them money and guns, and after the Soviet Union collapsed, those with guns assumed power in Afghanistan. Thus, we gave birth to a regime that we had to come back and kill 15 or so years later because they were too oppressive. By “liberating” the people from one oppressor (the Soviets), we created another one.

The same goes for Iraq. Saddam was put in power because he was part of a CIA organized conspiracy to usurp the Iraqi monarchy. The Baath party, helped by the CIA, established a coup, and they took control of the government. The CIA endorsed the fighting within the Baath party after they assumed power, and Saddam and his “master” quickly assumed power. During the 1980 invasion of Iran, Saddam received arms and money from our government, IE the WMDs we tried to find but disappeared. WE were the ones who put Saddam in power, and he quickly became a dictator. It should be noted that Saddam, a Sunni, was put in power to establish a balance of power between Shia-dominated Iran; there were fears that, with a Shia government, Iran would swallow Iraq. The point is, we’ve tried to build nations before, and they’ve come back to bite us 10-20 years. If we didn’t try to build nations during the Cold War, we wouldn’t be in any war right now!

Yes, during the Cold War, we did, indeed, establish nations for the sake of combating Communism. Now, we’re just engaging in nation building for the sake of combating terrorism. The latter is no different than the former; we just slap a tag on whatever seems to be the “greatest threat of our time” and use it to justify interventionism in countries that don’t want our help. As I said above, what’s the point of nation building if the regimes we erect end up despising us? It’s just a bad investment, and something that we should try to avoid, but our leaders insist on trying to expand the American Empire for no reason other than to “combat Communism” or “combat terrorism”. As we’ve seen over the past 8 years, that is no way to run a stable nation, let alone an empire. And now the country, the empire, is crashing down, mired in debt, our military stretched too thin.

Bush and his cronies thought that they could make America the next Rome. They may not have succeeded, but they are making us collapse like Rome did.

Explaining the Watchman
Isaac Sampson

As this is the first print run of the Watchman, we should cover what’s going to appear — in the future. This is not your typical newspaper (more of a magazine, really) — but it goes by the standard conventions of magazines or journalism. However, it containing editorials and reports will be the only thing it has in common with the farces of journalism, such as the White Post, which I wrote for for a great while. The difference between the Watchman and those phony newspapers is like the difference between counterfeit and real, tangible money: one gives you the illusion of wealth, but is worthless; the other does not cast such a facade. We will present the facts, and nothing but — we will not refuse to call out a politician or a businessman or a celebrity who flat out lies. We won’t print their lies because of the false rule of journalism that we have to print “both sides of the argument” — to do so is to give credence to and a volume with which they can express their lies. Why should we be forced to show both sides, when one is fact, and one is fiction? We don’t want to be complicit in the delusion of the masses (though, they’re probably still reading the Post), so we simply will let you, the reader, know when somebody newsworthy lies.

The Watchman is a biased publication, sure: biased towards truth.

By mentioning bias, I should say, we’re not going to be inherently biased towards the left or right; the individual writers on staff have to make their own objective decision on who they like or dislike. As for me, I support the policies that I think are right, and will be good, with a vehement dislike for those who lie. Even though I may disagree with certain politicians, I will give “airtime” here for those who have integrity, and believe themselves that their policies are right, not because their advisers think so. Those who are honest and admit when they make mistakes are the kind of people we should be supporting here, and that’s my dying wish: to have a newspaper which focuses on those with integrity, and refuses to praise those that are incompetent or are liars. For, if we, as members of the media, sanction lies, dishonesty, and corruption, people will begin to think that it is acceptable to do that themselves.

I have invited those who are the greatest models of proper journalism to join this magazine, and a great majority have accepted. They, politically, range from the right to the left, but none of them are advocates of the authoritarianism that so suffocates society today: they are believers in freedom, much more than the posturing liars that get up on their soapboxes, plead that they’re passing all these laws to defend our freedoms, all the while driving freedom away. It’s akin to throwing you in prison, while saying you’ll be safer there.

So, my readers: will you run away because this isn’t the stuff you’ll see on television and certainly isn’t anything resembling what you read in newspapers nowadays? Make your decision: pick up our magazine and read, whether you agree with us or not, or go with the sheep, go with what the government supports, go with the frauds and scammers. It just depends how much you truly value honesty.

What we’re really doing is defending what is most important to us — and what we think should be defended in this country: freedom of speech and personal integrity. And that’s what the Watchman is all about.

Alex Whister placed his copy of the Watchman on his impossibly immaculate desk — though it had endured his 3 years of work and some other poor sap’s years, lost to the black hole of the past, it looked as if it were assembled that day, having a nice, even sheen. Its cleanliness could be attributed to the lost hours of the day where Alex, sitting, decidedly bored and apathetic, waiting for the clock to strike quarter of 6, would simply clean his desk with whatever means he had at his disposal. Between 4 and 5, Monday through Friday — especially Friday — Alex would be sitting there, paper towels in one hand, bottle of Windex in the other, wiping off his desk with punctilious precision, taking extra care to wipe the stains that had accumulated on his desk: stains that were only visible to his eyes. What made his desk’s spotless condition even more astounding was that he ate lunch there every day, without fail. At noon, he’d be at his desk, eating a sandwich, or an apple, drinking green tea always — decaffeinated. Always decaffeinated.

He raised his head to view his computer monitor deliberately, as to appear lazy or simply uninterested in what it had to hold for him. The clock read 5:31. He wheeled his chair out to the entrance to his cubicle, scanned the area for signs of life, found none, and retreated back inside, thinking aloud, “Well, 4 more minutes until you have to do it. 4 more minutes. What are you going to say? What are you going to do? What –” a man walked by, cast an inquisitive glance at Alex, then walked away indifferently. After the man walked by, Alex whirled around, faced his computer, and decided to think in his head.

5:32.

Just seem confident. That’s all you have to do. Seem bloody confident. Don’t stutter, don’t look down, just be smooth, like James Bond. Look her in the eye, put on a smile, and just ask her to get a cup of coffee with you. Simple’s that. Confidence. Confidence. Confidence. Oh, relax too. Don’t get too emotional, just relax, and have fun with her. Relax. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Relax.

5:33.

He repeated these little mantras for the next two minutes, staring up at the clock every few seconds, desperately wishing that the clock wouldn’t advance; if he had his way, the clock would remain frozen perpetually at 5:33, and he’d never have to take action. He pleaded with the clock — please, please, don’t move to 5:34, not 5:34! — to no avail: the clock, surely enough, ticked ahead to 5:34, which left him with under a minute to work up the courage to ask her out.

He looked at his cubicle wall, focusing his eyes on the one and only quote he himself coined. He cracked a wry smile at the sight of it, and viewed it with contempt:

“He who takes action and fails has, in fact, succeeded; he who takes no action, expecting failure, has failed.”

His mouth contorted into a smile, and then a full-blown grin, his lips forming a slight parabola on his face, and, for the first time today, Alex Whister laughed. He laughed at the sheer absurdity of his seriousness, and he laughed at the fact that he actually was laughing. He noted, quite joyously, that to laugh is to live, and he’d been missing, well, life this entire time, committed entirely to his work, religiously cleaning his desk. He laughed at himself, at the quotes on his cubicle wall, and grimly noted that he knew he was going to be rejected, but for this minute, between 5:34 and 5:35, that he didn’t fear it. When the clock struck 5:35, he knew this instance of happiness would descend into myth, into legend, into blackness.

5:35.

“Showtime,” Alex said, and, much to his surprise, the elatedness he felt at the sheer action of laughing did not, in fact, fall away. He rose out of his seat, carrying himself with energetic purpose, like that of a man who rises from bed in the morning and is genuinely excited about what a new day will have in store for him. He smiled again, and chuckled at himself. Alex thought he was in some sort of alternate reality — a place with positivity, a place where things are of no consequence, a place where he can live — and marched down to Erica Apels’s desk, the woman he was going to ask out. Whether she refused or not, he didn’t care. He felt as though the feeling of taking a risk was a good enough feeling, though this risk didn’t mean anything at all. It meant nothing at all, though, he noted, it meant everything. It gave his life color and darks and lights; his action erased the drab gray that so permeated the world around him.

This is how that guy Isaac must’ve felt, rebelling against those liars and crooks of the corporate media. By taking a risk, by standing up for what he and only he wanted, he gave himself freedom and… self-satisfaction. He didn’t quit at the last minute, did he? He saw it through, and he was proud of himself at the end. He had to be, because he had accomplished what he ultimately wanted — a newspaper with integrity. But… that’s only the beginning, isn’t it? He has to fulfill his promise; he has to keep writing, keep challenging the status quo. He has only gained a little victory.

He turned the corner, mechanically, without effort, and stood at the entrance of Erica’s cubicle, and was taken aback at how good she looked. He gazed at her wavy, almost metallic, blond hair, which descended in little curves down her neck and shoulders, her pale, but flawless skin, her slightly rounded face, and her small, dainty nose, which was a perfect fit on her face. She turned to him, and oh my God, her eyes are unbelievable! looked at him with inquisitive, green eyes. Despite her beauty, her demeanor seemed lethargic, almost as if she had worked too hard during the day — and stayed up late the night previous.

“Yes?” she said, with an undertone of annoyance.

“Hi Erica… I’m — uh — Alex. Listen, I was wondering whether you’d like to –” Alex managed to eek out, but he could already tell that he was losing confidence. He wasn’t helped by Erica’s careless smile — which was probably hiding contempt for him. He’d dealt with politically correct people before, and he couldn’t stand that blank smile they all put on, the one that masqueraded as caring and sympathy, but concealed annoyance and hate. He spotted that little smile, that face that told him you know, I’m trying to act nice to you even though I really am not in the mood, so cut me some slack. Go away.

Her lips were still stiffly contorted into something resembling a smile. She said, “Not particularly, but… I’m sure if you asked me, say, Monday, I’d give you a better answer. That’s fine, right?”

“No, no, it’s fine! I’ll just… Just…” Alex jerked his thumb in the direction of the nearest exit. “I’ll — I’ll get going now,” he sputtered, hardly caring to conceal his embarrassment, and, what’s more, his humiliation at getting shot down. Thoughts blaming himself, himself and only himself, entered his mind, invading and conquering his brain with ease. It was his fault that he had been shot down, it was his inadequacies that made him undeserving of having a cup of coffee with such a woman, and it was he who was unworthy of being even her slave. He cursed himself a thousand times over, knowing that it was a decision akin to a man jumping into a river knowing full well that he can’t swim, desiring only to get wet. Alex was swept away by the self destructive rapids that were now his own thoughts, drowning in them, wallowing in them.

During this time, he was marching toward the door, without thought; his face displayed no emotion, cloaking the bitterness raging inside of him. He accidentally ran into a coworker, who dropped the newsmagazine he was holding. Alex muttered remorsefully, saying something about him having a long day and being stressed out from work, but they were rushed words, whose memory — and meaning — would vanish as soon as they were spoken. The man said something to the effect of, “that’s alright, mate,” and things carried on as if nothing ever happened: both men knew the futility of even issuing an apology and an acceptance of said apology, as they knew the collision was a mere accident. But, in helping the man pick up his fallen magazine, Alex was struck: he forgot the copy of The Watchman on his desk. He rushed saying a blatantly extraneous “Goodbye” and jogged to his desk, zigzagging through cubicle aisles and coworkers with surprising agility. He picked up his copy of the Watchman, and ran back out to the nearest exit, nearly crashing into more coworkers on his way.

God, I need a coffee. Alex thought, and, yet again, let his control of his body fade, transferring it to the force of habit — he was traveling a route that he had taken so many times that he could go there even if his eyes were gouged out of their sockets (assuming there was no traffic, of course).

Come on, pick yourself up — every single time something goes wrong, you take the opposite approach of everyone else by blaming yourself. Their approach is to blame everyone but themselves, and you blame yourself only; both approaches are wrong. Hell, you’re good at everything you do, especially your job, and you do have a bit of charm — when you’re not looking like you’re going to puke because you’re so nervous. You need to relax and feel comfortable, even when you know your “performance” isn’t going too well; when the crowd gets antsy, step up your game. But that just makes you more nervous.

It’s like… Like… I’m desperate to find a girlfriend. Tone that down. You don’t need them to survive, that’s for sure — you’ve been without one since my got out of college and… Mary. Let’s not mention her. I know it’s been tough rebuilding my confidence, but hey: I’d much rather be doing well at I job and enjoying yourself at home than having success with the ladies and being incompetent, right?

Uh, sure.

But, most of all, the thing that’s killing me is that I need someone to talk to. I don’t care who, I just need someone to bounce my ideas off of — someone to acknowledge my existence as something more than another guy stuck in that awful cube farm. And someone who’s competent. And someone who loves me, not for the six figures I somehow make crunching numbers, but for my ideas, for my thoughts, for my accomplishments. And someone — here’s the important part — who has compelling ideas themselves, someone who creates things I would’ve never thought of myself. I want someone to look in the eye as an equal. That’s what I want. Not these politically correct buffoons who are a dime a trillion nowadays, who have nothing to offer but altruistic bullshit that they don’t even believe in themselves.

By now, Alex had already received his coffee, and sat down at a table, reading the Watchman, reading as slowly as he could to kill whatever time remained in his day.

* * * * *

Eric Lansing walked, energetically, toward Madeleine Schaffer’s desk, carrying a paper in his hand. He walked with a smile on his handsome face, but his thoughts betrayed what the smile seemed to convey. He plopped the paper down on Madeleine’s desk, forcefully, as if angry, and said, in a tone that was, ironically, lighthearted, “So, Mad, what do you call this?” He winked at her, injecting the conversation with some deliberate faux-cheeriness.

She responded as he had predicted, sarcastically saying, “A newspaper article, Eric.” She didn’t bother to wink back, knowing full well that Eric was not really happy with it — as he usually was. For whatever reason, she mused, he never thought her work was up to par, and criticized it, but on everything else, she (or so he said) was wonderful. She just was not as good as him at their job; he outclassed her, and to her, he asserted his superiority far too often.

“No. I call it trash. Or something like it,” Eric’s voice turned grave. “Why are you reporting on this — why are you printing what uneducated buffoons say as fact? Because they’re the ‘common people’, is it? Because they’re the voters? The ‘common taxpayer’? Some bloke is going to see that article and think, ‘Gee whiz, Nancy, if Mark Smith from Toledo thinks that we should demand leaders that we can identify with, we damn well should.’ That’s not good. Print your own thoughts, man.”

“Excuse me Eric, but at least I haven’t been warned by management to keep my trap shut at all yet, unlike you, who can’t suppress your radical political beliefs. I’m doing my job as an objective journalist, by reporting on the facts and not giving my opinion. I only give the facts that are available at the time. And, indeed, Mark Smith from Toledo did say that we should vote for our leaders based on how we identify with them. That’s a fact. That’s what a voter thinks, so the statement that ‘common voters choose their leaders based on how they identify with them on a personal level’ is a fact. The press should be as close to transparent as it can be — acting as a seamless conduit between information and the people. I’m not allowing personal emotion into this, so aren’t I doing a good job?”

“It seems we have different ideas and ideals about what the press should be. I think the press should be the separation of right and wrong, the people who can report on the facts and not show the spin doctors as truth-tellers — of course, within reason. I mean, we’ve still got to be as transparent as possible, and report for what the people want because… Well, they’re paying for our paychecks, by buying these newspapers. And, maybe — maybe you’re right. We’ve got to cater to the common man because he’s the one who feeds us. I still… Still think that we need to have honesty in our reporting, but not so much that it drives away customers: to do so is to flush money down the toilet, so to speak. I’m sorry, Madeleine. I have been accused of being too idealistic, and it seems my critics,” — he motioned toward her — “might be half-right,” he said, in a sardonic tone, with an accompanying sarcastic smile donning his face. Anyone else would’ve thought that he was just being devilishly sarcastic in saying that, but Madeleine knew that was his way of admitting defeat in the way that would damage his ego the least.

“Hey, at least you get where I’m coming from,” she said, matching her tone of voice to accompany his. “Let’s… drop it, okay? Go earn your paycheck or something.”

They both laughed for a reason they couldn’t quite identify, but were happy to find that they finally were distracted from the impact — and the eeriness — of their disagreement. It was a rare thing to see, for both of them, and it burdened their consciences, for they each viewed the other as a glimmer of light in the human race, a person that they could admit as a positive influence on their lives: a person worth remembering. But, yet, a disagreement could make the illusion of symmetry between them disappear, and made the instigator (or the rebel) prone to conceding their argument, trying to keep the illusion alive as much as possible. To lose faith, to lose confidence in the other person, was, truly, to lose self-esteem. To punch a mirror because the reflection looked sinister would be an accurate way to describe it — after all, the mirror image, despite all appearances to support it, is not the object itself. It is an illusion of being — and this is exactly what Eric and Madeleine knew their relationship to be: a struggle to keep their souls afloat in a world that hated their being. And so, like the good friends they were, they clung to each other in support, in celebration that the other person made them feel good to be themselves. It didn’t matter that it was all a mirage.

Eric sighed and picked up the article swiftly, saying, “I’ll go back to work. For a moment,” and turned and walked away, back to his desk. He read the article again, put it back on his desk, and shook his head in disbelief. His head was in civil war; his ego was against itself. He picked up the article, turned to his left to go throw it in the trash, and thought better of it, placing it softly on the desk. He smiled at himself, and knew that it was okay to disagree with Madeleine, that it was fine to go against their little similarities. But, at the same time — he wondered how she was taking it, as he knew their feelings mirrored each other well on matters of this kind. Would she think that he was a lost cause by disagreeing for once? Would she think ways were on the way down between them, even though they weren’t even involved romantically?

“Maybe it’s my responsibility to fix it,” he whispered, answering the questions in his mind. “Maybe I’ve gotta do it.”

The Sensation of Living

It’s really a shame that people don’t really think about the living. Or, rather, not think about, but appreciate what it is to live. Okay, maybe appreciate isn’t the right word, since that implies gratitude to a higher being, so I won’t even go there. Maybe, I’m just thinking, I wish we all could take a step back from everyday life and appreciate how bloody awesome it is to just… be.

There are things we take for granted — our senses, for instance. And out of all the things anything, anybody can do, just using our senses are the biggest testaments to just how wondrous life is. Just seeing, for instance, is unbelievable; think about how special it is just to see. Same goes for hearing. Same goes for touch, taste, and smell. It’s just, frankly, unbelievable that we can do such things. Again: I wish people would take a step back and analyze and just think about how extraordinary it is to live. To be able to taste. To be able to move. To be able to think!

And what about language? It’s amazing that we, as humans, have created infinite vocabularies of joined sounds and symbols (for the written word) just so we can communicate with each other and think. Imagine how you would think without language; you’d just be reduced to feelings like “hungry” or “thirsty” or “tired”, except you wouldn’t label it like that.

Go play some of your favorite music, tap your foot to the beat, and sing along. While you’re doing so, just think of how effortless it is to do so — how amazing that you can do that without thinking.

I felt like having more fun, so I figured I’d give you guys something to laugh about.

1) The first is last Tuesday’s episode of the Daily Show. Includes an absolutely priceless quote from Dubya… Seriously. I laughed so hard I cried during this one.

2) I have to plug the Chaser here, as I’ve plugged them before — just with many more hilarious videos. Check ’em out — they’re all hilarious.

APEC security stunt video — the most brazen stunt I’ve ever seen by a group of comedians.
Trojan Horses! — Again, a bloody hilarious video.
Sex Offender Shirts — What happens when people wear questionable t-shirts?

3) Frank Caliendo is one of my favorite comedians ever, with hilarious impressions
of Bush, John Madden, Clinton, Pacino, and so on. Watch this.. Filled with his usual smattering of spot-on impressions.

4) I have to plug New Zealands fourth most popular folk parody duo — the Flight of the Conchords. Out of everything I’ve linked, they are DEFINITELY my favorite, just because they’re good musicians with excellent, excellent wit and smart lines. The following three are my favorites:
Business Time — the king of Flight’s songs in terms of comedic value. I laugh every single time I see it, even though I’ve watched it at least 20 times by now.
The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room) — One of their most underrated songs, but I think it’s awesome. You’re a legend, Dave!
Robots — Again, this is unspeakably hilarious. With Flight, you must listen to it before you can say whether it’s funny or not. Obviously, I think this one’s hilarious. The solo is crazy too — they are really top-notch musicians ;)!

5) I had to include one of the most famous youtube videos ever!

Enjoy the laughs, folks.

Well, since I haven’t gotten good enough writing done for Project Atlas, I’ll have to postpone the real debut for a week. It’s not that I didn’t finish the episode, it’s just that it doesn’t meet my standards — it’s not my best writing and I need some extra time to edit it.

The “real” content of this post will be the meme which Muse posted on his (her?) blog today. Since I needed some filler content, and I genuinely thought it’d be fun, I decided to indulge! It’s no Project Atlas, but it’s good enough for today — and I might be able to post new content every day this week! Amazing!

So, this meme’s this little questionnaire on life and love and all of that stuff.

The rules of the game:

RULE #1 : People who have been tagged must write their answers on their blogs and replace any question that they dislike with a new question formulated by themselves.

RULE #2 : Tag 6 people to do this quiz and they cannot refuse. These people must state who they were tagged by and cannot tag the person whom they were tagged by continue this game by sending it to other people.
(I have not replaced any questions, because it’s hard to imagine not liking a question. After all, it’s just a question, right? I don’t like rules.)

1. If your lover betrayed you, what will your reaction be?
Talk to her, tell her that lost all of my trust, and kick her out. Not necessarily in that order.
2. If you can have a dream to come true, what would it be?
Anarchy. Just kidding. Having a job I love and having a girlfriend/wife I really really love would be wonderful.
3. Whose butt would you like to kick?
Chuck Norris’s. Just because it’d be legendary.
4. What would you do with a billion dollars?
Travel the world, learn new languages, and just kick back, relax, and enjoy life.
5. Will you fall in love with your best friend?
Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be — your “lover” being your best friend? I dunno, that’s how I’ve always viewed it.
6. Which is more blessed, loving someone or being loved by someone?
Loving yourself — you kill two birds with one stone 😉
7. How long do you intend to wait for someone you really love?
As long as it takes, if I’m 10^100% sure that they’re the absolute love of my life and they are absolutely perfect for my tastes. If not, I won’t wait at all.
8. If the person you secretly like is already attached, what would you do?
I would continue to live a life of integrity, whatever that entailed. (Muse said this, and I can’t agree more!)
9. If you like to act with someone, who will it be? your gf/bf or an actress/actor?
Uh what?
10. What takes you down the fastest?
People who dislike me for my strengths.
11. How would you see yourself in ten years time?
The same person.
12. What’s your fear?
Death. Or, never getting a job I’m happy in. Or, that I’ll never meet someone I’m really pleased with.
13. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?
How can words describe Muse…?
14. Would you rather be single and rich or married but poor?
Depends what on the quality of my job/marriage is. If I’m married to someone I really really love, then I’d rather be married and in the lower-middle class.
15. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Splash cold water on my face. Then I like looking out the bathroom window and try to contemplate just how COOL the ability to see is.
16. Would you give all in a relationship?
Nah!
17. If you fall in love with two people simultaneously, who would you pick?
I wouldn’t.
18. Would you forgive and forget no matter how horrible a thing the someone has done?
Not at all. I hold people to what they’ve done in the past.
19. Do you prefer being single or having a relationship?
Right now, being single. Later… who knows?
20. List 6 people to tag
I only have one: Will Rhodes. Go ahead, buddy, engage in this love crap even though your blog is political and you’re a married man!

Yeah, yeah, again, I’m picking on the Governor of Alaska though I promised not to… But this was too good of a story to pass up.

As we all know, Sarah “Bush” Palin’s e-mail inbox was leaked, and, man did it have some earth-shattering revelations inside. Example:

From: Rick Davis (dickyd@POW.com)
Subject: Charlie Gibson Interview

Sarah,

We’ve received word from ABC news that, in your interview with Charlie Gibson, you’ll be called on to answer a question about the “Bush Doctrine”. Now, what the “Bush doctrine” means to them and what it means to nice, hard-working, God-loving, people with traditional values, like you and me, are totally different. One refers to George W. Bush’s policies in office, and the other refers to how much we let our daughters shave down there. If you are asked the question and respond with WHAT you think the Bush Doctrine is, we’re going to lose to a Black Muslim dude who thinks he’s Mohammed. Just stall if you’re too tempted to explain yourself.

Sincerely,
Rick

P.S. Threesome with you and Cindy tonight?

Not much needs to be said about that one… But it turns out that Palin might have some foreign policy experience after all:

From: Vladimir Putin (RootinTootinPutin@kagaba.ru)
Subject: Foreign Policy

Sarah,

Please shut up about your foreign policy qualifications just because you can see us from one of your little islands. It insults us here in the Kremlin that you’d have the gall to say you have had dealings with us when you really haven’t. Lies aren’t treated well here, and it’d be unfortunate if you ended up having an accident like Alexander Litvinenko did a couple years ago. It really would be a shame to see you fall conveniently after you try to make us look like an enemy. Remember: In Soviet Russia, RUSSIA SEES YOU!

Putin emailing Palin? Palin getting poisoned by the KGB? I love intrigue! It’s too bad that Putin and his ex-KGB friends actually would be doing us a service by, erm… helping Palin’s death a long like that. Actually, scratch that — that would probably drive us to war with Russia, which we’d eventually lose.

There was an email from Bristol Palin to her mother, but, unfortunately, I lost that one. It had something to do with the son that she already has: the Down’s Syndrome baby.

Editor’s Note: this is all a satire, and if you perceive these statements to be factual, please contact your local mental health clinic

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