Monthly Archives: December 2005

2005 In Review

This entry is largely a self-indulgent exercise. I’m not sure how much anyone else will care, but I’m putting it up for myself to look back upon.

Personally, I’ve seen some ups and downs. Not a bunch of them, but a few long-term trends. Started off excited in 2005, went downhill for a while, then came back sometime before summer. Summer was one wacky fun time, then I went to college. Kept the high going, met a bunch of people, and then crashed sometime in October. Big downward spiral, then a levelling off. Starting to rebuild myself with the trip to Atlanta. Now, I’m back home, ready to kick 2006 in the ass.

I used to update all the time, but updates were sparse during 2005. I pretty much killed the website in April. I’ve only had BOTBC updates, I think. The website is going to stay dead in 2006, but I’m working on something new.

I read all the entries in my weblog from this past year. Some interesting stuff. After review, I think there’s too much vitriol in this world, and I will strive to continue making this weblog less vitriolic. I’ve noticed a thing that happens when I debate with other people (in real life conversation): I try to reduce issues to their core. I started discussing Iraq with someone and then found out he didn’t even truly believe in democracy. I’m just going to use this weblog to further develop my own political ideology — in a non-vitriolic fashion, of course. Hopefully, I’ll figure non-political stuff about myself too. I’ve strayed from satire. I like satire; it has its uses, but they’re limited. I’d rather explain and convince than condescend.

The Chalkboard Manifesto doesn’t seem to be receiving quite as many votes as it started to get over summer, but its readership is growing, and that’s more important. I’ve also noticed some pics being used on MySpace. I think that’s cool. I also like the friends I’ve been receiving on MySpace who are fans of my comic.

In the social dimension, I’ve grown. I like to think I’m more amiable and more outgoing than I used to be. Still working on that one, though.

Am I better off now than I was at the beginning of 2005? Yes. I’m done with high school. I’ve made giant steps in my development of an all-encompassing personal philosophy. I’ve read a lot of books. I’m more knowledgeable. I think I’m a better person.

Here’s a question I don’t really want to ask myself: Am I closer to the presidency than I was at the beginning of the year?

I think because of my social growth, I’ve made a baby step towards my goal. I also read a few presidential biographies, but the game is changing and I wonder how much use those will be. Also, I guess you could say that starting to develop an all-encompassing personal philosophy (including politics) is a step in the right direction. I’m tempted to say that my overall progress has been negligible. However, there are a few things that I would say mean I’m in a much better place than in the beginning of the year. I’ve reaffirmed my resolve for this goal. That’s something. The big thing, though, is that I’ve discovered within myself a deep faith in democracy. It seems to be something many smart people lack. This realization in itself is enough to say that I’ve made a lot of progress.

How about my New Year’s resolution? I only had one for this year: Seize the day. Didn’t quite work out. I abandoned the goal sometime in April. I just wasn’t satisfied with seizing whims, it seemed like. During summer, I semi-returned to this goal following an “Everyday is an adventure” mentality, making sure to make the most out of each day. When I got to JHU, I made an effort to meet as many people as I could each day. Then, (this was part of the downward trend) it started raining and I holed up in my room. Perhaps I seized the day once more in Atlanta, but it still felt like I was seizing whims. Now, however, I’ve found a way to refine my goal for next year. That’s something I reveal tomorrow: my New Year’s resolutions for 2006.

Good-bye 2005. You treated me well, for the most part. I learned a lot.

Thanks to anyone who read this weblog at any point during 2005. Hope I provoked some thought.

See you next year.

Phantom Movie

I watched The Phantom of the Opera movie. Ugh, it was horrible. Don’t get me wrong, loved the songs, loved the musical. The Phantom, though, could not sing. Christine had this same dumb look on her face the whole movie. I just couldn’t stand it. Most of the time, it didn’t even look like the people were singing.

Whose Alarm Clock Is That?

I was somewhere, maybe in my room. An alarm clock was going off. It kept ringing and ringing. For a long time. In my head, I was thinking, “That’s so annoying! When is somebody going to turn it off?”

Then, I woke up. I realized it was my alarm clock. I hit the snooze button and went back to sleep.

That dream happened a while ago. Not during vacation or yesterday or anything, but I just remembered it and decided to share it.

Merry Whatever

On the way back here from Baltimore, two separate people said, “Merry Christmas. Oh wait, do you celebrate Christmas?” I can understand the CYA aspect of it. However, is there something about me that says, “I don’t celebrate Christmas.” I don’t look like a Jew. I don’t look like a Muslim. I certainly don’t look like I’d forsake Christmas for Kwanzaa. Do I look like a “Happy Winter Solstice” guy? Come on. Come on. I totally look like a Christmas guy.

Anyway, I’m in Las Vegas right now. That’s why I haven’t been updating. I’ve had access to the internet, but I’ve been taking care of the vacation to relax. Yes, I already did enough of that in Atlanta, but I’ve got family in Vegas.

It’s good to be disconnected from the internet. It’s good to be disconnected for a while. Just sit back and do nothing. Not have any responsibilities. No finals coming up. No engagements to worry about. No driving. No getting up. No nothing.

I’ll be in this mode until the New Year. Then, a new beginning. More explanation about that, later.

Oh, I get back from Vegas the 28th. So, hit me up on the cell if you got any free time.

it will be good break

Got to talk with people I knew at BWI, then on the airplane, and then I saw Emerald at the airport via random coincidence. Break started off on a good note. I have a good feeling about this break.

Plus and Minus

I guess because of grade inflation, now they gotta use +’s and -‘s to distinguish between people. Well, let me go on the record as saying -‘s are bullshit. That’s right, bullshit. And +’s too.

(Alright, yeah, it’s because I only get A-‘s, not B+’s. It’s still bullshit, though.)

Tightening the Border

I found this news article encouraging: House Votes to Toughen Laws on Immigration. Something I found especially encouraging was that it didn’t have a guest worker provision. I am vehemently opposed to such a measure. Why? Two main reasons: 1) We don’t need to set up a system of second-class citizenship. 2) A main goal of immigration should be assimilation/integration.

I have to say that now I’m a fan of Tom Tancredo, “a firebrand on illegal immigration who drove the debate.” Thank God somebody recognizes that we have a serious problem on our hands with illegal immigration.

Forget the Audience

I have a confession to make: Since April 4, 2005, I have been trying to figure out the meaning of life. I have been trying to develop an all-encompassing life philosophy, covering everything from self, to love, to government, to economics. Actually, all my life, I’ve been working on that problem. I don’t know what everyone else thinks about in their spare time, but that’s my default position. Especially late at night, I just sit there and wonder. However, it’s only been since April that I have worked on this problem more in earnest and more methodically, writing down my thoughts in a notebook.

I’ve had a lot of break-throughs and false leads, but I’ve been trying to tear everything down to the base. And trying to find the Truth that satisfies me. I’ve been going around in circles and circles trying to get past a certain point for months now. It’s been a very personal journey. I’ve still a long way to go, but I’ve finally reduced things to the principles I can build everything else upon. Specifically, I’ve wanted to answer two questions first: What does it mean to be human? How should I live? I know I wanted to encompass everything, but I limited it to that scope in what will eventually be a book. Finally, I’ve found some satisfactory answers.

The way I see the world: All the world is a stage, but we are not acting according to a script, but playing a giant game of improv. Life is just as meaningless as a game of improv. However, framing life this way twists the issue of futility that I’ve been trying to deal with into something more palatable without rejecting life’s lack of purpose. I can go on, but all I want to write about is the base. Suffice it to say, it’s the analogy to life that I’m most satisfied with, especially because it accepts the role other people play, unlike a previous lucid dream analogy I was playing with.

“How should I live?” has been a much trickier question, and I’ve been trying to reconcile two answers. One path, based on the futility of life, basically says, “However you choose.” Another path, based on a newfound Christianity, says that I have a responsibility to love everything. I may have found a middle path.

My new philosophy: “Forget the audience.” It relates to the game of improv and tells you to forget who may be watching. It tells me that I should embrace the game, to seize the day, to never hesitate. It tells me not to worry about who’s watching and have faith in myself. It tells me that the only way this game will work is if I completely submerse myself in it, and it follows that I can only do this by working with the other actors.

One more thing about my new outlook on life: Life is not zero-sum. Improv is not zero-sum. It’s an important realization for me and makes life more livable.


We should’ve pushed for an independent Kurdistan, and I wonder if it’s still not too late. I guess so because of the constitution. Perhaps certain persons in Iraq would not have liked it, but it would’ve been in the best US interests. I do not believe the insurgents would’ve attacked Kurdistan. It does not make any sense. Also, the Kurds would’ve been more willing to allow the establishment of a US base and maybe even to share in the oil revenue. I guess we’ll never know for sure, but I think it would’ve helped stabilize Iraq. It would’ve been one less faction to worry about when drawing up the Iraqi Constitution and during elections in general. Heck, we might’ve even been able to set up a government more to our tastes in Kurdistan.

The Language Barrier in Iraq

You want to know the other big reason for why not enough American soldiers don’t know Arabic? (The first reason is not enough training.) This is too crass for TV, but luckily we’re on the Internet where no holds are barred! Middle-Eastern Muslim culture keeps their women all wrapped up and sheltered (or are we too licentious?). If Americans were chasing more Iraqi tail, they would learn more Arabic. Maybe if the Iraqis had more hot nightclubs and bars… No, no, I kid… Still, I wonder…

Unfortunately, I am not in Iraq and don’t know jack shit. *sigh*

A Radical Solution to Border Enforcement

I’ve been very impressed with Judd Slivka’s pieces on the Arizona-Mexico border in Slate. They paint a very good picture of what’s happening, illustrating the various problems that have arisen, and how they have affected the people in the area. It recognizes the realities of the situation and, to me, doesn’t feel like it has any heavy political bias. It just gives an accurate picture of what’s going on.

Upon reading Thursday’s entry, I had to pause when I came across this sentence: “There is the U.S.-Mexico border that you’ve heard about, where immigrants are coming through in droves, drugs are entering in increasing numbers, and two governors have declared a state of emergency because the southern thirds of their states are overrun.”

Two states being overrun? Does anyone in America realize the extent of this problem?

Slivka doesn’t stress this, however, and I applaud her for that because it would detract from what her pieces are trying to accomplish. They present an accurate portrait, a snapshot in time, of a certain area and lifestyle. Still, even without the alarmist tones, I can see that what is happening there is not good for America.

There are different factors contributing to this migration problem. The clamp-down on immigration going on right now has re-routed their paths through rural areas, “the numbers got huge after the Border Patrol started intensive enforcement in cities and pushed the immigration into the rural areas.” However, the Border Patrol is not wrong in stopping these holes. We don’t want illegal aliens easily flowing into our country and stopping the Border Patrol from doing its job won’t solve any problems. The intensification of enforcement is not the main cause of what’s happening. One big problem is that illegal immigration has increased in numbers beyond what the Border Patrol can handle. I’m not going to get into the causes of migration, suffice it to say, if you do the research, there has been an increase in migration. (It would do well if I linked to some source, eh? Well, I guess I’ll cite my sociology lecture.) There are other factors indeed, but this problem is mainly a numbers game, in my mind. There wasn’t this problem in the rural areas where the ranchers came across very few border crossers. The attitudes change with the numbers, and I think there is a direct cause. The missing link in my numbers game framework is: Did Border Patrol intensify their work in cities due to an increase in illegal immigration within cities? That, I don’t know. However, I infer that it may be the case because numbers have increased, and I don’t blame an increase in xenophobia alone. (The causes of the increase in numbers, I won’t go into.)

Even if you don’t accept what I’m saying, it’s evident that Border Patrol, at its current capacities, cannot handle the influx of illegal immigrants. The border is too porous. The question I’m trying to answer is: How can we close the border? Not, Should we close the border. If immigration is such a problem that two governors have declared states of emergency, then something needs to be done. You can’t solve it through eradicating global poverty, by merely attacking the root causes of this migration. You don’t solve the crime problem by attempting to eradicate poverty and not putting anyone in jail. Both measures need to be attended to. Security along our borders needs to be increased.

Critics will say that what I propose is impossible. We’ll never close the border, so we need other solutions. Again, I appeal to the crime analogy. We’ll never build enough prisons so we need to think of other solutions. Yes, we can think of other solutions to the immigration problem, but at the same time, we need to close our border. Carrots and sticks. Perhaps “close” is too heavy a word. I believe we can radically reduce illegal immigration with radical solutions to border patrol.

Here’s one: We institute mandatory military service, perhaps two years long, for all young males. We use our military to patrol our borders.

God, after typing that out, it really shocks me how insane a proposition that is. Yet, it’s also insane that two governors have declared states of emergency. I feel insane; I definitely do. Does anyone else get the feeling that the influx is a veritable invasion? I do feel like perhaps I’m overreacting, but then I think about history. Let’s put it this way: How do you think Texas became a state? I’m not letting Mexico steal any stars from our flag.

The Still Sleeping Giant

Imagine a world where the American people had not come together after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Imagine a world where the isolationists accused President Roosevelt of being behind the attacks in order to join the war. Imagine a world where the head of the Republican Party didn’t denounce these claims. Imagine a world where many Americans believed President Roosevelt was constantly exploiting Pearl Harbor for political gain.

Imagine a world where the American people were more concerned about understanding the Japanese enemy instead of being angered. Imagine a world where many Americans believed the Japanese were justified in their attack on America. Imagine a world where the press said that responding to Pearl Harbor will only increase Japanese hatred of America.

Imagine a world where Congress had decided to consult the world community before declaring war. Imagine a world where Congress declared less than total war on Japan and didn’t demand unconditional surrender.

Imagine a world where many Americans didn’t believe Japan posed a big enough threat to our freedoms. Imagine a world where the Republican Party wished to return to pre-Pearl Harbor politics. Imagine a world where the Republican Party believed Pearl Harbor was just a distraction from domestic issues.

Imagine a world where the movie stars, role models for many people, hated America. Imagine a world where the press constantly portrayed American progress as negative. Imagine a world where the press emphasized the Americans dead in each battle. Imagine a world where the pundits insisted that this was a war we couldn’t win. Imagine a world where the pundits said the Japanese will never surrender and that we should stop fighting.

Imagine a world where a sleeping giant was never awoken, but simply rolled over and went back to sleep.

Remember. Remember December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy. Remember a nation, and a generation, which rose to the challenge.

God and MySpace

Just got this bulletin from MySpace:

“Jesus. I. love. you. and. I. need. you. Repost this within 5 minutes and title it: MY PARTY. A miracle will happen tonight. P.S. Do not ignore *God works in mysterious ways*”

This just in, being God’s friend on MySpace is requirement for getting into heaven. In addition, being Jesus’s friend on MySpace is an acceptable alternative to accepting him as your savior. This too: If you leave a cool picture comment for St. Peter, he’ll put in a good word for you with the G-man.

My goodness, God does work in some mysterious ways.

P.S. Don’t ever break a chain letter that God sends out. He’ll smite you.

Our Grievances

What this school, Johns Hopkins University, needs is some sort of system to address student grievances. All the time, we are left out of the loop. They think they are addressing are our needs, but as the bathroom locks show, they are clueless. They didn’t even inform us about the bathroom locks. We should’ve received an e-mail about it beforehand.

Terrace food court (cafeteria) at least attempts this. They have a Comment Board. You write comments, stick it on the board, and they reply. Unfortunately, if we want to leave any other type of complaint, it’s impossibly complicated. I think we have to call security if we want something cleaned in the wee hours of the night. Even then, you’re lucky if it gets cleaned. And if it doesn’t get cleaned, who can you complain to?

I guess you can complain to RAB, the Resident Advisory Board, but that’s very inefficient. RAB meets only once a week. RAB ain’t exactly a very transparent institution, either. They tell us, “We’re working on it,” but I tend to distrust them. They didn’t fix the shower curtains. They kept talking and talking, and then when I finally put out my news-letter, and got some attention, then some stuff got done.

What we need is something transparent and easy to use. Something that’s available 24 hours. What we don’t need is another giant level of bureaucracy. Luckily, in these modern times, we have just the tool to implement such a system of addressing student grievances: the Internet. They could design one site for the purpose of addressing student grievances, and easily aggregate all the services, so students know what to do. So we don’t have to go through layers and layers, our RA, RAB, etc, etc. Because if Johns Hopkins really cared about the students, they’d let the students speak. They’d let us directly address our grievances.

How else am I going to tell MegaBytes that I can order “no tomato” on their specialty menu? This way, we can know if a problem is being looked at. We can know if anyone has raised this issue before. We can get an estimated date for resolution. It’s transparent and holds people accountable.

Of course, I doubt even this simple solution can be implemented when it takes them 3 weeks to even replace disgusting shower curtains. Fuck you, Johns Hopkins.

The Damn Bathroom Locks

We have locks on our bathroom doors. To get inside of the bathroom, you have to bring your key. Obviously, this is more than inconvenient.

The bathroom locks piss me off so I’ve created a petition to state that we students wish that they be removed. My goal is to get everyone in AMR II to sign, and I’ve already got over 100 signatures.

Below is the text of the petition:

“The locks on the bathroom doors are an unnecessary layer of security. We already have a security gate with a security guard, and then a keycard is required to get inside our house. It is highly improbable that anyone would break through these layers of security in order to hide in a bathroom.

It is an unnecessary hassle to have to unlock the bathroom door in order to use it, for ourselves and especially any guests. Anyone visiting from Building A, Building B, Wolman, McCoy, or from a different AMR, is unable to use the restroom without borrowing a key — even during posted visiting hours. In addition, if anyone has to vomit, it is difficult to unlock the door in time. This kind of clean-up puts an undue burden on our janitorial staff.

We understand that they were added in response to the wants of students from last year, but they do not live here anymore. They did not have the security measures that make the locks unnecessary. The needs of the students currently living in the AMRs should be responded to first.

In conclusion, the trade-off between any minimal security the locks add and our inconvenience is not worth it.

To replace the doorknobs would require money, but to disable the locking mechanisms would have practically no cost.

We, the undersigned, ask that the locks on the bathroom doors in AMR I and II be disabled.”

That’s right, fuck you, Johns Hopkins. Security is our number one priority, my ass. Security theater is your damn number one priority. This doesn’t make anyone safer, you wasted a whole lot of money for no reason, and you know it.