Monthly Archives: September 2008


Palin is not qualified to be Vice President. I keep coming back to this exchange from her interview with Katie Couric:

Couric: When President Bush ran for office, he opposed nation-building. But he has spent, as you know, much of his presidency promoting democracy around the world. What lessons have you learned from Iraq? And how specifically will you try to spread democracy throughout the world?

Palin: Specifically, we will make every effort possible to help spread democracy for those who desire freedom, independence, tolerance, respect for equality. That is the whole goal here in fighting terrorism also. It’s not just to keep the people safe, but to be able to usher in democratic values and ideals around this, around the world.

Specifically, I’m going to be very general. The problem is not this exchange by itself. The problem is that every question is answered this way. She has no credibility in foreign policy.

Honestly, her answers do more than reveal her inadequacy. They are an all-out assault on the English language. She strings together meaningless cliches and right-wing talking points. Read that answer again. It means absolutely nothing. The purpose of her words is to obscure the nothingness that lies behind them. Hideous.

I Procrastinate

I procrastinate. Every once in a while, it catches up to me, and I get completely owned by an assignment. I see this as my natural comeuppance, or karmic consequences. It’s a lesson; I vow never to procrastinate again. Inevitably, this vow results in nothing.

Here I am again.

The Human Condition

[What follows is an unstructured reflection on the human condition. I have not edited the paragraph structure.]

This is the human condition: To rebel. To live this most miserable life, where we are specks upon specks upon specks, where nothing we do really matters, and yet we enjoy life anyway. The point of life is to tell this indifferent universe that we do care. The greatest joke the universe plays on us is that we exist; the greatest joke we play on the universe is that we live anyway.

This human universe of meaning can only be found in the act of doing. To sit and contemplate will leave you in the indifferent universe. You will find no truth in meditation or prayer. This only cuts you off from the human universe and leaves you with the tricks of your own mind. The human universe is the realm of other people. This is where we find love, fun, and yes, sorrow. Because the human condition doesn’t mean we are pleasure-seeking machines.

Even though the universe has no meaning, the fundamental unit of the human universe is “meaning.” Does meaning exist? In the grand scheme of things, your loves mean nothing, but at the very moment, your children, your friends, your family, your partner, your crafts… all of them mean everything. Even upon reflection, within your lifetime, they still mean everything. Yes, meaning exists. Where do we find it, though?

Love, real love, though, isn’t pure happiness. To take care of children is a Herculean struggle. We don’t find meaning in the moments of pure bliss. Pure bliss is emptiness. That’s why I spit on your heaven, and spit on your nirvana. The true meaning of life can only be found in human struggle. When we love a craft, we must struggle and suffer to achieve a level of mastery. Without the struggle, there is no happiness. It’s empty. That which we can achieve with no effort is empty. We find meaning in both the happiness and sorrows of life.

It is rebellion that defines the human being. The universe tells us that our struggles mean nothing. What does a man gain from all the toil at which he toils under the sun? We gain nothing, except the toil itself. We must tell the universe that the struggle is where we find our meaning. We must constantly create our own meaning in this meaningless universe, and the only meaning to be found is within human activity.

I understand it better, that myth of Sisyphus. What is the human condition? When Sisyphus pushes that rock up the mountain and it falls, everything seems to be for naught. Yet when he struggles with all his might to push that rock up, he rebels against the universe. Sisyphus is condemned to a meaningless existence. But how can one be condemned if one exists at all? To exist is to be granted the ability to rebel against meaninglessness. To toil is to find meaning.

The myth is incomplete, as all myths are. In the human world, we find humans interacting with other humans. A real Sisyphus would go mad. He would be alone. But perhaps if there were another Sisyphus, struggling alongside him, then they could both find meaning.

If you were the only human alive, you could not prove it. You only exist in your own mind. Whatever you do, does not really matter. When you shout at the universe, it does not hear you. It does not answer back. It is only other people who can hear you. Any theory or ideology cannot prove itself. It is only when you transcend it that you can see if it makes any sense. Similarly, no human can prove her own existence. She must interact with other humans to prove that she exists. Living is the greatest act of rebellion against the universe, and it can only be proved when other people are around. All our toils mean nothing when there is no one to share them with.

No, maybe living itself isn’t enough. We all live, and yet it seems like a lot of us sleepwalk through life. We are caught in the same patterns. When we are locked in these patterns, life loses its meaning. We become like unthinking particles. We do not rebel and we do not live. It must mean that only by shaking things up that we truly live, right? We only exist when we can prove that we exist. We can only prove that we exist by showing others that we are alive, that we can do things.

What I mean to say that there is always the danger of indifference. When we are indifferent, we are no longer human. Where there is indifference, there is no meaning. We are like the meaningless universe. It is only when we care that we can find meaning. Yet to care requires more than just a thought. It requires hard work. Caring means struggling. Caring means rebellion. This is why we find meaning within rebellion, because we can only care when we rebel against the indifferent universe. The toil of caring also, from what we have found in the past, means that we will find heartbreak and sorrow. These things are inescapable, and therefore also bound up within the notion of caring. You can’t care without being bound up in our human imperfections. Thus, we find meaning also in our sorrows. In the end, we prove that we are alive by caring, or by loving, if you prefer that word.

Yes, the human condition is to struggle to care in an indifferent universe. I hate to sum it up in one sentence because to be human is to encompass so many other notions. However, this seems to be a big part of my interpretation of human existence.

Quote of the Day

“Because you know what irks me the most about it? Not that they’re lying; lying can always be forgiven; lying is a fine thing, because it leads to the truth. No, what irks me is that they lie and then worship their own lies.” — Razumikhin, in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

I think this applies to a certain John McCain and his campaign.

Living on the floor

Last week, I lived on the floor, and I quite enjoyed it. When I moved into my new apartment, I had nothing. No, I didn’t have nothing. I don’t purport to know what poverty feels like; I just want to relate an experience. I did have things. I had everything in my luggage. I had clean clothes, a laptop, and a Wii. Yet the apartment was devoid of furnishments. The bathroom had a broken set of blinds.

It wasn’t until later in the day when I had really had things. My roommate and I picked up our things from storage. We had no car, so we wheeled heavy boxes over half a mile to the apartment. Then, we called up his friend who had a car. He helped us carry the TV and table, and then he helped us pick up my roommate’s things which he had kept at his friend’s place where he was crashing.

So we had things in boxes. But nothing else. Unpacking was sort of a futile exercise, when there was nowhere to put your things except the floor.

We had a TV yes, but no cable. More importantly, we had no electricity for several days. We had to steal electricity from our neighbors in order to charge our laptops and phones. We had to stumble in the darkness with only flashlights to guide the way.

It should’ve sucked, but it didn’t. Aside from the inconvenience of having to charge things, it wasn’t so bad. I could still read in the darkness. I could still work on my laptop in the darkness. I had to steal wireless internet from an insecure connection. The signal was weak and it would give out. Honestly, the whole ordeal was kind of fun. I felt like an explorer in my own home.

The best part was sleeping on the floor. Granted, I did not sleep on the floor proper. I didn’t own a sleeping bag, but I had a few sheets under me. I only recall one night of bad sleep. Other than that, I had no trouble sleeping on the floor.

I don’t know why, but there’s something deeply satisfying about not having too many things. For some reason, sleeping on the floor made me feel like a more disciplined person.

Now I not only have electricity, but cable, a chair, a table, my Wii set up, a couch, a kitchen table, and a mattress. I already feel like this is too much. It weighs me down. And now that I am more comfortable, I find myself wasting too much time on the internet and TV again.

Whenever people ask, “Why don’t you have X,” I enjoy denouncing their bourgeois tendencies. Air conditioner? Who needs that! Bookshelf? Who needs that!

I don’t need any of that. I don’t even need a bed, if it comes to that again.

McCain will touch your children

If Obama were to go tit for tat with McCain’s Education ad:

John McCain just put out an ad criticizing Barack Obama on sex education.

Play clip of McCain ad:
Obama’s one accomplishment? Legislation to teach ‘comprehensive sex education’ to kindergartners. Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family.

But here’s what John McCain didn’t tell you. This valuable legislation protects kindergartners from sexual predators, teaching them the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.
Do you want a candidate who protects your children, or who protects sexual predators?
John McCain. He’ll touch your children at night.

Original ad:

Cable Box Broken

Our cable box is broken and this has upset me more than when we didn’t even have electricity. And I can still get cable tv if I bypass the box. I suppose it’s human nature to be more upset about losing something that you have rather than not having something at all. We overvalue what we already have.

Still, it is very surprising that this would upset me so much. I think I just love TV much.

Call for Change? I Call Shenanigans

As I walked to get some lunch, I got a glance at the Baltimore Sun’s headline story. “Call for Change,” it said, in big bold letters, showing a picture of McCain underneath.

I wondered, How can anyone take this seriously? You Republicans do realize that you’ve been in power for pretty much the last 8 years, right? You’ve held the presidency since 2001, and you’ve had a majority in Congress since before then. You only completely lost that majority in 2006. You’ve spent all the time since in filibuster mode, all the while decrying a “do-nothing Congress.” You’re the ones doing nothing. You’re the ones who did nothing when Iraq was going to hell; you’re the ones who did nothing when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Your party is proudly incompetent. And yet your recipe for change is four more years.

To illustrate how absurd this is, how can we have John Sidney McCain III decrying Washington insiders? McCain has been in the Senate LONGER THAN I’VE FUCKING BEEN ALIVE. He’s been in the Senate since 1986, and I was born in 1987. He was also elected to the House in 1982. But it’s not like he lived a quiet life in Arizona beforehand. No, he was a carpetbagger. John McCain is a creature of Washington.

My friends, that’s not change we can believe in. A call for change? I call shenanigans.