Category Archives: Me


It’s amazing being back home, with nothing hanging over my head. I hung out with my cousins and laughed harder than I had in a long time. I was crying, and I had a cramp the next day — all from laughing. I met a new person who does a lot of stuff with music, and connected him with another one of my musician friends. I played basketball, which was more physical activity than I’d done in a long time. Socially, physically, emotionally, I feel better about myself. Overall, life feels better.

There’s a part of me that is missing, but that’s a good thing. It feels as if a lot of bitterness has just melted away. My life felt useless at Hopkins; I hated writing essays and doing schoolwork. I will never go back to the academic life.

The only thing I will miss from Hopkins is some people, but I will make sure to stay in contact with them.

I put my entire life in a holding pattern during school, I realized. Now, there are all these things I can do, and there’s nothing holding me back. I’m out of excuses, and I’m in a better setting.

One thing I will have to do is make sure I create enough time for myself. Well, I have enough time, but I have to make sure I spend that time more wisely. It’s good to be happy, but I have to be sure I’m always moving forward.

Brick by Brick

I picked up Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less and have decided to try out the advice. I created a list of projects that I would like to do. Out of those, I chose only three to focus on. It was difficult to only choose three. There are so many projects that excite me and others that would be really nice to get done. By picking three, it forced me to pick the ones that were more important. For example, I listed some substantial blog entries I wanted to do for the TCM blog. Instead of working on those, I decided to go for the goal of building up a 1 week buffer (3 comics), which would allow me to reintroduce the TWC incentives. Since my goal is to get TCM to #1, I decided this step would be a better investment of my time.

There are several things I want to change about myself. Those “Iron Laws” I wanted to make were all about disciplining myself. (Many are written down, but they’re are not on this blog.) Babauta advises focusing on one habit at a time. I’m going to abandon my old plan of listing a bunch of laws and trying to follow then. Instead, I will work on one habit at a time. The first habit will be to write down my three Most Important Tasks in the morning. There are other things Baubata talks about with listing tasks, but for now, I just want to make sure I write them down. I’m starting small.

Another Year, Another Revolution

I re-read my entire notebook for this year. I suppose I should call it a journal or a diary, but it’s less about logging my life and more about logging my notes. Semantics aside, I highly recommend keeping a journal. As Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Re-reading the notebook, which began in mid-December of 2007, allowed me to enter a state of hyper-self-awareness. I know who I am, and I know where I’ve been.

It was interesting seeing how I was an emotional wreck during April and then pulled myself out of it through asserting my agency, or focusing on what I could control.

The main theme of 2008 was “positivity.” I forced myself to focus on the positive rather than the negative. If I wanted to improve myself, I had to focus on what I did well, rather than what I did wrong. In addition, if problems arose, I had to force myself to ask, “What’s the solution?” Besides “positivity,” the other key phrase I kept seeing pop up was “solution-oriented.” Because of my focus on these related concepts, I believe I am now a better person than I was at the beginning of 2008. In fact, reading through the entries, the me of January 2008 seems like a completely different person. This is akin to reading weblog entries from several years ago; my mind used to work in a completely different fashion. My worldview at the end of the year is way different. I suppose this isn’t unsurprising for a 21 year old to change like that, but I like this version of myself way better.

I know that being an optimist does not come naturally to me. I was not born an optimist, and I was rather pessimistic at the beginning of 2007 (worried about war with Iran). I thought it would be a bad year. I was more positive at the beginning of 2008, but now the habit of positivity has been strengthened.

I learned something about “habit.” I used to throw the word around, but I didn’t really know what it meant. A habit is something that requires active management. It’s not that I have this permanent habit of positivity. I have to recommit to being a positive, solution-oriented person each and every day.

One of my resolutions was to read at least 50 books on the year. I accomplished that. I’ll give you all the list later. I’m proud of the reading that I’ve done, mostly because I’ve learned a lot from the books I’ve read. They’ve helped improve my life and my life-philosophy.

I wanted to accomplish a lot for 2008, whatever that means. I wanted concrete achievements. I once again slipped with The Chalkboard Manifesto. I mean, I updated way more consistently and started the blog, but I don’t have any profits or merchandise. It’s disappointing, but I won’t dwell on it.

Honestly, I’d much rather have what I do now than a little extra cash or popularity. I don’t really know how to explain what this “it” is. It’s a whole different way of thinking. It’s my different patterns of thought. It’s my more confident demeanor. It’s my optimism. It’s my commitment to self-improvement. It took a year to build. It took a year of great gains and big back-slides. It took a year of tiny steps backward and tiny steps forward. The end result was a revolution.

I’ll be busy over the next few days, so I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to write what I want to do for 2009. So I’m just going to write what I can now.

For some reason, I like to name my years. I’m not quite sure when this started. Some years it’s more helpful than others. For 2009, I’m christening it the Year of Discipline. I will develop an evolving list of “Iron Laws,” which I will follow in order to make myself a more virtuous person. My conception of “virtue” extends beyond ethics. I’m going to make myself a more excellent human being. I am committed to being a better, more disciplined person by the end of the year.

I do have concerns about being too robotic. But this year, I want to make a point to take myself a little more seriously than normal. A little less of the absurd attitude. In writing, it’s better to learn and master the rules before you begin breaking them. With ethical precepts, you should first have a good moral compass before you break with certain ethical commands for a greater good. This year I err on the side of discipline rather than freedom.

The initial list will be called the “Iron Laws.” This is meant to evoke an image of them being unyielding and rigid. I’m kind of following Gracian’s idea to “let your own dictates be stricter than the precepts of any law” (aphorism 6). I’ll take this metaphor a little futher. The laws are more like swords than chains. As I smash these laws up against reality, they will chip and some will break. So although there will be discipline, I’ll still be testing and these “laws” will evolve through time — hey, kind of like real laws. The point, at first, is just to get a list started. You can’t edit what you don’t have written down, after all.

I’m also considering a list of “exercises.” I want to improve my writing and speech-making. I’ll have to commit to daily/weekly activities in order to get the necessary practice time.

I also have two resolutions which I shall not share with anyone, at this point in time.

Today is not the revolution. In fact, I won’t be able to point to a bloody day of revolution. It’ll be like 2008 with the leaps forward and backward slides. But by the end of the year, I will be a completely different person than the one who is currently writing this entry. I will be more disciplined and more virtuous, while retaining my positivity.


I keep telling myself I need to write something here in this weblog, and everytime I pull up the weblog I draw a blank. So I’m just going to write various things that come to mind. This coming week should be hellish. I basically have two big essays due next Monday. Blah, blah, who cares?

I’m really sick of my writing now, in terms of sentence structure. I need to do some exercises where I vary my sentence structure.

I’m working on changing some things about myself, and I also think I need to re-brand my online identity. I want to get a new name for this weblog. I wouldn’t delete this. In fact, I’d probably try to migrate all the old entries over to the new site. Okay, so maybe I would eventually let this domain expire, but I’d keep all the old entries. I did let expire. By the way, most of the stuff is up at

Yeah, change certain things about myself is very vague. I guess I want to be purposely vague because I’m not sure how I want to change, or if any of these experiments will work out. I do want to work on the various skills that would make me a successful politician. If you know any politicians, you should tell me. I want to ask them: “What is the most important skill to have in order to become a successful politician? Where and how can I get this skill?”

I recently read a book called Talent is Overrated. Interestly, my friend thought I was reading Gladwell’s new book Outliers. I’m not the biggest fan of Gladwell. He’s a fantastic writer, and I really admire the way he puts together anecdotes. However, I felt like Blink was mostly fluff. When it comes to non-fiction, I tend to like stuff that’s practical and can improve my everyday life. (My definition of practical probably is still more abstract than many people.) Hence why I picked up Talent is Overrated instead of Outliers when I was stuck in Chicago waiting for my delayed connecting flight. It devotes a lot to describing the process of deliberate practice. I should enumerate these but I’m rather tired so perhaps I’ll stop writing now. Or not.

I’m over 50 books on the year now. So I’ll have read more than 1 book a week by the end of the year. That’s not bad. That includes school books, but that’s so totally not cheating. I read way more during the summer than during the school year. Plus, I don’t think you can not count stuff like Crime and Punishment.

I need to become more versed in policy. I need to become an expert in some type of field. I realized that I’m pretty damn ignorant about a lot of things. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. At least I can recognize when I’m just spouting off, unlike the talking heads on cable news. I’m thinking energy policy is something good to look into. I recently read a book by a husband and wife team that seemed like a good primer on the issues. I don’t think it had enough math or science. I can understand that you’d want to make it accessible, and I think that was my original intention when I picked it up — that is, to find something easy to read for someone who doesn’t know much. Well, now I’m primed, and now I need to learn more. Plus, it was really big on biofuels (not corn).

What will be the biggest issues over the next 10 years? The next 50 years?

Okay, that’s enough unedited rambling. That should help me get back into the swing of things. Of course, weblogging is kind of about being unedited. Still, I need to be a good writer in general, not just a blogger. (No offense to blogging, but I need to augment my writing skills beyond blogging.)

No wait, one last comment. I can be pretty vicious when I criticize people’s arguments or writing. If I can apply this same standard to myself, then I’ll be a damn good writer.

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.

To Baltimore

I’m going back to school tomorrow, and I don’t really have everything straightened out. I probably won’t be blogging for at least a week until things settle down. I’ll try to steal internet access and if not then I have the library.

Chalkboard Manifesto will continue to be updated as normal.

EDIT: Also, I would like to make a comment about my going back to Baltimore:

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck

A Light Month

After some very productive months blog-wise, I slowed down quite a bit this month. As always, there’s always a multiplicity of factors, a plethora of excuses I could drag out: work, vacations, reading, poor blogging environment, etcetera.

I really got bogged down with that ambitious project of reviewing every damn book I read. This month was a bad month for reading because I found it hard to wade through Guns, Germs, and Steel, but I still managed to finish 7 books. I don’t know if I care enough to blog about every single one. However, I still want to write because it helps me learn.

Anyway, since work has ended, I’ve felt a little bit lost. I need to re-examine things in my life and make new commitments.

My Absence

My absence can be explained by the fact that I’ve just returned to California, and I’ve been very busy with the people I love — both friends and family. Regular blogging resumes tomorrow, in the form of some book reports I’ve yet to do. I’m about three books behind.

However, I will be trying to limit my internet and TV time for the rest of this week. That means I won’t be checking any blogs or news sites. All my news will be from the newspaper, except when I’m glued to the tube on Tuesday. I’ve got a very bad internet habit, and it needs to be broken. So, my political commentary won’t be as extensive for the rest of this week.

UPDATE: Complete failure. Still addicted to the internets, and still writing political commentary. And it’s only Wednesday.

After Politics

I don’t plan on doing one thing all my life. During one phase of my life, I will devote myself to politics. After politics, I want to devote my life to science.

Book Reports and Updating the Blog Roll

I’ve decided that I’m not reading right. So, I’ve made it a rule that after I finish reading a book, I have to do a book report of sorts. I’ll post it on the blog. It may be a summary, writing what I’ve learned, connecting it to something, listing my favorite quotes, or some combination of the above.

I also need to update the blogroll. I’m going to list all the new links and why I read them.

Friends Trump News

I am looking forward to listening to Obama’s speech on race, but I haven’t yet. I have many friends — and family! — and only a limited amount of time to see them. Friends trump the news. I will comment when I have the time, which most likely won’t be anytime today.

So Frazzled

When I met my friend for lunch today, she asked how I was and I replied, “Frazzled.” It’s been a crazy week. I spent all of Sunday working on code for my programming class. It’s generally not a good idea to cram a week’s worth of work into one day. Then, on Monday I got Brawl for the Wii. My roommate and I stayed up all night playing it. The next day, I had to study for a test. Of course, at that point, the program was crashing with my test programs. It was a frustrating night where I spent several hours on what I eventually fixed with adding only one line of code!

Anyway, how is this relevant to you, my dear reader? Two things. One: This is why I’m behind one entry in my goal for 31 posts in March. Many sleepless nights will do that. Two: The hunt and peck method may not be the most efficient way to solve your problems, especially programming. Unfortunately, life does not come with a debugger.

By the way, Obama won Mississippi, but it does not count as a win because it has too many black people and it is not a “big” state where Clinton runs against uncommitted.

My Idea of the Presidency From Several Years Ago

I found this in an old notebook of mine and thought it intriguing in the context of the presidential race today.

My goal as president will not be to control, but to inspire. The greatest leaders are the greatest servants. Ultimately, I serve the greater good, I serve the people. This is not for myself, but to create a climate that will inspire others to serve. Government cannot do everything. Hence, the importance of inspiration in the private sector and in communities. That is my ultimate goal as president. (Listened to Bush’s speech today at Calvin college in Michigan.)

Sometimes I look back at old things and wonder how the hell I wrote that. Sometimes I look back at old things and smile at how familiar it all is. Like now. My receptivity to Obama’s approach to the presidency doesn’t seem so out-of-left field when you see this. This is especially true when you tell people that I was president of the College Republicans and now I’m an Obama supporter.

Now I do think Obama probably trusts the federal government to do more than I do. Yet Obama doesn’t talk the same talk as the more aristocratic Democrats, who believe people are too stupid to know what they want.

I am inspired, and I think it is part of the job of the president to inspire.

A Clean Room

I cleaned my room today. It’s amazing how the external act of cleaning does wonders for one’s internal world as well. My mind feels less cluttered.

I remember when I was working last summer and every morning I cleaned my desk and prepared a list of things to do for the day. This simple act did wonders for my productivity. I began each day fresh.

It would be good to start that again, provided I could get myself to wake up in the morning.

Wedding Today

Later today, I’m going to my cousin’s wedding. So, I’m blogging right now after a night out with some of my friends. I’m truly blessed (in a secular way — so, extremely lucky) to have such great friends, and I think tomorrow I’ll be reminded about how great my extended family is.

Good night.

No, I Don’t See

I am completely fascinated by how differently people operate. This post, Overstimulation, that I chanced upon totally drew me in. So, in this same vein, I’m going to write about a weird quirk I have.

I often hear people complain about how the movie characters never look like how they imagined them while reading the book. I have never had this problem. “Ah, what a remarkable coincidence! They always look like how you imagine them!” you probably won’t guess. In fact, the reason I don’t have this problem is because I never imagine these characters in the first place.

While others may say that when they read, they see a movie in their mind’s eye, I see nothing. I can’t even imagine seeing a movie whilst I read. Wouldn’t that be distracting?

Descriptions tend to be essentially skipped over. I mean, I’ll read it, but it won’t register. If the character has a peculiar physical flaw, like a missing hand, I’ll make a mental note of it, and I’ll remember it when it is necessary. I can perfectly process the information in an abstract way. However, I won’t be creating a mental image of a one-handed man.

When I write, I create character descriptions out of obligation. I don’t need to imagine the way they look.

Am I deficient in visualization skills? I don’t think so, but I don’t know how you really measure these things. If you gave me pictures of blocks, I could probably put them together in my head better than the average person. With a little training, I doubt I would have trouble remembering small details in pictures. My drawing is horrible, but that’s because I never bothered developing that skill. I don’t have the talent to become an amazing artist, but that doesn’t mean I can’t become mediocre.

Another thing, which may be related: Gruff voices and high voices don’t exist when I read quotations. However, this could be a side effect of sub-vocalization. And when I read too fast for sub-vocalization, of course there won’t be any voices. Yet I don’t think I’ve heard anyone complain about how the character sounds so different from how they imagined it.

I think it’s just the way I read and not some weird type of visualization-blindness. The way you probably read a boring text book is the same way I read a novel.

How do you read?

A Hidden Assumption

You know what? I just realized that I have always assumed that politics and my real self would never actually mix. I had just assumed that honesty and politics were mutually exclusive. Maybe it’s true on some level, in this poisoned political environment.

But the disgusting rhetoric and outright lies are threatening to destroy the republic.  For politics, the truth is now more necessary than ever.

If I truly wish to devote myself to country, then I must also devote myself to truth. So if you ever catch me not being truthful, remind me of this.

Descent into Pseudonymity

I’m about to start working, so lately I’ve been frightened about the prospect of people finding me on the internets. Luckily, I share the name of some Christian singer guy, but this weblog still shows up on the second page when you google my name. I don’t want to watch what I say on this weblog; I don’t want to manage my image at this young an age. I want to be as crass as I fucking want on The Chalkboard Manifesto — and I reserve the right to be offensive to anyone.

This could also be a problem if I decide to become a public figure of some sort. One cannot help but be a moron at 20 years old, and I do not want those moronic things preserved on the internets for all to see. A simple slip of judgment can be a disaster.

Things I have said can be easily taken out of context, especially when that context can sometimes be my entire life (or my personal growth during my teenage years.) I believe that people are smart enough to recognize context, but they have to be given that context in the first place. I won’t be able to defend myself.

Of course, certain public persons have recovered from much worse than I can ever do, but I do not have the skills to attempt such a recovery.

So maybe it’s best if I become anonymous, so I can do what I want to do. Alternatively, I can make this weblog private, but that doesn’t solve the Chalkboard Manifesto problem. Furthermore, there’s still the risk that information will leak out even from a private weblog. Writing under pseudonym will not sate my vanity, but that may be the price of freedom.

I’m undecided whether I should really go anonymous, but I’m certainly leaning in that direction. While it may be a tragedy to possibly erase this weblog from existence, I will at least keep records for myself.

Clean Inbox

Well, I just cleaned out my school e-mail inbox. I feel so clean and uncluttered. Now, I will keep it clean.

Speaking of keeping things clean, I have something totally unrelated to say. I’m going to be hunting for a new moniker over the next few weeks. This may even end up with me getting a new domain or something.

A Thick Skin

If I really want to go into politics some day, one of the hardest things to do will be to develop a thick skin. I’m just going to have to deal with people who will hate my guts, for no good reason. Or maybe even for good reason. That’s just the nature of the beast. There will be tons of people who know essentially nothing about me, only what they’ve heard second-hand from their self-selected filters, but they’ll still find time to hate me. They’ll write nasty things about me and my family. In the public eye, one is subject to intense scrutiny and will be the constant target of satire.

Lincoln was hated so much that the other side went to war when he was elected president. Talk about his bipartisan war-time leadership doesn’t change that.

Thomas Paine, a hero during the Revolution:

“Thomas Paine had passed the legendary limit of life. One by one most of his old friends and acquaintances had deserted him. Maligned on every side, execrated, shunned and abhorred — his virtues denounced as vices — his services forgotten — his character blackened, he preserved the poise and balance of his soul. He was a victim of the people, but his convictions remained unshaken. He was still a soldier in the army of freedom, and still tried to enlighten and civilize those who were impatiently waiting for his death, Even those who loved their enemies hated him, their friend — the friend of the whole world — with all their hearts. On the 8th of June, 1809, death came — Death, almost his only friend. At his funeral no pomp, no pageantry, no civic procession, no military display. In a carriage, a woman and her son who had lived on the bounty of the dead — on horseback, a Quaker, the humanity of whose heart dominated the creed of his head — and, following on foot, two negroes filled with gratitude — constituted the funeral cortege of Thomas Paine.” — Ingersoll (found link via Wikipedia).

… alright, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about being Thomas Paine…

Anyway, I’ll just have to learn to take certain criticisms in stride while also not being completely immune to all criticism.

Also, I fucking hate high-minded, self-righteous opponents. If I can’t disarm them with an initial charm attack, I’ll forceably knock them off that high horse. Okay, or I’ll just take it all in stride.

Perhaps that’s where my absurdist views come in handy. If everything is meaningless, then surely I can realize that little events are essentially meaningless, and I can take them in stride.

All I can do is live my life with as much integrity and civility as possible. In fact, the greatest victory would be for the general opinion of my detractors to be: “I hate him, but I don’t hate him. Do you know what I mean?”

Snow Gods

The snow gods are displeased. It has stopped snowing and now we only have light, light rain, when we were supposed to get freezing rain. Looks like I’m going to be up all night working on my essay.

Entering 20 and Leaving 20

I take time to step back from the world as it is and imagine what it could be. What will guide me as I enter the third decade of my life? It is time to imagine abstractly at first and then build and revise later. There are two broad issues I want to touch on: politics and religion.

The way the world works is changing. We live on shifting ground. I think Thomas Friedman makes an excellent case that we’ve entered a new phase of globalization and the world is “flatter,” so to speak. America, still licking her wounds from 9/11, is struggling to adapt to a new, more dangerous world. But the world has shifted, and bigger shifts are still to come, in both the realm of economics and foreign policy. The Bush Doctrine, neoconservatism, and compassionate conservatism have utterly failed. We’ve been in the middle of a new religious awakening, but with the decline of the Bush administration, I see the pendulum beginning to swing back towards secularism. Before, I’ve said that I see tectonic shifts coming within domestic politics, but I haven’t figured out what those shifts will entail. Now, I am beginning to think that I should not simply sit back and stake my position based on the wreckage. I should jump up and down and help shake the world up. This is not a profoundly conservative position; I should be preserving the old order, should I not? But the ground is shifting. We must adapt.

The lense with which I see this shift coming is envisioning a paradigm shift based on the turn of the century. The old battles of the 20th century are still being fought, leaving us blind to the new challenges. What I envision is a new conservatism, a different kind of philosophy, adapted for the 21st century, but no further. I do not plan to build a lasting edifice. I plan on building something that can guide us through these next 100 years, perhaps through our battle with radical Islam and their fellow agents of chaos.

The republic is large and will be guided by gridlock. Luckily, we have these laboratories of democracy called states. Federalism will play a larger role as we enter this new century, but I also see more shifts happening on a more local level. Technology will be a catalyst, but the results will be paradoxical. As the internet brings us together, it will push us further apart. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Local papers use to be more local. The internet will allow us to connect better with our own immediate communities, but we can only process so much information. This cost will come at the expense of our national identity. Somehow, we need to figure out how to maintain our unity, but as we become more individualistic, it does not mean we will become separated. The communication between states does not need to be top-down. Successful policies will spread like a contagion, rather than coming from the speeches of grandiose utopian presidents trying to please everyone. Even I, who is so involved in politics, has no idea about the workings of my state government. When the paradigm shift comes, everyone will know more about their state governments.

I’m definitely not a libertarian. I want the federal government to keep its clumsy tentacles away, but I want the nimble fingers of more local government to be in more issues. In general, I am optimistic about government. I break with Newt Gingrich. I don’t want government to become more like business. The slow process, the gridlock, is not a bug; it’s a feature. It’s to prevent far-reaching change from being enacted in haste. I break with Ronald Reagan. Government isn’t the problem.

Schools will need to change. Education will be revolutionized. Learning will be connected to the community. Instead of the continuous present that it now exists in, it will be linked with the past. (I wish I remembered who it was who wrote those papers my sister showed me, where I am taking some ideas about education.) Children will be given the flexibility to learn what interests them, but still learn the basics. Children are actually much smarter than you think, and if we make school lesson boring, they will learn at rates we think unimaginable. If left off the track, I would undoubtedly have done higher math before even reaching high school. The government-financed scam that leaves poor people out of jobs, also known as undergraduate education, will have to adapt as well.

America changes her stance to the world. We are not the world’s police, nor the world’s baby-sitting. It is not our job to midwife democracy. Democracy almost always comes from within. We can facilitate this change, but we cannot do it via empire. We need to engage the world. This is not soft diplomacy. This is hard diplomacy. We need to focus more on the Western Hemisphere before radical Islam places its dirty roots in Latin America. America needs to reclaim her soul. She needs to reclaim her values, but more importantly, she needs to reveal her inner workings. The mechanics of our government, the basic pragmatic institutions and principles, should be exported. They will prove infinitely more useful to other cultures than an imposition of our traditional “liberal” values. Of course, we cannot do this without first renouncing torture.

Social security and its ilk are not solvent. Health coverage isn’t actually insurance; it’s subsidizing a service. We will not solve these problems on the federal level. They are complex issues; I have no simple solutions; and the predictive power of even the best policy wonks may still have vast, expensive errors. It is better to think smaller. But I’d still like to imagine a different paradigm, where the government does not subsidize all care, but provides disaster insurance for medical emergencies.

Philanthropy will be as robust as the rest of our private sector. Like in that Slate article I read, giving away all your money will be the second half of the American Dream. The values of corporations will change because the values of the people in those corporations will change. They will be more involved in the community, especially in education. Perhaps it’s too utopian a thought, but the government will be able to do less because people will do more.

These are the inklings of my new political paradigm, a paradigm for the 21st century.

As for religion, this will not take place on the public realm. However, I’d like to investigate natural religion as opposed to revealed religion. What counts for me is what I can reason about and what I can experience, even if reason cannot grasp it. Mostly, I’ll try to figure out what God isn’t, rather than what God is. It may even be a “God of the gaps,” but I don’t think this is a bad thing, because those gaps in science are still very large, despite what progress we have made.

I’d like to build a faith for myself.

So now, I enter my 20th year, and leave the 20th century.

Snow Day

School’s closed today.

I think this may be my first snow day ever.

This may sound morbid, but as a child, I used to occasionally wish for earthquakes, so school would be closed.