Category Archives: Unsorted

Too Soon

Something most people don’t know about me is that I’m a pro-wrestling fan. I just wanted to note here that Chris Benoit was one of the greatest. Just the other week I was commenting on how much more enjoyable he was to watch than many other wrestlers out there. So it was shocking to learn that he was dead when he had so many years left in him to entertain us.

The Revolution in our Midst

The world speeds up a little more, Book Not Ready for Print? You Can Whip Up an Audiobook for a Podcast for Now:

“We didn’t break out Champagne because we weren’t selling tens of thousands, but we certainly broke out the sparkling water,” Mr. Sterling said. “We are accustomed to working with product cycles one measures in months, but in this case we were working with a product cycle of days and even hours.”

This is what the future will be like. Breakneck breakthroughs.

The article seems to portray this as a neat little gimmick to help promote book sales, but I think that this incident is indicative of something larger. The world is speeding up. Soon, we will be moving at a frightening, disorienting pace. (If you think we’ve already reached that point, prepare to get even more dizzy.)


Over summer, I think I need to spend more time disconnected from the world. I’ll keep the TV and internet off for the most part. I’ll do a lot of thinking. And writing.

Quote of the Day


“In like manner we are told, that when [Julius Caesar] was in Spain, he bestowed some leisure hours on reading part of the history of Alexander, and was so much affected with it, that he sat pensive a long time, and at last burst into tears. As his friends were wondering what might be the reason, he said, “Do you think I have not sufficient cause for concern, when Alexander, at my age, reigned over so many conquered countries, and I have not one glorious achievement to boast?” — Plutarch’s Lives


The genius contrarian strikes again. Christopher Hitchens with an absolutely brilliant piece on the VTech tragedy.

While I devour many opinion pieces a day (usually in the form of blog entry or op-ed), there is no other author who makes my eyes light up when I see his name next to a piece. I don’t know any other opinion-mongerer who writes with such verve and spirit. He is an excellent, ferocious writer.

I absolutely need to set aside some time to study his writing style.

What We Learned; rambling in the midst of sorrow


Whenever we stare into an unfathomable abyss, the human mind instantly flicks to speculation. A void is intolerable. In the face of unspeakable tragedy, we try to impose reason.

Inevitably, we fail. Some problems are intractable not only because of human nature, but because of the way the world is.

Every time you step outside your home, you put your life at risk. In fact, even if you don’t leave the house, there’s still risk. It’s inevitable.

I remember many, many months ago, in the Bay Area, an unstable man used his car as a weapon, going on a rampage to run over people.

Why? I just can’t fathom how anyone could do this.

What we’ve learned is nothing about gun control or mental illness, or even our own culture.

I’ve read it all and none of it makes sense. They’re trying to impose order when there is none.

Someone will fall between the cracks. Always.

There’s a level of autonomy that all people maintain. You can’t control them. You drive your car as carefully as you can, but odds are, you’ll probably be in at least one accident. We can’t fix everyone; not all killers are psychopaths.

I don’t blame the pundits for their inane ramblings. It’s just human to ask why, and then provide reasons.

But why this happened has nothing to do with the incompetence of anybody or anything, except the killer himself.

People like this exist in the world. It is inevitable. And some of them will be successful in killing other people, even large amounts of others. It is inevitable. We can’t control everyone at all times. Someone will fall between the cracks. Always. No matter what you do, certain human minds will find creative ways to kill others. Bombs. Gas. Guns. Cars. We can’t confiscate everything that will harm people.

Perhaps we could learn something if this were a regular occurence. With repeated experience, we can find patterns and extrapolate. But here, there is no pattern.

If anything, we’ve learned that this is extremely rare. That humans like this are rare people. That the nearly universal response to this tragedy is that it is not only sorrow, but that this is almost unfathomable to most people. We’ve learned that 99.999% of people are not like this.

We always try to draw lessons because we are enraged, but sometimes there are no real lessons to learn. We want to find someone to blame. We want to find something — anything! — that will prevent this tragedy from occurring again. We try to find something that isn’t there.

This is the human condition. There will always be a certain amount of risk inherent in living as a human being among other human beings.

There’s nothing satisfying or comforting about this fact. I’m sorry, but I can’t just sugar coat the truth.

The solace one can find is in the rarety of these people. The solace one can find is the deeper rarety of these events. The solace one can find is that because this is so rare, we need not change our entire ways of life.

What lessons did we learn? Nothing.

At least, in terms of policy, there is nothing to be gleaned.

In this ever increasingly linked world, isolated tragedies become national events. Yet we’ve also reaffirmed the lesson that the interconnected world allows us to share our strength, as well.

So while the pundit-class and the news media are as crass as ever, I find the trade-off worth it, if the victims of a tragedy know that others stand in solidarity with them. Just as I find the trade-offs of the modern world worth it, despite the risks.

We’ll never know why. But at least when we are confronted by the unfathomable void, we stand together in the sorrow and mystery of it all.

What are they teaching us?

What the hell are they teaching us? Apparently, Americans are more educated but getting stupider: (from this article)

The survey found that education was the best predictor of who would do well on the questions. “However,” it said, “despite the fact that education levels have risen dramatically over the past 20 years, public knowledge has not increased accordingly.” About 27 percent of Americans are college graduates.

Look at what people couldn’t answer:

Only 69 percent of people in the latest survey could come up with Dick Cheney when asked to name the vice president; in 1989, 74 percent could name Dan Quayle. Fewer could name the governor of their state (66 percent now compared with 74 percent in 1989) and fewer could name the president of Russia (36 percent now compared with 47 percent before).

And you wonder why so many people don’t even believe in evolution! C’mon, the man shot someone in the face. The least you can do is remember his name.

Hm. Race.

Thought: The pivotal divide in race relations is actually not between any races. It’s between young and old people.

I wrote this down just so I can chew on it. I don’t think it’s right, but I do think younger people are much more enlightened about race issues — young people of all races.

We’ll be able to move forward regarding race when a new guard takes over. For now, we’ll have to deal with the essential silence on the question of race because of fear of the stigma of being a racist.

I don’t mean “move forward” in the way that liberals think of “progress,” just that we’ll reach the next stage when we realize that the next stage isn’t the old stage.

Death to Iran?

Well, at least we don’t do this:

In Iran tens of thousands of football fans reportedly chanted “Death to England” while tourists burnt an effigy of Mr Blair dressed as a pirate.

If I ever were to take up prayer, I would pray for peace more than anything else, but I fear we may be on a collision course, and it is more than just the fevered dreams of the neocons. We must never start a war, but if Ahmedinejad or the mullahs force us into one, we must make it explicit to the Iranian people, from the start, what are goals are. We must not occupy Iran.

If the hammer must fall, we must make sure the American people are united. The only way the American people will be united is if there is proper justification for the war.

If the hammer must fall, the world must be united. We simply cannot risk turning this into a clash of civilizations. We can’t unite the Middle East.

I don’t think war is by any means inevitable, though, and it may require us to swallow some pride to avoid war, but in the long-run, it is not in our interests to go to war. Besides, pride doesn’t win battles.

If indeed certain elements in Iran are hoping to provoke conflict, we must look at what’s in our long-term interest before we take any bait. If these same elements fear diplomatic engagement, then we must continue to pursue diplomatic engagement.

Aggressiveness isn’t the proper response to everything, as anyone with a younger sibling can tell you.

Genocide Marketing

Who is the dimwit who came up with this name for a facebook group: “Invite Your Friends to Make Genocide History in 2007”? I can’t help but snigger every time I see it because I think that you’re being invited to be a part of a genocide. Not that genocide is funny, but it does not really make sense to have a group in favor of genocide. Now, I know that this group is not pro-genocide, but “making genocide history” sounds like you’re trying to break the world record for genocide.

Does anyone else think this group name is ridiculous, or am I just crazy? You can call me crazy, but only if you looked at the title above, “Genocide Marketing,” and immediately thought that it must refer to “Anti-Genocide Marketing.” If the title made you pause and think “what?” for even a millisecond, then you know what my reaction to that facebook group is like.

And now I realize that it’s to make genocide gone, but that seems rather dubious given human nature and their focus only on Darfur. Sometimes, a genocide is a civil war in which one side is winning really badly. But I’d like to see how anyone plans on ending genocide when they’re not intent on military intervention.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that words matter and marketing matters. Everyone who has successfully agitated for change has understood that.

Capital R

I find curious those who feel the need to capitalize “Reason.” Reason is no authority; it is merely a tool. I am informed by both reason and experience. I place a greater emphasis on the latter (because it comes first and reason plays catchup), but I would never feel the need to capitalize it.

Thoughts on a New Paradigm

As I was channel-surfing, I saw Dinesh D’Souza on BookTV, and I decided to listen for a few minutes before settling on watching poker. I don’t have any respect for him after he published his book, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, which seems to be exactly the divisive rhetoric that I’m against. I think he was answering some type of question from a caller. D’souza was talking about Reagan and how Reagan introduced a notion that government is not the solution, it is the problem. The part that intrigued me was he said that after JFK the way to serve the country was to be in the Peace Corp or whatnot, and with Reagan, the entrepreneur was the one to be admired.

Might I introduce the notion of the citizen-entrepreneur as the new paradigm.

After all the corporate scandals, I’m reluctant to just jump on board the conservative/libertarian paradigm. That government should just leave the free market and citizens to do their work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against that — I just want to reframe the problem. Government cannot make us virtuous. It cannot turn us into responsible people. It is our own duty to train ourselves to be virtuous people.

What I want is people in the corporate sphere to be more responsible when dealing with their fellow citizens, and I think that “responsibility” is a value that all sides should agree with. (Well, maybe some hard-core libertarians wouldn’t like it.)

Some people will argue that my thought-experiment makes no sense. A corporation’s primary allegiance should be towards its bottom line.

I may be wrong, but to me that’s like saying “My goal is to get things done.” Well, that can be a good goal, but it raises the question: What things do you want to get done? The corporation must serve its customer. Their boss is the customer, not the dollar.

Then again, I’m neither a businessman nor an economist, so I may be getting things backwards. Didn’t Adam Smith say that it’s the butcher’s self-interest that makes him create meat?

Even if I’m completely wrong, though, it makes sense to establish parameters on this self-interest. We do this occasionally with things called laws, but I’d like to do this with this thing called responsibility.

I mean, we all already know that the invisible hand can’t do everything. Some would argue that government needs to step in to correct for certain externalities. The government doesn’t need to step in, we need to step up. If I refuse to buy a product because of its stupid ads, I can refuse to buy a product because of more noble reasons.

Maybe I’m too optimistic.

So far, I am just toying with the idea, but I think it deserves more consideration.

Super Bowl XLI Commercials

Those were the shittiest Super Bowl commercials ever.

First of all, I’ve seen practically all of those commercials before.

Memo to careerbuilder: Bring back the monkeys.

Sierra Mist: How can you have both Tracy Morgan and Jim Gaffigan in a commercial, and the commerical isn’t funny? This to me really represents why the commercials sucked.

The K-Fed commercial and rock, paper, scissors were the only ones I considered Super Bowl worthy.

Even most of the beer commercials were flat.

The game wasn’t that great either. There were like, what, 8 turnovers?

I have a cold

So, I have a cold. It started out with just a sore throat, and now that the sore throat is subsiding, my nose is beginning to run. Having emptied my tissue box before the start of this semester, I am left with blowing my nose with either napkins or toilet paper — mostly the latter. This isn’t just any ordinary toilet paper. It’s the free toilet paper we get everything Thursday, and it’s one-ply. I’ve been blowing my nose a lot. It’s starting to get really rough and does not feel very pleasant. Then, I suddenly had the thought: “If it’s doing this to my nose, what the hell is it doing to my ass?”

In other news, I am a comedic genius. Great minds think alike. Comedic genius is a type of great mind. Sarah Silverman used a joke very simliar to mine. Sarah Silverman is a comedic geinus. Ergo, I am a comedic genius. Let me explain.

In my notebook, I have a bunch of Chalkboard Manifesto comics, many of which I have not used yet. One of those has two people in it. The man is saying, “Sorry officer, I didn’t know how fast I was going….” The police officer replies, “… you’re parked in a playground.” In the episode of The Sarah Silverman Program that I recently watched, Silverman decides to drink cough medicine while driving a car, which leads to some interesting results. After she is talking to the policeman, we discover that she is… parked in a playground.

I have a question: Is it still okay to use my joke? After all, Silverman did not use the phrase “parked in a playground” and her set-up is different from mine. Furthermore, I did not get this joke from her; it’s been in my notebook since before 10/23/05.

Nonmarital Tipping Point

From the NY Times, 51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse:

“‘Since women continue to outlive men, they have reached the nonmarital tipping point — more nonmarried than married,’ Dr. Frey said. ‘This suggests that most girls growing up today can look forward to spending more of their lives outside of a traditional marriage.’”

I’m not sure how to comment on this, other than I find traditional marriage appealing, but then again, I am a man.