Thursday, November 30, 2006


Pancake Wrangler has made a startling discovery.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bigger than Nigger

"Why can a black guy call another black guy nigger, and a white guy can't?" Kevin asked.

"Why are you asking me?"

Kevin stared at Andy. "You're black. I figured you'd know."

"You're an idiot," Andy replied with a chuckle. "And black people call each other 'niggas.' Only racist white guys call black people 'niggers.'"

"That's a cop-out. You and I both know it doesn't matter how you say it; what matters is who says it. Or more specifcally, the skin color of who says it."

"You think it should be okay for white dudes to go around calling people 'nigger?'

"In a way, yes."

A little perturbed Andy asked, "What if people called you 'cracker' or 'white trash' all the time, just because you are white?"

Kevin shrugged. "I suppose I wouldn't like that."

"Now add hundreds of years of history to 'cracker,' a history of oppression, racism, and violence. Then white people would know what it's like being discriminated against just because they're white."

Keving thought for a moment, then asked, "What if they don't hate niggers because they're black. What if they hate niggers because they're niggers?"

"What?" Andy exclaimed.

"What if people say 'nigger' in reference to someone being poor, racist, uneducated, and, purely coincidently, black?"

"You're proposing that 'nigger' is a derogetory word for someone's socio-economic status? Then why aren't poor, racist, uneducated white people called 'niggers?'

"Why aren't mean women called 'dickheads?' Why aren't gay men called 'dykes?' It just doesn't makes sense.

"What are you getting at?"

"While I agree that calling a black person 'nigger' is not nice or racially sensitive, I don't think it means that you're a racist." Andy looked like he was about to say something, but Kevin continued, "So why is it that any time someone even mumbles 'nigger' Rev. Jessy Jackson busts through the wall like the Kool-Aid man and the ACLU goes into DEFCON 2?"

"'Nigger' is bigger than just the word itself. It's more than just an insult. Whether the white speaker means it or not, the black hearer is going to interpret it with the connotation of racism."

Kevin thought for a moment. "So, if there was another word -- say, uh, 'dontoid' -- that meant 'poor, uneducated, racist, and black,' and 'dontoid' didn't have any of the history or connotation that 'nigger' has, would it be alright to say it -- as alright as saying any other derrogetory statement, that is?"

"Not if the person saying 'dontoid' is white."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm Thankful for Josh

While spending Thanksgiving with The Magster's family, her dad called me "Josh."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No Child Left in Front, Either

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.
--Albert Einstein

Good people wait for a teacher to tell them what to do. This is the most important lesson of all, that we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives.
--John Taylor, Gatto, "The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher"

As if there was a War on Education (Shhhh! Don't tell the sensationalist news media know I said that, or they will seriously run that as a headline for the next nine months!) the recent motto of public education has been "no child left behind," reminiscent of the army creed "never leave a man behind." This is a noble thought to be sure. Everyone gets the same education. Everyone has the same opportunities. Everyone is on the same playing field. Everyone waits in line for bread. Wait! This isn't communist Russia!

What's so wrong with leaving a child behind? If a kid is very bad at math, can't stand it, doesn't like it, then why make him take pre-calculus? Really, what would be the harm? (Side note: Any teacher that answered me with a straight face when I asked them "When will I ever use this in the real world?" was a fucking liar. I have never had to know that Nero was an emperor of Rome or that the sun is a condensed ball of hydrogen and helium. The last time I had to use plane geometry was when I was tutoring the other kids in my plane geometry class because the teacher was too stupid to adequately explain the material.) I'm not saying don't make him learn anything, but if he doesn't like math, but is good at science, why not let him take an extra time doing science instead?

When you have to learn, it sucks. When you want to learn, it's awesome. If the kid doesn't like math, but realizes that it's going to be hard to learn chemistry without it, he'll learn what math he needs to in order to figure chemistry out.

I suppose the question could arise, "What if the kid doesn't want to learn anything?" It's been my experience that this phenomenon starts around later middle-school, early-highschool, when young adults should be old enough to make their own decisions about their education. If they don't want to learn, they can sit in the retard class and color for all I care. If they want to waste their young supple brains on learning nothing, who am I to stop them? I'm guessing, though, that if a child grows up loving to learn, instead of hating it as with the current system, they will continue to want to

I guess the point I'm trying to make is this: Stop focusing on the kids left behind. Teach them as best you can, but don't slow down the rest of the class for them. Focus on the kids yearning to be unbridled in the front; encourage them to excel. Their excellence will more than make up for the deficiencies of the children left behind.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Making a profit off an idea indefinitely was not among those certain unalienable rights mention in the Declaration of Independence. And corporations such as record companies and movie studios were never granted such rights anyway.

The copyright system, as I understand it, was originally developed to encourage creativity. If a person created a work, the government granted them the exclusive rights to make copies of that work. They got recognition for their effort, and a chance to make some money off of it before it fell into public domain. I think the thought process here was that once a person was compensated and recognized for their work, they would continue to enrich society with more of their particular talent. And furthermore, once in public domain, their work would act as a springboard, inspiring other potential creators.

When it was first enacted two centuries ago, a creator was granted a forteen year duration on his/her copyright. If the creator was still alive at the end of that time, he/she could apply for another forteen year extension. Fast forward to the present, when a copyrights are bought and sold like stocks and extend for seventy years after the death of the creator.

How is that encouraging creativity? I realize that times have changed in the past two hundred years. Copyright law has had to change in order to accomodate new media (i.e. sound recordings and now digital content). But how is it beneficial to a creator or the rest of society when a person (or more likely, a corporation) holds the copyright to a piece of work that they had no part in creating. By extending a copyright and keeping a work out of public domain, it is limiting public access to a work, and also expansion upon the work.

Limiting people's creativity and withholding genius from society just so someone or something can make a buck off of someone else's effort does not seem what copyright laws were originally intended for.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Beware the Dangers of DHMO! cracked my shit up!

My favorite bit is "DHMO contributes to global warming and the 'Greenhouse Effect', and is one of the so-called 'greenhouse gasses.'"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Final Battle

In the final battle at Armeggedon, God will vanquish Satan. Everyone knows this, from the good little Christians to the big bad Devil himself. God told us this through His Holy Words in Revelations, right? So, why does Satan continue to oppose God, if he knows he's eventually going to lose?

I suppose the argument that I grew up believing was that Satan doesn't think he will lose. The Devil actually believes he has a chance of coming out on top in the end, but the Great Deceiver is only deceiving himself. I suppose that's sound enough reasoning, but to me it doesn't jibe.

Satan already lost to God's forces once -- God didn't even deign to fight the Devil. He sent His lacky, Michael the Archangel, to dispense of the nuisance. And it has to be assumed that Satan has access to all the reading material that humans do; he should know just how powerful God really is. Heck, Satan's job before the fall of the angels was the chief angel among the choir that sang God's praises. Satan should know his chances of winning against The Supreme Being are slim to none. And he still thinks he's going to win?

Maybe the outcome isn't as definite as prophecies of the End Times would have us believe. Maybe Satan does have a shot at bringing down the Creator. It would make sense that The Bible would be so resolute in its predictions, though. It's basically just war-time propaganda. What leader would tell his soldiers that there is a chance of them losing the war? Even George W. Bush isn't that dumb.

Maybe, though, Satan does know that he will lose. Maybe that's the point. Just as God's gift to humanity was free will, Satan's gift was giving meaning to that free will. What's the benifit of choosing eternal life if there is no damnation? What's the point of choosing Good if there is no Evil?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Secret Name of God

Wouldn't it be disappointing if Kabbalists actually found out the secret name of God, and it turned out to be "Randy" or "Nate" or some other plain name?

Maybe the reason God keeps his name secret in the first place is because it's embarassing, like "Milton" or "Eustace" or "Moonbeam." That would explain why God only goes by nicknames, like "I am" or "Alpha and omega."

I think well enough should be left alone. I, for one, would have a hard time respecting a God named Rod.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Game Shows

My roommate, Justin, opined about gameshows:

"The problem with most game shows is that they alienate almost everybody in this country by catering to smart people."

Monday, November 06, 2006


After a two week paid vacation, I finally started my new job.

So here's the deal with my job. I work for a department of the federal government. Technically, I just work at a federal government department's building, but I work for a subcontractor hired to do network security for a department of the federal government. Actually, technically, I do technical writing for a subcontractor hired to do network security for a department of the federal government, but I work for (and get paid by) a subcontractor hired to fill the position of technical writer by the subcontractor hired to do network security for a department of the federal government. Simple, huh?

There was another person hired to the same position who started today also. And boy, am I glad for that! Today my supervisor gave us a handful (and inbox-full) of specifications and examples of previous manuals and told us to look at those and plan out a template for new ones. Then he left us alone to contemplate this and wonder if we were indeed in way over our heads. We spent most of the day alternately staring at our screens or staring at each other in disbelief. These upward-of-two-hundred-page documents (of which there were several) read like a Faulkner novel with arbitrary letters, computer code, and random technical jargon sprinkled in. I felt as confused and helpless as Dan Quayle in a spelling bee.

Luckily, my coworker had previously been in a technical writing position. She pointed out some commonalities in the specs and the example manuals, and noted that including those seemed a good place to start. By the end of the day, we had begun to construct an outline of our template.

From what it looks like, there will be no shortage of work during this next year as a tech writer. I'll keep everyone updated.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Too Much Better

Miranda stepped onto the plane. Gripping her cane in one hand and her carry-on in the other, she shuffled down the aisle. She stopped at her row and checked her boarding pass. A window seat next to an old man; I can live with that.

She let go of her orthopedic cane and reached up to the overhead compartment. She was barely tall enough to reach the latch. The older gentleman sitting next to her seat looked up. He saw a young woman with cane and back brace struggling with her luggage and offered her help. "Thank you. That would be nice," she replied sincerely and politely.

The man took Miranda's bag and was surprise at its weight. He nearly dropped it and grunted just a little. "That's an awfully heavy bag for such a little girl." Miranda smiled shyly. She shuffled past him and took her seat while he pushed her bag into the overhead compartment.

She gazed out the window. She could see her mother still standing in the terminal. Their eyes connected, and they both waived simultaneously.

After a few minutes, the plane began to pull away from the terminal, and Miranda's mother could no longer see her. Miranda looked around the plane, or what she could see from her seat.

"Nervous?" the older man asked. Miranda nodded and shifted in her seat. "First time on a plane?" Miranda nodded again, but that wasn't why she was nervous.

She knew it was impossible. There was no one on this plane that could possibly know her. Nevertheless, she felt that someone was watching her; something she had felt for years now, ever since she had been cured. She had attributed it to a guilty conscience. It was a warning to always be on guard, to never let her secret slip.

But why? she had thought innumerable times. Why can't I just tell everyone? Why can't I tell everyone I love? Will they love me when they find out I'm a fake? That I'm a freak? Miranda's lie had been painful to bear, literally. Her back and neck eternally ached from pretending to grow weaker when exactly the opposite was occurring. She reached behind her back and undid the clasps on her brace. She sat up straight and stretched. The man next to her eyed her, but she ignored him.

At first she had thought it was her imagination. No one gets better from muscular dystrophy; doctors can only slow its steady deterioration of the muscles. But then when she could get out of bed by herself and climb in and out of the car in mere seconds, she knew something had changed.

When her mother started to notice Miranda's improvement, that's when the young girl panicked. Getting better was not possible, especially not with what had happened, with what she had let happen, with what she had done. But it got harder and harder to pretend not to be able to get dressed and climb stairs. Several times caught herself doing things she shouldn't be able to. She would look over her shoulder, and if someone was watching, she would fall down with a yelp or slink to her knees with a whimper. But despite her best efforts, people began to notice that the young girl was improving. Miranda told people that the equine therapy must be working, and that seemed to satisfy amazed and elated questions about her improving health.

Then Miranda began to realize that she was getting too much better. In the privacy of her room she realized that she could do things she didn't think should be possible for her stature. She found she could lift a jam-packed backpack with one hand without straining. She discovered she could lift a mattress and box spring completely off her bed. She realized she could have lifted her entire dresser full of clothes, if it hadn't been so unwieldy. If people could been able to get over the shock of telling them that she had lied to them, that she was cured, would they be able to cope with this unnatural strength? She decided never to find out. Miranda had stopped testing her strength years ago. She hid it away and hoped for a day when she could stop pretending and be herself, if such a day could ever come.

Now she was heading off to New City University, a place thousands of miles away from anyone that new her in her small town. A new beginning. Miranda felt a pressure lifted off her back. She didn't have to pretend anymore.

The plane jerked as it touched down. It taxied around to the New City Airport and prepared to unload. As Miranda stood up, her neighbor offered to get her bag down for her. "No thanks, I got it," she told him. She stood on her toes and pulled the latch on the overhead compartment. With ease she pulled the heavy bag down. The man was astounded.

She began to walk toward the exit when the old gentleman called to her, "Miss, you forgot your cane and your brace!"

She turned and smiled. She took the cane and tucked it under her arm, the grabbed the brace. "Thanks," she told him. "I probably better keep these. Just in case." She smiled and winked at him before turning and striding away. The old man looked on after her, a little miffed.

As Miranda stepped off the plane she felt that feeling again, as if someone was watching her. No, she shook her head, I'm not looking over my shoulder anymore. She smiled and continued on.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


as this arm was moved
indrectly by voltage,
so was this tree moved.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Christian vs. Nazi: Who Hates More?

This recent post by The Magster reminded me of this webpage I ran into a while ago. It's an interesting comparison, and just a little apalling to say the least.

Circa Now