Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Truth, Lies, and Bullshit

On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt is an interesting essay on, well, bullshit. Basically, in grandiose terms, Frankfurt defines bullshit as communication that has no regard for the truth, but may not necessarily be a lie. From the essay:

Through excessive indulgence in [bullshitting], which involves making assertions without paying attention to anything except what it suits one to say, a person's normal habit of attending to the ways things are may become attenuated or lost. ... [The bullshitter] does not reject the authority of truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Selling Things for Free

Kevin Kelly of The Technium has an interesting article, Better Than Free, about the future of selling content.

The sooner content producers (the television, music, movie, book, etc. industries) realize that their old business model is quickly losing steam and the copyright system as a whole is becoming less and less relevant, the quicker they can adopt, what Kelly calls the "Eight Generatives." Basically, these eight properties are the things that make the content you buy worth buying.

The idea is that, instead of producing a steady stream of mostly worthless content, content producers would focus on making their content desirable to and available for consumers that wanted what they were making. In short: Quality over quantity.

Unfortunately, I don't see this happening too quickly. In our country it's easier to have your lobbyist strong-arm stop-gap legislation that protects your interest through Congress than it is to see what's coming next and ride the wave of the future.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Little-Known Facts about Nanotechnology

To demonstrate why nanotechnology is morally unacceptable, I have compiled a list of little-known facts about nanotechnology:

  1. The only way to manufacture nanotechnology is to chop up living human feti, along with the mothers carrying them
  2. The bird flu was caused by nanotechnology gone awry
  3. If allowed to exist, nanotechnology will put 100 million U.S. workers out of their jobs
  4. Terrorists use nanotechnology to convert regular middle-eastern people into Muslim extemists
  5. Nanotechnology will encourage virtuous young girls to participate in pre-marital sex
  6. Nanotechnology can and will be used to control your thoughts and emotions
  7. Nanotechnology is racist
  8. John Hinkley, Jr. was acting under the influence of nanotechnology when he attempted to assassinate President Reagan
  9. Nanobots are tiny man-made demons that the government will inject into your brain and scrotum
  10. Nanotechnology causes loose bowel movements

Again, please don't believe everything you read.

Paid for by the people who brought you little-known facts about cloning.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Truth About Kansas City

How many more Missourians have to suffer needlessy, simply because of ignorance? Help raise awareness about this important issue. Knowledge is power.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Conversations with Josh

A guy at work called me Josh. He knows my name. I was one of the first people he met at the company. I trained him for two days. I sit no more than fifteen feet away from him. He smiles and greets me by my name, my real name, when I pass him in the halls.

He came to my desk the other day to ask me if something was possible for us to do. I told him it was not, and he returned to his cube. When he got back, I overheard him explain into the phone to someone else, "No, I talked to Josh; he said it can't be done."

The next time he talks to Josh, he needs to tell that guy to quit following me!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Handicapped Restroom

I take a bathroom break and stroll into the men's room. Both stalls are full.

I walk down the hall to the handicapped restroom, still feeling slightly guilty despite there being no one even close to handicapped on the entire floor, besides the guy with the broken leg.

The locking door, the shiny feminine hygiene products dispensing machine, my own personal mirror; the handicapped restroom is so clean, large, and luxurious. I lounge on the oversized can.

There is a pink envelope on the toilet paper dispenser next to me. I open it. Inside there is a card, a sympathy card. And inside that there is a note. I unfold it and read it. It is not mine, but I read it.

The toilet seat is chilly in the cool bathroom air. The note is typed. Laserjet black letters, spaced evenly across each line and down the page, attempt to warm the heart with serif sympathies and Times New Roman condolences. I finish the note and refold and replace it into the dainty pink envelope.

I contemplate the universality of human suffering and the manufactured distance we keep between us. I wonder why others struggle so hard to become close to someone, anyone, while I revel contently with my emotional absence. Why should departure feel so much like death? Why should I feel more sorry for the letter's writer than its reader. And how could I possibly compare my angsty heartbreak with the mourning of a departed loved one? I feel small and all-knowing. I feel comforted in my loneliness. I feel alive and undead and forsaken and reborn.

Through my hands hot tears fall onto the underwear stretched between my ankles. I sniffle at the trickle of sap-like snot creeping out of my nostril like a slow molasses, a gradual bitter epiphany. I lift my head and feel an all-peace, a sad-but-comforting religious realization, the nature of which I imagine is out of my realm of comprehension. Or perhaps it's just exhaustion, or apathy. I don't pretend to know the difference.

A final push and I'm free of all the waste left in my body. I wipe all appropriate orifices with the rough, industrial toilet paper afforded the plebeians, resituate my clothes, and wash my hands. I exit the handicapped restroom and return to work.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dying for Health Insurance

I like the reasoning in this short article by Kevin Drum of CBS News entitled Living Without The Health Insurance Industry.

I'm usually for more free-market solutions than government intervention, but Drum's idea of getting rid of the unnecessary middleman and putting the burden of competition on the doctors and hospitals does sound appealing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

They Are This Guy

This article is pretty much exactly what I was talking about with this post. Some of the comments are pretty good, too. This is an exerpt from my favorite:

I cannot count the number of firm partners who say "we don't have anyone behind us to really lead the firm in the next generation" and it doesn't mean there aren't good people, but it does indicate the most courageous (least complacent) and innovative have left. They are this guy.

Or, even if he stays in the firm, somewhere around the 6th, 7th or 8th year, if he decides to take the "partner path" he may likely subconsciously pack his "change" and "better way" mentality or at least his "speaking up about it" mentality into a box and put it order succumb and adapt to the "accepted" partner behavior, emulating existing management traits so he more closely resembles the management team he'll strive to become part of. I see this every day.

I'm glad to know that it's not just me that all-too-quickly became disenfranchised with the great inadequacies and inefficiencies of corporate America. Unfortunately, the only solution I can see is either a major shift in corporate management thinking (not likely, since this would imply that management does think) or a mass extinction (I can only hope).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Woe Is Me

I think the only thing worse than being dumped is getting the flu immediately thereafter. There's nothing to do but sit around, watch movies, cough, and feel sorry for myself. Well, that, and write on my blog about how pathetic I feel. Eh, at least I get a couple days away from work.

And, yes, in case you were wondering, this is a desperate plea for pity, so please shower me with your poor babys and your get betters and your :(s. (I'm not joking. I expect there to be at least three comments wishing me well within the next twenty-four hours!)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lesbian Lizards

Kansan 1: D'you hear about them damn lesbian lizards, them female ko-mo-do dragons or some such that's fornicatin' with one anothern?

Kansan 2: Shore did. There ought to be a law again' it. They're just out there, flaunting their "alternative lifestyle" and their sodomy like God ain't watchin'.

Kansan 1: They're corruptin' the moral fabric of America's what they're doin'! Now all these kids in school are gonna think it's alright to be a gay dragon when it is clearly against God's plan.

Kansan 2: Y'know, I wouldn't be surprised if it was homo-sec'shul reptiles that made God mad enough to allow nine-eleven to happen to his own country. Wouldn't be surprised 'tal.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


The Magster and I have broken up. Well, I guess more accurately, she broke up with me. It just figures, you know, that the day you buy your beautiful girlfriend a Valentine's Day gift is the day she dumps you.

Seriously, though, that was just for dramatic effect; I'm really not mad at her. (Am I supposed to be?) I am sad and remorseful and hurt, but I'm not angry with her.

And I hope she's not angry with me. I know it was hard on her to dump me. And I know the cavalier way in which I handled (and via this post, am still handling) the whole thing didn't make things any easier. Actually, in a weird sort of way, I'm proud of her for not letting me hold her back. She's always been stronger than she gave herself credit for.

I knew it was coming eventually, because she had more or less told me so over the past few months. She was unhappy. I wasn't helping things. I was complacent with our relationship, content to just coast along.

I did put some effort into avoiding a break-up, but, looking back, I think I knew even then that I wasn't willing to do everything necessary to keep her and that I was only stringing her along with promises and non-committal answers. That's the part that I regret, and I hope she forgives me for wasting her time. I was selfish; I wanted to love her for only as long as I could easily do so.

Without getting into the specifics, we split up because we have different ideas about what direction our relationship should take. In fact, I'm not exactly sure what that means, and I'm fairly certain she doesn't either. And that's our problem. Neither of us knows exactly what we or the other wants. And for my part, I'm too lazy and self-involved right now to find out on either account.

When the Beatles sang that all you need is love, I'm pretty sure that they were wrong. I think you also need a goal. I think you need something to focus on and work towards. Because without a goal, you're just two kids aimlessly wandering, wondering what's next. In our case, I think we wandered away from each other and got to two different what's nexts. Maybe some day we'll both wander in the same direction again and find the same what's next. I would like that.

But, in the meantime, I think we have to be living cliches and go out and "find ourselves." (I hate myself for writing that.) I, for one, need to figure out what exactly it is I want to do with my life: Am I a writer? Am I a corporate career man? Am I going to do something that makes me happy or am I going to just grin and bear it?

And, while I'm throwing around cliches, I hope that The Magster and I do remain friends. Out of the friends I have, she is one of my best. She has a way of calming me down (even though it probably didn't show) when I am irrationally angry, and she was the first person I can remember feeling immediately comfortable around.

So, I guess that is how it ends. A smile. A kiss. A goodbye.

I will miss you.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Long Day

Thomas stepped through his apartment doorway, dripping water onto his welcome mat. He dropped his tool bag down to his side. It landed with the damp thud of dead fish. His cold, wet clothes stuck to his skin, and he shivered as he slowly walked to his bathroom, squishing with every step. The pipe in the basement had burst again. Fortunately, he'd been home when it happened this time. Unfortunately, he'd been passed out next to his coffee table in his underwear at eleven in the morning when the tenets came banging on his door to inform him about it.

Thomas decided that the best thing for being cold, wet, and hung-over was a shower. However, by the end of the shower, he found that only one of those conditions had changed and that he should probably get some coffee before setting out for the local hardware store to get a permanent replacement for his temporary piping fix.

On his way toward the coffee shop he noticed he had a new voicemail message. The message played: "Thomas, it's me, Alex. I'm here with Miranda. She just informed me of the actions you took last night without getting the permission of or even informing the rest of the team. I'm disappointed and appalled.

"I appreciate your … enthusiasm … and your … conviction … but this is not the way we do business. We are crime fighters. This is exactly the kind of action we are supposed try to prevent.

"Now, I know you've been on edge since the incident with the Long-Arm Lady – we all have – but that does not justify your actions! You are out of line and out of control. We just can't tolerate this kind of behavior.

"I think you're a danger to the team, and, frankly, a danger to yourself. I think we'd be better off without you on the team; I'm afraid we're going to have to let you go."

Thomas stood with his head against a building, his phone to his ear, trying simultaneously not to vomit and to comprehend this message. Am I being fired … from being a superhero?

"Oh, and I'm going to need that suit back." The message ended.

"No fucking way," Thomas mumbled as he continued on his way to the coffee shop. He plodded down the sidewalk and pulled out his pack of cigarettes from his pocket. It was empty. This is going to be a long day.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Motorcycle Information

For those of you that have asked, and also for those of you that haven't, here are the specs on my motorcycle:

MakeAlphaSports (Hyosung)
Enginev-twin, 250cc
Colorburnt orange

Pictures to follow.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

My First Bike

I bought a motorcycle yesterday. I'm pretty excited about it; well, as excited as I get about things.

I'm hoping that a motorcycle will save me money not only on gas, but also on maintenance. I'm hoping it will also save me on stress. My car hasn't really been that reliable ever since I got it: Multiple batteries inexplicably dieing, tensioners mysteriously falling off, transmission fluid leaks, coolant system leaks, broken power windows, a rear-view mirror that wouldn't stay on. The car has pissed me off fairly consistently for the last three years. And not just because it tends to fall apart.

I've had a shittier, less reliable car -- Grumbles, the 1982 Dodge Omni -- but it was at least consistent in its shittiness. It made no promises of working well or getting me where I needed to go. I wasn't surprised when its muffler fell off or upset when the driver side door stopped opening. It was what it was.

I bought the Grand Am, my current car, to replace my old, unreliable clunker. It wasn't even ten years old when I got it, and it started to fall apart within the first month of me owning it. It was a constant disappointment to me until about a year ago when I decided I would just run it into the ground. I've tried to think of it more like I did about Grumbles, but the Grand Am just doesn't have the same charm. That, and I'm still bitter. Long story short, I'll be glad to ditch my car and start riding my bike

Motorcycles seem so much more accessible than cars. Cars have so many moving parts that can fail, and everything is crammed under the hood or slapped up underneath where it's hard to reach. On motorcycles, you're staring right at the engine whether you like it or not. Everything is fairly straight forward, and I feel like I could actually learn to repair a bike, unlike staring at my oft-broken cars in wonderment and confusion.

So, getting the bike was step one. Step two is getting my permit. And steps three through forty-seven are, collectively, the daunting task of negotiating the DMV to get it titled and licensed and whatnot. Then comes the step in which I try to learn to ride it without breaking my neck. I'll keep you posted.

Circa Now