Friday, June 17, 2005

House of Flying Daggers

Just watched House of Flying Daggers, and it is a great movie! I'm a big fan of kung-fu fantasy epics anyway, of course, but this one, like Crouching Tiger and Hero, did a great job of bringing the personal aspects of the story to life. It was a wonderful, sad story, with a nicely twisting plot, deep, complex characters, marvelous acting, and fantastic fight scenes. I recommend it highly. And Zhang Ziyi is a babe. I mean, she is hot in these types of roles; the way she looks, her eyes, and the grace of her movements, just... wow. And yes, I am a married man. I can still look. So there. ;-)

Now, to work on my story, and my paper, and other stuff like that.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Thanks to Amber for this fun little tidbit:

Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge> device, trade-named -> BOOK.> > BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in> technology; no wires, no> electronic circuits, no batteries, nothing to be> connected or switched> on.> It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it.> Compact and portable,> it> can be used anywhere - even sitting in an armchair> by the fire or under> an> umbrella at the beach - yet it is powerful enough > to hold as much> information as a CD-R disc.> > Here's how it works:> BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered> sheets of paper> (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of> bits of information.> The pages are locked together with a custom-fit> device called a binder> (or> spine) which maintains the sheets in their correct > sequence.> > Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows> manufacturers to use both sides> of> each page, thus doubling information density and> cutting costs. Experts> are> divided on the prospects for future increases in > information density; for> now, BOOKS with more information simply use more > pages.> However, experiments with different types of> Formulaic Optical Nuanced> Technology Systems (FONTS) have led to promising> results.> > Each BOOK sheet is scanned optically,> registering information> directly> into the users brain A flick of the finger takes> you to the next sheet.> Moving about within the BOOK data file is just as> easy. The "browse"> feature allows users to move instantly to any> sheet, both forward and> backward. Many come with an "index" feature, which> pinpoints the exact> location of any selected material for instant> retrieval. BOOK may be> taken> up at any time and used merely by opening it. BOOK> never crashes or> requires rebooting, though, like other devices, it> can become damaged if> coffee or other liquids are spilled on it and it> may become unusable if> dropped too often onto hard surfaces.> > A Manually Accessed Retrieval Knickknack> (MARK) allows users to open> BOOK> to the exact place they left off in a previous> session - even if BOOK has> been closed. These peripheral devices fit> universal design standards;> thus> a single BOOKMARK can be used in BOOKs by various> manufacturers.> Conversely, numerous BOOKMARKs can be used in a> single book, provided the> user desires to save numerous views within the> device. Users can also> make> personal notes next to and within BOOK text> entries with optional> programming tools such as Portable Erasable Nib> Cryptic> Intercommunication> Language Styli (PENCILS).> > Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is> being hailed as a> precursor of> a new entertainment and educational wave. BOOK's> appeal seems so certain> that thousands of content creators have committed> to the platform and> investors are reportedly flocking to invest. Look> for a flood of new> titles> soon.

Your Daily Schadenfreude

Be glad you're not this guy:

"Pathetic local man Edwin Horton's hope of becoming slightly less pathetic came one step closer to reality Wednesday, in a way, depending on how you look at it, when the part-time mailroom clerk and fern enthusiast achieved his pathetic goal of coming up with one "positive daily affirmation of selfhood" for seven consecutive days."

Good for him! Takes me back to Avenue Q:

Right now you are down and out and feeling really crappy

I'll say.

And when I see how sad you are
It sort of makes me...


Sorry, Nicky, human nature-
Nothing I can do!
Making me feel glad that I'm not you.

Well that's not very nice, Gary!

I didn't say it was nice! But everybody does it!

D'ja ever clap when a waitress falls and drops a tray of glasses?


And ain't it fun to watch figure skaters falling on their asses?


And don'tcha feel all warm and cozy,
Watching people out in the rain!

You bet!



People taking pleasure in your pain!

Oh, Schadenfreude, huh?
What's that, some kinda Nazi word?

Yup! It's German for "happiness at the misfortune of others!"

"Happiness at the misfortune of others." That is German!

Watching a vegetarian being told she just ate chicken

Or watching a frat boy realize just what he put his dick in!

Being on the elevator when somebody shouts "Hold the door!"


"Fuck you lady, that's what stairs are for!"

Ooh, how about...
Straight-A students getting Bs?

Exes getting STDs!

Waking doormen from their naps!

Watching tourists reading maps!

Football players getting tackled!

CEOs getting shackled!

Watching actors never reach

The ending of their oscar speech!

The world needs people like you and me who've been knocked around by fate.
'Cause when people see us, they don't want to be us, and that makes them feel great.

We provide a vital service to society!

You and me!
Making the world a better place...
Making the world a better place...
Making the world a better place...
To be!


Word of note: Schadenfreude is not sadism, which involves taking pleasure only in causing severe physical/mental/emotional pain to others. It's more like an "It sucks to be you, which makes it not so bad to be me" type of feeling. The idea is that it's something that everyone feels at some time or another, not just sadistic or cruel people. There's just no word in English that is equivalent. It is in its essence a very German concept. Hehe. :-P

And my horoscope today: "Taurus: (April. 20—May 20) You've always feared you might run into a problem that can't be fixed by the lessons learned in Tom T. Hall's lyrics, and now that you've been appointed the new U.S. Trade Representative, that day is finally here."

I don't get it. But then, I don't know who Tom T. Hall is. Ah, well.

Curioser and curioser

Currently reading: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (again!), Striking Thoughts by Bruce Lee , and Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida by John D. Caputo, as well as several philosophy papers by friends and acquaintances (including one by ). But I am not eclectic! Hey! You shut up! :-P I just have a wide divergence of tastes and interests (along with little spare time and a short attention span), that's all. No, really.

In the news: today is Frank Lloyd Wright's birthday! Wright is, without peer, the greatest American architect, and I was fortunate enough to have grown up in Oak Park, Illinois, less than a mile from his (self-designed) home and studio, and closer to more of his works than I could have been anywhere else in the world, so I was raised in a surroundings of beautiful buildings that I always took for granted, until I moved away. The style of buildings in Hillsdale, Michigan... well, we won't go there.

As to the title of my post, it was inspired by this intriguing piece of news:

Genes blamed for fickle female orgasm: "According to a study published this week, up to 45% of the differences between women in their ability to reach orgasm can be explained by their genes."

Hear that, guys? If ya don't get her there, it's not (necessarily) your fault! [*Sigh* of relief from the male population, it's fragile masculine ego restored to unbalanced normality.]

Baby's first haircut

Okay, my parents trimmed his bangs once, but this is Tyrion's first real haircut. And it was given by Heidi's gay buddy. So, don't be shocked...

Yeah, my son has gone metro. Ah, well. At least he stylin', right?

And yes, he is the cutest baby in the world. ;-)

Another personality test thingie

Advanced Global Personality Test Results
Extraversion |||||||||||||| 60%
Stability |||||||||| 36%
Orderliness |||||| 30%
Empathy |||||| 23%
Interdependence |||||||||||| 43%
Intellectual |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Mystical |||||| 23%
Artistic |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Religious || 10%
Hedonism |||||||||||| 50%
Materialism |||||||||||||||| 70%
Narcissism |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Adventurousness |||||||||||||||| 70%
Work ethic |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Self absorbed |||||||||| 36%
Conflict seeking |||||||||||||||| 70%
Need to dominate |||||||||||||| 56%
Romantic |||||||||||||||| 63%
Avoidant |||||||||||| 50%
Anti-authority |||||||||||||||| 70%
Wealth |||| 16%
Dependency |||||||||||||| 56%
Change averse |||||||||||| 43%
Cautiousness |||||||||||||||| 63%
Individuality |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Sexuality |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Peter pan complex |||||||||||| 50%
Physical security |||||| 30%
Food indulgent |||| 16%
Histrionic |||||||||||| 43%
Paranoia |||||||||||||||| 63%
Vanity |||||||||||||| 56%
Hypersensitivity |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Female cliche |||| 16%
Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
personality tests by

So, does this hold true, and to what degree?
Look for insights, but let skepticism reign...

Friday, June 03, 2005

Harmful Books

This is interesting: The Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries, from Human Events Online, a conservative e-zine.

They are, in short order:

1. The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

2. Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler

3. Quotations from Chairman Mao, by Mao Zedong

4. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, by Alfred Kinsey

5. Democracy and Education, by John Dewey

6. Das Kapital, by Karl Marx

7. The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan

8. Introduction to Positive Philosophy, by Auguste Comte

9. Beyond Good and Evil, by Friedrich Nietzsche

10. General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, by John Maynard Keynes

The 'honorable mention' section includes books by V.I. Lenin, Paul Ehrlich, Ralph Nader, and B.F. Skinner, but it also includes books like Darwin's The Origin of the Species and John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. Wtf?!!

I posted this response to the article on SOLO:

"It seems like the criteria that the panel used to pick the books for this list did not involve the content of the works themselves, but rather the effect they had on the world. In other words, it isn't what the authors actually said, but the influence that their words exerted, that makes these such 'harmful' books.

Marx's Das Kapital, for instance, wasn't an attempt to inspire revolution, but a rather misguided interpretation of classical economics intertwined with a deterministic Hegelian philosophy of history. (Heck, for 'evil' books of the 19th century, where's Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit?) The end result, however, was that it did help inspire revolution.

Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil is an outright rejection of Christian morality, and it did inspire the Existentialist strain of thought in the twentieth century, but it is not in itself an amoralistic work; it rather advocates the creation of a new morality, modeled on the pagan virtues of Homeric Greece. Yet I doubt that the specific aim of the book is what makes it (allegedly) harmful, but rather its influence on the propaganda of the Nazi party and other fascist ideologies. (Ironic, considering that Nietzsche was a vehement anti-anti-semite.)

A case could be made that John Dewey's work helped drive the education system in America into the mess it has become; one could argue that Friedan provided the impetus for the silliest strains of radical feminism (though her own feminist thought was restrained and, from an Objectivist point of view, perfectly commonsensical); it would be hard to deny that Keynes's theories bear a great weight of the responsibility for many ludicrous policies of the Federal Reserve.

But despite all of this, what is it about the books themselves that supposedly makes them so harmful? In most of the cases (possibly excepting the direct calls to mindless action, like the Communist Manifesto or Mein Kampf), it simply seems that such a claim is unjustified, and only could be supported by those who either had not studied the works, or by those who hold that the beliefs formed by the masses on the basis of these books' influence determine the quality of the literature, rather than the ideas that are actually presented therein. And that looks like the height of intellectual irresponsibility to me.

I notice that a friend and old professor of mine, Brad Birzer, is on the panel that chose this list. Brad is a paleoconservative Catholic, but he's quite a smart guy, and he understands the Objectivist viewpoint. I'll have to ask him about the decision procedure and criteria they used to pick these books."

It really seems silly, though, to talk about a book being harmful, in and of itself. Unless you throw it at someone.

States I've visited

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

So, I still haven't been to the states I most want to see: Alaska, Colorado, and Washington. I'll get there.


Currently reading: Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida, edited and with an extended commentary by John D. Caputo.

Derrida is an interesting character. He claims that deconstruction is not nihilistic or even relativistic, yet his whole theory seems to point to radical pragmatism/relativism in politics, ethics, and the interpretation of literary texts. And isn't the point of Postmodernism in general to tear down structure, to disunite? This flies in the face of the Aristotelian and Objectivist view of philosophy as an interconnected and hierarchical system.

That said, I am intrigued by the idea of deconstructing texts in reading. This might be the foundation of what in academia is referred to as the 'Death of the Author' - the notion that the author of a text has no privileged insight into the 'right' interpretation of his own work. In other words, I could write a text, and someone else could provide a better interpretation of it than I could, and I would have no privileged access to say that the other interpretation is wrong.

Sounds like BS, doesn't it? But there is something more, beyond that notion, to deconstruction itself. I think that it might be given a bum rap by conservative types who don't look closely at Derrida's work itself, to determine whether or not he's actually saying "destroy the institutions." He denies that he wants anything of the kind; rather, he's looking to remake the institutions, to constantly say "yes" and renew things. Not sure what he means by that, though. Like all Continental philosophers, he's deliberately obtuse. And just who the hell is 'the other'?!

In other news, I've done some more work on my epistemology paper. I'm feeling philosophical again! Yay!!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

How well do you know me?

Here's a fun little quiz I made up, to find out who my real friends are. Mwahahahahahaha!
Just kidding. I think it's cool and interesting; please, take it, and post your results and/or comments back here.

I made a Quiz for you! Take my Quiz! and then Check out the Scoreboard!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Plans and such

Plans change all the time, particularly when you're as bipolar and scatterbrained as I am. I think we're pretty set for the summer, but we're changing around our plans for the fall drastically, and I'm re-considering what to do with my own future in terms of career plans. I still do want to go to grad school, and philosophy really is my passion, but so is writing, and the latter is what I want to make a career of. I wouldn't mind teaching, of course, but my impetus to earn a Ph.D. in Philosophy is to give me the credentials I need to publish legitimate work in philosophy. However, I also want to write less academically-focused non-fiction, as well as the fantastic fictions of my mind that await verbal expression. So I am considering going for an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, instead. Neither course of study is naturally lucrative, so financial practicality won't make as big a difference as it would if I were choosing between, say, an M.F.A. and an M.B.A. Yet it might make a difference in terms of what type of career I pursue thereafter. And which one would teach me more? Which one would inspire me more?Hmmm... We shall see. To be continued, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

For Objectivist Geeks like me

Barbara Branden is starting a regular 'question-and-answer' column on SOLO.
For those of you who have any idea what that means, you'll realize how cool and interesting it is.
For those of you who have 'real lives', however, well... "Screw you guys, Ah'm goin' hooome..."

Monday, May 30, 2005

Fun Weekend

I worked long shifts on Friday and Saturday, I hung out with Heidi and Tyr, we babysat MO & Eily's rat Norman, we went out to lunch yesterday, I mowed the grass (finally! it was turning into a jungle - at least a foot high, with weeds up to three feet), I cleaned out the car, and organized my paperwork. Heidi is off antique shopping (for eBay stuff) with Anne right now, so Tyr & I ar just chillin' out, doing guy stuff. This week, I work, write, and pay bills. Yay!

Heidi is getting ready to go on her big camping trip to Isle Royale, and I'm getting kind of jealous. It sounds so cool! It's been a while since I did a great backwoods camping/hiking thing, and I've got the itch. I hope she has fun, learns a lot, and brings back cool pictures.
Ah well. At least I get to go to Schenectedy; I'm really looking forward to that! And I have a family reunion to go to in June, up in . . . well, I don't know offhand what the place is called, but I know it's up at the tip of the 'thumb' part of Michigan, right on Lake Huron there. That will be a rockin' good time.

Off we go to rock the summer!

Chillin' (from May 28th)

Ah, the weather is great in the 'Dale right now. 65 degrees, partly cloudy, breezy - the perfect summer. If only it would stay like this!

I've been working a lot recently, and I have a lot more hours (plus a raise) upcoming. I can pay some bills now! YAY!!! We're doing a store remodel at Radio Shack, so I'll be burning the candle at both ends to get that done. Yeah, I know, I'm making a real career as a college grad. But hey, I am a Philosophy major, right?

I have lost four pounds since graduation. For those of you who know what a skinny punk I already was, you would realize how strange that is, yet I think I can account for it. During the semester, I was eating a rather unhealthy diet (for me, anyway), drinking coffee every day, imbibing copious amounts of alcohol regularly, and running or working out only rarely. I have since then returned to far healthier eating habits, I am off alcohol for a while, I have cut down my coffee consumption, and I am running more regularly. So, those last few pounds of body fat that I did have, I have shed. Now to add a few pounds of muscle! ;-)

I am also feeling happy and optimistic now, which makes the whole world better for me, and me better for it.

And with news like this, who could complain?

Bush Caught In One Of His Own Terror Traps

Bush caught in one of his own terror traps

My Website

I've updated my website recently. Check it out: Cool stuff.