Notes on a New World Order

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Friday Rant #7: Inspiration and the deadening of the creative spirit.
2006-10-19 00:00

See how easy it is to post and make me write back? I’m so inspired by people actually reading this that I can barely hold back my furor.Well, not quite. I’m in college, and that breaks even the most creative person’s spirit down into bureaucratically overtaxed chunks of exasperation and guilt. Or maybe that’s the Catholic Church. <rimshot> Or not. In any case, that whole ‘classwork’ thing combined with the exasperation (at the least) from the administrative morass that is college is just too much for even the staunchest of creative minds to really, truly, withstand. They (I) can try, but the forces against it (me) are so great and unrelenting that eventually they’ll (I’ll) slip and it will be for good.Example:I was allowed to register for classes today, seeing as to how I’m a third year student. No one told me when any of that was supposed to happen. At all. Or even what I was supposed to do. Maybe that’s my fault as I’ve not talked to a single advisor about scheduling, my degree, or courses to take. I don’t even know what I need to do to declare that I’d want to take a minor in philosophy. I’ll readily admit that I’ve not tried to find out. But I shouldn’t have to search out something as basic as “when do I sign up for classes?” Really. They do everything over email. Why can’t I get a nice little automatic reminder that I can register.</rant #1>Whatever the problem is, I wasn’t even told where to go find the information. The orientation process didn’t cover any of this. I think it’s just assumed that because I’m a student from somewhere else, all colleges work the same way and I just know how to do things. I think that’s a bad assumption. I’m not the only one, I’m guessing.This sort of sould draining, hopeless, crushing environment is almost good for creativity. Many artists (of all kinds, including writers and preformers, as well as visual artists) feed on the negative emotions they have or had. Great works of art often have wide-ranging hoplessness and defeatism depicted in them. Very rarely is the art contemporary with the feelings. The crushing hopelessness breeds not great art, but mediocrity, grey personality, and true, nearly suiicdal, defeatism. After the light emerges from shadow, the world is no longer so bleak and colorless; only then is the art created. It is a catharsis to purge emotion so as to move on.We may be creating better artists in the future, (ostensibly the goal of the art programs) but we are destroying their artistic abilities now, when they are supposed to prove to the world they have them. This is entirely evil. But it makes for a great story, and directly attacks the rather leftist notion of school as the sanctuary of the useless (aka “culture”). Or perhaps not. Regardless, this has been a Friday Rant.And it’s even early.

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Friday Rant #6: Such an unfortunate name.
2006-10-15 00:00

Alright, I think I’ve had some technical issues these past few days, what with switching +vhost for everything I host, which just makes things more complicated. Basically, wordpress dis-installed itself from my webserver. One command fix, but still. Automagical upgrades shouldn’t break things. But…on to the subject of this rant.I’m calling these things, “Friday Rants,” which is unfortunate, because it’s turning into biweekly-ish, weekend rants. I’m not changing the name. Continuity is good. Except when it’s a webcomic. But continuity in name is good. Really good. Ridiculously important. Companies sue for billions over names. They’re important. My thing is a “Friday Rant” because that’s when they’re supposed to be read. I write them at other times. I post them at other times. Whatever. You will read them on Fridays, because that’s when people check things like this. You’re done with your week, you’re bored, because you don’t feel like getting anything done for the next week yet, and you don’t have anything quite planned out to do that night yet. So you check some random Internets while you chat up your buddies for some real entertainment. You get a laugh from my stuff, and you leave. (And that’s being optimistic.) It’s tongue-in-check, it’s stupid, it’s biased and annoying. It’s the people that during the week you just want to strangle; on the weekend you can just laugh at them. At least in effigy. Text effigy. Whatever.It’s an unfortunate name, because as soon as I get famous and read by tens of people, I’ll get hate mail about the name. That’s it. I honestly like the name. It’s simple, and to the point. You have “Friday.” Simple. A day of the week. You have “Rant.” Simple; it’s a thing that you read and is loud and annoying. Put them together, “Friday Rant.” A day of the week that’s loud and annoying. Makes sense to me, whenever you read it. I just used Friday, but any day will do. Friday’s just nice and easy to remember. Just think of it like a meta-syntactic variable. It fits. It’s easy. And I’m lazy, because it doesn’t matter that much.Oh, and once I get to ten of these, we’ll throw a party, or something. A virtual party, without guests or anything, just me sitting sadly staring at my computer. Because I still won’t have more than 0 readers. If you want to convince me otherwise, good luck, as you’ll have to exist. But commenting might be cool. I’ll probably need to check a few times before I believe I’m not hallucinating, but commenting is a good way to make me keep writing. So if you hate this, comment and tell me why. So I can make you hate it more. That’s my job. If you like it, tell me that too, so I can stop doing whatever it is that you’re liking.That is all.

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Weekend Stuff.
2006-10-01 00:00

Well, it’s still the week, right?Time is relative. Whatever. I went home this weekend, so no rant this week. Sorry. Should’ve put up something though.

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Friday Rant #5: Living and working in peace.
2006-09-23 00:00

Alright, here goes (and yes, it’s still on a Saturday this week, so what, I explained this already)…I really just want to do my thing uninterrupted and unbothered. I’ve generally got it figured out what I really want, so you don’t have to give me all those options unless I ask, you don’t have to try and think for me, you don’t have to “fix” my problems. I’m not like everyone else. I’m human, but that’s where the simliarities end. I just had to move out of temporary housing today. I moved from an Inn where I have to take a shuttle to get to class to an on-campus appartment. It’s nice, but boy did it suck having to move twice in a month. First time was kinda exciting and all that. This time was just work, plain and simple. The more I have to move, the more likely it becomes that I’ll not really have that “new place” feeling. Attachment dimishes as the number of things attached increases. Moving on….The process was painful enough, but Housing couldn’t organize two sticks into a pile. The temporary housing victims (students) went and got assigned to their new places Thursday. Pretty short notice right? Well, I go to pick up my key on Friday, and guess what? I’m not really living where they said I would. They lied to me. So I’m living somewhere else. Fortunately for Housing, everyone seems really easygoing and not too bothered by the whole thing. I’m not really all that bothered either, as everything worked out really well (at least so far). It’s a matter of princple though…Housing should be able to figure out where to put people before they even show up. Them fancy computers can do all the complicated pattern matching and prioritization, all it takes is a human to sort out the left-overs and real conflicts. Admittedly, there’s probably a lot of them, but the extremely slow pace of things makes me think they’re not really all up on the new-fangled technology stuff. And that’s just sad. Not that I really blame them, they do get the job done, eventually, but they really shouldn’t use paper to track something as ephemeral as college housing. I hate to say it, but they probably need a reorganization.That’s all this week, as I’ve been a little busy. Tune in next week, when everything might still be working.

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Friday Rant #4: It's Saturday.
2006-09-16 00:00

Yeah. It’s Saturday. I missed Friday, even though I said I was going to have a rant up. So what?I was busy. Not really. I just don’t care that much if a rant is late right now. I’d rather have them up late than to force myself to do it on time. Not for quality reasons either. Just on general principle. I don’t do things unless I want to. That’s not to say that I’m entirely pleasure focused or anything like that; I just know what I do and don’t want.Example:I want to go to school (RIT).I want to learn things.I don’t want to do useless work. (e.g. Ungraded homework.)See? These aren’t the ephemeral or transient ‘wants’ like “I want ice cream.” or anything. These are wants that go beyond just the superficial. The sort of maxims that run our lives kind of wants. Everybody has them, but too many people ignore them. At least, I’m pretty sure they do, because they aren’t happy, or satisfied, or content. When wants are fulfilled, they should be meaningful enough that it gives you something. (If nothing else, a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction.) Some people might think they don’t really know what they want. But. Guess. What? They do. They may not realize it, but every time they do something that makes them deeply unhappy, they know what they really want. And every time they do something they want and they don’t get anything out of it, they know what they really want. All that remains is to actually do what they really want — and that’s where they have problems. Their mind kicks up all sorts of ruckus about obligations and responsibilities and what everyone expects of them. They may want some of those things too, but if they take care of their insular wants first, the rest will follow. “Insular wants?” you may be asking. Yes. The kind that don’t rely on other people to validate. The kind that build self-esteem and keep you from feeling like you did when you didn’t think you knew what you wanted. After that, even if you can’t get all the social wants taken care of you’re still better off, because if you try to go the other way around the crushing defeat of your self-esteem at your failures (and you will fail) will drive you back into your little distorted unhappy, unhealthy, subservient, and broken-hearted world. You don’t want that, do you?So screw everyone else, do what you want now. Really. Now. And don’t come crying to me if they hate you. You don’t need them. I told you otherwise. Pay attention. Now go already.

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Moved In
2006-08-31 00:00

Well, I’ve moved in. If you can see this…well, my server is working and all that. If not, well…something’s screwy.EDIT: Something is screwy. So…if you can see this you’re magic. (Or viewing through network voodoo of some sort. (Probably magical).)EDIT2: No, you’re not magical, I fixed it. And no, as the server was non-functional, I did not make the regularly scheduled Friday Rants. I will continue the series this friday.

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Friday Rant #3: It's mine, I'll do what I want with it.
2006-08-25 00:00

I recently had a discussion with my father (long car ride) about a local policy that would possibly be implemented. It would enforce (or attempt to enforce) certain standards upon the community with regard to the appearance and maintenance of their property. This law would target people who hoard junk, don’t mow their lawns, or have too many vehicles sitting around in their yard. On the surface the law seems like a good idea; however, government exists not to protect the majority, but to protect everybody. This includes people who want to use their land for growing ‘weeds,’ (There’s no such thing as a weed.) storing scrap, or rusting out cars.I know what the arguments for this law are: increased (or prevention of decreased) property values, a more picturesque neighborhood, and a more pleasant environment for everyone. Except it won’t be. You shouldn’t care about your property value any more than you should care about your credit card interest rate. You don’t need to know in order to live a perfectly satisfactory life, but people will tell you it’s important. (And yes, if you’re stupid enough to carry a balance you might care about your credit card rate. (And yes, I do realize there are good reasons to carry a balance.)) Stop listening to people who tell you what’s important. Would you rather have a bunch of sterile, manicured, freakishly normal people living in your community, or a vibrant, thriving, microcosm of culture? I can’t imagine anyone who would choose the former over the latter is a neighbor I’d want. Let those people live together in their gated communities and suburban neighborhoods. The rest of the world isn’t so naive.The problem isn’t the ’sterile-ists.’ It’s the people who just want a nice place that isn’t overrun with garbage and derelicts that make the difference in this matter. It’s the people who think their peace of mind and clean front lawn make them ever so slightly better than everyone else. The people who, with their unspoken words, say things like, “Your rights should be restricted, because I don’t like what you do. You are a person who can’t be bothered to take care of his own things in a proper way, so we need to force you to conform to what the rest of us think, and damn your rights!” These are the people we need to watch, because what they say sounds much nicer than this, but what they mean is fire and brimstone against those who are not like them.It all comes down to property. If I own something, I can do what I want with it. If I violate laws, I’ll get punished. That’s how it works. This is a Good Thing. The problems start when laws start being passed that simply restrict freedoms (including ownership or property) because others have conflicting ideas of what is ‘proper.’ Every person is entitled to their own beliefs, and every person is entitled to practice their beliefs in any way they see fit, so long as they do not interfere with the rights of others or pose a serious (quantifiable) risk of doing so. The aim of law is protection. Protection of the freedoms of every single person the law affects. In this case, I am arguing for the right to own (truly and freely) property. This may not seem like a very hard fight, but if you’ve understood anything I’ve just ranted about, you know all too well that this is only the beginning of the attacks on ownership in the name of the greater good. It’s not. You know it. I know it. They know it.Get out there and fix it. Now.

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Friday Rant #2: Brands, from Cows to Consumerism
2006-08-18 00:00

The world (more-or-less) runs on a free market. This is widely regarded as a good thing by a lot of people, including me. But I have a problem. The notion of a brand has changed considerably since the first ranchers branded their cattle in the midwest to keep cow-theives from taking their livestock. Back then, a brand was a mark of ownership, but because the brand was permanent, when stuff was sold the ownership changed and the brand stayed the same. So a brand mutated to be the originator of the thing (in this example, livestock.) This developed into the consumer trust relationship that brands/companies enjoy today, as specific products and quality of service became associated with the brand.This isn’t a bad thing, in theory. It allows consumers to find and buy quality products; however, modern brands often advertise and attempt to market products which encourage buying within a brand. That is, they encourage consumers to go ‘whole-hog’ and buy all their products and services from one company. The advertising has changed from consumer education to consumer manipulation. It’s a fine line and it’s hard to draw a good line between the two. Advertisers need to shape up. I find more and more that I completely ignore advertising. Most of the ads I’m exposed to are Internet and Television ads, which many people can cut right out of their lives (through Ad-Blocking software and Tivo/PVR/DVR devices.) This is a good thing, because it makes advertisers change their techniques, hopefully for the better. I don’t trust brands. I trust reviews, some sellers, and personal experience, but all with a grain of salt. I don’t like the idea of what brands have become. They’re labels for economic status. The only thing a knockoff company can’t copy is the trademark and copyright of their more expensive bretheren, so the only difference in most cases is the logo. Ignore the brand, ignore the logo, and the free market starts to work again. Provided consumers pay attention. So…pay attention.

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Friday Rant #1: Commitment and more.
2006-08-11 00:00

I’m, as we now speak (read, whatever. don’t mess with the metaphor), inaugurating something. I’m not sure what it is, exactly, yet. But it’s here and you’re a part of it, like it or not.To get right down to it, I’m going to regularly (every Friday) blog about something in a ranty (hopefully) amusing manner. This week, commitment. Before I really dig in and start, please realize this is a work of, at the best, bad humor. This is in no way meant to be (entirely) serious. But I’m not committed to that.I’m not really committed to much of anything. And that’s not a problem. That’s not the generally accepted theory, however, so I’m going to rant…I don’t commit, because I’m flexible. No, it’s not because I can’t. I’m committing to this weekly rant thing, but only if I keep doing it. If I stop doing this, I never committed. Because if I was committed, I would have done it. It’s that simple. To be truly committed requires enough resolve to do whatever you’re saying you’re committed to doing. And no, you can’t commit to just an idea. There’s no such thing. When you commit. You’re promising action. Therefore, if you don’t do what you say you’ve committed to doing, you really didn’t commit.Commitment doesn’t matter. And yes, you heard it here first. Unless you’ve heard that before. But here’s the first real time you heard it. The time when you heard it with your gut, and knew it was true. That is how you tell truth from fiction, but that’s another rant.So I’m committed to this. But I say that not knowing if I truly am. I need to move myself to action, then I’ll know if I’m committed. Not yet though. I’ve indicated I intend to commit, but I can’t know. No one can know. But enough about my commitment (pending) to you. What about your commitment(s) to others?Let’s say, for example, you’ve said or done something that’s led someone you know to think you’re committed to something. As long as you’ve never done anything that you would need to do as a committed person towards whatever you led someone to believe you committed to, you have no need to worry. Commitment requires action, so if you don’t take any action, you really didn’t commit. However, many people don’t understand this. I recommend you let your actions speak louder than your words and just act like you were never committed (which you weren’t, so it should be pretty easy). This way, these other people will become enlightened by your actions and learn the true meaning of commitment. (They will also learn a valuable lesson in empty promises and inference, but that’s another rant too.)By this point, you’ve either stopped reading, because my powerful rhetoric has so boggled your mind you are no longer capable of thinking, or you’re wondering about that other meaning of committed. The one where you call up some nice people to take away someone who is pathologically insane. That is entirely commitment, it is action. There is no need to attempt to commit me in this manner; however, because I’m not pathologically insane, just conveniently insane. I’m only insane in the convenient ways. Like getting off criminal charges.And that, in a (Brazil-)nutshell, is commitment. Everything you need to know, and all I ever knew. Go out into the world and live better because of your knowledge.

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Cynicism: More Than Just Pessimistic Idealism.
2006-07-30 00:00

Since I can apparently only write about how the site is not available, I should write something a bit more useful, no?

Cynicism. When it comes right down to it, most of what rubs people the wrong way about me is that I’m cynical.

The dictionary defines cynicism a bit negatively, and it’s easy to see why. (Dictionary.com defines it thusly.) Cynics take the world, and mercilessly mock, criticize, ridicule, and otherwise pick apart what’s wrong (according to themselves) with it. As such, cynicism is just a world-weary sense of idealism. At heart a cynic can not be a realist. If they were, cynics would accept the world we live in and `get on with it.’ That cynics don’t is a strong sign they feel the world ought to know better, one way or the other. This idea is more in line with the Greek Cynics than the dictionary, as cynics throw their thoughts naked before the world, unpolished and (usually) without tact.

So, other than being an abrasive nuisance to everyone around me, why am I a cynic? Because I don’t take crap for no reason. Because I want things done Right. Because “Right” is different for everybody, and very few people understand that. Because there is such a thing as an absolute reality, and it should be payed attention to. Because I care. Because I’ve not given up yet. Because I think there’s hope.

What I’m talking about is the kind of cynicism Dr. Seuss wrote about. The kind of attitude the Lorax has. I have no power, really; neither does the Lorax. But both of us can speak. The hope is that someone with power will listen.

These beliefs (which I am not too proud to think will never change) guide me to an abrasive attitude towards wasted effort and pointless endevour, refusing to learn to do something the Right Way, and willful ignorance. This, combined with my tendancy to assume people might be ignorant, but are intelligent and rational, tends to put me in a condescending, arrogant, and generally holier-than-thou frame of mind much too often. It sucks, but you can’t blunt your weapon and expect it to work. Being wrong is painful, and hurts. Being told you’re wrong should be, that way you won’t want to do it again. As long as you don’t have any pathological behaviour, you should be fine. If you over-use defense mechanisms instead of actually dealing with your problems, there’s going to be trouble anyway…some people are just way too attatched to their ideas.

It’s not that I care too much, or not enough. It’s not that I’m too lazy to be an activist. (Alright, maybe a little.) It’s not that it can’t be changed. It’s that I can’t do it alone.

I am skeptical of experts. There are some things experts are necessarily better at than people who are inexpert. Experts are good with specifics; and as long as they are talking about specifics within their field, generalizations. When experts attempt to apply their field of study to the broader scope (often under the guise of “ramifications” or somesuch) they often fail to consider issues outside the scope of their expertise. This is why economists see everything through statistics and numbers and trends. (Check out Freakonomics for an example of this.) Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. There’s little to distinguish the two but the tests of time.

Alright, cutting this rant short because I’m swaying way off topic. Point being, I’m a bit of a jerk, because I want the world to be a better place. It owes me. (Ha-ha, only serious.)

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