Wednesday, December 31, 2008

When Good Causes Go Bad

Syke

I could just be overreacting, or just being somewhat onerous (lord knows I never do that), but it seems to me that there is a fair amount of misinformation used in rather a lot of public health campaigns.

Take this new "Syke" campaign against teen smoking. On their front page, as an example of the ways that the vile, odious cigarette companies attempt to manipulate pure, innocent children, there is an old ad spot from the Flintstones in the sixties for Winston brand cigarettes. I'm going to go out on a limb here and reckon that the people running this campaign weren't actually alive when the Flintstones originally aired, else they'd have known that the cartoon was played during "prime time" and intended for an older audience. They appear to be working off of the long-standing but fallacious assumption that cartoons and comics are, were, and always will be for children and no others.

This societal specification of cartoons as a source of entertainment limited to children has helped mark what is socially assumed to be the maturation of children into adults for decades. When children stopped watching cartoons and started watching whatever insipid teen oriented programs that existed, they were thought to be "growing up." Among other things it created a boundary for the play and entertainment of children and adults, further enforcing a social divide between the age groups necessary in order to maintain the "inherent" dominance of adults and inferiority of children. When children were willing to forgo their "traditional" forms of entertainment, then they were allowed the privileges (and responsibilities, in most cases) of adults.

Anyway, it does destroy a tiny bit of credibility for the campaign to make such an erroneous assumption, regardless of its ubiquity.

(If this post were pretentious, I would have said "irregardless" instead)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Intolerance

My internet has been down for about a week now, which leads to a flurry of unabated productivity (there's a message in this somewhere) and contemplative thoughts.

I was wondering about the relative ease in which people get riled up over stereotypes and their application. It occurred to me that this must be a fairly new phenomenon, given the fact that fifty years ago, it was still reasonably acceptable to call an Italian a "wop." What changed? A systematic indoctrination of the consequences of calling someone a "wop" into American society (also, the word fell out of fashion, but that's neither here nor there). Yes, at some point in our recent past, a morality shift was made towards emphasizing empathy as an emotion to consider in social exchanges. Before, sympathy was enough. Being aware of someone's plight and sympathizing with them was enough to make you seem a limp-wristed asparagus-eating pantywaist.

Where did this pogrom of politeness purvey its pantheon? Why, in our schools, of course. At the risk of sounding like a dead-eyed Freud fanatic, everything important in our self definition happens in our childhood. The way people learn to interact, what makes them laugh, what perceptions they have of the world around them are all formed in the first twenty or so years of their lives. School, occupying at least twelve of those twenty, is a major impact on people's lives. If there's anywhere you'd want to go to ingrain a new social order, school would be it.

School is also the first place in which kids end up meeting a vast amount of other kids and interacting with them on a day to day basis. It's where you learn how to (or not to) deal with people and their multitudinous quirks and strange habits, how to leverage your personality on them to gain social standing and so forth. Emphasizing the idealistic vision of "perfect equality" wherein all are treated equal regardless of age, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation in schools is like adding an unwritten set of rules to the already pre-established social order of children, complete with the punishment of guilt or public humiliation for breaking these rules.

So thus people grow up with an efficient set of morals (incidentally, the reason why public schools were founded in America in the first place) that guide them to the path of least offense, and therefore least guilt. Empathy is closest to adding an extra little voice in your head to go next to your conscience. Instead of telling you when something is just plain wrong to do, it tells you what you imagine other people to be feeling in reaction to your actions and adds in a guilt response if those imagined feelings are less than happy. Something that would logically run something like:

Check: action

If public response Happy

Then Cancel: action

Feel: guilt = Happy-1


in the crazy undefined programming language in my head. I digress. My point is: it's a behavioral modification imposed by society. Not inherently a bad thing, as pretty much everything we do outside of sleeping, eating, pooping and mating is controlled or derived from society. Even the four I mentioned, perhaps especially so, are regulated by the people around you and the endless lists of unwritten rules that are insubstantially floating about for you to bonk your head upon, while you remain completely unaware of your transgressions. You may have just completely jumbled the list of rules concerning the level of awkwardness and discomfort of having a member of a party of three tell you to tell the other member all about the wonderful story you had just iterated to the first but hadn't really intended to share with the third in the first place ranked in order by relation of the first to the second, the second to the third, the first to the third and all three taken as a whole. It may take years of hemming and hawing to rearrange such a list. Jobs will be lost, families ruined. I digress.


There is a problem. This guilt feeling (remember, guilt is another word for feeling ashamed) is bad. Doubly so because it is internally generated, and thus seems natural or inherent. Guilt response was evolutionarily created to help create societies and provide feedback for people to modify their behavior to fit that of those around them. However, stereotypes were also created evolutionarily; to provide an instant set of behaviors with which to interact with a person or situation you did not know personally. When guilt is being applied to something that is naturally formed, complications arise. I'd provide examples but I've already expended my allotted quota of digressions here. Two of the reactions to this turmoil are damaging extremes. One extreme is to shut down entirely, going to great, vast lengths to avoid offending others; the other would be to become what some call the P.C. Police, whereupon you travel far and wide searching for transgressions of others to condemn and ridicule. Neither of these attitudes are in any way natural. Both are worrying. One wonders, why can these people not learn to simply relax and go with the proverbial flow?


The darkest side of empathy is the most human. Naturally while there are those who are empathetic, and thus normal or good, there must be those who are not empathetic, who are deviously deviant deviations from the norm. And such begins the intolerance of the intolerant, a vicious cycle of witch huntery and tearful accusations. If you hadn't already heard it a few hundred times from the morality plays they project on to excessively large screens in quiet dark rooms with sticky floors and rude attendants, I'd write something here about the non existence of any real "evil" or "good," only perspectives on the world. But such is life, as all search for purpose or meaning, some may find it in enforcing a relatively recent society shift towards non-offensive practices, while other may see it as their job to uphold these practices to the fullest, becoming a paragon of pleasantry


But I digress.


What is my point that I am so circuitously making? People should love one another without condition. Wielding intolerance as a weapon against the intolerant does not stop intolerance, only foments it.


Just relax, brah. Racist or Anti-Semite, it's all good. We're all still people, despite our failings.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

placeholder post

I keep forgetting this blog exists. Slowly drifting away from my infatuation with computers (or myself, not sure).

A more interesting post on the morn, dear gents.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quote Analysis Exercise

Is it unethical to quote yourself?

Based on the Essay titled “On Recent Politics,” By Jacob Germain, Tuesday, July 29, 2008.
accessible at: http://www.thejakeman.com/2008/07/on-recent-politics_29.html



Clearly, modern youth has a destructive and reactionary stance towards modern politics. Take Jacob Germain, a suburban middle class youth who recently graduated from high school. This past election was his first major political event. Based on the things he said, I’m sure you’ll agree that such divergent political beliefs should be suppressed. “Personally, I'm for radical change, be it liberal or republican. As an election, I would have preferred something like Ron Paul vs. Dennis Kucinich,” he says, mentioning two of the worst political candidates in recent memory. As you can see, he wants an election between a crazed right wing man who would decimate the economy through his insane libertarian ideals and an equally crazed left wing reactionary who would spend this country dry and keep coming back for more. This kid practically wishes for this country’s destruction! The sheer insanity of it nearly shocks me speechless! Again, Ron Paul is a crackpot with bizarre ideas about the way the world works, and Kucinich is a midget who seems to think that we can solve any problem by throwing money at it! Clearly this kid is deranged, and as a representative of his entire generation, this country is going to the dogs.

Christopher Paolini is a Bad Bad Man

I will start this miniature rant by stating that I've only gotten as far as three pages into Brisngr. If at some point in the novel, the style of writing relaxes, I may change my opinion.

High level language and academic minutiae does not a fantasy novel make.

Ah, The Boundless Power of Creativity

I do quite enjoy Kingdom Hearts.

Those of you who are still reading, thank you. My appreciation for the series has little to do with Disney or Final Fantasy, neither of which I particularly care for, but with the game itself as a whole: an engaging third person action game. I rather like this genre of games and find Kingdom Hearts to be one of the best, if for no other reason than sheer production values. There is a wide range of special moves (summons, limits, drives) to unleash and a great deal of options as far as playing style. But the most important part, and probably the reason I place Kingdom Hearts so highly, is the fantastic Gummi Ship mode.

In my erstwhile life, I did posses a great number of Lego brand building blocks. The most common thing I built with these blocks was spaceships. Lots and lots of spaceships. Almost exclusively, spaceships. My imagination ran the gamut from a range of simple three piece models for vast space wars, to a hulking behemoth armed with six rotating cannons, three missile platforms, and an emergency escape pod I rather liked. The Gummi Ship mode of Kingdom Hearts brings me back to these halcyon days, while animating my imagination that wasn't possible in plastic toy form. Only in this game is the level of customization at a point where I can recreate nearly every ship I can come up with in my imagination and actually play with them in an actual space shooting session.

But I could be wrong. Are there any other games that allow the same amount of creativity as this? I have no stipulations, I'm willing to try anything.

Edit: Hoping for this sort of thing, I bought THQ's "Drawn to Life" hoping for a similar experience. What I got was a mediocre platformer with a generic story and aggravating between world bits. It reminded me more of a flash game than a DS game.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Some More New Stuff, With Added Mundanity

I spent most of this weekend producing generic techno. Here's what I consider to be the best three. I also played a lot of Left 4 Dead, which I'm sure you've already heard too much or don't particularly care about it, so I won't go into it here.

Here's my favorite. the sound quality sounds a bit off on iMeem, but whatever.


Break beat version A - thejakeman



House synth ver 0.8 - Thejakeman



House beta 0.6 - Thejakeman

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Some New Stuff, Finally

Well, I returned to mixcraft only to find that there are new loops for me to mess with. So I made these. I stuck with the general song templates, So actually creative stuff is yet to come.

Note, while this says Crunk, it's closer to slow style Electronica. Crunk is just the song style I got it from.


Crunk ver 0.6 - Thejakeman



horror beat ver 0.6 - Thejakeman

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Explicit Joys of Poll Working

I wrote this last thursday, didn't finish until today.


Well, I spent Tuesday working the polls. It was a fun and interesting experience. decent turnout, had about half the people in the district vote directly, I'm sure more voted early or by mail. I didn't take notes, So I'll go by what I recall. In the morning we had a short line of people waiting to vote as soon as the polls opened. It went a bit shaky at first because most of the people working hadn't done this before (including two cute girls, one of which I got the number of), but we smoothed it out as we went ahead. As is expected, there was an eclectic bunch of voters. All sorts of people. Mostly older professionals, as the precinct I was working at is in the middle of a large high end apartment complex.

A few interesting things happened. Around 4 o'clock or so, a polite guy a bit older than me from the Buchanan campaign came by to "flush votes" wherein they look at the publicly posted rolls to see who hasn't voted yet and go hassle them to vote. He actually went outside and took his outer shirt off when he realized he still had a "Buchanan" shirt on. It wasn't that big a deal, as no one was there, and we were being somewhat lax anyways. (several people came in with Obama shirts on and sort of rushed through the process before they could be admonished, in a hurry to vote for the only candidate they cared about, apparently) He came back later with a voter who was clearly mentally challenged and had him vote. He didn't stand over him or anything (In fact, he actually stood way in the back and was covering the Buchanan embossment on his shirt with a folder he was carrying. He looked rather silly) and one of us pollsters helped him vote (the first ballot, he had just checked next to the names of the candidate)

Fortunately, no one wanted to vote electronically, as us poor poll workers had no idea how that would work out. A thing in the instructions said that if one person were to use it, four more people would also have to use it, for whatever reason. It's very complicated, involving a second machine we would use to activate little cards and password lock them and give them to the people, when they would take it over and insert it to display the ballot. from there they would vote and the card would be deactivated.

It seems a lot more inconvenient than just the paper ballots, which work similarly to "Scantron" technology that instructors have been using for years to grade tests, albeit with ink instead of pencil. After a person fills all the lines to choose the candidate they wanted, they would insert it into a big, vaguely evil looking machine that would take the ballot, scan it, and deposit into a bin inside. The machine at the end of the day prints out a tally of the votes it received and we post a copy that just outside the door. We then take the ballots, put them in a secure box thing and deliver them to the registrar to be (presumably) hand counted later. Much less complex than the machine voting thing. I think.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yay!

I learned my first song besides Mary Had a Little Lamb which I knew from piano lessons years ago. I feel so proud of myself. Positively giddy.

It turns out my blog has a readability level of:
blog readability test

Which happens to be exactly where I'm at. How anticlimactic. I am average. Yeah, neither of the essays I've published scored A's. Both were in the B range. I have a complete inability to follow stipulations when it comes to essay writing, something that holds me back academically, but I feel is perfectly justified from a writing standpoint.

I think I may have mentioned this before, but I'll say it again: my interests variate almost daily. I will find myself hooked on a particular philosophical quandary or physical activity for a week or so and move on to another by the weeks end. They do return eventually, after it has been long enough for the idea or activity to seem new to me once more. For example, right now I'm off both reading and writing. Neither of them interest me in the least. I'm interested in music, right now. most specifically learning to play it legitimately, but I also just downloaded a bunch of Korean rock (which turns out to be awesome). About a week ago, this day, I was intensely interested in trying to write poetry. A week before that it was rereading Stephen King's Insomnia (my favorite novel of his, I found it for a quarter). And so on.

I really am sort of odd.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I confess

I don't actually know how to play the piano. I know the basic theory behind rhythm and a few chords, but when I play, I play solely tunes that I make up spontaneously. I often miss notes or hit the wrong ones. I think I'll rectify this horrid mistake. By the end of this year, I will learn how to read sheet music. I may buy another Bass while I'm at it. My upstairs neighbors play loud electronica music well into the nine o'clock hour, so I'll find a way to drown them out.

I actually worry about this somewhat. My upstairs neighbors (let's call them MUNs for short) have a two year old and a 6ish (I forgot) month old baby. They're both pretty young and throw parties once a week or so. I worry about the kids, since really, these people are not anywhere near mature enough to have kids. I hung out at one of their parties, and witnessed this little dude run around, hit people, throw tantrums for all sorts of things, attempt to throw a pet kitten (madness!) off the balcony twice, and generally be a nuisance. I did catch him and got him to read a book with me, which he seemed to enjoy. The baby was in a little bumper thing right next to a speaker, which is what worries me most, since I myself have bilateral hearing loss possibly caused by the same sort of thing (when kids are young and not diagnosed early enough, it becomes a tossup as to the cause. In my case it could have been damage through auditory extremes, [my mom is into hardcore rock] birth defect, bacterial damage [had tons of ear infections as a toddler], or some other unexplained cause). But of course, it's their kids and their life; and if they're happy with it, who am I to disrupt?

I've been listening to That handsome devil quite a bit lately, I bought their first album for 2 bucks at an Amoeba Music in SF. Turns out they're a great band. I will do my civic duty and spread the word (and the link) here. If their only link is a myspace page, does that make them underground? To be fair, they've had it since 2005, when the whole trend of band myspaces was only barely started. Personally I hate the idea. It seems like a dumb method to "get in with the youth" by evil soulless corporations.

There, I wrote a whole long post without a bit of interesting original material by me. Now to start a cult of personality. Love me, Internet! Love me!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Veiled Appearances

Well, another essay to put up here. I can't seem to get myself together enough to write in a particularly serious manner most of the time. This is a bit of an exception. It's a shame I finally figured out my thesis in the last paragraph.

This is a comparison essay on Carmen Vazquez's "Appearances" and Maysan Haydar's "Veiled Intentions." Funny thing is, when you google them, you get hundreds of links to finished essays and the like. I'll be glad when the semester is over and I can take a more advanced english class. I would say the present one is equivalent to a tenth grade class. Unfortunately it is mandatory, and I wasn't able to get the AP scores from last year in to counseling in time to switch classes. I guess I don't mind. Much. I apologize for any formatting errors. Cut and paste isn't exactly the best method for this. I now realize I am apologizing to the threeish people who visit my blog, none of which I feel the need to show off for. So I take it back. Yes, I will subject you to my formatting errors. It is no more than you deserve! >:V

“Appearances” by Carmen Vázquez is an essay on the common misconceptions derived by perceptions of couples’ sexual orientations from their outward appearance, while “Veiled Intentions” by Maysan Haydar focuses on the same common perceptions of a Muslim woman who chose to wear a Hijab, a traditional head covering. On the surface, the similarities are clear. People have certain stereotypes and expectations of LGBT couples just as they do of Muslim women. The similarities continue into the essays as one can see how minority groups are insulted, misrepresented, and marginalized by society as a whole.
Despite the vastly different backgrounds of traditional Muslims and LGBT people, they share a commonality in their minority. The majority of the nation does not identify itself as Muslim, nor do they identify themselves as LGBT. By pure virtue of the smaller size of the group, the majority can claim the right to abuse the minority by democratic process and further by social standards. Despite the whole of the minorities in America actually being larger than the traditional white male majority, minorities continue to allow this subjugation. The majority is very much interested in staying the majority. Because of this, they put forth a great deal of effort to divide the minority and emphasize the differences through social means, such as biased news reporting and politicians referring to one or more other minority groups, for example white bankers giving loans to Korean businessmen to open up shops in predominantly Black neighborhoods. When the riots in the early nineties destroyed hundreds of Korean businesses, naturally they blamed the Black folks for rioting instead of the White folk for inciting the riots. Minorities are linked by a common enemy, the majority, and thus often share common traits, such as similar forms of persecutions and responses. Before the Gulf War, Muslims were relatively ignored. Americans had little experience with them and had yet to form strong opinions, unlike their well developed, historically precedent opinions of African Americans or Jews. The Gulf War changed this. Perceptions of Muslims as dangerous extremists began to form and admitting that one was a Muslim became as unfashionable as, say, admitting to partaking in an S&M lifestyle. It wasn’t taboo, and not particularly looked down upon, but was indeed considered distasteful, and often preceded an awkward silence. 9/11 changed everything, however; immediately post 9/11 Arabic men and women were targeted for reactionary violence in America, especially in New York City. This newfound animosity further emphasized the similarity of Islamic faith and LGBT persons.
Gay men are stereotyped thoroughly as effeminate, ineffectual “girly-men,” a stereotype that is often the only contact the average person has with homosexuals, as vicarious as it is. Similarly, the stereotype of Muslims as extremists with odd religious habits, strange deaths and phrases like “durka durka” or the traditional Muslim warrior’s trilled yell is often the only experience that the average protestant American has with Muslims. These stereotypes are advanced and extended through American popular culture and nearly all forms of media. Many of the misconceptions of Muslims were created simply due to the nightly news constantly reporting the most grisly and macabre incidences in the Middle East. It focuses on the one person who chose to express his beliefs violently instead of the hundreds of weddings, hundreds of celebrations of life, and hundreds of small kindnesses that Muslims do for each other every day in traditional Arabia. On the same evening news, reports of gay marriage shock and awe the nation, with men and (to a much lesser extent) women kissing members of their own sex and dressing in a flamboyant, outlandish manner. Both of these misrepresentations continue off of the news and into the entertainment Americans consume. From “politically incorrect” comedians like Carlos Mencia to “edgy” shows like Family Guy, to even relatively normal reality shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the character and identity of both Homosexuals and Muslims are clearly, if erroneously, defined. This shared misconception is a commonality the separate groups can claim.
I want to switch tracks here. This year is an election year, which always makes for a fascinating change of pace and a dredging up of issues that normally remain under the radar. Recently, as an attack against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin said “This is not a man who sees America as you and I see America…” This statement, besides its inherently silly nature, reveals a sort of homogeneity of thinking that is assumed to exist. There is indeed a “Model American,” and that model does not, apparently, include Barack Obama. This Ethnocentrism, this idealized view of America is one of absolute morality. Generally the Idea of an American is similar to the earliest settlers in America: a white, heterosexual, protestant male, one who emphasizes absolute freedom where it does not conflict with the moral codes of the bible. Neither Muslims nor Homosexuals conform to this ideal identity, and are thus Ignored or deemphasized by the mainstream. Both groups have put forth great effort to advance their ideals and gain some measure of tolerance in this nation, but this sort of advancement has created a great deal of resentment and backlash from the “typical” white communities.
The essays themselves share little thematic similarities, “Appearances” being written as a scholarly documentary of occurrences and “Veiled Intentions” being written as a personal anecdote. In both of them, however, a major component is that of clothing. Both Muslims and Homosexuals have, as a part of their stereotypes, a certain appearance they are expected to conform to. From the turban of the Middle Eastern to the skintight Lycra pants of the modern male homosexual, how an individual dresses labels who they are. In both “Appearances” and “Veiled Intentions,” the way the people dress is misunderstood to identify with a particular method of thought as discussed earlier. This confusion is the primary similarity between the two essays.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Letter To Ray

In a fit of literacy, I wrote a letter to Ray Kurzweil, famed inventor and futurist.

Dear Mr. Kurzweil

Darn you! Darn you to heck! How dare you publish a book detailing an idea I've had kicking around in my head since well before I've ever heard of you! It doesn't take much to look at sociological, economic, and scientific graphs and notice they all have one thing in common: an exponential shape. This seems eminently obvious to me, but when I introduce the idea to others, they tend not to see my point. Humph. And imagine my annoyance when I saw your book sitting on a shelf at the library. A quick browse of the early part reveals that at least someone else has the idea. Though, I suppose this, too is inevitable, as the amount of ideas exponentially increases, the likelihood of them being truly original decreases at the same rate. The thing I wonder about this is whether or not any legitimately new technologies will be imagined up or if all future technology is going to be some sort of refinement or improvement of a current idea.

Or have they always been this way? Has every technology followed a clearly defined path, a sort of universal technological advancement causality? A real world "technology tree," to use a term from real-time strategy games? Is the computer really just the logical extension of the abacus? The gun, the spear? And what will happen in the future? Will we truly reach the singularity, or will we reach ever higher and ever wider, but never truly meet the asymptote? Does it matter? And lastly can we truly escape our base natures, instincts, and impulses in time to prevent our own destruction by passion? Would that make the world better or worse? Does that matter either? In true scientific fashion, the answer only raises (exponentially) more questions. I hope this finds you well, and have a(n) (exponentially) fantastic day!

Jacob,

Disillusioned college freshman

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mcclintock Chunk 3

I'm Kinda miffed about this particular style of uploading, since it will cause spoilers for anyone reading it in reverse, but I can't upload it all at once because it's an ongoing narrative. Perhaps I'll consolidate these into a single post when I finish. Also, as a disclaimer, because I realize that some may perceive this to be so, this story has no relation to anyone in real life. any similarities are purely coincidental. It's a fictional story, and not a particularly good one, designed to entertain, not to detail my plans for the destruction of a small town and it's political infrastructure. I tend to assume these things go without saying until it's too late and someone get's angry at me.

This crow was by all accounts a normal crow, excepting it’s relatively regal bearing, and a single blue feather on its left side. The crow had remained all morning, having settled some time during the night. It hopped around and did crow-like things, though it never wandered more than the nearest tree.
The stranger walked through suburbia. Being a weekday at midday, most folks were out and about, oblivious to the events of the previous day. Few people noticed the stranger, much less his odd habit of approaching houses and making strange gestures on the doors. A few people later noticed by the glint of their porch lights that a shimmering trail like that of a slug marking out the letter C on the doors. It was anyone’s guess as to what it meant, and those who noticed it simply dismissed it.
The stranger did only one more thing before leaving town. Like hundreds of past visitors, he visited a local market and purchased some fresh produce. Arugula, it was, at 8.99 a pound. He left otherwise unnoticed. One Jack Barrowton Swore to his wife that a guy at the market had been making a pass at him. He Stayed up all night that evening, worrying about his sexual orientation.
A few days passed, and after a tense town hall meeting with record attendance, the general consensus was to remove the body of farmer Joe for a proper Christian burial and not to speak of this occurrence to anyone outside of town. The blue crow had moved the previous night under inconspicuous circumstances. Volunteers were drafted for the job, and three local “good old boys” were chosen to perform the removal.
As they approached the lifeless body, a single caw was heard from an unseen crow. When they placed hands on the bloody mass, a second caw was heard. Like a gunshot, A third and final caw was heard as they placed the remains of the mayor into the tarp lined bed of a pickup truck.
The mortician’s autopsy was inconclusive.
“He’s just dead,” Said the mortician’s assistant in an interview for the McClintock Christian Weekly, “It’s not like he had a family history of exploding.”
The funeral service was quiet and poorly attended, only immediate family members were present, along with a smattering of offerings from local supporters (who cited myriad reasons for their nonattendance). A few days later, the first citizen fell ill.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The March of Tyranny

This is such a terrible essay. I love it, personally. It is a 'reader response' to Albert Beveridge's speech entitled "The March of The Flag," some turn of the century expansionist tripe. Google it if you care.


11 September 2008

Alas, young Albert J. Beveridge, that ye have so quickly forgotten history’s mores and so readily embraced a greedy and self serving policy destined to inevitable failure. Your speech proponing the eventual American conquering of the world under the subversive name of “March of the Flag” is naught more than a propaganda tool for the expansionary members of our nation. Empires are futile creations of greedy men who desire naught but power. So many have come and gone, they may well be blades of grass to the Lord’s reaper. Your vision of the American flag marching across the world is a best facetious and at worst downright tyrannical. This nation was founded upon the ideals of a democracy, a system of government under which every man has a vote in what their government will be. Will you truly deny the world that right and force them to live under American tyranny? The last time I went to congress I saw no Porto Rican senators, I saw no Filipino delegates, I saw no Cuban congressmen. What you advise is nothing more than a wholesale rape of nations, stealing their land not for any sufficient purpose, but simply to extract what value you can and leave the people to rot. What happens to our market when the people have no money? What happens to the market when American workers are fired in exchange for cheap foreign labor? What happens to your market when china discovers that it can do the same as you, only better?

These nations that you encourage America to devour, Porto Rico, the Philippines, and Cuba are in fact some of the poorest places in the world. Though they may be rich with natural materials, the people of these nations have very little personal wealth and would be entirely unable to afford American products, especially after additional costs like shipping are factored in. this is not solely limited to America’s prospects. Despite the natural wealth of India, few Indians have the money to purchase expensive British goods; despite the natural wealth of South China, the population has few members with the ability to afford French goods; despite the cultural wealth of Qingdao, few Chinese residents have the monetary influence necessary to purchase pricy German exports. Inevitably, the people of the “civilized” nations remain rich and influential, while the citizens of the nations they conquer remain in abject squalor.

Let me offer another example, still a fresh wound in the soul of America: slavery. As recent as a hundred years before your birth, huge shiploads of Blacks were transported to America for the sole purpose of providing cheap labor. Unfortunately, we’ve abolished such practices in the U.S. in exchange for a fair wage for services provided. The Porto Ricans, the Filipinos, and the Cubans have no such demands. Any wage at all is a joyous and rare bounty coveted by all in these destitute nations. When employers realize that they can more cheaply produce products in other countries and simply ship them to the United States, they will cease employing good, honest, hard-working Americans and begin employing primitive savages.

China has an amazingly large population, the majority of which is rural. However thanks to the piecemeal sequestering by western powers, China is rapidly industrializing with a workforce greater than any other nation in the world. Chinese trade barons are unscrupulous in their practices, perfectly willing to pay workers the equivalent of twenty cents an hour for brutal work in factories. This allows them to undercut prices in other, more humane nations despite shipping costs. China has effectively captured a worldwide market for its goods, and is rapidly emerging as a global superpower. America cannot contend with this. Were America to invade, to expand it’s territories to include south America and all of Latin America, It would still be outnumbered and outmatched by the industrious Chinese. Simply the act of expanding beyond our borders would likely provoke China into a similar expansion, intended to reclaim the sovereign nations of Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Taiwan, Tibet, and many others. It’s a disastrous policy, one that will lead to the eradication of many cultures.

Why do you feel so forthright as to suggest that America and America alone has the right to rule the world? What odd twinge of the ambition produced such grandiose visions? I posit that you, in fact, are a megalomaniacal madman hell-bent on ruling the entire world. Why, Albert? Why do you feel so? Was it child abuse? A bad relationship? Did you suffer through the death of a favorite pet? Or are you simply insane?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Metal Project

Metal project ver. 1.4 - thejakeman

I already posted this, but I did so as an awkward link to last.fm. This iMeem(sp) thing let's me embed the songs right here, which is what I was looking for originally. I have made a ton more songs in the last month or two, but they still need to be put though quality testing (getting my friend's opinion) before I'll feel comfortable posting them.

McClintock Chunk 2

Only one page this time. Transcribing is a pain. By the by, these are notebook pages, not word pages.


When the first rib finally thrust itself out into the world, nearly every audience member of this grisly display shouted in fear. This only encouraged the remaining ribs, enticing them to burst forth as their brethren had. What they revealed, their foul secret, was a throbbing, gigantic mass of bloody tissue, slowly inflating like a macabre water balloon filled with blood. The mass, approaching three feet in diameter, was expanding in size with every throb. Joe’s legs finally gave out under him, stopping and then buckling beneath the gruesome mass. For a time, Joe lay still, the mass ever expanding. Some of the more unfortunate onlookers had just opened their doors, eager to help this respected and admired member of the community. The mass suddenly swelled, reaching double it’s size in mere seconds, immediately before exploding, spattering everything within half a mile with gallons of blood.

The day following Joe’s horrific death, a stranger came into town. McClintock was a popular tourist destination, so locals thought little of it, even during the aftermath of Joe’s gory demise. The stranger was nondescript, wearing jeans and a faded t-shirt appropriate to his appearance as a young, slim man, presumably in his early twenties.


Joe’s body remained in it’s final resting place. The storeowners and customers had exited through their back doors that day, avoiding the grim reality outside their front stoops. Most of the blood had seeped away, either into the drains or into the parched soil in the planters of the small decorative trees that lined that ill-fated road. A few crows had wandered near the body, but most flew away before taking a sample. Except for one.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mcclintock, Chunk One

I wrote this because I was bored. I've filled maybe 8 or so pages, but only transcribed two before I got bored. So, you'll see more of this when I feel up to copying it down. I realize it's a terrible story. That's pretty much intentional, yep. I was REALLY bored. J

Fantastical revue, deathly ends


 

The town of McClintock was unusually quiet today. The town was a shining example of modern Midwestern design (despite it's south eastern location): a central downtown followed by a layer of faux suburbia followed by extensive farmland. The weekly farmers market was the town's pride and joy, as well as its sole source of income. As is the current style, young urban professionals would drive in from nearby Atlanta to purchase fresh produce, which they promptly forgot and discarded upon discovery of their hasty rot.

    Still, the money, unlike the fruit, stayed fresh and even in a time of decline for small town life, McClintock flourished. Except today. Where normally the streets would be abuzz with excitement and chatter, today being a Market Day, there was only a cold pallor, enhanced by the darkly overcast sky. Occasionally a car or two would speed down the street, the occupants clearly anxious to meet their destination. A dove cooed, adding a haunting melody to the cacophony of despair that serenaded the town.

    The sickly shroud had lasted for almost two months now, seemingly in suspended motion. No one was really quite clear on what kept it alive, what fed it, but one thing was certain: it had started with the mayor's sudden and shocking death. The mayor of McClintock, Joseph Brackdon, was an energetic, jovial man who had lived his entire life in the fields surrounding McClintock. Indeed, his entire election campaign revolved around labeling himself as "Farmer Joe," a man of the people, in direct contrast to Jeffery Frankson who supported the progressive modernization of McClintock. Naturally, Jeffery lost in a landslide.

    Farmer Joe's last morning was spent on his usual daily round of visits to the downtown store owners. He had finished his last stop at a local boot repair and gun shop (the owner and Joe had been schoolboy chums and never grew out of their friendship. Joe purposely made it his last stop so he could spend the most time shooting the shit with him.) when he began feeling a violent pain in his chest.

    Panic –stricken, Joe desperately attempted to open the door of his '76 Chevy to reach the aspirin in his glove compartment; his hands had other plans. As the pain worsened, Joe felt his legs moving of their own volition, urging him back towards main street. Joe soon found himself running flat out, the pain ever greater. As a blurry red began to cloud Joe's vision, a sickening creak could be heard from within his chest. His shirt grew tighter, pulling apart at the seams. The creaking gave way to a loud cracking, audible even within the closed doors of the nearby shops. Joe fainted. Despite his lack of consciousness, Joe continued to run, run as quickly as he could. Faces were lining up at the storefront windows and passersby ceased their vagaries in response to the increasingly loud snapping emanating from Joe's chest.

I Made A Song

Whats he building? - Thejakeman

I was bored and wanted to spice up this short song thing I put together, so I went ahead and threw in bits of Tom Wait's "what's he building in there" to jazz it up.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Today, The Last Day Of Someone’s Life

Fascinating. I suppose it's a given, but I've found that my traffic spikes (from 1 or 2 to 7 or 10, whee!) about a day after I post a new entry. The question I have is: how is that? How do you guys know I've posted a new post? RSS feeds are my best guess, I suppose.

I feel somewhat depressed. I wrote about 600 words of a 1000 word short story I intended to post yesterday, but I accidentally deleted it. It has completely crushed my interest in writing a new short story, at least for the moment. Sigh.

Anyway, I came up with a screenplay idea. I have yet to hammer out the details, but it involves a man who throws chainsaws as weapons. Given Hollywood's current state, it should sell millions.

I copyright that concept.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On Recent Politics

Well, since I did partially make this blog to concern politics, and it is approximately a third of my interest in life, I will make a political comment. I feel silly doing so, considering the massive amount of blogs whose sole focus is the political craft.

Anyway, on the election: I feel kind of bad for John McCain. He ran way back in 2000 and was brutally stabbed in the back by his party (cause, you know, they don't like mavericks) and here we are eight years later, and despite his nearly secured (Ron Paul is, I believe still running) nomination his party still doesn't support him. So I feel bad, and I'll probably vote for him this November considering Obama's win is pretty much guaranteed.

As for Obama, I find him a fascinating example of making very lofty and heavy handed speeches while still tacking more or less to the classical moderate democrat stereotype. It is a bit disappointing, but I'm just happy a black person is finally going to be president. Even if he is an affluent black person, but really, who in politics isn't some sort of rich affluent guy? Heck, based on Obama's somewhat depressing childhood, I think he's worked through a lot more hardships than the average Bush/Gore political legacy/old money families.

Personally, I'm for radical change, be it liberal or republican. As an election, I would have preferred something like Ron Paul vs. Dennis Kucinich (actually, I liked Mike Gravel a bit better, but come on! It's Kucinich!). I am a registered republican as well, simply for the much more interesting mail I get. On that note, somehow I was put on a mailing list for the Council of Secular Humanism, something that amuses me to no end, I assure you. I also like to order gun catalogs, for kicks.

Anyway, this election will be pretty fascinating, and it will be nice to see it up close, as I am a poll worker volunteer. I first signed up for a project for civics, and found it to be a great experience. It wasn't too busy though, since it was just the June third local primaries. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that a Livermore local was running for the republican state assembly nomination for our district (Scott Kamena, incidentally also the son of our mayor and my dad's fiancé's optometrist), I don't think anyone would have showed up.

Well, this post is the first one I've made using word 2007's "publish to blog" tool, which seems a bit handier than trying to cut and paste from here to there. There are some issues, as I can't seem to edit posts that I've already made in word, so the font size in the last one was a bit diminished; my workaround here is just making this new post. Boy, technology these days is great. By the by, I prefer Garamond for just about anything I type.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

A fun little browser game

It fits into a "favicon" that little orange and white "b" thing up there on the top of your browser.

Defender(of the favicon)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Soar chapter 1

Well, I do write occasionally. Here is the first chapter(ish) of a book I'm writing.


Copyright Me, natch.



A few days passed before anyone noticed. Scientists later postulated the possibility that this had always been within our power, but was simply not noticed until now. At any rate, one small boy discovered it, and shared the secret of it with the rest of the world. The boy was soon forgotten to all but the most studious historians. His name was William Lambert, known as Billy to his friends and neighbors. Billy was an intelligent boy, especially for an eight year old. An avid reader and blessed with a great imagination, he had read book after book of mythology and magic. He didn't have too many friends his own age, and the few he did, he invariably kept at a distance, since his interests often failed to correspond with theirs. In the neighborhood he lived, crime and thuggery was rampant, further isolating this demure and bashful little boy. His favorite place in the whole world, was the local library, a place of wonder in which he could immerse himself in tales of old. He would momentarily overlook the failings of the world around him and imagine himself in another, brighter world; where chivalry and heroism still rang true, magic was abundant, and the impossible happened every day.

It was on one day, particularly a Wednesday; Billy was walking from his apartment complex to the library. On the way, Billy imagined what it would be like to soar like the birds, or Daedalus and Icarus in the quintessential Greek tale of human fallibility. When he was about 3 blocks away, Billy started making little hops and imagining lifting off. Deep down, Billy knew that this wouldn't work, but he still had hopes that maybe, just maybe, he would rise like a swan into the air. As he gave a little hop, Billy felt like he was reaching a bit higher than before. He kept it up, each time jumping a little higher than before, until he noticed a neighbor sitting on a porch staring at him. Properly browbeaten by this, Billy continued his walk to the library.

Jane Burton was a quiet, reticent woman of 57 years. she had worked a lengthy career in the insurance industry, putting in long hours to support herself and her only daughter after her husband left her and passed away of AIDS. I say had worked, because as soon as her daughter was on her own feet, she quit her career and took a (relatively) much quieter job as a librarian. Having dealt with so many pretentious brownnosers in her career, it was a joy for her to only deal with quiet, bookish folk. Unfortunately, the library had purchased new computers with online access, and since then it had been filled with noisy, rambunctious youth, who ignored the vast and fascinating worlds around them for the small and predictable world of their Myspace friends. Still, she found enough people that were genuinely interested in the main items that libraries had to offer, and thus had plenty of acquaintances. One such acquaintance was one Billy Lambert, who walked in and headed straight for the Fantasy section after dropping a few books into the return bin. Billy returned about a half an hour later with an armload of books.
“Going home so early?” said Jane
“I’ve got to make dinner for my brother, my mom’s working late” said Billy
“Oh, I could come by and help you, if you like”
“No thanks” Billy replied, feeling a bit uncomfortable about the offer.
“Well, ok. The books are due November 12th”
Billy subsequently left and began His journey home. About halfway down the second-to-last block, Billy again tried to hop into the air. He first gave a little skip, and felt something in his head twinge. He tried twinging that part of his head again, and felt a buzzing, first in his head, then moving all the way down to his feet. He tried jumping again, and found himself hovering fifteen feet in the air.

“Jiminy Jones!” exclaimed Billy.
________________________________________________________________________
Joe Briggs was an average guy. So much so that everything he attempted came out to be average. He was average at his job, average among his friends, and the average one in the family. He had average air speed, average weight, average intelligence, and an average sex life. There was, in fact, nothing anyone could say against him. Joe hated this with an average amount of passion.
Joe worked for Nike enterprises as a middle level manager. He was primarily in charge of the managers in the R&D section of the airsuit division. Airsuits were developed primarily due to concerns of potential mid-air hazards, such as bugs and the like. They were later developed to be far more aerodynamic than normal clothes, increasing airspeed by 5 to ten miles per hour depending on the user. His morning was predictably average, with three new reports to be processed and a quick “tiger-team lock up” meeting that mostly went over potential budget issues and the exact shade of a hated marketing exec’s ejecta during the summer retreat, spent dive bombing in sweltering hundred degree heat at Spanish Peaks in Montana. Joe hated dive bombing since he was never quite as good as the people he went with. The supply store at the camp was almost always out of helmets his size anyway. Of course, he always voted to do it for company retreats anyway, since he didn’t want to appear dissimilar to his colleagues. Joe hated his colleagues.
It being a Wednesday, Joe headed out for his usual Wednesday special of vegetable chow mein mixed with vegetable fried rice drowned in excessive amounts of soy sauce. Ever since an oriental restaurant had opened one story up, Joe had incorporated it into his weekly lunch schedule. After he flew back downstairs, Joe took a relaxing nap in his chair. When Joe woke up (around three hours later) he called his secretary, Andrea Burton ( who was even now in the midst of composing a brilliant exposé on the corruption inside the company) and asked her to do a few menial things, just to remind himself that he was working. Andrea, who had gotten quite used to this sequence of events, immediately returned to working on her third novel (it was the third of a series of murder mysteries featuring a woman who flew about and killed adulterous middle aged men and the bumbling male detective that failed to catch her at every turn. The series was entitled hell hath no fury), secure in the knowledge that her accomplishments (or lack thereof) would go completely unnoticed. Joe busied himself with throwing his favorite pen into the ceiling and retrieving it until the clock stroke 4:45, his usual quitting time. Sometimes his subordinates would object to this, but he found he could avoid hindrance that by yelling “I want that on my desk by tomorrow morning!” the instant he saw someone.
That evening, Joe was flying home when he noticed a person walking on the abandoned sidewalks far below. At first he thought it must be a mistake; no one had bothered walking since It was discovered, as It required nothing more than will power. No one had yet found themselves running out of energy while using it. As a matter of fact, many people had found their legs had atrophied to the point that any more than ten minutes of walking tired them completely over. Obesity had become even more rampant, as people would no longer receive even the basic exercise granted by walking about their offices or homes. Joe decided (in a completely extraordinary move, for him) to investigate. He swooped down, feeling the air rush by his Aerosuit Mk 2 (an average quality suit made by Nike) and watching the smaller birds scatter at the sudden emergence of this unexpected visitor. As he came close to the ground, the Walker turned to face Joe with a startled expression on his face.
“What are you doing down here?” said the Walker.
“I could ask you the same thing.” Said Joe, in an unprecedented display of wit.
“Walking, of course”
“Well, goodness, I can see that, but why aren’t you flying?”
“Don’t want to”
Now this was one of the most absurd things Joe had ever heard, (not saying much) why should anyone ever desire not to fly? It was the most marvelous experience. Though eventually it did become somewhat mundane, Joe supposed. Yet still, walking was far more mundane, besides being painful and unnecessary. What if he tripped? Or twisted an ankle?
“Why not?”
“Against my religion” said the Walker.
________________________________________________________________________
“We have peace in our time!” Boomed the Hegemon, presiding (and hovering, a move that would be later analyzed as being somewhat tactless considering his company) over the treaty signing by the highest Footman of the Walkers and his own Magister Pacem, one of the key leaders in the original decision to begin the war. Later, certain liberal groups would insist that he could be seen grinding his teeth throughout the ceremony. Peace did not guarantee unity, however, as just days later, Walker Scarerists deliberately destroyed a Soarian housing complex. In retaliation, the Soarians bombed a major Walker food source in the lush plains of Siberia. Both countries denied official involvement, and demanded that life continue as normal.
The Soarian Utrymme Byrå Had launched Its second generation of colony ships to Mars, after the Reds successfully terraformed a small portion of the planet by using vaporizers to melt the polar ice caps and liberate the oxygen trapped in the iron oxide on the surface. Susan Burton, a stern instructor of basic level schoolchildren, was one of the first on the volunteer list for the second colonization trip. All her life she had found It to be unsatisfactory, just a normal part of life. She didn’t have the patience for walking, though she saw its value as some of the younger children in her classes had yet to quite master It and it was unfair to leave them behind just as so. But Susan had her mind on bigger things. “Where can we go?” was the driving question of her life, her doctoral dissertation, and a frequent (and somewhat awkward) choice of conversational topic of hers. She had dismissed all ideas about somehow escaping into the fourth dimension as unfeasible, the afterlife as unrealistic, and the latest mind altering drugs as just downright dangerous.
When Susan first heard of the Martian colony project, immediately she (and nearly everyone else) recalled the past six disastrous attempts. The program was solely pushed through on the impetus to find a solution for the rampant overpopulation of Soaria. The day the news of the colony’s success was reported, Susan had to be escorted to her home by school security (the Walkers had taken to equipping children small enough to pass as Soarians unable to fly yet with remotely detonated explosives during the war) for disorderly conduct when she started whooping and yelling in the midst of a lecture on ancient American history. Months later, Susan was floating in line (another anti-Walker measure) with her identity card and a small briefcase of clothes and a few inspirational books. As she boarded the rocket, an attendant handed Susan a small brochure outlaying where Susan would live and her assigned occupation (instructor), as well a bright, optimistic little picture of cornfields on the edge of a red tinted wilderness accompanied by a cheerful face stating
“Welcome to the Second Successful Martian Colonization Expedition!”
Susan felt a vague sense of unease upon reading it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hey!

Wow, I'm really letting this $10 a year investment slide.

Hey folks! You don't have to register to make a comment! Feel free!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Burkett: a Game



So this is the game that I put together for a project. I ended up just making a video, since I couldn't get it installed on the computers. Even then I didn't actually show it, since I had some trouble getting the video to play and the teacher was being pushy. So, instead of the two original songs I put there, I would have been talking through those segments.

Apologies for the terrible dialogue. I wrote it first, intending to edit it later. The part I skip over real fast says “southern aggresors” which I kept forgetting to fix. Since this was made for an advanced placement English class, I thought it best to smooth over niggles like that.

It's probably worth mentioning, this was about 20 hours of work over 1 month. the first fast forwardy bit is about 15 minutes of said work.

You can see a larger version of the video on youtube here

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pogs are cool

So I had a nice holiday weekend. I spent it with family in Alameda, an interesting offshoot of Oakland. (it’s on an island right next to Oakland) It has a strange vibe. It’s most definitely a rich town comparatively, but the streets are still full of cracks and crevices, the buildings run down and the demographic generally Oaklandish. All of the new buildings though, have a sort of yuppy feel, with a super big national grocery chain store right next to a good sized national food outlet store chain next to it. There’s a brand new books/music/movies/coffee shop store there two, that even has a fancy escalator in the middle.

There were quite a lot of teenagers there, though. Teenagers make me worried, since they’re basically adults with less inhibition. Apparently, some years ago, when Alameda first became a destination, quite a number of families moved out there. The kids grew up and are now average graffito spraying, overly privileged suburban kids. Humph.

A more interesting post on the morn, dear gents.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Phases, Places

So, I haven’t shown up in a bit. Probably a bad habit, I should update this daily, if for no one other than my 26 steady readers. Yesterday I decided to pick up some form of music editing software, so I google “garage band for windows” and I found Mixcraft 4 by Acoustica® and put together a few songs. I put the only one that I feel is ready for the public on last.fm, so you can listen to (or download) it here.

Flew off my bike for the first time in three years today. Got a nasty bump on my left shin, but otherwise I escaped unharmed. Was trying to open a bottle of sports drink while riding. It was working fine until I decided to brake.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Bottled Water

The inspiring article

Blingh20 Not Work Safe, sort of

I've always found it interesting what people will do when convinced that it is somehow better for them, despite publicly available research that shows otherwise. It worries me though. Today, bottled water and "oxygen bars" tomorrow... Actually, i think we've taken this whole human 2.0 thing as far as it's going to go. We have health food and fortified fruit smoothies on every block, atlantean rejuvenation chambers in new mexico, and "light" juices (that are really just watered down versions of regular juice with a popular non-sugar additive added to make up the difference). what else can we really do? I can see building upon these products, but beyond that I can't see a whole lot more innovations. Maybe nanobots that ferry around adenosine triphosphate directly to our cells, without us having to go through all that respiration jazz. I imagine there's a whole host of new biological problems caused by that, though.

Also, one word used in an interview in that article worried me a bit; "mouthfeel" describing how a liquid feels to the mouth. I'm not sure when we decided to step away from taste and invent a new word for a particular sensation out of a complete bastardization of two existing words. It seems rather newspeakish. I blame marketing.

I suppose I'm overreacting a bit.

Motivations, Immolations Pt. 2

Wow, look at that, I wrote an entire post and forgot what it was originally about.

That’s just no good.

I started this blog as a step in a plan to find alternate revenue streams as opposed to depending solely on a 9-5 job. As outlined in the previous post, I am unsure quite how I will manage this, but I’ll be giving it a shot anyhow. I’m also looking for work at this point in time, so if there are any local employers browsing; I have a year and a half’s experience as a cashier.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Motivations, Immolations.

While barely managing to keep my expectations low, I’ve been quite pleased with this blog’s success so far. At the end of its first week (first five days, really) I’ve managed to pull about 163 visits and 203 pageviews. This far surpassed my “six people and five of which I had to drag by ear” original expectation.

I feel somewhat bad, as my first couple of posts have been solely focused on a transportation issue in the town I live in. not particularly entertaining. I honestly have yet to decide a direction for this blog, as most niche’s are already filled by another twenty to thirty other blogs, many of which are much better than mine can hope to become. I considered making this a short story outlet, which still doesn’t seem to bad of an idea, assuming I can get enough visitors to actually comment on the posts. Until such time in which I decide the overall direction this blog is going, I will simply regale passerby with amusing anecdotes from my life, maybe an occasional link, or mention of something I like or whatever. But I don’t like that idea so much, as I know firsthand how boring people and their lives can really be. So perhaps I will limit the anecdotes to particularly good ones.

On the traffic thing, I am quite serious about my exceeded expectations. I have a friend of mine who runs a forum here(and has been for some time) that still only has about seventeen (:]) members (including me :|) including some guys from a website called forumpromotion.net. I kind of expected my blog to be like that for quite some time, at least until I figured out a strategy for growth. but a quick and easy $5 donation (that I would have thrown in anyway, really) to child’s play for the Mario marathon guys netted me a little surge in visits, along with the various links to this blog I left on a few forums. I suppose this is just an initial swell that will quickly dissipate once the people who wander in realize I have nothing interesting to say anyway.

So, any comments?

Misguided Philantrophy

Yesterday, I was out biking (as part of a summer fitness regimen) when I noticed a pair of displaced people sitting by a shopping center entrance. Just to clarify, I have terrible willpower when it comes to panhandlers, so I try to keep as far away as I can or I'll burst out in tears and give them my bank card and pin number. So anyway, I rode on by and stopped into a drugstore and spent the two bucks of cash I had on me there on a cold sport drink. The entire time, however, I was thinking that I should give the cash to the destitute folks outside instead of wasting it on my (relatively) advantaged self. My sense of thirst won out though, so I thought about it for a bit and decided I would give them a pair of bus tickets I had in my pocket (I dunno, in case I broke an ankle riding or something). They were really appreciative about it, though my internal guilt machine kept reminding me of the cool drink I had in my other hand and the bank card in my pocket. I managed to escape pretty quickly and went to have lunch at a local Mexican fast food restaurant. I came out later and hopped back on my bike and waved to them as I left, they waved back. They were pretty nice folks.

It’s weird, when I originally wrote this, I included a bunch of brand names for the things I did, almost subconsciously. I don’t really like this method of worming into people’s heads, so I edited it to take them out.

Do you also have an internal guilt machine?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bright side.

Today i was on the local Bus system here in Livermore returning from an assessment test up at Las Positas, when I encountered perhaps the best bus driver I've met so far in my travels. A man had missed the bus in front of ours by mere moments and gotten on our bus instead, pleading his case. the bus driver, Harold immediately contacted the driver of the bus just in front of us and arranged for a quick bus switch, saving that man half an hour of his life. Harold continued on his way, amicably chatting with a passenger seated behind him. It was very nice. Quite a few of the drivers i've met are like that, though not quite as much. Wheels is a pretty good service, even if it is eating a hole in the pockets of Livermore's parents.

Bus fares, bad? or worse?

I want to bring up a little known issue that affects nearly a quarter of Livermore’s population and many of Livermore High’s students, namely, bus fares. As it stands, the Wheels bus fare is at one of the highest levels in the bay area, rivaled only by ACE transit. ACE transit, however, features one thing that Wheels does not: a lower fare for youth riders. The cost for a person seventeen or under to ride ACE is 85¢, as compared to the $1.75 regular fare. Wheels charges $1.75 right up until one is a senior citizen. This a significant problem, especially when considering that many of our students are forced to use the bus to get to and from school each day, since the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District does not provide school buses for them.

This means that students without cars, under the age of 16, or without parents willing or able to transport their children to and from school every day pay $3.50 each day just to get to and from school. That’s $17.50 a week, for a total of $630 every school year. Even with Fare Busters tickets at $14 a week, that still totals $504 dollars a school year. With Super-Saver bus passes, it comes to $477 a school year.

This places an unnecessary financial burden upon the parents (or often the students themselves). I propose that Wheels enacts a lower fare for youth riders, to alleviate the impact on our more financially or mobility constricted families. While one might argue that this would lower revenues for Wheels and cause it to run at even more of a loss, I’ve seen the budget, and the majority of the costs are construction related. Perhaps the next few times a construction proposal crosses the table, it will be denied instead. I’m dismayed that Wheels would rely on a section of Livermore’s population that is dependent on these services to make revenues above actual, non construction costs.



*update, Wheels did in fact raise fares. It is now $2.00 general fare and $1.00 for seniors. All of the additional prices have ratcheted up as well.