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i Zone


  a man's called a traitor - or liberator
a rich man's a thief - or philanthropist
is one a crusader - or ruthless invader?
it's all in which label
is able to persist
there are precious few at ease
with moral ambiguities
so we act as though they don't exist

Tuesday, November 30  
2:44 PM : : propaganda is pretty (or) viva ernesto. i walked into a bar once, in glasgow, scotland. this is not a set up for a joke. unless you think me willingly walking into a bar is amusing. this particular bar was adorned with lots of etched red stars, hammer and sickles, images of lenin, trotsky and mao, along with a nice classy manhattan-ish atmosphere. upon closer inspection, as i cue-ed up to order my girly drink, i saw che guevara's image frosted into the glass on the bar's refrigerator door. name of the bar? revolution. duh.

i thought it was so odd that a bar's design theme was revolution and apparently, socialism. is the bar being political? are drinks drunk community style or parceled out equally? i didn't get it. and why was this che character on the refrigerator? i wondered if that had to be specially made or if a company just happens to make che frosted refrigerator doors. so i investigated. first by clarifying exactly who this che character was. at that point, i had no knowledge of anything about che's life or beliefs, aside from that one pervasive image of him.
"in the late 1960s, che became a popular icon for revolution and youthful political ideals in western culture. a dramatic photograph of che taken by photographer alberto korda in 1961 soon became one of the century's most recognizable images, and the portrait was simplified and reproduced on a vast array of merchandise, such as t-shirts, posters, and baseball caps."
but what does that mean? che is a pop icon? great. was the bar reinforcing his icon status by turning a tidy profit serving alchohol to the masses or was it admiring him for his beliefs?
"why do people admire guevara? because they are admiring themselves in depth for something they already have inside, but that they have to exercise. and, unfortunately, nowadays they are told that ideals are not possible. and this is a lie. ideals are possible. how are they going to squeeze out life, saying we cannot be human, we cannot be generous with other human beings?

many of argentina's young regard che as a symbol of hope and freedom for people in need, and that he harks back to an age of higher ideals.

even liberal elements that felt little sympathy with che's communist ideals during his lifetime expressed admiration for his spirit of self-sacrifice. he is singled out from other revolutionaries by many young people in the west because he rejected a comfortable bourgeois background to fight for those who were deprived of political power and economic stability. and when he gained power in cuba, he gave up all the trappings of privilege and power in cuba in order to return to the revolutionary battlefield and ultimately, to die."
this seemed a bit too complex to be reflected in an image, much less on a refrigerator door. and then i found out that revolution was the world's biggest chain of vodka bar. so maybe the theme finally made sense (vodka = potatoes = russia = communism?) even if nothing else did. this led me to wonder if maybe che's image was being exploited for commercial purposes -- i know, inconceivable. i mean, people are walking around with his picture all over the place, but does anyone know what it means? if you're gonna have someone's face on your chest, it's probably better to know what the symbol/icon represents right?

somehow however, this is not the case. i'm sure if people started popping out iconic pictures of jeffrey dahmer -- assuming anyone recognized dahmer's image -- it would be an instant best seller. if only for the shock and cool factor. i'm actually surprised OJ hasn't been made into a t-shirt yet. or has he? maybe it's best if we wait twenty years to paste OJ's mug all over the place so that his role in the naked gun movies can be forever forgotten.

i don't understand how people can plaster themselves with symbols, logos, faces, without knowing anything about what they're wearing. then again, i choose all my clothing based on aesthetic value and solid colors, so who am i to talk? but if i were to emblazon myself, i'd like to at least do some research into who/what i'm weaering.

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Monday, November 29  
6:14 PM : : shoot, coward, you're only going to kill a man. like so many epics, the story of the obscure argentine doctor who abandoned his profession and his native land to pursue the emancipation of the poor of the earth began with a voyage. in 1956, along with fidel castro and a handful of others, he had crossed the caribbean in the rickety yacht granma on the mad mission of invading cuba and overthrowing the dictator fulgencio batista. landing in a hostile swamp, losing most of their contingent, the survivors fought their way to the sierra maestra. a bit over two years later, after a guerrilla campaign in which guevara displayed such outrageous bravery and skill that he was named comandante, the insurgents entered havana and launched what was to become the first and only victorious socialist revolution in the americas.

the images were thereafter invariably gigantic. che the titan standing up to the yanquis, the world's dominant power. che the moral guru proclaiming that a new man, no ego and all ferocious love for the other, had to be forcibly created out of the ruins of the old one. che the romantic mysteriously leaving the revolution to continue, sick though he might be with asthma, the struggle against oppression and tyranny.

his execution in vallegrande at the age of 39 only enhanced guevara's mythical stature. that christ-like figure laid out on a bed of death with his uncanny eyes almost about to open; those fearless last words ("shoot, coward, you're only going to kill a man") that somebody invented or reported; the anonymous burial and the hacked-off hands, as if his killers feared him more after he was dead than when he had been alive: all of it is scalded into the mind and memory of those defiant times. he would resurrect, young people shouted in the late '60s; i can remember fervently proclaiming it in the streets of santiago, chile, while similar vows exploded across latin america. "no lo vamos a olvidar!" we won't let him be forgotten.
-time magazine-

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Saturday, November 27  
1:19 AM : : wok n roll. on the list of "most unique things i've ever seen in my life," i'd say seeing kenny snare an eight bagger was just about a top five event. isn't it amazing to see someone you know do the most incredible thing? i mean, how often have you seen an eight bagger? in print, on tv, in real life? i'd bet never.

i know a few folk who think they're pretty good bowlers but i doubt they've ever had eight strikes in a row. by the time we started paying attention to kenny's handiwork, he was already five frames and five strikes in. by the time he got up to six strikes, the lanes next to us were clapping and cheering him on. when strike number seven was delivered via a tottering number three pin, the crowd in back (three old guys holding beers and wearing real trucker hats) were toasting him.

i felt like i was a part of muhammad ali's posse. "kenny boma-ye!" in my head i was thinking of what would happen if we saw kenny get a perfect game. would we take pictures? would we get complimentary shoe rentals? would we get cake? would they shut down the other lanes and thrown us an impromptu party? would they rename the thirteenth lane "kenny alley?" my mind raced through emergency scenarios. would we have to sneak kenny out the back because of hordes of autograph seekers? would i have to catch projectile panties?

luckily for us, kenny missed a few pins on frame nine and the 300 dream died. but he still ended up bowling a 262. an unprecedented feat and worthy of a top five life moment i'd say. a two sixty two. are you bleeping serious?!? kenny is a super stud. and his bowling style is very, how you say, unique. just all limbs and snoop dogg laid backness. it's crazy.

on a sidenote, every time we bowl boys against girls, we lose (kenny was a girl for the purposes of this competition). the two highest scores outside of kenny's on friday were both scored by girls. a few years ago, me, greg and louis were beaten badly by winnie, carol and george. that time, all the girls bowled above 150 (winnie had a 200+) and our top "man" had maybe 130? they should really have bowling as an event on real world: battle of the sexes. why haven't they done this?

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Wednesday, November 24  
1:08 PM : : popular. you're gonna be pop-u-lar. there's this notoriety a guy can get, simply by having friends. not just any friends, but by having a hot friend. or more accurately, the hot friend. say you have a friend who knows the local hot girl, suddenly every guy is wondering two things. one, why is she friends with this loser and not me? two, how can i get to be friends with him so that i can hang out with her?

guys are simple creatures. whomever has the fastest car gets acclaim. the best basketball player comes to be defined by his on-court heroics. the smartest guy in a room full of sub-seventy IQed neanderthals is immediately dubbed "einstein." the guy with the hottest girl friend gets his own special medal. he gets invited to functions simply because there's an outside, teasing, chance that he'll invite her along.

guys don't even try to hide their motivation for asking "friend of hot girl" along. girls will do this. they'll try to couch their desire for a (male) hot friend in language that suggests they actually want YOU to go. "yeah, we're like totally having a jacuzzi party on friday, and you should totally come. and oh yeah, bring tony for sure." or better yet, they go the slightly more direct route of "you should really try (but not too hard) to come to our sleepover... and i think i'll invite tony too, what's his number?"

dudes feel no compulsion to pretend that they're after anything but the hot friend. "listen vincent, you can come to vegas with us if you invite vanessa along. but if she doesn't come, we ain't got no room for you in the car." guys will also put up with almost any nuisance/annoyance, as long as the hot girl comes out. vincent is a blabbering idiot who has a rock bottom social rating? who cares, he knows vanessa. invite him.

there comes a time however, when vincent's utter un-bring-along-ability finally outweighs vanessa's hotness. at this point, a ritual separation of your guys and vincent/vanessa happens. i can tell you from personal experience that this threshold is a lot higher than one might think. it would take an absolute terrible time -- many of them in frequent succession -- with vincent to negate the joy that could be had with vanessa in the party. guys are good at this kind of math, trust me. the best scenario of course, is if you can split vanessa and vincent beforehand. this nifty process is called, "separating the curd from the whey."

note that this also applies equally to all vickys who are friends with vanessas. so if your invite says "vincent/vicky plus one particualr mandatory guest," you know what's up. just give us vanessa and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. thanks.

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Tuesday, November 23  
1:04 PM : : defying gravity. the best relationship advice i've ever gotten? technically, it wasn't relationship advice but rather pre-relationship advice. the words of wisdom boiled down to "get it over fast, get it over quick, bite the bullet, know where you stand." this having to do with finding out if someone could possibly have requited interest in you. the worst feeling in all the world is not knowing if someone likes you or not. you sit there and wonder, staring at them out of the corner of your eyes, feeling their very prescence from across the room. did that glance and quick smile have more significance than its supposed to? when she said she'll call, will she? this is pre-relationship torture. the not knowing part. so, one of my friends many years ago showed me, by example, how to eradicate this problem.

there was this girl that he probably maybe liked. he had been eyeing her for awhile and the mixed signals he was receiving weren't giving him any clear indication about what her feelings for him were. so, over a quick beer, during a brief interlude at a party, he asked her. "so, how do you feel about me?" paraphrased of course. i'm sure there was a lead in and an intro, a smooth transition from "how's the party" to "so, do you like me?" actually, i know that this particular friend doesn't mince words so he probably did ask exactly as i've reconstructed it.

when he told me what he had done, i was in total shock. wait, you actually just asked her? like right then and there? no preparation? no counsel? no passing notes back and forth between her friends and your friends? that's incredible! that's so mature! that's so taking the bitch by her horns! is that even allowed? his response was that such a swift decisive action can only be positive. either she returns your feelings of affection or she doesn't -- freeing you to cry in your little corner a bit earlier. my friend made the international gesture for wiping his hands clean and left his pre-relationship dilemma at that. and like a little padawan, i learned from his exercise in temerity, vowing to always declare my feelings if ever i felt them.

at which point you decide to ask the person is up to you. if you want to nip the potential like/love/fascination/pain in the bud, before you get flagrantly emotional, do it soon. if you want to wait until you are fully emotionally bound up to ask, then do it later. the only thing to not do is sit there and never ask, never find out, never know if they could or could not like you, out of fear that the answer is "no." or just out of general pussyness. also, don't ask if you're not sure you like them, otherwise you could be opening up an entirely different can of worms. if you just want to take a shot in the dark and see what you hit, this advice is not for you. anyway, that my friends, is the best relationship advice i've ever gotten. go forth and prosper.

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Monday, November 22  
2:58 PM : : me (and us) against the world. one of the best ways to ensure good practicable relationship advice is to find someone who thinks just like you do. they have the same theories, they have the same morals, they can see your side in every situation. an ally like this is invaluable. when the chips are down and you're standing on the firing line (saturday nights for me, might be different for you), you can always bust out the "but so-and-so totally agrees with me!" something about having another person agree with your view makes everything seem much less wack. this tactic may not save your relationship for long, but it can be a useful mis-direction move if used properly. the key is to not rely on your ace in the hole in every argument.

chances are, no matter how despicable your action, no matter how tired your excuse, you'll have somebody in your corner. this is known as the "my girls syndrome." if you are a female and happen to have a few ryde or die bitches in your inner circle of girl friends, you know what i'm talking about. even if you just cheated on your boyfriend with his brother, even if you just had his father's baby, your girls will still support you and see your side -- until you turn your back anyway. the only time your girl friends will turn against you is if you cheat on your boyfriend with one of their boyfriends. then nobody will trust you and you're ostrasized. time to make new friends at that point. still, until this happens (37% chance), having this type of team behind you will give you the mental strength necessary to do what you want to do.

relationship advice is too varied and plentiful to have one rule of thumb for all situations. you have to take into account how two people interact, how needs and wants are different from person to person. this is what makes giving/receiving relationship advice almost a waste of time. everyone knows what they should do, because there is definitely a handbook about what to do. but that never seems to apply to most of the population, because each relationship is unique and dare i say it, special. the only relationship advice you really end up giving most of the time is "stay the course," "maybe you should tell him how you feel," or "dump his ass." everything else is just a variation on these three themes.

i've been listening to a lot of dr laura during my drive home and she gives out relationship advice on her show. it's amazing how caustic and acerbic she is. she pulls no punches, cuts callers off, and always just rips them a new one. she tells them to stay, talk, or dump, ten seconds into a phone call. she's really quite amazing. she doesn't take into account any extraneous factors that might go into explaining "why he treats me so bad." as much as i'm unappreciative of dr laura's conceit, i do think she makes a good example for relationship advice givers. you don't need the whole story to say "stay, talk, dump." all you need to hear is what happened, how long it's been happening, and how that action makes someone feel, before suggesting a solution.

but sometimes, with incoming relationship advice, you just want someone to agree with you. you want them to say that "staying with the loser is good, if it makes you happy." you grow to value a person's advice because they keep on yes-manning you. it's easier to be supported in all that you do, instead of being battered by rationality each time you bring up a new situation. which is better? the straight shooter and the voice of reason, or the "girls" who always got your back?

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Sunday, November 21  
2:01 PM : : loveline. what makes someone qualified to give love advice? or rather, relationship advice? since we know that giving love advice is merely useless. when someone is in love, all the advice in the world won't make a dent in their thinking. so, relationship advice it is. but who do we turn to? are we more likely to listen to relationship advice from our trusted friends? from people who egg us on to do "whatever makes you happy?" what sets the criteria for good relationship advice?

first of all, it's generally thought of as bad to take advice from people who are either limited in experience or overly experienced. the former doesn't know shit, the latter are stuck in black hole-like ruts. who wants to listen to advice from someone who has had 20 failed relationships in a row? nobody. so, in the relationship advice industry, there is a clear middle ground of experience for who is the "best person" to take advice from.

some people feel like taking advice from people with successful relationships is the best route. "how did you deal with [insert problem]? what should i do to make her less angry? how can i make her feel appreciated while still ignoring her? is attraction really that important?" it's thought that people who are successful in relationships have the answers to these questions. but really, i find that truism to be false.

people who have successful relationships have gotten lucky. lucky in love. sure they've grown and matured and sacrificed for each other, but it's probably more a case of good match making than any relationship skill that "successful relationship-ers" possess. also, keep in mind, people only need to win the relationship lottery once to be set for life (well 50% of the time anyway, according to current divorce rates. but conceivably just once). nobody is consistently having bomb ass relationship after bomb ass relationship. your batting average will usually be 1-for-whatever. and if that one comes early, you look like a relationship genius, a true guru of the heart. me? i attribute that to luck. you took your monster cut at the ball and hit it out of the park. *clap*clap* i'm happy for you. but what do you know about the rollercoaster lifestyle of bad relationship followed by awful relationship?

the people i want to talk to are the ones who have fulfilled these criteria: (1) have had more than three serious relationships. (2) have had more than two different types of relationship issues to deal with. (3) don't have a track record for serial dating. (4) have achieved some sort of lasting happiness in at least one relationship. i want to talk to the people who've had a few strikeouts, had a bunt or two, learned how to stretch a single into a double, and then finally hit a good clean triple. they may not have muscled out a home run yet, but they're working on it. i have no desire to take relationship advice from people who haven't yet stepped up to the plate, or from the power couple who smashed the leather off the ball on one lucky swing.

after all, who makes the best coaches in competitive sports (and relationships are a competitive sport)? the best coaches are the mediocre players who really had to work on their game. generalization, great players don't make great coaches. why? because the game comes too naturally to them. if you're genetically inclined to be a great boy/girlfriend, what can you share about your winning formula? nothing. you need a coach who had to learn everything from the ground up, someone who really had to use their limited abilities to overachieve. that's the kind of guy i want on my relationship bench -- i want the hard cheering twelfth man, not the petulant superstar.

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Thursday, November 18  
2:03 PM : : you can do it put your back into it. it's done. all my passwords and secret things have been compiled into a document and i'm now ready to share them. not with you though. and not with george either, even if it is her idea that we should be exchanging passwords/bank accounts/credit card numbers/etc. apparently george and i don't trust each other enough to directly exchange our information just yet. my time served for breaking into her hello kitty diary must not be over. and i can't let go of her nasty habit of using my secrets to get back at me when we're in an argument. so, the thing to do, we decided, was to give all of our information to a third party. which third party? you will have to kill both of us (quickly, compassionately and at the same time) to find out. this was another reason for us to exchange information through a third party. if we happen to go down the cherry blossom lane together, someone else will have access to our secrets -- i mean, our important account information.

i've decided to take the exchanging of passwords one step further. i'm not writing a will, because really, i have nothing to bequeath upon anyone. except my sidekick-2 to ameer, which is his in the instance that i move past this life before he upgrades to the new one. everything else is free game. actually no, scratch that. i will make a will, it's much easier that way. but i think i should also ready a document that will contain my thoughts about everyone and everything. in case i get famous soon and people are interested in what i think, thought. i'm just covering my ass here in case i get gunned down -- hopefully by an unknown assailant, rap star style -- as i accept my pulitzer or something. we're hitting the age when death is starting to be an issue and not just a fun getting to know you, "oh, where are you from?" game.

the age when we start to acquire stuff, that's when we need to think about death. if you have a car, a house, a family, a life, or in my case, important fantasy sports' commissioner duties, you need to think about how other people will access your records when you die. it's actually quite amazing, how far you can get into someone's account just by saying "oh i'm sorry, he's passed away and i don't have the password, can't you just send me his information? weep weep sob sob. thank you oh so much. bless your soul." death is a powerful negotiating tool. if i were into scamming people for their password protected valuables, death would be my number weapon.

but sometimes, even citing a person's death will get you nowhere. so i encourage everyone to write down their passwords, their accounts, their sensitive information, their every itty bitty secret and mental transgression, and pass it along to a trusted friend, ally or family member. this seems like a pretty drastic step for twenty something year olds, but by listening to my words of wisdom, you'll thank me when you're dead. or the people who finally get their hands on your free magazine subscriptions will thank me. whatever.

for my preemptory advice, be sure to leave me something sparkly, electronic or expensive in your will. thanks. my condolences for your eventual death. tell me what kind of flowers you like and i'll be sure to send them at the appropriate time.

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Tuesday, November 16  
1:30 PM : :

a state of involuntary celibacy brought on by bad hygiene.
"i wouldn't swear by it but i think gene's smellibacy is over."

person who chronically misses every event after committing to it.
"is babbs gonna be here? or is he pulling a showflake again?"

a hiatus from guys.
"i don't think lilly's coming out tonight, she's still on guyatus."

a significant other who finds it necessary to hover around his or her mate at all times.
"gawd, i wish james would quit being such a helicopter."

one who is incredibly dumb but incredibly cute, who simultaneously attracts and repels.
"i don't know why des insists on going out with all these foxymorons."

mouse potato
the wired generation's answer to the couch potato.
"xtina's lack of wireless is really holding her back from becoming a full fledged mouse potato."

a less-than-hygienic boyfriend.
"better open the window. here comes tabitha and her hobeau."

a group of undesirable sycophants.
"the party was fun until victor showed up with his nontourage."

drunk instant-messaging.
"meggo's my all time favorite drimmer."

obnoxious party-invite acronyms. "no ugly men, please/no ugly women, thanks."
"hotel pan insists on a strict O(nly)UMP/OUWT policy."

acronym. girl-hating girl. the one whose only friends are guys.
"isn't it obvious? george(tte)'s a total ghag."

gym dandies who constantly check themselves out in the mirror.
"i hate going to the gym with galvez, he's such a staremaster."

holding multiple phones to your ears or in front of you at the same time.
"is ameer really that popular? does he really need to go biphonal?

acronym. self-centered undeserving male.
"may says, 'all men are scum.'"

"homosexual-in-training." he may not know it yet, but everyone else does.
"jimmy sure likes to play gay chicken a lot, is he a HIT-man?"

"i have that t-shirt."
been there, done that.
guy 1: "i totally hooked up with lynn last night."
guy 2: "i have that t-shirt."

stalking someone via e-mail.
"i wish jon g would e-maul me..."

reverse evolution princes (r.e.p.)
men who at first seem to be princes but turn out to be frogs.
"of course i left her at the altar, that's what real men do. i had to maintain our r.e.p. bro!"

area populated by good-looking people.
"she must be visiting, there's no way she lives in this beighborhood."

someone who looks really attractive from 50 feet away. closer examination reveals...
"i hate e-street, it's filled with fifty-footers."

support group called "failed lovers against caller id."
don't say you haven't been there. we all have.

a meeting whose sole purpose is to discuss why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who was responsible.

a poorly made coffee beverage that cost upwards of four dollars.

thanks to je-yi and the hard working folk at daily candy.

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Monday, November 15  
3:45 PM : : special ed. the only semi-pawned off message from the incredibles was: "and when everyone is super, then no one will be." that was the diabolical plan of the technological genius -- a fanboy who chose to turn to the dark side after being shunned as mr incredible's sidekick. buddy, aka syndrome, wasn't out to take over the world or to destroy life as we know it, he just wanted to make everyone super so that super would no longer be special. that's a cool goal for a super villain. it's not cliche, it's not trite, and it opens the door for the patented "message" from the movie.

the question is, if everyone is special (as we're told all of the time), doesn't that really mean that nobody is special? if specialness is a trait and a treat akin to a cookie, then everyone who has a cookie is special, right? no, because according to most people, receiving a cookie is only special if one person or a few people get it. if everyone gets a cookie (or a gold star, or a trophy, or a commendation, or a stamp of approval), then what makes that special? nothing!

in my experience, this is certainly true. try explaining to a friend or worse, a girlfriend, that your giving of a cookie to everyone still means that their particular cookie is special. that's an argument you are destined to lose. "i love talking to you!" but wait, you said before you loved talking to everyone. now that's no longer special. special is "what i get that nobody else gets." if you "love talking to me (and just me)," that's special. if you love talking to everyone plus me, then that's no longer special. i often ask myself, "why can't all cookies just be special?" because it doesn't work that way. special is only special if it's rare.

this is the problem. people inherently want to be different and one of a kind or simply, unique. draw the line at "those who have super powers and those who do not" and you create one half of haves and one half of have nots. the have nots want what they didn't get. the haves see fit to lord over the have nots because they already gotten.

on a tangent, i bet heroes who lack super powers (like punisher, moon knight or night thrasher) must feel infinitely inferior to those gifted with natural abilities (mutants, fantastic four, even green lantern or quasar). along these lines, batman should really be outclassed more often than he is -- at least he would be if he weren't fighting under-powered idiots like penguin, joker and two face. batman's gimmick is that he's super smart and inventive but that can only take you so far in a supers war. unless your technology outfits you like iron man, you aren't really a super hero. you're just a highly trained normal person beating up on untrained normal people. you are a soldier with a skill, but no real powers. try having batman face off against a real super villain and he'll get his ass handed back to him every time. in the hierarchy of super heroes, normal humans equipped with nice toys and superior training rank slightly above the aquamans of the universe.

back to the point. by telling everyone that they're special, we're creating a false sense of equality. we're not all equal, everyone should be treated equally but not everyone is special. i'm special, you're special, but not everyone is special. otherwise that would contradict the definition of "special" now wouldn't it? it's essentially capitalism versus socialism. and in this case, capitalism prevails.
"the incredibles seems to imply that we are all "special" but that some of us are more special than others, and the world is a better, happier place if individuals are free to openly express and pursue excellence rather than repressing these characteristics so as to not offend the sensibilities of the masses in the statistical average."
instead of elevating everyone to special status or dragging some people off of their pedestals, why not let the chips fall where they may? some chips end up special, some don't. there's nothing wrong with that. we can't all be special but we can all get along. right?

then again, if all the x-men have special powers, doesn't that make them not "special powers" anymore? no, because each power is still different. if there were two guys who could both teleport, then maybe it's not that special. but there's only one nightcrawler. just like there's only one of each "special" friend. so, all of my interactions with friends can be special, if not so on the meta level, then at least on the micro level. in this way, you can "love to talk to everyone" while still "loving to talk to just one." at least that's how i see it according to this mixed up reasoning.

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Sunday, November 14  
5:27 PM : : mundane. watched the incredibles this weekend. pixar has a track record for making smart witty movies. sadly, the incredibles doesn't measure up. stop reading here if you haven't seen it. because i know many of you are probably inclined to like the incredibles and the power of my movie review might taint your experience. a super hero themed movie by pixar, how could it go so wrong? it's not that the incredibles was bad, it's just that i expected so much more. i wanted more riffing on the state of super heroes gone normal. there weren't enough "wow, that was really funny/smart" moments.

some people have said that maybe this film's failings can be attributed to the fact that pixar is finally tackling an animated movie about real people, instead of a movie about animated creatures/objects. but no, that wasn't the problem for me. the problem was that the incredibles didn't give us a new take on the super hero as normal citizen bit. monsters inc gave us "monsters who are normal people but are paid to scare kids" and ran with it. incredibles gives us no clear message and no really good takes on what it's like to be a super hero at home.

some of the best parts of the movie were the action parts and seeing how the different characters used their powers, which ain't right. the movie seemed to be constructed with the idea that the characters were super heroes first, and then normal people second -- instead of the other way around. the success of the other pixar movies was based on the concept of people as toy/bug/fish/monster and it should have stayed that way for this movie, but it didn't.

SPOILER. and the ending with the baby was just bad. not because it was obvious -- one expects these things -- but because the super power that was exposed was just terrible. the power made no sense and maybe the effect got a few cheap laughs but i certainly wasn't laughing. make the damn kid have a defined power. don't make him turn into a steel weight and then suddenly transform into a demon. boring. shape shifter my ass.

the highlight of the movie (as professed by all) was super hero costume designer, edna mode. why? because it was a side of super heroes we've never seen before. we've seen super heroes tearing shit up, we've seen them lose their powers or be forced not to use them. but we haven't seen the behind the scenes of the super hero life. seeing a celebrity super hero costume designer was new and fresh. but i wanted more. how does mr invulnerable cut his toenails? does running really fast translate into thinking/talking really fast? show elastigirl grabbing her wedding ring as it drops down the drain. show us behind the scenes, into the theme, which was "super heroes as normal people." it seems like they forgot during the middle part of the movie that they were making a movie contrasting super hero life with domestic life, and when the contrasting elements were brought back in, it was way too late. and that's why the incredibles lost me.

don't get me wrong, the movie is still quality, and the concept is money, but it's just not a typical pixar movie. we expect the impossible from pixar and so far with each successive release, they've met and exceeded our expectations. not so this time. i know a different writer/director worked on this movie, so the shift in paradigm can be attributed to him. but i want the old pixar back. i want the smart, funny, incredible pixar, not more of the incredibles.

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Friday, November 12  
4:08 PM : : open sesame. i've been waiting for gmail to become my primary account for oh so long. the only thing holding me back has been the lack of POP or outside access. for some reason, i just can't use browser based email. it feels so temporary to me. so unsafe. with the click of a wrong button, i could lose my entire email! this used to be the worst thing about telnet. you sit there type typing your life away and then you hit send and you lose the email. or worse, lose your blog after you hit publish (no longer a big problem). so now whenever i write anything, i do it in a word document or something that i can periodically save. call me email anal. but my time is precious and my words worth their weight in silver.

the other reason i need a mail manager is that i've saved 90% of all my emails since college. frequent emailers have their own folders, everything is organized by group, activity or date. it's quite an archived system. my greatest fear is that one day my computer will crash and i'll lose my entire music and email collection. maintaining this email archive takes some work and i must say, i've often wished for a way for everything to be saved automatically. welcome gmail. with one gig of personal space and the ability to quickly and easily search old emails, gmail was tailor made for me.

but i couldn't commit to it, not without POP access. i still wanted to convert all my gmail emails to my desktop, as a backup. what if beta gmail goes crashing down? tragedy. so, i've waited, and waited. until two days ago, when POP access for gmail was finally available. i'm sold, i'm in -- just in time too. gmail will now be my primary email address. and it syncs up perfectly with my sidekick. boo on microsoft, vote yes on google.

in more boo on microsoft news, mozilla's firefox 1.0 has been released. firefox is an alternative to the ubiquitous internet explorer packaged with all microsft products. mozilla is open source and is faster, more secure and has cooler features than ie -- tabbed browsing for example. i won't pretend that i found firefox all by myself, since christina and victor were instrumental in my adoption of it. so far i've downloaded this important extension and this theme. anything that has themes and a customizable look, i'm in. i've been interested in firefox ever since i read articles about its branding strategy but really had no reason to use it. but now with version 1.0 released, it's ready for mass consumption. get your firefox today. the only downside to firefox i can see at this point is that most of my blogs don't come up formatted. adopting firefox as my primary browser could make big waves in my online life.

i'm also addicted to wikipedia. it's a free online encyclopedia that has links to everything it talks about. i started off using it to find out about umberto boccioni and then was taken from there to futurism, to facism and then onto world war two. so pretty much wikipedia has more information that i'll ever know but damn me i'll try to go where the links lead me.

you have no idea how much joy these little things bring to me.

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Thursday, November 11  
11:32 AM : : abercrombie: no warm bodies in the brains department, but damn those abs. so, abercrombie is in some shit . surprise. after the various t-shirt fiascoes of the past few years, minorities (and other offended parties) have finally struck back at the white bread retailer.
"a group of hispanic and asian plaintiffs sued abercrombie in june 2003 in san francisco, alleging the retailer hires a disproportionately white sales force, puts minorities in less-visible jobs and cultivates a virtually all-white image in its catalogs and elsewhere."
say what? abercrombie promotes a virtually all-white image? can it be? a clothing company referenced in a trashy yet catchy pop song by a lou pearlman group? i don't even know how abercrombie stays in business having to shell out money for settlements every other quarter. oh i know how. they make billions by promoting an all white image, amazing.

has everyone here been into an abercrombie? how many minorities have you seen in the stores? minus the token minority at the cash register, there's probably only a few in the back doing laundry and shucking peas -- part time. i, for one, have never bought or worn anything from abercrombie. not because i'm offended by their clothing and image but because i'm offended at the prospect of paying a hundred bucks for something that was clearly marked up and will clearly not fit onto my asian frame. well, the male stuff anyway.

i'm also easily intimidated by the gorgeous looking models on the store walls. and those coveted bags. as far as i'm concerned, those bags are emasculation served up in totable form. any self respecting man should always ask for his abercrombie purchase in a brown paper bag. i mean, how can you hope to compete with those adonises on the bag? if only i could somehow just wear the bags, then i could get some attention. so, between the prices and the "i'm way better looking than you" factor, i have had no reason to ever shop at abercrombie. then again, this combination also serves to turn me away from most retail stores. but hey, that's why my wardrobe consists of white t-shirts from costco.

i wonder if people can now sue other stores for failing to hire people who don't conform to their image. mr rags failing to hire computer geeks? lawsuit. gap won't hire your hot topic wearing ass? lawsuit. forever 21 won't give your frumpy look a chance? lawsuit. foot locker won't put your 400-lbs behind the counter? lawsuit. the possibilities are endless.

as much as i think what abercrombie does is terrible, i feel like they should be allowed to promote an all white image. some companies promote an all black, all brown, all yellow, all whatever image. that's their prerogative. if they want to be known as "that white store" or "that black store," that's cool with me. nobody should be forced to hire based on appeasing everyone. "but that's discrimination!" yeah, it probably is. but a certain amount of marketing induced discrimination i'm fine with. marketing is image and why should people be forced to bring on "talent" that goes against their image? if you hate what a certain store or brand represents, boycott it! if you thought that tommy hilfiger didn't like your asian ass (not true) then stop wearing his shit. it's that simple.

discrimination is denying me a chance to work if the color of my skin would have no effect on your company or my effectiveness. discrimination in any quantity is serious but there are some fights i just don't have the time for. getting minorities into high-profile retail positions at abercrombie isn't high on my list of things to start a crusade about. hell, if i walked into an abercrombie staffed entirely by minorities, i'd probably walk right back out since the wait staff clearly doesn't know anything about the true spirit of abercrombie. give me white, give me good looking, give me the real abercrombie.

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Wednesday, November 10  
1:01 AM : :
"nobody is born an intellectual, or with intellectual interests, or even with much in the way of a natural propensity for those things of the mind that most excite people who think themselves intellectuals: ideas, art, and culture. a high intelligence quotient may help, but it isn't an absolute requirement; many people with stratospheric IQs -- among them people doing high-level science -- have little interest in things that absorb the thoughts of intellectuals. intellectual interests have to be learned, acquired, cultivated. they are in some sense artificial, a construct of a sort, and chiefly the work of previous intellectuals

an intellectual is a man or woman for whom ideas have a reality that they do not possess for most people, and these ideas are central to the existence of the intellectual. because of this extraordinary investment in ideas, the intellectual is occasionally admired for a certain purity of motivation, but he or she is just as often thought of as unreal, out of it, often a comical, sometimes a dangerous character. historically, the intellectual has been guilty of all these things.

intellectuality is the quality of being able to talk about ideas -- political, historical, artistic ideas -- in a confident, coherent, or (best of all) dazzling way. if not everyone admires intellectuals, intellectuality tends to garner praise, especially from the social classes that think themselves educated or enlightened, among whom i include most but far from all members of the vast army of PhDs now roaming the universities.

whenever intellectuality is on display, an air of edginess, contention, one-upmanship, put-down, or general nervousness i won't say pervades but usually hovers over the proceedings.

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in intellectual life, everyone begins as a novice. some have the slight advantage of being brought up in bookish homes, although in america, for some reason, the most impressive intellectuals seem to have been brought up in homes where culture played almost no part; perhaps it was the absence of culture that increased their hunger for it. but turning oneself into an intellectual is all on-the-job training. from learning correct pronunciation to acquiring cultural literacy to becoming adept at playing with ideas to discovering which ideas, personages, issues are more important than others -- for all these things there are no schools, no self-help booklets, only one's own mental energies, love of the life of the mind, greed for that loose collection of knowledge that comes under the baggy-pants category known as the cultural.

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in her novel the mind-body problem, rebecca goldstein posits the notion that the further an academic's subject is from the truth, the more snobbish he or she is likely to be. in this amusing scheme, mathematicians and physicists care least about clothes, wine, food, and other such potentially snobbish refinements, while people in english, history, and modern language departments, whose subjects put them so much further from the solid ground of unarguable truths, care a great deal, since their reputation for being cultivated is really all they have going for them. quite nuts, or so it might seem, if lots of evidence didn't support it."
-joseph epstein, snobbery-

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Tuesday, November 9  
1:04 AM : : what kind of a school does your son attend? oh the social power tool that is handed to you when you've attended a top ten university. did you know that at certain ivy league schools, it's de rigeur to exchange SAT scores within five minutes of meeting? "can i get your phone number? oh by the way, what was your SAT score?" there's a certain prestige to going to an ivy league school. how do i know this? if not through empirical magazine rankings, then i would know which schools are better than all the others by listening to parents around the nation -- especially chinese parents.

the asian-american child is pushed to excel at academics. parents invest their lives and their money into making sure that their kids have the best opportunities to get into the best colleges. this is a cultural thing. ever since the tang dynasty, anyone in china could get a government post by passing an examination (the tests mostly had to do with interpreting confucius' writings). so even if you were a poor rice farmer, if your child could pass the standardized test, they could assure themselves of a better life and an official position with the goverment.

this ancient opportunity for advancement has been translated by modern chinese parents into "school or die." i'm sure every ethnicity has pressure from parents to get their kids into a good college and beyond, but since i can only relate to the chinese experience, i'd say that being asian-american, your childhood was most likely very school centered. so the pride that a child feels when (s)he gets into a great college can only be outshined by the smile on their parents' faces.

nothing measures a chinese parent's child rearing skills more than where their child went to college. did your parents feed you only once a week, dress you in the most faddish of neon colors, hug you never, scold and ground you for A-minuses, contribute cosmically to your social stuntedness? hey, who cares? if you got into harvard, the chinese community will give your parents verbal trophies and put them in the pantheon of "super parents." according to conformist chinese thought, a parent must have done something right if their kid went to stanford. nevermind their happiness, happiness can be bought later and enjoyed during an early retirement.

there is this glow, during the tail end of senior year, that accompanies super parents. these parents wander the streets of our fair cities, hanging out at the local 99, chilling late nights with the mah-jong set, attending ubearably chatty dinner parties, all just hoping to be asked "so, where did little henry get into school?" finally the super parent can restrain themselves no more. "harvard, stanford, princeton, upenn, dartmouth, duke and berkeley (as a safety)." all the other parents kowtow to the super parent's superior child raising abilities. then they get on their rotary phones and call their own children -- who are supposedly studying hard at the library, supposedly -- and say "henry got into harvard and stanford! did you get your acceptance letter yet?" february and march are trying months for chinese parents.

the "walk of pride" is the act that a super parent will take with their child when they're both at a dinner party, preferably one filled with childhood acquaintances and many family friends. "hello, this is my son, henry, and he just got into stanford. do you have a suitable daughter? i thought not. come along henry, next table." there is nothing better for a parent than showing the world that their genetic offspring is now headed off to one of the best schools in the country. their entire lives have been validated, nothing could possibly compare to "a child at harvard."

actually, to retract a bit. most super parents don't even bother waiting to be asked where little henry got into school. ask them about anything and the first thing they reply with is "my son is at harvard, i'll have a hot tea and the udon." strangely, this annoying habit is not only forgivable but almost encouraged. it's as if every parent concedes the fact that if it was their child who had gotten into harvard, they would be screaming it from the top of every mountain too. all expectations of chinese humility are set aside when your kid makes the big time.

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Monday, November 8  
5:44 PM : : if you want to be the best, you gotta hang out with the best. so much is made of where we go to college. in high school, the most important thing to aim your studies towards was "a good college." never mind actually learning anything or joining extracurriculars that you enjoy. "what? chess club won't help me get into a stellar institution of higher learning? but i know what en passant is! isn't that invaluable?" there is a formula to getting into the top tier colleges and you have to do your best to cover all of your bases. spectacular grades, citizenship, leadership, superior talents outside the academic arena, community service.

i'm not sure why community service ever made this list. but as a high schooler, i was told that "key club looks great on your transcipt!" why? because it shows that i'm willing to help people if and only if it benefits me? because my weekends are free and available? because ten hours spent scooping soup is training for the ordeals suffered while eating food in college dorms? i don't get it. what does joining key club do for me that joining any other organization wouldn't? it's all about perception, that the student who does community service is a good student indeed.

and so perception is just as important in your choice of college. which college you go to is supposed to be a factor in getting future jobs. attendance (on paper) of a major college can only open doors. the quality of education at a "good" college? questionable. and this isn't just from my own personal experiences. i've talked to lots of people and the consensus about the quality of education and "what i got out of college" seems to be whether or not you engaged in class -- or even went to class. time spent at the local community college can be more valuable than four years at an ivy league school. until, until you actually get around to getting a job. names like stanford, yale and harvard still evoke an educational trust. people only need to hear things to believe them, so the myth that a top ten school is automatically better than one of the bottom feeders, fuels the idea that if you went to a good school, you're better prepared to tackle real life.

this is obviously false. sure, on average, based on grades and standardized testing results, the average freshman class at a harvard will be poised for more success than a comparable class at a cal poly school. but who would you rather hire? the slacker who got Cs at harvard or the dean's list student who went to cal poly? i think the smart money would be on the A student. achievement has a place in this world, and it should be valued more than potential. luckily for me, potential sells. since based on achievement, i've never done anything to deserve anything i've ever gotten. but we gotta hang our hats on something right? even if it's admittance into a top twenty five college?

i've spent some time, in my nomadic college career, in universities of all types. i've been at michigan, i've been at ucsd, i've been at baruch, i've been at community college, i've visited the campus of a few ivy's. and the question i always ask myself is "how does this school compare to my baseline (michigan)?" let's start with the community college. was the competion there less or the classes easier? the answer is, "yes." it's like taking an AP class in high school and then going back to the regular class (which i did with AP physics). everything seemed much simpler and high grades were easy to achieve just by satisfying the base requirements for regurgitation. much of the difference between AP physics and normal phyics could have been attributed to pace. AP physics moved very quickly, and time wasn't spent on building wooden projectile weapons as so called "experiments." i suppose the same is true of "higher end schools." you quickly move over the simple stuff and dive headlong into the harder topics. that's what i've gleaned anyway.

i wonder if this applies to grad school too. does going to a less prestigious law school get you the same education and knowledge of a duke or a columbia? i'm willing to bet it does, but i'm sure that there is some added edcuational value in going to a top tier law school right? i guess i'll never know since i don't have plans (or the qualifications) to attend law school of any type. i've heard that when you go to harvard law school, all you're paying for is the name. is this true? it doesn't seem to be out of the question.

i am sure people have died when they they got wait listed or rejected from their number one choice of school. how terrible it must be to not get into the school of your dreams. of course, i'm able to talk flippantly about this now, eight years removed from my own experience with college anxiety. or more accurately, lack there of. since i chose my school based on "oh i don't like the way ucla feels, i'm off to michigan (sight unseen)!"

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Saturday, November 6  
2:06 PM : : relationship theorem #53. i have a theory that the first thing you argue about in your new relationship will also end up being the last. can we get a confirmation on this from anyone? i figure that in a new (wonderful) relationship, you hold off on getting mad at each other until the last possible second, or until something really irks you. so by the time you enter into the first real argument it'll be something that will hang over your relationship for eternity. and when that relationship inevitably ends, that initial argument will be the thing that ends it. for the record, "no, i'm not hanging up, you hang up....don't make me mad! giggle giggle." doesn't count as a real argument. if you go through this dialogue, you should break up immediately. for the good of mankind.

without solid evidence -- or a monetary grant to conduct proper research -- i give this theory an off the cuff accuracy rating of seventy three percent. your anecdotal evidence to support or rebut. go.

this also extends to "first doubts." your first doubt about someone in a relationship will also be the doubt that breaks the relationship's back. i give this corollary theory a sixty one percent success rate. and for those people who say that they've never had a doubt or an argument in any relationship, i maintain that they are either fifteen and in serious puppy love or just covering for somebody. i can't wait till the hammer drops on these people. can. not. wait.

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Thursday, November 4  
10:41 AM : :
"what has made this more complicated is that snobbery has had to make way for downward mobility, or the prospect, a real one for the first time in american life, that one's children won't do better than one has oneself done.

in 1781, john adams famously wrote to his wife abigail: "i must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. my sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, commerce, and architecture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

this probably has to be revised today by many immigrant grandfathers to read, "i must run a dry-cleaning shop so that my sons can go to medical and law school, in order that their sons may study sociology and communications, so that their children can run vintage clothing stores, act in avant-garde theater, and work in cofee shops."
-joseph epstein, snobbery-

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Wednesday, November 3  
6:01 PM : : don't act the fool. you gotta wonder about those people who think any attention is good attention, even if it's negative attention. people who voluntarily stick the "kick me" sign on their backs so that everyone will notice them. i've often wondered if there was something more than insecurity and need for attention going on with these people. and now i've discovered the other reason for this type of behavior. people who are willing to humiliate themselves for attention are martyrs, plain and simple. they make the ultimate sacrifice, their sense of self worth and dignity, in order to provide the group with a few cheap laughs. they are willing to suffer self esteem death in order to further their belief that being accepted is the key to happiness.

and so, if they can't get accepted for doing the right thing, it's only one step down to get invited along as comedic relief. as long as the victim understands that any love they're getting is of the backhanded variety, it's okay with me. but it's terrible if you're unsure if the person in question is unaware of how his gained his admittance. classic example being william hung. does he realize he's only popular because he's a laughing stock? or does he really think that he's popular based on his own merits? you have to wonder.

people who are willing to do stupid things just to get the spotlight on them are charter members of this club. i try to discourage any antics of the stupid variety but inevitably someone will egg the person on just to see if they''ll do it. "yeah yeah, jump off the cliff into the garbage truck! that would be awesome!" and then the person will do it just for some attention. even weirder is when this type of action actually gets them "in." and it becomes part of a group's folklore. "yeah, remember that time kevin jumped into a dump truck? that was so rad!"

i believe we should never reinforce this type of behavior. it's like picking on the weak, encouraging them to pile humiliation on top of themselves by reinforcing their behavior with laughs and "good job mans." but what if someone wants this type of attention? because it's better to have negative than nothing? then are we helping their sense of self worth by letting them continue on being stupid? do we let them continue being the mascot and the clown? i say no. if we had any sense of humanity, we should discourage this type of negative attention seeking. it's immature, childish, and will only blow up into bigger insecurities later on down the road.

and that is all i have to say about that.

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Tuesday, November 2  
1:55 PM : : the price of freedom. it cost me a speeding ticket today to vote. excited as i was to be participating in my first democratic election, i sped away from the voting booth with an "i voted" sticker in hand and euphoria in my heart. zing. i sped away too fast. "excuse me sir, did you know you were going 45 in a 25?" let's rewind a little.

first off, the voting booth was located in a garage. apparently this is a commonly known fact. did everyone else know that voting booths were located in garages? for some reason i envisioned having to vote in a huge building -- manned by security officers, swat teams and reporters. i imagined voting would be done in a place more glamorous, with patriotic bunting strewn around and a red carpet. i prepared myself for long lines, for protestors, for pepper spray. i even tried to look my best in case they wanted to interview me to get the "minority perspective." instead it turns out that i was voting 0.7 miles away from hotel pan, in a residential area that i drive by all the time. ho hum. can anyone just sign up to host voters? how's that work? maybe i'll try to open up my home in four years, so i can really feel like i'm participating in the fate of our nation.

so i walk up to the voting booth and am greeted by three very nice ladies -- who are not only voting booth volunteers by day but also pta moms by night. this is how our country works? the cogs of democracy are our soccer moms? who knew? suddenly all those stories about lost votes, missing ballots, hanging chads, it's all making sense to me. i'm not trying to disparage soccer moms but if millions of votes are being counted in garages across america, i can see how a few thousand might get misplaced here or there.

so, i vote and i leave. i feel somewhat underwhelmed. this was "rocking the vote?" i feel like i just bought cookies at a bake sale. so i drive away thinking about the inner workings of our grassroots democracy when suddenly a motorcycle cop pulls me over. barely half a mile away from the voting booth and i've been pulled over for speeding.

apparently there's an old person's home right near hong's house on the way to the freeway. also apparently, apparently also, there are large signs that say "slow down, reduce speed." why they didn't just put pictorial representations of old people in walkers crossing the street is beyond me, that woulda been far more effective -- it works for the border right? i race along this very road all the time. sometimes i even hit 50mph. zoom zoom. there's never anybody on this damn road you idiots. and who decided to put an old person's home right next to a freeway anyway? retarded.

i won't bore you with my conversation with mr coppity cop. suffice to say i got a ticket despite trying to smile most patriotically and displaying my voting sticker prominently. do cops have nothing better to do than prey on unsuspecting people coming off of first time voter high? shouldn't they be stationed at voting booths in case fights break out amongst the pta moms?

i'm gonna vote to reduce policemen salaries next election. i'm sure of that. anyway, i'm chalking up the ticket to the price that it costs to live in a de-mock-cracy. it's either that or live under a dictatorship right? i'm sure in iraq, people are just dying to be ticketed for going 45 in a 25.

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11:47 AM : : a more expensive price tag on freedom.
...everyone who follows the nfl and plays in it should know the story of veteran detroit defensive tackle kelvin pritchett, who thinks voting is so important that when his florida absentee ballot didn't arrive in detroit in time for him to vote monday, pritchett got on a plane in detroit and flew to jacksonville so he could cast his ballot.

kelvin pritchett is my player of the week.

"it's very important, simply because so many people have lost their lives and they fought for the right to vote," pritchett said. "your grandparents, your forefathers, didn't have that right. in order to gain that right, they fought for it. i feel like it's up to me to carry on that tradition."

that's a $1,100 vote, by the way. that's about the cost of the cheapest detroit-to-jacksonville round-trip ticket bought so close to flying time without staying over a saturday night.

i'm not speechless. but it's close. this is the man the nfl should be holding up as a role model, the man who should be doing commercials.
-peter king,

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Monday, November 1  
2:54 AM : : judgement day. for so long i've been trying to work up a formula for "what makes a good friend." and today, i found something in a store that was perfect in style, substance, execution and design. now, we can not only accept, reject and judge our friends, we can give them friendship report cards! this wonderful item (available for the low low price of $3.50) allows you to grade your friends in a variety of categories.
requirements. sensitivity. warmth. availability. reliability. honesty. sense of humor. empathy. discretion/loyalty. self-awareness. unconditionality.

electives. fun factor. gossip sharing. social opportunity. life-choices approval. silliness. fashion guidance. story diversity. memory. sense of adventure. longevity.
of course the grades are A through F and a N is an incomplete or non-applicable. i know there's a simon cowell inside everyone, and now this excellent product allows us to channel the need to judge towards our closest and dearest. of course, some of the things that i might value in a friend would differ from what you might value. so the key to using this product on an everyday basis is to modify it. don't care for one of the categories? switch it out and write in your own. i've taken this idea one step further -- geek and go getter that i am. i've created an excel spreadsheet that better represents my view of the essentials and electives of friendship.

on my work of excel art, i swapped out silliness, life-choices approval, fashion guidance and sense of adventure. i replaced these electives with quality advice, bring-along-ability, extracurriculars and wavelength unification. i'm also not so high on "warmth" being a requirement but i haven't come up with a better requirement yet. anyway, back to the categories that were cut. i feel like silliness is not really that important (to me) and it's sort of rolled up into fun factor. life-choices approval? who am i to speak on other people's life choices? fashion guidance and sense of adventure are factors in a friendship but hardly important enough to make the list. i know who gives me good fashion advice, no need to grade them on it. a nd again, sense of adventure can be rolled into fun factor.

now, on to the categories i've added. a friend who gives quality advice is very important. what are friends for if not glorified yes men and sounding boards? and the friends who give accurate and useful advice? they deserve a special category. and so, quality advice is in. extracurriculars encompass anything that the friend can bring to the table as far as excess knowledge, interesting hobbies or things we might enjoy doing together. for example, if a friend happens to be into all the same things that i enjoy and has the same taste in music, tv, movies and books, then high score in extracurriculars. if they are able to expose me to the world of classical modern furniture, high scores. if we share common hobbies and sporting events, high scores. if we have no similar interests or intersecting tastes, low score. extracurriculars can make or break a friendship, trust me.

bring-along-ability and wavelength unification are similar but different enough to warrant separating out into two categories. a person's bring-along-ability grade reflects how willing you might be to have this friend out in public with you, intermixing with other human beings. some friends make you wince when you go out with them. maybe they're a tad rude, maybe they have a disheveled appearance, whatever. bring-along-ability essentially measures how comfortable you would be, taking your friend with you to varied functions (dinners with strangers, work functions, weddings, family outtings). someone with an extra high bring-along-ability raises your own profile. "wow, that's your friend? they're cool (you just got so much cooler)!"

wavelength unification is how often or how deeply your friend can be riding the same vibe as you. sometimes if you're super tired, your friend is just jumping all over the place and wants to go out. poor marks for wavelength unificiation. it's important that your friends operate in the same space as you. an overly hyperactive friend can be draining at times. a friend who never seems to want to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, is also a chore. wavelength unification also encompasses the mental side of a friendship too. can your friend accurately assess and reflect your general vibe? do they spot and laugh at the same things you do? "hairy man with unbuttoned shirt, two o'clock." are you on the same page of the same book when you're hanging out? these are all wavelength unificiation issues.

oh, i've come up with a replacement for warmth. i will put "conversationalist" up into the requirements category. forget warmth, i want/demand conversation. is a friend capable of handling their end of a conversation? whether it be a deep conversation, a funny conversation, a throwaway conversation, a tell me how your week went conversation, etc? this might seem to be similar to story telling/diversity (i added "story telling" to flesh out this description) but a good conversationalist isn't necessary a good story teller, they are separate things. i'll take good conversation over good stories every time. this distinction might have to be broken down in a future blog. i might also need to implement some changes to "unconditionality" since i don't value that very much, but i'm too tired to properly think right now.

anyway. the very last addition i've made so far on this friendship report card is to add "6. Achilles Heel" to the comments section. I feel like being able to comment on which of these categories is a friend's Achilles Heel gives you the opportunity to tell them what they should be working on. someone is highly unavailable, unreliable and generally flakey? you might want to put "6" on the comments line so that they know that this is what's holding back a potentially greater and closer friendship. think someone is a great friend but sort of a bore? drop that almighty "6" right next to fun factor, along with the F-minus. the myriad uses for this Achilles Heel comment is mindboggling.

why is achille's heel acceptably sometimes not spelled with a possessive apostrophe? someone explain this to me. wasn't it the heel of achilles? what is going on here? have all my years here in america taught me nothing? how can you make rules for grammar and then screw around just as i'm gaining an elementary grasp on them? fucking grammaticians.

the company that makes these cards is brilliant. they make so many other cool things. there are other report cards, for things like fashion sense and maturity. i would highly recommend picking up these report cards too. along with the friendshp report card, i also got me a pack of slang flashcards. so look out this upcoming week for me to mack drop some mad janky DL cheddar on this here steelo, word yo, keep it hollering.

the fact that the friendship report card came with a "hygiene: satisfactory/unsatisfactory" checkbox just made me think that whoever made this product was doing it with me in mind. this is the best $3.50 i've ever spent.

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