Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On A Personal Note

I guess I have not said anything about my life in a while. I am glad I have written about a few things that interest me and have avoided the random posts like the one I am writing now. On the other hand, it helps to let one's readers know that one is human once in a while.

I might be having some luck with jobs finally. I had a great interview a couple weeks ago. To date I know that my interviewer has called at least one of my references and sounded interested in me. At the interview she basically told me she thought I would be the woman for the job. She just needed to make sure my references check out and then will have to do a background check. We will see what comes of that.

I am not really worried about what to do with my life at this point. Not sure why. I just do not feel anxious about that. It would be nice to have some more friends around, but that will come in time. As for jobs and such, that will come in time as well. I have my bad days, but today is not one of them. Well, other than this horrible knot I have in my shoulder that is making my whole head hurt. Methinks some Icy Hot will help.

On my books, I am still working. I hope to have the second draft of my 2005 NaNo novel finished by October 31st. We will see.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Ah, Logic #13

Here is an excellent article for those who think the U.S. should go the way of socialized health care. I reiterate, submitting health care to the market will drive prices down and change the quality for the better. I am also glad that someone is willing to point out the big problem of socialized health care: distribution. How do you decide who gets treatment when? A centralized system is not a workable solution. Such a system would not be able to sell pencils properly. I do not think our third party payor system is good either, I just do not think centralizing is the answer. Decentralizing and allowing health care to stand up to the market would work so much better. We as consumers would know who the good doctors are and we could decide how much we wanted to spend on health care instead of having to go where someone else tells us to go and spend what they say we can spend. Since most of us agree that the government is woefully inefficient with its spending I would ask how anyone expects it to be able to deal with an issue as complex as health care? Furthermore, I have worked in health care. I have dealt with Medicaid, Medicare and many commercial companies. I still prefer the way the commercial companies do things to the government subsidiaries of Medicare and Medicaid. But freedom to choose health care options would definitely work better than the commercial insurance companies can.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Conditional Surrender

It is difficult to avoid talking about the most informally discussed subject in the U.S. Harry Potter. There's no reason for me to clarify my statement, so I will not. I was not sure if I would join the bandwagon and add to the hype, but after some consideration I have given in to the pressure. I give in on one condition only: that I get to say whatever I flippin' want about Harry Potter and all you Potter freaks out there can get offended if you like or just not read what I say. In short, conditional surrender never tasted so good.

We have all heard the endless arguments against Harry Potter. It interests me, however, to note that originally there was an enormous Christian backlash against the books. Then, right around the time the movies started coming out (I think) the backlash died. Suddenly, instead of backlash there was an enormous Christian welcome. People could not get over the "Christian symbolism" in Harry Potter. Harry is a "Christ figure." It's okay to let your kids read these books because they're like the next Narnia. The people who put Harry Potter next to The Lord of the Rings have obviously never read The Lord of the Rings. As for it being the next Narnia, uh. No.

I appreciate Harry Potter because it's a fun read.
Yes, I read Harry Potter. I don't stand in line to get the first book on the shelf, in fact, I don't even purchase the hardcover editions. I have better things to spend my money on. I wait for a copy to become available at the library. It works quite well. Granted by the time I read the book I know all the spoilers, but I don't care. These books are not the end all and be all of storytelling to me. In fact, they're quite the opposite. They have very little substance. Half the time I feel like the entire plot was a waste. For example, in the fourth book, there was no reason that Voldemort had to go through all that trouble with the Tri-Wizard Tournament to kidnap Harry. He had a man on the inside. All he had to do was kidnap Harry. So easy. The teen angst gets old. In fact, I despise the 5th book. Then there's the prophecy. How cliche! Anyone who knows anything about the fantasy genre has been subjected to many, many prophecies. Oh yes, and Voldemort is undoubtedly the stupidest badguy ever having broken nearly every applicable rule of the Evil Overlord List. As for characterization, never have I seen so many flat characters in one series in my life. The best characters are Harry (and Harry is a total Gary Stu) and Hermione. Ron lost his personality after the second book. Any other character who has personality is a side character and only seems real because he or she has a bit part. Don't get me started on writing style. Yes, they are a fun, easy read.

The sudden mainstream Christian switch from discussing why these books are evil to embracing them wholeheartedly puzzles me. You would think no one had ever read a book before with Christian symbolism in it. I could sit here and name off at least a dozen other fairly recent books with Christian themes in them. Themes are better than symbolism which is about all the Harry Potter books contain. Harry is not a self sacrificial Christ figure. He only sacrifices himself when he fears losing a friend. That is not self sacrifice for the sake of others. It is not the same as what his mother did for him. She died for him because she loved him, not because she was afraid of losing him.

Edit (didn't think of this until later): In addition, one has to wonder if Harry would put so much effort into defeating Voldemort if the whole thing had not been placed on his doorstep so to speak. If he weren't the Chosen One, that is. And if Voldemort were not so entirely inefficient. Furthermore, there is no explicit moral code in these books. It strikes me as odd that Christians would be able to discover all sorts of symbolic material in the book, but fail to notice there are no absolutes concerning the behavior of the characters. So long as Harry and his friends are tormenting other kids, it's okay. And why, oh why, are all of Harry's enemies fat or greasy looking? I mean, doesn't that suggest that it is okay to mock obesity? Perhaps I am grasping at as many straws as the people who find Christian symbolism, but at least I can recognize a straw when I see it. End Edit.

I have no problem with the books themselves. I read them for fun. I simply have a problem with people who see things in them that are not there. What's wrong with weighing what you read and being able to point out both the good and the bad in it? Well, then again, I am a debater.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fear And Greed

I have grown tired of listening to people talk about why socialism is the best system. Personally I think it is mainly envy that drives that discussion. Here is an interesting article that explains why higher taxes for wealthy people do not equal feeding the poor. In fact, they negatively impact economic growth. The article leaves out some key links (I'm a debater, I know). It does not delve into any of the moral issues that make socialism problematic. It simply provides an end point for the whole discussion. Worth reading, I'd say.

Friday, July 20, 2007

In Search of Spock?

I have been watching the first season of Star Trek: The Original Series on dvd for the past couple of weeks. It takes a lot longer to watch than The Next Generation. The episodes are longer for one thing. For the other, the show is so overwrought that I find it difficult to take in a lot at once. Shatnerian should be an adjective if it's not already -- my spellcheck tells me it's not (haha, and spellcheck is not a word either, so take that spellchecker!).

The characters in the Original Series are not as well developed as those in Next Generation. Take Captain Kirk for example, his biggest problem for the first third of season one is that he cannot sleep with his yeoman (who is female). Fortunately, he gets more interesting as the series continues. Still, he's no Piccard. Some of the depth of character and personality is missing from the Original Series. The plots are not as well developed either. They had many good ideas, but not as good of writers and directors. Still, I do find many of the characters to be entertaining. And one thing I like about the Original Series is the hokeyness that all the Shatnerian melodrama adds.

I had watched a few episodes as a kid and there are some things I never noticed about the characters before. First off, Captain Kirk's all out angst over being unable to be with his yeoman. He has a naturally romantic side to him that never occurred to me previously. He always goes for the soft spoken, feminine women and he appears to be quite a gentleman. Then, he is a pretty honest guy with little to no subterfuge in his soul. He is what he is. Unlike Piccard who hides his feelings and only says as much as is necessary, Kirk is all there. What you see is what you get. He has almost no malice, but he still has a fatal flaw which makes him more endearing as a character. He is a warrior almost to a fault. He tends to solve everything with his fists. There is no standing on ceremony with Kirk, he's either going to shake your hand or punch you. His predictability makes him much easier to deal with from his officers' standpoints.

Second, Dr. McCoy is a sensualist. Really and truly. He's like an underdeveloped Fyodor Pavlovich from The Brother's Karamazov. At least Kirk adds a romantic element to his exploits. McCoy just wants to get some. I actually find it to be hilarious because I never noticed that before. The other thing I do not get about McCoy is his hostility to Spock. After a certain number of times finding Spock to be correct you would think McCoy would calm down and listen. Other than that, he's a very forthright and outspoken sort of person. He says exactly what he thinks although he is a bit of an extremist. His opinions tend to be more on the extreme side, that is to say. Thus, he's not always correct in his ideas. But he tries.

Speaking of Spock, he is the third and last character I would like to discuss. If I found Spock alive today he would totally be my best friend. He is very calm and almost everything he says makes sense. Perhaps his lack of a sense of humor would get old. But he is not totally devoid of laughter. Once in a while he smiles a little. The thing I like most about Spock is that he brings a variant viewpoint to the table. He sums things up very carefully and usually accurately. He does not understand why humans think they are the only intelligent life out there. At the same time he is not offended by their sentiments toward himself. It would be illogical to take offense. After all, humans are subject to emotions, they cannot help it. He never seems too upset over McCoy's hostilities. Spock always has everyone's best interests at heart even when he forgets to take the effects of emotions into his calculations. That usually works against him, and that is where his fatal flaw comes into play. Spock refuses to see himself as in the wrong. He will always find a way of explaining his behavior as being entirely rational. This aspect of him is quite humorous.

I still have another half season to watch, so who knows what else I'll learn as I go along. If you ever see me running around yelling "Kahn!!" at the top of my lungs you'll know why.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Have you ever been subjected to being pushed outside of a small, insular group of people? They are the elite in your church/school/college/dorm/workplace. They are the cool ones, the club you want to be a part of. Many people feel left out and sad about the fact that a certain group refuses to accept them. It seems like nothing and nobody can ever show said groups the error of their ways. We, the outsiders, always hope that somebody else who is cooler will exclude these elitists so they will learn their lesson. It rarely happens like that. The group goes on from junior high to highschool and then into college still thinking they're all that. They may never get it. Often the group revolves around some common subject like clothes or music or sports or following the latest trends in coolness. Sometimes it's the group that was not cool in junior high and highschool taking vengeance on the groups they thought were excluding them.

I have always been the person on the outside who can possibly be friends with individuals in such groups, but never accepted by the whole group. It bothers me that people get so exclusive. I hope I do not mirror their ways. I have my rather exclusive interests yes, politics. Wait. Politics is something we want everyone involved in. Scratch that. Writing, then. Wait. It's kind of a naturally inclusive thing because if you cannot write then you can read and thereby you are included. Hmm. I am sure I have been exclusive at some point in my life. We all have. I am sure you would like some examples from my past, but I am not here to point fingers I am here to discuss more important aspects of exclusion.

What is the best way to react when you come into contact with an exclusive group? I know I have reacted in many ways, I have felt utterly alone. I have walked away from the group sad and grumpy. I have been unable to enjoy myself. I have created my own strange group of "left outs." I have tried to sneak into the conversation that excludes me or change it's subject. I have challenged people's views with rather irreverent joking responses. Yes, I am half ashamed to admit that I can be very irreverent if I am pushed far enough. Sometimes I am not trying to be that way, the words just come out and only afterwards do I realize that I just shocked everyone in the room. Then I usually feel good about myself for a little while. Still, these are not the answers.

In response to these troubles it may be best to start by realizing that you are not alone. Everyone has felt left out at some point in their lives. Some of us more than others. Aristotle said that man is a "political animal" meaning that we are drawn toward associations. We want and need friends. These people who exclude us are exactly the same in their need for friendship. Some of them may not even know they are excluding others. It would be naive to think that all of them do not get it, but I am sure some do not. One reason for excluding others is our inherent desire to be unique. You've heard the phrase "everyone is special." And you have probably heard the response that if everyone is special no one is. We like to have something that other people do not have, but that other people want. For the excluder that would be the reason to push someone out of the group. For the excludee that would be the fact that he or she is left out.

I liken all this to the 1967 tv series, The Prisoner. In that show the main character Number 6 despises the fact that he is nothing more than a number forced to comply with rules he does not understand. He fights against the leadership on the strange island where he finds himself. He tries to escape the place several times. Human beings do not like being just another faceless number in the tides of society -- the island is analogous of society. Yet we uphold society and this number system by considering others nothing but numbers. At the same time we fight against the idea that we, ourselves, are nothing more than a number. Just as Number 6 regarded his fellow citizens with suspicion, believing that they were helping to keep him on the island as number to be ignored so we suspect our fellow human beings of not appreciating our own uniqueness.
If we can keep a person who does not have our qualities from our group than somehow we are more unique.

Then again there are the people who are just plain unique and there's no way around that. Nobody likes those people. Nobody gets to know them. I would like to say I do, but often I do not. This is where the overwhelming exclusive factor kicks in with the best of us. It is called human nature and it is tainted. The truth is we do wrong things. We ignore our fellow human beings and justify it to ourselves. We do not like that person and we do not want to deal with him. We punish him for our own faults. Humans are flawed creatures, we cannot avoid that fact no matter how hard we try.

I have a name for what I consider to be the bottom line in all this: highschool forever mentality. Do not define yourself by what happened to you in highschool. Make up your mind to have a mature reaction. If you feel left out and shoved around realize that the people who are doing this to you have probably felt the same way as you feel and are now pursuing their own immature reaction to that. This does not give you an excuse to be immature. It gives you an excuse to be mature, to refuse to allow their actions to define yours. And it gives you an excuse to find some better friends! If you find that you have gone through life excluding others without realizing it -- or by justifying it to yourself -- then have the balls to own that to yourself. Try making friends with someone who is different from you. Who knows, you might like it. If you see one of those singularly unique people whom no one likes try talking to the person. After all, it is not even mature for three year olds to give others the "silent treatment" in an effort to get them to go away. We cannot by our own power overcome human nature, but we can still choose to do the mature thing. If you just cannot see that odd person as, well, a person than remember this: there is one thing in which we humans are all equal. We are all equally flawed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ah, Logic #12

I am getting to the point where I will post something interesting. In the meantime, here's a pretty decent point about limited government and why it's good.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Eight Secrets Meme

I'm going to be gone on vacation for a little bit. After that I have some serious stuff to talk about which I have been researching. In the meantime, you are welcome to enjoy the following eight secrets. I was tagged by Little Cicero to do this meme.

1. I am morbidly afraid of mascots. I never tell people this. I am also afraid to go to Disney World because of the people in Mickey Mouse suit and other character suits.

2. I often have dreams where I am late for work or have forgot my homework even though I do not currently have a job and I have not been in school for a while now.

3. I used to be terrified of making phone calls. Working in the insurance world cured me of that.

4. The only computer game that I will play is the Civilization series, either 3 or 4. I use them to get out pent up aggressive feelings. I learned to hate computer games because my siblings and I had a tendency to fight over the computer. I eventually came to consider computer games to be a waste of time. Not Civ 3 and 4, haha.

5. I have always wanted to take over the world. This is a general wish of serious poli-sci majors, but we don't talk about it.

6. I am a loner. This is no secret. The secret is that I almost never pass up an opportunity for social interaction because I really like being around people.

7. I have some very high strung personality traits. Around people I try to focus these traits into ditziness because it's funny.

8. My greatest joy is to make someone else laugh.