Saturday, July 12, 2003

APF (of edited girly arm picture fame) has his own nifty new blog. I enjoyed reading it, so I figured I'd advertise him a little.

Anyway, it's been brought to my attention that if you're using a Mac, my blog looks terrible. If you're using Netsacape, my blog looks terrible. I believe it shows up as silver text on a white background. Yyyyyeah. I'm not sure how many people actually get the crappy color scheme yet, but it might result in reverting to the more standard black on white if this one's going to fail and be impossible for a significant amount of people to read. Let me know if you're stuck with the blinding color scheme, and I'll try to fix it.

Friday, July 11, 2003

We got a letter from the homeowners' association complaining about my brother's drum playing. According to the letter, several people have complained about him "playing his drums at all hours of the night." I sympathize with them, he really was playing at all hours of the night. In fact, sometimes, he'd end up being on them until eight PM! The madness!

Too bad it is a homeowners' association, which is a part of voluntarily living here. I disagree with the idea of anti-noise laws. I'm honestly not sure if there are any, and research is for people who aren't lazy. I do know that police can interfere with people making noise if they get enough complaints, which is good, or rather, bad, enough for me.

Sure, loud noise is annoying. I don't want to listen to suck-music any day, much less blaring at one in the morning while someone gets their party on. That doesn't mean I think that it's okay to force them to stop, as long as they're doing it on their property. The argument that the drumming is a disturbance fails because drumming can be a disturbance. It also might not be. "Disturbance" is a pretty subjective concept. Something that might disturb me might not disturb you, and you know the rest. If we started using force to keep people from doing things on their property that might be considered a disturbance, then we'd have to be willing to call the cops because of kids playing, dogs barking, the lawn mower running, people's trees rustling too much, etc. If the criteria for disturbance is "something that disturbs," then those could all be legitimate problems, subject to fines, arrest, death penalty. Well, maybe just forcing them to stop and fine, but it's funny to pretend.

Cool people seek to deal with each other through cooperation and mutual consent, rather than initiating the use of force every time something bugs them. Our next-door neighbors Mike and Lindsey were nice about it. Lindsey came over and explained that her fiance was studying for his college finals, and asked my brother personally if he could please not drum after 5 P.M. for the next two weeks. A reasonable request, politely asked, and well explained. Needless to say, my brother complied without a problem.

On the other end of the spectrum, there was a guy living down the street who just yelled out, "Hey! If you don't stop your drumming, I'm calling the cops!" Despite the more threatening tone, it didn't work. My brother was playing the next day, which was by all means, a good thing. Without offering an explanation as to why, or even asking if my brother would stop, he only conveyed the message, "I'm surly, I'm uptight, and I'm ready to force you!"

I don't expect that an individual's right to do what he wants on his property will start getting respected, though. Sadly, it's actually more of an idealistic fantasy these days.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

I think most people believe in God just because that's what they were brought up to believe. If they thought about it, not many of them would keep on believing. We need to think for ourselves and not believe in God just because that's what we were taught. -- D.R.

Dear D.R.:
Would it surprise you if I told you that I agree with at least part of what you say? But I do -- and the reason is because I know that a "second-hand" faith is often no faith at all. We must each make our own personal commitment to Christ, and not simply rely on the faith of our parents or grandparents.

Don't misunderstand me; I am grateful for the godly heritage my own parents gave me, and I know many readers feel the same way. We should raise our children to honor and love the Lord, and I have never met a Christian who came from a godly home who wasn't grateful for it. The Bible says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6).

But our parents' faith must become our own, and this only happens as we come to understand our own sin and our own need of forgiveness. It happens also as we realize that Christ died for us, and now He offers us salvation as a free gift if we will but receive it.

Your question suggests, however, that you have turned your back on God and want nothing to do with Him. But why? Is it because Christianity is wrong -- or is it because you want to run your own life? I challenge you to reconsider -- and then to discover the joy and peace that come from knowing Christ and building our lives on Him. [Emphsasis added.]

Is it just me, or do Billy Graham's statements get progressively worse all the time? Notice that he actually admits that being a true Christian involves accepting that you have no right to your own life, and definitely have no right to do what you want with your own life. Assuming Billy Graham is right, this scene from The Kids in the Hall sums up life perfectly:

"Dad, am I going to hell?"

"Pft. Whaddya call this place?"

Ahh, luckily Billy Graham's just an idiot.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Why am I blogging, anyway? The question popped up while I was writing in Blogger's little... rectangle. You know the one. You write things in it. Having not written anything of considerable substance for a day or two, I figured I should try to come up with something. You know, something good. It didn't work out.

Blogging can be hard, excruciating, even. My back hurts, sitting in this chair, and my mind hurts, struggling to find something that may be my first really great topic, the one that lands me a lot more hits, that gets everyone talking about my blog. I think Reasonable Man had the Toilet Paper Question. And... well, I can't think of any other examples.

I was frustrated, as I quite often am. I'm the kind of person that has a lot of trouble coming up with topics. A lot. With so many things already discussed over and over, along with having to think up something new every day or two, you'd think it'd be impossible to post consistently good things, but a lot of people manage. So, frustrated, I decided to give up the post, and talk to a friend, producing some nerdly results.

PimpMastahPump: This just isn't working, man.
GiZMO SORDiD: Which?
PimpMastahPump: Writing this damn post.
PimpMastahPump: Blogging is ever so hard.
GiZMO SORDiD: About the anger?
GiZMO SORDiD: Oh, yes, it is, when you try being political.
PimpMastahPump: Yeah. It's taken a slightly less angry tone.
PimpMastahPump: I know, but I'd feel awkward just talking about what's going on.
PimpMastahPump: With me, you know.
GiZMO SORDiD: It's not awkward, just lame.
GiZMO SORDiD: I do it all the time.
PimpMastahPump: I know, but I don't want to be lame.
GiZMO SORDiD: You do it somewhat often.
GiZMO SORDiD: Who wants to be like me?
PimpMastahPump: If I could blog like anyone, I'd blog like Lileks.
GiZMO SORDiD: I'd like to blog even as you.
PimpMastahPump: But I don't get many hits.
PimpMastahPump: I don't see my blogging style as being delightful.
GiZMO SORDiD: I do not care about hits, just how well my stuff would be writte.
GiZMO SORDiD: Maybe I'm just a simple, less mature minded?
PimpMastahPump: I read Lileks every single day, and there's something about it that makes you feel great. It's just well written.
PimpMastahPump: Nah, you're just not as egomaniacal about blogging as me.
PimpMastahPump: Lileks can talk about stuff I have no idea about, but I still read it, because it's fun.
PimpMastahPump: You know, this is probably what I should blog about.
PimpMastahPump: I'm going to blog about blogging.

Overlooking how disgustingly nerdy that all sounds, it's a good idea for a topic.

So, returning to my original question: Why do I blog? Part of it has to do with wanting to improve my writing. I think my clarity has most likely improved since before I started. In fact, my writing and vocabulary in general have improved since starting. Blogging gives you a good reason to write things, and to become more proficient in expressing and defending your opinions with well-reasoned, well-worded arguments.

Well, arguments if you're doing a political/philosophical blog. Since there are so many blogs similar to mine out there, I have to be good to succeed. Really good. People have to want to read what I write, and that's one of my biggest motivators: an audience. With so many other opinions out there on the internet, some being expressed crappily, others amazingly well written, it's hard to get people to read your blog, and then keep coming back, unless you have a group of already-established friends that visits regularly. It's flattering that people want to read what you say, and it serves as a barometer of how well you're writing; more specifically, how much people enjoy your writing.

I'm sure that while it's one of the big incentives, it's also one of the big frustrations. I'm still trying to get my hits-per-day count back up there. It dropped to three or four at one point, and I almost considered giving up on this, because it's been hard to get a readership established, and even harder to maintain it. As I explained to Drizz at Chick fil A, it's important to write good stuff, but if no one reads it, then there's not a point in writing it. I can just entertain my opinions by myself, or through arguing with people. That's why readership is important to writing.

And yeah, blogging's entertaining, too. It's fun if the final product ends up being good, and you feel like you've done something good.

Sorry for being drawn out, but it just came really naturally. So why do you blog?

Everyone needs to read this post by Drizz. It very clearly and concisely demonstrated why the government should have no place in regulating business based on someone's (often flawed) opinions of morality.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

My head hurts, and I'm really tired, so I can't be bothered with typing out something long and/or good. Just enjoy this hilarious picture of me, with a little editing from a friend.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Something's wrong with the blog. It's displaying nothing but question marks and something written in, what I'm assuming is Arabic. Odd.

EDIT: Well, posting seems to have fixed it.

I am very disappointed that the City Council did not act on the no-smoking ordinance.

To those representatives who chose not to support a strong ordinance because they "needed more time" to study the issue or because they bowed to pressure from the tobacco and restaurant industries: You failed to uphold your duty to protect the citizens of San Antonio.

You were elected to represent your constituents, not Big Business. We'll remember that when you run for office again. The tobacco and restaurant industries may finance your campaign, but people elect you. Since polls reveal that most people favor a strong smoking ordinance, where does that leave you?

Martha Weiss

I agree. The government would be completely out of line in guaranteeing restaurant owners and smokers, those... disgusting monsters, equal protection under the law.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Independence Day Weekend sure was uneventful. I decided to be unpatriotic and refrain from blowing up a part of the land we love. It's the first year of not getting fireworks that I can remember.

Anyway, the other day at Rocky J's (local arcade) I accidentally bought five dollars of tokens instead of five dollars of quarters. Since the DDR machine only takes quarters (which I didn't know- it was my first time there), and all of the other games just plain suck, I was out five dollars. Well, later in the week, I was at Diversions (another local arcade, right across the street) relating the story to some other DDR-playing guy. He told me that since the Rocky J's tokens would work in Diversions' machines, I should just use them there. Weellll, being the oddly-moral guy I am, I responded with "It's not Diversions' fault that I screwed up and bought tokens instead of quarters, I'm not going to rip them off for my mistake." Pretty sound reasoning, right? Apparently not. "Diversions is a big company, and they make plenty of money anyway- it's all right" was the response I got.

Somewhere along the line, someone decided that if you have money, you're not a person too. Robbing someone with very little income is condemned as disgusting, while stealing from the rich is, in some cases, praised. Just look at stories like Robin Hood. The whole point of that was sticking it to people who actually had something, just because they had something.

Everyone likes to attack those who have copious amounts of money, because they can "afford" to lose some. The basic premise is that they're rich, and if they lost a little, they'd still be rich. (Of course, though, it doesn't seem likely that they'd stay rich if people kept following this line of reasoning.) But isn't that just the same reasoning that that guy used to justify what was essentially stealing from the arcade?

This attitude towards taking a little from the rich is frighteningly prevalent in our society today. A lot of people not only think that it's okay to take from the better off, but also that we should to provide things that we want, justifying the theft by saying that the rich "Don't NEED all that money." They might not absolutely need that much, but it still belongs to them. Living a life of luxury is very relative. The hobo with a hundred dollars is an individual of amazing wealth in relation to the hobo with one dollar. The poorer one still doesn't have the right to steal, though. So many of us expect the rich to give up their excesses and luxuries, while we feel free to retain our own, all the while claiming that people don't do enough for the poor.

And since when did the rich owe something to society? The individuals of society didn't act collectively for the purpose of making the rich rich. The rich (for the most part) made themselves rich through their own effort. The only people that helped them were the select few individuals who decided to associate with them. The drunken beggar on the side of the road didn't do anything for Bill Gates, yet he's still owed something?

The worst part is that the rich are supposed to practice total selflessness, giving away to charities and various organizations, just because they have something to give. But the poor, and all those inbetween for that matter, aren't expected to do this. They're free to be as selfishly handout accepting as they want to be, because they didn't get as far. That, my friends, is just terrible.