Saturday, December 20, 2003

A question

On this thoroughly uninspired afternoon, I'd like to ask you, what's worse: Never being able to read again, or never being able to hear music again?

Friday, December 19, 2003


Thirteen hours, and one hit? One? I find it somewhat hard to believe that my hits per day would drop from twenty something to one so suddenly, especially because it's not like I'm skipping on posting. Plus, everyone else seems to be blogging less. Is there some sort of holiday or something?

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Rock the vote, bitches

Jennifer Lopez is following in beau Ben Affleck's politicized footsteps. Us magazine reports that the overexposed megastar has recorded a public service announcement urging on-the-fence Americans to register to vote. The ad is certainly guaranteed to reach the masses: it will debut during the Super Bowl and will run endlessly on MTV until the presidential election next November. According to the mag, J. Lo herself registered on the Rock the Vote Web site the same day she filmed the spot.

If there's anyone, and I mean anyone that could inspire me to take up the boring "politics" business, it'd be J. Lo.

I think the problem with MTV's Rock the Vote campaign is that it encourages irresponsible voting. The emphasis is on voter registry and actually voting for someone, rather than making an informed choice. I think, in the last election, they just had some kind of interview with Al Gore, as well as all of their service announcements.

MTV has its heart in the right place, trying to inspire teenagers to go out and exercise their right to vote, but it's doing it poorly. It'd be a whole lot better if they presented the candidates' beliefs, their arguments for them, and the arguments against them, and should they see someone they agree with, they're free to register so they can vote. [Of course, hopefully MTV would be right-minded enough to convince everyone that libertarian views are the correct ones. Ahem.]

And Lopez isn't the only diva talking politics. Madonna is hooking her wagon to Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark. "I think he has a good handle on foreign policy, I think he's good with people, and I think he has a heart and a consciousness," Madonna tells CNN of the retired general. "He's interested in spirituality -- I mean, those things mean a lot to me." Says the Clark campaign, "We're delighted with the endorsement of a superstar for our four-star."

Oh my god! Clark has a heart and a consciousness? Jesus Christ! Only, like... eleventy billion people have those!

Gettin' a talkin' to

Alex Tabarrok talks about the possibility of professor obsolescence, and Amy Lamboley responds:

It seems to me that the problem is not so much with the coming obselescence of professors, but of the silliness of the large lecture hall as a classroom experience. In my four years of college, I got almost nothing out of the lecture classes I took. I either skipped them, snoozed through them, or took largely useless notes in an attempt to avoid offending the professor by nodding off. To my mind, at least, the lecture class should have been rendered obsolete back in the sixteenth century by the invention of the printing press--the page being a much more efficient means of communication.

As good of a point as she makes, I have to disagree. The written word is an excellent means of communicating ideas and teaching people, but sometimes, it too can fall short, particularly in the case of boring material. When some subject is boring, it's really helpful to have some professor that cares about the subject in question go through and find the things you actually need to know.

Not only can they weed out irrelevant information and help emphasize the important aspects, but they can make it really enjoyable to. I've found that things stick in my memory much better when I'm lectured about them, rather than when I read them. I take notes in class, but never need them because I remember the material really well when the professor explains it. It's not that it's too complicated - it's just that listening to someone talk improves my focus. Reading the material in the textbook after a lecture also becomes easier, because then I know what to pay attention to.

I love books. Problem is, sometimes it's just more fun to partake in the more interactive experience.

He's REALLY freedom fightiiiiing

Drizz has a great post about the increase of freedom around the world. You should read it. Also, to anyone who's not fully convinced of basic libertarian, freedom-loving ideas, you should follow all of his links in the last three paragraphs.

I shook the armadillo's hand

Before I even get to the subject, observe how weird the word shook looks when it's spelled. Looks has practically the same letters, and almost in the same order, but it doesn't look quite as puzzling. Huh.

Anyway, I met a mascot armadillo today. He was at the mall advertising for a restaurant called The Texas Roadhouse. Well, I used my brilliant inductive reasoning skills and noticed that this is the south, it is called The Texas Roadhouse, and there's an armadillo advertising for it - leading me to the conclusion that the roadhouse there sells roadkill. I really wanted to point out that I had two large pizzas in my other hand while shaking his, clearly letting him know that I wasn't dining at his fine establishment tonight! But that'd just be mean.

Besides, he was friendly. The mall Santa's an asshole.


Yes, Cojo. Are you people really that culturally inept? Frickin' Cojo! Actually, not only do I forgive you for not knowing who he is, but I'd even go as far as to say I envy you for exactly the same reason. It's him! I'm assuming most people will at least recognize him as that crazy fashion guy, and that's halfway there.

The problem isn't homophobia, and I'm not annoyed by flamboyance. The problem is the fact that Cojo thinks he's a sixteen year-old girl. Jesus, man, watch his show on VH1. He's like a giddy little school girl, all giddied and schoolgirled up, and I don't mean schoolgirled up in the most men's pornographic fantasy sense.

I'd like to think he spent his teen years reading teen girls' magazines, and I also assume he just does. Unfair and unfounded? You bet. A good guess? Hell yes. People think Michael Jackson's crazy because he thinks he's Peter Pan, and, in delusions of grandeur, a twelve year-old boy. Cojo acts the same way, just... without molesting people.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Everybody was free-dom fightiiiiing!

A recent comment made here prompted me to think about how exactly I feel on foreign policy. Especially with Saddam’s capture, it seems like a great topic of discussion.

Perhaps the best place to start is by recognizing that I certainly don’t agree with America’s current foreign policies. No, I didn’t oppose the war with Iraq. Although, retrospectively, it wasn’t the best use of America’s resources. Though, it did do a lot of good in the way of extending freedom, and so far, I’d say the benefits still outweigh the costs.

Still, what of all the other, equally brutal regimes? The problem is, also retrospectively, there hasn’t been much in the way of evidence supporting the weapons of mass destruction claims, which were the most important reason to go to Iraq. Plenty of countries suffer under brutal dictatorships, but we don’t free them because they don’t pose an immediate threat as of yet. Iraq was important because it did. Well, supposedly. And maybe it did, but so far, the incriminating evidence hasn’t been accounted for, which seems to suggest that maybe we were wrong.

So of course, maybe we just went to free the Iraqi people? Great! I love freedom! Then, why aren’t we extending it to every other country? The biggest problem with American foreign policy is hypocrisy. Look, either we love freedom, and we’ll promise to take out every asshole dictator wanting to enslave his people, or we’ll stay out of foreign affairs as a matter of principle. I think our freedom fighting would be looked upon more kindly if it weren’t a very selective game of favorites.

Which brings us to the valid question, “how can we force freedom?” Well, you can’t. The thing is, by overthrowing dictators, you aren’t forcing freedom. Freedom is man’s natural state - overthrowing a brutal dictator is just removing an external problem that doesn’t have to, and moreover, shouldn’t exist. The best example of this is the man who kills a rapist caught in the act in order to save a woman’s life, but on a much larger scale.

But what makes us the right people to do it? Wouldn’t establishing a “right to overthrow” that pits leaders against each other result in chaos? Couldn’t everyone just start wars with anyone they wanted to? Well, yes, they certainly could. That’s ignoring the fact that they can now, easily enough.

As for whether it’s morally acceptable for America to free nations, my answer leans towards the “no” end of the spectrum. Yes, America’s technically the freest nation around, but that’s not enough. The problem is that even America, in all of its ostensibly liberty-loving glory, does not respect freedom. Sure, we have the freedom to say what we want, to vote, and so on. But what of the freedom to keep the money we’re earned if we so choose? What of the freedom for a media owner to use his property the way he wants to? What about the freedom to ingest whatever substances we may please, into our own bodies? Our freedoms to not wear seatbelts, our freedoms to sell unhealthy food; essentially, our freedom to do what we will as long as we aren’t violating the same freedoms of others? Simply put, they’re not recognized, and that’s a problem. How can America righteously defend its ability to liberate the world, to spread the ideals and effects of freedom, when it can’t even practice freedom as a matter of principle itself?

Freedom isn’t something that can be half-assed. Either you recognize a man’s fundamental right to life and all that it entails, or you see the people’s liberties as always up for the taking, one by one as you see fit. That’s how a simple organization that started out as a set of rules and regulations, guaranteeing most of man’s freedoms devolved into a matriarchal monstrosity that feels the need to protect people from their actions, the consequences, and most fundamentally, their own responsibility.

Even the most brutal dictatorships recognize some freedoms. There isn’t a magical number of recognized freedoms that instantly turns a country from fascist to free. It wouldn’t be acceptable for Nazi Germany to have overthrown a more brutal dictatorship, because it’s only establishing one of its own.

If America supported freedom as a matter of principle, rather than when it seems “okay” to legislators, then I would say we have the right to overthrow dictatorships, even if it involved forcibly removing them from power. The reason is that it doesn’t further violate anyone’s rights. It has, in effect, returned to them the very rights which were so wrongfully taken from them. In returning the world to a state of liberty, nothing bad or evil would be taking place - it would force people off of their crutches so they take responsibility for themselves, but that could hardly be considered a bad thing. Afterwards, they could help themselves to whatever they want in life, provided they don’t infringe upon someone’s liberties in the process.

Unfortunately, that kind of idealistic, utopian world is far off. I doubt it’d be any time even remotely soon, considering the incredible changes involved. Perhaps a free world like that never will come about. Maybe, as so many pessimists have remarked, it’s just human nature to harm other people. But hey, we’ve altered so many other aspects of nature - why not that one?

Monday, December 15, 2003

Kill Bill post number eleventy billion

Actually, it's more like the third, but three, being halfway there, was rounded up. This one isn't just about how awesome I think the movie is. No, this one has much more of an important purpose - defending the most amazing piece of cinema ever, the film that has completely validated my existence, from The Flick Filosopher. So, anyone who hasn't seen the movie but still wants to may not want to read.

I noticed her review of it earlier, and couldn't help but disagree, and even get offended at this:

Thurman (The Avengers, GATTACA) is a former member of the all-girl Deadly Viper Assassination Squad -- the name is perfectly full of love and snark -- out for revenge after the rest of the squad tries to kill her on her wedding day. Why kill her? We don't know. Doesn't matter. It's Tarantino's excuse for a bunch of scary babes, the kind the fanboys love to be terrified of, to fight each other while he ransacks genre film.

We don't know why they want to kill her? For someone who's supposed to be reviewing it, she didn't pay much attention at all. It's never explicitly stated, but it's painfully obvious, that The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad is trying to kill her because she was getting out of it. In the second scene of the movie, when The Bride is talking to Vernita Green, they clearly introduce the characters' old code names, The Bride's being Black Mamba.

Ah, but then comes the tricky, as well as unbelievably cool part; Vernita Green, a.k.a. Copperhead, "got out," but the Squad didn't go after her. Why? Do you remember the very beginning of the movie?

Bill: "This is me at my most... masochistic."
The Bride: "Bill, it's your [unclear]."

Yes, it's unclear, but it really sounds like she's telling Bill that it's his baby. Not only that, but it would explain why Bill wanted her dead. He doesn't want her settling down and raising his baby with some other man, so he decides to kill her. A good reason to? No. A valid explanation for the attempted murder? Certainly yes.

Oh my God, they're manhandling Santa! Oh, wait.

What is there to write about? NO! Not Saddam. See, I'm really glad he's gone. In fact, as soon as I saw it online, I turned on the TV as quickly as possible to confirm it. The internet may lie, but TV never will. Then of course I talked to various associates about it, and it made for a good, liberty-loving discussion. The one thing I won't do though, is blog about it. I have a number of reasons, all of them good. First, everyone else already has it covered. It's pretty pointless for me to say anything, since you know what I think already, and any information I could contribute would just be yanked from some other blog.

Actually, that's just one big, good reason, and that's probably enough to prove my point.

Anyway, my mind isn't racing with ideas the way I'd really like it to, so I'll probably post something later.