Friday, October 15, 2010

Life Fact #5: Status is Better Than Sincerity

We're back to the coke bottled life-receptionist. Waking to the light thumping of rain on my sky light, I involuntarily flipped through my brochure recently, hoping to find more facts on rain's supposed rancor, found this little gem of knowledge instead.
Life Fact #5: Status is Better Than Sincerity
I read it a few times. And then I closed the brochure and demanded back my money, for surely, this was a misprint of drastic proportions. Surely one should value personal integrity over personal gain. After all, a wallet can be lost, but a heart cannot(well, I suppose if you were a transplant doctor...but lets not get technical). But thats the paint layer. When emphatically asked if we know about the new fad, we quickly(yet untruthfully)may answer yes, placing our bets on the fact that the trend we have just supported will soon be explained. When a homeless guy asks you for change, you say no without looking. When you hear a joke you don't understand, you laugh with the crowd. After all...that's what your supposed to do right? You're supposed to 'fit in'.
Have we really created a society so deeply staunched in the belief of absolute equality that we are unwilling to accept our own faults? That we are unwilling to lie about the size of our apartment or the size of our catch or the income we make just to sound like we can be the authority? There is no doubt in my mind that every American exaggerates, and most Americans lie, on a daily basis not for the harm of others but for the social progression of themselves. You may disagree, but lies are everywhere, whether of commission or omission, and the border of truth is frequently compromised. But this is what truly baffles me. Let us please, for a moment, imagine two fishermen. One informs the other he has just caught a 12 pound fish, when in reality, he has only bagged a 9 pounder. Not a big deal, right? However, fisherman two, holding his own plump 11 pounder, and eyeing the fish of his compatriot, reasons correctly that his fish must indeed be bigger. Therefore, he decides to up the ante, and proudly proclaims, fish held high in air, that he has just caught a whopping fifteen pound fish. At this point, the initial fisherman re-examines his fish, and though he can see that perhaps he is indeed holding the smaller of the two, he really truly wished his fish could be 16, 17, or even 18 pounds. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt an say he leaves it at that, but a fisherman of less integrity may have at this point pulled a third fish from his bag, hoping to trump all hopes of his friend with his unbelievable 18 pound catch.
How did it happen? Two fishermen, assumably friends, combined with three fish, a little jealousy, and a lot of exaggeration, has just forced one poor fellow to falsely proclaim his fish is twice its original weight! The combination of his original fib, with a follow up relativity statement, has completely confused the poor fellows. I would suggest that we are like the fishermen. We ourselves lie to raise our standard to an initial lie. When we look at a beauty poster, we assume we should be able to look that perfect. Unfortunately for us, the beauty poster has been photoshopped, and our makeup-lies to cover up our own faults are fruitless. We hold ourselves to a false standard, and therefore can never attain truth.
Therefore we lie, and we hope that we can 'fit in' to the very group of lies we have made.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Research Treatment: Foresight

Here is the plan for my research project with the working title 'foresight'. It is a rough plan and hasn't been put under scrutiny yet, but its soon to be beat into submission I am sure. Here goes!

The objective of this research study is to determine to what extent the role of planning for the future has upon the daily and long-term decisions of the American youth between the ages 12 and 21. Their decisions will be broken down into five focus groups:
1. Work Ethic
2. Social Relationships
3. Shopping Decisions
4. Eating and Health Decisions
5. Youth to Adult Transitional Decisions
Within each focus group a variety of questions will be addressed and evaluated through the use of interviews, social experimentation, and literature review.
Work Ethic involves any decisions made while working, which for most people in this focus group will be restricted to school work and non-career based jobs. Decisions examined in this area will focus around the what and why of procrastination, the distaste or enjoyment with school-related labor, and planning out the day and school year and how those decisions affect the future.
Social Relationships involve any decisions made that are outside of a work setting and are made with friends, teachers, or family members in mind. Decisions examined in this area will be based around romantic relationships and their longevity and goals, understanding the consequences of actions in the family or among peers, and where time is spent in relation to where goals are set.
Shopping Decisions involve any decision made when purchasing material objects or services. These may include but are not limited to food, cars, media sources, and clothes. Since income in the focus group is relatively low, expenses will be based around percentage of total income. Decisions examined in this area will be focused on the benefits or setbacks of saving money at this age, the affect that lower or higher income has on the individual at this time in their development, and also the extent to which objects purchased are used and benefit the buyer at the moment and in the future.
Eating and Health Decisions involve any choices made about treating ones body. Decisions in this area will be focused on the diet of subjects and their perception of how these will affect them in the future, the health habits of subjects and their perception of how these will affect them in the future, as well as the social standards set by surrounding culture and how that affects ones self image and health decisions.
Youth to Adult Transitional Decisions involve any choices made to prepare for the far future. For most individuals in our focus group these decisions will focus around the perception of their future and how society influences this, how planning for life after general education effects future success, and the difficulties and problems faced when planning for the far future.
Once these decisions have been evaluated, a final section will not only review the information that has been covered but will also offer advice on the benefits or setbacks of planning effectively for the future and maintaining and completing long-time and short-time goals.
The research compilation should leave the reader informed of the decisions being made daily around them, the consequences to these decisions, and how to better their life by making more worthwhile decisions based on this evaluation.

Sorry for its length, but I hope you enjoyed it! More information will be forthcoming!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Empire Stricken Back

I'm back with a vengeance and a laptop and a haircut and a license and a senior ID. The weapons of war for this battleground of linoleum intercom orders and whiteboard whitewashes. By the means of an independent study I am planning to write a book(i feel like everyone says that) about America's prospects of creating a sustainable society. Work begins tomorrow, and I hope you will follow me through this buzzing hive of books, TV channels, magazines, pierced kids, and tied lawyers i hope to wrench my information from. At the least it will be interesting. At the most...we'll win a yard or two. If you find any interesting articles please send them my way. I am information hungry and willing to be taught. Best of luck to the world.
Here we come.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


The alarm rings once. Then twice. Then three times. On the third ring a sleep bloated hand lumbers to the bedside table, leaving a path of destruction on the bedside table with pencils and floss sticks flying in a desperate attempt to hit the snooze. The alarm turns off and a contented sigh rumbles from the bed. In 5 minutes time please return to sentence one and repeat.
Why did we even bother to call this little beeping menace an alarm? The inventor, ironically enough, was most certainly an aging 37 year old who loved his sleep and 9:30 mornings, which goes a great deal in explaining why according to Oxford American alarm means ' a warning of danger.' Perhaps Tony the Tiger is a little too terrifying to handle at 6 AM.
This conception is not the essence of snooze buttons however. I admit that I too have often looked at my alarm as a gong of doom, tolling out a last minute call to arms as the nefarious forces of the dawn, school, and homework march across the field of battle. What is amazing is that this alarm bell has an off switch.
Let us imagine for a moment that every alarm in the world has a snooze button. Forget about the fire, it can wait 5 minutes. Nah, the brownies will be fine. Tornado? No biggie, we can hold on a few minutes longer. Now of course this is an exaggeration, but surely this attitude has affected far more areas of our life than we would like to admit. The 'snooze affect', as I like to call it, is becoming far more popular in American culture, among teenagers and adults alike. Homework, or I suppose all types of work, is one of the most glaring examples, and the hallway of the high school half an hour before the first bell is strewn with dozens of students scribbling out essays and reading chapters they should have easily completed the night before. The snooze affect has seemed also to influence our disciplinary actions. It is disturbing to me to watch scores of youngsters, young enough to hide beneath the average chair when being chased, but certainly old enough to understand right, wrong, and the expectations of others. Still, when they cross the line, they are snoozed. They don't have to be perfect NOW, we'll fix it LATER. Apparently this is how the leading officials in our government were also raised. Let us forget about debt now, we need the money. Let us continue to fight a war where the alarm bells of irresponsibility have been tolling for years, and pull the troops out later. Lets keep funding massive gas companies now, cause we still have the gas, and when we run dry then, maybe then, we'll put our money into alternate sources of energy.
The time for then is over my fellow Americans. A society based on the then cannot prosper. We are doomed to be caught snoozing in the bed as our country crumbles around us.
I'm up, are you?

Monday, April 19, 2010


Woe unto the man who robs my house.
More specifically my brothers room, Faunus, as he shall be called here. As I clack away on a set of white plastic squares, Faunus is sitting outside wrapped in quilts, tending to a tiny fire he made with the help of his flint and steel, a tool he has begun to carry everywhere on his person. It wonders me that this should seem shocking and even dangerous to the average parent. Thankfully, I live under the peaceful reign of quite out of the ordinary parents, which suits me just fine as I become more and more dissatisfied with the ordinary.
And the ordinary is this: the conception that 'now' we know so much more then they did 'then'. Of course this is preposterous. Despite our college graduates and our pre-school reading programs we have stopped learning things and are now content with learning about things. Let us say, perhaps, that I wish to learn about a crow. Such a simple creature would appear a rather easy obstacle to hurdle, and yet present this idea to a hundred biology teachers and only a handful would even bring me within a hundred yards of the squawking creature, let alone actually try to catch it or watch it feed. I tap away happily on this keyboard and yet couldn't even tell you what a hard drive looks like. Put in this perspective our education seems perhaps at more jeopardy than it ever has before!
While the rest of the neighborhood fretted and worried with the power down, Faunus laughed, and then frowned when we received it again. He was far too caught up in his education, with emergency candles burning and a fire to keep us warm to worry about the thousands of emails we might be missing. In the long run, its the boy spending this frigid night outside that I will want covering my back when the going gets tough.
I can picture the robber now, creeping into the room, reaching for the desk only to be met by a well aimed hatcher to the temple. Don't tell me you learn how to do that at Harvard.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Zen #1

Gratuitously donated from my rip off calendar.

A monk traveled a long way to visit the master, Nansen. The monk found him by the side of the road, cutting grass.
"What is the way to Nansen?" asked the monk.
Nansen answered: "I bought this sickle for thirty cents."
The monk said: "I did not ask about the sickle. I ask the way to Nansen."
Nansen answered: "I use it in full enjoyment."

Be thankful for what you have.

Take it however you like. Thats why its a koan.

Tut tut, looks like rain

The world has been dumped. Covered. Redone. A million colors which reflected the sun so gaily yesterday are lost in a thick layer of gray. Splat. The paint bucket tipped.
"Isn't is strange?" Red said to me. "When its sunny outside, the teachers don;t give you hard work but when its raining, they make us do stuff! I mean come on! We're already sad cause of the weather!"
I nod. I agree.
To most of us, this question seems like an obvious answer. A rainy day is a bad day. We associate precipitation with such words as "Lousy day" or "mean weather." This is not surprising to me. Since we were ever placed on the couch and a cassette(remember those?) was slotted into the VHS, we were taught by Disney himself that rain was bad. Remember when Snow White bites the dust? Remember when Gaston knives the beast? Remember when Scar and Simbah showdown? Rain Rain Rain. And it doesn't end when you get into high school either. Here come the Uruk-Hai and, you guessed it....storm clouds follow right behind. I can picture a sleepy doorman with coke bottle glasses who has been handing out a brochure of things to know about life upon entry, and there it is. Number #7(we'll get to the other 10 later) Rain, as a form of liquid precipitation descending from above, is a sign of foreboding and disaster at the present or in the near future.
Now maybe you will agree with me.
Certainly Adam laughed when it rained. Nature's shower, nature's watering can, nature's drinking fountain. Surely ancient priests with sweating glistening hides would shudder as we don our rain boots shortly after they whooped and whirled and bled around a crackling fire, their only hope to bring long and prosperous rain upon the parched earth. In answer to their jubilant supplication we unfold our umbrellas and buy a ticket to a movie, rushing quickly from car to door, puddles splashing our ankles and faces with dissatisfied expressions.
I too scoff at these layered hurriers, unwilling to give in to natures pervading gift. I hope to join Gene Kelley on the slippery streets and splash my way through life, wet smile faced upwards to the heavens in a hilarity of thanks.
Why not join me?