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Summer done slipped by me   
10:03am 05/09/2003
  Those lazy hazy days of summer have slipped by me. The realization hit me when I opened the door this morning to a blast of near frigid air. Soon my uniform of T-Shirt and jeans will need to be upgraded to include some kind of coat. After that, it all goes downhill. Soon the weather sets in Pittsburgh style and there will be a thin layer of brown slush on top of everything at almost all times. But what are you gonna do, that's how the town works.

My boss here in the English department has, for some time, had a movie idea bumping around in his head. Recently he shared this idea with me in the presence of a fellow named Michael who happens to have a MFA in screenwriting (or perhaps playwriting, but the craft is similar.) Since the day we shared this idea with Michael he seems to have made development of the script one of his favorite activities. I expect it is the hobby that is taking up most of his time right now.

With Michael on board things are materializing. Pages of text are being pulled out of thin air and soon that document may be completed. Let me tell you about the story it will tell.

The year is 1937, and the DuPont family has just created Nylon. This wonder fiber turns out not to be so wonderful, however, and is discovered to be weaker to the cheap natural alternative hemp.

Furthermore, in the years leading up to 1937 the paper industries of America had started switching their raw material from expensive pine wood to hemp.

Enter the government. Acting on influence from America's tree farmers and the nefarious DuPont corporation the government decides to pass the Marijuana Tax Act, effectively ending any possible industrial usage for marijuana. In this same year the creator of Nylon commits suicide for unrelated reasons.

Or were they?

We hypothesize that the creator of Nylon did not commit suicide but was in fact "suicided" by the DuPont corporation due to his unwillingness to go along with the government scheme quietly. Enter our detective and the movie.

It's an exciting premise, and what is even more exciting is the fact that we have a professional quality script coming together. We can then send the document out to pro marijuana activists/actors, such as Woody Harrelson, and potentially get a show on the road. It will be a crazy week of filming and probably some crazy months of film editing, but in the end we hope it will be worth it. We will spread our cautionary tale far and wide, distributing it freely on the internet and mailing DVDs out to college campuses and other forward thinking institutions for display and distribution.

Time to start the revolution.
 
     

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04:54pm 04/09/2003
  I'm beat. I have had classes since 10:30, frantically completing the assignment for the next class during my only break for lunch. Now it's five and all I want to do is sleep but I have a Student Senate meeting at 5:30 and then a dinner appointment at 7:30 and then a rush event at 9:00

College to the max.
 
     

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Harry Potter   
07:11pm 03/09/2003
  I have a few minutes in between the hectic events of fraternity life, though it's a near miracle when one considers how much time must be put into the rush (recruitment) program. Efforts are non stop. I should probably be doing something now to help, but once in awhile I need to let my fingers roam over the keyboard. On to the main event, then.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

This was one of the best books I have read in a long time. I consumed it under a week by having it as my constant companion. Whenever I was walking somewhere, waiting for someone or doing anything else that didn't require all my attention I devoted the spare cycles of my brain to Harry's magical adventures. They are addictive.

The fifth book in the series presents the protagonist as a new adolescent who is riddled with all the typical problems that children face during the time. His temper is short, he gets angry for no reason, he thinks everyone is out to get him. I know that I experienced all those types of feelings during that time, and it sucked major ass. J. K. Rowling definitely has a grip on what it's like to grow up.

The plot thematically reinforces this message, as in the story everyone is actually out to get him, or at least the powerful ministry of magic. This is the wizarding equivalent of The Man, and the young teen righteously rebels from this oppressive and immoral power structure. It is every teenager's dream, to conquer the man. By providing readers with a fantastic account of the downfall of authority Rowling appeals to the adolescent in all of us. It was enough to keep me hooked for a week straight.

Read the book. Now I gotta get a shower and start the party.
 
     

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Return to Routine   
12:42pm 28/08/2003
 
mood: relaxed
I emerge again from internet anonymity. A long and lazy summer well spent here in Pittsburgh has taken me out of the habbit of updating this record. When you do nothing, or next to nothing all day taking time to do little things like this just seem like too much of a hassle. I was lucky to get to work.

This summer I worked 20 hours a week in the Engineering and Sciencel library organizing the technical journals and shippeng them off to a big factory where they had hard backs glued to them for our archiving pleasure. It was tedious and boring, my office was actually a closet before they decided to store people in there. Needless to say, I did not have a good time. Fortunately supervision was minimal and I was able to spend a great deal of time neglecting the work I should have been doing. Instead I would sneak off to smoke in the park or take stock of the world's current events. Anything to stave off the mundane record keeping that is the library's bread and butter.

I spent most of the other hours with Jennie, my girlfriend of almost six months. She is something special indeed. This entry, however, is not dedicated to her. That's for another time when I am in another mood.

Right now I am recovering from the mild embarassment of walking into advanced poetry workshop instead of my lowly survey of forms: poetry class. I foolishly misread my schedule and arrived a half hour early, too early for the previous class to have let out.

Usually I wouldn't care about such a mishap, but as I am starting my second year here at CMU I begin to recognize faces, and the faces of the people in the creative writing department are familiar. One of the students was a co-worker, one a friend of my girlfriend and several were folks I had met once, or heard read somewhere or another. On the bright side, I will have some nugget of common experience on which to build future conversations.

It's strange having to go to class, and at this early point it is even less stressful than going to work over the summer. I was always worried that my little old lady of a boss would find out that I was skipping out of work or coming in high and dock my pay or something. Now there is no incentive to skip out on class. The only thing I am studying that I am not interested in is Chemistry to fulfill a bogus requirement of the university. O'Flynn's class was more challenging, though I must resist the temptation to skip out on lecture due to my previous knowledge. My first year has taught me that your previous knowledge is there, but buried down. Going to class clears the dust off. It really seems easier to just go, rather than trying to clean out your brain yourself.

Ramble ramble ramble. I just like to hear the click of the keys under my fingertips. I doubt weather many people, if any at all, really care to read about this stuff. I know that I am a furious skimmer when it comes to reading live journal entries, most of the stuff just doesn't seem that interesting. I need to write, though. I need to perform the motions, to start putting ideas back into words on a regular basis. It is, after all, going to be my trade one day. Practice makes perfect and all that.

Next time I will tell you about Harry Potter. Now I need to go to class.
 
     

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Review: Nelly's "Pimp Juice"   
01:13am 16/04/2003
  I find it amusing that Nelly chooses to use the macho title of Pimp in the title of his new single. The track features Nelly slurping out all his lyrics in an immasculated falsetto that one would imagine a fellatio loving drag queen to use. It is clear at this point that Nelly's career is on the sharp decline. The track, which doesn't feature any members of his former crew the St. Lunatics is sorely hurting for some thugatude. Nelly's constant focus on acquiring women is tiresome, and his self bloating is not even good in the genre of self bloating gangster rap. He has used these lines before in his tracks, but they sounded better than. The support of the St. Lunatics was crucial to Nelly's career, balancing their more legitimite seeming thug personas with Nelly's bubblegum-rap sounding lyrics. This latest track is, quite frankly, nonsense and it needs to get of rotation.  
     

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Irony   
02:48pm 29/03/2003
  A harrowing bus experience orginating in Pittsburgh culminates in a two hour walk from the center of Ohio (the Greyhound station downtown, to be exact) to my home a bit north and west of there. When I open the unlocked door in this suburban paradise I find not the loving smiles of my family but rather the cold, empty echos of a deserted home. My family is gone.

A quick phone call bounces through the wires in my home and then up to Cincinatti, where a cellular tower broadcasts communication between my parents and I. They have gone to see a ball game. They will be back in three hours. My sister has the car, she used it to go to the library which is another walk up the street, but nowhere near the magnitude of my pilgrimage from the bus stop.

All is not lost, however. I did secure a shower and the food here is free and plentiful. My room has been gutted and replaced with an attractive but sterilized room that looks like it jumped out of a magazine. This is ok with me, I wasn't using the space anyway. I wonder if this means anything, if they are finally "cutting me loose" or somesuch phenomenon. Knowing my parents, it seems unlikely.

The letter which proclaims the domination of my kid brother Nick hangs on the refrigirator. He has secured a substantial scolarship to Andover and has his sights set on Harvard. Mr. Morton, it is likely that my brother will walk the halls you now walk four short years from this day. 'Tis a tragedy, however, that Harvard is so overwhelmingly lame. My misguided brother should set his sights on the greener Ivy of Yale, but if he succumbs to that creeping crimson evil I will still be proud. I am not sure how my father would feel, however. I could imagine that those Yale v. Harvard football games would get ugly. I am staring too far down the pipe dream now, though. Things will come as they will.
 
     

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Musings   
06:09am 24/02/2003
  I do not think that I am alone when I say that the live journal is, for me, a constant source of nostalgia. It is interesting, reading all of the happenings of the younger and still Academy generations. I have experienced the college application process all over again through all of your points of view by way of this crazy communication device. I have spent so much time in that school, four years of my life. And what years, too. I am proud to say that I was not one of the individuals who dreaded the halls of Academy. I enjoyed that space, it was comfortable, especially towards the ends of things. How many hours did I sink into that place? The theater saw a lot of my life. There were times when I would spend more time in the theater than I would in class. And then when it started getting late, and you looked around and you realized that you had a show in a couple of days and shit simply wasn't done, and that you were going to be sticking around for a lot longer, that's when you looked around and saw that they saw the same thing, but there was nothing you could do so you just smiled and asked who was going for Wendy's. The trip to Wendy's would always take an eternity, because nobody ever really wanted to stop working until it was critical. So when it was critical you sent a man out, and god help him and the lady at the drive through window when he rattles off his list of fast food delicacies to the wide eyed attendant. It will always take a long time to prepare, an agonizingly long time because they are understaffed at this hour of the night and besides those people behind the deep friers and cash registers are just as exhausted as you are back at the theater, but they are slaving for dollars and you are slaving for love so it all seems like it's worth it to you. But not to them, so when you finally get your food and you bring it back to the people slaving away at the theater there is nothing but rejoicing all around. The bearer of manna gets swarmed by the hoards of workers, their backs aching and bent from being coiled around electrical wires or stretching to reach scalding, blinding lights. There are a few moments of silence, as everybody settles down and starts munching. Soon, though, someone makes a joke and smiles bloom all around you, and soon those smiles swell into laughter. It is then that you know why you put yourself through this, why you build the foundations and frame of the show only to have the actors waltz in with pretty wallpaper and take all the credit for that beauty, which they always do and always will. But it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter a goddamned bit when you look around you at the smiling faces.

The days are the best when it's warm outside. I think I like the spring shows the best, for just that reason. The show comes as one climax among many, the end of the year beckoning with open arms of freedom. I have a pair of car keys in my pocket. Sure, they open up the door of a nineteen eighty five Volvo 740 turbo, a door whose locks don't work quite correctly, but who cares? Who cares that the emergency brake doesn't work anymore, and the air conditioning makes the car overheat and blow coolant all over the asphalt. None of that shit matters because it's a sunny day, and all the windows are down and Weezer is blasting as loud as I can take it from the stereo. I linger a little bit in the car to hear the end of the song I have recently fallen in love with before I go down into the cavern, into the dark, into the unseen world of the backstage theater. It's where reality is assembled, it's a mysterious place.

And then there's show night, when I see Mariah Mazur waltz with her sultry stride compounding the humidity of early summer. That stride, it very well might be what got me into that business. I wonder if I will ever forget that first time when I looked on her and realized that there was something about her, maybe it's fantasy, but I swear there is something magical about that young woman. It was my freshman show, A Midsummer's Night Swing and I was given the solemn duty of turning the disco ball on and off, a task which was not entirely simple due to the fact that the device which regulated power flow to the instrument was faulty and had to be double checked before each cue. But hit those cues I did, and I sent thousands of shafts of screaming light into the audience and exploding onto the walls and into the booth, and most of all on her. They slid across her, their perfect circles succumbing to the curves of her body wrapped in red.

I will see her, now and again, and many times the magic that I saw on the stage that night as a starry eyed freshman remains hidden. Still, I can feel it lurking under the surface. It makes itself known when it shines through her smile, especially when the gesture extends to the eyes. She is a pipe dream, though, she gazes in a different direction than my own. And even as I examine my own feelings I wonder how much of them are genuine and how much is regurgitated emotion from an infatuated freshman. After all, isn't that what nostalgia is, regurgitated emotion? Yet not all the emotions are regurgitated exactly the same, instead, they all seem to run together and get caught somewhere in your throat. I think that most of these feelings have been kept in storage, and as I look over my shoulder to the angel sleeping in my bed I realize that even after this crazy trip down memory lane I do not desire anything lascivious from her, but rather her companionship and respect. She always seemed far off, never quite in my circle of laughing faces. She associated with the older actors, and always the actors. She lived in a different world than me, especially the freshman me, and that separation created intolerable romance. During the last year that we spent together, however, she was robbed of her older companions and I was allowed to get to know her a little better, but not as well as I would have liked. I want to imbibe with her, and so many other people. There are so many great people in this world, and I feel that I have let a lot of them slip by, brushing them with my fingertips as they went. I had so many acquaintances, and so few friends. It seemed like there just wasn't enough time to give to these amazing people all around me. Those goddamned schoolbooks, and even worse the strangling regulations of may parents robbed me of a lot of time I could have devoted to making more memories of laughing faces.

Now, however, the power is in my hands. I must be vigilant, I must use the power so that I cannot look back like I have just done and say to myself "I wish I had done more in college." Looking around, right now, and running my fingers over Sarah's skin I have no doubt that I am indeed on the right track. Still, things are not quite familiar here yet, and until they are I will always be somewhat provoked by the thoughts and happenings of my good friends who are still being educated at The Columbus Academy as old and fond memories are drawn to the forefront of my attention.
 
     

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Losers part II   
01:24pm 04/02/2003
  These words spring from the discussion in regards to my last post, which I did not write. That piece was published in our newspaper under the name of my section editor, Lindsay Arroyo. In any case, the erudite Mr. Morton replied to the rant with the following sentiment, among others:

"My bottom line is that online communication should not be a substitute for direct communication, but rather a supplement."

This seems to be a very common sentiment, but it is one that is not echoed here. I allow that every form of communication has certain qualities which lend to it's superiority or inferiority when placed in a certain situation. For example, one would not be best served arguing philosophy via smoke signals. One WOULD be best served, I argue, using the written word. Text, when committed to paper, is absolved of all the inaccuracies of spoken communication. There are no hand gestures to be interpreted, no vocal inflections to be considered. The only things that are communicated are those which are consciously and methodically transformed into text.

This is not to say that text is an immaculate form of communication. Indeed, interpreting text is a challenging activity, it requires skills that every individual may not possess. There exists in language synonyms and even some level of connotation in the form of syntax. So, while writing is imperfect, I argue that it is superior in its capacity for clarity.

Written language follows a strict set of rules. These rules are universal, and cross boundaries erected by the meddling forces of gender and race. I have had conversations with my girlfriend regarding the "female language" which is apparently an ornate system of facial expressions, gestures, and vocal inflections which have the effect of instantly communicating nebulous social concepts such as hierarchy or approval. When females, or at least the females my girlfriend has come into contact with, meet they instantly sort and judge each other. This pronouncement of worth is possible due to the aesthetics of a face to face meeting. Such factors as physical beauty, clothing selection and attitude are not only present but predominant in the face to face meeting. This initial judgment or, dare I say it, prejudice, is something which constantly resides in the background of conversation, underscoring and qualifying each statement.

The beauty of text, and in particular electronically generated text, is that the trappings of the body are completely absent. A LiveJournal handle has no race, gender, physical appearance or clothing selection associated with it. When these factors are removed, authors such as Lindsay find themselves lacking a critical something in the discourse. She finds, and rightly so, that there is just something missing in the AIM conversation. She is correct, she is missing her ability to prematurely form prejudices.

Text in an electronic arena speaks for itself, and the only bigotry that emerges on electronic message boards or mailing lists is based no the previous contributions of the individual author. There are no groups to shove individuals into in this arena, and that makes people uncomfortable. People like Lindsay need to form instant opinions, they need the precious first impression, the flood of stimuli that comes from being in the presence of another individual. Text crystallizes ideas and presents them out of the context of bigotry. Some are not ready to cope with that form of communication.

I find that most, however, are ready and willing to plunge into the world of ideas that is electronic communication. Lindsay herself said it, people are more willing to open up when they use instant messenger or the LiveJournal to express themselves. Why should this be surprising or alarming? Whenever an idea needs to be communicated there is always the risk of misunderstanding. This risk, I contend, is significantly mitigated by the precise and disciplined nature of written language. What's more, when one begins to deliver a profession of love or hatred over instant messenger there is no face betraying premature emotional reactions before an entire sentiment has been communicated. Ideas and especially feelings are complex, and sometimes require extensive articulation which is not best served by the spoken word. Observe the tradition of the love letter. It is not enough to simply say "I love you" if you want to truly communicate. These three words have been used so often in the spoken language that their luster has worn off. These words are said at moments profound and mundane, so how can one understand their meaning except by relying on the nebulous context in which they are said? Why should one rely on such an inconsistent and easily misunderstood thing such as context or inflection to communicate something so critical as love? The words "I love you" are simply insufficient, and true communication requires the love letter.

And what is the difference, if a letter is transmitted on a truck or through wires? The only thing missing in the electronic love letter is the perfume of the lover, everything else can me simulated on the computer monitor. Fancy paper and calligraphy can all be simulated in this fancy box, and while it may not be the same it is, for me, good enough.

It is good enough because the heart of the letter, the ideas that you are trying to communicate, the purpose for the letter's very existence lie not in the paltry concerns of aesthetics, but in the words that are written on the page. These are where the author has expressed himself, and the consumption of these words is what may bring the understanding that we all crave. If understanding is the goal of expression then electronic communication is superior because it relies on the concrete rules and explicit nature of written language.
 
     

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We are all losers   
12:47am 02/02/2003
  I guess it's official, at least according to my boss. Observe:

If you really want to know how your friends are feeling, you shouldnt ask them; you should look at their away messages. Chances are youll get an answer closer to the truth. People really open up when theyre sitting in front of a computer screen.

Its a natural but disturbingly common phenomenon; students turn to E-media to express their feelings, living in dorms where newfound freedom meets unlimited Internet access. The Internet is a convenient, efficient, relatively risk-free forum for communication. Email, Instant Messenger, and the laughable web diary are faceless safe zones where there are no consequences for weepy emotional outpourings. Its easy to be forthcoming when you talk through a keyboard, when you have time to edit your thoughts, and when theres no one else in the room to talk back. You can cleanly achieve cyber-catharsis without ever having to come in contact with another human being.

The web journal, or blog, a medium that simultaneously (and shamelessly) caters to human innate voyeuristic and exhibitionist desires, is a particularly sad form of techno-emotion. Sites like Diaryland.com and LiveJournal.com are magnets for brooding, self-pitying adolescents and young adults, the kind that listen to emo music until their hearts break and bleed all over their keyboards. Though some of the gut-wrenching emotional confessions on sites like these can be entertaining, its distressing when the author is a friend. Its frustrating to think that your closest acquaintances would rather speak through a website than directly to your face.

This kind of covert exhibitionism, this techno-emotion is advancing to unhealthy extremes. People divide themselves into separate online and real-world identities, ones that are not easily reconciled. Someone who is generally vocally uncommunicative will become an open book for AOL buddies. People seek emotional validation by sharing their deepest dreams and sentiments in the form of away messages. One person I know left love poems for me in his AIM profile; his plan backfired, and I lost respect for him. Not only did I see his pseudo-advances as a cop-out from true interpersonal relationships, but also as a socially backward simulation of emotional fulfillment. Its sad that our generation is losing its ability to be straightforward with one another. Our interpersonal skills are irrevocably crippled by our addiction to the web.

Just around the corner is Valentines Day, another bloody victim of the techno-emotional sledgehammer. Hallmark.com reports that last February 14 was the busiest day in their history; 2.9 million web surfers chose to say, I love you by way of E-card. In 2002, over 88 million E-cards were sent through Hallmark.com alone. That means that 2.8 cards were sent every second that could have been put to better use: making a person-to-person phone call, giving a hug, taking the time to write a real letter. Love should not be a matter of convenience. It might take more effort and more courage, but to say, I love you means so much more than to type it.

Dependence on technology pervades all spheres of human life. For all the good it might do for business, education, and beyond, it has stunted interpersonal development; it provides a cowardly alternative to putting true emotions on the line. Despite good intentions, no E-card, no web journal, no Instant Message will ever sufficiently satisfy the innate human need for real contact and communication. Considering how widespread the trend of techno-emotion is, its hard to tell whether its reversible or not. For now, the best I can do is to tell my friends to email me when they want to really talk.
 
     

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I exist   
10:20am 14/01/2003
  For the duration of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I was, as my high school physics teacher Mrs. Haque would say, DISPLACED!

I had moved out of my university housing situation over break to move my junk into the house and comply will all deadlines, ball point pens and carbon copy pink forms. I turned my key in with a pile of junk in the chapter room, confident that the individuals responsible for my moving dilemma would be displaced themselves by the time I arrived on campus.

Unfortunately, I was grievously mistaken. Things are complicated here. The bottleneck was XXX, who not only didn't show up in time to move but missed the first day of the all important work weekend, thus skipping out on most of the house de-fouling. Both of these acts result in inconveniences for me, but are understandable. Sometimes it takes longer than expected/planned to worm out of the iron tight fists of your parents' jurisdiction. I have no hard feelings.

In any case, once XXX moved out Chuck D and Dirty Sanchez were able to occupy his space, which allowed Mishkin and Storker to move in which finally allowed me, the Padre, to take control of my domain. After going for a few days with no place to live, I have come to the realization that the computer is my primary connection to the rest of the world. It plays an integral part in my education, it is what keeps me in touch with friends, it is where I do my writing, it is where I do my reading, it is where I do practically everything. Without it, I found myself lost. Friends couldn't get in touch with me, and as a result I wandered listlessly around the halls, every once in awhile pouncing on the computer of one of the other brothers for a few sweet moments in connection with the outside world. In truth, I felt like a junkie. A communication junkie. I'm better now, as I am firmly rooted to the ethernet jack in my wall.
 
     

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COLUMBUS IS VICTORIOUS   
01:24am 04/01/2003
  This is a victory not just for those boys on the field, but for this whole goddamned metropolis. I can hear them screaming outside. Tonight, all of columbus raises their fists in sweet victory.  
     

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New Year   
08:05pm 01/01/2003
  Mad props to Margaux for hosting what can only be described as a wildin' party last night. It's funny, the way parties coagulate at the Munnely residence. Margaux will never go out of her way to throw a party, at all. She does absolutely nothing, and fifty plus kids show up at her door with cases of beer. What's more, Rushmore decided to make an appearance and play their set for us which was awesome. I am not a huge fan of their music, but the energy a band brings into a room is undeniable.

Last night I also discovered the beer bong, which is much less harrowing than I expected. Reflecting back on last evening it is evident that my alchohol tolerance has skyrocketed while I have been at school. Before I left I could not chug one beer without booting. I lost count of how many I chugged, bonged or otherwise devoured in a tiny amount of time. Unfortunatley I did boot once, but it was in the sink which is not terrible. It's strange though, usually if I get too wildly drunk there is a certain point past which I don't remember anything. Last night, however, I clearly remember the beginning and end of the night, which led me to believe I remembered the evening in its entirety. However, the debacle in the sink eludes me as do several comments I made to the hostess during the course of the eveing. So this time, it was not the tail end of the party which remains in alchoholic obfuscation but the middle, the meat of things if you will. I find this very strange.

It was good to see so many of my old cronies. Parties, I think, are the ideal situation for me to deal with most of these Academy folks. They are people that I don't know so well, that I wouldn't want to spend time with one on one, but when a bunch of them together the cream rises to the surface and I can skim it off for my own enjoyment. You don't have to deal with conversation gaps, because you can just walk away. Furthermore, alcohol tends to make me a very friendly person which is clutch in dealing with some of the more unsavory elements. Although I must say the attendance roster at last night's fiesta was superb. There was not one person who I would rather have had stay home, it was truly a great party.

Peace to all my devoted readers during the new year. May the coming months be happy and productive for all.
 
     

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New Year   
08:04pm 01/01/2003
  Mad props to Margaux for hosting what can only be described as a wildin' party last night. It's funny, the way parties coagulate at the Munnely residence. Margaux will never go out of her way to throw a party, at all. She does absolutely nothing, and fifty plus kids show up at her door with cases of beer. What's more, Rushmore decided to make an appearance and play their set for us which was awesome. I am not a huge fan of their music, but the energy a band brings into a room is undeniable.

Last night I also discovered the beer bong, which is much less harrowing than I expected. Reflecting back on last evening it is evident that my alchohol tolerance has skyrocketed while I have been at school. Before I left I could not chug one beer without booting. I lost count of how many I chugged, bonged or otherwise devoured in a tiny amount of time. Unfortunatley I did boot once, but it was in the sink which is not terrible. It's strange though, usually if I get too wildly drunk there is a certain point past which I don't remember anything. Last night, however, I clearly remember the beginning and end of the night, which led me to believe I remembered the evening in its entirety. However, the debacle in the sink eludes me as do several comments I made to the hostess during the course of the eveing. So this time, it was not the tail end of the party which remains in alchoholic obfuscation but the middle, the meat of things if you will. I find this very strange.

It was good to see so many of my old cronies. Parties, I think, are the ideal situation for me to deal with most of these Academy folks. They are people that I don't know so well, that I wouldn't want to spend time with one on one, but when a bunch of them together the cream rises to the surface and I can skim it off for my own enjoyment. You don't have to deal with conversation gaps, because you can just walk away. Furthermore, alcohol tends to make me a very friendly person which is clutch in dealing with some of the more unsavory elements. Although I must say the attendance roster at last night's fiesta was superb. There was not one person who I would rather have had stay home, it was truly a great party.

Peace to all my devoted readers during the new year. May the coming months be happy and productive for all.
 
     

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Bon Voyage   
08:28am 25/12/2002
  Off to New York. Back next year.

Peace.
 
     

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I had something to write about   
06:12am 24/12/2002
  But now it's gone. This sucks. I remember thinking about something, then thinking I should write about it in my LJ.

Well, here we are and I got nothing. Failure.
 
     

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Three days running   
04:00am 23/12/2002
  Alright, at this point it's just about putting something in here every day. I do have something to say, however.

I just finished watching some anime with Leslie and Ishan. We saw the first four episodes of a series called "Something experiment Lain." After watching this, I am quite convinced that some folks in the Japanese entertainment industry have totally lost contact with reality.

The series starts with the gruesome suicide of an as yet undeveloped character. After that, we switch focus to our point of view character Lain, who appears to always be tripping on acid. It is really difficult to get a handle on what is supposed to be "real" in this fictional universe when the normal laws of reality only apply sometimes. The first cople or three episodes are rendered almost completely incoherent due to these insane hallucinations, but here is what I have gathered about the series so far.

1.) The girl who threw herself from the rooftops now lives inside "the Wired," Neuromancer style. I also believe that she is controlling people through the Wired and forcing them to kill. In one instance, a gentleman aces two guys with a handgun at a club and then himself after some chilling dialogue from Lain which really didn't fit her character at all. In another instance, some kid aces three other kids because he was trapped in this game even after smashing his computer. I don't understand how this could happen, but there it is.

2.) Lain has some kind of an evil twin. It is not clear weather this twin exists in the Wired, the real world, both or is some product of a mental disorder, but the character definately exists. The significance of this is as yet undetermined.

3.) Lain's father knows something which he will not tell his daughter. Lain comes home one day with a Psyche, a processor which can turn any machine into an unbelievable supercomputer. When she asks her father, he claims ignorance. His tone, however, betrays his savage lies.

All in all, the first four episodes of this series have left me with only feelings of puzzlement. I sense that if I kept watching I would probably enjoy seeing these mysteries revealed, but it is tough to say if these mysteries would ever be revealed. Say what you want about foreign culture in the arts etc, but this narrative is definately not cohesive. In two hours of viewing these people utterly failed to communicate anything beyond the most basic premise of their plot. Furthermore, the characters are underdeveloped, their motiviations unclear. I am lost and confused when it comes to this series.

I have heard that Rey has seen this series in it's entirety. Enlighten us, my man. Should I download the rest of these episodes or will I be sorely, sorely dissapointed?
 
     

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Christmas shopping   
02:55am 22/12/2002
  You know, we hear a lot about all the materialism that has been associated with the holidays. It seems every modern holiday special has some reference to "the true meaning of Christmas" which inevitably involved the destruction of all the precious gifts and the following spiritual fufillment. I have always wanted to discover "the true meaning of Christmas," if it exists at all, but my parents keep stepping in the way.

You see, for a couple of years running now the top gift on my wishlist is nothing. I don't want any presents, I don't want to buy any presents. When I first proposed this option I was expecting some kind of approval from my parents. I expected them to embrace my rejection of materialism, and wish me a Christmas filled with Christ instead of dumb stuff. To my great surprise, I was mistaken.

I don't know exactly why, but my parents absoluetly insist that I participate in this holidy spending frenzy. My mother muttered something about my father's family getting in the way, which didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Apparently there is some network of gift exchange which demands absolute participation on penalty of ... something really bad.

I can understand my parents reluctance to let me skip out on the gift exchange as far as the younger siblings are concerned, but other than that their motivations remain a mystery. I think they suspect some selfishness on my part. They might be right. After all, I don't care about the shit I get under the tree so by not buying gifts I am basically just saving myself money. But really, is that so bad? Why can't Christmas be like Thanksgiving or Easter? You get the family together, you have a big meal, and then you just visit. Visit, it's a verb. You do it. It's what holidays are for. Where do the goddamned presents come in?

Doesn't "gift exchange" sound like an oxymoron to you? I want to see the faces of my family when they see me giftless on the floor as my siblings tear into brightly wrapped packages which say "With love, from Tim."
 
     

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LJ RESSURECTION!!!   
04:39am 21/12/2002
 
mood: contemplative
Back.

It's good. I missed this space, I don't know why I stopped using it. It seemed that I just sat down in front of the computer and didn't have anything to say. Or, more often, I didn't have anything to say that I would want the whole world knowing about.

Let me tell you a story, I have told it to some others already.

It has become ritual for me to take the 6:15 bus from Pittsburgh to Columbus whenever I return from school. I passed a gentleman outside the bus stop and he stopped me to ask for a cigarette. I gave him one, and sat down next to him. We traded names, his was Scott.

Scott was in Pittsburgh for a year long rehab program. He had left his home and his contacts in Brooklyn for a fresh start, which I thought admirable. I suppose that on those streets there are pushers who push, and I am glad that he got the hell out of Dodge. I watched him as he sucked on his cigarette, huffing it down like a man starving.

"I gotta get my nicotine, you know? They don't let me have that in there. My music too, I enjoy it while I can, you know? They take that away too."

I didn't pry, but Scott volunteered the information that he had been through the program once before. He seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the endeavor, and I suspect he entered of his own accord. The fact that the institution is out of state also increases my doubts as to the mandatory nature of his participation. I think that Scott is addicted to some kind of drugs, and that he wants desperately to quit.

I respect Scott.
 
     

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I laugh until my head comes off   
12:13pm 22/11/2002
  I surf electric waves
that crescendo in four four time.
Smooth like yogurt
being poured into my ears.

I feel my skull pulse
as the air vibrates with
life

And as the wave crashes
onto the brain's beach
I writhe in delight

my limbs drown in the sound
and as vibration commands
so do they obey.
 
     

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Terrorists are still our enemies.   
11:11am 06/11/2002
  We have a message board that the honorable brothers of Sigma Nu use to communicate with each other. The default use of this board is to post funny or provocative links to jokes/news articles. One brother posted this selection from the Associated Press with some bemoaning of due process and human rights.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With the killing of six al-Qaida suspects
in Yemen by a missile fired from a pilotless Predator spy plane, the
CIA's combat participation in the war on terrorism has expanded
beyond Afghanistan.
The Predator has become a deadly tool and powerful
psychological weapon that seemingly comes from nowhere to deliver a
fiery strike.
"It's a demonstration that al-Qaida can run, but they can't
hide," said Daniel Mulvenna, a terrorism expert at the Center for
Counterintelligence and Security Studies outside Washington.
"Eventually the technological reach of the U.S. intelligence
community is going to produce these opportunities."
Missiles fired from lurking Predators have killed Osama bin
Laden's operations chief and threatened an Afghan warlord. The
deadly drones give the CIA a way to track and kill suspected
terrorists without putting U.S. pilots at risk, admittedly with the
possibility of unintended civilian casualties.
The Yemen strike killed Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi,
al-Qaida's chief operative in Yemen and a suspect in the October
2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole that killed 17 American
sailors, U.S. officials said. Five other people, also believed to be
al-Qaida operatives, were riding in al-Harethi's car and died in the
attack.
The attack provoked criticism of U.S. tactics in the
broadening terror war.
Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh called the strike "a
summary execution that violates human rights."
"Even terrorists must be treated according to international
law. Otherwise, any country can start executing those whom they
consider terrorists," she said.
The airstrike on al-Harethi's car was reminiscent of Israeli
airstrikes that target vehicles of suspected members of the radical
Islamic groups. The U.S. government has criticized that practice,
most recently on Tuesday.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher deflected
questions on the attack in Yemen, but said U.S. opposition remains
to "targeted killings" of Palestinians by Israel.
"If you look back at what we have said about targeted
killings in the Israeli-Palestinian context, you will find that the
reasons we have given do not necessarily apply in other
circumstances," Boucher said.
The White House defended the Yemen operation.
"Sometimes the best course is a good offense," presidential
spokesman Ari Fleischer said Tuesday. "The president has made clear
that we fight the war on terrorism wherever we need. Terrorists
don't recognize any borders or nations."
The use of the armed Predator apparently was the first
outside Afghanistan, where CIA-operated drones have fired at least
four times. One of those attacks, a November operation that also
included strikes by U.S. military aircraft, killed al-Qaida military
head Mohammed Atef.
The United States developed the Predator after the 1991
Persian Gulf war to give military commanders views of the
battlefield without having to put pilots there.
First used in 1995, the remote-controlled spy plane can lurk
in an area for up to 16 hours, unseen and unheard at 15,000 feet,
its cameras transmitting live video, infrared or radar pictures to
military commanders or intelligence officials anywhere in the world.
The video is sharp enough to be able to spot a person from five
miles away, officials say.
The CIA was the first to fly Predators modified to carry one
Hellfire missile under each wing. Originally built as anti-tank
weapons for Army helicopters, the 125-pound Hellfires streak through
the air faster than the speed of sound to deliver about 17 pounds of
high explosives.
The Bush administration has ordered an additional 22 of the
aircraft and their associated ground stations at a cost of about
$160 million. The Air Force already has about four dozen of them and
the CIA has an undisclosed number.
The Predator has its limits. Like other small planes, it
can't fly in harsh weather like snow or fog, and its video would be
largely useless in those conditions anyway.
The plane also can be difficult to fly and is vulnerable to
enemy anti-aircraft fire. At least nine Air Force Predators and one
CIA drone have crashed during missions involving Afghanistan or Iraq
since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.



Here is my response.



Why is this a problem? The only problem here is that the US is criticizing Israelis for killing terrorists. I think that it is necessary to consider the climate of the nations in which these strikes are being executed. It is impossible in these nations for due process to occur because there is no process.

It is very unlikely that you would get a conviction of any Palestinean for terrorism by a jury of his peers. These people do not have any love for us at all, many of them hate us. The local police officers are not going to arrest people who are hailed as heroes of God. The local courts are not going to convict their martyrs.

So then what do we do? It seems to me that we have three options, two of which we have exercised in different circumstances:

1.) Occupation. The most straightfoward and traditional approach. Occupy the hostile nation, replace their local and biased police officers with our foreign and biased police officers and arrest everyone we see who looks like a terrorist. Filter out the duds, and throw the rest in cuba. There you go, terrorists off the streets.

There are many problems with this method. The process of occupying a nation is a long and bloody one. People who are not terrorists are going to die out of patriotism, which I certainly don't consider a crime. In this instance you are protecting the lives of the terrorists at the cost of the lives of innocents. I do not think that this is right.

2.) Spy missile bombings. Here we only drop bombs on the terrorists, instead of the whole nation. We surgically eliminate those elements which we find to be a threat to our national security and go on our way. Granted, there will be some collateral damage. However, this collateral damage is less harmful than that of a full scale invasion. Compare the number of deaths in this instance to the number of deaths in the invasion of Afghanistan and you can see the advantages.

I can see the danger in this approach, however. It would be more than a tragedy if the United States went on a bender and started killing anyone that seemed to be a terrorist, but I do not think that this is going to happen. For one, those missiles are expensive. We cannot affoard to waste jet fuel and rockets on simple civilians. I am confident that if the US is going to send in a machine like this to kill some folks, they are folks who are a threat to the lives of the people in this nation. Certainly, sometimes we miss, but the fact remains the same: fewer people will die.

Furthermore, the United States would not dare use this kind of machine to execute political figures, unless they are a political figure due to their involvement in international terrorism. It is pretty damn obvious when a ball of firey death falls from the sky and into a political rally what is going on. The United States cannot come close to causing that kind of an international uproar. We can barely defend the lives of our people without being branded as an evil empire.

3.) Compliance. We roll over and do what the terroists say.

Very few people in the United States are willing to consider this a viable option. Furthermore, the demands of the terrorist organizations are very poorly articulated. September 11th was an unexpected attack, not a hostage situation. Nobody claimed responsibility. Nobody said I bombed your buildings and here is what you have to do to keep it from happening again. There was no negotiation, only firey death for Americans.

To me, the agenda of these terrorists remains in complete obfuscation, but one thing is clear: they kill Americans. When did this criteria stop being enough to persecute our enemies? When did the lives of American citizens become less important than those of terrorists? When did America lose it's pride? There was a time when an attack such as this prompted the vicious retribution of nuclear weapons; we dropped them twice on Japan. Compared to that offensive, today's operations are a mere spanking.

When I saw two landmarks fall, when I saw the skyline of the city of my birth marred forever I felt one emotion only: rage. I rage against the theft of those thousands of American lives. I am furious at the blatant murder of men and women who can only be classified as total innocents. I believe that these actions have consequences, and the fact that terrorists try to hide from these consequences by distancing themself from any kind of secular government has no meaning to me. Terrorists are soldiers without a general, without a battle plan, without a coherent agenda. They are the hot potato being tossed from nation to nation, most often blowing up in the lap of America and smearing our testicles all over the chair.

I am tired of catching the potato. The potato needs to be eliminated.
 
     

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