Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Coulomb, Avogadro, Faraday, Newton, & Jesus

Charge is measured in a unit called "coulombs", so named for the French physicist who defined electrostatic attraction and repulsion (Coulomb's Law). There are 6.02214e23 electrons per mole of electrons (Avogadro's number); further, there are 1.602177e-19 coulombs of charge per electron, so that means there are 9.64853e4 coulombs of charge per mole of electrons (Faraday's constant). Back to Coulomb's Law, any two point charges (nice, tidy, mathematically simple massless "points in space" that are easier to deal with than electrons, or nuclei, or Buicks) placed one meter apart and each having a +1C charge will repel one another with a force of 9 billion Newtons. That's the same force that 900,000 metric tons of weight exerts on this planet due to gravity - about 100 Eiffel Towers, to bring things back full circle to France.

A 1 gallon jug of water is about 4000 grams of H20, which at 18 grams per mole means that the water in that jug has about 210 million coulombs of charge, and if you placed another similar jug one meter away each would be exerting 4.1e26 N of force on the other. The scale of that is so fucked that the only comparable explanation of weight I can offer is that if you weighed the Earth itself on another Earth-like planet, it would be exerting less force due to gravity than the nuclei in one of those jugs of water.

Fortunately, the electrons in one jug have an equally strong attraction to the nuclei in the other, which cancels the incredible force of repulsion. It is an important distinction that both the attraction and repulsion forces are still present and still just as tremendously strong as we've described, they're just balanced so perfectly that the effects of those forces are diminished to nothing.

So what happens when some irresponsible ass turns the water in one of those jugs into wine (Jesus's First Sign)? Kind of a dick move, really. Being only 85-90% water, the rest of that shit has a completely different molar mass. Hell, ethanol (the majority of the difference) works out to slightly more than 46 g/mol instead of the 18 g/mol of water. The anecdote is clear: the water turned to wine, so I can only assume that if one can pull off such feats of alchemy they can do so with enough precision that I don't have to fuck around with estimating the amount and composition of all of the adulterants, dirt, and other shit floating around in that jug. So the water is water, and then it is not, and in that change there is no point for the universe in which all of this takes place to catch up to that fact; the electromagnetic force, infinite in range and ludicrous in potency, is not granted a reprieve from duty or a do-over - it simply continues to apply itself the entire time.

But along a given timeline those forces must at some point be particulate; either there is a point in this occurrence where the water is, from the perspective of the universe, not water and not yet wine, or there is a point where the change interrupts the constant force. In either case, the delicate balance of attraction and repulsion is broken.

At least the guys at CERN put a little more thought into whether to fuck with reality than having a snit with their mom about whether or not they would help.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Consonance / Futility

Simmer and boil, till and toil,
'til the stock is hot and the roots uncoil,
'til the rot plows under the autumn spoil;
all shall end in soup or soil.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Positive Thinking

Bierce defined "Positive" as "Incorrect at the top of one's voice". In this modern era of remote and non-present social interaction it may need to be updated to "Incorrect on the internet", because posting has eclipsed shouting as the medium of choice for morons with messages.

I'm not talking about assholes, people who like to argue, or the irrational. I'm not even talking about political, religious, or philosophical messages...or even "causes". I can deal with polemic pundits, evangelical essayists, deontological douchebags, and even Bulimic Buddhist Chicks with Dicks with Cancer for Green Technology or whatever the fuck happens to be the random weirdness I'm supposed to give a shit about this week. I expect those people on the internet. I'm talking about otherwise normal people who have somehow completely lost the ability to do things like basic goddamned arithmetic, and feel the need to "correct" people who aren't wrong.


Monday, October 26, 2009

The Yellow Brick

Years ago somebody told me The Yellow Brick Joke ("...and the yellow brick sailed off into the sky...and simply vanished"); it's a joke within a joke within a group dare, for those of you who are unfamiliar. The purpose is to tell the first joke, which is deliberately not at all funny, anticlimactic, and perhaps even a little baffling, to some unsuspecting mark - preferably in the company of several people who themselves once fell for it. You end with this non-punchline and everyone laughs like it's the funniest fucking thing ever...except the one person who isn't in on it. If that guy does laugh, he's a douchebag who laughs even when something isn't funny and you should avoid him.

You wait a pre-determined amount of time until everyone is gathered again (a few days at least), and you explain that you feel awful about the last joke you told him. You tell him it isn't him, it was kind of an inside thing with everyone else and you hadn't even thought about how weird it must have sounded. So to make it up to him, you tell him another joke that has an obvious, almost juvenile punchline that you telegraph the whole time. If the guy calls you on the fact that punchline is obvious or acts like an asshole, he's a douchebag who doesn't give people the benefit of the doubt and you should stop hanging out with him.

If you get to finish the joke you'll basically ask him for the punchline ("...and guess what the parrot had in his mouth?"), and he'll probably respond with the obvious answer you handed him ("the fat man's cigar?").

And then you hit him with it: "No, the yellow brick."

If he doesn't laugh, he's a douchebag who...ah, fuck it. It isn't really so much a joke as it is a douchebag test, but the point is that timing is everything.

Like today, for instance. My landlord told me I could keep the new dog we rescued from the streets a week ago. Fifteen minutes later, I told my wife the good news, and that I would cough the extra money for the permit, shots, new kennel, and other bullshit since we'd given it a week and he was doing well with the other dogs, and since nobody had posted any signs looking for him or answered our own inquiries. Fifteen minutes later, she took him for a walk and stopped to get a coffee.

And at the coffee shop his owner came running up, and fifteen minutes later we were returning our new dog to his previous owner. We did the right thing; I know that, and she knows that. We took care of the dog when he needed it, we did our due dilligence looking for his owner, and just when we'd accepted that this was meant to be it suddenly, very obviously, wasn't going to be. He knew his name when the woman called it, she described the collar he'd had on when we found him, and he was very obviously excited to see her kids, who having accidentally left a gate open one night, were heartbroken that the dog had ran away on their watch. We didn't accept anything in return, and we tried not to get weepy in their living room as we said our goodbyes. None of this, of course, makes it easy to lose the dog right after we decided to keep him, LOL, but it certainly isn't "wrong" for him to return home; the timing just sucks.

So my wife is equal parts inconsolable and pissed, and I keep waiting for the brick to show back up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The autumn wind blows;
I breathe in and I breathe out.
I prefer neither.
Rote becomes a ritual
when a sigh becomes a song.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Working Definitions Revisited

Pragmatism is the noble ability to look at a moral dilemma and see a logistics problem; it allows strong people to make difficult choices and weak people to capitulate without taking responsibility. Characterized by a propensity to willingly accept the hatred of those less capable.

As contrasted with Opportunism, which is the preferred term for the same quality when it is displayed by some other mercenary bastard.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's Curtains...

Shower curtains that is (as opposed to drapery, or the sort of thing Cagney says when he's not doing a love scene1).

When decorating a guest bathroom it is important to establish boundaries - something that says "this is my house, you fuckers; you tend to your collective bodily functions and hygiene at my discretion in the same manner a serf is suffered to live at the whim of a tyrant". Some people only stock the cheaper soaps and lotions, the old towels, last month's magazines, and toilet paper that feels as though it had been crocheted out of burlap; others make a point to leave a bar of Cor soap that cost a dollar a gram, their finest linens, a Kindle, and toilet paper that feels as though it had been spun out of virgin wool. Whether through indifference or fawning, the message is clear: your host alone determines your level of comfort. Either way, it's an awful lot of work.

Having no time or patience for picking out endless insults or indulgences for my guests, I am resigned to making a single but rather overt statement with my shower curtain. It is unquestionably noticable, the nature of a shower curtain in a bathroom, even when it isn't the point of the visit. Sheerly by size, and often by the serendipitous placement in front or immediately to one side of the other focal points. Hell, it's even visible when opposite the vanity courtesy of the human frailty from whence it is so named. A message to your guest by way of shower curtain is both unavoidable and unquestionable. It says "respect my domain, for if I would do this to my own dwelling, imagine the disdain I will show your corporeal person should you displease me."

Certainly such a statement is both safer than occasionally risking your own discomfort with the burlap toilet paper and cheaper than stocking designer soap made with goddamned silver.

(1 "A James Cagney love scene is one where he lets the other guy live." - B. Hope)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The New Ecology / Four Legs Good, Two Rails Better

As periods of adaptation go, my sudden dietary shift is fairly straightforward; no crawling about in the muck for years trying to breathe, no flapping my fins uselessly, and very little slithering has been required - just a lot of avoiding carbs in general and beverages composed largely of high-fructose corn syrup in particular. Perhaps I'll grow a tail; the endocrinologist doesn't think so, but I'm hopeful.

But I am one of the lucky few, ostensibly at the apex of evolution on this quaint little tilted, eccentric dirtball. I have only genetic diseases and maybe the prospect of a new sensory ability to anticipate. If anything, I am losing what little remnants of a tail my ancestors left me, along with my appendix and other vestiges of the trial and error of human physiology. It is the much less personal evolution of the rest of the planet that intrigues me now, particularly the speculation of how I and my fellow apex apes may be inadvertently influencing the evolution of of other species.

Certainly we do a number of things to influence the evolution of other species deliberately, ranging from the mildly absurd to the positively brilliant (with the occasional foray into dangerously stupid), but that discussion doesn't need my sponsorship. Engineered medicine and food, biofuels, and organic industrial compounds may be miraculous or catastrophic when the score is tallied, but even if they are the product of hubris they were considered.

I'm far more concerned with lawn care and generations of dwarfed pets, two examples of the ecological and evolutionary impact that is derived from human aesthetic appreciation. We enjoy the look of well tended Agrostis Palustris, and as we cover golf courses and lawns with it we acknowledge that it is a pain in the ass compared to the less attractive grass that it replaced. It requires maintenance, significant watering, and the manual removal of other species that threaten to usurp it from within. We enjoy small, cute little yipping hypertense dogs, so we have bred them to fit into purses and laps over centuries of careful, controlled eugenics. We have created countless hybrids over millenia of agricultural experimentation, both primitive and modern.

And I propose that we are inadvertently teaching the species of the world to please us, slowly but surely. The concepts of camouflage and mimicry already exist in nature, so it isn't much of a leap to consider that as human beings become more and more the controlling force in the survivial and prosperity of a species, and as that decision is based more and more on our own aesthetic considerations, that a species will simply begin to evolve without interference to be more attractive to this capricuous control mechanism of the new ecology called 'man'. Our ability to influence the genetic makeup of pretty much everything around us has essentially made our collective opinion a concrete force in the development of the ecology, as significant as physics and as pervasive as climate.

And even the byproduct of our inhabitance, the machines and cities we construct in order to adapt our environment to our own ends, will no doubt become an evolutionary spark at some point, driving species incapable of that tool-making ape's trick to themselves adapt to our new jungles. If stray dogs begin to compete with us for a spot on the commuter line, such as the case in Moscow, I fear it won't be long until the little bastards stop honest begging and stealing and actually enter the work force, learning to tie a leash in a poor simulacrum of a single windsor, feign interest at social gatherings, and steal sidelong glances at bitches and studs while on the clock. Fifty years ago the job market would have judged them harshly for being illiterate quadrupeds, but in this economy being able to parlay their natural gifts of loyalty, intelligence, and the modicum of restraint all domesticated animals show intuitively even prior to training puts them at least one or two steps ahead of a newly graduated ivy leaguer douchebag with a BusAd degree. I suppose the dogs will be behind the curve in the easily entertained, ass-sniffing, and boot licking departments in comparison, but something tells me they'll catch on.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

If I had to literalize the metaphor of "opening a new chapter" in my life, my first pick would be something along the lines of "No shit, there I was, surrounded by horny amazons insisting I complete their 'religious' ceremony before collecting my winnings from the high-stakes poker game that followed my successfull United Nations speaking engagement." It absofuckinglutely would not begin with "I remember the day I was diagnosed with diabetes." As chapter openings go, that one just blows.

But alas, in these sort of endeavors it is improbable that I am the sole author of this particular body of work; at the very least the editorial staff has final approval (bitches). Whether I like it or not, Type II Diabetes is the opening to this new chapter and I'm going to have to deal with that, along with all of the carb counting and glucose management horseshit that a reasonably healthy person would have been doing anyway if he had any sense. Stress management, blood pressure, cholesterol - all of that shit that was peripherally important is now dire, because diabetics get twice as fucked three times as fast from those maladies. It is very strange to have those concepts reprioritized overnight, but that's basically what happened. All of those things you've casually done for most of your life, you immediately and permanently stop doing, and that's just how it goes.

And I can't help but feel like an asshole for that; why the fuck couldn't I have stopped all of those bad habits before, motivated by sheer sanity and the hope of a healthier life? Eating sweets and carbs doesn't cause diabetes; it's a pancreatic problem. If you aren't diabetic you can eat pounds of goddamned sugar, and your pancreas will make as much insulin as it needs to make in order to get rid of the excess. Type I diabetics don't make the insulin, and Type II diabetics don't process it correctly, but it isn't like Coca-Cola caused this. More likely a lack of excercise in the last several years, combined with a high carb diet, combined with stress, combined with who-knows-what-else kicked on that genetically predisposed circuit and the old pancreas eventually said "Ah...I see; you're not listening. Try this on for size, dumbass." The Coca-Cola isn't to blame; the idiot who drank two litres of it a day and stopped taking care of himself is to blame. Him, and his traitorous goddamned pancreas.

Although the modern Western term is Greek, Hippocrates didn't write about it. That's the scariest fucking thing I know about diabetes. Hippocrates wrote about tons of things, both obscure and phenomenally mortal...but not about diabetes. He doesn't mention it, not because it didn't happen in the ancient world, but because it was always quickly fatal. He didn't write about it, because there was no point discussing medical treatment for something that was (at the time) medically unreatable. Diabetes was a death sentence in the time of Hippocrates, and that's a sobering thought even if it isn't the same case today. Even a few hundred years later when Aretaeus named the condition diabetes after the way a guy stands to take a piss (seriously, 'one who straddles'), his prognosis for those afflicted was a life "short, disgusting, and painful". Charming.

But modern medicine is not so pessimistic. Excercise, light medication, and an almost monastic devotion to never eating or drinking anything truly tasty again will triumph. I took a hedonistic route in my late teens that lasted until I met my wife, just prior to turning thirty; beyond the other (ahem) "indulgences" along that journey of self-discovery, I managed to eat a variety of truly sinful, delectable dishes from around the world, some of which would make a nutritionist blush like a nun at a strip club. Of sweets, and carbs, and Coca-Colas, and rich French dishes I have had my fair share, and now my appetites have shifted. I want to stick around, and if that means regarding food as a measured, rational pursuit rather than a pleasure of the flesh I can do that. My new hunger is to remain healthy, and to be a very old diabetic someday.

And as far as the title of this chapter of my life is concerned, even my nom de plume, Amamankhet, is a bastard-Egyptian term that should have foreshadowed this - one that I chose at the beginning of that last chapter of being young and somewhat reckless, I might add.

It means "Eater of Life".

Monday, July 27, 2009


I remember the first time I learned that savvy businesses were using sexual imagry and allusion to subconsciously sell me products. Although I am sure the intention was for me to be incensed at this revelation, to a pubescent male the notion that retailers are creating and distributing sexually suggestive materials in order to entice purchase doesn't seem like a soulless manipulation of the unsophisticated masses by a callous institutionalized capitalism -- it seems like a charitable pursuit. Even if you don't buy anything, they keep showing you.

And now, a couple of decades later, it is somehow disconcerting that my customer relationships have progressed logically to the "next step" I once dreaded; I can no longer just get a juvenile thrill from my vendors, careless of their feelings. They send me catalogs when I haven't ordered from them in a while that actually say that they miss me. They give me ultimatums about taking me out of their mailing list (the commercial entity's version of deleting my number from their cell phone, I guess). They beg, they wheedle and cajole, and they offer to do those dirty things they used to when our relationship began, like free shipping and handling.

I even discovered that two of the catalogs I'd been with recently were subsidiaries of the same company; even their websites were identical, if you know what I mean. In my youth the prospect of two retailers at once (twins!) would have been exciting, but now all I could think about was that I would never be able to order from both of them for long without going bankrupt or crazy, but I didn't want to let one of them down gently and risk fucking things up with the other one. And you know they talk to each other all the time; they're related, and I didn't opt out initially.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

EXISTENTIAL ALLEGORY OF DOOM (deliberately bad writing, vol 1)

 He wanted to tell her to go to Hell, skipping Purgatory and Limbo in the fast lane to damnation like a drunken frat boy in a hurry to flunk out of his eighth sophomore semester; he wanted to make her pay life’s sad little fiddler with money from her own childhood piggy-bank, for the pathetic refrain that she had inspired in his bleak existence.
 But all he could do was stare at the lush mountainous terrain that rolled gently from the nape of her neck to the hem of her skirt, irrigated by streams of sweat like perfumed rivers.
 “Must you internalize everything, Max?” she sighed, sending his train of thoughts careening off of the tracks. “I thought you wanted to talk about Kevin…”
 “Kevin Kurtweiler Kinsley is a racist bastard,” Max spat. “That pointed-headed little bigot wouldn’t dare cross me.”
 Laura suckled at her cigarette holder with distracted infantilism. “Oh?” she quipped. “I thought you two had a history,” she cooed.
 She didn’t know the half of it…not the part, the division, or the moiety, he thought to himself; she was just stoking the fire, adding comment after comment to kindle him into exploding like year-old dynamite.
 “Come on, Max...admit it. It wasn’t the money, or the crass comments; you were jealous,” Laura giggled.
 “Hah!” Max Hahed; “Kevin tried to bring me to my knees for months, but I wouldn’t stand for it. The last time I saw him he was running out of the Blue Room over on Ash and Hunter, white as a sheet. What do I have to be green over?”
 And then it hit him like an allegorical frat-boy’s pre-owned Gremlin in the proverbial fast lane to metaphoric damnation: Laura…and Kevin…That was the second time she had two-timed him, and she did it with that double-crossing cross burner Kevin.
 “Don’t you get it, Max?” Laura asked softly. “I needed something real, not just an ephemeral connection to another cliché motivated by a mutual lack of multidimensional experience. That’s no way to raise a child,” she sobbed dramatically.
 “You’re not pregnant,” Max muttered perplexedly.
 “I mean my inner child, you idiot! My inner child has been suffering under the oppression of your godless and nihilistic model of the universe; you don’t believe in love, in nobility, or even the inherent dignity of mankind!” Laura cried.
 “You’re no saint, sister…”
 “Oh, Max,” she gasped. “Just because I don’t personally practice any number of empirically circumspect modes of emotional interaction doesn’t mean that I don’t accept them as being true.”
 Max frowned, his brow furrowing in the futility of the argument. He tried to tell himself that none of this was even real; nothing mattered, because nothing existed outside of the necessary delusions of the self that he created solely to represent amalgams of his own ever-shifting concepts of reality.
 But this phantasm of unobtainable and altogether too infuriating femininity, he had at some point decided to manufacture with perfect breasts and eyes like blue dinner plates, and he couldn’t ignore the sympathy and lust that her shuddering provoked.
 “Look, kid…it doesn’t have to be this way,” he admonished gently. “We can work things out; you’ll see, baby.”
 He cradled her against his chest, her isolationistically folded arms digging into his ribs like cruel little reminders of the discomfort created by attempting to identify with anything outside of one’s own existence.
 “Do you really think so, Max? Or is this just another of your carefully planned facades of human interaction designed to reinforce your self-identity as a sympathetic anti-hero?”
 Max smiled and shook his head. “It’s legit, kid; I know this will work.”
 “But how can you be so certain?” she asked, uncertain.
 “Because I’m not an existentialist; I’m a solipsist,” he admitted. “I didn’t know how to break this to you, but I guess now is as good a time as any.”
 “I don’t understand…if you don’t believe I exist, how can we be happy?” Laura asked quietly, beginning to sob again.
 “Oh, baby…you do exist. You exist because I exist, and all this time I felt myself falling in love with you I never thought it would work. You’re a figment of my imagination…I’m a Methodist; it’s complicated. But now I can accept that if you are an inseparable part of my own egocentric experience you no longer have the burden of developing your own independent emotional character,” Max explained.
 “But I’m the protagonist, Max!”
 “Nonsense. Why do you think my internal monologue is always illustrated instead of yours? This isn’t a literary convention; we’re the same person. Sometimes, I think from chapter to chapter the core concept of self has shifted back and forth…”
 “I knew it! That’s why Kevin has his own chapter!”
 “Exactly,” Max cried. “Omniscient multiple third-person perspectives can only occur if we accept that all entities are expressions of one individual ego.”
 Laura could feel the passion rekindle as he challenged her perception of reality and self; his manhood pulsed between them, and she felt herself flush with desire as she experienced his skin and her skin touch from both perspectives at once.
 “Make love to myself,” she breathed.
 “I’ll think about it,” Max acquiesced.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Regarding kt's, Kuchen, and Kannada

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad handed out 400kt of potatoes to rural Iran in a relatively transparent attempt to curry favor with the represented demographics. Supporter of his opponents, in protest of this, did not engage in any sort of flowery or overly sophisticated intellectual argument; they instead emblazoned signs and chanted fervently the simplest thing they could: "Death to potatoes". In much of the Western world, 'death to' whatever seems awfully serious - the sort of shit you say about something you positively hate, but in context it's usually synonymous with the much less threatening term 'down with'.

Sometimes things just get lost in translation, and sometimes the linguistic license we use facilitates that unintentionally; in German, for instance, you can write the sentence Der Mann isst den Kuchen, and that means "the man eats the cake". If you instead wrote Den Kuchen isst der Mann you will not have changed the essential meaning of the sentence even though the word order might, at a glance, suggest otherwise.

A co-worker of mine speaks the regional language of the Karnataka area of India, Kannada, which has an amazing number of possible phonemes and graphemes; basically, you can formulate almost any borrowed word from almost any language in Kannada, which immediately makes me wonder if it isn't easier to disambiguate an anthropophagic bundt or a pogrom of tubercide from superficially similar but far more benign constructs.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bösendorfer Is The New Bupropion

If you know a damaged, depressed, artsy girl, whatever the fuck you do don't put her on antidepressants; give her a piano (lessons and talent are optional) and tell her to dress provocatively. It is presently and shall be for at least another few years a guarantee of a record contract.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Laying Down The Fourth-Dimensional Real-Vector Mack

Minkowski described a special form of geometric space that lent itself easily to Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, being a space defined by four mutually orthoganal vectors (e0, e1, e2, e3) such that −(e0)2 = (e1)2 = (e2)2 = (e3)2 = 1.  It is a pseudo-Euclidian space that also accounts for time as a fourth dimension.

This is all, as you can well imagine, a pain in the ass to anyone who isn't a Lithuanian mathematician, or at the very least mildly engaged in some nonrelative physics now and again; it does, however, conjure a couple of immediate puns and a bit of semantic chicanery here and there, so it is infinitely useful for my regular purposes.

Take for example the concept of the learning curve.  I've always seen that plotted in two dimensions (measure of performance vs. number of attempts), giving no thought to the geometric concept of torsion on a curve that exists in Euclidian space.  It is unfathomable in that model, apparently, that in addition to moving up that curvature from a slow beginning to an accelerated learning state before gently curving back to a plateau, that the line might deviate from true on some Z-axis (like whether or not the learner actually gives a shit about the subject).  This is exactly the kind of tragic, incomplete analogy that occurs when psych majors appropriate slang from physicists.

To continue, let's add a 4th dimension of time to our model; I would suggest that the number of attempts is often interpreted as a timeline, but strictly speaking that isn't true.  Think of it like picking up strangers in a bar; sometimes "Nice shoes..." works on the first chick, and sometimes you end up telling eight people a twenty-minute story about how your dog died and you need to be held.  Number of attempts is in no way synonymous with time invested.

I propose the influence of the Z-axis (everything orthoganal to the learning process) and the number of attemps within a given space both impact the learning curve, and if the activity of learning is assumed to be utterly unrelated to all other activities and the iterations of learning attempts are spaced irregularly or inadequately, the 2-dimensional model doesn't plot anything meaningful.

It's also worth noting that the unrelated fractal known as Minkowski's Curve is also called Minkowski's Sausage, and that somewhere there is undoubtedly a cognitive psych / discrete mathematics double major that will respond well to that veiled reference if you buy them a beer.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Modern Primitive in Flux

There is something mildly perverse about blogging during a power outage.

During my formative years I had the good fortune of experiencing abject poverty, and the amazing fortune of only enduring it briefly; due to the perfect storm of both generic single parent misfortunes plus the very specific effects of a serious car accident on said sole provider, things got a little touch and go for a couple of years. Sometimes people slip through the cracks; usually they never crawl back out again, so I'm grateful for the experience because I wasn't unlucky enough to get trapped in it.

It does, however, fuck with my perspective. I was a cub scout at the time, so spending a winter without heat followed by a spring without power and a summer without air conditioning was essentially just an extended camping trip that didn't involve going anywhere. Making due for food was a little like foraging, so thanks to an imaginative guardian and an early inclination for roughing it we got on just fine for over two years where we didn't have electricity, hot water, or temperature control at the same time at any point. We lived right across the street from a vast tract of unclaimed, unpopulated land, and there were things slower than an eight year old that wound up being fairly tasty upon further inquiry.

And now, I am having difficulty reconciling those memories with my present predicament. I am sitting on my couch blogging in the dark, and my wife is shopping online and watching streaming television because even though the power is out, I have a 3G router combo and a house full of laptops, and somewhere in the back of my brain I am wondering what the fuck to do when all of that shit that I can't recharge in this condition begins to go dark.

What then? Physical books? Stories by candle-light? Retire early?

It occurs to me that there are rabbits in my neighborhood, and I probably have a sharp stick somewhere.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

لدي زوجة

One year has passed, and yet the moment itself seems to occupy the entirety of that timeline. Sure, the rest of life keeps transpiring, with all the ups and downs one would expect, but fundamentally I still feel the same way about my wife as I did the day I said my vows, so in a weird sort of way I'm still in that moment as much as I am in this one. Sometimes kissing her strikes me as a continuation of that first married kiss in addition to being a discrete event unto itself. I suppose that must either be a sign of our enduring, storybook love, or possibly some indicator that I am trapped in an existential paradox and unable to segregate retrospective memories from prospective memories due to my persistent simultaneous existence in two time periods.

I've noticed (wioll haven notice) that settling into married life has just refined the relationship instead of altering it grossly. The same exact irritations occur (willan have occurren) but we have learned to deal with them a little differently (haven on-dealt witha learnfor get the idea). So maybe the essential secret to marital bliss is a combination of framing your experience like a time traveller
(1) and cultivating selective hearing.

(1) With thanks to Douglas Adams, who prepared me for the curious grammar and the general absurdity of life.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Amaranthine Arduousity

When I was a kid, video games were hard, but they were largely formulaic and short (all the better to entice another quarter out of the player). Over time, difficulty waxed and waned with length, story, graphic and sound qualities, and other factors, until the industry grew to expect games with budgets higher than Michael Bay films that took five years to develop. The end result is that once in a while I pick up a fantastic game that only has a single, terrible flaw: the fucker just never ends. I'm not talking about pure sandbox games...those get boring and I quit eventually, maybe to pick them back up again in a few months. I'm talking about 100+ hours of core gameplay, characters who appeal to my emotions, and sidequests upon sidequests upon sidequests of shit to collect, kill, or sleep with.

Fuck the grue; it is dark, and I am very likely to be eaten by the couch.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Private Sub Form_Load()
For i = 1 to 4 Step 1
If happy = true and Knowit = true
While i = 3
End With
With hands.clap
End With
End If
Next i
End Sub

Edited; short code = win, dammit.

Friday, April 24, 2009


As Jackie Boy would say, you never really quit, do you?

I am no longer smoking. I am not presently, nor have I recently been, engaged in smoking. I do not wish to smoke; breathing, as foreign as it once became, is preferable, cheaper, and more enduring a pastime. I have quit before (for years, in fact), and I have resumed smoking before (idiocy /self-destructive nature?). I do not wish to resume smoking ever again. Not at parties. Not at the bar. Not once a year on my birthday. That is the Devil's talk: "Just one little can handle that", he claims (lying little horned fuck).

I have a new secret weapon this time. I am delivering my poison transdermally in the hopes that breaking the "habit" portion first will help me maintain my commitment to stave off the addiction that I am nursing along for a few weeks with my new pal The Patch.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Uncommon Quotations and other Contrivances

Someday I shall publish a counter proposal to Bartlett's and their ilk: a tome of Uncommon Quotations, filled with obscure, highly situational, or wildly inappropriate fare. The whole point of the more pedestrian versions of these collections has always seemed to me to be a mixture of self-propaganda / self-aggrandizement ("Look, everyone! I'm being poignant it comes...") and the insincere attempt of public speakers to resonate with strangers. We tell anecdotes to familiarize ourselves, to break the ice, and to illustrate our own literacy to an audience that in all likelihood doesn't know the difference between a person who is well read as a whole, and a person who has a collection of quotation books and Cliff Notes. I would like to present the exact opposite; I'd like to author a book of quotations and anecdotes designed to baffle, alienate, or offend the audience...split the collection into non-sequitur Zen, discomfiting personal revelations from complete unknowns, and the vilest jokes available.


"Sometimes, when you're not looking, I'm someone else."

This is one of those things you say when people are inebriated or somehow have a tenuous grip on the moment (at a peak of stress, perhaps).


"My neighbor Carl once told me that he could only prepare for the banality of these conferences by masturbating furiously in the bathroom while choking himself with his tie."

Personally revealing, attributed to someone nobody else knows, and the kind of thing that visualizes easily.


"Do you know why the douche was invented? Ever try to teach a fotze to gargle and spit?"

As related to me by a 54 year old German immigrant who was quite possibly the funniest woman I have ever met; it even has a certain old-world charm when uttered by a bespectacled hausfrau from Stuttgart.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cryptic Message from an Old Fool to a New Fool

The world was simpler then, or so the liars claim
Kids today, their elders say, don't understand the cause
Your predecessors all fell victim to the world
While you slept peacefully well, cradled in its claws
And all the sellouts, at the memory of their flaws
Wait for epiphany, absolution, or applause

And the whole world is as fucked up as a hippie with a gun
A mom who killed her kids for love, or a hooker who's a nun
The girl next door, the man upstairs, and rest are on the run
And someday you can pass all of this on again, my son

You'll want to change the world; there's nothing wrong with that
Except the arrogance invariably involved
You'll think you have the whole mess fixed in no time flat
Until you realize some problems just can't be be solved
So rest your laurels on to what you have evolved
It still wasn't you around which everything revolved

And the whole world is as fucked up as a hippie with a gun
A mom who killed her kids for love, or a hooker who's a nun
The girl next door, the man upstairs, and rest are on the run
And someday you can pass all of this on again, my son

Don't listen to or trust a soul, not even me
I'm only rational or lucid now and again
I've spent a lifetime and only lived a moment
Seconds of enlightenment punctuate years of pain
You'll find yourself one day unable to explain
Beyond echoing your father's desperate refrain

That the whole world is as fucked up as a hippie with a gun
A mom who killed her kids for love, or a hooker who's a nun
The girl next door, the man upstairs, and rest are on the run
And someday you can pass all of this on again, my son

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


An appeal to the heavens for divine intervention is nothing to take lightly, but every one I've ever witnessed seemed to be (in the grand scheme of things) a fairly straightforward, self-centered request. "Please don't let this be a tumor" or "please bring my child back" as opposed to "please cure cancer" or "please raise all of the righteous the dead"...and that's being charitable; most of the appeals I've heard personally revolved around not getting caught.
It occurs to me that even tossing about words like omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, certainly a divine authority has priorities. Are we really doing the right thing by asking the being responsible for the movement of the spheres to help us hit lotto, or is that perhaps a distraction from more important matters? The Catholics have a system of intermediaries, but are very plain that your miracle is filtered up through to the Big Guy himself; he isn't delegating so much as he's hiring contractors to implement his designs. He still makes 100% of the decisions, which is perhaps why there are still pedophiles in the church and communists walking the Earth although a significant number of people have prayed for an end to both. It isn't that he's not listening, he just has a lot of shit on his plate. That, and he's ineffable / unfathomable, which makes the whole process damned infuriating because one never knows if something inconvenient is a part of the plan or just something that was de-scoped due to bandwidth problems.
What the world needs are second-stringers; someone who isn't saddled with quite so much. A specialist, if you will. You don't have the architect hauling concrete for the build site, and you don't ask the heart surgeon to put antisceptic and a bandage on a scrape, so why does humanity have the balls to ask the A-List of the divine world to get them out of parking tickets or help you pull a Jedi Mind Trick on the nice police officer and his dog?
For personal matters court then the intercession of unpopular gods, which being burdened with less may attend to you more.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Continuation of Genius is Madness

A direction of thinking is not unlike a direction of travel, in that distance often determines context. If you travel West long enough, you will inevitably arrive East of where you began; by an analogous condition, any line of thought will eventually follow the curve of human experience back to where it began, passing through what was originally a polar opposite position. This is why people who decry murder will murder to prevent it, why people who fear revolution will stage a coup to save the state, and why people who seek to protect the moral certainty of their position will invariably stray into immorality in the pursuit of that defense.

It is by this mechanism that idealists become extremists.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Finite Nature of Doing

The outcome, on a long enough timeline, might be temporary; the event itself is always permanent.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Ghosts For Old Hauntings

The similarity with which crises present themselves throughout the years is astounding.  At some point between November 15th and January 15th, something will randomly fuck with my serenity; it's been that way since I was eight years old.  A winter car accident, the showdown with the old man when I was ten, somebody dies, someone leaves, something breaks...whatever.  Something is going to suck.  Those kinds of things are fucked up enough on their own without being predictable; coinciding with a season that's supposed to be festive is one of those little kicks in the sack that lets you know there is a higher force at work in the universe, and sometimes he's a dick.

Ontological arguments for God aside, I've tried to decipher over the years whether or not these things were truly random, the result of some external machination, or whether perhaps I've somehow brought some of them to bear myself (via expecting the holidays to be fucked, and then subconsciously setting out to tank them because of that expectation).  Certainly more rational than the rather egocentric notion that the Almighty has decided that I have high billing in a retelling of the story of Job. 

In truth, some fall into each category.  This years is purely someone else's seasonal madness made manifest in my holiday, but it still sucks.  I don't blame them particularly; it's the silly season, and I've been there myself.  I'm actually far more pissed off at how it impacted other people involved than over any trouble it caused me,:

To all of humanity, RE: the whole major depression / self-destructive thing -- do your friends and family a favor and put that shit off until March next time.