Don’t Like: Eye Drops AKA My Harrowing Nightmare

April 22, 2009

How freaky is this picture? She’s probably putting lye in his eyeball.

So my eyes have been irritated and red and annoying. So I got eye drops. I’ve never used them before and for good reason… the idea of putting some weird shit on my eyeballs is my harrowing nightmare. Just the act itself is terrifying. Dropping some non-descript solution full of “dextran70” aka “death salt” DIRECTLY ONTO MY EYEBALL is about the scariest thing imaginable. I literally need someone else to do it, not out of fear (I CAN CONQUER ANYTHING!) but because my natural fear makes me so unfathomably bad at dropping it into my eyes, I flounder horribly.

Suuuuuuu-uh-hhhhuuuuuccccks.

Then again they worked almost immediately and I feel 95% better.

So maybe  it’s a draw.

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Love: David Foster Wallace

January 23, 2009

David Foster Wallace is my favorite writer.

I say this with a number of addendum: I discovered DFW criminally late in the proceedings. Why no one turned me onto him in the annals of my education is inexorably beyond me (1). I had heard his name throw around a bit with the popular, yet celebrated modern authors, but sorely lacked any real exposure or criticism. It was not until his recent, sudden, and moderately unexpected suicide in which the articles  about his talents were everywhere that I took any notice. I made a mental note to look into his work and subsequently put one under my stack of books I’m reading on the bedside table.  It was not until I came across a link in a Bill “Sports Guy” Simmons column (2) that I sat there with real honest to goodness DFW text.

It was called “Roger Federer as Religious Experience” I was immediately blown away. In an age of prose full of sweeping grandeur, broad/declarative strokes, snark, irony, and cheating conclusions, here was an honest to god observer. He went on to characterize Federer from the most basic sense, as if the reader has never heard of tennis before.  He supported every declaratory statement; non-fiction as arguement or logic. He approached Federerer from a purely scientific level, analyzing just how astounding his hand-eye coordination skills were on human level.  I went on to devour his non-fiction in a thoroughly rapturous nature: Host a non-judgemental/let-their-actions-speak-louder-than-your-opinion piece on conservative talk radio (and if opinions are drawn, they are logically presented and supported),  Consider the Lobster a piece for gourmet magazine that surprisingly surveys the ethics/hysteria of animal food consumption, and The Weasel Twelve Monkeys and The Shrub a fascinating piece after this recent election where we can look upon the political non-chalance of the late 90s, and the subsequent fall of Mccain, or the post-obama American resurgence. They’re all amazing pieces, full of cunning insight dry sense of humor. I was witnessing the perfect observer.

His essays, meanwhile,  remove a bit of the objectivity and delve into well-reasoned humor and guile.  He tries to convince you Kafka is funny. He commentary on Sept 11 as it unfolds and does so from what will later be redined “middle america” in the Bush era. I was nearly moved to tears by his complete and total evisceration of John Updike. Why? Because I hated Updike for years. Me being rather inarticulate in comparison had failed to really grasp why I felt as such, but I certianly knew he was terribly uninteresting which is odd for a such a good writer dealing with an interesting subject. With DFW, it was all clarified before me;  I was estatitc.

As for his fiction, I find myself currently immersed in Infinite Jest, his stab at the Great American Novel and I’m just as moved by his fiction as I am his non-fiction.

Of course, people can look at his writing and make immediate assumptions: a) too complicated. If “brevity is the soul of wit” he must be a dunce cause DFW can take his time with the best of them. The vast array of footnotes and endnotes are daunting and anybody who likes them must be pretentious! Nothing could be more innaccurate. His use of “notes” are often pitch perfect in their capacity to add depth of commentary. Perhaps we’re so use to reading parentheticals (3) that we consider having to look somewhere else for the added little bit to be a pain in the ass. DFW is also incredibly wordy… as in he uses big words. Nothing is more daunting to American readership because we don’t like when things go over our heads. I know I don’t. But I certianly respect it. I’ve looked up more words in reading DFW than I have ever in my life. And if once again, this is all just a matter of laziness and we don’t like looking up words, then I simply try my best to reason it out. It’s an incredible exercize and one we should do more. Not liking DFW for these reasons is understandable, but in my estimation, a self-lie. There are plenty of reasons not to like a writer. Diffuculty is not acceptible.

Especailly because he’s so damn logical. His work is like mathamatic proofs. Which brings us to the the second to last thing you should know about David Foster Wallace: he is a genuis. As in he got the famous “genuis grant” and has IQ off the fucking charts. As much as “genius” is thrown around now (4) he is definitely one of them. If there was a single writer I could pick who qualifies, it’s him. What’s more than all of that is that he outright inspires me.  He is so dedicated to the legitimacy of his words it makes me less haphazard. He clearly finds a simlar delight in analysis, only he rarely falls into callousness (5). Plus his work helps me with my very shitty punctuation. I had been using semicolons not just wrongly, but pretentiously for years. But the inspiration is the key. Why? I have haven’t been really inspired by a writer since high school (6). I had basically moved to strictly on-topic docu-non-fiction and massive research projects. Now I’m back… And I feel forever indebted to DFW. It’s what informs the superlative “favorite author” in such a short amount of time. His impact is that profound when compared to what has preceeded (7).

The very last thing you should know about DFW is that he killed himself.  It’s just so dreadfully unimportant in the larger scheme. He battled clincal depression for years and for most of his life was on meds. But it does not really reflect on his capacity/legacy/influence/importance as a writer. Sure there are flashes of relevence here and there (8), to deny it would be folly, but there could not be a less important characteristic on display. One could even make an uninformed assumption that his meds helped maintain his even tone. I worry because an artists death often overhangs the nature of their work, often for worse.

But once again, that shouldn’t matter. What matters are the things I have taken away from DFW in such a short amount of time. One thing more than all the others:

This is water. This is water.

David Foster Wallace, you will me more than missed.

Endnotes:

1. Maybe it’s because no one reads.

2. I know.

3. which I use too much… see

4. my favorite overuse of genius being for NFL offensive coordinators*

5. I’m not so lucky.

6. I went my entire collegiate career NOT being inspired by a writer… I was an English minor mind you… yeah… consider it a drought.

7. Unlike my favorite filmmaker, who seems to change yearly/weekly.

8. Specifically, his various comments on suicide(s) over the years.

*which may sound like I don’t think football coaches can be geniuses and I hate it. I love football and do think some coaches are DEFINITE football geniuses. I’m simply commenting on the eagerness of media types to laude that title upon young coordinators without much support or understanding of qualifiers themselves.


Don’t Like: AIDS

October 10, 2008

AIDS is a bad thing. Why? Because when you have AIDS you probably die and you can pretty much only have sex with people who also have AIDS.

Let’s go to wiki:

“Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS or Aids) is a set of symptoms and infections resulting from the damage to the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).[1] This condition progressively reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and leaves individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections and tumors. HIV is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid containing HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, preseminal fluid, and breast milk.[2][3] This transmission can involve anal, vaginal or oral sex, blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding, or other exposure to one of the above bodily fluids.

AIDS is now a pandemic.[4] In 2007, an estimated 33.2 million people lived with the disease worldwide, and it killed an estimated 2.1 million people, including 330,000 children.[5] Over three-quarters of these deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa,[5] retarding economic growth and destroying human capital.[6] Most researchers believe that HIV originated in sub-Saharan Africa during the twentieth century.[7] AIDS was first recognized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1981 and its cause, HIV, identified by American and French scientists in the early 1980s.[8]

Although treatments for AIDS and HIV can slow the course of the disease, there is currently no vaccine or cure. Antiretroviral treatment reduces both the mortality and the morbidity of HIV infection, but these drugs are expensive and routine access to antiretroviral medication is not available in all countries.[9] Due to the difficulty in treating HIV infection, preventing infection is a key aim in controlling the AIDS epidemic, with health organizations promoting safe sex and needle-exchange programmes in attempts to slow the spread of the virus.”

Now. The real problem is in Africa.  Really, it’s a socio-economic, cultural, political and near global disaster… and bush keeps preaching ABSTINENCE. Yeah, that will work. Especially in a continent where people think you can get rid of AIDS just by TAKING A SHOWER AFTER. But surely this is just the uneducated poor people right? NOPE. It was the Ex-Deputy Prime Minsiter of SOUTH AFRICA.

[facepalm]

There’s always the onion’s solution:

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/40976


Don’t Like: John McCain’s Wonderfully Enlightened Approach To Health Care

September 22, 2008

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/19/mccain-on-banking-and-health/

I mean really? I don’t understand this “healthy competition” line that the repubs keep pulling out. That’s not exactly how things work out these days especially when compainies are operating on national levels and the failure of a massive corporation is anything but “healthy.” Can someone please explain this to me? How in their right minds can they keep talking like this?

Especially since a free market economy is based on the tantamount of easy entrance/easy exit, similar quality of “goods”, and no coercion. Yet Republicans treat trans-global corporations just as if they’re any other business, where their collapse is just as meaningless as the fall of the corner store (which is also important, but more culturally). Never mind, that these institutions (ESPECIALLY banking, housing, and health care) have sooooooo many people and other organizations who are directly tied into their success, that the entire system starts collapsing when one goes down. But hey, fuck it! Healthy competition!

It’s ignorance at its most staggering. I’m no market socialist by any means, but just look at all the post-war administrations and the stock market AND misery indexes ALWAYS perform better under democratic leadership. It’s an un-debatable fact.

And yet the Republicans are “good” for the economy. Nope. They’re good for the alpha wolves every ten years or so and encourage top market growth, but when it goes unchecked for 7 years it leads to utter collapse. (The same exact thing happened in Reagan’s 7th year).

It’s absurd. It’s laughable. And yet people keep perpetuating it.

Damn I’m angry right now… sorry.


Don’t Like: Crystal Meth

May 13, 2008

Since drugs seem to be so incredibly popular… here’s some interesting info on the latest drug epedemic that is on the decline: Crystal Meth!

History

Methamphetamine was first synthesized from ephedrine in Japan in 1893 by chemist Nagayoshi Nagai.[3] In 1919, crystallized methamphetamine was synthesized by Akira Ogata via reduction of ephedrine using red phosphorus and iodine. The related compound amphetamine was first synthesized in Germany in 1887 by Lazăr Edeleanu.

World War II

One of the earliest uses of methamphetamine was during World War II when the German military dispensed it under the trade name Pervitin.[4] It was widely distributed across rank and division, from elite forces to tank crews and aircraft personnel. Chocolates dosed with methamphetamine were known as Fliegerschokolade (“flyer’s chocolate”) when given to pilots, or Panzerschokolade (“tanker’s chocolate”) when given to tank crews. From 1942 until his death in 1945, Adolf Hitler was given frequent intravenous injections of methamphetamine by his personal physician, Theodor Morell as a treatment for depression and fatigue. It is possible that it was used to treat Hitler’s speculated Parkinson’s disease, or that his Parkinson-like symptoms which developed from 1940 onwards were related to use of methamphetamine.[5]

Also the drug makes your heart explode. Or as it’s commonly referred to on the internet… asplode!


Don’t Like: Crippling Heroin Addiction

May 9, 2008

Welcome to the world of pissing your pants and walking up in pools of your own vomit.

Risks of Non-Medical Use:

  • For intravenous users of heroin (and any other substance), the use of non-sterile needles and syringes and other related equipment leads to several serious risks:
    • the risk of contracting blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis
    • the risk of contracting bacterial or fungal endocarditis and possibly venous sclerosis
    • abscesses caused by transfer of fungus from the skin of lemons, the acidic juice of which can be added to impure heroin to increase its solubility
  • Poisoning from contaminants added to “cut” or dilute heroin
  • Chronic constipation
  • Addiction and an increasing tolerance.
  • Physical dependence can result from prolonged use of all opiate and opioids, resulting in withdrawal symptoms on cessation of use.
  • Decreased kidney function. (although it is not currently known if this is due to adulterants used in the cut)[20][21][22][23][24]

There’s a whole bunch of other reasons I don’t like it either. Mostly because it’s highly ritualized drug use and not casual.


Don’t Like: Libertarianism

May 6, 2008

Here we go. Politics. Yikes.

Well let me start off by saying this argument is not with libertarians but with the philosophy itself and to my Libertarian friends you’re still swell folks and I love ya. Really I have no beef. Just with the philosophy itself.

Anycrap, onto the issue…

Libertarianism has somehow become the most subtle form of extremism you’ll ever see in the popular American voter base. In theory, it is really nothing more than a lofty philosophical theory about individual interactions. In practice, a Libertarian government would be so unfathomably disastrous for this country. The aforementioned “subtle” aspect stems from the fact that Libertarianism is rooted in a very simple and integral part of country’s origin: the rights of individual liberty. The phrase echoes a lot of important sentiment that I fundamentally believe in: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc. That core value of individual liberty affords the party a lot of leeway in its member’s initial leanings and why should it not? Come on, there’s a kind of inherent patriotism there that’s alluring.

But from that core belief, Libertarianism extrapolates a lot of dangerously outdated/wholly impractical models of thinking that would cripple our country; and what is intended as a vote for liberty becomes an inadvertent vote for anarchy.

More often then not, modern Libertarianism is rooted in issues with taxation. And come on, everybody hates taxes. I hate paying taxes. Everyone I know hates paying taxes. Anyone who doesn’t like watching their money go away hates taxes. But taxes help fund the critical institutions of our society. I like having police officers, and fire stations, and schools, and so on. It’s not like libertarians are AGAINST these institutions. They often recognize the importance and like them as well. But what they don’t recognize is the perpetual budget crisis of these institutions face. They don’t recognize how it is often a simple 1 to 1 between amount of taxes dollars and functionality of the system. It really is that simple.

Yet, many Libertarians think that government funding of these institutions is a waste of their money on a bloated purpose. At least both Republicans and Democrats alike recognize this and the public need for it; even though they might have differing ideas on how they should be run but both understand they do NEED to be run in the first place. Many Libertarians think that all of these institutions should be handled on the state or the local level but that’s impossible. Most of a school’s revenue is local anyway and poor communities have a hell of a time funding schools. Urban school systems are on the verge of collapse. Localization would just add to the dangerous stratification and hurt many, many American Citizens. Like I said, both Democrats and Republicans recognize this and while the disagree on how to fix it, they both recognize the inherent problem of poor-functioning educational, law enforcement, or safety institutions.

The other solution Libertarians offer for not paying taxes is the wholesale privatization of these service institutions. This would be even more disastrous than localizing them. History has proven you can communize private business and economy. It’s fundamentally wrong and just plain doesn’t work. Any communist just needs to take a look at what’s happened in global history to see that it doesn’t work. And just like that we’ve learned you can’t privatize the basic service institutions of any nation. It simply doesn’t work and fails the community. We inherently need a strong central government to run these institutions on the larger non-local level. No matter how often I try to convince Libertarians of this they just don’t believe me.

This brings us to Libertarians as individuals. Analysis shows that most Libertarians are single men, logic-based intelligent, who don’t live in cities (but will sometimes work in them). The more extreme ends of libertarians tend to live in rural areas (and often pro-militia) and are very far away from the systems their taxes pay for. In that regard I can completely understand why they don’t want to pay taxes because it is something that is not a part of their lives. But like I said this is an argument with the philosophy, not the people. While the philosophy might work for these individuals it does not work for the system as a whole. Not by a long shot. Institutions fail miserably under this kind of direction and unchecked privatization is disastrous for the average American (it’s not like the health care industry is a bloated mess… oh wait, it is!). Yet libertarianism argues it is the EXACT OPPOSITE and that their system is better for the whole. And that is my real problem here. Worst of all, the only justification Libertarianism really uses is to inaccurately cite the philosophical rhetoric of personal freedoms our country was founded on.

There’s a philosophy that’s tied up with the taxation issue, and that is the idea of “limited government.” Way back at our inception, the United States was formed on certain ideals that were made to protect from the kind of British authoritarianism they found objectionable (being a colonial enterprise and all). They rejected that kind of dominating central power and in the post-revolution era, our government defined the nation by the “Articles of Confederation.” The articles were really nothing more than a lose affiliation of states rights… and a complete, unmitigated disaster. We were a large country (even then) and therefore had a lot of different regional needs, but a central system is so incredibly necessary. Since we floundered economically, socially, and politically under the articles we reformed the government with a stronger central base under “The Constitution”. It was a significant milestone and inherently responsible for our rise to prominence and eventual realization as an economic power.

Yes, the world today is much different place, but the need for a stable central government is even more critical in our age of Globalization (I’m not talking about military isolationism or “world policing” because that’s a separate issue that deals more with ethics or personal ideals). Libertarianism believes that an unregulated “free” economy is best for the system. BUT SO MANY companies operate on the national and global level that a centralized U.S. government is actually necessary for them to run both effectively and ethically. Haven’t we proven unchecked private business runs contrary to the effectiveness of the system? The entire last century has taught us that corporations cannot be trusted to do what is in the best interest of the collective. Their priority is making money and that’s more than fair. They should be allowed to make plenty of money, ungodly amounts of money even and I believe 100% in a free market economy. But a free market economy doesn’t mean “no rules”. I mean even with our current “regulated economy” corporations can pretty much afford to dump toxic chemicals and stall out the lawsuits for years so it is more cost effective. This is wrong right? I’m not a crazy person but isn’t Libertarianism woefully ignorant of this systemic reality? We need a responsible central government (no matter if it’s liberal or conservative) to enforce the national and international laws already in place. The problem is that enforcing these laws creates red tape. And yes, red tape sucks. Just like taxes suck. NO ONE likes going through red tape, especially small business that are more highly affected in time management. But it is there to help keep in check Big Business? There’s a level of hypocrisy to this too, in that Libertarianism desperately wants a free un-regulated economy, but there is nothing more detrimental to the economic freedoms of the individual than a huge, unwieldy corporation?

Imagine if we operated under local, de-centralized government what laws apply to global corporation like MacDonald’s who have restaurants in every single state? They already take advantage of different local tax laws, but their profits are funneled into a federal designation. Libertarianism argues that most taxes should be de-federalized, and thus depending on where McDonald’s put their “headquarters” they could pay entirely different taxes according to said state. And would all the tax money from that global corporation go just to the said local arena? Of course not. Most Libertarians even say that. But they also don’t offer the solution to that because Libertarianism has no answer for that… at all. Global corporations already take advantage of these kinds of international loopholes, but wildly varying tax codes among states would be disastrous and throw much of it into turmoil.

Yet, libertarians believe our government is a bloated, meaningless, and controlling mess. By “interfering” with American lives they’re ruining the country as it was intended. It’s like Libertarianism is trying to use the patriotic (and purposefully vague) language of The Constitution as a justification for bringing us back to the non-functional level of the Articles of Confederation. It’s insane.

My friend made a perfect point just the other night about the problem with Libertarianism. He stated that many libertarians seem to believe that the world exists only on a simple 1 to 1 interaction level where logic and ethics are completely discernible. It’s a view that’s completely ignorant of history, culture, and systemic reality. It looks only at the “personal freedoms” of an individual and whether the micro-decision is allowable under broad personal freedom. It pays absolutely no attention to the end result, nor any attention to the fact that most things operate outside of the 1:1. A small decision by a man running a company inadvertently affects thousands. It may be within the “right of the individual” but it completely runs detriment to livelihood of thousands of “individuals”. That’s the real crux of this whole thing. Sometimes you really do have to see the system itself as a complete culture.

There is really the key word in all of this: individual. No matter how Libertarianism argues it, it comes down to the advantages of individuals and those individuals are often single men, who don’t like paying taxes, and have absolutely no stake in public institutions, and don’t seem to care about whether or not firefighters get paid/or remain ignorant of it. Libertarians have told me they don’t want to give “half their paycheck to Uncle Sam.” I just smile and nod. They just don’t want to pay taxes and for some reason the removal of these federal institutions will mean that everything will be in a benevolent state of nature and it will just all work out… Right. This isn’t a lefty, knee-jerk reaction on behalf of my party, this is basic analysis of a fatally flawed political philosophy. And the biggest problem with it is that I don’t think Libertarians see the completely dysfunctional side of the equation. They don’t see the inevitable results, just what is in front of them.

Thus, all of this has a purpose. Right now, I’m really asking for a kind of honesty of Libertarianism: that it is really just Objectivism (with an ending result in muted Anarchy). I want Libertarians to admit that they’re voting just for what’s best for them and not spin me some yarn about the rights of individual, the foundations of this country, and how it’s in the best interest of the people. It’s not. It’s your best interests.

And guess what? That’s fine. Really, that’s more than fine. Just be honest about it. There’s a reason we all get a vote and they all count the same. Your vote counts just as much as mine and I’m proud of country for that… But just realize there’s also a reason Libertarians only get 4% of conservative vote at most. Most people in this country are Democrats and Republicans because we use institutions or we recognize their value.

I’m amazed how many young people are becoming attracted to Libertarianism and in particular Ron Paul. He pushed his lower-tax platform and had the allure of being a conservative against the war (when really he just has a history of being a whack-job and sees nothing wrong with bringing guns on airplanes). Or maybe young people liked the idea of lower taxes and not getting hassled by the man for having weed. Maybe they just wanted an alternative, and Libertarianism isn’t that super-hippy liberal stuff and it’s not uptight square-ism and military bent like the Republicans. Those observations may be true folks… but so is this one: Libertarianism is a political disaster, and any government that has ever behaved as such has failed miserably. I would love to show people the kind of anarchy our country would be in with all Libertarian government.

I am a Liberal. I acknowledge the inherent bloat of a Democratic system. I acknowledge the hypocrisy of many democrats being “of the people” when most politicians are rich and self-serving, or “elitist”. I acknowledge the contribution of the democrats to the annoying “thought police state” and their awful infighting is crippling their party.

But I also acknowledge the final results of the system. And that’s what matters… because whether we like it or not, we are the new British empire.