Thursday, May 29, 2014

To Love Women

The recent case of Elliott Rodgers has sparked a fierce debate on the role society plays in treating misogyny and what hating women means. I won't say by any means that sexism or gender inequality doesn't exist. I know it does. But what bothers me is when people begin to use cases like this to distort politics.

Elliott Rodgers hated women. He was a narcissistic and a chauvinistic pig. I'm not sad he died a virgin as he deserved worse. Now I've seen support coming from both sides. Some say like me that he should have no sympathy. Others are asking what could have prevented this. And there's a rare few who are cheering him on, but I'll ignore them for now. And ultimately, there's is no wrong opinion.

But this case has lead to many now saying that we as a society are encouraging such behavior. Maybe we are, but when you start blaming a Seth Rogen movie because a fat guy gets a hot girlfriend, you've gone too far. To say that the fictional success of an undesirable man lead to a mass murder only proves the killer right: women are creatures of desire to be treated as sex cattle. How ironic that a woman is inadvertently coming to the defense of a misogynist.

There at two sides to every story, and as the listener, is our job to be objective and not use creative interpretation to jump to conclusions. My back story is similar to Rodgers'. I was rejected by women for a long time. I was lonely for much of my life. But that did not drive me to kill. Stop blaming society for the actions of individuals unless you have hard evidence as opposed to conjecture.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Medallion

People who know me know I have a constant article on at all times. I change shirts, pants, underwear, and even, on occasion, my hair. But for what must have been almost half a decade, I have never removed my medallion. This medallion, a cheap tin trinket with the kanji for Tiger that isn't worth the 25¢ I paid for it is probably the most precocious thing I own.

I bought at a toy dispenser you see in restaurants and grocery stores. I'm not sure why I found it so fascinating. Maybe because I was born on the year of the tiger and tiger are one of my favorite animals. Maybe because it was dispensing Dragon trinkets and thus I considered it some sign that I got that instead. And come to think of it, when I first got it, it sat in a bowl in my closet for a few months. But eventually, I put it on. It was, again, of cheap construction, and the clasp mechanism was so annoying, that I eventually just kept wearing it at all times. I wore it in the shower, when I worked, and even when I slept.

And as a result, it's become a part of me. After a year or two, the chain loop fell apart and after some failed attempts at preserving it myself, I took it to a jeweler to properly protect it. This shot it's overall value from 25¢ to $300. That's how important this is to me. Still, I was broke, and so the best I could, after he put it on a frame and new chain, was to have the backing of it lacquered with nail polish.

That must have been eight years ago, and I've been wearing it pretty much ever since. But the years have caught up with me. The lacquer is gone and the symbol is starting to appear on the back. Not a good sign.

Hence, I have done something that fills me with dread. I took off my medallion and now am looking to protect it further. With this, I hope to don my medallion again and wear it with pride for a decade at a time.

To anime fans, I sometimes describe this as my Strawhat, referencing the popular story of One Piece. For the uninitiated, the main character in One Piece wears a simple Straw hat, a gift from a friend that he now protects as his most sacred treasure. I remember also being part of a discussion on a forum where I asked other if they too treasured something that was otherwise worthless. There were some interesting responses.
As of now, I'm looking to repair and seal the damage on my own. But this requires me to take it off for some amount of time. Some people don't notice when I wear it or don't, but until I repair it, I will be feeling quite naked as I walk about in public. It is my hope to fix this as soon as possible.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bigotry Against Bigots is still Bigoted

There's a lot of people being upset by bigotry these days. Facebook pages and websites rising up against intolerance are gaining more followers and hits. And there's a good reason for that: bigotry isn't a good thing. It holds back a society, damages communal harmony, and in general it isn't a nice thing to do.
Now some try to be clever about this and say they are Bigoted against Bigots. It is, or was, cleverto turn the weapon used by intolerance against it. But it's it proper? Does hating people who hate make you any better than them.
To demonstrate, consider this: you meet a person who you quickly learn has a low opinion of African Americans. Most people would be repulsed by this. I'd like to think that most people would simply be wary of this person; watch what they say and avoid a confrontation. But I know people who would actively target said person for ostracism.
But in that case, they'd be ignoring the idea that this person may be a loving parent, a hard worker, and be fully aware that their opinions are not popular.
But is this acceptable simply because they are expressing an opinion that is morally repugnant (we'll ignore for now whether morality exists for since I don't believe is does)? Are we justified in hating the haters because we know what's right? But are we then giving subtle acceptance of such reactions by dismissing it?
In his epic work The Risen Empire, Scott Westerfeld postulated that there was no way to change people's minds; that the only solution was to let old beliefs die and raise a younger generation on new ideals. I endorse such theories. Our best solution is to let the poison run its course, while of course making sure no new poison enters the wounds.
To close out, I'd like to point out that this isn't a "we're better than that" attitude. It's about what's most effective. Baring an epiphany, you can't force a thought into someone's head. Hatred cannot be undone by reason alone.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hypocrisy or Why I Hate Thomas Jefferson

Children's programming can be an odd thing at times, as can stream of consciousness thinking. Below is a rather charming song from an old cartoon called "Histeria!" Aside from being the first Epic Rap Battles of History in... history, it is pretty informative in terms of the inventions of the two founding fathers.
But as I listened to this in may car (Yes, this song was good enough for me to convert it to digital music for my car stereo), an old hatred began to surface. You see, of all the historical figures I know of, Thomas Jefferson is the one I hate more than any other. As I drove and thought, the obvious thought came to mind. "Sean, you mean you hate Thomas Jefferson more than Hitler?" Yes, I do. In fact, I have more good things to say about Hitler than I do about Thomas Jefferson. Yes, I'm serious. Though I do have more negative things to say about Hitler, the balance is still down for T.J.

You see, this all has to do with my greatest transgressions: Hypocrisy. And Thomas Jefferson is one of the most celebrated hypocrites in history. Before I list the crimes of our third president, I want you to understand how much I hate hypocrites. While watching a documentary on the Jones Town Massacre, they got to the part of documentary where the kool-aid was being served. Now, not many people know that a majority of the victims did not drink the poison willingly, so this was not murder in a metaphysical sense but outright murder. And at this revelation, I was disturbed, but was still relatively calm and seated. Then, almost in passing, they mention that Jim Jones, the de facto murderer in this case, did not drink his own poison; He had his guard shoot him in the head.

And at this point, I bolted upright and nearly screamed at my television set. That bastard! You can murder hundreds of people and I'll hate you with a standard level of aggression. But if you can't practice what you preach, you will have my undying scorn.

And this is where Thomas Jefferson comes in. Now, the obvious conclusion is that Thomas Jefferson wrote "All men are created equal" in the Declaration of Independence and owned slaves. That is bad, but it very clearly outlines in the constitution that equality own applied to white men. So he gets a pass on that from a technical standard. But Thomas Jefferson, who is quoted as saying "I cannot live without books", wrote only one book in his life, Notes on the State of Virginia. This book was written as a rebuttal to claims made in Europe that the American soil was somehow stunting the growth of it's people. Jefferson refuted this by saying that White American were unaffected by this effect, but it was devastating to the African brought over as slaves.

The big highlight of his writing was that African Slaves should be ashamed of themselves for procreating because all they do by it is bring more slaves into existence. Not even the Egyptians were that cruel. Not to mention that it gets even better when, after writing these words, he went to France with Sally Hemings (who was 14 at the time) and began to father 6 children with her. So should Thomas Jefferson be ashamed that he brought 6 slaves into existence with an underage girl? Yes, but he probably wasn't.

Hypocrisy is the most deadly of sins a person can commit in my mind. It's something I try hard to avoid in my personal life. Being a liar like Andrew Jackson is bad. But where Jackson told the Native Americans they would get consideration for fighting for the Union and subsequently drove them out in the Trail of Tears. But Jackson never liked the Indians, and he was lying from the get go, which is still detestable, but less so than hypocrisy. And while their are probably bigger hypocrites in history, Jefferson is probably the one most overlooked. And that's why, for all his limited accomplishments, he earns my anger more than any other.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Indebted to Debt

I'm getting close to getting rid of the debt that has plagued me for almost a decade. I have only about $2000 left in Credit Card debt, down from a max of $5000 and it hasn't been this low for almost 5 years. Combining other debts, once they are all paid off, I'll have about $1000 of income that won't be going to pay it off.
And what's weird is that I'm not sure what's going to happen once it is paid off. I have some other debts like a Car loan that will continue, but my payments to that are a minor mark in my balance sheets. So once my mountain of debt is paid off, what will I do?
This whole mess started about 10 years ago when I started to enter the workforce as a part time working student. To this day, I'm not sure why I permitted it to go on, but as my income made minor increases, the amount of items I was expected to pay for made major increases. Fearing a boring and irritating lecture from my parents, I kept this a secret and just let my debt grow. Luckily, even though I was never able to pay it off completely, I never missed a partial payment, and as a result my credit score hasn't suffered for it. And with my current employment, I now make enough money to begin fending it off.
I'm also aware that some people could only wish to be in my position. But after living with this looming monster over my shoulder for a third of my life, I'm not sure what to do without it. I guess I could sink it into savings and investments and it'd be the same thing. But I fear with the lack of this debt, I will begin to act with more abandon.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Apartment - Post #1

On a more personal note for this blog, I've recently leased and moved into a new apartment. Some ups and downs aside, among the bigger problems I face is how to fill the space and where to put all my items. This apartment is huge for the price, so says my friend who helped me move my furniture. Indeed, I find myself all too thrilled by the wide open expanse, but still feel the need to limit it.

 For the first week, most of my books, electronics, and anything else were just sprawled across the floor. And there's still so much to move from the house of my parents. However, a solution has presented itself in an idea I had some time ago: That of using modular mesh cubes to quickly build shelves and pockets for my things. This idea originally was for a convenient and innovative way to house all my trophies, personal mementos from people I care about (none of which can be seen in these photos). This is what I referred to as my "Museum Idea". I'm still interested in using these cubes for that purpose, but for the time being, they serve as emergency shelves that may prove permanent in the near future.
The biggest question that plagues my mind is whether these wire frames can withstand the weight of heavier items. Namely, an HD Television Set that could weight up to 20 lbs. If the mesh can take this pressure, it would open up a very new path for my plans.
Something I've had in mind is to create a more solid platform for my electronics. To the right in the photo, you can see how I've organized my game consoles. My plan then for the left is to create a space for my Laptop, my external hard drives, and link them to a TV with an HDMI Cable. This would create a way for me to have a full range of use for my computer.
I do think I should get a more professional bookcase for my library, especially considering that this is only about an 1/8 of what it looks like at my house. And of course, I'll need more room for my museum when I get a chance to gather my trophies. But the biggest advantage for this is that I can make this as big or as small as I need, and the range of shapes and forms are also vast. If you'll draw your attention to the top left, you'll see I've already begun experimenting with the variance and have made a top opening basket there.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Drinking Lemon Juice

I've always hated the phrase "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade". Subsequently, I've always hated the many variants that spring from the idea of "throw the lemons back". Neither argument makes sense to me. Yes, I understand them. The former is a statement that if something bad happens to you, make it into something good. The latter is a statement of defiance saying to reject the possibility of negative consequences. I understand them, but they don't seem to have a connection to the real world.
"Making lemonade" is a good sentiment, but examining the metaphor in a literal sense brings up a flaw. Namely, you can't make lemonade with just lemons. You need sugar to sweeten it, water to dilute it, ice to cool it, and a pitcher to hold it. Putting this back to realistic terms, if something bad happens to you and you want to "Make Lemonade", you need to expend your on hand resources to make it better. It's called throwing good money after bad, and nine times out of ten, you'll be in a worse place than where you started. And more than likely, the one out of ten times will be you just breaking even.
And "Throwing the Lemons Back" doesn't really work either. Once again, in taking the metaphor literally, we find why it doesn't work. While lemons are renowned for their bitter and sours qualities, they are even more renowned for their health benefits. One critical supply on sailing ships of the 16th century was citrus fruit, with it's massive stash of Vitamin C kept the deadly disease of scurvy away. Hence, throwing the sour fruit back means you're getting rid of perfectly fine and vital food source.
So what am I getting at with this? Well, I'd like to add my own twist to this phrase (and I do apologize if someone else has already aticulated this thought):
When Life Gives You Lemons, Smile and Drink Lemon Juice
In a contextual sense, this means that when bad things happen to you, smile and accept them. It is physically impossible that bad things will happen to you repeatedly, or at least with nothing good coming between them. So when they occur, eat the sour fruits; pucker your lips, curl up your fists, and twist your body in it's reflexive response to such an assault on your tongue. After a few brief moments, the discomfort will subside and you will be all the better for such an experience. Do this enough, and you will eventually build up an immunity to such discomfort, getting all the benefits and none of the pains.
I should know. I actually like the taste of lemons, and I'm thankful for when life decides to give them to me. I'm aware this is a difficult concept to accept. People have a natural aversion to pain and discomfort. But you can't stop pain from coming, nor can you reject life's efforts to inflict it upon you. And since it's not worth it to smother the pain in pleasant comforts, the only thing you can do is learn to accept them.