Sunday, February 27, 2011


I think about perception a lot. It's probably just because I'm a self-conscious teenager or whatever, but the point remains the same.

So I think we can all agree that we don't perceive others the same way they perceive themselves, and we aren't perceived by them in the same way that we perceive ourselves (which I think is a rather terrifying thought if it's kept in the front of the mind).
And most, if not all, of us either consciously or subconsciously act differently depending on who we're with. Whether it's because our great-grandmother doesn't want us using that word, or just because Person A uses a given phrase often, so we pick it up when we're around him/her.

(N.B. Person A really truly is a fictional construct. If  at any time while reading this you think Person A is you, the similarity was not intentional.)

I, for instance, am more likely to talk about video games and science when with some people, but will probably talk more about books with others.

And if I'm hanging out with Person A and his/her given phrase, do I become a "different" person? Does Person A change me, or bring out a different "being"? 
I'm inclined to think that our personalities are a lot like quantum wave functions-- there's a certain area where we're likely to be, but every now and then those electrons jump somewhere else. We have the potential to be an awful lot of different things, and different people and different situations bring out different aspects of that potential within us.

What if I'm friends with Person A just because Person A brings out the facets of person-potential that is a good fit for Person A? Does that mean I shouldn't be friends with Person A, because the person I am while around him/her isn't truly me, or does it not matter because when I am interacting with him/her, that really is who I am? (I vote for the latter. It's not so much  a question that I'm actually wondering, but something that simply occurred to me.)

Which one of those perceptions or interpretations of my person-potential is "real"? Which ones are more valid than the others? 

Saturday, February 26, 2011


There's a private school near my house that has a really nice track, so sometimes we go over there to run/walk/play frisbee on their field. Today was one of those days. 
My dad's been into running barefoot lately (although none of us have tough enough feet to do much of it quite yet), so we were walking barefooted around the outer lane, which is the least worn-down.

And we talked about some interesting stuff, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Computing power apparently doubles every 18 months. So the super-computer I could buy with a million dollars in 18 months is twice as good as the one I could buy now.
Eventually, these computers are going to get so incredibly good that they can better themselves without our help. All we need to do is write a program that allows them to write their own software. 
One of the ways to do this is called genetic algorithms, which is basically digital natural selection. The computer makes a whole bunch of little changes, tests them out, picks the ones that worked best, makes changes to them, and so on.
The point at which computers become equal to or better than humans is called the Singularity. Ideally, these computers will apply their self-programming skills to our own DNA, and we will end up theoretically living forever. The biggest proponent of this is a man named Ray Kurzweil, who has done loads of research on the topic and is really, really serious about it. He even has arrangements made to freeze his body if he dies before Singularity gets here.
In late 2009 when I first read and posted about him (the post wasn't very good, so I'm not going to link to it), he was 61. He expects Singularity to occur around 2045.

Now, any of you who have been hanging around here for awhile know that I'm most interested in people. So you know that I'm going to talk about that.

Computers are good at doing what we tell them to do, but we have to tell them in a very logical way. How can we program them to make goals for themselves, to take the initiative, and to be innovative? How can we program them to have feelings? Do we want them to have feelings? 
Even the most objective among us are swayed by our biases and experiences. How could we ever predict what these computers would think or do, if we can't even conceive of such a high level of straight-forwardness? 
Do these computers count as people? Are there such things as souls, and if so, would they have one? At which point does the computer become conscious? Are we conscious, or is it just an illusion?

There's enough in those questions for several books to be written, much less a few quick comments, so I'll stop there.

If computing power continues to double, soon (as in, within a few decades) systems equivalent to IBM's Watson will be in our iPods. Wikipedia will no longer be needed.
If everything my dad's read and told me about is true, life as we know it will quite literally be enormously changed.

So do you guys buy any of it? What do you think will happen?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Abundance of Quotes Part 10

Today's post is brought to you by the number 10, the letter Z, and the food Chocolate Pudding, which I will hopefully be eating within the hour.

Here I am: "philomath: a lover of learning; a scholar." -'s Word of the Day feed

And here you are: "The sincere friends of this world are as ship lights in the stormiest of nights." - Giotto di Bondone

“I do not want to live in a world where we only focus on suck, and never think about awesome.” - Hank Green

"For every action there is an equal and opposite government program." - Bob Wells

 "In the end, the dates on your headstone will not be what matters-- the dash between them will be." - Aly's friend Kimm

"Human Dignity has gleamed only now and then and here and there, in lonely splendor, throughout the ages, a hope of the better men, never an achievement of the majority." - James Thurber

I don't remember if I mentioned it on here, but I had to get an embedded molar pulled today. Everything went fine, but I'm here at home for the rest of the day, which means I get to watch lots of Firefly and Bones on Netflix and read The Cardturner (which is very good so far) and work on music and write and ignore my homework until this evening.
Which makes it a pretty fun day.
The sad thing is, though, I won't be able to play clarinet for another two weeks. :(

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Best Quote I've Posted In Awhile

"I don't believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book." - J.K. Rowling

Band members? Let's incorporate that into a song. You guys work on it, while I finish my lab report for Chemistry, okay? Because that quote is just too good not to steal, whether it be verbatim or just in theme.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


(After reading aloud a Valentine's Day card) "Don't you wish PJ was doing this episode now, girls? You all would have just melted." - Hank Green

We're told that appearances don't matter. It's what's on the inside that counts. Don't judge books by their covers, even if we all know that the literal translation of that usually works rather well if you read the back/inside front. 
But then if we don't take good care of our appearances, those same people tell us that we need to take more pride in how we look, and that people are going to judge us for it. Houses should be clean when people come over, because you want to make a good impression.

Is anyone else receiving mixed messages?

Clearly appearances do matter, even though they shouldn't. 

Physical attraction, of course, is the big one. It affects everyone in some way, except for asexual/aromantic people, I suppose. (KickThePj is a good example of this. I wish I had graphs of his viewer numbers before and after he was on Truth or Fail for the first time.)

Then there's stereotypes, which are worse. If you see someone you find attractive, you will think some variation on "He/She is attractive," and that will be true for you. 
However, when you see someone who fits into a stereotype, there's a huge number of other things that come flooding through your mind, most of which have nothing to do with the facts you know about him or her.

Then there's just plain judging. If you notice someone looking particularly unkempt, you'll wonder. You'll guess. You'll make up stories for the person. You'll invent a character with their face, and treat the person as that character. This one, I think, is the most unavoidable. 
You can find someone attractive, but that doesn't mean you have to act on that attraction.
You can recognize yourself invoking stereotypes, and remind yourself not to use them.
But judging is right on the line between fact and fiction. There's what may or may not be good evidence, but any or all of the proof could be inadvertent, or misperceived. 

So what do we do?

If it's the inside that counts, but the outside that's seen, why not try to make the outside as reflective of the inside as possible? Note: as possible

I guess I'm trying to say that I'm in favor of self-expression. I live in my room. Why shouldn't my room look lived-in?

Monday, February 21, 2011

In Which I Listen Selectively

I'm reading a blog post on Figment. An author is giving writing advice. 

Tip #4 goes out on here to rock4ever95, since the subtitle of his blog is "A place for me to stroke my inflated ego."

"4. Be true to your vision and voice. I believe that being a successful artist in any medium requires a massive ego. If you don’t have one, I have to question the unique or lasting value of your art."

Tip #5, however, I choose to ignore. Clockwork would remain a non-sensical half-formed piece of crap if not for the very specific feedback of my writing group. I am not giving them up without a very big, very bloody fight, and probably not even then. They're incredibly helpful. Plus, I like them.

"I'm not dead yet!"

Then again, I do try to keep them away from first drafts. Even they still have yet to see what NaNoWriMo 2010 spawned.

I would also like to draw attention to #10: "10. Ignore all lists of rules or how to’s for writing fiction."

So there you have it. The rules will help, but you should definitely ignore them. What a worthwhile thing to read.

The Feminism Post

"Mystery makes the heart go bonkers." - Craig Benzine, aka Wheezy Waiter (This quote, while seemingly only humorous, is actually supported by several studies.)

In my last post, I linked to something Aly wrote about feminism, but stated that I didn't have anything to add. Kenny expressed disappointment that the post was about something else, and I replied saying that I should have said I didn't have anything to add at the present time.

Well, now I do.

I was behind on watching YouTube videos, so this afternoon I've been catching up on them. Most of these videos were TED talks.

Now, the majority of the videos I watch have a viewership that is on the whole intelligent, conscientious, and positive. When it comes to TED videos, however, I am literally scared to comment because I know the Giant Squids of Anger will descend and attempt to pick me to pieces, and I just don't feel like dealing with that. It is those sorts of comments I will be dealing with in this post.

The video I was watching before I stopped to write this was "Jacqueline Novogratz: Inspiring a life of immersion," which is about immersing yourself in a cause (such as global poverty) and working great positive change. 

Here are the top voted comments:
"Every woman that talks at TED keeps talking about "Women this, women that".  Inequality was truly real 20-30 years ago. It's been diminishing and it will be gone within the next 10 years as the generations change."
"men and women are not equal. we never will be. that's how nature works. "

And those are actually very tame, considering they're at the top. Just check the comments of any other TED video with a female speaker.

Here are some from the "most recent" list: 
"I'm so cool, bla bla women bla bla women bla bla"
"Notre Dame, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, Taj Mahal
Law, Equality, Freedom
Napoleon, Julius Ceasar, Alexander the Great, Charlemagne
Men have done more than woman did, as napoleon puts it:
Women are nothing but machines for producing children."

So women should shut up and stop complaining because we're equal to men now, but we're also inherently inferior. That makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?
Also, the last line of the final quote translates pretty well to "women are objects for me to have sex with." Yes, feminism is definitely out-dated in 21st Century America, much less in the rest of the world.

Aly's post dealt mainly with eliminating stereotypes surrounding women. This is more about social vs. political equality.

On paper, American (because I'm unfamiliar with other countries--sorry foreign people. Please leave a comment and tell me about your country) women are pretty much equal to men. We have full legal and economic rights. Everything's good. 

But social equality is an entirely different story. One needs only read the comments of a TEDWoman video to see that there is plenty of prejudice against both any woman and any woman who chooses to point out these inequalities. As I said: I don't leave comments on those videos anymore.

The women changed the political rules, but it's falls more (read: "not entirely, but more than political rules") to men like these to change the social issues. It's their attitudes that are the problem, and if they shoot down any woman who tries to reason with them, it's rather difficult for us to make any progress.

"You play like a girl," is still a common insult, isn't it? I recommend that you watch this video, although I think I've already posted it on here.

The majority of men, of course, would never write the kinds of comments I've shared with you. This post isn't about how men are evil. This post is about how there's still room for growth.

Also: of course they're going to talk about women at a conference specifically for women.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Party Like A Rockstar

"If you could only love enough, you could be the most powerful person in the world." - Emmet Fox

Even after spending most of the past 24 hours surrounded by Hannah's (and some of my) friends, I still find it difficult to accept the fact that there are other people who love Dr. Horrible and Doctor Who and wizard rock as much as I do. One of the best birthday parties I've been to, for sure.

Also, I'm now in a band of sorts, the name of which is still pending. The vast majority, if not all, of our current repertoire is based off of books: some of which are popular (Harry Potter & The Hunger Games), and some of which are less so (a couple things by Nick Hornby). Most notably: "In Which Draco and Harry Secretly Want To Make Out" by the Whomping Willows. I have a feeling that it will be permanently stuck in my head for a very long time.

And somehow I was convinced to sing. I don't know how that happened. I didn't intend for it to...but it did, and it turns out that it's rather fun. And according to the people there, I sing better than I claim/think I do. So that's good.

I'm excited.

Off to work on my post about feminism. Yeah, I know I said I didn't have anything to say. I found something. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Humans Are Awesome

Usually when I ask you to do something, I do it politely, or I make it into a joke. This is not one of those times.
Go read this right now. Unless you're going to complain about it, in which case don't bother, because you won't like it, but there you go.

My grandma and I went to have dinner with my aunt, uncle, and cousins (one of whom is nearly 10 and the other of whom is almost 3 months). On the way there, she said something to me. I don't remember what it was. I was in the midst of thinking about something, so I didn't respond. Then I decided I should apologize for not responding. Then I realized that "Sorry I didn't say anything-- I was contemplating the miracle of human consciousness" sounded kind of strange.

But that's what I was thinking about. 
Later, a similar thing happened, only I was thinking about the cosmic radiation background.

But really: human consciousness. How are we "sentient," while animals are not, if we share the vast majority of our DNA with, say, chimps? How are we "conscious," while they are not? If it's just because we're much smarter than they are, what about the really, really dumb humans? Do they count as animals? No.
And how did we become conscious? Did one of our ancestors give birth and suddenly that baby thought "WOW! I HAVE INDEPENDENT THOUGHT!"? I doubt it.

But if this is true, then we really are animals. We're just really, really developed ones so it feels like we have something more. But we're really nothing more than the most complex organisms that we know of. Or maybe we're really nothing less than that.

Some people would find the thought depressing. Aren't we really more than a bunch of instincts and reactions? doesn't look like it. But does that make a difference? We are what we are. We still make art. We still have our brilliant ideas. We still have creativity. We still dream. We still love and are loved and feel pleasure and pain. 
And that, I think, is where the miracle is: somehow we ended up capable of all of this. Even the most complicated of our computers can't do it (yet).

How freaking amazing is that?

Just Some Replies

If you have a habit of subscribing to the comments of posts you've commented on, please let me know so that I won't need to do this in the future.

@Zaphodora That's what I initially typed, and then convinced myself that it was wrong.

@Danny Right now.

@Kenny THERE'S MORE????

Thursday, February 17, 2011

26 Books, 66 Dollars

Our county's public library system has a huge sale once a year. Stuff is super cheap. Some of it is books that no one was checking out, some are in such crappy condition that the libraries just don't want them anymore, and some are over-stocks on things like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The first morning and afternoon of the sale are for school system employees, who get to take the books for free (assuming they're for the libraries). That evening (today) and the next day are $4 per hardback and $2 per paperback. My uncle's taking the day off of work tomorrow to hit the tables. Saturday is $2 per hardback and $1 per paperback, and Sunday is $5 per box (as provided by the sale), and $2 per bag (as provided). It's just a toss-up between whether you want first pick at a slightly higher price, or all of the books no one else wanted for super-cheap.

Some highlights from my picks are a lot of Tamora Pierce novels, Margaret Zimmerman Bradley's Avalon series (although I think two of them were written by her friend after Ms. Bradley died), American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and my favorite Garth Nix book (Lirael).

I was keeping my eye out for Cory Doctorow and Terry Pratchett (the former of which I love and the latter of which I've heard loads of good things about), but had no luck.

Another series I completed my collection of is the Rhapsody quartet (although it has a real name that's not Rhapsody-- that's just the name of the 1st one) by Elizabeth Hayden. If you like fantasy and have the time/inclination to read four fairly large books, I highly recommend it. Although I haven't actually read the latest one yet.

While I'm recommending books, I think a good series to mention would be The Icemark Chronicles by Stuart Hill. A couple people I convinced to try them out got bored, but I was obsessed with it a few years ago. Ishaera would not be what it is without them (although this re-write is considerably less thinly-veiled plagarism than my 6th grade version was). Yes, I read them when I was 11, but I still love them now, so don't let that stop you.

I freaking love getting good books for a low price. It's just that I don't have the shelf space to keep all of them. And I just got new shelves

Art About Art

It's no secret that I am fascinated by adapting work of one art form into another without restriction other than faithfulness to the original work. I suppose that's why I tend to hate movie adaptations of books-- they're too concerned with profit, length, audience, etc.
I'm not asking to use the book itself as a script. I just don't want all of the other factors interfering with the art.

The most common type of adaptation is book to movie. Another popular one (at least in my circles--ha, don't I sound sophisticated) is book/movie/TV to music. 
Those are all well and good, but I don't find them nearly as interesting as the more abstract, difficult ones (like as I briefly mentioned a few posts ago, dancing about architecture). 

A quick note about dancing architecture: I don't mean dancing to music based on architecture. That's still dancing to music. I mean you pick a building that you like, and then you dance it. Silently.

Unfortunately, I'm not a dancer, so I can't try that.
However, I have tried creating prose versions of songs I like. 

My next idea in this vein is to write one of my grandma's quilts once I have time (which means it probably won't ever happen).

Having thought about this a lot recently, I'm amazed at just how many things I consider to be art forms: lighting, graphic design, scrapbooking, quilting, singing, dancing, architecture, painting, acting, writing, speaking (yes), music, drawing, sculpting, interior design, cooking, clothing design, artistic carpentry...
And those are just the things I could think of off the top of my head.

Here's my challenge to you: Pick one thing from the list that you're good at. Then pick one you're not good at. Find something within the latter category that you really, really love, and then interpret it in your medium of choice. Then write a comment about it, or a blog post, or send me pictures, or post a youtube video, or whatever. I want to see what you come up with.

However, somehow I doubt any of you will actually try. If I don't have the time to pursue random projects, why should I assume that any of you do? But it might be fun, and you might agree with me, so I'll let it stand.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Money or Mind?

"Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions." - Edgar Cayce

Yesterday I happened to overhear part of an interesting conversation. I assume that one person had expressed a desire for a job, and the other suggested that he become a waiter.
The jobless one is someone I have known for 4 and a half years now, albeit not terribly well. We've had a lot of classes together, at any rate. 

At the suggestion of taking up waitering, he said "I could never be a waiter--No, you don't understand. I need to think. I need to think all the time."

Now, me and this guy are pretty much total opposites. Opposite political views. Opposite religious views. He's a huge extrovert. I'm a huge introvert. You get the idea.
But that? That has my name written all over it. That is why I shudder inside every time my parents suggest that I work in a fast food restaurant. (I reject that it's snobbish of me-- it's not because I think I'm above that kind of work-- just that I really, really, don't want to do it).

It's interesting that such different people can have such a fundamental similarity.

This is the same guy that I really, really, really, really want to stick in a room with rock4ever95 and see what happens. They're both incredibly similar, I think: just with opposing views. And neither is afraid to talk about them.
That would be a fascinating and entertaining conversation. It's too bad they probably won't ever actually meet in an environment suitable for debate (as in, they could both go to the same showing of my school's spring musical).

Also, is it strange that the best piece of literature I've read today was my dad's Facebook profile? Not to diss the other stuff I read today: it's just that he's a fabulous writer.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"If you need to be reminded to like your romantic're doing it wrong" - John Green

I'm too exhausted from the debate tournament that took place all weekend to provide much interesting insight on that quote, unfortunately.

Yeah, it's Valentine's Day and I'm single, but since all I feel like doing is sleeping, I can't be bothered to care about that right now either. HA.

The tournament was utterly amazing, though, and Duke's campus is gorgeous and so, so cool. We spent most of our time in THE GREAT HALL. I didn't make finals in my event, but I didn't expect to due to the abstract and totally bizarre nature of my piece. I had a fun time doing it, but I'm ready to move on to a new, more sensical bit of literature. I'm thinking Looking for Alaska.

One of our Public Forum (partner debate) teams made it to semi-finals despite one member throwing up half an hour before it started (we're not sure why--we don't think it was nerves), and probably would have made it to finals too if not for a desperate-yet-effective move on their opponents' part regarding one of their sources. It was a valid source, but they didn't have a print-out with them, so they lost. The topic was whether or not Wikileaks is a threat to U.S. national security, and each team has to argue both pro and con over the course of the tournament.

Everyone keeps telling me that I should enter a debate event instead of speech, and I've told them that I was waiting for the right topic. I found my topic.

The Policy Debate (still trying to figure out what that is, but I know that it's also a two-person team thing) topic for the 2011-2012 school year involves space exploration. That's something I'm interested in. 

So there you have it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Civil Unions vs. Gay Marriage

Thoughts on Life is divided into three sections: Poetry, Short Stories, and Non-Fiction.
In the third section (although it's not listed in the Table of Contents for some reason), there is a speech that I wrote last year for my English class. I would like to share it with you.

For more really good articles on the subject, check out here and here.

Civil Unions vs. Gay Marriage: Which is the Better Option?

     “Good morning, Hank. It’s Sunday, June 28, 2009, and I’m angry!” That is how Printz Award winning author of young adult literature and prominent video blogger John Green began his video entitled “Gay is Not an Insult." He then went on to explain that in order to insult someone, you must “paint them with character traits or identities that are bad," and therefore “gay” is not an insult because being gay is not a bad thing, and neither are the two other popular YouTube insults of "nerd" and "virgin" (“Gay”). However, some people disagree with this statement, saying that homosexuality is indeed bad, and that such people can't stay commited to a relationship. They believe the institution of marriage should be reserved for straight couples only, and therefore have created a "separate but equal" institution known as a civil union as a perfectly acceptable alternative for them to be joined in. This commonly held belief is incorrect, as civil unions are not equal to marriage, and gays deserve the right to marriage even if civil unions did give the same benefits.

     The point of whether or not homosexuality is a sin, when it comes to the issue of gay marriage versus civil unions, is completely moot. Even convicted felons are not denied the right of marriage, so the moral status of it has nothing to do with the legal matters of allowing it.

     Some people insist that gay couples can’t uphold the same standards of commitment and legitimacy to the marriage that straight couples can, and use that as an excuse to deny them their right to marriage. This mantra, in addition to being a falsehood, has no grounds in relevancy. These individuals do not take into account the statistically higher rates of illegitimacy present in certain racial populations: marriage is not denied to them either (Sullivan). In fact, lesbian couples have one of the highest commitment rates (Gannon) because of the naturally higher and stable levels of the hormone oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin promotes emotional love and strengthens such bonds between people, while also creating the desire to “nest” and settle down. Men, on the other hand, have very low and tempermental levels of this hormone compared to women and therefore are more likely to break the commitment of marriage (Grundy). This fact, degrading to the cause for equality as it is, is tossed out the window when it is considered that due to their long, draining, and dedicated fight to gain the right of marriage, when the sun dawns on a new day in the history of gay rights, those couples will treat their new option with a respect and seriousness far greater than that given to it by their straight counterparts who take it for granted.

     Now let us explore exactly why civil unions are not an acceptable alternative to marriage. According to Yale Law School, there are 1138 federal protections granted to married couples, but not to spouses joined in a civil union. In addition, employers are not required to give benefits such as insurance to such people, whereas married spouses automatically receive them (Ayres). This shunts unmarried couples joined in a civil union into an unfair and disadvantaged situation. They can legally be kept out of hospital rooms while their spouse is on his or her deathbed, and suffer many other kinds of pain due to this lack of protection. Public officials, such as judges, have the right to refuse to officiate a civil union between people of the same gender, while they are required to marry heterosexual couples if asked (Ayres). This is a gross injustice, as now not only has equality been removed from the marital system, but so has security. There is no garuntee any given official will consent to facilitate, since his personal views may interfere with his decision. Should gay judges be allowed to deny marriage to straight couples because of their views? Furthermore, lesbian and gay couples can only choose to be in a civil union, or settle for nothing at all, while straight couples can choose either (Lambda). This restraint on options begs for discrimination by implying inferiority where none exists.

     Our country’s Declaration of Independence declares that “…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, [and] that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (U.S. Declaration of Ind.). Being martially joined with the person you love certainly falls under “the pursuit of happiness”, as well as liberty. By creating an alternative to anything for a minority (in this case, gays and lesbians), the government violates this constitutional promise of equality.

     Other than strictly legal matters, there are social effects from being in a civil union that are rather undesirable. “Without the word ‘marriage’, other people ‘have to wonder what kind of a relationship it is, or how to refer to it, or how much to respect it’…Those couples lose the respect and dignity they deserve for their commitment to be responsible for each other” (Lambda). Respect is a commodity in the world, and it is one many people fail to give to those who deserve it. Why should gays lose what little they do receive over a meaningless squabble of terminology and religious versus legal definitions?

     Some may say that marriage isn’t at all important, so why bother fighting for equality within it? The answer is simple, and Lambda Legal puts it very nicely: “if access to marriage weren’t a big deal, there would be no effort to restrict it in the first place” (Lambda). Regardless of whether or not homosexuality is “sinful,” people falling under that banner are humans just like the rest of us and deserve equal rights, as promised by our country, ironically known as a “land of equal opportunity”.

     All of you may be thinking something to the tune of "I'm straight: this doesn't affect me. Why should I bother to help?" The same thought once traveled the synapses of my brain. It was then that I realized that that was exactly the sort of thing going through the Germans' brains as they watched Jews march past them to their deaths. It was then that I took my stand. It is estimated that around 10% of the global population is at some level (conscious or unconscious) of homo- or bisexuality, and 1% have some sort of intersex condition (Green “Sex”). This means that the outcome of this battle could have a significant impact on as many as three people in this room right now. Even if you're not one of those potential three, how would you like it if you weren't allowed to religiously or legally be joined to the person you loved? This isn't a personal matter; it's a matter of principle. If we compromise our belief in equality in just one instance, what's to stop us from doing it again and again?

     In conclusion, gays deserve the same rights as straights based on the equality supposedly ensured by U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. All arguments against this are proven worthless by either other groups sharing similar traits yet receiving the same rights as everyone else or by the separation of church and state. Civil unions do not provide a suitable alternative for marriage, due to both legal inequalities and social disadvantages. One day, homosexuality and gay marriage will be taken in stride just like a person’s possession of dyed hair or tattoos—that is, it will be recognized as not the majority, but perfectly normal. Until this day comes, I will continue fight alongside John and Hank Green and the Harry Potter Alliance, as I have been actively doing for the past few months, in favor of marriage for all. After learning about these disgusting acts of discrimination, I hope you will too. In the words of John Green, "Ultimately, gay will never work as an insult because gay is not bad. So you want to call me a gay nerd virgin? That's fine."

Works Cited
Ayres, Ian. “Separate, Unequal: How Civil Unions Fall Short of Marriage”. 2005. 17 Nov. 2009

Gannon, Heather Ann. “Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Allowed.” 2008. 28 Nov. 2009 .

“GAY is NOT an INSULT” (video recording). 29 June 2009. Indianapolis, IN. John Green. 28 Nov. 2009 .

Grundy, Benjamin. “Episode 209—Mysterious Universe.” Mysterious Universe. 31 Oct. 2009. 8 Nov. 2009 .

Lambda Legal. “Civil Unions are not Enough”. 18 Nov. 2009 .

“Sex, Sports, and Caster Semenya” (video recording). 13 Sept. 2009. Indianapolis, IN. John Green. 19 Nov. 2009 .

Sullivan, Andrew. “Marriage or Bust: Civil Unions are not Enough.” 15 Oct. 2008. 18 Nov. 2009 .

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


So the wrock concert tonight had its good points and its bad points (one of the good points being Lauren Fairweather in her entirety), but the best part, I thought, was getting to talk to the other attendees afterwards.
For instance, I met Aly IRL (I can say that and expect you to easily find out who I mean, since the follower list is still so small-- one of the perks of being un-famous), which was simultaneously very weird and very awesome and way less awkward than I would have expected it to be. 
I also got to talk to someone else whose name I thought I remembered but then when I looked her up on Facebook couldn't find...but she goes to the school I almost had to go to before I got my transfer. We talked about The Life of Pi, which she had with her. I need to re-read that book.

Hannah remarked to me that nerds tend to be incredibly friendly, and if we just took over the world, then everything would be better and we'd have world peace.
It occurs to me now that the creators of Google and Facebook sort of have taken over the world...but yes, nerds are incredibly friendly when in a social situation they find comfortable.
So meeting/talking to those people was the best part of the evening for me.

In reference to the "never got into (Nerdfighteria) because (he) didn't want to be part of the John Green cult" comment I happened to overhear- there are actually a fair amount of Nerdfighters who like neither John nor his books. Just because I'm not one of those people doesn't mean they don't exist. It's about decreasing worldsuck and increasing the amount of awesome and being tolerant and helping people and imaging each other complexly. Video-watching and GreenBrother-Idolizing is not by any means required. Being a nerdfighter isn't about what you do-- it's about what you are, if that makes any sense.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Post That's Actually About Writing

“Creating things because you think they’re awesome is always a good thing to do for your future. That is undeniable, because if you think they’re awesome then other people are going to think they’re awesome too… There’s nothing wrong with doing stuff just because it’s awesome. In fact, there’s everything right with doing stuff just because it’s awesome.” - Hank Green

Today I was flipping through the college emails (they're still coming 1-3 per day), and I found one that actually seemed different from the others in a tangible way-- one that made me go "OOH!"
Then I looked at the estimated price per year...and it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
However, there's always scholarships and stuff, and I don't actually have to worry about it for another 1-1.5 years! 
I'm just thinking about it now because, well, my inbox is full of it.

But today I received my first writing-based check (still can't publicly announce what it's for yet, unfortunately-- hopefully I can tell you later this month), which brings my total amount of money made from my writing up to an amount that is more than the six bucks I've made off of Thoughts on Life (now there's a product that's brought in a lot of revenue).
By the way, if you're one of those people-- or if you just borrowed a copy from me-- which pieces did you like the best? I won't pretend that they're my best work, as again, it was just created as a present for my grandma, but I'd still like to hear your Thoughts (That's a pun. I'm funny.)

This check was a one-time thing, though-- more of a commission rather than royalties. 

However, that's still pretty freaking awesome.

The Agent Whose Name I Am Afraid To Mention Out of Fear of Jinxing It still has The Clockwork Experiment...and I may be semi-stalking her on Twitter...

I'll see some of you at the concert tomorrow. **excited** 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Still Got It

“Prodigies can very quickly learn what other people have already figured out; geniuses discover that which no one has ever previously discovered. Prodigies learn; geniuses do.” - John Green, An Abundance of Katherines

Procrastination is a very fine art. Anyone can do it, but only a select few can do it well. One sign of an expert procrastinator is convincing yourself that you're doing something productive and useful. Example: writing a (hopefully) interesting blog post while you should be answering the last question of a book report.

My dad decided to get out his alto saxophone this evening. The last time it was played was over the summer, when my sister was learning so that she could join concert band in the fall (she ended up playing piano in the jazz band instead). He's played less than 10 times that I can remember in my entire life.
I asked him why he was playing, and he said it was because now he can use Garage Band to accompany him, which makes it more fun.

I always hoped thought that it was my mom's clarinet that was the magic good-spouse-attractor.
It turns out that I was wrong. He sounds really good when he's not playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

(Oh, the things that band parents do for their kids.)

So I went upstairs to compliment him, and it turns out that not only is he playing really well, but he's also improv-ing the entire thing. For you non-music/drama people, that means he's making it up as he goes.

Can we say "jealous"? Yes we can.
This is the man who can't sight-read to save his life and takes over a year to learn one piece of piano music, but can still play it near-perfect 30 years after the fact. That doesn't seem analogous to good improv...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Krispey Kreme Challenge 2011

"I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't got the guts to bite people themselves." - August Strindberg

"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." - Elvis Costello
I assume that's meant to imply that people shouldn't write about music. I find dancing about architecture to be a fascinating idea, and it's something I would try if I were a dancer.

"As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it." - Buddy Hackett

"Friendship is Love without his wings!" - Lord Byron

Here's what I did today:

Shortly before 7 a.m., my dad woke me up.
Me: Go awaaaay
Him: Do you want to run today?
Me: Is it raining?
Him: Scattered showers across the state throughout the day.
Me: How cold is it?
Him: 35 degrees.
Me: I'm staying in bed.

That plan lasted for about five minutes, and then I got up anyway. We were sitting in the parking lot next to the starting line at about 8. It was raining. It was cold. I'd created a playlist of songs I was actually willing to listen to so that I wouldn't have to stick my iPod on Shuffle and take it out to skip over stuff every five minutes. The playlist had ~85 songs and was in alphabetical order.
Over the course of the race, I measured my time by where in the alphabet I was. If there was 85 songs, and 26 letters, that was roughly 4 songs per letter, so 16 songs if I had just reached the Es. An average song-length of 3 minutes brought me to 48 minutes at a given time.
There's a lot of assumptions and guessing involved, but it ended up being fairly close to the actual time, based on what the clock said when I reached the finish line.

There weren't as many people dressed up in weird costumes as there was last year, unfortunately. There was a guy in a batman suit, though, and someone else was wearing a T-shirt that read "PUKE." My sisters (who are faster than I am) saw a back of a shirt that read "Are you following me?"

It was so cool seeing all of those thousands of people showing up despite the weather, and running/walking together. Some people were serious and running super hard, and others were just there to dress up and have fun with friends.
What started as 12 college students competing for a dare turned into a huge 7500+ competitor charity event, and I find that to be really inspiring, and a sign of the awesomeness of our community. 

So now my legs are a bit sore, there's 5 boxes of donuts on our table, and I have two lab reports to write.

Adios, amigos.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Quite A Day

“We are almost always wrong, maybe not all the way wrong, but at least a little bit. Even the simplest questions have vast complexities built into them, and understanding that we never fully understand things leads to a much healthier and more effective relationship with the world.” - Hank Green

During 1st period this morning, we were informed that a senior at our school died last night. I didn't know her. I felt bad because while I did, of course, wish that she was healthy and alive, I wasn't truly feeling grief. I've heard several rumors of what exactly happened that differed on the details, but it seems to be fact that she was sick, not murdered or in an accident. 

During 2nd period this morning, our band director told us a story. About 5 years ago, his father died-- during Band Camp, the most grueling, horrible experience most marching band members have ever had to endure: 2 weeks of being outside in 90-100 degree high-humidity weather from dawn until past dusk. He got the call, went to be alone for a bit, and then came back and threw himself into camp. He said that being among his hard-working students who he loves helped him to take his mind off of things. 
He said that at the beginning of class, he was going to let us do whatever we wanted for the entire period. We wouldn't rehearse, and he wouldn't hold the scheduled trombone auditions. Then he decided that things happen, both good and bad, and we needed to keep trying to go on with things.
He said that he cared about all of us as people before caring about us as students, and if we needed to come talk to him, we could. He said that he was proud of us, and that he loved us.
That's when I teared up. As I'm typing this, I'm finally fully crying. He's probably one of my favorite teachers I've ever had, partially because of the actual teaching, but mostly because of things like that. That's what I'm going to be writing my band essay on later this spring.
So we rehearsed and the trombones had auditions.

During 3rd period this afternoon, our principal came on the intercom and said that all 3rd lunch off-campus lunch passes were revoked until further notice, because there had been an "incident," and we weren't allowed off of campus for our own safety. We knew it couldn't be too terrible, because if it was we'd be in lock-down. But it was a bit much, considering that most of us were emotionally shaken as it was.

During 4th period this afternoon, we had class in a different building, because our usual room was being used as a base for all of the counselors and psychologists they had on hand to help students. Our principal came on the intercom again, said that the incident had been at the mall right across the street but everything was fine now, and that he was very proud to be our principal because we had handled ourselves well and supported each other so much today. Which led me and a couple of other people to near-tears again.

So it's been an interesting and emotional day, to say the least. 

Also, my iPod froze. Literally froze, because it was so cold on my walk to my grandma's after school, and it was in my hand instead of in my nice warm pocket. Fortunately, it's working again. (Although I must admit that I was kind of hoping it was broken so that I'd have an excuse to buy an iPod Touch).

And while I have been getting a lot of dumb "we want you to like us" emails from colleges over the past week, one of the Ivies sent me an email about their summer programs for high schoolers.
I really don't want to be thinking about college right now, much less super-expensive-and-prestigious ones, both right now in my life in general, as well as today specifically.

But the Krispey Kreme Challenge is tomorrow, so I get to be shaken, homework-laden, stressed, and sore all weekend. YES.