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Aug. 25th, 2013

A Better Life?

When I was in Japan, a friend of mine told me that I could have a better life there than I could in America. I haven't been able to stop thinking about that.

My whole life, everyone has told me that people go to America to get a better life, not leave it. My father's family left Germany and England to come to the US in the late 1700s/early 1800s. I do not know much about them or their motivations, that was all lost to time. But it's probably a good bet that they came here so that they could make money and have a better future than they could have in their old country. My mother's family, on the other hand, didn't come to the United States from Lithuania until the 1920s (I believe my great-grandfather came over in 1918, and my great-grandmother arrived in either 1920 or 1921, no one really seems to know the exact date). Their reasons for leaving were simple: things kind of sucked in Lithuania at the time. They had Germany on one side, Russia on the other, and they knew that it was only a matter of time before another war broke out. And if another war broke out, they might be directly in the crossfire. So they got on a boat with all their stuff and headed over to America, for that better life.

I know that they thought they had a better life, but to hear my grandmother's stories about what happened when they got to the US? Things kind of sucked here for them, too. They lived in inner-city Chicago during Prohibition. Apparently my great-grandmother knew how to distill alcohol and did that to supplement their income, which was very dangerous. But they kept at it, and in a generation's time they were able to have enough money to send my grandmother, two of her brothers, and one of her sisters to university. The remaining brother and sister did not go to university, but the brother inherited the family business and the sister got a job with the school district, since she spoke English, Lithuanian, Russian, and Spanish, so she could interpret for various parents.

So in a sense, leaving one's home country to go to another for the chance at a better life is part of my heritage. It wouldn't be the first time someone in my family had done so. But at the same time, when I hear about what my ancestors went through to make a better life here in America, I feel kind of guilty for considering it. Almost like I'm betraying them. I never met my great-grandmother's mother, who came with her and who worked so hard to make a better life, and my great-grandmother herself passed away eight years ago. Part of me feels like they wouldn't mind me going elsewhere to make a better life, because that's what they did. But at the same time, after all the trouble they went to to make it to America, maybe they would want me to stay here and try to pull myself up by my bootstraps.

It really doesn't help that I made the mistake of mentioning this to my parents, that after graduation I might emigrate. They... didn't take it too well, especially my mom. “People from all over the world do everything in their power to come to the United States and you want to leave?! What are you thinking? You won't have a support network there, what are you gonna do about that, huh?” But plenty of people move around, even into different countries. Is it really so bad to leave the country you were born in, hoping that you might be able to have a better life? My aunt moved to South Africa after her marriage. Was that something bad for her to do? I don't think so, and if you asked my mother she would probably say the same thing. If Auntie can do it, then why can't I? What makes me different? Is it that I'm going to a country where English isn't the dominant language? Is it the distance? If it's either of those, well, it takes longer to get to South Africa than it does to get to Japan, and Afrikaans and Zulu are also commonly spoken in South Africa, not just English. So that doesn't make sense.

Maybe it just comes down to the fact that my parents don't believe there could be a better economy anywhere else. My parents, my mother especially, really seem to buy into the government's constant refrain of “no, seriously, the economy is getting better! There's going to be lots of jobs! Jobs for everyone! YAY JOBS!” Well, I've been hearing that since I was old enough to really comprehend what's going on in the world, and aside from a few small little growth spurts here and there, the economy hasn't been very good since the dot-com bust when I was very small. No matter what the president and other politicians say, no matter what they want us to believe, the statistics stay the same: no one is getting jobs, not even the college graduates. Oh wait, if you want to work at Wal-Mart, they're hiring. But nowhere else.

I don't want to work at Wal-Mart. I want something better. Maybe it's selfish of me, but if I can have even a hope of a better life, why wouldn't I do that?

After all, it's what my family did back in the 1920s. I'm just carrying on the tradition.

Jul. 29th, 2013

帰りました

As of yesterday, I’m back in the United States. Instead of being relieved to be home, however, I feel a sort of sense of loss.

Maybe it was because I was actually happy for once when I was in Japan. I didn’t wake up every morning full of despair that I was going to have to face another day- dredge myself up out of bed to another day of mind-numbing boredom at work or school or both, only to come home and try to numb the numbness even more by wasting time on the Internet in a vain attempt to stimulate my mind. Maybe it was because the more time I spent in Japan, the more it started to look like I could actually have a future there, a better life. All through elementary through high school, everyone told us that America was the land of the opportunity- people from all over the world came here to have a better life- my ancestors did. But at the same time, I started to feel like I might actually be able to have some sort of life in Japan- I could get a job with a company without a college degree, I could teach English or computer science without a degree, from what I was told.

An acquaintance of mine told me that the job market in Japan is so much better than in America, and they told me that I’d be able to get work. He suggested that I come back to America for a while, then try to apply for immigration permits. And I have to say that the suggestion has merit, and it’s very tempting. I could have a better life. I could actually have a life in general, not just one where I sort of… exist, like what I’ve been doing for the past twenty-one years.

But, it’s futile. I’m going to stay in college in the US, and by the time I manage to graduate the opportunities will probably all be gone. I will likely live out the rest of my life the way I’ve lived it up to this point now.

It frustrates me. I saw, for seven wonderful weeks, that I could have a future, that I could actually be happy somewhere. I haven’t even been back in the US for twenty-four hours, before my parents are getting on my case about graduating from school, doing x, doing y, doing z. It’s enough to drive a person out of their mind.

Finally, I’d like to end with a song I sang at karaoke one night, that sums up my feelings on this matter pretty well. The translation isn’t entirely accurate, but the song is very difficult to properly translate into English, and it is more or less correct, just not the exact words at the right time.

Jul. 18th, 2013

Coming to an End

Ten days from today I'm going back home to the United States. Before I can do that, though, I need to get about ninety billion pounds of stuff from Akita to Tokyo via the Shinkansen. I did it before, I can do it again... although it was not fun the first time and will probably be even less fun this time, now that I've got even more crap to deal with. I also have to take a taxi from the university to the train station, which I've done before. It was expensive. Then I will need to take another taxi from Tokyo Station to the hotel I will be staying at for the two days I have left before I go back home, and that's going to be even MORE expensive, since Narita International Airport is fairly far away from the station.

Now that my time in Japan is coming to an end, I'm sort of struggling with the implications of that. Before this trip, countries that weren't the United States might as well have been the moon, they were that far out of reach. I am twenty-one years old. Until this trip I'd never even gone over the border to Canada or Mexico, let alone gone across the world. Most of my friends have left the country at one point or another- plenty of them were born in a country other than the US. I kind of miss some things about home, like being able to have all of my stuff with me, and sleeping in my own bed without my roommate waking me up at 3:00 AM because her alarm clock malfunctioned. But at the same time, I am kind of sad. If this trip has shown me one thing, it's that traveling internationally is expensive. My savings account is almost cleaned out now, and that's just from trying to do my day-to-day life. It took me a litle over a decade to get that much money saved. Granted, I was very young for the majority of that time, but still- it looks like it will be quite some time before I can even afford to go out of the state I live in, let alone go out of the country again. And if something unexpected happens, where I need to pay a lot of money, I'm basically screwed. It probably doesn't help that I've come to a decision regarding what I'm going to do with regards to my jobs.

I a m fairly sure I'm going to quit one- the lower-paying, longer-hours one.

The last semester showed me something: I cannot work two jobs, go to school full time, and expect to be able to keep my health intact. The illnesses I contracted multiple times throughout the last semester showed me that. It has happened before, but constantly despairing is not good for my health, I've learned that the hard way in the past. Last semester, I was dealing with some serious issues with regards to my classes and jobs. It seemed like no matter what I did I just kept digging myself deeper and deeper. I felt like I was running out of time, like nothing I did was going to make a difference, so what the hell was I doing bothering with college, when I was just going to be stuck working in my miserable job for the rest of my life? I was running out of ways to convince myself that things were not completely hopeless. As it is I'm not entirely sure that it's still not the case, but this trip to Japan has really helped me get away from the other university and helped me put things in perspective. And I don't really like what I've realized. If anything, I've realized that I will probably be miserable for the rest of my life, unless something drastically changes.

Obviously I cannot stay in Japan, but I don't particularly want to go back to the US either. If I could somehow get all my stuff shipped over here, and get the Japanese government to grant me permanent resident status. Maybe I'll be able to get another retail job or something. Of course, this is all wishful thinking- I was born in the US, and I'll likely die in the US. At least I managed to leave at least once in my lifetime, so I can check one thing off my bucket list.

I know I sound really depressed and miserable here, and that's really not what I'm going for. I actually am happy at the moment, just kind of sad that my trip is coming to a close. I don't even really mind being broke, since it's been a good trip. I can only hope I can come back someday, without going bankrupt.

Mar. 19th, 2013

On Objectivity

This particular topic has been on my mind a lot recently, but I wasn't sure how to explain it. After letting this roll around in my head for a while, I think I've finally figured out a way to phrase my point logically and coherently without being any more offensive than normal.

Being able to look at a topic objectively is extremely important when you're trying to discuss it.

I think this is a huge, huge issue with our political system today. When an issue has become so polarized that it's almost impossible to look at it from a distance, or without immediately going into a frothing rage, trying to actually figure out a solution to the problem becomes impossible. Take, for example, the issue of abortion. Now, please bear in mind that these are not necessarily my views on the subject. I'm going to plead the Fifth in that case, because I don't need rabid pro-choicers or angry pro-lifers camping out on my Lawn. Take this as it is supposed to be- a thought exercise.

In the issue of abortion, the two opposing sides are at a complete impasse. On one side, you have the pro-lifers viewing the pro-choicers as murderers. In their minds, you cannot possibly make an argument for abortion that will change their minds, because to them, the procedure equals murder of a baby. There's no way around that fact- abortion doctors, women who get abortions, people who support abortion- they're all murderers or murderer apologists. That is what the man who assassinated the Kansas abortion doctor thought- his defense was even something along the lines of “well, wouldn't YOU shoot Hitler?”

On the other hand, you have the pro-choicers who view the pro-lifers as being virulent misogynists. According to them, the pro-lifers don't actually care about the babies, they just want to torture women and punish them for having sex. In their eyes, it's not possible that the pro-lifers might have reasons beyond “FUCK I HATE WOMEN!” for their beliefs. They will even go so far at times as to deny the potential risks that the abortion procedure carries, even flat-out denying that there is any potential for it to go wrong. All surgery carries inherent risk- even getting a damn tooth pulled out can have detrimental effects on the person whose tooth is being pulled out.

If we were to actually look at this issue logically- the abortion debate- the country would view the evidence with an objective eye. Don't be stupid- abortion is a medical procedure. All medical procedures carry inherent risk. But pregnancy has an inherent risk as well. Now, as to which is inherently more risky, I have no idea, but I do know that certain types of the procedure, and the time-frame in which it is done, can be more problematic. Clearly, a procedure that removes a zygote is going to have a different risk factor than a procedure that removes a third-trimester fetus. That much is just common sense, but because the issue has become so polarized you can't even say that without being accused of... something... by either one of the warring factions here. You'd think something as basic as “different procedures will have different risks” wouldn't be in question, but apparently people, in their desire to cling to ideology like it's a pool noodle, will ignore basic common sense.

Let's use a different analogy. Getting your appendix removed and getting a brain tumor removed are both surgeries. However, the brain tumor removal is inherently more risky because they're operating on the brain. One wrong move and the brain is damaged, which will likely kill the patient. Getting the appendix removed can be dangerous as well, but the margin for error is more forgiving. An abdominal injury, while serious, is less life-threatening than a brain injury, within reason. Again, there's all sorts of different factors that add into this, but looking at it objectively, the brain surgery is more dangerous than the appendix surgery.

Adding complexity to the abortion debate, however, is the strongly-held belief of many people that the fetus is a human being. Some people cannot get past that mental block- by removing the fetus they are killing a human being. For these people there is simply no arguing with the murderers who would do such a thing. And said murderers view the people who hold the opposite view are only in it to torture women as punishment for having sexual intercourse.

But if we step back, it's obvious that the issue isn't so black-and-white. Like everything else in life, there are varying shades of gray. And it's not always as simple as “ZOMFG you have abortion because you don't want to be pregnant anymore!” There are situations where, unfortunately, something goes seriously wrong with the pregnancy. Anencephaly is a situation where the fetus does not properly develop a brain, and assuming it survives to term, it is very unlikely it will live much past birth, and during that time it will probably be in serious pain. In that case, it probably more humane to have abortion. In the case of fetal death, the mother needs to have an abortion if she does not go into miscarriage, because if she does not, she could be subject to tissue necrosis or sepsis, both of which can be life-threatening. There can also be cases where the baby will be fine, but the mother's life is in danger.

On the other hand, there are cases where the baby survives a late-term abortion. Gianna Jessen survived a saline abortion attempt, which left her permanently disabled. There is also the case of the Oldenburg Baby, who also survived a late-term abortion. Unlike Jessen, however, he had been diagnosed with Down syndrome- which was what caused his parents to seek the abortion. However, it is believed that the abortion attempt left him more disabled.

I do not write this article in order to argue for or against abortion, or for anything else. In fact, I could have written it about any number of things, the topic of abortion simply happened to be on my mind recently, as I (unfortunately) was required to participate in a class discussion for one of my courses, and spent about an hour and a half listening the president of the university’s Feminist Student Union having it out with one of my classmates, who is part of the Campus Catholic League. I simply want to impress upon my readers the need for everyone to take a deep breath, take a step back, and think logically. Obviously no one is going to change their minds on any issue based on my stupid-ass rants, but you also shouldn't be making your decisions on the issues based on whoever yells the loudest.

And that's all I'm going to say on the matter for now.

Feb. 11th, 2013

But where's the atheism?

You might not know this, but I sometimes lurk about a bit on Reddit. Not too much, mind you- staying on there too long will cause your faith in humanity to decline extremely rapidly, but today someone linked to this thread on what is allegedly an atheist forum. But when I think “atheist forum” I think Fundies Say The Darndest Things. Not... whatever this mashup of Tumblr-style activism and pseudo-intellectualism that this thing is.

After going through several different topics, I could not find a single one that had anything that was more than tangentially related to atheism. For a website that is called ATHEISM plus, it is woefully short on the atheism.

Now, I'm not an atheist, I'm an agnostic, but even as an agnostic, I can tell you with certainty that atheism/agnosticism isn't about who can yell about being offended the loudest. In the thread I linked up above, the original poster of the thread goes on about if someone starts yelling at you for doing something offensive, you're not allowed to ask why what you said/did was offensive, because it puts the onus on the offended person to explain why they are upset.

Which is how logical, rational people engaged in conversation, or at least that's what I thought.

Look, I'm a pretty nice person and I don't usually purposely go out of my way to offend people. I've got better things to do with my time and I generally have enough respect for my argument partner to not immediately fly off the handle and start cursing people out and shrieking .If I say something that is legitimately offensive (which I have done in the past) and you haven't done anything to provoke me to that point (ie- you haven't been the one who ratcheted up the invective in the first place), let me know and I'll apologize and offer a retraction. I've done it in the past. You can even do it somewhat impolitely. But if you come in here with guns blazing, shrieking about what a horrible offensive person I am, and then you'll refuse to explain what I did or said that was so goddamn bad, then odds are I'm going to laugh at you. But I'm not a mind-reader, and my diction tends to be a bit on the prickly side, especially on certain issues. If, for example, you were reading an article in the Parenting for Sadists series and took offense at my language, I'd need you to clarify. The Pearls really do incite the invective from me- do you object to me calling Michael Pearl a “cactus-fucking dumbfuck” or is it the fact that I called Debi a “child abuse-supporting twat of the highest order?” You'd have to explain. And I'd disagree.

But even if I disagree that what I did was so bad, I'm not going to go out of my way to be a bitch to you- provided that you don't go out of your way to be a bitch to me first. I am willing to have an open dialog. But, as I have mentioned multiple, multiple times here on the Lawn, I don't like extremists. I don't care what sort of extremist- I don't like them, period. Extremism breeds hatred and intolerance, and hatred and intolerance breeds the things that we should be working to stamp out from our world.

There's nothing wrong with mixing your personal ideology with your religious beliefs. Catholic Charities, as you can probably tell, combines their Catholicism with their desire to help the poor. And that's just the one that I can think of off the top of my head. The Humanist movement combines atheism with the desire to help people.

But what I see at Atheism Plus is probably closer to what I've heard sarcastically referred to as the “Chairforce,” a bunch of people who bang on keyboards to rant about the injustice of it all, all day, every day, but ultimately do nothing, except suck up bandwidth and piss off everyone they come into contact with, through their over-zealous preaching. Not too different from the fundamentalists they claim to hate, really.

Jan. 3rd, 2013

2013 Morals. 1813 Content.

On Christmas, my family went to go see Les Miserables in the movie theater. I'd never seen the play myself and I'd never read the book, although I had heard some of the music before. I will say this- that movie is really goddamn depressing, but it's still one of the best films I've ever seen. It makes you think about how society used to be, gives you a history lesson, all with catchy music. It's also a very complicated storyline- to paraphrase someone on the Internet, the movie starts with Wolverine finally going on parole for stealing some bread twenty years prior. He meets Catwoman, who is a prostitute dying of an STD, and he needs to go save her daughter from Borat and Bellatrix Lestrange. There's more singing, everybody gets shot, and the people who don't get shot die in the end. I dunno, it's a silly summary for a very serious movie, but it still made me laugh, because that's basically what my brother said while we were watching it- “hey, is that Catwoman? Why is she a prostitute now?”

Anyway, my brother's commentary is not what I want to talk about today. I kind of hate to start the new year off with such a serious, politicized post. I know it seems like I pick on feminists a lot here, but honestly, I don't have a problem with the movement as a whole. It's just the extremists I don't like, and that goes for anything. I don't like extremists, period.

This article appeared in the Washington Post. In it, the author complains that Les Miserables, the movie, Broadway show, and the book, are antifeminist and offensive. There's a couple of problems with this, for several reasons. The most obvious probably being that this is the year 2013. The book, the source material for the movie and play, was written over a hundred and fifty years ago. Things have drastically changed in the last 150 years. For one thing, they didn't have cars or computers back then, to state an obvious fact. Secondly, here in America, uh, we were kinda in the middle of the Civil War. A war which, among other things, had to do with whether or not it was okay to own other people as slaves. Which, obviously, rational people today agree was abhorrent. A major plot point of the whole story was that the poor people of France were starving to death while the wealthy couldn't give less of a shit. Today, France has a relatively liberal, some might even consider socialist, government. Clearly France today is different from France of 1863.

You cannot apply 2013 morals to something written in a different era. Things were different then, and even things that would have been ground-breakingly progressive back then are considered outdated, closed-minded, and offensive now. Even things from earlier in the 20th century can seem like that- take, for example, the crows in the Disney film Dumbo. Today, they would never have made it past the editing room because they are an offensive portrayal of African-Americans. I remember the first time I saw that movie, at age 16, my reaction was along the lines of “WHAT THE FLYING FUCK IS THIS?!” But my grandmother, who was watching it with me and my young cousin, explained that for the time it was created, those racist crows were actually pretty progressive. Yes, they act like ridiculous, offensive stereotypes. But in the 1940s, when the movie was made, the fact that those crows were the good guys was a step forward. It doesn't make them not racist- no one is denying that those crows are an offensive racial stereotype. But on the time period that that movie was made, they were progressive. Racist, but considering that the civil rights movement didn't happen until the mid-1950s/1960s, they were actually fairly... well, not inoffensive, but at least they were shown to be the “good guys.” Again, that is not to say that they are not racist, but they need to be considered within the context of their time.

The same thing applies to Les Miz. While in our modern context it could be considered sexist. Things sucked for the women in the story. But, at the time the story took place, things kind of sucked for everyone, unless they were rich. Yeah, Fantine was a prostitute. She was a prostitute because she was trying to provide for her daughter, who would have died without her, I fail to see how someone sacrificing themselves for someone that they love can be considered sexist- it's a common theme in lots of storylines. So is the love triangle thing- and it's not always two women loving the same man. Sometimes it's two dudes in love with the same girl, or two guys in love with the same guy/two girls in love with the same girl. Or, like in Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, you have a whole bunch of people in unrequited love with each other and end up with a chain of stalkers. Unrequited love is not necessarily sexist.

The article's writer also talks about how in the book the female characters were more developed. Uh, I'm pretty sure everyone was more developed in the book. I haven't read more than a few chapters yet, but that is a long-ass book. I don't have a hardcopy edition, but the e-book version is nearly half a gigabyte in size. That is a fuckton of text. The movie itself is almost 2.5 hours long. There is simply no way to have the movie include every single little detail of character development that is in the books. You'd have a week-long movie if you did that! A television drama might be better for that, but even then some things would have to be cut out for the sake of timing and expediency. No one really wants to watch hours and hours of nothing really happening.

My point is this: do not try to impose today's moral standards on stories that were written long ago- of course they're going to come up short. We've come a long way in 150 years. And we still have a ways to go, but that's not a reason to start judging art from the past based on our standards that we have today.

Dec. 18th, 2012

Senseless

Like just about everyone else in the world, I'm still in shock at what happened on Friday in Connecticut. I mean, on an intellectual level I grasp what happened, but I'm having trouble parsing what it means. On a subconscious level, I suppose I do get it- I've been unable to sleep well since Friday, and I'm not even connected to anyone who died.

There have been several mass shootings this year, but none of them really hit me as hard as this one did. I guess it's because most of the victims were little kids, around the same age as my niece and nephew. It's bad enough when adults are the ones killed in these random acts of violence, but it seems... not exactly worse, but more shocking, I guess, when the victims are children.

I don't really want to get into too much detail here, because it seems disrespectful, but there has been a lot of discussion, at least in my city, about where we go from here. Some people are calling for repealing of the 2nd Amendment. Others aren't going that far, and are calling for a ban on non-military use of assault weapons. I understand the logic behind this, but the more morbid part of my mind keeps piping up saying that it doesn't matter what they do. Sick fucks will find a way to cause damage no matter what. Earlier on Friday, that same Friday, a man in China went on a stabbing rampage in an elementary school. Scotland has a ban on guns, and Glasgow has a very high rate of stabbings. Evil people will always find a way to bring down destruction. If it's not guns, it daunts me to think of what the next level is- all I know is that it cannot be anything good. And what are we going to do to increase security in schools? Put bullet-proof glass in the windows? Make everyone wear Kevlar vests and flak jackets? Make trying to get into school like going through airport security?

It's clear that something has to be done.

I just don't know what that thing to be done is. I just don't know what will actually work.

And it truly terrifies me.

Nov. 27th, 2012

On Insults

Why does it seem like people have forgotten the purpose of insults?

I mean, the whole point of insults is to be insulting and offensive.

You can cry all you want about how it's so mean and horrible and whatnot, but chances are if you've pissed me off to the point where I've called you one of the most obnoxious, hateful words in the English language, I'm probably just going to laugh and take it as a victory that I've upset you that much.

I mean, I try my best to be a good person. I don't break out the vilest of vile words unless I'm under extreme duress. There have been exactly four times in my life I've dropped the C-bomb to someone's face, and two of those were when I was in situations where my fight-or-flight reflex kicked in. In those situations, I was being confronted by a person who was reacting in an aggressively physical manner to something that I wasn't all that sure I had done to provoke. One was in the middle of a psychotic break. The other was a time where I had simply had enough of being blamed for someone else's incompetence.

If you have pissed me off at some point, odds are I've called you a bitch. Odds are I've directly called you a bitch. I don't much care if you think it's offensive because it refers to a female dog. I know full well that it is offensive. That's why I said it- if you have made me that angry, I don't really care what you think is and is not offensive.

I keep seeing these ridiculously long threads on different forums where people complain about how horrible certain words are, and most of the time those words aren't even that much more offensive than “bitch.” The way I see it, if you can use the word in a movie rated PG, it's lost a lot of its bite. I also think a lot of these people who fight about this sort of thing are just encouraging everyone else to start being as obnoxious as possible whenever they're around. I also find it kind of interesting that these people are more likely to use some... interesting compound swears.

fuckmuffin

douchecanoe

fucktard

Uh... most reasonable people would be quite a bit more offended by those words than they would by “bitch.” Sorry, but that's just the way the world works.

And goddamn, I've written the word “offended” way more than I ever thought I would.

Oct. 5th, 2012

This Is Probably Going To Piss Someone Off...

I honestly don't care what your political beliefs are. I really don't. I don't care if you agree with me, disagree with me, are a Republican or Democrat, whatever. Your personal beliefs are none of my concern, and I would be betraying one of the principles I hold most dear if I did suddenly decide to make a big stink about it. But this election season is turning so fucking ugly, I really dread logging onto certain websites (tumblr, LJ, I'm looking at you), because I know it's just going to be a bunch of infighting.

You can think Mitt Romney is a terrible person.

You can think Obama is a terrible person.

You can even think that people with different views from yourself are terrible people- this isn't 1984 and we don't have thought police. Longcat knows there are plenty of people out there who I think are useless wastes of carbon.

But I also make an effort to get along with people who think differently from me. Because that's what you have to do in the real world, if you want to have a job, if you want to have a social life. If you are at work and you go off on a rant about how all Republicans are evil, or all Democrats hate freedom, unless you're working for a political campaign or a blog, odds are you will be fired. Your coworkers won't want to hear it, your boss won't want to hear it, and anyone else who you might come in contact with during a typical workday (consultants, customers, the IT guy) won't want to hear it.

Also, if you want to have any sort of a social life, you'll need to learn how to fake it. My dad always told me that there are three things you never want to discuss with anyone outside of your immediate social circle: religion, politics, and money. It's really true. Occasionally, you will find yourself in social situations with friends of friends, or acquaintances you don't know all that well, and the best way to make an ass of yourself is to suddenly go off screeching about some controversial topic or another. You don't have to like your friend's friends. You don't have to have the same political views as anyone else. But for crying out loud, at least act like a civilized person. It's one thing if, on the Internet, you act like a chimp flinging poo at anyone who disagrees with you, but if you do it in real life, someone is going to call the cops, or the psychiatric ward, or both, on you.

Now, that's for IRL situations. Let's move onto the Internet.

Do you really think you're going to change anyone's mind to your point of view if you're screaming insults at them and swearing like Gordon Ramsay on meth? I know that if certain people find this article they'll start spamming links about something called the Tone Argument. The Tone Argument is, in a nutshell, that you should not discount someone's argument because they are angry. That's all well and good, and there are certainly things to be angry about. But you will never change anyone's mind by calling them, and I paraphrase here, “rancid cunt coated in cock vomit.” Do you honestly think that's a good way to get anyone to care about your cause? Maybe I'm weird, but if someone screams invective like that at me, that's a really good way for me to lose all interest in what you have to say, and to hope that you get a cactus violently shoved up some orifice. And I'll also think you suck at debating. Like, seriously, you couldn't think of a better way to counter the argument than start acting like a spoilt brat whose toy got taken away?


I'm starting to really resent political activists because of all this stuff. It's like every time I log onto a website or check it from my phone it's like WWIII up in there, and it's draining. I mean, shit son, I'm angry all the time, but this is too much angry even for me.

Kaboom out.

Jul. 25th, 2012

Thoughts on Gun Control

Since the unfortunate incident in Colorado last Friday morning, I've seen a lot of people engaged in debate about gun control. Some people say that this means we need to ban all guns in this country, while others say that if only someone else had a concealed carry permit, they could have taken down James Holmes before he was able to kill anyone. One side says that no civilians should be able to have guns, the other side insists that everyone should be have guns. I've even seen some people claiming that gun ownership should be mandatory for every citizen over the age of 18. The other side insists that a weapon is a tool to kill only, and can never be used for good. No one asked my opinion, but you're going to get it anyway: both sides are extremely ignorant in this situation.

A gun, on its own, is not going to kill anyone. If there is a random gun just lying on a desk, it is not suddenly going to decide “oh hey I'm going to shoot that guy!” It is an inanimate object, it does not have the power to act on its own, there must always be an outside force controlling it. Now, if the gun is loaded and it falls off the desk, it may go off, but again, there was an external force acting on it. For that matter, the gun did not load itself, a person loaded it. It's an old, kind of cheesy saying, but it really is the truth. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. This is true for any kind of weapon. A random sword is not going to suddenly start stabbing people without a person to wield it. Most explosives need some sort of charge to detonate them- C4 can actually burn without exploding, since it needs that charge. More volatile explosives can sometimes cause accidents and detonate unintentionally, but again, those incidents usually come from human error, if someone was smoking near them or they were stored improperly.

Actually, if you want to get really philosophical about it, pretty much anything can kill you at any time. People have died from drinking too much water. Water, as every kindergartener knows, is essential to all life- you wouldn't normally think that something you need to survive could kill you. But if you take in too much liquid at once, your body cannot process it, and it floods your system. Too much of anything can be toxic. Vending machines kill 2 to 3 people every year in the United States. You wouldn't normally think that getting a soda could be fatal, but it does happen. Car crashes happen every day- every time you get in a car, you are courting death. It just does not make sense to ban everything that could possibly kill someone, because then we would have no stuff. I once read a book called Everything is Going to Kill Everybody. It's pretty accurate.

Although people who are pro-gun control like to ignore this sort of thing, people with concealed weapons do save lives. An elderly man in Florida recently stopped an armed robbery in an Internet cafe. While I do not have the time or the motivation to go searching down links for every single instance, in recent memory I remember reading articles about people who have stopped crimes or saved lives by firing their concealed weapons.

However, that said, there are some people on the pro-gun side that are equally as stupid. While it is true that some crimes could be stopped and lives could be saved by someone who had a weapon with them, the movie theater shootings were not one of them. For one thing, movie theaters are dark. Holmes also used tear gas, which would further reduce visibility in the dark movie theater. He was also wearing Kevlar and had an automatic weapon. People were screaming and running around in a panic trying to get away. A random guy with a gun would be more likely to shoot someone they didn't mean to than Holmes in that situation. In fact, it is very likely that someone in the audience did have a concealed weapon, and it is also very good that they did not fire it, because that likely would have led to more death. A random guy with a gun does not have the training or the marksman skills to be able to take down an enemy combatant in that kind of situation, unless they were a Navy SEAL or something.

Honestly? People are using the situation to push a political agenda, and they're all very ignorant about it.

Apr. 13th, 2012

The Monster Within?

Lately, I've been waking in up in the middle of the night, panicked and sweating, from my nightmares. They are horrible dreams, filled with me watching as a person wreaks destruction on everything around them, shattering and burning and annihilating. The one responsible for this destruction is terrifying- all psychotic laughter, sharp teeth, long, claw-like nails, and grayish skin, almost like a zombie or something. It is also 5'9”, female, and around 20 years old. This... this thing that haunts my dreams- it is me. But it's not, at the same time. It's like an evil doppelganger.

I am not sure what triggered these nightmares, but almost every night for the past two months, give or take a few days, I have had basically the same dream. It starts out with my doppelganger coming out of me in some way- usually it's like the chest-bursters scene from Alien but there have been a few times where I have vomited it up. Once this secondary-me is free, it starts to take my place in my daily life. It goes to my job, my classes, runs my errands- and at first, no one notices. By the time anyone realizes that anything is wrong, my evil doppelganger has her teeth tearing into their throat.

Once this thing reveals its true nature, people realize that this thing isn't me, finally, but by then it doesn't matter. It's too late. The pain, rage, despair, fear- it feeds off of it, it makes it stronger. The stronger it gets, the hungrier it becomes, actively seeking out and causing more misery. Multiple times in these dreams, I have seen this not-me destroy things that I actually do care about, things that I would want to protect if I was in my right mind, and my pain only makes it happy.

The overriding emotions I feel in these dreams are greed and fury. The doppelganger wants to possess- if it sees something it likes, it takes it, consequences be damned. Anything that gets in its way, it sees as a threat, and threats must be destroyed.

Normally I wouldn't blog about my dreams. Who cares what I dreamed about? But these have made it so that I dread going to sleep at night. I know my doppelganger is me- it's just the darker parts of my personality that I fight so hard to keep tamped down. But it frees itself while I sleep, and it leaves me to wonder- is the monster inside really locked away? Is it only a matter of time before I succumb in my waking life, and become this creature?

I don't know, and it daunts me.

Apr. 2nd, 2012

A Rather Alarming Realization

You ever have one of those moments when you click through your Internet browsing history and think “Mother of god, what am I even doing with my life?”

Yeah. That happened to me today, when I looked at my most frequently visited websites (these aren't in any particular order)

4chan.
plus4chan.
Youtube
Email.
Tumblr.
InsaneJournal.
Livejournal.
Dreamwidth.
FIMFiction.
FFnet.
AO3.
Online retail (JetPens, Amazon)
Banking stuff (PayPal, bank website)
University Blackboard page.

Outside of most of the online retailers, university crap, and banking... I am the kind of people my parents warned me about. And I'm not sure how that makes me feel. I AM SORRY UNIVERSE!

Dec. 31st, 2011

December 31, 2011

Today is the final day of 2011.

A lot of things happened this year- I moved back home, I got a job and a car, I've started thinking about the future even more... all things considered, it's been an OK year. But still, I can't help but feel this sense of hopelessness about the coming year. Despite all the good that has happened this year, I'm about to enter Year 4 of the Ongoing Existential Crisis, and I'm nowhere near closer to solving it than I was on December 31, 2010. I still have failed to achieve most of the goals I set for myself at this time last year. And I still feel like I do not understand anything about what caused the problems I had last year. Even though I live with my parents again and have a job, I still feel extremely isolated. In some ways, I feel more trapped than I did back when I was living at college, and I'm not really sure why that is- moving back home should have solved that, right? I'm at the point where I'm just about ready to give up.

Usually, around this time, I would make New Year resolutions, despite the fact that I never seem to be able to keep them (heh, me and everyone else on the planet). But this year, I really don't see the point. 2011 wasn't all that much different from 2010, why should 2012 be any different? That sounds depressing, but really, I'm just keepin' it real. At this point it seems futile for me to hope that anything will be different, even as I know that the clock is ticking down for me to keep living my life like this. In two more years my parents intend to move, so if I haven't moved out by that point, I will have to go with them, and lose what little progess I have made to becoming totally independent adult.

I know this all sounds incredibly depressing, even though it's New Year and everyone should be happy- New Year is about the promise and hope that the... well, new year will bring. But all I feel is a sense of crushing despair. I couldn't care less about the parties, and I don't really have the energy to hope that next year will be better. And to top it off, I've contracted the flu or something, and I feel awful. Yay.

But please don't take my depressing ranting as a fact- if you're excited for New Year, then please have a good time tonight, and I hope that your 2012 will be one of the best years ever. I'll toast you with my NyQuil tonight (too sick to have champagne) to having a wonderful New Year.

Oct. 18th, 2011

I just don't get it...

After an argument on another website I like to visit, my eyes were opened to the fact that some people have a serious problem with people from different religions celebrating their own holidays in non-majority of that religion countries, if those holidays happen to fall on a weekday. Um... WTF? was all I was able to say to that. What kind of a depressing person do you have to be to deny people their holidays? I've written about why I think holidays are awesome before, but I guess it needs to be repeated: I fucking love holidays. In fact, if everyone stopped fighting long enough to celebrate holidays together, then the world would be a better, happier place.

And I don't think it needs to be said that it takes a special kind of douchebaggery to force kids to go to school on their important holidays. Forcing Muslim kids to go to school on Eid is like canceling Christmas for Christian kids. Forcing Jewish kids to go to school on the High Holidays is equally uncool. I thought this was universally recognized- you don't fuck with holidays. You especially do not fuck with the presents. Denying people the opportunity to get and give presents is a pretty stupid idea. You've all seen how people get on Black Friday. Multiply that by a thousand and that's what it would be like if tomorrow the government decided that no one got to celebrate any more holidays.

The opposing side likes to go on about how people should adapt to the culture that they've chosen to live in. I can't speak for the rest of the world, but at least here in America, a lot, if not all, of our traditions were imported, considering that the nation is made up of immigrants. Christmas trees? Originally a German thing. Halloween? If I remember correctly, it was an Irish tradition. Christmas stockings? An adaptation of a European tradition where children would leave their shoes by the door for Father Christmas to put treats in. Singing Auld Lang Syne on New Year's? Scottish. The point I'm trying to make here is that society is adaptable when it comes to holidays, and it has been throughout human history. The early Christian church absorbed the festivals of other religions, even, so it's not like adapting to celebrate holidays has no historical precedent.

I just seriously do not understand this anti-holiday mentality.

Jul. 19th, 2011

Death of a Whistleblower

At first, I didn't pay too much attention to the News of the World mobile phone hacking scandal. I'm not British and don't have access to the paper (which The Douglas informs me is pretty much a trashy tabloid, along the lines of the National Enquirer here in America). I learned that they hacked the cell phone of a murdered girl using technology that only law enforcement professionals are supposed to have, but since I wasn't affected by it, I just wrote it off as another media scandal, like the New York Times plagarism thing a few years ago. Then, it became apparent that they'd tampered with the evidence that on that same phone, which set back investigations. And then, it was revealed that News Corp (the same outfit that runs The Sun and News of the World, but also the Wall Street Journal and Fox News) has done this before, here in America. They hacked the phones of the relatives of people who died on 9/11.

The stories kept getting more and more fucked up. How the hell did News Corp. even have the technology in the first place? The methods they used weren't just run-of-the-mill hacking techniques- they used the same sorts of techniques and technologies used by law enforcement groups like Scotland Yard and the FBI, stuff that isn't available to John Q. Public.

And then, this morening, I checked CNN to see that Sean Hoare, the whistleblower who brought attention to the hacking scandal, was found dead yesterday. The media is reporting that this death is unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Not thought to be suspicious? Yeah, and I'm really Queen Elizabeth. Given the whole Wikileaks fiasco, with Bradley Manning in a military prison and Julian Assange not allowed to leave Ellingham Hall, it's already quite clear that the Powers that Be do not like whistleblowers. Whether those Powers that Be be the government or corporations, they don't like having their dirty drawers flown from the metaphorical flagpole, so to speak. I'm not saying that this guy was assassinated, but it does bring up worrying concerns for the safety of whistleblowers.

Who's next? It seems like people who want to expose wrongdoing are ending up dead or locked up left and right. And it makes me wonder- Watergate happened some 15-20 years before I was born (too lazy to do the actual math right now). Where would we be today if we had treated Deep Throat the same way we're treating people who expose corruption now?

Jun. 6th, 2011

Childhood, books, and... thinly-veiled politics?

Books can make you dumb, at least according to this article. This woman apparently took her cues on how to become an adult from a bunch of books like Gone With The Wind, Wuthering Heights, and The Little Mermaid, and resents the fact that she got such a skewed idea of what it meant to be an adult (and ultimately, a woman) from these stories. And reading it got me to thinking- I consumed a LOT of media as a child, books, video games, television programs, and movies, but I didn't take any cues on how to become adult from them.

OK, OK, like every other kid from my generation, I really wanted my Hogwarts letter. But I was never under any delusion that I was actually a witch. When I was young, I was told the story of Eglė the Serpent Queen, but I never thought that I was going to be taken to the sea by a magical snake prince and marry him (and considering how that story ends, it's a damn good thing that wasn't a true story). When I was in preschool I wanted to go and solve mysteries like the characters in Scooby-Doo. When I was in second grade, I thought it would be awesome to be a Pokemon trainer, and when I was in fourth grade I wanted to be a Sailor Scout. It might have crossed my mind a few times that my stuff might come to life when I wasn't around, like in Toy Story. I totally wanted to go to the school in Regarding the Fountain and its sequels. When I was dealing with some really difficult times in my childhood (and up until about a year ago), The Magic Faraway Tree was always there for me. But you know what? I never thought that the stories I read and watched were real. Because my parents taught me from a young age that what you read in fiction and see on the television isn't real.

When the Roadrunner drives the Coyote off a cliff, it's fake. When Scooby and co. take down a fake monster, that's definitely fake. Hogwarts, sadly, is fake too. The Magic Faraway Tree doesn't really exist. You cannot go outside and catch Pokemon.

And when it comes to taking role models from literature, which is also part of what this article is about, I have to be honest with you- growing up I identiied with several characters, but honestly? It didn't matter to me whether or not they were female or not. Yeah, I wanted to be like Velma from Scooby-Doo, but I also wanted to follow in Harry Potter's footsteps. When I got a little older, and dealt with some serious issues that affected me, it really helped to think “what would Neo do?” But I also found Mulan inspiring.

The thing is, this article could have been really good if it hadn't come across to me as a way to berate people who didn't feel the same way about the books that she did, or the same way about the characters. Personally, I absolutely despised Wuthering Heights and thought Cathy was an insufferable bitch who I'd love to punch in the face if I ever met her IRL. Another book that was highly touted (but not mentioned in this article) was The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. The best part of that book was when Edna drowned herself in the ocean, and I said so in my essay exam on that book. If those are the kinds of things I'm supposed to prize over the other things that had a larger effect on my life, like the movies, video games, and television shows that I liked, then I'm sorry, but I'll take Pokemon, The Matrix, and The Magic Faraway Tree any day, and I don't much care whether or not that's the “politically correct” choice. It actually is rather disturbing, that we're now trying to assign people's sense of self-worth to the characters they identified with as children. Should I be worried that I'm going to start thinking I'm a Pokemon or something?

Another thing- when I have Kaboomlets, they're going to get the same stuff I got growing up- I'm going to buy them Regarding the Fountain and its sequels, The Magic Faraway Tree, Harry Potter, Pokemon, my favorite Disney movies, Scooby-Doo and Looney Tunes. And if I can manage it, The Penguins of Madagascar. Of course, they'll be exposed to more “classiC” literature as well, but I'm not going to say that's the ONLY media they can consume.

In conclusion, don't feel bad if your choices of entertainment growing up don't feel bad. You take inspiration from whatever source you want. And if you want to pretend to be Catherine Earnshaw, that's great. I'm going to be over here pretending to go on adventures with my Pikachu.

May. 20th, 2011

Support Damon Fowler

*Sigh* Today I Was going to do a fun write-up of my day (I spent most of the day trying to get to a shopping district in the middle of the mess of construction that is typical of the area that my parents live in and almost running over a bunch of orange cones randomly strewn across the highway for no reason, and ending up going in circles for an hour), but then this story was brought to my attention by an online friend, and since this has a lot more far-reaching consequences than me driving around in circles for an hour, this gets my attention today.

Damon Fowler was supposed to graduate from high school in Louisiana today. I haven't heard whether or not that happened, although I really hope that it went off without a hitch, and that he was safe today. See, Damon's school usually did a sectarian (Christian) prayer during the graduation, something which in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution (given that he attends a public school), and he decided to contact his superintendent threatening to contact the ACLU if they continued with this tradition. In his words, “My reasoning behind it is that it’s emotionally stressing on anyone who isn’t Christian. No one else wanted to stand up for their constitutional right of having freedom of and FROM religion. I was also hoping to encourage other atheists to come out and be heard. I’m one of maybe three atheists in this town that I currently know of. One of the others is afraid to come out of the (atheist) closet.” And, the school district grudgingly agreed. Mainly because they didn't want to end up paying for Damon's college education. Of course, though, word got out that he was the one who got the district to put a stop to the prayer. And damn, was the entire town butthurt.

Among the ranks of those with hurt butts was Damon's English teacher, Mitzi Quinn. Not only is her grasp of standard English grammar... well, sketchy, especially for an English teacher (and trust me, if I can pick up on your bad grammar, it's pretty bad), she has the temerity to go out and publicly trash a student, saying, ““And what’s even more sad is this is a student who really hasn’t contributed anything to graduation or to their classmates.”

Now, uh, I'm sorry, but that's just incredibly unprofessional. I know that teachers talk smack about their students when they think no one is listening (I used to work for my former school district, and teachers like to gossip, just like everyone else). They talk about how Bobby sucks at math, and how Susie is really annoying, and how Jane and George won't stop making out in the hallway, and how Sam is getting expelled next week for stealing Tom's iPod. Just like anyone else, teachers like to gossip. They also talk about how Lily is a little bitch, and how they'd really like to kick Jesse for always talking back. While that might not be the most professional way of handling it, it's generally accepted that what gets said in the staff lounge stays in the staff lounge. They're not barging all over the metro area yelling to anyone who will listen their complaints about their students. At least, not if they don't want to get fired.

But Mitzi Quinn? She told her complaints to the town newspaper, basically calling this student a lazy heathen bastard, only in not so many words. Since the climate in town is already very hostile to Damon, this is just adding fuel to the fire.

Sadly, even Damon's mother refuses to speak to him for this transgression of wanting his school to follow the Constitution. And just to spite him, one of his classmates delivered a very long, rambling Christian prayer to the cheers of the entire auditorium. How very dare he! It's not like the First Amendment is the law all over the country or anything... oh wait. Oops. It is.

I graduated from high school last year. My school's chosen speech-giver planned to go to Liberty University to become a Baptist minister. You'd think he of all people would be liable to throw a bunch of religious references in his speech, but he didn't. The most he did was thank God in his list of people who'd helped him become what he was today, along with his mom, dad, and favorite history teacher. Of course, I went to school in an urban area, surrounded by students of many different faiths. Trying to include a sectarian prayer would likely result in a mass walkout by Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, non-religious, and pagan students, of which I knew several from each group. It just wouldn't have been stood for.

Unfortunately, though, when you go to school in an apparent hivemind, you don't get Constitutional rights. Screw that! I'm sorry, but I thought this was America, not Saudi Arabia. You can't go around forcing everyone to pray to the same god that you do. I'm an atheistic-leaning agnostic, but I have many friends of many different faiths. They respect my beliefs, and I respect theirs. It works pretty well- I get to go to a lot of holiday parties, and everyone generally gets along really well (well, except for the one time someone dropped their cell phone in the chip dip, that was awkward and the phone owner got irrationally angry). But all of those times? They're at private residences, and having religious ceremonies on private property is perfectly acceptable. But you can't do it on public property, it's tantamount to the government enforcing a religion on its people.

I wonder if everyone who was so hot to trot on this prayer would be cool with it if Muslim students decided to pray an Islamic prayer in front of everyone? Or if Buddhist students decided to pray aloud? What about if Jewish students brought their rabbi in to pray? Somehow I don't think that would go over as well. What if I wanted to pray to the Underpants Gnome? Somehow I don't think they would appreciate that very much either.

Either way, I wish the best to Damon, and hope that he does contact the ACLU. I hope that Mitzi Quinn is fired, for being an unprofessional bitch. And I hope that Damon stays safe for his last few days in his hometown.

Friendly Atheist's coverage
WWJTD's coverage
Bastrop Enterprise (the town newspaper's) article, containing Mitzi Quinn's statements

Apr. 15th, 2011

On Craziness. Again.

So I saw a thread on another website today that basically boiled down to a neurotypical person complaining about how unfair it was to the mentally ill that words like “crazy” are in our common vernacular. That saying “that's crazy!” is equivalent to using a racial slur. Or that saying, “You're nuts!” in response to your friend doing something outlandish is like saying “that's so gay” as an insult.

I already blogged about this issue. But it bears repeating- even if you call me crazy, or a lunatic, or nuts, it's not going to offend me. I might be a bit more offended if you refer to something with the name of an actual mental ilness (example- calling the weather “bipolar” when it seems to switch from sunny to cloudy to back to sunny to rainy). But if you call me crazy? I'll probably agree with you. Or, if you say “OMG that's nuts!” I'm not going to get angry with you. Why would I? I might have a lot of rage, but if I raged at everything like that, I would run out of rage really fast. I'd be exhausted! And like I mentioned in the other article, it actually offends me a lot more if you go out of your way to not say things like that in front of me- it gives me the impression that you think I'm going to attack you for saying something that might offend me. And that's a lot more offensive to me than you saying “That professor is insane! How are we going to get all this work done?”

That said, again, I reiterate, not everyone feels this way. For some people who are mentally ill, this kind of thing is legitimately hurtful to them, and if they say as much, then you'd better STFU. Because if you are purposely obnoxious towards your friends, then you're a douchebag. If they tell you “That's not OK, dont say it,” then don't say it! It's not rocket science. If you're not sure, it's probably best not to say anything, but hey, with words like “crazy” and “nuts” in the common vernacular, sometimes it's just unavoidable and it pops out. If your friend gets upset by it, then stop using the term.

But seriously, if you're neurotypical? Don't speak for me. I don't want you getting butthurt on my behalf. I can get butthurt all by myself if the need arises. Don't tell me what should and should not offend me, I'm not an idiot. I can figure out what's upsetting all on my own. Just because I'm crazy doesn't mean I'm stupid. I'm a grown-ass adult and I think I know what is offensive to me. Since, you know, it's my mind and everything.

Honestly, I can't believe this needs to be said. If someone asks you to not use a certain term around them, then don't do it. But, by the same token, don't try to be the thought police. I can police my own thoughts, thankyouverymuch. And for the love of all that is good in the world, don't treat your non-neurotypical friends like children. We're people too, and we have our own voices.

That's not to say that if some asshat can't take a hint and your friend has asked them politely several times to stop calling them insane, then feel free to let it loose on them.

Hopefully this makes some kind of sense... I'm just tired of people trying to speak for me that end up offending me even more than the thing they're trying to defend me against.

Mar. 7th, 2011

Call Me Crazy

No, seriously, do it. Call me crazy. Call me insane. Call me bonkers. Call me unbalanced. Call me unhinged. Call me mental. Call me a lunatic. I really don't give a fuck, because it's true.

For those of you who don't know, I am a depressed paranoiac with NVLD. A hundred years ago they would have locked me up in a “hospital” where people would pay good money to come in and look at the crazy people. They'd poke us with sticks to see if we'd react and try to attack them. They might try zapping me with electricity to try to cure me, or they might try to disconnect things in my brain to calm me down. As you can probably see, mental health treatment has progressed almost exponentially since the early 1900s. But a stigma remains- us crazy people aren't exactly looked upon as normal people. Once, when I confided in someone that I had paranoid personality disorder, she asked me, “Are you going to shoot up the campus?”

Sometimes I like to fuck with people like that and grin at them- “Yes, of course I'm going to go on the rampage and shoot at random people. I also like to microwave puppies and eat babies in my spare time.” Other times, when I'm also feeling mischievous, I'll say things like, “No, I'm not dangerous. Unless you're a burrito. Then you might want to run because I WILL EAT YOU!” Which generally tends to reinforce the idea of “Kaboom is completely nuckin' futs,” but whatever- if I'm in the mood to do something like that, chances are I don't really care if you think I can pass for neurotypical or whatever. Most of the time, especially if I don't know you very well/actually like you, I'll try to be a bit more polite about it, explaining that no, just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean I stockpile guns and ammo in my basement and buy gigantic things of toilet paper and Twinkies whenever I go to the store. Just because I'm hypersensitive to light, sound, and temperature doesn't mean I have to live in a plastic bubble like in that stupid movie (although sometimes I wish I did, because that would be totally awesome and I could roll my house around like a giant hamster ball). I try to explain to people that I'm really not all that different from them- yeah, there are certain situations that are harder for me to deal with than it would be for them. But it doesn't mean I'm some psychopath. Seriously, you're not that important that I'd waste my time trying to off you.

But you want to know what makes me feel even more marginalized than people who automatically assume I'm going to shoot up my school and then cut their faces off? It's people who go out of their way to make sure I don't feel “upset” by their language. There are people I know, both IRL and online, who go out of their way to make sure they NEVER, EVER say anything that has connotations of mental illness around me. One person I know IRL always makes sure to tiptoe around the issue when I'm around, and not too long ago, we were all hanging out, and he said something along the lines of “(Professor) is a fucking lunatic, I don't know how I'm supposed to get all that shit done by Monday.” As soon as he realized I was within hearing distance, sitting on the sofa, he immediately sort of crumpled in on himself and started apologizing like he was about to be killed for some offense. “I'm so sorry, Kaboom! I didn't mean it that way, I swear!” He's a great guy and a good friend, but the apologetic reaction was a lot worse to me than the original comment. It just made me feel like I'm some kind of ticking time bomb that's going to go fucking berserk and attack anyone who says anything that might offend me, and to be perfectly honest with you, it feels like shit. I appreciate that there are people who are concerned about my feelings, but seriously, if I was going to get butthurt over a comment like that, I'd be butthurt nearly 24/7.

Honestly, I really don't care if you want to call me crazy, insane, psychotic, a lunatic, mental, a total headcase, or anything else you can think of. It's a lot more offensive to me if you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around me because you think I'm going to flip the fuck out of if someone says the word “insane” around me.

But please, just because I'm OK with “crazy people” jokes doesn't mean that everyone is. For some people with a mental illness, this kind of thing is very painful for them. While a lot of the people I know with the same issues as me feel pretty much the same as I do, I don't know every single person, and many people may feel very differently about it. But seriously, I encourage you to talk to your friends about it. We don't bite, really, and I can guarantee you that just about everyone who could be considered “crazy” would love the chance to be able to explain things to their friends, that sometimes their jokes do hurt them, or that the constant tiptoeing around the issue is a lot more painful to them than any snarky comment could ever be.

Feb. 5th, 2011

On Revenge

I've been saying for nearly two months now that I was going to do a post on Julian Assange and the mess surrounding him. But there have been several things that have stopped me- one being time constraints imposed by university. Another has been the fact that this case has brought up some painful memories for me and it's very hard for me to separate my inherent paranoia from the facts of the case. Another thing? I don't want to get jumped by misandrists. In some communities, even saying something vaguely supportive of Assange (and by “supportive” I mean anything that's not “HE'S A FILTHY DIRTY RAPIST AND DESERVES TO BE CASTRATED!”) will get you accused of hating all women everywhere and not caring about victims of sexual assault. Which is bullshit, since last time I checked, I don't hate myself and haven't forgotten about the time I was assaulted.

But this post isn't about me. This post isn't even exactly about Julian Assange. No, what this post focuses on is revenge. While I believe that Mr. Assange is innocent, that's not exactly what this particular post is about. Anna Ardin, one of the accusers, is known to be a hardcore feminist. Normally, this wouldn't be much of an issue. So she's a feminist. Whatever, lots of people are. BUT- and this is a big BUT- she apparently is also hell-bent on revenge on men, even writing up a blog post on how to take revenge on people using the legal system. This blog post has since been removed from her blog, but many people have backed it up and translated it into English or whatever other language they speak so that the rest of the world can read what she said. There is a Swedish/English version available here at Progressive Alaska.

It would be incredibly hypocritical of me to say that you can never want revenge on anyone. I spent about half my childhood plotting my elaborate revenge on people who I felt had wronged me. Vengeance has been a part of human history, probably since the caveman days. As long as there are people, they will piss each other off and they will attempt to get back at each other. It's perfectly normal. If you were to tell me that you had never hoped to see a person get what was coming to them, then I'd say you were a liar.

BUT- and again, this is a big BUT- there is a difference between revenge, and becoming even more despicable than the person you wish vengeance on. If someone killed your family, wanting to kill that person to avenge their deaths, while not exactly moral by our standards today, is a pretty normal reaction and many people would not blame you for it. Killing everyone in that person's city as revenge? Despicable. Someone steals your stuff? Stealing their stuff back is, well, the plot of a really bad sitcom, but understandable. Blowing up their entire block in revenge? Overkill. Dude steals your girlfriend? Wanting to make their relationship miserable is, again, a normal reaction. Killing them both? You've just gone over the line into psychopath territory. Again, these are extreme examples just off the top of my head, but surely you can see the difference here- one is proportional retribution. The other is not.

Many people and news agencies believe that the reason the two women have accused Mr. Assange of sexual assault is because they were annoyed that he did not have relationship with them exclusively. I'm not going to get into whether or not that is true, because I really do not want to deal with the reactions that come with making statements like that (I'm sick to death of the “you hate women!” “No, YOU hate men!” rhetoric on both sides). But let's use this as a springboard for the concept of revenge via false accusation.

want you guys to think about something here: if someone took their revenge on you by accusing you of a crime you didn't commit, and you were sent to prison for it, how would you feel? The Count of Monte Cristo is an example of this. You would probably want to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, even if it was your fault in the first place that your accuser was pissed off. Or, think of it this way- let's say a close friend or relative of yours was falsely accused of a crime. How would you feel, knowing that your friend would be incarcerated, or at the very least have their reputation corrupted as a result of the accusations.

Wanting revenge is natural. Taking revenge is natural. But for your retribution to be legitimate, it must be proportional to the wrong committed against you. It is part of human nature to seek vengeance. It is part of human nature to want to see your enemy suffer. But there is a difference between deserved revenge and disproportionate revenge.

Disclaimer: Don't do anything illegal after reading this post. Seriously. I mean it. Just because desire for revenge is a normal human reaction, doesn't mean you should actually do it. It's a normal human reaction to have sex whenever you feel like it, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to do the horizontal tango in the middle of the shopping district. You'll get arrested. Same with this.

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