Feb 23

Not sighted

I’ve stopped reading about two dozen or so sites now since they’ve gone to a non-blog magazine-style format. I’ve stopped reading another dozen or so because they’ve implemented “Read more” or “Continue reading” links where you can’t see the entire article without clicking through.

At this rate, soon I will be able to read nothing.

That’s okay – as the internet becomes more corporate-controlled and more about social BS, it becomes far less useful to me anyway.

Feb 23

Degrees Negative

I’ve hired a lot of people in my life. I’ve been in management or partial-management positions since I was 23.

And I can tell you that if you insist that every person hired – whether it be receptionist, file clerk or janitor – have a college degree, all that means is that the very minute those degreed individuals find a better job more aligned to their skills and interests, they will be gone often without even giving notice.

And then you will be stuck.

Does it really make any sense that every job requires a degree? Especially since as from what I’ve seen most colleges teach very little useful (that is to say, you get out of education what you put into it, and most 18-year-old kids have no idea what the hell is going on).

Feb 22

Aging

I just can’t understand this outlook.

The older I get, the more I realize that the crappy part of aging is not the weird physical pains, the wrinkles, or the receding hairlines but the slow process of realizing that none of the things you wanted to do with your life are actually going to happen. It’s that moment when you look at your surroundings and realize, This is it for me. This is as far as I’m going to get. You look at the goals you had and the things you wanted to do and you realize that not only are they unlikely to happen, but they’re unlikely to happen because you aren’t good enough to accomplish them.

I like the site, but frankly I find this sort of view and approach to life idiotic.

Perhaps it only applies to people who when young (in academia, in the writer’s case) thought they were going to be stars in their field?

Being a star in any field is as much serendipity as it is skill and dedication. If you go through life expecting to be a star, you will always, always be disappointed.

My life is a fucking gift; I grew up poor in the sticks of Florida. I thought by the time I was 30 I’d either be dead or in jail. If my 15-year-old self could see me now, he’d be awed and impressed I think – by the things I have done and by who I am.

I love my current life and I make it better all the time. I work at it. I have an ensorcelling, unbelievably lovely, vibrantly intelligent and questing partner. I have few friends, but one close one who is one of the most clever, loyal and interesting people I’ve ever met. She is the bee’s knees.

I’ve been to interesting places. I’ve done things few people have done. I’ve consorted with fascinating and beautiful women, all of whom were supposedly “out of my league,” but shit, I have my own league and have never had any problems finding teammates to play in it.

I’ve learned about what I’ve desired to learn about. I’ve explored and been awed by nature and the universe; I’ve seen and done things few people get to see and do. And I plan to keep doing so until the day I die.

As I said, my life is a gift. Every day that I get to do the things I want to do, to read the books I want to read, and to spend time with my partner – a great day. I’m so very lucky and I know it, and when I read something like the above I really savor it. I hold onto it and realize what I have and how far I’ve come.

However, if I spent all my time whining about how I wasn’t a star yet, and might never be, then I imagine my life would indeed seem pretty miserable, and going downhill as I got older.

Sounds terrible.

I’ll take my quiet, wonderful life with time for what I want to do, not the one worrying about external expectations and my status or not as a star in some field or other that in reality few others care or know about.

But that’s just me.

Feb 21

Friend

I have generally enjoyed this series, though one part of it bothered me enough that I almost stopped reading it.

First, it’s a generally very gender-equitable set of books. Even most far-future (which this is not) sf seems to be content for some reason with 1950s gender dynamics. But many of the most powerful people in the books are women, and it’s telling how far we are from that ideal we are that I’m a bit surprised (both as a result of my own cultural training and how 1950s-compliant most sf is) when an admiral in the Martian navy for example turns out to be female.

All that said, there is one part of the book where a major character states that the only reason two men want to be friends with a female space marine is that they want to sleep with her. Not a reason. The only reason.

Never mind that she’s intelligent and fearless and incredibly loyal and brave beyond all measuring. Never mind any of those things. It’s her vagina that makes them want to get to know her.

Oh, bullshit. I am so damn tired of all of this, and all those who believe it.

Even after people disprove it so many times in their own lives, they still insist on believing it for some reason. Why, just why? It’s so limiting and so stupid.

Not that finding a friend attractive is wrong! It’s not at all. It’s human. I find many of my female friends very attractive. And hello, that’s for a reason! It’s because they are fucking awesome!

And on purely the physical side, I have a not-that-close friend in St. Pete who looks like some illustrator’s cartoon of an attractive woman. But that’s not why I befriended her, and I cannot stand to be around people I don’t like even for one second (as anyone who has met me surely knows).

I know I am atypical and not the best example, but still I just can’t understand why people who seem otherwise sane believe that men and women can’t be friends*, and it not be about sex. If sex happens, such is life. I can think of worse things than friends having sex, you know?

About the books, if you just ignore that part I mentioned, the first two are pretty good if you go in for that sort of thing.

*And I intentionally didn’t use the odious phrase “just friends.” Some of the best times of my life have happened with “just friends.”

Feb 21

Alien

I could’ve been this guy, a true isolato, but more than anything this piece made me recall someone from my childhood whom I haven’t thought about in years.

Believing I was an Alien was a natural conclusion for someone that continually failed to find a place to belong. Concluding I was an Alien was yet another way my identity as an outsider was re-inforced. No wonder I couldn’t relate to humans, we weren’t even the same damn species.

When I was ten, I informed everyone who would listen to me in my fifth grade class that I was an alien and would one day return to my home planet.

I think some of these kids actually liked me and even after that some of them still attempted to befriend me in sort of amused befuddlement, so perhaps they weren’t as bad as I thought then.

Anyway, that’s how I acquired the nickname “Alien” that lasted for a few years.

About this time, I met a girl who I really liked. Well, much more than liked, to be fair. I think she also quite liked me. Neither of us really knew what to do with that, though, being 10 and all.

Her name was Anna. I don’t really want to know what happened to her, as after that year I never saw her again. She moved away. I want to believe she did something amazing and that her life is as glowing as she was.

She wasn’t the prettiest, nor even the smartest, but there was something ineffable, indefinable, about her. I am always tempted to believe that the cliché of love at first sight is ridiculous, until I remember Anna. I loved her fiercely the very first moment I saw her and heard her speak.

And if you think someone that young cannot love, then you are very wrong. It diminishes the humanity of a person that just because they are young (and I was no normal ten-year-old, not by a long shot, for that matter) to believe that emotions at that age are not real, and not fully realized.

Anna had the quickest wit of anyone I’ve ever met. She seemed aware of everything going on around her at all times. And she just seemed so alive, in her too-big tennis shoes and funny socks. There aren’t really words for these ideas, not in any language. The grass got three shades greener when she walked across it. The sun borrowed energy from her. That’s how it seemed in my mind at the time. That no one else seemed to notice at all just boggled my young mind.

Anyway, this story does have a point.

Children have their own lives, which adults rarely understand and really are better off not knowing about. It’s always been that way and probably always will be.

One day my grandmother and I were walking through the grocery store, the usual weekly shopping trip. We turn down an aisle and I see Anna.

We were quite friendly by this time, having talked on the phone quite a bit even after school and such, so she greets me warmly. Except she doesn’t use my given name.

She says, “Hey, Alien, what’s up?”

Anna said just about everything with nearly unbridled mirth. It was like she was constantly laughing – not at you, or anything in particular, just that she found the universe amusing in the most amicable way and wanted to share it, to help everyone else to see it.

That barely contained mirthful joy behind her laughing dancing eyes is what I noticed the first time I ever saw her.

So in the aisle Anna and I chatted for a bit but my grandmother was getting impatient so we said our goodbyes.

I noticed the confusion on my grandmother’s face as she said, “Alien? Did she mispronounce your middle name?”

My middle name is “Alan,” as I am sure most reading this know.

I said, “No, Gran, she didn’t mispronounce my name. It’s a long story. You wouldn’t really understand anyway.”

My grandmother loved me, but she cared a great deal about being normal, of fitting into the routine. Anything that disturbed that normalcy was a threat. She never would have understood me being “Alien” or anything about that.

Anna, though — she liked me more because I was Alien in the sense of an appellation and as an accurate descriptor of my relation to the rest of humanity. When Anna saw me more clearly she liked me better – the first time that had ever really happened to me. I’d like to think she felt that reciprocated when I looked at her.

I am very glad I was Alien to Anna, wherever she is now.

Feb 17

WMT

Wal-Mart’s customers are so poor that they can’t even afford to shop at Wal-Mart any longer.

I’ve always wondered what would happen when corporations and the rich so gutted middle class wages that those wages would no longer suffice to support an economy and the very corporations doing the economic disembowelment.

Looks like we are well on the way to finding out.

Feb 16

Wow

Wow, OMG, Windows 8 lets your run two applications at once!

Holy shit! Will the innovations never cease!

Yeah, ok, my Windows 7 allows me to run as many applications as I have memory and processing power to run, all at the same time. Amazing.

For instance, right now I have nine different applications up that I am actually using and/or looking at.

Usually it’s much more but I rebooted my computer not too long ago.

Funny that multi-tasking is being taken away, and then sort-of given back, and presented like it’s something new.

Feb 16

Nym

In the army, my nickname was “Chill” due to my laid-back nature.

But in basic training, my nickname was “Psycho” due to a fight I got into, or rather that someone chose to get into with me.

I guess to them it seemed safe to pick on someone about half their size.

I believe that’s the only time I’ve ever put someone in the hospital.

And nope, I don’t regret it a bit. I’d do it again. Bullies should be smacked down, hard.

The drill sergeants actually thanked me afterward for getting rid of that idiot.

I faced no penalties at all.

Why “Psycho,” though?

Because after the guy was already dazed, even though I am not very coordinated, I was so annoyed and tired of this guy, I did some weird spin move and kicked the guy in the side of the head.

I’m sure it wasn’t elegant or like in an action movie, as my feet are about as coordinated as a bag of biscuits, but as I said the guy was already dazed, and I was awash in not quite “rage,” but the sort of controlled focused awareness one gets when fighting.

That kick up side the head was the whole “hospital” part.

I should’ve stopped before that, but I was fucking fed up with this dude and might’ve killed him if the drills hadn’t stopped me.

I’m glad they did, but I regret not at all what I did.

I believe that’s the first time I’ve ever told anyone that nickname, or that story, as I’m not proud of it really, but it’s true about me and it’s my life. Anyway, only 2-3 people read this blog, and I know and like them all. Anyone else stumbles across it? Such is life.

Feb 15

Confiscatory

I had two thoughts while reading this:

1) Banks are evil.

2) I need to make sure most of my assets are overseas sooner rather than later.

When you have enough money that it’s worth it for someone to steal it, but not enough to buy a government, guess you make a pretty good target.

Time to become a harder target.

Feb 15

Differences

I was going to write something inane about soulmates, but it might be a useful concept to some. Let them have it.

A few years ago, I was eating lunch with a girl from work. She looked at me strangely for a moment and said, “You’re weird. I think if a few guys with guns came into this restaurant and started shooting the place up, the expression on your face wouldn’t even change.”

I said, “Well, depends on if they shot me or not.”

She said, “See? You’re weird.”