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The story of the world
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Stephen Bahl's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
10:12 pm
Well, this is it: the last post of my journal ever (maybe). Six years. Six hundred posts. An average of a hundred posts per year. I could try to distill the essence of this journal down to some theme or collection of a few sentences, but that would be silly. And since I'm not doing that, I don't know what to do. Some things have changed. Some things haven't. That's how it always is with everything.

When I started this journal, I certainly didn't expect it to last six years. But then, I didn't expect it to not last six years either. I did originally title it "Connect Six." But that was a coincidence. I called it that because of the game Connect Four. I have this handheld Connect Four game and I learned how to always beat or tie the computer at any difficulty. I've had it for quite a while—much longer than this journal has been around, and the battery on the damn thing is still good, I think. Anyway, that game gets its name from how you win by connecting four playing pieces in a row, but five works just as well and so does six, which is the most you can possibly get. I took inspiration from the name somehow—instead of just winning, I would utterly dominate. But then I found that the phrase had already been used elsewhere by a lot of people. And the company that owned LiveJournal back then was called "Six Apart." So I got annoyed with the name and switched to "The Story of the World" as an intentional expression of ludicrous pretension. Of course, this journal could never be the story of the whole world. But it does tell the story of part of it, I guess. Don't ask me which part though. I have no idea.

I started this journal when I was a senior in high school, and more than halfway through the school year at that. The biggest thing for me at that time was the fact that I would finally be out of high school. Done with it. Move on. I was sick of high school. Of course, this is six years later. My youngest brother would have graduated this past summer if he'd stayed in school instead of dropping out. But it's not just about then and now. I don't care to contrast the two times so much. This journal covers the time in between those points (with some considerable gaps on occasion). And things have been happening that whole time.

I finished awfully in my last season of wrestling (illness), started judo, got the hell out of high school, played Magic as much as circumstances permitted me to, wandered around at nights, started watching way more movies than I used to, inherited the family's old computer, got my first job and it lasted a couple of months, finally got a doorknob for my bedroom, watched everyone else quit Magic, gave Nick over 400 hugs, tried (and failed) to improve my vocabulary, got attacked by an owl, made an effort to go back to school, got back into judo, started going to Green River, beat my dad in bowling, was in a real play, started my tradition of eating a Tollhouse sandwich after taking an exam, had to leave judo because I was running out of money, started thinking I really wanted to do this whole science thing more than other things that are not science, got a DS and started actually playing video games again kind of, started a second journal for some reason, began working for my neighbor, got a job at UPS, got hooked on labwork, was too busy with school and to do a damn thing and too tired from work to even have any emotion when the old dog died and when my great grandmother died, spent some time with my neighbor when he was dying, got rather jaded about biology, went to school in the summer for the first time ever, convinced myself that I wanted to be a librarian, slacked off to an unreasonable extent (even for me) in organic chemistry for three quarters in a row, got hooked on YouTube, founded my own political party, quit UPS, got my awesome library job, went back to judo again, graduated from Green River, became rather obsessed with creationism (the history of it and mindsets behind it and such, in case anyone has the wrong idea here), became the greatest library page of all time, decided to try to get into the University of Washington in order to major in chemistry, started relying on Google to run like my whole life pretty much, didn't get into the University of Washington, ostensibly supported the Kent teachers during their strike (but only actually did if moral support counts, as I didn't really do anything), got shingles for some reason, returned to Green River and well, here we are.

I learned to play go. I changed my judo style repeatedly. I learned more about music than I ever knew. I read a ton of books—a ton. I became a fan of mixed martial arts. I became a chemistry quasi-major. I got my drivers license at some point (mostly useless because I don't have a damn car and can't afford one anyway). I started a blog for myself to review chemistry concepts and I started another blog to replace this journal, but then re-posted everything I'd posted there to this journal anyway. I wrote some poems I guess, but, as you can see, not many. I learned what the hell a technological singularity is and grew to think that it could potentially happen in my lifetime. I injured my ankle a bunch of times. I reminisced about the past. I pondered the future. I got older. I argued with people, of course. I grew a tomato as big as my house.

It's been, well, my life. It certainly could have been worse. It could have been better, and I blame myself for it not being better, but it's not that big of a deal to me anymore. Sometimes I'm sad and sometimes I'm worried. Sometimes I lose hope and sometimes I feel lost. But it's nothing like the way it used to be. I'm relatively calm. I am patient. I am like, totally zen, man. But there are things that I want to do and even though I can't be sure that I'll accomplish my goals, somehow it feels like nothing can stop me. I'm ready to take on the world, but I'm not all spastic about it. And really, this can't be anything like how I felt in 2004. I remember that in the past, I felt like everything that was wrong was my fault, but somehow, I felt cheated, like I deserved better. I was anxious about my future, but wanted to ignore it because the present seemed intimidating enough. None of that changed overnight, but change it did. I'm not perfect, but perhaps I've grown up...

...Nah. Not quite anyway. Not in the conventional sense. Don't you worry, I'm still the same impossible brat I've always been. And I'm not going anywhere until my work here is done. Well, I am going somewhere, I guess. I'm going to Blogger. And I hope you'll come along. We've got a great show lined up for you. So sit back, relax, and—get plenty of fluids, I guess. That's probably pretty good advice, right? I have an exam tomorrow that I'm absolutely not ready for. And I can't cram all night like I could six years ago. I guess even if I don't grow up, I still age. Note to self: do something about that. I don't consider this procrastination though. No, I committed to this. It means something to me. What it means, I'm not sure. But it means something and I guess that something is enough.

To everyone who, reading this or not, has stuck with me in some way or another and remains a friend to me, thank you. It means a lot. No really, I'm not just saying that. I shudder to think what I'd have become if it hadn't been for some of you. And if I've provided something, even if it's just a brief amusement, then good. I'm glad. And to those of you who are freaked out by me and want nothing to do with me because I am or was so despicable: lighten up. I've never been that bad. So we've had our differences and yeah, I'm not perfect, but...actually, I can't think of who these people are that I'm referring to. Everyone likes me! Well, I like you guys too. So long. Farewell. Auf Wiedersehen. Goodbye. Don't forget to write. And if, for whatever reason, we never meet again, well, just know that this was enough. It's been awesome, really. I wish you all a long and happy life.
9:03 am
Auf Wiedersehen

I was going to do another issue last night, but instead of doing that or homework, I talked to Cameron instead and helped her edit her poem a bit. This was completely unrelated to me posting my own poems here. Just a coincidence. Anyway, I plan on making my closing update this evening. I don't know what it will be like though. I'd like to make it at least a little bit crazy. It would be a pity if the last entry were as boring as this one. Don't forget: I'm not dying or anything (that I know of). I'm just moving to http://diabahlical.blogspot.com/

So follow me there. I mean it! If you don't, I'll miss you. So yeah, there should be one more entry here and it should be later today. But anyway, goodbye from The Story of the World. We had a good run. Well, not really. But I learned stuff? Yes. Goodbye everybody.

Man, that was kind of sappy. I'd better have the last entry make up for it somehow...
Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
11:41 pm
I need some more filler to complete this whole ending the journal thing. I've saved most of the poems I've written over the past few years, and most of them only one other person has actually seen. I guess I was too insecure about putting them up here. Whatever. I don't feel that way now. So here they are...

I wrote this one in the morning while sitting in my empty trigonometry classroom instead of studying. Don't ask me what it means because by now, I've probably forgotten.

In a Moment of Weakness

In a moment of weakness
My mind betrayed me.
For one weak moment
I blasphemed our sacred cows.

I thought I could and should aid
All those who suffer.
My thought was that I
A mere mortal, understood.

But I am a fool.
They are God's children,
Not mine, I am told.
Big Brother knows best.

In a moment of weakness
I dared to inquire.
For one weak moment
My thoughts ran off on their own.
I thought I might know better
Than the collective.
So foolish I was
That I challenged our old men.

What made me think this?
My wisdom is not
Greater than the world's.
Big Brother knows best.

I am sorry, my comrades.
You thought it but a moment.
Surely my weakness had passed.

You were blinded by your strength.
You were taken by my sham.
I've planted the seed of doubt.

The next moment of weakness
Will be your own.

This one is unfinished. I don't know if I'll ever finish it. I never gave it a proper title, seeing that it's unfinished and all.

We are falling apart.
But do we even want to
stick together anymore?

Could we just fly apart all at once?
And into what if we could?
Could we collect all of the pieces?
And would we then rebuild ourselves?

We did this for a reason.
We can undo it with a reason too.
What will be our decision?
Perhaps there will be an endless cycle.

Anabolism and catabolism.
Until we figure this thing out.
If we ever do,
we'll blame you.
This one is sort of halfway between being a standard poem and the lyric to a song I made up. But I'm no composer, so I guess we'll call it a poem.

Can't Stop

You can't stop him from learning.
You can't stop him from growing.
You can't stop him from changing
You can't stop him from knowing.

And if you would try, then you would be
The worst person he would ever see.

You can't stop her from falling.
You can't stop her from failing.
You can't stop her from hurting.
You can't stop her from ailing.

And if you would try, soon you would see
The worst person you could ever be.

You can't stop them from quitting.
You can't stop them from shunning.
You can't stop them from balking.
You can't stop them from running.

And if you don't try, then you won't know.
What to do, how, why, or where to go.

You can't stop me from dreaming.
You can't stop me from trying.
You can't stop me from breathing.
You can't stop me from sighing.
You can't stop me from gasping.
You can't stop me from reaching.
You can't stop me from grasping.
You can't stop me from teaching.

And don't you dare try. Don't even dare.

You can't stop us from holding on.
You can't stop us from letting go.
You can't stop us from catching on.
You can't stop us from saying so.
You can't stop us from finding out.
You can't stop us from doing the right thing.
You can't stop us from walking out.
You can't stop us from anything.

And don't you dare try. Don't even dare.

And finally, that silly one I wrote on Facebook, although I forget what the exact context was.

Influenza Love Song

Binding with you is so easy. I don't want to bind with anyone else but you.
You are my little influenza baby. Oh yeah, I'm down with the flu.
I positively get such a sensation, from your sweet negative-sense ssRNA.
Fever and chills. Pneumonia that kills. But honey, I still love you anyway.
I break out in sweat and I cough, when you touch my epithethial cells....
Grab my sialic acid sugars. Influenza never kisses and tells.
I want to hold onto your hemagglutinin. I want to be with you all night long.
I love you, Influenza darling. That's why I wrote you this song.
I want to take you in my endosome. And I think you catch my drift.
But you're moving too fast for me baby, what with all your antigentic shift.
You are my one and only. Queen of the Orthomyxoviridae.
Horses and geese. Chickens and pigs. Influenza, come back to me.
See my Influenza baby—on the electron micrograph.
Just you wait until my antibodies catch you. Then we'll see who has the last laugh.
Monday, January 18th, 2010
11:01 pm
Although I was trying to practice good habits as far as school goes, as soon as I got a three-day weekend, I procrastinated the crap out of it. Surprised? Me neither. So I opened up this box with a dartboard. I've had this thing for decade. Less, actually. I'm not sure how long. I got it for Christmas from some relative and I think I remember the day vaguely. I played with this kid who, if memory serves correctly, was the adopted son of my mother's cousin and anyway, years later he died from diabetic shock or some such thing. Don't know why I just now remembered about that. So anyway, I got the dartboard out and tried it for the first time ever.

It hasn't been properly set up because drilling holes into my wall and measuring and stuff would be enough work that I couldn't really justify doing it instead of the homework I was supposed to be doing. But I did lean it against the microscope on my dresser and throw darts at. I already managed to break a knock on one of the darts though. Stupid cheap darts. Everyone so far has commented that it's not far away enough, which it isn't, but whatever. My room is small. It seemed to help my sister, since I played a quick game with her and she dominated me despite missing the board repeatedly (because she'd every once in a while land on really high-scoring areas including triples on 20 twice and I seemed cursed to only hit low-scoring areas the whole time). I've been erratic enough that I still can't tell whether I'm better off trying to hit the bull's eye or trying to hit the area that scores 20. Anyway, I'd better get back to my homework, which is still plentiful.
10:57 am
The post that was never to be
For quite some time, long before I made the decision to finish this journal, I had some rough ideas of entries I wanted to do before I ended the project or it sank into oblivion on its own. I wanted to post new versions of my book and movie lists, this time indicating how much things that had been on there in the past had shifted up or down. I wanted to do another lyric game entry because it sounded fun. I wanted to do a comprehensive political post of sorts. But the biggest one was a "best of" highlight of quotes. More recently, when I knew I wanted to finish this journal in the near future, I envisioned an entry that would be like "highlights from my six years on LJ" and make it my second to last entry, followed by a farewell of some sort. Yesterday, I tried to compile some highlights, quickly realizing what a monstrous undertaking it was.

I mean, I sort of anticipated it anyway, but yeah, there's no way this can happen. Some time ago, I did go back through the archives of this journal up to 2006 or so, tagging entries that I thought were best and looking for any content that I should make friends only. It's already been a while since I did that. I had wanted to go through the whole thing, but I never did. Of course, it brought back a lot of memories. But yesterday was different: my intention wasn't to limit the highlights to this journal, so I was going through my alter-egos and communities that I'd been a part of, all of which seemed pretty straightforward. And then I started on Nick's LJ. Even before I made it through the first year, I realized that there was no way I'd finish this in a timely manner. He has a lot more entries than I do. So yeah, the highlights idea is just not going to happen.

But the memories that brought back...

I mean, it was Nick's journal, not mine. But the majority of his entries were related to things I was aware of, and so I was reminded of them. He updated more about what was going on (as opposed to the drivel I usually post) than me too, so I wasn't missing as much like I would with my own journal. It all seemed so strange because some things I would remember and think, "That seems like it just happened and could not possibly have been so damn long ago" and other things would leave me thinking, "Was that really only five years ago?" An even more common thought was, "I'd forgotten all about that!"

So yeah, that's all for now. And by "now" I mean "kill you."
Sunday, January 17th, 2010
10:24 am
Re-post from new blog (November 28th, 2009)


Some stuff I've been thinking about around the time that is now or perhaps in the very recent past...

In The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan, there are sections that seem to outline what one might call the mainstream skeptical views on certain claims (about stuff). I've seen pretty much the same line of reasoning elsewhere too, and the typical skeptical view on UFO's (unidentified flying objects) is that claims about them are the result of various things but that there is not nearly enough evidence, if any really, that these sightings reflect actual space aliens. The sightings can be attributed to hoaxes, hallucinations, simple lies, and misidentifications/embellishments of real events. It's that last one that is given the most weight. People really do see things in the sky. I myself once saw a UFO (it just looked like a big red light up in the sky though). So the idea is that they see these things and their brains play tricks on them or they get confused about the details or simply make extraordinary claims about mundane things. Under this view, sightings might be attributed to weather balloons, satellites, aircraft, the planet Venus, etc. I understand that UFO proponents (believers?) have some counterarguments against this and without really knowing much or bothering to learn much about either camp, I find myself rejecting both with what is practically a "plague a' both your houses" mentality. What do I attribute sightings to? Hallucinations. Sure, there are some known hoaxes and there have probably been some unknown ones too, but they're pretty rare. And yeah, maybe sometimes people see ordinary things and get confused about them, but the actual reports I've seen are hardly ever like that (although my own sighting might very well have been in this category). They're just too extreme. Finally, maybe some of them really do represent sightings of real space aliens. It's possible, I suppose. But I think most of them are hallucinations. It happens. People hallucinate. I hallucinate. I think most people hallucinate. Is it really that crazy to think that there might be circumstances under which a lot of people hallucinate about similar things? In fact, there are some areas where this is well known to be the case. Just ask people who have experience with psychoactive substances: some of them tend to produce the same results for lots of (or even all) people. I've yet to see anyone articulate this stance on UFO's, but it seems more plausible to me than any of the other stuff I've heard.

I doubt I'll be going back to some point in my past with all of my memories intact anytime soon (unless I meet a magic genie with a penchant for that sort of thing), but I think if given the opportunity, I'd take it. And not out of regret: I am more or less happy at the moment and quite optimistic for the future. It's just that if I wasn't going too incredibly far back, I would jump at the chance to see what would happen if I knew then what I know now. What might hold me back would be the prospect of losing what I've already accomplished, but so little of that is tangible. Most of the things that I have now and didn't have in the past that I really appreciate are experiences, and I'd be taking those with me. There are also relationships with people. Even though I would remember them, other people would not. Of course, I could still know and interact with those same people, just with the odd bit about me having some memories of things that, as far as everyone else was concerned, never happened. It's not so simple as only that, though. Other people, having different experiences than they have now, would become different, if only slightly. But if they don't like that, too bad. I'd still be much too curious to abstain from going back. I'd jump at the chance, to a point. I'd probably go back without hesitation if it were to when I was in high school. If it were when I was really young, there would be consequences to being that young and knowing all the things I know now (unless I did a good job of hiding my knowledge) that I'm not sure I'd want to bother with, even if they'd be interesting. This leads me to wonder what the "point of no return" at which I would refuse to go back might be. And will it change as I get older?

I go back to Green River in January. This seems far stranger to think about than it should. I haven't been there since June of last year. But there was a period of time, not sure how long, where the place was like home to me. Seriously, at some level of consciousness I thought of the library in particular (and the science buildings too, but they're torn down now, which is another thing that might make going back weird) as home moreso than my house. But when I was finally getting ready to graduate, I was really looking forward to leaving. I even remarked that I'd never to have to enter a certain building again (and now apparently it turns out that I was wrong about that). It's not that I didn't like going to school there. I think it was that I didn't like working at UPS while I was also going to school there. I didn't like falling asleep all the time because I was incredibly tired from my stupid job and it was too early in the morning. I didn't like certain assignments. I didn't like mistakes I'd made. But overall, I was pretty happy there. Going back though, I don't know. I think the main problem is that the classes I want to take are not available at Green River. I am taking statistics and German. But I want to take more chemistry, dammit. That was the whole point of applying for the University of Washington. So I'm going back to a place I really liked, but I'm going back. I want to move on. I should have moved on already. I was trying to move on. And instead I'm going back. But it's to a place I really liked. And I think the conflict between those emotions is what makes it strange.

I just found out that animals that are active primarily around dawn are "matutinal." That's right, there is a word to describe the infernal behavior of being up and about in the morning. Why any creature would do such a thing, I do not know. Insects and other lower lifeforms I will excuse. They are practically slaves of their own circadian rhythms or whatever. But humans? And it occurs to me that in a little over a month, I will once more join the ranks of the matutinal damned. Well, it would have happened if I got into the University of Washington and it's happening anyway. Sometimes, we must make sacrifices. And sometimes, those sacrifices include being awake when any sane individual would be sleeping. And I am determined not to sleep through my classes. I don't know when I will sleep though. Maybe at night? Can that work? Is that even possible?

Back to the subject of college, I took two years of chemistry (one year of general chemistry and one year of organic chemistry). I guess I actually took three years of chemistry because I also had chemistry all through my junior year of high school, so I've studied it more than any other subject (depending on how you count). And yet it was not until well after I left college that I was able to say that chemistry was what I wanted to do. How was my reaction so delayed? How was I able to go to class that whole time without thinking, "This is so awesome that it is more awesome than anything else"? Am I retarded? Did I wake up one morning and go, "That chemistry stuff that I used to do: I want to do that for the rest of my life"? I really don't get it. I would think that this should be some sort of warning sign, that maybe I am fooling myself somehow. But how?

And speaking of the chemistry I took in high school, I almost forgot about that because it was mostly the same material I covered in Chemistry 140. At the time, I thought of 140 as a review of high school chemistry and was really annoyed by this. But somehow the most significant thing about this to me was that I managed to be annoyed about the college class and that I was needlessly reviewing basics. It adversely affected my attitude and my performance. It might be part of why I didn't realize just how fond of chemistry I was, now that I think about it. What now seems easily more significant than my own petty and quite temporary inconvenience is that 140 lasted one quarter. My high school chemistry covered two semesters. Alright, so high school quarters are different from college quarters. Whatever. They still covered the same material in a quarter in college that they did in a year in high school. And better. So what's the explanation? They went into more detail in high school? No, not really. They did more labs? Well yeah, there was a whole damn year to do them. Proportionally, I don't think they did more labs. The instructors in college were just that much better? Well, they were generally better, but they weren't superhuman. I don't think this accounts for everything. High school students just can't handle the pace that college students can? Bullshit. Green River is full of running start students anyway and I was only a year out of high school at the time and I'm still immature compared to the average high school student anyway. This is even more pronounced with the biology classes. But that gets me thinking about education in general.

And speaking of education in general, I know that my understanding of it now is completely different from when I was in high school. And it's not because I'm more mature or have some adult perspective or something. It's a direct result of going to college (which is sort of the theme for this post apparently, even though I did not plan that). After reading something this year that I wrote back in 2005 (before I'd started at GRCC), I've been thinking ever since that my notions about education and what it should be like were really stupid back then. I've become a bit obsessed with education and what it should be like, really. But I'm sure my perspective is still a bit warped because I've given almost zero thought to, uh, younger ages. That seems odd. I think when most people see or hear the word "education" they think of kids and probably kids in elementary school. That's my impression anyway. I know that when I see or hear the word "education" I think of myself. Vain? Maybe. Anyway, nascent people are people too. Important people, even. Or so I hear. And education has to address them. How? Man, I have no idea. I don't know how to teach kids anything. And this is hilarious, because I know I've complained about the educational system being messed up somehow, but as children go, what needs fixed and how would we go about fixing it? I have no idea. For all I know, it could already be optimal. That makes me complaining about it being messed up seem pretty funny, don't you think? I think so. I mean, I'm pretty sure that at some point not all that long ago I said education was the number one political issue for me, and now here I am admitting that I know nothing whatsoever about it!

Uh, I fully intended for this to pretty much be the replacement for my old Livejournal and I thought the only change was going to be that this is a blogger instead of an LJ. Same old stuff, just a different place. That does not seem to be what happened. I mean, I had some self-deprecating stuff on LJ, but this is different. Or is it? I think so. Probably. Anyway, I have to stop writing this post now. I thought it was going to be contemplative, but it seems that instead I just keep trying to tear my own psyche to shreds. Yeah. Not sure what's up with that. Bye now.
10:23 am
Re-post from the new blog (November 26th, 2009)

Stephen Bahl takes the GOP purity test

I found this thanks to Fesler linking to it on Facebook. The article mocks the proposed resolution and perhaps rightfully so. I don't know. I guess it doesn't matter to me how Republicans run their party. I'm not one of them. But some of my family are. And I agree with my family on some things and disagree with them on others. I think it's kind of nice to have the core tenets of Republicanism laid out for me to measure myself against. This in contrast to the other big party in the U.S. Half the time I don't even know if I agree with the Democrats or not. In fact, I've been noticing that it always seems to happen that just when I think I agree with the Democrats more than I disagree with them, I find some stance they generally have that completely repulses me. Whatever, this isn't about them. I'm going to take this test. Well, it's not really a test. But if it were...

(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill: Well now, this is rather sinister. No really. It is. They just said that the way they support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits, and lower taxes is by opposing bills. Get that? They did not say that they support those things and that they oppose bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill. Opposing bills is purportedly the method used to accomplish support for those other things. It isn't just one method of many. It's the only one they list. As far as the stimulus goes, it's a big thing. Surely most people agree with parts of it and disagree with other parts of it. I could give them the benefit of the doubt and say that I oppose the stimulus (I hesitate to flat-out oppose it, but I'm sure there are plenty of things about it for me to dislike). Fine. Maybe I even oppose bills "like" the stimulus. But that is most certainly not a way to have smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits, and lower taxes. I think most Americans would love to have at least three out of those four things (smaller government being a bit of a tricky one semantically and it depends on how you look at it). But none of them can be achieved without sacrificing something else that might also be seen as desirable. For example, I'd certainly like a smaller national debt. I'm with them there. But how? How do we achieve this. Opposing bills isn't going to do a damn thing. This position is stupid, really. Does anyone actually think opposing bills is a way to get things done? I guess this means so far I'm 0 for 1.

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare: This is a blatant straw-man. Firstly, "market-based health care reform" doesn't even mean anything. I get the impression that it's a euphemism for something, but I can't actually figure out what. Maybe I'm wrong. But Obama does not propose government-run healthcare. Do any Democratic leaders? I am not aware of any that do. There are certainly socialists who want government-run healthcare. Democrats though? Really, this comes across as "We are for [gibberish] and oppose [this thing we're saying our enemy wants even though our enemy has not actually called for it]." So basically, they're lying here. Well, I definitely don't agree with that. 0 for 2 apparently.

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation: Seriously? Do we really need to analyze whether opposing legislation accomplishes reform? I really think I am not being pedantic about this. Simply assuming that they mean they do both things is unwarranted here. Every single one of these so far has stated that they support one thing by opposing another. That's not how things work! And what the hell is "market-based reform"? Am I missing something? Is that a thing? It seems almost paradoxical, especially when it comes to energy. How can the market be the basis for reform? I'm not seeing it. I hope I'm not completely missing something here, but for now I have to say I'm 0 for 3.

(4) We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check: Well, this one is a bit tricky. I don't know a whole lot about unionization, but even I know that there are some nuances to consider with any proposal. This position sounds sensible, but it all depends on the details of what they actually want to do. Although I don't think these eleven words give me enough information to know if I agree or disagree with Republicans on this, considering that I came down so hard on the previous two statements, I'll grant them this one for the sake of simplifying things, meaning I'm now 1 for 4.

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants: What the fuck? Again? Was this designed to piss me off? Explain to me just how "opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants" does a damn thing to support legal immigration and assimilation into American society? It doesn't. I find it insulting to the intelligence of the reader that whoever wrote this thinks people will seriously consider this a valid position. Do they mean something else? Are they that bad at writing? I hate this so much, I am giving myself -1 on it. I'm now 0 for 5. Actually, at this rate, we need all the help we can get, so I'll just ignore the negative and make it 1 for 5. Reluctantly, though.

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges: This is actually quite funny. It's incompatible with the first statement about supporting smaller government. Troop surges necessarily imply bigger government. Not sure how they plan to do this and lower taxes either. But maybe they have a way. I'm still against this. We're not the world's police and there's no "victory" to be won in Iraq or Afghanistan. I strongly disagree with them here. 1 for 6.

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat: Containment? Within what? Iran is bigger than Alaska. What are you going to put it in? This is impossible. Are they referring to the policy of containment? But that referred to containment of communism. It wasn't containment of countries. The thing supposedly being contained was communism itself. They wanted to halt the spread of it. That was the idea, anyway. Only the cold war is kind of over now. Has been for quite some time. Do they seriously not know this? I find it hard to believe that the entire Republican party is 20 years behind. I am quickly losing patience with this resolution. Well, still 1 for 7 maybe?

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act: And I oppose it. Pretty straightforward. 1 for 8. Or -2 for 8 really, but let's be generous and say 1 for 8.

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion: Who's proposing health care rationing? I've never seen this. Well, I'm with you there. Denial of health care? Well of course that's bad. But opposing things no one is proposing is not a way of protecting anyone. And opposing government funding of abortion is the opposite of protecting vulnerable people because you're restricting the access to abortion of people who cannot afford to pay for it themselves. That's just a big "fuck you" to poor people. Disgusting. I'm now with you for -3 out of 9. I stopped feeling generous.

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership: Fair enough. I'll give you this one. Which brings the final total to -2 out of 10. Well, now I know just how much I agree with the GOP: -20%.
10:21 am
Re-post from the new blog (November 24th, 2009)

Trading mysticism for futurism

I'm critical of a certain type of labeling. When a person's entire set of political perspectives or methodological frameworks or notions about the nature of reality or even identity as a whole is reduced to a single word, I tend to think the people framing things this way are, at best, very lazy. Simple labels are demonstrably useful for a great many things, but do they accurately describe humans and all their confused inclinations? I think not. However, I am talking in terms of labels now because this is a topic I was thinking of in such terms recently. Hence the title. I think I may have traded mysticism for futurism.

Mysticism is a tricky concept. Maybe there is a better word for what I'm thinking of, but none come to mind. So I'll define mysticism as I am using it here...

Mysticism is a belief that there is some underlying level of reality that, due to its nature, cannot be explained by conventional techniques but that is experienced to some extent by humans.

Of course, what counts as "conventional techniques" I'm not sure. I think of science foremost, but would also include technology, mainstream philosophy (and possibly all philosophy), and so-called "common sense." I've thought about it, and I would not include reason. But that's a topic for another post. "Futurism" might be odd word choice on my part because it can mean several things, but I know exactly what I mean when I use it...

Futurism is a belief that the advancement of scientific knowledge, and with it technology, will accelerate in the near future in a manner that is profoundly beneficial to the human race.

That seems accurate. I thought of some questions one might have about the details while typing that, but again, that's not the topic of this post, and most of it has to deal with perspective, which would obviously be the individual "futurist" (so what counts as beneficial to the human race depends on what sorts of things the individual would consider beneficial).

Now, one thing I notice about these concepts as I have defined them is that they have absolutely nothing to do with each other. That is intentional. From the moment I started thinking of this, I thought of these concepts and my shifts with respect to them not as a movement from one pole to another, but as differing emphasis on concepts (certainly including several others, but these were the two I thought of) over time. Also, there has not been any point in my memory at which I was not, under these definitions, both a mystic and a futurist. And that goes for now as well. I fully believe that there is an underlying level of reality that, do to its nature, cannot be explained by conventional techniques but that people can and do experience. I fully believe that technological progress is and will continue to be awesome.

While I might say now that I fall into both of those schools of thought and have done so for as long as I can remember, I have perhaps not always behaved or spoken as though this is the case. When I was in high school and for some time after that, I thought of things in terms of mysticism quite a lot. But I don't think I usually acknowledged this. I could be remembering things badly, but I think what I did was pretend that I was not thinking this way. Essentially, I was a mystic, but I was pretending that I was not a mystic. As the years went by, I think I might have become less of a mystic, to the point that, as I was finishing up college early last year, I would probably have denied, vehemently, being a mystic (but I still think, under the definition I've presented, that I was one. But by this point, I had become, more than ever before, a futurist. It happened gradually.

Now here's where we come to my point. Well, not now, but shortly. Having thought about this, I conclude that over this decade, I have shifted from mentally placing much emphasis on mysticism to placing very little on it. In that same time period, I have shifted from mentally placing little emphasis on futurism to placing much emphasis on it. I traded one for the other. It may be that there is no relationship between them and that it just so happens that as one fell, the other rose. It may be that my cognitive resources can only accommodate so much of anything and that my decrease in mysticism made room for an increase in futurism. It may be that these seemingly unrelated ideas both fill the same role, that I need or seem to need something to occupy the part of my mind mysticism and futurism have occupied, although they might not be the only things that do or could serve in this regard. I don't know, but I suspect that it's mostly a coincidence.

And here it is. The point. Despite all of this and the fact that everything I have thought of has convinced me that the view I have just described is reasonably accurate, it would not be readily apparent from reading my writing. And that is a startling revelation. No really, it is. I have maintained the Livejournal that this blog is replacing from 2004 to the present. There might be some hints, but nothing overt. And that is crazy. These things have been huge for me. My mysticism used to be perhaps the biggest thing occupying my thoughts and my views about the world. And it was that way for pretty much the first half of this decade (and before that, actually). Likewise, my futurism has been of extreme importance in shaping my perspective for the latter half of the decade. And that whole time, I have presented myself in a way that minimizes or trivializes the things that make me who I am. Not only have I built a facade: it was only yesterday that it dawned on me that I have done this. Why? Why would I do it? What is wrong with me?
1:11 am
Writer's Block: R/evolutionary war
If humanity were to become extinct, do you think another animal species would evolve to take our place? What lessons do you think they'd learn from our successes and failures?

Biological niches are a silly and outmoded concept.
Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
1:24 pm
When in doubt, ramble a little
I'll be doing a lot of homework tonight in order to stay on top of things. It wouldn't be so bad if I'd done more yesterday, but I didn't, so there. This might be my only opportunity to write any sort of entry for today, so I'm doing that. But I don't have anything about German that I want to write about and I definitely don't want to write about my statistics class right now. I don't want to write about work and I can't think of anything good to say about judo. Actually, I feel like writing about chemistry right now. If I weren't at school, I'd try to make a quick post to my chemistry blog. But I am at school. Remind me to buy a mouse for this computer. I learned my lesson about one thing earlier and now whenever I'm typing anything longer than a few sentences, I turn my touchpad off. It's off right now. Also, this problem with some driver in Windows Vista crashing my computer is getting annoying enough that I'm tempted to try to fix it. How much longer can it take for this upgrade thing to be resolved? I think it still hasn't been 15 business days, but it must be pretty close. Who the hell invented "business days" anyway? I hate that concept. It was probably created by a business major. Most of the people in my statistics class are business majors. I wonder if business majors are universally oblivious to the contempt that everyone who majors in anything else has for them. That would be a fun statistics project. In which major, on average, do people have the most contempt for business majors?

Oh, my dad inadvertently reminded me about how some people make claims that some long-dead person would hold some set of opinions on some current issue, generally similar to the ones the person making the claim espouse. For example, "If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he would agree with my views on politics." I find all this quite silly. No, the dead dude probably wouldn't agree with you anyway. He'd probably be too busy puzzling over some technological advance or something to care about your mere ideology. And even if he did agree with you, if you're wrong, it just means that he'd be wrong too. I guess that's what's so funny about this sort of claim: it's an appeal to authority when it is known and acknowledged that the authority isn't even there at all.
Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
11:52 pm
Zweiunddreißig Grad Fahrenheit sind null Grad Celsius
So do Germans just not have the concept of proper nouns or what? I mean, it's been bugging me. I need to remember to ask my instructor about this or something. Whatever. It is way too late at night and I have way too much homework. I blame my sister. We talked on the phone for too long about some stuff. It's all her fault. Also mine. Mostly mine, really. Pretty much exclusively mine, if you want to get technical about it. I'd have more stuff to say about German, but I don't really have time right now. Maybe later. And man, I can't wait to find out about this stupid upgrade thing. Once I get that and a mouse, I don't know how much I'll be using this old computer anymore. Oh, also, I was mildly annoyed with the way my textbook handled temperature. Obviously, Germany and most of the rest of the world uses the Celsius scale. With clueless Americans in mind, there's a brief, but still somehow heavy-handed presentation of the Celsius scale and how it is different from the Fahrenheit scale we're all supposedly so used to. I may not know much about the German language (which is, after all, why I'm taking the class), but I probably know more about the Celsius scale than the people who wrote the textbook.
Monday, January 11th, 2010
12:48 pm
So classy...
The following is the preface to an old textbook being used as a decoration along with a bunch of other textbooks on a shelf in one of the study rooms of the science building (where I am now even though I don't have any classes in this building, as I am a total loser). What I would like to do is get the preface to a newer book on the same subject for comparisons, but I can already see some things I know would never appear in newer books. I want to note that the author's names are not actually rendered in all caps. They're actually in one of those old fonts where the lower-case letters are sized down versions of capital letters. They used to do that. I don't think very many people do that anymore...

If one casually glances around, most things seem to be solids, but when one thinks of the oceans, the atmosphere, and on into outer space it becomes rather obvious that a good portion of the earth's surface and of the entire universe is in the fluid state.

Aside from the scientist's interest in the nature of the universe which is mostly gas, the engineer's interest in devices useful to mankind can seldom drift far from fluids. It is indeed difficult to think of any machine, device, or tool which doesn't have some fluid hidden in it somewhere and some fluid mechanics behind its design. Pumps, fans, blowers, jet engines, rockets, gas turbines are primarily fluid machines. Aircraft and ships move through fluids. The atmosphere and the weather are governed by the dynamics of fluids. All machines must be lubricated and the lubricant is a fluid. Even the vacuum tube in a radio relies on an electron gas for its operation. And, no matter how complex or esoteric the device, the basic concepts of fluid dynamics still apply. After one masters the few basic ideas of fluid mechanics, a whole world of applications is opened.

It would seem unnecessary then to justify the obviously important place of fluid dynamics in modern science and engineering. It forms one of the foundations of aeronautics and astronautics, mechanical engineering, meteorology, marine engineering, civil engineering, bio-engineering and, in fact, just about every scientific or engineering field.

This book may be used either as a text or supplementary text for a first undergraduate course in fluid mechanics. However, one of the unique features is the treatment of a a broad spectrum of fluid mechanics topics such as hypersonic flow, magnetohydronamics and non-Newtonian fluids not heretofore found in a single book of this type. The coverage of this material and other advanced topics also make this book ideal for use as a reference and supplementary text for either an intermediate or first year graduate course.

The first few chapters are written primarily for the beginning student, with considerable emphasis on basic ideas of fluid motion. The first three chapters contain rather complete derivations of the conservation equations both in integral and differential form. Many examples are presented in order to convey the very important ideas of a control volume, Bernoulli's equation and the motion of fluids in general. A convenient summary of important equations and a general discussion of problem solving technique, which will be helpful to the beginning student, is provided in Chapter 3.

The level of the book changes from chapter to chapter. Chapters 1 through 5 and Chapter 7 serve as a first introduction to fluid mechanics at the undergraduate level. Chapters 6 and 8 extend to the aerodynamics of subsonic and supersonic flow and are pitched at the advanced undergraduate level.

As the student proceeds through the remaining chapters, he will find that the material becomes more advanced. The second half of the book deals with topics which are of current research interest. For example, the fluid mechanics literature and research efforts of today are largely in areas of incompressible turbulence, hypersonic flow, magnetohydrodynamics, and non-Newtonian fluids. These chapters are written in such a way that one who is not familiar with these particular subfields may obtain an introduction to the form of the mathematical models, the simplifications and techniques, the nature and peculiarities, and the present state of the art. If one is interested in an in-depth study of one or more of the subfields, the references at the end of the chapters may be pursued. These, along with this book, could serve as the based for an individual study program.

The authors wish to thank Dr. E. W. Gaylord for his valuable help with Chapter 12, and Mrs. Dorothy C. Wakefield and Mrs. Mary Bathurst for typing the original manuscript.


University Park, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
July, 1967


12:37 am
Accomplishing things is overrated
 So even though I just managed to write an entry for Saturday before it was over, I guess I didn't even have an entry for yesterday. I said I'd possibly with something interesting if I had anything interesting to say, but apparently I failed to even consider updating the whole day. Actually, I did nothing of any importance whatsoever all day. Well, time for bed because I have to actually get up this morning due to school. Still not used to that...
12:34 am
Writer's Block: Abandon hope, all ye who enter here
Do you think Web sites containing "adult content" should be legally required to post warnings? How would you personally define the rating scale? Do you fear this would place a chill on free/creative expression?

Fuck you.
Saturday, January 9th, 2010
11:54 pm
I thought I'd forgotten to write an entry for today, then I realized that it's still technically today. Getting up in the morning for a change has distorted my sense of time. So I guess I completed my first week of school. Uh, I don't know what else to say about that. I seem to be on top of things as far as that goes. But I'm definitely not used to it yet. I go to school before I would have been awake before, then I go to work and get back home and if it's Tuesday or Thursday, go t judo pretty soon. It's almost like I'm actually being productive or something. But not really. I still haven't learned much German yet, but at least I'm finally learning it (the first couple days didn't actually involve any of that). I wonder how proficient I'll be by the end of the quarter. I don't really know about these things. I don't work this weekend, but I do work next weekend. Whatever. I'll update with something that isn't completely boring tomorrow if I can think of anything...
Friday, January 8th, 2010
11:55 pm
My family keeps playing now. It is a strange game. It uses its own deck that differs from a standard deck in that it lacks the numbers 1-8 and has two each of the other cards. Because the cards come in pairs and you see a large portion of them initially, it is probably the easiest game to count cards out of any I've ever seen. Most of the actual skill involved deals with bidding and knowing when to stop bidding. Pretty luck-based and frustrating until you get the hang of it, but easy and fun. I'm not sure how it ever caught on though. I mean, it's fun enough to play with my family, but I don't think it's something I'd bother teaching other people to play.
Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
11:16 am
No German class today...
But I am in the classroom and I'm going to study some of these audio tracks. I noticed that I get wireless internet here. I guess there are more hubs on campus than there used to be. When I went here before, there were only three buildings with WiFi. If this old, crappy building gets it, then that situation sure has changed...
Tuesday, January 5th, 2010
12:28 pm
Second day of classes
I waited too long last night to do the reading I was supposed to do for my statistics class. But it turned out almost no one in the class had even done the reading at all. More reading tonight, but I have work and then judo before that. I'm wondering how I'd hold up if I were doing real school while also working and doing judo. I'd like to think I could handle it. Whatever, we won't be finding out any time soon.

I like my statistics book. I don't have it with me, so I can't give specific examples, although I do remember that one of them dealt with the controversial "butterfly" ballots used in Palm County in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. However, I was confused by a mistake the author made, although maybe some people don't consider it a mistake. At one point in a section about categorical variables, some possible categorical variables are listed for wooden construction (as on a house or whatever) and one example is whether the paint is water-based or solvent-based. Water, as you hopefully know, is a solvent. In fact, it's the most commonly used solvent in the world. So one of the categories includes the other category as a subset. Because I was tired, I was momentarily thrown off by this, but then I realized that it was just a mistake.

My instructor for German admonished us not to "go to the outside." I think he essentially wants us not to use the internet for studying German and to rely on the materials we bought for the class, but it was also sort of in reference to tests that he gives out, which are both open-book and take-home. I'm not sure what to think of this. If it's about the tests, it seems completely reasonable. But otherwise, well, I guess it doesn't matter. I paid quite a bit of money for those books and CD's. Might as well put them to good use.

I'm hungry but I don't know whether to go buy something here or just wait an hour.
Monday, January 4th, 2010
12:35 pm
This should be easy...
Well, I finished my classes for the day. This should be easy. Statistics has the same instructor I had twice in math classes and I know he's good. As for German, I did not actually learn a single word of German today. All the instructor did was have us fill out a sort of getting-to-know-you form. So yeah, there's not much to tell. I didn't expect much on the first day anyway.

Statistics sounds fun, but it also sounds like I already know a lot of the material because of all my science classes. Still, I think I'll be glad I took the actual class. I don't know what to anticipate with German because I've never taken a foreign language class before and I don't actually have any idea how hard it is. But the instructor claims we'll take it slowly and I'm pretty sure I'll be fine. I don't really know much because he closed class early today, not having everything printed that he needed to and all that (kind of typical first day chaos). Oh, I guess I wasn't expecting him to actually be German for some reason? And on that note, maybe I'm being harsh, but it seems like if he's teaching German to a bunch of English-speakers he should be really good with English, but he had poor pronunciation. Yeah, I think that's just me being harsh.

Well, I have some reading to do later today. Statistics reading anyway, as the German instructor didn't assign any reading yet, but I'll probably peruse both books a little. I'm going to wait until I get home for that, though. And oh man, LJ actually did manage to restore my draft. I was totally wrong. I guess it can save my draft on my new computer, but not my old one? Or maybe it's IE and it simply fails to save with Firefox. Or maybe they fixed the problem. I have no idea.

Anyway, I was going to add that this doesn't even really feel like school because I am not in a lab. Maybe it's because for my last nine quarters before this, I always had at least one laboratory science class and sometimes two. But you know what, I'm going to take it as a sign that yes, I really, really do want to do chemistry professionally and...okay, Windows Vista crashed again. I'm done. I hate Windows Vista. I might hate LJ slightly less now than before I found that it successfully saved and restored this entry twice, but whatever.
12:20 pm
Really wanting that upgrade now...
Stupid Windows Vista crashed on me while I was typing an entry and so, because LJ is also stupid, I lost what I'd typed. Fortunately I don't let these things run on too long anymore because I've learned that LJ can no longer save entries, but it's still annoying and I was almost done. I think I'll try again from a more reliable computer, despite the coolness of bringing my own computer to school and connecting to the internet without physically attaching it to anything. Anyway, more soon...
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