Friday, June 29, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I wonder if I'll ever go to Italy. Instead of a Starbucks, maybe someday I'll be at a real Italian cafe where I'll sit on a sidewalk and tell the waiter, Vorrei un cappuccino, per favore. I wish. Something about Italian agrees with me--the vibrancy of it, the constant "ch" sound, the full vowel sounds. Italiano e molto bello (Italian is very beautiful), and I am happy at the progress I'm making in my continuing ed class.
It's the height of summer and I have these long stretches of time that I have no idea what to do with. Time just extends and extends, and I am uncomfortable with it. Who's to say what is a good use of time, though? Just because I'm not being productive as far as making money or earning school credits, does that mean I'm wasting time?
This has been causing me a lot of anxiety lately, but my angst melts away sitting outside Starbucks. For first time this year I recall what summer is all about. It's 9:00 on a weeknight and I don't have any place to be. I can spend 20 minutes watching the remnants of a sunset and sipping a frappuccino. It's beautiful and peaceful and once I finally take the time to sit down and appreciate the moment I don't feel guilty about it. Those 20 minutes end up being so enjoyable that I leave thinking I should watch the sunset every day.
I wonder if I'll remember this summer five or ten years down the road. I wonder what I'll be doing next summer. I can honestly say I don't know. Some people plan their whole lives out. They have career plans, time tables, agendas. At the very least they have some kind of image in their mind of how they see their lives playing out. Maybe I'm stupid for not having that. I think many of my failures in life have been a result, at least partially, on a lack of planning.
But the truth is, life frustrates me and people frustrate me and maybe I've always secretly been waiting for some way out of the whole business, some way to escape the conventions of society and still do something important. So far I've managed to escape a lot of the conventions but I have yet to do anything I consider very meaningful.
After a certain point of sitting around with all the time in the world, the boredom lessens. Your mind is free to start thinking about possibilities. You start thinking about what you have and haven't done, what you'd like to do, how you're going to save the world. You start thinking about having cappuccinos in Italy. And it ends up being pretty cool.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Subject: You wish to die? Depression? We know as it to avoid!
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Sunday, June 24, 2007
Leave it to Al Gore to put it all together in The Assault on Reason and show us just how outrageous the policies of this administration are. Gore explains in clear language why this administration's policies have violated the very core principles that this country was founded on. He explains in detail the administration's perpetuation of misinformation (including the selling of the Iraq war on false premises), obsession with secrecy, and drive for an ever more powerful executive branch. This is a president who has suspended the rights of habeas corpus for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and has supported the use of torture.
However, The Assault on Reason is not simply a listing of the Bush administration's (many)wrongs. Gore's larger argument is that what is wrong with America is a decline in reason as the basis for in decision-making, and the Bush presidency is only a sympton of that. He sees the decline of print and the rise of TV as the major source of information and entertainment as a key factor in people's disengagement with the political system, as people feel a sense of powerlessness because of the one-way flow of information television provides. And televison plays on the emotions, rather than engaging people's reasoning abilities, and because of that PR experts, e.g. those in the Bush administration, are able to manipulate the population using fear-based tactics. People form opinions based on what they see on sound bites or 30-second television ads rather than reading about the issues.
This makes a lot of sense to me. While I don't think it explains everything that's wrong with society today, clearly the dominance of television is a big part of it (along with the failing educational system, but that's another story). People are just plain uninformed about government and politics. How can you possibly get a good grasp on current events from TV news? For example, I have never seen local TV news program explain candidates' positions on issues during an election in any level of detail. And these days even CNN isn't beyond ad nauseum coverage of celebrity "news".
This is not a fun book to read, but it's definitely an important book to read. The Assault on Reason should be required reading in high school history classes. I appreciated the fact that the book isn't based on petty politics or a personal vendetta against George W. Bush. This is a sober look at policies that violate the U.S. Constitution, and Gore expresses an appropriate level of anger that I think every single American should feel at the Bush adminstration's actions. We should all be marching in the streets about this stuff. But we're not.
Gore is optimistic that the rise of the Internet, as a two-way medium will spur people into political action and get them more involved in the issues. Honestly, I don't know if I am quite so optimistic. Sure, the Internet is definitely better than television as a way to obtain information and possibly get involved in politics. But isn't the Internet becoming more like regular television every day with the rise of YouTube? How do you get people to quit watching funny videos and start caring about political issues? I don't know the answer to that. But despite my lack of optimism about the Internet, Al Gore is still my hero and I am 100 percent convinced that if he were President right now there would be no need to write this book.
Friday, June 22, 2007
This album is odd in that I don't know whether to recommend it or not. True, I can't stop listening to it. There are some really catchy, sophisticated pop hooks on here, both fun and melancholy, that draw you in. Besides my favorite song, which is, of course, awesome, a few of the other tracks show similar brilliance. But the lyrics are another story, ranging from immature to crude to just plain cheesy. Case in point, "Someday We'll Know", possibly the cheesiest lyrics I've ever heard in my life. Most of the songs are about some guy pouting because this great girl dumped him, and given how immature and under the influence this guy sounds, you can't really blame her.
However, maybe I'm weird because I find the cheesiness of the lyrics sort of funny, and Gregg Alexander's subversive commentary on society is good for a few laughs. So my final recommendation is to buy this if you like pop music and can stand a few stupid lyrics.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
I never know what to get my father. I finally settled on a gift card to Applebee's because I know he'll use it. Too impersonal? Maybe. I've given up on meaningful and have settled for functional.
I had to buy gas after work so I went to the gas station on Mesa and University. On the way to the freeway I drove down University Avenue, through the UTEP campus. The campus was deserted, as might be expected. I have three sets of memories of my time at UTEP: undergrad, grad school the first time, and grad school the second time. But the memories I had on this night were of undergrad years and as I drove I felt a twinge of sadness at the realization that those days are never coming back. Sort of like losing a favorite photograph. That chapter of my life is lost and becoming more lost every second.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Besides those classes I have a stack of books I'm planning to read, which I'll probably end up writing about on here, and there's always Netflix. Enough to keep me quasi-occupied as my summer of boredom continues, I suppose....
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
"The relationship between faith, reason, and fear sometimes resembles the children's game of rock, paper, scissors. Fear displaces reason, reason challenges faith, faith overcomes fear." (45)
This is the only non-textbook I've ever read where I've felt compelled to underline key points. Highly recommended.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Later on it occurred to me that that's really the definition of a family. There are four people in the world that the second they call and say, come now, I need you, I will drop everything and go. And I know they would all do the same for me.
It turned out to be a relatively minor fender-bender, with the right corner of the car dented and the back side panel partly detached. It wasn't her fault--the other driver rear-ended her as she was making a turn. My sis was crying but not hurt at all, thank God.
Car accidents are the worst. Even a minor accident is traumatic and even if it's not your fault it's a huge hassle and a humiliation. When something like this happens, you realize what is really important. Cars can be fixed or replaced, all I really cared about was that my sister was OK, and right now I'm indescribably grateful for that.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Friday, June 08, 2007
Joanne Rowling is no good at small talk. In fact, there is a chance she is
incapable of it. Within minutes of sitting down she is talking about death and
fate.....Life does not come in a neat package, I say, and she pounces on this.
"People do want life to be neat. That is undoubtedly true. But you know the four
great truths of Buddha: the first one is 'Life is Suffering'. I love that. I
LOVE THAT. Because I think YES. Life is not supposed to be neat. And it's a
comfort. It's a comfort to all of us who have messed up. And then you find your
way back, bizarrely. And I'm sure to mess up again at some point - though, I
hope, not on such a grand scale."
Thursday, June 07, 2007
One thing that's interesting about these books is that on the one hand, they are about an epic struggle between good and evil, and on the other, they are about some friends going through school together, dealing with mundane things like homework and tests and relationship issues. Somehow Rowling manages to have both storylines without it seeming absurd. OK, it does seem a little weird sometimes, but it's really a feat that she's able integrate the two storylines so well most of the time.
One more book to go, then I'm caught up to read Deathly Hallows.