Random Musings (‘n stuff)

22 08 2010

(*throws himself bodily from the nightmare that is college apps and summer homework and soccer tryouts and schedules and la;skdfas and escapes into the blog to ramble as is his wont when he’s stressed and/or bored and/or feeling contemplative*)

Disclaimer: what follows will probably be stream of consciousness and incoherent and generally exactly what you expect from a teenager writing as much for himself as anyone else.

So. Right. Post writing. I’ve had inordinate amounts of free time since I got back from Carnegie Mellon a few weeks ago (summer and all that), and I just got done reading Looking For Alaska (if you haven’t read it, go read it now. It’s quick, and it’s worth reading. Yes, it’s “Young Adult fiction.” No, I don’t care if you’re an adult. YA writing is sometimes worth reading for adults too, because you don’t know everything either 😉 ). And it’s put me in one of my weird rambly philosophical moods, thinking about, well, life, the universe, and everything.

Here be spoilers:

I’ve rambled and blathered about how a lot of giftedness is just being “more.” Well, that’s true. But so is being a teenager. Gifted teenagers are even worse about it (god have mercy on our parents and teachers and the people who for some inexplicable reason put up with us as friends), but all teenagers do it. Small things, for no reason discernible from outside of our own heads, provoke tremendous emotional responses. I don’t just mean the stupid high school drama crap (although that’s part of it). Some things carry a very disproportionate amount of power in my mind. I’ve constructed images of how things are, or could be, or should be, and when through some strange coincidence that image coincides particularly well with the real world, it can have a profound impact on me. And the same holds true for books. When things line up right in a book, it can have a tremendous impact on me, when even only very much cherrypicked details fit my life, it can hit hard. When things line up with my image of how things should be, same deal. I guess that’s part of why the book hit me hard.

Right. Rambling introduction that didn’t actually explain anything done. ONWARD!

So, Alaska hit home on several points. “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?” Alaska wonders if the labyrinth was life or death, and later decides that it was in fact neither, but was suffering. Before she dies/kills herself, she answers it “Straight and Fast.” Her answer was that you damn the labyrinth, damn the turns, damn the walls, you do what you want, and you don’t let suffering confine you. At first glance it seems to be just the “life fast, die young” mentality (supported by the fact that she drives “straight and fast” into a car, killing herself), but I think that Green (and Alaska) is too smart for that. I think it’s much more powerful. Like I said, it’s not “run headlong into the wall,” it’s “damn the wall, it can’t stop me, it can’t confine me, I will live free, unbent by suffering and pain.” It doesn’t mean that you ignore pain or pretend that it doesn’t exist, it means that you don’t let it control your life. You break free, straight and fast, you break fast by being truly alive.

It has an appeal, doesn’t it? And probably more than teenagers than to anyone else. Break free from your chains, break free from your restraints, and live as you wish you could. It fits with teenagers’ moreness. He even says it.

And if Alaska took her own life, that is the hope I wish I could have given her. Forgetting her mother, failing her mother and her friends and herself–those are awful things, but she did not need to fold into herself and self-destruct. Those awful things are survivable, because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be. When adults say, ‘Teenagers think they are invincible’ with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are.

That’s the essence of it. That’s how it feels. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true, it matters whether it is believed. That belief drives teenagers to do tremendously stupid things, but also to do tremendously wonderful things. Who feels more acutely the pain of loss? Who feels more acutely the joy of friendship? The volume’s turned up, the engine’s revved, the speedometer far over to the right, in our emotions and in our actions.

And really, is that so bad? Is life lived with the radio dial turned up such a bad thing? It isn’t live fast and die young, it’s live magnificent and die happy. Sure, feeling more means feeling pain worse, but isn’t all the joy in life more than enough to outweigh the pain?

*spins steeringwheel and flies off at a 90 degree angle to talk about something else*

Why is Alaska (the girl, not the book) so appealing? Why is she such a powerful character? By all means, she’s a flawed character. No one would mistake her for a role model. And yet she’s such an incredibly compelling character. The narrator puts it thus: “…I was a drizzle, and she was a hurricane.” She’s more. She’s alive, she’s driven (maybe in the wrong ways, but driven none the less), she’s passionate, and yes, she’s a little bit insane and not always in a good way, but that’s overlooked because on some level escaping straight and fast appeals to us. Her life’s volume, so to speak, goes to 11, and that’s something worth having.

People fear monotony. Why is passion valued so much more highly than contentment? Because contentment is the same all the time, it’s boring, it’s everyday. Joy and heartache and love and elation and fury and despair are sharp, they’re sudden, and each and everyone of them cuts deep. They’re exciting, they bring the world to life. Not always in a good way, mind you, but they do it. People treasure that sort of feeling, and Alaska has more of it. She sweeps the other characters up in it. She’s a cat 5 hurricane sending Pudge head over heels before he even knows what’s happened. Suddenly she’s the center of the world by sheer force of personality, and people are drawn to it.

She’s crazy, she’s unhealthy, she’s obviously unbearable sometimes, and yet people are drawn to her. People are drawn to that moreness, that aliveness, to the straight and fast. So the rest is ignored or dismissed of forgotten, and only that moreness is remembered. That moreness is what gets teenagers the ever so slightly condescending smiles and laughs, but it is something powerful enough that it appeals to everyone.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s as it should be. I’ve said it before, but it bears restating: http://xkcd.com/167/ is a powerful and true sentiment. Find your own meaning in life, and then GO LIVE IT. Find joy and happiness and pain and sadness, but don’t let the latter 2 rule your life. How can I ever get out of this labyrinth? Straight and fast, because I will not let it guide my path.





Collateral Murder

5 04 2010

That’s what the video’s called, and I can’t think of a better title. If you do nothing else today, watch this. Please. Watch the entire thing. Email it to your friends. Email your congressmen and ask about it. Demand to know why our troops no longer are required to obey the rules of engagement, and shoot people trying to collect their dead and wounded.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/04/whistleblower-report-leaked-video-shows-us-coverup/

I’m so sick to my stomach right now that I really can’t say anything more, and I don’t think I need to. You’ll understand.





What Schools Are Not For

26 03 2010

No, surprisingly this post isn’t about separation of church and state, but it has a lot to do with the stupid American puritanism that is still pervasive in our culture. You see, a school decided to ban two girls from all extracurriculars because they dared play with a lollipop and take pictures!. Teenage girls have sleepover. Teenage girls “pretend to kiss or lick a phallus shaped multi-colored lollipop that they had purchased.” Principle decides that this is his business, and bans them from all extracurrics for a year unless they attend 3 counselling sessions and apologize to the all male athletic board, in which case it would “only” last for a quarter of the year.

Yes, the correct reaction here is “what the fu…?”

First of all, who the hell cares? Teenagers are aware that sex exists, and joke about it even! Shock! Horror! I’m sure the older generation never had a sexual thought even once until the day they married. If you’re worried about the issue of posting pictures of yourself in this sort of situation online, fine, that’s legitimate, tell their parents. But outside of that, this is a non issue. There is no reason that what they did should even be considered bad.

Second, who the hell made you God? What conceivable reason does the school have for claiming authority here? Schools have neither the right nor the authority to control every aspect of their students’ lives. Unless it is causing significant disruption at school, what students are doing outside of school is really none of their damn business. “Government in the bedroom” is a bad thing, right? Well how much worse is having the frigging school in the bedroom? There is no reason whatsoever for the school to have any authority over any of its pupils’ sexuality outside of school.

This isn’t just an issue of expression, it’s an issue of authority. Let me say that as a high schooler, I think that to give schools control over students this way is just creepy. This wasn’t even sex! This was playing with a lollipop and taking pictures. And if it were sex, which is the logical extension of this policy (assuming no cameras, because that brings up the issue of child porn), well, that’d be even worse. If teenagers want to have sex, there is nothing wrong with that.

[Feel free to insert the phrase “fucking stupid” as you desire in the above post. I had to restrain myself several times to avoid using it, because man does it ever fit]





Still alive

25 01 2010

Hello everyone! Just letting you know I haven’t dropped off the face of the world. One of these days I’ll finally get ahead of school (and non school) work enough to start posting again. Until then, hope you’re all doing well!





Sexism runs both ways

5 12 2009

You see, people think sexism’s pretty good. What’s that, you say? We’re a liberalized culture where sexism is no longer acceptable? Well, take a little journey in the hypothetical with me.

Imagine a world where women are expected to hold the door for their husbands. Imagine a world where it is expected that a man will never have to cook because his wife or girlfriend will do it for him. That’s a pretty obviously sexist world, right?

Well, let’s compare. In our world, many people expect that a male will always hold the door for a female. In our world, it is expected that a female should never have to take the initiative to start a relationship, because the male should always be the one to do this. How exactly is this not sexist? You can’t say that sexism that helps you is ok if you say that sexism that hurts you isn’t.

Sexism is never ok. It is time for society to get over things like this. You should hold the door for people because it’s courteous, not because they have some extra mass on their chest, and you don’t. Courtesy in an equal society is the same regardless of gender. Whoever damn well wants to take initiative should take it, because saying otherwise is saying that women are somehow less capable of it which, unless you’re a sexist, you would of course point out is patently untrue.

You don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen? Good, you shouldn’t. But you can damn well step in puddles, and open the door on your own sometimes, and be the one to ask someone else out if you really want to date the.





Uganda

29 11 2009

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/11/how_not_to_end_the_scourge_of.php

This needs no comment. There’s nothing I can say that this doesn’t make horrifyingly clear in its own right. I think I’ll go throw up now.

Edit: In addition, the Reich wing is trying to claim that this is the fault of those who believe in equality. Scott Lively, you sir are evil. Such a claim is not wrong, or “misguided.” It is evil. It reveals a casual disregard for your fellow humans. If there were a Hell, I would bid you rot in it.





Standing for the Pledge

21 11 2009

I am absolutely exhausted from nearly 11 hours of committee and working paper work for MUN (plus almost no sleep the last two nights, also because of MUN), so I’m not going to promise a good post. However, I haven’t posted anything in ages, so it’s something.

 

I stand for the Pledge. I also don’t believe in it. I don’t believe in pledging my allegiance to a flag, and have reservations about pledging it to a country (ideals, sure. Give me a Pledge of Allegiance to the First Amendment, and I’d love to say it.) I also neither believe in a god nor believe “under God” to be Constitutional in any way, whatever the Court may have argued.

 

Why, then, do I stand? Simple. It’s the same reason I think that atheists who file lawsuits over US currency are worse than ineffective in their efforts. Refusing to stand gains nothing. No real point is made by it. It’s just being obnoxious. I do not say the pledge, and by standing I avoid being noticeable or disruptive. I may be seen to passively condone the pledge in this manner, but the actual import of the pledge is so negligible that this really doesn’t matter. The same goes for “under God” on US currency.

 

So really, just stop wasting people’s time. Some matters where you are technically right are so minor as to be irrelevant. The pledge is one of them.