My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I realized the other day that everything that I know about death I learned from Calvin and Hobbes Cartoons.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


April, 15, 1946 - It was a warm day for at Ebbets Field and the Brooklyn Dodgers were pitted against the Boston Braves. Jackie Robinson stepped up to a historic at bat, brought cheered and boos and ended approximately 60 years of baseball segregation. Everyone knew that it was the exact moment that the baseball color line broke. His at bat ended in a ground out to the pitcher and he went go 0-3 during the rest of the game. But viewed in the context of time, with the achievements that he would earn as he progressed throughout his career, he stands alone as an image of change and hope in our country.

Sixty years later we have our first black president stepping up to bat. Voted in as president in an overwhelming victory, he will face one of the most challenging administrations that our country has ever seen. As he inherits a list of problems that we expect him to solve, we also expect him to be as good as our previous president was bad. Like Jackie Robinson, it is true that he too represents progress, but it is unrealistic to think that he alone will bring change to the country.

During the election and immediately thereafter, he kept telling us that it wasn’t about him. He told us that it was about us - that we must all be part of the change - but we have never really listened. Instead, we have placed all of our hope on him and believed that Yes We Can, as long as he is leading the way. We see him as our hero, an icon, a symbol of who we are. And when he is sworn in tomorrow as our forty-forth president, it will be as all of our Jackie Robinson. My only hope is that we can see his example for what it is: another good start.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

To the Two Young Ladies Behind Me

Women are strong, intelligent, beautiful, amazing creatures, which makes it all the more frustrating when they won’t shut up long enough to be admired.

I understand that a coffee shop is a well known place to air ones grievances, I’ve even written another blog about it, but there really needs to be a limit. While attempting to get some work done at The Victoria earlier this week I took the only seat available, directly behind two girls talking to each other about their lives, and attempted to write.

Over the next several minutes I was constantly interrupted by their every increasingly vapid conversation. It bounced from why one of their boyfriends was stunted emotionally because he didn't hug his father on a regular basis, that one of their sisters just doesn’t understand the value of exfoliating her feet, that one of them has reached a personal milestone and now felt confident in themselves, as long as they kept seeing their therapist once a week and continued to journal, that one of them had been struggling with depression, but a crush on Jim from the TV show The Office was helping her get through it, and that they were both a “rollercoaster of emotion because of their mothers”.

Throughout the entire conversation they became louder and more piercing. Eventually spiraled into such a high-pitch frenzy that I can only explain it as two Pekinese fighting over ownership of a heavily amplified dog whistle. Needless to say, I did not get much writing done and ended up heading home to attempt to write with the usual distractions of home.

The problem was that once all I could think about was how much I had been annoyed by the mindless chittering that had driven me back home. What I decided to do was sit down and try to become a female conversational apologist. This I thought, would either help me find peace with their process or turn me into a celibate monk.

Not really knowing where to start, I contemplated how men converse. We talk just enough to know what the other is thinking. Generalities, direction, examples and specifics about things that are only loosely relevant to the conversation at hand. In all reality, we talk less because we would rather know that there is someone out there like us, who shares the same tastes as us, with just enough conflict for us to continue to believe that we are different enough to matter. Our relationships are deep within our minds, but rarely expressed because allowing them to surface would smother their meaning. Male friendship is based on things that don’t need to be said.

Conversely, female relationships are built on the opposite: reassurance that they are not alone, community, and strength through vulnerability. What those two women behind me were saying was that the challenges in their lives were just obstacles that, with a little support and shared strength, they will overcome.

After reasoning it out, I thought about how both sides always ridicule the other on how shallow their methods seem to be. Women speak on men’s relationships as things built on grunts, technical data sharing, and physical confrontations. Men generally consider women’s interactions as insipid, pointless meanderings, with sporadic emotional outbursts. And while both sides seem to deal with their emotional wellbeing in different ways, they have the same final outcome.

For myself, I’m glad that I’m male. Not because I think that my way of communicating is superior, more efficient, or even just better. No, it’s because when I need to think, I can sit at the coffee shop, by myself, and find balance with my mind and life. And I can do all of that without annoying the people sitting around me.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The "Everything Happens for a Reason" Argument

For years I’ve had problems with the casually offered “well, everything happens for a reason” excuse. It always left a bad taste in my mouth, but I wasn’t able to pin down exactly why this seemingly innocuous phrase rubbed me the wrong way. Being the supposed deep thinker that I pretend to be, I attempted to logic out the argument for why everything may indeed happen for a reason.

When someone says that they believe that everything has a reason, it immediately causes a sequence of reasons, and this sequence must itself either be caused or not caused. So if there is a cause to the sequence, it must be outside the realm of causes, but if it is not caused, the sequence must be necessary, or its own cause. Their argument then is that the universe is composed of dependent parts and that there must be an outside, necessary being, God, as creator of the world to have caused it to happen. Since God assumedly knows all, the thing must then have been good and it is only our perspective of the thing that is faulty.

But this is a bad theory and incorrect reasoning. Just because one thing has a cause does not mean that it was dependant on another or that the good thing couldn’t have come either independently or without the bad thing happening. Moreover, it assumes that a God would not do bad things to us for us to learn a greater good, but that is another argument.

This took me back to the original intent of the saying. When people say, “everything happens for a reason” they seem to have three ways in which they intended their statement to come across. The first is that there is a God and that that God controls all minutias in the universe. So everything from the orbit of solar systems, to a fire that rips through a nursery, to you stubbing your toe is all part of a master plan by an all powerful, supernatural being, who controls so much of the universe as to cause your free will to be worthless and thereby debunks the need for a God in the first place.

The second is one of Karmic theory in which the there is a balance to the universe and that the good and bad will eventually wash. This assumes that there is a natural equilibrium to everything. This, while beautiful in its simplicity, is shot apart when observing the vast majority of the world around us. Equilibrium in math or science is a quantifiable outcome, but fails when applied most of life. You spraining your ankle getting the mail can only be Karmicly balanced out if it involves an elaborately fanciful story. Seeing things as balanced then becomes a lesson in denial, wherein everything is balanced only because you believe it so and fail to reason.

The thirds is used as a learning experience in that there is always something good to be taken from anything that has happened. But this theory fails in practice as the two paths from an event are rarely equal or necessarily dependent. Say that someone lost their child to Hurricane Katrina. Saying that they then found a deeper relationship with their dog is neither a fair transference nor impossible without the death of their child.

What bothers me about “everything happens for a reason” is that it cheapens reason itself. It takes someone who has had something that they deem as bad and attempts to gloss over that bad thing with someone else’s failed ideology or an extremely faulty thought process.

So next time something bad happens, don’t attempt to connect the universe with the thing, just accept that the bad thing has happened, work to repair the damage in the best possible way, and try to better enjoy when life is good.