Thursday, December 11, 2008

Book almost released




Hey all,

Soon I will be self-publishing through Lulu.com a little book. It will be a collection of my short stories from this semester.

The title: A Little Fiction.




Here is a little graphic of the cover., front and back.


If you are interested in an early copy, let me know.

Look for it soon.

312 Final. My Country ‘tis of Who?: The Extended Version

This is an essay that I wrote for an English class. None of the following statements are necessarily the views of the writer. Some are just simply thoughts put forward for discussion.

Constructive comments are welcome.

All rights are reserved. No publishing, reproducing, altering, or distributing any portion of this without the author's permission.


 

My Country, 'tis of who?: The Extended Version

    The United States of America was founded on the principles of equality and liberty. These principals have guided this country into a period in history where gender and racial prejudices have disintegrated to the point where anyone from any race or gender can become leader of this country. However, despite these advances, this country has not achieved its goal of a "more perfect union," rather it shows signs that it is becoming less perfect every day. Due to the erosion of individual liberties, an increase a dramatic increase in surveillance, and an ever –widening disparity between two classes, the United States of America is devolving from a nation of freedom into a nation of fear, threatening to tear apart the country socially and economically; The United States' of America isn't becoming a dystopia, it is a dystopia.

    Like a dystopic novel, the United States' increase in surveillance puts fear into the hearts of its people. For example, in novel 1984, the government of Oceania uses the pervasive television screen to spy on people. This is no different from the modern day security officer, overlooking the constant influx of surveillance footage and reporting anything suspicious. In fact, this is Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon personified (Foucalt "Panopticism"). However, unlike the Panopticon, the modern day surveillance system is ripe for abuse. Whereas Foucalt's panopticism describes a perfect system where everyone, including the jailer, is under surveillance, those in charge of modern day surveillance are left to their own discretion. Oversight is done through visits, not through constant viewing of actions. As such, the utopia envisioned by Foucalt where the jailers are equal to the imprisoned is never realized. Instead, the United States' continues that path toward a dystopia by giving power to some and none to others. The citizen and his or her liberties are at the mercy of the police system.

    Similar to a dystopia, American citizens have in the last eight years lost several liberties, specifically, the right to a public trial by jury. Similar to 1984, where the government can detain and torture a citizen of Oceania, the United States' government can now knock on a citizen's door and detain that citizen for an indefinite amount of time, all under the guise of the citizen being a possible "terrorist." This is done, allegedly, to protect the people of the United States', fulfilling that important part of the Constitution's Preamble which charges the government with insuring "domestic tranquility" and "providing for the common defense." There is no doubt that the government must protect its citizens, but the line between the terrorist and the advocate is too blurred to allow this to be the definition that permits a violation of the constitutional right to a public trial by a jury.

    Some might argue that the United States' is simply doing what is necessary to protect the country until the threat of terrorism has passed. These people would argue that the powers granted to the government are temporary, and are a necessary means to achieve a necessary end, the safety of the citizens it is charged with protecting. However, there is no indicator that the government will ever abdicate their new powers. Instead, it embraces them and does so without apology. This causes one to pause, and wonder, is power the goal of the government?

This goal of power is dystopic for several reasons. For example, in
the movie 1984, there is a scene where the main character Winston is being tortured by the character O'Brian. O'Brian tells Winston that real power is to make someone believe that two equals five. Similarly, the goal of the American government appears to be the gaining of power to make its citizens into worker bees and robots who go about their daily life, working and buying. Similar to Marx's Communist Manifesto (though this author is no supporter of communism), the United States' government seems to care less for its peoples' happiness (unless their unhappiness undermines the governments own power), but is more concerned with keeping its citizens on the train of consumerism, stopping at every shopping center and convenience store to spend their hard earned wages. This dystopic vision is the opposite of a utopia, where class systems have been abolished, but is more similar to the concept that citizens are a means of production, both the production of capital and of goods. Similar to Altusser's scheme of production and reproduction in his essay, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatus's," the United States' requires the production and reproduction of their citizen's consumer action.

This goes hand-in-hand with the government's desire to keep peace through surveillance because, in order to assure frequent consumer spending (as opposed to theft of goods), more surveillance must be employed. More surveillance equals more power to the state. The state then uses that power to keep its citizens under control. If a citizen is abnormal in his or her behavior, the government technically has the right to detain the citizen. Hence, it can be seen here that the government and spending are united. Also, a result of this symbiotic relationship, anyone who goes against this system becomes part of a separate class of citizen, even in the eyes of other citizens. For example, just as the outer party is separate from the inner party in 1984, so also are frequent, traditional consumers and property owners separated from those who are not. One only needs to look at the disparity between the homeless and home owners to see the difference. The homeless citizen is more often the victim of discrimination by the police apparatus, whereas a clean-cut citizen in a suit is looked upon with admiration. Despite this visual disparity and the alleged class distinctions, the police apparatus can be no more assured that the suited citizen is anymore or any less a danger to the local citizenry than the homeless. The dystopic vision of America continues. Similarly, the suited citizen is often wary of the homeless citizen because of the homeless citizen's appearance, that is, the quality of his clothes are less and his rituals for cleanliness are different (but perceived as less). Besides the obvious class distinctions, there is an even deeper dystopic relation between the homeless citizen, the suited citizen, and the American government.

The United States' of America fails to make use of the homeless person's productive and reproductive potential. For example, the homeless person, at best, is given a little aid and is often ignored by the government and its well-off citizens. This leaves the homeless citizenry, a major source of production, out of the labor force. One might argue that this is because the capitalist environment does not necessitate the homeless citizen's employment and would only cause an overproduction in goods. However, this neglects the homeless citizen's ability to become a productive citizen in his or her own right; the homeless citizen, once he or she has obtained enough capital, becomes a consumer. Others might argue that the American government's small attempts at making the homeless productive are part of the dystopic problem. This group says that homelessness is a necessary part of any capitalistic system. In other words, in order to have functional capitalism, logic necessitates that there must be a bottom. Unfortunately, this definition correlates homeless with unemployed. A person can be unemployed and still have shelter; however, a person who is homeless is still by definition homeless. The fact is, the American government, due to its lack of support of the homeless, and many citizens for their lack of concern for the homeless, are fine neglecting them because of their lower economic status. Even allowing for the necessity of the homeless in a capitalist system, this only strengthens the argument that the United State's as a bearer of capitalism is a dystopic environment. Similar to Foucault's description of binaries, where there is the branding of those in society as mad or sane, dangerous or harmless, so also does modern American society brand the homeless. There is still a great disparity between classes. There are those who have property, and those who do not, those who have money, and those who do not, those who have jobs, and those who do not. Focault says that ths is a "constant division between the normal and the abnormal" (199). Some might argue that ridding the world of the homeless would lead to a more utopic environment. However, this would only bring about the perception of a healed problem. The idea of binaries would remain; it would simply be the next lower class which would be subject to derogation and neglect. Furthermore, the neglect of a human being is a sign of a dystopic environment and the elimination of a lower class through neglect only provides proof of America as a dystopia. Unfortunately, this solution only highlights America's dystopic problems with class distinctions.

Even the United States' educational system resembles a dystopia. Foucault agrees with this assertion, saying, that schools "must not simply train docile children; it must also make it possible to supervise the parents…" Here, admittedly, Foucault is referring to religious schools where it is necessary for the school to produce children with a certain amount of piety and morality. Often, American religious schools start from the ground up, beginning with clothing. Similar to dystopic novels, children in a religious school sometimes must wear a uniform. As is often the case with dystopias, these uniforms are meant to serve as a method of discipline and allegedly functions to prevent violence. As a method of discipline, even before the students arrive at the school they are already forced to enter into a certain mindset, unifying and conforming to the school's agenda. Some might say that as this is a religious school and thus not part of the American public school system, the link between educational dystopias and America is invalid. However, the American government does provide at least some support in the form of vouchers and thus has ties to the religious educational system. Second, the argument was never about specifically the American government, but about the United States' of America as a whole. Third, the public school system itself has many of the same symptoms (many public schools do use uniforms) , some even more apparent than a religious school.

Foucault's conception of discipline is prominent in public school. For example, the simple conception of the school bell prepares children for American dystopic life. After the bell, an observer would see droves of children forming up in single file lines. This is very similar to the droves of mindless drones who head off to do government work in dystopic fiction. Year after year in public school, the school bell persists. As a child, the concept of time and deadlines is almost non-existent. However, as exposure to this bell continues, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, students begin to conform their lives to rigid schedules determined by the bell. The bell is symbolic for the rules present in a dystopic society. It says, metaphorically, "You have thirty minutes to eat lunch then back to work" or "Now you may go home, but remember, the bell rings at 7:45 tomorrow." This reinforcing of rules is a discipline and a real world example of Foucault's Panopticism. Other examples abound. One could go on and on about how the pledge and patriotic songs are similar to a dystopic brainwashing.

In dystopian literature, the lower class often suffers from a lack of accurate, historical knowledge, due to revisionist history in its dystopic culture. The United States' is no different. American public schools influence a young citizen's knowledge of history. For several hours a day, a person sits in front of another, allegedly wiser and more educated individual and is expected to swallow that information whole. The concept of a class of people who have the information imposing facts on those who do not have the facts is evidence of dystopic America. For example, if the history teacher teaches revisionist history such as the nobility of Thomas Jefferson while omitting his life as a slave owner, the student, not knowing any better, believes the teacher. Similarly, in 1984, the citizens were also taught revisionist history. Some might say that America's teaching is wholly different than 1984, as America is self-correcting through free speech and the allowance and provision in schools for students to disagree. However, what is at issue isn't the allowance of disagreement, rather it is that students are often not informed enough to disagree. How many students truly know their history from multiple perspectives? Instead, America is filled with students who only know that America has a "glorious" past with that little thing called slavery tucked somewhere in the middle. This perspective of the United States' is dystopic as well.

Often in dystopic literature, the citizens of the oppressive government love the government and stand beside its principles regardless of its actions. Once again, in 1984 the people love their government and swallow the history given to them. In the movie Equilibrium, the situation is the same. The totalitarian government says that it is the rest of the world filled with hate and that the state's way is the more civilized way. Some might disagree with this assessment, saying that today's America is clearly one in which the government is under terrible scrutiny, that the people's distrust of government is proof that America is not a dystopia. On the contrary, America is a dystopia. Despite its supposed distrust for the government, the most that happens when a citizen is illegally arrested and locked up for months on end is a loud media circus which is played in the background at work. No large amounts of citizens take up picket signs, protesting at the disgusting abuse of freedom. Instead, citizens cling to the old maxim, "America is still the best nation on the planet."

Despite their apparent love and ability to customize, Americans live in a dystopic society. Similar to both the novel and the movie 1984, citizens are under almost constant surveillance and fear a departure from the norm. These fears have been realized through the arrest and detaining of several citizens outside of constitutional boundaries. Also, American citizens are broken up into two classes, the haves and the have-nots, those with property and those without. Citizens then become the means of production and reproduction of consumer activity. As a result, equality and liberty have become bywords, slogans for first the government, second, the home owners and frequent consumers, and third, those who hope to become home owners and frequent consumers.

Works Cited

    1984. Dir. Michael Radford. Perfs: John Hurt, Richard Burton.Atlantic Releasing

Corporation. 1984

Altusser, Louise. "Ideology and the Ideological State Apparatuses." 1970.

Equilibrium. Dir. Kurt Wimmer. Christian Bale. Dimension Films. 2002.

Foucalt, Michael. Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison. "Panopticism." 195-

228. 2nd ed. New York: New York. Vintage Books. 1995.

    Marx, Karl. The Communist Manifesto. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1988.

Orwell, George. 1984. New York: New York. New American Library. 1961.

The United States Constitution.

<http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.preamble.html>

All rights are reserved. No publishing, reproducing, altering, or distributing any portion of this without the author's permission.


 


 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

312; Class; Video; Thesis

This is a video which is being posted for English 312. It is in response to an assignment where each student must post a video and a thesis with that video.


Secular humanists preach that humanity has morally improved over its existence, yet humans are flawed. Humanity's basic, yet morally corrupt instinct to kill still thrives. From the Communist Manifesto to 1984, violence and power even dominates literature. Due to its portrayal of the negative aspects of the human condition, that humanity eventually result to violence to solve its problems, the five minutes which best capture that condition occur when Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp, and Doc Holiday, face off against outlaws at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone.





Wednesday, November 5, 2008

312 Response Paper; My Country, A Dystopia

This is an essay that I wrote for an English class. Constructive comments are welcome.

All rights are reserved. No publishing, reproducing, altering, or distributing any portion of this without the author's permission.


My Country, 'tis of who?

The United States of America was founded on the principles of equality and liberty. These principals have guided this country into a period in history where gender and racial prejudices have disintegrated to the point where anyone from any race or gender can become leader of this country. However, despite these advances, this country has not achieved its goal of a "more perfect union," rather it shows signs that it is becoming less perfect every day. Due to the erosion of individual liberties, an increase a dramatic increase in surveillance, and an ever –widening disparity between two classes, the United States of America is devolving from a nation of freedom into a nation of fear, threatening to tear apart the country socially and economically; The United States' of America isn't becoming a dystopia, it is a dystopia.

Like a dystopic novel, the United States' increase in surveillance puts fear into the hearts of its people. For example, in novel 1984, the government of Oceania uses the pervasive television screen to spy on people. This is no different from the modern day security officer, overlooking the constant influx of surveillance footage and reporting anything suspicious. In fact, this is Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon personified (Foucalt "Panopticism"). However, unlike the Panopticon, the modern day surveillance system is ripe for abuse. Whereas Foucalt's panopticism describes a perfect system where everyone, including the jailer, is under surveillance, those in charge of modern day surveillance are left to their own discretion. Oversight is done through visits, not through constant viewing of actions. As such, the utopia envisioned by Foucalt where the jailers are equal to the imprisoned is never realized. Instead, the United States' continues that path toward a dystopia by giving power to some and none to others. The citizen and his or her liberties are at the mercy of the police system.

Similar to a dystopia, American citizens have in the last eight years lost several liberties, specifically, the right to a public trial by jury. Similar to 1984, where the government can detain and torture a citizen of Oceania, the United States' government can now knock on a citizen's door and detain that citizen for an indefinite amount of time, all under the guise of the citizen being a possible "terrorist." This is done, allegedly, to protect the people of the United States', fulfilling that important part of the Constitution's Preamble which charges the government with insuring "domestic tranquility" and "providing for the common defense." There is no doubt that the government must protect its citizens, but the line between the terrorist and the advocate is too blurred to allow this to be the definition that permits a violation of the constitutional right to a public trial by a jury.

Some might argue that the United States' is simply doing what is necessary to protect the country until the threat of terrorism has passed. These people would argue that the powers granted to the government are temporary, and are a necessary means to achieve a necessary end, the safety of the citizens it is charged with protecting. However, there is no indicator that the government will ever abdicate their new powers. Instead, it embraces them and does so without apology. This causes one to pause, and wonder, is power the goal of the government?

This goal of power is dystopic for several reasons. For example, in
the movie 1984, there is a scene where the main character Winston is being tortured by the character O'Brian. O'Brian tells Winston that real power is to make someone believe that two equals five. Similarly, the goal of the American government appears to be the gaining of power to make its citizens into worker bees and robots who go about their daily life, working and buying. Similar to Marx's Communist Manifesto (though this author is no supporter of communism), the United States' government seems to care less for its peoples' happiness (unless their unhappiness undermines the governments own power), but is more concerned with keeping its citizens on the train of consumerism, stopping at every shopping center and convenience store to spend their hard earned wages. This dystopic vision is the opposite of a utopia, where class systems have been abolished, but is more similar to the concept that citizens are a means of production, both the production of capital and of goods. Similar to Altusser's scheme of production and reproduction in his essay, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatus's," the United States' requires the production and reproduction of their citizen's consumer action.

This goes hand-in-hand with the government's desire to keep peace through surveillance because, in order to assure frequent consumer spending (as opposed to theft of goods), more surveillance must be employed. More surveillance equals more power to the state. The state then uses that power to keep its citizens under control. If a citizen is abnormal in his or her behavior, the government technically has the right to detain the citizen. Hence, it can be seen here that the government and spending are united. Also, a result of this symbiotic relationship, anyone who goes against this system becomes part of a separate class of citizen, even in the eyes of other citizens. For example, just as the outer party is separate from the inner party in 1984, so also are frequent, traditional consumers and property owners separated from those who are not. One only needs to look at the disparity between the homeless and home owners to see the difference. The homeless citizen is more often the victim of discrimination by the police apparatus, whereas a clean-cut citizen in a suit is looked upon with admiration. Despite this visual disparity and the alleged class distinctions, the police apparatus can be no more assured that the suited citizen is anymore or any less a danger to the local citizenry than the homeless. The dystopic vision of America continues. Similarly, the suited citizen is often wary of the homeless citizen because of the homeless citizen's appearance, that is, the quality of his clothes are less and his rituals for cleanliness are different (but perceived as less). Besides the obvious class distinctions, there is an even deeper dystopic relation between the homeless citizen, the suited citizen, and the American government.

The United States' of America fails to make use of the homeless person's productive and reproductive potential. For example, the homeless person, at best, is given a little aid and is often ignored by the government and its well-off citizens. This leaves the homeless citizenry, a major source of production, out of the labor force. One might argue that this is because the capitalist environment does not necessitate the homeless citizen's employment and would only cause an overproduction in goods. However, this neglects the homeless citizen's ability to become a productive citizen in his or her own right; the homeless citizen, once he or she has obtained enough capital, becomes a consumer. Unfortunately, this solution only highlights America's dystopic problems with class distinctions.

Despite their apparent love and ability to customize, Americans live in a dystopic society. Similar to both the novel and the movie 1984, citizens are under almost constant surveillance and fear a departure from the norm. These fears have been realized through the arrest and detaining of several citizen outside of constitutional boundaries. Also, American citizens are broken up into two classes, the haves and the have-nots, those with property and those without. Citizens then become the means of production and reproduction of consumer activity. As a result, equality and liberty have become bywords, slogans for first the government, second, the home owners and frequent consumers, and third, those who hope to become home owners and frequent consumers.

Works Cited

1984. Dir. Michael Radford. Perfs: John Hurt, Richard Burton.Atlantic Releasing

Corporation. 1984

Altusser, Louise. "Ideology and the Ideological State Apparatuses." 1970.

Foucalt, Michael. Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison. "Panopticism." 195-

228. 2nd ed. New York: New York. Vintage Books. 1995.

Marx, Karl. The Communist Manifesto. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1988.

Orwell, George. 1984. New York: New York. New American Library. 1961.

The United States Constitution.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.preamble.html


All rights are reserved. No publishing, reproducing, altering, or distributing any portion of this without the author's permission.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

E312: Fahrenheit 451 Group Contribution

For our Fahrenheit 451 group I contributed several elements to our presentation, much of it behind the scenes.

First, I facilitated a group meeting where we set the first set of deadlines. Second, I later sset out specific deadlines for the group to meet including when to read the book, select the article, and watch the movie.

Third, I set up a group message board using Proboards.com so that the group might have more fluid, consistent communication. On the message boards, I made several posts regarding possible articles for the group discussion as well as several points of interest in the book.

Fourth, as the rest of the group, I formulated several questions to present to the class in order that the discussion might remain natural and flowing. Those questions included:

1. What are some examples of separate classes in this society?
2. How does Beaty try to manipulate the main character?
3. What value do the citizens of Fahrenheit 451 place on knowledge?

Finally, during the actual presentation, I facilitated the discussion by attempting to draw in the rear, often unspoken part of the class, as well as help the group transition from theme to theme.

As for what I have learned as part of the group: I learned that the symbolism is the book is more prominent that previously thought e.g. the Phoenix. Also, I learned that there are several themes present in the novel. The first is that happiness, a main theme in Fahrenheit 451, also proves to be the main focus for its citizens. Second, that knowledge is harmful to that happiness.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Untitled poem

Unexpected, not rejected,
Out of the corner of my eye,
Emotions recollected,
Surprise, not demise,
Bold and apparent,
That God heard my cry.

Pickin' up the beat.

Fast, swift, all of a sudden,
Think, much'n not sleeping much and
In a good way, stopped, but moving,
Doing
Hollar'in and Hoo'in,
New plans are screwin', that is workin'n holdin',
In a good way
Hopefully to stay.

Slowin' down the beat.

Slow down the beat.
Or Pick it up
It doesn't matter
With all that wonderful laughter
And the other line and a heart a pitter-patter.
It's all more than alright. More than alright.
And in sight. The Light and the light.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dancing with Ghosts; Rough Draft

This is a short story that I wrote for an English class. It is still in the draft phase. Constructive comments are welcome.

All rights are reserved. No publishing, reproducing, altering, or distributing any portion of this without the author's permission.


 


 

Dancing with Ghosts


 

His name was George Green and his daughter was a ghost, or so she kept telling him. "Daddy! Look at me! I'm flying!" said Katrina.

She was dressed in a white, semi-transparent robe and wore her white leotard underneath. The robe was her mother's.

    Cute, 8-year-olds are so cute, thought George.

    "Yes honey. I see that. And a beautiful ghost you are!" said George.

It was a year ago today, and Katrina's lively personality spoke volumes of the half that was her mom. Things were never the same since her mother Tina, his wife, died. He was just now coming to grips with that night. After all, it was all his fault. It was going to just be him at the play.

That night, they had all gone to see Faustus at the Geoffrey Theater. Tina argued that at 7, Katrina was too young to see such a gruesome tale. A man being torn apart by devils was too much for a child.

"She probably won't even understand it," Tina said.

George argued back.

"It is important for our daughter to be cultured. I want her to get a real education. The garbage that public schools are spewing out these hardly even counts as teaching," said George.

"Well, not everyone can go to a private, preppy school like you did George," said Tina.

"That is exactly my point Tina. Faustus is a classic, a wonderful play that will teach our young Katrina what good entertainment is all about, not like this anime crap," said George.

"Fine George. She'll probably be scared out of her wits and won't go to bed for days, but if this is what you want then she can go, but I'm coming too."

They got in the car and went to the play. It was a beautiful production. Perfect lighting. Wonderful acting. The final act of the evening was a tragedy.

While on their way home, some Coca-Cola truck driver dropped a cassette tape onto the passenger floor. One grab, one swerve, wrong lane, one life gone.

Oh how he missed Tina!

"Daddy! Were you even watching me?!"

George snapped back from his thoughts. Katrina stood in front of him, her brown eyes cross squinted in anger.

"Wha-, Wha' was that honey? Do it again. Sorry, daddy was distracted."

"I was trying to show you how I was dancing with mommy. See?" She smiled and her feet moved.

He looked at her. She held her left hand high. Her feet moved forward, then backward. One, two,three. One,two,three. One,two,three. The white robe flew through the air and Katrina was a blur. It looked so natural. He wondered how his daughter had dealt with Tina's death so remarkably.

The first few weeks were difficult. Lots of crying. A body in the grave and no one but dad was home. Just dad. Then, one morning, Katrina was all smiles. She told him how she had a dream the night before that mommy was in heaven, but sometimes God allowed her to visit Katrina.

Dreams, kids live on dreams, he thought at the time. Now he knew it. Katrina was alive but he was still dead. Katrina was dancing and he was standing still.

His daughter looked over at him, all smiles and twirls, and then came to a sudden halt.

"Daddy. Why are you crying?"

George quickly rubbed his wet eyes with his right hand, but the tears wouldn't stop flowing. George sank to his feet for the thousandth time in a year. He promised himself he would never let Katrina see him like this, but he couldn't take it anymore. Sometimes, the right combination of scenes and sights opens up the heart. He could only cry.

The smile on Katrina's face disappeared. She ran over to her father, her barefoot feet pitter-pattering on the wood floor. She put her arms around him.

"Daddy, are you crying because of mommy?"

Mommy. More tears.

"But daddy, mommy is right here!" said Katrina, pointing to the empty space on her right.

Katrina and her wild imagination. Reality check! But her couldn't tell her that. She was too happy.

"Daddy. Come on. Just try to dance with her and you'll see. Mommy isn't dead!"

He almost blew up at her, at this beautiful 8-year-old daughter of his, but her brown eyes stopped him. They looked just like hers. He decided to take his daughter's advice.

    He wiped the final tears from his eyes and stood up. He looked down at his daughter. She was smiling again. He held his left arm high, then did his best to bring his right arm in a curve behind the imaginary character.

    "No daddy, you're doing it wrong. Bring the right hand a little higher. Didn't they teach you anything at your school?" said Katrina.

    He did as she said, then Katrina began to clap the beat. One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three.

    George tired of this exercise, but Katrina was enjoying it.

    "Lose yourself in the music daddy. Look into mom's eyes."

    He imagined those eyes, right in front of him, her pink-lipped smile curved with joy. And there she was. He was dancing with his Tina.

    He heard laughter and looked over his shoulder at his daughter.

    "Daddy, you're smiling!"


 

All rights are reserved. No publishing, reproducing, altering, or distributing any portion of this without the author's permission.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I See You:Rough Draft

This is a short story that I wrote for an English class. It is still in the draft phase (isn't everything?). Constructive comments are welcome.


All rights are reserved. No publishing, reproducing, altering, or distributing any portion of this without the author's permission.

He wanted to go to sleep. Pushing 7 A.M. he had just finished a long night already and now some other bozo-on-the-run was going to keep him up. Not that he wasn't glad perform his duty. He loved performing his duty.

Black monitors filled every inch of the white wall space in the room. Each monitor showed a live, first person feed from each Op Sec team member. They were in their usual attire: black pants, navy-blue trench coat. Both hid body armor underneath. An armored helmet hid their faces. He envied them, but they weren't his job; the center monitor was. Satellite Imaging.

"Move in with Satcom 4, David. Nice and easy.," said Thomas, the operations leader. He was big, burly, black man with a bald head. What he lacked in hair he more than made up with in brains; the guy was a genius. In this room it was just Thomas and David.

The perfect pair of Governmentals, thought David.

Outside, it was dry and sunny, the perfect day to go looking for free-speech pond scum. David pressed a few buttons on the computer, and the tiny black dot on the center monitor grew into a human face. The disease up-close-and personal, just like he liked it.

Live from Capital City, thought David. You're on Candid Camera. I see you Bozo.

David watched the man on the monitor. I see youThey always looked like that, didn't they? All the makings of their kind. Bold, feeling entitled. Any moment now, he would be surrounded by a dozen navy-blue, coat wearing, badge brandishing officers from Op Sec. Then, bang. He had it coming.

As a child, David had learned two important things: there were two kinds of people, the good guys and the bad guys. This guy was definitely a bad guy. He saw the news reports.

"Five minutes until intercept boys and girls, just hold tight. Gotta bring 'im nice and quiet. We don't want this one to go kablooey," said Thomas.

David smiled. He knew that with Thomas in charge, there was no way of this op going bad. The smell of strawberry Pop Tarts brought back a memory of the previous ops leader. He was a softy who allowed the enemy to get away. Even when he caught them, he still only arrested them. Arrest? Who does that anymore? The man was a rusty cog. About this time last year the Navy-Coats got him too.. David was glad when they removed that old gear and brought in Thomas. Thomas was a man who would do the right thing.

The Constitution was clear, swift justice was important, thought David. A speedy trial by a jury of your peers, right out there on the street where they catch 'em.

"Alright David, I want you to start the recording now. They're going to need this for the news tonight. A nice little clip to let the people know that we're serving them," said Thomas.

David's thin fingers tapped the buttons marked RECORD and ENTER. A red light flashed on.

He suspected that tonight's broadcast was going to draw a record number of viewers. This was their leader after all. He couldn't wait to get home and watch it himself. David was still smiling. Thanks God he was a part of it all.

God, a funny expression, best to be careful with that thought.

As for God, David thought the idea of him was repulsive. So many senseless deaths in the name of God. Bombings. Murders. Good thing the government stepped in and put a stop to that business. He loved the government.

Five years from now, I'll probably be running the show, thought David. Why not? I've been faithful.

"Two minutes to intercept. Check your gear. Remember, make it clean and fast. No ugly scene." said Thomas into his headset.

The headset wrapped around Thomas's head like a crown, thought David. Someday, I will wear that crown.

On the monitors, David watched the Op Sec team members pull clips out of their guns before shoving them back in.

Something didn't look right about the ammunition, thought David.

David looked at his center monitor. Yup, the Bozo was still clueless. He was about to meet up with a plain clothes officer, someone who had been undercover in the Liberty underground for three years. This was David's favorite part, the part where the bad guy got nailed. A bullet in the head. Yum. David licked his lips. He loved his job. Sleep? What was he thinking?

The man on the center monitor shook hands with the officer.

Here it comes, thought David.

"One minute to intercept. Move the vans," said Thomas.

It was like a wonderful opera. Each member had a part to play in the capture of this Liberty leader. Oboes and clarinets, trumpets and trombones. Drivers and gunners, David and Thomas.

David watched the monitors as several vans, some black, some white, moved in from directions opposite the man on the center monitor.

One word.

"Go," said Thomas.

A flurry of activity. The man was on the ground, hands tied to his legs.

He looked like a helpless baby, thought David.

Several of the officers removed their helmets and read the man his rights. Then, ten of the officers moved to the man's left. One stood directly in front of the man. The final at the rear.

It was a trial. This was how they did things. It was so much more efficient than the old days. No more clogged prisons taking taxpayer money, no more corruption in the justice system. 10 officers were the jury, 1 the judge, one the baliff and executioner. No more scummy lawyers. The accused was left to their own defense. This wouldn't take long.

David watched the center monitor. The man was shouting something about rights and life or some nonsense. The judge looked at the jury. Zero. Not guilty. Ten hands went up. Guilty.

The executioner brought up a pistol in front of the man's head.

"Cut the feed now," said Thomas, but David was too mesmerized by the sight. He loved this part.

"David, I said cut the feed now."

Thomas walked over and depressed the RECORD button, but never made it to the ESCAPE key. The center monitor showed it all.

David kept waiting for the gun to fire, but it never fired. Instead, the Op Sec team member holstered his sidearm, untied the man, and helped him to his feet.

For the first time, David spoke to Thomas.

"Thomas, what just happened? Why wasn't that man executed. He was supposed to be executed," said David.

Thomas looked at David. David's eyes were wide, like a confused child.

"The man is being set free because he stands for something much more than you or I. He stands for what this country used to be before it lost its way."

"Lost its way? But, Thomas, the country is wonderful!" said David.

"It was, and it will be again someday. I'm sorry you had to see that," said Thomas.

David looked back at the monitor. The man was gone. The Op Sec team was gone. David glanced at the other monitors. White snow. Their cameras had been disconnected. When had that happened?

David looked back at Thomas holding a black gun. Bang.

All rights are reserved. No publishing, reproducing, altering, or distributing any portion of this without the author's permission.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Response to a webCT post on clockwork orange

The following is a response for a class. It is a discussion strucutred around the film, Clockwork Orange:

>I know that sounds a bit crazy>but if the police and society in general did everything they could and>actually prevented gang activity, what purpose would they serve?

First, what purpose would police serve if they weren't striving to maintain order and eliminate chaos? A police force which stops at only doing things halfway because they are afraid of job security is a pointless police force. Also, if the police force did actually eliminate crime and chaos, that doesn't mean that the newly attained status wouldn't need to be maintained. No, the police would still have a job, at least until people are morally perfect and all life goes like clockwork (no pun intended). As for the movie doing a better job at rehabilitating criminals today, really? The character in the film is no more rehabbed than when he went in. He still dreams of psychotic deaths. Heck, the man identifies with the roman who beat Christ because he likes the idea of death and torture! No, the film's prison system is as much a disaster as our own.

Previous Post: X [name redacted]writes:>Watching Clockwork Orange today in class made me think about the world>in which the story takes place. It's obviously set in England and some>may say that the world is unidentifiable with our own. "Our society is>not like that, it's not THAT crazy". But it is. Let me first address>what's going on in the movie. The film seems to draw a fine line>between the total chaos we see at the beginning of the film where Alex>and his comrades ravage the town and do what they want and in the latter>part of the film we see complete order and institutionalization (which>you'll see later in the film). It almost seems as though the society>portrayed in the film intends for the gangs to act the way they do. >They serve a purpose (the gangs) and create a purpose for the>authorities, which is to uphold order. I know that sounds a bit crazy>but if the police and society in general did everything they could and>actually prevented gang activity, what purpose would they serve? That's>where contemporary society comes into play. How many times have we>heard about gang related activity on the news and how the authorities>know who the gang is, where they hang out, what they're business is, and>then nothing is done until after all the blood is spilled. Sometimes>it's subtle and sometimes it's blatantly obvious that they want us to>kill each other just so they can pick up the pieces and say they're>"heros". Where the film differs from real life however is they're>attempt to rehabilitate Alex. Today's prison system fails miserably to>even attempt to rehabilitate our convicted felons. We either keep them>in jail or promptly send them back out onto the street to keep the cycle>going. It's organized chaos.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We Are Watching You -Starbucks

The following is an ethnography and analysis of a local Starbucks. It was done in response to a homework assignment. The location of the Starbucks was omitted for my own reasons.

We Are Watching You, Signed Starbucks

The following observations were made at the Starbucks on [redacted] and

[redacted]. With regard to the clerks: their uniforms were nearly identical in color and

style. Each clerk wore a black hat with a Starbucks logo, a black, collared shirt, and a

green apron. Females usually wore their hair in pony-tales while the males had short,

shaved hair. Above and behind the cash registers were black security globes which have

hide in themselves security cameras. The cash registers themselves record each

transaction. Customers line up single file in front of the register to purchase their choice

item of consumption then proceed to an area to pick up various condiments. The clerks

appear to make several errors in making the drinks, making the drink "on the house."

They charge the customer and make the drinks in a robotic fashion, delivering standard

lines to customers such as, "Hi, what can we get you today?"

In Starbucks, the clerks represent the lower (but not lowest) class in a

dystopian society. First, they are under constant observation by the black security globes

(not just for the customers, one can assume that the globes also watch the clerks to

make sure that nothing is stolen). Second, as previously stated, each transaction is

recorded on the register, making sure that it balances out at the end of the day. These

two surveillance measures are similar to the Bentham's Panopticon, that because they

are under constant surveillance, the clerks will (presumably) both perform within

expectations (maybe even exceed them to gain a reward) and act honestly (for fear of

the possibility of being caught in an illicit or illegal act). Foucault would love this as it is a

fulfillment of his writing, that the Panopticon has expanded its aims beyond the

punishment of prisons into daily life. Third, the clerks conform in their appearance both in

the clothing and the hairstyles that they wear. This trait is common in dystopic novels,

certainly 1984, where the outer-party members must wear blue jump suits. Fourth, they

perform their tasks with robotic (though imperfect) efficiency: Take the order, blend the

drink, and call out the name of the customer. The same is with the labor section in

dystopic literature where efficiency for the party/government (in this case the Starbucks

corporation) is key. Lastly, they make the drinks for the customers and give the drink

away for free if an error is made. The customers that come into Starbucks represent the

typical dystopic superior (the Inner party in 1984, the gorillas in Planet of the Apes, and

the high government officials in movies like Equilibrium). They get to wear different

clothing, act in an independent manner, and are served by the lower, inferior class (the

Starbucks' employees).

Eugenics Could Result in the Lessening of Humanity

The following was taken from a bulletin board comment on Eugenics. My response has been updated since then, most of the differences were the correction of typos. The name of the poster has been deleted to protect their identity.

>For once i am the first to write something here. *sinister laugh*. i was wanting to put

out

>the question about Modern Eugenics. i am certainly not agreeing that what was done in

>the past with eugenics was the right thing to do or that it was in any way founded on

>scientific concrete, but i am very curious to know what other people think of making an

>improvement on the gene pool of humans. for instance, first thing that will have to be

>done is doing away with known genetic diseases that could be passed down to a non

>effected offspring but could still be prevalent in the next generation. this is a very

>realistic thing to accomplish and it would make a whole lot of people happier since they

>are not effected by the disease and that their guardians do not need to have special

>care for them. if we can thin out (humanely of course) the herd through selecting

>healthier attributes or traits of people then over time more and more people will have

>better healthier lives and not be burned with diseases that they have no control over.

>What does any one else think about the creating of a healthier society by naturally

>selecting healthier traits. i know everyone is going to say Hitler tried that, but we wont

try

>killing millions of people but rather have the best of their genome be expressed


I see several problems with utilizing eugenics, especially with the utilitarian way proposed

here. Disease is horrible. No doubt. But how do we avoid becoming the type of society

portrayed in the movie Gattaca? Following this path would lead to two different

classes of people: the genetically augmented/grown and the naturally born. I realize that

this is a slippery slope, but what would keep conflict between the two classes from

erupting in a sort of war?

Second, and this is going to probably going to start a few fires, but aren't there good

things that are gained from death, disease, and pain? Technologically, the amount we

have discovered today is due to research in the past. Solving once and for all those

problems would stifle innovation. Also, certain problem solving skills come

about from dealing with disease. One could say that we are utilizing those problem

solving skills through eugenics, but aren't we also in the end stifling their evolution?

Third, coping skills come through dealing with these problems. By taking a shortcut

through the use of eugenics, we will be eliminating an important stage in their

development.

Fourth, random occurrences also help develop those coping mechanisms. If we eliminate

random occurrence from our development, we become nothing but a predictable machine,

albeit flesh and bone instead of wires. Somehow, this seems to degrade our humanity,

and in this case, the end of disease does not justify the means we use to get there.

That brings me to my final point:

Who are we to determine how humanity ends up? We can barely look past our noses.

Do you want to trust eugenics with our future?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Star Trek Generation: It is about time. Multi-touch desks for school=LCARS

via The Guardian UK:

"...The interactive multi-touch desks look and act like a large version of an Apple iPhone...

'The new desk can be both a screen and a keyboard. It can act like a multi-touch whiteboard and several students can use it at once,' said Dr Liz Burd, who led the university's Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) group that developed them."

http://www.guardianfeeds.co.uk/c/288/f/7511/s/1e802c9/l/0L0Sguardian0O0Ceducation0C20A0A80Csep0C170Citforschools0Belearning0Dgusrc0Frss0Gfeed0Ftechnologyfull/story01.htm


Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Response to Howe and Rorty; 312; 1984


The Readings:

Howe. "1984--Utopia Reversed"

http://marxists.anu.edu.au/history/etol/writers/howe/1950/11/1984.htm

"The Last Intellectual in Europe: Orwell on Cruelty"
http://books.google.com/books?id=vpTxxYR7hPcC&pg=PA169&lpg=PA169&dq=Rorty's+%
22The+Last+Intellectual+in+Europe:+Orwell+on+Cruelty%
22&source=web&ots=mxGnRu8LCD&sig=w0YbKKxm55_24ms1wfN4ZqiPZdg&hl=en&sa=X
&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result

What I find interesting about Howe, is that most of his "inaccuracies" about Orwell's "novel" are simply conclusions that were reached based on studying history.

"No ruling class, at least within Western society, has yet been able to dispense with ideology..."

"[In 1984, the proletariat was] "so helpless and demoralized that the state need no longer fear them. Now we have no right to say that this never could happen, but we must also observe that it has not yet happened."

An appeal to past events is not adequate support for what may happen in the future. However, this is exactly what Howe does.

I wonder how many could have envisioned a world where not one, but two world wars would be fought back to back? I realize that Howe leaves room for the possibility of Orwell's future, but that he would call it an inaccuracy seems to be the wrong word, and in a discussion and a book where words themselves are up for debate, this seemed worthy of mention.

On Rorty:

"If we take care of freedom, truth can take care of itself. If we are ironic enough about

our final vocabularies, and curious enough about everyone else's, we do not have to

worry about whether we are in direct contact with moral reality, or whether we are

blinded by ideology, or whether we are being weakly 'relativistic'" (176-77).

I am going to play devil's advocate on this one.

The first line is laughable. To take care of freedom first assumes that freedom is an important moral reality, the most important as it is first to be considered, without first qualifying it as such with Truth (Truth with a capital T is necessary, because in this sense we are talking about an absolute truth). What Rorty is saying is that by the very nature of freedom, the truth, moral and otherwise, will come about as a course of nature. We live in a society where free speech is not only allowed but (at least by the public) exhorted, yet how much closer to the truth is each individual, or the whole social organism, because of the allowed freedom? I am not extolling totalitarianism or downplaying the importance of free speech to find that truth, I am just trying to point out the logical inconsistencies by Rorty.

"Orwell helps us see that it just happened that rule in Europe passed into the hands of

people who pitied the humiliated and dreamed of human equality, and that it may just

happen that the world will wind up being ruled by people who lack any such sentiments

or ideas" (184-85)."

I don't think Orwell helps us see that the world may end up being ruled by a kind-hearted people who want nothing for themselves, at least by humanity's design. The opposite is true. Orwell tells us that even with the best of intention, eventually those who have a desire for power and to rule for power's end will rise to the top of society. Such people tend to flaunt solutions to economic and social problems, and often only deliver a twisted version of the promise. This isn't to say that a benevolent ruler cannot come to power, merely that benevolent rulers are more rare than malevolent rulers, and that it seems only a matter of time (because of this statistic) before the latter rises and either seizes or inherits that powerful position.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Freewrite poem

Whatever pain is around the
Corner,
Whatever joy is around the
Bend,
I will praise my
Father
My Healer, My Friend.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Class 308. Second Short Story. Rough Draft

Hey all. This is my SECOND piece of prose due in my English 308 class. Give it a read. Let me know what you think

Updated 9/8/08 at 6:43 AM

It was boring. So boring. For some reason, some high-and-mighty official deemed this rectangular room with walls painted white fit to be called a classroom. I, Mike, was the creative type. Give me a black-bristled paint brush or a green coloring pencil and I could turn this room into something brilliant. Instead, reading, writing, and arithmetic were the order for the day, every day. If the teacher, Ms. Birch, could have had half a brain, the right side, then maybe I would have listened more.

Instead, the tall, thin teacher with black rimmed glasses wouldn't stop droning on about how some culture (because that was the word the book used) eight thousand years ago, give or take a millennium, slaughtered another culture. Not that this was a boring topic, you see, it was just that I had my eyes set on someone special, someone who made going to school worthwhile.

Her name was Katie. Katie was smart and beautiful. Whenever the teacher posed a particularly peculiar question to the class, Katie's hand was always the first to shoot straight up. Often, she would stroke her long, black hair, look at me with her emerald-green, cat-like eyes, and smile. When she smiled, I soared. I was in love. So what if I was only thirteen years old?

"Class, please open your textbooks to page 140. Get with a partner and work on the exercises on that page," said Ms. Birch. "Katie, would you please help out Mike with this exercise?"

This was my lucky day, or so I thought.

Katie slid out of her chair, picked up her heavy history book, and walked toward me. My heart pounded hard, trying to escape my chest and meld with hers. Any second now I would have the girl of my dreams sitting next to me, talking to me, reading with me. Katie approached my table, showed me a smile with snowy white teeth and luscious lips, and sent me straight to heaven.

"May I sit here?" said Katie, pointing to the chair on my right.

Her words, like an angelic melody, landed softly on my beating heart.

Sit here? I thought. Of course you can sit here! I would never deny an angel!

Unfortunately, my carefully crafted words spilled out of my mouth in a garbled waterfall of nonsense, their syllables in shambles as they hit the rocks of my immovable tongue.

Still, she smiled. Oh, what a smile! Then, like a graceful doe, she walked around the desk and folded her legs beneath its table.

"Okay Mike, open your book to the page," she said, pointing to my still unopened book. "Page 140, just like Ms. Birch told us to."

Katie took my book from the table, opened it to the page, and pointed to a paragraph that wanted us to write a summary of the chapter's "key terms." Key terms were boring and writing with a pencil was particularly frustrating, but Katie made the experience exhilarating.

"Mike, take the pencil like we practiced and write out the definitions. Here, it's easy, watch me."

Then, I had an idea. I would show her my true feelings. The people in the movies mom and dad watched always did that.

I grasped the pencil that that was laying on the right side of my desk, opened the wide-ruled notebook, and began to scratch out in long, thick carbon markings what my mouth never seemed to be able to say. I checked to make sure Katie wasn't watching. Sure enough, her head was facing some guy in the corner of the room twirling a small, plastic football. I wrote my heart onto the paper.

The letter read, "Katie, I wanted to tell you that I love you. Since the beginning of the school year, I have not been able to stop thinking about you. When you look at me, my heart stops. When you smile, it starts again. Please be my girlfriend. Love, Mike."

I looked at the paper. Not all of the letters came out but the message was clear. Now it was time for the finishing touch, the
pi├Ęces de r├ęsistance, the drawing.

I took out a thin, red, colored pencil and began with several light, curved strokes. Then, I switched out the red for a deep, forest-green, and connected a few leaves to my red outline. It was almost done. I colored in the rose with an even deeper red, which was labeled, "ruby red," and finished the drawing. It was just like the movies.

I looked up from the picture and my eyes met Katie's.

"What is that Mike? Is that for me?"

I shook my head, dumbfounded, my face a brighter shade of red than that picture.

Katie took the paper and studied it. Light as it was, I was impressed that something so thin could contain all of my hopes and ambitions.

Katie turned to me, smiled wide, and said with her angelic voice, "Mike, that is so sweet. I love how you wrote your letters and the picture is absolutely beautiful. It's just that you're not exactly my type and I don't think that my boyfriend Tim would like it very much if I was your girlfriend."

I didn't understand. I told her my heart, like in the movies, and while the rose I drew her wasn't as real as on those films, it was real enough. I thought I had done it all right.

She was always so kind to me, helping me when I didn't understand math, smiling at me when I couldn't speak, helping me when I couldn't write.

She gave me back the razor-thin paper. It nearly tore in half as I took it from her. So this was what hell felt like.


All rights are reserved. No publishing, reproducing, altering, or distributing any portion of this without the author's permission.



Saturday, September 6, 2008

On The Burrito Prayer Movement


Read this from Randy Bohlender's blog. Convicting. Inspiring. All of the above.

http://rbohlender.blogspot.com/2008/09/burrito-prayer-movement.html

Saturday, August 30, 2008

308 Class assignment #1;Prose; Rough Draft

Hey all. This is my First piece of prose due in my English 308 class. Give it a read. Let me know what you think.

STUMPS

Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" played over the stereo speakers as a hand reached into a red and white box, and pulled out a thin cylinder of tobacco, nicotine, and God-knows-what-else. One stick went in the mouth, and the shorter, used one into the chrome, metal ashtray. The ashtray was nearly full. A light briefly lit a bearded face before being extinguished.

Thick cigarette smoke hung in the air over Jim as he removed the tiny, fine-threaded screws from the well-built computer chassis. As they turned counter-clockwise, the light screws fell into a pan below the chassis.

Clang! Clang Clang! Cling!

A single screw hit the smooth, cement floor.

Jim hated it when that happened. Two stumps for legs made what would normally be a simple inconvenience into an exercise in patience. When he was 19, Jim was drafted into the military to go fight in Vietnam. The stumps were a constant reminder of a day of unimaginable pain. Jim's best friend, Steve, a tall, raven-haired man, swift on his feet but not much for thinking, took a turn without looking and stepped on the wrong square foot of brush. The cost of the misstep was one landmine, one friend, and two legs, thanks to the shrapnel left behind.

Jim lifted himself up, his red and black, plaid, collared shirt rubbing up against the cushioning of a dirt-gray chair. Toned muscles and thick veins peaked through an opening in his left sleeve. One push and he was on the ground.

Jim picked up the screw and called his 16-year-old apprentice, Mark.

"Hey buddy! Can you give me a hand here?" said Jim, his deep voice echoing in the garage and down the hall of the building labeled, "Computer Technicians Repair Service."

He could have been a singer, his mother said once in the year following his tour in 'Nam, but the war had made him tough and hard, and a singer needed a soft heart to sing.

A black-haired teenager wearing a tight, white t-shirt, and blue jeans casually walked in the room. At 5'5", he was a short kid, but even a short kid was a giant next to a man with stumps for legs.

"Sure Jim. What's up?" said Mark.

Jim handed mark the screw.

"Get the electric drill, the one with the magnetic tip, and take apart the rest of this computer. We have to put in a new motherboard and get it back to Desert Industrial by tomorrow," said Jim.

Jim turned his back to Mark and grabbed the rubber pads he strapped to the stumps whenever he needed to walk, though he was pretty sure it looked more like waddling than walking.

"The motherboard?" said Mark. "It's almost the end of the day. I don't think that I can get this done by closing time."

"Mark, another day, another hour, another dollar, and that's how the big bucks are made," said Jim. They were the words he told Mark every time the kid complained, honest complaint or not.

Mark sighed, grabbed the electric drill, and sat in the chair.

Jim walked away, smiling as he headed out of the garage and down the hall to his office. He liked this kid.

The door to his office stood before Jim, a tall wooden door like old Edinburgh; it was Edinburgh with a doorknob. The 'Nam vet turned the knob, pushed the door open, and pulled himself into a brown, leather office chair. He put out his cigarette in a cup of dirty water that he kept beside a black, flatscreen computer monitor. His wife hated it when he smoked in the house.

Jim sat, and then slid back into the comfortable, leather chair.

Billing could wait, thought Jim. Just a few minutes of naptime and then he would go back to business.

One hour passed.

Crash! Bam!

Jim's eyes flung open, pupils dilated by the bright, orange sun. He heard a cry.

Quickly, Jim jumped from his Jeep to the ground, rushing toward the noise. Panic settled on Jim, his heart jumping in and out of his chest. The cry came again, bouncing off the straight line of teak trees ahead. Jim ran through down the line into thick smoke, the ground covered in black from blast craters left by flesh-ripping explosives. A tall, dark-haired man in army fatigues was screaming in pain. It was Steve! Steve was in pain! Jim rushed over to his friend and saw a bleeding hand. He looked into his friends eyes, expecting to see their light, crystalline blue, but instead they were a dark, mossy green!

The scene faded and the trees disappeared. Jim stood with two stumps on a cement floor, thick sweat stuck to his red and black plaid shirt, his eyes fastened on Mark.

"Jim? Are you okay? Sorry I startled you man. I accidentally cut myself with the screwdriver and knocked over the ash tray. I know you told me to use the electric drill but…"

The rest of Mark's sentence was a lost to Jim. His eyes were wide. What happened? Where was Steve?



All rights are reserved. No publishing, reproducing, altering, or distributing any portion of this without the author's permission.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Freewrite [very] short story

Note: A reminder, the Freewrites are written with little revision and are simply words being put down with ideas that pop into my head. Enjoy!


Tap, tap, tap.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Simon looked down at his keyboard.

Backspace.

"If only I could come up with an original story," thought Simon.

Tap, tap, tap

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap,tap

He got it.

It goes like this:

The winds blew softly on her soft skin as Layla sat on the springy, green grass under a warm sun. However, where most people enjoyed a nice day in nature, Layla could not care less. After all, the wind did what she told it to. It always did. So did the grass. And the trees. And the sun.

Layla stood up, bored with it all and walked down toward the path ahead, or rather the path that would be ahead. All it took was a push here, and shove there, and the path was made. The dirt just did what it was told. So boring! So unresponsive to what she felt in her heart.

Layla thought a jog might clear up her mind, maybe help her think of how to solve this longing. Oh how she longed for companionship, for love.

She did have her two friends. They have always been here too and could also do what she could. They all felt the same.

She spoke to them during her jog. It's a telepathy thing. Being one with each other and all. She needed them. They had an idea.

They appeared next to her, jogging and keeping pace. It's a teleportation thing.

They would create a new place, a place whose inhabitants would choose to do what they asked, instead of mechanically responding. A piece of cake? Not so much.

The three talked. It would be risky. The outcome was certain. At some point, the inhabitants would rebel and not do as asked. And when that happened, their newfound rebellious nature would carry them to destroy each other, where they lived, and worst of all, themselves. What to do, what to do?

One of them would have to go to that place and become one of them. Piece of cake? Not so much.

Layla looked up and saw Simon writing the story and told him how it would go.

Layla, and by this course of action the two friends (as they are one), would go to the rebellious world that would choose a destructive fate, and save any who would choose them by giving them new bodies and new natures, and later bring them to a new place, recreated as their bodies and natures were.

The cost of this transformation? Layla would have to die, and all three of them would experience it, dying themselves. It was simply the way things worked. Like gravity. A life to save life, but for the ones that would choose, it was worth the cost. Afterall, it was all about love. What she felt in her heart. What would feel in their hearts. Fulfilling each other. Yeah. That'd be worth it. Do it. Get it over with. Pain for eternity so that there would be even more love for eternity. Go for it.

So she did. And then She came back. The story is a bit different in reality, but that's the gist of it. I'm sure you've heard of Jesus.

Notes: I'm not a big fan of allegories. They tend to sacrifice story for a message, but when I started this freewrite it all kinda came together, and the message is one that is worth telling. I hope the story illustrates the point well. Anyhow, thanks God!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Freewrite poem

Darkness comes before the light.

We stumble,

We fall,

Because we cannot see.

Hitting walls.

Pushed by the unseen.

We walk. We run.

Light triumphs over darkness,

Blinds the eyes,

And causes them to see.

Sometimes the worst pains are felt before our vision is restored.

Sharp, quick.

Forces us to look away for a moment.

Then we see that we are surrounded

By Loving Arms

And Scarred Hands

And Comfort.

-SL

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Freewrites are coming again

That's right! For all 3 of you who already my previous (and poorly written) freewrites, be excited! I am beginning freewrites again and am very excited to see where it all goes. Once again, not looking to type out anything groundbreaking here, just some interesting narrative, or poetry, or whatever the heck I want or am lead to write. So … enjoy! And prepare for more REAL (read: not link-based) blog entries.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I have gotta get a new font

So, I am back to posting my blog again. It was a nice break. I think I am actually going to try and go for substance, not just links to the Really-Cool-And-Interesting.


 

In other news: I finally bought Microsoft Office 2007 (and am blogging from it). What can I say? Dell offered me a good deal and I bit. And what do I have to say about it? STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT THE RIBBON! I like the ribbon. In my mind, it makes more logical sense. Also, to all of the Open Office proponents out there that talk of it having "Office-like" functionality, what are you smoking? No offense to the open-source community. I have been a big proponent of it for a long time, and competition is great for the industry. Heck, you can't beat FREE. BUT, I have been using Open Office for five years and it is no MS Office. Not by a long shot. It is slow, the menus are unintuitive, and it has a lot of trouble translating into Office docs without messing up the formatting.

Still, can't beat free. OO got me through many college years and saved me a pretty penny, but c'mon. Please please please, give me a new UI, make it easier to use! C'mon open source community! Microsoft may have more money than the Rich family, You can do better, because you have one thing Microsoft doesn't have (at least as much of), zeal.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Why DRM is bad, again. Yahoo! Music Store screws customers

Yahoo plans on shutting down its servers which authorize DRM purchases.

via Engadget

http://feeds.engadget.com/~r/weblogsinc/engadget/~3/345708039/

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

June 26, 1974: Supermarket Scanner Rings Up Historic Pack of Gum

"Some readers may be unable to remember when grocery clerks had to put price stickers on nearly every item in the store. And retail cashiers had to read a price tag by eye and key in the price by hand. But that's the way things were. The process was not only laborious, but it left the store manager with no idea of how much of each of thousands of different products had been sold and how much remained in stock."

Sounds like the place where I work now, except my boss is so l33t that she does know, mostly, what is in stock and not in stock. Go Team ADH!

Quote from Wired.com
http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/science/discoveries/~3/320220716/dayintech_0626

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wolverine, amphibian style. "Frog species sprout claws on demand"

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At least 11 species of African frogs carry a built-in concealed weapon -- they can sprout claws on demand to fight off attackers, U.S. researchers reported on Monday."

Apparently, the claws break through the skin of the frog, ala our favorite X-Man.

http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/scienceNews/~3/318779502/idUSN2328658020080624

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

My book of choice this summer is...

Merciless by Robin Parrish. If you haven't read his past novels, then why are you reading this? Go buy them!
Anyhow, his upcoming book Merciless is due out July 1 (I think) and I cannot wait. So please, if you are going to buy any book, any trilogy this summer, make it the Dominion Trilogy.

If you enjoy the TV Show Heroes or are a super hero fan AT ALL, see what I am raving about.

What are they about? The setup is about a mild mannered Nothing of a man who is "Shifted" into the body of a rich athlete who happens to have some hidden power of earth-shattering proportions ... literally. He isn't the only one. Others havep powers too, such as an ability to remember EVERYTHING. Also interesting is a new take on super-speed. A character in the novel has super-speed but can only use it in short bursts.

Anyhow, check it out. 4.5 stars on Amazon. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rapture site sends unbelievers their last chance ... via email

LOL. 'Sounds like an episode of LOST. I wonder if any of the employees have The Numbers as their log-in pasword.


"...The website, which is based in Massachusetts, is run by a small team of Christians who must log on every day to indicate that the rapture has not yet taken place. If enough of them fail to log in, however, the system assumes that the second coming is nigh and sends out messages from all its subscribers..."

http://www.guardianfeeds.co.uk/c/288/f/7511/s/14137ad/story01.htm

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Renfue Poster



This is just an ad I put together for RENFUE this week. It is pretty simple. Because there was not a high-res band picture to go with it, I opted for a simple black and white, informative but promotional flyer. Hardly any effects. Mostly all font work and organization.

I tried to remain as true as possible to many of the bands' fonts. It was put together on short notice using Adobe InDesign without any available graphics or much discussion about what was wanted out of the flyer. One of the main fonts used was Adobe Castion Pro.

Regardless, not my best design. Check out my other designs for more eye-catching material.

Related: The band Renfue rocks. Look for an upcoming interview with them soon.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It's Just Some Random Guy

So I guess I am a bit late to the party, but this guy's video's are fantastic.

Here is the gist of it:

A guy makes comedic movies with super hero action figures. Very, very, very funny. Please check them out. Nearly every one of the vids has a 5/5 stars. So far, I think they are all 5/5 myself. In some of the vids are references to movies like The Usual Suspects or tv shows like Lost. Even the Mac/PC commericials. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/user/ItsJustSomeRandomGuy