drewbear: (angry choochoo)
After the movie, I had dinner at a local Wendy's. After I put down my food and went to go get napkins and a straw, this guy politely asked me if I could give him 40 cents so he could get a sandwich. I try to be a good person and I could afford it, so I gave the guy $5 and sat down to eat.

Now, the dining area was pretty empty, just me, the guy I'd given money to, this big guy sitting at a table in the middle of the floor and the workers going around cleaning up. Big Guy almost immediately starts "jokingly" needling the guy I'd given money to (let's just call him MG for short, shall we?) about what he was going to get to eat. I wasn't really paying attention because I didn't really care what he got; once I passed that money over, it was his to do with as he wished.

Well, MG stared at the menu board for a few minutes then walked out to who knows where. Big Guy then called over to me, tattling that MG hadn't bought any food with "my" money and then kinda snottily/condescendingly said "I bet he's just going to buy a bottle of wine with it anyway." To which I promptly replied, in a calm voice, "Well, I've been in positions like that before and if a bottle of wine will make his life better for a little, then more power to him."

Big Guy tried to get me to agree with his "righteous anger" towards "cheats", but I tuned him out as not worth my time, which pissed him off as best as I could tell from the glancing attention I paid to him. Apparently my lack of indignation and failure to rise to his bait REALLY pissed off Big Guy, because as soon as one of the Wendy's employees came within range (he couldn't be bothered to get up and go to the counter for this, you see), he proceeded to loudly vent onto her about having panhandlers in the store and that he was gonna call corporate about this and they would need to put metal detectors at the doors because the neighborhood was getting bad and blahblahthepoorsuck-cakes.

After he indignated his way out and the woman he'd vented at came by, I briefly commiserated with her about his assholishness.

Now, as an adjunct to that story, allow me to explain my take on people begging for money: I've been in that situation and almost let my pride kick me out on the street for not asking for help. I know what it's like to have $20 that you have to turn into a month's worth of food and running out before then. I know what it's like to have to do things that you abhor, that kill parts of you, to survive.

Now that I've clawed my way out of that hell and can afford to help other people still there, I'm going to. And so what if they buy booze or cigarettes or drugs with it? I would hope that they wouldn't, but if that's what they need to survive the grinding misery, then I'm okay with that.

And that attitude pisses off a lot of people who've never, ever had to face that kind of hopelessness. They see poverty and desperation as character flaws: moral weaknesses well-deserved by the unworthy whom God punishes. But those people (to be deliberately crude about it) can suck my shitty asshole. I doing what I can, no matter how minor, to improve someone's life and I don't give a flying fuck what Righteous Indignates think about it.
drewbear: (Nice Day)
This is a fanfic I wrote for [livejournal.com profile] kissmebleeding for the [livejournal.com profile] apocalyptothon challenge. Many, many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] valarltd for beta-reading this. Please enjoy!

It's The Little Things That Kill

Betty hadn't thought anything of it when people started getting sick. )

GoArmy?

Jun. 14th, 2006 01:38 pm
drewbear: (Drew comtemplative)
The GoArmy commercials really tend to bug me. Not because they're recruiting for the Army; I respect people who choose to join. What bugs me is the subtle message that NOT joining the Army means you're not a "real man" (it's always guys who join up in these commercials, you notice).

The first one shows this fresh-faced kid in his greens (not full formal, but more than everyday wear. I dunno what the outfit is called), probably right out-of-boot-camp sitting on a porch with his father. And dad looks over at son and tells him "When you got off that train, you did two things that you'd never done at the same time before. You shook my hand. And you looked me straight in the eye." So the implication is that sonny-boy wasn't a grown-up, wasn't an equal to his father until he joined the Army.

The other one that chafes my ass is the one where the (presumably high schooler) is trying to convince his dad to let him join the Army Reserve. His argument basically consists of "it's not the real Army, Dad! I won't get deployed unless we join an endless war that chews up troops and spits them out, creating an insatiable demand for more bodies!" And when dad finally caves a little and asks whether the training will be good, Son simply replies "It's the Army" with a "duh!" left unsaid at the end.

The one that really bothers me, though, is the one with the black kid and his mother. Basically, Kid is joining for the sign-on bonus and Mom is afraid for her son's safety. It's the most true-to-life of the 3 I mention here and sadder for it because, to me, it reveals the kind of financial desperation that enters (but not necessarily dominates) the decision that a lot of these kids make. A "real man" takes care of his family, after all.

Again, I have a great deal of respect for the men and women who choose to join the military and protect our country, but I find some of the advertising and recruitment methods that the military (the Army in particular) uses to be disturbing.
drewbear: (Drew comtemplative)
Tangential to a recent post of [livejournal.com profile] ginmar, I started thinking about the various physical senses and "core" emotions. By "core" emotions, I mean the "pure" biological emotions which combine to form all emotional states, like the primary colors combine to form all the others. So. Here's my lists.

Emotions )
Physical Senses )

Your thoughts?
drewbear: (With a twist...)
I loathe the smell of hotdogs.

My roommate seems to live almost exclusively off the damn things, and the smell that lingers for hours after he microwaves some makes me sick to my stomach. The stench of salt and preservatives and processed meat, all combined in a superheated column of wretched, contaminated air. I come home from work, hours after he's left for his job, and the odor hits my nose like a three-week-ripe dead herring jammed into my sinus cavities.

On the plus side, it's driven me off of most processed meat and I'm consequently eating more "straight from the animal" meats, more fruits and vegetables and less canned and microwavable goods. So, in an ass-backwards way, it's making me somewhat healthier.

But I still loathe the smell of hotdogs.
drewbear: (Drew comtemplative)
As I'm sure you all know by now, Prop 2 passed in Texas by a 76%/24% vote. I, like many people, am livid but unsurprised by this.

What I find horrifingly ironic about the situation, however, is that conservative Texans have finally managed to do what they always feared that homosexuals would do: destroy marriage. If you read the text of the amendment, specifically Section 1, subsection (b), you will note that it says that "This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage." This subsection says nothing about it applying solely to homosexual unions. A valid interpretation of this, and the one that will most likely lead to its repeal, is that ALL marriage benefits are no longer recognized by the state.

And what's so wonderful is that this amendment wasn't about preventing homosexuals from getting married to one another, not really. It was about money. There is already a state law that prohibits gay marriages from being performed in or recognized by the State of Texas, so why was the amendment necessary? Many conservative lawmakers claim that it was a preventative measure to forestall potential lawsuits that could lead the Texas Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional, but does anyone honestly see the Texas Supreme Court ruling that way anytime soon? The fact of the matter is that many gay men and lesbians have managed to work around the ban by assembling the rights of marriage in an independent, piecemeal fashion: giving each other power of attorney, named each other beneficiares in life insurance policies and wills, etc. Their hard work was a labor of love intended to provide comfort and stability to their partners and their union. I suspect that many conservative lawmakers felt that these homosexual couples "cheated" by not allowing the state law to keep them from providing for each other and furthermore felt an explicit statement of ostracization was therefore necessary. So this new amendment nullifies all that hard work in a single spasm of bigotry and fear.

Of course, it also nullifies the rights of non-blood-related kin to visitation rights or state benefits. There's the distinct possibility that retiree, death and Social Security benefits paid to persons other than the original possessor are now illegal. Marriage certificates in this state have become worth exactly as much as the paper they're printed on and nothing more.

So congratulations, Texans. In your zeal to protect your definition of marriage, a definition which isn't even supported by the Bible, you've managed to shoot yourselves in the foot. I hope that you thoroughly enjoy your Pyrrhic victory.
drewbear: (Insane Mind)
I just finished reading Digital Fortress by Dan Brown, the guy who wrote The Da Vinci Code. It's a thriller about the NSA, code-breaking and cypher analysis.

And I absolutely cannot believe how bad this book was.

One of the protagonists is a woman described as being a stunningly beautiful (of course) genius-level (170 IQ or so) programmer and code-breaker working for the NSA Cryptography Division and she has no idea what quis custodiet custodes meant until someone translated it for her ("Who watches/guards the watchers/guardians"), and even then she wasn't able to grasp the larger implications of the phrase. He boyfriend/fiancé regularly signs love-notes with the phrase "without wax" as a minor code-puzzle to tease her, and she can't figure out that it's a more-or-less literal translation of the roots of the word "sincere".

Of course, she's not the only one in Crypto with this stunning lack of knowledge or competence. People who should know better have to have the most basic code systems explained to them. A high-level functionary slash accountant has to have "divide-by-zero error" explained to him. Despite surreptitiously monitoring intel from around the globe, the NSA apparently doesn't have professional linguists on staff and must hire a local university poly-linguist (the aforementioned boyfriend/fiancé) on a case-by-case basis. This lack is most glaringly obvious when a cypheranalysis team trying to decrypt a Japanese communication are unaware that Kanji can represent individual words AND syllables in a larger word. They're trying to track down an anonymous someone via his email correspondence and don't think to try anagramming his short, letters-only address until it doesn't matter anymore. They're trying to crack the self-encryption of a purportedly unbreakable encoder that uses blah-blah-blah-impossiblecakes. They're given a clue to "use the prime difference between the elements of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" and can't figure out that it's referring to the fissionable material used in the bombs until they do a fucking internet search on it! And this clue was given by the disfigured child of a Nagasaki survivor! And said clue was found WITHIN the body of the supposedly still-encrypted program!

For fuck's sake! The director of the Cryptography Division, which works heavily with electronic intel and the various permutations of the internet, doesn't know what freakin' WORMS are!

Completely aside from the characterization flaws, which might barely be forgiven as exposition for the benefit of code-ignorant readers, it's badly written! Brown repetitiously reiterates the same point over and over again in an extremely short timespan, sometimes even repetitiously reiterating the exact same wording over and over again in a repetitiously reiterating manner. He randomly has page-and-a-half long chapters. Which don't even necessarily change perspective or time-frame. And could've easily been included in the previous chapter.

Basically, the characters were idiots when it came to their jobs, the book was badly written and I successfully predicted every single "twist" the instant it was hinted at. If The Da Vinci Code was half as bad, I cannot for the life of me figure out how it got to be such a best-seller.
drewbear: (gryphon)
Well, I'm working this afternoon because Sara has to take care of some surprise complications to the wedding this Saturday. I really don't want to; I wanted to have my birthday all to myself, but as soon as I found out that the wedding was 4 days after my birthday, I knew that that was unlikely.

::sigh::

Frankly, all I've really ever wanted for my birthday was a surprise party or something like it; something that could finally prove to me that I've got a lot of friends who love me and want to help me celebrate. I'm tired of having "small, intimate" birthdays because my family are the only people who could be bothered to show up. It's not even so much about the party, it's about the symbolism. I've never really had very many friends because of my depression and social awkwardness and the resultant crushing, desperate loneliness. I just want a sign that I've made it past that part of my life, y'know?

And yes, I know that I have a lot of friends here on LJ, and I know that you all care about me to one degree or another, but it doesn't really help with the symbolic side of it.

...Shitshitshit. I just made myself start crying. Dammit! I shouldn't feel bad about my birthday! shitdfamnfusckcraphell!!!

EDIT: I'm sorry, guys. I'm not trolling for sympathy, honestly. I just get like this a little every year and I'm used to it, but this year the wedding is making it somewhat worse. I appreciate your thoughts.
drewbear: (Default)
I am a creature of habit. I make ruts in my life and happily settle into them. Routine is my friend. And when I'm rattled out of my ruts by outside forces, I settle things down as quickly as I can.

Of course, this also means that it's very hard for me do break out of bad behaviors or situations, or to find my way to new or better habits. It's a strong reason for why I have difficulty meeting people; the prime prerequisite is going out to new places and trying new things.

...Actually, no, I need to correct that last statement. I don't have difficulty meeting people; I have difficulty talking to new people that I'm physically attracted to. I'm awkward in new situations, which when combined with being nervous around a hot guy, makes me not want to even try. Lost cause and all that. Oddly enough, I think that's part of the reason why I had such a good time at TBRU: I was with a group of people that I had known online for a while, so I had someplace to which I could retreat (metaphorical, people) so that I wasn't overwhelmed by all the new people.

Ungh. I don't know where I'm going with this, or even if I'm going anywhere.
drewbear: (gryphon)
I've been thinking on this for a while, but this post was at least partially inspired by the op-ed piece by Anna Quindlen in this week's Newsweek.

In "Ode on a Grecian Urn", Keats may have said that "[b]eauty is truth, truth beauty", but that is not the case in modern society. Nowadays, beauty (or prettiness) is seen as a sign of "correctness". If you are perceived as pretty (whether or not you actually are) (I'm looking at you, Paris Hilton) everything you say or do is seen as being just a little bit better than it would be if an "ordinary" person said or did it. Just look at "celebrities", who can lie, cheat, steal, murder, commit adultery, and use prostitues or drugs, yet we forgive them because we idolize them. And why do we idolize them? Because they're pretty.

Another sign of this is how viscerally betrayed we feel when someone or something beautiful turns out to be evil or bad. In fact, betraying the implicit goodness associated with beauty can actually make the person or object seem even more evil that he/she/it actually is. Not that this is a new thing: take the fairy tale of Snow White. The evil queen was the "most beautiful in the land" until Snow White surpassed her. And one of the original versions of the tale, the queen tried to use three objects of and for beauty to poison Snow White. A jeweled comb, a silk girdle and a perfect red apple.

And while this may bother me, what makes this association even more dangerous is the unhealthy standard of beauty that the media presents as "ideal" to modern society. My youngest sister is a truly beautiful young woman with a quick wit, enquiring mind, heavenly voice, classicly beautiful face and form and (for you straight guys out there) a healthy amount of "buxomness". But because she actually has a healthy amount of body fat instead of looking like an emaciated scarecrow, the media says that she's not worth as much as she really is.

Not to mention the double standard between men and women. As an extremely simple example, how likely is it that an average American woman would leave her home for the day without even a little makeup on (base, lipstick, eyeshadow, whatever)? And how would people react to her if she didn't? Compare that to how likely a man is to wear makeup on a daily basis and how people would react to him if he did.

I don't really know where I'm going with this; I think I'm just rambling. But these are the things I think and feel and I don't how to better express them. Not right now, anyway.
drewbear: (Default)
I've been doing some thinking about birthdays and age recently. My birthday is in 2 weeks, but I keep forgetting this. Not in a "what day is it again?" or "I don't want to think about it" way, but because age isn't really that important to me. Don't get me wrong, I like having a day to celebrate me, but the actual commemoration of the anniversary of my birth doesn't mean much to me.

This all came about when I went through my FList and put all the listed birthdays onto a reminder calendar and realized that most, if not all, of you are a much different age than I expected. Of course, this probably has something to do with the fact that I tend to think of people as being around my own age, yet I don't feel any particular age myself and have to take a second to remember exactly how old I am. Yes, I'm weird.

I suppose another part of it is that, in my mind, your "age" can refer to two separate things: your physical age (pretty self-explanatory) or your mental age (maturity level). I tend to gauge people's ages by their maturity rather than their chronological age and most of the people I know and like to interact with have a maturity level similar to myself.

Aaaaaanyway, if any of you reading this would like me to acknowledge your birthday, either here or by birthday card, leave a comment with the pertinent info. ([livejournal.com profile] nytemarewulf, please let me know your address) Comments will be screened, of course.
drewbear: (Default)
Okay, so 3 people saw the car today. 2 rejected it, hoping to find a better deal elsewhere and 1 was scouting for his son but thinks that he'll want it. I have 2 more solid leads by phone that haven't seen the car yet, but will be coming by tomorrow. And I'm still waiting to hear back from the guy who was interested in the apartment. We'll see.

Now on to less personal stuff and into the realm of esoteric thought processes!

People frequently complain of corporations as being soulless or heartless. To which I say, well DUH. If we consider a business of any sort as an entity (which we do, legally), then we must also be ready to accept what kind of entity it is. All businesses and corporations are memetic organisms, by which I mean organisms that are idea-based rather than physically-based. They consume goods, money is their life-blood, and the larger ones (loosely) replicate by spinning off subsidiaries.

However, like all simple (i.e. non-sapient) organisms, the ultimate goal of a corporation is to stay alive by whatever means necessary. Now, there may be constraints on the fiduciary evironment in which it lives such as ecological regulations, equal-opportunity laws, anti-trust legislation, etc., but a corporation will do everything it can to circumvent these contraints and thereby allow itself to grow just a little bit more. Of course, corporations will occasionally do things that seem unlikely to further or seem to act directly contrary to growth, such as Phillip-Morris running the no-smoking ads, but these kinds of actions tend to promote goodwill among customers, who will then be more likely to use the corporation's products, thereby feeding more money into the machine.

Yes, corporations are composed of and theoretically controlled by individuals, but extremely large corporations develop an inertia of internal and external policies and "corporate culture" which makes it very difficult for individuals, even highly placed ones, to make significant changes to the corporation with any degree of speed. After all, how easily can a single cell, even a brain cell, force you to immediately do or not do something?

So of course corporations seem heartless or soulless. That's because they are. A corporation "feels" nothing about you save for how you can further its ultimate survival and growth.
drewbear: (nebula)
I have Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on in the background (damn you, [livejournal.com profile] trollprincess! Damn you for addicting me!) and while I think that they're doing wonderful things for these two families, I find the shock that the cast/staff is displaying to be mildly offensive. Every week, they help families that are only marginally better off than these two families. In fact, the only thing qualitatively different is that they don't have to demolish a house before beginning. I especially find ABC's gimmick advertising of the episode as "OMGHomelessness!!" to be very bothersome. Again, what they're doing for these families is wonderful, but how the situation is being presented bothers me.

Aside from the approximately 3 million homeless in this country (of whom about 20% are working) there are an additional 5 million who spend more than half their income on housing, which means that virtually any unexpected monetary setback can easily push them into homelessness. Thankfully, there are organizations such as Habitat for Humanity that help these working homeless construct and own their own houses. I've helped to raise money for HoH, and both of my sisters and my mother have donated time and labor.

Luckily, although I'm poor, I'm not that bad off. Close, but not quite. But I am distinctly and constantly aware of how easy it would be for me to end up with nothing. And especially in this economic depression "jobless recovery", I don't understand how people aren't aware of just how tenuous the positions of literally millions of people are.

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