More About Evil: The Quote of the Day

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were neccessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

--Alexander Solzhenitsyn

I read this within the first 5 minutes of waking up this morning and I was immediately struck by how powerful and perfect an idea it is, and it has proven to be absolutely completely the single overarching uniting idea of this whole day.

(Well, except for the part of the day when I was hacking SQL and PHP code in order to enable website users to enter into a relationship with VJs.)

Pet Peeves of Modern Worklife, #792

Oh man, I just have to vent - it really annoys me when announcements of a work meeting are delivered only via an iCal file sent by email as an attachment, with nothing else in the email. no time, no explanation of what the meeting is about or why we need it or what the agenda is. And then you click the attachment and iCal wont let you see the information, just the time, unless you accept the invitation, but if the time is bad and you decline, then you never see any other information. Argh. whatever happened to good old text? just a "hey, let's conference call at 4 on tuesday about the contract?" and then i'll reach over and grab my organizer and a pen and write "4pm - work meeting" on tuesday. is that so hard? Argh.

Did I mention I'm sick?

On The Alienated Right To Do Good

I just read a really wonderful essay in the January issue of Harper's, called "Army of Altruists," by David Graeber. It deftly links a tapestry of related topics: why Republicans won in '04, why they represent the working class, why working class people join the Army and why they hate intellectuals and even why some people have children. His thesis is basically that "Americans" (estadounidenses) are really all about wanting to be altruists, rather than all about ego and self-interest like the common wisdom and most economists say.

I was particularly struck, in a personal way, by this passage:

How many youthful idealists throughout history have managed to finally come to terms with a world based on selfishness and greed the moment they start a family? If one were to assume altruism were the primary human motivation, this would make perfect sense: The only way they can convince themselves to abandon their desire to do right by the world as a whole is to substitute an even more powerful desire to do right by their children.

This is an extremely important and resonant idea to me, especially since I have never wanted and have resolved to never have children.

Graeber goes on to explain in detail how ego and self-interest come out of markets, which historically have always spawned organized religions that extol the opposite: selflessness, charity, and a belief that material things aren't important. This explains, he says, how the U.S. can be the most materialistic and market-driven country in the world but also one of the most religious. But in our society, the poor are now precluded from the sort of priveleged life that enables people to have altruistic careers like human rights lawyers or professional activists. And so they join the Army, which takes care of them and gives them something noble to believe in that they're doing, and makes their life an adventure (which is what i always say i'm after, too).

This is important stuff. I wish it were online. Find this issue and read this.

A Touch of Hip

If you're ever in the Quad Cities, USA (so-called because it consists of 2 cities on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River and 2 on the Iowa side) and you need a little bit of big city culture, in the form of a comfortable coffeeshop with internet and good espresso drinks, I highly recommend where I'm sitting right now, Dewey's Cafe in the Bettendorf Public Library.

For a place like Bettendorf this place is pretty cool. There's even a young goth guy barista who was really excited about being able to make a mocha that was "for here" and not to go. I was beginning to lose hope, after first going to a pizza place that also advertised itself as an "internet cafe", but had a really weak wireless signal and didn't serve espresso, although they had arty drawings of mochas and lattes (labelled) on the wals. Huh?

This all seems really snobby, perhaps, and I recognize that. However, this is the first time I've jonesed for this kind of thing in the last 2 weeks of being back here in Iowa. And, well, sometimes it's the simple pleasures of cosmopolitan life that can do a lot for my mood. I need ever little mood-booster I can get these days, actually.

Maybe They're Just More Interesting?

Godfuckingdammit I hatehatehate how every time I put up photos on Flickr, any shot that has a woman in it gets at LEAST about 1/3 more views than ones that don't, and often twice as many views or more. So fucking predictable. C'mon, you stupid horny internet photo dweebs. Get a fucking life. God dammit.

The Kids Are (Not) Alright

I'm back from a long weekend in Portland, for the wedding of 2 friends. It was a wonderful ceremony, a fun reception, and a great time hanging out with Portland friends, and it was nice introducing Jessica (who came along) to those friends, and showing her cool stuff in town and nearby. I will have photos online soon.

So now I've returned to the heat and the back-to-school rush of Tucson. Oh. My. Gawd. College kids seem so materialistic and unaware now. I don't know if this is my age, or whether things have changed, or whether this particular campus is just particularly full of shallow frat boys, ROTCers, and "sorostitutes," but it just really annoys me, and it's annoying to have enjoyed the wonderful quiet of summer here and then all of sudden swarms of chattering rich kids are choking the streets and coffeehouses, chanting the mantra "hi how was your summer?" to each other.

I'm glad i'm now going to be living quite far from campus now.

And I just have to ask: can someone tell me why, even if you're a ditzy sorority girl, you'd want to wear pink short-shorts with the name of your college emblazoned across your butt cheeks? Pink? (Can anyone say "baboon in heat"?)

what's social networking all about?

Soap Opera

I absolutely cannot believe how like a soap opera this little activist community/scene is here in Tucson. It frankly just infuriates and disgusts me. There are these busybodies that make it their business to stick their judgmental noses into other people's business when they have no right to do that at all. It's like other small, insular communities, I guess, like some little rural farm town. Lots of gossiping and moralizing and semisecret recriminations, evil looks at the supposed transgressor as if they wear a scarlet letter. And just downright infantile, immature behavior. When was the last time you've heard of a grown adult couple, children in tow, running, not just even walking, but literally running out of a party when someone that one of them perceives to have harmed their relationship also arrives there? I mean, is this real, or some film set, and I wasn't given the script? WTF?!?

It actually maybe would make a pretty interesting movie. And I do mean movie, not film, if you know what I mean.

I wish I could write in detail with all the names and exactly what has been going on. Maybe someday I will. But I certainly never wanted to be part of it, even though now I certainly am. I remember 6 months ago when i first started becoming aware of it, being so glad I was not in it. So glad I had not acted on any impulses that would embroil me in this cesspool of jealousy and dysfunction. Now I sort of have, I guess, and I am in it. I wish I could write a huge expos

Hey iPod Users!

Your hip slick little gadget is made in a sweatshop like everything else...

(via José)

Fuck Memorial Day

Godammit I'm so surprised at how many places are closed today. Not a single fucking bike shop is open today because of Memorial Day. WTF? Fuck remembering the dead veterans. How about remembering all the fucking rich white elite men who DIDN'T die, who got rich off of all this country's wars for the last 250 years, sending the poor men off to die and then making a fucking holiday about them, as if that makes up for it?

As you can see, I'm in a foul mood. My bike has a flat and there's no where to get a freaking innertube. I'm really fucking sick of how often I get flats in this town, too, even with all the precautions of thorn-proof tires, tire liners, etc etc. I'm really sick of my bike too, and all the things wrong with it and the money I don't have to fix it because I'm still waiting on corporate america to send me a fucking check even after working for a whole month for them.


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