attn: pi

Jan. 24th, 2011 12:12 am
stoutde: (Default)
I was going through some old source code so I could regurgitate it into a new project and found this.

# pi's statement for the day: "In another two generations, anyone who
# can read a book will be considered a 'genius'."


I believe we're damned near there.
stoutde: (Default)
Perspective One:
As I got into my car this morning, I noted that there was a truck parked along the street right across from my driveway. Not really an issue, but it does reduce the roadway to a single lane so I'll have to be careful backing out. I get into my car, and as I am backing up past the trees that line my driveway, the intersection not far from my house comes into view. Three cars turn the corner, and I stop to wait for them to pass. Then the lead car stops and the driver waves me into the street! A million things go through my mind, including their motive. Are they being nice? They're holding back two others for my one car, so I don't think so. If I do pull out and they decide to hit me, I'll automatically be at fault for all kinds of things! I choose to sit and wait, they give up and continue on.

Perspective Two:
I wasn't in too much of a rush, the post office didn't close for another hour and a half yet. On my way to the post office, I was in the right-most lane of a 4 lane street and stopped behind a decent line of cars at a traffic light. The light turned green, and cars started moving forward, but then the truck in front of me just sat there! I tried to look around him to see if there was a problem of some sort, then I realized he was waving to a guy in a parking lot. The guy in the parking lot was trying to look around the truck, to no avail, and the guy in the truck was waving at him more emphatically to go. The guy finally went, crossing our lane and moving to the next lane over to get into a turn lane going left at the intersection. When he made it into the lane to my left, a car went past me and hit him. I spent the next few hours waiting for the police to arrive, ask questions, get a tow truck to remove the vehicles and re-open the roadway, etc.. The driver from the parking lot couldn't see around the truck and was cited as at fault since he failed to yield for oncoming traffic. The cop advised him not to enter a roadway if he can't see through any sort of obstruction. I went home, the post office was closed by the time I could leave. Perhaps tomorrow. Luckily nobody was hurt.

Perspective Three:
I picked up my dry cleaning after a long day at work and just want to go home, eat something and get some sleep. I drove around the parking lot, got to the street, and traffic was backed up from the intersection past the driveway I was in. The light turned green, and I patiently waited for everyone to go before I went. Some kind soul stopped to give me time to turn onto the road so I could go home. As I pulled out, they suddenly lurched forward and t-boned me! He told me he was distracted, reading a txt on his phone, then realized the light was green and he hadn't moved yet so he excitedly moved on. But when the police officer arrived, he told a different story: he was moving along like he was supposed to be and I pulled out in front of him without looking! The liar! And the police officer believed him too, cited me with failure to yield for oncoming traffic and now I'm going to need my car repaired and my insurance rates are going to climb... and the insurance adjuster says I'll owe the other guy 6,000$ to fix HIS truck! It was barely scratched! What a stupid day.

Perspective Four:
I was leaving school, heading home to do some homework. The trip home isn't particularly long, but it's punctuated by a lot of stop lights and stop signs. At some point, this little blue car turned in front of me. Shortly after, he stopped in the middle of the street for no reason! Then I saw him waving at someone in their driveway, and they backed out into the road and went about their day. Another few intersections and stop signs later, he stopped again and let another person onto the road. A few cars had joined in line behind me. Continuing on, we stopped a third time to let someone onto the road, this time from a side street. More cars fell into line behind us, and the one behind me lightly honked their horn. A few minutes later, we stopped again and I could hear three different distinct horns behind me honking as we let yet another car onto the road before us. Luckly, the little blue car turned off and I was able to complete my drive home, but that half of the trip behind the little blue car took me longer than the entire trip takes on a normal day!


Driving laws are written to be equally fair to everyone; people on the roadway and people entering the roadway. They're also written with insurance law and collision statistics kept in mind. Deviating from the standard driving pattern presented in drivers manuals presents a danger to those you're trying to be polite to, opens up doors for insurance abuse, and often results in pissing off more people than you actually help.

Don't deviate from the prescribed driving pattern.
stoutde: (Default)
Introduction to Social & Political Philosophy

Weird chick is weird. She'll get up in the middle of lecture and walk around to see what other people are doing, reading their notes and looking at their laptop screens. Then she'll comment on someones (mine) shirt and not understand what the word "pictorial" means when I say it's a "pictorial pun". Or she'll reach down to touch someones steel toe boot, pick something off it, and hand it to the guy.

The attention whore in this class is nowhere near as bad as the attention whore from last semester, but she still intrudes on too many of my conversations with others. Either that or she's "hungry", ifnya know what I mean wink wink nudge nudge.

As far as class material, we discussed Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter from a Birmingham jail cell in class. Covered some of what some "Leo Strauss" guy considers to be "politics". I find it interesting that we've spent 2 days so far doing nothing but covering definitions. Definitions are important; can't have a real discussion that doesn't devolve into hate-filled agreement without them.

Public Speaking

No sign of the teacher yet, but we did have a substitute on Thursday. This'll be an easy class; I read through the book and it's all stuff I learned in JROTC. All I really need to learn are the words this particular book uses for concepts I already know. No big deal.

Composition II

We read some lame story about a woman who had a bunch of potatoes dropped into her kitchen that constantly came back when she tried to throw them out. Turns out her family all died at once and her lover left her behind while seeking employment elsewhere. The potatoes grew into babies that crawled around and followed her everywhere. My take on it was that they were a metaphor for repressed memories that were interfering with her life until she accepted them and embraced them. Lame, really.

I voiced that opinion in class in response to the teacher asking what we thought of it. Nobody else said squat. This is one of those times when I wonder if I'm really smart for seeing the metaphor immediately and everyone else was incapable of seeing it, or if everyone else saw it and thought it was so lame that they didn't bother to say anything about it and I'm pretty stupid for thinking I must be smart for seeing something so obvious.
stoutde: (Default)
Philosophy class.. Weird chick is WEIRD. She talks really quietly, and every time I tell a joke, she holds her hand back over her shoulder so I can high-five it. Then she leaned backwards over her chair to tell me, upside down, that she likes my laugh. And then she stared at me. For a long time. It made everyone in the room, not just me, uncomfortable. Even the prof. As far as class material, we were sent home to read Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail Cell. We'll be discussing it in class on Thursday. This is the same prof I had for philosophy last semester, and he is minus his loud coughing throat clearing thing so maybe that stint in the hospital was a good thing.

Speech class... teacher was sick, no class.

English class, Composition II. Obviously this guy has never taught before. And on top of that, everyone in the class with me are in high school. Literally. Dual credit program. So, one of his rules is "no talking during class", which is fine, I respect that. But then he was writing on the whiteboard and had been doing so for 2 minutes. A girl across the room said something to herself so faintly I could barely hear it; prof stopped writing, turned around, stared, and waited for her to say "I'm sorry?" before letting out a "pfffffff." and a shake of his head before going back to writing. Yeah, that is a little bit over the line I think. I'll have to beat him into line. No real assignment yet but we did a "diagnostic essay" today where we had to write about 3 stories we love. I don't read much fiction and I'm not about to recount all the physics books I've read, so I started out saying I don't read but I have amassed a collection of stories about real people, in real current events. I wrote about Shirin Ebadi, Lou Xiaobo, and Martin Luther King Jr. The central theme was that I liked the selfless and peaceful fights for civil liberties. Supposedly it doesn't get graded, which is good because I screwed up Lou Xiaobo's name big time....

FB Connect

Jan. 13th, 2011 01:09 pm
stoutde: (Default)
Well crap. I had FB Connect working so LiveJournal would cross-post, and it's all still setup the same, but it's not working anymore. I checked application settings and they look good.

I unlinked and relinked my accounts... no dice.

Odd Dreams

Jan. 12th, 2011 04:35 pm
stoutde: (Default)
I've been having dreams for the past few nights... And not the random disjointed ones either.

I had a dream a few nights ago that I was working in a grocery store and new management had come in, threatening to punish us all if we even thought about something we weren't supposed to. Well, not only did I think about something I wasn't supposed to, but I took a pad of paper and wrote down the name "Matroska" in relation to it. Then I walked around with the pad as if nothing had happened and locked it in a locker. Someone told me "If you didn't write it down, there's no way they would have known and you wouldn't have had to hide it." I don't know what Matroska is.

Last night, I dreamed about running down the road, in a race with other people, at night. It was odd, I was running down a small hill and the road flattened out before me, and there was another hill way up ahead. A single headlight from a motorcycle came over the top of it, and as I ran past it, I realized I "ran past the German". I had some idea that I had also ran past the Brazilian too, in the same manner. When I got to the top of the hill that the German had come from, I had won the race.

Weird shit.
stoutde: (Default)

Bill Zeller was a talented programmer whose work we've featured on Lifehacker. He took his own life on Sunday and left an explanation that I think it's important you read.

Zeller was a victim of sexual and psychological abuse. It's clear from his writing that the abuse left him unable to interface with the world in any way that didn't leave him feeling he was too sullied to have the same experiences that he thought others had. He had a self-described "darkness", which despite his prostration it's clear he handled more ably than perhaps he ever realized.

Programming was a solace, but only temporarily. Zeller never felt he could escape the things that had happened to him because he carried his torment with him everywhere.

I think a person has the right to live or end their life as they choose. If Zeller really felt that suicide was his only option, so be it. But as someone who has had similar experiences in my own life, I want to say to anyone else who feels the way Zeller felt: You can't escape your past. Not completely. But you can deal with it. You can contextualize it. You can learn how to prepare for the times when you feel like it's not even on your radar and then it totally broadsides you.

And you can talk to people. You really can.


Bill Zeller

I have the urge to declare my sanity and justify my actions, but I assume I'll never be able to convince anyone that this was the right decision. Maybe it's true that anyone who does this is insane by definition, but I can at least explain my reasoning. I considered not writing any of this because of how personal it is, but I like tying up loose ends and don't want people to wonder why I did this. Since I've never spoken to anyone about what happened to me, people would likely draw the wrong conclusions.

My first memories as a child are of being raped, repeatedly. This has affected every aspect of my life. This darkness, which is the only way I can describe it, has followed me like a fog, but at times intensified and overwhelmed me, usually triggered by a distinct situation. In kindergarten I couldn't use the bathroom and would stand petrified whenever I needed to, which started a trend of awkward and unexplained social behavior. The damage that was done to my body still prevents me from using the bathroom normally, but now it's less of a physical impediment than a daily reminder of what was done to me.

This darkness followed me as I grew up. I remember spending hours playing with legos, having my world consist of me and a box of cold, plastic blocks. Just waiting for everything to end. It's the same thing I do now, but instead of legos it's surfing the web or reading or listening to a baseball game. Most of my life has been spent feeling dead inside, waiting for my body to catch up.

At times growing up I would feel inconsolable rage, but I never connected this to what happened until puberty. I was able to keep the darkness at bay for a few hours at a time by doing things that required intense concentration, but it would always come back. Programming appealed to me for this reason. I was never particularly fond of computers or mathematically inclined, but the temporary peace it would provide was like a drug. But the darkness always returned and built up something like a tolerance, because programming has become less and less of a refuge.

The darkness is with me nearly every time I wake up. I feel like a grime is covering me. I feel like I'm trapped in a contimated body that no amount of washing will clean. Whenever I think about what happened I feel manic and itchy and can't concentrate on anything else. It manifests itself in hours of eating or staying up for days at a time or sleeping for sixteen hours straight or week long programming binges or constantly going to the gym. I'm exhausted from feeling like this every hour of every day.

Three to four nights a week I have nightmares about what happened. It makes me avoid sleep and constantly tired, because sleeping with what feels like hours of nightmares is not restful. I wake up sweaty and furious. I'm reminded every morning of what was done to me and the control it has over my life.

I've never been able to stop thinking about what happened to me and this hampered my social interactions. I would be angry and lost in thought and then be interrupted by someone saying "Hi" or making small talk, unable to understand why I seemed cold and distant. I walked around, viewing the outside world from a distant portal behind my eyes, unable to perform normal human niceties. I wondered what it would be like to take to other people without what happened constantly on my mind, and I wondered if other people had similar experiences that they were better able to mask.

Alcohol was also something that let me escape the darkness. It would always find me later, though, and it was always angry that I managed to escape and it made me pay. Many of the irresponsible things I did were the result of the darkness. Obviously I'm responsible for every decision and action, including this one, but there are reasons why things happen the way they do.

Alcohol and other drugs provided a way to ignore the realities of my situation. It was easy to spend the night drinking and forget that I had no future to look forward to. I never liked what alcohol did to me, but it was better than facing my existence honestly. I haven't touched alcohol or any other drug in over seven months (and no drugs or alcohol will be involved when I do this) and this has forced me to evaluate my life in an honest and clear way. There's no future here. The darkness will always be with me.

I used to think if I solved some problem or achieved some goal, maybe he would leave. It was comforting to identify tangible issues as the source of my problems instead of something that I'll never be able to change. I thought that if I got into to a good college, or a good grad school, or lost weight, or went to the gym nearly every day for a year, or created programs that millions of people used, or spent a summer or California or New York or published papers that I was proud of, then maybe I would feel some peace and not be constantly haunted and unhappy. But nothing I did made a dent in how depressed I was on a daily basis and nothing was in any way fulfilling. I'm not sure why I ever thought that would change anything.

I didn't realize how deep a hold he had on me and my life until my first relationship. I stupidly assumed that no matter how the darkness affected me personally, my romantic relationships would somehow be separated and protected. Growing up I viewed my future relationships as a possible escape from this thing that haunts me every day, but I began to realize how entangled it was with every aspect of my life and how it is never going to release me. Instead of being an escape, relationships and romantic contact with other people only intensified everything about him that I couldn't stand. I will never be able to have a relationship in which he is not the focus, affecting every aspect of my romantic interactions.

Relationships always started out fine and I'd be able to ignore him for a few weeks. But as we got closer emotionally the darkness would return and every night it'd be me, her and the darkness in a black and gruesome threesome. He would surround me and penetrate me and the more we did the more intense it became. It made me hate being touched, because as long as we were separated I could view her like an outsider viewing something good and kind and untainted. Once we touched, the darkness would envelope her too and take her over and the evil inside me would surround her. I always felt like I was infecting anyone I was with.

Relationships didn't work. No one I dated was the right match, and I thought that maybe if I found the right person it would overwhelm him. Part of me knew that finding the right person wouldn't help, so I became interested in girls who obviously had no interest in me. For a while I thought I was gay. I convinced myself that it wasn't the darkness at all, but rather my orientation, because this would give me control over why things didn't feel "right". The fact that the darkness affected sexual matters most intensely made this idea make some sense and I convinced myself of this for a number of years, starting in college after my first relationship ended. I told people I was gay (at Trinity, not at Princeton), even though I wasn't attracted to men and kept finding myself interested in girls. Because if being gay wasn't the answer, then what was? People thought I was avoiding my orientation, but I was actually avoiding the truth, which is that while I'm straight, I will never be content with anyone. I know now that the darkness will never leave.

Last spring I met someone who was unlike anyone else I'd ever met. Someone who showed me just how well two people could get along and how much I could care about another human being. Someone I know I could be with and love for the rest of my life, if I weren't so fucked up. Amazingly, she liked me. She liked the shell of the man the darkness had left behind. But it didn't matter because I couldn't be alone with her. It was never just the two of us, it was always the three of us: her, me and the darkness. The closer we got, the more intensely I'd feel the darkness, like some evil mirror of my emotions. All the closeness we had and I loved was complemented by agony that I couldn't stand, from him. I realized that I would never be able to give her, or anyone, all of me or only me. She could never have me without the darkness and evil inside me. I could never have just her, without the darkness being a part of all of our interactions. I will never be able to be at peace or content or in a healthy relationship. I realized the futility of the romantic part of my life. If I had never met her, I would have realized this as soon as I met someone else who I meshed similarly well with. It's likely that things wouldn't have worked out with her and we would have broken up (with our relationship ending, like the majority of relationships do) even if I didn't have this problem, since we only dated for a short time. But I will face exactly the same problems with the darkness with anyone else. Despite my hopes, love and compatability is not enough. Nothing is enough. There's no way I can fix this or even push the darkness down far enough to make a relationship or any type of intimacy feasible.

So I watched as things fell apart between us. I had put an explicit time limit on our relationship, since I knew it couldn't last because of the darkness and didn't want to hold her back, and this caused a variety of problems. She was put in an unnatural situation that she never should have been a part of. It must have been very hard for her, not knowing what was actually going on with me, but this is not something I've ever been able to talk about with anyone. Losing her was very hard for me as well. Not because of her (I got over our relationship relatively quickly), but because of the realization that I would never have another relationship and because it signified the last true, exclusive personal connection I could ever have. This wasn't apparent to other people, because I could never talk about the real reasons for my sadness. I was very sad in the summer and fall, but it was not because of her, it was because I will never escape the darkness with anyone. She was so loving and kind to me and gave me everything I could have asked for under the circumstances. I'll never forget how much happiness she brought me in those briefs moments when I could ignore the darkness. I had originally planned to kill myself last winter but never got around to it. (Parts of this letter were written over a year ago, other parts days before doing this.) It was wrong of me to involve myself in her life if this were a possibility and I should have just left her alone, even though we only dated for a few months and things ended a long time ago. She's just one more person in a long list of people I've hurt.

I could spend pages talking about the other relationships I've had that were ruined because of my problems and my confusion related to the darkness. I've hurt so many great people because of who I am and my inability to experience what needs to be experienced. All I can say is that I tried to be honest with people about what I thought was true.

I've spent my life hurting people. Today will be the last time.

I've told different people a lot of things, but I've never told anyone about what happened to me, ever, for obvious reasons. It took me a while to realize that no matter how close you are to someone or how much they claim to love you, people simply cannot keep secrets. I learned this a few years ago when I thought I was gay and told people. The more harmful the secret, the juicier the gossip and the more likely you are to be betrayed. People don't care about their word or what they've promised, they just do whatever the fuck they want and justify it later. It feels incredibly lonely to realize you can never share something with someone and have it be between just the two of you. I don't blame anyone in particular, I guess it's just how people are. Even if I felt like this is something I could have shared, I have no interest in being part of a friendship or relationship where the other person views me as the damaged and contaminated person that I am. So even if I were able to trust someone, I probably would not have told them about what happened to me. At this point I simply don't care who knows.

I feel an evil inside me. An evil that makes me want to end life. I need to stop this. I need to make sure I don't kill someone, which is not something that can be easily undone. I don't know if this is related to what happened to me or something different. I recognize the irony of killing myself to prevent myself from killing someone else, but this decision should indicate what I'm capable of.

So I've realized I will never escape the darkness or misery associated with it and I have a responsibility to stop myself from physically harming others.

I'm just a broken, miserable shell of a human being. Being molested has defined me as a person and shaped me as a human being and it has made me the monster I am and there's nothing I can do to escape it. I don't know any other existence. I don't know what life feels like where I'm apart from any of this. I actively despise the person I am. I just feel fundamentally broken, almost non-human. I feel like an animal that woke up one day in a human body, trying to make sense of a foreign world, living among creatures it doesn't understand and can't connect with.

I have accepted that the darkness will never allow me to be in a relationship. I will never go to sleep with someone in my arms, feeling the comfort of their hands around me. I will never know what uncontimated intimacy is like. I will never have an exclusive bond with someone, someone who can be the recipient of all the love I have to give. I will never have children, and I wanted to be a father so badly. I think I would have made a good dad. And even if I had fought through the darkness and married and had children all while being unable to feel intimacy, I could have never done that if suicide were a possibility. I did try to minimize pain, although I know that this decision will hurt many of you. If this hurts you, I hope that you can at least forget about me quickly.

There's no point in identifying who molested me, so I'm just going to leave it at that. I doubt the word of a dead guy with no evidence about something that happened over twenty years ago would have much sway.

You may wonder why I didn't just talk to a professional about this. I've seen a number of doctors since I was a teenager to talk about other issues and I'm positive that another doctor would not have helped. I was never given one piece of actionable advice, ever. More than a few spent a large part of the session reading their notes to remember who I was. And I have no interest in talking about being raped as a child, both because I know it wouldn't help and because I have no confidence it would remain secret. I know the legal and practical limits of doctor/patient confidentiality, growing up in a house where we'd hear stories about the various mental illnesses of famous people, stories that were passed down through generations. All it takes is one doctor who thinks my story is interesting enough to share or a doctor who thinks it's her right or responsibility to contact the authorities and have me identify the molestor (justifying her decision by telling herself that someone else might be in danger). All it takes is a single doctor who violates my trust, just like the "friends" who I told I was gay did, and everything would be made public and I'd be forced to live in a world where people would know how fucked up I am. And yes, I realize this indicates that I have severe trust issues, but they're based on a large number of experiences with people who have shown a profound disrepect for their word and the privacy of others.

People say suicide is selfish. I think it's selfish to ask people to continue living painful and miserable lives, just so you possibly won't feel sad for a week or two. Suicide may be a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but it's also a permanent solution to a ~23 year-old problem that grows more intense and overwhelming every day.

Some people are just dealt bad hands in this life. I know many people have it worse than I do, and maybe I'm just not a strong person, but I really did try to deal with this. I've tried to deal with this every day for the last 23 years and I just can't fucking take it anymore.

I often wonder what life must be like for other people. People who can feel the love from others and give it back unadulterated, people who can experience sex as an intimate and joyous experience, people who can experience the colors and happenings of this world without constant misery. I wonder who I'd be if things had been different or if I were a stronger person. It sounds pretty great.

I'm prepared for death. I'm prepared for the pain and I am ready to no longer exist. Thanks to the strictness of New Jersey gun laws this will probably be much more painful than it needs to be, but what can you do. My only fear at this point is messing something up and surviving.

—-

I'd also like to address my family, if you can call them that. I despise everything they stand for and I truly hate them, in a non-emotional, dispassionate and what I believe is a healthy way. The world will be a better place when they're dead—one with less hatred and intolerance.

If you're unfamiliar with the situation, my parents are fundamentalist Christians who kicked me out of their house and cut me off financially when I was 19 because I refused to attend seven hours of church a week.

They live in a black and white reality they've constructed for themselves. They partition the world into good and evil and survive by hating everything they fear or misunderstand and calling it love. They don't understand that good and decent people exist all around us, "saved" or not, and that evil and cruel people occupy a large percentage of their church. They take advantage of people looking for hope by teaching them to practice the same hatred they practice.

A random example:

"I am personally convinced that if a Muslim truly believes and obeys the Koran, he will be a terrorist." - George Zeller, August 24, 2010.

If you choose to follow a religion where, for example, devout Catholics who are trying to be good people are all going to Hell but child molestors go to Heaven (as long as they were "saved" at some point), that's your choice, but it's fucked up. Maybe a God who operates by those rules does exist. If so, fuck Him.

Their church was always more important than the members of their family and they happily sacrificed whatever necessary in order to satisfy their contrived beliefs about who they should be.

I grew up in a house where love was proxied through a God I could never believe in. A house where the love of music with any sort of a beat was literally beaten out of me. A house full of hatred and intolerance, run by two people who were experts at appearing kind and warm when others were around. Parents who tell an eight year old that his grandmother is going to Hell because she's Catholic. Parents who claim not to be racist but then talk about the horrors of miscegenation. I could list hundreds of other examples, but it's tiring.

Since being kicked out, I've interacted with them in relatively normal ways. I talk to them on the phone like nothing happened. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I like pretending I have a family. Maybe I like having people I can talk to about what's been going on in my life. Whatever the reason, it's not real and it feels like a sham. I should have never allowed this reconnection to happen.

I wrote the above a while ago, and I do feel like that much of the time. At other times, though, I feel less hateful. I know my parents honestly believe the crap they believe in. I know that my mom, at least, loved me very much and tried her best. One reason I put this off for so long is because I know how much pain it will cause her. She has been sad since she found out I wasn't "saved", since she believes I'm going to Hell, which is not a sadness for which I am responsible. That was never going to change, and presumably she believes the state of my physical body is much less important than the state of my soul. Still, I cannot intellectually justify this decision, knowing how much it will hurt her. Maybe my ability to take my own life, knowing how much pain it will cause, shows that I am a monster who doesn't deserve to live. All I know is that I can't deal with this pain any longer and I'm am truly sorry I couldn't wait until my family and everyone I knew died so this could be done without hurting anyone. For years I've wished that I'd be hit by a bus or die while saving a baby from drowning so my death might be more acceptable, but I was never so lucky.

—-

To those of you who have shown me love, thank you for putting up with all my shittiness and moodiness and arbitrariness. I was never the person I wanted to be. Maybe without the darkness I would have been a better person, maybe not. I did try to be a good person, but I realize I never got very far.

I'm sorry for the pain this causes. I really do wish I had another option. I hope this letter explains why I needed to do this. If you can't understand this decision, I hope you can at least forgive me.

Bill Zeller

—-

Please save this letter and repost it if gets deleted. I don't want people to wonder why I did this. I disseminated it more widely than I might have otherwise because I'm worried that my family might try to restrict access to it. I don't mind if this letter is made public. In fact, I'd prefer it be made public to people being unable to read it and drawing their own conclusions.

Feel free to republish this letter, but only if it is reproduced in its entirety.

Thanks to Xeni Jardin and Matt Haughey for bringing Zeller's letter to my attention.

Send an email to Joel Johnson, the author of this post, at joel@gizmodo.com.

School

Dec. 31st, 2010 05:06 pm
stoutde: (Default)
I got an A in Philosophy, an A in Math, and an A in English!

I really wish I could have seen the look on my English teacher's face when she looked at my essay on "Color". I quoted all the big names; J.J. Thomson, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Max Plank... oh yeah!

Philosophy teacher invited me to an exclusive class next semester because he likes me. It sounds like a fun class too so I'm going.
stoutde: (Default)
This year, my list of things I'm thankful for is kind of confusing.

I am thankful that when Iran decided to push to build a nuclear reactor, the Russians were more thoughtful about it than we were and have now put themselves in a position to watch whether the reactor is producing weapons or not.

I am thankful that an entire global community was able to come together, without political boundaries, and free miners from the depths of Chili.

I am thankful that CERN (home of the LHC) is able to continue pushing the forefront of scientific knowledge regarding particle physics. We adventure not because we know what we'll find, but because we don't know what we'll find.

And I am thankful for my ever-faithful fiance who will be joining me as my wife :)
stoutde: (Default)
We were tasked with writing an essay showing cause & effect. I wrote my essay about "Name Calling".

I listed the good parts of it; we can call each other names when a friend exhibits behavior that's and contradictory to their overall view of the world and they'll understand that we really know they're not that, so they'll laugh and the humor raises spirits.

I also listed all the bad parts of it; it prevents people from discussing ideas or presenting solutions to problems, and if someone is told that their great idea is endorsed by someone else with a name they don't like, they'll drop the idea in a bid to not be like that other person.

The essay itself was crap for structure, format and layout. The thesis was weak so the conclusion suffered. Hard to conclude something you aren't even hypothesizing! Some of my support was a little inconsistent too.

She gave me an "A" because I chose a non-typical topic (most people I guess choose things like abortion, gun rights, prohibition of alcohol/drugs, and violence but never venture outside of that sphere) and went into all kinds of psychology on it that she'd never heard anyone talk about before but made sense.

I get to revise it and turn it in again in a few weeks.
stoutde: (Default)
"Liberal" has been defined in two different ways by context in modern English.

a. tolerant of or favorable to change, "he has very liberal views on education and wants to see reform"
b. not sparring in resources, "he applied cheese to his nachos very liberally"

"Conservative" means the opposite.

a. intolerant of or unfavorable to change, "he holds conservative views on gun rights and refuses to vote in favor of changing them"
b. sparring in resources, "he conserved electricity by reprogramming his thermostat to not run the A/C when he isn't home"

Now, let's apply these things to our beliefs. Right now, our government is kind of bloaty. It's spending money on things we don't want it spending money on. Now, to be fair, what I think it shouldn't be spending money on is probably not _exactly_ the same thing you think it shouldn't be spending on, but I'm willing to bet there's at least some overlap. Let's consider this in abstract.

If something is costing us x$ right now, and we think that is too high and would like to see it be more like y$, that requires change and satisfies the first definition of "liberal". Anyone asking for less spending is being liberal.

If something is costing us x$ and we think that's fine, we're not asking for change but we're admitting that there is plenty of money available for the task to be done. We're still being liberal.

So how do we become conservative? By refusing to change a policy, we're being conservative. By refusing to fund something, we're being conservative.

Let's see how this comes together, since it looks to me like a series of odd contradictions...

To decrease spending (be conservative), we have to change policy (liberal).
To maintain or increase spending (be liberal), we have to either not mess with (conservative) or change policy (liberal).

/me scratches head

Sure seems to me that calling people or claiming the title of either "liberal" or "conservative" is just plain stupid, neither title really tells you anything. Now, if they say something like "fiscally conservative" or "socially liberal", now we're getting somewhere.

Think about that next time you call someone a liberal. You might be a liberal yourself, especially if you are championing fiscal conservativeness.
stoutde: (Default)
So I was having a discussion on  Lisa Murkowski's facebook wall and I've been pretty nonplussed lately about how people jsut call each other names without letting any discourse on actual issues take place.

Technically speaking, any sort of policy change, for better or worse, is "reform" so I think it prudent to define what we actually mean by reform instead of just asking for it.

In so doing, I brought up Abortion.  Why not, right?  Good controversial issue that stirs up emotions, no matter which side you're on.  I'm a middle-roader; I think it should not be allowed purely as a method of birth control but should be allowed for uneducated people who don't know better and worse, for rape victims.

I was actually told, I shit you not, that we have to rape our daughters and force them to carry the child in order to defeat Hitler.

......  lolwut?  I........

Good friends, I am shocked.  I do not know what to think of this.  I know that the effect of this announcement is that we're not talking about the issue anymore, but how can we when this sort of nuclear bomb has been used to end the discussion?

What?

School

Oct. 23rd, 2010 03:30 am
stoutde: (Default)
I had two more exams this week, one in philosophy and one in math.

The Math test wasn't difficult, but it had a lot of work and not a lot of time. I am confident that I got all the answers I got correct, but I was half way through the last remaining question when he announced he is now leaving and if we didn't give our tests to him immediately (it was passed the end of class and he teaches another class at another college), we'd get 0's. I'm sure I got a 95% on the test, which with the homework and such, would bring me up to a 103. I did calculate that with the two previous 110%'s that I have, I could get as low as a 50% total score on this test and still have a 90 in the class. With the homework, that means I could get as low as a 37%. Yeah right.

The philosophy test was difficult, not because of the material, but because it was multiple choice and all his answers could be interpreted multiple ways - usually two ways. One wrong, one right. I talked to a few people after class, they felt the same and answered the same way I did but were also uneasy about them. We're either all passing or all failing!

I got an A on my last english essay. Easy class. My classmates are not helpful in their peer reviews tho so writing decent papers is hard; I like to bounce things off other people to see if what I'm saying makes sense but they just... well, they mark up what sentences in my paper are topic sentences, which ones tie back to my thesis statement, etc.. except I already knew those things, I wrote it. Ah well.

We'll see what happens.
stoutde: (Default)
I'm against it, but now that I have your attention, there is an issue with voting and voter intelligence that I'd like to discuss.

A person can claim to be of one party, and in general, stand with that party on a number of issues. Not all candidates agree, however, and that is why we have primary elections. Primary elections are held to figure out who most closely represents the party as a whole. This implies that a candidate can also stand in opposition of their party on some issues.

If the issues that are important to you are not the issues that are important to the party you've chosen as a whole, but the other party's candidate does hold a stand on that issue and their stand is in line with what you think, you have a choice. You can, heaven forbid, pick up a phone and call your parties candidate and ask them for clarification on their stand.

If they agree with your view also, great. Vote for them. If they don't, perhaps you should vote for the other parties candidate.

If you can't talk to them for any reason, skip that last step and just vote for the other guy. You already know his stand and you're happy with it, so why vote for someone else who might not agree with you?

Now for the issue with voting a straight party ticket. What if the congressional candidate for your party agrees with your views, but your gubernatorial candidate does not? What if the other parties gubernatorial candidate's views are better than your own parties candidate's views? In this case, you're better served voting for your own parties congressman and the other parties governor.

Anyone hwo declares they're just going to vote a straight party ticket obviously hasn't taken the time to think about any of the issues that are important to them, and if they're not willing to be involved in stuff that's important to themselves, they shouldn't be injecting themselves into and screwing up things for the people who do know and care about issues important to them.

In short, if you're choosing to vote a straight party ticket because you like the party, you shouldn't be allowed to vote.

If your choice candidates that you're voting for all happen to belong to the same party, fantastic.

School...

Sep. 16th, 2010 10:43 pm
stoutde: (Default)
PHIL

We had a pop quiz on Tuesday, the question was short and simple but the answer was not. The question was "What did Ortega mean by calling Philosophy a bag of intellectual experiences?"

The answer of course, relates to how philosophy is the practice of asking and answering questions related to how and why we came to be here. Philosophy requires thinking and in the process of thinking, we have intellectual experiences.

10/10.

MATH

We had a test on Tuesday. It was over exponents, graphing functions, solving systems of equations... plbbbt, rather lame actually.

110/100, I would have gotten 114/100 but I made a small clerical error on one question. 0=0 tells me "infinite solutions" but it was a multiple choice exam so I circled "no solution". Turns out he wanted us to write it in terms of (x,2x-8). He even said it right before the test so I should have thought of that but... oh well.

ENGL

No tests in this class, at all. Turned in an essay today. We wrote an essay, collectively as a class, about "Is it appropriate for Obama to call Kanye a Jackass?". My response was "Is it appropriate to ask if it is appropriate?". I refrained from the actual writing part since I have no interest in the topic, but I did add in my dollar fifty worth of knowledge about how an essay should be written and why certain things were the way they are.

Teacher is a douchenozzel. She actually believes that we are supposed to watch mainstream media and care about what it tells us to care about. whaaaaaaaa? Oh well.
stoutde: (Default)
I _really_ need to come up with a medium for my creativity. This stuff is just awesome.





Essay

Aug. 28th, 2010 12:38 pm
stoutde: (Default)
My english class has an assignment to write an essay about a place that is special to us. The focus is on using objective and subjective description. Here is my draft, it'll be turned over to someone else for peer review on Tuesday and then a final draft will be submitted for a grade on thursday.


The Eklutna Valley: A Lesson in Life

There are many places that have special meaning to me. Some are places where I played a lot as a child, some are places where important events in my life have taken place, and some are places where I could just get away from everything. The most special place to me, however, is none other than where I go to be alone, recreate, and learn about life. The most special place to me is Eklutna Lake.

A trip to Eklutna Lake involves more than just going there. First, there is the long and arduous drive; 13 miles of windy road that traverses many hills. Dangerously close to both sides of the road, an eroding rock face eats away at the mountain side. One wrong move and you will end up at the bottom of it! For the risks, however, it does offer some very rewarding views. Through a scattering of trees, you can see sunlit valleys, majestic mountains, and an abundance of wildlife! The end of the road is the trail head that takes you to and around Eklutna Lake.

A walk along the trail is a true adventure. Through the summer and fall, squirrels run to and fro while squirreling away food for winter. Eagles and hawks circle above, looking for their next meal. In the fall and through the winter, moose and bear will frequent the trail, leaving their tell tail markings behind. The trail itself is rather foreboding.

Along with watching for predatory animals such as wolves, bears, and foxes, one has to be careful where they walk. The trail is nothing more than loosely packed dirt mixed with a detritus of vegetation that’s been smashed into the ground by heavy footsteps. Whether it’s the melting snow of the spring or the rainy days of summer, water mixes with that loosely packed dirt to make mud which acts like a lubricant on the crushed vegetation. It’s very easy to slip and fall. The trail climbs sharp ridges and descends steep hills; slipping and falling will bruise more than just your pride!

At the end of the trail, all of the danger and toil makes itself worth it. The trail opens up to a gorgeous view of the lake, surrounded by mountains and trees. With the long drive and the walk through the woods, most sounds of civilization can’t make it to the mountains. The mountains deflect most of what does make it, and the trees absorb the rest. What you hear depends on the season; in spring, the air is full of the chirping of newly born birds and the chattering of squirrels poking out for the first time this year; in the summer, the leaves are all aflutter in a constant breeze; in fall, the sounds of moose munching on bark and the occasional cry of an Eagle fill the air. My favorite is in winter when all the animals are asleep or gone for the year and the air is deathly still. In winter, Eklutna Lake is completely silent.

It’s wrapped in this silence that I find solitude; I’m not expected to be doing anything. Relieved of the burdens of everyday life, my mind is free to wander. My wanderings always start with the same memory. In 1998, I hiked up to the lake in late October. Half-way down the trail, I thought I heard, very faintly, sounds of people talking and laughing. I asked myself, “who are these people who are interrupting my solitude?” Near the end of the trail, the sound was still barely audible and I was eager to see who it was. I hurried along, taking more daring chances with my footing on the trail, and when I got to the end, my eyes scanned for these intruders. Imagine my amazement when I found that it was not people talking and laughing but rather Canadian Geese honking at each other while talking a swim in the water! I watched as they floated softly along in the water that I knew was close to freezing. They floated all the way around to the other side of the lake and disappeared from sight. I spent the night there and the water was frozen across the surface when I awoke and didn’t thaw again until summer.

My mind tends to wander along what it was those geese were honking about. Were they discussing their plans for moving south for the winter? Were they gossiping about the latest drama in the wolf packs? Maybe they already had their plans in order and were telling each other jokes, laughing away the remaining few hours before traveling onward.

Everything around Eklutna Lake has a lesson to tell about the world, about life, and about how to live. The glacier pushes incessantly forward, never looking back. It grabs anything near or in its path, picks it up, and carries it forward as if it’s helping everything along. And help it does; all of the organics that it picks up are deposited in the water shed where it decomposes and turns the silt fertile. Glacial melt and snow melt run down the water shed and to the lake, keeping it plenty full. The lake itself not only provides water for the surrounding wildlife but also the 350,000 people who live in a city about 30 miles west. In this way, the glacier advances everything around it.

The mountains protect the Eklutna Valley. They reach high into the sky on both sides of the valley, preventing the strong winter winds from making their way into it. Massive storms tend to deposit the bulk of their rain or snow on the outer sides of the mountains, keeping the snow pack inside the valley reasonable. Above all, they protect the life giving Eklutna Glacier. Even in summer when the sun is at it’s highest, these mountains prevent the bulk of the sunlight from reaching the glacial ice. These mountains also demand respect; they have rough and jagged ridges, steep slopes, and many loose boulders and rocks. They will punish anyone who disrespects them, but they offer incredible rewards to those are know how to treat them!

On top of the mountains, you can see for hundreds of miles around. To the west, Anchorage and the Cook Inlet sit on the horizon, offering a magnificent sunset view if you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time. To the north, you can see Eklutna Lake, reflecting the summer sun like a mirror. To the south and east, mountains and forest stretch as far as the eye can see. In the fall, when the sun reaches lower and lower each day, the sun shines a nice golden light across the tops of all these trees, making their yellow, gold, and red leaves glow as if they’re on fire.

The forest itself drinks the water from the lake and provides food for the wild life. A myriad of berries provide fruit and the bark on the spruce trees provide the primary source of fiber in every ones diet. In the fall when moose have eaten all the bark off of all the trees, the pine cones begin to fall. This is the forests way of telling every one, “here is one last meal, now hurry up before winter sets in.”

Everything in the Eklutna Valley is different, but despite all these differences, they all work together in a concert that could not work if any single piece was missing. Without the mountains, the sun would take the glacier. Without the glacier, the lake would dry. Without the lake, the forest would perish. Without the forest, the wind would erode the mountain sides and take them away. It’s a giant circle and if even just one piece is missing, the whole thing will fall apart.

Standing on the coast of the lake, I think about all these things and the Eklutna Valley tells me about my problems. The glacier tells me when I’m spending too much time worrying and not enough time moving forward. The mountains tell me if I’m being too weak and need to stand tall against the ills of society or if I’m being too bullheaded and need to stop fighting. The forest lets me know when I am confused and need to pay more attention to the needs of those around me rather than my own. Eklutna Lake reflects my own image at me, showing me whether I’m on a path of good or evil.

There are many dangers involved in getting to Eklutna Lake and the journey itself has another important lesson to teach. Always keep your objective in mind and do not let difficulties stop you from reaching them. Life is dangerous; one wrong move and you could fall. If you allow the fear of falling from the path to stop you from taking it, you’ll never see what life has to offer you. Then, perhaps, you are not living.

stoutde: (Default)
I'm starting class tomorrow, working for a B.S. in comp-sci. As long as someone else is willing to pay for it, I don't see a reason not to go.

Last time I was in college, I made weekly posts. Last time I was in college, I was doing 50 hours of in-class time per week... This time it's only 9 hours a week.

We'll see what my post schedule becomes.

Wedding

Aug. 23rd, 2010 10:34 pm
stoutde: (Default)
We have the venue chosen and reserved, the dress is bought, we're going to forgo a DJ and just hook an ipod up to the sound system they have (which is moderately decent, really)..

Still need to do invitations, flowers (center pieces and other), photographer, a runner, cake (a lie), beer and bartender, security, and bridesmaid dress.

I heard they sell Alaskan Amber in Arizona so I'm planning on doing a road trip in that direction to buy enough for the party. All my friends who do photography don't live here and Nancy doesn't claim to know anyone so we're just going to hire whoever the place recommends... Thinking of buying a bolt of white fabric at Joanns and using it as a runner, then returning it as "eh, not really what I wanted after all" when we're done (hehe, is that shitty or what?). Nancy is talking about a flower design for the cake. I'd like something more unique but whatever.. maybe hide a 1up mushroom in the flower design or something. security will be easy, just need to do it. Bridesmaid..

Funny stuff. Nancy doesn't know anyone to be her bridesmaid, and another friend of mine doesn't know anyone to be hers either.. so I proposed a trade and it's going to work out :)

Need a gift for the bridesmaid as well, and I think I know what to get her, but sssshhhhhh, don't say anything because she is friended on here!

Profile

stoutde: (Default)
Dennis Stout

May 2017

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