Monday, December 6, 2010

The Right to Harm Oneself

Recently I was at the Princeton Model United Nations Conference, in which I played Alexander Hamilton in a simulation of the United States Constitutional Convention of 1787. I was one of 55 delegates (well, actually 54 - George Washington was played by the chair) attending said committee and it was a lot of fun. I actually took home the award of Outstanding Delegate, which is second only to "Best Delegate" on the Model UN totem pole of recognition. But that's not what this post will be about.

When introducing a resolution I wrote up to the committee, a Bill of Rights, somebody in the crowd took issue with one of the rights I included. It was worded in a much more fancy, official way than I can recall right now, but basically it was the right to do anything that does not harm, or attempt to harm, the person or property of another. Somebody picked up on the word "another" and asked about the consumption of recreational drugs. The room full of teenagers chuckled. I mockingly said I had no idea what he was talking about: "it is 1787, what are these 'recreational drugs' of which you speak?", but eventually I reiterated that this meant any action which does not harm others, and admitted that in the event any person wishes to consume a food or anything else to the extent that it does not do so, that would be allowed.

The chair, wishing to incite debate on a subject that enlightened 18th century rich white males understood, said "So, just to clarify, under this Bill of Rights, suicide is legal?". Without hesitating, I replied "absolutely".

In the audience, people looked at me like I had three heads. Not everyone - some were actually nodding their heads (I'm not the only libertarian out there!) - but many. The next question was unrelated and the issue dropped, but I don't think my stance is all that extreme.

I think this issue demonstrates the disaparate outlooks between liberals and libertarians on what the government's role should be. Liberals say that when it comes to suicide, the government is justified in "saving you from yourself." Libertarians say you have a right to harm yourself. For practices which they deem a bad idea, or cumulatively detrimental to society as a whole, liberals try to make th government decide for you whether you can do drugs, gamble, or even eat McDonalds. Libertarians say you have a right to your own make decisions regarding your own wellbeing.

Liberals want to tax, regulate, and even ban unhealthy foods. San Francisco recently banned happy meals. Yes, McDonalds is unhealthy. Yes, McDonalds consumption may harm the nation's wellbeing, or health stats in comparison with more "progressive" European nations. But if I want to eat it anyway (which I do!) that must remain my right! I happen to have an active lifestyle and a fast metabolism so it is not much of a concern for me. Those are factors the government cannot know, and which cannot be applied to society as a whole: these decisions, like most financial transactions, are better left to those directly involved, not the government. But even if I were lazy and obese, my diet is solely my choice to make. So what if, as a whole, happy meals are deemed bad for the country by a group of people in Washington. They are only allowed to do what's best for the country WITHOUT treading on my rights. And I have a right to gorge myself on Big Macs.

Same goes for those other issues. Liberals favor the "individual mandate" to save you from "irresponsible" decision of not purchasing it (well, actually it's to fund their other regulations, but that's for another post!) Going without health insurance means that if you get sick with a curable disease, but cannot afford the cure, you may die needlessly. For most people, that makes it worth the money, or at least worth the slice out of their paycheck. But not for everybody. Some think your money is better spent at a gym, so that you stay healthy and are less likely to get sick, or just on a new house. Libertarians say that's your money, and those choices don't hurt anyone else, so have at it.

Same with suicide. It harms nobody but you. Your death may cause emotional pain on your loved ones, but you could also do this by enlisting in the army, or by dropping out of Harvard to train as a beautician, or by marrying a hooker during a drunken rampage in Las Vegas. This is not what the word "harm" means, any more than being offended by a political ad you disagree with means that commercial has "harmed" you. None of these things must be criminal offenses.

Nor should even more controversial issues like gambling and drugs. These things can be addictive. These things mess with your mind, making it almost impossible to choose against it. But what they don't understand is that, for this decision like all others, you ARE your mind. Saying "you lack the ability to resist cocaine" is idential to saying "your mind has a chemical imbalance which makes it impossible to resist cocaine." These things can cause you to lose all your money and desperately starve in the streets. But if you decide to participate in them anyway, why should it be the government's business what problems you run into? If you start driving your car while drunk or high, sure that act endangers others and that act should be illegal. But in your own bedroom, do heroine for all I care. If you die, it's a tragedy, but you are a victim of nothing but your own stupidity. This is called natural selection.

Just because a decision in and of itself is almost universally considered a bad one, and just because it may have a detrimental effect on society as a whole, does not mean the government is justified in making it illegal. Suicide is no exception. Our founding fathers knew that; too bad more people today don't realize it too.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I am the Dancing King

(The below was submitted on one of my college applications. I forget the prompt. I find it amusing. Enjoy.)

Maybe it’s my Swedish heritage. Maybe I seek an avenue of rebellion against the negative themes in today’s music. Or maybe I was simply born a generation too late. But whatever the reason for my love of ABBA, I remain too embarrassed to admit it to my peers. Hiding my adoration is made easier by my eclectic taste in music: I can bob my head to pretty much anything my friends happen to have on the radio. But I would bet there are many other closeted ABBA fans out there just like me. Who can resist tapping their feet to such innocent, upbeat music? Fellow ABBA fans can be found all over Europe, which is part of the reason the Swedish trio is the fourth best selling musical group of all time (behind the Beatles, Elvis, and Michael Jackson, respectively). Nevertheless, many American males fancy themselves too manly to jam out to Dancing Queen. These are usually the same men who feel inclined to buy pickup trucks because they’re “Built Ford Tough”. They may get eight miles per gallon, but at least they can haul a big pile of rocks should the need arise. The machismo acquired through years of red meat, cold beer, monster truck rallies and WWE fights could be lost instantaneously were they to be caught humming along to Fernando. I, on the other hand, am secure enough in my masculinity to crank up Mamma Mia in my beat-up Cavalier -- even if I do make sure the school parking lot is out of earshot first!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Frisbee Fanatic, Part 2

Earlier this year, I told you about my team's third place finish at the Rustin Community Fair Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. It was a great success. But Frisbee season has began anew, and as a Senior I'm the captain of our squad. Desiring more competition than our campus confines provide, we took an all-star team of disk- jockey's (get it?) to Philadelphia to compete in a local tournament this past saturday. This tournament, mind you, is bigger than any we'd competed in before. It ran from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, a full 9 hours of Frisbeeing Frenzy. This was the main event, the big attraction, the King-Da-Ka of intramural sporting glory, the pinnacle of student-body bragging rights. To compete here required the stamina of soccer, the physicality of hockey, the metnal toughness of football, the precision of speed skating, and the intensity of a caged gladiator wrestling match between a man and an ill-tempered platypus. Like most of those activities, it was a ton of fun.

But you know when your parents used to tell you "Hey, so long as we all have fun, we're all winners?" Well, it's a load of crap. As Vince Lombardi once said, "If we aren't playing to win, then why bother keeping score?" Our squad, named Victorious Secret (you may have noticed I have a thing for puns) went 4-1 and finished 2nd out of 8 teams to claim a decent consolation prize. Not that any prizes are needed besides the sweet scent of defeated enemies and the primal, testosterone-filled chest bumps that ensue, but we also recieved some elite, expensive, premium grade frisbees for our own. And these aren't just any frisbees. Remember in that god-awful movie "Blades of Glory" where Will Ferrell goes on a rant about how much he loves his hairbrush? "Not just a brush, but a Verticoli. Handmade in Italy. They carve it out of illegal whalebone. They only make eleven of them a year. This one cost me $12,000, or 30 million lira. Perfectly balanced, low drag, minimal torque...No exaggeration, I could not love a baby as much as I love this brush." Yeah, well that's about how we feel about these frisbees.

No longer is Ultimate Frisbee the realm of hippies and weirdo's not good enough to play any "real" sports. No, our team beat the team with all the football players on it 11-2 today. We made one of the girls on their team cry when she missed the frisbee and it hit her in the lip. We laughed. Get on our level.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Economy vs. Ecology

One of the things I've noticed in my political musings is that liberals, democrats, and tree-huggers in general view the ecology in the same way that conservatives, libertarians/republicans and small government advocates in general view the economy: both view humans as screwing it up whenever they stick their filthy hands in! Ecologists lament that ecosystems are naturally sustainable and worked just fine until humans ignorantly overhunted certain species and overutilized certain resources, throwing the natural system out of whack. Free-marketeers, however, view the economy as a natural cycle of booms and busts based on the simple, unchangeable principles of supply and demand, and feel that whenever the government or some other centralized body tries to manipulate it to their advantage or dictate an economic outcome it likewise screws everything up. They favor the government keeping it's hands out of the economy to allow this natural cycle to work its magic, just as opponents of hunting or sharpshooting to reduce overpopulation endorse introducing natural predators as an alternative: Both wish to turn back the clock to the time when the system worked fine, before the silly humans got in the way.

The difference, from a government perspective, is that in order to fix this problem, environmentalists support MORE government intervention to counterbalance it. Rather than merely telling humans "stop invading the habitat of owls and cutting down their trees!" they advocate the government taking it upon itself to reintroduce the owls into the habitat. on economic issues, however, libertarians want the government to merely undo whatever perceived encroachment on the free market that exists, not enact new interventions to counteract the failures of the old. Another difference is that libertarians are focused purely on what's best for humanity, while many environmentalists feel humanity has a moral obligation to sacrifice for the well-being of other species. Libertarians have no problem with human greed, and construct a system that rewards it; environmentalists try to curb greed's effect on that which it injures.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ever Since Omar Was Hired--An Ode to the 2006-2009 Mets

I was bored of college essays, and engulfed by Phillies statuses, so to make myself feel better I wrote this ode to the Mets woes. Sung to the tune of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel. If you don’t know the tune/idea of that song, which goes chronologically through events in 20th century history, this won’t be as funny, so listen to it first:



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2a2SS0zqmzk



This has been my baseball life over the past four years. I'm sure you'll revel in my misery. Enjoy.



"Ever Since Omar was Hired"



(2006 and Before)

Braden Looper, Armando, all the saves that they would blow

Heath Bell, Mo Vaughn, Joe...McEwing



Kazmir for Zambrano, Minaya from Toronto

No more Jim Duquette, make way for the New Mets



Omar signs some big names, Mets start to win some games

David Wright gets called up, things are really lookin’ up



Until the playoffs come around, Pedro and El Duque down

Endy Chavez makes a leap, but Beltran watches strike three



Chorus:

Ever since Omar was hired,

The fans have been yearning, but the players are hurting

Ever since Omar was hired,

We’ve been the joke of the league, as we choke up our lead



(2007)

Pedro’s arm is still weak, Phillies are the team to beat

Jimmy Rollins, screw you, the frontrunners hate you



Dauner Sanchez makes some cash, then gets in a car crash,

Moises Alou, black and blue, he lands on the DL too



Brooklyn has a winning team, but Queens is starting Shawn Green

Marlon Anderson is lame, his interference lost the game



Glavine lets up seven runs, before the first inning is done

Seventeen, left to play, what else do I have to say?



Chorus



(2008)

Trot Nixon, Matt Wise, Pedro’s father just won’t die

Jimmy Rollins, MVP, somebody kill me



Randolph fired at midnight, Mets bullpen is a fright

Injuries, all around, Billy Wagner goes down



Johan doesn’t help us much, cuz’ we suck in the clutch

Twenty-nine blown saves, Luis Ayala digs our grave



Lidge has a perfect year, Phillies fans get to cheer

Mets out on the final day cuz Aaron Heilman can't play


Chorus



(2009)

Bernie Madoff stole our money, stop laughing, it’s not funny

Tim Redding’s facial hair, Castillo tripping down the stairs



Omar’s mad at Adam Rubin, even as he signed more Cubans

F-mart is a bust, not to mention JJ Putz



Disabled list is growing fast, Tony Bernazzard gets sacked

Olly is a head case, Ryan Church missed third base



Carlos Beltran’s getting old, Wright’s helmet is a salad bowl

But don’t forget, that’s not all, Luis Castillo dropped the ball



Chorus



Finally, Omar’s been fired

But even with him gone, it’ll still go on, and on, and on, and on…

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rally Crying

Today was the day for the famous (infamous?) Rustin High School fall pep-rally. After eight shortened periods of school, we all went down to the gym and were seated by class. Activities included the following:

--Making lots of noise
--The introduction of the Senior Homecoming Court
--A Tug of War competition by class
--Being loud
--Making obscene chants and gestures at the other classes
--A "spin around on a baseball bat five times until you get dizzy and then stumble around towards the general vicinity of the finish line" competition.
--Yelling
--Watching the Cheerleaders lead cheers.
--Lauding our innately superior athletic ability by clapping for a procession of sports team captains
--Screaming
--Watching the Dance Team gyrate
--Hooting and Hollering
--Watching the "Diamond Girls" stomp around
--Storming the court in competition for the heralded "spirit stick."
--Invoking the use of our vocal chords to produce a high quantity of decibels.


And get this: the seniors won the spirit stick! No way! I was so suprised...that NEVER happens! Ever!.......(rolls eyes)......

If you are not yet in high school, savor the days you don't have to go to pep rally's. If you are in high school, bring noise cancelling headphones and an iPod. If you have already graduated from high school, simply realize that some things never change!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Under the Weather

I've been a tad ill the past few days, thanks to a bad cold I caught at my cousin's wedding. It's ironic that the wedding was held on the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey, meaning I caught a "cold" in the quintessential summertime location. "Get in here right now young man!", my mom may soon begin to scold. "You'll catch a cold in this heat! Now put on some sunblock."

But what I noticed while forming this title is how silly the expression "under the weather" really is. I mean, the daily climate is determined by clouds and winds several thousand feet up in the air...aren't we ALWAYS under the weather? Unless you were to go on a mountain top or on an airplane, it is rather difficult to get out from under the weather. And if you were to go to such an elevation, it would likley be so frigid that you would catch a cold anyway, thus being "under the weather while you're over the weather". Since you might not have seen this ailment coming, your being under the weather while you're over the weather may come under the radar". And if you got high enough, and the weather we're referring to was a recently-passed rainstorm, you would be a) under the weather, b) under the radar, c) over the weather, and d) somewhere over the rainbow caused by that weather. But that would be such overkill that one could be come overwhelmed, making this post overly underappreciated.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Europe vs. America

I have been to Europe twice, once to England and once to Italy. Both were fantastic trips, beautiful countries with much to see, learn, and do. But Europe is certainly different from the US, in both good ways and bad. So I've set out to settle the score on the long-standing Northern-Hemisphere rivalry: which side of the Atlantic is better? I've broken up the contest into several categories, some serious, some comical, and others trivial, with each worth one point. Whichever side gets the more points wins.

History: Europe wins. In America, we think the freakin' Liberty Bell is old. In Rome, you can dine in a 2,000 year old bathhouse from the Roman Empire, then bike over to the colluseum or the Vatican. Of course, we'd probably have some pretty cool history too had the Native Americans discovered the written language and all, but since they didn't our schoolchildren are made to believe the world was created in 1492. Europe 1, USA 0

Sports: USA wins. Don't get me wrong, both are passionate. In America, sports fans are passionate in their support of their favorite teams. In Europe, sports fans are passionate in their support of their favorite team. Note the lack of an s. All they have is soccer! And don't give me cricket or rugby, those are and England-only thing. Besides, cricket is wannabee baseball, and rugby is wannabee football. In America we have a professional league for just about any sport you can fathom, and we're damn good at them. There's a reason the USA cleans up in the Olympics every year, and it's the same reason the best Baseball, Football, Basketball, and Hockey players in the world come to the American Leagues to play: we run sports. Besides, soccer is closer to acting than a real sport. Come to think of it, I am forgetting one true sport that the USA just can't compete with Europe in: diving. Europe 1, USA 1

Chocolate: Europe wins by far. Hershey is kinda cute for a candy bar. Nestle requires Rice Krispies to keep it's Crunch bar on the market. Now compare that to Toblerone (swedish)...or Ghiraldelli (italian)...not to mention the creme-de-la-creme: Belgian chocolate. That, folks, is chocolate. What we have is chocolate flavored. Europe 2, USA 1

Driving: Europe wins. Smaller cars. Smaller roads. Smaller gas consumption. Smaller dent on the environment. Smaller amount of money spent on all of it. Smaller amount of accidents, and smaller numbers of people who die from them. Smaller likelihood their car companies will need to be bailed out by the government. Europe 3, USA 1

Humility: Tie. At first I meant this to go to Europe, because many americans are brazen, arrogant, and obnoxious. Then I remembered France was in Europe. Tie. Nobody gets any points, still Europe 3, USA 1

Freedom: USA wins. Europe is totally socialist, and they're beginning to run out of other people's money. See Greece. See France. The "universal everything!" philosophy limits their economies and leaves individuals with virtually no economic freedom whatsoever. It kills innovation, and forces them to mooch off of us for technology. We really are the land of the free. Europe 3, USA 2

Military: USA wins. This is the only explanation you need: http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/text/france.html
Europe 3, USA 3

Frozen Treats: Europe wins. One word: Gelato. Creamier, tastier, more refreshing, less melty ice cream. It may be the 8th wonder of the world. Europe 4, USA 3

Bathroom Expenses: Get this--in Italy, they charge you 2 euro (like 3 bucks) to go use the restroom! Screw that! Im about to piss on your 2000 year old wall if you don't get the hell out my way and lemme use the freaking urinal! Europe 4, USA 4.

Measuring System: Europe wins. Metric system > english system by far. everything's in multiples of ten. They have the same prefixes for everything, irrespective of unit. We, on the other hand, pull numbers out of our ass, pulled words out of our ass, and randomly assembled them in a chain. 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, 1760 yards in a mile. 8 ounces in a cup, 2 cups in a pint, 2 pints in a quart, 4 quarts in a gallon...AHHHH! Even the English know better than to use the Enlgish system. Europe 5, USA 4

Geography: Tie. Europe has the Alps, we have the Rockies. Europe has the Mediterranean and Atlantic, we have the Atlantic and the Pacific. They have nicer beaches, we have nicer waves. Their beaches are topless, but that includes old folks. Both are beautiful in different ways, simply a matter of preference. Still Europe 5, USA 4.

Portion Sizes: USA wins. Yes, we're obese. Yes, we eat too much. Yes, the portion sizes are out of control. But I don't care. I'm a 6 feet tall high school senior and I don't yet weigh 150 pounds. My metabolism is fast and I plan to use it. Italian food is delicious, but a "bowl of pasta" is served in a teacup. The French have outstanding chef's, but their dinner plates are as big as CD's. I want a big mac value meal with an Extra-Large DQ Blizzard and a 7-Up Big Gulp to wash it all down. Not because I'll finish it all, not because I need that much food, but because I'm a red-blooded american and because I can. Europe 5, USA 5.

Which means, unless I come up with more categories, it's a draw. Both nice places. But I personally value the "Freedom/Government" one as worthy of 10 points on its own, so I'm happy to live here in the states.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

College Drudgery

As happy a time as Senior Year is, and as exciting as College will be, college applications are far less thrilling. Since I'm applying to 11 schools, I've been up to my neck in essays and forms and transcripts and letters of reccomendation and everything else since August first. Seven of the schools I'm applying to use the Common App, which makes it a little easier, but I'm also applying to West Point, which is like 5 applications in one because it requires 4 nomination applications to congressmen and the Vice President. And most college applications nowadays have like 3 essay questions to answer, and even the Common App schools have their own unique "supplements" to complete. So if I'm a while in between posts, it's most likely because I'm determining how to best describe myself in 500-800 words! Hopefully all this work will pay off in the long run.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Madden 11 Lowdown

I'd been looking to buy the new video game Madden 2011 ever since it came out a few weeks ago, so when I finally found my wallet on Sunday (it had been lodged between the passenger seat and the gearshift, out of sight) I decided to go out and buy it. I asked around on Facebook for where the nearest Gamestop or EB Games was, only to find that both of them were closed: I'd forgotten it was 8:00 on a Sunday night, and most stores close early on Sundays. I was just about to give up the chase and until Monday when I remembered the one store that is ALWAYS open: Walmart. Always low prices, and almost always open. Good old sweatshop labor.

An hour later I was playing against my brother Dan, and we noticed the following major differences from our last football game (Madden 09):

1. Better Graphics, as always, but especially for us because we've updated our TV to HD since then. Big difference!

2. The "Gameflow" playcalling system, which is like a one-button-only Ask Madden on every play. It's designed to speed up game time and decrease the amount of time spent in the huddle, but I like the time spent in the huddle! It's part of the strategy! I find it annoying so I just turn the feature off and use conventional, 3-panel playcalling.

3. Superstar mode gives you 100 attribute points to distribute in the beginning, but then it's nearly impossible to improve your player afterwards. I haven't tried it yet but my brother thinks it's awful and likes the old way of improving via practice better.

4. The soundtrack is 1000 times better! Usually it's all rap or screamo from new bands trying to get their name out who purchase the rights to be on the soundtrack, but this year it's like 1/3 of that and the rest is classic rock! "Thunderstruck" by ACDC, "Song 2" by Blur (perhaps bettter known as the "WOOO-HOOO!" song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlAHZURxRjY&feature=av2e), "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Ozbourne, "Bang On These Drums All Day" by Todd Rundgren, and a bunch of other great ones too, plus the intense Sam Spence NFL Films songs.

5. It's more difficult to tackle now, and easier to break tackles, even if you don't press any buttons to do so. Some of my friends were complaining about this, and I see they're point: Jeremy Maclin broke a tackle from Ray Lewis yesterday, and that probably doesn't happen in real life. But I still like it better this way, because in real life the tackling in the NFL is so shoddy, and almost inhumanly athletic offensive players truly do scamper around defenders more easily than ever before. Plus, it's more fun when you're running the offense, and it makes games higher scoring and more exciting.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fisherman's Tale

From my early childhood I have loved fishing. This past year I considered starting a fishing club at my school: I would've called it "Da Bait Club" :). I'm not sure why I enjoy it; fishing is overpriced, overly time consuming, incredibly frustrating and at times just plain boring. Sorta like golf. It's not a very efficient hobby to have for anybody, but for our family it's a mystery we haven't given it up long ago. Until yesterday I'd never caught anything larger than 16 inches, and I've been skunked more times than I care to remember. Maybe what draws us in is the family time, or the quiet peacefulness of a river at dusk. Maybe it's the fond memories of the snacks and goodies Dad would bribe us with to impress a love for the hobby in our minds from an early age, sorta like the McDonalds' happy meals and jungle-gyms. Or maybe, just like politicians, we simply refuse to learn from our mistakes. Regardless, my father, brother, and I bought our PA fishing liscences this May with the intent to hit up the shores of local creeks, rivers, and lakes. We'd caught absolutely nothing in the 2 outings since.

So when the 4 men in the family caught a combined 25 perch from the dock in the first day of our vacation this week, we thought we were hot shit. Never mind that the largest of them was only about 10 inches, or that when dad tried to clean them they came out looking more like tater tots than filets. We were seasoned anglers! Veteran aquatic outdoorsmen! Master baiters (immature giggles...)! Yet before my Dad's "Kiss My Bass" baseball cap could be worn in full force, he wanted us to experience what it was like to catch a REAL fish. Like, one we couldn't see from the surface. That we could, like, eat. From, like, a boat. So he hired a charter boat to take us out on the Chesapeake on Saturday to solidify our upward swing in the fishing world.

Remember when I said fishing was overpriced? Well, for a half-day's worth of fishing, this trip cost $550. If, after a half-day's time, we wanted to extend it to a full day (to 3:00 PM), it would be $640. The enticing bit was that if we were skunked, we got all our money back. On the way up we were discussing different techniques for setting free a fish in case we got a bite at 2:30 when we still hadn't caught anything, because the only thing more unlucky than catching 0 fish would be catching 1 fish.

As it turned out, that wasn't a problem: we caught 68 fish. 60 bluefish, 7 striped bass, and 1 mackerel, all between the 15-21 inch range. One of my favorite assigned summer reading books ever was "The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway, but I didn't truly appreciate the depth of that dude's determination until Saturday. Our arms were sore after the first hour, and I doubt anything we caught exceeded 10 or 12 pounds.

Anyway, we'll be eating nothing but fish for the next week, which is fine by me because I love the stuff. Besides, it's got lots of Omega 3 and amino acids, so it's about the healthiest meat out there. Just don't tell PETA: they recently ran an advertisement campaign that read "You wouldn't eat fish if they were called Sea Kittens"...yeah...Actually, I would. And for the record, I would also consider eating a Land Fish.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Triflin' Hyphen Strife

Recently I’ve been thinking about a trend that I really don’t like in today’s society, and that’s the hyphenated conjunction of the male and the female’s last name upon marriage. You see this mostly among liberals and feminists. The idea behind such a "progressive" merger of last names is that the man's name should not dominate the woman's, that traditional last names are symbolic of this oppression, and by joining the two it symbolizes their equality...blah blah blah. Is this really the most practical place for feminists to take a stand? I'm all in favor of the woman keeping her old last name as is, not merging or altering it at all, especially in cases where she has a workplace identity she wishes to uphold; I suppose printing off hundreds of new business cards and the like can be a hassle! But I fail to see the miraculous newfound freedom that formerly oppressed females receive from longer surnames. The only thing such mergers truly serve to do, in my opinion, is stick up your nose at your barbaric, unenlightened, draconian one-named peers. The movie Hot Tub Time Machine, rife with high-brow social observations as it is, expands on this theory.

Now obviously, don't take offense if you have such a name and my speculation as to your intentions is misguided. In fact one of my Aunt's is named as such, and she is a very nice lady (although she lives in San Francisco...I told you!!!) But there are better ways to unleash your inner-feminist by protesting our chauvinistic society. When speaking in the second person plural, say "you folks" instead of "you guys". At your marriage, have a female do the service instead of a male. Better yet, let the girl pay for her own dinner and movie ticket (hey, I might get used to this feminism stuff after all). Have your daughter try out for the baseball team for all I care, just don't make it so that her name(s) won't fit on the back of her jersey.

But as annoying as this trend is at the moment, it would be a nightmare if it ever caught on into the mainstream. Because what happens when Barbara McIlvaine-Smith's daughter falls in love with my Pastor's son, Vanya Seamon-McGowan? We'd have a cute little married couple of Barbara and Vanya McIlvaine-Smith-Seamon-McGowan. And then their daughter would marry my aunt's son, Ian Doris-Bates, and their daughter Mary Lou could marry my neighbor Brendan Hayes-Oberest, and Ta-Da: we now have a Mary Lou McIlvaine-Smith-Seamon-McGowan-Doris-Bates-Hayes-Oberest running around.

We're not just talking inconvenience, I'm pretty sure this trend has doomed many a once-great empire. Maybe Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii would have been able to keep her throne had her generals been able to address her by name. Maybe Soviet Russia would have endured had they been able to fit names like Nataliya Alexandrovna Ivanova on the welfare checks. Maybe the sun would still never set on the British empire if the King's didn't have to waste their energy saying sentences like "I hereby knight you Sir Terrance Michael John Adamson Lee Cavendish the Sixth, the Valiant, of Shropshire!" Ok, maybe not, but names that can be uttered in two breif grunts still work just fine for me.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I've Lost My Wisdom..

...teeth. Alongside my brother, Dan, who's 16 months younger than I. At 8:30 this morning I was put on laughing gas, and made a point of not laughing just because I can. I'm one of those "mind over matter" guys, who doesn't like the idea that what my body does is beyond my control, even though I know it is, so I like to futiley fight those sorts of things. Another word for that is "moron". When he gave me the IV, I kept doing complicated math problems in my head (2500-1321 =....(thinking)....1179! ), trying to see how long I could keep my stream of conscious going and stay awake. The doctor was like "hmmm...you should be getting a bit sleepy now..." and i just shrugged my shoulders innocently. Then he injected something into my wrist, and that was the end of my mental rebellion haha. By contrast, my they told my brother as they injected him to take 5 deep breaths, after which he planned to say "Nighty Night!", and he never got the chance.

When I woke up on a cot, I felt really woozy for about a minute, but soon felt well enough to sit up and eventually walk over to the chair next to Dan's cot. He was acting like "David After Dentist". He alternated between shuddering and crying and both, and I felt bad for him because he really looked like he was having a rough go of things. After like 5 minutes he got better though, and we were able to maintain an amiable if garbled conversation. The rest of my afternoon has, and will be, full of gauze pads (causing us to sing "I am a Walrus), Vicadin (causing us to say "It's medication time" in our best One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest accent), and jello/applesauce (causing us to spill over ourselves since our bottom lips are still semi-numb). Not fun, but it could be worse.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Favorite Favorites

Anyone who uses the internet must have a "Favorites" icon in the top left corner. The origin of this ingenious little folder is convenience (which is a combination of laziness and ingenuity). You see, not only is the modern generation too lazy to read the newspaper with our hands, too lazy to purchase music at a store, to lazy to talk to our friends in person, too lazy to research using a book, too lazy to masturbate to a magazine, and too lazy to check the weather using a window, we are also too lazy to type the URL's in for the websites that expedite these tasks. For many of us, the "Favorites" folder has become the sole means of online navigation, to which we add every site we could ever possibly wish to visit.

The problem with this trend is that with more and more sites being added to our favorites, the favorites folder becomes increasingly difficult to navigate. Sites one would like to visit all the time can be buried amongst the sites you just put on your favorites so that you wouldn't need to remember the URL, and the 5 seconds it takes to scour through your list for the one you want is far too infuriating a wait for teenagers to handle. Introducing the "Favorites Bar"! Now, in addition to the favorites drop-down menu in the top left corner, you can place a button linked to your "favorite favorites" across the top of your browser. Instead of 2 clicks to get there, it now requires only one. And considering I already have 6 favorites on my favorites bar, my monitor will soon run out of space, forcing me to rank my favorite favorites in order of favoritism, to determine which favorite favorites are favored with a place on the favorites bar.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lack-of-IQ-Tests

Of all the nuisances the typical websurfer will find on the sidebar and top-bar of junky websites, one of the most persistent is the "Real IQ Test". By now I'm used to the big red crosshairs hovering over a slow-moving farm-animal, promising a "Free iPod Nano!" if you can hit the unmissable critter. I've grown accustomed to the scantily-clad babes, clutching towels or bearing absurd cleavage, advertising for Singles.com or some trashy soft-porn spam site. My eyes barely even notice the "1 Suprising Rule for a Flat Stomach" catchphrase, nor are they drawn by the dancing female animatron beneath the title "Obama Grants Tax Credit to Single Mom's, click here to claim!" But each time I see the "Real IQ Test", I can't help but chortle at the irony of such spam. You see, the only people who are likely to click on the teaser question asking "How many triangles can you see in this figure?" or what have you, are the ones who need their IQ's investigated in the first place!

The brilliance of such a ploy is that rather than demonstrate the hoops the poor fool will have to go through in order to recieve his "100% accurate score!" from the very begginning, the spammer actually allows the buffoon to take a some lengthy sham of a test first. This not only gives the illusion that the link is genuine, but more importantly it makes the victim less willing to give up his pursuit. Having already taken the lengthy test (and due to his IQ deficiency, furled up his eyebrows and scratched his scalp in fierce concentration many times during the process) he is thus far more likely to follow through with whatever purchase/personal information release the spammer desires, because not doing so means admitting he's wasted the past 40 minutes!

But the true IQ test lies not in whether there are 4, 5, 6, or 9 triangles in the diagram, but whether the taker clicks the bubble next to any of those options at all. How cruel it is that the pitious sucker who actually purchases whatever is required to recieve one's test scores will undoubtedly be dissapointed by the results of his test anyway.

He won't be too bummed, though. After all, he's gonna be rich! It's only a few more weeks until that Nigerian Prince seeking refuge in the states transfers half his fortune into his bank account!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Now this is talent...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE-JN7_rxtE&feature=player_embedded

Best video game ever, btw...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why does the USA Always Gets Rooked?!?!?!?!

Did anybody else see that call? USA was down 2-0 at the half in the USA-Slovenia game, but after 2 gutsy goals by Donovan and Bradley we tied it up in the final 8 minutes. that was an impressive comeback, but it doesn't change the fact that we got rooked out of a victory by some terrible refereeing. in the 86th minute, we had a free kick from a good position and Dou made a beautiful volley to score the go ahead goal...until the referee called offsides and voided the goal and the victory. replay showed that not only was our player onsides by a good 5 yards, but Slovenia committed 2 or 3 blatant other fouls in the box on that same play that should have resulted in a gimme penalty kick. As a result, instead of having 4 points and a commanding lead in the group, the US has 2 points and the odds stacked against them at advancing. anyone who remembers the game vs. germany in the 2002 world cup, or some of the absurd red card decisions 4 years ago knows that costly, poor referreeing decisions are not new to Team USA. why does this always happen to us? i'm so frustrated.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ole!

I'm so pumped about the World Cup! 32 nations, 63 games, 1 champion. The largest sporting event in the world only comes around once every four years, and far more people watch it than the olympics, so you need to get pumped too! With starts like Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and mostly the fantastic goalkeeper Tim Howard, the USA is in the best position to make the round of 16 it's been since 2002 after scrounging a tie with favorite England on Saturday. Even if (probably a matter of when :( ) the US is eliminated, there's nothing quite like the passion of the beautiful game on the international level. Even our high school teachers can't abate their excitement over the event; over half of mine are turning on the TV's and watching in class as the school year ticks down. More than just the athletic intensity, the world cup is a chance for dozens of very different peoples from very different cultures and dozens of different countries from all 6 continents to be united in their shared love for the same sport. The atmosphere of international compatability and togetherness is truly amazing, and for it to take place in South Africa this year, only a decade or so after apartheid, makes it extra special.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Teenaged Bully's Hand Guide to Insults

(A sarcastic peice I turned in for English class)

The cherished American tradition of picking on unpopular people is alive and well in today’s high schools. The most general term for these social outcasts is “dork”, of which there are several sub-categories and specifications. But alas, the distinction between these types of dorks are not well known among teenagers, evidencing the ineptitude of our school systems. It is critical that bullies everywhere are supplied with the correct repertoire of insults; if bullies give the wrong insult to the wrong type of dork, they risk being viewed as unintelligent oafs! In fact, misspeaking ones dork labels could even lead to being labeled a dork oneself. So in an attempt to produce savvier bullies, this essay will endeavor to explain these important distinctions.

The most general insult for anyone not deemed “cool” by their peers is a dork. Since this term is so vague, it is rarely ever used as an insult today, save only by the least creative of bullies. Rather, more specific terms explaining why the targeted teen is a dork are more heavily favored. There could be dozens of reasons for dork determination, but generally dorks may be classified into one of five overlapping categories: geeks, nerds, dweebs, losers, and weirdoes. Each of these categories can be identified by a prototypical physical appearance, wardrobe, behavioral quirks, likely school activities or other variables. Just like rectangles and squares, not all dorks fall into one of these generalizations, but all of these personas are assuredly dorks.

The first type of dork is a geek, someone whose dork status is explained by a passionate interest or hobby not shared by the geek’s peers. This hobby is not likely to be anything considered intriguing, impressive, or cool by mainstream society; people with strong interests in sports, for example are likely to receive a more popular title (in this instance, jocks). Various genres include band geeks, star trek geeks, video game geeks, or computer geeks. While appearance will vary based on this field of interest, most will wear glasses, beat up sneakers, turtlenecks, or wrinkled t-shirts supporting their area of interest. Unlike some other classes of dork, geeks are likely to openly admit their geekiness in said area; examples include the “Geek Squad” of computer repairmen who drive around in self-labeled cars. School activities will doubtlessly incorporate this hobby as well, either academically or via extracurriculars; band geeks join the marching band, computer geeks take programming electives, and male choir geeks (much more readily ridiculed than their female counterparts) join the glee club.

A nerd is a sub-division of geek whose feverish area of interest is academic study. Nerds are by far the most intelligent types of dorks, and they take great pride in their brainy pursuits, usually hailing from families that stress academic achievement. Naturally, such behavior comes at the expense of social interaction, and the most likely person a nerd might have a conversation with is their teacher. One common branch of nerd is the called the teacher’s pet, identified by a tendency to raise his hand in class and do various favors for the instructor. A nerd often sports wispy hair and is wont to wear suspenders (Steve Urkle is a classic example), short shorts, striped tube socks, t-shirts that are far too big, a pocket protector, and tighty-whities. Nerds tend to be bookworms, immersing themselves in both non-fiction works and especially fantasy books, involving dwarves, elves, wizards, dragons, and the like. Additionally, nerdy passion for fantasy worlds often combines with nerdy love of science to procure obsessions with science fiction. For this reason, if you find a dork riding to school on a segway, he or she is probably a nerd. In school activities are strictly limited to academic study, and extracurriculars are only permitted if they involve some form of mental challenge: popular nerd hangouts include chess club, speech and debate team, and the academic team. After school, further mental exercise is sought, sometimes in the form of minesweeper or Sudoku.

Dweebs are another sub-category of dork, classified exclusively by specific bodily or visual characteristics. These physical traits may include a constantly running nose, a whiny and irritable voice, excessive acne, greasy or unkempt hair, being fat, or being scrawny. Wardrobe is likely to include socks with sandals, braces, shorts that are too short, ear-warmers, fanny-packs, and perfectly circular glasses. Geeks and nerds may also have some or even all of these visual characteristics; as mentioned, there is often overlap between the five categories of dork. But distinctions prevail: nerd glasses are more likely to be square bifocals to aid in the close-range book studying, while dweebs prefer the Harry-Potter style circular frames. Extracurricular activities include the yearbook club (a transparent attempt to appear connected with the rest of the student body), and after school dweebs love to hide from face-to-face interaction by devoting themselves to videogames or computer games. Dweeb’s often overlap with nerds in their passion for fantasy worlds, which combined with the aforementioned interest makes World of Warcraft a treasured dweeb pastime.

Losers are somewhat separate from the above three categories, and much less likely to overlap. Pressure to excel is fierce in today’s society, and humans envy those lucky individuals who seem to be good at everything. Certain kids are just superb athletes, who get great grades, have romantic prowess, etc. Simply put, losers are the opposite. Losers seem to fail at whatever venture they endeavor. This unfortunate fact makes losers unique among dorks. They do not get good grades, or else they’d be a nerd; they do not excel in one specific area of interest, or else they’d be a geek. Rather, losers are poor students, worse athletes, even worse at making friends, and downright pathetic at wooing the opposite sex. Physically losers will be ugly, and their clothes will likely clash or be mismatched. The type of in-school activities or extracurriculars a loser might futilely engage in cannot be specified, but rest assured that whatever it is, the loser will fail in the attempt. After school they’re liable to drown their sorrows by collecting action figures or playing Dungeons and Dragons. Naturally this is accompanied by a severe lack of confidence, which in turn affects the loser’s physical appearance. Losers shuffle their feet, speak quietly, look down at the ground to avoid eye contact, make themselves look smaller to avoid being noticed and called on in class, or take other actions to avoid any incidence where their abilities might be tested in public. In fact, avoiding attention at their failures may be the only thing losers are skilled at doing. Much debate has arisen among dork scholars regarding the nature of this lack of confidence. Some veteran bullies insist that losers were unconfident in their abilities long before they ever began teasing them, whilst others brag that incessant public humiliation of losers is what caused the dearth of confidence and ensuing ineptitude in the first place. Regardless of where the reader stands on this chicken-and-the-egg paradigm, one may rest assured that bullies play an integral part in creating and furthering self consciousness, a role that will only be expanded now that the reader can identify a loser.

The final classical category of dork is a weirdo, which is a difficult definition to nail down. Weirdoes may fit into the above categories as well, but this is merely by chance. In order to be a true weirdo one must exhibit a certain odd, unorthodox, or eccentric characteristic that separates and alienates the weirdo from his peers. A weirdo may have bright green, spiked hair, for instance; based solely on first impression, many would hesitate to approach such a person or pursue a friendship with them. Other variables may elicit a similar response. Perhaps the weirdo is in some way disabled, has a speaking disorder so that he or she slurs his or her words. Maybe the weirdo talks to himself, or has body odor, or is a male with egregiously long fingernails, or has lice, or is pregnant. Weirdoes may have an odd obsession with a person or thing, like Elvis, perhaps, or President Carter, or carrots. The possibilities are endless. Because of this innumerable variety of weirdo types, it is impossible to nail down a specific physical appearance, wardrobe, behavior, or school activities to associate with the term. But without question, whatever those things are, they will be weird. Unfortunately, unusual sexuality or the misplaced suspicion of it also falls under this category. Indeed, the root word of weirdo is weird, which is a synonym for queer. If the cause of a boy’s social isolation is that he wears skintight bike shorts and is on the cheerleading and dance teams, or the nature of a girl’s social isolation is that she has a goatee and plays on the wrestling team, weirdo would be the appropriate insult. The phrase has the added benefit of avoiding LGBT confusion by generalizing them all under one term. This way, bullies don’t have to worry about accidentally offending anyone.

With these distinctions established, today’s bully is equipped to deliver his insults with pinpoint accuracy. The noble art of demeaning, teasing, insulting, attacking, pestering, bothering, annoying, irking and peeving others for personal entertainment can only be effectively practiced with an informed vocabulary. Clarifying the distinctions between various bullying lingo aids in this pursuit. While the above list is incomplete and the definitions not extensive, they should provide a solid nucleus of bullying knowledge and enable easier dork identification.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Call of Duty--Real Life Edition

To any of my meager following who happen to be Call of Duty gamers, I figured I'd make you all jealous by listing the weapons I go to see, hold, and use at West Point:

M9 pistol

claymore (awesome)

M16 (longer barrell, more cumbersome but better range and accuracy than below)

M4 (shorter barrell than above, better for urban combat)

AT4 Rocket Launcher

Thumper

M203 grenade launcher (AKA the noob tube)

AK-47

Uzi

M240 machine gun

the Stryker (aka the Honey Badger, that big tank thing you lase targets for in campaign mode. went inside one. swiveled around the heat sensing turrett. sweet)

and my personal favorite:

the Barrett .50 Caliber Sniper. unreal.

Jealous much?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

West Point

I apologize for the slowed pace of my posts. I have not, fortunately, run ouy of underage thoughts, I have merely run out of time with which to share them! I have been uber-overworked this last week as we prepare for finals. Next week I will also be unable to post, due to the Summer Leadership Seminar at West Point! I was very excited to get into this camp, as only a few hundred applicants do, and it supposedly puts you on the fast track to acceptance if I were to choose that path. It's a huge decision, this whole college shabang, and hopefully this upcoming week will aid in my decision making on making a potentially monumental life choice by entering the armed forces! West Point is as presitgious a university as they come, and heck instead of tuition I get a salary just to go there, which is always a perk :). I'm looking forward to a challenging but fun and informative week, and I'll be sure to post my thoughts on it when I get back.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Homework Loaded Weekends

The school year is winding down and my workload isn't as bad as it had been for most of the year. But yet again I find myself with a big history project and 2 english essays to write over the weekend. I would estimate that 80% of my home time is spent sitting in front of this monitor, either for homework or leisure. It's probably not healthy :( At least I play tennis and baseball to get some physical activity in, but I'd bet big homework loads have a lot to do with teenage obesity problems.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A DMV Horror Story

A humorous description of my fiasco at the Department of Motor Vehicles this past September

Just after the completion of my driving lessons in preparation for my liscense test, I came to realize that I had misplaced my drivers permit. Search as I may, it was nowhere to be found.

"Oh well" I thought to myself. "I'll just have my Dad drive me down the the DMV and we'll pick up a copy. I'm sure stuff like this happens all the time. No big deal, right?" I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Not wanting to be unprepared before embarking on this 30 minute excursion, I logged on to the Pennsylvania DMV website at about 12:30 to make sure I had brought all the neccesary materials. After searching through the "teen drivers" page and finding the "Reacquire/Extend/Duplicate Permit" page, I was informed that I would first need to fill out a "DL-31" form, which they thoughtfully had a link to right on the site. How helpful! I had the option of mailing it in and getting my permit through the mail within 7-10 business days, or merely bringing it in to the DMV office and picking it up over the counter that day. How convenient!

After clicking the link, my computer informed me with an obnoxiously loud dong that I did not have the latest version of Adobe Reader installed, and could not view/print this form until I did so. 10 minutes and several little green bars later, my printer spewed out this 1 page document...on 2 seperate pages. A careful reinspection of the document informed me that it was 1 page with a back, and was not valid if printed any other way. But oh no, that couldnt stop me! A few minutes of careful deliberation later I discovered that by printing this document 1 page at a time and reinserting the freshly printed page back into the paper tray, I could acheive a two sided print. After grabbing my wallet (because after all, there might be a fee and I might need some ID), we were on our way.

Filling out the form while sitting in the passenger seat, I noticed a signature-sized box labeled "Notary: Only Needed if applicant is under 18". Understand that this is an application to get a second copy of a drivers PERMIT, not a liscence. In a state in which the driving age is 16, how many people still have their permit (which expires after 1 year) after the age of 18? My guess is about 5. And yet they didnt feel it neccesary to write that a notary was required for all signatures of under 16 applicants save for a tiny little box in the bottom lefthand corner. "What!?!" I exclaimed to Dad. "Apparently I need to get this notarized."

"Well you didnt already sign it, did you?" he asked.

"Ummmm...." I replied.

But never fear: I had printed a second copy for just such a scenario and though to bring it with me. God I'm smart. We changed course in the direction of the nearest notary office. Apparently the notary got these cases a lot, because she recognized the form and before I opened my mouth to explain why we were there she said "You need a permit duplicate?". After having her officially watch me sign 2 other forms, she checked the computer database and found that Andrew Doris did indeed have a drivers permit issued to him, and it had not expired yet. After charging us 21 dollars for her, uh, "services", she told us my permit would arrive in the mail in 1-2 weeks.

"Whoa, hold on" my Dad told her. "I thought I could just pick it up at the DMV right now."

"Oh don't worry, we'll call you as soon as it comes in. That way you don't have to drive all the way out to Frazer to get it! It's much easier this way."

"Ya but I want it now" I informed her. "Will the DMV give it to me today?"

After casting an unsure glance back to her boss for assistance, the boss informed us through a glass screen that yes, you can get it there, but "they're not legally required to give it to you".

"But they will, right?" I clarified.

"Maybe, but they don't have to" she reminded us helpfully. Wanting to make sure we didnt drive all the way out to Frazer only to be told that they don't feel like giving it to us, Dad valiantly tried to call the DMV via operator. After 3 unsuccessful computer-animated-voice-reads, he cussed, hung up, and said "We'll take our chances". Notarized form in hand, we head off to Frazer.

In a hurry to get there, my Dad honks at some idiot on the road who not only refuses to turn right on red, but refuses to turn when it's green as well. After keeping us stuck behind her crawling at a snails pace for several miles she finally pulls off the road...right into the same DMV office we are headed to. She is also a teenaged driver, mother beside her, trying to learn the rules of the road from her parents just like me, and some impatient hothead just blared his horn at her.

Rushing to get in the office without making eye-contact with the flustered youngster, we enter the door and find ourselves last in a lengthy line of angry people. As one fuming middle-aged man exits, confused teenager son tailing behind him, he mutters under his breath "I feel like I'm in f***ing Egypt." Neither me or Dad are quite sure what that means, but (no offense to Egyptians) we take it as a bad omen.

When we finally reach the counter, a plump woman greets us with a smile. "I'd like a duplicate permit please" I say as I hand her the notarized form.

"Got ID?" she asks.

"Sure do" I reply cheerfully as I hand her my YMCA membership card, complete with name and picture.

"Uh uh, that won't cut it." she replies. "You got a birth certificate? social security card? passport?" When we inform her that we do not, she shakes her head at us for our ignorance and hands us a typed printout. "This was online." she explains. "Next".

Not bothering to waste my time challenging her, Dad and I walk out of the office pissed off. "The whole purpose of a notary is to confirm that signature was written by you" my Dad vents. "What's the purpose of paying for a notary if you need to prove your identity all over again to the DMV? Had I agreed to let that lady at the notaries office mail it to us, we wouldnt have recquired any ID at all!"

"And why are they so damn picky about what type of ID you present?" I chip in. "If I were applying for a new permit, that's one thing. But I'm only trying to reprint the same permit I already legally acquired the first time!"

The printout she handed us has 2 large paragraphs of technical jargon, most of it I know already, and the last line says "you must provide identification in accordance with order P-15" yada yada yada. Clearly, we determine, order P-15 must be mighty specific about what types of ID are valid and which aren't. The picture on my YMCA card was taken within a year, I look exactly like it, and the same goes for my High School Student ID cards, which are also deemed no good. The reason any ID must be provided at all is due to a law designed to prevent those who cannot legally acquire a permit/license from acquiring one. This group is mostly made up of felons and illegal immigrants. I hardly think I look like either, but I suppose rules are rules.

Angered but determined, I remember that I have my passport right on Mom's desk at home. We drive 30 minutes back home, grab my passport, and as backup write down my social security number from old tax forms. Then we hop right back in the van, drive back up to the office, and just slide in 20 minutes before it closes. This time, there is no line, and the women greets us with a smile.

"Okay, back again" I say as I proudly present her the notarized, completed form AND the passport. "I'd like a duplicate permit please."

"You got your social security card?" she snaps, cocking an eyebrow.

"Ya I have my number right here" I reply, showing her the number we scrawled on a post-it note.

"No I said do you have your card" the women repeats.

"You don't understand" Dad says irritably, seeing where this is going. "We don't even have a card for him in our possession. I don't have a card either, but we have the number on that card, which is all that matters in the first place.”

"He's gotta have a card" the woman informs us. Pointing to the same internet printout she gave us an hour ago, she points to the very bottom line where it says "order P-15 and P-....and Social Security Card". "I can't belieeeeeeve you didn't bring it this time!" she says demeaningly, as if we were immeasurable idiots for not understanding her casual dismissal. "I gaaavve you the form."

Unable to believe our ears, we stammer out a few explanations before she tells us "There's people in line behind you, please sit down." As we confusedly walk away, she kindly adds "Oh, and take your stuff".

After calling Mom to find that my Social Security Card has been locked away in a safety deposit box ever since we last needed it to GET my first permit, we turn back to the car infuriated. Since the office closes soon, we don't have time to go to the bank. "Does that idiotic bitch realize that I pay her entire salary?" Dad quips, irate. "She gets better benefits than I do for sitting behind that desk and making life hard for people. THIS is why people hate the DMV. That passport is good enough identification to grant you access to any country in the entire world, but its not sound enough ID to get you a permit."

"A copy of my permit" I corrected him. "They have a government database with all my information right in their computer. Forget my social security number; they already know the date my first permit was issued, my height, weight, age, birthday, grades, favorite color, and preferred brand of toothpaste. I have provided my name, 3 types of ID, a notarized signature, and my passport and they STILL cant just print out a COPY of the permit that I already have?"

After calming down, we decide to just mail it in ourselves under the "7-10 business days" plan. When we arrive home 4 hours, 6 printed sheets of paper, 3 forms of ID, and 2 faulty customer service run-ins later, I am still permitless.

There are 2 morals to this story:
1. DON'T LOSE YOUR PERMIT!
2. If this is how the goverment handles replacing lost permits, how are they going to run Healthcare?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Political Dream Team

The good guys of American politics, all in office simultaneously, at the one position they would be best at. Some of these guys I love, and just had to find a position for regardless of what it was. Some of them I don't like, but think they'd be good at whatever position they were assigned to. Others are funny and just for kicks and giggles. But still, imagine the possibilities if all of these guys were in office at the same time...

President: Abraham Lincoln
Vice-President: Ronald Reagan
Speaker of the House: Henry Clay

Cabinet:
Secretary of the Treasury: F.A. Hayek
Secretary of the Interior: James Madison
Secretary of War: Robert E. Lee
Secretary of Defense: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Secretary of Homeland Security: John McCain
Secretary of Agriculture: Thomas Jefferson
Secretary of Commerce: Milton Friedman
Secretary of Education: Benjamin Franklin
Secretary of Energy: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Secretary of Health and Human Services: John F. Kennedy
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Barack Obama
Secretary of Labor: Henry Ford
Secretary of the State: Grover Cleveland
Secretary of Transportation: Paul Revere
Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Ulysses S. Grant
Attorney General: George Washington

Supreme Court Justices: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams (because who better to interpret the constitution than those who wrote it? And they’re allowed to hold their aforementioned offices simultaneously), plus John Marshall, Thurgood Marshall, Daniel Webster, and Ron Paul

Notable Congressmen: H.L. Mencken, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, John Hicks, Alan Greenspan, John Adams, everyone who signed the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, Martin Luther King Jr., Chuck Norris, Thomas Reed, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Arne Duncan, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thomas Edison, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George H.W. Bush, Ben Stein, Drew Carey, John Stossel, Thomas Sowell, Nick Gillespie, Veronique de Rugy, Frederick Douglas, Matt Welch, David Harsanyi, Jacob Sullum, Shikha Dalmia, Ayn Rand, Brett Favre, Elihu Root, Anna Schwartz,

Other Miscellaneous Positions:
Chairman of the Federal Reserve: Ludwig von Mises
Chairman of Environmental Protection Agency: Theodore Roosevelt
United Nations Ambassadors: Woodrow Wilson and John Lennon

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bo Burnham: Youtube Meme

Who out there has heard of the great Bo Burnham? Bo is a 19 year old comedian, musician, and parodist made famous by his youtube videos, which have received over 60 million views. He writes and plays comedic, politically incorrect songs, and I think he's totally hysterical. Some of his best songs are "New Math", "My Whole Family (thinks I'm gay)", "The Perfect Woman", "Cookout", "Bo Fo' Sho", "Rehab Center for Fictional Characters", "I'm Bo Yo", and others. He does some fake rap, plays guitar and piano, uses lots of intelligent puns, and throws in a bunch of sexual, racial, or insensitive jokes to target a teen audience. Plus he's got a great voice and is a talented musicion. Here's one of his videos, you can search through the others yourself. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQZ3mNX2FyY&feature=related

The Frisbee Fanatic

Today (or rather yesterday, it being what was considered tommorow when I woke) was Rustin's Community Fair, which featured a dozen or so of Rustin's extra-curriculars enjoying a pleasant afternoon of beautiful weather, great food, and enjoyable live music by a student band. But as pleasant as this was, everyone in attendance knew that all of those factors played second fiddle to what went on in the football feild next to the fair's booths: the main event, the big attraction, the King-Da-Ka of Rustin intramural sporting glory, the pinnacle of student-body bragging rights that is the Ultimate Frisbee Tournament.

Of course, this is not the only opportunity Rustiners have to play "the more beautiful game." Ultimate Frisbee goes on all year round. We define our season's duration as "From whenever the snow melts to whenever the Frisbee gets too icy to catch." Our weekly meetings are competitive enough already, so much so that we keep individual offensive statistics on our club website ( http://www.wcufc.webs.com/ ). But the annual Community Fair tournament takes it up a notch. To compete here requires the stamina of soccer, the physicality of hockey, the metnal toughness of football, the precision of speed skating, and the intensity of a caged gladiator wrestling match between a man and an ill-tempered platypus. 10 teams from 2 seperate high schools were able to meet today for over 5 hours of Frisbeeing Frenzy, and everyone had a great time.

But you know when your parents used to tell you "Hey, so long as we all have fun, we're all winners?" Well, it's a load of crap. As Vince Lombardi once said, "If we aren't playing to win, then why bother keeping score?" My team, the Disc Jockeys (you may notice I have a thing for puns....) went 4-0 with a total margin of victory of +24. Despite our dominance, we were not yet crowned the champions we must defeat 2 teams in tommorow's playoff round to win our prize. Not that any prizes are needed besides the sweet scent of defeated enemies and the primal, testosterone-filled chest bumps that ensue, but the winners additionaly recieve some elite, expensive, premium grade frisbees for our own. And these aren't just any frisbees. Remember in that godawful movie "Blades of Glory" where Will Ferrell goes on a rant about how much he loves his hairbrush? ""Not just a brush but a Verticoli. Handmade in Italy. They carve it out of illegal whalebone. They only make eleven of them a year. This one cost me $12,000 or 30 million lira. Perfectly balanced, low drag, minimal torque...No exaggeration, I could not love a baby as much as I love this brush." Yeah, well that's about how we feel about these frisbees.

No longer is Ultimate Frisbee the realm of hippies and weirdo's not good enough to play any "real" sports. No, our team beat the team with all the football players on it 11-2 today. We made one of the girls on their team cry when she missed the frisbee and it hit her in the lip. We laughed. Get on our level.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Blogging Newbie

Hello everyone! By everyone I mean me, that is, at least until I get some followers :). My name is Andrew Doris and I'm a Junior at Bayard Rustin High School. I love writing, history, politics, sports, eating, board games, card games, music, and spending time with my friends and family.

I've created this blog because I have recently gotten the opportunity to intern at the Daily Local News through their new iJournalist project. This should be a big source of my traffic, but of course anyone is welcome to follow my posts and hopefully even humor me with some comments!

As for my plans for what to blog about, I can't say exactly. The blog's title is a funny pun (especially to a teen), but vague, and that's on purpose: I want free reign to post about whatever I happen to be thinking about at the time. So, then, I'm sure any prospective followers would like to know what I frequently think about! I love politics and sports, and I'm sure there will be a lot of posts on those topics. But I'll also just have some funny, fairly deep observations about some other things in everyday life. I envision the blog being a collection of funny youtube videos, political diatribes, links to good songs stuck in my head at the time, pro-sports commentaries, witty remarks on teen living, and a motley assortment of other amusing odds-n-ends.

So please do check in every once in while, and I promise to keep it updated and entertaining.