1

Response to a Cracked Article

Hey friends. Today, I’d like to respond to an article on Cracked.com. So go ahead and read it HERE, and we’ll begin when you get back.

Don’t worry. I’ll wait. I have to. I’m just text on a screen, where did you think I was going to go?

All done? Cool. Ok, let’s start with some areas of confusion. Maybe it has to do with my autism or maybe it has to do with my tendency to over-think everything, but for some reason I thought guys were supposed to make friends with a woman before we asked her out. I mean, otherwise we’re just asking out every woman we’re attracted to within seconds of meeting them. “Hello, Woman Number 9,587. You seem like a cool person. Want to go on a date?”

Plus, why would you want to go on a date with someone you’re not friends with? “Hello, Woman Number 9,588. I know we don’t know each other, and we’re only talking because we’re standing in the same Wendy’s checkout line, but do you want to go on a date knowing absolutely nothing about each other?”

On second thought, I take that back. She might turn out to be Batgirl.

On second thought, I take that back. She might turn out to be Batgirl.

But hey, maybe that stranger who pours your coffee at Starbucks isn’t secretly Bat-girl? Maybe she’s just a normal person who’s just aching for some honest, human interaction?

Or a vampire.

Or a vampire?

Hey, is that what you guys do? Just go around letting people know when you’re attracted to them, as soon as you can? Because that seems creepy. By creepy, I mean that I’ve had women tell me that seems creepy. Plus, from what I’ve seen at least, most women like to get to know a guy for a little while before going on a date. But then, what’s the appropriate quantity of time? Is it the three-day rule? Is a month too long? What if you were, like, really, really busy? Or just forgot?

And hey, don’t get me wrong. I totally agree with Mr. Gladstone’s points here. I’m just curious about the timing. Thankfully, I have gotten a bit better at it. Here’s a free tip: If you can’t tell whether she’s interested, she’s probably not. And that won’t change. Like, ever. There’s a woman I like right now. I’m about 98% sure she doesn’t feel the same way as I do, and that is ok. Everyone’s entitled to their own feelings. I’m not Emoto, Lord of Emotions. That said, I really enjoy our conversations and would be honored to continue being her friend because friendship is a good thing.

As for letting women know how you feel, well, I think most can tell. At least with me. I’m pretty easy to read. That said, it is always better to be upfront and honest. Do not fear the Awkwardness! Embrace Risk!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a phone call to put off making because I am a pretty nervous guy, all things considered.

…And Another Thing

Part of the problem comes from thinking of the Friend Zone as a trap. Just because it has the word “zone” in it, doesn’t make it a trap. Examples of zones that are not traps (or if they are, traps in which I would be content to stay trapped):

1. The Happy Puppy Zone (in which puppies run around in the sun, being happy and cute forever)
2. The Free Candy Zone (in which there is free candy)
3. The Forbidden Zone (because I am a rebel)
4. The Superhero Zone (where you get to be a superhero)
5. The Pony/Horse/Elephant/Pig/Battle-Cat Zone (where everyone gets a pony, horse, elephant, pig, or Battle-Cat to ride)

And yes, the Friend Zone. (Oh no! I’m trapped in the Friend Zone! I have no choice but to crack jokes and sing karaoke and drink hot cocoa and split the cost of a pizza and watch movies and argue about which color lightsaber Princess Leia would use! Whatever will I do?!)

I really want my own BattleCat now.

I really want my own Battle-Cat now.

Sources:

Photograph by greyloch from Washington, DC, area, U.S.A.Batgirl (Stephanie Brown)   (8539844243) CC BY-SA 2.0

“Vampir” by Ernst Stohr, 1899. Public Domain.

Photo of Battle-Cat figure from http://www.he-man.org/collecting/toy.php?id=541&image=1435

5

American Narcissus – Thoughts on UCSB

The Greeks told a story of a man named “Narcissus.” Narcissus was very handsome, and he knew it. One day, he happened to peer into a river and caught a glimpse of his own reflection. Narcissus fell in love. He became so enamored with his own image that he fell into the river and drowned.

Our culture is constantly harping on Self. Self-esteem, self-help, self-improvement. We seek lovers, but we have no interest in loving, only in being loved. We seek food and drink, but we have no interest in satiation, only in satisfaction.

We consume everything. Clothes, food, television, each other. We consume as if consuming were the same as enjoying.

Maybe I should invest in a life-jacket.

Stay safe this summer, America.

blue-water-background-3

Update (because this story just CONTINUES to piss me off):

There are people who, in the aftermath of the UCSB shooting, defended the actions of mass-murdering, misogynist psychopath Elliott Rodgers. These people exist. They ride the bus. They own swimming pools. They queue politely at the “Please Wait To Be Seated” sign at Chili’s.

This didn’t happen after Columbine. This didn’t happen after Virginia Tech. This didn’t happen after Therrell.

Let’s ignore for the moment that a shooting that left 5 Atlanta high school kids injured barely made the local news. What the heck is wrong with our culture that we’ll defend Rodgers but not that crazy Connecticut guy? What, because Rodgers was a victim? Oh, boo hoo. He couldn’t get a date and had to stay a virgin. Horror of horrors. Guess that justifies ultra-violence. No. It doesn’t.

Rodgers’s actions were indefensible. His videos are indefensible. His entire philosophy was a warm blanket of narcissism coated in a thick layer of hate.

I’m sorry to get this upset on a weekend. Rodgers ruined my Memorial Day, and the stink of him lingers. Rant over. Let us never speak of this again.

 

0

And Another Thing…

WARNING: The following post contains adult content. If you’re not ready to grow up or you’re under the age of 17, please proceed with caution.

Liberal arts degrees are not useless. I majored in history and minored in English. I was a few credits short of a philosophy minor. I live at home with my parents and am now unemployed (though I’ll be going back to school for teaching).

Is it easier to get a job as an engineering major or a math major or a science major?

Of course it is.

But I didn’t major in history to get a “good job.” I majored in history because I like history. Learning about history, reading the classics of literature, and studying the works of the great thinkers helped mold me into the caring, thoughtful person I am today. My education was an investment. And it has paid off, I assure you. True, I don’t make much money. My career/adulthood was placed somewhat on hold. But I don’t blame my major for that.

If I’d majored in physics or biology, I may never have been exposed to the works of Descartes, Plato, or Joyce. I do not blame Omar Khayyam for the current economy.

"I don't care what you major in, so long as you're not a whiny little brat about it." --Omar Khayyam, 1128

“I don’t care what you major in, so long as you’re not a whiny little brat about it.” –Omar Khayyam, 1128

Yes, if I’d gone pre-med, maybe I’d have a job by now. Maybe I’d have made a good doctor. I never considered the medical field. Maybe I’ll try that someday.

But my case is different. I’m a pretty clever kid, and I honestly feel I could learn and practice any trade. Maybe that’s arrogance. If so, I apologize.

I also have autism, a neurological condition which affects the way I process information. The way my brain is wired, simple, everyday things may simply not occur to me. I never considered applying for a job at Coca-Cola or one of the telecoms or IT companies in my area. I just didn’t. I didn’t know where to look for work when I first graduated college.

Instead, I started my own freelance grant-writing business and worked on my novel. I’ve had several jobs since college. Many menial. I’ve applied for positions at CNN (mainly their one entry-level Video Journalism position), but I’d had little luck. If teaching doesn’t work out, I’ll probably try applying at other more traditional companies. I don’t know why the thought  didn’t occur to me in my 20s.

But then, I’m a bit like a brontosaurus in that respect. Step on my tail, wait an hour for a response.

Should every college student major in math and science? Should every child aspire to be an engineer?

Yes, the demand is and always has been greater for techies than artists. But if, like me, you have no great love for calculations, why should you torture yourself? Why spend years in a field you can’t stand?

Why not just study what you want and let the chips fall where they may?

I don’t think the problem is liberal arts degrees. I think the problem is lack of drive, lack of vision. Too many of us don’t know who we are or where we’re going or who we’re going to be when we get there. Worse, too many of us aren’t doing a gorram thing to fix that. We’re content to complain and angst all over ourselves. I’m not saying we’re lazy. We’re worse than lazy. We work all day, every day, at jobs we hate for too little money. We think we have no choices because we only want to take easy ones. We’ve lost the desire for adventure. The thrill of taking risks. We’ve forgotten Ms. Frizzle.

We’ve become far too comfortable where we are. The first human beings were nomads. When did we become so eager to sit around all the darn time? Rather than live up to the legacy of the great explorers, lovers, fighters, and artists of the past 3000 years, we seem content with less. We’ve grown so complacent, that far from settling for second-best, we barely reach fourth or fifth-best.

Why are you sending out resumes you know will be junked? Why are you spending hours watching Judy Greer talk about her lady parts on Funny or Die? Why are you still on Facebook at 3 o’clock in the afternoon?

WAKE UP!

STOP WAITING FOR PERMISSION!

Get off my website and go do that thing you’ve been meaning to do all morning.

0

Arguments I’m Tired of Having Answered Here in One Sentence Each

There are a lot of stupid people out there. By which I mean there are a lot of people out there who disagree with me on all sorts of topics. Ordinarily, I’m more than happy to argue with/punch these people, but there are certain arguments I just refuse to have anymore. Don’t worry. There aren’t many, and I’ll present and answer each below with one sentence each. Enjoy (or cringe, as the case may be).

1. Our college has African American Studies and Latino Studies and Feminist Studies, so why can’t we have Old White People Studies?

You already do, and it’s called Every Other Course You Will Take At University.

2. 9/11 was an inside job!

Yes it was, but only if by “an inside job” you mean “plotted by Al-Qaeda insiders.”

3. Christmas is under attack!

Holy Mother Church doesn’t give a flying fart about Christmas trees, you ignorant fear-monger.

4. Most welfare recipients are cheating the system.

OMG, one guy on welfare got to eat lobster and NOTHING ELSE FOR A WEEK BECAUSE FOOD STAMPS AREN’T ALL-ACCESS BUFFET CARDS.

5. Political Correctness is out of control!

Because you’re not allowed to say the N-word without fear of rebuke?

6. OMG, we should totes  arrest a guy for quoting Winston Churchill!

If we’re going to start condemning historical figures for off-color comments, we’ll have to condemn everyone born before 1980, as my generation was the first to grow up learning from birth that the N-word is actually incredibly offensive.

7. Muslims are taking over!

I guess you’re right, if by “taking over” you mean “immigrating to European nations in search of a better way of life and then proceed to have more babies than their native-born neighbors because lots of liberals are too stupid to realize pregnancy isn’t a damn disease,” but go ahead and have more babies if it makes you feel any better.

8. The problem with all these illegals is that they steal jobs from Americans, won’t learn English, and force us to learn Spanish!

Immigration without assimilation leads to the horror of St. Patrick’s Day parades and Godfather sequels. 

9. Women need to practice modesty because men are too stupid to control themselves and might rape them or otherwise be led into sin.

And believe it or not, I’m actually a conservative. And it’s precisely because I’m a conservative that I find the above arguments distasteful. While today’s political climate would require me to explain the previous statement, I refuse to. It’s not my fault no one’s read Plato, Pascal, or Kierkegaard for the past century.

Let me instead close by suggesting that humility, mercy, and compassion are not polite suggestions but actual virtues we, as Christians, are expected to practice. If you’re not Christian, you may have even heard that before.

2

Different People Are Different…And Also People

Because I have no intention of watching "Requiem for a Dream," loved "Black Swan," and may very well see "Noah" when it moves to TBS.

Because I have no intention of watching “Requiem for a Dream,” loved “Black Swan,” and may very well see “Noah” when it debuts on TBS.

LGBTQ (RSTUVWXYZ, seriously guys, get a better acronym) causes have been in the news a lot recently. And by news, I of course mean the two or three online mags I check out from time to time.

But aside from the gay marriage issue, which I’ve spoken about before, I’d like to talk today about the transgender community, a community which — as a straight, white, Christian man — I am in no way qualified to  talk about.

You might be surprised to hear this from someone who has no problem with the government legalizing homosexual marriage and no problem with mosques being built in or around NYC, but I’m actually fairly conservative.

As a practicing Catholic, I subscribe to a binary sex system, which dictates that there are two sexes built for each other. I can’t help but believe that a person so uncomfortable in their own flesh as to necessitate identifying entirely with the opposite sex is by definition mentally-imbalanced.

Of course, that’s only my opinion. I’ve only taken one college-level psychology class, and it was an audited course, which means I’ve taken zero college-level psychology classes. 

There’s a bit of a stigma attached to mental disease/disorder. As an autistic person, I can assure you there is nothing “wrong” or “broken” about anyone with mental illness. Bipolar disorder, ADD, OCD, and all the other anxiety-causing, hallucination-inducing what-have-you’s are no less shameful than the common cold or any physical handicap.

Likewise, there’s nothing to “cure” when it comes to certain forms of mental illness. Autism, Down Syndrome, and even bipolar disorder are not diseases in the sense that the only “cure” would be a complete rewiring and rebuilding of the patient’s brain.

Good luck with that.

Good luck with that.

If you “cured” me of my autism, I’d no longer be recognizable as “me.” That’s what happens when you mess too much with the brain. A scary thought, especially for folks like myself who believe in the existence of Spirit and the immaterial, immortal nature of the human soul.

That said, treatment is available and highly-desirable for most forms of mental illness. Some of us can’t function in any real sense without our medicine, and that’s ok. No one would be surprised that a paraplegic requires a wheelchair. No one should be shocked to discover that a man with paranoid schizophrenia requires a daily dose to keep the hallucinations down to a bare minimum.

But none of that really applies to transgender folks.

With what little research I’ve done into trans-related issues, I’ve discovered that the only reliable treatment for transgender folk is for them to go ahead and be the sex/gender they identify as being. Therapeutic attempts at helping them accept their birth-sex have met with mixed results, to say the least.

Of course, that’s assuming therapy is even an option. That’s assuming the person in question hasn’t already faced bullying on par with the Spanish Inquisition.

So what are we “normals” to do? How should we treat those who are different?

The answer should be obvious. 

The idea of loving one’s neighbor is not a new one.

"It has been found difficult and left untried."

“It has been found difficult and left untried.”

Indeed, good sir. And maybe it is too difficult for some of us to conceive of loving someone far different from ourselves. Perhaps it would be easier for us to start with politeness.

First: What NOT To Do

1. Don’t ask someone about the condition of their genitals. Not a stranger, not someone you just met, not even your friends. Seriously, it’s rude.

2. Don’t beat someone to death because they had a penis when you thought they’d have a vagina. Beating people to death is wrong. Seriously, I shouldn’t have to tell you this. It’s wrong to rape. It’s wrong to murder. How do you not know this already? Are you from the moon?

3. Don’t stare at odd-looking folks. Every so often, I see certain folks on the train or at a grocery store. At first glance, I can’t tell if these folks are women dressed as men, transgender folks, men dressed as women, or some other category I can’t be bothered to look up at the moment because I got other stuff to do today, and I’m running behind as it is. What do I do when faced with these people?

I smile and continue about my day. I don’t stare. I don’t ask them personal questions. I treat them like everyone else I happen to run into, with love and respect. This is not that difficult. It’s what your mother taught you. It’s what the Church teaches. This should not be new. It is not a new concept.

What To Do

Here’s a list of ways to interact with transgender folks, other members of the LGBTQ community, members of minority ethnic groups, people with different hair color or skin tone or eye color than you, people with different religious affiliations, and people who hate everything.

1. Smile.

2. Nod.

3. Interact as you would with anyone else.

Seriously, that’s all. Show a basic level of human empathy and politeness to others. If a Different Person asks you for the time, pull out your watch or phone or alarm clock and tell them what time it is. If a Different Person asks you for a haircut, give them one and charge them the right rate. Unless you’re not a hair-stylist or barber, in which case, you are free to refuse service.

Seriously, why would you ask me for a haircut? I don’t even own one of those squeaky barbershop chairs.

Update: My stance on the gay marriage issue has since changed, slightly. While as a Christian, I cannot vote for it, as an American, I will not vote against it. The government has no right to forbid the marriage of two consenting adults. I call shenanigans on that. Shenanigans, all around.

Shenanigans.

0

Book Update — Ahh! So Close!

Hey, folks.

Been rethinking the map of my world, both in a geographical and political sense. I’d put my Lost Order of Good Guys too far away from the Evil Bad Land for them to be effective.  And it makes no sense for a wizard’s tower to be that deep in the dragons’ mountains.

Anyway, the point here is I have to give it one more round of personal editing, then another professional edit, then let some writers’ groups look at it and all that.

Once that’s done, I’ll start submitting again to agents.

Frustrating, I know. Will let you know as soon as it’s done.

The good news is the first book is the hardest one. The rest will come out much quicker!

2

Holy Farting Sharks…

The Optimist’s Umbrella will be updating in about 9 hours with a filler piece, composed more out of obligation than anything else. I just couldn’t think of a topic.

Then I turned on the news.

Russia might not be trying to take over parts of Ukraine, but, you know, they’re doing a pretty dead-on impression of it. Combine that with Russia’s thousand-year-quest for beachfront property, and well, here we go again, kiddies.

I’ve said for a while now that Russia’s been acting a lot more like Russia lately. Putin’s a total different bag from Yeltsin. Under Yeltsin, Russia was all warm and nice and polite. They were basically France.

Not anymore, folks. The Bear is back and he is pissed the hell off!

Speaking of Putin, is anyone else thrown off by this guy? First off, how is he still in charge? They have free elections in Russia. I know. I’ve lived through at least two of them.

I’d thought Putin wasn’t the president or premier or whatever anymore. It’s like if we elected Barack Obama, but kept listening to Jimmy Carter into the 2010s.

Ok, fine. So, he’s the President of Russia now. Whoopdee-doo.

But I thought this whole Pan-Slavic, nationalistic, “Russia for Russians,” self-determination-for-all-ethnic-groups thing went out of style the day we dropped the Bomb?

Now, Russia’s acting all big and bad cuz they want the Crimean peninsula?

Paging Nurse Nightingale to Ward One…

Uh…WTF?

This and Arizona and the ongoing healthcare thing where our President decided to give us our medicine because it’s for our own good and it’s all just…BLEEEEERRGGH!

The Affordable Care Act isn’t that big of a deal to me, honestly. Aside from taxpayer-funded abortions, I really don’t care that much. I’ve never picked my own doctor before. Continuing to not have a choice isn’t a downgrade.

I’m more concerned with the fact that on one side, we have an honest-to-God egomaniacal dictatorship forming, and on the other hand, our own president has an army of flying killer robots.

Is this the future or the past?

Have we all gone nuts or stupid?

Are we human or are we dancer?

What the hell is Brandon Flowers even singing about?

Well…

I really need to see this movie.

And dammit, I miss Philip Seymour Hoffman!