Tuesday, January 31, 2006

300 Pound Bench Press

When I threw shotput, I would work myself into a fury. I would find a competitor whose existence infuriated me. Anger got the hormones flowing. Anger stimulated me. Anger aided my performance.

I will still get mad in the weight room to push myself. Today was one of those days. I needed a stimulant to get me through three sets of five of 265. I needed something to compensate for my four hours of sleep. I did all three sets. I can still max at least 300.

The thing about this technique is that I have to come down. At track meets it only took finishing and looking at beautiful women run around the track. In the weight room it only takes finishing the bench press. I cannot get motivated for any other lift.

Today after finishing the bench, I realized the futility of my existence. I was so happy about that bench workout. What for? I commented on ML's blog about how people matter not worldly things. People are the only source of long-term happiness. You have to love yourself. You have to be happy in your own world, but people are more important than bench presses.

I looked around and saw a bunch of pretty boys and pretty girls trying to look better for each other. (I have always wanted to make a documentary on women going to the gym. There are so many stories there. It could say something about society. This project is right behind my book about my graduate school experience.) To many people lifting is a social event. I have never liked that attitude. Lifting has always been a spiritual experience for me.

Deep down, most people in the weight room are looking for a release. Something to break up their boring day. They are just looking for a better way. Who can blame them?

The quality of my posts are going to hell.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Is It Later Than I Think?

I am finishing (copying) an assignment that has no meaning, no value. It is PhD busy work. Maybe I am just not putting in the effort. "Did she get tired or did she just get lazy"--The Eagles

I went to my first Condo Association meeting. Some people crave power. It is sad. Very few are willing to admit to the insignificance of associations and such. People desire external gratification.

It is one of those nights when it would be wonderful to have someone to go home to. Someone who you would try to not disturb while hoping they wanted to be disturbed. Someone whose smile made you forget about meaningless assignments. Someone who was going to be there when you got out of bed.

Wow, that rambling was sappy. But it begs, is it later than I think?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

No Matter If I Pass, Time Will Pass

A guy told me this yesterday.

Life will continue. My frustration will end. Nobody cares. All I can do is keep living and when the time comes make the best decision I can.

"Time is a train. Makes the future the past. Leaves you standing, your face pressed against the glass." U2

I just saw Lena Horne on Sanford and Son. It was one of the funniest episodes I have ever seen.

I love women. They are the most interesting thing on Earth.

No, that is not true. The combination of what they do to men with their superior beauty is what is so interesting.

Interesting things should be studied. But how can an inferior creature study a superior one?

Green Fees

Apparently the Virginia Tech student body supports a 'green fee' to keep the campus environmentally sound.

I do not support a green fee. An editorialist did not support it. But the student body supports it. Both the Graduate Student Assembly and the Undergraduate Student Government put their stamp of approval on it in the students' name.

All student fees are coercion. They are extortion. I am willing to give money to keep this campus looking nice, but I should not be forced to give it to the administration. An administration that will spend at least 25% in overhead expenses.

Economists greatest failure is that the students who proposed the green fee did not start an organization to improve the campus without coercion and the administration. An organization responsible to its supporters, an organization that did not rely on extortion. We have not taught the ambitious students the economic way of thinking. We have taught them how to steal from the minority and put faith in bureaucracy.

But the student body supports the green fee.

Statistics lie. Averages and majorities say very little especially without the economic way of thinking.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Tribute To R.E.M.'s "Hope"

Here is the deal;
What I feel

The past cannot eat me alive
Memories are a curable disease

The Truth is most people I cannot please

I have chosen a path
Now I must deal with its wrath

"Hog-tied and accepting of the struggle"
Let them be;
But I will be free
Whatever the hell that means:

Search for Truth
Question my surroundings
Don't let convention make me afraid

When everyone asks why;
I tell them

When everyone tells me;
I ask why?

No, I was not born to fly
But Daddy forced me not to cry

In the end,
All I can do is try

An Edited Email To A Colleague

I might have been around Spanos for too long, but I have very little faith in the empirical side of economics. Levitt's article has been criticized. I am not smart enough to tell who is right. But I think it is a trivial debate. Statistics is (educated) guessing. Economic issues like abortion are too complicated to be modeled and empirically tested (especially with data limitations).

The economic idea that abortion leads to less crime, ceteris paribus, is more important than the statistics. It makes sense. The economic way of thinking, the search for unintended consequences, the skepticism, the rebellion against the status quo is what is important. The statistics can neither prove or disprove today's abortion effects on tomorrow's crime. The economic logic is what matters.

I like what Levitt is doing. Tim Harford is doing similar things. We have to take economics to the marks (public). We have to write readable books. We have to introduce the public to the economic way of thinking. We have to study everyday issues and present our findings in an accessible way.

I am not a big fan of the apolitical economist. Of course, I think all economists should be libertarians. Abortion is a private choice. Government has no role in it. You can run as many statistical models as you want, but you're not going to change the fact that a woman who gets an abortion does not interfere with others rights. There is no public good argument. Costs are internalized. It is her decision not 500 white men in Washington. The majority's perceived moral superiority is not protected by the Constitution.

After meeting with the (professor) candidates the last few weeks, my impression is that economics is applied statistics. Economists are smart guys using complicated tools to make trivial conclusions. Very few are dealing with the fundamental economic problem of creating wealth (utility). They are not making the world a better place. Most economists are just keeping themselves fed. They are doing what others are doing. They are publishing meaningless papers in journals that no one reads.

I have no idea how the economic profession can be changed. I have no idea of what I am going to do. But the discussion of what economists should do must take place.

Friday, January 27, 2006

"It Makes Me Want To Um..."

I been talking economic philosophy all day. I say it is not enough to draw a map. Everyone else says a map is all that we can do.

I enjoy talking economic philosophy. So many people put their faith in government. I guess it is bred into us. The best government can do is mirror what individuals do. The best it can do is mirror the market. Democracy has nothing to do with individual liberty. Government cannot interfere with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I wanted so badly to make this a non-personal post, but it is not working.

"Why couldn't you be content
With the love I gave oh yeah
I gave you my heart
But you wanted my mind, oh yeah"
(the above and the title are from Joss Stone's version of "The Chokin' Kind")

This lyric scares the hell out of me.

I hope I would be content, but I certainly like the mind. I spend so much time arguing. Could this be me? (I know, love is mutual. I need to read my last post.)

Suicide, Penguins, Bad Poets, Dreams, And Dreamers

Down the street I went
What for?
Who cares?

You can't worry about why
When you're getting ready to die

There are days when I wait for something
That isn't about to come
I need an absolute release

What good is a dead man?
What good is a penguin in the Virginia summer?
What good is a bad poet?
What good is a dream that cannot come true?
What good is a dreamer of dreams that cannot come true?
What good is anything?

What for?
Who cares?
Down the street I go

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Skin And Bones

All ought and proper
Better than everyone
Sometimes its true
But you fear the devil
And you like to revel
Well, here's the level
When its time for the bell
I'll be sure to see you in hell

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Everlasting Struggle

I went to the door
Hoping someone was there
Hoping to find someone with a care
One who understood nothing is fair

I was looking for perfection
I will be looking for a long time
And, I accept the challenge

No one has ever found a stream that always flows elegantly

In drought,
It is cracked,
Struggling for existence

In flood,
It is unchecked,
Devastating its path

Somedays it is just right

I sit on the bridge those days
I wait for a lover
To sit next to me
I wait for her
To finally set me free

But she's not at the door this time
Maybe she will never be
But I will keep answering

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Credible Charities

ML told me about a local charity helping a village in the Dominican Republic called Esperanza. I was impressed.

But the economist came out in me and I replied to ML with the question, "how do we decide?" I meant to question the whole nature of charity. There are millions of cases worthy of charity, but I (we) cannot help everyone.

More importantly, how do (I) we decide what to do with these charitable cases? Something is (usually) better than nothing, but some methods are better than others. These are the most traditional and intelligent economic questions that I have come up with in a year. It almost looks like I think there is an optimal answer that I can empirically determine.

But the questions irked ML. She called me jaded. I think the question "does a rich white kid in the Dominican Republic 'sacrificing' send the right message to Dominican children?" made her angry.

What I was trying to say is that I doubt if the white kid's self-made father spent time in developing countries. Some white kids think they are doing penance for the evils of capitalism, and I do not think this attitude is appropriate to truly help the poor. Of course there are others who are more confident in the philosophical foundations of capitalism. I am not saying either of these volunteers are bad people, but there will be some adverse selection. Development takes ideological change. Some people do not have the right ideologies to help make this change.

Someone must ask these questions. The lawyer handing out food in Africa is sacrificing income that he could give to charity. Myself going to college is sacrificing going to Africa. The opportunity costs of charity must be considered. (ML was offended at the term sacrificing. I should have used opportunity costs.)

(A sidenote to ML: The indifference bothers me the most.)

Monday, January 23, 2006

He Knew Not What He Wanted Or Self Pity

The room was quiet
Maybe he was not listening

He thought about doubt
How it was always there
He did not know what he wanted

He thought about beauty
How it was always there
He did not know what he wanted

He remembered the days of old
He longed for strength to be bold
He wanted to cry
He wanted to die

He thought about the cold
How it was always there
He did not know what he wanted

The noise was coming quick
He felt hunted
The noise kept coming
Closer and closer
It did not care what he wanted

Miracles Or "Go On Downtown Baby, Find Somebody To Love"

My last post hinted at my current crisis of faith.

My faith has always been in myself.

I control my own destiny. I make decisions and face the repercussions. I get out of bed in the morning. I go to sleep at night. Rand helped me to explicitly recognize this faith, but it has always been there.

My faith requires me to pursue the Truth. Truth is God to me. God cannot be human. He cannot be known by man, but man must search for Truth (Him).

There is Truth in the Ten Commandments, and the teachings of Jesus, Muhammad, Martin Luther King, F.A. Hayek, Bastiat, Rand, Jobless, ML etc. etc. But, I have to find that Truth. I am responsible for finding Truth. I am responsible for distinguishing between Truth (God) and Lies (Devil).

I do not believe in miracles. Miracles are lies used to convince the marks. They avoid Truth. The marks want Truth, but the Liars (Devils) do not want them to have it. The Truth scares Liars (Devils).

But, look at the title to this post. Look at The Allman Brothers' recommendation to "go on downtown baby, find somebody to love" (from "Ain't Wastin' Time No More.) Is that Gregg Allman singing Truth (God's words)?

I guess that sums up my "crisis of faith."

Another line from the song: "Look inside yourself, and if you don't see what you want, maybe sometimes then you don't, But leave your mind alone and just get high."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I Was Going To Church This Morning

I put on my khakis and my black clown shoes. I got to the office early. I was ready to find religion.

I had enough time to do my morning Email and blog check, and I found this through MarginalRevolution. It is long but life-affirming. It should be read.

It took me so long that I missed the church's artificial schedule. The read was worth it. If everything works out, I will have plenty chances to go to church.

The author says what I have been feeling for the past few weeks. Everyone goes through these periods where they are forced to reevaluate themselves. Most of the time nothing changes. The reevaluation is inconclusive. "Yeah, I am not happy, but what is the alternative?"

I broke my leg on Saturday September 8th, 2001. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday in the hospital dealing with surgery. On Monday night, Denver Bronco's wide receiver Ed McCaffrey broke in his leg badly. I had slept all day and that play was the only time I was coherent. I never blamed football but I certainly questioned its merit.

Tuesday morning I was awake enough to see the towers crumble. Because of my situation, I did not have the knee-jerk reaction to want to get up and fight. I could be a victim. I layed in bed trying to recover. Recovering was the only thing I could do.

I missed a week of classes, but I still got a 4.0 that semester. I threw shotput in the Winter and Spring. I was proud, but I know it is another meaningless accomplishment. Aren't all past accomplishments meaningless?

I guess this is where I stand today. Everything that I have done, all my investments, all my commitments are spread across the table, and I do not see anything. I am not a "Smart Guy." I am not a "Creative Guy." I am not a "Business Guy." I am not a "Beer Guy." I am not a "Sex Guy." I am twenty four years old and like when I was thirteen, I do not fit in anywhere.

I like to read good writing. I like to watch or listen to good games. I like collecting useful knowledge, but the knowledge I am forced to collect is nonsense. I have a family who cares about me. My arms are shaping up some. My chest is massive but unattractive. My confidence comes and goes, but I think I am beginning to understand my emotional side. I have potential.

Our past accomplishments are meaningless, but so are our past failures. We have to live with our potential not our past.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Wake up
Sleep is the enemy
It feels good
You need it to survive
But only when you are awake
Does the world turn
A comfortable bed
Makes a weak man
"Sleep comes like a drug in God's country"
From fatigue or boredom?
Either one
Does not suit me
Let me be free

If that is what love is
I will let you have it
While you sleep
I will live

For ST Coleridge And/Or Jobless, To DH, BF, AW, RF, EM, And That Blonde In The Gym

It felt like early morning
The sun had yet to rise
The world was at peace
It hits you without warning
Deep sleep

I never knew it
Until I found you
It hit me at first sight
I fought it
I failed
Deep sleep

My eyes had closed
Dreams showing in my head
Perfect nothingness
Deep sleep

All of my restless nights
All those wasted days
Erased by your healing smile
It might be clever guile
But I don't care
I am in a deep sleep

Daily Rituals Without Cosmetic Psychopharmacology

I went to bed last night;
Thinking about something better

Woke up this morning;
Something was not there

Went to work;
A new day
All I could say,
"There must be a better way."

About lunchtime;
I stared at the wall
I wanted someone to come down the hall
I wanted a phone call
A pretty voice telling me lies

About a quarter 'til closing time;
Looked at my screen
It was empty
Just like me
Thought about feedback
Wanting to be great
Trying not to hate

Walking home;
A feeling hit me
First emotion of the day
Beautiful women in the month of May
But it was March and windy
A bite in the air
Wished I had more hair
Wished I could care
Don't give a shit that the world is not fair

Got ready for bed;
Wondering if it could be different
It could be
I need a dream
A dream to go to sleep to
A vision
Click your heels
It is there
No one has to know
It might be wrong
Like a tree falling in the woods
With no one to hear
There is nothing to fear

Went to sleep;
Thinking about something better
Secretly hoping to wake up

Friday, January 20, 2006


He was sick. He had swallowed his unimportance and gagged.

There were no answers to his questions. There was nothing but slow death.

His eyes filled with tears that would not leave his eyes. They just gathered and impeded his vision.

In his blindness he imagined himself dancing. "Blue in Green" played. A woman danced with him. He could not see her, but he knew she was beautiful. He knew she was there.

His blinked to restore his vision. The restoration ended his imagination, but he knew she was there. He knew she was beautiful.

"There Must Be A 1000 Things You Would Die For; I Can Hardly Think Of Two"

This line is from the Indigo Girls' "Mystery." It is a good song. Read the lyrics.

It is easy to live when you have things that you would die for. The motto I presented in my "What I learned at Bridgewater?" treatise was: Be Smart. Be Passionate. Be Responsible. Ex ante, it is hard to tell if you are being smart or not. Being smart is a discovery process. I am religious enough to believe that we are all responsible in the end (ex post). But the passion, the unrelenting desire to succeed and pursue is what separates individuals.

To be happy, you have to be passionate. There has to be a reason to get out of bed in the morning. There has to be something to get you through the transaction. (Economically what do we call the actual transaction? What is between ex ante and ex post?)

(My new economic goal is to show that there are no conflict of interests among men through economic experiments. I will show that "communication (a form of transaction) costs are all that stands between our present state and a perfect society.)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"If You Die In Your Dreams Then You Die In Your Sleep"*

I told my Filipina colleague that having children was the most vain thing one could do.

She replied that I was trivializing the miracle of birth, that children were God's gift, that children replenished the Earth and parents' souls.

I could not argue with her.

My dream has always been to be great at something. I do not care what that something is. I just want to win.

Until I stop letting others define what winning is, I will never win. You have to look in the mirror and be happy with what you see. "It is a sad man my friend who is living in his own skin and can't stand the company."*

The thing about the great artists is that you know when they do something it is going be good. Woody Allen made some crappy movies, but they were not bad. They were worth watching. You know that you will not be disappointed when you buy a Springsteen or a U2 CD. You might have to warm up to it, but you will listen and like some of it before you throw it out.

*Bruce Springsteen

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

John Hiatt's Paper Thin

"I was gonna get up off that bar stool
Just as soon as I could figure it out
Why I was overlooked at the car pool
Stood up at the dance with no twist and shout

When you’re burnin’ with your last desire
And every memory haunts you
You write it down in alcohol fire
’cause that’s the only flame that wants you

When you’re paper thin
Yeah, read all about it
When you were out of luck, well, luck was doin’ alright
Now you’re paper thin
Yeah, they can see right through ya
You just cut you’re little finger on the edge of the night

Now do I really have to be responsible
For what I did between those tavern walls
I was just mixing up some chemicals
You could’ve heard a pin drop, could have heard time crawl

And every once in a while
You could hear you’re own heart pound
Maybe some paper doll with a pasted on smile
Would let you write her number down

When you’re paper thin
Yeah, read all about it
When you were out of luck, well, luck was doin’ alright
Now you’re paper thin
Yeah, they can see right through ya
You just cut you’re little finger on the edge of the night"

This afternoon ML and I discussed this song.

When you view yourself as irrelevant, then life is hard to bear. I have met people including myself who thought they were 'paper thin,' but I have never met anyone who in actuality was 'paper thin.'

Monday, January 16, 2006

Things Not Done And An Email To My Sister

I just realized I have finished only 10 of 23 things on my 'to do' list for the the break. I certainly did not finish number one.

Keeping to something I started a few weeks back, I thought about writing about all of the things that I did do on my list. I realized that no matter what I did; I did not accomplish what I wanted.

I have never been goal-oriented. I like waking up in the morning knowing that I am going to do whatever the hell I want. I hate saying "I have to."

The problem is that if I do not start saying "have to" then I am going to die poor (in more ways than one).

I never believed that there was a "man." There had to be free choice in the world. People were not slaves.

I have not been a communist since my sophomore year of college, but you have to appreciate some Marx.

Here is a reply to my sister who said our family's problem was that we were perfectionists:
"Pompous People Rule The World

For the last week, I have been in a blog discussion about happiness. I told someone that acting happy was not being happy. Other people's responses have been mixed. Some people say that you can make yourself happy; you can act happy. My claim has been you have to tell the truth. You cannot deny reality. Life could be better. It could be worse too. You have to tell the truth to be happy.

I finally see the futility in my education. I know a lot of information, but the information does me no good. I am trying to write this thesis, but I do not have the courage to say what I want to say. Because I want to say it is all meaningless. I want to say I have wasted $20,000 of taxpayers' money. I want to say it would have been better spent on repairing Filipino roads or reducing Filipino corruption. To write this thesis I have to lie. I cannot lie and be happy.

We know we are not perfect. We just choose to pursue perfection.

But, our problem is not the pursuit of perfection but compromise. Mama, Daddy, and Granddaddy did not teach us how to compromise. Most people find it easy to compromise. I have become lazy, but if the old man called, I would drive home to be at the store by 7:00AM. I am lazy now not out of compromise but out of rejecting compromise. I would rather do nothing than do something half-ass. You becoming a teacher and me becoming an economist is compromise. You have to submit to some supervisor and principal. I have to submit to some advisors and an archaic system. There are things we can learn, but we see our bosses standing in our way and forcing us to compromise. We cannot stand it. We cannot stand the thought that we might not control our destiny.

The last day I officially worked at the grocery store I bought these local grapes that Daddy told me not to buy. I was convinced they would sell. They did not, but I had to explain to Daddy that I followed his lead. He does what he thinks is right, and I do what I think is right. I will not compromise on right and wrong.

Lately I have felt like it was time to let go. I want to get my degree and get the hell out of here. I want to find a woman who does not mind waking up next to me forever. But I am going to give it a few more days. The inability to compromise is the only quality that separates us from the other Maupins. It is what makes us special."

If graduate school was supposed to humble you; then I have not learned a damn thing.

Intentional I Guess

Woke up this mourning (intentional I guess)
Thought I had it figured out
Thought I knew what this world was about

The world was mine for the taking
But I didn't want it

The Holy Land is on fire
But it is better than my backyard

Everyone says, "you have to care"

But no one gives a damn
Unless they're in a jam

And that's the way it should be
It is the only way to be free

All I can do is hate
Everything is right there
But it is so fake

It is real easy to be dumb
A little harder to be numb
Neither is what I want to be

I have this dark passion
Its the cancerous sun
All life comes from it
But it can kill you

Some people find a way
To escape;
Escape into the night
Find a way to be right
When everyone is wrong

I can't find love
It is not for me
Give it to the proles
But it won't fool me

If I could focus
I would come after you
But I will change
My rage will be quelled
My hell will be met by my heaven
And I will not be able to tell

Left with a gooey mess
Just like all the rest

Intentional I guess

Saturday, January 14, 2006

When Was The Last Time I Was Happy?

I emailed ML, "acting happy is not being happy." She blogged about it. I said it in response to a specific comment she had made, but I really did not put much thought into it.

I do not know what happiness is. I cannot make claims to whether someone else is happy or not. Keep that in mind as I continue.

I don't like to talk about specific individuals, but considering the readership of this blog, I don't think I will hurt anyone's feelings.

I read a blog post that went something like this: 'I have been insanely busy over the past two months. I will continue to be insanely busy. My computer crashed putting me two days behind. But, I like being busy because otherwise I would be bored.'

To me, this is acting happy. Yeah, things could be worst, but they also could be better. If you're so happy, why are you telling me about how busy you are and how your computer crashed. And, if you really like it, why do you have to tell me that you like it? There is disappointment underlying the post.

Of course, the disappointment says little about true happiness, but denying the disappointment does not make you happy or happier. You are not being happy; you are just acting happy.

It is like at Christmas when you get a gift that you are indifferent to. You appreciate the thought and act happy, but you cannot lie to yourself and suddenly love the gift. You smile and say 'thank you,' but you are never going to wear that sweater.

There are no guarantees of happiness only the pursuit of happiness. This pursuit is what I struggle with daily.

I have spent half of my life redefining greatness. Right now, I cannot decide if greatness is being a classically liberal economist, a profitable entrepreneur, a loving family man, or my million other dreams. Again, this says very little, but I refuse to act happy when I know there are better things out there.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Writer Has To Be Arrogant

Paul Shirley says good athletes have to think highly of their athletic abilities.

A good researcher has to think highly of his research. It is the only way he can write it. It is sad it took me two and half years to figure this out. I know my research will be turned into mush by my advisors, but I cannot help that I am right and everyone else is wrong.

ML and I have had some interesting conversations that I want to discuss, but I am missing the original Dukes of Hazzard as I type.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Note To Myself

"I have to make a decision. Either I can let the memory of all the stupid things I have said and done haunt me or, I can forget my fear and embrace both the failure and success a short memory encompasses."

I wrote this to myself in the summer. It is unfortunate that I make bad choices.

Life and production not death and taxes

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Rodney Dangerfield

ML has started an interesting discussion on the meaning of respect.

I will never forget the poverty expert making fun of McDonalds' employees. It convinced me that he did not understand poverty. He did not respect working class Americans. I respect working. He also said that the only good wines come from France and Italy. He might be right, but I did not respect the arrogance implied in his comment.

These two "disrespectful" comments do not trump his respectful intelligence, education, experience, or ability to get papers published. But, I will not forget those comments.

Some people (including myself) try so hard to demonize or to elevate someone that they refuse to see the humanity in the person. Humanity is imperfection. It is the greatness of mankind juxtaposed against war, corruption, and the other bad things men do.

When I was a child, I was walking in D.C., and I saw my first bum. I asked my father why the police did not kill all the bums. I cannot remember his answer and I cannot verbalize one now, but I know we should not kill all the bums.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Poetry for Tuesday

"She is raging
She is aging (Bono sings 'aging' in Rattle and Hum)
And the storm blows up in her eyes
She will...

Suffer the needle chill
She is running to stand...still"

U2's "Running to Stand Still"

I am not a heroin addict, but we have all felt this way. You look in the mirror. You are old. Your world is collapsing. You are angry. You are tired. But nothing ever changes.

"Happiness" by Carl Sandburg
"I asked professors who teach the meaning of life to tell me what is happiness.

And I went to famous executives who boss the work of thousands of men.

They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though I was trying to fool with them.

And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along the Desplaines river

And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with their women and children and a keg of beer and an accordion."

Is ignorance a key to happiness? Beer and accordions are not enough for me. But the poem reminds me that happiness is probably simpler than I think.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Scoop Jackson Says It Best

I read this article last week, but the following section is relevant after the Marcus Vick incident. I do not understand how the media chooses its stories. Read the whole article by Scoop Jackson here.

"KG and Oprah

How do you make Mother Moses cry? In a year when ball players were getting press for "str8 stupidness" it seemed strange that Kevin Garnett's written appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show went notice-free.

He wrote her a letter. They gave her the letter on-air as a surprise. In the letter, he said he wanted to donate something to her Angel Network, which was building houses for those who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina. His pledge: To build one house per month for the next two years. That's 24 homes! Two seasons of "Extreme Makeover." Financially funded by one person with no commercial return on his donation. A gesture that should have landed him on the cover of Time alongside Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono as Persons of The Year. A gesture that made Oprah -- read it again, Oprah -- break down.

But still, no member of the media wrote a story about it. USA Today scripted a blurb; ESPN.com made a mention. But overall -- nada.

Now, let Kevin Garnett or any other athlete run a stop light; let them miss a practice unexcused; let them miss a child support payment -- Bam! Lead story on "SportsCenter," forum discussion on "Rome Is Burning," breaking news on CNN.

In an era when it is too often publicly asked: "Where are our kids' role models?"; in a society that is starved for areas of positiveness to come from our professional athletes; in a world where we have been conditioned to believe that every one of these young superstars is unappreciative, ungrateful, undeserving and a void soul, a situation arose that could have shifted the entire perception of their existence. What Kevin Garnett did was just that big.

But guess who dropped the ball? Us. The media, for not saying anything about it, and the public, for not demanding that we do.

The moral of this story: How do you make the media not pay attention to you when you are a superstar athlete? Do something humane."

Football is not important. It is a meaningless game played by boys and men with anger management problems. Sometimes we forget these facts.

I enjoy football. I played for nine years. During my first year, the coach told us "football was not about winning games; it was about becoming better men." I did not forget his teachings, even when I had coaches who did not have the security to pursue that objective.

This is what bothers me so much about the Marcus Vick situation. The men who made the decision to release Vick have implicitly preached that the objective of its football program is to win games. They make stadium additions. They get paid millions of dollars for being public servants. They pay horrible teams to come play their team. Their actions have nothing to do with making players better men. It has nothing to do with character. Nothing, all they care about is winning.

Every once in while, something (political pressure, old white alumni, the media) slaps them in the face and they get righteous. Winning is not good enough. Our team has to have character also. So, they scapegoat an individual, refuse to do any self-reflection, and continue to cash their checks. Nothing changes except a young man or a coach has to find a new job.

It is sad that the farce of the NCAA is allowed to continue. It is time for college sports to recognize and take responsibility for what objectives they are pursuing. They cannot have it both ways.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Two Most Corrupt Cartels

1. The United States Government (Including State and Local)
2. NCAA (The college presidents and athletic directors)

Football is a wonderful sport, but the NCAA is determined to ruin it.

What Marcus Vick did was no worse than what Charles Steger does everyday. Marcus Vick was honest. Steger is a gutless bureaucrat who steals from taxpayers while smiling.

I know this is all displaced anger. I am really mad at myself.

But, I hate fake authority figures.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

"Thought I Had A Line On Something No One Else Could Say, But They Couldn't Find It In Their Hearts To Get Out Of My Way"*

It is after 7:00PM. Very few are left in the office. I am here.

I ordered contacts this morning. I read the news. I kept up with the Redskins. I watched a few Atom Films. I read over my first two chapters. I still have them open on my computer. I lifted. I ate lunch. I woke up this morning...

Yesterday after I posted, I read the first chapter of my thesis. I do not know.

I then read a chapter from a book written by ML's friend. It was a good start to a story, but there were no ideas. The words sounded good, and I considered buying the PDF version of the book. But I did not. The author is living in L.A., and the chapter seemed like a scene to a movie not a novel.

I decided "who in the hell was I to criticize?" So, I wrote a story about Wal-Mart, Ayn Rand, and a black woman.

I feel like I am being torn apart. (This is a horrible analogy. I used quartered at first, but unless you are a Faces of Death fan you do not know what quartered means, and I don't have four horses.) [I have not lost my mind. I thought this rambling my help.]

One stallion is pulling me towards finishing this thesis: working my ass off on the trivialities that a good thesis discusses, and being done with it. I have had dreams about my thesis the past two nights. It is a heavy weight on me. It is where all my stress is born.)

Another is making me sit here and dick around on life's trivialities. If they fire me, I will find a place to work. This side of me wants me to read and learn. It wants to be an aristocrat. It wants me to find that original idea. This side feels that I am too smart for a thesis. They will never let me say what I want to say, so why say anything? This is my problem. It is ego. I am scared what my advisors will say. I am scared that I am not as smart as I think. I am scared lesser colleagues will be more successful than I am. I am scared, so I choose "not to run."

The last horse is pulling me towards home. If I want to be an entrepreneur, then Crozet is a fine place to start. I like making money. I enjoy selling microwave popcorn to DVD renters. I am just as comfortable in Crozet as I am here.

I am sitting here waiting on something (good) to happen. I think of Sarah Vaughan singing "My Favorite Things." I think of the sadness in her voice. I think of her commitment to persist. The existentialist tells me its all absurd, but we have to keep pushing the rock up the hill.

I think of another story that I wrote while avoiding work: "He assured himself that things could be much worse."

*John Hiatt

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What I Am Doing Right Now

Here is a post from MarginalRevolution post:

"Other days are eaten up by errands. And I know it's usually my fault: I let errands eat up the day, to avoid facing some hard problem.

The most dangerous form of procrastination is unacknowledged type-B procrastination, because it doesn't feel like procrastination. You're "getting things done." Just the wrong things.

Any advice about procrastination that concentrates on crossing things off your to-do list is not only incomplete, but positively misleading, if it doesn't consider the possibility that the to-do list is itself a form of type-B procrastination. In fact, possibility is too weak a word. Nearly everyone's is. Unless you're working on the biggest things you could be working on, you're type-B procrastinating, no matter how much you're getting done."

I am real good at this type-B procrastination. I am always at the office. I am always doing something. But nothing important gets done. It is sad. (My philosophical side asks, "what is important?")

(CafeHayek also has some good posts. The New York Times Magazine article was enlightening. The author says some things I have been trying to say.)

A late addition to this post:

I have wasted most of the day. It got me to thinking about what I have really done. So far today, I have checked the news, read a short story on writer's bloc by Ayn Rand, listened to Joe Gibbs, read ESPN.com, lifted, ate lunch, and talked to a guy about how futile my life is for twenty minutes.

Over the past two weeks, I finished reading two books, George Orwell's Why I Write, and Noam Chomsky's The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many, helped my Dad out some at the video and grocery stores, made some video store orders, moved into my apartment, learned how to pay bills, spend a lot of money, worried about my thesis without working, and more that I forget.

I am going to start making "what have I done today" lists every night. I want to see how little I really do.

Why It Hardly Matters

I learned a few important things last year:

1. Moving is difficult. Start-up costs can quickly deplete a budget.

2. The life I live is a choice. I have to understand the consequences of my decisions as best as I can, but I have to decide. Most of life 's difficulties come from the lack of understanding. Once I decide, all I have to do is deal with the consequences.

3. "...there is no conflict of interest among men..."--Ayn Rand
There are misunderstandings that can be solved, but there is never reason for two people to engage in mutually destructive behavior. Never.

4. Confidence overcomes fear. Confidence does not overcome reality.

5. One has to appreciate people. Objects and ideas are nice, but people matter more.

6. From David Zetland's philosophy of travel: "Someone asked me what I learned in five years. I learned that parents love their children. The rest of my experience was about coping with me, what I wanted, what I couldn't get and why that hardly mattered."

7. When something does not work, throw it out.