Friday, December 31, 2010

family

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on wednesday my maternal grandmother was buried.  down to 1 of 4 grandparents.

i barely knew her and i'm not upset by the loss, but it got me thinking about ancestors.
i have:

2 parents  (one generation ago - born in the 1950's)
4 grandparents  (two generations ago - born in the 1920's)
8 great-grandparents  (three generations ago - born in the 1890's)
...
1,125,899,906,842,624 great(x50)-grandparents (fifty generations ago - born ~500 A.D.)



tonight i will make a champagne toast to my quadrillion+ ancestors who lived during the middle ages.

happy new year!
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

talk smaller

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blah blah blah?  well, blah.


at the grocery store a group of middle-aged women blocked my way.  overheard as i navigated between them to reach the bananas:

  woman 1:  snow is so white and pretty.
          *everyone nods*
  woman 2:  but it's cold.
          *everyone nods*
  woman 3:  when it melts everything gets wet.
          *everyone nods*
  woman 1:  sometimes your shoes get wet.  have to take care not to track that inside!
          *everyone nods, laughs*


fascinating.

what are your favorite conversational topics?  mine include:

"hey, we're both wearing shoes"
"my eyes help me to see"
"fire is hot"
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Monday, December 27, 2010

she had bomet

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several of my friends are teachers.  they occasionally share anecdotes and notes from their classrooms.  i'll share these with you.

the following note was written by a middle schooler's mother, explaining her daughter's absence:




"Please excuse ____
for not coming to school
13, 14 december she had
bomet and thats why
she didn't go.  thank you.
If you have any Questions
call _____"


a near miss.  spelling and grammar are mostly correct, the handwriting is entirely legible.  but "she had bomet"?
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

"snap!"

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snow is pruning my yard.

earlier this year i didn't pay to have dead trees/limbs removed.  now snow is doing it for free.  it's beautiful.

if electricity stays and tree parts miss my house, i'm golden.  i might even build a snowman.

keep it together, you

uncomfortable times for non-human animals







































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Saturday, December 25, 2010

merry christmas e'erybody!

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christmas photos for all.  enjoy!

the wrapping paper i used this year








what i would have used, were it available
"um, excuse me mein f├╝rher..."

show others how much you care



























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Friday, December 24, 2010

give that to me

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what's on your wish list?

i need ideas.  been good this year and my house has a chimney.

i've great expectations.


santa keeps it real


























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Thursday, December 23, 2010

welcome to walmart

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walmart usually has what i need, at a low price.

but they do everything else wrong.

to enter or exit the store you shouldn't have to pass motion-activated human robots and endure:

         "welcome to walmart"
                        or
"thank you for shopping at walmart"


every time.


Q: "why are these clearance items marked up?"
 A: "welcome to walmart"





















beyond the greeters, many wal-mart employees still stick to a stilted script.  conversations are a variation on the following:

[at checkout]
customer:  "hey, how's it going.  any big holiday plans?"
employee:  "welcome to walmart"

and the other shoppers.  maybe lower prices attract a different class of shopper.  you've probably seen this website celebrating those people.  at other stores you are less likely to encounter:

welcome to walmart







that hair

as attractive as wearing an adult diaper over sweatpants















save money.  live better.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

moon blood

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if you're sufficiently motivated to wake up early and endure the cold, you'll be rewarded with the winter solstice, lunar eclipse, full moon, blood moon super combo.

the solar system is laying it on tonight.  read about it here.

"i seeeeee youuuuuu"





















and if you'd rather watch on your computer, nasa is hosting.
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pwned

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recently read this story on NPR: insult onto injury

gist of it is...

home burglar stole a guy's cash, new jacket, electronics.

using the stolen computer the burglar logged on to the victim's facebook profile and uploaded a picture of himself (burglar).

AT FIRST MY FB PROFILE PIC WAS...


"check out my duckface!  LOL!!!1!"

























BUT THEN IT WAS ALL


"cool jacket bro.  u mad?"






















how long until a playful, digitally-savvy serial killer documents his adventures on facebook?

i expect to see:

-tagged pictures of victims.  maybe LOL captions added.
-regular status updates.  "still stalking, gonna grab her soon"
-interactive, real-time cat and mouse game with authorities.
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

missed opportunity

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a girl just walked past my house wearing a zorro mask and carrying a long stick.

vigilante crime fighter?  hopelessly lost trick-or-treater?  either way, i'm glad she's patrolling my street.

unfortunately i was startled and didn't go out to meet her, or even take a picture.  but she looked like this:

"i can kill 20 armed men at once"




except her hair was brunette.
and no leather gloves, or costume.
and she was older.
and she wasn't in an aggressive fighting posture.

















too bad, zorro girl.  we might have been soul mates.
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Friday, December 17, 2010

video game graffiti

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some video games make you feel like you're a rat running mazes in search of bland food pellets.  ignore that reward.  look instead for ways to graffiti the maze walls.

for example,

in HALO disregard online competitors and interact with the scenery.  listen to the in-game radios, watch the TVs, shoot distant birds.

"think i can hit that bird from here?"
















or maybe it's single player, like this baseball game for the original NES.  the crowd cheers in anticipation when the player is about to pitch.

*cheer*  *cheer*























at this point turn off the TV and go to bed.  in the morning, turn on the TV and see this:


*cheer*  *cheer*























the crowd cheered 8 hours waiting for that pitch.  knowing this will start your day off right.


"whatcha aiming at bro?"
















in multiplayer mode of COD: Black Ops, approach teammates and dominate their field of vision with your face.  or jump in place at choke points to make game flow more interesting.

have fun!
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

it's Thor's day, but...

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the norse gods lost.

poll results are in: the Flying Spaghetti Monster is your creator and overlord.

this permanently settles the religious debate.  pastafarianism for life and health.

divine grace and tomato-based sauce





















TFSM is a delicious and loving god, with just a few expectations. 


honor pirates or face dire consequences




















do the right thing and eternal noodles with meatballs will be yours.  

ra-men!
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

twilight of the gods

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comments on the previous post made it clear there are only two contenders.

who is your god?


the flying spaghetti monster














                           OR


thor  (representing all norse gods)


























does your god demand martial excellence or high carbohydrate intake?

is your afterlife a never-ending violent drinking party, or a warm eternal embrace by sticky noodles of love?

hammer of thunder or meatballs of reason?

voice your opinion below.  cast your vote in the poll on the right.

voting ends noon tomorrow.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

mythology

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Odin, ruler of Asgard






Norse Mythology















Lord Apollo, Far-Shooter






you know who



Greek Mythology






















Christian Mythology














the Flying Spaghetti Monster






Atheist Satire













the only meaningful difference between these gods is popularity.

of course you are expected to treat your culture's most popular mythologies with sensitivity and respect.  and don't call them mythologies.

our ancestors probably didn't view their religions as future mythologies either.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

merry christmas?

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last christmas i mailed a blanket to a deployed friend.  someone recently broke into her car and stole that blanket and a few other things.

she sent me this christmas card:

this holiday season brought to you by hallmark



















wat








































glad her life is great and she's never been happier, despite the intense disgust and disillusionment she feels towards others.

happy holidays!
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

arts and crafts

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flipping through an old arts and crafts book, i found these jewels:


how to make a "sister" doll








































oh hai there sister!







with a little bit of work, old pantyhose become illustrations from scary stories to tell in the dark.


















necromancer gloves







the book called these "finger puppets".

no.  they're necromancer gloves.
















be creative this christmas.  turn your old clothes into nightmares they'll never forget.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

muslim? penis? this way.

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i took the below photo on the campus of King's College London.

MUSLIM PENIS, er, I mean, PRAYER ROOM







































maybe i'm immature, but that symbol is blatantly phallic.

does anyone know if that's arabic writing at the base?  or did someone instruct a child to, "scribble in some hair, kid".

i suppose this design could be deliberate.  even an illiterate muslim will quickly understand this entrance is for men.  unfortunately, i never saw the ENTRANCE FOR SISTERS sign.  i speculate it might have been two symmetrical domes, without arabic writing at the base (hopefully).

why is there a separate entrance for women?  because women are worth less according to islam.

what was most interesting about this is that nobody else found it interesting.  i passed the 'muslim penis room' sign twice a week in a crowded hallway, and never saw anyone else take note of it.
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

anonymous says

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Anonymous recruits Wikileaks 'data army' - BBC News


interesting to see Anonymous dominate international news for several days.  almost like watching a 21st Century morality play exploring boundaries between freedom of information and security.

the landscape, of course, is largely grey.




















this guy.  crusader?  criminal?  somewhere in-between?
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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

working class hero

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30 years ago today John Lennon was murdered.  in remembrance, here is one of my favorite songs by him.




pay attention to the lyrics.  it was John's humor to describe Karma as though it was a monster about to jump out of the shadows and attack you.
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The 404 Building

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just down the street from me is:


The 404 Building: a mausoleum for memes?





















this, presumably, is where webpages go when they die.  i was too spooked to go inside.  the building is probably haunted by long-forgotten threads and ancient memes.

when courage allows, i'll investigate and report what i find.  wish me luck.




!!!














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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

zombies ate my dreams

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according to my dream last night...

video games of the future interact directly with your brain.  you are sedated, then enter the game world and experience sensations as though they are real (think Inception).  at the end of the game you wake up physically unchanged.

a group of friends wanted to play a zombie game.  we fell asleep and entered the game arena - in this scenario, a large house on top of a hill.  zombie hordes were at the base of the hill, a lumbering mass of rotten flesh extending to the horizon in all directions.

my teammates were well-armed, bristling with assault rifles and pistols.  i was only armed with a book of magic spells.  that might have been alright, except the spells were written in a foreign language.

i'm hiding behind the tank, grimacing at a book filled with gibberish  













i hid behind teammates, retreating as they were inevitably overrun.  finally i was alone, trapped in a bathroom near the center of the house.  zombies were breaking through the door.  my mounting anxiety about being eaten to death eventually woke me all the way up.

meh.  i hate nightmares.  i chalk this one up to a combination of Inception, 28 Days Later, Walking Dead, and COD: Black Ops Zombies.
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Monday, December 06, 2010

a herd of facebookers

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hey.

if you're into groupthink and bandwagons, note that today you're supposed to replace your FB profile picture with a cartoon.

this, obviously, will promote awareness of child abuse.

get on it.  you're almost out of time.

Running Bear!
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don't forget to breathe

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Just Breathe: Body Has A Built-In Stress Reliever : NPR

this article is consistent with everything i've heard about the benefits of mindful breathing.

deliberately drawing long, deep breaths has positive psychological and physiological effects.  it's kind of like taking a potent dose of aspirin, without negative side-effects.  your body and mind simultaneously relax.  anxiety yields to light euphoria.

if you're feeling agitated, try it.  only takes a few minutes.

source of pretty breathing girl



PRACTICAL BREATHING TECHNIQUES

lest you dismiss this as new age nonsense, consider that even the US Army acknowledges the importance of mindful breathing in regulating the nervous system.  they teach the following techniques:

-  to cope with sharp pain, focus intensely on drawing deep, rapid breaths (think Lamaze technique).  this acute concentration will overwhelm your senses, dulling other sensations.

-  to overcome anxiety/fear/panic, slow and deepen your breath.  follow the below pattern, counting slowly to 4 in your head.

inhale (1-2-3-4)
hold (1-2-3-4)
exhale (1-2-3-4)
hold (1-2-3-4)
repeat

this rapidly lowers your pulse, reduces your physical and psychological arousal, and disengages your adrenal gland, shutting down the fight/flight reaction.

next time you have sweaty palms and shaky knees before a presentation, give this a try.
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Friday, December 03, 2010

the thing is...

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a 1982 horror film by John Carpenter, starring Kurt Russell.  it's surprisingly good.

a team of americans in antartica is violently confronted by an alien shape-shifter able to perfectly mimic any creature it consumes.  by the time the crew realizes what they're up against, they're not sure which among them is alien.  neither is the viewer.

mutual mistrust leads to mounting panic and despair as the team simultaneously struggles to work together and keep safe distance from each other.

i was unaware of The Thing until yesterday, when i found it topping a list of "scariest movies of all time".  the special effects are dated, but the acting and story are excellent. 

watch it.


tense times in antartica


























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Thursday, December 02, 2010

the scares

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as a kid i read stephen king's It.  the next few weeks were full of nightmares and fear of darkness.  even some formerly pleasurable activities, such as bathing or walking in the woods, were frightening from associations with scenes from the book.  It was the scariest thing i'd ever read.

eventually that fear faded into nothing and now i look back at it with a kind of nostalgia for the innocence of youth.

"we all float down here"

a few weeks ago i read a book much scarier than It, called the vanishing face of gaia, by scientist james lovelock.  most books/documentaries on global warming are formulaic, following the usual pattern:

conflict (global warming is a major threat to us)
climax (we make lifestyle changes, have more respect for the environment)
resolution (catastrophe averted)

t.v.f.o.g. doesn't follow this formula.  not at all.  lovelock argues that we can't prevent global warming, and it's about to get a lot hotter.  when earth settles into its new homeostasis, about 3/4's of the land will be scrub desert.  many species will go extinct.  billions of people will starve to death.  billions.

lovelock pretty much takes all of that for granted.  and it will happen soon.  he predicts that by 2040 western europe will be desert.

in the meantime, he suggests the U.S. and other western nations consider suspending their democracies in favor of benign dictatorships to enable faster action.  we should construct nuclear reactors to power settlements of the future in places like alaska, canada, and siberia.  also, we should look for ways to preserve/restart civilization after most of us die.

Gaia says: "bye people!"

t.v.f.o.g. forced into that above pattern might look like this:

conflict (we recognize a global disaster as it begins to crush us)
climax (catastrophic loss, civilization routed, we die by the billions)
resolution (small communities of survivors scrape out a hard living on a planet that resembles Dune)

OR, we could look at it from Gaia's perspective.  then it fits well.

conflict (homo sapiens altering environment, disrupting ecological equilibrium)
climax (several positive feedback mechanisms engaged, lead to much hotter planet)
resolution (deviant species neutralized, equilibrium regained)

scary because it might be true.  climatologists usually don't present scenarios so devoid of hope, but there are psychological, political, and social reasons for them to provide hopeful solutions.  lovelock is an independent scientist, beholden to none, and his Gaia hypothesis is upsettingly credible.

lets say lovelock is right and evidence increasingly supports him.  at what point will our political leadership accept it?  imagine obama outlining this scenario in front of congress, or even at a climate summit.  he'd be shouted off the stage and accused of fear-mongering.

how will the average person deal with this as it occurs?  i doubt people will remain orderly and philosophic as they starve.  there will be riots, martial law, and ultimately, societal collapse.

how should we live if this is the future of the planet?  is it irresponsible to have children?  should you move to the (currently) frozen north and build a well-provisioned, hidden bunker?  if you do have children, be sure to train them in marksmanship and desert survival techniques.

ammo:  currency of the future


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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

dissonant

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1. GOP refuses to extend unemployment benefits unless cuts are made elsewhere to pay for them.

i.e., Congress requires an additional source of revenue to support jobless.

2. GOP insists tax cuts be extended permanently for those earning $250k+/yr.

i.e., Congress sacrifices an additional source of revenue to support wealthiest.

how does the GOP reconcile the fundamental contradiction of these two positions?  if i've oversimplified or misrepresented, please correct me.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

good times, great oldies

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imagine our culture is continuous for another 1,000 years.  what will Oldies radio stations play?

there are a few obvious ways it might go down.

1.  lump music based on release date.

"you're listening to WKZ, playing the best of the 20th-23rd centuries!"

2.  cheap digital storage and the internet will preserve all present and future music forever.  all genres/artists/songs will be instantly available on demand.

3.  define Oldies in relation to the target audience, with stations updating playlists as their demographic dies.  

if that's the case, people may only have a vague awareness of artists and chronology from past centuries.

"20th century...that was mozart, right?"  
"no, the beatles."  
"oh, that's right, the beatles."

also, movies.  will citizen kane and lawrence of arabia be among the best movies of all time in 1,000 years?  i doubt movies will even be experienced the same way.  maybe future technology will make movies more immersive, or interactive.  the 20th century movie experience might appear as quaint to our descendants as a living room gramophone appears to us.

thoughts?
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Monday, November 29, 2010

physio-what, or "never judge a Ming by his cover"

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physiognomy is a discredited practice that feels intuitively right.  (physiognomy is the "science" of accurately judging character based on outward appearance, esp. face.)

ever judge a person's curiosity and intelligence by the brightness of their eyes?  trust someone because they have an open face?  assume a tall and attractive person is confident?  on some level these intuitions shape my perception of others.  especially strangers and people i don't know well.

like this guy.


this, of course, is the devout muslim who intended to detonate a car bomb within a crowd for the glory of allah.  i saw this picture and immediately hated him.

but even if this picture accompanied a positive headline - maybe, "Youngest Nobel Recipient Ever, Cures Cancer, AIDS" - i would still judge him negatively.

physiognomically speaking, here's why:



eyes - shallow, almost painted on his face.  no emotional or intellectual depth.  

eyebrows - tilted, travel away from his eyes into his forehead.  reminiscent of Flash Gordon's nemesis, Ming the Merciless.

lips - a mix of petulance and condescension.  make him appear permanently scornful.

skull - vast forehead collapsing to a narrow chin.  meet upside-down-triangle-head man.  like the eyebrows, almost a caricature.

if i passed this face on the street i'd want to punch it. 

not an impulsion i'd act on, but he would certainly face obstacles to earning my trust. 

while mostly out of favor, physiognomy is making a partial comeback.  we might not be particularly skilled at telling if someone is honest, but apparently we can accurately judge if that person is a good candidate for flight school.  

regardless of whether physiognomy is ultimately validated or dismissed by science, we should try to be aware of its affect on our judgement.  listen to your intuition while remaining open to additional information.  not everyone who looks like Ming the Merciless is Ming the Merciless.  
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

commercials

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i don't own a TV.  primarily because i find TV insulting.

on thanksgiving i watched part of a football game.  it was frequently interrupted by commercials.  most were a variation on the following:




smug man judges you for a few seconds, says,

"you're inadequate.
but you're in luck.  here's a product that can protect you from your ineptitude"






sure, companies sugarcoat their ads, but the basic assumption is that the viewer is an insecure, gullible fool ripe for exploitation.

here are a few templates i saw applied to multiple products.

cleaning products ~  you, dear woman, are the unsung hero of the house, managing several rowdy children and a bungling husband while maintaining equanimity that would impress buddha.  this product is your reward.

sports car / high-end electronics ~  your family is a noisy anchor that you tolerate with good humor.  hats off to you sir.  but sometimes you need to treat yourself.  here's the product for you.

toys / sugary cereal ~  hiiiiiiiiiii kids!  yea!  we don't need to tell you, adults are buffoons!  they don't understand what's really important!  yea!  it's up to you to manipulate them into buying this product!  you can do it!  yea!

cosmetics ~  go look in a mirror.  you are ugly, dirty, undesirable.  but this product, regularly applied, will trick potential mates into thinking you're younger, more fertile, and genetically gifted.

diamonds ~ it's impossible to truly love a woman if you don't buy her diamonds.  impossible.  she knows it and so does everyone else.  when you're ready to make this relationship real, you know where to shop.
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Friday, November 26, 2010

minus one emotion

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my cousin's recent facebook status update:

>.> If you could live without one emotion what would it be???

v.v i choose fear, so i can attempt a stupid front flip again.


great question.  like everyone else, i've ranked senses and limbs into order of sacrifice, but i've never considered losing an emotion.




responses to her update suggested: anger, jealousy, love, anxiety, fear.  you can make a decent case for each of those, except maybe love.  

personally, i'd jettison a secondary emotion of love.  lust.  no other emotion clouds my thinking, corrupts my judgement, and exerts such a strong and constant force as lust.  if i could take even a small fraction of the time i've idled away in fruitless sexual fantasy and apply it productively, i could have mastered any trade or language. 

people will say that an absence of lust will remove or reduce the pleasure of sex.  they're right.  but would you wish for an itch so you could experience the pleasure of scratching it?

which emotion would you live without?  why?
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