Friday, July 31, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

what is the government thinking? has a news of the weird section every week. these two stories caught my attention this week. i can't bring more than three ounces of liquid on a flight, but apparently suspected terrorists can buy explosives.

1. "A June Government Accountability Office report revealed that people on the U.S.'s suspected-terrorist list tried to buy guns or explosives on at least 1,000 occasions in the last five years and were successful 90 percent of the time. One suspect managed to buy 50 pounds of explosives. Federal law treats the suspected-terrorist list as "no-fly" and "no-visa" but not "no-gun." [New York Times, 6-21-09]"

and 2. "The normal way that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons transfers "low-risk" inmates between institutions is to buy them bus tickets and release them unescorted with an arrival deadline. In the last three years, reported the Las Vegas Sun in May, 90,000 inmates were transferred this way, and only about 180 absconded. Though supposedly carefully pre-screened for risk, one man still on the loose is Dwayne Fitzen, a gang-member/biker who was halfway through a 24-year sentence for cocaine-dealing. (Since the traveling inmates are never identified as prisoners, Greyhound is especially alarmed at the policy.) [San Jose Mercury News-Las Vegas Sun, 5-23-09]"

i admit, only 180 out of 90,000 is pretty good. but still. i bet you think twice next time you ride the bus.

the hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which to burn

today as i was driving i had an idea, which we'll call 'action a,' and decided to do it. when i got to the place i was going i didn't end up doing action a, and left. i got about twenty minutes away when i decided that if i didn't do action a i would regret it. so i drove all the way back, sat there for a few minutes, and decided that if i did action a i would regret it. and then i drove away.

the actual idea behind action a is irrelevant. what i'm concerned with is how i can regret both doing and not doing something. if i know i'll regret it either way, WHAT THE HECK am i supposed to do?

life can be so annoying sometimes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

shinkin' like an american

by 2015 there will be three new high speed train lines in the united states. one will run from boston, through new york and philly, all the way to d.c. another will run from san fransisco through sacramento to l.a. and the third? chicago will have three loius, detroit, and minneapolis. is this a surprise to you? it was to me. i'd heard that this was being talked about, but i didn't know it was actually being done. the line from minneapolis to chicago looks to be running through my hometown, so maybe going to chicago will be a more common occurrence. but maybe not...depends on what outrageous fee they decide to charge. by 2025 they'll have connected d.c. with atlanta, miami with orlando, seattle with portland, l.a. with vegas and phoenix, and dallas with houston. and there are more plans after that. too many to detail here.

technically there already is a high speed train running from boston to d.c. it's called the acela. ever heard of it? it runs at up to 150mph, which is measly compared to china's 267mph trains. a plane goes about 500mph. can you imagine those chinese trains? wow. anyway, the acela. i'm not sure if they're planning on updating it or what, but it's part of the plans for this big railway experiment.

the problem i see with this idea is the immense cost. yeah, it's going to take like a bajillion dollars to build how much do you think it will cost to ride it?

for example, one of the most popular shinkansen (high speed trains, affectionately known as "the shink"--rhymes with 'blink') trips in japan is from tokyo to kyoto or the other way around. kyoto is famous for temples and cherry blossoms and lots of other stuff and tokyo is...well, tokyo. it's a distance of about 500km which is like 310 miles. not very far, huh? for a little perspective, provo to vegas (a five hour drive) is like 375 miles. anyway, the shink trip from tokyo to kyoto takes like two hours and 15 minutes or so. it also costs something like 25,000 yen (according to i don't really know what the exchange rate is anymore, but lets just say it's about $250. it's more than that, but let's just keep it simple.

now think about that for a minute. a lot of japanese people don't have cars. but most americans do. really, would you pay $250 a person to travel from salt lake city to vegas on the train? when you could drive? when you could fly for less than $200 bucks a person? (i kayaked two totally random dates and it came up with $184.)

on the acela you can get from d.c. to boston in six hours and 36 mins. this really only comes to an average of 72 miles an hour. you can drive faster than that. and you can't even be on the internet the whole time. what is up with that? a round trip ticket costs $280. flying (again through kayak) is $135. so why take the train? because it's green. but let's face it, americans aren't as concerned with being green as they are with having money. maybe like a thirty dollar difference, sure, but $145? and three more hours? i think not.

so who is going to ride these trains? they're going to have to charge way less to get people to ride them. i'm not usually very conservative, but i feel like there might be a better use for the $13-500 billion the government is planning on spending on this...especially with the current economy. 2/3 of americans who EVER ride trains reside in nyc. so...yeah, it's more green...but like i said before, who is going to ride these trains?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


today on there was an article called 'i believe i can fly' by mason currey. please click here to read it.

it's about lucid dreaming, which is basically being able to control yourself in your dreams. it requires a few steps, all of which i think are silly and useless.

you see, i have experienced this lucid dreaming, or at least i think i have. pretty much everyday i set my alarm to go off a half-hour before i need to get up. and usually i pull myself out of bed an hour after my alarm goes off. my snooze button lasts for an entire ten minutes. perhaps that is the trick--giving yourself enough time to have a dream might be an important part of becoming conscious in your dream.

but i have to admit i personally think the key to lucid dreaming is logic. one of the steps currey mentions is having some sort of test to tell if you're dreaming or not. in my opinion, if you have to ask yourself if you're dreaming or not, you're dreaming. it's just logical. [pinching myself doesn't work at all. when i pinch myself in my dreams it hurts. really, it does. it's weird, cause i know i almost never move in my sleep, and i know i don't actually pinch myself, but it will hurt even after i wake up. like my nerves actually experienced what i was dreaming.] but anyway...logic is what it's all about. usually in dreams i do things i wouldn't normally do, like touch people, or things are just so weird that i inherently know it's not reality. so i do agree with this step--that you must become aware you are dreaming.

but in all my lucid dreaming i've never actually TRIED to do this. it just happens. some nights (okay, late mornings/early afternoons) i just know i'm dreaming and can control what i do. the one thing i can't control when this happens, though, is waking up. no matter how hard i try in these dreams, i can't wake myself up. once i had this dream where i woke up and went through all the menial tasks of getting ready. and then i woke up and realized it was a dream. so i did all the getting-ready-for-the-day-things again. and then woke up and did it all again. and again. and again. after a few times i had realized i was dreaming so i kept shouting at myself to wake-up for crying out loud. but it just kept cycling. it was the most boring dream ever. and incredibly hopeless too. eventually i was screaming at the top of my lungs at myself to WAKE UP but to no avail. nothing i did changed the fact that i was still dreaming.

maybe if you can't wake yourself up it doesn't fit under the definition of lucid dreaming. i don't know. but that's my experience with it. no matter what i do in my dreams, no matter how i can change the little things in them, i can't get out of them.

i once saw this episode of law and order:svu in which the two main detectives were called to a house about an attempted rape. the boyfriend of the girl's sister had been staying the night and had tried to rape her (the sister, not his girlfriend). but it turned out that this boyfriend had a sleep disorder where he acted out everything in his dreams and so the detectives couldn't do anything about it. and the guy walked away scot free.

whether that's a plausible result of such a scenario i have no idea. but it begs the question that i've been wondering about a lot lately: are we responsible for what we do in our dreams?

even in lucid dreaming we can only partially control what we're doing. the scenario doesn't necessarily change. just some of our actions. being conscious while dreaming doesn't always mean that you even change anything. you can, but you don't. sometimes you just wait and see what you'll do. it's almost more entertaining that way.

a lot of times it seems like what we dream is a whole mess of things we've been thinking about lately. so maybe what we allow ourselves to think about during the day gets chewed up and regurgitated into our dreams. and we're responsible for our daily thoughts. so are we responsible for our nightly thoughts? what do you think? are we accountable for the choices we make while we dream?

Monday, July 20, 2009

continuing the saga

in the early 60's, JFK urged that the US get to the moon by the end of the decade. the space race has already been going on for many years, with russia beating the US to space in '57 with the launch of sputnik, a satellite that didn't do anything. but americans didn't know that, so much fear and speculation ensued. in 1962 JFK said this: "the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. we have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding."

star trek first aired in 1966. star trek was actually canceled in it's third season, if you can believe that. but a cult following was able to revive it eventually spawning five more tv series and eleven (11!) motion pictures. according to popular belief, star trek has always been a big nerd fest. [i am somewhat skeptical that it always was this way because the 1979 original movie made $139 million. so either a lot of nerds went to see this movie A LOT of times (which is possible, i guess) or a lot more people went to see this movie than they would probably like to admit.] but anyway, my point is star trek fan=big nerd.

as i'm sure you know, 40 years ago today apollo 11 landed on the moon. neil armstrong and buzz aldrin walked around, planted the flag, and made a little movie. the entire country watched on tv. for more than a decade apollo missions continued landing several more people on the moon. but eventually russia stopped being america's greatest enemy and the space race sort of...fizzled out. eventually being into space stuff became just as nerdy as being into star trek. well, maybe not AS nerdy, because star trek fans are really really REALLY nerdy, but close.

does the american flag on the moon mean that america owns the moon? is the moon a US territory? i don't know. but with all the hype about getting into space and getting to the moon i find it kind of sad that NO ONE CARES. the fact that america got to the moon first means absolutely nothing. no one even cares about the moon anymore except those whack-jobs who try to prove that the whole thing was a fake. who cares if it WAS fake? would it matter? no, because no one cares about the moon. very VERY few people even care about space anymore. innovations in space do not make it easier for us to text or twitter, so public interest in space has all but disappeared. the international space station is about to be shut down from lack of funding. news stories about crazy rich people who are willing to pay big bucks to get a chance in space catch our eye, but that's pretty much the extent to which the average american even notices anything about the space program.

and then star trek came out this year. already it has grossed $378 million dollars and succeeded in making star trek less nerdy: further proof that hot young actors can make anything cool. anything. i did see this movie and although i didn't love it, everyone else i was with did. i felt they should have ventured even more away from the original series than they did, but i guess they were afraid of the nerd uprising that would have followed. anyway, all kinds of people saw this movie, probably especially teenagers (the boys for the action, the girls for the oh-so-dreamy chris pine), leaving star trek still a little bit nerdy but also a little bit cool.

so how can the US space program get the funding/public support they need? why by investing in a hollywood movie, of course. they could get chris pine to play armstrong and shia lebeouf to play aldrin. never mind that these men were MUCH older when they landed on the moon than pine and lebeouf are--what matters is that the actors are considered HOT in the eyes of swooning teenage girls everywhere. add in some awesome high-speed car chases and some scenes where big-breasted women take off their clothes and you've got yourself a major hollywood hit...and sudden interest in the space program.

the power of negative thinking

so this week in time magazine there's an itty bitty article about a study done in canada. i don't know about the validity of the study (i mean, come on--it's canada) but the picture they used really caught my attention. it's a stack of books with titles such as "embrace your failure," "you're fine: 10 steps to avoid total collapse," "the seven habits of losers like you," "you can't do it: so don't even try," "building toward average! how you can keep muddling on," and my personal favorite "sleep through life: it doesn't matter anyway."

anyway, basically the study has found that "trying to get people to think more positively can actually have the opposite effect: it can simply highlight how unhappy they are" (time magazine, finding your inner loser by john cloud). at the end of the article it become apparent that this story is about a scientific paper, which in my mind cannot possibly be much longer than the six paragraphs in this article, but in reality is probably longer than war and peace. we're told that in this scientific paper these canadian psychologists/"scientists" cite a 1990 experiment done by some people out at princeton (most likely an attempt to give validity to their ridiculously drawn conclusion). this 1990 study had a bunch of people (read: poor college students) write an essay arguing that no money should be given to (poor helpless) disabled people. later these people were "praised for their compassion," which made them feel worse (read: GUILTY).

um...duh. when you do something you feel is wrong and someone tells you how great you are for doing the feel guilty. obviously. the fact that they had to do a study to figure this out is beyond my comprehension.

but i digress. that is the 1990 study. the one that was just published that we're talking about right now was published in psychological science, a journal i've never heard of but who i suspect only published this study because it's argumentative, or at least just different. why, you may ask, am i being so hard on this study? well, remember earlier when i said that i didn't know the validity of this study? yeah, i lied. you see, in this study college students had to write their thoughts and feelings for four minutes. half of the students had to tell themselves "i am lovable" when a bell rang every fifteen seconds. the other half just wrote their thoughts and feelings. the students who had low self-esteem actually felt worse after telling themselves that they were lovable. one of the problems i see with this study is that only--count it--68 students were studied. sixty eight. a study conducted by people at two different canadian colleges and published in a journal that i could have done in my own basement. for free. in like two days.

the other problem is that if a person ALREADY has low self-esteem then the person telling them they are lovable doesn't actually believe that it's true. i see no evidence that i should stop telling people i hang out with who are feeling low how great they are. because I believe it's true. hello-i'm hanging out with you aren't i? (why do more people not see this as the compliment that it is?) anyway, my point is SINCERITY. i think most people can sense it. and we don't learn anything about the people with high self-esteem who told themselves they were lovable. my guess? their self-esteem went up.

i believe that if a person hears something enough times they will believe it. even if it's not sincere. that's how people get low self-esteem in the fist place. they keep telling themselves how much they suck, and after awhile, they start to believe it. brain washing. however, you can use this technique to your advantage. if you tell yourself something positive enough will inevitably come to believe it's true. i've done this tons of times, and i can attest that it really does work. how else could i think i'm as cool as i am? so QUIT telling yourself how ugly/fat/stupid/worthless you are or soon you'll have no choice but to believe it. and START telling yourself how great you are. how beautiful you are. how smart and thin you are. and how much i like you! because i do! sincerely. otherwise we wouldn't be friends. duh.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

wilde wisdom

every night for the last week or so i've opened up my notebook and looked at my list of things i need/want to blog about. right now there are twelve different subjects that i at one point was incredibly interested in and super excited to blog about. but every night for the last week or so i've opened up my notebook and looked at my list of things i need/want to blog about and thought 'ehn.' for some reason i'm just not that interested right now. don't get me wrong-i AM interested in these things. just not right now. i seem to have found myself, as one of you would say, "in a funk." so i thought i'd just try freewriting today. no plan on what i'm going to write at all. just...write.

i once took a creative writing class, and the teacher had us all get a little notebook and we had to journal something creative every single day. so i started carrying around this notebook with me all the time. eventually there were tons of entries, more than one for each day, ranging from topics such as my grocery list to an inventory of all my dvds to 101 reasons not to like the guy my roommate likes (because for crying out loud he's not that great and why can't you see it?!) anyway, it's old fashioned, but i've kept carrying the notebook around. ok, it's not the same notebook. i've gotten several different ones since then, but i still carry one around pretty much all the time so i can jot down whatever i'm thinking about. it's where my list of things to blog about is. it's also where my list of books i want to read is.

sadly, the list of books i want to read is getting so long i'm losing hope that i'll ever be able to read them all. newsweek this week (don't be fooled by the one you saw in the store about michael jackson-the real cover was about books) published a list of books that 'you should be reading.' that's 47 more books added to my list. 47 because i'd read one and i thought two looked so boring i could never bring myself to endure 600 pages of dull. if you know me at all you know i'm always reading a book, but i'm the first to admit that i don't always read faithfully. this week i have yet to open a page. part of the whole "funk" thing. but even if i read a book a day for a year i won't finish my list. it seems rather hopeless.

so i'm really bad at making decisions. and there's this decision that i've been procrastinating for quite some time now. there's also this text message that i get about three days a week (sorry this is vague, but it's unimportant) but i never know which days it will come. so i decided tonight that my decision would be made by whether the text came or not. i assigned one outcome to the text coming and one outcome to the text not coming. and i promised myself that i would let fate decide for me. deep down i really knew the text was not coming today. it just wasn't that kind of day. so i probably assigned the outcome i really wanted to the text not coming, right?

when you look up quotes about being yourself you'll read lots of quotes about how you need to be true to yourself to be happy. that sort of thing. but oscar wilde seems to have had a different perspective on the idea. he said "to be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up." you don't often think about it, but it really is silly for people to tell you to be yourself because when you're trying to be yourself you're not really being yourself at all.

it got really late and the text didn't come. i knew it wouldn't. and i was right. i told myself all the reasons that this is the best decision, the best outcome for me. and i really believe it. i am quite good at convincing myself of things. i do it all the time. i honestly believe that if you tell yourself something enough times it becomes true. to you at least. and when it really gets down to it, this decision is the most logical. and you know how i love logic. but this will work out best for everyone. in the long run. any normal person would probably be disappointed because the other choice is a lot more exciting, more selfish,'s less logical. so i'm sticking with the decision fate has made for me. the less exciting, logical choice. it's the right choice.

oscar wilde also said "man is least himself when he talks in his own person. give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." when i read this it instantly hit me that this is true. and then i thought 'well, what in the world does that mean?' after thinking about it, i guess it does make sense. imagine that you could go to a party where you don't know anyone and where you are absolutely sure you'll never see any of the people attending ever again. would you act differently just because you can? would you tell people things you normally wouldn't just because you could? i think that instant messaging and texting are forms of masks. it's why teenagers are always sending stupid things to people. they feel invincible-more like themselves-behind the protection of faceless communication. is it bad to feel invincible? is it bad to throw caution to the wind and just let go and be yourself? there are consequences to every action. and it'd be crazy not to consider them...right?

and then my phone vibrated. no way. i flipped it open and sure enough there was the text. the text i'd quit waiting for. the text that wasn't supposed to come. i think i'm still in shock. as i read the text's words my heart sank. it instantly hit me that i had known this text would come. it HAD been that kind of day. of course it would come. what had i been thinking? had i assigned the specific outcome to the text coming because that was what i really want? no, that can't be. and, i really didn't think it would come. but i knew it would. no. this is the WRONG outcome. the selfish choice. the illogical choice. that's not me. what a stupid thing to do-to leave this decision up to a PHONE. not even a call-a text message for crying out loud!, i can break a promise to myself. i usually try really hard not to, but just this once...i really was set on the first decision. when the text didn't come. it made more sense. it makes more sense. it'll make everyone else happier, which in the long run will make me happier. who cares that a silly text message came? technically it came after midnight, so it wasn't even the right day. so it doesn't count. we'll stick with the logical choice...because it's what i really want...because it's the RIGHT choice...right?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

my little sister makes me laugh...

especially when she's being completely serious. favorite quote of the week (for real every time i think about it i laugh out loud):

"also. michael jackson died. but i truly dont care. i didnt listen to his music, he looked like skeletor, and i just dont care!"

ahahahaha. skeletor.

in case you don't know/remember who that is, here's a picture: