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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: August 1-August 6, 2004

Friday, August 6, 2004:

I accidentally discovered www.googfle.com as a result of a typo. A Windows pop-up box appeared.

"Would you like to set your Home Page to 'http://search.msmn.com/'?"


"We offer to integrate web search directly to your browser. You will always able to roll back to the default homepage, so why not to give us a chance?"

I didn't go any farther than that, because I've got enough spyware to keep me busy for awhile. Thought it was pretty funny, though.

On a somewhat weightier note, on Music Babble today, Mark asked everyone to attempt to describe his (or her, in the cases of Jean and Amanda) personal moral code. I really liked that topic, and I wound up putting more thought into my response than I probably otherwise would because the end of my work day today was taken up with a long, semi-philosophical discussion about whether there are any good reasons to have kids (a topic I've covered before in this journal), so I was already in the Pontificating Zone. Anyhow, I thought I'd reprint here what I said- in a somewhat amplified fashion- to get other people's reactions, if you're inclined to share them. I'm not by any means saying that my perspective on life is the "correct" or "best" one, of course; I just found it really helpful to attempt to briefly summarize the set of rules by which I attempt to live my life (with varying degrees of success, it should be noted), and I'd like to read anyone else's who'd care to print them. I think it's a really great exercise! Anyway:

Personally, I just think it's important to try my best to love everyone and try to understand that people are the way they are for a reason. Even George W. Bush, who I dislike to such an extreme degree that I think it would be dishonest of me not to call it hatred, has to be acting the way he is for some reason. The influence of his dad, his own inability to think critically, whatever.

Because I like that philosophy, I consider myself a Christian because it's pretty much in line with Jesus's teachings and I do believe there's a God of some sort. (I remember hearing- and I don't remember the source so it might be total BS- that some scientist/statistician/theologian had calculated the odds of Earth being created by intelligent design vs. the odds of us getting here through random chance, and the odds are much greater that there's a God who put us here. Just something I heard.) However, I freely admit that I might be wrong and if anyone disagrees with me, that's fine. I would never ask anyone to believe in something that doesn't make sense to them. (Which isn't to say that anyone does or even can have all the answers; we've just got to do the best we can with what we have, as far as forming a spiritual belief system goes. And if you decide that spirituality isn't for you, more power to you.) I believe that religion as a whole does more good than harm, because even though that are lots of kooks and bastards who totally pervert the tenets of any religion they claim to practice- and the concept gets abused to a great degree by assholes like Jerry Falwell, Bin Laden, Ariel Sharon, or... well, there aren't too many oppressively assholish Buddhists that I can think of- I think it gives a lot of people a lot of hope and keeps a lot of people in line who might not have the critical thinking skills to want to conduct themselves in a respectful fashion if they think that there's no afterlife.

I pretty much just believe that the best way the world can work would be for everyone to respect everyone else's right to do as he or she pleases so long as they don't intentionally or knowingly cause avoidable pain or frustration to anyone else (without averting greater pain or frustration by doing so). That said, I don't by any stretch of the imagination believe that such a thing is feasible.

I think having children is a selfish act any way you look at it, but again, I'd never presume to make the decision for anyone but myself. I think the world is a horrible place, and I would feel horribly guilty every time a child of mine got hurt in any way, because I brought him into the world regardless of whether he wants to be here. (Plus, I just don't want kids around. Don't like 'em.) Even though I'm a pretty happy guy right now, if someone had given me the choice of being born before I was, I would still have said no.

That said, I think suicide is irresponsible because it doesn't end pain; it just spreads it around to the people who care about you (and there's always someone who does). Whereas not having kids does not create any pain; there's no one floating around in the ether who is stuck in limbo because you aren't birthing him. There's just no person there. As long as I'm here, though, I feel like I should try to make the world a better place in any way I can. It feels nice to make people happy or ease their pain and I enjoy doing it, even if I don't always necessarily enjoy whatever I have to do to get that result. I try my best to never say "no" to anyone unless I have a good reason, because everyone gets so little help in life as it is that I have a hard time justifying withholding my assistance from someone if my rationale goes no deeper than "I just don't want to."

I'm big on the possibility of redemption and forgiveness, so I'm against the death penalty. Regardless of whether someone can conceivably be reformed, I would rather keep unrepentant sociopaths alive in prison for years than let the government kill one person who would otherwise have turned his life around.

I hate prejudice, I hate lies, and I hate manipulation, though I don't pretend to be entirely free from any of those in my own thoughts or actions. I want to keep getting better, but I know I'm always going to mess up and fall short and wind up hurting people, because we're all human and we all do that. So I want to learn to forgive myself more than I am currently able to.

CURRENT MUSIC: 100% Fun by Matthew Sweet. (CDDB lists "Smog Moon" as "Smog Mooon," which I'm finding terribly funny.)
Got me so down that I got me a headache.
CURRENT FAVORITE GADGET: A letter opener that my parents gave me last week. I guess they got it free in a pack of batteries. I'm opening the shit out of my letters!
7:30 PM.

Doot? | |

Sunday, August 1, 2004:

Woohoo! The start of a new month! I can use my credit card again without having to worry further about how enormous my July bill is going to be! Kids in the Hall season two DVD set, you are mine.

On Election Day this November, I've decided I'm going to take the day off work, drive to Troy to nullify some Republican's vote, drive back home, and drink until I can no longer think about how much is riding on this election. The past four years have been such a miserable, constant headache, to the point where I'm terrified to even look at The Guardian for fear of what I'll see. I've expended all my reserves of outrage, having to dip into them every time the Bush administration makes an asshole move, which is more or less hourly. (A rate which, should he be reelected, will assuredly be tripled because he'll no longer have to even give lip service to the notion of acting in the public's interest, as he won't have to worry about his popularity since another reelection won't be an issue. Unless he gets his minions to repeal the 22nd Amendment and declares himself dictator-for-life, in which case popularity still wouldn't be a consideration.) 

I almost don't care if Kerry accomplishes absolutely nothing if he's elected: just so long as he doesn't bombard me with lies about nonexistent weapons, dogma about the supposed sanctity of heterosexual marriage, or torrents of bullshit about how strong the economy is even as he's singlehandedly destroying it by blowing an unprecedented budget surplus on tax breaks for the rich, I don't care. I don't care what, if anything, he does. He can be an utterly useless placeholder in American history, like, I don't know, Gerald Ford or William Henry Harrison. As long as he's not actively and determinedly damaging the country and the world the way Dubya has, I don't care. I just want a rest from my mind exploding day in and day out. Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.

Though if I wind up seeing Kerry's man-cameltoe on the cover of Rolling Stone like I did with Gore, I may just have to sit the election out entirely.

On a related note, my parents saved me an especially amusing political flyer they got earlier this week: Marty Knollenberg (Republican candidate for Michigan state representative and also a gigantic douche) has been heading a particularly nasty smear campaign against Bob Gosselin (another Republican candidate, and another gigantic douche), which has evidently reached its apex. This particular ad is a glossy, four-page reproduction of several police reports and court transcripts from Gosselin's arrests for soliciting a prostitute and for indecent exposure. On the report for the former offense, the cop writes, "I approached the vehicle, he said Get in your not a cop are you, I said, I'm working baby, he said, Get in then, I said what do you got in mind he said a [WORD BLACKED OUT] (fellatio), I said whats in it for me, he said $20."

I thought cops had to identify themselves as such if asked, but I'm not too indignant in this case, because hee!

On Friday night, I watched The War Room, a documentary about Clinton's '92 presidential campaign, and it made me want to cry. It was enormously entertaining, of course, because campaign runners James Carville and George Stephanopolous have such amusingly contradictory/complementary personalities that it was almost like watching a Vaudeville routine at times; Stephanopolous playing the put-upon straight man as the hyperkinetic Carville blusters and raves. (There's a great scene on Election Day where Carville is playfully easing the tension by dictating fake news articles about George Bush Sr. winning in a landslide, as Stephanopolous shakes his head and repeatedly, half-jokingly tells Carville to shut up.) But the film presents Clinton's campaign as such a triumph of Little Engine That Could persistence, fueled by a true and unwavering belief that he really is the best candidate for the job, that it's difficult not to be moved.

Of course The War Room is biased. Of course it is. Clinton was by no means as squeaky clean as the film would have you believe. But nonetheless, I can't imagine Karl Rove- or the handlers of Bob Dole, Al Gore, or John Kerry during their respective campaigns, for that matter- standing before a room full of campaign workers and delivering a tearful speech about how America truly will be a better place because of their tireless efforts to get their candidate into office the way Carville does. (Rove would more likely be proposing a Draconian toast to a roomful of the world's most evil people, like in the opening to The Naked Gun.) With more than a decade of hindsight, the '92 Clinton campaign really feels like the last gasp of humanity figuring into presidential elections in the United States.

(I also watched The Wrong Guy starring Dave Foley, which was very funny and a lot smarter than most such broad, silly comedies, thanks to a great script by Foley, David Higgins, and Simpsons alum Jay Kogen, not to mention Foley's refusal to overplay the subtler gags. Best line: "This bank underwent a major modernization in 1958, when we replaced the inkwells with ballpoint pens." Well, maybe you'd pick a different best line. Cracked me up, though.)

CURRENT MUSIC: A Grown-Ass Man by Dump.
Full of piss and vinegar! At first, I was just full of vinegar!
Eggs, Nescafe Ice Java mix, milk, Vanilla Coke, beer, Drano, lettuce, shredded cheese, green peppers, spinach, potato chips, a vegetable peeler, and more of those snacks I got at Trader Joe's that are like Chee·tos made from snap peas.
11:28 AM.

Doot? | |

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