Number Twenty

This is less a blog and more me trying to figure out with myself why a higher minimum wage is necessary. Also, I have not written a blog in more than a month, so it seems about time.

Within the last few days, New York (city?) adopted a fifteen-dollar minimum wage for fast food workers. I thought this was great. But why?

I believe in a living wage. If a company is paying someone who works full-time a wage , should not the wage ensure that the employee is able to be above the poverty line? This is not the case at the current minimum wage, even in California.

There are two counterarguments of the minimum wage that I would like to address. The first is the idea that people who work in fast food do not deserve to be paid so much, that fast food work is just a ‘starter job.’ But I question whether a person who argues this means fast food only, or menial jobs in general. Because someone works in a menial job, they do not deserve a living wage? I find this reprehensible. For many people, fast food work is the only job they can obtain, whether through opportunity or education. If nowhere in your neighborhood (which I use loosely) is hiring but the local fast food place, what is a person to do but work at the fast food place? This may not happen that often, but it happens. Say, for example, a person works full time at a fast food restaurant and also has children. A minimum wage below ten dollars per hour will not support the family. Truly, even fifteen dollars per hour may not cover all familial expenses, but I suppose the line must be drawn somewhere. Also, if a person only has a high school education, which is the highest guaranteed free education in this country, then a person’s options are limited. Higher education is expensive, so even if a person works at a fast food place and does not have any children, that person will struggle to pay for school. As has been proven empirically, a college degree does not guarantee a high-paying job.

The second counterargument is related to the first. I spoke with someone recently who said that ambition will get someone a higher wage. For example, a longtime fast food worker will move up on the corporate ladder and earn a higher wage. This person suggested that everyone should have ambition though. But what if a person does not have ambition? I think insisting that someone have ambition is akin to insisting that all people have black hair or green eyes. It is impossible to insist that someone have a trait they were not born with.

Also, where did this idea of a ‘starter job’ come from? Who says what a starter job is? Is it legally defined? Because it seems like a starter job to some people does not mean it is to everyone.

I recently read an article that noted how people in Seattle who were working for the new minimum wage of fifteen dollars per hour were asking to have their hours reduced because they were now making too much money to receive welfare. I will grant that this sounds like they want to be lazy and receive government benefits. However, I took away from the article that the fast food restaurants were taking advantage of the lower minimum wage before the increase to pay their workers below a living wage and having the government, us taxpayers, make up the difference. If a company can only make money by paying their employees below living wage, should it exist?

I feel like people who advocate against a minimum wage have not read a history book recently. There was a time in the United States, before unionization and the minimum wage, when employers obviously took advantage of employees. Carnegie had his steel workers work twelve-hour shifts during the day and night, but they alternated. When the workers alternated from day shift to night shift, the workers did not get a day off. Instead, the workers had to work twenty-four hours straight. Would anyone now work twenty-four hours straight? Without overtime? I doubt it. We can all thank those workers who protested against such conditions and formed unions.

I firmly believe that workers should be able to capitalize off of their labor, much in the way that companies should be able to capitalize off of their products or services. Unionization makes capitalization of labor happen. By extension, protesting and bring to the attention of lawmakers that a person deserves to be paid a living wage is well within their rights as citizens.

There is a reason why we have a minimum wage, and it has less to do with the actual wage and more to do with the historical evidence that if companies are given the ability to decide their wages, they will inevitably take advantage of their workers because the bottom line for companies is not to treat people like people: it is it to make money. And should not people be able to protest and win their right to make more money as well?

Number Nineteen

I’m drinking an Orange Crush and Jameson cocktail. I’m probably committing a good deal of sacrilege, but no one present is judging me.

I thought I’d touch on the Confederate Flag/Civil War hullabaloo before it becomes overdone. I feel strongly about both, as I do about most things (ambivalence isn’t my strong suit), so it seems only natural to write a bit about them.

The issues with both seem obvious to me. The Confederate Flag is, to many if not most, a symbol of slavery and racism. I’ve read and heard that it’s a symbol of the southeast states’ heritage. But what is that heritage? Slavery and racism. It seems cut and dried to me. A group of people stood under this symbol committed treason against the government to prolong an institution of subjugation and racism.

Talk of the Confederate Flag naturally leads me to the Civil War. The Civil War was about slavery. To say otherwise is to be ignorant, treasonous, and intellectually irresponsible. I know people think it’s about states’ rights — and yes, it is about states rights — but it’s about states’ rights to legalize the institution of owning people. If it’s about states’ rights to regulate their own economy, it’s still the economy based primarily on slave labor.

Almost four million persons were slaves in the United States at the beginning of the Civil War, out of about thirty-one million. (This is from the U.S. Census of 1860, which may or may not have counted certain people, such as Native Americans.) Twelve and a half percent of the population of the United States in 1860 were slaves. Twelve and a half percent of people were property according to United States law. And American slavery was historically worse because it was perpetual: even slaves’ children were slaves, creating a cycle of subjugation never before seen in history.

A wealthy elite profited off of owning people to perform farm labor. Much like today, before the Civil War the wealthy elite wanted to continue to profit off of the status quo — continuing to own people — so they elected themselves to government positions to further protect their interests. Almost every major legal and political decision for the thirty years before the Civil War, if not more, had something to do with slavery: the Compromise of 1850, which diffused tensions between slave states and free states; the Dred Scott decision, which held that African Americans could not be citizens; and the fact that if a free state was added to the union, a slave state must be added as well (or vice versa) to continue the balance of power between the two. The implications of these are more enormous than I will write about, but they should not be downplayed.

But how do you get a bunch of poor white southerners who don’t own slaves to fight? It’s not the pride of states’ rights. It is the wealthy elite convincing poor whites of the ‘American Dream,’ or in this case, ‘the southern white man’s dream,’ which was that owning slaves was the epitome of economic status. Instead of allowing poor whites to be angry at the white plantation owners for owning most of the resources (slaves, land, et cetera), the white plantations owners literally created racism to convince poor whites that the problem of their destitution lay not with wealthy whites, but with the idea that if blacks were freed, their jobs would be forfeit, so it only follows that African Americans were okay to lynch. It’s the same idea perpetuated by the media today: if we allow too many Hispanics in, they’ll take our jobs.

How do you convince a bunch of poor white northerners to fight? Because fucking Dred Scott v. Sandford. The implication of Dred Scott was that slaves could be used in free territories added to the union after the original thirteen states, nullifying the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Thus, poor whites in the North were fighting for their wages, because there is no way for a waged worker to compete against free labor. See above re: Hispanics.

To say that the Civil War was about states’ rights is true, but facile. It doesn’t even remotely scratch the surface. To say that the Civil War was only about states’ rights is purposeful and militant ignorance, which is unacceptable in a time when information is so easily obtained. Let’s create a new heritage, one in which we realize from the mistakes of our past to not make them in the future (as cliche as that sounds). To do that, we must first be honest about our heritage.

Number Eighteen

Well, that’s disheartening. I thought we lived in an age when free wifi was available everywhere, or at least in places such as airports. But no, that isn’t the case, at least not at Phoenix airport.

I’m currently trying to fill six hours before my next flight. Thanks, US Airways, for making me wait longer to enjoy myself. Never again!

People are funny things. I’m a people watcher, so airports are fascinating to me. People coming and people going, people arguing, people walking, people sleeping, people surreptitiously picking their nose, people saying, ‘Oh, my god,’ because they haven’t seen each other for so long, people wishing they were somewhere else, people staring at their phones, people looking like they just smelled a fart.

I wish I could eavesdrop on all conversations.

I read a book once about a guy who invented a substance that, when applied to the body, could make the person invisible. It bounced light around the body or some such. He was a bit of a creep because he used his ability to spy on people in their homes, rather than do something magnanimous. But I suppose that’s human nature. Magnanimity is inconvenient. Altruism is overrated, and it doesn’t pay well.

CNN has a quiz show: The CNN Quiz Show. That blows my mind for some reason.

I wish I had some politics to talk about, but I’ve been relatively disconnected from the world lately. I work from home now, and I never realized how much I relied on NPR for news, or at least news that makes my brain roil. Granted, I check out the headlines from the Los Angeles and New York Times, but they’re not the same. Plus, the biggest political going-on right now is all the presidential nominees coming out of the woodwork, and there’s not much to write about that. Well, maybe that’s not true.

I won’t bother with Republicans. They’re not worth many words since I’ll never vote for them. The latest news, though, is that Mr. Bush is skirting campaign laws by not officially declaring himself in the running, but he’s still collecting money. Leave it to a Bush to game the system. I wonder if Karl Rove is helping this one out too.

Most notably, at least for me, is that Clinton doesn’t stand anywhere – just a lot of waving and smiling and shaking hands. While I’m not really keen on politicians’ way of speaking, her simply jutting around like she knows something we don’t is creeping me out. She hasn’t expressed a solid opinion that I can tell. Also, she’s apparently somewhat hawkish, and that makes me uncomfortable as a pacifist. I’m on board to vote for the first female president, but not if I have to sacrifice my ideals to do so, even if I think ultimately the whole national political system is a farce.

Bernie sanders is apparently the new Elizabeth Warren, if only because he’s courting the people who wanted to help elect Elizabeth Warren as president. (That’s a person I could vote for.) But Sanders won’t get elected because he’s too old. Also, I think he’s Jewish, and that will certainly dash his chances, which is too bad because I think I could like him over Clinton.

I sometimes think about joining the Armed Forces just so I can get on planes sooner.

Who else is running? No-one worth mentioning, I guess. Rick Perry just announced he’s running, essentially promising he won’t goof up this time around. I’m looking forward to that not being true. If you don’t know, at a debate last time ‘round, he said he would do three things (which I can’t recall); something like, ‘Number one, number two, and uh, uh, uh, number one, number two, and uh, uh, uh, I forgot the last one.’ Like he forgot his mnemonic or something. Perhaps he has better coaches this time: ‘Okay, Ricky, we’ll teach you in alphabetical order this time.’

I didn’t know monster truck rallies are held in basketball courts. This CNN is amazing.

I just finished reading Stephen Kind’s On Writing, his treatise on how to write fiction. It is a little self-indulgent and certainly could have been organized better, but it was fun. It filled me with delusions of grandeur about writing fiction. He has one good idea that I like: just lock myself in a room and write at least one thousand words per day, even if it takes all day. Of course, that’s a bit of a luxury, but the idea behind it isn’t so bad. I suppose the point is to just write, even if it’s painful, because even when it’s painful, it must be enjoyable. At least, I like to think so.  Otherwise, I don’t know why I fantasize about it all the time. Someone just make me a book editor already.

Number Seventeen

America may have a subconscious obsession with death. If it’s not hypocritical support of the death penalty, it’s the abortion debate, or love of guns, or support for unjust wars. Protests turn into riots. Police shoot unarmed people. Bikers and gang members shoot each other. Why can’t we be peaceful?

The death penalty is ironic. It’s no new argument to wonder aloud how it’s acceptable to kill someone who killed people. How do people justify in their minds that it’s acceptable to kill at all? Well, there are people who think abortion should be legal, yet they think the death penalty should be abolished. And then, of course, there are people who think abortion should be abolished and the death penalty legal. I have yet to hear anyone explain to me how these opposite positions can exist in one mind. Do people realize what they believe, that they’re being hypocrites?

I suppose that’s the nature of beliefs: they don’t have to make sense. But in the realm of politics and laws, a person must justify logically, or at least somewhat intelligently, the beliefs they hold. To simply say, ‘That’s what I believe,’ is not enough. If a person insists on supporting a law, or in the case of politicians, voting for a law, a person must enunciate their argument. To simply say, for example, ‘I support the death penalty because murderers deserve to die,’ is not enough: it’s too primal. Humans have the responsibility to each and other beings on the planet to cogitate on actions that could affect others. To do anything less is delinquent and potentially dire.

I wonder if people who support the death penalty simultaneously think the government wastes money. The death penalty is expensive: tens of millions of dollars are spent in California to deal with prisoners on death row. The appeals process is extremely expensive, and definitely more expensive than keeping a prisoner in prison for life. Ironically, the end result is the same: with either life in prison or sentenced to death, the prisoner is eventually forgotten. Why not, then, go the cheaper route?

Supporters of the death penalty say the death penalty deters crime, but there is no empirical evidence to support this claim. What, then, is the point of the death penalty? Because that’s what we should do to murderers? I’m not convinced because we’re not consistent. Do politicians who vote for unjust wars deserve to die when they are at least indirectly responsible for the murder of civilians? It seems not, given history. No, we kill people like the Boston bomber, an arguably troubled person who killed (only?) three people. I would not want his death sentence on my conscience.

I must wonder at the lead prosecutor in the Boulder, Colorado, shooting trial. The killer offered a plea agreement that included life without parole with an admission of guilt. Case closed, job done. However, the lead prosecutor is insisting on going forward with the trial so he can pursue the death penalty. But what for? Why bring the families through a trial? For justice? He admitted guilt. Will killing him bring closure, or whatever grieving people seek? Lock him up and throw away the key. Forget about him: he doesn’t deserve our attention anymore.

But color me a hypocrite, too. I defend abortion while I sneer at the death penalty. I like to think, though, that at least I realize I have contesting beliefs. I do not think the same can be said for many others.

Number Sixteen

I have resisted poetry for as long as I can remember. There was something about it I just disliked. Even when I read The Lord of the Rings, I skipped over the poetry or songs interspersed among the prose. It irritated me that I did not know what the cadence should be as I read it, I tended to think that the language was too flowery, and it seemed like a slow read. I know I am generalizing, but poetry was not pleasing to me.

After I was accepted to UC Davis to pursue an English degree, I told a friend my displeasure with poetry. He then told me I might be pursuing the wrong degree if I abhor poetry so much. Naturally, this made me think, and the culmination was that instead of being bitter and dreading taking a class (or classes) in poetry, I would instead embrace it – I would give it another go.

The first step was to buy Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. I am no transcendentalist (not that I am against it; I just do not identify myself as such), but he is one of the few major poets I am familiar with, and I had only heard good things. The second step was to start reading. I was not disappointed. I discovered a few things: slowing down and taking in words word-for-word is a pleasant experience, there is little flowery language, and cadence may not mean as much as word choice. It occurred to me that I thought of poems as song lyrics without music. This is incorrect; poems are not songs, or at least not always. They are words in sequence, but in a different sequence than my preference.

I wonder if my previous hatred for poetry was not necessarily hatred for poetry, but love for prose. I love novels. I love long, multifaceted stories with too many characters, character development, and strange worlds. I like the time it takes to get to know made-up things. Even now, I do not think poetry can sate my love for knowing the made-up, but perhaps it does not need to. Poetry can fulfill a different role, one that I am still pondering.

Here is the poem that I think may have changed my mind. I do not believe it is copyrighted anymore, so I feel comfortable disseminating it. It is called “To the States”:

To the States or any one of them, or any of the States, Resist
much, obey little,
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved,
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever
afterward resumes its liberty.

(I would write it somewhat differently, but it gets the points across.)

Hoo boy. I felt two things initially from this poem. First, what I love about studying history is the ability to learn from the past to not make future mistakes. Second, I marvel at how even the experiences of one-hundred-fifty years ago can still be relevant to now.

After reading this poem, I immediately thought of the Patriot Act and all the bullshit it entails. We, as a nation, should have resisted the Patriot Act, but because we did not question, because we were frightened, we let the government pass legislation to allow it to spy on us. Luckily, there has been recent discussion to roll it back, but I wonder about American complacency and whether we have not already done lasting damage. Even if the Patriot Act is curbed, we still indicated to the government, and ourselves, that we are comfortable with sacrificing our liberties for the sake of so-called security. I see bumper stickers that say, “Freedom isn’t free.” But freedom is free. It is an idea: it costs nothing to think or believe it. Even practically it costs nothing: freedom is more about what the government, and others, cannot do (inaction costs nothing), rather than what they are obligated to do.

I lament that I felt this way about poetry before. I feel as if I was missing out. Prose, and novels specifically, will likely always be my favorite, but poetry and prose are not mutually exclusive. Just ask Tolkien.

Number Something

I’m going to try to write a blog. You’ll have to excuse me if it’s a rambling mess. I have no concrete ideas.

I find it odd that I feel guilty when I don’t write often. Enough. Often enough. But what defines ‘often’? Often to whom? I certainly don’t want to write something just for the sake of writing. I mean, this blog is mostly self-indulgent, but writing just because I feel as if I should crosses a line, a line that I made up and no-one holds me to except me.

I have a splinter in my finger and I don’t know how because I’m not a carpenter and I haven’t touched rough wood. Not even figuratively. I just chewed it out.

I am one of those people who doesn’t care about presidential elections until there are obvious candidates. Like, one or the other, or it doesn’t matter. I can’t believe I’m the only person who feels this way. With over a dozen people throwing their hats in at this moment, it’s difficult to get excited. Mrs. Clinton is in the running, as unsurprising as that will always be, but even her I can’t get excited about. From all sources I’ve read and heard, she’s right of Obama, who struggles to be a modicum left of center. This is disconcerting, even if she is the first viable female candidate. This guy O’Malley, though. O’Malley said ‘bullshit’ on NPR, and any person who’s willing to be profane in an interview is going to then have to convince me not to vote for him. I want to vote for the guy HST would vote for, and I think HST would vote for O’Malley because he said ‘bullshit’ on NPR. I know that seems stupid, but in an era – well, in an always – when politicians are too busy equivocating to say anything of substance, the fact that one guy is willing to call Republicans on their bullshit is refreshing. Plus, what does Clinton stand for? We don’t know yet, not decisively. She’s a woman, and that’s great, and certainly also refreshing, but maybe dynasties are passé.

You won’t catch me dead voting for a Republican, even a well meaning one, and I honestly don’t think those exist. I read an Onion blurb that said something like, ‘Boehner is overwhelmed by letters from his constituents asking him to lower taxes for corporations.’

I read or heard or otherwise ingested this recently: ‘Maybe people in unions don’t get paid too much; maybe you just don’t get paid enough.’ I read an article written by some self-righteous dweeb who thinks that the people protesting for a fifteen-dollar minimum wage are a bunch of whiny assholes. He argued that they’re asking for too much, that they haven’t earned such a high wage. His argument was that it took him ten years to get to that wage, and so why should they get it from one day to the next? But what if the self-righteous dweeb was being taken advantage of by his employers too? What if he deserved a wage higher than what he had been making in the past, and he just never stopped to think that it shouldn’t be this way? People who work full-time shouldn’t live paycheck to paycheck. People who go to school and work shouldn’t have to choose between books and eating. Not while chief executive officers and their ilk are making millions of dollars and huge bonuses. Is it too much to ask these enormous corporations to pay their workers a living wage? It seems so.

Call me a socialist.

Is it odd that I only became truly upset at ISIS when they started destroying historical places and artifacts?

It is difficult to completely regret the drought when there are sunny, wonderful days like today. It’s warm, breezy, and just all around pleasant. I’m glad it’s not raining, at least at this moment. Plus, there is kind of zen quality, a bit of everyday worldliness to constantly preserving resources like water, even if as one person I make barely a difference. But I like to be efficient; I like to consider myself as not wasteful, as being a part of the solution and not a part of the problem, as someone I know says often. Words of wisdom for all, I think.

Greyhounds (vodka and grapefruit juice) taste better with warm sun and a cool breeze.

I’m in love with Glen Cook. He writes the Black Company military fantasy series, among others. He is the master of the short sentence, if there could be such a thing. What’s most amazing about him is that he wrote dozens of books while working full-time for GM. I envy that dedication.

Number Fifteen

I wanted to take a brief moment to talk about the law in Indiana that allows overtly religion business owners, i.e. “devout” Christians, to refuse service to the LGBT community. For example, a wedding cake maker can refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding.

I imagine most of the people who read my blog agree that a law that allows discrimination is loathsome, so I won’t beat a dead horse. I mostly want to point out some ironies. One, it seems ironic that a business person would refuse service at all, as this goes against the point of having a business. Even if a business person disagrees with a person’s morals, are they not still customers? Two, it is equally ironic that a gay couple would attempt to patronize a business that discriminates. Why bother with the trouble? Go somewhere else, somewhere that doesn’t hate gay people.  Perhaps that isn’t the point.

Lastly, the Bible is a funny thing. In this one book, a person can read gay people deserve to die, in so many words, and also read that we should accept all people as they are, i.e. treat others as we want to be treated. Thank baby Jeezuhs. Thus, I wonder if those people who refuse service to gays worship Jesus. If they do, I think it would be safe to say that they are hypocrites, which is just a form of irony. I haven’t heard that this is a problem with Jewish or Muslim business owners. I suppose it could be, and under the law I imagine their beliefs are “protected” too, but I haven’t read it.

The law is called the Religion Freedom Restoration Act. I wonder what is being restored, or how a person’s religious freedom has been infringed upon. The law allows people to act like assholes to their neighbors, which is inherently undemocratic. It creates an us-versus-them mentality, which is also undemocratic. The law encourages the idea that we do not have to act humanely to others when others are different. It discourages unity, which discourages peaceful society.

I’ve read that many other states have similar laws, and I suppose they do. But the distinction is that with other “religious freedom restoration” laws, people are protected from the government infringing on their beliefs, which is defined in the constitution, but Indiana’s law allows people to discriminate against their neighbors. I think people who support this law should be ashamed of themselves. What’s the purpose of a society, and a democratic one at that, if not acknowledge that while we may be different, we’re all in this together. We don’t have to agree; we just have to get along.

This law will only end up creating discord. It creates haves and have-nots. It will tie up the courts with excessive litigation, and I think pointlessly so: I doubt the Supreme Court, which certainly has its moments of unreasonableness, will uphold a law that allows ignoble ignorance and self-righteous fervor to exist.  But maybe I’m an optimist.

Number Fourteen

I must thank Z. for pooping on the walk over here when I did not have a bag. I had to use sheets from a memo pad to scoop poop. Thanks, Z.  Jerk.

I thought I would try my hand at the Arab racism going on right now.

A few weeks ago, President Obama suggested that we should not lump all Muslims in with the extremists of the so-called Islamic State. This seems reasonable to me. I imagine something like ninety-nine percent of all Muslims are relatively peaceful, and the one percent who are not are terrorists or work for the Islamic State. I do not have any statistics, and I honestly cannot be bothered, but with over one billion Muslims in the world, the vast majority of whom are peaceful, it seems to me like we should give them the benefit out the doubt when it comes to judging them. The Islamic State does not represent all of Islam, no more than Christianity is represented by the Ku Klux Klan, which uses Christianity and the Bible to justify some of their actions.

Obama used the Crusades as an example of Christian extremism, or at least alluded to the Crusades as Christian extremism. Christian righteousness was used as justification to invade Jerusalem time and again. Some comments I read on Facebook and Twitter suggested that the Crusades were started by Muslims, and perhaps some of them were, but certainly not entirely true. The Crusades were at least in part Christian imperialism. Also, let us not forget that it was the Christians who sent children to fight, and it was Christians who centuries later perpetuated the Inquisition. Let us also remember the war in Ireland between Catholics and Protestants. Horrible crimes were committed then, too, including bombings of innocent people. Let us further remember the debacle of the priests who raped boys (it occurs to me that I have never heard of girls being raped, though I suppose some were). While the priests did not kill anyone, their crimes were still heinous. There was an outcry, but there was no outcry that the priests who raped children represent all Christians, or even all Catholics.

And, hell, look at Israel. The Israeli government oppresses the Palestinians daily. Israelis encroach on Palestinian land with their settlements and do not even let Palestinian people leave their own country. The Israelis refuse to sanction a Palestinian state, suggesting they are not interested in peace at all, but in imperialism. Certainly, the Palestinians are not blameless, but how much can they do to a country backed by every western superpower? And yet we do not vilify Jews. Instead, my opinion that Jews do not have the right to Israel, and Jerusalem in particular, is vehemently unpopular.

Since we do not assume all Christians and Jews are horrid people because of what they did a millennium or ten years ago, then perhaps we should not judge all Muslims for what the Islamic State is going. We are living in history right now. Much like the Crusades, we will look back on this time as a time of unrest, warmongering, and unfortunate violence. I hope we will look back and realize that the actions of the Islamic State and other terrorists are not representative of a religion as a whole.

Recently, a class president or some such at a high school in New York let a fellow student recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the entire school in Arabic. There was an immediate uproar. People were offended that the Pledge was recited in something other than English, despite that the week of the recitation was designated for recognizing and appreciating other languages, like a Black History Month for languages. The class president received death threats, death threats, for allowing the student to recite the Pledge in Arabic. The school eventually issued an apology, claiming the commissioner of education recommended only recite the Pledge in English, which they vowed to do forevermore. There were apparently plans, before the fiasco, to recite the Pledge in other languages, including German and Japanese.

There are other things wrong with this besides the obvious racism, or languagism (not a word) as it were. Some veterans of Afghanistan claimed being offended, which is ironic, I think. The United States invaded Afghanistan illegally and without justification, yet our veterans are offended. Also, Arabic is not widely spoken in Afghanistan; in fact, unlike the United States, which does not have an official language (look it up), Afghanistan’s two official languages are Pashto and Dari, not Arabic. So after having invaded Afghanistan, the veterans could not be bothered to learn which languages are spoken there. It should also be noted that New York does not have an official language either.

It is unfortunate that Americans lack perspective. I understand that the human brain is full of bias and loves to stereotype, but as intellectual beings, we have the ability to overcome these flaws and cogitate on what is just. It is racist and abhorrent to say repulsive things about Muslims when Christians, Jews, and others commit crimes in the name of their beliefs as well.

Number Thirteen

Ominous number thirteen. Nothing special, though. It’s superbly nice out: not too hot, sun shining, slight breeze. In fact, this is my second venture to the outdoors today; I went cycling earlier, but the weather persuaded me to come out here again. I brought Zoë with me. She is currently off-leash, and she is sitting here glowering at children and other dogs, panting in their general direction. The cops were just here, apparently harassing some homeless-looking people. It doesn’t appear as if anyone was arrested.

This is what I dream of doing: sitting outside writing rambles of absurdities. It is purgative to write: like vomiting my thoughts after a bad night of thinking. (One cop car is back. Zoë is simply relaxing now.) There’s no money in it, though. Not that I’m a greedy bastard; I really think I’m not. But bills need to be paid. I don’t want to be poor again, and certainly not by my own choosing. (Someone walked up with their dog to address Zoë and asked if she is friendly. I said Zoë is unpredictable, and the person acted like I said she was habitually violent.)

I lament a world where money is so important. I lament a society that forces people to work in order to live comfortably. I can’t think of any viable alternatives, though, so it only saddens me a little. At least with this system, this capitalist, work-for-money system, I have free time: weekends and the ends of weekdays. If I were living alone in the woods, growing, trapping, shooting my own food, I probably wouldn’t have as much free time. I suppose it is selfish to want to sit on my ass underneath a tree, typing away while the world goes by.

Maybe I’m just unhappy with my current job, which is leading me to think of greener grasses. I hope at some point in my life I can do something I find meaningful and engaging while also earning money. I think I’d like to be a writer rather than an editor, but I can’t think of anything worth writing that I think would be published. Plus, I thoroughly enjoy editing. Polishing the written word is easier than creating it, at least to me. (Zoë has gone back to panting at people.) Probably, if I were happier with work I would lament capitalism less.

Part of the problem (at least other than these damn ants crawling on me) is that I just wish I had more free time. I know I could afford to live if I work ten or fifteen hours fewer than I do now, but I am forced to work the requisite forty. Another part is that I miss my favorite part of daylight sitting inside at work: late morning and early afternoon. Those are the best times to spend outside, I think. By those times on the weekends, I’ve eaten breakfast/brunch and drunk my coffee, and I feel restless to go out and do something. It’s around these times that I go cycling, and around those times, though perhaps earlier, that S. and I go hiking. I feel caged in at work while better experiences await me out of doors. (S. just arrived, and Zoë is slowly realizing it’s her.)

A solution, I suppose, is to quit and find something else. But then I’d have to go job hunting, which is an excruciating experience even in the best of times. I can afford to be unemployed for some time, but it seems irresponsible to abandon gainful employment because I want to sit underneath trees more. I try to eschew being irresponsible. I tried to persuade my supervisor to let me work part time, knowing I can perform my essential job duties in fewer hours, but my offer was roundly rejected. I am at my wits’ end for a practical solution that doesn’t result in me being eventually destitute or dependent on outside help.

All that talk of my love for being outside so I could end up complaining at work. I know others complain of their jobs and my problem isn’t limited to me. But I think I owe it to myself, and others owe it to themselves, to examine the cause of my frustrations and irritations intelligently and act accordingly. Just as I am unhappy in certain respects and seek change, others should examine their lives and find solutions, rather than wallow in their self-pity.

At the end of the day, though, as it were, et cetera, I am set to start university in August to work toward something I want to do. Perhaps for now I should just suck it up and deal with work, accepting my paycheck with a smile and a nod. If the end justifies the means, then the end better be fucking worth it.

Number Twelve

All right, I’m finally in the library. It’s deliciously quiet.

I’ve decided to abandon downloading free books. Library books are so much better. Reading physical books is more cathartic than reading ebooks. Maybe not cathartic, but there’s definitely a palpable difference. So palpable, I can’t even describe it… Satisfying! That’s what I meant. Whoever came up with the idea to let people borrow books for free was a genius, or just kind-hearted. Or just some dirty hippie liberal. This time I am borrowing Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and Least Heat-Moon’s Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey. ‘Mosey’ is such a great word. I still haven’t read some books that I bought with xmas gift cards, but I am so infatuated with the library and old, smelly books that I am ignoring my purchased books. Another advantage to the library is that it encourages me to cycle here, and I need all the encouragement I can get since I’m a lazy, video game-playing ne’er-do-well. It’s not that I dislike cycling. It’s just that it requires work. But whenever I cycle, I think, ‘You know, I should do this more often.’ Then I go back to slovenly playing pretty video games, cutting the heads off of orcs or blowing up evil templars with fire spells. But it’s because I enjoy cycling that I want a job here in lovely Davis. Instead, I work in Sacramento at a place I don’t enjoy, doing work for the man. Hey, even I will abandon my principles for the all-powerful buck.

I wonder if anyone from work reads this.

I have the best-looking leg muscles: advantages of cycling. That’s the title of my treatise on cycling.

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I constantly struggle with laziness, at least at home. At work, I’m the darndest, tootinest worker that ever was, but when I’m at home, all I want to do is watch Netflix, read, or play video games. I suspect I work so hard at work – well, I work at work, which is more than can be said of others – because I compete with others. They don’t know they’re competing, but that’s not my fault. I’ve found that it’s easier to ask for things like raises and perks when I am superior to others. Not like I’m-an-arrogant-asshole-and-I-think-I’m-better-than-you, but if my work product has no mistakes and I can do more work than others, than I am empirically superior. I have to prove I am superior so that when review-time comes around, I can say, ‘Yeah, I need some more of those bucks you’re handin’ out.’

Despite my rationalizations, I probably still sound arrogant and rude, but that’s not my intent. We have a capitalist economy, and like most Americans, I work for money, not for pleasure – at least currently – so I might as well try to make as much money as possible. I will need to pay for school again, and at some point in my life I’d like to buy a house. It’ll be easier to pay for those things if I can make as much money as possible when I can. Money is the only reason why I continue to work where I do.

Luckily, I get to come home to my magnificent lady and my irritatingly cute dog. I eat square meals and I get to shower regularly. Not that I shower regularly, but it’s always available. Hey, we’re in a drought. I live in a town with exactly one million Asian restaurants, and I don’t fear being the victim of crime. Except maybe the crime of being too awesome. I am my own aggressor/victim.

Note: I wrote this yesterday thinking I would add to it, but nah.