Friday, December 01, 2006

West Civ meets my Crazy Life

So, basically, I left my cell phone in my pants yesterday while doing laundry. I’m an idiot. BUT, it awakened my creative muse, as this incident, combined with the four hours of West Civ readings that I had done, inspired me to write. So, without further adieu, I present: West Civ’s most famous authors retelling how I ruined my phone.

Ezekiel

1 The word of the LORD came to me. 2 Speak unto the people of C105, that they may hearken to my words of caution. 3 And He said: Mortal, there was once two roommates, one who played World of Warcraft all day, and the other who played bass guitar all day. 4 And the name of the former was Markus, and the name of the latter was Michael. 5 Markus was content to wallow in his own filth, emerging from his room only to eat and occasionally eliminate waste. 6 His lover was his girlfriend, and so I delivered her into his arms, and made things generally awkward for his roommate. 7 His roommate Michael saw this, and decided to purify his garments in the basement of his household. 8 But woe unto him, for in his haste to rid himself of the image of his brethren, he forgot his sacred vow to Rogers Wireless. 9 For Michael had neglected to remove the cell phone from the jeans he threw into the washer. 10 And lo, when his pants emerged from the washing machine, his phone was ruined. 11 And Michael checked the warranty to see if water damage was covered 12 But alas, it was not, and Michael was ruined.

13 When I heard this, I was seized with trembling at the idiocy of the action, and stared into the great beyond for seven days. 14 And at the end of the seventh day, I toppled, and thought to myself, “Surely this Michael be the greatest tool in the world”. 15 And the LORD God concluded, saying: Take heed mortal; 16 lest the rest of my people, the ArtSci’s, fall unto such folly and turn from my grace, and I forsake them by expanding the program to 200 people.


Herodotus

The Canadians have many strange customs, including playing a sport called “Hockey”, which is our Lacrosse, but on frozen water. In addition, their prostitutes have a questionable method of operating. Every Thursday, they dress themselves up in their finest wares, and after consuming a strong, watery looking beverage distilled from potatoes known as Vodka, they proceed to Quarterus, the local brothel. There, they are intimate with the many warriors who venture far and endure long waits for the privileges of their company. They allow the warriors to fawn upon them and purchase them libations. Should they approve of the warrior, they retreat back to his domicile to engage in activities I am loath to discuss. Should they not approve, however, they will escape with the other unclaimed maidens, claiming that they have “a thing” to attend the following morning. This custom puzzles me, but it is the way of the land, and I do not attempt to justify it, for each civilization believes their customs to be superior.
They related a tale to me, about one of their people, called Michael Herman. The general consent is that he is a needy attention seeker, although some Canadians, specifically from the tribe around the area of C105, maintain that he is simply misunderstood. However, I think this is unlikely to be true, as it is preposterous to believe that someone who is simply “misunderstood” can irritate that many people.
The story they relate involves the ritual of cleansing their garments. Rather than wash them by the river, as the Greeks do, the practice there is to take them to a “laundry room” as they call it, and from there receive the aid of monstrous steel machines to clean the garments for them. Now, Michael, as they claim, had a troubling dream the night before. He dreamt he saw numbers floating all about, when suddenly a large mechanical device began urinating, drowning out all the letters. Michael awoke in a fearful state. He went to his advisor, Majik Etball, who told him to inquire again at a later date. Taking matters into his own hands, he interpreted this dream to signify his impending failure on the calculus quiz. Calculus was a form of education of the Canadians, where they take a series of numbers and letters, and arrange them in an arbitrary fashion. This process originated from the Emperor Valeriote, who reigned for 17 years prior to this time. He had hoped to emulate the Roman empire in their successes, and as such decreed that all males between the ages of 17 and 22 should educate themselves in this fashion. It was chiefly because of these actions, as I believe, that the revolt led by Miro (or The Silver Fox, as the Amazons knew him) occurred, which I will detail later.
Hoping to avoid his failure, Michael retreated to the basement of his domicile, in order to facilitate the use of this “laundry room”. To be fair, some other accounts claim that he first tried to seduce the girl, Pszvddrivdder, who lived down the hall from him, but only after the third slapping did he relent and proceed down to the basement.
Once in the basement, in his haste to get his clothes into the machine, he neglected to remove his phone from his pocket. Upon his removal of the pants, which were unlike our Greek pants, as they were comprised of a stitched blue canvas, with the name “Levi” written all over it, he realized the true meaning of the dream. He fell to the floor, crying in anguish over the loss of his beloved cell phone.
This is the tale that the Canadians relate to me; I did not see it first hand. However, in one of my travels to Brandon City, in order to discuss with a female patron of Quarterus the large sores that were appearing on my personage, I did come across a man who fit the description of this Michael, wandering the corridors, inquiring if anyone had a blow-dryer for him to borrow.


Plato

Socrates: When we last convened, were we not discussing the shortcomings of man?
Timaeus: Yes, you are so right! Why must you be so perfect at everything?

Socrates: And were we not discussing how often it is the hubris of the individual that leads to his ultimate downfall?

Critias: Yes, oh gods yes! Please Socrates, may I please fellate you, you are so good at philosophy?!

Socrates: Let us wait until the class is dismissed. Now, did not the fourth member of your party promise that they were to attend this class?

Hermocrates: His head exploded when he found out that you knew his name.

Socrates: Alas, this is tragic. Nevertheless let us proceed to debate the nature of human failings. Now Timaeus, you said that you wished to discuss this subject, and had prepared an eighty page dissertation on the matter.

Timaeus: Yes, this is true. Now, if we postulate that humans can have failings, and that these failings manifest themselves in actions, then either these actions are stupid or they are idiotic or they are unknown to be smart. Now clearly since we cannot fathom that which is unknown to be smart, seeing as how it is unknown, we can then see that all human action can be perceived as either stupid or idiotic. Now, what is the proper shape of idiocy or stupidity that manifests itself in our perception? It is foolish to assume that it would be larger than five sides, for as we know, five is the days of the schooling week, and where else is a human to commit follies than at school? We can then subdivide this pentagram into seven equal sections, each consisting of area 1, 2/3, 3, 16/3, 6, 27/4, and 7. From the largest subdivision of this area, we see a pants-like shape of the pentagram. This pants-like shape is surely the shape of the “fool” particles of human nature. Furthermore, the shape of area 27/4 takes on the appearance of a cell phone. Supposing that this shape is also of some significance, one can clearly see a trend towards some sort of catastrophe, involving the two aforementioned shapes. Now, these shapes are constantly interacting, such that the shape of the pants is also the shape of the phone, while the shape of the phone is also the shape of the pants, and the two can simultaneously be the shape of the other while still being a distinct shape of their own, and maintain their shapeliness of their shape and form, that is, pants and phones, except when they crash causing liver failure, should the aforementioned pants to phone collision and interaction occur in the human body. However, there is the consideration of freewill to take into account, and as such, we should disregard the entire paragraph above, and instead view the conundrum from this perspective.
The human shape is concerned with hygiene, specifically when pertaining to the garments. Thus, the Living Being who created us also fastened steel plates, hoses, and spinners together, to create devices to aid in our cleaning. Now, if we postulate on the existence of the phone, and the convenience that the Living Being placed on man when pockets were created to store the phone, it becomes apparent that the Being wished for us to have the maximal enjoyment from these pockets. However, because of the nature of humanity, the bile sometimes clouds the judgment, and instead of removing the phone from the pockets, the human instead neglects to take it from its place in the pocket, and in doing so ruins the device that he so sought to preserve. Now, if that is not an example of human folly, then I know not what is. And therefore, human failings can be seen perfectly in this example, which is so clear and simple, even a simply layman could comprehend it.

Friday, June 09, 2006

This is how I study for Tanach

So this past Wendesday was my Tanach exam. Tuesday night at around 11 PM, I had just wrapped up studying, when it hit me: These stories are exceptionally stupid. So, in order to point this out, I went down to my room, and began typing. Three days later, while other's were studying for chem, I had produced the following:

“Are you sure we should do this?” Jacob said, in his typical nasally voice.
“Yes, for the love of God, yes,” Rivka snapped, irritation clearly present in her voice.
“Not so loud! You know He could hear you!” he retorted, taking up the matter of fact tone that made you think he was lecturing a Canaanite. “He IS omnipotent! Duh!”
“Jacob Nimrod Ben-Yitzchak, do NOT take that tone with your mother.”
Rivka rubbed her temples. Of course she should have anticipated this, she thought to herself. Nothing was easy with this child. Turning to the heavens, she wondered what she had done to deserve a son like this. Well, except maybe for that one time when she and Laban went down to Sodom for that weekend, and after a few barrels of that Manishevitz…and those goats…but no, even then she’d done penance for that.
Glancing skyward, she wondered how she even got roped into this whole crazy family. One minute she’s standing by the well, shooting the shit with Batshel about that scandalous new episode of ‘Desperate Midwives’, when this raggedy looking man pulls up with this caravan of camels. She could still remember that day. He was just sitting there, muttering to himself about ‘a sign’ and ‘what a crackpot job this is’. He looked tired, windswept, and exceptionally thirsty.
“Excuse me sir,” she had said, “you look very tired and thirsty. Would you mind not collapsing around the well? We need to get at it to survive.” “Please,” the stranger had responded, “could I get some water?”
“Uch, fine, come over here and drink out of the sheep’s trough”
She remembered the wide-eyed stare that he had given her. She felt a chill going down her spine. She suddenly had a premonition that this man would be trouble. She was right.
“Umm…,” he started, timidly, “are you sure you don’t also want to give my camels a drink?”
“No,” she had responded curtly, “we need every drop for ourselves.”
“Are you sure? They’re awful thirsty…”
“No, quite sure. Water’s precious around here, in case you didn’t notice.”
“Positive? Because it would be veryyyyyy nice”.
“No, look, I told you – we’re in the desert! Hello? Miles of sand?
“Pleaseeeeeeee? I’ll be your friend”.
“NO! Now leave me alone!”
“COME ON JUST GIVE THEM A DRINK!”
Her gaze had drifted to the bundles on the camel’s backs. Only then did she first notice that they were carrying enough jewels to fill an ark.
“Hmm…well, I suppose I could be inclined to give them some water…if you were to part with that silver nose-stud and those two gold bracelets. I need something to wear to go clubbing down at The Be’er Naked this weekend.”
His gaze drifted a moment to the camels. He shook his head, and responded.
“Ok, fine. Now would you give them a drink?”
Rivka bent over, and picked up a bucket out of the well. She threw in down in front of the camels, where they immediately began drinking. The second their lips touched the bucket, the stranger sprung up, a wild look in his eyes.
“AHA! It’s just like the sign I told God to give me! You are the one!”
“Huh? I didn’t want to I just-,”
“No, you did it! I saw. They all saw!”
“But-,”
“Lalalalalalala. Can’t hear you. Divine sign.”
After a few minutes more of this, Rivka had relented, and admitted that it was probably a sign from God, just for the sake of shutting the guy up.
“You must take me to your family,” the stranger commanded, “it’s urgent”
“Don’t you even want to know my name?” Rivka said, puzzled.
“Not important. I only need you to marry some guy”.
“What?!”
“Look, my name’s Eliezer. I work for Abraham. He needs a wife for his son.”
Rivka nodded. She knew about Abraham. He was her eccentric great uncle. Famous in the family for two things: upping his whole family and moving to some Godforsaken strip of land in the middle of the desert on a whim, and his impression of Noah using a pitcher of water and a few dessert rolls. She had been told to steer clear of him at all costs.
“Umm…well, I’m Rivka, daughter of Bethuel, but I don’t think-“
“Daughter of Bethuel?” he interjected, “do you know Elisha ben Zona”
“Ya! He goes to school with my brother! How do you know him?”
“Oh, I took camel riding classes with him”.
“Then you must know Machriel ben Shachtar”, and ummm…Pichol the Egyptian”
“Oh yeah, oh yeah, great guys. Really funny.”
After a pause, Eliezer piped, “That aside, I have to see your family right away,” and immediately grabbed her, and started to drag her to the city.
Well, one thing led to another, and before she could say anything, Rivka was whisked off to her home. After placating Laban her brother and her father with some jewels, he said that he had an urgent message for them but that some people (and at this he made sure to gesture at Rivka who was standing at the door) couldn’t hear it. They kicked her out, but she managed to stay at the keyhole, catching snatches of the conversation.
Turned out that things between good-ol’ Uncle Abe and his son weren’t going so well. Ever since an unfortunate incident where Abraham tried to sacrifice Isaac in the middle of Eliezer’s bachelor party (Abraham maintained that this was commanded by God, although one wondered how clear God’s word was at the bottom of three goat’s bladders of wine), the two had drifted apart. Isaac spend all day alone in the field, drawing in his papyrus notebook, writing in his journal, and listening to bands like Something Bedouin and Panic! At the Kotel. To top things off, Abraham’s wife had just died, and he was ruing sending away his Egyptian mistress just because Sarah ‘heard from Michal who spoke to Sheba that Hagar was saying how that new dress she sewed made her hips look huge’. Abraham was lonely, Eliezer said, very lonely... (at this he trailed off, and Rivka could only hear something about a ‘hand under his thigh’ and ‘an oath not to tell anyone’). So, in order to reconcile things with his son, Abraham sent Eliezer to find a wife for his son.
“So you see,” concluded Eliezer, “I need to take your daughter to be his wife”.
“Why my daughter?” roared Bethuel, “and why should I give her to a dweeb who doesn’t have the cajones to pick up a chick himself?”
“Well, your daughter fills all the stipulations: She’s a member of his family, she’s female, and she’s not a sheep.”
“What about looks?”
“That won’t be a problem. Isaac is…how shall we say…ass-ugly, and is in no position to choose”
“Ok, what’s in it for me?”
“Umm…hello?! Did you not see that giant caravan of jewels? All yours for the simple price of your daughter”
At this Rivka had barged into the room, and snapped, “Daddy! You cannot be serious! There is no way that I will-“
“Ah, you hear that?” Laban stepped in, “she said she will. Let’s send her off on her way.” Without another word, the transaction was complete, and without so much as a kiss goodbye, Rivka was whisked off to her new life with Issac.
Rivka remembered how enraged she was, and how she covered her face the first time they met, so that maybe he wouldn’t recognize her, and she could slip off with the next Ishmalite caravan to freedom. But, little by little, his nerdy endearing nature had worn off on her, and she eventually consented to marry him.
It wasn’t all sweetness and light, Rivka reflected, but it was fine enough. She wasn’t sold on the whole “matriarch” thing, thinking this was just a phase of his, like the well digging, and he had a tendency to fold like a cheap tent whenever someone tried to take his property, although he continued to insist that he was just ‘being the bigger man’. But overall, it was a good life, but for the kids.
The kids. Rivka had to surpress a groan whenever she even thought about those two, starting even from their birth. When she went into labour, it felt like someone was exploding themselves in her belly. For almost 36 hours, she sat there and struggled, racked with pain, and of course, Isaac had forbidden any form of epidural herb, saying “These are the next generation of Jews you’re giving birth to. I don’t want them being druggies!”. Well, if those two were the future of the Jews, then she wanted to cash in her stake in that particular following now.
Esau, the firstborn, was a nutcase. Completely hairy, even from birth, he was tormented by the other kids, who called him ‘The Hairy Hebrew’, ‘Wolfyid’, and ‘Sheepfucker’. As a result, he grew up as an angry kid. As soon as he could walk upright, he had his hands on a bow and arrow, and whenever he was angry, he would go out into the wilderness and “let out his emotions” on a few dozen wild stags or hares. But for some reason, Isaac took a shine to him. Rivka thought it was because he saw in Esau all the characteristics that he didn’t have: strength, passion, and vitality. Lord knew Rivka didn’t get enough of those from Jacob. The two of them could always been seen out in the field together, trying to hunt, even though the closest thing Isaac had ever come to hunting was pinning his own hand to a tree while trying to fire a bow.
It could have been worse for Esau though; he could have been Jacob. Rivka knew Jacob would be a handful right from the get-go. When she had given birth to him, he was clinging onto his brother’s heel so pitifully, and he first opened his squinty eyes that rested just above the biggest schnoz she had ever seen, he had a look that said, “Oy, it’s cold in here. Couldn’t I stay just a little longer in that womb?” Jacob was the antithesis of Esau. While Esau was out hunting, Jacob was inside counting Isaac’s livestock, and making sure that the amount of sheep correlated to last year’s Hamurabi Tax Form. While Esau skinned and cleaned the animals with his bare hands, Jacob wore gloves to brush his own teeth. Esau would play ‘Hunter’ with his little gang of friends, Jacob would play Druze’s and Dragons with the three neighborhood 20-year olds who still lived in the basement of their parent’s tents. He would be the kid who went outside in two robes, even in the middle of the desert, just because he was afraid of catching the plague.
Still, he was loveable, in his own ‘sad-puppy-that-no-one-wants’ way. And besides, he was a bright kid. He had studied the Torah so much, that he had memorized it verbatim. Of course, it was only 27 Chapters at the time, 12 of which was just his family tree, but still, you had to give him credit. And sure enough, when he wasn’t bugging her about whether she had gotten full value for the five shekels she had just paid for her goat cheese, Rivka grew to love him more than Esau. At least with Jacob, you knew what you were getting, not like Esau, one minute laughing and joking, and the next threatening to kill you because you asked if there was a hair in your lentil soup.
Of course, lentil soup was one of his sore spots. Contrary to popular belief, Esau hadn’t originally wanted to sell his birthright for just a bowl of lentil soup. At first, Esau had wandered into Jacob’s tent, about to mess around with him by slinging his freshly killed gazelle carcass on his study table (an action which Esau knew would make the finicky Jacob blanche and run for his disinfectant) and jokingly asking him how much the carcass would fetch for. Upon hearing a reasonable price cited by Jacob, though, he decided to pursue this transaction further.
“Okay, so you’ll give me ten shekels for the hide?”
“Well, ok, for you, and this is only because I like you, I will take your birthright off your hands also”.
“My birthright?! Why that?”
“Are you kidding? Do you know what you’d have to pay in Damescus? At least twice this! And I’m letting you give me all of this for only 5 shekels”.
“Five? Wasn’t it just 10?”
“Okay. For you, seven. But you have to give me your firstborn child too”.
“Umm…”
“Ok, if you don’t want to make this trade, I know this lovely couple up the Jordan who would just love to get their hands on…”
“No, wait! Okay, seven shekels”.
“Six”.
Their negotiating eventually progressed to the point where Esau was giving Jacob his carcass, birthright, first and second born son and the reins to his new camel, while receiving in return Jacob’s thermos of lentil soup (lentils being the only thing that Jacob’s sensitive stomach could stand). Esau walked out of the time thinking that he was getting a shrewd deal, but upon talking to his mother, he realized how ripped off he got. Esau stumbled off, swearing revenge.
Which brought them back to today. Isaac, who was getting on in years, had decided to confer upon Esau his blessing. Esau had gone to great lengths to remind Jacob that it was he, not Jacob who would receive the blessing of his father, engaging him in such conversations as “Hands up if you’re getting divine rewards” and “Hey, remember that time you got blessed with the dew of the heaven and the fat of the earth? Oh wait, that was me”. Rivka had seen all of this, and had seen enough. Maybe it was her intuition that no good would come out of Esau, maybe it was because she had just had a fight that night with Isaac about him doing nothing but sitting on his ass (he had been riding around all day on his donkey), maybe it was just because she was having ‘her special messiah’ come visit her that month, but she knew that Isaac couldn’t be allowed to bless Esau. And so, when Esau left to go hunt the blind Isaac some food, she dragged Jacob out of his tent, and told him the plan. Needless to say, the timid Jacob was far from convinced.
“Jacob Nimrod ben-Yitzchak,” she repeated, “you are going to go along with this plan, whether you like it or not.
Jacob blinked his eyes in the bright sunlight, and whined, “Ema, I look like a bloated ram with this stuff on”. Jacob was wearing Esau’s best clothing, that Rivka had picked up off the floor of his tent next to his hamper. However, Esau being more ‘festively plump’ then Jacob, the clothing hung limply over his scrawny figure, about four sizes too big.
“Nonsense, you’ll grow into it,” dismissed Rivka, “and the sheepskin brings out your complexion”. To emulate Esau’s hairiness, Rivka had also covered his arms with sheepskin. “But I have allergi-ACHOO,” sneezed Jacob, “wool makes my eyes water, and gives my skin a very nasty rash”.
“The back of my hand is going to give your head a nasty rash if you don’t get going! Now, do you know the plan?”
“Sigh, yes mom. I go in there, give him the meat and tell him its venison, even though it’s in fact sheep”
“Tofu sheep substitute, actually, we were all out of regular sheep. But honestly, you can’t taste the difference.”
“Fine, I go in there, get the blessing, and then hightail it out of the tent before he catches on”
“Perfect. Don’t let me down”
“You know, I still don’t think this is smar-,”
“GET GOING!”
Jacob slinked off, meal in hand, into his father’s tent, while Rivka waited by the entrance, to savor in her triumph.
When Jacob entered the tent, Isaac yelled out loudly to him, “Rivky? Is that you?”
“No father, it’s-,”
“Hey Honey! Remember that time when Abimelech walked in on us when we were being intimate? What a square!”
Rivka rolled her eyes. She remembered that night well. Everyone in the city had thought that they were brother and sister, and for the rest of her stay, she had gotten condescending smiles and comments of how close she and her brother were.
“No dad,” Jacob insisted, “it’s me. Esau. Your eldest.” He immediately turned heavenward and muttered, “you see! You see! I never admitted to anything. I wasn’t trying to trick him, it’s a misinterpretation is all”.
“Esau! Back so soon?”
“Umm…yes, the hunt went well.”
“You were gone for two minutes”
“I said it went really well”
“Well, what have you got for me?”
“Umm…it is…er-ah, fine…umm…dish…of v-v-v-v-…”
“Never mind, just give it here”
Jacob grabbed the bowl in Jacob’s trembling hands and began devouring the contents immediately. After thirty seconds, he belched loudly and threw the plate on the ground.
“That was delicious son! Much better then that drek your mother cooks”
An audible sigh emitted from the front of the tent.
“What was that?” exclaimed an alarmed Isaac.
“Umm…that was me…emitting….gas”
Isaac let out a boisterous laugh. “Hahaha! That’s my boy!”
Jacob laughed nervously. Already he had begun to break out in a hot sweat, and a large rash was developing on his back, which he knew wouldn’t go away, even with his special cream, if he didn’t get out of the sheepskin soon. How did Esau do this for his whole life?
“I suppose you want your blessing now?” Isaac remarked, cutting off Jacob’s thoughts. “Fine, fine, come over here.”
“Oh, dad, tha-a-a-ACHO!” sneezed Jacob.
Isaac snapped up, and said, “Esau never sneezes like that. Esau isn’t a weakling
like my other son, Jacob”.
“I am not a…”
“What’d you say?”
“I…said…I’m not a weakling…like Jacob. I’m all man.”
Isaac paused for a moment, inhaled deeply, and said, “Well, you certainly smell like Esau. Like a man, you know, blood, sweat, B.O. Not like Jacob. He smells like fish and hand cream.
From the mouth of the tent, Rivka muffled a chuckle. Well, it was true. Jacob was a soft one. If only he’d been like his middle-namesake, Nimrod. Now there was a man, Rivka reminisced. Nimrod had been Rivka’s great-great-great-great-step uncle, who had lived out in Babel. He had had a dream to construct a large, high-rise condo in the middle of the town, and charge top dollar for rent. Well, construction had gotten a little out of hand. Nimrod kept saying, “well, just one more floor, and I could be pulling in 3 more G’s”. Of course, after a while, the Moabite and Hittite workers started fighting about who cooked the better shwarma, one of the Amorites insulted the mother of one of the Girgashites, and before you could say ‘Jihad’, the whole darn thing had come falling down. Ah well. Rivka was sure one of her kids would have a better time in real estate than him.
Jacob blew by Rivka, interrupting her thoughts. He stormed out of the tent, and hurried over wordlessly to his tent. Rivka could tell he was upset. She entered the tent hesitantly, to see Jacob throwing off the sheepskin in a huff.
“How’d it go honey?”
Jacob looked up indignantly.
“How’d it go? How’d it go?! I stand, melting in that sheepskin, while he devours the meal I brought, and calls me a weak-willed pansy. Then he has to smell me, which was NOT an experience I want to repeat. Then I had to kiss him for gosh-sakes! KISS HIM?! You married a sick man, let me tell you. Then he inhales, and says that I remind him of the fields. The only thing I could smell was the manure, which was also how I was feeling at this point thanks to the sheepskin!”
“But you got the blessing?” asked Rivka
“Oh yes. The blessing. Let’s see, where to begin listing my endless blessings? The grain of the field, and the fruit of the vine. Great to know I’ll never be sober or carb-free again. Or the dew. Great to have, if we HAD ANY GRASS IN THE DESERT! Or to have people serve me. How would I ever get by otherwise? Oh, right, with the HUNDREDS of slaves that we already have! The old man was so loopy that he even said the same thing twice!”
“Well come on Jakey,” said Rivka, trying to soothe him, “you had fun, didn’t you?”
“Fun? FUN?! That was the worst experience of my life! And now Esau’s gonna kill me when he gets home.” Rivka tried to interject, but Jacob continued. “I’m running away from home. I’m going to live with Laban in Haran.” At these words, Jacob began packing a travel bundle.
Rivka did nothing to stop him. She was used to these threats. When he was 10, Jacob had run away, claiming that he was never coming back. He showed up two days later, haggard and shaken, having had to sleep outside with, “not even a bed of straw or something sanitary to sleep on”.
In a few minutes, Jacob had walked out of his tent, and was soon nothing but a speck in the distance. Rivka watched his figure disappear. She knew he would be back in four days, a week max. Like a kid of Jacob’s mettle could stay away from home for 20 years?
But Rivka was satisfied. She knew that Jacob was secure as the heir to the Jewish people. Even if he didn’t appreciate it now, he would be grateful to her in the future, when schoolchildren become obliged to learn his name and every one of his children
Her last thought, however, was of doubt. Could this be how things were meant to be? Were the Jewish people meant to spring from this anemic, nebbish, finicky, cheap, skinny boy with a big nose who still couldn’t eat fish because it upset his stomach?
“Na,” she thought, “I’m sure God will intervene somewhere along the line and change that.” After all, what kind of Chosen People were accountants?


This is Michael Herman saying, "When someone says that something is long, hard and a pain in the ass, they're not typically referring to chemistry."

PS - "Hehe"

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Yes, my hiatus is over, at least for now. Turns out that contrary to my belief, public nudity IS an arrestible offence. But no worry, one rock hammer and three posters of 1960's models later, I'm a free man (thank you Shawshank Redemption).

In my absence, I've noticed one thing in this work-a-day world of ours: Mace really stings when you get hit in the face with it. But another thing of note is how little one knows about the other religions that are not one's own. So, to that extent, I have provided a small but insightful guide to every world religion.

*DISCLAMER* No, I do not in fact know every religion in the world. But if I dont know about it, it's not important. Deal with it.

Religions!!!

Judiasm

Pros: Arguably the first major religion, this religion was the first to create the concept of charity, unbiased judgement, and guilt. This belief system believes in a singular God, who created the world, can do whatever he wants, and stirs the pot whenever he feels things are getting too dull around here. These people have a proud history of surviving all opperssors, having a strong bond to the State of Israel, and of never paying retail, no matter what. Thess people are surprisingly resiliant, outlasting the Persians, Babylonians, Syrians, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans and Palestinians (assuming the Messiah comes sometime really soon). By being a member of this sect, you can also make lots of jokes about having big noses, being cheap, and about controlling the world. Hell, you COULD feasably control the world.

Cons: Persecuted is kind of an understatement. EVERYONE hates you: The Arabs, the French, hell, even the Swiss probably dont like you. You guys have been history's whipping boys. Oh, and unlike many of these other religions, you don't have one or two rules; you've got 613 of them. From what you can and can't eat, to what you can and can't sodomize, this religion makes sure that no matter what you do, it's probably wrong. Oh, and remember that Israel thing? You're the one's being blown up.

Roman Catholic

Pros: One of the world's biggest religion's, and arguably the most influential. This group of followers believe that Jesus Christ, the most successful Jew to go into his father's business, died for our sins, and after coming back to life, packs it in after three days, and tells us he'll come back in a while, when we're ready. Kinda like the gopher in Groundhog Day. Two thousand years later, they're still holding out. Being a part of this religion allows you to be saved during the rapture (always a plus). Plus, taking a bath saves your soul, and a little bread and wine is like eating Jesus.

Cons: EATING JESUS?! What the hell is wrong with you?! Isn't he like your God? Plus, you have to take shit from an 85 year old man, who is horribly out of touch with the world, has lived in the same place for years, and has never touched a woman in his life. If you wouldn't take advice from that Star Wars nerd from down the street, why would you take it from him? Plus, your doctorine changes on a daily basis. "Ok, we dont eat meat. Ok, fine, but not on Fridays. Fine, Friday's too. And women aren't people. Fine, they are, but not really. And we really dont like the Jews. Fine we do- JOKES, we don't. Ok, this time we do. But that doesn't mean you can have protected sex. Yes, even you Africa."

Prodestant

Pretty much the same as Roman Catholic, but you don't listen to the Pope, eat Jesus, or get born evil.

Mormon

Pros: Polygamy's your thing? Well, this is about the only sect that still allows it. Double to septuple your pleasure with as many wives as you see fit. This ultra-religous group of Christians believes in the evils of modernity, from pornography, to beer, and even evil, evil electricity. They live in their own communities, living a simple life of farming, praying, and fighting the devil (it's kind of like Batman, but substituting pitchforks for the bat-belt and a horse and buggy for the Batmobile). Living in the thriving metropolises of Waterloo and Salt Lake City, you will never have to worry about pissing off God, because you never do anything to piss him off. It's a lot like being Canadian. Plus, can you go wrong with anything that Jon "Napoleon Dynamyte" Heder is a part of?

Cons: In response to the last question posed, yes, you can go very wrong. Do you like drinking? Can't do that. Promiscuity? Nope. Driving? Get used to a horse and buggy. Lights? Use a lamp, electricity is a sin. Hours and hours of mind-crushing prayer and servitude? Well then, you're in luck. And let's face it, how exciting IS Jon Heder's life? All he does is stay at home, and fend off calls from people who either say what a hack he is, or ask him to say "IDIOTS! Gosh!".

Islam

Pros: Hate women? Like oil? Enjoy being insurgents? Then this is the faith for you. Founded by Mohommed, who was spoken to by God, this distinguishes itself from every OTHER religion that was started by God talking to one guy, by having one of the most violent histories in the world. From their auspicious start (Hey, wanna join us? Ok, now that we've killed everyone you hold dear?), to the modern day Arab world, this is definatly the most aggressive religion. By joining this faith, you not only inherit 22 of the most oil-rich states in the world (and thus control the world even better than the Jews), you also are granted Allah's divine protection. That means that if you die killing an infidel, you are granted 72 virgins. Because anything less would be inacceptable (although no one really knows what happens on the 73rd day). Plus, you can stick it to those heathens in America.

Cons: America, specifically George W. Bush, is out to kill you. So...ya...watch out for that. If you're a woman, you have little rights other than "bear my children" and "cover every part of your body". Plus, you can be sold for a goat (two, if the market value's good). As well, some of your countries are run by dictators. Really it's just Iran. And Syria. And Lebanon. And Saudi Arabia. And Jordan. And Egypt. And the UAE. And of course, there has to be a REASON that those 72 women were virgins in the first place.

Buddism

Pros: Like being confused? This religion is perfect for you. Founded by an obese Asian man, this religion mostly focuses on asking questions. Such questions include "What is the sound of one hand clapping?", "What is Zen?" and "Where is truth?" (Although later historians now believe that most of these questions originated when Buddah dropped his "Zen-truth" brand sugarcane on the floor, and his stubby fingers were unable to reach it). This path of life is focused on solitary meditation, weaning off the dependence of mateiral goods, and of living a life of reflection. It's no wonder that some of the most dedicated followers are monks and homeless people. This religion also makes you sound really cool. It's like the exotic sports car of world beliefs. All the women will be all up on's when you tell them at a party that you practice Buddhism.

Cons: You will never be allowed to touch these women. Also, depending on how observant you are, you might not be able to dance, listen to music, drink, or sleep in a big bed. Kind of makes going to a party pointless. As well, the questions you focus on? They're called 'Unanswerable' for a reason. And Buddah? He died after eating a pork meal. Do you really wanna trust your future to a guy who couldn't overcome an ulcer? Finally, the Chinese are killing you in Tibet, and it isnt looking so peachy for you guys there in general

Hindu

Pros: Tired of worshipping one diety? Well, Hindu has a bunch to choose from. From the elephant headed guy, to the six armed chick, there's something for everyone who has a thing for men/animals or polylimbed gods. Another plus is that you become reincarnated. That means that you get to relive all of life's good experiences - having sex, graduating, being aquitted for second-degree murder. As well, arranged marriges are all the rage! Too ugly to get a bride? As long as you have enough wheat and livestock to pay the dowry, it doesnt matter! Plus, these guys invented yoga!

Cons: Being reincarnated also means reliving all of life's bad experiences too - puberty, rejection, sickness, rejection, humiliation, bullies, horrible horrible rejection. Oh, and like the washing machine, you're stuck in an infinate spin-cycle of reincarnation. UNLIKE the washing machine, you cant open the top and stop it. Plus, you could come back as something horrible, like a dog, a bird, or a Russian. And to top it off, there's something called the "Ultimate Reality". I didn't bother to research it, but I assume it's like Virtual Reality. Virtual Reality makes me dizzy and disoriented. When I'm dizzy, I hit things. When I hit people, they stop liking me. So following Hinduism will make you lose friends

Scientology

Pros: Tom Cruise does it. That should be enough for you people. But if you need more convincing, consider this - what sounds more rational: we were created after a fight between good and bad aliens, and that our innate evil comes from the vaporized bad aliens we inhale in the air, and that trauma experienced in childhood causes depression, and so birth should be done in silence -OR- we were created by an invisible, all powerful thing, a creation which is in opposition to every known scientific evidence, and this guy cares about us, but not enough to intervene in our lives when we need it (but still needs our servitude), and as part of our covenant, we either cut off our foreskins or dunk our babies in water to save thier souls? Thought so. Plus, if you're sick of paying through the nose for medical care, you dont have to worry about 'psychiatrists' or 'medicine' as both are unnatural and Godless. And of course, you have a network of brothers to lean on, provided you pay your 2 grand a month to the brotherhood.

Cons: Telling women to be quite while something falls out of their orifices is all good and well in theory, but it's a whole different story in practice. And once that flesh cut becomes infected with tetnus, penecillin doesn't seem go bad after all. Oh, and the whole "People will never take you seriosuly again in your life" thing. That's a concern too.

So there you go. I think this has made it abundantly clear which path is the best: Atheism.

This is Michael Herman saying - "Write a book: It's the fifth best thing you can do with your hands"

PS - " Writing poetry is the ninth"

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Committed

I'm not good with commitment.

That's a phrase I've heard so often over the past little while, it's starting to drive me mad. Friends, family, classmates, all seem to have some fear of commiting. It's not as if they are bad people. Most of them are fine people, other than that one fault. Men afraid to commit to a job. Women afraid to commit to a man. Boys afraid to commit to being on time. Girls afraid to commit to a fashion or style. All of them afraid to commit to the truth.

What is commitment, that makes it so scary, so fearsome? By committing, are we selling a part of our souls? No. Are we making life changing decisions? No. Are we giving up something precious of ours in order to gain it? Again, No. So why is there such an aversion to it in this day and age?

Nowadays, when everything has to be measured in immeiate gratification, the idea of commitment is fearful. People don't want to wait for things; they want the most possible, and as soon as possible. The idea of commitment, of perhaps delaying your pleaure for a brief period, to do something for someone other than yourself, is foregin to us. We are all too wrapped up in our immature thoughts to commit to anything else.

But I'm young, I have often heard, and I just want to have fun now. Experiment, and I'll settle down later, and commit then. But when is later? The flirts and playboy's of adolescence wind up the bachelors and spinsters of old age. The drifters, who can never stick with something, never find anything to stick to. We claim that we can stop when we feel right. But again, when is right? Like an addiction, without knowing how to stop, we can never turn off the desire to keep moving. If you constantly train yourself to drift, you'll never know how to settle down.

The idea of non-commitment says that there is always better. That we should not chain ourselves to one thing, because there will always be something better out there, something more enticing, more thrilling, that we should strive for. But of course there will be. There will always be, and there's naught any of us can do about it. If you keep playing ''Keep up with the Jones's'' you'll wind up not only missing the Jones's, but also your own happiness. Is it so hard to say "Yes, what I have isn't the best, but I'm happy with it"? We often find ouselves pining after hopeless dreams, because we cant accept, can't commit, to the hand that fate has dealt us.

By saying we're afraid of commitment, we're saying we can't be trusted. That we can't even summon the basic human decency to say that you can be counted on. That, although someone else may count on us, depend on us, need us, we can't recpriocate. This idea of fear of commtiment, essentially says a fear of maturity. A fear that you should own up to what you do. That you should stand by something, through thick and thin. By distancing yourself from any form of commitment, you show that you don't want to grow up, and deal with the hard facts of life, that sometimes you need to stop leading a wishy-washy life, trying to aviod responsibility and make a stand. A stand on some idea, some person, some THING.

So the next time you say you're afraid of commitment, stop and think of what you're actually afraid of, about why you're saying this, and whether or not it's commitment that really scares you.

Otherwise, you could be commiting yourself to more than you barganned for.

-MJ Herman

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Secrets

I have a secret.

I can't tell you when I heard about it. I can't say who it's about. I can't say what its about. I can't say how important it is. I can't say why it's important. All of that would serve, in some way, to betray the secret. All I can say is that it is my secret.

No one here will know what it is. Some people will think they know what it is. Some people may be mad, because they think I'm betraying their secret. Others will assume I am simply showboating. Still others will havent a clue what I'm actually talking about. I can guarantee them all that the secret I am thinking of is not theirs, nor do they know about it, or likely care.

When I first heard this secret, I was surprised. I immediatly wanted to tell someone, even though I had been sworn to secrecy. But I didn't. At the time, I'm not sure why. It may have been beacuse I didn't think it was that important. Or because I was just tired. But then, the next day, I thought about it again. And again, I thought about telling it. But this time, I was sure I wasn't going to say it. Out of respect for the secret itself, not the person/people involved.

Another period of time goes by, and still no one knows. I don't talk about it. I dont want to talk about it. And it still stays inside me. People may hint at it, or ask questions, not to me, about it. It sometimes strains and burst to leap out my mouth into the world, but I keep it in. It becomes a part of me. I wake up, and it's with me. Wherever I go, it comes with me, nagging, pressing to expose itself, if only but for a fleeting moment. But still he stays within, never to break his bonds.

It's gotten to the point why I don't even remember why I'm still keeping the secret, nor why it's so important. All I know is that I have to keep it inside, at all costs. As long as it stays inside, I keep some little hope, some little essence alive within me, giving me purpose, giving me a reason to keep fighting something, even something so insignificant.

I still haven't told a soul, and I will continue to tell no one. I will take this secret with me to the grave, perhaps out of a sense of duty, or perhaps out of a sense of obligation, to myself and the secret. The party or parties involved may have revelaed it long ago; this makes no difference. This was not their secret. It was mine. I heard it. I have carried it with me, keeping it safe for all this time, and so it remains my own. I will continue to keep it here with me, nurturing it, keeping it just inside me, always trying to escape, but I always keeping it back.

I think the world is built on secrets like this. Secrets, that may not even really be secrets. Secrets that people keep, from everyone. We all have them. Some of them are personal. Some are irrelevent, some are amusing, some are serious, some are heartbreaking, but all are important. Even if it is in fact public domain, that doesnt matter. What matters is that you BELIEVE that you have that knowledge. That you everyday, undergo the personal struggle to keep that secret trapped. This struggle, in the end, makes us better. They keep us up. They remind us that there is one little thing that we have, that sets us above the rabble. One small piece of knowledge that you have, that makes you superior to every single other person in this world.

Because, after all, for some people, that's all they have.

-MJ Herman

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why Laissez-Faire Capitilism Doesn't Work (Ayn Rand Essay, Part 1)

Allright, instead of one long, boring, bigass essay, I have decided to break it down into several small writings. Much more esthetically pleasing, I believe. Alrighty....onward!

Ayn Rand, throughout her novel, The Fountainhead, promotes the idea of the 'leissez-faire' capitilist system. This system promotes a free-market economy, with almost no government intervention, short of preventing violation of one's physical rights (ie, the right not to be physically intimidated, hurt, etc.). On the surface, and as a blue-blooded capitlist myself, this appears to be a very favorable system, as it directly rewards pluck, hard-work, and dedication. As well, it appears to wean people off welfare dependance and other 'social buoys'. However, on closer inspection, one can see a number of flaws in her reasoning.

First off, as an egoist, one must believe that man (and here I use the broad term 'man' to mean human, dont get all sexist on me) will always act in his own interest. His own interest, however, often comes at the expence of others. For example, lets look back at the last time such a system was prevolant, the early 20th century. At this time, men, women and children worked in sweatshops, often more deplorable than the ones found in Third World countries today. They had to work long, hard hours, and for pennies a day. This, under this system, would be completly accpetable, as no one gets 'hurt' in a literall sense, and the owners are simply acting in their own interest. Not so grand, huh?

This system also allows for a great deal of exploitation, due to lack of government intervention. A small number of factory owners, or businessmen, in collusion, could drastically drive down the wages of the people in their employ. No one would be able to stop them, and again, it is well within the parameters of the system in place.

Another issue that arrises is one of 'collective action problems' (Note: This idea is not mine, it was published in a book, The Rebel Sell, by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter). These are problems where everyone ought to help out, but no one person has any individual motivation for doing so. A great example in this day and age is greenhouse gasses, or the Kyoto Accord. Ultimatly, it is in every country's best interest to join the accord, to eliminate global warming, a long term problem. However, until EVERY country agrees to participate, no individual country has any motivation for spending the money to do so, because its taxes (or other expendatures) will rise as a result, while other countrys' will not. One can then clearly see how that in a Laissez-Faire Capitilistic system this would NEVER occur. There would be no environmental legislation, no minimum wage, nor any check or balance to ensure that those with the wealth do not skew the system to their favour, nor harm the planet.

This system also puts the poor at an enormous disadvantage. If, as discussed earlier, owners/those in charge collude to ensure very small wages for those in the working class, while simultaniously driving up the cost of living/education (through their increased spending as a result of the wealth aquired from giving these people small wages), soon a system will be in place that simply perpetuates the cycle of poor. Eventually, the poor will have nowhere to go, and no oppertunities, because of a system that allows cut-throat competition.

Rand attemps to argue her case through the character of Howard Roark, her arrogant, irritiating protagonist (more on him in another entry). He says, with regards to building a low income housing project, "I think it's a worthy undertaking...but not at the expense of other men. Not if it raises taxes, raises all the other rents and makes the man who earns forty [dollars a week, as opposed to 15 a week that live in the low income housing] live in a rat hole". At first, his sentiments seem appropriate: Why should the middle class suffer, because of the low income. However, again, upon careful scrutiny, one can see how this logic is flawed. We have already established how, under this system, it is very possible that neither the man who earns 15 OR the man who earns 40 could be screwed out of a decent house. But, that non-withstanding, let us speculate on what would happen if there was NO subsidized, or low income housing. In a completly free market system, there would be no housing available for the poor. Again, using the egoistic arguement, this is very simple: Why build houses that yield minimal income (say, for 10 bucks a month) when there is also a market for houses that will yield a maximum income (for 40 bucks a month). Acting in your best interest, one will always choose the latter. One could argue that with the perpetuaing cycle of 'poor' described, there would soon be a market for low-income housing. My counter-arguement is that although there is a market for it, the home-owners/landlords, by colluding again, would be able to all charge the maximum possible for these houses, meaning the the bottom group in any inflation rate would be cut out (that is, every year, the lowest earners wouldn't be able to afford a house, and would go homeless, but enough people in the working class would be able to afford the houses, to make it viable to build...until inflation sets in). [Note: This is not an full out endorsement of low-income housing. There are still problems with the system, such as how they perpetuate a MENTALITY of poor, and other things. However, eliminating them completly is not the answer.]

All these things show why government intervention is needed. By providing a welfare system, one can help the disadvantaged get on their feet, and allow them to better themselves, by not having to worry about a source of income. Govenrment intervention also prevents collective action problems, and from authority figures collaborating to hurt the masses. All of these things, of course, should be carefully monitored, so that welfare dependance, and over-regulation does not occur (ok, that may have been slightly contradictory, but you get my gist). Thus, I have clearly demonstrated why the Laissez-Faire Capitilist system cannot work, and why government intervention and regulation is needed in a successful economic system.

Whew...that was hard. Allright, let me know what you think. If you have read the book (The Fountainhead), or disagree with me, leave a comment, I'd love to discuss this. And so ends part 1

This is Michael Herman saying - " I wish I had something better to do with my time"

PS - *Sobs*

Friday, October 21, 2005

Ethics: A primer

Well, faithful reader (yes, reader), I have returned to write some more. Surprised? So am I. Let me explain.

I am currently reading "The Fountainhead", a piece of tripe written by Ayn Rand. It has infuriated me so much, that once I have finished, I plan to publish an entry completly proving her, and that book, wrong.

In order to grease the wheels a little, and speed things up, I wanted to put a primer on some of the ethical terms that I will be discussing. Just makes things easier. Plus, I need to stroke my ego, by pretending that I am smart.

ETHICS

Egoism: Not to be confused with Egotism. Egoism is a school of thought that says that all human actions are motivated by the desire to help ones-self. This was originally invented by Thomas Hobbes. Now, just to clarify, this does not mean that people will then NEVER do a 'selfless' act, but that it will ALWAYS (and this is important) be motivated by selfish means. For example, one might give to charity (a selfless act), but do it to aleviate guilt, or to fullfill some deep-seeted need to help others. This leaves no possibility for Altruism. Which leads me to...

Altruism: An ethical doctrine that holds that individuals have a moral obligation to help others, if necessary to the exclusion of one's own interest or benefit. This doctorine believes that people can, and should, perform actions that help others, and not (nessicarily) themselves. However, usually, this is the case. The essential idea is that the action should benefit OTHERS foremost, and not ourselves. If the actions benefits ourselves more that the other person, it is not altruistic.

Utilitarianism: A variation of Altruism. This principle, started by Jeremy Bentham and John Stewart Mill, believes that one should always strive to do what delivers 'The Greatest Good for the Greatest Amount of People'. There are other parts to this philosophy, but this is the most important one. Naturally, one can see a visible flaw in it: The Greatest Good is often directly opposed to your best (and normal) interests. For example, if you were to walk in to a hospital, and three people needed different organs, it would be alright for the hospital to kill you, as it would deliver good to three people, as opposed to one (and one can infer, through logic, that the good provided to one of these people is equal to the good of you being alive).
A few more intro points:

1) I personally, am an egoist. If you really want, I can explain my position, but the only relevant thing is that it is what I believed.

2) If all humans are motivated by self-motivation, how does any morality get started? According to Hobbes (and me extrapolating on his thoughts), because humans will benefit in the long run from social order, we voluntaritly subject ourselves to a 'Social Contract', whereby we give up some of our liberties, in exchange for overall security. Thus, morality.

I think that's it, for now. I might need to update further, but I'll let you know that in my final publishing.

This is Michael Herman saying - "I'm not cynical, its just no one has proved me wrong yet"

PS - "Its true"