The Lame Game

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Journal Info



September 20th, 2009

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This is an update to say I won't be posting for another few days.  I know, incredilame but true.  Due to foreseen-but-in-typical-fashion-not-completely-avoided issues I've been tied up reading volumes for classes.

TL;DR - brb wedsday(?) lotsa work im ok ur ok wer al ok ttyl LOL

September 18th, 2009


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So today, in the middle of my Roman Culture class, my prof says "and you'll all know about that from your readings."  Normally this wouldn't be very significant but today, on this fateful day, it was notable because it wasn't true.  We're two weeks into classes and I couldn't quite recall the section he was referring to from today's reading.  Then again, once I thought about it, most of what we've had lectures on hadn't been covered in the readings.  I had always thought this was because the readings were more supplementary rather than preparatory but this was a direct reference to something I hadn't read.  After class I hurried home to check the reading list and found everything in order except that... I'd been reading from the wrong book.  Two hours a night, nearly every night, for weeks.

Forgive my sparse blog but I really do have reading to do.

P.S. TGI Friday

September 16th, 2009

"The difference between civil and criminal law..."

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"I'm sorry, I'll let you speak in a minute, I just have to say I'm a jackass"

So in these past two days the Hart House (UofT Clubs+Sports centre) Debating Club has been starting up.  I went to two meetings and saw two hilariously abysmal show rounds.  The first was whether or not the government should criminalize infidelity and the second was whether or not the United States should televise state executions.  I know, odd to begin with but with cut time, out of practice debaters, rushed prep, and a generally jovial atmosphere it ended up with wild grasps at prudence and family values and phleh, that sort of stuff.  What was most fun, I found, was meeting people I haven't seen in eh-jeeeeees.  Some of them, of course, I was less delighted to see than other but for the most part it was good times.  There was also a new, friendly attitude between me and another female debater where there hadn't been one before.  I did my resolute best to be friendly and unassuming so we'll see where that goes.

September 14th, 2009

White lie - quite different from a "white lay"

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My first day of Monday classes for '09, yeesh.  Three hours in the ancient world is interesting but quite draining, although somewhat made up for sitting next to my energetic friend Sarah in Celtic Mythology.  She recently dyed her hair blond so she has a bit of a Billy Idol look about her.

So today I ran into a guy I met last year named Spencer.  He's a nice guy who was in two of my classes but definitely a guy who ran in different circles.  He said affably that "we should do something later this week."  I took some e-cocaine and came up with a brilliant "likely not this week.  I'm in classics, I don't have much free time to breathe even."  *congenial laugh*  "But message me on Facebook and we'll set something up."  See, there, I most likely lied.  I'm awful at making plans generally, lot alone via the temporal walls of Facebook.  Am I a bad person?  Maybe.  The reason why we don't naturally act with radical honesty is because, I think, the slight possibility that I wasn't so callously brushing him off (whether it was an actual offer or a curteous offer) is so preferable that though we may consciously realize we're being brushed off any unpleasant feelings will be mitigated by the subconscious idea that at least I cared enough to lie.  Horrible, right?  Yes.  But is a blunt, callous statement of "I don't want to hang out with you because I don't think we mesh that well" really that much better than a small lie and the same non-committal idea communicated?  I dunno, this really is just a late-night ramble.

September 13th, 2009

Today was a day of study

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So the saying is true: one hour of class is two hours of studying.  At least, so far.  Today I stalked my way through a couple hours of both Latin and Greek grammar only to find myself, at the end, utterly exhausted.  If things keep up this way I'll have no free time at all this year!

I went to a my friend Duncan's birthday dinner tonight and had a lovely time.  It's quite heartwarming to see him turn 19 - all grown up and wearing a dark corduroy jacket his father gave him.  I'm about the same age as Duncan, my birthday is in two months and in a way I owe my life to him.  My elder brother was born grossly premature (3 months) and Duncan's older brother was, I think, born a bit late.  So, back in the day, when Duncan's mother, my mother's best friend, found out she was pregnant she phoned my mother to tell her to get pregnant quickly, because "since you have kids prematurely and I have kids late so we can both have ours at the same time!"  It didn't pan out precisely that way but near enough.  Two weeks after I was born Duncan's mother came to see me, the newborn, and brought a very little Duncan along to meet me.  But today I got to see Duncan solidify his ambling progression into adulthood with a modest "thanks everyone," and a tentative opening of gifts.  Duncan has found a confident stride in life and all I can really say is 'here's to you Duncan, don't ever stop being you.'

September 12th, 2009

An uneventful but reflective day

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I had a generally good day today.  A day which, in retrospect, makes me thankful I'm not one of certain kinds of people:

1. I'm the kind of person that can sit and read.  Sure, we all get distracted but, thankfully, I still retain the ability to read an eight of a textbook in one sitting.
2. I'm not the kind of person that views food solely as sustenance and not as a pleasure.  Growing up with food-world parents I gained a respect for food that I've kept to this day.  For supper, my roommate made a big meal of corn, bacon, and beans that I relished - not just consumed.
3. I'm not the kind of person that calls a person who aims more carefully in Gunz a hacker.  I killed one guy three times in a row so he called and tried to pass a vote to kick me.  Geeze.
4. I've never been paralyzed with emotion - and I've been in some quite emotional states.  I've had my moments where I've had to wrestle with my own emotions and keep them under control but I've never been paralyzed or put into an unreachable state.
5. I'm more likely to reserve judgement rather than to judge impulsively. 
6. I'm somewhat self-absorbed but, unlike far too many of the self-absorbed, I know it.  The clue's in every part of this list starting with a capital "I."

I also learned I can do 6 full push-ups before collapsing into a pile of indolent university student.

September 11th, 2009

September 11th... again

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So the first week is over but that means the year is just beginning.  Yeesh.

It was two friend's birthdays today, on this memorable day, but thankfully this day was as much of a tedious memorial as past years.  September 11th shocked the world, not just the States, because besides being a tragic event it really emphasized that for all America's clout it's still a vulnerable country.  Keeping this in mind I still found it a bit much when September 11th of the past five years was instantly laden with the sombre cloud of mourning.  We get it, people died, it sucked, heroic things were done, people survived, but we still live in goddam Canada and other things happen.  "Never forget" seems almost appropriate until one remembers that almost every person in on the planet knows where they were when they heard about the attacks, and since the attacks launched 1 war, galvanized another, and the expected lifespan of today's youth is about 100 years old I don't think anybody is likely to forget.  I don't mean to be callous but, personally, I think "never forget" should stay reserved for the World Wars.

But good news today: I made supper and it was edible.  Chicken soup, rice, salad, beans, and chicken bits make good eatin'!  I also downloaded a game called "Gunz" and played it for a while with my roommate.

September 10th, 2009

Oh, that was a rhetorical question?

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So today was my first Latin class of 2009 and wow, my prof's cooooooool.  He's a Scottish Roman expert who handles the class very well and has a great sense of humour.  There's also a spectacular keener in the class; one of those middle-aged, feels-compelled-to-answer-every-question type guys.  I'm not saying he's mean or anything, just that his classroom demeanor is more Breakfast Club than introductory university course.  The keener sat in the direct front and centre of the class, my usual spot, except that this guy got there before me, therefore he's an awful person.  Anyway, here's my favourite keener anecdote of the day:

Prof: "Around the fourth and fifth century AD Latin disintegrated.  It didn't completely disappear, but it fell apart and, when it next appeared in the eight century, was much closer to French than it is to classical Latin.  Does anyone know why this happened?"

*short pause*

Prof: "Because of the fall of the Roman empire, which was a very messy business."
Keener: "Yeah, that was messy."

*awkward silence which my prof quickly filled because he's awesome*

I also learned that my old friend and past babysitter is coming to visit with her husband.  I think the visit is a bit of a check up on my brother and I after what my father did this year but, hopefully, it won't be an overcast visit.

September 9th, 2009

First day of class

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The experiment is going well!  And that's all I'll say about that for today.  It's too early to post any specific results without a greater time sample.

Today was a good first day of classes.  Although my Roman Culture class was a tad dull my Ancient Greek Language class was the bee’s knees; we translated a poem and I was the first to recognize it as the opening lines of the Odyssey.  Hurray for nerdiness!
Also for the first time, I was lucky enough to tour the surprisingly beautiful St. Michael's campus* (a religious college) on my meandering way to class.   While there, I had, again for the first time in my life, the startling realization that as an atheist I was a minority there.  Imagine it, a young white male getting a university education beeling marginalized by anything; genuinely shocking.  I guess that faint malaise of feeling marginalized by a tolerant majority is why many young men become Republicans.  Of course, I had nothing to fear or be wary of except being in unfamiliar waters and surrounded by a new firmament.  However, this peculiar feeling quickly changed into humour when, in the middle of my lecture on Ancient Greek history (3 hours long!), my Charlie Brooker-esque professor made a comment about how from the time of the Ancient Greeks till today there hadn't been enough time for any substantial evolutionary changes in humans.  About a minute later, two students got up and walked out of the lecture hall.

This is what many internet-goers might call an "educationfail."

* The University of Toronto is actually an amalgamation of smaller universities, each with their own individual yet adjacent campus.  St. Michael's is the most religious college, housing both the theology departments and having many religiously affiliated faculty along with its own on-site chapel.  St. Mike's is also known for having less money than the other colleges which is partly why I was surprised to see their well-tended gardens and extensive landscaping.

September 8th, 2009

Two days before the day after tomorrow!

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Yeesh I've gotten to this late.  The big-ish news for me today is tomorrow: the first day of school.  My super-fun first day of school is complete with six hours of class;,including three hours of Greek history, two hours of Ancient Greek language, and an hour of Roman culture studies.  I won't say that I'm actually dreading school, I'm just antsy at the idea of such regimented obligations - even ones I chose for myself and that I'm likely to enjoy.

What does this mean for the family and friends?  It means we've got our cooking schedule laid out with me taking thursday and friday.  It means my brother starts a TA-ship at the Scarborough campus, an hour an a half each way.  It means much less GameDamage, junk reading, and blogging but, at the same time, it means the debating and naginata clubs are starting up again, and I get to take some enjoyable classes.

On gmail chat today my friend asked me whether there were any "new women" in my life.  I replied that there weren't.  Secretly, I've given up.  Perhaps a year of asexuality will improve my grades.  An experiment you say?  I know I'm up for it.  What a... not exciting(?) idea.

September 7th, 2009

Ice cream, strippers, and Amurican identity

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So today I went with my brother and a friend to 7/11 for dessert.  On the way there I ran into another friend, Connie, who was just leaving a conversation with her friend.  I asked Connie if she'd like to join us on our hunt for ice cream and she decided to join us, explaining on the way that her friend's name was "Amber."  "That's a stripper's name," I remarked candidly.  Connie laughed and said that Amber was "as far as possible from being a stripper (a Pussycat Doll?)."

That got me thinking about names in general; specifically that Amber had overcome one of the greatest hardships in modern industrialized society: having a stripper name.  Now, not all stripper names are exclusively stripper names but, in most cases, those with stripper names who show even a hint of strippericity are precluded from a normal life in non-stripper society. 

Let's take the name "Megan" as an example:  Let's look at the two most popular Megans Google can find, Megan Fox and Megan McCain.  Megan Fox is known as a "socially acceptable" stripper; choosing the currently high class route of taking her clothes off for lots of money in movies almost everyone sees.*  Megan Fox had the choice, early in life, whether or not to be the girl in the sandbox who threw sand at the other kids or who would suck on lollipops all the time - she made her choice.  Ever since those fateful years Ms. Fox has pursued her career as a stripper actively, washing cars in "auditions" for work.**  Megan McCain took a different route.  Back in the sandbox Ms. McCain lectured other kids on the evils of homosexuality and other "Amurican" values.  But one fateful day, on her father's campaign trail, she chose to dress up for the cameras.  Normally this wouldn't be considered a big thing, most people would say "Oh, so Republicans can be attractive," but, because of her unfortunately PG-13 name, she didn't become the poster-girl for the Republican Party so much as its pin-up girl (hell yeah I'm good).  Ann Coulter followed this same route; deliberately portraying herself as a semi-equestrian sex symbol for Republicans yet, unlike Megan McCain, Coulter is now known as the poster-girl of the Republican party.  Poor Megan McCain, her name is both her only claim to fame and the only reason she won't even be taken even half seriously in life.

So in my own way I pity them.  All those Ambers, Megans, Taras,*** and other unfortunately named girls who grow up conscious of the leers of their peers; egging them into taking off their clothes and washing a rich man's car for money.

*This is different from Pornstardom because "Megan Fox," unlike "Candy Inurpants," is a stripper name, not a pornstar name.  Megan Fox also makes much more money than the average pornstar ("high class" pornstar?).
***I excepted "Brittany" from the list of obvious stripper names because of Brittany Murphy - the anomaly who, even though she posed for Maxim, seems oddly not-strippery.  Weird.  Perhaps it's just me.

September 6th, 2009

I'm off to bed

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Although today was good fun I have neither the energy nor the insight to write a full blog post right now.  Instead, here's a list of facts you might not have known:

- You should see District 9
- Ancient Greek is a tricky language
- Seto Kaiba actually wears a flowing dress in most Yu-Gi-Oh episodes
- pokeman Pearl is a startlingly difficult game
- dyed engineers are cool, dyed engineers in dyed hajabs are cooler
- the only thing more inane than Youtube comments are newspaper comments
- I really am awfully tired.

Nighty night!

September 5th, 2009

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Earlier tonight I went out with some family and friends for Vietnamese food.  After a hearty supper in good company, I walked one friend, Duncan, to the College/Spadina streetcar stop.  We waited more than half an hour (an unusually long wait) for the streetcar to arrive but thankfully found ourselves engaged in some interesting conversation.

I commented to my friend, Duncan, that I imagine him as my own personal Oscar Wilde.  He said that it was a ludicrous idea that, if true, warranted me "finding another personal Oscar Wilde."  I then went on to compare my brother to Stephan Dion, the former head of the Liberal Party of Canada, in terms of intellectual clout and forthright honesty.  Duncan said that I didn't do my brother credit and that Dion's failures as an MP eclipsed his otherwise virtuous personality.  So I got to thinking about the merits of such comparisons and realized that although most are just fun to do and don't have much practical application there is one important merit to them: when we compare personalities we isolate traits in an uncommonly analytic way and, as a consequence, learn more about ourselves and those we compare.  In the case of my friend Duncan he's very similar to Oscar Wilde in that he can confront most things with a sense of humour or wit but, unlike Oscar Wilde, he is also able to accept the true gravitas of serious situations and consequences.

I don't mean to lecture (or be any other kind of lame) and I hope to write about more interesting things in future but I hope that any reader, including myself in future, can take something from this message.

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September 4th, 2009

My d-bag Muffin Story

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I used to have this problem where I'd refrain from judging people.  It used to be that I might see a five year old peeing on sleeping people in the park and think "that kid isn't a brat, or even a menace, just a victim of poor parenting or an environment non-conducive to healthy child development."  At a certain point I realized that there is, in fact, a happy medium between understanding the reasons for something and an appropriate attitude toward the thing itself.

Living in such a pluralist society as Toronto I grew up trying to not judge people.  Fact: Most of the Chinese kids in primary school brought really awful smelling lunch to school.  Did it mean I should dislike them?  No.  But, in my childhood mind, I confused not disliking them with not disliking the smell of their food.   Later, and now numb to the smell of boiled chicken in waterlogged rice, and I encountered highschool cafeteria food.  Kids would buy a plate of cardboard ("fries") and old puke ("cheese pizza") and sit next to me to eat.  After a year or two of this routine I snapped.  Specifically, I snapped when I watched somebody eat a blueberry muffin from the cafeteria that I could've sworn I'd seen there for weeks without anybody buying it.  I launched into a brief self-rightious diatribe: "How can you eat that?  That muffin has been there for fucking weeks!  Weeks man!  I mean that muffin is a fucking landmark in the caf, you don't eat a landmark!  Good god it's... it's... disgusting!"  Then it hit me: I could function like any ordinary person in society - judging and being judged - without ever having to hate anyone or anything in it.  I could walk down a street and see a frankly ridiculous looking girl but judge only that; her genuine ridiculousnessissity (hell yeah I'm smooth - even Scribbld doesn't auto-detect that as an error).  I don't need to find it unreasonable as well as repulsive because, indeed, most repulsive things are reasonable at some level.  So if ever again I see a kid letting one go on a sleeping park-goer I can thnk to myself

"that boy is obviously just a victim of poor parenting or an environment non-conducive to healthy child development yet is, at the same time, a total douchebag."

September 3rd, 2009

No Joke

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Because I really didn't do anything today, and by that I mean anything at all productive, I've resolved to tell some jokes:

Q: What happens when you don't pay your exorcist?

A: You get re-possessed.

Q: Why is bioethics the easiest kind of philosophy?

A: Because it's applied ethics.

Q: What's the sound of one hand clapping?

A: Shwa shwa shwaaaaa

Sorry.  It's late and the only thing I've eaten for two days is bagels and water.  No joke.

September 2nd, 2009

The sense of Scope

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Today my brother finished the Scope in the second floor bathroom but left the empty bottle there rather than either taking it out to the recycling bin or, even, tossing it into the adjacent trashbasket.  It's not that he's not in the habit of cleaning up after himself, it's just that in some circumstances he "sees no rush" to get it done.  I'm not saying he's a degenerate person because he's not.  He’s easily the smartest and most diligent guy I know... most of the time.

It used to be, back when I was a small and silent, that I had an undiagnosed case of a not-so-severe obsessive compulsive disorder.  Today, the disorder has been self-diagnosed but not in that banal coffee shop type way where people say "Oh I just have to write good jokes down or it just bothers me" or “I just get fussed over things I’m so OCD (it’s not an adjective!).”  Back in those days I had some peculiar habits.  For example, I couldn't see an unintentionally open or partly open drawer or door and not close it.  I mean to say that if I watched my mother cook I'd walk behind her discretely closing drawers that she had only partly shoved to closed perfection.  When writing, (this one still gets me when in the mornings) I always lined up my writing utensils along the lateral line of my desk.  Or when I finished a popsicle the wooden stick had to be placed at the corner of a table, exactly my thumbnails width from both the tables edges.  Getting the stick to be precisely that far from the tables' edge is tricky but not so tricky as to warrant the level of "what the fuck is he doing?" looks that I've gotten over the course of my thumbnail-width measuring career.  See, when somebody's a kid they can get away with all kinds of weird things as long as adults don't realize precisely what's going on.  Yet, when watching at a small child looking extremely distressed at the precise placement of a popsicle stick upon a desk it's hard not to jump to conclusions and think to oneself "thank god that’s not my kid." 

Although these may just be extreme (or not?) cases of personal idiosyncrasies they're exactly the sort of thing one must get used to when cohabitating - particularly with a relative.  However, even with this sense of empathy in mind I'm not precluded from occasionally saying "what the fuck is he doing?" whenever I see an empty bottle of Scope.

The Hammer of Thor

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 There's always that temptation to come down on people like the Hammer of Thor.  Last night Michael Bryant, Ontario's former attorney general, had an altercation with a bicyclist and ended up killing him with his car.  Conflicting reports aside one fact seems to stand out: Bryant could've just driven away or run into a nearby store when the altercation turned nasty.  He didn't.  Instead, he chose to drive along Bloor St. and crush Darcey Allan Sheppard between his car and a mailbox until he was satisfied the man no longer posed a threat.

Although this is an extreme case it's obvious Bryant got frightened, panicked, and eventually angry at the person causing him distress.  Not to absolve the man or anything like that but to recognize that we've all been in his case.  We've seen somebody make a mistake after we just showed them how to do it or got asked a question by somebody in the middle of an important phone call.  We wanted to snap, to clench our fists and scrunch our face and, perhaps, vent.  Sometimes we do and often we regret it but, in every case, we know afterward that if we had another chance we'd do it differently.

Shouting at a lover because of frustration and high-strung emotions, callous thoughts of self-promotion and the hot feeling of road rage are all examples of temptation overcoming sense, of pleasure overcoming virtue.  It's a tricky path we walk and although I don't mean to sermonize I think we can all learn from Michael Bryant.  We can all make these mistakes and only deal with the consequences of hurt feelings or guilt but, as in the case of Michael Bryant, at least we didn't kill anybody.

September 1st, 2009

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Today I served, in my limited capacity, as tech support for a teacher-friend looking to buy a laptop.  After visiting the largest stores in the largest suburban city-mall we could find we only found one laptop which fit the monthly bill perfectly.

We found the computer in Best Buy.  Flanked by its lesser cousins at higher prices the computer seemed a 'beaut: slim, light, cool, fast, and with an unobtrusive screen.  The Best Buy service guy (who doesn't work on commission - so we knew he wasn't jerking us around) couldn't find any of the beautiful Sony computers in the back room so checked in with the Best Buy website.  It turned out that we had picked a phantom computer; a computer that doesn't exist at any Best Buy store in Canada!  Shocked and grieving, my friend and I went to Future Shop but found the computer wasn't there either, only a worse selection of laptops and larger selection of free wafer-cakes.

Disillusioned with the free market's ability to meet supply with demand we dropped in at Soby's and found bacon flavoured Pringles.  My friend insisted she repay me for my "work" and stated she should buy a tin of bacon flavoured Pringles.  When I replied that "I'm alright, bacon Pringles don't look very appealing - but thanks for the offer" my friend gave me a stern "silly boy the Pringles aren't for you they're for me to test on you!"

After that surprisingly edible escapade we made our way to the Sony Store where a pleasant rep showed us the latest and greatest Sony had to offer.  The first computer he showed us was, in almost every respect, worse than our beautiful phantom laptop.  We told him so and showed him the model number of the Phantom Sony machine from Best Buy to which he replied "oh, yes, that model was discontinued.  It was replaced by this one right here" at which point he indicated the less-than-awe-inspiring first computer.  I was appalled, "it's a worse computer for a hundred more" I said tremulously, trying to contain my complete loss of faith in empiricist philosophy.  "Well," he said, "it does have a slightly better processor and it comes in three different colours."  I was quite sure, just then, that my jaw dropped low enough that those pale, eyeless creatures that scuttle across the ocean floor were in danger of walking down my throat.  My friend asked the service rep why the computer was discontinued and he explained that he didn't know.  We decided to leave and come back again after we'd done more research into the Avro Arrow of computers and shellfish allergies.

On the way home a bird hit our windshield and bounced off, leaving a Rorschach-style imprint in the dust near the top of the winder.  "That bird should know better!  It's an urban bird!" said my friend.  Then, after a two-block pause, "I blame its parents."

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