I’d like to blog once a week. Really, I would. But my life just isn’t that interesting.

Prepare your tired eyes for an extraordinarily (and likely unnecessarily long) blog. I’ll divide it up into sections since I love you all so much.

My Life of Late:

I’ll be finishing my novel this summer. Yeah, I’ve decided to set aside a solid week where I’ll do nothing but eat, sleep and breathe my novel (into life, that’s the goal anyway). If it takes more than a week, then it takes more than a week but I’m going to try my hardest to get it done in that week.

Things with Haley are going much much much better since I started talking to people about the problems I’d been having. Mr. Smith’s advice has been particularly useful (everyone’s offered their own advice, of course, but I’ve mainly agreed with Mr. Smith’s, Dave’s and my coworker Brent’s… more on that later). I was assertive (which is atypical for me) in getting a structure to the relationship… Haley and I hang out after school as much as we can (unless either of us makes other plans… the way it works is unless we make other plans or have other obligations, we hang out… no need to ask) and we try our hardest to see each other at least once on the weekend too.

My coworker Brent has also proved to be a good advisor. He’s either 21 or 24 (I can never be sure, mingling with older people as much as I do) and he’s into the party scene… He’s not an alcoholic (most people you can just tell, or else you have your doubts about because they show symptoms… he shows none, even though he comes to work hung-over sometimes… he just loves him his good times). He agrees with my sentiment that drinking young is a rather dumb thing to do, as the only reason to ever drink socially is for fun and it’s not much fun when you’re young (because of all the hoops you have to jump through, all the obligations of high school, etc). He’s also given me some insight into the female mind that only a quasi womanizer like he could provide… every other adult I’d talked to either married very young or had nearly given up on the opposite gender in general… none really had the experience of “dating” outside of high school.

Starting Friday, I will be getting out of the limbo I call “home” and I’ll be staying with Nate for a little over a week. His wife is outta town for the week so we’ll be playing many video games and having many good times. His house is also conveniently located in close proximity to Haley’s, which is nice, as being in Sudden Valley can be a bit of a pain for hanging out. The only bad parts of this arrangement is that I’ll eventually have to go home and that I’ll still have to go to school while I’m there. (Note that in my previous blog I thought I’d be hanging out with him during the wrong week… it was actually going to be a week later. Thus, I’ve been at my house this week, which has been somewhat lame.)

My Thoughts of Late:

Videogames

I owe a lot to videogames. Seriously. Without video games I would’ve never found www.gamefaqs.com, where I got my start at both writing and making good friends. I started writing walkthroughs, and then later, on the message boards, I began “role playing” with a character that would later morph into the character my novel focuses on. It is also on these boards where I ran a lot of “tests” with my characters, ideas, plots, etc to see how people would take them, and they were always well received. I met one of my best friends, Kai, on these boards… and it’s all because of a mutual interest in videogames.

Any interests I have outside of writing and videogames likely stemmed from videogames. For example, I’ve become very interested in a lot of higher level sciences and technologies, such as nanotechnology. The only reason I cared to find out about nanotechnology was because I’d heard it mentioned in Metal Gear Solid (via nanomachines that kept Snake healthy and warm). Lately I’ve been learning about the Enneagram, which is a personality chart that I first heard of through Xenosaga.

Xenosaga and/or Xenogears have actually made me interested in a lot of crap. In particular, my interest in the Id (and Freud) stems from a character in Xenogears named Id, who was a complete badass (and the main character Fei is a psychological nightmare). Xenogears and Xenosaga both make a lot of references to things I just haven’t had time to check up on but desperately want to, such as old folklore, religious niches, etc… In particular I want to acquaint myself with the (real life) Zohar and the Marienkind.

Without the LAN party, I think I’d only have one friend (Kai) and I’d also be stuck playing only console games. The LAN party has introduced me to a lot of people, and not just people my age, but adults too. I talk to them about things I’d never dare talking about with people my age simply because no one my age cares about these topics (quantum mechanics, philosophy, politics, etc). It has been a confidence booster to be able to talk to adults and have meaningful discourse and not be treated like an inferior. (I don’t consider myself equal, hardly, but at the very least it’s nice not to be talked DOWN to.)

Random and Personal

Nearly every day I have an internal struggle with my stance on partying. I think it is really dumb to do it at a young age and can’t justify it at all during the school year. During college I’m not sure what I think. During the summer I’m not sure what I think. I don’t think that that scene is for me and I can’t do much to the people around me to convince them that partying is a bad thing except speak out against it and try to provide logical reasons as to why it’s a bad thing. I don’t think many people hear me, however, which is really unfortunate.

What is it about people and having to learn things the hard way? I’m the same way myself, with a lot of things… and people are this way about dangerous things like partying and drugs. I learned not to do drugs/party the easy way… by watching people close to me destroy their lives doing these things. However, even when I share my experiences with others, it doesn’t matter to them. They won’t “get it” until they hurt themselves (even then they likely won’t get it, as most alcoholics don’t think they have a problem) or until someone close to them destroys their life, too. It’s really rather tragic.

And people aren’t just this way about drugs and partying, they’re this way about everything. Why is that? Why can’t humanity learn from the mistakes of others? Man seems only to learn from intense pain. For example, what my brother did caused me intense pain so I decided that I would never do the things he did… but what my brother did did NOT cause intense pain for anyone else, so other people may be sympathetic but they don’t learn the same lesson I did. No one seems to be able to learn by second hand experience… it all has to be first hand or none at all. I think it’s a trait that has permeated human history (you always hear the phrase “History repeats,” or that “mankind can’t learn from its mistakes,” this seems somehow connected).

Wanna chat with me? Write a comment and leave me a way to contact you. I’ll talk to you if I can find the time!

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I touch myself and everyone else. (Disjointed rambling)

Titles not withstanding, my life consists only of worrying and playing video games at this point. It’ll be nice when summer rolls in because then the worry’ll be gone. Hopefully I won’t be playing video games, either, it’d be nice to get inspired and finish up my novel. Or be with friends. Or be with Haley. Or all three.

Methinks too many people (myself included) get caught up in the details and miss the big picture. Even those who talk about getting caught up in the details and missing the big picture are probably missing the larger picture. It’s all relative. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn about yourself, the more you see the errors of your old ways, and the picture is revealed to you even further.

People often ask me or I often ask myself what the point to life is. Does it matter? Who cares what the point is? All you can expect to do is live your life happily and with no regrets. I’ve been living it thus far without regrets and lately I’ve been working on the happily part. Lots of people have been there to help me, which is nice. Don’t think I could’ve done it on my own.

New perspectives are the key to success. Having asked everyone I respected for advice about my relationship I was feeling a bit wary. They were all telling me the same thing… it was only after asking a co-worker (whom I respect for entirely different reasons) that I realized everyone I’d asked prior all had similar perspectives. Either they married someone really young and had no (lengthy) experience being single or they’d all but given up on the opposite sex. My co-worker had a fresh perspective on the whole situation and rather than give me specific advice he just talked of his experiences with women, and that gave me some insight on what I should do. At the very least, it reminded me that there’s a bigger picture out there, somewhere.

I’m still a bit perturbed about what happened to me on Monday. For those not in the know, I was called into the principal’s office and was told that a “community member” had called the school and said that if “JJ Durden had a gun he’d bring it to school and shoot people/himself.” That didn’t really bother me so much, because I try to live my life honestly and I don’t have anything to hide…what bothered me was who would make that up about me and why? Sure, I’m not 100% nice to everyone all the time, and I’m sure I’ve rubbed some people the wrong way… but what makes a person take something to that level? I’ve my suspicions as to who did it, but perhaps it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. But I do think my trust was abused…

What is it with women and the tendency to be two faced? Or rather, multi-faced? Guys to a certain extent have this problem (they can act different depending on who they’re with) but it’s not as if their whole personality shifts. I dunno, I’ve just found my experience with most women to be rather unpleasant… mothers included.

Where am I going with all this? I don’t really know. That’s why I called this blog “disjointed rambling.”

I love it when people make fun of my taste in music. I randomly choose which people I’ll ‘tell’ my musical tastes to and which people I’ll let listen to my music. Everyone I’ve let listen to my music has liked it; everyone who I tell has said it sounds so retarded that they’d never ever listen to it. Even people who fancy themselves musical buffs can find the stuff I listen to enjoyable (my debate partner is huge into classical music and I have things that he likes). I enjoy listening to my so called “shitty” music, because no one else really does and everyone else thinks it’s retarded. Dunno why that makes the music more enjoyable, but it does.

Looking forward to next week (15-21). I’ll be staying with Nate that week. It’s nice to get a break away from home and to be with friends… I won’t have to work, either, because the people who work on my days off said they could work on my regular days, too. So, it’ll be like a little mini vacation for me! I’ll get a chance to be with Haley a bit more than usual, too, which’ll be a nice change of pace.

By the way, I’m currently listening to this, and I suggest you try it out. Then again, you don’t have to if you don’t want to… but hey. Apparently acoustic guitars, pianos and drums are retarded or something. So are electric guitars. I dunno.

Interesting Observation:

Somebody mentioned that they hardly talked to anyone today, and that reminded me of a rather routine observation I can make about myself and the people around me.

Not that I’m necessarily complaining or whining, but it is possible and relatively easy for me to go through a whole day (or several days) without talking to anyone. Certainly, people will say “Hello, how are you,” and that kind of crap… but those types of greetings can be answered with simple gestures. Even remarks like “Hey John, I did well on this,” or “What’d you get on that?” can be answered without words.

No one dare asks “What’s wrong?”

These people all claim to be my friends and all claim to care. Whenever I think a relationship might be going well with someone, I try not talking to them for a few days. Not avoiding them or anything of that nature, but just not starting a conversation… what typically happens then is we don’t end up talking. Sometimes we never speak again. Makes you wonder how much that person must’ve liked you if they won’t speak to you unless you speak to them first, y’know?

I know who my friends are. I don’t need to pull that kind of crap with them because they don’t pretend to be my friends. But the people that say they’re my friends without really following through can get on my nerves. Ironically, they often ask why I don’t talk to them much.

Takes two to tango, pal.

Of Nanotechnology and Men

J. Durden
Mr. Michel
World History 6
May 1, 2005
Of Nanotechnology and Men
Nanotechnology is a relatively new field of science that has near limitless potential; potential that could reshape and redefine the human experience. According to many experts and news reports, nanotechnology has the potential to: devour all carbon dioxide in the air, thus ‘solving’ global warming (“Mixed Media”); the ability to create materials atom by atom (Smalley); be used as artificial viruses or other potent weapons by militaries around the world (“Military Uses”); perpetuate Moore’s Law, that is, continue to double the power of computing technology every year (“Nantero Nabs”); create self-replicating machines and electronics (Choi, “DNA”); prevent cellular aging and even reverse the affects of aging (Kurzweil, “Alcor”); control chemical reactions within the body (Choi, “Nanocatalysts”); engulf the world in a devastating war for control of the technology (Phoenix); help humanity attain ‘permanent health’ (Kurzweil, “Alcor”); and forge more effective machines for life processes than biology ever could (Kurzweil, “Debate”). The feasibility of nanotechnology is also incredibly sound. In particular, the feasibility of molecular manufacturing (that is, the ability to manufacture tiny machines and other materials at the scale of atoms) is proven by natural systems. Indeed, if molecular manufacturing were impossible, life too would be impossible (Kurzweil, “Debate”). While many of the things that nanotechnology will usher in would be beneficial, they are mutually exclusive to some of the other effects of the technology. For example, immortality is mutually exclusive to nanotechnology destroying our species by means of being used as a biological weapon. Careful steps must be taken in order to ensure that nanotechnology does not spell the end of the world for our species, that much is apparent (Phoenix). But in order to truly understand the impact of nanotechnology, one must first look specifically at its incredible capacity for good and for ill.
Nanotechnology has many practical applications that do not require much research or projection to appreciate fully. In particular, nanotechnology will give mankind the ability to clean the atmosphere of carbon dioxide (via use of nanobots, tiny machines comprised of a handful of atoms) and effectively prevent or reverse the effects of global warming (“Mixed Media”). Unfortunately, nanotechnology is also already in use for ill: many millitaries around the world are developing weapons using nanotechnology. Most weapon designs typically involve the use of nanobots in a way that a virus might be used in a chemical weapon (“Military Uses”), but nanobots are much easier to control than viruses (Kurzweil, “Debate”). Currently, computers are being improved through the benefits that nanotechnology can provide. Nantero, a company that produces computer memory, recently received $15 million in order to build computer parts utilizing nanotechnology (“Nantero Nabs”). Nanotechnology could be used to create desired enzymes or other molecules inside the body, a huge advancement over current medical practices (Choi, “Drug Discovery”). Nanomachines could be developed that sort through particles in food to find dangerous pathogens, thus greatly increasing food safety (“Breakthrough”). However, these technologies just scratch at the surface of what nanotechnology, and in particular, molecular manufacturing are really capable of.
Molecular manufacturing is a branch of nanotechnology that will allow mankind to manufacture nano-scale products as efficiently as we can currently manufacture macro-scale products. The benefits of this are extraordinary, and “even the initial products of an MNT [molecular nanotechnology] nanofactory would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars” (Phoenix). The capability to manufacture nanomachines at such a cheap price and quick pace will revolutionize many industries, and in particular the field of medicine will be drastically changed. In the future (a mere decade or two from now), nanobots may live inside a man’s body and constantly maintain him in a way exponentially more efficient than any biological structure could (Freitas Jr.). Experts, including Robert Freitas (as demonstrated in his article “Death is an Outrage”) and Ray Kurzweil (in his article “The Alcor Convention on Extreme Life Extension”) believe that ultimately, nanotechnology could spell immortality for the human race. (For more of an in-depth look at how nanotechnology will lead to immortality, please refer to the essay “Immortality: Within Our Grasp,” which features additional research and insight in other fields.) Clearly, the changes that nanotechnology will bring to mankind are earth shattering. Could a more fundamental change to the human experience exist than the ability to live forever? However, for every advantage that nanotechnology could bring, a disadvantage looms in the distance.
One particularly disconcerting disadvantage of nanotechnology is the misuse of it. In particular, mismanagement of the technology could lead to the impoverished of our world never seeing its benefits. Some nations refuse to properly fund the technology and to encourage its developments, thus preventing the poor from ever seeing the improvements that nanotechnology could bring. Keep in mind that the poor make up over “80 percent of the global population” (Choi, “Nanotech May Not Reach Poor”). Ironically, overzealous nations who are too protective of the technology and will not cooperate with other nations in developing nanotech may launch the world into global upheaval (Phoenix). Chris Phoenix is one author who has written much on the potential dangers of nanotechnology in his paper “Molecular Manufacturing: Start Planning.”
As previously discussed, molecular nanotechnology (or MNT) manufacturing will be an amazingly powerful technology. However, with the potential for great benefit comes the possibility of terrible devastation. “One obvious risk is an unstable arms race,” Phoenix begins. “Weapons could be more powerful and far ‘smarter’—imagine the combined capability of a million unmanned aerial vehicles with on-board pattern matching and navigation capability.” Phoenix describes a veritable laundry list of potential problems: a prestrike scenario that ends in one country dominating the world, a “less dangerous than all-out war with MNT-built weapons” terrorist scenario where nanotechnology is used to invade and harm everyone, regulation and control problems (postulating that “attempts to restrict proliferation may generate oppressive or even abusive regulation”), and a scenario investigating how poverty might be intensified if MNT technologies are not utilized correctly. Again, it is clear that MNT technologies will bring many sweeping, fundamental changes to humanity. The only question is whether or not these changes will be beneficial or harmful. The answer to this question lies within humanity’s hands, or so Phoenix implies.
The benefits and risks of molecular nanotechnologies (MNT) have been fully explored; now it should be examined how best to go about minimizing the dangers and capitalizing on the advantages of this “inevitable” technology. Chris Phoenix has offered up an argument on how to do this. The core of Phoenix’s argument is thus: “it may be that the safest course is a single, international development effort, leading to a technology that can be widely distributed and carefully administered….” Certainly, a global effort in such an amazing field would be a huge, fundamental change in foreign policy for every nation on the face of the planet. “A single technology with the programmability and speed of digital computers, the chemical flexibility of biotechnology, the military potential of nuclear technology or airplanes and the utility of very advanced rapid prototyping, will bring many changes,” Phoneix decrees.
The variety of potential problems, in economic, military, political, humanitarian and environmental spheres, indicates that no simple solution can work. A balance must be struck between national defense and arms control; between capitalist practice and social needs and between unrestricted private use and oppressive restriction. These issues will not be easy to solve (Phoenix).
Indeed, they are tough issues to solve, but this is due to the fact that solving them would require a fundamental revision of human behavior. Mankind has warred and fought since the dawn of time. To unite now would be an amazingly difficult departure from the norm. Phoenix is not the only author to hold the opinion that a global effort is necessary; Christine Peterson also wrote of it in her article “Societal Implications of Molecular Manufacturing.” In particular, the article states “The best way to reduce risks from molecular manufacturing would be an open, international R&D program with broad cooperation by the democracies, including a parallel arms control verification project.” One sentiment shared by many (and here vocalized by Peterson) is that policy makers need to begin planning for the advent of the technology now to minimize the risks involved.
Nanotechnology will bring about a fundamental change in the human experience, that much is certain. The only question is whether or not this change will be a beneficial one. On one hand, nanotechnology could lead to immortality for the human race and the eradication of natural death (Freitas Jr.). On the other, it could lead to global devastation and terrorism like none seen before (Phoenix). The direction that nanotechnology will lead won’t be decided in 20 years; that is when the technology will be in use and the direction already set in stone. Rather, whether or not nanotechnology will lead to good or ill is being decided now. For it to be beneficial, that requires a fundamental change in that nations across the world will need to come together and cooperated in an unprecedented manner (Peterson). For a negative change that will fundamentally reshape the world (by perhaps eradicating mankind or doing untold damage to mankind or the earth), the nations around the world need only continue to drag their feet and disagree (Phoenix). Which of these is the more likely scenario depends on the outlook of the reader, but the path that nanotechnology will take seems rather obvious to the author.