Your reputation is at the mercy of anyone with a mouth.
I am always appreciated in hindsight usually after getting shat upon, spat upon, and kicked to the curb.
Being alone without expenses beats being alone with expenses.
Anybody who tells you they sleep four hours or less each night is telling a fib.

Psycho Paranoid Schizophrenic

If you were insane, would you know it?

If everyone was insane and you were normal, would you be the crazy person?

If you think everyone else is crazy, could it be that you are the nutcase?

What is normal?

Is there anyone in the world that is not fucked up in one way or another?

How do psycho fuckheads like Idi Amin or Pol Pot get into power? Are they nuts? Or are the people nuts for following them?

What is the difference between cocaine and prozac?

Is normal merely what the majority thinks?

Why are believers in the virgin birth of Christ considered normal while people who distrust their government are considered nutcases?

Is it paranoia to not want to be used or hurt?

Why are shrinks so miserable?
The key to motivation is not willpower and commitment but selfish pleasure in rational activity.
An economic stimulus package is really a political stimulus package meant to placate a pissed off electorate.
There is no such thing as time management. There is only activity management.
Stupidity prevails when smart people remain silent and do nothing.

Ron Paul, the GOP, and the LP

I voted today in the SC GOP primary. I voted for Ron Paul. It will be the last time I vote as a Republican.

Ron Paul can't win and won't win. This has not dissuaded me from voting for him because I believe he is the best candidate the Republican Party has to offer. But the bottom line is that our government will not change until a substantial mass of the electorate changes.

The American people are idiots. We can blame the politicians and the system all we want, but the American people have gotten the government they deserve. Ultimately, the American people make the choice, and they are the ones who bear the responsibility for the bloated government we have. The American people consistently support and vote for two opposing things. They want a huge government that does everything for them, and they don't want to pay for it. But money has to come from somewhere, so the result is robbing Peter in order to pay Paul with everyone trying to be Paul and not be Peter. But we are all Peter.

This is a formula for madness, but I find that things don't change until they become a crisis. This is because reality always wins. Even fools can't remain fools forever.

The Ron Paul Revolution has been a glimmer of hope in this sea of stupidity, but I realize that this revolution is not a libertarian revolution. This struck me as a ran into one of my old customers at a Ron Paul event. I told her I was surprised to learn that she was a libertarian. She asked, "What's a libertarian?"

The Ron Paul Revolution is not a libertarian movement. There are libertarian ideas there, but it is a coalition of libertarians, paleoconservatives, people who hate taxes, and a whole bunch of crackpot conspiracy theorists. The result is a losing movement that blames the losses on conspiracy and voter fraud. When Ron Paul loses today in SC, those loonies will blame it on just such a conspiracy. This is dumb.

I am not disappointed with Ron Paul because he is losing. I am disappointed that this flurry of activity represents even less than what it appears. Libertarians are smart. These pseudolibertarians are nuts. I'm waiting for the UFO people to come out with their endorsement in order to find out what really happened at Roswell. It feels like a bad episode of The X Files.

I'm off this bandwagon now and rethinking my approach. I decided that the Libertarian Party was a waste of time and to try and make an impact in the GOP. Fuck that. What I find so surprising is that a guy like Lew Rockwell who seems to endorse anarcho-capitalism is so enamored with Ron Paul. It seems the hardcore libertarians are the most willing to sell out while the so-called weak libertarians are the ones being principled and giving tepid support to Ron Paul. Meanwhile, Ron Paul presents a very compromised view on things like immigration and Social Security.

The GOP is a joke and so are the Democrats. They are indistinguishable in their style of governance and differ only in which constituency they will cater to in order to build a base. But we are still in Iraq even with a Democrat congress. No change there. I lay this at the feet of the voters who overwhelmingly want us out of Iraq but only with a victory. Pure stupidity there.

The only true and lasting change is the hard one. It is the difficult one. It involves educating those fools who are responsible for this mess, and I mean the American people. This cannot and will not happen in either of the two major parties. I am glad Ron Paul is running and highlighting some of these issues. But when an average member of his revolution does not know anything about what Dr. Paul is talking about, this is not good. All Ron Paul has succeeded in doing is stealing a few sheep from the larger flock.

I have decided to stick with the Libertarian Party. Perhaps Ron Paul will run on the libertarian ticket as he did in 1988. But he has said he has no intention of doing that, and I take him at his word.

The LP really is the party of principle. It is the third largest party in US politics. It is a true barometer of where the American public is in its thinking. I like their goal of sticking to principle and waiting for people to come to it. It feels better to me than being a Ron Paulian in a major party that does not give a shit about what I think.

In short, I'd rather lose on principle than win on expediency. I support Paul's campaign and hope he enjoys some success. I believe the GOP is better off with him than without him. But I think the best path for me to take at this point is to support the LP in every way I can.
This a test message from my cell.

2007-The Year in Review

I don't really know what to say about 2007. It was a wild year for me. I started dating a woman I ended up liking a whole lot. Then, I got fired. Then, I got rehired at the same place. Then, I got dumped which was devastating to me. Then, I met a new woman who I am very pleased with. She encouraged me to reconcile with my father, and I did.

I'd like to say more about 2007, but I can't. It was a typical year for me marked by both highs and lows. I can say that I feel that I have not achieved anything or really learned anything new. I am still happy, but I am learning how to reconcile that happiness while being in a committed relationship.

I have said that I do not believe in love, and that is still true to a certain extent. But I know that there is more than one kind of love. The love I seek is what psychologists call "companionate love." Don't get me wrong. I think my current girlfriend is a major hottie. But she adds an extra dimension that I have never had before in a relationship. She is my friend. She is honest with me and with herself. She is mature. And she has the same cautious feelings as I do. She is very good to me and very good for me.

I don't know where things will go in 2008, but I am anticipating a real breakout year this year. I feel very energized and positive going forward. Naturally, this is the thrill of many good intentions, but I think I might put some feet on them for once. Things are very good for me right now. I am enjoying life.

PRINT-God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens is the atheist book I wanted to read. Part of the Four Horsemen of atheism along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett, Hitchens launches a withering attack on religion. Critics of the other three cite their "strident" tone. Those critics owe them an apology because Hitchens lowers the gunsight on those religious fuckheads and empties both barrels.

Dawkins was a calm and rational critic of religion and simply laid out the facts. Yet, this upset people. What they fail to understand is how charitable Dawkins really is. But as I already know, the nicer you are to people the more they will shit on you. Politeness is taken for weakness, so they pull that will to power trick known as guilt. Wisely, Hitchens flips those fucktards the bird and blows them apart.

Invective is necessary in this conversation, and Hitchens provides it. The man goes on to demolish all of the world's major religions. The Catholic Church takes a big hit which it should. They are an institution of child molestors, child rapists, and enablers for that sort of activity. Nothing needs to be said about Islam except that it is a derivative religion of fanatical fuckheads who have shit for brains.

The subtitle of the book is How Religion Poisons Everything, and it is an accurate description. Religion is responsible for more of humanity's ills than its progress. Whatever was good about religion was a recent development and a product of the influence of the Enlightenment. By itself, religion is insane, ignorant, oppressive, and violent. The world would be better off without it.

Hawkins spends page after page citing example after example of the lunacy of religion. His is not a cool reasoned argument like Dawkins but a long volume of spleen venting albeit with a great deal of intelligence behind it.

Religion is poison. That is the message. If you believe in God, you are at best a fool. At worst, you are a sadistic fool. Too often, religious people are sadistic fools.

I agree that religion is a destructive element in our society. I would disagree that it needs to be forced out of existence. Supressing one tyranny by embracing another, viz. the French and Russian Revolutions, is not something I care for. My antipathy for religion is tempered by my libertarian beliefs in autonomy and freedom. But I will use my freedom to make the case that there is no god, and the world needs to throw off such superstitions.

On a sidenote, religious moderates as can be found in the Unitarian church and among mainline denominations make the case that they are not like the rest such as their evangelical and fundamentalist brethren. I can agree and say they are not. A garter snake is not the same as a rattlesnake. But they are still snakes.

Religious moderates do not believe that the Bible is the literal Word of God or that there really was a guy like Noah in a boat full of animals. They embrace things like evolution but put a theistic spin on it. Ultimately, they believe in a God without doctrine or presence in the material world. As such, they are functionally atheist except they do not allow scientific scrutiny of the spiritual aspect of their lives. Their god is reduced to a god of personal experience. Their morality is reduced to sentiment. And they adopt a left wing understanding of society and economics. In short, they embrace altruism, collectivism, and spirituality, but these lead to their own errors. Religion may shed its fangs for a bit, but it always grows them back. Or as I put it, you can't embrace science while rejecting the scientific method. This is what religious moderates do.

I generally like Christopher Hitchens because he is my type of scum. But I do reject his embracing of neoconservative ideas or his support for the War in Iraq. Hitchens even hints that a military strike on Iran may be necessary because we should never allow religious fuckheads to have nuclear weapons. I have to disagree. Granted, Iran is run by idiots but so is the USA. Being secular is not enough to be wise. That is a point that I think many atheists are missing these days.

The weakest part of the Hitchens book is also the weakest part of the Dawkins book or anyone else. It has to do with what I call the Stalin Argument. Josef Stalin killed more people than Hitler. Stalin was an atheist. Hitchens makes the weak argument that Stalinism was like a religion, and I agree. It was. But atheism is not automatic enlightenment. Though religion always makes people worse, atheism doesn't necessarily make people better.

The common element among both religious fuckheads and atheist tyrants is a belief that the end justifies the means. The end of the collective trumps the rights of the individual. This is why I stress that I am not just an atheist. I am a secular individualist. I believe in individual rights including the rights of religious shitheads.

Overall, I recommend reading God is Not Great. Hitchens has written a needed volume.

Ron Paul--Loser

Ron Paul lost in New Hampshire. He scored in the single digits. New Hampshire was his best shot. That was the one I was counting on. It didn't happen.

I know that libertarianism is dead in America. It doesn't make it any less true, but there is no denying the fact that most people are stupid. They say they hate the War in Iraq, high taxes, loss of freedom, and wasteful government spending. But they keep voting for the same things. It is what it is.

I still plan to vote for Ron Paul in the SC primary. I know it is a losing cause, but I can only do my part.

PRINT-Aristotle for Everybody by Mortimer J. Adler

Mortimer J. Adler's Aristotle for Everybody is a great introduction to the work of who I consider to be the greatest philosopher who ever lived--Aristotle. You will breeze through the book because it is easy to read, but your mind will linger on it for a long time as you consider the ideas in it.

Basically, Aristotle was a common sense philosopher. Unlike Plato, Aristotle believed in observation. Instead of philosophizing, Aristotle looked at how the world operated. The necessity of philosophy is to come up with structures and terms and whatnot in order to understand that world. This is the beauty of Aristotle. He essentially started what would come to be modern science and many of our academic disciplines today. Aristotle was fundamentally a scientist while his teacher, Plato, was a bit of a religious fuckhead. But these are my opinions and not Mr. Adler's. Adler simply unpacks and explains what Aristotle had going on.

Aristotle is life. His thinking results in living, knowledge, and things like the Renaissance. It is world embracing as opposed to world denying like Platonism. Aristotle was a fucking genius. Aristotle is the light. Plato was the darkness.

If you want to get into Aristotle, this book is the place to start.

Articles of Faith

As an atheist, I get slammed a bit for my lack of faith and get constant reminders that there are lots of things we take on faith. I will no longer take the existence of God as a matter of faith, but for practical reasons, there are some things I believe in that lack any sufficient proof. I believe in these things not because they are necessarily true but because they work for me. They are the things that get me out of bed each day and keep me persevering in the joke we call life.

1. There is a solution to every problem.

I know there are kids that die everyday of incurable diseases. There are quadriplegics who will never walk again. I have a father who has MS and will probably die from the disease. But I believe that there are cures for these things. They just haven't been found yet.

I believe that all problems can be solved. This may be a naive belief considering all the misery that exists in the world, but I look at the advances humanity has made. I don't think they will ever end. I think our species will outlive even a dying universe.

I believe this incredible article of faith because I choose to live. If you feel life is hopeless, I recommend you go eat a bullet and be done with it. We live in the hope that we can overcome all obstacles, so I choose to believe that no matter what problems may be in front of me, they can be solved.

2. Hard work matters.

The reality of life is that luck plays a large role in where you end up and what you achieve. I don't think Bill Gates works harder than any other person on the planet, but he does put in the hours. Billy Boy got lucky along the way, but the problem with luck is that it is out of your hands.

I don't know of any way to be lucky except to put in a lot of work. I believe in the work ethic because there really isn't any other honest strategy to live by. Hard work is the only way I know to move the odds into your favor. Granted, there are people who worked hard all their lives with nothing to show for it. But overall, I think success favors the industrious over the lazy. If you want to achieve more, you have to do more. It's really as simple as that.

3. The greatest risk is not taking one.

This is almost a corollary to number 2. Resting on your laurels or playing it safe is not safe at all. That is because you cannot escape risk. If shipwrecked on a desert island, I would spend my time building a boat or a raft to get off that sucker. I could wait for rescue, but it probably won't come. As such, I'd rather die taking a chance than die sitting in one place. I don't know if it will pay off for me, but I'm going to roll the dice anyway.

4. It is better to speak up than remain silent.

I don't know if this is necessarily true. Most people will counsel you to keep your head down and keep your mouth shut. There is a price to pay for candor, but I think it is less than the price of silence. The biggest reason I keep this blog is to use as my megaphone to the world. Most of the time, I am ignored. All I can say is that I can't recall ever paying for my candor as much as I have for keeping my mouth shut. My silence has cost me more than my outspokenness.

5. People can change.

I can't change people, and it isn't my job. But I know people can change. I don't think people are the same at 27 as they are at 37. I know I'm not. I'm a very different person today. I've seen alcoholics and addicts turn themselves around. I've also seen sane people lose their minds. But the reason I believe people can change is because it enables me to forgive.

I do not believe in the Holy Spirit. (This statement alone condemns me to eternal damnation.) But I do believe that many born again Christians have turned their lives around. I don't give credit to God because I don't believe in him, but I do give credit to those people. Look at somebody like Dog the Bounty Hunter or the many people in Alcoholics Anonymous, and you will see people who used to be one way and are now another. I know a guy who used to tip the scales at 300 and is now 135 as a consequence of distance running. Now, that is a change!

6. It is never too late.

I know I'm not going to live forever, but I believe the best is yet to come. Too often, people see aging as a death sentence. They look at 40 as already having one foot in the grave. But I am with Aristotle in that I believe that you can't judge a person's life until it has ended. The world is full of late bloomers, and people who do more at 75 than most people ever dreamed at 25. I refuse to act my age. As long as you are alive, you can still live. Or as people like to say, it is better to burn out than rust out.

I don't ever intend to retire. I am going to hang in there until the bitter end. You can keep your Geritol.

These are my articles of faith, and I might be a bit foolish to believe in them. But I believe in them in order to live. When my life is done, I will be able to say then if these articles of faith are indeed true or merely platitudinous horseshit.

The 20 Strictly Running Commandments

My girlfriend belongs to a running club here in Columbia, and they are a swell bunch of people. The club has some "commandments" that my girlfriend shared with me yesterday, and I thought they were cool enough to publish here on my blog.

The 20 Strictly Running Commandments

1. Don't be a whiner. Nobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.
2. Don't make running your life. Make it part of your life.
3. When doing group runs, start on time no matter who is missing.
4. Don't compare yourself to other runners.
5. When standing in starting lines, remind yourself how fortunate you are to be there.
6. The faster you are the less you should talk about your times.
7. Don't always run alone.
8. Don't always run with people.
9. The best runs sometimes come on the days you didn't feel like running.
10. Be modest after a race, especially if you have reason to brag.
11. All runners are equal; some are just faster than others.
12. There are no short cuts to run excellence.
13. There is nothing boring about running. There are, however, boring people who run.
14. Look at hills as opportunities to pass people.
15. Don't try to outrun dogs.
16. Without goals, training has no purpose.
17. Go for broke, but prepare to be broken.
18. Unless you make your living as a runner, don't take running too seriously.
19. Runners who never fail are runners who never tried anything great.
20. Running is simple. Don't make it complicated.

A Resolution for the New Year

I hear people make resolutions each year, and we all know they won't be kept. So, this year I've decided to make a resolution I can keep.

In 2008, I have resolved to have more fun. That's it. It may seem like a strange resolution, so I'll try and explain it a bit.

Everyone has goals and plans. These are good things, but as they say, life is what happens while you are making other plans. The problem with all those goals and plans is that they exist in the future. I can tell you that the future doesn't exist. Living your life there is a waste of time.

I like living in the present. That is what fun is all about. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that. The present is all that really exists. This doesn't mean you shouldn't plan for the future or have some direction in your life. But the enjoyment of life comes not from the destination but from the journey.

I learned this back in college. When you start your higher education, you look at four years of work that you have to get done, and it is depressing. I know it depressed me. So, I said fuck it and just focused on going to class and learning shit. I had a blast. I was having so much fun I took summer courses. Then, one day, my advisor informed me that I had enough credits to graduate. Did I want to graduate this semester?

I was a bit stunned because I had forgotten about graduating. I had become so engrossed in learning that I had forgotten about the piece of paper that came attached to it. I turned in the paperwork, completed my last semester, and walked across the stage at the Carolina Coliseum. College was done.

I became a lifelong learner after that, and I have continued to learn and study until the present day. I learned from a professor that a college education is free. All you need is a library card. And he said this in the days before the internet where you can now read numerous sources or download entire college lectures for free.

It is one thing to be dedicated to goals and accomplishments and be "driven." But this sheer will is not enough to carry you. This is why resolutions fail. Willpower is weak. You only need enough of it to get started. Beyond that, fun is the only thing that will sustain you.

I witnessed this with my girlfriend trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. As her qualifier neared, she was very miserable, and I thought she would blow a gasket when she failed to qualify. Instead, she seemed elated. She seemed very happy, and I took a picture of her that day. I have never seen such joy on her face before.

I know the reason she was happy. The taskmaster was gone. She was free to have fun again. But with a return to training and the same goal as before, I watched her enthusiasm wane again. I don't know how it will end for her.

I am a big believer in having a purpose in life. I believe everything we do has a purpose and an end culminating in the ultimate end which is happiness. Happiness is the byproduct of a life of rational activity. It comes as we pursue our goals. For most people, college is about getting a piece of paper. For me, it was about learning. The paper took care of itself. Similarly, training is about getting in shape and improving fitness. I think if my girlfriend focuses on that, the Boston Marathon will take care of itself.

All of this is simply a change of mind. It is not about changing your activities but changing your thinking about those activities. I would never counsel people to go rudderless through life. But I can tell you that I was disappointed the day I graduated from college because the ride was over. I had enjoyed every bit of my "accomplishment."

I can tell you these things about driven people. They get things done, and they are miserable. If that is all life is, it is rather pointless. You suffer for years for a little momentary thrill? Fuck that. Crack addiction would be better. The high lasts longer and is easier to get.

I think the better way is to set your compass and lose yourself in the activity of it all. Don't lose sight of the goal, but don't burn yourself out either. As they say, life is a series of problems to be solved. Take one day at a time and have fun solving those problems. The ultimate goal in life is to be happy. If you fail in that, you have failed in everything no matter what you end up achieving.

Here's to more fun in 2008! (The rest of you will simply call it work.)