Friday, November 27, 2009

Autistic License

I've had more than one person determined that I'm autistic. People that are autistic are socially awkward and unable to relate to others or have empathy. Autistic people often seek repetitive tactile sensations and become insatiably curious about a narrow focus of topics. A third common symptom is extreme sensitivity to sensory input--loud sounds, pungent smells, bright lights, etc.

I used to have a really twisted idea of how people thought. For instance, I used to think that if people offered you food, that they didn't really want you to take their food. Why would you *want* someone to take things from you? I mean, I was a kid at the time and I used to think a lot of weird things. But even into my teen years, I was so incredibly out of touch with what people thought, that I became obsessed with trying to figure it out. I used to go to the public library to read psychology books. Unfortunately, I studied B. F. Skinner too much not knowing at the time how wildly disproved he was. The Brits figured psychology out while us dumb Americans had our hands tied with backwards Lamarkian thinking from otherwise smart people like Franz Boas. More anti-Darwin, religious, rejectionist thinking that wrapped up American psychology into punishment and reward learning rather than through environmental coping. To put simply, how do you learn how to speak a language using only reward and punishment? That was thing big point Noam Chomsky used to break down the entire American psychology paradigm in the early 1900s. But that started my curiosity in people.

By the time I was out of high school, I used music to communicate and express myself. I avoided talking to people if I could. I still do that, and I don't really understand why I do. But it was worse in my 20s. I had a learning disability that made it difficult for me to decipher human speech. But I eventually over came that around my early 20s and now I do fine. Am I still afraid people will talk to me and I won't understand them? I don't think that's it. For some reason, it just really bothers me thinking that people will talk to me. I'm ok talking to people if there's a function to it. But "How are you? Good to see you," conversations, I really try and avoid even to the point of hiding from people in hallways that I think might spark up such a conversation. I like chatting on the internet though, since I don't have to use my ears.

I've heard that some think Albert Einstein couldn't have been autistic because he was noted as having a great sense of humor. But was that natural or learned? I'm pretty good at making people laugh. In fact, I actually love giving class presentations or teaching in general. When I taught computers at Twin Oaks elementary school to 4-6th graders, one of the other teachers told me she could always tell when I was teaching because the kids laughed a lot. I used to go out to dance clubs a lot with friends, and I would do really silly dances not at all afraid to embarrass myself for a laugh from my friends. But I'd avoid talking whenever I could. It was so relaxing for me, not to have to concentrate hard enough to be able to understand people. People around me used to act like I was deaf and ask my friends about me as if I couldn't hear them. That's pretty weird to think about that. For my foreign language requirements in college, of course I took American Sign Language and enjoyed it.

Whatever social skills I have, isn't natural for me, but are a result of a lot of study and effort. I think about this sometimes as I watch The Big Bang Theory. It's the funniest sit com I've ever seen. The command Jim Parsons has over his facial expressions, timing, and control is amazing. His character, Sheldon, really doesn't seem strange to me. I identify with that character a lot.

As for repetitive motions, I'm not going to admit to what it is exactly I do, other than I've poured over tons of abnormal psychology journals and texts, and never found any other example of it. It's probably just a strange OCD thing I have. No one has ever caught me doing it, so it's obviously pretty slight. It makes no sense to me, but does make me feel better to keep doing it. It's not really a routine exactly, more of a reaction. I do have routines, but probably nothing more unusual than what most people have. Everyone has something weird that they do. The only really common one I have is hand washing, though it's not obsessive. When I used to be a brick layer, I used to keep a bucket of water by me so I could wash mortar off my hands about every 20 seconds, but that's an extreme example. Otherwise, I only wash my hands if there's dirt on them or I'm about to eat--probably only 10 times a day on average.

Sensitivity to sensations is a big thing for me. Even if I have my windows rolled up in my car, I just about always have to cover my ears if an emergency vehicle passes baring a siren. If someone close to me yells unexpectedly, it can hurt my ears. Certain frequencies of power tools bother me. When I worked construction, I refused to use a skillsaw. I'd either cut steel rebar with a hacksaw or ask someone else to do it. And if someone else used a skillsaw to do it, I'd cover my ears and move away. I still really hate that sound. When I go to the dentist, I had to ask the dentist to stop using a certain drill attachment because the sound frequency of it drove me crazy.

It's not just sounds. Bright lights bother me. I hate going outside during the day. If I wasn't part native american, I'd probably be really pale. Sunlight rarely touches my skin, and if it does, it doesn't for long.

Some smells really bother me. I don't mean because they smell bad. But I'm really sensitive to some perfumes or scented candles. Flowery smells can make me feel like my air pipe is swelling up and I can't breathe.

Put these things together, and I do fit the category of a high functioning autistic. But there's a few reasons why I believe I'm not one. For one, autistics are very detail oriented and have trouble seeing the big picture. I'm the opposite there. I'm really good at figuring out how large groups of systems fit together for an over arching concept, but I can easily get lost in details. Also, I sometimes have difficulty focusing on things unless I'm really interested in them. Although not all autistics show signs at childhood. I certainly didn't. But when they do, they're generally difficult for parents to deal with. I heard a story of one parent that used to threaten to sing to her autistic child unless he started behaving. For the child, the sound of women singing was deeply upsetting, so it was a threat that worked. I didn't have any kind of symptom like that as a child. I was the exact opposite. According to my mom, she forgot about me a lot because I always played with blocks and cars without making a sound. In fact, even to this day, I can sit in complete silence for hours at a time. That's pretty creepy, actually. Solitary confinement probably wouldn't bother me at all. In fact, if I was ever falsely convicted of something horrible and went to jail, I'd keep breaking rules so I could go there instead of a cell with others.

But if I was autistic, it might explain why everyone in the world seems so weird to me. And why I so very, very rarely find people I can remotely relate to. When I was really young, my father taught me the principles of Buddhism. Concepts like honor, honesty, justice... they made a lot of sense to me. These are not buddhist concepts exactly, but they work nicely with it. They seemed like universal truths to me, and I had a deep sense of the world, thinking that everyone must feel the same because it was manifest. As I got older, and better able to understand others around me, I grew horrified when I'd see people lie or cheat. It still really bothers me. And my father who taught me these values? Turns out they're not any more important to him than most people. Growing up, he used to tell me to lie for him and I refused to. This might seem silly, but I dated this woman, and it really bothered me that she cheated on her taxes. I didn't say anything to her about it, but it really did.

I make mistakes. I believe in honesty, but sometimes I slip up and say things that aren't true. I sometimes do it when I feel insecure and exaggerate something about me to try and make people like me. It's futile. I mean, if I say something superficial in hopes of getting someone to like me for a superficial reason, then they don't really like me for me, and thus, it brings me no comfort.

Ok, enough stalling. I'm still on Chap 1 of my novel. Getting the setting right is hard. Once I have that, the rest should go fast.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Writing with mana

Writing's going slow. I love doing character background sketches, figuring out the world the story takes place in, the cultures and religions, etc. But when it comes to actually sitting down and wordsmithing it from the movie clips in my mind to print on a page, there's all these rules I have to wade through. Keep it in third person limited. Show, don't tell. Is this line clear enough? Does this scene happen too soon or does there need to be more set up? I'm really happy with my creative abilities. Just not happy with my writing ability. I don't just mean the tons of weird typos I make all the time(the ones spell check doesn't catch). I'm sure this blog is litered with them. But I mean, I never feel like my words really capture exactly what I mean, at least not without a lot of work.

I don't need a company. I need minions. Minions that will take my storyboard ideas and turn them into novels, animated movies, and computer games. See? I'm not unsuccessful. I'm just under staffed!

I found a new writers group. This is good because even the most famous writers in the world usually still have people critique their work before they publish it. My last group fell apart after ten years. Seemed like everyone kind of disappeared at the same time. The one other sword and sorcery fantasy writer seemed to have a nervous break down and snapped. I talked to her years, and she's fine now. Another got married. Another was asked to leave because he kept submitting work but never spent much time reviewing ours. Our leader, I think, kept getting pressure from her husband to get a real job and help out, so she stopped. And lastly, one member stopped coming after he told me he was undergoing gender reassignment.

Awesome group, just disintegrated over 2007. That last guy, I don't know if he wanted to quit or if he thought things would be too weird. To be honest, I don't understand transgendered people. To me, if you have a Y chromosome, you're a dude. The end. I can understand people feeling like they're more comfortable with ideas from one gender or another, but these ideas aren't all genetic. Clothing, hair styles, make up, diction, labor roles... these are all cultural distinctions. None of that is biological, nor is it universal. When women pull the "I don't have to be responsible, I'm a girl," crap on me, I don't put up with it. I take that as a person saying, "I'm not responsible. You can't count on me." I'd act accordingly no matter the gender of the person saying that.

As for biological... isn't that kind of arbitrary? I mean, if you have an innie or an outie(technical terms, heh) it's just a biological structure made to accomplish a goal. Does that really dictate who you are? I will say, the whole being able to stand while I pee thing is pretty useful--especially while camping / hiking.

But, despite me doubting this, I have to accept that trans people generally go through a lot of crap. They lose friends, family, sometimes their jobs, and face a lot of discrimination for the rest of their lives. If gender was arbitrary, no one would go through the hell of changing it, if it wasn't really that important. So, as strange as I think it is, I have to simply respect it, even if I don't understand it.

When that guy told me, I emailed him back a few questions... mostly out of respect. He was a really cool guy. I hung out with him at his place a few times. At one point, I sat on his bed in the dark watching a movie on his computer. I was in complete shock when he told me. Seriously, I never saw it coming. I thought, "Wow, he seemed so normal." I guess that sounds a little homophobic on my part. But I also think that it sucks I don't still hang out with him. He was a pretty cool guy. I think if I ever saw him dressed as a woman, I'd get over the shock of it and be fine.

Why would I be shocked if it's all arbitrary to me? Well, the voice of society imprinted on my brain is hard to ignore. The Hawaiians used to believe that we had more than one soul. The Hawaiian religion is actually pretty fascinating, and too bulky to cover in this entry. But one aspect of it, they believed in the lono and the ku. There were more parts of the soul than that, but just to focus on the parts of the mind... the lono is the part of your soul that is the thinker. This is not your common sense, exactly, but more the means to coming up with new ideas. The ku is your gut reaction. Society teaches us things. The ku has no filter and accepts all information as true. All gut, primal reactions from the ku are based on good and bad information. The lono can filter this information, but isn't the part best used for making decisions. I mean, if you rely on the lono all the time, you sit around philosophizing about everything without ever doing anything. If you rely on the ku all the time, you live on common sense and gut reactions even if it means living in ignorance. I mean, after all, common sense tells you that the world is flat. Education tells you it's round.

My point, is that society tells us what to like, love, hate, and fear. If you live by the ku, you become a product of it. If you live by the lono, you become an outcast of it. Somewhere there's a happy medium. Heh, ok, enough stalling. Back to my book. I'm still finishing the prologue. It's a lot of weird concepts at once. This is going to be hard trying to ease them in without being too jarring.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Is it for entertainment? Sometimes I check out the personals on Craigslist. I've written a few women and traded some emails back and forth. Though none of it's gone very far. I used to meet people off the internet on a regular basis, but it's been a long time since then. To be honest, most of the posts I see in the personals section horrify me deeply.

How many posts from barely literate, horny, meth addicted women can you go through before becoming a monk starts sounding like a good idea? Some of my favorite lines are "must have a sense of humor lol." What this means is "must laugh at the same stupid things I laugh at." I've never met anyone that didn't have a sense of humor. I don't think it's possible, really. I know most people reading that might think, "Well, you haven't met my ex's parents..." or something. But really, what you're saying is that the person never laughs at anything... ever. Does anyone really know someone that's never laughed?

It's the same egocentric thinking as when people talk about music and say, "Oh, I like all kinds," or worse, "If it's good, I probably like it." Good music. One woman told me she liked all kinds of music and I said, "So that means you like Death Metal, Break Beat, Street Punk, Baroque, Progressive Jazz, Dark Wave, and Carnatic?" Of course, she didn't know what most of what that meant. She then went on to tell me about 'all the different kinds of music' she liked by naming 7 different types of Techno. Wow. That's diversity right there :/ What she's really saying is "All people think like I do, so if I say 'all kinds of music' you know that I meant all kinds of techno." It really bothers me that I meet so many people incapable of understanding how this is faulty thinking.

Another favorite Craigslist line is women looking for "a REAL man." What the hell does that mean? As far as I know, that means they have a Y chromosome. Really, what the hell is a real man? Again, this means, "Someone who can read my mind through the internet and accept my definition of what makes a man." I guess this is the kind of statement that comes from a woman that's frustrated by the relationships she continues to find herself in and can't seem to understand how to get what she wants, or to even be able to understand in her own mind what that is. In one add, I saw a woman looking for a REAL man saying something like, "if you hit me, you better have flowers the next day." That really breaks my heart to hear a woman say stuff like that.

It makes me think about a bigger problem in American society(well, world society, but one culture at a time). Women are an oppressed majority in our culture. This might make me sound like a male feminist, but it's true. It's not just men that oppress women. Think about how many powerful women are in our society that we allow to be considered an expert on something that don't face backlash for it? Oprah, obviously a powerful, influential woman, but she's an exception for two reasons. One, although she's skilled at what she does, she's not generally seen that way. Most people think running a business or being a talk show host doesn't take skill, so she's basically just a celebrity. And two, she's very humble and non threatening. I mean, she's powerful and influential, but people don't really see her as pushing an agenda. So we're ok with her.

Sarah Palin, not so much. A strong gun toting woman that can kill and skin a moose? People are itching to see her fail. Any little mistake she makes and people celebrate it. News media knows the more they can bash her, the higher their ratings. Of course, no one cared about Joe Biddon even if he made racist jokes about arabs working at Seven11s, but making fun of Palin was media gold. The feminist generally won't protect her because she's in the 'wrong political party.'

Martha Stewart. I remember seeing an entire magazine devoted to spoofing her. "Is Martha Stewart Living," was the name. No one really understands why she went to jail, but I remember camera crews going around showing people laughing and cheering at the news anyways. Who the hell would be against Martha Stewart? But there really are a lot of people who are. The worst thing about Martha Stewart, not only is she talented at something--home making, but she makes cooking, sewing, cleaning, etc, look like actual skills. This implies that women that do these things should be respected. We don't like that at all. We like thinking that these are 'natural skills,' whatever the hell that means, and that women just do them and don't need to be considered experts in them. It's as if we say, "Crafting takes no skill. The only reason men can't do it as well is cause it's just a natural thing women are born with." Now, if someone's *really* good at cooking, if it's a man, we're ok with that. You're not going to see many websites devoted to hating male chefs. But you'll find plenty anti Rachael Ray sites.

Hillary Clinton... I was actually kind of surprised to hear all the democrats say they wouldn't vote for her. As unpopular as McCain is with conservatives, I think Hillary would have lost to him had she won the primary. Obviously Republicans tend to not like her either. I saw a poll from a couple years ago that listed her as the most hated person by Republicans. Hillary is very assertive and decisive. She's the kind of person that doesn't put up with crap... well, unless she's married to it.

Nancy Pelosi. I read somewhere that she averages around 70-80% of votes each election. This might make her one of the most popular Congresswomen among her constituents(of San Fran). However, she's certainly not well liked among the rest of California. I read a recent poll that puts her approval at around 30% among Californians... who I would guess up until a year ago, never even heard of her. In either case, why the sudden hate? I know it's over the health care bill, but she didn't write any of the versions of it. Harry Reid and that other guy I can't think of right now, has done most of that. Other than fighting for the Public Option, she didn't set the terms on what the bill had to include. Obama did. Pelosi is really just a cheerleader for the liberals and a behind the scenes arm twister. Opponents of the current plan call it Pelosicare. Why single her out? Do women make easier targets of hate?

Ann Coulter is probably the most reviled of all. Yeah, she says a lot of things that really upset people, and with good reason. If I took her seriously, I'd be offended too. But coming from someone that's said things like women shouldn't be allowed to vote, when she's a woman, you have to realize a lot of what she says is for shock value and meant to be funny. You might think that other conservative spokes people like Limbaugh or Beck get crap too, sure, but hate for Ann is legendary. And why? It's not like she runs anything or has her own show. But I notice that feminist groups that would be defending her for being attacked because she's a woman, won't defend her because she's 'in the wrong party.' You might think, "Well, I wouldn't defend her either. Have you heard some of the things she's said?" Yeah, I have, and they're some pretty awful things. But remember in the news a few years back when a couple guys ran up to her on stage when she was giving a speech trying to physically assault her? She was able to get away, but instead of hearing outrage from feminists that two men would try and assault a woman even while cameras were rolling, I heard too many liberals sad that the men failed to reach her. So you're for women's rights... but only if those are women who agree with your views? That's pretty hypocritical.

I think one of the biggest examples of how us Americans feel about women comes down to the issue of abortion. I'm pretty open minded about how people feel about things. I can see the good and bad in every position. But abortion seems pretty clear cut to me.

First off, no one is *pro abortion*. I was in a fairly long term relationship with this one woman who told me if I ever got her pregnant, she would have an abortion. It hurt me to hear that. A part of me thought, "What? You don't have the right to kill my child!" Some weird potential super Dad protector instincts came out of no where and I was ready to fight for my hypothetical child. I was genuinely upset she said that to me. But I thought about it. It's not my body. It's her body. If she doesn't want something growing in it, it's her choice. It's not a baby. It can't survive on its own. I don't like it. In fact, I hate it. I really hate the idea of abortion. But I really hate the idea of thinking a bunch of politicians I'm never going to meet can tell me what I have to allow to grow in my body. No way in hell would I put up with that.

Now, I look at the pro life movement. Life. I can get behind that. Who the hell isn't for life? Then I think about it. Most pro lifers are for the death penalty. Hmm. Well ok. Wouldn't you rather see a baby live over a murderer? Ok, so they're for the death penalty. ...and... some of them are killing doctors. Ok, that's a small percentage of Pro Lifers that kill doctors, but still... huh? Ok, obviously Pro Lifers would be vegetarians since the meat industry is cruel to animals. Actually, I think vegetarian Pro Lifers are really rare. I'm beginning to think 'Pro Life' really doesn't have anything to do with life at all.

Let's assume it's us men who get pregnant. How do we feel about abortion now? Better? Well, we trust men. I mean, we're men. We make decisions about sending people into war. We run companies. We make trucks and drive around in mud. We catch farm animals with rope and wrestle them to the ground. We're men. Society trusts men to be able to make decisions about our own bodies. I think that if men got pregnant, there would be no such thing as a Pro Life movement. Really, you're going to tell a man what he can't do? Um, no.

If you study Anthropology, you'll see a long, consistent line of men asserting their control over the labor and reproductive rights of women. When women get too powerful, we cut them down. When women take control over their bodies away from us, we call them baby killers, sinners, whores, and worse. We men control women. And as we see women try and be equal to us, we don't like it. But we're not alone. Women push other women down in Neo colonialist fashion. This is supposed to be the modern era, but us men are still in control, still dictating what values society passes on to the next generation... still propagating our control.

It makes me sad to see Pro Life women. It really does. I mean, it would be one thing if I was Pro Life, which I'm obviously not. But men are stupid. We're allowed. But women should know better. Social hegemony is strong. People become what society programs them to be. Are people really incapable of breaking out of this chain, of thinking for themselves? Or do we have to keep on with the slow revolution of gradualism?

eh, what the hell was I talking about? Oh right. I was talking about barely literate women who post on Craigslist. Sometimes I look through posts thinking it's funny. Other times, it's just so depressing. Like the low self esteem posts. Women that are like "yeah, I'm fat, but I put out." Or the disturbing, "wednesday afternoons only, must be discreet," posts. I've been in some terrible relationships. And I was dumb enough to stay with women that treated me horribly for too long, but never in my life have I ever considered cheating instead of having the guts to leave first. People that cheat on their partners are scum, and sadly, I know that includes a lot of people--including many of those women I dated.

Holy crap, this is getting long. Well, even if no one reads this, it's nice to finally get this stuff off my chest. More very long and boring rants coming soon.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Beginning

Years ago, I used to keep an online diary through my band's website. A lot of it was sharing the ups and downs of trying to herd cats, aka, keep a band together. What was interesting about it is it allowed fans of our band to keep in touch with what we(ok, mostly I) was doing. People I didn't know would walk up to me in clubs saying things like, "You ran out of gas on the freeway coming home from band practice? What did you do?" It was unsettling at first to have perfect strangers know so much about me. But in time, I got used to it, and even comforted by the notion.

Well, my band never really got far in the grand scheme of things, and I've since given up on it. I have several interests other than music, but all those interests center around the same thing--creating. Not to get too spiritual here, but I believe all of us should be driven to make a positive impact on the world.

I got my BA in Anthropology this year. For a while, I pictured myself living in some far away civilization, studying a relatively unknown, distant people, and bringing their stories to the world. Of course, Anthropology also includes Archaeology. How amazing would it be to uncover a lost civilization or a distant relative in the chain of human evolution? But as I got closer to graduating, I realized there were no relatively unknown, distant people. Even the most elusive of people have been studied by generations of anthropologists. What new discoveries could I possibly make?

Archaeology is even more disparaging. I overheard two of my fellow students talking about a dig they went on over the summer. One of them was going on about coprolite, and how it proved bats were in the area 200 years before previous data indicated. He, and the team he interned for, had been able to alter previously understood information about a thousand years ago somewhere in a Southern Western desert. He was giddy as he told the story.

Do you know what a coprolite is? It's a fossilized turd. Right then, I decided if I ever got that excited about a turd, I hope someone shoots me. The truth is, Archaeology isn't like Indiana Jones movies. People find a site that they hope has something significant, then they bank the next 30 years of their life digging, hoping they find something. And how do they pay for it? By begging for grant money from corporations and other organizations. And what company wouldn't want to say they contributed to the dig that found Luci or Ardi, that fundamentally, and radically shifted our understanding of human evolution? But for every Luci, Ardi, Turkana boy, and Kennewick Man, there are thousands more archaeologists and interns that find only Diddly and Squat. I figured out that if I wanted to spend the next 30 years sitting in dirt begging for money with nothing to show for it, I could be homeless.

So now what? Well, I did learn an amazing amount of information from the experience. It's been a long time coming too. I mean, I spent 9 years going to American River College, which is a two year, community college. I started off taking music classes, but discovered how much I loved the social sciences. I took nearly every Psychology and Anthropology class ARC offered--lots of Sociology, religious Philosophy, Humanities, and History classes as well. I got my AA degree in Social Science, but I have enough units to get it 3 times over, so it was over kill. Despite having a 2 year head start on a 4 year degree, I spent 4 years at Sac State University, taking more classes than I needed. Although I became disillusioned with the field of Anthropology, I never got tired of studying it. And as I learned more and more about how political, religious, cultural, and environmental forces move and shape a people, I started to see things very differently around me. I know I only have a BA. And really, who cares about a BA? Anyone can get one. But I really feel like I've been changed by my very long educational journey. Of course, that journey will never end. I will always be a student, class room or not.

Ok, I'll give you an example of change. Maybe you've heard the 90% of all people become the same religion of their parents. Now, that's a great statistic to use to convince people of other faiths that they're brain washed, and they should really come over and believe what you believe in. But I think about that. My religious beliefs are similar to my parents too. Am I brain washed? I don't feel like I am. But then again, no one does. Christianity is the most popular religion in the world, but only less than 20% of the world's population believes in it. Some might say, well, religions are all different ways of worshiping the same God. That sounds great if you don't know how radically different religions are from each other. First off, half a billion people are Buddhists; a religion that doesn't even have a God. Another billion are Hindus and have hundreds of Gods. Hinduism has been "christianized" by western influences in modern times to try and push Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva into different faces of one monotheistic God or to claim they're the holy trinity... um, yeah, no. Is Shiva the Destroyer the Holy Ghost in that case?

But think about it, assume that Christianity is the "correct" religion. Also, assume that Mormonism, Catholicism, Protestantism, etc, all fall under the same category, and all of it somehow fits together into one religion that's "right." If Christianity is the right religion, that means that over 80% of the world is wrong. How do we sit, believing so strongly in our religious beliefs "knowing" that we're the right ones and that all those other people are wrong, knowing that they think the exact same thing about us? How can you not question it all?

There's a great line from the Watchman. Rorschach says something like, "We're all puppets. The difference is I can see the strings." I would argue though that there isn't some sinister puppet master out there controlling everything. That puppet master is us. Our lives are not our own because we never make it so. We all drift through life, a product of our upbringing, sort of like self replicating machines. If you're an American, you might be worried about that kind of idea. Us Americans fiercely believe we have free will and individuality. This is part of why no nation in the history of the world admonishes governments that threaten individual choice quite like we do. Remember, our country was founded by slave owners that wanted to find a new place so they could have the freedom to practice a far more restrictive form of religion in peace. Try and wade through all the contradictions in that statement, and you'll begin to understand why America is such a weird place.

The more I started to understand our own culture, the more I started to understand why the rest of the world looks at us so curiously. Now, look at the opposite extreme. The Chinese value harmony more than individuality. Communism, if it could exist positively at all, suits that type of culture the best. China has problems like all countries do, and you could easily make the case that they're communists in name only. They've had a very gradual capitalist revolution. But I sometimes wonder is valuing harmony over individuality such a bad thing? I question everything.

This is essentially my first blog / journal / whateverthehellitscallednow entry in several years. And it's way too philosophical for a first entry. But I've been questioning a lot these last couple years. I think that's part of being a social scientist.

On a less heavy note, other than music, I've had two other big interests in my life. One is computer games and I'm currently working towards a second BA degree in Computer Science in hopes of making games one day. And I'm also I'm writing again. I wrote my first novel when I was 14. It was terrible, but over the years, I've gotten fairly decent at it. There's this fictional world that I've been working on for about a decade now. I finished a novel about it years ago, but I was never really that happy about it. First off, it was sort of like a campy, almost comic book feeling version of a Lord of the Rings kind of story. It didn't have the gritty details of the kind of story that really came alive and really drew in the readers to care about the characters and the world. Since "finishing" it, my break from writing to go to Sac State has done a lot for me to understand my fictional world and the elements of it. I'm really excited about this renewed project.

I'm not entirely sure of what to accomplish with this blog here. Maybe no one will ever read it or maybe this novel becomes a success and this is a chronicle of my journey through it. Time will tell.