Monday, December 14, 2009

Nostalgia. . .

Something about the smell of warm air in Pittsburgh always pulls me back to the spring of my freshman year of college. It smells like promise and potential.

Driving home from work today I get the same feeling I had early in 2005. So, I sit here with the window open wide to that magical air and the Shins' "Chutes Too Narrow" wailing from the speakers, and I reminisce about the wonderful world open to a young man with no responsibilities and nothing but optimism for tomorrow.

The world has changed since then. I have grown up--to some degree anyways. And after a period of weary cynicism and complacency, life is beginning to seem like it did that spring. Good things surely are to come. T.S. Eliot said in Little Gidding, "We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

I'm ready to revisit the future.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Troops

I've been giving a lot of thought recently to the Troops. Most people are in favor of supporting the Troops, but more and more Americans are starting to see problems with the wars they fight. Poll

How can such a discrepancy exist? Granted, we don't want another situation similar to the one after Vietnam where veterans were ostracized and defamed for their service. However, our two current wars are unlike Vietnam, where American men were drafted to fight. Any soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan signed up to be there. Maybe they believed in the cause, or maybe they just wanted an opportunity the service provided; either way, they are there by choice. Is it right of us to blindly support them?
The war in Afghanistan has been ongoing for nine years, and we have occupied Iraq for over six. I remember hearing a quote somewhere that I always attributed to Che Guevara that said something along the lines of, "If you want to bring down Babylon, make it stretch farther than its arms can reach." With our blossoming debt and blooming fiscal concerns, is it wise to be spending money on two foreign occupations? Perhaps we should further re-evaluate our devotion to causes that demand so much of our blood and money.

Friday, November 13, 2009


The picture at the top of this blog is a view of Chernobyl from the city of Pripyat, a once rapidly-growing city built near the infamous plant. What was once a flourishing, modern metropolis is now a ghost town, abandoned and still blanketed with pockets of radiation.

Photos of the city are hauntingly beautiful. Inside the abandoned buildings are the remnants of a communist regime that fell not long after the city was deserted. It now stands as a testament to some of the greatest glories and tragic failings of the human race.

We are able to build and create and better our world, but often we end up just making a mess of things. There are reports from the area around Chernobyl that without a human presence wild animals are thriving, although there are also reports of mutation and sterility in some species.

When Europeans were colonizing America, some settlers opted to live with the Natives rather than stay with their brethren. Ben Franklin remarked on the phenomenon, "No European who has tasted Savage Life can afterwards bear to live in our societies."

For more on Chernobyl, look here:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Swine Flu and the Race Home

I clock out of work at 6 PM, then play a game I call "Beat the Sun Down." The object of the game is for me to get home before it gets dark enough to need headlights. I won today, although it was close.

According to the website, there have been 44,555 reported cases of swine flu in the United States and its territories. Of those cases, there have been 1,170 deaths attributable to H1N1 infection.

According to the CDC, an average of 36,000 American individuals die each year from seasonal influenza.

Pandemic or paranoia?

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I don't know if it's the season or events related, but I'm tending towards feeling funky. It's been a waste of beautiful weather.

Is this a common symptom? Should a young man find himself already worn down by the doldrums of lower middle-class life? What future am I anticipating?

I have been reading, "Lies My Teacher Told Me," and James Loewen (the author) has some really interesting thoughts on American's view of progress. He claims that we're a people who equate moving forward with getting better, but often we regress while only feeling as if we are moving forward. For example, Obama was to be a progressive president, yet we're not holding him accountable for failing to live up to those promises. It's not so much actual progress we crave, just the ideology.

On an unrelated note, kudos to Levi's for creating an ad campaign that appeals to me. I don't know who came up with the 'Pioneers' thing you're doing, but I like it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rants and Observations

Two things:

While watching TV tonight, I got to watch a commercial where the two dudes from Scrubs were making humorous pleas for nationalized health care. They urged young people (aged 18-29, the least-insured age group in America, according to the commercial) to vote for coverage. As if this thing isn't a mess enough already, now we need Hollywood working the young and impressionable into a frenzy over something they don't necessarily need.

Sure, it's good to have a safety net, but as a supple young man I don't really need to worry about heart attacks or colon polyps or brain aneurisms, or whatever health issues older people have. I eat healthy, exercise, and try to keep certain bad indulgences to a minimal or moderate level. In my opinion, keeping a positive outlook can be better for one's health than "just-in-case" insurance. The body is designed to fix itself after all!

On another, unrelated note, I have a theory as to why American men revere football.

I didn't give too much thought to the sport until last year when I got into a fantasy league. Even then I didn't watch the games or care about outcomes unless the Steelers were doing something worthwhile. This past Sunday I ended up watching a majority of the games. I wondered why.

I reasoned that it had to do with the job I have now. For five days each week, I sit in a climate-controlled room staring at a computer. My co-workers talk about breast feeding sometimes. Football, with all its physical triumph and conquest, was suddenly appealing. Watching burly men grind out yard after yard for the glory of the end zone made sense in a primal way. Even though I'm not actually doing anything, I want to, and can relate. The other day, the Wife and I were talking about how being lethargic only makes you more lethargic. So, instead of conquering something myself, I sit and observe.

This theory offers an explanation as to why America shifted its love from baseball to football. When men had to do physical work, they wanted a more strategic, less physical form of sport. What comes to mind when one thinks of baseball compared to thoughts associated with football? Think about it. And don't bother getting health care. Sitting on the couch won't hurt you any time soon.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


An article in the City Paper I read last week told about the increasing amount of potentially harmful chemicals in the water supply. Concern over what we're consuming is growing like the Pacific garbage mass. (For reference, a picture of a nerd with a trash ball he caught.

Think about it, all the things we consume, be it the food we eat then poop out or the cleaners we use to wash ourselves afterwards, and the packages in which all these consumptibles are delivered have to go somewhere. When one considers the cost associated with certain products, it can make you feel pretty damn guilty.

I feel bad about the amount of waste I generate and am taking steps to make my environmental footprint smaller. ( Here's a calculator to show how wasteful you are.) According to my results, there would need to be 5.5 earths for everyone to sustainably live as I do. I told Christina and she replied, "We might as well kill ourselves." Apart from suicide I'm trying to take steps towards limiting the waste I create. I won't drink another bottle of water, which to me is the most over-indulgent, unnecessary frivolity of modern man. I have to drive to my crappy job, but at least I'm angry about it and my car gets decent gas mileage.
I'm trying to eat less beef because on an episode of Manswers they pointed out that only 38% of a cow is butchered for meat. Couple that with the amount of resources it takes to raise cattle and the harmful methane gas they fart into the atmosphere and I feel too guilty to enjoy the deliciousness of that wonderful animal. I also am trying to shower with less soap and I try to keep the ligts off and unplug unused appliances.

Environmentalism doesn't have to be a movement or a brand image, just a subtle change in way of life. In fact, trying to market "green" may end up having adverse affects on what could have potentially been a positive thing. So don't buy a Prius or carbon offsets if you're feeling bad, just tone down on eating cow and using plastic so much. Consumption will never lead to conservation.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I decided recently that I don't think I am going to vote anymore. I don't see the point. Voting for change didn't really solve anything. The shift from a Republican party-run government to a Democrat controlled one only brought on new complaints and arguments. And the constituency seems to be pissed. A recent study showed that 57% of people would like to see Congress replaced (

I began to become disillusioned with politics after the Ron Paul Revolution failed to really materialize. I truly felt passionate about what was going on there, but apparently the rest of the country didn't agree, which is fine although it made me sad. The sadness has worn off; now the whole political process seems like so much wasted effort. People's problems won't be fixed by government. Look at the health care debacle.

So instead of partaking in the burden of democracy, I'm going to put power behind my dollars. Money has more influence than politics, rather than investing time into seeing what candidate best lines up with my views I'm going to see where I want my money to go and dispense accordingly.

On an interesting side note, when I was wondering if it was a good idea to stop voting, this episode of South Park came on:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Shrinking Church

Atheism is a growing force. It is defined by as "disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings." I know the argument has been made countless times by the faithful that Atheism is still a belief system, and thus not much different from any other religion, but until it is debunked, I prefer to believe in a Higher Power. God has been a great presence in my life and I feel bad for people who are missing out on that.

Truthfully though, I can understand the pull away from God. Mankind is evolving. We don't need a god anymore. We can explain away most all things formerly mysterious. The move to a self-actualized humanism is the next logical step in our moral evolution. We don't need all powerful beings forcing us to be good and explaining a sun rise. In fact, the religions of the world are seen as destructive forces instead of instructions on how to live a life of love. On the other side, in trying to stay relevant, the Message has been filtered and watered down to fit current trends and is now shallow and weak. Yesterday in church I was admiring the beauty of the building and the lack of people in the pews. It was like a bus stop for the afterlife, full of the elderly sitting quietly waiting for eternity. My cousin (who works there) was telling me about an ever-smaller budget and a decline in active members. The writing on the wall was sandblasted clean last month.

I don't know what this declining majority is to do. Faith has lost its appeal and church has little to offer modern man. I wish I had solutions, but I don't. All I have is the notion that the God I believe in has less need for us than we do for Him.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weekend Warrior

I understand why working people look forward to the weekend so much. Until two weeks ago, every day was a weekend for me. Now I have seen the other side and I want to go back!

In a way it's disgusting the way we live. I'm sitting at a desk that is littered with unnecessary junk. I'm going to bed early because I have to get up and drive to a job that I hate to prepare for a future I'm not so sure I want.

And I have a good life!

It's sad that I have to make conflict with trinkets and gainful employment because I have nothing else to be mad about. I'm not oppressed or hungry or cold or naked. Yet I feel emboldened to take on the "challenges" of living like a wage slave by posting whiny rants on the Internet like so many people gone before me. This has to be the end of humanity. We've so mastered our lives that our conflicts have moved inward.

But I'm not going to be the one to change it. The tides keep rolling, man keeps bettering himself. All that's left now is to conquer mortality, send it the way of God and the A-cup breast.

So what does a suburban, middle-class WASP like me do now? The only thing left to do: become a Hipster. . . . . .

Monday, August 10, 2009

College is a Waste

While at work today I got a text from my wife. She was outlining her debt scenario after three years of higher education. It's not what it should be. As a college graduate who now works at a crummy job that doesn't require a college degree, I wondered what exactly was all that time and money spent towards? Apart from a broadened mental horizon and a chance to slack off for four years, not much. I appear to be no more qualified than a high school graduate with experience. In fact, from my past month of job searching it seems that experience counts more than education. Everyone's got a degree. And unless you had someone to pay for it for you, chances are you aren't making enough to justify your liberal arts education. I know I'm not.

I like to run after work to clear my head and decompress. At the trail, I thought about the way the higher education system in America is a mess and thought of an alternative:

A school that rewards students for getting A grades. On top of base fees, say each credit costs $1,000. For arguments sake, lets say fees and housing cost $5,000 per semester, less if there is an option for off-campus housing. For a student taking 15 credits, that equals $20,000 per semester. Not cheap. BUT! If you refund students' money per A per credit, then there is the opportunity for school to cost only $10k per year.

Ten thousand dollars is still relatively expensive, but I'm picturing a very prestigious degree. To accomplish this goal, professors will be paid well, regardless of students' performance. However, to discourage easy grading, performance reviews will determine the professor's contract. These reviews will also make sure the professor is being fair as well. The goal is to make everybody work for what they get. As professors grade more rigidly, students are forced to work harder and the overall quality of education goes up.

I imagine I'm not the first person to think of this, In fact, some high schools have similar programs, but I don't want to just bribe kids into achieving. Degrees mean the same whether you got them with A's or C's. I'm just thinking by making higher education more like a market, a better system will be created than the one we have in place now. And by taking student's money up front, an investment fund could be set up to help cover costs.

Not like anyone reads this, so I don't know why I'm asking, but... any thoughts?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

On Blogging and Social Media

With the recent events that took place here in Pittsburgh, I got to thinking more and more about the nature of social media. Truth be told, I never really was a fan. Facebook is only passingly interesting and twitter is a novelty that I predict will eventually follow other services into oblivion. Remember AIM?

I read the shooter's blog. I'm sure a lot of people have. It was interesting that his blogspot site was shut down by the time I got home to read it last night, but the text was transcribed on Did they buy that or just claim it?

At any rate, I'm wondering why we feel compelled to do things like blog and facebook and tweet. Is it just for fun? What are we looking for? I'm left thinking that the more superficially connected we are, the more likely we are to feel alone. The point gets driven home that even though we may have all these personal contacts on the web, we are alone when we step away from the computer screen. It's poetically ironic that this dude was reaching out to the whole world and was still being denied the connection he desperately wanted. It is a special case, the guy's world view was obviously skewed, but the fact remains that he had options. Did he ever post on if he wanted a companion so badly?

I think we get our minds made up on how things should be. The sheer volume of media coverage and opinions and reinforcement from all this extra social interaction can drive a person crazy. There are so many options and so many perfect examples of how things should be that we go nuts trying to choose what type of person we want to be and then trying to follow others' well-documented examples of taking that path to self-actualized nirvana. It's hard to be unique and comfortable with yourself when there are so many examples of how you're wrong or flawed.

I assume eventually we will adapt and evolve, but where does that put us until then? It's not an issue of regulating or dismissing social networking, they're here to stay. But what do we do in the mean time? How do we learn to balance our shrinking privacy and actual physical face-to-face connectivity with the growing pseudo-contact and relatability that social networking and modern media provide?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

After Two Days of 'Real Work'

I started a 'real' job on Monday. As of now, it sucks. Hard.

In physics, the faster an object goes, the more energy it takes to move it. This is because mass grows proportionally greater with speed. At a certain point, near the speed of light, there isn't enough energy in the universe (that we know of) to make an object move. This phenomenon was observed at my job. Too much mass, and not enough energy.

At least I got to go for a run after. The Montour trail is nice. It used to be a railroad and at one point you run through a tunnel. Near a stream I climbed a steep hillside, much to the bewilderment of a middle-aged woman with Bon Jovi hair.

There's always the possibility that tomorrow will be better.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Day in Brief

The only substantial meal I've eaten in the last twenty-four hours was a bowl of Raisin Bran at 4:00 AM. Purely coincidentally, I read a Digg-approved article on fasting and starvation this morning.

Last night, I lost in the ballpark of $250. Most was spent trying to regain the rest.

Today, Christina and I met my cousin and his girlfriend at the zoo. It was baby day. There were a lot of babies.

After the zoo, Christina ate Panera and I had coffee.

Since then, she's gone to work and I'm reading the Internet and TS Eliot in between.

Last night, when half asleep I tried to tell Christina that I could be a good MMA fighter because I'm skinny.

Earlier last night, I experienced a soul-punching lack of winning hands. But they looked good from the start!

For some reason, the northern border of the iris in my right eye looks and feels cut.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I've always loved all things end of the world. The neat-o graphic up there is someone's screenshot from Fallout 3. (Fallout 2 is the best.)

There's something sexy about post-apocalyptia, be it via zombies or nuclear holocaust. Not alien invasion so much, that's too Us vs. Them.

I like the depictions of the state of humanity after the world has ended. Left to our own devices with survival as the main goal, you always get the self-serving assholes like the Lord Humungus or Tina Turner to foil the reluctant hero Max Rockatanskies and Vault Dwellers. Like, oo who is our greatest enemy? That's right. It's ourselves.

Plus, aren't we getting lazy? I've been jobless for two months and ask me if I've felt hungry or uncomfortable. I don't have health insurance, but do I worry about injury? Nope. Where's the struggle, the Darwinian Fittest in life such as this? Give me a zombie outbreak, let me see how that goes. Give me leather-thong wearing bikers trying to steal my gas and see if I can dispatch them with badassery.

I know what you're saying, "Seth, why not just move to Somalia and try to Schwarzenegger in Commando all the pirates or somesuch," but wouldn't that just be a choice? A poor one? Let's see how it goes down when it's mandatory. Then you can really put your heart into it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

40 Years Ago

Fourty years ago around this time, man walked on the moon. Today, I made a blog.