Google
 

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

"Come! Bathe with me!"

By: Michael Akerman


Inspiration struck last night when I was thinking about making a new blog post, but didn't know what to write, and I came up with a nifty analogy that happens to revolve around an SNL line. Thus, it must be a perfect blog post, because:

1.) It's political in nature.
2.) It involves a nifty analogy.
3.) It revolves around an SNL line.




Before I move on, I wanted to say that I've moved to a private server, can host images and such on it, and will probably eventually expand to a multiple page blog/home page thing.

So, update your bookmarks, even though my blogspot site will redirect you to this site.

And I can verify that my easter egg works on Mozilla Firebird every time I load the site, but I can't verify anything on MSIE.




Multilateralism

I think one of my big quips about the modern political system is that even the conservatives are fundamentally liberal, in the vaguest sense of the word. The Bush administration pushed for multilateralism in the war with Iraq (sorry, "war in Iraq"), Clinton with health care, every modern President (after Nixon, at least) with any important social or military reform. But this is bad politics.

Seeking multilateralism is fine and dandy, and could be useful, but Communism never works. Asking both parties to agree on the neccessity of legislation for political reasons creates a hypocritical situation. Before the War in Iraq, the Republicans pushed for multilateralism, starting a movement among the populace for multilateralism. The Democrats appeared to be left with only one politically sound choice: support the war in Iraq. This made it hard to raise opposition, and created bad policies. Competition is the only way to make truly beneficial legislation.

For instance, competition between the two parties before the War in Iraq would have allowed concerns to be raised and arguments to be addressed. Democrats could have spoken out for post-war policy, moderates would have been swayed slightly, and Republicans would have had to bow to these concerns to allow the war. Oil factories would probably be up and running, a political system would be taking root, and Halliburton would not be milking the US budget for all it's worth.

In short, multilateralism is like the Republican party and the Democratic party taking a bath together. They bathe together with the intention of finishing their baths quicker and more efficiently, but in the end they simply splash around the issue, make a big mess, and they have to spend a long time cleaning up afterward.

~Michael,
...feel free to comment on which Republican and which Democrat you pictured bathing together in the bathtub analogy...

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Liberals "Blowing smoke" and Conservatives "Full of Hot Air"

By: Michael Akerman


Now for my scathing rebuttal:




Well, Smith, I must say, I actually do partially agree with you. It is not true that Liberals base all of their decisions on emotion. Nor is it true that Conservatives base all of our decisions on logic and fact. Nor is it true that Liberals base all of their decisions on logic and fact. Nor is it true that Conservatives base all of our decisions on emotion.

My belief is that the actual reasons (on both sides) and the stated reasons (on both sides) are entirely different. The leaders of both parties base their decisions on highly logical principles, such as "appealing to the emotions of the public will get me reelected." Luckily, this demagoguery appeals to about equal portions of voters on both sides, and has little impact on actual voting (Special Note: This does not mean politicians can stop appealing to emotion, because competition dictates that if both sides stop doing something beneficial, one side will start again, and then both will). So both sides must also appeal to logic. Objective observation will reveal that both sides, in fact, use their logic to make decisions, with little or no emotion involved (in my opinion, of course, liberals' logic is wrong, but that's just me).

Now, let's take the death penalty again as our example. The Conservative logic is that the death penalty decreases capital crimes, is thorough and precise in its application, and allows few enough mistakes that it is justified in its use. The Liberal logic is that the death penalty does not decrease capital crimes enough (they'll never say "enough." It's always left unqualified. Demagoguery, remember?), is not applied precisely, and executing even one innocent is worse than a vague possibility of a few other innocents being murdered.

Most of this is hard to prove or based on morals (note: not necessarily emotions. Morals are more logical and rigid), but there are some facts that have been distorted by www.deathpenaltyinfo.org that can be put in a more proper light. First, the statement that the death penalty has not benefited the South: frankly, this is crock. While the South's murder rate is higher than the national average, this has always been this way, especially after the migration to the Sun Belt. The South has a younger, more minority-based population than the North, as well as lower education on average, and a greater level of poverty. Of course the murder rate is higher. Statistics don't lie, and all major studies have shown that these demographics exhibit higher murder rates.

The true question in this case is not the level of capital crimes, but the effect of the death penalty on that level. Since the early 1990s, when Bush really kicked capital punishment up a notch in Texas, Texas' murder rate has dropped 66%, compared to a national 33%. In that time, the difference in minority population between the South and North has, in fact, increased. Difference in poverty and education is essentially unchanged. The only reason for the large decrease is the death penalty.

Turning to statistics again, it has been proven that minorities are executed at a higher rate than whites, compared to their populations. However, minorities also commit capital crimes at much higher rate than whites, compared to their population. Why? I have theories, but that would be another post. Regardless, the disproportionate executions are the result of... well... disproportionate crimes.

Regarding executing innocents, there has never been a case in which someone who was executed was later proven innocent. I can't say anything justifying the possibility of this happening. All things have risks that must be taken.

My personal opinion has little to do with emotions. The death penalty is alright in my eyes because the felon has not only stopped contributing to society, he has been detrimental. I believe in second chances for everyone, but on the second capital conviction, the murderer is a waste of resources. His death is fully justified.

My reason would never appeal to the masses, and this explains the "emotion" theory on political ideals. If I were a politician, I would say that the felon has hurt people and that he has played God. This is how it works on most, if not all, political ideals.

My death penalty reaffirmations (I had assumed they were true, but I checked) are from Sam Francis' article at TownHall.com

~Michael,
...you have to appeal to the gun-totin', hootin'-hollerin' rednecks...

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

"Bleeding-heart liberals" and "Compassionless conservatives"

By: UnrepentantNewDealer


This post will serve the purpose of debunking one of the most common misconceptions that characterize the vast majority of discussions about politics, an untruth that has been repeated by those on the Right (and to some extent, on the Left) for so long, that most people have accepted it as fact. The misconception: that the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives is that the positions of liberals are always based on emotion, rather than reason, and that the positions of conservatives are always based on reason, not emotion. Many intelligent people have fallen prey to this mythThis hypothesis is favored by conservatives, who want to believe that their positions are the only logical ones to take and that the positions of liberals can be dismissed as the illogical rantings of the "bleeding-hearts" and thus irrelevant; those few liberals who actually do base their opinions solely on emotion also favor this hypothesis because it allows them to claim that conservatives don't even have a heart.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

Since the best defense is a good offense, I will first eviscerate the conservatives' claims to basing all their positions on reason. Take the death penalty, for example. Conservatives claim that they support the death penalty because it reduces crime; that is to say that the everpresent possibility of exucution by the state discourages criminals from committing capital offenses. Until 1976, the death penalty was outlawed as unconstitutional; in that year it reversed itself. Logically, if the conservatives are right, it stands to reason that the rate of capital crimes should have decreased since 1976, at least in states with the death penalty. Instead, according to the FBI, in Texas, which executes more than three times as many inmates annually as any other state, the crime rate is nearly five times the national average. The South as a region accounts for 82% of executions since 1976, yet has long had the highest murder rate in the nation. The Northeast, by contrast, makes up less than 1% of the execution total, yet has the lowest murder rate in the country. (All these irrefutable facts and more can be found at www.deathpenaltyinfo.org; type death penalty into Google and click "I'm feeling lucky) This of course makes a mockery of their only "rational" reason to support the death penalty.

But of course, deterrence isn't their real reason, it's vengeance. Support the death penalty to punish these sick inhuman SOBS and make sure they don't kill again! This is obviously not a logical reason to support the death penalty; it is in fact based on nothing but EMOTION, the same thing they claim liberals' arguments are based on. Those BLEEDING-HEART CONSERVATIVES!!!:)

As a moderate liberal, I oppose the death penalty not just on moral (emotional) grounds but also because it is so inhumane it has been banned by all other true Western democracies, it is irreversible and there is no possibility of restitution (if later evidence would prove your innocense, you can be freed from a jail cell; dead inmates can't be brought back to life, obviously), its unsettling habit of sending minority inmates to death row far out of proportion to the rate of crimes committed by minorites, and the aforementioned fact that it doesn't deter capital crimes. Unlike conservatives, liberals have a position based on fact.

This is a trend that you see whenever you take a "fair and balanced" (Fox News copywrite lawyers: in the words of our Dear Leader, "Bring em on!") look at the positions of liberals and conservatives. Abortion, affirmative action, environmental protection, government regulation of the economy, school prayer, foreign policy, civil rights and civil liberties, social service programs--the list goes on and on; on all of these issues the conservative positions are illogical and fly in face of common sence, reason, and established scientific facts. I don't worry about the hearts of most conservatives, I worry about their heads. It would perhaps be more accurate to say that the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives is that, on any given issue, conservatives tend to choose the position that makes the least, not the most, sense. Reliance on either logic or emotion alone can lead to tragedy. The great strength of liberalism is that it has both Reason and Emotion on its side on most issues.

See Michael, I told you this would be an inflammatory post!:)

Until next time,

~Michael Smith

...don't even try to resist the urge to comment...

Friday, November 21, 2003

New server

By: Michael Akerman




Your Attention Please

I've had an epiphany, and instead of buying or creating a dedicated server, I've made a Geocities site to host the images I'll post on the Blog. Expect a pickle jar lid soon.

~Michael,
...it will all make sense in time...

Friday, November 07, 2003

Phew!

By: Michael Akerman


Well, there we go. The long period of silence is broken. It is now November, college apps are in (for now. Round 2 is like... January or something.) Anyways, I'm finally free, but I took a lengthy hiatus last week as I fought the common cold.

I hate being sick...

At any rate, I'm back. And better than ever. Well... not really. I'm still congested a bit. But not as congested.




Now, I have a question to pose. If a kid is Amish, does that make him an Am-lette?




An Issue! Finally!

Gays in the U.S.A.

The other day, I got into an argument with Maggie over homosexuality (she was egging it on. She's weird that way). Maggie accused me of being a bigot because I said it's wrong to be gay.

Frankly, it is.

Aside from the moral reasons, of which everyone is, I'm sure, aware of, there are the scientific reasons.

To be perfectly straightforward, homosexuality is a crime against nature.

The purpose of life, and the desire to mate, is to carry on the species. Homosexuality achieves no such thing. In fact, it actually increases one's chance of death through AIDS, which Reagan, by the way, supposedly said was divine retribution. While I will make no such claim, I will say that homosexuals should be persecuted for their choice.

And it is a choice. Homosexuality cannot have a genetic basis as some believe. It would simply evolve out of the species. And it can not have a environmental basis, as is proven by the numerous sets of identical twins raised in the same structure with widely different sexual orientations.

It can only be construed as a social choice. Maggie asked why someone would choose to be gay, if it meant persecution and hatred. Well, why do humans do anything? Why would the Reverend Martin Luther King, Junior choose to fight for civil rights when he knew he would be persecuted? Similarly, why would someone join the armed forces, or become a Goth, or go on reality TV shows, or buy stocks, or be a Nascar racer, or marry their cousin, or join band, or become the spokesman for Subway? In all cases, the chooser perceives a potential gain that outweighs the assured loss. Perhaps this gain for the homosexual is acceptance in a community, or even being outcast from a community, or some other factor.

Now, the USA is not a dictatorship, and freedoms are important. Homosexuals should have the right to choose. The government cannot legislate against that. That's one of those things that makes America America, and it shouldn't be changed.

However, they should be punished societally. Maggie accused me of being intolerant, yet tolerant is exactly what I am. I tolerate homosexuals. I will not force my morals on them, I will not yell at them about their choice, I will not argue with them about it unless they argue first. If I come across a store owned by a gay couple, I will not patronize it. I will not encourage the choice, and I will not accept it in my friends without at least mocking them for it. Homosexuals should be made to feel bad, as should bimbos, jerks, bullies, people with eating disorders, and any other person who makes a choice to live their lives incorrectly. This is what makes me tolerant, but unaccepting.

People will criticize my views, but how different is it than saying "The guy who owns that restaurant is a jerk, so I don't eat there anymore"? Society must clean house to maintain morals, and the only ethical way to do that is by discouraging an immoral choice. Society cannot harm or kill people for individual choice (so long as it doesn't harm others), but should look down upon them.




Mildly on topic, someone asked about gays in the military. I personally would be fine with this (it's a public institution), but there's a severe logistics issue. The point of seperate barracks for males and females is to keep distracting physical attraction to an absolute minimum. This is darn near impossible with homosexuals added to the mix.

You couldn't put gay men in the male barracks (possible gay-straight attraction) nor lesbians in the female barracks (same reason). You couldn't put gay men in the female barracks (possible straight-gay attraction) nor lesbians in the male barracks (again, same reason). You couldn't put gay men in a gay male barracks, and you couldn't put lesbians in a lesbian barracks. The only possible way is to have straight men and straight women barracks, and literally hundreds of two-person barracks containing a gay man and a lesbian each.

This would not necessarily work either, because it would be very easy to play the system and land yourself with your girlfriend in a two-person barrack.

~Michael Akerman,
...feel free to comment...

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Lackism:

By: Michael Akerman


Sorry for the total lackism of late. No one has posted in a while, but I can explain!

Really... um...

Well, Smith's been working and other such... stuff.

Snyder went on a cruise last week. He'll be back soon, and "should" post on the blog about it.

I.... well...

Mostly, I simply haven't gotten in the mood recently. Also, I've been doing a bunch of extracurricular crap.

All three of us are doing college app.s stuff, but a lot of that will cool off on Nov. 1.

By the way, I was accepted to N.C. State... go me...

~Michael,
...I hope to post soon. On something... I can't remember what at the moment...

Friday, October 03, 2003

All brand new crap!

By: Michael Akerman


All brand new crap!

See brand new crap!

It's everywhere!

Look over there!

Stuff, oh stuff is changing, it is changing. I mean stuff.

Additions to the site.

Additions to the site!



Hey! New crap! Look over there!

Okay. Well, really, there is new crap. Not as much as I made it seem though.

Following suit from Adam Wenner (link at right), I've added a comments page to each post. Click and comment. Enjoy yourself.

Also, after noticing that it was hard to find the division between posts, I added colored horizontal reference bars between posts. They look like this.




I've been thinking about moving to a free server, but that usually requires pop-up ads, banner ads, moving to a new domain (new URL, basically), or a heck of a lot of work on my part to avoid these.

So, should I? Feel free to comment on this issue, or e-mail me.

~Michael Akerman,
...it's hard to find good free servers these days...

Thursday, September 25, 2003

"I've got a full house." "I've got a Royal Flush." "Well, I beat you both. I've got the Race Card."

By: Michael Akerman


Several weeks ago (several weeks. I'm a procrastinator too.), my AP Government class came upon the subject of racism and pulling the race card in a discussion.

I observed several interesting things on that day. First off, we have two black people in our class who were raised in foreign countries. In the discussion, both mentioned that they did not blame racism for nearly as many things as African-Americans. In fact, they often felt alienated by the frequency that the race card is pulled.

Prince (he's from Africa... Nigeria, I think) said that people often are afraid he'll be offended by certain things that are said, but he usually doesn't even realize that he "should" be offended. Same for Bola (raised in England, but from Nigeria, too, I think (I'm not sure if it's born or just descended from Nigeria.)).

I theorize that the race card phenomenon is in fact an entirely American oddity. I believe I have derived the sources as well.

Americans, as we all know, are highly individualistic. This is hardly a problem by itself, and is a powerful driving force behind many great American systems. However, Americans are also egotistical. We deserve what we want, and it's someone else's fault if we don't get that.

This is the grand root of the race card. Americans look for any excuse as to why they didn't get what they sought. So, minorities point to racism as an excuse as to why they didn't succeed.

This still raises the question of why white people don't commonly use the race card. Again, another uniquely American factor comes into play: liberal guilt. By liberal guilt, I don't mean guilt felt by Democrats (though they feel it more often), but the guilt that comes from the feeling that you are, or have been, better in some way than someone else. This is why we feel like we should clean up old Indian tribal lands, or why we feel that affirmative action is a necessary evil.

Since white people were better than any other race in economic, social, and political standing for a great many years, we feel guilty. We feel bad to use the race card, although we run into the same issues that draw the race card from anyone else.

I have noticed, however, that there is a trend toward racial equality of guilt. More white people draw the race card than before, and fewer minority people do. I suggest that this trend will eventually create an equilibrium, then begin to drop away as fewer and fewer people accept race as a valid excuse.

Some people say that racist issues will never go away. I disagree. I believe that, with time, racism will go the way of moonshining and blatant organized crime sydicates.

~Michael Akerman,
...I fold...

Monday, September 22, 2003

Word. And... um... Check It...

By: Michael Akerman


First off:

Watch it!

You will watch this!

You will be amazed!

Watch it!

Be amazed!




Heh... I like that...

Mushroom! Mushroom!

Anyways...




All the Liberals Say "What!"

Huh?

No, what!

What?

Right.


Last week (I haven't posted lately. I know. Haven't gotten in the mood.) our A.P. Government class took a quiz to find out our placement on the political spectrum. Incidentally, I was by far the most conservative class member (more than twice as conservative as the next). Predictably, most of the class was liberal. This is a fairly accurate representation of a high school, and for very logical reasons.

In high school, most people do not think about issues. They simply believe what they feel. And feelings are what liberalism runs on. Now, far be it for me to say that all liberals run on feelings (I'm sure some honestly believe liberal idealogy. Of course, they're wrong, but most of that wrongness will be discussed eventually in the blog, so let's not be abstract.)

Those who view the issues through the clarifying lens of logic understand the benefits of conservative idealogy, and thus believe these beliefs. They know that laissez faire and restrictions on negligent behavior will help the whole of the country. The economic controls and Do-What-You-Want beliefs of the liberal camp may benefit the individual, but they have the potential to destroy the country entirely (luckily, most liberals are more moderate than this, and there are conservatives to counter-balance them), and that wouldn't be good for anyone, now would it?

Other things: A lot of people didn't realize how moderate they were before they analyzed themselves. Some didn't realize they were slightly liberal (they thought they were on the good side ;)). Other than that, I don't have much else to say right now.

~Michael Akerman,
..."The Cheat is not dead!"...

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Allow Myself to Introduce.... Myself

By: UnrepentantNewDealer


I suppose it would be rude to post blogs without introducing myself (rather like walking up to a complete stranger and conversing with him like you would with a trusted friend). So... Where to begin?

My name is Michael Smith. I attend Ragsdale High School alongside some of the most agile, perceptive and quick-thinking minds I have thus far encountered, almost all of whom are regular contributors to this Blog. This is my senior year and the combination of senioritis and chronic procrastination is converging to create a perfect storm of epic proportions -- The Big Crunch. Between church (I am President of my church's Youth Council, DeMolay (a service and character building club, very similar to the Boy Scouts, but affiliated with the Masons, of which I am Master Councilor, the highest elected position), scanning groceries at work, filling out college application essays and doing the homework and studying associated with the three AP courses I am taking this semester, that leaves very little time to pursue my favorite pastime (reading), much less posting blog entries.

I now find myself in the unusual position of having no spare time. (OK, technically time does not exist, but time is a useful concept. We humans would go crazy if we hadn't created the concept of time. To quantify the world around us is, I am convinced, the very crux, the essence of being human. I quantify, therefore I am.... More on the nonexistence of time later... see what I mean?)

My long-term career goals include working for the State Department or CIA, pursing a career in writing (both fiction and nonfiction) and screenwriting, as well as a possible campaign for the U.S. Senate or other high federal office. Just think: "Send Mr. Smith to Washington", "I Like Mike"... the slogan possibilities alone are endless! Which leads naturally enough into my first political discussion on this site. This being the natural end to my intro, I will pick up with the aforementioned post later and end this particular post now (Aaaugh! Time references again!)

Until next "time",

*Michael Smith*

Everything changes! Everything chaaAAaaaAAAnges! ;)

By: Michael Akerman


For those keeping score (I know I am), the site's undergone a quasi-facelift. More of a noselift, really.




Some things I've added and changed:

New "Posted by" line above the posts (confused about who posted something? So was I!).

Nifty horizontal reference bars all over the joint.

New "Posted by" line beside the date at the bottom of posts.

All the links should now pop up a new window.

Knowledge of how to manipulate text size, color, and fonts (see above).





Now, if any of it doesn't work, feel free to e-mail me. The e-mail link is at the bottom-right.

Most knowledge for changes came from HTML Goodies.

Look for more to come in the future later after now,

~Michael Akerman,
...maybe we'll switch back to our original informal signatures...

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Taxes for Teens

By: Ed


A few days ago, I recieved my pay check. Upon opening it, I discovered it was a bit.... light. I looked at my deductions for the first time and saw exactly where my money was going. TAXES.
Now yes, I did know I was being taxed, but not this much. Since I started my job two months ago I have payed 132.55 dollars. This may not be a lot for some of you, but to 17 year-old it is a lot.

The amount I was being taxed didn't bother me as much as the fact that I couldn't vote to change it though. Then it dawned on me; I was being oppressed. The same thing our countries founders fought against was happening to me.

Then I had another epiphany. If I were to speak against it, I would probably change nothing. History repeats itself. Of course, there will be no war. I am not that dedicated to the cause, but I thought it was ironic and interesting so I shared it.

Hoping to find time to share more thoughts,

-Ed

Thursday, September 11, 2003

100 hits

By: Michael Akerman


Well, according to the counter (see right side), the blog just got its 100th hit.

Happy anniversary!

~Michael Akerman,
...break out the party hats!...

Geez. What an active day...

By: Michael Akerman


Honestly, it was. New blog subjects popped up left and right.

So, boys and girls, dudes and chicks: let's end with the mental and begin mundane. Stare at the screen and prepare for the strain as we delve into the realm of a high school brain. It's time for some blogging, so just sit right there, and pay close attention to the "when"s, "how"s, and "where"s. I guess I'll get started, now that I have the time, if only I could learn how to stop writing in rhyme...

Like I said, the most mundane subject today:




New blog features!

Hooray for me! There are new blogging features (including spellcheck. Watch out, world! Michael's computer can spell for him!).

Now, on to a more mental capacity.




The Terror and the Tragedy: Two Years Past

As I'm sure you well know, today is September 11th. I salute those who died in the cowardly attack on our country two years ago. May they rest in peace and be praised in heaven.






This morning we had a flag ceremony honoring the 9/11 victims. It was a simple ceremony, requiring less than five minutes of one's life to take part in. Many came, although I'm sure a lot more would have if they had known about it (I only found out because I was sitting by the front door). My best friend Philip, however, was trying to convince me that we shouldn't have a flag ceremony for the victims of 9/11, and that we weren't honoring our country by doing so. He said that it was not an attack against our country, but rather only affected three states.

Another friend of mine, Justin, tried to convince me that we shouldn't have a national holiday on September 11th because "that's what the terrorists wanted" (referring to wanting to shut down our economy).

This obviously sounds terrible of them to say. Justin's statement was only made because he didn't fully carry out his logic process. Obviously, the terrorists didn't want to shut us down for a day. Rather, they were symbolizing their desire to shut us down forever. We do, in fact, need a holiday to honor those fallen.

Philip's statements still troubled me. I found myself wondering how he could say that the attacks only affected three states. Finally, it occurred to me. I'm convinced that Philip, like many Americans, is simply coping with 9/11 by objectifying it. He retreats into the realm of logic to avoid pain, much like how the physical body goes into a coma to avoid pain. He simply affirmed this for me when, at lunch, he said he felt sad for the victims just like he does when anyone dies, but no more so than a normal, natural death.

I caution people not to be angry with people who take strange measures to cope with a tragedy. It's simply a mechanism, like religion or humor, to get through tough things.




Now, another thing that bothers me about 9/11 reports and media coverage is how media personnel say that America changed after September 11th, 2001. They say the citizens became more patriotic and compassionate. I disagree.

Americans have always been patriotic and compassionate toward their fellow men, but had no focal point for these traits. September 11th was a tragedy of such magnitude that it served as a banner of sorts, a modern-day "Remember the Alamo." Our country's citizens rallied behind this standard, ready to fight for justice and work for harmony.

Interestingly, this is, in fact, a normal American reaction. The Revolutionary War instilled in the populace a permanent penchant for doing whatever is necessary to keep our rights. The most obvious example of this, besides September 11th, was World War II. In this rare case, our very system of government was threatened. Our fundamental principles were in danger of being compromised. A huge wave of patriotic action spread out and, though we look on it with disdain now, on through the anti-Communism era of the 1950s.

The very same happened two years ago. The terrorists of September 11th, 2001 presented a threat to our fundamental right of relative safety. The attack was impossible to predict, and killed randomly. We, as Americans, could not let our right to safety and happiness fall to the wayside.

The country took up a standard then, not only of retribution, but of giving. We took it upon ourselves to restore peace to our shores by helping our fellow man. Like the period after World War II, we are still experiencing the effects of this great patriotic revival. Likely, this trend will continue for many years, although with almost assuredly better results. Last time, we fought for our government. This time, we fight for our happiness.




A Case Study

Maggie Dewar told me about her blog yesterday, and I read the same last night. It struck me after reading it that she is far too hard on herself, and subsequently, I realized why.

For reference, you can read her blog yourself, here:

Maggie's Blog

There, if you're through reading it, I'm sure you can see that she (reportedly) has an awful love life and everything seems to go badly for her. Knowing Maggie personally, I must say, she's wrong.

Maggie's sister was near the top of her class (if not the top. I don't recall exactly). She was absolutely amazing in the subject of English, and did fantastically in school. She is a nice girl by all accounts, pleasant and interesting to talk to. She goes to Duke University.

Madeline (Maggie's sister) is tough to compare oneself to. Throughout her life, as is the case for all siblings, Maggie has most likely been comparing herself, at least sub-consciously, to Madeline.

We are all our own worst critics, and Maggie most assuredly misrepresented herself (she does so in her blog, too). Maggie is a wonderful girl. She is smart and interesting, and as lively as anyone I've ever known. In my opinion, she is quite fetching by any standard.

Maggie, I'm sure, felt she could not match up to her sister (although this is false), on whom praise has been strewn profusely. Usually, this would result in inter-sibling dislike. Maggie's case is complicated, though.

Maggie's sister is her best friend. She would tell her anything, and trust her with anything. She does not wish to feel any animosity to the sister she loves so much, yet does. Maggie sees fit (subconsciously, mind you) to punish herself. She reflects the animosity toward her sister onto her social, home, and love life.

Take, for instance, Gohar. Gohar was Maggie's boyfriend last year (according to Maggie, I was the one who broke them up). According to Maggie, Gohar constantly cheated on her. They would fight often and generally did not have a very happy relationship. Maggie reports that she wanted to not want Gohar, but couldn't. She says she would fall in love with him again each time she saw him.

This flip-flop love life points to a self-mutilation complex. Whenever she viewed her relationship with Gohar in a truly logical sense, she realized that the relationship was a mistake. However, when she let herself over to her sub-conscious, she would revert back to her self-mutilation. Maggie carries out this same sequence in countless other situations, from wondering if she's ruining a relationship with her father while hating him anyways to arranging herself in situations where she cannot date a satisfactory boyfriend.




I was going to post one more subject today, but this is really long already, so I'll do it sometime later.

~Michael Akerman,
...I hope you enjoyed...

Saturday, September 06, 2003

On life:

By: Michael Akerman


Blame it on my contemplative nature...

At any rate, thoughts on the nature of life have been creeping around my head for the past couple of days.

One of the greatest questions of all time is the meaning of life. In my opinion, the meaning of life is the quest for happiness.

Life is not about who has the most toys, or who makes their way into the history books. Life is about enjoyment. God did not put us on the Earth to spend our lives in a middle-management position because we can't get a better job.

Society has done a fantastic job of screwing up the quest for happiness. It's hard to say when it happened, but society requires success even from those who don't wish to have success (for the record, I'm not speaking of myself).

In my opinion, the ultimate societal system is the Brave New World system. Everyone is happy, the economy runs efficiently, all needs get are fulfilled, but not without enough challenge to maintain happiness. Of course, not many people go for engineering low-intelligence grunts to do manual work and limiting personal expression. Besides, the society kept making mistakes. First, Bernard was the biggest mistake. The technology was not perfected enough to guarantee that mistakes like him would not be made. Secondly, the Savage Preserves were a REALLY bad idea. They should have been assimilated into society. Sorry, I digress.

Life reaches no higher point than discovery. Many will argue with me that learning is not fun. I strongly disagree. I feel immensely sorry for any person who has never experienced the thrill of discovery. Many have been trained to dislike learning (largely because of school, which I think should be a voluntary system. But that's a subject for another post) because they were forced to learn, much like how I hate Dickens because I was forced to read Great Expectations (worst book ever). In the quest for happiness, the sciences are a permanent drug.

Speaking of drugs, many may argue with me that drugs, alcohol, parties, etc. are our best tools for happiness. This argument is fundamentally flawed. While all things are okay in moderation, drinking to the point of being drunk is pointless and wasteful. Drunkards claim they are happy, yet when it comes down to it, they are fooling themselves. By the time they are no longer drunk, their life is right back to normal. The same goes for drug addicts, and to a lesser extent partiers. People simply use these things as surrogates for living.

The only true life is achievement. I don't mean the traditional American achievement (money, fame, sex), but rather real achievement. The kind that people on their deathbeds think about when they say their life has been good. Friends, family, love, and happiness. No person will reflect happily on a life of parties as they lay dieing, but will almost assuredly regret it.
Achievement, depending on the person, may even include elements of American achievement. I, for one, count leaving a mark of humanitarianism and betterment of humanity as the greatest achievement of all.

I suppose there's not much more I can say about life for now.

~Michael Akerman,
...it bothers me slightly that people will read this and think that they "knew" it because it's logical... hindsight bias... that's life ;)...

Interesting Developments:

By: Michael Akerman


Today Blogger and Blog*Spot fell under attack, and service went down. If you tried to access this site and couldn't get on, try again! I'm back up now! (Wait... if you haven't tried to access again... how can...? Ah, whatever)

The most interesting news: I'm Googleable! Checked Google last night, and this site finally showed up! (As a side note, though I'm linked to everyone else's blog (see right side), and Googlebot finds sites by jumping through links, no one else's blog was listed. Conclusion: Google is based on hits for whose site is hosted, so mine wins!)

Also, check to the right to find a link to e-mail me.

~Michael Akerman,
...I feel important...

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Procrastination

By: UnrepentantNewDealer


And now, what you've all been waiting for: my inaugeral blog! (My fellow Bloggers...) I apologize for the inevitable delay. Upon being invited to join this blog my Michael Akerman, I immediately started thinking of blog ideas. I was intrigued by the possibilities of this brave new technological world. I fully intended to post my first blog quite some time ago. But there really aren't enough hours in the day and I just never got around to it because, because, well, I don't really have a convincing, reasonably plausible excuse, but if you can think of one, please let me know.

That's right: "My name is Michael Smith..."

"Hi, Michael!"

"...And I am a procrastinator."

Unfortunately, there is no cure for procrastination, nor are there any self-help twelve-step programs for us procrastinators. However, there are a number of websites that I have found to be useful, or rather websites to while away the hours that should be spent doing something productive. To wit, they are:

1. www.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-nireland/A431911
-- a hilarious Guide Entry on H2G2 (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy website)-- need I say more?

2. www.procrastinators.org/about.shtml
-- The website of the Procrastinator's Club (check out the Googleplex Project).

3. http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/twjhnst
-- The Procrastinator's Page, home of the Procrastinator's Creed.

4.www.geocities.com/mohamedqasem/myinventions/procrastinatorswatch.html
-- Interesting site about time

Well, I'll blog again when I get around to it (tomorrow, I promise)

---Michael Smith

Monday, September 01, 2003

So it ends:

By: Michael Akerman


Ed and I have decided to cut off this argument at that last post for fear of it never ending and devolving into a repetitive spewing of old arguments.

Though I posted last, don't construe it as me winning the argument or Ed giving up. I simply posted last before we decided to stop.

~Michael,
...expect more arguments like this once Smith comes on board... that kid's not very e-mail active...

This argument could go on a while...

By: Michael Akerman


Well, Ed, once again, you show an... interesting business sense and misunderstanding of psychology.

First, let me clarify. Society THINKS they hate introverts. People do not hate introverts. In fact, people are more likely to hate extroverts, as they may not only be annoying, rude, incompetent and overbearing, but also talkative and around all the time. The introverts who are annoying and overbearing are rather easy to avoid, because they're perfectly fine with being avoided. Most introverts are not incapable of interaction, because it is necessary in life. In fact, they have exactly the same capability for interaction as extroverts, but they do not garner the same enjoyment as extroverts. They are still polite, caring, helpful, and even charismatic, but they would rather not meet a lot of new people. Their communicatory skills are still evident among their friends, whom they are far more devoted to than extroverts.

Now, you say that colleges want extroverts to spread their praises by word-of-mouth. I assure you, colleges do not need word of mouth. A college's business is not based on how much its name is shouted from the rooftops, but rather the quality of its programs and its location. The only factor in college choice that is based on popularity revolves around sports teams (would so many people care about Duke or UNC-CH if it weren't for sports?), and anyone who actually cares about their education will not base their college choice on the quality of the college's sports team.

Contrarily, what a college relies on is actually success, much of which comes from past introverted students. Colleges blanket high school students with statistics: "graduates from our science programs have won 13 Nobel prizes in the last 20 years, and make, on average, $100,000 upon graduating college", etc.

Now, Ed, you obviously have a very... defined view of business, but it is narrowly applicable. While it is true that in the business field extroverts are favored, in R&D, economic analysis, engineering, and any other science or math field, introverts succeed far more than extroverts. Business owners, Presidents, and CEOs expect results from these people, and in very tangible ways. While in business, it hard or impossible to measure the true impact of a single change, it is logical and simple to do so in science or math. To gain promotions in these fields, one must create good results, a thing introverts are very good at.

The disparity in business between introverts and extroverts is an entirely different and drawn out argument, so I will not argue it here, but I will say this. You say that politics is where the important stuff happens, and that introverts can't succeed because they can't interact. Once again, this is narrow-minded and incorrect. Introverted simply means they do not enjoy certain interactions (large groups, public speaking, and the like). However, introverts are extremely strong-willed on average, and will do what is necessary to gain what they want. If an introvert wants to be a politician, they will most likely succeed just as well or better than most extroverts. They will work at public speaking, and will themselves to present a good image in public, though they will not enjoy this facet of their career. They recognize that this is necessary in their chosen field if they want to make a change and get to the point in their career that they enjoy.

Now, Ed, I am curious. How often do you hear people in public environments, without being asked, spout out what college they went to and start shouting its praises? I certainly have seldom encountered this (there was this one time with Mr. Bender, but that guy's a special case). I also assure you that if a discussion prompts an enumeration of schools attended and their benefits, an introvert will still take part. Being an introvert does not mean being a cynic, and does not mean being reserved in all situations. It also does not mean they will not take part in discussions, even if the discussion is pointless. It strikes me (suddenly, an epiphiny) that perhaps the best way to characterize introverts is not that they don't interact, but rather that they're less likely to accept a new person into their group of friends.

We humans are social creatures. We all interact. We all have to be around people. The difference is that an extrovert may enjoy going to a big party, while an introvert would prefer a small get-together with friends, or perhaps a good book.

Besides, who are people more likely to believe? The introvert who has proven themselves objective, logical, and trustworthy, or the extrovert who strives to please everyone, be politically correct, refuses to see the bad side of things, and partied through most of college?

~Michael,
...I feel like I repeated a lot in that post, but I won't change it for fear of compromising my arguments...

Sunday, August 31, 2003

A response to the response:Ah, Michael. You poor misguided teen

By: Ed


The profits of the school do not come from the successful students that graduate, but rather from the students that come because of the successful students. While some introverts may become successful, they are not normally around people and therefore are not well known by the masses. If they are well known, then they are known as jerks because, as you said earlier, society hates introverts. Colleges need WELL KNOWN, and liked people to persuade prospective students to apply. This, of course, is accomplished using the "you too can become famous" technique pioneered by so many infomercials.

Also Michael, introverts normally do lack essential social skills because they never took the time to learn them. They may not always be shy, but they can be overbearing. Normally an introvert will resort to one of these two extremes since they lack the ability to associate well with others.

My reason for saying most introverts do not succeed is simple; they don't. Only geniuses can afford to be introverts, and that lasts only as long as they are needed by their employer. This explains your Mathematicians and other scientists. The political game is where jobs, money, and most other rewards in life are won and lost. For most companies, being the bosses budy is better than being good at your job. People like this and, contrary to all logic, will prize it higher than a hard worker or smart person.

These truths are harsh, but so is the world. Suck it up and move on.
-Ed

Saturday, August 30, 2003

In response:

By: Michael Akerman


Ah, Ed. A common misconception.

To say that an introvert "rarely succeeds" is untrue. Introverts are focused on their work. Perhaps they will not be seen in the park feeding the homeless people for the cameras, and they will not become political leaders and actors, but they are society's best scientists, best mathematicians, best business owners (though not neccessarily the best CEOs) and best economic analysts.

And I believe you share the misconception that introverts are shy. On the contrary, most introverts can and will interact if it is pertinent to their area of focus. I personally do not enjoy forced interactions of this kind, but I am more than willing to go through them so I can do what I want in life.

Which brings me to my next point. I agree with you that improving the world is important. Community service should be taken into account by colleges. I will not dispute that fact. However, sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities, which one must participate in to have the best chances of going to the best schools, are meant to create enjoyment. Outside of leadership and community service (which are very important), clubs prove nothing. Leadership and community service can be acquired through different means than clubs (though leadership is still unfair to introverts. This trait is naturally tilted toward extroverts), but colleges still want "sports and other extracurricular activities" on college applications. Thus, introverts are forced to do something we do not enjoy at all so we can get somewhere unrelated to the torturous entry trial.

By my hand,

~Michael,
...I am a leader, and I do participate in community service. Boy Scouts, you know...

Extracurricular activities support

By: Ed


Perhaps some students "pad" there resume with activities requiring little or no participation on there part, but some people actually contribute and make a difference. I know because I am one of them. A college should look for these contributions as part of their admissions process.

From a humanistic point of view, everyone should be trying to better the world in some form anyway. What is wrong with helping clean a park or feed a starving family, especially when you get payment in the form of an admissions letter. It is killing two birds with one stone. Besides that, its a great way to be rewarded for being a good person.

From the colleges point of view; they are a business. This fact seems to elude those rejected as they curse the cold hearted admissions officers. The college is making an investment in their sudents. They want those who will succede to say "I went to this University" and "To be successful like me, go here". Introverts, no matter how smart, rarely succeed. They are, as Michael pointed out so correctly, hated by society. Political leaders, judges, and movie stars are the ones who go to the park and feed the cute ducks for the cameras. They are NOT introverts.

These truths are harsh, but so is the world. Suck it up and move on.

Well, that was creepy...

By: Michael Akerman


Hey Ed, how you doin'? (Heh...)

~Michael,
...folks, the closeness of those posts was not planned :)...

Ed's first post

By: Ed


Howdy. I am Ed. First let me thank Michael A. for letting me post on his blog. I am a Senior at Ragsdale high school like Michael. I am News Editor of the school paper and participate in several other community activities. While the paper does give me a forum to present my beliefs, it has a certain formality that still limits me. Therefore, I will be using this blog to present my more controversial arguments. Feel free to comment on them as you wish, because I won't be offended. If anything, I would prefer some competition.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Finally, some issues:

By: Michael Akerman


Well, it's Thursday. And I have nothing to do at the moment, so I'm going to blog a bit.

To start, issue number 1:

ANGELA'S BLOG!

(Link is to the right) Angela, in an effort to refute my blog (at least everything about her) has set up her own. Oddly, she has chosen to refute my arguments before I make them. Oh well, whatever...

In good faith, I've added a link to her site on my site. After all, everyone deserves a fair chance to present counter-arguments... even blathering, overreacting people ;).


Issue number 2:

Extracurricular Requirements for Colleges:

One thing in the college admission process confuses me: extracurricular activites.

Most people at school spend Calorie upon Calorie of energy stuffing their applications full of club memberships, club presidencies, sports, service, and other work. Upon asking why colleges care so much, I was told they want to know that you can "manage your time."

The first issue that comes to mind is the very, very small amount of invested time required in most club memberships. Now, club officers are a completely different thing (I'm Senior Patrol Leader for my troop. Leadership takes plenty of time), but many people get their extracurricular college admissions purely through low-input memberships. This is not actually the major issue, though.

The most troubling thing is the weight placed on extracurricular activities. Colleges do not seem to understand psychology very well for institutes of higher learning.

I am an introvert. I hate meeting new people, and I'd much rather be in a group of two or three friends then a large club of people I don't like. Thus, clubs are not enjoyable to me. Every once in a while, a club will cater to my interests enough for me to join, but the vast majority (especially of the more popular clubs) do not present any chance at enjoyment to me.

Society hates introverts. Sometime in the evolution of American society, it was decided that the best person was one who enjoyed yammering on with everyone in the known universe. Introverts, those who prefer a life of quiet contemplation, a few friends of like interests, and deep academic focus, were left by the wayside.

Where did this discrimination start? It has always been there. It stems from the common misconception that "introvert" means "shy." This is incorrect. Introverts are not incapable of social interaction, we simply do not enjoy it.

Many believe that simply because one is introverted, they will not work as well in situations where they must interact with others. Also incorrect. Studies show that introverts are, in fact, much more focused, and generally are more successful in working environments.

So, you see, requiring extracurricular activities is utterly unfair to introverts. The colleges gain little information of any use about someone based on their extracurricular record, but succeed in blocking many great students from attending the best schools. This reminds me of another time in American history, but we had affirmative action to fix that.

Pulling out of socio-psychological issues, I'd like to confront the logical issue. How would people respond if, to get into a professional sports team or interest club, you had to take years of exhaustive academic study? Most would be revolted by this contradiction of needs. Why should anyone be forced to do something completely unrelated to what they want to do? Of course they shouldn't, but colleges require the same. (Note: this brings up many questions about college sports, but I'll get to that later.)



I hope I've made clear the unneccessary nature of extracurricular activities. I guess I'll still troll for application padders until institutions come to their senses, because I care enough about academics to do something I don't enjoy at all to do what I love.

Expect to see more issue-driven posts in the very near future,

~Michael,
...Michael Smith should be joining sometime this weekend, for those who are keeping tabs. His invitation is sent and awaiting response...

Monday, August 25, 2003

Profiles

By: Michael Akerman


Lesse... I guess that since I've introduced myself, I should introduce my friends.

Philip Burton: The traditional "best friend" (well... not so traditional, but best friend nonetheless). Philip is the section leader of the Mellophone and Saxophone section section (the Phonies) in the Ragsdale marching band. Philip is rather religious, though nowhere near fanatic (and this is skewed, as I'm not religious to any great extent). He's deeply involved in the FCA, and often plays guitar in the meetings. I may admit him as a posting member of the blog eventually, to get his views and such. You can find his blog at http://www.thegreatBM.blogspot.com.

Tyler Hoffman: Tyler was the rich-boy section leader of the Saxophones in my freshman year and sophomore years. He came from Wisconsin, a state in which he now lives again. He was certainly the most well-to-do of all my friends, although my parents never believed he was as rich as he acted. Our friendship was and is reliant on battles of wit (i.e., making fun of each other), which sounds like a bad friendship, but, honestly, it had a strong foundation and was quite enjoyable to be in. He was the social link between my friends and once he left we basically stopped doing stuff.

Ashley Farmer: I met Ashley in my sophomore year when Tyler introduced us. Actually, it turns out I knew her in 7th grade (when she was in sixth grade) from the bus to our neighborhood (Ashley, Tyler and I all lived in the same neighborhood). For several weeks after we met, she was honestly rather mean to me, but only in public (I don't fault her for it. It's a common psychological occurence). Eventually we grew into good friends, and the group of us (Ashley, Tyler, Philip and I) would go to Fuddrucker's (more on that later), bowling, and other social stuff. Ashley is a flute player in the Ragsdale band, section leader of the flutes, and a darn good player.

Michael Smith: Michael (other Michael) is the best student of history and politics I've ever met. He, Edwin Snyder, Philip Burton and I all held deep discussions on many issues over lunch freshman year. Our most important decision we made was that time does not exist in any non-abstract sense (perhaps more on that later). Mr. Smith (we're going to Washington, D.C. this year for A.P. Government. Coincidence? I think so!) will probably also be permitted to be a poster, mostly to refute my blogs. His political views sometimes differ from mine... a bit...

Adam Wenner: The closest thing I have to a hard-core gaming friend. He is knowledgeable about computers, but he's not as dedicated as me. He's the only person I'm friends with who has Dungeon Seige.

Steven Sweeney: Now off to college, Steven was another gamer, though not to the same extent as Adam. He is outstanding as a Scout (he got 53 merit badges. That's too many). He's another person who is my friend by cross-mockery. He was in the Pit my junior year of marching band, but played sax in concert band.

Edwin Snyder: Heh... Edwin... Ed is a lawyer in Teen Court. He (like me) is a Republican. Unlike me, he is a Catholic, though he's not orthodox (we had a long discussion once on whether there are any orthodox Catholics). I'll probably make him a member of the blog as well. That rounds out the three people whose views I value most in discussions.

The Calculus III Class:

While everyone in this group is a friend of mine, in the sense that I know them and talk to them and enjoy their company, I don't quite count them as friend-friends.

Jonathan Brentnell: No. 1 in GPA in the class, and attainer of a perfect 1600 on the SAT. Jonathan is very smart, though he cares too little about academics and too much about social life in my opinion. He works as a lifeguard at the community pool.

Adam Gerken: Everybody in Calc. III thinks I hate him. I don't really. More on that later. He joined late, and doesn't really have very much academic initiative. He joined, in fact, to get away from girls who annoyed him. He is, however, good with numbers. He, too, works at the pool. Also, he played trumpet in band freshman year.

Angela Vandegrift: Interesting case study. Definitely more on her later. She's the smartest girl in our class (the Senior class, not necessarily Calc. III), but she makes some bad choices.

Kelli Carroll: Kelli Carrell (that's a nickname, right there) is the youngest in the Calculus III class, but that's largely because of block scheduling. That's not to say she's not immensely smart, by the way. Her mom runs the math program (don't ask me her title) at G-Tech, where we take the class.

Philip Burton: In a Calculus III respect, he's a bit of a strange fit. He is not as mathematically adept as the rest of the class, but he has far more determination (maybe not the right word...) then anyone else, save perhaps Kelli. He's in the class because he wants to, not so much for getting into college.

I believe that's it for now. I may add some more profiles to the blog later, but right now, I'm signing off.

~Michael,
...by the way, I used to play Alto Sax, but time constraints prevented me this year...

Thursday, August 21, 2003

The first post: Me, and me alone.

By: Michael Akerman


Ah, the infamous first post. Well, how to start?

My name is Michael (as everyone's name is now), and I harvest my reserves of knowledge at Ragsdale High School. It has occured to me that, although I contemplate deeply on many varied subjects (honestly, I'm not just embiggening myself (Thanks to G. W. for that one), I do think a lot), I have no outlet for these contemplations. As an introvert, I do not enjoy talking to crowds, and my school does not have a discussion club of any kind. Besides, people generally tend to get emotional before I can finish my thought, and they do not allow me to state my reasoning.

Blogging seems to be the perfect solution. I can organize my thoughts fully before presenting them to the masses, and people will read only my full thoughts, rather than exploding at me mid-sentence.

Before I blog off (Wow. I wonder how often that pun has been used...), a few more tidbits. I play DragonRealms (Great game. Don't come if you're not serious.), and I am a Moon Mage in said game. Mayhaps you can figure out who I am...

At any rate, I hope to keep a relatively candid blog of my thoughts on this site in perpetuity.

'Til I post again,

~Michael,
...why think, when you can blog? ...