After being disturbed to learn that (a) Lance Henriksen is a potter and (b) that there is an official R. Lee Ermey doll, Ermey being the drill sergeant from 'Full Metal Jacket'... after that, I am disturbed to learn that there is a 'Fight Club' computer game in the offing, for the Playstation Two and the XBox, to be released in this year which is the year 2004. It is being made by a company called Vivendi Universal. The blurb, from the press release:

"Learn the eight rules of 'Fight Club'. In the underground world of Fight Club, the fight isn't over until someone goes limp, taps out, or is beaten. Immerse yourself in this gritty, visceral world of bare-knuckle fighting, with action, story elements and environments true to the Fight Club movie. The extreme realism of the game will make you feel every punch and kick by delivering shocking visuals, untraditional moves, and special effects in fully interactive environments.

If you notice, I have made the bits which seem ridiculous into soft-links. I shall not comment further on the thought of a computer game based on "story elements" of 'Fight Club', or of "shocking visuals" which will presumably not be shocking at all, or of the "visceral" world of "bare-knuckle fighting". It is noticeable from the website that neither Brad Pitt nor Edward Norton nor Meat Loaf have allowed their likenesses to appear in the game, presumably for the same reason that car racing games do not feature actual brand name cars being badly damaged.

From what I remember of 'Fight Club', there was more to the film than fighting, or at least there seemed to be more to the film than fighting. In retrospect, it was a very stylish film that caught my mood and that of many other people like myself, and I love it dearly, but it could have said so much more. In fact the fighting was not essential to the thrust of the plot, being merely an off-beat way of uniting a group of disappointed, disillusioned young men who had recently been made redundant from their job as an administrative assistant at Foster Wheeler Energy Limited in Reading, England. There is a website for the computer game, and it is damn well here:
http://www.fightclubgame.com/

'Fight Club' is the name of a film that was released in 1999, a long time ago. There was a tie-in novel by Alan Dean Foster, also called 'Fight Club'. Famously, Alex North recorded an entire ninety-minute score for the film that was not used. The DVD has been and gone, and I assume therefore that there are no other ways to make money from the franchise other than a computer game. I am surprised that the people of Everything2 are not aware of 'Fight Club'; it seems to have been aimed at them. Certainly it was aimed at me. I found that, after the fourteenth or fifteenth time of seeing the film, making sure to position myself in the front row, the giant screen dominating me, after this I discovered that the film was speaking to me. Or, more accurately, the characters were speaking to me. Strictly speaking, most of the characters actually spoke to each other, but Edward Norton's narrator spoke to me. And to everybody else in the theatre. I could hear him.

I've forgotten what he said. There was a penguin, I remember that. I have the film on DVD, but I haven't watched it in a long time. I bought the DVD as an object rather than as a film. It belongs in my DVD collection as a thing that I own, rather than as a thing that I watch, which is ironic given that the film's philosophy viewed the practice of hoarding material possessions in a dim light. How does Arthur C. Clarke, author of 'Fight Club', how does he view computers? Mine is a creative tool, I certainly don't own a computer in order to impress people - I built it myself from mismatched parts, and it looks like a pile of mismatched parts, and this ie because it is a pile of mismatched parts - and my lap steel guitar is also a creative tool, as is my electric violin and my digital camera. But my computer is also an object, quite a tricky thing to cart around when I have to move house. It is like a wife and a child, in that it is a burden which slows me down. I have never considered blowing up my computer. It contains the last decade or so of my creative life, digitised and stored in its electronic memory banks, just as I am digitised and stored in the memory banks of God's computer. God's memory banks are not electronic, however.

Perhaps there was a suitable game to be found in 'Fight Club', although the days when computer games designers had the kind of ambition and leeway which could have allowed such a game to enter the world are over, indeed I believe that they had been over by 1999, when the film came out, if indeed they ever were. Certainly today there is little chance of a computer game in which the protagonist demolishes skyscrapers, albeit empty ones.

One thing I noticed about 'Fight Club', the film, is that nobody actually fought with a club. It was just fists, and a shoe. No clubs.

I'm done. I'm finally done.

Couple weeks ago, I wrote my last exam ever at the University of Calgary. Oh man, does it feel good. Got my grades back in, and somehow managed to not screw it up. I'll be getting my degree in Mechanical Engineering on June 8th.

I'm not sure how to feel about this. In the desperate attempt to find a job, so I can pay off my massive student loans, I haven't really had much time to think about it. I'm still pretty much in student mode. P.S. know anyone who's hiring engineers?

I liked school, I really did. I know there were times when I complained about it and such, but let's face it, for the most part, it's nice and slack. Now I have to go find a job, where they expect me to show up *every* day. At the *same* time even. In the morning! None of this getting the notes from someone else anymore.

Not to mention that the last 5 years of my life have certainly had the most impact really upon my development as a person. Since I started University 5 years ago, I have gained 35 pounds, lost my virginity, (kind of) learned how to behave in social situations, joined a Fraternity, moved out of my parent's house, gotten a tattoo, and pretty much changing my worldview on a great deal of subjects. The shy skinny geek I was in high school has been replaced by a ... not so shy, slightly tubby geek.

I don't know what I'm going to end up doing. I might end up working for some Oil and Gas company (I am an Engineer in Alberta after all), or might end up joining the Navy.

But whatever I end up doing, I have a feeling that it's not going to be nearly as much fun as University was. Oh well...

At least it'll be nice to start making some money.

It's amazing: the normally pretty pro-Bush weekly "the Economist" (after last week demanding Donald Rumsfeld's resignation) this week wrote "the neo-conservative moment is surely drawing to a close".

This is the first sign that the Economist (which is, although economically quite neo-liberal, pretty conservative in an american "republican" sort of way when it comes to foreign policy) finally realising that the current US administration is not tolerable (and never has been) to represent the western world and ethics, and - which is the worst thing for the Economist and its readers- it is upsetting the world markets.

Another little sign of the growing unease of the Economist with the republicans is the publication of an extract of a study called "IQ and the wealth of Nations" by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen, which showed that the 7 US states with the highest average IQ (between 113 (Conneticut)and 105) voted Al Gore while the 10 with the lowest IQ's (90 to 85. Mississippi, how low can you go?) voted Bush.

Case closed.

Today, I witnessed an assault on good taste, logic, and creativity. It was perpetrated by somebody who I thought was intelligent and well-read, and it occurred in our creative writing clase (where we were supposed to improve our writing). A student's piece included a mention of a character reading Spawn, a rather bad comic book. The detail fit the character and the setting well, but the tutor suggested the reference be changed to Batman. I pointed out that that changed things, so the tutor responded by asking how many people in the class knew what Spawn was. Two people raised their hands.

Somehow, this was taken as evidence that the piece should be changed. How did such a person fall prey to the idea of writing by committee? This wasn't revision for clarity or plot-- this was revision so that certain people wouldn't be confused. It actually removed something that would improve clarity for the sake of 'accessibility.' This was a command to write for the lowest section of the audience. Hell, he was holding us to a 'higher' (lower) standard then many of the writers he admires, who write for specialized audiences with specialized readers.

What's wrong with giving readers or critics the chance to puzzle things out for themselves? Many great works of literature are deliberately obscure, but even popular fiction calls on outside knowledge for effect. We live in a postmodern world; we can't deny the influence of popular culture. A much better solution would be to identify them as 'comics' and, if their content becomes a plot point, maybe explain it later... but in a short narrative, letting the deeper implications be found out by those ?in the know? would probably suffice.

If I receive any suggestions of this nature I'll probably disregard them (if they are without merit), but I wonder how many others are being given the same advice in courses across the country and across the world? Much of the literature I love-- Joyce, Borges, Dante-- gets part of its spice from the knowledge and erudition displayed by the authors. There's always something that needs puzzling out, referencing, or annotating. Remove the references and may get more 'clarity' but you also remove some of the depth and beauty.

This is not to suggest that stories just be pastiches or parodies of previous works (though such a technique can work in cinema). Rather, its a protest against any form of 'democratization' or 'anti-elitism' that forces upon people a stifling mediocrity. For further reference, see Kurt Vonnegut, Harrison Bergeron.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You usually see her in class, but she skipped it today (she told you beforehand, so you took notes for her about how your lecturer has a dog named Byron and writes bad poetry inspired by Billy Joel), so you waited for her before another class. You're talking to somebody else; time slows down and your energy is diverted; she brushes by with her smile and her nice coat, and then she has to be somewhere and she's skipping again on Wedensday; you make a quick joke about how you confessed a bit too much to her a few weeks ago and she's gone, and you say "call me" to her back, and then, as your heart sinks, you swear like a Mamet play: Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck as you realize that it is very probable you've been caught, again.

There's too much junk about unrequited crushes on E2, some good, much tiresome, and this better not turn into that. Many of my cultural references are evidence of insecurity and lack of confidence in myself; i know that now

Okay, so I'm not the biggest fan of George W. Bush and his neoconservative politics. I think a lot of times he doesn't represent me, the typical financial conservative, with his "bring it on" foreign policy and general lack of long-term planning. In any case, I still vote in Texas, which is roughly 65% Republican.

That having been said: heisenberg, the jig is up.

The IQ by states table that has been thrown around the Internet as of late is a hoax. (People have asked where they can view the table: one site is http://americanassembler.com/features/ - scroll to the near bottom.) It was conceived by some joker, who stole a table that had states ranked by income per capita, and then simply fudged some numbers for their various IQs. They were even so confident in people's inability to read and discover for themselves, that they attributed the table to a source: IQ And the Wealth of Nations, an important book by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen about the discrepancies between intelligence and economic output in modern society.

The book itself is a fairly dull (yet vastly important, if my World Politics professor is to be believed) read, focusing entirely too much on the economic plight of the Third World, and then waxing apologetic about the inherent cultural and class bias in the typical IQ test and how this sort of "cultural gap", where countries like Hong Kong that have an average IQ of 106 while Ethiopia languishes at 67 simply means that Hong Kong is more culturally similar to the other more industrialized nations and therefore their economies align and prosperity ensues.

My miniature book review aside, the important thing to remember is that this book compares the IQs of nations, not states. There is no table in any of the book that has any reference to the various IQs of the American States. The source cited, in fact, does not contain the data cited. Hoax Element #1.

But perhaps the data is factual, while the source was merely added to give it more weight than another would? Well, if you have access to any National Educational Assessment scores, or SAT scores, across the states, you'll see that, in truth, intelligence among the states is most closely associated with - drum roll - racial percentages of population. Yes, states like North Dakota, Utah, Minnesota, and Connecticut, which are predominantly white, all perform significantly better on these tests (and therefore presumably IQ, a similar metric) than states like Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia, all of which have large populations of minorities. Yet while the correlation between minority populations and income is also extant (and thus the original income by states ranking remains somewhat valid for discussing intelligence), the chart as posted places states like Utah and North Dakota extremely low on the list, when in fact they are some of the most highly "intelligent" states in America. Hoax Element #2.

So, the data is fudged, and the source is a lie. The question now remains: who put on the charade? There are only two real possibilities. The first (and perhaps most obvious) is that some malevolent trickster preyed on liberal sensibilities about Bush (and by extension, conservatives) being stupid, and made up this chart for their amusement. But the second, and more insidious charge, is that someone made up this chart to prove that both sides will jump on any information, factual or otherwise, to somehow stake their claim to superiority in the great political debate of our times. The fact that this chart has been summarized without a wink by The Economist, one of the most highly touted newsmagazines in the entire world, is particularly damning towards their legitimacy, since it took me only 10 minutes to verify myself (by picking up my old copy of IQ and the Wealth of Nations) that the table did not exist as stated.

For years, a number of academic liberals (I do not use this word in the pejorative sense, merely the ideological one) have claimed that IQ tests are worthless, racially and economically biased and too often used merely for social and political purposes. For further reading on how IQ tests have shifted from an almost entirely leftist paradigm of meritocracy and environment-neutral social mobility to its current stigmatization as a polarizing and unfair examination, read Michael Young's The Rise of Meritocracy, or for a less biased historical take, Adrian Woolridge's Measuring the Mind. Both of these books have been adapted into college classrooms for the past twenty years. You would be hard pressed to find a self-declared liberal stating that IQ tests are fair and represent true intelligence.

And yet, when the numbers turn in their favor, see how quick they are to jump on its merit in expressing some sort of truism about American politics. This is called having your cake and eating it, too, and frankly, it doesn't sit well with me. It has seemed almost strikingly obvious that IQ tests are culturally biased towards the wealthy, who have easy access to books and knowledge bases (witness that nearly 40% of America does not have regular access to the Internet, and this is heavily biased towards whites, urban areas, and the affluent) and are rarely forced to work until after they have finished college, thus giving them free time to prepare themselves academically.

I've discounted IQ tests for as long as I could remember. I quickly debunked this list as well, for giving Connecticut an IQ of 113 - which is almost patently ridiculous, since IQ is mutable in large populations (i.e. everyone tends towards 100) and such a mean (with the common IQ standard deviation of 15) suggests that 84% of Connecticut have above average intelligence. If you don't mind me saying so, ha ha ha. Under the same metric, 84% of Utah is below average intelligence. For emphasis: HA HA HA.

But people will believe what they want to believe (and sometimes post it in prominent international journals), and this will make IQ tests increasingly worthless over the years. Ten years ago, two Harvard professors wrote a book expounding IQ as the right way to "judge" people for worth called The Bell Curve. In the book they stated that while IQ was culturally biased, it was science's goal to simply remove the bias, while keeping the importance of IQ intact. Such folly has been perpetuated for hundreds of years, and now it is the liberals who are continuing this nonsense. Such folly need not be perpetuated any more, needs to fade away, so that we can truly judge people by the content of their character; let's hope sooner rather than later.

Last night, I was relaxing in my apartment in lovely Cambridge, Massacusetts, when I happened to notice that my entire street was lined with satellite trucks, logos of various news organizations proudly emblazoned on their sides. More to my interest, I heard the roar of a loud and boisterous crowd outside. I wondered briefly what in the world was going on. Then I remembered: the first gay marriage applications were being filed.

Across the street lies the Episcopalianesque stone of Cambridge City Hall, a towering building surrounded by a nice, grassy expanse of lawn frequented by people escaping the bustling urbanity of Central Square. After convincing my girlfriend to head outside and check out the goings-on, it was something to see that wide verdant knoll covered with hundreds, if not thousands, of gay marriage supporters. It was a sight to see: kids running around with little glow-sticks around their necks, people holding signs that said "Mozel Tov" or "See, Chicken Little-the sky is not falling", and the like. Irish dancers. Belly dancers. Students by the bucketload. Media everywhere, from national networks down to the indie hustlers of community television. Everyone chanting, clapping, singing "God Bless America". It was amazing, and spirit-uplifting.

There was a long arcade barricaded off from the crowd, stretching from the corner of Inman St. and Mass. Ave., continuing down the middle of the sidewalk by the bus stand, bisecting the green, and ending at the footstops of City Hall. And the line: what a line, filled with couples happily in love and about to consumate their lifetime dreams at last. It was a wonderful thing to see, and the crowds wished them the best, with the line frontage aswarm with well-wishers and people cheering. The air was tingling with anticipation, as if there was a palpable sense of history in the making.

It drizzled a little, then it died down.

On the SW side of Mass. Ave. was a small knot of people brandishing "God Hates Fags!" and the absolute worst "Thank God for 9-11". The individual holding this sign, I later saw on the news, was making it a point to step on the American flag. There were only five or six such people, while the overwhelming majority of the crowd was full of support and hope. It was really quite something to see. Amazing that there were so many open-minded people in one spot. Horns honked from supporting cars. (Honking happened seven times a minute, instead of the usual three, is how I know).

I looked down at my girlfriend, who was laughing and cheering and filming it with her latest video camera, and I wondered what it would be like to not be able to marry her, something that is considered totally "natural" and "sanctioned" by God. It would kill me, literally kill me. It feels so right to want to be with somebody, regardless of what gender they are or what they look like. That was why I was down there. I may be the typical white, straight, Christian male beneficiary of conservative society, but screw it. I spurn it. I just want my fair share, and I want everyone else to have the same share I have. That's democracy.

Looking at the crowd, the sea of well-meaning faces, it hit me how proud I am to live in Massachusetts. What a wonderful, exciting, progressive, dynamic state. Sure we have our ups and downs, but we were first to do this in the country, joining a long list of firsts that truly makes us one of the best places to live. People complain, call us "Taxachusetts", "bleeding heart liberals", "fag enablers" (to quote one sign), but everyone down there was well-educated, well-spoken, and in the light of the vitriolic signage across the street, calm and well-adjusted. These are the kind of people that make America great, that give a glimmer of hope to the four grim years of George W. Bush, enforced morality, and theocracy.

It was a beautiful night, a wonderful thing to see: the closest I will ever come to watching history unfold before my very eyes. It wasn't as dramatic as the Berlin Wall coming down, but it will be worth telling the grandkids about.

God bless America.

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