This is a red letter day, as it is my second anniversary as a noder. Two years ago today (after browsing around E2 as "Guest User" for several weeks), I decided to create an account so that I could begin posting writeups. Little did I know that fateful day that my whole life was about to change.

A quick glance at my nodeshare will show that I'm not a frequent poster of daylogs, but I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some reflections on this milestone... even though it probably has no significance to anyone but me.

Damn! Two years. In a way, it doesn't seem like it's been that long. Two years really isn't that long, relative to my age. But in a different sense, two years was another lifetime ago. When compared to some of "The Old Ones" on the site, it's no big deal, until I remember that most of them had only been around for that long when I first joined the site... and they were "The Old Ones" back then, too.

It's kind of hard to summarize what this web site has done for me, and how it's changed my life. That sounds kind of odd when I read it to myself, but I can't think of a better way to put it. Let me try to count the ways:

  • In the beginning, E2 rekindled my love of writing for fun, and revitalized my interest in research just for the sake of knowledge. The light in my slowly rusting brain began to glow again, and my atrophied willingness to think critically returned, much to my delight.

  • E2 consumed more and more of my time as I fell victim to its sweet addictive properties, and weaned me off of watching television. This is no small feat, and for that alone I am exceedingly grateful.

  • It introduced me to an online community unlike any I had ever encountered in all my years as a denizen of the Internet. What's more, I actually liked most of these people called noders, and they seemed to like me too.

  • The more I contributed, the more I wanted to contribute. Sure the votes and XP were fun and competitive, but I quickly realized that I was building a reputation based on the quality of my work. This was clearly more important than a bunch of imaginary numbers.

  • The people who are Everything2 compelled me to want to meet them. They did this through nothing more than the power of their own words, and the fact that some of them were getting together one weekend. Incredibly, I got on a plane and flew to Boston to meet and stay with a bunch of people I had never even seen. I had never done anything like that before in my life, and I loved it. Something almost magical was happening.

  • Shortly after that (and in no way connected to it), I was given the great honor of being "endorsed" by the administration. Any thoughts of giving up on this hobby quickly vanished. Not only was I vested, but I now had cool and scary powers. It was like E2 was shiny and new again.

  • Then we lost Adam. This was incredibly hard, but it made me realize that I really cared a lot more about these people from the Internet than I had previously believed. They weren't just imaginary friends who lived in a window on my computer screen. They were real, with real problems and real lives that were very much like my own. I had made some deep bonds with these people, and they mattered as much or more to me than the people I worked with or the people down the block that I called friends.

  • As my responsibilities on E2 changed, my perspective on the site did as well. I became less of a noder and more of a caretaker of the nodegel. I took the job very seriously... maybe a little too seriously sometimes. Learning how to exercise good judgement within the context of virtual chaos has resulted in no small amount of valuable personal development on my part. For that, I am grateful.

  • I went to a few more noder gatherings, and finally hosted one of my own. There are so many things you can learn from people when you're with them in person that just can't be conveyed through our super-cool whizbang database and messaging system. And I have found that the more time you spend with noders, the better it gets.

  • Gradually, I began to realize that my world view was changing. I was now traveling to E2 events on a regular basis. As I continued to meet new people, I was being exposed to different viewpoints and personalities that were quite a contrast from the white bread Southerners in my neck of the woods. It was eye-opening, and deep within my soul, a sleeper awakened.

  • Through my exposure to and extended immersion in this web site, I have come to discover a world of possibilities for my life that I once considered to be out of reach. I have formed friendships that are as meaningful and rewarding as any I have ever experienced. And I have found the courage and the support system to take a giant leap of faith. E2 and its amazing writers really shook me up, baby, and made me finally realize that you can do anything you want in your life. And that it's not some abstract "you" that they're talking about. It's me. And surprise! It's you, too. Yeah, I mean YOU, goddammit. Are you listening?

Everything2 has encouraged me to grow as an individual, and has taught me a few important things about life. One of them is that a human being becomes a person through the sum of his or her life experiences. I guess I already knew that, but the degree to which this is true had never really come to the forefront of my understanding.

Draw a circle on a map, beginning anywhere, and it will contain the entire world as experienced first-hand by at least one person who lives within it. Some people have their circle expanded for them at an early age, being drug around behind nomadic parents or caretakers. Some choose to expand their circle themselves, through military service or academic studies at some far-flung university. And some people stay close to home, venturing only so far that they can easily return in a day's travel by ground. For them, television, books, music and the Internet provide an opiate nipple for the outside world, and assuage their feelings of wanderlust. Or so it was for me.

But now I'm living in California and starting over, building a whole new life. I sold my house, paid off my debts, quit my job, and hit the Road to Nowhere. I drove 2,850 miles across the United States, with all of my worldly possessions in a 15-foot truck, to sunny Santa Barbara. Now I'm free. And I couldn't have done it without this web site, and the people I got to know here. I'm expanding my circle, and sooner or later, you'll be inside. (I've met 250 of you as of this writing, and I'm not done yet!)

So it's a happy anniversary. Two years on E2! I must be doing something right, 'cause they went and promoted me a few months ago. I guess they want me to stick around for a while. Here then, a toast: To Everything2 and the wonderful potential it holds. May we each give it all our best, for it has the power to enable us to seek life's great potential.

I am often amused by the warning signs of chaos.

People are very much amusing. They wander about the face of this Earth and impulsively react to whatever might be going on around them. It is most entertaining. I look to the appearance of things like "freedom fries" and grin broadly. Chaos is coming. Let me get this straight. Maybe I misunderstand the concept of freedom. I am, after all, very naive. Freedom to me means the ability to think and act in accordance with your own beliefs and not be tied to a way of thinking that is prescribed for you. Freedom from the tyranny of old monarchies and empires that dictated what you were to think and do. So, one nation, the self-professed standard bearer for this concept of freedom, declares that the world must act in unison on a problem that concerns it. Another nation has a different viewpoint on the topic and exercises its freedom of speech and its freedom to disagree. This nation is judged to be opposed to freedom for doing so and products that inadvertently bear the name of that nation are changed. The name of that country and its people are removed and the word "freedom" is put in its place. Why? Because they disagree with the standard bearer for freedom and thus must be opposed to freedom. What kind of freedom are we talking about, anyway? The freedom to do what you are told?

Let me get this straight.

Now remember, I am very naive and have trouble remembering where I parked my car, so bear with me here. One nation seeks to punish, by force, another nation that in its mind has violated the commandments of a worldwide collection of nations. When that worldwide collection of nations threatens not to endorse the use of force against this nation, the nation that desires to use force says it will disregard the commandments of the collection of nations and act on its own to punish the other nation for disregarding the commandments of the collection of nations. It decries the proliferation of "weapons of mass destruction" and then proudly unveils its own new weapon of mass destruction. Oh, I forgot, this is the standard bearer for freedom in the world, so it is important for this nation to have weapons of mass destruction so they can enforce the principles of freedom throughout the world. My fault. My bad.

I'm probably just confused.

If you authorize the use of military force to launch a pre-emptive strike against a nation that has behaved very badly in the past to make certain they don't behave badly any more, doesn't that open the floodgates to doing the same thing in three dozen other countries worldwide? Isn't it a little too easy to come up with justifications to attack a nation using this foundation? I guess if you do something that the standard bearer of freedom doesn't like, they can find some justification. They'll talk about how a new regime needs to be in place because the old one was bad. Is a forced regime change in the best interest of the people of a nation? Of course. Such plans worked out marvelously well for the people of a number of Central American nations back in the 1980s. Opposition was crushed and freedom reigned. It could not be questioned or doubted. Isn't that what everyone wants? Unopposed freedom? One unquestionable voice of freedom? Of course. That would be rad.

Chaos is coming.
Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?

My open letter to men and women in relationships (either dating or married)

Gents: Do you have friends? This is not sarcasm, I ask of you: Do you have friends? Do you realize when you get so infatuated with your significant other you enter this tunnel vision? And gentlemen, you know I'm not speaking to all of you but if you don't know who I'm talking to, then try to see if it's you. This tunnel vision causes you to walk through life focused on seeing that one S.O. every waking moment. Do you know they can breathe on their own? I'm concerned you don't. I really am. Do you have object permanence? You do know that just because you can't see them they still exist right?

Ladies: Do you know your S.O. has friends? I know you know you have friends, but did you know he used to too? They are not dry land... they are far from myth. You realize when you spend that 25th night in a row needing to see him for that brief period that he is still leaving friends out to dry? I do not blame you ladies; most don't realize it, as is my experience. You know how you value your friends? How you feel like you need them just as bad as you need your S.O.? He craps on that for you. I know, I know, you never asked him to, but somehow he's convinced you cease to exist when he wants to spend a Friday night with the guys. Look, cut him some slack; lay off the guilt trips, or whatever it is that makes him have co-dependence with you.

I call it an open letter. Feel free to reply. Don't expect magical "oh wow, you are so right" from me, because odds are it won't happen. I'm jaded. Deal with it. I do.

Noung's reflections on the Iraq crisis and the U.N. crisis

Usually I node history, and I node it objectively. This isn't history, it's pure conjecture, but I did consult numerous sources. Make what you like of the following, it's just a view that I think needs recording. For the history books.

It's hard to know what we should be more worried about at the moment: the fury about to be unleashed against the largely innocent population of Iraq, or the crisis in the United Nations Security Council. Depending on who you ask, one of two terrible things is going on in the Security Council at the moment. You ask a lot of people, they'll tell you the United States is blatantly ignoring the will of the World, and bullying and coercing what members it can into bending to its immovable will. Personally, I subscribe to a slightly different view.

The United Nations Security Council has been a talking shop for quite a while. I didn't realize this, and when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein sent a letter to the Security Council calling it a "kitchenhouse" (Lenin once called the League of Nations the same thing) I thought, "How wrong you are, Hussein! The will of the World is finally going to disarm you." How wrong I was. The United Nations has imploded, and if Hussein has achieved nothing else, he has destroyed Western unity. France have a lot to answer for in this regard, as well.

The idea that "no-one wants war, and the United States is pushing them into it" is incorrect. Most countries don't have moral agendas. We'll return to France in a minute, but let's look at the current rotating (non-permament) members of the Security Council, and how much moral legitimacy they have. Here you go: Angola, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Germany, Mexico, Pakistan, Spain and Syria. Doesn't anyone see this as a problem? Want me to explain?

A lot of these states are poor, they're nasty, they're unstable, they're whatever. So-called "failed nations" like Syria are especially poor, nasty, and unstable. But now, suddenly, this state, with its plethora of international terrorist links, is required to give legitimacy to a war against Iraq, its sister rogue state! Oh, what idealism, did we honestly believe this system could work? We have reduced the United States to travelling around the lands of tin-pot dictators, offering them rewards and incentives for backing military action to oust another tin-pot dictator. And all this after several resolutions have already been passed saying he should be removed if he is found to be in material breach of them, which he demonstrably has!

There is your "international law." It'd be easy to say the United States has debased this system by offering bribes and incentives - but that's not really the case. The rational self-interest of nations doomed it from the start. Its interesting to note how U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 was passed unaminously, with the phrase "all necessary means" (and we all know what that means), but for the next resolution there's a problem. What factor is different? The fucking French.

I support a nation's right to do as it wishes, in its own rational self-interest. This is just what Great Britain has chosen to do in supporting the United States - the Anglo-American alliance is crucially important for us, and pretty important for America. France, with a President who wields more personal authority than any French President since Charles de Gaulle, has apparently chosen a path that he believes is in his country's own self-interest, and it is one very hostile to America. Not just passively in opposition to America, actively hostile. Franco-American relations are ruined, and likely will be for a long time. I think I have an idea what Jacques Chirac's plan was, and I can see in what ways it has failed. He must really be kicking himself right now.

Chirac, it seems, wanted to set himself up as the "far more moral than thou" leader of resistance to American will, gathering his little flock of Eastern European states behind him and spearheading an assault also including the Russian Federation and China. What could be more telling than when he told the Eastern European nations that they should have "taken the opportunity to keep quiet" when they sent a letter to America in support of her? All nations are equal within our system of international law, except when Monsieur Chirac wills it so! Two other things have sealed their fate, and helped to hamper their credibility still further. One was saying they would never vote through a resolution authorizing the use of force. What idealism, what inflexibility, what stupidity. The joke's on them though, because they already did. Rejecting the new proposal from the Anglo-Spanish camp before Iraq had even rejected it didn't help their cause, either. And now they're flying around the World, trying to get tin-pot dictators to support them in opposing the overthrow of another tin-pot dictator. Their desperation is such that I've seen some journalists wondering if there are documents in Iraq that France don't want the rest of the World to see, and I'm starting to consider this myself.

It is not likely the United States will go through the United Nations next time. They're only still there now because Tony Blair needs them to be so very, very badly. Tony Blair could turn out to be a victim of this system, because of the one real power it still has: the power to appeal to the public. There is now quite a large camp, particularly in the British Labour Party, who say "Sure, we'll support a war on Iraq... so long as the United Nations does as well." I find this really hard to understand - can't they make their own decision, why do they need to absolve themselves of the responsibility of making a decision and pass it onto the U.N.? Especially when they've seen how quickly its mind can change! What legitimacy can possibly be sourced from the Council, given its members, and what they really base their decisions on?

I don't know what's next for the Security Council. My father keeps telling me its finished. I'm not so sure - I think it has the will to perpetuate itself. But the last real power it has, that power to give something legitmacy in the eyes of the public, could have its days numbered. In a year, when this is all over, if it's gone right for them, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair will be heroes. I realize that there are many of you who won't see them as this, but what matters is what the majority of the public think. When WMD are discovered in Iraq, the truth of his brutal regime reported for all to see clearly, I can't see the French being hailed as benevolant guardians of freedom and democracy. Hopefully their pretentions will vanish, although I sadly can't say I'm too hopeful on that point...

I don't take cracks at poetry very often, so I cannot completely vouch for the quality of this piece, but the words just seemed to be there for this one.

Dreaming of Happiness

And now it's time to go to sleep,
Where in my dreams, the memories I keep.
To dream of days for which I long,
To dream I fixed what went wrong.

For in these dreams I find sweet bliss.
Recalling things I dearly miss.
But tomorrow will come when I arise,
And it is then that I'll realize...

The dreams from which I just awoke,
Have disappeared like a wisp of smoke
And sadness envelops me once again,
Til next eve comes and my dreams begin.

Today, I spoke with a fled E2 user. We didn't talk about very much, actually. I questioned him as to his reasons for quitting the site of all sites, and he did not want to talk about it. I respect that.

Then, it occurred to me that in some ways, I feel as if I'm losing touch with whatever the goal of E2 is--the direction in which it's travelling. Where we are, as a community, going from here. If I could place my dislikes and these feelings creeping up my brain-stem, I'd do exactly that. Maybe it's got something to do with the fact that I'm two years old now. This daylog is a vague attempt to explain to myself my own misgivings.

My writeups, by and large, are decent content. I don't know if they are excellent, good, great, bad, terrible, awful, deplorable, hopeful musings, light-hearted ramblings, atrocious space-takers, or even phenomenal leaps into what's insufficiently referred to as "the human condition," but I doubt my content is any of the above. Just okay, in my estimation--ho-hum, bland, average. Plain. Beyond that, I do not know if I'm fitting into the status quo insomuch that my content is on the same wavelength as everyone else's. I do not know if, given time, I will have to leave because my literary direction differs immensely from that of the website itself and the people it serves. Others have left. Many, many others. I don't begrudge them that, in any way. A person's choice is a person's choice and who am I to complain and say, "O, you were wrong to do this"? I'm no one.

Still, I remain confused as to why I feel left out, passed over. I feel as if I have a great many good writeups to contribute--and rest assured, I will--but at the same time, I wonder as to the purpose of it all. I find it difficult to fathom why I'd feel this way; my writeups get love, I get many good comments on them. I have mentored, so far, four different noders: all of them have done well, and are foraging ahead through this database faster than I have. I have great hopes for the noder I am presently mentoring. He will be unleashed upon you all shortly, to be sure. I have spoken at length with the powers-that-be regarding any and all matters of E2 import. Even the unimportant. It doesn't matter to me; I bring up any and all topics I feel need to be addressed. I expect no less from anyone else; if you're not happy, seek change.

But what is this change? Where are we going? Who's going to fall back, unable to keep up? Largely, the honor roll system has been implemented, but I wonder if it's changed anything at all. Sure, I'm a level higher, and while that's great, it changes nothing, because as we all know, experience points mean nothing.

It is my opinion that we are raising the bar a little too far for people who are only dipping their toes into E2, judging the temperature. E2 is not everything, and I am glad it's not--if I had to wade my way through every single one-liner, vague Linux tidbit, inane ex-memes from the days of E2 yore, I'm jump into the ocean, never to return. I do not have a problem with replacing six miniscule writeups with one comprehensive writeup, covering all facets of a topic, just so long as those six miniscule writeups are covered in every possible way within the comprehensive writeup.

When I got here, there were many more jokes on E2, along with humorous little anecdotes from people's lives. There were more limericks and haikus. There were Magic: The Gathering cards. I can see the point in deleting a vast majority of this information. Some limericks are not only bad, they're unfunny. Many people cannot grasp the difficulty of writing a decent haiku. Magic: The Gathering card writeups, in my opinion, are only bad form because they effectively duplicate the content found on cards, and this infringes upon copyrights owned by Wizards of the Coast. By this rationale, I suppose that any and all writeups containing song lyrics should be destroyed, as we're hopelessly cutting and pasting (or perhaps "listening and copying") copyrighted material which (rightfully) belongs to John Hiatt, or whoever.

Still, arguments like the one I'm mentioning will proceed until the end of time. Everything really isn't everything, and I'm happy it's not. Maybe we're cutting too much content out, sure, that's possible. Maybe we're not culling quite enough: also possible. I love E2, that much is certain, so if anyone could help quell my fears about what's going on, feel free to send me a /msg. I'd love to hear from you. I don't know if they told you this when you fell through our front door, people, but we are responsible for the content. And the staff, you're responsible for them, as well. You are them. Upvotes and downvotes are here for a reason, it's true. Downvote if you must (but please send a message to the author and speak to them before you do). Upvote if you want to (and it never hurts to send them a note at this time, either). Place your C! on their writeup, too, if you deem it worthy. Regardless of what's being deleted, there's a cardinal rule I've learned over my now two years here:

You are fully and completely permitted to not read anything you see here.

Often, that's just the best way to go, and the most effective way of regulating content--don't bother with it.

Thought of the Day: Alienation

Many feel that to be a true intellectual, one must be alienated. As I grow older, I am struck by how much of a cop-out this is.

For the irreconcilably alienated, courage consists of leaving one's society and starting a new one, while there's still time. To paraphrase George Clinton, "It ain't illegal...yet"! But judging by how rarely this happens, intellectuals are all cowards...or else they sense that their society has the potential for good, and are unwilling to give up on that.

In which case, it seems more honest, and courageous, to dare to admit to oneself that one is part of one's society, while acknowledging the need for that society to change. This is daring, and difficult, for many reasons, but especially because one must embrace cognitive dissonance, while somehow maintaining integrity. This is particularly difficult for those intellectuals who favor moral relativism, because they must admit there are worse sins than hypocrisy (the cardinal sin of the intellectual!)

Sure, this has all been said before...but it deserves to be revisited from time to time...have a nice day.

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