The last few days, this pipe bomber guy has been on my mind a lot. It was especially surreal yesterday when his capture was first hitting the wires.

And by the wires I don't mean the old school image of AP or UPI teletypes clacking away in various newspaper offices around the world, spitting out cold letters for some journalist to wrestle into a piece for the evening paper or John Chancellor's Nightly News.

No, of course I mean the Internet. We live in a world of second-by-second news, constantly updating and refreshing itself as more information is made available and disseminated for a huge worldwide audience to further digest and spit back out into the void for yet more people to read.

What hit me as bizarre yesterday is that 'news' and even media itself are now participatory, interactive things. It's everyone trying to manipulate and spin everyone else, all at once. We all have access to many resources that can give us what we would call 'news' about the events around us. When the FBI released the pipe bomber's name, a simple Google search led millions to the bomber's band's web page. The band's comments page was then subjected to comments containing every meme I can think of, from Wesley Crusher slash to YOU ARE THE ONES WHO ARE THE BALL LICKERS!.

The media then picks up on this and makes this 'news', which is only 'news' in the sense that the events the media and FBI put into motion by releasing the suspect's name caused further events which the media felt obligated to report upon. It's almost fractal in the way that one large pattern breaks down and repeats itself on scales that get ever smaller.

And I was there, right in the middle of it all, watching various groups coalesce around various schools of thought about why the suspect did what he did, what his various anti-government screeds really meant, whether or not the suspect is mentally ill, even whether or not he is cuter with long or short hair!

It was surreal. It was bizzare. It was ... the world we live in today. We're given so much information that an old phrase I first heard watching Wall Street--"Information is the most valuable commodity I can think of"--means nothing. This is the Information Age? No, that age has passed, and has led to the Apathy Age. We can't adapt to all this constantly changing, constantly coming information, so we just ... dismiss most of it as noise. Some, it appears, cannot adapt at all and simply ... break down, often times with spectacular results, and all too frequently with deadly results.

It got me thinking. Here is a young man who seems to have suddenly snapped and decides that the only way for people to hear him is to start hurting others. In most of the stuff he writes, including his music, he seems very familiar with death, in fact dismisses death as unimportant, instead saying that he is 'removing' or 'dismissing' people from this reality, not killing them (thankfully his bombs didn't in actuality kill anyone). He's so disconnected from his fellow humans, he thinks murder is nothing more than a dismissal.

I discovered that while I've had plenty of experiences that suggest that there may, indeed, be something after death, or other realms of perception and manipulation, none of those experiences would stand up to any kind of test of rational thinking. It's why I call these experiences the things that give me faith ... faith in life as well as death. It's a fairly balanced outlook, for me at least. The things I experience in this life make me love life as a gift. The things that I experience that suggest that there are other ... possibilities ... give me faith that the universe works according to a structure and plan that I cannot fathom. Yet I must be part of that structure, and part of that plan. I have faith. And that faith is the one thing that keeps me from going off the deep end in times of trouble. I understood that this kid, who thinks communication is only attained through hurting others, has no faith whatsoever. And that's sad.

And then you know what I did, after thinking these thoughts?

I went outside, into an egregiously beautiful day. I sat down in my back yard and watched the little house finches feeding their young for nearly an hour. The father of the family has got quite a lovely song, and the cutest little tuft of almost DayGlo orange feathers on his butt. He and his mate sing, feed their kids, sing some more, and fly around. They seem to actually like watching the humans in my house watch them feed their brood. You almost feel like they're proud parents and they know they are.

I dismissed Luke Helder from my reality as easy as that. I didn't have to hurt anyone to do it either.

Random Thoughts Recollected After The Drive Home

As a student of English literature, I have developed a little habit of analysing (or over-analysing) a great deal of what I read, listen to, watch, etcetera.

Case in point: I have just returned home after watching the new Spider-Man film.

I had expected to enjoy it on a level, but I didn't believe that my imagination would be very punny/spinning the way it is now.

It takes about a half-hour to drive from Charlottetown to my home in Stanhope, on the North Shore of Prince Edward Island. Incidentally, it gives me time to think, daydream, sing in the car along with the radio/tape/cd/ song stuck in my head, etcetera.

Tonight, while driving, I was glancing every so often at the triangle formed by three of the planets this past month. I was thinking about the nature of villainy and heroism, of superheroes and archvillains, and of the underlying structure of the story.

I was thinking about another film, M. Night Shyamalan's decent film Unbreakable. Samuel L. Jackson's character, a comic book connoisseur, had mused about the nature of the comic book villain: almost all have over-sized heads, he explained. That certainly applies to the Green Goblin.

I recalled how much leading ladies in similar stories tend to disappoint me. Mary-Jane, the sweet girl next door, is mostly someone for Peter Parker to worship from afar, and for Spider-Man to rescue. I also found Kirsten Dunst somewhat pale as an actress, but that is a different train of thought

That's how the story goes, I know. But I remember reading Spider-Man comics when I was a kid, and wishing that the women in those stories were more interesting, in of themselves. In fact, I felt at the time that there weren't enough female super-heroes which, at least, seemed real or indentifiable enough for me. I stopped reading my brother's comics when I hit twelve, just because other things drew my imagination when they could no longer do so.

There is a small part of everyone that aspires to be the stuff of superheroes, and I have never been an exception.

These are just some remembered, incomplete trains of thought during my drive home.

echo noder

morning. some would actually hate the idea (or the fact) that it is actually 11.05 over here, which accounts as nearly noon, which again means it is not morning but me being lazy and oversleeping.
occasionaly I wonder whether my desire to write these things is not just a plain case of scribomania.
what have I got to tell? well. a great deal of things, it is just that I am vary, as often my ideas collide with the already written nodes.
so i AM an echo noder. which is a person that considers him/herself smart enough to node, but has arrived late to write about the areas he/she is familiar with, thus feeling as a slight case of underachievement.
is there help? only the time will tell.
My best friend couldn't care of I was breathing or not.

She skirts around with other people, people that I assume are more interesting than me.

And it hurts me.

Hurts me more than she'll ever know.

And I'm not blowing anything out of proportion. She is working through some issues, but it looks to me like I'm being left behind.

She is my best friend. I'm not being dramatic, I feel like I'm losing her.

I console myself in others, and she'll never know how much she hurts me. All I can ask myself is 'Am I being selfish?' and 'what have I done wrong?' which are really entirely the same question.

When I ask her if it's something I've done she says, 'No, its not you.' But I don't believe her. Friendships are not supposed to be complicated.

I'm losing my best friend, and I'm crying. It's been like this for only four days, and I'm crying.

I was told that I am a pretty sensitive guy by my best friends friend.

You spend over a year getting to know someone, and then bang, they fade away in an instant.

And I still don't know if it's me.

I look her straight in the face, and I ask her what is wrong. She tells me how crowded she is, and that I should just leave her alone, she doesn't need company.

Then she talks to most other people. Should I take the hint? Is there even a hint?

But I am crying anyway, because I miss my dear friend. And the fucking audience sighs.

It hurts me, and although I often hurt myself and blow things out of proportion, this is different.

The Palpz Update:

I finally finished my exams about a week and a half ago. I already have two of my marks in, so far I have a B and a C+ which, sadly, is better than the two best marks I got last semester.

UPDATE: All my marks are in. A in Thermodynamics (Which I failed last year), B in Numerical Methods for Engineers, B- in Mechanics of Materials, and a C+ in Fluid Mechanics. Huzzah!

I started work Monday of last week. My friend got me a job working at Totem Building Supply's Calgary area shipping yard. His father works here, and they needed someone for the summer.

The first week SUCKED.

My job is basically to clean stuff up, go out on deliveries once in a while, and help people out around the yard. However, for the first four days, all I did was sweep up gravel.

Talking with some of the guys, it seem that this is fairly common, that the first few days when someone new is hired be spent cleaning up all the gravel that has accumulated throughout the winter. I suppose maybe they figure that if you can stick around through that, that you'll stick around once it actually gets easier.

But yea gods was I sore. That and the fact that I was using muscles that I hadn't used in 1.5 years.

There was no more sweeping on Friday because there was no more gravel. Oh, and the fact it snowed a bit. There definitely wasn't any sweeping on Monday, because it snowed a LOT.

40 cm to be exact. I don't think I can remember a worse snow storm this winter. Certainly there wasn't one that I was outside in. I personally spent most of the day either clearing snow off the tops of piles of lumber, or helping people get their forklifts unstuck. Both were futile efforts, as half an hour later there was again too much snow on the lumber, and half an hour later the forklift was probably already stuck again.

Needless to say, traffic sucked. I think initial estimates were in the range of about 130 accidents that day. God I hate traffic.

So, I'm at the mall shopping for Mother's Day (she got a load of chocolate, don't tell her!) and pick up a few books at this used book sale for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Picked up a new copy of The Eye of the World, to replace the one I lost, Foundation, Dune, Neuromancer, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and Dark Force Rising, all for $10.50. However, this isn't the cool part. The cool part is that when I headed out to my car, I noticed that...

Someone had given me a Chick Tract!

Man, I love these things. I've been a fan of em ever since I ran across Space Moose's parody of Jack Chick's style a few years back. Honestly, it was funny, but not nearly as funny as the real thing unintentional as the humour may be.

So, yeah, someone had stuck a copy of This Was Your Life! into the crack between my back and front doors. This made my day. Up to this point, I had never actually seen a Chick Tract. They were just some mythical piece of propaganda that only Americans would be silly enough to think would work.

Of course, only idiotic fundamentalist Christians would actually think that these things would think that these rabid intolerant little cartoons would convert anyone with half a brain. Then again, that's probably not the point. I'm sure their target audience is those without half a brain.

I finished my finals with flying colors today. One of my professors tactfully (not so loud as to insult everyone else in the class) asked "Easy?", since I've been the first one to turn in every one of his tests this semester. I just shrugged. I lamented the other day to a friend that the only skill I have in this world is taking tests, and he seemed put off that I would be complaining, saying he wished he could be good at tests, because they're so stressful for everyone else. I guess he missed the point (probably because he actually possesses social and artistic skills, and does not think of them as such). Taking tests is not a rewarding experience. Sure, there's a thrill at knowing I'm going to ace it, and that I'm faster and smarter and "better" than everyone else around me... but the latter fizzles out as I turn around and empathize with the poor saps, completely disappearing when someone inevitably looks up at me and hates me; and the former dries up in a matter of hours, because, even though I was trained by my dear sweet mama from a young age to think the contrary, tests and grades don't really mean shit.

In fact, by any measure of happiness, they mean less than shit. I can't make friends within my department, because other students either perceive me as arrogant or someone they can use to teach them all the test material the night before the test, and I perceive myself as so abnormal and disliked and disrespected that I no longer make any effort to talk to them in the first place. It's a bad case of math brain, which causes me to over-analyze social situations to the point where I'm either boring to be around, so self-critical that I run away, or, if I get the feeling someone actually enjoys my company, I cling to them until they get sick of me.

I can't even survive in anonymous communities like this one, because I project these (admittedly baseless and foolish) opinions of myself onto people that don't exist, and use the fact that "no one likes my writing" to prevent myself from writing anything, eliminating the possibility of positive feedback and the internal destruction of the perceived tacit criticism. Of the hundreds of times I've visited this site since my last write-up, I've started some tens of write-ups and thirties of daylogs, but only when I become so full of self-deprecation that I completely stop caring about what other people think about me entirely (eg, now) do I have the balls to finish what I start. Problem is, of course, that not caring what other people think, I engage in the worst form of writing, a great steaming pile of mindless self-indulgence, whining about problems I know the solutions to but am too stubborn to admit... and so the next time I think of writing something, I probably won't even log in, fearful of the apocalyptic Ack!, and the cold, hard quantification of how many people think I suck.

So that's the bad news.

The even worse news is, this isn't even my first account on the site. I gave up on my first one long ago, but soon found myself crawling back. If you tried, you could find out what I used to be... I'm fundamentally not a writer, and not really capable of any stylistic change. But you probably have better things to do.

The good news is, having expressed myself, I feel slightly better, and nagging self-loathing will no longer prevent me from reading my book. And tomorrow, I'll wake up and ride my bike and realize life is beautiful. Funny how neurotransmitters work, ain't it?

God, what a fucking loony bin you've created here.

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