Friday, October 2, 2009

My Essay That Didn't Win Anything

I wrote an eight-page essay for a scholarship contest. It didn't win.
Here are two paragraphs from my essay that didn't win anything:

Human society is a complex system, which is to say, it is not predictable; in order to know what the effect would be of a given input, it is necessary to actually experiment and find out what happens, which in turn changes the system such that if the experiment were repeated, it might have a different outcome. Not to assert that society is utterly chaotic and completely unpredictable; of course it isn't. The people of a society are able to feel secure that certain things will remain the same from day to day; this is one of the functions of a society. People within the society work to keep the society alive and functioning, there are necessary roles which support society; for instance, food production and distribution is necessary in any society, from hunter-gatherer, to complex post-industrial. In our society, that is, Portland, Oregon, we depend on a technologically advanced infrastructure to support our way of life. We need roads and houses and electrical power and computer networks. And these require constant maintenance, and this maintenance is done by the people of the society; thus they impact society, and society impacts them.
Not everyone works directly on the maintenance of the technological infrastructure. It is safe to say, I think, that most people don't, and some people are not even aware that it happens. I will add that maintenance of infrastructure is not the most important task imaginable, nor is it the defining element of civilization; the infrastructure is part of the foundation, it should not be the most interesting part of a society. Raising children and creating beautiful buildings and parks and making music and respecting the rule of law and enjoying one another's company are some of the things that happen in a healthy society. Those are the things that "make life worth living". Yet the infrastructure is necessary, in our modern society, to all those happy events. Without roads and communications networks and good drinking water the society would not have a place to be, and do those things, that show people at their best.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Buying Compact Discs

I like to buy music cds.
Online, or downtown on SW 13th, or in St. Johns at the Vinyl Resting Place.
The Best Band You Never Heard Of, a Frank Zappa album that I had read good reviews of, is one that I found recently. At $21.00, it was a big disappointment. Maybe it was a badly engineered copy? I like the Zappa music, mostly; Trance-Fusion, Shut Up and Play Your Guitar, Hot Rats; those are great albums. The Best Band, though, was so bad that I am afraid to listen to any Zappa albums right now.
-Update: 20 November; I listened to Guitar; totally awesome!

Etta James, The Right Time. Charlie Parker, In a Soulful Mood. I bought those today in St. Johns, and they are both awesome (if you like that sort of thing. and I do).


To Hell With Room 101

I saw a reference today to Room 101, which is of course the terrible place Winston Smith is taken to for the crime of being a protagonist in a dystopian novel. In Room 101, one is confronted with one's worst fear, and not in a good way that allows you to benefit from the experience and overcome your phobias, no, but in a bad way that forces you to betray someone close to you (if you didn't have someone close to you, someone would be provided, I suppose). This is clearly a waste of the fictional taxpayer's money. People aren't that tough, mostly. We find plenty of opportunities to be hurt, and to hurt others, without some special room, and some special technique, being devised to hurt us. In short, to hell with Room 101. And to hell with 1984. George Orwell wrote far better works than that, it's a damn shame that he is best known for that wretched horror story.

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Machiavelli "The Prince" Chapter XX part 5 Wordcloud

Wordle: Machiavelli "The Prince" Ch. 20

Title Generator

Random Title Generator by Maygra (based on a design by Jellyn)

Random Title Generator

If this generates a title of a book or short story already in existence, I assure you, it was completely random. If it generates a title you'd like to use, go right ahead! A word of thanks to those people who have created Javascript tutorials or put sample scripts up for people like me to see and learn from. (NOTE: There are a lot of words in this, some adult in nature. Just words, folks!)

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