Coffee Shops

As you can tell by my profile, I live in Austin. In Austin we have a lot of coffee shops. Not an overabundance, but there's always one when you need it. One in particular that I like to frequent is Ruta Maya. This place is indicative of the atmosphere that most of these little local coffee houses convey. It's the "screw-corporate-establishment-yadda-yadda-yadda."

This is the root of the only problem that I have with these types of places. The people who work there. Apparently there is this notion that if you look nice at work, then you are part of "the corporate machine" or something like that. I tell you now that there is nothing wrong with looking like a professional at work.

I want to start a coffee house here in Austin that isn't corporate, but where all of the employees dress professionally. They would wear khaki pants with polo shirts. Professional, yet comfortable. It could be thebeginning of a new paradigm here in Austin. Professionalism in local coffee houses. So many places could take a page from Starbuck's. There's a reason why they are everywhere. The coffee is nothing spectacular. It's nothing that anybody in any other coffee house couldn't make. The main thing that Starbucks offers is a professional staff with a clean environment, not a staff of tattoo parlor test subjects and couches that look like they were thrown out. But if you want to go on with your "Screw corporate coffee" shirt, go ahead.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 3:17 PM 2 comments  

How to increase participation in blood donation organizations.

I've had another one of those all too often misfirings in my brain that results in crackpot ideas. This time the idea happened while I was donating blood at The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas. When you donate blood, after they've stuck you with the garden hose size needle, they have you squeeze on some little foam ball every five seconds.

Well, I was sitting their thinking about how I have to squeeze this thing and about how I don't have a girlfriend right now. I thought about how if I did have a girlfriend I could bring her to the blood and tissue center with me while I was donating and I could squeeze her one of her butt cheeks instead of the foam ball. Then it hit me. If the blood and tissue center wanted to get more people to donate blood regularly, then they should hire cute girls and guys to come in and "be squeezed" by the donors. Think about it. They get a pint of your blood and you get to squeeze a cute person's butt cheek for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Everybody wins. Good Lord, just think about how much fun you could have if they did the same thing for the people who sold and/or donated plasma. That's about 3 hours of cheek grabbing goodness.

I told my idea to the phlebotomist who was helping me, but she didn't think that they would do it. The reason she cited was that many guys and/or girls might lie on the questionnaire just to get to the booty grabbing. I thought about this and decided two things. The aforementioned objection is invalid for two reasons. One, most people wouldn't go through being unnecessarily stuck with a needle just to get a booty grab. Second, even if there were people lying on the questionnaire, the screening processes for the blood would eliminate them as donors. And, the increase in the number of viable donors who are donating blood would outweigh the costs of the screening. Besides, can you put a price on saving a person's life? (If you are a doctor, don't answer that question.)

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 4:14 PM 0 comments  

Neutral Karma.

Apparently the neurons in my head will occasionally misfire and an idea such as this one will manifest itself as the result. The result of this latest particular misfire was Neutral Karma. Think about it. Karma is like a scoreboard on a scale the size of the entire universe. All the good things that you do are added in the positive category and all the bad things you do are added into the negative category. Then, at the end of this life, your total is reached. If you got enough points in this life to add to your total score, you reach the next level. But, if you did enough bad things to detract from you total score, you go down a level. I can imagine a bunch of semi-deity accountants comparing your credit/debit columns and telling you that in the next life you are going to be a lawyer.

But where my own personal oddities come in is in the idea of maintaining a neutral karma. For example: I eat meat (a form of killing), but I give blood (a form of life-saving). Wouldn't these two acts neutralize one another? I wonder if it is possible to live life in such a way as to maintain a score of zero on your karmic scoreboard.

I think it's thoughts and questions like these that require me to limit myself to having a select group of friends.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 3:45 PM 1 comments  

Why Kerry's medals don't matter.

After having recently been engaged in a debate with some people over whether the Swiftboatboat Veterans for Truth(SVFT) claims have any merit, I decided to write my thoughts out here. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the group, here is a breif summary of their mission:

"Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been formed to counter the false "war crimes" charges John Kerry repeatedly made against Vietnam veterans who served in our units and elsewhere, and to accurately portray Kerry's brief tour in Vietnam as a junior grade Lieutenant."
John Kerry has three Purple Hearts awarded to him. That is an undeniable fact. His website has the pertinent info and documentation pertaining to the awarding of the Purple Heart medals. Recently, however, the above mentioned group (Swiftboat Veterans for Truth) has called into question the events surrounding the awarding of the Purple Heart medals. According to the Vietnam Service Timeline on Kerry's website he recieved wounds in his left thigh, right arm, and another in an undisclosed location that was a "combat related injury."

I believe it would be both rude and unnecessary to request that Kerry show us the wounds to prove that he was injured, although I'm sure that the thought has crossed the minds of people on both sides if the issue. "Why do I believe this" you may ask? I believe it because it doesn't matter whether or not he recieved any medals. There has been a long standing belief with the American people that apparently a person who was a good soldier would make a good Commander-in-Chief. While it is true that we have had soldiers who have made good Presidents, the correlation is not infallible. President John F. Kennedy is a prime example of how being a solider does not necessarily make someone a good Commander-in-Chief. I need only remind the reader of The "Bay of Pigs" Invasion. So, whether or not a person was a war hero or not, doesn't necessarily play into their ability to make a good president. Also, most wars are led by generals in the Department of Defense. It is the job of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to advise the president on matters of the military.

Back to the Swiftboat Veterans. Both sides (Kerry and SVFT) claim that people who served with Kerry either support him or don't support him. Kerry has several people who served with him on PCF 94 who support him for his bid for the presidency. The SVFT organization also claims to have people who served with Kerry in Vietnam, but don't supprt him for President. One of the main beefs that SVFT has with Kerry is the use of a picture of Kerry and other swiftboat commanders from Coastal Divison 11 in his ad campaign entitled "Lifetime." The ad spot is available for viewing on Kerry's TV Spots section of his website. According to SVFT, only 3 of the people pictured in that ad suppport Kerry. Two of the other officers are dead and two are neutral.

I have heard several arguments about Kerry and his Purple Hearts. One of them includes the bullet-proof logic of "Kerry has 16 guys who were on his boat that say that he did deserve to get the Purple Heart, while only 1 guys who was their says that he doesn't." This is the we've got more people that agree with us so we're right argument. The counter-arguent? No matter how many people you have saying something is true, won't make it the truth.

The whole point behind this issue is character. Is John Kerry the kind of person who uses the awarding of medals under circumstances that mey or may not have been like they were presented? The fact is that Kerry is using his war record to promote himself now while having campaigned against the war shortly after he got back.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 10:45 AM 0 comments  

Same stuff, new name.

Can't come up with something original? Why don't you just rehash what everyone else is saying, but call it something different. This is what happens in John Sperling's The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro America. Instead of coming up with new ideas on politics in America, Sperling merely says what every other Pro-Democrat writer in America says. The only difference: instead of saying liberal, he says Metro and instead of saying conservative, he says Retro.

In taking a stab at some form of credibility, there is a Dupometer on the books web site. This "test" is supposed to see what your political gullibility is. The only test it provides is whether or not you can spew up everything that any liberal has said in the past decade. For instance, the first question on the Dupometer is about higher education:

"Preferential treatment is given to minority students for college admission through affirmative action, and there is no preferential treatment given to white students. True or false?"
The answer on the site is false. The reasoning behind this is "The practice of giving preference to alumni, known as 'legacies,' is legal and widespread." Now, they could have stopped their and left partisanship out of it, but no. It goes on: "The Bush family receives legacy admissions at Yale - George Bush, Sr., George W. Bush, and daughter Barbara Bush are all graduates." Just because something is logically true, does not inherently make it factually true. (A lesson that Michael Moore needs to learn.) Yes, some universities do engage in "legacy" admissions in which students whose parent(s) attended said university are granted admissions to that university. What the people at RetrovsMetro.org are not telling you is that:
  1. Most of the universities that have "legacy" admissions are private institutions.
  2. Regardless of the institution or applicant, there is no one factor in giving students admissions. (The exception to this is the Texas Top 10% Law.)
  3. More schools engage in affirmative action than have "legacy" admissions.
  4. "Legacies" are only considered after "all other things being equal" in the applicant.
Another big, glaring contradiction to their thesis is that while "legacy admissions aren't limited to white students only, Affirmative Action benefits only minority students. Also, as I mentioned before, "legacy" admissions are usually only at private institutions that cost significantly more than public institutions. This is all on top of the fact that with "legacy" admissions you have to have had someone else in your family go to that university. It does you no good if your father went to Yale and you want to go to Harvard.

One of the other questions on the Dupometer that pissed me off is the one on economics. The question was:
"Shopping at Wal-Mart saves consumers money due to their 'Always Low Prices.'True or False?"
Again the answer on the site is False. Their reasoning: "Though Wal-Mart's appeal is its low prices, costs are passed on to consumers in other ways. A recent congressional study has determined that a Wal-Mart store with 200 employees costs taxpayers $420,750 per year for social services delivered to its $8.23-per-hour employees." Since they obviously couldn't be bothered to explain themselves, I looked through the chapter that pertained to this question. The "social services" that they refer to are in that "society is again picking up part of the tab by having to provide unemployment and other benefits to workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas." Stop the presses, we have a page-one headline here. Taxpayers have to pay for unemployment when workers lose their jobs? No! Say it isn't so! But guess what? That's true for every other job. There is nothing special about Wal-Mart in this regard. Wal-Mart hires people, just like any other company.

Part of me wishes that these people would stop writing stuff that is so easy to disprove with facts, but another part of me is appreciative of the easy fodder for my posts. However, please try to come up with something original.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 9:20 AM 0 comments  

PETA.

If you are not familiar with PETA, they are a group of activists that champion "animal rights." At least that is what they say. PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is a group of people that use misinformation, threats, and shock-tactics to force people to do what they want.

Here are a couple of things that I found on their website:

Never, ever let a fur-wearer pass by without voicing your disapproval. If you know someone who still wears fur, show him or her this article. He or she may not realize that no federal law protects animals on fur farms or that typical killing methods include electrocution, poisoning, neck-breaking, and gassing.
This is pretty innocuous. What this blurb advocates is voicing your opinion, hopefully in a polite manner, without being overbearing. Congratulations PETA, I applaud you for this advice.

In order not to detract from our campaign, it is imperative that all correspondence be polite and dignified.
[Found at the bottom of an alert.]

Again, a very nice, dignified, and polite way of expressing their opinions.

Both of these represent what PETA would like you to believe that their methods are. However, the ways that they actually operate are very different. They use double-standards, shock value, misinformation, terror, and assault to intimidate people into believing/behaving the way that they want them to.

PETA has repeatedly asked that "the book be thrown at" people who harm animals:
In Pennsylvania
In Texas
In South Carolina

In each instance, PETA has urged that members write to the judges, mayors, and law enforcement officials in those areas asking that the maximum sentence be imposed for the offender. This is all fine and good. But, what about when it's PETA's members who are committing the crimes?

A PETA member assaults the son of a fur store owner.

Read this statement at a capitol Hearing about PETA's tactics and tell me that they are a peaceful organization.
CAPITOL HILL HEARING TESTIMONY

Usually, I don't equate people with terrorists. However, I think that some of the tactics used by PETA would classify as that. Terrorism is defined as:
The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
What is the root of terrorism? Terror. The intent is to make the recipient scared of something or someone. What would you do if someone was scaring your children? If they were being shown mutilated bodies and other horrific pictures? Wouldn't you be upset? Wouldn't it upset your kids? Possibly even make them scared or terrified? Couldn't it possibly even scar them for life? This is what PETA is doing with their new ad campaign that targets people wearing furs when they go to the theater. They are distributing comic books to children that depict horrible acts being committed to animals and they blame the children's parents for it. PETA's new comic book. This is a despicable act by a group of deranged people. What concerns me is that in PETA's overwhelming concern for animals, they seem to be inflicting harm on humans, both physical and psychological.

Another tactic seems to be "Shock Value". PETA has run several ads in Canada that exploited the brutal killings of 15 women in British Columbia. An article about the ad campaign and reactions to it can be found here. Even a member of the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres called it (the ad) "grotesque and exploitative in the extreme." Let me be clear on this. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has said that it is ok to use the fact that 15 human women who were killed on a pig farm to further their own agenda. ETHICAL treatment! Where are the ethics? Where are the ethics in an organization that routinely exposes people, including children, to softcore porn ads. Am I being to harsh? Maybe. Yes, my choice of words is meant to convey certain meanings and to place their ads in a certain context. You decide what they are.

Misinformation. This is one of the best used tactics by PETA. They claim that they are "dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals." Also, "PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in laboratories, in the fur trade, and in the entertainment industry." They also advocate a vegetarian diet. Mostly this is based on the Least Harm Principle. This is discussed in depth in the book The Case for Animal Rights. Hmm, let's think about this for a minute. Studies have shown that the harvesting of fields for grains such as wheat kills off a significant portion of the native animal population. This article details why a vegan diet causes more harm than an omnivorous one. Another article to read about the impacts of vegetarian diets is "The Uneasy Conscience of the Animal rights Movement". Yet another article documenting the affects of harvesting on indigenous animal life is "OSU Scientist Questions the Moral Basis of a Vegan Diet". In giving credit where credit is due, I was first alerted to this issue by Maddox at The Best Page in the Universe, particularly his page Guiltless Grill? Is there another kind?. I also provided the links to pages that he had already linked to.

I could write more about PETA and why I dislike their methods and why I think that their resources would be put to better use if they were the People for the Ethical Treatment of Humans, but I think that you can discern for yourself what they do. Also, if you want to read more of their propaganda check out their Frequently Asked Questions page. I particularly like the interpretation if the Bible in response to the "dominion over animals" question. Please do not interpret this post to mean that I support being cruel to animals. I don't support PETA, their tactics, or some of their goals. In this case, I don't think that the ends justify the means. I do support the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

*Note: Forthcoming will be a similar article on the tactics used by the N.R.A. and maybe even some discussion on the similarity between these two groups.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 12:26 PM 2 comments  

Politics, The Election, and My Two Cents.

The hot topic today is the election. Who will be the leader of the free world for the next four years? Will we continue to have Bush or will we opt for Kerry. You're going to have to decide.

Kerry:
There is a danger in the platform that many Americans are supporting. It is called "Anyone But Bush." Technically, this would mean that they would prefer Hitler to Bush. Now try pointing this out to almost anyone who suports the ABB platform and they almost immediately compare Bush to Hitler. Sorry guys, but Hitler was far left-wing, not right. This is not to say that I am cmparing Kerry to Hitler. I am merely using hyperbole to express concern over the lack of scruiny that the Democratic Candidate is undergoing. It seems that a lot of people are merely bucking to get the current president ousted without looking at who they are replacing him with. The thing that frightens me the most is that in trying to remove President Bush, they may be putting someone worse in his place.

People have also called into play, senator Kerry's "flip-flopping" on certain issues within the Senate. This doesn't bother me. I don't think that a person should be criticized for changing their mind. The only time when this would come into play is if the "flip-flopping" was so constant that the person was unable to make a choice and stick with it. Indecisiveness is not the same thing as changing one's mind.

Bush:
Bush has been called every name under the sun that can be thought of to insult someone. Well, so has every other president. Someone, somewhere isn't going to like the current leader. President Bush has engendered more hate than any other President in recent history, maybe with the exception of Richard Nixon.

President Bush has engaged America in an unpopular war with an enemy who are going to be difficult to defeat. But, remember that only Congress, according to Article I, section 8 has the power "To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water." However, it is the War Powers Resolution of 1973 that gives the President a 60 day grace period in making war, provided that he advises Congress that he is doing so.

Many people blame the President for the state of the Economy and the Budget. However, it is again Congress that has the power to "To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States", "To borrow money on the credit of the United States", "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes", and "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures". All of this means that the President has nothing to do with the budget. That's Congresses bailewick. The economy? That's been under the watchful eye of Alan Greenspan for the last couple of decades. People are acting as if the President has a Mastercard and is spending America's money at the mall. He's not. It's Congress that has to approve the appropriations of money for the President to use. It's Congress that has to come up with the Budget for the country for the next year. Yes, the President does get to have his say so in what he thinks would be best, but ultimately Congress still has the final say.

Ultmately, what I think is that this election is going to be between Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, to paraphrase Michael Savage. No matter who we put in office, there isn't going to be any major change in the way things are done.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 10:17 AM 2 comments  

Love.

"Just because you love someone doesn't mean you have to be involved with them. Love is not a bandage to cover wounds."
Hugh Elliott, Standing Room Only weblog, February 16, 2004

Everyone thinks about something different when you say "Love." It's like looking into a kaleidoscope. Everyone is seeing the same bits and pieces, but no one ever sees exactly the same thing. So, it would be impossible to define love in such a way that everyone everywhere would know what you were talking about. But, it is possible to share one's feelings and interpretations on love.

If I were to try and list out all the different types of love I could be here for quite a while. Since I have neither the time nor the inclination, I will be as brief as possible in describing the types of love. According to a Psychology Today article from the March/April Issue of 1993 entitled: "The colors of Love" there are 6 ways in which humans commonly love.

Agape:

This refers to all-encompassing love of everyone. Selfless love. This is the type of love that is often attributed to the Holy Trinity in Christian religions. This is not to say that other religions don't attribute this type of love to their deities, I'm just not as familiar with other religions. This type of love is one in which the person who loves, does so with no expectations of the person(s) that they love.


Eros:
This is passionate love. This is the love that they write about in the cheap "romance" novels that you find at the supermarket. Lust. Sexual love. This is one of the most primal feelings that we as humans can feel. The desire to have sex. Also, one of the most beautiful and dangerous forms of love.


Ludus:
This is the game-playing form of love. Love is meant to be shared with a lot of people without any deep emotional attachment being made. This makes me think of the men and women who are merely out for "conquests." This type of love is usually short-lived.


Storge:
This is the type of love that develops between two friends. It is usually a long-lasting type of love that develops slowly over time. Depending on how you look at it, this is probably the best type of love if you are interested in making a relationship last.


Pragma:
This is where places like EHarmony.com, Matchmaker.com, and SingleMe.com make their money from. This is the 'Laundry-list' type of love where the participants are looking for particular qualities in their potential loves. This type of love can be long-lasting.


Mania:

This type of love is the possessive, jealous type of love. It usually stems from insecurity on the part of the lover. This can be a very dangerous type of love and can lead to abusive relationships. This can be short-lived or long-lived depending upon the people involved.



These are only a few of the types of love there are. I have decide to include a few of the types of love that I see that were not included.

Parental:
This is the type of love that parents feel towards their children. It includes the maternal and paternal instincts. This, usually immutable, love is prevalent throughout most of our lives. The parallel of this is the love that the child or children feel for the parent(s) or caregiver(s).


Fraternal/Sororal:
This is the love that is felt between close friends. The love that you feel for those men and women that you share a bond or other close tie with.


Materialistic:
To say that love is only between two humans is to deny a whole range of emotional attachments that we have. There is a love that is felt, sometimes strongly, for a person's material goods. In men this is usually associated with a car, boat, or other means of transportation. However, it is not limited to men. We all have those certain goods that we love and would feel saddened if we were ever to lose them.


Note that, as I said earlier, this is not a complete list. Some types of love I have included because I have not thought to include them while others I have deliberately left out.

Love is so many things to so many people. There are people in my life that I love in each of the ways that I have described. Some of my feelings are fleeting, while others, no matter how hard I try, will not go away. Some I have no control over, some I do. Love is a wonderful thing. It can lead us to the brink of sanity and then push us over.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I love someone, but I am not in love with them. This feeling is a mixture of so many of the types of love that I listed that I cannot begin to classify it. I don't have that "oh the world is great" feeling of being in love. I merely love this person regardless and I love spending time with her. Even if she doesn't love me back, it doesn't matter.

There are many great quotes on love and I think that Robin William's character had one of the better ones in Good Will Hunting:
"I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you. You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself."
Here's to all the people in my life that I love. If you don't know it, then this is to tell you that I love you.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 1:48 PM 0 comments  

How to live forever.

This comes from my friend Daisy. The idea and the conclusion were his, I just supplied a couple of the details.

Albert Einstein's theory of relativity is E=mc2 or energy is equal to mass multiplied by the speed of light. This means that time slows down as mass approaches the speed of light. Time slows down because you are moving faster than everything else.

This means that time will pass slower for a person moving at near light-speed than for the people at the place where they left. What seems like only 4 months to the person in the vessel is 10 years to everyone else. Roughly.

So what if it we were to reverse it? Time slows down for the person who is moving faster because everything else is moving slower. Therefore if were were to slow ourselves down and let everything move faster, we could conceivably live forever.

This is where the Personal Reality Deceleration Device, or PRDD, comes into play. You wear this device and it slows down your perception of reality and lets you essentially live forever.

We also theorized that moving to Amsterdam would probably have the same effect.

There's only one problem with this way of living forever. What's the point? You'd spend you entire life stuck in traffic.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 10:51 PM 0 comments  

Cool Quotes

"Women are meant to be loved, not understood."
-Oscar Wilde

"Come on, you apes! You wanta live forever?"
-Unknown platoon sergeant, 1918

"Life is a comedy for those who think... and a tragedy for those who feel."
-Horace Walpole (1717-1797)

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
-Aristotle

"All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind."
-Aristotle

"We make war that we may live in peace."
-Aristotle

"The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."
-Plato

"Life is a sexually transmitted disease."
-Anonymous

"The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive."
-Robert Heinlein (1907 - 1988), "Job", 1984

"If there were no God, there would be no Atheists."
-G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

"Knowledge is power. Power corrupts. Study hard, be evil."
-Seen on a T-shirt

"I was not making fun of you personally; I was heaping scorn on an inexcusably silly idea-a practice I shall always follow."
-Robert Heinlein (1907-1988), "Starship Troopers", 1959

"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion [violence never settles anything] is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms."
-Robert Heinlein (1907-1988), "Starship Troopers", 1959

I will update this as often as I can. It's surprisingly difficult to find poignant quotes on short notice.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 2:25 AM 0 comments  

Douglas Adams

If you have never read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", then you should. Douglas Adams is a great writer who revolutionized the world of sci-fi. His work artfully blends comedy with science fiction. Originally a BBC radio show, Adams later divided it up into three books. Those books were "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe", and "Life, the Universe, and Everything". Then, Douglas Adams decided to write two more books, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish", and "Mostly harmless". Hence, that is the reason that the Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy has 5 books in it. Also, there is a short story entitled "Young Zaphod Plays it Safe".

The books follow the travels of Arthur Dent and his buddy Ford Prefect, who just happens to be an alien. They meet the president of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox and many other people and things. Also, if you are interested, the original trilogy was made into a BBC television program and a video game. What has really gotten me excited, however is the fact that they are now working on a "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Movie". The cast list so far is very interesting and I can't wait to see it. I really hope that they decide to do each of the books into a movie like they are doing(maybe) with the Harry Potter Series.

Another book by Douglas Adams is "Starship Titanic". This book was written by Adams and Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. This book is about an opulent cruise starship that crashes on Earth. Like all of Adams' books, this one is worth reading. Although Terry Jones does the writing for this book, it is based upon a video game by Douglas Adams.

Also available from Douglas Adams are "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency", "The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul", and "The Salmon of Doubt". The last book is a collection of works that Douglas Adams had on his computer when he died in 2001. It includes some chapters for the next book in the Hitchhiker's Guide series as well as several essays that he did.

Remember, the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42. We just don't know the question.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 3:12 PM 0 comments  

Poetry

I decided to include several of my favorite poems here and comments on why I like them. Some of them I have included the full text here on the page, other because of their length had to be linked to. I hope that you enjoy them and that they touch you in some way.

Afton Waters
By: Robert Burns


Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes!
Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise!
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream, -
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream!

Thou stock-dove whose echo resounds through the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing, thy screaming forbear, -
I charge you, disturb not my slumbering fair!

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills,
Far-marked with the courses of clear-winding rills!
There daily I wander, as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary's sweet cot in my eye.

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,
Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow!
There oft, as mild evening weeps over the lea,
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides!
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As gath'ring sweet flowerets she stems thy clear wave!

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes!
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays!
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream, -
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream!


This is one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry that I have ever heard. I first came across it via the bluegrass band Nickel Creek on their self titled CD. The poem is about a man and the woman that he loves as they are by the shore of the river. Whenever I read this poem or listen to the song, I can imagine a beautiful Scottish glen next to a river. Burn's wonderful use of imagery transports the reader/listener to another place.

The Devil and Billy Markham
By: Shel Silverstein

Unfortunately, due to the length, I can only link to this great piece of work. Most people will only be acquainted with Mr. Silverstein's children's work, such as "A Light in the Attic" and "Where the Sidewalk Ends". This poem, as is suggested by the title, takes a wholly different approach to Silverstein's poems. This is a lengthy poem about a down on his luck country singer in Nashville who gambles with the devil and loses. The poem follows him and all his dealings with the Devil and eventually with his redemption and his family. To say any more would be to give away the best part, but I highly recommend that everyone read this poem.

The Naked and the Nude
By: Robert Graves


For me, the naked and the nude
(By lexicographers construed
As synonyms that should express
The same deficiency of dress
Or shelter) stand as wide apart
As love from lies, or truth from art.

Lovers without reproach will gaze
On bodies naked and ablaze;
The Hippocratic eye will see
In nakedness, anatomy;
And naked shines the Goddess when
She mounts her lion among men.

The nude are bold, the nude are sly
To hold each treasonable eye.
While draping by a showman's trick
Their dishabille in rhetoric,
They grin a mock-religious grin
Of scorn at those of naked skin.

The naked, therefore, who compete
Against the nude may know defeat;
Yet when they both together tread
The briary pastures of the dead,
By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
How naked go the sometime nude!


I first encountered this poem in my senior English book. The poem describes the subtle differences between what is beautiful and what is vulgar. Mostly, intentions are the backbone of the differences. If one's intentions are love or scientific, then the disrobed body is a thing of beauty. If one's intentions are lewd, then the body is merely a plaything.

The Tygre
By: William Blake


Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

This poem manages to superbly capture the majesty and ferocity of the tiger. As a person who loves large cats, especially tigers, this poem is one of my favorites. I like it so much that I am actually at a loss for words to describe it.

The Iliad and The Odyssey
By: Homer

These two epic poems are required reading for almost anyone receiving a high school education in America. These Greek tales of heroics are classics and should be part of any personal library. "The Iliad" is the story of the Greek siege of the city of Troy. Recently, this poem has enjoyed a popular revival in the movie "Troy". "The Odyssey" also has also been made into a made-for-TV movie. Also, it was loosely the storyline for the popular movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?".

The Aeneid
By: Virgil

If I include Homer's two epic poems, then I must also include Virgil's work, "The Aeneid". This poem is by a Roman author and traces the journey of Aeneus and the eventual founding of Rome. This was one of my required readings for college and is another must have for any personal library.

Memory Pain
By: J. R. Guinness
June 08, 2003


Yesterday I took a trip.
It was down a lane.
Instead of houses on either side,
Were memories that filled me with pain.

I looked.
And everywhere I could see,
Were visions of us,
And we were happy.

Yesterday I opened a book
It was filled with memories
And on all the pages
Were notes you had written to me.

I read the book
From cover to cover
And a lump formed in my throat
Remembering how I pushed you away, lover.

Now I sit
All alone
You’re with him
Because my heart was a stone.

Today I take a trip
Down memory pain.

This poem is one that I wrote when I was feeling particularly sad, as you can probably tell. I won't relate the events that led to me writing this, becuase those are personal. I find it amuzing that most of the poetry written is either because the author is feeling incredibly sad or incredibly happy. You don't seem to see much in the way of "I had an ordinary day" poetry. I do hope that you will read this and enjoy it.

Playful Wind
By: J. R. Guinness


Playful wind
blowing through the grass
flowing through the leaves
dancing your invisible dance

Playful wind
rustling the young girls hair
not her nor there
but everywhere.

Playful wind
Here one moment
Gone the next
Where are you, playful wind?

This is a poem that I wrote on the way home from work. The phrase "playful wind" had been bouncing around in my head all day and this is what came out. Not particularly original, but very cathartic in terms of emptying my head of that phrase.

These are merely a few of the poems that I enjoy. I will make sure to add more as they come up.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 11:23 AM 0 comments  

Choices.

Did you ever stop to think about the choices that we make everyday? The choices that we have already made lead inevitably to where we are right now. We are where we are only because of those choices. If you look back on your life, you can identify key points where your life shifted because of a decision that you made. I have often thought about how my life might have been different if I made one of those choices differently.

If I had gone to a different college, I wouldn't have met all of the people that I know now. I wouldn't have been able to be friends with who I am friends with and I wouldn't have gotten to love who I loved.

Do I stay here and let things be as they are? Or do I go out and go for that something that I want? Do I tell that person how I feel even though it might change how we see each other for the rest of our lives?

However different my life might have been if I had made different decisions, I have decided that I am happy with every choice I have made. Some of them might not have been good ones, but they led me to where I am. I would never trade the friends that I have made for the possible gains that other decisions might have gotten me. This post is for everyone that I know and love.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 3:49 PM 0 comments  

Reasons why I'm glad that I'm a guy.*

*Please note that these are in no particular order. Also note that this list will be updated as regularly as possible. Something else of note. I am not mysoginistic. These are intended to be funny.

No makeup. (Unless you are in the theatre, and then it is perfectly acceptable.)

No need to buy a new outfit for a social event. (You get credit if you remember to wear black socks with your black shoes.)

About 4 or 5 pairs of shoes is all you need.

Short haircuts mean that you don't have to do anything to your hair.

The ability to avoid potentially "bad hair days" by merely putting on a baseball cap.

Peeing standing up.

Guys can have a "beer gut" and still feel sexy.

No menstrual cycle.

No menopause/hotflashes. (If you are a guy and you are experiencing hotflashes, more than likely you are on fire...literally.)

Graying hair is not the end of the world. (In fact, it could make you even sexier.)

Not having to wear a bra.

Boxers.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 3:24 PM 0 comments  

Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.

I think that Dante got it wrong in his Divine Comedy. I think that Purgatory is the worst place that one could be in the afterlife. If you think about it in terms of interaction, then Heaven and Hell are pretty much equal. Now before you go declaring me a heretic and start piling up wood at the bottom of a big stake, let me explain myself. Heaven is a place where you are rewarded for essentially being good. Hell is a place where you are punished for essentially being bad. But, purgatory is a place that you go to when you are not good enough to get into Heaven or bad enough to get into Hell. You are essentially ignored by both sides. That, to me would seem like the worst place in the afterlife. Instead of thinking of the afterlife as a line going from worst(Hell) to best (Heaven), with purgatory being in the middle. I think of it as being in the shape of a V. You could even place this V on a graph. The left arm would be Hell and the right arm would be Heaven. The point would be purgatory and would be at origin. The X-axis would be treatment (positive versus negative). The Y-axis would be level of interaction. [Insert picture of graph here.]

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 1:00 PM 0 comments  

Webcomics.

As time progresses, so does the mediums in which humans express themselves. The earliest expressions were drawing in a cave in Ardeche Valley, France. Some person thought that they would record, the world that they saw around them. As art progressed there was, eventually, oil and canvass, watercolors, blocktype, photographs, CGI, and eventually webcomics.

Webcomics are merely the next step in the progression of artwork. Therefore I would like to share with you a list of some of the webcomics that I have seen. This is in no way a comprehensive list, it's just a list of some of the comics that I try to read on a daily basis. I salute all of the people who write, draw, and publish this work. Good job!

Penny-Arcade

Penny Arcade is a webcomic devoted to gaming in it's many forms. The writer and artist are a great team who's talents play off of one another to create a wholly funny product. Plus, the Fruit-fucker 2000 is hilarious.

Nuklear Power

Nuklear Power is what is known a s a "sprite comic." That means that the author takes images from video game screenshots and places them on backgrounds of their own making and adds text bubbles and whatnot. Hilarity ensues. This is one of the better sprite comics that I have seen. The author chose to have a storyline that is original, but still "in character." You don't have to be a gamer to enjoy this comic.

Applegeeks

Even though I am an avowed PC user, I still love this comic. It follows a bunch of apple users and their views on life, gaming, and hardware. It also introduced me to one of my favorite jokes. I am one of those 10 people. Also, one of the cool things about this comic is that the authors have put up a progress bar to let you know what has been done and when to expect the next comic.

Striptease Comic

A comic strip about people writing/drawing/producing a comic strip. Very funny, with a rich background and engaging storyline. It is one of the few webcomics that I read that is drawn entirely by hand. This is one strip that I highly recommend everyone read. The only problem with it is that it hasn't been updated since July 4th, 2004.*Note: Striptease Comic updated on 08/05 to let us know that they will be updating soon.**Striptease Comic is back on schedule as of 08/11.

Ctrl+Alt+Del

This is another gaming comic. The artwork is very enjoyable in this comic. The characters are interesting and crazy at times. I do love the robot X-Box. This comic is one of the few that I have actually been interested in buying the merchandise from. Check out the original Lucas T-shirt. Also there is a newer Lucas T-shirt.

Spells & Whistles

Spells & Whistles is a themed webcomic. The storyline is something that you might expect to find in a Dungeons and Dragons tabletop game. If you're the type of person who expects those things... The artwork is great. The only problem is that there isn't a lot of issues right now. The plus side is that the author, like those at Applegeeks.com, decided to put up a progress bar to show you how much is done on the next comic so that you can have a better idea of when to expect the next installment.

I'm sure that there are more. In fact I know it but I can't really think of any others that I read on a regular basis and enjoy. Although there is this one. But I really don't recommend you read that one if you are weak of stomach. If anyone is interested in finding more webcomics I recommend going to Keenspot.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 2:36 PM 0 comments  

Fate?

This is a story that has been posted on many other blogs. I have decided to excerpt it here because I choose to draw my own conclusions about it.


There was a scholar who was to marry his fiancée, but on the day of marriage, his fiancée changed her mind and married someone else. The scholar was devastated and fell ill. His family sought all kinds of medical treatment for him, but still he showed no sign of recovery. They were about to give up hope on him when a wandering monk passed by.

After learning about the scholar's condition, the monk walked to the scholar's bed and took out a mirror for the dying man to see. In the mirror, the scholar saw a vast ocean, and the naked body of a murdered woman laying on the beach. A man passed by, looked at the body, shook his head and left. Another man who passed by saw the body, took off his robes to cover the body and left. Finally came a man passing by who saw the body, dug a hole and laid the body carefully to rest before burying it.

The scene in the mirror suddenly changed. The scholar saw his fiancée in a nuptial chamber and another man was lifting her wedding veil... The scholar blinked at the monk, confused. Slowly the monk explained, "The woman whose body you saw on the beach was your fiancée in her previous life. In your previous life, you were the second man who gave her his robes to cover her body. To repay your kindness in this lifetime, she loved you for a period of time and became your fiancée. However, ultimately the man whose favor she has to return for the rest of her life is the third man who buried her. And that man is now her husband."

Enlightened, the scholar sat up and recovered from his depression.

It is interesting how life works. Sometimes when you think that you may have just messed things up forever, something comes along and puts them into perspective. This story has just put my life into perspective. Something very similar happened to me recently. Last night in fact. Then, today, I happened to be randomly going through Web Logger profiles and the creator of this blog was one of the first that I came across. While I don't like the fact that this person's spelling would give most English professors an Acute Myocardial Infarction (heart attack), the logger was definitely "there for me" when I needed it. Maybe it was fate that I should find this parable when I needed it most. Maybe it is true that "When the student is ready, the master will appear." I think that the master is not always a person. I think that the "master" may be an event or possibly, as in this case, a story or other learning experience that "comes" to us. Either that or I just get philosophical when I get depressed. Either way I feel much better now. Not completely better, but much better than before.

I hope that everyone finds something that helps put their life into perspective like this has done for me.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 5:55 PM 0 comments  

Taoism

I try not to look at everything from only one side. There are always more ways to see something than you can think of. For instance, take the yin-yang symbol:




The yin-yang symbol represents the dualities that we live with in this world. For example, if one were to look at a picture of the yin-yang symbol it would appear to be very simple. It is composed of two identical shapes, with two colors, each with the opposite color within them. However, at the same time, one must also acknowledge the complexity of the symbol. The two shapes are in motion, while remaining still. The process of creation is going on at the same time as the process of destruction. Also, there is a third color in the symbol. There is an infinitesimally small, grey line where the black and the white meet.

The yin-yang represents paired dualities. There can be know light without dark and no dark without light. If you were to look at the symbol and say that it is a picture of one thing, then you would be denying that it is made up of two parts, but if you were to say that it is a picture of two things, then you would be denying that it is also one complete thing.

According to legend, the idea of yin and yang was developed by Taoists who were looking at a hill. If you looked at the hill from one side, all you would see is darkness. If you looked at the hill from the other side, all you would see is light. But as you move between those two opposites, you see varying degrees of both elements of light and dark. Eventually you see equal parts light and dark. When you are at this point, you can appreciate the point where the darkness meets the light and creates a place that is both, but neither. This is where the Tao is.

Interesting correlations can be drawn between Taoism and the Star Wars universe. Throughout the movies and the entire Star Wars timeline, one can see a struggle between the darkness and the light. Especially upon the completion of The Revenge of the Sith, one will be able to appreciate, the full cycle of the transition between light and dark. The number of Jedi wane while the number of Sith increase.

Seek out the Tao. It is in everything.

Posted byJ. R. Guinness at 5:00 PM 0 comments