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It is interesting to think of all that we, or at least I, do in chasing fleeting moments of happiness. So much energy is put forth into being what we, in some degree, consider 'happy.' This is, I think, what one of the major facets of consumerism is; fleeting glimpses of euphoria. The beast wants us chasing these temporary pleasures. The products offered wear out and we're left nothing but our want of more. The song that spirits you away, its feeling wears off, and you need a new album. The serendipitous moments in a movie scene tugs at your heart strings, but you already know the end, but that's okay. A new one is coming out with all your favorite actors. Best Picture for sure!

Fashion is like this too as well try to put on what makes us look best to others and then, hopefully will help us feel happy inside. Books can be fashionable too as we buy them to put on our bookshelves for someone to walk by and go, "Wow, what great taste!" I've purchased several albums over the years in hopes that people would see them and go, "Wow! I love that band!" The pain and money put into trendy acceptance by people I don't even know...

And now religion. To me, this is what religion battles against (and, perhaps, other faiths, but I'll stick with what I know for now). Religion is the antithesis to all that. It says to cast off the trappings, expel the transient and focus on what really matters. Because while you are running around chasing un-catchable dreams, time carries on, burning life away. Fast or slow, it is inevitable and relentless. Reality itself is merciless and it is only our collective civilization that keeps us from falling into the abyss of utter despair and destruction (apologies for sounding like a preacher).

Your movies, your music and your fashion will all become dates, your books forgotten and all you'll be left with is the morbid passage of time that leaves you with wrinkles (if you're lucky) and a grave.

This is truth of the hadith (loosely paraphrased): "The son of the children of Adam will not be sated but by the dirt of the grave. Give him a mountain of gold and he will only want another."

This is the truth of Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death" where Death the gentleman caller carries her passed the setting sun to the grave. We are so busy drowning in illusions that we don't see the sun is setting, and once it's gone there will be no more. Not for us.

I've wasted too much of my life for these realizations not to hurt but I, hopefully, have enough in me for them to inspire.


"The world is filled with people who are 'killing time,' completely unaware that time is actually killing us."

-Hamza Yusuf
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One of the things that always made me feel (personally) shady come campaign season was the idea of putting your views out there in written form for all the world to see--a party or political platform. There are so many issues I'm not sure about and I can't take a stance on.

However, the other day while talking to a friend about some issues, I got an inkling of an idea: maybe I should write my beliefs down. It would be good, in the interest of self-reflection, to think them through and but them into writing. I need to understand for myself why I believe what I believe, and see where the areas of contradiction are, and areas are strongly supported, and what areas aren't supported at all. I submit them here in what will hopefully be an evolving list.

By posting these views publicly I am, of course, welcoming public scrutiny, commentary and questions. This works to strengthen my views which I feel are right (by defending them), and change the views which perhaps I cannot defend (it's better to be 'correct' than 'right'). But keep in mind that I am not a political candidate nor an expert (in anything). My reasons may not always be rational or always supported well, and my stances won't affect public policy (so don't get emotional if you disagree!) These are my personal views based on what I know of an issue at a particular time. Many of them I could honestly go either way--one way one day, another the next.

As I am not an expert on these subjects, there is the possibility that my views might not be the best for the nation. I haven't run the numbers, so it might actually be prohibitively expensive for a nation to even hold these views. I understand that some, while I feel they are the "right" choice, might not necessarily be for the good of the country. Geopolitics isn't really my area. In choosing the issue, I went to the campaign sites of Clinton, Obama and McCain and chose a few, but that doesn't mean I won't add more later.

So, that being said, let me introduce you to:

webb21 on the issues: Scott's Political Platform 2008Collapse )

(This is an ever-evolving piece. Check back for updates!)

Last updated: November 11th, 2008

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It just hit me recently that it kind of bothers me to use products that are individually wrapped. To get to the beginning of this conclusion, I have to talk about emergency kits.

I like survival stuff (from reading post-apoc things). The destruction doesn’t interest me, but the starting over and rebuilding does. The relying on your own mitts. So the last couple days I’ve been thinking about buying a thing or two every week, or every couple of weeks, to make my own disaster kit. Not for a fall of civilization situation, but just for emergencies. The thing about these kits is when you check lists of things you could include in them, the lists are HUGE. Hundreds of dollars. So I decided I could buy one or two things from each pay check and slowly build one. Something is better than nothing.

So the other day I got a first aid kit, plastic utensil and something else. As I was getting into my car I was thinking about how, in a fall of civilization situation, buying containers for water seamed kind of silly. After all, we have tons of containers for water. Ever soda bottle, milk jug, etc. If civilization collapsed just raid a store (or vending machine) for some of those. Good to go. So then it hit me how each time you buy a soda (I often buy a pepsi each night at work) that’s a bottle of trash. So I sorta, for now, stopped buying those. The health arguments against soda didn’t really get to me, but now for some reason the trash aspect does. I’m thinking about the same thing for candy and the like. All that trash. I’ll still get some no doubt, but for the near term at least I’ll probably buy less. I’ll probably go to the store later for some food—most likely a TV dinner—and it’s irking me to think about buying that, with all it’s trash for one meal. Plus a drink. When you buy food at home to prepare, you get it in larger quantities so there is less trash. A 5 pound bag of rice. That’s one bag, and it lasts. Try doing that with beef jerky or candy bars.

Current Music: Neil Young Unplugged

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Using their Office of Public Liaison & Intergovernmental Affairs website I asked the Obama administration a question about their Israel policy. The Israel section of their foreign policy page says, under "Support Israel's Right to Self Defense:
During the July 2006 Lebanon war, Barack Obama stood up strongly for Israel's right to defend itself from Hezbollah raids and rocket attacks, cosponsoring a Senate resolution against Iran and Syria's involvement in the war, and insisting that Israel should not be pressured into a ceasefire that did not deal with the threat of Hezbollah missiles. He and Joe Biden believe strongly in Israel's right to protect its citizens.

This "right to self-defense" argument has always perplexed me, as it's used to justify anything and everything Israel does. They could boil babies alive and serve them à la mode, and it would be supported under their "right to self-defense." I support their right to self-defense too. I support mine and yours as well. But there is a difference, I feel, between self-defense and, you know, wholesale slaughter, murder and oppression. Just saying.

So I asked them about their stance/interpretation of this policy:
I read that this administration supports "Israel's right to
self-defense," a line given whenever Israel goes on the offense (such
as the 2006 Lebanon War, which I read that President Obama supported
Israel in). My question is does this administration also support the
Palestinian's rights to self-defense (in the same way it support
Israel's right to self-defense)?

I do expect a response--these guys are good at that if their campaign is any measure--but I imagine it'll be a copy/paste job including Israel's right to self-defense, a two-state solution and the peace process. Not included, I imagine, will be an answer to my actual question. We're talking about politicians, here.

We'll see how it goes.
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Did you all hear about the new atheists' church they built downtown?

Yeah, it's the Atheist First Church of
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Brian: Women take forever to do anything, I swear
Me: 9 months to carry a baby? Men would have it done in an afternoon. It might not have all its parts and might not work right, but shit, you have 18 years for that, amirite? That's why God invented tweaking.

I'm feelin': silly silly

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No, not that kind you freak.


My cat is currently in love with a dowel rod. He has, quite randomly, started going nuts over it, licking, chewing, rubbing against. I remember seeing a youtube video once showing these cats who just went haywire over this wooden bowl, rubbing and smelling and gnawing all over it. I think it was cherry. I don't know what kind of wood the dowel rod is (except that it's not cherry).
I like watching Ichi and the way he works. I remind myself he's not human. He's a cat and operates by different rules. I try to figure him out, but at the same time, I never will.
I feel strongest for him when I think of him as my companion, my friend, my partner in crime. We're in this together. He's my roommate, my dependent, my buddy. I remember hearing on "Calling All pets" how animals have much simpler minds than we do. They're not vindictive, they don't do things out of spite (no matter how much we think they do), they don't have ulterior motives, they don't really connect one thing to another. Sure I knew that before, but it's one thing to abstractly know something. It's another to to really consider and try to understand it. These are human thoughts and human feelings. Ichi won't, and can't, see or feel things the way I do, and I won't ever truly know the cat cognates of his thoughts (if applicable) and feelings. That is what makes it so interesting. He's a cat. he does what a cat does. I'm a human; I do what I do. We don't speak the same language and never will. But we still, somehow, connect.

I think it is important for everyone (or at least everyone who cares) to have a living, non-human to interact with on a regular basis. It helps to better understand communication and love and understanding. It helps to better understand not just ourselves, but just... life.

This one's for you, Bobbins.
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The most oft-returning feeling for my future and what I want to do with it is that I don't want to do anything. There are some things I want to be or places I would like to go, but I don't want to do anything it takes to get there. If there was a way out of this mess that didn't involve offing myself, I'd take it. I need a catastrophe or a winning lottery ticket. I need a new me.

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Some people write because they have this need, this driving urge to write, to express, to tell. I just want to be an author--a successful one--so I can waste most of my time doing nothing while hemorrhaging my vast royalties. I can just spit out another book and ride the profits every few years.
With mediocrity like this, I'm bound to succeed.

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I like to think about writing. I like to read about writing. Sometimes I like to talk about writing. I'll even think about writing about writing. But I rarely ever write. This is simply one of those times that slipped passed my defenses. I figure I'll write someday. I'll die someday, too.

It's a race to see which will come first.

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So I've had some teaching ideas recently and now I'd like to post what kind of teacher I'd like to be. This is the first time I've done this so I'd just like to get it down for the record and then see how my views change over time.

My kind of teacherCollapse )

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Had another teaching idea (I'm gonna have to make a tag for these). The reason I'm having these lately is I'm reading The School Book by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner.

In reading a section on what "current" trends (current meaning as of the early 70s when the book was written) are in terms of what defines a "good" school, I read that more and more good schools moved toward student evaluation, and that students were actually even harsher on themselves when it came time to evaluate their progress.
So that gave me an idea: early in the year (say the second week, once students have a basic idea of what kind of teacher you are and what you expectations you will have), have the students write (or design, if you prefer) a basic syllabus and curriculum for the class. That is, have them write what they think they will learn, what they think they should learn, what they want to learn, and how they think they and the teacher can best accomplish all of those. Once these are turned in (or before, if you prefer), let them know that at at the end of the term (and perhaps in the middle of the term) they will be, in an interview with you the teacher, evaluating their progress based on their syllabus (and perhaps yours, if you like). Let this evaluation be a part of their grade. It is, of course, probably important that you give the students a copy of your syllabus so they know your expectations as well (this happens in college of course, but not so much in high school and below, at least not in my experience).

This idea stems from the philosophy that an education is for the student, not the State or corporations or whatever. If it gives the student a chance to pad their report card by giving themselves a free A in their evaluation, so be it. After all, is there any evidence that suggests that such behavior would hold people back in the "real world?" I'd posit that the opposite, in fact, is true. This doesn't mean you can't guilt trip them about their undeserved A (if that is the case) but it is important, I think, that students learn to live with the consequences of their actions (good or bad), and that they and not any abstract institution are the Captains of their lives. They have to live with themselves, why not let them, at least a little, evaluate themselves?
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I get pretty jazzed up each campaign season. I love watching polls and going over the numbers. It blows my mind how much more information is available each season.

Last time, I predicted the outcome correctly, but then changed my prediction not due to any honest assessment, but due to hopefulness.

Anyway, I'm making my prediction again, and it goes like this:

Obama: 364 electoral votes
McCain: 174 electoral votes

Note that as of 12:45AM (11/4) these match the prediction of intrade.com. Intrade is one of my sources in making my prediction, but that our predictions match is just a coincidence.

As for KY, I think McConnell will win. As for senate and house seats, I'm not gonna make a prediction, 'cept that the Democrats aren't getting 60 in the senate.

We'll see how I do =)
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Some time ago I had a teaching idea. It goes like this:

Instead of asking students to raise their hand when they know the answer to a question, ask them to raise their hand if they DON'T know the answer. The backdrop of this is to point out that the purpose of questions is to learn what you don't know, not showcase what you do know.

I won't go into all the details about it here, I'm merely bringing it up because this morning, quite randomly, I had another idea. It goes like this:

I've been a strong supporter and critic of giving a grade for "class participation." Nothing kills like a dead class where everyone stares dumbly (unless it's Algebra, in which case that's called a normal day). To combat this, you encourage people to participate (by raising their hand to answer questions, by taking part in class discussion) by adding class participation to their grades.

Bingo whamo, job's done.

Except there's another variable to the equation (bah, damn Algebra again): by grading class participation, you're holding the meek and the shy at a disadvantage. High school (where I imagine my ideas mostly taking place) is an awkward place, often with a convoluted social hierarchy and tons of peer pressure. Shy people need grades too, and some are rather smart (ok ok, old joke: What's the difference between an extrovert and an introvert? An extrovert has to tell you how much smarter than you they are. An introvert assumes you already know).

There are a number of reasons people don't want to raise their hands in class, or might not want to take part in discussions. Look at what happens tot he people who regularly do: They're called goody-goody (even in college) or a teacher's pet. That's often the student body response to class participation: ridicule. Who wants to give an answer to something just to have someone else mock it in front of friend and foe?

So my answer to this is to keep the class participation grade, but include another option: if, for whatever reason, a student doesn't want to discuss things out loud in class (I often have the answer to a question but am too shy to say anything), they can "participate" by choosing a question or topic from class to respond to in writing. Not a formal paper or anything, no works cited or such, just a chance to give their thoughts on whatever topic they chose.
It also opens up the chance, for the teacher, to call on them next time that particular topic comes up in class. "Say James, you wrote a good response to this, what do you think?"

Not a ground breaking idea by any means, nor particularly original, but I like it.
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I got a letter from my dad today. He's in work release now and can even get phone calls (sent me a picture too). I also got a letter and a package from my grandma (dad's mom). She's written a book and sent me a promotional copy. Inside she wrote, "Now it's your turn!" The pressure is on!
From these reminds I had a dream awhile ago (as in when I was sleeping earlier--I just woke up). In it I was having a birthday party. There were lots of people there, but nobody was making a big deal that I was the birthday boy. Most people were outside playing, and I was inside sitting on a couch. I liked it that way--no pressure, no big deals made. Nobody treated me like some special class just cause it was my birthday--everybody had birthdays.
Anyway, everyone came in and the actual party started and my dad was there, like the work release program let him attend. I went up and gave him and gave him a big hug, two actually, and nearly cried. Then I went and sat back down, and sitting next to my now was my mom. In the dream she was still dead, but there was this understanding that on important events like birthdays she was allowed to visit. I had this knowing that she had come to my previous year's birthday and I think something important happened then, but I don't know what it was. I've only dreamt of her a handful of times since she died, and usually it's me seeing her again after all this time. I really happy and also a little confused in these dreams. Like I wonder how is it I'm seeing her.. did she not really die, but maybe went away? I want to ask her these questions, but I'm also scared of wasting what time I have with asking them. So I'm always confused and never get answers. Come to think... while I talk to her, I'm not sure if she ever replies.

I've started keeping a more daily journal now, but it's written. The entries aren't private or anything (just mundane), but this way I can give my writing desk some use. I didn't feel like clearing it (the desk) off and finding my notebook, so I'm writing today's entry here :P
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A couple weeks ago a dug out some genealogy stuff my grandma and others had done years ago. Lineage lines have always interested me. I like seeing the passage of time marked down in generations, and to imagine myself in such a person's position, or to see the link from person x to person y, and thereby connect them to whatever events happened in the others life. For instance, to find out your grandfather served in WWI can make you feel a connection to that time and those events and make them seem more real.

Well, at least that's how it is for me. I've made several lineage charts for various stories I've made up in my mind, but never my own. So, a couple weeks ago, I sat down and wrote mine. I found out I'm a 9th generation US-based Webb. Anyway, here's the Webb's on my father's side going back to the first one in the US:

1st Generation: Samuel Webb:1763 - 1848 (85 years)
2nd Generation: John Webb 1786 - 1867 (81 years)
3rd Generation: Benjamin Webb 1811 - 1882 (71 years)
4th Generation: Reuben Webb 1831 - 1912 (81 years)
5th Generation: Fred Webb 1867 - 1939 (72 years)
6th Generation: Harold Webb 1898 - 1952 (54 years)
7th Generation: Jack Webb 1931- (currently 77)
8th Generation: Frederick Webb 1953- (currently 55)
9th Generation: Scott Webb 1982- (currently 25)

What I found interesting was that just this year (last month) my dad surpassed his grandfather in age. When he replies to my letter I'll find out if he thinks that's interesting too :P
The average age at time of death for these Webbs is 74 years. If I live to the average, I have about 49 years left. Better get to work! :D

Current Music: She's Got A Way - Billy Joel

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It's kind of an old thing to make a list of things you want to do or accomplish in your life, but I'd never made one. That is, until last night (dun dun duunnnn). I noticed my list contained things in roughly two groups: things that you can do once to check off, (like "build a bike,") and things which are more recurring (like "be a better person). Some items could probably be in either list. Neither list is anywhere near exhaustive.

Things To Do
Play piano
Learn a foreign language (top picks: Japanese, Spanish, Arabic)
Learn to code (PHP, Javascript)
Write a novel
Create an amateur video (with a plot)
Improve my English
Do woodworking
Pay off my debt
Write a non-fiction book
Write a screenplay
Give sound investment advice
Raise adoring, well-adjusted children
Improve my penmanship
Write a song
Plant a garden
Procrastinate less
Write letters (pen and paper) to people
Seriously draw or paint a picture (despite my lack of talent)
Eat an animal I slaughtered and prepared myself
Learn archery
Contribute to an open source project
Exercise more
Write an elected official over an issue important to me
Prepare a full course meal for loved ones
Listen to old people tell their stories

Things To Be
Be more patient with people
Like and respect myself
Structure my day in a productive, disciplined fashion
Be more crafty
Be more self-sufficient
Independently study topics that interest me in a serious, disciplines fashion
Be more expressive with my face (show more emotion)
Have a more friendly, open demeanor
Sleep consistently
Take life more seriously
Manage my finances efficiently
Be more open with myself
Be helpful to people (intellectually, emotionally) in a non-condescending manner
Be more empathetic and sympathetic
Consider my words more carefully
Be more deliberate in my actions
Be more open to or accepting of constructive criticism
More honestly consider ideas and perspectives I do not agree with
Play with Ichi more
Be more accepting of praise
Be more gratuitous
Don't slouch
Swear less
Enunciate more
Use my powers for good and not for evil
Finish what I start
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An Iranian court has ordered a man to give his wife the 124,000 roses that he promised in her dowry, after she filed a complaint to claim it, reports say.

>Source


Oh man, this tickled me pink :P

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I'm feelin': amused amused

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OK, here is a rough draft of the opening of my Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel (mentioned here). I'm titling the story "Wonk."

WonkCollapse )

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I'm feelin': creative creative

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We were talking the other night at work and I got a story idea. I said it would be neat to have a "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" but instead of a somewhat pleasant and friendly Willy Wonka, you have grumpy, elderly and greedy Bill Wonk. He loves money, loves chocolate, and hates children.

I wrote out a nice summary of a plot. It's a prequel to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." I never read the book, so of course I'd be changing details. Basically, Bill Wonk finds compassion through being around children (after exploiting them). It has all the elements of your average (good) children's story.

I'm pretty excited.

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I'm feelin': creative creative

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