June 29, 2003

Charlie's Angels 2

I am currently sitting in my house and as I type this my seven year-old cousin is playing on my Nintendo 64 behind me. My mother volunteered that I would watch him tonight. Don't you just love when that happens.

Anyway, I am ashamed to admit I went to see the Charlie's Angels sequel. What did I think of it? I remember reading somewhere a statement sort of like this about this first movie: "Someone has finally discovered the perfect formula for summer blockbuster success: sexy women in tight clothes kicking ass." That was what the movie was basically. There were a large number of sexual innuendos, but then again so do all movies nowadays. I really couldn't tell if in some parts the movie was being funny intentionally.

Other than that, it has just been the same old stuff happening every day. What an exciting life I lead.

Posted by Randy at 12:30 AM

June 24, 2003

Late Night Ramblings

Rambling thoughts at three in the morning.

Tonight I couldn't sleep so I decided to watch a movie (I chose Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets because I finally read all of those books. They are actually quite good.). While walking back to my room after I put the DVD back where my parents keep them I noticed a sheet of paper taped to the side of my father's gun safe (Yes, it is a gun safe, get over it). I couldn't help but wonder how many times I had walked by this piece of paper since I had come back from LU without actually looking at it. This piece of paper had scribbled on it phone numbers of the various phone numbers of the friends that my sister and I have had.

That's all background. Looking at that sheet of paper, I quickly noticed what number had been added most recently. The number, which was written in my mother's handwriting (the only legible handwriting in the family), was my sister's cell phone number. Why, you may wonder, am I rambling on about seeing my sister's cell phone number? I believe the Christmas before last my parents gave me a cell phone. I almost never use it. I sometimes need to call my parents and have occasionally needed to call other people on it, but other than that it doesn't get much use. My sister, on the other hand, wanted one of her own immediately. Knowing how much she used the phone at home, I can only imagine that she used a large amount of her minutes talking and sending text messages. I know for a fact that the last text message she sent was on the night of her death. It was to Levi (the one eventually going to the Marines). She was telling him she didn't want him to go because "I'll miss you."

Anyway, the point of all of this is that seeing that number caused me to realize it was a totally foreign number to me. I don't have it in my cell phone's phonebook, I've never written it down, and I've certainly never called it. Assuming that she was given it for her birthday, she had the phone for six months. Never once did either of us call the other on our cell phones. That realization made me feel a sharp pang of guilt. My sister and I weren't the closest siblings, but I would have laughed in your face had you told me that she would get a cell phone and I wouldn't call her once on it in six months.

These thoughts, along with a few others that are too long to type up right now (I'm sleepy), are really making me feel like a total asshole.

Posted by Randy at 03:19 AM

June 22, 2003

Fred On Everything

Busy week. I won't bore you with the details about it, but I will bore you with something else instead. I came across this article at Joke A Day and discovered it came originally from Fred On Everything. I found it interesting because it partially reflects several of my views on the rabid "patriotism" of some people I have encountered.

Click below to read it.

Heinz, Adolph, and Poland

Why Johnny Fights

In my daily snowstorm of email I find furious appeals to patriotism, usually addressed to large lists of recipients. The writers invoke The Founding Fathers, urge fealty, and counsel solidarity with all the whoop and holler of a camp meeting. I'm puzzled. Why is patriotism thought to be a virtue? It seems to me a scourge.

Judging by my mail, patriotism has little to do with a fondness for one's country. Yes, many Americans like America. They reflect affectionately on Arizona's painted deserts and the wooded hollows of Tennessee, on the music of Appalachia and New Orleans, the rude vigor and brashness of a remarkable people, the rich accents of Brooklyn and Mississippi, all the things that give a sense of home and attachment in a large world. But they do not want blood. They speak quietly. Apparently they are not patriots. They do not use the word.

The email patriots are different. They growl and threaten, and seem less to appreciate their country than to hate others. They remind me of nothing so much as bar-room drunks looking for a fight. Their letters seethe with bitterness and begin with denunciations of liberals and the communist media (by which they mean any that fail to agree with them). They don't eat French fries. They hate. They would make, and in fact did make, excellent Nazis.

The difference between patriotism and love of country seems to be the difference between an inward-looking fondness and an outward-looking hostility. The email patriots regard any disagreement as treachery and softness. To doubt the wisdom or necessity of a war, any war, is treason; any inclination to think for oneself is evidence of being in the enemy's camp.

This is everywhere the rule. There were Japanese who thought that attacking the United States was not a conspicuously bright idea. They were squelched by patriots. GIs loved duty in Tokyo.

Malignant patriotism explains the attack, by a large heavily armed industrial power, against a weak and bedraggled nation so helpless as to be conquered in weeks. I refer of course to the Nazi assault on Poland. The Wehrmacht, like the Imperial Japanese Army, was awash in patriotism. It is in large part why they fought so well. No emotion is more usefully manipulable by governments with misbehavior in mind.

The connections among patriotism, military service, Christianity, and morality are tangled and fascinating. The first two appear to me to be incompatible with the second two. Consider Heinz, a German youth joining his armed forces in, say, 1937. Enlisting was then, as now, a patriotic thing to do. Heinz was probably a decent sort. Most people are. He probably had little interest in Poland, a minor creation which posed no threat to Germany. He liked beer and girls.

Then, come September of 1939, he found himself butchering Poles. The war had nothing to do with defense. The German attack was savage, unprovoked, and murderous. And why was Heinz killing people he didn't know? Because his government told him it was his patriotic duty. Which is to say that being in the Wehrmacht meant forfeiting moral independence to a dark squatty effeminate Aryan blond superman. Oh good.

It is curious. If Heinz had decided to kill Poles as a free-lance, he would have been called a mass-murderer, hanged, and had a movie made about him. If as a soldier he had decided not to kill Poles, having no reason to kill them, he might have been shot as a mutineer. But when he killed them unreflectingly because he had been told to, he became a minor national hero and and, if extraordinarily effective in the killing, received a medal.

Fortunately for Adolph, refusals on moral grounds to kill the enemy, any enemy, are rare. In human affairs, morality is more than window-dressing, but not much more. Lust, hormones, and the pack instinct take easy precedence. Thus armies seldom say en masse, "No. We think it the wrong thing to do."

When the war goes badly, patriotism becomes compulsory. Heinz, driving toward Stalingrad, did not have the choice of changing his mind. Deserters tend to be shot. Enormous moral suasion serves to quell reluctance to die. Going against the herd is unpleasant. Governments understand this well.

Patriotism often needs propping, and gets it. Conscription serves to make fight those who otherwise wouldn't. (The ancient Persians used whips to force unwilling soldiers to go forward. Firing squads work as well, and do not tire the arm.) Societies punish draft-dodgers, except in the case of Republican presidents, and revile conscientious objectors as cowards, traitors, and homosexuals. Deserters particularly suffer heavy punishment, because if soldiers in a long nasty war could escape without penalty, most would.

Heinz, being German, was probably a Christian. Soldiers often believe themselves to be Christians. There is remarkably little in the New Testament to encourage aggressive slaughter, yet Christian countries have regularly attacked everybody within reach. (So of course have most other countries.)

Heinz cannot serve two masters. Either he puts the authority of religion above that of government, or he kills anyone he is told to kill. As a rule he compartmentalizes, accepts official justifications, and obeys.

Why does a coalition of Christian nations send troops at great expense to the Middle East to attack a Moslem nation offering no threat? I refer of course to the Crusades. The answer is simple: Humankind has a profound instinct to form warring groups. Crips and Bloods, Redskins and Cowboys, Catholics and Protestants, liberals and conservatives. Because a thin veneer of reason floats like pond scum on our instincts, we invent tolerable rationalizations: We must take the Holy Lands from the infidels. God says so.

In Chicago, young males form nations, which they call by such names as the Vice Lords, the P Stones, the Black Gangster Disciples. They have ministers, pomp and circumstance, hierarchy, and intense loyalty to the gang. They wear uniforms of sorts-hats with bills pointed to the left or right, chosen colors-and they fight for turf, which is empire measured in blocks. The gangs of Chicago are international relations writ small.

Patriotism is most dangerous when mixed with religion. Both give high purpose to low behavior. Worst are the fundamentalists, the Ayatollahs and born-agains, the various Christian Wahabis and Islamic Cromwells. A fundamentalist believes that any idea wandering into his mind comes from On High. Actually he is making it up. He confuses himself with God, which is not a good thing when he is a bit loony to begin with. Fundamentalists usually are.

Usually wrong, but unfamiliar with doubt. I can't think of a better ground for policy.

Posted by Randy at 02:21 PM

June 16, 2003


The longer that I live the more convinced I become that I am bipolar. Take now, for instance. Earlier today I was overjoyed at the idea of driving my new car to Longview to pick up my liscence plates and registration. I enjoyed the trip up there and the trip back. Now, I feel depressed.

I have absolutely no reason to be depressed. Yes, my sister was killed in an explosion a little over two months ago, but I refuse to believe that it is just now causing me to become depressed after no depression (after the initial mourning) for almost two months. In fact, I have more reasons to be happy right now than I have had in quite some time. I got a new car, I just returned from a trip to the Florida Keys, I get to keep my scholarship, I was able to catch up on a lot of reading that I had been intending to do, and I even have older relatives coming to me for advice. Yet, I feel horrible depressed. I don't understand it.

I also just realized this is my third post to this blog today. I think that maybe I am just thinking too much about everything in my life right now.

Posted by Randy at 11:48 PM

An Observation

I made a realization today that I can't believe I didn't see earlier. Looking at it, this thought should have surfaced long ago and I can't help but wonder why I am just now seeing it. The thought is this: my new car will always be a reminder that my sister was not able to reach sixteen.

Reviewing past conversations with my mother, I remember her telling me that she and my father wanted to buy me a new car. It is only now that I have realized that they could afford to get me a new car because they would not have to buy my sister a car. In fact, if she had not been killed, my mother would probably have given my sister her car and she would have got something new. Instead, I got a better car and my mother is keeping her Beetle.

The reason I felt this was worth mentioning is that I don't know if I simply failed to notice this fact or if I blocked it out in order to not have to think about it. If I did block it out, I can't help but wonder what other things I might have blocked out just because I don't want to think about them.

Posted by Randy at 09:43 PM

Rural South

This is absolutely amazing to me. Even though I have now been out of school for over a year, I am still informed on an almost regular basis about the ongoing soap opera that is my high school. I'm not sure why some of my friends still follow what is happening there, but I really don't want to know who is going with who, who is cheating with who, and, in this latest case, who got who pregnant. (That last sentence probably should have had a few "whom"s in it, but I don't care at the moment.)

Do you live in a rural southern area? Are you surrounded by self-proclaimed rednecks and hicks? Do you think of yourself as a slightly more open-minded person than most of those around you in your hometown? If you answered "yes" to those three questions, you might be able to understand the constant frustration I get when trying to carry on any political or religious discussion with the majority of the people here in Hicktown, Texas. I am so tired of hearing (in a Texas drawl) that people protesting the government should be kicked out, that all homosexuals should be shot, that black people are the cause of many problems, that there is a God because He exists, and other ignorant things that the person spouting it hasn't even thought about.

Now, all of those views aren't carried by everyone, but it seems more and more that everyone here has at least one of them ingrained into their mind. Every time I come home I am reminded once again of the typical stereotype about Texans and southerners and become outraged that these people are helping to make that stereotype look more and more like fact. Why does this make me so upset? Because I hate it when a person hears my accent, identifies me as a Texan, and then stops listening to anything I have to say. I hate my background causing other people to make assumptions about my intelligence and how I will behave. I hate people rolling their eyes when I say something that they disagree with and simply ignoring it because I'm just an "ignorant Texan."

I know that I have my own stereotypes that I sometimes catch myself using, but at least I am trying to not stereotype every single person that I meet and trying to stop using those stereotypes. That is more than I can say about a lot of people.

Posted by Randy at 11:50 AM

June 15, 2003

Hitchhiker's Guide

Today was a long day. I had to wake up way too early, go to my aunt's house to celebrate her 50th birthday, give gifts to my grandfather, go to Nacogdoches to pick up a few things for my car, vacuum my car's floor, handwash my car, and do loads of laundry. Even though I enjoyed doing a large amount of that stuff, today still seemed to crawl by slowly. Later tonight I'm going to try to continue typing up information concerning a project I'm working on with a few floormates.

Because none of the above stuff is really that interesting, I will instead talk about an incredible series of books I have read. Considering some of the people that I know read this blog, I am sure a review is totally unnecessary. However, you are getting it anyway. The series started with a little book called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Absolutely incredible. I enjoyed all five books in the series and would highly recommend this series to anyone who asks me about it. For any of you who have not been fortunate enough to read this series, you should know that it is a science fiction series. I have generally not been a fan of science fiction novels so you should give the books a shot even if you don't like sci fi. The books are very funny and have several good quotations. My favorite is given by Mr. Ford Prefect in the third book of the series, Life, the Universe, and Everything:

"My doctor says that I have a malformed public duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fiber," he muttered to himself, "and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes."

Anyway, if you haven't read the books and think that you might, I highly suggest reading them. You won't be disappointed.

Posted by Randy at 09:33 PM

Return from Key West

I'm finally back! Although I enjoyed my time in Florida, a week and a half just seemed way too long to stay down there. I brought a little notebook down there with me so I have several different things I want to write about but I will need to spread all of that stuff out over several days. I also absolutely love my new car and I am overprotecting it with a zeal that almost border on obsession.

However, before I tell you about all of that, I would like to ask that you would keep my friend David from LeTourneau in your prayers. Yes, this is the same David who has an eccentric obsession with all things banana. He was in a car wreck and was banged up fairly badly. For more information, go to David's blog and read all about it.

Now, for the first of my rants.

Travelling with little kids suck. I went to Key Largo with my cousin, her husband, and their family. They have an almost four-year old daughter, Hannah, and a a seven-year old son, Logan. Before I went on this trip I thought that Hannah was a sweet if slightly spoiled child and that Logan was an intelligent and tough, if small, kid. How little did I know that my impressions were almost totally and completely wrong. Shelli, if you ever read this, I'm sorry for bashing your kids but this is how I see them.

Hannah (if you can forgive my harshness--words can not accurately describe the tantrums she could throw) now appears to me as a conniving, manipulitave, spoiled, lying brat. In order to try to get people to buy her things, she would go through little phases. First, she would ask nicely. If that didn't work, she would throw a tantrum. If that didn't work, she would try to be so cute that you would buy it for her. When she threw tantrums, she would cross her arms, stomp, and start screaming silently. You know what I mean? That open-mouth-but-no-sound-only-air scream. After a few seconds of that, she would go into yelling and crying. Eventually, you could tell she was forcing herself to keep screaming because the tone of her yell would end. She lied to her parents several times during the trip. On the way home from the airport, she cried and yelled for at least thirty minutes for "Momma to sit by meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee." Usually, when everyone ignored her little fits, she would eventually shut up. Not this time. During that time, Logan was aggravating her, which probably caused her to keep going. Her mother eventually compromised and leaned across the car to hold her hand. After a few minutes of that she fell asleep.

Logan turned out to be a hard-headed, whiny, argumentative, wanna-be know-it-all crybaby. He argued with his parents about everything. EVERYTHING! He argued about what people said, he argued about what people saw, he argued about facts in books and movies, etc. No matter what you were talking about he would try to push his way into the conversation and pretend that he knew about it. He actually said to his mother on two different occasions with all seriousness, "I know everything." It is impossible to convince him he is wrong. You have to prove it to him. When he wasn't arguing, he was whining. About everything. He was hungry or thirsty. He needed to use the restroom. He didn't want to leave. He didn't want to go somewhere. He wanted to go somewhere else. It is important that you note that saying something once and then repeating it several minutes later to make sure the driver doesn't forget is not whining. Repeatedly saying it over and over until either what is being said is fulfilled or your get spanked is whining. As for being a crybaby, crying after you are spanked does not make you a crybaby. Crying for fifteen minutes after your mother spanks you once on the leg is being a crybaby.

Solutions for these problems? It seems to me that the two children above no longer respond to any kind of threat from their parents. Occasionally they will try to act decently, but that is only after being told several times, threatened with a spanking, and either parent actually walks over to the kid like he (or she) was going to be spanked. If I were those two parents, the next time either of them didn't do what I asked, whether it was something as trivial as picking up a piece of paper to something important like not playing in a street, I would grab the kid and spank him (or her) until he (or she) could not sit down. You would only have to do this a few times and several of the above behavior problems would be solved. Would this work on every child? Probably not. But there is a difference between disciplining your child and abusing your child. Corporal punishment would work with these two.

That's all I'm going to talk about concerning the trip at this time. However, I have one more thing to say.

Katy has a post in which she talks about having a really weird dream and dream analysis. I once had a really weird dream which resulted with me waking up in the middle of the night in tears. This dream was so strong emotionally that I still have a vivid memory of it. It was so strong that I did my own little analysis of it and wrote it down. I'm hoping I can find that analysis somewhere and I will share it. If not, I'll try to remember everything I thought about that dream and re-create it.

Coming Soon to a blog near you:
Thoughts about dreams, air travel, recently read books, freedom of speech, sleep deprivation, seasickness, and selfishness.

Posted by Randy at 01:13 AM

June 03, 2003

New Car!

Wow. Interesting day, today. For the second time this week I returned to Longview to go to a car dealership with my parents. After much waiting and telling them what I wanted, long (presumably thoughtful) pauses by my parents about what to buy, what price to pay, and what they thought I needed were held in front of the car salesman (who was very young for a car salesman, it seems). Eventually, they decided to buy me the car. I do not have this car in my possession as of now because they had to get it from a place near Houston. They didn't have the car I wanted in the color I wanted with the options I wanted. Apparently, there were only three such cars which fitted all of my conditions in the state of Texas. I can't help but feel a small twinge of pride about that. The car will be anxiously awaiting my return from Key West. Anyway, if you want to see the car, go here.

After I got back from Longview, I had the absolute joy of taking care of a few animals for my grandfather while he is in Arkansas. Why, you may ask, is this an absolute joy for a person who despises taking care of outside animals? The answer is very simple: he pays me $20 a day to do a job that takes less than an hour to complete. After the obligatory "you don't have to pay me that much" objection, I gladly took the money and, today, went to work.

And now I need to type up some stuff that I promised some people I would type up in order to not feel like a lazy piece of crap.

Posted by Randy at 04:16 PM

Easier to Run

Easier to Run by Linkin Park

It's easier to run
Replacing this pain with something numb
It's so much easier to go
Than face all this pain here all alone

Something has been taken
From deep inside of me
A secret I've kep locked away
No one can ever see
Wounds so deep they never show
They never go away
Like moving pictures in my head
For years and years they've played

If I could change I would
Take back the pain I would
Retrace every wrong move that I made I would
If I could
Stand up and take the blame I would
I I could take all the shame to the grave I would

Sometimes I remember
The darkness of my past
Bringing back these memories
I wish I didn't have
Sometimes I think of letting go
And never looking back
And never moving forward so
There would never be a past

Just washing it aside
All of the helplessness inside
Pretending I don't feel misplaced
Is so much simpler than change

It's easier to run
Replacing this pain with something numb
It's so much easier to go
Than face all this pain here all alone

This is a song from Linkin Park's new CD Meteora. After listening to this album several times, a few songs stuck in my mind. This was one of them.

I didn't really understand everything it said until I read the lyrics to it. This song hit me in a way that I never thought a song could. It describes something I have been experiencing in my life recently which, like always, has came back into my life while at home. I have tried to change this part of me (I am determined that it is only a part of my mind that can and will change) and thought I have succeeded at some times. However, I have weak moments--a significantly larger number than at LeTourneau, it seems.

I suppose that everyone has their own "dark" secrets which they don't want anybody to know. None of you know how large a step it is for me to even be writing so ambiguously about it as I am now. I wasn't going to until I listened to the song again and felt compelled to get this out of my system. Maybe someday I will be able to talk about this part of me with people openly. However, for better or worse, right now it is between me and God.

Posted by Randy at 12:12 AM