Buggy Browsers

posted 16 April 2002

You know what I really hate?

You DON'T? Are you BLIND? There's a whole SECTION for stuff I hate! Yes, anyway, what I really hate just at this moment is buggy browsers. But let's start at the beginning.

  1. Where browsers came from
  2. How browsers developed
  3. The present and forward

Where browsers came from

According to all the Histories of The Internet that I just finished reading, the first web browser was created way back on or around January 12th 1992. Funny, isn't it, to think that the web didn't exist until then? Up to a year later, there were a grand total of 50 HTTP hosts -- so your bookmark file didn't have to be all that big, to tell you the truth. In September 1993, Marc Andreesen's brainchild Mosaic -- the first graphical web browser, the previous ones were text-based and command-based -- was released for Mac and Windows (it had been released for X-Windows, on UNIX, in January).

It's pretty obvious to me that that was when the "big boom" started... a timeline of the Internet will show nothing more than a hissing fuse of servers until then, when the 'net grew more than 340,000% annually. There was no warning, and little expectation, and absolutely zero preparedness. So I guess I can't blame the browsers for being so crummy, but maybe they could have used a little more common sense.


How browsers Developed

When baby Marc [Andreesen] started Netscape in 1994, he knew he was on to a good thing. The standard for web pages was HTML, which at that time was an extremely simple language that barely required a computer to interpret. With no standards body and nobody to stop him, he freely added to this language to give it to more capability -- and this was a good idea, and his innovations are the main reasons the web is so much fun. He created the ability to put images on pages, and the ability to make tables (still one of the cornerstones of all web design), and added all sorts of cool things like frames and forms and basically everything we now use on a regular basis in our websites.


However, he -- or Netscape in general -- began to get carried away. By late 1996, standards were forming, and Microsoft's horribly catch-up attempt at a web browser was on the horizon. There was also a group, the W3C, which since August 1994 had been trying to bring coherence to the language, and was beginning to suceed. Heady with being the market leader, Netscape continued to come out with new tags (or extensions to HTML) without notifying or consulting the public first. This led to such things as the unanimously-voted Most Annoying Tag Ever -- BLINK -- and widespread incompatibilities with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which through admittedly unfair marketing techniques was gaining ground. Microsoft, ever-ready to maintain its reputation as the quintissential Big Evil Corporation, was doing exactly the same thing, with fun and easy but technically irresponsible tags such as MARQUEE (which made a line of text scroll across your screen) and BGSOUND (which allowed you to add background sounds to your pages, subverting Netscape's pre-existent EMBED tag, which allowed you to embed ANY multimedia, INCLUDING background sounds, but which was harder to implement).


The incompatibilities worsened steadily into versions 3.0 of the browsers. People began to make double pages -- one version for Netscape, and one for MSIE. Or, worse, they would stick an obnoxious little "Designed for X browser" logo at the bottom of their page, as if alienating close to half your audience was somehow a loyal and worthy thing to do. If Microsoft wasn't so nasty, maybe this wouldn't have happened, and people would have tried to adopt both, but the Microsoft-hating loyal Netscape users started the custom, and newly-converted MSIE people struck back in kind. And, of course, Netscape didn't like Microsoft very much for giving away it's browser while Netscape was just climbing into the black with its $50 price tag. So the companies began to make incompatibilities on PURPOSE (all though neither would admit it) to force loyalties. This backfired, and instead everybody got really pissed off with them both, and demanded some order.


Any sane person would have seen that the best thing to do for version 4.0 in light of these events was for both companies to throw their weight behind the W3C, tell it come out with a standard version chop chop, and produce browsers to match. This didn't happen, for several reasons:

  1. The W3C didn't have the confidence of anyone right then. They'd managed to go seriously astray in producing version 3.0 of HTML, which had been so completely unworkable that it had been totally abandoned. They were working on version 3.2, but it wasn't going to happen for a while.
  2. NS and MS were in a competitive frenzy. They couldn't stand around waiting for W3C to blow its nose, far less make a standard, or the other would release version 4.0 first. And they hated each other's guts, so cooperation without a third party was out of the question.
  3. Browsers based on a single standard would have to compete in other ways -- ease of use, reliability, speed of operation, price, and features additional to web browsing such as FTP, IRC, News and E-mail. This did not sit well with either company: both version 3.0 browsers were huge, slow, buggy pieces of shit, and their preliminary forays into versions 4.0 were equally bad.
  4. Both companies were still operating under the ethos that He Who Makes the Best Tags Wins. This was, in fact, no longer the case. By version 4.0, just about anything was going to be possible -- people were able to do whatever they wanted to do with their documents. Getting them to do it reliably, on the other hand, and on both browsers simultaneously, was a task even God had only managed to do once, and he took it down because the page was boring. Additionally, new tags were becoming rapidly passé, with the technology diverging into HTML for logical structures, style sheets for presentation, and JavaScript (or, if you were a power-hungry evil monopoly, VBScript).
  5. And of course, because everybody knows business people aren't sane. Don't you read Dilbert?

The Present and Forward

So the versions 4.0 of the browsers are a huge mess. They have advanced capabilities, but they don't work together, so it's still often necessary to make double-scripts and double-pages to get a site to work. And, as a web developer, that really, really, really pisses me off.

That's bile for now.


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Friendships

posted 16 April 2002

I'm finding it very interesting at the moment to think about what causes friends and friendships to form, to fail, and to last, because of what some of my friends are currently going through. It seems to me that there should be limited set of reasons why people like each other, and that these factors must be fairly understandable. If that's true, we should be able to predict who will like each other, and who won't, which seems really useful. And, like all my theories, I aim to form some kind of method of varying these factors to control the situation. Control freak? Me? Nah.

Let's split this topic up:

  • What is a friendship?
  • Why friendships form
  • How friendships form
  • How to maintain a friendship
  • Why friendships stop
  • How friendships stop
  • How to keep the friends you want and lose the ones you don't, without hurting anybody's feelings. (aka: How to be a Manipulative Bastard)

1. What is a friendship?

This is important to define. What is a friend, and what is a friendship? Where does friendship start and stop -- i.e., at what stage from acquaintance to friend, and what stage goes past friendship to some other level?

Going solely on my own feelings, I'd have to say that a friend is someone you

  1. know a bit about,
  2. admire, and
  3. care for.

I can't think of anybody I would classify as a real friend who doesn't meet all three of those specifications. I would classify any others as just "acquaintances" or at some stage in between an acquaintance and a friend. The only possible exception might be someone who meets (i) and (iii) but whom you don't admire, a "no-good" friend, but I'm prepared to demote such people as just acquaintances if there's really NOTHING you admire about them. Some might be losers in most aspects, but would nevertheless have some redeeming quality. Nobody has friends whom they don't admire for something. Maybe this has some primal evolutionary reason -- we make friends with people who have a skill or a quality we lack, thus by banding together the group is stronger. That certainly makes evolutionary sense, and I have repeatedly found that a great deal of human society can still be boiled down to evolutionary terms. This precludes the idea of "love at first sight" to a major extent, unless you're willing to classify what somebody looks like as "knowing a bit about them" which would seem like an overly shallow thing to do, and would lead to people falling in love with wax dummies all the time :-) (well, okay, no, because you'd probably ascertain whether the person was real or not from looking at them). Actually, it's quite possible that the third qualification is false: perhaps once one and two are met, three happens automatically? But we'll leave it in, because these items are not really distinct anyway: in order to admire someone you have to know about them, and once you admire them you may care for them. We were splitting up what was really a single concept to make it more understandable.

However, there is one qualification I overlooked initially:

  1. the feeling must be MUTUAL.

Therefore, no matter how much your stalker loves you, you two aren't friends unless you have a thing for stalkers. I have a feeling -- nay, a certainty, since I came back and wrote this paragraph subsequently, having encountered a problem further down -- that this fourth qualification will be important later.

That decided, then, what is a friendship? It is not quite as anal-retentive to define this as it seems. In defining it, we can figure out by definition when it starts and when it ends. I would say that it begins and ends when the three qualifications I listed are met and subsequently no longer apply. That would mean that somebody who you love is still also your friend, which matches common sense. But how do you judge whether the qualifications are satisfied or not? I don't think there's any empirical way to judge whether you care for someone, and "knowing about" someone is equally fuzzy. But those definitions will do for now.

SIDE TOPIC: War & Peace

(can you believe this is a side topic?)

Incidentally to this topic, this definition of friendship is supportive of another one of my little theories in life, which is that it is impossible to hate somebody you really know. Perhaps I'm optimistic, but I think everyone must have SOME admirable quality if you just get to know them well enough. So while someone may have a large number of qualities you detest -- for instance, they might be a racist or a religious fundamentalist or something equally distasteful -- but once you understand WHY, you might not AGREE, but you will understand, and you will like them anyway because of whatever other admirable qualities they have. This is perhaps an obvious point, but not to everyone, and it's very important, because that would preclude war in the current Information Age.

Follow the logic to the conclusion, and look at past evidence: fights and wars throughout history have typically been between groups of people with different culture, a great deal of the time different languages, and even more often significant physical separation -- even civil wars tend to occur between inhabitants of a region, although there are exceptions such as those fought on a religious basis (but even then, different religions tend to ghettoize and cluster together, introducing a spatial separation. But at the heart of these reasons, the disputes are mainly fueled by a lack of UNDERSTANDING: misinformation and propaganda, for this reason, are such useful tools in war: rumours of false atrocities or disgusting practices like cannibalism or torture have been used time and again to boost morale in armies. Wars between America and the former USSR or Germany are ideal examples, as well as the Crusades: both sides in all three cases (except possibly the Germans considering the Americans) held glaringly false impressions of the others -- the Americans were considered decadent by the USSR; the USSR deemed totalitarian and soul-crushing; the Turks were infidels to the knights, and the feeling was mutual.

So with the current widespread availability of information -- and the truth is always more abundant than fiction when both sides are communicating fully -- such understandings are less likely. Spatial, linguistic and cultural differences are merely devices which inhibit this communication. Some might say that such wars in the past were based on ideology, not misunderstanding: but if you understand someone's ideology, their motivation for doing or not doing something, then you don't hate it, even if you don't approve of it.

2. Why and how friendships form

In defining the term, we also determined why a friendship forms: the qualifications are met. However, HOW a friendship forms is still to be decided. Let's look at each qualification in turn:

(i) knowing about the person

To get to know somebody, you have to find out about them. You find out from external sources -- everything from friends to the phonebook to the dating service -- but the richest source is the person themselves. You have to talk to them -- at length -- to get to know them. This is why the art of conversation is so valuable. So, if you're looking for advice on how to make friends, you have to be able to communicate.

As an aside, the method of communication need not be face-to-face conversation. Pen-pals have been getting romantically involved for decades now, forget just friends. And I know a number of people who have ten times as many friends online as offline, because they can write intelligently, just not speak that way. I've found this very interesting, and it was one of the reasons I wrote this. And of course, the information you find out doesn't need to be abstract -- physical information like the fact that the other person is a complete babe with really great skin and a killer smile, or financial information -- that their daddy owns 40% of Australia -- can be just as useful, and, provided you're evil and shallow minded (like me) then these may sway your opinion.

(ii) admiring the person

there's probably no way to CONTROL this, since what you admire is going to be a quality inherent within somebody. In a practical situation, you might steer the conversation towards things that you enjoy, or things that interest you. If they're interested in such things, and -- importantly -- are better than or close to equal to you in that field, or in a related field, then by the previously-mentioned evolutionary impetus you will probably find yourself admiring them.

(iii) caring about the person

as I mentioned, this is probably a result of the first two.

(iv) the feeling being mutual

This is very important to forming a friendship. See where that inserted paragraph came in? :-) It's all very well finding out all about somebody and finding out you like them, but if they don't know you exist then nothing's ever going to happen, and your one-sided friendship may turn to infatuation, stalking, long lonely nights developing hidden-camera negatives in your basement, and eventual institutionalisation. That's something to avoid, so you need to tell THEM stuff about YOU too. Again, the communication doesn't need to be face to face, or abstract.

And that's basically how friendships form -- can you believe some people do all that automatically? That's just weird.

3. How to maintain a friendship

Here I begin to enter I'm-bullshitting-you territory. I mean, how the hell would I know? But the purpose of these things is just to put across my untested theories, so why the hell should I care if it's accurate or not? Once we understand that, that's cool. See? Now you can't hate me :-).

I've seen lots of friendships break down recently, and analysing them I'd have to say it's because of the second qualification: when admiration in either party fades away, then the friendship breaks down. That's what makes friendships dynamic: to maintain the friendship, still using my evolutionary model, each side of the friendship must be better than the other with respect to at least one activity, or know more with about one thing, and the other party must be interested in that aspect, or the impetus fades. Since everyone is learning and improving (to a lesser or greater extent) all the time, the balance can shift and things go wrong. The same thing can happen if one of the parties is no longer interested in the aspect they used to admire -- when interests change, you may no longer care whether or not they're better or worse than you, and so the impetus again fades.

This is why a good strong friendship often has a strong competitive undercurrent which no one likes to admit to, especially if the two fields of interest are related. Sometimes, a happy compromise happens in which each party continues to improve in their field and yet be interested in the other's separate field: for instance, a singer and a songwriter, or some similarly complementary pair.

Therefore, to maintain your friendship you have to keep communicating, keep letting the other party know about the field in which they are interested, keeping them interested. And, of course, you have to be continuously improving and changing in that or another field. Everything else will take care of itself. Too often, in my view, people take relationships for granted once they're started, and so they quickly break down again. Now you know better :-) Finally, it's also important to know when to let a relationship go: if the person really no longer has an interest in your area, even though you're communicating well, then it's important to realise that and give up, to save everybody a lot of stress. The feeling has to be MUTUAL.

4. Why and how friendships stop

The previous topics having been completed, this is easy: if you don't do all these things I've been mentioning, then your friendships will break down and stop. Well. That was brief.

5. How to keep the friends you want and lose the ones you don't, without hurting anybody's feelings.

(aka: How to be a Manipulative Bastard)

So far most of what I've said has been talking about starting and keeping friends and friendships. Sometimes though, you have a friend -- old or new -- who you find you no longer have any interest in. What to do? Assuming you don't want to hurt their feelings, out of some kind of sentimental, illogical attachment, or just not wanting to be thought of as the evil manipulative bastard that you are, this can be difficult. If you DON'T care about their feelings, then it's easy, by the way -- you just stop communicating with them, and indicate that you don't want to hang around with them anymore. They'll be pissed, but you won't care.

If you do care, then, unfortunately, you have to do the same thing, but more subtley. I really can't think of an easy way. They still like you, you don't like them, but they won't go away. You can try deliberately boring them, but that's a bit on the bastard side too, and no fun for you either. So, all in all, honesty is best here, but they're still gonna be pissed.

Wasn't it disappointing to read all this to find that the most useful answer is the one I didn't get? Not half as disappointing as writing it, let me tell you.

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How to be happy

posted 16 April 2002

What do I want out of life, how best do I get it, and what factors do I need to consider?

What I want out of life is happiness. This is always true, no matter how you look at it or reconsider things - everything boils down to a desire for contentment.

How do I achieve happiness? My first thought is that in the simplest situation, I should be able to become happy by fulfilling all my needs. But "needs" are fictional. What we universally classify as "basic needs" - food, water, shelter, et al - are what are required to stay alive. However, we do not "need" to stay alive, if you think about it. We want to stay alive. Therefore, almost any need we come across has a want at its heart. This is important to remember. It means that any "needs" you find defined by any source are essentially false. So, hereafter, "needs" and "wants" should be taken to mean essentially the same thing.

Now some people fool themselves into thinking that they should be happy once they have all their needs, and if, once they have all that they think that they need and are still not happy then they are greedy or malcontent. This is dumb, because what they think they need has been arbitrarily defined, either by themselves based on certain perceived criteria on their part, or, as is more often the case, by the combined pressures of society, and religion. Essentially, happiness is happiness, and if for some reason you want more than society has defined that you need, then it doesn't mean you're malcontent, it means that the needs you have defined are not complete. You can be happy by fulfilling all your needs, but first you must seek and define your needs, and everybody's needs vary. So to be happy, you have to be honest with yourself.

Now, thinking along these lines, it seems that your needs are defined and limited by how much you know: because, while you may not want everything, the more you know exists, the more things in that there are to want. What you want is a percentage, or in some other way related to, how much you know. Now, morality and to some extent religion define wanting all the desirable things of which you know as "greed" and further says that this is somehow wrong. This would be appear to be illogical in any case - how can wanting be wrong? It's just a thought. Surely it would be the acquisition and the means of acquisition which, if at all, would be "wrong" but my opinion is that this too is false. A basic human characteristic is desire, and in nearly all cases this desire seems to extend endlessly, defined by the level of knowledge for an individual. The only apparent exception occurs in the case of the "good Samaritan," the person who "lives to help others," and those who feel guilt through acquisition. In nearly all cases, again, these would appear to be cases of self-delusion, albeit in some cases admirable self-delusion - while doing good by the abandonment of worldly goods may cause happiness, it seems to me unlikely that this happiness would be greater than that obtained by fulfilling all one's needs. For some people, however, religious and/or social brainwashing will have made these the only ways to achieve happiness.

With analysis, it becomes apparent that knowledge therefore also limits one's happiness through interaction with the real world and by the fact that no knowledge is discrete. If for instance all somebody wants is good-tasting food within easy reach and a dry place to sleep, the knowledge required to remain constantly happy in that state is vast: one must learn farming, and all its inherent skills such as animal husbandry and/or agriculture, and one must have a knowledge of construction to the extent that a dry place to sleep can be maintained indefinitely. This knowledge leads on to other knowledge: how to make a comfortable place to sleep, how to get more food, how to store food so it doesn't have to be killed every day - these are all things that the previously-happy person will now become unhappy desiring. This same knowledge, in certain cases, will produce unhappiness another way, through interaction with the real world: if one lives in a swamp, or the animals you were farming die, one's knowledge of a dry place to sleep and easy-to-reach food makes one unhappy.

Think of a graph of happiness with increasing knowledge. At no knowledge, you want nothing and get nothing, so your happiness is total, or infinite, depending upon whether you think there is a limit to happiness. Ignorance is supreme happiness. Then, as knowledge increases, happiness decreases exponentially to some limit. Now, factor in the happiness obtained for a level of knowledge, assuming this arbitrarily to be a straight-line function of the amount of knowledge. Thus, although there is infinite happiness at no knowledge, there is also infinite happiness at infinite knowledge, and since no one has no knowledge, this is the only approachable point of happiness. It also suggests that there is a low point of happiness at one stage, when one's unhappiness due to knowledge of what one does not have is least balanced by happiness at what one does have. Experience shows that this happens frequently on a personal and even on a social level.

Thus, the way to be happy is to get as much knowledge as possible.
But what form of knowledge? And what about:

  • Power?
  • Money?
  • Acceptance?
  • Love?
How do they factor in? Are they all knowledge?

This clearly requires a lot more thinking about. Maybe one day I'll do it.


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Me versus God

posted 16 April 2002
How?
How can you do it?
How can you?
You who know the creation of new life as a chemical reaction you can draw,
You who can show every step of the way to build up the very substances of our flesh,
You who have seen the thoughts in our minds modelled as random interactions of simple systems on a computer still harbour such thoughts?
You who know the basis of our bodies, minds and souls to be as simple at their heart as an apple falling from a tree,
still find it necessary to believe in an explanation for the lights in the sky?
Does all of this mean nothing?
Can you discredit every original thought in the last thousand years as steps in the wrong direction and not know in your hearts you are making a mistake?
Why can't you remember that not everything your mother said was true? Why can't you believe that when you believe so much else?
WHY?

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Nature versus Noise

posted 16 April 2002

I just had an insight. It's been an awfully long time since I had one, or any kind of creative thought at all for that matter, since I've been out of school and my brain sensed that ceasing to function no longer brings any kind of meaningful retribution. It came when I did something I never expected to do: I turned off a Madonna song on the radio (which is odd enough) to listen to the sound of the rain on the roof (which is much more odd).

Doesn't the phrase along bring to mind the most wonderful of all feelings, the warm, snug feeling of being in a nice warm bed in a nice cool room and the sound of the rain outside? It is distinctly a Caribbean, tropical experience I think, for nowhere else do you get such a vast prevalence of galvanised roofing in housing combined with the large, heavy droplets of warm tropical rain. And the reason the feeling is so good is also very hard to explain: I feel it must have something to do with a desire to be back in the womb, a trait I frequently recognize in myself and one I think we all share deep down.

But the point was, why did I turn down the radio in order to listen to a sound so distinctly trivial? It was -- I check my clock now -- a few minutes before midnight, and I was about to go to bed. The radio was on, and it was playing Beautiful Stranger, which doesn't get nearly enough airplay despite the fact that DJ Richard Graham says "Yeah, baby, yeah" every ten second nowadays. I could listen to the rain any time, Madonna only until it dropped off the heavy-rotation list, but the compulsion to turn it off was too strong to resist, and as the rain starts again now I remember why. It's because that easy, constant, surrounding sound of real rain falling is so natural and above all so REAL.

Not for a long time will the best stereophonics be able to mimic the sound of rain falling, because it is one of very few sounds that actually does happen on all sides of you at once, not just giving you echoes. It's that surrounding that makes rain so psychologically comforting. But also rain is natural: it is not like a song or even an instrumental piece, it is the perfect random white noise, with no thoughts behind it, no direction, no hidden motives, no message. There is nothing to listen FOR in rain, it doesn't care if you listen or not, it is simply there to be listened TO. And even though on the face of it you could say that you could listen to rain anytime and it would always be the same. At any other time, the temperature, cloud height, humidity and wind speed could all be different, and the drops would never be the same size or speed, and they would never hit the same exact spots in the same order they did before: every fall of rain is a once-in-a-lifetime, personal experience -- because the rain sounds different depending where you are. Madonna, on the other hand, though famous for quick changes in character, will always have the same recording to play over and over again.

Which means I'll turn my word processor off now, and get back to my personal performance of cumulo-nimbus in concert.


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On Stimulation...

posted 16 April 2002

It upsets me to realise that I am only really creative when I am unhappy. It's as if I can only create positive things when given negative input. This is doubly annoying in that it means I can either be creative or I can be happy but not both, and more importantly that I can be creative for only a limited time. This is because creating things, more than anything else, makes me deeply and long-lastingly happy. So the more I create, the happier I will become, and the slower I will create more. Realising this, of course, makes me very unhappy, but I doubt that mere frustration is enough to make me unhappy enough to create. So what is the solution?

I always thought that what encouraged creativity was empty time to think, because I would frequently get my best thoughts just as I went to bed, or even in the middle of the night, or on vacation in a peaceful spot. But this was not really the case; the quiet times were when I *created*, but I got the *ideas* while annoyed and uncomfortable and unhappy the rest of the day, these things stimulated me such that I could create easily as soon as I had a moment. So my most creative moments, logically, were during school and even more so during exams, since I hated my school with a passion and exams were even furtherly stressful. This was also why, when faced with what I thought would be a very creative time, a totally empty and unscheduled year off, I entered a complete dry spell. Without stimulation -- without STRESS -- I had nothing to drive creativity, no negative to work against. I require resistance, or I don't move.

So how am I to keep myself maximally creative when everything is under my control? The secret is to find something to oppose. A goal is not an opposition, it's false self-generated opposition. I need a challenge, but more than a challenge, a challenge that taunts me and tells me I can't conquer it. A job would provide the kind of stress I require (not to mention the monetary resources I enjoy when I have them), but is this really the best way? I need that source of motivation other self-motivated people have. Most of these people have deep-seated insecurity or some kind of childhood trauma as their source, or at least chemically-driven mania from hormonal imbalance. I can't get these things for myself, obviously.

Incidentally to this, this theory would explain both the motivation to suceed which I used to possess and which failed me in form four or so, as well as the huge burst of creativity I experienced during my six month period of depression. It would also help to explain the enhanced motivation and creativity of homosexuals everywhere. There is nothing inherent in homosexuality that would make us more creative, but it is the stigma and the pressure of being a homosexual in today's societies that makes us creative. Strange to think that acceptance would rob us of the one great quality that many use as an argument for it.


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Philistines

posted 16 April 2002

What just REALLY pissed me off: people who miss the point of art. In any form.

I just saw a segment on VH1 in which 15 people consecutively failed to realise WHY Alanis is naked in the "Thank U" video. What is WITH these people, are they RETARDED? Thank you is all about the change in her attitude between the albums... she was bitter and unhappy before, but after the huge success of the first album she felt sort of guilty and fake, and she didn't like that, so she decided to be even more honest in the second album, showing that she really wasn't as extreme as that, that she has a softer side, that sometimes things are her fault and not somebody else's. The nakedness is a symbol of her new honesty, I mean, surely that's obvious? She's certainly not trying to be sexy -- what with stringy hair, pale skin and thunderthighs -- so there's gotta be some other reason, right people? But nooooo, people see naked and they think she's trying to be a slut. It pisses me off.

And of course, this is just one symptom of a wider problem. People miss the POINT of songs so often! "Hook" (by Blues Traveller) is a sarcastic song about the way people don't listen to the lyrics of songs and just like, duh, the hook, and yet I've actually HEARD people saying they don't like anything except the hook in that song! Dammit, that's annoying! It just gets me angry to think how often the real messages in songs and art must be overlooked -- does this happen all the time, or are these just isolated examples? I would have chosen the latter before, but after those 15 idiots on VH1 I'm not so sure. VH1 has some kind of show like that, doesn't it? It puts groups of people to watch and comment on videos, and they always get them amazingly wrong? Housewives watching rap videos and preschoolers watching romantic videos and stuff like that.

It makes me think there's no POINT in creating anything original. Since the meaning seems to lie more in the observer than the artist, the only people who will understand are other artists. And then, who knows if its the real message? I often think I must be reading too much into a song -- finding more meaning than they probably put in there. Is that worse than missing the intended meaning? It makes creativity seem such a sham. Which pisses me off, because I love to create stuff, and now it seems there's no point.

Oh well, that's my bile for today.


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Recloseted

posted 16 April 2002

I had forgotten what it was like to be closeted. I had forgotten, for a while, the motivation which had overcome even my greatest fears and my worst paranoia, back then, to tell people I was gay. I'd grown accustomed to the too-easy company of my friends, the way coming out to the latest person had just become an amusing game, which I'd promised to myself it would never be.

I remember now the pain and the frustration and the constant nagging feelings of inferiority which drove me so close to tears and worse time and again before the bubble of friends had grown large enough to be constantly comfortable. I'd forgotten the way the guilt rises unbidden in your mind at every mention of the same sex and pools in your head, literally weighing you down. The genuinely painful feeling of gazing at a gorgeous man while pretending to be looking elsewhere. The way of being constantly vigilant for suspicious glances from him and others, of watching yourself for a telltale gesture or a too-long glance in the long direction. Also the insidious feelings of shame when you lie and look embarrassed at the most innocent question from another about the direction of your affections, even though intellectually you know it is their fault and not yours that keeps them from knowing the truth. The literally claustrophobic sensations when the conversation turns to areas in which your knowledge is unKnowledge, facts you shouldn't know and can't tell, experiences you can't talk about, opinions you cannot back up without giving yourself away. I'd forgotten the way frustration becomes an oil that thickens the air and impedes your movement and chokes the vitality slowly out of you, like drowning in thick fog.

I feel now, briefly recloseted by a boatload of ignorants, exactly as I felt more than a year ago when nobody knew. It's as if my months of depression had never happened, the constant affirmations had gone unnoticed, the wonder of acceptance had never been experienced. The affirmation has to KEEP happening. In order to feel truly normal, or at least stable, you need tacit acceptance every day, and no amount of internal affirmation and self-acceptance will do.

This is not true, of course, for every condition. But in the specific case of homosexuality, the influences are all negative, the assumptions ALL lie in the opposite direction, there is not just a lack of acceptance to pull you into society but a measure of intolerance pushing you out of it at every second. And now that I have been out, I cannot remember how I ever managed being "in". It is an abhorrent, degrading experience to deny yourself at any time the feelings and expressions which the majority of humanity takes for granted so often. Which is why as soon as I am able I will out myself further, I will help others out themselves, I will fight with every weapon I can find the forces which keep the closets closed. I will not have myself recloseted again until they shut my coffin's lid.


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Why Science Fiction is the only kind worth reading

posted 16 April 2002

I believe that science fiction is basically the only type of fiction worth reading. To see why, you have to go back to basics. Why do we read anything at all? I can think of three reasons:

  1. To inform
  2. To entertain
  3. To "enlighten"

"Enlightenment" sounds fairly pretentious, but what I mean by enlightenment is "giving new ideas". Something that merely informs you is not quite the same: a newspaper informs you about the latest developments in the world, but in a framework you understand. A physics textbook, on the other hand, would enlighten you: you'd gain a whole new concept of the way the world worked, a fairly fundamental new way of thinking about something.

All fiction is meant to entertain. But science fiction is the only genre which enlightens you. Read a suspense novel and you get a mental maze: complicated, but nothing conceptually new. Just because you can't find the way out doesn't mean it's not basically the same as all other mazes, everywhere. Worse again is straight fiction. Straight fiction is basic fiction: stuff that sounds like real life, but never really happened. These are novels filled with different combinations of the same events, endlessly retold. The names are different, the location changes, the combinations of character traits are different every time, but it's the closed variety of a kaleidoscope -- merely the same pieces shaken into a different pattern.

But science fiction is different. Good science fiction feeds you concepts you would never have thought of otherwise: even if completely impossible physically, they give you mental images that are totally new to you -- new forms of life, new ways of looking at the universe, new ways of thinking about life, fundamental questions on the order of "why are we here?" are the bread and butter of well-written science fiction. The most fundamental question fiction can provide is, perhaps "why am I unhappy?".

But why then does science fiction have such a frequently bad reputation? Why do people tend to think about science fiction as not "real" reading? The problem is that science fiction is a relatively young form: basic fiction has been around for thousands of years (starting with the Bible, if you ask me...). Science fiction, on the other hand, was unknown until the nineteenth century and didn't really attract many authors until the early 20th. So while straight or basic fiction has been around long enough to produce some shining examples -- the prettiest kaleidoscope combinations -- science fiction was still finding its feet, and people were comparing the two.

Of course, there is no denying that there is a lot of bad science fiction: people retelling old stories using new words; knights in armour replaced by heroes in shining space suits. But there is also a vast body of worthless fiction. Well-written science fiction is still better than well-written fiction.

The fundamental point is that if I wanted real life, then I would go outside and live my life. There's no point in writing fiction that's just like life anyway. In the realm of sci-fi you change the universe and guess the consequences; nothing could be more interesting. And the best of the best science fiction makes plausible changes: these are writers who looks at the way the world is headed and try and predict where it will end up. This is the most interesting kind of fiction of all, and mentally it helps prepare us for the consequences of our actions. Jurassic Park, to take a popular example, gave everybody their first taste of what the power of genetic engineering might be. The 2001 trilogy predicted a number of concepts of space travel that are still guiding people today. And amongst the countless novels about alien lifeforms, hopefully there is one that has successfully predicted what things really will be like when we meet aliens for the first time.

Needless to say, I can't wait.

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Why Science and Religion will never agree

posted 16 April 2002

This article is an adaptation of an impromptu rant I went into on a mailing list, hence the somewhat light-hearted and ever-so-slightly aggressive tone.

Science and religion are two systems with the same goal: to explain the universe. The most popular example of this explanation is that of perhaps the most basic question: where did the universe come from in the first place? Yes, this is a creationism rant guys, go grab your Bibles and come out fighting!

The reason why one particular system cannot currently win, and maybe why neither ever will, is because when asked "Why does the universe exist?" both systems say "because". The difference between the system is, religion expects you to be satisfied with that answer, and science doesn't. Let me illustrate in two interviews:

RELIGION:

Q: So where did everything come from?
A: It all came from God creating it.
Q: Okay then, where'd god come from?
A: He/She/It just exists.
Q: But that's lame!
A: You must have faith. Stop asking questions. Support our roof-repair fund. Don't have sex with other men. Wear funny clothing. Stop doing fun things.

SCIENCE:

Q: So where did everything come from?
A: It all came from a big bang.
Q: Okay then, where'd the big bang come from?
A: Well, we dunno. Maybe from a big crunch, but before that there was ANOTHER big bang... and, well, we're looking into it. We think we can find out one day.
Q: But that's lame!
A: We know! Give us more money and we'll see if we can get a better answer.

Both systems require you to have faith (and don't say they can co-exist, because REALLY they can't, and don't get me started on that one). One asks for your faith perpetually, the other one asks for it until they get an answer. For this reason, I put my faith in -- and my money towards -- science, not religion. And, for the stop-having-fun, warp-your-fragile-little-mind reasons, I also actively discourage religion in most forms. Religion is dumb, dumb, dumb. But hey! That's just my opinion. However, it will remain my opinon until you can prove I'm wrong.

The problem with religion vs. science is this: religion can be disproven by scientific means. In fact, this has been going on almost continuously since Galileo, but the Catholic church and others have managed to pretend that this is not the case. Unfortunately, science can also be "disproven" (although that is not strictly the word) by religious means -- mainly by saying "God HAS to exist because I believe in him"). Scientists, being scientific, will not accept that religious argument, and religious people, being stup.. sorry, religious, will not accept the scientific argument.

So the two are forever doomed to disagree since they are not even working in the same framework of reality. If you like, they are in the same X-Y coordinates, but are on different Z planes entirely. It looks like they're meeting, from above, but that's just not the case. This is why people who call themselves "religious scientists" crack me up.

< Seldo puts on shiny suit and goggles>
Okay, activate flamethrowers now...

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Ever had a sitcom moment?

posted 16 April 2002

Have you ever had a sitcom moment? I think you probably have.

It's a strange phenomenom of feedback from our own imaginations. Everyone already knows that humans learn primarily -- despite our best efforts at abstract education, almost exclusively -- from example, or at least practice. What we tend to forget is the range of things that we CAN learn, both consciously and unconsciously. We know we can learn facts and figures, we vaguely acknowledge that you can learn sports and other mechanical skills, and also that we can learn social skills. But we ignore that we also unconsciously pick up our entire repetoire of emotional and social responses to a very basic level; not just table manners and when to say please and thank you, but also subconsciously when it is appropriate to laugh and to cry, our sense of humour, our morals and our values. We tend to think that these things are very intrinsically personal, but this is just not the case. Racism, fundamentalism, egalitarianism, and democracy are all social habits that are not at all or at least not entirely instinctive, and we learn them.

And in America and cultures heavily influenced by American entertainment such as my own and, increasingly, the rest of the world, the continuing replacement of social interaction with televisual entertainment means that we learn our emotional responses not from other people, not the way people REALLY behave, but from television, specifically sitcoms which traditionally have dealt with interpersonal issues. These are emotional responses as we -- or rather, as the still religious-fundamentalist, puritanical and still heavily-censored American script-writers -- think they SHOULD be. This can make things very odd indeed: we have "sitcom moments" where how we act consciously conflicts with the way we want to.

For instance, I have witnessed a number of times the strange way Christmas has become treated. Previously, Christmas was a heart-warmingly hypocritical event, where family would sing hymns of peace and love and goodwill towards men while unendingly engaged in the same family feuds and squabbles that occupied it the rest of the year. Gifts would be given and rejected out of pettiness, and it all sounded, well, REAL. You can see people doing that. It's not nice, but it's believable. With the advent of sitcoms providing us with social cues, everybody tries to be friendly and peaceable and puts their grievances away, toasting each other and inventing traditions and like making eggnog for midnight. And the result is that everyone is miserable. We begin to dread Christmas and all our other holidays as dreadful constricting ordeals to be endured rather than a bloody good fight that everyone thoroughly enjoys as we used to.

And I think that's a shame. These "sitcom moments" are an insidious form of moral propaganda imposed upon us by fundamentalists and they rob us of our natural enjoyment of our lives. The next time you think "ooh, musn't say that, it's not the way to act really" examine it and make sure you REALLY think that, and not your TV.


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Stages of computing expertise

posted 16 April 2002

How accurate, do you think?

Stage 1: Your first computer

You view your machine as an all-knowing, awe-inspiring electronic brain that you must be careful of and respect, and not subject to temperature changes of more than 0.1 degrees lest it decide to cease working its flawless technical magic. Every day is a day of learning and discovery as you learn of new things your computer can do that you never thought of before.

Stage 2: Your second computer

You loathe your first computer. It was a mistake to buy it from those people, it was underpowered and slow, the software was out of date and the monitor a bad choice. It didn't do nearly enough. This computer will be a huge improvement. You view your computer as wonderful toy, and you enjoy the feeling of power and control in mastering its every function. Occasionally it does odd or illogical things, but that's something to do with you, and not really its fault. You eat your first pizza in front of the computer.

Stage 3: The road to expertise

You view your computer as a horrendously mismanaged, badly put-together box where nothing works properly. It's too slow, but there's nothing you can do 'cause you can't upgrade 'cause the people you bought it from were idiots and didn't leave any space. It was a mistake to buy it from them. The speakers are too small, and you don't have a ZIP drive. You envy others' machines. Your computer is always doing something stupid, it malfunctions every day and it is a hair's breadth away from complete shutdown. Nobody else has problems like these. You accidentally spill coke all over the keyboard.

Stage 4: It dawns on you

Having finally managed a workaround to upgrade your computer, you were forced to spend twice as much as you really needed to by making purchasing mistakes. You now view ALL computers as horredously mismanaged, cheaply manufactured and badly designed, inches away from complete destruction and in need of a total low-level design overhaul. The next time you buy a computer, you're going to take out a loan and buy two and hope you can salvage parts from one to make a single functioning machine. Your computer always does exactly what you expect it to do: it fails to function. You wish other people had problems like these, then at least you could do controlled experiments to find the problem. That's if your computer would do you a favour and fail to function in a logical and consistent way rather than doing something new each time. You consider watching TV instead. You intentionally pour coke down the disk drive.

Stage 5: True Expertise

You design your own computer using nothing but a soldering iron and a fifteen-ton block of iron. It is sentient, and live-in: it provides a kitchen with running coffee and coca-cola, and a small greenhouse growing pizza spices which it manages itself. Bill Gates sues you for copyright violation, claiming he's been living in it for years.


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Why Microsoft must be stopped

posted 16 April 2002

Yesterday -- that's April 4th, 2000, for those historians out there -- it was finally announced that Microsoft has been found guilty of breaking the law with it's monopolistic and generally evil acts. Now, I know most people won't care, but when has that stopped me mouthing off before?

The reason Microsoft needs to be stopped dead in its tracks is *not* because it is a monopoly: it can be a monopoly if it can manage it, which isn't going to be for much longer. However, it's unforgivable sin has been using its monopoly in the operating system market to totally ruin entirely separate fields of software with their own crappy software which nevertheless dominates, simply by being included for free. And I don't mean Internet Explorer; say what you like, Netscape really dropped the ball with Netscape 4.x, a buggy piece of junk with sketchy support for the most useful new standards. Internet Explorer isn't perfect, but it IS better than Netscape now. I'm talking about fields like web servers, database servers, web development, word processors, mail clients, newsgroup readers... an endless variety. In every field, the thoroughly buggy, badly-designed and feature-poor Microsoft versions of these products are either dominating or are far too well-represented for their real quality. If it's not predatory pricing and evil bundling scheme, it's flat-out lying about features, such as the infamous security rating of Windows NT -- it has a high-level security rating from an official source, BUT this rating only applies when NT is *not running on a network*! Microsoft promotional materials for NT4 are heavy on mentioning the rating, light on mentioning the caveat.

This is why all right-thinking people need to start lobbying for a harsh punishment. More than one punishment needs to be thrown in:

  • Heavy regulation on what fields Microsoft can enter. Media domination is one area I'm scared of -- MSNBC should be divested, as well as any and all content-source acquisitions. A software company which offers Internet access and ticket sales should not be allowed to also run an Internet portal which recommends where people should get their internet access and buy their plane tickets. What the hell is a *software company* doing acting as a travel agent?
  • This is mainly wishful thinking, but perhaps more rigorous adherence to international communication standards? Chief among these, they should NOT be allowed to create a mail client (Outlook express) which uses WEB MAIL, an inefficient and bandwidth-crushing bastardization of a useful technology, transparently with POP3 accounts.
  • Open the Windows source. This will solve the constant problem of Microsoft giving its applications an unfair advantage over others by simply adding features to the operating system every time they think it convenient -- such as the user-interface changes they made to Windows 95 that coincide with the introduction of Internet Explorer 4. It will also expose every gaping hole and inefficiency in the operating system, which in itself will be enough to ensure that no company with half a brain will ever buy an MS product for a mission-critical application, ever again.
  • Somebody needs to pay Marc Andreesen a whole load of cash. I mean, the poor guy. His whole budding empire was crushed by Bill. That's gotta hurt.

And that's basically my rant. I'll be honest, I don't like Microsoft. But if you're honest, you'll see I have extremely valid reasons for doing so.

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World Peace

posted 16 April 2002

Tonight's internal dialogue: world peace. Topical, eh?

Method of attack:

  • The way the world is now
  • How it got to be that way
  • Is peace a good idea?
  • Is peace possible?
  • How can we achieve peace?

But I can't promise I'll stick to that; it's just an initial plan.

The way the world is now

As I sit here, one had to admit that the world seems pretty much doomed. The deluded and self-serving masses of the American Empire have been grievously stung by an unexpectedly deadly side-effect of the centuries-old conflict in the Middle East and have been convinced by the people who run their TV stations that the best way to cope with their grief and pain is to inflict as much grief and pain as they possibly can upon everyone else while singing the national anthem and putting flags everywhere they will stick. Pockets of pointless territorial violence continue to erupt in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Chechnya, basically everywhere in Africa, Columbia, Peru, lots of Central America, India, Pakistan and Indonesia. The only continents not affected are Australia and Antarctica, the latter because nobody lives there and the former because they don't let in anybody they might disagree with.

The highest level of pointless bloodshed is of course the middle east, where two groups of people with different and apparently incompatible ways of life are attempting to live in the same place at the same time without acknowledging the part that sharing must play in attempting to do so. Suicide bombers blow themselves up every day, helicopters fire missiles, bombs rain down, and people shoot at each other until they run out of bullets, at which point they throw rocks.

The situation simultaneously angers and depresses me, to the point that I can't work out if I want to nuke them all until they're a glowing puddle of molten rock or just sit and here and weep into my hands for the unending stupidity of mankind.

How it got to be that way

Forget Osama's childhood, forget the formation of Israel, forget Islam vs. Christianity. Why is the world so screwed? Because we as a species are fundamentally flawed. I [used to say] that conflict and war are entirely the result of miscommunication, or lack of communication, and that if people understood each other, then they would be unable to hate. While that is still true, I was unfortunately hugely overestimating the intelligence of human beings. People *can't* understand each other; they're built not to, and the reasons for this can be explained, as can so many things, in evolutionary terms.

Go back to basics. Genes are genetically-coded algorithms for creating and managing biological systems. Memes are mentally-coded algorithms for managing biological systems. The genes and memes that survive are the most "successful", since they are propagated. It's important to note that "successful" is not the same as "good" (well, obviously, since it's arbitrary anyway), which is why the memes of thieves and cheaters are still around. And unfortunately, we are genetically coded to split into factions and fight.

I think this behaviour is likely to a gene -- or rather, a combination of genes, since it's complex behaviour. It's not a meme: it affects our thoughts, but it's an involuntary instinct, not something we're conscious of, even to the limited extent that we're conscious of other viral memes like religion. It's going to be genetically-coded instinct because it's been around for a very, very long time. This is because genes are more efficient than memes.

To put it in the terms of computer science, genes are compiled, not interpreted: they are built into the very structure of the organism. Instincts operate at a low level, where stimulus leads to a direct response, rather than stimulus being evaluated for the appropriate response first. And since they are not subject to radical change, they can be made very efficient over time. And given sufficient time in which to operate, natural selection will ensure that even minimal improvements are more "successful". By this same principle, given a long period in which it faces no major competition, an algorithm will trade the flexibility of memes for the efficiency of genes. This is what we have: an idea so basic that it has become an instinct.

The behaviour that these genes are coding for is in effect the operating system in which memes operate; a basic meme common to all other memes. It is the behaviour that says "this meme will fight with that meme by means other than natural selection". Memes are not always, possibly even usually not, survival-oriented. This makes natural selection a bad method for memes to rely upon, which is why memes supposedly spread by communication. But lots of memes, such as religion, have discovered the trick self-defense: viral memes such as religion in particular dig in at a very low level and prevent other memes from taking hold by rejecting conflicting ideas.

If this method were unchecked, viral memes would have already occupied every available brain and reached a standstill, spreading only by biological means as neither would surrender any ground. Why [viral memes do not occupy every brain] is another matter. But since viral memes cannot gain ground from each other directly, the only way to occupy more brains is to enhance the reproductive chances of its hosts. However, this would effectively render memes that did not center around reproduction as irrelevant. The solution to this for non-reproductive memes is not to limit the reproductive chances of other memes, thereby freeing resources for its own hosts to reproduce. Since other memes will not allow communication into their hosts, this limitation is instead very efficiently accomplished by methods not involving communication at all: namely, war. "Kill anyone who doesn't share this meme" is an enormously useful addition to any meme -- any meme which did not incorporate it would be swiftly made extinct by those that did. So we now have a gene (read: genetic combination) that says "kill people who don't have your memes".

The existence of this gene is most obvious in the conflicts between religions. But even in groups that share some memes, the gene operates to distinguish between the remaining differences: so you get schisms in religious groups, and wars over political ideology, and even violent arguments over theoretical points of science (although I can't think of a fatal conflict over science offhand, I'm sure it has happened or will happen in the future). These are not ideas that majorly affect ones reproductive potential, so they are fighting by other means. To put it another way, the evolving ecology of memes produced the viral memes with a very effective method of defence, which spurred others to develop a method of attack capable of defeating it.

So where does this leave us? We are genetically hardwired to fight over ideologies, no matter how trivial -- indeed, the more trivial (and thus less related to reproduction), the more that meme will find it necessary to use conflict as a method of ensuring its survival. So war is natural for human beings. Cheerful, huh?

Is peace a good idea?

Well, in evolutionary terms -- and you'd be a fool if you thought any other terms mattered -- the answer, sadly, is no. Evolution relies upon, or rather, is defined by continuous competition -- you can't have survival of the fittest if the less fit don't die. And conflict and war are part of that package. "Peace" would be a lack of competition, which would lead to slower development and eventual stagnation. So does evolution have to happen? Of course it does. Since we live in a world of finite resources, competition is inevitable, and evolution is an emergent process that comes from competition.

The only time conflict could be viewed as a bad thing in these terms is if it led to destruction of the entire species. Doomsday prophets aside, this is very unlikely -- but, importantly, not impossible. One day a Left-handed extremist might decide the time has come to deal death to the right-handed scum and slam an asteroid into the planet and kill everyone. Or if you want to deal with a multiplanetary society, imagine some kind of galaxy-spanning doomsday weapon and repeat the scenario. So some kind of balance must be found to allow competition within the population without threatening the population as a whole.

That would involve limiting conflict in some way, which could be described as "increasing peace". However, "limited conflict" is not "peace": what we have *now* is "limited conflict"; the whole world isn't threatened. How does one determine the optimum level of limitation of conflict? I can't address that now.

Is peace possible?

Total peace: no. "Limited conflict": yes, but see above for how enticing limited conflict is as a continued mode of existence.

So once again we reach the conclusion that life is a meaningless blip on the probability curve of the universe, that there are no answers and there are no solutions. Slit your throat now, or carry on, it makes no difference either way. Is this called "maturity" or something? How unendingly depressing.

How can we achieve peace?

See above. Fuck this. I'll just have to keep myself happy, and attempt to maintain limited conflict. Change of heading: How do we limit conflict?

In the long term, you can't. As populations expand, competition for resources will increase, and conflict will escalate. You might try to limit population expansion, but in evolutionary terms that [leads to extinction], since you will never convince everyone to do it since the advantage clearly lies in increasing your population.

Another way to limit conflict would be to increase the resources available. This can be produced in three ways:

  1. Through increases in efficiency, e.g. that of matter-to-energy conversion. AKA: stop burning oil to boil water to move a turbine to create an electric field to power an electric stove so you can accidentally set fire to your oil.
  2. To a limited extent, through resource recovery. AKA: recycle stuff. Mine the dumps.
  3. Through reource acquisition. We already live everywhere on the planet, so this means going off-planet, colonisation being one of the best bets for doing this efficiently. Even then, expanding your territory infinitely to avoid competition for territory, you eventually hit Fermi's paradox (is that the right one?) where in order to maintain your expansion you have to be going faster than light.

Conclusion:

World peace is impossible. Multi-world peace is impossible. Conflict limitation is possible. The way to limit conflict is to develop faster than light travel, and assume the universe is infinite in size. You heard it here first. Oddly, that does make me feel a bit better: at least there's *something* you can aim for, rather than just wallow in hopelessness. Of course, that's enormously long term. In the medium-long term you have to develop interstellar colonisation techniques, and in the medium term you need to hope we don't blow ourselves up.

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Connection

posted 16 April 2002


You're all alone
In a little shell
Thoughts echoing round
In a private hell
You sit by yourself
Absorbing your pain
Gotta make a connection
Let it all out again

Feel people around you
And the hum of a crowd
The buzzing of thoughts
Never sounded so loud
Out on the floor
Share a glance and a smile
Just a little connection
Makes tonight worthwhile

Don't be afraid
To show yourself
Put your heart on your sleeve
Take it off of the shelf
Your pulse is racing
So thoughts go slow
Just remember the beat
Is all you need to know

Life only hurts
When you live it alone
So get off your butt
And don't stay at home
Any time before morning
The night is still young
There are friends to be made
And songs to be sung

Make a human connection
Make eye contact
Share a second or two
That you otherwise lacked
Feel the press of bodies
And the heat of breath
And the sounds of life
With no thought of death.

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Dance, Dance, Dance!

posted 16 April 2002


Freedom calling,
Come on let's go!
It only lasts a moment
It's Friday night
It's Saturday
It only last a while!

Come on let's go
Let's take a ride
Let's flash around
Up in the sky
Let's dance all night
Let's dance real fast
We're gonna make
this freedom last!

You're not me
You don't wanna party?
Don't fool yourself
I'm not waiting for you
The world is calling
Harder, faster
Gotta live right now
Tonight won't last

Come on get up
It's party time!
No time to cry
No place to whine
No room to move
Out on the floor?
Then dance real wild
And make some more!

What's wrong? You wimp!
It's Friday night!
You've got to dance
until it's light!
You've got the week
to get your sleep
The beat's your drug
And it comes cheap

Come on get up
Come on get up
Come on get up
And party!
Come on get up
Come on get up
Come on get up
And dance!

Come on get up
And move your butt
Come on get up
And party!
Come on get up
And shake that butt!
Come on get up
Let's dance!

When the week ends
Real life begins!
Three days to cram in
All those sins!
No time to waste
No time to choose
Don't hesitate
And you won't lose

Come on, get up
It's party time!
Forget your stress
And dance all night
Tired is
a state of mind
Follow my lead
Leave stress behind!

Come on get up
Come on get up
Come on get up
And party!
Come on get up
Come on get up
Come on get up
And dance!

Come on get up
And move your butt
Come on get up
And party!
Come on get up
And shake that butt!
Come on get up
Let's dance!

Come on get up
And move your butt
Come on get up
Let's party, party
Come on get up
Now don't let up
Come on get up
We'll dance!

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Dirty Little Secret

posted 16 April 2002


You've got a dirty little secret
But you never mention it
Never do a thing about it
Blank it from your mind

But blank minds are quickly filled
With the thoughts you thought you'd killed
You can't destroy a problem
Just by putting it away

You think everyone suspects
The truth is no one has a clue
As paranoia claws at you
They wonder just what's wrong

It's just a secret not a problem
Or that's what you want to think
It's not really a big problem
It doesn't drive you to the drink

Not a problem -- wrists are smooth
Not a problem -- pillow's dry
So it isn't suicide
But pain is still a fact of life

You've got to come and let it out
Rid yourself of aching doubt
Don't control yourself for once
And you might have some fun

Bottling up problems only means you preserve them
Let them air out, you don't deserve them
Let the pain just blow away
Why don't you come out and play?

There's no such thing as an original problem
The world always knows how to solve them
Don't think that we won't understand
Bring your ego down to land

You decide the size of your problems
Out in the open they seem much smaller
The eyes of those who understand
Turn mountains into grains of sand

Bottling up problems only means you preserve them
Let them air out cause you don't deserve them
Let your pain just blow away
Come on out and play

You've got a dirty little secret
Your soul has got a small black mark
Discover the secret that everyone learns:
A secret's only dirty when it's hidden in the dark.



You've got a dirty little secret, but you never mention it, you never do anything about it, you blank it from your mind but it always comes back with a vengeance. You think everyone else suspects, but nobody really has a clue, paranoia claws at you. It's not a problem or so you think, it doesn't drive you to drink, you don't sob into your pillow, you don't cut your wrists for fun. But you don't have to be suicidal, the pain is still real (hun?). You've got to learn to let it out, you've got to be able to scream and shout, bottling up your problems only means they are preserved. Let them air out and blow away, why don't you come out and play, everybody cares for you but no one gives a damn. There's no such thing as an original problem, everyone's had them and everyone's solved them. You underestimate our understanding, bring your ego for a landing, you decide the size of your problems so bring them outside and they'll seem so much smaller. Secrets just look dirty 'cause they're hidden in the dark.


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Three Years On

posted 16 April 2002


It's been one long year
Since I changed your world,
Since you changed your view of me.
It's been twelve long months
Since those hurtful words,
Those words that still haunt me.

It's been far too long
Since we really spoke,
Since we shared a knowing smile.
It's been ages now
Since we talked alone
Or walked for half a mile.

It's been three long years
Since I made up my mind,
To change my world, to tell the truth.
It was two long years
'Til I had the guts
To bring that truth to you.

I don't know how long
It will be until
We get back to where we were.
Or how long it will be,
'Til we forget
How much we hurt each other.

I don't know how long
It'll take to forgive,
But I know that I'll never forget,
I'll not look at you
Without hearing those words,
And seeing your face wet.

But I miss the way
You used to look,
And the way we used to talk,
I so miss the way
We used to hug,
Is it now too late for that?

I cannot forget
The hurtful words,
I can't forget the face,
Til I can forget,
The good times before,
And put new ones in their place.



It's been one long year since I changed your world, since you changed your view of me. It's been 12 long months since those hurtful words, those words that still haunt me. It's been far too long since we really spoke, far too long since we shared a glance. It's been ages now since we walked alone and talked about nothing much. It's been 3 long years since I changed my world, since I made up my mind to tell the truth. It was two long years til I had the guts to bring that truth to you. I don't know how long it will be again til we get back to where we were, I don't know how long it will be, til we forget how much we hurt each other and let each other be. I don't know how long it'll take to forgive, but I know that I'll never forget, I'll not look at you without hearing those words, and seeing that look on your face. I miss the way you used to look, I miss the way we used to talk, I miss the way we used to hug, can we please do that again? I can't forget the hurtful words, I can't forget the look, til I can forget the good times before, and replace them with good times new.

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Can't Forgive You (Alternate version)

posted 16 April 2002


We started out well
We knew one another
Built sandcastles
And we worshipped each other

But the waves came in
It seems you missed the tide
We were polite
But knew our friendship had died

You stopped listening
And I declined to speak
You invented
My personality

We saw it happen
Neither wanted it to
Beyond control
We both let it continue

Trusting me enough
Just to soothe your conscience
Not knowing me
Your mind listened to itself

You gave me freedom
When it was easy
Free as a bird
But still tethered to your tree

Finally the dream
Shattered as I screamed
What I had hid
What you didn't want to hear

I burst a bubble
And you murdered my soul
I felt your words
Just like my heart had a hole

Like nails through both hands
But just a thorn in your side
A dirty secret
Not a problem once it hides

But I didn't hide
Though I did run away
Can't stand to lie
Don't want to cry every day

I want to forgive
Build sandcastles again
Forget it all
And that anything happened

When I see your face
I always hear echoes
I feel the place
And a darker world beckons

I don't want to hate
But can do nothing else
I know your crime
And I will not blame myself

You took your own fear
And combined it with hate
Wounds that won't heal
And words that won't ever fade



When did it go wrong? When did we lose touch? When did you become a man I saw but couldn't touch? When did you stop listening, was it before I stopped talking? Why did we still drift apart when we both knew it was happening and wanted it to stop? Was that not something we could control, some predetermined plot? I know you thought you knew me, but you only knew yourself. You knew what you thought of me, and wouldn't listen to anyone else. So when I said the things I said, the things you didn't want to hear, the things you weren't expecting, you gave in to your darkest fear. You unleashed words with bite and sting that cut me to the bone, that ripped my confidence away and left me all alone. I feared those wounds were mortal, but I only bled inside. We told each other "it's okay" and both knew we had lied. I don't know how I hurt you, when you only hurt yourself, but I know how you hurt me and can think of nothing else. My wounds still bleed, they will not heal, not with time or change of heart. No amount of soothing speech will smooth away my scars. I love you for the man you were, and hate what you've become. My best friend has turned enemy, a man who killed his son. I do not want to hate you, I'm desperate to forgive, but my pain will not let me, you're guilty once you live. Every time I see your face I hear the echoes of those words, I try to give you comfort but the scars reopen on my hands.

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I Miss You

posted 16 April 2002


I feel for the first time an aching inside
That many have spoken of and many have tried to give to me
Many times I have tried to give to myself
This great gift of an emptiness that one only can fill.

I feel for the first time not a joy at a presence
But a dull aching sorrow at the unnoted absence around my table
Cold lines where arms should be arched round my back,
Cool lips from the ones that my mouth feels it lacks

My mind is awash with senseless emotions
The product of increasingly mindless devotion to you
I gave you a deep part no skill could retrieve it,
And when you are absent I can no longer feel it

But that pain is a joy that at last I have found
Someone whose life can become closely bound to my soul
Close enough that at last I can feel the great hole
That should always have been there.

I've known you just days and been with you mere hours
But already I sense that your arms are a tower not a prison
And I could be locked away for the rest of my life and fail
To notice or care that others call it jail.

But I can't be your wife and I won't be your lover
And I won't be dismissed as significant other I fell
Into your arms and fall into your eyes and into your soul
And feel as if we've shared lives together.

I need you, I feel that I'm joined at the heart
But I want you to feel I am equally part of your life and your soul,
Please don't say you feel differently as I may not survive,
Love may be the ocean into which I've swan dived.

Don't hurt me or leave me or say let's be friends,
I want to stay with you 'til long past the end of my days
And my time on this earth and please say that you know
The same pain that I hurt and I'm dying to show

'Cause I miss you, please miss me, please like me, please care,
Please turn your sweet head when your back feels my stare upon it
Read my mind, share my soul, get my jokes, tell your own,
Be a part of myself that I can't just disown

Please forgive me for moving so far and so fast
But I sense that we have the potential to last
And I won't throw away my one shot at perfection,
Too often my heart only found its reflection

In shiny cold souls that know only themselves,
Who think love as much myth as the Queen of the Elves
Biology isn't the way to true joy
Or we'd all go to bed with a glorified toy

Your body is beautiful but it grew from your mind
And I may have just found the first alike kind
That has the same feelings and works the same way
And I won't put that in danger, won't scare you away

I will cease all my ramblings, I don't care if you kiss me,
Just hold me in your arms and say that you miss me.

I miss you.



I feel for the first time an aching inside the many have spoken of and many have tried to give to me, many times I have tried to give to myself this great gift of an emptiness that only one can fill. I feel for the first time not a joy at a presence but an aching sorrow at the presence of an absence around my table, cold lines where arms should be arching around my back, cool lips where another should be placed against them. I gave for the first time a piece of myself, a part so deep that no surgeon could retrieve it, and now when you are gone I can no longer feel it. The pain is a joy that at last I have found someone whose life can become closely bound to my soul that I at last feel the hole that should always have been there. I've known you just days and been with you mere hours but already I sense that your arms are a tower I can be locked away in for the rest of my life and not care for a moment, I won't be your wife and I won't be your lover I won't be dismissed as significant other I fall into your arms and into your eyes and into your soul and as if we've shared lives together I need you, joined at the heart and I want you to feel I am equally part of your life and your soul, please don't say you feel differently as I may not survive, love may be the ocean into which I've swandived. I have felt this feeling so few times in my life and every time it has been for a one close enough to be called family don't hurt me or leave me or say let's be friends, I want to be with you 'til well past the end of my days and my time on this earth and please say that you feel the same pain that I hurt cause I miss you, please miss me, please like me, please care, please turn your sweet head when your back feels my stare. Read my mind, share my soul, get my jokes, tell your own, be a part of myself that I can't just disown, please forgive me for moving so far and so fast but I sense that we have the potential to last and I won't throw away my one shot a perfection, too often my heart only sees its reflection in shiny cold souls that know only themselves, who think love as much myth as the queen of the elves. Biology isn't the way to true joy or we'd all go to bed with a glorified toy. Your body is beautiful but it grew from your mind and I may have just found the first alike kind that has the same feelings and works the same way and I won't put that in danger by scaring you away I will cease all my ramblings, I don't care if you kiss me, just hold me in your arms and say that you miss me. I miss you.

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Like Me

posted 16 April 2002


As I live
Every day
I live my life in my own way
But why is it
For all that I see
Nobody lives their life like me?

Don't think you know me
And don't pretend you care
Don't say you know me
'Cause you don't know that I'm here.

Here I am
Special and free
But isn't anybody slightly like me?
I wanna be special
That you must know
But do I have to special and alone?

Don't think you know me
And don't pretend you care
Don't say you know me
'Cause you don't know that I'm here.

I care about
Everyone
But I must be the only one
All the rest
Don't give a damn
Spend their lives hurting fellow man

I try
To reason it out
Do they really need to scream and shout?
I want
To be able to see
But they just won't listen to me!

There's just
One thing I need
I need somebody who understands me
All my life
All that I've done
Has been mistaken by everyone

But now
I'm no longer sure
That I can take any more
Maybe I'll step
Down from this stand
And fall back to my fellow man.

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I hope they love you too

posted 16 April 2002, updated 12 August 2007


I don't know if I've ever told you
The way I feel about you
I don't know if it's possible
To speak of what I feel
I don't know if another mind
can ever understand
The way it feels to love someone
The way it feels to hold your hand

I love you more than I love my existence
I love you more than anyone will see
And if you say that you really love them
I'll love them just for making you happy

I wonder if it feels this way for everyone
Is true love so strong all the time?
But I want to try to give to you this feeling
Love is so much more than just sublime
I see you every time I think of anything
I touch you every time I close my eyes
I hear you in all music and all laughter
I love you with each word in every line

I love you more than I love my existence
I love you more than anyone will see
And if you say that you really love them
I'll love them just for making you happy

Just say the word and I'll do what you wish for
Just speak to me and tell me what to do
And if you say you're happier without me
My love knows more than to argue with you
They may not be the perfect person for you
But you're the only perfect person here
I know that you will never ever love me
We both know that it's nobody's fault here.

I love you more than I love my existence
I love you more than anyone will see
And if you say that you really love them
I'll love them just for making you happy

But if you're ever wondering if they love you
If you're not sure that your own feelings are real
Remember my description of this feeling
And I hope that it's exactly how you feel
For love is deep and powerful and gorgeous
And love is unmistakable to see
And love is far too rare and far too precious
To give up any chance that you might see

They may not be the perfect person for you
But I hope that you love them just the same
And I know that your love is far too precious
To deny it to you just to spare me pain
I love you more than I love my existence
I love you more than anyone will see
And if you say that you really love them
I'll love them just for making you happy



You may never know what real love is like, you may not ever feel anything as deeply as I feel love for you, but I just want to share with you this beautiful feeling, this wonderful ache inside of you, this constant connection, this way of wrapping your every thought around the image of your love... I love you so much, I would do anything for you, I only want you to be happy, and I know you're happiest with someone else, so I'll love her loving you... but if it doesn't turn out for the best, if you're ever unsure of what to do, if your not sure that you love her or that she loves you, remember what I've told you real love feels like... if you're not sure that it's love, then it's not. If it's love, then you're luckier than you'll ever be again. Don't forget what love feels like.


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Leaf in the stream

posted 16 April 2002, updated 12 August 2007


From the tree of life you come,
A new-born bud in time�s great sun.
You begin to search for light,
You have not begun to fight.

You�re a leaf in the endless stream
That flows forever silently,
And you can do no more than dream
Of reaching to the peaceful sea.

A bud no more, you leave the stem,
To gather with the rest of them
In the violent, swirling crush
Of the ever-flowing rush.

You think you choose the way you take,
An error everyone will make.
Looking ahead, towards tomorrow,
You cannot see the path you follow.

You�re a leaf in the endless stream
That flows forever silently,
And you can do no more than dream
Of reaching to the peaceful sea.

Now the stream is wide and swift,
And you can see the growing rift
Between the course you want to take
And the path the river makes.

Confusion soon gives way to fear,
But there is no-one to hear.
You�re too far from your home tree,
That�s the price of being free.

You�re a leaf in the endless stream
That flows forever silently,
And you can do no more than dream
Of reaching to the peaceful sea.

Freedom is worth every cost,
But here and now your leaf is lost
And there is nothing you can do
To alter where the stream takes you.

Now�s the time for you to chose,
This choice will make you win or lose.
Where you go is not in question,
But how you get there is not destined.

You�re a leaf in the endless stream
That flows forever silently,
And you can do no more than dream
Of reaching to the peaceful sea.

The lesson everybody learns,
Travelling through the twists and turns
Is that those who travel quick
Go much further before they sink.

So don�t let the flow bemuse you
Or the rush of life confuse you
Travel fast and travel far
Let the world know who you are.


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The River's Course

posted 16 April 2002


The ages come, the ages go
Who knows to where the ages flow?
And swept along into the past
We come, our lives like to a raft
Lashed together as we go
On to where the ages flow

We spend our lives concerned with selves
We do not care about the shells
Upon the shores of time's great river
Events which change the flow from hither
to thither, we care not of the others
in our raft, our friends and brothers
we care not where the great rafts go
on to where the ages flow

And is this right? Should this be so?
Does it matter where we go?
Should we try to guide our course?
Against the flowing river's force
Should we take our course to heart?
So even though our raft soon parts
And crumbles to the river's floor
Our children should find all the more
Courses, paths and streams to follow
So they have more in the morrow
So they guide to whence they go
On to where the ages flow

The answer's not in any doubt
To make our rafts more strong and stout
They must get better paths to take
And once upon them they can make
A million changes to the flow
On to where the ages go

So make your children's lives mean more
And cast your shells upon the shore.


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My Inner Self

posted 16 April 2002


A hundred thousand miles I've gone
A million faces have I worn
And never is my wanderings
Have I encountered me

A hundred thousand miles I've gone
I've never seen, I've never sawn
Even a vague semblance of
My true and inner self

My inner self I've never seen
My inner self's a mystery
My inner self is cunning, crafty
Never daylight hits his face

He lurks beyond the shadowline
He haunts the shadows of my mind
He clouds my brain like finest wine
I never see the world quite right

Each time I brush reality
My inner self comes back for me
And never will he let me see
That what I do is what he wants

His wants are strange and awful too
He goes through me to lash at you
He drives you back, he'd run you through
He makes my life a living hell

Now what I try to say to you
Is that I know not what I do
I beg you to forgive me too
I know not whom I really am

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He's sitting there thinking

posted 16 April 2002


He's sitting there thinking
Wishing he was drinking
He's thinking of the impact
That he makes upon the world

He hates how much effort it takes
To think of what difference he makes
He thinks his life is pointless
And he's fearful that he's right

Not a single inch he goes
Makes a difference, this he knows
'Cause every single inch he moves
A million more have moved before

Every time he has a thought
He think it's something he was taught
He's never had a vision
Just reflections in his head

He cannot see his footprint
Because he won't look behind him
And he cannot see his shadow
'Cause he's giving off the light
He cannot see his writing
'Cause he's looking at the paper
And he cannot see that he is doing
Exactly what is right

Life's too full of choices
Full of siren, fighting voices
All so many ways to go
That the path is never clear

To him each way is far too tough
He feels he cannot do enough
The endless open space becomes
A trap with no escape

Each choice presents a hundred more
Each no harder than before
But though his changes shape the world
They do not change his life

He cannot see his footprint
Because he won't look behind him
And he cannot see his shadow
'Cause he's giving off the light
He cannot see his writing
'Cause he's looking at the paper
And he cannot see that he is doing
Exactly what is right

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Cruel

posted 16 April 2002


Turn around and face me,
Can't you see my heart is breaking?
You're cruel.
The world is full of lovers,
But I don't want any other, I'm
a fool.
I have seen you notice me,
My love is plain for you to see,
You're cruel.
I have seen your other lovers,
All those sad and bitter others,
And I know that you used them,
How their love let you abuse them.
How can such beauty be so cruel?

You're cruel,
and there's nothing I can do
to change you.
You're cruel,
But all that I can think of is you.
You're beautiful,
But your touch is sharp and deadly,
You're wonderful,
Your aroma rich and heady,
You fill my thoughts,
But you never think of me,
Your beauty is too cruel.

Your cruelty is heartless,
All the worse for being thoughtless.
You're cruel.
I'm not within your field of view,
My love does not occur to you.
Cruel.
The world that has been shaping me
Is bending, crushing, breaking me.
Cruel.
You're the only cure I need,
But you never take any heed.
So cruel.
This world took care in shaping you
You fit so well and they do too
But I don't fit in anywhere
My life is torture, yours so fair!
Why must the world be so cruel?

You're cruel,
and there's nothing I can do
to change you.
You're cruel,
But all that I can think of is you.
You're beautiful,
But your touch is sharp and deadly,
You're wonderful,
Your aroma rich and heady,
You fill my thoughts,
But you never think of me,
Your beauty is too cruel.

The way you move is graceful,
Each move makes my life more hateful.
It's cruel.
Your shape is unapproachable
Beauty unencroachable,
That's cruel.
And I know we'll never be together
I'll be lonely now and ever
Cruel.
But I still want you to love me
My desire remains stubbornly
I know my hopes are empty
But your very being draws me
Has life ever been so cruel?

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Sideshow

posted 16 April 2002


Life flows on so nevermind
The pieces that I leave behind
The bits of me you never see
Will still become a part of thee

Standing here outside the flow
Disconnected, a sideshow
The main act is going on
Ringmaster doesn't know I'm gone

It's a circus, no admission
Once you get your mom's permission
Nothing's very funny
But I still feel like a clown

Life's a show that I'm ad libbing
Drink it in from where you're sitting
Say the jokes that you liked best
Then go home and ignore the rest

Nothing's funny that has meaning
And my show goes on, it's seeming
That despite my greatest shows
I make no difference to the flows

Laugh on at my tragedy
I now know I'll never see
The inside of the big top
Of the circus of your minds

Life flows on so nevermind
The pieces that I leave behind
The bits of me you'll never see
Will still become a part of thee.

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Soul music

posted 16 April 2002


Hear a rhythm roar
Feel the rhythm soar
Feel it take you far away from the world
Feel it as it moves you
Feel it as it soothes you
Feel the music in your mind

It's soul music
And it's not the same
This is real music
It's a beast not tamed
This is whole music
No piece left out
This is old music
Make you scream and shout

When I hear music
I don't hear it like you
It takes over
And my thoughts are few
I move to the music
I can do no more
My life is music
There was nothing before.

It's soul music
And it's not the same
This is real music
It's a beast not tamed
This is whole music
No piece left out
This is old music
Make you scream and shout

Every song wants
To do the same thing
They all want to make the whole world sing
Take this music
Let it play your role
Give yourself up to the music of the soul.

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The Beauty

posted 16 April 2002


There's a beauty in my life,
A beauty all the world can see.
A beauty that cuts like a knife,
A beauty that's denied to me.

The beauty has me in its grip,
It's perfect, each and every way.
But I can never make a slip,
And give my guilty thoughts away.

The beauty there is not for me,
And I'm the only one that sees it.
My life's a painful irony,
A joke that no one else will get.

I take a hundred thousand glances,
Out the corner of my eye.
Each day I take a million chances,
But I keep up my life's great lie.

A masterpiece of shape and fit,
Exists for all the world to see.
But I cannot gaze upon it,
The ones who look can't include me.

My beauty's eyes are magnetized,
I barely pull my gaze away,
But never will those magnet eyes
Turn to my face and ever stay.

Oh how I want to gaze forever
At that beauty pure and sweet!
How I know that I will never
That ambition ever meet!

Does the beauty want to face me?
Does the beauty turn my way?
Does the beauty wish to meet me?
Would my beauty ever say?

No, I know the answers there,
Though I wish the truth were lie.
If there's a beauty out there somewhere,
It hides itself as well as I.

Every day I taste the scent
Of the world's finest bouquet.
And though I'll always long to sip,
The cup will never pass my way.

Yes, the wine that is my beauty
Is a deep and potent brew,
And though there's wine to fill the sea,
The fates tell me "it's not for you."

My days are filled with painful glances,
For the pleasure they provide.
But for every glance I take,
My pain is tenfold magnified.

For mine is a pain of cold denial,
The denial of an empty space.
A space created by a question,
With nothing in the answer's place.

Each day I die a little more,
As I steal another glance.
But I will never close the door,
As long as there remains a chance...

I have a terrible secret,
It's wrapped in guilt and shame.
And until I give it to the world,
I cannot name my beauty's name!



Every day I see a beauty, a complete, sublime, heart-breakingly beautiful figure. But I can't tell them about my feelings. I can't tell anyone about my feelings, because they're feelings I'm not supposed to have. I can't even look at the beauty. I have to pretend I can't see it, pretend it's not there, pretend a hundred thousand furtive glances at it every time I'm near it are all casual glances at other things. I can look everywhere but straight ahead. A beauty greater than any other I've seen exists and I have never seen it all at once, because I can't be seen to be seeing. I can never look into the eyes of the beauty as I so long to do and just drink in endlessly the sensation of their beauty.

Does the beauty feel the same way? I don't know, because there's no way to tell them. Does the beauty look at me? I don't know. Does anyone look at me? Is there some hidden beauty in the world that hides its glances as skillfully as I hide mine? I can't tell. And I'll never find out, because there's no way for them to tell me. Every day I sniff a thousand times the aroma of the sweetest wine, but each scent is fleeting and insubstantial, and no matter how many times the mere scent overpowers my senses, I can never take even the tiniest sip from a cup that could hold oceans.

Every day I steal a hundred fleeting images for the enormous pleasure they provide, but with each glance comes a stabbing pain of denial, endless, constant, unthinking, unfeeling denial, the denial of a brick wall, the denial of an empty space, a denial far worse than mere rejection in its uncertainty. The pain is slowly killing me, the pain is real and endless, and the more I try to ease my pain, the worse it gets, it's like a drug, a perfect drug that never kills me but drives me ever onward to an unfulfilled infinity.

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Why so down?

posted 16 April 2002


Are you down? Are you out?
Think the world's too much to bear?
Have you ever looked around
And seen what's really here?
We live upon a ball of rock
That spins through deadly, endless night
We don't fall off, though we fall down
Our planet saves our lives

Looking off our ball of rock
A cosmic stone's throw far away
We see a giant, vicious bomb
Is letting out its deadly rays
Our ball of rock steps in again
With a shield of empty space
A few conteptous beams break through
And shine their light upon our face

Some tiny beams that make it through
Strike down into brief, fragile things
Which grow and feed all other life
From mortal men to mighty wings
The fragile creatures spread their branches
And form an endless canopy
Of vibrant, pure and wondrous life.
We wander through, unthinkingly

The tiny beams that strike them not
Beat down upon an endless sea
And raise out of it every day
More life than we will ever see
The life falls down upon our rock
The life is clean and purified
Part of a system more complex
Than any one man has designed

Every day, a million of us
Go to meet our final rest
Yet with every coming dawn
The bomb sheds life on more of us
How can we tell of our sadness
When we're greater every day
How can we speak of drops of water?
The river flows the other way

How petty do our problems seem
Compared to those our planet faces
How ungrateful must we seem
To bicker of our lucky places
We live upon a ball of rock
Oasis in a cold black desert
Yet we complain of our conditions
As if the desert's so much better



(only for 2nd stanza onwards)

The light that makes it through feeds plants that feed the world, covering it with an endless canopy of pure, green life through which we wander unthinkingly. The same rays of nothing hit an endless sea and raise more water every day than any thing we've ever made can ever hope to achieve, purifying it totally and feeding a complex, endless cycle that keeps us up and running, complaining of the heat and rain. Every day, a million people go to meet their final rest, yet every coming dawn the bomb sheds life upon still more of us. How petty do our problems seems compared with those a planet faces, how ungrateful must we seem to bicker of our lucky places in an oasis of life and love surrounded by an endless nothing where no soul could survive.

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Feeling sort of Blah

posted 16 April 2002


Pointless
Why is everything I do so
Hopeless
Why aren't I looking forward any more?

Dumb
Thoughts are all that come to mind so
Numb
I am, feel things only in my mind now

Blank
Too empty to even write this line I
Thank
Myself for that random sparking neuron

Slow
My thoughts, my actions and my life
Know
now that I am not happy this way

Tired
I'm constantly on the point of shutting down
Wired
With drugs that don't flip out the search dogs

When
did this happen what went on?
Ten
Seconds ago I almost gave up on this song too

Sad
that my life is not going the way I want
Mad
to think that any life would do that

Jaded
by first love that wasn't really love at all
Hated
for no good reason I can think of

Want
One that I can never have, the
Hunt
is on for another one so perfect

Crying
is something I no longer do
Trying
to do it, I can't even when I want to

Not
Giving up even when it seems the right thing
Rot
you scum, I'm gonna fight to be happy again.

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Random

posted 16 April 2002


Throwing copper
In the hopper
Carry it on
Up the mountain

Throw up
Blow up
Make an ornamental
fountain

Deadly
Heady
Fumes of smoke

Life can be
so much more fun
if you take it
as a joke

Bouncing
Flouncing
Twirling round
And being silly

Odd and
Unplanned
Why is Earth
So goddammned hilly?

Make up
Take up
Shake up the old
status quo

Wake up
Rake up
This winter may be
quite cold

Fighting
Liking
Throwing punches
Anywhere

Lash out
Dash out
Last one out's
got pain to bear

Upside
Downside
Make things better
Make things worse

Oh dear
Look there
Last one out
is in a hearse

Meaning
Seeming
Slippery like
a newborn fish

In here
Somewhere
Find it
Make a tasty dish

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Shallow

posted 16 April 2002


I'm new to you, a novelty,
Another taste of what can be
And you may never understand me
And you may never try
You don't really wanna know me
You just wanna be able to say you do
You just wanna be able to show all your friends
That you can make friends with weirdos too

You're kind to me -- you feel pity
I'm not like anyone else you know
But what you fail to understand
is that's because I like it so
You want to know all about me
Or at least the int'resting secret lives
Then you can impress all of your stupid friends
Play expert with a million lies

You don't really wanna know me
You just wanna be able to say you do
You just wanna be able to show all your friends
That you've made friends with weirdos too

I'm strange to you, I won't stick to
The slot you've stuck me in
I'm an idea to you, not a person
And far less am I a friend
You wanna crunch me down into something you know
You won't hesitate to cut off what doesn't fit
You don't wanna think of me in a whole new way
And I'm not taking any more of this shit [/that bit? :-)]

You don't really wanna know me
You just wanna be able to say you do
You just wanna be able to show all your friends
That you can make friends with sickos too

Your desire for past simplicity
Is taking a hard toll on me
You look at me through a cookie cutter
But I'm just not an easy shape
You can't a handle a real world picture
Your brain can't even handle MTV
Your life isn't real so I can never be in it
You trade my life for some fiction and give up on me!

You don't really wanna know me
You just wanna be able to say you do
You just wanna be able to show all your friends
That you can make friends with weirdos too

But I won't be a jigsaw piece
And I won't just fall into place
You won't be let to break me down
Into simple facts that you can face
You can't say the right words to open me up
Can't push the right buttons so I operate right
I'm not a machine and I'm not a cliche
And this isn't going to work until you see that light

It's too late to say that none of this is true
'Cause we both know that I know you
But it's not too late to stop this charade
Now you know what you have to do.



I'm new to you, a novelty, another glimpse of what can be... you don't really understand me, and you don't try very hard, you just want to be able to say you know me and spout interesting little details that make you sound like you know more than you really do. You want to impress the friends you have already with me, not make me a new freind. I'm a situation to you, an object, a cliche not a person. You want to boil everything down to the cliches you know, not have to think about me in a new way. Your desire for the simplicity of past life drags you down and holds you back, stops you from seeing the world, keeps you stupid. Your world isn't real and I'm not real in it, 'cause I'm not a cliche, I'm real and I don't fit.

But that's not accceptable. I refuse to be a piece in your little jigsaw-puzzle life, waiting for everything to fall into place. I'm not going to be reduced into terms you already know. You can't say the right words and manipulate me the way you want me to be. I don't open up when you press the right buttons. You've got to talk to me, not deal with what you think I am. You can get to know me, and I think we might be friends, but there's no way to know for sure until this charade ends. I'm not a novelty, I'm a person, and you'll have to deal with that.

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The Hardest Fall

posted 16 April 2002


Strange world
Strange kid
Was bright
Thoughts skid
Far away
Out of reach
He can't do
and he can't teach

Strange life
Strange times
Strange knife
Strange lines
Old scars
New skin
New parts
Old sin

Strange look
Strange sight
Strange book
Dark night
of the soul
Of the heart
Feels so old
Won't play his part

All an act
All a show
He won't work
They won't know
They won't care
They won't see
'Cause he won't talk
To anybody

Sees life
Through smoked glass
Had friends
In the past
Too dark
can't see
The crowded place
where he should be

Had hopes
Had dreams
Saw them shattered
Now screams
No point
No life
No fun
Sharp knife

Wants death
Too scared
Too much to say
Too much to share
No one around
To share it all
No pride before
The hardest fall

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Thoughtflow

posted 16 April 2002, updated 12 August 2007


Don't do anything more than
Once you do it twice it gets
Boring lives already fill the world far too
Wide loads on the road-way of

Life times stuck behind them so
Slow burns don't work so well
Come to the new world get off the boat
Is leaving without you on

It's not too late to speed your life up
To scratch and sniff the roses
You walk by everyday
Life needs a change and you can do

It will seem too hard to change
is too good to give up so
Fast life is the only way
Out side the weather's changing

Times will leave you all be-hind
Sight is twenty-twenty tonight
The future's not so clear cut
the crap and get mo-ving

On-ward to the beat of your heart
Land always stays with you
know that you must keep it
is an anchor point for you

think it may be time to rise up
to you to do it all now's
the time to tell your thoughts
don't keep coming forever.

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Wrong

posted 16 April 2002


My baby is so beautiful
A boy, I think that's wonderful
He'll grow up big and strong
Just like his mama

And I'll raise him just the right way
And tell him every single day
So he'll know that I know that I know better
Than the whole entire world

'Cause there's (pause) nothing wrong with him [stress *wrong*]
And there's (pause) nothing wrong with me
And there's (pause) nothing wrong with anything [anything said fast]
That I can't fix, he'll see

He's growing up so tall now
And his voice is getting deeper
And he's gonna do the right things
And I'll be the perfect keeper

And he'll follow in my footsteps
The ones I didn't make
And I'll guide him very gently
Through every choice he makes

'Cause there's nothing wrong with him
And there's nothing wrong with me
And he's just the perfect son
He's almost as good as me

But I'm hearing things about him
And they just don't fit the pattern
These people don't know anything
They know nothing about him

And I'm seeing things he's thinking
I can read him like a book
But those aren't the words I wrote there
I won't take a closer look

'Cause there's nothing wrong with him
And there's nothing wrong with me
And there's nothing wrong with anyone
That I can't fix, he'll see

Now I don't know what he's doing
But it's not what I expected
And it's not the greatest option
All these faults must be corrected

Cause there's nothing wrong with him
And there's nothing wrong with me
And there's nothing wrong with him
That I can't fix, he'll see

Now he's saying that he hates me
And I know he doesn't mean it
But he's saying that's he different
And I'm scared I think he means it

And there's something wrong with that
Could there be something wrong with me
Oh my, god I think I've failed
At my immortality

Cause there's something wrong with him
But it's nothing I can see
Yes there's something wrong with him
I can't fix what I can't see

Come on, son just let me in
And we'll see what I can do
To replace this twisted thing
With the same old perfect you

But you seem, to like this thing
This thing that's wrong with you
You won't let me in your heart
So there's nothing I can do

*change voice*
I'm not going to let you in, mom
But I'm going to let me out
I'll show you who I really am
And what I'm all about

'Cause there's nothing wrong with me
And there's nothing wrong with you
But I'm not the perfect son
And you're not perfect too
*change voice*

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Another chapter

posted 16 April 2002


These lines have borne mute witness
to the story of my life
all the changes in the plot
and all the twisting of the knife

These verses have been present
To emotions high and low
And to incoherent ramblings
When I didn't want to go

These chapters have been chronicles
Of everything I am
Of everything I was
And of everything I plan

These chapters have been leading
to a climax near ahead
The logical conclusion
To the things that I have said

But the plot was never perfect
And the ending never clear
The length would lie in doubt sometimes
The ending would be sheer

But now the words are spoken
And the truth at last is shown
And the ending is not perfect
But at least it now is known

And from here the story changes
It may never seem the same
I go from boy you loved so much
To stranger with his name

You need to know this stranger
Learn what has always been true
You may not know this stranger
But this stranger still loves you

And he cannot be alone now
And he cannot face the dark
And you can't leave him alone now
With a ringing in his heart

He cannot be abandoned
You must know he won't survive
He can't struggle without you
He needs you to stay alive

You have to turn and face him
Learn his strange familiar face
You have to let him know
That his heart still has a space

The stranger bares his soul now
A soul you helped create
A soul made merely bigger
By the parts you didn't make

These chapters are concluded
But the story carries on
And the plot is still not certain
If you still will come along

These chapters reached a climax
But there will be more to come
I hope to read more of you
In the story of your son

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Cliches

posted 16 April 2002


[A]
We all know
The way songs go
We recognise
The songs the sing
At least we think
We know the songs
They have an old
familiar ring

[A]
We hear the prefab popsters sing
We hear cliches
That writers use
We wonder why
We keep tuned in
When every word
Is such old news?

[3]
And we hear them sing:
[P]
I love you,
yes it's true
I love you,
I swear it's true
I beg you please,
Down on my knees
[A]
Does this sound
Familiar?

[A]
A song is not
An easy thing
Creating them
Is really tough
But better yet
To just shut up
Then coughing up
This fluffy stuff

[3]
Listen to them:
[P]
I'm in a daze,
Trapped in your maze,
So change your ways,
'Cause I love you
Can't take this pain
Driving me insane
[A]
These lines are all
Recycled!

[A]
Those pretty kids
In shiny suits
They have their place
In magazines
But we crack up
When the yack up
About their thoughts
Of artistry

[3]
Listen to their art:
[P]
I see your lies
In your eyes
And in the skies
[A]
So boring
[P]
If you leave,
I might die,
So tell me why
[A]
I'm listening?

[A]
Don't get me wrong
I like those songs
I use those lines
Most every day
I like those kids
I want those suits
I want the bucks
That they rake in

[3]
Hear the cash machine:
[P]
Every day
In every way
I have to say
[A]
The same thing
[P]
Please don't say no
And please don't go
Leave me so low
Again

[A]
Those little rhymes
That fit four-time
Are absolutely
perfect
We'll hear them 'til
The end of time
Oh damn
I think I used one



This song does not read well. It is a duet (or more), consisting of the "serious artist" [A] who sings the narrative, and the "prefab popsters" [P] singing in exaggeratedly complex production style. The contrast between the two (attractive, hopefully) styles is one of the main points of the song. There's also the possibility of a third voice [3] to introduce the prefabs. In my mind he sounds like a rapper of some kind (don't ask me WHY...), [P] sounds vaguely like N'Sync and [A] sounds like how I wish I sounded.

Original lines (taken over a 24-hour period while listening to the radio):

I love you, yes I do
I'm begging you please, I'm down on my knees
I'm in a daze, in a maze
I love you, I swear it's true
I can't take this pain, it's driving me insane
Every day, I have to say
Don't say no, please don't go
You must believe, please don't leave
I can see you lie, I see it in your eye
If you leave, I might die

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Good Enough

posted 16 April 2002


I keep searching for perfection,
I keep messing things up.
I think I want something more,
Or do I have enough?

I want to find the perfect one,
I want to find the best there is,
But is he really out there,
And can I really be his?

Will the perfect one like me,
Will his feelings be real?
Will I know I can trust him,
When he says what he feels?

Am I aiming too high?
I keep falling too fast,
For the wrong kind of guy,
With the wrong kind of past.

Just who is good enough
For the rest of my life
And who is good enough
To bear up to my knife
And am I good enough
To stand up to myself
Am I good enough
For somebody else?

I have all of these rules,
I lay down in my mind,
But when I play the fool,
I just leave them behind.

I should know better,
But I act like I don't.
I know I'll regret it,
But I say that I won't.

How can I start,
If I'm not in control,
If I can't stop myself,
And I can't save my soul.

And it's me who's to blame,
for the mess that's my life,
'Cause who is good enough
To bear up to my knife
And am I good enough
To stand up to myself
Am I good enough
For somebody else?

Am I asking too much
Of the world and myself?
Should I learn to be happy
With whatever I get?

And how do I know
When I find the right one?
When should I stop searching
And start having fun?

And how can I prove,
That I've really been fair, When-I-say
That the end should be now,
That the end should be here?

Just who is good enough
For the rest of my life
And who is good enough
To bear up to my knife
Should I say "good enough",
And ignore all his faults,
And pretend I'm in love,
Call my search to a halt?

How can I be honest,
To him about us,
If I can't tell myself
When I'm happy enough?

Are these feelings so false,
Or am I just too tough,
That my feelings seem weak
When I've found good enough?

Just who is good enough
For the rest of my life
And who is good enough
To bear up to my knife
And am I good enough
To stand up to myself
Am I good enough
For somebody else?



I keep searching for perfection. I keep messing things up. I keep wanting something more, but is there more than what I've got? I want to find the perfect one, I want to find the best there is. But is the perfect one out there? And will the perfect one like me? Am I aiming too high? I keep falling too fast, for the wrong kind of guy, with the wrong kind of past. I should know better, but I act like I don't, it's me who's to blame for the mess that's my life. Am I asking too much of the world and myself? Should I learn to be happy with whatever I get? How do I know when I find the right one? How do I know when to stop? How can I start if I'm not in control, if I can't stop myself and I can't save my soul, how do I know when I've tried hard enough, that the end should be now, that the end should be here? Is there a time I should say "good enough" and ignore all his faults and pretend I'm in love? How can I be honest to him about us when I can't tell myself when I'm happy enough? Are these feelings so false, or am I just too tough, that my feelings seem weak when I've found good enough?

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Growing up

posted 16 April 2002


They don't know what I've been thinking
Overflowing cup I'm drinking
Superdrug that I've been taking
Twisting all my thoughts

Hearing but not listening
Open eyes but they're not seeing
Open minds shut tight no blinking
New thoughts echoing from old

Silly child what are you saying
Silly brain just cool the blood
Got no need to blow things open
Got no need to slow the flood

Older world is best today
There's no other anyway
Nothing new is happening
So what is there to change?

They don't know what I've been thinking
Overflowing cup I'm drinking
Superdrug that I've been taking
Twisting all my thoughts

Little prison made of kid gloves
Kept a child by too much love
Little darling please don't shove
Nothing out there anyway

Don't get big that's problematic
Keep your brain on automatic
Why must you be so erratic?
You're not the one we used to love

Feel the guilt for being different
Feel the pain of separate living
Don't let on your real intent
Crush the urge of constant giving

They don't know what I've been thinking
Overflowing cup I'm drinking
Superdrug that I've been taking
Twisting all my thoughts

Life's a drug and it's addictive
It's not the same for everyone
Some it takes them high and different
Who cares what happens to the others?

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Inspiration

posted 16 April 2002


Why do my songs rhyme?
Why do they keep time?
Why are my songs mine?
Where do they come from?
What are they for?
You wanna know
If I can cut and clip my thoughts
They must not be that valuable

But you are wrong
About this song
The thoughts arrive
Already rhymed
They already fit
Into the mould
I string them out onto the keyboard
All I add is punctuation

Why do I feel my songs must be pretty?
Why do I want them to be in tune?
Why do I write these songs in the first place?
I may not know
But it's not for pleasing you.

Why is the timing always the same?
Why must the rhyming always be so lame?
Why must you always be such a pain?
I must not know the answer.

I write because I like to write
I write because I need to
I write because the thoughts arrive
And I can't let them go

I wish I had more imagination
I wish I made songs far more different
The sentiments are pure and right
The rhythms need so much more effort

But still the thought-forms keep arriving
Shadow songs echo in my head
The echos build to a crescendo then
Another rhyme is being said

And still I weep
For those I miss
The little thoughts
That slip away
The brilliant flash
Of purest insight
That fades to nothing
In waking's light



Why do my songs rhyme?
Why do they keep time?
Why are my songs mine?
Where do they come from?
Why I have thoughts that fit into a rhyming structure, if I can cut and clip them to fit then they can't be all that valuable. Why do I feel my songs must be pretty? Why do I want them to be in tune? Why do I wrote songs in the first place. I'm sure it's not for pleasing you. Why's the timing always the same? Why must the rhyming be so lame? Why must you be such a pain? I don't know the answer. I write because I like to write, I write because I need to, I write because the thoughts arrive and I can't let them go.

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No reason to Hide

posted 16 April 2002


You can't do it, even though you want to
You can't say it, you're too terrified.
You can't be that, what will all the others think?
You can't see that that you are blind.

You can't do it, what will all the others say?
Terrified if they tell you to your face
But far worse then if you cannot hear them
Whispered secrets to put you in your place

Muffled giggles haunt your imagination
Before you've even had the thought
How sad the way you're such a willing slave
To doing what you think you ought

***
You're so desperate
To be adored
You can't be yourself
Anymore
Give up on this life
Give up on this lie
Give up on this day
I swear it's alright
[You] Don't have to read the rules
To know this game
You can change the board
And have the world your way
Throw away all the lies
And only keep what you need to survive
***

You admit it, you've always felt this way
You can't stop the feelings, but you can hold them in
The guilt you're feeling is sadly misdirected
Holding back your feelings is the one true sin

But one of these days, you're gonna slip
The feelings come so often now, so quickly and so strong
You're living in fear of the day that your control will break
You're terrified of doing something wrong

But there's something, you even hide it from yourself
Hide it from the hidden spirit dancing in your soul
Nothing's stopping you from being what you want to be
Criticising your life isn't anybody's role

***
You're so desperate
To be adored
You can't be yourself
Anymore
Give up on this life
Give up on this lie
Give up on this day
I swear it's alright
[You] Don't have to read the rules
To know this game
You can change the board
And have the world your way
Throw away all the lies
And only keep what you need to survive
***

There's only one thing that's slowing down and blocking you,
It's a treasured lie, our oldest greatest tale
The myth that someone's watching you and judging you
The myth that someone gives a damn whether you win or you fail

But no one gives a damn whether your ass lives or dies
That hurts because you used to be so VIP
There's no "they" to think better or worse of you
Why would they care? Why would they want to see?

Mom and dad, they will get right over it
All your friends can handle it, you'll find that way too easy
And what does it matter if they don't get over it?
Where's the rule that says they have to be happy?

***
You're so desperate
To be adored
You can't be yourself
Anymore
Give up on this life
Give up on this lie
Give up on this day
I swear it's alright
[You] Don't have to read the rules
To know this game
You can change the board
And have the world your way
Throw away all the lies
And only keep what you need to survive
***

The boundaries are imaginary,
The walls are only in your mind
Society is there to build them
Your conscience here to keep you blind

You can do exactly what you want to,
You won't even have to try,
Just take an hour by yourself
Find your heart and let it fly

So now relax
Releasing all that hopeless pride,
And revel in
Having nothing left to hide.

***
You're so desperate
To be adored
You can't be yourself
Anymore
Give up on this life
Give up on this lie
Give up on this day
I swear it's alright
[You] Don't have to read the rules
To know this game
You can change the board
And have the world your way
Throw away all the lies
And only keep what you need to survive
***



You can't do it, even though you want to. You're too terrified. What will everyone else think? Will they say anything? If they don't say anything it'll be even worse, they'll just think those damning thoughts and whisper them sideways behind cupped hands or turned backs. You've always felt like this, you've always had the little urges, you've always held them back. But they're getting too strong now, there are too many of them, too often. You're gonna act up one of these days and you're living in fear of your own identity. You can do what you want, this is something you try to hide from yourself, a fact you're trying to hide from that inner person dancing in your soul. Nothing's stopping you from living exactly how you want to live but yourself. It's the world's greatest myth, you can't do that, or what would they THINK? Who the hell are they? And why the hell should they care? Mommy and daddy will get over it, your friends will handle it, and does it matter if they don't? The boundaries are imaginary, the walls are only in your mind, society is there to build them, your conscience there to keep you blind. You can do exactly what you want to, you won't even have to try, just take an hour, take yourself, and let your inner spirit fly. Those muscles you have clenched so tight, so long you don't even know they're there, relax, release your hopeless pride. You'll find you have nothing to hide.

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Raypist

posted 16 April 2002


Graceful, slender beauty
You take no heed of duty
The rules are different for you 'cause the world's your friend
Wrapped around your thumb
The world your perfect plum
Everything's so easy and your luck may never end

Thoughtless around others
Still everyone's your brother
Your face is oh so perfect, so your life is like that too
Our love makes us feel helpless
You make us feel so selfless
Surrounded by devotion, you're not be sure we're being true

We take the weight right off you
Your beauty makes us glad to
But when hit by a feather now you think you break your back
You make me feel so light
I dream of you at night
Better than to slash my wrists for having everything I lack

You know that I love you
I can't help but want you
But you make me so angry when you assume it cannot stop
You are right of course
I can't resist your force
But don't take us for granted and you'll make it to the top



NB to self: Method: songwriting to fit within a beat is far more limiting and produces inferior songs to fitting beats to existing writing. How else to achieve original structures?

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Snow

posted 16 April 2002


Now it seems so long ago
The time when you were happy
You can't remember being free
You only know your worries

I know you've got that silent feeling
The person in your soul is screaming
You feel trapped by your every day
You want to make it go away

The world goes past you every second
The fingers of the future beckon
You see a million little faults
You want to help to cure them all

But they spin past you every time
You get just one and let past nine
And soon a snow of problems
Has become a freezing wall

A spinning cell of dirty ice
A touch can cut you like a knife
The walls are getting thicker
And you know there's no way out

I know you've got that silent feeling
The person in your soul is screaming
You feel trapped by your every day
You want to make it go away

The wall is crushing, closing in
Your lack of action seems a sin
But even your best effort
Does not seem to make a difference

A world so full of injustice
Is not the world you grew up in
The time when you were happy
Did that time really exist?

You hurl your rightness at the wall
It's not enough to stop the fall
The snow of pain and misery
Still falling throughout history

I know you've got that silent feeling
The person in your soul is screaming
You feel trapped by your every day
You want to make it go away

I know you've got that silent feeling
The person in your soul is screaming
The walls are closing fast I know
But you should know you're not alone

A billion of you stand your ground
The walls keep spinning all around
The problems don't stop raining down
But mabe you can hold them back

The cell is never getting larger
And you struggle ever harder
Knowing you must never tire
Someday we will start a fire.



Do you ever get that mute, trapped feeling? The world is going past you and every second there's a tiny little thing you could fix, a tiny little comment you know is wrong, an insignificant habit you know you could correct, but don't? The opportunities fly past you, a hundred every second, and you can't grab them all so you don't grab any, until there's a wall of them spinning constantly round you, trapping you with a hundred thousand things you haven't done. The frustration pounds you just as well as if were a wall of spinning concrete. You want to say the things to correct the problems, but there are too many. You want to right the wrongs of your universe, but every correction is just a tiny hole in a solid wall. You feel like a termite on a totem pole, and you want to scream but the need to explain your scream would just be another piece of that huge, solid wall. So you sit there, mute and angry, and no one even know there's a problem.

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Story of a boy

posted 16 April 2002, updated 12 August 2007


This is a story of a boy
There's nothing sweet or innocent about him
There's no-thing evil about him
He's really just a kid

He's just a boy
You wouldn't look twice at him
He's nothing really special
Just an ordinary kid

He's not so popular
A couple people hate him
But his mother says she loves him
Though his father disagrees

Nobody likes him
But that doesn't make him evil
Just a little antisocial
He needs to make new friends

Anybody
Can have a song about them
And it makes them seem so special
And it makes them feel so great
But you should know
That there's nothing really special
If you knew anyone this well
They'd seem so special too

Everything about him
Is decided by other people
Whether they like him and they keep him
Or they turn his ass away

They don't really know him
They just see a surface person
But when he's always looking inward
What surface can they see?

Nobody knows him
He doesn't really know himself
He keeps his world on his bookshelf
He doesn't go outside to play

He's not so different
He dresses all in black sometimes
But he's not being different
He just don't know what to wear

Anybody
Can have a song about them
And you'd swear they were so beautiful
They're an angel in the flesh
But you should know
If you spent some more time talking
And not practising your walking
That everyone's like this

This is a story
About that boy you swear wasn't in your class
The kid who always got picked last
And sat quiet in the back

He's got a story
And he doesn't seem so different now
And I bet you remember how
You used to feel sometimes

He's just a boy
And there is no tragic ending
He didn't suicide or end it
He's just working in a store

He's just a man
No different from the others
From all your friends and brothers
And he's still quite all alone

Anybody
Can have a song about them
But until you really know them
You don't really know the words
But you should try
To look some more around you
And make someone glad they found you
And then you both can sing along

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New Title

posted 16 April 2002


We're the third world and we suck
We suck!
Our lives rely on luck
On luck!
Our drinking water's cholera,
And all our food is muck,
We wish we were Ameri*ca*...
'Cause the third would really sucks

We're the third world and we suck
We suck!
We'd kill you for a buck
One buck!
Our government is stupid
And our government's corrupt
We don't impeach our president
'Cause he's got no **** to suck
And the press is censored any*how*...
We're the third world and we suck

We're the third world and we suck
We suck!
Our lives rely on luck
On luck!
Our money is the US dollar
It's borrowed from the states
We'll pay back in three thousand - one
If they fix the interest rates
That's if the oil will last that *long*...
'Cause the third world really sucks

We're the third world and we suck
We suck!
Our government's kaput
So duck!
Bullets flying back and forth
Across the capital
The army's in on this one guys
So better run like hell
The states is gonna kick our *ass*...
'Cause the third world really sucks.

We're the third world and we suck
We suck!
And all of us are nuts
We're nuts!
We hate the states with all our hearts
We rip Americans apart
But we stock up on Nike gear
Wear Hilfiger from toe to ear
Next thing we'll all be hunting *deer*...
'Cause we're the third world and we suck!

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Winning

posted 16 April 2002


I go through life
I've got my ambitions
I've set my goals
But they seem to be shifting
Everytime I turn around
They move further away

Is it still winning
If I've broken all my rules?
Is it still winning
If I've lost all my cool?
It may be sinning
But I won't look like a fool
I may be winning
But it doesn't feel that way

I've got my standards
Well -- I did at the beginning
Things got a li-dle tough
I may have bent the rules
Means to an end, I know
But now the end has no meaning
I didn't really want things
To be this way

Is it still winning
If I've broken all my rules?
Is it still winning
If I've lost all my cool?
It may be sinning
But I won't look like a fool
I may be winning
But it doesn't feel that way

I've seen all the others
And I've seen their condition
Maybe all this winning
Isn't all that it seems
Maybe there's no success
If you don't go in kicking
Then is it worth the risk
Of success kicking back?

Is it still winning
If I've broken all my rules?
Is it still winning
If I feel like a fool?
I know that I'm sinning
But they're sinning too
I may be winning
But it doesn't feel that way

I know we all can't win
But I won't be the loser
Why do I have to win
And prove myself right?
All that I'll show again
Is that I'm still good at cheating
Nobody cares but me
So maybe it's all right.

Here I am winning
I've broken all my rules
Here I'm winning
I've taken all of those dares
I know that I'm sinning
But it doesn't matter
Once I'm out here winning
Nobody cares.

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Advice

posted 16 April 2002


Just a little advice
Advice to help you grow
Nothing very special but
I thought that you should know
Never to give up on trying
Even when you feel naiive

The homeless may carry on dying
But that won't mean you no longer grieve

Recently it came to me
I care what happens to you
Can't say it happens often, but
Helping you I want to
Awful though your problems are
Remember they're time-soluble
Don't give in to their same sin

You don't want to be like them

Right and sight are intertwined
At least when you're so gorgeous
You're living in a dreamworld and
Maybe you won't wake up
Other people, other worlds
Never really understanding
Damn I want to have your dream

But not if I can't have my own

People can't see anything
Everything is going fine
They're not looking out for you
Even when you're dying
Remember you can help yourself

When your problems are invisible
Change your mind and change your life
It makes no difference to the world

Carrying it all before you
Always get the joke on time
Reeling from the blows life deals you
Last in every stupid line
Advice I don't have to give you

Seems to me you're doing fine
Remember that I'll be here for you
Always ready with some time

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Model Child

posted 16 April 2002


He's raised the only proper way
Mom and dad know what they're doing
He prays to god twice every day
And never ever answers back

He only speaks when spoken to
And every night he does the dishes
The Bible tells him what to do
He doesn't question daddy's wishes

He never questions mom or dad
Because they said they're always right
Doubting them is awful bad
Resists temptation every night

Never ever touch down there
We'll tell you when you're old enough
Remember always live in fear
Of all that touchy-feely stuff

Never reach for anyone
God will guide you to your wife
God wants us to help you, son
We'll guide you on the walk of life

Going to be a doctor, lawyer
Going to make your mother proud
Come straight home for dinner
Sloth is a sin and not allowed

Healthy body means healthy mind
Exercise three times a week
But don't let strength give you pride
Remember what comes to the meek

Meek and mild and perfect child
God-fearing, godlike, no faults to see
Inside anger running wild
No way out, he can't get free

Meek and mild and perfect man
Mom and dad's great victory
Fulfillment of their lifelong plan
Until they find the body



Raised very strictly
Questioning them is wrong
Thinking they might be wrong is wrong
Don't answer back
Speak when spoken to
Always do the dishes
Never touch yourself
Never touch anyone
Anger rising, no way out
Nothing you can talk about
Going to be a doctor or a lawyer
Study hard, always come straight home
Exercise is good for you, go to the gym twice a week
God-fearing, god-loving, godlike child
Nothing wrong
Until they find the body

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Crazy boy

posted 16 April 2002


It's 5am and the phone rings
I knew it would be you
Don't slit your wrists tonight, hun
I've better things to do
Than rush you to ER again
And bill your mom for stomach pumps
You've got friends and they love you, hun
There's no reason to be in the dumps

It's 2am, you're drunk again
Three scared-excited in the back
You've turned the headlights off again
Doing 90 down an unlit track
He's crazy, man, he's such a freak
That's what they say about you
You love all this attention but
You don't know why they like you

The crazy boy, he's so exciting
Whatever will he think of next?
Hang on to him, he's a rollercoaster
And pray he doesn't break your neck
You're stupid, boy, and I'm your friend
I'm not daring you to jump
Why is it that you only call me
When you need your stomach pumped?

They aren't your friends, they're spectators
They've come to see your one-man show
Try to start a conversation
And we'll see how far that goes
Maybe you are crazy, baby
But not because you set that fire
You plan your stunts too carefully
And you're far too good a liar

You're crazy 'cause you have real friends
But leave us to go tend your flock
Of sensation-craving human sheep
Who giggle as you pick the locks
Maybe I'm the crazy one
I'm already in the car
Driving fast down unlit streets
Rushing you to the ER

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Humble Girl

posted 16 April 2002


School was always daily torture
Questions and answers and neither made sense
Spent your classes looking skywards
Praying for the day to end

Teachers would despair of you
Using you to vent frustration
Sarcastic comments passed right by you
Classmates giggled affirmation

Always bottom of the class
Disappointment led to rage
First from teachers, then your parents
Telling you to act your age

Say sorry if you get it wrong
Say sorry if they look confused
Say sorry if they pause for thought
Apologize or be abused

You're the stupid humble girl
Not so bright but so polite
Everything must be your fault
Everyone is always right

Apologizing always helps
They don't yell if they know you're sorry
And everything you do is wrong
You don't want to be a worry

Think twice before speaking up
Better not to speak at all
You can't be wrong if you shut up
If you're not proud then you can't fall

You're the stupid humble girl
Not so bright but so polite
Everything must be your fault
Everyone is always right

Always giggle when you speak
You can say that you were joking
Asking questions makes you weak
Don't talk at parties; take up smoking

You're not clever, so be pretty
Spend your cash on cheap cosmetics
Try to hook a clever man
Dazzle him with thin synthetics

You're the stupid humble girl
Not so bright but so polite
Everything must be your fault
Everyone is always right

You could sing and you were pretty
You could run and you could draw
You've forgotten all your talents
The happiness that came before

They all said that you were stupid
Made you think you had no hope
When they find you, they will be
Amazed that you could tie the rope


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Neurotic

posted 16 April 2002


Who knows
What goes on in her head
Why she sings fifties tunes
As she climbs out of bed
Why her clothes always clash
And her hair's always wild
Thank god she's not married
Could you think of her child?

Strange girl
She giggles for no reasons
Gets a week-long obsession
With the change of the seasons
She shouts without warning
And she burst into tears
Bores everyone rigid
With irrational fears

So neurotic, how bizarre
She slashes her wrists and crashes the car
Floods the apartment
And loses her job
Disappears for three months
Weds a drifter called Rob

She lies
About the places she's been
About things that she's done
About meeting the queen
But she'll tell you far more
Than you wanted to hear
If she gets in truth mood
And you give her an ear

Breaks things
Leaves a trail of destruction
Destroys priceless heirlooms
To determine their function
But she makes things as well
Paints astonishing art
And writes beautiful songs
That sing right to your heart

So neurotic, she's insane
Her second divorce was the one from her brain
Why do we still see her
Why is she still around
Why haven't we told her
To get out of town?

Her past
How did she gets like this?
Breaks up with her boyfriend
And abandons the kids
How was her childhood
Do her parents still love her?
Is it something her dad did
Did she take after her mother?

Phonecalls
Endless tales of her distress
And then she concludes
That she must be a princess
Who is it looks out for her
And how does she survive
If the rest of us struggle
Why is she still alive?

So neurotic, what a pain
But occasionally there's a flash of the sane
Moments of brilliance
And some good advice
Makes you glad you put up
With the rest of her life

They say that true genius
Is always insane
So we'll cope with her majesty
Dancing out in rain



Giggles to herself
Gets strange obsessions
Shouts at the wrong moment
Cries for no reason
Lies transparently
Proclaims she's the queen
Tells you more than you need to know
Breaks things
Makes things of great beauty
Neurotic
How does she survive?
Who made her like this?
What was her childhood like?
What were her parents like?
Surely this doesn't happen by itself.
Crashes her car
Slashes her wrists
Breaks up with her boyfriend
And abandons the kids
Floods the apartment
And loses her job
Disappears for three months
Weds a drifter called Rob
Neurotic
But occasionally
There's a flash of the sane
And you see she's not totally
Divorced from her brain
Moments of brilliance
And some good advice
Makes you glad you put up
With the rest of her life
They say that true genius
Is always insane
So we'll cope with her majesty
Dancing out in rain


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Second Kiss

posted 16 April 2002


No one could know you better than him,
You know all his secret dreams
Together you shared your first kiss
And the last one too it seems

You're waiting for your second kiss
You're dreaming of that day
The day you share your second kiss
And throw your pain away

Your mother thinks you're beautiful you
Grew up slowly, grew up plain
He grew up quickly, a gorgeous boy
Wild thing only you can tame
You can calm him but never have him
Forbidden fruit that you still tend
You know it does no good to stare
He loves you only as a friend

You're waiting for that second kiss
You live in hope, it brings you back
The day you share your second kiss
And you'll gain everything you lack

Some others have tried to catch your eye
But your heart won't change its tune
You waste the precious years of your youth
Strangers will stop calling soon
His girlfriends all love the clothes he wears
The ones you picked out for him
He tells you what it was like last night
Cruel stories, you endure them

Still waiting for that second kiss
Still living in a dream world
The day you share your second kiss
And you won't be the lonely girl

He's not using you without caring
Every favour is returned
But there's one thing you can't ask him for
The second kiss for which you burn
He'll always love you like a sister
You know you're his best friend
But stop waiting for that second kiss
Time for your long dream to end

Stop waiting for that second kiss
Don't throw your life away
You'll never get your second kiss
He'll never ask to stay



Grew up together
Will grow old together
Know each other's secrets
Shared their first kiss
First kiss also their last
You grew up slow, he grew up fast
A gorgeous man
A ordinary girl
Your friends are sorry for you
Setting you up with guys they don't want
You only have eyes for one
And he calls you when he's down
And tells you how it was for him
You choose his dress-sense for him
His girlfriend loves the clothes he wears
He does your homework for you
You know it does no good to stare
He loves you as a friend
You're happy that he does
But he's moving on and you're staying put
There's no future in that


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Pretty Boy

posted 16 April 2002


He was such a pretty baby
At ten years old a cute young thing
Now he's eighteen, slim and gorgeous
Waits to see what life will bring

He knows how to take a compliment
Blushing as their hearts race faster
He hasn't got that much to say
But he's learned that doesn't matter

Needs no personality
All he has to do is smile
He's asked by using soft brown eyes
Ever since he was a child

Gets a lot of vacant stares
No one ever listens to him
Stand there blinded by his beauty
He's never had a conversation

If he wants to bed a girl
He just has to stand like this
No thought for the aftermath
And no one to share secrets with

Wasn't born with any talents
Never needed any skills
Wows them at the interviews
He knows he's got looks that kill

Men and women kneel before him
As he climbs the money charts
Working for his next promotion
Stepping over broken hearts

Gives his castaways to friends
They mix respect with jealousy
They can't beat him so they join him
Hoping they reflect his glory

Now he's thirty-five and fading
Still gorgeous, but much lower down
A new adonis is now rising
A child has come to claim the crown

But he still can't talk to people
Still no personality
The power of his smile is gone
And pretty boy gets no pity.



When he was a baby everyone thought he was gorgeous
When he was ten everyone said he was cute
Now he's nineteen and they all say he's pretty
He knows how to take a compliment
He blushes, making hearts race faster
He hasn't got that much to say
But he's learned that doesn't matter
He never developed a personality
All he needs to do is smile
He doesn't know how to talk to people
Because no one's ever listened to him
He gets lots of vacant stares from people blinded by his face
He can bed a girl if he stands like this
But he doesn't have anyone to share secrets with
He doesn't have any talents, and he's never developed any skills
But he'll get the job anyway, he's perfected looks that kill
From guys he gets grudging respect, mixed with lots of jealousy
He gives his castaways to friends
A career path that is meteoric, he does well with the management
All the girls and lots of guys respond
If he flashes that smile and wiggles that ass
Now's he's 35 and fading
Still gorgeous, but he's heard lower down
They've found a new boy, he's so pretty
A child who came and stole his crown
But he still can't talk to people
Still has no personality
Stuck in a doldrums, no hope of escape
The pretty boy gets no pity


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The Lad

posted 16 April 2002


So rough, so tough, so insecure
So loud, so proud, shit-scared
This lad know that he's being stupid
But his judgement is impaired

Thirty pints of lager, mate
He can really take his ale
Throws up every night until
The day his liver fails

Loves his footie, loves his curry
Scalds his tongue with vindaloo
Doesn't matter how it tastes
His mates can eat it, he can too

Early morning, we've been clubbing
Far too hard for alcopop
Now it's time to start the fighting
'Cause the party never stops

In his brain alarm bells ringing
This is stupid, dangerous
Why are kicking this kid
What's he ever done to us?

He can't stop or they won't like him
He's got to be a lad
He's got to follow but who's leading?
He'll end up just like his dad

Dad knows that he's patriotic
'Cause he spent a whole week's wages
On his precious season ticket
Doesn't know his children's ages

He's got a bird, she looks alright
He's knocked her over once or twice
But she loves him anyway
She's pregnant, so she's got to stay

Soon he'll have a little lad
Who looks up to big strong dad
And makes all the same mistakes
His life is just a big piss-take.

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Slut

posted 16 April 2002


See her stalking, slowly, deftly
Comments sliding into place
A careful calculated smile
Arranged upon a painted face

See him stalking, quickly, surely
Flashing up a wicked grin
Hear the careful turn of phrase
Promising a night of sin

See the conversation flowing
Subject swimming just below
See them slip out early, quietly
Not like anyone doesn't know

One fantastic night of passion
Two experts in the midnight arts
First names only, no phone numbers
Nothing with a chance to start

You knew from the start it would happen this way
You're a slut in everything but name
Fuelling your body's hunger
For another, better, younger

You tell me you're looking for the one
You lie and say you'll settle down
You never listened when we said
You wouldn't find true love in bed

You're not a slut, you use protection
But you're still starving for affection
What is it that the last night lacked
What do you miss that brings you back?

I can see that you are really sure you
Can find a body that can cure your
Aching emptiness inside
Until then you'll enjoy the ride

She can feel his body heaving
He listens to her heavy breathing
Neither hears the other screaming
Inside for companionship

But one night your tricks will fail
One night the wind will leave your sail
You'll go home to an empty bed
And drink yourself to sleep

Scared of dying by yourself
You come to me and ask for help
What is it that you're doing wrong
Will you know you've found the one?

You cannot see another's heart
Just by groping in the dark
There is no tight enough embrace
To see behind a painted face

But you find to your frustration
You're no good at conversation
Unless it's just another weapon
In your hefty bag of tricks

So you caress her body lightly
And you grab his neck so tightly
Gathering small consolations
From your nightly consummations

It's a habit, you can't break it
As long as your body can take it
You'll come back to the meat market
And you'll always be alone

You're a slut, you didn't plan it
You really just don't understand this
Love that you are looking for
A game to you, it's nothing more

There's nothing more that I can say
You'll have to learn in your own way
Until the day you learn to love
One night will have to be enough

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Lonely Woman

posted 16 April 2002



You were never the pretty girl
Always heard about the party the following day
Didn't know any boys that weren't relations
Wouldn't know how to talk to them anyway

Shy, well mannered and forgotten
You'd get invited by their mothers
Left alone, you'd always end up
Playing with their baby brothers

Lonely girl, I see you sitting
Home alone again tonight
Lonely girl, I see you crying
Go to sleep, turn off the light

Lonely girl, your life's a struggle
Why is your life such a fight
Lonely woman, don't know why
You're still alone, it isn't right

If you'd been born last century
You might have said god spoke to you
Joined the local convent, had
A routine you could fit into

Running bake sales for the church
The vicar's thanks is always great
There's no need to stop donating
Just because your rent is late

God is there and always loves you
And you know that prayer can heal
But there's a pain you feel inside you
You want a lover you can feel

Lonely girl, I see you sitting
Home alone again tonight
Lonely woman, you're still crying
Go to sleep, turn off the light

Lonely woman, life's a struggle
Life has always been a fight
Lonely woman, don't know why
You're still alone, it isn't right

Speak to mother every weekend
Always visit family
Everyone always welcomes warmly
Wait secretly for you to leave

Don't have any friends to speak of
Just people that you see all day
You're a good and thoughtful person
But no one likes you anyway

How did your life get like this
Why did you end up so lonely
What happened to the fairytale
What happened to your one and only

People talk about their lovers
You smile and shrug, and you pretend
You don't mind when they talk of others
But you want your pain to end

You go on dates, always the same
You see a movie, watch a play
You have a long romantic dinner
Then they mention that they're gay

Lonely girl, I see you sitting
Home alone again tonight
Lonely woman, you're still crying
Go to sleep, turn off the light

Lonely woman, nothing's changing
Lonely woman, fading youth
Maiden bloom now whithering
With no one to take care of you

Died alone and soon forgotten
Left no mark upon the world
How did you get to rock bottom
Why were you the lonely girl



You were the ugly girl at school
Didn't know how to talk to boys
Didn't get invited to parties
You were the polite one who always offered to help out
If this were 50 years ago you'd be a nun
Middle aged and mild-mannered
You run the bake sales at the church
You give to the poor, but you can't pay the rent
There's people worse off than you
You know that god is always there for you
You know that prayer will always help
But you still want someone inside of you
You're still as lonely as hell
You call your mother every week
You always visit family
Everyone always welcomes you warmly
And secretly waits for you to leave
You don't have friends to speak of
Just casual acquaintances
You're good and kind, a wonderful person
But no one likes you anyway
How did you get so lonely
Who put you on this path
Where is your one and only
To take you by the hand?
People talk of marriage
You smile and shrug and pretend it doesn't hurt
Introduce to single men they know
You go on dates, always the same
You see a movie or a play
You have a long romantic dinner
Then they mention that they're gay
Lonely girl, always been so lonely
Lonely woman, fading youth
Maiden bloom that soon will whither
No one will take care of you
Die alone and soon forgotten
Left no mark upon the world
How did you get to rock bottom
Why are you the lonely girl


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12 comments

Drama Queen

posted 16 April 2002


Oh my god you'll never guess what happened
Come quick it's a matter of life and death
Oh no oh no the world is ending
The excitement never ends

I'm glitzy, ditzy, I'm the drama queen
Spend life bouncing from crisis to crisis
I make up for my life's dullness
Playing up everyone else's

Every day an emotional adventure
Will I laugh, will I shout, or will I weep?
Shall I call rescue services
Who won't I talk to this week?

He's life-changing, a god amongst men
This could be the one, he's my new boyfriend
I think this one might last forever
If he's still here in September

Oh my god it's a such disaster
Everybody gather round comfort me
I'll be the center of attention
Look, I'm crying, come and see!

Fabulous, amazing, oh fantastic!
It's the greatest thing the world has known!
Come and see my latest gadget
'Til the next fad rolls around

I'm glitzy, ditzy, I'm the drama queen
Spend life bouncing from crisis to crisis
I make up for my life's dullness
Playing up everyone else's

Did you hear what he said and what she replied?
Oh it's so funny, I think I might die!
For tales of failed relationships
You just can't get better than this

Get on the phone, call everyone you know
Quick spread the news, it's dead important!
I'm a link in every grapevine
Gossip-queen, I feel so potent

Life is dull and I spice it up nicely
With a new life-ending crisis nightly
Screaming, crying down the phone
Get that old adrenaline flow

How on earth would you cope without me?
How would you know what was going on in town?
How would you know who slept with who?
Admit it, you need me around

Everyone needs that one crazy friend
The lunatic element keeping you sharp
To keep the fires of friendship burning
You always need one random spark


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Shy

posted 16 April 2002


I never know what to say
Never know how to act
Don't know when to speak
Or how to react

I've got some friends
They love me to death
They laugh at my jokes
While I hold my breath

I'm scared of new people
And I don't like big crowds
I prefer to be silent
So please don't be loud

I've always been shy
Keep my thoughts in my head
But I don't want to be lonely
Does that have to be said?

You know what I mean
Do I have to explain?
I'd rather not cry
I'll just deal with my pain

I'd love to be liked
And I'd like to be loved
But I don't want to push you
And I hate being shoved

Just look in my eyes
And you'll hear what I say
I know that you would
If you'd just turn my way

I like being quiet
And I like peaceful places
But please don't forget me
One of those nameless faces

I want you to know me
And not have to remind you
And we could have long talks
Let my intelligence blind you

But I've always been shy
Ever since I was young
So I'll keep sitting here
And keep holding my tongue


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The arena was vast, and dimly lit by the rays of the dying sun reflecting as a velvet haze from...

posted 16 April 2002

The arena was vast, and dimly lit by the rays of the dying sun reflecting as a velvet haze from low clouds hanging in the dusky sky. Hundreds stood or sat there, thinly spaced across the arena, watching each other with a mixture of distrust and grudging respect. Many turned in the direction of the dias in the east, where Lady Deborah sat.

There Lord Seldolivaw knelt in the dry dust before the dias; Lady Deborah stood and smiled down at him, an eyebrow slightly arched in interrogation. "My lady," he said, "it has been too long since we last spoke." "Indeed, young Lord," she replied, "but what news do you bring for me?" "All is not well in the realm, my Lady. A tide grows against me, even in my own lands. A dark force acts against me. I plead for your assistance," he said. "Stand, Lord Seldolivaw," she said, "I will consider your request. Will you stay and discuss it further?"

Lord Seldolivaw stood. The dust which stained his closely-fit leggings fell away, and ran from between his shapely toes to the ground. A beam of translucent energy, the sky-blue colour of his garments, rose from the ground like a staff. Grasping it, the glow spread beneath his feet, and he rose slowly to her eye level, supported on a glowing disc of transluscence. "Would that I might. But my arrival here is for this purpose and this only, I must return immediately. You must know I would not wish it this way," he continued, and they both smiled as Seldolivaw cast a brief glance in the direction of William, "but perhaps this is for the best." Lady Deborah laughed a deliciously evil laugh. "Very well, young Lord, you may go. But we must remain in contact if the danger you speak of is true." "Be assured that it is, my lady. With your permission, I shall provide you with a link." Seldolivaw placed one palm to his forehead, and the glow on which he stood rose to shimmer around him for a moment, breaking into a network of fine blue lines which contracted around his head before disappearing into his skull. He removed his hand, and on his palm sat a brightly glowing sphere a few centimetres across. It was lime green, and though its edges were sharply defined, its substance seemed not: its form shifted and coiled within itself, as smoke trapped with a glass bead. He took it between two fingers, and the disc shifted to place him face to face with Lady Deborah. She bowed her head slightly, and he placed it upon her forehead. Small traceries of green light crawled out of the sphere to form a delicate webbing upon her forehead, which then sank into her supple skin, pulling the sphere down with them as if it were completely insubstantial. _Our thoughts are linked now. An unusual feeling, to say the least. We cannot discern which of these memories were originally ourselves. Such a useful gift we have, and yet we've never used it. Is such a change permanent? No, this change is not permanent, or we would know. Already it is breaking._ As the bond parted and they regained a sense of themselves, Lady Deborah breathed deeply. "My. I have never before been privilege to your gift, Lord Seldolivaw. It is a credit to your training that the link runs so deep."

"My training was haphazard at best," Seldolivaw sighed. "My link is not complete enough: even in its very depth you could maintain a sense of curiosity. You should not have had the sensation of new knowledge." "Ah, but I am rather special in that respect. I did think of it as our gift, young Lord. And I have never been under any illusion as to where my talents lie before. Your gift is indeed considerable. How do we reestablish contact?" "The nature of the link when I produce it is such that it slips to the unconscious. Probe your memories, and you will find me." Lady Deborah now instantly recalled the feeling of looking deeply into her own eyes as the link parted, and every movement subsequent to that. She laughed, as she recalled another errant glance in the direction of William. "I apologize," said Seldolivaw, an incongrously sheepish grin upon his face as he glanced downwards, detecting her thoughts. Then he seemed to collect himself. "I must depart now," he said. He solemnly kissed her upon her forehead, then the disc shifted backwards. "I am relying upon your aid!" he shouted down, as the disc rose quickly into the darkening sky. He watched the arena grow smaller beneath him, and noticed the early lights of the town. The disc rotated away from the dying sun, and shot forward into the night.

His coat billowed behind him as the disc sped onwards, forests and rivers flashing beneath it in the twinkling of an eye. As the wind became too much to bear, he erected a partial shield to protect himself minimally as the speed continued to increase. Now a bullet-shaped light flashing across the sky, glowing orange with a tail many miles long, he sped onward, leaving the realm behind.

When he judged himself to be sufficiently distant from habitation,

[unfinished from this point]

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(I like Shield best, but isn't it already the name of some kind of superhero group from D.C....

posted 16 April 2002
(I like Shield best, but isn't it already the name of some kind of superhero group from D.C. comics?)

General idea:

Satellite probes are tracing an inbound comet/asteroid/whatever on a collision course with earth. Story sounds like Armageddon, except true level of unpreparedness for such an endeavour is revealed: all we do is throw missiles at it. They comet DODGES the missiles, keeps on coming. Turns out to be enormous but insubstantial, rips through earth with almost no effects other than really killer special effects (lights etc., whatever).

In its wake, five teenagers (yay! Youthful-heroes story sans Power Rangers! At last!) are left contacted with the knowledge that the passing comet was the survivors of an alien race fleeing destruction by a more powerful race which is agressively colonising planets rich in heavy metals. The Agressors (should that be their name?) are in hot persuit, so they can only help planets that they happen to pass in their flight, and only help them insofar as they can without stopping, because the agressors are moving at a nearly equal speed.

The teenagers are told that they must contact "all the others" and together form a defence (SHIELD! duh) against the agressors.

Somehow they get in touch with each other (probably through Eva, but maybe Vladimir) and they meet up. Then they somehow decide that they must meet another person, and they find Seldo, who's had the abilities that they've only just acquired for a long time.

This is a huge plot hole. How do they meet up? How do they find each other? Where do they meet? How do they find out about Seldo? How do they FIND Seldo?

And is it too egotistical to put your own alter-ego into a movie? :-)

Characters:

  • Vladimir - Smart (theory), disturbed - Intelligence specialist [+Seldo]
  • Eva - Unpopular, expressive - Diplomat, communications [+Trevor]
  • Daniel - Aggressive, brilliant tactician / organiser [+Heloise]
  • Heloise - Weak (physically), Smart (practically, mechanically) [+Daniel]
  • Trevor - Inexpressive, misunderstood, smart (mathematically) [+Eva]
  • SELDO - The original. Wiser but not older. Leader. [+Vladimir]
SCENE: Kitchen, brightly-lit and modern, clean. Outside sunny, weather tropical and breezy. SELDO turns on kettle, brings down cup, etc., fills kettle. Goes to window, is admiring view while waiting for kettle to boil. Interior of kitchen, a small black point appears at waist-height. It expands like a water-funnel around a plug-hole, forming a circular "hole" which narrows rapidly in a funnel-shape to a gate into another scene, the gate being about half the size of the hole. TREVOR's head pokes through, looking around. TREVOR: Seems safe! (He climbs over the funnel-edge and through the gate, pushing at the sides to widen the gate, which responds by expanding the entire hole.) Exterior shot, looking at SELDO's face through window-bars. His eyes widen at the sound of TREVOR's voice, then his face falls. He looks somewhat annoyed. He rolls his eyes, sighs, and turns around, walking slowly towards where the group is appearing. TREVOR is holding open the gate to admit EVA, who is looking with extreme interest at the nature of the edges. EVA (as she climbs through): These are solid. What are they made of? How are you *doing* this, Trevor? How did you know what to do? TREVOR: I was just trying something. I think this is a wormhole, but there's no black hole, no energy source, nothing. I don't know. (A bright point of light emerges through the floor, casting shadows. It expands rapidly into the shape of VLADIMIR, encased in a glowing sphere which becomes more transparent as it expands. Once correctly sized, VLADIMIR tenses and the sphere fades, briefly leaving a faint outline of sparks.) VLADIMIR: That was fun. I think I was travelling as a neutrino -- straight lines, through matter, light speed. TREVOR: Physically impossible. VLADIMIR: Nice talk, coming from somebody who got here through a wormhole with no visible means of support. (They both grin) TREVOR: What makes you think it's a wormhole? I think so too, but I'm just guessing. VLADIMIR: I heard you say so. I could hear what you guys were saying, like you were all right next to me. We've got to figure out how we're doing all this. (There is a slight wind that ruffles their clothes. Air is rushing in towards a point, where a mist is forming in the shape of HELOISE, first a misty shape which gradually thickens, grows opaque and more defined. The mist attains colour rapidly in the last few seconds of the formation.) (TREVOR's hole narrows rapidly, the funnel spinning shut, startling TREVOR, who was still trying to hold it open. His hands are shoved out of the closing hole.) TREVOR: Damn! Why'd that happen? HELOISE: Whoa, this is SUCH the way to travel. Trippy. It feels NICE. (She is French, but attending an American school elsewhere, so she has a French accent but American mannerisms). HELOISE: Where's Daniel? EVA: Not here. Did he find a way to come? HELOISE: I guess not. Hang on, I'll get him, this is SUCH fun! (She begins to fade into a mist, which blows away, but the process stops halfway this time. Her voice is oddly muffled as she speaks now) HELOISE: Cool! I'm both places at once! You have no IDEA how cool this looks. Daniel, grab my.... damn. Um, okay, hang on... (she fades completely. Then wind-formation restarts, this time forming two figures facing each other, holding hands) DANIEL: (now solid) I have GOT to learn to do that... HELOISE: Don't ask me. I just looked through Trevor's hole at this place, then... I dunno. I just sort of CAME here. But DAMN that feels good! I feel so CLEAN! DANIEL: This isn't fair. How come me and Eva can't travel by ourselves? VLADIMIR: We don't seem to be using the same methods. You two probably haven't figured yours out yet. If you can call wishing to do something "figuring it out". TREVOR: Hmm. I didn't wish so much. I've always thought this should be possible -- not without the energy-source, though. I thought about the processes to make it happen. VLADIMIR: Heloise and I were just wishing. Or thinking hard. (SELDO has reached them. The other four look at Seldo immediately, VLAD spins round to face him. His eyes run up and down SELDO's body, and their eyes meet for a few seconds. SELDO smiles at him momentarily.) SELDO (turns his gaze to the group as a whole, sounding resigned, and slightly bored): Damn. Hello, welcome to my house, I'm Seldo, and you are... [He closes his eyes, and appears to be reading] Vladimir, Trevor, Heloise, Eva and Daniel [his hand points to each of them as he calls their names. He opens his eyes.] Right? And you have all just got your abilities delivered. I'm sure you have lots of questions, but I've been expecting if not exactly looking forward to this day for quite some time, so let me take you though the prepared FAQ, okay? (The kettle clicks, causing the five to look round at it. SELDO glances at it, then, raises one arm and begins to make complicated gestures with his fingers. Sugar, cups, milk and hot water move around in time to these movements, making a cup of tea) For the record, not a whole lot has been done to you. No, Vladimir, you have not been evolved to the next level (Vladimir gasps at this echo of his thoughts). You've just been sort of amplified. You all had these abilities beforehand, they were just negligibly weak. Now they're fantastically strong, and it will be some time before you find any limits at all to what you can do. EVA: Why can't you call that evolution? SELDO (smiles at this response): Damn! 10 seconds into my monologue and you can still answer back! Look at the rest, they're still mainly in shock. In answer, there are a variety of reasons. One, it'd only be evolution if it were something the whole species gets. As you will have noticed, just like everybody has ordinary talents which differ, these new abilities of yours vary greatly from person to person. TREVOR (murmuring): ...thought so... SELDO: I know you were, Trev. Secondly, it can't be evolution because the aliens may be very advanced, but they aren't infallible. They cannot yet predict chaotic situations with any degree of accuracy, and since evolution is a random and chaotic process, and one which incidentally takes millions upon millions of years, there would be no hope in hell of them even knowing what we're going to end up like. Or even if we'll be here at all, given the amount of time we've got left to prepare. Plus, evolving us would involve rapid and extensive remodelling of our organisms, which would likely have killed our brains and would certainly have forced us to have to relearn everything from infancy upwards, starting with sitting up and working from there. Which would take too long. No, they just amplified whatever useful talents they found. And no, Vladimir, I don't know how -- at least, not in any kind of detail. (he pauses briefly) And yes, you're all right. I can detect vocal thoughts.HELOISE: Meaning you know what we're about to say?SELDO: Wow! I can't tell your accent until you open your mouth, though. Knowing what someone's about to say, that's hardly a talent, is it? Lots of people can do that already. DANIEL: True... SELDO: However, I can also detect things you're saying to yourself, or thinking about saying, or you've decided not to say. Once the thoughts are *words*, not pictures or concepts, I can see them. And so can Vladimir, or at least so WILL Vladimir, I doubt he's very good at it yet. VLADIMIR: Oh! I could hear what they were saying even after they'd travelled here. SELDO: Impressive! But your ears were not involved, honey. You were reading their minds, because you wanted to. EVA: I'm not sure I like that... SELDO: Why not? We can only detect words 'cause words are very simple thought-forms. We don't actually have all that much talent, although Vlad has more than me. You, Eva, can read much deeper. It's not really telepathy, because it's not what they want you to hear or see. You can detect... emotions, concepts, that kind of thing. The closest thing I can get to describing it is empathy. Or rather, the closest YOU can get, since I'm just saying what I'm hearing you think. EVA: Stop that! It's very annoying. SELDO: I can't help it, it's somewhat automatic. When were you planning on mentioning this ability to the rest? EVA (waits, then sees SELDO squirm a bit, then smiles): Thank you for letting ME speak. I didn't realise I was doing it. Because it's amplified, I didn't notice anything new, just what I've always been able to do is much stronger now. DANIEL: So what else can we do? SELDO: I only know what you know, Dan... if you haven't figured it out yet, then I can't hear you thinking about it. Eva might be able to figure it out by looking at your subconscious... (he waits again) EVA: Thank you. But, as I was about to say, I don't want to try. It's a bit... icky. You feel like you're invading, and you get everything at once, so its kind of hard to make out single facts, only an overall mood. I'll get better I suppose. SELDO: Until then, you'll basically find out what you can do as you do it. HELOISE (rises off the ground): Ooh, look, I can move stuff around. (The tea-things rise and begin to move around.) HELOISE: Damn! I'm no good at this! (DANIEL moves quickly over to the counter where the tea things are bobbing. He then sits down on the floor in front of the counter, cross-legged, and holds out both hands at a particular height and angle. HELOISE drops to the floor, as do the tea things. A cup bounces off the kettle and rolls over the edge of the counter, exactly into DANIEL's hands.) DANIEL (stands up, places the cup on the counter, wipes his hands on his pants): I think I can predict those chaotic situations of yours, but only a few seconds in advance. Are we about to go upstairs? HELOISE (she likes this idea): *Trippy!* (This appears to be one of HELOISE'S favourite expressions) SELDO: That's right. Follow me. (SELDO holds out his left hand, hand clenched as if he were holding a staff vertically

[...this ends here. I will finish it, sometime...]

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Why I hated my school

posted 16 April 2002

I briefly debated whether or not to name-and-shame my former school on this page. Not, you understand, because I had any qualms about laying into the hellhole that was my school, but because it would provide a possible link to me in the real world that I don't control: all the other links to me provided by the site and the Internet in general are under my own control -- basically, they're all e-mail addresses. But nobody currently at my old school now would know who the hell Seldo was, even if you were such a stalker as to try and get in touch with the school to find out who I am. And if you somehow were clever enough to find it out from there, well, I enjoy talking to clever people :-)

I am a former student of St. Mary's College, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. And I don't hesitate to say that I hated that school, and all the time I spent there. There are a bunch of reasons why.

Facilities

The first and most obvious that occurs to me is the facilities available. This is not really the school's fault -- the church and the goverment jointly (under)fund the school, so if better facilities are required it's up to them to provide more money. But the facilities are terrible. The school building is mainly an adapted colonial building, originally built as a boarding school and converted first for the introduction of electricity (the main building is 125 years old) and then later to cram extra students into the space. So the building is old and in some places visibly crumbling, and the conversion of former dormitories into classrooms leads to some classes being quite nice, light, breezy rooms while others are hot, cramped and dark. Air conditioning is non-existent in all but a few offices (belonging to faculty, of course), even in the height of the rainy season, when the country is hottest. Also, newer buildings have been grafted onto older buildings with not a great deal of thought or redesign, so there are numerous cramped pinchpoints where overcrowding always occurs during classroom switches.

The pain doesn't end there, though. The toilets are gruesome; men's toilets are typically not nice places to visit (for reasons I've never understood), and the absence of any toiletries, maintenance or any but the most cursory cleaning does not improve this situation. Food is available from cafeterias, but these are four tiny holes in the wall with no seating and seldom any organization in terms of how to be served. Given a school population now over 1200 students -- thats 300 students per cafeteria, with lunchtime being the same forty-five minute period all of them -- this turns lunchtime into a mob fight to obtain food. Desks and chairs are rudimentary and frequently in short supply even so. Laboratory equipment is on the whole ancient and insufficient for the needs of the student body; this is especially the case for computer science, where a total of 25-odd computers exist to teach computer literacy to the entire school, and due to faculty incompetence these are locked away from student use most of the time.

Most people would consider a school in such a terrible physical state to be a hellhole, all by itself. And this is probably true. But at St. Mary's College, this is merely the base point at which things begin to get really annoying.

Religious bias

St. Mary's College is also called CIC: this stands for College of the Immaculate Conception, a reference to the alleged "virgin birth" of Jesus Christ to Mary Christ (well, what was her last name then? If Jesus' last name is Christ, and God as far as I know doesn't have a last name, he has to have got it from his parents, who therefore must be Joseph and Mary Christ).

The name of the college should indicate that CIC has a clear religious bias: it is partly funded by the Catholic church, and as such is granted permission by the government to indoctrinate its pupils with whatever nonsensical dogma is favoured by the people who foot the bill -- if the Church of Scientology finds out about this policy, we should probably be even more scared. At CIC, Catholic education comes in the form of dedicated religious classes, daily prayers throughout the school day, and occasional "holy days" on which normal classes are suspended for the purposes of religious observances. I'm an athiest -- and I'll admit, a fairly militant one -- but I'm not going to go out and try to convince people that their religion is wrong about nearly everything, even if that's clearly the case. I wish the Trinidadian goverment would get the hang of the separation of church and state to the point where they could return the favour.

Schooling at CIC for a non-Catholic (far less an athiest) is a constant barrage of subtly demeaning references. You must keep silent while the Catholics say their prayers, you must attend school but do nothing on the holy days, wasting precious school time on religious observances which do not apply to you, and you are in general treated like a second-class citizen. This point is driven home during the third (and under certain circumstances, second) year at CIC, during which non-Catholic students are assigned to a subject held during the same period as religious education classes, euphemistically termed "Horticulture". Horticulture class is in fact a thinly-disguised excuse to use the student body -- specifically, the non-Catholic student body -- as unpaid manual labour to maintain the grounds of the college. This sounds farcical, but I guarantee that I'm not making this up. I'm not sure what academic skills are being honed by mowing the college lawn or trimming the hedges, but at the very least I'm sure it's not a skill lacked in particular by students who are not Catholic.

It is, in retrospect, unbearably unfair. One could argue -- in the particularly unfair case of horticulture -- that using students as a labour force is saving the college money which are benefiting all the students. But this can only really apply if all the students were being asked to perform these tasks. Getting non-Catholic students to do it is a disgrace to the school, the church, and the government which allows such a system to exist.

Mental atmosphere

These sterling qualities are still not the end of the story, however. A badly-maintained and bigoted school might perhaps be forgiven if it were a friendly, welcoming school that heartily fosters education. Unfortunately, this isn't the case.

The prevailing mental attitude throughout the school -- with a few rare, but significant exceptions -- is one of constant and open hostility on all sides.

The students hate: the staff, the administration, and most of the other students. The staff hate: the students, most of each other, and especially the the administration. The administration hates: the students, the staff, and the maintenance personnel. The maintenance personnel in turn regard everyone with equal contempt.

Staff and students alike form small cliques which survive in an insular fashion, and if you are unlucky enough not to fall into any clique -- or if enough of the other cliques band together against your clique -- life can be very miserable. Constant infighting between staff for influence destroys productivity, and incessant bureaucracy drives it still further down. Lack of co-operation between staff and students further degrades the quality of education, and the final nail in the coffin is frequently open hostility between students.

On top of this, there are all the problems one typically gets with an all-male student body: the desire to appear strongly masculine and maintain credibility means truancy is encouraged and diligence and curiosity retarded. Destructive and negative attitudes towards almost any show of enthusiasm means creativity is almost non-existent, both in recreation and academia.

Quality of teaching

Faced with all these problems, one still might be able to salvage the reputation of a school if one were able to assert that, for a sufficiently determined student, a high-quality education was there to be had. Unfortunately, this is just not the case. Teachers are underpaid and overworked, and as such the only individuals who become teachers are those to whom the money is unimportant and whom love the work -- dedicated academics, who are valuable as diamonds and about as rare in the educational system -- or those to whom no other career choices are available: in short, losers.

I say without hesitation that losers make up 95% of the teaching staff at CIC. These people are losers for a variety of reasons, but they all have in common the fact that the only reason they are teachers is that they cannot do.

  • Some are merely incompetent. They have some knowledge of the subject they teach, but little actual teaching ability. They are of little to no assistance in learning.
  • Some are past their prime. Perhaps once dedicated and even talented teachers, the government's regulations for collecting a full pension require that they work for a full third of a century -- precisely thiry-three and one third years. They long ago lost any will to teach and are merely going through the motions. Again, they are of little assistance in learning.
  • Some are quite frankly insane. They teach simply because any other sensible working institution would have them fired without delay. They are not merely bad teachers, but are in some cases a clear hindrance to effective learning and occasionally even abusive. They are a minority, but are by no means exceptional within CIC.

This is clearly a picture of a school diseased and in desperate need of attention; yet sadly CIC is still one of the finer schools in the nation. I dread to think what the rest must be like.

How to improve

Sadly, there are no real quick-fixes to the bulk of these problems short of complete overhaul of the school and, preferably, the entire educational system. But a quick wish-list is possible, the measures varying in extremity:

  • Increase funding. Provide adequate maintenance for existing facilities, and better pay for staff at all levels.
  • Improve facilities. Ideally, bulldoze the entire compound and start again: a complete reconstruction once every 125 years is not unthinkable. Better still, re-site the school somewhere outside of the noise, traffic and distraction of the centre of Port of Spain, where there is more room for bigger buildings and more students. Sale of the highly valuable property upon which the school now stands makes this even feasible.
  • Fire the losers. Increasing their pay is not going to be enough to help some of the staff. These people are not fit to be teachers; find people who are.
  • Lose the God talk. With enough funding, this is possible, and is already clearly desirable. Church and state should be separate, and as the US has learned it is vital to maintain this separation in schools as well. As a vastly more cosmopolitan society than the US, this is even more important in Trinidad. Religion should be taught in churches, not in school. A subject such as "comparative religion" for instance might take the place of such a subject on the timetable.
  • Change the attitude. Hopefully, the other changes will produce such an effect automatically. But if not, steps must be taken to improve relationships between all members of the school community; conflict creates stress, and stress destroys productivity. Industry learned this lesson decades ago, and it is time that the educational system caught up.

And that is why I hated my school. Along the course of writing it, the above changed from merely a description to an open letter to the people of Trinidad, hoping to bring about some positive change. But I like it anyway, and maybe it will at least make those responsible for the six most miserable years of my life feel a little bit guilty.

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