October 3, 2008



September 16, 2008

Discrimination of Entertainment:The Elitism of the Literary Community

It's common knowledge to the average person that the literary community is one of elegant superiority and devotion to the works which they analyze so excessively. But what value does literature really hold in today's society? We hear several viewpoints on the importance of literature and the dangers of other facets of entertainment, but unknowingly we accept the assumptions and claims put forth by those that study and teach literature. What causes this phenomenon to occur so subtly but so completely? Perhaps many forget that those who study rhetoric are the best at it, able to persuade the population based on their beliefs rather then on solid facts.
One of the most dangerous and fictitious assumptions proponents of literature have led us to believe is the common stereotype that books are knowledge, TV kills brain cells, and video games turn children into demonic little monsters. Whether or not everyone agrees, everyone makes assumptions based on these principles. But what exactly is literature, and why would anyone believe it to be superior to other facets of entertainment and/or education? Literature is stereotyped as educational, deep, and intellectual, while TV programs are stereotyped as violent and superficial. But do these stereotypes represent reality? Channels such as National Geographic and The Discovery Channel teach and entertain simultaniously, while many highly regarded works of literature contain graphic sexual scenes with debatable importance to the plot or message of the book. These scenes are often masked as having literarly value in the same fashion pornography is masked as "artistic expression". Let's be honest here.. entertainment is a dominating force in our society, and learning is a very difficult process unless accompanyed by some degree of entertainment. The key difference between knowledge from books and knowledge from TV or other facets of entertainment is that books tend to teach vague concepts and ideas, while TV often teaches more practical knowledge. Its suprising that the practical knowledge gained from a TV program is often looked down upon as unnessecary, when we all so firmly claim that actions speak louder then words (Or practice accomplishes more then ideas, in this case).
But I wouldn't want to rely on only educational TV channels to prove my point, so lets explore the opposite end of the spectrum. The epitome of vulgarity and violence on television..South Park for example. Though I very rarely find myself watching the show, it would be ignorant to claim the educational value of the show is any less then that of a book like To Kill a Mockingbird, the most famous example of a coming-of-age novel in the literary community. In To Kill A Mockingbird, readers learn about what it is like to grow up, from the perspective of Harper Lee. We often forget that Harper Lee wrote the book as an adult, that we all know what growing up is like, and that no knowledge is gained from speculating about what some fictional character's past is like. An English teacher would be infuriated by this analysis, arguing that Harper Lee is a brilliant writer who wrote a fascinating and deep story about growing up in the 30s, and anyone who doesn't read it is missing out. I fail to see how this is anything but entertainment, read for pleasure rather then knowledge and enlightenment. Even if Lee was trying to educate readers on life in the 30s, it'd be foolish to base your knowledge of a decade on the fictional story of a single writer. South Park, on the other hand, is interlaced with social commentary and current events. I won't go as far as to say that watching the show will enrich your daily life, but it is most certainly an alternate way to keep up to date with cultural events, and see controversial issues in a different light then the watered down nonoffensive way we're used to seeing them. Just as Harper Lee aims to entertain with a story about an era, the writers of South Park entertain with comedy about current events. As far as I can tell, literature and television are pretty equal in educational value, despite what elite book club members and literature professors would claim.
To touch on one final point before my conclusion, lets look at the controversial issue of video games. Many seek to blame them for violence in children, saying kids need to just read books like the "old days". If video games have such a negative effect, wouldn't we have seen a rise in violence around the time of their invention? Wouldn't it be scientifically proven based on the majority, rather then a few nutcases who claim they killed a man after playing too much Grand Theft Auto? In making these accusations, people fail to even consider positive effects of video games. The most common benefit is increased reflexes, proven by the fact that most popular video games have been implemented into rehabilitation. A gamer could also explain social and leadership skills gained through emerging gaming communities, clans, and the virtual world known as Second Life. Many gamers admire the music and art of a game in a similar way one would admire a famous painting or a beautiful sonnet. Game designers come from a multitude of disciplines and bring numerous talents into the project, is it fair to discredit them just because their product is interactive?
Perhaps literature is a great source of knowledge and entertainment, but lets not narrow our minds and throw out all of the other great things in society today. Discrediting forms of entertainment other then literature because of reasons the literature elitists give us is hardly fair, and doing so excludes thousands upon thousands of beautiful, brilliant, and admirable works of art. I think the fabled time where teens read books in their spare time will come as soon as English professors sit down for a game of Halo.

September 2, 2008


Well, I made it. University of Maryland, James A. Clark School of Engineering, its the first day of school, and they weren't kidding when they said you could get internet anywhere here. Well, in a perfect world the fancy laptop, constant internet, and occasional downtime will inspire me to start writing in here more then once a month. We'll see how that goes though.

This place is..honestly, exactly how I expected it to be. Its kind of nice knowing that around 10,000 kids are wandering around as lost as you are. I'm hanging around here after school, trying to get oriented a little bit and maybe hang out with some on campus kids. That will be neat.

My engineering class was cool, I think that's gonna be fun. Lego Mindstorms powering a hovercraft..right up my alley. We got out early, so Ive still got 45 minutes till English. Its a rhetoric class! In the engineering lab building! How ironic!!

..that was horrible.

Anyways, I'll be glad to know while I'm learning about such things as irony, they'll be splitting atoms and firing radioactive rays at us across the hall. Sweet.

I think being here is still sinking in a bit. Once I get used to things, I think I may really like it.. I'm a college student. That's bizarre.

Anyways, I'm gonna go browse the interwebs for a bit till my next class starts, Hopefully you'll hear from me a bit more.

August 4, 2008

E3 Closure

So I was going to do the other two parts of E3, but..well..nothing really happened. Animal Crossing. That's it.

Be sure to tune in to the Sony briefing to hear the audience literally laugh when they announce proudly their horrid sales statistics.

Thats all.

July 14, 2008

E3 Part 1- Microsoft

Yes, Im doing a commentary on the major spotlights of E3. Yes, everything I say is true.

Fallout 3-
Looks pretty cool. Like the storyline and humor. But..uh..wait. You can pause the action, decide where you want the enemy to get hit, and watch the cutscene of the guy getting shot..? Wheres the skill?! I don't understand..

Resident Evil 5-
This game is looking great. Love the graphics, and online 2 player Coop? Amazing addition if you ask me. We got a release date too, March 13th 2009. Its a friday. Very clever guys, release the evil zombie game on friday the 13th.

Fable 2-
Another great game if you ask me. Beautiful graphics, an intriguing teaser. And semi MMO qualities. Your friends appear as orbs, and you can invite them into your world? I like. 10 points for Fable 2.

Gears of War 2-
What everyone expected I guess. Most of what was seen they've already slipped on, so nothing super great. Release date of November 17th this year. I'm not too thrilled, but I suppose I can see why some are.

Microsoft NPD data- Look! Xbox 360 is winning by a lil bit in sales! Of course..this is North American sales..and the other two companies are Japanese companies..but we arent gonna include their data. That would make it obvious how bad we're actually doing compared to the Wii.

Xbox Menu Update-
Fail. Mega fail. Lets screw over our excellent overlay interface by changing it to a horrible attempt at impersonating the Wii! While we're at it, lets jack Miis and..well..try to be more like Nintendo. Wii=games for everyone. Xbox=games for gamers who like fps shooty gore. GET IT RIGHT! Sorry Xbox 360 owners, your convenient easy to use menus are gonna get discarded for a clunky annoying interface this fall. Sorry!

Xbox Arcade Games- Im sorry guys, but you're putting WAY too much emphasis on 10 dollar rehashes of arcade games. Im sure they're cool and all, but we aren't as excited as you are about this stuff. With the exception of..

Portal: Still Alive-
New portal levels for Xbox owners?? Nothing is not great about this.. Of course, they kinda made it seem as if its a Xbox exclusive but I have my doubts thats gonna happen. Last I checked, Valve loves PC owners. MASSIVE Team Fortress 2 updates were given only to the PC crowd, so I think we'll all get our hands on these new portal levels somehow.

Alright, its kinda cool how you can rent movies off your xbox. But wait.. can't we do that on tv already with on demand? Wait.. is this really that much better then actual Netflix? Maybe..but probably not. And you and your friends can watch a movie you rent from your own homes on your own xboxes with the "brilliant" new party interface..Wow you guys are losers. Like, seriously! Can you really not afford the gas money to convene at one persons house and actually reassure yourself you have friends? No further comment.

Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts-
Looks beautiful, like genuinely fun gameplay and such. Not sure about the focus on vehicle building, doesnt really have a place in the BK universe but I suppose thats ok. One problem. Does the Xbox 360 really have an audience for this kinda game? Like..honestly. I know Microsoft wanted to get Rare away from Nintendo but..Microsoft attracts the wrong kind of audience for this sort of game. Not sure how well its honestly gonna do. Semi-fail.

Viva Pinata 2-
Like the first, but with a 2 in the title.

You're in the Movies-
Looks incredibly lame. Maybe about as much fun as..I don't know, tic tac toe? Noones gonna buy this..

Guitar Hero: World Tour-
Oh great, another guitar hero. Its like the rest but..oh wait, we ripped off the Rock Band drum set. Wow guys...wow. Thats old news by the way, so what are you doing at E3 again? Telling us how this game lets you make and share music "for the first time". Even though Jam with the Band did it in Japan already..and hundreds of online applications already have done it..epic fail. Learn your facts before you speak, good sir. Oh, wait, I almost forgot. More overpriced downloadable songs. Woohoo! I love paying out the butt for songs! Apparently saying you can download Metallica makes it all better.. I don't see the appeal personally.

Like Karaoke Revolution for the PS2, but..wait..no, its like Karaoke Revolution. Its cool that you can plug your Zune in (Yep, pretty sure you need a Zune) and sing along to your own music, but not sure you really need a game to do that. You know, this would be better if combined with Guitar Hero World Tour! Wait..then it would be Rock Band. Seeing a trend here? Also, please get Duffy off the screen. She's disgusting me, and I don't really care if she can sing her own song on Lips.. Its obvious that this is less of a game demo and more of a fan service.

Rock Band 2-
There we go! Finally something we care about! And it comes out in September on the 360, looks like the other systems are getting released later. Wonder how much Microsoft had to pay for that. A bit too early in my opinion, they could have waited a year or so. 84 songs, all original recordings..Its like Guitar Hero but you don't have to pay for half of them! Don't you love when games make sense? A few great songs included, never before seen in a music game. You know..why does guitar hero still exist? Its kinda failing in comparison. Heck, RB2 got Metallica too..so why is GHWT bragging about it..? You have to pay extra to download Metallica for GH too O.o. In RB2 you can import ALL the downloaded and included songs from Rock Band 1, meaning no disc swapping and a reason to buy the sequal. Wow..they're really being smart about this. Over 500 total songs available by the end of this year? Bravo Rockband, bravo.

Square Enix-
I can't understand a word this man is saying. I know he's the president of SE and all, but they couldn't get a translator like they did with the RE5 guy? Looks like 3 SE games are being announced. None of them are particularly exciting, as they don't have "Final Fantasy" OR "Kingdom Hearts" in the titles. We got Star Ocean, The Last Remnant, and..er..something else. The teaser for The Last Remnant looked pretty cool, but kinda like every other rpg ever made. Nothing too incredible. Its coming out on the PC though, which is odd for SE. We'd better see some Kingdom hearts from you guys tomorrow, with the Nintendo and Sony briefings. Oh wait, one more suprise trailer! Except Microsoft made all the media people film it from a super zoomed out view of the whole theater so I can't tell for the life of me whats really going on. But its Final Fantasy XIII, so I guess that makes it ok. Yes, thats right, FFXIII has been announced, and its gonna come out on the 360 too this time. I guess the PS3 really is sucking if they lost exclusivity on yet another title.

Final notes: Somewhat impressive, a few cool tidbits. But their main speaker...well, he SUCKED. Most scripted thing I've ever heard.. wow. RE5 wins, Fable 2 wins, Portal wins, Rock Band 2 wins. Netflix Fails, Gutar Hero: World Tour fails, Lips fails, and..well...the new Xbox menu is horrible. Mega fail.

July 9, 2008

The Frustration of Rejection

Before I even start, I'm going to throw out there that I'm subconsciously afraid of rejection. I like to be liked, and I like to be accepted. I know I don't change myself to be liked or any of that, but rejection is probably the most painful feeling for me.

I got a letter tonight. From the Maryland State Senate..I applied for a scholarship there. The first paragraph was about how great my academic achievements were. It was congratulating me..It used that word. Congratulations. I smiled a little bit. Read down to paragraph two. There I read the words..unfortunately we are unable to offer you money. Of course.. thank you VERY freaking much. Why do they patronize me? Why do they do this. Its ALWAYS like this. We're going to tell you how smart you are, then tell you that you arent good enough, then give you some statistics to make you feel even more like crap. 550 students applied, only 20% got it. What do you mean ONLY 20%?! Top 5% of my class, top 2% PSAT scores in the ENTIRE nation, and top 15% SAT score in the ENTIRE nation..but Im not top 20% for this freakin scholarship. Why couldnt they just be straightforward. You failed, good try, sorry. Don't patronize me, don't act like Im some idiot you need to make feel better by softening the rejection.

3 scholarships. 3 freakin scholarships have rejected me now. I take 9 AP classes in high school, my high school average gpa is ABOVE 4.0, I have been as straight edge as it gets my entire freaking life and spent hours and hours of community service at my church, and what do I get for it? "You're smart! Congratulations! But sorry, you don't get any money. Just this standardized rejection letter we threw your name on and printed out." I didn't even get any scholarship money from UMD..Heck, I didnt even get into their honors program.

Its frustrating, Isn't it? I spend 13 years putting forth my best freaking effort, trying as HARD as I could to get some scholarship money, to get something tangible, some physical reward for my efforts beyond a stupid paper certificate congratulating my now worthless accomplishments.

People tell me I'm capable, I'll do well in life, I'll get places, I'll be able to realize my dreams. Yeah right, they also told me I had a shot at a full ride..

June 24, 2008


I'm sorry for the lack of updates for almost 3 months now. Laptop broke to the point where its barely usable, and I've just never found myself writing in the basement. I have a few things planned to write about and new laptop arrives in the beginning of July. I'll post something soon.

April 9, 2008

Humility vs. Arrogance: A Bit of Self Evaluation

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

-James 3:13-18

Before I explain the importance of this passage in my discussion, I should explain some background information on the subject. First of all, whether or not you believe in God and the truth of the Bible, I doubt anyone disagrees with this passage. It's pretty blunt, but contains a very powerful truth that I honestly think I needed to hear. The passage speaks of wisdom and humility, explaining what exactly it takes to be wise.

Now for a bit about me. Wisdom is my aspiration. There is honestly little more I seek in life then to be wise, to know things, and to be able to help and give advice to others. When people ask me questions, I absolutely love answering them. And when I don't know, I learn so I can answer them. Its hard to explain, but wisdom is just the source of satisfaction in my life. I want to know everything, I want to experience everything, and I want absolutely everyone to like me. Of course, I understand how impossible is that, but its still a dream of mine.

Just to clarify, I'm not an arrogant person at heart. Whether or not I come off that way I can't say, but I'm just not one to think myself better of others. Its usually pretty opposite, I think myself worse of others. I'm not sure exactly what it is..I suppose I have a competitive spirit but hate competition. I'd rather combine talents then try to use mine to beat out someone else's, because to an extent I fear failure. Everything I do well, I know someone who does it better. And I've always wanted to be the very best at one thing, not so I can brag and flaunt my talent but so I can feel confident in an area and strive to do something productive with that talent. Unfortunately, I can't say thats true, and it may never be true. I'll always know better wakeboarders, better writers, better computer engineers, wiser people.. its just the way life works. I can get over the rest but never being the wisest..thats a tough fate. I write to comfort, to inform, to spark thought, to force people to cast aside short-sighted thoughts and don the mind of a philosopher for even just a few seconds. I'm like an artist, but instead of finding beauty in pictures I paint or music I compose, I find beauty in people's minds I open. When people begin thinking outside of the box and coming up with their own thoughts and ideas independent of anyone else's, I become ecstatic.
Seems like a noble goal, right? I thought so..but this passage made me think about it a bit deeper. Wisdom without humility is nothing..how do I accomplish that? I mean, I try not to come off as arrogant.. I rarely judge people and never think myself better then someone. But can I say my aspiration of wisdom is completely humble? Maybe not.. Its honestly very hard to tell. I write more for others then for myself, is that arrogant? Trying to impress what I know upon others, to feel like I know something, to feel wise. Is that wrong of me? I would love honest answers or opinions to that question.
I mean, lets face the facts? Am I wise? I'd like to think I can give good advice, I'd like to think I can open people's minds a bit. But when it comes down to it, I know nothing. Everything I say or think is based on what I've seen or heard or experienced..I can never see everything. I can never experience everything. My knowledge alone will NEVER be enough, it will never carry itself. Its useless without others, thats the truth of this whole mess. I'm just a dot on a timeline, a single story over the span of 70 or so years that started at a seemingly random time and will end, and I will leave this world once again knowing nothing. Despite the hopelessness, I don't think true wisdom is impossible, its just..tricky. I think part of being truly wise is accepting that you really are nothing, and thats not something I can just decide to do. Its a life long goal, I suppose.
On that note, I'd like to ask for your help. Yes, anyone and everyone who reads this, you can help me. I don't care if I've never met you in my life. I need criticism. I need bluntness, I need people to tell me exactly what they don't like about me, exactly what I've done wrong, exactly what I don't seem to know..anything. Its hard to find people who will be that blunt, but I'm promising right now I will never think negatively of you or think you don't like me (Unless, of course, you actually don't like me.) I want a chance to say sorry for things I've done wrong to people, and I want a chance to fix the things holding me back. This isn't my way of getting ahead of the pack or being better then others, this is my way of exposing myself and making myself vulnerable. I will not defend or justify myself, I want true and sincere honesty. I think I'm finally realizing that being wise isn't about learning and knowing what you are, its about knowing and accepting what you aren't and seeing that potential in others. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to be wise without picking up a trace of arrogance, but what is life without a nigh unreachable goal to strive for? Wish me luck.

March 22, 2008

The Beauty of Dissonance

It may seem like a couple words thrown together to sound cool, but my blogs title is in fact the very focus of my writings: the beauty of dissonance. So as promised, I shall explain it. Starting, of course, from the beginning.

Dissonance. The term is used mostly in reference to music, poetry, or psychology. In it's most basic form, dissonance is when things don't go together perfectly. In music, using certain notes in a certain key is dissonant, easily distinguished by the fact that it just doesn't sound right. Many haunted house themes and other forms of music representing fear and horror use dissonant chords, as does hardcore music. You know what it is, when the double bass is pushing on as the guitars forcefully put down a seemingly improvised melody, until that one note blares that kind of makes you twitch a bit, and the song transitions to the bridge. In poetry its practically the same, words that just don't sound right to pretty much anyone when put together. In psychology its a mental disorder known as cognitive dissonance, where the truths of the world and the truths in your mind just don't match up right. In all three cases dissonance is bad. Dissonance is the essence of ugliness. Dissonance is wrong.

But why? Why is dissonance frowned upon so quickly? Why is assonance good and dissonance bad and thats all there is to it? Well I've noticed that this subject has been the theme of my writing over the past few years. In one form or another, I always seem to be quick to defend the looked down upon side, to see the beauty behind disorder. We live in an entropic universe, eternally driven towards chaos until order does not exist anymore. Why are so many people attracted to the fleeting sanctity of perfection? You can't live your life like that, you cant only find happiness when things move the opposite direction of nature itself. One of the most important discoveries I've made in my thoughts is that dissonance is the most beautiful thing in existence, both literally and figuratively.

A very easy to understand social-cultural example of this is races. Assonance was the dream of Hitler and the Aryan race. Dissonance is the beautiful reality of this planet. The skin tones, the heritage, the cultures, and the interactions all make us who we are and force us not only to accept difference, but see ourselves in a new light as well. Another simple example is art. A picture of columns in a row forming a symmetrical house is boring. Ask an artist, symmetry is overrated. But take rooms, windows, staircases, and twist and turn them in different directions and dimensions until looking at the picture blows the mind. That, my friends is beauty. That's the Beauty of Dissonance. I could share a million more examples on this never ending topic, from quantum physics to mathematics to every day life. But considering the short attention span we are all burdened with, I will save that for another day.

And seeing as every time I write something I see those four words in the corner, I will no doubt return to the subject a few times.

March 21, 2008

New Beginnings

Fed up with the "friend requests" and other odds and ends of every other social networking website, I finally put my 3ish year old blog to rest to start a real one, a site that is for writing and nothing else. That is what this website is. This represents several things. A fresh start to write only what I want to write and not the day to day summaries that we all did in middle school, a promise to myself to write regularly enough to make this worth it, and one place I can send people who care about what I write rather then copy and paste it to a bunch of websites in hopes of getting people to read it. This is also a promise to myself to keep writing, to keep getting my thoughts out whether or not people respond or even read it. And of course, its finally a way for people to comment without an account on any sort of website. So here it is, be sure to add it to your bookmarks if you wish. My hope is that I will be able to post here once a week, or at least no less then once a month. And I am completely open to feedback, discussion, ideas on what to write about , ect.

I will post again soon explaining the title of this page.