Simply Be Beautiful


In the sweetness of hope does the new person hold my gaze. She’s pleasant to the eye, but that’s incidental to the fact that, like few others, her mind is sharp enough to elicit my attention.

Brown eyes, more tantalizing than any perfume, and a lavender heart more potent than a field of mauve; the gold spark of genius is a thing to behold, and a rare pairing with a heart that pumps red sanguine. Like any true marvel, this creature is an ethereal beauty that blossoms from beyond the veil and only shows a few budded petals in this azure reality.

With the gusts of wind, it loses them to the fickle fancies of diverse interest. In every corner of the world, there is a garden that yearns for the grace of such a rare phenom, but with all things so prized, each plot is left wanting for its deus ex phronēsis to save its gardener from his doleful and ongoing affair with mediocrity.

A prodigious flower is the coveted plaything of many greedy masters, pollinating the world with her acumen, while sitting in an empty plot.

One wishing to engage such a person will sometimes find that the closer one gets, the more blighted the soil becomes; because a being of such wit may have, at some point, concluded that the only way to keep from being overwhelmed by weedsome intruders is to make the entire plot barren, but for barely enough room at the center.

But that’s OK. When one is ready for more, one becomes available to accept more. For now, maybe it’s enough to simply be beautiful.

Sept. 14th, 2014

The Dreaded Blue Screen of Death


This is a poem I wrote in 2002 for my college creative writing class.  The professor hated it.  Most other people love it, or at least don’t hate it.  I’m pretty sure that’s a metaphor for college education, in general.

The Dreaded Blue Screen of Death

The archaic din of white text superimposed upon a black screen is no more.
The blinking curser and the cryptic jibe,
“Syntax error,”
have receded from the much-coveted position of
“operating system”
into the subcutaneous untreaden cave of
“MS-DOS Mode.”

Upon the release of Microsoft’s 1995 crowning innovation,
the new “Windows” operating system,
fully equipped with tranquil desktop themes
and a myriad of cheery, sound-coordinated pop-up menus,
people around the world rejoiced.

No more will the unconscionable
Config.sys errors
of yesteryear interfere with the high-profile,
high-fidelity
file management systems of modern times.

The gratingly irritating beeps
and infinite lists of “Bad commands” or “Filenames;”
the stubbornly unbootable hard-drive has given way;
techies around the world groaned
for they knew that the days of horribly stubborn operating systems had ended,
and their jobs as the unapproachable gurus of the Great OS
would soon cease to exist.

But there was hope.

For the dreaded Blue Screen of Death has been replaced
by the Gray Window of Frustration.

Woe be
to the unsuspecting user who
dares check
the internal workings of his system—
who dares click on

Control Panel > System > Performance

the windows popping up—
cascading”—
presenting him with that
forty-two billion dollar grin of approval,

and the user,
piles of driver disks and small papers on the desk in front of him,
stares,
with half-closed eyes
at the messages:

Compatibility-mode paging reduces overall system performance.
Drive C is using MS-DOS compatibility mode file system.

Noooo!
say his unflinching, half-closed eyes.
Briefly,
he reminisces about the
real operating systems of old.
He thinks,
why did they have to make this thing so dang user friendly?

The “Default”
green desktop stares back at him,
unaware of its error.
He stares for a moment longer
at those two
insolent messages,
and at the five-cent euphemisms–
the kind that make this operating system
the most widely used operating system in the world–
and explain why his computer is running so
DANG SLOW!

The stuttering CPU fan blows hot air
out of its overworked medium tower.
Glaring light from the ceiling fan reflects
in the dark window behind the computer.
He stares, dazed, tired
at the clock on the Taskbar.

I should have hired a techie,”
he murmurs as he futily replaces the yellow driver disk
with yet another version of the software.
He restarts the hardware installation program.

Windows will now search for any new Plug and Play devices on your system.
Your screen may go blank during this process. This is normal.

One pulsating vein highlights his greasy forehead
as he clicks the Next button.

Please wait while Windows searches for new Plug and Play devices.

For a few fleeting moments the hard drive activity indicator flickers its compliance.
Mother board resources, mother board resources,” he chants,
in vain hopes of coercing the stupid machine into subjecting itself to his will.

For the next five minutes there is no activity.
His limp fingers grope around on the keyboard for those three familiar buttons:
CTRL+ALT+DELETE
.

The End Task window doesn’t appear.

He sighs as he presses them again.
Then chuckles, reminiscing,

as he longingly smiles at the familiar blue screen in front of him.

Slam Poem: A Lesson in History


February 17th, 2015

Today, I received an email from a friend urging me to repeat history by petitioning for non-involvement in Ukraine. This is my response.

France stole the iron out of Germany while is men stood with their swords nailed to the ground.
Germany’s lenders and industrialists made pacts with the invaders, and grew rich from the spoils of their people.
A man was raised up, out of the perils of a beer hall, who promised that the invaders could be quashed.
“A new empire, a Third Reich”, he proclaimed, as his battered, starving people stretched forth their hands, to receive bread.
And he gave it to them.

Bread from the depths of the earth, from iron mines and oil wells; a war machine that would dance like black lightning across a sea of broken bodies.
This bread could be made and exported without limit, because more life-giving sustenance could be found upon the corpse of every Frenchman who convulsed under its piercing influence.
The traitors—those foul lenders and industrialists—were quickly made to bend the knee, and then bend their backs under the strain of the baker’s flour.

Poland ate the bread of steel while the world watched from their places of non-involvement.
The seed of the money-lenders became the new laborers in the baker’s furnace.

Those who once put their boots upon the necks of their countrymen, for a mere dottle of favor from their conquerors soon found themselves penniless, their eyes dark and their fingers jointed with knots.
To those who feared the foreign oppressors, this was justice; and to those who suffered at their hands, it was fate, because this, too, had happened before.
But whose fault was it, when the sky turned white with human ash, and the air grew hot with putrescine?

It was the fault of those who could not stand the thought of another Great War; their cowardice brought a second one into being.

In 1919, the Allied Powers said that oppressing Germany was the only way to bring peace.

When France continued to invade Germany after the end of World War One, it was said to be Germany’s “just desserts”.

When Germany expanded east and west, it was said that they couldn’t be faulted, because the Treaty of Versailles was clearly unfair; and could we really blame the German people for wanting an end to that oppression?

When France fell, and London was besieged, we complained because we didn’t see it coming. Our self-righteous vanity shattered like the aftermath of an airstrike.

And now, we stand by, saying that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is clearly different.

Propaganda is circulating, saying that Ukraine doesn’t have to stay independent, because it’s only been that way for 24 years, and before that, it was part of Russia.
But the kingdom of Germany had only been fragmented for 20 years before World War Two began.

The propaganda says that Ukraine’s government is corrupt, and therefore they don’t deserve to be their own state.
So, too, were the lords of fragmented Germany when they met in that fateful beer hall, and were shot at by their nation’s soon-to-be fuhrer.

Our vain, liberal propagandists claim that we can’t lay this at the feet of Vladmir Putin, because he’s a latecomer, and is only responding to the fragmented nature of Ukraine.
So, too, did Adolf Hitler only respond to the fragmented nature of his beloved Germany.

Yes, our vaunted diplomats urge that, if only we do nothing, this whole thing will blow over, and clearly Russia will stop as soon as they conquer Crimea. Or, at least, they’ll stop before they reach Poland. Or, maybe they’ll stop before they reach Germany. But surely, France is safe.

How long are we going to suffer the advice of cowards and fools? Does it make sense to ignore the past, in hope that doing so will change the future? When has the ever…ever worked?!

I call myself a Centrist because I can’t stand the idiocy of any polarized ideology, be it conservative, liberal, capitalist, or socialist; and it’s high time I write some propaganda of my own:

Down to ignorance!
Down to cowardice!
A pox on the enemies of peace,
And a brand on the ever-hackneyed re-writers of history!

Why Does It Matter Whether Homosexuality Is A Choice?


I think that the reason people think that choice in gender preference matters is the same reason why people who ask that question are, so far as I’ve seen, utterly unwilling to follow that question to the uncomfortable places to which it might lead. This applies equally to both sides of the LGBTQ debate. The logic goes something like this:

The anti-LGBTQ advocate will typically look at the evidence in this way:
“It’s entirely, or substantially a choice. Therefore, people who engage in homosexual activity are culpable, and legitimate targets of (social) prosecution.” In rarer cases, such an advocate will see homosexual people as a “mistake”, wherein their desires are NOT a choice, but they need to “behave themselves”, anyway, and seek medical help to correct the problem.

The pro-LGBTQ advocate will typically look at the evidence in one of two ways, (seemingly) entirely dependent on the situation at-hand:
1) It’s not a choice. Therefore, nobody can be blamed for it, and people who feel same-gender attraction should have every right as people who are born heterosexual.
2) It is a choice. Therefore, people can’t put those who feel same-gender attraction into a “box” as being only a certain way.

Personally, I think that all of these positions have at least a little merit.

The anti-LGBTQ advocate makes good points in claiming that people are responsible for their own decisions (and not those of other people). This is no different from heterosexual responsibility, when you get right down to it. They also make a good point that, similarly, everybody needs to behave in a socially-responsible fashion. Parading unprotected sex in front of an elementary school is probably not a responsible thing to do–regardless of who’s doing it.

The pro-LGBTQ advocate makes a good point in stating that if it isn’t a choice, then discrimination and (social) prosecution is utterly inappropriate. Likewise, if it IS a choice, people who sometimes feel attracted to one gender, and sometimes to the other shouldn’t have to be confined to a particular “way of being”, just because others have trouble wrapping their minds around this. (Bisexual men and women I know are also targets of poor treatment from gay and lesbian people who want them to “figure it out”, which seems equally silly.)

The thing is, regardless of which position is correct, BOTH sides of the debate are going to lose. Here’s my logic:

If there’s a physiological element, then anti-LGBTQ activists are screwed, because it means that they can no longer advocate for laws and policies that have different rules for LGBTQ people–since that would be discrimination. On the other hand, if it IS a choice, they’re stuck proving that same-gender attraction is hurting those who consent to such relations. Rape is already illegal, and clearly, this is a hard case to make with regard to consenting adults.

On the other side, pro-LGBTQ activists are screwed because the physiological element means that medical treatment is theoretically possible. This has the politically-inconvenient effect of proving that a person who is currently homosexual could be turned heterosexual, with the right treatment (hormones, gene therapy, surgery, etc.). If that’s what the person in question really wants, then this gets into “choice” territory: if the pro-LGBTQ activists get to decide that people can’t make this choice for themselves, then their anti-LGBTQ opponents can make the same choice about homosexuality.

So, let’s look at some of the evidence: is there a physiological difference between straight people, bisexual people, and homosexual people? Scientific inquiry has resoundingly said, “yes”. One factor is the shape and development of the amydgala–the part of the brain most responsible for interpersonal interaction and letting the two hemispheres of the brain talk to each other. The amygdalas of gay men more closely resemble those of straight women. The amygdalas of gay women more closely resemble those of straight men. Bisexual people are somewhere in-between. There are also hormonal differences, and one has to wonder how any of this is possible without at least a small genetic component. (I’m sure information about the latter could be found with a Google search–but probably predominantly on politically-biased websites. Scientific journals are, unfortunately, commonly hidden behind paywalls.)

So, why does it matter whether homosexuality is a choice? Because talking about it–SUPERFICIALLY–acts as an emotional “trigger”, and therefore as a political “dog whistle”. And that’s why LGBTQ-related gender politics aren’t worth paying all that much attention to, just yet.

(For those who are wondering, the current “correct” acronym for the aforestated gender rights movement is “LGBTQQIP2SAA” or LGBTQ+, for short.)

The Lily


The rose plant grew thorns because it was tired of being eaten;
And chrysanthemums produce poison to kill predators;
The bougainvillea bush shreds the hands of an unwary pruner.
But the lily fears conflict, and is trodden under foot.

Who among us has the courage to speak, despite the threat of the shearers?

Just as a barnacle can slow a ship in its path,
And as a louse jumps away from the sweeping comb,
So, too, are the parasites who fail to act, for fear of reproach:
They halt sapient progress and frustrate their fellows.

What does it profit a person to avoid conflict?
His nerves grow thin, and his hair falls out;
He can’t stand to see the face of whom he fears,
And runs at the appearance of an olive branch.
When he sees a quill and paper presented,
He assumes it’s a sword and shield;
And at the first sign of disagreement,
He abandons the peace treaty.

How many battles have we fought out of fear to negotiate?

The hands of the fearful are streaked with blood,
And the mind of the coward waxes crimson.
He sits in his war-room, planning for his defense,
And sends brave soldiers to die in his stead.

Still, the heart of the cowardly is bold with contempt.
It induces its wearer to make dogmas;
It convinces the gullible that avoidance is the only way,
And shuns forthright conversation.

Have pity on he who speaks of blind pacifism,
And have pity on the friends of the fearful,
For the burden is theirs, who turned their eyes from Poland,
And the ashes of Jews call their names.

But to the courageous is this boon:
Although you may be shorn,
Your petals are sought by many,
And your home is a fragrant garden.

Will the lily stand tall, or the tender grass bear seed?
These only thrive in isolation.
But perhaps, one day, the grass will learn to make grain,
And a farmer will protect it with his rifle.

I Want You


I only want you if I can make love with your mind;
I want the sweet liquid that’s born between your eyes.

Wreathed in gorgeous hair, with a delicate, sloping nose,
And perfect lips that reveal petals of tender pathos,
I want to sip your soft persuasion
And hear you vociferate felicity.

I only want you if I can kiss your soul and feel the Goddess hold me close;
I want you to invite me into the sanctum of your heart.

Concentric circles, and mountains, and valleys
Dip to the hot, red core that lies within.
I want to hold our dales together,
And create a paradise for two lovers.

I only want you if you can face your fears;
I want to kiss your hand and shed a tear together.

Though the world may shake,
And the earth may crumble beneath us,
I want you to hold my gaze,
As we boldly speak our truth.

I only want you because we’re equals;
I want to cross our sabers and salute one another with pride.

Sharp, flexible, and shining,
The blade is swift because a swift hand wields it.
I want to feel your steel upon my skin,
As unwavering and gentle a calligrapher’s brush.

I want you to know the ocean within me;
I want your moon to overflow my shores.

Spires, cliffs, and jagged boulders,
Salty spray above heaping kelp;
I want you to burst my levees
And surround my lonely island.

I want you because I love you;
Because your eyes are deep, like galaxies.

I want you because I sense you;
I feel like I’ve met you, before.

I want you because you push me;
I flex in your mirror image.

But I only want you if you want me;
Because freedom is the most beautiful thing of all.

Recipe: Rice Noodle Soup


I’ve been experimenting with the idea of making home-made ramen soup, without having to use a deep-fryer.  Here’s the recipe I’ve come up with, so far.  All ingredients are approximate; a little variation shouldn’t damage the overall effect.  This is entirely gluten-free, except for the oyster sauce, which is optional.  Bon appetite!

Homemade Rice Noodle Soup:

8 oz. wide, uncooked rice noodles
lots and lots of water
juice from 4 limes
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 can chicken broth
1 can sardines
1/2 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 bunch bok choy, diced
1 cup green beans, stems removed
4 green onions, finely chopped
1/3 bunch spinache, coursely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 shoot lemon grass, whole or halved (to fit into the pot)
4 large cloves garlic, finely-chopped
1/3 bunch basil, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger (to taste)
1/2 cup Bragg’s soy sauce (low sodium, gluten-free), to taste
3 tbsp. clam sauce, to taste
3 tbsp. fish sauce, to taste
1 tbsp. coconut butter (as needed)
2 tbsp. oyster sauce, to taste (optional; NOT gluten-free)
1 or more fresh chili peppers, finely-chopped, to taste (optional)
one “sunny-side-up” egg per serving (optional)

Method:

Melt the coconut butter and set it aside.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, leaving enough room for the rice noodles.  Add the noodles and boil them until they’re firm, but pliable (about 4 minutes).  Immediately drain them, and place into a large bowl.  Pour coconut butter over them, and gently toss until the noodles are as evenly coated as is possible without breaking them (using as much coconut butter as is required).  Set aside.

Combine all other ingredients except the egg in a large pot, and add enough water to almost cover them (about 1/2 inch below the top of the ingredients).  Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat, simmering with the lid on, at a low boil until all ingredients are soft, and broth is very flavorful (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally.  When done, remove and discard the piece(s) of lemon grass.

Optionally, cook eggs, individually, in a frying pan, leaving the yolks runny and unbroken.

To serve, first place the rice noodles in a large bowl, filling it about 1/2 of the way.  Then use a ladle to scoop the broth and vegetables into the bowl, on top of the noodles.  If desired, top with a sunny-side-up egg.  Serve immediately.

Makes 6-8 servings.