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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Books: An Evolution

Anyone who has known me would say that I have been a freak about book collecting throughout my entire adult life. Books and bicycles define who I am to a great extent starting way back. When I was a student at Indiana University I worked in the Lily Library which partly shaped my attitude about books, at least in their physical manifestation. I was always a reader but working at the Lily gave me a profound respect for the book in its paper form. Over the course of my life there are few people who have purchased more books than I and I’ve never been able to walk by a pile of books for sale without stopping, at least until recently. My life-long enthusiasm for buying books has waned considerably since I received an eBook reader for something that I wrote.

The problem with collecting books is that it doesn’t suit my lifestyle of moving from one side of the country to the other or from one continent to another. I have left thousands of books in my wake as I made my way around the modest portion of the globe where I have lived. What you see in this photo is most of the books that I have here with another modest shelf in my bedroom. This is probably the fewest books I have ever owned since I was a university student. But what you can’t see in the picture is the treasure of eBooks I have in my reader that I keep in my book bag. I wouldn’t say that it rivals the Library of Alexandria but for me it is a true modern miracle. I haven’t had access to a great library since moving to Valencia like I had in Seattle. With eBooks I no longer need walk through the stacks high among the skyscrapers of Seattle’s downtown area.

Books in their new, digital format are simply an evolution of technology, much like books manufactured on the printing press were an improvement over the hand-written scrolls they quickly replaced. At the time, many people moaned at Johannes Gutenberg’s invention as do people today about eBooks. To me the only thing that matters is what the books say to me; only the words matter. People who lament this tectonic shift in book technology are like those who are nostalgic for vinyl records. I couldn’t wait to abandon my record collection for discs and then abandon that lousy technology for MP3s. Books and vinyl records have opposite merits because whereas records are becoming more and more difficult to play as turntables disappear, books will always be useful, even when eBooks may fail us—my only reservation about this new format.

As the picture shows, I like to be literally surrounded by books. There is something comforting and warm about their physical presence, something eBooks will never have. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Top Excuses for Weaseling Out of Work to Watch the USA Copa de América Game

First of all, try not to over-think this too much by feigning some illness you read in a Stephen King novel. Just like back when you were in school it’s better to stick with the tried and true classics. Remember to make the call from home and not in a crowded bar with a bunch of drunks belting out a teary national anthem.  People tell me to DVR it but I’m forced to watch the games in bars because I tell everyone I can't afford a TV. The truth is that my bar bill for the games thus far would be enough to send one of my non-existent children to Yale for four years and we aren't even finished yet. A friend says he’ll watch the game at work on his iPhone which I don’t think is too cool seeing how he drives a school bus—the only job he could get because he’s on probation.

So if you’re looking for an excuse to duck out of work just rely on one of these timeless originals:

1) Diarrhea. This is always a conversation stopper and I guarantee if you use this excuse there won’t be any follow up questions. The only response you’re likely to hear is “Eew!” before they hang up on you.

2) Dead Grandparent. This one is also bullet-proof even if you’ve used it a few times because people don’t know how many grandparents you have in our divorce-prone society.

3) Had to take child to the emergency room. A great one if you have kids, but it will elicit a lot of unwanted attention in the form of condolences about your precious baby when you just want to concentrate on the damn game and forget about the little monster for 90 minutes. Seriously, is that asking too much out of life?

4) Play dumb. “What? I had to work today?” Works best if you actually are stupid.

5) Car trouble. For hippies replace “car” with “recumbent bicycle.”

Thursday, June 16, 2016


I made these picks before the first minute of play in this year’s Euro2016. So far things haven’t totally gone to shit and the only thing that really matters is that Spain won our first match although I wasn’t able to watch the game. I have watched quite a few of the matches thus fat which means that I’ve drunk a lot of beer which hinders my heavy training regimen. As motivated as I am in my training I am also committed to watching as much football as possible which is always a good time to catch up with my friends. 

Copa de América Update: Sometimes my insomnia pays off like last night when I woke up at 3:30 and remembered to tune in the USA-Ecuador game which we won 2-1. It looks like we will get to witness the world’s best footballer in the next round. USA-Argentina!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sexual Repression Gone Horribly Wrong

It’s painfully obvious that what Omar Mateen really, really wanted was to walk into that club and offer himself up to a conga-line gangbang involving every single customer, bartender, valet parker, coat check boy, and janitor in the place. He didn’t have the cojones to admit that he was gay and his religion makes that an offense punishable by death so he took the coward’s route. I'd wager that he achieved an orgasm. So according to ISIS: gay sex bad, genocide good.

Of course, we will focus on the Islamic nature of this tragedy while completely ignoring the fact that he acted alone. As a people we don’t have the political will to protect ourselves by having even the most basic laws about buying military grade weapons capable of this sort of slaughter. How can a guy on an FBI watch list legally buy a firearm of this potential? In France the psychopaths used assault weapons but at least they needed a vast network to pull this off whereas in America any mentally diseased asshole can simply put his credit card on the counter and walk out ready for WWIII.

I love it when people ask, “How many more tragedies will it take before we do something, anything about this?” Obviously it will take at least one more because we won’t do shit about this massacre other than spill a lot of useless rhetoric.

Update on closet queen Omar Mateen from the NYT. As it turns out he didn’t hate gays, he hated himself because he was gay, as I stated above.