I just found out that a week ago a wonderful girl from my Creative Writing class died. She was intelligent, nice and extremely athletic, one of the star volleyball players at Purdue.

I have a sneaky suspicion it was a suicide.

i have no confirmation of this, but the obituary said nothing regarding the cause of death and donations in her memory are supposed to be sent to the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill.

I don't want to assume anything, but if it is a case of suicide it is yet another case (other recent case being my good friend suffering from bulimia) of people that I thought had it together so well, and made little effort to help. As a psychology major, I am feeling guilty about this, but as a bipolar sufferer, it provides a bizarre sense of relief. Not that I am glad by ANY means she died, because I think it is a horrible thing and it is awful to have lost such a beautiful and talented girl, but it is nice to know that I do not suffer alone. It scares me though, to think of all the burdens people are hiding all the time.

****note (3:36 am noder time)****
My suspicians have been confirmed, it was a suicide.

Suffering from mental illness of any kind is a trap very similar to the closets homosexuals are constantly hiding in. The only way to find relief is to face your problem, but you will be ostracized and outcast by some people. There will be people that will not be able to deal with your problems and will call you crazy; there will be significant others that will simply not be able to love you because of your problems; the people that you need the most will not be able to be there for you, and this will make you feel worse. it is simply unfair and devastating.

So, to all victims of suicide, and all sufferers of depression, eating disorders, and any other form of mental illness, this node's for you.

The church in my hometown was a very central part of my childhood. My mother began working as the secretary there once my younger brother started to go to kindergarten. As my parents certainly didn't want me staying at home unsupervised, snow days and summers often found me wandering around the church while my mother did her work. It was a great building to run around in, as there were crawl spaces I shouldn't have been in, balconies to throw paper airplanes off of, and a big kitchen with industrial dishwashers and pressure sprayers. I became well versed in the art of rough house-of-God-ing.

There were often times when my mother would have to work later than expected, and I found myself walking around this darkened church for hours. I would hide underneath the pews at the back of the church, and listen as a large fan forty feet up in the ceiling circulated the air. During those moments, lying on the cold tile floor, it seemed as if God was close enough for me to touch. That the entire universe was open to my understanding if I could just concentrate harder on the white noise and darkness that surrounded me.

Now, during my commute on a train hundreds of miles away, these moments come back and kick me in the pants. I can still feel the power of those moments, but now my atheist mind detaches their spirituality. I know that these were moments of peace and meditation for a very confused and hyperactive child. And while god may not be a part of the equation for me any longer, I still long to feel the cold floor on my cheek, and listen to the heavenly noise.

Last night was interesting.

Right about 1 am, I was on the couch reading, and the blinds to the window not facing front were open. (Sam likes to sit in it, and it's not a direct view in from anywhere so I usually leave it for kitty.)

All of a sudden, I saw a bright, firey flash shooting through the sky. It looked at first like a firework or something that had misfired and burned, but the powder never detonated and it just continued downward in a perfect parabolic trajectory. Black ball with a trail of orange flame around it just shot past the window.

I had no idea what it was, of course. It looked like it could have been ball lightning, or a firework or something, but the weirdest part about it was it never made a sound. It looked very close, like 3-4 blocks away, and I wondered if it was falling debris of some kind or maybe frat boys shooting up model rockets and being stupid. But nothing on the ground caught fire and no sirens showed up.

I had also suspected it could be a meteorite, but was ruled that out because 'if it was large enough to not burn up down to here, it must have been large enough it would make a huge noise upon impact'.

I went to bed with no idea what it was, and neither the exponent (student paper) nor the journal and courier (Lafayette's paper) had reports. But upon asking around, I found out that it had been a meteor--that hit Chicago, 3 hours away.

There was no noise here and no impact because it was still that far away and moving towards Chicago, where it impacted. It was just so big and bright (it turned out to be large rocks) it looked much closer.


It's nice to know. And fairly interesting. But boy, at the time, was it a suprise, and no small bit creepy.

A letter to the inivisible girl.

While others cry and reminisce about the past, thinking about what used to be and never again will be, the ones who have forgiven and forgotten rise up to face the future.

I call up the next person who just joined the business. She's a silent partner and stays to her word. She has integrity. Our trade in business values is what our relationship is about. The thing is, we can also have fun.

The truth is, I've never had so much fun without you in my life. The lessons learned in the past can forever be put away as examples in which everything I did was wrong.

From the moment you left, my life changed for the better, because Everything I knew was wrong. And from that premise, I live my life now with the upmost uncertainty in which I can give myself the most security in knowing that things can always be that uncertain.

I now speak a language that most people do not comprehend. My attitude freaks people out. I've never lost my optimism, never lost myself. Through this last year and a bit, I've revealed more about myself, my truths and life's ambitions.

Meeting people, going to Paris, France for the first time to meet a great love, I continue to explore an unsatiated curiosity.

Falling in love twice after you is bliss. The girl from Maine has stolen my heart and soul. Last June when she visited here for an IBOS meant the beginning of everything. Travelling to Maine to see her friend's marriage was one in which you would have loved, exactly from that painting you had. And visiting her family in Christmas time was one thing you and I never had. We braved the winter weather to wind through the snow and ice-covered roads just like in the WRC. Oh the thrills!

Tori Amos is one of the greater things we now share. We danced to Your Cloud at her Scarlet's Walk concert like I did in Putting the Damage On, but this time, with truth.

You see, I regret nothing. None of my actions, none of my reactions. It was what it was because I didn't know any better. I now live a life with purpose and direction. Goal-setting is an activity only 3% of the entire modern world partake in. I know better.

I have finally awaken to find an unreal world that makes no sense. I have realized dreams with my current love. We will soon move-in together to share these dreams and hopes of a better life.

I'm glad it's over. How can I not be?

Writing this isn't to prove anything. It's merely a conversation I have with myself. Only this time around do you figure into part of it.

Dubya’s officials are trumpeting the fact that their "coalition of the willing" now members 49 nations, more than Gulf War I. Here’s how they are helping us bomb the desert.

UK: 45,000 troops
Australia: 2000 troops
Spain: 200 troops
Poland: 200 troops
Denmark: a submarine
Morocco: 2000 monkeys to detonate land mines (not a joke!)

Coalition members with no military forces: Palau, Costa Rica, Iceland, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and the Solomon Islands. Iceland has not had a military since the 14th century.

Also included on the list are Turkey, which refused to allow the US to use its territory for military operations, and Afghanistan, who has plenty of problems of its own right now.

"An official at the Moroccan Embassy could not confirm the presence of monkeys in the coalition of the willing." – Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A21268-2003Mar24.html)
Phantom Analyst Recap
The Agonist Weblog

Before anyone gets tetchy about copyright, yes, I am The Phantom Analyst. I offer this evening recap of some militarily relevant events in the Iraqi theater of operations, with some ten-cent commentary at the bottom.


2047 EST: CNN Satellite pix show light cloud cover over most of Iraq. Prediction of sunny weather w/high pressures over Syria, decreasing to partly sunny at Basra. Twin lows over central Iran and southern Saudi Arabia.


  • Iraqi Def. Minister: Coalition '140km from Baghdad outskirts.' (Gulf daily News)
  • 1910 EST: More news on those Harir/Bashur area airlifts of the 1st Inf. Div; 'constant' stream of aircraft reported at airfield, likely coming from Germany where the 1st ID is stationed.
  • 1922 EST: U.S. Marine Corps 24th MEU ordered to Kuwait, rather than return home from deployment.
  • 2136 EST: Coalition Armor (Tanks?) seen in Maan, Jordan.
  • 2141 EST: U.S. Special forces control the West of Iraq, 170miles in from the border. Area contains airfields and possible SCUD hideouts.
  • 2225 EST: 'Several hundred' US Delta Force, CIA paramilitary and UK SAS troops are 'inside Baghdad' to disrupt Iraqi activity during battle for capital.


  • 2224 EST: Abu Dhabi TV reports heavy fighting at An Najaf through nightfall. Units of the 3ID encircled the city and attempted to clear Iraqi forces from the outskirts, but retreated to a wider perimeter after losing a couple of tanks.

Coalition Air:

  • 2000 EST: CENTCOM announces destruction of a 'major C3I and comm center' in Baghdad (BBC)
  • 1650 EST: RAF Fairford: Add'l B-52 strikes outbound.


    CENTCOM announced that the Shatt al-Arab pathway to Umm Qasr had been cleared to 60 yards wide; while widening it to 200 yards they discovered additional subsurface mines ('bottom-influenced') and they are clearing those to allow larger vessels safe passage.
  • First resupply aircraft into Tallil Airbase, Central Iraq, held by American forces. Iraqi airbase 20 km SW of An Nasiriyah.


The 1st ID airlift is good news; units of the 1st ID are likely coming from Schweinfurt, Germany where they are based. If they are being airlifted, then only the infantry units are coming. There are 4 battalions of pure infantry in the 1ID at around 600 soldiers per battalion. Bashur, the only field on which I can find specs, lists the runway at 6700 feet, enough for C-130s and C-17s.

The 24th MEU is a self-contained battalion-sized unit stationed on three U.S. Navy Amphibious landing ships; it consists of a small armor section, a battalion of infantry, and an aviation section of transport and attack helicopters along with a few Harrier jets. It is designed to be a 'ready response' force in times of crisis, and as a MEU(SOC) it is trained up to perform Special Operations missions when more specialized Special Operations Forces cannot reach its deployment area in time. While it may be a small force, it is a well-rounded one.

Tallil airbase being active is a good step towards shortening and securing the logistics train from Kuwait and perhaps Saudi Arabia up to the forward forces. Theater transports such as the C-130 and transport helos can haul supplies to within 20km of An Nasiriyah. This should improve the situation vis-a-vis rear area security; however, it will not remove the necessity for convoy security along roads to the south, merely offer an additional supply route.

The weather promises to be favorable to Coalition air power on Friday.

The heavy fighting in the An Najaf outskirts, if correct, suggests that the Coalition has Iraqi forces mostly bottled up inside the city. While this is good news for Coalition operations in the region, in does mean that significant combat power will be tied up either eliminating or containing these units, and until this situation changes, these units will be unavailable for any assault on Baghdad. As seen in Basra, the Coalition will have difficulty bringing its firepower to bear while the Iraqi forces remain commingled with civilians inside An Najaf. In addition, the tendency of local road nets to pass through smaller towns rather than ring them means transport past An Najaf *may* be limited to tracked or off-road capable vehicles for the time being.

More as it happens.

The Phantom Analyst a.k.a The Custodian

The bottom has just dropped out of my life.

I never knew it until today, but I am gay.

Yes, apparently, I have gone through two decades of human existence completely assured in the conviction that I was a young, heterosexual man with a craving for human beings of the female alignment. I was in love with the idea of my girlfriend's supple, tender young body, the gentle, refined curves of her form, and the soft murmurings of her voice as she whispered her hopes, dreams, and fears into my ear at the bedside, half-asleep.

But I've got to put all of that behind me right now, thanks to the devastating ballista of cold, perfectly-reasoned logic that struck me in the face this morning after I read my web email. I need to get used to the fact that my life has been radically changed, and fight the inexhorable, overwhelming feeling that I can no longer take anything for granted in my life. No, the only thing left to do is to pick up the pieces, throw them in the garbage, and move forward.

It may very well come to a surprise to you how a young man in the prime of his life can so easily and abruptly realize that his sexual polarity is the exact opposite of what he naturally assumed it to be since puberty. I can assure you, gentle reader, that mine was not a completely lonely struggle for sexual identity, as I received an unquantifiable degree of aid from an old girlfriend of mine -- let's give her the neutral name of "Stacey" to keep your perceptions of "her" androgynous and non-gender oriented, since apparently I didn't know back then I was supposed to have sex with men -- with whom I had broken off personal contact about two years ago, back in that crazy, free-spirited, anything goes era of experimenting with heterosexuality.

Although I stopped seeing "Stacey" sometime in March of 2001, we still kept up a spotty correspondence through our common membership to Livejournal.com, several local news mailing lists, and a couple of clubs in our city. Sadly, it seems that "Stacey" was still buying the lie I was living for everyone else -- that I was a heterosexual teenager interested only in coitus. Supporting this claim are the numerous instances on which "Stacey" would attempt to flirt with me online and in public, on several occasions exposing "herself" to me and attempting to seduce me into bed for a night of sexual intercourse.

I guess it was right about that time that my false persona began to crack and my true colors began to spill out, for, after a brief period of brooding and self-loathing following the breakup, I was decided that I no longer had any genuine interest in "Stacey". I politely accepted "Stacey's" advances, but kept to my resolve not to get involved in another relationship. "Stacey" began to pout and get a bit bitchy at times, but overall I would have guessed that things were still fairly "sympatico" between the two of us.

Today, that rough assumption came to a brutal end, along with any shred of dignity I can claim to have possessed during my life. Last night I wrote a short email to "Stacey" suggesting that we have a nice, informal, strictly platonic dinner in the comforts of one of our favorite local restaurants. This was prompted in part by our chance encounter Friday night at a popular club downtown, where, once again, against better judgment, I rashly concurred that "Stacey" was eager to see and converse with me throughout the evening.

When I saw "Stacey's" email address with the requisite "Re:" and my original header next to it this morning, I smiled to myself and eagerly clicked on the accompanying link. "Stacey" is usually slow to answer personal emails, given that "she" gets online on an average of only twice a week. I expected a brief, but courteous, and well-written answer to my query.

But alas! Instead, the force of the 12-point Mistral script hit me like a raging pimp on methamphetamine:


"She" was mocking me! What could possibly be wrong? I read further:

You are a fucking dickless faggot, Deckard.

"She" went on to describe various complications in our relationship that were exacerbated by my alleged lack of masculinity and assertiveness, and the irony of me "crawling back" in an effort to gain "her" fleeting attention. The abuse culminated in a scathing critique of my alleged lack of sexual performance and presence of multiple hangups, and "she" attributing both of these traits to my latent homosexuality. "She" closed with a brilliant piece of advice of how to make the best use of a certain neglected body part (which, ironically, according to her first sentence, doesn't exist) in an effort to learn how to do what I apparently should have been doing all along.

The only thing left to say is thank God for "Stacey." If it weren't for "her" astute judgment, backed up with her astounding level of insight into the human psyche, who knows where I might otherwise have been five, ten, even thirty years from now. Still attracted to young, bronzed blondes in bikinis, a fetish which I now know runs completely contrary to my given nature? "Happily" married in a loving household with children while suffering from the hallucination of a healthy sex life with my significant other? The list of nefarious possibilities is truly as endless as my ability to imagine such horrors actually taking place.

No, now I know that I can never truly be content with who I am until I am "sodomized with a reach around from (my) freshman year philosophy teacher during a communal, drug-induced orgy".

"Stacey" ... there are no words to express the level of gratitude that I feel for you.

I can not believe what time it is.

It is not even three in the afternoon and yet I want more than anything to have gone home.

To-day has been one of those days.  The entire mornings work was lost due to a freak computer malfunction and then more was lost from yesterday due to the incompetents who tried to fix it the boss.

Worse of all is that is that I am stuck in the same office as the boss.  I've heard how everything is the fault of the labour government and how we need a good war to sort us all out.  The only war I want to see right now is one that takes him off and gets him shot!

It's all well and good working for a mate but somehow they always feel the need to lecture you on this and that and why you are always wrong.

Enough already - I don't want to hear some other dubious experience or story that may or may not be true (Urban Legend) but somehow proves that although things are one way in theory in practice things should be done how he has always done them.

Right now I just want him to shut up and sort out the cheap broadband connection for me...  getting mates rates is so very expensive.

I loath this office

The Media is the Message

This war has served to accelerate a trend in news media that has been going on for some time. Let's lay some groundwork first, however. If you look back at the US newspapers of the colonial period, you will see that they were seldom objective. This remained true through the 1800's (civil war reporting was far from objective) and into the early 1900's. The very idea of objective journalism seems to have been a product of the consolodation of the newspapers in the early to mid 1900's. With more and more areas having fewer and fewer newspapers, the corporations that were consolodating the market needed to reassure the people that the truth would out, because their journalists had no axe to grind. They would just tell the objective truth.

This was hogwash, of course. Nobody can be completely objective for several reasons. First, everyone is the sum of all that has happened to them, so everyone will process incoming information against a different personal database. More importantly, complete objectivity would call for complete information and no one but God can lay a claim to knowing the complete story. It's also worth noting that no news story stands in a vacuum. It's the product of one or more writers, plus one or more editors. The story is going to be seen in the context of both its era and the stories that surround it. Even if the individual reporter could be completely objective, the final result would not be.

As the twentieth century wore on, new media came into being. Both radio and television, however, were expensive to deliver and they soon conglomerated into a relatively few outlets. The resulting fierce competition amongst the few choices again made the message of objectivity a necessity: "watch our network, we'll tell you everything you need to know because we're all about the objective truth." Each media outlet needed a large, mainstream percentage of the market because their costs were high and their investments large. Pandering to any opinion outside of the mainstream would sink them.

The idea of journalistic objectivity was still hogwash, of course. Over the course of thirty years, from the sixties through the eighties, no new media were invented. The existing news media settled into comfortable positions. "Sure, sure," they said, "we're objective... no doubt about it... why everyone knows that journalism is all about objectivity... now here, watch this news report that's just as good as all the others because they all say the same thing anyway." The media became complacent in their positions. Objectivity was the accepted norm, so they didn't really need to strive for it. Soon, they all learned to stay on the same message of social liberalism mixed with corporate boosterism and suspicion of all information delivered by any alternate to Big Media.

This was satisfying to a good percentage of the US population, and, even better, those who weren't satisfied had few alternatives. Sure there were a few radical weeklies and the odd newsletter or magazine, but Big Media controlled the message completely.

Suddenly (by historical standards), two things upset the apple cart: cable TV and the internet. At first, they were small and ignored by Big Media. By the end of the 1900's, however, they had become impossible to ignore. The real problem wasn't that there was new media. That had happened before, first with radio, then with television. The problem was that the new media weren't terribly expensive to operate. Any yahoo could get a website or blog off the ground. Only a middling amount of capital was needed to start a cable news outlet; nothing like the capital needed to start a real television network. Consolidation need not happen.

The new media upstarts needed to steal audience from the existing media and they struck at the core vulnerability of the existing Big Media: objectivity. The new, smaller media could afford the luxury of appealing to a particular audience, rather than the universe of opinion. Their costs were lower and they could afford to play to a subset of the audience. Fox's cable news could slant to the right while CNN slanted to the left. Drudge could pull conservative page hits from ABC news while Salon pulled the liberal page hits to their site. Suddenly, Big Media is in a heap of trouble and I doubt they'll really recover. Instead, they'll have to find attitudes of their own and try to convince audiences to climb aboard those attitudes.

Finally, back to the war. It's a huge media event. Careers and fortunes will be made and destroyed in the media. The gloves are off and objectivity was the first casualty. Here's the wonderful secret, though:

This is a really good thing.

Objectivity was worthless to start with. Much more truth will come out when multiple media compete to find the story that the most people find important. Most stories have at least two sides. Rather than relying on one person to somehow find an objective center, it's much more effective to let two reporters - each passionate about opposing sides of the issue - compete to convince their audience which side is best.

This leads to one point, though, that is the real message of this rant: if you want to stay informed, you have to consume your news from multiple media with conflicting views. If you don't do this, and you're just tuning into the side that reinforces your own viewpoint, then your opinions are worthless. Fox News isn't going to tell you everything you want to know about things going wrong in the war and NPR isn't going to tell you about things going right. They pander to the audience segment they've carved out.

So, when get up in the morning, listen to Fox while you get dressed. Listen to NPR in the car, then ABC when you get home at night. Read the NY Times in the morning and surf the Drudge Report at night. Mix it up, hear the story slanted every which way, then form your own opinions.

The Media is the Message, and if you're going to hear the whole message, you've got to consume media on every side.

I went to do laundry around 3am this morning. As usual for that time any night of the week, the basement laundrettes were completely empty. Since I got here, I've seen about 6 people while doing laundry. Hence, parallelization across 8 washers and dryers is easy (they're tiny washers).

While waiting for something to finish, I decided to step outside and wander around. First thing I noticed is the amount of light from sodium lamps. With those, the Burger Bowl should be useful for just about any sport, any time you want. Then I noticed that, aside from a few birds and the few vehicles zipping down the Connector (which, by ear, should have been where Ferst Drive is), it was quiet. After a minute or so, I unconsciously blocked out the few sounds there were.

For the first time I can recall, I heard silence. Not this song, nor this one, nor an album by this band. Just a lack of sound. With that, all the things I had been worrying about seemed less important, and certainly not worth worrying over. Worth doing something about the ones that I could, certainly, but not worth worrying about. It was a zen-like moment of enlightenment that's difficult to verbalize.

I let it take what time it wanted, then went inside content with myself and the world and finished my laundry, and continued my day.

So, Cleveland weather is known to be sporadic, but this is crazy. Yesterday we has a high of 65 (f) with an overnight low of 55 (f). Today, it was a high of 75, which is unusual for Cleveland, but BUT!!! tonight, it is supposed to snow. SNOW? What in the world is that? I haven’t seen snow in … less than a month. *sighs* I don’t want snow. Please, no more snow. =( I have been enjoying the weather, it has given me hope that spring will come.. and then they predict snow. Weathermen are evil.

It's funny how, the more things you have to do, the more you find yourself sitting around doing nothing.
I like having things to do though; that way, if I don't want to do something, I can just turn to something else, right? Somehow this doesn't work, because the more I have to do, the less I want to do any of it. If that makes any sense.

Let's see, right now I've got daily math homework, writer's diary entries twice a week, a writer's craft ISU, another WC project, a gym project; plus my own stuff: a painting (with several layers, from several ideas), two websites, a game of Final Fantasy 3 that's been on hold for quite some time because I can't remember just what it is I'm supposed to be doing anymore, and my book(s).

Word of advice: never list things to yourself when you're trying not to freak out about something, because somehow it's always worse than you think.

I could add that people keep cancelling whenever I try to arrange a get-together, but I'm not in a bitchy mood as of right now, and it'd be best if I avoided one.

I'll be back to bitch some more.

I feel more tired than I have felt in a long time, but I have a reason. My first child, Sophia Grace, was born today at 21:41 UTC (16:41 local). She was delivered by caesarean section because her frickin' head was too big to fit through my wife's pelvis. Eight pounds, one ounce. Nineteen inches long. Absolutely fucking beautiful.

I need sleep now. 36 hours of labor give-or-take, and I'm just the hubby.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.