Big Brother
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This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

Image of Big Brother from 1984This isn’t really a post about my life, it’s (another) political post, so if you’re looking for something else, look elsewhere. This has been hanging over my head lately, and I need to get it out.

I’ve never before been as terrified by the state of American politics as I am now.

A lot of the time, when I’ve written about politics, it’s been about single issues. One of my earliest blog posts ever was about the proposed amendment to ban the burning of the American flag. Recently, I blogged about Net Neutrality (in response to an issue in Canadian politics, but relevant in the US nonetheless). I’ve been frustrated over individual cases here and there, but never in my life have I been so honestly outraged and frightened by the state of politics.

Maybe I’m just getting older and realizing how messed up things are, but I think there’s more. I think things have taken a nasty turn recently. I can’t pin a finger on it– I don’t know when it happened or what caused it– but its many symptoms are starting to make me wonder just how diseased the entire system really is. It’s at the point that I’m eager to leave next year, and I’m sincerely considering the possibility of moving away after college. If these trends continue, I don’t want to be anywhere near the US.

Put simply, I’m scared shitless by the amount of power the government is accruing, in whose interests it’s being used, and how little oversight or regulation there seems to be. Continue reading

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There have been a number of minor thoughts buzzing around my head like gnats lately. They are bothersome and they take up otherwise useful space in my brain, so as an attempt to reclaim some territory, here are some minor thoughts from my head, in no particular order:

Continue reading

Levenger Circa
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I am currently geeking out about this:

It’s called the Circa Notebook System, by Levenger. It’s basically best described as an intensely customizable notebook/binder/organizer. The design of the binding allows pages to be easily removed and replaced however necessary, without popping open binder rings or tearing pages. Dividers, a million different types of filler paper, and tons of other options are available in order to customize your notebook just as you need it, and you can buy a Circa hole punch so that anything can fit securely inside.

The idea of super-flexible, modular, and simple notebook/binder-type organization really appeals to me.


Header image: “My Levenger Circa notebook” by Jaime Wong. Original licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. Modified: desaturated, edited exposure. My modification is released under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

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I am not currently a happy Spencer.

For a month or so, I have been trying to find a job. It’s summer and I’m about to be a college student; there are things I really need to pay for and pay off. Among the items at the top of my list are a new bicycle and a number of accessories for it, as well as various items for my computer, new clothes… the works. I could definitely use a bit of an income, for a number of obvious and logical reasons.

Unfortunately for me, it feels as though there are a million and a half things stacked against me. For starters, I have no experience. I’ve been so busy being a high-achieving high school student in the last four years that I haven’t actually had time to hold a job. This is problematic by itself, but when coupled with the current state of the economy, it’s downright nasty. Continue reading

Riding the Wave

(or, “Why I’m excited about Google Wave, and why you should be too”)

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Google Wave logoForgive me if I’m excited (especially to my really close friends, who have heard me geek out about this way too much). However, Google’s upcoming new development, called “Google Wave,” has (at least I think) the potential to totally revolutionize online communication.

I know, I know, I’m being a little dramatic. Revolutionize online communication? But I truly believe it. I think Google’s next development could totally change the way we communicate online, bringing it more in-line with the current developments in information technology.

More of my thoughts after the jump. Continue reading

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Dear Disaffected Youth of America:

What haunts you?

I see you every day, walking down the street in your heavy black jackets or your baggy skater clothes. I’ve watched you angrily kick over the sign of a local business simply because it was nearby. You’ve shouted at my car, “What the fuck are you looking at?” when I took a look at you to see if I recognized you. You’ve tried to break into my theatre department late at night, and almost succeeded.

So what haunts you? Continue reading

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Come on, people!

What’s happened to our conversation? We’ve become a bunch of spineless, light-footed lemurs, afraid to say anything that might step on someone else’s toes or offend anyone else in any way at all. All of us. We’re caught up in modifiers and justifiers, constantly making excuses in order to keep ourselves from pushing people too hard.

It’s too late at night to come up with examples, but watch your discourse with others. Watch others’ discourse. We’ve become ridiculously self-censoring, myself included.

I’m not advocating going out and being rude, that’s absurd. Manners have their place. But there are manners, and then there’s simply regularly cutting your feet out from under you, and the latter is happening one hell of a lot.

Random thought of the night.

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You see, the funny thing about other people is that they’re human.

Everyone messes up. Everyone has faults; everyone makes mistakes. And when they do, they often inadvertently end up causing someone else grief. It will be you at some point in your life. It may be you often in your life, if that way land the dice.

We get frustrated with the things other people do. We look at them and say “Oh my God, why can’t you just X?” or “Jeez, why do you Y?” But how many times have you been on the other side? How many times have you used the defense, in your own head or out loud, that you’re only human, or something to that extent? The fact of the matter is that sometimes people mess up. Continue reading

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Having been home for a week, I figure I ought to actually write something of content. Here it is.

On July 5th, 2007, I left Portland, Oregon at 7:30 am with a group called People to People. I boarded a plane, which ascended above the clouds and flew for an hour before landing at San Francisco International Airport.

After a 4-hour layover, I then got on a bigger plane and took a ten-hour flight… to Japan.

I spent two weeks in Japan, traveling all around the country. I saw the unbelievably large megacity of Tōkyō, and experienced the slow life in the little community of Hirado. I discussed world peace with students my age at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Memorial Museum, and walked around downtown Kyōto as preparations for a summer festival were being made. I spent two nights living with generous homestay families. The trip was amazing beyond belief, to the extent that the first word I use to describe it when someone asks is always “life-changing”.

And now I’m back in the United States, and it’s horrendously difficult to readjust, partially because there’s so much that I simply can’t take for granted anymore. Continue reading

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O, my Brothers and Sisters—

What has become of us?

Generations before us strove for excellence. Our great-grandparents lived through two of the most massive wars in history as well as the Great Depression, and still pulled through to keep our nation alive. Our grandparents survived the Vietnam War and launched men into space, a concept never before even conceived of as possible. Our parents saw the rise of ever-increasingly powerful computers. The generations before us faced terrible challenges, yet not only pulled through, but were able to contribute immensely to the building of our modern world today.

I write about this because something is growing increasingly obvious with each passing day. Put simply, our generation is afraid to try.

I see this every day in school, both in myself and in others. We have grown noticeably reluctant to take risks or try things. We all live in our own self-shaped worlds, and rarely actually come out. We are afraid to take risks, because it means stepping out of our safe haven for a moment and risking failure. Continue reading