I’m late in posting on Infinite Jest, and it looks like some people might have actually checked on this site since I mentioned that I’d be turning into a journal on IJ starting June 21. Well, I’ve been reading and writing a lot elsewhere so this has taken a back seat. This will be brief, but I’m not going to neglect the summer journal completely.

When I first started reading Infinite Jest, I was really reading into it and trying to interpret or guess the meaning of certain events. For example, when Hal goes on and on about what a voracious reader he is and that he doesn’t just read, but he also thinks and feels, and it appears as though he’s having a seizure… Well, I immediately started wondering whether he was physically incapable of articulating all these thoughts. Instead, it seemed like his attempt to get this all out came out as a seizure. Hal then says he can’t make himself clear and says, “Call it something I ate.” We’re then told about an incident in which Hal was a child and unable to articulate his thoughts after eating a chunk of mold. I can see the symbolism, but I also wondered whether the eating of the mold caused some sort of lasting effect on Hal and ultimately caused his seizures. That’s when I started thinking, “Okay, I’m reading way too much into this. Why don’t I just wait and see what’s actually happening? Why don’t I trust the author like everyone has been saying?”

I stopped analyzing every little thing and went on with it, paying close attention but not looking for some deeper meaning to it all. Not just yet, anyway. More on the other characters tomorrow.

Go away.

And in other news:

Hipsters are considered apathetic, pretentious, and self-entitled by other, often marginalized sectors of society they live amongst, including previous generations of bohemian and/or “counter-culture” artists and thinkers as well as poor neighborhoods of color.

From Wikipedia’s entry on hipsters. Self-righteous bastards.

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of the town. They shall say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death…” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

It’s 3:17 a.m. as I write this and I’m guessing it will be about 3:40 a.m. when I’m done. We’ll see. I can’t sleep, which is unusual, and I’m hungry but too tired to eat. I’m also thinking that what I’m about to write won’t make any sense at all, but I’ll take a stab at it.

I’ve been reading a few things online and thinking a lot. Mostly, it’s about attention spans and intelligence or what is perceived as intelligent these days. It seems like the Internet might be hurting intelligence or maybe a very specific kind of intelligence.

I like to read a lot. I’m going from one book to the next and I feel like I can’t have enough material around, so I surround myself with books and magazines. You know, to feel safe. I’ve been this way for the last seven or eight years – before that, I mostly read magazines and books required for school. Now, I like non-fiction. Some of my favorite authors are Steven Pinker, Christopher Hitchens, Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins. I am not a big fan of fiction, but I’m trying to get into it. Oh, and I absolutely do not like Malcolm Gladwell. I think he’s a fraud and anyone who thinks he’s clever is intellectually bankrupt. I read his two books and I can see exactly why they wowed the double-digit IQs of America.

Every so often, I don’t mind the 300-words-or-less articles or blogs. Brevity is so championed these days, but I think it’s because of the Internet and how it’s ruining everyone’s attention span and intelligence. It’s affecting me, too. I find it increasingly difficult to get through a few chapters in a book in one sitting or to read a feature (which could be several pages long) from a magazine like The New Yorker. Even in my writing, I’ve found that blogging, something I do for a few sites, has hurt my ability to read and write pieces that do more than summarize an issue.

Short articles, brief videos, and snippets of information overload the Internet and our minds. It seems anything that requires mental effort is a major deterrent for most people. Maybe I should make this blog entry really long so that most of you readers will go away.

Speaking of informational snippets, I find it hilarious when people try to make themselves sound intelligent or enlightened because they have an RSS feed. Good for fucking you! Yes, let’s talk politics or technology and enlighten or humiliate each other based on who’s read the most blogs. Please, impress me with your knowledge acquired from skimming through your Google Reader and the hundred word blogs you’ve written yourself based on scant info. Better yet, let everyone know how pretentious you are by writing about it on Twitter and linking to it.

What I love to do is sit and watch sometimes. Blog worlds are set on fire when tantalizing news hits the wire and everyone goes crazy talking about whatever is currently hot. Whether it’s true or not, it doesn’t matter; the hive mind is already at work into setting the “facts” into stone. Real smart. But what I love most are the people who decided to take two minutes to think about the news and decide its wrong and then tell everyone why.

Wow, because you did some fact checking or some critical thinking, you’re a genius! (And I love how casually some of these folks bring up the news, too.)

Here’s my problem with the Internet: Because information travels quickly and everyone is trying to get the news up before everyone else, journalistic integrity goes down the drain (something I’ve been accused of several times in the past). Fact checking is a thing of the past. Blog now, check facts later.

I have four minutes left.

So, the Internet is destroying intelligence. Sure, it’s bold and brazen to say so but it’s true. No one can stand to read anything that’s longer than 300 words anymore. (It surprises the shit out of me that the Amazon Kindle is flying off the shelves, figuratively speaking, when no one really reads books anymore – to kinda paraphrase Steve Jobs. That’s marketing power.) Most videos people view online are less than five minutes long. When searching for information on a subject, people will hit the back button in less than a second if it takes them to some page that (gasp!) is longer than two or three paragraphs.

I think I’ve finally mustered up some energy to get up and get food. On second thought, nah. I’m just going to sit here comfortably and go through my feeds so I can feel remotely enlightened and then wake up and forget everything I skimmed over.

It’s 3:40!

Nostradamus has been famous for “predicting” future events and, depending on how they were interpreted, his prophecies have been surprisingly accurate. The problem, however, is that all of his predictions were vague and ambiguous. The prophecies were never clear and time frames weren’t definitively set, which makes it open to all for interpretation. Add to that the fact that he has far more misses than hits (much like Bible interpretations and prophecies) and you essentially have nothing beyond the mathematical probability of outcomes. If I made thousands of predictions, very loosely written and vague, it’s almost a guarantee that a handful of them would come to pass.

Enter Gerald Celente, the hokey Nostradamus of our day. Celente also makes “predictions” and has foreseen doom in the near future. What’s the latest word from the modern-day prophet? America is doomed and nothing can be done about it. Over the course of the next four years, we will no longer be an industrialized nation, we’ll be scouring for food, there will be rebellions and riots, and all hell will break loose – to say the least. Wow, what a bold statement in hopes that everyone will forget within the next four years. That’s the beauty of prediction these days. You make them long enough that people will forget if they don’t come to pass, but if for some reason the prophecies come to fruition, you dig up your documented predictions and smugly say, “I told you so.”

Apparently, Celente has “accurately predicted” the fall of the USSR, the market crash in 1987, and the Asian currency crisis in 1997. How does he do it? Does he study social, market, and economic trends? Does he gather this data and use mathematical modeling and forecasting to come to reasonable possibilities? Does Celente allow for error and come up with figures to back his doomsayer predictions? Nay, Celente doesn’t subscribe to reason and uses the following method:

According to Gerald Celente, Director of the Trends Research Institute and author of Trends 2000, the key to tracking trends is to read two newspapers every day with a purpose — either The Wall Street Journal or The Financial Times, plus The New York Times or USA Today. Look for stories with social, economic, and political significance, be it about the difficulties older suburbs face or the current currency crisis. (You’ll know by the headline or the first paragraph.) Skip the stories that are purely human interest or that are about something that hasn’t happened yet (for example, a jury resuming deliberation on a sensational trial).

When a crisis does occur, tune in to the extra in-depth analyses that you’ll find in accompanying background pieces probably in more than one of the newspapers. Read them as though you’re a “political atheist,” Celente recommends — not for what you want or hope, but for what is really going on, not only in your own profession or industry, but for trends that may directly or indirectly shape the future.

There you have it – and how convenient and simple! All you have to do is read two newspapers everyday, make sure to read between the lines, and then make an objective conclusion about what should happen next, not what you hope to happen. In all seriousness, if there is a such a thing, who would listen to such a dope? One fine example is this painfully long blurb from Alex Jones’ Infowars. Doing a little research shows that, along with Alex Jones, all the Bible-thumping, hell-and-brimstone fanatics hail Celente as their prophet and take his predictions, which have a predilection for gloom and depression, very seriously.

Anyone who listens to a forecaster who is very specific, extremely positive or negative, and has nothing to substantiate his or her claims would do well to be skeptical. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of companies out there who study trends and make predictions, but it’s what they do for a living. These types of forecasters actually have several working models to come to the conclusions that they do, and even then they openly state the room for error and inaccuracy. Be wary of anyone who is firm and definitive, they’ll end up looking like an ass in the end.

I love WordPress. Why? Well, it’s obvious how awesome it is for blogging, but I also like getting these stats. It looks like someone is stalking me (WHICH IS ILLEGAL), like on my old blog,  and is looking for something very, very specific… Mmm hmm. My name. WordPress. The name of my blog. My URL.

Well, you found me! What’s up now? Drop it already. Geez.

The preceding video made me LOL. Seriously. I’m not the biggest Hayden Panetierre fan, but I love her smile throughout the whole satirical piece! Excellent.

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