Friday, November 14, 2008

Some food thoughts

There is much for me to discover when pay close attention during my experiences. I have found it very hard to resist eating candy bars out of the vending machines at school. I try not to, since they cost 85 cents and are a part of an unbalanced diet. Buying cheap candy from stores is also ineffective, because it is then available all the time and I usually eat it up too quickly. Today I didn’t bring a lunch and subsequently spent 2.60 on vended items and 2.05 on frozen yogurt. $4.65 is a pretty bad score for what I got. The opposition to this is taking the time to make my own food. If I’m going to take the effort, I put in a little more and end up with toasted homemade bread, meat I prepared toasted cheeses, pickles, olives, and there are plenty of microwaves to warm up what I bring. And overall, its cheaper. To tip things even further, this last candy bar wasn’t even tasty, its strident sweetness and clumsy flavors made me glad to wash it off of my tongue with a bottle of drinking fountain water. So why do I like vending machines? It is the experience, which I need to find a remedy for. Vending machines only draw when I am hungry. They are both conveniently near, but not everywhere on campus, usually I have to go at least half a building or one and a half buildings to get to one. Then I need cash; not carrying any is a good way to make them inaccessible. Money as tokens (as opposed to plastic access cards) have weight, form, unique wear and markings for where and when they are made, so measuring out change is an information packed ritual. (I used to collect coins, and still look at them as items with a historical origin.) Then there is the participatory mechanics of putting the change into the machine, and pressing buttons. As a person who grew up in an age of personal electronics, pressing buttons means access, getting what I want, and having a voice. Button pressing is its own reward. Then the machine responds with a show, humming its motors, clattering the change in with the rest of its take, the spring shelving turns and down falls the brightly printed candy bar. I then get to push open the double flap and hold my prize. Having attained a Butterfingers, I can put it in my coat pocket and walk around until I find a good spot to sit and eat it.

Eating is the most disappointing part, it is not as enjoyable as getting. Afterwards I’m happy to be not-hungry, but other than satisfying a craving for sugar there is nothing else to experience, it all has passed. Perhaps what I need is to find better containers for my lunches. If they had a better experience than plastic tubs and aluminum foil, lunch could then rival the vending machines. Some container of porcelain, metal and enamel, something both functional and artistic, and complicated latches would be nice. Combination locks would be interesting. How about a temperature read out? Such a lunch box would be really striking. To be useful it would have to be a porcelain food dish that a metal lid latched around. The dish would be removable to be microwaved, and since custom made ceramics is beyond my knowledge, it should be a store bought dish. The metal lid could have a rubber gasket to transport wet things. The lid would have a band (links or a metal strip) that goes around the dish to clamp on tightly. The top and or bottom could be inlayed with wood.

Such a device would be limited next to the lightness of ubiquitous plastic, but if you can make such an item, do go for it.

Grady Houger

Saturday, September 27, 2008


If my body is my own, I can do whatever I want to it. But if it is not my own, if there are liens against it, or allegiances that transcend individual autonomy, then I cannot rightfully pursue any course of behavior. Inappropriate actions against myself are then just as wrong as when done against another person, and exactly what is prohibited is a choice for those higher authorities to decide.

This gives grounds for regulation in matters of sexual conduct, suicide, physical upkeep, and use of time.

Thus categorically, a Christian is not authorized to follow any impulse that comes into their head. We are "free", unrestricted in body to think, speak and move as our mind wishes, and therein is a great dilemma, we are capable of doing far more than we ought. What we ought to do overlaps poorly with what we can do. Thus we must decide what we will do.

We should even think twice before saying "I". Not because we need a bizarre new symbol in its place (such as "this one"), but just to keep in mind the insistent philosophy of personal autonomy attached to saying "I will do this or that." We should not throw away the reality that we are each individual agents controlling the body we inhabit. The whole point to this is to remember our allegiance comes with both benefits and a duty to perform. we Christians are not our own. We where bought with a price. Its not the sort of price you can repay, then go do as you like, free from any oversight or restrictions. Its a price as in a positive value necessary to bring a sum out of the negative. It is like a essential component given where the lack meant utter destruction.

Therefore honor God with your body.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Momentary Status

How are my college classes going? Well, this quarter I got in ones that I didn't have specific expectations for. They are just OK picks. Without any strong preformed expectations, I don't have anything to evaluate them by. If I study thoroughly, I should find them quite rewarding.

Two realizations have been intersecting with my awareness recently. One is seeing my surroundings as a singular 3-D solid instead of a multitude of individual pieces. The other is the insight that my dissatisfaction with life has an obvious cause in my anti-social choices. Alongside those is my tendency to react instead of deciding to do things of my own decision.

Instead of going out and doing something new, I repeat the patterns of behavior that have been my M.O. throughout life. Of course you say. Habits are a common sociological pattern. They define us. Make us predictable. Obviously the issue is changing undesirable ones. Here are some that have came to mind today:

Collecting interesting projects and not completing them.

Collecting interesting objects and not putting them into use.

Avoiding social events.

Wishing for friendship.

Wishing for marriage.

Wishing something that demanded my loyalty and service.

But I asked myself, if you where married right now, what would I be wanting to do? Likely there would be the same things on hand, things like a sink of dishes, a bathroom to clean, video games to play, books to read, stories to write, floors to vacuum, a budget to balance, photos to edit, a website to enhance, emails to respond to, people to pray for, shopping to plan, meals to make for later, instruments to practice, gas in the tank to roll down the road.

As a single person I can look at all those things and decide without having to consider the interaction of another fully complex human being. So why does it feel that my life would have more meaning if I where married? Would having another sentient entity in tight proximity make my life better? If I am unhappy now, by what operations is the state of wedlock going to improve that?

I should ask my married friends. I'm sure they will have something sensible to say.

To avoid having to face the lack of prime motivation in my life, it looks like dusting my desk is the most compelling option.

Earlier today I wrote in class:

“I have the sudden perception that this crowd of students is a sea of grass in this specific pressure and atmosphere we survive in. Plants, a chatting crop of identical things that don't know it. In some cosmic sense, can we not be a mobile, socketable, vegetation compared with all possible higher entities?


We blow in the wind of the word structures we speak. The spewed communication is more than words – its motion – genuflection to the shape of thoughts. The thought moves the creature.”

Such words are of course, bizarre and disturbing. Such effects are bound to happen when one seeks to think up things that are, to some extent, unique. Why such an impulse? Its just one of the many things that fits with a lifestyle seeks a stable place in keeping with avoiding people. I find myself interested in popular things, but not held by them. If everyone is chasing after something, well then, what are they overlooking? Perhaps something equally enjoyable. Thats one of the reasons I find myself attracted to polka music. Its good stuff, AND totally opposes the styles of the ignorant masses I am aloof from. Christian fundamentalism is another thing I adhere to, for many reasons, but its anti-populist and exclusivity certainly feel good.

Yet fortunately, some ingrained sensibility stops me from giving in to misanthropic hate. I do want to be a friendly and personable neighbor. My tastes are no less stupid than those of people higher on the bell curve.

If resistance to other people drove me towards my current life of morose art, obscure forms of idleness, and deep philosophical study, is it any wonder that I haven't found satisfaction? No amount of negatives become positive.

Those times in my life when I was unable to avoid human companionship or secure enough to seek it out I have found quite enjoyable. Sometimes greatly so. And in fiction those times then everything works out, and people come to gather to do some great feat, thats awesome. I'd like to be apart of something like that. Maybe some day I can.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Two Poems

Drinking tap water from a Ball Brand 'Mason' jar:
Lines on the side. 
6oz it so happens. 
Natural tremble holding it, gazing.
Water level shifts in this cylinder - circle
into ovals, constant variation with the tilt.
Breath rippling this mirror.
Peering through layers of transparent reflections - the room light, The molded bumps on the jar bottom, the mottled surface of the jar wall, fingerprints on the side. The water surface wiggling.
Rolling water, sliding back into itself, beads left behind.
Tilted upward now, a little river left in the glass valley bottom; breath fogging the canopy of heaven.

Path of words 
Melodic. Clear sliding
Glass. Gifted synthesizers
Keening. Artificial brightness 
In curled bulbs. I lost
Awareness -
Of neck pain.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fascinating new trends in youth perception!

Today my younger brother told me that purchasing that FamilyForce5 CD mere weeks ago was something he shouldn't have done.
“Oh?” said I, interested to hear his reasoning. Had he found them to be too noisy and vapid?
No such luck. While he still liked them, he figured it would be better for him to sell his recent purchase, “because if I look hard, all the same songs are on youtube.”
Thats it folks. For the sorts of young persons today who haven't the permission or discretionary income to get ipods and itune cards, youtube is the media library. The key is that its free. And convenient!
I told my brother that it used to be people would buy albums even when they already knew all the songs and had them in other formats. Just to own the real physical representation, I said.
“Thats stupid.” he rejoined.
I let it go, sitting back in my free hand-me-down stuffed chair, and musing on what the free content business model is doing to todays youth. He has none of the concepts of property and trade value that an older person approaches the internet with. The only limit to his consumption of free items is knowledge of how to get them. Things like music which he perceives to be identical across various media are equal products, so only the most easy to get are worthy. What's most noteworthy is that for him, online items have as much worth as physical ones. He reveres virtual reality ego items and arguments for the investment of his precious life minutes on lasting physical things go unheeded. With no preference for the values of previous generations, how will these kids operate when they age to the point of making important business decisions? For them, there's hardly a reason not to go for the free stuff.
While there will be plenty of individual exceptions as other generations impress on those they care about, the collective impulse will be one to watch, if their first thought is to choose free stuff so long as its convenient. How will that impulse be played against by marketing departments, and business model makers? What companies will gain power, and what sorts of people will be running them? Could virtual items and relationships be valued to the point of being acceptable wages?
Only time will tell, but until then, beware!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Borders of awareness

With a ripping sore throat I walked to the store. I thought about driving since I have a vehicle again, but there is no reason for using the speed and sit-down comfort of a car when the short walk is so much better for my mind and body. The extra time propelled by steps clears the head. I managed to not buy doughnuts this time. They would have been unhelpful for a painful throat and snotty nose. I was there to get citrus. The limes looked interesting but I don't know what to make of them that doesn't involve lots of sugar. Oranges where sacked with a discount that equaled $1.37/lb, but I didn't think I wanted to eat nine pounds of them. At the checkout line I had three grapefruits, a cantaloupe, a cheap tin of water chestnuts and at an uncomfortable $2, the biggest available green Bell pepper. For a twelve lane Albertsons, there are only two lit up with a string of shoppers eyeing whichever lane they didn't choose. I got to stand and listen to people complain quietly as everyone stared at the magazines, candy and the TV displays that play ads all the time. The first tier of magazines featured lascivious celebrities and sexual how-to articles. The next tier of magazines claim to contain even more photos of overweight celebrities and details about their destructive relationships. There seems to be a progression to this: Get famous for being pretty and doing something or other, (some combination of living in LA, being pretty, knowing other celebrities, and possibly acting on TV). Get interviewed a lot while you are youthful, spend your money with carefree abandon. Then get old and let your life fall apart, since you where too busy being wild and famous to learn responsibility. Then the same in-group of news mongers that made you famous get to make money by reporting how miserable your middle age is.

Something I continually rediscover about grocery store magazine racks is what surprising things can be seen when you look away from the mass of checkout isle consumables. Above these checkout stands is a big flat surface that says 'thanks for shopping'. I had never seen it before. There are painted wooden wall hangings depicting food and some stylized pillars that flank the store name. Beyond the checkout stands, there is a wall of windows, that has a huge panoramic view of the parking lot, which is full of medium-small leafy green trees. It's actually almost impressive. I've seen this phenomenon in other stores too. One time above a magazine rack I looked up to see a gigantic ceiling area, full of thin cables and ducts, all painted in yellow. It was an enormous space I had walked under never seeing, because I was always staring at the shelves with their tiny products all lined up. If you ever want to hide something in plain sight, just put some racks of candy and magazines off to the side, no one will see your hole in the wall, or giant teddy bear balloon. Whenever there is something you are expected to stare at, look around to find what no body else is seeing.

Grady Houger ~ The grapefruit was very nice, and on average each contain 440mg of vitamin C.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


There is a good view from the top row of this amphitheater. More than just good, it's a fabulous view picked personally two thousand twenty two years ago by Herod the Great, ruler of Israel for the Roman Empire.

Stretching out in front of this stone seating is a disconnected jumble of items with the the sea not a hundred yards distant. Plastic bleachers along the open side for more seating, scaffolding for stage lighting presumably, a field of ancient carved bits; edges of buildings, pillar tops and a tomb. Broken stone columns lay in a heap, they are ancient, but what can you do with them? There is a groomed walking path with interpretive signs set out from a mass of ancient stone foundation. It juts clean out into the sea, the lowest stones are one of Herod's palaces that got built on by subsequent fortifiers. The ocean flattened out the ambitious parts it could reach, except for one hunk of old wall out in the surf. On top of it a romantic pair lean into each other. What makes the sea such a beautiful color? Blue-green, and white breakers rolling in, this is a mood of the ocean writers try to describe, but how do you really know how that looks till you've seen it? What makes it so different from other ocean scenes? Water quality, bright noonday sun at this latitude? It would certainly be satisfactorily diverting if the toga clad theater troupe fails to entertain.

Our group gathers at the top. Thirty tiers of seating lets us see down on ruins; what had been buildings are now a nonsensical mass of unearthed walls. The hemispherical bowl of benches catch the quiet test phrases of my fellow tourists standing down on the floor. Nate, our singular leader, teacher, and guide begins to explain the history of Ceasarea Maritima
. Various harbors were constructed over the past millennia, Paul the Apostle was imprisoned here for a time, and which international conflicts left each new layer of stone.

This being the twelfth of nineteen days on our tour-vacation-college-class-worth-one-credit, we are used to Nate explaining everything. He does an excellent job of it. But today, perched up here with the blue sky drawing breezes over the seaside, it can be a little difficult to focus on a lecture.

Multicolored wood sheets of varying sizes make a strange but smooth stage floor. We sit there, Nate stands, gesturing, expounding, sharing the fruits of his college degrees, some analysis of race relations in the neighborhoods of first century Caesarea, but that may have been later on in the day, or earlier, I don't remember exactly.

Down on the stage crisp snatches of conversation float up from other tourists in little clumps strolling by at ground level.
A red bikini wearing woman didn't just walk past. She stepped out to the center of the stage, performing ballet moves! That is no silly tourist clowning around; no normal person moves with such balance. I mean, I've never seen a ballet live, but it's obvious from tv commercials even, that such kicks, spins and toe standing done in an air of casual fun must be from years of practice. Normal people wave their arms in the air with natural clumsiness, not poetry.

We didn't say a word. Nate was facing us teaching, oblivious to this peril of such an exotic classroom setting.
It didn't seem appropriate somehow, to interrupt a passionate instructor, everyone sat there, waiting for someone else to make an exclamation, which no one did. We just watched. Such a spectacle was just what this place was designed for; a moment more engaging than the ocean view that framed it.

She walked away with a little laugh – a dedicated creature of the stage unable to go by without being able to say here too she danced.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I haven't written anything in way too long. This quarter I'm writing a lot for class, so I haven't been too motivated to edit things up for here.

Here's a picture instead. Check it out full screen.


Sunday, March 30, 2008


Here's a picture. Click for full size. Isn't it awesome? I would like to know what you think, maybe I'm just too enamored with my own ideas. Its just that this picture has so much detail, it has clear shapes and lines, it has life and motion but no faces or personalities to overpower the plain ordinariness of it. Best is that this photograph was an accident! I had been snapping away at an eagle and just waved the camera at this cat and triggered the shutter. I totally missed the cat, I wasn't even looking the viewfinder. There is nothing of 'artists intention' in this shot, no skill of mine. My intention had been to lazily snap a cat portrait, and if I had been successful, the result would be average and forgettable. I have lots of cat portraits I never look at they're so boring.

But I wonder if my enjoyment is also accidental. Does anyone else like this picture, or it is good for me because I know what lies outside the picture: My parent's farm. And I know where the cement came from, why it has white stuff stuck to it, what the cat looks like, the source of the clod of asphalt and the straw. Is the eye appeal in those specifics and what they symbolize, or is it in the image itself; the hint of cat, the geometry of beveled and stained cement, decaying straw mixed with gravel?

Only you can say. I don't know. There are many things I don't know, and as such lack makes itself aware, I must address it somehow. How does one live with unfinished, incomplete, unproven concepts? Sometimes we use worry. Sometimes we ignore it. Or let anxiety destroy our abilities. I don't know how to approach the unknown. But I'm going to try to be calm about it. - yet I can't imagine how it must be to not have God to trust in. Must be horrific.

Grady Houger ~ It will be very interesting to see how long it takes to get tired of looking at this picture.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mental Shifts – Interlude: Masked Moon Rising

Are philosophy and fiction writing conflicting interests? I am interested in pursuing philosophical truths, reaching for accurate theoretical models and glimpses of absolute truth. With fiction writing, I occasionally have to blink myself awake and remember that the individuals and their concerns I'm dealing with are not real people, that none of their existence is real, yet I can immerse myself it it to the point of forgetting.

Getting lost in a manufactured world ... striving for true understanding beyond illusion; It is a careful mix to be had. In fiction it is easy to create statements about reality that have little truth value outside the made-up world of the book. Well crafted books present themselves as identical to our human reality. Fiction can indeed illustrate truth, but a model of untruth can be indistinguishable. Well made stories play on human emotions so well that their truth message can be internalized before any analysis of its accuracy can be done, and many people seem disinclined to analyze what they consume as entertainment. Analysis generally disrupts that entertainment.

This issue makes it easy to see why Plato's writings are so critical and suspicious toward fiction. It's moral value is problematic, in practice easily promoting vice.

I have only my inclinations to speak from, and as I have stated, they are divided. Even so, I do not think fiction should be rejected in pursuit of a firm understanding of truth. An individual should practice judiciousness in selecting fiction that will be beneficial, and those who create fiction should do so honestly striving to write truth. In saying this, I'm really only speaking to myself, since there are many conflicting reasons people write, and my 'ought to' doesn't go very far against them.
I wonder about the dynamics of my making statements, which are my synthesized conclusions put down and shared as somewhat inaccurate text. My personal experience is the source of what I say, but life experience is quite unique, and despite being almost impossible to communicate, it's somehow general enough that people can relate. My experience of returning to this university, going to buy books, urban driving, listening to non-mainstream indie music on the radio, constant rain and snow today, sitting in my condo typing and looking out at the raindrops landing in the puddle on my deck: That's a few of my current environmental influences, but you can only think of them by remembering similar memories of yours. It's not the same. My understanding of the dichotomy between philosophy and fiction isn't the same as yours, but that doesn't matter, because our understanding of the English language and cultural background is similar enough that people reading this are likely to understand what is written here even if they do not write fiction and have not read Plato. The meaning is attained by a shared understanding of language. The language itself is only important in that we have a sufficiently similar definition for the word 'beneficial', and that our understanding of grammar is the same.

Since the particular language could be a different one and this bit of writing would still work between members of that culture, this sort of explanation puts the power of meaning onto the string of signified elements that the words represent. Reading and processing those symbolic textural units builds a concept in your mind similar to the one I intended to write.

What's the point of all this? I do not know. I'm just talking about the recent thoughts I experienced concerning fiction and philosophy, and then used that in a nebulous bit of textual analysis theory. Almost everything I stated was based off of what I learned or had to read for the literary critical theories class last quarter. But why am I writing? Somehow it seems important to talk about what I think. But writing about why I'm writing and about what I'm thinking is confusing. It leads to my current college malady of seeing everything as symbols and then connecting those to each other and everything else. Its a mind crushing mess, but fortunately I can always choose to stop writing. Also, I got Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit from the school library to watch as soon as I'm done writing this.

Grady Houger ~ done!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Text as fuel for Whatever fire you throw it in

This is an essay I turned in for a college final. It will maybe get a good grade, mainly because this teacher grades most graciously. It is written to a professor having spent the whole quarter discussing the definition and function of literature, so it's referencing a lot of theory. I think the general point is clear though, and slightly controversial, so see what you make of it and drop me a note of how you disagree. This is also an example of how much my essay writing sucks. It's barely passable for this class, but the structure and clarity are not professional.

Literature can be any written, or just printed work, because any sort of printed material can be defined as literature under specific theories. There are just so many diverse opinions about literature that somebody can find meaning in things others overlook. The back of my dry erase marker board cleaner bottle says this:

Directions: Erase marks before
applying cleaner. Spray surface.
Wipe with soft cloth

Are these intellectually, philosophically meaningless industrial directions, or can they be a satisfyingly ambiguous poem? The physical placement of those words matter; are they on a bottle or in a poetry book? The readers receptivity matters, and their education. The social institutions of publishing and taste determine whether this 'poem' comes to view at all. The original anonymous Message Stor employee who authored the directions doe not matter, but the person who prints it as a poem becomes its author, contributing the aesthetic vision; or at least they are the one who takes the effort to bring this passage into an existing aesthetic community.

Some other people, existing in as contemporaries to the person who would remix cleaner directions as poetry, are not at all a part of that community of poetic appreciation, and will give no meaning-valuation to the poem if they saw it. This other person belongs to a separate community which has no vocabulary or consciousness of textual interpretation or the function of poetry. This person is watching a YouTube video: the techno remix of the weeping Brittney Spears fan saying 'Leave Brittney alone!' This watcher is enjoying the work of an author who added music and blinking colors to clips of the original speaker's rant to produce a result that cruelly mocks the original author and is simultaneously a hilarious pop-culture social commentary. Now both the YouTube watcher and the found poetry person are bringing knowledge external to the text in order to appreciate the construct. So arguments for 'anything as literature' require the reader to contribute much of the meaning, and this can operate without the participants awareness.

A more traditional definition of literature makes it out to be only the most exemplary of a societies texts; the texts that are bold, unique, unparalleled in communicating (with artistry) the values and ideals of that culture. Such texts function by telling the reader the content more than requiring the reader to provide meaning. In other words, the text contains an internal logical pattern of conceptual units rather than the reader taking the textual elements as referents to external structures. Traditional texts where generally designed this way, by authors for readers, both agreeing that this is how the text should function. The works that last (having to be repeatedly recommended across generations) have a deep complexity and/or representational authenticity new generations recognize. With this definition of literature there must be a category for what it excludes; hack writing or pulp fiction. These texts are derivative, sensationalist without skill or artistic quality. But such unlauded texts remain in demand alongside 'better' ones, both the antique and newly written pulp. Is this only because there is such a shortage of literary murder-mystery detective novels?

Since both high and lowly rated texts have popular appeal, it is hard for me to think there is much validity to any one persons definition of literature, particularity my own. It becomes a preference based on specific goals. There are just too many systems of reasoning and too many different reasons people read and comment on texts. Literature is just communication people value. I personally find myself valuing texts for wildly conflicting reasons. While I could talk about the particulars of why I read the Bible, and also a comic strip about a girl who gets turned into a zebra demon, I think the real distinction between definitions of literature is that exclusive ones seek to find a unifying element that solves the question permanently, and inclusive definitions are based around the lack of knowledge and lack of fixed points of reference. By points of reference I mean things like our society no longer evaluating things on the basis of their compatibility to Biblical teaching, or Marxist doctrine, or a particular academic authority. (Nor is there any agreement on an established aesthetic quality.) I think this is all right, because instead of reflecting some sort of group unity, it is based on the natural lack of agreement people have.

There are many reasons for writing and reading things, thus people create their reasons why they do so. What is key is that the defense of personal selection comes AFTER enjoying those selections. Or, in a more serious academic context where enjoyment may not be a highly valued quality, it is a logical and/or ideological constancy that predates building a theory. Interestingly, only in specific contexts do people produce defenses for their choices:

academic settings where the construction, workings and effects of textual communication are studied.
cultural debates considering the moral fitness of texts.
publishing industry discussions of texts as business opportunities.
These three settings are occasions where texts are used in conjunction with some other purpose. The people purchasing commercial fiction or writing texts aren't usually doing so according to a theoretical framework, nor are they required to defend them. Instead there is a desire to consume (or produce) a particular sort of construct, and if doing so necessitates an explanation or defense, a person will get one.

Texts are as disparate as the stars in the sky. All quite different, in placement, of various types but little of that is important to people who look up at the night sky. Most people just enjoy the lights, or perhaps use them for navigation. Its the same for books. People study and categorize texts, or just read them without any formal purpose; everyone according to the use they will put the text to.

Any use can be fitting, effective within that persons personal and cultural situation. A person may be interested in the history of some time and place, so the concerns of that place and the beliefs and experience of the author will be useful in understanding a text produced then. After all, people create texts for their own reasons and since the text survived it must have some relevancy or merit. If the persons use is to illustrate the state of society, then a text can be analyzed for a particular viewpoint; gender, race, economic theory. Text itself is just fodder for where ever a persons mind wants to go. Like the trees much text gets printed on, texts get ground up or cut apart and shaped into many uses. The original tree does have an effect on the product, just as the text can only say so much and no further. Wood quality, strength, biological structure (thus color and sound), limit what the results can be. Texts, as trees grow according to their own biology of existence, wild according to the weather, or carefully planted and pruned ones. What is done later with their lumber does not always follow the occasion wherein they where originally formed.

Grady Houger ~ 1184 words.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lemon tree

Thus far in my university experience (6months, 6 classes), I have found the faculty to be fair and knowledgeable when it comes to Christianity as an influential world religion. Being exposed to favorable attitudes toward Christianity from non-believers (most of whom seem to be devout pluralists who will treat any other religion with equal respect) I have noticed how limited my own religious knowledge is outside what I specifically believe.
For instance, when discussing a book’s religious references in a small class group, a Mormon classmate knew quite a bit, but wasn't familiar with the specifics of Catholicism. I knew a little bit of that, but for a separate class project (which I got to use my religious beliefs in) I found I didn't know how to spell Protestant and didn't know what it meant!

Do you know the origin and meaning of Protestant?
Seeing as how I am one, this was a problem. There’s a good article (meaning well designed and understandable) in the online Catholic encyclopedia if you google Protestant.
Basically, during the Reformation the groups formed around teachings against Catholic Church practices of the day were ‘in protest’ to it, so they where the protest-ants. I didn’t realize till I had to spell it that the regional pronunciation of is Prod-ist-ent not Pro-test-int. It’s became a label not a descriptive word.

It was kind of disappointing to be named in opposition to the existence of some other group. I’d rather have a group name that stood on its own principles. Oh well. What I should be more active in is learning the formal positions of other sects and faiths. Within the specific band of Christianity I adhere to I feel well educated. There is lots of historical teaching and evidence to be learned for other positions as well. Some education minded Protestant Evangelical American Christians may know our own beliefs and doctrines well, but it would be good to know other things, such as the religious history of America’s Revolutionary war. I heard an interview on NPR of a book on this topic, and it sounded quite interesting in that a lot of common assumptions about the constitution, the founding fathers, and England aren’t correct. Should I believe that author’s analysis of the origins of religious freedom in America? Not without reading his book, and looking for myself at the original documents.

We should be carful in what we say and believe if we haven’t studied a topic in depth.

Grady Houger - know thy origins

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Can we see our self? Only one narrow prospective directly, the parts our eyes can reach. I can't see my back. I can only see it reflected in something external to me. Fortunately our mirror technology is quite accurate. But for what we are as a nation, or a society, or as human creatures; Stories are that we can look at to see a reflection of what we are.
But how distorted is that story-image of our nature? It may be beautiful, maybe enjoyable, but not accurate.

Grady Houger

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mental Shifts 2.5

In MS1 I started with how surprising it is when an aspect of consciousness changes. The experience current to me is education - bringing new ideas into my awareness - causing me to experience amazement and wonder at connections between symbols and levels of meaning. The perceptual shift leads me to wonder about what exactly are the parts of the mind and how do they operate.

In MS2 I systematically describe the mind.

Memory, senses, thought/imagination correspond to past, present, and future respectively. This is all we have in our heads to work with.

The mind resides in the physical brain, which is biological and chemical, so health and drugs directly affect the mental state.

The metaphor of ‘Mental Space’ is useful to think about thinking. What is being attempted with this writing it to build a model of the mind in words, so that our minds can ‘see’ itself. Because the mind is intangible, and it’s only easy to talk of things as physical, physical-sensing metaphors and language get used.

The whole point of [write/talk]ing about this is to put our thinking quality, which is insensible, in terms that can be sensed (and traded) and thought about. This is so funny that we don’t know how our minds work, so we have to sketch its function in spatial words, then feed that back into the mind to process.

Lastly, if consciousness is ‘space’ then ideas are ‘structures’ within it. Those ideas can be concerning physical objects we sense, or abstract concepts invented by our self, or invented by others and communicated to our mind through symbolic communication. These idea structures get valuation that can be inaccurate and can change.


Now for some clarification.

When we think, we don’t have awareness of our thoughts, we don’t feel them the way we feel a cold swallow of water sliding down the throat (as apposed to a bitter pill which, being broken in half, is also jagged), the mind has no physical senses within it. What it does have is emotion, which is somewhat attached to thought, but thought is also disattached from emotion in that we can think on sad things when we are happy, and remember annoying work to be done when we are feeling relaxed. Emotions only suggest, they do not force the mind into particular thoughts. (This is one reason against recreational drug use which induces overwhelming emotions artificially to the point of impairing judgment.) So while we do not normally think about the mind we are thinking with, if we want to think about how it works, some symbolic model is needed for it to exist and be operated on ‘within mental space’. All we see and sense physically is in this mental space, along with our thoughts. This aspect of everything you experience being ‘in your head’ has a lot of preexisting ideas attached to it, mainly:

‘how do we know anything is real’


‘how can any absolute truth exist or be known if everything we know or can know comes to us in the form of thought and sense impressions, which are variable and untrustworthy?’

These two questions are answerable, but I’d rather ignore them for now. Some may see them as necessary to be answered first before going on, but I would rather not question my own “perception of internal accuracy & validity” for now, later these can be addressed.

My model may be inaccurate, and what I’m proposing is definitely disagreed with by other theories, specifically Freudian Psychoanalysis, which has its own special words for things and says the mind contains unconscious thinking elements. I am no longer convinced of this, but such a discussion will have to be for a later time. Despite possible failings with my model, theoretical discussion is the only way to think about this sort of issue. It is not telling you what is, but conversing about a topic. Essentially, I am writing to see what I think, holding little attachment to it. So if you have additions, corrections and comments, please write.

The last element to be addressed in the mind’s parts is spirit. Physical brain matter and its construction is accurately (to a point) learned about through the scientific method. Logical reasoning, physics and chemistry let us know solid facts about the brain, but many problems arise from ‘Science’ as a cultural institution not telling where fact end and theory begins. That boundary is present for those who look for it, it’s just not spoken in any of the popular sources most people get their science info from. So the spirit is not ‘findable’ and testable using the scientific method. There almost seems to be a limit to logic, and spirituality is somewhat beyond that. I’m not sure, but I’m thinking that spirituality is fundamentally not logical, and a different system must be switched to as some point in understanding that which cannot be observed and evaluated physically.

At any rate, we can say that a moral concept is not a physical object.

So at this point, we have to define the anatomy of an abstract mental concept, one type of those concepts being moral truths.

There are several major current beliefs about the nature of such concepts.

These beliefs can be wrong, having a understandable shape in mental space, but no truth or function in reality.

What is the field in which these things interact?

Physical reality

Spiritual reality

Within mental space we are working with concepts which make claims about how elements of reality relate to each other or other concepts.

One belief system says concepts have some absolute valuation based on how well they describe/explain the operation of reality.

An opposing belief is that any concept exists only in mental space, and can’t be tied to reality.

So concepts are either: true, untrue, partly true, or that no truth exists, all is a personal preference.

But, science provides a method for proving the truth of certain kinds of concepts within a specific framework. Math is the easiest to do this with. Pure concepts that operate reliably in interacting with the physical world. Such tidy examples are rare with other fields.

Can there be a science of moral truth? Not so much. It’s a realm that does not correspond the same way in terms of data collection, data verification, theory validation, experimental reliability, and algorithmic synthesis. This brings up the degree to which scientific principles are engrained and believed in our society. Is morality just too complex to figure out for us, but if we could would it operate on a basis that would fit a scientific framework of equations and repeatable processes? I don’t think so. Physical operations are in relation to physics, chemistry, and mathematical logic. Moral concepts are in relation to God, and or other humans – personally and as institutional groupings. If God or humanity where a force that always acted the same in any identical situation, then a science could be devised, but interaction between us and God is not of formula but as thinking entities interacting according to the attitudes and actions of each other. For us, there is the element of communication, which by the limitations of our physical frame, is inaccurate. Now if God exists, than absolute truth must exist. I’m going to work off that is a given, because I haven’t the capability to prove it at the moment.

So for next time (That being Mental Shifts 3, which may/maynot be tomorrow) the anatomy of a concept and how that relates to our knowledge of morality.

Grady Houger ~ word count: 1271 :-p

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Nowadays, many published authors have blogs. It keeps them in touch with fans, and provides place to say things more wide ranging, casual, and frequently than in novels and book introductions. Blogs can also function as a community meeting place, like a conversation in the corner of a church lobby.

The one author blog I read commented on the release of Anne Rice's new book The Road to Cana, and mentioned how Rice plans to write a new vampire Lestat novel.
There was lots of interesting issues in this blog post in regards to how Anne Rice is practicing her faith, interpreting theology, and how the media reacts to her, but my reaction was to think how kewl it was that Anne Rice may write a vampire story from a Christian prospective. Her historical fiction portraying the life of Christ is interesting, but I don't read those sorts of books.

Now, when I first read and thought the above paragraph, I was going to post a response on that author’s blog, but didn't have time before class. Six hours later, I return to find Anne Rice herself had commented on that blog! Suddenly, I didn't have anything to say. How could my comment about what I think of Anne Rice's work have any sort of place in a forum where the author herself is active? It struck me in that moment what fabulous roles I was giving to authors as a social entity. The blog I was reading is Forensics and Faith By Brandilyn Collins, a successful pro Christian suspense writer. I've posted on her blog for years, fearlessly offering my comments without much thought of my status in the writing community. But status is exactly the issue here. Being in the same 'room' online with Anne Rice is like accidentally finding myself standing in a hallway conversation with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What would you say to the most powerful persons in the US government? Would you feel comfortable commenting on national security or the Iraq war?

That may be a unrealistic depiction of the fame of Anne Rice, but that's how I perceived it. Yet she is as mortal as anyone else, and apparently follows mentions of herself within the writing community. What is fame anyway? Anne Rice has it, I know about her through news articles and pop culture references to her books and I felt I knew enough about her to decide I didn't want to read any of her books and haven't yet. In reality I know nothing about 'her' as a human being, and I don't know anything about the literary qualities of her books. All I know is 'her' as a social entity, a brand. I can't talk to a brand name, I don't have that status. If I was a well known superstar novelist what would be the actual difference in me?

I'm not trying to suggest that all people are equal although they are as human beings. The lesson in my mind is to remember the humanity of people and not just their social image, but also be circumspect about what I blather about on the internet. This isn't a meaningless place where adolescents find new combinations of obscene words to label each other. The internet is our social visibility, as real as any conversation in physical space. I don't want to be the 88th youtube comment saying 'cool vid!!!!1!' The people around us, online and in shoes are our colleagues, friends, neighbors. Wouldn't it be good to talk with care and insight, depth of thought, educated concern? Seeing someone famous shouldn't have to remind me not act like an idiot.

Grady Houger

Friday, February 22, 2008

not cloudy today

I’m working on Mental Shifts part 3, which looks like it need a part 4. But the topic of human consciousness is complex, and I’m thinking up new considerations I hadn’t thought of before. They are all out of order, and are taking a lot of work to connect properly, and fill in the holes. But I am working on it every day, thanks to Kjell’s Facebook response to it. That’s all it takes to get me working, just show some interest and pose a question. It’s just that quality writing takes a level of organization and refinement of argument that I’m not capable of writing in one shot. So daily revision is necessary.

What can be done in one shot is talking about what happened on the bus. I got in and there was a snappily dressed fellow playing a ukulele! It was quite cheery.

Grady Houger

Hi Mom! (and other potentially existant blog reader(s)! ) Remember you can click the word COMMENTS under the post there to leave your 2 cents. Actually, there's a new blogger feature where I an add a button for you to directly phone-call/voicemail me. I don't think I'll bother. I'm terribly inarticulate on the phone and I tend to expect other people to be as well. Writing should be good enought right?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

[insert musical riff here]

I want to get past these difficult times in life.
But what’s more valuable or important, having achievement or being in the experience that teaches us what’s necessary for that achievement?
Maybe this one or the other isn’t something to be decided between. I ask because how should we react in the difficult moments of life? Should we flee and try to remove ourselves from them, or try to understand and appreciate those moments?
The difference is sitting down and crying or climbing the elevator shaft with a broken hand.

Grady Houger ~ sunshine and frowning

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I see a woman collecting pages from the printer; she’s carrying a bag that says “I’m carrying the future in this bag”.
This is true, and interesting to look at the future potential in all our bags and other containers of information. Her bag does contain future thoughts, ideas and work she will produce, but no guarantee that it will be influential or even noticed by a larger population. Everyone here in this computer lab is working on something, and who knows what those individual results will amount to.

The thought of potential effect comes from our base belief about the word Future. The words ‘the future is what I carry and make’ has whatever connotation you give to it, positive or negative.

I see a woman collecting pages from the printer; she’s carrying a bag that says “I’m carrying the future in this bag”.
This is true, and interesting to look at the future potential in all our bags and other containers of information. Her bag does contain future thoughts, ideas and work she will produce, but no guarantee that it will be influential or even noticed by a larger population. Everyone here in this computer lab is working on something, and who knows what those individual results will amount to.

The thought of potential effect comes from our base belief about the word Future. The words ‘the future is what carry and make’ has whatever connotation you give to it, positive or negative.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

being a part

If I take action, I am participating in human society. If I just watch, I remain lonely outside that society. Short periods of rest are good (we all sleep), but prolonged lack of participation makes one irrelevant. People don’t reach outside their society. You could make a case for more inclusiveness, but it’s better to just enter the general community and learn to interact on its terms. There plenty of people will readily turn and talk to you.

Grady Houger ~ talking to myself

Friday, February 15, 2008


I was going to write a third part to the Mental Shifts discussion I’ve been doing, but reading through the past two was too boring. I’ll have to continue that some time later when I’ve got more interest.
What is interesting to people in general are stories. At a simplified level the most compelling stories are about characters (the more well made the better) in conflict of some kind. It can be people against each other, against ideas, against nature, against monsters. There are many lists of these sorts of things; one of the classic ones is the 36 Dramatic Situations. If a teaching of moral philosophy or description of the mind is put into a story that necessitates that information, it will be far more engaging than an essay on the same topic; at least for most readers. I need to learn how to write those. Anyway, today is dancing robots.
First, watch this video:

Then read this comic (be sure to come back, there’s lots of interesting stuff there!):

We will have useful humanlike robots within the next 25 years. Possibly even within the next 10 years.
We need to be ready. This development will probably be a bigger deal than anyone expects. Because we are going to like them. A robot with the same coordination and range of movement as a human will be able to do certain jobs humans had done. Basically, we’ll have expensive, obedient slaves. The other important aspect is bonding. People already like their pets, stuffed animals and cars. Robot integration into society as a servant class is going to be a big deal to the first generation, and once a generation of kids grows up with robots, there will be even more strangeness compared to now. Don’t you like dancing robots? If you had a robot right now, what would you want it to run and get you?
Currently, many people deny a the existence of soul. If a robot can mimic humanity well enough, a portion of people will accept them as equals. On the other hand, they won’t be as mentally capable as humans, I don’t see advances yet in useful artificial intelligence. So these social considerations likely won’t develop into a problem with interaction with another creature, but one of how we will view each other in relating to a new and powerful machine. It is like our views on the treatment of animals. Cruelty is illegal, eating certain animals is not, and many people treat their pets just like people, and project onto their pets emotions and thoughts the pet does not have. The same thing will happen with robots. The technology is currently available to make robots look exactly like humans. Now, pets don’t do much economically. There are some working dogs, and some breeding trade. But for robots, they will be economically valuable, cleaning, picking up trash, functioning as security guards, solders, working in nursing homes, stealing things, selling drugs, and being waitresses.
This is all theoretical now, but you should start thinking about how we will treat robots and more importantly, how we will treat other humans who have different ideas about how to treat robots.

Grady Houger ~ I want one & will be disturbed by it

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mental shifts 2

Of the past we have only memories.
Memories fade, and are modified by later memories and concepts/considerations put upon them. Memories have status, in relation to how often we dwell on them. Memories are linked together by association, and/or chronology. Memories are primarily, so far as we know, stored physically/chemically in your meat brain in patterns or arrangements of according various theoretical structures.

Of the present –which is a most narrow slice of always fleeing awareness – the now instant, for this we only have our senses. Sight, touch, smell, taste, hearing, and the sixth which is a variable, debated, denied sort of intuition or spiritual awareness.

Of the future, our minds can only guess, which is done by an internal function of extrapolation/imagination, which also does many other things. Our minds hold a mental conceptual space, not a physical space but a mental quality that can be described as a space. This is where we actually ‘are’ where we do our thinking, although the actual processing is done by your meat brain. But you don’t have any physical sensation of your meat brain. Blood flow cannot be felt, chemical balances have no dials and readouts, none of the physical aspects of the physical brain are directly sensed by us. The brain has none of the nerves that let the skin sense touch, heat, pain etc. So the thinking operations of the mind are in what we call consciousness, and I use the idea of an imagined space to describe it, but other non-real but metaphorically accurate systems of description can be invented.

So this mental conceptual space is larger and less limited than our senses. We receive sense data, not like computers receive data, but as living creatures receive it, seamlessly jumbled imprecise input. We then project 'out' onto the reality around us our world awareness concept. All we experience is really in our heads. I might see someone next to me shopping for a TV at the bestbuy website, but that image is being processed and made in my brain. Have you ever seen someone sleep with their eyes open? Eyes don’t stop seeing, but when asleep the brain stops processing images, and instead displays dream images it mysteriously creates. Hearing doesn’t stop when we’re asleep. All that info still comes in, but we only wake up when it becomes too loud or certain words are said. One of the evidences of our consciousness of the world being an internal representation is in how easily it can be disrupted chemically. Drugs affect the body, and the mind is a function of the body. All the drugs classified as psychotropic are the ones that strongly affect the mind, causing hallucinations that can be visual, audible, kinesthetic etc. Even getting sick with a bad cold can make a person ‘loopy’ and confuse the senses. Depression, and more severe things such as manic states are not just physical but mental. Even a healthy person within the bounds of ‘normal’ finds their mind affected by the chemical process of emotions. Tired, angry, happy, physically struggling with something, think about how your thought processes are in those states.

When we learn something, those concepts are forming neuron pathways in our brains. (at least that is a main theory believed to be true.) This is the physical connection with concepts, thoughts and the physical body. We understand mentally what has formed there physically, from repeated exposure. But the brain is very plastic, it forgets, and deforms ideas. It can also generate similar structures (if consciousness is a ‘space’ then ideas are ‘structures’) by imagination. This thought creation, synthesis process can be freeform, playful, creating dreams. It can be logical, procedural and also create dreams. Given the forgetfulness factor, repeated constant exposure needed to maintain and fix concepts. The mind ‘space’ we think from can be a blank slate, but usually isn’t, being fulled with immediate concerns and thoughts of what we are about to do.

All that to say that when changes happen, that is when new thoughts and concepts form in your mind through the instruction of others or your own recombination of knowledge, such change is interesting. Positively it is enjoyable, or it could be distressing, but that change is in the consciousness, the virtual workspace of your mind. That’s why people use sayings like ‘expand your mind.’ Society has discovered drugs didn’t work for that; instead drugs encouraged crime, homelessness and mental breakdown. Education is a more traditional and consistent way. The feelings of wonder and seeing everything around in a new way like I described yesterday is the result of a shifting/ destabilization/ enlarging of mental space. Because, those things I see and sense around me are really all in my head, in the mental space where I have concepts and values attached to objects that really have no capacity for emotion. Saying ‘that’s an ugly poster’ is about your valuation of what you perceive as the poster, not the physical object itself. “There is a pretty girl” is a mental concept you may revise depending on what you observe, the change may be in her actions or in your perception, but the place it happens is in your head.

This is an incomplete contemplation. There is still the element of spirit to consider, and a deeper look at how understanding this system of mental makeup affects how we understand reality and our awareness of it. But that will have to be for another day.

Grady Houger ~ Will interest outweigh the boring essay format?

only 924 words!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mental shifts part 1

Eww~! I just saw a guy with his hands in his mouth, then he types on the keyboard. This isn’t his keyboard; it’s in the computer lab. These keyboards are filthy. Any amount of typing makes your fingertips feel GRIMEY. That was the most disgusting thing I’ve seen in a long time. I usually wash my hands after being here, now I always will. And never touch my eyes. Ack.

I have some thoughts; but instead of putting them out as a loose conglomeration of ideas I’ll save them for tomorrow, hopefully I’ll be able to put them in good order.

Today I’m feeling the effects of having learned a bunch of difficult theoretical concepts about how to interpret literature. In general there have been a lot of these moments in the last few days, plus I got a new renter, so mentally life is just shaken up and perceptually shifted. This leaves me with a phenomenon that can be called ‘tripped on knowledge’. It goes like this:
“Woah there’s paint on the walls! Paint is thin! The walls aren’t flat! I’m writing words! Words are symbols! Symbols signify meaning! Meanings of words are a cultural function! “Walls” can be a metaphor for boundaries! If walls are boundaries what is the paint? There’s dust on top of my computer! …” and so on. All the images we see are open to reinterpretation during a perceptual shift.

Such moments are one of the rewards of education, and can contain for more important revelations than what I describe here. I’ve been thinking about changing my minor, and assessing what college really gives a person. You see, much of academic learning is oriented towards learning-as-an-end-in-itself. Knowledge for the sake of knowing about the world. As opposed to knowledge so I can be an expert at a particular job - knowledge to be used for a function. The functional application of knowledge is up to the student, much of academia tries to pretend and keep the image of learning to pursue an ideal wisdom. Learning to make money is opposed to that concept, or at least people feel they are incompatible.
Now, while I would like to sit and consider these lofty concepts, I can’t I need to hurry to run some errands around town before offices close. Conceptual knowledge must bow to necessary chores!

Grady Houger

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

why shoot fish in a barrel - barrel and fish are bigger than you

There is very little wonton, random malicious wrongdoing. Many settings contain a margin of trust that is not exploited except for personal benefit. The opportunity to do something damaging may be present, but it isn't done because it would either give no advantage or harm the setting.
The Example I noticed was here at college. Teachers have mail boxes and also bins on their doors. Many important papers pass through these. Stealing any number of them, either all or a few randomly, would cause stupendous havic for a lot of busy people. No one does this because those who know about it and have the most opportunity are sympathetic parties and wouldn't want the bother it would cause.

People who are truly at odds with the a cultural system and desire to do damage are rarely calm, subtle, and successful. The unhinged and do things like arson, school shootings and suicide. They don't just bend all the unused library bookends. There is a range of anti-social behaviors, with a wide gap between throwing trash on the ground and pipebombs.

Well, I’m not studying sociology so I don’t know what sort of conclusion can be made from this observation. If you have some ideas of where this line of thought can go, please speak up.

I’d like to say thanks to the friends who’ve left some comments recently. It warms the cockles of me heart it does! Thanks for reading!
Now, I got some denials to my statements that ‘I don’t really know what I’m talking about’ and ‘I’m not good writing’. To illustrate my points I’d like to point you to a blog I just found, There’s an ideal example of insightful commentary and clear, readable arguments! Stanly Fish is no beginner like me; he’s 70, and the most famous theorists of literary criticism still alive. I had a whole class build on one of his academic essays!

Grady Houger ~ I don’t have a cool name like Fish, but hopefully I can make something of mine.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Stream of Consciousness

The possessing of items is enjoyable. This is the same for physical objects, like a coin, or mental objects like this idea.

I was looking at a hi-rez, pdf map of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. I was struck by a feeling of confusion; this place is almost as real as any in physical space. That's disturbing. I know the geography of Middle Earth better than many places on my earth. It's hard not to say that Middle Earth is real.

Plenty of stories use the idea that our perception of reality isn't reality. That perception is groomed and spun, that anyone with power and true info transmits the messages they want people to believe, not what they believe or what reality really is.
Does this happen, is this true, is this possible?
Do we have any accurate data on a successful conspiracy? Any data on successful public deception?
People may try to lie, cover and market, but the resolution of public perception is too fine grained to wholly believe the screen is a window.
Of course I am ignoring those people who I see in the computer labs, I read over their shoulders, observing them look up articles on Brittney Speers latest news, and equally vapid other media-sluts with less valuable names. These people are the unthinking cannon fodder of our information age.

On related note, I'd like to admit I struggle with feelings of superiority. Really, I'm very interested in reading about celebs, and I like listening to the latest pop music. It’s just that I don't like liking popular things; I haven't given up fighting against my interest.
Hip-hop-pop sounds good. That doesn't make it good. It may vary well be, that is I'm operating on the assumption, that it is candy poison.
Interesting that appealing style is separated experientially from moral content.
I may believe in certain principles, but they are not a strict action protocol. I am not compelled to act what I believe, there are other appealing forces demanding to be participated in; like a mashup tune of Daft Punk and techno, the one with the Nietzsche slogan in it.

Then I just heard these guys:
"we're not sayn were better than anybody, we're just iller. there’s a difference." - Iller Than Theirs

Isn't that what most of us believe about ourselves? Grady's not better than you, He's just totally cooler. I don't believe this. But I feel it occasionally.

Grady Houger

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I've heard tell thar's actually some people readin' me blog.
Hopefully it's apparent that I don't know much, but in case you are reading a different interpretation into these texts, let me tell you: I barely know what I’m talking about, most of the time I just make something up as I go along. The rest of the time, I have I idea to communicate, and mumble through it poorly. So if you have any comments, corrections and disagreements I’d like to hear it! Saying something would also let me know someone’s actually there; I run this blog on Facebook and Blogger, and neither of them tells you traffic data. Some day I may move this blog to my personal website for statistics and advertizing, but that would be when I get closer to economic popularity.

A lot of blogs are written with reader awareness in mind; they talk to the reader and are open to interaction. I’ve been writing this without any of that. I didn’t want to sound like all the other chatty bloggers talking about what they’ve been doing. I especially didn’t want to be saying ‘hi folks! Well today…’ if there wasn’t anyone there. That would be pathetic. Like a live TV show but nobodies watching. Well, TV doesn’t allow viewers to respond, that’s why the internets better. So if what I say makes you think of something, don’t be afraid to say it!

Writing this is fun, even though I disappoint myself with poor English composition and hazy arguments. I have the basic ability to think up ideas, and the desire to write about them, but the quality aspect is what writers call ‘the craft’. I’ve never liked that term much, mainly since Wiccans call their magic ‘the craft.’ Writing isn’t magic. The quality aspect is mainly in the mechanics of grammar, structure, and description. Anyway, that stuff is boring and to be avoided by most people.
At any rate, I plan on saying something provocative tomorrow, so I’ll go work on that and hopefully you can comment on it.

Grady Houger ~ needs to earn his fans

Thursday, February 07, 2008

its not enough to like stuff

It’s not enough to like stuff. Stuff doesn't do anything. It’s just a starting point, what you like seeps in to you, and has to come out. Feeding aptitudes isn’t enough. More has to come of it. Make things. Being a fan is no good. Participate!

There are so many interests that prove this false. But not really. You can enjoy reading about mountain climbing and enjoy the stories without ever climbing maintains. True. But you are not mountain climbing, your a reader. that’s what you’re doing.

I like unpopular music. I need to make it. I like reading. I need to write. What I realized is how lousy I'm doing as a writer. I'm not committed, I’m learning how to write, and it takes ALL a persons effort. Doing well at something usually means devoting yourself to it, letting it consume you. I can't be a vapid consumer of interesting things. I have to give up stuff in order to make something. If I be a writer, I won't be something else. By being something you give up the other things you could be.

Grady ~ isn't anything at the now

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

draft on coping

A theme in science philosophy and science fiction is a humans inability to fully comprihend reality; particularilty the vastness of space, the enormity of humanities frailness and limitations. Now, scientific thinkers discount religion fo various -sometimes fair- reasons, but authentic Christianity is what I believe enables a person to face those enormous concepts without going mad. The scientific consept that we are insignifigant, small, fragile creatures in a vast and pearilous universe is not herisy. I can honestly say I am a weak and inconsiquential individual who does not matter. All sorts of statements can be true, it just depends on what your solving the equasion for. purpose and meaning in life is going to be a bit bleak in a humanist system. Scripture definately teaches human frailty and how vast other forces are, most particularily God. Its alright though. Instead of being small and weak in a system of nature that is unthinking, uncareing, and ready to destroy you; a Christian can be weak and small in a world overseen by a supreme power who personally cares. God doesnt remove problems, He redefines them into understandible processes. A person is insignifigant only in relation to what a person considers important. If thats fame, power and such, its easy to not matter. I believe purpose can be something more attainable, like knowing God and obeying him.

Grady Houger

Monday, February 04, 2008

refining thoughts about capitalism

Been thinking more about post-capitalism. The fact is, I know very little about the elements of capitalism, and less about systems that may come after.
I think what I am really wondering about is not all of capitalism and other economic systems (though I want to know more, if I can make the time to read such.) it’s the issue of purpose in economic pursuit.
Capitalism does include concepts of private ownership, trade between private parties without restriction, non-regulated supply and demand. I like these ideas.
What I don't like is the idea of earning money for its own sake, becoming wealthy just to enjoy an expensive lifestyle. Also, the idea of a corporation being its own self serving entity, who’s only object is growth is -in my opinion- a dangerous creature; there needs to be humans with a moral agenda in control of a corporation. If it is guided only by appetite, it will be a monster, not a beneficial organism.
Likewise an individual (myself) should have objectives beyond earning and enjoyment.

With this in mind, there are many interesting corporate and personal goals that to consider beyond escalating consumption. Without profit as an objective, consider a company that spent its earnings on its employees. Improved health and benefits packages, nicer offices and perks such as a free employee restaurant.
Or a company with a finite lifespan, designed and chartered to close in 40 years. At that point all assets would be liquidated, the value divided between the influential employees. They would have an interest in providing continued service for customers, and would likely reform immediately, and that would be the point. Revised leadership and rules. Like the idea that if an individual moves every few years, they become efficient at packing and don't own extraneous stuff. A company that had to die an be reborn every ten years would likely have lively and competent office management skills. (A little like term limits for politicians. It would be wishful thinking to imagine such a system for bureaucratic offices.)

I do think there will be more to say about this!

Grady Houger ~ purpose beyond money

Thursday, January 31, 2008

post-capitalism and beyond

Theres a componant of doing somehow missing from education. I think it's the space between thinking you knowing something and actually knowing it. Much info can be known about, but those consepts aren't fully known. Not 'till the've been tested and lived from multiple angles.

The reading material in two of my classes has concerned slavery. One of the articles I read was an interesting one that discussed a slaves ideals and longing in terms of capitalism. Slavery was based on the idea of owning people, you protect and manage your slaves, and they do the work in gratitude of being cared for. But people are evil so this didn't work out for most slaves. Capitalism is based around volitional contracts and market economics. You mutually agree to work in exchange for compensation. Or trade goods for money. This has worked better, but is still hampered by the human desire to cheat others. I think that the problems are mainly moral, but it will be interesting to see what economic system will replace capitalism. This seems to be in progress, only time will tell.

What I have realized is that people who become famous for influential works create them from an environment that is ripe for that new idea. Darwin wrote Origin in a climate that was discussing those issues of biological and social change. So look around for what you are in place to suggest!

Grady Houger ~ wants to earn money

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I've been reading a lot of depressing science fiction, for class and in what I've had available for fun. One topic that came up was how a person, when suddenly bereft of their computerized tools, isn't the person they where before. Their identity and skills are tied to those things. So yesterday one of my classes was canceled. This was nice since it gave me more time to finish a due project, but since I wasn't in that class, I couldn't remember when my next class was! It didn't take long to remember, but there certainly is a part of memory that gets stored not in facts but in procedures. This is a known phenomenon where place memory isn't accessible to random access memory. It's probably because of how much info we need to remember these days. I can't really say if its bad or not.

What is bad is not getting enough sleep! I got nine hours today, and feel much more capable than yesterday.

Grady Houger ~ lots of carefully scheduled homework

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


What's there to say? Nothing seems interesting today.


Monday, January 28, 2008

more bus stories to come

I have a lot of little bus stories. I'll be telling them, especially on days when I can't think of something better. I will be using the bus alot, especially since my front tires haven't been staying inflated.
Today on the bus:
I wore brown and camo today, and the bus driver almost missed me. Talkative riders joked about that.
Go work hard on whatever is your metaphorical annotated bibliography that is due tomorrow!
Grady Houger

Friday, January 25, 2008

did you know outside the sun is shining

Well, I was going to write more about cigarettes and government roles, in that people use things like cigarettes and alcohol to kill themselves, and it is a fairly standard belief that government is authorized to make decisions about mortality. Homicide is illegal, it is a direct ending of life. That aspect of direct and purposeful death by another is why I believe the government would not be out of place to make abortion illegal. Cigarettes and alcohol on the other hand, are gradual and self inflicted personal choices, which do not necessarily end in death. So something dangerous, but gradual and variable should remain a personal freedom.
Should a woman have the personal freedom to choose abortion? I do not think so. To end someone elses life is not for a private citizen to decide. Would you support a beauroh of murder permits, so that people could apply for permission to kill someone they did not want around? That would at least be under the law. Instead, I think having a child is a role only available to a woman. If a woman does not want to participate in bearing a new person, then she should not participate in creating one. But if she does, it is a person, or will soon be one, and she has no right to kill another person.
I started by saying I was going to write about this, and did despite the reason that was going to dissuade me, which is still a present problem to this moment. You see, all the normal computer labs where full, so I am at a computer in the language lab. First, someone started watching the movie "Shall We Dance" on the projector, and now, a class has started, and it is not in English.
I do not like awkward situations sam-I-am!
Grady Houger ~ is preparing to flee

Thursday, January 24, 2008


So how about cigarettes?
It's nasty to walk through someones plume of exhaust.
Some people think smoking should be banned in outdoor public areas.
While I would personally enjoy that, I can't get over the issue of personal freedom.
Should the government make it illegal to use a legal product?
Should people be allowed to make individual choices, or should social preferences be enforced on everyone?
What do you think?
Grady Houger

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I got nothin'. I feel terrible.
Came down with a flu, but thankfully I'm not throwing up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

remembering to live well

It was worth spending a $100 on gas to go see a group of the people who made me a better person. I immensely enjoyed the alumni reunion. It reminded me that people and interaction are what's necessary to fight of grey depressing hopelessness. Relationships give context and purpose: space in which to act on lofty abstract principles. Both are necessary, without reasoned understanding, there is no purpose to interaction, just emptyheaded silliness. With no interaction there is no context for principle to be meaningful. By itself it can only be empty madness or highlevel math.
So Together therein lies a meaningfull and satisfying life.
Now, if I drove a car that got 40mpg instead of 19, It would have cost $55, even though 40mpg cars are often desel costing 30c more.
Ah well, can't enjoy life if I live for money.
Grady Houger ~ getting sick, and reading Descartes discuss the mind's separation from the body

Friday, January 18, 2008

limits of comprehension

If someone understands something, it is a gift from God. Whether they know that origin or not.
Nor can thought be separated from the biology of the moment, but concepts must be carried through many cycles - seasons and the tempers of the blood - to be fully understood. Like trees and ermines, seeing them in one season is not enough to know them, you must know how they are in all the seasons. Likewise for the concepts that exist most wholly in the abstract -in God- we cannot know grace, mercy, and judgment except in how it is in the various seasons of life, in good times and foul.
Doubt is one of those transiant humors, but to be a doubter is a conclusion presented too soon.
Grady Houger
Blogger now has right-to-left text capibility, if you switch the language setting to Arabic, Persion or Hebrew. This is great, because changing prospective is beneficial; It lets you think about ordinary things in a new way. This is one of the fundimental goals of poetry. I don't have poetry to show you, but I can make this prose look funny!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Whats it take to be a really great person?
You have to be above and beyond the efforts of most other people.
While I don't know If I can be great I have to try. To try and strive is the least we can do, it is our duty seeing as how we have been permitted to exist.
Being great is also something we cannot expect to attain. It should be our intention not to be disappointed. The striving is the object, not the destination. Where we end up is out of our control, God and nature* decide our end.

If we cannot find satisfaction in the results of our labor (for it is a fiction to think so, and such illusionary satisfaction is far off and will be brief if it can be attained) that what should we rest our mind in? Let them rest in the goodness of God. Trusting in God is not the end but the place to hang our hopes.
So if we need not strive and worry in life seeking after hope and rest, what should we do with our time? Pursue greatness. Not for pride but to create something worthwhile.
After death can we say anything better than "I was useful."?
This does not oppose what a Christian should seek in life. Look again at what the Bible recommends we do: It does not say to rest in any sort of spiritual satisfaction. Nor does it say that believing is our goal. Believing is the beginning; our instructions are to obey. The activities of obedience are all the things at which we can strive for greatness.

So smile on those around you, that they may learn to smile as well, invite in strangers, fellowship with friends, learn deep that you may be useful and amazed, build for joy, work with all your might for that is the most noble thing to do.

Grady Houger ~ You really need to read Pensees

*God and semi-random chance (nature (chaos, which we glance into with chaos theory and imagination, it must be a natural function subservient to God along with the rest of nature. Certainly a identifiable category which seems to gain its own quality due to its size and power)) decide our end.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Worried about function

It is distressing to find that I cannot think clearly. There is much work to do, reading philosophical and literary works, writing about them, but I am distracted and tired. I want to think my way out of his problem but haven't the strength. Times like this are when I wonder if I'm fit for scholarly endeavors. Just because I like reading the books assigned for my English major classes, doesn't mean I'm good at understanding and writing about such things. But I'll just keep working on it, can't say I'm done for yet just because I've never succeeded in the past.

This may be a problem that is not intellectual, but physical. If I get a bread maker recipe then I can take sandwiches to school instead of going hungry. And even though it bothers me to take caffeine pills every day, I can't afford drinks, and have yet to find some alternative to alertness.
It disturbs be how people laugh and joke about caffeine, coffee and energy drinks. Maybe that's just their mechanism for not being disturbed themselves, laughter negates and covers the fact that most of the nation is on a stimulant drug. While there are no obvious side affects physiologically, its a statement that I, as a human being cannot be at my best capability without some external agency. If you can't trust your mind, how are you going to figure things out?

And there lies the problem, and I can't think well enough at the moment to rethink this issue, and edit it to become a more clear, orderly argument, following the implications and results of each clause. We'll see what I can do tomorrow.

Grady ~ bleh

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Something to try eating

I have been experimenting with breakfast foods. A batch of waffles turned out very dry and hard but not burned. Not much fun to eat, but the taste was fine. What would happen if I used such a waffle as bread for french toast? The result was edible, but needs to be refined to become delicious. I've learned to make waffles where their consistency turns out the way I want, which is a function of heat and timing and making the batter in a fit ratio. But my french toast batter needs work. Just beat up eggs isn't quite right.

The french toasted waffles cooked without burning, but where a bit tough. The heat does not cook the inside at the same rate as the surface - might need to use a lid. I wonder what sort of flavorings would work for french toast; cinnamon and vanilla are the traditional ones, but there must be others that would be fitting. I've been putting ginger in waffle batter, it takes the plainness out of them, but is not unobstructive.

More experimenting should produce something worthwhile. Any suggestions?

Grady Houger ~ enjoys the useful science of food

You should try it yourself!