Archive Page 2

• The Future Present

Everything I have ever envisioned about the concept of “the future” as a high-tech fast-paced environment pretty much boils down to whatever was done to illustrate the year 2015 in the film Back to the Future 2. When I first saw it at the age of 9, I thought “wow, that really does look like 2015,” as if I had somehow already seen 2015 and had a logical basis for that reaction.

Since then, I have been awaiting “the future” to align itself with Back to the Future 2. When 2015 comes, you will find me disappointed when there are no skyways, self-drying jackets, or hover boards.

The self-lacing Nikes that were made as replicas of the ones in Back to the Future nearly appeased me, but they didn’t even have a self-lacing mechanism. Since they were auctioned off for between $3500 and $10,000 to certain pre-approved buyers, they were not available to the proletariat anyway. So, as far as I’m concerned, it practically didn’t even happen.

Since the present looks nothing like what I think “the future” should look like, I am quite frustrated and disappointed.

I have had the opportunity to watch the Internet go from the dial-up days when you had to wait to use it when too many users were on at the same time or someone was making a phone call to something more instantaneous and rich with content. And the Internet’s great, but that’s pretty much the best thing we have.

There are other things that we don’t have or still use that make me think that, given our capacity for advanced technology, we are still way too primitive.

I can’t believe we still use baggage carrousels. Want to know how to get free shit? Go to baggage claim at the airport. You will find suitcases full of free clothes, jewelry and electronics, and you can take as many as you like in front of everyone. No one will stop you. We have x-ray machines checking the insides of the items we bring into the airport at security, as well as checking the insides of us in some airports, yet when we go to collect our luggage after a flight, the airports are relying on the honor system. The only time I’ve ever used that baggage ticket given to me with my boarding pass was when the airline lost my luggage, and there’s not much the airline will do if it’s too late.

I’ve written before about how difficult it is having human ears because we can’t close them the way we do other parts of our body like eyes and mouths. We still don’t even have ear plugs that work.

And there’s a series of other fairly simple, yet essential things that we should have by now that just haven’t even been invented.

Do I really have to do everything?

*Image from The Sydney Morning Herald.

• Childhood Misconceptions that Distorted My Worldview — A Special Series — Part III: I Caused an Earthquake with My Nintendo

This post is to continue a series that I started a while back on how my flawed ways of viewing the world as a child carried over into my thoughts and actions later in life. Previously, I mentioned that as a child I erroneously thought that people could universally claim sanctuary in places of worship, and that Jerry Seinfeld was a robot monster.

I also thought that I caused tectonic motion with my Nintendo.

I was a kid who grew up on video games, before video games started having complicated controllers with a hundred buttons and graphics so clear and realistic you can see the birthmark on the heroine’s protuberant cleavage.

I was an owner of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, NES, and the Super Mario Brothers games were my favorite.

It was fairly common to spend what could be considered the length of a work day to most adults taking turns with friends at two-player games, with Super Mario Brothers and no other game.

One day in the summer, I sat on the floor of my family’s living room with two neighborhood friends, playing the first Super Mario Brothers game to be released on NES.

It was my turn. I controlled Mario. People whose house it is don’t have to be Luigi. I was playing in the first world, second level. The dark level that takes place in a cave and has dark music and grayish blue bricks and an echo.

A pro, I passed the level the secret way—a secret everyone knew—by breaking the overhead bricks that bordered the top of the screen and making Mario walk across them to the end.

I reached the secret Warp Zone.

Given the choice of skipping the remainder of World 1 to warp to World 2, 3, or 4, I was greedy and ambitious enough to choose World 4. The most difficult of the three worlds, and the one that would help me reach the end of the game the fastest. The one where in the first level, that asshole bad guy sits up in a cloud hovering above Mario, following him around and dropping spiky creatures on him that can only be killed with a Fire Flower.

I moved Mario toward the green pipe with the ‘4’ above it. I made him jump. He stood above the pipe. I eagerly took the plunge; I pushed the down button to make Mario enter the pipe to World 4.

At that instant, the floor jerked, and then there was a rattle throughout the house. The floor shook slightly, and then the shaking increased. The cupboards in the kitchen fell open and then slammed themselves repeatedly. The dishes and cups clattered together.

My friends and I jumped to our feet from the floor and ran to hide underneath the dining table. Rocking, I held tightly onto one of the table legs to keep my tiny frame from flying out from where I was kneeling on the unstable floor.

Eventually, the shaking stopped. A few last jolts from the aftershocks, and then the ground went quiet. We gingerly emerged again.

I was plagued with fear and guilt. I had made a grave, Icarian mistake. My pride had been tested, and I had failed. I had flown too close to the sun, and with the melting of the wax affixing my wings, I had fallen. I should have known that if I wanted to reach World 4, I had to work for it. I had to earn it by playing all the levels from the beginning of World 1. No taking shortcuts with warping.

My reaction to these events was avoidance. I wasn’t sure whether it was okay to play Nintendo again right away. In due course I went back, trying other games. And then for a while, I played Super Mario Brothers, but I just didn’t want to play World 4. After several months, I came around to test warping to World 2, and to World 3, but never to World 4. Warping to World 4 caused earthquakes.

I’m not sure when I finally gathered the courage to try warping to World 4 again, but it was only when I held my breath and warped and an earthquake didn’t subsequently happen that I was able to remove this causality from my brain.

*Images from Video Games New York, Chris Cross Media, Games Radar, and NES Maps.

• Application Forms

I have had to go through loads of bureaucracy for various life events recently. Applying to university, applying for funding, applying for a student visa, applying for identity documents, registering to vote through embassies (I’m a dual citizen so I get to do many things twice, including voting for two Presidents this year).

Getting my student visa alone cost several liters of my sanity, or whatever sanity is measured in. It must be some sort of liquid measurement though, right?

God, I can’t even tell this story because it’s so fucking boring. No one wants to hear or read about someone’s visa application issues. Even though when you’re in it, it feels like an eventful, heart-pounding debacle, but recounting what happened is mind-numbing.

I couldn’t get some very specific code from a very specific institution that only exists for providing this very specific code, which only exists for getting this very specific type of visa, and I am writing about it? How perfectly fascinating. Allow me to hang myself from my fingernails.

I will just say that a complication caused a delay in the processing of my visa, and that getting all the shit together for the visa to successfully be processed in time for the start of my PhD program was hellish in a really boring sort of way. I had to postpone my flight, which was like, “AAAAAHHHHH FUCK YOU SHOWER OF CUNTS” on the day it happened, but “yawn” when I write about it in a fucking blog.

I’m finding that most adulthood problems are like this; they bring you near death, but the way it happens is so mundane.


…Quietly fill out a form.

An excess of events like this in recent months this has broken me. Now whenever I need to apply for anything that involves trying to figure out my tax information, or providing references, or some other information that is not as immediately obvious as my birthday and address, I stop and think of all the things I’d rather be doing than this.

I would rather vacation in Rapeville, Democratic Republic of the Congo. I would rather watch all the seasons of Heroes in one sitting. I would rather snort a line of wasabi. I would rather hold a dollop of horseradish mustard on my tongue for several hours. I would rather fight on the front lines of an illegitimate war that unilaterally flouts international humanitarian law than have to fill out another such form.

• The Woman Who Tried to Block Me from Changing Lanes in Beverly Hills (A Missed Connection Open Letter)

I’m currently visiting California, and I write to you from there now.

Yesterday I was stuck in horrible, unexplained traffic in Beverly Hills, nowhere near the freeway. I was driving in the right lane and found that well ahead of me, there was a car completely stopped and seemingly parked in more than half of my lane. I signaled in advance to move left and change lanes.

You were in a dark grayish green minivan and when you saw me signaling you inexplicably sped up to try to block me from changing lanes.

I know your type. You’re stuck in traffic, yet you have to “win” and “get there” first even though you’re just going to wind up slamming on the brakes at the last moment, and you won’t actually get anywhere any faster because you’re STUCK IN TRAFFIC. In other words, a fucking idiot.

I’m a polite person, I stop to let old men cross the street. But I used to drive in Cairo and this is LA, where rude drivers are still relatively courteous. You can’t block me from changing lanes. I stuck my nose into your lane and forced my way in anyway. It’s not cutting you off if I signaled well ahead of time and you just decided to be a cunt. Signaling isn’t asking for permission. It’s being predictable enough to let you know my next move. You’re lucky someone in LA did that for you.

You got your panties in a twist and angrily honked at me when I started moving into your lane. I continued slowly moving in until I was fully in the lane and safely away from driving into the parked car. You furiously honked and tailgated me.

I think we can both agree that driving into a parked car that you saw a long time ago is a pretty stupid thing to do, right? The owner of the vehicle would have been pretty damn upset if I’d just smashed into it because someone I’ve never met has some unfathomable association with allowing people to change lanes ahead of her and superiority. Objectively speaking, it is worse to deliberately drive into a parked car than it is to change lanes. Perhaps if I had dangerously swerved into your lane without warning, you would have a reason to be upset, but we both know that’s not what happened.

That is why as the light changed to yellow, I deliberately braked and very slowly crossed the intersection. I didn’t speed up until I made sure I was out of the intersection and you ran the red light.

You moved left and changed lanes, intent on cutting me off as “revenge.” I followed the car ahead of me closely, inches from its bumper because I knew you didn’t actually have a practical need to be directly in front of me in that particular lane. You couldn’t cut me off, and as your lane moved faster than mine, you had to move along and then change lanes several cars ahead before finally turning right. I passed you and said goodbye with my middle finger, but I never even caught your name.

There was a camera at the intersection that surely captured you running the red light, so if you ever see this I would love it if you could just follow up in the comments section and tell me more about yourself, where you went to school, where you like to eat, how much your ticket cost and whether it came with any traffic school. I hear you can do traffic school online now, so hopefully you’ll be able to follow me on Twitter and have something fun to do while you learn about defensive driving or whatever.

• Rooms Without Windows

You know what else is a room without windows? Motherfucking prison. Human rights literature frequently classifies prisons with poor human rights standards as lacking proper ventilation. Why the fuck is it okay for offices and educational institutions to do this when it’s not even okay for prisons?

Sitting in a room without windows with other people increases the room temperature and results in inhaling pieces of them. I don’t care how much you vacuum the fuck out of a carpet, if there are no windows in a room then you’re just moving people’s skin cells around with the dust.

When I’ve been in a room without windows for too long, my throat gets sore. And I start sneezing and coughing up the other people in the room. Because dead skin cells have been fucking detonated into the air with a vacuum cleaner like a physical form of the foul historical annals of everyone who has ever been in the room, and they have traveled through my respiratory system.

My suburban elementary school was in a building with classrooms that had no windows. I got sick pretty much every week. Chicken pox fucking tore through our school like the motherfucking black plague. So did lice. That’s worse than a prison with poor human rights standards; that’s like a prison with poor human rights standards from the motherfucking medieval times.

Why the fuck would anyone ever do this? Windows aren’t hard. They’re negative space. They’re just a lack of wall. How hard is it to make a fucking hole?

Every crowded room without a window has at least one person who doesn’t shower enough or has smelly feet or farts a lot or whatever, and there’s really nothing like a fucking hot fart in a hot fucking poorly ventilated room to make you want to jump out the window except there FUCKING ISN’T ONE.

I wrote this post while sweating in a muggy windowless room full of people after I gave up hope in trying to follow whatever the meeting was about because I could barely see in front of me anymore. A bit of in medias res participatory blogging for you.

*Photo from Stuff.

• The Number Two Taboo

“Everyone poops,” blah blah blah, yeah right. No one is that mature and nonchalant about twosies. Why must we humans complicate something that all animals do? Now, I will be the first to say that I really cannot talk about Number Two with anyone, not even doctors. But my mind does boggle at why it has to be that way. I am not saying that I would prefer the state of things to be that anyone can pop a squat wherever they like in public and just let it go, like other animals, because that is just not sanitary. I like sanitary. But we can’t even talk about it. It’s traumatizing.

Three years ago when I was still living in Egypt, I took a trip to the US and Canada. The night before I left Egypt, I had a salad at The Bakery, a restaurant I would come to boycott after this salad. I came down with some sort of stomach virus that basically caused me to have what I cannot refer to any more politely than “frequent explosive diarrhea” for almost the entirety of the three weeks I was gone. In its first days I was going pretty much every 10 to 20 minutes.

Besides the stomach virus itself, writing about this is not the most traumatizing aspect of this. It’s the fact that while I was in Canada, my parents had me talk to a doctor whom they know personally over the phone about my frequent explosive diarrhea.

I now think that four degrees of separation are minimal when discussing medical conditions involving poo.

I described my symptoms and was recommended some medications. We discussed the precise details of the condition of my explosive diarrhea. We talked about the frequency, the consistency, the appearance, and we compared and contrasted this with normal bowel movements. The doctor laughed at me for avoiding coffee which is a diuretic, which sounds like diarrhea, but diuretics make you pee. Still, I defy anyone not to poo after drinking lots of coffee.

This was less humiliating than it would have been in person since we were talking over the phone. I took comfort in this, as with most embarrassing medical discussions, and that I would never see or talk to the doctor again.

What I didn’t know was that the next day, I would meet this person face-to-face at a gathering my family had with some relatives and friends. A personal, social non-clinical setting. I was then asked the paradoxical question “how is your diarrhea?” by dozens of people, many of whom I had never met in my life.

How are you supposed to answer that? “It’s good.” Good at being diarrhea? Bad because it’s good at being diarrhea? Good because it’s no longer explosive diarrhea, so it’s not actually diarrhea anymore and it’s just regular poo? “My diarrhea is poo, thanks for asking.”

More recently, during my trip to Egypt last month, I also became deathly ill and bedridden with some sort of stomach flu. I thought it was food poisoning because I had both diarrhea and nausea that I thought would turn into vomiting, but then I had a mysterious fever as well.

Again, my mom asked a doctor–who is my aunt–about my symptoms. Then she relayed a question to me, which she said was “purely scientific,” about the way it smelled, as if some particularly illuminating description of that would explain what was wrong with me. It just smells like, you know, regular diarrhea. Not really spicy or teriyaki diarrhea, just original diarrhea. If you smell closely, it might vaguely resemble the enchilada I had for dinner, but mostly it smells like shit because I shat it.

I may not be able to face many of you after posting this, but that is exactly what I am talking about here. The fact that now that after forcing myself into this traumatic public discussion, I am embarrassed about it, much unlike a discussion about pee would be.

Lots of people talk about pee explicitly all the time. I live-tweeted a pee emergency not long ago, but maybe I’m no longer the best example of someone who has shame.

Many ladies say “I have to pee,” specifying what they’re going to do in the bathroom in a way that they never would if they had to poo. In fact, any lady who says “I have to pee again” any less than 15 minutes after using a bathroom actually pooed the first time she went, but she’ll never admit it.

Unless that lady is me, of course. Because ladies don’t poo.

*Image from Once Upon a Potty by Papa K.

• Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution and Those Who Ignore Maikel Nabil

In Egypt, a now 26 year-old called Maikel Nabil criticized the military in his blog and was consequently detained for libel. He is on his 42nd day of hunger strike in protest of his three-year sentence and lack of fair trial. Although he’s dying, the authorities won’t let his family take him to the hospital for medical attention.

Maikel Nabil

Egyptians have been striking against a lot of causes and “causes” since the former President stepped down. There have been several thousand arrests and military trials of civilians since January of this year. Usually if someone hot and attractive and Twitter-famous is arrested and detained for a few hours, people protest and tweet really hard. Not sure about the efficacy of the tweeting, but the military government has succumbed to a few of these protests by releasing those sexy people.

Maikel Nabil has not had as much support because he is an atheist and pro-Israel–two unpopular stances in a mainly religious, pro-Palestine society. He has been known to express controversial views in his blog, and apparently this seems to be enough for some people to ignore his unfair detention and critical condition.

Fuck those bitches and hoes.

A couple of months ago for shits and giggles, I sent the Egyptian Ministry of Justice an email about Article 2 of the Constitution. It’s not directly related to Maikel’s case, but I suppose the content of it should also be flung at those Egyptians who cherry-pick their so-called advocacy of human rights based on their bullshit personal prejudices. I’ll let you know if the MOJ ever responds:

Click to enlarge

It isn’t the job of protestors to get Maikel out of detention. That’s the military government’s responsibility. Since the military isn’t doing that, the people who stand up nearly every weekend, sometimes in the middle of the night, occasionally risking their lives telling the military that what they do is not okay should also be behind the dying kid who wrote a dumb blog like this one and got three years for it. Some of them already do that, but not enough. If inane religious biases, or political ones, impede that support, then those people should receive a sticky salty dickslap across their stupid face.

Let this post be that dickslap: the law doesn’t give a fuck about your feelings.

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