December 23, 2005

LinkNews Digest [12/23/2005]

Politicians are Against Spam...Unless It's Theirs

MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida's attorney general has spearheaded an aggressive campaign against unsolicited e-mails, or spam. But as a candidate for governor, he appears to be generating some unwanted Internet clutter himself.

Charlie Crist was a staunch defender of a tough anti-spam law passed by the state legislature last year, under which violators can be fined up to $500 for every e-mail they send. But a report in Thursday's St. Petersburg Times said Crist, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, had annoyed some residents of the state by sending them unwanted e-mails promoting his candidacy and soliciting campaign donations.

Crist was not immediately available for comment. But Vivian Myrtetus, a spokeswoman for his gubernatorial campaign, denied that he was somehow holding himself to different standards than other e-mailers. "This is not spam. This is truthful, it's straight forward. We're honest. To be spam it has to be, under Florida law, defined as being deceptive," Myrtetus. (LINK )

Disturbed Fan Gets Restraining Order Against Letterman

David Letterman has been temporarily restrained by a woman who believes that he torments her over the airwaves using a secret code.

New Mexico resident Colleen Nestler filed court documents late last week, alleging that Letterman has been using code words, gestures and "eye expressions" for more than 10 years to convey his desire to marry her and train her as his cohost.

Letterman's lawyers have claimed Nestler's complaints are "without merit" and have asked Sanchez to quash the order.

In her letter to the court, she claims she began sending Letterman "thoughts of love" after he began hosting The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS in 1993. "Dave responded to my thoughts of love, and, on his show, in code words & obvious indications through jestures [sic] and eye expressions, he asked me to come east," she wrote.

Letterman upped the ante, she claimed, when he asked her to be his wife shortly before Thanksgiving in 1993. In a teaser for his show, Letterman jokingly said, "Marry Me, Oprah," which Nestler rapidly deduced was a message intended for her. "Oprah had become my first of many code names," she wrote. "...[A]s time passed, the code-vocabulary increased & changed, but in the beginning things like 'C' on baseball caps referred to me, and specific messages through songs sung by his guests, were the beginnings of what became an elaborate means of communication between he and myself." (LINK )

College Christmas List: Shocking Guns


Running around like a couple of kids going "bang bang" with laser guns is, well, quite fun. But where's the fear? Where's the adrenalin?

Well, this Shocking Guns kit adds that vital kick. Two players, two chunky guns, and two 'target' plates you wear on your chest are all the kit you need. Now when you shoot your mate (and you better make sure it's that way round), instead of there just being a lame beep, your mate gets an electric shock through the handle of their gun.

There are two levels of shock - wimp or tough guy - and once you've zapped the other person five times, they're out. The guns are auto re-load, and built really sturdily with long range, super accurate power shock beams. If you thought paint-balling was nerve-wracking then you just have to try this. (LINK )

Army Officer Blings Herself Out with Iraq Funds

An Army lieutenant colonel who received the Bronze Star for her wartime service in Iraq was arrested yesterday and charged with taking bribes in a growing corruption scandal involving the Iraq reconstruction program. The officer, Lt. Col. Debra Harrison, a reservist in a civil affairs unit based in Norristown, Pa., is the fourth person and the second senior Army officer to be arrested and charged in the scandal.

She is charged with receiving cash bribes of $80,000 to $100,000, a Cadillac Escalade, a trove of illegal weaponry and other items for steering construction jobs to an American contractor in Iraq.

Some of the cash, intended for projects like a library in the holy city of Karbala and an Iraqi police academy south of Baghdad, paid for a new hot tub and a deck for Colonel Harrison's home in Trenton, according to the federal affidavit. Conviction on the charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery and money laundering as well as a long list of weapons charges, could put her in prison for up to 30 years, the Justice Department said in a statement.(LINK )

Santa Anarchy in the N.Z.

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Forty drunken Santas rampaged through central Auckland, stealing from stores and assaulting security guards, the New Zealand Herald reported on Sunday, in a protest against the commercialization of Christmas.

Police said some of the Santas threw beer bottles, one tried to climb the mooring rope of a cruise ship and a security guard was punched during the fracas.

"They came in, said 'Merry Christmas' and then helped themselves," convenience store staff member Changa Manakynda told the Herald, which reported the Santas also attacked a Christmas tree. The event organizer, Alex Dyer, had warned the antics would only stop when someone was arrested, said the Herald, which linked the incident to "Santarchy."

Santarchy (www.santarchy.com) and online encyclopedia wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) record protests going back around 10 years in the United States, with participants marking Christmas in anti-commercial manner involving street theater, pranks and public drunkenness.(LINK )

December 20, 2005

Tech Pack Rat

A few months back, our water heater flooded. No big deal, we cleared out the drain hose, mopped up the mess and went on with life. Unbeknownst to us, it also flooded the coat closet right behind it as well. So it ended up that we had a black mold problem, and we had to pull up the carpet, bleach the baseboards and throw away some things we had in that closet.

The most heartbreaking bit for me was that my "Software Box" sustained heavy damage. Nearly every piece of software I've owned since I started with computers was in that box. Everything from the cracked copy of "LEMMINGS" for DOS (circa 1991) to my Roller Coaster Tycoon CD-ROMs. Geeks like me can't bear to throw anything computer-related out. Every bit of hardware that we take out of a computer could be useful later. Every game that we complete, we swear to ourselves that we'll play again someday. Games are what we DID with our time. Deleting those old save games and getting rid of the installation disks are like throwing out a photo album or scrapbook.

The only problem is that technology is always moving on. I tried playing Lemmings again, but it was built for DOS or 16-bit Windows (Pre-Windows95) and wouldn't load. I nearly shed a tear when I placed it reverently on in the "Water Damage" trash pile. Lemmings had a good run. It, along with the original Civilization, helped introduce me to PC gaming, even PC's at ALL. Along with it, went two boxes of 3.5" floppies containing all the programs written for my college Programming classes. And perhaps most painfully of all, my floppies of "SYNDICATE" and "X-COM: UFO DEFENSE". These were such great games, and even looking at the paltry pixel count on these things compared to today, they hold up.

The event was sad, but I refuse to change on this. My CD of Star Control 2 will remain, my cribbed StarMap crammed into the jewel case, until computers won't play CDs. Ask any gamer, there are always a few games that you will never part with for sentimental reasons. I will never forgive myself for ever parting with FINAL FANTASY VII for the original PlayStation.

December 15, 2005

LinkNews Digest [12/15/2005]

Boys Suspended for Looking at Teacher's Pr0n Screensaver

Three Northern Territory high school students have been caught allegedly accessing a pornographic screensaver on a teacher's computer.

The year seven students were suspended from attending the The St Francis of Assisi Humpty Doo school after typing in a password that brought up a screen saver of a naked woman in a pornographic pose.

The computer accessed was the personal laptop of a female teacher.The teacher has been reprimanded by the Territory Catholic Education Office for bringing inappropriate material to school, the Northern Territory News reported.

But the boys' parents say the teacher, who was in the classroom at the time of the incident, let the students use her laptop. And the parents say the so-called password was ambiguous and did not amount to hacking. "The hacking involved a dialogue box coming up on the screen which asked which car do you drive," one of the boys' parents told the paper. (LINK )
The secondary punchline is in bold above. Would you ever send your kids to a school called "St Francis of Assisi Humpty Doo"?

The Effects of "Stay the Course" Rhetoric

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - A Frenchman drove up a motorway in the wrong direction for 11 miles, crashing into five other vehicles and killing one person and injuring three others including two children, police said.

The 66-year-old man continued driving after his first two collisions Sunday in the hope of finding an exit off the A35 in eastern France, a police spokesman in the city of Strasbourg said.

The retired motorist, driving with his wife, only came to a halt when he collided head-on with another car, killing an adult and seriously injuring two children aboard. Police said alcohol tests on the driver proved negative and he could not explain why he had turned the wrong way onto the motorway. (LINK )

Japan Schools Can't Stop the Gaming

Much like Pokemon is short for Pocket Mosters, Batoen is short for Battle Pencils... just the word for pencil in Japanese is enpitsu. It's a simple idea. Take pencils, write stuff on each of the sides, so that the pencil becomes a sort of six-sided die. You roll the pencil and the pencil, which represents a monster from Dragon Quest, does something, like damage or healing of hp, or other interesting effects (One kid had some hot chick monster, it's effect was, "Monster kisses everyone, they are made happy", more detailed rules after the cut).

The kicker is that you are playing with pencils. Japanese schools are pretty strict when it comes to games. No cards(except for school sanctioned "Japanese cultural cards" like karuta or hyakunin ...), so poker and Magic/Pokemon are out. But the fact that this uses pencils means that it flies under the radar most the time. And even if the teachers did know about it, what are they gonna do, take the kids pencils away? (LINK )


Psuedo-Retro Cellular Handsets


The other day as I headed out of the Versace store at the mall, I felt like I was missing something to go with my sequin-beaded, pre-torn shirt-and-jeans ensemble. I needed an accessory that screams chic, but is retro and old school. Then I found these DIY mobile handsets that I could customize yourself with paints and glitter! Like, totally! I pictured how good my ass would look with a bright orange, glitter-ridden phone handset hanging from the pocket and liked what I saw. The handsets come in all kinds of fashionable colors like white, pink, blue, and lime. Using a cellphone adapter, you plug in your handset to start talking like it’s 1965 all over again. Regular models go for $2,500 while the baby model goes for $750. Or you could Google around a little, get some paint, and do it all for under $40 by yourself. But you have more money than taste, admit it. (News LINK. Also from ThinkGeek.com)

December 13, 2005

Dean Grey Tuesday



Before it's shut down, I recommend Downloading Dean Grey's "American Edit", a Mash-up album of Green Day's "American Idiot" with Oasis, Queen, Doctor Who, The Eagles, Aerosmith and Bryan Adams just to name a few. As an amateur remixer myself, I love this stuff. His "Boulevard of Broken Songs" is my favorite Mash-up EVER. I own "American Idiot", and almost every other song in this mash-up, and I find it highly imaginative and entertaining. Seriously, download it, or at least just "Boulevard of Broken Songs" today.
Today is Dean Grey Tuesday, a net-wide day of protest over Warner Brothers attempt to censor a stupendous noncommercial mashup album called American Edit that remixes Green Day's album American Idiot.
For today, websites across the Internet are mirroring the American Edit album and/or turning their page-backgrounds grey. Mashup albums don't hurt the sales of the albums they sample -- at worst, they have no effect on sales, at best they can promote them. Artists who are signed to major labels can avail themselves of labels' legal departments when they want to remix others' work and get their samples cleared. Indie artists, hobbyists and fans don't get legal assistance from labels' high-priced fixers. This is pure patronage: in the old days you couldn't make art unless the King or some bishop granted you permission; today you need permission from a studio executive.

The labels admit this. Last year, EMI made headlines by censoring DJ Danger Mouse's Grey Album, which remixed the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album. I raised this with an EMI representative at London's Creative Economy conference and she shrugged it off: "What's the problem? We later hired Danger Mouse to make a mashup album for us."

The problem is that copyright law is supposed to decentralize the process of making art, moving the power to authorize art from royalty to the marketplace. Labels have no business setting themselves up as arbiters of what art can and can't be made.

Download while you still can!

December 12, 2005

A Holiday IM Conversation

Foe/Joe: got your card and [Arrested Development] season 1 today, thanks!
SiriusGraphics: Cool. I'm glad it got out quickly. We sent it Saturday
Foe/Joe: wow, with xmas mail going in & out thats great
SiriusGraphics: Yeah. I just hope my other packages have that kind of speed. I need to get my family's gifts to L.A. and a pkg to friends in the UK. Mel and I spend about as much on Postage as we do for gifts for each other.
SiriusGraphics: It's like The USPS is a member of the family.
Foe/Joe: my goodness, tell me about it
SiriusGraphics: Between Christmas ans Ebay, USPS is like another Dependant. Just off in college, so we never really SEE it, and it just takes our money.

The Master Manipulator

Matthew has inherited my love of video games. I've previously posted about his uncanny ability with them, and he's always fascinated to watch me play Katamari Damacy ("Ball Game"). A month back, Melissa bought him his first video game, "Ultimate Spider Man" for the PS2.

For the past year, whenever we go to Best Buy, this game was in the demo players, and Matthew was simply fascinated by it. "'PiderMan!! Piderman!" He'd shout, pointing to the screen. While browsing the games in that row, I let him try it. I've never seen him more excited with anything. On a continuous basis. I know that they say Video games are making kids fat these days, but Matthew is still too young to know that you don't ACTUALLY NEED TO JUMP to make your character jump, so he's effectively getting "Kiddie Cardio" when he plays it.

And it's become the first real bargaining chip that we have with him. We've tried taking away toys previously, but he's never been attached to any one toy enough for it to matter to him. But when I took away the game after a few tantrums, he really feels the loss. He got it back, and he was back into it. He's playing Spider-Man. One of the classic superheroes. He can climb walls and swing through the skyscrapers in New York City. But all Matthew wants to do is have him jump into the water, over and over again. "Hahahaha! SPLASH!!!!" Poor guy, taking dips in THAT river all day for Matthew's enjoyment. No wonder he's mutated.

Two nights ago, we had to take the game away again for bad behavior. Last night, he was really upset he couldn't play. "No, remember last night, when you didn't listen to mommy and daddy? Because you didn't listen to us, you can't play the game for a few days." Complaints ensued, but he eventually calmed down. A few hours later, Matthew was in the living room with us after dinner, and he was kissing Melissa. He's become really affectionate lately. He's always had this little Oedipus thing, kissing Mel quite a lot, but it's spread to others lately, including our friend, Shawn. So while cute, this was far from new, and it was a nice change of pace from the complaints.

Then, after a good minute of kisses and hugs on Melissa, Matthew whispers in her ear: "Play 'Piderman Game?"

I've read books on child-rearing that say that kids are master manipulators by the time they're a year old. Now, I disagree: They haven't truly MASTERED it until 3 1/2. Most kids I know haven't learned to use affection to get what they want until age seven.

December 09, 2005

LinkNews Digest [12/09/2005]

Japanese:When Life Gives You Jellyfish, Make PB&J


Echizen kurage is not an extraterrestrial invader, but a giant jellyfish that is devastating the livelihoods of fishermen in the Sea of Japan. Nomura’s jellyfish, as it is known in English, is the biggest creature of its kind off Japan and for reasons that remain mysterious its numbers have surged in the past few months.

The problem first became obvious in the late summer when fishermen chasing anchovies, salmon and yellowtail began finding huge numbers of the jellyfish in their nets. Often the weight of the echizen kurage broke the nets or crushed the fish to death; those that survived were poisoned and beslimed by their tentacles.

Fishermen on the northern tip of Honshu, Japan’s main island, were forced to suspend work at the height of the lucrative salmon season. In Akita prefecture some communities saw their incomes fall by 80 per cent. In some places jellyfish density is reported to be a hundred times higher than normal. Worst of all, no one yet understands why.

In the meantime locals are making the best of it. Rather than just complaining about jellyfish they are eating them. Jellyfish are an unusual ingredient of Japanese cuisine but are much more prized in China. Coastal communities are doing their best to promote jellyfish as a novelty food, sold dried and salted. Students in Obama have managed to turn them into tofu, and jellyfish collagen is reported to be beneficial to the skin. (LINK )

New Patent: The McDownload

Movie, music or game with your Big Mac, sir? That’s what The Walt Disney Company in Hollywood has in mind. Patents filed by Disney reveal plans to drip-feed entertainment into a portable player while the owner eats in a restaurant.

You only get the full programme by coming back to the restaurant a number of times to collect all the instalments. McDonalds could use the system instead of giving out toys with Happy Meals, suggests Disney’s patent.

Big files, such as a movie, take a long time to capture, so Disney will break the file into several segments that can be downloaded separately and spliced together by the player.

In the future, a dedicated player sold or even given away by the restaurant could help the scheme to run more smoothly and create a new market opportunity for electronics companies (LINK )
Good idea, but one crucial flaw: Who would just HAND OVER their $300+ iPod to a McDonalds Employee???

Acclaim Entertainment's Bankruptcy Sale

Apparently the prodigous video game company has gone belly-up, and you can now buy the content & Distribution rights to its ENTIRE GAME CATALOG, Game by Game. Here's a few:
Alien Trilogy - No Bid
Bubble Bobble - $5,100
Burnout - $5,000
Burnout 2: Impact - No Bid
Crazy Taxi - $5,000
Double Dragon 2 & 3 - $5,000 for the Series
Magic! Gathering Battlemage - No Bid
Mortal Kombat I & II - No Bid
NBA Jam Series - No Bid
South Park Rally - No Bid
Worms 3D - No Bid
WWF (series) - No Bid
(LINK )

December 05, 2005

Lost Cat

Mayer
A bit of bad news, one of our cats, Mayer (of "Oscar and Mayer"... ba-dum-dum) escaped during our Potter party on November 18th. Bad weather kept us from mass searches during the first crucial days, but then we were able to put up posters and really dig around.

Unfortunately, there was nothing. We checked twice at the Humane Society when they said they'd taken in a Tortie, but no dice. The only spark of hope was that th food we set out by the front door was being eaten each night. We'd almost given up hope when on Wednesday, a neighbor knoced at the door and said he's seen Mayer around the neighborhood. He and his boys tried to lure it out with a can of tuna, but it took off, but she was most likely staying underneath the shed of a neighbor two doors down.

Then, Success! On my nightly rounds of the neighborhood, I saw two glowing eyes shining back in the broken-down playground, and it was her! She ran off before I could catch her, but I was positive it was Mayer. The next day we got a trap from the Humane society, and we tried it in the playground. No luck. After that, we just left it in front of the house, where the food was always disappearing.

We caught a gray tabby. It was at least 4 years old, and too friendly to be a stray, so I set it free after keeping it warm in the garage overnight. A few nights later, the storm door was open, and Oscar scared off a black-and-white cat with no collar that was about to enter the trap. Then tonight, we catch a wild orange tabby. Jesus! How many cats have been swiping this food?!?!?!

Very frustrating. She's been gone for almost a month. I still go out every night and look for her, but no one has seen her since that first night. It might be a question of if she WANTS to come back. Oscar is a mess without her. He's reverted to his uber-needy over-talkative former self, which was what we got Mayer to fix.

Wish us happy hunting. And hope that she doesn't end up in the trailer behind our yard with the Meth Lab.

December 02, 2005

LinkNews Digest [12/02/2005]

50 Cent says "Buy My Game for Kids!"



50 Cent, real name Curtis Jackson, is no stranger to parental warnings. [So] It came to no one's surprise that 50 Cent: Bulletproof, published by VU Games, was rated M for Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, and Use of Drugs. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board believes that "Titles rated M have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older."

Jackson thinks otherwise. Today, he told Reuters that his game is not only OK for kids, but it also could be used to teach them life lessons.

"Just because it is rated Mature doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it for your kids," the rapper, whose given name is Curtis Jackson, told Reuters in an interview Tuesday. "Play the game and explain to them what they are playing."

The game that they will be playing sees 50 taking on underground crime syndicates in New York City with a boatload of guns, capping would-be foes in the dome, and looting their corpses for cash. (LINK )


Bruce Lee: Symbol of Peace?


(Reuters) - Bosnia's southern town of Mostar unveiled the world's first statue of kung fu legend Bruce Lee on Saturday, paying homage to a childhood hero of all its divided ethnic groups.

The life-size 1.68 meter (5ft 7in) bronze statue is situated in Mostar's central park, close to the former front line of Bosnia's 1992-95 civil war. A decade after the conflict, Mostar's Muslim and Croat inhabitants remain deeply split.

"This does not mean that Bruce Lee will unite us, because people are different and cannot be united and we will always be Muslims, Serbs or Croats," Gatalo said. "But one thing we all have in common is Bruce Lee."

Gatalo has said Lee -- a hero to teenagers all over Bosnia in the 1970s and 1980s -- epitomized justice, mastery and honesty, virtues the town had badly missed.

The statue shows Lee facing north, so that Muslims in the eastern part of Mostar and Croats in its western half do not see him as poised for a fight with them. Croatia is in the south. (LINK )

UPDATE: The Statue's Nunchuks were stolen a few hours after unveiling

"Cyber Monday" is Marketing Myth

Do a Google search on "Cyber Monday," and you get as many as 779,000 results. Not a bad haul for a term that was created just a week and a half ago to describe the jump in online shopping activity following the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. While Black Friday is the official kickoff of the traditional retail season, the story goes, online retail really takes off the following Monday. Advertisement

Just one problem: It's not true.It turns out that Shop.org, an association for retailers that sell online, dreamed up the term just days before putting out a Nov. 21 press release touting Cyber Monday as "one of the biggest online shopping days of the year."

"It's not the biggest day," Silverman concedes. "But it was an opportunity to create some consumer excitement." (LINK )

Storefront Noisemaker Discourages Slackers

The device, called the Mosquito ("It's small and annoying," Stapleton said), emits a high-frequency pulsing sound that, he said, can be heard by most people younger than 20 and almost no one older than 30. The sound is designed to so irritate young people that after several minutes, they cannot stand it and go away.

So far, the Mosquito has been road-tested in only one place, at the entrance to the Spar convenience store in this town in South Wales. Like birds perched on telephone wires, surly teenagers used to plant themselves on the railings just outside the door, smoking, drinking, shouting rude words at customers and making regular disruptive forays inside.

Last month, Stapleton gave him a Mosquito for a free trial. The results were almost instantaneous. It was as if someone had used anti-teenager spray around the entrance, the way you might spray your sofas to keep pets off. Where disaffected youths used to congregate, now there is no one.

"It's loud and squeaky and it just goes through you," said Jodie Evans, 15, who was shopping at the store even though she was supposed to be in school. "It gets inside you."

Stapleton, a security consultant whose experience in installing store alarms and the like alerted him to the gravity of the loitering problem, studied other teenage-repellents as part of his research. Some shops, for example, use "zit lamps," which drive teenagers away by casting a blue light onto their spotty skin, accentuating any whiteheads and other blemishes. (LINK )

What Holywood Can Learn from Anime

Anime and manga firms have taken on forms very different from Hollywood studios or publishing houses. They more closely resemble the constantly updating startups of Silicon Valley. Their ethos is to get the product out to the right people -- whether it's on a DVD or over a mobile phone or downloadable -- and see what happens. If it succeeds, milk it; if not, try something different. And if the fans are into file sharing (which they are), keep the lawyers leashed and find a way to make piracy work for you.

Female fans now make up about half the attendees at the conferences. Responding to the interest, CosmoGirl last summer began running its own manga strip on the back page of every issue. 'We started hearing girls say their favorite books and favorite things to read were manga,' says Ann Shoket, the magazine's executive editor. 'The girls have drawn their own manga for us. Not just one weird girl -- a lot of girls.' (LINK )


December 01, 2005

Idle Mind and the Struggle

Last week, the Kerns and Mel's parents drove up to Richlands, NC to spend Thanksgiving with Mel's Grandparents. It's a great retreat; just a modified trailer sitting on some sandy-soiled farmland, far enough away from civilization that you can see the tiniest ribbons of stardust around the constellations. Three clear and cold days of simple living. Pleasantly enough, there was nothing to do but take walks and talk with my wife and her family.

The only drawback was the sleep schedule. Out there, there's no reason to stay up late, so the house was down and quiet by 8:30 PM. This came as a bit of difficult adjustment for Melissa and I, who often stay up to Midnight watching movies and playing on the computer.

So I sat there in bed for a long time in the dark, nothing but my mind to keep me company. But I like times like that. I am a big believer in idle time. Not free time, where you find tasks to occupy yourself, but conscious time when there's nothing to do but think and let your brain process all the things that are rolling around inside it. Time like that is absolutely necessary for personal development and learning, because that's when you can make discoveries and connections about the world and your life that you never would think to look for.

As my mind wandered, I thought about the constant struggle of my life, my weight. It's not a huge problem, I know, but I have always been moderately overweight since I was a kid. For contrast, it didn't help that my brother was a walking stick compared even to normal people. My only break came in high school, when a sudden growth spurt stretched my mass out to a medium-build 6'2" gawky teenager. Unfortunately, a few years of College dining halls brought me back to overweight status.

Aside from that, I had a brief period of svelteness a few years ago because of a strict regimen of diet and 30 minutes a night on the treadmill. However, I just couldn't keep eating the same tiny thing for breakfast and lunch EVERY DAY and walking, and eventually got back to being "Obese" by current medical definitions.

The questions remained: Why couldn't I keep fit? Why do I have no real discipline? The answer came clearly in my mind: "Because I've never really struggled with anything, and overcome it, in my whole life."

Like in Poe's "The Raven", I was taken aback at how plainly it was spoken. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. All the big problems that I've struggled with since I was a kid, they're still problems now. I'm still overweight. I'm still shy and awkward around people. I still have problems talking to people, even making simple conversation, even to my own wife. I've never overcome these things.

But I have a good life, and I've had a lot of accomplishments that I am very proud of: My singing, my proficiency with computers, getting my Bachelor's Degree, marrying the right woman, having a great son, getting a great job that supports us. The only problem is that, aside from my quest for the right woman, I never really struggled with these things. Once I left elementary school, I never really studied in school. I had a natural talent for computers and singing, we conceived Matthew as soon as we started trying, and I'm still (essentially) working for the same company that I started with out of college.

Just about everything good that's happened to me in my life, has come easily or luckily, not by hard work or discipline to overcome any real difficulties. That's my problem. That's not to say that I don't work hard, because I at least have that going for me, I've just never worked hard to overcome anything real AND come out victorious.

I was no good at soccer as a kid, so I quit the team. I never practiced my saxophone or piano, so I was never any good at them, and quit playing. I was absolute CRAP as an actor in high school, so I quit it and started singing. I struggled for years with Calculus, only to quit and change my major to one that didn't require it.

The only thing real that I've conquered by struggle was that trivial habit in college. It took me 7 years, but I'm finally clear of it. Addictions, even the petty ones like this, never go away. You never stop wanting or craving it, you have to actively deny the temptation every time it arises. 7 years to fully quit and not start up again. This is the only success I've had overcoming an issue with hard work and discipline. (Finding the right woman was just hard work.)

It might sound like psycho-babble, but I think my problem is that I've almost never struggled and succeeded, I've always given up or tried something else.

Applying this to my weight problem is another matter, though. How do you discipline yourself to overcome a lack of self-discipline? It's like trying to remember to be less forgetful (which I also suffer from). Well, at least I think I have a bead on the issue now, so that's something.