AYN RAND IS THE FEMALE HUNTER S. THOMPSON
More or less.
Anyway, we move on to challenge #4:
4. READ ATLAS SHRUGGED
You know, it wasn't that bad.
Don't worry, I'm not becoming one of those Ayn Rand nuts...on that note, did you know her real name was Alisa Zinov'yevnamakel'andevanabillybofanafifofana Rosenbaum? It was something like that. No wonder she changed it.
Atlas shrugged is more or less the ultimate 'sulk in the corner' for intellectuals. Remember those kids who swore they'd run away from home or die because their parents didn't buy them a new toy or pony? That's Atlas Shrugged in a nutshell.
The best part of the book is actually the most famous (or infamous in some circles). It's actually the speech towards the end of the book that lasts over 50 pages. If it were really spoken, it would literally last over 3 hours, and most of it is repetition.
That aside, if you skim it, you'll find a thoughtful sermon on self reliance, personal responsibility, character, and inner strength. It praises free thought, free enterprise, and justice, while condemning censorship, socialism, and undeserved mercy.
When Ayn says 'live free or die', it's not just a credo, but a threat.
Especially at this stage in history, it's difficult to scoff at her claims that most of society's problems come from people expecting everything to be given to them for free, without receiving any personal responsibility for their own actions, or bettering society as a whole in any significant way. With the recent market meltdown, there's something to be said for this opinion.
So why am I not bowing down and worshiping Ayn Rand right now? Her solutions won't work. Critics made great auditors, but poor engineers. Throughout the ending, her solution is for society to give total control over to intellectuals, and for all military forces to disband. All in all, her solution falls somewhere between Libertarian and laughable.
Regardless, her personal credo, of only taking what you earn, giving no charity or mercy (as by definition, neither is earned), taking pride in yourself, and demanding the right to live free and follow your own path in life, is highly commendable.
Some other noteworthy parts of the book include a terrible train accident that results from the willful negligence of politicians, businessmen, and taxpayers (after Katrina, it's hard to scoff). What really makes the scene interesting (and again, infamous) is that Ayn Rand examines every person within the train, and shows that they each, in some way, were partly responsible for the crash. Overall, they all think 'the problems of society are not my own, so I won't be bothered by them', and then all die in the crash.
Finally, the name of the book gets its own name from another noteworthy scene, where one character tries to convince another intellectual/entrepreneur that they must abandon the abusive and neglectful politicians and businessmen that depend on them for the ideas, products and services they provide.
The female protagonist said that the ultimate metaphor for their plight was Atlas, who struggled and suffered eternally, while carrying the world on his shoulders. She asks: "What would you tell Atlas to do?" and the man says "I have no idea! What could you possibly tell him to do?" and she simply responds "To shrug."
In other words, to toss the world off his shoulders. If they aren't going to give anything back, or do any work themselves, then supporting them is not only torture, but morally and ethically wrong. It's a selfless hero eternally suffering, so that the weak, lazy and greedy can get all the reward, without working for it.
Not a bad book at all...but long. REALLY REALLY long and repetitive.
There, I just saved you 1,000 pages of reading.
5. PUT SELF ON 'HOT OR NOT' WEBSITE
With all that intellectual self indulgence, I realized that I probably needed to be taken down a peg or two, so it's off to the 'hot or not' website. The website name pretty much explains what it is. You post your picture, and anonymous people rate you from 1 to 10.
I decided to use my basic picture, against the black background. Overall, it's my good side, but you still get a good shot of the humongous nose, ears, glasses, bald spot (around temples), and a peak of double chin.
I braced myself for the worst...
Huh. I actually didn't rate bad at all. Perhaps it's because the majority of women on the site are teenyboppers who like older men, or cougars looking for a younger fella. I've found, throughout my life, that I seem to appeal mainly to women furthest away from my age. When working at the mall, I got hit on a little by the shoppers, but only the teenage girls and elderly women.
Hell, one of the teenage Jewish girls, roughly 1/3 my size (who swore she was 18, but I didn't believe her) even asked me out, while 'more or less' sitting on my lap.
I said no...but it took me a second to think about it. What? Hey, I was single for a long time, so sue me. At least I didn't consider going out with one of the grannies. ^_^
Anyway, I've darted around the issue long enough. Here's the breakdown of my 'rating'
My average rating was 7.6 (not bad at all)
15% rated me 1-2
10% rated me 3-4
50% rated me 5-6
25% rated me 7-8
No one rated me 9-10 (not a huge surprise)
Unbelievably, I was rated more attractive than 73% of the guys on the site.
Now, you fellow math nerds might realize that the numbers result in an average closer to 5.2, rather than 7.6, but that's because the site takes into account how people vote overall. In other words, if they know you only give 1-5, or only give 7-10, then they weigh your ratings differently, so the ratings you give more or less come out to a range of 1-10, no matter how you actually vote.
Basically, it seems that I mainly appeal to women who normally don't like the guys on the site. Most of the other guys are teens...so yeah, I definitely think it's the 'older guy' factor. Teenage girls just don't like teenage guys. Can you blame them?
So don't give up hope, fellow geeks! Just look for younger women. Just keep it about 18. No fair chasing jailbait (I'm looking at you, Jenny).
6. EAT A SPOONFUL OF WASABI
Okay, I have to admit, I've gotten off easy for the last two challenges. It's time to really buckle down and do something harsh. I decided to eat a spoonful of wasabi. For those uninitiated, wasabi is a VERY spicy garnish for sushi. Real wasabi is rare and expensive, which is why at normal places they use horseradish. Pure horseradish, colored green.
For personal safety, I decided that I didn't have to actually swallow it all, but had to take a heaping spoonful and put it in my mouth, as if I were eating pudding.
Why? Because I know a guy who did. He'd never eaten at a Japanese place before, and asked what the green stuff was. One of his 'friends' (I'm using the term loosely here) jokingly said it was green pudding. Since there was green ice cream (pistachio) and green sweet dumplings, it wasn't that much of a stretch.
So he took a spoonful, and before anyone could say anything, shoved it in his mouth.
So I went to the Japanese buffet, got a nice heaping spoonful, and while no one was looking, did the same.
Our results were similar.
It was in every corner of my mouth.
It was in my throat.
I could feel it in my nose.
Hell, I could feel it in my EARS.
Soda didn't help, and neither did wiping it off. All that could save me was a frenzied rush to the men's room, past bewildered waiters and waitresses. There, I properly hosed down and scrubbed off the inside of my mouth. Regardless, I was almost sick with agony.
I'm completing these challenges to the end, no matter what.
There's no way that spoonful of wasabi is going to be for nothing!
NEXT WEEK: History, agony, bugs, and fiendish thingies!