digitaldiscipline: (iPood)
[Fitness-related, but viewable to all]

MFT, the guy behind Gym Jones, from whom I cadge a fair amount of my workout philosophy, is occasionally so full of shit he squeaks going into a turn, as far as I'm concerned. Not often, but one of his precepts is simply not applicable to the vast majority of athletes - that training ought to be undertaken to provide peak performance at exactly the time it's needed.

In his post-Olympics essay, among a lot of stuff I genuinely agree with, was this: "Serious Athletes plan every aspect of their lives to ensure that they peak for that special event. To ensure that they are at the pinnacle of their career when they compete on the world’s stage."

Admittedly, I am not a "serious athlete." I'm a guy who wants to be in good shape; strong in useful ways, healthy, and all that sort of thing. I don't compete against anyone but myself, every day.

But, fundamentally, I have a different approach: Fitness should mean you're ready to perform at or near your peak any time you need to. Call it the Fireman Philosophy - those guys may be called on to do maximum effort any time, any day. "Peak performance at exactly the time it's needed" in the real world means you're ready to go Right Now if a storm hits, or a car crashes, or a mugger pulls a knife.

You can't schedule life, you can simply be ready to take it on.
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digitaldiscipline: (Default)
When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy.

(This is apparently a quote from a mass email my uncle sent out, and [livejournal.com profile] aishlynn printed, encapsulating her thoughts of me vis a vis C14. I has a fan!)
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digitaldiscipline: (f*ck [by fireba11])
Without getting mired down in nuance, have a nice, tasty soundbyte to sum up some political feelings:

Your laws and rights end at my skin.
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digitaldiscipline: (clank)
If you are taller than I am and not in costume and come around asking for candy (wearing a backpack for collection purposes), I'm fucking well not going to give you any.

Yeah, I'm an elitist prick.
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digitaldiscipline: (f*ck [by fireba11])
[spurred by something [livejournal.com profile] rachelll asked]

I was a Republican when I was a kid (say, from realizing politics existed up until my college years), because trickle-down economics made sense to me, and the notion that the government should spend less money than it earns seemed like a smart fucking concept.

I still rankle at any talking head of any stripe who says "the budget deficit shrank this year" like that's a good thing... what they're cleverly failing to say is that the overal government debt -is- still increasing, and that, to me, is unacceptable. If I can't continue to run up debt without consequences, neither can the fucking government. Period. It's not a matter of it being "fair," it's a matter of it being smart fiscal policy.

Anyway, once the GOP started swinging further into conservative asshat waters and abridging civil liberties and personal freedoms, I ended up identifying with the Democrats, because, even though my own moral compass has been unwavering ("Your rights and laws end at my skin. Fuck you if you don't agree with that."), they were the ones who were espousing the most similar views (as a child, my concerns were economic; later, they were social; now, they're both).

My admittedly incomplete understanding of the Libertarian platform is that it's pro-responsibility, anti-controlling asshattery; that's aligned with my own thinking. At root, I'm a fiscal conservative who believes that taxes should be low and government spending should be justified, fully accountable, and within its means; I am also what, these days, would be considered a social progressive, being in favor of such amazingly weird ideas that people should be allowed to do pretty much whatever they want to themselves physically, spiritually, or chemically, as long as they're not fucking up anyone else without their consent.

I am pro-freedom, and see both the established parties as having serious shortcomings in this regard (these days, the democrats just have fewer of them).
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digitaldiscipline: (f*ck [by fireba11])
After all the bullshit is flensed off and boiled away, there really is only one basic difference between people who want to legalize everything a person can do to themself, and those who want to criminalize everything they don't like.

The difference is between two simple statements.

"You shouldn't do that," and "You can't do that."

The difference between "should not" and "can not" is that, with the former, the option "to" still exists, rather than being obliterated.

Everything else is semantics, bullshit, politics, bullshit, politics, and bullshit.

Responsible people should be allowed to live with the former, not be bullied, cowed, and browbeaten by the latter.

To everyone who deigns to say what I can and cannot do, I say, "You should watch your ass."
digitaldiscipline: (f*ck [by fireba11])
.... doesn't work in Iraq, and it doesn't work in anywhere else. When you're engaging an adversary, putting yourself at a chivalrous disadvantage to please the court of public opinion makes you less effective on the ground, where effectiveness is the only metric that matters.

Fighting "dirty," using whatever means available and necessary, is what succeeds most efficiently.  Gentlemanly fisticuffs will always end up a bloody heap when confronted by UFC brawling, writ whatever size, on whatever field.
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It was no accident that medieval rulers often inscribed Ultima Ratio Regum ("The last argument of Kings") on their cannon; violence should only be pursued when diplomacy fails.

That said, I have had a minor epiphany while cogitating upon this morning's terrorist attacks (regardless of perpetrator, unless a truly tinfoil-hat scenario, such as the US being behind them in order to disrupt G8 because it was going to proceed in ways the administration is distasteful of, that sort of thing).

Rafe's First Law of Diplomacy
The speed at which violence is deemed the best course of action is inversely proportional to the true power of those deciding to pursue that course.


Terrorists, of whatever stripe, seem to have a penchant for shooting first, if they bother to ask questions at all. Historically, governments have not gone to war unless their leader(s) are asshats, or they were goaded or provoked by asshattery on the part of some lesser power. The current administration in the United States, I think, illustrates the former portion of this, and I think that many of us can agree that, as a consequence, our standing as THE pre-eminent world power has suffered because of the excessive and profligate use of "lead diplomacy," to coin a phrase.

I am an advocate of lex talionis ("An eye for an eye") when it comes to matters where the other guy hit you first. You get to hit back, and -then- the matter of whether or not a second volley is warranted comes up for discussion.

I personally feel that turning the other cheek is simply giving your opponent a fresh target, and much prefer responding with a sharp knee to the groin. Is this the most rational and constructive response? That's open for debate.

I suspect that the majority of the dozens of people killed this morning had nothing whatsoever to do with whatever agenda is being pushed, or whatever grievance was being aired. As such, while state-sized vengeance is not necessarily the appropriate response, excising those people responsible for planning and executing these acts from the collective known as "humanity" in a very public, very complete fashion should at least give future asshats pause.

The downside to, metaphorically speaking, beating the living fuck out of the guy who raped your sister, is that anyone who thinks it's okay to do something like that once probably hangs out with people who think it's okay to do it more than once, and they'll say, "Dude, they kicked his ass, let's go get 'im!"

As I've said previously elsewhere, these attacks have nothing behind them but blind hatred, and the wish to do evil, no matter the internal justifications (be it religion, oppression, ad infinitum).

Trying to be The Good Guy is a no-win situation in this case - either you ignore the offense, in which case it happens again, or you strike back, in which case it happens again. I do not know if there's a way to prevent it from happening again, other than eradicating every person who thinks it's the best way to operate, or find some way to communicate with them (in a way that they will understand), that this is not the type of behavior civilized people engage in.

The flaw in that argument, of course, is when "they" have no interest in being (or being considered) civilized, and simply wish to do evil against those they hate.

If these were suicide attacks, I think that the parties who organized and financed them should get to enjoy a trinitrotoluene vest experience, albeit in the middle of a very large, very vacant parking lot.
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New Orleans is the Big Easy because she has to be.  She's tired.  She's down at the heels.  She forgets to bathe.  But she gets liquored up and puts out, and isn't afraid to dress and act like a tart (or, dare I say it, a cheap whore) to get that love and attention she craves.  She's got a reputation, Nola does.  Bonhomie with a risque flair; but do be polite and not ask what's beyond the receiving room, please.

Don't get me wrong - she knows how to party (or at least used to), and the old girl knows more ways to feed you well than just about anyone else.  There's the warm, cloying caress of the thick air (she's good for the skin, but it's a little sweaty, her embrace) and the long, warm, quiet walks where she can show off a little of her old-world voluptuousness; the kind that make the youths with their Victorian pretentions swoon, and the lifers glow subtly with something like pride.

But underneath her flowered and jeweled mask, Nola's not feeling so well.  She doesn't eat right, and all that partying wears on a body.  It weakens the defenses against parasites and calcium loss.  She doesn't sleep well, or enough, and it shows in the lines around her eyes and the way her back stoops (despite the gaudy corset).  She doesn't look ravaged, but she's more than a little care-worn.

Her eyes have a tendency to dart suspiciously, looking for her next score, the next excuse to get dolled up. But she's in no hurry; nobody there is so gauche as to rush anything.  She knows that her next companion will come calling, and soon, because they know her number, and what she'll do for their ducats and attentions.

A gentleman will buy the lady a drink, you see, but there are obligations.  They both know.  It's polite of him not to ask, and proper of her not to seem bored with the whole affair.  The pleasure is real, to be certain, but thin after so many times, like a favorite camisole that the thrill has worn off of but remains comfortable, retaining the barest ghost of happier, more novel times.

It's almost all paste and costume jewelery.  Nola scrapes to get by, and that gratuity the gentleman leaves is barely enough to keep her going.

=====================

Seattle seems stark and prudish by comparison; people buttoned up and buttoned down, everyone in a hurry to Be Somewhere.  The crisp grey air doesn't catch the light and glow romantically like it does in the deep south (Spanish Moss, nature's gothic eyeliner); instead, it fills in the shadows with an austerity that denies public secrets. 

She's got money, in the same way the young executive in the BMW that's stuck in traffic does; a useful abstraction that provides a measure of comfort, but which might not be appreciated because it seems like it's always been there.  Socializing by the numbers is the order of the day, if you overlook the places around the next corner where there are people going about things the old-fashioned, organic way (but maybe feeling a little furtive about it).

=====================

S-K: Speaking as a former resident, New Orleans is the epitome of the "Great place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there" city.  The mellow, ornate glow of decadence is a patina over a poor, corrupt, and struggling city, and unless you can find work to finance a visitor's lifestyle, it's little different from anywhere else.
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I'm afraid my continuing silence around the palace will persist; I'm entirely too critical of what I see as a corrupt Executive Branch, and am apparently too left-leaning to do anything but cross swords with the other contributors [basically, if Liz says it, I'm saying or thinking the opposite, like two polarized lenses 90 degrees out of phase; Fran and I, at least half the time, are only about thirty degrees OOP].

It's disappointing and personally nauseating for me to be able to more readily believe the truth of the Tinfoil Hat stuff than the emanations of the White House; President Bush has, for me and many of the folks I converse about such things with, done such a comprehensive job of eroding the public trust in the Administration that no amount of NaCl seems sufficient.

I love my country and hate the administration. I'm one of those "Anybody But Bush" voters these days.

Nic Berg was a friend of a friend, and some link-chasing turned up entirely too many items that seem both more plausible and more monstrous than anything the Pentagon or White House has stated. It feels the same way anywhere I look at the govenment; it's fractally corrupt (examining any issue in detail seems to lead to an endless recursion of obfuscation, omission, or outright duplicity).

I used to trust our government not to be egregiously evil to its own citizens, and justifiably harsh to those who would do us ill. But now. . . all I see are an increasingly aloof and contemptuous cadre within the administration doing whatever the fuck they want, damn the foreigners, and, more troubling still, damn the American public and their rights, thoughts, and opinions.

Maybe I can conjure up a review of "Van Helsing" or something. *sigh*
digitaldiscipline: (rafepark)
[inspired by a question asked by [livejournal.com profile] gavinsca]

Are the world's religious text all merely obsolete instruction manuals, mean to guide children through the forest but outtasked by the problems facing people today?

They're all overblown rationalizations for justifying entrenched power structures. Really, all anyone needs is a distillation of the golden rule:

Don't be an asshat.



I mean, really - you don't need parables, or gospel, or to make an exact copy of the Torah in long-grain rice. . . you just need not be a dick to the next guy. It covers all the Commandments, other than the one that has no bearing on Life In General, the paranoid mutterings of an insecure deity ["have no gods before me" - and, if you believe in the deity in question, not being an asshat to them means doing this anyways, wouldn't it?]

Antiasshatism means starting no holy wars, no persecution, none of the lovely stuff that we get from the established spiritual structures that are so hell-bent on telling each other to go fuck themselves.

Inconveniently, there's already something similar to Antiasshatism in circulation, and it's gotten a bad rap because the idea man went after the wrong kind of PR. . . "So long as it harm none, do as thou wilt."

"Don't be an asshat. Amen."
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I've been a frequent proponent of looking out for you and yours as being at, if not near, the top of the ol' priority heap. I've also been known to express the sentiment that it's not necessary to be an asshole to do this.

I tend to view ignoring, or at least not interfering with, someone else's efforts to look out for them and theirs as slightly positive to neutral.

I won't belabor my financial frustrations to the stubborn folks who continue to read my tripe. Let's just say that my household is far from being in an ideal or comfortable situation and leave it at that.

I'm sure many of you may have heard rumblings about the Powerball jackpot reaching dizzying heights.

I'm aware of the arguments for and against playing, at least in lieu of holding down a steady job. I've often used that bit of bumper-sticker wisdom: "Lottery: a tax on the math-impaired" myself - I think it's both clever and accurate.

At present, the jackpot is in the MLB/NBA-contract vicinity of $170 million - which is enough to get most people's attention, and even open the wallets of non-regular participants [including Your Humble Scribe]. It may or may not get the attention of distant love interests, but would probably work very well at drumming old acquaintences and unsavory familial types out of the woodwork.

However, this brings me to my pit-stop on the way back to the office after lunch, where I was politely idled behind as I strolled the parking lot to pick up a handful of hope and a pint of Cran/Raz, by a woman driving this.

I certainly don't begrudge the wealthy the trinkets that go with it - other than it being pearlescent white, it's a really nice f*cking car. But it seems that the entire raison d` etre for this particular errand was. . . to buy a quintet of Powerball tickets.

As someone who's lately been giving serious consideration to the idea of home ownership, it's more convenient to ignore the fact that a simple two-seat conveyance costs approximately what my current pre-approval for a mortgage would pay for than dwell on it. Hearing the frustrations of friends with well-paying jobs in inconveniently expensive locations detail the trouble of finding even moderately-sized housing under three hundred and fifty grand hasn't done much to buoy my spirits. Our discussionary foil, Missuz Mercedes, lives in a nice development that meets these criteria. Those of you who enjoy watching golf may well have seen her neighborhood this past weekend, since the HP Classic is held just down the way, in posh English Turn. It's nice, if a bit stuffy, and inconvenient to get into and out of, but very clearly an enclave for wealth.

But I am left to wonder - with poverty so locally prevalent (one of the singular features of New Orleans is the lack of zoning, so that affluent developments are cheek-by-jowl with rent-controlled row housing). . . Missuz Mercedes and her inferred husband (or at least her lucrative half of a pre-nup) obviously aren't hurting financially. . . so why go out of their way to take a shot at the lotto? Statistically, most lottery participants are not nearly so high on the hog; is "financially disadvantaged" still the correct term?

But for someone who seemingly doesn't -need- a financial windfall put their hat in the ring, either to win the whole enchilada outright, or split the prize with someone who will almost certainly have been starting off a lot further down the economic curve. . . it troubles me.

Those of you who frequent blogspace or any of the myriad online communities that are rife with the occasional Twenty Questions polls (or any of their iterations) have probably seen some variant of "What would you do if you won the lottery?" as a topic. I've spun that hypothetical junket a time or three myself.

But I'm left to wonder how different Mrs. Mercedes' answers might be from someone who lives a block away from the gas station, in the projects. Or how different mine are from either of theirs.

I can say, however, that it's only the kind of question I'd answer once.
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No matter how good the SF I'm reading is, if it's realistic enough and drops some hard science clues, it's a tent to me.

Tents - you look at the outside and see a useful shelter, a fabric shell. You get inside and have a cozy place to sleep.

I read SF, and wonder about the research the author did to drop a casual reference to some odd little tidbit.

Others see a tent - I see an armature and the driving of stakes.

I will continue to blame [livejournal.com profile] deviathan for making me think about the craft of writing until I actually get paid for it, then I can inconveniently blame myself. ;-)
digitaldiscipline: (rafepark)
Okay, the black cloud of angsty-angst from this morning has lifted somewhat, and, while not feeling up to inflicting the full Taiko-assault experience that is my rampant, unchecked ego:

I fucking well rule. )
digitaldiscipline: (rafepark)
Dear Unlicensed Breeders:

I was raised in a household where children were given freedom to have fun with the understanding that the parents were to be told when, where, and with whom, and if that was deviated from, a call home was de rigeur.

You did what your parents told you, Or Else. Why? Because They Said So. Failure to comply earned you an all-expenses-paid trip to your room. Grounding was a valid punishment. Allowances were given or earned or withheld. If you did something wrong, you were punished - and this included getting your ass tanned with a hand or a wooden spoon or a rolled up newspaper if you really fucked up.

You respected your parents. You called your friends' parents "Mr." and "Mrs." even when they said you could use their first name. You said "please" and "thank you" and "excuse me" and "I'm sorry" and fucking well meant them.

You didn't throw firecrackers at people's heads. You didn't try and zap strangers in the eye with a laser pointer - if your parents caught you doing this, they'd scold you at the very least and make you apologize. . . or spank you right in public, then make you apologize.

So don't look at me like I'm reciting Klingon opera when, the third time I catch your gurbby little urchin doing both of these things and proclaim loudly, "Look, you little fuck, knock that shit off right now," because, I'm gonna snap your little pissant's arms off, shove him up your ass, and then beat your husband into remoulade, because you're incapable of doing your job as a fucking parent.

If you and your ill-mannered spawn bother me again, hear me when I say I have no patience for you and your l'aissez faire "parenting" - the instant one of your little shitspawn breaches the personal boundaries of me or those I deem worth standing up for, I -will- forcibly intrude and impose some fucking responsiblity on you.

I've said it before and I say it again now - we require people to get a license to cut hair, but any yahoo with working genitalia can become a parent.

I'm not going to raise your fucking kids, but I will instill in them the idea that someone else might disapprove of their asocial caperings, even if you're incapable. So when you need Junior to help you pick up your teeth, remember. . . you may not be the only one teaching them the way the world works.
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In her column of September 29, Palace contributor Liz Pavek expressed her sentiments on the homosexual and a-religious thusly:

The atheists of the world are in need of a new name, they say.
I've never met any of these atheists. I suspect that these are some breed of ivory-tower asshole, common in academia, and bearing approximately as much resemblance to real people as I do to Britney Spears or the Pope.

Daniel Dennett, one of the leading lights of this group of believers in the negative
Hold it, Liz. If you want to proselytize [and, if I recall correctly, the directive to convert non-believers of any stripe, is a core tenet of Christianity, which I suspect may either color the objectivity of this argument, or at least makes for an interesting counterpoint], slagging an alternative viewpoint right off doesn't build a strong rhetorical foundation.

If you want a more objective view or phrase, I suggest "group of folks who'd like to see objective proof of Divinity, rather than using a reliance on faith (blind or otherwise)."

The term "atheist" is too negative, and should be replaced by something more positive
In this, I think Mr. Dennett has been gazing at his navel a bit too hard, and has moved his head too far astern. "Atheist" is a pleasingly neutral term - the only folks who get bent out of shape by its utterance are people who are rather fervent in their faith.

If you're secure in your belief system, someone who harbors doubts about it shouldn't ruffle your feathers nearly this egregiously. The squawking and denigration that ensues when someone dares to maintain a differing opinion seems, to this participant, to be more indicative of the frailty of that faith on the part of the believers, rather than any intellectual, spiritual, or other failing on the part of the cynic. Maybe I'm an abrasive grain of sand, but it's your paroxyms that accrete about it that make the pearl bigger.

-- something along the lines of term "gay," the word co-opted by the homosexuals in the West to describe their destructive, negative, and unattractive lifestyle.
"Hey, let's slap the queers, as long as we're going to denigrate everyone I don't agree with!" That will improve the ol' rhetoric.

I'm not sure what's so "negative" about being gay, or, nine million remodeling shows aside, what's destructive about it, either. I mean, other than the whole "abomination in the eyes of God" thing, but so is eating shellfish, I think. Maybe this is a broad intepretation of the whole "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's ass," commandment. At least it rules out that whole "Coveting thy neighbor's wife" thing, huh?

As far as being unattractive - I know a lot of fuck-ugly straight folks, too.

The term Dennett thinks will describe his fellow unbelievers and himself is "bright."
*wipes coffee off monitor* After an assertion like that, the -last- thing I'd call Mr. Dennett is "bright." Danny boy, you sound like a fucking idiot, trying to co-opt a perfectly serviceable term from normal use to push your agenda. Sorry, thanks for playing, you don't get to come back tomorrow, you don't even get a lousy copy of our home game.

But is it really descriptive of people who not only refuse to believe in a Creator, but refuse to look at any evidence that might lead to belief in such a Creator?
When "evidence" consists of the testimonials of faith that established practitioners recount, then, no, that's really not worth looking at. I'm amused by the bumper stickers that read "Jesus, save me from your followers," because, on the off chance that you, as Christians are -right,- a lot of you are being real assholes about it without any substantial evidence to back you up.

The burden of proof is solidly with those who assert a thing to be true. "I've got a million dollars" (show me the bank statement). "My wife is a Playboy model" (whip out the issue). "God created the universe" (did he keep the receipts for materials?) There's no way to prove that, is there? There are some pretty strong scientific theories that go a long way towards explaining where the universe came from, and they're subjected to rigorous peer review and objective testing, but faith. . . ahh, that's a personal belief, subjective in the extreme. You'll have to pardon my skepticism that your faith, whether it works for you or not, will stand up in the cold light of day for -everyone-.

"Those of us who subscribe to no religion; those of us who rejoice in the real and scorn the false comfort of the unreal, we need a word of our own, a word like 'gay'," says Richard Dawkins, another "bright" light of atheism.
Apparently, Mr. Dawkins needs to get out of his office more often. I would strongly recommend a weekend spent playing video games, consuming mind-altering substances, and enjoying the company of a professional escort - there's some damn fine enjoyment to be had when you're not hell-bent on being an obsteporous dork. We don't need a word any more than Michael Jordan needs another pair of sneakers.

A simple lack of animosity from folks like Ms. Pavek is plenty good, thanks.

Atheists, by their own choice, are believers in a negative.
Note the word "choice." I'd be interested in seeing the statistics of how many people choose to eschew religion after being raised with it compared to those who choose to pursue it after being raised without. I'd quibble with the semantics of Christians' belief in something that doesn't exist [vis a vis, the proof of God's existence] as being essentially the same thing.

Maybe I should pursue an agenda of militant agnosticism - "I don't know if God exists, and neither do you." Nahhh, that's proseltyzing, and that's too much like work.

[to be continued]
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[crosspostd from [livejournal.com profile] elixxir's LJ]

I forget where I read this, but it sums up my thoughts pretty well.

"I hope the universe is random, because I can cope with the idea that all this shit happens by chance, and I haven't done anything to deserve all this bad stuff."

I don't believe what goes around comes around. I don't think there's a higher power calling the shots.

I believe that honesty, integrity, and some hard work (and maybe a bit of luck, which is also something of a DIY commodity) will reward you with success.

I believe that being selfish isn't immoral, it's imperative - if you don't look out for you, who else is going to? I believe in me first, you second. I believe my senses, not some oft-revised book a couple thousand years old. I believe empirical proof, but am open to wonder.

And I think W.C. Fields was THE MAN when he said, "Everyone should believe something. I believe I'll have another drink."
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digitaldiscipline: (rafepark)
[I may or may not be The Science Guy]

Well, it's time to begin the ritual sulking.

Why does Rafe hate New Year's Eve? )
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I believe that driving anything less than eight cylinders is like getting emascualted, that rear drive is the way god intended cars to be propelled, and that automatic transmissions are a crutch for the uncoordinated. I believe in four on the floor and three on the tree. I believe in the carbureator, the dual exhaust, and the Flowmaster. I believe in ten second quarters at one oh five, independent rear suspensions, and that Nitrous is for cheaters who can't develop real horsepower.