Stealing from WNG (Again)

Thanks for the blog fodder, WNG!
I have answered quizzes like this before. If you go back and find one, do not compare my answers. I claim no consistency - Emerson was right.

1.What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It's fleeting; different every minute.

2.What is your greatest fear?
Loneliness. Not the same as being alone, which I like from time to time.

3.Which living person do you most admire?
Sadly, I don't have a ready answer.

4.What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

5.What is the trait you most deplore in others?

6.What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
It depends - are we talking about the four virtues of the classical era? Or the seven Christian virtues? Or maybe the Buddha's Eightfold Path?
Ok, I'm just being pedantic. We all know the one I couldn't care less for is chastity.

7.On what occasion do you lie?
As a rule, when I am trying to spare myself or someone else pain. Which is not logical, because the truth comes out eventually and then the pain is the same if not greater.

8.What do you dislike most about your appearance?
Thinning on top sucks. Especially when you have been known in the past for having long, fabulous, Celtic Warlord hair...

9.What is your greatest regret?
There are so many. Click here for a start...

10.What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Ask me at the end.

11.Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could dance. Can't do it - too self-conscious.

12. What is your current state of mind?
Pensive. Just came from a documentary on Nietzsche.

13. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I'd be less prone to rash acts; I'd be more mindful.

14. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I hope it is yet to come.

15. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
I'd like to come back as a bird. I think self-powered flight would be awesome.

16. What is your most treasured possession?
My wits. When they are gone, kill me in my sleep, please.

17. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Knowing too much. (Foreshadowing a future blog post.)

18. Where would you like to live?
A warm coast.

19. What is your most marked characteristic.
I'm obnoxious.

20. Who are your favorite writers?
Fitzgerald, Tolkien, Herbert, Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov, Rilke, HHDL, Aitken, Kapleau, Gibran, Gracian, and so many more.

21. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Lancelot du Lac. The "ill-made knight" and I are cut from the same cloth.

22. Who are your heroes in real life?
Activists. Even those I don't agree with; at least they have the conviction to do something.

23. What is it that you most dislike?
Avarice. Greed. Selfishness.

24. What is your motto?
Honor super omnia.

25. Favorite journey?
Any trip that ends at the ocean.

26. What do you value most in your friends?
Intelligence, patience, compassion - in whatever order I need them that day.

27. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"the bottom line is..."
"the fact of the matter is..."
"are we out of apple butter?"

28. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
The Buddha. Of course, his story is everyone's story in some ways, so I guess it makes sense that I can identify with him.

29. What is your greatest extravagance?
It's a toss-up; eating out, having parrots as pets, or my knives.

30. If you could change one thing about your family what would it be?
I'd actually like them... but that's not changing them, that's changing me, isn't it?

31. What is your favorite occupation?
Professional puppet wrangler.
Victoria's Secret strap adjuster.
Webcomic Rockstar.
I would also like to be paid to point and laugh at rodeo cowboys when the bulls kick the shit out of them. That would be awesome...

32. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Gentleness of spirit. Also - no gag reflex.

33. What is the quality you most like in a man?
It's tempting to say "no gag reflex" to this one as well, just to get Jim and Maximus all hawt... but I have to go with self-sufficiency.

34. How would you like to die.
I wouldn't LIKE to die... but I suppose something heroic would be nice. Maybe while saving a box of kittens or freeing all the calves in a veal production facility. Naturally, once it happens I plan to explore the galaxy in my CAV.

35. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
See 15 above.

Best Supervillain Ever

From time to time every man feels a bit... inadequate. It's not like any of your partners has ever said anything about size (well, not to your face), but you wish it was just a bit bigger. In my case, it's usually caused by watching pr0n - where do they find those guys? More importantly, how do those guys buy pants?! Normally when you see an appendage that large on someone, it has an elbow... but I digress.

Each of us has our own coping mechanisms. For some it's cars and trucks; for others it might be big screen TVs, stereo equipment, power tools, firearms - I'm sure someone might even argue that blogging is a way of compensating for a perceived lack elsewhere. (Don't say it. Just don't, ok?)

Raksha recently brought it to my attention that back in the 60s, DC comics explored this issue about as openly as any comic could. In Doom Patrol #70, they featured the ultimate in penile extensions...

Click here to see how his very brief (like 4 pages) career is brought to an end by a MTF Tranny superhero who melts his "apparatus" while wearing a frog mask.

Seriously. I'm not making this up.

(The second to last frame gave me nightmares.)

My Friends Know Me All Too Well

This was in my Email recently...

Thanks, Max...

Mystic Ball

Since most of my American readers all pigged out yesterday, I thought I'd post something very physical to motivate us. A while back I stumbled on this documentary called "Mystic Ball."

This is Chinlone, the national pastime of Myanmar (Burma). Chinlone is played with a ball made of woven rattan strips (the word chinlone means "cane ball" in Burmese). The video shows both the team style, called wein kat or "circle kick," and the solo style (performed only by women) called tapandaing. Although the Burmese consider chinlone a competitive sport, it is more of a cooperative performance, with the emphasis being on the beauty and entertainment value of the play, as opposed to winning or losing. Each team of six consists of 5 supporters who pass the ball back to the center soloist, all done in time with music.

Dedicated chinlone players experience an intensely focused state of mind, similar to that achieved in meditation, which they refer to as jhana. The link between Buddhism and chinlone is well established, and for centuries the major Buddhist festivals in Myanmar have been celebrated with chinlone - sometimes by thousands of teams.

Chinlone is similar to football games played around the world. Takraw in Thailand, sepak raga in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, sipa in the Philippines, kator in Laos and da cau in Vietnam are all similar, and probably have a common ancestor lost to history now; possibly the ancient Chinese game of cuju, which FIFA recognizes as the oldest form of soccer, or the similar Japanese game known as kemari.

For those more inclined to keep score, there is a competitive version of the game played over a net, called sepak takraw in Malaysia. It is considered one of the most physically demanding games on the planet, and in this video you can see why (no sound on this one).

Chinlone is also related to the family of sports played by kicking a shuttlecock, know as jianzi in China and Taiwan, and jegichagi in Korea.

There is some evidence to suggest that a variation of these games traveled across the Bering Straits and influenced Native Americans, who also played a variety of games keeping a ball up with the feet. These games are thought to be the origin of footbag, also known as hacky sack. Hacky sack has gone to some insane complexity in the last two decades. Observe:

I don't know about you, but I feel really fat, lazy, and uncoordinated now...

Sunday Sermon, Thanksgiving Edition

Today I am thankful.

I try to be thankful every day, but that can be difficult. It seems that we are incapable of contentedness; as Ms. Lang put it so well, constant craving has always been. Humans are possibly the only creatures on this planet who spend so much time yearning. Perhaps that is the price of self-awareness - we are aware, and thus we grasp our mortality and the fact that we can't have everything, try everything, be everything.

On this day in particular, we are encouraged to be thankful, but all too often it takes a negative form - we are told that we are luckier than others who have nothing. Unfortunately, no amount of looking at those less fortunate than ourselves can fully quench the want; we seem doomed to look at what we have and find it wanting - and look at what others have and wish it was ours. The old zenjis called it "the monkey mind," because it snatches at every shiny thing that wanders by. Detaching ourselves from those desires is what the Buddha set out to do way back when, and I think that's what everyone wants, even if they don't use those terms.

So today, I have decided to be thankful simply for what I am, not what I possess. I am not my job, nor my life situation, nor the balance of my checking accounts, nor the contents of my refrigerator (tasty though they are!). I am human. I am able to think, to reason, to realize. I am able to step back from the hungry animal in myself, and decide to awaken.

I am human, and for that I am thankful.

Go in Peace.

A Sad Tale...

An actual conversation that took place by IM yesterday. Click on the link first to see what caused it all...

His Sinfulness: check this out - Free Rice

Nerdygirl: Okay, that's awesome. And addicting.

His Sinfulness: I can't stop. I've donated 2320 grains of rice.

Nerdygirl: Awesome! What's your vocab level?

His Sinfulness: Vocab level = 49. Help. I can't stop. Stop me, before I define again.

Nerdygirl: But you're defining for a good cause... I've donated 400 grains. It'll be a good way to work on my vocab, I'm only at 38.

His Sinfulness: Oh, it's all fun and games for you, isn't it? But for me, this is a test of who I am! It's there, mocking me, saying "Ok, smart guy, do you know what fistula means? Hmm, do you? How about abrogate? or disconsolate?"

Nerdygirl:[shaking head] And here I thought we made so much progress in distancing your self worth from your vocabulary. Are you backsliding?

His Sinfulness:
My name is Linus. And I'm a Vocabulaholic.

Nerdygirl:[snork] Hi Linus.

His Sinfulness: You're never cured, you know? It's just one day at a time, Lord.

Nerdygirl: Damnit, this means I'm your sponsor, doesn't it?

His Sinfulness: Would "lexicographer" have been better there? You know I'm very serious about my perspicacity...

Nerdygirl: Put the ten dollar words down, Linus. Put them down, and walk away.

His Sinfulness: Possibly "jargonophile"? Vocab Level = 50!

Nerdygirl: Jargonophile makes it sound like you have sex with Mason jars.

His Sinfulness: Fuck! I'm back to step three. It might have gone better if I hadn't chosen Samuel Johnson as my "higher power"...

Nerdygirl: yeah, that might have been a mistake...

His Sinfulness: Possibly even a peccadillo. AAGH! I'm on a bender! I'm binging on vocab! I'm going to end up passed out in the reference section of the library again, amid a pile of dictionaries and thesauri!

Nerdygirl: [sigh] At least let me know which library you'll be attending...

His Sinfulness: [defiant] I might just hit them ALL!

Nerdygirl: Last time I thought you'd be at Coe, and ended up running through six floors while you were face down in the children's section of the public library.

His Sinfulness: Hah! You're not my spelling teacher! I'll do as I please! I might even use e before i... regardless of the placement of c!

Nerdygirl: [sigh] You would bring shame to the Flock?

His Sinfulness: The Flock won't even notice... half of them can't spell anyway.

Nerdygirl: That shame which cannot be removed, regardless of how many times one backspaces or whiteouts?

His Sinfulness: AAAGGHH!! Must... re-edit... every... blog... post....
only 590 or so... should be done by monday... then I can start checking the comic site over...
WHAT DO YOU MEAN "caracal" isn't listed?! Fucking cheap online dictionary! I need a real dictionary... the good stuff... there is a compact version of the OED in the Matthison reading room... I think my magnifier is still in my backpack...

Luckily, his Sinfulness was found by his handlers about four hours later. They were alerted to his whereabouts by concerned Barnes and Noble staff, who found him crumpled in a heap on the floor, sobbing in front of a display of Jeff Foxworthy's latest book, "Learning to Talk More Gooder Fastly." Mr. Foxworthy could not be reached for comment.

News of the Day

I was in a pretty good mood this morning. I unlocked a couple new characters in the video game I was playing last night, I skipped the gym this morning and slept in (because I'm playing badminton tonight and I don't want to be too tired) and G-Fresh made breakfast for us both this morning - it was looking like a good day.

Then I read my favorite blogs.

Leave it to Maximus, our local indy music reporter and harbinger of doom, to damage my calm with truth...

Seems the House of Representatives wants to stop homegrown terrorists. You know, those crazy radicals who publicly disagree with the government, or think about disagreeing with the government, or listen to radio on the internet where other people disagree with the government... Read up on the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007" (HR 1955) - it's scary.

In other news, we got a package yesterday at the Black Vatican. No - it wasn't our regular pr0n shipment (that comes on Thursdays), nor was it another of that other Vatican's many attempts to convert/poison/blow me up...

It was preserves and pumpkin butter from our #1 Fangirl, Mayren! While on her recent trip to Solvang she kept us in mind. Her dedication is both touching and tasty!

Turning now to sports. The local Flock played wallyball last night for the first time. Wallyball is a volleyball variant, played in a handball court. The back wall and ceiling are out of bounds on the serve; after that, pretty much everything goes, including sidewall spikes, and hard bumps into the ceiling that become attacks. Aside from repeatedly getting hit in the head, I liked it. It's not a replacement for handball or badminton, but it might be a fun way to work on my volleyball skills once a week.

So - what's new in your world? Please report your beginnings, ends, discoveries, disappointments and the like. Obviously, nothing much is happening around here...

Maggie, Mother of Invention

As you all know, I love handball. The only thing that could improve handball (they do call it "the perfect game") would be to make it less of a sausage fest. Vanilla Fresh, Flynn, and Doktor Smith are all attractive in their own sweaty, hairy way, but I'd really like to spend more time in the presence of attractive, lycra-clad women. Alas, my attempts to convert the ladies of the Flock to handball have mostly fallen short. This is due, in part, to the nature of the game. Unlike badminton, where coed play works nicely, handball just doesn't lend itself to mixed doubles very well, and even less to singles competition between the sexes. The ball is small and very dense so it can be painful to hit, and it takes considerable strength to make a good shot that hits the front wall the way you want it to. It is telling that in competitive handball there is no mixed doubles category - it just doesn't work.

I was talking with one of the more competitive females in the Flock (Maggie), and she was advocating for racquetball. She argued that it didn't hurt like handball, and that the racquet gave her, a small person (5'4"), the ability to hit with sufficient power to be competitive.

Now, I was an avid racquetball player at one time. I suffered from a wicked case of tennis elbow because of it until I saw the light and gave up that tool of the devil, the racquet. I have since been heard to ridicule racquetball as a "game fit only for little girls and children," but it occurred to me that we might be able to level the playing field by taking the racquet away from the larger, stronger player. We discussed it, and Maggs agreed to give it a try.

It was a resounding success. We used a racquetball and played to 15 as is the custom of that game. Maggie used her racquet, and I went in armed with only "my mitts," as Marv would say. Although I lost all three games, it was an excellent workout, and the scores were close enough to indicate that with due diligence I could possibly win in the future - which is exactly the type of situation that motivates me the most.

Since then, I have identified only two problems with our new invention:
- The woeful lack of lycra in Maggie's wardrobe
- It needs a name

If you have a name idea for our fabulous new game - something that conveys its hybrid nature - let us know! We'll give you naming credit when we become famous...

The Pope is Out Right Now...

"You can never be too broken."

One of my former profs said that. His specialty is poetry, and he's in favor of a life on the emotional edge, to be close to the feelings that inform the greatest verse. I am inclined to agree with him... most of the time.

I think of it as a state of willingness. It's being willing to keep your shields low, willing to stay open to others, to reach out and to stay awake to others. It's knowing that you will get stomped on emotionally from time to time, but believing that the effort is important enough to risk that. The broken moments are outweighed by the moments when you see your attempts to connect making some kind of difference, making the world a less cold place.

Sometimes, however, you just take too many unanswered blows. As of Monday afternoon, I am officially tired of reaching into the piranha tank without a fucking glove. A string of events beginning a few months ago has finally made me raise my shield and close my visor.

In simple terms, I need time to regroup. I have no energy to advise, foster, prop up, shelter, coddle, succor, sympathize, or handle anyone else right now. I guess you could say that I'm emotionally away from my desk. Leave a voice mail, and my compassion will get back to you as soon as it returns. I don't care that this is whiny or indulgent. I don't care that I'll read this later and be horrified with myself. I don't even care that the people who have upset me probably won't read this - and if they do, they are unlikely to realize that it's aimed at them.

The poetry from all this better really kick ass...


There has been an unsettled issue in the Flock for some time now... Beginning with this post back in June, Vanilla Fresh and I have been waging a quiet little war on each other.

In that post, I proclaimed that I was undefeated in singles to that point in the year. In the comments, VF rightly reminded me that he had beaten me in a single game. To which, I responded that a single game did not a match make, and the battle was on.

Because we usually play doubles or cutthroat, it was quite a while before our next game of singles could be played. When it finally did happen, I was victorious after a titanic struggle, making the score one to one in our best of three series - and then the others showed up so we switched to doubles. The final outcome was postponed again.

Finally, this past Thursday we met to play singles. No other players showed up to join us for the entire session, so we were able to play a full best of three. VF took the second game on the strength of some wicked serving and strong forecourt play, but I was able to win both the first and third games by using arcane Sith techniques and a few nigh on to crippling dive shots.

I walked from the court feeling like I'd been hit by a bus, but vindicated. My winning streak was intact - I could hold my head high while I limped home. I felt positively gladiatorial for about 24 hours... and only for 24 hours because the following day I played in my first badminton tournament.

I signed up for the men's B class of the UW intramural badminton tournament. The guy I played - a grad student from Hong Kong - absolutely wrecked me. In the first game I scored two points, and in the second I scored four. For those of you not familiar with badminton (old school) scoring, that's six points to his thirty!

It wasn't all that bad, actually. He was a very good sport about it, and we joked the entire time. It was made even less painful when I found out that the other two Flock competitors (Flynn and Beckers) met with similarly horrible fates. We all walked into it expecting nothing less - we have been playing badminton for about 6 weeks - most of the people we were playing against have been at it since they were in elementary school!

So, the great Handball War of Aught-Seven is over, and the victor has had his ego stamped down by badminton, and all is right with the world...

The List

Somewhere in the back of everyone's mind, there is stored a list of things you wish you had said. This list is specifically for the things that it's too late to say now - there are no "do-overs." It's right next to the list of things you wish you hadn't said, and in the vicinity of memories of the awkward moments in jr. high when you tried to speak to the cool kids and they shunned you. At least that's where I keep mine, but my mental filing system resembles the love child of the Dewey decimal system and DOS 3.1, so yours may be easier to find.

At any rate, I have been reviewing mine of late. I began to write about it and it turned into an epic saga, a veritable Ring des Nibelungen of regret, but once I got the outline done, I realized that it was just too big. It would have required a cast of thousands, location shoots all over the world, CGI special effects, Jack Black to play me, and Peter Jackson at the helm. I just couldn't get the backing.

So instead, it's this blog post. I had to cut the dance sequences, the aerial dogfight over the Grand Canyon, the scale model of my elementary school blowing up, the barroom brawl, the come-from-behind touchdown scene (in fact, the whole sports montage had to go), the scene of my devirgining where toothpaste was the lubricant (tingly!), the car chase, and that one night in 1984 - but I think it still holds together artistically...

Ok, so all of that was just a clever ruse to bury the list itself deeper in the post, so the casual readers will miss it. They'll come to the blog and look at this long-ass post and say, "Oh fuck, Linus is preaching again," and just click right on through. And don't think I don't know who you are, you 20 second visitors! My site metrics are so powerful I know what tissues you use to wipe up when you are done jacking to pr0n, so don't try to pass yourself off as hardcore. You're only hardcore around here if you know (without a search engine) about Carpocration Gnosticism. Carpocrates and I are tight - we go way back, so don't even front, yo.

I suppose it's possible that I could actually be allowing this post to run hither and yon because it is fucking hard to actually publish this list. This is a list of all the times that I had a chance to be really honest, but failed to do so. All of the local Flock has heard me say, "He who hesitates is lost." If that's true, this list proves that the Coast Guard already gave up on my sorry ass. And don't think that because these were in the past, I don't still feel them. Each one is like a little hang nail, and hitting the "publish" button is like dipping your finger in lemon juice. It's something akin to going to a family reunion, where the only funny story any of your relatives seem to be able to remember about you is the time you peed your pants in church - big laughs for everyone else, and you have to go along and nod, and say, "Yes, my childhood incontinence was terribly amusing, Uncle Bill. Thanks for telling that one again."

So here, in no particular order, is the list of things I wish I'd said. I have cut it down to just the greatest hits; these are the things that are huge in my mind, or the ones that have happened more than once. Unlike a recording artist, however, the existence of a greatest hits list does not mean that my career is mostly over. Oh no, I'm sure I'll continue to be a wishy-washy jackass for many years to come.

The list:

"Yes, I would like that very much."

"No, that would be wrong, and you know it."

"I'm sorry."

"No, not without a condom."

"No, that hill is way too steep."

"I love you."

"Biting is only good sometimes."

"I don't love you anymore."

"I knew all along."

"Yes, I would like pain medication please."

"I know this is over."

"He is better for you."

"The sex was mediocre."

"Will you marry me?"


A Big Fat Lie

There are some things you should never say to a fat person.

For example, when the fat person mentions that they won't eat what you are offering them because they are trying to lose weight, you shouldn't say, "Oh, you're not fat!" I realize that some people have an unrealistic view of their bodies, but I am clearly not a bulimic. Do not blow smoke up my kilt about how I "carry it well" or how I'm "stocky." I am not just "solid," nor am I "husky." I don't need anyone to pat me on the back and tell me it's ok to be fat. It's not ok, it's unhealthy, and pretending otherwise is bullshit. It's not ok to shoot heroine and no one would tell an addict otherwise, but people lie to the fat on a daily basis. We tell smokers constantly that cigarettes are killing them, but we tell fat people it's ok to be "big and beautiful." I've been irritated by this behavior for several years now - soon I will tear someone's arm off and beat them with the wet end for it.

I know that there are different body types and I don't think everyone should be a swimsuit model, but being fat is unhealthy, period. It is shortening my life as we speak. By not doing anything about it for all these years, I may have fucked myself and my loved ones out of time we could have spent together. I may have set myself up for a heart attack or diabetes or high blood pressure or joint problems or any number of other issues by allowing myself to get fat and stay that way.

I'm not advocating a country-wide wave of fat bashing, but it would be nice to see some honesty. When the fat person in your life shows a little initiative and tries to make good decisions, don't lie to them - support them the same way you would support a friend who is trying to quit smoking or dry out. It's the best thing for their health, and it's safer for you - because I'm going to fucking END the next person who tries to tell me that I'm just "big-boned."

Fashion Gone Awry

Fashion is somewhat baffling to me. I have never been able to understand why anyone would pay the prices that designers demand for the kitschy crap that totters down the runway each season, but clearly someone wants it. In fact, someone wants it so badly they are willing to just rent it.

From Bags to Riches is a reprehensible little company that will allow you to use an absurdly priced designer handbag for an absurdly high monthly fee. Observe:
I would think that it should be obvious that a handbag should NEVER cost $1900, but apparently someone is willing to pay that amount. Equally baffling to me is the idea that someone would fork out $190 and then give the bag back after a month. Is it not obvious that if you can't aford to purchase a luxury item, you definitely shouldn't rent it?

If you simply must have the bag, basic math should tell you that you could save $190 per month for 10 months and you could own it. Of course, by then this little bit of wretched excess might not be in style anymore, but you'd have a little nestegg set aside for whatever the new bit of fluff is that you can't live without. I would even posit that you could buy the bag, use it for a few months, and then sell it for less than purchase price on Ebay and still have paid less for it on a monthly basis than if you rented it from these folks.

The most appaling part of their website is their mission statement:
"At From Bags to Riches fashion has a deeper meaning than just the latest styles and trends. We believe the power of fashion inspires excitement, confidence, and that “feel good” vibe every woman gets from wearing something new. We know that when a woman looks her best she feels her best. Our mission is to extend this feeling to every woman on a regular basis by offering high fashion at a highly affordable price."

Do I need to point out that getting your "feel good vibe" from fashion accessories is kind of pathetic? This is indicative of an absolutely ridiculous level of status worship. Priorities have gone completely wonky. Please tell me that my Flock is more sensible than this...

It Begins... Again.

Today I officially begin, once again, the process of applying to grad schools. I %absolutely love% spending $50 to be rejected by strangers. If I wanted that experience, I'd just start dating again.

The application itself wouldn't be so bad if you didn't have to write that damned personal essay. Last time around, mine was about 3 pages long, and went into some detail about my odd religious upbringing and subsequent study of religion. It was well written, extensively edited, and quite safe.

Baylor has changed things a bit this year; their website now says, "submit a personal statement, including academic/research area interests." It's tempting to make some really outrageous claims like "I plan to challenge the current academic understanding of the conversion process in American Religions..." but then I remember that I don't want to piss them off. Some of the people who created the current academic understanding of the conversion process are on the faculty at Baylor. I suppose I will have to keep it down to the basics - conversion theory, growth of new religions, and the Bahá’í Faith in America. Is that specific enough to be interesting, yet broad enough to build an academic career upon? I think so, but we will see what they have to say.

"They" are those academics who already have their little collection of initials after their names. In my Sociology class just the other day, we were discussing the idea of job specialization, and how it is in your best interest, economically speaking, to join a profession, and then keep everyone else out. In theory, it keeps your specialization rare, and gives you greater value in the marketplace. So applying to grad school is, in essence, asking a group of people to let you into their club, which will eventually lessen their worth. As you progress in a grad program, you slowly make the transition from "student" to "protege" to "colleague," but in that final capacity, you really are also seen as "competitor."

It could be argued that academics would be best served by not admitting people that they feel are smarter than themselves. At least not until they are far enough along in their careers that they are no longer concerned about competition. By admitting folks who are not quite as bright as they are, the career academic lessens the risk of losing in future competition with that student - assuming that said student even makes it through the program and receives their own little collection of initials.

Of course, we cling to the idea that academics are concerned about the progress of their field and that they would never think in such base ways as to purposely choose candidates that they thought were slightly less capable than themselves. In fact, some scholars pride themselves on the success of their students and encourage them to eclipse their old mentors, but what about the subconscious mind? Is it possible that by being a challenging applicant with new ideas and an aggressive intellectual stance, you are forcing those old guard professors to react negatively to you on a subconscious level?

Maybe I'll just revise last year's essay.