Sunday, March 27, 2005
Friday, March 25, 2005
"All I have is some loose jello, okay?"
Once again, if you guess the quote, you get to pick the quote for next week, although this is not mandatory.
Also, a question: Given the choice (which is the point of the question), would you prefer...
A) Pretty good quotes from well-known, easily guessable movies, or
B) Super mega awesome quotes from movies you may not be familiar with?
The Divine Ms. Eek, once again.
Almost dry fountain. The non-dryness is probably snowmelt, but I could be wrong...
Much as I liked the wood color, I just had to go B&W for that old-timey feel.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Of course, their dream solution is to take the courts out of the equation altogether. Maybe they can get 3 or 4 senators in a room together and bang out a constitutional amendment decreeing that the feeding tubes of people named Terri Schiavo cannot be removed. That'd fix those judges' little red wagon! Ha!
Can we please put democracy's feeding tube back in now?
(okay, I really did not like the way the line breaks in the posting by e-mail - too many line breaks in odd places)
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
In theory, Democrats should be able to capitalize on any of these negative outcomes, as they can all be laid clearly at the doorstep of the Republicans. In reality, they would be pilloried by the Republicans and the media for opportunistically "politicizing" a national tragedy.
Therefore, what I'm advocating is that the Democrats get out in front and periodically raise a big stink (and for the love of God, don't capitulate!) about the various ways that the 100% Republican-controlled government has made us vulnerable:
- Failure to aggressively secure ports, Russian nukes, or chemical or nuclear plants
- Stoking the rage of radical Islam.
- Profligate deficit spending and reckless, unfair tax cuts, making us a debtor nation with potential archrival China our major creditor and reducing the dollar's viability as the world's de facto currency.
- Destroying goodwill abroad, drastically reducing the chances of any further help in the event of a terrorist or financial emergency.
- Failure to guarantee free, fair, and verifiable elections, compromising the legitimacy of our government.
My first thought was that they should be civil about it, but the more I think about it, the more I think righteous anger is appropriate, and will be harder for the Republicans to counter or dismiss. If you repeatedly warn someone that their actions will hurt America, and they accuse you of being an obstructionist or traitor, then I think you have a right, nay, an obligation to be furious when you are proven right.
Am I rooting for catastrophe? Of course not. I think it is highly probable, if not inevitable, but I desperately hope to be proven wrong.
What I am rooting for is that the Democrats will not let the Republicans get away with saying, "Well, these things happen, no-one could have seen it coming, we must all pull together now and do whatever we say," as they did after 9/11. They must be held accountable for their willful refusal to protect America from harm.
I fear that the Democrats have neither the sense nor the spine to do this, or that if they do, that the media will not pay any attention. Their only hope may be to somehow find a balance between language sensationalistic enough that the media can't stay away, but not so sensationalistic that the Democrats can be dismissed as marginal tinfoil-hat loonies. It's a lot easier when the media is with you than against you, unfortunately.
UPDATE: Actually, I think this is how I would like the Democrats to respond to accusations of politicization (but without the swearing): "This is not about politics. This is about the Republicans lying and fucking up over and over again. They have proven beyond all rational doubt that they cannot be trusted with the reins of government, and we ask that when it comes time for the American people to make their voices heard once again, that they remember which party tried to protect their interests, and which party betrayed them."
What is more intriguing to me is the continuation of the pattern of expanding federal and majority power at the expense of the states and the minority. The former is especially ironic, as the Republicans have traditionally been the (very selective) champions of "state's rights", using it as an excuse to give states the go-ahead to turn a blind eye to or actively encourage racism and pollution.
Where I'm going with this is that the Democrats should explore the possibility that this power grab, coupled with the 2000 election decision, may have weakened states' rights constitutional standing, giving the federal government the right to step in when the state is not adequately protecting an individual's rights. Granted, that's not really what's going on in Florida, but they're pretending it is. As with 2000, they also claim that this is not a precedent, but I'm skeptical that anything can simply be declared not a precedent.
In any case, the next time the Democrats see a legitimate instance of individual rights being trampled while the state government looks the other way, they can point to 2000 and Terri Schiavo as justification for the feds stepping in. I would also like to see them bring this case up every single time someone's life support is about to be turned off against their spouse/parent/son/daughter's will, as with Bush's Futile Care Act from back in his Texas governor days.
And I would like to see the Democrats cataloguing and filing away all of the Republicans' tricks for consolidating majority power, especially the "nuclear option" if it comes to that, and using them mercilessly if they regain power in 2006 or 2008 or... ever (we're going to turn into Russia if we don't get serious election reform, but that's another story altogether).
It might not do much good with W. still wielding veto power (at least in theory; no-one's ever seen him actually use it), but if we can get a Democrat in the White House, he or she is going to need FDR-like power to start reversing all the damage the Republicans have done at home and abroad.
The only sticking point would be how to make this temporary: What I would love to see is 2-4 years of rubbing the Republicans' noses in their own parliamentary shit, and throwing their own self-serving words back in their faces every time they squeal about it, followed by a magnanimous bipartisan bill that enshrines into law all of the power-sharing, minority-protecting courtesies the Republicans blew up, like the 15-minute voting window, redistricting only after the census, and possibly the filibuster.
Preferably with some strong and eloquent verbiage about why the bill was necessary, to be trotted out when future congressmen attempt to remove or circumvent it, as they undoubtedly will. I really do like the jiu-jitsu idea of using the Republicans' own blind self-interest against them, both by taking advantage of the power they grabbed, and then using it to make them beg for a return to the comity they destroyed.
What can I say, I'm an idealistic dreamer. In the real world, if the Democrats ever do retake control, the only suspense will be whether they use their new power to exact revenge, or just hand the club back to the Republicans and beg for more beatings because it makes them feel loved.
And, of course, if the Dems don't start winning elections, then the Republican race towards single-party dictatorship will accelerate, as they continue to chip away at the integrity of the Constitution and the electoral process, unchecked by emasculated Democrats and a judiciary increasingly infiltrated by hard-right ideologues.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
So here are a couple of photos instead.
I got nothin'. I just like shadows and reflections.
Oh, I'm being followed by a chain shadow, chain shadow chain shadow...
Friday, March 18, 2005
I was reading a review of The Dress Lodger, which the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. recently recommended to me. The heart seems to be a recurring motif, which reminded me of a question I wonder about from time to time:
If the ancient Greeks believed that the heart was the seat of consciousness, and the brain was merely a cooling system for the blood, does that mean that they perceived their thoughts and inner voice (and, um, Personal Narrative) as coming from their chest? I cannot imagine my inner voice coming from anywhere other than my head, but is that just cultural conditioning? Would it possible to raise a child in such a way that they perceive their inner voice as originating from their toes or their pancreas or their naughty bits? (That last one may be redundant for some guys...)
Actually, thanks to The Miracle Of Wiki, I have learned that maybe it was just Aristotle:
Ancient Greeks held differing views on the function of the brain. Hippocrates believed the brain to be the seat of intelligence, but Aristotle held that the brain was a cooling mechanism for the blood, while the heart was the seat of intelligence. Aristotle reasoned that humans are more rational than the beasts because they have a proportionally larger brain to cool their hot-bloodedness (Bear, 2001).I started to go off on an angry rant about Aristotle just making shit up, but I think I will just limit myself to noting that there are probably a whole bunch of animals with gigantic hearts who are just plain dumb as stumps, and that it is really quite extraordinary to believe that a person or animal could be knocked out or killed instantly by a sharp blow to their blood-cooling system. Also, shouldn't such victims have conspicuously overheated blood?
But I digress.
This week's quote:
"Character is what you are in the dark."
And for those of you who like cats... there'll be cats.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
However, my highly placed confidential source also reports that Nicole Richie remains cool, so it looks like the world still has some catching up to do.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
While the White House has helped convince more than two-thirds of those polled that Social Security is heading for a crisis or possible bankruptcy without change, 56 percent disapprove of his approach, a survey of 1,001 adults conducted March 10-13 shows. By comparison, 38 percent approved of his handling of the issue and 52 percent disapproved of it in mid-December.Does everyone see the beauty of this? Bush and the Republicans have succeeded in making a sizable majority of Americans believe that Social Security is in a state of crisis, while at the same time failing miserably at convincing them that their plan will save it.
So, if SS is in mortal danger, and no-one trusts Bush to save it, that opens up a pretty huge opportunity for the Democrats. Yes, I've heard everyone saying, "Don't offer a plan! Don't bail the Republicans out!", but I don't really buy that. Offering a simple, sober, sensible plan like "Raise the FICA cap - problem solved" that bears zero resemblance to Bush's dramatic, roll-the-dice-in-the-stock-market plan is not bailing the Republicans out. And if the Democrats can frame themselves as the party that saved Social Security from BushCo, then so much the better.
Now, if we can just get America to wake up to the fact that the Republicans haven't actually made us safer from terrorism, then maybe we can get rid of their sorry criminal asses once and for all...
Personal Narrative is something I've thought about off and on for a long time - usually every time I would see someone who clearly thought they were a lot cooler than they actually were. Lately I find myself thinking about it more than usual, which I attribute to the dawning of three closely-related ages: The Age Of The Cellphone, The Age Of Reality TV, and The Age Of The Asshole.
The Age Of The Cellphone is pretty self-explanatory. We have reached a point where every idiot and many non-idiots have cellphones, and love to talk on them loudly and at length in public places. It's a combination of conversation and performance, as they attempt to impress not only the person on the other end of the call, but also everyone in the immediate vicinity. What makes this somewhat intriguing (although still mostly repellent) is the way it opens a window into that person's Personal Narrative, as the story that they tell of their life is invariably one in which they are the hero: They did something brilliant at work or have a sure-thing great new job opportunity or promotion in the works; some chick is totally into them; they told someone off/stood their ground/didn't let someone pull a fast one on them. I can't remember ever hearing anyone on a cellphone talking about what a major-league fuckup they are; at most, it's a humorously-embarrassing-yet-charming anecdote. They are always supremely cool and/or competent. Now, I don't know a lot of people, but I know enough of them to know that the supremely cool and competent ones are in a very small minority. And among cellphone users, it's even smaller. I also hold cellphones responsible for the wherever-I-am-is-my-living-room phenomenon, often observed in movie theaters.
The Age Of Reality TV is something I was certain was unsustainable, but now looks like it will outlast most Chinese dynasties. I believe that its effect has been to reinforce the validity of the Personal Narrative. Before reality TV, if you were a nobody, deep down on some level, you knew you were a nobody. It was just the way the world was. But now, it looks like any nobody can attain 15 minutes of undeserved stardom on some cheesy reality show, so now instead of being just a nobody, everyone can think of themselves as the star of their own reality show, and behave as the stars of actual reality show have instructed them: Be rude, be loud, be selfish, be deceitful, be narcissistic and vain, that's the only way to get ahead and get noticed! Reality TV is steroids for the Personal Narrative, complete with the 'roid rage and general social maladjustment, as dysfunctional, antisocial behavior is made to seem normal and even admirable. Which leads us to...
Yes, I'm aware, The Age Of The Asshole is a harder claim to make, as assholes have always walked among us, ever since Oog gave Gronk the first fur wedgie. However, I don't think we have ever elected them quite so enthusiastically and prolifically into power before. Yes, we've had plenty of asshole presidents and congressmen and bureaucrats before, but the current crew is the first group to flaunt it rather than conceal it, and it doesn't hurt their popularity at all. If anything, it enhances it, which to me can only mean that there are more and bigger assholes around than ever before, and they like to vote for their own kind. I think assholism is closely related to the degree to which a person buys into their own Personal Narrative. Because if you're the hero of your own story, then anything you do is by definition heroic, and anyone who annoys you or gets in your way is a villain, and we all know what heroes do to villains. But no matter how violent or mean-spirited it is, hey, it's okay, because you're the hero and they're the villain.
I'm not sure if everyone has a Personal Narrative; I certainly don't think they have to be uniformly grandiose, although those are the ones that usually capture my attention. I think decoding and understanding someone's Personal Narrative can be very valuable in getting along with them, or deciding whether you even want to. Personally (heh), I try very hard to not have a Personal Narrative; I want to view myself and my place in the world as objectively and realistically as possible, but I still catch myself constructing my own personal mythology about certain things. In my defense, it's often not all that flattering, and I could probably fill a whole 'nother post on that topic alone (but won't). But I try not to use my Personal Narrative to aggrandize myself, I use it to try to understand the way I interact with myself and the world, and vice versa.
I believe one of the keys to contentment and balance is to understand who you are, and to just be who you are. If you want to be a different person, that's fine, but become that person, don't just tell yourself that you already are. The larger the gap between who you are and who you tell yourself you are, the more insecure you are, and the more foolish you look.
UPDATE: Oops, I kinda forgot one of the main points I wanted to make, about trolls and Republicans, especially the libertarian-leaning ones: That they have their own personal narrative about how they are or will be terribly rich and successful and have prosperous retirements, because they are such hardworkers and savvy businesspeople. With the obvious corollary that anyone who is not set for life must be lazy and foolish, and therefore deserving of whatever poverty or misfortune befalls them. This is a large part of why I despise "I got mine, fuck you" Republicans so very very much.
Monday, March 14, 2005
In a case brought by Mexico, the court said Mr. Medellín and 50 other Mexicans on death row in the United States should get new hearings because they were not given access to consular officials, as required by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which Washington has been a signatory for decades.Well, this is sounding vaguely familiar so far...
Initially, the Bush administration flirted with sanity by recognizing the reciprocal implications for Americans abroad and promising to abide by the court's ruling. But eventually, hotter heads prevailed, and someone finally remembered that this is, after all, the "Fuck You!" administration:
Last week, just days after accepting the court's judgment, the administration revealed its hand: it said it had withdrawn from the optional protocol. Apparently forgetting its concern about citizens arrested abroad, the State Department said it wanted to end the court's meddling in the American judicial system.I just don't get this. Are the Bushies deliberately trying to put Americans overseas (or across the border) at risk? Do they believe that other countries will give Americans a higher standard of treatment than we guarantee to their citizens, out of either goodwill or fear? Do they simply want to make Americans afraid to leave the country, or foreigners afraid to enter it? Or have they simply not thought it through beyond the shallow macho satisfaction of telling the rest of the world to get bent... again?
My bet is, this isn't really about fifty hapless Mexicans; this is preparation for when they start snatching and grabbing Saudi or Iraqi or Iranian or Egyptian citizens off the street here, and they want to make sure they can't call their embassy for help, because it might hinder The War On Terror™.
Coupled with the Administration's use of the Geneva Conventions as a urinal, and our electoral endorsement of a narcissistic, power-mad thug as our supreme maximum leader, the world is becoming a very unsafe place for Americans. On the other hand, if current domestic trends continue, only the very rich will be able to afford to travel overseas anyway. Let them worry about whether Turkish prisons are really as bad as everyone says.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Friday, March 11, 2005
"Will you both stop this female drooling? I have a violent headache."
As usual, the first person to guess the movie this is from gets to replace it with one of their own next week. Who could resist a sweet deal like that?
UPDATE: I have just been informed that Blogger commenting still may not be working for some people. If you think you know the quote, by all means, shoot me an e-mail.
Also, here is a cat.
Birthday Dozer looking baffled and alarmed by the proceedings.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Or possibly just glazed cinnamon doughnuts.
Or possibly just glazed cinnamon doughnuts from that particular doughnut shoppe.
Or possibly just glazed cinnamon doughnuts from that particular doughnut shoppe on that particular day.
Or possibly just that specific glazed cinnamon doughnut from that particular doughnut shoppe...
Okay, so maybe it's not that stunning. And if anyone has any particularly excellent cinnamon doughnuts they would like to sway me with, then I might even be willing to revisit my feelings on this matter.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Look, I'm not advocating banning smoking or anything like that, but I really have to draw the line at claiming it's in any way health-enhancing. Sheesh.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
One increasingly popular loophole is the creation of an "asset protection trust," which is worth doing only for the wealthy. Senator Charles Schumer introduced an amendment that would have limited the exemption on such trusts, but apparently it's O.K. to game the system if you're rich: 54 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted against the Schumer amendment.
Other amendments were aimed at protecting families and individuals who have clearly been forced into bankruptcy by events, or who would face extreme hardship in repaying debts. Ted Kennedy introduced an exemption for cases of medical bankruptcy. Russ Feingold introduced an amendment protecting the homes of the elderly. Dick Durbin asked for protection for armed services members and veterans. All were rejected.
Krugman then goes on to frame this as part of the larger pattern of "ownership society" being used as code for "You're on your own, kiddo." This is, of course, appalling, but it is also an opportunity, if the Democrats have the sense and spine to seize it. Now that they have a stranglehold on power, the Republicans are going for the gusto because they can, without any thought to consequences. Basically, their mindset is "Let's repeal as much New Deal/environmental foolishness as we can before the grownups come back." What the Democrats must do is aggressively remind voters in 2006 and 2008 just how the Republicans voted, where their priorities were, and how their rhetoric was applied differentially to the rich and the everyone-else.
Essentially, what I would like to see are commercials where we see Bush or Republican Candidate A pontificating about personal responsibility, and then we hear about how Republican Candidate A voted to shield the rich from the full brunt of bankruptcy laws while making sure veterans and Grandma Millie get no loopholes at all. Or Bush/Republican Candidate B talking about the ownership society,followed by a reminder about how Republican Candidate B tried to undermine Social Security. Or any number of examples of government social programs being depicted as havens for freeloaders that must be purged of "waste, fraud, and abuse", contrasted with generous subsidies, tax breaks, and preferential treatment for the rich and corporate. And if the Democrats can drive home the statement that Republican values are corporate values, then so much the better.
Oh, and if someone wants to use the same strategy in a primary run against Tim Johnson and Ben Nelson, who voted with the Republicans to shoot down some of the Democratic amendments to the bankruptcy bill, well, I won't stop 'em. Fine, they're red state senators who have to vote like Republicans to stay alive. But if they vote like Republicans, what earthly use are they to the Democratic party? Democrats can make inroads in the red states if they go populist and paint the Republicans as the party of the corporate fatcats against the little guy. This will be even more effective if the Republicans' corporate-friendly policies continue to run the economy into the ditch. Especially since those policies are always rationalized as "economic stimulus", so if they fail on that level, then they are revealed as get-while-the-getting-is-good corporate giveaways.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Blogwhoring is bad and evil.
Do not blogwhore or Baby Jesus will cry and God will poop on your head.
The only thing worse than garden-variety blogwhoring is recursive blogwhoring, as defined here.
Actually, in all seriousness, julie failed to differentiate between blogwhoring and spamming, which are two entirely different things. Blog spammers, much like their e-mail counterparts, contribute nothing; their sole objective is to get you to click on them, usually with an incredibly clumsy and obvious enticement. Blogwhoring (and its variant, blogpimping) is considerably more elegant, and is usually undertaken by someone who participates regularly and contributes to the community.
Just as I wouldn't mind a friend e-mailing me about something cool they found, I don't mind one of my online friends occasionally and usually amusingly putting in a plug for their blog, or someone else's. It's the drive-by "Hey, check this out!" or "I agree with everything you say! Click here for more!" postings by someone who never interacts with anyone (are they a bot or just a complete ass?) that I find offensive. If you really want to promote your blog or website, then participate in the discussion and establish yourself as a distinctive personality with something to say. If you can't do that, then you might want to rethink whether you really need to have a blog at all.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
I had every intention of taking Thursday off from photography, until I saw this.
Ahh... snow and ivy. Two great tastes that go great together.
Friday, March 04, 2005
"Have you ever looked at the heavens? Everything in the heavens is here, moving as the heavens move."
Courtesy of the mysterious and shadowy Codename V.
The mysterious and shadowy Codename V. will temporarily de-cloak to provide hints and answer questions.
As before, the first person to guess the movie correctly gets to replace it with one of their own.
And here are some cats, for those of you who are into that sort of thing.
Dozer on the left, Eek on the right.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
The significance of this goes beyond worship. Rick says it suggests a new model of human organization.So, in other words, the priests used mirrors and echo chambers to create their own reality, and convince the gullible populace that they had magical powers and secret knowledge which qualified them to rule. Just imagine what they could have done if they had had Fox News.
IMAGINE A SOCIETY in which there was no governing force over a village or settlement—no hierarchical management, no division of labor, and no assumption of privilege or power. That was what existed among Andean people—and much of the rest of the world—before Chavín de Huántar was built, Rick says. “We just assume because of the way our world works that leadership and authority are built into society. [Most of] the archaeological record shows no haves or have-nots.
“Chavín is a monument to the idea that certain people have greater access to power than others,” he adds. “If you want to create the idea of authority you have to develop the belief that people who are similar in appearance and ability are actually different. This requires convincing. You’re altering the basic idea of human organization. You have to create a different world.”
It also begs the question, Does power and authority necessarily rest on deception? Is the need for a controlling authority just a big con game played by the powerful and the power-hungry? Or is the need for hierarchical control indisputable in a large and complex society, with the con game thus limited merely to the claims of those who insist that they are more qualified to rule than anyone else?
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Girders are cool.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Godawful and useless as spam normally is, it does have some halfway decent entertainment potential. For example, there is Spamusement, which harnesses the power of spam to generate... really badly-drawn but hilarious cartoons.
And then there is one of the internet's most purely dada-ist art forms, random word spam, in which words with absolutely no relation to each other are just thrown together for no apparent reason. I got one at work today which I found particularly entertaining, and figured, hey, why selfishly deny the rest of the world the simple joy that it brought me?
Subject: Wonderful night of love after 15 minutes! menelaus tyson
(Immediately I assume this is something about a very short courtship with an unstable ancient Greek boxer, but alas, it is not to be)
locution all virtual church pepsico and turbid position so nehru marmalade preserve
Well. That wasn't what I was expecting at all. It draws me in with the Greek boxer sex, and now all of a sudden it's sex with Hindu jelly. And in the Electronic Church Of Pepsi, no less. As soon as I figure out what the hell they're selling, I'm taking my business elsewhere.
StrongSad in peril!
I'm not really as happy with the latest round of photos, but I'll keep at it. Hopefully I can get oot and aboot on the weekend and set my ISO below 800...
Additional office and stairwell photoblogging will be appearing shortly on my online photo gallery, but it'll take a while to upload.