Monday, November 21, 2005

Framed!

Mitt Romney feels that John Adams would be surprised (and, I take it he also means disappointed) that the Supreme Judicial Court found that the Massachusetts Constitution protects the right of homosexuals to marry. Well, Adams would probably be mortified that women leave the house in flip-flops, tube tops and cut-offs, but I hardly think Romney would like to see them outlawed. Adams et al did not write constitutions with the intention of solving every public policy debate once and for all. This is high school civics, and Romney should be aware of it. (Oh yeah, high schools don't teach civics anymore.) The framers did not try to answer all of posterity's questions in one sitting. If they had wanted to do that, they wouldn't have left slavery unresolved so it could tear the country in two seventy years after the constitutional convention. What's true of the U.S. Constitution is true of the many state constitutions. They provide a framework for the process to settle public debate.

This issue among many others, such as abortion,illustrates why the Bill of Rights was not included in the original Constitution and why many framers and politicians of the day did not want to delineate the rights of citizens in a list. They were concerned that future governments would use the inverse assumption (i.e. if you do have the rights we listed, you don't have any others) to hamper personal liberty. At the time many people had the wild idea that all people were born with unlimited individual liberty, and that governments, rather than existing to grant limited rights, existed to determine what few limitations on these unlimited rights could be agreed upon and enacted under common deliberation. They weren't proclaiming commandments, they were providing guidance. That's why constitutions were written on paper, not in stone.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I could be disappointed, and it would be okay.

Every fall, there is one day when it goes from summer/fall to fall/winter. The temperature usually hits 70 sometime in the afternoon, then drops 20 or 30 degrees by 8 p.m. Today is supposed to be that day. The cold is finally on the way. I like the winter (until about February) so it doesn't bother me that much. I start looking forward to the bone chilling cold, although I have not been such a big fan of snow since I started having to shovel out a car. Although I promised myself I would go sledding if we got a lot of snow this year.

There weren't any big surprises in last week's election. The May-ah trounced Maura Hennigan, unfortunately. And Patricia White lost. And it looks like Flaherty is safe in his council presidency, although Arroyo made a good showing. Now let's see if Hizzoner tries to make good on his pledge to "get the universities to pay their fair share."

I'm not sure I can make it through the holidays without cable TV.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Happy Election Day!

Get out and vote! I got dressed up nice and everything. I wore my old favorite shirt that I forgot I had and a bow tie. Then I walked the four blocks down to my polling place where I didn't even have to stand in line. There were a few people already in the "booths" filling out their ballots. I miss the old mechanical voting machines, and I am always afraid that my vote is going to get invalidated because I go the tiniest bit outside of the lines. And did you know that November 8th is the latest day that election day can fall on? It is the first Tuesday after the first Monday, so it always falls between the 2nd and the 8th. Congress did this to keep it from falling on All Saints Day (according to wikipedia).

I am still suffering from my cold, feeling congested and a little light headed from blowing my nose so much. I hope I don't get too stuffed up, because I can't take anything for it with all the medicines I am on. Feh. I was in the doctor's office a couple of weeks ago and overheard one of the nurse practitioners talking to a patient who I assumed was an elderly woman by the tone and volume of the conversation. It sounded like she was calling in to ask what she should do about her cold. (How do you get to be an old woman and not learn what to do about a cold?) After a few preliminary questions about fluids and medicines I heard the nurse say, "Oh yes, we call that a 'Hot Toddy.' Sweats it right out of ya."

I'm going to go spread my germs at the campus cafe and get a "Virgin Hot Toddy."

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Blatant Time Wasting

It's 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon, and I haven't even gotten one tenth of the reading I need to do for my classes this week done. It's a dreary Sunday afternoon and I feel like wasting it on foolish noodling about on the internet and in front of the TV. I will probably call in sick to work tomorrow, using the slight scratch at the back of my throat and the touch of congestion in my head as an excuse. I'll keep busy then, but today I just want to goof off. Isn't that what Sundays are for?

I went out last night, but I cut the night short. The missus and I just couldn't get excited about being in a loud, dark nightclub all night. I was feeling a little under the weather then - probably the first signs of the cold I am getting now - and we skipped out before the second band even got started. Probably the best thing to do in the long run.

I wish I had a fireplace. I'd toast marshmallows now if I could. Maybe even make s'mores. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is Monday. Monday is a good day to start from scratch.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Trick or...or...or what!? What!!??

My first Halloween with diabetes and I wasn't a very good little goblin. I'm lucky that I don't have too much difficulty managing my blood sugar. I've been going to the gym 3 or 4 times a week for about a month, now, and that's helped keep me in control. But last night I went to bed with a pretty good spike in the glucose levels. Phooey - no more treats for me, and every candy dish I pass is overflowing with chocolate.

This Halloween hasn't been particularly spooky. I think it's because all the leaves are still on the trees. There aren't any creepy shadows following me around. Another thing I've noticed this autumn is a distinct dearth of squirrels. I've seen a few, but nowhere near as many as last year. I literally tripped over them on campus last fall as they dashed from trash can to bench to bushes. This year I have to keep my eyes peeled just to catch sight of one, and they're skittish and shy and skinny. Now, the missus and I are convinced (Yankee weather prognosticators that we are) that you can predict the severity of the coming winter by the girth of these little rodents. Last year they were porkers, and we spent the better part of 5 months under a more-or-less permanent blanket of snow.

I am not sure whether the paucity and puniness of this years crop is a good sign or a bad sign. Maybe whatever instinct tells them to fatten up also tells them not to bother reproducing if an even harsher winter is following on the heels of the first.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Phucking Dumb

I know this is so overstated as to be a tautology, but, as an employee of a large university in the Northeast, it never ceases to amaze me how completely unassociated one's level of education is from one's level of intelligence. Of the three people in the "chain of command" above me, one has a master's degree and the other two have PhDs. Yet they are completely incapable of communicating with each other, and make decisions with no thought about the ramifications of what they are doing.

I generate reports that are distributed to the deans, chairpersons and administrative directors of all the colleges, departments and various little affiliated research entities in the university. Six months ago my boss's boss's boss sent me a two-line email that said, in effect, stop sub-dividing all these numbers up into such small entities. Assign everything to the larger departments. On the face of it, it sounds like a great idea. It simplifies things and it creates the impression that the departments are doing more work (because the activity that is being reported is chopped up into larger pieces.) But anyone who knows anything about universities knows how political everything is. I know my boss's boss's boss, and I know there is no arguing with him, at least at my level, but replied to his email with a copy to my boss, essentially saying I would do what I was told but they might want to have a discussion about the effects of such a decision. (I won't get into the whole side issue of how annoying it is to have someone three steps up the ladder from me send emails directly to me asking me to do things without informing my boss and his boss. I spend most of my day explaining to my immediate supervisor why I've done half the things I've done, because he has no idea what's going on.) No discussion happened.

Fast forward six months, and there is a veritable shit-storm of ill will flying around because all the directors of these various entities are no longer seeing their names listed separately in the reports. My boss starts hounding me, and I bounce his boss's boss's email (always save every email you get) to him. The offended party goes to my boss's boss's boss, raises a stink, and all of a sudden I am being told, "No, we didn't mean it like that. We meant keep doing it the way you've been doing it all along, but uhm, make it look a little different or mumble humblecoughsputterewhatever just fix it."

So not only are these people Ph.ucking D.umb, they've got no balls. Makes me want to chuck it all and go into landscaping.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Confidence Man

So, part of the reason I post so infrequently here is that I am constantly flip-flopping about how I will use this blog. The big thing taking up my life right now is graduate school, and I am not sure what kind of friendships I will develop over the next couple of years. I have plenty of things to say about school, fellow students, instructors, etc, but I don't know if I would ever have a reason to make this thing more "public." As it is, I don't think any of my schoolmates, workmates, or instructors would ever connect this with "the real me." I've read a few very interesting stories about blogging issues in academia, and in the course of Googling blogs of graduate students I even came across a published retraction of one blogging students remarks, with a complete removal of the blog. Of course, that student was using a university-provided server and web space to publish a blog that was basically accusing his PhD program of being completely full of shit. You get what you ask for.

I'm in my fourth week of classes, and as much as I lke my schoolmates, it looks like will be keeping more or less to myself. So, this brings me to what I have wanted to write about here for a few weeks (since starting graduate school). I was so nervous on my first night of classes that I almost blew it off and skipped out on the whole thing. I was convinced that I was going to get to class and sound like a complete idiot the first time I opened my mouth. I was sure that I was going to be surrounded by brilliant intellectual prodigies who were going to be speaking an entirely different language. I and my night school, discount BS-with-highest-honors would be exposed for the fraud we were.

Boy, was I let down. The first class didn't reveal too much. The instructor, a professor I knew from working here at the university, gave us a run-down of what the class would involve, what he expected for the assignments, and asked the students to sign up to lead class discussions (the class is a seminar format discussion of interest groups). The students were all young, and asked the same kinds of questions I had gotten used to hearing in undergrad classes:"So, are the readings due on the week that they are listed on in the syllabus, or the week after?" "We're doing a take home final and a paper?" "Can we email our homework?" No Sweat.

The next week, we held the first class discussion, and by the middle of the class, I had the same feeling I had when I was in many of my undergraduate classes. I was frustrated that people were focusing on each other's opinions, instead of the thought processes that were used to arrive at the opinions. Everyone was trying to upstage each other with topical knowledge of the latest political scandals, and partisan sniping, but no one really knew whether the book we had read for class used rational choice theory or game theory or pluralist concepts of influence or neo-Marxism, etc. And finally, one young woman spoke up and said the word "like" five times in one sentence: "I was, like, surprised to, like, find out that that stuff, like, still goes on in, like, Congress after all the, like laws and stuff that were passed."

Talk about mixed emotions. On one side of my brain, I cringed at the butchering of the language and the complete lack of eloquence; on the other side, I was relieved to find I was in no danger of being laughed out of class, unless it was for being the teacher's pet.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Ooooh! October!

Every year, I have this problem with the month of October. I constantly type Ocotber, instead. Pretty minor problem, I grant you, but it gets to be wearisome by the end of the month. I am not a particularly swift typist, I don't use the correct fingers on the correst keys most of the time, and I am never sure how I am actually supposed to operate the shift key. Sometimes I am tempted to break out my old Sears electric (a gift from my older brother) and bang away for practice. I would type October over and over until I got it right ten times in a row. It's fun to just say "October over and over" over and over.

I love October in New England. If the missus and I do pick up and move to Montana, I think October is the only month when I will miss the weather. But even with the brilliant colors, the crisp fall air, the whiff of wood smoke and the slight scent of salt water in the evening breeze, I end up congested and watery-eyed from allergies. I am not sure that deciduous trees affect me more than evergreens, but since it is always the height of the foliage season when I suffer the most, it's a safe bet.

I also like October because it's spooky. Oooh! spoo-kay! Boo. I like ghost stories. Especially New England, haunted forest type stories. I think I am going to try and freak out my office-mate with the one about the widows in the mansion.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Toot toot!

So what, exactly, is so stressful about Kate Moss's life that she has to turn to drug use to get through the day? I'm baffled. All that walking, and posing, oh my.

Other than that I still don't have much to say. Too busy with schoolwork. Maybe I should sneak off to the loo for a little toot, eh?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Oh how things have changed!

Well, maybe things haven't changed that much. I graduated, and started graduate school. Now, all of a sudden, I am busy and reading and writing and trying to fit time in for the missus's birthday and the in-laws' birthdays and some kind of social life and exercise and oh yeah, I have a job, too, don't I?

So I haven't had time to put together anything intelligent to post here. Soon, though. I promise. And it won't be the lyrics to some song, either.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Perspective

I am awe struck at the destruction being reported and humbled by the power of weather. My last class this summer was an earth science class studying natural disasters. We spent quite a bit of time on hurricanes and the lead-up to Katrina was that much more interesting to me because of it. I was surprised to see her increase so dramatically after crossing the Florida peninsula into the Gulf, but I was informed enough to know that it is warm water that gives hurricanes their energy. And I knew that the storm swell caused by the large low-pressure area over the eye would be catastrophic to a city almost entirely below sea level. I can't imagine the helpless feeling of seeing everything you have washed away, or not knowing what has happened to your stuff or, God forbid, your loved ones.

That being said, I am even more upset with what I am reading and hearing and seeing over and over, and the way it is being reported. The constant, breathless, absolutely worthless updates that have been coming over every media outlet for the past 24 hours have done nothing to help the situation.

Also, Biloxi, Mississippi, mayor A.J. Holloway might need a little perspective. He was the one who referred to this as "our tsunami." I appreciate the devastation and the horror of so many dead from a natural disaster. But the December, 2004 tsunami killed at least 150,000 people. To provide the perspective, know this: the population of Biloxi is just under 51,000. Imagine all of Biloxi wiped out, then multiply that by three. That was the tsunami. Not that 80 or 100 dead isn't tragic. But 150,000 is mind boggling.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Move along...

Nothing to see here. I’m just setting up and testing my MacJournal software to get it ready to update from home. One funny thing about MacJournal software: the built in spellchecker doesn’t recognize MacJournal as a correctly spelled word.

Murder most fowl

Yes, there are a million things I should be doing instead of trying out the new “Blogger for Word” gizmo, but hey, I can chalk this up to software research and testing if anybody asks me to track my time for the afternoon.

The question on my mind today is, “Why do some people impose vegetarian diets on their pets?” I knew one woman who was a strict vegan – no milk, eggs, butter, cheese, etc. She had (and to my knowledge still has) some of the nicest dogs I ever met. Very well behaved and groomed. As much as it repulsed her, she went to the butcher twice a week and bought raw meat for the dogs, which she then prepared into the best organic dog food in the neighborhood. She used to make extra batches to sell to people.

I remember being at a party when the hostess lit into this woman for feeding her dogs meat. Imagine! Feeding dogs meat! The hostess had two cats that she insisted were perfectly healthy and happy on vegetarian diets. No one at the party could comment on the health of the cats because they wouldn’t come out from under the bed.

I understand just about every rationale for eating a vegetarian diet, and have even gone veggie for short periods of time. I especially believe that most people are a little too removed from the whole process of butchering to really appreciate where meat comes from. But I don’t think anthropomorphizing pets is good for the pet or the person. It’s just a way to give oneself a little moral pat on the back, at the expense of the pet. If you have so much reluctance to contribute to the horrors of the abattoir, then you really should not have a pet in the first place.

This brings me to an excellent piece I read in the Review of the Chronicle of Higher Education by U. of Washington psychology professor David Barash. He dispels the commonly believed myth that humans are the only species that hunts for sport, or kills its own kind, or makes war. In fact, all these behaviors are regularly observed in many species. Regardless of the internalized guilt we may take on as defilers of the planet, expressed most often in our culture through the stories of original sin and Cain and Abel (the basis for Barash’s piece), turning Rex and Bootsy into good little vegetarians isn’t going to fix a thing. I am reminded of the pig in the old story of the farmer who thought he could teach his swine to sing: he ended up wasting his time and pissing off the pig.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Screw you, I think it is pronounced "me-me."

Okay, I never read Dawkins The Selfish Gene, but it always struck me as one of those books that geeky flunkies read and base their entire world view on. The kind of guys (and gals) who rebut every argument with something from the same book. As long as it isn't the Bible, they think they're intellectuals.

And I am pretty sure Dawkins didn't intend for every stupid questionnaire on the internet to become a "meme." Just because you've revealed something about yourself on the World Wide Web does not mean you've contributed to the aggregate cultural knowledge of the race. Especially if you can't be bothered to spell check and get half the words wrong.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fingers

It's nice and cool and comfortable again. And yet, I couldn't get to sleep last night. I restrung my old acoustic guitar for the first time in years, and played it for about two hours. (My finger tips are killing me; I'm going to have to do my blood sugar tests on my right hand for a while. Is "finger tips" two words? Fingertips. Humph--somehow it doesn't seem right that it would be one word, but it looks okay to me.) Anyway, I went to bed and lay there awake just itching to get back up and play some more.

One big difference between playing now and when I used to play more seriously (before 2000, when I went back to school) is the access to the internet. I love being able to Google "guitar tab 'I Fall To Pieces'" and having the chords right there in front of me. I learned "Crazy," "I Go Walking" and "She's Got You" last night before bed. Incidentally, I was never a huge Patsy Cline fan, but the missus and I caught a PBS special about her this weekend. That combined with my renewed interest in American music got me inspired to learn some country standards once I got the guitar back in shape. Tonight I am going to go home and teach myself "Hot Rod Lincoln." Then maybe I'll learn some Black Oak Arkansas just for the little woman.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Sticky

I can't believe it's already the 13th of August. I feel like I just heard the first cicada of the season (and that was on the 3rd; I made a note of it). The weather right now is horrible, but I suppose I shouldn't complain because it is better than freezing to death. This will probably be the worst of it for the rest of the summer. The forecast is for temperatures in the 70s overnight and no relief from the humidity. I refuse to break down and put the a/c in the bedroom window, though, because as poorly as I sleep in the heat, the sleep I get with the a/c is not at all refreshing. I don't know why, but I have horrible dreams all night and wake up terribly anxious. With the window fan I can sleep well if I take a cool shower right before I go to bed. Don't you feel better knowing that?

Speaking of a/c, the missus and I took in a movie, as much for the a/c as for the entertainment. We saw The Aristocrats and the entertainment was as good as the a/c. Bob Saget and Gilbert Gottfried were pretty damn funny, but I think I laughed the hardest at the simultaneous telling of a different joke by Drew Carey and Robin Williams. I have a theory that this joke was also the inspiration for the "Lick my Love Pump" sequence in This is Spinal Tap. I won't spoil it for anyone; leave a comment if you want me to tell the joke there.

I got an invitation in the mail to attend a reception for graduates at the end of the month. It mentioned awards. I am graduating with a 3.972 cumulative GPA which, according to the registrar's website, is summa cum laude, but I haven't been told that I am receiving any recognition of this. I assume I will get to wear an "honors cord" on my mortar board when I walk in commencement. Yippee.

Time to order the missus a pizza.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

(Nota bene)

(I forgot to mention that the reason I titled the last entry vitamins and aliens is because I intended to make some Scientology-related connection between giving up cable TV and getting "clear." Which rhymes with "queer," but is a whole different thing - although I believe vitamins will cure that, too.)

So, the missus and I went to the see Knitters last night at the Paradise. I really need to learn more about good old American roots music: folk singers, country music (not the adult-oriented-contemporary Country and Western crap on the radio), bluegrass and early rock and roll. I was never a big fan of that stuff growing up. I was into the "British Invasion" and metal at first, then I got into punk and "New Wave." In fact, next month the missus and I are going to see Paul Weller. But hey, he's doing "blue-eyed soul" these days.

Back to my ramble. Every so often I get interested in good, loud electric roots music, but I never know what to look for at the record store. I gotta go on eye-tunes and sample some bolo-tie-wearing guitar music, soon. I think my trip to Montana has totally shifted my focus from eastward to westward. I was always more interested in the Old World than the New, now I find myself saying "go West, young man!" in my sleep. I'm getting tired of living in the city, too. The subway is a drag, the people are nasty, and you can't see ten feet in front of you.

Finally, I am very excited to report that I got a letter in the mail yesterday confirming my completion of the requirements for my degree. Even if I didn't show up for commencement for some reason (and I have every intention of showing up) it will only be a matter of time before I have that diploma in my hot little hands. Now, on to my Master's (I registered for two classes in the fall).

Monday, August 08, 2005

Vitamins and aliens

In an effort to save every unnecessarily spent penny, the missus and I are cutting the budget to the quick. We want to move out of this apartment before we retire, and maybe even out of the state. Whatever we do, it isn't going to happen if we remain profligate. So, we have cancelled all the extra cable channels, and stopped having the newspaper delivered. I was a little nonplussed when I did the math and realized that having the paper delivered was more expensive than picking it up at the store. I guess it makes sense, but with magazine subscriptions, you always get a break off the cover price, right? But not with the Boston Globe. Thirty-seven dollars a month they were shafting me for. No thanks, I can get it for free most days on campus.

The thing that has been more difficult to adjust to than I want to admit is the lack of mindless TV. I didn't realize how much time I spent channel surfing and watching Hitler documentaries and VH1 Classic. I know it will be good for me, especially when I start my Master's program in September. Now I actually find myself watching C-Span; that's going to have to stop.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Back from the mild, mild west.

Wow! What a vacation. The last time the missus and I went to Helena was the spring of 1998, shortly before we were married. We got to see quite a bit of Montana then. We went with the family up to Flathead Lake and then continued on our own for a night in Whitefish. I had the best breakfast I've ever tasted (eggs over easy with grits that were like manna from heaven) and drove south to Missoula. Then we crossed McDonald Pass over the divide back to Helena, with a spare tire on the rental car.

This time we didn't have quite so many adventures. The purpose of our trip was to attend the centennial birthday party of McC's great aunt Marge. One-hundred years old and she remembered me from a ten minute conversation we had six years ago - clean mountain air will do that for you. The missus and I spent a couple of nights at her aunt's ranch just outside of town, and a few nights in a nice hotel right in town, compliments of father-in-law. The birthday party was Saturday night, right in the middle of our trip, so we didn't travel too far afield.

In a way it was nice that we stayed close to "home." It gave us a chance to see Helena. What a great little city. It boasts two ballet companies, two Shakespeare companies (one is actually regional, but we saw them do King Lear in Helena) and a great place to get lattes. There is a definite cosmopolitan feel about it, but everyone says "Please," "Thank you," and "Excuse me."

The weather was heavenly. It gets hot, but it never gets muggy. Even when it hits 95 out there I could wear jeans and be comfortable. The only drawback was what the missus and I were both calling "winter skin." We both found our skin getting as dry as it does here in January.

I got on the back of a horse and got her to do a couple of laps around the ring, and even got it to stop when I wanted her to. Her name was MJ (short for Mary Jane) and she was a nice mellow mount.

The travel was a little tiring. Flying is such a demeaning way to travel. I seriously felt like a walking piece of baggage a couple of times. But the destination was well worth it. This is the first vacation I have ever been on that I can honestly say I had no desire to come home from. I'm still feeling claustrophobic and high-string since I got back. The traffic and crowds and noise and litter and funny smells all seem overwhelming. I have been a city boy all my life, but I think I am finally getting tired of it.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Summertime

I am on vacation for two whole weeks from work, at least, if not from school. I still have quite a bit of work to finish up before I'm done for the summer and ready to get my bachelor's degree. Instead of writing in this silly blog, I should be doing chi-squared analyses of the frequency distribution of retired versus non-retired members of state legislatures in term-limited versus non term-limited states. Exciting? You bet! I also need to research and write a presentation on global warming in North America, and write three more essays for English class. Not a lot of work, really.

The missus and I are heading to Montana next week for five days. Her great aunt is turning 100 years old. Big Sky country. I imagine it will be hot and dry, and there will be lots of barbecue and beer (I hope).

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Righteous indignation.

Senator Santorum's comments, and his stubborn defense of them, don't bother me because I am a Bostonian. They don't bother me because I am a liberal. And they don't bother me because I work in academe.

If the senator from Pennsylvania takes issue with the liberal point of view prominent in this city's institutions of higher education, so be it. I am a firm believer in defending to the death the right for a man or woman to express their point of view.

What disturbs me about the honarable senator is that he isn't criticizing the liberal attitudes simply as contrary to his ideals, but as dangerous to everyone. But this is typical of neo-conservatives.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Deep throat? Deep shit!

So, since Friday night's McLaughlin Group the buzz has been that Karl "I have less to work with and I'm doing a better job at it than Lee Atwater" Rove played Deep Throat to Bob Novak's Woodward. This is the kind of stuff I feel like I should give a shit about, as a political science student. But I just can't get all that excited about these journalistic, cloak and dagger, fantasy league games. Yes, it is terribly interesting that a White House (or at least "administration") source outed a covert CIA agent. But when you start to read deeper into it, you realize that Valerie Plame was probably doing analysis more than anything. She wasn't sneaking around under deep cover, blowing poison darts into enemy agent's legs.

This looks like nothing more than a distraction. Karl Rove dropped a name to make someone on the other side of the fence look bad. That's politics, and it's exactly what we should expect from Rove. The real issue is the justification for going to war in Iraq, which was built on misinformation and exaggeration. But those are frequently used to justify wars. Wilson, Roosevelt and Johnson certainly used them. And remember that Bill Clinton used the very same justification as George Bush for military action against Iraq. Clinton just didn't have the "advantage" of 9/11 to work with. Recall the town hall forum at Ohio State University in February 1998.

I'm getting off track, though. My point is that the news media create as much as they report the news. Then they provide the media consumer with sides to choose and divide us, as citizens, where we weren't divided before. It is akin to convincing a baseball fan to root for the infield only. We should be upset that we are being lied to, regardless of who is doing the lying.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Can of worms?

So, if the Supreme Court has decided that file-sharing software developers are responsible for the piracy committed with their product, will we be holding Smith & Wesson responsible for the shootings that take place with their product?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Critical mass

I am sitting at my trusty iBook, finding every excuse imaginable to avoid working on the paper I'm supposed to finish by Monday. I have an outline. I have data. I have notes. I have to write.

Instead, I am getting up every few mintutes to watch the A&E Biography program on the Brady Bunch. Did you know the A&E in A&E network stands for Arts and Entertainment? Does the Brady Bunch qualify as either of those? I guess it is entertaining in the same way all this Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey shit is entertaining.

Speaking of which, I am sure this isn't the most politically correct thing to say, but I really doubt Rosa Parks fought for a seat back in Montgomery so that Oprah could throw a hissy fit about not getting into a f*#@ing Hermes store in Paris. If that's the most humiliated she's ever been, she's lived a charmed life.

And Tom Cruise is a raving lunatic. All this media attention has led me to do some reading, including the Wikipedia entries on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, and frankly these people are more frightening then a busload of Baptists at a science fair.

I am hoping this is all reaching some kind of critical mass, and Hollywood is going to implode. Let's boycott the movies and put them out of business.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

This is a test.

I can "blog" via email, now. I am not entirely sure of the benefit of this, since if I can email, I must have access to a computer, and if I have access to a computer I can go to my blog and update. I think. Unless I am leery of the security of the computer I am using and don't want to sign in to my blogspot account. But, I'd still have to sign on to my email, wouldn't I? And given the choice between someone accessing my email or my blog, I'd rather have them poking around my blog.

I am going to Montana next month. It will be the first trip the missus and I have taken together since we went to Florida in February of '03. It will be our first trip to Montana since May of 1998, before we were even married. I remember that we watched the last episode of Sienfeld at her aunt's house. We're going to have huckleberry shakes and eat lots of beef, and I'm going to have some micro-brewed beer, unless the whole micro-brewery phenomenon died out in Montana like it did here. Remember all the micro-breweries popping up everywhere in the nineties? Those were the days.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Finally summer!

I would be enjoying the balmy summer weather we are finally getting more if it wasn't 64 degrees in my office. Now I know why the woman who had this office before me covered the AC duct in the ceiling. I have to open the window to warm up. This seems to be a problem for everyone I know who works indoors.

I wonder if they air condition schools, now. I remember the teachers turning the lights out to keep the classrooms cool when I was a kid. I thought AC was just for rich people. The landlady had an air conditioner in her living room and I used to go upstairs to her apartment (her youngest son and I were best friends) and stand right in front of it. Now I'll only put our AC in the bedroom if the missus absolutely insists. I just don't like the stale air.

The older I get the pickier I am about temperature control. The range of my "comfort zone" gets more and more narrow each year. Pretty soon I am going to be one of those cranks who bitches if it isn't exactly 77 degrees and 50% humidity (which happens to be the precise readings right now-it figures that I'm stuck in this frigid office). I used to love extreme temperatures. I wanted summer to be 100 and winter to be 20 below. Not anymore.

In an entirely unrelated note: where does Tom Cruise come off making comments about Brooke Shields's career? Tom, she's been making movies since before your girlfriend was born, asshat!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A one-sided argument is no argument at all.

I am working on my senior capstone project, as it is called here at the School for Professional and Continuing Studies of the large university in the northeast where I study and work. My paper is focusing on the effect and efficacy of term limits on the professionalization of legislatures. In the statement of my research problem, I wanted to present the argument put forth by supporters of term limits. Their argument is based on the belief that citizen legislators are preferable to professional politicians. I went to the web site for US Term Limits, the most prominent term limit advocacy group, to find some kind of explanation of their position. I found a quote from Benjamin Franklin, a one sentence mission statement and many, many news articles about the fight to preserve term limits where they have been passed.

This is typical of organizations dedicated to one specific cause. So much effort goes into promoting the fight that the reason for the fight never gets explained clearly. The assumption is that the argument is so self evident that there is no need to clarify it. When pressed for an answer, many supporters of causes like this get trapped in circular logic. "Unlimited terms are bad because they allow people to hold office indefinitely, and that's bad so we should have term limits." I can tell you that term limits could help prevent elected office holders from becoming entrenched in their positions and considering and enacting legislation based on a narrow point of view. But I could also tell you that the activity of drafting, considering, reviewing and revising legislation is a complex process that might very well benefit from the input of experienced legislators. What I cannot seem to find on US Term Limits is a researched, logically supported examination of the process of legislative professionalization and the drawbacks to the end result of that process.

My point of view is that term limits are unnecessary and redundant. Terms are already limited, and if citizens are not happy with an elected office holder, then they should stand for election against them. Yes, that is a lot of work. Yes, a well-connected politician might be difficult to defeat. It is too common for people to rail against "the politicians" and "the government" as if there is some separate ruling class that needs to be overthrown. The term limit argument appears to contradict itself. On the one hand, it says that getting elected is so difficult that it is virtually impossible to get someone out of office once they are in. On the other hand it proposes that the best protection for democracy is to force turnover and compel more people to run for office. I would think the most likely outcome of term limits would be greater party control over candidate selection. If candidates are going to be needed for every office every eight years, the party is going to get more involved in grooming and maintaining a candidate pool. A classic example of this scenario would be the story of George Wallace in Alabama. That state had gubernatorial term limits that stipulated no person could serve more than two consecutive terms. So when Wallace's second term was coming to a close, his wife ran for election. And won. She served a term, and George ran again. And won again. If people aren't interested in working for a change in government, there won't be a change.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A quick PSA

Hey there, folks. It's 9:25 AM EDT. If you regularly stream KEXP with Windows Media player(like I do) you may have found that it is looping the same 11 seconds of a song and then freezing this morning. They are working on the problem (it isn't your Windows Media Player). I would suggest downloading the free RealPlayer and streaming the 128k mp3 stream with that. It's working for me.

I'll write something a little more interesting in here soon, I promise.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Preface

I have abandoned Diaryland for blogger. As much as I hold an aversion to the word "blog," and still cannnot bring myself to say it aloud, I like the look of the templates here. I have also read several "blogspot bloggers" and get the sense that this is a slightly more mature community. Mumble mumble, cough cough, quite right, wot wot? I sound so stuffy, but I guess I should embrace it and just be me.

I am going to try to put something worth reading up here most days. Sometimes I will rant, sometimes I will be too analytical (emphasis on the anal), and sometimes I will just be silly, but I hope I will be somewhat entertaining without insulting anybody's intelligence.