Tuesday, February 28, 2006
In the course of the defence, the witty Erskine went on to illustrate his position, by alluding to a recent crim. con. case, wherein a gentleman, after in vain trying to bridle his wife's viciousness, had at last abandoned her upon the seas of life; but in the course of years, repenting of that step, he instituted an action to recover possession of her. Erskine was on the other side; and he then supported it by saying, that though the gentleman had originally harpooned the lady, and had once had her fast, and only by reason of the great stress of her plunging viciousness, had at last abandoned her; yet abandon her he did, so that she became a loose-fish; and therefore when a subsequent gentleman re-harpooned her, the lady then became that subsequent gentleman's property, along with whatever harpoon might have been found sticking in her.Technorati tag: Moby-Dick06
Monday, February 27, 2006
So why, then, does the same scenario not seem outrageous to people when it applies to computers? From sending and receiving emails to writing resumes to doing taxes, patrons are not satisfied with the library simply providing access to the information. They want the librarians to do the actual work for them. I try to draw the line at providing step-by-step directions, even if it means reading the website and making sense of it for them, but there have been a few instances where the person was insistent enough that I actually gave in, took over the computer, and did the work for him or her. It’s tax season right now, so most of the demands relate to taxes. I’m sorry, but we’re librarians, not CPAs. We’ll gladly do what we can to help, but we won’t do your taxes for you just because a computer is involved in some way.
So, I was off of work for quite a while due to a wretched case of bronchitis and sinus infections. Well, things got really tight with money and now they have gone from bad to worse. I applied for disability, and oddly enough, I was able to get it. So I went through all the paperwork and yadda yadda. Finally they said I would receive it in my next pay check. So Leelu and I decided to go out and get some of the essentials that we needed food wise and household wise. We got groceries, paper towels, fuel for our cars, etc. The whole time thinking that the disability would come through in my check as promised. Well guess what. With overdraft fees, bounced check penalties and a myriad of other fun things added, we are now negative over $450. And we don’t know exactly when I will get my disability check. They supposedly mailed it out on Friday, but then, we know how honest they are, so we are up the creek until it arrives and well after.
The next bit is even better. We bought a rat for a pet about a month or so ago. Well, it was cool for a while, but then it started getting a little aggressive. So we called the store we bought her from and asked what was up. They said she might be pregnant. Well she wasn't pregnant, she was lonely. So we bought her and buddy and things started to get a little better, until she started breathing funny and her nose started bleeding. So we took her in and the guy at the store said she had an upper respiratory infection and that he would send her to the vet and we could pick her up later, but from the looks of things, he didn't think she would survive. So I asked if I could get a different rat instead. So we got a different rat. Well she had some red around one of her eyes and the guy at the store said it was probably just from her fighting with the other rats that were in the cage with her. Well, turns out she was actually sick too. She got the other rat sick and we took them into the vet for which ran us $120 we didn't actually have (see the connection here) and they said they had upper respiratory infections. We got them back home and gave them their medicine. That night/morning, my wife got up to get a drink and went to check on the rats while she was up. The second one we bought had died during the night. This broke her heart and she cried for a good long time while I held her. The other rat is fine so far. We have been giving her medicine and she seems to be getting much better.
And finally, yesterday, while we were out and about, Leelu started getting really uncomfortable in the abdominal area. Where our just over 6 month baby is currently living. It kept getting worse and worse, so she called the doctor. She is now under doctor’s orders to stay home and resting until her appointment tomorrow afternoon. We are going to go in and see if anything is wrong or if it is just regular pregnancy stuff.
Do you see why I might be a little worried at this point?
Sunday, February 26, 2006
We got up a little before 9:00 Saturday morning and I immediately jumped in the shower to wash off that icky smoke smell. The wife and I went to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant at the City Market for brunch, then we headed out to Independence Center for shopping. Dillard's had all sale/clearance items and additional 50% off, so we spent a good bit of time there. I go a cool new Fossil watch. Then we toured the rest of the mall some. Eventually we made it home and spent the afternoon in bed (instead of enjoying the sunlight with a workout, as we should have).
Upon waking, we did our homework for the weekend: finishing the last few details of her school's yearbook and submitting the rest of the pages (online).
Then we celebrated. We made the 90-minute trek through Weston, Atchison, and Horton to the Golden Eagle Casino. $1 roulette (as opposed to the $5-10 minimums in town). Plus it's nice sometimes just to leave the city and enjoy the countryside, and a road trip always seems to make for good conversation. I lost my $20 of roulette money (after enough up-and-down play to make it fun), but we both got lucky at the slot machines. Right after we first arrived she walked up to a machine that still had a $1 token in the tray. She popped it in and 3 minutes later she quit with $16. While walking away she found another machine with a stray token and turned it into $4. Eventually she lost the $1.35 in nickels we brought but turned the found money into $50. During a break from roulette I put $5 into a 50 cent machine. After two pulls I was up $63 and quit with $60. Those kinds of possibilities are what make the casinos fun. Before leaving we couldn't resist the allure of free pop and cheap snack bar, so the weekend gluttony continued.
Once home we explored vacation options (something with a beach) for immediately after school gets out in May, but haven't found anything quite affordable enough yet. We didn't end up getting to sleep until almost 1:00.
We felt rich from our winnings on Sunday morning and overate at the brunch buffet at Cinzetti's. Then I had a three-hour shift working at the community center while she met with a fellow teacher to discuss some action-research. Finally we decided to try something active, although I'll stop short of calling it actual exercise. We took the dogs walking at Shawnee Mission Park. We felt too lazy to cook, so we had dinner at Qdoba (like Chipotle). I'm doing my online stuff while she does homework. I'm contemplating cooking lunch for tomorrow next, then plan to watch Vampire Hunter D on DVD before bed. Here's hoping we get back on a regular sleep schedule, get back on the diet, and have good workouts all week.
Pages read for the reading challenge the last three days: 0
Chapters listened to in Moby-Dick the last three days: 0
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I guess, though, that I've never truly attained profound thought: "And I am convinced that from the heads of all ponderous profound beings, such as Plato, Pyrrho, the Devil, Jupiter, Dante, and so on, there always goes up a certain semi-visible steam, while in the act of thinking deep thoughts. While composing a little treatise on Eternity, I had the curiousity to place a mirror before me; and ere long saw reflected there, a curious involved worming and undulation in the atmosphere over my head." (from Chapter 85, The Fountain)
A nice quote: "Doubts of all things earthly, and intuitions of some things heavenly; this combination makes neither believer nor infidel, but makes a man who regards them both with equal eye." (from Chapter 85, The Fountain)
A curious quote: "In man or fish, wriggling is a sign of inferiority." (from Chapter 86, The Tail)
The key to an enjoyable life: "But in gazing at such scenes, it is all in all what mood you are in; if in the Dantean, the devils will occur to you; if in that of Isaiah, the archangels." (from Chapter 86, The Tail)
Technorati tag: Moby-Dick06
"Please do not insult me and others like me by passing this reprehensible proposal that segregates us and equates us with child abuse, drug abuse, and family violence," Rev. Dr. E. Scott James, who said he is gay, asked commission members before they okayed the guidelines in a 12-1 vote. Four commissioners were absent.
"Our commission, while divided, voted to retain the materials in the children's area and not limit access," library Executive Director Donna Morris told American Libraries. The titles in the parenting collection will be limited to the reading-level categories of easy, easy-reader, and tween, and selected by staff members based on their judgment of which subjects "would indicate that guardians might want to control the time and manner at which children are introduced to a topic," the revised library policy states. She went on to say that commissioners are hopeful that the new section will be "a positive collection for parents and children."
Posted February 17, 2006; revised February 21, 2006.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
"A mensch is an upstanding person who takes responsibility for his actions. . . . Officials in this administration never take responsibility for their actions. When something goes wrong, it's always someone else's fault. . . . But how did such people attain power in the first place? Maybe it's the result of our infantilized media culture, in which politicians, like celebrities, are judged by the way they look, not the reality of their achievements. Mr. Bush isn't an effective leader, but he plays one on TV, and that's all that matters."
The Torturers Win
"We're in a new world now and the all-powerful U.S. government apparently has free rein to ruin innocent lives without even a nod in the direction of due process or fair play. . . . Mr. Arar's case became a world-class embarrassment when even Syria's torture professionals could elicit no evidence that he was in any way involved in terrorism. After 10 months, he was released. No charges were ever filed against him. . . . In other words, it wouldn't matter how hideously or egregiously Mr. Arar had been treated, or how illegally or disgustingly the government had behaved. The case would have to be dropped. Inquiries into this 21st-century Inquisition cannot be tolerated. Its activities must remain secret at all costs. . . . Under that reasoning, of course, the government could literally get away with murder. . . . Oh yes, by all means, we need the federal courts to fully protect the right of public officials to lie to their constituents."
"All of this has thrown a certain sort of materialistic vision into crisis. We now know that global economic and technological forces do not gradually erode local cultures and values. Instead, cultures and values shape economic development. Moreover, as people are empowered by greater wealth and education, cultural differences become more pronounced, not less, as different groups chase different visions of the good life, and react in aggressive ways to perceived slights to their cultural dignity. . . . "
"The fundamental change is that human beings now look less like self-interested individuals and more like socially embedded products of family and group. Alan Greenspan said that he once assumed that capitalism was 'human nature.' But after watching the collapse of the Russian economy, he had come to consider it 'was not human nature at all, but culture.'
"During the first few years of life, parents, communities and societies unconsciously impart ways of being and of perceiving reality that we are only subliminally aware of. How distinct is the individual from the community? Does history move forward or is it cyclical? How do I fulfill my yearning for righteousness? What is possible and what is impossible?"
For the rest: it's another one that's not free on the web, but it is on the editorial page of today's Kansas City Star or can be found with databases from the New York Times on 2/19.
the people are more productive.
When a government is more tyrannical,
the people are more rebellious.
But whatever the government,
if disaster is the bitter fruit of others’ good fortune,
How long can such injustice be tolerated?
How long we have endured the hypocrisies!
Those pretending to be righteous act deceitfully.
Those pretending to be religious revert to evil.
We have been deluded!
And each day it becomes worse!
Be firm and armed, but do no harm!
Be as sharp as a knife, but do not cut!
Be ready to transform, but do not provoke!
Illuminate the darkness of ignorance, but do not be blind!
- Lao Tsu
Just keep yourself honed.
"The researchers concluded that food that's unfamiliar (Thai food to Swedish women) or unappetizing (mush rather than solid food) winds up being less nutritious than food that looks, smells and tastes good to you. The explanation can be found in the digestive process itself, in the relationship between the "second brain" — the gut — and the brain in your head. . . . "
"Does this mean we should be reaching for the Krispy Kremes and forgoing the raw cauliflower? No. The food has to have nutritive value in the first place. But maybe we could take a lesson from the French, whose level of heart disease is lower than ours despite their richer diet. The French savor the taste and texture of food and the experience of eating; we tend to eat dutifully (how much cauliflower can you choke down?), on the run (hardly realizing what we're eating), or rebelliously (devouring a whole box of Entenmann's because we feel deprived)."
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
"If there was a single overarching theme to the domestic social policy critiques issued by those who wrote for the neoconservative journal The Public Interest, founded by Irving Kristol, Nathan Glazer and Daniel Bell in 1965, it was the limits of social engineering. Writers like Glazer, Moynihan and, later, Glenn Loury argued that ambitious efforts to seek social justice often left societies worse off than before because they either required massive state intervention that disrupted pre-existing social relations (for example, forced busing) or else produced unanticipated consequences (like an increase in single-parent families as a result of welfare). A major theme running through James Q. Wilson's extensive writings on crime was the idea that you could not lower crime rates by trying to solve deep underlying problems like poverty and racism; effective policies needed to focus on shorter-term measures that went after symptoms of social distress (like subway graffiti or panhandling) rather than root causes.
"How, then, did a group with such a pedigree come to decide that the "root cause" of terrorism lay in the Middle East's lack of democracy, that the United States had both the wisdom and the ability to fix this problem and that democracy would come quickly and painlessly to Iraq? Neoconservatives would not have taken this turn but for the peculiar way that the cold war ended. . . . "
"Neoconservatism, whatever its complex roots, has become indelibly associated with concepts like coercive regime change, unilateralism and American hegemony. What is needed now are new ideas, neither neoconservative nor realist, for how America is to relate to the rest of the world — ideas that retain the neoconservative belief in the universality of human rights, but without its illusions about the efficacy of American power and hegemony to bring these ends about."
Also in this chapter is an incident I can only describe as queer (the Melville-era meaning of the word). "There are these sharks now over the side, don't you see they prefer it tough and rare? What a shindy they are kicking up! Cook, go and talk to 'em; tell 'em they are welcome to help themselves civilly, and in moderation, but they must keep quiet. Blast me, if I can hear my own voice. Away, cook, and deliver my message. Here, take this lantern,' snatching one from his sideboard; 'now then, go and preach to 'em.'" They proceed to the deck, lean over the rail, and Stubb coaches the cook through a sermon to the sharks. This can be satisfactorily read as an odd bit of character development, but I have to think Melville meant something more by it. I'm not sure what, but I'm sure it must be some kind of statement about religion.
But. But I'm not going to run out looking for commentary to find out what he was saying by it (or at least what others have thought he was saying) at this point in my reading experience. Erica has told me that her professor started by telling them the ending so they wouldn't be distracted by wondering what is going to happen but could look for the deeper meanings. That's not the experience I want with the book yet. I have the rest of my life to analyze it, to learn more about Melville, his society, and what he was trying to say about it. But once I have that knowledge I can never go back. I only have this one chance to read the book without knowing how it will end, to encounter it as a straightforward story and discover what it might mean to me in a bilateral dialogue with it without all of those other voices informing my experience. I'm very eager to start asking Professor Reynolds about the book and doing some of that literary analysis, but that discussion must wait until I complete this initial encounter.
Technorati tag: Moby-Dick06
Friday, February 17, 2006
"Mr. Roberts had promised to hold a committee vote yesterday on whether to investigate. But he canceled the vote, and then made two astonishing announcements. He said he was working with the White House on amending the 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to permit warrantless spying. And then he suggested that such a change would eliminate the need for an inquiry."
Doing the President's Dirty Work
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Gene Wolfe not only entertains, he invests his work with a complexity and trickiness that place him among the most important American novelists of our time. For more than 40 years he has worked steadily at his art, each new book adding yet one more facet to his ongoing and surprisingly cohesive oeuvre. Within his genre Wolfe's living compeers are few -- Ursula Le Guin, J.G. Ballard, John Crowley -- and, like them, he should enjoy the same rapt attention we afford to Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison and Cormac McCarthy. (From the Washington Post's review at one of the Amazon links above.)
Read it in context
I just have to wonder who first decided they could go out and hunt these leviathans. It's such a complex process. How did they figure it all out?
When reaching far over the bow, Stubb slowly churned his long sharp lance into the fish, and kept it there, carefully churning and churning, as if cautiously seeking to feel after some gold watch that the whale might have swallowed, and which he was fearful of breaking ere he could hook it out. But that gold watch he sought was the innermost life of the fish. And now it is struck; for, starting from his trance into that unspeakable thing called his "flurry," the monster horribly wallowed in his blood, overwrapped himself in impenetrable, mad, boiling spray, . . . And now abating in his flurry, the whale once more rolled out into view; surging from side to side; spasmodically dilating and contracting his spout-hole, with sharp, cracking, agonizing respirations. At last, gush after gush of clotted red gore, as if it had been the purple lees of red wine, shot into the frighted air; and falling back again, ran dripping down his motionless flanks into the sea. His heart had burst!Technorati tag: Moby-Dick06
Dogs Like Us
"Of the 180 breeds listed on one popular Web site for choosing purebred puppies, 42 percent have chronic health problems: skin diseases, stomach disorders, a high incidence of cancers, the inability to bear young without Caesareans, shortened life spans. The list is as disturbing as it is long, and poses a question: dazzled by the uniqueness of many of the breeds we've created, have we — the dog-owning public — turned a blind eye to the development of a host of dysfunctional animals?"
Genetic engineering's not a new idea, you know.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Monday, February 13, 2006
How do I lub thee?
Let me count the ways:
1. I love you in the morning when you look like a lawnmower attacked you in your sleep and your breath could kill a buffalo at thirty paces.
2. I love you when you fart in your sleep.
3. I love you when you ask me a question and I am not listening or can't hear you and when I ask you to repeat yourself you get all huffy and yell the response.
4. I love you when you are telling me how hot some guy in a kilt looked when he came into work that day.
5. I love the way you slap the living crap out of my face, my chest, my ear and my balls when you roll over in your sleep.
6. I love it when you push the cat off of you and towards me so that he jumps on my throat or other tender areas.
7. I love it how I can be taking a shower and you can come into the bathroom and take a dump that nearly melts the shower curtain and then leave without using air-spray.
8. I love when you ask me a question and then won't let me answer it because apparently it was rhetorical.
9. I love how you call him my son.
10. I love it when you say, "Come hear a second" and I lean close and you pluck a hair out of some various part of my head.
You see darling, if I can love you at these times, the rest will be a piece of cake. I love you Salma Hayek darling.
All sorts of modern corporations got where they were because of military socialism, especially the automobile and oil industries. As EPI showed, the American economy is addicted to it: since 2001 a little under half of the 3.4 million new jobs created have been paid for by the Pentagon (and another 1.3 million have been created by non-defense discretionary spending; more socialism!).
And the other question is whether even more jobs could be created if some of those Pentagon dollars were shifted to direct spending on housing and infrastructure. That seems quite likely, and this was Melman's view—as for instance, he argued in a 2003 Counterpunch essay. If we're going to have a socialist system here in America—and already we have a Federal Reserve Chairman who perhaps exercises as much control over the U.S. economy as GOSPLAN ever did in the Soviet Union—we may as well do it right.
" . . . Still, this is what a grown-up approach to energy policy looks like. Nothing mind-blowing. Nothing impossible. All you need is a government willing to act. The contrast between the Swedes and an administration that backtracks from even modest statements on ending our oil addiction—and then lays off 32 workers at the National Renewable Energy Lab because of a $28 million budget shortfall there—pretty much speaks for itself. Lucky us."
Get the details
Sunday, February 12, 2006
So last month when I went to Active.com to find events to compete in for the next while, I was excited to find the Psycho WyCo "Run Toto, Run" Trail Runs. Way back when I heard there was a dog off-leash area at Wyandotte County Lake, we went to check it out. Once there, we discovered the bridle trail that circles the entire lake, and have been periodically exploring it ever since. I thought we were the only people to run there, though, so it was nice discover kindred spirits. I explored their website and found they actually get together to train four times each week, but haven’t gotten around to joining them for that. But I decided to do the event, so I registered for it, gave them my money, and wrote it in my date book.
I don’t go into an event like that expecting to compete for top places, especially one as challenging and long as this (the ten-miler is plenty for me), but I still get geared up for it. It gives me a goal for the training and mixes a bit of camaraderie into the isolation I usually prefer. So I planned around it. I tapered my training this week so my legs would be fresh. I made myself unavailable for gaming for the weekend. I trimmed my toenails, laid out my clothes, stretched, and got psyched up for it last night. I stayed up late with pre-race jitters. I got up at 6:00 this morning and started stretching and warming up so my body would be fully awake by race time at 8:00. I had my PowerBar and banana. I was ready to go, and arrived at the lake at precisely 7:30 to pick up my packet and enjoy a good run.
Except no one was there. I pulled into the parking lot and pondered for a moment. I hadn’t printed out the directions because I knew exactly the parking lot they meant when I read them. There was nowhere else at the lake that would serve as well. It had to be the spot. I pulled out my phone and woke the wife up. “Would you mind jumping on the computer and double checking the directions for me? There’s no one here and I’m confused.” She did. I was at the right place. Hmm. Did I have the right time? “Let’s see, 8:00 a.m, February 11.” It’s 7:30 now, so I’m not too early . . . Wait! What did she say? “Today is not February 11. You missed it, dude.” No way. No freaking way! It was yesterday? Oh, come on. How did I mess that up? I missed it? This sucks big time. I’m such an idiot. We could have gamed last night after all. Wow. No way. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Etc, the whole drive home.
On the bright side: I worked yesterday and probably couldn’t have done it, anyway. Instead of leaving them caged up in the yard, I was able to run by the house and get the dogs to join me in my run. We only did five miles instead of ten so that: A) I won’t be so sore and in need of rest and recovery the next couple of days, and B) I was done in time to take the wife out for brunch before we had to go to our separate jobs for the day. Still, though, I feel really dumb and it sucks that I missed the event.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
So yesterday at work, it was
In chapter 45, The Affidavit, Ishmael is describing the dangers of whaling and how deaths are vastly underreported, so few understand just how fatal the profession can be: "For God's sake, be economical with your lamps and candles! not a gallon you burn, but at least one drop of man's blood was spilled for it." I wonder how many other products we could say the same about?
From chapter 46, Surmises: "To accomplish his object Ahab must use tools; and of all tools used in the shadow of the moon, men are most apt to get out of order." (and women, I would add)
Considering that he's been singing about the nobleness of the whaling profession the entire book and he decided to try it out of a desire for adventure, I think it's pretty funny that the first thing Ishmael does after his first encounter with a whale is make out his will (chapter 49, The Hyena).
And I know this is juvenile and the double meaning would have meant nothing to Melville, but I still couldn't help laughing the first time I heard of the ship named The Town-Ho (especially since I am listening and didn't get the hyphen). (Chapter 54, The Town-Ho's Story)
Technorati tag: Moby-Dick06
PATRON: (Walking toward me looking slightly put-out and in a hurry; in a demanding tone) I can't figure out [something] on the computer. Can you help me?
ME: (Rising from my chair and beginning to walk toward her/her computer; pleasantly) I'd be glad to. Let's go take a look at your computer.
PATRON: (Wordlessly gathers up her preschooler, turns her back on me, and walks into the family restroom)
5-10 minutes later . . . (Patron emerges, says, "OK, I'm ready now," and I show her what she needs to know)
5-10 minutes later . . .
PATRON: (Walking toward me looking slightly put-out and in a hurry; in a demanding tone) I'm still having trouble figuring it out. Can you help me some more?
ME: (Rising from my chair and beginning to walk toward her/her computer; pleasantly) I'd be glad to. Let's go take a look at your computer.
PATRON: Come on, [Billy]. (Gathers up her preschooler, turns her back on me, and walks into the family restroom)
Friday, February 10, 2006
I get a lot of stupid questions at work, and entirely too much information from time to time (such as the woman who, when asking about Kegel exercises, made sure to tell me that she was incontinent rather than have me think she was trying to improve her sex life) but the one that topped them all happened some months ago.
I was on hold with another branch, waiting to see if a book the patron was interested in was, in fact, on the shelf, when said patron looked me right in the eye and asked if I'd ever thought about becoming a nun.
Flabbergasted, I just stammered out a brief, "Nooo. . . ." Not to be dissuaded, this woman procedes to tell me about how she has some brochures in her car and she'd be happy to get them for me.
My first thought: What about me looks remotely nunnish? Is it the glasses? The lack of wedding ring that I'd recently removed because my hands were too swollen to wear it? The fact that I was about four months pregnant? What?
Then I start coming up with some mental replies.
* I'm afraid this isn't a good time to devote myself to the Buddha.
* No thanks, I'm a Satanist.
* Are you fucking insane?
* Y'know, I would, but I think pregnant nuns are frowned upon.
* That depends; what kind of sex lives do nuns have?
* Why would I do that? I'm freakin' agnostic!
What I actually said, however, was a very bland, "I think my husband would object."
That shut her up long enough for a result to come back. I wonder if she went to pick up her book and started asking people over there about becoming nuns?
And yet murder is still illegal. . . *sigh*
Read the rest
Thursday, February 09, 2006
What little role-playing I did witness was on the chat channel by characters that I couldn't even see, who were perhaps half a continent away. I sincerely doubt that their graphical characters were doing anything that resembled what they were chatting about. So, in essence, these people were having a nice IRC role play, which makes all the graphical flourishes and massive worlds of WoW seem unnecessary. In any event, I cannot see devoting the kind of time some people do to this thing. Once again I have to say that old fashioned RPG's give you more bang for your buck as far as fun is concerned, and are also more intellectually challenging and more social. I don't think anything in this online world can rival a well run campaign in a traditional RPG. So, I might be experiencing a little bit of buyer's remorse. Still, I've got a free month, so I'll give it some more time to see how it shakes out. I've got some more thoughts on this topic, but no time right now to get them down. So for now, I'll leave it at that....
I've seen the same reaction in others when discussing homosexuality. It's unnatural, they say with their words, while their body language says it's disgusting. We can debate for hours the moral and ethical issues around it. I can even have them convinced that biblically it's virtually a non-issue, that even if they are going to stick to the idea it's a sin, it gets such miniscule mention in the bible compared to the other evils they should be addressing as Christians, yet I can still see that emotionally it upsets them more than anything else they can think of.
In fact, I've come to the conclusion that many of our deeply held values that drive our beliefs, politics, and lifestyle choices, that separate us into camps like liberal and conservative, are driven by those gut feelings. We may spend hours, weeks, years trying to develop our logic, analyzing our sentiments and articulating them, but I think all we're really doing is trying to justify the immediate sensation we get in our guts in response to the issues. All of the arguing doesn't really matter because our final conclusions are predetermined by that emotional signal. I don't know where those gut reactions come from, but I have to wonder if there's really any point in trying to change anyone's mind, or if the conservative political machine has the right idea in simply forcing their views into power instead of trying to win the opposition over.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Well the latest incident of this unfortunate tendency occurred tonight. While at Target buying the essentials of life with quadrapeds, dog food, cat food, ground up scented clay to catch the cat food out the other end, I happened down the software aisle, and voila-- I now own World of Warcraft. I have often said I would never buy a subscription based game, but now I've gone and done so. It was on sale, and I figured for thirty bucks with the first month free-- why not? That's only a dollar a day, and I've bought more than one craptacularly disappointing game at $45 or $50 in the past, so why not check it out and see what the hype is all about? If I like it, fine, I can cough up fifty cents a day to play it-- that's only one can of Coke right? And if I don't, I stop playing at the end of my free month, no harm, no foul. One unfortunate thing is it is taking forever to actually get to play the damn thing. It took forever, and I do mean forever (at least half an hour) to install, and now I'm still downloading updates (we're about ninety minutes into this process now). If I ever actually get to play this thing, I'll let you know if it's worth the trouble.
By Tom Engelhardt
Over the last week: The President came out for an ethanol-powered globe -- that's corn on the cob to you, buddy -- while his Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld announced that our poor planet had somehow gotten more terroristically dangerous since George took the helm. (No fault of his, natch.) Last Tuesday night, of course, the Great Helmsman stood on the congressional deck of state -- perhaps confusing it with the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln (Didn't anyone hear me? Mission accomplished!) -- and declared that we were on nothing less than the "road to victory" in Iraq. (Unfortunately, the message seems not to have gotten through to Iraqis lining that road with IEDs, possibly due to power outages in that country.) Intelligence "Tsar" John Negroponte visited Congress to deliver the news that Earth was virtually swarming with terrorist groups which already had their hands on WMD. (Sleep well, Virginia.) At the same time, multitasking like mad, the administration continued its noble war on T-shirts; the Pentagon put political cartoonists on notice that the military high command wasn't going to take a pen jab lying down (no sir!); and KBR, one of two subsidiaries of the Halliburton Corporation (the other being the U.S. government), received an almost $400 million dollar contract to build emergency "detention facilities" in the homeland (after much practice at Guantanamo). Oh yes, and in their spare time, the President and his closest advisors happily continued to exercise another of those handy prerogatives of the Commander-in-Chief in wartime by essentially amending the Constitution to wipe out the odd check or balance.
Read the details
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Technorati tag (kind of): Moby-Dick06
So far as what there may be of a narrative in this book; and, indeed, as indirectly touching one or two very interesting and curious particulars in the habits of sperm whales, the foregoing chapter [about the charting of whale patterns, which I found quite interesting], in its earlier part, is as important a one as will be found in this volume; but the leading matter of it requires to be still further and more familiarly enlarged upon, in order to be adequately understood, and moreover to take away any incredulity which a profound ignorance of the entire subject may induce in some minds, as to the natural verity of the main points of this affair.Technorati tag: Moby-Dick06
Monday, February 06, 2006
I couldn't agree more. That is, I couldn't agree more if this statement were actually in reference to the current leadership of this country. Unfortunately when taken in context I disagree wholeheartedly. You see the problem with this sentiment is that it was expressed in the fall of 1861 by George McClellan, in many ways one of the premier wankers of the nineteenth century. And it was in reference to, of course, the Lincoln administration, a body of men about as far from incompetent as this nation has ever seen. In fact, the Lincoln presidency is one of those events that almost makes one take seriously the idea of Divine Providence. It seems almost beyond the favors of sheer luck that we would be graced with a leader of Lincoln's wisdom and intelligence in such dark times (this could also be said of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and a host of others of their generation).
Once again we do live in dark times, made all the darker by the rank incompetence, ignorance, and hubris of our leaders. Leaders who proudly and hypocritically claim the mantle of Lincoln, though who in reality are the ideological heirs of his fiercest opponents. Take note of the "Solid South" strategy adopted by the Republican party during the 1960's , largely as a response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Republican party is now strongest in the states of the Old Confederacy, and by fits champions the idea of "states' rights"-- an ironic fate for the party of the Great Emancipator. And, of course there is that other irony: the persistent questioning and deprecation of others' patriotism by men who idolize the greatest perpetrators of treason in American history, traitors who plunged America into a long and bloody Civil War. Of course perhaps Dr. Johnson said it best when he remarked "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?". He was referring to the revolutionary generation, but the sentiment holds even truer for the self-righteous and indignant instigators of the Civil War. Well, the yelping now is all about patriotism and treason, and it ironically comes from a group of men who, on the whole, idolize the traitors of 1861 and the bloody flag of treason they fought under.
Another Samuel Johnson quote might be even more appropriate for our times however. It is oft quoted and, these days, oft corrected to make it fit our interesting times: "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." No Dr. Johnson, in these times, it's the first.
Annette still works full-time as a children's librarian. Bouncing around like a giant bunny during preschool story time is just another way of being paid to be odd, she says.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Friday, February 03, 2006
Chapter 23: The Lee Shore - First chapter on the water and all we get is some poetic something or other about Bulkington.
Chapter 24: The Advocate - A philosophical defense of whaling as a worthy profession.
Chapter 25: Postscript - More of the same
Chapter 26: Knights and Squires - A description of chief mate Starbuck. Not told through Ishmael's introduction to/interactions with him so as to be a part of the story, but pulled out of thin air.
Chapter 27: Knights and Squires - The same for second mate Stubb, third mate Flask, the harpooneers, and some of the crew.
Chapter 28: Ahab - A description of Ahab as he first appears to Ishmael. More organically told in terms of the story.
Chapter 29: Enter Ahab; to him, Stubb - A confrontation between Ahab and Stubb that establishes Ahab's (resented) authority.
Chapter 30: The Pipe - A description of Ahab's unhappiness, as illustrated through his tossing overboard his pipe.
Chapter 31: Queen Mab - Stubb telling Flask about a dream of being kicked around by Ahab.
Chapter 32: Cetology - Ishmael's systematic essay on whales.
Chapter 33: The Specksynder - A historical look at the importance of harpooneers to a whale boat.
Chapter 34: The Cabin-Table - A description of the meal routines of the officers. This begins a new aspect of the narration that I find frustrating. Until now Ishmael has been telling the story, but all of a sudden we seem to have an omnipotent narrator describing things and places that Ishmael is not a part of. Later we begin getting the private thoughts of other characters, as well. I would prefer more consistency in the storytelling.
Chapter 35: The Mast-Head - A description of the history, importance, and use of the mast-head.
Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck - A pivotal bit of action in which Ahab shares his intention of seeking vengeance on Moby Dick. He counters all arguments and whips his men into a blood frenzy so they all vow to join him in the hunt.
Chapter 37: Sunset - Ahab's private reaction to chapter 36.
Chapter 38: Dusk - Starbuck's private reaction to chapter 36.
Chapter 39: First Night-Watch - Stubb's private reaction to chapter 36.
Chapter 40: Midnight, Forecastle - The crew's revelrous reaction to chapter 36, written almost as a script (and still no sign of Ishmael).
Chapter 41: Moby Dick - A description of the legend of the White Whale.
Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale - An encyclopedic treatise on every symbolic use of the color white over the entire history of humankind. Much more tedious than Cetology and the impetus for this rant. Hopefully almost over.
I think I've had enough introductions and histories and asides and musings for while and hope fervently we get back to some storytelling soon.
Technorati Tag: Moby-Dick06
Submitted on 2005-12-13
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: 'I don't really understand. How is it the new plan going to fix the problem?'
Verbatim response: PRESIDENT BUSH:
'Because the — all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those — changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be — or closer delivered to that has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the — like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate — the benefits will rise based upon inflation, supposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those — if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.'
I also recently read an editorial from the January 30th New York Times (not available for free on their website, but it can be found with library databases) titled The Lost Children: "One of the weirder things occurring in American education is the disappearance of kids -- especially black and Hispanic kids -- from high school." And:
This is an underrecognized, underreported crisis in American life. Far from preparing kids for college, big-city high schools in neighborhoods with large numbers of poor, black and Latino youngsters are just hemorrhaging students. The kids are vanishing into a wilderness of ignorance. If the dropout rate were somehow reversed in a city like Los Angeles, there wouldn't be enough schools to accommodate the kids.Again, this is something my experience can attest to. Each year we had 450-500 kids enroll as freshmen, yet were only graduating 150-200 in each senior class. I don't know where they went or what they did with themselves, but it wasn't school.
Youngsters who drop out of high school are much less likely to be regularly employed, or to escape poverty, even if they work full time. They are less likely to be married and less likely to have a decent home and a decent school for their kids. Their chances of ending up in prison -- especially for the African-American and Latino boys -- are much higher.Draw what conclusions you want from this, but it is happening. I tried making a difference for a while and may again before I'm through, but life was much more stressful and frustrating in those circumstances and I decided to try something else before I burned out. Unlike many, I had that option.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
* McDonald's (Isn't that everyone's first job?)
* Box office staff
* Library clerk
* Library reference
Four movies I can watch over and over:
* The Princess Bride
* Spirited Away
Four movies I can't stand the sight of:
* Dude, Where's My Car?
* anything else with Ashton Kutcher
* anything with Nicholas Cage
* most anything with Ben Stiller (except Mystery Men)
Four places I've lived:
* Kansas City, KS
* Kansas City, MO
* Overland Park
Four places I'm avoiding:
* Day cares
Four TV shows I love (currently) :
* Law & Order: SVU
* Full Metal Alchemist
* Stargate: SG1
* Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2nd Gig)
Four TV shows I love (classic):
* Cowboy Bebop
* Night Court
* Neon Genesis Evangelion
* Monty Python's Flying Circus
Four places I've vacationed:
* St. Louis, MO
* Los Angeles, CA
* Phoenix, AZ
* Las Vegas, NV
Four of my favorite dishes:
* Lamb curry
* Panang curry
* My mother's lasagna
* Chicken Bryan from Carrabba's
Four sites I visit daily:
* a specialty game board where many of my friends hang out
Four places I would rather be right now:
* Snugglin' wif mah honey
* Somewhere comfy
* Playing D&D
* On the way to collect on a winning Powerball ticket
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
You scored 44% on knowledge of librarianship.
You're getting there - you know more than most people about libraries. Maybe you're starting Library School and getting yourself ready to take over the profession. Or maybe you already work in a library but just don't know some of the history and details. But, you're more of an aspiring librarian than a full-fledged librarian.
My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 68% on knowledge
Take the Are You a Librarian? test
Making a comparison between our current U.S. and Melville's leads me to another thought I've been wanting to write about for a while. Whenever I read something old (it's a relative term, I know) like this, I'm reminded that people are people. It doesn't really matter what century we live in or what culture we come from, despite our obvious differences we are still all basically the same underneath. I've never been whaling nor shared most of Ishmael's experiences, yet I can relate to him. It's why I became an English major, to study the human condition as captured by different writers. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, for instance, is a work by a Persian from 1,000 years ago, yet I found as much insight in that as anything else I've read. People are still identifying with the characters and stories of the Old Testament from thousands of years ago. The examples are countless. It seems that no matter how everything else changes, people remain people. There's the cliche, "If I knew then what I knew now;" parents are always trying to convince their kids of things with the perspective of age; yet each generation, each person, must live the experiences to learn; there is no accumulated wisdom that can be passed on to give the future a head start; each person starts at zero and learns and grows from there. I think the deeper lesson of Moby Dick, as it is with all literature, is that the human condition never changes. As much as we enjoy reading the thoughts of our predecessors and learning from them, we are the same as them. Even the teacher Ecclesiastes wrote, "There is nothing new under the sun" (1:9). There was nothing unthought or unfelt even then, 2,000-3,000 years ago. This life is our lot and all we can do is make the best of it.
I didn't mean to, but I think I'm getting kind of depressing here. That's not the point I'm trying to make. Exactly because the human condition is consistent, we are able to seek solace in works like Moby Dick. That shared identity is what allows us to connect with each other and find companionship. I'm only a quarter of the way into this book and already Ishmael is a new friend of mine. He's been Erica's friend for years, and those of us reading it right now are all getting to know each other through him and his tale. Because of my job my reading is almost completely kids/teen books and escapist fantasies anymore, but I'm glad I'm taking the time to read this right now because it's getting me back to my English major roots.
A final word.
Technorati tag: Moby-Dick06