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busy, busy, busy

Sunday, August 31, 2003

First bombs, now dogs

The probable FOX News spin: Bush's dog safely released, refuses to land on feet; First Lady momentarily distracted from beaming triumphantly at husband; Horrified kids just easily-offended bleeding-heart Liberals, likely caused the dog to drop to appease Liberal Media.

Happy Labor Day. Things are getting better, just not for you.

Monday, August 25, 2003

I'm so happy I'm living in the US city with the highest recently-recorded heat index. I suppose it could be worse; I could be in France with people dying all around me. I'm still going to complain about it, though--other than the outrageous traffic it's the only bad thing about living in Lawrence (so far).

I do feel pretty dumb bitching about the weather--it won't be too far into the future when we'll be looking back at this time with fond remembrance.

I'm so glad to see my alma mater doing such constructive and meaningful things during a budget crisis such as installing a scoreboard with a video screen and building a frisbee-golf course. They know what's best for the school, I'm sure; it's hard for visitors to drive through campus and see things like scholarships, lower tuition, higher pay, and better living conditions for on-campus residents. On a more personal note, if I were them I would invest some cash in creating graduate courses that aren't exactly the same as undergraduate courses. Last time I checked at other schools, "seminar" doesn't mean just an extra ten pages added to every paper...

Tomorrow is a good day: The Two Towers is out on DVD. I won't be able to watch it until Wednesday night, though; at least I'll be able to gaze longingly at the cover.

Song of the day: "Gravity Rides Everything" by Modest Mouse, despite the mini-van commercial
Book of the moment: Let's Put the Future Behind Us by Jack Womack
Film of the day: Bowling for Columbine
Insane rapture/end times-oriented site of the day: The Trumpeter's Mission End Times Site FAQ 1998

Rock over London, Rock on Chicago

The world lost a truly unique artist with the death of Wesley Willis. To think of all the songs we'll never hear now...

George Bush is the president of the United States
He is from the state of Texas
He executed lots of people there
Now he executes people in Iraq

Geeeeooorge Buuush
Geeeeooorge Buuush
Geeeeooorge Buuush
Geeeeooorge Buuush

George Bush is a bad liar
He lied about the war
He lied about doing drugs
He is a cokehead and a liar

and so on...

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

A reason to wake up on Tuesdays

It's hard to find a better or more thorough summation of how ridiculous and sad life on planet Earth is than Harper's Weekly. (How's that for an awkward sentence? I've got a million of 'em.) Here are some choice bits from today's edition:
Idi Amin, the former tyrant of Uganda, under whose rule more than 400,000 people perished, was said to be looking for a kidney donor to save his life. He was apparently unsuccessful.

Fox News sued Al Franken, the comedian, because his new book includes the words "fair and balanced" in the title; Fox claims to own the commonly used phrase, which it uses to great ironic effect in its advertisements.

"We are a major superpower with a Third World electrical grid," said Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico. "We'll have time to look at it and determine whether or not our grid needs to be modernized," said President George W. Bush, who has opposed legislation to improve the grid. "I happen to think it does, and have said so all along."

The Middle East peace process continued as Israeli forces conducted a raid in Nablus, killing at least two Hamas members; Hamas retaliated with a suicide bombing, killing an Israeli settler. The Al Aksa Martyrs brigade also carried out a bombing, killing one Israeli. Israel killed an Islamic Jihad commander, and the group promised revenge attacks.

After reading it, I can almost forget my nightmarish experience from last night, when I heard one of my favorite Modest Mouse songs coming from the telelvision and, upon further investigation, found that it was being used as background music for a FUCKING MINIVAN COMMERCIAL. Christ, what the hell is up with that?

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Terror through annoying inconveniences?

Far from the major catastrophe it could have been, this week's blackouts in the Northeast were, according to most reports, simply annoying. There was no major loss of life (if any at all), no looting to speak of, and most everyone got a day or two off of work and school. Despite some early claims of the event being somehow linked to terrorism, everyone's pretty sure now that it was in reality "just one of those things" modern, industrialized civilization has to deal with from time to time, though no one is sure which one of those things was the cause.

Though most are ruling out terrorism as the cause, I tend to half-seriously think that we could be seeing a new means by international terrorists to bring down the United States. Surprise attacks that result in high casualties are definitely effective in the short-term--look at the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks--but the impact does have a pretty rapid decrease over time (we may "never forget," but we're also not going to always dwell on it every waking minute for the rest of our lives, and if Americans are good at anything it's quickly moving past tragedy to the next celebrity rape or murder case). The payoff for terrorists in future 9-11s is obviously not going to be worth the effort; they may kill a bunch of people and we'll get pissed off, toss the Bill of Rights behind the sofa and start a few wars, but we'll eventually want to move on to buy SUVs and watch American Idol. In the end, what's the point? No one here "gets" the terrorists' motivations anyway.

So they change their tactics. Instead of huge, TV-ready spectacles that "unite" the nation, they engage in effectively harmless, inconveniencing, and annoying "attacks." It will take longer and be more difficult, but the end result could be far greater than blowing up buildings because we would be too damn tired to actually do anything, whether it be sticking a flag on our Humvees or levelling another impoverished state. Turning off the power is just one thing; they could send out computer viruses that instead of any real damage will just make our machines shut down every half hour, or make all text appear backward every Monday and Thursday at 9AM; they could re-program Wal-Mart's pricing systems so that everything rings up $10 more than it costs, forcing the checkers to enter everything by hand and causing extreme delays; they can adjust traffic lights to stay red for five minutes and then turn green for five seconds. Really, the possibilites are endless, and after a while, even though no one has died and even though there was no real damage or loss (other than wasted time), Americans will not want to do anything. We will be annoyed and inconvenienced to the point of exhaustion. We probably won't go attack anyone because we'll have no idea if our military machinery will work or not.

In the end we will live in terror not because we are afraid we'll be killed by a random bomb, but because all of our regular routines will be uncertain, and we'll never know what kind of shit will go wrong on any particular day. Americans can be killed next door, and we'll be okay as long as it doesn't disrupt our schedule for more than a very short while. We can maybe stand a longer wait at the airport, but when every normal, everyday process becomes an ordeal to wade through, America will fall apart.

Of course, I think Mac Tonnies has a much more interesting (and plausible) tentative idea for what caused the blackouts.

Friday, August 15, 2003

It's the weekend, and that I means I have some time to breathe until things get going again at 7AM Monday morning. It also means I can blog freely (everyone else can breathe now).

I hit Half Price Books earlier this evening, and I got some pretty kick-ass stuff. Here's the run-down:
Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut;
The Story of American Freedom by Eric Foner;
Ambient, Random Acts of Senseless Violence, and Let's Put the Future Behind Us by Jack Womack (I'm still hunting for Elvissey).
...all for just a little over $25. If God's blessing anything, it's that damn store. I could have walked out of there with a few boxes full of books.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Half Price Books just opened a store in Lawrence. I have a feeling they're going to get a sizeable chunk of my next paycheck.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

It's the end of the world as we know it...

What'choo talkin' 'bout Senator Feinstein? Gary Coleman, Gallagher, and that guy from "Kindergarten Cop" are all set to run for California's Governor. That's almost weirder than the dead guy who ran for the senate (and won) from Missouri back in 2000.

Having trouble vomiting? This will help. Is this "figurine" so authentic that it mysteriously disappears without permission from collectors' collections for months at a time, only to turn up in another collection running an energy company into the ground and snorting blow by the bagfull? Now that would be something... (via This Modern World)

I may be fat and out of shape now, but at least I don't still look like an effeminate, malnourished truck driver. Happy Birthday to me.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Tomorrow is my birthday. To celebrate, Maggie and I are attending a training session where we get to learn how to use non-physical and physical methods to de-escalate demanding behavior situations. That almost beats party hats and cake any day of the week. It definitely beats the Happy Birthday song.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Mac Tonnies said in just one eloquent post today what I have been lamely trying to say here for the past six months. And then some.
...The United States is in the throes of a profound disorder, dutifully obliging every attack on decency and human freedom doled out by the insane asylum formerly known as the White House. We have lost our capacity for wonder; we are pragmatic, gutless drones in a windowless neocon hive. We die and we are replaced. Some of us may kick and scream, but in the end it's futile. So we stand on the beach and await the fallout from overseas, readying our syringes behind the wheels of our SUVs and fume-belching pick-ups.

Scientists have begun predicting our species' extinction with a certain morbid glee. Stephen Hawking gives us a thousand years, tops. Others, no less informed, offer us 100 years. Or even 50. The unsettling truth of the matter is that we deserve to perish. Not because of Bush, but because our capacity to tolerate Bush and so many others like him is, apparently, inexhaustible. The only hope left to us is that we can turn the tide of obsolescence in our favor, so our postbiological descendants can, in some sense, take us with them. Otherwise the human experiment, so profound from ground-level, will have been as quaint as a bloom of mold in a petri dish...


Saturday, August 02, 2003


Yesterday was payday. Since most of our income is of the "disposable" sort, we went out and disposed of it in a way we've been wanting to do for a very long time: by picking up a moderately-sized stack of DVDs. We just went to Border's and let ourselves go (within reason), walking out with five of our all-time favorites.

What's Up Doc? Don't let the fact that this stars Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal keep you from seeing this; it's quite possibly the funniest film ever made. I don't know what more I can really say about it, except there's no way you're not going to laugh if you watch it.

Donnie Darko My personal favorite. Everyone should see this. Everyone should own this. Everyone should love this and watch it every day. That about sums up my feelings on the matter.

The Rules of Attraction Unfortunately marketed as a "teen movie," it's anything but; it's much more similar in spirit to American Psycho (not surprising, since both are based on novels by the same author). The film deals with such disgusting and pathetic characters doing such offensive and disturbing things that one feels guilty for liking it; even the comedic moments are uncomfortable to laugh about. If for no other reason, watch this to see Fred Savage's cameo as a junkie. Of course, there are plenty of other reasons.

Requiem for a Dream I've never seen a film that can take such horrible things and make them seem almost beautiful, though pathetically so, the way this one does. I don't like to use cliches, but this is the most gut-wrenching and compelling film I've ever seen. See my blurb about Rules of Attraction, only multiply it by 100. I wish I could say more about it, but you just need to see it.

Waking Life It's, like, so deep man, it really makes you think, you know? Just kidding. This film really is a must-see, though; excellent stream-of-consciousness dialogue overlaid with animation, it's one of the more interesting films to have come out over the past couple of years. I don't want to say much more about it because I know I will end up sounding like the moron I am.