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busy, busy, busy

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

It is my sad duty to inform you that I am composing this post using... Internet Explorer.

Inexplicably, my Mozilla browser just stopped working today. It worked just fine this morning when I woke up; a couple hours later, nothing. The browser loads, then for some reason far beyond my liberal arts scope of knowledge, it freezes while looking up the homepages.

I tried the uninstall/reinstall approach. I tried installing and running Firefox, with exactly the same results. Get the latest Mozilla version? Tried it.

But Internet Explorer still works. It's been less than a full day, but I can definitely say this: life without tabbed browsing sucks. Pop-up ads had until now become a distant memory, and I had gotten so used to never seeing them that I was wondering what other people were always bitching about.

I need my Mozilla. Or Firefox. Whichever.

If anyone reading this is knowledgable about such things, please, please, PLEASE contact me and help me through this ordeal. I'm seriously considering shelling out the $40 to call Mozilla tech support. I don't have $40.


Monday, August 30, 2004

I watched some of the RNC protests on C-SPAN yesterday. The highlight of the whole spectacle was a Chinese dragon in flames on the street in front of the FOX News headquarters. It's a far cry from a self-immolated Buddhist monk, but it's something. It also provided a clear answer to the age-old question of, "What does one do with a Chinese dragon after a major anti-Republican protest?"

The people chanting and carrying signs that read "Four More Months!" left me a little confused. Four months from yesterday would be the end of December. From the time of the election, four months would put us in February. Hey hey, ho ho, someone needs a calendar. I do understand the sentiment, and I suppose chants and signs proclaiming "A little over TWO MORE MONTHS (if one counts to the election) / FIVE MORE MONTHS (if one counts to inauguration day)!!!!" would be more than a little awkward.

If I had been there (HA!), I would have kept it simple, much like the beautiful little sign up above (via BoingBoing).

Although I tried to avoid it, I have been catching some of the actual convention. It's like a four-day-long version of the superbowl, at least if you're like me and think football is one of the most outrageously dull and pointless things on the face of this planet, so utterly devoid of substance it makes you feel hollow and empty just to think about it, let alone sit and watch it. Or something like that.

Sunday, August 29, 2004


After some thorough and exhausting investigating, I am able to bring you the following news:

Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut really is playing in Kansas City. It'll be at the Cinemark Palace theater on the beautiful Country Club Plaza, starting this Friday, September 3.

So... I'll see you there.

Something hit the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The "offical" explanation is that a commercial airliner, a Boeing 757 to be exact, was hijacked and intentionally flown into the enourmous building. Okay. Just one problem:

Where's the plane?

I'm not going to speculate on what actually happened--frankly, I don't have a freaking clue. The damage to the Pentagon simply does not look it was caused by a fully-loaded commercial airliner.

I'm also made suspicious by the near-total lack of attention given to the Pentagon over the past three years; we hear about New York constantly, and about the "heroes" of Pennsylvania almost as often. Rarely are the events and circumstances of the attack in Washington, DC mentioned, and when they are it's usually in the form of an obligatory "and a plane crashed into the Pentagon on the same day". It could be that the Pentagon is a legitimate military target, and so not as shocking as what happened in New York, but it could also be an attempt to redirect our attention away from some sort of ugly truths. At any rate, we may "never forget" what happened on 9/11/01, but the truth is we don't even know what really happened.

Visit the link above and watch the video. It's quite stunning, if a bit sensationalistic. Behind the all paranoia, there are some serious questions that need answers.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

It's about damn time. September 3. The Palace 15 Theater. Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut.

Of course, there's one little problem: I can find no record in any Kansas City media of this film playing, nor any information about the Palace 15 theater (such as, does it even exist?). Somebody please help me. Please.

In other Darko news, apparently Richard Kelly has released The Donnie Darko Book. It looks like it's just the entire script and some interviews and pictures, but I'll probably still get it.

Yikes... I checked out Posthuman Blues after making that last post. Seriously.

Flying Cars Reportedly Still Decades Away
"It's a frustrated commuter's escapist fantasy: literally lifting your car out of a clogged highway and soaring through the skies, landing just in time to motor into your driveway.

Researchers stress that the ultimate dream — an affordable, easy-to-use vehicle that could allow regular people to fly 200 miles to a meeting and also drive 15 miles to the mall — is still probably decades away."

The article seems to imply there are many drivers out there expecting flying cars to hit the market next year. It's funny. That this article was in the "breaking news" section on Yahoo's front page is even funnier.

And really, given my last post, is this really such a good idea anyway?

This post should have appeared last night, but just as I was saving it the power very briefly went out.

No one in Lawrence knows how to drive. Pulling out of your driveway and driving through town is a dance with death, and the local car insurance rates oh-so-painfully reflect that sad fact. Please consider the following three experiences I had just today within the space of about two hours:

1. I noticed a vehicle traveling at a very fast rate of speed coming up behind me, wildly weaving from lane to lane and passing every other vehicle on the road. As it was passing me on my left, its driver apparently mistook the giant van I was driving for an empty space of road. The driver noticed the error about two inches from disaster, jerked the vehicle back into the proper lane, displayed a vulgar hand gesture directed towards me, and screamed through an open window "Get that fucking 'tard wagon off the fucking road, you asshole."

2. A vehicle approached me very rapidly from behind and slowed down to match my speed (a little above 45mph) only a few inches from my rear bumper (I judged the distance by the fact that I could not see the other vehicle in any of my mirrors, and only its roof when I physically turned my head to look out the rear window). After traveling like that for approximately half of a mile, the other driver rapidly passed me, pulled back into my lane, and slammed on their brakes. As I slammed on my brakes to avoid a collision, the other driver accelerated and sped away, displaying a vulgar hand gesture.

3. I was in a right-turn only lane at a red light, just starting to make the turn. A vehicle in the left-turn lane waiting at a red light on the same side of the street suddenly veered out of the lane, cut across the middle lane of traffic, and made a very illegal right turn. The vehicle missed hitting me by only a few inches. As it sped past me, the driver honked at me and--you guessed it--displayed a vulgar hand gesture.

Individually, none of these situations are too remarkable; even that they all happened in one day, before noon, isn't anything special--like I said, Lawrence is driver hell. What makes them noteworthy were the striking similarities they all shared.

All of the vehicles were mini-vans.
Each mini-van was driven by a woman.
Each mini-van contained at least three children, all of whom were obviously unrestrained (clinbing over seats, hopping up and down--in the first incident, a kid was sitting upside-down in the front seat).
All three drivers were talking on cell phones at the time of the incident (the driver in the first event didn't cover up the phone while shouting obscenities).
All the vans had "Bush/Cheney 2004" bumper stickers.
And--this is the really odd similarity, and one that will hopefully not lead Mac to a heart attack--the license plate numbers on all three vans contained the number "23".

I wish I could say these near-collisions were caused by people driving humvees or nasty trucks with confederate flag stickers, but no. In Lawrence, those people are, for the most part, the good drivers. How mothers can have absolutely no regard for the lives of their children is quite beyond my capacity to reason. Perhaps what they need is see one of their little ones hurtling through the windshield and landing in the middle of a busy lane of traffic... who knows.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Guardian Unlimited Top 10 Sci-Fi Films, chosen by actual scientists!

Not a bad list. Personally, I wouldn't include "Terminator 2" or "The Matrix", and the Star Wars inclusions seem kind of sketchy (despite the fact that I love them--damned nostalgia), and I haven't seen either version of "Solaris". I'd replace them with "12 Monkeys", "Contact", "The Andromeda Strain", and "Total Recall" (if one has to choose an Arnold movie).

The top two picks are spot-on, in that order. And fortunately I am reminded that I need to see "Solaris", so I guess I will do that pretty soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Oh yeah... If I hear or read the words "swift boat" one more time, I'm going to cause some pretty serious, though superficial, property damage. I can't believe this election has come down to choosing the guy who was less of a pussy than the other one in a disgraceful and dishonorable war the US lost thirty years ago.

Vote for the guy who used privilege in order to "serve" at home, or vote for the guy who was in Vietnam and shot an enemy soldier in the back as he was running away (and who has also admitted to committing "atrocities"). Just based on those criteria, I'd vote for the first guy (if I were voting).

I finished China Mieville's "The Scar". I have never complained about a good book being "too long," but in this case, well... yeah, I'll say it: It is a bit too long. With about two hundred fewer pages it would be an excellent novel; as it stands, I would classify it as almost really good.

A shorter length would free it from the major problem I had with the book as a whole: Too much build-up, not enough pay-off. The two main, major, important things the reader expects to happen (and is led to believe to be pretty damn amazing--over and over again) are quite anti-climactic. The greatest parts are those that come from almost out of nowhere, and, fortunately, there are plenty of those moments.

The book is an enjoyable read, mostly because you don't notice the "big problem" until you're finished.

I then completely changed gears and started Jonathan Lethem's "As She Climbed Across the Table". Simple, quick, hilarious, and somewhat reminiscent of Delillo's "White Noise". A man is jealous of his girlfriend's relationship with a "universe" created in a physics laboratory, and two of her blind friends move into his apartment. I'm only on page fifty. Let the party begin.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Lots of new links over to your right. Check them out. Or don't. It's entirely up to you.

Hmmm... So, sorry about that last post from yesterday. I'm not quite sure what was going on with that one.

I promise it will never happen again (I have my fingers crossed just in case).

Friday, August 20, 2004

Today I got to chase a short slobbery hairy man wearing only underwear and socks through a crowded bathroom pleading with him to at least put your helmet because if you fall down and hit your head you will die and telling him that this is all really childish I mean come on you're forty years old it's been a long time since throwing your only pair of clean pants in the toilet is really all that funny and hey don't open that door there's someone taking a dump in there this isn't a peep show now let's get some clothes on you dude toilet paper does not taste very good at least it hasn't been used yet and yes how very nice you know how to wash your hands but I think you're stalling you need to put on some clothes and oh okay now you're going to crawl on the floor to get to the next stall that's pretty smart how about you use those brains to put on some pants okay that's a good start but you'll need to take your hands out of your underwear if you want to button your pants and great your pants are on so now how about those shoes...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Maybe I'm just way too exhausted and overworked, but looking at pictures of female celebrities photo-shopped to appear bald is more amusing than I thought it would be.

And although it takes a little to get the hang of, this is quite fun.

Dig the disappearance of banner ads. And now, finally, if you think this blog sucks (and I don't know why anyone wouldn't), you can heal the world and GET YOUR OWN BLOG.

Of course, you can also explore the "next blog" option, and this one just might start to look a little better...

I'm almost disappointed. I've lived in Kansas (Lawrence, no less) for over a year and have yet to encounter a spirited delegation from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka.

Their website is great, because if I didn't know any better I'd think it was some side project from the Landover Baptist folks. I mean, come one--these links appear in this order on the site:

"God's Ultimatum to America's Perverted Press
Eat Some Delicious Bread From Westboro Oven
America's Courts Are Gates Of Hell"

Visit one, and hilarity should ensue. Sadly, no. Of course, this is pretty funny.

Currently listening to:
"Blueberry Boat" by The Fiery Furnaces
Currently reading:
"The Scar" by China Mieville

Sunday, August 15, 2004

I saw a "demonstration" in front of the local KFC yesterday. It was about ten people standing by the street holding a huge sign that said "KFC TORTURES CHICKENS". They were shouting and making gestures at all the passing traffic, waving pictures of mutilated chickens in cages, stuff like that. The KFC parking lot was jam-packed full of cars, and I can only imagine people were eating there solely to piss off the protesters.

If they really wanted to "make a difference," why didn't they go directly to the company headquarters? I don't think--though I could be wrong--that the 23rd Street KFC in Lawrence, Kansas, has much of a say in dictating the company's chicken-raising practices. Perhaps a handful of familes may have decided to eat somewhere else (like the Burger King or Long John Silver's across the street); maybe even one of the underpaid and exploited foriegn employees had their eyes opened to the horrors of modern poultry farming and decided to find a job somewhere else (like the Burger King or Long John Silver's across the street).

And people who already want to eat dead chickens probably don't care that said chickens had been "tortured".

But here's the funny part: when I was driving back the other way, a mere twenty minutes later, making one more pass by the dreaded restaurant of torture, the ever-vigilant protesters had staked their banner into the grass and most of them were either sitting or laying on the sidewalk. Now that's dedication. It was lunchtime, and I like to think they were wishing they had protested some other pressing issue; then they could have gone into KFC and picked up some tasty fried chicken and a cool drink.

Then there are the peace demonstrators downtown. They stand in front of a church near a busy intersection and hold up signs asking drivers to "honk for peace". When people do honk (which happens more often than not in this town), they flip the signs around to display messages telling the honkers not to use up oil by driving cars if they really care about peace.

That's why so-called liberals will never be in control--they are lazy as fuck (the peaceniks weren't even there when I drove by the second time) and spend most of their time fighting and bitching with each other.

I did score what I consider to be a small personal victory yesterday--I pulled into a parking spot in which a Humvee was preparing to parallel park. They were pissed, but that's why we have turn signals. (Though, even had their signal been on, showing their intention to park, I still would have done it. Twenty minutes to find a parking spot is too damn long.)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

"I'm no fucking Buddhist, but this is enlightenment."*

"American Gods" is continuing to consume me. I'm only halfway through the book, but it's already rapidly climbing my list of favorite books, where it's likely to permanently reside with the likes of "Catch-22", "1984", "A Scanner Darkly", and, of course, "The Lord of the Rings". (Recent additions to that select list include "Random Acts of Senseless Violence", "Perdido Street Station", and "Neuromancer".) It's that good.

I just saw a flicker of movement out of the corner of my right eye. I turned my head to find myself quite uncomfortably face to face with a rather large spider that had slowly dropped from the ceiling. I calmly but quickly considered my options, blew a puff of smoke in its face, let it drop to the desk, and smashed the fuck out of it.

I used to carefully capture spiders and set them free outside the front door; they aren't inherently bad creatures, and they actually do quite a bit of good. This time, however, the spider was quite huge (half-dollar-sized, bigger than your typical household variety) and, I think, had been trying to land on my head. It was an impulse, and I don't feel too great about doing it, but such is the way of life.

The odd thing is, I cannot find the dead spider anywhere. I wanted to look at it, since I've never really seen a spider that large up close, but its lifeless body is nowhere to be seen. I now have two options to consider: 1) I didn't actually kill it, and it has crawled away to heal and plan its revenge for my callous act of paranoid self-preservation, or 2) there was no spider and it was all in my head. In all fairness, I suppose there could be more explanations...

*Björk "Alarm Call"

Albums of the day:
Pavement "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain"
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead "Source Tags & Codes"
Björk "Homogenic"

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Wait, there's more...

Limbaugh: Comments were about KU, not city

"During the Monday program, Limbaugh said Lawrence hated President Bush 'as much as they hate Bush anywhere in the country,' and called the town "liberal Lawrence, Kansas."

Tuesday, Limbaugh said on his program that he didn't mean the whole town. The transcript of his comments was posted Tuesday afternoon on his Web site under the title, 'El Rushbo Riles Lawrence, Kansas.'

'I thought I made it clear I was talking about the University of Kansas at Lawrence, which is a typical liberal university,' Limbaugh said. 'I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear. I'll make it clear now.'

He added later: 'I thought I was talking about the university, not the whole city of Lawrence.'"

So it's the University of Kansas that Missourians drive through at night because there's nothing to see? And when he said "liberal Lawrence, Kansas" he thought, and assumed his listeners thought, that he was talking about KU? It's just a little amusing that the media juggernaut that is Lawrence's own Channel 6 (which features 18 hours each day of "Tower Cam") brought Rush to his knees.

And I have an apology, too; when I said last year that "The Matrix Reloaded" was a stinking pile of shit, I thought I was clear in that I simply felt Keanu Reeves' performace was less than good. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

And we also have more on the most depressing story of the year...

City orders 2 uninhabitable trailers at park removed

"Ed Gulley, an Ottawa resident who said he had been hired by Jacoby to maintain the park, said he was routinely told to put off repairs.

'I had to rob Peter to pay Paul,' Gulley said. 'You can only do that for so long. I did the best I could, but there's only so much you can do.'

Gulley said he wasn't paid for his work. Instead, he was allowed to live rent-free in a trailer park that Beal owns in Ottawa.

'I tried to come over here in the mornings,' he said.

Gulley said he quit late Monday.

'They ought to bulldoze this place and start over,' he said. 'People shouldn't have to live in these conditions. It's not right.'"

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Limbaugh chastises Lawrence, Edwards

"'I got to tell you about liberal Lawrence, Kansas,' Limbaugh, the conservative radio commentator -- and native Missourian -- said during a segment of his show. 'They hate Bush there as much as they hate Bush anywhere in the country, and they desperately want to love Kerry.'...

'The one thing that people in Missouri know, if you're going to be traveling west and you're driving, you're on the ground, the one thing people in Missouri know is you go through Kansas at night because there's nothing to see there anyway,' Limbaugh said.

In Lawrence, Limbaugh added, Kansas University students and professors date each other."

Is this what passes for political commentary these days?

Trailer tenants face choice: Stay silent or be homeless

"Fed up, Walkup called City Hall on Monday.

'I wanted them to make the landlord fix things out here,' she said.

But when a zoning enforcement officer inspected her unit in the mobile home park at 827 Walnut St. in North Lawrence, he declared the property uninhabitable. Walkup was given 24 hours to move out.

'I have no money for another place,' she said, fighting back tears. 'I have some friends who have a tent, so I guess I can camp out at the lake. I don't know what else to do.'...

'If they came to my place, I'm sure they'd condemn it, too,' said Bobbie Brown Jr., an unemployed custodian whose unit sits across the driveway from Walkup's. 'It's not suitable. But I've got six kids, no money and no place else to go. What am I supposed to do?'

Another tenant said she learned two weeks ago she had been living in a unit that had been condemned for several months.

'They need to shut this place down,' said the woman, a single mother with three children. 'The fuse box in my place is in my kids' bedroom, and for two days there were sparks coming out of it. I called and called. It took three days for somebody to come out and fix it.'"

Landlords should hang.

It's time for a little social experiment.

Materials needed:
You, a book, other people.

Go to a place you frequent on a daily basis. Ideally, it will be your place of employment or, if you are a student, your school or an individual class. Carry your chosen book with you. Make it plainly visible if you are unable to read it. If you do have an opportunity to read, please do so. (If you are a student, make sure the book is not one required for any class.)

Make a note (mental or otherwise) of any and all interactions you have that relate to the book you are holding or reading.

The purely anecdotal findings of my many years of unofficial research:
1. Most people don't notice or don't care that I have a book. In fact, reading a book in public is one of the best ways to completely avoid interpersonal contact with other humans.
2. Of the people who initiate contact with me directly relating to the presence of the book:
a) A small proportion are sincerely interested in what I am reading. Sometimes a nice conversation occurs. On rare occasions I have made a new friend.
b) A somewhat larger number of people ask about the book ("Is it any good?") and, upon receiving an answer, pursue the subject no further by changing the topic of the conversation or simply walking away.
c) The majority of people ask me why--not what--I am reading, or why I am carrying a book. Upon hearing my answer, most inform me of their distaste for reading and their disbelief that anyone actually does it because they enjoy it.

Ongoing. I will say, however, that I prefer books to most people. Also, most people prefer to be perceived as unintelligent and will go far out of their way to be characterized as anything but "smart". They like to flaunt their "dumbness" so as to prevent their association among the "smart people".

If the book in question happens to be "After the Martian Apocalypse" by Mac Tonnies, people tend to scatter after learning what it is about. If it is "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien, people immediately start talking about the movies.

Broad conclusions/rant:
Americans deserve George W. Bush. He is the perfect leader for a country that revels in its stupidity, where being willfully dumb is considered a desirable character trait, and never reading a book is something of which to be proud.

I just started reading Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" tonight. I think I'm going to like it. A lot.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Nobody in 2004: The only real choice

I know one thing for certain: I will not vote for Bush, nor will I vote for Kerry. In all liklihood, I will abstain my vote on that part of the ballot. Bush is indeed horrible, but is Kerry really any better? To me, the "choice" is between the status quo or a slightly-less-Orwellian status quo. Under a Kerry administration, the US will still be destroying lives in Iraq (and who knows where else by then?), homosexuals will still be second-class citizens, government will still reflect the interests of the corporate elite, and most Americans will still continue to be fucked every day of their miserable lives. The only real difference between the two candidates is that one is proud of the blood dripping from his hands, while the other is an expert at scrubbing his hands sqeaky-clean after he gets them dirty. A vote for Nobody is better than one for either of two puppets.

I also have a more practical reason for choosing to not choose a president--my vote doesn't count for anything anyway. Neither does yours. As far as electing a president there are only fifty votes that count, and those votes are already largely decided upon. The "popular vote" for a president is an illusion. I choose not to participate.

Also, I live in Kansas, where a vote for anyone other than Bush is merely wishful thinking.