Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I see the comments are broken again. Dammit. On the one hand, sure, I know it's all free and I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, but really, this is annoying. People use those to tell me stuff sometimes, and now they can't. And even worse, my blog takes a long time to load while it looks for the Haloscan (comments provider) button, but I should try editing the template a bit to fix that before I complain about it. Still, though.

Maybe I should just switch over to Livejournal. It seems all my friends who have journals use that.
Well, I screwed up royally yesterday with some people at the Campus Times. There's been a couple problems I've been talking about with people lately and I sent out an e-mail about them, but my e-mail only made things worse and confused everyone and apparently misrepresented the views of pretty much everyone I mentioned.

I don't know. Earlier I started to write a long post explaining it and telling my side of it. But there's really not much to tell - I didn't think things through, showed bad communications skills, or made weird assumptions about how people relate, maybe all three - and now's not the time to tell it. This is a busy and stressful time of year, obviously. The half hour I've spent writing this is time I should have spent working on the assignment due tomorrow that I've barely started, or the half dozen things that were due weeks ago I haven't found time for.

And... well, a couple months ago a friend told me that I should only worry about things if I'm likely to feel mad, guilty or embarrassed about them in ten years. So I'm going to take his advice, in spirit if not to the letter of "ten years". If I get settled in at home over the summer and I still feel this is worth writing about, I'll do it then.

In conclusion, this I think this is the funniest thing I've seen online in months.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Call this whatever you want, but do not call it a "smear" campaign. That's just wrong.

Dear Dan:, a satire/humor site that is aimed at computer literate types (aka "geeks") holds an annual Geek Limerick contest. Santorum made an honorable mention.

By Seth Brown

The Internet is a great forum;
We can mock people when we abhor 'em.
And if you don't believe
What the web can achieve,
Then just Google our dear friend Santorum.

Sometimes I feel a bit guilty about the political stuff I post here. Partly because I want to think and vote along the issues, rather than just being a yes-man for one party or the other. And partly because I should try to be impartial as an editor of the Campus Times. But I think for one thing, it makes a serious difference that I realize the difference between an attempt at humor and an attempt at argument. I don't expect everyone to get my jokes, but realize they aren't my arguments (which I've made very few of here.) If you want to actually talk politics, let me know.

In my opinion, ad hominem attacks like that hilarious limerick about Santorum are okay as long as A: they aren't being made from a position of authority, and B: they aren't being mistaken for a real argument.

Or at least, that's my excuse.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

I was drunk from 10 a.m. or so until about 1 p.m. I may not have made it to that power hour with Audrey or ridden any rides, but did I hang out with a few friends and pig out on junk food. And I did all that without throwing up or doing anything dangerous, painful, or even stupid. Right now I'm getting ready for dinner with friends and planning on at least one if not two movies tonight.

All in all, I'm calling it a very successful D-Day.
It's D-Day!!!!!

Write a comment when you're drunk.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

God fucking dammit, I slept through my alarm. So much for getting work done before the session. Oh well, it only would have been one story critique anyways. Next time, work first, nap later.

Of course, it could be worse - as least I woke up on my own in time for everything else.
Happy fucking 4-20. The UR Libertarians are going to be selling brownies in 2 hours, and I really hope they are not "magic" brownies. I consider myself lucky I found a writer to go to the event, but even so, finding space for it will be practically impossible.

Do I have time for a nap? The evidence is that I need one, since I nodded off in class an hour ago. But I have a ton of work. Well, I guess I'll take a short one - an hour and a half or so - and try to get a short story critique done after it and before group therapy at 4:50. That should be doable, and it's better than nothing, and if I'm going to make it through a somewhat boring session all the way to a busy night, I'm going to need some sleep, I'm afraid.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Thunderstorms were predicted for yesterday, and they finally came today. I didn't mind at all, though - pouring rain was pretty refreshing when I was walking back from the gym. And by the way, I did 2.84 miles in 30 minutes on the treadmill. Not bad at all. Especially considering that except for a 5 minute cooldown at the end, my speed never dropped below 6.0 mph. Pretty damn good.

And by the time I had to go out again, the rain had stopped. All in all, spring has arrived, and it feels nice.

My self-defense seminar went well. I taught, we all had fun, and no one got hurt (except for me. What happened to my hand? I don't remember anything, but why's it sore?) Turnout was low, but that's probably my own fault. I check my e-mail several times a day. So I made the mistake of assuming that everyone else would too, so I didn't send out the invitational e-mail until pretty late. But the four people who actually came had fun and learned stuff, I think.

I'm a very pessimistic person, or maybe very cynical. A "glass half empty" kind of guy, one way or the other. But the thing it's all too easy to forget is that there's no difference in the glass. Half full or half empty, it has the same amount of beer in it. And the same is true of pessimism versus optimism. Ebenezer Scrooge - not a perfect example of this, but a perfect example of a similar, related problem - was rich in every way. And plenty of people with hope of Heaven - how much more optimistic can you get than that? - lead lives of poverty or desperation that would drive other people nuts. Whatever determines your attitude, it's not money or friends.

So if it's not environmental, why is it that some people are pessimistic and others are optimistic? Does it "just happen"? Well, that doesn't get us anywhere. Is it genetic or biological? In some cases, sure, but it can't be true of all cases. Is it something you learn? Maybe, but in my case I was the most optimistic at what, looking back, were some of the worst times in my life. So I sure didn't learn it from experience. Then... is it a choice?

But why would anyone choose that? How do you un-choose it? Does it just take more force of will than I've used in the past? Will it pass in time naturally?

Oh well. Anyways, I've got a ton of work to do today. Damn procrastination. It's doable, but... The choices are working hard tonight, working myself to the bone Wednesday, or probably failing a class in two weeks. It's an unpleasant choice, but it's an easy one.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Misys gives Pecker head job. And it only gets better in the first paragraph of the article, too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

"9-11 changed everything" is a sentiment I've heard expressed many times over the past few months, maybe even years. But I've never understood it. I mean, what did 9-11 really change? The international balance of power? No, we're still on top. Our reputation? No, we're still seen as imperials by some and the promised land by others, and the former imperial powers are still jealous of us. Our economy? No, it wasn't the only cause of the recession. Internal politics? No, we still have the Evil Party and the Stupid Party, no changes there.

But I was reading this transcript of Bush's press conference a couple days ago. I'm sorry this isn't a very convenient format for to show what I'm talking about, but I don't have the time right now to find some better way that's still a transcript rather than a critique or a rebuttal. And it finally made clear to me how 9-11 changed everything. I think Bush is taking a question from a guy named "Jim". This is the question:

"You have been accused of letting the 9/11 threat mature too far, but not letting the Iraq threat mature far enough. First, could you respond to that general criticism? And, secondly, in the wake of these two conflicts, what is the appropriate threat level to justify action in perhaps other situations going forward?"

Several paragraphs into his answer, he says something that made it all clear to me.

"After 9/11, the world changed for me, and I think changed for the country. It changed for me because, like many, we assumed oceans would protect us from harm, and that's not the case, it's not the reality of the 21st century. Oceans don't protect us. They don't protect us from killers."

So, that's the mystery solved. 9-11 changed everything... for the people who believed that our country's primary defense was oceans and other geographical barriers. If you believed that a lack of boats meant we were secure from everyone who didn't like us, 9-11 changed everything for you. If you thought the National Missile Defense program (a.k.a. Son of Star Wars) was a good idea, 9-11 must have completely upended your views on international relations. If you thought dictators like Milosevic or the Taliban weren't worth worrying about because they're over there and we're over here, 9-11 was a shocking and breathtaking revelation.

Personally, I found the press conference uninspiring.

Monday, April 12, 2004

I need to stop kicking my ass when I work out. What almost always happens is I set the treadmill timer for 20 minutes, I turn the thing on to 6.5 miles per hour, and then I'm so out of breath and in pain that there's still at least 5 minutes left when I have to start cooling down. If I were smart I'd find a speed I could sustain and then sit there for 20 minutes - or even 30 or something.

Maintaining that heart rate is so much more important than winning some imaginary race. It's just that for a week or so - at the end of the only month in my life when I had the time, energy, and inclination to work out almost daily - I could do 2.5 miles in 25 minutes, and ever since then that's been the standard I try to meet. Except, of course, I haven't managed it in a month. But from now on... I'm going to be smart and work on maintaining a heart rate instead of trying to meet some standard that's clearly outside my capabilities at the moment.

And now, I need to go work my ass off in a more figurative sense. I've got two homework assignments due tomorrow that I absolutely need to get a good grade on. Shit.
My computer hadn't been working well for some reason. Every so often I'd start it up and there would be a series of beeps and it would sound like the processor was working, but the monitor would never show anything. Either they weren't connected right, or the processor sounded like it was working but wasn't normally. So far I would just hit the force reset button when I heard those beeps and it would work on the second try, or at worst I'd just leave it and it would work 5 minutes later.

But this morning it wouldn't start at all no matter how many times I hit reset, so I had to get into it. And I finally got the computer working again. It seems the problem was simply caused by the 3D accelerator card somehow. I took it out. I can’t really play Warcraft at the moment, until I get it replaced or fixed — and in fact, that’s probably actually a good thing.

At the CT meeting tonight, Brian was so convincing and earnest about the changes he has planned for his section that I decided not to move to impeach him after all. Besides, if he gets his way we’ll only have to put up with him for two more weeks anyway.

I didn’t get much “work” work done today, but on the other hand I wrote several e-mails and signed up for the remainder of my classes (assuming I’m going for a poli-sci major, passing Game Theory this year, and not starting Spanish until my 5th year if at all.) So in other words, I’ve made plans, but they are subject to change. So, all that counts as productive. I think.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I sat in class, and then I walked back and sat in front of this computer goofing off, and then I sat in the CT office and worked or at least tried to work or worked on the less important stuff, and then a few minutes standing while I got dinner - followed by an hour and a half of sitting while I watched Batman Forever in the Hive, followed by more work until like 11, and I'm sitting now. My ass hurts.

Monday, April 05, 2004

A note I saw under the seat of a bus a few weeks back:

"Will you trust me to raise up the good things in you that have died?"

Very interesting.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

It's April 4th, dammit. There's not supposed to be snow on the ground.

Well, I need to get some work done. So I'm leaving here for a while. You know me around this computer - damn Warcraft and
A week or so ago I went on a rant which began with something like, "People are stupid about the First Amendment". I got one question about it, and no doubt Rebekkah wasn't the only person confused by a rant with no context or apparent cause. So here's the story.

At the college journalism conference I went to over Spring Break, one of the talks I went to was about ethics in journalism. Its format was that four college journalism professors or professional editors or writers talked about situations they had been in, and the audience discussed what they would have done, and then (if the situation was over with), we found out what the experienced professionals had done. Well, one person who talked was (I think) Rolando Larraz, the publisher of the Las Vegas Tribune.

He talked about this one story about the end of a controversial trial. Some rich person, a casino owner or something, had been sued for something or other. Well, after the trial was over, the judge of the case was seen and photographed at a book signing by the defendant (or whatever their relation was. The rich guy.) The judge and the defendant were friends. Clear conflict of interest and all sorts of other illegal and/or unethical terms. Possibly even bribery. So the question Rolando posed was, should he publish a story about it?

And no one had a good answer. People talked about a "constitutional duty" to inform the public and they reassured Rolando that it really was newsworthy and they just didn't understand the question. I let 6 or 8 people talk, never hearing a relevant comment, before I finally raised my hand and said, "You might not want to publish a story that makes a powerful public figure look bad. They might not like it." And so when the discussion was over, we found out that Rolando did publish the story. And he lost %40 of his advertising because of it.

Yes, it sucks that that happened. The judge should - at the very least - lose his seat for complicity and allowing a conflict of interest to stand, and the trial should be declared a mistrial, I think, from the very little I know of the case. And it sucks that so many advertisers in LV were in bed with or in thrall to people like that. But the thing that drove me nuts was that no one got it. I mean, these are college-educated people who've made a hobby and maybe even eventually a career of this stuff. At least six or so of them spoke up before me, and I assume many others agreed with them or they would have been talking as well, and none of them could figure out why you might not want to print something that makes a judge and a multi-millionaire look bad. Especially not something that makes them look bad and yet isn't urgent enough to provide a smoking gun.

What naïveté! What stupidity! What willful ignorance and inability to deal with the real world!

So anyways, that's what I was talking about a couple weeks ago.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Bring me the head of Nancy Speck!

Yesterday, in addition to the normal paper, we also had 3 pages in the April Fools' issue. And probably worst of all, there were three major stories that in one way or another we didn't find out about until Tuesday night or later. We knew Sigma Alpha Mu was in danger of losing its house, but the decision wasn't announced until Wednesday morning. We knew in general terms that some professors had written a letter protesting the College Republicans' bake sale, but no more than that. And finally, worst of all, (if only because there's no excuse for it but laziness or incompetence on someone's part), the SA Presidential debates were scheduled for Wednesday night - and announced Tuesday afternoon.

So yesterday's work at the paper was hard, but considering all the obstacles I should be extremely glad it was no harder than it was.

The issue looks great, though. No - issueS. Both the real one and the April Fools' one. So far only a couple mistakes have come to my attention, and they look very minor, and only one of them is even in my section. (Of course, the papers have only been out for like 6 hours, but still.) And don't forget the content. Three important stories, very well written (despite being too heavily edited) even though they were all thrown together at the last minute, and they don't even have errors big enough for someone to be yelling at me yet. Both Nick and Alissa did great jobs (and/or were really lucky: I'm amazed SAM leaders were willing to talk to us on the record.)

I'm doing something good. And I'm doing it well.

Well, I'm never one to complain when I get invited to go out (even though I have no clue where) with some fun girls, so it looks like bed will have to be postponed another few minutes more.