Monday, November 29, 2004

I think this story about a spam-blocking screensaver is very interesting, but it has more implications than are immediately apparent.

On the one hand - cool. A way to fight back. I've been forced to change e-mail addresses before because my old one got so much spam that if I didn't check it for a week, messages would bounce because spam was taking up all the space. With my new address, I've done everything I can to be more careful about which Web sites I give it out to. I'm definitely going to download this thing. And more generally, it's pretty nice to see a problem getting solved in a free-market way. One of those "triumph of human ingenuity" things.

But on the other hand, it looks to me like this (along with many other innovations, like file-sharing) takes the rules of cyberspace in a very different direction from the rules of the real world. Protecting yourself, individual property rights, all that is perfectly fine - but this seems to be going way past the line. This screensaver doesn't just block spam, it attacks the people who are sending it - and in a way that could potentially put the burden on an innocent third party, their ISP. I mean, think about it in real world terms. How is this different from avoiding junk mail by slashing the tires of the mailman's car? Or avoiding telemarketers by cutting their phone lines? It's so much easier, of course, because spammers are pests, sleazy smut-peddlers, con artists, big faceless corporations, or all of those at once. But does that change the ethics and implications of this? Hell, put it another way - what if a spammer company wrote a computer virus that deleted spam-filtering software?

(Let me repeat the cop-out that I am no expert, that for the past five years I haven't paid any more attention to technology than the average English major, that I haven't tried using this yet. Basically, that I might not have a clue what I'm talking about.)

I think my childrens' definitions of "privacy" and "property" will be completely and totally different from my parents'. Because the current "real world" standards of those values are either impossibly high or are ridiculously easy to ignore in cyberspace. Is this good? Is it inevitable, or could it be reversed by consumer demand or governmental fiat or individual awareness? How much has already changed without most people having any idea about it? What else is changed by the fact that so much of our lives now takes place in a setting that is not literally a "place"?
Weekend update: good times. Except of course for putting Felicia down. I was crying my eyes out in the vet's office, but it was pretty much inevitable. Arthritis, incontinence, glaucoma, deafness - she was just too old. She was a good dog, and I don't mean that in the impersonal, "fill in name here" sense. I've come to like our pug Fiji, but when she dies I'll probably be calling her fun, funny, cute - but not a good dog. But Felicia was. She wouldn't hurt a fly, yet she'd always be so eager to say hello to every new person or dog she saw that it was a real effort to hold her back on walks. We'd sometimes call her "the Nose" because when she wanted attention, she wouldn't bark or scratch or anything, she'd just stick her nose in front of you or rub up against you until you scratched her head. At our old house (where we let her outside a lot more, because she wasn't deaf yet and there were fewer neighbors to care if she ran off anyways) she'd always be so bouncy and perky, it was like an 8-year-old puppy.

Well, anyways... Thursday was a simple Thanksgiving dinner with the family. Turkey and stuff. Friday I went over to Gretchen's. We got dinner and went to see "The Incredibles". I had heard mostly good things about it, so, being a comic book geek, I just had to go. And I liked it. I think my favorite scene is near the end, when


the family is at Dash's track meet, and they're cheering him on, but yelling for him to slow down so he doesn't win by too much and give away his powers. "Faster, Dash, faster! You can do it! Wait, slow down, let them get ahead again! Okay, now faster!" What they were saying, the expressions of the people sitting around them... hilarious.


Saturday I went up to Burlington to pick up Jo and give her a ride home, since she had spent the night there with friends but didn't have a car. I also did a little Christmas shopping up in Burlington. We hung out at her house for a bit with Kendra, Paul, and his boyfriend Eric. Was Eric his name? Oh well, if not, it would hardly be the only thing I've forgotten. We watched Shrek 2, which Jo had just bought, and she showed me the progress on the mural she was hired to paint at a nearby bar.

And Sunday I had another excellent ride back. Despite starting a little late and bad traffic, it was still about four hours quicker than the bus would have been, and a whole lot roomier and with better company.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

We just put Felicia down.
Damn, I wish I'd had a friend to come back with every year. I've learned to put up with the bus, but this was so much better. Only five and a half hours, a roomy seat, only one stop, only chipping in gas money instead of buying a bus ticket...

My sister is now a freshman at Northeastern. So my mom and dad are living alone together for months at a time for the first time since I was born. So when my mom picked me up and we were driving home, I asked her how they were handling empty nest syndrome. Hah. When I got back I found a plastic gate at the top of the stairs, the kind that adults can easily open or step over but babies can't get by. Apparently it's their latest attempt at solving the incontinence problem a cat (or cats) has. I guess a litter box in the hall upstairs wasn't doing it. And they've come up with a complicated system involving a rubber band and a paint can to ensure that the cats can get to the cellar, where the litter box is, but Fiji the pug can't. "Empty nest" my ass.

On a sadder note, it looks like our poodle Felicia is failing fast pretty suddenly. She's 14, I think, and it's just a bunch of stuff adding up. Arthritis or something in her back legs, glaucoma, lots more... my parents say she might have to be put down this week.

Last night Katye and I were pretty much the only people left on the hall, so we hung out. I played Magic with her a few times. She won both games. I usually cut her a little slack because I've played a lot more than her and because they're my decks. Nothing big; just, in one game when I had two or three creatures out before she had any, I was only attacking with one and saving the other, even though I didn't really need to.

Come to think of it, that's how I lose a lot of games of strategy. Magic, Warcraft III, Starcraft... I'll almost never go for the quick and easy kill, waiting instead until I can launch some fancy or just big offensive. It just seems more fun that way, I guess. The Warcraft III analogy seems best - why would you ever send footmen to kill your opponent's peons, for example, when you could send knights and griffons to kill your opponent's wolf-riding orcs and shamen? Of course, the problem with that is that if you don't do the first, you usually don't get the chance to do the second. Oh well... it just looks so damn cool!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Turkey Party was fun. I was badgered into entering the contest. At first I wasn't going to do it, because I figured it would be much better to do nothing at all than to do something pitiful, half-assed, and clearly either for the prize or because I was talked into it. But when I finally thought of a theme that would be interesting and doable on short notice, I got into it. So, I was a Zombie Turkey. I took the construction paper beak and tail everyone uses, and added to it a gaping throat wound I bought for Halloween, some fake blood and a ripped shirt. I thought it went pretty damn well. For my song, I sang along to Alice Cooper's "Feed My Frankenstein", doing my best to add turkey-themed lyrics: "Feed my butterball! Hungry for stuffing, and it's dinnertime!" And so on.

And in the end, I won the prize - a bottle of Wild Turkey.

The party was fun. It wasn't wild by any standard, but there were quite a few more people than last year (I think) and we had fun. Card games, dancing (mostly to "The Time Warp"), and a lot of drinks. But I was sorry to disappoint Seth and some other people - I only had four. They were deprived of seeing me drunk, which I'm told can be quite a show.

The end of the year is creeping up on us. The next issue of the CT is the last one this semester, elections are coming up, and I'm forced to realize that I let myself get too far behind in one class. Not that it's a hard class, just that it has that combination of ease and self-direction which makes it incredibly easy to put stuff off or lose track. Frex, I could have done this one assignment in all of an hour, but I never, ever get reminders of it, so short of tacking the syllabus up by my computer I'd forget about it until too late. But then, it's not like this class matters at all.

I was planning on coming home for Thanksgiving today like usual, but plans changed: I know this girl, Laura, who's from Vermont, and this friend of hers is also from VT and is driving back. So I saved some money and some time on the road and I'm leaving with them early tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Also, there was an interesting moment in Business Ethics class today. We'd read a case study of a whistleblower who talked to the media about something probably-immoral-but-maybe-not-illegal that his employer did, and they fired him for blowing the whistle. One member of the group making the presentation on it said that they company was morally justified in firing him because he (and the bad press he created) was now costing the company more money than they paid him, so they had every moral right to fire him.

Something about that argument seemed wrong somehow, but I couldn't articulate it very well. I rambled vaguely about responbilities and obligations to employees and stuff for a bit. But when the guy sitting next to me tied it in to worker's compensation, it all became clear to me. That guy said that compensation for a worker injured on the job was one case when an employer should not fire someone even though he's not paying his own way at the moment. So the presenter said there's an exception for worker's compensation because it is mandated by contracts.

And that's bullshit. There's a legal obligation to provide worker's comp for people injured on the job, but there's also a moral obligation. It's one of the most basic ones there is. You break it, you buy it; you make a mess, you clean it up; you hurt someone, you try to make it better. That doesn't apply to every case when someone is injured on the job, of course, maybe not even the majority, but it still needs to be considered. And this situation is similar. Firing him was unethical because this whistleblower had a choice between violating the law and/or his conscience (injury in a non-physical sense of the term, you might say), and losing the job he relies on, and it is unethical to put someone in that position.

So when I said all that, how did the presenter respond? He said that worker's compensation shouldn't be required by law. To me, that looks like he's saying it's not a moral imperative overall, that "cleaning up your own messes" is optional.

I realize I'm casually summarizing something from memory of when everyone was speaking on the spur of the moment, and it was happening as the class was running out of time, but still - the impression seemed to me like an insight into economic libertarianism. People should be free. People should be free to ignore any moral principles, even the most basic and universal. You don't have a committment to anyone else unless they have it in writing. The government has no business interfering with people getting screwed over. And most of all, first and foremost... "Look out for number one" and "Gimme" are as acceptable as any other belief system in this modern pluralistic society of ours.
Jesus, Wednesday night sucked. Printer problems. Too little content: this week it was caused by my not being organized (as always) and by an important article being given away to another section that needed it more. And there were controversies. An editorial which almost but not quite everyone recognized as satire at first glance. (More about that later.) And a comic strip which was making fun of people with anorexia (or was it bulimia?) which didn't get run--and the "censorship" of that pissed Ben off so much that he resigned as editor. We finally got out of there around 8:20 a.m. And just to add that special something, I decided to work on a couple assignments between then and class, so I skipped sleeping. Naturally, I was in bed by 6:30 Thursday night, and even that was pushing it.

Today's gone pretty well, though. I did 2.34 miles in 25 minutes on a treadmill at the gym. I know compared to some people it's not great, but I think that's the best I've done since January. I watched some TV, went to class and walked to the comic book store and CVS. Then not long after I got back from that, Eric knocked on my door (pounded as if he was trying to wake up Kenny) and invited me to go bowling with him, Katye, Katrina, Mike, Pam, Lindsay, and Shelley. So I said yes, it sounded like fun. I started off strong but got progressively worse. But oh well, who cares - I only really get competitive around my family, for some strange reason.

After that we went to Jay's Diner for dinner. Good stuff.

Ben Heaton wrote an Editorial Observer. On its surface it was complaining about interracial marriage, but it was meant to be a clear satire of the arguments against gay marriage. How? I mean, after all, it's never explicitly stated, right? Well, I'm looking at it now, and here are some reasons:
  1. The title "Marriage debate not new one" ties it into the marriage debate going on right now in this country.
  2. The first two paragraphs (all right, except for the last six words of them) never say a word about interracial marriage. But they are framed in the language of the contemporary debate: using the phrases "activist judges" and "religious and cultural values," referring to a constitutional amendment, and even taking an example from a TV show of this century. I did exactly the same thing in my editorial a few weeks ago - talked about something in vague but leading terms before (in Ben's case, supposedly) switching to the opposite topic.
  3. Of the six premises Ben presents "for" an amendment banning interracial marriage, five of them are taken directly from the gay marriage debate and have little or nothing to do with the decades-old interracial marriage debate. The best of these, because it's so completely ridiculous that you'd have to be fucking batshit crazy to actually believe in it, is the nature comparison: "Biologically speaking, interracial coupling is unnatural. It does not occur in other species - you will never see a black Labrador and a German shepherd having sex, for instance." But even besides that one, his article is almost entirely a bunch of gay marriage criticisms word for word with the word "gay" replaced with "interracial."
  4. It refers positively to Plessy vs. Ferguson, which is famous for being one of the handful of Supreme Court cases that have now been repudiated.
  5. You know that joke, "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve?" It's more casual and flip than many, but it's just one reason out of hundreds given for why homosexuality is wrong and/or unnatural. I've heard or seen it dozens of times, and I'll bet most Americans have seen it at least once. Well, the last line of Ben's editorial is, "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and some black woman."
  6. How the bloody fuck could anyone imagine that Ben Heaton, only published before now for making fun of a rich authority figure, in 2004, at the University of Rochester, would write anything at all actually opposed to interracial marriage?
And yet despite all that, I've heard two groups talking about it just randomly, around campus, as I was sitting in CLARC. (Which I think is a first for a CT article.) And both groups were convinced he really was attacking interracial marriage until I corrected them. I realize two is a small sample, but since Chad's e-mail saying we'd have to talk about it at the weekly meeting, I feel that's a conclusion we can jump to.

I don't know a lot about H.L. Mencken (apparently he was some kind of elitist/racist?), but he was an author so cynical that he made me look like Smoochy the Rhino. A quote of his comes to mind: "No one in this world, so far as I know...has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people." All of us except for Michael He were sure that people would get the message, but it seems that Michael was right. Well, next time I'll be sure to give people less credit for intelligence.

Monday, November 15, 2004

I've become pessimistic about next semester. I still don't know if my Take Five application will be accepted, and I won't find out until December 1. But in registering for my classes, (which I did late since I thought it wouldn't matter; I already had the instructor's permission for what I thought would be my only selective class), I found that what was offered next semester was very different from what I wanted. I don't know how it happened; I thought I put together my application using the most current info available. So the Take Five Review Board is probably going to see my application and say, "Wait a minute, this is impossible, this program just won't work." This is a hell of a way to finally learn a lesson about putting stuff off. I used to worry about procrastination but I reassured myself that it didn't matter as long as I got the work done in the end. But some papers handed in at the last second and some bad CT weeks have already made it impossible for me to make that claim any more. Missing Take Five on top of that would really suck. I could always reapply next spring, but I don't want to sign up for classes on the assumption that I'll get in and then not make it, which would screw up whatever plans I make for my degree.

But just to show that things could be worse - it didn't take me long to find the positive side of this. If I don't get accepted, then the very difficult question of what to do over the next few months/year is already made: finish school in May and move on. And who cares what classes I take next semester. Since nothing else would be going on, I could manage any of the realistic possibilities. But if I do get accepted, then I'll face some tough choices and soul-searching: run for editor-in-chief? Finish the poli-sci major? Live off-campus for the first time to avoid paying for on-campus housing? Bring a car to campus so I can finally enjoy some degree of independence, Do all of those or some combination, thereby increasing my workload and responsibilities a ton?

I'm reminded of something Katye said a few days ago, for basically the same reason of avoiding a tough choice: "I want to get into exactly one grad school. No more!"

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Last night: Kenny's birthday party (happy birthday again, K-Dog!), followed by a Beirut tournament with some CT people, followed by extreme drunkenness - holy shit, but that punch was strong. It just tasted a little more tangy than perfectly normal fruit juice, but all I had was two cups of that and two beers and I was incoherent for the rest of the night. For some reason, I was speaking in an Australian accent to Sandeep at the CT party. I mean, Australians have a reputation for being party animals, so anyone who's drunk must act Australian, right? Well, it made sense at the time.

Today, 8 p.m.: Doing great, except of course for no small amount of work hanging over my head. Other than that, fine.

Today, 10 p.m.: I'm the lowest of the low - I can't believe what I did while drunk last night. And I see a choice from a few weeks ago in a new light, and it looks pretty disgusting. Did I really think so little of a friend of mine that I thought she'd easily cheat on a serious, deep, long-term relationship just because I made an advance? What's wrong with me? I'm a terrible person. I don't deserve my friends, but that's okay because at this rate I won't have them any more.

Today, now: Wait a second, I was completely inarticulate due to the massive amount of alcohol in my system, but what I actually did last night wasn't meant the way it was taken at all. It may have sounded extremely sexist, but in fact I was actually trying to confess to having done something slightly sexist. Not bragging but admitting. So either alcohol not just nullified but actually reversed my emotions on that subject... or that was my weekly episode of Bad Communication Skills. And what I did a few weeks ago - maybe it would have been as bad as some people thought, except that I said that very minute that I didn't expect her to respond well to my making a move.

Heh. Embarrassing, sure, but disgusting and terrible? Again, too self-critical, I think.

Thanks for talking me through this, G. Sounds like I needed it.

Friday, November 12, 2004

I had such ambitious plans of getting to the gym first thing this morning... wasted. I put it off for a bit, and then a friend IMed me, and then I only had so much time before I would have to get to class... Sigh. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Wow, last night was pretty damn good.

Over the past week, I put everything off, in some cases past what would prove to be the "last minute," so it never got done. By Wedneday at 7:15 p.m. the news section was faced with 2 or 3 missing stories, a bigger section than usual, one story that was shaping up to be very crappy (mine), and a larger paper in general, which meant everyone else had more to do so we were competing with each other for the same printer time.

So no one was more surprised than me that by 7:15 a.m. Thursday... I'm here. In my room. We're done. Due to a combination of judicious use of graphics, hard work, accepting my sucky story and a puff piece partially to fill space, and the fact that other sections were doing well themselves, the night went great.

Also, there are two letters to the editor about my editorial last week. Both complaining. I suppose I should have taken Chad's advice and at least tried to clarify one point about it, but... well, suffice it to say, neither letter has exactly persuaded me to rethink the basic position of my editorial.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Some things that happened yesterday:

I had read or heard in some class somewhere that in Renaissance England, it was fashionable in some situations for womens' dresses to have necklines that went lower than the nipples. The idea was to show that their breasts didn't have stretch marks, which meant they had never nursed a baby, which in turn meant that they were either virgins or were rich enough to afford wet-nurses. Well, yesterday in my Renaissance poetry class, the teacher mentioned that Queen Elizabeth practiced that habit - well into her seventies.

At dinner with Seth and Katye, the discussion somehow turned to Speedos. Now, while I was in France I went to this pool with a host family once, but for some reason that place didn't allow normal swimming trunks. So I bought a Speedo just for that afternoon, and I haven't used it since. So I said, "I had a Speedo once, but I gave it away to my dad." (Who swims to stay in shape.)

There. You may now proceed to scrub your eyes with steel wool. :)
Wow. So simple, yet so true.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

I just saw something scary online. Following the directions I saw in a blog, I went to Google images and searched for "Lynndie England". For those who don't know, she's one of the more infamous soldiers involved in the Abu Ghraib scandal. If you've seen a picture of a dozen or so people piled in a pyramid of naked bodies, do you remember a woman standing in front of them throwing a thumbs up to the camera? That was her. Well, I searched for her on Google images. You know what I found? Nothing.

Same for her fiancé (or husband now?) and accomplice Charles Graner - only one picture comes up and it has nothing to do with the worldwide news story he was an integral part of. Hell, even search for "abu ghraib" and you'll find about a hundred pictures, and yeah some will be gruesome, but not one will be any of the pictures of torture. The guy in a hood standing on a box with electrical wires on him, the pile of naked people, of people being threatened with dogs, of people simulating sex acts - none of it is indexed by Google.

This is censorship. And I guess it's premature to call it scary like I did, but it is definitely sad. We don't know yet why this was done - a general desire to be less offensive, a lawsuit or threatened lawsuit by some "decency" group, a decision by Google owners to promote a political agenda, pressure from the administration - or what. But whichever of those reasons it is or something else entirely, information relevant to politics is being made harder to find, and it's being done covertly. We are only a few steps along this road, but it's not a road we should be on at all.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Holy Shit - we're out. Now that, my friends, is called living the dream.

I'd say there were two reasons for it. Well, maybe three. First of all, we had relatively little to do since we only had 5 pages and they were relatively ad-heavy. Secondly, Sandeep and I (to our shame) found out about some important stories on Monday or Tuesday but put them off until next week due to a lack of time and/or writers. So there were few last-minute stories, but if we had set our sights on high quality there would have been more.

And as I was writing this it occurred to me that there might be a third reason - almost everyone was depressed by the election results. So though more people were watching TV or arguing with Chad and Emily (our editor-in-chief and his fiancé are the only two right-wingers in the office), few were enjoying themselves, fooling around, or whatever. For my part, I know that every time I was walking to or from the office to get quotes or write something in CLARC I had my iPod on and was listening to Rage Against the Machine. And/or Eminem's "Mosh".

Anyways - it will be very nice to get a full four hours of sleep or maybe even more tonight.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Once in a while - not often, since I and almost all my friends are solidly on the left, but once in a while - someone's comments have made me feel that I'm too far to the left, that I've been listening to an echo chamber too much, that I should give the other side the benefit of the doubt.

This is why I can't do that. Because as far as I can tell, about 80 to 90 percent of Bush supporters think like this shitstain. From the "We’ve won. Winning means not having to say you’re sorry," to the "If anyone needs to work to 'bring the country together' it’s those on the left who have divided it so badly," to the "My life’s goal is to see the Democratic Party virtually obliterated and left as a rump of people like Stephanie Herseth who both mostly agree with us anyways and are easy on the eyes," to the final "Those who didn’t support Bush can go and perform a certain anatomically impossible act. They lost, now they can sit in the back of the bus."

Winning is more important than doing the right thing. Blaming everything that ever has gone wrong in the world on some bogeyman called "the left". Racism, sexism and simply assholery masquerading as the real egalitarianism. Cooperation and diplomacy only being used because they can't get away with violence. And either people like that make up the vast majority of the right, or the compassionate conservative majority is too apathetic or ignorant to stop these un-American fascists from representing them.

This isn't anywhere near an exact quote, but I believe my senator Jim Jeffords said something like this when he left the Republican party: "I didn't move left from the Republican party. They slid right out from under me." If a lot more Republicans don't make the same choice over the next four years, then this country is fucked. Plain and simple.
For what seems like the first time in my life, I've been accused of being too optimistic.

But Kerry could still pull it through. Bush has a margin of about 140,000 votes in Ohio - but there are still about 250,000 absentee and provisional ballots uncounted. And due to massive unjustified voter challenges (here and elsewhere on atrios), I feel safe in assuming that the provisional ballots will lean heavily Democratic. Will they lean Democratic heavily enough? Well, that's the question, isn't it. But I'm not giving up hope for Kerry yet. And if he does win... damn, that might be the deathblow of the electoral college, and I'd call that nothing but good news. For the second time in a row the electoral college would have picked the candidate who lost the popular vote, and this time Kerry lost the popular vote by an even greater margin than Bush did in 2000. Now that both sides have been hurt by it, maybe there will be serious attempts to get rid of the electoral college.

However, even though Kerry still has a chance, I'm not optimistic about the direction of our country in general. And it's not just the obvious fact that judging by the popular vote, most of the country prefers one of the most incompetent presidents ever to an actual American hero. I don't know why, but judging how dozens of votes went across the country, there is something seriously wrong.

Randy Kuhl won the House seat for New York's 29th district because when his opponent Samantha Barend showed that he threatened to shoot his ex-wife, it was seen as dirty politics and created a backlash against her.

In Kentucky, incumbent Jim Bunning won re-election, despite the fact that he is suffering from some sort of dementia.

Lisa Murkowski got her Senate seat in Alaska in 2002 because the governor appointed her - Governor Frank Murkowski. Her father. And yesterday, she got to keep that seat.

Of course, there are amendments forbidding gay marriage and civil unions passed in a dozen or so states.

And then there's all the stuff I've talked about before - studies proving that Bush supporters are less well-informed than Kerry supporters and that Fox viewers are less well-informed than people who get their news from NPR or PBS, and stories showing that I can't believe character is an issue at all and that some of Bush's followers show cult-like devotion.

If Kerry does win Ohio, then he will face a House and Senate both controlled by a Republican Party (by an even larger margin than before) which will be absolutely enraged by Kerry winning in only the electoral college (even though that's how Bush won in 2000). If Kerry had won in a landslide the genuine conservatives in the Republican Party might have waked up and taken it back from the theocrats and Big Business shills, but now they'll all stay united. He would also have inherited a war on terror in which we just gave our enemy a huge recruitment boost, a seperate War on Iraq which is - dare I say it - a quagmire, and the largest budget deficit in history. There's no doubt in my mind that Kerry would be better for the country than Bush, but in the face of all those obstacles, would he be good enough?

And if Kerry doesn't win Ohio, then all those trends will mushroom. With the addition of between one and three more Antonin Scalias. I'm sorry to be optimistic about the country's future at the start of this post and do a 180 by the end, but I have to wonder, what will this country look like by the time I'm 30? What could possibly reverse or even just halt all these patterns?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Holy shit - this article explaining structured procrastination might change my life.

And ordinarily it's so unorthodox that I might dismiss what it says as a joke or for people with a problem different from mine, except for one thing - when I saw the article, I was practicing it without even realizing it.

After my 12:30-1:45 class, I went to print something out and give to a Take Five advisor, and also ask a question about the letters of recommendation at Lattimore 312. Getting it and stuff took longer than I expected, so I wound up missing my 2:00 class. I was a bit mad at myself about that, because it seems like I miss that class relatively often. But when I went to the advisor's office, I accidentally went up one floor too far, and I saw that "structured procrastination" article on a professor's door. And that's exactly what I was doing without even trying. The class, really, isn't that important - attendance isn't taken, homework is given out in e-mail, and there isn't a test today. By contrast, I was working on making happen what I want to do next year, and from there I went on to buy an ink cartridge so I wouldn't be mooching of the CT office any more.

And besides all that, the article is funny.
Hmmm... what to wear today?

"Republicans for Voldemort" t-shirt?

Black hoodie, in honor of Eminem's "Mosh" video?

Blue jeans and a blue shirt, as Kenny suggested, in honor of the color we want the map to look like?

Well, since my only black hoodie is back in Vermont, that's kind of ruled out. And if I go with blue on blue, then I'm definitely not spiking my hair - I'd look like Sonic the Hedgehog!

Monday, November 01, 2004

A final post-election post:

What a long, strange trip it’s been, to quote Jerry Garcia. This election… matters. In 2000, it really didn’t seem like that. It seemed like a choice between the cowboy and the tree trunk, both of whom were running as centrists, at a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity despite the best efforts of both sides (depending on who you ask). Before that—well, I’m only 22 so my knowledge is very limited, but in hindsight it seems like for most of the past 50 years either the choices faced by the president were very clear or the race was very lopsided. (And yes, I realize that I’m just advertising my ignorance here by making sweeping generalizations like this. Bite me. There’s no law against it.) But now, this time… it’s fucking weird.

The party that stood up for states’ rights for the past 40 years tried to amend the U.S. Constitution to include discrimination in it for the first time ever. The U.S.A. launched one of the only pre-emptive wars in its history - the Mexican-American War was a de facto pre-emptive war, if I remember my history correctly. Hey, wait a second, that's how we got Texas. Coincidence? Well, in a year where the Democratic candidate is a JFK from Massachussetts and the Red Sox won the World Series, I don't want to write anything off as coincidence.

Well, I've done enough pontificating about the election in general, so I'll turn it over to people more qualified than me. Andrew Sullivan explains some of the paradoxes in this race much better than I could.

I'm often annoyed by the College Republicans here, so it was a lot of fun reading about this College Republican Gone Wild. Every time some "reasonable" person tells me that both sides are equally bad or that the crimes are the result of a few bad apples rather than being connected in any way to a party's official leadership, I find something like this. (Follow-ups on that from the same blog here and here. And a ton more could be found elsewhere online.)

And finally, for those three of you out there who still don't think there's an appreciable difference between the candidates, here are two things to keep in mind: only one of them demands personal loyalty oaths, and only one has supporters who act like this.

Okay, that should do it for politics for a while. At least until the legal challenges to the elections begin. And eventually I plan to write a post about how crazy right-wingers must have to be to see themselves as a marginalized minority, as some do.

Non-political stuff: *WHEW*, I finished my Take Five application with 30 seconds to spare today. Well, I still have to ask another professor for a letter of recommendation, and I shouldn't really breath a sigh of relief until both recommendations are in, but still - it's on track. Despite yet again putting it off.

Oh yeah, almost forgot: this is pretty cool.

UPDATE: I had meant to include this with the political stuff, but I forgot, so here's one last link for the moment. I really liked reading this post.