Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A few months ago, I read somewhere or other that someone had scientifically determined (by a representative panel or something ridiculous like that) that this is the funniest joke in the English-speaking world:

A 911 dispatcher picks up the phone.
"Hello sir, what do you need - police, fire or ambulance?"

"Ambulance!" The panicked man on the other end blurts out. "Or, or - police, I don't know! Me and my friend were out hunting, and I shot him by accident, and I think - I think he's dead!"

"OK sir, just calm down and relax," the dispatcher says in her best calming voice as she types frantically the codes that will get an ambulance moving. She puts him on hold for just a few seconds while she tells the ambulance where to go and what to expect. When she's back talking to him, she says, "I already have your location through the cell phone you're using, an ambulance is on the way. Until they get there, I can tell you what to do. First of all, I need you to make sure he's dead."

She hears some rustling and bumps as the phone is put down and the man walks away to his friend. Then there's a gunshot.

"OK, he's dead," the man says. "Now what do I do?"

It's funny because it's fucked up. Sooo, er, that said... I found this a couple minutes ago. Rather than link to it directly, I'm linking to the blog where I read about it, because I agree exactly with what Billmon said about it. Combine the biggest case of schadenfreude in human history with the shocked "Oh my god, I can't believe they did that on TV" humor of "South Park," and you'd have a good idea of what Billmon is linking to. And I give that description because frankly, there's a good chance that certain friends of mine might hurt me if I showed them that without warning them. So if you don't think you'd like a mix of "South Park" and schadenfreude, then don't follow those links. Consider yourself warned.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Cool, I got my class ring in the mail today.

On Saturday I went to the mall, and while there I broke down and bought a deck of Magic cards. I've added a few of my own to make it more interesting. I haven't had a chance to play it yet, but when I do... well, I imagine that it will be challenging. It's a kind of deck I've never played before.

I got back a little while ago from a CT meeting where we voted on which SA presidential candidate we should endorse. Boring. As I put it during discussion - getting a big laugh - the candidates were an asshole, an incompetent and a stuffed shirt, so it was hard for me to really get passionate about one over another. But then, maybe that's just because I'll be graduating. I still have a lot of friends at the CT and I spend a lot of time there and I put a lot of work into it, but... it doesn't affect me any more, if that makes sense. What goes on and how well things go has absolutely no effect on my workload, unlike when I was news editor. My opinion is valued around there, but the only thing I'm responsible there is just proofreading. (And I don't even do a great job at that.) Senioritis, I guess.

I have work to do but I don't feel like it now and I'm tired. So I plan to go to bed very soon, get up bright and early tomorrow and get to work well before class.

Here's hoping.
Hmmm. This is just a little bit disturbing.

You are Buck Russell (from Uncle Buck)! Your
relationships aren't the greatest (mostly by
your own accord), but if anyone has a huge
heart, it's you.

Which John Hughes Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Of course, I can't find it too disturbing because I've never seen the movie "Uncle Buck". But I liked John Hughes' work in "Weird Science" and "The Breakfast Club," so the quiz can't be completely and totally invalid. And I figure, anything that compares me to John Candy is at least a bit disturbing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Yesterday I got a lot of errands done - mail checked, e-mails sent, money deposited, presentation planned for a class - but the only real bit of work was a good chunk of CT editing I did last night. I played quite a bit of Magic. My black/red deck has sort of gone back to how it was before we went to Toronto. The Ogre/Demon combo does have potential, I think, but I just don't have the ogres and demons I'd need to make it work well enough. So I'm going back to basics with it, which in this case means "Burn! Kill! Bend, spindle, mutilate! Destroy!"

Rob Clemm's editorial about Terri Schiavo really got me pissed off. I was seriously tempted to do something about it, maybe write him a "polite" e-mail pointing out some problems and factual errors in it and "asking" him to fix them before it got published. But I got distracted and easily forgot about it for several hours, which made me realize it wasn't that important to me after all. Mocking him about Dean was fun and, hopefully, made him look dumb. (I'd say it would hopefully make him more careful about what he writes, but I might as well wish for the moon.) But I can't make a habit of debunking him - doing it in a way that doesn't make me look as bad as him would take more research and be more effort than it's worth.

Speaking of which, though, I Googled "Terri Schiavo" a minute ago, not really to do any of that research but just to hopefully find mainstream confirmation of what I've read on some partisan blogs. And in the process I found a sentence in a cnn.com article that I thought was simply disgusting in general, let alone in a respected news outlet. Here's the quote: "Lower courts have ruled that she is in a "persistent vegetative state.""

I've read that might be inaccurate, but I'm not going to try to find sources, if for no other reason than the fact that I'm about to be late for class. But what the fuck is going on when a court rules about someone's medical state? I mean, this isn't a matter of opinion, this is as reliable a fact as anything doctors can show. Next week: there are thousands of people detained without trial or access to a lawyer, hundreds of pictures of torture, a handful of whistleblowers, several dozen dead bodies and not one single transcript of trial proceedings, but in a 5-4 vote the Supreme Court rules that the Bush Administration, because it only encouraged torture and never actually ordered it, can't be held responsible for all that. So we don't have to worry about it any more! (Or, to choose an example that's less charged and more relevant, but less fun - I got in a car accident and my arm is now bent funny and I think I broke it, but a lawyer pulls over and says I just sprained my wrist, so that's OK?)

Does the truth, The Truth, matter, or it is just what we say it is? Are we going to outlaw teaching evolution again?

Call me crazy, but I think the truth is important. Don't get me wrong, I tell lies. White lies to spare peoples' feelings, at least sometimes, and I've lied to my parents about how much work I've done, and more. But I think that efforts to discover the truth about the world around us instead of relying unquestioningly on dogmatic beliefs - science and, dare I say it, tolerance - is how we went from the despotic, disease-ridden Dark Ages to today. And I think that watchdogs of all kinds - media, police, moral authorities who are actually moral - with a concern for some principle other than their own personal interests is the only thing that kept George Orwell's 1984 from being prophetic. So when one of the most relied-on news outlets gets answers to medical questions from courts instead of doctors, I can't decide between being pissed-off and being panicked.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Damn. Forgot all about that PBS telethon I had signed up for. But on the other hand, maybe the mistake was last night - when I signed up I must have forgotten that I had class at the time they were supposed to meet.

I had fun at my uncle's wedding over the weekend, but damn, it sure seems like I missed a lot at SIMCON (the annual gaming convention at UR, which happened to be held this weekend.) Now that I think of it, I think this year is the first time since 11th grade, maybe earlier, that I've had a group of friends that I shared my geeky interests with. One friend here and there who had a hobby that matched mine, and I've had plenty that were solitary activities, but this year I've spent a lot of time playing Magic: the Gathering with Kenny, Eric, Katye and Seth pretty regularly. It's great, and I'm going to miss that. Due to bad planning and just the way things happened I wasn't able to get my complete collection of cards to revise my decks and stuff, but half the fun in the new cards we're seeing is all the new, weird abilities, so I almost don't mind.

For better or for worse, I don't have any big assignments hanging over my head at the moment. Take-home midterm done, short story written, paper handed in - finis!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

My return flight from South Carolina got in a few minutes ago. It was a fun weekend - down there for Uncle Fred's wedding. I'm happy for him. I don't know Chris (his new wife) well, but as far as I can tell they seem to be a good match. And apparently I've acquired a new cousin - Chris has a 21-year-old daughter, Lisa, who's a student at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Japanese, is spending most of her time over there and plans to move there when she graduates, and is trying to start a singing career. I'd go into more detail, but I don't know enough about Japanese culture to describe her music. It's pretty impressive, though.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

So, anyhoo... still a bit sick. Hopefully it'll be cleared up by Friday afternoon, when I'm seeing my family. Tired, too, for obvious reasons. I'm going to be taking a stack of work along with me on this trip, but at least I'll be getting a good night's sleep right now and I'll be able to sleep on the planes and, come on, it's not like I'll get to all the stuff I'm bringing with me anyway.

I went to the Senior Happy Hour this afternoon. A St. Patrick's Day thing. Too bad Brian didn't make it there. I'm going to miss him after he leaves.
This week's Campus Times really cemented my belief that in this country by and large, the two major political parties are The Evil Party and The Stupid Party. Oh, sure, there are blurrings of the lines all over the place, and there are a ton of exceptions to the rule - I know Republicans who are better people than me, and quite a few clever and/or intelligent Democrats too - but that's how it looks to me on the whole.

In the paper today there was this point/counterpoint on Social Security. Now, the pro-privatization side of the argument pointed out problems with the system. For one thing, Social Security taxes - fees, whatever - are only applied to the first $90,000 of income, which means that someone earning $90,000 per year and $900,000 per year pay exactly the same amount. They also point out that blacks, for example, tend to die earlier than whites, so they (supposedly) get less benefit from Social Security than white people. Now, there are a lot of different things that could be done about these problems, but for simplicity I'll only consider two. Which would you choose?

(A) Get rid of that ceiling on taxation so you're taxing the people who can afford it. And improve the country's health care system and racial inequalities so that the life expectancies of black people are equal to those of whites. And maybe even add some kind of means test for Social Security, just so it will last all the way until 2142.

(B) Cripple Social Security by pouring it into a much less efficient and much more volatile system. A retiree's benefits would be a fraction of what they are now, but at least the geezers will be able to move it around between any of four, gosh, maybe even five different mutual funds!

If you chose (A), then congratulations! You're probably a well-adjusted member of society, capable of making ethical decisions without being led by the hand. I don't know what your guiding principle is, your one Rule to Live By, if you even have one, but it's almost definitely not "Gimme."

If you chose (B), then you are a Republican. Well, that's an unfair sweeping generalization, but it's absolutely accurate to say that (B) is the position taken by Eric Miller and Brian LaSonde, the co-authors of the pro-privatization editorial.

Now look at the issue from a left-winger's perspective. The Bush Administration has, for once, for once, taken a position which is both unpopular and wrong. Social Security is exactly what the government should be doing: providing a safety net, not necessarily to live in luxury but to live with the basic necessities, after a person can't provide for him or herself any more. The security it provides lets individuals get on with their lives and business, allowing them to take more risks and therefore make more progress in life and in the world. Investing it in the stock market, by contrast, would not solve any of the problems with the system and would create new ones like massive inefficiency and debt, and would take cronyism, corporatism (and other hard-to-spell isms) and corruption to new heights. So how do you argue that the system should be kept basically as is?

(A) Get straight to the point that Social Security is basically a good idea and the changes currently favored by the Republican Party would amount to abolishing it.

(B) Start off with some vague, snotty barbs about the people writing on the other side and spend the entire first half of your argument using complicated economic terms, arguing background details no one cares about, and saying that they're right about the issue but claiming it doesn't "really" matter.

If you chose (A), then congratulations! You have a basic understanding of psychology and human nature. You know that looking smart is low on the list of usefulness in public policy debates, coming after being smart, being right and looking right.

If you chose (B), then you're a Democrat. At least, that's how Michael Morosi did it in the Campus Times. He did raise a point or two that I didn't already know about, but I wouldn't have got that far in the article if I didn't have to.

The Evil Party and the Stupid Party. The party that would cheerfully rob widows and starve orphans, and the party that would chase after them and show those thieves who's boss, dammit, if only we hadn't locked our keys in the squad car.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Waahh... sooo sick and tired... I'm seriously tempted to go to sleep now, set my alarm for 6 a.m., and hope and pray that I can get the story finished between then and class at 2 p.m. Finishing the last three story critiques I had hoped for would be nice too, but hey. On the one hand, I reeeally need sleep, between how sick and tired I am and how much work I have. But on the other hand, I should know by now not to put stuff off if I can possibly help it. Do I really want to try to finish this in eight hours? It wouldn't affect my grade - I'm sure I could have something presentable ready by then - but I have some slight degree of standards for myself.

It's an easy story. I've heard the term "popcorn novels" used to describe those paperbacks you buy in airport bookstores just to have something quiet, easy and relaxing to do in your free time. I guess I might call this story "popcorn writing," compared to the stuff I usually try to do. I mean, I enjoy it, I'm not phoning it in like a CT story being written purely to fill space or something, and I think it's decent. But it's not part of a much larger and more complex story, it doesn't have a moral or "after school special"-type character growth to show, it's not in some experimental writing style and I'm not making up an entire world in my head. It's even sort of a sequel to something I wrote in a class a year ago, so the characters are already defined and stuff. Guy meets terrible killer he has a history with, guy gets talked into working for killer, nothing major goes wrong and the guy has some degree of control over his own life, guy is no longer afraid of the dark. End of story.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Ugh. Sick. Runny nose, sore throat, stuff like that. I really don't need this right now. But on the bright side, such as it is, it makes one choice easier. I had been waffling on whether or not to take a nap this afternoon. I have work to get through, but on the other hand I'll be up late tonight and tomorrow night no matter what, so maybe I should get sleep when I can. This bug tips the scales to the "sleep" side of things.
Pet Peeve #63: people who say that before Columbus discovered America, Europeans believed the world was flat.

It's ridiculous. Dante's "Inferno" placed Hell inside a round earth. Hell, the ancient Greeks knew the world was round, because they saw islands apparently rise up out of the sea as they approached them in ships. Some time around 500 BC, I think, a philosopher made a pretty good approximation of the size of the Earth by measuring the angles of shadows in different places. If there is a seven degree difference in the angles of noontime shadows between specific places in Egypt and Greece, and those places are a known distance apart, then by trigonometry - wedge of a sphere, something like that - you get an estimate of the Earth's size that is very close to the actual size.

Columbus did not have this miraculous epiphany that, hey, maybe the world is round - he had a stupid idea but got lucky. Everyone knew the world was round, but somehow Columbus had become convinced that it was a great deal smaller than everyone else thought. When his first proposal was refused, it was rejected because he didn't have anywhere near enough provisions for the actual distance. And they were right - if he hadn't run into a land mass between Europe and Asia, he and his men would have starved or died of thirst long before they reached Asia.

So, anyhoo... we had fun in Toronto. We saw "Mamma Mia," an Abba musical, and had dinner at this Indian buffet, and stopped at a few bars. While we were there we also went up the CN Tower, supposedly one of the wonders of the modern world. The signs say that on a clear day you can see hundreds of miles. It lists a bunch of cities, and Rochester is one. Unfortunately, it wasn't a clear day. When we were up on the observation decks we couldn't even see past the edge of Toronto, I don't think. Then we went down a few levels to the cafe. A few minutes later we noticed it had cleared up, and we were amazed by how much better the view was. But still, it says something about where we live that our definition of good weather is "being able to see the ground."

I got some work done over break. I didn't get as much done as I'd wanted, but it was probably more than I would have accomplished if I'd gone home. Friends to visit (and added problem of travel time) and family and pets to play with and lots of old books to reread and whether or not I'd even choose to bring the right books and papers with me - not a good work environment. So on the whole, I guess I can call it a success.

Unfortunately, less work than I wanted and more work than I expected, still means less work than I needed. I have a short story to do, a takehome midterm due Monday, and I really can't let myself fall any further behind and put stuff off any more. So, I shouldn't be writing this. So I'm done.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Today is the first time in years, probably literally years, that I succumbed to peer pressure. Once or twice in my freshman year with my roommate Kevin (Vander Naald) and/or with some DU brothers, or I suppose maybe some time my sophomore year when Kevin (Ryan) and Bill were my neighbors, was the last time - the last time before tonight, when Kenny, Anna and I had shots of tequila, salt and lime.

I have a fair amount to write about from the past few days - Magic games and some new deck choices; work, how much I've got done and how much I plan to do, which is worth writing about because making the plans, and the reasons for those plans, happened over the past few days; a trip to the gym yesterday; picking Katye up from the airport and what we all did tonight - but I don't feel like doing it now. And since I do plan to have a (relatively) busy day tomorrow, I don't want to stay up too much later. So... goodnight.

Monday, March 07, 2005

One ray of sunshine is the weather. Well, that's not literally true because it's cloudy. But figuratively - it's in the 50s and it was sprinkling earlier but now it's not raining at all. For early March in any place I've ever called home, that's very pleasant.
This morning I was planning on going to the gym with Eric at 11 a.m. But I slept until noon, and then I sat down to write that last blog post, which I thought would be quick - but turned out to take over an hour. By the time I was ready to go it was about 1:30 but the gym closes at 2 p.m. over spring break, so there was no point. So instead I borrowed Eric's ID card (I want to save my declining, but he has no shortage), went to the Pit, got some lunch and did some reading for my fiction class. I'm writing this in the CT office at the moment.

Last night I had a dream about being back in Nantes with some friends. It was just like our trip for next weekend took us to France instead of Toronto. It felt great to be back. I mean, I was laughing and saying "I'm home" as we walked down a major street in the pedestrian quarter. Maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me something.

Yesterday Kenny, Eric and I watched "Air Force One". Good movie. Kenny was the only one who hadn't seen it before. It has quite a lot of political subtext that is very relevant and charged post-September 11, so Kenny's faces at the speech in the beginning was sort of funny. That night we all - me, Eric, Kenny, Katye and Seth - went to Bazil's an Italian restaurant around here. Good stuff.

Saturday night and yesterday morning really sucked, though. First Kenny and Katye got in a fight. Then Katye and I got in a fight. Then Eric and Kenny got in a fight. Kenny and Katye have reconciled. So did Kenny and Eric. You'll notice what pairing doesn't appear on that list.

It was my fault. I said something incredibly arrogant and condescending. And this is hardly the first time. I haven't had the chance to apologize yet, but... I mean, I can't even claim that I was misunderstood, or that I was in a bad mood or tired or wasn't myself for some other reason. I just was an asshole. Why do I do stuff like this? How can I be so compassionate in some ways, with some people, and such a conceited callous sociopath in other situations? Well, I can make a few guesses about why. But the more important question is, what the Hell can I do about it and how can I make up for what I've already done?

Having politically-minded and religious friends, it comes up a lot. And there's that Women's Caucus column in the CT every week or two, so it gets talked about around the office a lot as well.

The short, simple answer I give about my opinion on abortion is that a functioning brain is a necessary part of being human, so abortions are acceptable until the fetus has a fully developed brain, which (in my vague and limited understanding) would allow abortions until the first or maybe even the second month. I say the brain is important both because of general thought about what it means to be "human," and because of my experiences with my grandfather, Gerard Levesque, who died of Alzheimer's. Which in turn ties into my belief that euthanasia is acceptable for the same reasons.

(Which gets to my belief - and this is going to be one long tangent - that life is, in fact, not sacred. Humanity, in the sense of "being a person" and "being humane," is. A person who is a vegetable, who didn't explicitly say that they'd like to be kept alive on tubes, for whom recovery would be as much of a miracle as raising the dead - let them go. This is an extremely controversial sentiment, but some people are worth less than others. John Wayne Gacy Jr., Tim McVeigh - there may be other reasons not to kill them, for example not to make a martyr out of them, but I don't think it's controversial to say that they deserve to die. I'm against the death penalty. I don't have a problem with it in theory, but I'm against it because in practice it's so fundementally flawed that even if you could fix all the glaring problems in the system today, there's still the fact that executing an innocent person is inexcusable. Some people deserve to die, but in 99 percent of the cases mankind is too fallible to make that decision. So, the point is... I believe that in a life or death decision, whether the organism(s) in question has opposable thumbs and 26 chromosomes is not the most important consideration.)

Yup, a long tangent. But while my short answer about abortion is one thing, the matter is more complicated than that. I read somewhere about how people like to think in discrete quantities - true or false, male or female, a heap of sand or just a pile - but that's not how the world works. A born baby is definitely a human being, an unfertilized egg and sperm together in a test tube is definitely not, but between them you don't have a dualism, you have a continuum. Is it a human being at birth? At viability? At nervous system development, as I say? At cell differentiation? At implantation? At fertilization? Or, hell, as people used to believe - at the act of having sex? If aborting a nine-month-old fetus is murder, then is aborting a one-month-old fetus a crime comparable to a traffic ticket? Is there a difference between a potential life and an actual life? At first glance, you might draw the line at fertilization, but there are still problems with that. Namely, are fertility clinics outlawed? Because they work by fertilizing several eggs and waiting for one to implant. And somewhat absurd concern, but one with even greater scope - does a miscarriage get a funeral?

Drawing the line at fertilization might mean that a woman who has an unusually bad period - a possible miscarriage - after unprotected sex should be investigated for manslaughter. Drawing it at birth or viability might mean that an abortion is perfectly acceptable one day and a heinous murder the next. I'm sorry, but I think the best way to handle this and a whole lot of other problems is to admit that there is a continuum and to leave the choice up to individual conscience.

Friday, March 04, 2005

After finishing at the CT Thursday morning I got straight to work on the take-home final for Art and Politics. (That's as good a description of it as any. There was typing and printing involved, but I can't call it a paper because none of the usual rules of introductions or citing work or anything applied.) I had breakfast before going to class on time and handing it in, and was constantly on the edge of nodding off through the whole class. (You'll notice that "sleep" does not appear in that narrative.)

I went to the Freedom and the First Amendment midterm with a cup of coffee in my hand and a chocolate muffin in my stomach. I think I did pretty good on that exam. Unless I really screwed up and confused one court case for another, I got all the questions correct in their broad outline.

It was sort of funny there at the end. With about half an hour left my coffee ran out. So even though there was still plenty of time left for the small amount of work I had left, I suddenly had a time limit - finish while I was still lucid enough to write on the blue book rather than the desk. I got almost 12 hours of sleep last night, happily.

Yesterday was pretty funny all around. I was cracking up all day long about the CT news story about former policeman Peter Christ's talk about the War on Drugs. It was titled "Christ speaks on drugs." Classic, that. And early in the morning I stopped by the post office for the first time in over a week and I found a letter in my box addressed to


So it appears I'm now a psychology professor. Cool.

Seriously though, there's a story there. Waaay back in high school there was this girl named Carissa who I - well, I guess I should say had a crush on, but she never returned the feelings. For a long time, "I like you as a friend" was the single most offensive phrase I could imagine. The last time I talked to her was the summer between my year in France and my freshman year of college. Her daughter Chantal was almost six months old at the time. When I got to college I was sort of depressed for a couple reasons, and the fact that things had never gone anywhere with Carissa was high on that list.

So one day in September or October 2001 I'm looking through the bookstore for some textbook, and something catches my eye. I notice a tag under a set of textbooks with the name "Levesque" on them. Amazed, I do a little research. It turns out that that year, there was a psychology professor here from somewhere in Quebec. Her name was Chantal. Chantal Levesque.

That didn't help my mood.

And so yesterday I got this bit of mail (it turned out to be just some junk mail) meant for her. And I was laughing at it. Sure, Carissa never cared about me "in that way" blah blah blah, but I got over that years ago. But it was just so amazing to get, in the middle of my last semester, this echo of my first few weeks here. And just to double that effect, I'm in a class with Kevin, my freshman roommate, and it looks like we might wind up working on a group project together.

Full circle. Closure. Bookends on the past four years. Getting back to my roots, as Kim Healey put it. Real life almost never works out so neatly. An ideal way to look back and reflect on what I have done with myself during my college career. I'm still the same person at heart, but at the same time I've changed.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Fuck. I think I just bombed that exam in Criminal Procedures and Constitutional Principles. I didn't do much studying, and I was OK on the broad outline of things, but I was clueless about most of the specific cases.

Well, it's not so bad - I can hope that it'll be graded on a curve, or that I just guessed right on most of the times I guessed (the whole thing was true/false or multiple choice). And even if neither of those is true, there's still a paper and a final that's worth twice as much - plenty of time to turn things around. Assuming of course that I actually do turn it around, dammit.

I got out of the CT about half an hour ago. That's not too bad, considering that we went 24 pages this week and that we were shorter than usual on copy editors. But I'm not back in my room and I probably won't be asleep until 7 or so, unfortunately - I have a paper due.

This brings back that rule I tried to remember, but wasn't able to get quite right. It's OK to put things off until the last minute, as long as you can accurately estimate when the last minute is.

I fully expect to get about 12 hours of sleep Thursday night, though, and be ready for a fun and busy break. Where I catch up on work or, barring that, at least do some other more long-term projects I should get to.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Remember how I said I didn't do much over the weekend? Well... I should have. (Actually, I said that too. Redundant.) Wednesday and Thursday I have one midterm and one paper due. On each day. And while I don't have anything like that due in the seminar in fiction, I'm already behind and I really, if at all possible, want to avoid getting more behind. And to top things off I made the stupid mistake of offering to write a story for the CT.

So I'm only back in my room long enough to drop off some books I won't need and pick up the power cord for my iPod. (I'm going to want to listen to it for several hours yet, and using the iTalk voice recorder thing drains the battery pretty quick.)

The hard part - getting quotes - is done for the story, now I just have to get one or two more and turn it into an article, almost certainly before noon tomorrow. Tonight I also plan to write a paper - relatively easy, no research or anything, just analyzing a certain argument for Philosophy of Language - do some story critiques to keep from getting further behind, and study for the criminal law midterm. I'm optimistic about everything but that.

Part of getting ready for the Art and Politics paper has been reading Marguerite Duras' War, and watching the movie "Marooned in Iraq." Fucking depressing. A story about a concentration camp survivor from the point of view of his (ex)-wife (dammit, that was one hell of a homecoming), a movie about an entire population who are forced by prejudice and circumstance to live as nomads on the fringes of civilization... Duras really pulls you into the story of a victim of one of the worst examples of man's humanity to man ever. And the movie could be something out of the Dark Ages, despite the fact that it's based on events that actually happened in the 1990s. I wish I had the time for a drink.

One good thing today - running into Alfred, a friend from my old Arabic classes. Nice guy. I just happened to be walking by his office so I stopped in for a minute and he doesn't like his job, so he was happy to talk for a bit and catch up. I wound up being late for something, but who cares.
Hah! Privatize, dammit!

Seriously though, what do you all think? It's a good idea, right? I mean, if privatization is the right way to go, then it's the right way to go. Expert economists around the country can't be wrong!