Saturday, May 28, 2005

Whew. Just got back from going biking. I went over the Pulp Mill Bridge (basically, the back way into town), through town, up to Middlebury College, and coasted all the way down the college back home. Very good exercise. And I'm out of shape. But on a day like today - sunny and right around 70 - I can't think of a better way to get into shape.

Yesterday I read some and wrote a little, but the biggest thing I did was I finished organizing my Magic card collection. All of it. Yet another reason for me to look for jobs in the Rochester area more intently than in the Burlington area - what's the point if I'm in another state from all my friends who play?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Can we make the Jesusland jokes yet?

People should always be careful about what they say. You don't want to hurt anyone, offend anyone, give away any secrets. It's just as important in the political realm, where you can wind up looking like an idiot or making someone else look like one, and that's just to start.

So I try to get both sides of an issue before I come up with an opinion on it. Or at least I make a pretense. I only read two right-wing bloggers regularly compared to half a dozen left-wingers, and they aren't even very far to the right, but I read those two a LOT, dammit! :) On anything that seems serious, I go to mainstream, legitimate news sources, even if only for collaboration of the wild slanted accusations made on my favorite blogs.

And I try to avoid hyperbole. I'm not perfect, sure, but I try. Because for all the problems with this country, it could be a hell of a lot worse. When left-wingers call Bush et al. fascist or racist, they're taking real, actual fascism and racism lightly. When someone implies that Operation Infinite Justice* is as bad as Vietnam was, I wonder just a little bit about their command of history and/or their sense of proportion.

Sooner or later though, I start to doubt if restraint isn't appropriate any more, if the people talking about fascism and bigotry aren't exaggerating too much. When I read this, for example. From the Indianapolis Star:

An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.

Bradford refused to remove the provision after the 9-year-old boy's outraged parents, Thomas E. Jones Jr. and his ex-wife, Tammie U. Bristol, protested last fall.

If I try to poke holes in everything stupid, evil and outrageous about this, I will be here all night. And it's not like I have to, since better bloggers than me have already been writing about it.

I see some people are arguing that of course this judge was stupid, but this was one single incident, it says so right there in the article, anyone wasting time complaining about this is just revealing their own [anti-American/anti-Christian/whatever] prejudices. And sure, this was just one judge in one divorce case and all the experts agree that it's a fluke.

But does that really mean it's insignificant? Really?

This judge did get into office somehow. Do you think he had to lie about his religious convictions to get elected? Somehow I think it only helped him. If it was just one wacko, this would be insignificant. But apparently it's 51% of one county - is that still insignificant? And it's not like this county is on a desert island; Indianapolis is the capital and largest city of Indiana. And besides what the judge himself said, look at the article.

Jones said he does not consider himself a witch or practice anything resembling witchcraft.

During the divorce, he told a court official that Wiccans are not devil worshippers. And he said he does not practice a form of Wicca that involves nudity.

Let's think about this for a minute. Let's think about why the writer might have decided to put those grafs in. Do Indianans (Indianites? Indianapoloids?) really need to be told that Wicca is not, contrary to popular belief, Satanism? Is that a misconception that was begging to be corrected?

Can we make Jesusland jokes as long as we make it clear we're just talking about Indiana? Are Wiccans entitled, but no one else? Is it still inappropriate and offensive to make fun of what some people call Red America, as long as there aren't any actual laws against teaching evolution being passed? Are we required to treat the people who voted Bradford into office with the utmost respect? Has the right wing gone too far yet, or am I worrying over nothing until a bill setting pi equal to three passes the Senate?

* I've decided to use the original name for the war whenever possible. If Bush and friends decide to come right out and say they want to go on a crusade, who am I to stop them?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I was given What's the Matter with Kansas? as a graduation present, and I finished reading it today. Pretty good. I'm obviously the wrong person to judge this because I agree politically with the author, but it seems to me unusually persuasive. I mean, it's a very rare political book that would change what someone thinks about an issue. The vast majority of them could be described as "preaching to the choir." Ann Coulter's Treason or Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them - if you're paying good money for these books in the first place, it's almost certain that you and the author had the same opinion about who's ruining the country before you even read the blurb on the back cover.

But What's the Matter with Kansas? - less so. It's still written for a left-wing liberal audience and they're still more likely to enjoy it than a conservative, but there were several chapters where I found myself thinking, "I should show this to a friend of mine and see if it changes his mind."
An otherwise calm day with a lot of chores around the place - cleaning the bathroom, walking the dog, redoing my resume so I have something more professional-looking to give out than the thing I've been using almost since high school - was interrupted when I walked by the cellar stairs at one point and saw Panda sitting there with a lot of blood at his feet.

Yesterday I looked at him and I noticed that one side of his face (mouth? muzzle?) was pretty swollen. I pointed it out to my parents and we decided that it was probably an abscess. This morning he apparently didn't eat anything, which is very unusual for him. (We named him "Panda" just because of his coloration, but serendipitiously, it's a good desciption of his size.) So mom gave him a quarter of a penicillin pill and made an appointment to get him to the vet tomorrow morning. No biggie. Around noon my parents left to go to Burlington to do some shopping, and I stayed behind - to do those chores, but also just because I had nothing to do up in Burlington. An hour or two later I'm talking to a friend of the family who's called to congratulate me on graduating and I walk by the stairs and I see Panda sitting at the top of the basement stairs and at his feet, around the door frame, there's quite a bit of blood. So, after some Kleenex on the floor and a few rushed phone calls to a vet and to mom, we've learned that it's good that he cut it open to let the infection out, and to help I should just hold a hot compress on it for a while.

So I do that, and by the time mom and dad get home hours later he's still got an ugly wound, but there's no more swelling and he's eating and squeaking (he's talkative) about as much as ever. Dad was complaining tonight about the impending vet bill, but he wasn't doing that when Panda's face was badly swollen and later when he was bleeding all over the place, so I guess it's actually good.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Yesterday I met Gretchen at noon at this tea house in Burlington. We thought about going to see "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," but didn't get around to it - thought we couldn't stay all that long, didn't want to rush through tea/shopping, etc.
So we just did some shopping and had lunch. I got a new wallet which, unlike my old one, actually fits in my pocket. At mom's advice I went out and bought a roast chicken from Shaw's for dinner.

A little bit later I drove down to Rutland and Jo and I went to see the new, the final Star Wars movie, "Revenge of the Sith." My God, it was great. Why - why why why why - couldn't the last two have been like that? "The Phantom Menace" was a great movie, iff you're younger than ten. From the made-for-Playstation podrace scene that had nothing to do with the rest of the plot to the epic battle between the Frogstafarians and the Lego-Bots to the final conflict being decided by an eight-year-old who accidentally stumbles onto the battlefield, I couldn't believe it was supposed to be related to the movies that gave us "When I last left you I was but the learner. Now I am the master," and "Do or do not. There is no try." And "Attack of the Clones" would have been a very good movie if they had cut it in half and taken out all the sappy, saccharine scenes between Anakin and Padme. Since when do mystical monks/knights and women who have been diplomats for decades start acting like "Dawson's Creek" rejects?


But "Revenge of the Sith" - wow. Hayden Christensen's Anakin Skywalker being incredibly evil and scary and menacing, before he even puts the Vader mask on. Palpatine becoming the emperor. (And it's pretty cool that he was played by the same guy in all the movies. Even Yoda can't say that - same voice I think, but going from a Muppet to CGI is a pretty big change. I think the guys inside C-3PO and Chewbacca might be the only other ones who can make that claim, and it's not like you ever actually see their faces.) Anakin getting named Darth Vader by his new master. A scene that parallels the saber battle between Luke and Vader at the end of "Return of the Jedi," only Anakin makes the wrong choice that his son would later get right.

And finally, and probably most importantly... Vader breathing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

By the way, if you're wondering why I've been hard to reach lately: for the last week or so of college I was avoiding a couple people. And right now I would be back, but my parents recently finished a deep scrubbing of this computer to get rid of some virus and malware damage, and they have some kind of firewall up which, among other things, blocks access to AOL Instant Messenger. So until I can figure out how to make the firewall make an exception for AIM, I will continue to be reachable by phone and e-mail, but not IM.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Wow. A while since I posted, isn't it.

That's due to a combination of five factors: "World of Warcraft," - I got my dwarvish Rogue up to level 31, w00t! as they might say - finals, job stuff and hanging out with friends I may not see for a long time. And probably the biggest reason - gross laziness. Senioritis, avoidance tactics, call it what you will - the point is, I could in theory have a job by now, if only I had been willing to start looking in time. But since I wasn't, I don't. I still have no definite prospects, but at least, at least, I have a definite plan. I know what I want: to have a job in the Rochester area in journalism and/or something I'd enjoy with the potential for advancement.

(Blah, blah, blah. I know, "something I'd enjoy with the potential for advancement" describes every human being, pretty much. It's just that while journalism is my first choice, it's far from the only thing I've looked into so far.)

I also slacked off at the CT and what I was supposed to do for the commencement issue. I feel a bit guilty about that, letting them down and stuff. It worked out in the end, but still.

I'm in Vermont right now. But I figure that a deadline will help me get on track, so I've created one: as a graduation present, I've been given plane tickets to go see my aunt, uncle and cousins in Seattle, the Levesque-Smithgalls. I haven't been to their place since they got married when I was three. The ticket is for June 24, I think - and it's flying out of Rochester, not Burlington. So if I'm not out there by then, I'll feel pretty stupid.

Friday, May 06, 2005

For an opinion on that 13-year-old foster child in Florida much better written than mine was, in the unlikely event that you're still interested, go here.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Found a good comic today. Especially the last panel. It reminds me of a talk I never got around to having with a friend at the CT: it's not that I think there are no problems with the left, I just think there are more problems with the right. Admit that, and maybe we can get somewhere.

And in the more offensive vein, we have this. What the judge is doing doesn't bother me too much, partly because as far as I can tell I agree with him and partly because he has to give both sides a hearing. But what the bloody fuck is wrong with the Florida Department of Children & Families? Are they really making a 13-year-old foster child carry a pregnancy to term against her will? Does this mean that abortions are legal for 27-year-olds who just don't feel like having a kid, but they aren't legal for 13-year-olds who have no means of support at all and are three times more likely to be hurt by a pregnancy than by an abortion?

And I see why it's needed because we are talking about a 13-year-old here, but at first glance I thought the requirement for a psychological evaluation was ridiculous too. Let's be clear on something here. The desire to have an abortion is not the result of a mental disorder, a psychosis, or brain damage. It is the result of two factors combined: an unwillingness to bring a pregnancy to term, and a belief that a potential life does not have the same rights and privileges as an actual life. The first is entirely subjective; the second, even though it's still debated a lot, is widely accepted, to judge by how we think about fetuses and embryos anywhere other than in an abortion clinic.

Admit that the pro-choice side, by and large, is not saying "murder is OK sometimes." They're saying "abortion isn't murder sometimes." Admit that, and maybe a rational discussion is possible. But then again, I shouldn't be surprised - I checked that paper's story about this girl from the day before, and Jeb Bush might have got involved.

Whew. Sorry. I know that most people who read this do it because they're my friends and this is a good way of finding out what's going on in my life, and here I am, writing three posts out of four on political issues. There is interesting stuff going on in my life and I was going to write about some of it, but I need to get going pretty soon, so I can't do it now.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

I am:
"You're probably one of those people who still thinks that getting a blowjob is not an impeachable offense."

Are You A Republican?

Wow, so much? Some of my friends would probably be surprised that I wound up in positive numbers; Amanda Marcotte at, where I found the link to the quiz, got -%3.

About why I haven't posted here in a while: a combination of World of Warcraft and finals. I have a bunch of stuff to do. But I should be done by Wednesday, unless I forgot something. But in that case I won't be done until August probably, so... Nah, I'll be done Wednesday. I didn't do too badly at the stuff I've already done, and I have enough time to do decent jobs on what's left.