Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I paid a guy who did some work for me the other day and his e-mailed response was:
Here's to a better 2009 than 2008!
All best wishes,
John is not alone in talking this way. For me, a few nice things happened on a personal level, a few really shitty things happened on a personal level. But mostly the overall suck of world events soaked into my life, too.
Obama's election notwithstanding, I think a lot of people are glad this year is over. But it's probably worth noting that in many respects, life is on an upswing.
For example, people's complaints about violent videogames notwithstanding
Violent crime rates continue to be at their lowest in recent history. Sex crimes and crimes against kids are down, too.
I get that whether the average life expectancy hitting a new record is a good thing is a complicated question for those concerned about the population crisis. But I will confess that I'm pleased
Also, teen sex is down, teen pregnancy is down, teen condom use is up. The abortion rate is at its lowest in 30 years*.
Links swiped from one of Radley Balko's columns.
*Arguably, the abortion rate is low partially because there are so few places that will perform them these days. But I would think the condom use and teen pregnancy being down would have a lot to do with it, too, so I'm still calling that a win.
1. Where is your cell phone? Desk
2. Your significant other? CSO
3. Your hair? Improving
4. Your mother? Sigh.
5. Your father? Melancholy
6. Your favorite thing? Discussions
7. Your dream last night? Anxious
8. Your favorite drink? Gimlet
9. Your dream/goal? Buffy
10. The room you're in? Office
11. Your fear? Emptiness
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Courtroom
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. What you're not? Secretary
15. Muffins? Pass
16. One of your wish list items? Purse
17. Where you grew up? Virginia
18. The last thing you did? Sighed
19. What are you wearing? Clothes
20. Your favorite TV show? Bones
21. Your pet? Numerous
23. Your life? Lived
24. Your mood? Restless
25. Missing someone? Indeed.
26. Your car/truck? Conspicuous
27. Something you're not wearing? Makeup
28. Favorite Store? Nordstrom
29. Your summer? Indistinguishable
30. Your favorite color? Blue
31. When is the last time you laughed? Recently
32. Last time you cried? Distant
THREE PEOPLE WHO E-MAIL ME: Linguistfriend, ZombieKid, Kim
THREE PLACES I GO OVER AND OVER: Church, Work, School
THREE OF MY FAVORITE FOODS: BBQ, Thai, Rotisserie
PLACE I WOULD RATHER BE RIGHT NOW: Vegas
WHO I THINK WILL RESPOND: Few
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Krusty the Clown
I'm headed to Charlotte, NC. Random travel pics and posting from there may for may not happen.
Have a great holiday.
Love and Kisses,
Tom Robbins is awesomesauce and I went through a phase in college where I read everything he had written. "Jitterbug perfume" was my favorite.
I don't know much Terry Pratchett, but "Good Omens" was pretty good.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
If I am looking for Iphone Earbuds and your earbuds say "Not compatible with Iphone" I will buy another company's earbuds and you will make no profit.
If I am looking for Iphone Earbuds and your earbuds say "Compatible with Ipod" in large lettering and do not say "But not Iphone" anywhere on the package then...
1. I will take said earbuds back to the store
2. I will get a refund
3. The store, unable to sell used Earbuds, will send them back and either you will refund the store or the store will take a bath on your products and be disinclined to re-order
4. I will hate you and not want to buy any of your products again and tell all my friends.
YOU ARE MUCH WORSE OFF THAN IF YOU HAD JUST BEEN STRAIGHTFORWARD WITH ME IN THE FIRST PLACE.
And I'm not even talking about like fifteen-year-olds who will grow out of being off-limits and whom you could always date later.
I'm talking about off-limits, for life, don't even try it.
For a few examples:
1. Catholic Preists. (Whether or not you are Catholic. And flirting with priests is just plain tacky, which is not to say that those of us who have priests teaching some classes don't see people do it all the time.)
2. Your therapist. (It's not the therapist, it's you. Trust me.)
3. Your mentally ill sister's husband
There. Wasn't that simple?
I honestly think few myths have done as much damage to the world as the idea that we each have one person out there who is "the one" and we could never truly be happy with anyone else so any crazy thing we do "for love" is automatically justified.
who fully expects Nora Ephron to go out and write a romantic, schmaltzy movie about a woman who falls in love with the priest who has been giving her spiritual counsel and is explicably married to her sister. BUT THAT WON'T MAKE IT RIGHT
Monday, December 22, 2008
2. If I were not a desk driver, I would be -desperately looking for another job. Most of the jobs I like are pretty desk-oriented
3. I am irrationally worried about -Flunking out of law school or getting pregnant at a really inconvenient time*.
4. If I were the opposite sex -I would have one less irrational worry.
5. The thing I miss most about childhood is -umm... err... No! Wait! I got one! No, nevermind. Seriously, I wasn't a particularly happy kid and I wouldn't have any of it back for anything.
6. I like to collect - erotic novels, snowglobes
7. Though I’ve never been there, I feel inexplicably homesick for -Salterton, Canada, where Robertson Davies' Salterton Trilogy is set.
8. I’ve never really liked to eat - marshmellows, though I will sometimes consume them around a campfire just to be a sport.
9. When I have nightmares, they’re usually about -Getting chased by wild dogs and/or hurting someone I love.
10. Magazines subscribed to: Lots of them, but the Economist, the ABA Journal and Entertainment Weekley are the only ones I read with any regularity.
who tags you, yes, you, with this meme. Answer on your blog on in the comments as appropriate.
*Somehow, when I imagine this, it's an inconvenient time for the entire world. Like everybody is pissed off to see my pregnant self as if I'm polluting the gene pool at a time when we particularly don't need that. That's what makes that one irrational. And as far as I can tell, nobody flunks out of law school, not even the kids who appear to be trying.
Something beach-read-y would probably be perfect. If I don't get a suggestion I like more, I may get Harry Potter 6 since the movie is coming out, but I'd like to do something I haven't read. At the same time, it needs to be amusing enough to make me not hate life when I'm stuck in traffic.
I like mysteries, soft sci-fi and contemporary fiction, not so much the romance fan.
For non-fiction it would have to be, like, Freakonomics-level entertaining.
1. Giving is better than recieving, and sometimes helping somebody out is the best anti-depressant there is.
2. Sometimes giving one's time is the best gift of all, and the most appreciated.
3. Those who a machinating, particularly young people, should bear in mind that someday, all the scheming and drama will be retrospectively hilarious.
4. Logic is just plan lost on some people.
5. Sleeping in doesn't necessarily cure all, but it does tend to help with symptoms.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Also, I had to drop the SmartCar off at the Mercedes dealership where everybody is a complete dick. Now that SmartCars are more well-known (Or maybe because I've only left the DC Metro area once since August) people don't ask me about the car as much as they used to. So now the most annoying thing about owning a SmartCar has become getting it fixed. There's a problem that keeps turning the check engine light on and theCSO thinks that if the car becomes legally a lemon we should have the paperwork to prove it.
And because Mercedes owns Smart and Smart has no repair shops of its own, tonight I dropped the SmartCar off at the Mercedes dealership with a service department that closes at seven in the fastest growing region of the DC metro area, where they don't touch SmartCars on Saturdays, can't fax you a service history and will, eyes gleaming, give you the third degree to make sure you haven't violated your warranty because it would be totally awesome if they didn't have to cover the repair. Oh, and last time they attempted to fix this problem, they freaking LOST my car and Joe-the-Math guy and I awkwardly stood around the service department for like half an hour, calling theCSO to ask him if he was quite certain the guy he had talked to was Jim and that Jim hadn't said anything about, oh, vaporizing the car.
What was weird was that I came home tonight and watched an episode of "Criminal Minds" where there was a serial killer targeting people who drove fancy cars. The juxtaposition might have been funny had it not been the most depressing episode ever. As it was, it was just kinda darkly ironic. Besides, I don't mind people who DRIVE fancy cars, clearly it's the guys who FIX fancy cars in the Tysons Corner area who are complete tools.
My better nature says that probably the root of the problem is that Mercedes customers are, on the whole, complete tools themselves and the Mercedes "customer service" people treat Smart customers like crap as a sort of vacation from the slavish service they give their REAL customers.
Hell, I can understand that. In college, I spent a very unhappy month folding neckties in the men's department of a department store at Christmas time.
This job has exactly two benefits:
1. The long crazy hours keep you out of your house.
2. Everyone who went to high school with you works at the same mall that month, allowing lots of opportunities to sneak off and make out with people whom you shouldn't have dated the first time, either. And now they can talk about economics.
But I digress.
Either because I was really good at folding ties or really bad (I never could tell) I was promoted to running the Coach counter for the last few weeks before Christmas. Thinking back, I'm fairly certain those Mercedes customer service guys all shopped for Coach products that season because half of my customers were exactly like them and talked to me like I was their overpriced-leather-goods-bearing-minion. The other half were annoying rubes who thought that I held the key to the magic status products that they could afford. "Is this wallet on sale? How about this one? Is that the REAL price?"
I longed to someday say "Gee, that wallet is COACH and it's CHRISTMAS EVE. Do YOU think it's on sale?"
But the thing is, I didn't, because I'm not a complete tool.
While we're on the subject of not being a complete tool, a guy in CVS who owed me sixteen dollars in change gave me thirty five because he mistook a twenty for a one. My cognizance of the number of study aids a free nineteen bucks could by a girl notwithstanding, I gave him his nineteen bucks back. In a perfect world, this post would be about how that restored my Christmas spirit.
Perhaps I should be trying to cheer myself up.
Ok, let's think of good things.
For example, thanks to the fact that I celebrate "Epiphany" with my parents and LinguistFriend in January, the first phase of my Christmas shopping is almost done. In contrast to my parents who are impossible to please, theCSO's parents and family in general are easy to shop for. I live out my nonfiction-reading fantasies through my father-in-law, who got, for example, a book about Alfred Hitchcock's relationships with women from us last year along with two other books I wanted to read. He likes insightful biographies and "the complete history of something completely random like flutes or coffee that turn out to have a long and interesting past and a wide-reaching impact on our culture" sorts of books. Also, stuff reviewed favorably in "The Economist."
So basically, smart people books that sound really cool, but are close enough to the type of reading that I do for school that I can't stand to read them when I'm at a semester break and don't have time to any other time.
Which is not to say I didn't buy myself a copy of that Hitchcock book, too. I will have to ask theCSO's dad at Christmas if it was any good.
I have not even done our Christmas card. Sigh. (CC designs her and theCSO's Christmas card every year.)
And I'd really like to throw an open house sort of deal on New Year's Day, but I don't know if anybody would be in town or come.
And work is high-pressure and I'm worried about my grades and... and.. and...
Half an hour is up and I'm going to try again to go to bed.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
FWIW Peacebang and Kim Hampton have had really cool things to say. Joel Monka, too.
Ps. A muslim woman was arrested after refusing to remove her headscarf as she entered a courthouse. Sigh.
Monday, December 15, 2008
whose finals are over and who is having a fluff sort of day.
Ps. Shoe and accessory advice welcome.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I wrote YRUU's contribution this year.
It loses something on paper, but oh well.
(Lights come up. VOICEOVER PERSON stands at a mike. As VOICEOVER PERSON talks, ROD, CINDY and the other students are setting up tables and chairs onstage, perpendicular to the audience. Mrs. Denton stands in front of them.)
VOICEOVER PERSON: Portrait of a classroom. The year is 1946 and the place is Binghamton Central High School in Binghamton, New York and it’s a sleepy Friday afternoon in Mrs. Denton’s history class. The assignment was a reading on the wives of Henry the Eighth, a topic fascinating to historians but that has left most of the class daydreaming about tonight’s football game.
One student, however, one special student who would grow up to be a famous UU, has dreams all his own…
(The students take their seats, two or three to a table. CINDY is in the front row. ROD is in the last row. Voiceover can join the students or simply slip offstage. Meanwhile PIANO PLAYER has started to play sci-fi esque music. When everyone has taken his/her seat, Mrs. Denton speaks)
Mrs. Denton: Quiet, class.
(PIANO PLAYER keeps on playing. Students are chattering.)
Mrs. Denton: I said, QUIET!
(Students quiet down. PIANO PLAYER stops, looks nervous)
Mrs. Denton: Good afternoon, class. I hope you’ve done your homework.
(There are general nods. ROD stares off into space.)
Mrs. Denton: Let’s start from the beginning. Can someone tell me what Henry wanted from his wives? Rod?
(Rod jumps up and delivers his lines like a little kid describing a REALLY NEAT MOVIE)
ROD: He wanted to be alone, to read. More than anything. And then one day, he woke up and the palace was totally empty and he ran to his royal library and grabbed a book. But just then, he broke his glasses. He had all the time in the world to read and got only loneliness.
(Pause for a beat. Entire class is staring at ROD. He sits down.)
Mrs. Denton: That’s a very creative answer, Rod. But an incorrect one.
(CINDY waves her hand)
Mrs. Denton: Cindy?
(Cindy stands. For the rest of the show, all students stand when called on and sit back down when they’ve spoken.)
Cindy: The most important thing King Henry wanted from his wives was an heir.
Mrs. Denton (interrupting): Very good, Cindy. Now, Steve, did Henry’s first wife Catharine of Aragon have any children?
Steve: Yes, she had a daughter named Mary. But Mary was raised Catholic and King Henry became a Protestant, so she never got the throne of England.
Mrs. Denton: Excellent, Steve. Sarah, tell us about Catharine of Aragon.
Sarah: She and Henry were married for twenty years, but their only child was Mary.
Mrs. Denton: And?
Sarah: Eventually, Henry really started to want an heir and he thought it was her fault, so he divorced her and married Anne Boelyn.
Mrs. Denton: Very good, Sarah. Rod, what happened to Anne Boelyn?
(Again, Rod stands and delivers his lines in a dramatic manner.)
ROD: She was in a horrible accident and the doctors told her she was horribly disfigured, but when she took off the bandages she looked like a movie star. You see, all the doctors had pig noses, so it was really all about perspective and…
(Cindy jumps up)
CINDY: No! That’s not true at all! Henry got tired of Anne Boelyn and had her beheaded.
(Rod and Cindy sit.)
Mrs. Denton: Cindy? Rod’s answer was not impressive, but that’s no excuse to interrupt.
That said, your answer is correct. Now Anne Boelyn had a child. Who was Anne Boelyn’s child? Steve?
Steve: It was a girl named Elizabeth who grew up to be Elizabeth the first of England.
Mrs. Denton: We will learn a little bit more about her next week. Now, who was Henry’s third child? Sarah?
Sarah: Prince Edward.
(Rod is staring off into space.)
Mrs. Denton: Rod! Tell us about Prince Edward.
(Same line delivery as before)
Rod: He had these creepy powers and he could control the weather and make people disappear into a mysterious cornfield. So the whole palace had to pretend it was his birthday every day and they lived this meaningless, depressing existence and one guy tried to kill him, but…
Mrs. Denton (snaps): Rod Serling? You haven’t studied a BIT of this history. If you don’t start doing your homework, you’re going to grow up to be a big nothing.
ENTIRE CAST suddenly stares at audience and says in unison: OR WOULD HE?
(Piano player plays Twilight Zone theme.)
Voiceover: Greatness does not come only to kings and emporers. Famous Unitarian Universalist Rod Serling wrote television scripts that made people think and consider their values. Because of Rod Serling, Americans considered whether xenophobia might be more dangerous than an alien invasion, that power usually brings new responsibilities, and that sometimes the best way to ruin someone's life is to give them exactly what they think they want. Because of Rod Serling, and because of the Twilight Zone.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
It was our first night in India. We weren't staying in the North very long. I'd brought of few old sweaters to wear in the cooler north part of the country, intending to give them away before I went down south.
But I hadn't brought enough sweaters. I wore every sweater I'd brought that night in the Ranjit, trying to get some sleep, but getting up every once in awhile to try to get the heater working. I would doze for awhile in the cold room, my dreams full of the mystical symbolism of neurochemical reactions to my anti-malaria medication, then I would wake up and fiddle with the heater.
Not everyone's heater was broken, but nobody had a great night of sleep in the Ranjit.
After that, we developed a phrase that would stick with us for the rest of the trip and comes back to me now.
"Have you been to the hotel?"
"Yeah. It was OK."
"Like, Ranjit ok?"
"Better than Ranjit OK."
Ranjit OK was the minimum standard for something not worth actively avoiding. Something Ranjit OK was survivable, but not comfortable. Acceptable, but not awesome. Tolerated, but not enjoyed.
Perhaps the best thing about something Ranjit ok was that feeling of the grizzled veteran, of being able to look at one another and mutter "Ranjit OK?" at unpleasant events that weren't exactly tragedies.
My corporations final?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
If you don't know about woot.com, you should. They typically sell one product a day. It's usually a great deal and shipping is only five bucks. Every once in awhile they do a "woot off" where they sell product after product one at a time over a period of days. It's really fun.
Anyway, the very second, they have a decent-looking electric guitar and amp for $89.00.
It's tempting, but I know people who would like an electric guitar and I know people who would not be annoying about having an electric guitar. I don't know anyone who meets both discriptions. (As much as I love ZombieKid and theGnome, who fall solidly into the first category but not the second.)
who bought HERSELF an awesome coffeemaker and has bought a few presents for other people.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Torture bad, World of Warcraft good. CC have moral delimma.
Good teachers good, Bad teachers bad.
Woot Off good
Sexy Christmas good
Sexy First Couple good too
Snarky apocryphal story about tort law good. Boring local gossip that follows bad.
Sexual Harassment by Captain Hook bad unless Captain Hook played by Patrick Stewart. Then OK.
SCOTUS no listen to crazy people. Good.
CC want to know why they call new automotive chief the "Czar." That title not inspire confidence in solid fiscal management. Joke stolen from CSO.
Corporations bad. Sleep good. CC want gimlet*.
Anyway, Peacebang is writing actual interesting things, so maybe you should check out her blog
because the best I'm going to be able to do is a discussion of the final episode of Boston Legal, which gave the best example of fan service to my baser and stupider desires I've seen since that episode of Bones where there was that scene where David Boreanaz was in the bathtub. (Different base and stupid desire, but still...)
Mmmm... David Boreanaz in the bathtub good.
*What? I'm a sophisticated cavegirl.
Monday, December 08, 2008
This morning, I had a response from someone saying "No you don't, or you would have asked me already."
So I decided to give him the chance to take a crack at the questions troubling me this week.
And why would I deny you the chance to do the same?
Feel free to "pass" on the questions you don't like. We law students do it all the time.
1. How do I justify loving art and goofing off and creature comforts in a world where so many are suffering and I could feed a kid in Africa for a year on what I spent on a painting on Saturday?
2. What’s the deal with my professor asking vague multiple choice questions but insisting that there’s one right answer when sometimes reasonable arguments could be made for up to three?
3. What duties do I have to the rest of humanity? To my family in particular?
4. Could you summarize the analytical framework that goes along with the federal taxation of a company’s loans to employees and shareholders, with specifics on what gets taxed when, and what gets capitalized when if the employee is working on a long-term capital project?
5. Is that old law school maxim “A’ students become judges and ‘B’ students work for ‘C’ students” really true? Because some of us are counting on it as our backup plan…
6. I am, at heart, quite an eccentric and moody person. But I have seen before how much being an eccentric and moody person that people don’t identify with and don’t understand gets in the way of having things I want and connecting with others. What’s the proper balance between living my life as I please and being someone that other people understand and root for?
7. So what’s the deal with corporate takeovers? In general and with specifics.
8. When I come across and idea or a philosophy I don’t get or don’t agree with, I have this little-kid-with-a-broken-alarm-clock need to take it apart, figure out how it works and see what the problem is. I do this by arguing or at least asking pointed questions. Some people think that’s fun and I can talk to those people for hours. But others tend to see me as stupid or a contrarian (or a racist, or a kneejerk liberal or an elitist or… or…) when I argue with ideas that they hold dear. Right now, my solution is to mostly move that nitpicky nature to the internet, but even there are there times when I should just shut it and let people think what they want without bugging them, and agree to disagree before I’ve gotten their argument down to the premises and pissed them off?
9. Is it actually moral for the government to use taxation to socially engineer as much as they do? To what degree should I accept the argument that what the government taxes, it controls? If I should accept, isn't progressive taxation with a deduction for the personal consumption costs of enough for food, shelter and preventative medical care and no other deductions at all the ideal?
Friday, December 05, 2008
(But who's counting?)
Desperate to think about something other than my potential career as a hobo with a J.D., I went to the movies with Jana-who-creates last night and saw "Four Christmases."
It was solidly ok without being awesome. Not nearly as good as "Ghost Town," the last thing she and I saw together.
LinguistFriend's longtime crush Mary Steenburgen was in it and did a good job. Actually, the casting was quite impressive. Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon made a very believable couple with an interesting chemistry.
Maybe I just wasn't in the mood.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Historically: Probably originates from the feast of Lupercal, a Greek fertility festival. Swapping Valentines didn't really catch on until the Victorians.
How do we celebrate: By buying more greeting cards than on any other holiday, little kids exchanging candy, drinking alone in shame or ignoring it entirely.
St. Patrick’s Day
Historically: Catholic Religious holiday. Wasn’t even a bank holiday in Ireland until 1903.
How do we celebrate: Get drunk on green beer or ignore it entirely hoping that this will finally be the year that we go the entire day without our brain spontaneously chanting “We’re Here! We’re queer! We’re IRISH! Get used to it!”*
April Fools Day
Historically: The purpose of the holiday was to fuck with people who used the wrong calendar
How do we celebrate: Rubberband your favorite coworker’s chair to his/her desk, disbelieve news stories or ignore it entirely.
Historically: Cultural Holiday started in 1912 to celebrate mothers
How do we celebrate: Call Mom and/or take her to lunch. Really good kids buy presents. Bad kids ignore it entirely.
See above, more or less
4th of July
Historically: Patriotic speeches, parades, picnics. Has been celebrated in some form or another since colonial times, but has only been a federal holiday since 1931
How do we celebrate: Patriotic speeches, parades, picnics. Public drunkenness and the occasional fireworks injury. A very hard holiday to ignore entirely, at least in my hometown.
Historically: Celtic harvest festival and the day before All Saints Day
How do we celebrate: Give candy to kids, get drunk in costume or ignore it entirely
Historically: Technically started with the Spanish having a mass to celebrate having arrived in Florida safely, but most people focus on some crap about the Pilgrims that mostly isn’t true. Wasn’t celebrated on the third Thursday in November until 1940.
How do we celebrate: Turkey, football, watching the Macy's parade and trying to explain the whole “Smallpox-infected blankets” thing to kids.
Historically: Started in 1966 as an African-American cultural holiday.
How do we celebrate: Light candles, read African poetry, have a feast or ignore it entirely.
As far as I can see, almost all American cultural holidays are about:
2. Getting wasted
3. Pandering to little kids
4. Hanging out with your family and/or friends.
5. Smatterings of ritual here and there
6. Ignoring said holiday.
in some combination or another. The American cultural holidays that even existed 100 years ago weren't celebrated at all the same ways with the possible exception of Independence day and maybe Thanksgiving.
As far as I can tell, Kwanzaa is about all of the above excepting possibly getting wasted.
In this context, how the hell is Kwanzaa any phonier than MOST of America's cultural holidays?
who has no plans to celebrate Kwanzaa now or ever, but geez...
*Oh Crud, now it's in my head.
I intended to post this like a month ago, but I forgot. Jana-who-Creates' parents were up visiting for Thanksgiving and we had dinner with them and Joe-the-Math-Guy, who came to visit us. It went really well and I even tried giblet gravy because that's the kind of good sport I am.
I had hosted a brunch that morning for their family and my family, which went well enough though I was a total mess for the entire time my brothers and my best friend's parents were in the same house as I was fairly certain Oliver would break out the social views he picked up in prison and I really wanted Jana's parents to think I was OK. Friendship is like dating in a lot of ways, though thank goodness the standards are lower.
They liked me fine, but theCSO was the really big hit, which is often the case.
Anyway, here's Jana's Mama with Obama. (I had to say it again.)
Monday, December 01, 2008
Started my own blog
Slept under the stars
Played in a band
Watched a meteor shower
Given more than I can afford to charity
Been to Disneyland/world
Climbed a mountain
Held a praying mantis
Sung a solo
Watched lightning at sea
Taught myself an art from scratch
Adopted a child
Had food poisoning
Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
Grown my own vegetables
Seen the Mona Lisa in France
Slept on an overnight train
Had a pillow fight
Taken a sick day when not ill
Built a snow fort
Held a lamb
Gone skinny dipping
Run a marathon
Ridden in a gondola in Venice
Seen a total eclipse
Watched a sunrise or sunset
Hit a home run
Been on a cruise
Seen Niagara Falls in person
Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
Seen an Amish community
Taught myself a new language
Had enough money to be truly satisfied
Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
Gone rock climbing
Seen Michelangelo's David
Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
Walked on a beach by moonlight
Been transported in an ambulance
Had my portrait painted
Gone deep sea fishing
Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
Kissed in the rain
Played in the mud
Gone to a drive-in theater
Been in a movie
Visited the Great Wall of China
Started a business
Taken a martial arts class
Served at a soup kitchen
Sold Girl Scout Cookies
Gone whale watching (though I did see some, once)
Gotten flowers for no reason
Donated blood, platelets or plasma
Gone sky diving
Visited a Nazi concentration camp
Bounced a check
Flown in a helicopter
Saved a favorite childhood toy
Visited the Lincoln Memorial
Pieced a quilt
Stood in Times Square
Toured the Everglades
Been fired from a job
Seen the Changing of the Guard in London
Broken a bone
Been on a speeding motorcycle
Seen the Grand Canyon in person
Published a book
Visited the Vatican
Bought a brand new car
Walked in Jerusalem
Had my picture in the newspaper
Read the entire Bible
Visited the White House
Killed and prepared an animal for eating
Saved someone's life
Sat on a jury
Met someone famous
Joined a book club
Lost a loved one
Had a baby
Seen the Alamo in person
Swam in the Great Salt Lake
Been involved in a law suit and I've been a witness in a criminal trial
Owned a cell phone
Been stung by a bee
Ridden an elephant (I've had the chance many times, but have you ever seen an elephant ride where the elephant didn't look depressed and miserable?)
Read all three volumes of the Lord of the Rings
My additions to the list:
Visited the Taj Mahal
Performed in a dance recital
Been on horseback while the horse jumped over something
Won an athletic competition
Gotten a straight-A report card
Prayed to Zeus
Watched news coverage, rapt, to see what was going to happen
Gotten lost in a building more than 500 years old
Kissed somebody milliseconds before bells started to ring
Joel Monka's additions to the list
Made love in a moving vehicle (For the sake of argument, let's say sailboats count as vehicles)
Created something you know you'll never better
Held a pet while they died
Walked the Promenade Des Anglaises in Nice
Patrick Murfin's Additions to the list:
Graduated from college
Been in Prison (Only in the most technical sense. I spent a night in a newly-built jail one time to help them train gaurds. It was fun.)
Written the Great American Novel
Ridden the rails In the train sense, yes. In the colonial punishment sense, no.
Seen that Alaska
Been booed and/or heckled
Been elected to public office
Saturday, November 29, 2008
broke the speed record for a flight across America, going from LA to
DC in an hour and four minutes.
Upon landing at Dulles, they handed the plane over to the
Smithsonian. Those Air Force guys have style, us gotta give them that.
to see the UFO model from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
FWIW, that white thing behind it is the Space Shuttle Enterprise.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
_Leslie Owen Collier of Charleston, Mo., who pleaded guilty in 1995 to unlawfully killing three bald eagles in southeast Missouri. He improperly used pesticide in hamburger meat to kill coyotes, but ended up killing many other animals, including the bald eagles. Collier, who was convicted for unauthorized use of a pesticide and violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, was sentenced Feb. 2, 1996 in the Eastern District of Missouri.
Snark aside, the whole list is worth a look. It's a very strange-looking group of people. I wondered at first if the folks on the list had tons of support within their communities, but the air force drug dealer is from literally two miles from me and I've never heard of him.
Best snarky comment gets a used book.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
If someplace won't accept food stamps, I won't shop there.
This policy started the first time I lived alone, which was in New Orleans. Metairie, actually, if you know the area. I lived close to a large, somewhat dirty supermarket with a French name that oozed local charm. I went there a few times, until Katy-the-Wise pointed out the food stamp policy, explaining that part of local charm was discouraging some of the locals who were percieved to be less charming from shopping there.
The fact that I was living at the poverty line didn't really play into it. I was a grad student. I was just visiting the poverty line and was free to leave it on my next turn. That said, I do have a mom who works in low-income housing and has for most of my life. Various realities about poor people, at least the ones my mother works with in Anacostia, were dinnertime conversation for my entire childhood. (Though once or twice, I was informed in hushed tones that there was a gang war going on, but that I shouldn't inform my father because "it might upset him.")
Anyway, I formed a policy, left local charm behind and started shopping at the Kroger with the hoi polloi.
Years later, I would see with annoyance that my local supermarket here in Northern Virginia had suddenly stopped taking food stamps. I asked the manager about it, and he showed me the paperwork. Nobody had used food stamps at that location in the last year, and the government had removed my supermarket from the program. Wasn't even their decision.
OK, fine. I still shop there.
But I also sometimes go to Costco. Indeed, at this very second, I am typing this while lying on a mattress that was purchased at Costco.
And now I read on the Consumerist.com that they don't take food stamps.
To be honest, rationalization was my first reaction. It's Costco, I thought. They treat their workers well, they have cheap stuff and the return policy of the gods. I really like Costco and always have.
I had about convincd myself that the occaisional trip might still be OK, when I started to check out the comments on the story.
...Reduce Government involvement and complexity. Keep distance from entitlement recipients. Remain profitable. This is why Southwest Airlines doesn't accept foodstamps either...
...I am not trying to be a hard ass here but what business does someone drawing government assistance (READ: OUR TAX DOLLARS) have shopping at a pay-to-shop membership club?
...Apparently Sam's Club does not accept food stamps either, and only some BJ's locations do. I wonder what percentage of folks on food stamps have huge freezers?...
...It seems like anyone on food stamps smart enough to stretch a dollar, find the best deals, figure out if cost's fee is worth it, etc. Would be smart enough not to be on food stamps...
...While there are some exceptions, I don't think most poor people remain poor because they are smart and disciplined...
...the lines at that place are already insane, do you really want to be 3rd in line behind some heifer with 100+ items which are 50% food stamp and 50% not food stamp, but 100% mixed together? Even they manage to integrate the check out, I've been in line at the grocery and had to watch the idiots put back piles of non-edible stuff that they suddenly realized is not covered and that they have no way to pay for. ...
...the poor with food stamps bring more trouble than any lack of fees is worth. whether it is shoplifting or purchasing of only low margin items/ghettoizing the atmosphere of the store..its just not worth it. if it were, they would have accepted them from day one...
And I'm realizing, I don't want to shop with these people.
who cherrypicked some of the nasty comments, but there were lots and lots to choose from.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
1. Began with cat yowling at some unGodly hour.
2. Traffic jam
3. Busted copier at work
4. Generalized crankiness at work due to (3)
5. Project Runway isn't coming back anytime soon.
6. My billable hours are insufficient
7. My tax and contracts outlines are laughable.
8. There are depressing stories all over the place.
9. I have contracts class tonight
10. Smartcars take a lot of damage from deer and are costly to fix.
11. A 29-year-old guy recently died of natural causes half an hour after being repeatedly tasered by the cops. The depressing part about that is that it is FAR from the most depressing story about the cops tasering people that I've heard recently.
Love and Kisses,
I actually posted this awhile ago just because I thought it was funny. Wanda Sykes is really awesome. But this portion of one of her comedy routines becomes all the more poignant given that she has recently come out, saying:
"Now, I got to get in their face. I'm proud to be a woman. I'm proud to be a black woman, and I'm proud to be gay."
Sykes also said that she had kept her private life to herself, but took the passage of proposition 8 as an attack. I'm sorry that she couldn't continue to keep her private life private if that was her first choice, but I'm glad to have strong voices like hers on the side of what I believe in.
Anyway, yay Wanda!
Ps. Speaking of awesomeness look who lost his Senate race!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Corporations class is like this.
Anyone up for a night at the theatre?
The Obama girls are touring potential schools. CC's pick Sidwell Friends and Fausto's pick Georgetown Day are both on the short list.
If you followed the Clinton campaign at all, you might be dubious at The Daily Beast's Choice to hire Mark Penn to do a survery on sexism. But they did, and he found that American women are pissed off.
Are you sure it isn't just because they were talking to Mark Penn?
Monday, November 17, 2008
Hat tip to Kate-the-Lawyer, who sent me the link to that.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Robert A. Heinlein
What would you include if you were writing this sentence yourself, for someone living today?
Write a love letter,
Iron a shirt,
Amuse a child,
Format a Word Document,
Mix a gin gimlet,
Fill out a tax form,
but above all,
Saturday, November 15, 2008
5 ways that Sandman changed the world.
I totally need to reread that series. This is where I would usually give you a link to amazon and encourage you to click and buy, but in honor of Edie-who-sells-books, I'm going to tell you to go to your local comic book shop instead. And buy, because seriously, y'all, Sandman is great stuff.
In other news, a trade paperback from a comic called "Y:The Last Man" appeared in my house at some point. I guess it's theCSO's. Or if you've stayed in my house recently and it's yours, let me know. Anyway, I was thumbing through and saw that a character has a zippo lighter with "Fuck Communism" engraved on it and I felt super cool because I knew what that was a reference to.
Then I realized I SERIOUSLY needed to re-examine my definition of "Super cool"
Hat tip to Jason Pitzl-Waters' Twitter Feed for the Sandman link.
who can't believe she just hat-tipped a twitter feed, but there you go
Ps. This may be a Gen-Xer thing, but have you guys ever found yourselves liking a really stupid pop song from your younger years at least partially because you have happy memories of making fun of it with your college friends?
I've noticed that in a decade's time, my ironic appreciation for this lame song has become unironic and it's weirding me out.
Long time readers will recall that I've been following this case for a long time, but I forgive you if you've forgotten the details as I think I'm the only one in my blogosphere who is following it.
If you need a refresher, here you go:
Remember the Corey Maye case?
CC presents the other side on Corey Maye
Wahoo! Cory Maye gets at least part of a new trial
Need something to be outraged about? Click here.
If you've been wondering who this chap Corey Maye is...
Does anybody here know how to open up a legal defense fund?
Friday, November 14, 2008
Is anyone else participating? I'm fine with walking with Georgetown's team, but it would be fun to walk with some Chalicesseurs, too.
who will probably hit you up for money after she's registered, but right now is merely looking for some walking buddies.
who is by nature a fairly debt-averse person.
The Washington Post ran a good article about the DC Public school closest to the White House. It is not, to put it mildly, a typical example of DC public schools.
I'm still pulling for Sidwell Friends, though. I was an extremely strong advocate of public education until I got to know some YRUUers who go to Sidwell Friends. I have a fascination with the place now. My YRUUers who go there, and the friends they have brought to YRUU activities, have been really impressive and all seem so articulate on a wide range of subjects. And they LOVE their school. I really want that for Sasha and Malia.
I find myself thinking about Michelle Obama a lot, too, hoping she's able to find things to do as First Lady that will take advantage of her serious intellectual horsepower. I kinda think I would hate being First Lady. To me, it just looks like eight (knock on wood) years of trying to avoid screwing up. The chances to distinguish yourself and do actual good seem slim, and even if you do distinguish yourself and do actual good, people hate you. (cf. Eleanor Roosevelt.)
That said, Michelle's a good deal more polished and less awkward than I am. Plus she did better than I'm doing at a law school that's harder than mine. I'd say such a person will probably be able to figure something out.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Your result for Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test...
41% Logical, 37% Spatial, 29% Linguistic, 51% Intrapersonal, 18% Interpersonal, 47% Musical, 18% Bodily-Kinesthetic and 12% Naturalistic!
"This area has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities. Those who are strongest in this intelligence are typically introverts and prefer to work alone. They are usually highly self-aware and capable of understanding their own emotions, goals and motivations. They often have an affinity for thought-based pursuits such as philosophy. They learn best when allowed to concentrate on the subject by themselves. There is often a high level of perfectionism associated with this intelligence.
Careers which suit those with this intelligence include philosophers, psychologists, theologians, writers and scientists." (Wikipedia)
Hat tip to Earthbound Spirit.
Suffice to say:
1. I probably spoke too soon about the Mormons. As much as I hate the idea of spending church money on those ads, it was legal for them to do so. Probably it should remain so. I have a basic mistrust of the idea of 501(c)3s using their money to lobby for things and tend to think lobbying groups should be separate from religious and charitable organizations so that you can give to the second without giving to the first. But that's not the way the law is written and I think most people would probably disagree with me.
I know a little bit about lobbying, what works and what doesn't, and I think a vast majority of lobbying money and efforts are for all practical purposes wasted. I think the UUA and the UU organizations that do it could be actually helping people with the money and time they spend on it. If nothing else, it doesn't encourage me to give them any money.
The Mormons spent a lot of money that could have done a lot of good, but their ads were effective in getting the legislation they wanted. Yet at the same time, I wonder if ten years from now even they will consider it a good investment.
2. As much as I hate it when UUs say "People are suffering, clearly we should lobby the government to do something about that" rather than trying to solve the problem themselves, that also is legal. Things do happen in UU churches sometimes that run afoul of the law as written, but we don't make a habit of it. Yes, most of us could string together a few anecdotes and make it SOUND like a habit, but a few anecdotes in a lifetime of churchgoing does not a habit make.
3. The stories written by life-long Mormons who are leaving the church over the proposition 8 issue break my heart and I hate to think we do that to people on the other side politically, though I know we do.
4. I agree with Joel that UUs, particularly President Sinkford, have gone over the line in the past in delineating "good people who agree with me vs. everybody else who is racist/classist/all around stupid/evil." Joel's example of Sinkford writing that those who agree with him on illegal immigration are "people of conscience", and are "called to acknowledge that racism has blinded most Americans" seems a good example to me.
I would never want such statements to be in themselves a violation of our tax status, but I really think they suck and do more damage to the church than most people who agree with them realize.
5. I think lobbying gives us something to point to that "We" are doing to help those in need without actually doing any work.
So I hope that helps. I should have been clearer on some of that stuff from the beginning.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Mid-post, I read a little more on how much the LDS church had actually done, and I shifted my position to "Hell, yes, it's in a large part their fault, and we should SO be taxing them as a grassroots political organization if they plan to act like one."
It didn't hurt that what the LDS church did to convince me that the LDS church needed to be taxed is pretty much exactly the stuff I've been trying to talk the UUA out of doing for years.
Anyway, there was one thing that really surprised me in all of the coverage I was reading. The term "marriage" aside, the Mormons said they were cool with gay rights.
The LDS Church has articulated it is not “anti-gay” but rather pro-marriage and it “does not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights.” On November 5th, Elder L. Whitney Clayton stated the LDS Church does not oppose “civil unions or domestic partnerships.”
So EqualityUtah is calling them on it. They are proposing five bills carefully tailored to giving gays rights that the LDS church has said it is OK with in official statements.
So far, the LDS church isn't commenting on the proposed bills.
who really admires people who, rather than just bitching and complaining about something like this, look at the situation and come up with a way to build anew. So many people, CC included, just get stuck on something bad that happens. CC eventually moves on, but not as quickly as she wishes she did.
"It's the night of the 19th," I said. "There are inaugural balls all that week."
"Of course," Jana-who-Creates put in "So people can go to MULTIPLE inaugural balls"
"Well, yeah," I said. "That way you can amortize the cost of the dress across multiple events."*
"You think that people who go to MULTIPLE BALLS wear the SAME DRESS?" Jana asks.
"I was planning to, if I went to two," I said.
"Maybe they have friends who are the same size and trade dresses with them." Jana suggested.
Eventually, we started talking about YRUU.
*It's a testament to my nerdiness that when I talk like this, nobody bats an eyelash.
Monday, November 10, 2008
First off, Not African-Americans.
I know, I saw the CNN numbers, too. And they look pretty scary. 70 percent of African-American voters voted for proposition 8. But at the link above, a writer named shanikka at DailyKos breaks the numbers down, and the assumption that the African-American vote made enough difference to swing that election just falls apart.
It's been 5+ years since I had statistics, but her numbers look good to me.
The lack of support among African-Americans didn't help, I'll grant you, but it wasn't a deciding factor. All other things being equal, I'd rather think low things about people of my own color, so I'm regarding this as good news.
Besides, the "I voted for your civil rights so you should vote for mine" is about a two on Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development and I prefer to make my voting decisions at roughly a five.
The other favorite bad guy is the Mormon Church**, and I'm having a lot more trouble letting them off the hook, at least partially because I don't even like MY church meddling in politics even when I agree.
I really, really, think the Mormon Church, and indeed any church that takes a stand on a specific candidate or bill, should be taxed as a political organization.
Katy-the-Wise and I had an argument about this a few days ago, and I don't even feel like I lost*. She argued that taxation gave the government a level of control over the church that they shouldn't have. IMHO, lobbying just isn't a spiritual or charitable practice and non-spiritual and charitable practices of churches need to be taxed.
Also, I don't want to hear any more about politics in church than I have to. I don't want the candidates to have to pander to religion any more than they have to. I don't want candidates feeling that they need to suck up to ministers and I don't want ministers tempted with the sort of earthly power that asskissing politicians would be offering.
*If you don't know her, trust me on this, to argue with Katy-the-Wise is pretty much always to lose.
**FWIW, there are approximately 750,000 members of the Church in California (including those members who are not old enough to vote). The population of California is approximately 36,553,200, making Mormons about 2% of the population. That said, even if every Mormon of voting age voted yes on Prop. 8, they would only have been responsible for about 4% of the total number of voters who voted yes.
I've been off-and-on rereading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead recently. It's a very strange book that does some odd things to make its points. The one that gets me the most is a newspaper columnist who writes about architecture who is a fairly recent college graduate and the daughter of a partner in a famous architecture firm but is widely regarded as both an expert and an impartial judge of architecture for reasons I haven't grasped yet. Also, she spends much of the book with the theory that the foolish public would never, ever accept what is essentially modern architecture. (Though she thinks it's great.) The Fountainhead is set at a time when modern architecture was still a fairly new thing in America, but had been thriving in Europe for decades, which one would think even a reviewer fresh out of college would have known, to say nothing of an expert. And the book was written in the forties, when modern architecture was pretty well established even in America. And of course, the style she is so certain the public could never accept, or one very much like it, became the dominant architectural style for the rest of the century.
I get that we're supposed to see the folks who like modern architecture as visionaries that are ahead of their time, but the sheer pervasiveness of modern architecture by even the time the book was written serves to make the characters who say it's never going anywhere come off as crazy* (or at least a little stupid) to my reading, though I get that they're not supposed to.
But one of the things I can appreciate about the book is that everyone is tremendously passionate about architecture one way or another in an unrealistic but at least fairly logical way.
I would not say that I'm passionate on the subject, but I know a little bit about it because the history of architecture tracks art history to some degree, also I tend to hang around with engineers.
Anyway, I really enjoy when some website throws together a long list of cool-looking buildings around the world, and a few that are just plain funny-looking. The only one of these I've ever actually been to is one of the less cool ones, the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
So go, look, enjoy, and feel free to clue me in about what's going on with the Fountainhead, if only to tell me to improve my willing suspension of disbelief.
*She believes that greatness, such as the main character's architecture, is doomed to fail and will be destroyed by the 'collectivist' masses around them. So she feels she has to destroy him herself so he will be destroyed by someone who loves him, since his destruction is inevitable. I have known a couple of women who let love make them so incredibly axe crazy that they might well have found this logic acceptable, but it just seems so silly given the subsequent ubiquity of modern architecture.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Though I'm not generally a fan of Joys and Concerns, I was pleased that today we asked those who had served in the armed forces to stand and gave them a round of applause in honor of Veteran's Day.
I had an interesting argument over politics in church the other day with Katy-the-Wise. I hope I held my own, but one usually doesn't in arguing with her.
I'm glad the lay service is over, as much fun as it was. Now I just have to write the Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre show for next year.
Oh yeah, and work and study.
One time when I was a kid, my mother casually mentioned that once I graduated from high school, I would probably never see my friends again. She explained that it was a part of life, you moved to college and wouldn't have time to write letters. Long distance phone conversations were expensive.
I'd get over it, she reasoned. I'd make new friends.
At the time, this conversation really upset me.
If I could go back and tell my twelve-year-old self a few things, I would explain how by the time I graduated from high school in 1996, e-mail would have revived letter writing to some degree and long distance would be cheap.
I see the internet and the cell phone as the two most important technological revolutions of the last 50 years, and it's interesting to me that they are both technologies that relate to connecting people to one another. There has been plenty of other innovation in almost every imaginable arena of American culture, but what has really changed lives is the ability to contact one another at virtually any time and the ability to exchange and collaborate on information over the internet. Cell phones, and particularly the internet, have been a defining technology that has changed the world much as the car and the printing press changed the world before.
If the degree of change is hard to get your head around, consider that, for example, soldiers in remote battlegrounds learning instantly of a peace treaty is for all practical purposes a brand new thing. For a famous example, the Battle of New Orleans was fought a full two weeks after the treaty of Ghent was signed in Belgium.
Anyway, the internet is a new medium for human expression, and I tend think most of the praise and criticism it gets is misplaced for that reason. While a sad book can make me cry, I don't have any illusions that the book itself is doing that. It is merely a medium for human expression. The internet, like any medium, simply reflects aspects of human culture back on us. For example, I'm confused by people who are concerned about violent video games given that executions were a form of public entertainment for thousands of years in a huge number of cultures.
But one can, with admittedly some oversimplification, put the idea of an entirely new medium of near-universal communication into a framework of human history and scientific progress that explains a lot of the cultural weirdness of the late 20th century and a lot of human behavior now.
For me, at least, the explanation starts with an apple.
(Thow apple into the air, let drop)
We all knew when I let go of the apple, it was going to do that. But why?
A few thousand years ago, the average person would have said that it was love that attracted the apple to earth, the center of the universe. At that time, most of human interaction was face-to-face or in letter form. With the written word, people were able to transmit ideas across distances, though a public speech remained the most efficient means of getting a message to spread widely in a local area.
By the 9th century, Persian and Indian scientists had some idea of Newtonian physics, but until the Renaissance, for the rest of the world the universe was a place that we assumed was ruled by love and God's will. It must have been a comforting existence to be a part of a massive symphony with God as a conductor.
It's probably not a big surprise that when both the printing press and the Newtonian view of the universe came into being that there were a whole lot of revolutions and the idea of democracy seriously started to take root.
Newton's explanation for the apple was different. He took love out of the picture totally, explaining that the apple fell because all matter in the universe attracts all other matter in the universe, and indeed, the same force that might bring an apple down on Newton's head is impacting the orbit of the moon. In Aristotle's vision, the ethereal heavens had their own unending circular motions, totally unworldly and separate from our world of earth, air, fire and water. Newton showed that the same laws of nature apply to earth and sky, to apple and moon. A mechanistic universe.
The newly invented printing press was the medium of that era, and the sudden rise of cheap publication took Newton's ideas of a world where everything followed rules and the universe functioned like an extremely sophisticated machine all over Europe, and indeed the world. Of course, it also produced pamphlets that suggested Marie Antoinette was having lesbian affairs with the ladies of her court, rumors that historians deny but that at the time fueled the hatred for the French monarchy and likely made the French revolution a good deal bloodier than it had to be. Far be it from me to suggest that a more sophisticated view of the world necessarily makes us more reasonable. The printing press' contemporary critics understood that much.
Still, I'm sure you can imagine the comforts of a mechanistic universe. Everything happened because of something else, with God as a master engineer. There was a finite amount of stuff to figure out about the universe, and once we figured out on giant explanation, we would really know what was going on. Further, with the spread of all this knowledge and the rise of the middle class, common people were suddenly equipped to lead. Thus the rise of democracy and the reformation.
As if the loss of the idea that love was the force that ruled the universe wasn't enough, at this point we've figured out that the universe does not run totally like a machine and that we may never reach a point where we've figured things out.
That's scary, y'all.
Einstein showed that Newton was wrong, at least partially because his theories didn't properly predict the orbit of Mercury. Thus general relativity was born, and the idea that what scientists had thought were certainties were now strong probabilities. Now, Einstein was working on this stuff a hundred years ago, but it takes awhile for these things to seep into our cultural consciousness. And indeed, nothing has made humanity truly understand the idea that things we thought were certain aren't like the increasing speed of news. Sometime after 9 p.m. on Wednesday, October 22, 2008, Ashley Todd told police that she had been attacked by an Obama supporter. By Thursday morning, the whole country knew about the attack, both candidates had put out press releases. By Friday, the whole country knew that the attack had been a hoax and reporters were busy analyzing how the story had fed on itself and how the campaigns had reacted.
One thinks of Marie Antoinette and wonders how much damage Ms. Todd's lies could have done in a world without a 24-hour news cycle. Maybe a world with non-mechanistic, chaotic aspects that we are increasingly coming to accept needs a medium that gives us 24-hour access to information and resources that let us check our facts.
But much as the ancient world had personal Gods that spoke to prophets and oracles and the Renaissance had Luther declaring "let no priest come between a man and his God," our age also will offer new spiritual directions. It stands to reason that if we have new options for relating to information and new ways of relating to one another, new ways of thinking might be applied to spiritual ideas as well.
Our lay service committee spent a lot of time discussing people's fears about technology. To be honest, I don't really have any. The internet doesn't scare me any more than the printing press does. I think this digital age of ours gives us more choices. And even if some make self destructive or even evil choices, having choice is better than not.
But while the technology itself doesn't scare me, a couple of the possible theological responses to the technology do.
The more obvious of the two is fundamentalism. It seems to me that the world has for some time been in the grip of another iteration of the Great Awakening. People find the choices too scary and want to be told what to do and what to believe, so they reach out for fundamentalism. I'm sure you can think of examples of people who have fled for the comforts of certainty, but I'm guessing that no one in this room considers him or herself particularly susceptible to that.
My other concern is a little harder to explain.
In Norton Juster's delightful mathematical romanace "the Dot and the Line," it's said of the Dot "And she suddenly realized that what she thought was freedom and joy was nothing but anarchy and sloth." Freedom and Joy, and Anarchy and Sloth can easily be confused. I call that confusion "Whateverism", and I am very nervous about people using our chaotic, option-filled universe as a justification for adopting it as a theological approach.
"Whateverism" seems a real possibility for those of us who have accepted the Chaotic as a reality. Unitarian Universalism is based on the freedom of the individual to come to his or her own religious conclusions, a basis which builds in toleration of other religious beliefs. However, it also requires of us that we refuse to tolerate oppression - the refusal to allow that freedom to others. That is the proper limit of toleration.
The limit of toleration is not, on the other hand, the limit of criticism. I think we tend to confuse legitimate criticism with intolerance. It is important to be willing to make a distinction between toleration and approval, to choose between the bad and the good, the better and the best. Tolerance is good and necessary in this shrinking, diverse and chaotic world we live in, but we must not give up our freedom to judge wisely in its name.
I realize that what I'm asking here is for us to live an unambiguous life in an ambiguous universe.
I get that it's a lot to ask.
But the human spirit asks, indeed, demands it of us.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Now that Michelle Obama is a fashion plate, people are clamoring to design her Inaugural Ball Gown.
The Daily Beast decided to let some Project Rumway alumni give it a shot. Of course, they couldn't make it too easy, so the designers could only use Laura Bush’s 2005 Inaugural Ball dress, an American flag, burlap potato sacks and $10 worth of trims
Anyway, the results are here.
who was kinda dissappointed that her big Gay Boyfriend didn't take the contest a little more seriously. No, wait, lots of his serious designs still kinda look like that.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
9:55 IMHO, it's over. Congrats, President Obama. FWIW, he's ahead in the popular vote now.
10:00 Still watching the Senate races...
10:01 Katie Couric is now talking about the race in the past tense. (And she's not wearing pinstripes.)
10:28 CBS just went to Howard University, DC's traditionally black University, where at least hundreds if not thousands of students are cheering and crying and now I'm crying a little too. This is so awesome.
WAHOO!!!! Thank you, Virginia!!!
11:14 Sniffle. I'm a happy girl.
11:23 I didn't like the beginning of McCain's speech, where he talked about race. But the later part of the speech still seems fine.
Honestly, I've been weepy since CBS showed the students at Howard.
McCain gave a good speech, focusing on Unity. For awhile, I could see the guy whose hand I shook that time.
TheCSO observes "this is NOT the time to give Palin the mike"
11:46 Oh, and come next year, there will be 17 women in the US Senate. Not too shabby.
Students from George Washington University are gathered outside the White House, jumping around and cheering.
(At eight I was in the car.)
I am now camped out in front of my TV and intend to remain here until I have to go get theCSO from his precinct. As you can see from the photo, Dr. Frank-n-furter is running my research department.
8:33 I have real mixed feelings about Christopher Shays losing in Connecticut, which the exit polls say he will do by a large margin. Radley Balko says of Shays "Shays has a reputation for being “thoughtful” because he makes a public show of agonizing over big, important votes before casting them. Then, almost without fail, he ends up voting the wrong way."
I get that, but at the same time I really liked having some liberal Republicans around and he struck me as a fundamentally good guy.
8:39 Asshat Virginia Incumbent Democrat Jim Moran and Asshat Virginia Incumbent Republican Frank Wolf are both going to win their elections. Sigh. I would have been fine with losing both.
8:44 Right now Obama has slightly under three times McCain's electoral votes, but McCain is actually winning the popular vote. Electoral math. Sigh.
8:50 Forgot to mention, Liddy Dole is going down in North Carolina. Wahoo! Remind me to tell you about the time in my reporter days I gotcha'd her. It was awesome.
8:54 I had the chance to go to some of the big election watch parties and decided to stay home and blog instead. I am 90 percent OK with that decision. But as I watch the black church in Atlanta singing a Dresden Amen as civil rights leader Andrew Young is saying "This is a victory of faith over fear, grace over greed, and vision over violence," I kinda wish I were there.
I'm not doing well paying attention. It's a good thing I studied this morning. I will have to look over this stuff again.
The professor has asked for election results two more times. I kept my mouth shut.
Some people are already calling VA for Obama. I look forward to doing that, but I'm not ready yet.
During class, the professor asks "have any states been called yet?"
"No," I respond automatically, thus outing myself as someone who was watching the results, not the professor.
Nice one, Einstein.
We're doing 1016(a)5, which is about taxation of premium bonds. It's making my brain hurt.
As of this moment, Obama's winning Indiana.
Chili and biscuits is traditional. I think it started at the Kerry election, when theCSO went to work as a poll worker even though he was really sick. I brought him chili for dinner. Since then, I've brought him chili every time he works the polls.
I'm so charmed that he's a poll worker every election. It makes me feel snuggly inside. I'm a sucker for a guy with a sense of civic responsibility.
It was fun to bring him his chili and kiss him hello. He said that the turnout has been immense, even though there were so many absentee voters.
In other news, Ralph Nader and Joe the Plumber are clearly having some sort of contest to see who can be the biggest chode.
Left work a little early because one of the associates needed some papers dropped off with an attorney who was on my way to school. I managed to drop the papers off without getting lost. I will take my victories where I can get them.
I can tell the anticipation is bugging the anchors on the news channel almost as much as it is bugging me.
I've written a few more letters and I go hang out with one of the lawyers for a bit.
We talk about the election in general terms, how nasty things have been and how we can see rational reasons to vote either way, so we don't understand why anybody really cares about William Ayers and such. I feel like there are people all over the country having exactly the same conversation.
At some point, the talk moves to our families and she says:
"My mother-in-law and sister-in-law found a plastic surgeon who is having a mother-and-daughter special. By the time I go down for Thanksgiving, they're both going to have new boobs."
Now THAT conversation might be unique to us.
On a more serious note, read this beautiful thing that a Chaliccesseur sent me. Especially if you're voting in Virginia as I did.