So I'm into the second month of the new year and my new year's resolution has finally come to me. I need to start prioritizing better, eliminating non-essential e-mail and other activities, and generally managing the little free time I have much better. (Yeah... The irony of writing this all in my pointless blog is not lost on me.) The shortness of life is more salient each year and I've been wasting a lot of time and energy on things that probably won't matter in 30 years.
So this year I resolve to stop spending time sorting and categorizing the thousands of songs, pictures, and documents on my PC. I'll stop spending so much time on Slashdot and other sites, reading things I don't need to. I'll unsubscribe from mailing lists I don't have time to read, let alone act upon. I'll focus my modest political activism on Global Warming (which will likely matter more than any other cause in 30 years) and fighting the moronic/evil forces that won't acknowledge the problem. And I'm going take the reclaimed moments to spend as much time with the kids as I can find.
2006 checked out with the departure of two great Americans: James Brown and President Gerald R. Ford. (They say famous people always die in threes. Would that make Saddam the third?) I will certainly miss the Godfather of Soul the most, but I was moved by the response to Ford's passing and the way it reminded us all of simpler times in politics, before partisanship trumped honest debate.
The remembrance made me long for an era before pundits and politicians figured out how to turn American against American, fooling us into believing we have more differences than common interests. Would it be too much to ask to get the Republican party back to political center? Somewhere in the neighborhood of Clinton. Bill was too centrist for my tastes (despite the absurd imagination of the wacko right, calling him liberal), but at least a majority of America's voters seemed represented rather than Bush's (dupped and increasingly remorseful) 51%. In a landscape of moderate politics nobody gets everything they want, but at least we do some real work on the issues we all agree on.
What a great privilege it was last night to not only see Thomas Dolby play live (I never thought I'd have the chance), but to shake hands and thank him personally for his music. Wish I hadn't been quite so hammered on Patrón when the opportunity arose, but I think I did a passable job of expressing my gratitude. It must be a huge sacrifice to leave his family for so long while on tour, but his fans deeply appreciate the effort.
Dolby's one-man show was more raw and personal than his studio work and really connected to his audience. Having fumbled around with synths and sequencers myself, it was amazing to see how many things Dolby was juggling at once as he built up and manipulated the layers of each song. The only thing lacking in delivery was the beautiful vocal harmonies in his songs. Not a problem though, since I was able to compensate by singing them myself. (Out of my collection of 800+ albums, Dolby's four are among the few I actually know by heart.) Besides the great autobiographical narration between each song, Dolby's performance was full of little treats --like finally hearing Airhead without "go" substituted for "shit" (as in "does the Pope go in the woods?").
I'm not one prone to idol worship, but Dolby's music is deeply personal for me. It's a goofy thing to say, but I feel a special connection with many of his songs. Close, but no Cigar, for instance, seemed to be about my personal life, when it was first released. At the time, my girlfriend of several years was returning to Rio de Janeiro ("the wide Brazilian sky that swallowed you"), much to my sadness. Then there are the more universal messages of songs like Cruel and Weightless; if you can't emotionally relate to those songs, you've got to be a pretty dispassionate person.
Dolby's work has always appealed to both sides of my brain: the analytic, software developer part and the emotive, amateur pianist part as well. His music is unique, unorthodox, and unbelievably hummable/singable. He'll be on heavy rotation at my place for many years to come.
Just when I thought my despair and frustration would never lift, looks like political miracles still happen. Hard to believe the confluence of scandals and luck we've had. Almost makes me grin and wonder if the Dems have a Rovian strategist working behind the scenes. That last gay Republican outing was timing genius! If only we could dominate the pre-election 24-hour news cycles with real issues, we'd win a lot more often.
I wonder if anyone will recognize the leadership of chairman Dean, with his 50-state strategy that had Democratic operations in place --even in the red states-- when seemingly hopeless races suddenly became competitive. Or will beltway insiders ignore his efforts and try to replace him with someone more to their liking?
I had read about this in parenting magazines, but last night, for the first time, I experienced unwanted parenting advice from a complete stranger.
Maxwell was practicing for being a terrible two and started a whining --then crying-- temper tantrum while we were in the bookstore. Naturally, I wheeled the stroller outside and we waited for Jen to finish shopping. After about 15 minutes of sitting calmly, reading the paper, waiting for Max to regain his composure, a group walks by and one of them asks "is that your baby?" I answered "yes" and she asks why he's crying. I explained "he's having a temper tantrum. Babies do that." The nice, but stupid person tells me "you should try holding him." It took a lot of restraint (and reminding myself that she probably thought she was being helpful) to keep from delivering a snide retort like "Wow... What an original, brilliant idea! Thanks Dr. Spock!" or "Oh, does that work with your (imaginary) two-year old?"
Parenting is annoying enough now and then without armchair quarterbacks implying you don't know anything about parenting.
The Chimp-O-matic is alive and well. My best estimate is that the Little Divider is being loaded over 1.5 million times on an average week. I was kind of shocked a few weeks back to see that The Chimp-O-matic
is was even #3 on Google's gadget rankings! Wow, this must be my 15 minutes of Internet fame, eh?
Against overwhelming odds, I didn't play Half-Life2 all weekend while my wife was out of town. Instead I caught up on a few little projects I've been meaning to do for a while. I've added some new flavors of Chimp like an RSS feed and a graphics-only version for sigs. (and any other odd things you might think of). I also added 10 new Bushisms, some funny, some just completely contradictory with his previous statements (can you say Flip-Flopper?).
Next I'm going to add a variety of Chimp heads and a tidy page with step-by-step installation instructions for all the different implementations.
With primaries coming up next week the volume of negative political ads is getting pretty stupid. One candidate exposes the dirty laundry of every lawsuit ever filed against his opponent, claiming it as evidence of financial irresponsibility. Meanwhile, his opponent fires back with a laughable list of every traffic violation the other guy incurred in the last five years. How can you trust a man that ran a red light back in '03 with our future?!?!! Sigh... But it gets worse.
We're also seeing a monthly effort to get our local city commissioner, Steve Gonot, thrown out with a California-style recall petition. Every few weeks a well-funded group of thinly-veiled Republicans sends another petition and pre-paid envelope trying to convince constituents of the necessity of removing an honest man from his second term. Their reasoning? [Take a big swig of the right-wing Kool-Aid to understand this...] They claim he talked about work with another official after hours once. Of course the real reason seems to be that developers are being blocked from "paving the beach" and there's a lot of money to be made by an unscrupulous few in removing the commissioner. I hope everyone's bullshit detectors are working at election time.
I've just returned from the first birthday party I've ever attended for a one-year old. The magic that was Chuck E. Cheese in my youth has become an overwhelming hellscape of screaming children in tight spaces and horrifying, dead-eyed plastic automatons mumbling through a distant P.A. Imagined without the bright lights and wall-to-wall little people, Stephen King would have enough material for a trilogy. It wasn't like that when I was a kid, right?
Well... I knew the day would come. After hammering my little LinkSys 4-port router for months with up to 300,000 hits from over 25,000 unique users every day, it finally fried. Fortunately I had a much newer D-Link router sitting on the shelf. Unfortunately it was there because after a few attempts over the last two years, I gave up trying to get even marginal service from the thing. Fortunately I called D-Link and got what I'd consider amazingly good customer service (and I'm not easy to please) that got everything working. Unfortunately everything didn't include my incoming traffic. My apologies.
I'm not sure if the router is misinterpreting the daily barrage as denial-of-service attacks, or maybe there's a setting that I missed, or maybe there's a real malfunction in the router, but I've found my incoming services (like this blog) seem to come and go. It would be better if it didn't work at all. At least it'd be consistent. Not sure what to do now but keep tweaking and buy yet another router if things don't settle down.
Over the Fourth of July weekend we took a trip to Washington, D.C. We spent most of our time walking from monument to monument, occasionally stopping for a meal at a great local restaurant. Much like Paris, there's always another interesting landmark in sight, begging to be hiked to. And although the last two days were very hot, we had a great time and got to expose Maxwell to museums, art galleries, the zoo, a folk fest, and lots of other interesting sights.
Our hotel was on K Street, not far from the White House, but the smell wasn't that bad and luckily we weren't mugged even once by lobbyists.
A lot of what I read today in the paper and on the Net made me even less hopeful about our nation's future. Saw a poll of teenagers in USA Today's fluffy weekend section that claimed, among other pitiful/horrible things, that 52% of teens think celebrities only pretend to care about charities for self-promoting PR. Sigh... So I guess American idealism is dead.
What an ugly result of an increasingly cynical society ignited into complete distrust of their fellow man by Republican spin. You know, that pathetically hollow rhetoric that you'd have to be retarded --or at least very mentally immature-- to believe. Things like the idea that the sole motivation of Jesus W. Bush's critics is to promote their latest book. Or that climatologists and other real scientists have completely fabricated global warming so they can get rich and famous. You know, like... like... So I can't think of one, but I'm sure there are hundreds of multi-millionaire climatologists sipping juleps in easy chairs down in Antarctica, right? Maybe a conservative reader out there could name a few of these rock star scientists?
Who would think configuring and maintaining a web server could be so difficult? Since realizing that my server was getting slaughtered by the surprising popularity of the Chimp-O-Matic, I've been working hard on moving my site off of Win XP Media Center and getting everything up and running on Windows 2000 Server --a "real" server. So far the experience has been a complete disaster. I've tried everything I can think of, but for reasons beyond explanation IIS works great for several hours and then just stops working! Even more bizarre, despite not being able to get anything but "Server Not Found" in the browser, the machine doesn't log any errors and the IIS server logs show no disruption in service (that I know of). All other services on the machine work and even limiting the hell out of IIS (e.g. no sessions, only 50 users, etc.) doesn't fix the issue.
So... Until I find some cheap ASP.Net hosting (with SQL Server), I guess I'll keep supplying the 80,000+ hits per day for the Chimp-O-Matic with a lousy consumer OS that's limited to 10 simultaneous users. Go figure.
April showers are bringing us lots of out-of-town visitors. This weekend we had a lot of fun hanging out with an old buddy (and his girlfriend) from Seattle, seeing the sites, and eating well. Later this week my folks will be down for a bit (after they stop in Orlando to pay tribute to the Rat), followed by my bio-mom who'll be trading L.A. weather for Fort Lauderdale's.
Jen and I are really feeling the love. We don't get out much with the kid and all, so it's really great to see so many friends and family while standing still.
Ugh... I'm not feeling so well today.
At long last Jen and Maxwell went to L.A. for the weekend and I had nothing to do but play Half-Life 2 all day Saturday. Since I discovered [rather late] the original Half-Life and finished it, I've been salivating for the sequel. However, extremely cheap bugger that I am, I mustered the discipline to delay getting the game for over a year, until I got a new PC and the price of graphics cards dropped significantly. Now that all these elements have converged, I'm obsessed like a junkie. I don't think I ate more than a snack yesterday and couldn't pry myself away from the game until after 3:00am. You'd better believe I had some really crazy friggin' dreams full of alien clones, remote desert locations, and vast conspracies. The experience left me feeling ill --kind of like a kid that's been eating Halloween candy all day.
Tonight I shook Howard Dean's hand and thanked him for waking me up from my political apathy. He gave a speech at Florida International University which was announced on short notice, required an RSVP, and was attended by less than 200 people by my estimate. It was very inspiring to hear his vision for the Democratic Party [from my seat in the third row]. Turns out, despite the bullshit parroted by the RNC and our lazy media, the Democrats have a platform that represents real American values: safety here, strength abroad, social/economic justice, affordable healthcare, protecting the environment, and good jobs for all Americans. These things need to be repeated ad nauseum, the same way Republican talking points are, so that Americans paying only marginal attention to politics begin to understand Democratic Party values. My favorite point Dr. Dean mentioned was that we should always be reaching out to those outside of the party and finding common ground. The GOP has done so well at demonizing Democrats that many of the unwashed masses absurdly think we don't share their desire for a better America. Anyway... I know I'm sounding kinda pedantic, but I really wanted to write a rambling blog entry.
I'm pretty happy to be celebrating another anniversary and Valentine's Day too.
If you'd like the little idiot on your site, just add
<SCRIPT src="http://RyanRusson.com/ws/chimpOmatic.aspx?type=full"></SCRIPT> to your web page.
What does this all mean? If you don't have a web page, not much. If you do, also... not much. If you think George W. Bush walks on water and heals the sick, it probably means the terrorists have won.
O.K. The rumors of my blog's demise have not been exaggerated. But I guess I'll start posting again --as if anyone came here on purpose. I can't remember anything that happened in September, but October was fairly eventful. I started a new job at Learn.com, lost my computer room to the baby, and survived a hurricane, in that order. Wilma came just a week after I started and shut down everything for a week or so. For reasons as stupid as they are numerous (one being the upheaval of moving all my computers to the bedroom), we weren't very well prepared for the hurricane. After three days without power, we were rescued by Jen's folks and spirited away to Lakeland, until civilization was restored. Thanks to a friend heading South, I returned on Sunday night to attempt to go back to work, but Jen and Maxwell got stuck up North about a week longer. Finally, weeks after the storm, almost all the traffic lights are back and all the power restored. You know... Living through a natural disaster really reminds you what's important in life --computers and coffee.
Every day the political news seems a little more discouraging. My exasperated disbelief at what Cheney, Rove, and their network of ghouls can get away with has reached the point of fatigue. Worst of all, although there are small rays of hope like Rove getting some heat for his act of treason and Dumya's growing disapproval rating, overall I don't see us recovering from our political tailspin any time soon. Here's Ryan's short list of reasons why America is doomed to a dark period of right-wing Fascist [a.k.a. Neocon] rule...
- Breakup of the AFL-CIO, and resulting fragmentation of their political power
- The death of the US labor movement in general [maybe that'll be outsourced too?]
- Alarming increases in the autism rate, which means less empathic individuals in our society, which means increased conservativism
- Recent polls of 13-year olds show more conservative attitudes
- Bush-inspired ill will should provide increased terrorism for years to come, leading to more frightened sheep willing to support authoritarianism
- The stunning newly-minted legitimacy of hateful fanatics like Ann Coulter and Pat Robertson
- The Supreme Court will likely be tilted right for a generation by 2-3 Bush appointed arch-conservatives by the end of his term
- Most of our news media is becoming increasingly shallow, stupid, corporate-sponsored, misguided, and irrelevant
- Increasing globalization, outsourcing, China's ascendance, etc. will continue to fuel xenophobia and jingoism as psychological defenses
Lately we're a little too busy to do much politically but look at the latest outrage and sigh. However, occassionally I see something so disgusting that I have to at least voice my displeasure. Tonight I shook my tiny virtual fist and sent this e-mail to my senators considering the repeal of the estate tax:
I’ve always been taught that America is the land of opportunity where anyone, through hard work, can achieve success. For many years now the American dream has been fading as the rift between rich and poor grows (cf. A Brief Look at Postwar U.S. Income Inequality published by the US Census)
Shameless gifts to the rich, such as the estate tax repeal, spit in the face of honest Americans trying to work their way up the economic ladder. Specious arguments such as the estate tax saving family farms are nothing but a sickening effort to candy-coat yet another handout to those least in need and in the best position to give a little back to the great society that made their prosperity possible.
My America is not a land of dynastic power and justice for a price, but a land of opportunity and justice for all. I hope you share that vision.
Well... The wife and kid have left for a week and, although I felt pretty lonely on Friday night, Saturday was truly a red letter day. Not only did my new PC arrive [details to follow], but I built a desk and shelves to house it and I had a great time with my old friend Dave and his wife. We had some good Cuban food and then met a bunch of nice folks up in Jupiter, Florida for some Shakespeare in the Park. It was a constantly amusing rehashing of The Merry Wives of Windsor set in the swinging '70s. I can't remember the last time I saw something so amusing. We've got to start dragging Max off to these things. [Actually, we did take the little guy to a club with some jazz on Monday, which he seemed to enjoy].
After months of waiting, we're a family of three! The basic stats and pictures are available on Maxwell's site: http://MaxRusson.com. He'll probably have his own blog soon too, so the grandparents can follow his every move.
It was the most amazing thing I've ever experienced; Jen is pretty satisfied with the results too. I'll have to write at length about the strange and wonderful experiences of delivery and fatherhood, but right now we're just too wiped out to do much but catch a few two hours naps [whenever possible] and contemplate the next feeding. Can't wait for a schedule to be worked out. And I can't believe I actually changed a poop-filled diaper. If that ain't love, I don't know what is.
What if you lived in a country where you were threatened with physical harm for your political beliefs? Wouldn't you want someone to bring freedom to that country?
We live in that country. On my way home from work tonight, while stopped at a light, I hear honking from the dilapidated car behind me accompanied by "Fuck you!" I turn around and tell the passenger shouting out the window that they can go around me if they like. The guy says "Go fuck yourself!" [must have learned that line from a certain Vice President]. I say "Why?" He says "Your bumper sticker." [I've got a bumper sticker that reads "Enron/Halliburton '04" and looks like the Bush/Cheney re-election bumper sticker. Guess he didn't like it.] So I say "Oh... I see you've already fucked yourself." The moron continues repeating "Fuck you!" several dozen times so I tell him "Follow me home so I can kick your ass!" The honking and unoriginal chorus of "Fuck you" continues [not the most intelligent guys I guess], so I turn up the stereo and just ignore them. Needless to say, they didn't even try to follow me. And there you have the bravery and brilliance of Bush's Fascist youth. How the hell did it get this bad? How long before these rabid pricks start demanding the gas chamber for liberals everywhere?
I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about why blatantly wrong ideas [to my mode of thought anyway] have taken root in the American psyche. Often it seems like madness has a grip on the scores of Americans that excuse or utterly ignore the myriad mistakes and immoral maneuvers of the Bush administration. They look back at us and denounce our point of view in kind, saying we're out of touch with reality. So what's going on here?
The problem is this: the left and the "right" are speaking two subtlety different languages, each steeped in our respective world views. The bigger problem is this: for decades the GOP has been systematically working on co-opting the way we talk about political issues. You will find Democrats and liberals inadvertently using their words, thereby legitimizing the right-wing point of view and losing our debates before they begin. Have you heard a good person mention "tax relief," the "death tax," or "family values" lately? These two word labels evoke imagery and "frame" an argument such that we've lost before we've begun.
Q.E.D. this morning we're watching the bow-tied weasel, Tucker Carlson [somehow our ReplayTV recorded it] and see Harold Ickes, former Clinton adviser, fielding loaded questions from the little creep. Mr. Ickes, a Democrat, responded to questions using Carlson's same twisted language. e.g. "Well… some Democrats are anti-abortion, some are pro-abortion." Um… "Pro-abortion"? WTF?!!?! He makes it sound like we're running around, grinning maniacally, looking to perform impromptu abortions on passing pregnant women. And this guy is on OUR side?!?? How the hell can you win an argument when you phrase it in a way that suggests you've got no respect for human life? A: you can't.
I've avoided writing a blog entry on framing, because there are so many others writing about it and so many excellent resources like the Rockridge Institute working on Democratic framing, but maybe I should. Maybe we all need to be talking about it and pushing the idea constantly. So please, RyBlog 5000 readers, listen and speak carefully. What hidden messages are being conveyed? If you start from the wrong premise, you can only reach the wrong conclusion.
Well... on the cusp of 100K, the Miata is breathing its last. It was a great little car and I had a lot of fun times with it, but now every time I stop for gas the value of the car doubles. I have to check the oil often to see if it's leaked out suddenly, only one speaker works reliably, and occasionally I peel off a little clear-coat where it's starting to flake. Worst of all, the battery has stopped holding a charge for more than 24 hours, so getting a jump is now a way of life.
But... I'm hoping to stretch things out just a few miles more. With some serious discipline [can't tell you how badly I want a big screen TV and new PC] I hope to save up the cash to buy something new next year.
For some time now I've been plagued with violent feelings toward conservatives. If some chromosome-challenged troglodyte were to tell me to my face that I "hate America," I'd be compelled to smash their head into the nearest hard surface. I'd actually love to have an excuse. But you know... It's a little disturbing to own up to these feelings. It's certainly not productive, it's not going to change anything for the better, it's not going to fix our broken political system. Putting myself on the couch for a minute, this is just a dysfunctional way of trying to cope with a problem that's beyond my control. The "right" has done a phenomenal job of making us feel powerless and inferior for even disagreeing with their fascist talking points. It certainly doesn't seem like there's any place for honest debate of issues anymore, so we fall back on primal instincts.
So, if you're a genuine Bush-supporting asshole [real conservatives and true Republicans need not apply --like me, you're cringing at what Dumya might do next] that feels up to a fight, drop me a line suggesting a place and time. I'm in my late 30's, not in the best of shape, and I don't even care if I get my head handed to me --just as long as I feel like I'm doing SOMETHING [as opposed to the seemingly useless activism I've been involved in over the past year].
Maybe I need to work more on my frustration tolerance...
My life has been a constant love-hate relationship with technology --mostly love. My latest revelation is that through undocumented features on my crappy cell phone I can actually do some pretty cool things. It just occurred to me while sitting in an MSDN training on programming for mobile devices that maybe I could download my own graphics and MIDI ringtones just by pointing the phone’s lame web browser to the right URL. Whaddayaknow? And here I was, annoyed for months because my new, ridiculously over-engineered phone wouldn’t let me do a lot of the things I could do with the old one. I still think the moronic, Buck Rogers key layout is the work of Satan.
In the new outrageous annoyances category: my blog has become the victim of daily "blogspam" attacks. What a pain in the ass. Quick synopsis for those of you not up on these things: some jerk is paid to increase search engine rankings for crappy websites you wouldn't visit on a bet. Said asshole uses an automated program to seek out blogs on the web and leave comments that are just long lists of links to his clients’ sites. Google and others base their page rankings, in part, on the number of other websites linked to a given site. Voila --instant search engine popularity. So... Looks like I’ve got to re-write parts of the blog app. to guarantee you’re human before letting you leave comments. Ugh.
So... I'm getting acquainted with Death's younger, better looking brother, Middle Age. Some fun. Lately it seems like every week some new part of me aches, the hair is on its way out, and I'd just as soon stay at home most of the time. I'm beginning to get a vague notion of how someone might get his fill of the living experience and get fed up, exhausted, and ready to move on. [Hmmm... I should probably start a retirement plan.] Haven't been to a doctor in years, but I think it's about time to get a physical and find out how many months I've got to live. Who knows? Maybe they've got artificial backs and other replacement parts by now. Maybe I can trade in my old body parts and relive my misspent youth. We'll see --the insurance kicks in next month.
Hmmm... So I'm wondering again why it is that I write a blog [if you call once a month updates blogging]. I suppose it's some dumb combination of vanity, career development self-study [not getting enough .NET at work lately], nerd entertainment, and maybe some twisted form of therapy. It's certainly not intended for anyone outside my miniscule circle of friends --heck, even my family doesn't visit... Not that I'd blame them; we talk a few hours on the phone every week anyway. Lately the vast majority of my traffic comes from image searches that, oddly enough, list my site as one of the top ten sources for skanky Vanna White images [probably because of a blog post I had months ago with a link to someone else's pictures]. I must be disappointing a lot of people. It's just as well that I don't get any traffic since I'm still a few months away from replacing my pathetic PII web server with something that won't cave under the weight of three visitors. In the meantime, tread lightly.
Anyway... Lately I don't have much to say except that 51% IS NOT A FUCKING MANDATE! I'm more interested in creating new widgets for the blog [see left margin] that do cool things with data, etc. Just added a cheap, yet fun, webcam to the site and finished the long anticipated WeatherGloat 5000© v1.0, which allows me to take pleasure in at least one aspect of living in Florida: the likelihood that my weather is better than yours. I'm also working on turning the Nat'l debt clock into a web service [for your HTML enjoyment] and coding a “currently playing media” widget. Until the kid arrives, what else am I going to do to spastically avoid reality?
So, if you're a weekend psychologist like me, you've got to ask yourself, what's the deal with conservatives; how can they see the world so differently? I would assert that the answer can be summed up in a word: Empathy.
I think that most conservative thinkers, busy condemning welfare mothers and the unfairness of the rich paying higher taxes, are good people that care about their country and community, but are completely unable to put themselves in an empathic position. Because of this they imagine that success in life is a simple paint-by-numbers, requiring only hard effort. Any given street person or gang member can simply wake up one morning and decide to start work on their MBA. Mental illness or personality problems; a complete lack of startup funds and/or a burden of debt; being raised in a culture of violence and low expectations; and having no idea how --or even if-- such a career is possible are no barrier at all, right? "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps" they say. They're missing the fact that some folks don't have boots.
Having an upper-middle class lifestyle and the steps necessary to achieve it are no more obvious to society's lowest echelon than the idea [let alone requirements] of becoming a mathematician is to most of us. And herein lies the problem. The solution isn't to throw more money at welfare recipients; it's to throw them a clue and some opportunity. Something is really wrong when some minority demographics have a better chance of being incarcerated than having a college degree. What the poor of our country need is inspiration, information, and role models. [This is one reason why affirmative action, although not an ideal solution, is a good thing.]
Sure... there are able-bodied, but worthless human beings looking to leech off society and we need to get better at keeping them from sponging off our "safety net." However, putting things in perspective, individual welfare [not to be confused with corporate welfare] is a pretty small slice of the federal budgetary pie. That's why the real crisis is Americans falling short of their promise. We need to empower every American to achieve self-sufficiency and financial success, if they want it.
Can government solve problems like poverty? Probably not, but I'd love to see us try instead of blaming the victim. Wouldn't we all rather pay for an ounce of prevention?
Turns out that liberals have a future in Dick Cheney's America...
They can help us find holes in our anti-terrorism security before they blow their own heads off in the ultimate act of despair and powerlessness. That's the gist of an article I recently read from Reuters. Seriously... The news coverage seemed much more concerned with how Andrew J. Veal got past our supposedly air-tight security than the fact a human being was in so much pain as to take his own life. [update: the Reuters link above died, so I replaced it with a ref. from FreeRepublic.com. Surprisingly, not every post is rife with gloating.]
Say hello to Compassionate Conservatism!
...and watch as we're systematically purged
from every area of government.
Thought about delivering a thoughtful little eulogy for the Democratic party, but what can you say? Them Republicans just have better "branding" and they've won [with a little black box nudge, perhaps?] the market share of the American political system. Welcome to our own glorious one-party system. And remember, we all need to be mindful of what we do and say. Big Bushy is watching you.
It wouldn't be inaccurate to say I've given up. I gave all I could and it wasn't enough. Bush is hard at work [destroying America is hard work] spending his political capitol on things we'll all be financing for generations and I've seen the light --there's no use even trying. My plans to bail are still pretty vague, but I'm looking into it. Last week a reporter from Brazil even called to interview me about my intentions to leave the country. She couldn't believe we'd elected such an incompetent boob either.
Why am I so distraught? It's not because I invested dozens and dozens of hours this year in trying to push politics in a positive direction. It's not because I can't stand to lose a contest to idiots. It's because I've realized we're surrounded by rednecks, religious zealots, and would-be voters, too stupid or too busy to see what's going on. I'm not so sure that's the kind of people I want Max to grow up around. Furthermore, I'm wondering how many years it'll be before the economy tanks. If all the foreign investors keeping us afloat suddenly decided to pull out, our elected [mis]leaders will be treating us to the Great Depression II. Enjoy your bribe --er, I mean tax break.
The rabbit is still dead. Very dead. Jen had an ultrasound this week, confirming the gender [she caught a glimpse of the identifying feature] and general health of the bun in the oven. This is all great news since Jen's earlier “triple screen” test [whatever that is] indicated a minute possibility of birth defects. ETA for Maxwell Dean Russon [nothing to do with coffee or the Beatles, but a nod to our favorite straight-talking politician] is some time in late April. The grandparents are psyched! I think I hear the knitting needles starting in on the tiny blue booties and blankets now...
I've figured out what we need to do. Bush and the companies he represents want to strip mine our environment, force Jesus [and accompanying "values"] on everyone, and screw the economy for most of us. Why not join in? Why resist? You see, the problem with America is that things just aren't bad enough to think about changing anything. Just like a belligerent drunk that has managed to drive home completely smashed several times without death or arrest, we're doing well enough, so there's no need to change or even question our actions. Sure, we hit into a few things on the way home, but by golly, we made it and it's O.K. because we got away with it. We don't have a problem. How would it look, after all, if we admitted we'd had too much and needed a ride? We sure wouldn't be good American citizens if we ever admitted we were wrong about the president's competence, right?
What America needs is to hit rock bottom. We need another great depression, a real war [not stupid military exercises that get us killed for nothing], or some other disaster big enough to scare the shit out of people. I'm not talking about another 9/11 --how many people do you personally know that were killed that day? Didn't think so. Think bigger. We need to hit 50% unemployment, struggle to find food and clean water, have people killed for being homosexual [maybe just for missing church], let the sick and old die in the streets. If enough people are made completely miserable, our intoxicated America will face the stark reality that our democracy has a serious problem.
And so... What I'm saying is that we'll probably have to destroy America to save it. Guess that utterance proves what the right wing has been saying about liberals all along. The bizarre irony is that converting to their side is all we'll need to give our country the final push over the edge. So join me, reformed liberals; write congress and sign petitions to drill Alaska, mandate school prayer, outlaw abortion, and start a draft. Once the Neo-Cons have got all they want and we're all very obviously fucked, maybe we can start on the path to recovery.
Hi, my name is America and I'm an ignorant, issue-ignoring, extremism-embracing country...
Ya know... I've never felt more patriotic in my life than I did yesterday watching people stand in line, waiting for their chance to exercise their freedom. And just hours later, I've never felt more alienated from America. The fascists [honestly, look at their tactics.] have won; darkness has triumphed.
I used to be ready to beat the living shit out of anyone that called me unamerican or said I hate America [because I don't agree with their point of view]. Now that I reflect a little... If loving America means loving its people and current culture, then I do hate America. Shit... I just don't recognize the country anymore. What happened to the culture of tolerance, lively political debate, and rationality? A more horrible president is absolutely unimaginable, but nothing he did or said mattered. The facts didn't matter. The economy didn't matter. Wedge issues, greed, and Jesus carried the day.
So... I think it's time to look for a new home. I know for certain my salary will take a nose dive and it will be hard to adjust, but what else can I do? My weeks and weeks of campaigning and work --and that of the enormous army of volunteers working for Kerry-- didn't matter, so staying to fight is obviously pointless. With any luck, Jen and I can get out in the first big wave of the American brain drain, before the economy and culture are so intolerable that nice countries can't absorb the flood of U.S. refugees. Does this sound crazy? Take a minute to read up on what economists are saying about the debt, how the World Bank is beginning to treat us like a 3rd-world borrower, how a huge percentage of our debt is foreign financed. Jen and I might be sacrificing a lot now, but we'll be in better shape 10 years from now and trading up culturally in the meantime. To hell with mom, apple pie, and baseball --the Republican Party owns them all along with God Himself. It's time we lived somewhere that reflected our values.
I'm not leaving my country --it's already left me.
On November 2nd I will be at the polls as will thousands of lawyers who have volunteered to help the Democratic party insure that every individual who is possibly qualified to vote has the opportunity to do so. The Republican party will also be at the polls. They are paying people to watch the polls and challenge the eligibility of voters.
Please take a look at this New York Times article and ask yourself “is this democracy?” Does this embody the ideals of American freedom you were taught as a child?
It's been an ordinary, yet remarkable week full of simple pleasures and unexpected delights. On Friday I attended a great debate watching party thrown by the Broward Young Democrats. Not only was the food and drink great --the entertainment was not to be missed. The show had a hilarious comic character named Bush that made the crowd laugh hysterically. "You forgot Poland!" Until Friday I was lukewarm toward Kerry, but the debate left no doubt --this is a great man, with a command of the facts, poise, strength, and intelligence [wouldn't that be nice in a president?].
Friday night we trekked up to Lakeland to visit the in-laws, followed by a fabulous [as usual] party thrown by Jen's friend, Julie. Then there were other unusual events of interest like the winning of the Ansari X-Prize, heralding the dawn of personal space travel, and seeing a car in our neighborhood completely engulfed in flames [never did find out the story behind that one].
But the best news of the week is on the media front: Fahrenheit 9/11 is now out on DVD and I'm thinking how fun it would be to buy one for every casual voter I know. If only I was rich enough, I'd hand them out as I go door to door for MoveOn PAC, trying to connect with infrequent Democratic voters [my Saturday entertainment for the next couple weeks]. An even more remarkable new piece of media is William Shatner's new album, "Has Been." I was skeptical, but I'll be damned if it's not the best album of the year. Absolutely incredible, moving, unlike anything you've heard --and funny.
O.K... Does anybody else experience crushing waves of cognitive dissonance when Bush acts like the fact he was in charge on September 11, 2001 is some great badge of honor? WTF?!?!! Our painfully average Nero sits and reads some goat story while Rome burns and we're supposed to stand in awe of the fact he was there and in charge when this happened?!? Please!!! Read the PDB [Presidential Daily Briefing] from August 6, 2001 and stop fawning over the idiot administration that was so arrogant [and hell-bent on doing things differently than Clinton] that they neglected our personal safety. On the morning of the 9/11 attacks, Condi Rice was scheduled to give a speech supporting the resurrection of the "Star Wars" defense initiative started by Reagan --that's right, the same one scientists have always believed to be an unfeasible waste of time and money. Boy... That sure would have stopped 9/11.
Please, my duped fellow Americans --those of you who believe in the ideals of democracy-- stop supporting the smirking frat boy who's greatest accomplishment seems to be sitting in the driver's seat when the car crashed!
In an effort to increase my blog readership [please, I need some justification for spastically sitting at the computer for hours after work!], I'm going to start posting important stuff here and see how long it takes folks to find out. So here's our big news --a RyBlog 5000 exclusive!: The rabbit is dead and my playboy days are over [as if I ever had any]. Jen thought it would be difficult, but whaddayaknow? Nature is pretty reliable.
We held back for a long time, worried about getting a house and getting our savings [what savings?], my student loan, etc. under control, but finally realized that somehow things work out even in a state of chaos such as ours. So we decided to embark on the ultimate Do-It-Yourself project with our built-in human construction kit. This is going to be great! I can't wait to teach it all my favorite tricks.
It dawned on me recently that when you ask yourself "am I ready to take care of another living thing?" one of the biggest questions you're really asking is "am I ready to clean up another creature's poop?" Jen and I have made a tentative agreement that I will take care of all the kid's difficulties years 3-21 if she'll handle that aspect of parenting. [Yeah, I know... Leave me a comment about how lame I'm being.] I think it's a sensible division of labor and I'm hoping to put all those tedious classes in developmental psychology to good use.
We're going to go with a name we've had in mind for a while: Maxwell [I did my best to shoot a Y], although Jen's brother suggested THOR [in all caps] as an alternative. On the off chance that it's a girl, we'll probably go with Anna. We're starting to formulate ideas about prenatal and early childhood care too. I've already got a long list of chores planned to keep the kid busy for the next 15 years --it's going to be great to have an extra hand around here.
So... Wednesday was sort of a free day. I finished up a project at work and really had nothing to do but catalog my navel lint until my app was tested and a new list of changes was prepared. Work is like that lately. It's nice to make money and pay for me and Jen's lavish lifestyle, but I actually look forward to little breathers like that.
I made the best of the day and decided it was finally time to face the horrific 800-unread-message-monster in my e-mail folders. Thanks to the fact that most of it was political e-mail from one of the dozens of lists I'm signed up for, I was able to file away tons of messages preaching to the choir or just past their due date.
I managed to do a little housework and enjoy a few leisurely meals too, but the end of the day it felt like I'd done absolutely nothing. But then... life seems like that most days, doesn't it?
How do people continue to support Bush in the face of overwhelming (and constantly growing) evidence of deception and corruption?!? For most of his supporters, I think their belief in W works the same way as their belief in God: faith. When a plane crash kills most of your family, God works in mysterious ways. When you're diagnosed with cancer, God's will is not ours to question. When the Bush administration changes its reason for the unprovoked killing of Iraqis from nuclear weapons, to stopping terrorists (that weren't a problem in Iraq until now), to saving Iraqis from genocide (that occurred, for the most part, immediately after the first gulf war), we must not question His will. We also must accept the wisdom of His decision to attack Iraq while much larger human rights abuses, nuclear crises, and terrorist threats are growing elsewhere. Why... to question matters of faith is to admit personal weakness --to show a lack of spiritual fiber.
From what I learned in school, this country was founded on a principle of separating governance from religious beliefs and founded in reaction to an empire imposing its political will on us. Has the wisdom of our founding fathers been lost?
Well... That was fun. Hurricane Frances didn't kill us, but the ensuing boredom from being without power for three days almost did. It's truly amazing and pathetic when you think about how many work and recreational activities are wholly dependent on electricity. Seems like every time we thought of something useful or fun to do, a split second later we realized it wasn't happening. Conversation was entertaining enough for a while, but wore a little thin after the second day; Trivial Pursuit killed several hours effectively; but it sure was good to see the lights back on this afternoon.
Fortunately, the only real injuries we sustained were a few bruises to Jen's Ford Focus from a fallen large tree branch. I guess that was pretty lucky considering the number of uprooted and wounded trees we saw today while driving around in search of coffee and a cell phone re-charge.
Here we are taking a day off work to wait for a disaster. After people crying wolf a couple of times in Tampa for small [category 2] hurricanes, I guess I've grown a little bored at the idea, but seeing cars lined up for half a mile waiting for gas, empty store shelves that usually contain water and supplies, and neighbors with boarded up windows yesterday got my attention.
Fortunately my secular homeowner prayers [a.k.a. nervous wishful thinking] have been heard. The latest indications show it's going to only be category 2 or 3, so my stupid lack of serious preparation will probably pay off. I certainly hope so because I've got no idea what our coverage would be on this place we've owned for less than three months. My dream of a home on the water is looking a little less attractive.
The watching and waiting has been a little more enjoyable thanks to the addition of some out-of-town guests. Richard and Lisa, our hosts in the U.K., arrived in Miami Beach Wednesday only to be evacuated late Thursday. So, we've spent the day showing them around our place, watching the rain, etc. Hopefully their honeymoon will get more entertaining soon.
Fortunately for us, W's side of the political debate is just pathetic. Check out this brilliant set of anti-Kerry protesting instructions from The Society for Truth and Justice. Scroll down and check out the inspired anti-Kerry slogans such as "Kerry is Wrong!" --what a phenomenal grasp of the issues these people have [as we've come to expect from Fox News fans everywhere].
Karl Rove really needs to do a better job of coaching these goons in character assassination --seemingly the only weapon left in the GOP arsenal. Anybody else notice this? Certainly is convenient to denounce those we disagree with as being lunatics, traitors, or otherwise afflicted in such a way that we needn't bother listening to them. What better way to avoid a honest debate? And since you aren't even going to listen, there's the added advantage of maintaining the purity of one's closed, tiny mind.
Everybody keep reciting those profound Republican talking points! It's like praying the rosary --but to bring blessings to the rich and the almighty corporations.
Ugh. It was a great trip, full of lasting memories, but the ending kinda sucked. Somehow I got gastroenteritis [self-diagnosed] from something in Amsterdam [I'm thinking maybe it was the gallon of tap water I drank my first night there] and couldn't even eat for a few days. So, that kind of cramped my style [no pun intended] on our last few days in the UK.
But, despite sleeping a lot while getting over it, we fit in visits to the William Morris Gallery, Tate, and Tate Modern. We also managed to grab dinner with Nigel [long-time friend of Alana's and our host last visit] before we left. Saturday was particularly interesting. We took a road trip to Stonehenge with our hosts, Richard and Lisa, who will be in Miami on their honeymoon soon. On the way back we stopped at the largest Indian temple outside of India [located in London] and took a quick tour. I was really blown away at the beauty and intricacy of the building --it was truly a spiritual experience. Jen thought I might consider joining, but I'm not the joining type.
Anyway... I could easily write an entry on each day, but I'll save it for the photo gallery.
Greetings from the Netherlands! We're wrapping up our short two-day side trip to Amsterdam [giving our gracious hosts in Essex a break from our company]. I'll write about the English portion of our trip in detail a little later, but suffice it to say we've had a great time so far. Richard and Lisa [the newly-weds] have been great hosts and we had an excellent time at their wedding. It was also nice to spend a day with Jen's brother, Jonathan, who was taking a short break from his Peace Corp assignment in Moldova.
Anyway... Amsterdam is simply amazing. I can't wait to post pictures. On a whim [round trip would've been a mere €25 if we'd only booked ahead --drat.] we bought tickets to take a train, hydroplane, and another train to Amsterdam. Nice journey through the English countryside, the channel, and the Netherlands. We were lucky enough to find a room at the second budget hotel we found. It was an incredible location, right on the Herengracht [trans. Gentleman's Canal] next to the “Golden Bend,” in the thick of the nightlife, and close to the “skinny bridge” [which we got a woodblock print of at an antique shop]. On the down side, the city is as difficult to navigate as it is picturesque; Jen and I experienced hours of frustration trying to figure out where the hell we were. But, it's such a charming, droll, and fantastic place... Dutch has just enough similarities to English that upon arrival I had to wonder if Amsterdam's drug culture had already slipped us something. It's a very trippy place --especially the coffee shops and other attractions. Someday we really must return and travel extensively through Holland.
Jen and I finally decided to get new cellular service. Between the dropped calls and the ritual of standing perfectly still in the center of the house, we just couldn't stand T-Mobile one more [69¢] minute. The surprise $270 bill reminding us that the minutes [we never use] don't roll over was another good motivator. So, as of Monday, we're on Cingular and able to use our phones at home again.
But no change is ever without sacrifices. Naturally, I had to give up my old phone, despite the fact there was nothing wrong with it. In fact, the new phone has twice as many buttons, the buttons are twice as small, and they're located in some awkward Buck Rodgers, Space-Age configuration that I absolutely hate. I hope there's a special hell for engineers determined to redesign things until they're virtual unusable.
Then there's a bigger issue. When the phone is within 3 feet of my computer, the speakers periodically buzz and chirp when the cell does something. Um... I'm thinking anything powerful enough to punch through shielded speakers, wires, etc. is probably capable of slow cooking my brain too. Good thing they're applying all this new technology in the medical sciences too.
So I'm watching --O.K., forced to watch-- some so-called reality TV the other day and wondering to myself why Americans seem so obsessed with watching a bunch of ordinary prols doing unremarkable things. Then it occurred to me. There must be some horrible deficit of reality in our own lives.
The current propagandists in the White House spend so much time telling us completely absurd things that no reasonable person could believe and the news networks are completely complicit in spreading these nuggets of BushSpeak. Even the highly paid, smooth-talking pundits are often caught spouting about the great fashion sense of the emperor's new clothes. The fact that pundits are often out of touch with reality first occurred to me during the Dean campaign, seeing them say things that were absurd about Dean's supporters and ideas. Like most of the vacuous media, it was easier to create a one-word label or say something stupid that made a good soundbite than to actually explain the complexities of the situation. Ah... The MTV generation meets politics.
Jen and I had a great little mini-vacation in Los Angeles over the weekend. The occasion was my bio-Grandfather, Alan Coghlan's 90th birthday party. And it was an unforgettable party. Bio-Uncle Greg pulled out all the stops with great Mexican food, good drinks, and a full Mariachi band at his mountain top house. The bio-Granddad certainly has accumulated a lot of friends and family over the years. See the festivities and the rest of our short LA vacation.
Unfortunately, we were only in town Friday through Sunday morning and I spent about half of that time catching up on sleep lost to the new job, so it was a regrettably short visit. Nonetheless, it was a good recharge and an opportunity to see the whole group in one place.
Ugh... So I finished a three-week gig at MAPEI last week and started a new contract at Ryder the next day [nice to be in demand]. Looks like it's going to be a really cool project, but my commute just went from five miles RT to 100 miles and the drive is killing me. Hopefully I'll be telecommuting several days a week just as soon as we get the project rolling. Then maybe I can sleep past 5:30 some mornings.
Actually, getting up early isn't even the issue --it's the horrible jet lag that has me feeling like I just came out of a heavy coma most of the day. I've always had trouble with readjusting my circadian rhythms. The real fun part is waking up at 3:00am, not having any idea what time it is, and not being able to go back to sleep despite knowing that before noon you'll be yawning so hard your head nearly splits in half.
Wow. Just finished watching one of the weirder things I've seen come out of the White House lately [and that's saying a lot!] A fascinating look at the inner operations of the White House, BarneyCam II: Reloaded chronicles the challenges of one of the more competent and hard working members of the Bush administration. It can be viewed here.
I'm not sure which is a bigger shock, that the operations of the White House are crippled without the help of a little black dog or the similarities between the little dog and our adorable POTUS. [Reminds me of this great TMW strip drawn shortly after 9/11.] If you're poor, you might imagine yourself as a fresh patch of yellow snow, courtesy of President Barney.
Our A/C died on Friday, just before the big holiday weekend. Unfortunately, we didn't even think to call for repair because of the holiday. Fortunately, the seller had a friend that came out to take a look at the thing. Unfortunately, the prognosis was a dead compressor. So several phone calls and $1,100 later we had a new 2.5 ton, 12 SEER Rheem condenser [that's good, right?]. Funny how a little heat can totally disrupt your life. I don't think I got anything done but complaining until the A/C guys showed up at 8:00, Wednesday night.
Ya know... Psychologists have done studies of the effect of heat on emotion. It makes people really irritable. My case study corroborates their conclusion.
Anyway... Now we've got that behind us, we really haven't had much buyer's remorse. We're loving it here. The area has got it all and I even got a sweet web development contract just 10 minutes away --too bad the gig ends next Wednesday. The irony of it is, I'm getting lots of potential job offers in the area we just moved from. But, the job market is finally heating up again so it looks like I'll have several jobs to choose from this time around.
Well, lock me up in jail. we saw Fahrenheit 9/11 last weekend and believed everything in it. Since the loud, obnoxious voices of the Neo-Con Right Wing claim Michael Moore hates America, I guess we must be vile, America-hating terrorists too. Since when did truth become so outrageously unpopular? It ain't a lot of footage of Moore prancing around; it's largely a montage of Bush, et al. doing what they do best: hanging themselves by being themselves. No sane, rational person could leave the theater thinking these creeps should be in charge of a democracy.
I've been thinking how fun it would be to go on a rampage, capturing truckloads of heartless conservatives and forcing them to watch the thing --Clockwork Orange style-- until they renounce the devils running the country. Actually, I just wish we could get all the apathetic non-voters to go [since those of us who have chosen a side aren't likely to budge]. Nov. 2 would be the landslide to end all landslides.
There are a few folks I've been working on lately. I've offered to buy them a ticket and promise to never mention politics again if they go. Not sure if it would necessarily turn them from the dark side, but I figure at least they would understand why I've become politically obsessed in the last two years. The scary thing is the way these people seem to have been inoculated with a creeping fear that the movie will somehow corrupt them --steal their soul, or something. It's as if they're paralyzed by the idea that they might be wrong [reminiscent of the cognitive dissonance some folks had over O.J.] or have to start caring about politics.
All this being said... To be fair, Moore's movie is meant to persuade and it really insinuates much more than it creates an air-tight indictment of the Bush administration, but the message is absolutely on target. Bush and the nasties running the White House are not in Iraq to save us from an imminent threat or to bring democracy to Iraq, they're there out of self interest. Some part of me occasionally tries to give them the benefit of the doubt and wonders if they actually think they're establishing democracy in the Middle East. Nonetheless --assuming they had such noble intentions-- they would still be horribly misguided. But... That's a blog entry for another day...
Would you believe that after 3 months of hand-wringing and faxing our life history on a weekly basis, we finally closed. Jen and I have finally achieved the American Dream of home ownership! [Well... I guess technically the bank owns it, but it's a start, right?] Seems like the odds were against us. Coming up with 20% down proved to be a real nail-biter. With the help of Jen's folks and a last minute assist from Alana's folks [when Carlos inevitably screwed us], we just made it. Then there was the fact that I got laid off from PC Universe just a week before closing --not something the mortgage lender would appreciate [although after a few years of contracting, I'm used to it]. Considering the plethora of miscommunication [or complete lack of communication] with our lender, we almost had to wonder if they were trying to sabotage the deal too. It was a pretty great rate [4.875%] after all.
Anyway... We'll be moving starting tomorrow. The personal site and the blog will be down for several days until I get cable modem service at the new place. I know it will be sorely missed by the Internet spiders of a few major search engines.
Over Memorial Day weekend Jen and I took a short trip to the St. Louis, Missouri area, gateway to the West. Now, weeks later, I finally found time to create a small photo album of the experience. It struck me as a nice, although not fantastically exciting city. I really loved the way the MetroLink went from the airport to our downtown hotel (DC is good that way too). The Union Station shopping area where we stayed Friday night was one of my favorite places [unfortunately, the digital camera was low on batteries and Jen was in a hurry to see the city, so I didn't get many pictures]. The Hyatt Regency where we stayed was an awe-inspiring example of Art Deco architecture. We spent our day wandering the city, meeting Jen's Mom for a drink, gawking at the Gateway Arch, grabbing a rental car, and visiting the zoo.
That evening we drove South about an hour to St. Genevieve, MO to see Jen's grandma. On Sunday we got to enjoy mass at St. Genevieve's stately cathedral and then had a big family birthday party for Jen's grandma. Unlike a typical Mormon family gathering, there was plenty of vodka and the day seemed to pass a lot more quickly. The burgers were pretty good too.
I've been thinking about how corny and stupid Van Helsing was, about how we wasted $18 and two hours of our lives, but then it dawned on me today that the movie is in fact a brilliant allegory of modern politics. Just like the vampires in Van Helsing [who chewed the scenery more than the peasants], the Neo-Conservatives that control the Republican party are so enboldened as to commit their acts of evil in broad daylight. Consider Cheney, talking gleefully about tax cuts benefiting the wealthy, saying “this is our due” or the callous attitude the Bush administration has taken towards the rest of the world [known as “Old Europe” in BushSpeak]. And how about trying to use the US Constitution to limit the rights of certain individuals based on sexual orientation? I wonder if Judge Scalia could melt a cross in his hands, like Dracula did in the movie?
Basically, anyone who's seen one Disney movie knows the difference between good and evil. Bambi doesn't sit around bitching about how awful it is to pay taxes [used for the good of the forest, of course] or how upset he is that another animal is making choices that have nothing to do with anyone else. You ever seen the good guy forcing others to follow his way of thinking? Does the good guy ever pre-emptively attack others?
Yeah... I write this blog for myself. If only Fox News would get some of this stuck in their echo chamber.
You gotta see this... I was surfing around looking at other blogs today and thought I'd see what the conservative crowd was up to. Saw the title of this blog and nearly fell off my chair laughing: The Conservative Zone: Thoughts from a Conservative living with mental illness.
Great subtitle, but really superfluous, isn't it?
Considering the absurdities spewed by Bush supporters on a daily basis, one can only conclude that the two conditions are inseparable. A personal favorite [always good for a laugh] is the idea that "terrorists hate freedom." Hearing W. repeat such stupidity reminds me of Steve Martin's performance in "The Jerk" as he dodges shots from a crazed sniper toting some serious semi-automatic gear. The sniper misses Martin several times, hitting oil cans stacked in the gas station where Martin is working as an attendant. Ducking for cover, Martin exclaims "He HATES these CANS!!!" [warning 11MB, slow server]
Another classic example I ran across today: Rush Limbaugh, master pathological liar, claimed on May 4th that the sexual torture of Iraqis was like good spirited hazing --just some folks in uniform "having a good time."
Hey Rush, buddy! Me and some friends want to induct you into a fun, super-special club! Come over this Saturday night and bring a broomstick, a Polaroid, and a hood. And leave the Oxycontin at home, unless you've got enough for everybody!
Jen asked me this morning if the word mortgage comes from the Latin word for death. We looked up the etymology and whaddayaknow? It does. We're both playing hooky from work for a few hours today, waiting for the couple of lenders we're considering to get back to us so we can lock in a rate and get our financing finished. Still a lot of details left to sort out, like whether we can get our hands on 20% down fast enough to avoid PMI on top of our monthly payments. Can't help but feel a little ill when I think about the amount of money changing hands and all the twisting and turning we need to do to get the loan. Wheeeeee!!!
It's been a very educational week. The biggest thing I've learned is that buying real estate is a lot like falling in love --it happens very quickly and unexpectedly. We saw a condo we liked on the 13th, made an offer, agreed to a counter-offer on the 16th, and, except for the final papers and financing, pretty much find ourselves homeowners already. It's all been a lot easier than we imagined. Just like in love, we only had to get over our fear of rejection [and be willing to settle for less than perfection!].
So, the domicile selection was actually easy, the real challenge is picking the perfect mortgage. There are so many lenders and so many exotic flavors of mortgages. It isn't even like comparing apples and oranges --it's like comparing apples and orangutans. Think I'll focus on running 5-7 year simulations in Excel, to see what would cost us the most before we sell the place. [I'm basically a lender's worst nightmare because I ask lots of dumb questions and won't stop playing with the numbers.] Over the weekend my compulsive nature also lead me to run numbers examining how fast the property values in the area are rising. Even though we're really excited about the place, it still isn't our dream home or necessarily big enough to raise a family. But the commute is about to get a lot better and it's sure going to be a lot of fun. There are five heated swimming pools, a weight room, Jacuzzis, and even a small library and basic moorage in our new gated community. Then there's the sports complex and water park half a mile away --but that'll be another several blog entries... The best thing is, the current owner [who we met tonight] really has great taste in decorating, so, unlike the “fixer-uppers” we've seen, we won't need to do much more than move in and get some better furniture. Promise to post pictures soon.
So far it's been a great Sunday. This is because I had a really good cup of Sumatra, brewed with the new Braun coffee maker we bought last week. Our previous machine was a fancy, expensive Italian model with a stainless steel carafe. Making coffee with that beast was a pain, as was cleaning it. After about a year of service, the weakest little plastic link busted. Disgusted by the short life and annoying engineering of the dead DeLonghi, we spent a lot of time finding the same coffee machine I had previously used for over 13 years. It was given to me for my birthday by two college friends, Greg Miller and Mark Hennesey, and was likely the most regularly used gift I've ever received. It was/is a very inexpensive Braun, of incredibly elegant design, with only two removable parts [carafe and basket], making it very easy to use and clean. I finally tossed the original Braun because the carafe broke.
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simplier.
-- Albert Einstein
So I decided to stop by a new go-kart track/arcade on my way home tonight [avoiding traffic] and I find a sniper rifle game with a few free credits. It was really bizarre and hilarious at the same time, with each level introduced by a 5-star general and a bimbo in camo spandex, flapping their arms around like Vanna White while explaining your next mission. Oddly enough, although the little characters talked about criminal attacks on most levels, the text always read that you were fighting terrorists. Yup... Video games: a window on the American zeitgeist.
One of the more advanced levels had me defending the president [who bore a strong resemblance to W] from hordes of terrorists. With more than a little glee, I started the level by taking a few pot shots at the guy. It was very disappointing that even a head shot didn't seem to phase him. After failing the mission a couple times that way I decided to play it straight --which was really annoying because the little W character gloated about defeating the terrorists after I saved him. Them video games are getting so realistic.
Why is there a black helicopter flying next to my window?
So I dialed up the Internet today and listened to the premiere of Air American Radio, the new liberal talk radio station. There really isn't much representation of the liberal point of view on talk radio [unless you count NPR, which I would only credit as having left of center tendencies]. I was also reading some pre-release criticism/cynicism someone posted on FreeRepublic.com [a stronghold of right-wing netizens]. Although the bulk of the article struck me as typical conservative rhetoric, it did present some valid concerns, such as the idea that liberals might be too politically correct and earnest to be funny. However, after listening to Air American Radio for several hours, I am happy to report the new network is both entertaining and funny. If this catches on, it will be a real problem for the Neo-Conservatives currently in power.
Ain't it funny how the nation seems to be roughly divided 50-50 in the polls between those leaning liberal and those leaning conservative, just like the way 50% of the country has an above average IQ, while 50% has a below average IQ. Hmmm... Coincidence?
Nice to have the website and our Internet connection back after 5 days without connectivity. Now, if I just spend 10 minutes of expensive cell phone time [ain't got no land line] navigating Comcast's hellish phone menu, I can get a negligible refund of 2-3 days service. F*#k that. I'm not paying for frickin' donuts, I'm paying for reliability. Would you accept 90% uptime on your water and electricity?
But... Then again... My limited experience with network related problems helps blunt my annoyance with some empathy. Seems like in the process of programming, network and security issues comprise over 25% of my work [and 90% of my stress and red-faced tantrums]. Microsoft's version of security reminds me of the argument that “if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Microsoft seems to think that the ultimate in server security is to ensure that no one can access your stuff --not even you! Brilliant.
Believe it or not, Jen and I went house hunting this weekend. No confirmed kills, but some well spent ammo. On a whim, a couple of weeks ago, we stopped at a real estate office to ask about rentals and/or houses closer to downtown Fort Lauderdale, the beach, I-95, etc. We were a little afraid of what we might hear, considering my titanic [in more ways than one] student loans, wacky employment history, and inadequate down payment cash. It really made our day to hear that home ownership isn't out of reach.
Unfortunately, our collective salary has taken a dip over the past several months, but judging from the houses we visited, we could still afford a pretty nice starter home. Jen has been taking classes to become a realtor, so I'm hoping she can help us score a great deal. I can't figure out why we've been throwing away rent money for so many years. Probably the ever-shifting commute.
My life is currently fully stocked with various Hells. My 90 minute [or more] daily commute to work is particularly diabolic. One good/bad thing about the commute is that you can often sprint for miles at 65-75 MPH. Of course, when traffic comes to a dead stop again, you hope the guy behind you is paying attention. We haven't been here long, but we already know at least four people with bad injuries from being rear-ended on I-95.
So, I'm driving to work today and these big road signs over the highway read “I-95 closed at Glades Rd. take Palmetto Pkwy Exit.” So, I'm thinking “huh?” [Coffee takes a while to kick in] Turns out that a gasoline tanker truck had jack-knifed, blocking all lanes. I was only two hours late to work after struggling through the congested back roads of Boca Raton for the last ten miles of the journey.
Stupid thing is that I didn't take an exit several miles before that snafu. Stupider thing is that I got over in the right-hand lane and acted courteous as I watched assholes zoom by in the other lanes, only to force their way back in a mile later. It's some sort of weird martyr thing I do. A lot of things affirm my faith in humanity, but highway driving makes me think the selfish pricks have us outnumbered. Nonetheless, after several weeks of commuting, I'm past road rage, meeting asinine behavior [like passing on the shoulder while everyone else waits] with only minor annoyance. Still... I've gotta admit I'd take great delight in seeing a little frontier justice --L.A. style. I'm told they shoot at cars cutting in line.
Saw something tonight while trying to get my e-mail back under control that helped me make sense of Dean's strange and sudden defeat in Iowa and New Hampshire. [Yeah, I'm still not over it.] Someone else's blog suggested the defection to Kerry and Edwards was the result of the mass of voters that were undecided through the last week before primaries. Not sure what exit polling he used for his research, but the guy claims that these late deciders --the bulk of voters-- were poorly informed and hadn't been following the Democratic race very closely. And so they made an emotional decision or tried to guess who other people would vote for [“electability”] rather than considering the candidates' platforms.
The really messed up thing [and perhaps a good argument for the abolishment of American-style democracy] is that the majority of voters probably don't have the mental wherewithal to make good political decisions. I think the majority of voting is done on primitive gut feeling. How else can you explain the close race between Bush and Gore? Or --more strikingly-- Bush's crushing primary defeat of an intelligent and honorable man, Senator John McCain? Maybe the vote is best kept in the hands of the elite? You've got to wonder, the way the lower class keeps shooting themselves in the foot by voting Republican.
So... I guess this is a political blog. I just can't get passionate enough about my own life to actually write about it.
I know this won't impress anybody but other Deaniacs, but you can see me and other Broward county die-hards at the top of the Blog for America [official Dean Blog] entry for March 5th. See? I'm off to the far right [in the photo of course].
So you're probably saying, “but isn't Dean out of the Presidential race?” “Is Ryan a tin-foil hat wearing crank?” The answer is yes to both questions and the third one you were going to ask too. Yes, of course there's a point to continuing Dean's cause. Let me save some time and clumsy paraphrasing by lifting that radical agenda off Dean's site:
“Our new effort will change America by working for the following principles:
And that's likely the foundation for the reorganization of our [and your] grassroots organization, which will be reincarnated on March 18th. I'd like to invite everyone within the sound of my blog to join in. Go to a MeetUp; see the little things you can do to make a better country. If we don't bother to participate in democracy, politicians [and the powerful corporations controlling most of them] won't bother giving us any. And if each of us could just give a little time and attention to the issues that effect us, we could have a Utopia.
- We will promote grassroots democracy and bring new people into politics
- We will support candidates and office-holders who tell the truth; stand up for what they believe; and oppose the radical agenda of the far right
- We will fight against the special interests
- And we will fight for progressive policies like:
- Health care for all
- Investment in children
- Equal rights under the law
- Fiscal responsibility; and
- A national security policy that makes America stronger by working with allies and advancing progressive American values”
Goofing off a little on my lunch hour at work today and I finally figured out why certain XML things I've been experimenting with lately aren't working. Ran my FOAF file through an XML validator, it choked, and I found myself just bored enough (and a little frustrated with my current project at work) to investigate. The issue turned out to be pretty simple. A stray ampersand (“&“) in the data was fouling my XML. This is something I knew, but I guess since I didn't know how things like FOAF work (or even if they work!) it never occurred to me to validate the files and look for problems like that. Doh!
In other news, I've finally gotten around to creating real links from my home page (RyanRusson.com). I blew a lot of time over the weekend designing something more appealing than crappy links to directories and fossilized content. It seems like it takes me forever to do design related stuff, but I find it really relaxing and satisfying. It's great taking the time to practice a few of the Photoshop tricks Alana taught me on my last visit to L.A.
As I get older, I try to get better at “listening to my body.” By this I mean sleeping when I feel tired, not eating things that will make me sick (like having buttered popcorn for lunch and dinner), not drinking a lot of caffeine late in the day, etc. Anyway... I've found I generally feel better if I avoid certain excesses. Think I did a little of each this weekend and I'm paying for it now.
Yesterday Jen and I decided to go out for a late lunch and find someplace new and interesting. We drove toward Hollywood Beach, unexpectedly fought ugly traffic, and aimlessly scanned the roads for hours before giving up and heading back to a familiar place. And when you're really hungry, it's got to be really good. So we went to the local Azteca and ate beyond the limits of human excess. That was 7:00 yesterday. I haven't eaten all day and I'm still feeling bloated and 10 pounds heavier. Ugh.
But... It was really, really good.
So today was my first day on the job at PC Universe in Boca Raton. After a short tour of the place this morning, I find out somebody tried to break in last night and they had made some progress, including cutting the phone lines and starting to remove the glass from one of the doors. Jen and I had just seen the place the previous night on our way back from another Tampa/Lakeland trip. As we approached, we wondered why a couple of carloads of guys were so committed that they were going in to the office at 7:00pm on a Sunday, but didn't think much more of it. [in retrospect, it also seemed odd they were leaving just as we got there.] I mentioned it to the boss and the officer there to investigate and they thought that was pretty interesting. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember many details [license plate would be nice], but it seems quite likely that our chance visit spooked the crime in progress. Made an interesting conversation piece with my new co-workers.
Ran the stats on my web log today to see who's visiting my site and how they're getting there. Looks like after filtering out my own mucking about and the typical heavy volume of Internet worms roaming freely, I'm getting about 15 unique visits a day [and most of those just bots harvesting blog content]. Taking advantage of my seemingly infinite free time, I see that I've got visitors coming from everywhere from Victoria, BC to Lagos, Nigeria. I'm sure we're disappointing most of these accidental visitors. On a disturbing note, some stupid company called StarProse is spamming my logs --I guess in an attempt to increase their standing in search engines or something.
What's really interesting is the top search terms bringing random weirdos into my home. Here are a few of the more popular ones [for reasons that defy me] and one that is just bizarre [looks like the entire lyrics to some Goo Goo Dolls song --WTF?!? I don't even like them].
search termsWho let this guy sit in front of Google unsupervised?
* humor back´s españa
* february 4 2004 electability
* tin foil hat photos
* i've got no politics no influential friend or two i've got ideas but it's nothing i picked up at school i might be running but i'm never running back to you and here's a letter from the real world i don't expect you'll reply and anything you're gonna tell me it's just another lie i had to wait so long that weeks and months that passed me by you've got no power and my situation don't apply you ask me how i am i lie and say i'm doing fine and with your sugar sweetend alibi there was a truth i never knew and all the attitude you gave me it's coming back to you
What's wrong with our [mainstream] culture? Is it true what Morris Berman says in The Twilight of American Culture? That we're mired in a period of cultural decay mirroring the end of the Roman Empire?
A post from someone on the BrowardForDean mailing list serves to illustrate my point:
i voted democratic the first time in 2000. up to then i had always voted green. i will vote for kerry with a heavy heart. dean is a man of peace. kerry is a man of war, like shrub. but americans in general love war. that is the impression i have after returning here from a 24 year stay in europe. europeans embrace the concept of peace and yearn for it. americans are enthralled by televised war. on the first day of 'shock and awe' i was with some other teachers in a wings by the bucket bar. the americans there were cheering as they saw buildings [presumably inhabited] blown to smithereens. i was sick to my stomach. couldnt touch the food. left totally depressed, went home and opened a bottle of wine. i am here for as long as my sick parents need me. then i think that i will return to europe, totally disillusioned about the country i was born in, its ideals that were taught me in school in massachusetts and in the functioning of its political system. dean meant for me a reversal of all the shame and evil being purpetrated here. but only a thinking minority supports him. the vaste majority of people here prefer the coliseum - today, television, with janet jackson and virtual war. sad, sad, sad.Is there a cure for our cultural sickness?
Jen and I have been feeling particularly disheartened at the demise of Dean's campaign. But I heard a speaker on NPR a few days ago that made me feel a little better. He talked about how Dr. Dean's front-runner status put him in control of the debate, brought his issues to the forefront, made him the model of what Democratic voters wanted and therefore what a successful candidate should be. So, if Dean's message and ideals manage to show up in some weakened form in John Kerry's presidency, all our time and money in support of the Dean campaign was not for naught. Dean has shown us that we have the power to change America. The more of us realize it, the more powerful we become. Dean reiterated this idea recently in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. Here's an except:
Host: Governor, it almost seems to have gotten personal for you. Do you somehow feel that Kerry has stolen your message and is posing as something that he isn't? We must keep fighting for what's right. Kerry will certainly be an improvement over the current village-idiot-in-chief, but looking at his record of caving to what's popular in Washington, we will have to work hard to keep him on the straight and narrow path of promoting Democratic reform.
Dean: Well, they have all stolen my message, which is actually a good thing. It's one of the things that I wanted to do is get the Democratic party moving again. It was sort of moribund after the Bush election after the 2002 elections they all sort of caved in Washington. So I think the fact that they have taken my message is actually a good thing. It is one of the things I wanted. Now the question is is this conviction or convenience? Only time will tell.
Dr. Dean's letter to supporters: Feb 18, 2004
Well... I just bid farewell to my folks and brother who came to visit Florida for a few days. We had some fun... Spent a few hours showing them around our new Fort Lauderdale home, went down to Key West for a day, and spent hours just catching up. And now I'm sitting alone in my living room. They're headed North to spend a day at Disney before returning to Utah on Wednesday. I wanted to go with them, but thought I should wait by the phone in case a recruiter sends me on an interview (I had 3 interviews last week, so things are picking up!).
Anyway... I'm feeling kind of hollow and listless... I don't think it's from drinking weak coffee in the Keys this weekend. The fact that Jen and I still don't have friends down here is suddenly pretty salient. Despite enjoying some of the Democratic clubs in the area, we just don't have any strong friendships yet. I guess there are a lot of reasons for it too. A big reason is that some part of me has just stopped making much of an effort, another is that I'm exhausted from the struggle to do more and more while keeping my struggling career afloat, another is being a slave to the ReplayTV's endless onslaught of entertainment (if it's recorded, I've got to watch it), another is the drive to save money (for a house, paying off Spain, protection against the next period of unemployment, surviving this one), and another is that our cohort has kids (thus putting them in a totally different social scene). Anyway... Life seems like a meaningless exercise some days --a marathon to see how much media I can absorb while awake. Guess it's time to start planning another vacation.
From the living in glass houses and throwing boulders department:
Here's the Bush administration's attack on John Kerry were they highlight his ties to special interest money. The Dean camp makes the same criticism of Kerry, but hell... at least they're in a position to be critical.
The Republican party has such a unique way of turning reality on its head that I often feel like I must be losing my mind. Some favorite highlights from the past few years include:
What mind-bending drug are they putting in the water supply of middle America to make this crap seem remotely plausible?!?
- Calling congressional Democrats racists for blocking ultra right-wing judicial nominees [who happened to be minorities]
- Claiming liberals hate America or side with the terrorists
- Ironically named policies like the “Clear Skies“ act or “Healthy Forests“ initiative
- The idea that cries of “rape room“ or “mass graves“ (filled a decade ago) make us forget being lied to about Iraq's WMDs
- Calling liberals socialists because we think people who earn millions per year can afford to give a little back to their country (and the lower class laborers who did the actual work for that money --but that's a topic for another day)
- and what about calling us “tax-and-spend“ liberals? Is borrowing money and spending it is somehow better?
Jen and my favorite sitcom: Hannity and Colmes on Fox. We think Colmes side of the argument might pack more punch if he was replaced by a sock puppet.
With a growing sense of gloom (from Dean's downturn and my ongoing unemployment), I've been spending my free time playing with the blog and creating dumb little .NET controls I can throw in my web pages. So far I've cobbled together a simple webcounter that tracks visitors (including IP and other crap) and a cool Amazon.com XML web service consumer that displays a random item from my wishlist (feel free to test the functionality by buying me something). I also slapped an AdRotator rich server control into the header so that my blog can have an identity crisis each time it's loaded.
Here are some other ideas I'll be working on as soon as I finish the Spain photos:
- Ryan Recommends
- U.S. National Debt Clock
- The Weather Gloat 5000© [not available Aug-Sept]
- A webservice to pull my schedule from Outlook [a.k.a. when's the best time to rob my place]
- "Conversations" with Ann Coulter [rebuttals to the rants of a singularly nasty person]
Sorry... I really didn't intend for this to be a political blog. At least I hoped to have a filtering system for my visitors (where are they?) to turn off politic stuff, before writing any more entries. But... our current situation horrifies me to the extent that it's hard to think about much else. I really need to focus on my career (or lack thereof) and getting Microsoft .NET experience (for the uninitiate: it's their latest programming technology), but what's the point if my job is moved out of the country?
So... I keep hearing the media panic about electability and Democrats liking Dean, but thinking Kerry is more electable. This is, in truth, patently stupid in the context of this election. Hell... If it was King George III vs. a garden tool, it'd be no contest. As a C-Span junkie (amazing what you have time for when you're unemployed) I'm floored by all the Republicans I'm seeing slam Bush. These guys are famous for sticking together even if the leader says "lets all drink the blood of the unborn." (Which is, in a sense, what's happening when you consider who will be saddled with paying back our rising debt.)
Fascinating fact: in the Republican New Hampshire primaries, 1 out of 7 Republicans voted for a Democrat! What's that thing Lincoln said about a house divided? I'm telling you... Every damned Dem. in the running is electable, each with their strengths and weaknesses. I bet the farm that Bush is history this fall. I just hope our dumb party isn't so obsessed with thinking it KNOWS what appeals to swing voters (a.k.a. electability) that it goes for a safe, lesser option that won't do what's needed in the White House. Howard Dean doesn't win any points with the simple-minded electorate by saying we need to repeal Bush's tax cuts, but he's the only candidate not sugar-coating the truth! I've seen over a dozen economists (most with a very conservative bent) say that we can not balance the budget and have tax cuts too. These smart guys, including the Comptroller General of the United States, say that even under the best circumstances keeping the tax cuts in place will lead to crushing debt in the future. We're already in big trouble. We need a politician willing to make tough, even unpopular, decisions if we don't want to end up a 3rd world country.
Furthermore: I'm looking at Kerry's voting record and, although he's usually been on the right side of the debate, I can't see any evidence he has been an effective leader in the Senate. Will he make a good executive in the Oval Office? Time will tell, I guess (since it looks like he's won the popularity contest and all the upcoming states are ready to get in line and look to the opinion of Iowa and N.H.). If he does win, I hope he stays true to all the ideas and soundbites he's stolen from Dean. Prepare yourself for four years of Herman Munster jokes.
Jen an I are big fans of Dr. Dean. And it's not just because we're latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freaks. Actually, after MoveOn.org asked its members to pick a candidate (and we started paying attention), it still took me a while to decide between Kerry and Dean. Kerry, I must concede seemed to have the more well rounded resume, but Dean was inspiring and inspired. Once I saw a debate the choice was absolutely obvious. While the other 8 candidates offered safe, predictable, political generalities, Dr. Dean had real plans and said things that were politically risky, but true.
How long has it been since we're had a president that we could trust?!? In all fairness, it was late last Summer and the other candidates hadn't worked out most of their policies, but nobody was watching anyway. Since the primaries have begun, it really looks like Kerry and Edwards have started to hit their stride and find a message that resonates with voters, but I still don't hear the straight talk I want from my next president. e.g. Look at Dean's position on repealing Bush's tax cuts. Political suicide? I think it's an ugly truth we must deal with, if we're going to get a handle on the nation's stupid deficit and begin long-term economic recovery. Most economists would agree. So... Will we vote for the guy that tells it like it is? Or do we want to hear another good (but empty) campaign promise.
Well... I guess it's not “may the best man win." but “may the guy anointed by the media as the 'most electable' win,” eh? You should have heard Dean's speech bring down the house at the Florida Democratic Convention last month (I was actually a delegate). It was pretty obvious which candidate had the greatest support there and in the national polls at that point. It was obvious which candidate inspired people. Then the media got obsessed with electability --guess the real issues weren't interesting enough. Now things aren't looking so good (although ABC Nightly News did finally run a piece on how unfair the media coverage of Dean was, including video from the crowd in Iowa). Maybe the media will do Gov. Dean some big favors to keep him in the race --and insure excitement/ratings to fatten their wallets.
Anyway... I'd elect Terri Schiavo over W. She's about as articulate and much less likely to start World War III. Truthfully, I think any of the Dem's top four could easily defeat Bush. I just hope we don't get so obsessed with nominating the guy who can beat him by the biggest margin (as if the pundits really know who that is!) that they ignore the candidate who will do the best job once they're in the White House.
O.K... Confession time. Only a year ago I thought the idea of a blog was pretty stupid. To paraphrase some modern author: the world really needs more readers --we've got more than enough writers. But you know... Just because I make bad art, why not show it? Self expression isn't about being Picasso. Initially, the cynic in me also saw blogging as an online ego trip, but you know... What's wrong with sharing your life story and opinions?
Another thing that's kept me from jumping on the blog bandwagon is the fact that nobody will read it. I haven't even looked at the [paper] journal I used to keep years ago. But, hey... Just because no one reads your journal doesn't make it a hollow exercise. It's cathartic.
Jim England (recipient of multiple lifetime friend awards) has probably been the most influential in my rethinking of the web publishing revolution (or epidemic?). I've really been enjoying his blog since it's been difficult and unlikely for us to keep in touch now that we're on opposite sides of the country. His blog is full of reminiscences of a past I didn't know existed. We were friends since early high school and, being guys, I guess we just never talked much about our childhood. So... Now I'm starting to learn things about Jim that my Mom would have found out in about 10 minutes of conversation with him. Same story with every long-term girlfriend I've ever had. Moms are much better interrogators than guys.
One last reason to hesitate: I guess the permanency of what we put on the web has seemed a little unsettling to me, but I think I'm over it. As long as I never consider a political career, I guess I've got nothing to fear.
O.K... Wanted to wait until I could tweak the blog so users can filter out/in personal, political, and time-waster posts, but I've got a political rant today and I'm going to post it.
Evil is definitely genetic. Went to a meeting of Broward County Dems. last night and heard a horrifying tale of Gov. Jeb Bush (our local problem) monkeying with the Florida judicial selection process in a most unsettling way. The speaker said that he and his legislature have usurped the power of the state bar association to appoint members of the Judicial Nomination Commission. Now that Jeb controls the people who control Florida's judges, he has appointed some real winners to the JNC, like one Reverend Dozier. The Reverend is not shy about his opinion; here's a representative quote:
"We as Christians must take control of the government.
We should be the ones in charge of the government."
The good Reverend also tells us that homosexuality "makes God want to vomit."
The real icing on the cake is that this guy is asking judicial candidates grossly inappropriate questions about their religious beliefs and personal life. Here's a couple of links for further reading:
If you don't have time to read the ugly details, just do this: register, vote, and do whatever you can to keep the Bushes out of politics (and politics out of the bushes).
Strange I should only find time for my first real blog entry now that we´re half way around the world in Madrid at some smoky cybercafe, but those last two weeks of work got pretty ugly, trying to make my deadline. So far it´s been a pretty sedate trip, without a really tight schedule to see anything in particular. That´s nice. It´s been very relaxing, but I wish I had been able to relax a little before coming since I spent most of the first two days here sleeping and dealing with my jet lag.
On Monday we overslept and, realizing that the day was basically shot, we were wandering around the city and decided to hop a train to Granada to see the Alhambra (I gotta provide links to everything later). It was a really great idea since my knee was starting to hurt from some weird injury (cause unknown). We did pretty well considering we showed up at 11:00pm without reservations or a clue about the layout of the city. The Alhambra was definitely the highlight of the trip so far. It´s really impossible to describe the grandeur or intricacy of the castles/palaces/grounds/etc. Absolutely amazing --even without considering its age.
After a full day of exploring the Alhambra, we jumped back on the train to Madrid. Today we´ve been wandering again and stopped for some tasty, garlic-soaked tapas and sangria to break up the tour. Tonight we´re off to hear some flamenco and see the nightlife we´ve been skirting so far. Word on the street is that nothing starts until 11:00, so it´s a good thing we´re finally well rested.
Anyway... Guess I´ll file a full report next week when we´re back. Haven´t told anybody about the blog yet, so I guess there´s no rush, eh? Pretty pictures will also follow. Right now it´s back to the streets to find Jen a café con leche...
Could it be that I've finally figured out my damned IIS configuration problems and got this thing running?
I'd be nothing short of amazed considering all the problems I've had. Definitely time for a new server.