Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thinking about Thinking

No work is being done on the train during this "dead time" between Xmas and New Years, so I took advantage by watching part of Waking Life on the train this morning. It's a movie about a person trapped in a lucid dream, and encountering all sorts of people that rant about interesting philosophies. One of my favorites is when the main character is jostled by a female who insists that they interact in a "real" way rather then just following "ant-like" social conventions, and they relate this story (paraphrased from the movie):

D.H. Lawrence had an idea where two people meet on a road, and rather then just pass and glance at each other and look away, they accept what equals a confrontation between their souls. Like freeing the reckless gods within us all.

Which is both an interesting thought (especially for a commuter) as well as a good example of what watching the movie is like: 90 minutes of coolly freaky animation filled with thought experiments like this one. (See here for some text from the film.) Can't wait for the snowy train ride home!

How'd you spend your Xmas?

This is how I spent mine: Resting up from bronchitis.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Deep Thought

As much as I find physical CDs to be almost worthless now (I listen to music via iPod 99% of the time), I do miss getting music for Christmas.

Santa's smaller then I imagined him to be...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Love it

This is hysterical.

First line of The Master of Petersburg

"October, 1869. A droshky passes slowly down a street in the Haymarket district of St. Petersburg."

- J.M. Coetzee

Yea, it's two lines. So sue me.

Cough Update

Because I know you're all worried about me.

I was told a few weeks back that I had contracted viral bronchitis and that there wasn't anything I could do about it. The doctor gave me some codeine-laced cough syrup (not as fun as you would suspect) and sent me on my way. Two weeks of sleeping on the couch later, there was no improvement in my cough, so, sight-unseen, they prescribed me a five-day Zpack of Azithromycin, an antibiotic for bacterial infections. This, combined with my uncle's advice (he's an Otolaryngologist) seems to have finally cleaned up the problem.

I'll blog more about this later, but my uncle thinks that the coughing was related to my acid reflux. The reflux tickles the throat, causing even more coughing and further aggravating the bronchitis. Taking stronger reflux medicine seems to have done the trick.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It didn't take long...

...to squash the optimism expressed in my previous post.

Food we can believe in

I'm finding the ongoing efforts to introduce more sustainable practices into American agriculture fascinating. My introduction to these efforts, other then the stuff I pick up by osmosis by buying organic, was from Barbara Kingsolver's great book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (which inspired us to make our own cheese).

Now comes news of a grassroots effort to influence Obama's Secretary of Agriculture so that the USDA might start promoting sustainability rather then simply promoting the interests of the large corporate farms. Here's hoping it works.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Cover

Thomas Pynchon's new novel is really coming! I'm extremely excited. Click here for a view of the cover.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Viral Bronchitis

So today I was diagnosed with viral bronchitis, an inflammation of the upper lung passages for which, alas, there is no course of treatment. So the coughing and lethargy will continue indefinitely until the 7-21 day time period for the virus passes.

It's funny because it's true

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/12/the-magic-of-math/

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2666

I keep hearing so many good things about 2666, Roberto Bolaño's posthumously published, 900-page novel. The latest instance is this fantastic review from Brendan Kiley.

The quotes people pull are beautiful and moving, like this: "The University of Santa Theresa was like a cemetery that suddenly begins to think, in vain. It also was like an empty dance club."

However, i've been burned before. So i'll keep my eye out for it, perhaps in paperback, but i'm not going to buy into the hype this time. Sorry.

Where is Help 2.0?

I empathize with the ambivalence Tom Johnson feels when completing a help system/manual. Since no one is every satisfied with "the manual" these days, it makes the technical writing job that much less fulfilling.

He references Alan Porter's fascinating Move over DITA – Chaos Is Coming! article, where he realizes just how out of date the current help paradigm is by observing his daughter research for a school paper. The money quote:

"In fact for most of my working life to date, the technology I used at work far out paced that I used outside of work.

But not any more."

It's a sad truth, and one that will mean more painful discrepancies between user's help expectations and companies delivery methods until it can be resolved.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Inherent Vice

Looks like Thomas Pynchon's got a new novel coming out, a mystery called Inherent Vice.

Monday, December 8, 2008

brutal sickness

Caught the latest flu going around last week and still haven't really recovered. These sickness just seem to get worse and worse with every year (or is it just that I'm getting older?)... regardless, i'm heading back to the couch for more healing vegetation, so continued radio silence for a while.

Friday, December 5, 2008

a way out of loneliness

While a bit overwrought, this DFW obituary has some interesting and brilliant observations, including some tough-to-take facts about DFW's crippling depression.

Showering and the "Creative Pause"

A scientific explanation as to why some of your best ideas seem to you in the shower: Why thinking in the shower may be an ideal model for "creative pause"

More reasons to like Kelly Link

Sentences like this one, from Monster in Pretty Monsters:

"[The monster] had a voice like a dead tree full of bees: sweet and dripping and buzzing." p.203

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Minimalist Documentation

Here's a good summary of some of the presentations of the ISTC conference took place in Nottingham, UK, 23-25 September 2008.

In the "Minimalism in complex knowledge domains: can it be done?" section, there's a discussion of minimalist documentation. I've always minimalist idea intriguing, but have never been able to recognize it myself for a number of reasons (software is too complex, need to explain general processes in detail, and the requirement to document around bugs).

However, I liked this:

"Galyna says that minimalist documents should not only contain procedures. Users need more information. As with all types of documentation, two problems that technical authors have are deciding on the level of detail and organising the tasks."

This is the crux of technical writing: you want to provide the steps to help the user solve their problem, but you also need to provide the bigger picture. Galyna's advice seems to be moving away from minimalism, but I think that's almost unavoidable for most application help.

More Cuteness

I'm not a fan of the word cute, but there isn't really another word to express how Hunter's been acting lately.

- When picking him up from day care today, on the way home he stops his random singing and says "Good to see you!"

- Lighting up a fire tonight, he looks at the flame and says "beautiful".

Good times. I'm trying to enjoy every minute.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hunter thoughts from Florida

Some Hunter observations from our recent trip to Ruth's place in Bonita Springs, FLA:

I love it when Hunter has an announcement to make. He'll stop, lean his body forward, screw up his eyes in concentration, and raise up both index fingers and say "Wait! Hunter will be right back!" or whatever important think that's on his mind.

We were putting him down to sleep on a twin bed, so I was lying next to him one night, rubbing his back, when he started giggling hysterically. His eyes were closed, but something was amusing him, because he was laughing on and off for a good five minutes. Then he passed out, just like that. What a way to fall asleep - happy and laughing.

In Florida, we obviously didn't have all of the toys that we do in Ashland, so we had to be a bit creative when coming up with stuff to play with. The most amusing thing was water bottles. We drink a lot of bottled water when we're down there because the house's well water just doesn't agree with me, so we've got large gallon+ bottles for the house and smaller bottles for trips in the car. Well, one afternoon Hunter literally spent two hours playing with water bottles. He'd get daddy to fill up the smaller bottle from the pool, and then sit down next to both bottles. Then he'd count with his inexact command of numbers, always starting with three: "three, pour, six, sephen, eight, GO!" and quickly unscrew both caps, then pour the water from the smaller bottle into the larger one. This happened a few times before he would upend the by-now relatively full larger water bottle, spilling water all over the pool deck and himself (he spent most of his pool time naked) and cheering loudly.

Another good activity was throwing balls. Hunter would stand in front of the garage looking down the slight incline to the other side of the cement driveway. The balls could be throw or rolled but they would end up in the grass, be collected, then tossed back to the garage where another round of throwing would commence. Occasionally, the balls would be thrown up in the air, or he would gather them all up in a stroller and then walk the stroller around the driveway.

As Hunter gets older, he's expressing his opinions more and more. Our current favorite is when he'll stop in the middle of something and just say "I happy." Another example is when we were flying back to Logan, he kept repeating "Boston" and was so excited to know where we were going and to be going back home that he would say: "Boston! I love it!" He's been telling us when he's having a good time by saying something like "Having fun, Mommy!" or even just stopping what he's doing for a "love you daddy". it's really fun to see him coming into his own. The night after the first day back at day care, he was excitedly telling me that "I played with friends!" and listed them out for me: "I played with Gabby, Danny..." Etc.

Probably the most amusing thing that occurred recently are his imaginary phone conversations. he'll steal a cell phone and walk around the house "talking" on it. When traveling, this distraction can be a godsend, so in the car at one point, he was talking on the phone, but this was a real conversation; he was pretending to talk to "JenandMax":

"Oh hi Jen, [unintelligible murmur] Max [la la la], Dave, oh wow... cool!" And then he hung up the phone.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

RIP Buffalo Bills

The Bills, as if anyone doubted, are officially done for the 2008 season after their embarrassing loss to the 49ers. The Democrat and Chronicle attempts to inject some black humor into their coverage - the only type of humor you end up with as a Buffalo fan.

The other Buffalo hallmark is to have your hopes built up only to have them crushed in the most debilitating manner possible. After all the promise shown by their scrappy season last year, and then this season's 5-1 start, this season ends up like the rest: a depressing whimper with promises of next year. Not sure why I subject myself to this year after year.

Quote of the Day

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.

- Mark Twain

HT: Tom Tomorrow

Monday, December 1, 2008

First Line of Oakley Hall's Warlock

"Deputy Canning had been Warlock's hope."

So far - i'm halfway through it - Warlock is a fantastic book, if a bit unrelentingly grim (I know the hardscrabble life was tough, but no one joked at all back then?) It's about a small mining town's efforts to install "law and order" and what that means. Thomas Pynchon, as usual, has the best take on it.

Orwellian Blogging

This is amusing: Orwell's 1938 journal in blog format.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunny Florida

I'm off to visit my mother-in-law for the Thanksgiving break. She doesn't have internet access, so this space will be off line until at least next weekend. See you then!

Netflix for books?

This idea sounds intriguing - basically a library with (i'm assuming) a better selection and lots and lots of shipping stuff back and forth. Can't imagine it'll really take off, but it's worth a try.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yawn

Another trying week as Hunter continues to wake up for good at 2:00 - 3:00 AM. Combine that with deadlines at work and a upcoming vacation without internet access, and posting will probably be light until after Thanksgiving.

Anger Over the Dial

Andrew Sullivan reminds me of a great quote from DFW's piece on talk radio that was published in The Atlantic:

"KFI's John Ziegler is not a journalist — he is an entertainer. Or maybe it's better to say that he is part of a peculiar, modern, and very popular type of news industry, one that manages to enjoy the authority and influence of journalism without the stodgy constraints of fairness, objectivity, and responsibility that make trying to tell the truth such a drag for everyone involved. It is a frightening industry, though not for any of the simple reasons most critics give."

Ziegler is such a classy guy that he used the occasion of DFW's suicide to publicly blast the newly deceased. Good times.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Italian Shoes Continuum from Motown

The thought of Stereolab playing a Motown album is really intriguing.

The Ghost Of JP Losman

I'm actually hearing J.P. Losman's name again and I don't like it one bit. Let the Trent Edwards play through his struggles; there's no other option at QB, and the Bills aren't doing anything this year anyways. Let him play and learn and tool up for next year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Take a Deep Breath...

Last night's game was such a typical Bills game in that they played just good enough to keep themselves in it (and keep me up late watching), and just bad enough to lose the game. Trent Edwards, alas, looks awful, despite of their good running game last night - Marshawn Lynch finally played like we expect him to. Regardless, the Bills aren't good enough to win without Trent Edwards playing at a high level. The rest of this year will be all about getting him back to where he was. (Paging James Hardy: now would be a good time to start living up to your promise!)

That's the season in a nutshell. I didn't expect great things from this team until they played so good at the start of the season. That's what makes their poor play as of late so much more disappointing.

To calm myself down, let's take a look at this passage from the Tao te Ching:

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Evil is a strong word, but...

This is just depressing, all the more so because it will probably work.

Sleep Deprivation, or How I learned to Relax and Enjoy Two Hour Bedtimes

This weekend was a tough one. Hunter, since birth a great sleeper, all of a sudden has stopped wanting to sleep. Last Wednesday, he woke up at 3:00 AM and just didn't want to go back to bed, and so was up for the rest of the day - surprisingly, without any serious behavioral repercussions (no extra tantrums, etc.) If recovering from that wasn't enough, this weekend at my Mom's house in South Burlington, Vermont, he learned how to escape his crib, so not only did it take an extra long time go get him to sleep without the borders of the crib, but he would wake up in the middle of the night and end up sleeping with us. He really thrashes around in his sleep, and is a pillow stealer too boot, so this is an unacceptable turn of events.) Now we're back home, but he now knows how to get out of his crib, so it took us - and by us I mean poor Kelly - 2 hours (!) to get him down last night. I'm starting to think that we may need to move him to a bed, which doesn't bode well for the holidays (we, of course, are traveling for both Tday and Xmas). It almost feels like i've got another infant!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Preconceptions

One of the interesting things about taking the train into work is all of the characters that you see and (sometimes literally) rub shoulders with.
Yes, most of us are yuppies heading into town (my train is heavy on be-suited WSJ-reading middle-agers heading into the financial district), but there are still many fascinating faces to look at. And occasionally i'm pleasantly surprised about some of the things that occur. For example, a week ago, I was sitting between two people who, unbeknownst to each other, were reading the exact same Carl Hiaasen novel (Basket Case, I believe it was).

This morning, an extremely stereotypical Boston suburban woman got on the train at West Natick -- clad in designer jeans and black wool overcoat, she had a fashionably large purse with visible stitching and lots of accessory pockets and straightly pure is-it-dyed blonde hair. At first I dismissed her outright, but noticed later that she was reading Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, not your standard light
train read, and not something that my assumptions had led me to expect.

It's good to get out of my perceptive ruts now and again. Sure, everyone needs to use preconceptions to exist, lest you spend every waking moment questioning the reality of everything you encounter like the amnesiac in Memento, but over relying on stereotypes lead you to missing out on the (hidden) depths of everyday life.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tired of Bailouts

Andrew Sullivan points me towards this concise argument against a bailout for GM and other bloated American car makers that have constructed bad cars for years:

"A bailout of GM would be a pure exercise of political power to deliver taxpayer funds to one organized group of citizens at the expense of the country as a whole. It should be avoided."

Another Reason for your Vote

The future Commander in Chief collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics.

Hulk Smash!

I'm not a Hulk fan, but I used to read the Defenders. In fact, I believe I read this issue as a kid. Awesome stereotypical 70s-Marvel artwork.

Be sure to click through to see Vermonter James Kochalka's Hulk vs. the Rain mini-comic.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From Pattern Recognition

"The Fanta has a nasty, synthetic edge. She wonders why she bought it. The tabloid doesn't go down any better, seemingly composed in equal measure of shame and rage, as though some inflamed national subtext were being ritually, painfully massaged, for whatever temporary and paradoxical relief this may afford."
William Gibson, Pattern Recognition, p. 229

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Very Eloquant

The quote of the day.

Annoyingly Ignorant Talking Heads

I just walked into my company's kitchen to get some coffee and CSNBC was on and the talking heads were blabbing away about who they think Obama's going to appoint as the Treasury Secretary. Specifically, they were talking about Larry Summers and all of the four white males were decrying that "this political correctness stuff" would probably prevent him from being nominated. The sole female in the group was the only one to mention that the debate was not a nonsensical one because his sexism was so blatant he had to leave Harvard. So, of course, one of the males started asking her if she had ever taken calculus or trigonometry, and, when she replied in the positive, so, insinuated that she must have taken it pass/fail.

This is a major television, populated by pundits who apparently don't care how sexist someone is as long as he can make them some money. Depressing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Revolution Will not be Printed

Check out this long-overdue overture towards adopting the "content is free" notion for book publishing here.

I have a couple of quibbles about this. Mainly, the notion that "Authors don't care about units sold. They care about ideas spread." seems a bit too naive too me. Of course authors are interested in making money off of what they do. The other main factor is the love that readers have for their physical books. Now, someone may come up with a better way of reading someday, but I love having the physical object in my hand, with a nice cover and the ability to flip around as I wish and make annotations if desired. Really the same reasons why, as much as I love my iPod, I hate not being able to see large LP-size artwork, or easily access the song's musicians and/or lyrics.

Having said all of that, I think he makes a good argument, and that the Kindle appears to be the first electronic book reader that is gaining popularity. I'll be watching with great interest to see where this goes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Art and Porn, together at last

Fascinating portrait of Zak Smith, artist of the book "One Picture for Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow". He's an artist by day, porn star by night.

Thinking about the last eight years...

Glenn Greenwald brings up an important point: the refusal of the mainstream press to recognize the sins of the Bush Administration:

Instead, we'll just dismiss the last eight years as nothing really notable -- just the standard, garden-variety failures, disappointments and corruption we normally see from politicians. Hence: Bill Clinton had an affair and let contributors stay in the Lincoln Bedroom; George Bush tortured people, stomped on the Constitution, chronically broke our laws, started wars based on manufactured pretexts, committed felonies by spying on American without warrants, abolished habeas corpus, imprisoned human beings in "black sites," etc. Boy, politicians sure are bad. Let's move on and hope Obama doesn't do what Clinton and Bush both did.

There's truth there. I've given up hope that Bush/Cheney will be punished for their crimes, but still hope that perhaps Obama will reverse much of the damage that has been done.

Update: More on this theme.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Today's Quote

This would have been more fitting on Nov 4th...

"Once someone set out to learn about fear. And in the time which just past, this art was mastered, to our horror. And now, setting aside the progenitors of fear, we are due a more measured sensitivity.

Now it is of the essence that we learn to hope. The work of hope will not fail us; it is devoted to success, and not to failure."

–Ernst Bloch, Das Prinzip Hoffnung

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Electoral College

The Electoral College is somewhat absurd, a holdover from the early days of our country. I'm not going to get into the reasons why it was created, but the result of it in modern times is that the presidential candidates spend an inordinate amount of time in relatively few states. Here's a map that weighs states by their electoral college value rather then geographical value, one of the benefits of which is that you can see exactly how blue the country turned as a result of Obama's election.

Yes We Can

So happy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Who I voted for

This is who I voted for today.

Undecideds

"To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. "Can I interest you in the chicken?" she asks. "Or would you prefer the platter of sh*t with bits of broken glass in it?"

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked." - David Sedaris

Go Vote!

You know you want to. And if you don't want to, you should be shamed into doing so. If you don't vote, you have no voice. If you don't like any of the candidates, write in someone that you do like. There's no excuse for not letting your voice be heard.

V is for Terrorist

This article is a good summary of the fascinating questions that Alan Moore's V for Vendetta comix raises. In short:

"V, though he is a brutal murderer and a terrorist / anarchist, nonetheless stands up for and represents the values of the humanities, which are indeed currently under threat by the new fascism emerging at the behest of the political right and the neocons. Moore was telling us, with his great graphic novel, that unless we wish to see things like art and music and literature (and this includes popular culture) disappear altogether, we are going to have to stand up and fight for it."

I haven't seen a good answer to this dilemma. I certainly don't condone terrorism, but it's hard to argue with the steps that V. takes in the comix (even if the "reconditioning" of Evey is brutal).

BTW, I haven't seen the movie yet, so I don't know if it's any good, but the comix, despite some minor flaws, is a stunning work of art.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sigh...

Oh yeah... now I remember what is feels like to be a Buffalo Bills fan.

First Lines

The first line of what is proving to be a very enjoyable Pattern Recognition by William Gibson:

"Five hours' New York jet lag and Cayce Pollard wakes in Camden Town to the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm."

It sounds a bit like a forced, overly-literary first line (I find that Gibson's writing sometimes has that quality), but his ideas and the way he incorporates them into his stories is first-rate.

Friday, October 31, 2008

House of 1000 Corpses

Watched Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses last night. What a creepy movie. While - thank god - not the most graphically gory movie I've ever seen, it was still gross enough to make you squirm. And like all horror movie, the plot was an absurd clothes hanger for the images. But that's where the strength of the movie lay; the images were memorable, amazing, disturbing, and unforgettable. Zombie creates a lot of image collages from old movies, random soundtracks, and negative images and splices these into the movie - a distancing effect, to be sure, but it really provided an eerie, industrial-mood to the whole thing that ended up being more disturbing then any straight-up presentation would have done.

However, to me, the most effective scare tactic was the complete amorality of the characters. No irony nor camp for these villains, the glee they showed in pursuing the death of a few of the eponymous corpses was truly disturbing, and why I'll be looking for the sequel in the near future.

Hysterical

Great bit from the Daily Show.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Signing Statements

I had a conversation earlier today and the subject of Bush's illegal "Signing Statements" came up. For those of you that don't know about them, here's a little history.

My favorite quote: "In other words, it's not clear that the agencies disobeyed the law because the president said they could disobey it."

The Exchange Version of the Ruy Lopez - Conclusion

For all of you readers who care (<1, I suspect), the Exchange Version of the Ruy Lopez opening was successful.

In fact, the game would have finished sooner if it hadn't been for several unforced errors on my point. Oops.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

All Things Feel

An interesting story about taking animal rights to it's logical extreme. (The story starts after the poem.)

Unfortunately, I find most animal flesh to be quite good, and vegetarianism just doesn't have the taste nor the convenience of a lot of meat dishes. However, I've been slowly introducing more veggie dishes to my diet; I just don't ever see them going away completely.

Another interesting take theme on this theme is David Foster Wallace's famous essay Consider the Lobster (PDF link).

Blue Milk

An appreciation of Stereolab's Blue Milk, from 1999's Cobra and Phases Play Voltage in the Milky Night.

The Exchange Version of the Ruy Lopez

So I found this interesting article about the exchange version of the Ruy Lopez opening where you capture Black's knight on c6 on move 4 rather then running away from his pawns. The interesting thing is that it really opens up the center of the board for white and calls for you to exchange major pieces in favor of protecting your pawns for the end game where your opportunity for passed pawns is superior.

Of course, Wikipedia tells me that 4...dxc6 is almost always played at the master level so my opponent played 4...bxc6 instead, so the game is still a bit open at this point. If anyone's interested, i'll let you know how it turns out.

Quote of the Day

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.

–William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice. Act IV, Scene I, lines 182-95

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"A Teachable Moment"

This article reminded me why I have so much hope for Obama. If all goes well, we'll have an adult in the White House for the first time in eight years.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Heh.

"Personally, I see no reason why both can't be true. [Floridian Republicans are] being both incompetent and malicious.

Read What You Like, and Leave the Rest of Us Alone

Stumbled across this article this morning and it got me all worked up again.

Essentially, a bunch of critics these days - led by James Wood - are pulling out all of the old complaints about postmodernism again, including Thomas Pynchon, my favorite author. As Nigel Beale distills the arguement: "Is realism, "lifeness" or verisimilitude a necessary quality of good literature?"

I think the entire question is off-base. If you like something, read it, enjoy it, learn from it, tell others about it, and all is well in the world. The idea that something is a "necessary quality" of good literature is, to me, implicitly absurd. If it works for you, as an individual, then it's good literature. If it doesn't, then it's not.

I'm reminded of my trip to Napa Valley, all ready to be annoyed at the snooty wine snobs, only to be told at Saywer Cellars that "there are two types of wine. Not Red and White, but wines you like and wines you don't like." It's a refreshing attitude that I wish more of these high-minded literature reviewers would take to heart. Just because someone gets fulfillment out of, for example, a Stephen King novel - writing that some find may find repellent but that I find brilliant - doesn't mean that there's nothing redeeming about it.

I could go on and on about this, but i'll save you the rant. Read what you like. And let me know about the good stuff and i'll give it a read.

On Children

As you may have heard, Barak Obama suspended his campaign for two days to visit his ailing grandmother. (This is in direct contract to John McCain who said he suspended his campaign for two days but in actuality did not. )

This post touchingly muses on the results of having children and sez two interesting things:

1. ...too many black men see child-rearing as "responsibility" and not "personal investment."

2. Obama's mother, a relatively young woman when he was born, will not be here to see him inaugurated, should he win. Whenever, I think of that I just get sad--mostly because she did know the rewards of parenting and threw herself at her kids. There's something unjust in the fact that she won't get to see the results of all her work.

The idea of a child being an "investment", other then a cynical "someone's gotta take care of me when i'm old", is an interesting thought. I've always thought in the back of my mind that bringing a child into this world, with its mass murders, class warfare, and crazy leaders, is implicitly selfish, but this article really made me think that it's really optimistic: you're thinking that your child could really help make things better. Obama's mother certainly realized her dreams of her son making the most of himself - he'll almost certainly be the next president of the United States!

But when Coates writes that Obama's mother "won't bet to see the results of all her work", I think that's unfair. I don't believe she had a child with the goal of having him become president; she had a child out of love, and she did see the results of her work by seeing her son grow up to become a decent human who loved not only her but also others in the world. The rest of it - even being President - is really just whipped cream on top. And to call being president "results" is, I think, to cynically dismiss that accomplishment.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Interesting Reading

Some good reading:

- An amusing rant about the financial industry and hemp by a broker who's taking his money and getting while the getting is good.

- A good summary of the absurdity of the Republican "voting fraud" faux scandal. Money Quote:

"Miles Rapoport, a former Connecticut secretary of state who is now president of Demos, a public policy group, remarked that ... that with the explosion of voter registration and the heightened interest in the presidential campaign, you’d think officials "would welcome that, and encourage it, and even celebrate it." Instead, he said, in so many cases, G.O.P. officials are "trying to pare down the lists." "

It's the Green Jobs, stoopid!

I think Derrick Jackson has it right: now is the time to invest in green jobs. Doing so will help boost the economy by creating jobs, and green energy will help us divest ourselves from dependence on foreign oil.

As Robert Pollin, co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, puts it: "What we ought to be doing is rethinking regulating the financial market to channel credit into useful investments instead of useless, destructive speculations."

The lack of this investment is dramatic: "The Globe last week reported that wind turbine projects are being delayed for up to two years because the parts cannot be made fast enough."

Rare Praise, Indeed

The Buffalo Bills' good performances as of late have even the local-press curmudgeons praising the team.

What I was able to see of the game was impressive. The Bills finally look like a good team again. If they can stay healthy and beat some of their AFC East foes, then we'll be playing again in January, which is all I can ask for.

Truely Strange.

I don't really know what to make of this.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Did anyone doubt, part treis

Um, okay, I did. 99.4% chance of failure will do that to a guy.

Other then the worlds best football game (did you need to ask if it was the Bills?), i've never seen a never-say-die team like the Red Sox. They just don't quit.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Light Posting to Continue...

... for a while. We're dangerously close to a code freeze at work and all of my waking hours are spent either eating, playing or taking care of Hunter, or working.

Things you don't normally see in the light

On my run this morning before the sun came up, I saw a shooting star and three white-tailed deer munching on defenseless flower beds.

One of the deer was surprisingly un-spooked by me, and I was able to walk by it on the other side of the road as we check each other out. They really are beautifully skittish creatures.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Did anyone doubt, part deux

I sure didn't.

Did anyone doubt?

..that the Bills had lost the game the moment Trent Edwards went down with a concussion and J.P. Losman trotted onto the field? I didn't think so.

J.P. is essentially Rob Johnson (aka the Big Sack) with slightly better decision making capabilities (and that's damning with faint praise). He'll give you one or two good long bombs a game, 3-4 sacks, and 5-6 head-slapping WTF was he thinking moments. And i've had just a few too many of those over the years, thank you very much.

Having said that, Coach Jauron has it right: 4-1 is an excellent place to be. The Bills now have their bye week to get McGee and Edwards healthy (please) and to try and get their offensive line in some kind of order. Jason Peters' holdout hurt this team more then anyone's saying, and the sooner he regains his form from last year, the better.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Today's Hunter Update

Hunter continues to string together sentences. The latest one is "cup of milk" rather then just "milk."

He's also taken to reaching up and pushing/pulling your face towards whatever he wants you to pay attention to. For example, sometimes we'll be sitting at the breakfast table, and if i'm reading the paper, and he'll reach over, grasp my chin, and turn my head towards whatever he's trying to talk about. Typically, this is after several "Daddy"s so in his defense its not like he's already tried to get my attention in other ways.

The thing that continually amazes me about Hunter is his energy. He's always running around everywhere (I always joke that you can tell when he's not feeling well because he walks somewhere rather then running). It's a rare occasion that he sits down and spends more than a few minutes in one place. But get him moving, and that's another story. He'll happily ride his big wheel around the car for hours, or run up and down the hallway after matchbox or race cars.

Another "big guy" thing Hunter's been doing is walking Bella himself on our walks. He's been walking along at a good clip, holding Bella's leash, as we walk along a pretty good loop through some newer development near our house (the McMansion section, that actually has sidewalks). He does get a little tired after the loop, which usually manifests itself by him getting cranky towards the end of the walk, trying to get off of the sidewalk into the road or down into people's lawns, etc. but
overall he does a really good job. The funny thing is watching him try to "control" Bella by randomly pressing the leash's "lock" button or pulling the leash while yelling "Bella come!" He obviously watches Mommy and Daddy very closely.

Modern Art: Oppositional or Nothing?

While I don't profess to be any sort of expert on modern - meaning, recently-produced art - Andrew Sullivan pointed me towards this interesting diatribe (quotes below).

While I think the article contains an element of truth, I think that this overstates the case a bit. Many, many people - including myself, who likes to keep one eye on the art world - don't pay any attention to recent art movements or displays. We simply know what we like when we see it, and if we like something, we'll support it, or learn more about it, or tell someone else about it. (Kinda like what i'm doing now.) Part of which may explain the rush to "novelty" - it's hard to grab people's attentions - but it's also more indicative of the insular world of "fine art". These creative bubbles happen all the time. For instance, it's the same reaction I get whenever I see a clothing fashion show: It's a show for itself, outrageous clothes that no one will ever really wear for the people that created them in the first place.

I'll probably have more to say about this as I work my way through my new book.

"By universalizing the spirit of opposition, the avant-garde’s ­project has transformed the practice of art into a purely negative enterprise, in which art is either oppositional or it is nothing. Celebrity replaces aesthetic achievement as the goal of art. ...

These days, the art world places a great premium on novelty. But here’s the irony: Almost everything championed as innovative in contemporary art is essentially a tired repetition of gestures inaugurated by the likes of Marcel Duchamp, creator of the first bottle-rack ­masterpiece and the first urinal fountain.

Of course, not all the news from the world of art is bad. There is plenty of vigorous, accomplished art being produced today, but it is rarely touted at the Chelsea galleries, celebrated in the New York Times, or featured in the trendier precincts of the art world. The serious art of today tends to be a quiet affair, off to the side and out of the limelight."

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Roger's Singing

So on my run today, I listened to the good part of The Who's Endless Wire, their 2007 album. (The good part is the second half of the album, what Townshend terms the "mini opera".) It's pretty good music, but really suffers from the lack of a live drummer: Zak Starkey, their normal drummer, was tied up with his other job (as Oasis' drummer), and couldn't make the recording sessions. Which is a damned shame, because I realized today that Roger's voice really carries these songs. The pathos of Tea and Theatre really speaks for itself - rarely has Roger allowed himself such a wide range of emotions - but it's the other songs that he really carries. We Got a Hit is a pop song with good lyrics, but Daltry picks it up and makes it into a war cry. His singing on the mini-opera's climax "Mirror Door" is the only thing that turns this average rock song (the drum machine really cripples this song - it could have been so much more!) into something majestic. Just hear how he cries out the chorus... his confidence and powerful voice fills the energy gap left over by the instruments. The best is the final bridge that leads to the coda, where he repeats "Mirror Door!" several times, every time heightening the tension and energy until the song explodes and all that is left is the denouement... it's a masterful piece of singing, and I only hope that he's got more of this left in him.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bigger slump and bigger wars and a smaller recovery

Matt Yglesias points out a funny:

Meghan McCain to choose Stereolab’s "Ping Pong" as her September 29, 2008 "song of the day."

Of course, if you listen to the lyrics, the song's a rather scathing critique of capitalism (and actually quite apt for the current climate).

I'm pretty sure poor Meghan simply liked it for the happy, bouncing melody. It's only one of the songs that make the groop's Mars Audiac Quintet a must-listen.

From what i hear, their new album Chemical Chords is a return to form. (And this Boston Phoenix article sums up a nagging feeling I've had about the band ever since Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night.)

Kelly Link on the Mind

So in a synchronous moment, I read a Boston Phoenix article about Pretty Monsters, the new Kelly Link collection the night before I opened up a Best American Short Stories collection to "Stone Animals", one of my favorite of her stories (from the Magic for Beginners book).

What fun. Link's stories are glib examinations of the intersection of the normal world with that of the supernatural. Bizarre things happen and yet no one ever bats an eye. Toasters become haunted, rabbits build underground skyscrapers, and people try to live their lives amidst the fascinating chaos. Throughout it all, Link's narration dryly presents and comments upon the action: "[she] yanked at the hem of the skirt of her pink linen suit, which seemed as if it might, at any moment, go rolling up her knees like a window shade."

Or this: "Babies weren't babies, they were land mines, bear traps, wasp nests. They were a noise, which was sometimes even not a noise, but merely a listening for a noise; they were a damp, chalky smell; they were the heaving, jerky, sticky manifestation of not-sleep."

This is good stuff. Even her stories that don't really succeed are entertaining. Pick one up today!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Just to clarify

It's not that I think that the Bills don't have a good team this year; they do. I'm just not sure how good they are. They certainly haven't played many good teams: the last two teams they've beaten (the Raiders and the Rams) fired their coaches this week.

I'm having fun with the season, but until Jason Peters starts playing like a Pro Bowler again, and the O Line can start blocking for Lynch on a consistent basis, i'm going to remain consistently optimistic rather then boastfully happy.

Having said that, this Edwards kid is a keeper. Mark my words.

Number Four!?!!

This week's NFL power numbers are starting to come out, and the Bills, being one of only two undefeated teams left, are ranking in the upper single digits. Nice to see, but strange after all these years of being extra bad.

Um, they're laughing AT you...

I can't say I didn't see this coming, but now that the moment is finally here, it just makes me sad. What an absolute waste the Bush years have been.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Books I Want to Read for $300, Alex

Neil Stephenson's going to be publishing a new book shortly called Anathem. Not sure when i'll actually be able to get around to reading almost 1000 pages, but his work is exciting, intelligent, and fun as hell.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Quote of the Day

Don't forget the real business of the War is buying and selling. The murdering and the violence are self-policing, and can be entrusted to non-professionals. The mass nature of wartime death is useful in many ways. It serves as spectacle, as diversion from the real movements of the War. It provides raw material to be recorded into History, so that children may be taught History as sequences of violence, battle after battle, and be more prepared for the adult world. Best of all, mass death's a stimulus to just ordinary folks, little fellows, to try 'n' grab a piece of that Pie while they're still here to gobble it up. The true war is a celebration of markets.

Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow, page 105.

And now, leading your First Place Buffalo Bills...

An interesting writeup of Trent Edwards and how he came to be a starting Quarterback in the NFL. Interesting parts: He never played football before high school, and he lives with his sister in the suburbs south of Buffalo.

Happy Birthday!

Happy 2nd birthday, Hunter!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another Remembrance

Here's another good remembrance of DFW for you. I particularly like how this one places DFW and his work in context, that of a post-modernist, his place in adecemia, and also his attacks/analysis of popular culture ("It isn't worthy of satire, because it cannot use force to oppress").

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

$$$

I don't understand much of the problems behind the bailout proposals currently being debated - I imagine most of you are in the same boat. However, Paul Krugman - liberal columnist and economics professor at Princeton - is here to help by blogging about the current events.

First Place!

It was a game that they deserved to lose, but the Buffalo Bills came back to beat the Oakland Raiders and take over first place in the AFC East for the first time since (I believe) 1998, when Doug Flutie was the QB. It really looks like Trent Edwards is the real deal (it's so nice to see real QB play again), and coach Jauron is pushing all the right buttons. Here's hoping they keep it up!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Financial Malfeasance Explained

I found this article to be very informative as to the underlying reasons behind the recent financial meltdown.

Now all we need is someone to step in and prevent which, right now, looks like a bailout that is neither fair nor effective.

Hunter's Manners

Hunter's speech has been growing in leaps and bounds lately. This weekend we noticed him speaking in complete sentences for the first time: "Mommy close window"; "Daddy sit down here"; "Hunter give Bella snack". It shows that he's starting to really understand some of the words that he's learning rather then just parroting them back (although there's a certainly a lot of that as he increases his vocabulary).

Another neat thing is that he's starting to learn manners. Just Friday he started using "thank you" when he would get something that he wanted. Completely unprompted! It started out with Kelly "thank yee Mommy" and then he started thanking me too. It's not even something we've been practicing!

Another big step is that he's started showing concern for other people. Now, he's always been fascinated with other crying babies, and his teachers tell us that he'll go over to crying babies at daycare and try to give them their pacifiers. So this morning I tripped over this new wheeled bulldozer that we bought him for his second birthday (didn't fall, but did stumble) and Hunter walked over to me, stopped and said "Daddy OK?" When I assured him that I was alright, i just tripped, he repeated "trip" and then, relieved, said "oh, yes. Daddy Ok." I was thrilled, so praised him highly, but this had the side effect of encouraging him to repeatedly ask me if I was OK for our entire morning (about 15-20 minutes) which did get old after a while, but i'll take it if it means that he's starting to learn the proper way to behave around people.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bryan Ferry and Critics

So i've been doing a bunch of reading about Roxy Music online because, as I may have mentioned, I'm obsessed with them. Here's what I don't understand: people make merciless fun of Bryan Ferry, many of them by mocking his hair. (Exemplified in this pretentious knock of Avalon) And, admitably, some of this is deserved: I haven't (yet) listened to all of the stuff that he recorded - with Roxy or without - but it's clear that the late period Roxy abums are not nearly as groundbreaking or relevant as the early Roxy albums. And it does seem like some of his more recent solo albums tread water stylistically. The reviews for his most recent album – Dylanesque, a collection of Dylan covers – have been particularly brutal.

The problem I have is that if you listen to the music for what it is, you're still listening to pretty good stuff. Dylanesque may not be groundbreaking, but tell me you're not moved by his lilting tenor on Knockin' on Heaven's Door, or touched by the gentleness (!) of his take on Positively 4th Street. It’s only when you compare it to his classic Roxy toons (or even the irrepressibly joyful sacrilege of his A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall) that the songs fall short. But who cares about that! Musing about career paths and themes and betrayed promise is why so many people find criticism irrelevant: if a song speaks to you, then who cares if the guitar riff was lifted from an old Joe Walsh song or if the singer looks ridiculous in his cravat? (And make no mistake, the cover of Dylanesque makes Ferry look ridiculous.) Judging music by its look - regardless of how much Ferry influenced this trend himself in the 70s - is the cardinal mistake of the MTV era, and it's one of the major reasons why, in my opinion, why so little popular modern music really stands out as classics.

In short, sure it would be nice if Ferry could gear it up again and produce some of those weirdly energetic classics from his heyday. (I'd kill for another song on the par of Prairie Rose, myself.) The big problem I think most critics have with Ferry’s latter work is that he just doesn’t take the singing risks that he used to (just listen to what he does in Strictly Confidential). But in the meantime, listen to what we've got now and don't judge it based on your expectations, just what's in front of you, right here and now.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Obscure 70s rock

I'll be writing more about Roxy soon - did I mention that i'm obsessed? - but for now let me observe that the creativity of some of the more obscure '70s bands has really been entertaining me recently.

Other then the first five Roxy albums, another example is the drumming by Jaki Liebezeit on "Halleluhwah" from Tago Mago - Can's 1970 acid-drenched masterpiece: the guy plays the shit out of this recurring riff for all of the song's 17+ minutes. It if you didn't know better, you would think that it was the world's most soulful drum machine. It's easily the most stunning drumming i've ever heard in Rock music, rivaling even Keith Moon's pounding.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Roxy Music

So you may already know that i've become completely obsessed with Roxy Music lately. For those of you that don't know, Roxy is a UK band, led by Bryan Ferry, that was around from 1972-1983. Known mainly in the US for their 1975 disco hit "Love is the Drug" off of Siren and
their synth-pop masterpiece "More then This" from Avalon (sung by Bill Murray in Lost in Translation), Roxy Music's earlier music is much more energetic and creative then I ever could have imagined.

Probably the most impressive things about their early albums is how prescient they are. For example, I just picked up their eponymous debut album and the track "2 H.B." contains, at times, a drum stutter phrase that could be (and probably is) sampled in any number of trip-hop trax. Combine this with Brian Eno's keyboards and the song sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday.

Yuka Honda's Eucademix

Kelly tasked me with finding her some new music and, since she's a big fan of Cibo Matto (Stereo Type A in particular), I went looking for some Yuka Honda music. Luckily, Eucademix was what I found.

Wikipedia tells me that it's an album of Shibuya-kei, a mix between jazz, pop, and electropop, which is a pretty good description of the eclectic music on the album. I also sense elements of downtempo, hip-hop, and dance. It's a hip, heady brew of influences that made me feel 10 times cooler then I actually am after my first listen. For example, "Twirling Batons in My Head" could be an intense trance track as recorded by DJ Shadow, while the guitar in "How Many Times Can We Burn This?" uses the exact same tone as Wes Montgomery.

These mostly instrumental tracks are a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it.

(Not to say it's perfect. There are a few "experimental" tracks on here which are basically stylized noise, which doesn't do anything for me. The harley-engine revs and random keyboard blips and bloops of "Why Are You Lying To Your Therapist?" is indulgence at its worst. And "Spooning with Jackknife" combines an intermittent jungle-beat with bubbling-bass and random Hendrix-style guitar, a recipe which sounds like a promising update to Bitches Brew but here only closes the album on an unsatisfying note.)

Financial Turmoil leads to thoughts of Revolution

The news today about the meltdown in the financial giants (no one could have anticipated that people wouldn't be able to pay back balloon loans with no money down!) makes me think that all of these bums just need to be thrown out.

Whenever I get in one of these moods, sickened by society's invertebrate greed and warlust, I'm reminded of this powerful poem by Rimbaud:

What’s it to us, my heart, the folds of blood
And the coals, and a thousand murders, and long wailings
Of rage, cries from every inferno upturning
Every order; and the north wind gusts over the wreckage

And all vengeance? Nothing!…—But still, just the same,
We want it! Industrialists, princes, courts:
Perish! Down with power, justice, history!
This is our reward! The blood! The blood! The golden flame!

All to war, to vengeance, to terror,
My spirit! We turn in this vise: oh, be gone
Republics of the world! We’ve had enough of
Emperors, regiments, empires and peoples!

Who would whip up the whirlwind of furious fire,
But we ourselves and those we imagine to be our brothers?
For us, romantic friends, it will give us pleasure,
We never shall work, o waves of fire!

Europe, Asia, America, disappear!
Our avenging march has occupied all,
City and country!—We shall be crushed!
Volcanoes shall erupt! And the ocean struck. . .

Oh, my friends!—My heart is confident they are our brothers:
The dark unknowns, if we were to go! Let’s go!
Woe to us! I sense the shudders, the old soil,
Upon me, yours more and more! The soil melts.

But it’s nothing; I am here; I am still here.

–Arthur Rimbaud, Qu’est-ce pour nous, mon cœur (1872)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

RIP, David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace hung himself Friday night. He was only 46 years old.

I've always wanted to read Infinite Jest, but just don't have as much time these days for 1000 page novels. His short stories are always interesting - especially Brief Interviews with Hideous Men - but to me his masterpieces are his non-fiction journalistic pieces. A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again is a smart, insightful, and extremely fun book to read.

DFW was one of the few authors who always commanded my attention whenever I ran across one of his writings. He'll be missed.

Hiking in the White Mountains

I'm feeling a bit under the weather; Hunter brought home some stomach bug that's laid us out this weekend. I'm used some of this enforced downtime to clean up a rough draft of a trip report I typed up about a hike up Mts. Jefferson, Adams, and Madison this June with Chad and Eric.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Road Rage

So as I was wandering around the greater Boston area this morning looking for a parking space, I was reminded again why I normally take the train into town. Boston driving is an infuriating process on the best of days, and today there was an inordinate amount of construction, meaning that I couldn't park in either of the two places I was planning on parking. It took me two hours to get into work. If I had taken the train, I could have been into work in a cool 1:15, and have been much less stressed out.

The only reason i'm not on the train tonight is that i'm going to a Red Sox game and was driven away from the train by the MBTA's incompetence. Their schedule says that the train back to Ashland leaves Yawkey station at 10:30 PM. However, on nights with Sox games, this time is extremely malleable. The last time I was at a Sox game, I left at the end of the eighth inning so that I would be sure to be at the train station on time. Hundreds of other Sox fans and I got onto the train right on time. However, the conductor announced that the train would be delayed 15 minutes to account for the end of the game.

Keep in mind that there was no announcement in the schedule that this might happen. No announcement at the game that the delay was a possibility. The end result is that everyone that needed to be on the train was already on the train: absolutely nobody else boarded the train that night in the 15 minute delay period (I took a close look). So all the Sox fans got to miss a Paplebon save, and arrived home 15 minutes, all for absoutely no reason at all.

Note to the MBTA. One way to improve your already incredibly shitty approvial rating with your riders is to keep them informed. Strike a deal with the Sox to announce when the trains are going to be held up so that people can plan for it. (After all, we know you know who the Sox are: we're innondated multiple times a day with announcements from Mike Lowell and Alex Cora to take the T to the game.) All you accomplished was uslessly annoying your customers for no benefit. This is not rocket science.

The sad thing is that this horrible customer service will not cost them any riders; the train (or walking, or biking) is infinitely better then driving in the Gordian's Knot that passes for Boston roads. Think of this the next time someone asks you why you walk/take the train.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin: You've just Won American Idol!

I don't want to turn this into an all-politics blog, but this Salon article, about Sarah Palin being a dominatrix, was too disturbing to pass up.

From the article:

"Iraq may be a quagmire, a new cold war may be looming, the economy may be tanking and the world may be heading toward environmental doom, but the presidential race may be decided by the perceived doability of the governor of Alaska."

While she's easy on the eyes (until you comprehend what she's actually saying), I don't happen to find her that attractive, so i'm not buying what she's selling. However, I seem to be in the minority. Actual people I know have talked about how hot she is, while Matt Yglesias sez that Palin controls our dreams.

Is the typical American voter so shallow that they'll vote for someone just because they find them sexy? Or is this a subconscious thing? Regardless, I find this trend disturbing. I didn't want to have a beer with Bush, and I don't want to do Palin. I just want them (or, more realistically, their Democratic counterparts) to take care of my country for me.

I'll have some more later about what some have termed the American Idol-ization of the American political scene.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

John McCain's Moral Corruption

One of the things that has absolutely amazed me this election cycle is how John McCain, someone who used to be honorable and who appeared to have an independent mind (for a politican), completely sold his soul to the right-wing of the Republican Party in order to capture the nomination. Despite my hopes that he would then tack back to the center in the general election, he has continued to dive deep down into the murky Rovian waters of personal destruction.

Andrew Sullivan paints this picture extremely well, and it's hard not to argue with his conclusion: "McCain has demonstrated in the last two months that he does not have the character to be president of the United States." It's a good read.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Equatorial Stars

My first impression of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno's The Equatorial Stars was disappointing. It's a static album, with some "frippertronics" (where Fripp solos over taped guitar loops) but overall it's lacking in the energy and dynamicism of the fantastic first four tracks of their 1975 album Evening Star.

One notable exception is the song "Altair" in which Fripp plays a surprisingly funky rhythm guitar over spooky keyboards reminiscent of an eerie David Lynch scene.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Let's Go Buffalo!

The NFL season gets underway today, and the Buffalo Bills might actually have a chance at a good season. Despite their all-start left tackle holding out for the entire pre-season, despite their starting strong-side linebacker being placed on season-ending IR, they have a chance to be a decent team this year, even - dare I say it - contend for the playoffs.

It's tough to follow the team from long distance. They rarely get on national TV, and most of their games are on at the same time as the evil New England Patriots which blackout all other games. I'm "watching" through Yahoo Gametracker now: the score is 7-0 Buffalo over the Seahawks, and it looks like the Buffalo defense is keeping them in the game.

Keep the hopes alive by following along at Buffalo Rumblings.

Global Warming & Hurricanes

So last night the remnents of Hurricane Hanna dropped 2-3 inches of rain on the ground, reminding me that one of the worst effects of global warming is that hurricanes will be getting much stronger the warmer the earth gets. Climate Progress has the details here.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Howdy

Hi there! I'm finally onboard the blogging bandwagon. Look for this place to be nothing more then the random thoughts that work their way through my mind... stuff that's just not complete or polished enough for my website (gibsonmeigs.net).
I've got nothing for you right now, but look for something more substantial shortly.