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


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


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.


"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


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.