Hells Bells,

over 100 pageviews? Of course, half of them are me checking the site for the status of the updates, but still... kinda neat.

I feel dirty now that I've been denied access to two very different websites by this joke of a service provider - I'm talking to you Unwired Access. For some reason, it is possible to view Penny Arcade but not Mac Hall, and anyone even vaguely familiar with these two comics should understand the irony. Poor programming job, boyos - even my site has enough cussing on it to set the filters alight. Ah well.

Let me put it this way - I called the family in pittsburgh from the home of my family in southern California on christmas day. I was told it was about 10 goddamn degrees in the 'burgh, and I sympathised. Then I put my shorts on and went to play some golf with Dad-O. We went to San Diego on Monday to see U.S.S. Midway, and the weather was so perfect that I was reminded of a dream.

Also, despite the size of the open blue sky and the concentration of highly religious crazies, there is another crucial difference between my two hometowns. In Colorado Springs you can actually drink the tap water without the distinct feeling that some measure of your USRDA of essential minerals is being filled at the same time. This simple fact can have a profound influence on one's feeling of overall health.


Is this wretched excuse...

for a year over with yet? Goddammit, 2004 will be remembered forever as the Year of the Foul Swine-Herd. History's pronouncement is in, folks, and there seems to be little doubt that after a few centuries of measurable progress towards a brighter future for all humanity, the scales finally tipped the other way this year, and we are now going backwards.

We're going fucking backwards. I know I just used that line, but I'll use it again Goddammit because that's the plain truth. Only the Greed Heads and Professional Pimps are doing better today than they were four years ago, and only fools and monsters think that our human world is a kinder and more enlightened place now that the Shrub has been allowed to wage his wars. FEAR and TERROR have such a grip on the hearts of the Swine in this nation that only an ocean of revenge-blood will break them. And you know what that means - we're TOO LATE.

FUCK I'm in a foul mood. The first minute of the first hour of January 1st 2005 will not be different in any way from the minute that preceeded it, and the weeks and months that follow it may not bring relief. Now would be a good time to invest in some liqour holdings, because the only guerantee I am willing to make is that people will continue to drink. I know this because I will be one of them. So long, suckers, I'm going to live in an altogether more tolerant land. It's called Future Land, and the bretheren of my generation have finally gotten into a few top positions and are already beginning to undo the massive damage this brain-dead batch of luddites is wreaking. See you there if we both survive.


Well, I tried this once...

already, but apparently Safari is designed to shut down after a certain amount of self-serving bullshit whining rantage. I thought it was pretty good, but I'm a notoriously poor judge of the quality of my own writing.

For some reason, the other night an episode of "Wife Swap" caught my attention, and it illustrated for me a point that I don't think a lot of people really consider day-to-day. This episode concerned the swapping of a Texas rock and roll semi-goth mom and a South Carolina baptist woman's-place-is-the-kitchen mom. It confirmed, almost too perfectly, every nasty suspicion and feeling I had about these fundamentalist religious fuck-nut cases, particularly the bits featuring the baptist husband. His mind wasn't just small, it shrank as you watched him. He was so perfectly prejudiced, so delightfully ignorant, so horrifically terrrifyingly mind-killingly stupid that I began to question my own grip on reality. Objectively I know that these people exist in large numbers - they're the "core" of Red State Fucks that did what they always do on November 2nd in an election year and voted for the dumbest beady-eyed Fuck on the ballot. I have even lived among them in Colorado Springs, that smoky hamlet at the foot of the Castle von Dobson, Focus on the Family.

But this was too easy. The man (Bill, I think, Mr. Bill Fucknut) presented such a clear target for lampooning that even the Iraqi National Guard could have taken him out, were they equipped with sarcasm instead of second-hand U.S. small arms (and here, the obvious joke would be "maybe they'd be better off with sarcasm," and that's just as cheap a shot. But come on, you were thinking it. Knock-Knock Joke Mortars and Funny Rhyming Humvees and Trenchant Wit Grenades and oh okay). And at some point towards the end I began to notice that the extraordinary level of editing - that is, splicing together short clips that may or may not be in correct chronological order - couldn't be due solely to time constraints. The staccato nature of the sound bites in particular bothered me, because it clearly destroyed the natural rythm of the conversations that were "taking place" on camera. Whole sentences would end and begin at unnatural times, sometimes a syllable or two shorter than they should have been.

But everything we see on television is edited this way, to one degree or another. That's why they call them shows. If it's on television at all it is by definition entertainment, and entertainment does not have to be real. In fact, it's generally better if it isn't. But these quote-unquote arguments that happen on Reality Television Shows never ever ever happen exactly the way we're made to think they do, and anyone who thinks they do needs to move a few feet back from the screen and check their pulse. Everything you see on that screen, Everything, Every Fucking Thing, is Edited to appear that way. All of it. From news interviews to America's Most Painful Pratfalls, nothing is real inside there, nothing, and the degree to which we Fat Americans depend on it and accept what it says unquestioningly is really, really fucking scary. I am both fascinated and terrified by the prospect of witnessing the next fifty years of our specie's development, because now I have a genuine fear that we'll start going fucking backwards.

What do you think, too much? So far Camino has behaved well, but it set my processor activiy monitor aflame with activity, and something called the "TrueBlue Environment". WTF? Why isn't it all just one fucking thing, one application one process, give me a break.


I suppose it's true...

that I'm one of the most vanishing of minorities, especially in God's America. That's right, no one in particular, I'm an Atheist. Been out of the closet for a while now, yessiree. Haven't been hit by lightning or run over by a Jesus Fish Magnet delivery truck as of yet, but it's definitely odd knowing that something like 98.6% of the other humans I see walking around me believe in an invisible super hero that lives in space and punishes people for wrongdoing after they're dead.

BTW, here's the credit for that description. GYWO is superb satire, because it isn't satire, really, it's just raw disgust channeled through some cheap red clip art and fantastic dialogue. And my contacts ache, so that's all for tonight. Future Self, if you're reading this, I get the feeling that a humongous rant is building in that dark, dark heart of yours, so here's hoping it gets out soonish.


Yay! It's there...

on page 624 of the gallery, I think. Yeah, that's it. One of the only pictures of me to ever make it onto the Inter-Web, my PowerBook Pallas has a message for the rest of the world.

I like it.


Good reading...

comes from odd sources. Consider this document, which has been handed down to us from our dear James Madison, one of the Founding Brothers. One passage in particular stood out to my eyes:

"Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just Government instituted to secure & perpetuate [liberty] needs them not. Such a Government will be best supported by protecting every Citizen in the enjoyment of his Religion with the same equal hand which protects his person and his property; by neither invading the equal rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade those of another."

Such profound wisdom may be plumbed from the depths of our history with disconcerting ease. What modern politico could hope to match such eloquence, and what chance would a cadre of such people have to effect change in our hyper-polarised political world? Makes me whistful for a time I was never a part of.


Lines like this are why I love...

Teen Titans.

"Bumble Bee! Release the Mind Control Squid!"

Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha HA HAAA!! Seriously, that show's got it where it counts.


To take arms against...

a sea of ignorance, and by opposing, end it? That seems to be the Question of the Week, whether 'tis nobler in the heart to suffer the taunts and jabberings of a slate of morons in order that their voices might be countered. But for the majority of my time as a registered Democrat, I've not been excited or energised by the party and it's machinery - rather, I've taken solace in running counter to a party of fear, superstition, and naked ignorance. Against such a tremendous front of Red on our map of America, is it really possible to fight against the Elephant without by default aligning with the other side? I was prepared to wear the ribbons and devices of our nation's armed forces in order to fight for America, but the new militancy taking hold among the Opposition would pit me against America. How is this behaviour any better than the "enemy"s?

I know, an Obviousman standard! I'll fight ignorance on both sides.


Well, that felt good...

but solved nothing, as always. Plus, now that the spleen has been vented and the balance of precious bodily fluids restored there are a few things that have become clear. John Kerry might have run a poor campaign, but he also faced the most rutheless, well-funded and hyper-disciplined political machine ever created in America. JFK walked up to the firing line with a revolver and watched as a tank battalion rolled over the hills towards him, and the fact that he came so close to winning despite the odds and the forces arrayed against him is a testament to the power of decency and real courage in politics. These ideals are oft overlooked because no one wants a Smith & Wesson when you could be driving an M1-A1 Abrams, and here I could delve into the similarities between the candidate's philosophies and their chosen weapons ad nauseum. Suffice it to say, if you bother to ruminate upon the contrasts offered, the illustration is simple and clear.

That is all for now. I wished to leave something in the great un-read blogsphere that was less vituperative than my last post. In the weeks and months to follow the forces of decency shall regroup and forge ahead, and we will prepare however we must to make sure that 50% of America is not squashed into the treads of the enemies' armour.


Congratulations! And Welcome...

To Four More Years of Bombs and Poverty! This race was John Kerry's to win or lose, and he lost it, folks. He did not have the Fire in his belly, or the ability to connect with the American population on more than an intellectual level. Reality has never had anything to do with who was going to win, so in a way the whole Bush line that "we make our own reality" has plainly become the truth. People don't actually know who will make a better leader until that person's leadership is tested, but people obviously believe that Dubya is the stronger man. John Kerry could not make himself look strong, not to save himself or the Republic.

Obviously a bare majority of Americans really are that terrified of Terrorists and Fags and Abortions. Obviously it is not necessary to appeal to Hope when an appeal to Fear is so much easier to understand and so much more effective. Make no mistake: Bush lives on, runs on, and governs by Fear. The Alternative, we are told by the ads and Dick Cheney, is a pack of wolves that will eat your children and steal away your bibles and turn those left alive into Queers, and so the man who can save you from those wolves will be your saviour no matter how ghoulish his true agenda.

We The People have given George W. Bush a brand new rubber-stamped permission slip to continue on his Riteous Course, and anyone who buys the line from Sen. Frist that they will govern more moderately this time around should have their ears plugged with molten lead, because they're obviously not using them. We have told the world to Fuck Off and Get Out Of Our Way. We have the tanks, friends, and we'll decide where to park them, thank you and good night. Anyone who thinks that Iraq will be fixed before the next Islamic china shop is torn apart has learned nothing and has no sense of history, and anyone who expects the rest of the world to do more than wring it's hands together and pass a few resolutions has learned even less. Nothing short of massive economic and diplomatic retaliation will ever convince Americans that it is a poor idea to have a bald-faced jack-ass in office that bitch slaps foreign leaders into doing things the American way. And nothing will ever convince Dubya that he was wrong in the first place. America is Too Big, Too Great, and Too Powerful to ever be swayed by the pygmy voices of other nations, and that will never change so long as our taxes go to Halliburton in order to fix the things that our fine Army breaks.

I am strangely at peace with this result. It is clear, now more than ever, that America is truly ruled by fear. In 2000 it was Bush who accused Al Gore of trying to "scare people into the voting booth." That ranks as one of his most subtle yet important hypocrisies. "Why Take The Risk?" shouts another Bush ad that ran every thirty seconds in the week before the election, apparently referring to the risk that John Kerry will personally take all the money from the CIA's bank account and give it to AIDS patients and homeless unwed mothers. Or start non-stop shuttle service from Kabul to Cleveland with special discounts for guys named Mohammed. Or use the National Guard to take over all church basements and turn them into no-questions-asked 24 hour abortion clinics.

Don't laugh. People are afraid of this, which is why 11 states just made gay marriage illegal. The specter of a Homosexual A-Team driving around in a van and breaking into your house at dinner time to turn your innocent little boy into a Lover of Men is real to these people, on some dark fundamental level, because a piece of paper that says two humans are married cannot possibly justify that sort of reaction. Americans are deathly afraid of Terrorists and Gays and Non-Christians, but they are not afraid of Tomahawk missiles or Stryker APCs or F-15 Strike Eagles. Those are the weapons of God and Justice, and to date they have killed or allowed the death of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians. Iraqi families are afraid of those weapons, but their deaths are totally justified by the two buildings that fell down on September the 11th of 2001. The tens of thousands of children's bodies that lie mangled in the streets of Baghdad are just a part of that "group of folks" that "hate freedom." Killing them is necessary, ladies and gentlemen, until as Mr. Rumsfeld said they become "tired of killing themselves."

Congratulations America. Your fear will rule the world and the future of our children for the next seven generations. God Bless.


Attending a mini-rally with Reverend...

Jesse Jackson was good for the soul, even if I'm not traditionally moved by populist emotional appeals. People chanting in a crowd, no matter the message, always creeps me out. But this was helpful because after all the reading I've done, and all the polling that's taken place and been ignored, and all the reporting that has been spewed out of that God Damned Television, I really do feel that Kerry will win. If the "likely voter" polls now show an absolute dead even tie, then the massive new voter registrations and minority (read: Black) votes will almost assuredly tip the balance. Republicans tend to get a consistent degree of support from their registered voters, and if this one election were any less crucial I'd say that they'd probably win, although with an unacceptably thin margin again.

But I have the feeling that people are really starting to wake up en mass, and are considering just what another four years of Dubya would cost this country. It still shouldn't be this close, but it is. This time, however, it will be close in our favour.

5 days to go.


We are slowly working...

towards an understanding of the consequences of electing Dubya in 2004. My own family is very well split, but there are a few normally staunch conservatives that are beginning to balk at giving our current White House another four years to run willy-nilly around the world and blow stuff up in the grand delusion that it somehow makes us safer. I really really hope it's not too late, although it appears that the registration rolls in PA favour the Dems by a steady margin, and one thing you can be sure of in this election is that when people register under a party they're going to vote for that party come Nov. 2.

Sweet Merciful Jeebus, less than one week to go.


I watched Jon lay down the law...

to Msrs. Carlson and Begala on the taped and now world-widely distributed edition of Crossfire that Mr. Stewart appeared on. My impressions are thus:

1. He said many things that needed to be said, such as "You're a part of their strategies." "You have a responsibility to the discourse in America." And "The lead-in to my show is about puppets making crank calls. What is wrong with you?"

2. Debate does not involve shouting loud enough to drown out the opposing voices. When Mr. Begala claimed that Crossfire was a "debate show" he ignored this key distinction, and the two gentlemen proceeded to illustrate this by repeatedly interrupting Jon and shouting their points and questions at him.

3. Much of the news that fills up "the cycle" in this era of 24-hour power networks isn't really news at all, but fluffy incidents of little import that are blown into proportions enormous. It's fairly disgusting, and as a trained Journalist it was always one of the turn-off of the profession for me. And it is a powerful and damning statement indeed that some of the best journalism practised in America these days is done by professional comedians.

Sad, yet true. What does it change for Crossfire? Not a whole hell of a lot, except that perhaps a pang of conscience shall visit the minds of those responsible for journalism's downfall, and the citisenry who allow it to happen.


I had to explain...

to the nice man in the coffee shop why my bumper sticker "Bush-Orwell '04: War Is Peace" was an ironic message, and not meant to imply literaly that a state of war means tha there is peace in the world. He was receptive, and open to discussion, so there is hope, but I worry sometimes that I'm being too clever for my own - and Our Republic's - good.

I met the clever girl that had been putting up contrarian Homecoming Queen posters next to the mass-copied photos of semi-attractive guys and gals, messages like "This Toaster For Homecoming Queen: Brought to you by Bread." They've been torn down, but to me that says that at least people see them, for the smaller message at the bottom says "Wake up and vote for something important."

Please Jeebus, bring that date ever closer. 15 days to go.


I Wonder Why...

this particular image from the large collection at Exploding Dog.com is so singularly fascinating to me. On the other hand, I know exactly why, but part of me continually questions. It is a simple, direct, beautiful condemnation of everything this !President has done in the "War On Terror." We all knew that the right thing to do was avoid a costly war waged for a dubious purpose. We now know that we were not only right, but prescient. We knew that Iraq was not a threat to America. We knew that war would not solve our problems, but worsen them. We knew the costs would be devistating, not in lives or money but in spirit, the one thing that America has had from it's first days as a peice of parchment in 18th century Philadelphia to the days following 9/11, when we were all Americans. I wept when a German mourner held a sign up in front of a camera that said "Freiden," because we knew for certain that at that point that we had real hope for a better future for people across the globe.

And now what do we have but contempt? 18 days to go.


How do you trust...

a cafe full of strangers when you have to poo and your laptop is still hooked up to everything and your food and coffee is only halfway eaten? Generally, I do one of two things: Pack it up early. It takes a few seconds to get Pallas disentngled from the local power outlet, but all told it's pretty painless. Most of the time I rely on her size to keep her anchored, the theory being that someone would have to be real real dumb to try and run off with a 17' screened laptop once everyone else in the establishment has seen me bring it in.

And lo, I'm proven right again!

Any suggestions for getting rid of an all-pervasive static electricity field in one's apartment? Every article of clothing I own adheres. AND, as though there were a God and he had set himself to thwarting me in all Earthly endeavours, someone moved into the apartment above mine and almost immediately began playing loud rap music into my kitchen. The change was instant and remarkable. I moved away from the University to move away from the noise and pig-habits of my neighbours, above and below and next of doors. Initially, things went swimmingly, and I treasured the silence that seemed to pervade my new home. I also took comfort in the assurances of my landlord that intra-building disturbances would be met with the most severe disapproval. I shall call them today and discover specifically what actions may be taken, but the issue for me is larger. It is the fact that simple courtesy, the understanding that the actions we take in this universe have instant and real consequences in the lives for other people, has disappeared with the introduction of powerful stereos. It is impossible to walk any street in the cities of America without hearing at least one good string of "Fuckin' bitches and hoes" repeated as refrain to some mindless Casio keyboard bass line. This is an insult to many things, personal dignity and simple privacy foremost among them. And unfortunately, I'm sufficiently offended to fight against it, particularly when such refrains make their way into my private life whether I want them or not. It's Just Wrong.


Dirty stinking...

rotten filthy useless ORGANS! Damn. Whining Now changes nothing about Then, but it can help to ventilate the spleen. Thanks to this disease, over the past few years the doctors seem to have made a habit of taking pictures of the inside of my body. This is fascinating and disturbing at the same time, allowing the suffering patient to observe the cause of their suffering while being powerless to do naught but watch.

I had a similar dream this morning as I lay recovering from said photo-op, in which I witnessed the aftermath of a car crash and was powerless to help anyone but the victim's dog. It was a little grey shaggy thing with a leash, and there was definitely the strong sense that I was useless in any other capacity than to hold on to it should the victim survive. I'm sensing a common thread here.

Watch the debates. Anyone who truly cannot make up their mind, who honestly believes that there is little difference between the two candidates, is merely suffering ignorance. I'm not kidding. At this point, there should be no questions left in the mind of the concerned citizen.


Another Sunny Day...

Well, that's the name of the song, anyway, and it actually is rather nice today, at least outside this window. This idea has been percolating for some time now, but I've yet to confirm it with any other iChat users: iChat's unique (read:immediate) presentation of your buddy list and the away messages listed therein makes it much easier to think that just saying Hi is a good idea. It also makes reading said away messages something of a hobby, witness this sample:
"Arbeit erledigend... und jen saugt Kugeln."
"Don't eat your soul to fill your belly. I think that's how the quote goes, anyway..."
"This window is named for me. It is also named for you. We share in it."
"my life is so exciting I might die! i hear the ice cream man!"
"i'm so afraid of waking... please don't shake me... i must be dreaming."

I also still get a kick out of downloading crap on the campus wireless at speeds exceeding 120 kbps. Why is that? One could link it to the kind of thrill that gearheads get from slamming new headers on their V8 gas-eater and feeling those extra thirty horses push their stomach into the seat. Except for us the thrill is more intellectual, at least, one hopes that no one in Nerd Land experiences a different physical sensation when bandwidth is maximised.

I came up with an idea for a webcomic. Nerdslayer would be a consummate Nerd himself, utilising all form of wireless devices in his quest to set free the infinite mountains of information in the world. But he is the sworn enemy of the Common Nerd or Helpless Geek, those who give his kind a poor name and reputation by laughing loudly over their previous D&D exploits in the Land of the Night Elves, wearing long unkempt ponytails and shirts three sizes too large for their frame (disregarding those whose frame is substantial enough to require the largest size of garment), and the placing of Japanese techno-pop in any form of public music system. Mind you, similar uncouth behaviour in others is just as perverse and detested, but we must pick our battles.

Using a special reinforced and alltogether sharper-edged 17" PowerBook and an arsenal of discarded AOL CDs and hockey-puck iMac mice, Nerdslayer would hop from campus to campus and office block to office block kicking nerd ass and forcing them into more socially adept behaviour through concussion, amnesia, and tailored relocation/resizing of garments. He would discourage the use of pointless electronic devices and inappropriate use of common ones, mainly cell phones.

You might ask yourself, if you care (which is more than doubtful), if some event precipitated this idea to form itself? The answer is yes, and no. Yes, because there was a minor incident in one of my classes regarding one of our token "I think I'll use my cheap-assed laptop to take notes in class because it's still more sophisticated than you mongrel lead-eaters" that, while too boring to get into, caused me to remember all the little moments I had felt the above frustrations, particularly at my place of work, the University's instructor media services office.

Also, The Ministry of Truth is apparently open for business, capitalism being an odd sort of anethemic enterprise to involve itself in. The bumper sticker with "Bush-Orwell '04: War is Truth" now adornes Pallas's backside, and the response around the campus has been either curious or positive or both.


Substance? Nay...

But there was a strange lack of, let's call it idiocy in the debate last night. One can almost use the word "debate" to describe it and not raise the hackles of a dead William Webster. It is as close to a truly substantive discussion betwixt the candidates as we're likely to get, and I can be happy with that if Kerry continues to whallop Bush.

Wallop. H or no h? Either way, the word is appropriate, for a whalloping is what Bush got (and gave himself). He became particularly upset, and I thought this was brilliant on Kerry's part, when his father's record was compared to his. Is it not evident that everything Dubya has done in his life, from the spurned guard service to flailing at Yale and Harvard Business to killing businesses of his own to his entire political existence, has been a failed effort to emulate his father? And now they even have Iraq wars to compare. Analysis can do nothing but harm Bush, and the only way it harms Kerry now is if it is done without context.

A friend of mine (who remains a friend, despite being at odds politically) can only speak of Kerry's positions without context, the whole "he was for it before he was against it" thing. What's funny is, those statements are true, and their veracity is not challeneged. Rather it is their complexity which is somehow worthy of scorn, and if that is how we measure our leaders then by all means give me polysyllabic conceptual iterations. The leader of the Free World should be smart.


Masochism Part II

Am I even spelling that right? Anyroad, I just had a conversation that might have convinced me of the earlier point - that people will only come around if we lose more than we've lost already. And I don't even think I'll bother writing about the debates, because I know what they're going to be already, toothless pointless insults to intellect and democracy and humanity in general. Doubt me? We'll see...

Also, it's been decided that The Big Lebowski has the best dialogue of any slacker movie ever. Prove me wrong.


Masochism as Therapy

What is this insane desire in my heart, to see Bush win his first legitimate term in this most foul year of our Lord 2004? Would it really be what the blind deaf and dumb pig voters deserve? Yes, but it's not what the country deserves. It's not what our wildlife and air and waterways deserve. It's not what our youngest children and high schoolers and college graduates deserve. It's not what our fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers deserve. And it's most certainly not what our brothers and sisters in the armed forces deserve.

But, as some have speculated, we may actually require another round of beatings in order to break the cycle. Maybe we actually need a few more million jobs to disappear and be replaced by minimum-wage part-time slots in the McMeaties or Whore-Mart industries. If a few more people's lungs are destroyed by coal plant emissions and global warming brings a half dozen more hurricanes to our coasts every year, that might be what it takes to get people to START THINKING. Only the most painful of stimuli can convince a person to hurt themselves more gently: such is the effort to get people to use their sizeable brains.


Sez yous...

Rev. Lou Sheldon, lads and ladies, president of the Traditional Values Coalition in Aneheim and obviously bat-shit crazy: "Schwarzenegger has sided with the homosexual and drag queen lobby in muddying the biological realities of male and female."

Thus he spake when referring to The Governator's addition of Transvestites to the list of people it is possible to commit hate crimes against. That's right folks, Ahhnold is apparently a closet Democrat, at least when it comes to things like gun control and environmental regulations and equal rights for homosexuals. It remains to be seen if he will turn around Cali's messy electricity situation and still-not-inconsiderable financial woes.

Shit, I didn't even know there is a Homosexual and Drag Queen Lobby. HaDQueLob (Had - Kwê - Lob. This guy lives in a bunker where he dreams of and curses that acronym I just made up.

Also nabbed one of these hotties on eBay for a considerable discount, which is awesome seeing as they're normally around $70. A wireless mouse allows for nearly total freedom in, well, mousing around the interface, which I try to minimise anyway. God Bless Pallas and her spacious design, trackpads in general just weren't designed with long-term usage in mind. Although they are a considerable improvement over the old trackball (whose mechanical vexations I miss not one bit), and an infinite distance -in whatever medium one measures quality in- from those accursed pink nub joysticks Windows users suffer with. Cast off your shackles, brothers! If not from Windows entirely, then at least rid yourself of the Nub.


Takes getting used to...

For all of last year I was known to my ROTC shipmates by my last name only. I made a deliberate effort to get to know everyone by their first names as well as teach them my own, because it felt odd to pass someone on the street and be greeted by "Hey, Roy!" instead of "Hey, Liam!" I began this year by insisting that they use my first name exclusively, since I was no longer to be a part of the Service, but apparently that was just too weird.

Now I understand that there will forever be a very small group of people that know me as Roy, and I suppose I should consider it a privilege. There may be a dozen Liams lined up in a row if someone calls our name in a crowd, but I'll know any of my shipmates instantly if they call out Roy. I think that's something to treasure.


I'd Rather be an anchorman...

Yes, did you catch the clever reference? This entire CBS non-story is brilliantly timed and executed, and there are a few things that few people seem to be considering or addressing.
1. This story about the memos being fakes broke at a crucial time for the !President, when his poll numbers were really beginning to slide and the story regarding his "missing year" in Alabama had gained some real traction with the people and the press.
2. The story that CBS reported has not been discredited directly. Indeed, the questionable memos are just a part of a large pile of evidence whose sole conclusion is that Bush did NOT serve the time that he was required to in the National Guard, and indeed was penalised for failing to report for training on several occasions.
3. SOMEONE gave CBS those faked memos. This wasn't a clerical error. This was a deliberate attempt on the part of one or more persons to cast doubt on the whole of the story, and to say that the timing is convinient is an understatement. I don't subscribe to the theory that Rove or one of his elves masterminded this coup, if only because there has been no link demonstrated or proven. That's not to say that I don't find them capable of doing so. If these pigs can sink McCain and Cleland by similar sneak attacks of innuendo and false charges, they can certainly engineer something like this.

And poor CBS. The state of journalism in the mainstream media of America is disgusting, decrepit, and any number of other d-words that mean it doesn't work. Discombobulated, there's a fun one. In the wake of the shocking success of Fox News's "We Smear, You Concur" style of reportage larger outlets with genuine respect have fought hard to equal them, sometimes imitating line for line their tactics. The worst is the "he said she said" method, in which no investigation or even thought is required, but the words of polished party hacks are aired without context or inspection. That CBS was duped is regrettable, and the investigation into the Hows of this case will be illuminating for journalists across the country. But Dammit, they were at least doing some genuine reporting! Despite it's flaws it is a step in the correct direction, but it will be ignored because the story is no longer how Bush failed to serve even in the most minimal of ways, but that some copies of some documents from the time were from questionable sources.

Witness at once the brilliance of the Bush machine and the total incompetence of the media.


Every excess...

...becomes a vice. Thus spoke the fortune cookie on Sunday afternoon. Weirdly, this is the lesson of my life, one of the immutable rules that I live by.

Pallas seems happy with this new brain. No real issues to record, even the friggin' DRM mess cleaned itself up with eerie ease. I have yet to get my second partition (Ruri) formatted with a backup plan, but the whole thing's smooth as silk.

I read Kerry's speech in NY, watched him on Regis and Kelly this morning, and am starting to wonder if it's just enough but too late. There remains a more-than-substantial block of first time voters who, like virgins, are unsure of how they will perform but are certain that the time is right.

A friend of mine is away at a College Republican's meeting. Should I send her the speech, or the text of the NIE (if I can find it)? Might be better to use documentation that's non-partisan. Hmmm...


The Recovery

Spent yesterday convincing two good friends to buy MACS, which they were going to do anyway. Played with the new 17 inch iMac, possibly drooling in the process. Spent a good three hours Zeroing Pallas and reinstalling everything with the help of the G-Bar guys, super lot. Everythings just about back to normal, except that Pallas now feels like a brand new beastie, clear mind and pure heart.

Nothing like a full reformatting to get the geek blood pumping.


Trump: America's Fattest Jackass

I don't normally watch broadcast TV except for the news (which might also be marginal), but tonight I'm almost glad I did because I saw something that confirmed just about every nasty suspicion I had about the modern business world.

At the same time a special on Prime Time aired regarding his "business empire", Trump's Apprentice ran an episode in which a man who refused to be treated differently from the rest of his sales team got axed because he refused to be treated differently from the rest of his sales team. I started watching this because the human drama appealed to me - the situation was obviously falsely induced, but the dynamic of these people interacting wasn't. This is the more cerebral appeal of these reality shows, I suppose, and in this instance it was enough to keep me interested for a few minutes.

Apparently the board room at the end of the show is where people are fired, but those who do well in one task earn an exemption for the next one that guarantees their safety in this hatchet-fest. One person who earned such an exemption beforehand and pulled more than his own weight on a team oft divided by a lack of leadership felt that his performance was strong enough to play on a level field with the rest of his teammates this time around. He refused to accept the exemption.

"The Donald," or "The Pompous Ass" as he has now confirmed himself to be, felt that his decision was so stupid stupid stupid that he should be fired, despite the depths of incompetence that were displayed clearly in the other members.

Is that really how business works? You put your neck on the line and refuse special treatment to stand with your partners and promptly get screwed for being a decent person? No wonder people think selflessness is out of style. Enjoy your multiple bankruptcy filings, TPA, you might be good at filling pocketbooks but your spirit will forever be empty.


The $117 Web Page

Ever hear of a web page that cost $117.33 to download?

I'm not necessarily complaining about this exorbitant sum, which my cell company AT&T charged me for data downloaded beyond my free monthly allotment of 5k. No, you read that right - five kilobytes. I mean only to express my amazement - and concern - that anyone in the United States thinks that 5k is a reasonable amount of free data in any phone plan. Of course, many people have similar plans, and many use their cell phones as infrequently as I do, perhaps a few times a week. But it never occurred to me that using this same phone, with all the bells and whistles of modern technology it comes equipped with, to check my email could cost me more than the phone itself cost to purchase.

There's probably a way to find out just what I was doing on August 17th that cost me $117.33, although I've reset Safari and cleared the cache at least once since then. But despite my own idiocy I think that plenty of web-savvy folk would be surprised to see a similar bill for their individual web usage. How is it that any supposedly high-tech company -far less one that specializes in moving digital datum- could consider it reasonable to charge such sums? Sadly, I get the feeling that this is part of a broader picture that illustrates just how far behind the curve America still is in terms of integrating high technology with society. Isn't it possible to purchase sodas with your cell phone in Sweden?

I think it's also indicative of America's larger problem with communications, specifically, that most people seem to feel that quantity always trumps quality. All of us have been standing in line at the grocery store while the person in front of or behind us (or, too often, both) blithely jabbers away on their phone about every insignificant minutiae of their day or week or life. In these circumstances, it is perhaps understandable if a cell company chooses to focus it's plans on voice costs instead of data. But there are a few constants in this 21st century of ours, and one should be that no one, NO ONE seriously considers 5k a month adequate for staying connected to the world. 5 megs would be more acceptable, if only for checking mail and bank accounts and so forth, although even that could be exceeded easily if a customer has mastered only weak spam-filtering techniques. (Myself, I have five email accounts and three levels of content analyzers, as well as a keen eye for when to use the dummies, say, registering for the NYT).

What this proves mainly is that I might be smart enough to get my Bluetooth-enabled phone to act as a wireless modem for my laptop (a PowerBook G4, which is actually trivially easy to set up in this regard). But I am also careless enough to use this phone freely without being certain of the terms of my contract. Let this then serve as a warning and lamentation: that it may be a long time, if ever, until the USA catches up with the rest of the civilised world in making data access as easily accessible as, say, toast.

Anyone else had this problem?

Dirty, Dirty Politicking

I've no quarrel with folk who pass out buttons and signs and t-shirts and register others to vote. I've no quarrel with their position or their ideology or their various states of education. I welcome debate or at least decent conversation, and I firmly believe that if your ideas cannot survive the crucible of being challenged by others then they're not worth hangin' on to.

I also think that cultural festivals are poor platforms for any political speechifying, and thus it was that I buried my head in shame during the Pittsburgh Irish Festival this past weekend. One of the sons of Bobby Kennedy was present, along with a trivial pair of Dem politicos from the area, and I don't know who was responsible for this decision but they chose to believe and act as though all good Irish people are Democrats. One two three they stood on stage and told a crowd waiting for music "And I know that all of you are going to go out on November 2nd and vote for JOHN KERRY!"

One two three they were booed into oblivion, and rightly so by my count. I will vote Democratic on Nov. 2, but for fuck's sake, I came to the Irish Festival to drink beer and buy crafts and hear good live Irish music (that evening's closing act was Gaelic Storm, who did much to erase the bad vibes that lingered). If someone had been yelling at me to vote for Bush on that stage, I might have thrown something, and I think it's admirable that no one did. But I will vote with a stain on my conscience for reasons that should have been apparent already, and were brought back to the forefront: I did not wish to be voting for John Kerry, and I think that an awful lot of Dems are beginning to feel the same way. (I have no idea what this whole "electable" bullshit is about - to me someone like Gen. Wes Clark is far more electable, and as a true political outsider would not have brought the baggage of a voting record. Also, he has a history of standing up for himself at all times, something Kerry seems to feel should be reserved for October.)

Goddammit! At this point Kerry couldn't beat a retarded squirrel with one testicle and a lopsided gait, even though this same squirrel could beat Bush. Mike Moore, bless him, still sounds an optimistic note, and I think that in the end the enormous blocks of people who haven't voted in the past will vote for Kerry, if only because there is too much to lose. But I can still be disapointed that this was not the campaign, the election, or even the choice that we were promised. The American body politik is an abused and discarded corpse, rotting slowly, surely, and irreversibly unless and until Someone with real conviction gives the rest of us something to vote for instead of just another Boogeyman to vote against.


Birth of an Idiot Nation

Yes, fellow World-folk, today is the Anniversary of the Death of the American Dream. Everyone of sense and honesty knew before the "Election" of 2000, if only in our deepest hearts, that Shrub was a swaggering countdown to Bombs and Poverty, waiting for an excuse or even a fleeting opportunity to plunge America into a permanent state of War and Fear. Constant fear is the only way that you can get normally sensible people to approve of, or at least ignore, ball-crushingly obvious lies like the Clear Skies Initiative (which shakes a finger at the Power Industry for dumping mercury and arsenic into the clouds, then hands them cotton sacks with $$ printed on the sides for contributing to "America's Energy Independence").

Think of America as a coffee shop that wants to do more business. Following the Bush model, the best way to increase cash flow is to:
1. Cut prices on all your drinks, but most significantly on the expensive ones, while leaving the lower and mid-range prices almost unchanged.
2. Initiate a "service charge" that adds $.50 to the cost of the cheaper drinks because otherwise they don't produce as much revenue as the expensive ones.
3. Build an addition at the same time that has more room for all the extra business those price cuts will bring in.
This will have the effect of both cutting revenue streams and increasing costs, which leads to "growth" and better lives for all. Except, perhaps, for the employees you had to lay off to afford your Price Cuts.

Sound familiar? This isn't all that Bush has gotten away with, no no, this sham of an economic policy is just the beginning. It scratches, barely, the surface of a 5 ton steel block of deception, cronyism, abuse of power, and broken promises. And for every promise that the President of the United States of America breaks, he breaks the dreams of a million citizens. It is nearly too much to bear, the idea that this man's lies kill thousands while those Guardians of Freedom in the press corps transfer such Rhetoric as Fact to the public. It sickens the heart and disgusts the intellect, and on this Anniversary the heroism of a handful of public servants and private citizens seems wasted in the wake of this monstrous War On Terror.


Good God I am a thorough fool.

Events precipitated that minor outburst, be sure of that, but whining now changes nothing then.



And thus it rains. Frances is unleashing all that remains of her fury upon the Eastern Seaboard, but shit, if this is all we have to deal with after what those poor Florida folk went through, there's no room for any of us to complain.

Watching a smidge of Regis & Kelly this morning hurt as much as I suspected it might, and it left me wondering what these pseudo-celebrities and all their cattle-like followers mooing softly in the studio risers would think of this Real Life shit. Who knows, perhaps I do them a disservice, but the tiny voice in my conscience which calls itself Truth says otherwise, the ugly little monster. No one wants you! Most folk believe that they have a Tried & Proven way to deal with Satan, should he ever arise from his firey dark domain, but the thing that scares them most thoroughly with no room for thought is You, Truth. But why?

Catalogue your flaws and recite them every day. This is what you work against. Catalogue your gifts as well, and this is what you have to fight with. For most, the former outweighs the latter, and that is Scary.


As things stand it's a good thing I don't have enough money for things like furnature and cable at my apartment. If I did, it's quite possible I'd never leave. Being poor has a few advantages, the most obvious of which is that you appreciate all the more the things that you do have, but if there's a second powerful benefit it would be that it forces you to entertain yourself in ways that get you out. It's also telling that half of the laptops in use here have a big white Apple in the middle of 'em. More, actually.

Gee, now that I've got some real time on my hands I can do things like provide links. What fun! Also experimenting with desktop/computer interface options, something I've done for a while but was never quite satisfied with. Got a good tutorial on how to create OSX icons more reliably, although the site's gone from my history file now. Oh well, you resourceful folk can find such things on your own if you're posessed of the motivation.


Sweet Jeebus, this is beautiful. I guess Apple "flip flopped" on their initial rejection of a flat panel all-in-one, and the result is once again a picture of what every computer maker would do if they were actually smart about their design. And this Rio Carbon thingie? I wouldn't worry about it gouging iPod mini sales. It may be slightly smaller and hold an extra gig of music, but the difference between 4 and 5 gigs of music is not as significant as some might make it out to be, particularly if your rips are high quality swag.

"Everything isn't meant to be okay." Sometimes it takes a punk band to state the obvious. To catchy tunes.


Bleargh. School begins anew for most of us, which entails things like moving and buying books and seeing people you were happily rid of for three months straight. Although to be honest I rarely run into anyone I know, much less find intolerable. The issues now are:
1. Free fast internet access. As a student I am unaccustomed to paying for web surfing, idle or productive, and there is a dearth of known costless hot spots around the area in which I reside.
2. Rearrange schedule. My Medical DQ for Naval service means that I have to follow up on Career Option #2, and soon soon soon.
3. Lack of Cable TV. Without which I cannot watch such gems as Teen Titans and my beloved The Daily Show. Might I quote briefly from the book All the President's Spin?

Comedy Central's The Daily Show is... one of the few programs on television that regularly skewers the press for its focus on process rather than substance... Jon Stewart's interviews with leading political figures are some of the best on TV. Stewart generally stickes to substantive issues; allows politicians to speak without regular interruption; asks challenging questions about the prevalence of deception in our political system; and refuses to let misleading assertions go by without comment.

Smile, America. Jon is On It.


Rather than go through the hassel of renaming this site for the fourth time, I think I'll leave it be. It will not be as accurate as it once was, however, because all signs point to me not being a Midshipman for much longer. The reasons are complex and depressing, somewhat, but the primary agent in this life change is my Hideous Disease. There is at the moment Fuck All I can do about it, so I will fail to dally upon this subject much longer. Change is the only constant.

Debating politics with family is rarely worth the effort, unless they are unusually open-minded and fair. How many of us can claim membership in a clan where obstinancy is the exception, not the norm? Not many, I fear. However, this book Crimes Against Nature by Bobby Kennedy Jr. is having a transformational effect on my mother, whose goal now is to finish with this "career" thing and go to work for Mr. Kennedy as a transcriptionist or something. For my part I shall attack this in the place people are most receptive, the "magic bullet" mentioned on The West Wing as the greatest way to affect change, Education. Hell, I had always planned to become a teacher when I retired/was forced out of the Navy. This way I get a head start on that dream.


Done with Submership!!! What a relaxing Sunday, with the sunny weather and plenty of boats a-floatin'. I've learned a lot from this place, but the most important tidbit I'll take away is that no matter where you go, People Are Fucking Stupid. Doubt me? Where have you been where they're not?

I rest my case.


Don't know why I haven't written lately, the inspiration comes and goes, I suppose. I actually wrote a poem about that once a long long time ago, but I won't subject you to it. Although "you" consists of perhaps two people, myself included.

Vacation looms once again. This time, an elder cousin marries somewhere along the south-eastern coast, and though this union may be happy I can think of only one thing; soon I shall be with the Ocean. And not even necessarily swimming in it 24-7, because I have no desire to be stung in the bum by Fish of Jelly. Several historical ship visits shall be made, and much sea kayaking will take place. My goal has always been to circumnavigate the island we stay on, but I planned to be in much better shape by this point in the summer. That I am not is due 100% to my illness, or more accurately, the medication I've been taking to control it. Apparently, several years spent ingesting a corticalsteroid can have side-effects, such as bone density loss and a malfunctioning adrenal gland, not to mention an immune system which hasn't functioned properly in a long while. Ah well, whine whine whine.

Soon also I shall be ending my time on the Submarine, seeing as my courseload next semester at Anytown U. will consist of more credits than I can count on all my fingers and toes. It's true! Ick.

Today I begin Stephenson's Quicksilver which came highly recommended by Wonko. Even if it weren't, I would have picked it up eventually because everything the man writes turns to Midas Gold.

If you can, listen to Bill Clinton's archived DNC speech at theDemocrats 2004 website. Compare it to any speech of Shrub's. Any one. Can you understand why people seem to pine for the good old days of the mid-90's?


All's well that ends... I suppose.

Despite my occasional complicity, I had to smile. The speculation has finally led to some decent digging by a sort of freelance script kiddie investigation squad, and the fact that the site is no longer hosted on blogger makes it pretty official. No experience is wasted so long as you learn from it, however, and I have indeed learned a very excellent lesson.

And now, to litter the ground with the corpses of my enemies...


Yes. I entered an essay into the 2020 Democrats contest to speak at the Opposition nomination convention. The list of finalists, to be honest, isn't very impressive. I wrote mine in a rush a day after the deadline had passed, and I won't pretend it was anything super-special, but there's little inspiration in the essays that did make it. And it might sound like I'm trying to rationalise the fact that I wasn't chosen, but I'm really not sure I want to be a registered Dem anymore. If there's one thing I could point to that's destroying our democracy, it would be stupidity, but the second thing would be our current party system. Pigeonholing ourselves seems to be a human trait, but being able to choose only one side or the other means that you're automatically a warrior/partisan for that group, lending your time and money to the cause of Us Verses Them, which in the end benefits no one.

So here we go. As soon as I get around to it, I'm going Independent.


Well, great. As though my contrariness wasn't well-enough established, reading over this description of the personality types, there's a few lines from each that fit me perfectly. It seems as though I just wasn't built to fit into one particular archetype.

Which is just fine.


It rains...

Strangely silent on the rantage of late, although I am thoroughly sick of the Reagan pageantry. How many funerals does one man truly need? Of course, I think it's pretty arrogant of us to be putting people in great boxes and taking up 3x6 feet of land for a corpse that has no hope of being resurrected.

And, if you get a chance, my 300 word turd on the future of American politics is up at the 2020 Democrats site, we'll see if I have a future of speechifying ahead of me. Eh?


"There's a secret romance blooming! Go for it, in spite of your hesitation."

Thus speaketh the Fortune Cookie Gods. That's handy, but what I really need to know is if I have in fact broken my wrist, thanks to some at-work hijinks involving another dude's skateboard. Well? Have I?


Well, I finally resurrected the Beast. The Banana Boat. The BeBop. My 1966 289 Mustang, a deadly bucket of rust and hope and burning fossil fuels. There are other Mustangs out there in much better shape, and I used to be jealous of those who could afford to replace chipped paint and fraying wires. But now I understand the truth, that I will never have the money to make it a real driver, and even if I did I would put more cash into it than I would a brand new '05 GT that would giggle as it passed the BeBop at 146 MPH. That monster should not be run, today or ever again, because each time I start it up I take a full year off my life. Today for no reason at all I drove my mother's station wagon over 100 mph on the parkway, because I didn't feel like being slow and I sure as hell didn't feel like being sane. I have always felt that, in the ancient and wise words of Thompson, if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing right, and if you are going to speed you had better make sure that everyone else on the road has reason to fear you, because otherwise you will be busted for exceeding the speed limit by a mere 10 mph and your friends will mock you for being a sucker. That is the nature of life in America, if you are discovered breaking the rules by a slim margin others will despise your weakness - BUT, if you have the balls and the guts and enough hot air in your head to bust that limit wide open by doubling it, then shit, you are a force to be reckoned with.

I should not be allowed to drive the Mustang because it is fast and accelerates hard enough for me to pass anything that is naturally aspirated, and with a few hundred dollars I could beat to paste every one of those dumb punks with tricked-out plastic four-bangers. I have crashed once already due to my love of Speed, and my 1.5 tons of American steel required $1,000 of work to get running again. I will speed again in the future, perhaps frequently, and if I crash again that car will not be worth saving. But she will have left this world the way all great Warriors desire to, in a blaze of stupidity doing what she loves best, which is moving faster than anything should be allowed to if it wants to stay on the ground.

The BeBop was built in a different era; there is no reason for that much horse-power to live under the hood of a passenger vehicle, especially one that does not like other passengers. When loaded down with friends the acceleration drops off sharply - the only time that car runs as it should is when I am driving it alone. There is room perhaps for a backpack, and the spirit of Horatio Alger screeching gleefully and reveling in celebration of this disgusting example of American excess. Cars this old and this powerful should not be allowed to run, and in any other country than America they would be banned out of sheer revulsion for their size and deadly fumes. While she is in my possession one or both of us will die, and if I live to bury her I will invest my future dollars in a sensible and environmentally responsible car, something new and reasonable but with enough strength to feed that occasional desire to move. And if I die with a Will intact I will insist that the BeBop be sold for scrap and broken up, her parts melted down and remade into the door frames of a new Mustang.


Two rather remarkable bits of writing to point out here, one that's been around for a short while, and one that's brand new.

First, the olde one. Anthony Swofford's Jarhead - A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles is awesome. You should read the whole thing, but there's a paragraph or two that I want to save for all posterity:

"Some of the men who spread good news [about war] have never fought - so what could they have to say about the purity of war and warriors? These men are liars and cheats and they gamble with your freedom and your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the reputation of your country...

Some wars are unavoidable and need well be fought, but this doesn't erase warfare's waste. Sorry, we must say to the mothers whose sons will die horribly. This will never end. Sorry."

The second piece, the new writing, I never thought I'd see. George Will is as redoubtable a warrior for the Right as there is in America, but this is actually what he wrote in a recent editorial:

"The commander in chief seems not to fathom the depth of the difficulties when he describes the insurgent cleric Moqtada Sadr as a person who will not 'allow democracy to flourish.' 'Allow?' If some bad people would just behave, democracy would sprout like tulips?"

That sounds suspiciously like criticism which, if true, is nothing short of remarkable. I always wondered how people who are obviously intelligent could support such a dunce as our !President, but it appears that the worm is turning for Dubya, as even his partisans are beginning to question the utility of this morass that invading Iraq has become. Remarkable!


I have given up on Americans. These swine no longer deserve my pity, or any other form of attention. One of them wrote an article for today's opinion section that states, boldly and for the record, that we have done nothing to earn the sacrifices that Our Brave Soldiers are making in that stupid shit-littered sandbox Iraq.

Well, son, you may be on to something. Off the top of my head I can name perhaps five Great Americans who might have been worth dying for, and even then they are remarkable not for the ways that they exceeded human expectations, but merely by not possessing the flaws that make the rest of us Fools and Animals. We have taken the greatest continent on Earth, with more natural resources and beauty than civilised humans had ever experienced, and created a generation of permanently stupid cripples who spend their time phoning in votes for massive popularity contests and writing songs that glorify their excesses.

How, O Lord, how did we so blithely squander this bounty? Of course, our scientists have just proven that there is no way for You to exist, at least, not as the all-knowing all-powerful God of legend. Are we really the image of You? Because if we are, then you're responsible not just for our weird lanky bodies and worthless sense of smell, but our Stupidity as well. These brains are activated only once or twice in a lifetime, for most of us, and even for those like myself I can count only half a dozen so far, although there is a margin for error due to the wretched state of my memory.

Life is Suffering. Hoo boy, there is no more noble truth than that one. Everyone who goes out in public in sweat pants is suffering, I guarantee it, in some form or another. Everyone who puts their beer gut on display is suffering, and increasing the suffering of others. Not because they are grotesque to look at, no - there are plenty of things in this world that elicit the gag response. Anyone that fat who doesn't give a damn will burden the health care system in some way as to make my insurance more expensive, will beat their wife/husband/children to compensate for their lack of self-esteem, and will argue for forty minutes with the ticket monkey at an airport about their "Two Seat" policy.

You can take that to the bank - I assure you. News like that comes with a warrantee.


And That, as they say in the Biz, is That. Finals are completely done for, and I'm actually considering working 36 hours in three days every week at the workstudy job I held all semester. If it weren't the easiest job I've ever had (and believe me, I've had some pretty ridiculously easy jobs) with plenty of opportunity to do nothing for hours on end, I probably wouldn't bee so hot to get back to it. But us True Warriors have ways of keeping our attention occupied, or just letting it flag and staring at the wall until time melts away. I could get some serious reading done this summer, and get paid for it...

Damn, what am I doing sitting here?


Holy Hell. Today has been absolute insanity. I awoke from my usual 1230-1430 nap (yeah, there's nothing usual about it) to terrible visions of a future dominated by half-mad mutant babies and green aliens who wear contact lenses to hide their purple pupils. "You actually WANT to be a child of these Earth-creatures? You must be CRAZY!"

Seriously, it's almost 1 O'clock in the morning (0100 by our standards), and half the people in this world that I give a damn about are still up and signed on to their AIM accounts. There's a part of this scene that is unnatural, and it's either the fact that such a large segment of the Sane human population is still awake and at their computers, or the fact that I'm still awake after a semester of preaching the benefits of getting plenty of Rest. This Squad Leader will have a lot of "'splainin" to do come next fall...
There is no other explanation.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force is written by drunks.
Directed by drunks.
Animated by drunks.
Produced by drunks.
There is no other segment of the population that would find this kind of gibberish amusing at 0034 hours. I guess that means I'm ready for bed. Hooray for finals! Woo!


Jeezus, I've been surrounded by swine and wildebeasts of all sizes. Politicians of every stripe are beginning to visit Anytown with disturbing frequency, and for less-than-alturistic reasons. The torrent of abject stupidity seems particularly thick today, and it's impossible not to believe that some malicious cosmic force is behind it.

On the upside, I found another Stephenson book the other day, and although it is short it is sweet. Read "The Big U" for entertainment. Later on I plan to collapse in a steamy pile on the leather lay-z-boy and let the cats chase themselves stupid while hopped up on canned processed meats.


From a Salon.com article about the Israel/Palestine conflict -

"But both the Palestinians and the Israelis I talked to agreed that there was one party who could break the deadlock: the United States. 'It's like two people fighting,' Yehuda said. 'You need someone from the outside to step in and break it up.' Every Palestinian I talked to agreed -- but most had become so despairing of a reasonable U.S. policy that they didn't even bother to bring it up. Clearly they'd grown weary of grasping at vain hopes. Mention of Bush brought a bitter grimace, sometimes the dark smile of a gunfighter. This man is detested."

I really wish there was a way to convey the utter contempt that the rest of the world holds Bush in to those who would have him elected. Maybe a national field trip to the middle east? Goddammit! How are the shitheads and the weasels allowed to get so far ahead in life? Is it really just cash? How sick.


It just becomes painful.

The End of Times Approaches! Finals are occuring almost daily here at U. of A. I prepare for a summer of Work while my fellow mids who are lucky enough to be on scholarship take a three-week vacation to the fleet called Cortramid. But I'm not jealous, goodness no, for I will be in North Carolina and Colorado and massive debt for moths to come.



Well, that was fun.

We were ambushed this morning by our 3rd class mids in sweat tops and cammie bottoms and roped into a PT session the likes of which we hadn't seen since orientation. I was doing fine until we had to stand at attention inside a hot (to me) gym, then my gut rebelled against the unexpected pressure and I heaved into one of the heads and nearly collapsed from hyperventilating. They called the campus paramedics and everything, took biometric readings and fed me oxygen until I could get back on my feet. By the time the whole episode was over everyone had eaten the catered breakfast, which I was kinda sad about. They had a lot of eggs and meat. A Lot.

I still don't think that many people at the unit fully understand my disease, which is unfortunate. But it's my responsibility to make sure that it's understood and that I don't do anything too stupid in light of it. In any case we earned our 3/C anchors, which is nice, and as the year is wrapping up now's as good a time as any to reflect on the lessons learned, trials overcome, competitors bested.

Maybe later.


This is quite possibly the most disgusting thing I've ever heard from anyone about anything.

It's sick. It's absolutely sick.

For those too lazy or too late to follow the link, our !President said, in response to a question about the new wave of violence in Iraq, "That's what you're seeing going on: These people hate freedom, and we love freedom, and that's where the clash occurs... it's going to take a while for them to understand what freedom is all about."

Fuck you. Fuck You you shiteating walking corpse. I'm watching my brothers and sisters die for your jackass policy of forcing people to live by the American code of freedom (and there's no shortage of irony there), and you stand here behind your SS guard and ivory-plated toothbrushes and grin like your mother just won $50 in a bingo game.

Doesn't it seem a bit wrong to anyone else that we're showing them how to love Freedom by occupying their country and dictating terms about how they should govern themselves? WTF?


Ugh. I didn't want to go to the last Sub Club meeting of the year, mainly because I've been sleeping all day since the Final of Doom and the Midn in charge of the club is a (I just found out mysoginist) douchebag. Our sub lieutennant came in and demo'd a fairly realistic game where you play a sub commander, and he talked with us for a bit. Towards the end he mentioned that if we ever get a chance to talk to some old WWII sub vets, we should, because these guys had seen and done more by the time they were our age than we will in our entire careers. Combined with the LT's obvious depth of technical skill I left our unit feeling like a ten year-old kid who doesn't know nothin' about nothin'. It's really the first time in a long, long time that I've actually felt young.
Woah. I just had my ass handed to me by a test, which I normally don't really mind. If it's a subject like calculus, the red hate for which boils in my soul to a rythmic pounding like that of an Apache helo on it's way to kill, then I pretty much expect to do poorly and it's no shocker when I do. But this was in Naval History, my chosen major, man! My fellow midshipmen relied on me last night to help them in reviewing for this test, and I feel like I've let them down horribly. The dates of battles, the major players, all things I've heard and read about a thousand times, I discovered had never really solidified in my memory. Who was in charge of TF16 in the Battle of Midway? RADM Spruance, but did I get that right when it mattered? No one can say.

Damn. It's humbling, which is good, in a way. Guess I've got some reading to do.


I just saw Dawn of the Dead. What makes this movie so fantastic is not that it does any one thing particularly well (although the makeup and effects are pretty damn good). It's the zombies. Zombies make any movie better. Doubt me? Imagine the worst film of the year, say, Gigli. Pretty goddamn awful, right? Well, just add some zombies to the mix. Now we have a terrible movie, but with an undead Jennifer Lopez, craving the flesh of the living in a non-creepy-sexual way. She eats her press agent! Then P. Diddy comes up with his peice and his homies blow her skank-ass away, but not before one of his Boyz is bitten and starts to listen to Dave Matthews before everyone catches on that he is now undead.

It also made me want to kill people, walking damned or otherwise. Mainly those who are noisy. Mainly my roommate. Damn.


Perhaps if I dedicated this blog to People Living With Intestinal Disorders, it would do some good for the greater population of Earth. Perhaps if I hosted intelligent discussion on the current state of whales, people would be interested in what I had to say. Perhaps if I actually did something with my time instead of watching movies at work and watching teevee at home I could talk to other people without wanting to kill them.

Seriously. This desire to rend and destroy the lives of the creatures I share this planet with gets in the way sometimes. Well, I wouldn't really kill them as such - I'd just send them home crying to mommy after utterly crushing their spirits. It's wrong, morally, but I feel like destroying.

Yes, give me one of the new 155mm AGWS' to play with. I've a few rounds to park in the homes of my enemies.


I was seized by an intense desire to travel to Las Vegas to see the new Star Trek dealie after veiwing the commercial for it. I guess it worked.

Last night's South Park was the sort of genius that it's going to be hard to live up to. I hope Parker and Stone haven't set the bar too high for themselves.

This crap about distributing manufactured news segments to teevee stations that hype up the new Medicare legislation without actually saying anything is beyond disgusting. The fact that many stations ran these reports without examining the source is even more disturbing, for it points to a fundamental laziness that ought not to exist in our "news" organisations.

Roommate Dirty Boy fell asleep on the couch last night with his shirt off and his hand down his pants - this despite the fact that his individually sealed room was five yards away. It must have had something to do with the amount of nasty nasty Slurricane he downed in 40 oz. bottles last night.


"Walk away, me boys, walk away, me boys, and by mornin' we'll be free. Wipe that golden tear from your mother dear, and raise what's left of the flag for me..."



Minus the music, probably the best piece of journalism I've seen about the Whole Iraq Mess was just aired on the History Channel. It's a part of their "One Year Later" series, but it was basically a montage of outstanding photography and testimonials from the journalists that went along for the ride during those first six weeks of what most closely approximated "regular" combat. It was graphic, it was real, an awesome illustration of an experience that can only be imperfectly described to those who were not physically there. Everyone who says they support war should be forced to watch it.

Again, without the music. I find that sort of thing manipulative and annoying, and I would order the whole set on disc if I could press a button to mute the orchestra. If you're not moved by the sight of five young boys whos faces were burned off by a bit of unexploded ordinance unless there are sappy violins playing in the background, then there's something really really wrong with you.


I'm going to step outside into the chilling night air and let it cool and cleanse me. Spring break was great - in the words of Peter Gibbons, "I did nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be."

-From the Creep In Chief (yup that's me. boring story, might record later for posterity, or myself)


Item the First: 9/11 in Spain. Holy Hell, who saw this madness approaching? Could al-Qaida still be sore about the sacking of Jerusalem during the Crusades? Pause a moment, for the sake of civilisation and sanity.

Item the Second: The battle heats up. Actually, it's been hot all along, the only difference is that the two sides that have been fighting finally got around to actually declaring War on The Enemy. Many broadsides have been fired and are reloading in the Royal Republican Navy, and the Kerry task force is replying in kind, if not with quite as many guns. There's also the plucky Holy Armada of MoveOn, which can count on a certain amount of popular support and an almost equal backlash as they fire what cannons they posess.

Item the Third: I'm about to blow upwards of $70 smackers on this nifty little number, but why? I can't connect it directly to any computer I own except two old Macs that are barely good for typing. It's part of the Pack Rat instinct, and I should quash it immediately. If it becomes necessary to own a MessagePad 2000 in the future, I'm sure I can find one. For now, there's a leadership conference in Notre Dame that will require a small outlay of funds, and despite the tax return I ingested last week I shouldn't be spending more than I absolutely have to.

On the other hand, everyone treats themselves to some sort of rebate extravagance... damn damn damn.


John Kerry and John McCain? Outrageous! McCain will never jump ship - he is a loyal and honorable man. His defection might inspire the more intelligent Republicans to rethink their unthinking support for Dubya, but the rest of them would be fired beyond measure to work against such a "deserter." Besides which, that would totally screw up my Democratic Dream Team ticket, presented forthwith:

Prez: John Kerry (Best option? No. Foregone conclusion? You bet.)
Vice Prez: John Edwards (What's up with all these Johns? Would bring much needed energy and southern charm to ticket, so long as personal pride does not interfere.)
Secretary of State: Wes Clark (Start a pattern with super-smart former generals, but leave this one's brain intact. Also increase southern appeal and Defense credentials.)
Secretary of Defense: This one's up for grabs, and damn hard to fill. Ideas?
Dir. Health and Human Services: Howard Dean (The doctor is in, and would do wonders for our health care system if allowed.)
Attourney General: Hmm, perhaps this would be a better fit for Mr. Edwards. Few can match his experience with the Law in this country. Only if Mr. McCain did jump on the ticket... two Navy heroes in the top slots of government? I'd be happy with as much, although it really is a pipe dream.
Dir. Homeland Security: Edward Rendell (Start a pattern with goofy former Govs of Pennsylvania, make Labor happy.)

Much like the original Dream Team of American b-ball, these warriors would make fools of their opponents and deliver Slam Dunks for the American people on domestic and foreign issues. If only they could be counted on to listen to my advice... but that is pure hubris. Hitler himself would have to be resurrected and placed on the Ticket for me to vote anything other than Democrat in the upcoming "election." Let us hope that this time around we really do have something to vote for, instead of just another boogeyman to vote against.


Well kiddoos, this is one Nasty midshipman. I haven't shaved in three days, I slept in and was late to work this morning (although my alarm clock really did malfunction. no lie.), and when I get home from work I do nothing but change into sweats and vegitate on the couch. I don't know that I'd even have the mental capacity to read a book at this point, and in any event I lack the energy to try. I'm pretty sure something's on the teevee right now, but that's a whole room away. I'll actually be interested to see how long this complete apathy lasts - something tells me I should take advantage of it while all the other roommates are away.

That's another issue, actually. I can deal with any sort of roommate, following the Worst Experience Ever at my former small downtown arts college. This foul beast I shared a two-bed with left spit cups full of chewed tobacco everywhere, turned the teevee on and up every night, piled clothes upon his side of the floor until there literally was no floor left, and even Bob help me I am not a liar failed to flush the toilet after blasting a dookie almost every single time. Compared to this dipshit my current roomies are angelic, but I'm still seriously glad to have the pad to myself for this week. "Lone Wolf" best describes me.


This is hilarious. A new nickle, put into circulation presumably because there aren't enough of the old ones to satisfy demand anymore. The front remains unchanged, while the back now features the image of two hands shaking in friendship. Who do these hands belong to? One, to a soldier of the United States Army, the other to a Native American (or Native Indian, whatever). What's wrong with this picture? Aside from the fact that we never were very friendly to the natives, I mean. In fact, didn't we pretty much slaughter and displace their entire population so we could erect a few thousand Wal-Marts?

Being a historian such revisionism - no, blind and willfull disregard for the truth - really eggs me, especially when it's paid for by the government. This one really is a step too far, gents. If we can't use images while truthfully depict what happened, let's at least stick with something that's accurate.


This story regarding comedy and news is both encouraging and disturbing. Encouraging, because perhaps network bigwigs will begin to catch on to the fact that people don't necessarily prefer polish over content. Disturbing, because anyone who considers themselves "educated" by watching SNL and The Daily Show really shouldn't be doing anything like voting. Or talking.

It was warm enough today in Anytown to wear shorts. Outside. It'll be freezing by the time I make it home this evening, of course, but it was worth it.


My roommate "Class" came up with the idea for hosting a wine+jazz party at our university-owned pad a while back. I thought it sounded like a good idea, cool music and good food and plenty of wine for all. Class's kind of people, though, are most definitely not my kind of people. I learned how to make fresh bruschetta and cut up lots of fruit for a chocolate fondu plate, and a few of the bottles of wine people brought aren't all that bad. But I can't get smashed because I work tomorrow morning, and I don't think I'd want to around these folks anyway. They club and dance and own ten pairs of shoes each, and it doesn't make me uncomfortable, it's just kind of sad. Ah well, this pinot grigio isn't the greatest, but it works okay...


Well damn. One of my erstwhile roommates is gone for a few days with his family, and the pad is already a happier place. It's not because this kid's a cruel pig-man or anything heinous. He's just, noisy. He's a noisy, noisy boy, and kindof messy and stinky to boot. He plays guitar and sings, one of which he can do well. I don't mind the guitar because he's actually pretty good, but the boy should just never open his mouth. His voice is that painful.

So I'm standing in the kitchen and one of my other roomies comes over and opens the refrigerator. I say to him, "wait, do you you hear that?" He pauses for a second, then smiles and says, "that silence?" I reply, "that's the sound of no Dirty Boy!" And we both laugh, because it's the truth. We're happier people now.

And of course I feel horribly guilty, because this sort of attitude is definitely off the Way of the kensei. However, seeing as my ambitions will not allow me to live the life of a true aesthetic I must admit to a few earthly spiritual imperfections. By and large I am not an easy person to perturb, but the difference is so immediately noticable that I cannot deny it. The next few days will be almost blissful, and it's all because a certain person will not be present for them. Terrible terrible.
Cool: it's really late and I just finished a paper that's due tomorrow - no, later today. It's the first time in a long time that I've put anything off this drastically, and being done with this project just in time feels kindof good. Of course, sleep feels better, so I'll get on that pronto.

By the by, I got a billet as a squad leader on next year's drill team. Our current drill commander claims that, with batallion/company PT a thing of the past, our positions will entail more real work and responsibility than a more traditional one. My fellow leaders and I will be responsible for the appearance, performance, and training of our squads, for unit functions and drill competitions. I'm Pumped, Oo-rah.


H+101 hours - I had forgotten just how bad "Spaceballs" was until we watched it on the bus. There are plenty of classic lines, but good God it's an awful movie. And now I have to try and drown out whatever's just been put on with some high noise - elder Beck with The New Pollution does well. The temperature drops as we wind northwards, and people begin to complain. We eat at a corral-style feeding trough, hit the head en masse, board our chartered conveyance and become one with the highways again. The seat by the head on the bus is starting to stink, dammit. In theory we have another nine hours of traveling before we get home, and are privileged to walk into our Batallion Muster with all our beads on. Then comes a full monday of crap, followed by another week and another month and the rest of the semester and the rest of this awful cursed year of 2004.

Will it be cursed? That's a tough nut to question. There is a good chance that near the end of this year, we will have a new President in some form, and in a way everything leading up to that event is just a sort of time murder. The forces of good and evil are gathering for the final showdown in our nation's capital, and when the Time of Reckoning comes one of our parties will be pistol-whipped into submission by the new Kings, who will interpret their .5% margin of victory as a New Mandate, to continue the rape of the American Dream by some new technically legal means. This doesn't have a whole hell of a lot to do with our trip to New Orleans, but it's on the mind. There's a newly minted couple in the seats in front of me, and for some reason their necking doesn't bug me. I'm owed one bottle of Corona from Mr. Green Jeans, and I can't remember buying the six pack that it came from. I think I also bought someone a syringe from a bar - Jesus knows just what was in it. GOD HATES ALL SINNERS. Remember this when the time comes for you to choose, bubba, keep that in mind when you are deciding what kind of score you want the Great Ref to put on the books next to your name. Only YOU have the power to save your soul from the eternal torments of Hell.

Shit on that gibberish. But there doesn't appear to be any more to say, so I'll let the battery on Pallas run itself out playing some soothing tunes.


H+77 hours - And so much for all that. The inspection was painless, although we got nailed for unsatisfactory shaves. Our drill commander fscked up the marching routine, but not quite as bad as the last time. The real story of that day is, however, the night, when we loaded ourselves into the Liberty Bus and, thirty minutes later, onto the streets of New Orleans. If you've ever heard tales about what a wild time it is, they're probably all true. It is a massive, never-ending party that encompasses virtually the entire inner city, and for those in the right frame of mind it could be the time of a lifetime.

H+90 hours - And for many, it was. How can you not enjoy yourself in a town that has drive-through daqueri huts? Some of us came out in worse shape than others, but our bus has the same number of bodies on it this morning as it did when we left home. No small achievement, since several of these kids were avowed alcoholic virgins before the weekend. Most were seasoned pros, or at least experienced amatures. I began the night with a pitcher of Bud at a nasty Mexican restaraunt somewhere off of Bourbon Street, continued with several cans of Bud and Heinie and Amber Brock, then wrapped things up with a pair of "Hand Grenades," the fruity drink of choice for the hip party clientel. They come in neon grenade-shaped cups, but I failed to retain either of mine. I don't remember doing much except walking around and buying drinks, but everyone assures me that I was having a good time.

So last night I stayed in and played hearts and basketball. This morning as we crossed the Mississippi Delta again I felt an even deeper longing for the sea. The ripples and crests are pillows, the foam a blanket, this endless empty blue sky the only roof I need. I could and someday will rest forever among the waves. Good Lord, what a sentimental moron - humans are no better suited to live in the ocean than they are to live in space. Whatever primitive genetic memory I'm addled with is just that, primal instinct. When the waves do close over my head God will be laughing at me, the Big Idiot, for thinking this was somehow right and proper.


H+29 hours - We had a chance to scope out some of the competition and eat in the base mess hall, which were both somewhat underwhelming experiences. Based solely on what I've seen of other teams so far, we'll fall right about in the middle of the pack, which I'm told is quite an improvement over previous years. The Colonel expressed the hope that we would come back with some sort of trophy for our new, somewhat barren display case that sits in the foyer entrance to the unit. We all gave him one of those good-natured ha ha's because we know for a fact that with our practice schedule, we're nowhere near the top. Academy kids do this for hours a day, every day of the week, so if we place in any capacity we're golden.

There was a cheesy little parade on the base, with floats and motorcycles that threw Mardi Gras beads to anyone on the side of the road. Some of us came back better equipped than others. As the time approaches for the depravities (festivities) to begin, however, I find myself less and less enthusiastic about attending a ritualistic orgy of drink and dance in the heart of a foreign land. Our Base is far, far away from Tulane and Bourbon Street, and I worry that some of these kids are learning to swim in shark infested waters, being young and new to the life of carousing on the town after dark. But what am I saying? This Midshipman hardly caroused when he could, and even now that the Curse has been lifted I am not tempted by Sin and Vice.

H+42 hours - This sentence sums it up: "It's been six months since I had a drink, and I'm in New Orleans for Mardi Gras." Those are the words of an addict, a goddamn drunk. I said that I wouldn't buy spirits for the underage amongst our battalion, and for this run, I'm not; but someone's gotta cover for this massive amount of booze if the Gunny should come back and catch us with these purchases. At breakfast a few squads from another unit came into the mess. The contrast between their unit and ours was striking; we've always known that compared to the rest of the nation we're somewhat laid-back, but these kids were all shaved like Space Monkeys, names on their out-shirts, dressed identical, dressed to kill first thing in the morning. Drill Team is probably the most intensely military activity we participate in, and that's a fairly small chunk of the battalion. The rest of the time, we're midshipmen for two days out of the week.

On the other hand, we're well adjusted social people, with the full benefits of a more real-world college experience. The kids that get processed through the Academey are locked on, but no one else in the fleet can stand them. I'd rather be sane and a little nasty than come off as a polished prick.

In 3.5 hours, we saddle up and ride into battle. Boo-Yah.


More from the Tulane Journal:

H+19 hours - Mama pajama rolled out of bed and she ran to the police station, and that's where everything started to go wrong. Never run directly to the Police; they are powerless to protect you in the face of True Evil, which is the only Evil I fear at this point. We're crossing some massive body of water that no one can name, definitely in LA, several hours ahead of schedule and full of coffee and breakfast buffet insta-meal. This Evil is insidious for it cannot be seen but must be guarded against at all times. For our decade it's name is Terrorism, and it is pure masturbation to think that any part of this bid to send our Drill Team against the best and brightest from the rest of the nation will aide in Mistah Bush's never-ending War on Tear-r.

Who would build a highway straight through the middle of a green swamp field? Americans, that's who, bubba, and if you've got any sort of problem with that you can take it up with the Federal Highway Commission and Department of Pork. That would be your Congress, yours and mine, bubba, you'd better believe we put those scumsuckers in power for lack of a less offensive alternative. Does that make it Right? Hells no, and not even less Evil. But perhaps there is no way to live in America without participating somehow in it's eventual destruction, when throwing away a tin can means putting rust directly into your children's drinking water. They have shots to deal with that sort of poisoning, but how long will it last? Don't think about it. Throw up another Sams Club and move on to the next hillbilly enclave.

When the sun intruded into my eyeballs this morning we joked that we'd inadvertantly driven to Hawaii, what with the palm trees and warm air. Oh, you rotten bastards! Traffic on an interstate at 9 A.M. is never a good sign, but there is jack-all to be done about it. Take a deep breath, glance idly at the brick home neighborhood that runs down Lamb Lane just off to your right, accept your fate. Boys will be boys, and not even a busload of Warriors can move the deadly results of their youthful indescretions in Speed off to the side of the road in time to make a difference. Perhaps this will put us back on time, in the wrong direction.

H+24 hours - We're actually staying in a new gym on a reserve air force base, where large expensive raptors take off overhead every half hour. There are clean, modern facilities, and so far we haven't had to share them with anyone else. We're also getting cots, which is quite an upgrade from our last stay in the bleachers. There are basketball hoops and climbing ropes and a lounge equipped with a soda vendor and plenty of hot sauce. Marines need their Hot Sauce.
Wow. There really is nothing like New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I kept something of a journal, although I don't know how much of it will go up here. Let's start with the first few hours...

18FEB04 - Well, we’re H+6 hours into our mini-invasion of the Deep South, and my Drill Commander just sent me his love in a bottle of Amber Brock, which I haven’t had in about 6 months. A new medication, at least new to me, has made this possible, and seems to have done a real job on my symptoms. Our chartered Drill Bus is unfortunately equipped with TV screens and loud speakers, which are playing “Gladiator” for anyone who cares. And anyone who doesn’t - goddammit those things are loud. I would cut the wires to the two that they’ve installed over my particular seat, but that kind of destruction is generally frowned upon with rented property. This whole experience is already several steps up on our last competition road trip, where we were stuffed like tinned crab meat into a couple of industrial vans.

We’re passing baseball stadiums with fameous names and outlet strip malls that perfectly mimic the shopping arenas common to every city in America - my sincere hope is that I will wake up at the end of our journey in a place which is recognisably different than the one I left.

H+12 hours - Passing trucks give me the impression that we're surrounded by ghosts. We're finally done with movie time, so the bus is dark except for one or two reading lights, and the glow-screens of various music devices. The rest of the world narrows to a spotted tunnel of cream-coloured lights and asphalt until another American city looms in the distance, flanked by the requisite Waffle Houses and Rent-A-Cube self-storage depots. Ye Gods - did that billboard change it's message just to suit my taste in music? It's happening on a road near you - Believe It. The Golden Age of Marketing is at hand, when all the businesses you patronise are owned by a central Parent with access to your spending habits and credit history. They will know where you live, what kind of coffee you brew, and when you like to turn on the morning news to ingest along with your Malt-O-Meal.

That rotten vending machine could only dispense caffine, so I'm awake in Nashville for the driver change-off. This version will be an upgrade, a Beast with raven hair and the sick ability to pilot our vessel through the mad straits of the Bible Belt all the way to the anus of the Mighty Mississip' at the Gulf of Mehico, where we make our beds tomorrow night.