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.