22 February 2005

Goodbye Dr. Gonzo

    As you were, I was. As I am, you will be.
      -Hunter S. Thompson
"Saddenned but not suprised" seems to be the prevailing sentiment around the death of Hunter S. Thompson. I guess I share that sentiment, but "disappointed" factors in there somewhere.

14 February 2005

For Valentine's Day...

    You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain
    Too much of love drives a man insane
    You broke my will, but what a thrill
    Goodness gracious great balls of fire
      -Jerry Lee Lewis
Just in time for Valentine's Day is this story from the Associated Press. Why, of all things, did I decide to post this? I guess part of it is the while morbid curiosity car crash thing, but that's not all of it. I am fascinated by the sentences in the article. The combine words and phrases you would never expect to see together. Consider the first sentence of the article follows suit:
Mary Kay Letourneau plans to marry the former sixth-grade pupil with whom she had two children, months after her release from prison for raping him, according to an online bridal registry.
Marry... two children... prison... raping him... bridal registry. Bridal registry! Reuters has a similar article with a headline that cuts to the chase:
Washington teacher to wed former student she raped
I could go on cut/pasting choice phrases, but the links are here, so I won't.
I don't know precisely what to think of it all. It fucked up on so many levels....

Postscript: If the text of this post seems different, it's because the original threw an error in Blogger and they deleted it. I guess this was too screwed up for them as well.

Post postscript: The spell checker wanted to replace Letourneau with latrine. I guess it knows more than me.

10 February 2005

The power of the Dark Side

    Yoda: But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice.
    Luke: Vader... Is the dark side stronger?
    Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
      -The Empire Strikes Back
This article from the Washington Post is merely the latest installment in the saga of "Ugly Things We Feel Justified Doing Because We Were Attacked." There are many other chapters, and probably more to come. There's Abu Ghraib, of course. There have been illegal detentions of immigrants. We've even indefinitely jailed an American citizen, Jose Padilla, without any charges whatsoever.

Sharon told me about a comment someone made to her upon seeing a picture of the Twin Towers. The person said they could care less that we abused these prisoners, considering what they did to the Towers. Of course, the Iraqis in Abu Ghraib had absolutely nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks. What is it about us that lets us justify such acts in the name of revenge? Our laws state that cruelty is wrong and has no place in our society. Our predominant religious beliefs teach us that seeking vengeance will lead to our own doom. For a nation where moral values were considered a key factor in the re-election of the President, we sure are quick to throw all those moral values out the window in favor of security and payback.

Of course this is nothing new. Any history of WWII will no doubt discuss the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent. Many will also point out that the ones who weren't in the camps were busy dying for their country in the most decorated Army unit of WWII, but I digress. Eventually, we did realize and admit our mistakes. In 1989 we officially apologized and began to make reparations. Since I am optimistic about our future (present administration notwithstanding), I am betting that somewhere around 2050, Congress will draft a similar apology to the surviving families of Guantanamo detainees, Afgans, Iraqis, Jose Padilla, and who knows who else. Maybe we'll even rejoin the civilized world with respect to capital punishment.

Unfortunately I am not so optimistic as to believe that we won't persecute anyone else in the name of freedom, probably at the same time we issue those apologies.

08 February 2005

Gettin' Fuzzy

    Germany doesn't do everything perfectly... go ask Poland
      -Rob Wilco
      Get Fuzzy
Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy is a satisfying little comic strip. I say satisfying, because I always feel like reading the strip was time well spent, as opposed to some that leave me wishing I hadn't bothered. It isn't always laugh out loud funny, but it has this wry humor.

Not to mention that its main character, Rob Wilco, is one of us. I've been behind in the dailies, but I just caught up. Sharon told me that Rob was defending his love of D&D last week, and this week he's brewing beer. Today, he explains to Bucky and Satchel (his dog and cat, respectively) that the best beer is Belgian.

Right on, Rob!

07 February 2005

This spot is hot

    Gonna get myself,
    I'm gonna get myself
    Gonna get myself connected
      -Stereo MC's
I'm stuck today at some lame job keeping a seat warm just in case they have a problem with their computers. I guess I shouldn't complain, becasue basically I'm getting paid to sit around. But I had to get me and my family up early to take me to the train station, and this is excruciatingly boring.

Luckily, I decided to fire up the laptop and found an open wireless network. The number of open hotspots in NYC these days is incredible. They're everywhere. I don't know how companies like T-mobile make money when Joe Schmoe's residential DSL line is open for business. Last week I managed to find not one, but two networks in range. And that's not even counting the open networks that the city has set up in public places.

Anyway, all I have to say is thanks izu, whoever you are. You're network made my day a little less dull.

03 February 2005

Good news from WHYY

    Da Mayor: Doctor...
    Mookie: C'mon, what. What?
    Da Mayor: Always do the right thing.
    Mookie: That's it?
    Da Mayor: That's it.
    Mookie: I got it, I'm gone.
      -Do the Right Thing
We got this from WHYY yesterday. Hopefully other PBS stations are sending similar letters.
    Dear [...]:

    Thank you for your letter and sharing your concerns about Postcards from Buster. Our President and CEO William J. Marrazzo asked me to respond to you, because he is out of town.

    As you probably know by now, WFIYY will broadcast the “Sugartime” episode of the children’s series Postcards from Buster on Wednesday, February 2, 2005 at 3:30 PM.

    Postcards from Buster is part of WHYY’s Children’s Service, which aims to promote literacy and provide a safe and trusted learning environment for families.

    “Sugartime” is in keeping with the other Postcards episodes, whose primary focus is on regional and cultural traditions throughout the United States. In the Postcards series, which features the cartoon character Buster, local families are often the backdrop for the stories. “Sugartime” focuses on maple sugaring in Vermont and includes as part of the background children from two families with two mothers.

    The series, which is produced by WGBH in Boston and Cookie Jar Entertainment, Inc. in association with Marc Brown Studios, has two main educational goals: to help kids understand and appreciate the rich and varied cultures that make up the United States, and to support the language skills of elementary school-age children for whom English is a second language.

    The Postcards series has visited young people from many ethnic backgrounds, has explored the role of religion in their lives, and has visited kids living in a variety of settings and cities, suburbs and the country.

    WHYY’s Children’s Service provides parents with the tools they need to help children develop skills to explore the world around them. Using TV, FM, the Web, and community events, WHYY is the one thing a diverse community has in common, connecting each-of us to the world’s richest ideas and all of us to each other.


    Nessa Forman
    Vice President for Corporate Communications

02 February 2005

Thoughts on the Iraqi Election

    History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
      -Maya Angelou

    What experience and history teach is this -- that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles.
      -George Wilhelm Hegel

    Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
      -George Santayana
A 1967 news report of elections in Vietnam has been circling the Internet, and according to Snopes, it's real. The eerie similarity to recent news reports like this one is unmistakable.

I've been trying to decide what I think of the election. On one hand I have to be happy for Iraqis who voted, some for the first time in their lives. I heard a quote saying this was the first election in Mesopotamia where women voted. On the other hand, I am loathe to express any opinion that can be seen as a validation of the Iraq war. The whole thing was so wrong on so many levels and I refuse to sway from that opinion.

I've been trying to come up with an analogy for the Iraq war that explains how I feel about it. Here's what I came up with:
    A patient has a life threatening tumor on their liver. The doctor diagnoses the tumor as cancerous. The diagnosis is only based on a cursory review of test results. Against the recommendation of several colleagues, the doctor performs a liver transplant. Subsequent tests on the tumor reveal that it was benign. Many less radical treatments could have been prescribed.

    The patient's body rejects the new liver, forcing them to take drugs with numerous ugly side-effects. There is a real possibility that the patient will die of complications from the procedure. Yet there remains hope that the patient will recover and go on to lead a healthy life. Although not out of the woods, the patient has made some progress toward recovery.

    In the malpractice trial, the doctor vigorously defends the transplant, despite a finding that the tumor was benign. The doctor points out that the patient is showing signs of improvement, and that the tumor could have been fatal if left untreated.
Unfortunately, this is way too long for a campaign commercial....

I hope the election is a turning point. I hope that Iraq does not face a future like the one that unfolded after the elections in Vietnam. I hope the patient makes a full recovery and lives a healthy life. Nonetheless, I think the doctor is guilty of gross negligence.