31 October, 2005

Breaking news: Alito sends Miers a day-old Carp wrapped in newspaper

Hariet Miers dropped out of the hearings for her Supreme Court Nomination, opening the door for Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to step through this morning. Much like I thought, after the Miers debacle, Bush's nominee is a very experienced judge who Democrats say may be "to extreme," and Republicans can rally behind.

I don't see why Alito won't be confirmed, despite any heel-dragging by the Democratic minority in the Senate. While he is a conservative, he seems fairly open to at least listening to other points of view. He has supported religious cases before (Child Evangelism Fellowship of N.J., Inc. v. Stafford Township School District, 2004), but his support has extended to other religions as well (ACLU-NJ v. Township of Wall, 2001). From the NY Times this morning:
An early signal of conservative approval came from Gary Bauer, a prominent social conservative, who called the choice of Judge Alito a "grand slam home run." Mr. Bauer, interviewed on CNN, called the judge a "mainstream conservative" and predicted that while there would be a battle from Democrats, Judge Alito would ultimately be confirmed. "They'll try to label him as extreme, but when you get into the hearings, you'll get into specifics," he said.
Alito has drawn comparisons to current justice Antonin Scalia. If Alito is confirmed, bet on the justices instituting a semi-annual pasta dinner as their first order of business. From the Guardian this morning:
[Bill] Frist, a fellow Princeton graduate, read from a school publication a prediction that Alito would eventually ``warm a seat'' on the Supreme Court. ``That was a college joke,'' Alito said with a grin. ``I think my real ambition at the time was to be commissioner of baseball. Of course, I never dreamed that this day would arrive.''
He doesn't seem too bad. I mean, he likes baseball and is willing to answer basic questions and fill out forms correctly.

The Democrats, however, feel that he is to conservative, and have promised to block his appointment to the court through a filibuster, if necessary. I, for one, am getting my popcorn ready and turning to C-Span a lot more these days. While interesting, the filibuster is an enormous waste of time. It's silly to think that these elected public officials are entertaining the notion of talking about nothing for as long as necessary, wasting their time (and my money) by doing things like reading from the phone book.
The Republican Party was the first to initiate a filibuster against a judicial nominee in 1968, forcing Democratic president Lyndon Johnson to withdraw the nomination of Associate Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas to be chief justice.
Yes, it's entertaining in an 'oh look, they're peeing in bottles' kind of way, I think overall it's a stupid waste of time. Thankfully, so does the Mod(erate) Squad. The Gang of 14, as they are more commonly know, consists of 7 Democrats and 7 Republicans, all moderates, who seek to keep the legislation process moving along. In their official agreement, one of the last statements reads as follows:
Such a return to the early practices of our government may well serve to reduce the rancor that unfortunately accompanies the advice and consent process in the Senate.
That's just awesome. Senators from both sides seem to dislike the ethos of these 14, but they're just whiny pansies. Seriously. These men (and women) are trying to move things along, to force cloture and maintain some integrity in the Senate. People are just upset because these 7 representatives from each side are working together (shock!). Whether or not they agree on the issues, they do agree that it is important to work through the issues instead of wasting everyone's time.

Speaking of a waste of time, I also read in the Inquirer this morning about people whose job it is to wait in line for important politicians and lobbyists in Washington so they can get a good seat at certain events such as hearings and such. Some people do this for a living and make over $50,000 a year. What sort of bullshit is that? Somebody gets paid to wait in a line for hours? Ridiculous.

I did a little research (okay, it was a link from the main page), and decided I am going to submit a piece or so to Modern Drunkard Magazine. They take unsolicited pieces, so it can't hurt, right? The thing is, I can't think of any ideas, really. It's a magazine about drinking, I mean, how hard can it be? Still, I haven't the foggiest idea of what to write on.

On a related note, I hope I can find a job after college. I have pretty much settled on the fact that I am going to stay in Philadelphia. Save for that, I'm not sure in what direction I'm going to go. I know I want to write, but for what? A newspaper? Magazine? I live in perpetual hope that some publication in Philly will give me a job, or someone I know who has already found employment will let me ride their coattails to the land of milk and money (or a livable wage).

The situation at two of the daily's in Philadelphia is less than encouraging. The Inquirer and Daily News both recently cut jobs in their news rooms, as well as the editorial staff. Thanks, Knight Ridder. There are other publications in the immediate area, though, so I'm pretty hopeful about the odds.

This weekend I didn't do a whole lot. I did, however, read Duane Swierczynski's first book, Secret Dead Men. I have read some weird shit in my literary escapades, but this book takes the cake. It is a little hard to follow at times, but well worth it. Again, Duane's brevity keeps the book moving rapidly, which made me want to keep reading despite other obligations (read: schoolwork and sleep). Not giving anything away, here are two of my favorite excerpts:
Paul, the eager beaver, arrived early for his first day of work. He'd woken up earlier than I - even souls need rest - and as a result, I awoke to the dim awareness that my body was making a pot of coffee. I wandered down to the Brain Hotel lobby and watched Paul on the screen.
and second:
"I turned around. A young woman in blue scrubs was staring at me. I had to think fast. A reasonable explanation for a naked, supposedly dead man trying to break into an office? Yeah, sure. Then it came to me.
I lifted up the axe and started lurching toward her, zombie style.
"Braaaiins... I chanted. "I neeed ..Braaaaaiiinsss..."
My gambit paid off. The woman, who surely must have seen George Romero's
Night of the Living Dead at a drive-in at some point, took off screaming down the hall.
After a few short moments the doors opened. There were four other people in the elevator. I stepped into the car, and everyone collectively gasped and inched themselves backward. Of course they would - after all, I was a walking corpse in a bloody tuxedo, carrying an axe. I felt the need to explain things.
So that's a general idea of how odd this book is. Trust me though, it's very engaging.

I have read some other mystery/detective books recently, and as I result I think I have subconsciously absorbed some of the more macabre aspects of these books. In my poetry class last week I wrote a sonnet about a guy getting shot dead under the El and his blood running through the gutter.

28 October, 2005

Culture of Comics

Drew and I always joke about the "Culture of Fear" that abounds in America. While we are joking about it (complete with high fives), the fact remains that every joke comes from some form of truth, and that indeed, there really is a culture of fear being built by the government, along with a culture of blind trust. Take, for example, this article.
In at least six of the cases, US or allied forces arrested alleged conspirators who divulged details of operations they had been planning. Those plots involved preliminary ideas about potential attacks, not terrorist operations that were about to be carried out, the report quoted two US officials with knowledge of counterterrorism efforts as saying.
While I don't condone terrorism (come on, who does these days), I do remember that when I first read about the report, released on Oct. 6, my bullshit meter went off. Reading that article, and doing further research to find support for it, backed up the fact that the claims from the White House are flimsy at best.

I think that Bush, whose approval rating is at an all time low, was just trying to rally support by saying that those terror lots were successfully foiled. The article goes on to say:
One plan, the "West Coast airliner plot," for example, was uncovered in 2002, according to the White House. But an official familiar with counterterrorism efforts said details of that plot were not fully understood until a year later with the arrest of al Qaida's No. 3, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Mohammed provided information that suggested a plot that was not fully formed.
Sorry, but that really doesn't give me a reason to rally behind, say, the Patriot Act. It is ridiculous that this is the route that the president is trying to take to boost his popularity. It's very thin, and anyone willing to do a few minutes of research can find the same information I did.

That isn't to say that I am partial to the Micheal Moore style of propaganda. Indeed, I think that he a huge windbag with an axe to grind and the time to do so. However, I think that what he advocates, an informed public, is very important. I know that for a long time I never cared much for news, I was really only concerned with music and other such superfluous stuff. While I am still very much concerned with music (I'm ripping a ton of Paul's CD's as I write this), I also read the newspaper a lot more, and online newspapers and blogs. I feel that Moore, despite his extremely liberal position, is bringing the idea forward. If people at least know who he is, then they may be inclined to research the things he talks about and formulate their own opinion. I still think that he is a blowhard, and I still consider myself a moderate, however.

On a completely un-related note, this afternoon I was trying to remember what the guys name was who killed Superman back in like, 1993. I came home and procrastinated my work for night class further by looking it up online, thereby spending an hour looking for pictures of comic-book villains on the internet.

There was something about the villain in comics that I always related to, more so than the hero's and subjects of the comics themselves. I don't know why, perhaps it was their sense of dedication and work ethic at achieving something in the face of adversity. Save for a few hero's, most of the comic book characters were revered for their work and had it pretty good. I mean, Batman was sometimes maligned for doing what seemed like bad things, but hey, he was rich. I guess I feel the worst for Spiderman, because he was maligned and a journalist (read: poor), but hey, he was Spiderman so he was pretty sweet to begin with.

So I eventually found out that Doomsday was the character that killed Superman, and I moved on to my work. Also, when Superman was killed off (not for good, though), I kind of lost interest in comics. I never read the Superman series, but I kind of realized at that time what a 'marketing ploy' is and that comic book companies were concerned with selling comics because they made money off of them (duh).

Some of the villains, like Doomsday, were to sweet not to be in awe of. Take, for example, Bane. He is one of the only characters to go toe to toe with Batman and win. He even broke Bruce Wayne's back at one point. Every appearance from Bane in the comic series always ends in a draw, which is pretty awesome, and humanizes Batman to a point. I mean, the dude did need to go through an experimental drug procedure to be able to level with the Dark Knight, but still.

Tonight Drew, Michele, Paul and I went to this place called The Foodery in Center City at 10th and Pine. The place was really awesome, with over 500 Beers available for mix-and-match 6-packs. I got mostly ales, and the total cost came to about $16. Not bad, considering I picked six different beers. It's a great deal, and I got to try a bunch of different stuff. I still like Yeungling the best, though.

26 October, 2005

American Male Report

I am of the opinion that Modern Drunkard Magazine is one of the better publications available today. Their articles all, predictably, center on alcohol and the reckless consumption of such. However, the writing is witty and unique, giving a different angle to old stories. A recent piece titled "Boozing in the Big Leagues" took a different approach to the '86 Mets, detailing what a rowdy bunch they actually were. How much of the story is true I'm not sure, but it sure was interesting to read.

I would definitely enjoy writing for a publication such as Modern Drunkard, however out of respect for my liver and work ethic, I think it best to stick to the more mainstream publications for now. I can imagine it would be much to my parents chagrin if I told them I was employed at a such a publication. It's like trying to tell your parents you only read it for the articles when they find your porno magazines. I bet they have amazing office parties though.

As a sidenote, I sent in my application for an internship at Philly Mag today. Hopefully I will hear back from them soon, and with any luck I'll get it. I'm a little wary about taking on an internship in addition to 5 classes, but I've done it before. I hope it doesn't cut into my writing for the CP (which I don't do that often), but I think I'll be able to handle it.

Speaking of drinking and literature, I was planning on investing in this book as a present to myself, however I remembered that I am in college, and thus would rather spend my money on actual beer than on a book about actual beer. I tried to coerce Lori at the Citypaper to let me review it, but no dice.

Oh drinking! The White Sox are quite the party animals, as exhibited in this webshots album (better click before it goes down). Those pictures are from Baltimore, no less, and apparently the girls are from Harford County (as am I) as indicated by one of the captions. It seems that White is the new Red as the southsiders are about to sweep the series. Can't say I'm surprised. Disappointed yes, but not surprised. Carl Everett is still psychotic, however, and could be seen yelling obscenities at Phil Garner from the dugout during game 3. I guess it was the will of God for him to give Garner the what-for.

In other "slutty girls from my town" news, don't forget to Vote for Morgan! I'm kidding. Her existence in that whole contest never gets old, and she doesn't get any less whoreish.

Last night, Anthony, Gwen and I took in a show called Eden upstairs at The Khyber. It was a good show, with enjoyable content, in a rather intimate setting. However, the actors were somewhat shaky on their lines, which necessitated their reference to the script from time to time (okay, most of the time), causing some awkward and unnecessary breaks in their delivery. Overall though, the $2 pints of Yards made up for any misgivings I would have had about the show otherwise.

As a red-blooded American male, I feel I have met my obligation within the contents of this post to discuss manly things such as drinking and baseball. Oh yes, and this. Also this.

21 October, 2005

Women's lib ain't what it used to be

"Look, Harriet. The details the Senate is
looking for are just over that ridge."

Harriet Miers, Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, can't fill out basic forms. In a recent stumble, Miers was asked by the Senate to fill out a basic form, often considered a formality, a second time, citing insufficicent detail in her first copy. The editorial in yesterdays New York Times covered her blunder well, saying, in part, the following:
"Ms. Miers had an opportunity to win over the skeptics this week with her answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questionnaire. But her responses were so unimpressive that the top Republican and Democrat on that committee took the extraordinary step yesterday of instructing her to give it another try, this time with more "particularity and precision." She thus became perhaps the most important judicial nominee in history to be offered what amounts to a do-over on a take-home quiz...

...Either Ms. Miers is so underqualified that she cannot even go through the motions competently, or her sponsor, the president, thinks serious effort isn't necessary because once he gives his personal endorsement to a candidate, the Senate will silently fall into line."
Now, I'm not sure what to make of this. Either the woman is a complete idiot (probably) or she is part of some clever ruse to halp along the real, as yet unnamed, nominee (unlikely). Perhaps Bush is throwing her out there as bait, waiting for the Senate to tear her apart. Interestingly enough, he doesn't seem to be helping the case with his various quotes on Miers.

If her nomination is indeed a farce, I fully expect that after she is dismissed as highly unqualified (which she is) another mediocre candidate will be quickly named who appears overly qualified based on the recency of Miers's complete incapability. I suppose we'll have to wait and see.

Another news item from today is very heartening, in a sort of twisted way. Kansas has had a law on the books for years, prohibiting
"...any sexual activity involving a person under 16, regardless of the context. The 1999 ''Romeo and Juliet'' law specifies short prison sentences or probation for sexual activity when an offender is under 19 and the age difference between participants is less than four years -- but only for opposite-sex encounters."
Which sucks for Matthew Limon, who has been in jail since 2000 for consentual experimentation with a 14 year old boy. The AP reported on Friday that

"Limon and the other boy, identified only as M.A.R., lived at a group home for the developmentally disabled. In court, an official described M.A.R. as mildly mentally retarded and Limon as functioning at a slightly higher level but not as an 18-year-old.

Limon's attorneys described the relationship with the younger boy as consensual and suggested that they were adolescents experimenting with sex.

However on Friday, the Supreme Court of Kansas ruled that Limon's homosexuality was no grounds for a harsher sentence (he is currently serving a 17-year term). As well, the court said that Limon is to be re-sentenced within 30 days, with the presumption that he will be freed at that time.
''Moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate state interest,'' said Justice Marla Luckert, writing for the high court.
While I do not feel that sex with a minor is by any means in the right, I do feel that giving a harsher sentence based on one's sexuality for such crimes is entirely in the wrong. Kansas definitely made the right call. They still voted to ban gay marriage this past spring, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

On another note, I think college students are the worst demographic when it comes to protecting themself from the elements. My personal thought process during times of inclement weather is as follows: "Oh, it's raining/snowing/hailing/etc. outside. I guess I should wear a hat." Then I put on a hat and go on my way the same as if it were a sunny day outside.

I only ever see a handful of people on such days with as much as an umbrella, and never anyone with a raincoat. I'm not sure why. I suppose it's that as a whole, college students don't particularly care about their apperance or level of self-comfort.

20 October, 2005

Brought to you by the letter 'K'

I've had a bit going on lately, which is always nice. I thrive on activity, though it affords me very little free time to do much else. However, today marks a landmark in my step toward journalistic success: I received payment for something I wrote. I got a check in the mail for two articles published in the Citypaper. I actually received monetary compensation for doing something I enjoy. I have already spent some of the money on the book New York Stories, culled from the City Section in the New York Times, which I plan on enjoying over the upcoming fall break.

Along the literary lines, I recently finished The Wheelman, written by former Collegian Editor-in-Chief and La Salle Alum Duane Swierczynski. I finished it in a little less than a day, not because it was easy to read (it was, a little bit), but because it compelled me to keep reading. S et in Philadelphia, the book had a familiarity that made the plot that much more interesting. It didn't hurt that there was a good deal of violence as well. I definitely suggest it to anyone who wants a quick but intriguing read.

I saw Duane give a reading/talk at B&N this evening with Drew, and he talked for almost an hour. He had some good insights into writing (appropriate, I suppose, as that is how he makes his living). He also talked about how he hates wasting words in his writing. I like the idea of brevity, as it is something I have been told to work on throughout my scholatsic career.

Furthering the same literary theme, I went to the La Salle library today. I suppose that was my first mistake. I was attempting to stock up for fall break reading, so I figured I would check out some of Duane's other stuff, as well as some recently published political stuff, particularly Dick Morris' new book Condi vs. Hilary. I was rejected on both accounts, however. Apparently, books by faculty and staff are un-available for checkout, and must be read in-house. Now I do like the library, but I don't particularly want to sit there and read an entire book. If they have books or other media that they want to keep on reserve, they should have another copy specifically for lending, in my opinion. I don't see why the library is even there if you can't check things out. It's more of a museum, I suppose.

This has happened before, notably with the Al Pacino movie Scent of a Woman. Apparently Pacino's character is a Vietnam vet, thus placing the movie in the special Vietnam Collection, which you can't even access without first talking to the director of special collections. Oh well. As well, the bookstore did not carry any of the books I was seeking to read over break, only some wonderful philosophical schlock. All over priced, of course.

Do any of you guys ever make odd mental associations? For example, every time I hear the name Paul Konerko (first baseman for the Chicago White Sox), I think of the line in Grease about a "hickey from Kanicky." No particular reason aside from their names both beginning with the letter 'K.' I'm not sure where these associations come from, but there are quite a few of them in my life. Two seemingly un-related things come together in my mind and are forever cemented as a singular thought. Another particular one of mine has to do with the song "Sometimes True to Nothing" by The Slip. Every time I hear the song, particularly the Banjo and guitar parts, I think of the Badly Drawn Boy song "Coming In To Land," only I always think it is by the Flaming Lips. It's pretty odd, I know, but I still think of it every time I listen to the song.

To finish, here is something I found very comforting:
You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 8/10 correct!
Could You Pass 8th Grade Math?

Later this weekend, possibly tomorrow or Saturday, I will attempt to update on something of relevancy, as had been the trend before the tangent on the UFC.

One final link courtesy of Drew.

18 October, 2005

Enter the Octagon

For as long as I can remember (okay, so like, since last year), I've wanted to be an ultimate fighter. Not like the WWF or that fake shit, I mean the real deal; I mean the UFC. It would be awesome. I mean, the fact that the arena is referred to as 'the octagon' is reason enough.

Seriously, every time any UFC show is on television, I feel compelled to stop and watch the (completely legal!) carnage occur. It's pretty great to see two dudes beating the fuck out of each other, definitely beats boxing or wrestling hands down. While I am not a violent person by any means, but there's something in it that appeals to me on a higher level. I think I could do well if I stepped in to the octagon for several reasons:
a) I am a small guy, which some see as a disadvantage. I feel it would work in my favor as long as I am quick. I could be deadly on the mat. People would call me by some awesome nickname, I'm sure.

b) I have tenacity and a fire in my eyes, and the desire to boot. I'm pretty good when it comes to short bursts of energy. Now I know that UFC fighting style requires immense stamina and physical fitness, but that brings me to my next point...

c) I think I could develop a lethally effecicent initial set of moves. If executed properly, I think this combo would be more than enough to stifle any adversary. I'm thinking of going for the legs early (avoiding this, of course).
Anyhow, I feel that I should start studying ju-jitsu and basic grappling techniques. I also need to work on my ground-and-pound, a good example of which is exhibited in the photo to the right. In time, I think I could pull this off effectively.

Just seeing fairly normal dudes (okay, they're fucking nuts) on the UFC show training to become fighters makes me really want to go for it.

On an unrelated note, I am hopelessly addicted to televised sports of all types and fixated on un-obtainable dreams.

The Astros lost last night in thoroughly depressing fashion. Now I will have to wait until Wednesday at the earliest to see them try to make the Series. I hope they do, because that would prove that pitching really does win championships. I hate when people say that and then speculate that the Yankees will win it all.

As far as overheards go, I heard a good one yesterday. Four girls were standing around near the baseball field, and as I walked by I heard one exclaim to the group:
"Yeah, then he took down his pants and peed on our floor!"
Man, I love the weekends. I wish I got out more, like, to those kinds of parties, then maybe I would be able to fill volumes with these tidbits of random conversation.

17 October, 2005

Activism, or, I love the animals

While I don't claim to be a PETA Person, there's just some shit that's too messed up to go unnoticed. I was reading the Times this morning, and saw this article by Jim Robbins. Now, I thought hunting the Buffalo fell out of fashion sometime around when there were only 23 of them left in existence (see the image below of two hunters and a huge pile of buffalo skulls). I was wrong, I suppose. Some toothless yahoo thinks it would be a good idea to allow hunters to bag the prized big game animal due to the suspicion that they could transmit the disease Brucellosis to the local cattle. Robbins writes that
"...there is no solid evidence that wild bison pass the disease to cattle when the two species are not confined together, and even the governor acknowledges that the state's bison policy is skewed in that only 500 cattle live where they might be at risk...Bison advocates say that the animals should be allowed to form herds outside the park, and that the true motivation for controlling the population is to eliminate competition with cattle for forage on public land."
More than likely, he idea was brought about brought about by someone like this dude (the one on the top) who just want to hang some huge head on their wall.

Nancy Perry, vice president for government affairs for the Humane Society of the United States, said the bison hunt "affords trophy hunters the opportunity to shoot what are effectively parked cars."

"These bison have no fear of people and will stand and stare in curiosity as they are gunned down," she said.

The folks in Montana are going to be able to hunt Buffalo who roam outside of the protected boundaries of Yellowstone, despite the fact that the animals are clearly only following their natural instinct in finding food and have no real regard for invisible boundaries. They don't even mind people being quite close to them. Indeed, the image above, courtesy of Times photographer Anne Sherwood, is taken from a vehicle. I've been to Montana before, and have had a whole herd of buffalo block the road we were traveling on for a full 10 minutes; they even came up to the bus we were in and look in the windows and rubbed against the sides.

The state claims they are trying to make the hunt fair to the passive animals, but their claims are almost laughable. Actually, they are laughable. Robbins writes:
All the hunters are required to take a "fair chase" orientation class where state officials will encourage them to make the hunt more challenging. For example, they will be told to walk a certain distance from roads to look for their targets rather than simply jumping out of a car and shooting. (It is already illegal to shoot an animal from a road.) They will also be told where to shoot a bison to quicken the kill: in the heart or four inches behind the ear.

But those suggestions are only advisory, and people are free to hunt in any lawful way they want.

Right. So hunters are actually going to "walk a certain distance from the road" if they don't have to. Who in their right mind would shoot a buffalo way out in the wilds? It's not practical: how are you going to transport the 3,000 lb. body? More than likely, some asshole is going to be shooting from an ATV with a high powered rifle. I'm sure if hunting from a helicopter were legal, that would happen.

It's just kind of fucked. Why can't they wait and do some say, scientific testing, before granting hunting licenses to kill an animal barely over 100 years from the brink of extinction.

Speaking of animals and their rights, PETA needs to pause, take a breath, and compose themselves again before coming up with any more insane ideas such as this. I mean, what kid is going to read this? Kids want the X-Men and Green Lantern, not some holier-than-thou rag about fur production. It's not even a real comic book, it's a leaflet with pictures. Also, it's kind of suggestive in some parts. Choice excerpts below:
But how would you feel if someone took away your kitty or puppy, stomped on their head, and ripped their skin off their bodies?
Umm, I'd feel pretty bad. Luckily, household pets aren't raised for fur production. And they don't show as much emotion as the rabbit in the picture. PETA is taking the personification a little too far there if you ask me.
It would make you feel sad, wouldn't it? Why would anyone be so mean? But there are terrible people who cause our furry friends to die that way every day. And guess what? One of those terrible people is your mommy. Your mommy kills animals! I bet you didn't know that.
Wow. Kind of reminds me of that Decemberists song "A Cautionary Song" which is one bit 'yo momma' joke about a mother who goes and has sex with all the sailors when her children are asleep. Whoa aside, let's get back to some quotes.
They never get to play or swim or have fun. All they can do is cry, —just so your greedy mommy can have that fur coat to show off in when she walks the streets.
Whoa, okay. Now they are insinuating that the readers mother is a street walker. Though I don't think kids reading this would really get that, I don't think kids would want to read this in the first place so that's kind of irrelevant I suppose. Still, calling my mother a whore isn't going to make me stop wearing fur (although I don't currently wear fur, I wouldn't mind a huge chinchilla coat a-la Hova).
Mommy foxes do this because they want to get back to their babies to feed them, but they usually die anyway and their babies slowly starve to death, scared and all alone. Trapped animals who don'’t escape from the traps get stomped to death by the nasty men. Ask your mommy how many dead animals she killed to make her fur clothes. Then tell her that you know she paid men to hurt and kill the animals. Everyone knows. And the sooner she stops wearing fur, the sooner the animals will be safe. Until then, keep your doggie or kitty friends away from mommy, —she'’s an animal killer!
HA HA HA HA. Sorry, I'm sick. Actually, I'm not sorry about it. Seriously, if PETA wants people to take them seriously, they need to not put shit like this out there. Going out on a limb, I think that women who wear fur probably don't kill the animals themselves. More than likely, women who wear a lot of fur have a very expensive little dog that they pamper to death. Yes yes I know it's supposed to mean that these sorts of women fuel an industry of torture and yada yada, but suck me.

One other note. Reading the USA Today this morning, I was looking at a stat box (obvious filler), and at the bottom it said "Statistics compiled from USA Today Archives and Wikipedia.org" Good to know that a major news publication (albeit a poorly put together/researched/layed out/etc. one) uses the same sources as lazy college students researching at the last minute.

13 October, 2005

Jason Mraz ain't got nothing on Langdon

I am going to interview John Langdon for the Citypaper sometime. He's got a revised edition of his book of ambigrams coming out in November. The dude seems a little eccentric and out there. He did teach art at Drexel though, so anything goes. Actually, I don't know what that means, but he looks a little out there in his pictures.

Anyhow, an ambigram, essentially, is a word that can be read the same normally and upside down, and also has some form of symmetry. The example to the right is, apparently, the first ambigram that Langdon ever saw, and the one that got him hooked on the form.

HOLY SHIT!! I stumbled across this page, a part of College Humor.com's hottest college girl competition. She went to my freaking high school. I'm not kidding. She was kind of dumb and slutty then, and I can see that not much has changed. This kind of makes me depressed. Only kind of though. The other part of me is laughing hysterically.

Also, here is a funny website from someone who takes himself way to seriously.

I've been listening to this band from England called Editors. Their album, "The Back Room," sounds like a weak rip off of Joy Division and The Smiths. It's entirely to repetitive and sort of boring, but for some reason I've been listening to it anyhow. I guess it is catchy in its own way, then.

Two interesting overheards, both on the same day. Pretty awesome. Anyhow, the first one comes courtesy of two girls in the computer lab in the Comm center. One girl turned to the other and, without any previous discussion (i was there when they came in, so I would have heard it), said the following:
"Domestic violence would be good, right?"
What? That's kind of messed up. For more information, see a previous post in which I discuss stereotypes; specifically, see the section on blondes.

The second comes from two guys walking past the baseball field. As they were walking by, one dude says:
"Yo, bro, I think I sprained my neck."
He rubs the back of his neck and exclaims
"Whoa, dude. I can totally feel my brain stem on the back of my neck. I think I hurt it."
Actually, bro, I think it was damaged long before you rubbed it.

That's all for today, a short, non-political or rantish update. Enjoy!

The Nobel Prize Schmobel Prize

In Stockholm, Knut Ahnlund, 82, has pulled his membership from the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize for literature every year. According to the BBC, his resignation comes in protest of last years winner, Elfriede Jelinek. Ahnlund declared her work to be
"whingeing, unenjoyable, violent pornography"
However, despite his outspoken opinion, Ahnlund has not been a participant in selection deliberations since 1996. That's right, almost 10 years. So I find it pretty amusing when he accuses the selection committee of being unfamiliar with Jelinek's work. He refers to her work as "A mass of text shoveled together without structure," and says that her selection as the winner has "caused irreparable harm to the value of the award for the foreseeable future."

"Ahnlund suggested that only a "tiny number" of the 18 jurors who awarded the prize to the German-speaking Jelinek had actually read any of her books. Jelinek was an "obsessive" with a "single track", Ahnlund added." (The Guardian, Oct. 12)

That definitely sucks if people on such a notable committee charged with handing out a prestigious award such as the Nobel Prize are not familiar with the work they are recognizing. So why bother even noting his dissent? For one, she was awarded the prize a year ago, and he is just speaking up now. I guess he takes his position pretty seriously. Second, he hasn't even participated in the committee since 1996. The permanent secretary to the Academy, Horace Engdahl, had the following to say:
Ahnlund had not participated in academy meetings for nearly 10 years and was not privy to discussions leading to Jelinek's selection. He knows nothing about the discussion that led to the choice of Elfriede Jelinek so what he says in this article of his must be seen as empty speculation.
What a crock. This dude obviously has an axe to grind and the means to do it. Look man, if you're pissed about this years selection, at least try not to make an ass of yourself by bringing up inconsequential information on which you have no background to begin with.

Seriously, the guy hasn't been involved with the selection process in almost 10 years, and comes in questioning the decision of the committee that he is on? Dude, you're supposed to be involved, don't know if you noticed. Idiot. For reference, see the picture of all the old heads at the top of this post. It's from an official meeting of the Academy in 1999. Where's Ahnlund? He's not in it.
"After this, I cannot even formally remain in the Swedish Academy. As of now, I consider myself an outsider."
I can probably speak for the active members of that committee when I say I don't think he'll be missed that much. Seems like he's been an outsider for quite some time now anyhow. Four of the 18 permanent members have been appointed after Ahnlund's active participation ceased.

I think the dude is probably pissed about this years selection, like some others speculate, but can't voice that because the winner has not been officially announced. Or maybe he's just bitter. Either way, it's pretty funny. The dude spoke up like an idiot and totally got called out on it by a member of the committee he probably doesn't even know because Engdahl was appointed in '97.

12 October, 2005

China is one messed up place

I've been following the story of Lu Banglie, and the push to a more representative China, in the British press recently. It is pretty compelling and messed up.

See, this dude has been a poor village farmer his whole life, living in a hut with his mother. After China began allowing villages to "oust their chief should the need arise." (The Guardian, Oct. 11) So this dude gets the chief in his village ousted last year and was elected himself, speaking out against land seizure, corruption and rising healthcare costs.

Recently, villagers in Taishi asked him to help oust their chief.
Mr Lu said: "I'm a villager myself and I know the election law so I gave them ideas [about] legal means." But he also knew that the stakes were high if Taishi succeeded, and others followed suit. "This is what the central government is scared of."
Banglie, whose approach of non-violence and education was culled directly from a film he once saw on Gandhi, has been a rallying point for others who have witnessed his success in his own village. However, it is also a red flag for authorities who are less than willing to accept a more representative society. The upcoming elections in Taishi have sparked a rift.
"It has led to beatings and mass arrests among its population as well as for observers who ventured into its environs."
As he entered Taishi on Oct. 9, Banglie's car was surrounded by a large mob of people who dragged him out of the vehicle and beat him in the street. Benjamin Joffe-Walt writes:
"The last time I saw Lu Banglie, he was lying in a ditch on the side of the street - placid, numb and lifeless - the spit, snot and urine of about 20 men mixing with his blood, and running all over his body."
Though he knew his life was in danger, Banglie continued his trip to Taishi. Joffe-Walt's entire article comments on Banglie in the past tense. His vivid depiction of the beating is as follows:

"The men outside shouted among themselves and those in uniform suddenly left. Those remaining started pushing on the car, screaming at us to get out. They pointed flashlights at us, and when the light hit Mr Lu's face, it was as if a bomb had gone off. They completely lost it. They pulled him out and bashed him to the ground, kicked him, pulverised him, stomped on his head over and over again. The beating was loud, like the crack of a wooden board, and he was unconscious within 30 seconds.

They continued for 10 minutes. The body of this skinny little man turned to putty between the kicking legs of the rancorous men. This was not about teaching a man a lesson, about scaring me, about preventing access to the village; this was about vengeance - retribution for teaching villagers their legal rights, for agitating, for daring to hide.

They slowed down but never stopped. He lay there - his eye out of its socket, his tongue cut, a stream of blood dropping from his mouth, his body limp, twisted. The ligaments in his neck were broken, so his head lay sideways as if connected to the rest of his body by a rubber band....

...Random people came up to Mr Lu and kicked him in the head, clearing their nose of snot on his body, spitting on him, peeing on him, showing off for each other. I had no idea what to do."

Indeed after the incident, authorities took the remaining members of Banglie's party to be questioned, informing them that they were beyond their rights to be in the town in the first place, and that Banglie was indeed fine.

Joffe-Walt writes in the conclusion of his article:
The last words of Mr Lu I wrote down were: "The police cover their arses. They employ all these thugs whose lives mean nothing to them to kill you. That's why once we are in this we can't go out."
Unfortunately, Banglie's aggressors made two huge mistakes: they performed the beating in front of a well-connected Western Journalist, and they didn't kill Banglie. The day after the beating, the story ran, and Banglie emerged in his own village, with only visible injuries on his arm.
"Although the attack was witnessed by the Guardian's Shanghai correspondent, the local propaganda department insisted there had been no violence and provincial officials said it was too early to respond to requests for a full investigation...
...The Pan Yu propaganda office said there had been "no violence" and that Mr Lu had "pretended to be dead."
So the guy got beaten by a large mob in the street with a ton of witnesses, including a journalist, and the government tries to say that there wasn't any violence and that he was pretending to be dead. Wow. I would say his cause against corruption is pretty justified.

It's incredible to think that people here in America complain as much as they do about oppression. I mean, this dude was beaten by a mob that was
"...thought to be a group of thugs hired by the local authorities to put down an anti-corruption campaign against the chief of Taishi village."
and then the same authorities deny that he was beaten up at all. That's pretty messed up. Imagine trying to hold any kind of organized protest there for say, better (or any) healthcare. Kind of a lost cause, because after you get the shit beat out of you how are you going to pay your hospital bill?

Nicolas Becquelin, of Human Rights in China, writes the following:

"It is becoming more and more dangerous to be a rights activist because of the increase in intimidation using unlawful means," he said. "There are some areas that are totally lawless. This is one reason why insurance companies rate journalism as the second most dangerous profession in China."

The problem, he said, is that Beijing makes promises about improved democracy and legal rights that it fails to fulfill.

"The government lifts the expectations of the population by saying they are moving towards the rule of law, but it looks like they have stopped legal reform mid-stream. People in China are increasingly aware of their rights, but they cannot get justice. This creates a very volatile and dangerous situation."

I think that what Banglie is striving for is admirable, and his methods of non-violence stand out in the otherwise violence-ridden cause.

As a side note, Chinese Blogger Anti wrote the following (found here in translation):
"As for The Guardian's Benjamin Joffe-Walt, how the fuck did he still have to nerve to write this kind of report? Perhaps he is young and does not yet know that reporting in certain areas of China is just like in a war zone. He should not have gone there against the advice of others, and he should not have brought Lu Banglie to the village. Since he was being taken out by the police, why didn't he insist on rescuing Lu Banglie as well? It is alright to beg for mercy when it happened. But the more important thing is that you have a duty and you must assume responsibility for your companion. Or is that Chinese person just a guide dog?

Thus, we the Chinese people are treated like dogs by the government and we are also treated like dogs by certain arrogant and ignorant foreigners. I have no idea how this tragedy can be changed."

It's interesting that a Chinese citizen is criticizing the efforts of Joffe-Walt, for without the journalistic presence of someone as connected as he, the story of Banglie may never have been told in the first place. It is clear that the Chinese authorities are trying to cover their tracks in the presence of increased media attention. Attention brought into wide-scale focus by the efforts of Joffe-Walt. I think that both sides have some talking to do. Foreign influence and media coverage by a free press may be of huge assistance to a country with such stringent control over all aspects of communication.

Rebecca MacKinnon, in her political blog, makes a good point hitting at the issue I was just speaking on:

"There are indeed some serious issues about a Western reporter's responsibility for endangering and/or protecting the safety of their sources, interpreters, and guides. There were many times, when I was working in China, when I opted not to report certain stories because doing so would endanger the lives of people involved.

At the same time, I hope this question of a foreign correspondent's responsibility will not become a convenient way of distracting people from the core issue: one of human rights and the suppression of a democracy movement in Taishi.

Will Chinese netizens be successfully manipulated into foreigner-bashing as an acceptable alternative to communist party-bashing?"

Anyhow, sorry for the long political entry, it's just something I have found myself engrossed with over the past few days, and it's my blog so I'll write what I damn well want. I wouldn't be able to do that in China.

11 October, 2005

Little Things

Last Years race in Camden turned out poorly for many competitors

This weekend, the Pentagon sponsored a robotic car race across the Mojave Desert in Nevada. The cars were completely automated, with no human involvement during the race. Sounds like a lot of nerdery to me.

The race was moved to the Mojave this year after last year's race in Camden saw all but two competitors knocked out of the race by getting their tires slashed/stolen. The other two competitors were carjacked and thus broke the rule demanding that cars be un-manned.

I'm always very happy with myself when I accomplish some task that seems very banal on the surface, such as taking my old bar of soap and getting it to stick to the new bar of soap. Trite, I know, but it makes me happy.

Whenever I see that my bar of soap is getting low, I always get a new one and try to put the two together, and inevitably it takes a day or two to get it right. Afterwards, though, I always feel quite accomplished. Some commedian talked about doing that. I forget who, but I suppose that's the point of observational humor.

On Pardon the Interruption this afternoon, Richard Justice said, in regards to the ALCS, that:
"It'll be fine if the Yankees or Red Sox aren't in the ALCS. They'll move the games to the Home Shopping Network and that screaming you'll hear will be coming from the comissioners office."
So true. I know I'll be watching all of the baseball playoffs (sorry Gwen), but a lot of interest on the East Coast will be lost. That aside, go Angels! And if it comes down to it, go Houston!

Speaking of baseball, this article/interview is pretty awesome. If you thought that Ozzie Guillen was outspoken and teetering on the deep end, Carl Everett, while a good baseball player, is officially insane. And Christian! Excerpts include:
"I'm not bashing gays as people,'' he said. ''I'm against their lifestyle. I'm against the act of homosexuality because it is a sin. It is against God's will...People don't realize that the same God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality can also destroy our world today."
Interesting... Moving along.

''I've never been a ladies' man, but there's been fornication [in his life],'' he said. ''I had sex before I was married. But once I got married, it was on. Come November, we will have been married for 12 years.''
"It was on?" Ha ha, ladies love Carl Everett.
"Has he always been faithful?
''Not in all cases,'' he said. ''She knows. I did it away from her. But I'm quite sure she still prays for me. [God] keeps me. But those demons are still going to come. That's why I say it's tough to live holy and resist temptation because those demons get prettier and prettier. Their bodies get better and better. It's one of the toughest fights I've had in my life."
The bodies of the demons get better and better. See for reference Drew's article on the Sexy Witch.

Speaking of sex offenders (which I wasn't really... well, not in this post) check this out. Dude has enough problems aside from being a sex offender, it seems.

Anyhow, I have a review in the Citypaper this week, check it out. It was definitely an interesting book. Click here.

10 October, 2005


I felt very college on Friday night. I worked at a shitty campus job, came back to the house, played video games, went out to get beer but got rejected with an ID that wasn't my own, found a 21 year old (Gwen), got beer, came home and drank a bit, played more video games, ordered pizza at 1 am and went to bed. It was so stereotypical, but enjoyable none the less.

On that note, why is it so bad to stereotype people? Stereotypes are fostered for a reason: they're generally true, otherwise they wouldn't be a stereotype. Blondes are considered dumb because many of them are; nerds are considered smart because if they're not smart they have no place in the world because they're not athletic; poor people are considered lazy because, well, they really do just sit around all day (I'd feel bad about writing this but honestly, blondes are illiterate, nerds knows it's true, and the poor don't go on the internet because it's too expensive). Ah, but but I digress.

In the Guardian online, the international section had this article from the weekend:
Al-Quaida tells terror chief to kill people less brutally
"Al-Qaida has urged its commander in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to shoot rather than behead hostages because brutal executions alienate the Muslim world, according to American officials.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Islamist group's second-in-command, allegedly told his colleague that a bullet was as deadly as a knife and would not repulse so many potential supporters."
That's pretty messed up, and yet kind of funny at the same time in that 'I feel like a sick bastard for laughing at it but I'm still laughing' way. In addition the article later referenced the new initiative in the radical world toward less stringent Burka rules. Muted pastels will now be allowed in the formerly constrictive color scheme of the traditional garment.

The internet has been down at the house all day today, much to the annoyance of everyone. I decided to call Verizon tonight instead of sitting around whining and being disconnected from the world (read: my gmail). After being hung up on 3 times, I finally talked to a tech guy who seemed cool, and decided I really didn't need the maiden name of the mother of a a girl who lived here 3 years ago in order to get back online, and voila, the internet returns!

I won the world series in MVP this morning. Twice. I rule. Clearly not at life, however.

On that note, after todays game, how could you not root for the Houston Astros. And after seeing this (warning, it's disgusting), you can understand why I loathe Eagles fans; at least I won't have to hear it from a bunch of intollerant assholes tomorrow because they LOST TO DALLAS today.

My buddy Paul Tsikitas does this radio show on WEXP called Peel Slowly and See. Monday nights from 7-9 if you're sitting at your computer, you should check it out. He plays a decent selection, keeps the show fresh from week to week. Listen by clicking here.

As well, another friend of mine, Stev, has a radio show on WSJR called Subterranean Homesick Radio. That's broadcast on Monday nights from 4-6, so go listen to that as well. They are both quite good, I assure you.

06 October, 2005

Attempting work; Failing

So if you believe in creationism, do me this two-fold favor: a) punch yourself in the face and b) don't ever read this blog again because you're a fucking moron. I can't believe people still debate over Darwinism v. Creationism. Like, I honestly can't believe it.

When I read things like this, I wonder why, on July 20, 1860, Lincoln didn't just say "You know what, fuck the South. They had their 15 minutes, let 'em go." Then, perhaps, they wouldn't have spread to places like Seattle and Pennsylvania, where research on "'Intelligent' Design" is taking place.

I mean, yes the Civil War was necessary for other obvious reasons, but still. Religious fanatics scare the shit out of me. Take, for instance, an excerpt from the article linked above:
"The American Museum of Natural History in New York will open the most far-reaching exhibition in its history on Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, next month. In most countries such a display by one of the world's top museums would not be the stuff of heated controversy.

But not in America. Not in 2005.

As the rest of the world looks on in amazement at a debate that seemed to have been settled long ago, America is now gripped by a raging battle between evolution and creationism. The museum's Darwin exhibition will be just the latest battle in the continuing fight.

At the centre of it is the concept of intelligent design, which critics call 'creationism lite'. This theory holds that evolution is not a proven fact and nature is so complex that it betrays the existence of 'a designer'. Without being explicit there is little doubt the designer is intended to be God."

Seriously, what competent, free thinking person believes in this shit.

On a completely unrelated note, I was reading this article in the NY Times the other day. The first sentence is as follows (for those of you too lazy to click through):
"In Hillsborough County, Fla., local officials voted unanimously in June to ban convicted sex offenders from public hurricane shelters."
Is that during an actual hurricane? I'm just curious. Anyhow, the article makes some really great points regarding other laws that are in the works around the country. People are kind of screwed up some times, and I don't mean the sex offenders.

With October almost a third of the way over, that means college basketball season is coming up soon. I'm glad we finally got cable at the house, now all we need is call and get ESPN2 like we are supposed to. Also, hockey is back. The Flyers lost last night, Philly fans are in a state of panic already. Go figure. Morons.

I was cleaning out my bookmarks (I have a compulsion to bookmark everything funny or interesting I ever find) and started looking at my friend Al's site, There's Nothing to Do in Pawtucket (including update his, apparently). I suggest you go take a look at the comics and media section. They're pretty funny. Well, sort of. I don't know, just a thought. I suppose there really isn't anything to do in Pawtucket.

Here are a few other websites that I generally click through during the time I am trying to motivate myself to do work.

Speaking of having nothing to do, this website is pretty neat to waste an couple minutes (or an hour if you're me pretending to be working). I always find catharsis in popping the kids balloon. Seasons Greetings!

However, possibly the beat website for wasting time I've found is Modern Living. I go there frequently and see new stuff every time.

If you are in a sitting and staring mood, this may be the perfect anecdote. Or crutch. You pick.

Also this.

04 October, 2005

Gandhi would go for the Lager

So Sudafed Maximum Strength nasal Decongestant is probably the best thing ever. Two pills and BAM!, sinuses drier than BYU (read down a bit; they don't drink coffee either. Fucking nut jobs.) But enough about Mormons and their funny little ways.

My buddy Drew Lazor is getting some notoriety through his honest and humorous reviews for Okayplayer, even giving Drew, TR and me a mention in one. But as with all things of a critical nature, there are those (read: morons) who voice their dissent in the worst way: the internet message board. Drew's been taking some heat on the OKP boards, but don't worry man, at least that means they read it right? Also, they're nerds. Internet trash talk is the best.

To the disdain of my roommate Drew, I went and bought two knit shirts at Gap on South St. this weekend, and they're probably the most comfortable item of clothing in my possession. Also I bought the "No Direction Home" DVD because, well, umm, because I wanted to.

I have checked my gmail like, 8 or 9 times since I started writing this. I'm a sad, sad individual. All I received in that time were a few assignments from people in my poetry class, reminding me that I have work to do this afternoon.

I have a few overheards today, that actually come from a few days ago. I also heard some weird stuff yesterday but didn't write it down and can't remember it. Oh well.

-Two distinct hambones walking past the baseball field-

"I'll fucking have a sit in, I don't care"

I wish I knew what these two were protesting. Maybe their fraternity brothers decided on something other than Natty for that weekends Keg and they were pissed at the "tradition hating mongrels." Or maybe they are appalled at the current situation in the African country of... no, definitely the beer. Idiots.

-One white girl talking to another white girl walking together-

"I hate white people"

Umm, what? Not sure what they were talking about, but it was pretty funny. Oh yeah they were blonde and seemed a bit on the bimbo-ish side (read: 89% chance they're dumb as shit).

02 October, 2005

Holmes got soullll

So I was working tonight in Backstage and as usual, there were two performers for the weekend activity. Following a student performer, who brought some friends with him to watch, Ryan Holmes (lives next door to me, is the off-campus organizer for the school), performed with his jazz band (didn't catch the name). They were pretty good, nice rhythm and horns, and Ryan has a really good voice. It was a pretty nice break from the normal granola feminist-adgenda shite normally scheduled.

Despite the talent of the performers (most of the time), not many people show up to these free shows (tonight excluded, there were a fair amount of people there.) In general, nobody comes in Backstage or Cafe Metro/Intermissions at all. I remember working there Freshman year and there being a line every night for a table. This year, the average amount of customers I will get in 8 hours is about 4.

In other news, the Alliance is sponsoring a coming out day this week. I proposed they have a giant piece of paper with a picture of a closet door on it for the new skittle shitters to break through, a la homecoming. Probably wouldn't fly.

We finally got cable today. TR and I both shook the hand of the Comcast man when he came in the door. Now I can really dedicate myself to the deterioration of my studies in the form of televised sports. Goodie.

Spent some time at C71 this weekend hanging out. It's pretty fun there, I would venture to say it's my favorite place to hang out with people aside from my own house. I like the atmosphere, and the people are cool too (see, for reference, Mr. Pat MacDonald above).

There's this crazy website I found that turns the HTML coding of any website, and all websites linked from it, into a tree-looking thing. I'm kind of obsessed with watching them grow in front of my eyes. Here is this blog in various stages of forestation:

The main tree, just my blog, on the right

Several sites I have linked

A forest is formed (and growing) after an hour or so