Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Galvane 8, 31.

"Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before... He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way."
- Who said this and in what context?

Invent a recipe involving rhubarb.

Monday, September 29, 2008




Update - Just FYI, this is very clever, and I wish I had written it but I did not. It was posted on the New York Times' Laugh Lines and has been circulating this afternoon. Meanwhile, the DOW dropped 777 points today.

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Galvane 7, 31.

Last week was eventful-ish, but I don't want to write at length about it, so I won't. The main event, unfortunately, was Gus dying, but a couple days later, we bought some live plants for the tank to keep the Nitrate levels down, and a Yellow Curvicep Cichlid named Bert. Also, we played Dungeons and Dragons and got a new computer. It has RAM like a tank has treads. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to turn it on.

This seems to touch on the most important bits hereabouts.
New York Times: Bailout Plan in Hand, House Braces for Tough Vote.

How do you feel about the Wall St. bailout?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Event: Thank. You.

Galvane 4, 31.


What is the coolest term you know representing something that you don't understand?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Event: Understanding the Subprime Mortgage Crisis.

"I could sure use a $700 billion government bailout."
- My Wife

This is possibly going to go down as one of the most momentous and ground-shifting months of this century, with economic shifts taking on the gravity and Laws-of-Physics-momentum of wars, plagues, and unexpected turns of the weather. It is important to understand why this is happening, why the comparisons of our current situation to the Great Depression are, in fact, apt. And not least, in the light of the upcoming election, whose fault it is.

These are ordered based on what makes the crisis most clear, but if you want an evocative intro, check out the last article, the Times' analysis first. Also, any one of these articles will be worth reading on its own.

Paul Krugman: A Catastrophe Foretold.

The BBC: The US sub-prime crisis in graphics.

NERA Economic Consulting: The Subprime Meltdown: A Primer.

The Economist: And Then There Were None.

New York Times: Plan's Mystery - What's All This Stuff Worth?

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Galvane 3, 31.

I should have linked these awhile ago:
Hullabaloo (Digby).
The Huffington Post.

A couple weeks ago we had a hurricane, the announcement of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP, and several other prominent events in a single week. I asked what was the most surprising event of the week.
Yesterday was just as eventful. What surprise you most yesterday?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Body: The Deep Swimming Pools.

Nemo 33 is, as far as I know, the deepest swimming pool in the world. It includes several caves and an a 115 foot dive site.

I had a dream, back when I was eight or nine, that was a sort of horror-movie sequel to an earlier dream, in which the Largest Storm Ever arrived to destroy the Earth. Somehow, I'm not sure how, disaster must have been averted because in the second dream the Storm was coming again and drastic action was required to save the world. Some sort of a stone or a pendant or something had to be retrieved from where it had been dropped in the Deepest Pool in the World, located in Holland, Michigan. I went swimming in that pool, aware that the concrete floor sloped away beneath me, falling miles, miles, and miles. One irrational fear of mine has always been heights... a related fear is being in deep water; suspended over an unmanageable depth. Even snorkeling on my honeymoon, I had a hard time managing my reaction when we went swimming over water twenty feet deep. I wonder where this comes from.

I don't remember how the dream ended.


Event: Illinois Voter Registration Ends October 7th.

Cook County Clerks Office | Election News: Two weeks until end of voter registration Oct. 7 registration deadline looming.

Don't think that this state doesn't matter. There are important races along the whole length of the ticket!

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Diary: Gus Coyne, the Fish; May He Rest In Peace.

Sometime during the day yesterday our Apache Cichlid, Gus, died.

We had seen this coming for a couple days; for over a week his tail's been getting thinner and thinner and her rarely emerged from his log, even to eat.

In the last few days we transferred him to a separate bowl where he might not be harrassed by those frantic tetras, and we poured in some fishy medicine, and put in the ceramic shark so he'd have a place to hide. But I think if we had known the end was so near and certain, we would have left him, because he loved that log.

It's a little strange writing so emotively about a fish I've known for seven months. Even the word "known" is a little strange; we connect more easily with dogs and cats because they move and eat and breathe similarly to humans, they have the ability to voice their pleasure or distress, and because we see them as more highly evolved. To a certain extent, this is true, and yet some fish are highly intelligent.

Gus certainly had a personality outized to anyone else in that tank. He was methodical in his feeding and territorial. He didn't flit spastically all over the place like the tetras, and when we introduced the Swordtails, he was a bit of a bully to them. Unlike the tetras, who jiggled nervously whenever they weren't schooling, Gus seemed happiest alone, poking through the stones for fallen bits of food or guarding his log. I don't think he was a mysanthrope; he certainly seemed curious about the tank, and whenever we'd change the position of plants or rocks he'd come out to see what was different. He was curious, and certainly showed no lack of vigor on the days we fed them brine shrimp. I think that Gus simply liked solitude. He wasn't given to the bursts of energy or nervousness of the other fish; he was just a cool kid, watching the world go by.

If you're so inclined, I invite you to raise a clear glass of drinking water sometime today, in memory of Gus.

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Galvane 2, 31.

- See next post.

An Apache Cichlid.

When was the last time a pet of yours died? What did you do to cheer yourself up?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Diary: September 1999.

Diary: September 1999.

This was also one for the books, but I'm going to self-censor some of the gorier parts.

After the Black Box Underground performance of The Skriker wrapped up, all that was left were tatters of the summer, misgivings about my attempted relationship with AS, and a general ghosty feeling about being stuck in A, not B. My sublet ended, so I moved my stuff over to the Crawford's where I lived for the next two weeks. I volunteered at the Flint Central Library, where I spent an hour a day carrying boxes of books and another six or seven hours reading Camus and drafting my novella Vertebrates. I explored the city, and once, Saginaw, and I felt that I'd settled the question of creating trasncendent mind-blowing psychosis-inducing art: I was able to do it. But there were key elements of my life that I wanted to Control, and I couldn't.

Then this happened. It was the most frightening sensation that I've ever experienced. We drove to see our friend Marcy on MLK, but no one was home. We eventually drove back to the Crawfords, and went almost immediately to sleep, and I slept with my keys in my hand, because I had an irrational fear that something might attack me. The next day, we took different approaches to cheering ourselves up; shaking off the chill. We watched Raising Arizona together at Sam's, and that was fun, but when it started to get dark again we all fell frightened. The others decided to go see a friend in Davison. I didn't want to go to Davison; I wanted quiet and peace. I went to the Atlas and spent a couple hours reading On the Road which was accidentally appropriate. When I got back to the house, several of my friends were sitting in the dark there. Some of those friendships were strained for awhile afterwards.
One of those friendships would eventually unravel, dramatically.

Back in Chicago, things seemed equally ghostly, if a little bit less viscerally dangerous. I clearly remember that when my parents pulled up to BJ, Liz was there, and Jen, and Elizabeth, and Liz was excited that I had dyed my hair red because she had just dyed hers as well. I signed up for a Playwriting class with Claudia Allen, which got off to a hungry start, and a Poetry course which started out feeling easy and silly, but worked at a slow burn through the quarter, building in intensity. I became very close to Liz that year, and I also remember sitting in Armand's room with him and Cynthia and telling them about the summer's harrowings. We all shuddered, a little. I listed to the Lords of Acid very loudly in my room, and at the end of second week some friends from out-of-town visited for low-grade debauchery and drunkenness. We followed up with breakfast at Maravillas and paranoia. Pop from glass bottles.

Good times.

Probably wise to only live through them once, thuogh.

Where were you in September 1999?

Event: The League of Women Voters.

The League of Women Voters is one of the best sources of information about a candidate. It is a nonpartisan group that submits a series of issues questions to candidates along the length of the ticket and allows them to provide a concise response. The questions take pains for objectivity, and the conciseness often cages politicians into a more precise answer than they will give the press or on the stump. If the candidate (especially a local candidate) does not answer or cannot follow the rules to avoid their answer from being cut-off mid-sentence, well, that also speaks volumes.

Quite simply, these are the best answers you'll get to issue-oriented questions from a candidates own questions.

Some tickets are available for Pennsylvania and Florida, as well as the Presidential race here. More localized information is available through Local Leagues.

I usually cross-examine this information against newspaper endorsements and background information I have on candidates; this process enables me to deliberately vote at times for Republicans and third parties, whereas otherwise I would vote more strictly along Democratic party lines.

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Galvane 1, 31.

Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right.
Who said this?

When was the last time you attended a football game?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Event: Friends in Powerful Places.

Autumntime, 31.

- I'm transitioning the blog from the Summer to the Winter template again, so it might look a little dusty in here for the next week.

- What a week! On Wednesday I was at work super!late but it paid off over the next couple days. On Thursday I went to the Benin exhibit at the Art Institute, and on Friday I took the Blue Line out to O'Hare and got on a plane to LaLa Land. For Armand and Vivian's wedding. In LA I took the Green Line to Imperial, and the train made a cool chiming sound at every stop. Which didn't quite make up for the 20-30 minute wait on every transfer. L.A.'s public transit seems to be less to Chicago than Chicago's is to New Yorks... if that makes any sense. But I got in a little bit after ten, PST and met up with Judd, Mel, Ben, Chris, Armand, Dan, and Vivian on the roof of the hotel, with a beautiful view overlooking the city.
I like Los Angeles, but downtown Los Angeles is weird. It's the same size, or smaller, in extent than Detroit and is about the only downtown I know of anywhere that isn't defined by some particular geographical feature. The is no lake, no river or water. There are a few hills and an overwhelming number of expressways. The buildings there are tall, but there are not many of them.
I caught up with people for a bit, but I was sleep deprived, and passed out at about two. I was sharing a room with Mel and Chris and Judd, which was very convenient.
The next morning (Saturday) the sun woke us up at about eight and we had a whole day, and decided to do some light sightseeing before the wedding. First we went to a nearby market... I don't think "farmer's market" is quite right, but lost of stands with Mexican and Hawai'ian and Chinese and American food. I was indecisive so I got some eggs and potatoes and pineapple juice.
The weather was identical to Chicago, both on departure and arrive, but of course LA has palm trees and Chicago does not (except for those things on the Oak Street beach).
Chris made the comment that palm trees were not indiginous to LA and the city wanted to get rid of them (apparently they're messy and difficult to maintain in such a dry climate), but they're so associated with LA there's nothing to be done. This led Judd to make the comment "Isn't that what L.A. is all about? Taking things and putting them where they don't belong, but they look really good there anyway?" We all agreed this pretty much summed things up.
We saw some of a movie shoot and took the Metro out to Hollywood, where we saw the Chinese and Kodak Theaters and got a couple shots of the Hollywood sign. Nothing I hadn't seen before but nice anyway. We walked down Sunset Boulvard and caught the Metro again at Hollywood and Vine, where the walls are painted to look like film strips and the ceiling is made out of metal reels. From there we went downtown again, and stopped to take a look at the cathedral. It's comparable in size to Chicago's Holy Name, but couldn't be more different in effect. I usually have mixed feelings about concrete churches, but this church was so precisely assembled and deliberately assymetrical that the effect wasn't negative at all. Also, there were photographs and articles alongside the shrines, so it was a little bit like a gallery space as well.
From there we walked past the Mark Taper Forum and walked up and in and around the Disney Concert Hall, which you're allowed to climb to a height of about forty feet. Mel wanted to stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art, but the rest of us thought that the price was a bit steep for what would amount to a fifteen minute visit, so we grabbed a cup of coffee instead. We returned to the hotel and changed into our fance clothes. Then: on to the main event! Judd had rented a Ford Mustang for the weekend, so we left the hotel late and arrived at the wedding early.
The First Congregational Church was a huge, and very dark, church, which is probably nice on hot summer California nights. The ceremony was quite brief, and not very religious, but there was nothing trite or frivolous about it. The minister teased Armand, and tried to get him to loosen up, but the real emphasis was on the moment, on apprehending it then and preserving it for the future. On the way to the reception, Judd pointed out a woman wearing a transparent dress, evident by her zebra-striped thong, but I did not notice this. The reception was held at the California Club, a big rectangular building with big rectangular rooms and dark wood paneling and engravings. A beautiful space. I spent most of the evening with Judd, Mel, and Chris, but we also got to visit some with Whet and Liz, and the food was delicious. After we got home, we stopped off briefly at an afterparty at the hotel, but we were all very tire and went to bed shortly.
The next morning I went back to the cathedral for mass and said goodbye to my friends before taking public trans back to LAX. In the airport I met up with some other people from the wedding. I also saw Jessica Simpson.

Jessica Simpson was the famous person I saw.

Then it was a smooth and beautiful flight back, a malfunctioning Blue Line and a packed Lawrence bus ride back home.

I finally got home about ten, and the rest of the night was relaxing.

I took some photos from this trip. I'll try to post some sooner.

The Detroit Free Press: Dems want pay limits, loan aid in bailout.

Where were the last three weddings you attended?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Gloamane 28, 31.

- I've posted late and little the last few days, but I've been getting ready for my trip to the City of Angels!


Now if you were going to Los Angeles for the weekend, what would you do?

Event: Kicking You When You're Down - Foreclosure is a Forfeited Vote, According to the Michigan GOP.

Start from the beginning and move down:

Michigan Messenger: Lose Your House, Lose Your Vote.

Michigan Messenger: GOP has a history of voter ‘caging,’ according to Democrats’ lawsuit.

Michigan Messenger: Messenger rejects GOP plea for retraction.

Gemma discussed this here, with several insightful comments by herself and tyromaven.

If you're a Michigan resident (I was for many years) this should make you livid. It isn't really aimed at preventing voter fraud, and here's how I described the strategy at Third Rail Themes:

- Macomb County includes many of the Detroit suburbs and with 800,000 people is one of the most populous counties in Michigan.
- It also has a very high African American population which has been disproportionately affected by house foreclosures.
- Here's the real kicker: almost all of those voting would be Michigan residents because 1) arrangements can be made given foreclosure to remain living at a residence and 2) most people who are being booted out of their homes at the dead end of autumn cannot afford to make a major move to another state... most will be relocating to elsewhere around Detroit.

This strategy is based on the flimsiest and nastiest of circumstances.

In fact, it isn't just a below-board attempt to swing the state red. It is only a breath and a couple syllables from Jim Crow.

So write some letters to the editors!

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gloamane 27, 31.

The Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator.

Now, what's a useless invention that you admire?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Body: A Few Thoughts on Abortion for Voting Catholics Like Me.

I'm going to write about this at length, but not today.
This is truly an issue where I believe both major party lines are seriously flawed, although Democrats have made more headway recently then Republicans.

The Democrats often decry the practice of abortion while refusing to legislate on the subject. Since these declarations are often offered without a solution proposed, they amount to platitudes, though there are signs of improvement. Some Democrats (the Presidential ticket among them) are encouraging reductions in the number of abortions through social levers. Some may say that this is an ineffective compromise; from the standpoint that life is sacred prebirth, it is certainly a compromise. However it is not ineffective; the nations with the lowest abortion rates have, in fact, legalized abortion in the context of a health care system that provides medical and financial assistance to new mothers.

The Republican Party takes a stand on the legality of the subject, but it is a sanctimonious, self-righteous stand that offers nothing, not even crumbs, to those they would bar from abortion. This is borne out, as the role of poverty is often the decisive factor in whether or not to have an abortion, while Republicans tend to slash welfare programs that respond to these problems, regardless of the program's effectiveness, and even while other spending proliferates under their watch. This is worse than a platitude; it is a sort of open-book hypocrisy. If conservatives really value the lives of the unborn, they'll be willing to make real sacrifices in other policy positions to advance this issue: universal health care, provisions for the poor and disenfranchised, and comprehensive sex education to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

From the point of view of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, abortion is a non-negotiable issue. That is fine, and is in agreement with the Catechism:

Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.
This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.
Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law... (2771)

What can and must remain negotiable is the way in which this issue is addressed. Solutions which pass the buck, which demand compliance on the part of others without asking us to scrutinize our own lives and obligations are the easy way out, and have more to do with keeping our own conscience clean according to some minimum standard than leading a true life of faith. But solutions which spread out the sacrifice, where we "do unto others" and take on a portion of the burden as a sign of our commitment are not only more effective; they speak for themselves as a more genuine living out of God's vision. For "if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing," (1 Corinthians 13:3).

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Event: Obama's Speech in Flint, and Other Good News.

The Washington Independent: Obama Laces into McCain's "No Change Express"

The Flint Journal: Presidential candidate Barack Obama promises at Flint appearance to help auto industry refashion itself.

I wish I could have been at this. I would've waited for hours and hours...

It's icing on the cake that the Journal actually avoided making one of the innumerable puns that presented themselves. "Obama Ramped Up Flint for Change," or "Candidate Obama Says Flint Auto Change Soon." The Journal can write good articles, and I'm glad when they don't derail them with lame headlines.

Actually, Flint has had several pieces of good news lately:

Flint Journal: We're rolling again: Flint spots get another movie close-up; This time it's 'All's Faire in Love' with Christina Ricci and Bill Engvall.

It seems that puns have been traded off for run-on sentences.

A worthy compromise.

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Gloamane 26, 31.

A rendering of a dyson sphere.

As of today, what invention did you think has most radically transformed the way we live?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Concept: City View by Francesco Guardi

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Event: The Executive Branch is a Committee, with an Economic Example of Why it Matters.

Thesis: Stop thinking about whether they are likeable or not... there will be time enough for that later.
As much as the presidency is a person, it is also an institution, and we would more accurately make responsible decisions in presidential elections by thinking of the office as a very powerful and ideally coordinated committee, with the ballot in the chairmanship. The vice-presidency, members of the cabinet, and appointees to other governmental position can have as much stake as the office-holder him or herself.

Which is why, unlike the claims of the McCain campaign, there is no responsible way to make a choice here based strictly on the personality and temparament of the choice. Candidates' views on the issues are of paramount importance, because this will determine the appointments they make.

Consider, for example, the following:

New York Times: In Candidates, 2 Approaches to Wall Street.

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Gloamane 25, 31.

"There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin.
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb."
- Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb

When you were ten, what invention did you think most radically transformed the way we live?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Event: Mississippi's "Where's Waldo" Ballot.

I wanted to write about this last week, but ran out of time.

In sum:

New York Times: Mississippi's Ballot Trick.

Here's a more local take on the issue:

Biloxi SunHerald: Dems respond to Barbour's appeal in ballot dispute.

This is too obvious for much commentary. Manipulations like this should be too egregious and self-evident to require explicit treatment by law. The fact that it happens anyway is all the reason why such laws are necessary regardless. Now let's see if they're actually obeyed.

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Diary: September 2004.

This was one for the books.

On the day last weekend of August I held a Housecooling Party at my small studio in McKinley Park. I was almost one year from being married and (hopefully) grad school, and one of my best friends, Sam, was moving to Chicago to be my roommate. We didn't have much by way of concrete plans, just vague ideas and a lot of optimism. I told him that there were only two Chicago neighborhoods where I was interested in living that year: Edgewater and Roseland. Sam said that he didn't want to live in a ghetto, so I started looking in Edgewater. About a dozen people arrived for the party and Sam showed up midway through. My girlfriend gave some of our friends home and Sam and I collapsed on the futon.

The next day we called and checked out four apartments on the North Side: a courtyard tenement in Rogers Park, a carpeted penthouse with roaches in Edgewater Beach, a really nasty spot off the Bryn Mawr stop that smelled like cat piss, and a slightly overpriced rehab in Lakewood. We went with the carpeted penthouse and filled out our application.

On the next day, we got up early and took the Orange line into the Loop to look for work. He needed to line up a job and I'd declined an offer to work with the Department of Orthopoedics because the pace seemed too frenetic there. We browsed through the easy access floors of the Sears Tower, but nobody better than Wendy's was hiring, and so we slowly made our way along Wacker. Sam applied at a Lake Michigan cruise ship; I decided to take a pass. We got back tired. We got a call approving us for the apartment. Sam got a call giving him jobs at the Lego Store and on the cruise. Things were looking good.

We'd prorated my South Side apartment for four days and so we spent a whole day making multiple trips in Sam's little car back-and-forth: Archer/Damen/Stevenson/LSD/Hollywood/Kenmore. Kenmore. Our joints were sore but by eleven the our stuff was mostly moved. We got back to the South Side, grabbed dinner at the New Archview and walked home in the sweet sweatfog of butchered bacon floating on the air from the Yards. The next day, I realized our cleanup job didn't really pass muster so while Sam left to start setting up the new place, I stayed behind and cleaned. I finished around mid-afternoon, got my deposit back, and caught the Orange and Red Line home. That night we drank beer, set up the computer on the windows, and played Worms until 2 AM. It was hot out, and kids in this new, strange neighborhood were shouting out on the street. Everything seemed bright and loaded with opportunity, and it was one of the best times I've had.

I spent the next week applying for jobs during the day and working on the apartment in the afternoon and evening. I finally had a room I could decorate as I wanted: with maps and papers from pillaged National Geographics covering every inch of wall. My view looked out on the Edgewater Beach skyline and while this was Chicago, it felt like a resort. Our building was 40% Bosnian per the landlady (she was a Bosnian Muslim, herself) and while the elevator smelled like pee, the halls smelled like heaven. We quickly discovered that we could access the roof, and sometimes I'd drive down to Hyde Park or Bridgeport for role-playing, with Beaucoup Fish blasting and the wind hard as the skyline rose like comb bristles over North Avenue ahead.

I was getting hate mail from Canaryville residents on a regular basis now, as well as some supportive notes. I was applying for jobs and not being granted interviews, and finally, reluctantly, asked Advanced to put me back on their assignment roster. It wasn't all great.

But it mostly was.

I attempted to walk to Joliet along Route 66 (take 2) but I only made it as far as Harlem. I was distracted into going to the Mall of the Impaled Cars and the Car Pelt art. It was a good distraction. That mall, a great landmark, had been demolished, but Joliet is still there (more or less).

I listened to the song Cryptorchid by Marilyn Manson.

I decided to read Gothic novels and I read the Castle of Otranto.

Sam's dad visited and took us out to Ethiopian food and then we walked north along Broadway to Loyola. We walked back home along the lake.

I went back to Michigan for the weekend and went to the Michigan Renaissance Festival with my sister, my girlfriend, and Lisa. Later that night I went back to the campfire and saw many people I had not seen in a long time. When I got back to Chicago that Sunday, I took a seat at a McDonalds on Bryn Mawr and wrote of my plans, and what I must accomplish that year.

I spent most weeknights in Edgewater Beach and a couple nights each weekend in Hyde Park.

I listened to the song Fingerbib by Aphex Twin.

I started to read the Mysteries of Udolpho.

Toward the end of the month, I left at dusk and walked along the beach south to the Foster Street light beacon. It was a horrible, bleak and angry night, cold and spitting rain from the sky. The waves were tremendous. I crossed Lincoln Park and Margate Park, followed Sheridan and Larry to Borders and closed it out reading about writing programs. I took St. Boniface cemetery to Clark and mulled over the possibility of law school instead of writing, before I turned north. I passed Emily just south of Foster and cringed and continued on through Andersonville and Edgewater. It warmed up but Rogers Park was desolate and I passed into Evanston. I wound up at a Burger King and finished the first volume of Udolpho, and continued north to the Bahai Temple. I exulted through its gardens, then I hurried back south through the lagoon and the tenements and got back home as the sun came up.

I was reading about Neanderthals and Mesopotamians.

All of this happened in September, which is why I call it "one for the books."

Where were you in September 2004?

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Gloamane 24, 31.

- What a goopy, grimy weekend. Oog. I had a cold and felt like crap the whole time. On Friday I tried to watch a documentary on the ocean, but I fell asleep before the end. On Saturday I finished the documentary and most of West Side Story, and visited with Evan and Anna for a bit, but then I felt too sick to make it out to Emma's birthday party. Then on Sunday, I felt up enough to walk 40 minutes through the rain to church, but was soaking when I got home (umbrella notwithstanding). In the evening I visited with Andrew and we watched Charlie Wilson's War, which was cool. Today I still feel oogy.

New York Times: Stocks Slide as 2 Wall St. Banks Falter.

what is the oogiest oogy?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Event: Drama in Michigan

What do we make of this:

Michigan Messenger: Lose Your House, Lose Your Vote.

Or this:

Michigan Messenger: Michiganders see red about voters’ rights threat

And this:

Detroit Free-Press: GOP Won't Use Foreclosure List to Block Voters.

? ? ?

Now everything that the Republican Party does doesn't have to be evil and sinister. However, it is clear that someone isn't being on the up-and-up here. What I am very curious to know is, on what grounds do challengers confront voters, and what incentives prevent them from making frivolous charges?

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Event: The Current Republican Thesis Is That We Won't Mind Being Made Fools Of.

New York Times | Paul Krugman: Blizzard of Lies.

I hope we are not put in a position to see whether Krugman's thesis that McCain/Palin would be worse than Bush/Cheney is true or not. However I am reminded of something I witnessed in college. Under President Hugo Sonnenschein, a sometimes intimidating presence from the dreaded Econ department a number of controversial changes were made to the core curriculum, housing system, and admissions process at the University. During my fourth year, he was replaced with Don Randal, a lovable looking medieval musicologist from romantic Ithaca, New York. Something very interesting happened: the controversy died. A very vigorous student and faculty opposition to the changes enacted by Sonnenschein (really at the behest of the trustees) had put all of their passion into the person. But when Sonnenschein was gone, the trustees remained, and so did the policies.

I won't belabor this comparison to my fears of the McCain/Palin ticket, and we're too thick in the trees to see how deep this forest really is. But these are real apprehensions. We're not scaremongering. This could really happen. Yes it could.

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Diary: September 1996.

On the last weekend before Labor Day Mitch and I borrowed my parents car to go camping at Warren Dunes State Park. For five dollars that year, one could camp on the parking lot ("ash-fault" the way Mitch said it), and so we pitched a tiny-dome tent and joined a sort-of weird community of St. Josephians, Benton Harborites, neighborhing rednecks, and plenty of high schoolers who wanted a break from home but didn't have a budget to do is explosively. We both longed to make a break for Chicago for a day, but my parents said 'no,' and since the car was theirs I was very reluctant to try to slide something by. We did get pretty close to attempting this, though; on day we actually started driving south, and made it as far as the south suburbs, but visions of parking tickets, traffic tickets, and unexpected news coverage terrified me, so we turned back, and I ate half-a-tank of gas as penalty. I spent most of the time on the beach reading Slaughterhouse Five and desiring dune-girls from afar, but way to nervous to say anything about it. On the ride home I got a ticket for driving 81 in a 65; the trooper write the ticket for 70. My parents weren't thrilled by any of this. The theme of the trip was getting what I deserved, but it was worth it and I can't say that my regrets are that huge.

When I got back however, we went to a seminar for college Financial Aid at U of M - Flint, and the package we bought into ended up being a lemon, but it was a forceful sign that the college hunt was reaching a fever pitch. I work on my early application for the University of Chicago, and I hoped and hoped that they would accept me, because accepting any other school as the school I wanted would have been an uphill battle. I knew I should be accepted there; I was meant to go there. I wrote a short play for one of the essay questions and put the application in the mail.

Flint Youth Theatre did a staged reading of my play September and after it was over I pushed out a complete revision in one glorious night sitting at home in front of the 286 in the dining room, looking out over the Cottonwoods. Walter helped me enter the play in a couple contests. I was cast as an invisible puppeteer in their play Visions of Sugar Plums and almost immediately developed a crush on a girl there named Carrie. I started in on Pre-Algebra, the second-most advanced math class I could take in Flushing, and it seemed that I would not do horribly there. Ditto Physics. Everything was going according to plan...

At the end of the month, my friend Jessica and I went dinner at Luigi's on the Eastside (I think) and then I took her to Flushing's homecoming dance. We almost immediately ditched it to hang out with my friend Demetrius instead.

Where were you in September 1996?

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Gloamane 21, 31.


Invent a figure of speech involving the word "dew" or "dewy".

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Body: Stratus

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Event: Why I am giving Obama my hard earned cash; because I want you to as well.

To kick this off, I won't recap the last year-and-a-half of election drama except to say that this, I believe, is more important than any other election I've experienced except perhaps 2000. Which may be a tie. I have many reasons for believing this, and I'm sure you have many thoughts on the subject too, but the most eloquent and trenchant observation I've heard on this comes from outside of the United States, in an article my mom sent me yesterday.

guardian.co.uk | Jonathan Freedland: The world's verdict will be harsh if the US rejects the man it yearns for.

Now the British don't necessarily have the right to speak for the whole world, but then, of course, certainly neither do we. We behave as if we do, and Freedland's observations strike me as spot on as to the likely response.

'For America to make a decision as grave as this one - while the planet boils and with the US fighting two wars - on the trivial basis that a hockey mom is likable and seems down to earth, would be to convey a lack of seriousness, a fleeing from reality, that does indeed suggest a nation in, to quote Weisberg, "historical decline".'

Another way to put it is we don't want to have to resort to a reprisal of this: Sorry Everybody.

So I am feeling today in particular that I do not want McCain to be elected, and if I cannot count on large numbers of Americans to take the high road, by which I mean, to critically scrutinize this choice and make their decision responsibility, than maybe my own efforts have to go beyond a check in a ballot. If the stakes are as high as I say they are, then I should put my money where my mouth is.

That is what I am doing.

Today I will make a substantial financial contribution to the Obama campaign.

Please consider doing this as well.

Click here to make a donation to Obama/Biden for President.

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Event: Politics 2008: The Blue Skies Falling Plan

Okay... I'm going to attempt to pull out of my hat what I stumbled upon accidentally in 2006:
By writing about local candidates in Michigan, Illinois, and New York that were not extensively covered elsewhere I got a bajillion hits from searches on those names and, who knows, maybe even affected a contest by changing a mind or two.
I will be posting on national races too, but more by providing links or short quick arguments.
I might post a couple op-eds I'm submitting too.

I feel for you if you aren't into the politics thing, but it is that time of the decade...

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Concept: Dune, the movie.

For my birthday my parents got me Dune, and it was the first time I'd seen this film in about eight years. I watched this film constantly in 7th grade, and it became one of my favorites of all time. In 8th grade I picked up the book by Frank Herbert, and wasn't as impressed by the book as by the film. Many friends told me that the series went downhill from there, but I am still intrigued by the rumors that have reached me about what happened to Paul Atreides.

Now I realize that I am in the minority here in two ways: that Dune is a good movie and that the movie Dune is better than the book. I won't make the claims that I have about Dead Man's Chest... that this film is underrated because it is supremely crafted in an uncommon medium. But I think it may be underrated nonetheless because we have a bias toward, for example, good acting and plot coherence over lavish setpieces and effective imagery. These things are each neutral on their own... in the case of Dune the latter grant relief to the former. The script might be neither as tight nor as accessible as we would like, but for me, the spectacle of the blue-eyed Fremen, a sand-worm on the attack, or Baron Harkonnen indulging his blood fetish (not present in the book) is enough to make a very dense and difficult experience into something quite enjoyable.

Which brings me to another point. I also like the shorter cut of Dune more than the extended edition and this ties into why I like the film more than the book. In Herbert's novel, Paul Atreides sojourn into the bad trip that is melange gradually dominates more and more of the book, until he is completely overcome with a messianic grandeur so saturated as to seem inhuman. The extended film cut attempts to preserve this plot arc. The shorter cut (while hardly economical) jettisons much of this in favor of the political arc of the story. Which is marginally more human and certainly more accessible.

It might be fairly observed that this is a bit of an artistic cop-out. On the one hand, I don't think that an adaptation can exist independent of its source material; otherwise it wouldn't be an adaptation. That being said, the transposition of an object from one medium to another, and all of the attendant issues, makes it self-evident that these should be considered different works of art. For that reason, it is fair if the film emphasizes what the novel does not. One might say that political themes can be more thoroughly and deeply engaged in a three hour film than an abstract philosophical construct (if you want to pose Star Wars as a counterexample, I have an answer to that). One might argue, though I would disagree, that films being a popular medium (as opposed to books) have a greater obligation to ease and accessibility. However, I definitely believe that this film mitigated the story in a way that was beneficial. It took a novel that had struck me as coldly intellectual and through flesh-and-blood and abridgment brought the story some distance toward the opportunity to access through sense and emotion. Far from depleting its mystical ruminations, it has provided the audience with a point of entry to them.

Dune is a flawed film, but its atmosphere and viscerality continue to inspire me. It is, much like Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho a work whose conspicuous flaws render equally conspicuous the risks it takes and its successful efforts to innovate and engage.

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Gloamane 20, 31.

Ate at the Calypso yesterday.

For levity in these heady days: The Monterey Bay Aquarium

Name at least one kind of invertebrate you would like to have as a pet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gloamane 19, 31.

I read from Urbantasm at Tuesday Funk with Amy Davis, Don Seidel, and Jotham Burillo.

Atar, Mauritania

What vegetable would you least like to see on a pizza?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Gloamane 18, 31.

Watched Dune, ate pasta, listened to the rain, good times.

But the whole political thing has got me shaking these days. I'm really restless: genuinely anxious... it feels a little bit like 2004. But even compared to 2004, the Democrats have a compelling argument. Another post... another post...

"First you jump off the cliff and you build wings on the way down."
- Ray Bradbury

If your day was a genre flick, what genre would you pick for today?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Body: Today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.

Actually, this feast was imported late by the Latin church from the Byzantines. Its origins are supposedly in the 400s, when a man heard angels singing happy birthday to the Virgin Mary. It is a day of veneration, but this story is considered apocryphal. I also know that the immaculate conception of Mary is one of the two infallible statements that the pope has ever made (the other concerning the assumption of Mary). Notinally, papal infallibility is a more credible concept when it is sparingly exercised, and only with regards to faith.

When I think about feasts such as this, I always wonder what the house looked like. Was the roof leaking, was it day or night, and were they drinking their water from clay cups?

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Diary: September 1988.

I don't remember anything specifically from this month, so I will add a memory that may or may not have been from this period.

One autumn in the middle of the time when I was home schooled, my mom made a trip to a store based out of a house where she bought her teachers' supplies. I'd never been there before; I never really wonderd, I guess where all of our stuff came from: the Michigan Rocks and Mequon Math Books and Granny Grammer worksheets. I was in figure skating lessons about this time (which had gone better than gymnastics by a mile) and I think that this house-store was somewhere out by Elms Road. It was a modest house, a cape cod with white aluminum siding under wet leaves on a dark street; we went there early at night, so it must have been September or early in October. I had a very visceral, very physical wish to learn as much as I could. Here were experiments and samples and hundreds of books, and if I could just get through them all, I would understand the world in ways that I did not. Of course, in practice, sitting down and doing homework was always more of a drag (especially those Granny Grammers), but in that moment, it all seemed pretty adventurous.

Where were you in September 1988?

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Gloamane 17, 31.

- The first part of last week was uneventful, but during the weekend we went to Michigan! It was the first time I'd been to visit my parents since last Christmas, though they've come up to see me a few times. Thursday was pretty laid back, but we went to see The Dark Knight with my dad, and it didn't disappoint on the second viewing. On Friday we took some pictures around Flint and visited a little with Lyn and Ken, but things hurried along, and we spent the evening visiting with Peg, my grandma, and my aunt. For anniversary/wedding gifts, we got Fiesta and sundae supplies, DVDs of Something Wicked This Way Comes and David Lynch's Dune, and monkey and shark candy. On Saturday my parents took us down to the Eastern Market then out to a state park to take a walk. I'll try to post some pictures on Facebook. Other than that, there was lots of staying up late and talking about politics. We got home midday on Sunday, and I spent the rest of the weekend working on Urbantasm.

New York Times: MSNBC Takes Incendiary Hosts From Anchor Seat
Oh, okay, so when anchors display a bias for the left, they get pulled. Olbermann's been covering the election for how long? O'Reilly's had his slot for how many years?

Help contribute to Gemma's list: how could you murder someone with a marshmallow.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Event: Sarah Palin Episode II

I wasn't going to blog at all this week, but the conversation has been too great. It's wonderful; fresh air and water. Here's Gemma's most recent post: Palin(g) in Comparison, Part the Second

Here are my thoughts:

Okay, I think that I understand what you're saying a bit better now, and I'm behind now... I'm going to watch these speeches, but I'm going to spend my first vacation since last Christmas watching them! :)

Anyway, I still am skeptical of Palin's chances to propel McCain to success... as the New York Times pointed out (oops, there go my liberal media tendencies, although the media as a whole has been far from liberal for quite some time) that was a Republican audience and that was a speech that Palin delivered after having been secluded from the press for days.

Ultimately I feel that she may have been an effective governor, or at least have had the background and skills commensurate with the demands of that position. During the first half of the primary, when I was leaning toward Clinton, it *was* Obama's lack of experience that concerned me most... as it turns out, Obama's experience is comparable to plenty of our less-experiences presidents, some who have gone on to be our truly great presidents. So experience is not the great equalizer. But there is a threshold of concern. I'm a smart guy, but I wouldn't make a great president, and many of us will willingly acknowledge this fact about ourselves. If Obama's slow and steady progress from community activism through the state senate through the U.S. senate has subjected him to justified scrutiny, concern is absolutely warranted for someone with political experience that is practically transparent at this point. The town Palin governed is smaller than the suburb where I went to high school; the population of Alaska is scarcely larger than Greater Flint.

The thing that encourages me in this election is the tone of the campaigns; which party is playing into its stereotypes and which is transcending them. Four years ago we saw a democratic party that, for all the narrowness of the race, seemed destined to lose: it was a passive, quiet, submissive party that seemed to collapse under the pressure it felt from an angry and untractable America. But this year we are confronted by images of Republicans in a big and dark room, a party that looks smaller and less diverse - less vigorous - than it did before, and still as angry. Still just shouting and insulting as if that was their only technique.

It's a party on the defensive.

In pretty much every election I've ever seen, whoever is on the defensive at this point is going to have a hard time winning.

It isn't that the McCain campaign is or isn't taking a risk. It's that the political ground has shifted. The risks that would have worked four years ago are not working now.

I think you're making very good points, and there is good cause for concern. But I also think that the concerns of America are very different from those at the Republican Convention right now, and are, at least at once and finally, more closely aligned with those of the Democratic party.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Gloamane 12, 31.

- I'm going to be in Michigan for the next several days and will be taking a break from blogging. Blue Skies Falling will resume on Monday.

TrekEarth: Collective activities along the Ocean.

Which kind of salad dressing do you prefer?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

EVENT: Palin is a footnote; Clinton is a chapter.

Gemma is one of my most trenchant and honest friends, which is why I mix it up with her in detail... I'm posting here a comment in response to Gemma's post Palin(g) in Comparison. Here's what I think:

Hm. Well, I was evidently off in the last comment that I posted, and I agree with you that we are presented with an opportunity to "appreciate" Palin. I mean, we can appreciate her place in this election as the first woman on a major ticket; that is something to be proud of and to acnowledge. And finally, you did post this on 8/29, and the last 4 days have been extremely eventful.

But I disagree with most of the rest of what you have said about her. Politically she seems to be the worst of bad candidates: a high likelihood of corruption, a dogmatically closed-minded view of the world, no *particular* evidence of political saavy, and a lack of experience that likens Obama's to McCain's.

If part of considering her nomination to have been an achievement of the Left (which I do not necessarily disagree with, although it maybe gives the Right a lame excuse to have owned women's lib more than they deserve) then it is also appropriate to evaluate her resume on the same terms as I would evaluate her positions on issues, as well as the same terms as I would evaluate a male candidate or the democratic ticket VP candidate: that she seems to combine in one person the worst qualities of George W. Bush and Dan Quayle. She's belligerant, uncompromising, uninformed on the issues she'd be presiding over, lacks relevant experience, and has evidently been chosen for political expedience over any chemistry or cooperative spirit with her teammate.

I also strongly disagree that this is going to help the McCain campaign one bit, and I felt that way on Saturday morning before the revelations about her affiliation with the Alaskan Independence movement, her daughter's pregnancy (something I don't care about, but which the Right will) and all the other drama. The fundamental reason why so many women were drawn to Clinton was that she was an eminently qualified candidate, and that allowed her to own her historical role in ways that other candidates have not. I think (and some sources like Rasumussen are starting to suggest: here) that most women will reject this choice overall, and not simply on ideological grounds.

To suggest that "any woman will do" for women, which is not so subtly what the McCain campaign is saying with this choice, implies that women are desperate and are willing to accept a symbolic gesture (granted to a numerically significant voting bloc) as opposed to equal status in the marketplace of ideas. Palin offers the former, but Clinton actually obtained the latter. I'm sure McCain/Palin will draw some of the crossover vote they seek, but I think they will be disproportionately punished by both independent voters and women for making a sharp tack to the right and for an (accurately) perceived disingenuousness.

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Diary: September 2003.

This was a very quiet month.

It was the last month at my lease at an address on the Eastside of Flint: Maryland Ave between Minnesota and Iowa. I'd been working at Angelo's all summer, hadn't really made any money, hadn't really lost any either, and I decided to take a break. I didn't have any major trips or plans, so this month was filled with exploring and writing.

First, I decided to explore Flint's legacy more closely than I ever had before. I did this a lot through the Motor Cities National Heritage Site, which is great because it marks off sites by significance and relevance without regard for how convenient or developed they are. I spent a lot of time tracking along the factories on the northern branch of the Flint River, along Hamilton Avenue, in Civic Park and Bassett Park, Chevy in the Hole and the Fisher Body plants. I took about two dozen rolls of film, which I still have lying around somewhere, waiting to be developed.

Second, I wrote and read. I was working on Rose for Urbantasm, and I made it almost to the halfway point of that section using a consistant fractal deployment, more elegant than any other I'd attempted to date. My computer wasn't working, but my mom let me work at the computer stations at the library where she worked. Sometimes she picked me up, and sometimes I took the bus, but most often I enjoyed the long walk: south on Franklin to Second Street, west through downtown and south to 12th, and then some route south on Fenton to Bristol. It took about an hour-and-a-half. On September 11th, I read at the Good Beans cafe, and several people from the UU church came out to hear me (no Catholic did, however). It was a start.

Third, I got ready to leave. My girlfriend left for Chicago toward the end of the month. I had locked down steady (if not good) employment with my temp agency back in Chicago... I had determined that I would only consider the Far North Side (Edgewater, Rogers Park, Uptown) or a Stockyards district (Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Canaryville). I would end up settling in McKinley Park, because it was the cheapest option, and I could save up money because I planned to propose to my girlfriend. On my last weekend in Flint I drove my parents car, listened to the Doors, got my license renewed, vacuumed and cleaned the house. My landlord told me he was sad to see me go. As I was leaving the city that night, I thought of a story, based in Flint, where a consciousness of the ghosts of past crimes would compell a character toward terrible and present crimes. This eventually became Hungry Rats.

Where were you in September 2003?

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Gloamane 11, 31.

- What an eventful week for the world! The DNC wrap-up, McCain's running mate announcement, and Hurricane Gustav. Incredible. My week was pretty cool, too... During the week I did my usual divide between work and writing devouring most of my free time. I've been catching up in number theory, and while the speed with which I have to move reminds me that I'll never be that great at math, it's nice to vaguely grip the meaning of cool ideas like the "reduced residue system" and "diabolical symmetrical squares." I have about three more weeks of this; then I will start topology, which will be even weirder.
On Thursday I went over to Hallie's to see Obama's speech, which exceeded my already high expectations (so I give it a place for summer!compelling along with The Dark Knight and Wall-E. I got out of work late on Friday and went to the Jazz Fesival where I saw Eddie Palmieri and Dee Dee Bridgewater, who is from Flint by way of France and Mali, and is also beautiful and awesome. On Saturday I also went down there to catch the James Sanders' Conjuntos which was pretty sweet, but I spent most of the day in Hyde Park at an informal pre-wedding party for Armand and Vivian. Later I worked on updating my website (which is a pretty slow and tedious process) and watched the rest of the speeches I missed from the DNC: Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore. On Sunday I went to church and then directly to the Jazz Fest, which seemed to be kind of hit-or-miss that day. Sam met up with me later on, but we didn't stay until the bitter end. After Dee Alexander had finished I hopped on the bus and went home. Sunday was Gothic Funk Party #14, though I was also able to spend some time visiting with Meridith, Michael, Jen, and Thalia in the morning.

"Nothing is more silly than silly laughter."
- Catullus

What news item this week surprised you the most?