Monday, December 22, 2008

Concept: Noctus 31.

Can anyone guess to what each picture corresponds this month?

The links behind the doorways may offer a clue or two; anyway, I hope you check them out. Some of the most enjoyable stories I've experienced...

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Concept: A Break, and January.

I will post tomorrow, but I'm going to be visiting family off-and-on for the next two weeks, and don't expect much of a chance to post.

I will start posting regularly again as of Monday, January 5th, but January is a very busy month at work, so things will still be a little sparce here through the beginning of February.

I don't expect any delays in QOTDs, however.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Event: Andy Heller discusses the loan.

EVENT: Thank You, President Bush.

Four words I'm not accustomed to saying.

New York Times: Bush Approves $17.4 Billion Auto Bailout.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Event: Where Does $70/Hour Come From?

Save Auto Jobs: 'Mathematically and intellectually dishonest'.

Anecdotal Conclusions:
Obviously my family didn't enjoy this sort of income growing up; we were always comfortable and the fair income did provide me with some opportunities that nonunion employees wouldn't have had, such as music and theater lessons and the opportunity to attend a prestigious (and expensive) private college.
1) $30-40/hour (benefits and pension included) is a very decent wage, but it isn't the $70/hour legacy burden that is so often shoved off on autoworkers.
2) An observation that is (finally) being made is that legacy costs are more than a drop in the bucket, but are an incidental concern when the Big Three aren't making vehicles that people want to buy.
3) New workers aren't making these wages; their wages are in line with foreign competitors. This is, in fact, more of a liability for the UAW than it may sound on the surface, since pay tiers by date-of-hire impose a wage wedge that can push unions apart. Many corporations have exploited situations like this to sow discord in unions.
4) God Forbid blue-collar workers would earn as much as their betied brethren!

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Concept: Making Your Day a Sad Day.

Let it be acknowledged that the popular holiday song Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland is about a pair of erstwhile adolescents acting out a reckless plot to elope from under the oppressive eyes of their unaccepting families and despite the malicious cruelty of their peers.

It's all in the lyrics.

It requires no explanation.

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Necrus 28, 31.

It's a Wonderful Life: The alternate ending.

Answer honestly. Where would you rather be on a Saturday night: Bedford Falls or Potterville?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Diary: December 1998.

This is almost recent history, so I'm somewhat surprised that I don't remember the details of this month better than I do.

This was my second year of college. I remember in '97 it was my first time home and my family and friends made a big deal about my return. By '98, though, it was old hat. Also, this was an odd year when the U of C took two weeks off instead of three.

I do remember that I reconnected with Sarah Crawford via Josh Aldred; I'd met her the summer before, but lost track of her when she went to summer camp. The three of us spent a lot of time driving around Flint, getting into various degrees of trouble that I won't detail here.

I remember a couple odd absences; for example, this was the first time in ages that the DeVoes didn't throw a Christmas party. So instead, we invited them over for pizza. Unless I'm remembering wrong, and we went over there instead.

For Christmas, my parents got me a Romanian-English dictionary, because I was talking about spending a summer abroad; but these plans didn't come to fruition until later. On New Years Eve I went to a collossal party at the Crawfords... the first of three I'd attend, and this was where I met Marcy, who I wooed off-and-on for the next year. And this was when Demetrius taught me a dance he'd invented to Madonna's Ray of Light. I bought the album and it was my favorite for the next two months.

In the last days of the year, a massive blizzard descended on the midwest, hitting the western side of Michigan particularly hard and burying Chicago in more snow that it had seen in 35 years. So to flirt with 2009, a little, I remember my dad creeping along at 40 mph along I-94 all the way around the lake. The trip probably took us six or seven hours, but he kept us out of the ditches on the side of the expressway. Many cars and trucks had spun out, and we could see them when the snow let up from time to time.

Where were you in December 1998?

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Necrus 27, 31.


Where is this?

What's the last song that "gets you right here"?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Concept: Link to Friends of the Congo.

I am proud to link today to Friends of the Congo. With the economic discomfort we're feeling here in the U.S., it might be tempting to think that the distress stops at our borders... to be come reclusive and inward looking. In fact, the opposite is true. Whatever tension the United States is experiencing, it is still in a very advantageous position compared to most of the world. Our economic oversights and shortcomings, our failed economic policies have dragged the developing world along with us. This would be a terrible time to close our minds and borders.

It should not be lost, then, that Africa is in the midst of its own "world war," a conflict over money and economic resource that is often disguised or simply interpreted as a wave of "ethnic cleansing." This conflict is rooted in the same issues that prompted the Rwandan genocide over a decade ago, and has involved a number of states (the actual number is in dispute). Over five million have been killed, making this the deadliest conflict since World War II. The Friends of the Congo are committed to sharing this information and working towards a favorable resolution.

Please find this link added to the sidebar under the "cool people" section.

What's with all of the Africa links?

While this link in particular represents an immediate and pressing concern, I've been reading about Africa recently as part of the research I'm doing for my novel Urbantasm. I'm am researching the roots of all characters; since the setting of the novel is like Flint, many characters are of African extraction. I have the added benefit of learning about a part of the world I know little about; the history courses I've taken so far have treated Africa only briefly and tangentially. Zambia, Mozambique, Congo-Kinshasa... in many ways this is my first exposure.

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Necrus 26, 31.

"For them are the catacombs of Ptolemais, and the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries. They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles, and falter down black cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities in Asia. The haunted wood and the desolate mountain are their shrines, and they linger around the sinister monoliths on uninhabited islands. But the true epicure in the terrible, to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England; for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous."
Who said this?

Which musician would you most trust as a religious leader?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Necrus 25, 31.

Last week as a good week, overall. Barring larger political and global things over which I have no real control. I'm partly thinking of the Congo, there, though I haven't written about this here yet. During the week and outside of work, most of my energy goes into submitting Hungry Rats and reading for Urbantasm. For the latter, I'm rereading Les Misèrables and remembering why it's my favorite book ever. I've done a lot of reading at Kopi Cafe, and remembering why it's proximally my favorite cafe ever. I went through unnecessary pain, reminding myself that U.S. History at Borders Books really means Biographies of U.S. Presidents, and so it's a terrible place to learn about, say, labor or industrial history. I will order from Women and Children First this week, which is what I should've done in the first place. And I went to church for the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe.
On Friday night I went to the third-to-last production of the House and Bird show. On Saturday there was D&D, and then night I went to Gothic Funk Party #16. More on that soon. Sunday was comparatively relaxed. But the wife and I watched It's a Wonderful Life and then the Dana Carvey alternate ending.
A good week; very busy.

Detroit Free Press: Bush signals that auto deal is not far away.

How cold are you today?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Event: Opinion - Senate Seats and Subsidies.

Detroit Free Press: Senate Seat for Sale.

Some quotes:

“They’ve been throwing taxpayer dollars at Toyota for years in Alabama and no one raises a stink about that” Hayes said. In fact, as Olbermann noted, Alabama alone has given more in tax subsides per job to foreign automakers than Detroit was asking for in the bailout plan to save jobs at American companies.

The Big Three haven’t been competing against Toyota and Honda and Nissan; they’ve been competing against Japan. Unlike America, that nation actually has an industrial policy. While our government talked about the virtues of free trade, the Japanese government worked hand in glove with their automakers to help make them the world leaders.

Japan is aggressively trying to do with autos what they did with consumer electronics – undercut American manufacturers, drive them out of business and capture the American market. Japan heavily subsidizes their automakers, they fund their research, they manipulate their currency, and they erect trade barriers that make it virtually impossible for American automakers to export to their country. Think the fact that Pacific Rim nations buy up 80-percent of our government debt has something to do with keeping our government from enacting policies to level the playing field? The bank that holds your mortgage doesn't dance to your tune, you dance to the tune of the bank that holds your mortgage.

I don’t care what you’re manufacturing or if your CEO is Albert Einstein, if you are competing against a country that actually has universal health care, while you’re forced to add $1,200 to $1,500 to the cost to every unit you manufacture to cover your employees’ health care, you’re not going to be competitive. If your country doesn’t rebate the value added tax when you export your product while your competitor’s country does, not only will you be priced out of their market, your foreign competitor’s government subsidy will put them at a tremendous price advantage on your home turf.

Of course, now I've quoted almost the entire column.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Event: Two More Opinions.

My dad sent me this, from 17 years ago.

Car Talk, April 1992.

When I push (hard) for a loan to the Big Three, I'm not favoring a blank check; I've no desire to repeat the Wall Street bailout. Hopefully the White House attaches strict requirements to any aid it gives.

And this is from Hallie.

New York Times: When the Cars Go Away.

The interesting thing is, deindustrialization effectively shielded cities like Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw from the investment excitement of the eighties and the prosperity of the nineties. I had a stable family life, a healthy material life, and a good education, which was why I could bear witness to all this and then write about it today. Because I do feel that people from my part of the country have been treated to a rare sneak peek of what the rest of the country (or even the First World?) may be experiencing soon:


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Friday, December 12, 2008

Event: Another Good Article.

Body: "Seems I keep getting this story twisted."



"Somewhere, someone must know the ending?"

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Necrus 22, 31.

Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Do you anticipate or dread the holidays (generally) and Christmas (specifically)?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Necrus 21, 31.

Don't forget to checkout the writeup of Gothic Funk Party #15.

Christmas Tree Exhibition.

What's your favorite kind of nut?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Concept: Writeup of Gothic Funk Party #15: EYE OF ARGON

This document consists of:
1. Invitation to Gothic Funk Party #15
2. Addendum to the Invitation
3. Account of the Party
4. Photos of the party

1. The invitation to Gothic Funk Party #7:


Invitation written by Connor.

SUBJECT: Gothic Funk Party #15: EYE OF ARGON
BODY: Flier attached.
Text version follows:

The Gothic Funk Nation Presents...
Gothic Funk Party #15


Friday, December 5th
Eight o'clock in the evening.

Limited space; RSVP necessary.

No cover.
Beer $1.
Snacks $1.

Calling all bards and barbarians for a special reading of one of the worst stories ever written.

ThE wEAthEr BEAtEN trAil
wOuNd AhEAd iNto thE duSt
rAckEd cliMES of thE BArEN lANd
which doMiNAtES lArgE portiONS
of the NOrgoliAN EMpirE.

2. Addendum to the Invitation

3. Account of the Party

Instability is endemic to the Gothic Funk Nation! For the last half-year both of our reading series have been picking up steam, and the lineup for the first issue of our journal is very promising. And yet, the parties, which are this Nation's raison d'etre, have been sorely missing. The last official party was during Labor Day weekend. At the same time several brilliant ideas for parties had been floated: Reinhardt proposed a reading of the EYE OF ARGON, Sam proposed a stempunk interpretation of Hackers, and Barb proposed a movie viewing of Henson's Storyteller series. All of these would make for intimate, small-scale parties and we should do all of them. But Reinhardt and I decided that we could bring his plan to fruitition in about a week and so Reinhardt assembled the stories and I sent out the invite.

On the night of the party about nine people showed up: myself, Sam, Sky, Emma, her friend Christine, Amber, Reinhardt, and Wes. It was a testosterone heavy night, generally speaking. We kicked off the festivities with a round of snarfing on the back porch. The way I was taught to snarf (though there were several variations on this that night), one shakes a can of cheap beer and punctures the side with a ball-point pen while opening the lid and chugging. The suction functions much like a beer bong, albeit a lot messier. We did this on the back porch (in single-digit degrees) to avoid spilling all over the place, and we generally succeeded.

The main event was the short story The Eye of Argon published in 1970 in OSFAN, the journal of the Ozark Science Fiction Society. And, oh, it is awful. Witness the selection below:

"From where do you come barbarian, and by what are you called?" Gasped the complying wench, as Grignr smothered her lips with the blazing touch of his flaming mouth.
The engrossed titan ignored the queries of the inquisitive female, pulling her towards him and crushing her sagging nipples to his yearning chest. Without struggle she gave in, winding her soft arms around the harshly bronzedhide of Grignr corded shoulder blades, as his calloused hands caressed her firm protruding busts.

It would require too much space to do full justice to the accidental atrocity of this piece, but the game went as follows. We sat in a circle and read, the goal being to complete a page without laughing. We weren't allowed to slow to gain composure, and we had to pronounce all typos and errors (of which there were many). The story took three hours to read and, as with staged-readings of Hamlet, it was our determination in large part that saw us through. Still, it was a great night, a great event, and this was a new combination of people I would like to see again.

After the reading was finished, Sam treated us to a lecture he had prepared on weapons of mass destruction, from the MOAB and the Little Boy bombs to the Soviet Tsar bomb. We followed up with weird YouTubes and Gnarkill. It was a weird momeny of gender stereotypes winning out, as the boys clustered around the computer for about an hour, while the girls all dropped off on the futon.

The party ended at about one, and the bards and barbarians headed off into the swirling snow off that harroweing night and their grinding lungs were so cold to them until they stopped.

4. Photos of the Party.
All photos by Connor Coyne.

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Event: I Have Discovered My Secret Super Power.

Within a short time of my moving to any given state, that state's governor will fall into disgrace.

So where should I move next?

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Necrus 20, 31.


Where is this?

What song do you know that you would like to heard performed entirely with bells?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Concept: Link to Zambian Economist.

Today I link to the blog Zambian Economist in the sidebar "cool people" section. Maintained by "Cho" as "a non-political platform for exchanging ideas" the Zambian Economist nevertheless promotes a pragmatic argument to ease Zambian material and economic distress through common-sense reforms and responsible governance. I was particularly taken by the Memo to President Banda, but this blog discusses everything from food distribution to copper mining, and I'm going to have to visit many times before I've absorbed what it really has to offer.

You should drop by!

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In December 1983.

I was five, and I believe this was about a month before I officially became obsessed with dinosaurs. This far back, I remember events (like Christmas) and otherwise unfixable moments... I won't know for sure exactly what month or even what year I'm remembering.

That said, for as long as I can remember (certainly as far back as the mid-eighties) there is a moment that I associate with the early winter in 1983. I went to Valley School at this time, which is a private school that has spent most of its history leapfrogging from one facility to the next. When I attended, the school was based out of a one-story brick building in the middle of a great field surrounded by suburban subdivisions. This was Grand Blanc Township. One of the sides of the school faces a low slope, and on the first day that is snowed, sleds were dispensed. By sleds, what I really mean was that they had rolled red and blue sheets of plastic with grommet holes at the end to attach a yellow cord. When we unrolled these and layed on our stomachs or sat with our feet the length of the sheet, we could use them for sleds. I think that they were designed with this in mind. One of nostalgia-inducing toys that would probably never be allowed anymore.

Where were you in December 1983?

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Necrus 19, 31.

- It was a busy week, as well as an eventful one.
Eventful? Well the main event was that my brother, Cody, and his girlfriend, Catherine have become engaged. Congratulations, guys! I'm sure you'll make a great match, and I'm really thrilled that we'll be joining up the Coynes and the Etalls.
Oh, and yours truly will be the best man. This will be my first time in a wedding that's not my own.
Also, my wife started a new schedule of long hours and through the night. It means that I'm spending a lot of time alone, and I have insomnia as a result. But I have gotten a lot accomplished. I finished reading The Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong'o; a great novel, and one your should consider reading. It's 750 pages long, but it doesn't feel that long. And I've been working on submissions and writing projects. And Gothic Funk Party #15 seemed to go quite well, so I'll be reporting on that soon.
Oh yeah, and I just found out that Blogo's wearing a suit with black-and-white stripes.


A man overboard!

What matters it? The vessel does not halt. The wind blows. That sombre ship has a path which it is forced to pursue. It passes on.

The man disappears, then reappears; he plunges, he rises again to the surface; he calls, he stretches out his arms; he is not heard. The vessel, trembling under the hurricane, is wholly absorbed in its own workings; the passengers and sailors do not even see the drowning man; his miserable head is but a speck amid the immensity of the waves. He gives vent to desperate cries from out of the depths. What a spectre is that retreating sail! He gazes and gazes at it frantically. It retreats, it grows dim, it diminishes in size. He was there but just now, he was one of the crew, he went and came along the deck with the rest, he had his part of breath and of sunlight, he was a living man. Now, what has taken place? He has slipped, he has fallen; all is at an end.

He is in the tremendous sea. Under foot he has nothing but what flees and crumbles. The billows, torn and lashed by the wind, encompass him hideously; the tossings of the abyss bear him away; all the tongues of water dash over his head; a populace of waves spits upon him; confused openings half devour him; every time that he sinks, he catches glimpses of precipices filled with night; frightful and unknown vegetations seize him, knot about his feet, draw him to them; he is conscious that he is becoming an abyss, that he forms part of the foam; the waves toss him from one to another; he drinks in the bitterness; the cowardly ocean attacks him furiously, to drown him; the enormity plays with his agony. It seems as though all that water were hate.

Nevertheless, he struggles.

He tries to defend himself; he tries to sustain himself; he makes an effort; he swims. He, his petty strength all exhausted instantly, combats the inexhaustible.

Where, then, is the ship? Yonder. Barely visible in the pale shadows of the horizon.

The wind blows in gusts; all the foam overwhelms him. He raises his eyes and beholds only the lividness of the clouds. He witnesses, amid his death-pangs, the immense madness of the sea. He is tortured by this madness; he hears noises strange to man, which seem to come from beyond the limits of the earth, and from one knows not what frightful region beyond.

There are birds in the clouds, just as there are angels above human distresses; but what can they do for him? They sing and fly and float, and he, he rattles in the death agony.

He feels himself buried in those two infinities, the ocean and the sky, at one and the same time: the one is a tomb; the other is a shroud.

Night descends; he has been swimming for hours; his strength is exhausted; that ship, that distant thing in which there were men, has vanished; he is alone in the formidable twilight gulf; he sinks, he stiffens himself, he twists himself; he feels under him the monstrous billows of the invisible; he shouts.

There are no more men. Where is God?

He shouts. Help! Help! He still shouts on.

Nothing on the horizon; nothing in heaven.

He implores the expanse, the waves, the seaweed, the reef; they are deaf. He beseeches the tempest; the imperturbable tempest obeys only the infinite.
Around him darkness, fog, solitude, the stormy and nonsentient tumult, the undefined curling of those wild waters. In him horror and fatigue. Beneath him the depths. Not a point of support. He thinks of the gloomy adventures of the corpse in the limitless shadow. The bottomless cold paralyzes him. His hands contract convulsively; they close, and grasp nothingness. Winds, clouds, whirlwinds, gusts, useless stars! What is to be done? The desperate man gives up; he is weary, he chooses the alternative of death; he resists not; he lets himself go; he abandons his grip; and then he tosses forevermore in the lugubrious dreary depths of engulfment.

Oh, implacable march of human societies! Oh, losses of men and of souls on the way! Ocean into which falls all that the law lets slip! Disastrous absence of help! Oh, moral death!

The sea is the inexorable social night into which the penal laws fling their condemned. The sea is the immensity of wretchedness.

The soul, going down stream in this gulf, may become a corpse. Who shall resuscitate it?

Who said this?

From a global perspective, regarding the next several years. Are you optimistic, pessimistic, pensive, nervous, alarmed, what?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Necrus 18, 31.

- I'll talk about the last week tomorrow.

The Detroit Free Press: $17-billion auto deal 'very close,' Levin says.

When was the last time you called in sick?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Event: Digby Weighs in on the Auto-Industry.

Hullabaloo: They Work Hard For The Money.

This opinion means a lot to me. Digby is one of my favorite bloggers, and the fact that we're on the same, or very similar, pages here encourages me. I've never really read anything of hers that isn't reasonable and responsible.

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Necrus 15, 31.

I am happy to link to Absolute Vanilla by Calladrin, a South African writer's blog I discovered a couple weeks ago. Drop by and take a look!


Which do you find most indespensible in cold weather: a good hat, a good scrarf, or good gloves?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Concept: Saturn Return.

Not a picture of the actual car, but this is the same make and model, the same Medium Red, and the same hubcaps. The background could easily be a stand in for Southeast Michigan. Come to think of it, this picture was likely taken in Southeast Michigan.

1991 Saturn SL, Medium Red, Manual Transmission

For a sixteen to nineteen year old boy, this guy was one of my very best friends. It wasn't in my name -- my parents got it in 1991 -- but from the first time I almost put it into a ditch (manual transmission; the cars we drove in drivers ed were all automatics) I was as possessive and protective as a jealous lover. This car could safely navigate around the potholes of Flint's industrial strips, transport a group of four of my friends (happy and seatbelted) from the East Side to Ruggeros in under fifteen minutes. It didn't accelerate exceptionally well, but it handled speed well enough to accomodate the most frenetic Detroit traffic (which, unlike Chicago, is fast and efficient as it is deadly). It had a radio but no tape player, and its occasional rattling always seemed to be in time with Banana 101.5 Doors' organs. This car got me down to Pontiac and back for a quarter of a tank, or in 1997, to Chicago for about twenty bucks. Best of all, when McDonalds sold the All American meal... $2.10 for a cheeseburger, small fries, small coke... this car had the perfect amount of space for all three nestled between the emergency brake and the driver's and passenger's seats.

It was a beautiful beautiful thing.

I called it "SL."

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Necrus 14, 31.

UAW.ORG: Read #5.
Also check out:
General Motors: GM facts and fiction.
United Auto Workers: UAW delegates: We'll sacrifice to help U.S. auto industry.
Detroit Free Press: 6 myths about the Detroit 3.

No question of the day today.
Please read the articles.
Then consider filling out the form here (on behalf of the UAW) or here (on behalf of GM) to share your opinion with your representatives.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Necrus 13, 31.


Where is this?

Is the layout/design of this blog too "busy"?
(Note: Even if it is, I'm not promising I'll get around to fixing it any time real soon.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Event: Thoughts on Southern Africa.

Over the last several weeks, as part of my research for Urbantasm, I've been reading about countries in southern Africa. So far I've taken in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and presently, Mozambique.

I don't really have an argument or a bone of contention in this post... but it is one of those subjects where questions lead to more questions. The history courses I took in junior high and high school spent almost no time on the history of Africa which meant that for a long time I had only the popular images of blight and war, coup d'etats and apartheid. In college I quickly learned that most things that seem as though they ought to be complicated actually are, and realized that each tribe, each city, each country, each region had their own dilemmas, traditions, and histories. But that was as specific as I got. With the exception of a few articles I've read here and there and stories that friends have brought home from abroad, this is the first time I've taken a closer look at Africa.

One thing that immediately strikes me is the paradoxical relationship of South Africa to its neighbors since independence. In the early days, when apartheid was in full swing, South Africa's neighbors confronted it (often with the encouragement of the competing West and Soviet states)... while it's debatable what the upshot for the great powers would be, South Africa's retaliation was often devastating to its neighbors. For example, South African support of Mozambican insurgents led to that country's long civil war, which killed or displaced almost 25% of the population. Most South Africans are, themselves, very poor. But the economic engines of Cape Town and Johannesburg are forces to be reckoned with, and easily eclipse that of South Africa's neighbors. This would seem to be why apartheid, in addition to being a human rights nightmare by virtue of what it was, had an outsized impact on southern Africa as a whole. Of course, something that Wikipedia doesn't discuss in detail, but which I suspect is worth considering, is the fact that, as with most proxy wars, the West expressed concern for African states only as nebulously coherent allies. Our only investment was a military investment, and when we did engage in markets there it was in the most rapacious and predatory ways we could. So it's also Europe and America's fault that southern Africa is in the bind that it is today.

I know that these countries are often criticized as undemocratic and oligarchic. In the case of Zimbabwe, the worst observations would seem to hold, even as South Africa itself has come the furthest toward true democracy. But my attention is most held by the other two I've considered here: Zambia and Mozambique. Zambia is diversifying its economy, and Mozambique has joined just about every association from the Commonwealth of Nations to the Community of Portuguese Language Countries as a way to augment their post-civil war influence. Considering the Pandora's box of troubles these states have had to grapple with in living memory, it astonishes me that any sort of functioning state is possible... in some ways, this achievement is more audacious and commendable than the maintenance of the status quo in the relatively safe, powerful, and prosperous U.S.

But this opinion is largely limited and even hazardously uninformed. It is necessarily bookish. So please, comment on this!

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Necrus 12, 31.

"I have a fine sense of the ridiculous, but no sense of humor."
Who said this?

Do you like snow?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Diary: December 2004.

I say it all the time: 9/04 - 9/05 was a great year! One of the best. So here is the December installment.

This was in many ways a kind of sedate month; Chicago was cold that winter and so far exceedingly wet. Sam and I went to a pub on Broadway and listened to stories of the ghost of an alcoholic who was easily placated by placing a cup of vodka at the foot of the stairs. The drink would be gone in the morning. We walked in the bitter cold down Kenmore and Argyle, past all the neon lights of the Lao and Vietnamiese restaurants there, and on down Broadway to the Green Mill for free jazz. It was a long walk, about two miles, from our apartment. We were a block from the beach but it was too cold to go out there. It was around then that Sam got his job at Cherry One and quit at the Lego store for good. I was settling into my job FT although it was a temp job. I spent weekends in Hyde Park and tried to make as many scavhunt meetings as I could. I was also spending nights putting together my grad school applications and reading up on my Artaud and Kaufman.

On December 10th, Lisa and Jenny Blair hosted Gothic Funk Party #2. From Lisa's account:

This party involved Gothic Funk apparel (with plenty of selection for anyone who showed up un-gothic-funkified), Tea of varying types, home-made fortune cookies with Fortunes written by Amber and by my old friend Josh, Unicorn rainbow pops, Christmas lights, projections, nachos without any dip, candy canes, two kinds of cheesecake, blueberry coffeecake, oranges, apples, beer, soda, One pizza, a Mystery written by Connor, a murder, culprits, a clue (which was mistakenly eaten), a Tarot-card reading Booth with Connor as Reader, a chalkboard upon which drawings were made based on what was overheard of the Tarot readings, four of which occurred (drawings by Amber, Steven, Joe, Lisa), and music:
Bert & Ernie Sing-Along, The Southwest Michigan State Choir, Bjrk, Space Odyssey 2001, Star Wars, Chilling Thrilling Sounds of The Haunted House, Radiohead, Patsy Cline, extremely sexy dance music from India, Symphonion Music Box, All Time Polka Hits - Six Fat Dutchmen, and The Age of Aquarius - The Fifth Dimension.

Two weeks later, as Sam gave us a ride back to Flint in his increasingly unreliable Beretta, with wind spitting through the air and darkness, I discovered Postal Service. Christmas was fine. I was shocked the day after when the tsunami hit; I became obsessed with it for awhile. It's hard to understand such a thing, so much water, when the most water I'd seen in a home, a house, was six inches standing in my basement back in Flint, or an occasional overlapping river. I seem to recall it was snowy though. I celebrated Christmas with my family but not my girlfriend... the last time this would happen. I rode down to Ohio for the New Year. I sent off the first of my grad school applications to Washinton state and Louisiana.

Where were you in December 2004?

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Necrus 11, 31.

Where to begin? I extemporaneously decided to take last week off from blogging, so I have two weeks to catch on. And I don't want to ramble on ad infinatum but I do want to convey how neat the last couple weeks have been. I'll start with the weekend before last, which was pretty typical except for Sunday when my parents came to visit for an early Thanksgiving. We had a short visit of lunch, a movie, and dinner, but it still stands out as the moment in my brain separating the holday-filled start of winter from all that autumn stuff. And appropriately too, since we got our first really cold days and several bouts of snow last week.
Monday through Wednesday was pretty stressful at work, since we basically had to pack five days of consults and appointments into three days, but we sifted through chaos and everything worked out fine. Monday we had ten consults, which is encouraging given how slow the season has been lately around here.
The Thanksgiving break managed to be the best of both busy and lazy. The laziness was that I spent a lot of time playing games with the wife and trying to beat Pool of Radiance, which I could not beat as an eleven-year-old. I haven't beaten it yet, but I did destroy the vampire in Valhingen Graveyard, and a bunch of kobolds and trolls. Thursday night we went to Reinhardt's family's for Thanksgiving dinner, and I met about 20% of his family, that is, about 100 people. The next day we met up again to see Jim Henson's "Dog City," which sucked, and an episode of "The Storyteller" which was much better, followed by deep dish pizza, again with a bunch of people I didn't know. On Saturday I wound up at a Country/Western bar with a bunch of nurses and the most overpriced Old Styles and Coronas you can imagine. Sunday was a bit easier, but I went to church and watched some of "American Gangster."
Oh, yes: On Saturday I walked up to Kopi and did some spiritual hygiene there. When the place became crowded I moved down the street to Women and Children First. Basically, I put my journal in order, and gave myself grades on the 30-some going concerns right now. Among the most important: Work B-, Finances B, Chores C, Urbantasm A, Gothic Funk Nation A, Hungry Rats B+, Beowulf A, submitting writing C-. FYI, I give my efforts on this blog an A, but I give generally a B. So I'll be doing some more work on that.
Postscript, I dropped off some of our fish tank water to be tested on the way home. Well, I didn't want to carry it all over the neighborhood in a plastic baggie, so I rinsed out a little glass whiskey flask and left the water to be tested. Abe, who owns the store, called me back to say the water was "weird." After troubleshooting for about ten minutes about the weird pH level of the water -- something that could have resulted from introducing some weird chemical or substance -- we realized that the distortion was caused by residual whiskey. So either I hadn't rinsed the bottle very well or my fish were making moonshine!

CANOE: Squeegee duel erupts.

You're at a gas station! You're getting mugged! The first thing you go for is a --