Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Camelot! Camelot! Camelot! (It's only a model)

Ask not, what you can do for your country, but what I can do for your career

I watched some of the Bob Hope coverage last night. In many of the film and photo montages covering his career there was usually a picture of him posing alongside President Kennedy. You often see this on the news. For anybody to be anybody, they have to have a picture of themselves standing alongside JFK. It was as if he was the gold standard by which anybody could say they finally "Made It". Think about it. I'm sure there's a wax statue of Kennedy at Madame Toussaud's, and maybe there is one of Gerald Ford there as well. Which one do you think people are standing next to for a photo? Remember that photo of a young Bill Clinton shaking hands with JFK? Bingo. Clinton suddenly was graced with an aura that only Kennedy could confer. Had Clinton met LBJ or Nixon instead, what do you think the effect of such a photo would have been? Certainly anything but magical.

You know, I would bet money that right now J-Lo and Ben Affleck's publicists are trying to figure out how to get these two into a photo with Kennedy. Don't be surprised if the next J-Lo video has her strutting through Madame Toussaud's - spinning and whirling around the wax figure of JFK and provocatively gliding her hands across his waxy suitcoat buttons....

The Vladivostok Purchase
Interesting article on why China should buy Russia's eastern territory.

Friday, July 25, 2003

With Coleslaw, Rolls, and Butter
My wife noticed that on the new Maine State license plate the lobster depicted on the plate is red. Live lobsters in the Gulf of Maine are normally brown (though rare specimens have a blue shade), so for a lobster to be red it means that it has been cooked! Therefore, the Maine state license plate is an incomplete depiction. Along with the red lobster they must also include the complete table spread - rolls & butter, coleslaw, chowder, and a slice of blueberry pie.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Harrison Bergeron
Written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., this is perhaps the finest short story ever written.

Boiler Room
There's an outfit in the building I work in that is involved in insurance sales. I see many of the agents sitting outside smoking their lungs out during their breaks. Each one is wearing some sort of black suit, white or blue dress shirt, and blue or red power tie. A few times I have walked past them I have heard them talking shop, I think I may have even heard one of them boast about "taking down a whale" that day. These people amuse me.

Friday, July 18, 2003

The Discontent of Nathan Cartwright - a short story (Part 2)
Nathan hung his cloak on the coathook and made his way to the drinking well located in the far corner of the Guildshop. The drinking well was where he would find his fellow Guildsmiths enjoying a ladle of water while discussing the politics and gossip of the day. Near the drinking well was located a brazier which warmed an iron coffee kettle. By the looks of it though, it was obvious that someone in the Guild had neglected to refresh the kettle. No matter though as Nathan was not partial to the brew of the Guild, as it was often watery and weak-willed. He made his way over to the drinking well and pulled up the rope that brought forth the bucket from the spring below. He raised the ladle to his lips and sipped the liquid, listening to the conversation that involved his fellow Guildsmiths.

"Indeed I fear not Treason! If Sedition it is then Sedition it is but nevertheless I will walk into our beloved Guildmaster's office, throw down this rag of a broadsheet and look him in the eye - kindly informing him that not even Satan's arsehole would produce such vileness!" bellowed John Winthrop, the brawniest of the Guildsmiths clustered by the well. The others laughed and backslapped in agreement. Nathan looked at the men quizzically and the group realized his confusion. One Guildsmith jutted towards Nathan a rolled up pamphlet for Nathan to take. "Here, " he said, "Compliments of the Guildmaster."

Nathan opened up the printing and viewed the headline. "From Good to Great: Highly Original and Thoughtful Theories on the Marshalling of Men and the Endeavoring of Tasks Towards a Greater Industrial Reward. Nathan glanced at the tract, recoiling at the suggestions elucidated within.

"This is pure and fetid nightsoil!" he remarked to the others. "Is this the new religion that our Guildmaster worships? The altar that encourages him to rename things En-ron, that commands him to organize us into "Forge Farms" where we sweat and toil in neat little stalls exhibiting the most cramped and soulless symmetry?"

"Indeed, Nathan. Indeed, "replied one of the Guildsmiths. "Our Guildmaster will latch on to any prevailing philosophy when it pertains to matters of industry and commerce. He will, to the ends of the Earth, follow any old seer with a quill and an inkwell who claims to unlock the secrets of success. This pamphlet is his latest Siren."

Nathan looked around him, inspecting the confines of En-Ron. No! To him the Guild was still Men of Iron. Nathan promised himself that he would resist the practices of what some were calling "Guild America". Indeed, he had not shot his musket at Johnny Burgoyne's boys, securing freedom for the colonies, to have peddling pamphleteers recreate King George's servitude within every blockhouse, warehouse, and guildshop around. No! He vowed he would resist this Guild America.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

The Discontent of Nathan Cartwright - a short story (Part 1)
Nathan Cartwright stood at the entrance and looked up. He briefly sneezed - a familiar reaction he had whenever he looked at the sun. A shadow cast across his face and then he was able to readjust his sight to gain a closer inspection of the new wooden sign that the Guildmaster had hung above the entrance.

The Bosom of Great Iron Works

He stared blankly at the display, trying to rid himself of the thought that the Guildmaster was possibly entertaining dementia of greater potency. Indeed, it was only yesterday that the Guild had been known by the more illustrative title Men of Iron, indicating, at least to the passerby, that within the guildshop men were toiling away over luciferian pits of fire, fashioning metal into the useful tools of iron that society was keen on. Somehow though, Men of Iron employed more syllables than what the Guildmaster found tasteful. In his latest move at attaining and employing "efficiencies", the Guildmaster decided to trim away the foul and the useless, much as one does when cutting the mold from a breadloaf. Hence Men of Iron became En-Ron and a new wooden sign was ordered for publicity. This En Ron. What a foul sounding bit of wordplay. Indeed it was devilish. The thing only men of the future would appreciate. Men sunken in their morals and sodden with pursuits of hard drink and fornication. It disgusted Nathan to work in such a grotesquely named shop.


Friday, July 11, 2003

Big Whoop
I am a slave to the Big corporate interests. Yesterday I sprinkled Big Salt (Morton's) on my meal which was situated on Big Dinnerware (Pfaltzgraff) and I used Big Cutlery (Oneida) to manipulate the Big Food (Shaw's) into my mouth. I sat on Big Comfort (Jordan's Furniture) and watched Big News (NBC) do a story on Big Tobacco and the Big Anchorman (Brokaw) conveyed the requisite Big Worry. I then got up and went to the bathroom where I sat on Big Porcelain (American Standard) but realized too late that we were out of Big Tissue (Cottonelle)....

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Here Comes the Neighborhood
For those of you who don't know, Libertarians are by and large Republicans that aren't hypocrites. The principles of Republicanism are generally rooted in the belief that less government is best government, but one can often find Republicans making exceptions to this ethos in statement and practice. Libertarians, on the other hand, universally apply the idea of smallest possible government across the broad spectrum of issues. Consider this grab bag of issues that Libertarians favor: unlimited access to abortion, unregulated gun ownership, legalization of euthanasia and mercy killing, elimination of the Internal Revenue Service, legalization of illegal drugs, elimination of trade tariffs, elimination of adult oriented business zoning prohibitions, reduction/elimination of restrictive regulations on private enterprise, et. al. As you can see, this cursory list of stances reflects an embrace of some positions championed by the Left and some positions championed by the Right. Indeed, since the underlying philosophy of Libertarianism is Less Government is Best Government, then it makes sense why the Libertarians believe in minimizing government intrusion in most acts of life.

However, as a national party the Libertarians have hovered around 5% (usually less) voting acceptance in recent elections. Considering how entrenched the Democrat and Republican parties are in local and national politics, the Libertarians have been trying to come up with a strategy on how to increase their visibility, membership, and success as a national political party. A new element perhaps of this strategy may be to convince a healthy number of actively voting registered Libertarians to move into a state with a generally low population (one that also exhibits sympathies towards an agenda of limited government) and try to tip the voting scales in favor of Libertarian candidates and positions - with the aim perhaps of establishing a beachhead within the nation for Libertarian values to gain majority control of government.

Indeed, the Free State Project highlights this particular agenda and also reveals that our beloved Granite State appears to be in the crosshairs of Libertarians for takeover. So don't be surprised if in the future you hear more people around you - at the grocery store, the gas station or at restaurants talk about their guns, their drugs, the grandmother they wish to "put to sleep", or how smart homeschooling will make their children. It may just be that these people are the footsoldiers of a Libertarian invasion.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Bird Crap, USA
Navassa Island may not have a star on the flag, nor a representative in Congress, but it is indeed a chunk of US territory. A chunk of bird crap that is, or to be more accurate - Guano. You see, Guano was at one time highly prized as a fertilizer for agriculture. In a bid to secure sources of Guano, the US government essentially deputized private citizens (under the Guano Islands Act of 1856) to seek out uninhabited and unclaimed islands around the globe - that would provide sources of profitable Guano - and make claims to them . Under the provisions of the act, such islands became unincorporated territories of the US - run out of the Office of Insular Affairs in the Department of the Interior. A number of islands claimed under the Guano Islands Act have in recent times been negotiated over to other countries, but apparently the US and Haiti are in a dispute over ownership of tiny Navassa Island. Let's hope the international peacenik crowd doesn't direct their attention towards this issue, or else there will be no end to the No Blood for Bird Shit sloganeering.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Read Reply
People in my office tend to ignore emails sent to them by coworkers - even, and most importantly, ones having to do with internal business. That is why I check the Read Reply option for each email I send to a coworker. I need accountability. I need to know if and when I am being ignored and be able to gauge the length of time between the known receipt of my message and a returned reply by the perp. It's interesting that the Read Reply has become a tool in the service of identifying incidents of being dissed. Imagine other moments when a Read Reply could be useful. Take Caller ID for example. Now I must admit I am a consistent call screener. I'll take a look at the number and make a determination whether to answer or not. Even if the call is from friend or family, it has been not infrequent when I have chosen to continue with what I have been doing rather than interrupt that and take the call. So knowing how I am with Caller ID, I think it's ripe for the establishment of Read Reply style accountability. Simply speaking, all Caller ID displays could be outfitted with some detection device that could sense the moment that it was being studied and analyzed by the Caller ID owner. A signal could be alerted back to the call originator which would inform them that indeed their call was recognized by the receiving party, but had been nevertheless ignored. You know, come to think of it, Caller ID should also have the ability for the caller to send a text message to the display screen. So if you get the Read Reply alert and know you are being ignored you could send a text message that says "F*ck You, pick up the muthafukkin phone!" (or something less inflammatory) and the message shows up on the Caller ID display. Thinking about this further, phones should be outfitted with some sort of signal burst button that launches a salvo of the most horrendous chirps, buzzes, and other annoying sounds back at the call originator who ordinarily is hearing the ringing tone - waiting for the call to be picked up. Thus, if someone is ignoring a call, and then is discovered to be ignoring a call and is subsequently called on it, the person can choose to enact sonic countermeasures against the call originator - unleashing the horrid sounds with the desire that these torments compel the call originator to hang up.

Methinks I have said more than enough for people to begin questioning my sanity (if they had not already done so)......

Monday, July 07, 2003

Guitar God
I've been listening to a lot of Nels Cline recently. His guitar work is fantastic - experimental and structured at the same time. Its difficult to describe his sound only because its all over the place. But then alternately he can be calm and classical. He can really launch into a solo or pull back and create a truly rich sonic dreamscape. For those who like hippie jam band guitar work, Nels may not be appealing as there is a particular edge to his way of noodling. Indeed, his stuff is a pleasure to listen to.