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Arizona State University, as you probably already know, is the site of tomorrow's third and final Presidential debate. CNN and MSNBC already have soundstages set up, and were airing shows live from them today. I'd go into a lot of detail about the idiocy that went on there, but I think this letter to the editor that I wrote (which will most likely not be published, especially because the version I sent had several grammatical errors I failed to find in my haste):

I would like to take this opportunity to thank demonstrators in both the CNN Crossfire and MSNBC Hardball audiences Tuesday for proving that immaturity is truly nonpartisan. Both sides demonstrated a complete inability to master such concepts as civility, tact, and getting their damn signs out of my face. I realize, of course, that the idea that possesses both parties is that making more noise and taking up more space shows that there is more public support for their candidate. This sentiment, however, is rather akin to a child crying more and more loudly in an effort to cajole the parent into doing what it wants. The parent not only grows more and more irritated, but their resolve is steeled against fulfilling the child's wishes.

Both shows were overshadowed by "sign wars", in which each side would make a puerile attempt to block the other party's signs with their own. At one point, another student standing next to me shouted at some of the more aggressive antagonists something to the effect of, "What are you, in third grade?" A BBC correspondent later interviewed him. It's a good thing he didn't interview me; my reply would have been unprintable. Meanwhile, in between such clever chants as "Viva Bush" and "No More Years", we had Bush supporters cracking jokes that even Carrot Top would shrink from using; such creative remarks as, "Only fat girls like Kerry" and (when a Kerry sign fell off its stake) "Oh, looks like Kerry's falling under the pressure." Perhaps in the interest of equality (i.e., to show such idiocy isn't confined to conservatives), we had Kerry supporters making similar comments, albeit directed more at the candidate than the campaigners; e.g., "Dick is limp" and the infamous "Bushoccio" doll. Overall, while the Bush supporters tended to be more obnoxious, the Kerry supporters were louder and more irritating.

What I want to know is what people are hoping to prove with these displays. (The only thing it proves to me is that they probably shouldn't be voting.) Does any rational adult truly believe that anyone will be swayed to their side by waving around posters and screaming incoherently? I should hope not. If anything, the Republican demonstrators just made me more resolute in my belief that a large percentage of Bush voters are raving loons, and the Democratic demonstrators (whose candidate I will be voting for, though I am not registered with either party) made me ashamed to be even vaguely associated with them.

You want to support your candidate, that's fine. But would it be too much to ask for you to have a little bit of decorum? Could you, say, tone it down to the level of a wrestling audience?


In related news, if you watched CNN's Crossfire today, you probably saw me. I was the short, fat guy in blue that wasn't holding a sign or screaming at the camera or anything. I was waving a newspaper like a fan. It was pretty hot out, after all.

Edit: I just realized I posted this in the Oct. 13th daylog. This was on Oct. 12th, obviously, because Oct. 13th is the day of the debate.

Edit Deux: I just got a call from the editor at the State Press. Not only do they want to print the letter, but they're making it a guest column. Jesus. I can hardly wait to see the hate mail come in.

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So, I got my crystal goblets, though not without a last minute bid war. Two other bidders wanted them but I hung on. Last time (October 8, 2004) I said "I know what's a fair deal" and in this case I'm sure I overpaid but I really wanted them.

So you know how you can talk to the seller to arrange shipping and delivery and stuff? I asked where he got the goblets and he says that one of them came from an estate sale and the other he'd gotten on eBay from someone in Australia. It's really weird how these are all over like that. I don't know if there were a lot of them at one time (in which case I paid way too much) or if they were divided up among a family who spread apart or something like that?

He asked me why I was buying them and I said that I already had three like it. I didn't tell him about the matching decanter. Then it got a bit weird and he tried to back out of the sale and wanted to buy mine. I said no way we had an agreement and anyway I didn't want to sell and I'd report him to eBay and stuff. So it was a bit tense but after a few emails he agreed to go ahead with the sale and apologized and all.

So it's all arranged and they're coming by air mail all the way from Fish Hook, Cape Town. I'm very pleased. I'm starting to think I can plan a Halloween party and use them, they have that gothic look to them and should really make the scene.

In other news I talked to my therapist about some of my recurring dreams and she says I need to express them, I'm going to write one up in a "dream log" and see what you E2 types make of it. Maybe I'll do that tonight since Artie is watching baseball on the TV.

P.S. Thanks to themanwho and karma debt who mentioned my typos the last time out, this time I have spell checked it all.

He steps through the trailer door, in out of the rain, with that sticky red clay they call dirt here in North Carolina clinging to his stained workboots' soles. Conscientiously, he wipes them on the welcome mat featuring the bristly green frog sitting on his bristly green lily pad before taking them off and setting them next to the hutch on the plywood board (mud-stained). His Carhartt jacket drips water from the cuffs, spattering trails of droplets on the diamond-pattern polyvinyl floor as he shrugs it off.

"You look like you've had a hard day", I comment from the worn paisley sofa in front of our 27" TV, and I'm thinking to myself that he looks as bad as I've ever seen him (even worse than the day he came home with the last half inch of his left pinky gone, tore off by one of the ripsaws). Deposits of mud have formed from the mixture of dust and sweat and rain, outlining in sharp relief the deep creases along his eyes and mouth. He slouches against the hutch eyeing me, the corner of the faux-oak molding pressing against his temple, shoulders rounded under the heavy cotton work shirt, dark wetness on top fading down and encroaching on the white rings of sweat-salt radiating out from his pits. I spot a new burn on the outer elbow that'll have to be patched. Lurching from the hutch, he slips the thin ribbons of his suspenders off his shoulders, worn-out elastic curving down around his thighs. His arms seem to be made from the same material as he drops heavily into the kitchen chair with a thud.

"Uhhhuhmmmmm" comes his reply finally, seemingly not so much spoken as pressed forcefully out of him through the process of pulling one thin leg up to peel off a threadbare white sock. He expounds further, "Boss had me in the boiler room all twelve hours I was on."

His boss, Jim Deligh, is a middle-aged overweight balding sonofabitch who's hit on me at the last three plant Christmas parties.

"Donnie! He can't ask you to do that!", and I'm up off the couch stalking towards him with further reproaches brimming when he hits me with a look so weary and haggard that I stop dead, hot blood suddenly icy, sharp words sticking in my craw.

And I know. He can ask Donnie to do it, and will again. The bills sit there on the table making lies of the words I'm still swallowing and the little one will be up from his nap and crying for his dinner soon and his brother and sisters will be in from the neighborhood any moment, and what'll they say if they find momma standing here with tears in her eyes?

So I smooth his sweat and rain drenched hair down, and kiss him on his little bald spot (the one he worries over so much when he has the time), before moving to the oven to check on the chicken pot pie, his salty dust taste sharp on my lips.

Hi all.

The last week has been splendid: having a week off, I finally managed to get back to trying to install various Linux flavours on my new computer (ECS Via KT600A board, 512 ram), which turned out to be trickier than I thought: turns out that the Maxtor 40 g drive I bought new has problems with the NTFS partitioning of Windows XP, and even Maxblast, their inhouse HD-tool didn't solve that problem. So I had to dive back into the machine and exchange jumpers on the HD to exchange Master and Slave settings. After that it worked ok and I got the XP Installation going. Next was Linux: Suse for some weird reason had problems wit the onboard audio and somehow refused to start properly, Mepis didn't like the 2 IDE drive setup and Ubuntu completely ignored the Geforce 5700 which would have led me to perform Kerneltweaks I really wasn't happy with. Debian Woody has old desktops, Gentoo is way too complicated, so it was back to good old Knoppix 3.6, which not only ran beautifully, but also recognised all hardware and installed itself speedily on my second HD (thanks to a nifty new script).

But why did I have to get a new Graphic Card? Because the used medium range Nvidia MX I bought was only able to play Doom 3 with, er 5 FPS. This was of course pathetic, so I got a new Geforce 5700 from my new favourite mail order shop and exchanged the two cards. But now Doom3 showed only the grey screen of death. Even updating the machine to DirectX 9.c, the newest Nvidia drivers and the Doom3 1.1 patch and changing the screen resolution didn't help:

Doom3 is for me a non starter.

Pretty frustrating.

Oh well, back to Ask the Pilot's new book.

I’m not sure what’s worse, rejection and condescension or the fact that it happens all too frequently in our lives.

Ergo, I have decided to cry lots and then see how I feel after that. I mean that’s got to help right? Ever stopped to consider the choice you just made? Why did you make it? Was the decision really yours or were you influenced by another?

I’m a heartbeat away from saying ‘fuck it’ wait, is my heart actually beating? I ask because I can’t feel anything but the blind panic associated with indecision. Of course you already know this about me, what you don’t know is how I came to be on the road to hades, one fucked up decision at a time like a twisted yellow brick road, broken, uneven and covered with the vomit of those poor bastards who went before you.

Imagine your decisions are like clay added to a sculpture, you have all these ideas, you start off with something that actually looks pretty good! You pat yourself on the back, pleased with the agility of your fingers, your fertile imagination, your obvious talent. Not satisfied you continue to add clay, still not quite satisfied your creation grows, fed by your pathetic need to excel until the result is an unrecognisable lump, equal in talent and structure to your daughters first kindergarten pencil holder.

Once you’ve screwed up all your most important decisions, the ones with the power to shape your life forever, what’s left? And where’s the incentive to ever make another decision? Your ‘precious’ life caught in an eternal loop. Like a song, stuck on a record player. You keep listening but you still can’t quite catch those last few words stopping you from knowing the whole song, perfection unrealised, unfulfilled and unrealistic.

I could sit here for an extremely long time trying to find a clever way to end this self-absorbed little rant-fest but in the immortal words of someone who still has all his decisions intact and sparkling in the sunshine, “Meh!” Who can be bothered?!

This election will go down in history as one of the most divisive, and this administration as the most evil, hateful, warmongering, fascist, and untruthful in history.

The Bush (P)Residency has a significant problem with truth. Every word out of Dumya and his gaggle of cronies is either an obfuscation, an out-of-context quote, or an outright lie. Frankly, if he wins the election (he was never properly elected in the first place, so I avoid the term re-election) the American public deserves the reaming he is going to give them. I only regret that I will have to put up with his "administration" as well.

Recently, Dumya has been harping on a statement made by Kerry about reducing terrorism to a "nuisance", belittling the concept and using it as an example of how weak Kerry is. What this actually demonstrates is how much of a panderer and false wrapped-in-the-flag psuedo-patriot he is.

What Kerry meant is that we should deal with terrorism the way others handle terrorism. I lived in Germany during the Red Army terrorist bombings, and even though the uncertainty, the government did not strip the people of their rights, and everyone lived their lives normally. In Spain, they recently had a major terrorist incident that destroyed their main train station and killed hundreds, yet if you go there you would be hard-pressed to see where the government has changed anything.

Do you think those countries (and others impacted by terrorism) are whistling in the dark, pretending the threat doesn't exist? No, they just go through their lives with a little more caution, but largely live as they always have. They look upon terrorism as random violence, like a mugging, or a car accident, or other unfortunate happening.

Kerry's point is that Terrorism is not some organized worldwide cabal that can be eliminated. Terrorism will always be with us, like crime, disease, and poverty, and must be dealt with as such. One can throw crooks into jail, treat the sick, and help the poor, but will never eliminate what created them because there is no organized center for any of them to eliminate.

(That's why the "war on drugs" is so stupid. You can't fight a war against a behavior, a tactic, a philosophy.)

Terrorism is a danger. However, living in Manhattan, I am in more danger of a taxi jumping the curb or a mugger killing me than a terrorist destroying the building I am in. That is not to say that I will ignore the threat of terrorism, it is that terrorism is among the many dangerous things in this world, and making a special effort to wage a "war" on it will not eliminate it. My keeping my eyes open along with all of my fellow citizens will do more to prevent it than any number of soldiers standing around on our street corners.

I'd rather have a well-paid cop on the beat that knew the community, as he would protect me from every danger, not just the politically-popular ones.

I just noticed this and thought I'd get myself worked up a little...

From the Darwin Awards' 1996 nominations (direct copy/paste quote):
(Cairo, Egypt, 31 Aug 1995 CAIRO, Egypt) Six people drowned Monday while trying to rescue a chicken that had fallen into a well in southern Egypt. An 18-year-old farmer was the first to descend into the 60-foot well. He drowned, apparently after an undercurrent in the water pulled him down, police said. His sister and two brothers, none of whom could swim well, went in one by one to help him, but also drowned. Two elderly farmers then came to help, but they apparently were pulled by the same undercurrent.The bodies of the six were later pulled out of the well in the village of Nazlat Imara, 240 miles south of Cairo.The chicken was also pulled out. It survived.

And now for today's questions:

  1. Spot the missing participles. (God, thank you for American grammar.) See also question 2.
  2. Who's Monday, and why isn't he/she/it mentioned in the rest of the article?
  3. How does a chicken fall into a well? Maybe I'm just being simple here, but if the well has a parapet, it must be hard for a semi-flightless bird to get in.<\li>
  4. Why would anyone go down into a well to rescue it? Okay, if it died in there it might pollute the water supply, but don't they have buckets in Egypt? If not, how do you get the water out? If you have a pump, why use a well? In any case, from my experiences of Egypt, I doubt many people, least of all farmers, care that much about polluting things.
  5. How do you get undercurrents in a well? Okay, there was probably some kind of underground river here, but
  6. If your brother has drowned, it's probably not the best idea to jump into a potentially dangerous well when you can't swim.
  7. Similarly, if four of your able-bodied colleagues have just been sucked under, these two 'elderly farmers' seem to be debunking the myth that 'with age comes wisdom'

    Gosh, I just love sitting back and being cynically detatched. It's terribly reassuring.
    Thanks to www.darwinawards.com and http://www.humorcafe.com/humor/gems/darwin1996.htm for the above tidbit.

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