Tuesday, August 27, 2002

There's an insightful Slate piece about Richard Perle. "'Trust me,' Perle said when The Nation's David Corn asked for evidence that Saddam poses an immediate threat to the United States." Trust him? The Prince of Darkness? We are in for some serious fuckage.

Maybe we should do something.

Monday, August 26, 2002

I have a deadline this week. Sometimes deadlines make me depressed. In this case, I am leading a training on Thursday. Most of the actual thought has already been done, so now it's a matter of details (handouts, computer setup, choosing the best sample exercises, reserving the room, etc). I have a problem with perfectionist feelings, so that when things inevitably fall short of my ideal, the sense that I am growing old and useless is overwhelming. It fosters an urge to procrastinate, too, which might explain why I'm typing in a Blogger window rather than working on the training.

I Am Trying To Kiss A Wilco Guy (scroll down; thanks to Elise for the link) describes my demographic a little too well. "Now, Wilco guys are different. Don't get carried away: don't think Cary Grant, or Chris Noth. Think bookishly handsome, well-educated semi-wimps. Wilco guys tend to be sensitive, literate, bespectacled, somewhat wan Don DeLillo readers with a bit of a grainy edge. They're a little bit angsty, a little bit rock 'n' roll, and slightly femme -- but not andro. They subscribe to Spin, wear sandals -- sport sandals -- and still enjoy wearing gas-pump shirts with someone else's name. They like Harper's and Bottle Rocket and dingy noodle shops and wear jewelry-the twine kind. They don't get fat, they stay on good terms with their ex-girlfriends, and they probably went through a big Thelonious Monk period in college. They mumble but don't do hard drugs. They are creative but stymied (think freelance Web designer, or Esquire fact-checker), but just like Wilco, they will not sell out-oh, no. They can quote Robert Christgau, don't make a lot of eye contact, and a lot of them are broke."

Especially the "creative but stymied" part. But I don't subscribe to Spin.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

OK: Iraq. A non-starter? Is it just a hoax?

Maybe it's this: Just something to get people thinking that the administration is �doing something� about terrorism.

Terrorism is hard to fight (ask Great Britain, India and Israel), and that's the raison d�etre (sp?) of terrorism, that it�s impossible to wage war on an enemy whose guerrilla capabilities are matched by its willingness to kill civilians in urban population centers. Which means conventional war is hopeless in the face of that kind of terror, unless you are willing to go all the way, as the Israelis are doing now. They just do what they like, fuck consequences. (And, in a cynical way, who�s to say Israel is mistaken in its strategy? Will the US, or anyone else, do *anything* to stop Israel, discourage them, even (gasp) impose sanctions on them for human rights violations? The President seems much more concerned over the baseball strike than the blood being spilled in Gaza) But the "do what we want, fuck consequences" approach would be a death-blow to already-tenuous Bush approval ratings, people would start seeing innocent people being killed, the media would be all over his ass. So what�s a guy to do?

How about: renew the last popular war we had, and get advice from the guy who ran the show� your dad! But that seems overly simplistic too. Am I reading this backwards? It�s totally confusing to me what the Bush administration is trying to do. I think it may be a case of Bush delegating these decisions to people lower on the totem pole. Policy wonks like Condie Rice tell him "Iraq is the hub of all this," and he said, ok. But now that the whole thing is spilling out, he�s trying do do his �I�m resolute� act without painting himself into a corner. Which may prove to be the hardest trick.

But if the �Iraq question� drizzles away, the Dems can�t really make hay of it in 2004, can they? What can they say? �You didn�t go to war, but you talked about it!� Not a great position.

Ok, I'm done now. But I'm still not getting it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Everyone's doing it. The "movement" (can you really call a pop culture event a movement?) has come and gone. I recall reading on someone's weblog that blogs had peaked... and that was January! Yes, it's all over now, baby blue.

But so what? I guess the whole thing goes the way of fads. In the 70's somebody published The Nothing Book, a hardback book with a slip-on cover, whose pages were blank. This was years before bookstores had racks of journals and blank books. It was a cool, light gift, very "yeah, get creative, man." But what the gift-recipient actually did with them is anyone's guess; I would imagine that most of the first Nothing Books were used until the experiment lost its edge, and the last 150 blank pages... remained blank. Don't get me wrong, blogs are different: the listmaker's fondness for collation is joined with the smartass' penchant for one-liners, and everyone gets his chance to crack wise, even if the audience is 12-deep. And they aren't all journals.

But there is an element of devotion to doing it, and despite the advance of web technology, devotion is still... hard.

Friday, August 16, 2002

I was reading Kate's dad's copy of has The Bush Dyslexicon. On the surface, it sounded like one of those "wacky quotes" books, but the author, Mark Crispin Miller, makes a chilling case. "Bush," Miller said in an interview, "shows... a certain genius for evasion of a particular kind -- i.e., representing his most noxious stands as strokes of tolerance and kindness. That move is more insidious than mere evasiveness, and also requires a greater craftiness." He points out that beyond how often Bush lies, that Bush seems to understand something that lefties don't: that a teaspoon of pretense toward honesty and "plain talkin" is worth an oil tanker of perceived intelligence. Americans like him because Americans see themselves as "life-smart" but hate & shudder at the "brainy." Bush = Nixon.

I listened to and read Lessig's presentation free culture, and he's right, really right. I don't have enough $ to give my $65 this month... but next month, the EFF gets my membership.

Recent movies:

:: Marathon Man, with Dustin Hoffman. I liked it. A little predictable, but the message, that to resist money and cynicsm is itself a gruelling "marathon," moved me. At the end, I found myself hoping that Dustin Hoffman would steal some of the diamonds himself, not my finest impulse, I admit. I heard Elvis Mitchell the other day, comparing Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition) to John Schlesinger, calling each a "Mercedes marxist" for what Mitchell sees as a patronizing attitude towards Americans. I wonder if that's true. Marathon's class instinct is made clear when Laurence Olivier walks through the diamond district, eyeing precious stones, hoping to unload his stolen shit on some of the survivors he robbed. That section was pretty compelling.

Haven't written in a million years. What have I been doing?

:: Working on my C++ homework. I need to be done by the end of November and I'm only half way done. So I'm behind
:: Spending time with the kid
:: Working a lot. Doing more scripting, and writing, writing, writing
:: Renting a million movies. I should write about them because, oh, I don't know, why does one write anything?
:: Watching in horror as Ann Coulter becomes the most celebrated author of our era. Well, not everyone likes her.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

"We're actively looking for a bigger size." We like it big.

I [heart] Paul Krugman.

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