Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Dude: Hello Ma'am. Is this Ms. [XXXX]?
Laura: Yes. [sighing in polite irritation.]
Dude: Ma'am, I'm XXXX with the Cook County Police, and we're looking for your donation to support our officers. It would help provide bullet-proof vests and other needed supplies. Can we count on your pledge of support?
Laura: I'm sorry. With the election, I'm tapped out on my charitable donations this year.
Dude: Even just fifteen dollars would help, ma'am.
Laura: I'm sorry.
Dude: That's okay. Who are you supporting in this election?
Dude: Great! Your money's going to a good cause.
[Hometown favored-son moment of pride punctuated by metaphorical, over-the-phone terrorist fist bump.]
I have just freed myself of having to do heroic commuting contortions on election day! Contrary to rumors, the line wasn't bad at all (for the suburban voters; the city voters were another story; I guess it was sort of like reverse commuting to hit Chicago's polling place rather than Bungalowville city hall).
And the touch screen voting was ridiculously easy. I know, I can hear you all groaning about the reliability of these things, but demonstrating the fine wisdom of the state of Illinois, there was actually a paper receipt that you could verify to make sure your vote got recorded correctly. Still, my friend A is convinced that the cylinders of paper will disappear to parts unknown after the Republicans steal the election.
I guess my comfort in missing the Obama rally is that I won't have to worry about getting to my polling place by 7 [imagine me melodramatically, in woe-is-me fashion, putting my hand to my forehead]. Heh.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
*** THIS IS NOT A TICKET. ***
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The Democratic Party
And the other thing I thought I had finished needs an ending. Plus, we apparently "discussed" which long form piece I was going to do (the one he remarked worked well, conceptually, but on which he didn't comment further). Of course, I spent the weekend working on another that isn't working so well conceptually. I knew I should have gotten clarification. Sigh.
There will be class conferences next week, so, presumably, I can grill on exactly what it all means.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Intergenerational, interracial terrorist fist jabs and the Wall Street Journal!
I have also unearthed another one of those strange species of "Undecided"/"Pox on Both Those Parties" voters (this person's particular subspecies, "Faux Ponderous Libertarian"). I think David Sedaris puts this thinking in its proper framework:
I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?
To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”
To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.
I mean, really, what’s to be confused about?
Saturday, October 25, 2008
You can never have too many pairs of black shoes (or, in this case, "gunmetal").
In a related vein, my friend M believes that we both need to sign up for a shoe study that she found out about. Seriously, people in graduate school do sociological studies on stuff like this. It's brilliant.
Check out this question asked of Republicans, looking ahead to the 2012 election:If John McCain is not elected president, which one of the following three possible candidates would you be most likely to support for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012?
Mitt Romney 35%
Mike Huckabee 26%
Sarah Palin 20%
Friday, October 24, 2008
The McCain campaign's highest paid staffer? Palin's makeup artist. I think this says everything you need to know about what they propose to offer our great nation.
It's rainy. My ipod feels I need an adrenaline injection and helpfully provides.
1. tropical bells, olivia tremor control
2. chicken wire, pernice brothers
3. teeth in the grass, iron & wine
4. chump change, new pornographers
5. wilderness, sleater-kinney
6. rise above, black flag
7. wonderland, xtc
8. the promise, the cure
9. warsaw, joy division
10. like eating glass, bloc party
And I was just thinking this morning how I was in a Bloc Party kind of mood.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
On the one hand, it would be so historic and exciting to be part of what will likely be an enormous crowd that will gather for this. On the other hand, as a friend remarked, how much would it suck to not get the bad news should he lose, and to be in the back of the crowd, cheering and oblivious?
It's a class night, so I'll be downtown. So I'm wondering if we'll get let out early to join the throngs. It's not like we'll be getting home in a timely manner via car, right?
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Also, I wish someone would explain to me the hand wringing about Obama being off the campaign trail for a couple of days (!!!!) seeing his ill grandmother. A friend of mine just expressed concern about the prospect, and I have to say I'm befuddled. Obama hasn't actually been campaigning every day (and McCain's been spending all of his weekends at home; but you see where it gets him in the polls). In addition to which: there are planes! I think we'll muster through while he says his final goodbyes to the woman who raised him.
And related to me and completely off topic, I spent last night furiously writing on something that I thought was just goddamned brillliant--authentic, emotional, raw, innovative. I'm a genius! So enraptured was I that I typed it up for class and turned it in tonight and fantasized about my classmates' rapt attention when it was read in class.
Of course, in the cold light of day and without the even minimal wine involved, I'm now convinced it's actually obvious, gimmicky, and not at all clever. I hate that. It may be best to have simple expectations: wanting to tell an engaging yarn rather than reaching for ART. You need, not the sledgehammer I seem to inadvertently be grabbing for every occasion but the velvet glove, you know? It's a process best begun when one is a teenager, this writing of the pretentious stuff.
Window dressing requirements have led this person to pretend to create a bunch of useful forms in a central location, notwithstanding the existence of most forms in said location for many years. I myself have done many, if not most, because I refuse to write when I can type. Ergo Acrobat has long been my friend.
First, we discussed me teaching the creation of these things called "fill-in pdfs," because all the kids are doing it (again, as before, for years). Having better and more important things to do, I declined to provide the much-belated tutorial on handy office-support functions, and somehow some other poor soul got enlisted for this thankless task.
Anyhow, the technophobe office support denizen and I just had a protracted conversation revolving around the naming of my long-existent form and her attempts to "rename" (the illuminating clarity of "new office form" over "office form new" I presume you'll find self evident) when all she was doing was copying. Thus following this exchange were officious office-wide announcements, as though she were creating all of these things and providing valuable work flow.
In my grownup world, I think: how sad is it when your demonstrations of accomplishment involve taking credit for other people's whisked-off admin tasks, done 3 years ago?
Monday, October 20, 2008
1. Claire, doing her thing, being heroic! Good for her.
2. Gruesomeness of the patriarch ripping out his feeding tube and his tracheotomy, then instantly healing. I appreciate it, how sick is that?
3. Sylar, trying to be good!
4. Peter, having that whole parental dilemma.
5. Some of us called it on Hiro's wilyness.
Alas, it is a complex, multistage, screened process, so while I am "communicating" with 6-8 potential suitors at any given time, I actually haven't spoken to anyone directly yet. The odds get handicapped as new information gets revealed about each potential candidate. I am not, as will be no surprise, expecting a great meeting of likes with the motorcycle enthusiast in Montana.
Honestly, if and when there is something to report of consequence, I will no doubt be sharing stories. I just can't promise that there will be anything consequential, given the variables (see above re: Montana). The net is wide, I rule out no one except the obvious hostiles and loons, but as it stands, only 2 of these guys actually live in Chicago. So, barring some fabulous long-distance connection or a good hit off with one of the local guys (potential for one, the other I don't see so much), the optimistic culmination of this process may just be a single face-to-face date. It's possible too that I would have a less oddball sample if I had opened it up to the dudes with kids under 18. I may do that.
So, we'll see. The gears of compatibility screening move slowly. Also, interesting tidbit: the number-one "Can't Stand" among this admittedly unrepresentative sample is "excessive overweight."
Sunday, October 19, 2008
It's an oversimplification to say that the Republican party exists for the sole purpose of redistributing as much of the nation's wealth as possible into the hands of the richest one-tenth of one percent of the population, and that everything else -- the cultural wars over abortion and gay rights and the death penalty and drugs and crime and the terrorists -- is just a dry-ice machine at a rock concert, obscuring the descent of a severely undersized Stonehenge monolith onto the stage of American political life.
In other news, this weekend I write on my latest, completely original (!), story. My friend M continues to be a fount of inspiration into the sadder side of Smalltown, U.S.A.
Friday, October 17, 2008
1. flags, sons & daughters
2. never learn to cry, rogers sisters
3. let me ride, bloodstone
4. sunday, bloc party
5. sunndal song, apples in stereo
6. no fun, sex pistols
7. she's a sensation, the ramones
8. mr. clean, the jam
9. sovay, andrew bird
10. we must have been out of our minds, george jones with melba montgomery
bonus 11: my superman, santogold
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The Ayers smackdown and ACORN!!!!!! McCain can't wait to sputter that out, answering the challenge. Just look at Obama laughing.
This man is so pathetic.
Reagan Dems and Independents. Call them blue-collar plus. Slightly more Target than Walmart.
Yes, the spot worked. Yes, they believed the charges against Obama. Yes, they actually think he's too liberal, consorts with bad people and WON'T BE A GOOD PRESIDENT...but they STILL don't give a f***. They said right out, "He won't do anything better than McCain" but they're STILL voting for Obama.
The two most unreal moments of my professional life of watching focus groups:
54 year-old white male, voted Kerry '04, Bush '00, Dole '96, hunter, NASCAR fan...hard for Obama said: "I'm gonna hate him the minute I vote for him. He's gonna be a bad president. But I won't ever vote for another god-damn Republican. I want the government to take over all of Wall Street and bankers and the car companies and Wal-Mart run this county like we used to when Reagan was President."
The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. "Well, I don't know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I'm sick of paying for health insurance at work and that's why I'm supporting Barack."
I felt like I was taking crazy pills. I sat on the other side of the glass and realized...this really is the Apocalypse. The Seventh Seal is broken and its time for eight years of pure, delicious crazy....
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
A new father has secretly named his baby girl Sarah McCain Palin after the Republican ticket for president and vice president.
Mark Ciptak of Elizabethton put that name on the documents for the girl's birth certificate, ignoring the name Ava Grace, which he and his wife had picked earlier.
"I don't think she believes me yet," he told the Kingsport Times-News for a story to be published Tuesday. "It's going to take some more convincing."
Monday, October 13, 2008
I'm open to suggestions.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Today, for instance, our topic was the lynch mob that the average McCain/Palin rally has turned into (although it seems like there may be a bit of at least perfunctory dialing back, ads notwithstanding). Specifically, what in the world are they trying accomplish with this "he's a traitor, a terrorist, a Muslim, a foreign interloper" tack? Who in the world, except for the ignorant, the angry, the racist--the already converted, in other words--is buying this? And how in the world are you going to move the polls by alienating everyone else? Good questions, indeed.
My view goes back to a conversation I had a couple of months ago. My friend A tends to be pessimistic about everything this campaign, mostly because he's still feeling shell-shocked that the rest of the bozos in our country would vote for Bush twice. I remember talking to him when Palin was picked, and he was concerned that people would really warm to her in personal terms. I thought it was a catastrophic error on McCain's part, because he just lost his moderate facade.
The Republican Party's Faustian deal with the Religious Right is that they fall behind their candidate and work fiercely to turn out the base. At the same time, they also keep a low profile to allow the candidate to make gestures of moderation to woo the moderates and independents. Hence, crucial to this set up is that they trust that the candidate is sympathetic to their agenda and/or they receive assurances in the form of coded language and dog whistles; remember the baffling (to the rest of us) G. W. Bush Dred Scott reference? It's a delicate balance requiring trust, the proper language, and a bit of plausible deniability.
Enter John McCain. He isn't a true believer like Dubya. And he has had the bad taste to, for example, blame the Religious Right for the 2000 smear campaign against him in South Carolina. Remember the Huckabee surge in the primary? In short, there was no way that McCain was going to be able to consolidate their support with subtle gestures, so he was forced to make some major concessions to get them onboard. Thus, Sarah Palin. The base was mollified, and more so, ecstatic; however, the moderate mask that would allow McCain to get to the crucial 50+1 was dropped. He didn't have much choice, and there was always the hope that people would be so dazzled by Palin's personality and "authenticity" that they would assume that she couldn't possibly be extremist, or just not care that she is, because she seems so gosh darn nice (given precedent, it wasn't an unreasonable hope).
But since Palin's favorables are dropping like a stone, McCain's in a pickle. If he tries to dust off his moderate maverickyness, he alienates the base, which he just sold his soul to placate. If he embraces full wingnut mode to rile up the base, he alienates the moderates. Since the base is the larger, more reliable chunk, with some grassroots and fundraising machinery he desperately needs, his only hope is to cast his lot with them, maximize turnout on his side, tamp down turnout on Obama's side (One of the benefits of a nasty, negative campaign for Republicans is that it drives down turnout; they do best in low-turnout elections because their base votes reliably), suppress the vote, and hope for the best. It won't be enough, but McCain is nothing if not one to gamble with long odds.
The incitement to violence at the rallies then becomes incidental to the mission and has the added feature of planting seeds of Obama's illegitimate presidency. The troops need to be rallied to another impeachment fiasco! God help us, and let's hope some wackos don't try violence against Obama or minority voters at the polls.
And, further, the point about the feasibility of accomplishing fraudulent voting this way:
ACORN registers lots of lower income and/or minority voters. They operate all across the country and do a lot of things beside voter registration. What's key to understand is their method. By and large they do not rely on volunteers. They hire people -- often people with low incomes or even the unemployed. This has the dual effect of not only registering people but also providing some work and income for people who are out of work. But because a lot of these people are doing it for the money, inevitably, a few of them cut corners or even cheat. So, inevitably someone will end up filling out cards for nonexistent names and some of those slip through ACORN's own efforts to catch errors. It's important to note that in many of the recent ACORN cases that have gotten the most attention it's ACORN itself that has turned the people in who did the fake registrations. These reports start buzzing through the right-wing media every two years and every time the anecdotal reports of 'thousands' of fraudulent registrations turns out, on closer inspection, to be either totally bogus themselves or wildly exaggerated. So thousands of phoney registrations ends up being, like, twelve.
I've always had questions about whether this is a good way to do voter registration. And Democratic campaigns usually keep their distance. But here's the key. This is fraud against ACORN. They end up paying people for more registering people then they eventually signed up. If you register me three times to vote, the registrar will see two new registrations of an already registered person and the ones won't count. If I successfully register Mickey Mouse to vote, on election day, Mickey Mouse will still be a cartoon character who cannot go to the local voting station and vote. Logically speaking there's very little way a few phony names on the voting rolls could be used to commit vote fraud. And much more importantly, numerous studies and investigations have shown no evidence of anything more than a handful of isolated casing of actual instances of vote fraud.So assuming the workers who are forging the voter registrations are self-sabotaging Democratic partisans (or Republican plants, for that matter) misinterprets things. The important thing here is the very coordinated reaction to and framing of ACORN's defrauding:
What you're hearing right now from Fox News, the New York Post, John Fund and the rest of the right-wing bamboozlement chorus is a just another effort to exploit, confuse and lie in an effort to put more severe restrictions on legitimate voting and lay the groundwork to steal elections.
It's that simple.
The soundtrack to my pre-weekend:
1. we travel the spaceways, sun ra
2. take your carriage clock and shove it, belle & sebastian
3. rudie can't fail, the clash
4. who's gonna save my soul, gnarls barkley [this one goes out to John McCain, my friends]
5. she heightened everything, pernice brothers
6. spring succeeds, olivia tremor control
7. typical girls, the slits
8. pretty words, elvis costello and the attractions
9. profiles, the mystery meat
10. starshine, gorillaz
bonus, just because I feel like it: i really got the feeling, dolly parton
Thursday, October 9, 2008
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - On the eve of a report on a legislative panel's abuse-of-power investigation into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, campaign officials released their own report clearing her of any wrongdoing.
In other breaking news, I've looked into the matter and declared myself innocent of all office-supply borrowing charges.
I was so pissed that I immediately set to scrubbing it off, in my skirt and high heels. Two dudes came up, though, while I was doing this to tell me that (1) they were next-door neighbors who lived across the alley, (2) that the graffiti had happened a few days ago (no, I don't usually drive, why do you ask?), (3) they had already called the city's vandalism number to take care of it, and (4) dude 1 was a former cop and our block captain. Yay! In addition to which, my kindly newly found neighborhood block caption, after relating how the city's one dude with a power washer was a bit slow, offered to power wash my garage with his own washer tomorrow. Yay, again!
They seemed pretty sure, for some reason, that it was just a single obnoxious kid making a pest of himself. Maybe the dog-walking gives one special insight into the alley goings-on. Whatever. I'm seriously fantasizing about moving to an island somewhere with an agrarian economy.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
In lieu of piercing political analysis, I offer up some of the output from my writing class last night:
Doesn't it seem like a creepy parody of a ghost story to you?
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Plus, I find it depressing that my eharmony contact requests thus far are of the old-dude types (to whom I'm a comparative whippersnapper! So call that a silver lining). I mostly don't care at all about getting older. We all get there if we're lucky, and so far I love the wisdom and general refusal to put up with nonsense that comes with it--plus I plan on going all European, sexy sophisticated, aesthetically speaking. Catherine Deneuve, rather than Cindy McCain, if you catch my drift. But dealing with the dating pool in an abstract manner like this (as opposed to meeting people in other contexts one-on-one and getting to know them as individuals) really brings out the trends. I.e., the dudes my age want the younger women, the older guys feel it's perfectly appropriate for them to be similarly hunting for women who are not their contemporaries. I have a friend who's about ten years older than I am, gorgeous, blonde, and we went to a fast dater singles thing a couple of years ago--I think one guy out of the 20 we met chose her, and a good chunk of them were her age or older.
This is not to say that age gaps don't work (absolutely, they do!), but, again, I'm speaking about general attitudes rather than about individual. When you're dealing with the aggregate, it tends to reinforce one's perceptions of women having a sell-by date, even if you're not someone who buys into that.
Yes, it's irrational to care one way or the other, particularly if you really are dealing with anyone who feels that women are unattractive/not good for birthin' past a certain age. Jerks! Who cares what they think! But, you know. Everyone single person must adore me, even the assholes I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.
YIKES, LET ME AMEND: I didn't do more than skim past the first couple. His name is ARA-bic! He's not really Christian! Dear god.
Monday, October 6, 2008
So we have McCain today getting his crowd riled up asking who Barack Obama is and then apparently giving a wink and a nod when one member of the crowd screams out "terrorist."
And later we have Sarah Palin with the same mob racket, getting members of the crowd to yell out "kill him", though it's not clear whether the call for murder was for Bill Ayers or Barack Obama. It didn't seem to matter.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Today, at last, I changed the light bulb, allowing me to see my computer desk and Byzantine cord set up, allowing me to pull things apart and figure out what the hell was wrong with my internet, allowing me to finally load my new music.
So, all of this is to say that I really really like the new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Further, I love Cave's embrace of the cheesey mustache and long hair, which makes him look like Burt Reynolds circa 1975 or like a seventies porn star. That is some excellent retaining of the cool while aging.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
So we are now facing:
- a silent run on the huge mass of uninsured deposits of the banking system and even a run on some insured deposits are small depositors are scared;
- a run on most of the shadow banking system: over 300 non bank mortgage lenders are now bust; the SIVs and conduits are now all bust; the five major brokers dealers are now bust (Bear and Lehman) or still under severe stress even after they have been converted into banks (Merrill, Morgan, Goldman); a run on money market funds restrained only by a blanket government guarantee; a serious run on hedge funds; a looming refinancing crisis for private equity firms and LBOs);
- a run on the short term liabilities of the corporate sector as the commercial paper market has totally frozen (and experiencing a roll-off) while access to medium terms and long term financings for corporations is frozen at a time when hundreds of billions of dollars of maturing debts need to be rolled over;
- a total seizure of the interbank and money markets.
This is indeed a cardiac arrest for the shadow and non-shadow banking system and for the system of financing of the corporate sector. The shutdown of financing for the corporate system is particularly scary: solvent but illiquid corporations that cannot roll over their maturing debt may now face massive defaults due to this illiquidity. And if the financing of the corporate sectors shuts down and remains shut down the risk of an economic collapse similar to the Great Depression becomes highly likely.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Also, in a completely unrelated announcement, I have a new favorite happy hour bar, which features some retro seventies style and awesome tapas. And why hasn't anyone told me how delicious guava can be? I am now determined to try to make this Cuban pastry (as a result of being a regular at a recently opened Cuban sandwich, deli, and pastry shop, I scored some free sweets from the owner).
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Hmmm. Palin appears to be under the impression that she's running for governor of Alaska and that she's stumping to bring some more oil drillin' back to the peops.
Have we learned nothing from Gore?! Yo, Biden: stop with the sighing.
Oh my god. She just winked. Tina Fey, ladies and gentlemen, let's give her a big round of applause! She had us all going there for a bit, didn't she?
My friend who's been Rip-Van-Winkling through the campaign since the conventions and thus missed the unfolding Palin media debacle just called to report that Palin is an idiot. I'm sending her youtube clips.
And a friend just passed this along, saying it made his day (when you're obsessed with the campaign news, it helps to have fellow junkies to commiserate with, although I can do without the harranguing over my aversion to watching youtube clips of Sarah Palin). I think we have those tireless Michigan Obama campaign volunteers to thank. Now let's all bus to Indiana!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
So my friend who was recently railing about the fat cats on Wall Street in this bailout approvingly sent me the latest Michael Moore missive on same, sedately titled "It's a Right-Wing Coup!":
No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is.
The smoking gun here being that lobbyists for Wall Street were trying to maximize their benefits in the bailout. Which is absolutely craven and disgraceful, I agree. But is it surprising? Interests have long been able to influence legislation, which is how we got in this mess to begin with. Of course they're going to send in their minions to increase their advantage when it all tanks! This is why we set up systems with oversight and the correct incentives and don't rely on people to be good for its own sake. It's just human nature.
But I guess it's predictable that once we pit Them against Us, we're going to be suspicious that They can operate under any semblance of good faith. We've been duped before, haven't we? We got duped into war, so why wouldn't they be similarly lying about this too? The Bush administration thus reaps the rewards of years of ineptitude, political opportunism, and kleptocracy; they've manipulated us for so long, there's no way we're going to take them at face value for anything anymore.
At the same time, we've bought into the frames that have defined our polarized times: it all boils down to opinion, there's no objective reality, no common set of facts. There's merely what They say and what We say. The ones who profess to know, the "elites," are just pushing an ideological agenda and are not to be trusted.
The bad part of all of this is that while we settle down into our entrenched battle positions and attempt to stick it back to the people who have stuck it to us, we're not really looking at our own long-term best interests. Just because the Bush administration has wrecked its own credibility doesn't mean that it is necessarily lying about this financial crisis. In fact, there's a pretty broad consensus about how this came about. The sticking point seems to be the best course of action to minimize the impacts to the overall economy. Since no one is omniscient, people of good will can argue about what the government should or shouldn't do next. But as I am not wedded to the purity of the markets nor energized by a good cleansing economic meltdown and hopeful resultant New Deal-style liberal initiatives, I favor the prudent course of doing something if it seems like it could prevent worse impacts. It just seems so much more sensible than doing nothing, out of spite.