Sister Novena's PortaPulpit
freedom, liberalism, movies, and truth

Saturday, October 23, 2004
Not Your Bitch

We are approaching the end of the second day of the festival; eight more to go (including the hardest ones.) The only thing that's frustrating me is that the usual cast of characters -- with the exception of those with whom I work all day -- seem to be under the impression that I'm still the all-purpose festival bitch. Look, people, I've got TWO jobs here this year, damn it, and I've got plenty to keep me occupied. I come in at 9 AM before the first film begins, I leave at 11 at night after the last film starts running, and between those hours I've got a steaming shitload of things to accomplish. I don't have time to make up 50 different versions of the workshop schedule based on each individual's specific preferences, I don't have time to hand-hold you through day's film listings, and I certainly don't have time to be your fucking gopher. Unless I really, really like you -- and don't assume I do.

At one point today I was juggling requests from five different sources -- three of them valid and two not. The thing that I most want to impress upon people is that if five different requests are made simultaneously -- so simultaneously that the requestors are actually interrupting each other to make them -- I am not going to be able to fulfill ANY of the aforementioned requests. I am a capable young woman, but for fuck's sake, back off.

The festival director gets to tell me what to do. The volunteer co-ordinator, to a certain extent, gets to tell me what to do. The people leading the workshops I'm co-ordinating myself get to tell me what to do. Nobody else. Okay? Okay.

Thanks for letting me vent.
7:41 PM ::
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One Worthy Choice

What with the election coming upon us so quickly now, it seems like an opportune time to make an argument that I've been sitting on so far. It's one that I'm usually pretty hesitant to make -- first, I actually have a great deal of respect for the opinions of those to whom I'm arguing, and second, I doubt it'll actually do much to change many minds. But any good argument is worth making, so here it is.

I must admit that I have a serious problem with the don't vote/vote third party crowd. It's not that I disagree with your expressed aims; I think they are admirable and desireable. I agree with you that voting for the lesser of two evils is a sorry situation in which to be placed. I hate the fact that so many people are placed in a position where voting their conscience means "throwing away" their vote. It's also not that I disagree with the points you make; your arguments are, by and large, principled and articulate, and entirely valid. I have heard and understood the many arguments in favor of anarchism / greenism / libertarianism / general third-party-ism / conscientious non-voterism. I respect your opinions; I wish you success. But this is just not the time for liberal infighting -- this year these arguments are inappropriate and destructive.

My primary issue with all of the above is that it's all theoretical, all academic. It's all well and good to sit around having spirited political debates with your friends after dinner; I love blogs and bloggers and hope there are more of us in the future. But none of these things actually, really make much difference in the real world. And this year's election is too serious in terms of real-world consequences for real people to waste our efforts.

Right now poor schools serving the neediest students have had their budgets for supplemental programs -- the programs that can help make the difference between a successful life and a failed life for those who are targeted by them -- slashed to the point of program failure. These budget cuts can literally contribute to downward pressure on the lives of the people we most want to help. Right now we face a choice between an administration that will be actively hostile to gay rights and a woman's right to choose, and an administration that, as imperfect as it is, will at least not attack the above. It's not a good choice, but it remains one that could ultimately make a real difference in real people's lives. We have a choice between an administration that will continue to make destructive choices regarding our military activites and our "diplomatic" tactics -- choices that are literally a matter of life and death for thousands of people both here and abroad -- and an administration that would very likely make better choices. Perfect? Probably not. But when people's lives are at stake, the perfect is truly the enemy of the good.

Is it worth a human life to make an academic point? If you really think it is... are you sure you're actually working to make our country a better place? The more-radical-than-thou crowd always says to us, "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." I say, indeed.

The point is, your academic theories do nothing to help real people who face real consquences. I would truly love for a third party to eventually become a genuine alternative for Americans; I think it's going to prove a very hard row to hoe, but it's a laudable goal and I have immense admiration for those people who are pursuing it meaningfully and in a genuine spirit of social betterment. But there are very, very few of those people, even among the movement's supporters. To those who support the Greens, for example: what have you done to make the Green Party a viable one? Blogging and talking with your friends doesn't count... what have you actually done? What have you done to make the Green Party a real option not only for the bearded organic-veg crowd, but for Midwestern factory workers, too? For rural southern African-Americans? For Christians? For Muslims? For -- gasp! -- fiscal conservatives? Without these people seeing you as a real alternative, you will NEVER have a chance at making your much-sought-after "difference"; without applying your theories to the real world, you don't deserve one. You have a lot of work ahead of you; I don't envy you the task. That's why I prefer to try to work in the imperfect-but-viable Democratic party; it's not the only right choice, of course, but it is a valid one.

If you don't think Kerry is a good enough candidate, that's fine... by all means, keep working for the Greens and the anarchists. But if the real situation in the real world matters to you at all, the only choice I can respect is to do whatever it is in your power to do to remove George W. Bush from office. As I see it, that means voting for Kerry, even with reservations. Political perfection will only engender its opposite; we can't afford to take an all-or-nothing position this year.

And if you say you hope Bush wins... you're a Bush supporter. Deal with it. Embrace your Republicanism.

PS: In the best blogger fashion, Denny has entered into the discussion. I happen to think he's wrong on this one, but offer his blog as an alternate voice.
10:19 AM ::
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Friday, October 22, 2004
Bush Supporters Are Uninformed

- 75% believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

- 74% believe Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in agreements on trade.

- 72% believe Iraq had WMD or a program to develop them.

- 72% believe Bush supports the treaty banning landmines.

- 69% believe Bush supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

- 61% believe if Bush knew there were no WMD he would not have gone to war.

- 60% believe most experts believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

- 58% believe the Duelfer report concluded that Iraq had either WMD or a major program to develop them.

- 57% believe that the majority of people in the world would prefer to see Bush reelected.

- 56% believe most experts think Iraq had WMD.

- 55% believe the 9/11 report concluded Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

- 51% believe Bush supports the Kyoto treaty.

- 20% believe Iraq was directly involved in 9/11.

(source)

Hint for Bush supporters: all of the above statements are false.

PS: Sorry about all the quicky posts lately; it's all I have time for. This is likely to remain the case through the rest of the month.
2:37 PM ::
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Thursday, October 21, 2004
Today's My Day For Short Posts

The perfect Christmas gift for the anti-TV crowd:
A keychain device that enables people to turn off TVs just about anywhere is flying off the shelves, its inventor says.

(...)

The device, an on-off switch, works on about 1,000 TV models, offering users relief from unwanted pictures and noise in airports, restaurants and bars.

It's like a universal remote control programmed to run through about 200 infrared codes that turn TVs on or off.

Aim the device, push the button and most TVs will go off.

(source)
5:02 PM ::
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Makes Sense Now That You Put It Like That

Did you know that William Gibson has a blog?

It's true!

If I were to put together a truly essential thank-you list for the people who most made it possible for me to write my first six novels, I'd certainly owe as much to Ronald Reagan as to Bill Gates or Lou Reed. Reagan's presidency put the grit in my dystopia. His presidency was the fresh kitty litter I spread for utterly crucial traction on the icey driveway of uncharted futurity. His smile was the nightmare in my back pocket.

4:54 PM ::
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Moving Rapidly

That Bill O'Reilly's a funny, funny guy. Why does everyone take his little jokes so damn personally?
3:55 PM ::
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Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Mom And Dom

Just wanted to wish my wonderful mother a happy birthday. I love you, mom! I won't tell you how old she is, but I can tell you this: the number of her age is two higher than the last two digits of the year in which she was born.

Also, happy birthday to new daddy Dominic, my one-time set-building instructor and always-friend. Maybe Aya will take the baby out for the day so you can get a few extra hours of sleep.
11:30 AM ::
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Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Shoot Me Now

I think I've written roughly a hundred thousand emails today.

Yes, I'm prone to hyperbolizing. But I have written a crazy-big bunch of emails, easily a hundred. Since I had a computer all to myself today, it became my day to handle print traffic -- you'd be amazed at how slow filmmakers are to send their screening prints in without being prodded, even to a festival of our stature. (And yes, for documentarians this is a very high-stature festival.) Alas, it all comes at the expense of workshop matters, so I'm now half-behind on that... I'll be pulling 12- and 14-hour days, 7 days a week until the festival ends.

I've become rather adept at catching bugs in mason jars. On Sunday I had a centipede in my bedroom; after forcing him to entertain me in his jar for the afternoon, I let him out into the flower beds. Then today I awoke to find a wolf spider in my shower; he went out to the flower beds, too. I'm glad I'm not the kind of girl to go into hysterics at the sight of a large bug... except for wasps. I can co-exist peacefully with a wasp in a house, but I wouldn't dare attempt to catch one the way some people do. When I was a girl one of my friends' mothers had the amazing ability to casually catch them with her hand and a tissue... I'd love to be able to do that, but I'm just too chicken-shit about getting stung.

And blissfully, the city of Hot Springs has decided to rip up the section of street in front of our office/theater just in time for the festival. It's impossible to cross the street to the parking lot; the workmen give us dirty looks when we try. Apparently we're in their way or something.

4:33 PM ::
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