Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Coda

Well... there's that, then.

I finished my thesis at 3 AM this morning, but still hadn't found a title for it. By the time I finished reformatting my footnotes I was a zombie, and summing up a year's worth of work in ten words or less was beyond my intellectual capability. So that went on a short list of things to do in the morning. I went home and collapsed.

Five hours later I awoke to the scritch scritch scritch of a rodent doing rodenty things inside the wall next to my bed. I wanted to sleep for another couple of hours, but once my mind seizes on the practical details of the day to come, any attempt to go back to sleep is futile. My first thought upon waking was, "I have to turn in my Plan today."

Once I was up and showered and dressed, I went to the campus computer lab to reprint my final draft. I couldn't resist fiddling with a few last formatting details, changing a few words, deleting a comma, replacing it, then deleting it again. This is what you're reduced to after a year of writing. Finding a title was the very last thing I did. In the end, I settled on a last-minute entry, "A Subversive Art: The New Potential of American Film Culture." Pretty wanky, eh? I took the final product into town, had a few copies made, mailed one to my outside examiner, deposited the rest in my professors' boxes on campus, and now I'm back home, my academic obligation fulfilled.

Yep. All done now.

A year's worth of work, ten years worth of experience -- all tied together in 112 pages of text.

My room's a mess, my life's a mess, I'm a mess; but this one thing, at least, is finished and whole.

Yep.

I think I'm going to go take a nap now.

PS: Reflecting further on this sheaf of paper on my desk, I recall a traumatic event from my secondary education. In the eighth grade, I had the misfortune of winding up in Mrs. McBroom's honors English class. Everybody in the school seemed to love Mrs. McBroom, but I could tell from the moment I stepped into her classroom that she was, in truth, a hideous fucking witch. I have to point out here that I was always an excellent English student and often a favorite among my teachers, but Mrs. McBroom obviously had it in for me. The rules of engagement were laid out when she made me get up and read aloud in front of the class the afternoon after I got my new retainer -- I could barely stop drooling, much less speak intelligibly. But she made me stand there, garbling my way through the text, too shy to take the damn thing out and humiliated beyond all reason.

Our big school project that semester was a fifteen-page research paper. Mrs. McBroom had some very specific ideas about how she wanted the paper to be done -- index cards, multiple outlines, that incredibly pedantic subject-supporting sentence-conclusion paragraph structure they teach you in school, the whole bit. Even at thirteen I knew my mind didn't work that way, and I knew fifteen pages would be a breeze, so I did things my own way. She nagged me for weeks, but I insisted that everything was fine... and everything was. I turned in my paper along with everyone else. It was a perfectly good paper, on the Dallas Horticultural Society. So I hadn't used the index cards, so I hadn't used the outlines -- so what? A good paper's a good paper, and there's more than one way to get there. But what did Mrs. McBroom do?

She flunked me.

The bitch flunked me! ME! The best English student in three counties! And she didn't just flunk me for that paper, but for the whole class. Not because the paper wasn't good, but because I didn't use her index cards, didn't use her outlines, and wrote my paragraphs in normal English and not stick-up-my-ass 8th-grade research paper English.

Anyway, now I'm sitting here with my 112 pages of well-researched, well-written thesis -- the production of which, not coincidentally, didn't involve the use of a single index card nor even one formal outline. And a quiet little thought, a humble suggestion for old Mrs. McBroom, bubbles up to the surface:

Suck it, bitch.
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This Bitch Is Done

I'm going to be seeing footnotes in my dreams.

so... tired...
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Monday, November 28, 2005
Sick Fucks, Revisited

So now we've got video proof that "independent contractors" are killing Iraqis for fun.

Iraqis are not animals, they cannot be hunted for sport. Maybe this is what the Iraqi government meant when they said that people had a legitimate right of resistance, eh? A right to resist when they're being gunned down at random in the streets by their supposed "liberators"?

It sickens the soul. But can any of us really say we're surprised? This is just part of war. Now, somebody explain to me again why we're there.
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Saturday, November 26, 2005
Fighting Stupid With Stupid

God help us when Boris Johnson -- the British equivalent of William F. Buckley crossed with Spicoli -- threatens to become the political savior of the American left.

...he is famously disorganised and once explained the lateness of his work by claiming that "Dark forces dragged me away from the keyboard, swirling forces of irresistible intensity and power", as well as getting his own name wrong on [British current events/game show] Have I Got News For You, and successfully getting locked out of his own home in front of reporters (having just told them his family would definitely forgive his affair). Twice his mobile telephone has gone off while he was on the BBC -- once on Have I Got News For You, the other while being interviewed on BBC Radio 2 by Richard Allinson, who was unafraid to scold him for it.


our hero
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Friday, November 25, 2005
Deja Vu



So that's what it takes to get a Presidential Pardon these days. I hope that old chickenhead Scooter Libby's paying attention. (Judging from his expression, I think George is getting close.)

(via Shakespeare's Sister)
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Thursday, November 24, 2005
On Advancing Age and Pumpkin Pie

Happy Birthday to my favorite sweetie-buddy Smithers, who today reaches the amusingly elderly age of 37. As his birthday regularly falls on Thanksgiving, I have become accustomed to celebrating it with pumpkin pie, which is doubly ironic since as a New Zealander, Thanksgiving means nothing to him, and what's more, he hates pumpkin, including in pie form. Nonetheless, today I will be eating mine in honor of him.

I will, of course, continue to adore Smithers forever no matter how decrepit he becomes.

Also, happy birthday to Diana, whose birthday comes a few days from now. She's pretty old too, but don't tell her I said so. (Fortunately, she never reads this blog, so I can probably get away with it.) I will miss her presence in Memphis very much.

Birthday hugs for everybody.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Home Stretch

One more week, and this will all be over. I knocked out another 30 pages over last weekend, which brings my total page count to about 90; I have another 20 pages to write over the next couple of days. Some of it will be additions to the papers, and the rest of is the support material -- introductions, acknowledgements, and all the fiddly bibliographic stuff. Once I've got it all in place -- by Saturday, I expect -- I'll begin the job of plowing through it all, slicing it up, rearranging, cleaning up the text, re-formatting a lot of it, and making sure the words are as nicely-strung-together as possible.

So Thanksgiving for me is going to be a working holiday this year. I mail the whole thing off to my outside examiner next Tuesday. Then I've got about a week to do the final work on my film, sit around bored waiting for one of my professors to come back from the Ukraine, and... well, that's about it, really. If I were a typical student, I'd use the time to obsess over the oral exam, but I'm not -- as long as it gets me out of here, I don't really care what happens. And from what I understand, even if I didn't lift a finger for the next three weeks, I'm already "out of here" academically -- my grade wouldn't be the best, but I'd get my diploma. Knowing that at this point I'm just making things pretty does take a lot of the pressure off. in fact, I'm really just starting to hit my stride, starting to actively enjoy the process -- now that the hardest writing is out of the way, it's all become very pleasant. I could do this for another whole year, except that I'd have to stay here. So fuck that.

On top of the academic stuff, I've also taken on the entire van schedule for the next four days, and we're expecting snow, so that should be "fun." I did manage to score a key to the posh van, though -- it's got all-wheel drive, a CD player, leather upholstery and seat warmers. (Mmmmmm... seat warmers.) I'll be doing the turkey thing in the dining hall with all the other strays... not the best Thanksgiving I've ever had, but also not the worst.

The best thing about Thanksgiving, of course -- apart from the parades, which I won't be able to see this year -- is that after Thanksgiving dinner, it's officially okay to start listening to Christmas music. I looove Christmas music. I know that makes me a dork -- like I wasn't anyway -- but it makes me a happy dork, so anybody who doesn't like it can get stuffed, and to hell with good taste.

I will say this, though: Thanksgiving just isn't the same without a Mystery Science Theater 3000 marathon.


happy tofurkey day


PS: Would you like to say grace, Mr. Burroughs?
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Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Time To Go

Because when it's time to go, it's time to go... and by god, it's time to go.

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a ``legitimate right'' of resistance.

(...)

The participants in Cairo agreed on ``calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces ... control the borders and the security situation'' and end terror attacks.

(...)

In Egypt, the final communique's attempt to define terrorism omitted any reference to attacks against U.S. or Iraqi forces. Delegates from across the political and religious spectrum said the omission was intentional. They spoke anonymously, saying they feared retribution.

``Though resistance is a legitimate right for all people, terrorism does not represent resistance. Therefore, we condemn terrorism and acts of violence, killing and kidnapping targeting Iraqi citizens and humanitarian, civil, government institutions, national resources and houses of worships,'' the document said.

See that? The Iraqis -- by which I mean the government that we propped up -- have asked us nicely to leave. And in case the hint isn't pointed enough, they've spelled out for us that from now on, any attacks on our soldiers will formally not be considered terrorism, but attacks on Iraqis might be. (In case you're not getting the full implication, insurgents = not terrorists; American soldiers = terrorists.) Bush said that if we were asked to leave, we would... so now it's time to go. There's really no further room for equivocation; it was a hell of a party, but now it's over. The house has been trashed, blown up, then burned to the ground; and our little demonstration of our commitment to racial unity by burning and/or melting that funny-looking brown skin off of Iraqi civilians (hey, man, we're all raw, bloody red on the inside) has ended in failure. Somebody's got to start cleaning up this mess, and with the Bush administration still drunk with power and trying to pick fights with the neighbors, it's obviously not going to be us. Go home, America; sleep it off. We can only imagine the shock you're in for when you wake up tomorrow afternoon and find the rotting corpses of Uday and Qusay in bed next to you. As for Iraq, there's a cadre of militant Muslim fundamentalists waiting outside, ready to perform an intervention, and they've come bearing enough burqas for every woman in Iraq.

After all the corners we've turned, this is the first one that seems to actually suggest a new direction in the war -- after Murtha, and now this, the shift in tone is palpable. Will we leave a gaping wound in the country once we leave? Oh yes, no question. But then, we stuck the knife in in the first place -- saying we didn't know that there would be so much blood involved makes us either idiots or liars, or both. The debate about whether the war is worth it is over -- it's not, and it never was. Only the most deluded deny that now. The only practical question left to answer is, what are we going to do now? We can do this the easy way, or the hard way -- so what's it going to be, America?
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Sunday, November 20, 2005
Sunday Funnies











God help us.
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Saturday, November 19, 2005
RIP

Good ol' Miss Lucy, grouchy old cat.
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Puzzling Evidence

The Great Cosmic Mind sends us messages in strange forms, clouded by confusion. Only in retrospect can we recognize them for what they were: warnings of dire times to come as played out by a funny-looking man in an ill-fitting suit. We thought it was b-grade comedy, but it was, in truth, the oracular passion play of a modern prophet.

Dubya, the Movie


Now if they'd only found some footage of him snorting coke, it would be perfect.

According to prophecy, Bush's post-dethronement career will be devoted to the meddling landlordship of a perky, large-breasted blonde, a smart-mouthed brunette, and a closeted heterosexual (Ken Mehlman?) Neckerchiefs will be worn. Take heed.
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Thursday, November 17, 2005
Modest Addition

Because I believe strongly in staying on the cutting edge of five-year-old technology, I've added a little search doohickie to the blog -- it's down there on the left, after the links but before the archive. I've been tinkering a little; this is the only thing that's worked out.

Now if only I could figure out how to get my RSS feed to work.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Official Statement

Bill O'Reilly is a sailor-fellating drinker of cat's piss who deserves to be fired from all of his jobs, present and future, based purely on his excremental point-of-view.

(Oh man, I want on that list so bad I can taste it. Somebody turn me in!)

PS: He's also a terrorist sympathizer.
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Monday, November 14, 2005
Picture Of The Day

Can you spot the synonyms?




(high-five to Smithers)
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A Day For Freaking Out

I'm never going to get this damn paper done with all these weird, freaky, synchronous distractions.

Okay... my day so far:

I got up this morning to the wailing of Jessica Simpson -- nothing unusual there. I did my routine waking-up email check and blog scan, ate some cold leftover pizza (breakfast of college champions), looked over my notes again, and mentally reviewed my incredibly dull plans for the day. Ho-hum, nothing interesting going on, but hopefully a good day to get some work done. My paper's coming together in my head; the words to explain this big thought hanging in my mind are slowly formulating. So I pull up my word processor, check my email one last time before closing the program (I hate to be distracted by incoming emails while I'm trying to write)...

... and there in my inbox, without getting too specific about it (because it's just not time for that yet) is a very, very disconcerting semi-offer of work. It's disconcerting not because of the work itself (although the job itself is a bit scary, a bit intimidating), but because of where it is. Again, I don't want to say very much, because explaining in depth would be hugely premature. But it's a very demanding job, a very impressive-sounding job, and a job that fits in so smoothly with the work I'm currently doing that I could've sworn I heard a satisfyingly-decisive "click" as it fell into place. It also happens to be in a town where I spent some of the most traumatic years of my life, awkwardly far-removed from everything I've been intending to do after I get out of here. Not so far-removed that I couldn't keep a foot in the Memphis scene, just far-removed enough that it would be a hassle to do so.

I can't explain it any better than that right now -- the point is, it sent my head swimming; it's the kind of offer that, if it came to fruition, would make me think that something beyond my range of perception had been leading me down a path for the last few years without my knowledge. And I'm profoundly reluctant to go -- but it's exactly the offer I may not be able to refuse. I'm half-hoping that it's a bullshit offer -- it was a casual suggestion, an off-hand question, not a firm offer of a job (although if the position is seriously open, I could probably nail it pretty easily if I wanted it), and it could easily turn out that they can't sweeten the deal sufficiently to get me over my intense reservations. But then again... maybe they could.

Anyway, more will be coming if/when things develop; I can't even think about that right now, as I have other things to do. But that was not the only strange thing to happen today, oh no -- in fact, the resonance of the day's two strange happenings taken together is frankly freaking me the fuck out.

Having had this disturbing new possibility dropped in my lap, and having some errands to do anyway, I went out for a while -- I think best in the car, and since I had to go into town anyway it gave me an excuse to drive a little and try to sort things out in my head. I eschewed the main road into town for a dirt back road down the mountain -- it was a gorgeous day, maybe one of the last really beautiful days of the season, and I had a good CD on and the window open, and I was feeling a little unsettled, but glad to be out.

Before I continue, you might want to quickly review this recent post.

So I'm driving along this lovely country dirt road through an area that's mostly dairy farms -- it's one of my favorite routes into town -- and I see a furry thing lying on the side of the road. Ugh -- dead animal. But as I drive by, it lifts its head...

Oh shit.

It was a dog. A live dog. Lying on the side of the road. Just... lying there. Fuck, what to do, what to do... normally I don't stop for strays. Too many times people stop to try to pick up a stray dog, and things go wrong -- the dog's vicious, or it gets scared and runs into traffic. I haven't yet had a dog run from me into the street and get hit by a car, but I've seen it happen too often. Usually, I find, it's better to leave things alone unless it's clearly safe for both you and the dog. But this dog just lay there, and as I drove by it looked at me like it had given up all hope. Shit, fuck. It looked hurt, definitely -- I couldn't see any injury, but why else would a dog just lay there like that? What would I do if it was hurt? Usually I carry the card of a vet around with me, but I don't have one up here, and my phone wouldn't work on the mountain anyway. But I couldn't just ignore it, I'd feel terrible all day (and I was already feeling pretty unsettled.) So I stopped, backed up the twenty feet or so back to the dog, stuck my head out the window and asked it if it was okay. It gave me a submissive look, but didn't move. Shit, fuck.

So I got out and slowly walked over to it. It didn't growl, it didn't put its ears back, it didn't wag its tail, it just watched me. I gave it my hand to sniff and tried to talk to it in a reassuring tone of voice. I looked for obvious injuries -- it was still just laying there -- but didn't see anything. I pat its head and scratched under its chin, feeling for a collar; the collar was there, but there wasn't a tag. The dog was filthy, stinky, but completely docile. I reached down to scratch its chest -- and it stood up.

No obvious injury at all, she seemed to be fine. The uncanny thing, the thing that made it all so bizarre, was that she was middle-sized, black with white on her muzzle and chest, shaggier than the dog in my dream but otherwise very similar. The setting wasn't exactly the same, but it was pretty damn close -- dirt road, wooded area (I didn't mention it in the last post, but that's where I found the dog in my dream.) I talked to her and pet her for a couple of minutes, trying to figure out what to do -- she reeked and while she was obviously somebody's dog, she'd been out for a while. I couldn't take her home (no dogs allowed in the dorms), and I still wasn't sure that she wasn't hurt, but what was I supposed to do with her? Then I remembered -- of course, the humane society.

So I opened the back door of my car and called her over, patted the back seat -- she walked over calmly and hopped in.I told her I'd take her somewhere to get fed and cleaned up, somewhere safe, and shut the door behind her. She sat very quietly as I pulled away, watching the scenery and looking at me slightly anxiously, but she behaved herself perfectly. I drove her to the humane society and went inside, explained the situation to the ladies behind the desk. One of them came out with me to look her over; she gave her a dog biscuit and attached a leash to her collar. The lady said she was a border collie, said she didn't seem hurt; she wasn't limping or guarding any part of her body. She picked a huge, fat tick off her neck, and we gradually convinced the dog to go inside. I gave them my information (which included by birthday --"oh, another Sagittarius," they said) and asked if I could call in a week or so to check and see if she was okay. They were going to look for her owners first, and if they couldn't find them, she'd go into the adoption queue. I washed my hands (which stank of dog) and then went on about my errands.

It was just weird is all. First one thing, then the other -- the only connection between them, obviously, is in my mind, and it's only associative at that. It all probably means nothing, really -- but it feels meaningful.

And as if that wasn't enough, it turns out (my mother informs me) that all of this is happening on the anniversary of my first step-father's death -- which, curiously enough, was a big part of the traumatic period that makes me reluctant to take this job, which is in the same town where it happened.

Circles within circles. What's going to happen next?
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Sunday, November 13, 2005
Ouch

My brain hurts.

I have another twenty or so pages to write this week -- page-wise I can do it, but this is the difficult material I'm working with now, the stuff that isn't about reguritation of facts, but about honest-to-god theory. If I've got anything worthwhile to say, if I've arrived at any conclusion over the last year, now's the time when I've got to get it out on paper. It's so easy to just toss off some who-what-when; it's so hard to say something substantive.

I've got to have the bulk of this writing done by Friday -- that's the day when I've got an interview with a rather prominent mucky-muck in independent film, one of perhaps two or three people in the country who can single-handedly launch a film out of obscurity and on the road to indie fame and fortune. I only have 30-45 minutes to talk to her, so I've got to be completely, utterly, unquestionably prepared; I might have time to ask three or four questions, so I've got to be damn sure I ask the right ones. But I can't finish the paper until after the interview -- I've got to incorporate those answers into my writing. So I'm trying to write just enough, but not too much. Although too much is always better than not enough.

God, I just want this to be over; I want it to be done, and I want to move on. This week is going to be the hardest of the whole year.
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Is Bush Drunk?

Seriously... is he? The last half of this is where it gets really interesting -- clearly he's not, y'know, falling down drunk; he's more like bachelor-uncle-at-Christmas drunk. Just four or five beers down the line, y'know?

The Bush supporters will first deny that he's acting in any way out of the unusual -- and hell, who'd deny a hard-working guy a couple of cold ones, anyway? Except, of course, he's a recovering alcoholic and all that.

I don't usually put that much stock in this stuff -- I've heard the hula-jaw argument, and hell, it might be right. But I definitely know lightly toasted when I see it, and I think I'm looking at it right now.
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Saturday, November 12, 2005
Hmmmmmm...

Well, I guess that settles that.

"We do not torture,'' President Bush said on Monday. Never mind all those torture pictures from Abu Ghraib. Never mind all those torture stories from Guantanamo Bay. Never mind the 2002 Justice Department memo that sought to justify torture. Never mind reports of U.S. officials sending detainees to other countries for torture. Never mind Dick Cheney lobbying to exempt the CIA from rules prohibiting torture. ''We do not torture,'' said the president. And that's that, right? I mean, if you can't believe the Bush administration, who can you believe? No torture. Period, end of sentence.

But . . . What does it say to you that the claim even has to be made?

(...)

We were the nation of moral authority, the nation of moral high ground, the nation that lectured other nations about human rights. And you know what? People believed us. They rush to our shores because there is freedom here, yes; because there is opportunity here, yes; but also because we stood for something, which was more than the tin-pot tyrants who ran their countries could ever say.

What a difference a presidency makes. "We do not torture," he says.

(Buffalo News)

In related news, we also don't use chemical or incendiary weapons...

In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, this morning, a former American soldier who fought at Fallujah says: "I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it's known as Willy Pete.

"Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for."

(the Independent)

The Iraqis in one observation post attempted to flee but were fixed with white phosphorus fires. As they attempted to flee again, white phosphorus rounds impacted the vehicle and set it on fire. The section continued to fire a mix of high explosive and white phosphorus rounds into the objective area. The section fired more than 80 rounds in support of the mission. Upon receiving the order to displace and reorganize for the movement back to the battalion assembly area, the 105s, 120s and 60s quickly broke their systems down and moved out. The rifle companies continued to provide suppressive fire onto the objectives.

(Infantry Magazine)

Shake 'n' bake

Joking and rousting each other like boys just seconds before, the men were instantly all business. With fellow Marines between them and their targets, a lot was at stake.

Bogert received coordinates of the target, plotted them on a map and called out the settings for the gun they call "Sarah Lee."

Millikin, 21, from Reno, Nev., and Alexander, 23, from Wetumpka, Ala., quickly made the adjustments. They are good at what they do.

"Gun up!" Millikin yelled when they finished a few seconds later, grabbing a white phosphorus round from a nearby ammo can and holding it over the tube.

"Fire!" Bogert yelled, as Millikin dropped it.

The boom kicked dust around the pit as they ran through the drill again and again, sending a mixture of burning white phosphorus and high explosives they call "shake 'n' bake" into a cluster of buildings where insurgents have been spotted all week.

They say they have never seen what they've hit, nor did they talk about it as they dusted off their breakfast and continued their hilarious routine of personal insults and name-calling.

(North County Times)

"WP [i.e., white phosphorus rounds] proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

(Field Artillery Magazine)(pdf file)

Jeff Englehart, described as a former US soldier who served in Falluja, tells of how he heard orders for white phosphorus to be deployed over military radio - and saw the results.

"Burned bodies, burned women, burned children; white phosphorus kills indiscriminately... When it makes contact with skin, then it's absolutely irreversible damage, burning flesh to the bone," he says.

(BBC)

You can see the Italian documentary here.
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Friday, November 11, 2005
Die, America, Die

I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead."

And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it.

~ Bill O'Reilly

What do you mean, Bill? You mean "not do anything about it" as in just sitting on your ass reading "My Pet Goat" for ten fucking minutes after the biggest attack on US soil in three generations? As in, shrugging off the guy who actually did it and attacking some entirely uninvoled country instead? As in, spending 20% of your term on vacation while soldiers die? As in, eating cake and pretending to play the presidential guitar while the rat-nibbled corpses of elderly black women float through the streets of an American city?

That kind of "not going to do anything about it?"

What a fucking twat. I have to say, I've heard some pretty extremist talk from my side of the argument since 2001, but I don't think I've heard anyone wish a terrorist attack on any major city yet (much less people of prominence.) And yet it's common currency on the right (see Robertson, Pat on the subject of Dover, PA just today -- one of many such eruptions of bile from that particular cake hole.) Why, you'd almost think that right-wingers just love to watch people die.

Congratulations, Bill -- you're a scumbag of truly epic proportions.
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Friday Randomness

I'm about to say something controversial; I may terminally annoy a few readers with the following comment, but it just has to be said:

I think I'm beginning to hate Macs.

The obligatory background: I grew up with a Mac-centric sysadmin for a father; after our first computer (a Commodore 64), every computer we ever had in the house was a Mac. My father was hip-deep in the early Mac culture, and doubtless still is to some degree -- I wouldn't expect him to even consider changing after an emotional investment of that magnitude. So I grew up on Macs, never really using anything else until college (the first time, back when 1 GB hard drives were new). At some point during that time I flipped and haven't been a Mac user since. My affections have wavered back and forth -- I've been through periods when I too lusted after clear lucite boxes and the brushed-aluminum look. After that long night of Microsoft hell (I remember spending the best part of two years looking for a really good email client), Macs were looking pretty good.

But I've noticed a few things in the last year: in the college computer labs, in spite of the presence of equally as many Macs as PCs, and in spite of the crunchy, progressive atmosphere and the enlightened, tech-savvy nature of the student body (these aren't kids who've never used anything but Windows machines), the PCs get used a hell of a lot more than the Macs. I feel the same way: when I walk in, I scan the room first for vacant PCs; if they're all taken, then I settle for a Mac. Why? It's hard to explain -- I'm just happier getting around on a PC. And it's NOT because I love Windows; Windows continues to suck ass and almost certainly always will. Windows machines piss me off on a regular basis. Things have gotten a lot better since the appearance of Firefox, Thunderbird, and the new wave of other assorted open-source software, and Windows has gotten genuinely better (in the big, noticeable ways) over the last couple of years.

But the big thing, I think, is this: I resent Mac for being so fucking overhyped. Yes the fabled "Blue Screen of Death" will ruin your afternoon, but I personally find it somehow much less frustrating than the Mac equivalent, the "Interminably Spinning Beachball of Ennui." They both basically mean the same thing: you're probably going to have to forceably reboot your computer. But where Windows is clearly modelled on the Old Testament doom and gloom, Mac OS is all about Sartre. There's no exit, friend... the only consolation is that you'll look sophisticated and intellectual while you weep over lost work. Having come back into contact with Macs (mostly for film editing purposes) I've discovered that somewhere along the way, Macs became insufferably inscrutable: "I refuse to do what you ask me to do; you don't need to know why. Here, watch this spinning disk -- it's very colorful. Watch the pretty colors." Obviously the Macs think we're all idiots, and I don't know about you, but I resent any computer that thinks it's better than me.

Hardcore Mac users don't help any; it's like having a friend who's been born again who keeps trying to "save" you, or that vegan guy who clucks disapprovingly every time you order a cheeseburger. I'm all for good design and slightly-less-evil corporate hegemony, but it creeps me out that anyone would suggest that I buy a tool based on what it says about me as a person. It would be humiliating to have to bask in the reflected glory of my laptop, much less having to pay an extra $500 for the honor.

Again, none of this is intended to be a defense of Windows (like Bill Gates needs me to take up his cause); I'd be quite happy to leave both of 'em far behind. I'm gradually, cautiously beginning to consider my options -- Linux scares me, but I recognize that that's mostly because I've had so little contact with it. But maybe it's time to take a chance -- I don't think I'll be getting any better offers anytime soon.

PS: Blogger's buggered this afternoon -- took me over an hour two hours three fucking hours to get this damn thing to publish. I hate you, Blogger, I truly, truly do.

PPS: Yes, if I ever bought a computer for editing, I'd probably get a Mac and FCP. Granted, Mac is actually better with that kind of thing. But I'd be doing everything else on a PC. (All a moot point, since I can't afford any of it at present.)
3:23 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Tuesday, November 08, 2005
For Momster's Buddy



Thanks to Gen. J.C. Christian... you should read his blog, Buddy; he's on your side.
2:56 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Monday, November 07, 2005
Well-Begun Is Half Done

I've just now wrapped up the quick revision of the first half of my final thesis paper -- so far it's at 5,720 words, or roughly 23 pages. (My total page count at this point is up to about 65.) I think it's pretty good so far -- there are still a few points I want to touch on before I'm through, but they can probably wait until the second half is written and I'm revising the whole mess together.

I'm at a bit of a disadvantage as a hardened, habitual one-draft writer -- I always write for the length a given piece is supposed to reach, meaning that this paper's pretty much "done" (in structural terms) before I've even begun drafting the second half. I expect that blending the two halves together into one seamless train of thought is going to prove to be a bitch. It would be easier if I were a good re-writer, but frankly, my writing has generally been good enough to meet any given requirements on the first pass, so I let the re-writes slide. It's not a good thing; my writing would probably be considerably better than it is if I put more effort into it. But I don't.

Anyway, I'm a bit tired now... tomorrow we begin anew.
11:34 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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More Nudity

"This blog needs more nudity."

~ probably Nelson


Well, I aim to please:

11:35 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Friday, November 04, 2005
Can We Call Them Gulags Yet?

They got pissed off when we referred to Guantanamo as a gulag... I guess they wanted to show us what a gulag really looks like.

Sick, sick fucks.

PS: Completely unrelated, but tonight I'm taking a break from writing about movies, and going to one instead. Good Night And Good Luck has finally made it to Brattleboro, and it's showing at the cool art deco cinema on the big screen (with the glow-in-the-dark constellations on the ceiling), so I'm a-goin.

Afterwards, I think I'll head back up to campus if the sky's clear and hope to see a Taurid fireball or two.
5:25 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Poetry Corner

newborn blog has six heads
gooble gobble, one of us
roll up, see Goat Boy

dead blog floats much like
bloated yet exquisite corpse
smells like... the country
11:06 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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