Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Story Time

Reality has been put on hold this week so that everyone can blather on about the Democratic Convention, so I guess it's a good thing that I'm going on vacation. This means posting will be light to non-existant for the next week, unless Kevin decides to take over while I'm gone. He may or may not keep everyone up to date on what's happening in Convention Land or in Archivist Land.

To while away the hours until I return, I've posted a short story on an adjacent page. Read The Black Doll and have a good week.

See you in August!

Monday, July 26, 2004

American-Style Democracy: Now, with Extra Razorwire!


Yahoo! News
:

"'We are on high, high red alert for the protection of our civil liberties,' said Claryce Evans, national coordinator for United Peace and Justice." From inside of a cage surrounded by chainlink fencing and razorwire.

Instead of fiddling with extra neunanced color coded warning systems, United Peace and Justice should have, I don't know, been looking out for protesters being shuffled into pens surrounded by fencing, or something. Anything. I suppose locking the protesters up now just saves time when it comes to arresting them, seeing as how they'll all be trapped in a confined area, unable to escape.

And this is at the Democratic convention. Can't wait to see what the Republicans have lined up for New York. Wetnaps pre-doused with tear gas? Or maybe the protesters will line up in orderly fashion for the billyclub beatings, to be held in New Jersey. That way no one has to see the last shreds of our civil liberties being smothered by the Security State.

Dispatches from Iraq, Part 13


Baghdad - July 24, 2004

Time is flying here. I can't believe I have already spent almost three months in the Green Zone. Actually, the Green Zone is now officially called the International Zone. Why the name change? Who knows? Personally, I think it was a poor decision. It helps to undercut the sovereignty that is apparently in existence by implying that the zone is not under Iraqi control but under international or foreign jurisdiction somewhat similar to the foreign concessions in China or the International Zone in Morocco. At least that's my take on it. It is an area dominated by foreigners who enjoy certain immunities from the local government. What's in a name? Symbolism. Mere words are of tremendous significance especially when national pride is at stake.

Read the rest.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Ghostly Machines

Scout has a fantastic analysis of the 9/11 Commision report up at And Then...:

It's a total love song to the evil that emerges the way a 'personality' emerges in a machine. A system of moving parts work together, and the minor malfunctions and interactions of these parts, so long as they don't threaten the machine with complete collapse, go on to form quirks that may not emerge in a machine made in precisely the same way from similar parts. For some, prone to religious analysis of world events, the beautiful quirks become God and the 9-11's and Iraq War 'Intelligence Failures' become the devil. In the end, the war on terror is really a war 'against evil,' against the glitches in the machine that cause us harm.

It's a war on the existential reality of any society that functions on the level of multiple, interacting mechanisms. The 9/11 Report advises patches to the system, whereas the Bush administration has analyzed weaknesses in the system and mistook it for the function of society itself. They've called it the devil, and they've declared themselves on the side of God, and everyone seems to forget that it is simply a machine, badly in need of repair.

It's like declaring war on the sun when your air conditioner breaks.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Lucyblogging


Lucy has a drinking problem. It should be pointed out that this is a bottle full of water, not bleech or anything like that. For some reaosn though she likes it when you squirt the water in her mouth. It's really weird. Sometimes she'll bite my ankles until I fetch the water bottle for her.

Hot Topic o' the Week: Archives #@!?

Archives articles are all over the news this week: the Sandy Berger story, the Archivist of the U.S. story (very well summed up by Keith in a post below), and a piece on the New York Times Op-Ed page this morning "Foolscap And Favored Sons" by Caroline Alexander.

As the Senate Governmental Affairs hearing yesterday began, Sen. Joseph Lieberman marveled, mostly for the audience's benefit I believe, about the attention that the John Carlin nomination and Allen Weinstein's pending nomination have garnered.  My response to this episodic hubbub is an echo of a message delivered at College Park by Robert Sink (Center for Jewish History).  Archivists are not well integrated into the nation's political culture, so when issues of professional concern (disposition of a Governor's papers, for example) arise then communication and understanding is forced to overcome greater obstacles, perhaps, than other professions that have a more developed relationship with legislators.

I believe that the Society of American Archivists, regional professional organizations, and leading archivists are working to build better methods of professional advocacy, but in the meantime the profession plugs away as best it can.  Individual archivists, I believe, should consider how they can personally and professionally contribute to this needed change.

"Ready access to essential evidence," is the ringing phrase of the National Archives mission statement and the title of National Archives Strategic Plan 1997-2008, Revised 2003.  This model mission is "the great experiment" of information professionals of all kinds, and the politicians who manage them.   The great experiment requires, in my almost-professional opinion, that the challenges become less mystical.  The challenge that is taking shape for me is to bring better clarity to individuals in three main groups: information professionals, government/non-government groups, and users.

The solution to this situation will take much time and many minds to develop.  I believe the answer lies in part by following the trends in higher education generally (and archival education specifically), by professional archival organizations building a political action network, by building a greater infrastructure among national funding organizations to guide a new kind of investment in the skills and human resources, and of course a public relations strategy that takes our issues to the people--the people who are and who could be our favorite patrons and our biggest supporters.

The current climate is less than ideal.  Politically, we have a presidential adminstration clouded by a reputation of unilateral action and closed governmental processes.  The economy does not send investors a clear signal to take risks, and users are less and less interested in time-consuming research processes and simply interested in pre-packaged information products.

The archivist's mission is to adapt.  This is not necessarily a threat to our jobs, our values - we as free individuals control those.  This is an opportunity to keep the momentum going, now as we face a potential changing of the guard at the U.S. Archives, but after the change as well.  Good luck one and all!

 

A Hundred Ways of Looking at a Hydra

Jessa Crispin, everyone's favroite Bookslut, directs us to a fantastic interview with Allen Moore in Salon, in which he has some choice things to say about Reagan, Thatcherism, and the media. But this little bit really struck me:

...My general thought is that yes, it's depressing, but not unexpected, when this stuff happens. And I do tend to think that, given the upsurge of the religious right over the last couple of decades, these are the last spasms of those dinosaur organisms.

[edit]

Because they are standing in the way of history, trying to turn everything, politically and spiritually, back to a medieval vision of the world. Whereas they're perfectly entitled to have whatever worldview they like, I would suggest that humanity is moving in a forward direction. And that any attempt to turn the clock back to a mythical, simpler, or better age would probably be about as effective as Britain's ancient King Canute, who famously sat on his throne along the tide line and ordered the waves to go back. To be fair, he was only doing this to demonstrate the futility of expecting leaders and rulers to be able to command the forces of history and the world. But yeah, I tend to think that this conservative backlash that has been going on since the '70s is the final spasms of a dying creature; history is not moving that way, and no matter how much people dig their heels in and assume this is the 1950s or the Middle Ages, that's not the truth of the situation. No matter how powerful our political and religious leaders think they are, they are as dust before the immense and implacable forces of history and progress. I just hope that they don't make too much of a mess or take too many more people down with them.

I certainly hope Mr. Moore is as spot on about the fall of these Crypto-Fascists as he was with their rise in V for Vendetta.

A Day at the Sausage Factory

Yesterday, Kevin and I and a group of archives students from the University went to the Senate Hearing for Allen Weinstein, the Bush Administration's proposed replacement for Archivist of the United States. The thing is, we already have an Archivist, John Carlin. Why he's being pushed out and replaced with Weinstein now was the question of the day, as the White House apparently gave no reason at all, to either Carlin or Weinstein for the change. This article form www.GovExec.com sums up the situation nicely:

At least one senator will ask the Bush administration to disclose its reasons for asking the current archivist of the United States, former Kansas Democratic Gov. John Carlin, to resign, before approving his potential successor, Allen Weinstein.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., pointed to the White House's responsibility to provide Congress with an explanation for its decision to dismiss a sitting archivist and urged the other members of the Senate Governmental Affairs committee to join him in his request Thursday at Weinstein's nomination hearing.

This question is really the big one. "It sticks out so far that you could break it into three pieces and each one would be long enough to goose someone up in the bronx," as Saul Goodman put it. But since there is no answer for now, all we can do is speculate. So I will.

Sitting there in the audience gave me a clear view of the situation: here was a man with, as Kevin put it, not a single political bone in his body. He seemed generally flustered by the whole affair, and baffled by the Senator's questions concerning his appointment. As if he never really bothered to think about the hows and why fors of it all.

The Senators, being Good Politicians, fell all over themselves to convey that they each and every one respected Weinstein and thought he was more than qualified for the job (an assessment not shared by my fellow colleagues in the audience. Weinstein had no knowledge of the National Archives and Records Administration's long term strategic goals, something we students could easily have told him as we've all received copies of this document in numerous classes).

Of course, this really wasn't the real controversy surrounding Weinstein's nomination in the first place, but a tangential one that points to broader concerns about the Bush Administrations motivations. The real controversy concerning Weinstein has to do with Openness in Government, especially with Executive order 13233, which puts the decision to release presidential papers, not with the Archivist, as a previous law states, but at the whim of the President. And we all know what a fan of Transparency in Government Bush is.

Weinstein told Lieberman no one in the White House had instructed him he would be expected to keep presidential documents secret if he took the position.

If that had been the case, he said, he would not have been interested in the position. "No job is worth my integrity," said Weinstein, founder of the Center for Democracy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping emerging democracies. "The archivist's job is to advocate for access."

But Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said he had trouble reconciling that philosophy with Weinstein's stated intention to defend the president's executive order against court challenge.

"I think I know where your heart is, but I want to know where your lawyers will be. If your lawyers are restricting access to the presidential documents, I think you're on the wrong side," Durbin said.

At the end of the day, I was not impressed. Not with Weinstein, who strikes me as a rather frail old man, pliable in his politics and personal convictions, and not with the Senators, who really gave Weinstein far more credit than he deserved. But that's politics for you; an object lesson in how to fall up, scoring promotion based not on what your skills are, but who you know. I'd still like to know who it is that Weinstein knows and who is making the money on this deal. And since Republicans are involved, you know there's money changing hands, somewhere.

Update: edited for Fnords.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Krugman's Poison Pen

Paul Krugman is, as TBogg points out, increasingly becoming every bloggers go-to guy for biting criticism of BushCo. If you think I'm just blowing purple smoke, check out his new op-ed piece, The Arabian Candidate:

In the original version of 'The Manchurian Candidate,' Senator John Iselin, whom Chinese agents are plotting to put in the White House, is a right-wing demagogue modeled on Senator Joseph McCarthy. As Roger Ebert wrote, the plan is to 'use anticommunist hysteria as a cover for a communist takeover.'

[edit]

So let's imagine an update - not the remake with Denzel Washington, which I haven't seen, but my own version. This time the enemies would be Islamic fanatics, who install as their puppet president a demagogue who poses as the nation's defender against terrorist evildoers.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Bloggetty Blog Blog

Busy day, so no new post. If you're reading this, you must be halucinating. I'll have a new short story ready to post soon, so take heart: you may be crazy, but you're getting new literature out of it.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Riding Through the Town on Horseback, Shouting Out the News

Sydney Morning Herald:

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs.

They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they 'deserved worse than death'.

The Prime Minister's office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to the Herald, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun.

But the informants told the Herald that Dr Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister's personal security team watched in stunned silence.

So, this is what Bush meant by bringing American Style Democracy to Iraq. And why the fuck do I have to get this news from Australia? We're going to have to go back to the days of town criers in this country, just to get the headlines since our corporate owned, SCLM outlets can't be bothered to tell us jack shit.

Link via Holden at Eschaton

The Swinging Married Life

Dan Savage, guru of kinky sex and relationships, has a fascinating article on the gay-strait marriage issue (warning: it's on Salon, so you need a subscription or daypass to read the whole thing):

The double standard relentlessly promoted by opponents of gay marriage -- and attacked just as relentlessly by supporters -- is that marriage is about having children. Since gays and lesbians can't have children, according to religious conservatives, we shouldn't be allowed to marry. It has been almost comically easy to punch holes in this argument. Not all married straight couples can have children (the elderly, the sterile); many straight couples who can have children choose not to. And it's not exactly a secret that thousands of gay and lesbian couples have had children or plan to have children through adoption or insemination. If marriage is about children, how is it that childless straight couples can marry but same-sex couples with children cannot?

By promoting this double standard social conservatives have unwittingly exposed the shocking truth about marriage in America today: The institution, as currently practiced, is terrifically hard to define. Marriage is whatever two straight people say it is. Kids? Optional. Honor? Let's hope so. Till death do us part? There's a 50/50 chance of that. Obey? Only if you're a female Southern Baptist. Modern marriage can be sacred (church, family, preacher), or profane (Vegas, strangers, Elvis). What makes a straight couple married -- in their own eyes, in the eyes of the state -- is their professed love, a license issued by a state, and the couple's willingness to commit to each other publicly. How a straight married couple chooses to express love, exactly what it is they're committing to, is entirely up to them. It's not up to the state, their reproductive systems, or even the church that solemnizes their vows.

This is the reason so many defenders of "traditional marriage" sputtered their way through appearances on "Nightline" and the Sunday morning news programs. Traditional marriage is just one option among many these days. A religious straight couple can have a big church wedding and kids and the wife can submit to the husband and they can stay married until death parts them -- provided that's what they both want. Or a couple of straight atheists can get married in a tank full of dolphins and never have kids and treat each other as equals and split up if they decide their marriage isn't working out -- again, if that's what they both want. (It should be pointed out, however, that a religious couple is likelier to divorce than atheists who marry in a tank full of dolphins.) The problem for opponents of gay marriage isn't that gay people are trying to redefine marriage but that straight people have redefined marriage to a point that it no longer makes any sense to exclude gay couples. Gay people can love, gay people can commit. Some of us even have children. So why can't we get married?

I think Mr. Savage is the first person to bring up this point, that "Traditional Marriage" these days is anything but what the Bible Thumpers think of as traditional (unless you are the aforementioned Southern baptist. What fun for you). That modern marriage scarcely resembles what your grandma and grandpa did is a good thing. I wouldn't want my wife to obey me any more than I want her to be barefoot and pregnant in the Kitchen. That's not what gets our motors running, and neither is it what made us fall in love in the first place. That my wife is my equal in intellect, ambition and desire is the whole reason why we got married.

But notice that it's only grandmas and grandpas of our society, the self-styled Guardians of Western Culture, that are getting their old fangled knickers in a twist over this little fact. They're somewhat startled, but mostly jealous of the fact that we, the young modern married couples of the world, are free to pick and choose how we define our relationships. I'm sure in private, most of these elderly finger waggers are kicking themselves for not adding a little kink to their lives when they had the chance (not that they still couldn't. It's not like swinging's the exclusive domain of the young). But instead of adding a little spice to their winter years, they decide to chastise anyone who doesn't conduct themselves in the mythologized manner of Tradition with a capitol T (which seems to be little more than baby rearing and middle-aged resentment, from what I can tell).

That these traditions they flog so mercilessly are fairly recent on the historical scene hardly registers at all. The traditions they dance around were contrived by Victorian era moralists, and even then were more rhetorical suggestions than practical guidelines. A gentleman of the 1890's might talk a good bit about family and virtue and the glory of the empire, then kiss his wife goodbye for the evening and stroll down to the brothel or out to the club to play cards with the fellows and twirl around with a dance hall girl. And let's not even get Biblical, as some of the more laughable wags have; do we really need to rehash the rules detailing multiple wives, concubines, slaves and when it is appropriate to impregnate your daughter?

Modern marriage is a wide open and varied thing1. That it has become so over time, gradually, with hardly anyone noticing until now, is a testament to our culture's flexibility. Which makes it all the more ironic that those who talk so much about protecting all that is good and right with our culture have so little faith in it's ability to persevere and adapt.

Senator Santorum, self appointed Arch-Moral Whip and Chain of the GOP, has made quite a name for himself, promoting slippery slope analogies about how if we let the gays in to our gold ring club, then the swingers and kinks and disciples of De Sade will sneak along in their back pocket. He's simply not been paying attention. The real freaks are already in the clubhouse. We're the ones who decide to get married, despite every reason in the world not to.
__________
1. Dan Savage also makes an interesting case for married nonmenogamy, suggesting that we regard three-ways, "the same way Bill Clinton regarded abortion: They're best when they're safe, legal and rare."

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Nap Time


Lucy doesn't like it when I wake her up from a nap, especially when it's nice and warm in the windowsill where she usually likes to sleep.

Book Talk

Michael Blowhard, of the always thoughtful 2blowhards, has some advice to those who, like me, dream of writing a book:

You say you've got a story to tell? Well, why does it have to be a book? You'll burden your life with a tedious project for a couple of years, you'll probably overstretch your material, and then no one will read the results. Why not realize your project in a manageable and pleasurable way instead? Put in a month of writing, keep it to a compact length, and post it to the Web. (There really aren't many stories that need more than 50 pages.) It's certainly true that no one may pay attention to your work despite its being out there on the Web. But at least you'll have told your story, enjoyed the process, made your work available -- and you won't have ruined your life, or broken your heart.

I've been trying to write my book for the better part of four years now. I actually finished it, sort of, I just wasn't thrilled with the results. The story was good but it could be better. But at this point the prospect of rewriting it for the sixth time really doesn't appeal to me, especially considering all the obstacles that stand between me and a fruitful contract with a publisher.

According to Michael, who is knowledgeable about these sorts of things, there's only a few hundred authors who make a living at their craft. That's a few hundred out of hundreds of thousands. Now, I've grown out of my delusions that I'll be the next Neil Gaiman. While I really enjoy writing, I don't think i'd like the stress of his schedule. I've been reading Mr. Gaiman's blog now on a daily basis for two years and he's always busy, working on three or four projects at a time, screenplays, short story collections a new novel, jetting off to this conference and that convention. It just sounds a little too hectic to me. And what with the disastrous state of contemporary publishing, my odds of even getting an agent or publisher to look at my manuscript is next to zero.

So, I'm taking Michael's advice. I've been leaning in that direction for some time now anyway. I'm going to write mys tories. they'll be short stories or novellas and when they're finished, I'll post them on an adjacent page for the reading pleasure of my visitors. You can read them and if you like, make a donation.

And who knows, if there's enough interest, and once I have enough stories together, maybe I'll self publish a book and sell it here on the blog. That would be enough for me to realize my dream of being a published author, without all the hassle of dealing with the crooked industry more concerned with bestseller status and profit margins than telling a good story.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Working in a Coal Mine

Michael Mcgrorty at Library Dust has posted his resume. It is a stunning example of what all Librarian's resumes should look like. Heck, what all resume's should look like. If more resumes were this honest and strait forward, they'd actually be interesting to read:

Next job: United States Navy (age seventeen). Served on three different ships; ran ship's library, was drunk in many foreign and domestic ports. Read all of Shakespeare, Milton, Faulkner, Conan Doyle, Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, a few dozen others and as much of the Brontes as I could take.


Knowledge and Skills Obtained: Learned many impressive new curses in English and other languages; found out why the rest of the world craves American cigarettes; discovered that most of the world is poor. Avoided sexual relations with prostitutes around the globe. Managed to quit smoking. Found that they still have a silence rule in Australian libraries.

And check out his article, two posts down form this one that the future of Libraries. No truer thing will you read all day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Politics of Love

WaPo:

Gay Marriage Ban Headed for Senate Defeat

A proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage was headed for defeat in the Senate today, doomed by nearly solid Democratic opposition, sharp divisions within Republican ranks and a lack of consensus among voters over how best to deal with the issue.

Even with the strong backing of President Bush, the measure could have trouble attracting a simple majority of the Senate, GOP leaders acknowledge, let alone the two-thirds 'super majority' needed to adopt a constitutional amendment. Yet GOP strategists hope the issue will help them in selected regions, and with crucial conservative voters, this fall.

This is good news. I'm sure most of the left end of the blogosphere will be blabbing about just how good and what it means, which is valid and needed. But I want to discuss this from a different standpint: that of a married man.

The thing is, I love my wife but don't like marriage all that much. I don't expect many people to fully understand this, so I'll try and explain as best as I can.

My wife, Elvira, is a lovely woman. I adore her. At the end of October, we will celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary, though in my mind, we've been together since our first date, more than five years ago. The fact that we're together is what is special, not that we underwent some goofy ceremony. Frankly, I could have cared less if we ever did the little dance or not. I was then and am still today perfectly willing to spend the rest of my life with Elvira. It didn't take some dude in a funky hat waving his magic wand over us to make it so. And really, two people standing in front of their friends and family, making ludicrous promises they can't hope to live up to is silly and to use this farcical ceremony as the standard criteria on which we base our civilization is absurd (How absurd? remember the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail in which the peasant is browbeating King Arthur for basing his claim to the thrown on the fact that some moist tart lobbed a scimitar at him. that's how absurd).

To hear them talk, you'd think the fate of Western Civilization hinges solely on what happens in our bedroom. That's quite a lot of pressure to preform, none of it warranted and certainly, none of it asked for.

My marriage is a verbal agreement between me and my wife. That we signed on the dotted line of some piece of paper is a mere technicality. Something we did to get the IRS off our backs. As Jonathan Richman says:

the tax form comes
fill out 'married'
a technicality
but I'm tellin you
that I'm not married
I'm not single
I'm still me

I say 'wife'
because it stops all talk right away
about the way we be
but 'wife' sounds like you're mortgaged
'wife' sounds like laundry

Words like Wife, Husband and Marriage don't mean a damn thing. All that matters is how people behave, not what you call them. So if two Queens in San Francisco or the nice "sisters" down the street want to spend the rest of their lives together and do so openly, honestly and in full sight of their family and friends, all that matters is that they do so with respect and love. But what really disgusts me is that the GOP is trying to politicize my relationship and use married people like me and my wife as tools to discriminate against a portion of the population, to keep them as second class citizens based on nothing more than superstition and farcical ceremonies.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Arguments to the Contrary

I go on vacation for a few days and come back to find out that Bush is playing Dictator, again, this time by tossing around the idea of postponing the presidential elections in case of a terrorist attack (or if it looks like Kerry might actually win). Oh, but there I go, getting all paranoid. What will Kevin Drum think?

I still don't think this is part of any nefarious plot to turn America into Amerika, but there's not really much point in arguing about it. If you believe this, nothing I say is going to change your mind.

What's intriguing, though, is that the paranoia is so thick that no one is bothering to talk about whether this is a good idea on a substantive level.

I don't mean to single out Mr Drum, who is a fine blogger, if a little blinkered at times by his own success as a moderate commentator. There are others, I'm sure, who aren't bothered by the fact that all that stands between our struggling democracy and a dictatorship is a four member pannel with executive powers, appointed by a President who has publicly stated that it'd be a whole lot easier to run things if this were a dictatorship. So here's some substantive level talk for you, Mr. Drum, et. al.: This is a fucking stupid idea. Allow me to illustrate.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president (and the first from the Republican Party). Durring his presidency, he assumed more power than any other president in U.S. history. He proclaimed a blockade, suspended the writ of habeas corpus for anti-Union activity, and spent money without congressional authorization, all in an effort to preserve the Union during the Civil War. You know what he didn't do? Suspend the electoral process. Even with internal rebellion that resulted in some of the bloodiest battles in recorded history, being fought not only on our shores but on our lawns and in our parlors, Lincoln never felt that the process that is key to the well ordered continuation of our democratic system was in need of suspension. Not even a little bit.

Likewise, FDR never suspended elections, even durring World War II. Osama Bin Laden might be a bad guy (I might even go so far as to call him an "Evil Doer," if it didn't make him sound a little too much like Cobra Commader) but you'd be hard pressed to convince me he is worse a threat to democracy than Jefferson Davis or Adolf Hitler.

This is taking the long way around the barn to make a simple point: the idea of suspending the elections due to some vague potential threat is a bad idea, regardless of which president thought of it. That it was conceived under the watch of George W. Bush is not only bad but worthy of tinfoil hatted paranoia. So with all due respect, Mr. Drum and all you armchair moderates out there who don't want to loose your cool, or your cushy little job as a paid blogger for the status quo, you'd better get paranoid. Because the last four years has proven that these people will abuse their power, and for far pettier reasons.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Dispatches from Iraq, Part 12

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Lazy Cat Blogging

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Belated holiday

I'm taking a few days off to recover from classes, relax, enjoy the company of my wife and generally be unproductive. It should be fun. Don't worry though, I'll be back Monday with the Spiderman review I promised and much more.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

My Brain Hurts

I've got Legal Issues for Librarians coming out of every orifice sideways. Mild discomfort, to be sure. I'm so very much looking forward to the next six weeks when I won't have a bloody thing to do but blog and write and go to the pool. It will finally be summer for me. Just one more day to go...

Monday, July 05, 2004

Dinner and a Movie

I just got back form a post-Independence Day cookout where I had an interesting conversation with Neil, a fellow from Ireland visiting as a student. He had something to say about the way we handle immigration and visas post 9/11, all them valid (like the fact that he feared that he was going to be deported any minute if he didn't fill out the Byzantine forms correctly and state precisely the exact amount of change in his pockets). He also told me something interesting, a bit of information you can only get from a non American.

Apparently, over in Europe, Fox News is a joke. The way he put it was that, "It's what you turn on when you've had a bad day because the things they make up are just funny." That it's just common knowledge in Europe that Fox News is Bullshit and that people only watch it for the humor value. He was surprised when I informed him that here in the US, there are actually people who believe the things Fox News says. I had to explain to him that most Americans don't follow the BBC and since we don't have a scrupulous American equivalent, they've forgotten what actual journalism sounds like. They think that if someone wears a tie and sits behind a desk and tells them fact-like things, that they must be telling the truth.

Different cultures, and all that.

Well, I'm off to See Spiderman 2. I'll have a full review tomorrow, or maybe wednesday. Finals and all that.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Our National Anthem

The Anacreontic Society, a popular gentlemen's club in London in the late 1700's, was named after Anacreon, a fifth Century B.C. poet known as the "convivial bard of Greece." The society's membership was dedicated to wit, harmony, and the god of wine. The members of this society collaborated on a drinking song, popular int he United States in the early 1800's where it was heard by Francis Scott Key. He must have really liked the tune as he wrote new lyrics for it, commemorating the battle of Fort mcHenry.

These days, the theme of this national anthem seems somehow misplaced. War is not what our country is about. At least, it's not what it should be about. So, I propose we restore the original lyrics and change our national anthem from a hymn to war, to a hymn to wine, women and song. The only things that really matter in life.

To Anacreon in Heaven
(sung to the tune of The Star-Spangled Banner)

To Anacreon in Heaven, where he sat in full glee, A few sons of Harmony sent a petition,
That He their Inspirer and Patron would be; When this answer arrived from the Jolly Old Grecian "Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
"no longer be mute,
"I'll lend you my Name and inspire you to boot, "And, besides, I'll instruct you like me to entwine "The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine.

The news through OLYMPUS immediately flew; When OLD THUNDER pretended to give himself Airs "If these mortals are suffer'd their Scheme to perfue, "The Devil a Goddess will stay above the Stairs. "Hark, already they cry,
"In transports of Joy,
"Away to the Sons of ANACREON we'll fly,
"And there, with good Fellows, we'll learn to entwine "The Myrtle of VENUS with BUCCUS'S Vine.

"The YELLOW-HAIRED GOD and his nine fusty Maids "From Helicon's Banks will incontinent flee, "IDALIA will boast but of tenantless Shades, "And the bi-forked Hill a mere Desert will be "My Thunder, no fear won't,
"Shall soon do it's Errand,
" and, dam'me! I'll swinge the Ringleaders, I warrant, "I'll trim the young Dogs, for thus daring to twine "The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCUS'S Vine.

APOLLO rose up; and said, "Pr'ythee ne'er quarrel, "Good King of the Gods, with my Vot'ries below: "Your Thunder is useless." - then, shewing his Laurel, Cry'd, "Sic evitabile fulmen, you know!
"then over each Head
"My Laurels I'll spread;
"So my Sons from your Crackers no Mischief shall dread, "Whilst snug in their Club-Room, they jovially twine "The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCUS'S Vine.

Next MOMUS got up, with his risible Phiz, And swore with APOLLO he'd cheerfully join "The full Tide of Harmony still shall be his, "But the Song, and the Catch, & the Laugh shall be mine "Then, JOVE, be not jealous
Of these honest Fellows.
Cry'd JOVE, "We relent, since the Truth you now tell us; "And swear, by OLD STYX, that they long shall entwine "The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCUS'S Vine.

Ye sons of ANACREON, then, join Hand in Hand; Preserve Unanimity, Friendship, and Love! 'Tis your's to support what's so happily plann'd; You've the Sanction of Gods, and the FIAT of Jove. While thus we agree
Our Toast let it be.
May our club flourish happy, united and free! And long may the Sons of ANACREON intwine The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCUS'S Vine.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

The Amazing Adventurers of Politician Man

I realize that the content here at the Library has been a little spare of late and no one is more disappointed about this than I. That's the problem, though, with Grad School. You spend all your time and energy on things of little consequence (in the long run) but seem so important at the time. I mean, we've all gotten our heads turned around by the intricacies of the Child Internet Protection Act and it's ramifications on Public Library Filter Policies, I'm sure. Especially at the expense of what really matters, like the fact that the Mayor of Mexico City is also a Comic Book Superhero:

Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador appears as a heaven-bound figure besieged by snakes, sharks and dark-hooded politicians in a new comic book distributed by his administration: The Dark Forces Against Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The 16-page book is the administration's most recent attempt to fight off what Lopez Obrador has described as "a plot" by federal officials and other prominent figures to undermine him ahead of the 2006 presidential election.

This is a fabulous idea. I predict that in the future, comic books will become the main tool for Mayoral races. I think the Marion Barry campaign should consider it. Though they'd have to sell it in a brown paper bag.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Noirish Cat


Lucy is unhappy that I have to spend all day writing a paper about the Supreme Court's rulings on Internet Filtering Policies. And so am I.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Throwing the Horses Overboard

Looks like it's that time again: the summer doldrums, where it's just a long sweaty haul towards the real political meat of the Fall. Now that the Supreme Court is pretty much finished for the season, the only thing left on the horizon, for the politibloggers (besides the steadily mounting outrage over whatever it is Bush will say or do next) is the presidential debates. Even this will be lean, in my opinion, as most of the country has pretty much already chosen sides. The liberals and most sane lefties have sided with Kerry while the Beltway Fascists, in a display of religious party devotion, are sticking to Bush. This means Kerry will be trying to wrestle the Naderites over to his side while Bush will be putting on a song and dance for the Moderate Republicans, trying to convince them he isn't really an incompetent, spoiled baby, daydreaming of the ease of Dictatorship.

For the rest of the summer, this will remain my position. Unless something truly outrageous happens (always a possibility with these chuckleheads in office) there will be no more political commentary from me until the election. Kevin may chime in from time to time but from what he's told me, he has a series of archive-activist oriented posts lined up. As for me, I'm steering this ship back towards its original course and will blogging about books, writing and library issues. Not to worry though, there will be plenty of pictures of Lucy, the occasional movie review (Spider Man 2 is open now and King Arthur's coming up next weekend!), so I'm only on hiatus from wonkery, not the things that really matter.

For your daily dose of political outrage, there's always my fellow members of the Liberal Coalition.