This is just to say...

>> Wednesday, December 23, 2015

This is Just to Say
I have taken
The Rocky Horror Picture video
that was in
the bag

and which
you were probably
for tonight

Forgive me
it was hilarious
so morbid
and so kinky
Again with the high school shit...

Which should be obvious since I used the word "video" (aka circa 1993)...


Winter solace

>> Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Found this blast from the past when I was sorting through old stuff in my room.

Cold air
~ kills plants
~ makes me sick
~ is everywhere
~ a nuclear bomb
~ the flu
~ God
~ that spring is right around the corner
Yeah, gotta love the shit I wrote in high school creative writing class.


I hadn't thought about it that way before

>> Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why couldn't someone like Marilyn Monroe save herself?
I don't think Marilyn committed suicide. I don't think Marilyn was murdered. I think it was an accident. But she was playing with fire. I don't think she was as acutely aware of it as some of my other self-destructive friends.
~Elizabeth Taylor to Rolling Stone in 1987


Avengers: Age of Ultron

>> Saturday, July 11, 2015

So, I finally went to see this today. It finally made it to the discount theater. I was specifically waiting for it to do that. I didn't even want to fork out regular matinee price for this. I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road a couple of months ago with one of my friends. I paid matinee price for that and didn't regret it. Of course, when it came between choosing to see either Avengers: Age of Ultron or Mad Max, we both chose Mad Max.

When I was on my way driving to the theater, I was thinking to myself that it's almost to the point where Marvel should/could do a "previously on..." segment before every film. It really is to that point. It's becoming so ubiquitous. I haven't seen Iron Man 3, still waiting for it to show up on Netflix. Haven't seen Thor: The Dark World either; although, I almost saw it at the discount theater, but got there kind of late so I just let it go. Still waiting to see it on Netflix. I did see Captain America: The Winter Soldier last year on opening weekend and quite enjoyed it. Same with Guardians of the Galaxy. But I have no desire to see Ant Man at this point.

I felt like I saw this with as much of an open mind as I could have. It's been a month or more since I've seen advertisements for it.'s okay. I feel like it's an achievement given how much is stuffed in there that it still has a coherent story. I haven't even seen every Marvel movie, and it just seems like it's sinking under its own morass. There's too many action scenes, and the big one at the end just goes on and on and on and on and on forever. I think I read somewhere that the movie is better when it's just concentrating on its character moments, and I agree with that. There's not enough of them.

And can I just say that RDJ is bringing out the asshole qualities in Tony Stark excellently? Even though it may not be intended, that's what I was thinking. I can still remember 15 years ago when they were considering Tom Cruise as Tony. That popped in my head while watching this. Tony is such an ass without Pepper around.

I did enjoy seeing Wanda and Vision on the screen. Vision looks not completely human, yet completely real. I'm actually looking forward to seeing more of him. Wanda was nice to see, except she's not in it as much as I would like. I didn't mind the Banner & Widow thing as much as I thought I would, but didn't we establish in the last Avengers movie that Bruce had a little bit more control because he's "always angry"? Feel like he regressed for some reason.

But driving on my way home, I was thinking two things: 1) glad I only paid $3 to see this, and 2) I enjoyed Man of Steel more than this. Don't get me wrong, Man of Steel has its problems, but I have no desire to see Age of Ultron again. In fact, I'd rather watch The Dark Knight Rises again, and I'm not big on that movie either. At least when I saw MoS, I thought about seeing it again, but didn't think my ears could bear it after they were ringing for an hour afterwards. Maybe I'll watch it tonight, particularly after having seen the new Batman v Superman trailer today.

This movie is very forgettable.


I'd never thought of it that way before...

>> Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I had never really understood how a nation that so celebrated the individual could obliterate all differences the way this country did. In a system of mass production, the individual workers are replaceable and the products are identical. The identical cars are followed by identical gas stations, identical restaurants, identical motels and, as an extension of these, by identical TV screens, which hang everywhere in this country, broadcasting identical entertainment and identical dreams. Not even the Soviet Union at the height of its power had succeeded in creating such a unified, collective identity as the one Americans lived their lives within. When times got rough, a person could abandon one town in favor of another, and that new town would still represent the same thing.
~Karl Ove Knausgård on the U.S.


Because it's all just one big, happy pile of $$$

>> Thursday, March 19, 2015

There is nothing like experiencing one of your coworker's idiocy-in-the-extreme moments for the first time.

And just being GOBSMACKED by it.

Because if you have, say, multiple years of experience dealing with a certain area of bureaucracy, and you were trying to inform one of your coworkers about this bureaucracy since they literally have NO EXPERIENCE dealing with it, naturally they would listen to what you had to say, right? I mean, they have no idea how the process works, how long it takes, what a pain in the ass it can be, never had a good or bad experience dealing with it, don't even know the names of the people who run the program or what extensions to call and reach them. Surely, they would at least listen to what you had to say on the subject, right?


And here begins The Saga of Someone Doesn't Know the Difference Between Project X and Project Y...

Me [10:21 AM]:
He said it sounds like a few have used their private insurance.
But he said no success in getting people seen through the [Project X] instead of here
Coworker [10:21 AM]:
Me [10:21 AM]:
[Project X] is slow
Coworker [10:22 AM]:
Congress is slow. Implement something without a smooth transition in place
Me [10:23 AM]:
It probably works fine for appointments that are 60+ days out, but 30 days is too short for them to work that fast. That's my guess.
Coworker [10:24 AM]:
You wait how long for auth for para' a day? 3 days?
Me [10:25 AM]:
That's an entirely different department & process.
That's [Project Y] funding.
Coworker [10:25 AM]:
If it's forcasted that you have to wait a minimum of 30 days to be seen, that process should be the same
Essentially, that funding comes from the same pot of money
Me [10:26 AM]:
Nope. Different programs & different sources of funding.
[Project X] is entirely separate from [Project Y].
Coworker [10:27 AM]:
I know they are
but tax payers money
divided and renamed to justify how the money is spent
See, what she did there? It's all just one big, happy, pile of money! Documentation, justification, and specificity be damned! Never mind that this is someone who has a purchase card and already understands that she has to keep a shitload of documentation just for buying office supplies. Clearly, it would be too much in the thinking department to apply the same principle to something more expensive and complex. It's all just one pot of taxpayer money!! Everything is the same because it comes from the tax payers!
Me [10:28 AM]:
That's like saying Department of Labor and DoD are on the same budget because they're tax payer money.
[Project X] and [Project Y] are different staffs & budgets. Once [Project X] uses all their money, they won't exist. [Project Y] will though.
Coworker [10:29 AM]:
WE're talking about the same thing, but worded differently.
All tax payer money, divied up between gov entities
Uh, no. We are not talking about the same thing. I can clearly recognize that there are two DIFFERENT programs at work here: [Project X] and [Project Y]. When you say that one of them will GO AWAY after their funding is used, how could they possibly be THE SAME?!? How she doesn't seem to realize this is a complete mystery to me. It is well established that [Project X] will not be around forever. Everyone at work knows this. Well...perhaps I shouldn't say everyone.
Me [10:30 AM]:
All government is.
Coworker [10:31 AM]:
So the [Project X] is a newly justified budget
Me [10:31 AM]:
Coworker [10:31 AM]:
it didn't exist before
are we on the same page?
all of this money we pay needs to be split up appropriatly
Me [10:32 AM]:
Yeah, it didn't exist before and it won't exist after its budget runs out, which is approximately 3 years.
Coworker [10:33 AM]:
What I am trying to tell you is that I think the [Project X] has loopholes, and should be the same as the [Project Y] finding...wait maybe 1-3 days
to be seen
Ok, this should have been a sign early on that she has NO IDEA what she's talking about. (Unfortunately, I didn't catch it early on.) [Project X] does NOT have loopholes. [Project Y] cannot necessarily get people seen in 1-3 days like she said. [Project Y] is almost usually on a case-by-case basis, mainly because we don't even offer--for example--Service F, G, and H. If you were seen in 1-3 days due to [Project Y] funding, then likely it only happened that quickly because it was necessitated that you were seen in 1-3 days. If you don't understand the [Project X], have never spoken to anyone who has used it, and just want to use your imagination--like she did--then I suppose [Project X] has loophole. But [Project X] does not have loopholes. It has strict requirements that have to be met, and if you don't meet the requirements, you can't use [Project X] funding. It's literally that fucking simple.
Me [10:34 AM]:
[Project Y] doesn't necessarily always get people seen within 1-3 days. It's really only for things that aren't done at *****.
Coworker [10:34 AM]:
Oh [my name]
forget it
Me [10:37 AM]:
I've seen a guy [Project Y] funded to have his surgery done on the outside because it was too special to be done even at the U. Sometimes it's been used in the past to catch up when there's a lack of staff, but not always. It totally depends on what budget has been granted to each **** hospital. So the [Project Y] funding that they were doing last year for IR because they lost docs was only because they had the budget for it.
Me [10:40 AM]:
You're conflating [Project X] and [Project Y].
Coworker [10:42 AM]:
No I am not, I am suggesting that it should be the same process for that budget [my name].
From top to bottom, the money comes from ONE place-tax payers
There it is again! It's all just one big pot of money. Everything should be treated the same. Like, I am never going to be lucky enough to be around when someone other than me breaks the news to her that this shit is not the same!
Me [10:42 AM]:
It doesn't matter whether you want them to be the same. They are different programs.
ALL government money comes from tax payers!
Coworker [10:43 AM]:
and justified into separate pots
I am not arguing they are different programs
Me [10:43 AM]:
That's how the budgeting process goes.
Coworker [10:43 AM]:
Obviously, my point isn't coming across and you're choosing to argue instead of listen
But it's ok
Sadly, even as I re-read this, her special "point" that she was trying to make makes no sense, particularly if you've actually dealt with [Project Y], which I can guarantee you she has not.
Me [10:44 AM]:
I could really care less whether it's one program or two
One of them is only temporary anyway.
Coworker [10:47 AM]:
I won't argue, and it isn't even agree to disagree. This is just one sided, black and white, no other perspective. Which is fine. We will just stick with our own perspectives.
Have to run to [manager's] office
Me [10:48 AM]:
If you worked on the regular clinic side it would make more sense to you.
Coworker [10:49 AM]:
She's with someone
Actually...I have...for 13 years prior to here
But you just assumed that I didn't
Coworker [10:50 AM]:
I know that you have. BUT I'm still talking about [government-funded] clinic care.
Coworker [10:51 AM]:
Oh sure
Of course you know
See, there we go. Instead of sticking to actually discussing the issue or facts of relevance, she starts throwing down AS IF she knows it all because she worked 13 years...not doing anything related to ever processing, interacting, or documenting anything in regards to [Project X] or [Project Y]. But, of course, I'm totally wrong for trying to point it out...
Me [10:52 AM]:
If you don't believe me then go talk to [So-&-So], the head of Urology, for his opinon. Or go talk to [This-Other-Person], the nurse for General Surgery. And ASK THEM what they think of having to do all this [Project X&Y] care.
Coworker [10:52 AM]:
Enough [my name], you are prodding me. We can't talk politics, idea's again.
Name dropping, arguing...thats what this has turned into
I wanted to share idea's
but you're just shooting them down, and not listening
Discussion over.
You know, if you want to have discussions with people, the best way is to actually engage--perhaps even get out of your comfort zone--not make decrees like an emperor, "Discussion over,""You're killing my ideas," etc. If I wasn't at work, the most appropriate response to this would have been "FUCK OFF." 
Me [10:54 AM]:
I've actually had to help manage patients going back and forth with [Project Y] and [regular] care. It's not as easy as you'd like to think it is.
Coworker [10:54 AM]:
Are you serious?
Are you really serious?
Me [10:54 AM]:
Coworker [10:54 AM]:
Apparently you're not reading what I just wrote, and you're pissing me off
You want to continue and prod?
Emperor tactics yet again. Or wait, am I being treated like a child? Eh, it's probably both.
Me [10:55 AM]:
I don't understand what your problem is. [Project Y] isn't as easy to deal with as you seem to think it is.
Coworker [10:55 AM]:
I said conversation is OVER
Or should I write that in caps?
Decree! Decree! Decree! The option of not responding or just saying that I've got to get back to work on such 'n such isn't an option. Declaring your authority to DEMAND someone not respond to a statement you just made to them--on an instant messenger no less!--is quite galling and unbelievable. I can't recall when I've encountered such audacity. And let me be clear, I'm not talking about differing opinions. It's literally DECLARING "conversation is OVER." Not attempting to just extricate yourself from it, but declaring it over instead of just moving on...
Me [10:55 AM]:
doesn't matter to me
Coworker [10:56 AM]:
It does, because you won't stop
Me [10:56 AM]:
I don't think you understand the complexity of [Project Y].
Coworker [10:56 AM]:
Now stop
Bitch is dead to me.


And this is why I read nonfiction

I'm working on a magazine story about a woman who was fired from her job as president of Bennington College. I have read a story about her in The New York Times that says she's been fired--along with her husband, the vice president of Bennington--because of her brave stand against tenure. I suspect her firing has nothing to do with her brave stand against tenure, although I don't have a clue what the real reason is. I go to Bennington and discover that she has in fact been fired because she's been having an affair with a professor at Bennington, that they taught a class in Hawthorne together, and that they both wore matching T-shirts in class with scarlet A's on them. What's more, I learn that the faculty hated her from the very beginning because she had a party for them and served lukewarm lasagna and unthawed Sara Lee banana cake. I can't get over this aspect of journalism. I can't believe how real life never lets you down. I can't understand why anyone would write fiction when what actually happens in so amazing.
~Nora Ephron, "The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less," I Feel Bad About My Neck


Hair Dye

>> Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Many years ago, when Gloria Steinem turned forty, someone complimented her on how remarkably young she looked, and she replied, "This is what forty looks like." It was a great line, and I wish I'd said it. "This is what forty looks like" led, inevitably, to its most significant corollary. "Forty is the new thirty," which led to many other corollaries: "Fifty is the new forty," "Sixty is the new fifty," and even "Restaurants are the new theater," "Focaccia is the new quiche," et cetera.

Anyway, here's the point: There's a reason why forty, fifty, and sixty don't look the way they used to, and it's not because of feminism, or better living through exercise. It's because of hair dye. In the 1950s only 7 percent of American women dyed their hair; today there are no parts of Manhattan and Los Angeles where there are no gray-haired women at all.
~Nora Ephron, "On Maintenance," I Feel Bad About My Neck


I Feel Bad About My Neck

>> Sunday, March 15, 2015

I don't feel bad about my neck, but that is the title. Specifically, it's I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman. Still going through one of those phases where I'm reluctant to start reading Plagues and Peoples again since I'm worried I'm going to drag my feet reading it. So I read this, which I knew I would finish very quickly. And I did. I think this took me about 3 hours of reading time. Perhaps a little more but not much.

I put this on my reading list back when Nora Ephron passed away back in 2012 along with a few of her other books. I actually picked up a copy for less than a dollar at the Weber County Library book sale this past August. I feel like continually looking at the books in my book list paid off because I was able to spot it as something on my list because those books on sale are in unorganized messes. They weren't grouped in any kind of subcategory. It was just one section of nonfiction. When I was looking for books to get on the cheap, they were going to have to be something on my list, not something that looked merely interesting, which is why I can't understand people who were buying shopping cart loads of books. Why? Why would you need to have that many? Can't you just check them out of the library?

Anyhow, now that I've finished reading it, I've already put it on Amazon to sell. Hopefully it will. But I will say that it's sad that Nora Ephron will no longer be around to write. She just spits things out on paper making it sound like she's talking to you--observations that you or your friends may have mentioned--and then she elaborates on them so well.
Because here's what happens with a purse. You start small. You start pledging yourself to neatness. You start vowing that This Time It Will Be Different. You start with the things you absolutely need--your wallet and a few cosmetics that you have actually put into a brand-new shiny cosmetics bag, the kind used by your friends who are competent enough to manage more than one purse at a time. But within seconds, your purse has accumulated the debris of a lifetime. The cosmetics have somehow fallen out of the shiny cosmetics bag (okay, you forgot to zip it up), the coins have fallen from the wallet (okay, you forgot to fasten the coin department), the credit cards are somewhere in the abyss (okay, you forgot to put your Visa card back into your wallet after you bought the sunblock that is now oozing into the lining because you forgot to put the top back onto it after you applied it to your hands while driving seventy miles an hour down the highway). What's more, a huge amount of space in your purse is being taken up by a technological marvel that holds your address book and calendar--or would, but the batteries in it have died. And there's half a bottle of water, along with several snacks you saved from an airplane trip just in case you ever found yourself starving and unaccountably craving a piece of cheese that tastes like plastic. Perhaps you can fit your sneakers into your purse. Yes, by God, you can! Before you know it, your purse weighs twenty pounds and you are in grave danger of getting bursitis and needing an operation just from carrying it around. Everything you own is in your purse. You could flee the Cossacks with your purse. But when you open it up, you can't find a thing in it--your purse is just a big dark hole full of stuff that you spend hours fishing around for. A flashlight would help, but if you were to put one into your purse, you'd never find it.
Or, as my friend Katrina said more than 15 years ago about purses (while carrying a small purse): You never downgrade. You always upgrade to something bigger.

Although, I have graduated to a larger purse, aka a bag, I am able to keep mine rather neat. I only have a large purse/bag because I can fit a book and a water bottle in it. I can't imagine having one bigger than what I have now. Really, I can't and prefer to keep it that way.


Why the American media can be so sycophantic

>> Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Through its policy decisions--especially, though not only, decisions involving media regulation--the U.S. government can reward media companies that please it, punish those that don't. This gives private networks an incentive to curry favor with those in power. Yet because the networks aren't government-owned, they aren't subject to the kind of scrutiny faced by the BBC, which must take care not to seem like a tool of the ruling party. So we shouldn't be surprised if America's "independent" television is far more deferential to those in power than the state-run systems in Britain or--for another example--Israel.
~Paul Krugman, "The China Syndrome," May 13, 2003 [reprinted in The Great Unraveling]


The Great Unraveling

>> Saturday, March 7, 2015

Finally got to this one. I realized when I was reading this that I have had this for more than 7 years. At first, I thought it would have been 7 years this summer since I purchased it, but inbetween the pages was my receipt from December 10, 2007 with the purchase price of $6.95 (because it was a used book).

In a way, I was surprised that most of this turned out to still be a good read even though some of the columns/essays within are more than 15 years old. This is the paperback version that has essays from 2003 and 2004 after the initial hardback version was published. I'm glad I have that version because things would feel a little left out without those columns.

I vaguely remember reading a review of this book--I'm pretty sure it was this book and not one of Krugman's other books, which are collections of his New York Times columns--where the reviewer lamented that the columns should have been completely chronological, not divided into smaller sections. I can understand the reviewer's point, particularly since, at the time, the reviewer noted that it could be seen much easier how things were falling to pieces under George W. Bush. But reading this more than 10 years after its publication date, I really appreciated that his columns were sorted by topic first, then published chronologically. Had I read this 10 years earlier I might not have the same opinion, but it's harder to remember all the issues as they happened a decade ago and still follow everything along.

But even still, reading through this you can see how Krugman was right on when spotting things from the get go, such as who Bush was choosing as his economics advisers.

From "The Two Larrys," November 19, 2000:
The point is that Bill Clinton turned for advice to a strong, independent professional economist, who would have been an important player whatever his politics. Mr. Bush has turned to an economist whose career has been entirely associated with his political orientation. And more specifically, Mr. Lindsey's career has depended on the patronage of the Bush family.

So the younger Mr. Bush's decision to elevate Mr. Lindsey above the many Republican economists who do have reputations independent of their politics says something. Not, I think, that Mr. Bush is a fanatical ideologue himself--though Mr. Lindsey is much more partisan than any of Mr. Clinton's economists. Mainly, it says that Mr. Bush values loyalty above expertise, perhaps that he has a preference for advisers whose personal fortunes are almost entirely bound up with his own.
I don't remember Mr. Lindsey, but the "loyalty above expertise" remark is spot on. I can still remember when Bush selected his personal lawyer as a Supreme Court nominee--Harriet Miers--and everyone was just stunned since she would obviously be completely out of her depth on the court and no way would she ever make it out of her confirmation hearing unscathed.

In hindsight, it's unsurprising since we all know now how terrible the Bush Administration was. But tons of people couldn't admit it when it was happening, such as the California energy crisis.
From "In Broad Daylight," September 27, 2002:
But why did energy companies think they could get away with it?

One answer might be that the apparent malefactors are very big contributors to the Republican Party. Some analysts have suggested that the energy companies felt free to manipulate markets because they believed they had bought protection from federal regulation--the conspiracy-minded point out that severe power shortages began just after the 2000 election, and ended when Democrats gained control of the Senate.
Coincidence? I think not. And I think the above paragraph demonstrates why it's essential to have more than one political party.

The Bush Administration didn't care how things happened as long as they could get what they wanted. I can still remember living in Tacoma, and feeling some of the effects from the California energy crisis affecting Washington state. I was lucky that I lived in Tacoma and had electricity coming from a publicly-owned utility, not from a private company such as Puget Sound Energy where some people did have rate increases due to what happened to the South.

But the Bush Administration didn't care about that. From "Delusions of Power," March 28, 2003:
Another answer is that Mr. Cheney basically drew his advice about how to end the energy crisis from the very companies creating the crisis, for fun and profit. But was he in on the joke?

We may never know what really went on in the energy task force since the Bush administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep us from finding out. At first the nonpartisan General Accounting Office, which is supposed to act as an internal watchdog, seemed determined to pursue the matter. But after the midterm election, according to the newsletter The Hill, Congressional Republicans approached the agency's head and threatened to slash his budget unless he backed off.

And therein lies the broader moral. In the last two years Mr. Cheney and other top officials have gotten it wrong again and again--on energy, on the economy, on the budget. But political muscle has insulated them from any adverse consequences. So they, and the country, don't learn from their mistakes--and the mistakes keep getting bigger.
Here's another example of Krugman pointing that out from "The Reality Thing," June 25, 2002:
President George H. W. Bush once confessed that he was somewhat lacking in the "vision thing." His son's advisers don't have that problem: they have a powerful vision for America's future. In that future, we have recently learned, the occupant of the White House will have the right to imprison indefinitely anyone he chooses, including U.S. citizens, without any judicial process or review. But they are rather less interested in the reality thing.

For the distinctive feature of all the programs the administration has pushed in response to real problems is that they do little or nothing to address those problems. Problems are there to be used to pursue the vision. And a problem that won't serve that purpose, whether it's the collapse of confidence in corporate governance or the chaos in the Middle East, is treated as an annoyance to be ignored if possible, or at best addressed with purely cosmetic measures. Clearly, George W. Bush's people believe that real-world problems will solve themselves, or at least won't make the evening news, because by pure coincidence they will be pre-empted by terror alerts....

But back to the festering problems: on the economic side, this is starting to look like the most dangerous patch for the nation and the world since the summer of 1998. Back then, luckily, our economic policy was run by smart people who were prepared to learn from their mistakes. Can you say the same about this administration?

As I've noted before, the Bush administration has an infallibility complex; it never, ever, admits making a mistake. And that kind of arrogance tends, eventually, to bring disaster.
The above was from 2002, before the Iraq War had begun. Before Katrina. No one could hold them to account. It was literally like large parts of the Bush Administration only majored in Making Shit Up when they graduated from college. From "Stocks and Bombs," September 13, 2002:
In general it's a bad omen when advocates of a policy claim that it will solve problems unrelated to its original purpose. The shifting rationale for the Bush tax cut--it's about giving back the surplus; no, it's a demand stimulus; no, it's a supply-side policy--should have warned us that this was an obsession in search of a justification.

The shifting rationale for war with Iraq--Saddam was behind Sept. 11 and the anthrax attacks; no, but he's on the verge of developing nuclear weapons; no, but he's a really evil man (which he is)--has a similar feel.

The idea that war would actually be good for the economy seems like just one more step in this progression.
And things like that are why they made such good fodder for The Daily Show. But continuing on for a moment about the Iraq War from "Conquest and Neglect," April 11, 2003:
But there is a pattern to the Bush administration's way of doing business that does not bode well for the future--a pattern of conquest followed by malign neglect.

One has to admit that the Bush people are very good at conquest, military and political. They focus all their attention on an issue; they pull out all the stops; they don't worry about breaking the rules. This technique brought them victory in the Florida recount battle, the passage of the 2001 tax cut, the fall of Kabul, victory in the midterm elections, and the fall of Baghdad.

But after the triumph, when it comes time to take care of what they've won, their attention wanders, and things go to pot.
And they certainly did. Continuing on from "Dereliction of Duty," June 17, 2003:
A conventional war, on the other hand, is a lot more fun: you get stirring pictures of tanks rolling across the desert, and you get to do a victory landing on an aircraft carrier. And more and more it seems that that was what the war was all about. After all, the supposed reasons for fighting that war have turned out to be false--there were no links to Al Qaeda, there wasn't a big arsenal of W.M.D.'s.

But never mind--we won, didn't we? Maybe not. About half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now tied down in Iraq, facing what looks increasingly like a guerrilla war--and like a perfect recruiting device for Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, the real war on terror has been neglected, and we've antagonized the allies we need to fight that war. One of these days we'll end up paying the price.
And I would call that price ISIS. And the fact that we'll undoubtedly have to go back again probably next year. Well, we probably wouldn't HAVE to, but since the hawks in this country have never not had other people fight another war they didn't like, we probably will.

On a bunch of other topics in the book, I can still see plenty of relevance for today. From "The Long Haul," September 10, 2002:
Far more important, of course, is the question of law and civil liberties. Great democratic leaders have broken the rules in times of war: had Abraham Lincoln not suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1861, there would be no United States today. But the situation was extreme, and the lapse was temporary: victory in the Civil War brought a return to normal legal procedure. Can anyone think of an event that would persuade our current leaders that they no longer need extraordinary powers?

The point is that our new, threatened condition isn't temporary. We're in this for the long haul, so any measures we take to fight terrorism had better be measures that we are prepared to live with indefinitely.

The real challenge now is not to stamp out terrorism; that's an unattainable goal. The challenge is to find a way to cope with the threat of terrorism without losing the freedom and prosperity that make America the great nation it is.
Some of that is right out of the civil liberties battles of today, such as demonstrated by the Citizenfour documentary. NSA crap that is still ongoing and probably won't stop for the next few years at a minimum. That's not counting all the people on no-fly watch lists and other things either.

But his comments regarding the Bush tax cuts are still relevant to today since they're still in place, depriving the government of being able to do its job. From "Business As Usual," October 22, 2002:
Administration officials claim that the S.E.C. can still do its job with a much smaller budget. But the S.E.C. is ludicrously underfinanced: staff lawyers and accountants are paid half what they could get in the private sector, usually find themselves heavily outnumbered by the legal departments of the companies they investigate, and often must do their own typing and copying. Officials say there are investigations that they should pursue but can't for lack of resources. And the new law expands the S.E.C.'s responsibilities.

So what's going on? Here's a parallel. Since 1995 Congress has systematically forced the Internal Revenue Service to shrink its operations; the number of auditors has fallen by 28 percent. Yet it's clear that giving the I.R.S. more money would actually reduce the federal budget deficit; the agency estimates that it loses at least $30 billion a year in uncollected taxes, mainly because high-income taxpayers believe they can get away with tax evasion. So starving the I.R.S. isn't about saving money, it's about protecting affluent tax cheats.

Similarly, top officials don't really believe that the S.E.C. can do its job with less money; the whole point is to prevent the agency from doing its job.
You have to wonder even today, if the S.E.C. been properly financed would some of the collapse of 2008 been prevented. I don't think all of it could have been, but I do think some of it may have come to light sooner rather than later. But the I.R.S. being underfinanced is still affecting the U.S. I still remember saying to one of my friends that a bunch of societal and political problems could be fixed by a progressive tax system. She agreed. It's unfortunate that 10 years on from Krugman writing the following that the situation isn't any better, from "Red Ink Realities," January 27, 2004:
This decline in tax collections from the wealthy is partly the result of the Bush tax cuts, which account for more than half of this year's projected deficit. But it also probably reflects and epidemic of tax avoidance and evasion. Everyone who wants to understand what's happening to the tax system should read Perfectly Legal, the new book by David Cay Johnston, The Times tax reporter, who shows ideologues have made America safe for wealthy people who don't feel like paying taxes.

I was partially struck by Mr. Johnston's description of the carefully staged Senate Finance Committee hearings in 1997-1998. Senators Trent Lott and Frank Murkowski accused the I.R.S. of "Gestapo"-like tactics, and Congress passed new rules that severely restricted the I.R.S.'s ability to investigate suspected tax evaders. Only later, when the cameras were no longer rolling, did it become clear that the whole thing was a con. Most of the charges weren't true, and there was good reason to believe that the star witness, who dramatically described how I.R.S. agents had humiliated him, really was engaged in major-league tax evasion (he eventually paid $23 million, still insisting he had done no wrong).
People like that can still get away with that level of tax evasion because the I.R.S. is still without the resources to go after tax cheats. Ugh.

On a different note, I was glad to read this comment about public health, from "Paying the Price," September 16, 2001:
Last year Laurie Garrett, the author of The Coming Plague, followed up with a chilling book titled Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health. The story she tells is ominously similar to that of airport security: a crucial but unglamorous piece of our public infrastructure has been allowed to fray to the point of collapse--partly because we have relied on the private sector to do the public sector's job, partly because public agencies have been starved of resources by politicians busily posturing against "big government." Don't be surprised if it turns out that we have left ourselves as vulnerable to an attack by microbes as we were to an attack by terrorists, and for exactly the same reasons.
We are enduring a measles outbreak right now, but you have to wonder what things would be like if we had a flu going around that was of the same intensity of the flu pandemic of 1918. Would the anti-vaxxers be so fixed on their current rationales and strategies? It's something to think about since we probably going to have some kind of large-scale pandemic in the next 15 years.

But I think I have to end on a happier note, and for that I'll turn to Krugman on the Brits. From "Man on Horseback," May 6, 2003:
At first the White House claimed the dramatic tail-hook landing was necessary because the carrier was too far out to use a helicopter. In fact, the ship was so close to shore that, according to The Associated Press, administration officials "acknowledged positioning the massive ship to provide the best TV angle for Bush's speech, with the sea as his background instead of the San Diego coastline."

A U.S.-based British journalist told me that he and his colleagues had laughed through the whole scene. If Tony Blair had tried such a stunt, he said the press would have demanded to know how many hospital beds could have been provided for the cost of jet fuel.
Yeah, it's always funnier when it's not your leader, and the British media in some ways can be better than their American sycophantic counterparts.

But for proof that Krugman actually does write about economics, I offer this long quote from his former column at Fortune magazine ("Supply, Demand, and English Food," July 20, 1998:
For someone who remembers the old days, the food is the most startling thing about modern England. English food used to be deservedly famous for its awfulness--greasy fish and chips, gelatinous pork pies, and dishwater coffee. Now it is not only easy to do much better, but traditionally terrible English meals have been become hard to find. What happened?

Maybe the first question is how English cooking got to be so bad in the first place. A good guess is that the country's early industrialization and urbanization was the culprit. Millions of people moved rapidly off the land and away from access to traditional ingredients. Worse, they did so at a time when the technology of urban food supply was still primitive: Victorian London already had well over a million people, but most of its food came in by horse-drawn barge. And so ordinary people, and even the middle classes, were forced into a cuisine based on canned goods (mushy peas!), preserved meats (hence those pies), and root vegetables that didn't need refrigeration (e.g., potatoes, which explain the chips).

But why did the food stay so bad after refrigerated railroad cars and ships, frozen foods (better than canned, anyway), and eventually air-freight deliveries of fresh fish and vegetables had become available? Now we're talking about economics--and about the limits of conventional economic theory. For the answer is surely that by the time it became possible for urban Britons to eat decently, they no longer knew the difference. The appreciation of good food is, quite literally, and acquired taste--but because your typical Englishman, circa, say, 1975, had never had a really good meal, he didn't demand one. And because consumers didn't demand good food, they didn't get it. Even then there were surely some people who would have liked better, just not enough to provide a critical mass.


David Carr's Amazing Letter of Intent

>> Saturday, February 28, 2015

Beyond my professional and educational experience, I’d like to suggest that my steady history of outperforming expectations in every job I have had makes me worthy of consideration. I’m a thinker, a journalist and a writer but I am also a worker, an earner, and a good colleague. I am reflexively loyal and ferociously represent the interests of the people and institutions with whom I affiliate.

While my teaching experience has been episodic, I have consistently given freely of what has been given to me by others who have shown me the way. I was taught that truth matters, fairness matters, excellence matters. Those values are relevant even as the skills required to prosecute journalism morph to meet a changing media landscape. . .

My intent is to establish a line of academic inquiry in class that is both participatory and observational. Whenever I spend time with students, I emphasize that they have to make things. The employment marketplace is far less interested in a prospect’s grade point average than what he or she has created, which historically been a clip from the college newspaper, but now takes many other forms. Since the students and I would be spending three hours together each week, I’d like to establish a parallel track of media creation and distribution. Apart from providing object lessons in using tools at hand to make things, the production and execution would give me criteria to evaluate and grade students’ understanding of the subject matter. . . .

In spite of my lack of a steady teaching position, I believe I have some relevant skills from my time as an editor and reporter. I took the liberty of attaching some letters of recommendation that I solicited and am proud of the fact that many mention a consistent history of finding and mentoring exceptional young minds.

Should you and the committee decide that I meet the expectations for the position, please know that I would work with the students, faculty and leadership to ensure that the college’s reputation for academic rigor and practical excellence only grows during what I hope would be a long and fruitful association. . .
~David Carr, July 31, 2013


Why Germany Kant Kompete

>> Friday, February 27, 2015

A while back various versions of a fake European Commission document began circulating via e-mail. The memorandum argued that once a common European currency had been established, the obvious next step would be adoption of a common language. Practical considerations dictated that this language be English, with a few improvements. Thus, the memorandum suggested that the superfluous hard "c" be replaced with "k," eliminating one source of konflikt; that in order konfusion to avoid writers the verbs at the end of the sentence put should; and by the end of memorandum English had been transformed into German.

What gave the joke its edge was, of course, the presumption that the new Europe would be dominated by Germany. Not only is Germany the most populous nation of the European Union, but it has also traditionally had its most powerful economy. Indeed, since the early 1980s, Germany has effectively exercised monetary hegemony over its neighbors; the job of the Dutch, Belgian, even French central bankers was simply to follow the Bundesbank's lead.
~Paul Krugman, "Why Germany Kant Kompete," Fortune magazine, July 19, 1999 [reprinted in The Great Unraveling]

The quote is from an essay that is more than 15 years old. The main gist of that essay was Germany's then economic downturn, which is hard to imagine these days, but considering that Germany is basically the force behind Greece's likely exit from the Euro, it's still relevant reading. After Germany pushes out Greece, it'll be interesting to see if it tries to push out Spain and Portugal too.


A Vine of Lies

>> Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's just been one of those weeks. It just has. I know it's not even me. A configuration of forces going around just making everything annoying.

But ever since I moved to my new area--about 6 weeks ago--I have had to listen to idiots in the waiting room either listening to Fox News or having dumb shit spew out of their mouths. This week, I have heard:

And on and on and on. It's all stupid, dumbass shit. And unfortunately some of the people spouting this shit only believe it because there is a "news" channel that puts it out there, i.e. Fox News.

Fox News is full of lies, lies, and more lies. I'm just glad certain outlets still exist to call them on their bullshit without holding back because I'm still going to be stuck listening to idiots in the waiting room next week.



>> Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Finally got to see this last night on HBO. Didn't have time Monday night, plus I didn't want to be watching it when everyone else was in case the servers had problems. (Yeah, I know it's not Game of Thrones, but you never know.)

Watching it completely brought me back to the point in time when all of this happened. I started reading Glenn Greenwald back when he was at Salon. I stumbled across his first blog right before he started at Salon. I followed him over to The Guardian where I was able to still read him every day (mostly). I can still vaguely remember the Glenn's first post about this and kind of having my jaw drop. I say "kind of" because after reading GG for years, it wasn't a complete surprise that some of this was going on. His next posts were--I thought--more shocking. After reading the second or third article, I was pretty much convinced that the NSA can watch us through our webcams whenever they want, and after having watched the film that is probably correct.

I can still remember when Laura Poitras' interview videos were published, and Jeremy Scahill's "holy shit" reaction. Seeing Snowden before the interview--not in the grey dress shirt--and after when he gets prepared to depart the hotel room was quite interesting. I really got the sense that there was tension and worry in the room since they had to worry about electronic surveillance. And hearing that VoIP phones could be turned on as mics as listening It really does make you worry about anything being used to follow you at any time. My previous experience of VoIP phones were at work when we transitioned from regular phones to VoIP. They were annoying to use in case of power outages because I still remember a guy on my vanpool having to use his cell phone to call somewhere to tell them that his building was without power. Couldn't use the VoIP phone because it wouldn't work without power.

The ending in Russia does make me curious who GG's current source is. It sounds like it's someone high up in the Obama Administration. Who knows if we'll ever know who it is? And, of course, more articles are still being published such as one today on Canada's surveillance state.

I do find the Jyotish commentary that I've seen on Snowden--by James Kelleher and Edith Hathaway--to be quite interesting. Based on what they've had to say, I think it's safe to say that he will be a public figure regarding privacy and the internet for quite some time. We definitely haven't seen the last of him yet, even though he's still in Russia.

On an entirely different note, GG has such cute dogs!


Yeah, particularly that ice cream thing

>> Friday, February 20, 2015

If you follow trends in psychology, you know that Freud is out and Darwin is in. The basic idea of "evolutionary psych" is that our brains are exquisitely designed to help us cope with our environment--but unfortunately, the environment they are designed for is the one we evolved and lived in for the past two million years, not the alleged civilization we created just a couple of centuries ago. We are, all of us, hunter-gatherers lost in the big city. And therein, say the theorists, lie the roots of many of our bad habits. Our craving for sweets evolved in a world without ice cream; our interest in gossip evolved in a world without tabloids; our emotional response to music evolved in a world without Celine Dion. And we have investment instincts designed for hunting mammoths, not capital gains.
~ Paul Krugman, "The Ice Age Cometh," Fortune, May 25, 1998 [reprinted in The Great Unraveling]


Marley & Me

>> Monday, February 16, 2015

I was going to try and work through/finish Plagues and Peoples before picking up a different book, except I was getting nowhere with it on Friday when I had ample reading time. Time to ditch that for now and work through a bunch of easier books to read before I attempt it again. (Must strengthen those reading skills!)

I saw Marley & Me in the stack on Saturday and decided to give it a go. I finished it in two days. In fact, I would have finished it even earlier last night had my sister not called.

I picked this book up in the summer of 2008 before I left Tacoma. After finishing it in two days, I really wish I hadn't bought a copy. Should totally have checked it out of the library and saved $14 because I bought this as new paperback at the bookstore. The only benefit was that I was able to lend it out to my sister, who read it and gave it back to me. After reading it so quickly, I realize I shouldn't have waited so long to read it, even though I saw the movie beforehand seven years ago.

This book goes by so fast that I'm not sure there is a good way to summarize it. Couple buys puppy. Troubles ensue with puppy. Couple starts having kids; puppy still part of the family. Family moves to Pennsylvania from Florida. Puppy eventually gets old and has serious health problems. Puppy passes away. (I did start tearing up at his passing but not a full-fledged cry.)

I did enjoy reading about some of the peculiarities of Florida, such as Boca Raton. I've never visited there and have no desire to go. Of course, the book reaffirms the wonderfulness of dogs. I would like to have one someday, when I can afford it. However, I have no intentions of getting a lab unless he is an aging at the dog shelter. I do enjoy my doggy nephews when I do get to see them, so I'll just have to stick to enjoying other people's dogs for now.


Dispatch from The Island of Misfit Toys

>> Friday, February 13, 2015

Things I learned from the waiting room this week:

  • Hillary Clinton, if elected to the presidency, will bring forth the Anti-Christ.
  • Barack Obama doesn't qualify as a U.S. native-born citizen according to the League of Nations charter.
  • Barack Obama commits treason every day by being in office because he's not a citizen according to the League of Nations (same charter just mentioned above).
These statements--however paraphrased--all came out of the mouth of one gentleman. (I am NOT making this up!)

I suppose it's too bad that the guy who was wearing his "Hillary for President Precinct Captain" t-shirt came on the next day.


The Lord of the Rings

13 years! I finally finished in 13 years!

That would be off-and-on reading. I started back in 2002, after buying a copy when The Fellowship of the Ring came out in the theaters the prior December. I read off and on the first year. Read several chapters on a plane flying back to Tacoma from Chicago in spring of 2003.

But then I stopped. I think I may have picked it up once or twice in the years after that, but I certainly didn't get very far, probably just enough to finish The Fellowship of the Ring and get into The Two Towers. I don't recall attempting to read it again until summer 2012, where I made absolutely no progress.

Finally, this past December (2014), I picked it up again and made HUGE strides. I finished by reading from the middle of The Two Towers (just before the first half) to the end of the appendices.

What I think was most surprising--about reading this much of it at the end--was how quickly the pages went by, except why I was stressed about my mother's health. Compared to the last book I read (but didn't quite finish), reading LOTR was a breeze even though I knew how things were going to turn out. If I had read this before the movies had come out, this probably would have been a lightning fast read, even though it's a densely written 1,000+ page book.

Tolkien is a great writer. His prose makes me feel like I write like a fifth grader. I'm actually looking forward to reading The Silmarillion. I'm pretty sure I can get to it this spring.


The Bronze

>> Saturday, January 31, 2015

The main screen at Peery's Egyptian Theater in Ogden, Utah

This is the last time I'll be attending the Sundance Film Festival for the foreseeable future. Perhaps the last time ever actually.

Before tonight, I was actually kind of glad that this is going to be the last time. Ticket prices increased from $15 to $20, which is quite a bump considering the last price increase was from $12 to $15.

Last year, I saw two films: Camp X-Ray and Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart. For the Pamela Smart movie, which was later rebroadcast by HBO, I drove down to Salt Lake and saw it at the theater within the Salt Lake City Public Library. That was an interesting experience because there actually was a Q&A session with the filmmaker. I was able to see Camp X-Ray on MLK day since I had the day off. I still think the most memorable thing about seeing that was the three diehard Kristen Stewart fans sitting near me who were raving about the film and how it was already the THIRD time they had all seen it. That's THREE TIMES at a film festival where plenty of OTHER films are being shown. Although the kicker for me was that they all had press passes due to running Kristen Stewart fans sites. I never would have guessed the press pass standard was so low.

So this year when I discovered that tickets were going to be $20, I had to think and study the schedule to decide what and how many films I wanted to see. The festival wasn't falling on a MLK holiday weekend, so seeing anything on a Monday without taking the day off wasn't going to happen. Plus, I wasn't in the mood to see downer films because my mom was having knee replacement surgery, so I was going to be doing much more work around the house. But I heard that the U.S. dramatic competition was letting in a comedy. And that it was going to be the opening night film. And, even better, it was going to be playing in Ogden on a Saturday, so I wouldn't have to drive down to SLC or Park City to see something. I bought my one ticket for The Bronze.

The festival opened, and it got "mixed reviews." The one benefit of seeing films at a film festival is that I don't have to work on avoiding huge swaths of critical opinions or massive amounts of marketing before I see something. It's the closest I've ever been to walking into a movie with a blank slate. This is one benefit that forking out $20 for a ticket guarantees me.

And then, of course, I read about the sex scene. Again, I like seeing films--and enjoy them so much
Hope Greggory in The Bronze
more--when I don't have every detail splashed out for me before I even see it. So...before I even see the movie, there's a crazy ass sex scene that I can anticipate.

By the time I got to see the movie today, I admit that my expectations were kind of dashed. I've had some film experiences that weren't exactly stellar (Hesher). I was glad I was able to bring a friend along. But we were pleasantly surprised at the introduction of the film when the director was there. He mentioned that there was going to be lot more profanity than other films previously shown in this lovely theater probably had.

I'll admit that the beginning is a little slow.  Our protagonist (hero?) is a loser. I don't think I can emphasize that enough. Yeah, she won a bronze medal years ago, but she is now living in complete loserdom. And she is not easy to like. I think I kind of hated her in the first 20 minutes. But then her nemesis Lance Tucker shows up, and I started to root for her. I'm not going to detail the plot in anyway, but this movie reminded me A LOT of Young Adult. Although I think the biggest difference in those characters is that Hope grows up/matures where as Mavis Gary almost changes but then goes right back to being the way she was at the beginning. In fact, when I think about these two movies, I understand much less where the seemingly negative reviews are coming from for The Bronze.

Out of all the Sundance experiences I've had these past few years, this one was probably the best. The bonus was having a Q&A with the director and both writers. When asked about the soon-to-be-notorious sex scene, writer Winston Rauch referred to it as a "lyrical dance." The director, Bryan Buckley, made an excellent point that this film hasn't been screened by the MPAA yet. It's totally possible that what was shown at Sundance will be edited down when released this summer. I sure hope not. Like my friend said to me, the MPAA will probably force them to cut out any depiction of oral sex on a woman. Figures.

But here's the organist on the Wurlitzer playing the theme for Star Trek: The Next Generation right before the film's introduction.


Dispatch from The Island of Misfit Toys

>> Thursday, January 29, 2015

I like Fox News better than the others. It's unbiased.
~overheard in the waiting room


2014 Books

>> Sunday, January 18, 2015

It really feels like the above group of books never changes...
Another year gone and too few books read. *sigh*

I had hoped to be able to put images side by side in this post. However, with my move to a Mac, all my image manipulation experience in MS Paint is useless. Still trying to figure out using Preview on my Mac. Maybe there is another app I should be using instead? I have no idea.

Anyway, the above image is where I started the year in terms of my future book list.

Right below is everything I had finished reading by January 1st, 2014.

Finished by December 31, 2013.
I got so far in 2013 with reading books. I got NOWHERE in 2014. I solely blame the stress of my job and having to work with a complete idiot. Let me clarify, I worked with a complete idiot and a lazy idiot for a supervisor. All my stress came from working with TWO idiots, not one.

So this is what my finished book list looks like today:
I have finished reading all of these as of December 31, 2014.
Only 12 books read. One a month but nowhere near as many as I had hoped I would get through.
I endeavor to get at least 12 books read in the first 6 months of this year before I move. I'm doing pretty well so far since it looks like I'll finally finish reading The Lord of the Rings this month. All I need to do is finish a chapter a day, and it'll be done. Of course, I totally plan on reading while I'm at work because I can. I have no remorse about that because my work is ALWAYS done, so I literally only read because I have nothing else to do. There is only so much surfing the internet that I can do. (Although, I really should write a few emails to my friends.)

Here's my current pending list of books:
I actually am reading The Lord of the Rings right now!
  • The Lord of the Rings is almost done.
  • The Key of Life is about half done. I'll have to make a concerted effort to read that on my iPad on the way home one the bus after I finish LoTR. I don't think I ever want to read another book on my iPad or a digital reader ever again. I don't care if I had a regular Kindle. A physical book or bust!
  • Plagues and Peoples. I'll have to restart that after I finish LoTR.
Here's my future list of books (part 1):
Future Books (page 1)
I feel like there were SO many that I almost picked up, but the mental duress of working at The Island of Misfit Toys was just too burdensome. I think that after I finish Plagues and Peoples that I might pick up The Silmarillion, but I don't want to declare something too early. That and I think I jinxed myself last year.

But here's page two of my future book list:
Future Books (page 2)
I'm hoping that I'll at least get to Marie Antoinette. I know my sister might want to read it. But I am hoping that some of these on page two will make it to page one finally since they've been sitting in the same place for so long.


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