31 October 2006

Are you scared yet?

There's a good reason our elections always come around Halloween, because politicians do their damnedest to scare us out of our wits. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, who for years have been donning their Halloween costumes, pretending to be leaders, analysts, aviator-heroes, and in general looking out for our welfare, are still going strong, even if Cheney's ghoul costume is looking a bit ragged around the edges.

Here's Bush's latest scare tactic:
"However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses," Bush told a raucous crowd of about 5,000 GOP partisans...

Oh, I am so frightened. What exactly does it mean for the terrorists to win? I'd say the terrorists "won" the moment a hubristic Bush Administration set its sights on Iraq and patched together a pack of lies that Saddam Hussein had anything at all to do with 9/11. You'd have to say making the United States look stupid and brutal is certainly a point for the terrorists.

So do the terrorists -- and are these all the same people by the way? do they subscribe to the same goals? -- win if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq? Will Iraq become the "Terrorist Republic of Iraq"? Highly doubtful. In fact, you might argue that the terrorists will lose, because they will have lost their raison d'etre, and all their little thuggish tactics will lose the sheen of "resistance."

Does America "lose" by withdrawing from Iraq, or does America lose by continuing in the same failed policies that first led us into an illegal and unnecessary war and then failed to account for any sort of post-invasion Iraq, other than the Cheney-Rumsfeld pipe dream that the Iraqis would strew roses at our troops' feet. I mean, what sort of idiot-logic is that? Here's a scenario: The Chinese invade the United States to topple Bush and then build bases for their soldiers and start patrolling the streets -- oh yeah, and set up their own government full of Chinese government cronies. Perhaps in their misanthropic minds, Cheney and his ilk sit around believing that Democrats and other critics of BushCo would welcome with open arms this liberation at the hands of the Chinese, but I don't think too many normal people would share their perverted vision.

The Iraq War (#2) was started through lies emanating from the highest levels of the Bush Administration. Period. It was a mistake, and I would submit that Bush "lost" Iraq when he ordered the evidence to be manufactured, interpreted, and scrubbed to fit his foregone conclusion that Saddam Hussein needed to be removed.

Now if I get in the car and head in the wrong direction, let's say toward Atlanta when I'm really supposed to be going to Boston, it's really really stupid of me to insist that because I've already headed south I should keep going that way. Yet that's what BushCo keeps insisting we do. I assume the logic is that if your car were equipped with flotation devices and snow-skis, you could eventually reach Boston by driving the entire way around the fucking globe. Really. November 7 may not turn the car around, but hopefully it will slow its acceleration.

27 October 2006

Crime in the city.

What does it take to get convicted of bribery in the District of Columbia? Apparently it takes more than providing lavish gifts to a high-ranking city official who just happens to be providing you even more lavish gifts in the form of city leases worth several times the actual value of your properties. It even takes more than that city official pleading guilty to receiving bribes from you. Now that's where it gets interesting: since Douglas Jemal was "not guilty" of bribing Michael Lorusso, should Lorusso try to back out of his guilty plea of accepting "bribes"? After all, if the jury bought the idea that Jemal was simply providing gifts to someone he hardly knew but was in a great position to help him defraud the city government and its taxpayers, shouldn't Lorusso stand a pretty good chance of getting another jury of equally stupid individuals to acquit him of accepting these "non-bribes"?

Meanwhile, in the sad case of Princess Hansen, a juror was replaced during deliberations for relying on numerology to decide the case (it seems more likely the juror was simply trying to scuttle the case, as she apparently declared "she was the savior, there to force a mistrial"). Native Son has a good post on the lack of parenting involved in allowing your 14 year old to "date" a 28 year old and be out and about at 3 a.m.; aside from the abysmal display of parental interest in Princess Hansen's life, the fact remains that the trash who murdered her are still on trial and unlike Jemal, let's hope they face justice.

The root of the Princess Hansen story really is our throwaway society. In this city, a good segment of the population is considered throwaway, either working at jobs that offer nothing more than subsistence wages for the rest of their lives or not working at all because even those jobs are unavailable. This population is thrown into hellholes like the Sursum Corda Projects, and as Chuck D once intoned, "what is a project but another word for experiment?" You learn early on that you either need to keep your head down or jump in headfirst. Back in the 1940's Ann Petry wrote a brilliant novel called The Street that captured the daily dangers that confronted even a diligent parent; it helps readers understand why it is that seemingly simple solutions like "just move away" don't work as a mass solution. It also allows us to recognize that as dreary and neglected as slums are, the people who live there are diverse: some are strong, some are weak, some are good, some are evil, some are wise, some are fools.

However, by and large, this society considers "those people" interchangeable parts in a service economy and who really cares what the conditions are in the Projects so long as I get my #4 Value Meal hot and fresh?

26 October 2006

Your future dream is a shopping scheme.

We used to have this thing we revered. It was called the U.S. Constitution. Apparently, a sizeable chunk of Americans do not take the time to read the thing, nor do they really take it seriously as a guideline for civil society. According to a new CNN poll, a quarter of Americans do not think the Bush Administration has gone far enough in curtailing civil liberties.

I'm pretty scared to meet that 25% who are probably the same group of people who believe most of the Bill of Rights -- except of course the 2nd Amendment, which they'll swear up and down is God's own will -- is nothing but a liberal coddling of criminals.

The only good news to come out of the poll is that 39% of respondents believed BushCo had overstepped their bounds. The exact wording on CNN's cite is as follows: "39 percent of the 1,013 poll respondents said the Bush administration has gone too far [curtailing civil liberties]". That's a respectable percentage, but it's astounding to me that 61% of Americans have so little regard for the document upon which our government is based.

Oh well. As long as the malls are open and the shelves well-stocked, we don't need our rights, do we?

25 October 2006


Do you think Rush is back on the juice? Yesterday he went after Michael J. Fox, an actor who basically had to quit working regularly and rarely appears anymore because of his Parkinson's Disease. Since Fox had the audacity to get himself involved in a political campaign by appearing in a political ad, Limbaugh dropped the hammer:
"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease," Limbaugh told listeners. "He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act. . . . This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."

Limbaugh's comments show very clearly the utter mean-spiritedness of the "conservative" movement. My wife says it indicates a level of desperation the Republicans haven't felt in a while. I think Limbaugh ought to be happy if the Democrats retake the House and/or Senate: after all, he can run his "America Under Siege" theme like he did during the Clinton administration. Many of you might still remember those dark days when we weren't at war or threatening war with several countries and the country had a budget surplus (and really, why get so histrionic about a moderate Democrat -- it wasn't like Clinton actually was Progressive).

So now we have Rush Limbaugh -- a guy who did fake his medical problems in order to feed his addiction to pills -- calling out Michael J. Fox, whose Parkinson's Disease is well-documented. That my friends is shameless.

24 October 2006

Being here again, I can recall...

I'm wondering very much about our relationship to the past. Faulkner wrote that "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past." In his summation of Jay Gatsby's story, Nick Carraway observes, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." Fitzgerald and Faulkner were both Modernists and we all know the short version of Modernism: alienation from a fragmented world; retreat to the past and/or tradition; formal experimentation; etc.

However, I think the past plays an important role beyond Modernist yearning for a mythical wholeness or a more "pure" culture. Afterall, Shakespeare wrote "What is past is prologue." The Bard's simple phrase establishes the continuity of events, whether world-historical or personal (the Montague-Capulet feud was, of course, none of Romeo or Juliet's doing, yet they were certainly caught up in it).

We're always fighting over the past. The Right wants to lay claim to a certain interpretation of American history, as does the Left (although the Left generally talks in terms of "histories"). Immigration, a fact of this country since before its inception as the United States of America, is constantly under attack from Nativists and xenophobes and downright racists who hearken back to a unified past culture that never actually existed.

Marx argued that "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living."

So I've been stuck thinking about the past lately.

23 October 2006

weekend activity

It was homecoming up at PSU, and while I didn't take part in any festivities save go to the game, it was good to be back and to wear proudly my "Class of 1991" alumni pin. Damn I'm getting old.

Although to hear the moronic stadium announcer tell it during the halftime show, the majority of Alums were apparently 70 years or older. During the Alumni Band performance, the announcer read from his corny script: "We remember the dance craze that swept the nation...I'm talking about the Twist!"


Even from my lofty vantage point (see below), I could tell that most of the band members down there were probably between 35 and 50, and it'd be far more appropriate to have been playing something from the 1970's or 1980's even. How about "Tusk"? The regular band, in the meantime, plays Bon Jovi's 1986 hit "Living on a Prayer," a single from an album that was released before most of the undergrads were born.

Sure we were up high, and the wind made the temperatures something like 10 degrees colder than they'd been on the ground, but it was a good time even if Penn State played like crap. When Illinois at 2-5, including a home loss to Ohio, comes into your stadium and has a chance to win up until the last two minutes, you can't call it a good game.

PSU's remaining schedule: Purdue, Wisconsin, Temple, Michigan State. We CAN win all four; we SHOULD win three of four; we MIGHT win 2 of 4; we play like we did v. Illinois and we'll win one of four.

UPDATE: As much as I dislike Florida State and believe they're a bit dirty with their hitting, I think it's ridiculous that some Florida State boosters are calling for Bobby Bowden to retire. It's a travesty, and those boosters should be ashamed (however, from what I can tell, the big money boosters really have no shame at any school -- they think they run the show and at some schools, they do).

20 October 2006

Life and how to live it.

I saw an old friend the other day and we got to talking about the shifts
in our lives over the last decade: completion of dissertations, birth of
children, and a few other things. He used the term "initiatory
experiences" to indicate those events that couldn't be explained
properly in language: one has to live through them to understand them,
or more correctly one has to live through them to understand those
events not as objects for analysis but rather as lived experience.

I likened it to the perfrct example of Derrida's concept of differance
-- that slippage in language that prevents us from ever achieving a pure
transparency in communication. There is always something that escapes
definition. Which is not to say we shouldn't try to explain or
understand these experienced; it's just that we're better off
recognizing both the necessity and impossibility of our task.

We humans love cathartic experiences and arduous challenges that cannot
be understood outside their experience: running a marathon is not simply
the act of running twenty-six miles, right?

I have been absent...

Sorry for my absence. I've been in training and very busy learning exciting new things about computers. Therefore I haven't been able to write about all the exciting things happening this week, like the McCartney Divorce or other stuff. I will say I've been listening to conversations about the best DVR technology, LCD panel v. Projection big screen TV, and other shit that reminds me that people without kids have a hell of a lot more disposable income.

Here's my rundown of college football this weekend.
1. Ohio State v. Indiana. Ohio State at home means Indiana very very sad.
2. Michigan v. Iowa. Michigan will take it to Iowa in the Big House.
3. USC does not play.
4. WVU v. UConn. Please. WVU by thirty.
5. Texas v. (17) Nebraska. Shocker, yes, but Nebraska will win this game.
6. Louisville v. Syracuse. Even my high school alma mater could win v. Syracuse. Louisville wins.
7. Tennessee v. Alabama. Tennessee is very overrated, but Alabama still sucks. Tennessee wins.
8. Auburn v. Tulane. Auburn stomps all over Tulane. Tuberville continues to whine.
9. Florida does not play.
10. Notre Dame v. UCLA. It's in South Bend, but I say UCLA beats the Irish.
11. Cal v. Washington. Look for Washington to steal a win in Berkeley.
12. Clemson v. (13)Georgia Tech. In Clemson, Clemson wins.
14. LSU v. Fresno State. Fresno State is having a down year. LSU escapes with a win.
15. Arkansas v. Mississippi. Arkansas wins.
16. Oregon v. Washington State. Oregon wins again.
18. Boise State v Idaho. Boise State.
19. Rutgers v. Pitt. It's in Pittsburgh. Pitt stops Rutgers dead.
20. Oklahoma v. Colorado. Oklahoma.
21. Wisconsin v. Purdue. Wisconsin in a rout.
22. BC at Florida State. BC rocks FSU back to the stone age.
23. Texas A&M at OK State. Texas A&M over this hapless team.
24. Missouri v. K-State. Missouri regroups and beats K-State in a closer than it should be game.
25. Wake Forest does not play and should not be ranked.

16 October 2006

Hail to the Toughskins.

I knew I would have a good day when I read the lead below in the Washington Post:
As the last desperate pass of another lost afternoon wobbled into the hands of Tennessee Titans safety Lamont Thompson for an interception, some 88,000 people rushed for the FedEx Field exits at once. Loyalty was a casualty of the Washington Redskins' ineptitude in the second half, and as a sellout crowd made its way to the parking lots, the home team in last place in the NFC East, the sound of protest came in the form of loud and prolonged boos.

Of course, the Post continues to refer incorrectly to the team from Landover, Maryland, as the Washington [sic] Redskins, but still Dan Snyder's vanity project has fallen yet again. The article is also incorrect to indicate that somehow this loss will affect crowd loyalty. 88,000 morons will continue to purchase Deadskins tickets, pay for parking, etc., to fill diminutive Dan Snyder's coffers. Sports is yet another arena where the common free-marketeer wisdom that "better products prosper" is shown to be a dreamy bit of wishful thinking, the fluff so many mirages and so much bad policy is made of (of course, it must also be noted that the NFL as a de facto monopoly is not exactly the best example of the free market either, but I'll use it).

Loyalty to your college or high school team I understand. After all, you spent the better part of your formative youth in those places. For colleges especially, your school's sports teams are often the most prominent visible symbols of your alma mater.

With the Pros, however, it's an entirely different matter. These are businesses that can pack up and go in the middle of the night, as Baltimore Colts fans discovered one morning a few decades back. They have no real connection to anything except a spreadsheet, and thanks to commodity fetishism, it's highly unlikely that the bottom line will be adversely affected to any great degree out in that blessed plot of land once known as RalJon.


13 October 2006

This was too good to pass up...

Republican Representative Bob Ney, another of Jack Abramoff's pawns, has pled guilty to bribery, but he didn't resign his seat in Congress. It's true that if you forced all criminals out of Congress we'd have a pretty empty house, but you'd think convicted criminals would have the decency to resign, especially if their crimes involved selling their offices (as opposed to something more mundane, like drunk driving or shoplifting). Here's the kicker, though. Ney's got good reason to keep his seat for as long as he can:
Ney did not resign his seat. Several officials have said the congressman is financially strapped and needs his $165,200 annual paycheck and benefits as long as he can continue to receive them.

Great. So we get to continue to foot the bill for this crook until Congress can get back in session and expel the convict. One thing's sure: with Fat Boy Hastert on the hot seat he'll feel compelled to do something about all the criminals under his wing. In fact, he's already claiming swift action:
Ney's lawyer, Mark Touhey, told the judge he would resign before sentencing on Jan. 19. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and other Republican leaders said he would be gone far more quickly than that.

We'll see. It probably all depends on what the midterm elections bring, but it seems every day brings another domino falling on its face.

It's Friday, I'm tired of being outraged.

It's Friday again. Time to make fun of some teams. Speaking of which, it was delightful to read in the paper this morning that Virginia Tech mustered all of 3 points against unranked Boston College. For all you Hokies out there, the phrase is "flash in the pan."

On to the serious business of explaining why it is that while all indications are that Michigan will maul Penn State tomorrow, I believe Penn State will win.

OK. There is no rational explanation for that. However, I will be ever hopeful that the PSU offense will finally get it together against a good team and that we will beat those nasty weasel relatives tomorrow.

As for the games in the top 25:
1. Ohio State v. Michigan State. MSU could be leading by 20 at the half and OSU will still win. OSU won't make it that interesting as they rout the Spartans.
2. Florida v. (11)Auburn. Auburn will rebound against an overrated Florida team.
3. USC v. Arizona State. USC in a walk.
4. Michigan v. Penn State. Heart not brain calls this one for PSU.
5. WVU v. Syracuse. WVU in a rout.
6. Texas v. Baylor. Texas in a rout over yet another cupcake.
7. Louisville v. Cincinnati. Louisville won this the moment it was scheduled.
8. Tennessee does not play.
9. Notre Dame does not play.
10. Cal v. Washington State. Cal in a tighter game than one might think.
12. Clemson v. Temple. Already played, but would anyone have picked Temple aside from Bill Cosby?
13. Ga. Tech doesn't play.
14. LSU v. Kentucky. LSU wins.
15. Iowa v. Indiana. Iowa steamrolls this doormat.
16. Georgia v. Vanderbilt. Georgia chokes perennial punching bag Vandy.
17. Arkansas v. Southeast Missouri State. Who? Arkansas wins.
18. Oregon v. UCLA. It's at Oregon and UCLA's QB is out. Oregon and their ugly uniforms win.
19. Missouri v. Texas A&M. I don't think Missouri's for real. Texas A&M by 10.
20. Boise State v. New Mexico State. Boise state wins.
21. Nebraska v. K-State. It'd be nice to see K-State win, but I believe Nebraska will triumph.
22. VA Tech v. BC. Already played, and so Va Tech bids farewell to the top 25...
23. Oklahoma v. Iowa State. Oklahoma makes it look easy.
24. Rutgers v. Navy. Navy wins. Navy wins.
25. Wisconsin v. Minnesota. Wisconsin wins big.

I was 11-5 last week. I don't care if I only pick one game correct this week, so long as it's the Michigan v. PSU game...

12 October 2006

Individual Rights v. Society

It's one of the oldest questions of human cultures, right? Where exactly do we draw the line between the individual's rights and the needs of society. In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud basically argues that when humans established civil society -- a set of rules that more or less ensure basic safety (e.g. despite crime rates, it's reasonable to assume we won't be murdered, robbed, burgled, assaulted, etc., on a regular basis), we gave up complete freedom; which in Freud's lingo means we restrained the Id, and since the Id is pretty much insistent on getting its way, we have to come up with means of repression, displacement, transference, and projection to deal with the difference between Id's desire and these rules.

In the United States, we tend to like simple sayings like, "That government is best which governs least," as Thoreau would have it, and we are highly suspicious of government's reach into so-called private aspects of life, such as the family, religion, and lifestyles. Elegant sayings, however, rarely stand on their own, but rather collapse under the weight of several often conflicting interpretations.

We have often ascribed to the family a certain amount of latitude in terms of child-raising. For instance, nowhere is it decreed by the state that a child should eat three square meals a day, watch only one hour of television per day, or attend a public school. In fact, the family is the frontier of the individual v. the state, because while the individual confronts the state alone, the family confronts the state with a subset that has its own hierarchy. For instance, within the traditional family, the father is the head of the household and more or less sets the rules of conduct within that family. Parents often respond strongly and angrily to another adult -- let alone a representative of the state -- interfering with their behavior toward their own children.

Of course, this openness has its limits, as one man in Florida recently found out. Apparently your neighbors and the State frown upon such "disciplining" as this man was doling out to his 9 year old son:

During the past three years, the boy has not attended school, received medical attention or had contact with people outside his family, Smith said. The police report said he was home schooled but could not read children's books.

The state Department of Children & Families took the boy from the home, sheriff's spokesman Ken Jefferson said.

Relatives told police that the boy was usually allowed to use the bathroom once a day because his father was teaching him to control his body.

It's stories like these that remind me that while you need a license to drive, a license to get married, a license to hunt, and a license to own a dog, you don't need any sort of certification whatsoever to prove your fitness to procreate. And really I don't see any way around that...can you imagine the government doling out licenses to have children? It'd be like Gattaca except without the stylish cinematography.

However, it's sickening to watch losers like Mr. Piercy fall back on the old saw that he was actually protecting his child:
As officers walked him into jail, he said he was wrongly accused and was the victim of a vendetta by his in-laws. He told police he kept the child in the room because he "believed it was in the best interest of the child," Smith said.

Nowhere is it in the best interest of any child to be turned into some sicko's fantasy of a Skinner Box. His wife, who has to be just as fucked up as this psychopath, agrees that it for the boy's protection, and is apparently so shitheaded that she thinks it's normal or even acceptable operating procedure to have your husband restrict access to your own child: "her husband only let her see the boy at certain times and usually for an hour a day."

Lady, you are just as lost as your husband.

My solution is that both of them spend the rest of their lives in a new penal colony that I'd like the United States to set up. I'll call it "Florida," and to make everything more convenient, the Piercy's wouldn't even have to relocate: like most sex offenders and child abusers, they already live there.

10 October 2006

Usually history takes a little time before repeating...

In this case, however, the House Speaker, Dennis Hastert, has followed in the footsteps of the President who would give Tricky Dick a run for his money as far as cover-ups are concerned. Hastert has announced that he will "fire anyone" who has covered-up the Foley issue. It seems eerily reminiscent of Bush's bold announcement that he would "fire anyone" involved in the Valerie Plame leak...then it turned out Karl Rove and Dick Cheney were involved and Bush couldn't follow through: in Rove's case because Rove is Bush's Brain and in Cheney's case, well, you can't really fire your boss.

So Hastert might want to start with himself. Afterall, Hastert claimed at the beginning that he hadn't known about Foley's activities until this past week. Then it came out that he knew about them in the spring of 2006, at which point he backtracked and claimed that he only knew of the more vanilla emails and not the really exciting ones. Since then, of course, numerous aides, staffers, and even other representatives have come forward implicating Hastert and/or his office in much earlier knowledge of the Foley scandal.

At what point did Hastert determine it was more important to squash the Foley issue than it was to come clean? In other words, when did holding onto power become more important to him than faithful service to the American people? Or perhaps in his pedophile-protecting mind the two issues intertwined: "In order to serve the American People, I must hold onto power, no matter what cost."

Cover-ups nearly always fail. Sometimes it takes a long time for them to unravel; Hastert's office apparently knew as early as 2000 about the Foley issue. However, inevitably, the cover-up comes to the open and then your place in history is assured. Hastert will not be remembered as the man who led the House through several really boring years of doing little constructive (and perhaps he will be lucky enough not to be remembered as the man who helped rob the Republicans of their label as "fiscal conservatives"), but rather as the man who tried to use the authority of his office to aid and abet sexual predators...not exactly a high calling.

Now Clinton, we recall, was impeached and acquitted for having sexual relations with an intern (who unlike Mr. Foley's targets was not underage) -- and the Republicans can scream all they want about how it was about lying under oath, but let's be serious: it was for the Monica Lewinsky scandal and nothing else -- so I wonder if Hastert may find himself hoisted on his own petard. Highly doubtful if Republicans maintain control of the House. Doubtful even if they lose control, because the Democrats are world-class weenies.

Foley, for his part, has been very quiet on the subject. Hastert is probably hoping like hell that Foley either keeps his mouth shut or ends up dead, because the house of cards is teetering precariously.

Goodbye Columbus.

So yesterday we celebrated that faux holiday, Columbus Day, by visiting the zoo. I say faux holiday not to cast aspersions on that explorer who never once set foot in what has become the United States of America, but rather to note that while DCPS and some other organizations apparently observe the holiday, my workplace does not and so I had to take a vacation day.

The zoo visit was fun except for one creepy event: outside the invertabrate house we ran into a family of right-wing survivalists who will most likely in ten years be holed up in their rural West Virginia "compound" awaiting the coming race war. Or the black helicopters from the UN. All the women in the group -- from the wife (or wives, who knows) on down to the littlest one -- wore those singularly frumpy blouses with long dull skirts that immediately identifies the group as fucked up right wing wackos.

The father was either military or wanted to be. Survivalist is more like it. Freaky military, not like normal but rather the kind of look that gets you cast as the sadistic drill sergeant or uptight recruit who goes crazy and shoots everyone up (think the end of Taps). Speaking of crazy, his sons, ranging in age from about 12 to maybe 6, were all dressed in camoflage. One was carrying a canteen. Maybe his dad had told him he might run into some "coloreds" down in DC and they'd better be prepared.

Anyway, I let them go their way before we decided on ours because god knows I didn't feel like touring the zoo with the travelling troupe of "Ruby Ridge Revisited." As far as the animal exhibits go, I can say I was quite disappointed in the butterfly house, because it seemed to me that only about five butterflies were in there, and the high point of the day was that my son got to examine the shell from a lobster that had recently moulted and then to watch closely as the zoo staffer fed the lobster a shrimp.

That and the two kids both climbing around through the giant habitrail beside the prairie dog exhibit.

08 October 2006

Recap on the quick picks and then some.

So I ended up 11-5 on my college picks. I was happy to get the Auburn v. Arkansas game wrong; it's always good to see a loudmouth coach getting trounced by an unranked team. Florida made me look very very bad, as did Texas. I guess that's what I get for talking shit about them.

As for the pros, the only game I even cared about -- and that's stretching the definition of caring -- was the deadskins game, and it turned out as I wished. The best part about having the foreskins lose is listening to talk radio afterwards, because you'd think the seventh seal had just been broken and the apocalypse was upon us. Moreover, these fools talk like the toughskins are somehow Washington's team. Hello, they play in Laurel, Maryland. Laurel. It might as well be Baltimore, except Baltimore actually has a team.

Today was a beautiful day to get out of the house and check out the world, which I tried to do, but first I wanted to buy a new camera to replace the one that got broken a few weeks ago. I went to the Best Buy in Tenleytown and they were all out of the one and only model I wanted. I went to the Best Buy in Potomac Yard (aka Alexandria), and they were also sold out of it. I walked down the box store row to Target and guess what -- their selection of digital cameras has shrunk to about a third of their former stock and they didn't have a single camera I was interested in. So after wasting around one and a half hours, the kids and I dragged ourselves to the National Gallery, where last week sippy cups for babies were welcome. This week they weren't.

Tomorrow I hope will go better.

06 October 2006

The Friday post about college football.

Sure, Penn State is having a mediocre year, having lost a very good game to Ohio State and played miserably against Notre Dame. However, we have beaten powerhouses Akron, Youngstown State, and Northwestern. Now we head to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota.

But enough about Penn State. Let's talk about things I don't like. Like Texas. And Texas A & M. Seriously, who the hell is A & M and why are they still in Division I-A? Apparently their big tradition is to light everything on fire the night before a big game in a symbolic representation of conspicuous consumption. Such staged displays of "spirit" pale in comparison to the more spontaneous displays that were a Morgantown tradition in the 1980's and 1990's (and who knows, maybe still today): setting fire to old sofas after they managed to beat a decent team.

As for Texas, well, they had their year and now we can all go back to ignoring them as also-rans. They're an impressive 4-1, beating the mighty teams from North Texas, Rice, Iowa State, and Sam Houston State (which I think is a correspondence school), but they were walloped by the only good team they played. Luckily for them, they play in the Big 12, which means they won't have to face another quality opponent until a bowl game, if then.

For kicks, I'm going to tell everyone the outcomes of tomorrow's games in the top #25:
1. OSU v. Bowling Green. I think OSU's 1st quarter points will be enough to ensure the victory.
2. Auburn v. Arkansas. Auburn. Auburn has one quality win; Arkansas has none. Still, it'd be nice to see Arkansas beat Auburn just to shut Tuberville up.
3. USC v. Washington. USC. If it were in Washington, I'd pick Washington.
4. WVU does not play.
5. Florida v (9) LSU. LSU will beat this vastly overrated Florida team.
6. Michigan v. Michigan State. No one chokes like Michigan State. Michigan wins.
7. Texas v. (14) Oklahoma. OK really should be 4-0; Oklahoma in a rout.
8. Louisville v. Middle Tennessee State. Louisville.
10. Georgia v. (13) Tennessee. Who really cares, but Georgia will win.
11. Oregon v. (16) California. Cal beats the Ducks.
12. Notre Dame v. Stanford. I'd love to see winless Stanford beat Notre Dame, but it won't happen.
15. Clemson v. Wake Forest. Clemson.
17. Florida State v. NC State. NC State. OK that actually happened already.
18. Georgia Tech v. Maryland. G-Tech. Friedgen's 15 minutes are long past.
19. Iowa v. Purdue. Iowa.
20. Boise State v. Louisiana Tech. Boise State.
21. Virginia Tech doesn't play. Beamer, see note on Friedgen.
22. Nebraska v. Iowa State. Nebraska rolls over this team.
23. Missouri v. Texas Tech. Texas Tech.
24. Rutgers does not play.
25. Boston College does not play.

05 October 2006

Mr. Speaker, the Getaway Plane is fueled and ready.

Anyone out there laying odds that Hastert resigns as Speaker of the House?

Is there an over-under on a "Before or After Election" pick?

This dirtbag apparently was playing the part of Cardinal to Foley's Wayward Priest.

Hell, even the Washington Times is calling for his resignation.

04 October 2006

Only partially explored and not entirely an explanation.

There are some sick f*cks in this world, and I'm not talking about the war criminal currently sitting in the Oval Office. What sort of loser motherf*cker takes schoolchildren hostage to enact "revenge" for something he himself did twenty years ago? If only I believed in hell I could take comfort knowing there's a special corner for child killers. Unfortunately, all we get is a shithead piled under six feet of dirt or scattered to the winds.

We've had a rash of school shootings recently and the similarities between this one in Pennsylvania and the recent one in Colorado are too eerie for words. In both cases, the killers were not fellow students, but rather older men choosing a school as a target. In both cases the killers took female hostages and in both cases attempted to or did molest the hostages.

I would submit that these sick fucks are symptoms of a culture that on the one hand sexualizes children and on the other hand values purity or virginity; a culture that still maintains on many levels (although not officially) the primacy of the male and a patriarchal structure that inherently treats women as objects for male consumption. I am reminded very much of the movie American Beauty, in which Kevin Spacey's character sexualizes and seduces his daughter's friend (played by Mena Suvari) up until the point at which he's going to consummate the seduction -- and then he realizes that she's actually innocent whereas he had believed she was active sexually.

Spacey's character, Lester Burnham, stops at that moment. He pulls back from the situation and of course later meets his death at the hands of a closeted military careerist neighbor, but the point is that Burnham had been consumed with the popular imagination of teenagers in general and the teenage female in particular (see for example MTV...) and it was not until he encountered the Other in her specificity that he understood the difference between the stereotype of the whole and the specificity of the one. He is to that extent a success story (as are most people), whereas the school hostage takers are not. They are failures. It's just terribly unfortunate that they couldn't have made the decisions to kill themselves before they had to inflict so much pain on their victims and their victims' families.

03 October 2006

Slouching toward November.

The Republicans have been tripping over themselves so hard, only a dead idea party like the Democrats could make this election close. First you had Abramoff; then Cunningham; then George Allen's racist ass comes out (and George, when your base consists of racists like yourself, it's not good to be forced to acknowledge your Jewish heritage); and then Foley's Follies and Hastert's attempted cover-up come out. And behind all of that lurks the miserable failure that is Bush's vanity project: the Iraq misadventure.

You'd think the Dems would be killing these guys. Unfortunately, they don't have any real vision for America except to say that they would not be the Republicans. It used to be that you could count on the Democrats to be behind grand plans, but my friends, the New Deal is 70 years ago.

The last big idea the Democrats had was Bill Clinton's abortive attempt at health care reform. How many people remember when Clinton held up a little card that symbolized the idea of a national health insurance card and then hung Hillary out to dry after it turned out some very vocal big spenders were against it (hello insurance industry shills)? That debacle enforced the notion that Democrats were fearful, directionless, shitheads.

So I don't look to the Dems as the saviors of the nation. However, while the Dems are directionless, the Republicans are pure evil, and at the very least a Democratic resurgence in the House and/or the Senate will stem the tide of idiocy emanating from a Party that has had no check on its power since 2000.

Who knows, if a President can be impeached for getting a blow job maybe a Democratic Congress might try to impeach a President for war crimes.

I have my doubts.

02 October 2006

It was a tremendous early fall weekend in the District.

OK. This place has been open for a few months now, but I finally got down there yesterday and I was amazed. The Smithsonian's American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery are really worth the trip, and they'll be even better once the special exhibitions open up so you can actually enjoy the museum as it was designed, in a square that allows you to go from end to end without having to double-back.

I was very impressed with the contemporary art layout -- a nice open space that doesn't seem like a warehouse (sorry, but that's how both the Baltimore Museum's contemporary area and the L.A.'s MOCA felt to me -- as much as both of those are still amazing museums). My son particularly enjoyed the folk art area, especially "Devil in a Casket with She Devil and Evangelist," pictured below:

My daughter was most impressed with the echo that her voice could make in the halls, especially if she shrieked at her highest pitch.

They've combined sculpture, painting, and furnishings in several sections that provides a very different feel from, say the National Gallery of Art's West Wing, where sculpture is mainly confined to the basement. Walking through the gilded age section, for example, provides the visitor with a chance to see several components of the aesthetic movement all at once so as to get a real sense of the "lifestyle" desired by the practitioners and patrons of the movement.

We followed that up by a trip to the fountain at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, which to my mind is the closest I've come to feeling that I'm not in DC but rather in a foreign city. It's hard to explain that sense, but perhaps it's the trees cutting off the view of the massive buildings surrounding the garden or the couples and families and friends sitting together on the benches talking or reading or just in contemplation, but there's a cloistered yet friendly feel to the place.