Sunday, December 14, 2003

Saddam Hussein

Like everyone else, I woke up to the good news today that Saddam Huseein had been caught. And it is good news. It surprised the snot out of me, to be sure, but on thins particular issue it felt kinda nice to be surprised.

I still think it's premature to backpedal on anything I've previously thought or said about te war, but I do think the next few months should prove very interesting in light of this weekend's events. Most immediately, it should enliven the current election campaigns of the various Democratic candidates. At least it will give them new things to yell at each other about. Lately they've all bored the hell out of me. Maybe they'll be a bit more amusing for a few weeks anyway.

But I digress.

Like I said, it's still to early to see whether or not this justifies the whole effort in Iraq. I'll admit that it's nice to see that something seems to have gone right. I said it before in the spring, this is one case where I'd be more than pleased to be proved wrong about a lot of different things.


Saturday, November 22, 2003

Jonathan Brandis

I received some distubing news yesterday. Not the kind that will fundamentally alter your life, but the kind that will definitely put a damper on the morning. I read that an actor who I once adored in the bygone days of junior high school took his own life at the age of 27, and it bummed me out a bit.

For those of you who never committed the filmography of Jonathan Brandis to memory at any point in the last ten years, his most standout role was in the oddly capitalized seaQuest DSV.
This was a show that was basically Star Trek underwater -- with a talking dolphin. It was terrible. I taped every episode. I also had my very benevolent parents schlep me to the Philadelphia Convention Center to stand in line for 2 hours for thirty seconds of contact with Mr. Brandis at the car show. My 13-year-old friends and I had a secret society called the Brandettes. And I've officially said too much.

It's easy to assume that Jonathan Brandis killed himself due to a failure to come to terms with fleeting celebrity, but nobody seems to know (or, sadly, care) what the reason was. It may have been for any one of the other completely retarded reasons that people usually choose to snuff it. Whatever the case, it's a sad story and I figure that if I could devote a good year or two of my pre-pubescent life to this poor guy, I could give him 15 minutes of mention in my post-collegiate website.


Saturday, November 8, 2003


I saw the movie Lost in Translation today, and it was very good. It stars Bill Murray as a guy having a midlife crisis in Tokyo, and it features some very nice post-punk, new wave songs from the late 70s and early 80s, which is always a nice thing.

One thing I took away from it was a confirmation of my feelings about Tokyo. I tend to think of Tokyo the same way as a lot of people think of New York. It's the kind of place I'd like to visit for about a day and then want to leave immediately due to sensory overload. Jeffrey said it looked like Times Square on speed, which is fairly accurate. I imagine that living there would be akin to having a syringe of adrenaline injected straight into your brain.

Anyway, Lost in Translation is a fine funny movie. If you can find a place that's still playing it, I'd highly recommend seeing it.


Saturday, October 11, 2003

Alex Halderman: Scourge of the Personal Technology Industry

It's not every day that one of your good friends gets his name thrown about in the national media and causes a rather large company to lose $10 million. But that's what happened to my pal Alex. I couldn't be more proud.

For a few years now, Alex has been working one way or another with anti-copying technology for the music industry. Recently, he discovered that a highly-touted technology available from SunnComm Technologies can be bypassed by simply holding down the Shift key. SunnComm was among the first to introduce CDs that they claimed could not be copied. Alex found otherwise, and published his report on his site. Someone from Reuters found the report, published it, and before you know it Alex is on the front page of, the company's stock goes down 36%, and lawsuits are threatened. It's fun to watch the progressions. Here's a few links for those who are curious:

Alex's report

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Hattening Down the Batches

We had a visit from Ms. Isabel yesterday, and the DC area is returning to normal at a rather brisk pace. At least the good folks at Express have decided to open up today and call in all regularly scheduled workers. What models of diligence and efficiency they are.

It didn't turn out to be as bad as it could have been, but watching the storm last night I could admit that a lot of the concern wasn't unwarranted. We were homebound the entire day, and although we never lost power completely, the lights did flicker quite a bit and a lot of other people in the area weren't as lucky. I know that Fairfax County, VA has to boil its water today.
Really the only casualty here was the loss of our cable and a downed tree in the parking lot that very probably will ruin the day of the owner of a small maroon car.

Otherwise, things are, well, constant if nothing else. Job interviews are scheduled, as are shifts and tasks for various already-held jobs. Busy, busy, etc.



I have lived in the biggest city in America. I have seen the crowned heads of Europe. I have had a Shamrock Shake in the biggest McDonald's in Dublin.

But I have never been to a karaoke bar. Never that is, until last Friday.

What a crazy, jacked-up tradition that is. I'm not sure who I respect/am worried by most: the people who get up to the mike or the people who continue to play pool calmly as though there wasn't a skinny white kid named Shanon rapping "The Humpty Dance" ten feet behind them.
But lest you think that I fancy myself above all this, I say here and now that I did indeed rock the mike myself. Or, more accurately, I mumbled to, shivered behind, and very carefully cradeled the mike until my five hellish minutes of Elvis Costello's "Alison" were over.

I'm told I didn't do too badly, but getting up to do karaoke when I'd sobered up way earlier than I thought I would is one of the more terrifying thing I've done.

For the record, Jeffrey was 100% sober, and cheerfully did four songs. So perhaps my viewpoint is a limited one.

I may do it again, but it'll take a little more help from my friend Budweiser before I do.


Friday, September 12, 2003

And How Have you Been?

Updates in brief

Mid-August: Just before wrapping up internship, Robyn travels to Maine for wedding of second cousin and general family reunion. Activities include playing Scrabble, reading new Harry Potter, eating pie and lobster, listening to Grandfather talk about books, pie and lobster; and attending a picturesque wedding in the woods. Momentary loss of dignity occurs when a flock of turkeys spotted en route to aforementioned wedding causes considerable excitement.

September 6: Robyn goes to Red Hot Chili Peppers concert donning uncharacteristic satin black bustier and dangly chain belt -- the better to fit in with the people who identify most with the genre known as "rock." Excellent seats were obtained, an excellent time was had, and it was discovered that Manassas, Virginia is in fact, "Way the Hell out there."

September 11: Robyn starts the day in a cranky mood instigated by a raging case of post-traumatic stress syndrome which has been exacerbated by increasingly tacky coverage and rehashing of The Thing That Was Bad. Cranky mood actually works to her advantage during five-hour shift at retail facility when Robyn informs several patrons that it's fine with her if they don't get their money back or can't find the shirt they want as long as they persist in acting like a flaming jackass. Shift proves to be surprisingly productive and gratifying. Evening spent bitching, moaning, engaging in emotional coversation with significant other, and laughing at a kitty unrolling toilet paper on that funny animal home video show before retiring. Nine jobs applied to that day.

September 12: Saddened to hear that Johnny Cash has passed away because interest in the performer had recently been elevated due to recent media coverage and interesting connections to U2. Saddened to hear that John Ritter has passed away because the theme song to Three's Company lodged in brain ALL... DAMNED... DAY. Four jobs applied to in the morning and interview set up with temp agency.


Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Good Days and Bad Days

Is it August already?

Compared with the pace of the winter, the past three months have gone by at a bit of a ridiculous rate. Frankly, I'm a bit winded. I'm enjoying a day off right now. A day off entails getting up and taking four hours to volunteer at the animal shelter, grocery shopping, cleaning the apartment, and spending the rest of the day looking for work before maybe reading some of the new Harry Potter.

I'm tired. It's as though the summer were made up of good days or bad days, with very little room for moderation. Today was a good day. I got caught in a wicked downpour on my way to see the cats today, but didn't really mind. It's not as though the cats care if you look like a drowned rat.


Saturday, June 14, 2003


I don't usually like to write of things that are too personal in the web site. I find that blogs and web journals that detail every minute detail of someone's existence are pretty tedious. Then again, I'm a terrible snob.

But this time I'll make an exception, because something happened a few weeks ago of such magnitude that I would be foolish to ignore it. My friend Carolyn died at a firing range two weeks ago. Officially, it's an accident, so officially, I will not allude to it as anything other than that.
Unofficially, I have my own ideas. But in the end it doesn't matter much how it happened. It's sad, it's bizarre, it's one of those things that may take me a good long time to wrap my head and heart around.

There have been a few people from high school who have passed away since graduation, and all those events affected me even though I barely knew them. But Carolyn wasn't merely an acquaintance. She was the closest female friend I had left. We actually got closer after high school, contrary to most other post-graduation relationships. I spoke with her six days before she died, and still have messages from her on my cell. She was one of the few people who never pissed me off, rarely got on my nerves, always could be depended on. She was one of the most extraordinary people I knew because she was crazy but not reckless, always had something outrageous to say and usually didn't give a damn about who looked at her sideways. Maybe the accident happened because she started to give a damn.

Most of my close friends in high school came back to town for the funeral, so we had our own strange reunion that week. Sort of like the Big Chill, about fifteen years too early. If anything good comes out of this, maybe we'll all keep in touch.

I spent a week back home trying to get my head together, and when I came back, the job search seemed to have taken care of itself in my absence. I came back to three (three!) offers for jobs and internships. I actually got an internship at Interaction, so now when I go online I can actually spend some time doing fun stuff like answer e-mail and read newspapers rather than devote all of my time to the job listings.

So in the span of two weeks, things have changed fairly dramatically, for better or worse. I'm still adjusting to this new normal, and now that things are at least interesting again, I'll try to be more diligent in letting you know how things progress. One of the things I'm going to do with my newly re-structured free time is scan a bunch of pictures of Carolyn. Updates to follow....


Saturday, May 24, 2003

Mental Floss

I have a new favorite magazine, which may be a bad thing considering my tendency to become addicted to the purchasing and squirreling away of all manner of periodicals. But nevertheless, this particular publication is clever and cheap enough to warrant my attention.

The name of the magazine is Mental Floss, and its slogan is "Feel Smart Again." It appears to be written by a bunch of witty, sharp people who live in the Midwest (as these types of people often do), and who are keen on acquiring and writing about all sorts of interesting trivia about all manner of topics both of a highbrow nature (Edgar Degas, James Joyce, the historical and scientific significance of malaria) to the not-so-highbrow (feet). Their website is a bit sparse, but they have super-fun (i.e. "dorky") quizzes and facts that are updated daily. For example, did you know that a mondegreen is the technical word for a misheard lyric? I didn't, and thanks be that there was such a site to enlighten me.

In summation: Read Mental Floss, or go to the site. Kill time. Annoy folks with mundane trivia. Feel smart. Enjoy.


Monday, May 19, 2003

One Last Thing

I conducted my last official business as an undergraduate at NYU last week when I went to commencement. It was something that I wasn't sure I wanted to do, because there's roughly a kajillion people there and very slim chance that your loved ones will see you and you already have your diploma etc.

But I did go, and wore the funny hat and somehow managed to sit next to a friend and have my mother see me and get close enough to the stage to see the Mayor up close and shake Joe Torre's hand. And if I were talking about Giuliani or if I cared one whit about baseball, that would be truly thrilling. As it was, it was merely cool.

It was also interesting to see that NYU, which is generally lacking in the school spirit department, actually showing something resembling camaraderie. Even if it was more for the city than the university, it was still nice to see.

So that's it for NYU. At least until the alumni association finds out my Maryland phone number.


Monday, May 5, 2003

Hooray for Congress (No, Seriously)

Last week the House passed a bill that gives me a bit of a renewed sense of faith in this administration. I'm not completely ready to drop the banner of cynicism, but this is still a nice development.

In his State of the Union address, Bush said that he'd work to get $15 billion in aid to AIDS-ravaged Africa. Pretty words, I thought at the time, but it'll never happen.

Last week the House passed the bill promising all $15 billion to Africa, with only 41 votes against it. Color me surprised.

Curious? Here are some websites that explain the problem:
Global AIDS Alliance
AIDS Channel

If you have the time to check these out, maybe you have two minutes (six minutes with dial-up) to write your senator to pass the bill in the Senate. What follows is a NY Times article that was published the day before the bill passed.

This has been a public service announcement. Thanks for your time.


Bush Pushes AIDS Plan Criticized by Some Conservatives By ELISABETH BUMILLER

ASHINGTON, April 29 — In rare defiance of the social conservatives within his own party, President Bush today urged Congress to fight AIDS internationally with a $15 billion plan that advocates condom use and in effect permits money to go to groups that promote abortion.
Mr. Bush made clear that AIDS and his credentials as a "compassionate conservative" were of greater concern in this instance than fear of aggravating part of his conservative base. Nonetheless, he was careful to make one of his central arguments in the biblical language of Christian conservatives, many of whom have taken on fighting AIDS as a moral cause.

"When we see a plague leaving graves and orphans across a continent, we must act," Mr. Bush said. "When we see the wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not — America will not — pass to the other side of the road."

The president spoke at the White House in support of a bill sponsored by Representative Henry J. Hyde, Republican of Illinois, that has become the subject of intense political wrangling. The bill, which grew out of an initiative Mr. Bush announced in his State of the Union speech in January, would triple American spending on global AIDS, to $15 billion over the next five years. The money would go to prevention and treatment programs in 12 African nations, as well as Haiti and Guyana.

Although Democrats and Republicans have embraced the broad goals of a plan to fight an African AIDS epidemic that has infected 30 million, they have argued over the details.

Conservatives in particular have complained that the plan does not focus enough on the promotion of abstinence and that AIDS money should not go to international groups that promote abortion. Conservatives note that the federal government's so-called Mexico City policy — named for the place that Ronald Reagan announced it — bars foreign aid to international family planning groups that promote abortion.

The White House has tried to accommodate conservatives as it presses forward on the plan, which the president is insistent that he have in hand for a trip to Africa this year. Administration officials are also eager to promote the humanitarian side of a Bush foreign policy that has centered on two wars in two years.

"We can turn our eyes away in resignation or despair," Mr. Bush said, "or we can take decisive, historic action to turn the tide against this disease and give the hope of life to millions who need our help now."

The president's words were aimed at promoting Mr. Hyde's bill, which is expected to be voted on in the House on Thursday. To help ensure that the bill passes, administration officials have promised they would permit AIDS money to go only to organizations that keep their AIDS and family planning programs, including abortion, separate. Nonetheless, that provision is not specifically written into the bill, because it was thought it would poison too many Democrats against it.

Administration officials also said today that the president strongly supported what is known as the Ugandan A.B.C. campaign, which says: First, abstain. If you can't abstain, be faithful. And if you can't be faithful, use a condom.

Mr. Hyde's bill also endorses the A.B.C. policy, which has been effective in Uganda. Even so, some conservatives in Congress said today that the A.B.C. policy did not sufficiently endorse abstinence.

As a remedy, Representative Joe Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania, said he would offer an amendment to direct a third of the money for AIDS prevention to abstinence programs. Representative Christopher H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey, is to offer an additional amendment to exempt religious groups overseas from having to hand out condoms.
Congressional aides who have visited humanitarian groups in Africa said today that the amendments — and the administration's commitment to make sure that AIDS money does not mingle with money for family planning — had little to do with how the groups actually operated. They acknowledged that the last-minute haggling was entirely driven by American domestic politics.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Spring Starch Fest

Happy Earth Day one and all. I commemorated the day by taking my gas-guzzling SUV down to the CVS, using noxious chemicals to clean my glass table and consuming hyper-processed (but Passover-safe) foods. I do plan to recycle some stuff as soon as the massive, B-52 bomber of a bumblebee outside decides to sniff around somebody else's balcony.

Everything seems to have turned green overnight, which is a happy thing after the Winter That Would Not Die. Passover is in full swing, and I'm doing my best to observe the holiday. However, I have already answered the diabolical call of a very persuasive cheeseburger, so the other 23 or so meals that I'll consume this holiday are pretty much just for show. But then, I never claimed to be anybody's role model in the area of hardcore Jewiness. Nonetheless, this holiday is a whole lot easier to observe this year, seeing as I'm no longer in Ireland or Wales, or some other such matzo-deprived country.

One of my guidebooks from last year described the Irish Museum of Jewish History as a place that chronicled the history of Jews in Ireland since the middle ages, when four Jews came ashore and were promptly sent back. I reckon it's a small museum.


Friday, March 21, 2003


Like most everybody else on the planet, I was taken aback when the attack on Iraq began on Wednesday night. I left the television on all day yesterday like a good journalism student should and found little to interest me except for testing my meager Arabic skills on the live feeds from Al-Jazeera television. It was one of the few times that the local news was more enlightening on world affairs than the networks, because they were able to highlight the main points of what was going on rather than featuring a flummoxed reporter in the studio cutting back and forth to reporters in the field who can't tell us anything due to classified information or technical difficulties. It's a bit sad that you find yourself watching hours of television waiting for something to blow up. It's pretty morbid.

But today, when things were indeed blowing up with authority, I felt pretty awful watching it. I don't think it's a terrible thing that we're able to see war unfold live on television, because it does bring the immediacy of the events to you without any opportunity for sugar-coating them, but it's no fun. The danger is that people might get de-sensitized watching Baghdad get the snot bombed out of it. I was strangely grateful that the ABC News correspondent sounded like he was going to have a nervous breakdown any second. At least it keeps the perspective in place.

This hasn't been a wildly original update, and I'm sorry. I just felt like my humble update page would be lacking if I let the start of a major war go by without mention. Although I'm extremely unhappy that my government feels that we had to resort to these measures, I just hope that it will be over soon and with as few casualties on both sides as possible. And if past experience has taught me anything, it's good to stay informed, but not good to spend all day watching things blow up on TV. Not good for the nerves.


Monday, March 17, 2003

Civics in Action

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all. We're having suitably grey Irish weather in Washington this afternoon, I am suitably dressed in green, and I am suitably having leftovers and staying in tonight. Washington's major family-friendly festivities for the holiday were held yesterday, and had Jeffrey and I not expended our weekend energies at the previous day's protest I may have had an interest in attending. As it was, we did not.

I had participated in a walk-out against the war in New York, but I had never been to a protest of the scale of the one on Saturday before. I was pleased to see that there were a lot of different kinds of people there, as opposed to the stereotypical anarchist hoodlums that give such gatherings a bad name. There were old people and kids, families and college students, veterans and people who lost children in the previous Gulf War. There were a few speakers who got on my nerves a bit when they tried to push other issues in conjunction with the anti-war sentiment and a few people who seemed more delighted at the fact that they could put dirty words on big signs than they were about the cause, but a lot of people were protest novices like myself. I was pretty shy about it in the beginning and insisted that I wouldn't hold a sign and was nervous on the Metro. But by the end of it I was quite comfortable and held one of the three signs Jeffrey took to the event. I wasn't even all that fazed when we passed a smallish group of pro-Bush protesters. Everyone behaved very well and the police were very good about the whole thing. I think it would have been an arrest-free event if it weren't for a few anarchist yahoos who broke away from the larger group to trash the World Bank. There's always someone that has to cause trouble.

I may go to another one if it's organized even half as well. Next time, though, I should probably bring sunblock, as I'm none too thrilled with the burns inflicted on my suitably Irish skin tone at the moment.


Monday, March 10, 2003

Conan O'Brien: Breaker of Hearts

I returned to New York this weekend and I'm very glad I did. Truth be told, I was feeling sad about missing out on things that were going on up there in recent days (most likely due in part to my lack of employment and recent, traumatizing loss of cable television). I just needed a quick NY fix, and I am satiated.

Jeffrey and I had business to attend to there in the way of shopping in SoHo, eating falafel in the Village, and meeting friends for Afghan food on 26th Street. But our primary reason for being there was an event sponsored by the New York Times Arts and Leisure Weekend in which Conan O'Brien was to be the speaker.

There are very few such people in the world whom I would race up to New York to see at such an event without a moment's hesitation. Messrs. Conan and Bono are two of those, and seeing as Bono's appearance this weekend was canceled due to a medical emergency involving nasty back surgery (it's always something with those rock stars), I was more than happy to see Conan be interviewed about, well, being Conan, as it turns out. Which isn't as heinous as it sounds. Conan's a really smart, nice, geeky guy who wound up in an extraordinary position through a great deal of dumb luck, and had a seriously tough time holding on to that position ten years ago when he took over from David Letterman as the host of Late Night. But he's a very well-spoken and insightful person and it makes me glad to see that such a nice, intelligent guy is capable of his kind of success. I guess I'm a bit partial to bookish redheaded misfits with twisted senses of humor.

The only tragedy of the night occurred after the conversation when Conan stuck around to sign as many programs as possible before his handlers made him go home. He stopped at the girl right in front of me, leaving me standing in vain with a program thrust sadly in the air imploring the handlers not to go away. Jeffrey will attest that it was somewhat pathetic. But if that's the most rotten thing to happen to me all weekend, I suppose I'm in pretty good shape.


Tuesday, March 4, 2003


It was bound to happen eventually.

In New York I spent four months walking a couple of miles each day and navigating seven flights of stairs at NYU's Main Building.

I've spent the last two months sitting on my bum on the computer and on the sofa.

Consequently, a good number of my pants have been benched until a better, more active, day.
It's not that I'm unhappy with how I look. If it weren't for the pants and an unfortunate semi-annual trip to the scale, I probably would never have known. But the inactivity means more to me than a lack of comfy khakis. The problem is that I have the stamina of an 800-pound, seventy-year-old man. I've started doing aerobics in the morning to one of these "Over 40 and Fabulous!" programs on PBS. The damn thing kicks my ass on a routine basis. This cannot pass.

Washington summers are supposed to be nice and humid. Maybe that will be the solution. Until then I'll have to be content with occasional trips to the Metro.


Thursday, February 27, 2003

WTC Plans

It looks as though they've decided on the design for what is to be built at Ground Zero. Of the two that were being considered, I suppose I like the chosen one better.

The trouble is that anything they put there is going to look wrong to me, just as people hated the Towers when they first went up. But I never knew New York to look otherwise. It looks strange now, and it will look strange with the new tower. It will never look right. It's very odd to me that my children will have a very different picture of New York than I have, because I can't picture it any other way.

I am glad they didn't go with those two skeletal towers. They just looked like bombed-out buildings to me.

In happier news, "Angel of Harlem" is playing on Virgin Radio. Joy.

But then, people hated the Eiffel Tower when that went up. Maybe I'll warm up to it.


Thursday, February 20, 2003

All De Little Critters

I'm sure they have rules against this kind if thing, but I placed some bread out on the balcony during the blizzard and am currently delighted by the birds that have discovered it.

It took a while for them to find it. I don't think they're used to handouts around these parts. Not because people don't care, but because if people were to put bird feeders on their balconies, we'd all be awash in caca. But this one time can't hurt.

Along the same lines, I've found some fine furry programming that helps me while away the job-searching hours. Animal Planet has surpassed VH1 as my favorite time-wasting channel (which speaks volumes about my worldliness and sophistication. Meh). I'm quite taken with Emergency Vets (ER...for animals!) and Animal Precinct (COPS...for animals!). I like That's My Baby as well, but were I to watch it regularly it would amount to two hours a day of watching farm animals and Sea World denizens give birth, and there's something inherently wrong with that.

My favorite show has to be a program that looks as if it wandered away from Brooklyn cable access and found its way into syndication on Fox. It airs Sunday mornings and is called Pet Shop, and features this doofus giving pet advice while surrounded by MORE ANIMALS THAN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT. There's giant bunnies mingling with prairie dogs and parrots and puppies and cats and hamsters and two extremely wound-up chinchillas and ferrets and crows, all sitting on a space the size of an office desk. I don't know what the hell he's talking about half the time. That's not the point. If you do find yourself awake on a Sunday morning, give it a look. You won't be sorry.


Monday, February 17, 2003

The Short-Lived Charm of Snow

Sure, it was charming two days ago.

Yesterday it was laughable.

Now this crap must cease.

Blizzards in New York are okay, because New York is such a pedestrian city that you're still able to navigate. Blizzards in Richboro are okay, because the community knows how to clean up after itself in such an event.

Blizzards in Forestville, Maryland are no fun whatsoever. Apparently, this area doesn't see 18 inches of snow all that often. I think this qualifies as the fifth-largest snowstorm in recorded history in the DC area. So they have no bloody idea what to do about this. Two days after it stopped snowing, most of the main streets are clear, but small roads and parking lots are a mess. Lots of places are still shut down.

For the past few days I've been playing the jaded Northeasterner to Jeffrey's the-folks-back-home-won't-believe-this Texan. I've been saying things like eighteen inches isn't so bad. Wait until a three-footer. I can so handle this.

But I never had the joy of shoveling a car out of an apartment complex parking lot, without a shovel. Not only must you contend with your neighbor shoveling snow into the vicinity of your vehicle, thereby doubling your workload, but you must do so with a mixing bowl and a dustpan. The let's-go-play-in-the-snow-whilst-we-dig mentality fades real fast. At least some other neighbors are nice, and they have shovels, and they save your bowl-scooping behind from three hours of liberating the Blazer.

And it's only the middle of February. I'm buying a shovel.


Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Fear and Loathing in DC

I'm angry at the news and at my goverment. It's not a happy feeling. I'm angry that I'm angry.

The news has been broadcasting semi-hysterical reports on what you should stock up on in the event of a terrorist attack. These lists are presented in the same over-hyped manner in which they tell you what you should buy in the event of an expected snowstorm. They're not quite sure what kind of attack we're in for, or who will execute it, or where it will strike, but by golly, the government says that three days worth of water and a couple of rolls of duct tape will save your sorry ass from this undefined, but profoundly nasty, thing that may or may not go down IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD.

I don't really want to be a cynic. I don't really want to mistrust the government. But these reports are extremely frustrating and more than a little insulting.

The list of things to buy are a lot like the "Duck and Cover" drills of the 50s and 60s, in which the American public was led to believe that putting your hands above your head or ducking under a picnic blanket will save you from nuclear fallout. Will these things really protect your family?
How can you protect them if you have no idea what it is you're afraid of?

I understand that the failure of the government and the armed forces to forsee (or at least prevent) the events of September 11 needed serious rectifying. But creating a society based on fear and paranoia is not the way to do that. It's not a society worth fighting for. It's not a society I want to live in. Whatever happened to "we have nothing to fear but fear itself"? This is a society in which fear is marketed by the news for ratings and promoted by politicians who are desperate to push their agendas on a doubtful public. This is a society where fear is color-coded and categorized as though it were the weekly weather forecast:

"We're in for a few more days of orange, which will give way to yellow, which is characterized by a more general degree of fear than we're used to seeing in this area. The DC area can expect 4-6 inches of fear overnight, while Baltimore can expect a light dusting. You might want to take your umbrella and duct tape in the morning."

If the definition of terrorism is "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion," then just who are the real terrorists anyway?


Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Playing House

There has been a severe lack of updates due to a severe lack of opportunity to go online due to a severe lack of a stable existence over the past few weeks.

Got that?

To whit, I left New York on December 21, went to Washington DC for three days, went to Richboro for two days, DC for one day, Texas for a week, and returned to DC on Saturday.

Life is slowly returning to something resembling normal, although the apartment is still in the moving-in stage. Which is a nice way of saying my books, videos and other assorted crap is strewn all over the place awaiting the arrival of bookcases and other furnishings that will make it a little more homey in here.

And there's the pesky lack of employment to contend with as well. And insurance, phone plans, etc.

Playing house is hard.

I suppose that should suffice as far as boring personal updates go. Next time I'll talk about something more fascinating, like the Animal Planet channel.

How I love Animal Planet.

We'll talk later.