Monthly Archives: July 2003

briefly/smiting

Looks like Pat Robertson is calling for some intercessory prayer. How many prayers from 700 Club viewers are required to convince God to smite liberal Supreme Court justices? If they get fewer prayers, will he smite just one of them? I’m curious about how all this works.

report/creedence


The Dude: Do you find them much, these, stolen cars?
Younger Cop: Sometimes. Wouldn’t hold out much hope for the tape deck though.
Older Cop: Or the Creedence.

When I came back after being gone a week, I was worried about things like ants. (Didn’t get a chance to wash some of the dishes.) What I wasn’t particularly concerned with was the possibility that my car would get broken into, since it was sitting in a locked garage. Nevertheless, this is exactly what happened. The good news:

  • My car wasn’t the one stolen.
  • They only took my CDs.
  • The El Cerrito police are very friendly.

The bad news is that I lost most of my favorite classical CDs and disc 1 of the Valkyrie Profile soundtrack. (One suspects that if the thieves had looked at the CDs beforehand, they would not have bothered taking them.)

Apparently there were several cars here broken into sometime this week, but when the police made their previous visit they somehow overlooked mine. A security hole, obvious in retrospect, was exploited to get into the garage. One car was stolen but apparently has already been recovered.

Anyway, I’ll talk about the cruise tomorrow (maybe).

briefly/departure

I haven’t been updating, since the amount I had to say outran the amount of connection time I had. This means I may make one or two big updates about the cruise experience after I get back. Or I’ll get going on some political stupidity instead and forget about it.

Speaking of getting back, that’ll be tomorrow evening. I must say I’m looking forward to it at this point. There’s not much left to do on this ship…

briefly/error

My grandmother organized this trip, and when inviting me to come along made the well-intentioned suggestion that I could meet women on this cruise. Given the nature of the cruise demographic, I thought this was a terribly funny thing to say and turned it into a running joke. “I’d better look my best for all those young women on the boat,” I’d say, while more or less equating my chances of finding such an animal to those of the ship striking an iceberg and sinking.

In retrospect, this was dumb. Now the running joke is on me. Not that I was altogether off on my assessment of the age distribution here, but there are a handful of women under 40, and because my earlier comments seem to have inspired the other ten members of my party to point them out to me at every opportunity.

Thanks, guys. Don’t know what I’d do without you.

report/journey

Hmm, they didn’t mention the per-minute charge for Internet access. I guess that makes sense given I’m updating from out in the ocean. Anyway, that will make for brief posts.

During my junior year at Caltech I more-or-less suddenly became a chronic insomniac. At this point I have it more or less under control, with some major exceptions. One of these is that if I have to get up earlier than usual, some psychological switch gets pressed and I get insomnia. Naturally, the earlier I have to get up the later I lie awake. This morning I had to get up at 4:30, and so I was awake until 3:30. So I’ve been going through the many legs of my journey here in a rather dazed state.

Speaking of the many legs of my journey, I flew from Oakland to Vancouver with a connection in Seattle. This, as you can imagine, is really irritating. The plane is almost there and then suddenly it decides to land early, so I can hang out for two hours in the Seattle airport with the screaming babies waiting for my thirty minute flight.

I shouldn’t complain about the travel, though; at least all of my luggage arrived. And I got to ride in a train, a plane, a car, and a ship all in one day, which I think I should appreciate.

Anyway, I’m going to go try to stay awake through dinner now. Shouldn’t use up any more Internet time than necessary. (Did I say something about brief posts?)

planning/ice

Tomorrow morning I leave at an ungodly hour (I have to catch the 5:23 BART) for a big family vacation with some of my Texas relatives. We’re all piling onto a cruise ship for a voyage through the Alaska waters. Yes: Ice, motion sickness, and Republicans – everything I could possibly want in a summer excursion.

Of course, I’m just being obnoxious here – it would be the height of ridiculousness to complain about going on a seven-day cruise! Well, unless they didn’t give me internet access, but I am assured this boat has a satellite uplink. Naturally, that means that after grinding my teeth through those dinnertime political discussions I’ll be coming back here to vent my frustration on you, dear reader.

Anyway, I should go start packing now. After all, my train leaves in holy shit – seven hours?

Well, who needs sleep, anyway?

review/zombies

Friday night I saw 28 Days Later. I’m pleased to report that it’s a cool zombie movie; if you loathe the undead (and you should), you’ll like this movie.

I usually see movies in downtown Berkeley, but there’s now a theater out in the suburbs that I live closer to. This is where I went on Friday. It’s quite a nice theater – 16 screens with stadium seating. However, the clientele made me long for the relatively well-behaved Berkeley crowd.

Maybe this was a result of seeing a movie on a holiday, but keep in mind this was a 9:45 showing of an R-rated, gory horror movie. When I saw the people taking seats around me, I wondered if I had accidentally walked into a showing of Finding Nemo. Seriosly, there were that many families with small children there. Of course they were running through the aisles even after the movie started, but this was probably better for their fragile psyches than actually watching the thing. Fortunately most of these families got a clue after the nth violent death and walked out before the end.

At that point I was left with the adult portion of the audience, who seemed altogether unfamiliar with the distinction, etiquette-wise, between a movie theater and their own living rooms. On the other hand, maybe it’s not their fault – I noticed that this theater didn’t play the “Please be quiet during the show” clip at the beginning, and maybe it has a more critical influence on people than I realized.

To sum up: cool movie, but Worst. Audience. Ever. I’ll try that theater one more time, since it’s a nice place and it might have just been a bad night. If I have a similar experience, I’m going to stick with downtown Berkeley.

briefly/hoaxes

Yesterday I received yet another copy of this bogus virus warning. It amazes me that people will go and delete files on their computers based solely on an e-mail somebody forwards to them (especially when a minute’s research will confirm or deny the truth of the message). I think this is emblematic of one of the most dangerous problems with humanity – the tendency to throw critical thinking out the window when alarmed. This is the root problem behind certain other topics I’ve discussed in this space.

contemplation/privatization

I was planning yesterday to make an entry about how the government should give up all involvement in the institution of marriage. Let churches (or whoever) handle marrying people, and let shared assets fall under existing contract law. Then there’s no issue of whether same-sex marriage should be legal or not. Unfortunately, Michael Kinsley at Slate beat me to the punch. It wasn’t my idea originally anyway, so it’s not like he’s ripping me off.

One thing he doesn’t bring up is the church-state issue. Given the close ties of marriage with religion, it doesn’t seem right that the government should be deciding what is or isn’t a valid marriage. So if Church A wants to allow same-sex marriage, and Church B doesn’t, but wants to allow multiple wives, where does the government get the authority to say that some of the marriages recognized in these churches are allowed but others aren’t?

One of Kinsley’s brilliant contributions to the argument is his conservative-friendly rendering: “Privatize marriage.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has expressed his support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. I wonder if he thought the sodomy law issue should have been left to the states to decide? Open question: Does this amendment have the Senate support it needs to pass? A similar amendment to the California constitution passed as a ballot initiative (Proposition 22, I think) in 2000.

Normally I find Maureen Dowd on the incoherent side, but her story of Bill Frist’s taking in cats in order to dissect them makes a near-perfect metaphor for the “compassionate conservatism” Frist is supposed to represent.