you can still be my
2 years and 2 days
since I started this blog. so far so good.
no grand vision has assembled itself out of the bits and pieces of my life made public, at least not that I can see. there are no pearls of digital wisdom rolling around in my head, waiting to fall from my fingers, just the same nagging refrains, I really ought to update my instant friends page, finish that entry about being a vegetarian, post that collection of newt pornography.
tomorrow maybe, now it's late. orelia has just headed back to her parents' house --- she stopped by to hang out for a few hours after going to a counter-protest against a protest of the laramie project organized by professional bigot and hate-monger fred phelps. vanessa went to see the play in the afternoon (the evening performanca was sold out) and saw the phelps folks out there, including several young children holding signs that said "faggots eat poop." I really wish we could just ignore him. unfortunately, fred phelps isn't tinkerbell --- he won't just fade away if we stop believing he exists.
vanessa made yummy chili from the moosewood cookbook for dinner, using a very small fraction of the very large quantity of kidney beans we bought in bulk from the coop. earlier today we had a work party to plastic the windows in the living room and to clean the refrigerator, the latter being a huge project and long over-due. matt confirmed that the light goes out when you close the door. the tupperware reorganization squad decommissioned 42 bottomless tops and 5 topless bottoms. jason, however, insists that bottoms outnumber tops by about 10 to 1.
rivendell also has the most awesome dining room table. I absolutely, positively must post the pictures. it's at the top of the list of website things to do, ahead of posting the newt pornography collection.
life is good here at rivendell these days, but there's always a dark lining in every silver cloud. tragically, we are having trouble locating the pink tea cozy. carolyn was crowned the queen of cute-but-crazy last january, but we all expected megan would snatch the cozy crown away as soon as she moved in. the problem is, we're not sure that megan has moved in, the most we've seen of her recently is her picture on the back of the milk carton. laura may have taken the CbC crown away from carolyn on halloween with her herpesaurus costume, well, with the herpesaurus mating dance that she performed in the basement just after the jello shots and before heading out to the annual riot on state st. meanwhile, matt (*) says that if laura didn't take the tea cozy on halloween, then he's entitled to half of it, because he went camping with carolyn last january. on the other hand, if we're going to let people wear the crown for stuff they do when they're not living living at rivendell, then megan's got it for sure. or maybe orelia took it to burning man with her. this would be a lot easier to resolve if the pink tea cozy weren't so invisible.
okay, it's so late now that it's tomorrow, but I'm still going to post this as if today were yesterday.
(*) folks who are keeping score at home should note that the person named matt who thinks he may have half of a tea cozy is not the same person as the person named matt who lived here last year. he's the person named matt who lives here this year, easily distinguished by the large antler growing out of his head.
pick a number, any number
a secret number between 1 and 100 is drawn at random. you and another player each pick a number between 1 and 100, sequentially. the person whose choice is closest to the secret number wins. ties are decided with a fair coin toss.
this one's pretty easy --- whoever goes first should choose 50 and whoever goes second should choose either 49 or 51. but what if there are three people, each choosing sequentially?
I thought about it a bit, and my first guess turned out to be wrong. I'm interested in what people (people=you) think is the right answer.
yeah, yeah, I know that the problem can be solved with backward induction --- bill & I worked out a few small cases while we waited for our dinner at a mexican restaurant. but before mathematica spits out the answer to life, the universe and everything how about taking a guess...
potato palace update
there is way too much nothing going on in the last six pages of chapter 7.
it's short. very very short.
my inbox has converged to a new steady state of 200 messages.
slouching towards normalcy
before we travel too far down the road back to business-as-usual please consider this email from my awesome friend mary lucking, sent 3 nov:
This is as close to a spamming as I will ever do, with the exception of another new mailing address
here's a link mary will like and a thought mary, and everyone else, may appreciate:
that's my brain, trying to process my pre- and post-election experiences while simultaneously digging out from the avalanche of everyone else's post-election analysis, agony and conspiracies (arriving daily in an email account near you!).
We need time to reflect on these last days. It is easy to rush into analysis and blame and learn the wrong things. So I want to be cautious in offering thoughts prematurely on what we should do now.
that's an excerpt from an essay by starhawk that was forwarded to me. (it doesn't seem to be posted on her website.) numerous friends have recommended starhawk's novel the fifth sacred thing. it's been sitting on my shelf unread for over a year because, in addition to suffering from a permanent glut of potential reading material, I am also allergic to several forms of new age spirituality, including pseudoshamanism, chakra envy and obsessive-compulsive aroma disorder (both the incense and essential oil variants), all of which tend to make my aura break out in purple hives. after surfing around the activism section of starhawk's website I decided it was safe to bump her book to to the top of the stack.
you always come first ann, if you don't count me.
Down the hall, down the stairs, feet descending step by step. She paused before the door, pulled the hood of her red sweatshirt over her head, trapped the warmth of the house around her ears. She opened the door and stepped outside.
The latch closed behind her with a flat, echoless click. Silence. The sound of something falling into a well and never hitting the bottom. She swung around in panic, grabbing for the key she always wore around her neck, tugging frantically at her sweatshirt. She could feel the key's absence, the missing warmth of the ribbon across the back of her neck, the place it had sat on her breast.
She tried the door handle, then banged on the door of the empty house in frustration. The first shadows of twilight crept along the street. The house loomed over her, radiating darkness and a thick, eery silence.
A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles.
This quote from Thomas Jefferson came in one of the many post-election keep-up-the-good-fight emails I've received. Of course, I didn't remember what the Sedition Act of 1798 was, so I grabbed a book off my shelf, and not just any book mind you, it wasThe American Pageant by Thomas A. Bailey, the textbook for my AP American History class in high school. (I found a nice clean copy of at a used bookstore in San Jose this summer.) Here's what I learned.
In 1798 John Adams, a Federalist, was President, while Thomas Jefferson, the runner-up in the election and Adams' chief opponent, was Vice-President. The country seemed headed for war with France, with Alexander Hamilton and other pro-British Federalists leading the charge. Anti-French sentiment rose to a fevered pitch, and war preparations were well under way. The Federalists took advantage of this political opening to pass a series of bills designed to silence their Jeffersonian opponents. The "Alien Laws" raised the residence requirement for citizenship from 5 to 14 years and significantly expanded the President's powers:
The President was empowered to deport dangerous foreigners in time of peace, and to deport or imprison them in time of hostilities.
Bailey, who is heavily prone to editorializing, continues with his opinion
Though defensible as a war measure --- and an officially declared war with France seemed imminent --- this was an arbitrary grant of power contrary to American tradition and to the spirit of the Constitution.
The Sedition Act took aim at the Federalists' political opponents, scoring a direct hit on the First Amendment.
Specifically, the Sedition Act imposed fines and imprisonment on anyone who "impeded the polices of the government or defamed its officials, including the President." One Jeffersonian editor was sentenced to 4 months in jail for ridiculing President Adams' "unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice." Not only did the Federalist-dominated supreme court tolerate this attack on fundamental civil rights, the Sedition Act also prevailed in the court of public opinion as well --- the Federalists triumphed in the 1798-1799 Congressional elections.
And then what? The Federalists themselves broke into factions and the huge debt and tax burden caused by preparations for a war that didn't happen (Adams successfully pursued a negotiated settlement) turned the popular tide against them. They didn't go down without a fight, though, in the 1800 Presidential election:
They concentrated their fire on Jefferson himself, who became the victim of one of our earliest "whispering campaigns." He was falsely accused of having robbed a widow and her children of a trust fund, and of having fathered numerous mulatto children by his own slave women. As a liberal in religion, Jefferson had earlier incurred the wrath of the orthodox clergy, largely through his successful struggle to separate church and state in Virginia. From the New England stronghold of Federalism and Congregationalism, the preachers unfairly thundered against his atheism, although he did believe in God. Old ladies of Federalist families, fearing Jefferson's election, even buried their Bibles or hung them in wells.
Jefferson won the presidency in 1800, in a real squeaker of an election that ended up being decided in the House of Representatives. the residency requirement for citizenship was returned to 5 years and the Alien and Sedition Acts were allowed to expire. The Sedition Act was declared unconstitutional in 1964. (No, that's not a typo --- 1964.) States with manhood suffrage, that is, without property requirements for voting, were critical to Jefferson's victory. While he could not directly extend suffrage he did "persuade the apathetic and overawed marginal voter to go to the polls --- the citizen who had just enough property to vote but who was loath to speak up against his 'betters.'"
Those Federalist old ladies somehow managed to hang onto to their Bibles through Jefferson's tenure as President, but Jefferson's political descendents are still planning to take them away, at least according to this year's GOP campaign literature:
GOP Mailing Warns Liberals Will Ban Bibles
I'm not sure if I should be relieved or appalled that we've been through all this before. History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. The parallels between the Alien Laws and the imprisonment of foreign nationals at Guantanomo Bay, between the Sedition Act and the USA PATRIOT Act are so conspicuous I feel like an incorrigible pedant even mentioning them. But in these days of political gloom, with the future clouded in a desperate, unknown haze, re-stating the obvious may help us regain our bearings and find the way forward. It's an old fight we're fighting, one where both defeat and victory have always been hard-fought and temporary.
All unattributed quotes and historical information from
More thoughts on the election coming soon!
click on pic to see the rivendell post election blackboard
NOTE : unless you live within 3 blocks of my house you don't actually vote at Lowell Hall.
this is how I know
that john kerry is going to win on nov. 2.
last night at the slipper club's weekly burlesque show the neil diamond impersonator segued into a vote-for-kerry pitch in the middle of a song.
he's got the neil diamond impersonator vote in hand. how can kerry lose?
still not convinced?
maybe you need to visualize winning.
send lawyers, vans and money
Early in september Bill got a letter from the Democratic National Committee written by James Carville. Bill was so impressed by it he gave it to me to read, and I was so impressed by it I got out my checkbook and sent them a check. I came across the letter on my desk a few days ago, and it's even more relevant now than it was at the beginning of September.
For the past couple of weeks, and from now until election day, I have been and will be working with MoveOn.org PAC on their Leave No Voter Behind get-out-the-vote campaign. Last night I phoned into a conference call with Eli Pariser and Adam Reuben from MoveOn.org PAC --- there are literally tens of thousands of volunteers (including me!) out canvassing voters, identifying Kerry supporters, and getting ready for the final push in the 72 hours before election day. MoveOn.org PAC is also running a terrific TV ad by Sisters Speak Out --- check it out.
I regularly run across canvassers from America Coming Together (ACT) who are also doing a tremendous job --- they are in need of 1200 vans in Florida alone to get voters to the polls to vote early and on election day.
The Kerry-Edwards campaign can't fundraise now that it has accepted federal election funds but you can still donate to the Democratic Party and to the Kerry-Edwards 2004 General Election Legal and Accounting Compliance Fund (GELAC)which is assembling teams of lawyers in place to handle election fraud and recount issues.
The People for the American Way Election Protection Program will have thousands of trained legal volunteers out on election day ensuring that everyone eligible to vote is able to cast a ballot. Their recent report The Long Shadow of Jim Crow: Voter Intimidation and Suppression in America Today demonstrates how far we have to go.
"I downloaded the pattern off the internet,"
how dumb are they?
really really dumb.
I'm talking about those republicans in michigan, the ones who requested that michael moore be prosecuted in four counties for voter fraud after he offered a couple of non-voting students clean underwear and ramen noodles if they would promise to vote on nov. 2.
"get a life," the county prosecutors, 2 democrats and 2 republicans, told michigan gop officials, "we have real work to do." (I'm paraphrasing --- some of the actual remarks were a good deal less polite.)
as a result of the "controversy," I learned about moore's wildly successful slacker uprising tour --- turns out my housemate laura is on her way to milwaukee tonight to see it. when she gets back I'm going to ask her to repeat the 2004 slacker oath: "pick nose. pick butt. pick kerry." meanwhile, jason has rented fahrenheit 9/11 and vanessa has rented control room. check out more films to see before you vote.
PS: bill and I both laughed long and hard when we read this statement by michael moore a few weeks ago, back when the media were pronouncing kerry dead in the water.
across the street from the coffeeshop is an old movie theater, the majestic, which has been converted to a night club.
the marquee now reads THEOLOGY ON TAP.
Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams.
not only did bill & I spend weeks trekking around the country in my car this summer (~7800 miles) we got sucked into the california car-o-centric lifestyles while living in san jose (~2400 miles). worse, the car has been creeping into my life here in madison. my writing group is in monona, 6.23 miles and a 15-20 minute drive from rivendell and I have a weekly appointment out past whitney way, 5.97 miles and a 15-20 minute drive, so that's a minimum of an hour and fifteen minutes in the car every week.
which is all really quite extraordinary when you consider that I hate driving. really, I do.
not only do I hate driving, I also think that cars suck. I was reminded of just how much cars suck this morning when I (accidentally) wandered by the kickoff for a two-week-long campaign to reduce car use, madison's car-free challenge, which starts today with world car-free day. (car-free quotations)
alas, the car has already insinuated itself into my plans for the next two weeks. this saturday bill & and I are going to american players theater to see twelth night. (I went to cymbeline by myself last sunday.) on sept. 29th mignon arrives from CA, I'll be picking her up at the airport and then we're driving down to northeastern missouri for a visit to dancing rabbit. however, I think I'll sign up for the challenge anyway and make a commitment to ride my bike to my writing group next monday and to my appointment next tuesday because it's easy to have good intentions when the sun is shining crisply for the first day of fall but who knows what the weather will bring by next week. plus you can win cool prizes. it won't do bill any good to sign up for the car-free challenge because it only counts if you substitute walking/biking/bussing/paddling for driving and he already walks to work every day. no prizes for him :-P well, except for a reduced risk of dementia.
in addition to free coffee and pastries I got an excellent map (online version) from the event organizer madison environmental group that combines most of the information needed for alternative forms of transportation in madison. one side shows where and when city busses run (you need a bus schedule to find out the bus number, times and transfers required) and the locations of intercity bus stations, car rental agencies and park-n-ride lots. the other side shows bike paths and routes and the locations of bike shops, boat access points and boat rentals. the map puts all the pieces together --- what a great idea. I wish I had picked up a few extra to give to people. (update: they still had an info table when I walked home, so I snagged some maps to give to my housemates.)
I also learned about community car, a car-sharing organization in madison that maintains a small fleet of vehicles parked at various locations in madison. community car members can use the cars for a small hourly and per mile fee. I've often thought this would be a perfect system for occasional car use, and they're offering a free trial membership in conjunction with the car-free challenge.
you break it, you own it
How could we have gone to war without friends, without equipment, without thinking, without strategy, without understanding who the enemy really was, because I don't think we even knew that. We still don't know that today.
I don't understand!
from a cartoon in
the sun glints on the flickering edges of the waves.
if the plane fell out of the sky right now I would be very dead.