December 21st, 2002

Switch to Canada

For those of you for whom Apple’s Switch campaign was not enough, now there’s John’s Switch to Canada. It’s pretty flawless.

I’ll admit it. Every time I visit Vancouver, I wonder about it. Every time I hear George Bush (or Trent Lott) speak I think about it. Every time I think about John Ashcroft shredding the Bill of Rights, it dawns on me that someday I might not have much of a choice. I love the ideal of America, but the country I love is being eroded– nay, stolen out from under us– and there are times when my frustration reaches the point of despair.

All this reminds me of a favorite Pedro the Lion lyric, from the song “Of Up and Coming Monarchs” from the amazing EP Progress:

There once was a time
One could flee to the north
But canada’s not what she used to be
Boycott the war
Well she could not afford to
Thanks to the new American queen

Obscure, to be sure, and basically innacurate. According to Immigration Canada’s online test, I qualify to immigrate based on my status as a skilled (and moderately Francophone) worker. I would need to pay CDN$525 to apply and have $9,186 to support myself for 6 months upon arrival (that sounds a bit low), but these do not seem to be huge barriers.

So I’m not packing my bags, but as Pedro the Lion sings, “It’s good to have options.”


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December 19th, 2002

Trading Spaces auction!

If you haven’t yet gotten me a Christmas present, there’s still hope. eBay is hosting a Trading Spaces charity auction. Options include an ornament handmade by Frank (no thank you, especially at the current bid of $510.00) and a two-hour consult with Vern (better, but just give me $3,050 instead).

The bad news is all you can get from Ty is a candle holder or a pair of work goggles. I can think of SO many more things of Ty’s I’d gladly pay for. Of course eBay has that pesky rule about “freshly laundered clothing only.” Buzzkills.

(I need to credit the excellent blog Backup Brain for this one.)


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December 18th, 2002

Me and Bud, We Go Way Back

I am a fan of Calvin Trillin. Now, there are those who might go so far as to say that I’m obsessed with the man, but they would be people who neither know me nor my ability to obsess all that well. I would guess that they would also be people who have never read any of his work (or were just sadly incapable of appreciating it), especially The Tummy Trilogy, one of my favorite books. Well, technically, it’s three books, each as brilliant and funny as the next, all together in one convenient binding, but you get the idea.
Read the rest of this entry »


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December 18th, 2002

Out-Bushing the Bushes

Just when you thought no politician could make wring less sense out of the English language than George H.W. and son Shrub have managed to do, Trent Lott comes along and stammers his way through an interview on BET. Slate has this deservedly merciless critique of the whole painful episode.

All of this makes me long for an Orwell among the punditry, someone who could write an essay like “Politics and the English Language” for today. To quote that masterwork:

I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought. Stuart Chase and others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don’t know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin, where it belongs.


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December 17th, 2002

Damn Lies

Warning: rant about graphing data to follow!
Check out today’s entry in rightwingnuts.org about Bush’s plan to reduce that oh-so-odious tax burden on the rich, as reported in the Washington Post. The Seattle Times also picked up this one, and attempted to liven the debate with an illustrative graphic. Of course, they screwed it up totally. The 1% bar is already represented by the 5% bar, and they missed out the entire middle class (60-95% quantile of income)! (Hint to graphic artists: if you’re going to draw a bar chart of percentages, make them add to 100%.) I re-did the chart in Excel, and you can see that a real chart tells a very different picture: actually, it’s the middle classes that carry the greatest share of the tax burden, however you look at it. Poor Tufte must be rolling in his grave (I heard he was killed when one of his sculptures toppled on him.)


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December 17th, 2002

Analysis of A.I.’s ending

Speilberg’s A.I. is one of my favourite films, but it got a bad rap for its apparently hokey ending. I’ve always felt it was a great film (and with one of the most innovative viral marketing campaigns ever, to boot). In particular, I always liked the ending, but I was never sure why. I recently stumbled upon this analysis of the ending of A.I. which provides a great interpretation which fits perfectly into the Kubrickean themes of the film. Now I’ll have to go and watch it again.


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December 16th, 2002

Stand back! She’s gonna blow!

CD-ROM drives are getting faster all the time; the one in my 18 month old Dell is 32x, and 128x units are on the market now. But did you know that drives over 64x are theoretically impossible to create? This article is an amusing demonstration of what can happen if you spin an ordinary CD too rapidly.

So how do manufacturers get away with it? The trick is that they only report the speed of reading at the outermost track (where the CD-ROM surface moves fastest); the drive actually slows down to read the innermost tracks to maintain a constant bitrate. The practical study above assumed a constant speed for the whole CD. Unfortunately, The Age in Melbourne missed this subtlety, and published a sensational article warning hapless PC users to stand clear of high-speed CD-ROM drives.


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December 12th, 2002

What about the Malibu Bushie doll?

Welcome to TalkingPresidents.com. We are the creators of the first and ONLY talking presidential action figures. Our first release, President George W. Bush, says 17 different phrases in his own voice. Some phrases are political, some patriotic, while others show his comedic use (or misuse) of the English language.

These dolls can be enjoyed by any political aficionado and are the
perfect educational addition to any child’s collection of dolls.”

Clearly, I want one of these for Christmas. Then I could put it in complicated and compromising positions with my WaMu Actional Teller figure.


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December 11th, 2002

An Essay on Why I Stopped Dating Younger Men

Recently, the Universe reminded me: “Daniel, there is a reason you resolved not to date younger men anymore, remember?”

This summer, my Reason was named Morgan. Before that, the Reason was called Lonny, Al, Moses (yes really), Greg, Brian, Jay, etc. Different blooming young roses by different names, but ultimately, they all smelled as stinky.

Here’s my problem: I’m 28-years-old, but am often taken for 25 or younger, so I tend to attract the younger set. What usually happens with these younger “men” is we’ll have some really good dates — everything seems romantic and nice, no red flags — and then all of a sudden, the guy gets weird and goes incommunicado for no apparent reason.

Then, he has to be asked what’s wrong and he comes out with “I’m confused” or “I don’t think I’m ready for a relationship.” He then suggests we continue to “hang out” as “friends.”

In this galling situation, I always want to say this — and I did, in an email to Morgan, which was really less an email to Morgan than an epistolary essay directed at all younger men I’ve ever dated:

Hello Morgan,

Hello?! Who said anything about a “relationship” anyway? I just wanted to have dinner sometimes, see some movies, maybe have some making out and steamy sex, and see what comes of it, if anything.

I am not ovulating and ready to chain myself to a husband so I can have a baby.

And trust me, I’m in no rush to shack up in an apartment with somebody — I’ve already done that. I’m especially not interested in moving in with any men in their early 20s who are just getting started out in life, who have no money and no idea who they are, what sort of career they’re going to have or where they’ll be living long term. I’m too young to play the Daddy.

All I want is some fun right now. But for some reason, boys think that if you spend time together more than once or twice, it must be “a relationship,” which is for some reason something horrid and foreboding in their minds. God forbid you should make any kind of meaningful emotional connection to another human being. I have trouble understanding the thinking there… I was just very different in my early 20s from the other guys I meet who are that age.

Anyway, this concludes my rant. It’s less directed at you specifically than at all gay men I’ve ever dated in their early 20s. I’m just feeling very opinionated this morning. :)

And I’m glad you enjoyed hanging out with me and my friends, but I’m less and less a subscriber to the idea that if you date a man and it doesn’t work out, you should therefore turn him into a “buddy” and just pretend like you’ve never kissed or slept together.

That shit is fucked up, yo. Straight people don’t do that, so why should I? You and I should just hang out with people our own ages who we have more in common with. That said, it was very nice meeting you and I wish you well.

Best,
Daniel


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December 10th, 2002

Have you seen this man?

Have you recently met, or had a relationship with this man? Police are seeking assistance from the community to track down and arrest this miscreant. Investigations have been hampered by the poor quality of the artist’s rendition of the suspect.


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