Alas my love, you do me wrong…

Yesterday afternoon the Democratic National Committee called. A nice volunteer somewhere was working the phone lists and trying to squeeze money out of registered Dems for the upcoming campaign. I know the run down all too well. I still feel the pain of the 2004 election. Oh, 2000 was an outrage to be sure; a right seizure of the White House by the courts, but 2004 was a loss, plain and simple. The Democrats couldn’t beat a man who stole the White House and started a war.

“Um, no, I’m not actually ready to give you any money,” I said to the woman on the phone. “Listen, I feel totally let down by the party. In the face of everything that’s happened, it looks to me like Congress has just rolled over and let the Republican leadership wreak havoc on – well, just about everything. Until I feel that the party actually represents my values and my causes, I can’t promise that I’m not going to vote Green in the next election.”

I have, in the past, been a staunchly loyal Democrat. While I do support Green values, I have primarily taken them on as a lifestyle choice, not a political one. But yesterday, as I was talking to the volunteer on the phone, I realized that what I was saying was true. I am thinking about voting Green.

Over the past two years I’ve been rather impressed with Maria Cantwell’s efforts around environmental issues. She was elected in the 2000 race, so it’s concerning that it took her nearly three years to become active on issues that are so important here in the Pacific Northwest. Still, I’d thought she was coming around. But we part ways at the “war”. And she’s really been getting up my nose about gas prices.

My view of Washington State’s political leanings is admittedly skewed. After all, I’m in the liberal ghetto, the heart of it. I still don’t trust that she’s representing the people, though. Our other two voices in Washington, Jim McDermott and Patty Murray, have been consistently against the war – which I believe really IS a partisan issue. But Maria had protestors camping outside her office to plead with her to change her stance.

Cantwell’s response to rising gas prices was to call for anti-gouging legislation. While gas companies are likely guilty of exploiting the situation for their own gain, gas isn’t a state owned concern. I think we’re subject to the capitalist economic laws of supply and demand. If Americans had been paying attention, we’d know that the supply lines in the Middle East were interrupted by the war(s) in Afghanistan (remember Afghanistan?) and Iraq. We’d know that Katrina nailed our supply lines in the gulf. We’d know that China’s demands on the market are diverting resources to the other side of the Pacific. We’d be adding all kinds of other information to the equation about gas prices. Cantwell’s anti-gouging proposals didn’t seem to account for this. And they weren’t accompanied with calls for alternatives.

Cheap gas is not a civil right and I take issue with anyone – politicians or otherwise – who acts as though it is. For perspective on this, insurance rates skyrocketed after 9/11. Where were the calls for anti-price gouging legislation on health insurance?

I discussed all of this with the volunteer on the phone. She suggested that I was not seeing positive action by Democrats because of The Media. “Nope, I’m not buying.” I said. “If I was the kind of person who only watched Fox News, you might have me. But I’m not. I read the alternative press. I seek my news from other sources. I read voting records on the web.” She sighed. “You wouldn’t believe how much I’m hearing this,” she said, diverting from her script. “Well, I hope you’re passing it along. Because I’m telling you, right now, I can’t promise that I will vote Democratic in this upcoming election. I’ll be watching to see what happens, you can guarantee it.”

As self important and tiresome as I am, my paltry vote may not matter one whit. Given that, if I vote for the party and they still let me down, why should I vote for them again? Oh, sure, Patrick Leahy and Ted Kennedy and Jim McDermott are blustering around in Congress, making noise of outrage and disgust. But where’s the action? Sound and fury, boys. Sound and fury. Meanwhile…. Wiretaps. Guantanamo Bay. CIA prisons in Central Europe. Phone records. Civil rights. 46 million uninsured Americans. Haliburton. The Patriot Act. Weapons of Mass Destruction. Donald Rumsfeld. Dick Cheney. George W. Freakin’ Bush. God help us.

Republicans impeached Clinton over a lie about a blow job. Democrats have… what, exactly? I haven’t switched allegiances yet, because if the Dems are ineffective, the Green party is invisible. But the Democrats have not delivered. Where is the fight? I am willing to be convinced that my perception of the Dems as rolling over and showing their bellies to the Republican leadership is wrong, but the party better hurry the hell up. November is not that far away.

Moto H605 Bluetooth headset

In an effort to get back to my tech roots, I’ve decided to write a review of one of my latest toys… the Motorola H605 Universal Bluetooth Headset.

SPECS

  • 10 hours talk time
  • 200 hours standby
  • 19g
  • Behind-the-ear headset design
  • Microphone mute
  • Pairs with 8 devices max
  • auto power save feature
  • $45 on Newegg

REVIEW

When I first saw the package, I was a little surprised at how big the device actually was. The picture on the right is pretty close to life size. The blister pack took very little effort to get open (which is rare these days) and no scissors or knife.
The headset was very light indeed and very Borg looking when on. I can’t tell if that’s real leather or pleather but it’s soft to the touch and has a little padding to it.

PRO: Charging port is USB 2.0 just like a RAZR, which is nice if you have a RAZR or any other device that runs USB 2.0. I only need one cable to recharge all my devices (as long as it’s not all at the same time).

CON: It takes a lot of effort to actually get it on your ear but when it’s on it AIN’T coming off (I tried rockin out to some Everclear to knock it off but to no avail).

PRO: While it’s on I barely notice and after a while I forget it’s there.  My Ray-Ban’s are still wearable but note that they have a really thin wire frame. Those of you with thick ass frames (like D&G or Versace sunglasses) will be uncomfortable.
PRO: First test was pairing it with both my V3 and my V330. Pairing was very simple and only took a couple of seconds.

CON: I may be able to pair with up to 8 devices, but I can’t use them both at the same time! Damn! Not a super big deal but since I have to carry 2 phones, it would’ve been nice. The other thing is it changes your profile… so instead of hearing my favorite Homestarrunner ring, I hear a standard ringing because It can’t play MP3’s…

PRO: Distance test exceeded my expectations… I was able to get about 45 ft. away from my V3 before my call recipent said I was breaking up. That’s much better than the advertised 30 ft.

PRO: The earbud pivots and swivels to get maximum ear placement. This is nice cause it blocks out external noise and increases hearability. Sound quality and volume on the call was awesome. I could hear w/o any problem in the office, in the car and at home (this is a big deal to me since I have hearing problems). The call recipients all had no problems hearing me from the car or the server room which makes me think it may have a background noise filter.

CON: When on your ear, the buttons are really hard to find.
PRO: Lots of functionality with the buttons: mute, call reject, answer second call, redial, join 3-way (the phone type that is), and if you have voice tags assigned, you can use your voice to call.

CONCLUSION

Having owned a few Bluetooth headsets in my day I can safely recommend this one to everyone.  None of the above cons are deal breakers… and I have really enjoyed using Motorola’s first behind-the-ear headset.

New Game: “Asshole you hate the most”

I propose we begin a new game.  It will go like this.  Name the asshole in the world you hate the most and give the reason why.  I will go first.  Idaho big-game hunter Jim Martell.  My reasoning?  Here you go:

The first polar-grizzly bear has been discovered.  This might sound neat at first, but it is quite distressing when you think about it.  It means that grizzlies are being pushed into polar territory.  Grizzlies are endangered now.  Polar bears are not currently considered endangered but they are the first to suffer as the ice cap melts– and everyone but the leader of the free fucking world agrees that the ice cap is melting.  So basically we have two endangered species that are so threatened that they are mating.  And then we need to consider that as they inter-breed their DNA gets watered-down…oy.  This is not good. 

Now let’s look at how we know about this bear.  We know about it becuase it was killed by a sadistic fucker from Idaho with a tiny, tiny penis (hmm, do you think he is a rich Republican who drives a hummer?) who paid a native guide to take him hunting for a polar bear.  Apparently in Canada you can pay 45,000 fucking dollars to kill a beautiful, majestic, near-endangered animal on its own turf.

 

Who put this list together?

Harold Bloom?

The New York Times is set to release it list of the best books of American fiction published in the last 25 years. And although they rated Toni Morrison’s Beloved as number 1 (with which I heartily disagree), of the remaining 24 runners up, there is only one woman (Marilynne Robinson for Housekeeping, which I haven’t read and can’t comment on). Further, the rest of the list reads like the white pages of northeastern Connecticut, with multiple entries for Philip Roth (with 7 of the 24), John Updike (4 entries) and Don Delillo (3), supported by individual nominations for Richard Ford, Mark Helprin, and Raymond Carver. In a nod to the west, Cormac McCarthy got 4 nominations as well.

Uhm, does anyone else see a pattern. This list looks like the modern American version of everyone’s favorite misogynist Harold Bloom’s irritatingly white male Western Canon. Now I’ll go with Underworld as the first runner up. In fact, I’ll say that probably should have been the winner. But having about half of those books, some of them very good, I can’t agree that they are that much better than everything else written since 1980. A few examples:

  • I would recommend Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season over A Confederacy of Dunces any day.
  • Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, which I’m reading now. Sure, it’s short stories, but it beats the socks off anything Mark Helprin ever wrote.
  • The Shipping News, anyone? Charming Billy? The Color Purple?
  • Susan Sontag? Ever hear of Marget Atwood? Carol Shields? Ann Tyler? Joan Didion?
  • And on the male writer front, I would have expected to see maybe some William Styron, Larry McMurtry, maybe an entry from a younger writer like Jonathan Lethem or Jonathan Franzen.
  • I definitely would have put Leif Enger’s Peace Like A River on that list. Like at the number 2 spot after Underword.

Sure. The list is subjective, but it is so undiverse, so full of the same names of white men of about similar ages and narrative outlooks, and is surprising considering the very wide range of writers who voted, so many of them people who desserve to be on the list themselves.

 

 

 

Mango Mania

So the other day I was in my favorite grocery store– New Seasons Market– and as I was wandering around the produce section admiring all the new delights that are starting to trickle in from local farms, I smelled it— the best scent in the world. 

Thing was, I couldn’t quite place what it was.  So I started to approach one thing at a time and take a big whiff in order to pinpoint what I was sure was my favorite scent.  First the melons– no, that wasn’t it.  Then a pinnaple– no, that wasn’t it.  Finally I saw some small peaches and stuck my nose close to the bin– these were it.

The peaches were hard and weren’t organic, so I didn’t get any.  But I understand the excitment that Indians feel when mango season arrives.  This is a great article on the frenzy in Bombay over the real deal. BTW, we are going to be able to get real Indian mangoes in the US soon.  I have read that they are unimaginably better than the mutant commercial lines we are offered here now.

Change Me

I make it sound like being a hostage to work is always a bad thing. But full disclosure: when I get to work on something like Getty Images’ Change Me program, it’s worth all the hours away from Smithlet, the boys and Casa Nonfamous. And in this case I do mean all the hours.

Please, please check out the site. It’s very simple… you select one of the million of images on the Getty Images site and post it to Change Me with a short comment. For each submission, Getty Images will donate $10 to Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

But don’t take my word for it: mcjoan at Daily Kos is far more eloquent, and far lovelier.

While I’m not going to blog about all the behind-the-scenes details of the launch event at the Tribeca Film Festival last week, I think it’s fair to say that my posse and I throw a pretty decent party. I did get to meet Richard Gere. I did not get to meet Michelle Rodriguez. But I did eventually get a cocktail and can’t remember a time when I needed one more. Oh, OK… one more party tidbit: DJ Spooky is one of the nicest guys on the planet.

And though you can’t link directly to individual submissions, you can search the site by name. So find your favorite celebrity or our dear friend Seth Row. Seth, your submission is really beautiful. I hope to say the same about the rest of you and your selections.

Iran as mirror

File under: When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

This NYT article gave me pause:

With the tone of a teacher and the certainty of a believer, the president of Iran wrote to President Bush that Western democracy had failed and that the invasion of Iraq, American treatment of prisoners and support for Israel could not be reconciled with Christian values.Locked in a conflict with the West over Iran’s nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the observations in a letter on Monday that the Iranian government said “raised new ways of solving problems.”

The 18-page letter, whose text was made available by United Nations diplomats on Tuesday, did not offer any concrete proposals for dealing with the crisis, but suggested that the United States give up its liberal, democratic, secular system and turn more toward religion.

“Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems,” Mr. Ahmadinejad wrote.

It’s really interesting to reflect on the twin histories of the US and Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The mullahs took 70 Americans hostage and held them for 444 days. This led, by way of an October Surprise, to a landslide for Reagan. Since that victory, the mullahs here have been slowly taking our democracy hostage. Not counting the Clinton Interregnum, they’re on about 6,200 days of captivity. So it’s really no surprise to see the leader of Iran lecturing Bush on the finer points of managing a theocracy.

Of course Bush doesn’t really listen to anyone… but if he did, who better to guide him than a fellow puppet of fundamentalist clerics? If these two don’t manage to bring on World War III, maybe Ahmadinejad can join Bush’s think tank. That would be far less strange than George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton’s newfound bonhomie, right?
Iran is a mirror of what we’ve become, and Bush is leading us through the looking-glass. The more Bush rattles his saber at Iran, the more it will look like shadowboxing. The more he bombs them, the more explosions we will see here. It is the simplest equation. We have seen the enemy and they are us.

[Sorry, by the way, for being a bad blogger. I’ve been a hostage to work lately. I’ll work on busting loose a little.]

Iranian Letter: Using Religion to Lecture Bush – New York Times

Iranian Letter: Using Religion to Lecture Bush – New York Times
With the tone of a teacher and the certainty of a believer, the president of Iran wrote to President Bush that Western democracy had failed and that the invasion of Iraq, American treatment of prisoners and support for Israel could not be reconciled with Christian values.

Locked in a conflict with the West over Iran\\\’s nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the observations in a letter on Monday that the Iranian government said “raised new ways of solving problems.”

The 18-page letter, whose text was made available by United Nations diplomats on Tuesday, did not offer any concrete proposals for dealing with the crisis, but suggested that the United States give up its liberal, democratic, secular system and turn more toward religion.

“Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems,” Mr. Ahmadinejad wrote.