Monday, December 29, 2008

stop coughing

As soon as the temperature drops below 50 degrees, why is it that everyone starts coughing everywhere all the time? I can't go outside my door without hearing someone in the hallway cough. Then someone at the bus stop coughs as I walk by. Then someone at the Metro stop coughs, then on the Metro, and again at the next stop, then on the escalator, and on the street, then at the intersection with the long light, again in lobby of my building, another time on the elevator, and finally one last time as I walk down the row of cubes to my office. Today I heard someone coughing for 30 straight minutes at McDonald's across the street from my window. Cough. Cough. Cough. I think it must be boredom or something. You're sitting on the metro, thinking about how bored you have been for the last 6 minutes and how bored you'll be sitting there for the next 12 minutes, and wondering why you're so bored even though you've taken the same metro trip twice a day for 15 years and haven't thought to bring something to read or listen to, and then you hear someone cough, think to yourself, "Holy shit, that would break my boredom for 4/10 of a second," and then "COUGH!" Suddenly the rush of boredomlessness is over, and you wallow in its passing, and yearn for it to lift your spirits again, so again, you "COUGH! COUGH! COUGH!" But by now it's getting old, and you don't get the same thrill as the first time you coughed. Your marginal utility on each successive cough decreases, you reassess your boredom reduction strategy, and you start to risk seeming rude to the other passengers, assuming that you have even considered the other passengers standing 6 inches from your face in every direction at 7:55 am. So you pause and collect yourself, retreating into a deeper boredom. Then you hear someone on the other side of the train cough several times, and you wistfully recall how it was when you coughed, growing ever more jealous of their cough-induced glee. The cough continues its slow echo around the train: from the elderly man to the high school girl to the unkept person everyone knows is sick and/or crazy and tries to avoid at all costs without looking like they're trying to avoid him. "How long before I can go back to coughing without seeming suspicious?" you think. You know you don't have a cold, or even a chronic cough, in fact whenever you cough you giggle to yourself about how implausible it is that 9/10 of the passengers riding the train at any one time has either of these conditions. But still you debate within yourself the merits and demerits of sending yourself into another artificial coughing episode. So 45 seconds after your last cough, you "COUGH!!!" again, this time really loudly, partly to convey the seriousness of your made-up condition to your fellow passengers, so that the next fit of fake coughing you engage in a minute from now, and each minute thereafter until you get off at Gallery Place, is presumed to be necessary rather than entirely unnecessary and completely annoying. You get off the train, cough again, go up the escalator, cough, walk down the street, cough, stop at the long light, cough, walk into the lobby, cough, go up the elevator, cough, walk down the hallway, cough, and then turn around, go outside, and sit outside at McDonald's in the 35-degree weather sipping your hot cup o' jo for a half hour, coughing the whole goddamn time.

Brice Lord sighting?

A contemporary of mine alerted me to a possible Brice Lord sighting at an anonymous Holiday Sweater Party on 12/13. Well, I guess it isn't anonymous if it's capitalized. The Brice Lord candidate seems to have been seen and noted by an amorous 25-year old woman at said Holiday Sweater Party who then posted this missed connection ("naughty or nice") on Craig's List 6 days later; the 6-day delay was likely put to good use in developing the playfully suggestive post (e.g. "you looking for a mrs. claus, mr. claus? hit me up and we can spread a little holiday cheer..."). Apparently the enamored saw Brice Lord's likeness on "an acquaintances' photos on facebook" and decided to act on this particularly productive and fortuitous episode of stalking.


Unfortunately for Brice Lord proper---that is, the real Brice Lord---he was not at the Holiday Sweater Party but instead dutifully studying for final exams that evening, so the gentleman with dashing good looks, brand new Nike kicks, a fitted olive green faux-WWII-era military issue shirt, a questionable black and yellow scarf, what looks like half a knit beanie, and proportionally large hands gently grasping a solo cup filled with jungle juice as if it were a snifter of cognac is not, alas, Brice Lord. It should also be noted to the readership, and to the lascivious Mrs. Claus, that Brice Lord is exceedingly homosexual, so in actuality, were Brice Lord even at this party---and if he were he would probably dress quite similarly---he would be surveying the "m4m" section later that week instead.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dokken and the Electoral College

I got an email earlier today from my friend Nate, who, after years of ridiculing blogging (for good reasons), told me he just caved in and started his own blog. I realized when he said this that I "haven't posted anything in forever," as my life partner, Michael, friends, creditors, and pen pal Vladimir have been telling me for a few months. Sorry everyone, I guess work, grad school, and moving got in the way. Bitter? No...

So this gives me a good opportunity to both introduce Nate's blog, "Rockin' with Dokken," and to step back into blogging. [I hate any word that uses "blog" as its root, by the way.] You see, now that I have immediate competition from my friends, I'm once again motivated to write on my blog. It's the same behavior that results when you have two guitarists and one guitar in a room. As soon as one guy picks up the guitar and starts playing, the other guy eyes it feverishly and, masking his craving to show that he can also play, calmly asks, "Hey, uh, can I play/give it a whirl/grab the axe/shred for a bit?" So it's not truly altruistic on my part to plug Rockin with Dokken---to the extent someone who gets like 25 hits a day can plug anything.

Nate's first post on those stupid "I Voted" stickers is pretty dead on. I always feel an annoying pressure to vote whenever I see them, which I guess is the point. If I don't vote, I'm not in the sticker club, and I haven't done what I was supposed to do, so I should feel bad. I never saw the point of voting for someone who I didn't think would be a good leader (not to be confused with a good politician), and I still feel that way. I'm not going to exercise my civic right to support a politician in an election just because P. Diddy tells me to (or threatens me to). This pressure led me to vote for Bush in 2004 for god knows what reason, so I'm pretty skeptical that just voting for the sake of voting empowers people to elect leaders that serve their interests any more than not voting does.


"Seriously, I will kill you."


Since it's Election Day, I have a unique opportunity to sway massive public opinion (ha!). I'm not going to get into who to vote for---if you haven't figured it out by now, just don't vote (seriously). Here's my gripe: why do we still have an electoral college? A few days ago I heard Pat Buchanan on MSNBC talking about the possibility of McCain threading his way to victory by way of a popular vote loss but an electoral college win. The New York Times has a story discussing this possibility, as well.

Does this make sense? I realize the the U.S. presidential election system is an indirect democracy, but the present manifestation of something doesn't lend evidence for its existence. That is, just because we're doing something a certain way doesn't mean we can't do it differently, and better. Why not have a direct democracy, (i.e. a true democracy) in which each vote is equal to every other vote. Why should my vote in heavily-Democratic DC have far less impact than someone's vote in Arlington, Virginia, which is 2 miles away?

Good question. Let's look at where this wacky idea of an electoral college came from: the U.S. Constitution. According to the source of infinite knowledge, Wikipedia:

The design of the Electoral College was based upon several assumptions and anticipations of the Framers of the Constitution:
1. Each state would employ the district system of allocating electors.
2. Each presidential elector would exercise independent judgment when voting.
3. Candidates for either office would not pair together on the same ticket.
4. The system as designed would rarely produce a winner, thus sending the election to
Congress.

Hmm. Number 4 looks like a troublemaker. Seems strange to me that the framers would construct a system that intended to rely on Congress to pick a President and Vice President. Turns out this bit them in the ass in 1796 and again in 1800 after the emergence of political parties, which became effective in gathering large blocks of electoral votes, and thus in manipulating the electoral system to their advantage. In fact, the famously bitter schism between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton arose from Hamilton's support for Thomas Jefferson when Jefferson and Burr were tied for electoral votes for President in the 1800 election, resulting in the Jefferson Presidency. Burr (the sitting Vice President) later shot and killed Hamilton (the sitting Treasury Secretary) for this transgression. Who ever said the Framers were perfect?

The 12th Amendment changed the original system from one in which electors would cast two votes for President to one in which they would cast one for President and one for VP. This is still in place today. No further shootings occurred.

"Hey Hamilton, go fuck yourself."

Enough of the boring stuff.

So it is apparent to me that the Framers were more concerned with establishing an electoral system that satisfied the political whims of the time rather than one that was grounded in democratic principles, those being equality of representation and justice.


If the electoral college system worked such that it exactly represented the popular vote, there would be less of a case against it. Of course, then we'd have to wonder why we even have such an elaborate (and thus, expensive) system. But, unfortunately, as we saw in 2000, the electoral vote put Bush into the Presidency, even though the popular vote should have carried Gore, by half a million votes, to the White House. Whoops. That should have been enough to motivate us to replace the electoral system with a direct democracy. Obviously it didn't. Whether or not the current election actually results in another split between the votes of the electorate and the votes of the people is entirely unimportant. The prospect that it is still a possibility in this and all future elections is grounds for dismantlement or systemic repair. It flouts the contemporary concept of democracy.


So, why do we still carry on with this antiquated system? Precedent provides momentum, sure. But, remember what happened once the electorate was first formed? Political parties self-organized, gathering electoral votes, and accreted power. In any social institution, people will always expand their authority to the extent allowed by the rules, and once that power exists, it is very difficult to change rules that would affect the distribution of power. And so, though the Republicans may hate the Democrats, and the Democrats may hate the Republicans, they need each other to perpetuate the dominance of the two-party system, in the same way that Fidel Castro needs the United States, Garfield needs Odie, and peanut butter needs jelly (why do you think there's an ampersand between them? They HATE each other).

Garfield and Odie: now a compelling political parable.

I'm sure this is rife with applications of game theory, if I understood it. Basically, without an electoral college, third, fourth, and fifth parties could start to eat away at the incumbent parties' votes, and thus their political power. And why would they want that?

Now let's all get drunk and watch the results.

Postlude: I realize there are argument of states' rights, urban overrepresentation, and others, that can be made in favor of the electoral college, and perhaps they can be made convincingly, but any system that strives to be a democratic one must, as a first principle, ensure equality of representation. Before any argument for keeping the current system is considered, I believe you have to first assess whether the current system is functioning to preserve the fundamental democratic rights of the people. If it is not, any argument in support of it fails. But I'm open to argument.

Monday, September 15, 2008

So it is a Crusade to some people

I don't need to spend much time on this to get my point across.

I caught this story on Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's belief that the war in Iraq is "a task that is from God." When war is described as "a task from God," it is a crusade, if you are Christian. It's a jihad if you're Muslim. Think about that.

Apparently she also asked voters to approve the proposed $30B Alaskan natural gas pipeline, citing that "God's will has to be done ... to get that gas line built." And how could you vote against God?

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Republicans are Socialists

With the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, supposedly to "cushion" the economic decline, one has to wonder how anybody who likes small government and fiscal responsibility could ever continue to support the Republican Party. This move by the Executive Branch essentially constitutes nationalization of the biggest U.S. mortgage lenders, or, put more directly, a big step toward socialism. What's wrong with socialism? I'm not sure; Canada, Sweden, and a host of other better-run countries sure get along fine with it, but if you're a Republican, "socialism" is about equal to "Nazism". What is wrong with this is that those of us who didn't overextend ourselves financially during the artificial housing boom now get to pay for all of those who did, including the lenders, consumers, mortgage backers, and stockholders. And let's not forget the regulators.

This sounds familiar. What other monstrous government programs have seen massive expansion during the past 8 years of Republican Executive control? Oh right, the military. This will saddle each and every American with an incredible amount of tax burden. And don't forget the party's inability to reform mandatory medical programs, which have been growing rapidly. Thanks again, Republicans!

So, while I support small government and fiscal responsibility, I certainly can't in good faith support the Republican party, nor can I see how anybody could who shares my support. The Republican party's actions and its traditional goals have clearly split ways. It's a political shell with only historical rhetoric inside, thus the puffy RNC last week. So, when you go to vote in November, don't forget the fact that John McCain has an "R" following his surname. If you don't want to vote for a Democrat, that's fine, just don't vote. That's an option that is too-often overlooked and unfairly criticized.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Tempest

Us East Coasters got ourselves a big fancy tropical storm motorin' up to meet us this weekend. Fortunately, it's striking at the precise moment at which it could never possibly result in us getting any time off work. Awesome.

After having no snow days for the past 5 years, this isn't terribly surprising: the DC Council did pass the No Fun Act of 2003 followed by the Sucks To Be You Amendment in 2004. In addition to diverting or stalling potentially fun-inducing major weather phenomena, this legislation is responsible for allowing Mayor Fenty's recent questionable behavior. Apparently he's been seen knocking cigarettes out of smoker's fingers hands followed by that walking-backwards double-middle-finger move, and aggressively enforcing parking laws by torching offenders' cars with molotov cocktails.

Anyway, we're all looking forward to this squall. Last time we had one everyone just drank their faces off and partied. Seems like a rational and adult way to approach severe weather to me.



Friday, August 01, 2008

Yacht Rock

I'm not sure if I've ever seen early 80's corporate rock portrayed so well. Yacht Rock Episode 11 tells the story of Jimmy Buffett coercing Kenny Loggins into writing Footloose for a favor to be paid by Kevin Bacon and a Hollywood music exec. Kevin Lee guest stars as Bacon. And it's fucking hilarious.



Word to the Dubs for sending me this.

It's Been Awhile

No, I haven't posted anything since June 12, that's right. I got married on June 22 and then had 3 weeks of vacation following, but I haven't yet determined if that's related.

Since you've all waited so patiently, here's a gem from Wired Magazine's coverage of Comic-Con 2008. A 38-year old self-styled Los Angeles superhero who I've dubbed The Blue Bulge.


The Blue Bulge is: Repulsive.


This is another mark against humanity's survival, I think.

I've got a busy weekend ahead rooting for losing DC sports teams (DC United and the Nationals), so I'll add stories and pictures from our wedding and honeymoon in Greece sometime in next week-ish.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dumped for Obama

My friend Rachel wrote a pretty clever song about her relationship with her ex, who was feverishly in-love with Obama, despite not working on the campaign or in politics at all. Things got weird when he wanted to spend the weekends cruising the swing states during the primaries just to be part of the scene, and maybe catch a shiny glimpse of the populist pin-up himself. Not that I haven't had mancrushes before (c.f. Bear Grylls), but I doubt I'd lay my relationship down for it...unless that's what Bear wanted.

Anyway, Rachel, inspired by the "I Have a Crush on Obama" girl, put this song together out of light-hearted recrimination for the platonic political estrangement (I am HOT on alliteration right now). My sexxxy Moroccan boyfriend, Michael, directed the video. He was also the Dolly Grip, if you know what I mean.

The clip has received some legitimate press, including Politico, DCist, as well as a nod from the original Obama Girl herself. It's okay if you don't know who the Obama Girl is. I didn't, but it's still funny.

So here's the video, and cheers to Rachel!


Monday, May 19, 2008

Stumble for the Cure - coming this summer

The other day I was thinking of new ways to pass the long, hot, humid summer months here in DC. Ways that would involve the three cornerstones of metropolitan DC life: overdressed 20-somethings, charity events, and drinking. So, one day, like the guy who sells those $600 vacuum cleaners, "I had it."

This summer I'm organizing "Stumble for the Cure."

Attire is black-tie optional. Male and female participants will wear their two-piece suits or tuxes (ties required for the gentlemen, hose for the ladies), and all will be encouraged to also don outer jackets, such as an overcoat, and hats. We will begin the day with the most important activity of all: networking over a dozen or so drinks at a bar, beginning around 12:00 pm or so on a clear, hot Saturday in July or August. Then around 3:00 pm we'll head down to the Mall for the race. Yes, the race.

Participants will line-up, in full Hill garb (man purses recommended), and wait for the starting whistle. Upon starting, we'll sprint through the 1-mile course and do our best to outrace our friends and contemporaries. We will require a business card to be affixed to your suit so that we can properly award the top 3 finishers with glowing praise and flowing beer at the celebration to follow at a nearby bar. And since no DC event is complete without some sort of philanthropy, we'll ask all participants to donate $25 to a legitimate, well-purposed, and nonpartisan charity.

I hope you're as excited about this idea as I am, because sprinting for a mile in DC's humid summer sun with a belly full of delicious dirty martinis sounds like as good a charity event as I've ever heard.

Email me at endthecolawars@gmail.com if you're interested in participating.

STUMBLE FOR THE CURE!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Overheard in DC

On the Metro, as people try to squeeze onto the train:

Woman #1, polite, smiling: Pleeease don't push, I'm very pregnant!

Woman #2, snarky, pushing: Well maybe you shouldn't ride the Metro during rush hour, honey!

Rest of the train: (rising "oooooh" as if Rudy from The Cosby Show just mouthed off to Bill Huxtable)

Thursday, ~6:30pm, Red Line, Metro Center.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stock Picks

All's been quiet on ETCW! lately. Your wondrous authors have been too busy coping with real life to put much time into the ole' blog.

Anyway, in my spare time, I've been watching my fortunes in E*Trade (ETFC) float up and down...okay, mostly down...since late November. In fact, I managed to pick a local maxima when I bought it. As it has shed most of its mortgage debt, it's still probably a good buy considering how low the price is, though it's now turned into a long-term investment.

Also, I've been studying up a bit on technical analysis, for what it's worth. Essentially, it's a mathematical, analytical approach to stock analysis, though one that doesn't stand on its own. You need also be aware of prevailing economic conditions (our little recession), sector trends (such as booming oil), the quarterly earnings reports, and any issues with the company's management. So, that said, here's a little prognostication I'm going to make based on my rudimentary understanding of stocks.

Get ready to short Google (GOOG). Google's price is booming right now due to a much better than expected earnings report and a general sense of buoyancy in the tech sector (it's fared better than the Dow). GOOG's also pushed along by it's forward P/E as well as the general mysticism associated with the company. But, here's the problem I see coming down the pike. GOOG is approaching being overbought, and its momentum will start to burn out soon (see the Relative Strength Index plot). When this happens, the price will deflate, spurred on by lackluster advance GDP numbers for the 1st Q of 2008 to be released tomorrow. Another thing that's tipping me off is the slow convergence of the Slow Stochastic Oscillator (the chart below the RSI plot). Basically, when the blue line is above the red line, there is positive pressure, but when they start to converge, and the red overtakes the blue, the price is going to drop. Of course, just looking at this one tool you don't know if it's just a momentary pause, which is why you need to look across a variety of indicators. Additionally, checking out the Money Flow Index (GOOG), the divergence between the jump in price and the MFI is telling me that this is probably a weak advance. Now, that's a 1-year retrospective analysis, and I'm not looking to short Google for the next year. So, looking at the 3-month chart, the situation looks the same. All these factors put together, and you've got the making of a reversal. My superexpert financial advice: short Google.

Admittedly, this is a bit crude and elementary, but I think an empirical approach seems to make the most sense if you want to learn about stocks. Pick a few stocks to watch, learn a little bit, form a hypothesis, then watch what happens.

Don't want to buy stocks? Afraid of inflation? Get a hold of some TIPS.

Note: Past performance absolutely guarantees future performance. Buy Buy Buy.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Success!

Somehow, I got into grad school. I'll be going back to school in the fall, which means I have to fit in 3 years of fun I won't have over the next 3 years into 6 months of fun over the next 6 months. I hope you like that redundancy. I'm looking forward to commuting on the green line and being an awkward mascot gag at parties, like my man Testudo here.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Steak-Umm in your mouth!

So I was recently on business travel in Colorado this weekend, and per usual, was casually perusing my computer for the next stock I can lose hundreds of dollars on while half-heartedly watching a CSI episode in the background.

But then, something caught my attention. Maybe it was the obnoxiously funky bassline or the male/female back-and-forth reminiscent of a radio commercial from the mid-90's, or maybe it was that I hadn't heard "Steak-Umm" uttered since I was 5 years old. It may also have been the lyrics to the jingle:

Guy: "You can Steak-Umm in the North!"
Girl: "You can Steak-Umm in the South!"
Together: "But the best part of all..."
"...is when you Steak-Umm in your mouth!" (emphasis added)


I don't want to start picking apart the logic here, but, well, it's confusing to combine two locational possibilities of having a Steak-Umm with the optimal place to Steak-Umm someone (or something), which is "in your mouth," or more suggestively, my mouth. I'd go so far as to say that many people wouldn't be too pleased if I starting Steak-Umming in my mouth in a public place, even if it were in the North.

Also tremendously disturbing is the use of "Steak-Umm" as a verb. You can't "verb" meat without causing a dry-heave in the audience. For instance,

"The best part of all is...
...when you pork in your mouth!"
...when you shrimp in your mouth!"
...when you ground chuck in your mouth!"
...when you sausage in your mouth!"
...when you crab in your mouth!"
...when you tuna in your mouth!"
...when you fowl in your mouth!"

Now, I don't blame Steak-Umms for going cheap on their first ad push in 300 years, but somewhere in the management chain there needs to be that quality control person who has at least a feeble connection to reality (and who also wants to keep their job). You would expect anyone above 13 years old to understand that Steak-Umming in someone's mouth might not be taken at "face" value. Ha! Welcome to PunTown. McDonald's made a similar mistake in their "I'd Hit It!" dollar double-cheeseburger marketing campaign. To any and all, that would mean that McDonald's wants you to fuck its sandwiches. But, hey, who has time to do 5 minutes worth of background research (i.e. Googling)? Print it, get it out the door, and watch the profits rollllllllllll in!



To capitalize on this fully self-unaware ad campaign, I suggest a strong follow-up:

"Steak-Umms, Come and Get Some!"

Google's sense of humor



Google's April fool's joke this year popped up on Gmail in the form of a back-dating capability, so that you can tell your girlfriend (or in my case, hot Moroccan boyfriend) you sent an email to her three weeks ago saying that if she didn't respond in three weeks she owed you $4,000. An ostensible three weeks later, I'd be rolling in the dough. Unfortunately, it's a joke, and I still need $4,000 to pay off my lost bet that Bengay would work better as a drink mixer than as a pain reliever. Google knows better than to trust people with the fabric of space-time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bible History #1

From the same twisted mind that brought us the George Washington music video, Bible history has never been so illustrative and perplexing.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jeff Foxworthy "digs in" to mass marketing


Here's something I've been sitting on for awhile. When I was in Boulder in January I stopped at the local S-Mart and picked up some Jeff Foxworthy brand beef jerky. I bought it out of the same tragic need for masochistic irony as when I went into Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville in Las Vegas.

According to Jeff himself, it's so good you'll want to eat it naked, but you shouldn't. The only part of the joke I got was when I realized that I had shelled out six bucks for this bag of mediocre jerky, and eaten it naked. Jeff Foxworthy wins again.



Munch


I've been too busy with work and applying to grad school as of late to produce anything noteworthy for the ole' blog, so I'll just regurgitate something cool I saw. Look at this picture. Marvel at how awesome it is, and by association, me. The picture's real from what I read.

It's a shark eat shark world, HAHAHAHA1HA!HAHA!!!11!!! LOL..sigh

Friday, March 07, 2008

Cold

I'm on DayQuil right now, and life is, for the moment, unconcerning and surrounded by fuzz.

I caught a cold somewhere in Utah probably. Now I'm enjoying self-medication. Last time I said something like this I ended up in the hospital after taking Vicoprofen and passing out at work...but caution be damned! God Bless the benevolent alchemists at Vick's Co.; may their bells ring stridently for the lives of a thousand Suns.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Utah

Here's a picture from my first day out here in Utah. I took it with my phone at the top of Deer Valley. I wanted to take real pictures with my real camera, but the batteries somehow slipped out of it when I took it out of my pocket and then fell 40 feet below into the snow while on the lift. Oh well.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Skiing, Beers, and Mormons

I'm headed to Utah tomorrow to ski for about 4 or 5 days. This will be my first ski trip since Vail last year. Skiing in the Rockies is really incomparable to anything you can find on the East Coast. It's going to be a most righteous trip. I don't have much else to say because I'm afraid of jinxing it, despite my firm disbelief in jinxes. If irony is to be glaring, I'd prefer not to goad it on a public forum. So, all I can say is that I'll bring back pictures of skiing, beers, and Mormons.

And I apologize for not posting much lately. I have some things in the works but no time to work on them. Sigh, I know; a blogger palliating his laziness with extenuating circumstances is about as pathetic and dull as watching Tron on a nice Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

let the heavens open

Since it doesn't snow in the Mid-Atlantic anymore, it's hard to get excited about dangerous winter weather phenomena, which is why I'm giddy about the crazy thunderstorms rolling across the "South" and bearing down on the East Coast. Summer thunderstorms can be spectacular, so I'm really looking forward to (hopefully) seeing some fireworks outside later this afternoon, and what a treat that would be for early February. God bless SUVs.

In the spirit of unfettered chaos, I took this picture from my apartment last summer as a deep dark storm rolled in the late afternoon.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Superbowl Monday

Ever since my Junior year (high school) AP Chemistry teacher obstinately gave us a test the day after the Superbowl, I have strongly advocated Superbowl Monday becoming a national holiday. Considering about 1/3 of the entire country watch this game, I think it's only fitting to have a national day of rest following dedicated to the event. If you disagree with me, you're a terrorist.


Does this look like a productive worker to you? No. It's Superbowl Monday.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sundial

I just moved into an office after more than 3 years in a windowless cubicle. New office has a window and an angled view of the Capitol Building, which is pretty cool. What's especially neat is knowing the weather and time of day without using my computer. This south-facing office gets lots of light from the mysterious yellow ball in the sky throughout the day, so I decided to build a sundial one day. For some reason, I half-expected it not to work. It does. Minor triumphs like this make life worth living; well, that and buffalo wings.

This means it's almost 2:30, which it was. Rock.

Oh politics.

Ever since we started to think that there probably weren't any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (besides our army of course) I've skewed leftward and, um, upward (?), distancing from my Republican roots. It's not surprising I considered myself a Republican. Everyone where I grew up was a staunch Republican with varying degrees of conservative dogma.

For example, the other night I was around my parents' friends in Baltimore when one of them came up to me and said, "Hey! We have the same birthday! And we share it with Rush Limbaugh!" In Washington, outside of the Caucus Room or some other Republican haunt, this statement would have carried the implication that Limbaugh's a pompous demagogue. Forgetting my environment, my reflex was to say, "That's unfortunate." The woman promptly huffed off. Somehow I never bothered to think that someone could still seriously consider a man like Limbaugh to be a positive figure. Now that I have realized this I'm sort of depressed.

Similarly, I quit watching Fox News years ago because I realized it was essentially a flag-waving, jingoistic wad of propaganda. It made the invasion of Iraq look like a fucking videogame. I remember sitting at a bar watching the tanks triumphantly roll through the deserts and cheering them on while drinking my $1.00 beers (it was an AWESOME happy hour special). Over on CNN, they were a bit more skeptical of the war, so I didn't even bother to watch it. Why should I waste my time with those left-wing nay-sayers; they're just bitter they lost the election (even though they actually won it). "Just wait until they unearth the nuclear weapons," I thought. Say what you will about CNN--"Communist News Network" or twatever you want to call it--they were right to be skeptical. And I'll emphasize that they were only skeptical, because being adversarial to the Administration at that time was considered "un/anti-American" in those few years of McCarthyist patriotism. Sure, overall, CNN may have a leftward lean, but on the bidirectional seesaw of mass media political ideology, Fox News sends it careening into the stratosphere. Since I'm going to be taking a grain of salt anyway, I'd rather take my political and social commentary from conceited middle-left pundits than exuberant right-wing nationalists. At least I'm given the option to filter out the conceit.

Now, I still treat Fox News with scorn and contempt, but I've also realized that it's just as self-polarizing to blank out the praddle coming into my right ear as it was to do so for my left ear years ago. So, I'll watch a few minutes of Fox News now and then just to contemplate what they're going on about. For instance, John Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, was being interviewed by someone two days ago on FN. He said something like "the NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] report has been the most damaging thing to our country's foreign policy in a long time." I think I might have yelled at the TV then. If you don't know, the NIE report represents the collective wisdom of our entire country's intelligence resources and said what every right-wing asshole doesn't want to hear: Iran hasn't been working on a nuclear weapon since 2003. Whoops. But, rather than showing weakness and accepting the facts, our former UN Ambassador prefers to stammer in disbelief that this report had the nerve to even exist! What especially pissed me off was that the Fox News anchor agreed with him. If we just wanted to to hear what we wanted to hear all the time then I don't even know why we'd spend billions upon billions of dollars on intelligence programs. Unfortunately, I think this interview is quite representative of the Administration that I used to support. As infuriating as this is, it's useful to try and see where the Republican establishment is getting its information from.

A final fit of anger erupted from me during the State of the Union address, during which Bush contradicted his own record and wrongly chastised "Congress" for not fulfilling his wishes. The fact that he uttered ideas of fiscal restraint was beyond laughable. If you're looking for that extra trillion dollars or so to fix things in our own country that desperately need fixing (social security, health care, infrastructure, education, security, immigration, etc...), you might want to check that big hole in the ground in Iraq we've dug ourselves into. Fiscal restraint, fuck you Bush, seriously.

What should be particularly depressing for "true Republicans" is that this Administration isn't really Republican, or at least so they say. Being sponsored and supported by the Republican National Committee largely undermines that argument. And the fact that political camps evolve ideologically over time is another point against [e.g. the Democratic Party under Woodrow Wilson successfully resegregated the federal government so that whites and blacks couldn't work in the same offices]. Here are your Republicans.

This Administration has shown that it is indeed possible, in 6 years time, to take an overwhelming majority and turn it on its head through gross incompetence and a sense of righteous entitlement. What was hailed as the New Conservative Movement is now fractious, irreconcilable, and irreperable. I guess it should be somewhat comforting that this camp evolved itself out of power, but then again, we still have another goddamn year to go.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Did Hertz just threaten me?

Is this a promise or a threat...or both?



Thursday, January 17, 2008

a weekend in the city

I'm headed to New York tomorrow for the weekend. I haven't been up there since last February I think, and I remember it was utterly frigid. I always complain that it's always cold when I'm there, and judging by the snow squall outside, this time will be no different. Fortunately, my winter jacket is out for repairs, so all I have is my Fall/Spring jacket. Looks like it'll be a weekend of the collared-shirt-under-sweater nights for me, as if that'd be different anyway.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, meeting my friend's new kid, and going to my cousin's BBQ restaurant in Crooklyn (Fette Sau).

GRE

I'm taking the GRE in about an hour. I don't like standardized tests, but I've studied a lot for this one so hopefully it'll go better. 5 hours from now I'll be either really disappointed or really appointed. All I gotta do now is "rock it!".

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Here's the rub

BBQ master and attorney Kevin J. Flay, Esq. came over a few months ago to enjoy some Brice Lord-style ribs, which, probably to his surprise (and mine), he enjoyed thoroughly. I promised Mr. Kevin, Esq. the recipe for the rub I used, so here it is.

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
3 tbsp black pepper (coarse is better)
4 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 finely-grated dried chipotle pepper

Just put it all into a bowl and mix it real well with your fingers until it looks like something you would probably buy off the shelf. Rub it into whatever hunk of beast you want to cook an hour or more before you cook, if you have time, to give the oils in the seasonings some time to mingle with the meat. Or, just lick your forefinger and run it through the rub and eat it raw, as Mr. Kevin, Esq. did before getting yelled at. Disgusting.

This recipe was slightly modified from the one given in Steven Raichlen's "How To Grill" book, which is highly recommended by the staff here at End The Cola Wars!


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"Cyanide and Happiness"

I did a rare browse of College Humor today and came across this online cartoon strip series called "Cyanide and Happiness". The name was enough to get me to check it out. Some of it's pretty funny. This one made me laugh out loud.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Movies

I saw a bunch of movies while I was away on travel thanks to unusual access to Blowtime, Skinemax, and HBO (sorry, no clever pun), and the lack of internet at the hotel in which I stayed. I don't feel like giving lengthy descriptions of movies and why I did/didn't like them, so here's a quick summary.


Lord of War: Nicholas Cage as Nicholas Cage in every other movie, but playing a gun runner this time. Supposedly "events" in the movie were based on real events, I'm not sure which ones, though. A pretty good movie with a blatantly obvious political/social message; still worth a view.


Edmond: William H. Macy plays an unusually violent and sociopathic professional living in NYC. Some shit goes down, his psycho switch trips, and people end up dead. Similar office-dude-gone-batshit work was done in Falling Down, but it's still an interesting watch. His character's rambling speeches are meaningful and lucid only to himself, and the movie feeds the darker desires in watchers' id.


Saw II: I never saw any of these slasher/thriller movies because they looked too reliant upon gore and the short attention spans of today's youth (cue me waving a rolling pin over my head at some kids who just ran their BMX's over my lawn), but I'm glad I was more or less forced to watch this. It has some stupid super gorey/fucked-up scenes, but all in all it's a good thriller with a neat little twist whereby some fucked-up asshole named "Jigsaw" masterminded the kidnap and imprisonment of a bunch of teens in an equally fucked-up dungeon and forces them to try and get out by facing some pretty fucked-up situations. It's pretty fucked-up. Naturally, Jigsaw gets the last laugh since there's two other Saw movies following this one.


Survival Island: Some Hispanic guy, a bikini model, and Billy Zane get stranded on an island after a shipwreck. The title of the movie is about as deep as the movie goes. If you're on a business trip and nostalgic for USA's Up All Night, then you should take the opportunity to watch this.


Friday the 13th Part 2: I never really saw this when it came out 27 years ago, and I didn't really have any desire to see it this time either. I watched about a total of 15 minutes of this interrupted by switching to Survival Island for beach scenes, and it was more than enough. For 14 of the 15 minutes the filmography was too dark to tell what in the hell was going on in the scene, and for the other minute teenagers were screaming. Sweet. It certainly justified the 20 or so additional sequels.


I think I saw some other movies, but I don't remember them, so it's probably not worth my, nor your, time.

American Gladiators

During the run-up to last night's climax of the long-awaited return of American Gladiators---which, by the way, Took It To The Max---we were teased by limitless replays of the original series. The contestants always had a knack for being chodish and plum dumb (see Purple Roundy, whose name is pronounced exactly as you'd expect). So, I thought I'd share this quote from some contestant on the original series who, naturally, ended up losing.

"I'm gonna win this. I was inbred for competition."

Maybe that's why he lost.


Purple Roundy trying to see past his ridiculous mustache and back-length curly hair during The Assault. "Assault" turned out to be a bit of an overstatement in this particular case.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

RIGHTEOUS!


It is an excellent thing when your team has lost its last 4 bowl games (including 3 Rose Bowls) and then wins a big upset. It is an excellent thing when your retiring coach and exceptional senior class wins their last bowl game after an underwhelming season. It is an excellent thing to beat the Heisman winner at a venue that is essentially his home field and breaks everyone's preconceptions about your style of play. And it is always an excellent thing to beat the obnoxious Florida Gators, who before the game were jumping up and down on your team's logo in the endzone. Congrats to the team and coaches, it was an excellent game.

Story.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Dear DC cabbies...

One last word of thanks for ridiculously ripping me off the entire time I've lived here in DC. Tonight, I paid $13.50 to get from DC to Arlington but $19 to get from Arlington to DC. To my taxi driver this evening: you and your fake family can fucking go to hell, since I'm sure it's just an excuse to squeeze out those extra bones from my non-profit salary. Yes, I chose that job, but you also chose to be a greasy longhaired pennygrubbing-whore-asshole. It may surprise you, but this city was not intentionally built to only support taxi drivers. I really hope you and your family starve to death on the marginally-fair meter system imposed upon you later this year. You, and only you (my taxi driver tonight), I seriously hope you go to fucking hell. Fuck off and die. I would love to salt [sugar] your gas tank.