Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Alex has begun blogging and I'm awfully thankful.

In his 2nd post he points out that it takes some work to find out who the candidates/parties are and what they stand for.

I think to myself that I'm interested in politics but actually what I'm interested in is more like vulgar name calling. Democracy, in and of itself, isn't that exciting to me. Finger pointing, catchy slogans, stuff like that-that's what I enjoy. I don't care about baseball but Chicago's subway series is going on right now with the White Sox playing the loathed Cubs...I know all the reasons for liking/hating both teams even though I couldn't possibly care less about actually attending a game.

Canada has more than just two parties which sounds like nirvana to lots of U.S. voters. It might make for a better government (Canada seems to be more on the ball than the U.S. in so many ways...a government that serves the people, for instance) but it makes it harder to cast the parties as heroes and villians, the part that I like.

I was supposed to see Prince last night but the Purple Pain is feigning illness and the show has been re-scheduled. Re-scheduled to Thursday, July 22nd and I thought to myself "uh oh...isn't that the last evening of the Democratic Convention???" Yes, I actually gave some considerable thought to whether or not I should stay home and watch hours of television which would contain not one single surprise vs. going to see Prince.

I'm going to see Prince. Although I may have to get Tivo before then...

Friday, June 25, 2004

Apparently Dick Cheney got into an argument on Tuesday with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee (I'm reading this in the Washington Post today)

Per. the WaPo, Leahy brought up the subject of Haliburton. Here's how the paper describes the event:

The exchange ended when Cheney offered some crass advice.

"Fuck yourself," said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency.

I'm intrigued that Cheney did that...after all being a politician seems to be all about smiling in public when your opponents bait you. But I'm more intrigued that the Washington Post just printed "fuck", even in the context of a quote. No asterisks, no "(expletive)", no nothing.

As the article goes on to explain, the exchange took place on the same day the Senate passed legislation described as the "Defense of Decency Act" by 99 to 1.

To my complete surprise, I am actually excited about seeing a Michael Moore movie. David Edelstein, writing in Slate, sums it up perfectly:

Along with many other polite liberals, I cringed last year when Moore launched into his charmless, pugilistic acceptance speech at the Academy Awards. Oh, how vulgar, I thought—couldn't he at least have been funny? A year later, I think I might have been too hard on the fat prick. Six months before her death in 1965, the great novelist Dawn Powell wrestled in her diary with the unseemliness of political speech during an "artistic" event: "Lewis Mumford gave jolt to the occasion and I realized I had gotten as chicken as the rest of America because what he said—we had no more right in Vietnam than Russia had in Cuba—was true but I did not think he should use his position to declaim this. Later I saw the only way to accomplish anything is by 'abusing' your power." Exactly.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

So how has Kerry fared this week when the news was all Reagan all the time...the pundits have wondered whether or not all the pro-Reagan hoo-ha would favor Bush ("see how like Reagan he is?") or go against him ("I knew President Reagan and you are no Reagan").

Naturally, nobody is going to compare Kerry to Reagan. So what are they going to use for a basis of comparison? Here's the NYT:

Like a caged hamster, Senator Kerry is restless on the road.

Uh oh.

And from elsewhere in the article:

(he)starts his speeches with throat-clearing thank-you's that last 5, 8, even 10 or 12 minutes, and he often runs on for several paragraphs or pages after summing up with a promised, "finally."

You mean the LOW END of that is five minutes? Turn on the radio, listen to your average pop song. Okay, pretend that instead of, say, Ludacris talking about something fun or interesting, you have John Kerry recognizing the achievements of a local congressman. A song is what, 3 and 1/2 minutes? Four? And Kerry goes five? When he's keeping it short?

I remember watching candidate Bob Dole in '96 on CSPAN. He was at a state fair somewhere in the midwest, I can't remember which state exactly but my point is that if a midwestern state fair isn't Dole Country, no place is. And there was a cluster of older men, standing in a small cluster near where Dole was giving his stump speech. And the men were just chatting with one another, about their crops and stuff. Literally ALL they would have had to do was pivot slightly and stop talking and they could have taken in Dole's whole speech. But it didn't seem worth the hassle to them.

Bush's approval numbers are down, of course, but Kerry's aren't rising. The people who like Bush really, really like him. And the people who like Kerry...really hate Bush.

The anti-Clinton people assumed it was self-evident why Clinton shouldn't be re-elected. Hell during the Democratic convention, a high-level Clinton strategist was found to be telling all to a high-end D.C. prostitute. And while plenty of people disliked Clinton, not enough liked Dole.

And can I just say that I am beyond freaked out about the labor situation in Boston for the upcoming convention?

Let me explain.

Boston is in dispute with police over overtime rules and they are picketing the convention center where the convention is going to be held. The Democrats are, of course, the party of unions. So it is totally not okay to have union members of ANY sort (much less unionized cops) protesting your pep rally. Because there are going to be a bazillion journalists there, bored and looking for stories and a bunch of protesters with grievances is a story.

It gets worse, of course. Kerry is from Mass, Boston is in Mass, how difficult a concept is it to say "He can't manage a convention in his hometown; how can you argue that he should be running the country? How can you argue that Iraq would go more smoothly?"

Come on Boston! Get it together!
From Today's LA TIMES

Teenage Saudi boys are so hungry for contact with girls that they are engaging in an unusual mating ritual: They scrawl their names and telephone numbers on slips of paper, crumple them into balls and hurl them at passing girls in shopping centers when the religious police aren't looking.

Bless their hearts!

Monday, June 07, 2004

The trains in Chicago have been carrying this advertisement:

We can train you to run a marathon!

I mostly ignore the ads on the trains but for some reason this one was really attracting my attention. Then I had a phone catch-up with my friend Lillian and she mentioned that she thought she might train for a marathon.

so the whole thing had a sort of "The hand of God" vibe

Anyway I mentioned this casually to a few people, often while smoking cigarettes, who agreed that it sounded like a fine idea.

While perusing Lillian's blog I realized that she had actually gone and started the damn training (and therefore was unlikely to be interested in comparing Can't Get Started notes over a Camel Light) and she had links to her training regimen which she found online.

I went to that site and found not only a marathon training regimen but also a beginning runner's training regimen.

There is a part of me, a fairly vocal part of me, actually, that feels adamantly that I am NOT a beginner! Think of all that running I did when I lived in Georgia!!!

I moved away from Georgia, however, in 1989 and while no stranger to activity in general, running? It's been a loooooong ass time.

I should point out that I started riding my bike to work a few days/week in May while the weather was still iffy and now that the weather has moved from iffy to downright hot and humid, I hope to keep that at 5 days/week. I did this in 99 and it was great but then, of course, summer ended, so did the bike riding and I gained a lot of weight. So the theory here is that I begin running now, by the time October rolls around I'm in a running frame of mind and I can continue that even in the ice/snow/whatever.

Let me tell you, running in some ice/snow/whatever sounds pretty good right now.

The way I'm interpreting the 30 day beginner plan (notice that I don't link to it because I don't care to be contradicted on this) is that you run 30 minutes/day for 30 days and really the point is to just get out there and move for 30 minutes. If you walk 28 minutes and run two of them, well so be it, you have 30 days to build up your stamina.

Did I mention that I rode my bike to work today (18 miles round trip!)?

I've decided, here on day 2 of this endeavor, that I might as well go as soon as I get home since I'm already sweaty and gross and it isn't as though I will become more inclined to go for a jog after I'm showered and fed.

Timberlands OFF adidas ON out the door.

I didn't actually track how much of the time was spent jogging, how much walking. I'd be happy if it was half and half. But I have 30 days. Here's two observations from my 30 minutes in my 'hood.

1)If you are a woman, standing at a bus stop with a man, repeatedly shrieking "These are my glasses!" does not seem to be an argument-winner.
2)If you are a student at the Yeshiva you can play basketball in the hot, evening sun but you still have to wear a white shirt, black trousers, and a velvet yarmulke so really there are, in fact, worse ways of exercising than the one I was engaged in.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

The Associated Press about Reagan:

...(is survived by his)wife, Nancy, whom he called Mommy


I'm sure I'll have more to say about Reagan but right now I want to write down a conversation I had yesterday with my dance teacher. She told me about a boyfriend of hers who had bad grooming. "Drew, you wanna know how bad he was? He would trim his toenails by kicking a doorframe and breaking them off, that's how bad he was."

eww as well

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

one thing that I know is that journalists need a "beat". You write about education or the courts or religion or whatever. I'm all into Benoit Denizet-Lewis from the NYTimes...he has the Sex Beat.

I first read him last year when he talked about the DL (Down Low) culture of black men who have sex with other men but do not consider themselves gay. Now he is writing about teenagers and the culture of hookups and friends with benefits.

it's a great article (you can read it here if you're registered with the NYTimes, and hey, you should be) and what interests me is the idea of a Market Economy at work in the realm of sex.

Conventional wisdom holds that since male-to-male sex involves two individuals who are socialized to say "yes" then you get elements like bathhouses, backrooms, etc. Because there is an advantage to providing a place where men can dispense with formalities (like, you know, finding out the other person's name) and getting down to business.

One argument that is commonly made on behalf of this behavior is that this is not gay male culture, this is simply MALE culture and that if straight men could make a similar arrangement, they would.

What this Denizet-Lewis article suggests is that just such a heterosexual experiment is underway, right now, facilitated by cell phones and the internet. Dating and relationships are messy, difficult, frustrating, unnecessary. Hookups are better, "friends with benefits" is better. In other words, contemporary teenagers are acting like gay men. Interestingly the hot issue with gay men these days is not the right to sleep with whomever they please, without the burdens of social conventions, but rather the right to marry (which follows hot on the heels of the right for gays to engage in parenting) and, as the article points out, gay teens who go online are quick to point out that they are NOT interested in hookups but only in relationships.

The information about hooking up is about what you might expect (the boys mostly dig it, the girls mostly feel a little used, everyone is quick to claim that they have no emotional feelings about it at all) but Denizet-Lewis does a nice historical survey of dating mores.

In the 1930's, teenagers were supposed to be (socially) promiscuous meaning that they did NOT go steady with one another and that a loser was a girl at a dance who danced with the same boy all night. You were supposed to get around, have a broad spectrum. Then all of the sudden it's WWII and they start scaring girls, telling them, essentially, "look to your left, look to your right ONE OF YOU WILL NEVER BE MARRIED" and the pendulum swung THAT way.

The difference, of course, is that in the 1930's mixed-gender groups could hang out but if one lad wanted to get a blow job from one of the girls, well, first of all he might have to give a tutorial on the topic but secondly he didn't have this entire back channel of communications to facilitate the endeavor. A 1930's teen did not post pics of himself to solicit feedback on whether or not he was hot or not.

I can't imagine how much worse my teenage years would have been if, on top of everything else, I felt a pressure to post pics of myself online and allow complete strangers to assess my naked torso. Ugh.