Friday, October 29, 2004

The Problem with Democracy

The problem with democracy is that there are just too many damn voters, which means long lines winding through sketchy parts of town in bad weather. Why not let the elite among us (i.e., me) vote on your behalf? Allow me to represent your will in electing your representatives. I know what's best for you. Really. My system: if you want me to vote Democrat, I'll vote Democrat; if you want me to vote Republican, I'll vote Republican. As more and more people allow me to vote on their behalf, I'll tally the vote for either political party. If Election Day comes and it's a tie, then I'll stay home: it'll be as if all those people voted but without all the wasted votes. I really don't mind voting for a political party I don't believe in: it's what I've done since I turned 18. Besides, I already live on the bad side of town. And I like the rain.

The Onion's feature article ("Republicans Urge Minorities to Get Out & Vote Nov. 3") was so brilliantly funny that I made overheads to show all three of my classes yesterday. In humanities, we were talking about the rise of satire during the Enlightenment, so it fit nicely with the topic of the day; of course, humor is always appropriate (i.e., necessary and/or required) in government courses, especially after three sessions on civil rights.

In old Celtic culture, satire was, for all practical purposes, the equivalent of a curse or the Evil Eye. Can you imagine! Things like, "You are so qualified to vote in a democracy," could mean serious trouble for those it was directed at.

The most irritating thing beside the Frost-Sessions battle for District 32 is getting conservative propaganda mailed to me at my business address. Just because I own a small business does not mean it's appropriate to send erratically offensive campaign material smearing such progressive (and historically American) mainstays as workers' rights. Isn't this a misuse of public records? As a radically libertarian socialist (yeah, it's an ideological position on the back side of the political spectrum; I think there's probably three of us in all of America), I'm amazed that there are people who claim to be conservatives but would rather see all workers die penniless and homeless than to concede that corporatism is not, has never been, nor ever will be capable of or interested in increasing social stability in this country. Family values simply do not equal corporate values. Irony of ironies is that conservatives are the ones using "family values" in their sound bites ad nauseam.

My final political rant for today: if President George W. Bush has done such a good job protecting America, then why did the attacks of September 11th take place on his watch? And why didn't any of his staff get the axe for failing to do their jobs? Take that into the voting booth with you.

Seriously, folks: don't vote yourselves out of liberty, or more importantly, a job. Either way, it doesn't really affect me: I have a passport and an empty credit card. Thank god for corporate America!

Friday, October 22, 2004

Grocery List

Leave it to Trey Parker & Matt Stone (in their new film Team America) to equate male-to-male oral sex with the ultimate expression of American patriotism. I think it's a lesson we all need to learn. Over and over again. "America--Fuck yeah!" said in my sexy, porn star voice.

Watched I Heart Huckabees Wednesday evening (btw, this is one of the most clever film sites I've seen): it's just as inspiring and life-changing as What the Bleep, but hilarious. Lily Tomlin is in perfect form, as evidenced by her adept darting around the lawn while the sprinklers are on. We'd all do much better with her as the existential detective on our case.

November is National Novel Writing Month. Anybody up for writing a novel? I think I'll take a rain check.

Yes, I admit: my blog is becoming less and less interesting. It's been reduced to a mere grocery list of movie titles and inconsequential errata. I insist that this is not due to the fact that I've recently stopped thinking deep thoughts. On the contrary, I'm probably thinking considerably deeper thoughts these days. But my work schedule is getting the best of me. And I've recently begun working on a new project which I'm hoping to finish by the end of the year--if I can maintain my workload as well as successfully complete what has turned out to be possibly the most mind-numbingly boring class of my entire graduate career. I'm only 6 weeks from the end of the term. Then I'll post all the deep thoughts you can handle!

Wanted to write something brilliant about Derrida's death and what he meant to me ("great Rosetta stone of my hieroglyphics"), but I'll have to take a rain check on that as well. In the meantime, I recommend Taylor's personal essay. (But wot! no Nietzsche?)

Monday, October 11, 2004

Recognizing Nonpatterns

Humans are ever so adept at recognizing patterns; they are not so adept at recognizing nonpatterns. Hence, the popularity of conspiracy theories. And dada (despite the fact that it is rarely recognized as dada).

A nonpattern I've recently recognized: the ubiquity of Homer Simpsonisms. Within the past few months, I've read quotes from America's favorite dad on everything from wedding announcements to funeral programs, expressing emotions ranging from "do'h!" to "woo-hoo!" I'm sure somewhere along the way, trademark infringement (if not downright violation) is at issue. But what to do when a nonliving entity takes on a life of its own? (Yes, I do expect answers to all rhetorical questions.)

Suffered through several hours of study and work over the weekend. On page 50 of the text for my Logic & Methodologies course, I learned that 1=1. Of course, I had learned that somewhere around first grade, but apparently I didn't learn it sufficiently (enough) before paying over a $1000 (including tuition, fees, and books) this fall. Does prior, free knowledge ever really count? On page 112 this morning, I stumbled across another jewel: "Tedium never advanced any science." I marked it with big, swirling lines running off the page. I would even be so bold as to expand that notion to, "Tedium never advanced any enterprise." Perhaps during my professor's three-hour monotonous monologue this afternoon, I'll raise my hand and ask her to confront that most obvious sentiment which she has robustly ignored since August. (And yes, I'm still waiting for an answer....)

My wish for this week: No (more) funerals. No (more) sadness. There is a sharp decline in productivity of the living when people die: the senselessness of it all envelopes the sadness and feelings of loss to where the most banal act (reading a textbook) takes on the most blasphemous connotations.

(Rest in peace, Theo. I hardly knew you, but I liked you a lot--which is saying a lot these days.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

The Weight of Sin

I just finished teaching that large altar piece at La Salle des Povres that was created during the early Renaissance. There are no demons in this depiction of the final judgment. Instead, the condemned fall into Hell by the sheer weight of sin on their conscience. Remove the concept of sin from the scenario, and it would be a good description of how I feel today. And the part that makes me feel worse is that I know so many others who feel even worse today because of weightier issues.

Sunday, October 3, 2004

Saints Be Praised

I’ve spent the majority of the past three days writing and studying for an exam in my political science course. My head is reeling, and my eyes are tired. Meanwhile, my friends are enjoying a day at the State Fair of Texas. I'm glad it's started to rain.

Can’t not mention Thursday’s presidential “debate.” I showed it to my second semester students during class, prefacing it with a mini lecture entitled “The Dirty Little History of Presidential Debates.” Remember when the League of Women Voters used to sponsor them and they weren’t so scripted? I admonished my kids to focus not on the mannerisms and facial expressions of the candidates—because the media would certainly do enough of that for them—but instead to think about the arguments and the words used. Finally, about thirty minutes into the spectacle, I could stop yelling at them for being such media whores and cutting up every time someone stuttered or pursed his lips. It was exciting that the media didn't play by the rules (regarding camera angles, etc.), and I was happy to see Friday that after a four-year hiatus, the media was once again checking facts (or just check out factcheck.org). Greenblatt wrote a beautiful op-ed ("Friends, Americans, Countrymen"), so I won’t pontificate further.

Speaking of pontification and beatification, perhaps one day in the sad and meager future President Bush will be canonized because of his great Christian faith. It’s happening to Austro-Hungarian Emperor Charles I. How much did that cost?!?!