Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gone so long

I think my schedule is finally getting to me. I've had so many things I wanted to do that I haven't had time for. I bought a new front door over a month ago which is still setting in my garage. I've had so much I wanted to write and never gotten on to do so. I think I'm through the worst of the semester now, and hope to tear into it. Here are some ideas I had which never really came to fruition. Maybe they will in the future.
  • One of my biggest strengths has always been my ability to write about fiction. I considered doing in-depth analysis of every episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I coudl apply this same concept to any number of other shows, too.
  • I read and commented on chunks of the New Testament for a class this summer. It got me thinking how little modern Christianity (of any stripe, really) resembles what is seen in the Bible. Maybe I should read the whole Bible and write a commentary.
  • On a more personal level, an in-depth look at how my political views have changed over my life.
There is one thing I want to write about now, though. I turn twenty-nine in less than two weeks. The older I get, the angrier I get. It's not because the world is going to hell or anything. I would argue that things are better now than they've been at any point in history. Gay marriage is legal in Iowa and unlikely to go anywhere. Being thought a racist is pretty much death for any career. Birth rates seem to be on their way to stabilizing. I think what's increasingly frustrated me is growing sense that the world isn't fixable. When I was younger, I was unhappy about the way the world was, but figured history was on my side and my way would win out eventually. Now, I keep seeing stuff like this.

First off, I should say the writer of that letter, Marshall Poe, is the director for the department of history at University of Iowa. I am an undergraduate history major and have never met him or heard of him. I'm a senior and still seem to understand very little about how the school works. I had a similar incident happen to me back in my first collegiate career in 2000. I lived in the dorms and had my door unlocked. My roommate was not home. I think he was off visiting his parents. About 2 am, my door opened. I figured it was my roommate, but then the guy attempted to climb into my bed. He mumbled something, then left. Dr. Poe thinks the University needs to crack down on student drinking. However, he doesn't seem up on University policy. They already have done most of what he suggested. A lot of what's left sounds problematic. Kicking people out of school for srinkign sounds draconian and against the basic principles of the University. Knowledge is a universal good, not a privilege we grant to those we deem worthy.

So far, U of I has extended its student conduct code off campus, the police have been put out in force downtown every night (leading to other parts of town being neglected and the Iowa City Council has put a freeze on new liquor licenses, yet the problem persists. At a celebration of Darwin's birthday last semester, a biology professor was telling me the main effect of a crackdown is to make more people drive drunk since drunk drivers are less conspicuous than drunks on foot, who tend to get cited for public intoxication. Meanwhile, a number of my friends have been victims of vandalism or worse from drunk college students and I've witnessed several people damn near drink themselves to death. Basically, there's a huge problem with alcoholism and alcohol-fueled hooliganism in Iowa City and crack-downs only make it worse. Personally, I would encourage dealing with it by legalizing pot. Potheads are less dangerous than drunks and with increased intoxicant competition, people may drink less. Good luck getting the federal government to cooperate, though.

I'm tired now, so I will sleep. I hope to get to related issues tomorrow.

Monday, June 22, 2009

On seeing people you know naked

I used to be a stripper of sorts and I know a good number of strippers. I've seen almost everyone I know naked or at least topless. However, I think I should still mention that my high school English teacher's daughter has a graphic sex scene in Stir of Echoes. I've never actually met her in real life, but it strikes me as a fun topic to bring up with her father (in an indirect way) at the class reunion.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fathers Day 2009

I ate at the Hy-Vee buffet, then kicked my family's ass at Apples to Apples and Buzzword. Highlights included me attempting to argue that glazed donuts are radically delicious and therefore a better fit for radical than Cuba and my dad deciding the far right was a better fit for intelligent than the metric system. To his credit, he did consider the metric system.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I've been meaning to get to this for a while now

You should all know by now that shit is going down in Iran. It looks like the government rigged the presidential election and didn't even bother making it convincing and a lot of people are having none of it. The police had shot a few dozen people and beaten lots more, but it's difficult to get a handle on what's going on because of a communications blackout. Here's the problem: Iran isn't some jerkwater. They can't keep the lid on things forever because the economy will collapse. It looks like the resistance is way past putting down. I think the government will have no choice but to give concessions, hopefully very soon before anybody else gets killed.

I just watched Short Circuit. When I was a wee lad, there were three movies I watched all the time until my mom got sick of them: Spaceballs, The Goonies and Short Circuit (Bill &Ted's Excellent Adventure might be in this category if my mom didn't like it almost as much as I do). It is every bit as good as I remembered. I like movies that pair up nerdy guys with attractive hippie women who like animals and dislike nuclear weapons. Since it was the 80s, there's a lot of sexual humor for a kid's movie and the villains and perfectly cardboard: a jerk ex-boyfriend who wants to kidnap pets and sell them for experimentation and military types who want to solve all problem by blowing shit up. The robotics effects hold up very well, as do most of the jokes. I even liked the vaguely racist parts. As with The Goonies, I loved nerdy Indian comic reliefs when I was a kid and still do now. They are way better than boring, straight-laced whiteys.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Juneteenth

I never quite finished my holidays project thanks to the blog ending. I think it's important to call attention to the anniversary of emancipation in the U.S. The Senate celebrated by officially apologizing for slavery. I suppose symbolic gestures do have value, but not much.

I've been having second thoughts about kicking Panda out. For one, I wouldn't have kicked Kitty out for drug use in my house and I've been questioning whether it's valid to treat him differently. Issues like drug addiction vs. drug dumbassery and whether it's valid to have different standards of behavior for friends then others are the main issues. Also, it would make it harder to collect on his debt to me. I was thinking I'd tell him to sign over both his cars that are in my yard to satisfy his debt. One is totaled. The other just needs a new muffler. The idea of housemates was that they would either offset my house payments with rent or offset their rent by doing work around the house. As it is, Panda cleaned the kitchen once and hasn't paid rent really ever and Fox is way behind, but sometimes pay and is occasionally helpful.

Rumor has it "Ally McBeal" is coming to DVD. As far as I'm concerned, it's about time. This is hardly an obscure show and TV on DVD has been common since around the time it was on the air. There was one release with six episodes that came out nine years ago, and nada since. This is important because I credit this show, along with "Xena: Warrior Princess," which finished its DVD release four years ago, despite being a far lower rated show of the same vintage, with turning me from a religious conservative who wanted to keep women in the kitchen into a liberal feminist who hangs out with gay people. This may surprise some feminists, many of whom saw the show as sexist, but I think it's a topic that I should address in depth once I buy the show, which won't necessarily be right away when it comes out.

Imagine this: In it's sixth season, a popular teen sci-fi/fantasy genre show has an episode where the lead is attacked by a mysterious creature, then wakes up in a mental institution where they are told all the events that happened since roughly the beginning of the show were a fantasy created because they couldn't deal with the stresses of ordinary life. The mental institution offers a promise of getting out and a better life than they've known in the show, regaining relationships they'd lost and such, but this requires them to do something questionable. What am I talking about? If you said "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episode 6.17, Normal Again or "Smallville" episode 6.10, Labyrinth, you are correct. I realize there are only so many plots, there were many points of difference and "Smallville" still did it a lot better than "Charmed" would have etc, but the truth it worked much better on Buffy, because Buffy was someone who always seemed on the verge of breakdown anyway (and was prone to impulsive and violent behavior). An earlier episode of Smallville with a similar premise about Chloe worked for the same reason. Clark is whiny and self-centered, but not really unstable. Basically, he doesn't seem like the type to be delusional and they didn't really sell that very well, and having some plausibility for the alternate world is necessary to make the story work.

When I woke up today, I had No feeling in my left arm. I grabbed my left wrist in my right hand. I could tell it was warm, but it was like grabbing someone else's arm. I couldn't feel a thing. This happens sometimes, so in itself wasn't cause for concern, but I attempted to raise my left arm and found I had no control over it. It just hung there. This passed after a few minutes, but now my shoulder aches a bit and the arm is shaking. This could be related to hauling heavy groceries. It seemed okay most of the day, but I am concerned. A little experimentation pressing on my shoulder seems to show I have a major nerve going over the top of my collar bone, which I don't think is the right place. My right arm doesn't have this problem. I've lived for years losing sensation in my arm whenever I carry a backpack or laugh and I am now told this isn't normal at all.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More on last night and Xanga vs Blogspot

It seems that Panda and his girlfriend read entirely too much into the fact that I am a fan of the show "Weeds" (largely because it is so reasonably priced on Blu-ray) and the Harold & Kumar movies & figured I seemed like a guy who be cool with them smoking pot in my house. Just in case I wasn't cool though, they've better try to do it covertly. After leaving his room, they went downstairs, ate a frozen pizza and some nachos and watched Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical (which I watched today. It's quite good.) and Puff, Puff, Pass. A little consulting with my friends says it is not unreasonable to throw his ass out. It doesn't help his girlfriend has been increasingly bitchy. Today, she went on a rant about how my house has boxes everywhere. She's correct, but this is largely because my parlor is full of Panda's stuff, leaving me little place to put anything.

I've been reading my book on Alexander, which finally arrived, and find myself frustrated keeping the characters straight. (Note: Since this is Greece, you can't keep them all that straight.) So far, there are two Alexanders, two Philips, two Cleopatras (neither of whom is the famous one), two Bagoases (Bagoi?) and two Pausaniases (Pausani?). The cultures of the time apparently had only a handful of names available. To his credit, the editor is explaining this well in his footnotes.

I've been missing many of Xanga's features lately. While Blogspot has a better spell-check and doesn't lose posts, it still doesn't have track-back, which doesn't seem available free in general and, more upsettingly, lacks Xanga's footprints feature that told me who had visited. I have no idea if anyone has read even a single post here. I'd like a stable home, but must determine where.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A different topic for today

I was going to write about Alexander today, but a different topic has caught my attention. I smelled something odd in my hallway. It seemed to be coming from my brother Panda's room. His girlfriend saw me sniffing the air and immediately said someone must have turned on the oven. I know what an oven smells like and I know what a defensive reaction looks like. I verified this with my roommate, Fox. He confirmed I was indeed smelling weed. I am not opposed to marijuana use in general and support its legalization, but I certainly don't support using it on others' property without their consent, especially when I'm reading horror stories every day about people having their houses and such seized by the government as evidence every few days. The question is what to do? He hasn't been paying rent, and it was bad enough supporting his electricity-drinking, space taking ass. I'm certainly not going to cover for him as well. The question is what to do. I could take his room apart looking for his stash tomorrow while he's at work and possibly fidn naked pictures of his girlfriend in the deal, but I suspect she actually keeps the stach (and naked pictures) at her place. I think I shall have to drop hints.