Saturday, December 25, 2004
From the 13 Nov issue, re: the Washington State gubernatorial election:
"Mr Rossi was the most electable Republican would-be governor in 20 years, because the party's right wing has previously pushed forward nutty candidates doomed to get clobbered on election day. The moderate Mr Rossi uttered hardly a peep on social issues, and was rosily simple about economic matters. Ms Gregoire, on the other hand, bent to the left to win her party's nomination. Since the outgoing Democratic governor, Gary Locke, was less than universally loved, she also tried to offer both continuity and a fresh face. No easy task."
How hilariously snide!
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Overall, I liked the film. It had the typical "love thy brother at Christmas" message, complete with precocious children in a cynical society. And of course, the film added characters for multicultural and socioeconomic diversity. It was also a little obvious that half the adults were the voice of Tom Hanks (some even resembled him). There's something to be said about pure silence -- certain scenes in the film, particularly involving snowfall, capture that silence eloquently and accurately. Too bad members of the audience had to chomp on popcorn and ruin that magic of Quiet.
We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of "The Sun":
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says "If you see it in "The Sun" it's so."
Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
115 West 95th Street
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
New York Sun, September 21, 1897
Friday, December 10, 2004
Went specifically to see Keane (making it twice in three months!). Was pleasantly surprised by Snow Patrol and The Killers. Not wowed by Franz Ferdinand at all. And as a proud Northwesterner, I'm almost embarrassed to admit I was completely UNIMPRESSED with The Shins and Modest Mouse. They were completely unintelligible and inarticulate onstage.
Luckily, no band played holiday songs.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Saw the new Bridget Jones movie. Hilarious!
I disagree with several friends' assertions that the BJ books and movies are sexist. Quite the contrary, I think BJ is the 21st century Anne of Green Gables: always getting in to scrapes, never "perfect" by the beauty standards of the day, always straightforward. Sometimes out of her element, but always able to come through with dignity.
The one issue I had with the story was the whole Thai prison sequence. Somehow, I don't think a Thai women's prison would be so amicable a place that a wronged British woman could have all the inmates singing Madonna's "Like a Virgin". I agree with the Weekly's review -- it makes too much light of the Thai sex trade and prison conditions. Ironically, the Colin Firth character is a human rights lawyer. Plus, Bridget would've lost a hell of a lot of weight in that prison!
Of course, I did have ulterior motives for going to see the film!
Must read the book sometime soon.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Still not reading the newspapers, although I am scanning the headlines.
Instead, I'm reading the horoscopes, the comics, and fashion magazines. Uranus is in opposition to Saturn, so hidden tensions in my world are being released from now until mid-June. Garfield still loves lasagna. Winter coats should either be waist-length or cover the entire length of your skirt, but never fall mid-dress. There are people under 40 who will bid $800 at a fundraiser for lunch with the Mayor, and $500 for a flan at a gala/auction.
Who knew any of these things??????? This is the world I've been immersing myself in since November 3, having remained heretofore blissfully ignorant of its existence. ("There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy . . .")
Bought Franco Sarto shoes, then returned them. Threw a fun spa party. Attended three fundraisers, a discussion group, and a housewarming party, and have come to the conclusion that every intelligent, fun-loving, and politically-aware straight guy in Seattle is married, engaged, or otherwise unavailable. (As I have discovered in the past 8 months, the same is refreshingly not true for London, San Francisco, or DC. Perhaps I should take a cue from Hamlet. The nunnery, or Toys in Babeland? In the end it's the same, really. Still a lonely night.)
The third anniversary of the day Dad died is this Thanksgiving. Grandpa is in the hospital after falling down the basement stairs. It's the first Thanksgiving without Grandma. Lovely. It's no wonder I'm reading only the headlines.
Outrageous fortune, indeed.
Looking forward to the weekend in Portland for the official start of the commercial holiday season. Here's a fabulous quote from one of those forwards a friend sent:
totally worn out and screaming
Monday, November 08, 2004
"In the streets and in society
I am almost invariablycheap and dissipated, my life is unspeakably mean.
No amount of gold or respectability would in the least redeem it
-- dining with the Governor or a member of Congress!!
But alone in the distant woods or fields,
in unpretending sprout-lands or pastures tracked by rabbits,
even in a bleak and, to most, cheerless day, like this, when a villager would be thinking of his inn, I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related,
and that cold and solitude are friends of mine.
I suppose that this value, in my case, is equivalent to what others get
by churchgoing and prayer.
I come home to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home.
I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful.
I have told many that I walk every day about half the daylight,
but I think they do not believe it.
I wish to get the Concord, the Massachusetts, the America,
out of my head and be sane a part of every day."
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Actually, what I did instead was go shopping. Coincidentally, Nordstrom's Half-Yearly Sale for Women and Children started on 3 Nov 2004.
Because on top of the election results, yesterday I also got a text message that a certain someone is getting married and then shipped out, making him the fourth guy I know in Iraq.
For the first time in my life, I didn't watch the news or read a newspaper or magazine. I bought PJs for the long 4-year hibernation, had a fabulous pomegranate margarita after being approved for a Nordstrom card (which I've avoided for several years), and almost purchased every possible brainless fashion mag at Barnes & Noble.
Anything to stay numb. Anything to not think.
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
Give me one week to completely sell out and be in denial, and then I'll get back down to business.
It started four years ago, driving down to DC for a massive Inauguration Day protest, and it hasn't ended.
It also means I won't have a life for the next four years. . . .
Friday, October 22, 2004
Fabulous film on navigating the meaning of life in a postmodern, poststructuralist society!
*** BRILLIANT MOVIE ***
This now beats Garden State as the latest worthwhile and very relevant film. The central premise is an examination of the age-old debate: is everything in life meaningless, or is it all part of some cosmic connection?
For one, the characters were hilarious. The enviro organizers and the anti-petroleum, anti-corporate crusader (my life, anyone?) The scene at the family dinner summed it up nicely, especially since the family is religious. The suburban, sprawling existence creates the need for saving nature's open spaces --unfortunately also perpetuating a car-centric infrastructure that necessitates detrimental foreign policies in oil-laden countries, creating regional strife and, in the movie's case, refugees for random (or meaningful) coincidences.
(And just what does happen in a meadow at sunset -- everything or nothing?)
The ending question, "How am I not myself?" -- love the double meaning! (What masks do we don to define ourselves for social purposes? Or do even the masks we don define us and become part of our identity?)
The resolution, of course, was in the same vein as Forrest's feather. ("I don’t know if we each have a destiny or if we’re all floating about accidental like on a breeze. But I think, maybe it’s both. Both happening at the same time.")
One thing "Huckabees" didn't do, though, was address the differences between micro and macro interaction -- the film just treated all events equally, as if international policy and environmental standards are on a par with smaller market-driven consumer options. Somehow, I think refugees fleeing the janjaweed carry a different burden than the one I had when buying birthday cards at Hallmark. But still, it's a great thought-provoking movie.
On a tangent (or not, depending on your philosophy!) today's UNA luncheon, I was a little taken aback by the well-dressed protestors handing out leaflets. Yeah, let's just all retreat into isolationism when it comes to diplomacy and cooperation in solving world issues, but maintain a freakin' cowboy manifest-destiny attitude when it comes to creating those world problems.
Think I might go see "Huckabees" again, if and when I get some free time after the election. There's so much to mine...
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
I might disagree with a few of their assessments of American domestic policy and international development, but where else can you get in-depth news from around the world?
Saturday, October 16, 2004
Great parody of contemporary Christian culture! Also does a good job of emphasizing that Christians don't have to be that way (at the end of the film, nobody's become an atheist, they've just re-examined the way they practice their faith).
A little odd, watching it with a good friend from Africa who has a completely different experience of Christianity --certainly not the American, consumerized Christianity of rock concerts and teeny bop magazines and special jewelry. I swear I was laughing nonstop during the film because I know people like the characters in this film, and to some degree was like them when I was in high school! (The Newsboys used to be my favorite band...)
At any rate, great comedy with a great message. My sister, who should see it, never will, but nonetheless, it was a great way to pass a Sunday night while sick and sniffling on vacation in Virginia!
Sunday, October 03, 2004
The documentary on Mrs. Marcos was really well put-together! Basically, she's crazy and is in denial that she and her husband embezzled millions from a third world country and foreign investors, and had tens of thousands of political prisoners locked up. She's so out of touch with reality that her mantra of "beauty, truth, and God" illustrates how detached she is from the economic situations of the people that both love and hate her. And though the filmmaker interviewed family members, former colleagues, diplomats, political prisoners, etc., there was really no need -- Imelda clearly shone thought in her own words as loo-HOO-ny!
There were naturally the personal connections. Grandma left the Philippines the year before Marcos declared martial law, and Mom left the year after. We didn't visit until the year the dictatorship ended and Corrie Aquino was officially recognized as president. I remember visiting Quezon City as a little 7-year-old, knowing that she was president but not knowing all the previous history, just that Marcos wasn't the greatest political leader. And knowing we weren't travelling too far south because there were guerillas (that was my first introduction to homonyms -- I thought Dad meant gorillas, and pictured them lurking in the jungles). I remember Clark AFB -- and 15 years later, even wrote a paper on the US policy of containment that created the "need" for an American presence that blindly excused all the Marcos human rights abuses because at least he wasn't communist ...
It's a little tragic how the second generation knows so little because the first generation is so reluctant to talk about anything! And tragic too that the second generation sometimes doesn't care until it's too late to get most of the oral histories.
And of course, the shoes. 3000, was it? There's an interview with one of Imelda's nieces, saying "You have to understand Filipinas!" LOL -- I know I have a ton of shoes, so does Mom, so did Grandma. ;-) Maybe there's a little bit of learned culture there ... Anyhoo, since the shoes are the only thing people know about Imelda, the fabulous voice-over in the beginning is Imelda's son saying "Forget about the shoes, get beyond the shoes." Good advice.
Ah, and Garden State. It's not on my Top Ten List or anything, but I liked this movie for the simple reason that it's my life! The sudden parental death; the hometown friends who live in such a vastly different world and haven't moved; the childhoods so crazy that strangers don't believe true stories because the lies are more comforting ... There were some awkward moments where the comedy was tragic and I couldn't laugh, and moments where the tragedy was almost hilarious. Some scenes are really disturbing, some are simply wacky, some awkward, some sad, some funny, some weird. Mais c'est la vie, n'est-ce pas?
Saturday, September 25, 2004
At any rate, my schedule is way too packed doing civic, selfless, organizing, social justice, and/or political tasks. I love my job, but for once I'd like to be in a social situation where I didn't have to answer questions about organizational positions. I love planning commission work, but I'd really like to know what it's like to walk downtown for no particular reason at all! I don't need to save the world all on my own, but for some reason I feel and act as though I do.
The mountains on the drive to Yakima were magnificent. The stars on the drive back were so pretty. The silence on Whidbey was so goddamn peaceful. . . .
Counting down the days till I'm wandering around the Chesapeake and hiking in the Blue Ridge.
It's funny, I'll be able to relax more among the Virginia conservatives than the Seattle liberals!
Looking forward to the foliage!
Sunday, September 19, 2004
And then the sick and twisted subplot emerged in the last fifteen minutes or so. So disturbing that I had to take a half-hour walk afterwards. It was kind of the same feeling I got after watching Better Luck Tomorrow -- except that the awful, disturbing, unsettling ending in BLT symbolically eradicated belief in bootstrap ideology, and challenged the viewer to trust in an uncertain "tomorrow" with a new and undefined American Dream.
I understand that one of the themes of ESIF is that life can be bittersweet, it has its highs/lows and ups/downs to deal with both personally and with/for the people one encounters, but jeez! Why this particular disturbing subplot???
I love maps. Any kind of map! I love studying them, I loved drawing them for school projects. Despite my love of maps, I found this book, about the history of the world's first geological map, incredibly boring. Having read Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman two years ago , I thought his latest, The Map That Changed the World: Williams Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology, might somehow also capture my attention. Sadly, it did not ...
Maybe the subject matter just didn't appeal to me. The making of the OED fascinated me; the making of a geological map did not. Maybe the historical era just wasn't my favorite. The OED was late-nineteenth century; William Smith was late-eighteenth. Either way, whereas I couldn't put Professor down, I had to force myself to finish Map!
Winchester is no historian -- though he obviously did all the source research. The few times he does actually quote primary texts, it's fascinating! He should've stuck with that format, rather than trying to make a Hollywood story out of a two-decade academic endeavor.
In the back of my mind the entire book, I kept remembering the National Museum in Wales -- how it was almost entirely devoted to generic prehistory and the slow, sloooooow formation of coal. (And how it didn't dawn on me until I was three-fourths of the way through the museum why that was important to Welsh national identity...)
Map's most fascinating snippet, though, had nothing to do with William Smith. It was more Winchester's description of the mediaeval mindset of creationism that existed even during the Age of Enlightenment. In a footnote, Winchester acknowledges that it still exists today (the Scopes Trial didn't end that backward thinking!).
Which, tangentially of course, brings to mind the numerous debates I have had with unpleasant people about mediaeval-vs-modern mindsets, and what exactly defines the early modern period -- the beginnings of colonialism, global interaction and the rise of nations, or the (related) decline of European religiosity.
At any rate, I found the description of a lingering medieaval thought the most compelling, perhaps because it has such a direct correlation to the state of American society and politics today. (Why encourage independent thought and/or intellectual inquiry, if the answer will only ever be that God created everything for some always-elusive reason?)
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
One of the main objections was voters voting for an awful candidate in another party simply to sway the race in their candidate's favor. Hadn't actually heard of anyone really doing that until last week, when I talked to someone whose parents voted for Ellen Craswell (who wrote this piece!) in the '96 primary in order to give Gary Locke an edge. I'd never vote for a candidate I didn't like, but I have to admit, that's pretty brilliant strategy!!!
Which also brings up the issue of electronic voting. Personally, if we have the technology to have computerized voting, I think that's great. Of course there should be a paper trail that both keeps an accurate record of voting tabulations but doesn't infringe on anyone's privacy rights.
But I'm decidedly not a neo-Luddite, and for the most part, folks I've encountered who are rabidly anti-electronic voting are, at their core, afraid of change.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Things I miss, living in the yuppie, uber-urban area that I do:
* The smell of grass being cut, and the slow hum of the lawnmowers
* Saying hi to neighbors
* View of the Olympics
* Smell of sea air
* A real park
Things I don't miss, not living on the Westside:
* The barrio boys following in their cars, honking and whistling for blocks
* Not having a cityscape view
* Longer trips (ie, unwalkable) to the grocery, library, and stores
Friday, September 10, 2004
Last month's Atlantic Monthly had good articles on liberal Southern female politicians, Barack Obama, and Republicans for Nader. (The so-called "Steel Magnolias" have to play political hardball but deliberately play on traditional "soft" gender roles to convince Dixieland voters they're not Hillary Clinton; Obama is brilliant, appeals across all demographics, and epitomizes the (myth of the!) American Dream, but the problem is he knows it; and Republicans who've maxed out on contributions to Bush are contributing to Nader's campaign to cut Kerry's percentage points a bit more. . . .)
On AlterNet, "Vietnam is a country, not a war" is really about Iraq (the author touches briefly on on good points about U.S.-Asia relations and about Vietnamese Americans, but come on, the same sentiments have been expressed for years with no attention, and now we're in another quagmire in a developing country...). "The South Will Rise Again" because Strom Thurmond and his ilk are dying off (plus, blacks are migrating back to the South, a statistical trend for decades now). And Sean Gonsalves is brilliant as usual. (I remember first reading one of his articles years ago -- it was the first critique of "bootstrap ideology" I'd heard outside of academia, and I got really excited about consciousness-raising in the "real world" with real, intelligent people. OOPS there... )
Reread the text of Malcolm X's "Ballot or Bullet" speech the other day. Still interesting to juxtapose with King's Letter, and compare/contrast urban/rural economic issues, the roles of religion in social/political movements. Different audiences, different regions, different goals (integration vs autonomy), but same underlying idea of justice. (Why I did I not take that junior seminar on The 1960s???)
On another note, I "borrowed" Unconstitutional from our Communications Dept. (Can't make the official community screening on the 22nd --will be pursuing a free food opportunity with CBB grads.) Anyway, the film is a good introdution to post-9/11 infringements on civil liberties -- it explains (chronologically, too!) the PATRIOT Act, post-9/11 detentions, and Homeland Security. It's only about an hour, too. Actually, I'm glad I'm not going to the community event -- the "discussion" afterwards will most likely be the typical Seattle rantfest with middle-aged ex-hippies. I'll take young fakey prepsters any day --they at least fuel my motivation to save the world from becoming an A&F ad.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
It's good to know I can still laugh at non-political jokes! Personally, in addition to Minesweeper, I would have been horrified if my high scores on Snood and Hearts had been erased!
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
The Next Deal: the Future of Public Life in the Information Age, by Andrei Cherny, is alternately inspiring and boring! On the one hand, it's written by a guy who was Al Gore's senior speechwriter at the age of 21. He understands the cultural psyche of what he calls the "Choice Generation", a demographic raised taking technological innovations for granted. On the other hand, he wastes too many pages detailing the differences in Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian approaches to government. The additional (and extensive) background on Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson is fascinating, but could have been discussed more summarily.
Cherny describes how American government and public policies adapted from an agrarian era to the Industrial Age, and how they now need to shift to reflect the society of the Information Age. The American public increasingly has more consumer choices (hence the "Choice Generation"); however, government still maintains an outdated, bureaucratic, one-size-must-fit-all approach to programs. One of Cherny's main points is that the Information Age is redefining the individual in a way that the Industrial Age could not, and that America is at a time in its economic history where political structures need to change to reflect the "Next Deal" in American public life.
From a cultural historian's perspective, the paradigm shift Cherny describes is fascinating; from a social organizer's, it's exciting! In another hundred and fifty years, what will be the next wave of political change? What policies can we implement now to make government more and truly accessble to people?
It's when he outlines specific policies that he's most riveting. He supports charter schools, mandatory community service for young people, stock market investment of Social Security funds, and nationwide ballot initiatives, among other issues. Half the time, I found myself nodding a silent "Right on!" to some insights. Other times, I questioned whether Cherny is really a Democrat!!!
I do have a few problems with Cherny's overall survey of American history in the late-nineteenth century. He omitted much of the urban Progressive agendas in his zeal to describe the nostalgia-based populism of the rural Midwest. It's a little ironic not to examine urban working conditions in a discussion of the Industrial Age!
Ironically, I'm writing this as I just returned from a state Dem party fundraiser. As someone recruited by an old family friend to be on the advisory council against an anti-tax initiative. As a volunteer for one of the Dem gubernatorial candidates (the more radical one who will probably lose in the primary). Why do I go to these functions? Why do I volunteer? =) There are always very few young people. And the music always sucks!!!!!
Who will be the next world-changing policy-makers? Will they try to work within the current political system, or seek to influence it from outside? Which is more effective? Ah, the age-old questions. And I digress...
At any rate, there's a point at which politically-conscious young people choose where to best expend their energy, using their own particular and unique skills. The Next Deal offers some suggestions and thinking points for those of us who are already policy wonks!
What we need is a clarion call for our peers who have already given up on government.