Saturday, September 25, 2004

Thoughts on Burnout

I think it's the religious background: the whole your-life-doesn't-matter-only-God's-plan-does mentality being drilled into my head. Add to that the whole Asian thing about deference and sacrificing yourself and knowing your place. Then toss in the vaguely socialist, bleeding heart liberal attitude about the village raising a child.

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

Not Entirely Fine With This!

Oh, and this was kind of a fucked up movie. Great for its first three-quarters -- comedy with philosophical underpinnings about masks people wear, the rigidity of class stratification and class expectations, how social interactions shift with varying perceptions, etc. Good soundtrack (any film that plays "Sandstorm" rocks my world!), really hot lead actor, great stage sets.

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???

Maps, Rocks, and God

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


So Washington State's new primary system was tested today (see Seattle Weekly). Mixed feelings about it -- like most Washingtonians I have waaay too much of an independent streak and hate being labeled (in all things, not just voting habits!). But I understand that parties have the right to choose their own candidates, and that the state constitution doesn't mandate a primary, so I can get over my usual commitmentphobia and participate in the new primary system.

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

Twilight ... my favorite time of day!

Always a time for reflection.

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

Article madness

Been catching up on all my AlterNet and magazine subscription readings -- I'm not as distracted reading in cafes as I am reading in my own apartment!

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

Shermie the Shark

Had issues uploading the graphic, but this was my laugh-out-loud moment yesterday.

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

Pondering activism

Just reread Letter from a Birmingham Jail. It still manages to inspire. With eloquence and erudition, Dr. King outlines a strategy for opposing injustice, and rightfully chastises the apathetic.