Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

30 June, 2006

Men who are accomplished in the ways of men

Via The General:
Safari Club International (SCI) [is] an extreme trophy hunting organization that advocates the killing of rare species around the world.


The Arizona-based SCI has made a name for itself as one of the most extreme and elite trophy hunting organizations, representing some 40,000 wealthy trophy collectors, fostering and promoting competitive trophy hunting of exotic animals on five continents. SCI members shoot prescribed lists of animals to win so-called Grand Slam and Inner Circle titles. There's the Africa Big Five (leopard, elephant, lion, rhino, and buffalo), the North American Twenty Nine (all species of bear, bison, sheep, moose, caribou, and deer), Big Cats of the World, Antlered Game of the Americas, and many other contests.
This, of course, is a good time to remind you that Dick Cheney shot a man in the face.

Really? No fucking shit!

Better, more informed minds than mine have been blogging about the SCOTUS' Hamdan decision, but this statement in today's WaPo really sums up the last five years for me:
In rejecting Bush's military tribunals for terrorism suspects, the high court ruled that even a wartime commander in chief must govern within constitutional confines significantly tighter than this president has believed appropriate.
Now, I just scanned the Constitution, and nowhere does it differentiate between the powers of a wartime and peacetime president. I also re-learned what Amendment XXIII was - I think you'll be pleasantly rewarded for your curiousity!

For five years, we knew that this "I'm a war president" line of legal logic was a steaming, grass-blade flecked pile of horseshit. I'd wager most of the people who chronicled the events for the last five years knew that the expansive war powers claimed by Bush were unconstitutional. But before saying, "There's nothing in the Constitution or the Federalist Papers or really in our history which supports this interpretation of Article II," - obvious to me, not the most legal of minds - journalists needed the definitive answer - apparently from the Supreme Court, until the Bushies just say, "To hell with them!"

Why did the SCOTUS saying this make it newsworthy when everyone but the ruling cabal already knew that the Bushies were overreaching their power and doing great harm to people at home and around the world?

29 June, 2006

Random thoughts on the drive home, in order

Or Three instances of nausea around midnight, plus one:
  1. Parking lot of a local high school, the guy's neck hung in disbelief, the woman sitting on the curb, knees drawn to chest, staring at the ground. I've had summer breaks start that way.
  2. There aren't IEDs in Eugene, I thought to myself as I drove over two commemorative plastic beer cups laying in the road.
  3. Outside a lumber mill, an orange-vest clad security guard actually gives his left front tire a kick before getting in his truck; he had some reason for doing this, and I'm oddly curious to know what it was.
  • Truth is, I felt nauseous that entire drive home. Sympathy?

28 June, 2006

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Cool swag I'd buy if I had surplus income.

Oh Weber!

Even little bureaucracies produce massive amounts of waste.

A giant leap forward for the Working Families Party

Buried in this article in the NYT regarding New York state granting over 52,000 day-care employees collective bargaining rights (which is great news for the workers, and for (although the article doesn't mention it, I'm surmising) SEIU): rejoice fans of fusion voting and the Working Families Party!:
The Senate votes show the clout of the labor-backed Working Families Party, a past supporter of Senator Nicholas A. Spano, a Yonkers Republican [emphasis added] who carried his district by a mere 18 votes in 2004. Mr. Spano, who sponsored the child care bill, is aggressively courting the party's support in the fall election.


Shortly after the vote Friday night, Mr. Spano called Bertha Lewis, the co-chairwoman of the Working Families Party, to tell her the news.
While I don't want to quibble with an admittedly good outcome for day-care workers, is this labor's new political strategy - forming a new party and cozying up to Republicans who'll throw us a scrap every now and again?

Iceland: The happiest place on earth

So says this report in the Guardian, followed closely by the Aussies:
At the bottom end, the economists Andrew Leigh, of the Australian National University, and Justin Wolfers, of Wharton University, Pennsylvania, ranked Russians, Ukrainians, Romanians and Bulgarians as the world's most miserable.
I'm sure Dostoevsky would be shocked.
Using the Human Development Index, which combines life-expectancy, education and GDP, the researchers found that Australians were happier than most other people despite longer hours and a lower level of job satisfaction.
My guess? Foster's, Foster's, Foster's.

Appetite for security guards

Shouldn't Axl be over the drunken hotel rampage bit at his age? Although I gotta say, biting a man on the leg - that's fuckin' rock'n roll.

I'm sorry I've been neglecting you

Dear cherished blog reader (except those of you who arrive here thinking that this is some sort of low-rent porn site - hell, I couldn't give this shit away),

So I haven't been up to my normal prolific blogging. I know you come here expecting three, four, and on an exceptionally good day, even six posts of something or other. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes profound, but mostly just the mediocre ramblings of someone who likes to see what he has to say paraded in front of him and others by cleverly arranged electrons. And lately, I haven't been up to it.

Oh, I could make excuses: I've been busy with work, the trials and tribulations of the World Cup have absorbed my conscious thoughts, the weather melted my keyboard. But let's be honest, the reason for my lack of posting is because I haven't been thinking about you, my lovely, lovely blog reader. I've only been thinking of myself and my selfish needs.

Yes, I know you want to be caressed with lyrical bon mots, dazzled with flourishes of rapier wit, and touched deeply, deeply with profound thoughts, but all I've been able to muster is complaints about the weather and a lame list of what popped up on the old media player.

You deserve more than that. So much more.

And after I sleep off the two super-size stouts that the divine ms. wobs profferred me this evening as peace offerings, I promise I'll give you, my caring, sharing, daring blog reader, post after post of meaningless nonsense dressed up in syntax that, while grammatically correct, still remains more interesting than the average humdrum sentence structures you see in the more quotidian publications. It's a promise of returning to form, of searching for the latest faux pas, absurdity, or witticism that comes across the dull light of a monitor before me.

I'll begin again to share a little piece of me with you, my most devoted blog reader.

And this is why drinking 32 oz. of stout before bed is a bad, bad idea.

27 June, 2006

Too. Fucking. Hot.

I sure have a bunch of great ideas floating in my head that I'd love to write about, but the plastic on my keyboard is melting. The heat wave is supposed to relent tomorrow, so I'll hope that my computer has re-congealed into a somewhat usable state at that time.

In the meantime, I'm going to finish Assassin's Gate so I can write a blurb and get the book back to its owner.

26 June, 2006

Sweltering playlist

I think I can make it through another day of this blasted heat until things get back to our normal balmy weather. In the meantime, some cool tunes for the hot weather. You'll note I'm not going to comment on the music, because the last time I did that, I made an ass of myself.
  • Lodi - Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles
  • Car Jamming - The Clash
  • Two Beads at the End - The Minutemen
  • You Are the Everything - REM
  • Let's Compromise - Yo La Tengo
  • Mohawk - Charlie Parker
  • Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1 - The Flaming Lips
  • I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself - The White Stripes
  • Offering - Tibetan Prayer Chant
And your bonus track #11:
  • Paint It Black - The Rolling Stones
So what the hell are you listening to?

23 June, 2006

Um, yeah

It's too nice a day to be outraged, concerned, or ironic. I'm going to take the weekend off for blogging. See y'all on Monday.

Jumping the proverbial gun

We haven't even made it to the midterms and already folks (myself included) are yammering on about 2008. I'm not overly invested in the horse-race aspects just yet, but I did find this blurb in a post by kos interesting:
And I do know that the Change To Win unions (SEIU, UNITE-HERE, Teamsters) are really gearing up to back Edwards with all they've got making Edwards a major player in the 2008 sweepstakes.
I'm not sure what to make of this. Anyone want to shed some light on the matter with some reasoned inferences or wild speculation?

22 June, 2006

All the mystery is gone

Dave has learned the identity of our decency trolls. Kudos for keeping the joke going for so long, men who are accomplished in the ways of men.

And we have seen the face of, and it is us.

Ghana advances

The Ghanans (Ghanese? Ghanawegians?) apparently are known as the "Brazilians of Africa." Unfortunately, it appears that in the next round, they'll be playing Brazil, who are known as the "Brazilians."

21 June, 2006

I'm shocked, shocked! that this would happen

Hm. Go figure. The renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is being blocked by Southern GOP members of the House.

If it weren't for the fact that it's the GOP, rather than Dixiecrats, who are blocking its renewal, I'd probably be questioning what year it is.

Church-sanctioned filth

Well, since some of us are a little too blue for a certain someone's blog, we'll have to move the filth-fest over here.

But I must admit, the scoldings of one Larry Shae have caused me to re-evaluate my smuttiness. So here is my attempt at turning a new leaf: Fisting and God's Will (with a tip o' the hat to atrios):
The sex act called fisting is a source of confusion and misconceptions for many Christians. This is unfortunate, because it means that many Christian men and women are depriving themselves of what could be the most spiritual sexual experience of their lives. Like anal sex and BDSM, fisting is often mistakenly associated with the gay community or is considered a sex act too extreme to be appropriate for Christian couples. Not only are these views incorrect, but fisting actually has a scriptural precedent, as we will show.
Now that will get me back into the pew!

A few things

  1. John Kerry needs to stop running for president. Whatever the guy does, the storyline is going to be "Kerry makes Dems look weak and indecisive." So really, I'm glad he wants to help, but it's not doing anyone any good for him to be fronting some of these proposals.
  2. Why is the NYT so obsessed with the politics of the situation? Shouldn't there be a serious national discussion on how we resolve the mess we've made in Iraq? Something that goes beyond "stay the course" or "cut and run?" I've got to confess, I have no idea what the best course of action is - does our moral responsibility to help fix what we fucked up in the first place override the very real possibility that our military's presence in Iraq is itself a destabilizing factor? That sounds to me like a more important discussion than "John Kerry smells like cat farts."
  3. Who referenced in that article wasn't running for president?

An odd way to go

I don't think this is how Dan Rather - or most of us, for that matter - figured his career would end:
In September 2004, however, he introduced and subsequently defended a report questioning George Bush's National Guard service during the Vietnam war. The report relied on documents that were revealed as fakes, and in its aftermath Rather stepped down as evening news anchor, taking a reporting role on the 60 Minutes programme. However he has been used only eight times in a year, and complained last week in an interview with the New York Times that he had been given nothing to do for six weeks. Relations with the network appear to have deteriorated when he was offered a contract that included an office and an assistant but no affiliation with any programme.


Rather, who is in negotiations with the HDNet channel to front a weekly interview programme, has spent much of his recent downtime watching the film Good Night and Good Luck, George Clooney's tribute to Ed Murrow and the groundbreaking television reporting of the 50s. He is said to have seen it five times.
I thought Rather got the raw end of the deal,presenting discrediting evidence (for whatever reason - a mistake, getting duped, dirty trick, etc.) into an otherwise accurate piece of reporting.

But that last paragraph - it all sounds so sad. Rather had his many faults, but he didn't need to be humiliated like that. Yeah, I know, politics blah, blah, but it just makes me a little sad.

20 June, 2006

He gets all the crazies

Like moths to a light, the crazies seem to be having a grand old time over at Dave's blog.

Macho macho man

digby gets to play over at Jane's place this evening, and while there pontificates on the intoxicating whiff of testosterone which has the DC press corps a-twitter.

And really, why "frothy?"

An unhappy evening for the wee wobs

We've been trying for some time to keep the wee wobs from chasing our old, cranky dog. The lad chases him with his scoot-cycle, runs after him with his toy trucks, and lunges after him with sticks.

Tonight, the old cranky dog had enough and took a nip at the wee wobs. There was a lot of blood and a lot of crying. It was pretty traumatic for everyone involved, but after some direct pressure, soap, water, and salve, a little tylenol, and a lot of hugs and TLC, the wee wobs seems back at 100%. His hand is going to be a little sore for the next few days, but I don't think we'll have to worry about him bothering the dawg any more. It's unfortunate that he had to learn this lesson this way, but I s'pose that's part of growing up.

It's all over but the whining

Ah... I just clicked the "submit grades" button and bid farewell to teaching. That felt good, although I do know that I have deal with the grade grubbing. A few of my stock responses:
  • I made "A"s on all of my papers! How could I have made a C on my final?
    - You probably should've studied.
  • But I did study!
    - You know, if you study stoned, you should take the test stoned. It's what psychologists call "state dependent learning." 'Course, this wasn't a psych class.
  • My average on Blackboard is a "B." How come my final grade is a "C+?"
    - Could be those six classes you skipped - or did you miss the part on the syllabus about me docking you half a letter grade for every three unexcused absences you have?
  • It says on Blackboard that my average is a "C." How come I failed the class?
    - Huh. It could be because you came to exactly three lectures (and no discussions). Or it could be because you didn't turn in a paper, and the syllabus says that you need to turn in all of the assignments in order to pass. Or it could be that you're just a big jerk.
  • But I took the class Pass/No Pass!
    - Right. "Fail" means "No Pass."
Oh the joys to which I have to look forward.

A few folks have asked if I'm going to miss teaching. The answer is a resounding "no," for a few reasons. First, I didn't like doing the prep, or the grading, or the lecturing, all of which makes it pretty difficult to enjoy teaching in the first place.

The more important reason, however, is that teaching required me to be something of an authority or an expert. I have no doubt that I am more knowledgable about my fields of competency than 99.99% of the world's population. Hell, I've probably forgotten more than that 99.99% knew. But I've always had in my mind that the more I learn, the less I know - and that's certainly true here. The more in depth I go in to a field, the more questions are raised, the most important being, "Do I really believe this shit?" Add to this the obsessive self-reflexivity of an ethnographer and the participant observer's reticence to be seen as any particular kind of authority, plus the "what do I as a white, middle-class, heterosexual male have to teach you women about oppression" complex through which I've been suffering, and you have someone who doesn't have the requisite confidence in his own knowledge to feel qualified to pass it on to others in the University setting.

So I'm not going to miss teaching at the University. Luckily, the organizing jobs of my future will fill that void - you have to teach folks to organize, and it seems that I do have a knack for that.

So farewell academics! I care about you enough to fight for you, but not enough to pontificate among you! And congrats to all of you who are successfully pursuing this path. You're special people and I admire your commitment!

19 June, 2006

Another corner turned

Dire. From a State Department cable apparently obtained by the WaPo:
-- Since April, the "demeanor" of guards in the Green Zone has changed, becoming more "militia-like," and some are now "taunting" embassy personnel or holding up their credentials and saying loudly that they work in the embassy: "Such information is a death sentence if overheard by the wrong people." For this reason, some have asked for press instead of embassy credentials.

-- "For at least six months, we have not been able to use any local staff members for translation at on-camera press events....We cannot call employees in on weekends or holidays without blowing their 'cover.'"

-- "More recently, we have begun shredding documents printed out that show local staff surnames. In March, a few staff members approached us to ask what provisions would we make for them if we evacuate."

-- The overall environment is one of "frayed social networks," with frequent actual or perceived insults. None of this is helped by lack of electricity. "One colleague told us he feels 'defeated' by circumstances, citing his example of being unable to help his two-year-old son who has asthma and cannot sleep in stifling heat," which is now reaching 115 degrees.

-- "Another employee tell us that life outside the Green Zone has become 'emotionally draining.' He lives in a mostly Shiite area and claims to attend a funeral 'every evening.'"

18 June, 2006

Hands down

The Koreans are by far the best fans in this World Cup.

17 June, 2006

Ugly officiating

So exactly one of those three red cards was called for. Lousy job.

And now I'm put in the uncomfortable position of having to cheer for Italy against the Czech Republic come Thursday.

A beautiful game

Ghana over the Czech Republic, 2-0?!?!?


15 June, 2006

I'll tell you who I like

Not that many of you care, but Dave is going to need to post the flags for me in the A.M. because I've got to drop the wee wobs off at the day care in the morning.

Costa Rica v. Ecuador: Can the Ticos bounce back from their opening match against Germany? Not against Ecuador, who I'm picking as my sleeper to go deep into the tournament.

England v. Trinidad-Tobago: Because some of my favorite people are going to be pulling for them, I'm going to have to root for the Three Lions as well.

Sweden v. Paraguay: They're the underdog. They're South American. They're my pick. Go Paraguay.

Life is good

Wow. How often do you get to type a title like that and actually mean it?

First, great soccer matches on the tele today.

Second, I think I got my organizing groove back today, signing up four, count 'em, four new members in the office. A few years ago, I used to be able to have an organizing conversation without even thinking about it, but being away from that aspect of unionism for the past few years had made my chops a little rusty. Today, however, I definitely felt the old skills reinsinuating themselves.

The wee wobs and I harvested some yummy fresh kale for dinner, and we pulled about three pounds of ripe cherries off one of our trees. I think I've actually gotten all the cherries from this particular tree I can reach - the others are too high, so I'll leave them for the birds. Our other cherry tree looks like it'll be ready to harvest in about a week. I love the summer fruit season!

Finally, I got to spend a lovely evening with the enchanting ms. wobs. Now, if I can just get past this one last stack of grading, I'll be free from the shackles of academia for evermore!

14 June, 2006

And this marriage is "awesome" how?

Yes, I know I'm a trashy celebrity gossip whore. Bad wobs. Bad, bad wobs. But really, this crap contains a treasure trove of snark. For example:
Britney also addressed the rumours about her “awesome” marriage to Kevin Federline. She denied any problems and reports that Kevin is living in the basement of their home: “[Kevin] helps me. He has to. I’m [an] emotional wreck right now.”
Now I don't claim to be the most widely-travelled fellow in the world, but in my experience, the only people who live in basements are teenagers, twenty-somethings who move back into their parents home after college, and Frog. If your husband is living in your basement, it seems that "awesome" wouldn't be the best adjective to describe your marital relations.

This can lead us to only two conclusions:
  1. Britney Spears' marriage is not "awesome" (she's a liar)
  2. Britney Spears doesn't know what "awesome" means (she's an idiot)
The two are, of course, not mutually exclusive.

Now more than ever

Nathan Newman has a great "Labor Union 101" diary over at dkos chock full of links, graphs, and personal anecdotes guaranteed to make even the most cynical fair share member say "give me that fucking blue card, I'm signing up today!"

Well, maybe the fairies won't say that, but it's a great primer to give to anyone who's sceptical about the continuing value of the labor movement.

Go and check it out.

We're not the only folks who think Horowitz is a world class dipthong

John at C&L has the tape of Horowitz saying some very silly things.

Watch the tape and remind me again why we have to take such a douchebag seriously.

13 June, 2006

Oh the games I've seen

France v. Switzerland: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-ring.
Brazil v. Croatia: We can give Croatia the moral victory in only losing 1-0, right? I actually thought Croatia looked pretty good against the favored to win it all Canary Selection.

And my picks for tomorrow...
Spain v. Ukraine: I like Spain to flop, flop, flop their way to a win.
Tunisia v. Saudi Arabia: Tunisia - 'cuz I have to pick someone.
Germany v. Poland: Gotta root for Poland.

I will go to Baghdad... but not tell anyone until I'm there

Bush ain't Ike. At least he's not handing out plastic turkeys to soldiers.


Am I to understand that tomorrow I get to choose between cheering for France or Switzerland? No underdog to support? No plucky, civil-war torn Third World nation to cheer on? No home team or ethnic tie to which I may cling? No regional style on which to hang my hat?

I have to choose between the capitalists' capitalists or... the French?

Oh, I'm rooting on South Korea in the early game and Croatia for the nooner (or more appropriately, I'm rooting against Brazil).

12 June, 2006

Pausing to catch my breath

I'm definitely not going to miss the end-of-term grading mayhem that's plaguing my life these days. Really, there's only so many bad papers one can read without want to claw one's eyes out, and the good ones aren't taking the edge off.

I thought I'd pop my head up for a moment and rattle off a few thoughts.
  • Based on the first few days of viewing (I didn't get to see any games today), I'm liking Ecuador to make a run in the World Cup. They've got an incredibly quick defense that was able shut down passing lanes and frustrate a much larger Polish offense. They're incredibly patient on the other end of the pitch and are opportunistic when the chance presents itself. Plus, playing their home games at 8000 feet, they're conditioned as all hell. They should easily make it out of their group - they play a lackluster Costa Rican squad, and I think they'll run circles around Germany. I think the real challenge for Ecuador will come when they face one of the South American giants in the advanced rounds - I don't know that their speed and conditioning will do much against a Brazil or Argentina.
  • I see the kids are starting up the Students for a Democratic Society on campus again. I know I sound like a cynical old fart, but appropriating the name of a 1960s student group does not a radical movement make, and you're not helping yourself when you say things like this:
    Some flyers advertising the meeting said "Stop ONAMI @ U of O." ONAMI refers to the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute, a research collaboration involving the UO, OSU, Portland State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and regional industry representatives.

    "It's not anything against the ONAMI project in general; it's just where the funding is coming from," Eiden said.
    I'm as much against militarism as the next guy, but the DoD pays the bills for a lot of academics. Moreover, DoD funding has been integral to a great many of the conveniences of modern life, like these here internets. I suppose I get a little miffed when people are making a big deal out of a research project because of its funding stream, but don't say a word about the poverty and homelessness which surrounds the verdant UO campus. Priorities, people.
  • Because Wendy G asked: you can track your own blog traffic by getting a SiteMeter. Click on the link, register your site, cut & paste the html code into your blog template, and voilá, enjoy the thrill of knowing your readership. If you want to check out how the stats are presented, scroll to the bottom of this page and click on the little rainbow box in the lower left hand corner. Good fun.
I s'pose that'll do for now. The blogging will be fairly light for the next week as I finish up and wash my hands of academia.

09 June, 2006

We should be so lucky

It's been awhile since I've bashed on Tom Cruise. He apparently hasn't done anything too asinine in awhile. But then we get this little snippet about his trip to Japan for the Japanese premiere of Mission Impossible 3:
Cruise will then board a private bullet train that will take him and 150 fans to Osaka, and he promises to talk to each passenger individually.
Oooo. Each passenger individually? And to think that Tom Cruise would deign to speak to the little people.

Is this going to be some sort of creepy Scientologist indoctrination train ride?

Best. Job. Ever.

Game 1 of the GTFF's World Cup extravaganza? A rousing success.

We'll be here all month, folks.

08 June, 2006

Might as well Jump! (off the tallest building available)

1984 was my first ever favorite album, back when I was ten years old, and "Jump" was the single that completely hooked me. I'm not too proud to admit that I shelled out the ducats to go see Diamond Dave at the county fair last year, and was thrilled to hear his band play that song. And yeah, it still rocked (as most Roth-era Van Halen does).

But this is a travesty. And kinda funny.

07 June, 2006

Theology 101

Welcome to Ann Coulter's world:
A footnote on Page 3 of [her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism] reads: "Throughout this book, I often refer to Christians and Christianity because I am a Christian and I have a fairly good idea of what they believe, but the term is intended to include anyone who subscribes to the Bible of the God of Abraham, including Jews and others." [emphasis added]


As for Episcopalians, they might be disheartened to learn that they will not be welcoming their newly Christian Jewish friends into the brotherhood of Christ, because they don't quite measure up as a church. Coulter writes on Page 5, "Howard Dean left the Episcopal Church -- which is barely even a church -- because his church, in Montpelier, Vermont, would not cede land for a bike path." [emphasis added]
And that's only in the first five pages of the book. I can hear the clergy signing up for their seminary refresher courses as I type.


It's sometimes hard to acknowledge being a citizen of the States these days, but then you read a response to this article on the World Cup in the Guardian, and it kinda makes you say - very quietly - "America, fuck yeah!":
I love The Guardian, hate Bush, and deplore American provincialism. But I have to say this: thank your lucky stars that the US doesn't care about football. If our very best athletes were devoted to the sport, you would see something that would make the Brazilian juggernaut pale. Imagine the the speed and grace of Brazil (American football wide receivers) the organization of Germany (after all, Germans are the largest American ethnic group), the innovation of the dread Argies (they are a second rate new world power; imagine what would happen if the American improvisors, the creators of jazz gave a damn about your sport) all wrapped into one team. What would be the result? Perennial US dominance. Please keep bitching about our indifference to "soccer." It's a secret form of prayer, a way of saying, "Thank god the Yanks don't care. Imagine having to carry their water on the pitch the way we do in Basra."

Here's to "not caring" about the World Cup at the GTFF for the next four weeks!

We did it our way

I suppose it's my turn to add to the AGEL decompression of my colleagues (read this first if you have no idea what the hell I'm babbling about).

Simply put, this is the first time I recall AGEL participants actually sitting down and hashing out what they wanted AGEL to be. And that, to me, was very exciting. People want it to be more than semi-annual meetings and monthly phone conferences. We want to be able to maintain mentoring relationships, we want access to the resources and knowledge to help us succeed. We have a fairly well-defined vision of the academy under which we'd like to work. The fact that we sat down and planned out what we would collectively like AGEL to be for the next, say, one year is a significant step forward in the maturity of the organization - and I like to think the GTFF is on the verge of a very similar big step ahead.

While I agree with Dave about the organizing model (orthodox or our own reform version) being downplayed at this meeting, I think it was certainly implied. I know one of the recommendations of my breakout sessions was the revival of the "First Contact to First Contract" guide, which is a full-on organizing model blitz. But the meta-conversation we had, I believe, is a necessary prelude to any discussion of how to organize. If we don't know what we want to do, if we don't have a well-defined plan, our attempts to implement the "organizing model" will end up being a series of Sisyphean head-meets-wall moments. However, if we take the time to see where we want to go, and mete out any contingencies, not only will have something around which to implement the organizing model, it will actually suggest how we implement it to best suit our needs in our particular context.

I'm really excited. If we keep on each other and follow through with some of the concrete action items that were proposed, I think the coming year could be really exciting for graduate employees within AFT.

That's enough of the work related biz - I'm sure we'll be continuing these conversations in the corporeal realm in the coming days. Onto the real AGEL report - the hardcore alcohol abuse and sleep deprivation.

I really can't imagine a group of people - well, most of them, at least - with whom I'd rather spend time. It's odd how such intense relationships can build over three day encounters which occur, at most, three or four times a year. But they do, and AGEListas are a group I love - whether they be alum who are now plying their trade in academia or elsewhere, crusty vets who've been around longer than god, or fresh-faced newbies who return home completely jazzed about the union movement. And what I enjoy even more is having my comrades from home get introduced to this band of raging lunatics. It's a taste that goes great together.

So that's all for now, but I'm sure this conversation will continue and bleed into others. Which is good.

06 June, 2006

The upshot

Well, making an ass of yourself sure as hell increases your traffic. Welcome to the readers of Jon Swift - please enjoy yourself, and do forgive the, um... dumbassitude of one particular post.

All right, no more mea culpas, and back to the blogging.

05 June, 2006


Well, that was embarrassing. And I certainly deserved this.


I don't know what's more embarrassing, the fact that I was in such an addled condition (jet lag? too much booze and/or pot? weather too hot? forgot my meds?) that I missed the obvious satire (which I should have immediately noticed coming from someone with the pseudonym of Jon Swift), or the fact that given the state of conservative discourse over the last five years, I honestly believed that a conservative would be inspired to write this.

Seriously, after hearing that we've "turned the corner in Iraq" for the umpteenth time, or that "no one could have foreseen the levees failing in New Orleans," is it that much of a stretch to believe that the people who are buying that bill of goods think that "In The Navy" is a celebration of the military?

No, I know. I completely missed the joke. A red-faced doffing of the cap to Mr. Swift for ropin' a big ole dope.

01 June, 2006

It's kind of like tee-ball

I checked my e-mail for the first time in a few days, and in it I had a very nice invitation from one pseudonymous Jon Swift (who does have a great e-handle) to check out his list of 50 more conservative rock songs. This blogger sent me this despite knowing that I mocked the previous list, and that I was sure to mock his list as well (patience, dear readers, I'll get to it!). I did, however, want to extend to Mr. Swift a thank you for his gracious invitation and to let him know that the mocking is nothing personal and meant in good humor. In fact, when I have a bit more time, I'll post a list of 50 "left-wing" country songs where I take selective quotes out of context and interpret them liberally for him to mock. It's all about trading traffic, right?

So let's get to the business of chuckling at someone else's expense, shall we?
According to Ann Althouse, "To be a great artist is inherently right wing. A great artist like Dylan or Picasso may have some superficial, naive, lefty things to say, but underneath, where it counts, there is a strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that."
I understand that conservatives like to claim a monopoly on things like being strong and taking responsibility - unless they are talking about those mean liberal judges who are thwarting the will of the people, or those nasty secularists who are busy still persecuting the right-wing Christians who control all three branches of government.
You begin to wonder if there really is any such thing as a liberal rock song. I think a lot of liberal critics twist the meanings of some of the lyrics, pull words out of context or just willfully blind themselves to the real meaning of many rock songs.
I just blew milk out of my nose. Pot, meet kettle.

I'm going to assume that we're using the same criteria the NRO used for their list, except interpreted more, ahem, liberally.
1. Bobby McFerrin, "Don't Worry, Be Happy"
Has there ever been a more succinct summation of the philosophy of conservatism? I could listen to this song again and again and again and again.
If this is the most succinct summation of conservative philosophy available, I think we could all agree then that conservatism is the most vapid political ideology around. 2400+ dead American soldiers? Not my problem! Saddling our children with a crushing debt to finance our foreign misadventures? Hey, it's not my money! Failure to protect life, liberty, and property in NOLA? What, me worry?
2. Bruce Springsteen, "Born in the USA"
How could the National Review have missed this one? Ronald Reagan loved this patriotic song and used it during his campaign, which must have made Bruce Springsteen very proud. I love to sing the words aloud: "Something, something, something, etc./BORN IN THE USA!"
They probably missed it because it's an indictment of me-first Americanism. But, you'd have to listen to more than the words in the chorus to figure that one out. Incidentally, the Boss has asked several times that Republicans not use this song for their campaigns.
10. Iggy Pop, "I'm a Conservative"
"When you're conservative you get a better break/You're always on the right side" This is so true.
This is the sort of thing that drives ms. wobs crazy - missing the obvious sarcasm.
11. Barry Sadler, "Ballad of the Green Berets"
"Fighting soldiers from the sky/Fearless men who jump and die/Men who mean just what they say/The brave men of the Green Beret." If it weren't unmanly to cry I'd be tearing up right about now.
I saw this advertised on an album of Country Classics. How this got thrown in the hopper as a rock song is anyone's guess, but I'll applaud Mr. Swift's, ahem, liberal interpetation of what qualifies as a rock song.
12. Neil Young, "Let's Roll"
If he wrote more songs like this and stopped writing songs that dis Lynyrd Skynyrd and our President, I wouldn't have signed the petition to have him deported back to Canada.
First, conservatives have absolutely no ownership over 9/11 - what happened on that day happened to everyone in the United States, regardless of political affiliation, national origin, etc. The people on Flight 93 of whom Neil Young wrote were not all Republicans. It's a tale of heroism and sacrifice that belongs to humanity, not one political party. Incidentally, seeing some conservatives (and I do not know whether Mr. Swift falls into this category, not having read beyond one post in his blog) appropriate this particular narrative of heroism while supporting a war in which they are unwilling to enlist themselves or their children to fight makes me a little nauseous.

Second, Neil Young didn't diss Skynyrd. It was quite the opposite. Young wrote "Southern Man," which Skynyrd responded to in "Sweet Home Alabama." Of course, Skynyrd didn't realize that Young was referring to old-fashioned Yankee Imperialism, not the denizens of the Southeast.
17. Beatles, "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"
There are so many great conservative Beatles songs. The National Review had two, "Taxman" and "Revolution," but I especially love this celebration of gun ownership. I'm sure that John Lennon would be a member of the NRA if he were alive today since he was a great believer in individual freedom.
There's that milk again. I may have to stop reading this list, otherwise I'm going to ruin AFT's property. I hope we're all enjoying the irony of John Lennon being an NRA member if he hadn't been gunned down in front of the Dakota.
18. Byrds, "Turn, Turn, Turn"
All the lyrics come from the Bible, which is, of course, conservative.
Um... have you read the Bible? There's some pretty lefty things in there. Taking care of the poor. "It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven"? If Mr. Swift wants to politicize the Bible, I'll take him on in that fight. I'm not going to say it's a leftist text, but it sure as hell ain't a conservative book.
22. The Village People, "In the Navy"
A moving tribute to our fighting forces by a group of men who dress like real men from a time when no one had ever heard of a metrosexual.
But they were gay, gay, gay! Really gay! Out and proud gay! And they were alluding to a long history of homosexuality on the high seas! C'mon, listen to the damn songs and understand the context in which they were written before adding them to your list! I suppose I should take comfort in the fact that he's not praising "YMCA" as a ditty extolling the virtues of youth service.

I realize this has become a long post, so you might want to take a break, stretch, grab another beverage from the fridge, pee, etc. We'll wait.

Okay, ready?
23. Ted Nugent, "I Just Wanna Go Hunting"
It's a mystery why the most prominent conservative, NRA card-carrying, non-drug-taking, beef jerky-selling rock 'n' roller was left of the National Review's list.
Finally! A song on this list that makes fucking sense!
24. Pink Floyd, "Another Brick In The Wall, Part II"
"We don't need no education." Clearly, this is an argument for home schooling.
Hey, us hippie lefties started the home-schooling craze long before you conservatives pulled your kids out of private school. And clearly, this song is not about home schooling. It's about rebelling against the stultifying conformity of bourgeois England. Did he listen to the rest of the words in that song?
25. Jennifer Lopez, "Jenny from the Block"
Liberals think there is something wrong with making money but as JLo proves, making a lot of money didn't make her any more arrogant than she already was.
Okay, that was funny.
29. Gorillaz, "Dirty Harry"
"I need a gun to keep myself from harm." A tribute to the Second Amendment, although since they live in England the amendment probably has a different number.
Um... England doesn't have a constitutional right to bear arms. Or a document which would be the rough equivalent of our Constitution. And again, I think we may be missing some tongue-firmly-in-cheek commentary here.
33. Beastie Boys, "Fight for Your Right (to Party)"
Civil rights, schmivel rights. Here's a fight a conservative can really back wholeheartedly.
By this logic, conservatives should also support youth smoking, skipping school, porn, and pissing of your parents.
34. Crosby Stills Nash and Young, "Ohio"
"Should have been done long ago," CSN&Y sing about the shooting of anti-war protesters at Kent State, which sounds harsh but true. A cautionary song about what could happen when you protest against the government.
Uh, no. You don't get to appropriate a song that clearly comes out against the government shooting students (who weren't part of the protests, as I recall) in the back as they were fleeing.
38. The Rascals, "People Got To Be Free"
Any song that talks about freedom is conservative, of course.
Unless, of course, you're talking about freedom to criticize the president, freedom to marry who you want, regardless of what gender or sex that person may be, freedom to put drugs in your body, freedom to use the telephone without the government logging your call, etc.
41. Guns N Roses, "One in a Million"
Axl Rose's "Anti-Immigrant Song."
I'm glad to see conservatives are re-embracing racism these days.
42. Bob Marley, "Redemption Song"
"Have no fear for atomic energy." Marley's "song of freedom" from the "mental slavery" of environmentalism.
Wow - and they call leftists post-modern. Mr. Swift is probably unaware that there is a pro-nuclear energy wing of the environmental movement - which is forgivable. What's not forgivable is pigeon-holing this song as an anti-environmentalist screed.
43. Toby Keith, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)”
"You’ll be sorry that you messed with/The U.S. of A./'Cause we'll put a BOOT in your ass/It's the American way." President Bush now says he regrets the tough language he used but I'm sure Toby Keith doesn't.

45. Lee Greenwood, "God Bless the U.S.A."
"I'm proud to be an American/where at least I know I'm free." I almost didn't include this song because the "at least" sounds suspiciously liberal.
Argh! Not rock songs! Not rock songs!
44. Edgar Winter Group, "Frankenstein"
I included this song because the National Review list included "Godzilla," though I'm not sure why. I think it's because monsters are conservative for some reason.
Hey, that's as compelling a reason as anything else on this non-sensical list!

And finally:
48. Britney Spears, "Oops...I Did It Again"
Bush supporter, wife, mother and role model Britney Spears doesn't feel the need to apologize for her "mistakes" because the men who might have thought she led them on should take personal responsibility for their actions.
First off - not a great song. Horrific, really. Second, assuming Mr. Swift's interpretation is spot on, isn't Britney Spears making a feminist statement, that she shouldn't be viewed as a sex object and should be allowed to act the way she wants without unwanted male attention?

And Britney Spears a role model? The one who drove her car with her child on her lap? The one who hired little people to entertain at her douchebag of a husband's birthday party?

Oops! Big ole milk spray there. I think I've finally wore out my welcome here!

[updated 6/5/06 at 11:18 AM]: Yeah, I know. I'm a tool.

It's fucking hot

I've got some down-time today before I go schmooze at the Executive Council meeting (gotta pick up some business cards for future employment).

It's been blazing here - temps in the upper 80s and enough humidity to make me chafe in very uncomfortable places. Meetings were predictable dull, and I've traipsed all over hell and half of Georgia looking for free wifi - I even trekked out to Tenleytown and American U., figuring if any places had free wifi, it'd be where there were students. Wrong.

So, you'll have the pleasure of reading some posts from the pulsing nerve center of the AFT Higher Ed. office. Truly exciting.