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October 28, 2008 Leave a comment

This morning I had an appointment with the University of Rochester to discuss the graduate program there and whether or not I would like to be a part of it. Already having a Master’s Degree I have obviously been qualified to teach at a Community College level as has been my employment for the last couple of years. Faithful readers will know that last spring was my last semester as I lost my classes to the new full time appointment at both ECC and Trocaire.

I’m not sure why I didn’t get the position at Trocaire but I am fairly certain that my lack of PhD affected my status at ECC. I was apparently good enough as a fill-in/part time professor for two years but not for a full professorship. It’s like being a brand new cell phone that they give away once the contract expires.

This was a good kick in the ass that I needed to get moving toward the PhD. And today was a basic meet and greet.

The person that I was meeting with was a pretty dull individual. He didn’t seem excited or enthused about anything I assume that was just his personality. We went through the basic requirements and it turns out that I will finally be forced to take the GRE. I thought I might skate by it because I already have the Master’s but alas this was not the case.

The queerest thing about our discussion is when we came to the types of courses that I will be taking. In addition to the Grad level seminars he informed me that there is the strong possibility that I will be taking some 200 level classes as well rubbing elbows with the undergrads.

I already have a bachelor’s so I figured that I was done with 200 level classes. At the University of Toledo the lowest course I took was a 300 level class that I received special permission to take and was assigned much extra work to bring it up to the level of a graduate student.

THe program looks good, the campus is gorgeous, so once I’m done with my new publication I have a new goal and that is to finally finish my education.

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Sooo very tired

October 28, 2008 1 comment

Baby decided to be a jerk and keep her poor father up. I’m way too tired and exhausted to post anything coherent, thoughtful, or even moderately interesting so what i will do is pose a question:

Is being a pro-choice vegetarian kind of a contradiction?

Categories: personal update

Fear

October 25, 2008 1 comment

Yesterday on NPR, I listened to a round table discussion concerning the election. One woman said that she was afraid that if Obama won, then black people would see that it was finally time to get revenge on the white man. This is what scared her, I should mention that she prefaced her comment with the phrase, “I don’t want to sound racist, and I’m not racist but…”

Another person at the discussion said that it was more reasonable to have that fear if he lost, this was said by a black man. I’m of the opinion that both of these fears are unfounded. There is something that scares me though, something that reaches from the darkness and makes me shudder when I think of it. It’s an election fear, and it concerns an Obama win.

I fear that if Obama does win the election, I will have to endure four years of Republican/right wing bitching about how the election was stolen from them by (insert current McCain scapegoat here). We would have it if the Democratic party lost again but it won’t be as bad. I say that because the Democratic party hasn’t already started its line of excuses.

Personally I blame Sarah Palin for McCain’s fall. The election has been shining on three people: Obama, McCain, and Palin; but only two of those people are comfortable in the light. Sure the media has been harsh on Sarah Palin but there is a reason for it.

All of the sudden everyone knew who the governor of Alaska is, which is odd since most people have no idea what city is the capital (not Anchorage) and if they do probably spell it wrong (not J-u-n-o, that’s a movie). They wanted information, her numbers soared but they didn’t stay there: she’s an idiot. And the conservative conspiracy machine gets revved up blaming the liberal media for their/her loss (40% of voters have a “strongly unfavorable” view of her).

Yes they blame the Katie Couric interview because the interview, while done in one day was aired over the course of two days due to time constraints. Which is a standard practice in daily news magazine shows but somehow the right wing has a new problem with that. That problem is because she comes off as a moron, I’m sure that if she answered the questions coherently and came off as a legitimate vice presidential candidate then there would be no problem with the two day stretch.

The media however still can’t be blamed for Obama’s popularity. Are they cheering him on? Certainly, but that is because he is the kind of candidate that is energizing the populace. I find it difficult not to feel excited listening to his speeches and I’m about as cynical as they come. McCain isn’t just as energizing, and as he bars more and more reporters from travelling with his campaign he is only putting off an air of grumpiness.

The stupid things abound, the picture with his tongue out at the debate–which is a still frame that probably makes alot of sense when it’s played in context, or him saying “that one” which shows that he doesn’t like his opponent but that’s it. It’s not a racial slur at all. These things distract from the larger issue: McCain was not the right pick of the GOP, just as Kerry was the wrong pick for the Democrats in 2004. McCain was wrong because the base of the Republicans couldn’t be relied on to vote for him, so they had to pick Palin to energize the right wing Christian conservatives.

Recently I read an article (on paper or I would link it) that said the smarter choice for McCain would have been “Joystick” Joe Lieberman. The argument was that Lieberman would be able to pull voters too, but from that magic undecided center where, as an independent, he has more clout. I agree with this assumption, McCain/Lieberman ticket would have a significant advantage.

First off, despite all of their threats there is no way that the conservative right wing was going to vote for Obama. They either back McCain or they don’t vote. This may not help McCain but it doesn’t hurt. Ignoring a person who is not going to attack you isn’t the mistake that the Palin pick was supposed to prepare for.

Secondly, Lieberman had an ally in the angry Clintons. He could pull from their support.

Thirdly, the centrist appeal of both “The Maverick” and “Joystick Joe” is almost unassailable.

It’s not the media, it’s nothing but a bad series of choices. You must tell yourselves what you GOPers have been telling the Democrats for the last eight years.

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Categories: current events, politics

Seriously?

October 22, 2008 Leave a comment

Read this email and explain to me whether or not it is completely serious. I’ve sent it in to the experts (i.e. Snopes) but for all I can tell this email is completely earnest.

As I understand it Jim Bramlett received an email from the alleged Dr. Norman Marvin, who was so convinced he immediately decided that he was going to have a prayer meeting in his home. Marvin received the message from Flo Ellers who is a member of both the International Fellowhip of Ministries based in Washington State and an End Time Handmaiden based in Arkansas.

My favorite part of the email is the “weaving lazy 8’s around McCain’s mind to make him look confused and like an idiot.” I’m sure that John McCain doesn’t want your help, and if he does may the voodoo/tribal gods help us. Bramlett and his ilk are obviously delusional. No rational person could believe this and yet this is that religious base of small town America that is Palin’s “real America.”

One of the problems with this view of “real America” is the problem of isolation. You only see groups like “End Time Handmaidens” in the small rural and dare I say uneducated areas of the country. If this is the base of the Conservative Right Wing then it seems to me that that base is built out of exploitation of superstition. Satan isn’t stalking the Earth, and if he was isn’t that part of the end time chronology that ultra fundamentalist Christians write books about?

These so-called witches, voodoo practitioners, and warlocks; are worshipping false gods so how could their curses be effective? Which begs the question: if their powers are so effective at making McCain look confused and stupid then why don’t they just take direct control of the Country?

Christianity isn’t Manicheanism where spiritual warfare is being externally played. In fact, St. Augustine left that philosophy abandoning it for Christianity which he felt instilled a lot more personal responsibility in it’s followers. If McCain loses the election it’s not because of voodoo priests in Kenya, it’ll be because Obama received the electoral college votes necessary to be president.

To close here is a video of Sarah Palin receiving an exorcism:

Exorcism of Sarah Palin

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The Black Stars

October 21, 2008 Leave a comment

During one of our several pediatrician visits, Gwen’s doctor gave us a piece of paper with printed black shapes on it. I’m not being elusive, or purposefully obscure in describing writing; they were shapes. Some stars, a couple spirals, a chess board pattern on the one side; while on the other side the patterns were a little more complex. Triangles inside triangles, complex angles and such.

I suppose you all thought I was going to review an episode of Doctor Who or something.

We grabbed the sheet and asked the doctor what it was. She replied that it was something designed to keep babies interested while the parents do some cleaning (i.e. baby cleaning). In my many readings I have acquired a basic understanding of infant psychology. It’s pretty interesting because there really isn’t much psychology there. They are Locke’s tabula rasa a completely blank slate that is hit by information as it comes in…obviously I’m an empiricist.

The purpose of the shapes is to get her mind to develop. The body is lazy and the eye is drawn to white. For babies their gaze will naturally go to white space unless something grabs their attention. Since their eyesight is pretty much shit, their memory capability very low whatever is going to grab their attention has to be visually striking but simple enough that they can take it in. Hence the black and white patterns.

I should say this: Gwen doesn’t smile at me. She’s content enough to fall asleep on me, spit up on me, and generally make little noises and arm flailings when I hold her. I’ve seen her smile once when I was holding her it was like she suddenly remembered who i was and then quickly suppressed it. It might be because I refer to her as “the little monster” but I digress.

For the last week or so we have been putting her on the changing table and noticing that she turns her head toward the shapes. Her memory is beginning to form  which excites me. It’s her activities with the shapes that puzzles me and creeps out lux. Today I took a two minute video of her talking to the shapes (she obviously can’t speak but she makes enough noises), then she pauses as if waiting for an answer and continues to make little noises.

She has some new friends it would seem. I wonder what it is that the little monster is hearing from the black stars? I have a theory:

“Fthagn” (curious that word doesn’t come up wrong on my spell check).

It causes me much curiosity to view what exactly keeps her attention and what doesn’t. Despite her odd like of the show “Oz,” she screams during hockey games except when there’s a fight. She doesn’t like it when I play cartoon games on the XBOX (I downloaded a couple for her to watch) but when Call of Duty 4 is in she seems to be attentive. She can crawl now, slowly, but without assistance which I’m told is remarkable for someone barely over a month old. She keeps her butt down which is nice because then it won’t get shot off. There’s that and her new favorite chew toy, daddy’s nose and it’s starting to hurt a bit. I better get her back to the black stars.

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The Third Party Fallacy

October 21, 2008 1 comment

I take a lot of heat four and eight years ago because I voted third party. In both of those elections Bush won and somehow it was me and my ilk that was solely responsible for it. In both of those elections my ballot was cast for Ralph Nader. In 2000, I suppose it didn’t matter too much because I was voting in New York and Al Gore took New York’s electoral votes. Still, I contributed to that rare occasion in American history where the person that won the most votes lost the election.

In 2004 it gets a little different because I was voting in Ohio where Ralph wasn’t even on the ballot. I voted for Nader because I didn’t care for Bush and I couldn’t just vote for Kerry on the basis that he wasn’t Bush. That night, in 2004, I had a pool cue thrown at me by my friend Nabeel (probably spelling that name wrong). When Kerry capitulated in the morning I knew that I was in for a long four years of taking the blame again for Bush winning.

So the accusation goes like this (using the 2004 election as an example): voting for Nader siphoned off votes from Kerry which means that I might as well have voted for Bush directly. That’s the accusation that I have heard for several years now from family, friends, and students. Here is my refutation of this accusation:

Let’s say we have two people: Alice and Bill; who both want to borrow a dollar from me. In fact both of them are spending a good deal of time trying to convince me to give them that dollar. In stead of giving Alice the dollar I turn to a third person, Chris, and give him the dollar. Alice wanted the dollar, Bill wanted the dollar, and now Chris has the dollar. How exactly did giving the third person the dollar translate over to that dollar going to either Alice or Bill?

Answer: It didn’t. The dollar went to Chris, because that’s the person I fucking gave it to. It is going to burn Alice and Bill because they didn’t get it. However neither of them can claim they had the dollar, they can only complain that they didn’t get the dollar. The metaphor is obvious enough that I don’t feel that you need me to explain what I am getting at.

The left tries to caveat this by saying that the people who voted for Nader, would have voted for Kerry/Gore if the third choice wasn’t on the ballot. This assertion is fallacious because it assumes exactly what people felt and then thinks they would have behaved differently had the choices been different. Those, like myself, who voted third party in those elections didn’t like our choices. Removing the third choice from the ballot doesn’t make those two choices any better. In my case it soured me from the Democrats entirely.

Furthermore it makes another assertion that those people who were voting for Nader were going to vote for Kerry but for some reason or another didn’t. Why not assume that they were going to vote for Bush but then didn’t? Blaming third party candidates for the loss of your candidate is merely the reactionary thinking of weakness. Yes, your candidate in those elections was so bad that I voted for a person that had no chance. That’s the problem you need to fix.

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Vampires: a lesson in convenience

October 17, 2008 Leave a comment

In the original Max Payne video game, two soon to be dead thugs are talking behind a door. One of them remarks that he thought it was weird that vampire movies always take place in L.A. because it’s so sunny there. He asks the other thug why they don’t all move to Alaska where night sometimes lasts for several months. I didn’t hear the retort because I crashed through the door and shot them both.

It’s a good question. Why don’t they all move to the extreme South or North? It leads me to question modern incarnations of the Vampire monster. Take for instance the HBO program “True Blood.” The Vampires there are semi-typical. They possess an aversion to sunlight, need an invitation to enter into someone’s house, and need blood to survive, although the mechanic in the show is that there is now an artificial blood they can use.

That however seems to be it. They don’t shriek at the sight of crosses, seem to have a garlic allergy but it’s not deadly, nor are they shockingly pale. They haven’t done a mirror thing yet, but they can be photographed which was a unique invention of a BBC show called “Ultraviolet” (not the shitty movie) in which Vampire Hunters used video cameras to isolate humans from the undead.

It’s a decent idea for a story. The problem that I have been having with modern Vampire fiction is the issue of convenience. The Vampire as a creature must have certain traits: aversion to sunlight (which is ironic if you have ever read Bram Stoker’s book) and the need to feed on human blood. Those I would offer are the prime characteristics. Secondary characteristics usually include the aversion to religious iconography: crosses usually, the stake thing, the silver thing, and the garlic thing.

What I am getting sick of are books and stories calling something a Vampire when the only relationship it has is the blood need. My fiancee wanted me to read a book called “A Quick Bite” by Lynsay Sands which has the humorous premise of a Vampire who need help because she has a fear of blood. The book is pretty boring, the vampires are so extremely lame that calling them Vampire insults even fan fiction on the subject.

It seems lazy to me because any of the characteristics of the usual Vampire creature are tossed away when it becomes inconvenient for the characters to blend in with normal society. For instance they don’t need blood on a daily basis they need it to fuel that nanobots that actually give them their vampire status. They also behave like a normal family, with a matriarch. Which isn’t so odd except when you consider that after a few centuries feeling bad when you disobey mommy might get a bit old.

I understand that the book is meant to be humorous but the glib way in which the Vampires seem to be hiding from society and feeling guilty about the way in which they feed seems trite. Vampires themselves are difficult creatures to write because their weaknesses limit their activities and their ability to operate in secrecy. The task of any writer of Vampire fiction should find a way to work around these and not just throw them off. Technorati
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