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Vacation

June 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Saturday evening, or Sunday morning, my little family and I are going to take a week long camping trip in Alleghany State Park. One of the state funded institutions that the governor was set to shut down because of cost. Of course in the Winter this is true since they have little to no visitors, but in the Summer it actually adds to the revenue stream of the State. Attempting to take the little monkey on her first camping trip out to be an adventure in itself, as there will be plenty of rocks and bugs for her to eat.

I will be off of the writing for a week, but I will still try and hammer out one more Twilight post before I leave. Here’s the strange thing about the Twilight posts that I have learned from people via facebook. On average no one comments on them. The main site for the posts: http://reading-twilight.blogspot.com has one comment on it in the many months that I have been writing it. Most of the people that read it, probably read it through facebook by hitting “read more” underneath the opening few lines. Every couple posts or so, I get a comment from a family member that says something along the line of “you have too much time on your hands” or “you need a hobby.”

Which I find rather ironic since those messages are usually buried underneath thirty updates an hour about their “farmville,” “cafe world,” AND “mafia world” requests for friends/loot or whatever it is that people need in those games. Concerning the latter is odd because writing these posts obviously IS my hobby. It’s like certain people are scared of writing, or reading, or something…I wish I could understand what the problem is that prompts those types of posts. Not that there really is any chance that those types of comments are going to get me to stop writing. That’s just crazy talk.

Back to the camping…we’ve got our supplies cataloged and the clothing ready. As well as the entertainment. There is some confusion about the concept of the purpose of camping and how we go about doing so in regard to conveniences from the modern age. With Gwendolyn, we obviously can’t go completely 9th century, bringing only a large knife, some flint, and insulation from the elements. The question remains as to how modern can we bring things without losing the appeal of living in cabin in the forest for a week?

We may want to bring music, so the choice becomes: do we bring the cd player and the large binder of cds (500 or so) which takes up considerable space and weight or do we bring the laptop with a good deal of music on it which takes up less space and weight but brings with it a whole slew of problems regarding the invasion of technology (I should note that cell phone and internet access will be void so those aren’t issues in this case). We don’t want to sit around staring at the computer for several hours each day but is that different from bringing books?

I’m bringing three books; “On Divination,” “Candide,” and “The History of the Peloponnesian War.” All of great interest to me for which, if left alone, I could spend all day reading them. I understand not wanting to be reliant on the electric screen for distraction but the paper screen in token is not really that different. In either case, we shall not have the time since chasing Gwen is a full time job.

Aside from tomorrow’s Twilight Post, we shall see you next week.

Categories: daily observations

Taxes (a rant)

June 22, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m not a tea party member (I still don’t know if that’s correct), in fact I hold mostly opposite to their credo of “me first everyone else second” but I do know when taxes are getting a bit out of control. New York, the land of taxes and fees (how exactly can they justify a usage fee for my vehicle registration?) has decided once again that it’s time to try and tax the Indian Reservations. It’s as predictable as evolution (not what comes out of it but that it will happen).

Usually it takes a bit longer for a governor to make this attempt since they realize after the first time that it simply can’t work. When I was in High School then governor Pataki, made the attempt to collect taxes on the sale of gasoline and tobacco products by the various tribes to non-residents of the reservations. This did not have the desired effect, in fact it spiraled so out of control that the Seneca Nation shut down part of the I-90 with road blocks. When the state sent in the Troopers to instill order they were severely outnumbered and withdrew while giving the Seneca nation a couple of free Trooper cars and hats. There were also plans to use bulldozers to demolish the stretch of the thruway but the governor rescinded the plan before that option was exercised.

Then we had governor Spitzer who tried to do the same thing. This time, Spitzer was more accommodating and relented before the bedlam started. After his inglorious relinquishing of his position we had current governor Patterson try this a couple of years ago.

Patterson, for his faults, has really been having a difficult time in his position. Spitzer, was moderately popular for a governor, and although many people were calling for his head after the prostitution bust he would have been the best person for the job during the financial collapse. Patrolling Wall St. was how he made his name in this state to begin with. Patterson, inherited a shit storm in this state that only Theodore Roosevelt’s tenure could compare too. The only difference is that Patterson has been fighting the deficit since he started and had to compete with an insurrection by the State Senate that really compares itself to the last days of the Byzantine Empire in its complexity.

The money is running out of the state. In response Patterson has tried to cut everything he could while raising every tax he could and eliminating some antiquated laws that have withheld money from the state. However like the Tea Party who wants lower taxes and a reduced budget, most of people of the state also won’t abide cuts to the budget revealing a very despicable aspect of the American People. They like what they are getting but want someone else to pay for it and no one else to have it.

Patterson was shot down on his previous attempt to tax the reservation, it didn’t even make it out of the idea phase but now it comes again. It comes with another lifting of the tax on cigarettes, making a pack of cigarettes around ten bucks, the second time in two years it has been raised along with a law to tax the reservation.

If the state wants to raise money by taxing non-necessities, I don’t have a legal issue with that. That is within their right as the government, however it is not within their rate to tax the reservations as that situation is federal, defined by treaty. I’ve said this before, it takes an act of Congress to break a treaty, New York simply does not have the power to do so.

If the unelected lame duck governor wants to tax tobacco outside of the price range of the majority of users (this really hurts the poor more than anyone else) he can. What he shouldn’t do is pretend that this is in the interest of public health. He’s exploiting an addiction, no matter which way you cut it. If he really wanted to do something in the interest of public health he would ban the sale of them in the state, but that causes too great of a loss in tax revenue which is what this is all about anyway.

Why not shave down Thruway construction, raise the gasoline tax, initiate the tax on soft drinks (all for the public health as well), instead of trying to break a treaty between a sovereign nation and the federal government. Since Patterson is not running for re-election I get that he is free from public approval but not from breaking the law.

Categories: current events, politics, rant

Experience (The Twilight Walkthrough Pg. 241-246)

June 21, 2010 Leave a comment

While I sometimes flip-flop my opinion of Bella, I never do toward Edward. While Bella has some excuses for her self-pitying narcissism (the unstable mother, her chronic depression) Edward has no such excuses. He comes from a stable family, as far as we can tell, and exudes self-confidence. So the way he treats other people is despicable because he is choosing to do this, even worse, given his advanced age and experience he ought to know better. Especially if he’s the good kind of vampire that Bella discovered on the internet. How is he supposed to be protecting humans when he views them as lacking any intrinsic self-worth?

One might excuse him for this view as he is a Vampire and not a person. Humans are simply not his equal. I can at least buy that to some extent but it changes the way that we must view Edward and the Cullens for the rest of the series. If they are to protect us from the evil vampires they must view us as a weaker and inferior species. In doing so, Edward takes the view of Achilles in the Iliad: a man-god hybrid who knows that he has more virtĂș than all of the warriors on either side of the Trojan war. A being that sits out of the war, almost causing his side to lose merely for spite. When he begins his fighting he fights like a pure blood god, single handedly changing the tide of the war.

However, that is Achilles, son of the goddess Thetis who has war as his single purpose in all of life. In this way he fulfills the Greek concept of “Goodness” and everything that he does must be viewed in that teleological sense. Our problem is that Edward is not Achilles, we don’t know what Edward’s purpose in life is, why he’s in high school, and worst of all why he’s behaving like someone at least eight decades younger than he. Without that purpose, we can’t give him the excuse that we can give Achilles (or even Helen for that matter) and he comes across as an older man who is manipulating a teenage girl.

A girl, that allows it to happen because she’s beaten her own sense of virtĂș so low that she probably places as a vicious person in Aristotle’s ethics. All because she views Edward as being so much greater than she, “I couldn’t imagine how an angel could be any more glorious” she muses to herself while staring at him.

The troubling aspect is that it is so far, only his looks that are attractive to any objective viewer of their relationship. Bella pines over and over about his appearance, but we never know what it is about his personality that she finds so desirable. Which leads me to think that there isn’t anything there and she is only in it for the booty. It really can’t be anything else.

For instance two days ago it was her turn to ask all of the questions, yesterday it was his turn. So now we should probably assume that it is going to be her turn again, “Nope,’ he grinned, ‘today is still mine.”

This relationship is so far from being symbiotic she might as well be a fantasy of his. Which, I know is getting rather trite of me to say at this point, is a good mark of a sociopath. If she had any protest about it actually being her turn she knows better than to voice it because everyone knows that he isn’t going to listen to her. Maybe that’s because of his experience though…he’s been around the block enough times that he thinks high-schoolers literally have nothing of any importance to add to anything. For him, they simply don’t count, and if that’s the case why is he there?

So far, today, he’s been alright but as they talk about the weekend. Disposing of whether or not Charlie is going to be around he asks a question, “And if you don’t come home, what will he think?”

Alright, I keep saying sociopath and here’s evidence that even fans of the series can’t argue against (if you’re reading this go ahead and try). They are making their plans for their weekend date and the above quote is him wondering what her father will do if he fucking kills her and her body is never found. This it the type of person that you don’t get in the car with, the type of person that probably killed Natalee Holloway, the type of warning from an individual that is predisposed to thinking these thoughts is one step closer to doing it then every other person.

Her response? She just makes excuses. Being so smitten with his angelic looks that she reminds herself that it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter that he just told her she could die on Saturday. Then again, why should it? This isn’t the first time he’s done it.

In one way I kind of get it, the bad boy shtick works on women. Funny and nice doesn’t, especially in high school but at what point would even a naive high school girl realize that someone is crossing the line?

“His anger was much more impressive than mine.” Is it even worth continuing on at this point? Even his anger is impressive?

Getting past all of that we are still in the lunchroom and finally Bella notices that Edward’s family is also in the room with them. They disapprove of their relationship, and I think that it is fairly obvious why this is so. It’s actually the smartest move the Cullens have made toward anonymity so far in the book. I mean it’s clearly against heir usual attempts of inconspicuousness like driving expensive sports cars, wearing designer clothes, and never interacting with anyone else. When Bella sees them, “I peeked quickly behind me at his family. They sat staring off in different directions.”

I also picture them whistling in the air and twirling their hands on the table. Clearly they were just busted spying on their conversation. It’s a complete non-sequitor only written to remind us that there will be a coming conflict. Look, this isn’t an Elizabethan tragedy about gang warfare written by Shakespeare, so we don’t don’t need to be reminded that there are “two houses.” There isn’t, Charlie doesn’t know what is going on and it’s still doubtful if he would disapprove. Edward knows this, he’s probably using it to hook her even further. Not only is he the dangerous type, but even his family doesn’t approve of him dating her.

When we finally meet one of his sisters, Alice it gets odd. Alice, the one that doesn’t dislike the relationship comes over to grab Edward so he can snack up before the date, but unlike everyone else in the book (save Mike) she’s cordial and says, “It’s nice to meet you Bella.”

Which is normal. Alice’s politeness and ability to act like a decent person earns her a dark glance from Edward. Obviously there are illusions that must be held up here we can’t have the bad boy tolerating such decency in front of his woman.

The Little Engine that Sucks

June 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Anyone confused after reading yesterday’s post should rest easy, it was a book review of a kid’s book that someone gave little Gwen before she was born, or just after I don’t really keep track of all of that. It’s called “Bon Bon on the Go Go” and is full of bright pretty pictures of the aforementioned ultra-hip Bon Bon.

Before Gwen was born people just started unloading baby stuff on us. The more they gave the less we had to buy so it was good. When the books came in, I did what any normal person would do, I went through all of the kids books to see which ones I had as a kid and which ones were completely new. I think we all share the same bias when it comes to kid’s books, television, toys, and games: the ones that we had when we were younger had achieved the fulcrum of balance between fun, education, and brand. Everything now sucks, everything prior to our birth was practice for the stuff we remember so fondly as children (think if the Star Wars movies now versus then, they all contain horrible acting [with some rare exception] and terrible writing).

Most of the newly published books are tolerable. They focus more on engaging the baby with bright colors and textures. The classics are classics from my childhood. My thinking on the new books is that they are written by people who have either A) never had kids or B) hate themselves; being forced over and over again to read these things is a hell that not even Renaissance poets could have dreamed up.

Back to the classics, one of them was titled, “The Little Engine that Could.” I remember this story from my own childhood so when Gwen waddled over with it in her hand saying “bookie bookie,” then placing her hand around mine and opening it saying, “read it.” I shrugged and said, “ok” all the while thinking that at least it isn’t that Bon Bon book again. Then I began to read it wherein I realized that the previous generation has screwed us over once again (the previous problems being the middle east, oil, the environment, and the economy) because The Little Engine That Could reminds me of that church group that was editing all of the “R” out of rated “R” movies so that real true Christians would be able to stay relevant among the pop culture without actually having to deal with the sex and violence that made those movies what they are.

The story I was always read about the Little Engine and whether or not he “could” was important because it contained the element of suspense. Briefly summarizing: there was a little engine and there was a large load that he needed to carry over a mountain. At some point, the little engine was unsure and became stuck. But he reminded himself that, yes he was a train, it was his job to do the exact thing that he was doing, and that he could do the job. Whereupon he does the job and carries the load over the mountain. On the way down from the mountain, he tells himself that all along he knew he could. Which is kind of a lie because like Protagoras there was always that doubt, but it doesn’t really matter because what almost undid the engine was not trying. He was going to give up until he buckled down and gave it a whirl.

This new version is sanitized. Re-reading the story it’s like some asshole just tore out the important part of the book, the whole doubting phase which is the crux of story. Without that story ontologically the title makes no sense. It’s not “The Little Engine that Could” it’s more of “The Little Engine Went From A to B.” Literally the story is that the engine picks up his load and then drives it over a steep mountain.

That’s it. No struggle, no stalling, just up one side and over the next. Action wise the two stories are the same in this respect, but it’s that psychological aspect that makes one version of the book a nice life lesson and the other a stupid trite observation of the functioning of trains. I understand sanitizing some of the racism from books from the 20s but taking the life out of these books isn’t doing anyone any good.

Bon-Bon

June 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Are you so Mod you’re Ultra-mod? Is the bowl cut you are sporting just cute enough to be ironic but not ironic enough to be hip? Are you so modern you are Post-Modern?

Follow Bon-Bon as she makes her way through the tubes of Paris on an Italian Vespa dresssed in a British 60s Pop dress. High fashion is not about being seen and being in the crowd it’s about being above the crowd dancing hands eternally pointed downward in a club with the name “Ice,” “Vodka,” or simply “Studio” to the song that is playing on your iPod Nano while the DJ plays the contradictorily named “house music” with sincerity.

Watch Bon Bon interact with the people of Paris with a look on her face that says simply, “hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both…” If you tell Bon Bon that she quotes Kierkegaard to often she will roll her eyes, too hip to tell you that she doesn’t know who he is but not trendy enough that this is the truth.

She shoots events in black and white 8mm film because digital looks fake. She shoots the world to say that “I too could make a film (Bon Bon never uses the word “movie”) but I choose not to do so.”

Bon Bon only goes to the Museums of Modern Art because the classics are “so-played.” There she sucks on grape lollipops and follows 3rd graders on field trips. She uses phrases like “progress toward purity” and “use of negative space.” Bon Bon has seen Andy Warhol’s “****” in it’s entirety and thought that it was “disengaging.”

Bon Bon finds that identity is socially constructed.

Bon Bon is on the Go Go

Categories: book reviews, reviews

Daddy Issues (The Twilight Walkthrough Pg. 235-241)

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment

The Blacks have arrived at Bella’s door. This is just a friendly visit, an attempt to reunite Charlie Swan with Billie Black after the fight that was apparently much bigger then we were told. To recap the situation*, since it involves extrapolating the story from the report we were given, is that the Blacks are from the reservation and ever since the Dr. Cullen took residency at the hospital they have refused to get medical treatment. We know why Mr. Black has refused to let his family go to the hospital but what we don’t know is what he told Charlie.

Charlie if we remember stood up for the Cullens, and in particular Dr. Cullen, in the beginning of the book. Saying that they were decent people being shunned and gossiped about by xenophobic small town residents. The fact that the Blacks no longer go to the hospital because of him is what caused the fight. The problem for me is what Billy told Charlie. Jacob informed us that the whole legend surrounding the Cullens and the ancient Quileutes is supposed to be a secret not to be shared with the pale faces. Billy can’t just tell the Sheriff, “Oh we’re not going to the hospital anymore because the chief of medicine is a blood drinking vampire;” there has to be another reason he has given them.

What reason could he possible have given them. It’s clear that the Blacks used to go to the Hospital or else this wouldn’t be the type of conflict that would separate two people that were friends. They just abruptly stopped. The Sheriff obviously cares about the Blacks and doesn’t want to see them get into any trouble so Billy has to give him something. He could claim they joined one of those churches like the Followers of Christ in nearby Oregon which forbids medical treatment in lieu of faith healing** or something. Perhaps that was what the fight was about, that Billy wouldn’t spill the beans. Either way the Blacks are back.

Bella is afraid she’s going to be busted by Billy for dating Edward which she mysteriously thinks that her father shouldn’t know about. Which brings us, yet again, to the why this is the case. Not only does Charlie respect Dr. Cullen, he’s even risked the relationship with his best friend in Forks over him. Why the hell does she think she needs to keep the relationship a secret?

Well I have my theory, and it abounds with the familiarity that Bella expresses toward her father. Now being the child of divorced parents one might assume that Bella expresses the same familiarity with her mother that she does with her father. This however isn’t proven by the book we’ve read through so far. When Bella emails her mom after just moving to Forks she refers to her as “mom” even though she worries about her mother as though the authoritative situation was reversed her mom is still her mom. She doesn’t talk down to her nor does she ever really belittle her despite the fact that we’ve been told that she actually has problems.

On the other hand her father isn’t treated with the same respect. Almost exclusively she takes calls him by his name, and constantly dotes on him about dinner and shopping. This is all in spite of the fact that for many years he’s lived in Forks by himself without her and has managed to not starve to death. I’ve known people that have called their parents by their first name but it was done under certain circumstances one of which was when the one parent was not the biological parent. When Bella refers to her mom’s boyfriend as Phil it is understandable. The other circumstance is when the person is being defiant, calling a parent by their name is a way of attempting to level the playing field when words are being used.

In neither case is Bella doing this with her father. When Billy and Jacob enter the house Bella is afraid of Billy’s glance. Looking for an excuse to leave the room she asks the Blacks if they want some food when they refuse, “How about you Charlie’ I called over my shoulder as I fled around the corner.”

She then spends most of her time talking to Jacob about the Cullens while making her father dinner, it’s also unclear as to whether or not Bella eats herself, but that’s beside the point. I bring it all up because Bella doesn’t act like Charlie is her father, instead like his subordinate 1950s wife. She tries to be there for the homemaking and to act like that is all she ever aspires to. She hides ever facet of her life outside the house from him, she makes his meals, does the shopping, and when he has friends over she busies herself in the kitchen. She places herself in the situation of being his equal and taking care of him.

It isn’t until page 240 in the book that we first hear her address Charlie Swan as her father, “Dad!’ I groaned.” This is in response to his suggestion that she ask Mike to the dance. It gets repeated twice, which leads me to think that the author herself became suddenly conscious of the burgeoning Electra Complex.*** The two are living as a happy couple until the exact point where the topic of romantic love is brought in, and suddenly everything is snapped back into reality the way things ought to be…for a little bit anyway.

The Blacks have left by then, the game over and plans made for a weekend fishing trip, Charlie is for some reason gripped by an odd wave of emotion regarding his seemingly ignoring of his teenage daughter (which I am told is something that they want once in awhile). It’s a good scene only because it forces her back into the daughter role and out of the creepy pseudo-wife role, I should note that this completely on her end and he never reciprocates this relationship.

After worrying about her she tries to allay his fears, “Dad, you’re doing a great job”

It’s cute, because I’m sure after many years of living by himself he’s worried that he can’t raise his daughter full time. Having her for the summers all the previous years was just like long vacations for the two of them. The worry is nice but since this is Twilight we have to get back into creepy relationship mode, “I’ve never minded being alone–I’m too much like you.’ I winked at him, and he smiled his crinkly eyed smile.”

She winks at him like Sarah Palin to a crowd of Tea Party (People, Members, Partiers?) and she smiles back at him. The smile, that she used to justify why her mother fell in love with her father right out of high school. The difference between knowing that someone can be found attractive by someone else and actually finding them attractive is quite blurred here. While it should be the easiest relationship to write (since it is completely secondary to the story it can be pretty much left to the reader’s imagination) it’s made difficult by the unneeded controversies that Meyer puts in.

My problem with this section (other than rehashing long dead Freudian/Jungian psychology) is that it is entirely pointless. The drama of Billy Black possibly seeing Bella and Edward together comes to nothing more than a slight warning that Black gives to Bella, “You take care, Bella,’ he added seriously.” The banter between Jacob and Bella is only interesting because Bella expresses some very slight remorse over having manipulated him at the beach, but not because of his feelings rather how she would have to deal with it. The only thing we get out of the whole section is a revealing look into the odd and creepy relationship between Bella and her father.

________________________________
*For now we are leaving out all references to Vampires and Werewolves, surprisingly it doesn’t really matter right here.

**Which also caused the state of Oregon in 1999 to pass a special law due to the number of child deaths in which standard medical treatment, like a penicillin would have saved the life of Ava Worthington.

***Think “Oedipus Complex” only with the genders reversed. This term was rejected by Freud but endorsed by Carl Jung.

Is It Too Much To Ask?

June 12, 2010 Leave a comment

On some previous occasions I have commented on the “Vaccine Conspiracy.” The idea, most advocated by a playboy bunny and followed by those with a tenuous grasp on reality, that the vaccines we received in childhood (that we all received) were somehow responsible for autism. An idea proposed by former doctor Andrew Wakefield (as he is no longer legally permitted to practice medicine in the UK) in the medical journal Lancet which has since revoked the article with prejudice offering an apology for its publication.

Like all conspiracy theories this one existed because of a vacuum. Unlike most theories, and to this theory’s credit, the vacuum wasn’t made up. The whole JFK Assassination theory rests on the idea that since we don’t know who killed the president it must have been a conspiracy, which is pretty dumb when you consider that we do know who in fact killed him. This theory was based on the idea that since we don’t know what causes autism something must in fact do so. Then it was postulated that it must be vaccinations that children receive since only, what, children get autism? I guess Rainman was lying to me the whole time.

Having already received the sifling blows that involve having your movement led by Jenny McCarthy and the only doctor to have ever gone on record supporting the view not only having that view forcefully retracted but also losing his medical license in his home country there was only one more piece of the puzzle that needed to be annihilated before we could put this one to bed, the cause of Autism.

The most commonly attributed cause of the disease has always been genetic, although that has never been proven. Behind it, has always been environmental factors which are myriad but within that umbrella has been vaccinations. I’m not saying that if you believe that Autism was caused by environmental factors you are some kind of idiot, only if you believed that it was vaccines despite the evidence that it was not…well then you are an idiot (and I actually got a doctor to admit that you are an idiot too).

Now it’s time to begin putting that last piece to bed it seems, and this isn’t new news but now that it has been confirmed by a couple of different sources we can begin to move it beyond the hypothesis stage, that certain genetic mutations look to be responsible for the cause of autism. Children with the condition are possess certain genes that are statistically less prevalent in children without autism. For instance the homozygous 677tt allele showed itself in 23% of children with autism and only 11% of the control group. The 677ct allele showed up in 56% while only showing itself in the significantly lower 41% of the control.

As I said in the beginning, I’m not a geneticist, a pediatrician, or a psychologist. I have not read the DSM IV in its entirety and can only really diagnose certain boo-boos that afflict my daughter. Having read the article I know two things: that there is a likelihood that it is genetics that cause autism which will now be better researched and come to the conclusion that it is the cause or isn’t. Which is much better that the vaccination idea which rests on “I believe” and “I feel” as proof. The second is that Jenny McCarthy, if she was a decent human being, should get ready to begin apologizing to all of those idiots who listened to her and refused to get their kids immunized. Maybe she should even begin paying out for the ones that died.

Categories: expose, science