Today's topic will be civil liberties in times of national duress. At present, a lot of people in my 'sphere of influence' seem to be feeling a little repressed by our government vis-a-vis the various and sundry laws enacted under the guise of national security. Lately it seems like this invasion of privacy (See Bill of Rights Amendment V) and undue collection of information (ibid, Amendment IV) is becoming one enormous scare tactic. If you were an (to lampoon The Onion and quote Rick Steves) "unsavory element" named G. Had, intent on committing heinous crimes against humanity, would you even blink at the warning on the back of a credit card application stating that your information was being collected? Uh, no? Seriously people, we're talking about criminal masterminds, not 7th graders. So let's call a spade a spade and let people return to their pre-Patriot Act existence and hope that, behind the scenes, things get taken care of.
"It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."
-- Hermann Goering, Nazi Reichsmarshall and Luftwaffe-Chief, during the Nuremberg trials
posted at 11:22 AM - comments
Monday, November 29, 2004
I have a variety of malaise to report today. My sinus region remains somewhat jammed with mucus that I can only assume is a close relative to hydraulic cement, I seem to have developed a canker sore on my uvula (just to be clear that is the little thing hanging from the roof of your mouth), and I have terminal ADD. The first two may be contributing to the last one, but regardless today has been somewhere just this side of fruitful.
There's some happiness in my world that stems from Wal-Mart. It would seem that the biggest big box had a slow Black Friday, and pundits say that a recovery could be bad for Sam & Co. Robin and I were talking about the Walton's collective inability to spread the fruits of their father's labor ($750m out of $100bn last year or 0.75%, compared with Gates' off year of $1.18bn out of $46.6bn or 2.5%) and how the company continues to desecrate hill and dale to further their evil empire. Perhaps those ancients unearthed in Mexico so that passers-by on the freeway could see the blue marquee are coming back? I'm not really prone to superstition, but I hope it is true. With that, I direct ye to www.walmartsucks.com.
posted at 1:49 PM - comments
Sunday, November 28, 2004
'Tis the Sunday after T-givins and I can't even believe it. Somehow there was time for a holiday, complete with two turkey dinners (including three poor turkeys, one of whom was deep fried and dee-licious), pies, cranberry sauce, lasagna, and a poppyseed birthday cake that can only be described as 'towering.'
The snow flew on Wednesday, dragging the trip from A2 to Escanaba out to nearly 10 hours. With Robin's expert driving and the Michelins' grip we made it unscathed, and I was even able to work quietly on my laptop in the backseat as we slogged northward. Thanksgiving day started with waffles and mini-birthday at home, then I headed around the smaller of the Bays de Noc for celebration with Jenelle and co, while the fam headed east to kick off the celebration in Central Time. After Dinner Round 1, I set off eastward to join them, see the rest of the gathered extended family, and partake in Dinner Round 2. Friday Jenelle came over to meet everybody, Scott may have gotten a deer (wink), the Bruno and Irish cousins played the world's coldest and most enthusiastic game of croquet, all went on a walk around Mud Lake, and we had another birthday celebration to round out the UP portion of the weekend.
posted at 4:04 PM - comments
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
A perfectly wet and rainy late-autmnal Wednesday, this. Kicked things off with a breakfast at Angelos - had an omelette and the hot-buttered toast with a tall glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Turns out Dick Siegel was right. After breakfast it was off to have a day: 562 group meeting, two hours of the big Greek (who was in rare form), a brief lull to eat leftover cajun beans and rice, do some work, meet with Lamb, and then have another two hours class. Having the week end with a two hour class that wraps up at 5pm is a wicked googely, but from there it's west then north towards the UP.
I'll hold audience and entertain congratulatory phone calls in the James after 7 PM.
Mwaaaaah! Happy T-givins.
posted at 1:43 PM - comments
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
It's called backing into the grand-daddy of them all, but no matter how you slice it Michigan is sending their varsity tackle football squad to the Rose Bowl. To read the Daily and hear the talk shows around here you'd think we were in Happy Valley cheering for Penn State. Personally, I think it's pretty good to be headed to a second straight Rose Bowl, and my thinking is that the folks down in Iowa City would love to be in our shoes so we should think back to September when we pummeled the Hawks and remember that we earned the trip.
Brawls and violence seem to dominate the news this weekend, but Robin and I were predominantly interested in the goings-on down at Yost Ice Arena as U-M tangled with MSU. The blue emerged with a 5-4 victory after a game that got off to such a frenzied start that the last period was a snooze as players ran out of gas.
Myriad things to get done this short week, but it'll just never happen and I'm going to be the one at T-givens dinner with my turkey in one hand and "The Machine That Changed the World" or my laptop in the other. Bummmmmer. (On the upside, it looks like it will snow.)
posted at 10:52 AM - comments
Friday, November 19, 2004
The Grand-daddy of them all is on the line (asterisk) tomorrow, as are in-state CCHA bragging rights. If Michigan can prevail over the State universities of Ohio and Michigan, Robin and I will have a great Saturday. She's coming down to watch the telecast of the Big Game and afterwards we're headed to Yost for Michigan-Michigan State in ice hockey action.
I haven't forgotten to blog in quite some time; yesterday can be chalked up to that column. It just seems to be getting busier and busier around here, although sometimes that doesn't lead to more interesting entries.
My deep thought for today is that the Red Bucket Army is getting soft. Today I was at Kroger - the subject of a future tirade, undoubtedly - and the shaker of the bell had moved indoors. INDOORS! In Escanaba the Salvation soldiers camped outside of Super One Foods and Elmer's Total Disco, in much colder weather than the relatively balmy 46F temps in Ann Arbor.
posted at 9:41 PM - comments
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Bizarre-oh day of random events 'round here. Wednesday kicked off, officially, with Graduate Student Forum doings at Rackham that started at high noon with some delicious Indian (dot not feather) food and a few interesting presentations that really didn't have much to do with me. Then, on my way back to NAME I stumbled upon a blood drive in Pierpont Commons, so I stopped to give a pint and, more importantly, an hour. Then it was a team meeting for NA 562...it's starting to feel like my team is coming together, and just in the nick of time. Two hours of class, a team meeting, a walk home due to the day's logistics, a quick dinner, and I'm back at it.
posted at 8:29 PM - comments
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
The biggest news this week seems to be the mass exodus from P Bush's cabinet. Strange. I read recently that Canada's immigration website has seen a 600% increase in hits; I wonder if Mssrs. Ashcroft, Powell, Ridge, Abraham, Paige and Ms. Venemen were among the deluge? Regardless, Condoleezza Rice's appointment as Secretary of State is interesting in that by all estimations she is totally capable and will do a great job, but she's still a black woman. In this society that seems stuck in the 1950s mindset of government as a mouthpiece for morality, discrimination, and stereotyping, I find it tremendous that we can at least move forward a baby step and a half and give Ms. Rice the position. Now we need to take what we've learned here and apply it a little more unilaterally, possibly including ex-NJ Governor James McGreevey?
posted at 1:47 PM - comments
Monday, November 15, 2004
It's late in the autumn, but the sun shines down relentlessly in Michigan, especially on the Maize and Blue. The Michigan Stadium season wound down on Saturday under another batch of perfect football weather in front of another batch of 111,347 fans; the Wolverines ran the table at home with a pretty nonchalant trouncing of Northwestern. Stevie Breaston finally came alive again after the bye week to keep it exciting, and Lloyd Carr rediscovered Michael Hart in the second half to keep the fans from booing. The real football news came from East Lansing, under the (partial) lights at Spartan Stadium, where the oft-maligned State team conducted a very chalant and thorough trouncing of Wisconsin. Fight! Fight! Rah, team Fight! was the chant most heard throughout the state this weekend.
Today I have a couple of A/V treats. The first is a video of the attendance announcement from Saturday...confirming the record annual attendance at Michigan Stadium. (Beware, this is a 1.1MB download!) bighouse.wmv.
The second is a much-requested picture of Sir Oliver the Buff. Here it is. As an aside, I can't believe that I have been reduced to posting a picture of a kitten. Boy did I ever not see that one coming.
Fridays are my favorite. Minimum urgency, short to-do list, and sporting events looming large. The Big House season winds down tomorrow, with a 12:10 kickoff against Big Ten sleeper Northwestern. I'm just praying for the game to be not-an-upset.
Skated at Yost again today and it was way busier, but not as busy as in the photo below. If there are going to be 50 people on the rink every Friday I might have to reconsider this whole gig. That being said, I felt a little more natural on the S-Tacks and really needed the excersize. Now, though, I need blade sharpening and at least one new lace. It really and truly is always something.
So in a rare state of high school nastalgia, I googled some of my classmates and found something that bares a resemblance to this little blue pill: N-A-T-E D-O-double-G's Call Me Hoss. It's weird to find the blogspot of somebody and suddenly have a clean peek into their lives, right now.
Thursday started well enough, but class was the end of that; my learning was kicked off with a 15-minute temper tantrum thrown by the big Greek re: the midterm. My thoughts are thus: if you don't think we have any common sense or even the most basic knowledge on the subject, why don't you teach us in a meaningful, positive way? Berating half the class for being stupid might not really benefit anybody, and I think the fact that we're in graduate school in the first place is a preliminary indication that we're here to learn. The upside is that I know I'm not taking 582 in the spring - one term is good 'n plenty.
Last night I caught up with people to the south who are in the midst of wedding planning and getting their new house in order and had a great fall trip to Tobermory. All of us commented that it'd be nice to be able to get together Friday night at The Old Salty Dog.posted at 1:47 PM - comments
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
It's the middle of week, officially, but lately that seems to have little bearing on the momentum contained in one of my weeks. With the coming and going of a rather pleasant NA580 exam, the parts of my week that loomed large are done looming. Now it's on to fun stuff, or at the very least, stressless stuff like ice skating and simple IOE homeworks and projects and research. There're a multitude of lunchtime presentations and things going on in the department, too; this evening was the mid-semester review of academic issues. It reminded me of the glory days with Dean Compton and a classroom of upset Webbies, except that the undergrads here seemed less realistic and nobody really knew what the other was going through. Winston Churchill said "if you're going through hell, keep going" but I'd like to modify that slightly and say that "if you're going through hell, bring friends." As Douggie F pointed out in the autumn of 2002, the longer we're away from the Institute the shorter (and more worthwhile) our time there seems.
posted at 8:00 PM - comments
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Much to my chagrin it is, apparently, time for my yearly headcold. My energy level had been dwindling all weekend and by the time Monday had wound down, I was in trouble. Woke up this morning with a head full of junk and no voice; trucked off to class and realized that this thing would snowball if steps weren't taken, so I hopped over to Rite Aid and picked up some medicine, which I proceeded to pound in short order. Sudafed and Robitussin DF will upset your stomach like nothing else but man do they ever work. I just popped round two, so wish me luck.
Other than that, I did the CPC thing, the class thing, and the study-like-crazy-for-tomorrow's-midterm thing.
posted at 6:26 PM - comments
Monday, November 08, 2004
One of the few weekends I have had recently that has been pretty much devoid of pre-planned activity. Notice I didn't say totally devoid....
Friday it was up and at em' early, out the door on my way to Lansing to help Jenelle pick out a kitten. Yes yes. We headed out to the Capital Area Humane Society, she filled some paperwork, and then a nice young lady took us into the kitten room. Holy man. There were definitely a plethora of cute, baby cats in there, but it really didn't take long at all to pick a very light orange tabby who was a little less screwy with excitement than the others and who seemed to rather enjoy pawing around in the litter box. So, Jenelle filled out some forms and left a check and out the door we went, carrying two pounds of pretty silent kitten who is now known as Oliver. Pictures soon....
The rest of the weekend was very much a blur; dinner and kitty show-and-tell with Robin at Jenelle's on Friday, lazy old day full of playing with Ollie and a trip to the mall on Saturday, work on Sunday, and a couple of movies.
One of the movies was actually kind of a highlight..."Supersize Me" was good. I'm pro-health / anti-obesity in the sense that I think people out to exersize more and eat nasty food less, so this thing was right up my alley. Plus, gross enough to guarantee at least a couple days worth of healthy eating.
posted at 9:08 PM - comments
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Wireless is cool - I have a few minutes before IOE441 starts, so I parked it on a bench outside the lecture hall and flipped on my trusty nx9110, hit a little blue button, and BAM I am in the know. For example, I know that Prof. Spicer has jury duty and will be out (email), I know that the lecture notes are up (CAEN network), I know I paid bills (internet), and I know I passed on the chance to IM some friends. Webbies are spoiled because the wireless coverage permeates every room and you hardly need it; resources are plentiful and close at hand. Here, though, resources are limited and are often tough to access and the wireless network helps bridge that gap. I've heard of (and seen the tower for) the broadband wireless available from the city of Gladstone, and I think it's brilliant. Internet access is, by every estimation, a utility that is becoming increasingly important to our daily lives and it is cool to see a town that size stepping up to face the future.
posted at 2:53 PM - comments
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
I'm just going to need a minute to clear my head and simmer down regarding the election, so no comments there. Other than that, plans jelled somewhat for New Year's travel to the east coast, my crazy-busy week wound down, and I had to scrape the Jimmy's windshield for the first time this morning. Not a big deal, except that I couldn't find a scraper in my go-kit, so out came the long-haired Webb ID that I carry for just such occasions...windshield scraping, picking up student discounts on stuff, showing off what a hippie I was as a UG, etc, make it worth carrying.
posted at 2:58 PM - comments
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
It's election day and hella busy. Sunday night and Monday weren't my favorite, with my ship production project coming down to the wire and my team essentially draping themselves over me until the end. The presentation went acceptably well, but no letters of commendation will be distributed or anything. On the plus side, there was pizza from the professor, so I didn't have to pause in the midst of the two homeworks that needed to get cranked out last night to make dinner. Today has seen a continuation of the workload, although the end is well within sight: when I sit down for IOE 441 at 1500, the roughest week so far will be over. Amen.
Then there's the election. I got up extra-early to go vote in anticipation of the crunch that arrived today, so hooray democracy. Then I flipped open the Michigan Daily and found the world's most assinine editorial: Bush is just like the Wolverines. I'm paraphrasing, but basically the letter said that just like when U-M was down by 17 points and Lloyd Carr led them back, GWB will bring our team to victory because he'll "stay the course." That has to be my least favorite phrase of all time - stay the course - and poor Alex Grimes, LS&A freshman, has been hooked by Students for Bush.
As an ad hoc member of the news media, I feel it is important to give equal time to both parties, so my thoughts on Kerry this morning are that his supporters are right there on the ethical fringe...my polling place was swarmed with signs and a group of supporters outside had pamphlets and free snacks. I partook, don't get me wrong, but I think that I want a fair election even more than I want the result I want. Tricky business, this.
We were talking (we being the students of #137) this morning about the electoral college system and the merits of counting the popular vote instead. My thoughts after this morning are that this country is not ready for that - we're still using markered lines on printed ballot cards held in special secrecy sleeves, and that's not quite the level of service I'd trust for a decision of this magnitude. This was reinforced by the average age of polling place workers (72) and the generational gap that will hold back computer voting. I think plenty of seniors would welcome the change along with most other segments of the population, but it only takes one dissenter to carry the day.
Finally, a picture, harkening back to last week and my boat trip to Wisconsin.