November 30, 2006

Right, Right... So tell me again how global warming is just a myth....

Date: November 30
Lunchtime temp: 67 degrees F
Wardrobe: pants, short sleeve shirt

mmm-hmmm... right, no scientific evidence..... riiiight, yes. Clearly making it up... Yep, I totally see where you're coming from.....

I don't know about you, but I'm convinced. If anyone calls, I'll be laying out by the pool.

November 21, 2006

Please stand by...

The roughly four of you who tune in here on a regular basis will notice that there's no 'Tube today. I wanted to, but I just didn't have time to pull it together.

I am now in the last three-ish weeks of the semester, and Crunch Time has officially begun (it manifested itself today, as I sat staring at my computer screen trying and failing to write cogent sentences for my paper, which oh by the way I'm presenting a week from tonight). The good news is, on December 8th I will get to have another Mel Gibson moment (which will mark exactly 12 months until I finish grad school, for those of you keeping track) and a little over a month off to decompress, do the birthday and Christmas thing, and all that fun stuff. The bad news is, the next three weeks are going to be their own special little plane of the Hell, and I'm out of sunscreen.

This whole semester has been a little off-kilter for me, starting with my textbook issues and never quite settling down the way I thought it should. I think this was the first semester I hit real fatigue with the whole grad school thing (not surprising, I guess, two years in). Whatever it was, I've had a much harder time focusing on the work this semester, and it's got me a little behind heading into the home stretch. I absolutely cannot wait for it to be over, but it's going to be kinda rough between now and then. So my four day weekend will really be four days of nonstop project and paper work with a short break on Thursday to go visit some local cousins for Thanksgiving*. I'm really looking forward to that, partly because they're wonderful people, and partly (okay, largely) because having local plans means I will not be among the frustrated masses trying to get from here to there throught the ironically-unfriendly-considering-it's-a-holiday skies. Travelers, I wish you luck, but better you than me. If it's any consolation, the chair at my desk does not recline, I will have to get my own peanuts and drinks, and I will be sitting in this chair for far longer, delays or no, than you will spend in transit. So if you're into comparative misery, tuck that away for during your canceled connection through Chicago.

All of this to say: the blog might get a little neglected for a few weeks. The irony, of course, is that it was just last week that I alerted my friends to the fact that I have a blog in the first place, so now that they know about it and might actually stop in to check it out, they get the blog equivalent of elevator music and "Please continue to hold. Your call is important to us." I guess on the upside, plenty of time to check out the archives.

But most importantly: have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Enjoy the food, and your families, your friends, your parties of one, whatever makes your world a better place. For those of you that are traveling, I will keep my fingers crossed that the skies stay clear and safe, and that the roads are at least somewhat less rage-y than ususal getting out of DC this time of year (and let's be honest, that would be a huge improvement).

If you do happen to be in town wandering around Arlington over the next couple weeks, and you come across a whimpering, fetally-positioned gentleman crying for his mommy, don't be alarmed. It's probably just me on a 'study break,' out 'stretching my legs.' It will pass. But please, no kicking.

*I would just like to point out, as is my habit, that to my knowledge Virginia Tech is the only major university that actually consumes its mascot as the centerpiece of a national holiday (partial credit to Arkansas, if you assume that razorbacks (wild boar = pig) count for Christmas). I have no idea what that means, but I am sure that it is critically important. Or it's just funny.

November 14, 2006

Two 'Tube for Tuesday: Denis Leary, Rocker

If you've listened to Denis Leary's No Cure for Cancer, then you're undoubtedly familiar with his classic song, "Asshole." What you may not realize, if you didn't spend the kind of time watching MTV that I did as a kid, is that Denis actually had his very own episode of MTV Unplugged, with his very own band (that backed him up on "Asshole"). They've shown up with him at various events (hosting gigs and whatnot, particularly Comics Come Home, as I recall) over the past few years, and are apparently still playing together at shows.

First, a clip from the original Unplugged show, "Traditional Irish Folk Song" (which was also on No Cure for Cancer, I think, but gets a little added bonus here):

And second, the real reason for this post, a recent (by virtue of subject matter) performance, which also marks the first grab from the MySpace video collection, "Mel Gibson Blues":
Mel Gibson Blues

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Good, wholesome, family fun. It's just the Leary way.

November 9, 2006

The sincerest form of flattery

One more quasi-political thing, then I'm done. And this is less about politics, really, than funny.

Distillation of Bush on Rumsfeld:
"You know, I actually endorsed Rummy before I fired him."

Somewhere, John Kerry is howling.

November 7, 2006

Vicious Cycle

I hate politics.

Okay, so that's not entirely true. I like politics just fine; I like talking politics with anyone who has a reasoned opinion and a willingness to debate. It's the political process I can't stand. More specifically, I have come to absolutley loathe the campaign process, and the current state of political discourse in this country. It's this time of year, the tail end of election cycles, that I am least proud of the American political system, in terms of the means by which the people who seek to govern get themselves elected, because it is in that very situation where they behave least like the kind of folks we should, as a nation, be putting in any kind of leadership role.

The state of politics in this country has been in a serious decline, in my opinion, for at least the past six years, and probably more like the past eight. The latter part of the Clinton administration was probably the beginning of the slide, but our current president has thrown the nose straight down and punched the afterburners since taking office. It's ironic, in a way, because he spent quite a bit of energy in his original campaign talking about wanting to unite the parties, and work together to accomplish great things. He wanted to be, in a modification of a more recent reference, the Uniter. Since then, he's become the Decider, and by and large the Divider. Regardless of your political leanings, you can't, by any objective measure, point to a single thing that this administration has done to improve relations between the parties, either in the legislature or the voting public. It's as if the word 'bi-partisan' was anathema, perhaps because it involves the prefix 'bi-' and we all know how uncomfortable that notion makes conservatives, compassionate or otherwise. But I digress.

Consider for a second the nature of campaign communication. Specifically, the kinds of things that the various parties and organizations put on television. Nobody really runs for anything anymore; it's all running against the other guy. And nearly every stance is predicated on fear: in the 2004 elections, Bush wanted you to vote for him because you were scared of Al Qaeda; Kerry wanted you to vote for him because you were scared of Bush. That's really all it amounted to, the whole election. And it hasn't gotten any better. It just keeps getting worse.When is the last time you saw a campaign ad that was less than a full-throated assault on the opposing candidate, in some cases for things that are completely unrelated to the issues of the campaign? It's all finger-pointing, oversimplification and a lot of misrepresentation, from both parties. I stared in amazement at the kind of commercials being aired in northern Virginia the last couple of weeks. Not a single positive ad, or not more than one or two. And the level of negative is just off the scale.

Both sides do it because, sadly, it works. In a lot of ways, I blame the American public, because we as a group not only tolerate this kind of trash, we make no bones about preferring it, both in our entertainment as well as our politics. Moreover, we crave it. We really can't get enough of it, the more vehement and brazen the better, in a lot of cases. And forget depth. We can't have that. Just give us straw men, the more the merrier! Any platform position that takes more than a single, three-second sentence to sum up is waaaaaay beyond our attention span anymore. Heck, if we have to actually read something to understand it, it can't possibly be that important. We should be more careful what we wish for, because we get it every time.

As an example, I submit the "Same-Sex Marriage Ban" that looks all but guaranteed to become part of Virginia's constitution. Never mind for a second that it's the 21st century and we're still codifying intolerance and bigotry into the fabric of our government; I could spend an hour on that alone, but not now. The effect of this amendment is pretty significant for unmarried straight couples as well, the way I understand it. No more rights. None. Period. Cohabitating for a few years, got your assets combined and just haven't seen the need to go official? Tough. This amendment is meant for you, too. There is some question as to whether written contracts could even be enforced in a situation like medical decisions. Oh, and common law? It will be interesting to see how that holds up. I wonder if the rural voting community thought about that at all when they went charging out to the voting booth. But I would be willing to bet that the vast majority, rural or otherwise, never read that far down in the language of the amendment. Gays? Married? Well, we'll just see about that. How could it possibly be more complicated? Wait, it is? Then allow me to plug my ears and sing. La-la-la-la-la, I can't hear you....

It's just saddening that at this point in history, our country is at the mercy of the fringes of both parties. It's true, and it will always be true, until moderates start shouting. I firmly believe that there are more of us than there are of them, but moderates are by nature, well, moderate, which makes us a less-loud, and unfortunately a therefore less powerful, group of people. I know very few people from either side that are all that happy with their party right now, but the nature of the two-party system leaves little in the way of options. So it's a matter of picking the lunatics that worry you less and just keeping your fingers crossed. And the conduct of politicans as a group isn't making great strides to inspire confidence, either. It's like used car salesmen and lawyers are just glad that someone is bumping them out of the top spot of people we wouldn't trust to walk our dog, and yet these are the people who are steering this country into the future. Need some Dramamine? Hang on, it might get a little bumpy.

Now, all of that said, let me say this: I love this country, I would far rather be here than anywhere else. I recognize and appreciate that the system in place allows me the freedom to say these sorts of things without fear. I'm not anti-American, anti-democracy, anti-military, or any of that crap; the truth is quite the opposite, so leave that nonsense at home. I am just troubled by the way the game is being played these days. I really don't think it's good for any of us, long-term, and unless something dramatic happens to make that clear, we're going to take more steps back than forward, which endangers our position on the world stage in addition to the problems it creates within our own borders.

But I voted. I did my part. I will say that it was a pleasant surprise to find that my polling station was all of a block from home. But I just wish that the people that I was voting for would behave more like the kind of people we want, and really need, them to be.

I would never have guessed it would be so much to ask.

Two 'Tube for Tuesday: Thanks KassyK

I almost skipped this week, because of a pileup of work and grad school, but then I saw the title of Kassy's post today, and I just couldn't.

The "Choppin' Broccoli" song is quite possibly the funniest thing Dana Carvey has ever done (that didn't involve a funny wig and nerd glasses). It was made into an SNL skit, but my memory of it has always been from his stand-up. Here is the stand-up version, which gets a little more of an intro to the idea.

And if we're talking about Dana Carvey, then of course we have to have a moment with the funny wig and nerd glasses.

Party on.

November 5, 2006

What a difference...

Five weeks ago: loss to Georgia Tech, 2 starters suspended.
Four weeks ago: loss to Boston College, 2 starters suspended (different players this time).
Two weeks ago: beat then-#10 Clemson by 17 at home.
This week: beat Miami by 7 in Miami.

Isn't it amazing what can happen when you manage to keep your starters from getting arrested? I'm pretty sure there's a lesson in there someplace.

And while we're at it:

What's a Hokie?
That’s the most often-asked question
regarding Virginia Tech athletics. The answer
leads all the way back to 1896 when Virginia
Agricultural and Mechanical College changed its
name to Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

With the change came the necessity for
writing a new cheer and a contest for such a
purpose was held by the student body. Senior
O.M. Stull won first prize for his "Old Hokie"
yell which still is used today.

Later, when asked if "Hokie" had any special
meaning, Stull explained the words he used had
no hidden or symbolic meaning, but had been
thought up in an effort to get attention. Hokie
soon became a nickname for all Tech teams and
for those people loyal to Tech athletics.
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