Postings are in chronological order, with the most recent entry at the top.
On my right hand I have a generous sprinkling of bumps and bites - 8. The bumps, poison ivy; the bites, from some tiny aggressive gnat type things. My left hand has been spared. My legs have fared no better than my right hand, sporting mosquito bites and sun burn. My torso looks like I've had a run in with the measles.
And so, we've returned from vacation...
Lovely time away, despite the consequences to my skin. Saw loads of fascinating crawlies, some gorgeous sunsets and spectacular landscape moments. Gotta love the Cape in the summer. It's just grand.
I experienced the usual spectrum of camping encounters with things humanoid. The females applying makeup in the bathroom... (I'll never comprehend it) - the children discovering non-electronic forms of entertainment ("They say you take this stick and hit this small round thing with it and it's supposed to be fun... Anyone's batteries still work in their GameBoy?") - the men, off doing something or other, I don't run into them as much - except on the way to the bathroom and they seem pretty focused about where they're headed and aren't too chatty about it.
The bathroom is where things camping take on a dangerously communal air... okay, camping at a campground is, by its nature, a fairly communal undertaking - but the bathroom, that's where you're forced to confront the folk about you in a more face-to-face manner. I generally smile and am civil, but am not overly interactive - which is how most folk are, except for the cheerfully endowed among us.
And then there are the little kids reacting to the motion activated paper towel dispensers, they're a rip. One little boy in particular was charming as hell, "Oh Mommy! Don't you like it too? Could we have one at home?" Don't you wish you could muster that kind of enthusiasm? "Oh Ume, look! It's an insurance bill! Isn't it marvelous? Look at the printing, it's just scrumptious - how do they ever get all of that tiny little type to fit on just six pages?"
I had my period while we were camping. I thought you needed to know this - I felt that without possessing this information your lives would be less rich and meaningful... Actually, I've mentioned it by way of explaining how I came across the crimson thong. Ume and I don't much comprehend this new fashion of wearing a thong high with hip huggers low. Why, we wonder, do women feel an urge to do this? Is it a retaliatory measure? Some sort of reaction to all of those boys walking around in excessively baggy pants with their boxers on display? I'm still trying to figure out what's up with the new spike-toed shoe phenomenon, so I'm sure this one will evade my ability to grasp things fashionable altogether. Damn silly looking if you ask me, all of it - but especially those shoes. All I can think of is Steve Martin's short story, "Cruel Shoes". And my mother lecturing me as she dragged me through the fashion exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was a kid, "It moves in cycles," she'd explain in a far away manner, her attention transfixed by something Dior or Channel. She'd glance at my bored face and sigh and I'd get my payoff for being a reasonably well behaved cretin - she'd take me into the armor exhibit (always my favorite) and I'd stare and stare at the weaponry and armor. I could somehow appreciate the artistry, craftsmanship and ingenuity of metal-based clothing and it's related accessories better than I could the craftsmanship and ingenuity of fiber-based clothing and it's related accessories... Which was something that worried my mother early on...
She taught me embroidery one summer. This was one of her many attempts to civilize me. Only, someone forgot to mention to my mother that it was no longer 1815 and we weren't living in a Jane Austen novel. After I'd embroidered my first initial, she relented - and I ran off to roll in the dirt, I'm sure.
Where was I? Oh yes, I chanced upon the crimson thong while discarding... something... in the sanitary disposal bin in a stall of the campground bathroom (see, I'm sensitive and stuff). Anyhoo, the thong was a red satin thing and it wasn't easy to miss (I don't make a habit of actually looking when I dispose, as I think the overall process is earthy enough without adding to it visualwise). There it was, the thong, lying at the top of the bin and I thought, "E-gads, imagine getting your period wearing that on a bicycle." That thought was followed in quick succession by theories of other ways such a device as a shiny red thong may have ended up where it did. The possibilities are many and amusing, I entertained myself all the way back to the tent. Then surmized that some mother or other, cleaning up around the campsite, had stealthily disposed of her daughter's prized haute fashion undergarment when the daughter was out at the beach - it's the kind of thing mothers are famous for and daughters are famous for pouting about. Not that I'd know from experience mind...
Everyone is busy criticizing the government of the Philippines for pulling it's troops out of Iraq a month early to save the life of a citizen threatened by terrorists... I'd like to join that chorus. Exactly how will the government of the Philippines deal with the islamic extremists it's got on it's own soil when they take civilians hostage? Will it capitulate to their every demand? Hand over land to them? Hand over power to them? They probably should have thought through that one when they climbed on board the coalition. Guess there's an election in the Phillipines...
And what happens the minute they let the Fillipino citizen free? Given the success the zealots had? Several other "foreign" hostages are taken. Who ever could have guessed that would happen?
Meanwhile, the Saudis find the head of an American in a fridge.
And the folks on the 9/11 Commission say that every expert they've talked to assured them there was more than likely a chance of a large attack in the US. We'll see what we shall see.
And there's ongoing violence in Iraq. One hopes the Iraqis tire of whoever is blowing up their neighbors and family members and decide that their best bet is to go forward with plans for elections - however imperfect a process that will turn out to be.
In the meantime, I'm going over to take some photos of the hubbub at the Democratic National Convention - see the mess... uh, process... in action, and all of that. The city of Boston has been turned on it's ear for this thing!
I didn't know him very well, he worked in the same building I did. I had a summer job huckstering haute calorie ingestibles - very flaky, very good. He had a job huckstering things spun and worn. One morning he came to work looking more bedraggled than usual.
"What happened to you?" I asked - adolescent compassion all over, that was me.
"Slept on the beach last night, someone stole my boots and my volume of the collected works of Shakespeare."
This was an early lesson to me to avoid the life romantic. No one was going to swipe my boots and collected works of... well, I didn't have any collected works, but I thought I might someday and that sounded like a good way to go about losing them. I still don't have collected works, but I'm not rushing out to sleep on the beach - there's sand fleas, biting gnats and flies and whatnot. Besides, my bed's cozy and Ume once slept on the beach and says it's not so very romantic, but actually cold (it was a beach in New England). She ended up smoking clove cigarettes to stay warm and will never touch the things again - gets nauseous when we pass someone who's sucking on one. I'm not fond of smoking in any form and made that clear to Ume when we met and so went her occassional cigarette (aren't I aweful?). I've watched the sun rise on beaches a couple of times, it's quite lovely.
For the record: we've been having amazing weather so far this summer. My very favorite temps. Haven't even had to install the air conditioner yet.
In celebration of convention season - I'll send you here where you have to watch an ad to see the movie, but it's sufficiently silly to make the wait worth it. This movie, "This Land..." is way popular, so it may not load the first time you try: click here
Good discussion, "Just and Unjust Wars" with political philosopher Michael Walzer you can listen with Quicktime as well as Windows Media Player and RealOne Player: click here
Great conversation: Power Struggle in Gaza (The Connection, 07.27.04): click here
Interesting stuff: Political Parties (Talk of the Nation, 07.27.04): click here
I know, I know, polls are useless, especially this far out from the election - but still... heh.
Kerry Overtakes Bush in Swing States, Nationwide (Bloomberg, 07.22.04): click here
Let's see, we give the top percent of the nation's wealthy a whopping tax cut... And strangely, they're doing better than ever and the work-a-day folk, we're not doing so well... hmm... The trickle isn't overly downward, the gap is overly growing: Which of the two Americas is yours? (The Connection, 07.22.04): click here
We've especially enjoyed watching "Hands on a Hard Body" and "Spellbound" recently. These documentaries are way, way fascinating. You get your nose right up in the face of some interesting humanity.
"I can please only one person per day.
Today is not your day.
Tomorrow isn't looking any better."
The report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee this week was critical of the CIA's handling of intelligence in the run up to the war in Iraq... Apparently, had it not been for the CIA and the agency's poor intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, we wouldn't have gone to war with Iraq... The majority report puts the blame for all of the problems at the CIA's door. The minority report says that's a bit rash and reports that the agency was unduly pressured by the Bush administration to come up with intelligence that backed the policy that they wanted to inact.
Phase two of the investigation, the phase that will investigate the politicians' role in the intelligence debacle won't be reported until... you guessed it... after the November election. You see, there was a deal cut with the Bush administration a-ways back... Spare me.
At least Ken Lay, Mr. Enron, got nabbed this week. That was a nice distraction.
Tom Ridge delivered another stunningly vague terror alert this week. Not much new information has been added to the stunningly vague terror alert John Ashcroft gave last month. Some speculate that this alert, like the last, may have been generated not by new intelligence, but by politics. You see, John Kerry and John Edwards had spent two, count 'em two, days dominating national headlines. Can't have that, now can we? Especially after most people seem to be really pleased with the pick.
I don't know, I think it would be beyond horribly stupid to time these alerts based on politics... but then again, look who we're dealing with here - they finessed information to win the mid-term elections in 2002, what makes me think they wouldn't do it now?
Everyone is, of course, concerned about the Democratic and Republican national conventions this summer. (Tell me why they've decided to hold them in two major cities and not in some cornfield somewhere?)
They're so concerned about a terror attack in Boston that the Boston Police have announced a new policy of random searches on the subways... This is really scary. They're also shutting down the major highway that runs through Boston for the duration of the convention. Yes, shutting down a six lane highway that runs through the city for four days. Why? Because it's a tunnel that runs past the building where the convention is being held - it's 40 feet from it at one point. So closed it gets. (Tell me again, why is this not being held in a cornfield somewhere?)
Anyway, Boston, struggling with all manner of financial woes, is losing millions for the privilege of hosting this convention. I shudder to think what New York will lose for hosting the Republican convention.
John Kerry had a brilliant idea... to pay Boston back for all of the trouble the city will be put through during the convention, he wanted to host a massive outdoor party and concert... Which the city graciously declined. Hello! Mr. Kerry! Get a freakin' clue, would ya? Even I knew that was a stupid idea (much like your idea not to accept the nomination at the convention because of money issues was). You're worrying me here. Quit it, 'cuz I'm going to vote for you and I want to maintain the illusion that you're super-smart and going to change things for the better and whatnot.
Anyhow, so we're being nationally alerted, terror-wise, but they're not raising the terror color code level - just the alarm. Every time the terror threat is raised to code orange, it costs cities and towns millions of dollars - so now, they don't raise that sucker unless they've got a real good solid reason to. So they're just alerting us... And no one is talking about John Edwards' perky disposition and what a good choice he was for Kerry to have made anymore.
I know the government is between a rock and a hard place on this one and I'd be a lot more sympathetic with their position if those at the top hadn't proven themselves to be such a lot of craven nasties. For the folks in the support positions just trying to do their jobs and protect yours truly's spoiled, whining ass, I'm deeply grateful. It's to you that I dedicate the following spontaneous poem:
You're a star
No, it's true,
You really are.
See that? You've inspired me to great heights and whatnot.
What was that noise? I think it may have been Wallace Stevens rolling over in his grave.
Things are, in a bizarre fashion, looking up. I mean, several months ago, was there even a possibility that Bush wouldn't be re-elected? No. There's a possibility now. Has the mainstream press been super castigated by the release and popularity of "Fahrenheit 9/11"? Yes. Are they reporting more forthrightly than they had been since 2000? Yes. Asking some difficult and embarrassing questions? Yes. I've even been thinking that I'll stop with the news links and dilletantesque punditry here at the Seen, because my views seem to be more widely represented in the media and so why should I bother when people who actually know something are finally doing their jobs! The picture is far from rosy, but it's better in some ways.
I sound so gung-ho... was that tea I just drank caffeinated?
Planet Out has a better movie link - goes right to the women's section (no offense meant to the men, there's a link right there on the same page if you want to find their list of men's films). Well organized, AND comprehensive synopsii provided. Click here for that.
Recently, on the queer film front, we've enjoyed "What's Cooking" and "Metrosexuality".
"What's Cooking" has a cast of fab actresses including, Julianna Margulies (makes a great lesbian!), Mercedes Ruehl (sigh...) and Alfre Woodard (who's a favorite - she was especially great in the John Sayles film "Passion Fish").
"Metrosexuality" is a calamity of color and fun. It was a British tv show - soapy and issue oriented - with a light touch and a playful sensibility.
Speaking of movies, what's this I hear about remote-type possibilities of a Xena movie?
Ridge Warns of Election Threat in U.S., No Details by Deborah Charles(Reuters, 07.08.04): click here
PBS's new weekly standard: Tucker Carlson by David Brock: click here
Other reports on the right-wing media can also be found on the Media Matter web site. The site is run by David Brock of "Blinded by the Right" fame - as a convert to the left, he ought to know a thing or two about the lies the right tells - he used to generate them.
Key Bush Military Service Files Destroyed by Charles Aldinger (Reuters, 07.09.04): click here
Poll numbers dropping, Edwards seen as a great boost to the Kerry campaign - what, oh what, to do?
Bush Says Much at Stake in Gay Marriage Debate (Reuters, 07.10.04): click here
Bush's War on Science by Gov. Howard Dean M.D. (Boulder Daily Camera, 07.05.04): click here
Can't wait to see the first ones subsidized by ads...
Talking Tombstones Bear a Message from the Grave (Reuters, 07.07.04): click here
Firesetting, Animal Cruelty Tied to Poor Parenting (Reuters, 07.09.04): click here
Pop, fizzle... Whiz-bang!
Happy 4th! Hope you're enjoyin' yer hot dogs, hamburgers and whatnot.
The world spins on apace... and as usual, it's makin' me dizzy. For one thing, there was that early hand over thingy in Iraq - once they got Mr. Allawi (the former CIA freelancer) to stop threatening Martial Law and cancellation of the January elections (that bodes well for the democratic future of Iraq...) they made some time to appoint him the head of the new government - and introduced the new US Ambassador to Iraq, one of Kissinger's pals, John Negroponte (yeah, I'd say that this administration is pretty tone deaf when it comes to the deft soft politics type moves). At this point, I think most people would be greatful for an end to the killing and some peace and stability so that they can get on with their lives - most everybody except the psychotic, mass-murdering anti-western zealots, that is.
"Farenheit 9/11" came out, and I'm looking forward to seeing it. People are all in a flurry over how one-sided it is and how it plays fast and loose with the facts to make its point and to that I say - "Hello! Hello! Have you listened to some of the crap oozing out of the mainstream right wing press? Looked at Fox News lately? I think they're still reporting that Saddam payrolled 9/11 and that they just found chemical weapons in one of his palaces - but this time they really mean it! Not like those other times when they were just plain wrong. Maybe if they shout a little louder and play the national anthem a few more times the public will be distracted from the spectacle of them licking George Bush's ass." So I don't mind it, not really. If the right is going to be nasty and lie and intimidate and basically steamroll their way into power - I think we ought to answer them in kind. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly - meet Michael Moore.
I had a heartening experience recently. Let me share it with you...
"Are you registered to vote?" the gentleman seated across from us at the table asked.
Ume and I nodded and said that "yes" we were.
"Good," he said.
Ume and I exchanged puzzled expressions.
"I'm making sure that everyone we know is registered for next November's election. We need to get as many people out voting as possible."
Ume and I exchanged glances and shot wary looks across the table. You see, we were being questioned by a Republican. This sometimes happens as we know several people who suffer from that peculiar disposition (we feel very big about about ourselves for overlooking it).
He continued, "We have to make sure these people are voted out of office. This is serious. They're ruining our credibility in the world."
We nodded and assured him that he had our full cooperation.
I've heard people on the radio mentioning that they were Republicans and were going to vote Democrat for the first time ever, but I more or less dismissed those accounts as media looking for hypage. But lo, here was an honest to goodness registered Republican (fiscal conservative, social liberal brand of Republican) telling me that I had to vote against Bush! Fabulous! Cheered me no end. I replay the conversation in my head when my mood dips low - makes me ever so chipper.
Here's a new bit of long overdue reportage:
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism
pessimal /pes'im-l/ adj. [Latin-based antonym for `optimal'] Maximally bad. "This is a pessimal situation." Also `pessimize' vt. To make as bad as possible. These words are the obvious Latin-based antonyms for `optimal' and `optimize', but for some reason they do not appear in most English dictionaries, although `pessimize' is listed in the OED.
A good word for the 5,000+ Reserve troops to use for their recall to Iraq. We wish you safe travels and a speedy return.
I think my young and spunky dental hygenist doth like me too much. I should be flattered... only... I can't say much for her style. For instance, I think pressing your breast into someone's face isn't an especially skillful way of A: cleaning teeth or B: indicating attraction. Call me a slave to subtlety, call me an old fart, call me disinterested to a suspect degree - call me turned off by people who aren't paying enough attention to my teeth when I'm paying good money to have them looked after. Call me most turned off when a "trained technician" drops a tool! Sitting in a dental chair wondering if I'm making the hygenist nervous is not a position that I like to be put in. This sort of thing never happened in Dr. Porter's office! I only encountered the utmost in professional behavior there (click here if you want to know more about that).
Which isn't to say I find frisky behavior deplorable in the main. 'Course not, I'm way in support of people making their intentions known and generally putting themselves out there - more power to 'em. Just stay away from Ume and, oh yeah, choose an appropriate venue - that wouldn't be a bad idea either...
When the hygenist asked me, after my cleaning, what I was doing that weekend... I was taken aback. Had I been sending mixed signals while trapped under her boob? I was fairly certain that I'd conveyed my feelings gently (didn't want to risk her slipping - she, with a sharpened pick wedged between my tooth and gums...), but clearly, by asking her to please ease up on "the pressure". Some people have no clue.
In record time, Ume's found us a new dentist. She's even gone and pre-approved the hygenist for us. Isn't she sweet? The hygenist passes muster and Ume is confident that I won't be oppressed by any more boobage than is absolutely necessary during my next cleaning (the woman is all heart, no?). After all, if I'm going to be oppressed by boobage, it ought to be Ume's dagnabbit! Not some over-sexed hygenist who has yet to master her tools... or some such.
In the news...
Good Things in Bad Times by Katrina vanden Heuvel (The Nation, 07.04): click here
Sudan Vows to Disarm Arab Militias in Darfur by Opheera McDoom and Nima Elbagir (Reuters, 07.03.04): click here
Moore's Public Service by Paul Krugman (New York Times, 07.02.04): click here
Moore 1, Media 0 by Katha Pollitt (The Nation, 07.04): click here
Bush Seeks to Mobilize Religious Conservatives by David Morgan (Reuters, 07.01.04): click here
Top Court Term Marked by Bush Terrorism Rebuke by James Vicini (Reuters, 07.01.04): click here
A-yup, time to get down and dirty...
Democrats Wail, "Don't Act Like Republicans" as their Party Hemorrhages by John F. Borowski (07.01.04): click here
Dude, Where's That Elite? by Barbara Ehrenreich (New York Times, 07.01.04): click here
Want to see a journalist who will never, ever be granted an interview with Bush again? Watch this interview where this woman has the unmitigated gall to actually ask Bush - a follow up question! After the look he gives her at the end, I feared for her safety once the camara was turned off... Reports have it that he didn't harm her, but the White House cancelled an interview this news outfit had with Mrs. Bush...:
Click here and scroll down to "Carole Coleman, Washington Correspondent, asks the US President whether he understands the opposing view of his policies".
Oh goodie, I can't wait...:
IBM Opens Test Center for Supercharged Barcodes by Lucas van Grinsven (Reuters, 06.30.04): click here
Who Lost Iraq? by Paul Krugman (New York Times, 07.29.04): click here
Avast ye!!! Victory! Or at least one step toward something that smells faintly of it...:
Court rejects FCC ownership rules in historic victory! (MediaReform.net, 06.24.04): click here
Worth clicking just for the photo of Cheney's inner child:
Cheney Curses Senator Over Halliburton Criticism by Steve Turnham (CNN, 06.24.04): click here
Remembering Guatemala, 1954: Its the Impunity, Stupid by Rosa Maria Pegueros (06.22.04): click here
Noonday in the Shade: Ashcroft Neglects Real Terrorist Threats Because of His Ideological Biases by Paul Krugman (New York Times, 06.22.04): click here