Saturday, December 25, 2004

Tried to watch a DVD of the Coen Brothers' the Ladykillers this evening with my mother and grandmother, since I had remembered it as a really good movie with a good moral message when I saw it in the theatre. Bad move. I had forgotten all of the bad language and violence. Luckily, my grandmother couldn't understand one word in four of what was going on, but we quickly gave up, and put in the Sound of Music instead, until everybody fell asleep before the TV. It's been years since I last watched that movie - in fact, the last time I saw it might have been back when my mother left my sister and I in my grandmother's care way the back when. Grandma was very happy to see it again - she kept mentioning that she had seen it in the theatres. I had forgotten how beautifully shot it all was - perhaps the pan-and-scan version they showed on TV chopped a lot of it up? Had to explain to my mother why "all of these DVDs are in these narrow little boxes on the screen", and why pan-and-scan is a mutilation of films shot for the wider aspect ratios.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Ahoyhoy, camparinos. I'm down in Florida, and we got the DSL up and running yesterday. So, here I am. The drive down was mostly uneventful, except for the way the cold seemed to chase us down I-95 like a vengeful ex determined to have the last word in an argument. I had to take the dog out for a walk in a Red Roof parking lot in Fayetteville, NC at 4 in the morning, where I only discovered just how far below freezing it had gotten overnight *after* I locked myself out of the hotel, which was rather short of help. The same woman seemed to be the night bookkeeper, front-desk help, maid, janitor, and continental-breakfast caterer. I nearly froze off my unmentionables before I found the side-door with the room-key all-hours access lock. The dog didn't care - he had a coat built-in by a thoughtful if capricious nature.

I-95 is, in a certain, figurative sense, America's front driveway, which makes its reality a rather surreal let-down. The stretch between Richmond, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida is essentially a vast swampy desert punctuated with stereotypically racist Senor Pedro billboard ads for the eastern seaboard's largest, tackiest tourist-trap, "South of the Border". Southern billboard rates must be rock-bottom cheap, because there were dozens, perhaps as many as a hundred of these billboards all along the highway throughout North Carolina - nine in the last mile leading up to the North Carolina border alone. As for the swamp, sometimes it seemed as if America was one vast marsh from the James to the St. Johns.

Florida, on the other hand, looks to be the world's largest sand bar. The part of it that my parents have picked to settle down in isn't nearly as flat as I expected, but rather is an undulating patchwork of very low, ossified sand dunes and wetlands, many of which have been drained into large ponds and lakes. It isn't as barren as it sounds, because the rain and moisture means that the sand is well-covered by lots of vegetation, but underneath it all - sand, sand, sand. This is grazing land which is quickly being overrun by the snowbird and retiree immigration. What land hasn't been built over for retirement communities is either under use by horse-breeders, or has been let go as woodlots for wandering herds of freerange cattle. This isn't orange-growing territory - that doesn't start for another county or two, southwards toward Orlando. There's a retirement community, called "the Villages", that starts a few miles to the southeast of here that is forty-five thousand souls strong, sprawling over three counties, and encompassing three dozen different golf courses within its borders. This retirement community is somewhat dwarfish by comparison, but it's still growing at the rate of one or two houses a day, every day, rain sun or showers.

The movers' truck showed up early, and they unloaded with commendable efficiency, which makes it all the more sad that they got into a serious accident not five minutes after leaving for their next stop. We passed them by on the way to lunch on Tuesday, the tractor-trailer jackedknifed across all the southbound lanes of traffic on the highway just outside of this retirement community. Some old duffer in a sedan had spun out in front of them, careening into the front of their truck, and breaking their front axle. Luckily, no-one was hurt, but the chances of them making the rest of their deliveries in time to get home for Christmas in the north is pretty slim. After that, Mom managed to start a fire in the kitchen while I was in the bathroom taking care of lunch, as it were. She had left a shipping box on the open range while she was unloading it, and had apparently spun the dials to "hot" as she set the box down. Much flame and chaos ensued, but the only damage was to Dad's nerves, as this had occurred while he was on the cel-phone with her. We wrote it all off as a decent fire-test for the many, many smoke detectors mounted way, way up the walls throughout the house. Took a while to get them all to shut off.

Dad flew in with Grandma to Orlando on Wednesday, and we drove down to meet them there. We're talking about him flying back up to drive the SUV back down here, as we couldn't find a buyer on short notice leading up to Christmas like it was. Anyone want a five-year-old Honda RAV4 with a lot of mileage, good condition?

Grandma's trying to settle in; she's 93, and she's been feeling every year the last few months or so. I've been trying to help the folks with her, but I can see it's going to be a challenge taking care of her, between the two of them. Oh, well.

My sister's going to be lapping me, coming down the afternoon of the 30th on a flight to Orlando, after I'm due to leave on a flight heading north from that same airport. She's a physical therapist, so hopefully she'll make some progress in getting Grandma situated; she's better-trained for this sort of thing than anyone currently down here, I suppose.

Friday, December 17, 2004

I'm going to be out of town for a couple weeks on family business, and probably away from the Interweb as a result. I've not been posting much, as you might have noticed. I've been writing, and tossing material recently. Mostly because what comes out is better-suited to increasing the balance of misery in the world, and I don't know that such things are worth the publishing.

I'll be helping the folks move down to Florida, to a place whose address prominiently features the phrase "nth Circle", which I figure is quite appropriate in describing a flat, hot, humid hell of a state...

Friday, December 10, 2004

Dear commie pinko superhero-pimp:

Please do not make the assumption that the prototypical American patriot is somehow wedded to the mainstream American comic. They are not. They just don't give a half a shit about the spinal-reflexive anti-American, hardcore leftist twaddle that passes for "alternative comics". Those that can stomach the five billionth iteration of "superhero comic" will buy what DC, Image, and Marvel shit onto your metaphorical docks every month. You know, with near-mathematical exactitude, how big that fraction of a fraction is. But please, don't imagine that your shelves full of Art Spiegelman's sour crap and poorly-printed Ted Rall and Tom Tommorrow reprints are going to draw anyone inclined to list to your political right into your squalid little basement shop.

They're at the bookstore across town, buying manga from an establishment which doesn't reek of geek stink patchouli.

[Yeah, yeah - I'm aware that the Beguiling is a Canadian comics shop. Who ever let fairness stand in the way of a good rant? I'm getting eye-strain from their stupid cycling-snowflakes backgrounds, and I'm feeling mean.]
Lynn Swann is talking about running for governor of the commonwealth in 2006.

I'm amused by this because Swann used to own a house two blocks down the street from my parents' house in Ross Township. We never saw him around the neighborhood - dunno if he actually lived in the house or no. I seem to remember that his wife used the place during the season, or something like that. For some reason, I thought they moved south to Georgia or the Carolinas when he retired. But, nevertheless, if he runs for governor, he'll definitely be a homie done good from my point of view. I'm kind of afraid of what that piranha Rendell will leave of Swann when he's done with him, though.

I was watching A&E yesterday, and was amused/alarmed to see that a murder had occurred in the same neighborhood a few years ago, some yunzer beating his wife to death in the hot-tub and calling it "drowning" - he's on death row now. I didn't realize it was the old neighborhood until they pulled back on his incredibly bland house and the distinctive white-elephant bulk of Ross Park Mall appeared in the background.

Although I'm in favor of the death penalty, I'm not exactly happy with this particular example - I don't consider somebody who murdered two wives to be a fit subject for execution. Copkillers? Sure - gotta protect the civil service. Mass murderers, yes - for the outrage against civil order. Serial-killers? On the "they'll never stop" theory, and the "they had it coming", yeah, sure, liquidate 'em. But I don't quite see that a guy who kills two women for the insurance money qualifies as a serial-killer. He seems like a prime candidate for life-in-prison-without-parole. That sort of doughy-pasty-white-geek will be more miserable as a lifer than on death row, anyways. Huh. Looks like a court sort-of-half-agreed with me, because his death sentence was commuted by an appellate court due to other irregularities - mostly boot-strapping between the murders of his two wives.

They had the township police chief on the program going on about how there was only one or two murders in the township every ten years or so. If that's the case, then almost all the murders in the township occur in that neighborhood, because I remember a woman having killed her husband in the basement of one of the houses across the street from Swann's place in the late Seventies. I guess I can claim that I grew up in the most dangerous neighborhood in my hometown, can't I?
Stayed at home yesterday to try to avoid further infecting the office with my germs. Everything went to hell without me there, so I suppose I'm good for something around here... daytime TV hasn't improved much since my useless-post-college-days.

The best channel was C-SPAN. They had a high-ranking general standing in front of a busy shed full of mechanics and Humvees, as he tried to explain the esoterics behind up-armoring transport vehicles in a IED&ambush war like Iraq. Thus is the state-of-the-art of spin control in 2004. The press corps wasn't totally ignorant for a change. Everybody was bending over backwards to not look like they were going to come down like a ton of bricks on the NCO who was yelling at Rumsfeld. So what's the odds look like this week on a Rumsfeld resignation? I'm guessing one in three, up from one in twenty last week. After that, they had Gen. Brooks, Robert Kaplan, and some other guy at AEI doing a panel on, of all things, spin control and information warfare. They had a lot of interesting things to say about how the administration lost the information battle over First Fallujah, and dominated the fight over the story of Second Fallujah. Interesting point - Gen. Brooks used that exact name - "Second Fallujah". How very, very 1862, don't you think?

There was a lot of lights-flickering and tv-outage later last night. When I came in this morning, I discovered that the building-site where the Mount Nittany Inn used to be, and theoretically will-be-again, BLEW UP last night. Quite spectacularly, to judge from what our secretary, who lives over that way, had to say. Apparently there's a good deal of power infrastructure up on Centre Hall Mountain by the Inn, because last night's flickering power was the outside edges of a pretty nasty series of brown-outs that took down the power here at work, and throughout Pleasant Gap and the upper reaches of Penns Valley. That Inn is snakebit, if you ask me. Time to give upon it, bury the ruins, and replace it with a tree plantation or something.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

As much of a reputation Hollywood has for progressive, liberal, and leftist politics and activism, it's quite striking that the actor-politicians who have had actual, electoral success, have been, by and large, Republicans or conservatives. Ronald Reagan, governor of California and president, is, of course, the pre-eminent example, but there are secondary examples such as Clint Eastwood, one-time mayor of Carmel, California, Governor Schwarzenegger, the late Rep. Sonny Bono, and even one-time Governor Ventura of Minnesota. The only counter-example I could find was honorary "mayor" of Malibu, Martin Sheen, and could somebody tell me why a city with an actual, elected, mayor needed an unelected "honorary mayor" best known for intentionally courting arrest and incarceration at every protest compatible with his work-schedule?

Hollywood's reputation for leftism and leftish political activism is quite well-earned, and yet almost all the politicians produced by that culture have been on the right side of the dial. Why is that? Admittedly, a lot of the activism in the modern Hollywood left is aimed at electing other people to office - look at the swarms of has-beens and almost-about-to-have-beens like Whoopi Goldberg, Jeneane Garofalo, and Ben Affleck that buzzed about the Kerry campaign in the last season. Those folks are there to boost other candidates, rather than second careers of their own.

People like Alec Baldwin and Warren Beatty are always rumored to be getting into this or that, but it never pans out. For one thing, the rumors are always on a national scale - people were talking about Beatty in 2000 for the presidency. Yes, one could complain that to run for the presidency without ever having stood for even so much as the office of town dog-catcher, is deeply egotistical, but hey - that's never stopped Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Sr., or any of the retired-military types who inevitably pop up in national election cycles. Nevertheless, the successful conservative or Republican actor-politician usually shoots for something more modest, like a house representative seat, or a governorship. The presidency awaits for those who prove themselves in a starter-seat, if the constitutional ban on immigrant presidential candidates doesn't otherwise conspire against said actor-politician.

There is the theory that a Republican or conservative bent in a denizen of a leftist utopia like Hollywood breeds practical political skills in the bearer; if the soil is deep enough and properly-fertilized with ambition, a second career as a politician can grow. The successful actor-politicians are by and large just that, politicians. Activism is often confused with politics on the left; it doesn't help that we refer to performance-artists, exhibitionist lunatics and serious party operators by that same, stupidly vague term. Though the marcher-protestor-puppeteer is an ineffectual buffoon who will never make a single change in the world worth the notice, and the party operator is making connections, quietly raising funds, organizing, building pragmatically for the long-term, both are called "activist". Not that you can't find the occasional buffoon or lunatic among the party operators - look to Kos for the refutation of that easy conclusion - but it's an essentially serious business. Meanwhile, the entertainer is naturally drawn to entertaining, if meaningless, nonsense, protest and street-theatre... I know, I know - too facile. I had this theory about Reagan's activism within the Screen Actors Guild, but look at this LA Weekly article about current SAG head Mike "B.J. Honeycutt" Ferrell's unwillingness to run for greater office... eh. That writer thinks the answer is "Democratic actors are cowards", which conflicts strangely with his touting of Ferrell's Marine service.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Hrm. I'm annoyed with English today. The imperative, the past tense, and the present tense of "read" are identical. This makes it difficult to use that verb in an economical fashion.

"[I] [r]ead that as a negation of his prior position." "[I] [r]ead in the paper this morning that he's thinking about a second run at the office." "Read this statement put out by his campaign office - does that look like he's withdrawing from the race?"

This ambiguity creates a need for unnecessary verbosity. How can I be properly laconic with this sort of thing dragging me down into jabber? Bah.
Yeah, I'm here. I'm just not feeling particularly verbose.

Read the fourth (actually "4.1", which is kind of lame) volume of Planetes, which is something of a tedious let-down from previous volumes. The author seems determined to present childish selfishness, wilful ignorance, and disregard for others as praiseworthy rebellion. Kind of a shame, really. It doesn't outright suck, but it's rather whiffy - like a pile of garbage in the back-alley polluting the whole neighborhood with the faint stench of rotting tubers.

Started reading Machiavelli's Florentine History. Always interesting when a four-hundred-fifty-year-dead author comes out with a new book... Not that far in, but already I've learned that as far as Niccolo is concerned, everything awful which has ever happened to the Roman Empire and Italy has been as the result of ministers, emperors, and popes inviting northern European barbarians to intervene in local political quarrels or feuds. Not that he's got an idee fixe or anything...
Michael Totten's photolog from his tour of Libya. Striking.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I've been watching this business in the Ukraine with much interest and hope. Nothing quite so exciting and hopeful as a good people's revolution, without all the bloodshed and gunfire and ugliness. People who know better than I aren't exactly sanguine, but then, they've been wrong before, so here's hoping.

But that wasn't what I was on about. What I want to know is this: when did the Ukraine become "Ukraine"? I hadn't noticed this style change until the furor over the election broke out. Some countries have always been assigned their own definite article "the", as a preservation of some archaic distinction now lost to the mists of time: the Sudan, the Ukraine, the Gambia, the Congo etc. The Gambia and the various Congos retain their definite articles, probably due to their dual-status as both countries and terrain defined by riverine geography. The commonality between these definite-article states seems to be their primary status as geographical, above national, definition. The Sudan was a territory in the geographical sense before becoming a postcolonial state in the political sense; the Ukraine was never a state in its own right, being rather a nomadic plained expanse, debated land between the Russias and the Ottomans.

Note the distinct usages of the definite-article "the" in both of those constructions, one referring to a multiplicity of states/clans/principalities "the Russias", the other to an empire defined by the overlordship of a people "the Ottomans". A fourth usage of definite article "the" is still in official usage, the multiple-entity "the", usually associated with archipelago-states. the Bahamas and St. Vincent and the Grenadines retain these islandic definite articles, although Philipines and Maldives both seem to have lost their "the"s when my back was turned, damnit.

Now that I'm looking, the CIA hasn't yet caught up to the official US recognition of Macedonia as "Macedonia" - they still have them listed as Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of. For shame, that's been in the papers for the better part of a week and a half now. You're not reinforcing defenses of the CIA's competence and efficiency with this sort of slop, Langley.
I had to throw out my old green blanket last month, when I pulled it out and discovered that the spiders had been using it as a handy matrix for their eggsacks. Yech. That blanket has been in my family almost as long as I have. I replaced it with a cheap four-dollar blanket from Walmart. Last night I discovered *why* it was marked down to four dollars. I managed to put my foot right through it, rip, just like that. Oh, well. You get what you pay for.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Not only did the Right Stuf lard my DVD order from them with extraneous printed matter, but they also shipped an unordered, unrequested, unexpected t-shirt, three sizes too small for my fat otaku frame. I found a co-worker small enough to fit into a T medium, although he was rather irate to discover that he was the smallest employee in the company, counting all the women. Waste of shipping space, and fabric. Bah!
I went looking for manga from publishers other than Viz and Tokyo Pop last week, as those two tend to be over-represented in my reading schedule. I picked up Revenge of Mouflon from Raijin and Land of the Blindfolded from CMX, which I think is Central Park Media’s manga publishing subsidiary. [Correction - CMX is actually DC Comics' manga line. Whoops!] Mark recommended Revenge of Mouflon, but I can’t say I was that impressed. It was a worksmanlike, bland thriller, flittering around the edges of a serious subject, post-9/11 hostage drama. I’m getting a little tired of the Japanese inferiority complex about the American military, but it wasn’t as bad as some treatments, I guess...

I see that the new anime Zipang is a Japanese version of that goofy old military time-travel film the Final Countdown, except that instead of sending back the nuclear aircraft carrier Nimitz, it’s a fictional Japanese Aegis cruiser named the Mirai sent back to WWII. (“Mirai”=”future”. Real subtle there, jack.) I have to wonder how the hell they’re going to approach this. Will the creators approach the subject with any sort of objectivity, or is this a Leiji Matsumoto revere-the-heroic-ancestors sort of deal? It’s easier to revere the old butchers, imperialists, and rapists when they’re safely dead and silent, isn’t it, Mr. Japanese Nationalist Historical Blinders Guy? Meh.

Speaking of blindfolding, Land of the Blindfolded is kind of neat - your typical high-school romance, with the minor twist that the minor protagonists are both minorly psychic. The female lead is a touch precog - she sees the likely future of a subject occasionally, when she physically touches said subject. These futures can be changed by intervention, but the results are often unexpected and unintentional. The male lead can only read a person’s past, in partial visions of what definitely was. He’s envious of her vision, because she can do something about what she sees - all he can do is watch. They’re sort of a demonstration of hope and experience - she sees potential, while he can only see the truth. The first volume is sort of thin, but the author doesn’t cheat, and the story is solid in a quiet sort of way. As is usual with a short first volume, the publishers fill the pages out with minor short works from the same author, and unusually for this sort of thing, the shorts are actually worth reading on their own merits. The two shorts, one about a sports-festival romance, and the other a befuddled schoolroom haunting, are affecting and well-written. The author spends her time in the usually-frivolous freetalks discussing her art in an honest and straightforward fashion that I, at least, found refreshing.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Mark Sachs was right, Planetes’ manga is pretty damned keen. I was put off by the anime, because I didn’t appreciate its Japanese-office-comedy-in-EVA-suits approach to orbital garbage collection. It’s very possible that the manga will eventually descend into that sort of cheap, lazy slap-stick, complete with a would-be Hawkeye and office toadies, but the first volume is nothing like that. Oh, there are some of the same characters - a nicotine-crazed female pilot, the headband-wearing, boy-astronaut dreamer, a sad giant of a Russian. But the author does interesting, honest, sincere drama with these characters, in a realistic fashion, and that makes all the difference. The art also seems to stand out in a way that it didn’t in the anime - possibly it’s the heightened fantastical nature of animation over comics, but things that stand out in comics often appear common-place when transcribed to the screen. Possibly it’s the highly variable viewing-space of comics as practiced in the Japanese fashion, possibly it’s just an inherent limitation of animation, I’m not sure. Either way, th splash pages and impressionistic tones of the Planetes manga give the stories so much more resonance, so much more weight, than the anime version, that I’m left wondering about the primacy of the two arts, and whether manga-based anime is ever a good idea...

Friday, November 19, 2004

Was googling around for a description of Hephaistion's tomb, when I came across this livejournal article on Hephaistion and Alexander's postmortem travels and experiences. Some interesting archeological discussion going on there, along with a lot of Ptolemaic-era gossip. Fun stuff, and I still can't understand why rational adults can claim that Alexander's bisexuality is an invention. Yes, there's no "official documents" pointing to the facts of the matter. There *are no contemporary documents* from the period, aside from various monuments, inscriptions, coins, establishments and the like. What, you want a "Alexander+Hephaistion 4eva!" interjection in the middle of a inscription celebrating the foundation of Alexandria Bactria, or a "Give me more triemes, or I'll bugger your first-born!" in the middle of the the second letter to the Chians' demands?

This is a pretty good link-page on the Alexandrine sources. Short version? The earliest complete text is Diodorus from the first century AD; everything prior to that is only available in fragments preserved in other, later works. It's amazing - we have plenty of near-contemporary primary sourcing for events all around Alexander's life, but the great man himself? Centuries out of date, telephone-game phantasias and romantic twaddle intermixed with serious but highly secondary description. For whatever reasons, our preservers of historical documentation chose to maintain copies of Diodorus Siculus instead of Callisthenes, Arrian instead of Cleitarchus, Plutarch instead of Ptolemy. Well, I know why Plutarch instead of Ptolemy - because even the ancients preferred the Stephen Kings of the world over the Hellenistic equivalent of Richard Milhaus Nixon. Bah.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

It’s definitely the silly season, with Californians pushing for a constitutional amendment to allow non-native citizens to run for president, and Vermonters (and Pacific Northwesterners!) making noise about secession. Deep Discount DVD is doing its usual quarterly sale (use the code ‘DVDTALK”), but some sort of bizarre quirk left half of my order out of the finished purchase, leaving me with porn, but no Buffy. Damnit.

The war in Iraq is getting pretty damned bloody, but it feels less insane than it did last fall. Why is that? Is this what they mean about how progress reconciles us to loss? That’s an ill thought. As penance, here’s the address for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, or, alternatively, choose from Wind of Change’s list of charities.

I’m restless and nervous. I can feel my customers getting into all sorts of trouble right over the horizon, but they aren’t calling or emailing. It’s like I’m sitting in the eye of the harvest season - a brief, unearthly silence within the raging storm.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Ever since Grotesque Anatomy went tits-up, I’ve been feeling the lack of a decent manga-blog on my favorites list. I’m currently trying out Comics 212, which has a few interesting posts from the last few months which fill me with unaccustomed optimism.
There was a thank-you party for local activists last night at a hotel in Patton Township thrown by the county Republicans. Sort of a make-up for having thrown the initial victory parties on Election Night, when pollwatchers were still stuck at the various precincts, watching the counting, I guess. I knew more people there than you'd expect, given my anti-social proclivities and general lack of status within the party. (My favorite line from the night - "I don't know, I'm so far down the pecking order that I'm not actually in the Party." I managed to restrain myself from repeating that one, despite the twin temptations of pride and self-amusement.)

I ran into an old friend from my most monstrous job, free-lancing ticket-writing on private property for the Armenians in the late 90's. Melissa had been the secretary for the Armenians while I was one of their house bastards, and she reaped all of the grief I was paid to sow, since the pissed-off ticketees and towees were directed to *her* office, or *her* phone line. I've always felt guilty about that, because although those wankers generally deserved every ounce of grief they were given, it still meant that their ill-directed rage was dumped on Melissa's desk, and she certainly didn't deserve that. She said that she was working for the university now, which is a good thing, I imagine. She had a second son since the last time I saw her, and the family was doing well.

I left after about an hour. I'm just not a social person, even in the best of conditions, and aside from talking to Melissa and her husband, I didn't have much to say to the rest of the crowd other than electoral gossip. Additionally, I had a big pile of books fresh from Amazon to plow through.

I understand that Ann Vennerman has resigned as Secretary of Agriculture. The activists over at Red State are talking about a rumor that she'll be replaced by a Blue-Dog Democrat from the farm belt. I hope not - something ought to be done about the sugar and ethanol subsidies, and that would be a strong sign that no such thing is contemplated, I think. I'm not really tied-in enough with agricultural politics to know who would be a good choice; I suppose a CEO from Syngenta or Monsanto would be a good sign, if rather inciderary.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Do you know how much I hate ordering from Right Stuf? Damn Viz for running an exclusive distribution deal for Maison Ikkoku with them, anyways. Five dollars shipping and handling, they raise their prices after pre-order, and they insist on shipping their goddamn catalog and the same stupid Viz 'sampler' manga that's been handed out free to every mom-and-pop convention on both seaboards for the last year and a half. If you have the extra shipping allowance to send me all this worthless paper, then cut your extortionate S&H!

The Right Stuf catalogs are as big and heavy as the local phone book, and about as interesting. At least the local phone book has reasonably up-to-date phone numbers for the restaurants in town. Paper catalogs are fucking antique! It was cool in 1990, when Nikaku Animart's little zeroxed wads were the main connection between American anime fans and the Golden Land. Thirteen years, people! The world turns, life goes on, and catalogs aren't cool anymore!

Same goes for that idiot Boston clothier that I ordered a knit blouse from a few years ago, for my sister on a Christmas past. They keep sending me snailmail catalogs and come-ons, blowing what I estimate to be some ten dollars at bulk-mail flat rates over a three-year period, on a one-time customer who only spent forty or fifty dollars to start with. The only way I'm ever going to order from you again is if my demonic sister demands another article clothing specifically from your shop. There is no way that I'll ever, of my own inspiration and decision, buy women's clothing from a store three states away. You only got my business because I had a relative in your city. GO AWAY, MORONS.

I feel more guilt about the Pittsburgh SF club which keeps sending me their newsletter via snailmail. I think I gave them ten bucks on a one-time visit five years ago, and they've easily spent that much and more on regular mailings ever since then. I don't read them any more than I read my Simple IRA reports or my MSA bank statements - which is to say, one out of three, I'll crack it open to see what the state of the world is in that particular publication. More a sort of dimly-recalled duty, than actual interest or curiosity. This here "Interweb" thing hasn't been a goofy fad for some five years now, folks. Look into it - much cheaper than bulk-mail newsletters, and environmentally less obnoxious. Seriously.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

In other news, the flags were in their street-side sockets this morning. Must be Veterans' Day.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. The nation remembers your service and your sacrifices. We owe you so very much.

You remembered what honor was, even though some of us couldn't remember a holiday until the local, tireless borough workers waved a half-dozen flags in our groggy faces.
I've been less voluble recently because optimism and good news tends to take all the yell out of me. Bush is good for another term, so there isn't the prospect of Carter II to piss me off. The social conservatives seem to be blowing all of their good will and political capital in beating up on Specter, rather than, you know, saving it up for confirmation battles. As a bonus on that, that rat Specter is getting his, but good. He'll get his chairmanship, but in such a fashion that he'll be less of an ass that he would otherwise be. The war seems to be going well for a change, the homeland terror-warnings are declining, unemployment is down, the White House is making nice with India, there seems to be a notable lack of pogroms in the Caucasus, and Arafat is dead, dead, dead, I tell you, dead!

Ladle that on top of my recent lack of energy, and I'm a quiet kraut, I am. Flipping through some scanslations, and discovering that there's a lot of sucky shoujo manga out there. Let's hear it for the filtering effects of the licensing process! The one manga I took a real shine to, W Juliet, turns out to have just come out in the States, and in a much more readable translation than the fan efforts. Looking forward to finishing reading the Viz version tonight.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I finally finished Ann Wroe's the Perfect Prince, aka Perkin: a Story of Deception. For the longest time, I've been buying these virtuous books, and never finishing the reading of them. Hopefully this'll break that particular habit. It was a fairly interesting book, but I suppose it helps if Tey's the Daughter of Time has warped your fragile little mind. The book is, of course, a life of Perkin Warbeck, otherwise known as Richard, the Duke of York. Wroe's style tends towards the New Journalistic, and she throws in a lot of period-color commentary on social and religious ideas and habits of the early-Renaissance, late-Medieval times, as reflected in Warbeck's multiple alleged lives.

She never really commits to whether he was Piers Warbecque or Richard Plantagenet, preferring to revel in the ambiguities of the evidence. In the epilogue, she starts up a whole new line of inquiry, indicating some evidence that he might have been, in the end, truly a puppet of Margaret of Burgundy. I'd have to call foul on this sort of "evidence introduced in the epilogue", as it's just bad historical form, but her conclusive, fantastical scene of Warbeck drawn through the torments of Purgatory and brought before the Judgement Seat, for one last interrogative, asking what name he would give there in the final reckoning, makes up for many scholarly sins.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Now, you see, this is what I was talking about, when I said that pop culture wasn't cooperating with my attempt to be less political. One of my favorite writers, making noise like he's busy re-writing parts of his long, long, long-overdue book, having been inspired by the prospect of new "repression".

Why are writers such shit-heads when it comes to politics?
I want to start drifting away from politics, now that the election is over. The perpetual campaign is for professionals and fanatics - the rest of us can, should, and ought to live in a (mostly) unpoliticized world. The easiest and fastest way to accomplish this goal is to take a dive into pop culture, which is the lazy man's anti-politics. Unfortunately, pop culture doesn't seem to be cooperating, or else I'm hypersensitive. Well, we'll see... The literary world isn't cooperating, either. Walter Jon Williams' new book was delayed for a year... wish they'd give us a warning *before* it was due to ship.

I've been reading a lot of later volumes of manga series which I've already discussed. In general, there's not a lot I feel compelled to say about on-going series; if it's going well, all I can say is "isn't disappointing yet", and if it didn't pan out, what's there to say other than "no longer interesting, and no longer worth my money"?

Kare Kano, Please Save My Earth, Hikaru no Go, Bleach, Fruits Basket, Hot Gimmick, Cheeky Angel, XXXholic, Tramps Like Us - all of these are manga which I’m currently quite enthusiastic about. I grab new volumes as soon as I can find them.

Instant Teen, Peach Girl, Marmalade Boy, Miracle Girls, Planet Ladder, Vampire Game, Wild Act, Reservoir Chronicle Tsubasa - these have all disappointed me to the point where I’m no longer wasting money or time on them. Well, maybe I’ll flip through the second volume of Instant Teen, but I’m not feeling the love here.

Tuxedo Gin, X:1999, Battle Royale, and Apocalypse Meow are still on the reading list, but I’m not exactly rushing out to scour the shelves for them. Battle Royale especially - it hasn’t disappointed me on a story level, but it’s an ugly story, and I’m not exactly eager to read about schoolchildren butchering each other in the most violent ways imaginable. It’s a “boy, doesn’t mankind suck?” sort of story, which is pretty lowering. Tuxedo Gin, on the other hand, is the airiest of piffle, but it’s amiable piffle. If I’m in the store for something else, I’ll get another volume, but it’s not a priority.

Pfft. I start with the intention of talking about “pop culture”, but never get out of the fanboy ghetto. I’m starting to suspect that I’m just not a pop culture kind of guy.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Ugh. I'm feeling kind of run-down. A combination of Fall-onset asthma and general tiredness, I guess. I like Fall weather, but the sudden onset of cold, wet air does a real number on my lungs, which were badly scarred during a months-long bout with bronchitis in my teens.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The office manager was freaked out by Rush Limbaugh, whom is always being played by the meteorologist who works in the next office over from mine. He was upset over the election already, and then he ran smack dab into Rush being his usual graceless, smirking, carping self. I told said office manager that he ought to listen to Rush no more than I ought to listen to Michael Moore: it'll only end in blood and tears.

Go away, Rush, you fat, worthless blowhard. You're harshing my buzz.
All I saw of Democratic get-out-the-vote operations was my opposite numbers at Bellefonte West and their runner/supervisor, so I pretty much got the grunts-eye-view, but what I saw was pretty organized. They outnumbered me three-to-one, and were well-equipped. They were operating with blank, signed certificates, instead of specifically-assigned certificates, but one of them was the local organizer for the precinct, and she knew the neighborhood far, far better than I did. She more than made up for the two State College people who made up the rest of their pollwatching team. They cycled through as the day wore on, relieving each other and pacing themselves, while I just sat there and chugged. I think we operated at relatively equal efficiency; pollwatching isn’t really something that offers economies-of-scale - you’ve either got an attentive pollwatcher, or you don’t. Having two doesn’t give you any further benefits.

We both were striking off voters from our parties-and-interested-voters list, three columns across, strike the voter off by row as he or she votes. The runners came by for both teams at pre-arranged times, and collected a column at a time, carried off to feed the GOTV call banks. My voter’s list was a simple perforated continuous-feed roll, with the voter’s name, sex, party affiliation, phone number (if available) and registration number. Theirs was a much more complex and small-print set of 8-by-11 sheets in a similar three-column format, but with the addition of tiny addresses, and bar coding, presumably so that they could be scanned for automatic recorded-message calling. They had to mark when the voter voted on each column, which increased their work load; I just had to scratch off the voter across all current columns. This made it easier for me, but harder for the call bank people, who were making personal calls back at the victory center. That is, if they were working my lists at all. As I said earlier, Bellefonte West wasn’t a GOTV priority for the Republicans; I was there because I lived in the precinct.

Anyways, their sheets were harder to work with, and somebody had mucked things up and given them non-perforated sheets to use. They came equipped with scissors, so this was not a last-minute-cockup. The first time they had to separate a column, they managed to ruin the bar-codes, which apparently made that first column useless, and negated the first third of their calling operation from the results. They got it right the second time, and the third time, all we do is hand over the last of the columns, no detachment required.

I was as efficient as I would have preferred; I apparently missed Ray Gricar, the district attorney, when he came in with the judges and ministers. I suspect the other side made their own mistakes as well. I’ll be curious to see if the call bank people actually used what I gave to our runner. I’m still not sure if I accomplished anything other than helping the poll ladies break down the voting “machines” after they were turned off and no longer statute-sensitive. Those things are cleverly built - they fold down into compact, slightly oversized suitcases, with the legs folded under and clipped into slots recessed below the base of the “machine”. I say “machine” instead of machine, because these things are basically elaborate tables with table-lamps built into them; the only moving parts in them are designed to allow the contraption to fold in on itself for transportation and storage. I hadn’t touched the “machines” until the actual ballot-manipulating portions of the equipment had been removed and put over with the other sensitive material.

Most of the poll precinct was off limits to me and my dirty, partisan fingers, so I mostly stood around with my wrists clamped restlessly behind the small of my back, resisting the urge to be “helpful”. I hate standing around being useless.
Well, heck. I have to say, that greatly improves my opinion of Kerry. I must have mis-read his character if he was capable of conceding in this situation. Good for him - he put the good of the nation above his party interest, or at least, the perceived interest of the party among the activists. In the end, of course, the nation's interest is synonymous with the interest of the Democratic Party; when it ceases to be so, so should the party. The same is true for the Republican Party - when it ceases to align its interests with the interests of the nation - let it go, let it pass.

Enough of lawyers; there's a war to win and a country to govern. Hopefully we can get back to politics, and let go of the crusades and witch hunts.

A solid course of humble seems in order, people. I know how tempting it is to rub it in; resist it. It's a temptation. Republicans, remember: this is not a coalition for the ages - this is not carte blanche. Act with moderation and restraint. There are people out there who are going to take this as the end of civilization; let's not chase them any farther around the bend than they already are.

As hard as everyone campaigned, it was still a hair's whisker. Be humbled by a close win, and by the example of the other party's gracious concession.
On the other hand, now's about the time to do a little dance on the metaphorically whitened skull of al Queda. We managed to get through the election without the negative attentions of our Islamo-fascist enemies on these fair shores. The closest thing to such an event was the murder of a film director in Amsterdam, apparently. All that fucker bin Laden could do to interfere with our elections was to make a documentary. Four years after 9/11, and our greatest enemy has been reduced to recycling Michael Moore propaganda. That's pretty goddamn good. I was sort of expecting something this season, some sort of effort, if not a successful one.

Al Queda is starting to look like a regional threat, rather than a global one. They've been clipped, and good. This is excellent news, or rather, lack of same. It means that our national problem is less al Queda, than Iranian nukes. Of the two, I thought that internationalist terror would be the more intractable problem. I guess I was wrong.

Oh, btw - we had a hair under 74% turnout in Bellefonte West. It was really heavy in the morning, but by ten, it eased off, and it never really took seriously off again. It was dead after seven in the evening. We kept hearing horror stories about the State College precincts and Spring Township, but the little old ladies managed to crunch through the turnout without terrible waits. I heard one of them comparing it to the "Kennedy election", which gives you some idea of how long they've been doing this sort of thing.

I was sitting and wondering how many of them come down with the flu or colds after coming in physical contact with every single active voter in a single day at the beginning of flu season. They came in before me, and were still patiently counting when my lazy ass gave up and went home to watch cable. Admittedly, I had work in the morning, but I don't feel great about that...
There's a big fuss over provisional ballots in Ohio. Don't know how that's going to work out over there, but here in Bellefonte, I have to say that it didn't look like a big partisan issue. We had less than a dozen provisional ballots in a ward with over nine hundred votes. More than half of those provisionals were due to a precinct-line dispute between the inhabitants of West 5th Avenue, on the northern edge of Bellefonte Borough, and the county. It seems that the borough border runs down the middle of West 5th Avenue, such that the north side is Spring Township, and the south side is the borough. When they reapportioned the precincts, they placed the whole of West 5th Avenue in Spring Township, such that those voters, who have been in the borough forever, and who pay borough taxes, now find themselves in the township instead. A number refused to go vote at the township building, and cast provisionals in Bellefonte West.

This year, I can't see how it matters, as there were no local offices up for election. (Didn't stop one fool from writing in a candidate for a council office which wasn't up for election, though. More on why write-ins suck later.) Next year, when these voters are deprived of the chance to vote for (or against) the people who are directly responsible for their local income taxes and setting their property taxes, I can definitely see where they'll have a serious beef.

But, as I said, more than half of our provisionals had nothing to do with party politics, and everything to do with a precinct border dispute. The one real "political" provisional was some woman who kept going on about how she had been somebody in the Clinton administration, and yadda yadda yadda.

Oh, yeah - write-ins. People, don't do write-ins. Please. For the sake of the poor little old ladies who have to stay up past midnight slaving over punch-cards on election night, if nothing else. The procedure for dealing with write-ins in a proper fashion is long, elaborate, redundant, and painful. A good 75% of the write-ins were absolute lunatic gibberish, so they didn't count for anything, even in a theoretical sense. Because the courts struck Nader off the ballot, we did have Nader write-ins. Two of them, out of more than nine hundred. The rest of the write-ins were gibberish, as people tried to vote a state representative candidate into the US representative seat, or attempted to vote for three state representative districts simultaneously, or vote for seats which weren't up for election. Happily, no-one tried to vote for Mickey Mouse for President, or Son Gokuu for Auditor General, or any other deep silliness. But the point remains: write-ins exist for one main reason - to keep cranks happy. Don't be a crank. Mad, scraggly and incoherent is no way to go through life.
A few things...

You could really tell that Bellefonte West mattered more to the Democrats than the Republicans. The Republican presence was effectively me, and I'm technically a Democrat. There were three Democratic pollwatchers, two for the party and one for "Rich Rogers", although it turned out that the guy didn't even know Rogers to see him, and was just there on a certificate signed by Rogers instead of the party. In addition, there was a rolling two-to-three activist presence outside of St. John's, doing whatever it was that they do out there outside of the ten-foot-limit, which got stretched to more like eighty because of the long, easy-to-block entrance passage to the basement of the church, enclosed on both sides by tall stone walls. I didn't get out there, so all I knew of what they were doing was through the occasional campaign sticker appearing on a voter, and the yellow paper whatever-it-was everybody was clutching.

The judge of elections made a fuss if she noticed someone wearing electioneering gear, so I didn't make myself too obnoxious on the subject, even though they were technically violations. She had to make a minor scene when the Democratic candidate for the local state rep. district, Rich Rogers, came in with his family, all of them wearing various campaign stickers and buttons. This isn't his first campaign, and he should know the electioneering laws by now; he had no business hauling his little daughter into a polling precinct wearing advertising for his campaign. I am much happier about my vote for Benninghoff now that I've seen what an idiot Rogers can be in action.

The other particularly interesting voter we had come through Bellefonte West was an honest-to-god skinhead Nazi. Shaved bald, long, villainous chin-beard, and a dark green approximation of a Waffen-SS "Tottenkopf" uniform, complete with stylized "SS" insignia, and bloused into his combat boots, paratrooper-style. When the lady collecting ballots for the box asked him what the get-up was about, he mumbled something about "army". Pretty much all the poll-workers and watchers were bug-eyed, including me, and both I and my Democratic opposites rushed to make sure that he wasn't on our lists. He wasn't - he was an independent. My best guess, based on the uniform color, was that he was a "Green" - after all, Hitler had been an environmentalist.
It's been a very busy forty-eight hours. I'll probably get into it when I have time this morning and afternoon. Long story short, I did more door-to-door, and did my pollwatching in Bellefonte, leaving about quarter to eleven when I discovered that I couldn't transmitt my numbers to the party folks, and had observed that the pollworkers were going to take at least another hour to fix a mis-count of one ballot in the ward - their totals weren't exactly adding up.

Looks like Bush lost Pennsylvania, but probably won enough across the country to carry him over the finish line. Seems the're being pokey about a bunch of states, no doubt we'll all be suspended for a while. Off to go webcrawl, and work.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

We got a late start today due to it being Sunday, and an early end, due to it being Fall after the end of Daylight Savings Time, which means that the sun sets long before you get anything of significance done. I was working a Ferguson precinct today, in the southern end of Park Forest and the neighborhoods north of the Blue Course. Park Forest is a sea of falling leaves, and half of that neighborhood was out in their yards, beating the leaf situation into submission.

Had one registered Republican with a huge yard absolutely full of Kerry/Edwards signs tell me with a straight face that he was “undecided”. Apparently this is code for “I don’t want to talk about it”. Given that he was the one with the weedwacker in his hands, I hope he wasn’t feeling “intimidated” or anything...

Is it just me, or are the Kerry/Edwards signs getting redder and redder as the season wears on? At the beginning of the campaign, they were a balanced if garish red/blue field, but lately the red borders are getting fatter and fatter and wider and wider. Almost looks like the “Kerry/Edwards” is drowning in a sea of blood or something. I wonder if it’s intentional? Some sort of peacenik code?

On the way out of the campaign office, I walked past an old coot in an undignified “Kerry/Edwards” t-shirt. He avoided my eyes in a very exaggerated fashion - staring down and away as he circled around me on the pavement. This pissed me off, and I yelled at him something to the effect of “if you can’t meet someone’s eyes, you might want to think again about your choice of candidate”. I mean, he almost seemed... ashamed. No doubt he felt “intimidated” by the fact that there was someone wearing a small “W ‘04” button on the same sidewalk as him, but really, I wasn’t doing anything other than trying to meet his eyes, and smiling.

Oh, well. People say I’m naturally intimidating, even when I’m not doing anything in particular.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

I managed to get about five hours of door-to-door GOTV today, before hitting the wall and calling it a day. This is is reason #2312 why being a fat, out-of-shape otaku kind of sucks. Before I crapped out for the day, I managed to hit a good number of houses out in the suburban/farm country between Blanchard Street, Bishop Street, and Rt. 220/Rt. 26 - the "Spring South" precinct. I had thought that area was Benner Twp, I am now properly educated - it's Spring Twp. The houses are pretty spread out up that way, especially along Weaver Hill Road, which did the most to knock my legs out from under me.

The easiest part was the last thirty minutes before lunchtime, when I and the three out-of-county volunteers which I started with charged down Blanchard, skipping from townhouse complex to townhouse complex to get as many households as possible before the out-of-county kids had to take off for home. There are at least three very compact townhouse clusters along Blanchard, which have sprung up in the last five years or so. They're about as close as you get to population concentration in that precinct. For the most part, it's strips of oddly designed suburban-type houses on huge properties interspersed with soybean fields, grazing land, and the occasional farmstead.

There are some really excellent prospects along Weaver Hill Road. If I could actually, you know, afford a house, I'd love a place out on that road. Great view of both the Bald Eagles and the Nittanies, with farmland stretching in every direction. Very Republican folks up there. What few Bush/Cheney signs that have survived to this point are to be found out that way.

I'm going to try and work door-to-door again tomorrow, and then again on Monday. Hopefully my short hours today will mean that I have some get-up-and-go tomorrow.

State College is getting a little freaky. There are Kerry/Edwards signs everywhere, and sign-waving people are starting to get kind of in-your-face about it. Of course, it might have had something to do with the fact that I was still wearing a "W in '04" button as identification for the door-to-doors, and sitting, exhausted, in front of the Republican campaign office. Eh, never mind.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Megan McCardle of Asymmetrical Information, guest-blogging on Instapundit, summing up why she's coming down off the fence in favor of George Bush:

"Ultimately, I've decided to take the advice of a friend's grandmother, who told me, on her wedding day, that I should never, ever marry a man thinking he'd change."
Here is Greenwood, better-known among tedious fanboys like yours truly as Koko wa Greenwood, is a pretty old manga. Most folks in the States know it by the highly amusing early-90s six-episode OAV series of the same name. Viz has started publishing the original manga, and I read the first volume yesterday. I looked at the original untranslated version a long time ago, when a roommate bought the set from a used-manga shop in Edgewater, but enough of the humor is verbal that it didn’t mean much to my Japanese-illiterate ignorance. The translated version made me laugh, repeatedly, in public.

It’s a boarding-school comedy, set at a famed all-boys academy in, of course, Tokyo. Our protagonist is a much-put-upon everyboy who’s living in student housing to avoid his insufferable older brother and his new wife, for whom our hero is holding a silly-school-boy torch - enough so that he was hospitalized for a month with a perforated ulcer. The manga starts more slowly than the anime did, but then, those six-episode OAV series were always, always distillations of the “high points” of their respective mangas, and thus generally came on like a freight train on fire.

The art-style is very much mid-Eighties shoujo, and looks similar to - oh, say, Please Save My Earth, another long-running shoujo manga from the same period, also given a distilled-six-episode-OAV treatment. There aren’t a lot of ziptones, but the backgrounds are well-populated, and this isn’t one of those spare-zen-whitespace affairs, or abstract-emotional-filler-background melodramas. You’ll have the occasional impressionistic arrangements of flowers in the backgrounds, but it’s not like the riot of folliage which Please Save My Earth’s mangaka is inclined to produce.

One of the distinctive qualities of Here is Greenwood is its portrayal of women as mildly predatory, and its teenaged boys as coquettish and aloof. Schoolgirls invade the boys’ dorm on daredevil raids, perform drive-by groping attacks, and chase them through streets to force chocolates on them for Valentine’s Day. Creepy older women appear, and attempt to bribe underage boys into dubious situations.

All in all, I had a lot of fun with it. I look forward to the next volume. If you can get past the slightly dated art style, there’s a lot of low-key amusement to be had.
I was particularly useless last night at the campaign office, but then, nothing much was happening other than ticket-issuance for today's Bush 41 event on campus. The phonebankers had burned through the entire calling list about a half-hour after I arrived on the scene, not that anyone in their right mind would ever put me on a phone bank. One good thing about the Republican way of politicking? One single calling operation, instead of a smallish party operation and dozens of uncoordinated 527, 501(c)3, and unidentifiable "nonpartisan" GOTV outfits, all of them calling everybody two or three or four or a dozen times. They’ll start in on the phonebanking again this weekend, with a focus on uncertain voters, and explicit get-out-the-vote agendas. I think.

The Halloween parade was marching through State College, right in front of the campaign office. It's been years since I saw one - when did the marching band start dressing in costume? We had folks with costumed kids in tow come in and out of the office all night, including a particularly cute little boy costuming as Dubya who came specifically to pose with the Bush standup cutout for a photograph.

Somebody told the underemployed volunteers to start blowing up balloons, for what purpose, nobody was quite sure. So, while one of the organizers was agitating for "cleaning up clutter", we were busy adding to the clutter by blowing up dozens and dozens of balloons, which accumulated in the under-utilized back section of the office. Eventually, we shovelled them all behind a desk at the back of the building, only popping a half-dozen or so in the process. There was some old Rendell material back there, from the last time the Democrats used that storefront for their campaign office.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

This "Ode to a Wahabbi Jihadist" is brilliant. Great conclusion.
Some idiot had a "Paterno for Congress" sign out on Water Street down by Spring Creek. Not only are we not in the 17th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, (we're in Peterson's Pennsylvania 5th up here) we're not even close to the district borders. Water Street isn't even the natural road for Pennsylvania 17th voters to drive on the way to and from Penn State games - see this map. Now, I understand why Paterno is campaigning at Penn State home game tailgates - Penn State grads make up a significant percentage of Pennsylvania's voting population, and a lot of those folks come driving up to Happy Valley for the games. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a greater-than-normal percentage in the 17th district - it's a mostly rural, upstate district, and the rural upstates tend to come to PSU instead of the other state colleges and universities, such as Pitt or Temple, which tend more suburban/urban. But don't waste your advertising here on the north end of the valley!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Busy night last night at the State College campaign office. Lots of college kids on the phone bank, while I stuffed envelopes. Not exactly the most productive of volunteer activities, but trust me - my phone skills are not l33t. Ad-hoc phone banks can get pretty cacaphonous, and last night certainly bore that out.

Mmm. Blogspot's been pretty slow the last few days, and now Amazon seems to be broken. Is there some sort of viral storm this week?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

OK, I just got some helpful spam carefully and painstakingly directing me to a totally bogus polling precinct over on High Street, which tells me that there’s a lot of misinformation floating around this year about Bellefonte’s poll precinct locations. Here we go, folks:

01. Bellefonte North
Logan Fire Hall, 120 E. Howard St. (Main Entrance)

This is for the north end of town, presumably the Curtin Hill folks, extending out to where Water Street merges with Allegheny Street in front of the water gap. This is the fire company behind the Bellefonte post office, across the street from one of our two FVW halls, and catty-corner from the Bellefonte Library. Turn right off of Allegheny Street driving north away from the Courthouse, or left driving south towards the Courthouse. Don’t take my word for which precinct you’re actually in - check your voter’s registration card, it will give a precinct name and location.

02. Bellefonte Northeast
Crestside Terrace, 602 East Howard St. (Main Entrance)

This is for the northeast section of town, the various suburban tracts out past the middle school and north of the high school - but it’s hard to mark the borders without a proper precinct map, so consult your registration card. Crestside Terrace is a large redbrick retirement home on Howard Street, on a slight rise over the eastern end of Union Cemetery, near the corner of Howard and Wilson Streets.

03. Bellefonte South
St. John's Auditorium, 130 E. Bishop St.

This is St. John the Evangelist Church (Catholic), on Bishop Street, right across the street from the *other* fire company in town, Undine. I’m going to guess that this precinct covers the area between the courthouse and the south edge of town, extending I-don’t-know-how-far west. Again, check your registration card.

04. Bellefonte Southeast
Faith United Methodist Church, 512 Hughes St. (Back Entrance, Room 51)

This is probably the hardest precinct to find in Bellefonte, just because it’s off all the major thoroughfares. This is in the neighborhood on the south side of Bishop Street, east of Blanchard, west of the high school. Heading north on Bishop Street away from the centre of town, turn right on Hughes Street before you hit the high school. It’s a residential street, so you may have some trouble finding the church - it should be two blocks back from Bishop Street. Keep an eye out for the big water tower - the church is just north of that tower, which is visible throughout that neighborhood. This precinct is probably for those south of Bishop and east of Blanchard, but again - check your cards.

05. Bellefonte West
St. John’s United Church Of Christ, 135 W. Linn Street Bellefonte (Fellowship Hall - Use front entrance)

This is my precinct, which suggests that it encompasses the centre of town, as well as the west end of town, Half Moon Hill, and the neighborhood along Spring Street. St. John’s United Church of Christ is on the corner of Spring Street and Linn Street, which for that brief two-block section, is part of Route 144. Please note that the building we’re talking about for Bellefonte West is neither the Catholic St. John’s, nor the Episcopal St. John’s on the same block, over on Allegheny Street. I repeat, corner of Linn and Spring Streets. And check your voter’s registration card.
This made me laugh and laugh and laugh... thanks, Doktor Frank!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Argh! There are five precincts in Bellefonte, and two of them are in churches named St. John’s, neither of them the St. Johns (St. John Episcopal Church - Episcopal) I thought they were talking about. I’m currently signed up to do pollwatching in the wrong precinct - Bellefonte South, in the St. John’s (St. John the Evangelist Church - Catholic) over on Bishop Street, whereas I’m registered to vote in Bellefonte West, in a St. John’s (St John Church of Christ -well, dur) on Linn Street, which I think is that squarish Gothic church facing the north side of that Elementary School. What conspiracy of brilliancy and subtlety resulted in the establishment of three “St. Johns” within four blocks of each other?

No wonder G.T. was so confused when I offered that I thought I was in "Bellefonte North". I'm not in "Bellefonte South", that's for sure.
Although the election threatens to make political bores of us all, the world does continue to spin round while we, in amber, hang suspended, awaiting the moment of decision. Dave A, a noted nonreader, has suddenly started devouring George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I just loaned him the second and third volumes.

I mostly hung out at his place last weekend, helping him clean things out & helping him and his folks move some new couches in to replace the wrecked old set. I kind of miss the old Quest Labs days, when we had a balcony to fling unsatisfactory furniture off of, onto the grass below. They made quite amusing shattering noises, when the impact broke whatever remnants of a back said furniture might still have possessed. It was ever so much more easier than trying to get the couches out the tight corridors... You don’t get that visceral joy from furniture-disposal in a ground floor apartment. I mean, you can batter a couch pretty thoroughly by repeatedly flipping it end-for-end through the grass and over the asphalt, but it takes a lot of energy and wind to do that sort of damage, without the gravitational advantage of a good, solid couch-defenestration.

I’m reading a lot of Walter Jon Williams, in anticipation of the publishing-date of the last book in his Dread Empire’s Fall space opera, coming up at the beginning of next month. Martin and Williams are the two authors I go to the trouble of ordering British editions from for; of course, they’re also the two authors I read mostly likely to get printed in Great Britain *before* getting printed here in North America, so there might be a bit of selection-bias going on here. I really like Williams, and he keeps getting better. I’m reading City on Fire right now, and it just feels so heavily predictive, prescient even, of the current troubles. It’s a damned shame that he never got the chance to finish the trilogy - City on Fire and Metropolitan cry out for a proper ending.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Armed Liberal of Winds of Change came off the fence yesterday, in a post that I agree with in almost every particular. For all the abuse I've subjected him to, all the nasty comments to the effect of "shit or get off the pot", all the irritable complaints, I heartly apologize. I think he made the right decision, but I recognize that many will not agree.

I just want to make sure that those that don't agree are kept far from the levers of foreign policy and national leadership.

I walk about these days with an orator-self fuming, constantly, sulfurously, against the Kerry-Edwards and the Moores of the world, ringing in the empty spaces between my ears. I try to avoid subjecting you, my few readers, to those ephemeral rantings. I have come to the conclusion that I am a terrible changer of minds. I am brusque, hostile, extreme and overbearing. I am impatient with detail, and overly-fond of intemperate hammer-blow rhetoric.

I found the Zell Miller speech in NYC to be absolutely delightful; those who saw or heard the speech and agree that it was truth-telling, will agree with me, but then, they were already likely to do so in the first place. Those who found Miller frightening, threatening, incomprehensible and dangerous, will probably react in a similar fashion to my attempts at persuasion. But, nevertheless, it is my duty as a citizen of this country, and my commonwealth, to try.

I do not believe in perfections, and so am not overly-distressed when the people who I choose as leaders fail to achieve in a manner satisfactory to those who judge by a standard of perfection. I believe that no plan survives contact with the enemy, that the other guy has a vote, that perfection is the enemy of good enough, and that a flawed decision now is worth ten thousand perfect decisions delivered too late to matter.

I believe that legislators do not make good executives, and that governors, mayors, and CEOs are preferable to senators, representatives, and trial lawyers.

I believe that in a time of war, foreign policy is paramount, that trade policy is secondary, that economic policy is tertiary, and that all else is grass.

I believe that excessive concern for civil liberties in time of war is a species of myopia, and that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. I also believe that ground lost today on civil liberties can be recovered tomorrow, and that perspective in such matters is not only laudable, but intellectually mandatory.

I believe the current administration, while being by no means laudable, is the least worst option available to the voters in the current election.

I believe that we are least likely to see the use of nuclear weapons, in threat or practice, in the next four years, under a Republican administration.

I believe in preventative war. I believe that pacifism is intellectual suicide looking to share. I believe in a strong military, and wish for a stronger one, preferably by voluntary means.

I believe I'll vote for Bush on Nov. 2nd, and I ask that you join me in doing so.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Law and Order will be on the air until our new Islamic overlords hack off the last head in Burbank, and even then, it'll probably just turn into Shari`ah and Tawhid.
Days of wrath, innit? Oh, well.

I'm going to be a pollwatcher here in Bellefonte, unless I get run over or otherwise discommoded between now and election day. Part of the 72 hour volunteer thing, don'tchaknow.

What’s a pollwatcher, you ask? It’s a relatively new innovation in the science of political busybodying. The traditional partisan line of attack on Election Day is to place people outside the no-electioneering limits of the precincts, to hand out literature, recommend candidates, and generally pester the public. Someone figured out, in this, our new millennium, that if a body has managed to drag him or herself to the polls, they’ve already made some sort of decision as to who they want at the top of the ticket, if not further down the list with the Attorney Generals, Treasurers, Recorders of Deeds, and Dogcatchers. So, from a presidential-election point of view, pestering folks on the way to the polls is *not* the way to maximize your vote turnout. You irritate your own supporters, who know their own damn minds, thank you very goddamn much, putz, and enrage your opponent’s voters, who probably hate your partisan ass anyways.

So, they decided to put the volunteers to some other task, which was more likely to get votes added. A pollwatcher is a state-certified observer of the precinct for a particular party or candidate. Each party and candidate gets so many certificates for each precinct. We’re going to be standing there, behind the judges of election, listening with pen poised while they read off who’s come to vote. We’ll have lists - hopefully accurate! - of Republicans in the precinct, which we’ll strike off as they come to vote. Every once in a while, some other activists will come by to pick up the list of those who haven’t made it in yet, and tote it off to central call centers. There, volunteers will be calling and bugging the missing Republicans, asking them if they’re planning to vote, offering rides to the precinct, when can we expect you, etc. Then they’ll send out the drivers to pick up those who need rides, and so on. Repeat every couple of hours until the polls close. For those people who plan to vote later in the day, fair warning - you’re going to get pestered by the local volunteer hordes until you show up and get your name struck from the pollwatchers’ tally.

The pollwatchers, of course, have another purpose - the one that used to be their primary function, and which will be of fairly high importance in those parts of the country where the registration schmucks have been kicking up mud and making a mess of things. If there’s any irregularities with a voter, we’re supposed to register an objection. Namely, we recognize that the voter isn’t who he says he is, or it’s the third time today that this woman’s been in to vote, or “I saw that name on a gravestone up in Union Cemetary”, or whatever. I’m not to expect that sort of thing in Bellefonte, but there’s an outside chance of something happening in State College, and they’re fairly certain that it’s going to be a lively November 2nd in Philadelphia, where there’s more registered voters than living adults in the census estimate.

At the close of polls, the pollwatcher hangs around to observe the judges of election open up the ballot-box, count the spoiled ballots, count the contents of the ballot-box, add the two sums together, and make sure that everything adds up. Then, we wait while they count. And count. And count. The lady from Centre Hall says that this usually takes until at least 11 PM, and probably will go later this year, given all the new voters and such. Finally, when they’re done with the count, we’re supposed to call in the totals to the people at the campaign offices, and watch them truck off the ballot-box to the county offices over on Willowbank. Yay.

They were talking about getting a watcher in every precinct in the county, until the guy-in-charge clarified that they weren't talking about precincts like Curtin West, which apparently consists of "thirteen voters, twelve of them hard-core Democrats". Could you imagine sitting in a pissed-off-partisan-someone's parlor for fourteen hours, clutching your pollwatching certificate, while you wait for said pissed-off-partisan-someone's dozen or so relatives to drift through to make their votes? If Curtin West consists of the "town" I'm thinking of, it's basically a half-block of ruinous student slum dumped at the bottom of a heavily wooded ravine way the hell up the Allegheny Plateau at the end of a logging road. It's as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get on this side of the Mississippi. Someone noted that they didn't think it would be "safe" to send a pollwatcher up there. I think they were half-joking.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Crawling out from under a pile of email and faxes to wave, weakly, at the half-dozen or so whom I've been shorting posts. Why, again, did they have to set election-day in the midst of the harvest season? Weren't we a nation of agrarians back then? I can't help but think it was a conspiracy of Alexander Hamilton and his cabal of industrializing banker-conspiratorialists. Disadvantaging the farmers by voting while the harvests were distracting everyone! Diabolical!

No wonder American Grange and farming-reformist factions have always, historically, been bugfuck nuts. The screaming craziness of politics while the crops need tending is bound to drive even the sanest and most stable to distraction.

While I'm waiting for some Louisiana data to process, I suppose I'll go on a bit about manga and anime I've been sampling recently...

Wallflower (aka Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge) is more odd than great. The female protagonist, Sunako, isn't exactly likeable, in that she's basically batshit. She talks to skulls and transparent-anatomy dolls, has all the fashion-sense and charm of Sadako from the Ring, and easily confuses people for angels. She was deranged by a harsh rejection by her "first love", and now she hangs out in the dark and obsessively watches slasher movies. Her aunt tries to reform her by luring four bishounen contemporaries into taking her on as a renovation-project by promising free rent if they can turn her into a proper young lady. Through the end of the first volume, all they've managed to accomplish is to move her from hebephrenic, morose shut-in to violently homicidal borderline-dominatrix. It's the sort of shoujo manga where you're supposed to be drooling over the sexpot bishie male leads. Since I'm not really prone to that sort of thing, I'm missing at least half of the attraction of the presentation. I will note that I had real trouble keeping the four bishies straight, or even remembering their names. They seem to be somewhat lacking in personality. But since Sunako has enough personality - and personalities - for three heroines, I suppose it all balances out.

Via Dave's magic anime-sampler, I've been working my way through the new Fall offerings.

Sunabouzou is, unexpectedly, a fun shoot-'em-up postapocalyptic comedy, featuring a diminutive "monk" in heavy desert-gear, so heavy that you never actually see any of his features. It looks sort of like Fist of the North Star with the role of Ken played by a smartass, faceless midget with a pump-action shotgun. Looks like it'll be this season's Bandit King Jing.

Gankutsuou, a loose SF adaptation of the Count of Monte Cristo set on the moon, is this season's Gonzo eyecandy. It's got a very distinctive visual aesthetic, relying heavily on shifting texture-patterns to produce a sort of slow kaleidoscope swirl. The first episode didn't really get too deep into the plot, but it was all very atmospheric and harrowing. Gonzo has a studio-wide habit of promising more with first episodes than they ever deliver, mostly due to a very limited and shallow writers' bench. But, since this is an adaptation of a classic novel, it's possible that they might dodge the usual Gonzo curse. I have my hopes.

Grenadier is a transgendered Trigun, set in a Japanese-themed world instead of the pseudo-Western setting of Vash and the girls. I found myself rooting for the Darwinian extermination of idiot samurai trying to fight heavily-armed riflemen with swords, so I suspect I'm not exactly the ideal audience for this sort of we're-pacifists-but-we-want-the-fun-of-an-action-show-anyways hypocrisy. It doesn't help that the show's called "Grenadier", but the protagonist uses a pistol. I recognize that "Pistoleer" is a stupid name for a show, but really - there's a lot of thesauruses in the world, people. Put some work into it. Call it "Musketeer" and give her a slightly longer carbine-pistol, and not only would you have a more apropos title, you'd also have a protagonist who only performs unlikely feats with weaponry, rather than outright impossibilities such as rapid-fire sniping at a distance of a half-mile with a pistol.

Tsukuyomi Moon Phase is about a psychically blind occult-photographer who finds a cute, bubbly little gothic-lolita vampire in a ruined castle in the Black Forest. Much atmospheric, pretty scenery and saccharine predation ensues. No there there, but it's got it's moments. Real "shut your mind off and coast" material.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Just got back from a weekend in the People's Republic of Maryland, on an intensive planning meeting for the Convention. Jessica was there, despite her vows to divorce herself from the all-devouring, all-consuming beast. Nice to see you, Jessica. Lots of arguing, long, boring meetings in between. Nothing I can really talk about in detail.

Dave and I left early, hoping to get back here at a reasonable hour. Instead, we got stuck in a congealed traffic jam on Seven Mountains, clotted up behind a multi-car accident which sealed the Potter's Mills gap into Happy Valley. Worst place in the state for such an accident. We sat there for over an hour until finally giving up, getting into the valley via the McAvey's Fort entrance along Rt. 26. More than two hours just to get into the valley. I heard that it was an RV which wiped out, taking a bunch of cars with it in the narrows. We saw an emergency vehicle from the valley come all the way out to the open area on top of Seven Mountains, because it was the first place that vehicle could turn around. Tight quarters.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Why I'm glad I don't live in Japan. The idea that a publisher would yank a comic because it portrayed something true, simply because a large segment of the population prefers the deliberate lies offered in their school textbooks... well, that just sucks. See also this Anime News Network notice.

This is the one thing that makes me worry about democracies in practice - their capacity for self-delusion. With the Japanese, it's the Rape of Nanking and the evils of the militarist era. With the Turks, it's the Armenian genocide. I'm afraid that the Europeans are turning back again to an open embrace of anti-Semitism. This is the point at which my natural skepticism leaves me very, very cold. Because I don't have faith in an Almighty, belief in the people is essentially a gamble, that wisdom is inherent in the untrammelled long-term expression of the aggregate.

Is the American delusion isolation - the closing-inwards? Will later generations see a shrivelled, bitter America, locked behind heavily patrolled walls, sealed off from the outer world? Will they buy only from each other, sell only to each other, let no immigrants in or jobs out? Will our foreign policy be nothing more than "fuck off and die, foreigner"? Would they be paranoid about the corrupting influence of alien cultures? Would their textbooks be full of the wisdom of Lindbergh, Moore, and Buchanan, who knew that nothing was wrong with America, which couldn't be fixed by the excision of the external? Will they teach their children that the American Empire was a long nightmare of wickedness? That the only thing which ever mattered was the Republic, unchanging, eternal, a blood-line of land and culture, home and hearth? That any engagement of the greater world, any intrusion from without, was an abomination - a sign of the souring of Republic into Empire?

I think I would hate that America. I would never see it come to pass, if I had the saying.
I have an admission: I cheated. I didn't listen to most of the debate. I spent an entire dinner-hour eating at McDonalds and reading Othello, which is a somewhat gimmicky multiple-personality schoolgirl manga. I kind of listened to the last twenty minutes or so while playing Advance Wars 2 on my GBA, but really, I was just marking time until the Fox and CNN spinhounds called it. The Fox people were all "Bush routed him", but there weren't as many analysts on Fox this time - no Juan Williams, no Mara Liasson. What's up with that? The CNN folks were trying to call it for Kerry, but their hearts didn't sound in it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Speaking of patchouli stench, here's a heads-up about a possible new wave of blogroach "diplomats" going virtually door-to-door. Be sure you're stocked up on roach motels, folks!
There are very few things in this world I hate. Disapprove of? Yes, of course - the list is endless. But that visceral, full-body despite which grabs you by the ear and pulls your heel and twists you into a veritable pretzel of antipathy? That's a rarity.

I hate patchouli. Hate the stench, hate the miasma it brings with it, hate the way I can't breathe when some potheaded head-shop patron is upwind, hate the way it almost yellows the air around the afflicted. It's potent, it's vile, and it lingers. Lingers like a fart at a black-tie affair. Lingers like Ralph Nader on the political scene. Lingers like a bad belief. You can smell a hippie drenched in patchouli from thirty feet away; more if there's no breeze.

No, I'm not allergic. It's just noxious.

Why, yes, yes I ran into one of the Patchouli tribe today. My new manga stink of her "perfume". I suspect they'll be stinking so for the next couple of days or so, if I don't hose them down with some alternative stink. Even then, I fear they'll just stink of patchouli and violets, or some other, even more horrid combination. Is there such a thing as anti-stink, of stink repellant?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Steven Den Beste, who gave up on serious political and technical matters the month before last, has converted his essay blog into a new project called Chizumatic, an all-anime, all-otaku, all-the-time lark. His approach to the Hobby is somewhat overly serious to my mind, but he can amuse, and about half the articles he's posted so far are interesting in one way or another.
Goddamnit! Will everybody just calm down and stop breaking into campaign offices?
More fall anime...

Top o Narae 2, erroneously called "Gunbuster 2" throughout fandom for reasons involving the alternate name of the original Top o Narae which are too stupid to get into here, is not nearly as abominable as I presumed it to be, based on the character design sheets and the Japanese website. Of course, it's not really much at all like the original Top o Narae/Gunbuster. What it is, based on the first episode, is a FLCL-flavored comedic bug-hunt using designs lifted liberally from Giant Robo & Macross Plus, and backgrounds left over from Wings of Honneamise. There are interesting things going on, although a lot of that is counter-acted by the painfully cliche "Onee-sama! Onee-sama!" whining of the dim-witted, clutzy, supernaturally destructive protagonist. It's worth watching, I'll give it that. Mark me down "surprised".

How to Raise Kappas, on the other hand, is painfully unfunny, boring, and not worth my time, let alone yours. Come on, people - they're cute little supernatural asshole-vampires! How could you not find the funny in that? Somehow, they managed.

School Rumble came highly recommended by the crowd over at Megatokyo. Eh. It's mildly amusing, and it keeps up a sort of comedic momentum, which puts it ahead of Sensei no Ojikan in the "Azumanga Daioh knockoff" sweepstakes. I never thought I'd hear myself saying this, but there wasn't nearly enough of the juvenile delinquent protagonist, and too much of the doofus cute-girl protagonist. We'll see if they keep it up - it might be worthwhile, longterm.
I did some further digging on the broken window at the Democratic campaign office down on Calder Way last month. The sergeant assigned to the case says that they couldn't find the vehicle associated with the incident in any of the traffic-control cameras, and that the case has been closed for lack of evidence. They found a "BB" in the glass which probably represented the object which broke the window. When I noted that I've never seen an air rifle projectile break a window - they'll usually just leave a pinprick hole in the pane and a spall pattern opposite the hit - he said that they thought perhaps it was a slingshot. If anybody knows a white male in the area with an old white Ford Tempo or Tempo-like sedan, let the police know, OK?
Two more burglaries of campaign offices, in Spokane, WA and Canton, OH. Neither sound as serious as the one in Bellevue, WA - just stuff and cash stolen. I would class these under "crime due to lowered inhibitions", rather than direct political actions.
This is the sort of happy news which, at least in my case, helps to quell the misdirected rages of a tense season. Afghanistan is, degree by degree, step by painful step, coming back. It's a reminder that neither angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor theories past, nor theories to come, nor artists, nor priests, nor parties, nor politicians - none of these things, but the will of the people itself can save us. "The moral arc of the universe is long... but it bends towards justice". We can only ask the people, and accept the response.

Link via Instapundit.
Ahh, I've had a serious mad on for the last half-day or so. Lot of free-range fury in the air in this angry October. Folks on my side have developed a nasty tick about referring to "the other side", and I fear the opposition has developed calluses on their moral senses when it comes to petty political violence. Well, that doesn't mean we should reciprocate. If I find any of my fellow-partisans committing any vandalism, any real violence, I'm reporting them to the cops. The fruit stays home for October 22nd, and I apologize for the sharp-edged jest. I'll still show up - the First Amendment remains in effect, and I want to give that business-partner of Hezbollah terrorists a piece of my mind - but that's where it stops.

Maintaining civic decency has nothing to do with the behaviour of your opposition; it relates to your own party honour. The opposition is so worrisome because they are far too fond of declaring their allegiance to the methods of the devil in the struggle to oust the devil they know. Anyone with the slightest experience of dramatic irony can see where this line of thought is leading.

We may be dicks, but let's not become assholes, people. Do your part to keep the shit off the walls.

Monday, October 11, 2004

That’s interesting - this Minn. Star Tribune article on how unimportant the sign-theft is, and how it’s all high-spirited teenaged petty crime, has this revealing moment:

The residents of one house on East River Road in Minneapolis have taken their Kerry sign and put it inside their door. On the lawn two signs have replaced it, saying: "They stole the last election, and now they stole my Kerry-Edwards sign! Vote Nov. 2."

See that? They took their sign in, and replaced it with a sign claiming the last one had been stolen. Now, this may just be a poor reporter’s inability to write up an anecdote properly. It may be that these Kerry-sign people have lost previous signs, and replaced their replacement sign with the complaint-signs. But that’s not actually what the Star Tribune, a liberal paper if there ever was one, reported.
Somebody burned a Socialist Worker's Party "campaign hall" in Hazelton. Although it's hard to picture anyone getting excited enough about a party, so marginal that it's not even on the ballot, to commit a crime like arson. This article, in the party's own propaganda sheet, mentions that the police suspect that it might be part of a wave of car-burnings and similar firebug depredations in that particularly rough neighborhood.
Paired Democratic and Republican campaign office window smashings.
Counter-example in Alaska.
I did some digging on Fred's damaged window story about the State College Democratic campaign office, and it seems that it did occur, although the articles don't make it sound like it was done with a weapon, which probably explains why it wasn't national news. I would guess, based on the description in the release, that it was some local frat boys, given that the getaway car was a white Tempo - not at all typical of your average Republican activist.

In so far as it's an incident of violence against a campaign office, I have to denounce the act, by whomsoever it was. I can't imagine that the police won't find them - there aren't that many white Tempos in the area. I don't think I've ever seen one, come to think of it.
Letter from the head of the RNC to the AFL-CIO holding that organization accountable for violent and destructive "protests" aimed at Bush/Cheney campaign offices over the last week. I hadn't heard of the Florida shooting; I can't find any references to it in Google.
The CDT is full of shit.