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.
Nice, brisk day yesterday, a bit cloudy, but about as good as you can expect in October. Other folks weren't too thrilled with the weather, but it's what I like about Pennsylvania in the fall. Everyone will look back at that kind of day with longing when the rains start, mark my words...

We did some door-to-door surveying in Boalsburg yesterday. I discovered that the call-lists we were given aren't exactly accurate on the subject of party membership - one particularly irate surveyee turned out to be some sort of big noise with the Centre County Democrats. Oops. On the plus side, one nice lady proudly reported that her son was the navigator on Air Force One. Little towns, you can never predict who or what you'll find in them.

No more Bush/Cheney signs in Boalsburg than in State College, and you'll never convince me that Boalsburg is a big Democratic town. I understand that the waiting list for yard signs is in excess of 400 for the State College office; they're waiting on a shipment sometime next week. Hundreds of reports of stolen or destroyed signs. I had to reassure one couple on my route that this was all phases of the moon; they were worried. But that error with the Democratic party official was reassuring in its way - the phone bank people were kind of disturbed about the responses they were getting from some folks; if the lists were liberally seeded with, well, liberals, then that would explain some of the lack of enthusiasm and outright hostility. I should say that this is just the phone bank people; I haven't had one harsh word on the door-to-doors; people have been cordial, or at least terse, in the case of the one tattooed gentleman in a Harley-Davidson t-shirt.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

While I was at the College Republican table, a couple of frat boys came up and demanded to know if we'd give them beer in exchange for a promise to vote for Bush. I had to explain to them that such things are illegal, at least as I understand the subject. They went crankily off, and then came back fifteen minutes later, bragging that the Kerry people - presumably the College Democrats - had given them beer, you cheap Republican bastards, you. They went on, complaining and whinging, until one of the College Republicans, who was breaking down the helium tank apparatus that had been used to fill up "Corbett for Attorney General" balloons, "accidentally" sprayed them with helium. The frat boys wobbled off at that point.

That was about as exciting as things got, which is to say - pretty tame. People were generally nice. A surprising number of young women went "Woo! Bush!" as I walked by, with my Bush/Cheney lapel-sticker. He's more popular with female college students than I would have expected. I was wearing a Hawai'ian shirt, which, in its aged state, bears an unfortunate resemblance to a tie-dyed T-shirt. A number of folks commented on my "hippie appearance". I played to the gag - claimed to be a "Liberal for Bush".

On the subject of petty bribes for votes, I hear Michael Moore is showing up in State College on October 22nd, having been promised $30,000 by the College Democrats. Students, your Activities Fee money at work. If I was still a student, I'd be pretty pissed. But hey, evil socialist America-hating blimp alert. Save up your rotten fruit. Alternatively, there's some sort of counter-programming going on. More details on that later.
Boy, I’m beat. Long day volunteering for the campaign. I’ve never really done the tailgate before - it’s insanely vast - makes the convention seem like a intimate family picnic by comparison. You don’t want to know how long it took me to find the College Republicans in that chaos.

There was a special showing of Team America at the Premiere 12 this evening. It’s not a movie I’d recommend to anybody, I don’t think. I laughed my ass off, but it was still a terrible, terrible, awful, lame, bad, bad bad movie. It was a mediocre South Park writ really large, with lame supermarionette animation rather than the usual paper cutouts. Basically, an extended excuse to mutilate various leftist film actors (and Hans Blix!), and to propound a scatologically themed political philosophy that proudly starts, “We’re dicks!” I understand that they were cutting the movie until late last week, trying to get all of the sex and scatological material down far enough to earn a hard “R”. What’s left still includes the funniest projectile vomit scene in film history, and a sex scene that can be best described as a “Barbie-doll Kama Sutra”. Don’t take your kids to see it, really. If you do, don’t tell anybody if you want them to respect you in the morning.

I was doing door-to-door in Park Forest this morning. It’s creepy - there are Kerry-Edwards signs everywhere, but the only Republican signs you see are for Lynn Herman. The campaign office people say that they’ve handed out three times more Bush/Cheney lawn signs than they did in 2000, and you don’t see them anywhere. A guy came in the office in the late afternoon, asking for signs to replace destroyed ones on his street, and they had to turn him away empty-handed because of the shortage. They aren’t bullshitting, folks.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Mike Totten is coming down off the fence in favor of Bush. I have to say I'm happy with that; I've been seeing too many centrists and contrarian-conservatives sliding off the fence in the opposite direction.

You see, I'm a centrist, but I've never been moderate. I'm not temperamentally suited to neutrality or even-handedness. I'm prone to take my ground, and defend it. That ground might be between two battle-lines, but it's human nature to gravitate towards the closest mass. Or at least, it's my nature.

What this means, is that I can understand why people take the opposite stand on something, but I have trouble tolerating the sail-trimmers who call themselves "neutral". It's hard for me to not see them as hypocrites and dissemblers. This is what drives me up the wall about Dan Drezner, Jeff Jarvis and Andrew Sullivan. They like to play at political strip-tease, pretending to a fake neutrality, or at least, giving a display that makes me think that they're pretending to fake neutralities.

I'm not sure whether I ought to be classing Jarvis in with the other two, though. His current obsessions are boring me to tears, so I might be doing him a dis-service. As far as I'm concerned, Howard Stern can go open a porn shop in Dubuque; I couldn't care less about Jarvis's "Daily Stern" routine; likewise, I am deeply irritated by "Issues!" posturing. The same goes for petty obsessing over political platforms and plank-mongering - I tend to view this stance as peacock nit-picking - the style of "substance".
Huh. So that's an Instalanche. Interesting.

Anyways, I got a look at some of the Fall anime last night at Dave's. Not a particularly impressive batch, sad to say. The Summer fling with galfeltch is starting to look more like a torrid affair, and the opening themes continue what's beginning to look like a long and painful period of hip-hop "edginess".

Bleach is a passably decent supernatural-fighting-psychic manga, but the anime adaptation is slow and obvious. The art style of the manga just screamed "Seventies Punk", so the melange of bad music which composed the actual soundtrack was a big disappointment. It's just a bland execution of material which, while not being particularly brilliant in the original form, was at least a solid, stylistic and entertaining sample of the genre.

Mai HIME is the anime everybody was talking about before the season broke, and I don't quite see why. It's a Sunrise production, and as a result it's easily the stodgiest anime I've seen in years. Flat character designs, robotic relationships and dialog, and yet more fighting-psychic-teens. The little girl with the claymore so large that she has to repeatedly spin about, sparks flying as the tip gouges up everything around her, in order to bring it to bear in a fight was the one real saving-grace of this anime. I'll probably keep watching it, because it doesn't suck outright, but it's not exactly setting my world on fire.

Uta Kata is a dark magical-girl show with bleedingly obvious porn-computer-game character designs. Our doomed protagonist is lured into some sort of "promise" by a peer-group apparition in a haunted mirror in the old school building, and the apparition claims that she wants said protagonist to write her summer-break essay-assignment before the apparition goes back to magic-land. It's strange enough to keep watching, and surreal in a restrained, creepy fashion, but I have the feeling this isn't going anywhere good.

Kannaduki no Miko is just jaw-droppingly bad. It reminds me of Gravion in that sense - a bizarre, exploitative melange of stupid ideas thrown together at high velocity with little regard for pacing, continuity, or cohesion. The two high school lesbian protagonists are "miko" who are threatened by mecha-piloting "Orochi" villains, but there's a "burning youth" boy with his own Orochi-mecha who's going to protect them. The cool-love-interest miko is named Himemiya and hangs out in a suspiciously familiar rose garden; the high school looks a lot like the one in Marimite, and there's a passing reference to a Prince of Tennis. It's exactly as derivative as it sounds. We broke out laughing at the end of the show, from sheer embarrassment at having watched it in the first place.

The real stand-out, surprisingly enough, was an August show which somebody just started subbing, Space Symphony Maetel, a "side-story" from Galactic Express 999. Normally, Matsumoto shows drive me up a freaking wall, but the first episode of this was surprisingly excellent - it had cohesion, direction, passion, and the story made sense. I actually want to see more of it, which is more than I usually say of latter-day Matsumoto retreads. Best of all? No magical girls, no galfeltch, no harems, no fighting psychics. Very refreshing.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The majors (and here, and here) are starting to get into the surge in political vandalism, theft, intimidation, and petty political terrorism rumbling under the surface right now. For every incident you hear about, there's a couple hundred stolen, shot, defaced, or burnt Bush/Cheney signs not getting reported. I know my local paper, the CDT hasn't said boo about what's going on in *this* county as of this morning.

I've come across a few reports of destruction of Kerry signs. For that, read "that story, and a few 'both sides are doing it'" fake-neutral public-virtue bullshit stories.

But I haven't heard any stories of Republican mobs rioting in Democratic campaign offices yet, or of any shootings involving Democratic facilities, or Watergate-style break-ins at Democratic campaign offices.

One of the teenagers who burned swastikas into the yard of a Bush/Cheney supporter in Wisconsin complained that what he did wasn't "It wasn't terrorism; it was activism. It was for a cause.... The whole thing is, basically, I just wanted to get the word out there that in my opinion Bush isn't doing this country any good." When was terrorism ever inspired solely by malice, without any political intent? Child, terrorism is inherently political. Inherently "activist". Inherently "for a cause". You aren't any less a brownshirt because you've tie-dyed the brownshirt, any less a thug because you're wearing birkenstocks instead of jackboots, any less a fascist because you're wearing a Grateful Dead hat instead of a Stormfront t-shirt.

This is the turning-point; you fools have dipped one toe into dark and rushing waters. Think again. Real goddamn hard.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

I went into State College for dinner after work yesterday. On a whim, I turned up Allen Street on the way back to stop off at the Republican campaign office, in the old storefront which used to be Allen Street Video, was once the Democratic campaign office, and was used last January for the First Night “Instant Poetry” event. There were a couple of college Republicans manning a phone bank, checking up on absentee ballot request form distributions. I ended up helping by stuffing envelopes for a mailing for the State Representative of my old district, when I still lived in the Borough. Couple hours of mindless work, but at least I got some gossiping in with the kids.

The office was notably short of “Bush/Cheney” yard signs, and the word is that there’s been fairly massive theft and destruction of yard-signs this year in the county. The office guy said “hundreds”, from the Borough to the townships and up into the mountains. Lots of stories about pissed-off little old ladies with empty lawns, of signs being shot or burned, and people threatening to staple their replacement signs to mailbox posts, or electrify the signs in expectation of a return of the nocturnal raiders. This isn’t a Democratic county - outside of the Borough and Bellefonte, we’re heavily out-numbered, as you’d expect of “Alabama”. I told him I was worried if the vandals are going up into the mountains to steal and destroy signs, that the country folk are likely to sic dogs on ‘em, or even shoot them. He noted that all these kids are doing is pissing off the Republican base, and doing the campaign office’s job for them. We talked a little about the Knoxville shooting, which I knew more about than he.

The State Representative, Lynn Herman, came through later in the night. I told him I was making up for not being able to vote for him any more, by doing a little envelope-stuffing. He’s apparently in a serious campaign - they’re actually running TV ads, something I’d never seen him do in the ten years I was living in his district.

They turned on the radio to listen to Cheney and Edwards, fighting with poor reception and a bit of a radio shadow in that building. So I sat, stuffed envelopes, and listened to the vice presidential debate. It’s different, listening in public. I had to stop swearing at the candidates, for one thing.... Cheney seemed, to me, to have wiped the floor with Johnny Non Sequitor. Cheney’ll never set the world on fire, as a public speaker, but he’s an excellent debater. He only becomes clearer and sharper with anger, and Edwards’ ham-handed Haliburton attacks only stung Cheney to let loose with the sharpest verbal evisceration I have yet heard from a politician this season, offering an avalanche of evidence of the young Senator’s disinclination to show up for work, culminating with the personal note that Cheney, as Vice President, is also President of the Senate, and that the debate was the first time he had ever met the Senator from North Carolina. Think about that for a moment. In an organization with only a hundred Senators, Edwards had never, in four years, actually managed to be introduced to the President of the Senate.

The office closed at ten, so I caught the rest of the debate on the drive back to Bellefonte, and on TV at home. It wasn’t until I started watching it on TV that I realized that Cheney had been muffling himself by folding his hands over his own mike, thus causing periods of time where he sounded muted and distant, due to the interference. Not too swift, but I still think he did much better than the Senator. Shame they couldn’t get Cheney to debate Kerry, I suspect he’d bounce the Junior Senator from Massachusetts off of four walls and the ceiling.

Update: Oops. Presumably the out is that they weren't in the Senate for that shot...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I finished reading The System of the World last weekend. It's one of those books that devours every moment of free time, to the exclusion of other pursuits. Stephenson Demands Your Undivided Attention. It brings his "Baroque Cycle" to a close, although I now wonder if he'd prefer that you call it his "Barock Cycle", in recognition of his determinedly idiosyncratic spelling habits, adopted especial for the production of his "three-thousand-page novel".

The last installment is much less foot-loose than the first two volumes, which were restless and sprawling, swirling through every back-water of Europe and racing across every exotic inch of the Orient and the Americas. The third volume is rooted, and grounded, and static, only leaving the bounds of southern England for a number of anomalous chapters in the courts and gardens of Hannover, which themselves become English in anticipation of the coming transfer of dynasty which is the pivot-point of the story.

the System of the World is a novel of synthesis, of the setting and testing of new balances; as such, it takes the racing liquid furores of Quicksilver and the Confusion, and pours them into the immobility of the mold. That mold is, in great degree, the physical environs of early Eighteenth Century London. Stephenson, whose place-descriptions in the two prior books were exotic and picturesque and wild, delivers in this final book a city described in painful and exacting detail, with prose that can be compared unfavorably with the text of auction-catalog listings. Every wall, every street, every fortification, construction, sewer, and privy is placed firmly in the city-grid, and then defined in relation to each prior element of the city-scape. Painstaking is the exact and precise word for this exacting and overly-precise manner in which Stephenson delivers this final installment.

Stephenson's conclusion is, in the end, the setting, London As It Will Be, the fulcrum of the world, Leibniz and Newton in frozen disputation, Western thought in perpetual, balanced, opposition to itself, a synthesis awaiting the melting fire of the new flame, which Stephenson presents as an Unfinished Project, the abandoned logic-mill which figures in Cryptonomicon, the novel to which the whole of the Baroque Cycle acts as a grandiose prequel.

I am some-what annoyed that Stephenson allowed his Immortals to run away with the plot to the degree which they did, in the end. It rather lowers the tone of the whole project from Science-Fiction to a sort of Fantasy, in which Alchemical Godlings create the illusion of Science as a facade behind which the occulted magic of the Philosophical Mercury flows.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Auction

As I walked down the highway
From my latest success
I met an old gentleman
Trudging down the crossroads west
His fine clothes were worn
Shiny at the sleeves
Dark holes torn
At his soles and his knees
Two short horns drooped
Desolate at the gravel
His sickly red pallor
Said Scratch had long to travel.

What ho, old man
Asked I of the devil
Are the damnable as short of funds
As the rest of the debtor-rabble?

Yes, rasped he
In a voice like perdition
To-day I am, myself, the debtor
And my last soul’s done defaulted
You know god is dead
But the mortals live longer
And the bridge-loans I’ve negotiated
Are coming due next Friday.

I haven’t the interest
And I’ve spent the principal
On a lot of ill principles
And damnable invincibles
But every race-horse I back
Loses office like a hack
Or around mine own back
Finds the decency he lacked
And here come again
I’ve turned to my friend
The rutted and worn
Crossroads plain.
But all I encounter
Are tricksters and fraud
Pious bastards
They come to impress
Their congregation or mass
By beating the Devil
Those cheating white-trash!

As my debtings did mount
and receipts declined
My payables have ballooned
And receivables in arrears,
I went to the banks
Thrice-mortgaged is Hell
From every freezing cellar
To the gate-dog's stud-collar.
I’ve tried to cheat
As a good devil ought
Corrupt the officers
Buy any that might be bought
But from the tellers to the directors
Not one stays the same
And three faceless corporations
Have bought my debts in turn
The chaos is complete
Except for my account
That each board kept clear
Their best-hope arrears.

My money’s no good
My creditors no souls
My debt’s run its course
Next week I'm due in court.

So, I mused
Fingering my gavel
There on the verge
In commerce’s dark gravel

Lucifer, my man
I’m an auctioneer don’t you know
And I make my living
From ruination and woe
Poor family’s plantations
and foolish rich estates
All man’s misery
Passeth over my plate.
Destitute widowed tears
Buy my baby’s formula-milk
And the wreckage of hopes
Keeps my fat wife in silk.

Then stood him surprised
And hopeful as he
Who in hell’s heart
Ladder-hope has found
We went about and around
But I knew it was firm ground
I came to a bargain
With that broken-down devil
We negotiated a deal
To finance his retire
We bankrupted damnation
To reorganize Hell.

Oh, he couldn’t face
The liquidation of evil
The breaking-up of his Hades
His life-work in the wreckers
Old Scratch took a pension
And early retirement
Clipping in Boca
His coupons each month
Satan plays shuffle-board
In Florida’s heat;
Left me and the court
To auction off Hell.

Folks before you today,
I’ve come to break up
The Devil’s possessions
The greatest assets
Of mankind’s long misery
The tyrant’s estate
And the bond-servants contracted
Are put up for sale
For Hell’s creditors to pay.

Now I’ve sold off the brimstone
To the factories for sulfur
Ripped up the irons
For metal-hungry China
The flames are banked,
Diverted to heat
The cities of the West
And cold Winnipeg.
The frozen wastes
Hippy-gray capitalists
Have purchased an option
And are examining the finances
Of ice-cream plant expansions.
You arms-dealing devils
Long free from your bonds
I offer your fellows
Cannon-fodder for hire
For service on those
Half-acres on earth
Which the previous management
In their desperation
Alienated from the main
Left strewn about the world
Damned-spots of fire
Pain and fury
War-magnet miseries -
But demons work cheap,
In this tight-capital market
And with industry
And agribusiness
You needs must compete;
All Hell’s land is for let
And the furies are yours to rent.

Come now ye speculators
In misery and woe!
I’ve the Devil’s dreams up for auction
And Damnation on the block
From the underground Styx
To the last jailhouse lock!


Friday, October 01, 2004

Evan Kirchhoff of 101-280 has the best lemonade I've read today, wrung from last night's big fat lemon of a debate. Go read it, if you're at all dispirited about the whole affair.
Four versions of this piece-of-garbage yield-monitor data application, and not a goddamn one of them works for shit. Bah!
Martin Peretz eviscerated John Kerry on TNR. You know, if TNR was what I thought it would be - neolib honesty and straight-forwardness - Drezner, Sullivan, Peretz, the less annoying Kaplans, Easterbrook - I wouldn't have let my subscription lapse. Instead, what did I get? Ackerman, Judis, Chait, and that lesser swarm of bushhating yabbos who actually populate the general writing population. Once again, I have to wonder - why is Peretz editing *this* magazine?

Via the all-seeing, all-knowing Instapundit.
Normally, I try to ignore the BlogAds graphics, because they're essentially random, and that's what a good postmodern American, wise in the ways of advertising, ought to do: Ignore Everything. But they inserted a new ad for some sort of political debate site, with a black-and-white image of a young Mohammed Ali caught in the moment of bellowing something at someone. He looks like The Negro That Ate Cleveland, and it's off-putting and disturbing for reasons that I don't quite understand. I have nothing against Ali; I don't really hold a brief for or against boxing, except that it seems to have been a better sport in Ali's day than it is now, what with the ear-biting and Don King and all. I suppose it's just that the image is so amazingly unflattering that it has the raw feel of propaganda; it has the subliminal feel of hatred on sale. I’m not even sure what the bias of the political site is that is being advertised; I’m just fairly sure that I want nothing to do with it, whatever it is.
I had some hopes going into the debate, but I don’t think it went as well as all that. Bush didn’t pull any Ford-style boners, and he wasn’t a total rhetorical disaster, but he was shaky at the beginning, and clearly tired and irate. He repeated stump-speech lines where he should have been attacking on the merits, and was clearly dumbing it down for the national audience. The stuff about the war being tough work works well on the stump, when it’s clear that he’s talking about the troops and his people, but in debate it sounds like whining. Kerry was a fool on the merits, but then, he’s always a fool on the merits. He claims he has better plans, but he never gets into the details, except to say “more of the same, done better”. Bush managed to point out that we’re doing most of what Kerry claims would be a new start, but the partisan-minded will discount that without a strong rhetorical riposte, which Bush didn’t have. Bush’s problem in debates is that he isn’t a clever man, and debate requires a light deftness which just isn’t part of his character. Ductility makes for terrible policy, but it’s invaluable in debate, as we saw last night.

Slight advantage: Kerry. But only on points. The Kerry-leaning folks here in the office were giddy as I came in. This is going to energize his base, I'm sad to say.