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.