Friday, February 24, 2006

Woo-hoo! Lookit those clods fly!

The last three days, they've been dynamiting in the fields on the other side of the Restek running track/leechfield. I talked to a worker, and he said that they were putting in a sewer main tap for a new three-hundred-unit residential subdivision, connecting into the county sewers via our industrial park's system.

They're dynamiting because this whole ridge is about three inches of topsoil on top of solid dolomite. If you need to do any sort of serious landscaping or ground work, you're going to need to break out the explosives, because you aren't gonna get anywhere with simple digging machinery. Probably explains why the development of this area has been so painfully slow - too expensive in comparison with the other possible projects on more forgiving plots.
Monkey money?!? MONKEY MONEY?!? An Indian who runs an Rotterdam-based steel-making conglomerate makes a hostile takeover bid for a rival European steelmaking firm and the head of that firm has the brass-balls gall to refer to said Indian's offer as "monkey money"?

OK, Europeans don't get to call Americans "racist" any more. I revoke their stone-throwing privileges until they get some shutters installed over the glass shingles.

"Monkey money". Christ on a crutch.

I see that it's supposedly some sort of French idiom. I don't goddamn care. It sure as hell sounds prejudiced in English, and I'll bet you my nest egg that Mittal does the majority of his business in English, just like every other Anglo-Dutch or international-Indian businessman on the face of the planet. And I'm also pretty sure that if an American businessman of the status and alleged calibre of someone like Guy Dolle produced such a racially-charged brainfart as "monkey money" in earshot of the American press, he'd be running a hot-dog stand in Omaha inside of a month. If he was particularly young - more likely he'd be clipping coupons in Boca for the rest of his very, very long retirement.
Pretty good Swann article in Sports Illustrated.

Via a link on RedHot from Mark Kilmer.
I was watching my uncle get an editor's award on C-SPAN last night, which meant wading through a lot of other newspaper folk getting their awards. (Well, more like skimming through - I kept flipping back and forth from watching a DVD of Akira.) He was given it by Ben Bradlee. I thought Bradlee was dead?

My mother called partway through, and I ended up swearing like a sailor in front of her about that idiot editorial cartoonist who spent fifteen minutes reading his cartoons out loud. One presumes that if the association gave you an award for your work, they would BE FAMILIAR WITH IT, YOU FOOL! Also, he didn't say word one about the Danish matter, but found the time to whinge comically about NSA monitoring. Yeah, you brave, brilliant artist, go ahead and "make mock o' uniforms that guard you" - you know they'll not CHOP YOUR HEAD OFF & BURN YOUR HOUSE like certain other folk whom apparently don't exist in your cartoon world outside of Hillary Clinton in a burkha. Wonder if that has anything to do with the whole "chop your head off & burn your house" factor?


Oh, well. Congrats, Uncle Ron.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Article on the move of "space opera" from pejorative insult to semi-legitimate subgenre. I think the authors exaggerate the ignorance of post-1975 fans as to the original, pejorative sense of the term; also, their definition of modern, 1980s-era space opera as being generally optimistic is rather... myopic, given the examples offered. How are the collected works of Iain M. Banks particularly optimistic, even in comparison with the gloomy bastards of the New Wave?

Found it via Coffee & Ink.
Yezidis! Michael Totten met with the "Baba Sheikh" - introduced to him as a sort of "pope of the Yezidi" - and visited a temple-town called Lalish in Kurdistan, which the Yezidi call their "Mecca". Deeply cool.
Chizumatic & Steve Den Beste are back.
Bill Bennett & Alan Dershowitz:

We two come from different political and philosophical perspectives, but on this we agree...

What two perspectives are those, social paleo-conservatism and newly-minted neo-conservatism? I mean, Alan Dershowitz wrote a book semi-in-favor of judicial torture, for the love of mike. You don't slide much further to the right of that without getting into Franco territory, to slide deeper into Godwin territory myself.

No arguments with the substance of their argument - I'm not too sweet on the supine mainstream press on a good day when they *aren't* bearing the throat to aggrieved violent street-thugs & bearded maniacs. But ad hominem has a value independent of invective - who makes the argument informs the value of the argument in a practical fashion.

A voice testifying against interest is more interesting and more convincing than a person arguing his or her own case, to the benefit of his or her own intellectual trend or inclination. This is why a "hey! this liberal is talking up a conservative argument" or "wow! look at this reactionary attacking this Republican administration" only has impact for the first few iterations for any particular actor before that actor expends his or her "testimony against interest" ad hominem value, and becomes a voice for the side he or she is now habitually supports.

I'm thinking in particular of Roger L. Simon and Christopher Hitchens, who both played the "leftist in support of the war" hand so hard that they're essentially spent as voices of the "left", and probably Pat Buchanan & the Lew Rockwell libertarians for counter-examples thereof on the left, although I don't pay close attention to the leftward version of this phenomenon, and those might not be the best possible examples.

Via Glenn, who bought the "two perspectives" line hook & sinker.
Ah, and it's a fine graupelly morning.

When did they change the spelling from "grapple" to "graupel"? Damned froggy of them, if you ask me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

So does Netflix suck for anime titles, or doesn't it? I've heard both. In particular, what's the turnaround like on their long-titles, series with multiple DVDs. ADV's Macross box sets, for instance. Anybody have any recent experience with Netflix?
Jessica, you were talking about gold few weeks back. What do you think of this article? I know what I think on the subject, but I'm generally biased against the whole gold-bug notion, so I suppose I'm not the most objective of voices where gold is concerned. I like the idea that the increasing wealth of the Indian & Chinese consumer is buying up the price of jewelry.
There is some heavy shit going down around the world. I won't belabor the potential ugliness of the Samarra Shi'ite shrine bombing, because it's all over Rantburg and the rest of the blogsphere, and because it's so clearly a situation on the verge of a full-blown pogrom. But this bit from Michael Ledeen about the riots in Benghazi is something I had *not* noticed, and illustrates just how much gets covered up & ignored when emotion & knee-jerk reaction filters the news, on the right as well as the left.

Those Benghazi riots, with more than a dozen dead, got reported as just another particularly violent set of protests in the wave of anti-Danish-cartoon violence. But Ledeen's emailer suggests that A) it actually had more to do with a calculated anti-Italian move by the Libyan government and B) the actual violence occurred after the authorities lost control of their rent-a-mob and it turned into a nasty anti-regime riot bordering on an uprising. Ledeen & his emailer make it sound like a mini-Hama in the offing, which would be deeply, deeply ugly if it's the case.
Gah! I innocently enter "Genesis" into an EPA label lookup engine, and get buried under with sixty instances from a company named "Frank Miller & Sons". Rat bait, herbicide, weedkiller, insecticide, algicide - they've named every single blamed thing they sell "Genesis"! It's like George Foreman & his multiple sons George, except the Foreman family isn't running an inventory system with their boys' names!

There's an insecticide needle in here somewhere... ahah! Found it! The one Bayer CropScience 'un in the haystack.
Mind-warper for the day: Eric S. Raymond's essay on the legacy of Stalinist memetic warfare. Essentially, he's re-imagined the post-Marxist/transnational progressivist intellectual hangover as a species of pollution - the imaginative equivalent of buried nukes or bioweapons contaminating intellectual groundwaters. Hell, on a small scale, those WWI-era shells French farmers still keep getting blown up by now and again in the fields of the Somme or Meuse. He calls this poisoning by abandoned, unguided Stalinist intellectual warfare Gramscian damage.


The first step to recovery is understanding the problem. Knowing that suicidalist memes were launched at us as war weapons by the espionage apparatus of the most evil despotism in human history is in itself liberating.

I've always called it "the monster in your mind" when I've encountered this societal rage in others, although usually not to their face. But Raymond seems to be making a case for the intellectual equivalent of environmental poisoning: not ideological vampirism, but Stalinist lead poisoning, the product of a stunting of a person's moral and intellectual growth at a vulnerable age.

Raymond doesn't stop with that idea. He goes on:

Again, this is by design. Lenin and Stalin wanted classical-liberal individualism replaced with something less able to resist totalitarianism, not more. Volk-Marxist fantasy and postmodern nihilism served their purposes; the emergence of an adhesive counter-ideology would not have. Thus, the Chomskys and Moores and Fisks are running a program carefully designed to dead-end at nothing.

He worries that the replacement which fills in the space left by the termination of the "suicidalist" ideology will be a monster, less likely a jihadist caliphate than a radicalized, hateful European-style fascism, bitter from repeated terror-nukings:

The U.S., fortunately, is still on a demographic expansion wave and will be till at least 2050. But if the Islamists achieve their dream of nuking "“crusader" cities, they'’ll make crusaders out of the U.S., too. And this time, a West with a chauvinized America at its head would smite the Saracen with weapons that would destroy entire populations and fuse Mecca into glass. The horror of our victory would echo for a thousand years.

I recognize this is over-quoting, but I love that last sentence with a pure and platonic ardour.

Via Instapundit this morning.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Played poker most of the weekend. Saturday was kind of odd. The host's schoolteacher-in-training fiancee was playing Spanish-language Taboo with her friends, and it degenerated into what the host said was a mix of a political argument and really fithy girl-talk. Still, it was a better night than Friday, when the host was pouring gallons of beer & a concoction made mostly out of apple rum into everyone, and half the table was falling-down drunk. I was the most sober player at the table, and I *still* lost my shirt. I think maybe I ought to dial it back a bit - I'm losing more than is good for my continued sunny disposition.

Speaking of sun or the notable lack thereof, how about those wild temperature swings? Cold as heck last night; even my mother down in Florida was complaining about how cold it has gotten. Betcha the Canadian High Plains are baking again, though - seems to this winter's pattern, with the High Plains & the East swapping warm and frigid air masses back and forth.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Check out this mindwarping taxonomy of American libertarian trends using, apparently, Fischer's subcultural tropes from Albion's Seed. I have *got* to read that book.
After weeks of intensive thumb-twiddling here at work, I'm all of a sudden under the gun. So it goes.
Damn, looks like March arrived ten days early. Two warm days, followed up by a full-bore Wuthering Heights high-wind spectacular.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hey, Fred, I was wrong - we hadn't been completely thrown out of that Uzbekistan airbase. They're still straggling on out, over six months after we were given our walking papers.
It's a lovely, warm day. Perfect for walking around in circles on asphalt with your head stuck in a book.

What? You enjoy nature *your* way, I'll enjoy it mine.
I've been spending a lot of time watching my old anime DVDs & some borrowed DVDs, including the old Bubblegum Crisis OAVs, so I put in my Bubblegum Crisis 2040 videotapes last night on a whim. Watching the old, "classic" OAVs in rapid succession with the 2040 TV series, I can't imagine why people prefer the OAVs. In writing, animation, plotting, and pacing, the TV series is far, far superior. Admittedly, the plotting, pacing, and writing does a severe drop-off about two-thirds of the way through the series, and it really is a classic "Chiaki Konaka joint", complete with butch female protagonists, yuri-ai undertones, and gloomy, dark overtones of ambiguity & morally dubious motivation; even given all that, I still have a special fondness for the TV series that I just can't muster for the original.

Monday, February 13, 2006

And in the end, what do I think of Griffith's Battle Tactics? He's clearly an infantry specialist - the vast majority of the book is on infantry tactics, infantry battle, and how the other services or branches affect the infantry. He doesn't even so much as quote a contemporary tactics manual for either the cavalry or the artillery. So, I suppose it's almost predictable that his natural inclination is to blame a third supporting branch for what went wrong with the infantry in the Civil War - the engineers.

And I guess I'm somewhat sympathetic to this inclination - I want to indulge in contempt for the engineers - the Popes and McClellans and Rosecranses and Lees and Hallecks whose elitist misfires ought to be to blame for the slaughter and the stalemates. But the time-lines don't favor his arguments about the usage of entrenchment as much as Griffith'd like you to think - and his rather slap-dash binary division of early-war and late-war only partially hides the basic problem with the analysis which blames the Mahanists for the failure of the offensive in the war.

That problem is that the war isn't properly dividable in a binary fashion between the early war of fluid straight-up battle and the later war of positions and sidle-by-the-flanks. Rather, the timeline lends itself more clearly to a trinary division - an early-war reliance on Mahanist prepatory entrenchment on the Lee and McClellan and Halleck model, followed by a post-Seven-Days devolution into open-field butchery, then a bottom-up reversion to form & the introduction of a mature, integral, truly tactical system of entrenchment, starting in fits and starts among the troops during the Chancellorsville and Tullahoma campaigns, through Culp's Hill and Chickamauga and Mine's Run, and adopted near-universally in the parallel 1864 overland campaigns.

Thus, this new introduction of entrenchment was not a theoretical child of the Mahanist school, but rather an echo of the discredited corpse of Mahanist theory, cobbled together as a battlefield invention of desperation & the survival instinct. Obviously, I'm getting a lot of this from Hess's first volume on field fortifications, and I'm now greatly looking forward to the other two projected volumes, regardless of Hess's over-reliance on extraneous narrative.

Most of my other responses to Griffith are mere echoes of what I thought when I first encountered Nosworthy's re-formulation of Griffith's ideas - that the psychological quality of the bayonet as a shock weapon is a valid and interesting idea, but that to also denigrate the psychological value of entrenchment as a counter-tactic to the weapons of shock is a damned double standard; that an increase in range of half again or even double, is no improvement to be spat upon, and that Griffith's own figures take a great deal away from his would-be anti-rifle-musket revisionism; and that almost nobody is giving as much attention to the Petersburg siege battles as I suspect is necessary to properly develop the role of entrenchment and riflery in tactics.

If anyone has any suggestions for books on the Petersburg siege & the tactics thereof, I would be greatly appreciative. I know that there's that book on the ANV sharpshooters corps, and I'll probably have to read it, even though it seems to give off that "Victorious [Confederate] Arms" odor which is so familiar from WWII petty historiography. I have hopes for the second volume of Hess's work on field fortification, too.
Went out to see a local blues band called "AAA" or "Triple A" play at Zeno's with Fred & some of his friends. The band was pretty good, and I wasted some dosh on a few pints. They have lambic on tap at Zeno's, which is great & all, but good lord is it expensive. The Woodchuck is almost reasonable, though. I was commenting that the lead singer/guitarist of the band sounded kind of like Randy Newman, and then another singer came up to the microphone and launched into Louisiana 1927, which made me laugh. Believe it or not, but it was the first time I had heard it actually played, and not just quoted as lyrics in a blog or livejournal for political points.

I ended up being a Civil War bore at the table, talking about Harsh & the Maryland campaign with a friend of Fred's, a fiddler & science teacher named Andy. We got on the subject because I had a library copy of Griffith's Battle Tactics, and I started in on the whole Jamieson/McWhiney-Griffith-Nosworthy thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectic. After having finished Griffith over the weekend, I've come to the conclusion that I was being too harsh on him, mostly due to my having encountered all of his ideas in one form or another in Nosworthy, in the wrong chronological order, as it were. I imagine I'll be equally, and equally unfairly, hard on Freeman when I get around to reading more than a few pages here & there of his Lee biography or Lee's Lieutenants, having read Nolan & Connelly & Wert taking apart poor Freeman in books printed in the last thirty years, with all the advantages of hindsight & new research.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Went down to look at the rubble yesterday evening. Who would have thought the old man had so much brick in him? A two-stories-tall pile of broken wood and tumbled brick, with iron frames sticking up out of the pile where the interior had been reinforced around archways. The pile was still on fire in two separate places below the surface of the rubble, and the whole town smelt of old-wood smoke.

It was still smoking this morning as I made my way out of town.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Dimitri noticed my meandering about Griffith, and comments that he reads Griffith as he would a fellow blogger or essayist - presumably for unique viewpoint rather than strict scholarship? I suppose that could work, but I had seen Griffith cited as a specialist, not an advocate. Ironically enough, Jamieson & McWhiney, who *are* cited as advocates for Attack and Die, are somewhat more restrained in their rhetoric, laying aside that book's last third-worth of peculiar racial theorizing.

I suppose I'm saying that I didn't expect Griffith to come across as this much of an... autodidactic crank. Eh, maybe it's the exaggeration of unmet expectations at work.
I'm not coming away from Battle Tactics of the Civil War with a greatly enhanced impression of Paddy Griffith. His basic campaign analysis is exceedingly naive, in a rather Centennial style, and he's building a number of his arguments on those naive judgments. I just hit his section about West Point's origin as a French-style engineering academy, and suddenly there's this violent anti-French-engineer outburst spilling out all over the page. He seems to think that Jomini is in opposition to the French military conservative trend, whereas Nosworthy was insisting that Jomini represents a reactionary re-interpretation of the "Napoleonic" military revolution, a re-arrangement of the mobility and offense-oriented reforms of the late eighteenth century into a modern version of the old posts-and-depots system with a hipper rap.

Gah, now I've gone and confused myself. But nothing Griffith is saying about Dennis Hart Mahan matches what everyone else says about him, nor does it match what little I've read of Mahan himself. Griffith seems to think that Mahan is aping the French engineers, whereas everyone else (especially Hess!) says that Mahan's entrenchment mentality was an indigenous American response to large, unpopulated backcountry & American manpower-shortages.
Ugh. I haven't figured out how to properly hide the cuts, or only invoke them when I want them invoked. As a stop-gap, those little plus signs are the minimum footprint I can leave & still have the show/hide feature working. Yes, I suck at html - this surprises you how?

The rubble was still smoking this morning as I left town, BTW - at least they cleared the intersection of Water & High Street on the southeast side, enough to allow through traffic via the Rt. 144 bypass through town.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hmm. Now that I've sort-of figured out this posting photos thing, I'm thinking about borrowing somebody's digital camera & doing some architecture-blogging. Maybe next week. There's a lot of cool stuff around town I haven't really dwelt on here, because I was a technical idiot in the photography department.

It'd be nice to get some images of the neat old buildings scattered around town. You know, *before* they burn to the ground from faulty wiring or petty arson.
These photos of the Bush House fire are by Ben Hauger.

One of Ben Hauger's more spectacular shots.
Ben Hauger's full set of photos of the Bush House fire are here.
You can see photos of the original here, at the Bush House's website.
These are photos by Jason Gullickson of the Bush House fire. It's a total loss, from all accounts. This is the first time I've ever figured out the image-posting end of Blogger, so sorry if this is a little crude.

Update - the CDT has now gotten an article with photographs up.
These photos of the Bush House fire were taken by Jason Gullickson.


For every new building the developers put up in State College and its suburbs, another old one goes up in smoke in Bellefonte. We're State College's Portrait of Dorian Gray.
Hmm. The WTO has ruled that the European Union's anti-GMO policies are bullshit. While I agree that this is the case, and am happy to see those bio-luddites take one in the rhetorical chin, I'm not generally fond of the WTO and its international busy-bodyism. The only upside to this act of transnational interference is that it's in the service of giving a much-earned beating to a bunch of transnational busy-bodies who make a policy of such programs of interference.
Someone just came in from the Bellefonte YMCA with his car lightly covered in dust, and he says that the walls are collapsing & downtown is covered in dust and soot. Doesn't sound like they'll save the building. What doesn't collapse will probably be ruined by water damage.
Well, this will definitely test the hypothesis that central Pennsylvania has gotten past its historically well-earned reputation for racism as the Alabama portion of "Pittsburgh & Philadelphia & Alabama in between". Scranton dropped out of the Republican primary race, leaving just Swann & some nobody whose name I can't remember thirty seconds after having read it somewhere - Jim Panyard? Apparently the Steelers victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh was the last straw, and Scranton decided to pack it in.

Go, Swann.
I thought the change in smoke from yellow-brown to dark grey was a good sign, but Jay just came in from driving through town to work & said that the Bush House was gouting sparks & flame high enough to be seen from Rt. 550 on the other end of town. That's not good - my apartment is uphill & upwind from the fire. On the other side of a church and a funeral home, admittedly, so I don't think there's much of a chance, but you never do like to hear the words "sparks" and "upwind" associated with your domicile.
The Bush House on the corner of High and Water Streets in the heart of Bellefonte is on fire. Looks like one or more of the rooms of the hotel on the upper floors caught fire. There's a pretty impressive tail of smoke obscuring the water gap & most of the northeastern arm of the Bald Eagles from my office window. I freaked out when I first saw the fire-trucks, because Ben Hauger's apartment building is right across Water Street from the fire, but it didn't look like a flamer or sparker, so it probably won't jump buildings now that most of the fire companies in the county are on the scene or arriving.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

This could be a significant problem for those of us who are prone towards walking along roads with their noses stuck in books. If the hybrid is actually that quiet at slow speeds - and I'm faintly suspicious of this story, given the lack of statistics or tangible studies quoted - then they could be quite dangerous to those of us who just don't pay attention to what we "see" while on foot. I don't quite see why they don't use electronic imitations of "road noise" to fake the aural footprint of a real car, but then, I've never really understood why cel phones don't do the same with the "yelling" problem caused by folks used to landline phones.

Via Micky Kaus.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Idly looking at the weight charts this morning, I suddenly realized that I hit my targeted weight this morning. For some reason, I had mis-remembered the target by four pounds. I start transitioning to a "maintenance diet" starting midweek.

Small Pink Mouse solved the Den Beste mystery for me - he's blogless for the time being. I'll have to keep an eye on dotclue for updates.
I'm reading Paddy Griffith, and he says something interesting in the introduction to Battle Tactics of the Civil War, to the effect that Stephen Crane & others talking about the Civil War in the Victorian generation introduced new & modern ways of thinking about war. In effect, Griffith argues that the sense in which the American Civil War was a "modern war", not in the tactical or strategic sense (he calls Sherman "medieval", which I think is rather a mistake, in that Sherman's attitudes are more Thirty Years War than War of the Roses) or even technological sense - but rather in a narrational sense. Even the organizational techniques of mass conscription was an innovation of the 1790s.

Griffith says that the introduction of mass literacy & mass authorship & the modern postal & newspaper culture transformed the way that Napoleonic carnage was interpreted & felt by a newly egalitarian culture. The impersonality and the sense of futile butchery was not, in this view, a novelty to the American Civil War, but rather a novelty to society, which was directly encountering the horrors of Napoleonic war via the torrent of letters and newspaper accounts flooding home from each new abbatoir.
Some years I seem to be more hostile to pop culture than others. Is it just me, or is the spectacle of Harrison Ford violating the corpse of Dr. Seuss for the NFL kind of... tacky? That, and the Franklin/Neville "Star-Spangled Banner" was just plain bad. Oh, and the Rolling Stones have been horrible self-parodies since at least the early Eighties, and probably before - I generally haven't paid that much attention. Can we get Sir Paul back?

Yay, Steelers.

Friday, February 03, 2006

New Energy Currents at Winds of Change. The article on towerless & high-altitude wind turbines is the most mind-melting item this time around. I just have this mental image of ten tons of windturbine coming unmoored & hurtling at terminal velocity from 15,000 feet into rush-hour traffic or something else more like a bad Michael Bay action scene than what I normally expect of reality.
Boy, was Tower of the Future a major disappointment. Saki Hiwatari's Please Save My Earth is a great, skiffy romp, a reincarnation soap-opera with a bunch of likeable and flawed characters. She has a reaccuring problem with talking-heads and the usual Japanese inclination towards woolly-headed, abstract idealism, but the manga works on a visceral and emotional level. PSME is one of my regular buys, and I haven't regretted a volume so far. I wish I could say the same about Hiwatari's Tower of the Future, which is some sort of minor-key later project of hers which CMX started publishing a few months back with almost zero fan-fare. Now that I've read the first two volumes, I can see why they weren't talking about it.

Basically, the story is about an only child named Takeru, who's supposed to be imaginative and a dreamer, and how his mother dies & he finds out that he has a bastard older sister. There's some sort of skiffy fringe about a little kid named Zen, but by the end of the second volume Hiwatari hasn't even come close to explaining what that's about except that Zen's trying to get the hero to hook up with the nominal heroine, who's barely been introduced as of that point.

Now, I say that Takeru is supposed to be imaginative, but his dreams are really tedious - the worst kind of RPG-style and-then-this-cool-thing-happens-for-this-airy-reason fantasy-plotting crap. He doesn't come across as particularly geekish, or charming, or even particularly gangly or awkward. He's just a dick. A passive-aggressive, selfish, unlikeable, undistinguished teenaged dickhead. He treats everyone around him like shit, and even his own motivations are poorly established & worse-expressed. Even when his victim-saint of an older sister shows up, the story doesn't really pick up, as she is, as I said, a walking stereotype of offended, vulnerable, abused virtue. And she's got a silly name - Hojyu? Honju? Something like that.

At any rate, I gave it two volumes, nothing happened, the page count was short, and I've got better things to do with my manga money. Dropped.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I ran up against my physical limitations yesterday when I tried jogging for a bit instead of just walking. I could do the running without tiring, but I quickly hit the edge when I started breathing heavily. Or, at least, trying to breath heavily. There just isn't much depth to my wind anymore - I couldn't get that deep swing-intake of air necessary to keep going for more than three hundred yards or so.

I'm not coughing or anything, or wheezing, or suffering in the usual asthmatic ways, but there's just no lung capacity to spare for anything more than a short sprint.

Finally saw Casablanca last night. As someone once said after reading Hamlet late in life, "why, it's nothing but a series of quotes strung together!"

Oh, and objectively? Bogart is a damned strange looking leading man. And I don't see the point of Ingrid Bergman. I was put off by her character asking about the "boy playing the piano", Dooley Wilson, who was twenty-one years older than Bergman, and in his late thirties at the time of filming. Talk about the attitudes of an age dating its cultural products...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Watched the state of the union speech, and accidentally missed the Shield. Wow, Hillary Clinton is kind of scary these days, isn't she? There was this horrible, glowering rictus on her face every time the cameras cut to her for a reaction shot. She makes Nixon in his prime seem like a paragon of hail-fellow-well-met bonhomie.

If the more optimistic and sunnier-dispositioned candidate almost always wins the presidency, then the Republicans would have to nominate the reptilian Gary Bauer in order for Sen. Clinton to charm her way back into the Oval Office. Or maybe not - Nixon managed to win against the Happy Warrior, didn't he?
My new landlord does not, like the last one, have a convenient downtown office with a convenient mail-slot in the door for off-hours deposit of the rent-cheque. I'm a cheap bastard, and getting cheaper, so the prospect of wasting a stamp on the monthly rent fills my newly-saved soul with the fear of financial fire & brimstone. The secretary of the old landlord is cousins of some sort with the new landlord, and has indicated that she'll collect cheques if I insist, but this is kind of a slap-dash way of doing things, don't you think?

Wonder if I can talk the new landlord into doing Paypal? Eh, I guess not. Not unless I want to pay the transaction cost - steeper than I thought, really. 2.9%? What could keep a businesswoman from just sticking with personal accounts, which seem to be free?
I got a circular this morning from a friend requesting I sign this petition to the Centre County Board of Commissioners against the introduction of no-paper voting machines, and requesting a transition to an optiscan system. While I have no real brief against electronic voting per se, I'm willing to see ground given on the subject in the interest of raising the general level of public trust in the voting system. If you live in the county, please consider signing the petition, not because the "Republicans[Democrats/Naderites/Bolivian Revolutionaries] are going to steal our votes!", but because you'd prefer a calmer political climate, with fewer unnecessary sources of irritation & distrust. Thank you.