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Monthly Archives: September 2006

So a politician at entering the first throes of a sex scandal decides to throw in the towel and resigns abruptly only weeks before election day? Big deal, right? He’s been outted as a gay man with a thing for younger men. Boys, really. He likes to harass male pages in the U.S. House of Representatives (that’s where he works), and his preferred method, or so it would seem, for contacting them? E-mail and text messaging. Hallelujah.

That’s fine. We expect this of our politicians. And no, it is no longer ironic that a closeted, child-loving politician would turn out to be a conservative Republican from the South. That’s not ironic at all. In fact, it’s predictable. Where in this country is there a bigger closet than down south? And how better to try and assert your straightness than by joining the Grand Old Party? Try to win back the love you never got from your hard-drinking, narrow-minded father by cozying up to the framed and autographed picture of Ronald Reagan you got after a summer interning at the Treasury Department in the 1980s. Tell yourself: “Remember the Treasury Dept. Try as hard as you can to forget Dupont Circle. Remember the Treasury Department. Look at the picture. Look at the autograph. Remember the GOP….”

No, it’s not ironic that Florida Rep. Mark A. Foley likes boys, and can’t control himself once he’s safely away from his electorate.

But what is ironic is that Foley, who has been outted because of e-mails (traceable) and text messages (traceable), and because the affections he was lavishing on these lads was inappropriate for their age and also unwelcome in at least one case, is in a position — perhaps even the preeminent position in this entire nation — to protect children from sexual harassment by adults. And what has he been actively trying to put into law? Yup. Legislation to protect children from harassment over the Internet. That means e-mail, for chrissakes!

Here’s how the AP put it:

“Foley, as chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus, had introduced legislation in July to protect children from exploitation by adults over the Internet. He also sponsored other legislation designed to protect minors from abuse and neglect.”

So that’s the title we’re mulling over here. “Chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus.”

The funny part is, until this little glitch in his campaign (he’s out. he’s resigned. it’s over.), he was widely expected to win. As House Speaker Denny said, “None of us are very happy about it.”

Not that it’s ironic or anything, but since the stakes are fairly high this year, it’s nice to know that the old folks who couldn’t figure out how NOT to vote for Pat Buchanan in 2000 in Florida and thus handed us the current world crises on a platter are now, at least potentially, being made up for by the same kind of closeted libido that we’re supposed to believe only belongs to Democrats.

The rule for both Democrats and Republicans alike should be: Don’t try to win the withheld love of your dead parents by trying to be the kind of politician you think they might have voted for. And that includes you, Ronald Reagan.

This item, which got some attention for no good reason (i read it but i had no good reason to) makes some points that may or may not be good ones (read the comments on digg to see how everyone feels about it, if you want to. you have my permission to do that now, if you want. i’ll just keep writing for now, though. come back when you’re done, if you want to. i’ll still be here.)

the problem is, on the way to making stale points (oops. now you know what i thought of it. i didn’t mean for you to know that), the intro disparages one of my favorite, i think, most important methods of publishing in the history of the world. napkin-scrawling.

so i wrote in to the comments on digg, and thus minutely advanced the popularity of the article whilst slightly bolstering the numbers of those who had commented. but sometimes you have to jump into the pool before you can drown in it.

below, i’ve copied what i wrote there.

the neat thing is that i’ve undermined, to some degree, the entire purpose of my post, and of my comments, by sneakily publishing — or repurposing — my content here. my obvious motive in doing so is to increase the odds that someone other than myself will ever read it. but the whole point of this post, and this blog, seemingly (nobody reads this blog by the way, and if you’re reading it, you fall into the statistically insignificant group we’ll call “the exception,” which, as always, defines the rule) is that there is some value in a thing just for its thingness, and not necessarily in its otherstuffness.

anyway, here’s my point, as we disparage napkinwritings:

it may also be a good time to reflect on some of the great thoughts that have, in fact, been scribbled on cocktail napkins: countless song lyrics, business plans, the gettysburg address and many other great documents. but even the less-great documents that get scribbled on cocktail napkins meant something to someone at some point. it shouldn’t detract from their value that everyone in the bar didn’t come over and read it and leave a note about what they thought about it, should it?

Obviously, there’s something exciting going on when you’re finally able to begin to put your finger on just exactly what it is about insects that’s always reminded you of French women.

At last.

I’m usually pretty busy (like most people) with stuff like working and sleeping, so it is perfectly conceivable that something big would happen and I wouldn’t hear about it until later — possibly much later. In this case, it seems like something really big happened, and I not only missed that thing, but evidently the same thing twice, since it seems to have happened again, too.

What thing? Why, the second thing I missed was nothing short of The Third Awakening. It happened sometime this week, I think. That’s when President Bush announced that it had already happened. But to be honest, I was busy this week, so I didn’t even know it had already happened — or that he had already announced it — until the weekend. Too busy, I guess.

But the thing is, since it was the third awakening so far, I knew immediately that I’d missed the second. Everyone remembers the first. That one was awesome. I remember it like it was yesterday — hundreds of years of darkness, turning to light. The whole world watching. A true Awakening.

Since then, nothing.

Suddenly, this week (or for me, just now), a ray of hope. We’re waking up again! For the THIRD TIME. I don’t know what happened. I try to stay on top of current events. I try to, you, know read the front page, talk with people about stuff, think about stuff — I try to keep busy.

So how did I miss Awakening No. 2? What was it?

Was it our realization that bad things can happen to anybody?

Or that stuff that we think is going to work perfectly doesn’t always work so perfectly?

If you have an idea of what event or string of events might have comprised our collective Second Awakening, I’d love to know what it is. You can put it in the comments. There’s plenty of room.

So there’s a way of making maps out of behavior. Here’s a relatively innocuous behavior to map. What other behaviors might be able to be mapped, i wonder?

read more | digg story

Maybe you’ve seen the challenge: two cars — one aerodynamic one and one a little bit more blocky — up against the powerful rush of air produced in the wake of a Virgin Airlines 747. (I was directed to it by a crucial bit of daily reading)
Finally, an answer to the question we’ve all been asking silently since the moment we read the title to this blog or a similar posting containing a link to this video.

I’m hoping that most people have missed this little gem. I always knew I’d be a star someday.

So, I was thinking about going to pick up the new Pete Yorn CD, because it was on the radio and I thought it sounded lame and then I started thinking it sounded good, and maybe I don’t buy enough new music and maybe I should, you know, participate a little bit more in pop culture, if Pete Yorn even counts, which I don’t know since I’ve never even really heard of the guy before. Anyway, I was driving, and I thought I’d consider buying the CD, and then I realized that the CD would be physical and clunky — outdated. I should download it. I should download it legally, since that’s what I do now. So when I could, I went to iTunes and the music store, intent on getting this music. And what i saw was a blank screen with the words: “It’s Showtime: The iTunes store is being updated.”

Back in the old days of actual stores, you never went to, say, Sam Goody, and got denied because they were updating (they never updated, but you know what I mean). If it was business hours, you could go in there and buy as many Pete Yorn CDs as you wanted.

Maybe in a few hours I’ll be glad they updated their music store, but know what? I don’t want to buy a CD anymore. Because a lot of times, when I hear something good on the radio, it’s an immediate impulse I have that makes me want to posess the thing. It passes. I don’t feel the need to own the damn thing anymore. I enjoyed it. It’s music. It’s over, and I’ve moved on. (Don’t you see? I’ve moved on! Not even thinking about it anymore!)

So in a few hours, I’ll be happy, iTunes users will be happy, and we’ll all be winners.

Except for one person. Pete Yorn.

When the President of the United States needs to find out what people are saying on the phone, he just listens in. If he hears something incriminating, he either gets a warrant after the fact or, well, he doesn’t. Either way, you’re safer for it. Well, sort of.
But when the chairman of the board of an important company needs to know what people are saying, she does the same thing. This is perfectly correct (“I learned it from watching you!”)
Unfortunately, some narrow-minded sticklers seem to feel that by impersonating company officials and other kinds of officials, the private investigators she hired may have broken some rules.
This doesn’t mean she broke any rules by hiring them. Necessarily.
Someone on the board leaked, and she needed to know who. Once she found out (the hard way), she asked that guy to leave.
But he decided to stay.
Instead, a different guy — a very important guy — decided to leave.
But he also demanded that she spill the beans to the world.
But that would probably mean giving up her sweet sweet job, or at least giving up something. So she decided not to.
So he started leaking.
And now the California Attorney General spent all Thursday and Friday deposing journalists.
Which brings us back around to a phone call that happened over the weekend.
The remaining board members at HP — the ones who didn’t have any ethical problem with the chairman listening in on their phone calls — along with the chairman who was only trying to be an effective wartime president, had a conference call.
You’d probably like to know what they said. Was it awkward? Was it funny? Did anyone apologize? (“Sorry I leaked all that information to CNET. I guess that was pretty dumb.” “That’s okay. I’m sorry I hired those thugs to tap your phone. That was dumb, too.”)
Too bad you don’t have a P.I. on your side.

Really. Just because you don’t spend hours every day escaping the pain and frustration of reality in order to live a virtual life full of all those exact same details that you find so frustrating every day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t extend a small shred of empathy to the 650,000 escapist gamers whose lives have now been turned upside down by a security breach into the pretend world from the real one (a breach which captured encrypted real-life credit cards, by the way).