5/28/2006

an election year reminder

(P) This is a good article about an issue dear to me. One of the core problems of our present democracy is that we have been disenfranchising people at a rate that would make the authors of Jim Crow laws quite proud. Not only do we do things indirectly on election day to make lines longer and registration more complicated and such (and more recently, counting suspect to hacking), we also deprive people of their Constitutional right to vote more directly through laws that prevent felons from voting, even after having been released back into the community after serving their sentence. Of course, these just so happen to be disproportionately poor, black, and urban. Golly gee, how might that affect our political landscape?

As Senator Charles Summer argued (against the 14th amendment, by the way), "I do not hesitate to say that when the slaves of our country became citizens they took their place in the body politic as a component part of the people, entitled to equal rights, and under the protection of these two guardian principles: First-That all just government stand on the consent of the governed; and second, that taxation without representation is tyranny; and these rights it is the duty of Congress to guarantee as essential to the ideal of a Republic."

Or as Susan B. Anthony spoke about a different group of disenfranchised people, "For however destructive in their happiness this government might become, a disfranchised class could neither alter nor abolish it, nor institute a new one, except by the old brute force method of insurrection and rebellion".

I bet if states had to refund all the taxes collected from citizens denied the right to vote, they might think twice about such a drastic action.

Political Invisibles.

5/27/2006

calm down buddy

This is too funny.

Well, if it weren't largely true, at any rate.

5/25/2006

can't stop

So I disappear for a couple days and there's tons to talk about. The President's pal Kenny Boy and Jeff Skilling get convicted on several counts. What does that make, 16 Enron fellons, give or take? Attorney General Alberto Gonzales sends the FBI to raid a Congressman's office. And we thought they couldn't find any unprecedented things left to do! And oh yeah, let's make sure we say Democrats are as corrupt as Republicans every 20 seconds on cable. Then, Dennis Hastert, Republican Speaker of the House, was so moved to appeal directly to the President about the danger of sending the Feds raiding Congressional offices. Then, it turns out, possibly, maybe, Hastert himself might be somehow involved in the case surrounding Cunningham, the guy selling out national security by funneling subpar firms into intelligence contracts. Hmm, now what might be found in Hastert's office; hookers, yachts, or fancy furniture? And what's this about Scooter Libby's lawyers saying the government said Cheney won't be a prosecution witness? What might the Vice President have to say!? Then there's the fun with classification. Oops, the FCC can't investigate whether the phone companies have been cooperating with the military because they'll just classify anything the NSA was doing. Meanwhile, Iran's Ahmadijenad is compared to Hitler...oh, wait, just kidding, the neocons didn't really mean to make that comparison.

And the Royals are on another fabulous streak. And I don't mean hitting back to back to back homeruns this afternoon.

My big news I want to talk about, though, is that I found another addiction. You may not know this about me, but I have a very addictive personality; it explains a lot of why I generally try to abstain from unhealthier pursuits rather than trying to do them in moderation, and I think it also helps explain why I prefer consistency over change. I have no doubt I would become a crack addict overnight; if you read my day-before-anniversary post, you already know I can't control myself around donut holes. I'm a charter member of the "one more turn" Civ crowd.

Anyway, so a site I have been on for a couple months now is the perfect blend of sarcasm, political dialogue, and social networking. I have caught myself logging in to Essembly in the morning, at work, when I get home from work, when I should be going to bed, when I'm hungry but want to see what's happened before I make dinner, and other such times. This cannot end well.

Until then, this is awesome! God bless the internets.

5/21/2006

not that easily defeated

Nice try Wentzville, but it takes more than that to make me late. I stopped at the Quick Trip off of I-70 as I have done many times before on my way to Columbia for some gas. Well, an Enterprise moving truck decided to let its driver abandon it on the bridge over the highway, quite successfully blocking the normal flow of traffic through the interchange. If he had gotten the extra foot over to the edge of the road, I probably could have wiggled my little Escort through. Instead, I spent one light cycle waiting for someone to let me in, five or six light cycles waiting to get to the light, one cycle in the middle of the intersection, and a couple more to get past the truck. Fun times.

Undeterred, I spent the next hour joining those divinely-inspired speeding caravans. Fortunately, the two cops I passed happened to see me at about my slowest driving speeds of the trip. Even made it with a couple minutes to spare!

Now why was I headed to Columbia, you ask? Good question. Andy and Kim got married yesterday! I don't know him that well, but they seem sooo perfect for each other. It brings a little nostalgia, getting to see Carrie and Erin from cross country, and Elle looked great, Abby has recovered tremendously from her accident, Emilee is so big, and mainly, of course, memories of Kim, both while we were dating and since. In fact, it's actually really fascinating. I remember my emotions, the intensity of the feelings for her, and am no doubt a better and deeper person because of her. But at the same time, they're different now. I realize that's not particularly revealing for most people, that things change over time. But I am a remarkably stable, long-term kind of guy. I basically feel the same way about the world and the people who have been in my life as I did in high school. In that way, for me, Kim is particularly memorable because she's an exception.

And yes, as any of you who know her can attest, quite the exception she is. Her dress was absolutely gorgeous, and as Kim would have it, not cut just to be flattering, but also cut to be danceable. St Louis folks who want to complain about the country music that seeps into my music collection (or are curious about the first seeds planted for an interest in swing dancing), you are free to blame Kim for that.

I'm in a particularly sappy mood because combined with the excitement that is weddings, I had a couple friends stay with me last night who were in town for family that should be celebrating something exciting but aren't. There were some complications with a birth, and to make a long story short, essentially there is likely substantial brain damage. Thoughts and prayers for them are most welcome.

I came home early this morning to make them a surprise breakfast, but poof they got out of here fast! Now I'll just have to make lots of scrambled eggs and pancakes for myself. What a rough life I live.

I find myself wondering who will bring the excitement next spring? After a slow start, close friends have been getting married now at nice intervals for a couple years. Andrew, Brian, Jayn? Come on, who's throwing the parties next spring? Or if you're really cool, I suppose you could try the New Year's Eve thing. I heard that worked pretty well, too.

5/17/2006

you know you're trapped in an office

when you step outside and blink to the blinding intensity of actual sunlight. Good times.

And speaking of good times, I made an interesting call to Intuit's customer support line today at work. I find the practices of "Americanizing" Indian call center employees rather offensive and unhelpful, and Intuit really takes this to an extreme. (Ok, I don't actually know whether they are an extreme case or the norm, but I don't feel like researching right now. Tough luck.) Yes, I'm a big fan of learning English (the primary impediment for Mexican immigrants, by the way, to being accepted and assimilated by large segments of the population), but that really has little to do with it. It's not even the fact that he goes by "Steve"; after all, "Eric", a guy who just left at work, was a little more familiar than "Ye", although Ye isn't particularly difficult as they can go sometimes.

What did it more for me was the tight control of the phrasing, and how he has to be incredibly passive and accommodating. Any conversation about software support is going to involve some moments of both people talking at once, yet this necessitated an obviously canned response at once apologizing for interrupting me and making sure I said what I needed to say. That level of training and monitoring turns what would be pleasantries in a more natural, interactive conversation into these odd formalities that wreak of everything that's wrong with corporate control of people's behavior.

And don't think for a second that they don't monitor everything the employees do. At the end of the call, they have a script about staying on the line to answer a couple questions about their service to you. Computer questions, of course, asked by a slightly too sanitary female voice whose only accepted responses are numbers on your keypad. What a great way to catch people who haven't counted to ten yet in their frustration about their software not working.

So I gave "Steve" a 7 out of 7 on the first question about being satisfied with his service.

5/15/2006

bye bye blondie

Doesn't matter how hot you are, even on TV, pull a stunt like that and you better be leaving the hospital.

So I joined my roommates to watch the ridiculousness that was the two hour finale of Grey's Anatomy tonight, a special night. It actually was pretty good. Nice and intense, and good to see the especially difficult to believe subplot involving Meredith and Dr. Shepherd left with the appropriate end of season non-suspense. Bravo.

Oh, and killing the dog; that was a nice touch. So symbolic, the end of their relationship. No, wait, time for a little sex in a hospital room before the end of the episode. These people just keep ya guessin'.

5/14/2006

return to lilly's

Julie planned a fun little excursion up to Pere Marquette yesterday (yes, I said Julie and plan in the same sentence!). Hiking when it's not the middle of the summer is definitely the way to go, and it appears we avoided any fun ticks and odd plants and whatnot, too. The trail we started on didn't have any signs or anything to stay on the trail, and there was this great rock outcropping that needed climbing up a rather steep hill. That's always fun when the ground is basically mud and leaves. Anyway, it's a good thing we started on that end, because at the other end of the trail is where we found the sign saying things like watch out for ticks and please stay on the trail. Oops, our bad, if only we'd known.

So, since we were up in Grafton, and as the whole point of exercise is to be able to eat some good down home greasy food, I suggested we head to Lilly's for dinner. I could have that pork tenderloin sandwich every day for the rest of my life!

Mmm, recalling fond memories of camping and getting lost in the cornfields of Illinois...

Oh yeah, and uh, Happy Mother's Day and all that!

5/13/2006

yay

Nothing like poker to put the smile back on your face. And a new kind of Kool-aid.

Sugar rocks.

5/11/2006

suckage

Apologies, as I usually keep this PG, but swing is really kicking my ass right now.

I am not a nice person when I'm frustrated.

*Grrrrrr*

Ok, better. A little.

5/10/2006

primary colors

(P) Ordinarily I am weary of Democrats who go to great lengths to try to court media moguls such as News Corp's Murdoch. To make a long story short, Democrats can sell out, but they're typically not as good as their counterparts in the Republican party, so in the end they get beat playing that game. But with Hillary Clinton's very public association recently in New York, this might actually be a good thing, for it exposes her true colors in unambiguous clarity. Here's a good article, replete with obvious biases against Senator Clinton.

After all, while the Clintons' corporate sympathies with regard to the telecom industry have been clear since at least 1996's terrible legislation, Hillary always had some room for deniability from her husband's actions. Basically, she has now laid the gauntlet to would be challengers for 2008, and I'm hoping somebody really challenges her on it. Media consolidation is an incredibly important issue among people all across the country of all political stripes, and I think this may be the issue with strong enough Democratic grassroots energy to keep Hillary from securing the nomination in 2008. With the combination of an issues focused Al Gore, tremendous success of documentaries like Outfoxed, and a DNC chair sympathetic to media issues, maybe we can keep Hillary in New York.

And that's something we can all get behind.

Well, except Ruport Murdoch. The Clintons have done wonderful things for his business interests in the US. The only thing better for News Corp would be Hillary losing to the Republican nominee.

what's this i see

The Royals aren't the last team to put up double digits in the win column! Thanks Florida.

And we've swept a series, to boot. Look out, uh, Minnesota.

5/09/2006

north american strategy

What's almost as good as last night? Mmm, how about a little world domination. Jack, Eric, and Nate, you put up a good fight. But somebody's gotta win.

Thanks for the idea tonight Eric!

5/07/2006

baby steps

It's amazing how things change in a year. I'm living in St. Louis working at Employment Connection excited about baseball wondering what I'm doing with my life.

Ok, that doesn't sound very different at all than when I started this sucker last May.

Story time then! This weekend the poker part of our poker night was a little bust (ahem, Eric...) but we had fun regardless. Good to see you again Rich. Anyway, the point here is that when Eric and Nikki (sorry, don't know how to spell that) were leaving, I was screwing around and spun around or something on our hardwood floor and Eric exclaimed oh my goodness, what are you doing Nate? (Yes, most of my college friends won't call me anything but Nate or Nathan, but that's neither here nor there.)

The point was that I got called on doing something silly and very not me! Tal, whatever you put on that CD, it must be working. You better watch out Kim, by the time you and Andy get married, I'll be ready for that dance...

Anyway, this blog has followed the big things in my life over a year of relative constancy. But the little things, where life is really lived, have changed oh so much. Yippee. It's too harsh to say I feel abandoned, because we always knew most of us would spread out across the country after school; Wash U isn't exactly a place people come to settle down. And it's very exciting, Adrian and Alex already off at school, hopefully Doug and Kelly not far behind, Brad off his butt and off to Cali for work, hopefully Lauren enjoying a job that lets her travel, Viraj, Raych, Jer, Sheena, and so forth. But that doesn't make it any easier, because I'd be lying if I didn't admit it would be wonderful if college could go on forever, without the need to pay those bills.

But I'm usually at my best when pushed, and without Doug to take to the Fatted Calf every other day and Adrian to play ball with, well, I've found an even better exercise and dinner date (hmm, I wonder if she has found Stay Curious yet?). No offense guys, of course. And with nothing to lose, no one I know to see me struggle, I'm off exploring the weird weird world that is social dancing. I'm certainly not into it the way that most of them are, but my curiosity is still engaged, so who knows how long I'll be with this most entertaining crowd?

As far as stay curious itself, I'm not sure where it's going; there's no plan or anything. Right now it's me letting me spend time on me. Most of my life is about other people and what I want to do in and for the world; this is a familiar, safe place to think about and be absorbed with myself.

That's not to say, of course, I hope you do anything but enjoy the ride!

How do I measure a year? How about 239 posts.

And praising every day my sister waits after today to get her license. That's one of those things that will make me feel really old, my little sister driving.

5/06/2006

one more day

Yes, my sister's birthday is tomorrow. But even more exciting is another birthday! That's right, stay curious turns 1 tomorrow.

In preparation for the festivities, let me give major props to a company. After all, even though it's usually more fun writing about the (relatively) few problems in our economic system, you confuse me for a pinko commie leftie whateverie at your own peril.

I hate shopping. It is, unfortunately, quite necessary on certain occasions, particularly certain special occasions. However, let me say that Bed Bath N Beyond just made my day. I got in, the staff was friendly and helpful (hmm, who can argue with all of four different young women helping me out?), and I got out.

Not without falling for one of the oldest tricks in the book, though. You see, they are kind enough to offer complimentary gift wrapping with wedding registries. No doubt, you, like everyone else on the planet, already knew this, but I'm still a relative newbie in the wedding world, and this was fascinating to me. That's a fantastic bargain, and a great example of market forces delivering a product that is much needed (ie, help with the obligatory arcane rituals of gift giving). Also interestingly, I found out that complimentary does not mean free. You see, they make you wait up there while they wrap it, with way too friendly staff hanging around with nothing better to do than talk to you. And they set out items which you think, woah, that's cheap, relative to prices you've seen around the rest of the store. Then they stick bright colorful stickers and other paraphanelia in strategic locations.

Presto. I buy something while my gift wrap is being done "for free".

But no more details right now, lest someone is reading my blog :)

Other than my roommates, of course; they're awesome, and they can know what's super top secret.

Well, I take that back; they're giving me a hard time right now, so maybe they're sort of awesome. I'm trying to help them find a file of the Stephen Colbert video from the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Hmm, a couple days ago you could get it from iFilm to youtube. Now why on Earth would the owners of C-SPAN be interested in getting that particular video file pulled? Maybe the same reason the whole corporate media ignored him, then lampooned him, to begin with...nah, that can't be it.

5/02/2006

back to basics

As I approach a very exciting date, one whole year of blogger fun, I thought I'd grab one of those bulletins that zip around the web and talk about my ABCs. Enjoy!

A - Available?: Unfortunately, not very often. This time last year I was worried because most of the people I hung out with were leaving town, and now I can't even find time to sleep enough.

B - Best Friend?: All of you! Yes, that is both purposefully vague and not very helpful. Sue me. Or bite me, as one friend might say.

C - Crush?: Ooh, those are fun!

D - Dogs name?: Yeah, right.

E - Easiest Person To Talk To?: Again, difficult to narrow down, but this time I'll give you a name: Becki.

F - Friday or Saturday?: Saturdays rock my face off.

G - Gummy bears or worms?: Bears, duh! Where did I go to school?

H - Hometown?: Liberty, MO...boren 'n rayzed

I - If You Could Move Would You?: If by could, you mean money not an issue, absolutely! I want a mansion on the beach either in the French Rivierra or a South Pacific island. Otherwise, no, I am right where I want to be. Have you seen my apartment? Who would want to move out of it?

J - Jesus?: That's a good J. I think, at least. Does it start with J in aramaic or Greek? [mind wandering off to name of God in Indiana Jones movie...]

K - Kids?: Way too many of them. Actually, I like kids, as long as they belong to other people.

L - Last person you hugged?: Charity...mmm, hope you had fun blues dancing ;)

M - Milk Flavor?: skim

N - Number Of Siblings?: 2

O - One Wish?: purpose

P - Phobia(s) - too many to name; heights, losing my teeth, becoming severely disabled (I really should fill out a living will), awkward social situations, failure, rejection, being in a place where I'm not wanted, and many more

Q - Favorite Quote?: How can you pick one? I have four on my facebook profile, so let me add a different one: "and the greatest of these is love"

R - Reason to smile?: No reason required!

S- Favorite song?: I honestly have no idea. How can one song possibly transcend all the rest? I really love "Impression that I get" by Might Mighty Bosstones.

T - Time You Woke Up?: 7:05 am

U - Unknown Fact About You?: Ha, now how would it remain unknown? How about this: I just started blues dancing.

V - Vegetable You Love?: corn on the cob

W - Worst Habit?: I take things too personally.

X - X-Rays You've Had?: wrist, teeth

Y - Yummy Food?: now that's repetitive. As far as a nice meal, either filet mignon wrapped in bacon or chicken parmesan. As far as pure guilty addiction, glazed donut holes. They're worse than crack.

Z- Zodiac sign?: [before google] what's that? [after google] In the tropical calendar, I'm an Aries, full of the fresh vigor of early spring.