A Journal. Online.

Electronic pencils, chewed down to the nub.

Woosh. There it goes.
I watched an accident happen on my commute home today. Nobody was seriously hurt, but it was harrowing.

It was the last intersection on North 301 before taking the exit for US 50. If you hang a right, you go to Carrabba's. Left goes to the Target shopping center. I was in the rightmost lane that doesn't turn, in anticipation of taking the exit for US 50. I was the first person stopped at the light. The guy blasted into the intersection well after it turned red.

He passed by and I watched him. I had enough time to think "Should I be stopped? Is the light actually red?" I looked up to see that it was, and looked down to see the truck plow into two other pickup trucks coming from the side road in a primal display of pure physics.

Now, what bothers me is twofold:

1) If I was in the next lane over, which was a distinct possibility if I chose to go through Crofton instead of up I97, the guy would have hit me at forty miles per hour and pushed me into the oncoming traffic.

2) When it counted, I fumbled with the phone and took a good while to get out of the car and get over to the trucks to make sure that everyone was okay. I was the first person there and could have gotten off the snide faster.

Also, I didn't do much at work today. It would have been a shitty day to perish.

The Newest New
Conventional wisdom suggests that the Democrats are going to be whupped in this year's election, turning the Congress over to a radicalized GOP and their teabagger overlords.

I'm beginning to believe that may be overstating things. The teabagger fury is playing itself out, and may not have enough oomph to get to November. Besides some pretty crazy crises that suggest stronger government may be the answer (i.e. to counteract the polluting and lying corporations) there are two things that lead me to this belief.

First, after the terrorist school drop-out was thwarted in turning Times Square into a smoking wasteland, Mayor Bloomberg suggested that we'd find out the bomber was somebody that is deranged or angry at the government. Not only did his prediction turn out to be incorrect, it wasn't met with a batted eyelash from anyone in the media. Teabaggers are the next smokers, looked upon as a public scourge to be shunned.

Second, this new Macy Gray song has been cropping up recently. I'm pretty sure we're going to be stuck with it all summer, so get used to hearing it at Starbucks and in waiting rooms. It's one of those gleaming beams of positive feeling that's just enough on this side of listenable to be a bulwark to nattering negativity of the teabaggers.

So, popular music as a barometer of political feeling? Hell, that's as good a predictor as any.

There will be math
I have determined that all entertainment has a simple formula:

(fun x novelty)
------------------------------------------ = dedicated time
(feels like work)^2 x (salary)^.5

This is, by definition, why it is entertainment and not work.

This is also why everything from television to LJ to Facebook to Twitter will eventually devolve into a dozen creators and a bazillion casual watchers. Only people who are 1) having shitloads of fun, or 2) paid handsomely, are willing to move past the novelty phase and have a long-term relationship with a medium as creators.

But the blank page, the open Post An Entry box, the bare Status Update are really fucking shitty when it starts to feel like work. And there is so much that makes it feel like work. Expectations for one. Or that too many work people have friended you. That's a fast path to feeling like work.

Or when there are umteen gazillion unread messages that you have to read before responding. That's a direct path to simply logging out.

Oh well. Does that mean I'm changing how I deal with LJ or Facebook? Likely not. But I am on the lookout for something more entertaining.

(no subject)
I feel absolutely acidic today. Not attitude wise, I'm quite positive about getting things done. And not weather wise, I don't mind the rain. And the rain. And the rain.

Even so, it's not a good kind of rain. It's not silvery pre-winter rain that looks like digital film showing people in black coats walking slowly through a modern city over Moby's Porcelain. And it's not blue deep-spring rain of potential and warmth. It's a drab rain, an early un-leafed spring rain, a Van Morrison kind of rain.

So that might add to my overall poor feeling. But there is still an underlying ache that tastes like bile and pokes at me every time I move. It's as if sleep built up in my system and was not properly released. It curdled right at my temples and my collarbone. My shoulders ache enough to make my elbows tickle. And the room was too warm, so every time I woke up, I was overheated and sweating.

Weird dreams, too. Mustard and wine at midnight kind of dreams. Or maybe burritos, which was what I actually had for dinner. Dinner wasn't too early, so who knows. I don't think it was that. Although, at one point in the dreams, a supreme court justice was peering down a friend's cleavage. That might have been the burrito.

Now I'm in a shirt and tie at my desk. I wore one of my shirts that had a little more neck room, but I still feel choked and knotted. The tie not too tight and is still preventing anything from migrating or dispersing. It's the existence of the tie, telling me that it is fighting any circulation regardless of how comfortable it is.

If this was a hangover, I could deal with it by feeling sorry for myself and swearing off booze for twelve to fourteen hours. If this was the flu, I could go home. If this was a muscle ache, we'd be looking for some Advil.

But it'sn one of those things. I suppose I'm just acidic today.

Tabla rascal
I was having a discussion with someone a couple of weeks ago. Wide range of topics and pretty interesting. I made the off-hand remark about blowing up the world, and how we're going to do it any day now. "Now that they got that thing in the Alps up and running."

"Hahahaha," he said. "Being scared of dangers from the LHC is my measure of stupidity."

This cut a little too close to home. I'm terrified of that machine. It's a residual fear. I've done enough reading to understand what experiments they're actually trying to run (naturally occurring high-energy collisions in a controlled and sensor rich environment), and the likelihood of something bad happening (nil), and what would happen in the very unlikely event they produced a black hole (for a micro-black hole that doesn't instantly vaporize, eating an electron would be akin to trying to suck a bowling ball through a coffee stirrer) This machine is really an achievement. But I wet myself every time they turn on a new particle accelerator. It's been this way for so many years that it's almost a personality defect.

Following this conversation, I've started to become preoccupied with the things I use to tag someone as stupid. Thinking about it, I have freely identified folks as a morons. You may be a moron if you can't write a complete sentence. You're likely a moron if you see a Sandra Bullock movie on opening night. You are absolutely a moron if you hum along with the soul killing music at Starbucks. I was pretty cutthroat.

Verily, it came to pass that my definition of morons has become more nuanced. Maybe it's that I'm getting old and the fire is going out. Or maybe I've just met enough genuinely nice people of varying capacities and opinions.

For example, I don't see it being a problem if you question vaccinations. We require a lot, and it's fair to openly demand what's going into your body. Now, if you jump the fence and become one of those anti-vax lunatics, you're a moron. And that's because you've become a danger to me, my community and - most unforgivably - the baby.

Similarly, I find no issues with disliking Obama. He's a controversial figure, so go ahead and disagree with him. But once you abdicate your senses and start with the Birther crap, you have self-identified as a moron. Good job. Go away.

The interesting thing is that while my threshold for morons has lowered, the raw number of morons has increased. And that worries me. It is not just they're uneducated. It is the purposefully anti-educated, the ones that have deliberately un-learned everything that makes modern society function, from logic and reason to civility and respect.

And once they are that blank slate, they're ready to be recast based on the first Google search result. In many ways, they've become nothing more than jabbering flash drives, constantly spilling out at the mouth with whatever they've been most recently overwritten.

Of course, it's always been the way where the upper class (of which I appear to be a member) laments and fears the lower classes. It is a bit interesting that most of the biggest fools to fear are also upper class. They have the time to spend in front of the television, and the resources to do it. The poor, usual culprits for popular uprisings, are just busy paying their medical bills. But we have to think we live in unique times, just to make ourselves feel better.

You know, nothing would be more unique than the world blowing up.

The expanding gyre.
I was trying to figure out a pithy Facebook status update today. I've been working on reviewing an application and it's been sitting kind of heavily on my mind. The project itself isn't important, but the applicant is a moron. He's asking the county to do something it has no inclination to do. So he decides to lace his language with flowery overstatement and complete bloviation.

Then he gets the legal issues wrong. He tosses about takings issues like he's a hassled developer who is being asked to fork two-thirds of his property over to public use. Actually, he's a subsequent purchaser who should have done his due diligence and seen the 25' wide easement that runs across the rear of his yard. Where something comes close to being applicable, his readings of legal opinion are patently incorrect.

And he uses the word "toll" like it's ringing a bell. Trying to say the action gives rise to a takings claim, he says "the county's action on our property tolls the takings clause of the 5th amendment." The earnestness of his language makes its misuse sound silly. Like the prison inmate on In Living Color. Or Al Sharpton.

Not to mention, if he wants to complain about these things, he has to go to court. Arguing in front of an appointed planning board is not for his little poseur self.

So this was pretty good fodder for a fun status update. Until I thought through the list of folks who would be reading it. Sure there are other lawyers and planners who would get a snicker out of it. But there are also co-workers on my friends list. While I wasn't taking a swipe at them, they are working on this project. Suffice to say, it all became too complicated too quickly.

There is something to be said for avatars and pseudo-anonymity. Sure, it can lead to being an dickwad in forums or chatrooms. But keeping small the circle of people you get to complain at or chat with or impress with your wittyness has something going for it.

So, maybe it's time to reexamine myself and the FB friends whore I have become. Do I really want to dump this nonsense on other people? Do I want to cut myself and my wit off from the forum of people who may actually find me amusing in the name of sheer friend numbers?

Or maybe I just have to get back to where I can say interesting things, at length and to people who are interesting enough to listen. Like MySpace.

(no subject)
I cancelled my subscription to the New York Times today. I was getting the Sunday paper only. But it feels like a loss that our house will not have a weekly influx of newsprint.

There are a couple things that led to this decision. I don't commute in a way that allows me to read the paper. It took me a week to read the entire Sunday paper before the baby was born. Now I get through three sections over the course of the week, and scan the rest before dumping them into the compost heap. Unfortunately, it takes a little time for the papers to get to the compost heap. I have several accumulations of papers throughout the house. Upstairs are the ones from September and October. Downstairs, near the fireplace, are ones from mid-summer on. Before my stability is questioned, I thought it was time to reduce the inflow to zero.

Now, why would I get the New York Times instead of a more local paper? Mostly because the Baltimore Sun is staffed by half literate inbreeds who couldn't write a good article if the ghost of Mencken possessed their bodies and did the typing for them. Most of their articles are reformulated press releases and their overall journalistic value is only elevated by laying out the entire paper on the floor and shitting in the middle. Also, the Times has the Book section, the Times Magazine and the Week in Review that I really enjoy.

So when the guy asked why I was cancelling my subscription, I told him that I liked the paper but most of it went to waste. And at the expense ($7.50 per week) of home delivery, I couldn't justify it any more. Asked what might keep me as a subscriber, I told him to put those three sections in the mail and have them to me on Monday morning. He said they couldn't do that.

It bothers me to be ignored when I am telling them what adds value to my experience with their product.

Lingering over the whole paper is not a luxury I can always afford. There is so much information constantly coming at me that I want my news and my business and my sports to be focused and give me the parts that best serve me. These sections are commodity news, bulk information that is stale by the time it gets put onto paper and delivered to your house. Give them to me as a feed directly into my computer.

But once these sections are removed, there is still value in the serendipity of newsprint. I like taking my foot off of the gas, releasing the wheel and allowing the editor to steer the direction of my thoughts and ideas. Through the layout of pages, the selection of stories, and the themes of each article, I get to ride along for a little while. I would be willing to pay for hard copies of these other sections, full of well researched articles, lovely photographs and interesting ideas. Just trim the fat and some of the price and we'll have something to work with.

And it would help if the whole paper was in tabloid, so I could read it on the can.

Rules for a Proper Hate Obituary
We are now approaching the 24-hour mark following the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, youngest scion of Camelot and bearer of the torch of liberalism for the past thirty years. We have spent the day listening and reading many very glowing obituaries for the Lion of the Senate. Now we prepare for the backlash.

Before that begins, I believe we need to review the three rules for drafting the proper hate obituary:

1) Your writing has to be interesting. If you stutter through twelve paragraphs of "he was a doodie head", you are failing as a person, much less a writer. The true hate obituary weaves words together in order to set a torch to the memory of an otherwise great person. If you are only playing with wet matches, go the hell home.

2) You have to know the person. A proper hate obituary has to be personal. You can't be some low grade newspaper hack or anonymous "political" blogger. If that person couldn't pick you out of a lineup if your hair was on fire and you were wearing a Falcon's #7 jersey, you do not have standing to hold that person's jockstrap. Your obituary will simply rehash all of the tired old tropes about the person, and we will all be worse for it.

3) The person has to know you hated them. No pot shots after death to ride the anti-canonization bandwagon, slacker. Say you had been close enough to the person to taste the stench of the devil on his clothes and have his foul breath peel back the edge of your scalp. If you were a coward and smiled at his crooked teeth and shook his sickly little hand, you lost your opportunity. Purest hate, that which creates a proper hate obituary, can only be fostered on a personal, reciprocal level. Don't be a poseur.

Now, for perspective, the highest and best example of a proper hate obituary can be found here. Good luck.

[cross posted from talk_politics]

(no subject)
My shoe keeps eating my sock. I like these shoes. They are new and pretty comfortable. So I don't want to blame them.

However, I am very hesitant to believe that the elastic has failed on the top of all of my socks, simultaneously. And only the right socks. And failed enough so that, even without walking, the heel ends up under the ball of my foot and the top cuff slips under the rim of my shoe. Exposed ankles suggest something is amiss.

This leads me to the only reasonable conclusion: my right shoe is an alien symbiote. I have felt unrested recently, and woke up sweating. My shoe does reside under my bed, with easy access to my sleeping person. My eating has been different and I feel a deep, personal hatred of Spiderman.

Also, for the week we were on vacation, such things did not happen. My shoe was three hundred miles away, back at the house. I believe it was sitting in the under-the-bed darkness, plotting my demise. Or the demise of more of my right socks.

(no subject)
Mom and Dad are at the house today, watching the baby. The day care lady has the week off, as she is allowed several times throughout the year, so we have recruited family to fill the gap.

There were some problems getting things engaged this morning. Our mornings are a well ordered machine involving me feeding, cleaning, and clothing the baby (and myself) in a set routine, then heading over to day care.

The important part was that last one. We leave the house and take the baby somewhere else. She does not stay at home all day without us. She goes somewhere that is equipped to care for her throughout the day.

We are prepared to care for a baby, as we have been doing it now for eight straight months. And our house is able to support the baby with minimal injury. However, our care for the child is holistic, where the house needs us to be there, and we need the house.

More importantly, our house needs us and all the crap in our cars. Strollers, car seats, booster chairs, baby slings and a bunch of other stuff for the amusement of the baby are strategically hidden in the car. The exact same car that blythefishy drove to work two hours before Mom and Dad showed up this morning.

So, Mom and Dad are not just watching the baby. They are stuck at the house watching the baby. I truly appreciate their effort. But I'm worried Dad will get bored and start searching through my crap. Last time he did that was in high school, and I was yelled at when I got home.


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