Surreally Seducted: Damn You Salvador Dalí!

One monkey promoting the ceaseless propagation of useless crap on the internets since a long time ago.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Just like you said it would be

Tonight I realized how little I know or understand the "market." Tweedlebrother is a lot smarter than I ever really gave him credit for. So tweedlebrother, I salute you. But I still think I'm right about schools.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again.

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The Catholic Church is contemplating banning celibate gays. Their reasoning? Since most of the molestation cases were man-on-boy, homosexuals are the problem (actually, gays are the problem. non-celibate gays in fact). The Church says 80% of molestations involving Priests were man-on-boy. By this reasoning, then, man-on-girl molestation by priests is ok.

This reminds me of a myth/fact about anti-bacterial soap. It not only helps get rid of the bad germs on your hands, it gets rid of the good germs too. Which is all-well-and-good, until you remember that good bacteria are good because they help you, and killing them is not usually considered a good thing to do.

Much like soap, the Catholic Church is throwing the baby Jesus out with the holy bathwater. Most celibate gays are not molesters, and many hetero celibates are not molesters either.

It's those priests who break their vow of celibacy, those priests who like to imagine little boys and little girls, and those priests who are sexually immature that are the problem. Is there a way to test for it? I really don't know. I was going to say that child-molesting priests are probably akin to idiot Presidents and looters: when they are in a normal situation they are repulsed by the thought of the actions they will commit, but when in a position of power and dominance, or exigent situations, they commit their actions without even a backwards glance or a hint of [gasp] Catholic guilt. But then I realized that priests probably understand that what they are doing is wrong, that idiots do not have the capability to understand it, and that looters are often doing so to save themselves. Of these, the priests are the most heinous of criminals. Futhermore, not all child-molesters are priests, so therefore the hypothesis that it takes a position of power for the priests to act upon their thoughts is untested, and, indeed, it is quite possible that the priests, had they not ever been ordained, would still commit their heinous crimes. Like many things, there is no way for us to test anyone's predisposition to a crime. This leaves the Church in an understable bind, but perhaps it is time for them to admit that there is a problem and look for ways to solve it without restricting a mostly harmless group of people.

Monday, September 26, 2005

When I think of heaven

Snow flicked up over the tips of our skis. The three of us had decided to take one last trip around the mountain as the sun began to dip into the lake. Powder days like these were few and far between, especially for the three of us coming from the frozen peaks of the northeast. We were unfamiliar with the mountain, our usually reliable "guide" having taken the afternoon off to go shopping with her friend. Years later, I would be able to find my way into nooks and crannies that are the habitats of the locals, but at this time, our first time, we missed the easy turn that would drop us onto the front side of the mountain and take us directly to the parking lot. Instead, we were taken immediately into the waist deep powder. None of us had powder skis. Joey had his snowboard, but it wasn't at all useful on the flats. Mike, weighing less than the snow itself, was able to pole himself along, at least most of the way. Joey and I, however, took turns making footprints for each other. The pure driven snow was becoming the hellscape that it must have been for Robert Scott. Well, not so much. Despite the snow filling our boots and the blowing snow, we knew where the bottom lift station was (and dammit there's ski patrol and we're inbounds, right?), so we kept on hiking that way. We caught the last lift, up to the top heading across the cornices instead of over them. We followed signs back to the front, taking a slightly more technical route in the dying light of the afternoon.

I'm getting nostalgic for winter.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I need an adult...

We used to look across from the Palisades. We'd pull off the highway to go to the bathroom, and I'd look out over the cliffs and up at the city lights. So big and daunting and beautiful.

I got lost one time and found a shortcut coming back from the city. The Yankees were on the radio and lightning was lighting up the dusk. Maybe the Yankees were playing the Red Sox, but I really cannot remember. I had spent the day in the city with my sister up on a roof with some friends of her friend. There hadn't been any clouds, and I remember seeing a blimp heading to the Bronx. I was uncomfortable. I always am. Heights and an unforgiving fear of familiar strangers weren't a good combination. Instead of reaching out and making new friends, I sat in my chair and talked to the two people I knew there. It's a common problem: I rationalize that I will probably not see these friends of friends of friends again, so it's not really worth making friends. So I pull my turtle manuever, and like a kid at Disney World, I make sure I keep my hands and feet inside my shell.

Driving back across the Hudson from the Palisades Parkway, I remember the lights of the tunnel leading on to the bridge. It is a lasting impression.

Andy you're a star

One of the things that I don't like about celebrity fund raisers/telethons is that celebrities just sign on to help out. Which is great, but wouldn't it be more meaningful to have victims on asking for help? I'm not saying asking Kanye West style. I mean, saying this is me, this is what I lost, please help. Much more meaningful than the Rolling Stones singing a song about love.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

It's a silly game for rich young boys to play

So I was reading this CIA article today, and musing to myself about espionage, war, and national governments. I've posted before, or at least I hope I have, that ideologies are a dangerous things. Anyhow, while reading this, it shocked me how much the whole thing is treated as a game, as though human lives are points to be won or lost. I think that as you go up the ladder of beauracracy, people take the game less seriously. The same can be said for anything at the government level.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Same difference

From a psychological level, the country seems a lot less shocked and outraged over the deaths from Katrina. The markets remained, Letterman and Stewart were on the next week (Letterman may have been on last week but I wasn't watching), and life, for most people, remained normal. The scale of the two tragedies, however, would lead one to believe that there would be more national pain over New Orleans than the destruction of the World Trade Centers. I can think of a few reasons why 9/11 cut so deep psychologically (the fact that the deaths were nearly instantaneous, the implied threat to the nation, the fact that it was unprecedented in method), but the fact of the matter is that the economic and personal impact of Katrina will probably be felt much longer than 9/11. A city has been nearly wiped off the map; the deaths, one week later, remain unestimated (thousands); the whole economy has been affected (gas prices). This is not to say that one disaster is less tragic than the other. In fact, I understand why the shock and horror may be less. I just find it interesting.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Chernobyl not as deadly as feared?

New news on Chernobyl today.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Cornrows

The sun sets, but that doesn't alter the landscape all that much. Row after row of corn has yielded to broken down houses with broken down cars in their broken down lawns. The weeds, however, grow as tall as the corn, and in the dying light of this day, like every other day, the tall weeds could, with a little leap of the imagination (for those without faith, a leap of imagination is all we have), be a stalk of corn. Angry headlights flicker in the distance. Lone figures walk along the side of the road, risking their lives as cars and trucks rumble by. Beside me, A_______ stirs. She's exhausted, as she has been for weeks, but there's been little either of us could do. We're both nocturnal (like vampires, only without the whole blood sucking, fang-toothed, already dead traits), and being up during the day was incredibly draining for both of us. She asks me where we are. I have no clue, only that we're on the right road. Or that we were when she fell asleep. To be honest, we might have been driving the wrong way for the past hour. It's possible, but the landscape hasn't changed all that much.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Give yourself

My sister reminds us that things happen every day in every city that are heart-breaking.

Tulane

Tulane has an interesting, though heartbreaking problem. What does Tulane do now? I see three primary options:

1. They close for the fall semester, and open after New Years. They graduate the class of 2006 in 2006, and so on. Now, there is the certain problem pertaining to classrooom size, as incoming classes in following years come in (for instance, imagine an Econ 101 class. It's heavily enrolled in a normal year. If they teach it in the spring, what will those students who start next fall take? They could teach it the next semester as well, it would just take some logistics for a little while).

2. They close for the academic year. Next year's incoming class is twice the size of a normal class (assuming they admit students). I don't know if this causes problems with university housing (I don't know how it is done at Tulane).Again, some courses will be very heavily enrolled (there will be two freshman classes, one sophomore class, one junior class and one senior class). Again, a logistical nightmare.

Scenario 3. Tulane does not accept students this year and stays closed for the entire year. This makes things very complicated for students (What do they do for the year? Can the economy accomodate them and provide jobs for them on a one-year basis?).

I suppose there are other options as well, although I think these are the three most probable. Tulane does have an emergency website up here.

More on the governmental failure

For the federal government, it's one thing to be caught completely off-guard by a terrorist attack. It's another thing to know a storm is coming and not have anything in place to help those people who cannot get out of it's way is a critical failure and one for which those in charge should be held responsible.

Of note, it's not enough to say "We've given FEMA some money to deal with this" [as I believe the President did] the Friday or Saturday before landfall. Perhaps it would have been smarter to say, "We've started pre-positioning supplies, hospitals, beds, and personnel in case the worst-case scenarios come to pass." But then, this is a government that has never planned for the worst-case scenario, and perhaps has never planned for anything.

It is now Thursday. Little, if any, help has arrived from the Federal Government. How they were caught off guard by a hurricane is beyond me, but it's not an election year so helping America's most downtrodden is not in the President's best interest I suppose.

They always have such pretty names...

What has happened in New Orleans will have a ripple effect on society much greater than that of September 11th. Regardless of the death toll, which may well be higher, things in the southeastern United States, and for that matter, the whole country, will be radically affected for years to come. Let's examine why:

Regardless of the failures of the federal government to plan and react (and the federal government has failed), the contigency plans put in place for evacuees before the storm would necessarily disrupt life in Louisiana regardless of the damage from the storm. Shelters often come in the form of school buildings. This is a good idea on its face. After all, they are designed to house hundreds or thousands of children (at least for hours), have kitchens, bathrooms, and often showers. Where this fails is when people are required to stay in the shelters for prolonged periods of time, as they will be now. Schools will be disrupted. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, 150,000 school children will be forced to be educated elsewhere. Many schools in the region are already at or beyond capacity. Textbooks do not miraculously appear from nowhere, and neither do classrooms. Unfortunately, I don't really see a solution to this. 150,000 students is a lot of students. It's a lot of families that have to go somewhere. I'm sure that right now education, for a lot of these people, is the last thing on their minds. If they have to wait three months to get their schools back, will they be kept in school for 18 straight months to get back on a normal schedule with other regions?

Now I realize that a lot of people don't sign up for the military because they are worried about all the negatives (namely, death). Right now, the National Guard and Reserves are about as good an option for most as being in the armed forces themselves. Whether this is a matter of this stupid stupid war or not, perhaps it is time to start a National Disaster Reserves. A group of people with the same committment as the Armed Forces Reserves, but who are dedicated to the cleanup and rebuilding after natural and unnatural disasters. And normally, that'd fall under the purview of the National Guard I think, but maybe this is a better way to get people to serve? I know I'd do it.

There's so much more that can be said about Katrina. Maybe later. But this might just be the downfall of our idiot president and his administration, especially if they continue to bungle relief efforts and stories like these continue to come out.