I was quite disappointed when I came across this open letter from leaders of eight European countries supporting the President's position on Iraq. What happened to the "future cosmopolitan order" we spoke of earlier? I have to say I expected this from Britain but the rest of you should be ashamed of yourselves. Must we fall back on France and Germany for opposition? No word yet on the highly anticipated Austria/Croatia joint statement.
Nelson Mandela has some strong words for the President, not to mention calling out Tony Blair. I'm not sure about his claim that Bush's behavior can be explained by the color of Kofi Annan's skin. I'm not saying that Bush is or isn't a racist, I just think in this case he would not discriminate in defying any Secretary General, regardless of ethnicity.
And last but not least, Lia makes an excellent point.
Like all good and patriotic Americans, Digby and I attentively watched the State of the Union address tonight. While it's easy enough to laugh through some of the domestic policy promises (how about Bush explaining the chemistry behind hydrogen-powered cars? Classic.), when the talk turns to terrorism and war, the man honestly scares me. When he said (of those who have been killed by the U.S. military action since September 11th) "Let's just put it this way--they won't be a problem for America anymore" with that sickening look of restrained glee, I was chilled to the bone.
Digby, on the other hand, was more physically affected. He sat smugly through the first half of the address but as Bush began to build support for military action in Iraq, he became increasingly antsy. When it had reached a near fever pitch, he made me take him outside. He walked around for a bit and then shot me a look that said "I'll show you what I think of that speech." You can guess what he did next.
Today is my 23rd birthday and I think the first that I've really been able to dedicate to the traditional activities of introspection and reflection on the years that came before. There are a few reasons for this, the most important being that my years as an official student are over (for now) and my life as an "adult" has begun. Yet no matter what winding path my thoughts have taken through my memories over the course of the day, they've always brought me back to one recurring theme: I am so lucky. I feel like I've already received a whole lifetime's worth of blessings in the short twenty-two years I've lived. To attempt to enumerate them here would be futile. I don't think a person can ask for much more than that.
One question remains: what am I to do with all of this? I'm still trying to figure that out myself. I'm doing the best that I can.
As an accompaniment to this story on the President's release of $200 million "to help millions of low-income people pay their heating bills," ABC News ran this AP photo (also picked up by Google News:
Perhaps they should've read the AP caption first:
"A Duke student walks past a deserted Krzyzewskiville on the Duke University campus in Durham, N.C., campus Thursday Jan. 23, 2003. Students usually camp out in anticipation of basketball tickets, but the brutally cold weather had turned the place into a ghost town."I hope the $200 million won't be going to low-income Duke University students. January 24, 2003
Tonight was Digby's third and final puppy training class and despite the progress he has made, it was not an enjoyable one. The instructor, a licensed trainer of police dogs, chose to make an example of him at the beginning of class. You might be surprised to know that Digby, a terrier puppy, can be quite hyperactive, a trait discouraged by mean trainers. We were told (and shown) that when this activity becomes uncontrollable in small dogs, you should cradle the puppy on its back in your arms, grab it by the scruff of the neck to control its head, and hold its front legs firmly against its chest until it relaxes. As uncomfortable as this is to picture, it is even more brutal in practice and certainly not an easy concept to stomach for my tender puppy. I would post a picture of this deathlock in action but it would bring you all to tears. Alas, it does make sense and did seem to produce some results. After seeing how the trainer's dog behaved, I'm willing to try everything shy of cruel and unusual punishment to instill just a fraction of that obedience in Digby.
Despite receiving a diploma and a bag of treats for passing the class, Digby was inconsolable when we got home. He quietly ate his dinner and has been sleeping in the kennel ever since, probably hoping to awake in a world where we don't exist and can never do that to him again. But the training must go on. After all, he doesn't always behave like this:
(Photo album coming soon, I promise.) January 22, 2003 | Comments (1)
I love American Idol. Not for the bad audition tapes or Simon's cruel wisecracking, but because it makes my wife laugh out loud for the duration of the time it's on. This is a rare commodity of late and, as a result, priceless.January 22, 2003 | Comments (1)
I just spent the past couple of hours working out some quirks in the pattern matching of a Perl script I wrote, for personal use nonetheless. It's bad enough that I spend my days hunched over a keyboard with several O'Reilly Perl books at my side, trying the myriad available solutions for every small yet frustrating problem, but now it has started to take over the rest of my life, like an unstoppable rebel force. Despite this, I have to say that it is quite fun. Perhaps this is proof that I am no longer thinking clearly.January 21, 2003
While Get Your War On (latest page) has been a timely and much needed sarcastic commentary on the current administration, I think My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable is the funniest stuff David Rees has done/is doing. Check out the latest installation, Horse Races, to see what I mean. If the Z-6 Tracking System doesn't get you laughing, I cannot help you.January 19, 2003
John LeCarre's article "The United States of America has gone mad" is an animated (but nonetheless mostly accurate) indictment of the current administration:
"The religious cant that will send American troops into battle is perhaps the most sickening aspect of this surreal war-to-be. Bush has an arm-lock on God. And God has very particular political opinions. God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America's Middle Eastern policy, and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist."It also complements the interview with Jürgen Habermas that I read recently in The Nation quite well:
"At that time (NATO's Kosovo intervention in 1999), one could already see characteristic national differences in the modes of justification. In Continental Europe, proponents of intervention took pains to shore up rather weak arguments from international law by pointing out that the action was intended to promote what they saw as the transition from a soft international law toward a fully implemented human rights regime, whereas both US and British advocates remained in their tradition of liberal nationalism. They did not appeal to 'principles' of a future cosmopolitan order but were satisfied to enforce their demand for international recognition of what they perceived to be the universalistic force of their own national 'values.'"January 17, 2003
In the few days since discovering Textism, I have become positively (and perhaps unhealthily) enamored with the life and times of Dean Allen. If it was possible to get a tangible glimpse of where your life was headed, I wouldn't mind seeing this as mine. Here's why:
After a week's worth of frustrated work, I have made Gentoo mine. Many will not understand how a feat like firmly grasping another Linux distribution is satisfying on so many levels, but for the few who do, join me in my revelry (after some well-deserved sleep).January 15, 2003
While we're all collectively waiting for me to put the latest pictures of Digby into an online photo album, let me tell you how my simple task for the night--picking up a few groceries--became much more complicated and time-consuming than it needed to be.
I am a wildly inefficient grocery-shopper. I start with the good intentions of grabbing everything quickly and checking out that eventually deteriorate into a desperate scramble to find what I need before the store closes. To begin with, I find that supermarkets are not organized in the most intuitive fashion. Maybe this is because my mind functions differently than most store managers or perhaps it's because of my irrepressible engineering instincts. Either way, about halfway through every trip, I find myself longing for the ability to google the store inventory for the availability and location of its contents. I realize that this is sad. Since I have no idea where anything is, I end up searching for things as they appear on the list provided by my wife, which leaves my frozen goods decidedly less frozen by the time I leave. On top of this, I am shopping for a pregnant wife with very specific desires and for myself, with little time and energy for cooking during the week. Needless to say, I escaped relatively unscathed, although exhausted. As I bagged my own groceries (unheard of where I come from) with tears silently running down my cheeks, the cashier doubled my coupons and wished me a good night.
However, I would like to leave you on a more cheerful note. Although there are scientific studies supporting and condemning nearly everything these days (I am reminded of Kevin Guilfoile's Morning News article), I happen to like the results of this study and I will raise a glass to it. Cheers.
Stumbling across Arts & Letters Daily today was like stumbling out of bed on Christmas morning to find more gifts than you could open in a day. Maybe it's the philosophy junkie in me. Or maybe there's enough content there to overwhelm anyone's appetite. It will take me the better part of a year to happily trudge through everything there.
Also, Digby started obedience training today. He is pouring all his energy into the class, if not the actual training and instruction. This has also inspired me to coin a new catchphrase for your use in casual (and eventually professional) conversation. And the catchphrase is...."that's not my puppy to train." This is a way of saying "hey, that's not my job" but not in the obnoxious way that people often use to shirk responsibility. It's more like saying that the person the statement references (the "puppy") has got to deal with it on his or her own, or "handle their biz." Example:
Frank: Dude, you should just ignore Sally, she's just trying to annoy you to draw attention to herself.Anyone? Well, it sounded better in my head. If David Mamet were in charge, we'd have more (and better) catchphrases. January 08, 2003 | Comments (2)
Ernest: Hey, that's not my puppy to train.
Digby slept in until 9:15 this morning, a new personal best. In honor of his accomplishment (and also because he can't seem to avoid peeing on his front feet), he was given a bath. As a special treat to all of you, here's a short video of him trying to dry off and running around a bit. I apologize for the quality but it's hard to capture energy like that on film without a little blurriness.
More pictures to come.January 05, 2003
A few months ago, I read an article in GQ about John Edwards, supposedly the Democrats' great hope for the 2004 election. The author described him as a straightforward and articulate speaker with the honesty, conviction and charisma to win over any room (and by extension any demographic).
This morning, I caught most of his interview on This Week with George Stephanopoulos and he wasn't exactly as impressive as I had hoped he would be. While his answers on the "issues" were pretty standard (oppose the President while providing only vague alternatives), I thought he was even worse when Stephanopoulos tried to lighten the conversation with some personal questions. This (paraphrased) part was particularly bad:
Stephanopoulos: President Bush has said that Jesus Christ is the most influential philosopher in his life, who would yours be?What is that? As a politician, he can't name one philosopher that has influenced him, personally, politically or otherwise? Just name anyone. Aristotle, Plato, even Thomas Jefferson would've been acceptable, but having no answer at all? As an aspiring student of philosophy, I have to take issue with this. I would like to think that at least our best and brightest representatives would be well-versed in political philosophy or even in the principles of democracy such that producing an answer to an impromptu question like that would be no problem.
Edwards: (ten seconds of silence) The question I usually get is "Who is the most influential political figure in your life?" and ... (a couple of minutes of answering a different question in the hopes of avoiding the initial question).
Stephanopoulos: ...but what about a philosopher?
Edwards: No one in particular really comes to mind.
I think there's nothing better than filling the dishwasher with a full load of dirty dishes and starting it right before bed. I'm not sure if it's the soothing sounds of the cycles that reminds me of childhood or knowing that every dish in the house is being cleaned while I drift effortlessly off to sleep.
What is happening to me?January 01, 2003
I just need to vent a bit. The everyday routine that I've shouldered for the past month or so is exhausting me. I have a job that requires about 45 hours a week from me, a puppy that demands constant attention every waking hour of the day (not to mention wakes up promptly at 7 a.m. every morning, failing to recognize occasions like New Year's Day or, say, Saturday), a wife with a serious case of "morning sickness" to care for, and a heap of household duties that she (or Digby for that matter) is in no condition to perform. If something needs to be done, I'm pretty much on my own. Plus, we're only about 80% moved into our new place, so there's a substantial "to do" list waiting for me in case I finish everything else with some leftover time and energy.
If anyone has the audacity to tell me "that's just what it would be like if you were single, it's not that big of a deal," you might as well consider our friendship/family relationship null and void, because a) have you had a Rat Terrier puppy? 2) Full-time nausea is not a pretty thing and is quite difficult, even for a bystander, and d) Watching your spouse go through something like this for almost six weeks and being helpless to do anything about it is just about unbearable.
But for all that whining, I would not trade a day of it for what Dinka is going through right now. One time I ate a bad pastry at an established Vienna cafe and I thought it was the end of me. I can't even imagine what it would be like for that to be a way of life for over a month. So if you're going to feel bad for anyone, feel bad for her. I'm just an underslept whiner looking for attention in comparison.