Wednesday, December 31, 2003

LILEKS (James) The Bleat
Gotta love Lileks logic. We're not being bombed, pogromed or dragged off for reprogramming, so everything's okay.

I haven't read him in a while, mostly because of this set of ideas he has. I used to really align myself with the guy- he's a funny, slightly conservative (in that he's not really liberal, but hated Reagan anyway), highly nostalgic writer with a little kid and a house in Minneapolis. But then we "brought it on" as the Shrubya is fond of saying, and Lileks went right with him.

And despite the fact that he has numeroud French friends (and family) he went right along with the whole Frenchbashing of '03 ("we couldn't stay at the Parisian," he wrote during his trip to Vegas, "for obvious reasons"). He was not the kind of idiot who was fooled by the whole Sadaam=9/11 thing, at least, not in the simple way 40 or so percent of Americans were fooled. But he took the general stance that war in Iraq was good because it would take out Sadaam. And damn the surrounding issues, consequences, or casualties.

This kind of logic can only come from someone so obsessed with WWII nostalgia that he's gone past the point of gentle reverence for the people of the time to the hope that he can be like them. That he can be like the patriots on the homefront supporting a just cause . . . that he can raise the flag and have the whole world rally around it just like before. That would be nice. I agree. But we are not that generation. And this is not that war.

Pearl Harbor comparisons aside, we didn't go after China when Japan bombed us, now did we? But then, Japan's royal family didn't go to the Roosevelt farm on the weekends to play touch football with the kids. China's leaders didn't threaten Teddy in a previous conflict. It's a much more complex world and as much as I'd like it to be a good vs. evil event in a vacuum, with no innocent lives connected to it, I doubt even WWII was that easy.

Okay, back to "work" . . .
until next time (next year!) . . .
un lapin

This cheered me up today.

Still more quagmire at home (or actually, at work) and abroad. Communication issues here are so bad that it seems my boss didn't even know I'd been let go. Just my boss's boss. And the HR lady.

This blows.

I have nothing to do and now nobody's here. At least I got paid.

Now I can pay rent. Maybe I'll go ahead and pay for the next two months . . . we'll see. Like I said, this blows. Hopefully I'll hear something on a couple of the job leads I've taken up lately.

Poor Kyle- my boss- feels like it's a reverse mutiny. Instead of everyone revolting, they're all leaving, or being told to leave. 400 new submissions to be worked on and one (ONE!) packager to take them all until people get back from vacation on the 5th.

There is NOTHING to do. NA-THINK!!!
Hey, my sofa shipped on Christmas Eve. They say it will get here the day my sister leaves- or shortly afterward.

Ain't that just the perfect end to a perfect month.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Rich Lowry: Love your country: "Actually, country is the deepest and most realistic of all popular music genres. "
Still outraged. So I thought since I have no work to do, I'd go on a bit more about the Country Music problem.

Rich Lowry writes and edits for "The National Review"- you know, the rag that would indict Trent Lott as a hopeless Commie. Here's what the other half has to say:
"Actually, country is the deepest and most realistic of all popular music genres. "

Hm. Right. Deep.
From Mel McDaniels, one of the iminent poets of this profound genre:
"Up on main street, by the taxi stand/there's a crowd of people, in a traffic jam/she don't look back, she ain't doin' nothin' wrong/lord have mercy, baby's got her bluejeans on."

That really speaks to the crisis of modernity.
And from Toby Keith:
"Her husband's always working and he's never home/When he's there with her he's still gone/And she can't stand living and loving alone/Well she's got her children to raise, that's why she can't let it show/I'm the only one who knows Victoria's secret."

I don't think even country musicians think they are the deepest and most realistic genre.

But that's not all. Lowry stated that:
"[Country's] audience is not just kids, so its themes and emotional pitch, in contrast to rock, don't have to be aimed perpetually at snotty 16-year-olds.

Country songs deal with the eternal theme of love, but also single fatherhood, alcoholism, prayer, death, fishing, loneliness, the whole gamut of adult life, including its burdens of responsibility, such as having trouble paying the bills. The last is a worry rarely expressed by rock artists whose audience isn't old enough to have thought of it."

I think the man's a wee bit confused. There are a good number of "snotty" 16-year olds who have posters of Toby Keith on the wall, and a wide audience for rock in the over-40 market. Also, if "the whole gamut" of adult life is really "single fatherhood, alcoholism, prayer, death, fishing [and] loneliness," I think I'm going to go kill myself. For real this time.

So why did Rich Lowry decide to write this little piece about the populist poetry that is modern country? Because he felt so deeply betrayed by the Dixie Chicks. As he says, they do not get to practice free speech without consequences, because "they are part of the Country Music Nation, the red-white-and-blue musical heart of America, where our enemies are evil, our cause is righteous, and comments critical of the commander in chief on foreign soil on the eve of a war are, uh, shall we say, not appreciated."

So. Country music is deep and realistic. But it also is the "red-white-and-blue" soul of our nation, where enemy=bad, cause=righteous, yadda yadda . . . somehow I think he just disproved his own thesis. How can anything be deep and realistic and yet so superficial and blindly simplistic?

Only in America.
Town Hall - Darryl Worley - Have You Forgotten - Explore the New Conservative World
This is a really really stupid song.

First off, my English Major hackles go up everytime someone tries to pass off as couplet such non-rhymes as "bin Laden" and "forgotten. Right.

Second, just who said "we shouldn't worry about bin Laden"? Although I doubt that the people whose opinions match Mr. Worleys put this much thought into the matter, but nobody said that. Not even the leftiest of lefties have ever suggested that bin Laden is not a threat.

But you see, rhetoric and logic are beyond the kinds of people that eat the slop this guy is slinging. Logic and rhetoric aren't cool anymore. It's considered elitist when someone shows a rash display of reason. We don't want inneleckshuals in charge anymore. We want a guy whose eyes are reassuringly close together, not too threatening to our Fear Factor- fed brains. Don't make us think about nuthin. That's what them Frogs over in Finland do all the time, and look what its got them to. Nationalized healthcare, that's what.

Sigh. I apologize. The holiday spirit has left me a little cold this year, due primarily to the fact that I've lost my job and my sister's cat was hit by a car the day after Christmas. We had to put him down on the 27th. Add to that the way things seem to be going in the world (more casualties in the war that we won back in March . . . funny how those durn troops just insist on dying over there anyway) and it's enough to make me want to throw myself off of a tall building. But that's letting the bastards win, right?

I'm tapering off at work, which is kinda morbidly funny since there are 400 new submissions and currently only 2 packagers working on them. And I'm working on half what I used to to try and clean out my queue before leaving. Ha.

This company, as I should have recognized, has bizarre HR practices. But I never wanted to be a technical writer, and I think this is one of those cases of a door closing and a window opening. I hope. I just don't want to move all my stuff back home. It's backbreaking work and I'm liking living with just me right now.

There's the off chance they'll get to the end of January, when my contract expires, with nobody in the hopper to be hired and 500 new submissions to be worked on, and they'll extend it a little while beyond that. Then I'd laugh, because I'll have something better lined up. Ha. You're on your own now, you crazy HR decision makers with no foresight! I'm off to write about the real world in my characteristically dry and hip voice!

Ah. And that will be sweet. Maybe then I'll put the tree back up and feel a little more like celebrating.

Monday, December 22, 2003

IBM United States

I love my computer. I hate IBM.

I am, however, fluent in IBM.
For example:

Product= thingy.

Solution= groups of thingies working together to do stuff.

Business Pain Point= the reason why the client needs these thingys. Usually represents cost-driven desire replace people with thingies.

Deployment= they turn on the thingies and hope something good happens.

Proactive= of or pertaining to someone being really really annoying, incessant and manipulative, usually with the end-goal being the persuasion of a customer to implement more thingies.

On-Demand= technically, the implementation of IBM thingies to make a business more responsive, variable, focused and resilient. Actually, it's a bizarre cult isolated within the IBM sales force which compels them to spout buzzwords and invent such terms as "on-demandness" and "on-demandivity."

Reliablility, Availability, Scalability= three characteristics of a server. However, many sales people I have worked with have mistaken this little mantra as:
-The quantified cost benefits of owning said server
-The entire catalogue of features of said server
-The technical description of a server
-The need for this server, the server itself, and the cost benefits that the customer experienced as a result
-The customer's name

Irrelevant= a favorite word among IBM sales reps that is often used to describe my emails to them, my job, my existence . . . frequently used after I ask a second time for quantified cost benefits, when they have already answered "reliability, availability and scalability."

Technical writer= a writer unencumbered by a soul.

. . . five weeks left, just five weeks . . .

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Gore's Speech on Freedom and Security

You know, Republicans these days are confused. They want to stand behind Bush, but the way they were raised makes them feel weird about supporting him sometimes. Republicans were raised to be protectionists, isolationists, and to fear the reach of a big government.

But here's Bush, meddling in foreign affairs under the banner of "humanitarian nation building" . . . creating a department of Homeland Security out of previously disparate agencies and making a giant, arbitrary fear factory with immeasurable power over regular citizens . . . I can't imagine this sounds like the Republicans our parents grew up with. It's not left wing, so Republican's cant bring themselves to truly hate it or rally against it, but it's something else . . . something darker and more difficult to understand.

I think the word for it is Fascism.
Not so much like the overused, silly "shut up, fascist!" lowercase fascism of my whiny college years. No, this is real-world fascism. From Wikipedia:

"The word fascism has come to mean any system of government resembling Mussolini's, that exalts nation and often race above the individual, and uses violence and modern techniques of propaganda and censorship to forcibly suppress political opposition, engages in severe economic and social regimentation, and espouses nationalism and sometimes racism (ethnic nationalism). Nazism is usually considered as a kind of fascism."

Exalting nation above the individual. Check.

Using violence and modern techniques of propaganda and censorship. Check.

Engages in severe economic and social regimentation, and espouses nationalism and sometimes racism.

Another example of racism- the deportation and detainment of Arab-Americans in the name of National Security. Are interment camps far behind?

Yep. Fascism. In a low dose, but still there . . . and so many Americans are just willing to sit and take it . . . because he's Republican and they will forgive him and they will ignore the truth as long as the promises are there for tax breaks and moral responsibility and better education for our children. I have to imagine that these people, at some point, must have wondered why they continue to support this guy despite the absence of any materialization of his promises to them. They may have lost their jobs, their children to the war, rights they never knew they had to the Patriot Act. But still they stand behind him.
Well, you can't say American's aren't steadfast.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Get those first date jitters!
This girl has no problem with those first date jitters. She just imagines herself naked, and it's all okay.

Downside to Yahoo- their ads either make me feel very lonely or very fat. Meet your dreamdate! Lose 20 pounds in 36 hours! It's enough to make you crazy.

Bad news. Brian- one of my coworkers- is leaving for greener pastures after the 19th and I'll miss him. Good news- the vulture in me knows that this means I'll be guaranteed work after the 1st because he does the same thing I do. And we'll be down a writer . . . not good for the group, but will probably accelerate my training as a writer.
Best news- he's unhappy here and will be finding something more attuned to how witty and funny he is . . . not a lot of room for wit in the context of technical writing.

But still- it sucks. That guy cracks my shit up. It'll be a bummer to see him go.
And knowing Leopard, it will take 4 months to replace him.

I'm moving this weekend, finally, and am looking forward to some much-needed time alone. In college, it's impossible to be alone . . . everywhere you go, even to the bathroom- there are people. At home, I am always with my parents. It's nice to know there are always people around who can keep me company . . . but it's also nice to get some deep solitude therapy.

And cooking for myself- as lonely as that sounds . . . it's something I very much look forward to.
Right now I'm looking forward to just settling in, turning up the radiator, cooking some thai noodles, and watching a movie . . . all by myself.

The dinner parties will come later.

Until next time . . .

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

JohnJohn - Rudolph Reindeer
You know, the story of Rudolph is really kinda discouraging. Everyone outwardly ostracizes poor Rudolph, calling him derogatory names, excluding him from social activity, and then bossman comes along and says, hey, help me out. Then all the reindeer love him, shout out in glee, etc. What is up with that? You know they only let him join in the reindeer games after that because they think he's an in with management. Corporate lackeys. What the reindeer world experienced here, it seems, is a poor reaction to affirmative action practices.

And don't get me going on Frosty. What kind of freaky hallucinogens were those kids on? Seeing an anthropomorphic mass of snow dancing about . . .

It's these bizarro secular Christmas institutions that freak me out. Elves, dancing snowmen, reindeer with phosphorescent noses, mistletoe (a poison that is supposed to incite feelings of romance). It's these things that hearken back to Christmas' pagan beginnings. Back before it was Christmas, we were all just a bunch of depressed Druids who needed a reason to party in the middle of winter. I mean, come on, only an idiot would believe that rocking around the Christmas tree while burning a special kind of wood and welcoming a gift-giving benevolent spirit has any root in the JudeoChristian tradition. It's a pagan good time.

I like to think of the first Christians convincing the Druids and Norse to adopt Christmas. Hey, you can still have your party tree and your feast, okay? And you can still believe in an old man spirit who rewards children with gifts and treats. But just put out these little wooden people around this wooden baby, okay?

Whatever you say. Get me a mead, wench, and we'll party 'til dawn! Woo!

Christianity is a bastardized religion. I once said that over a warm cheap beer at a frat party at Coe to a guy who had no arguments against it. That's what I miss about Coe . . . the intellectual arguments over bad beer. Well, not so much the bad beer.

I've been moving into my place at the speed of a snail with bad hips. Ha ha- I bet you didn't know snails had hips. Well, they do and they go bad in the purebreds.

Where did that come from?

Anyway, I moved in my lamp, my microwave, my dishes and glasses. My blender's in the trunk of my car for phase 2. This weekend will be the full move. I realized at some point recently that I do not have pots, pans, or knives of my own. Looks like I'll be making a trip to the Crate this weekend. A trip I can't really afford, but need to make all the same.

After last day to publish, I'm getting a massage. My back is killing me and long hours at the desk can't be good. The magical holiday of Last Day to Publish- that is, the last day I have to work at breakneck speed- is just around the corner . . . Dec. 12. I'm looking forward to it like a kid looks forward to Christmas . . . I should get a little advent calendar.

Well, speaking of that working thing, I should get back to it. Until next time . . .

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

It's Log!
Of my few real responsibilities to myself, one of the biggest is that I never lose my writing skills. So, since there is a lot of work here, but I've already done so much and there's only about an hour left (hah! the American work force! We round off so many corners that the work day has become a 3-hour circle honed by email checking and coffeebreaks! . . . anyway) I have found this wonderfully nostalgic picture of LOG from the good old days of shock animation. And with my very best copywriting abilities, I will sell LOG to you, my lovely audience, in the styles of some of my favorite publications.

J. Crew:
LOG- $65
(Tall Log $75)
An American classic in moss or umber (shown). Versatile, rustic yet refined, the log is an accessory for all occasions.

Lucky Magazine:
Trust us- the log is the accessory for fall. We just love the bark detailing and the yummy just-sawn smell. Just see if you can't catch yourself a lumberjack with this sassy little number.
LOG by Moschino Cheap and Chic- $200
LOG by BCBG- $49.99
LOG by Target- $4.99 (a steal!)

Vogue Magazine:
Imagine your childhood trips to the Cape, Montauk or the Hamptons. A fire blazing on the beach as the sun melts into the sea. Recapture those smoky memories with this beautifully rendered log by Herm├Ęs. Log . . . $5,000

Victoria's Secret
Very Sexy Log- $39
Fun in the forest. A low-cut log with revealing bark, accented by a whisper of moss. Available in cup sizes 32-38 A-C.

Okay, I'm done. A little something nutty for Tuesday- the worst day of the week.