Monday, October 30, 2006

to all my dreams coming true

tonight, i was walking to penn's campus when by chance i looked to the sky and saw a beautiful and ephemeral streak of light dust.

of course i did the silly thing and made a wish. i hesitated and stumbled at first but fearing perhaps that i was bound by a time limit, a so called wishing statute of limitation, i panicked and wished that all my dreams would come true.

i'm sure this will prove to be a very wise choice.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

enabling efficacy

october 8 will be the last day to postmark your registration form in pennsylvania (it might be later in other states) for the november 7 election and as the date was quickly approaching i thought i'd write a note to remind people of the importance of participating in the political process.

the right to vote is arguably one of the most important rights of citizenship in a democratic country, yet a substantial number of us citizens choose not to excercise that right. in the 18-24 age bracket voter turnout was a mere 36% in the 2000 election. considering that voting turnout gets smaller in the "off" years--years where no president is elected--we can expect about the same turnout or smaller this november. the question is why, oh why wouldnt people and especially young people want to be part of the political class and instead prefer to be part of the class that is led and dictated to like a shepherd would do to a herd of sheeps?

it is certainly tempting and seducing to let other people worry for us, vote for us, legislate for us. it is so much easier to let the politicians do their thing and avoid having to think about what's going on in washington, such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes are most unwelcome. yet for the person who does not participate in democracy his or her concerns become non-existent and his or her existence a numerical abstraction.

for some it's atrocious apathy, for others it's the belief that one's vote doesnt matter and then there are those who vote during presidential election but wont in this coming election because this one is "just" for congress.

all these reasons make me cringe as they show a fundamental lack of understanding of democracy; no matter how indifferent you are to government, you can be assured that the government and its laws will not be indifferent to you, if you dont vote, your vote will certainly have no effect on policy making and electing congress is just or perhaps even more important than electing a president as congress is the legislative branch of the government and most likely to regulate your daily life.

but i cringe for a more personal reason as well; i've lived in the us as a belgian national ever since i was sixteen i've never had the opportunity to vote and probably wont have for a long time. this and a constrained first amendment right--freedom of speech is undoubtfully less free when one is fingerprinted at every port of entry and when one requires a visa to work and reside--are probably the two liberties that i miss the most as an expatriate. the pundits might say well if you miss your precious liberties so much, why not go back to belgium? i may miss my liberties but they miss the point; i'm not in the us because i'm forced to be here, i choose to be here, i like being here, in fact i like it so much that i'm willing to sacrifice two of my most precious liberties. but you, my american friends, dont have to sacrifice anything, you can and you should exercise this most important of right.

because not voting is in effect choosing to to not have a voice and in effect choosing to reduce one's rights to that of a foreigner, except in this case it'd be choosing to be a foreigner in one's own country. not only would this be a disservice to one's self and one's country but it also constitutes an assault on the foundation of democracy.

there are too many, many people in this world who can only dream of meaningful elections (ie ones that arent rigged), who would treasure the enpowerment of a vote and are envious of democratic societies, not voting is not only a slap in their face, it shows a lack of appreciation for the values of a free society.

voting alone however is not enough to keep free societies free and prosperous--even free societies need checks and balances--not only is it important to vote, it's important to make one's vote matter. indeed democracy does not merely translate in taking some time off from work or school every two years to cast a ballot, it doesnt end with a vote for the republican party or a vote for the democratic party, rather it starts with that vote and should continue as an active involvement in the political process in order to ensure that the goverment's power remains derived from the will of the people and for the benefit of the people.

from this conjecture it becomes clear that people ought to follow what their congressmen are doing and how they're voting, they ought to know who their representative is and call him or her up when concerned about some issues; if you think the government should have the option to torture "ticking bombs" terrorist pick up your phone and tell your representative, or if you think gay marriage should be allowed write him or her a letter.

it doesnt matter so much whether to some torture is immoral and reprehensible in all cases or that to others gay marriage is an attack on god and family values, what matters is that people take ownership and responsibility for the choices made in the capitol so they can help shape the destiny of their society. if this sounds like too much of a hasstle, and representatives are left unaccountable then decisions will de facto be ceded to persuading powers of special interests and lobbying groups.

this is the ugly truth about democracy, left unchecked it will unfortunately disguise itself as a form of government by the people but for the dominating elite.

as a final consideration, i would like to talk about the issue of partisanship. i've noticed first hand the political polarization of this country and how it's become increasingly difficult to transcend the republican-democrat bridge. often enough in this country, people are born into a party, if your parents voted republican you'll tend to vote republican just because it'll feel like the right to do and similarlry if your parents are democrats. this is absolutely ridiculous and actually quite anti-democratic. this creates situations in which you have on the one hand people who vote with absolutely no knowledge of any candidates position on any issue but know nonetheless exactly who to vote for simply based on party affiliation and on the other hand people who know the candidates and their positions but prefer to stay at home during election day because they dislike the candidate of their preferred party, rather than vote for a candidate of the opposing party.

politics isnt an easy thing to navigate and political parties arent polar opposites, there's a whole spectrum of opinions that span both parties and so you will find low-tax demanding democrats and pro-choice republicans. it is therefore of utmost importance to remain flexible and independent minded about the candidates, to demand that they too once elected remain flexible and independent and to vote with a conscience on who we think would best uphold our values and preserve our democracy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

to the few peopel still reading this blog

i havent forgotten about you and i thank you for not forgetting about me.

if i havent written recently it's simply because i've been busy working on a web application which will be done in the next week or two.

after it goes live, i'll revamp this blog and give it the much love and attention it deserves.

in the mean time check back next week to signup to a little somethin somethin.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

chickenade is the new jawn

today while washing my dishes i came up with a brand new slang word: chickenade which means any type of large chicken dish.

the origin of the word can be traced back to a potluck dinner i was to attend this evening where instead of bringing prepared dishes we'd bring the ingredients and do some communal cooking. as i was thinking of what to bring, i thought i'd tell the host that "i could contribute chicken but not enough to make a chickenade" as in i'd bring some but somebody else would probably need to bring some as well for everybody to be satisfied.

the analogy of the sentence that spawned what will be known as "the word" in the annals of slang and urban emancipation, is "i've got some lemons but not enough to make some lemonade."


other example of use:
if they dont have general tso's just get me any kind of chickenade from chinese takeout.

or

i'm tired of eating chickenade, where's the beef?

superman returns to a most boring movie

so i went to see the man of steel last friday, expecting a somewhat entertaining movie that would have some humor, one or two romantic scenes with lois lane, some butt kicking, ass saving, almost kriptonite dying and ultimately prevailing but what i got was a very uncomfortable nap in the theaters.

there are so many things wrong with this movie i dont know where to begin so i wont but i'm not joking when i say i slept for about an hour in this two hour and half piece of hot garbage. and i mustnt have been the only one as i counted about six people leaving before the end of it, and that was before my body decided that the best thing to do would be to shut down.

why didnt i leave myself? well i was on a date.

this is probably the worst movie i ever saw in the theaters and it's surprising that it got such good reviews. if hollywood is going to make such horrible movies they should have the decency to provide a pillow with your ticket. do not waste your hard earned money on this movie.

verdict: paraphrasing dave chapelle "i wish i had more hands so i could give this movie four thumbs down"

Thursday, June 15, 2006

the rise and fall of western civilization


“For more than forty years, the homosexual activist movement has sought to implement a master plan that has had as its centerpiece the utter destruction of the family,” James Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family(a prominent evangelical Christian non-profit organization), has said on Monday. “Barring a miracle, the family as it has been known for more than five millennia will crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

video of the week

i know i've been missing in action for a long time, but there's a reason which will be revealed very soon. in the mean time here's a must see video of the unbelievable lyrebird

Sunday, May 21, 2006

what would jamal do?

today at 1pm my arm pits smelled like a really good sauce. what should i have done about it?

Monday, April 24, 2006

how to circumvent the nsa wiretaps

there are many technical ways like voice encryption as well as non technical ways such as speaking in code to circumvent the nsa wiretaps but none is as easy and effective as the solution provided by falco aka william aka mini dizzleface; just start your conversation with the following words "all arabs are terrorists" and you will be good to go.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

SMBU week2

this week i weighed in at -2, not so surprising since i've been sick and didnt do any iron pumping.

i'm now even more focused.

THE LONELY PLANET GUIDE TO MY APARTMENT

ORIENTATION

My Apartment’s vast expanse of unfurnished space can be daunting at first, and its population of one difficult to communicate with. After going through customs and through the never ending hall, you’ll see a large area with a futon to the right. Much of My Apartment’s “television viewing” would occur here if My Apartment had a television. In happier times this is where the occasional making out with a girl (see “Festivals”) would happen. To the north is the food district, with its colorful cereal boxes.

WHAT TO BRING

A good rule of thumb is “If it’s something you’ll want, you have to bring it in yourself.” This applies to water, as well as to toilet paper and English-language periodicals. Most important, come with plenty of cash, as there’s sure to be someone with his hand out. In My Apartment, bribes are a precondition for doing business, they cut through red tape, serving as what’s called “speed money.”

WHEN TO GO

The best time to travel to My Apartment is typically after most people in their twenties are already showered and dressed and at a job. Visits on Saturdays and Sundays before 2 P.M. are highly discouraged, and can result in lengthy delays at the border (see “Getting There and Away”).

HEALTH

Rabies and athlete’s foot have almost completely been eradicated from My Apartment, owing to an intensive program of medication and education. However, travelers must still be wary of sexually transmitted diseases. While abstinence is the only certain preventative, it is not endorsed by the My Apartment government. Condoms and lubricants are available on most evenings (see “Medical Services”).


SOCIETY & CULTURE

The inhabitants of My Apartment tend to be insecure, stubborn and argumentative. This is likely the result of living under the thumb of a previous illegitimate dictatorship that dominated its citizens (see History). Since the breakup of 2003 and the ensuing rise of the new Commander in Chief, things have gotten a bit more democratic and the citizens have placed limits on executive power and privileges.

WOMEN TRAVELLERS

Women will be treated with the utmost charm and respect when the benevolent Commander in Chief is around, however if she happens to be absent, solo female travelers may be subjected by excessive unwanted male attention. Normally these men only want to talk to you, but their ramblings and agreeableness can quickly become tiresome. Don’t be afraid to be rude. Even a mild polite response can be perceived as an expression of interests. The best approach is to avoid eye contact, always wear a bra, and incessantly talk about your “fiancĂ©, Neil.”

THINGS TO SEE & DO

The South-facing section of my apartment has a breathtaking view of the adult entertainment complex, make sure to check out the observatory window to watch the people going in and out of it. The Bedroom District is where you can catch a Netflix movie three nights a week. The Northern Quarter is home to the very relaxing bathtub spa.

VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATIONS

Various international agencies can place volunteers in projects working on areas such as job training, doing my laundry, environmental cleaning, election monitoring, developing opportunities for young women, running to the deli for me, and therapeutic massage.

NIGHT LIFE

The music scene tends to vary greatly and seems to be only dependent on the mood of My Apartment’s inhabitants; they are sometimes embellished with impromptu live vocal performances but joining in the singing is however frowned upon.

SPORTS & OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

My apartment provides water sports like dish washing, and bathtub cleaning and motor sports like vacuuming. Tourists will be expected to participate in at least one of the sports, any refusal to do so will likely offend the locals.

EXCURSIONS

A short trip in the southern direction will bring travelers to one of two unique Adult Centers, Les Gals and XXX Theaters. On your way back however, make sure to either be silent about the visits or bring something back. You may also want to check out the delicious market of foods and goods at Trader Joes. Again same rule as above, make sure to bring something back or be totally silent about your visit. Tourists are often sent around the corner to visit the ATM Machine in order to stock up for the rigorous financial demands of a trip to My Apartment.

WILDLIFE

In the summer you will be able to spot a few Philadelphian flies. You are encouraged to kill them and dispose of them as they are not part of My apartment’s natural flora and fauna.

Monday, April 17, 2006

hack of the day

one of the easiest and most enjoyable hacks i've ever done.

Transform a $3 pen into a $200 pen in just seconds. Mont Blanc pens are the worlds finest writing pens but they make specialized refills so you must buy their $200+ pens to use their amazing ink...until now.

it takes just two mintutes

i did mine with the g2 pilot, a pen even cheaper than the g2 pro.

mystery caller

last saturday you called me on an unlisted number around 6:30 and wished me a happy birthday; i was a bit tipsy and was in the middle of hearing the birthday song so we couldnt really talk but you were very sweet and sounded familiar. so familiar in fact that today i found out that you werent whoever i thought you were because that person called me this afternoon to wish me a happy birthday as she had not been able to do so this weekend.

if you read this blog, give me another call and let me know it was you.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

onion soup

when confronted with a menu i'm a sucker for two things; onion soup and creme brulee. i f i can read it on the menu, i will have to get those items no matter what kind of restaurant it is and no matter how full/broke i am. because of tax day, i'm now more broke than ever so i decided to take matters into my own hands and make myself an onion soup. it's not something you would do every day, but it's easy and delicious enough to do when having people over. here's the recipe with accompanying pictures for that one person out there who loves the soup as much as i do.

equipment
large, heavy bottomed pot
wooden spoon
ladle
ovenproof bowls


ingredients for four bowls, i scaled the quantities because i only needed two bowls for myself.
3 ounces/84 g butter
4 large onions
1 ounce/28 ml port
1 ounce/28 ml balsamic vinegar
1 quart/1.1 liters dark chicken stock (i bought mine at trader joes and supplemented it with bouillon cubes to give it a stronger flavor)
2 ounces/56 g slab bacon (cut in 1/2 inche/1 cm cubes
salt and pepper
slices of baguettes
6 ounces/170 g grated Gruyere cheese (the real deal imported Gruyere)



in the large pot heat the buter over medium heat until it is melted and begins to borwn. add the onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and browned (a little less than twenty minutes). onion soups, unsurprisingly, is all about the oinons. make sure the onions are a nice, dark, even brown color.

 


increase the heat to medium high and stir in the port and the vinegar, scraping all that brown goodnes from the bottom of the pot into the liquid. add the chicken stock (i bought mine at trader joe's and supplemented it with chicken bouillon cubes). add the bacon (for those who cant eat pork, you can skip this step). toast your baguette slices in the oven with a little olive oil.

reduce to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 30 minutes (cook for less if you've scaled the recipe to fewer than eight bowls, just make sure it's thick but still liquid).
 


when the soup is finished cooking, ladle it into the individual bowls. float two baguette slices side by side on top of each. spread a generous amout of cheese over the top of the soup. finally place the each bowl in a preheated oven set to broiler and wait till cheese metls, bubbles, and browns. serve immediately and carefully, you dont want to spill one of these things in your lap.

this was my final result, i burned the inside of my throat drinking my two soups, that's how delicious they were.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

skinny man bulking up

you probably havent heard of this but as the news junkie, it is my duty to mention the abominable things that are happening in this world; i'm not talking about the possible use of nuclear bunker busters against iran, or parasite hilton ruining hugh hefner's birthday party, no, i'm talking about steve vaught, the selfdescribed fat man walking who a couple of months ago, at the height of his 400 plus pound weight, decided to walk from san diego to new york and chronicle his journey on his website in order to lose weight.

so what right? that's what i thought but he's become america's new sweetheart; getting a celebrity welcome in whatever town he arrives, booking his talk show appearances, inking the deal on his story with hollywood, and even prompting a slew of imitators like the fat woman walking and the fat man biking. i mean this guy receives hundreds of thousands of hits on his website, while thanks to swooge i know i only get about five hits a day.

i'm not going to bash the man for trying to regain his life--although selling $29 tshirts that you know cost him two dollars and were made by a child in a sweatshop definitely raises some eyebrows--or question why he couldnt just go on a diet, what i am going to do is attack this story for what it is: BORING. what is this fascination with fat to slim stories in america? how many movies, documentaries, shows are going to be made about it? is it because it taps into the perpetual american desire to reinvent oneself, to transform oneself into something better? is it a small american dream? but in most cases of obesity, and definitely in the case of this walking fat man (after all he was a former marine), it is self-inflicted, it is bad diet, and no exercise. and there are many reasons why people end up with bad diets and no exercise which i wont get into right now, but which make this small "american dream" at least a bit different; it's not about becoming something better but about transforming oneself to what one was before.

let me propose a real american dream, this is my contract with my america, i will record my attempt at putting on some weight. each week i will weigh myself and report the results, right now i'm at weight 0. in three months let's hope i'm at weight twenty which would mean twenty pounds heavier than what i am right now.

for the record i would like to say that i've never felt the need or the desire to become some kind of muscle man. even though there are benefits to being big:
1) you are allegedly more successful with the ladies
2) you can lock up the nerds and the people skinnier than you in a locker
3) you can be a bit ruder to everybody around you
4) you can feel safer in dark and dangerous neighborhoods (here i come little iraq!)
5) am i missing something else?

maybe it's because i've never gotten knocked out by somebody bigger, or because i wont die a forty year old virgin that i've never felt bad about my body. in fact i feel just the opposite, i love the way i can fit in between slim walls, or hide behind a lamp or when i get locked out just wiggle myself under the door. it's crazy but in all seriousness i think i suffer from the opposite of BDD, i believe i can take on everybody and feel like a million bucks. it's only when i go to the gym, where i'm confronted with mirrors where my reflection shares a space with others that i realize that "hey i didnt know i looked like that next to people" or "i didnt know i was so tall" (cong i really didnt know!). in college i hated gyms because they felt depressing: it seemed that all the protein taking, dieting, sweating and flexing were just another form of homework.

but now i dont have any homework and enjoy the most free time i've had in five years, so for better or for worse i'll be attempting to gain twenty pounds. if on st patricks day though, you confuse me with the incredible hulk you will have been forewarned. and hmmm the tshirts are coming soon. the first ten people to order will get them at a discounted $27 of which two dollars will go to charity.

Monday, April 03, 2006

florida

tonight florida led by joakim noah, a kid who was just a 6'2 cocky but charming punk on my varsity team, became the new collegiate basketball champion.

if he went pro this year he could go as high as a number five pick. this means that he will be playing the game i loved to play for a living, this means that he'll never ever have any difficulty getting laid, this means he will be adored and followed by a legion of fans, this means that the morning after draft day he could go to an atm, withdraw all the money in it and his statement would show at least $3,000,000.

joakim if you happen to read this, get me tickets, pass me your leftovers, give me something, a signed basketball, a tshirt, a towel... i've always been a gators fan (chomp chomp), i always knew you'd make it. do you need a yes man? i can say yes in three different languages--fluently. you need a manager? i've got an econ degree from an ivy league school, supply, demand, i know it all. you need someone to keep the groupies away? i can do that, i can do that. you need protection? i was an ra and i got a sharp knife somewhere in my room that i can flip open really fast.

listen joakim i know it's been a long time, that's why we've got some catching up to do. call me.

ps i took the liberty to include in this blogspot the picture that is probably on your nightstand.

general update

first and foremost it looks like i won't be leaving the us just yet. right now it's just wait and see.

not surprisingly the whole affair kind of bummed me out and that's why i kept away from the blogosphere.

and since bad news doesnt come alone, i've also fallen sick and some other bad stuff occurred that's not appropriate for the internet. anyways things are on the up, i'm getting better, have plenty of plans, will keep you updated.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Remember Geocities?

Google Page Creator is a free online tool that makes it easy for anyone to create and publish useful, attractive web pages in just minutes." Looks good to me!

Check out my page

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

nomad lifestyle

mary came to visit this past weekend. now anybody who's visited me before knows that i've kept my decoration to a bare minimum and my furniture to well hmmm a bare minimum. but with guests including my father and sister coming within the next two months i felt like i might as well buy a sofa/futon.

taking advantage of her car, and her sofa-judging skills we went downtown and got something that was fairly fun to assemble.

after she left i already imagined myself buying a tv and sitting on my couch to watch it, or read on it , entertain guests and yes, cuddle on it. maybe i would finally hang my paintings, maybe i could finally have parties, the possibilities seemed endless.

the reason i had kept to the essentials was because i had intended to move from my current apartment to another and i just didnt want to have to move too much stuff but with this new sofa maybe it would be too much of a hasstle to move.

yesterday i called up mary and thanked her for the wonderful visit, she mentioned she might go to woodbury commons to shop but i told her not go without me because i really wanted to buy a black designer suit. why she asked? because i said, when i get deported, i want to put on the finest clothes so that at the (air)port in the midst of what i imagine would be a throng of dishevelled fobs carrying all types of belongings with them, i will stand there dressed impeccably in my suit and flashy tie with a look that said "puh america, you are not needed".

well it seems i've gotten my deportation wish; they ran out of work visas this year, and i'd have to wait till next october to get one. very obviously i'll be saving my money and the suit is out of the question for now because after all no matter how cool my deportation fantasy is, the fact of the matter is that i love america, it's been good to me and i dont want to leave her--yet. in any case i've lived here longer than i've lived in europe, i went to high school here, went to college here, have an apartment to my name here, i work here, pay (little) taxes here and now this.

i talked to matt earlier and he managed to lift up my spirits, made it sound as if i had plenty of possibilities, plenty of options, wait tables, work on my own things, do non-profit (non-profit jobs are exempt from the visa rules) etc., etc., do all of that till october and get by. "heck i was only 22". true, true. except that, however romantic that sounds, the following next months will be full of uncertainties, doubt, and inconveniences. :(

sigh, oh well there will be other ...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

wishes do come true

A few days ago I wished for a washing machine that could do it all; wash, dry and iron, well here it is.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

travel

In San Diego till Tuesday, will update next week.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

On my way to get lunch

There is light at the end of the tunnel






and a foreign car specialist



GWOT

People who know me, know that I [used to] read hours of news a day, I don’t know why I picked up this habit, but occasionally I’ll feel the urge to write up my thoughts about an article I read and post them to this blogspot so as to clarify them to myself and hopefully spark a discussion or a reaction. I know this is not everybody’s cup of tea, and by everybody I mean the approximately ten people who may very occasionally come to this place, but I don’t expect you all to read this analysis of the “long war on terror.” With that disclaimer out of the way here’s the nitty gritty:


The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report of the US Department of Defencestated that “The United States is a nation engaged in what will be a long war.”

Upon the release of this report Donald Rumsfeld reframed the War on Terror as a “generational conflict akin to the Cold War” that might last decades.


This appears to be a minor shift to some, but it is a shift that reveals how the “War on terror”—now in its fifth year—had become problematic. In the aftermath of September 11th, the overarching sentiment was that the U.S. was vulnerable to further attacks, needed to be secured, and that a forceful response was not only necessary but that the attackers needed to be destroyed. Subsequently the United States declared a “war on terrorism” with the intent goals of bringing Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to justice and to prevent the emergence of other terrorist networks.

Originally, the "war on terror" was viewed and understood not as a "long war", not as another "Cold war" but rather as a "short war" where you could send in your troops, defeat or capture the enemy and finally bring home the troops to a hero's welcome. But as we have seen in Iraq and elsewhere, this is not a war between nation states, there are no pitched battles between two disciplined armies with general staff, and its end seems elusive, distant and undefined (will it be when all the known al Qaeda leaders are either captured or dead, or perhaps when there's a flourishing democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, or simply when there are no more terrorists at all).

The problem is further amplified by the fact “Terror” is not a conquerable enemy, or for that matter an end in itself. Terror is a general state, it’s internal to a person, it’s a matter of achieving some political goals however outlandish or unrealizable they are. But the “war on terror” is an abstract concept in the same vein as the “war on drugs”, the “war on poverty”, the “war on crime, or the “war to end all wars”. Woodrow Wilson’s war to end all wars defeated imperial Germany but it did not and could not defeat war. Nor can a war on terror defeat terror. Ideologies simply can’t be put down by force or defeated on the battlefield, however when President Bush identified “radical Islam” as America’s mortal enemy in his State of the Union Address, it looks like ideologies is what the United States has found to fight a war to the death with. (Whoever thinks there is not a bit of foolishness or naivety in this strategy should ask themselves who else has had "wars on terrorism" and whether they were succesful at destroying it. Warfare is not the sole solution.)

Framing an abstract concept as the war on terror as a “long war” against terrorism and more specifically against radical Islam, thus graciously solves the problems of a “short” war against al Qaeda; the long part explains why the troops won’t and can’t be coming home and why the sacrifices made are for a greater honorable vision, while the war part doesn’t make necessary the acknowledgement of a motive behind the terror besides “evil” and “freedom-hating”, it also proves very useful in intimidating the opposition at home.

Whether the idea of a long war will be swallowed by the public is too early to tell but what we can see is that people’s lives have gone on and convinced that it is better to fight them over there than over here, they are slowly getting used to the idea that the troops may not come home this winter, or next year or the year after. And while there is no end in sight or the end is projected to be a longtime in the future, the “war on terror” has had the short-run effect of unifying constituencies (support the troops), of greatly diminishing the rights and privacy of the people and their rights to question and protest the government and, has increased military spending (don’t forget to buy Northrop Grumman stocks) and increased the president’s powers. Ironically of all things, the war on terror has not stopped people from being afraid; it has made them more afraid. And what fear does, is to activate the strict father model—which is what conservatives want.

Ultimately whether the war on terror will be short or long will depend greatly on the strains of the budget, the (non-)introduction of a draft and whoever controls the presidency and Congress. Wait and see, November 2006 and November 2008.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Very bad people




“This is not about monitoring phone calls to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a pot-luck dinner. These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people.”
—Trent Duffy, a spokesman for the White House, on reports about the government’s eavesdropping, quoted in the Times.



NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY

PHONE TAP TRANSCRIPT

February 6, 2006, 2:13 P.M.

[PHONE RINGING]

Male Voice 1: Yoyo yo!

Male Voice 2: Scott?

Male Voice 1: That’s me!

Male Voice 2: It’s Brad, what’s up?

Male Voice 1: Chillaxing, what’s going on?

[SOUNDS OF FOOD BEING CHEWED]

Male Voice 2: Nothing much, Goddamn what are you eating?

Male Voice 1: Some delicious foie gras.

Male Voice 2: You know they force-feed geese until their livers expand so you can eat that?

Male Voice 1: I know.

Male Voice 2: That’s pretty awesome.

Male Voice 1: Yep. So what do you want?

Male Voice 2: A pimped-out monster truck driven by an illegal Mexican driver with a trunk full of firework and a horn that blared “Who let the dogs out?” would be nice. Especially in green.

Male Voice 1: No, you can’t borrow my truck again but I’ll lend you my forged disabilities pass.

Male Voice 2: So what are you bringing to the pot-luck dinner?

Male Voice 1: Only thing I got here is some old Chinese takeout and some crystal meth. The Chinese food is really old. What color is General Tso’s Chicken again?

Male Voice 2: I was going to bring some Styrofoam plates and maybe some bootlegged CDs. Hope it rains.

Male Voice 1: Wunderbar. That why you called?

Male Voice 2: Didja watch the Super Bowl?

Male Voice 1: I hate the Super Bowl.

Male Voice 2: You hate the Super Bowl?

Male Voice 1: More than I don’t value teachers.

Male Voice 2: Haha, I hear you. If all of the sudden a dirty bomb exploded in the host city of the Super Bowl and on some teacher’s conference, I’d hop on the internets and send out billions of spam email. Billions. Just by hitting “Send.”

Male Voice 1: Have you heard of that brokeback cowboy movie?

Male Voice 2: It sucked. Trish made me see it and the whole time I couldn’t stop thinking “These cowboys are gay! This is so wrong!”

[SOUNDS OF CAT SHRIEKING]

Male Voice 1: I just kicked my cat.

[LAUGHTER]

Male Voice 2: Man, wish I could have seen that on tape.

Male Voice 1: Well, I taped it.

Male Voice 2: Man, do I love free coupons.

Male Voice 1: What?

Male Voice 2: Nothing, listen, the reason I called was because I was hoping you could pick up my little sister from Little League practice later. Ever since graduation, my mom’s forced me to “contribute to the household”. I know that has nothing to do with you but I was planning to browse various internet porn sites for most of the rest of the afternoon, and to be quite honest, even if I wasn’t, I just don’t feel like, you know, “contributing” to anything today. Also I’ve turned against the tyranny of wearing pants. And seeing how last week I did you a huge favor when you went to see Cindy and I covered your back and told Trish we’d gone camping that weekend.

[SILENCE]

Male Voice 2: Scott?

Male Voice 1: I don’t think that’ll be possible.

Male Voice 2: And can I ask why not?

Male Voice 1: I don’t know, can you?

Male Voice 2: Jesus, Scott, you know things have been tough for me since I got fired and started making telemarketing calls to people who put their names on the “Do-not-call List.”

Male Voice 1: Uh, somebody’s knocking on my door, I gotta go.

Male Voice 2: Nobody’s knocking.

Male Voice 1: Yeah, someone is. You cant hear it on your side dumbass.

Male Voice 2: I’ll expect you to drop off Cruella by four thirty, and not a second later.

Male Voice 1: Listen to me Brad, listen to me very closely because I’m only going to say this once and I’m a man who means what he says and says what he means. You hear me?

Male Voice 2: Sorry I’m watching “Dance with the Stars”. Missed that.

Male Voice 1: I wouldn’t hesitate to kill innocent bystanders if in doing so I could also kill you and your family. The rule of law, freedom, our way of life, Mother Nature, etc. all not only mean nothing to me--they fill me with rage.

Male Voice 2: Whatever. Fat people don’t scare me.

Male Voice 1: Cruella is officially disinvited from Winston’s paintball party on Saturday.

Male Voice 2: The dead animals that you’ll soon be receiving in your mail are from me. And don’t bother showing up at Thursday’s book club.

[LINE 1 HANGS UP. LINE 2 HANGS UP.]

END TRANSCRIPT.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

eeehhh

....ok who approved this?

and what’s with the synchronized leaning? what year is it again?
'in infinite time, in the infinity of matter, in infinite space, a bubble-organism separates itself, and that bubble holds out for a while, and then bursts. and that bubble is -- me.'

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

ladies and gentlemen, allow myself to introduce the tshirt folding machine

there comes a moment in a man's life when he has to do his own laundry. if you're like me, you've got no problems putting your bacteria stained boxers in the washer, wait half an hour and then put them in the dryer. the real problem comes afterwards, when everything is so fresh, so clean, so dry and comes out as a big pile of static. at that point i just dump my big pile by the entrance (the welcoming committee), on my dresser (the abandoned child), on my bed (the companion), basically anywhere i can forget it and forget about folding. well not no more, ever since i made the tshirt folding machine


material



you will need cardboard, a sharp knife, some duck tape, a ruler and a pencil.


step 1



cut the cardboard into two pieces (A) of approximately 28 by 10 inches, one piece (B) of 28 by 19 inches and a final piece (C) of 14 by 10 inches.



step 2



lay out the A pieces on the B piece so that piece C can fit perfectly in the middle and is flank by the A pieces.



step 3



tape up your pieces together.


step 4


you're all ready to fold!


Monday, January 30, 2006

this blogspot

i had originally started this blog (back then it was called A la recherche du temps perdu) as a way to keep in touch with my family and friends during my senior year of college. accordingly it was filled with much self-gratifying, pre-professional existentialist records of my personal experience and observations. i kept it up for a couple of months but stopped it as soon as my pre-professional existenstialist diary became too personal.

for a long time it seemed like this blog would become a casualty of blogaids (the slow destruction of readership caused by a deficiency of new posts) but several things happened: first i graduated from college and this act alone exponentially increases my fanbase, second since i'm no longer bound by midterms and homeworks i have lots of time to think about life and hence lots more pre-professional existentialist bulls!&$t to write about and finally it would be a lie to say that i wasnt inspired to revive it by seeing that ben-o, scum-o and john kerry had all started up their own blog. so for better or for worse, here's to my blogspot.

what can you expect to see? recipes, ideas, opinions, photography, google videos, funny stuff, tutorials, and of course lots of whiny existentialist topics like why is the world so unfair--to me.

the first question that i had to deal with was what to do with last year entries? delete them? keep them? save them on my computer? i ultimately decided to delete them before i decided against it. let it be a repository, a testament of another time. one warning though, read at your own risk.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

blogger tags tutorial

when the chips were down and i felt like redesigning my blogspot, i found the blogger help, well, quite unhelpful. either they thought we'd all be satisfied with cookie cutter templates or they simply preferred to have their customers not tinker with opening and closing brackets. whatever the reason here's a small tutorial on blogger tags that should be of use to anybody wanting to personalize their blogs.

blogger tags intended to be within the html head tag



<$BlogPageTitle$>: Gives your published blog pages smart titles ("Blog Name" for the index page, "Blog Name: Date Info" for archive pages, and "Blog Name: Post Title" for Post Pages). This tag should only be used in a Template's <head>, in between <title> and </title>.


<$BlogMetaData$>: Inserts a generic blog metadata via one tag. Metadata, literally data about data is good to have in html pages as it add value to your pages and ensure consistency. Unless you have special needs like preventing googling robots to index your pages or follow your links it is best to just use this tag.


<$BlogSiteFeedLink$>:Outputs your Site feed's URL inside a <link> tag. This web feed is in the Atom format which is a standardized version of its better known cousin, the RSS format.


<BlogSiteFeed><$BlogSiteFeedUrl$></BlogSiteFeed>: Output your site feed's URL and allow the RSS feed for your blog to be auto-discovered by supporting aggregators. This would obsolete the previous tag.


<$BlogEncoding$>: Inserts the encoding setting from the Settings | Formatting tab into a content-type declaration.


Tags that work anywhere within the html <body> tag




<$BlogTitle$>
<$BlogDescription$>
<$BlogOwnerFirstName$>
<$BlogOwnerLastName$>
<$BlogOwnerEmail$>
<$BlogOwnerFullName$>
<$BlogOwnerPhotoUrl$>
<$BlogOwnerNickname$>
<$BlogOwnerLocation$>
<$BlogOwnerAboutMe$>
<$BlogOwnerProfileURL$>


The above tags are pretty much self-explanatory; where it says <$BlogOwnerFirstName$>, the blog owner's first name will appear.

Tags that work within the <Blogger> tag of the html body tag



<BlogDateHeader><$BlogDateHeaderDate$></BlogDateHeader>: These output date headers as defined in the Settings | Formatting tab. Usage: These three tags go together: either you use all three, or none. No other Blogger tag has meaning inside <BlogDateHeader> to </BlogDateHeader>, but you can use any HTML you like. This section only appears once per day, typically before the first post, no matter how many posts there are in that day.


<BlogItemTitle><$BlogItemTitle$></BlogItemTitle>: These print each post's title, but only if the post has a title


<BlogItemTitle>
<BlogItemURL><a href="<$BlogItemURL$>"></BlogItemURL> <$BlogItemTitle$></a>
</BlogItemTitle>
: These output each post's Title, linked to their respective <a href="http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=734">external URLs</a>


<$BlogItemBody$>:The content of a post.


<$BlogItemAuthor$>: The author of a post, using both the first and last names.


<$BlogItemAuthorNickname$>: The nickname of the author of the post.


<$BlogItemAuthorEmail$>: The email address of the author of a post.


<$BlogItemAuthorURL$>: The URL of the post's author


<$BlogItemDateTime$>: Timestamp of a post


<$BlogItemNumber$>: The unique ID number of the post


<$BlogItemArchiveFileName$>: The archive filename of the post


<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>: The permalink of the post


<$BlogItemControl$>: The Quick Edit link of the post


<BlogDateFooter></BlogDateFooter>:These output date footers for each post, as defined in the Settings | Formatting tab.


<BloggerArchives>
<a href='<$BlogArchiveURL$>'><$BlogArchiveName$></a>
</BloggerArchives>

These will include a complete listing of your archives. To paste in an appropriate area of the template.


<MainPage></MainPage> <ArchivePage></ArchivePage> <ItemPage></ItemPage> <MainOrArchivePage></MainOrArchivePage>
These three sets of tags are conditional tags, meaning that depending on what page is visited changes, text, pictures etc can be either hidden or displayed. For example anything within <ArchivePage></ArchivePage> like a link back to the main page is only going to appear in pages that are archived.


<BlogItemCommentsEnabled>
<a href="<$BlogItemCommentCreate$>"
<$BlogItemCommentFormOnClick$>>
<$BlogItemCommentCount$> comments</a>
</BlogItemCommentsEnabled>

This prints a link reading "X comments" where "X" is the number of comments that have been left on that post so far. You will probably also want to enclose it in <ItemPage> and </ItemPage> tags as well, so the comments only appear on your post pages, and don't clutter up the main page of your blog.


<$BlogMemberProfile$>:Smart tag that intelligently incorporates functionality for all of the below tags. Meaning, info that isn't in your Profile (or isn't shared) won't be displayed on your blog. If used on a Team Blog, it will render a list of links to Member Profiles.



<$BlogOwnerNickname$>
<$BlogOwnerFirstName$>
<$BlogOwnerLastName$>
<$BlogOwnerFullName$>
<$BlogOwnerEmail$>
<$BlogOwnerLocation$>
<$BlogOwnerAboutMe$>
<$BlogOwnerPhotoUrl$>
<$BlogOwnerProfileUrl$>

All self explanatory


References




The Blogger Help Section
Cascading Style Sheets Tutorial
HTML Tutorial


google video of the week