Thursday, December 29, 2005

TrackerNeil defended!

Thanks for Babyraven for her defense of me on Of course, her words bounced right off MediaGirl's intellectual carapace, but I appreciate the effort. I imagine that next Babyraven will be portrayed either as a sellout or a poor woman who's been deluded and hammered down by my male-hegemonic worldview. Check the comments and see!

You know, my experience on was my first up-close-and-personal with liberal bigotry. Of course, I saw some of this in college, but it wasn't directed towards me, so I paid it little attention.It's really distressing to see people who are on your side of the issues being so intolerant and narrow-minded. It's also hard to be called a bigot when you're not, because listeners tend to better remember the accusation and not the denial. Besides, when you defend yourself against such a charge you wind up sounding like you're backpedaling. ("Hey, I have no problem with gay people; everyone should own one!") Probably better not to even try. Your ideas should speak for themselves, and wise people can tell which opinions are bigoted and which aren't. As for people who aren't wise...why do you care what they think?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Two Good Things

I found this Web site awhile back, but for some insane reason I didn't think it was worthy of a blog post. Silly me. Anyway, it's where homosexuality and the Go-Go's merge: The Gay-Gay's! Yes, it's an all-gay Go-Go's cover band. If anything were to convince me that there is a god, this would be it. Once I get re-fully-employed, I'm going to buy something from them, if only to reward them for having such a divine idea.

The Required Loopy Post

I did the apartment-to-Falls-Bridge loop today, which is about 13.5 miles and at least 1250 calories. I've done this walk several times this year, and each time, about 10 miles into the trip, I ask myself, "Dude, you're closing in on forty; why are you doing this?" A few months later, I'm back out there, a bit older but no wiser.

Anyway, whilst passing the waterworks on the mighty Schuylkill, I did what every passerby does: I watched the waterfall. I think there's some natural connection humans have with water, and not just because we die if we don't have it. As an atheist, I don't buy into gods, demons, angels, or any of that stuff, which always smacks me as a bit superstitious. However, I do believe that the universe has a certain harmony and order, and that everything within that universe is a kind of fractal, a small thing in which you can see the large. I think that some things more closely reflect the nature of the universe, and water is among them. Why? Because water is mostly passive, but stronger than steel when it needs to be. It flows along any course, yet in time carves new channels even in stone. It's part of everything, and nothing we know of can survive apart from it. It can be solid, liquid or gaseous, but in any form it's breathtaking. Water really is the universe writ small.

(Hot chocolate made solely from water is substandard, however; for real quality you have to use milk. That's one thing water can't do.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Delta Dawn (of the Dead)

Does anyone remember Bette Midler's cover of "Delta Dawn"? No? Oh well...

Anyway, about six weeks ago I bought the ultra-box set of "Dawn of the Dead", which contains the theatre release, the extended version, the European version, and a full disc of extras. It rocks! I just finished watching a 75-minute documentary about the making of the movie, and now I want to go out and buy "Night of the Living Dead" and "Day of the Dead." I'm underemployed now, though, so that means I am po' and can't do it. Sigh.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Baiting the pseudo-feminists

If you visit and check out the posts, you'll see I've caused quite a stir. I found that site via a Google news search on Bob Casey, Jr., and discovered something infinitely more entertaining than a mere Washington Post article. MediaGirl, who runs the site, is this intolerant, self-righteous ideologue who fancies herself a feminist but is really just a caricature of a feminist that Bill O'Reilly himself could not have better drawn. She's shrill, hysterical, narrow-minded, and definitely anti-male. Anyone who dares to disagree with her on any issue, to any extent, is this male-hegemonic, patriarchy apologist conservative oppressor whose main goal in life is to turn women into baby machines.

When I read a sampling of her posts, I decided that nothing would do but that I must work her up into an absolute frenzy. I started out polite and reasonable, then slowly became more pointed and condescending, while her posts became increasingly more hysterical. Foam began to build up around my monitor, and all to my delight. Finally, the consensus on was that this liberal Green Party homosexual was really just a conservative sexist caveman with no understanding of or appreciation for the equality of women. Woo-hoo!

After all this, you're probably wondering, "Why the hell would you do this?" The answer: I know feminists, real feminists, and they aren't tightly wound, ultra-sensitive, politically manic frightened little ninnies who are only comfortable when they can accuse others of being the beneficiaries of the patriarchal social structure. By and large, they're confident, intelligent, rational women (and men) who can be both secure in their own beliefs and respectful of the opinions of others. However, the psychos on are the ones that give the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys of the world the perfect talking points for their brand of conservative bullshit. It's hard enough for we liberals to prevail against conservative bigotry; we definitely don't need to contend with liberal bigotry. By riling up these fools, I'm hoping to show some of the Mediagirl lurkers that perhaps they should look elsewhere for peers and role models.

I'm also doing it because it's pretty darn funny. What would be even funnier is if MediaGirl and her wack-job echo chamber find this blog and start posting comments. If you thought this blog was funny before, you won't have seen anything!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Intelligent Design needs a redesign...

...that is, if it's to be included in public school science classes. The court spoke, and it said the words I expected to hear.

Take that, God Squad!

New York and slimy things

I’m going to take up the thread of something I read on Babyraven’s live journal about the Big Apple. No, I’m not going to take her to task for saying it’s got everything Philly does but just more, because to a large extent I think that’s true. And I agree that it’s really annoying that getting something to eat after 10:30 pm usually involves a good deal of travel. In my volunteer days I remember well the frustration of trying to get Philadelphians out to try something new, even something as tame as a movie night or a wine-and-cheese social. The gay/lesbian Ultimate group I used to run folded because we just couldn’t get people to try it, something that in NYC would probably have never been a problem. New York has more to do and more people to do it with, and that’s a fact.

In defense of the City of Brotherly Love, however, I’ll say that Philadelphia is, I think, more manageable than NYC. New York is always crowded, always expensive, always moving, and sometimes that can be a bit much to deal with. Don’t get me wrong; I like cities, but I can see how a constant go-go-go rhythm can get old. Let’s not even mention that NYC is almighty expensive. Philly’s getting there, but you can still live in the city without paying $1800 a month for one-bedroom apartment, and that’s nice to know.

I spoke with a recruiter today…aren’t they just slimy? Some posts ago I derided HR people, but I don’t think they’re slimy; I just think they’re useless. Recruiters, however, are always trying to sell you on a job that’s probably not right for you, and I imagine they’re doing the same with employers in regards to applicants. I feel terrible categorically distrusting an entire industry filled with people as human as I am, but my experience with recruiters teaches me that you’re usually better off conducting your own job hunt. They’re like using leeches in medicine; there may be some value, but all in all if you can use antibiotics, you should.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

One good thing, one bad thing

Good thing: I went to see "Brokeback Mountain" today, as part of a birthday celebration for Ed. I was wary of the film because of all the buzz, but I can say I really enjoyed it. A simple story (as I believe most good stories are), but it was quite affecting and well-acted. I've never seen Heath Ledger in anything else, but he impressed me here.

(BTW, those of you who don't know Ed are missing out. He's super-smart, and knows a little bit about a lot. If I were a Westerosi lord I would definitely want Ed as my maester.)

Bad thing: After the movie, we got Chinese food. The service was so-so; they kept us waiting a fairly long time to order, and the server just wasn't very good. Accordingly, we tipped only 10%. Well, the guy who took the check with the money actually came back to the table with the change and - get this - informed me that a standard tip is 18%. Unable to believe what I was hearing, I asked him to repeat himself to make sure I understood. Is that gutsy or what? I don't have to leave a tip at all, and if he'd wanted more he should damn well have treated us better. At that point I wanted to take the 10% and walk about, but Ed and Mike persuaded me that it was kinder to leave it. I bowed to their judgment, but that is the last time I'll go to that place.

I will admit I'm a bit of a Nazi about tipping. I don't buy into the conventional wisdom that a server is due a tip regardless of the level of service. Of course, I am often told, "Well, if you had ever worked as a waiter you'd feel differently." Maybe I would and maybe I wouldn't, but I'll tell you this much: I don't expect to be rewarded when I do a crappy job. Nor should anyone waiting tables.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sex Dwarf!

For those of you who don't know, this month's Sex Dwarf had a Go-Go's theme, which meant I was all over it. So were Mouserobot and Babyraven, and a few of Babyraven's friends. We danced from around 10:30 until we shut that place down at 2 am! Awesome music, lots of it Go-Go's. Selections from the Fab Five included:

  • This Town
  • Lust To Love
  • Tonite
  • Vacation
  • Cool Jerk
  • Can't Stop the World
  • Head Over Heels
Of course, there was plenty of other fantastic, non-Go-Go's music.

One of the fun things about these events is seeing the different people who attend. I'll list a few of the noteworthy:

  • There was a woman there who was simply gorgeous: tall, slender, with skin the color of coffee with a lot of cream. My goodness...had I been straight, I would have been on her like stink on a monkey.
  • There was a straight guy who danced like nobody's business. Lots of straight guys are too inhibited to do this, but not this guy. And he was good! Really good! He didn't have too much of a booty (I checked, natch), but what he had he shook impressively.
There was a third person I was going to mention, but I have plum forgotten it. Anyway, some 2am I staggered home along South Street, set apart from the other staggerers only in that I wasn't drunk. And that I was wearing a Go-Go's t-shirt.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I totally got stopped by the Philadelphia police today, running a yellow light on Spruce Street. (If you replace "yellow" with "yellow-turning-to-red" that sentence is true.) I got away without a ticket, which I credit to my transformation into Joe Citizen. I'm all "Yes sir" and "Thank you sir" and "How may I help you, officer?" Once, when I crossed over from the inner lane to the outer at a non-crossover point, I even called myself stupid. If it keeps the points off my license, I'm perfectly willing to insult myself. Insulting myself is free; points on my license cost money.

I don't understand the folks who insist on arguing with cops who pull them over. If the officer has decided to ticket you, blowing him a bunch of chong isn't going to convince him otherwise. Don't get me wrong; what would "Cops", my favorite reality show, be without people who fight with police officers? You can keep "Survivor" and that ilk, because to be perfectly blunt, I don't care who gets voted off the fucking island. I have zero interest in watching wilderness lore blend with the democratic process. I have loads of interest in watching a shirtless loser with three teeth in his head flee on foot down a breakdown lane while his hooker stands weeping at the car. That's entertainment, my friends. Next to "When Animals Attack" (Parts One through Three), "Cops" is the top of the heap when it comes to reality television.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Torture and salami

No, that's not a double-entrendre; it's my oh-so-clever lead-in to this article on Slate about why not banning torture is a bad, bad idea. Give it a read; it's most enlightening. I was always against using torture, but this article lays it out much better than I ever could.

Things I did today about which you'll likely care very little, in no particular:

  • Bought me some new sneakers. When you walk up to 30 miles a week, you go through them suckas fast.
  • Had a tasty apple for breakfast. Red Delicious apples are better, but Gala are more consistent in quality. Today's breakfast was Gala.
  • Learned how to jimmy open a door at work. Who says the University of Pennsylvania doesn't teach you anything?
  • Discovered that use of a tilda in html makes the character over which it is positioned unreadable.
  • Looked up "cueing."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Thanks to Yagathai...

...I can provide this link to some of Ann Coulter's blatherings.

Now, I strongly recommend you don't get angry over what she said here, because Coulter always says stuff that's either inaccurate, misleading, or plainly untrue. However, she fascinates me because every time I read more of her frothing nonsense, I ask, "Does she really believe this, or is she just trying to sell books?" Part of me wants to think that no one who's earned a JD and passed the bar would have such a caricatured conservative view of the world, but there's another part that suspects she does believe at least the core of what she says. In my opinion, Coulter as someone who thinks she's speaking truth to power is far scarier than Coulter as a money-hungry attention-grabber.

Things Presidential

About two months ago, Dan and I were at dinner with some friends, and I asked each person his favorite and least favorite US president. Unsurprisingly, each picked our current monarch as his least favorite, but the favorites were more varied.* I picked Franklin Delano Roosevelt, because I admired his attitude of dealing with the Depression. This is paraphrased, but he basically said that he'd try something, and if that didn't work he'd try something else. I find that people often spend too much time talking and not enough doing, so naturally I admire this approach. Besides, FDR was president during what was arguably the worst time in our nation's history (the Depression and WWII), and yet he managed to get elected four times. That's no mean feat.

Admittedly, trying to pack the Supreme Court with his supporters wasn't the best move, but I still admire his "let's do it" approach to getting the nation out of the Depression. Also, he helped introduce what I consider to be some good social programs, most of which have unfortunately been dismantled by the last thirty years of conservatism. Sigh.

Oh, I found out that Elizabeth Shue and I share a birthday.

*Living during the tenure of the worst president in US history is a lot less fun than you'd think.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Something insensitive

Who the fuck gets hit by a train?

I'm not talking about someone who falls on the tracks, or is pushed by an overeager crowd (this happened at 15th Street), but about people crossing or walking along tracks who get hit. A train is an enormous, metal, din-creating machine that generates a hideously loud noise during its earth-shaking approach. That seems as conspicuous as they come, right? Be that as it may, SEPTA tells people again and again not to cross the tracks, and yet every year a few cement-heads manage to get themselves whacked by the iron horse. I don't get it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Sevens

I saw this on Sarcasmo's Corner, so I thought I'd steal, er, borrow it for mine. It's a list of 7's. Here goes

7 celebrity crushes:
  1. Paul Mercurio
  2. Richard Thomas
  3. Prince William (the English one)
  4. Michael Biehn
  5. Moritz Bleibtrue (Franka Potente's boyfriend in "Run Lola Run")
  6. Benno Furman (Franka Potente's boyfriend in "Anatomie")
  7. Franka Potente (Seeing a pattern here? I don't want to have sex with her, though; I just have a crush on her.)

7 things I am good at:
  1. Making marinara sauce
  2. Modern Art
  3. Job interviews
  4. Bearing up under stress
  5. Picking out clothing
  6. Ultimate Frisbee!
  7. Staying up late

7 things I plan to do before I die:
  1. Live in another area of the country
  2. Tour Europe
  3. Fly first-class, the cost be damned!
  4. Go waterskiing
  5. Tell off my boss (whoever it is at the time)
  6. Fly across the country just to see the Go-Go's perform
  7. Become wealthy

7 things I cannot do:
  1. Make rice (Minute Rice doesn't count)
  2. Willingtly touch a spider
  3. Do algebra
  4. Share my emotions easily
  5. Proceed without a plan
  6. Resist chocolate
  7. Swear off chocolate

7 things that attract me to the sex to whom I am attracted:
  1. Confidence
  2. Honesty
  3. Nice butt (that's shallow, but true)
  4. Height greater than 5'8
  5. Appreciation of humor
  6. Emotional accessibility
  7. Nice butt (that's really important)

7 things I say often:
  1. Once you pay Danegeld...
  2. Yeah, that'll work real well.
  3. Uh...OK.
  4. Are you on drugs?
  5. No way!
  6. Can I get an ETA on that?
  7. You know... (This is usually accompanied by a sternly pointing finger, and precedes a rant of some kind.)

Monday, December 05, 2005

You always know it's Christmas...

...when some fuckhead starts complaining about the use of "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." It's started again, and the usual cast of religious zeros is boycotting Wal-mart and Target because their employees greet customers with the former. Apparently, it's OK that both Wal-mart and Target both pay, and treat their employees like, crap, and that these corporations are responsible for the demise of untold numbers of independent businesses who are far more invested in their respective communities. All this is just jim-dandy with the God Squad, but dare to wish someone a happy holiday and you've got a fight on your hands.

Pah. This is a vapid, pointless issue, which I suppose makes it just right for American political discourse.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I just saw a really cool thing!

I was out today for my daily five-mile walk, and at 18th & Chestnut I saw - get this - a hawk, perched atop a lightpost, eating a pigeon. I think it was a hawk, anyway; it was a large, mottled-brown bird with a white underbelly. Whatever it was, it was chowing down on Mr. Pigeon like pigeons were on the verge of extinction. Everyone had stopped to look, and those who had camera phones were snapping shots of the hawk at its repast.

Naturally, I phoned Dan right away. He didn't understand why my seeing a hawk devouring a pigeon made it natural to phone him. It's that mystique that keeps our relationship alive.

The "L" Word

Not "lesbian"; it's "liberal", which is these days equally maligned. Douglas Massey, who is a professor at Princeton, wrote a book called "Return of the 'L' Word: A Liberal Vision for the New Century." I read it last summer, and it was really good, particularly in terms of economic liberalism, an area in which I think we lefties aren't very good at expressing ourselves.

Anyway, Massey sets for some central core beliefs of liberalism, which I'd like to set forth here, as follows:

  • Government should invest in people by seeing to their health and education, for people are the ultimate resource in society.
  • Markets are not states of nature, but human inventions with imperfections and fallibilities, and government must work to ensure they function for the good of the many instead of the benefit of the few.
  • Government is obligated to see that needed markets exist, that competition within them is fair, that transactions are transparent, and that competition is accessible to everyone.
  • Because markets are fallible, and that they can and do break down from time to time, government must create public institutions to protect people from periodic market failures.
  • Government must ensure equal civil, legal, and political rights for all citizens regardless of background.
Now, I know some might say, "But Tracker, why should we rely on government to do all this. Shouldn't we do this ourselves?" Answer: Because only government can. No labor union, church fund or citizen advocacy group can make sure that Microsoft doesn't drive out all other competition, or that kids in North Philadelphia get the same education dollars as those in Lower Merion. Only government, with the power of law and regulation, can truly ensure that everyone benefits from the machinery of society.

Personally, I think most people believe this stuff, even if they don't admit it to others or even to themselves. For proof you need look no further than the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Louisiana and Mississippi may talk (and vote) and bunch of nonsense about keeping the government out of their lives, but when Uncle Sam wheeled out the government disaster relief trough, they jammed their snouts right in just like the most leftist Blue-stater. Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, city or urban, rich or poor...ain't nobody turning down free money.