23 September 2009

Mr. T and the First Lady

I've visited the Mr. T Wikipedia page several times but this picture was new when I visited today. It is awesome. Nancy Reagan sitting on Santa T's lap. What's that she has in her hand, why it's a Mr. T doll of course. Although I suppose it should properly be called an action figure.

21 September 2009

Scourge

An attempt to capture the essence of cool.

Academic Arrogance

One of the younger students in my last philosophy course was getting frustrated by the debate/dialogue in class one day and I overheard her say to one of her friends during the break:
"This is stupid, all we ever due is argue, and talk about how other people argue about politics. That's why I'm going to be a biologist, science is facts and you can't argue about facts."

My Statistics TA last quarter had us do an experiment with histograms in which we recorded the dates on a bagful of pennies and played around with the data. When she was describing the experiment to the other TA he said: "You're going to give them pennies? Playing games is for kids, this is statistics, it's easy and we don't need to play games."

19 September 2009

City Work

Everywhere I've ever seen city workers on the job, From New Mexico to New York there are always at least two guys standing and "supervising" for every guy actually performing labor.
In general most of these guys are big and the majority are white. Think stereotypical construction worker, union member type. When I think of it, conservative, patriotic bigot is what comes to mind. (I know, it's not that simple but it's what instantly comes to mind before I start to analyse)
So what I saw yesterday was particularly awesome to me because it captured the changing face of modern American culture:
4 city employees working at an intersection to fix the stoplight. Three of them were indeed white guys, bright orange vests and hardhats &c. They were indeed standing around watching the fourth guy work. The fourth was a skinny black guy sitting on a bucket with a laptop reprogramming the stoplight.

16 September 2009

Mixed Blessings

Story for Real Change News. I prefer the blank one because I think the story will fill in the "blanks" so to speak.

14 September 2009

13 September 2009

Mixed Bag Rant

I've known for a while that cellphones are a two-way street. For probably 6 years now I've had in mind a comic strip (things get done quickly around here) in which a filthy ragged sociopath appears to be talking to himself while walking down the street but he is actually trading stocks over his bluetooth, while a well dressed and groomed fellow appears to be having a casual conversation but is actually totally nuts and talking to invisible people.

But it really hit home today at work in one of the rudest days I have ever experienced. I'm not sure if it was that Seattle wasn't expecting so much sun this weekend and everyone's brains were a little overcooked or what. Anyway, customers were short, not sweet, and demanding. But then there were the cellphones.

I'm sure this has been elaborated on by other more astute and timely social critics than I, however, let this be a further intoxicated haymaker swung at the chin of pop-culture.

Cellphones are simultaneously the bane and the boon of my generation (when I was 18 pagers were still the best you could hope for). Here we are a mere 11 years later and there are well worn dictionary terms for chronic cell phoners.
I digress. My hatred stems from the social side effects of cell usage, and the adverse undermining of the buddhist "be here now" effect.
Allow me to elaborate.

Cellphones are great because they do in fact shorten the bounce time for important communications. Business, family, etc. Most importantly they can increase the possibilities for global social justice & solidarity. What this means is that someone in Tehran can upload a video of a pro-democracy protester getting murdered (or a slew of Chicago commuters can do the same for an American citizen who happens to be black) and the rest of the world can know about it and react, and say something, and demand change or see what is wrong and how the world must change for the better.

At the same time however it distances us from our immediate surroundings. The obvious example is the phoning driver, and it would be a waste of time to elaborate my disdain for people who drive and talk/text. Behind the wheel you are responsible for other people's lives.
But there is a more intimate foundational rot. One that begins with the interpersonal relationship. I myself use a cellphone to talk to friends all the time, occasionally even my housemates who are a mere 30 stairs away.
But the cellphone is an unfortunate way to cut yourself off from the people immediately surrounding you, and that for a person who is not anywhere near you. On a cellphone, you sacrifice the fleeting contact with passersby and other people which builds human solidarity and community. This is evidenced in the rudeness of people who yell into their earpieces in public, or can barely squeeze out a few curt words to the barista or cashier at the store. People who wander around in circles apparently babbling at nothing.
People who go out with their friends and then stand outside talking to someone on the phone. Those of you whose phones loudly ring and ring and ring and ring yet you don't answer. Whether you looked at the number or not, you don't care. The people around you don't matter, they are not important. Fuck them, they're stupid assholes with bad taste, dumb friends, unglamorous jobs and you cannot possibly learn anything from them because you know everything.

Speaking from experience, let me tell you something. You (we) couldn't be more wrong. Think just briefly about all the things you know about, the things you are an expert at. Your degrees, certificates, experiences, trials and tribulations where did you earn them? Think about all the things that you have found or find interesting but haven't been able to study, and then think about all the things you haven't ever considered interesting or important to know about. Who does know them, and how do you know they even exist? And now consider how many people are alive right now. How many live in your city? How many right next to you?
You and I are not alone and we do not and cannot exist in isolation. Everything you know you learned from somewhere and your interpretations of what you experience you learned from someone else, and your next teacher or student is right next to you.

Don't stop using your cellphone, please, it's useful. Still, please don't forget us, the rest of the world. We need you, we want you, we like you, and we make a lot better team together than we do apart.

12 September 2009

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

If you though The Animals version of this song was good, wait till you hear this one.

07 September 2009

I Concede

I was in my home state of New Mexico for a week and it was Green Chile season. So I went to the grocery store and my dad bought me thirty pounds which we had roasted and froze and I brought home to Seattle to keep me warm for the winter.
New Mexico has the largest Chicano population of the 50 states; 42% by the last census I believe, and my hometown of Silver City is somewhere around 50% plus or minus. In my recent post about why and where people misspell/conflate the words Chile and Chili I said that this probably occurs where there are not many Spanish speakers.

But, in the Albertsons where I secured my stash there was a sign advertising the delicious peppers and boldly displaying both spellings. I stand corrected.
It would seem that the only people who care enough to make the distinction are people like me who for whatever reason feel there is some greater inherent importance in distinguishing the words beyond the distinction between the foods. I couldn't tell you what that importance is even though I make it.

04 September 2009

Catfish Green Mango Curry

Sometimes my job is boring. It's easy and low stress, but sometimes, there's just not much going on. So, since I have free access to pretty much all the ingredients necessary for cooking just about anything I want, I do.


And it is good.

Grandparents