Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

30 June, 2005

Up the Downstair - Podcast

OK, my domain name has not propagated to all the necessary DNS servers so www.upthedownstair.net will not get you anywhere yet. In the meantime, if any readers listen to podcasts, can you please try my feed and let me know the results? It's:

I am unable to get iPodder to download the enclosure though is seems to parse the xml file fine and see that there's a file waiting. And if you just wanna download the show or listen to it, it can be found here. Quicktime opened in a browser window and played it fine. I can't stand the sound of my own voice and no DJ am I so I apologize ahead of time for the freakishly amateur nature of it but what the fuck.

The webpage is here, for the moment.

Stupid computers!
|| Palmer, 8:04 PM || link || (0) comments |
Son Volt News

Some more tour dates have been announced for the band and Jay Farrar will be doing a breeze through of a few Border's bookstores including the one on Madison's east side!

8/11 – Borders – 2173 Zeier Rd., Madison WI 53704 – 7:30 pm
8/12 - Borders – 4718 N. Broadway Ave., Chicago, IL 60640 – 7:00 pm
8/19 – Borders – 400 Post St., San Francisco, CA 94102 – 7:00 pm

On the CD front, there's an EP out now but available only through select retailers:

‘Afterglow 61 EP’, a 6-song release featuring unreleased material, is in record stores now. This EP is available through the CIMS (www.cimsmusic.com), MMN (www.musicmonitornetwork.com), AIMS (www.thealliancerocks.com) and Newbury Comics (www.newburycomics.com) networks and features the following:

Afterglow 61 – radio mix
Joe Citizen Blues – live from Tower Theatre in Philadelphia, PA
Bandages & Scars – live from Tower Theatre
Medication – live from Tower Theatre
Ipecac – live from Tower Theatre
Gramophone – live from KRO Radio 2 in Utrecht, Netherlands

This is an exclusive release through the stores above and will not be available on the Jay Farrar/Son Volt store for several months.

In addition, Best Buy will be selling copies of Okemah and the Melody of Riot that includes a DVD with some live footage on it:

Best Buy is offering an exclusive DVD of live Son Volt footage when you purchase ‘Okemah’. This DVD is inside of the actual cd package. Songs included are “Bandages & Scars”, “Gramophone”, “Drown” (all three from Tower Theatre in Philadelphia) and “Afterglow 61” (solo acoustic performance from Housing Works in NYC).

I'm all giddy now because I'll get to meet Jay Farrar! I wonder if he'd grant me an interview...
|| Palmer, 1:16 PM || link || (0) comments |
Tech Support Tales 4

"Real cases from the tech support world."
Here's the third installment of a series in which I document actual cases from the tech support crew here at DHFS.

Customer Priority: Individual + <1hr = 1=CRITICAL
Category: Security
SubCategory: Virus

Division: unknown


User rec'd email this morning from within the state that stated his email account had been disabled and he needed to open the link provided. His pc then appeared to have someone else controlling the mouse; he believes someone else may have control of his desktop.
please call user back ASAP, he needs to know if he should turn his pc back on or not.
|| Palmer, 9:52 AM || link || (0) comments |

29 June, 2005

What I Need

I'm trying to keep my mind off of sex but it's, um, hard. I should probably change my wallpaper which features a gorgeous black-haired woman with beautiful breasts and erect nipples. Luckily listening to the news is proving to a help in this endeavor. You try listening to a woman who lost her son in Iraq and describe the callousness of Bush upon meeting him and I bet you'll find your libido on the wane too. But, not having had sex in nearly 3 weeks and no masturbation for the past 3 days, I'm not sure how long I can hold out.

I'm rather glad that yesterday is yesterday and today is today because yesterday just sucked. I was in a rather grumpy mood most of the day for unknown reasons. I just didn't want to deal with anyone and never wanted to be wherever it was that I happened to be. I avoided flirting with any of the usual women with whom I flirt, I didn't wander to any co-workers' desks to chat, or in any way let my usual gregariousness shine through. I have no explanation for how I felt. Instead I'm just glad that those feelings left me today, for the most part. But I suppose it has something to do with having parted ways with The Dulcinea, hot having been laid in what seems like years, and just feeling lonely. It will pass, I know.

In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to distract myself and not get bogged down in these feelings. This weekend is of the 3-day variety and Saturday will be spent on the lakes enjoying the weather, good company, and fireworks. If/when I get my butt in gear and buy tickets, I'm planning on heading down to Chicago on the 16th of next month to see Adrian Belew. And then on the 21st I'll be off to Milwaukee to catch the California Guitar Trio with Tony Levin. I am also hoping to go to the Bristol Renaissance Faire on the 23rd. At the moment, I'm trying to find a friend or friends in Chicago to head to the Park West for the Belew show with me. Ted and Andrew are maybes. I am also keen on doing some camping. The reason that I'm free this weekend to hit the lakes is that a canoe trip was cancelled due to the dry weather and a shallow river.

I just feel like I'm in a rut, overall. Just sort of here and I think that by getting out and about, I'll be able to beat that feeling. Being out of town is especially helpful in this sense. I suppose that there are other things at play too. Marv is being forced to move by noon on Saturday as the house he lives in was bought by a new landlord. While this normally is not a big deal, Marv revealed to me this past weekend that he's broke and will be depending on friends for a place to rest his head for a while. I felt bad upon hearing this news because being homeless can't be fun and being broke on top of it makes matters even worse. It struck me as odd that, for being broke, he was planning on heading to a tavern after boating last Saturday. Why, if he was really strapped for cash and facing the prospect of finding a new apartment which requires a security deposit and the first month's rent up front, was he going to a tavern? And what happened to all that money he got in the settlement for his accident? Marv is a freelance database programmer but he had steady employment at OCI for a while last year – where did the money go? I have a feeling I know where it went and Marv is to blame but I still feel horrible. He is my friend, after all. On the bright side, Dogger, Mel, and Miss Regan seem to be doing well. Mel very slowly moves towards normal movement and Miss Regan continues to grow. Walking, talking, and being oblivious to all the horrible shit that this world has to offer – as should be the case. But I worry. I worry every time George Bush opens his mouth. What the hell is this country going to be like when Regan is grown up? Will we still be in Iraq? Will she be conscripted into service to fight this war on terror? I suppose that worry has been the plight of all people with children in their lives.

Plus there are countless other friends whom I haven't seen in a while – Miss Rosie, The Pollack, and Lush, to name a few. What I really need to do is to resolve to see them. Or at least email them. Make some kind of contact. I've been horrible lately about this. Plus I have so many reviews and writing to do for my magazine that it's ridiculous. Maybe with this long weekend I can get some done. Surprisingly, e-mailing just one review in to my editor gives me a nice sense of accomplishment. And I really wanna get some canoeing in. I bailed on one trip for reasons I can't recall and 2 others have been cancelled. And I need to get me a bike helmet so I can do me some riding. And I owe Rachel a letter. Plus, now that my mom has moved into the 20th century and gotten a CD player, I should whip up a CD or 2 for her.

A to-do list, that's what I need!
|| Palmer, 8:07 PM || link || (0) comments |
Souter Suites

Logan Darrow Clements wants New Hampshire to take David Souter'sproperty under eminent domain so that a hotel might be built there.

Clements is the CEO of Los Angeles-based Freestar Media that fights "abusive" government through a Web site and cable show. He plans to move to New Hampshire soon as part of the Free State Project, a group that supports limiting government powers, the Monitor reported.

The letter was passed along to the board of selectmen. If the five-member board were to endorse the hotel project, zoning laws would have to be changed and the hotel would have to get approval from the planning board. Messages seeking comment were left with Laura Buono, board chairwoman.

"Am I taking this seriously? But of course," said Charles Meany, Weare's code enforcement officer. "In lieu of the recent Supreme Court decision, I would imagine that some people are pretty much upset. If it is their right to pursue this type of end, then by all means let the process begin."

Oh, I so hope they endorse the project if only for the humor value of the fight that would ensue.
|| Palmer, 2:09 PM || link || (0) comments |
My Arteries Are A-Dilatin'

I am pleased that science has
found evidence that chocolate has a salutary effect. This is especially comforting because I drowned myself in dark chocolate gluttony last night after a prolonged stretch of computer use in which I got my website and podcast into reasonable shape. It was one of those funky bars from the coop with an animal on the front. I was so happy to have found it in my refrigerator that I lathered a couple pieces of it with the remaining two teaspoons of super-organic peanut butter I had.

I found the following little ditty via Shopiere. A couple lefties infiltrated the recent College Republican National Convention and have been blogging about it at Campus Progress. I'd read a couple bits last week but found this:

But really, what disturbs me the most is the utter disrespect and scathing cold-heartedness these students display for anything to the left of Tom DeLay. During the Leadership Institue session a presenter asked the crowd, "What makes you angry?" The answers:
1. Liberals
2. Hippies
3. Gays
4. Democrats

The author is disturbed by the fact that these are groups of people and not policies or laws which are perfectly fine targets of one's ire. Come on! As if a group of lefties wouldn't respond:

1. Conservatives
2. Evangelicals
3. Pro-lifers
4. Republicans

...or something similar. Sure, the picture of a group of suit & tie wearing Karl Rove wannabes conjures up parallels to Nazi Germany but let's give them some credit. I mean, they weren't asked "What do you want to kill?". Some Liberals make me angry too. Like those that speak eloquently and passionate about equality, freedom, etc. and turn around and tell me "Anyone but Bush". Hippies. OK, I admit that I have a particular affection for hippie chicks. But that still doesn't excuse those hippies who confuse the liberal application of patchouli oil for personal hygiene. Or those who think that a passion for the music of the Grateful Dead should be the terminus for all music appreciation. Democrats? Well, does anything really need to be said about them? Now gays. How can gays make you angry? Specific gay people, to be sure but why does homosexuality make college Republicans angry? Exactly how does two men engaging in sodomy or two women engaging in...engaging in...sapphic explorations rain on anyone's parade?

Well, I'm about off to the Argus for a final lunch with Dogger which can include a cigarette inside the tavern. For the day after tomorrow brings the smoking ban courtesy of Righties who blather on about consumer choice & letting the market do things instead of government yet seek to curtail it and those Lefties who fight for women to have the choice of an abortion, for gays to marry, etc. - things with which they agree - and then turn around and eliminate choice for something they don't like.
|| Palmer, 11:23 AM || link || (0) comments |
Funky Wallpaper

I found a repository of nice wallpaper. I personally fancy the chemical representation of the caffeine molecule and the one showing a cornucopia of peppers. Thanks to DVD Jon.
|| Palmer, 8:47 AM || link || (0) comments |
Next to the bar we hit the samovar

If you've ever wondered how to properly make tea Russian style, check out this page.

What makes all the difference, is the so-called "zavarka", the tea concentrate. The Russian process of tea-making is a two stage one; First, you make the zavarka, then water it down with hot, boiled water ("kipyatok" in Russian).
|| Palmer, 8:20 AM || link || (0) comments |
Word of the Week

adj. Of or relating to the underworld.
|| Palmer, 7:57 AM || link || (0) comments |

28 June, 2005

Based On the Book

From the Mid-Continent Public Library comes this list of movies and the books upon which they're based. I didn't know that Angel Heart was based on Fallen Angel by William Hjortsberg or that Wag the Dog was adapted from Larry Beinhart's American Hero. Harumph.
|| Palmer, 8:34 PM || link || (0) comments |
30-year-olds struggling with adulthood?

Despite having no government agency trying to bring filmmakers here to Wisconsin to shoot their films, The Last Kiss will start filming on State Street tomorrow.

Some major movie makers are heading into town and one Madison shop owner is rolling out the red carpet.

Jeffrey Price says he hopes his store, The House of Wisconsin Cheese, will be part of a movie being filmed on State Street. "The Last Kiss" starring Scrubs actor Zach Braff is scheduled to begin filming in Madison tomorrow.

Maybe I can meet the hottie co-stars, Jacinda Barrett and Rachel Bilson.
|| Palmer, 7:48 PM || link || (0) comments |

OK, I've pretty much got the podcast setup. Right now I'm waiting for my domain name to propagate. In the meantime, you can check out the site here. Yeah, I know it was cheesy to just use Blogger but I wanted to get it up and running ASAP. Besides, I'm lazy. Someday I'll actually get my ass in gear and create a site, but, until then, this'll do.
|| Palmer, 6:42 PM || link || (0) comments |
Mel & Floyd, 17 & 24 June, 2005

The shows from the last two weeks are up. And here's the RSS feed for anyone who may have missed it.
|| Palmer, 8:32 AM || link || (0) comments |
The Hayek Controversey

This is for anyone who's taken some poli sci or economics courses and is familiar with Friedrich Hayek. We read his The Constiution of Liberty in a political science class I had with Charles Anderson here at our esteemed UW so I found this to be quite humorous: Selma Hayek vs. Friedrich Hayek.
|| Palmer, 8:31 AM || link || (0) comments |
On the Gramophone

Beatallica are a group of Milwaukee lads who combine Metallica and Beatles songs. For instance, they took "Got To Get You Into My Life", added "Trapped Under Ice", and came up with "Got To Get You Trapped Under Ice". Their singer, Jaymz Lennfield, does a killer James Hetfield imitation. They opened up for Dream Theater when they were at the Barrymore here in Madison last fall and survived a legal brouhaha with Sony who said that they were horrible people because they parody Beatles tunes. So, without further adieu, let me urge you to check out "Sandman", a mix of The Beatles' "Taxman" and Metallica's "Enter Sandman".
|| Palmer, 8:27 AM || link || (0) comments |

27 June, 2005

Ruh ro, Raggy!

It looks as if we are one step closer to creating those dogs in Resident Evil. Scientists are now able to revive dogs that have been dead for hours.

US scientists have succeeded in reviving the dogs after three hours of clinical death, paving the way for trials on humans within years.

Pittsburgh's Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which subject's veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution.

The animals are considered scientifically dead, as they stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity.

But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the zombie dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock.

Of course they want to try this on people next with an eye towards saving the lives of our troops. I wonder what kind of memories a person would have upon waking, if they'd have any at all. Would they remember the moment of their death?
|| Palmer, 3:30 PM || link || (0) comments |
Seaside Funband & Invisible Opera Company of Tibet

Most people seem to be in a good mood today. One of the baristas at CZ greeted me by name when I walked in which surprised me. I have no idea what her name is so I felt kind of bad that I couldn't return the personalized greeting. She even asked where I worked and, when I told her, she sounded all surprised. It seems I don't look like your typical DHFS employee. Then again, I neglected to tell her that I fixed computers and had absolutely nothing to do with families and people's health. I probably should have left her a bigger tip for having been so nice. In addition, Harry spoke to me in the hall today. He said, "There he is. How are you this morning?" Nothing special but he's never said anything to me whatsoever when we've passed in the hall since I started here about 8 months ago. And then I had to work on Bonnie's PC. Bonnie is the secretary/receptionist for our CIO, Denise. I had to un/reinstall MS Office and FrontPage so I had her computer tied up for 15 minutes or so. When I told Bonnie this, she decided to go out for a walk outside. About a minute after she leaves, I'm tying my shoe when Denise walks over looking slightly befuddled: "Who are you? And what have you done to Bonnie?" I watched her eyes look me over. First she looked at the pen in my breastpocket which has a Devil Ducky on it and then she glanced at my "Reading is sexy" pin. I await the fallout from my unprofessional attire.

I found an article in the Crap Times concerning the roundabouts near my house over on Thompson drive. It states that there have been some two dozen accidents have been reported by drivers using the roundabouts since they opened last October. There's nothing involved with these roundabouts that can't be handled by following the rules of the road. Like checking for cross traffic when you enter and intersection or, heaven forbid, actually obeying the yield signs. I've almost t-boned a couple numbskulls because they couldn't bother to yield. Yield means those cars in the loop have the right of way. I remember one buy I almost hit didn't even look to his left. He just kept looking straight ahead. This was too bad because, had he looked to his left, he'd A) have seen oncoming traffic and B) seen me giving him the finger.

It's lunch time now and I ran out and got some iced coffee and a burrito from the stand up at Wisconsin & Main. I'm listening to Part 3 of the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy featuring the adventures of Zero on the planet Gong along with the Pothead Pixies and the Octave Doctor in You by Gong. I've known about Gong for years and have heard an occasional tune by them but this was my first purchase of one of their albums. I like it so far so I may have to buy the first two albums in the trilogy, The Flying Teapot and Angel's Egg. The influence of these folks on Ozric Tentacles is now glaringly obvious. I'd only heard a couple Gong tunes prior to now and they were shorter and more focused than the longer, spacier jams. Don't get me wrong, they were fucking weird (e.g. - "A Perfect Mystery") but a structured kind of weird. Check out these lyrics:

Zero: Look up in the air!
Yoni: The Octave Doctor's there!
Zero: And when he strokes his wadn
Yoni: Your middle eye comes on.

I also got Are You Sitting Comfortably? by neo-prog heroes, IQ. It's probably their most poppy sounding album but there's some great tunes on it. The other CD I bought yesterday was one by Spock's Beard's older albums, before Neal Morse found Jeebus and left to do whatever it is he's doing. SB are part of the second wave of neo-proggers. They're a lot like old Genesis which you'd think would instantly appeal to me but I'm having a fuck of a time getting into them. When they do complicated bits - instrumental passages, overtures, and the like - they are fantastic. Great chops and great melodies. But when it comes time for vocals, I just feel like I'm listening to Journey. (Journey after Steven Perry joined, that is)

Well, I've just been informed that I'm soon to be the offical ArcView installer so I now have a couple grand worth of software sitting at my desk. OK. Time for a smokey treat.
|| Palmer, 1:46 PM || link || (0) comments |
Prost Gotvins Geometri – Part 4

This is Prost Gotvins geometri by Gert Nygårdshaug. The translation was done by Roy Johansen. Nygårdshaug is a Norwegian author and the text has not yet been published in English. Roy is a friend of mine who recently moved back to his native Norway. He has translated a good part of the novel and I'm trying to convince him to finish it.

Here’s Part 3.

Father Gotvin's First Journey (continued)

It was almost eight in the evening, it was the middle of June. A soft, warm breeze greeted me as I stepped off the train at this unfamiliar place, still feeling pretty dizzy and still with this enigmatic drawing in my hand. I had draped my jacket casually over my shoulder and in my left hadn I carried the small suitcase that held the bare necessities for my trip. I remained standing on the platform with my head lifeted toward the mild breeze. In the middle of this busy beehive where a plethora of languages contributed to the buzzing, stood I, Gotvin Seleng from Vanndal. Father Gotvin, as my friends called me, although “Father” is a Catholic appellation and not used in the Lutheran Church. This “Father” thing had stuck with me ever since my childhood when I, already at a tender age, started to officiate eclectic ceremonies, as it were. “Here comes Father,” they said when I as a ten-year old arrived at soccer practice. But I thought it was a nice moniker, although some of my minister colleagues had suggested I discourage the practice among my friends. The idea, however remotely academic, of being mistaken for a Catholic was no laughing matter for sober Lutherans.

My very first trip abroad.
I lifted my face to the wind.
My lips whispered a short prayer.
A ‘thank you’ to the Lord.

I was hungry. I hurried along the platform, in through a door, the main railway station, sought out the clerk, one who might direct me to a moderately priced accommodation for my three-day stay here. I found him and spoke English with the polite man. Hotel Gabriel he wrote on a slip of paper. That was where I would be staying, inexpensively and comfortably, he assured me. A taxi would be best, he opined. I thanked him, walked out on the street, and found one.

A few minutes later I enjoyed the pleasure of entering a clean, nice room and a bible on the nightstand. A room to be mine alone these three days. I gently stroked the bed pillow, put my suitcase on a stand next to the bed, and kneeled with my hand folded on the Spanish bible on the nightstand. ”But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot,” I whispered, ”and she returned unto him into th ark. Then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.” Is the story of this dove also mine? I thought, have I come to the ark? But what do I carry? Nothing, not even a green olive leaf. God’s window will always remain open, God’s hand is reaching out. Even the soul who hath naught to offer Him can find shelter and rest under God’s roof.

I had found shelter and rest under God’s roof.
Ever since my confirmation I had been a firm believer.
All the years of my adult life I have been His servant.
The congregation in Vanndal was small.
Hardly ten people regularly came to services.
The parish’s population was over five thousand.
Where did all the doves fly?

I rose from my prayer and my thoughts. I stroked the bed pillow again, on it was a sheet of paper that until an hour ago had been part of a book I didn’t know in the hands of a woman I didn’t know. She had torn out and drawn on the last, blank page, this drawing she had given to me, a casual traveler – a pilgrim? Peculiar patterns, geometric structures, and by the figures her beautiful handwriting: ”Trelleborg”, “Eskeholm”, “Fyrkat”, and ”Aggersborg”. Down at the bottom of the page was a name: “Preben Hansson”. I understood nothing. Denmark? A reference to something Danish, but what were the geometric figures supposed to represent? I felt the unease again, the murmur under my breastbone; was it hunger? I had to get something to eat, a good supper, Spanish, and a small bottle of wine? I left the sheet of paper where it lay, on the pillow, but before I left, I bent down and smelled, put my nose right on the paper.


I found a restaurant almost directly across the street, El toro, typically Spanish, and I ordered duck in orange sauce and a half-bottle of the local red wine, plus a large glass of water. The unease was there while I was eating, the food filled me up, and the slight intoxication from the wine settled my thoughts, but only for a moment because truth was knocking, inexorably. I could not flee now, when, finally, I had reached my destination.

A miracle has occurred here in Santiago de Compostela.
Last year, September.
A great miracle.
Great enough to make the local newspaper in Vanndal.
A miracle on the square in front of the cathedral.
A Catholic miracle.

One joining the line of hundreds of other Catholic miracles, how could such miracles possibly be? I remember thinking when I first read about it. Read about the fiery orb appearing in the sky one bright morning, slowly descending, descending, descending until it was hovering above the square directly in front of the main portal of the cathedral, where it remained suspended above the heads of the pilgrims who, trembling with fear, threw themselves on the ground praying. But they could not help seeing that there, from the center of the fiery wreath emerged the Virgin Mary, her hands lifted, and she showered benedictions over the pilgrims and a delegation of Japanese business men, who were not pilgrims at all, but who weren’t able to find shelter from the holy downpour. However, the benedictions had not been of any help since the Japanese later expressed doubts whether it indeed was the Virgin May they had seen emerging from the luminous circles. But what else could it possibly be? To this they could not find an answer, but the others, the pilgrims, were thoroughly convinced. Four hundred and thirty three had without a doubt seen the Virgin Mary, Jesus’ mother. Something, however, happened that put a temporary damper on the general elation over the Holy Virgin’s visitation: when the brilliant wreath of light reverted to a fiery orb, faded, and became one with the sky again, two small children also vanished. They had been with their mothers and fathers, on the cathedral square and, as the glowing ball disappeared, so, inexplicably, did they. A girl, Celestie, of six from Belgium and a boy, Thomasi, of eight from Verona in Italy and no one has seen the children since. The Pope later received the parents in the Vatican where it was explained to them that Celestie and Thomasi had followed the Heavenly Mother home to heaven and that they would both be canonized as saints, and, the Pope explained further, one has for centuries expected a miracle like this to happen in Santiago de Compostela where the disciple James the Elder lay buried. Now that the miracle had finally taken place, everybody rejoiced except the delegation of Japanese businessmen plus three or four other non-believers who had happened to behold the wondrous events, for these three or four could not remember having seen the Virgin Mary, but something entirely different altogether.

The news of the miracle in Compostela reached Vanndal.
I pondered this in surprise.
|| Palmer, 8:37 AM || link || (0) comments |

26 June, 2005

Weekend Draws to a Close

As is obvious from my previous post, I spent the bulk of yesterday on Lake Mendota. Afterwards we headed over to the White House and had dinner. For some reason, I was craving a slab of beef and they delivered! Prime rib & shrimp. Today I ran a couple errands and did some shopping. I ended up making rum-drenched pork chops with pineapple salsa. It all turned out pretty well considering Carribean cooking is not my speciality.

I hope to have a live music podcast up soon. I've acquired webhosting services and am now waiting for the DNS servers to refresh so I can actually start uploading files. I horked an RSS file from someone & modified it and have 2 shows in the can. It's going to be called Up the Downstair and hope to podcast weekly with a second show thrown in during the odd week. The first show will feature Son Volt. A few of their older tunes followed by a good chunk of a show from March of this year featuring all new songs on the yet-to-be-released Okemah and the Melody of Riot. The second show I've got was something I threw together after having read the news. While making the Son Volt show, I quickly discovered that I can't stand the sound of my own voice so I'm working on minimizing my talking. I'm also struggling with copyrighted material. I've got some ideas for bits to go in between songs for shows that that don't have music culled from one source. While I have some stuff that (I presume) is public domain, such as speeches by Winston Churchill, a few bits definitely aren't. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully I won't need a good IP lawyer. The big decision right now is whether or not to create a webpage or just create another blog. I know very little HTML and have never built a webpage before, even with a WYSIWYG editor, so this should be amusing.

Today was rather weird. I've been extremely horny for most of it and could have passed for the guy a cell or two down from Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs. Also, today I got some quality TV viewing in. I watched a couple episodes of Doctor Who. "Boom Town", the 11th episode of the season, continued a storyline from episode 5. Then I watched "Bad Wolf". Oh. my. fuck. It was really intense and sent shivers down my spine once the bad guys were revealed. The show was fun in and of itself but what was really cool was how it clued me in on a season-long story arch of which I wasn't even aware. All that's left now is for me to watch the season finale and I'm quite excited. I've just gotta do some burning. You see, now I can actually burn video DVDs instead of only being able to make data DVDs with the video files on them. My menus are the cheesiest around, let me assure you. The upshot of all this is that I can watch Doctor Who on my 52" big screen TV.

Along similar sci-fi lines, I listened to "The Passenger", the first episode of the new Sapphire and Steel audio drama. Curiously enough, my brother had the entire TV series on DVD when I was at his place last weekend. It was quite good although I'm still getting used to it. I am debating as to whether to find some background info on the series because some of it was confusing or, at least, open-ended. There was really very little in the way of introductory material like for what organization the characters worked or any background on them whatsoever. It just starts with Sapphire and Steel on this train and we slowly learn about the passengers and the train itself. Kinda reminded me of The Exorcist in the way that you're just plunged into events in media res. The story involves our intrepid heroes on a train with a passenger who has no idea who he is or where he is. And Sapphire can detect that it's a different time in each compartment. And who is the "girl" wandering about looking for her father? There are some pretty spooky scenes, lemme tell ya.

Well, I'm going to queue up an episode of Space 1889 and ready for bed. I'm highly un-looking forward to work tomorrow.
|| Palmer, 9:07 PM || link || (0) comments |

25 June, 2005

Avast, Matey!

The forecast was for storms but we headed out anyway. Becca and Stevie bought a Party Island which is basically a raft 9' in diameter with a hole in the middle called a Dipping Hole. It has backrests and cup holders with enough space for 8 people. We had a good time.

Quite obviously a Wisconsin boat.

The weather held and the sun peeked through the clouds.

Our governor's home.

The Capitol.

There's me holding the rope as the party island was being towed.

The Super Pirate Pontoon in port.
|| Palmer, 10:22 PM || link || (0) comments |

24 June, 2005

The Meeting

The meeting came and went. Dinner was tense but palatable. Back to her place.

"I want you to know that I can't see you anymore," she said. I understood. And agreed.

"I feel silly asking you this but, can we have one last shag? To end where we began - to go full circle?" she asked. "No," I said.

I turned down sex. I'm still having a hard time believing that I declined a fuck. There must be some way for me to convince myself that it was for the best. We hugged once but she pushed me away for once last embrace. It was for the best. I hate what she said - the last thing she said. "So not only do you not feel for me like I feel for you but you reject my body too." Or something like that.

I was so relieved when I drove away. I felt like crying too. I do love her but, for whatever reason, I never fell in love with her. It makes me sad to have hurt her and it makes me sad to see how she puts herself down, how little she thinks of herself at times. This too shall pass. In time I suppose we'll both look back on our stint together fondly and chortle at the negatives of it all as we see how they've dwindled.

It's done and I think that's what really counts. There's no other women in the bullpen, so to speak. I suppose in a couple years I'll meet one, though, and the cycle can start all over again.
|| Palmer, 8:09 AM || link || (0) comments |
Women of Our Time

Here's a neat site courtesy of the Smithsonian. It features important & famous women of the 20th century.

Don't mess with Emma Goldman!
|| Palmer, 8:08 AM || link || (0) comments |
Friday Skin

|| Palmer, 8:06 AM || link || (0) comments |

23 June, 2005

To Check Out

If I survive tonight's meeting with The Dulcinea, I've found some interesting stuff that I'd like to check out.

First is a progressive chamber rock band called Far Corner. They hail from Milwaukee. A review I have have here describes their music thusly: "Think Presence rewriting a Stravinsky composition in blood." Sounds like heady stuff!

Second there's Sally Potter's latest film, Yes. The film's webpage:

YES is the story of a passionate love affair between an American woman (Joan Allen) and a Middle-Eastern man (Simon Abkarian) in which they confront some of the greatest conflicts of our generation - religious, political and sexual.

Sam Neill plays the betrayed and betraying politician husband, Sheila Hancock the beloved aunt and Shirley Henderson the philosophical cleaner who witnesses the trail of dirt and heartbreak the lovers leave behind them, as they embark on a journey that takes them from London and Belfast to Beirut and Havana.

While it sounds like an interesting tale, there's also a novelty to it: the dialogue is almost entirely in iambic pentameter. I'd also like to check out her earlier films, The Man Who Cried and Orlando among them.

Reading a review of Yes somewhere (Salon?), I came across Peter Greenaway's name. It's been a couple years since I've watched a film of his. I see that in 2003 he came out with a trilogy of films entitled The Tulse Luper Suitcases so I think I ought to try and find them.

Ooh! And now I've got a source for strawberries and raspberries! The guy is gonna make me a steak dinner and give me a country ton of raspberries if I show him how to put more RAM in his home computer. Sounds good to me.
|| Palmer, 1:47 PM || link || (0) comments |
18 and Up

Live music lovers in Madison not of drinking age have received some good news.

"What we're looking for is a good plan. Alder Judy Olson says any bar with live entertainment or a D.J. can apply for a license under one condition; "They provide us with a really convincing plan that they can control the situation and not be serving to minors."

Live music are better bumper stickers will be issued.
|| Palmer, 11:16 AM || link || (0) comments |
Engendering Debate

So I went back to the Women's Autonomy-Sexual Sovreignty blog. I inquired as to the logic behind the statement, "53% of the world's population is Female. The Human Race is therefore Female." In return, I am told that I am:

"...projecting your masculist [sic] fears and values on something you don't understand."

So, the first thing I get is a psychological evaluation and then insulted. At least she gets around to explaining her weird logical leap:

"Biologically, the male is a variant of what begins as female. Therefore, to say the race is female is inclusive of men. This is in contrast to the oppression and exclusion generally practiced in patriarchal society, in which the male seeks to exclude or dominate women. It's not an opposite of patriarchy, it is an entirely different world view.

Oh. Now, whatever you may think of her view, which, in my opinion, veers perilously close to misandry, she pulls a little bait'n'switch. She tells me that I'm this horrible patriarch and then justifies her faulty logic by dragging in other material that is nowhere to be found on that page. Premise = A. Conclusion = B. Logically, B does NOT follow A so she backtracks and says, "Oh, well it's because of C."

And I love her equivocation too. She uses "female" which has two different (though related) meanings and equates them. First we have, "Biologically, the male is a variant of what begins as female." So "female" here refers to a fetus prior to sex differentiation in the womb with a particular set of gonads. When she uses it in reference to the human race, the word's definition changes dramatically. Not only does it refer to a person with a particular set of gonads, but it also implies a person whose behaviors and views and have been molded by a patriarchal society. Beautiful equivocation.

It's too bad that fallacious logic, insults, pop psychology, and misandry have become the rallying cries for this feminist. I suspect that she is not alone in her choice of tools. I noted in her second reply that she neglected to address the points I made regarding her skewed logic. I truly hope that this isn't representative of the Third Wave of feminism.

So remember folks, the only possible motivation for using the phrase, "the exclusion of men", is the unconscious projection of masculinist fears and values.

Today's pop psychology lesson has ended.
|| Palmer, 10:27 AM || link || (0) comments |
Tech Support Tales 4

"Real cases from the tech support world."
Here's the third installment of a series in which I document actual cases from the tech support crew here at DHFS.


|| Palmer, 8:19 AM || link || (0) comments |

22 June, 2005

While the Drive Copies Over...

I got me a 250GB hard drive on the cheap today so I'm copying data to it before I throw it into my tower. As the data copies, I'm sitting here feeling sad. The sadness is exacerbated by the fact that I'm listening to Van der Graff Generator. Anyone who likes to stereotype progressive rock for spacy, hippie lyrics ought to give VdGG a listen. Peter Hammill was never one for happy-cheery lyrics - he left that stuff to Jon Anderson and Yes. VdGG recently reunited and I'm listening to their first concert in years from last month.

The reason I'm sad is that I've been reading a couple of The Dulcinea's blogs. Ever since the parting of the ways, I've felt blue and reading about how she feels isn't helping. Yet I torture myself. She and I are to meet tomorrow evening, if my schedule accommodates, and I think my mind is dreading it. I'm hoping to not get a huge ass-chewing but who knows what will happen.

OK, I've put on a Man or Astro Man? show to lighten the mood. Anyway, while her blogs don't contain a neverending littany of complaints, I still feel horrible. It was certainly never my intention to hurt her or be a jerk yet methinks that's exactly what I did. Now I read that she never enjoyed me pulling her hair during sex. As she admitted, she never said anything but I still feel bad about that. And she has trimmed her pubic hair seriously after having grown it out because of my preference. This reminds me of another girlfriend who did the same. However, she did it while we were still dating and was indicative of her seeing someone else.

Ah well, we'll see what happens tomorrow. Right now, I'm going to go listen to some audio theater.
|| Palmer, 9:53 PM || link || (0) comments |

A group of researchers in Intelligent Designland are trying to formulate a birth control pill for men.

Four decades after the birth control pill became available to women, researchers at the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Medical Center are working to develop a similar contraceptive for men.

The researchers plan to test about a half-million chemical compounds to find a pill that does not involve hormones that men could take weekly or monthly. They also hope to find something that is close to 100 percent effective and has no risky side effects.

As Martha would say, this is a good thing. By the time it is on the market, I'll be able to add it to my cocktail of Viagra, that other pill that delays ejaculation, and my hippie herbal libido enhancer.

In other genderey news, there's new a feminist blog called Women's Autonomy-Sexual Sovreignty. Looking at the welcome page, I am told that the bloggers find the following to be a self-evident truth:

53% of the world's population is Female. The Human Race is therefore Female.

This ranks right up there with the Pink Floyd-is-bad-ergo-Planned Parenthood-is-bad argument I saw last week. Where's the cutoff? Will 50.0000001% of the population being female also make the human race female for these women? I was unaware that the human race had a gender so now I feel stupid. Must be that patriarchy instilling me with the awful notion that human beings have genders, not the whole of humanity.

I also found this a bit disturbing:

No Uterus * No Opinion

Here's how I reply to anyone who says that I am not allowed to have an opinion: Fuck you. I will have an opinion on whatever I damn well please. To be sure, I am obligated to make it as well-informed as possible but to tell me that I have no right to even have an opinion is ridiculous.

After some mathematics intended to marginalize white men, the author states:

So that would leave 16.64% vs. 85.17% if women, gays, blacks, Asians, and "others" would stop voting against our own interests. I'm just sayin'...

Do women, gays, blacks, Asians, and "others" all have the same interests? The author has already established the human race is female and now she asks us to believe that the interests of, say black men, are congruent with those of white women. I don't doubt that there is overlap but how should these groups mediate their differences? Or does she really believe that these disparate groups have the exact same interests? If we're to labor under "No Uterus * No Opinion", then why not the corollary, "No Penis * No Opinion"? Where does the author get off elevating herself to the status of omniscience where she can, in her penisless state, claim authority on what it is like to be a non-white man. Either the author is promoting misandry, which will not abide, or, in the interest of fairness, we must conclude that she cannot have an opinion because of her lack of a penis. How far should we be willing to go in excluding people? "No Melanin * No Opinion"? "No Epicanthic Fold * No Opinion"?

Just sayin'...
|| Palmer, 11:31 AM || link || (2) comments |
Wednesday Word

devil theory
(dev'-ull-thee'(er)-ree) n. a theory of history which proposes that political and social crises arise from the deliberate actions of evil or misguided leaders rather than as a natural result of conditions.
|| Palmer, 8:18 AM || link || (0) comments |
The Help Desk, the Help Desk, the Help Desk is on Fire!

We don't need no water let the motherfucker burn!

You've gotta love coming into work and getting an email like this one first thing:

Priority One Initiated Building for the wisconsin helpdesk started on fire. Fire Department on site

Extent of the damage unknown at this time. Everyone has evacuated safely. Agencies covered by the Wisconsin helpdesk are DOA, DHFS, DNR and DATCP. Phones have been transferred from the Wisconsin helpdesk back to DET for helpdesk coverage (DOA, DHFS, DNR and DATCP).
|| Palmer, 8:14 AM || link || (0) comments |

21 June, 2005

Woo Hoo!

I just found out that Steve Hackett will be playing in Milwaukee this fall! Hackett was guitarist in Genesis from 1970-1977 and was responsible for the acoustic shades of "Lovers Leap", the rockin' bits of "The Musical Box", and much of the weird stuff on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. I've seen Genesis, Phil Collins solo, and Peter Gabriel solo so now I'll be able to round out my Genesis and related concert going experiences. He'll be at Shank Hall on October 18th and it'll be an all-acoustic show. For a sampling of his acoustic side, check out "Horizons".
|| Palmer, 1:45 PM || link || (0) comments |
Happy Midsummer!

Today is Midsummer's Day, a.k.a. - the summer solstice. While it's the beginning of summer, it's also means that the sun will be on the wane soon. Less and less daylight until Yule. It is His most potent day of the year and, curiously enough, I was quite awake by the time the sun began to rise. I'd better get my canning and drying hat ready because it's now halfway to harvest time. Next stop: Lughnasadh.
|| Palmer, 1:12 PM || link || (0) comments |
Piecing Together The Waste Land

I found this via another Madison blog, Shopiere:

A professor from across The Pond has done his best Robert Langdon imitation and pieced together the story of how T.S. Eliot wrote The Waste Land.
|| Palmer, 12:19 PM || link || (0) comments |
"You were nearly eaten by a tree!"

There's now a trailer online for Terry Gilliam's latest, The Brothers Grimm. I think it'll be a lot fun. The opening of the trailer features a spooky rendition of Little Red Riding Hood. Unfortunately, the release date has been pushed back to August 26th. Still, it looks to be the first Matt Damon flick I'll enjoy since Dogma.

|| Palmer, 9:33 AM || link || (0) comments |
Women's Brains Stop

Some inquiring scientists in Denmark have shown that a part of the brain turns off when women have an orgasm.

New research indicates parts of the brain that govern fear and anxiety are switched off when a woman is having an orgasm but remain active if she is faking.


When women faked orgasm, the cortex, the part of the brain governing conscious action, lit up. It was not activated during a genuine orgasm.

We men were not able to be poked, prodded and measured so well:

Holstege said he had trouble getting reliable results from the study on men because the scanner needs activities lasting at least two minutes and the men's climaxes didn't last that long. However, the scans did show activation of reward centers in the brain for men, but not for women.

I'm surprised no one has commented elsewhere that men's brains are always turned off or some such thing. Now, whether or not women's orgasms are an evolutionary advantage or happy accident is interesting but what I wanna know is why men's orgasms are so short but women's last long enough for their brains to be scanned. We definitely need better scanners and more tantric advice for men on prolonging them.
|| Palmer, 8:20 AM || link || (0) comments |
"Not reportable, are you kidding me?"

I found a couple good hoolies on the US press' moribund performance on reporting about the Downing Street Memos. It quotes Sunday Times reporter Michael Smith on the lack of US press coverage:

"It is one thing for the New York Times or The Washington Post to say that we were being told that the intelligence was being fixed by sources inside the CIA or Pentagon or the NSC and quite another to have documentary confirmation in the form of the minutes of a key meeting with the Prime Minister's office. Think of it this way, all the key players were there. This was the equivalent of an NSC [National Security Council] meeting, with the President, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, George Tenet, and Tommy Franks all there. They say the evidence against Saddam Hussein is thin, the Brits think regime change is illegal under international law so we are going to have to go to the U.N. to get an ultimatum, not as a way of averting war but as an excuse to make the war legal, and oh by the way we aren't preparing for what happens after and no-one has the faintest idea what Iraq will be like after a war. Not reportable, are you kidding me?"

It's not that I look to the mainstream press here for hard news, but it's still fun to rake on it. I'm not sure who is to blame for the sorry state of our media. To be sure, the media themselves have much of the blame at their doorstep. No doubt profit motive is part of it as well as the oft-mentioned desire not to lose inside access to government. I find the latter to be funny because it's not like the access of CNN reporters is proving to be fruitful. What are they afraid of losing? All they do nowadays is relay press releases to the public. You don't need any sort of special access or privileges to repeat talking point memos or press releases.

Regarding the former, perhaps it is only a proximate cause. Maybe it is we the public who are the ultimate cause. After all, we consume their crap with little protest. There is no law saying that you cannot indulge yourself with the minutae of the Michael Jackson trial and ignore what's happening in Iraq or the workings of our government. If we want fluff on our news, then that's what we'll get. If we get fluff on our news, say nothing, and keep watching/reading, then it will stay that way.

Hey! Bill Moyers is now being interviewed on The Al Franken Show on the Sundance Channel. I have to admit that I've really changed the way I get my news lately. In the morning I watch The Al Franken Show on Sundance. When I get home from work, I'll listen to a podcast of Democracy Now!. In between, I'll check out some blogs and news aggregators as well as some local news outlets such as the webpages of Madison TV stations and newspapers. There are days when I can just spend hours and hours surfing the Net reading news and it can become information overload. Ergo I've tried to find a core set of sources for news and opinion and stick to them. Oh, and on Friday nights I try to catch (or TiVO) NOW on PBS, even though Bill Moyers isn't there any longer. It's one of the only place on television to find useful news on the middle and working classes. It's one of the only places on TV where you can see an interview with a philosopher and a political scientist. It's not that rich people, politicians, and the leaders of our government and industries don't have important things to say. They do and we should hear them, but it gets old hearing from them and only them. "Alternative" media not only gives voice to non-elites but women and non-whites.

While I could probably blather on, I must get ready for work.
|| Palmer, 6:42 AM || link || (0) comments |
The Antelucan Hours

It's 4AM and I'm up drinking coffee. I've been up since around 2. All attempts to fall back to sleep have failed. And so I'm drinking some crappy coffee and watching some TV. First there was Bill Moyers was interviewed by Lou Dobbs on CNN and now it's Keeptime: A Live Recording. It features a jam session between a few of LA's legendary funk/soul/jazz drummers playing with a clutch of DJs. It's pretty neat to see and hear the old timers on their trap kits while all the young punks stand in a row in front of their turntables doing their collective thang.

I offloaded my pictures and videos from this weekend onto my PC. The videos turned out pretty well. I got a 1 minutes clip of them doing "You're Gone" and 3 clips of "Answering Machine". Unfortunately, most of the pictures turned out for shite but I've salvaged a few and there are a few more than can be Photoshopped.

Here's Los Trios Marillos!

This is Steve Rothery on the bass.

And here's me with H and Steve. (Pete is busy signing Ron's 50 album covers.)

Now that I've had some sleep, more memories are coming back to me. For instance, during the little gig at the record store, H started The Scottish Story but stopped after only a couple sentences, promising to tell the whole thing at the concert that night. And he did. While it was only moderately humorous, H's Scottish accent and the bug-eyed look he had when he spoke with it were classic. At one point during the story, Steve started playing "Loch Lomond" which was cool because A) it's Scottish and B) Marillion used it as the basis for a song in tribute to their tour bus, affectionately named Margaret. The story concerned an English yuppie who moves to Scotland to escape the hussle and bustle of London. His Highland neighbor comes over to invite him to a party which involves sex, drugs, and fighting. It was humorous to me even though I knew just the usual Scottish stereotypes.

Next up on the Sundance Channel is a documentary about some scientists investigating LSD. After that is the Al Franken Show. I also see that June is Gay Pride Month or something like that so they're showing lots of relevant documentaries. I've seen the doc about Harvey Milk already but these others that they're pushing look interesting.

Well, the sun is rising and Stevie should be up soon. It'll be weird to see him as I haven't since Saturday morning.

Ooh! This doc on LSD features nudity!
|| Palmer, 4:33 AM || link || (0) comments |
H2G2 - Terminal Phase

Today marks the end of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series. The terminal episode of the Quintessential Phase airs today. Head over to the Radio 4 Hitchhiker's page to listen. After this airs, we fans will be left with the prospect of the film version of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
|| Palmer, 2:32 AM || link || (0) comments |
On the Gramophone

Robert Fripp of King Crimson once said something about the malleability of rock music. I'm too lazy to actually find the quote right now but what he said was that it was the most malleable music around because you could take whatever instrument you wanted, take whatever genre of music you wanted and twist it all around and you'd still have something called rock music. If you've ever wondered what Motorhead would sound like if done by a group of Tuvans who specialize in the hoomi style of singing, well, here's your chance.

Here's Yat-ka doing Motorhead's "Orgasmatron".
|| Palmer, 2:29 AM || link || (0) comments |

20 June, 2005

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Will Carry On

Despite the brutal murder of Dutch director Theo van Gogh, his co-writer and Dutch politician will make part 2. Last fall, van Gogh was murdered most heinously allegedly by a piece of shit named Mohammed Bouyeri because van Gogh's film, Submission was critical of Islam. Ali is an apostate so Muslims around the world believe that she should be killed for having renounced and denounced the Muslim faith.

Ah, yes. Islam is such a peaceful religion.
|| Palmer, 1:00 PM || link || (0) comments |
Prost Gotvins Geometri – Part 3

This is Prost Gotvins geometri by Gert Nygårdshaug. The translation was done by Roy Johansen. Nygårdshaug is a Norwegian author and the text has not yet been published in English. Roy is a friend of mine who recently moved back to his native Norway. He has translated a good part of the novel and I'm trying to convince him to finish it.

Here’s Part 2.

Father Gotvin's First Journey (continued)

These seconds, minutes when my courage when facing an extremely beautiful woman, a stranger, knew no limits, were a mystery to me. But far greater mysteries were to come. I naturally had no idea at the time. The only thing on my mind as the train reached the station was whether she would get off the train here. To my relief she remained sitting even when the train came to a halt. She remained focused on her book and its secret text that was flowing into her mind. What was it she was reading? Much to my astonishment I noticed that she had put a hand on her thigh, right above her knee, but she did not let it rest there. It pressed her dress against her skin and slowly, exceedingly slowly, moved upwards, pulling her dress along as it moved, to reveal more and more of her thigh. I could not help looking. It felt as if my body were levitating weightlessly from the clammy seat. It rose and became one with the Psalms of David, now I could not, must not look any longer! I squeezed my eyes shut and whispered internally: Sin, this is Sin, which clothed our Redeemer’s head with thorns and pierced His heart, which put Him through suffering, sorrow, pain, and aguish!

Her breath.
Her lisp, the invisible droplets.

And incessantly, lavender. I knew I would never forget this smell. In all the world’s herb gardens the smell of lavender would overshadow all other scents.

”Es un tren directo para Santiago?” A stranger’s voice rumbled into the compartment and an older gentleman with a gray moustache and a briefcase sat down next to her.

She answered without looking up, but her hand pulled her dress back down. I tried to find something interesting to watch in the bustling activity on the platform during the few minuets the train was at rest. A woman selling whole-roasted, smoked piglets waved towards my window. I shook my head. Wasn’t I hungry? At least eight hours since I last ate. What would happen if I had a piglet brought in through the window? And put it on her book? Grease spots, I thought. Why would such a thing occur to me? Why indeed did such insane things occur to me now? My life had by no means been characterized by spontaneous and absurd impulses. On the contrary, rather. The train set in motion again and the older mustached gentleman immediately fell asleep. Where was I to look now? Outside, Gotvin Soleng, outside – you must look outside! Follow the unfamiliar scenery. Soon you will be at your journey’s end. The cathedral. The miracle.

”Minister?” She glanced from her book again. “From Norway?”

This information seemed to have sunk in just now although a half hour must have passed since the words were first uttered.

”Si, señora,” I answered softly.

”Señorita,” she corrected.

She said no more, she just sat there gazing into thin air. A smile was still pulling the corners of her mouth – what did this smile hold? Was this the way she truly was? The everyday her? To all strangers she happened to meet? Probably. I was not likely to be an exception. Why should I?

Then she asked if I had a pen she could use.

I produced a pen from my breast pocket and handed it to her.

Then she leafed through her book to the last, blank page and started drawing. She drew quickly and precisely. What could it be? Circles and lines; it looked like geometric figures, complicated patterns. The terrain outside the compartment window glided past but I paid no attention to the changing scenery. I tried to follow the lines, her movements, her slender fingers – no rings, discreet nail polish. She was drawing meticulously and determinedly while lifting her eyes from time to time to look at me, making sure I was paying attention to her. This interaction, I felt certain must lead to something or other.

She was done.

She nodded, apparently satisfied.

Then she carefully tore the page from the book and handed it to me. I took it and thanked her. But for what? I naturally did not know at the time that I should not only have thanked her; I ought to have sunk to my knees and kissed the floor beneath her shoes. The drawing I held in my hand, of which I understood absolutely nothing, despite having examined it closely, was destined to, over the following days and months, precipitate a revolution in my soul. I remained sitting with the piece of paper in my hand until the train, quite unexpectedly, stopped at a tiny, nameless spot outside Santiago. Then, hastily, the girl got up.

”If you decipher this drawing, you shall learn what truly is concealed in Heaven,” she said.

Then she smiled an impish goodbye and stepped off the train. The platform was on the opposite side of the compartment so I didn’t have a chance to wave before the train forged ahead.

I was still sitting with the curious drawing in my hand as the train pulled into the station in Santiago de Compostela.
|| Palmer, 12:38 PM || link || (0) comments |
Two More Years of Doctor Who

Although the first series of the new Doctor Who ended on Saturday, there will be at least another two seasons. The bad news is that we've gotta wait until March for the second series to start. I'm now 3 episodes behind so I've got a little viewing to do over the next 9 months.
|| Palmer, 12:10 PM || link || (0) comments |
Coming Down Is the Hardest Part

I hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine was quite a bit of fun in addition to being...moving. At the moment, I'm really tired as I didn't get home until around 2 this morning. My ass is going to be dragging all day. I got a bit of a late start Saturday morning and didn't get to Chicago until around 2. My mom was awaiting my arrival on her front porch while doing some reading. Since I had gone to the Farmer's Market that morning, I had a cornucopia of delectibles for her: some white aparagus, some garlic/green onion cheese, a four pack of Sprecher's version of her favorite soft drink - cream soda, and a couple other things that I cannot recall. We went up to her apartment to put away the goodies and I noticed that she was reading Digital Fortress. I presumed that she had read The Da Vinci Code and had become hooked on Dan Brown. We immediately set off to grab some lunch as both of us were famished. We ended up at the Swedish restaurant, Tre Kronor, where The Dulcinea and I had brunch last month. My mum had a tasty red peppa quiche while I had me a fine Norwegian meatball sandwich. It was a wonderful day out. Sunny yet not extremely hot. After lunch we decided to go to Andersonville and the Swedish Bakery. So we hopped on a bus.

My mother loves the sWedish Bakery but I had never been there before. Walking in, we found that the place was jam-packed. There was barely any room to manoeuvre. The display cases were filled with all manner of treats - pies, cakes, tortes, tarts, cookies, and candies. We wandered around a bit drooling on the glass before I grabbed a ticket. Surveying the room, it became obvious why I need to move there: frauleins. As I said, the place was packed and it was packed mostly with an array of beautiful young women and a bounty of MILFs. There were a few blondes but there were even more non-white women there. Towards one corner there were a few Hispanic women. Across the room was a gaggle of Middle Eastern looking women. Dispersed in the middle were some Caucasian fraulein who were brunettes and a couple black women that were just gorgeous. I was torn. Do I ogle T&A or food? So I did both. At one point, a MILF was standing in front of me and she wore these nearly transparent white pants. So, after staring at donuts for a bit, I'd look at her ass. Her black panties were patently obvious.

After a while, my number was called and I proceeded to buy 2 lbs. of cookies. Of the 4 varities, I can only remember that one is called "Swedish Blonde". The rest have Swedish names and I can't remember any of them. Miraculously, I refrained from eating any of them until this morning, as I brought them in to work to share with my fellow riff-raff. They're all butter cookies of one sort. One of them is the Swedish take on the gingerbread/spice cookie. One is a plain butter cookie. Another has almonds and the final variety has the jelly filling and has half of the cookie dipped in chocolate. These are the Swedish Blondes. After ogling food and women, my mom and I wandered around Clark Street for a while before hopping back onto the bus. My mom mentioned that it didn't look like I had gotten a haircut. You see, I'd told her earlier in the week that I was going to get one Saturday morning before heading down there. I ended up being too lazy, however. So she told me about the new beauty salon to which she takes my grandmother. It's near my old neighborhood, apparently - somewhere by Milwaukee & Pulaski. She proceeded to tell me that it was owned by an older Polish woman but that all the stylists were young Polish women and suggested that I get my hair cut there sometime. It didn't sound like a bad idea to me. We got back to her car and went back to her place. From there I went to my brother's apartment. We just chilled. Andrew got home around 7:30 and he joined the bullshit session. He has a new job managing a beauty salon. Well, they do nails, waxing, and massage but not hairstyling. Seems an odd job for a guy but, hey, it pays the bills. The business belongs to his friend Tong who bought it for his wife. So Andy gave me the lowdown on being the lone man working in a salon. He said that one of the manicurists had a crush on him but she is a Jehovah's Witness so "fuck that". And I guess that when you get your hands and feet done at the same time, it's called a mani-pedi. A couple of Carl & Andy's friends stopped by - Jim and Tracy. While I don't know either of them well, they were definitely familiar faces. Andy proceeded to brew some of the coffee I brought for him. Rwandan blend from VSP or ESP or whatever that roaster here in Madison is called. The aroma of the beans just stank of chocolate. Fuck, was it good! We all sat around and made fun of the really, really bad movie that was on the Sci-Fi Channel. It was about this creature which was half-man and half-shark going around killing people. With the five of us, it was like Mystery Science Theater 3000 in overdrive and just hilarious. Then we started arguing about the Gulf War. This lasted for over an hour until midnight or thereabouts. It was quite humorous and pretty intense. I loved the little sidetracks too. Tracy said something about the Department of War which caused an uproar about who was Secretary during World War II. This, of course, necessitated the use of the Internet. Carl found the answer - Henry Stinson - but also found other pages about the Department during the Lincoln administration and it just got crazy. But in a good way. Tracy left around midnight and I think I finally hit the rack about 1 or 2. My brother works third shift so calling it an early night for him means going to be around 4.

I got up at 8 something or other, I think. Andrew was stirring as he was going to meet his mom for brunch before heading to work. I had me a brunch date with my mom, aunt, and grandmother. On Saturday, my mom told me that my grandmother was on Zoloft. It's an anti-depressant. Apparently she got very blue after her last round of heart problems. She basically refused to leave her chair. Luckily, the Zoloft is working and, when I met them, my grandmother - who is 2 months shy of 90 - was looking well, in good spirits, and basically showed no tell-tale signs of anything wrong. Just the normal signs of being 89. I try to take comfort in the fact that, despite being almost 90, she basically suffers from the usual stuff that happens to us when we grow old. She moves slowly, her hearing is bad - that kind of stuff. But she has full control of her mind. There's no dementia or Alzheimer's or anything like that. Her memory is still great. Both long and short-term. She remembers where she laid down her purse 5 minutes ago as well as what it was like growing up on a farm in Southern Illinois during the 1920s. She has aged very well indeed. And she doesn't look anywhere near 90. Hopefully I got me some of those genes. I mean, if I'm going to get the bad ticker from her, I should at least get the aging well genes in trade, right?

So I meet my mom, aunt, and grandma at the latter's senior citizen aparment complex on the far north side. (It's really a neat place. It used to be a TB sanitarium but was rennovated. Situated in a wooded area, there's lots of tree and space to roam - it's just beautiful. Plus they have a nature conservatory and whatnot so there's solstice celebrations, maple syrup making, ponds and just lots of green space. Plus it's adjacent to Peterson(?) Park.) Since they had just gotten out of church, we went up to my grandmother's apartment so they could freshen up a bit before leaving. We sat around and chatted. My grandma looked especially pleased to see me. With a big smile on her face, she asked how life was up north. Looking at her made me realize what an atricous grandson I am. While there are certainly others out there who are more distant from there family that I, I am still not particularly close to mine. And I felt bad about this sitting on my grandmother's couch looking at her smile. I love her, to be sure, but am just not close.

We headed over to a restaurant called the Sauganash over by Cicero & Peterson. Breakfast was tasty and the conversation lively On the way out, my aunt tripped over a rug and fell to the floor. Being a touch Polish woman, she was fine as I helped her back to her feet. But it was just strange seeing her fall - it was like in slow motion. She's taken tumbles before. She had a brain tumor removed a few years back and, although she's the same Auntie M as far as her personality goes, her balance just ain't that good. As I said, she was fine but it struck me. Well, something did. I'm struggling to stay awake right now so I'm struggling to figure it all out. But it just has to do with the recognition that everyone around me is getting older. I suppose it was just a graphic example of how things have changed. Having grown up in Chicago, there are lots of memories tied to various places there. And not seeing my family very often means that the time I do spend with them is...is...special. The time just stands out in sharp relief from the routine of the rest of my life. After brunch, we went to hang out next to a pond at the my grandmother's apartment complex. There was a small waterfall and it was just lovely. My grandmother held my arm and we walked up to the edge of the water and watched the goldfish and koi spending a lazy Sunday afternoon. We found a large rock which doubled as a bench and we all sat there chatting and gossiping. Just spending some time together. It was extremely relaxing. At about 12:30, we headed back. My grandmother went home and my aunt jumped into her car to make the drive back to Arlington Heights. My mom was to drive me back to her place so I could grab my car and head to my next destination. She then asked if I'd mind if she tagged along. Of course I didn't.

My next destination was the Tower Records on Clark Street where Marillion would be doing an in-store performance and signing autographs. I realize that most of you have no idea who Marillion are or, if you do, that you probably think they're crap. I'm used to it now. I first got into them sometime in 1987. I had some friends in Chicago that liked them but, after moving to Wisconsin in 1987, found no one that had heard of them or could stand them when I played them some of Marillion's music. So, nearly 18 years later, I'm used to people having no idea who they are or thinking they're shite. But for me, well, I think they're awesome. Their music made up a large chunk of my listening repertoire through high school. They contributed greatly to the soundtrack of my life during the time when I had moved from Chicago to the boonies of Wisconsin. The time when my parents' marriage was riven in twain and when my family was basically splintered. Marillion are like an old friend - I grew up with them. And while the version I'd see was pared down (sans drummer Ian Mosely and keyboardist Mark Kelly) and Onkel Fish left the band in 1988, it was still like a dream come true. (Their first album without Fish, Seasons End came out when I was still in high school.)

I have absolutely no sympathy for people who bitch about parking here in Madison. Compared to Chicago, it's a fucking cakewalk. I drove around for a while before finally finding a spot on Lincoln somewhere. We got out of the car and started walking - in the wrong direction. I should have known better when a guy wearing a Marillion t-shirt walked by us going in the opposite direction. We corrected our course and eventually made it to the store. There was a fair number of people there with most of them wearing progressive rock t-shirts and, in general, looking like nerds. My kinda people!! I had completely forgotten to bring anything for them to sign with me so I bought their new DVD and snagged a couple promo postcard hoolies from the checkout counter. Even more people wandered in and I recognized one guy from the Porcupine Tree show last month in Milwaukee. There was also a surprisingly large number of women there. When the boys finally came out, I felt really weird. There they were. They were some of the guys that provided the bulk of the music of my teenage years. It was weird but in a good way. I'd played air guitar to Steve Rothery solos countless times but now I'd finally get a chance to see him in person. They did a short set of only 3 or 4 songs and they played none of the classics from the 80s that my teenage incarnation grooved to but it was still great. "You're Gone" sounded great all stripped down and "Answering Machine" is a great tune and had a lot of energy live. I managed to get some pictures as well as a few brief video clips. After the performance, the boys took seats and a long line formed snaking around the outer wall of the store. My mom left at this point. We hugged goodbye and I followed her out looking to bum a root from someone. Out on the balcony, I met a few fellow fans and found a woman who had a ration of squares. All us smokers ended up chatting. Ron was from Detroit and he had brought a few dozen records for the band to sign. The couple there had flown in from Los Angeles to see the band. Once I was back in the store, I met a couple people from Michigan and guy from Minneapolis. The boys in the band were stateside on a small tour to promote their new DVD, Marbles on the Road. They would stop in about 6 or 7 cities doing the in-store thing followed by an acoustic show at a venue. With the limited tour dates, the hard-core fans came out of the woodwork and drove and flew to their nearest stop.

I eneded up in line just ahead of Ron, the guy from Detroit whom I'd met out on the balcony. We would end up hanging out during the afternoon before the show. While in line, we chatted. He was orignally from Minnesota but moved to Detroit after getting out of the Navy and meeting a She-Freak (that's a female Marillion fan) from there. They were now married and had twins 7 months ago. When the long wait was over, I finally got to meet some of my heroes. Pete Trawavas was really friendly. I shook his hand and he asked what the chemical formula on my t-shirt was. (It was for capsaicin.) I got my things signed and had my picture taken with the band. All 3 of them were really friendly. They were laughing and acting goofy and just having a good time.

I offered Ron a ride over to his car which he had parked in front of the Double Door, where the boys were playing. I ended up parking a few blocks away. During our short walk, we were propositioned by 2 hookers. We got to his car where he dropped off his records and we headed to a bar. First stop was a Mexian place. It didn't have AC so we went across the street to Pint which was a really nice place. Our server was this absolute beauty who was from Dublin who come over to the states for the summer. It proved to be a trend because the bar manager was a guy from England. We had some dinner and a couple beers. We moved out to the sidewalk where they had tables and chairs setup and we found a couple other groups of Marillion fans out there. We drank some more before getting our stuff together and heading to the Double Door. (Concert sequences from the movie High Fidelity were shot there.) We arrived and found it pretty packed. But we weaseled our way towards the stage and found spots to stand. Being 6'2", I didn't have much of a problem but Ron was about 5'4" so he had a bit of a harder time.

Jason Hart, a guy in his 20s, was the opener. It was just him on piano. His songs were OK. The sections with vocals seemed overly melodramatic but the lengthy instrumental bits were really quite good. He wore this shirt thingy with droopy sleeves that looked like a Rick Wakeman outfit. Indeed, he said that he was going for the Wakeman look. He played 3 originals and then introduced his last song. He said that he was a big Marillion fan and that, since this was the last night he'd be opening for the Marillos, he was going to do something special. Then out walked Pete Trawavas and Steve Rothery. And then there were those piano notes. They were playing "Lavender"! The whole crowd sang along at the top of their lungs and it was just fantastic! "Lavender" is one of those songs from my teenage years and has one of the best guitar solos ever. Ever. It's just so tender and melodic...A great way to end the opening set.

After a brief wait, H came out and did 3 tunes with just him on piano before Pete came out and added bass to "Bell In the Sea". It was just freakin' cool! Then Steve came out and it was Los Trios Marillos!

They were really loose. The joked around and laughed at themselves and each other when they played a bum note. They did "Answering Machine" and H said that Chicago had the best clappers afterwards. Between songs, someone started yelling for "Cannibal Surf Babe" and H asked how the hell they were supposed to do it acoustic. But it was too late. Steve and Pete started playing it so there was no turning back. I sang along with it and it turned out to be a highlight of the night. It brought back a lot of memories from 1995.

Across the room I noticed a hot brunette dancing and singing and just really getting into the show. It was weird to be there, to be amongst other fans. For years and years, I've gotten crap about being into Marillion and there I found myself with 400 or so other fans. A woman behind me yelled for "Easter" and, when she got her wish, she pushed her way closer to the stage. She found a spot and sang and danced to it. Progressive rock has this reputation for having fans who are a bunch of scruffy, dorky white guys like me but the crowd was fairly diverse. Yeah, there was definitely a lot of us dorks in the audience but there was also a large number of women in attendance. And they all seemed to be more familiar with the stuff from the band's last album, Marbles, than I was.

Another highlight of the night was "Runaway" from Brave. Brave is a concept album but, curiously enough, the story is told from the point of view of a girl. I don't know why the song struck me as it did but it was just great. In the middle of the set they did "Sugar Mice". It was the only Fish-era song they did and it was a doozie. If you're unfamiliar with Marillion's music, the closest analogy I can think of for "Sugar Mice" is Pink Floyd's "Mother". That somber deal with the aching guitar solo. The song came out in 1987 and was a regular listen in high school. Lots of memories of that time came flooding back. And, it having been Father's Day, most of those memories were about him and the breakup of our family. And so that song brought tears to my eyes - it was just extremely moving.

After the show, I hit the road and drove home. I arrived around 2 fully intending to call in sick today but I'm here. At work. Tired as fuck. I didn't go to bed right away last night. Since I was going to sleep in, I got the last Doctor Who episode of the season downloading and poked around email and some blogs. I made the mistake of reading some of what The Dulcinea has written since our parting of the ways a week and a half ago. Big mistake.

OK, I really need to get some more coffee...
|| Palmer, 11:48 AM || link || (0) comments |

17 June, 2005

Marijuana Use? In Madison?

Intrepid government researchers have been studying our marijuana use and the results come in a handy, colorful map. I love how most of Wisconsin is on the low end with a portion in the middle and then you've got Madison and the southwestern part of the state red-lining. And fuck! There's a buncha goddamn stoners in Alaska!
|| Palmer, 4:46 PM || link || (0) comments |
Let the Co-Eds Decide For Themselves

The Wisconsin State Assembly has passed a ban on the morning-after pill at UW schools. Why? Why must they impede the female students' ability to take care of their health needs in the most efficient manner? You never see any of these "culture-of-life" assholes refusing to pay taxes ala Henry David Thoreau or in anyway protesting because their tax money is going for this:

But the minute a good All-American zygote or blastocyst is in peril - holy fuck! The fecal matter really hits the fan. Those Senators who didn't want to go along with the apology for the absence of anti-lynching laws - they got a chance to sponsor it retroactively! They could hate niggers all they wanted but were still given the chance to save face and fool people with half-truths about them having sponsored the hoolie. And now these culture-of-lifers are given the same chance. Look, your *Golem voice* precious Dubya */Golem voice* was wrong about WMDs. Wrong about Iraq's ties to Al Queda. We were lied to and now you have the chance here to be against a war. A fucking war! And do they speak out against it? No. How much more culture-of-lifey can you get than denouncing a war?! And it's not just little Iraqi boys who are dying because their heads have been blown open. It's our people too.

Look! It's good old American men & women getting killed! War is an equal opportunity killer. It doesn't give a fuck if you're a Jew or a Christian or a Muslim; a man or a woman or a hermaphrodite or a transsexual; straight or gay or bi or asexual; young or old. Unlike culture-of-lifers, war doesn't discriminate. Isn't it obvious that Bush has lied about his motives for going to war? How much more clear a picture do you people need of our president sitting at the excuses smorgasbord with Dick Cheney standing next to him with his chef's hat on holding another hotel pan full of bullshit? (For any non-Midwesterners, smorgasbord = buffet.) I don't know what's worse: a person who says that an ancient Middle Eastern fairy tale deity talks to him and tells him to wage war or the millions of people who eat that shit up like breakfast cereal.

This whole rigamarole about banning morning after pills at the UW is just another rung up the ladder for outlawing birth control and abortion completely. The government should keep its paws out of it. Not only are these issues about autonomy, they're also about best practice. Who knows more about planning for your family - Joey Pro-Life Politician or you? Who knows more about pregnancy, child-birth, etc. - men or women? Women. Sure, a nullipara is just as ignorant as a guy who has never been a father before about such matters but the nanosecond she finds out she's pregnant, her knowledge quotient in such matters skyrockets through the roof, unlike his. I don't ask my mechanic to fix my computer and he doesn't ask me to fix his car. Let those with the knowledge decide how to best accomplish something. Being pregnant doesn't make you a good politician and being a politician sure as shit doesn't give you any insight into the planning of anyone's family except your own.
|| Palmer, 3:30 PM || link || (0) comments |
Religious Followers - Ugly, Violent Moral Retards?

Whether or not religious followers are ugly, violent moral retards is a question for another post. But whether a professor should be denied a post for including such words in a manifesto directed at a small audience is.

Professor Timothy Shortell withdrew his name for consideration after a flap these comments and his atheism. Katha Pollitt had some choice words in her column about the stink over at The Nation:

Besides, so what if Shortell's essay is offensive? Brooklyn College is a public, secular institution, not a Bible college. The Sun claimed Shortell's disdain for religion would cloud his judgment of job candidates, but there was never any evidence that this would be the case. No student ever complained about his teaching; his colleagues trusted him enough to elect him to the post; the student work posted on his website is apolitical and bland. Predictions of bias, absent any evidence, are just a backhanded way of attacking his beliefs. You might as well say no Southern Baptist should be chair, since someone who believes that women should be subject to their husbands, homosexuality is evil and Jews are doomed to hell won't be fair to female, gay or Jewish job candidates. Or no Orthodox Jew or Muslim should be chair because religious restrictions on contact with the opposite sex would privilege some job candidates over others.


The Tim Shortell case is not a blip, even at CUNY. Around the same time it went after Shortell, the Sun ran a front-page story accusing Priya Parmar, a young untenured professor in Brooklyn College's School of Education, of attacking standard English as "the language of oppressors," based on a reading assignment and complaints from two students accused of plagiarism. Under the guise of depoliticizing academia, David Horowitz is pushing the "Academic Bill of Rights," which would empower state legislatures to mandate "balance" in the classroom. His website invites students to report their teachers for such sins as "introduced controversial material," "mocked political/religious figures" and the ever-popular "biased grading." (What was the point of complaining, one student wrote sadly: "He has ten-year.")

It's difficult to tell whether people object purely on the grounds that he is an atheist or whether they object to the the statements in the "manifesto". While, as Pollitt pointed out, this is irrelevant, I'm just curious. Do they hate the atheism but love the atheist?
|| Palmer, 1:35 PM || link || (0) comments |
Irony At Its Best

A couple PETA employees have been arrested for animal cruelty. While not all of the details are clear yet, this part is the most disturbing:

But veterinarian Patrick Proctor said that authorities found a female cat and her two "very adoptable" kittens among the dead animals. He said they were taken from Ahoskie Animal Hospital.

"These were just kittens we were trying to find homes for," he said. "PETA said they would do that, but these cats never made it out of the county."

Personally, I like Penn & Teller's take on PETA.
|| Palmer, 12:39 PM || link || (1) comments |
Are You Gonna Let Michael Stipe Brainwash Your Kids?

I found this over at Marginal Utility. It's a snippet of REM on Sesame Street doing "Furry Happy Monster". Now if REM could only find a way to sneak "Disturbance at the Heron House" on there.
|| Palmer, 12:34 PM || link || (0) comments |
More State Employee Banter

Yesterday I posted excerpts from an email exchange by State of Wisconsin employees regarding their feelings on how Governor James Doyle is treating them. A couple more have trickled in today:

Phillip **** 06/16/05 09:51PM
You all voted for this democratic crook! Are you surprised at what he is doing? I hope not! You get what you vote for.

Victoria **** 06/16/05 09:04PM
Those of us who disagree with Doyle should email him back personally. There are enough of us to innundate his office with personal accounts of what its like to be a "recognized" state employee. We are so well "recognized" that he refuses to allow arbitration on many of our contracts.

The people who don't want any of these email replies are probably the people who don't earn less than comparable salaries.They probably don't face mandatory overtime. However, they have probably received cost of living wage increases in the past four years, if not raises.
They may even be people who work in positions that exist as a result of the work that the rest of us do.

What is she trying to say about us contractors?!
|| Palmer, 12:30 PM || link || (0) comments |
Gender Brain Drain

Hopefully certain feminists won't read this because researchers are finding that men's and women's brains are (gasp!) different. The article describes the activities of psychologist Sandra Witelson, who likes to look at brains under the microscope, including that of Albert Einstein.

She began by studying the corpus callosum, the cable of nerves that channels all communication and cooperation between the brain's two hemispheres.

Examining tissue samples through a microscope, she discovered that the more left-handed a person was, the bigger the corpus callosum.

To her surprise, however, she found that this held true only for men. Among women there was no difference between right-handers and left-handers.

"Once you find this one difference," she remembered thinking, "it implies that there will be a cascade of differences."

As she systematically analyzed the brains in her refrigerator, she discovered that other neural structures seemed larger or smaller among men, depending on whether the man had been right-handed or left-handed.

They were relatively the same size in women. "The relationships that we were finding were always — and I do mean always — different for men and women," she said.

She narrowed her study to right-handed men and women, still looking for differences in microscopic anatomy between the left side of the brain and the right side. She meticulously counted the neurons in sets of tissue in which each sample measured 280 microns wide — about twice the thickness of a human hair — and 3 millimeters deep.

Staring through the microscope, she was baffled.

"I had the first two patients, and they were so very different," Witelson said. "I kept looking and looking at them, trying to see what the difference could be."

Then she consulted the donor documentation for each tissue sample. "Finally, I saw that one was a man, and one was a woman."


Slowly, she formed a theory: The brains of men and women are indeed different from birth. Yet the differences are subtle. They might be found only among the synapses in brain structures responsible for specific cognitive abilities.

I can almost hear the pitter-patter of Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon as she types up a screed denouncing Witelson. Anything supporting the notion that there could be cognitive differences between women and men that is genetic as opposed to being the result of patriarchal brainwashing is strictly verboten over there. I highly suspect she'd jump all over Witelson for her assertion that there is at least some genetic basis for "male" or "female" behavior:

Last year, a worried farming couple brought their youngest child to McMaster University Medical Center.

They were no longer certain whether their child was a girl or a boy. The youngster had traits of both, as occurs in about one in 5,000 births. In this child, nature had devised a living test of gender and the brain.

The medical experts determined that the child's body was a composite of normal and abnormal cells. Some had a girl's usual complement of two female sex chromosomes. Many, perhaps due to a mutation, had only one female chromosome and consequently were almost male.

"Which cells got to the brain?" wondered Witelson, who was called in as a consultant. "You have to consider the sex of the brain."

The doctors all suspected the child's brain was masculine. There was no way to know for sure. They could not safely take a sample of neural tissue to biopsy.

Until recently, reconstructive surgery based on a doctor's best guess was the rule in such cases. But in Hamilton, they counseled patience, Witelson recalled.

"We said, 'Let the child's behavior tell us what sex the child is.'"

Oh, that'll go over like a lead balloon. Honestly, I don't mean to pick on Amanda because I agree with much that she has to say and my criticism here is applicable to many of the writers at the feminist blogs I read. It's just that I read something by her this morning that caught my attention.

She was being critical of movie review at
Men's Daily News. Now, from what I've read at MDN, it's an atrocious place. It seems to be all about promoting the Marion Morrison, er, John Wayne mentality of masculinity so I'm behind Amanda and her comrades in their assaults on it. Anyway, the author of the review wrote this paragraph:

I must admit that one of my weakest areas of overall knowledge is the “chick flick” genre of film. I basically avoid seeing movies designed to appeal specifically to women as I don’t happen to be a female, and this, unfortunately, precludes my interest in a good deal of the Harlequinisms passed off as blockbusters by the motion picture industry.

And Amanda wrote the following in rebuttal:

They're passing as blockbusters because the money women spend on movie tickets isn't real money, which only men have, but Monopoly money that they pass off as real money, artifically elevating the movies to blockbuster status.

Having read this exchange, I was left wondering what the hell Amanda was talking about. I feel stupid because I can't see what she saw. I can't see anything in that paragraph intimating that the buying power of women is somehow not as good as men's. To me, the guy said, rather ineloquently, "Hey, movies with stereotypical romance plots don't interest me and Hollywood sends a lot of them our way." Any sense of misogyny aside, where does he say anything about women and their money other than they go see these movies a lot? I cant' find any qualitative judgement, only quantitative. It's stuff like this that gets in my craw.

There was an entry at Feministing within the past month or so about overweight people - I can't remember if it was overweight women or overweight men & women - being discriminated against in the job place. Being denied jobs because of their weight. While I agreed with the poster, it seemed a bit hypocritical considering the site's logo is a sort of 007/Barbie combination and the ads that hawk Feministing apparel feature a woman who has a similar body type to all of the editors - thin. She's thin and white. Thin, white, and early to mid 20s. For me, the site brings back the 90s with Beverly Hills 90125 and TV shows featuring "rich kids with problems." To be sure, rich white kids have problems - many of the same problems that kids of all colors and classes have. But there was just something about those TV shows featuring predominantly white casts driving expensive cars that seemed to be dislocated from reality. They were like caricatures of the reality of teenagehood. And that, to a certain extent, is how some of the feminist blogs come across to me. The ones I've fallen into the habit of reading are all by young white women that, as near as I can tell, conform to the current standards of beauty.

I mentioned my thoughts on this at the site and Amanda of Pandagon avoided the question by saying that there's nothing wrong with looking at pictures of beautiful women. No one said that there was something wrong with looking at pictures of beautiful women. The question was whether or not there was something hypocritical with a site by thin women protesting the treatment of overweight women that seems to promote the thin ideal which has, at the very least, a part in the reason why overweight women are being discriminated against in the first place. If not slightly hypocritical then counterproductive, perhaps? While certainly not equal to, it does bear more than a passing resemblance to a situation in which Playboy were to publish a similar rant on discrimination against overweight women in the workplace. I just get this weird feeling reading some of these feminist blogs that they're like a coalition of the willing. I don't know the feelings on this matter of women who are not white, thin, and young. I have observed that women who disagree with the editors tend to be older than them. This is purely anecdotal, granted, but I puzzle over such things.

Perhaps part of my frustration stems from the fact that I think "equality feminism" generally has truth on its side as well as the moral high ground over misogyny but I get very little sense of this from these blogs. Instead, there's misandry, venom, and precious little reasoning, precious little appeal to women who don't consider themselves to be feminists to take up the cause. And there's also no appeal to men who aren't already feminists to think about their own behaviors and their own stances on the issues. If I'm mistaken in thinking that these blogs are or can be more than extended bitch sessions, then so be it. (No pun intended.)
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