Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

29 September, 2005

Watch Salmanic Verses on HBO

Lost was amusing last night though not overly revelatory. As viewers knew from last week, there is a symbol on various objects throughout the underground complex. Here it is:



We saw it only a couple times last week but it was plastered on everything this week. One of the characters is locked in the complex's larder and every label on every jar has this logo on it. It seems to be a combination of an old Korean flag and an I Ching diagram hoolie with a swan in the middle as well as the word "DHARMA". We may recall from last season's finale that 4 of the castaways set sail on a raft. They encountered some salty dogs on what appeared to be a small fishing boat. They took Walt, the young son of one of the characters, shot another of the characters, and then the raft exploded. So, this week we see two of the survivors floating adrift on the remains of the raft. Sawyer, who was shot, is bleeding from his arm and this attracts the attention of a shark. In one scene, we see the shark from underwater:



And behold the same logo! I get the impression that the shark is like Rover from The Prisoner. We'll see how it goes from here.

There's a new H.P. Lovecraft-inspired comic available and available online as well. It's by the folks at Lovecraft Country and is called Return to Arkham. I haven't started reading it yet but it will be, no doubt, eldritch and terrifying.

While I missed the rematch of George Galloway vs. Christopher Hitchens last week on Real Time with Bill Maher, he will be having Salman Rushdie on tomorrow night. It should be interesting to hear him talk. Ben Affleck is also slated to appear but who cares. Rounding out the trio of panelists is Andrew Sullivan, the gay man who supports the party of gay bashers who would condemn him to hell. Watch it for Rushdie.
|| Palmer, 11:15 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
American Life in Poetry: Column 004

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

None of us can fix the past. Mistakes we've made can burden us for many years, delivering their pain to the present as if they had happened just yesterday. In the following poem we join with Ruth Stone in revisiting a hurried decision, and we empathize with the intense regret of being unable to take that decision back, or any other decision, for that matter.

Another Feeling

Once you saw a drove of young pigs
crossing the highway. One of them
pulling his body by the front feet,
the hind legs dragging flat.
Without thinking,
you called the Humane Society.
They came with a net and went for him.
They were matter of fact, uniformed;
there were two of them,
their truck ominous, with a cage.
He was hiding in the weeds. It was then
you saw his eyes. He understood.
He was trembling.
After they took him, you began to suffer regret.
Years later, you remember his misfit body
scrambling to reach the others.
Even at this moment, your heart
is going too fast; your hands sweat.

Reprinted from "In the Dark," Copper Canyon Press, 2004, by permission of the author and publisher. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.
|| Palmer, 10:04 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

28 September, 2005

"We have learned nothing from Rwanda"

The destruction and massacres in Darfur continue unabated but America isn't watching. So Nat Hentoff writes in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post from a couple days ago.

Eric Reeves of Smith College in Massachusetts, the principal historian of the horrors in Darfur, wrote on Aug.11(www.sudanreeves.org) that the genocide there could become "much worse" as "the international community has abandoned these people to genocide by attrition." And on Sept. 8, Salih Booker, executive director of Washington-based AfricaAction, warned: "The death toll continues to mount." The American media, with few exceptions, have also largely abandoned Darfur. In"All Ears for Tom Cruise, All Eyes on Brad Pitt" in the July 26 New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof, who has often reported from the killing fields, writes: "If only Michael Jackson's trial had been held in Darfur." Mr. Kristof noted that: "According to monitoring by the Tyndall Report, ABC News had a total of 18 minutes of the Darfur genocide in its nightly newscasts all last year and that turns out to be a credit to Peter Jennings.

"NBC had only 5 minutes of coverage all last year, and CBS only 3 minutes (except for '60 Minutes') about a minute of coverage for every 100,000 deaths. In contrast, Martha Stewart received 130 minutes of coverage by the three networks.

"Incredibly, more than two years into the genocide, NBC, aside from covering official trips, has still not bothered to send one of its own correspondents into Darfur for independent reporting." This appalling performance by broadcast and cable television is not surprising if you believe newspapers are invariably the source of in-depth coverage of vital stories.

There has indeed been serious reporting on Darfur in The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Times and other papers; but most of the print media have little to be proud of in their coverage of this genocide, whose total deaths could well reach more than 1 million by the end of the year, thereby topping the number of corpses in Rwanda.

So much for "Never Again". And today, if one were to go to the Khaleej Times website, a paper from the United Arab Emirates, one would notice an article describing how it appears that some of the violence from Sudan is spilling over to neighboring Chad.

About 50 people were killed in eastern Chad when armed horsemen from neighbouring Sudan attacked a village and later clashed with Chadian forces, the government spokesman and army sources said on Tuesday.

“Armed and uniformed horsemen from Sudan infiltrated Chadian territory on Monday between 8:00 and 9:00 am (0700 and 0800 GMT) ... and took to massacring Chadian people and stole their livestock,” said the communications minister, Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor.


If you think gas prices are exorbitant here in the States, be glad that you're not in the dire straits of some Africans.

Crude oil prices surged to a record $68 a barrel this week on supply concerns, raising fears of further fuel hikes in Africa where burdened families were already reeling from rises.

"If they are increased again, I will be left with no food to feed my orphans because (food) prices will go up because of transport costs," said Mai Wisiki, a grandmother with four orphans in Malawi's Chiradzulu district.

Across Africa, prices at the pump are ballooning at an alarming rate, pushing millions of people on the world's poorest continent deeper into poverty and adding to the threat to the continent's forests, the source of much of its firewood.


Finally in the news today, unlike Condoleeza Rice, Undersecretary of State, Karen Hughes, is taking the Saudis to task for their treatment of women, among other things.

Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes questioned Tuesday the Saudi ban on driving by women, telling a crowd of several hundred Saudi women, covered head to toe in black clothing, that it had negatively shaped the image of Saudi society in the United States.

...

Hughes hastened to add that Saudi society must change at its own pace and according to its own traditions, but she went significantly further in her statement than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did on a visit three months ago. Rice pressed for greater political freedoms for women but dismissed the subject of driving as "just a line that I have not wanted to cross."


But what I found most disturbing was this:

During a meeting with top Saudi editors, Hughes pointedly noted that the United States was concerned that inflammatory literature intolerant of other religions and traced to the Saudi government had been found in American mosques. Hughes pressed the government to help "find room to respect people of different faiths and different faith traditions."

Great. Our "friends" at the House of Saud are sponsoring spiteful religious propaganda.
|| Palmer, 11:03 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Word of the Week

I present this word in consideration of last week's events.

nullipara
n. A woman who has never given birth.
|| Palmer, 10:38 AM || link || (1) comments | links to this post

27 September, 2005

Doofuses On the Move

Pat Robertson on his 700 Club TV show from 22 August 2005:

"You know, I don't know about the doctrine of assassination, but if he [Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez] thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war…and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop…

We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."


Pat Robertson two days later:

"I didn't say 'assassination'. I said our special forces should 'take him out'. And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time."

OK, Pat. Don't try and weasel out of your statement, Pat. You called for the assassination of Venezuela's president because it was the cheapest option. Let's see. "…I think we really ought to go ahead and do it." "it" here is a pronoun and in this context in the English language, the pronoun refers to a noun that came previously in the same sentence. Is it referring to "he"? No, try again. The "we" in "we're"? Nope. "assassination"? Bingo! Pat Robertson is an evil, malevolent, lying hypcrite. And you can probably add "avaricious" to that list of adjectives. And people send money to this guy! Plus he gets on all those Sunday morning news talk shows as if he could add anything constructive to a conversation beyond castigating homosexuals and heap opprobrium on secular humanism in the name of his deity.

A study with the unwieldy title of "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies" was released recently in the Journal of Religion & Society. It looked at the social performances of generally secular countries and compared 7 contrasted them with those of the United States. It concludes, among other things, that religion is not beneficial for the moral, cultural, and physical health of a society: (Emphasis is mine.)

In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies. The most theistic prosperous democracy, the U.S., is exceptional, but not in the manner Franklin predicted. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly. The view of the U.S. as a 'shining city on the hill' to the rest of the world is falsified when it comes to basic measures of societal health. Youth suicide is an exception to the general trend because there is not a significant relationship between it and religious or secular factors. No democracy is known to have combined strong religiosity and popular denial of evolution with high rates of societal health. Higher rates of non-theism and acceptance of human evolution usually correlate with lower rates of dysfunction, and the least theistic nations are usually the least dysfunctional. None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction. In some cases the highly religious U.S. is an outlier in terms of societal dysfunction from less theistic but otherwise socially comparable secular developing democracies. In other cases, the correlations are strongly graded, sometimes outstandingly so.

The verdict obviously is not in but I'm thinking it's time to send religion back to the Middle Ages where it belongs.

Finally, there this story about the battle being waged in court by 11 parents of schoolchildren in Dover, Pennsylvania who want to drive out the religious bullshit that is Intelligent from the schools.

Eleven parents in the US have gone to court to protect the teaching of evolution at their local schools.

The Dover Area School Board in the state of Pennsylvania requires science teachers to tell pupils that evolution is merely one unproven theory.

Teachers have to say that "intelligent design" - whose adherents believe life on earth was created by an intelligent being - is a possible alternative.

The parents say it is a religious belief that should not be taught.

They argue that its inclusion violates the constitutional separation of church and state.


But wait – there's more! Here's the real scary part:

According to a CBS poll one year ago, 65% of Americans want creationism to be taught along with evolution; 37% would want it to be taught instead of evolution.

Yikes! What part of "it's too complicated so there must be a creator is NOT SCIENCE" don't these doofuses understand? All parents who want their kids to learn creationism instead of evolution should have their way. Upon learning the fairy story that some bearded white guy in the firmament blue snapped his fingers and created the universe, the children will then have a barcode tattooed on them which, when they grow up, means that they will not have voting privileges and must work fast food for the entirety of their natural lives. We can't have a bunch of brain-washed nattering nabobs voting another George W. Bush into office.
|| Palmer, 3:35 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
On the Gramophone

Since I can't get Pictures at an Exhibition out of my head, I present some classical music this week. As I said previously, Emerson, Lake and Palmer did a version of Mussorgsky's piece. In fact, they covered/adapted lots of classical pieces including this one. Check out Bela Bartók's Allegro Barbaro.

For the record, ELP adapted it as "Knife Edge" which appears on their debut album, Emerson Lake and Palmer.
|| Palmer, 7:58 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

26 September, 2005

Lost

Go here and click on the little barcode hoolie at the bottom Then type in "theislandiswaiting".

I'll admit that there are bigger Lost fans than myself. I mean, I've only ever seen 2 or 3 episodes from the first season in toto with the rest in bits and pieces and last week's season premiere. Yet I spent quite a bit of time last night up at a message board for the show. The premiere seemed to raise 2 questions for every 1 that is answered.

Why does the doctor's watch read 11:14 only to have the patient declared dead in the next scene at 8:15?



Is this cop who brought the above victim to the hospital played by the same actor who will soon have a recurring role on the show?



Viewers finally got a look in the hatch. What does the mural mean?



What is the symbol on the refrigerator in the tunnels that the hatch leads to mean?



It's really quite a bit of fun to read people's theories on what all these things mean and why our intrepid adventurers are on the island in the first place. And I must admit that the mystery is intriguing. Yet I'm still not completely convinced. I mean, I enjoy the show and contemplating the mysteries but I'm still not totally hooked. You see I have this hangup about the flashbacks. Perhaps I need to watch all of the first season and then I shall change my mind but, as it stands, I find the flashbacks to be cheesy and an excuse not to have to do some tough writing. They serve to flesh out the characters and illuminate their motivations but, from what I've seen, I'd rather that the character development happen via actions and conversation on the island. I find myself getting really into the story and getting this sense of claustrophobia from knowing that they're trapped on this island and the show cuts to a flashback and the all those eerie, foreboding feelings I have disappear in a keystroke on an Avid editor. I dislike the sense of dislocation and the way the sense of space is built up and torn down constantly. Find ways to tell us viewers what we need to know via actions and dialogue on the island. Sometimes the show does both. Take the flashback of Hurley waking up and hurrying to catch his flight. There's a humorous element, to be sure, but it seems the only things present that were in any way relevant to his predicament on the island were the appearances of the numbers in the background on signs and whatnot. Then, in the season finale, Hurley sees the numbers on the hatch and starts yelling at Locke to not blow the hatch open. And then last week Hurley gives an explanation of the numbers and why they are meaningful to him. The flashback was pointless as what little of significance in it was reiterated elsewhere. Why flashback when you can accomplish the same thing with scenes on the island? I am reminded of a scene like the following in countless Hollywood movies: in a medium shot, a guy walks into a room and sees an object on a table. The audience can see exactly what it is and knows that the guy recognizes it as well. So he does to reach for it and we are given a close-up of the object as if to say, "If you weren't paying attention to the incredibly obvious scene prior to this one, well – here it is again." If the audience can see that the object is a widget in the medium shot, why put the close-up in? Might as well put the fucking word on the screen with an arrow pointing to the object on the table. And, from what I've seen, most of the flashbacks in Lost are either like this or give us info which could be and should be done via scenes on the island. Of course, last week it seems like the guy inhabiting the hatch was in a flashback so that's a toughie. But I think it's a waste of time to show a 5-minute flashback of one of the characters as a drug addict pre-crash when it only serves to show motivation for getting drugs on the island. Who knows? Maybe they will serve a greater purpose as the show goes on. But I think it's unfair of the shows makers to expect us to see something once and fit it into the puzzle 2 seasons later. The show needs to answer some questions and resolve some mysteries and then pose new ones. Right now, it feels like it's just mysteries being laid down Pelion upon Ossa.

OK, work is over - I'm outta here!
|| Palmer, 4:49 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Tempus Fugit

It's been a while since I've posted anything of substance. Time flies when you're facing fatherhood. The morning rush of dealing with people who forgot passwords is over and I've got Adrian Belew's Side One playing. I picked it up at B-Side this weekend as Pam, Bill, and I were wandering around State Street. I dunno why, but Mad City never got a copy in so I was forced to shop elsewhere. While B-Side has a wonderful selection and a nice, cozy atmosphere, there's just something about the joint that irks me. I've not been there in months but have always felt that the folks behind the counter look down on me and other customers. I don't recall anyone ever having said anything to me aside from banter like "That album comes in next week" or "That'll be $12.56" whereas the folks at Mad City having a warmer disposition and will comment on your purchase that he or she likes the album or that the band will be touring soon or something such as that. The folks at B-Side make me feel like I have to buy either an album by some obscure avant garde minimalist musician or one by an indie punk band that only 2 people in the whole world know about outside of the band themselves. Hell, maybe it's just me but that guy who used to wear the Can t-shirt is just too quiet sometimes – like he's plotting against you. Anyway, Side One is great! I've picked out a couple songs that Adrian played at the show earlier this month: "Writing On the Wall" and "Beat Box Guitar". The first 3 songs on the album feature Les Claypool on bass and Tool's drummer, Danny Carey. "Ampersand" and "Writing On the Wall" are in many ways typical Belew tunes, but the rhythm section has more muscle than usual. The third song that features the power trio, "Matchless Man", is also very typical Belew with its backward-sounding guitar bits but the tempo is slowed down and there's tabla and Claypool's bass is more restrained. "Madness" is a very Crimson-esque bit of noise reminiscent of "Thrak" – just a bit less angular. "Beat Box Guitar" starts off with a programmed rhythm and Adrian going off and doing his thing. Real drums eventually kick in and move the piece along into different territory while Belew continues to cull lots of different sounds from his guitar and lay them on top of the beat. The album ends with 3 short soundscapes and clocks in at only a bit more than 33 minutes. I have read an interview with Belew where he responds to this criticism by basically saying, "I know it's a short album but it says what I wanted to say." Honestly, that's fine with me but why did it cost $16? In this day and age, it's an EP and should have been several dollars cheaper. Still, I'm sure Adrian had little or nothing to do with the pricing scheme. I have to say that I really love this record. It features many sides of Belew and his music. You've got the heavy Crimson-esque bits along with some poppy, Beatles-like material. In addition, there's plenty of his atmospheric soundscaping and weird noises that he is famous for. This album is part of a trilogy and Side Two was released in July, methinks, while Side Three comes out later this year or early next. From what I've heard, Side Two features Belew appropriating electronica and putting it into his arsenal.

Another recent addition to my collection is Richard Thompson's Front Parlour Ballads. It's taking me some time to get into it but I'm getting there. It's an acoustic affair with Dick's brogue in fine form. After a cursory listen, no song really sticks out as being blatantly catchy but the melodies are growing on me, especially "Miss Patsy".

The weekend was good. I woke up Saturday morning only to find the den a complete disaster area. This was odd as everything was normal when I went to bed Friday night. Stevie and Becca were there watching TV. Stevie's back was still fucked up and I was told that he found himself unable to move in the wee hours of the morning so Becca moved everything and made a nice spot for sleeping in the middle of the room. This explained the furniture being in disarray but how did all the candles and cups get strewn about the joint? Pete stopped by later in the morning and we shot the shit for a while before watching the season premiere of Lost. Now that he's dating, he's gotten all mellow and sensitive. He's been dropping by lately to check in and called a couple times last week to see how I was doing. He mentioned that he'd gone to a flick with his fraulein Friday night and I asked which one and he replied, "The wrong one." Things seemed well with him. Work was work and there are definitely worse problems than having to choose between 2 women. After he left, I ran out to pick any straggling vegetables from the garden. With an arm full of tomatoes and peppers, I heard the doorbell ring so I scrambled back into the house. Much to my surprise, it was Ronaldo. He had brought one of his PCs over for me to fix and return a book of mine that he'd borrowed. In return for some computer work, he brought me a couple bottles of dunkelweiss that he'd brewed. We chatted for a bit and he invited me to a full moon party that a friend of his who lived just outside of town was throwing. He hit the road and then I showered in anticipation of Pam & Bill's arrival. They finally made it around 1. We gathered in the living room and shot the bull. Being pregnant, Pam stuck to OJ but Bill and I eagerly delved into Ronaldo's dunkelweiss. Pam had also brought her bottle of Pyrat XO Reserve rum with so I got to sample the stuff. Lemme tell ya, it was mighty fine! I can see kicking back with a snifter of that stuff. It was decided that we needed to eat and Pam had a hankering for dairy products. It was off to Sal's for pizza with extra cheese. From there, we headed over to the Chocolate Shoppe on State Street where we indulged ourselves in what is probably the best ice cream ever – Zanzibar chocolate. On our way back to the car, we made our aforementioned visit to B-Side. The sky had been cloudy all day and it was drizzling heavily by the time we had finished our venture at the CD shop. I think we were all feeling lazy and perhaps a bit tired so we stopped at a liquor store where I bought a couple 6-packs of Lake Louie. It was the first time I'd seen them as my previous visits were always greeted with empty shelves. The three of us ended up back in the living room watching Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Pam had her water while Bill and I sipped on Arena Premium and Coon Rock Cream Ale. I was a bit incredulous that neither of them had experienced the wonderful, insulty goodness of Triumph previously. Needless to say, they found him quite humorous. With that DVD being done, we started on the classic cheesy horror flick, Horror Express, starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Telly Savalas. In the middle of the flick, The Dulcinea came over and joined us as we slouched on the couch staring at the TV. As the hour grew late, Pam decided it was time to make the trek back to Milwaukee. She needs her sleep being heavy with child and all, plus she had a yoga class to teach the next morning. We said our goodbyes and I made sure they left with some Lake Louie and vegetables from our garden. The Dulcinea and I hit the rack not too long afterwards.

Sunday was spent alternately watching flicks and being naughty. The Dulcinea and I also had some intimate conversations in bed. We talked about how we felt about the abortion and, at one point, she asked me a very odd question. Well, I thought it was odd anyway. She asked if I were angry at her for getting pregnant. It's not like she went away for the weekend and mysteriously got pregnant. I mean, I did it. Why would I be angry at her? To correct myself, we did it. Apparently one of the two or both of the fathers of her kids were angry at her when she got pregnant. I don't understand that kind of reaction but emotions are not rational. I told her that I wasn't angry at her one bit and she seemed a bit relieved. I was worried about her more than anything. Her health, her mental well-being. I didn't want to be a father but I didn't have an embryo inside me nor did I undergo a medical procedure. It saddened me to think that either E or P would have been angry at her. To my mind, P abandoned his son by moving to New York. I don't get the impression that he doesn't love his son but he did move a thousand miles away – not the action of someone who wants to be an involved father. E, The Dulcinea' ex-husband, really comes across in the tales I've heard, as someone who really needs to get his shit together and step up as a father. Yeah, I know you can say that I have no right to be critical as I'm not a father myself, but some of the shit he pulls is just plain stupid.

Between blowjobs, The Dulcinea and I watched some flicks. One was Ju-on (The Grudge) - yes, another Japanese horror flick. (After we'd watched it, The Dulcinea said that it had been re-made here in the States starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and, oddly enough was directed by the same director, Takashi Shimizu.) It was quite good and genuinely spooky. It concerns a house in which a murder takes place and a curse (grudge) befalls all who live there. The story goes back and forth between various characters showing how people only tangentially involved get drawn into the grudge. The film also makes a jump forward in time which was confusing. But this wasn't the fault of the filmmaker but rather of this viewer. Reading subtitles and trying to keep a grip on the action and identifying characters can be quite a chore sometimes. So it takes me some time to catch up. This movie was just really creepy with the little boy painted sky blue with heavy black eyeliner showing up at the homes of various characters foreshadowing death. A pitter-patter of feet then a flash of his figure and then his menacing eyes glaring – good stuff! We also caught the first two of six episodes of a mini-series from Japanese television called "Tajuu jinkaku tantei saiko - Amamiya Kazuhiko no kikan" or "MPD Psycho" in English. The show involves a detective who is schizophrenic and is thusly Kazuhiko Amamiya, Yôsuke Kobayashi, or Shinji Nishizono depending on the day. He is brought back into the police force to solve a series of murders which involve women's skulls being sawed off and a flower planted in their gray matter or pregnant women having their stomachs opened and their fetuses replaced with phones. The language barrier proved confusing because the show is very surreal and confusing on its own and then you add in playing catch up with subtitles and it becomes a mess. But it's a good mess! For instance, the victims are all women who have a barcode on their left eye. None of the authorities find this at all odd – it's just taken as a given that there are women out there with bar codes in their eyes and this wasn't explained, though it may be in later episodes. We'll see. Another confusing bit is the censorship. As it was broadcast on TV, women's naughty bits and anything deemed too explicit for television was digitally pixilated and distorted. The box the DVD came in explains that the original unmodified footage was not found for the transfer to DVD so we have to live with it. That's not a big problem but what is is that certain scenes were intentionally modified, not for a general TV audience, but as part of telling the story and there were a couple scenes in which I couldn't tell if the pixilated bits were distorting explicit stuff or were present as a filmic device as Miike uses effects throughout the show. For instance, there are scenes when the schizo detective is outside with people talking and it looks like it is raining but no one is getting wet. The "rain" is there, I think, to give representation to his interior state. There are also exterior scenes with the police chief and a researcher from some think tank which researches crime which are tinted a bright orange with fluorescent green "snowflakes" falling. And so, when there are scenes which are totally pixilated while a character gives a spiel, I can't tell if the character is perhaps naked or a mutilated zombie or if the distortion is there to tell me something about the character or the dialogue.

I read this morning that "MPD Psycho" was originally a bit of manga (anime) or at least was before this live-action piece was made so I'm keen on seeing it after I watch the remaining 4 episodes of this version.

Also this weekend, I watched a couple documentaries by Errol Morris: Vernon, Florida and Gates of Heaven. The former is just a short profile of some of the eccentric residents of that town. I'd seen it before but it'd been a while and I was amused all over again. There's a couple at the end who explain how they'd taken a vacation to White Sands National Park (I think) in New Mexico. They watched the sand drift over the roads there and brought back some in a jar. The wife goes into the house and brings out a quart jar about two-thirds full of sand. She then goes on to explain that it was originally only about a quarter full and that the sand has grown. Classic! Gates of Heaven profiles two groups of people who opened pet cemeteries. Like Vernon, Florida (and indeed all of Morris' works), it's all character study. The first part involves a well-meaning but slightly off-kilter guy who opens a pet cemetery with some friends only to see his dream fall to pieces. His religious convictions and lack of business acumen contrast with the colder, more profit-minded comments of his former partners. The second part profiles a family who runs a successful pet cemetery in California as the father passes the business down to his sons. We get a spiel on the business itself followed by looks at the two sons and how they got to the point of taking it over as both had sought their fortunes elsewhere. There are some really strange people in this world. I also rented Kagemusha by Kurosawa but have yet to watch it.
|| Palmer, 12:46 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Prost Gotvins Geometri – Part 13

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 12.


Father Gotvin's First Journey (continued)

"I'm coming," I replied and walked in the direction of the sound.

I found her hidden between the jasmine bushes, on a small path lf lawn that was small enough to be completely covered by her blanket. There she lay and in front of her was a basket of fruit, cheese, and wine. I just stood there. Had she arranged this for me? Or did she do this often? She heard my thoughts and said:

"This is my sanctuary. I come here everyday."
Looking around, I asked, "How do you get in?"
She laughed. "My uncle is the director of the baths. The apple of his eye. He built the place and made it what it has become."
"But it's not open to the public – there's no one here?"
"It's closed during the summer, from May till September."
"Schoolchildren?"
"Yes, the schools in the area use the facilities, plus all the institutions for disabled people. The town is teeming with them. The sick are always waiting for miracles and, in the mean time, they can bathe."

I listened and she talked. I listened to her voice which was quiet and soft. I hesitantly sat down on the blanket, on the edge of it. She told me she taught summer classes and the university – archaeology. She had a degree in archaeology specializing in ancient cultures – the Viking fortresses! She also said that teaching in the summer was quite arduous with the heat but she needed the money. Fortunately she was able to stay at her uncle's. The rest of her family lived in Madrid. Besides, he let her use the baths as much as she liked and she had the whole thing to herself all summer. Everyday after classes she borrowed her uncle's car and come up here where she swam and ate or just sat around on the grass reading. That's how it was.

"Don't you want a little wine?"
"Yes, please."
She handed me the bottle and I drank. I was thinking.
"Why?" I asked.
"Not just because you shouted. But I never would have found you if you hadn't."
"Why did you want to find me?"
She didn't answer. She was drinking wine. We were drinking wine. It occurred to me that all the questions in my in d ought perhaps not be asked, not now. How could I remain this calm?
"Jasmine, real jasmine," I said and smelled the air and the bushes around me.
"I think you are a very special man."
"Ministers aren't especially special," I replied.
"I'm no thinking minister."
"OK," I replied. There wasn't anything else to say.
"I believe in intuition." She stroked her fingers across the blanket.
"Often?"
She laughed.
"No, as a matter of fact, you are the first man to be here with me."

We sat silently for a long time and I had my eyes fixed on the blanket and the basket. Thinking back, I believe that everything that remained unspoken was what me fell at ease, made me feel that I had known this woman for a long time and that she knew me. The intensity of being this close to her made my skin tingle. Did she feel the same?

"Are you hungry?" she whispered.
"A bit, perhaps."
"Help youself."

I looked at the cheese, her breasts, her nipples pointing against the fabric of her dress. Slowly I moved closer, closer to her but, as I grasped the basket, she lifted it up and put it behind her. She smiled and leaned back on her elbows.

"Closer," she whispered.

This won't do. I cannot come any closer, I thought. Nevertheless I put my hand gently on her calf and she took it and pulled it up and put it on her abdomen. This put me in an uncomfortable position – half lying and half sitting with only one arm for support. I could hear her breath and my breath. I could feel the warmth through her dress where my hand rested lightly. How long could I maintain this position? I caressed her carefully, moving my hand up toward her breasts and felt the hardness, the firmness – my own hardness! I closed my eyes and let my thoughts come to a standstill focusing on one idea: This is not me, Gotvin, it is not you experiencing this, Gotvin Soleng, it is not possible. But it was possible. Those were her soft hands finding the back of my neck, my hair, my face and mildly stroking my skin. No words. There were still so many questions to be asked and words to be spoken but then everything might have gone very differently. Now everything was going fine. I was stroking her tenderly. My caresses were gentle, calm and she made me feel safe by the way she was moving. Forgotten was my pledge to God, given many years ago, never to be intimate with a woman until we were bound in matrimony. Such a pledge had never been! Her dress slid up over her thighs and her belly. Gently I laid my head on her chest. Lavender, the smell of lavender from her gentle hair. My pants. We were naked but no one could see us here. I was a virgin and it did not all work perfectly the first time but she understood and was patient. My hardness, my firmness soon returned and I was strong. She was soft and warm and our movements were perfectly synchronized. Lasting, lasting, lasting. It had turned dark but we held each other tightly as we would never relinquish this rhythm. Again and again I felt the lust, the desire mount within me. I saw her eyes. All this time our eyes were interlocked. Tears? Suddenly her eyes flooded with tears and she opened her mouth in a silent cry while pulling me toward her with all her force. A last cascade flooded in her. The smarting joy let go of my body and we relaxed and lay motionless.

For a long time we lay like that.
Listened to the grasshoppers.
My fingers intertwined with hers.
This is how it must be.
Forever.
"Are you hungry now?" she whispered teasingly.
"Extremely."
"Help yourself." We both laughed.
|| Palmer, 9:12 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

25 September, 2005

Pete Townshend's New Novella & Blog

The Who's Pete Townshend has written a new novella called "The Boy Who Heard Music" and is posting it a chapter at a time at his new blog of the same name. As of today, chapters 1 & 2 have been posted.
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21 September, 2005

Saturday at the Symphony

Last Saturday, The Dulcinea and I headed to Milwaukee to catch the symphony. Before doing so, however, we stopped at Miss Pamela's place. We caught her lounging on the couch watching Metropolis while Bill was futzing about – painting perhaps. Pam looked well – she's not very pregnant yet. The four of us retired to the living room and watched the end of Metropolis. She and I caught some clips of it a couple years ago when we went to the Milwaukee Art Museum. They were doing an exhibition on German Expressionism and had a display showing parts of Metropolis. Watching it, I was struck by how much of it was in Blade Runner. The shadows, the robotic woman lead, the class distinctions, and the fight at the end of both films on roofs. When the film was done, we headed over to a local Oaxacan restaurant where we stuffed our gobs. I had the common chocolate-peanut mole which was excellent! I think we were all quite full when Pam started talking up the flan and so we ordered dessert. The flan was also excellent. We let our guts settle for a while before we had to run lest we miss the symphony.

Our seats were in the middle of the ground floor. I had wanted to attend because they were doing Pictures at an Exhibition. Here is what the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has to say about the piece:

Pictures at an Exhibition was written as a group of pieces for piano in 1874. The pictures were mainly watercolours, painted by Victor Hartman, a friend of Mussorgsky, who had died the previous year.

The piece is a musical description of walking around an exhibition of Hartman's paintings. A recurring 'Promenade' movement represents the visitor. Each of the pieces has a movement conjuring up the mood invoked by the picture, or in some cases even painting the picture in music.

Unfortunately, many of the original pictures no longer exist and Mussorgsky's music is all we have to remember them by.



Although Pictures at an Exhibition was originally written for piano, it owes a lot of its popularity to the orchestral arrangement made of it by Maurice Ravel. He brought different colours to the piece, using, for example, a soprano saxophone to play Schmuyle's theme. This is not a widely used orchestral instrument, but it gives the feeling of Schmuyle talking with a high, nasal voice; something the piano cannot do.


Also on the program that night were Don Juan, Tone Poem, Opus 20 by Richard Strauss & a brand new piece of music composed by Roberto Sierra: Sinfonia No. 3, "La Salsa". The piece was commissioned for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and completed earlier this year. Sierra is Puerto Rican and the piece incorporates elements of Afro-Caribbean music. It has 4 movements and I enjoyed the last 3. The first just sounded too cheesy. As if the Eau Claire Chamber Rock Orchestra were doing Tito Puente. The movement sounded as if an orchestra were doing a salsa piece as opposed to an orchestra playing classical music that incorporates elements of salsa. Sierra was present and came out to thunderous applause after the piece had been performed. This was followed by the intermission.

I was getting anxious and the boys in the band finally returned after what seemed like forever and wasted no time. They took their seats and launched into it. The performance was fantastic! You know it's good when the brass parts are making your body vibrate! I have to admit I was surprised that The Dulcinea had never heard it previously although I did think she said that she recognized the first part, "Promenade". "Gnomus" and "The Hut on Fowl's Legs" were very powerful and stunning. I believe that The Dulcinea's eyes watered during the final part, "The Great Gate of Kiev". I was introduced to Pictures via Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's variation of it. The band recorded it during a concert from December of 1970 and their take on the masterpiece includes some original material and (gasp!) some lyrics. Because of this, I sat there listening to the symphony fighting Greg Lake's singing in my head. Luckily I was victorious.

The Dulcinea enjoyed the performance quite a bit. Unfortunately, we won't be heading to the symphony together again until next year. In the meantime, I'm heading back to Milwaukee in November to see Carmina Burana with lyrics full of Latiny goodness about the fickleness of fortune, the ephemeral nature of life, the joy of the return of spring, and the pleasures of drinking, gluttony, gambling, and lust.
|| Palmer, 12:39 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
New In the Whoniverse

Some good news from the world of Doctor Who. Firstly, Janet Fielding has agreed to reprise her role as Tegan in a Big Finish audio drama next summer entitled Summer in the City.

The BBC is reporting that John Barrowman will not be returning next season as Captain Jack due to other commitments but will return in season 3. Other updates on the TV show include the following. Note the return of Sarah Jane and K9!: Zoe Wanamaker is indeed reprising her role as Cassandra in the first episode, still rumored to be titled "New Earth". She is joined by Michael Fitzgerald as Duke, Lucy Robinson as Clovis, Dona Croll as the Matron, Adjoa Andoh as the Sister, Anna Hope as the Novice, and Sean Gallagher as Chip. Additional casting updates: "The Christmas Invasion" will star Penelope Wilton as Harriet Jones, Adam Garcia as Alex Klein, Daniel Evans as Danny Llewellyn, Anita Briem as Sally, Chu Omambala as Major Blake, and Sean Glider. "School Reunion" features Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, John Leeson as K9, Anthony Stewart Head as Mr. Finch, Eugene Washington as Mr Wagner, Joe Pickley as Kenny, Lucinda Dryzek as Melissa, Heather Cameron as Nina, Benjamin Smith as Luke, Clem Tibber Milo, Rod Arthur and Caroline Berry.
|| Palmer, 10:46 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Word of the Week

In keeping with this week's theme of all things culinary and old, I'm going with a 17th century word this week:

tragematopolist
n. confectioner; seller of sweets
|| Palmer, 10:16 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
On the Gramophone

In honor of yesterday's culinary adventure, I'm gonna get all Medieval with this week's musical selection. Check out some Mediaeval Baebes by going here and watching their video for "Temptasyon". You get the music and a chance to see the hotties of MB.
|| Palmer, 10:15 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Getting Medieval

Pompys. Take Beef, Porke, or Vele, on of hem, & raw, alle to-choppe it atte the dressoure, than grynd hem in a morter as smal as thou may, than caste ther-to Raw olkys of Eyroun, wyn, an a lytil whyte sugre: caste also ther-to pouder Pepyr, & Macys, Clowes, Quybibys, pouder Canelle, Synamoun, & Salt, & a lytil Safroun; then take & make smale Pelettys round y-now, & loke that thou haue a fayre potte of Freysshe brothe of bef or of Capoun, & euer throw hem ther-on & lete hem sethe tyl that they ben y-now; then take & draw vppe a thryfty Mylke of Almaundys, with cold freysshe brothe of Bef, Vele, Moton, other Capoun, & a-lye it with floure of Rys & with Spycerye; & atte the dressoure ley thes pelettys .v. or .vj. in a dysshe, & then pore thin sewe aneward, & serue in, or ellys make a gode thryfty Syryppe & ley thin pelettys atte the dressoure ther-on, & that is gode seruyse.

Well, my cubebs arrived last week and I finally made them last night. Cubebs are basically just a peppercorn from Jawa. Here they are:



I ground the cubebs and the cloves with a mortar and pestle I'd inherited from my dad and it was the first time I'd used them. The seasonings were clove, mace, cinnamon, salt, cubeb, pepper, sugar, and saffron. I now present a short pictorial of the process.













You roll up the pumpes and then cook them in broth and wine. The gravy is made of almond milk, rice flour, mace, sugar, and cinnamon. To make almond milk, roast a bunch of almonds and soak overnight in water with a 4:1 ratio of water to almonds. Then throw in a blender until it's all chopped and mixed. Then strain through cheesecloth. Bring the gravy to a boil and then simmer until thickened. Once it's done pour over the pumpes in a dish or bowl. As the lecturer at GenCon said, medieval folks put sugar in everything so the dish is sweet but not overly so. The pumpes were really tasty! The saffron and the mace blended really well with the beef and were the prominent flavors along with the meat. And, when you got a currant, it too complemented the flavor of the beef well. The gravy is where most of the sweetness comes from. The almond flavor was in the background while the mace, cinnamon, and sugar stood out. I thought they were really tasty and The Dulcinea agreed. The pumpes just had a wonderful flavor that is not particularly common here in middle America. Plus you don't see fruits in everyday American cooking but it was apparently quite common several hundred years ago.

I still plan on making quince marmalade but need to find another recipe for a real meal. What shall I try next?
|| Palmer, 9:48 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

17 September, 2005

American Life in Poetry: Column 003

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

A poem need not go on at great length to accomplish the work of conveying something meaningful to its readers. In the following poem by the late Marnie Walsh, just a few words, written as if they'd been recorded in exactly the manner in which they'd been spoken, tell us not only about the missing woman in the red high heels, but a little something about the speaker as well.

Bessie Dreaming Bear
Rosebud, So. Dak., 1960

we all went to town one day
went to a store
bought you new shoes
red high heels

ain't seen you since.
|| Palmer, 11:40 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Friday Skin (On Saturday)

|| Palmer, 11:39 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Word of the Week

I chose this week's word, well, just because.

philogyny
n. fondness for women
|| Palmer, 11:33 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Iraq Wars Death Tolls & More on Galloway

Thanks to a reader, Shane, for pointing out this site which debunks the article referred to by Christopher Hitchens in his debate with George Galloway earlier this week regarding the Iraqi death toll. Thanks much, Shane.

Greg Palast has a new article out full of invectives for Mr. Galloway:

GALLOWAY: DEADLY ANTI-ABORTION THREATS FROM REPUBLICAN'S FAVORITE "LEFTIST"
Saturday, September 17, 2005

by Greg Palast
During his debate with Salman Rushdie at the recent Edinburgh TV Festival, someone asked George Galloway if television should broadcast an adaptation of Rushdie's novel, "Satanic Verses." According to Rushdie, Galloway replied, "If you don't respect religion, you have to suffer the consequences."

Holy Jesus! This was, unmistakably, an endorsement of the death-sentence fatwa issued against Rushdie by Ayatollah Khomeini.

Add this endorsement of killing for God to Galloway's notorious opposition in Parliament to a woman's right to choose abortion, and you get yourself a British Pat Robertson. What next? Will he be "saluting the courage, strength and indefatigability" of abortion clinic bombers, as he saluted Saddam?

The Honorable Member of Britain's House of Commons has become the new love-child of American progressives for his in-your-face accusations about our own government's mendacity in sending our troops to war in Iraq. I myself quoted Galloway with admiration.

But the man who saluted the "courage" of Saddam Hussein in 1994, who today can't and won't account for nearly a million dollars in income and expenditures for a charity he founded to buy medicine for Iraqi children is not, friends, the best choice as our anti-war spokesman.

Where did this guy come from? Who invited him here? The answer: US Senate REPUBLICANS. As Cindy Sheehan was gathering public sympathy as the Gold Star mom against the killing in Iraq, the Republican party decided to import an easier target to pummel. So they brought over the "I-salute-your-courage, Saddam" religious fundamentalist crack-pot who can't tell us where the money went.

That's why the Republicans chose him for us. This gross cartoon from abroad whose "charity" is stuffed with loot from an Oil-for-Food profiteer is the image they prefer on TV to Cindy Sheehan whom they dare not confront.

Yes, Galloway was the punching bag that punched back, and for that we are appreciative. Now GO HOME, George.

We need to repudiate this guy -- before the warmongers do, with glee.

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to let Karl Rove or some sick GOP Senator pick my heroes for me.

Some well-meaning progressives have said that my exposing Galloway plays into the hands of the "other side." Friends, this isn't a World Cup match, with sides; it's a World War, with too many dead bodies piling up.

Galloway says, "I have religious beliefs and try to live by them. I have all my life been against abortion and against euthanasia."

Well, Mr. Galloway, you may live by your beliefs -- anti-choice, fatwas, Saddam's "courage" -- but too many are DYING by your beliefs.

I admit, I was suckered by Galloway. I was the first journalist in the UK to rush to his defense on television when he was accused of wrong-doing. I wanted to believe in him, but the hard facts condemn him -- and us, if we don't act true to our moral imperative.

Mr. Galloway told the Independent newspaper, "I'm not as Left-wing as you think."

Indeed, he isn't.

Next Saturday, September 24, Cindy Sheehan and I will be speaking at the Operation Ceasefire gathering in Washington DC, sponsored by the DC Anti-War Network and United for Peace and Justice. Please join us.

Hopefully, our voices won't be drowned out by George Galloway's antics.


Screw George Galloway. He can take his religion and shove it up his ass. And, considering my girlfriend is pregnant and will be having an abortion, he can shove his pro-life bullshit too.
|| Palmer, 11:03 AM || link || (1) comments | links to this post
The Little Things

I woke up in the antelucan hours on the couch. I went to my room to try to get some more sleep but failed miserably. And so I got up and started canning. Six quarts of tomatoes sit in their water bath as I type. There's some music playing low as Becca and Stevie are still slumbering. A bit of Genesis to welcome the dawn. I think "Mama" is one of their best songs from the 80s, perhaps one of their career. I passed on going out and getting drunk last night with Pete and Lush - just wasn't up for a tavern. Caught most of Alexander before falling asleep. Today I shall get some stuff done around the house. This evening The Dulcinea and I are off to Milwaukee to catch the symphony. I'm really looking forward to hearing Pictures at an Exhibition. I suppose I'll also have to do some shopping. Since my cubebs are here, those pumpes (medieval meatballs) will be made tomorrow. I need almonds and cheesecloth to make almond milk. Looking around I see CDs that need to be put away, DVDs that need to be watched and returned, papers that should be filed, and bills that require payment. Just all the little things in life that need to be tended to.
|| Palmer, 7:25 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

16 September, 2005

The Post-Debate Haze

I listened to the Hitchens-Galloway debate yesterday. It didn’t get my full attention, as I was at work, but I did listen to it fairly closely. After it had finished, some announcers came on and gave their reflections. It surprised and saddened me to hear that one of them chose to make his first comment about how Hitchens avoided a question or questions from moderator Amy Goodman regarding his treatment by the media. While I grant the guy that Hitchens chose to not answer the question, I did have to side with Hitchens when he said something to the effect of “We’re here to debate the Iraq War, not my treatment by the media”. I agree completely – the question was irrelevant. Let’s debate the war, not talk about how the media treats the polemicist.

As for the debate itself, if I had to declare a winner, I would say that it was Hitchens. While most of the two hours was spent slinging mud, he, at least, managed to do so eloquently while Galloway had all the ethos of rabid dog. The aforementioned announcer would have done well to critique Galloway for evading a question as well and a relevant one at that. During his philippic, Galloway quoted the popular figure of 100,000 Iraqis killed after the war. Hitchens' riposte included a bit about this figure and how it was misleading at best and blatantly false at worst. He cited an article by his anti-war co-worker, Fred Kaplan, over at Slate.com which addressed the validity of this figure. If you don't want to follow the link, here's the Cliff's Notes version:

Kaplan quotes the study by Johns Hopkins University which is the source of the statistic of 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians.

We estimate there were 98,000 extra deaths (95% CI 8000-194 000) during the post-war period.

Kaplan then translates this for the layreader (emphasis mine): "Readers who are accustomed to perusing statistical documents know what the set of numbers in the parentheses means. For the other 99.9 percent of you, I'll spell it out in plain English—which, disturbingly, the study never does. It means that the authors are 95 percent confident that the war-caused deaths totaled some number between 8,000 and 194,000. (The number cited in plain language—98,000—is roughly at the halfway point in this absurdly vast range.)" Kaplan concludes that the number "…isn't an estimate. It's a dart board." One thing I'm sure Galloway and Hitchens could agree on is that even the low end of 8,000 deaths is a tragedy. Galloway, for his part, avoided the issue completely and merely expressed his incredulity that Hitchens would question the authority of Johns Hopkins University. It is this kind of slippery evasion and his incessant name-calling that stick out in my mind when I reflect upon Galloway's performance. (He repeated labeled Hitchens a "slug".) While Hitchens was also very antagonistic, his shots were, as I recall, very much grounded in fact. For instance, he refers to a speech Galloway gave in Damascus in which he praises the attacks on the U.S. military by "insurgents":

These poor Iraqis -- ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable by the people who occupy it.

He then lays into Galloway: "Among the victims of these operations was Specialist Casey Sheehan who was trying to clean up the festering slum of what had once been called Saddam City and was now known to us as Sadr City where the water supply is now coming back on. It's taking a while because people keep blowing it up but it's coming back on. Now I will put a simple moral proposition to you and see if I've phrased it alright: Is it not rather revolting to appear in Damascus by the side of Assad and to praise the people who killed Casey Sheehan and then to come to America and to appeal to the emotions of his mother." Considering the lefty lean to the audience, I was surprised that it didn't get a bigger and louder response. I got the impression that most of the audience was not there to hear a debate on the issues but rather to jeer their opponent and cheer their hero. And it seemed most of the audience was for Galloway. He evaded tough issues and repeated anti-war mantras ad nauseum to thunderous applause.

While listening to the "debate" provided a certain visceral thrill, it was more of a wrestling match than a true debate. Galloway thoroughly unimpressed me with his name-calling and constant use of phrases that, while they rallied the masses, were totally devoid of content. Hitchens did himself a disservice by chastising the audience several times. But it's difficult not to see how it deserved most of them. Perhaps the most poignant moment was when he asked the audience members to list for themselves the things they have done to further the causes of people in the Middle East. What had they actually done besides booed him? His fatal flaw was trying to deliver a reasoned argument to an opponent and an audience made most of people who weren't interested in debate, argumentation, or reason. It seemed like the majority of the audience were not only Galloway supporters but also were people who only wanted to see & hear a figure of some note stand before them and say "Bush is evil" in as many ways as the English language allows. Hitchens certainly did not try to paint a portrait of Bush as a saint, but he did try to fashion an argument in favor of the war. I highly suggest you read his writing or listen to the debate for the details but the crux of it was that there are these evil, twisted fucks out there in the world who hate America, not because of our freedom, but rather because they want to turn the world into one big Islamic state – a restoration of the caliphate. He then laid down reasons why invading Iraq countered this goal. In doing so, I think he exposed some great problems with the Left but perhaps Galloway did an even better job. The Left is either unwilling or unable to articulate much of anything beyond "Bush is evil". However true it may be, it alone is not much of a platform. Hitchens has argued over the past few years that those who would fly planes into our buildings don't desire to do so because they hate our freedom or because our corporations have a manic desire to litter the Middle East with McDonalds so Muslims can conveniently grab a Big Mac after their prayers. It's because we're not of their flavor of Islam. Almost everyone on the Left whom I've read address this responds in a robotic tone, "Bush is evil". The war itself and how the Bush administration justified it are two separate issues and the Left concentrates on the latter without giving much attention to the former. Not having deposed Hussein would have left a sadistic evil fuck that had used weapons of mass destruction in power. The Left must clearly explain why leaving a malicious dictator in power is morally acceptable and preferable to our invasion. It must explain this in order to win popular support and votes. The phrase "I'm glad Hussein is gone but I still don't think we should have invaded" and phrases like it clarify nothing. If you think that leaving a man in power that would kill anyone and his family who acquired a satellite dish is morally preferable to the situation as it is now, then explain why. Give everyone the moral calculus you did in reaching that conclusion. One needn't exculpate Bush and his cronies for their propaganda in order to favor the war.

This morning I find that Greg Palast has chimed in on the debate:

WHAT'S LEFT? GALLOWAY VERSUS HITCHENS; PROGRESSIVES VERSUS OURSELVES

Guerrilla News Network

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

By Greg Palast

Man, it just felt so good watching George Galloway rip Senator Coleman an extra exit hole. In May 2005, you'll remember, while most American politicians were mincing and cowering, the Honorable Member of the British Parliament, George Galloway, told a panel of stunned US congressmen:

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies."

It was one hell of a performance.

Tonight, Galloway will launch his American tour, a kind of extended curtain call to his US Senate debut, starting with a Punch-and-Judy show with Christopher Hitchens in New York.

In May, our Bush-kissing Congressmen could only respond to Galloway's challenge with dusty old smears and lame-ass questions.

But before we rally 'round this stand-up guy from Britain, we should ask him a few questions of our own.

Honorable Mr. Galloway, you met with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in 1994 and said, "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength your indefatigability. And I want you to know that we are with you until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem."

After this effusive praise for Saddam, the two of you shared some Quality Street chocolates and some funny stories about Winston Churchill.

In 1990, Saddam executed a troublesome reporter, Farzad Bazoft, of the Observer newspaper of London. You complained about it at the time. Some time later, Saddam finished off about 100,000 Shi'ites and Kurds.

My questions are, "Are Quality Street chocolates your favorite brand? And did you forget the name of the reporter that Saddam executed? And how is it that you found the courage to challenge a bunch of US Senators but became such a pussy cat when confronted with a man whose killing spree easily exceeds theirs?"

And when you were challenged on your arse-licking praise of the dictator, why did you prevaricate and obfuscate by saying the worshipful words were for the Iraqi people, not Saddam. In fact, your words were very specific: "Your Excellency, … I thought the president would appreciate to know that even today, three years after the war, I still meet families who are calling their newborn sons Saddam."

I have to say, Mr. Galloway, you are a charitable man with a big heart. But the charity is for whom? You founded something called the Mariam Appeal for Iraqis suffering under UN sanction. You raised cash on your solemn promise that, "The balance after Mariam’s hospital bills have been paid will be sent as medicine and medical supplies to the children she had to leave behind." But little of the money seems to have gone there, isn't that correct, Mr. Galloway? It seems that nearly a million dollars can't be accounted for. And the diversion of most of the money was, you said, for "emergency" purposes. One of those emergencies was the payment to your wife -- isn't that correct, Mr. Galloway?

And the source of nearly half a million dollars of that money, Honorable Sir, came from a trader in the corrupt Oil-for-Food program. The payment was equal to the profits earned by this oil trader who was blessed with discount oil from Saddam. Is that correct?

So if we add it up, Mr. Galloway, while you were railing about medicines denied Iraqis by Messrs. Bush and Blair, you were taking money skimmed from the program earmarked to pay for those medicines. And other moneys donated for medicine for Iraqis you and your group also skimmed off for "legitimate expenses" of yours, is that correct?

George Bush took money from unnamed Persian Gulf sources, as you apparently have. Should I question him, or simply ask him if his purposes were "legitimate" or an "emergency"?

And might I have a copy of the financial records of your "charity"? You promised to make them public but the records now seemed to have disappeared into Jordan. Would you mind retrieving those?

And why did you tell the US Senate the British Charity Commission "recovered all money in and all money out … they found no impropriety"? I have read their findings. In fact, the Commission excoriated you for failing to record where your million came from and where it went. And they recovered none of it.

I remember when Paul Wolfowitz told the US Congress the war in Iraq would not cost taxpayers one penny. Wolfowitz avoids prosecution for perjury because he did not testify under oath. Did you lie in your testimony because, as a foreign legislator, Mr. Galloway, you are immune from prosecution for perjury?

And when you said, "The Arabs must have a mentality that says, I want to be like Hizbollah." Sir, you mean the Hizbollah that took hostages in Lebanon and guns from Reagan, or the Hizbollah who joined Argentine military Fascists on a killing spree?

And why have you ducked for two months my request to answer questions?

Friends and comrades, this is not about George Galloway. He's just another self-promoting fart. Six months from now, even his smell will be gone.

This is not about George Galloway, but about us. What's Left? Are we about standing for the defenseless -- or the cruel and senseless?

A couple of months after the invasion of Iraq, I was in Los Angeles and some drunk accosted me, saying, "George Bush was right about everything he said about Iraq!" -- weapons of mass destruction, the al-Qaeda connection and more. It was Christopher Hitchens, "debating" me, and furious. His confusing our President's assertions with reality was a verbal pie he threw in the air and caught on his face.

He was flustered not because I disagreed with him -- he enjoys that, being the look-at-me bad boy -- but because I agreed with him: Saddam was a monster and Iraqis, overwhelmingly, wanted him gone.

But I could not, like Hitchens, shill for Mr. Bush's war of "liberation." I could see where it would end. When a snake devours a rat, it doesn't liberate the captive mice. The mice are "saved" -- for lunch.

But it is not good enough for the Left to oppose Mr. Bush's re-colonization of Iraq. We needed to have actively supported Iraqis fighting to remove their Mesopotamian Stalin. And now, we'd better come up with something a little less nutty than a recent suggestion by one otherwise thoughtful writer that we, "unconditionally support the insurgency" of berserker killers and fundamentalist madmen. If that's the Left's program for Iraq, count me out.

We can't define ourselves as the "anti-Bush," blindly supporting those he opposes, and thereby letting the nitwit Napoleon in the White House pick our enemies for us. Nor can our revulsion for Bush's horrors throw us into the arms of swamp-things like George Galloway.

Don't get me wrong. Unlike Hitchens, I cannot support the Prevaricator-in-Chief, the President who ordered Cindy Sheehan's son, Casey, to march to his death in Najaf. But I'll be damned if I'll cheer some rich white Brit-hole who brings joy to Casey's killers.


hehe He said "Brithole". hehe
|| Palmer, 11:48 AM || link || (1) comments | links to this post
Pledge Ruled Unconstiutional

The Pledge of Allegiance was ruled unconstitutional by a Federal court this week. It seems that Michael Newdow is aiming for a showdown at the SCOTUS again.

That court already ruled in favor of Newdow’s cause in 2002, but the case was later dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In deciding the current case, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton in Sacramento said he was bound by the Court of Appeals’ previous decision.

Karlton said he would sign a restraining order prohibiting the recitation of the pledge at Elk Grove Unified, Rio Linda and Elverta Joint Elementary school districts, where the children of Newdow and his fellow plaintiffs are enrolled.

The order would not apply to other California districts unless it was affirmed by a higher court.

Also of interest in this area, Sam Harris has posted a presentation he gave earlier this summer at the Idea City '05 Conference at his website.
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15 September, 2005

Butcher of Ambersons Dead

Robert Wise dead at 91.
|| Palmer, 3:44 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
The Onion Prognosticates

First read this and then check out this article from The Onion last year.
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13 September, 2005

Frontline Returns

The new season of the PBS series Frontline premieres on 4 October. Here's peek at the upcoming season:

The O.J. Verdict
Oct. 4, 2005 at 9pm
On October 3, 1995, an estimated 150 million people stopped what they were doing to witness the televised verdict of the O.J. Simpson trial. For more than a year, the O.J. saga transfixed the nation and dominated the public imagination. Ten years later, veteran FRONTLINE producer Ofra Bikel (The Plea, Innocence Lost), revisits the "perfect storm" that was the O. J. Simpson trial and uncovers startling truths about American society.

The Torture Question
Oct. 18, 2005 at 9pm
FRONTLINE goes behind closed doors to investigate the struggle over how and when to use what was called "coercive interrogation." The film begins with a policy born out of fear and anger and tracks the increasingly tough measures taken to gather information about Al Qaeda and the growing insurgency in Iraq. This examination begins at the White House and ends in the public debate about alleged abuses at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Abu Ghraib.

The Curse of Inca Gold
Oct. 25, 2005 at 9pm
FRONTLINE/World and New York Times reporter Lowell Bergman travels to Peru to uncover the story of a secret battle for Yanacocha, the world's richest gold mine. The battle was won by Newmont Mining of Denver, Colo., which has since become the world's most profitable gold-mining company. Newmont says that it operates using U.S. environmental and ethical standards overseas, but insiders say that just has not been true.
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Hitch v Galloway

Polemicist Christopher Hitchens and British MP George Galloway will go at it tomorrow in a dabate about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of the invasion of Iraq. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! will moderate. It begins at 18:00CST and can be heard here.

EDIT: The debate will be shown on BookTV this weekend. See their schedule for details.
|| Palmer, 3:25 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

09 September, 2005

American Life in Poetry: Column 020

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

In this fascinating poem by the California poet, Jane Hirshfield, the speaker discovers that through paying attention to an event she has become part of it, has indeed become inseparable from the event and its implications. This is more than an act of empathy. It speaks, in my reading of it, to the perception of an order into which all creatures and events are fitted, and are essential.

The Woodpecker Keeps Returning

The woodpecker keeps returning
to drill the house wall.
Put a pie plate over one place, he chooses another.

There is nothing good to eat there:
he has found in the house
a resonant billboard to post his intentions,
his voluble strength as provider.

But where is the female he drums for? Where?

I ask this, who am myself the ruined siding,
the handsome red-capped bird, the missing mate.

Poem copyright © 2005 by Jane Hirshfield from her forthcoming book "After" (Harper Collins, 2006), and reprinted by permission of the author. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.
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Friday Skin

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Tagged

I have been tagged for the first time by a fellow blogger, Crasspersonality.

Seven Things I Want To Do Before I Die
1) visit various countries, especially those from which my forebears came.
2) make a movie.
3) learn to play a musical instrument
5) write a novel.
6) dance around a maypole.
7) stand in a stone circle and bend a coat hanger into an ankh.

Seven Things I Can Do
1) fix computers
2) cook
3) make people feel stupid by using big/obscure words.
4) read Latin
5) drink 100oz of coffee and have no trouble sleeping
6) change a diaper.
7) make people laugh.

Seven Things I Cannot Do
1) live without coffee and chocolate
2) dance
3) bake
4) interior decorate
5) sail
6) stand Keanu Reeves
7) go without music for very long.

Seven Things That Attract Me To The Opposite Sex
1) intelligence
2) sense of humor
3) long hair
4) tattoos
5) curves in the right places
6) love of music
7) gregariousness

Seven Things I Say Most Often
1) hoolie
2) for the love of Mary
3) that dog will hunt
4) piece of fuck
5) and that is my problem…how?
6) I wouldn't kick her out of bed for eatin' chicken
7) she's got a nice poop chute

Seven Celebrity Crushes
1) Uma Thurman
2) Morena Baccarin
3) Angela Bassett
4) Billie Piper
5) Kirsten Dunst
6) young Janet Leigh
7) Cate Blanchett
|| Palmer, 8:01 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
In Cinema Mode Again

Well, I have returned from lunch. Charlie and I went out to Pelmeni, a restaurant which serves only Russian dumplings. While the menu is limited, you can get them served in a traditional manner with just butter or in a funky multi-cultural way - sprinkled curry powder and a douche of hot sauce. They are little tender nuggets of dumpling goodness! Soft morsels of dough gently folded around potato or beef. Dip 'em in some sour cream and - voila! Afterwards we hit Four Star Video where I rented a couple DVDs to feed my habit. If you're not familiar with Four Star and live in Madison, all I can say is FOR SHAME! It's quite the joint. They have over 3,000 foreign titles available. Roger Ebert creams his jeans over the joint everytime he visits our fair town. Anyway, I grabbed the second DVD of Firefly and Vozvrashcheniye (The Return). If I don't go have cocktails with a buncha pagans tonight, I'll be watching some vids.

Oooh! Oooh! The Music Box Theater in Chicago has announced their fall schedule and they'll be showing a 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey!!! Oh my fuck - I am so there! It's like my favorite film of all time but I've only seen it twice on the big screen. They'll also be showing a 70mm print of Ghostbusters as well as The Conformist! Gotta love Bertolucci.Wait! There's more! Add a couple Val Lewton films, a 24-hour horror film fest, and more good cinemay goodness. I may have to take time off from work.
|| Palmer, 2:37 PM || link || (2) comments | links to this post
An Evening With Werner

Fearing rain, I decided to forego the play last night and I highly suspect the thunderstorms that were called for never transpired. Oh well - next time. Instead I rented a couple flicks, ate lots of greasy food, and had lots of sex. I returned a couple movies to Bongo and yielded to temptation and got a couple more: Incident at Loch Ness and Jian gui (The Eye). I got home and started watching the former and was joined by The Dulcinea a short while later. Incident at Loch Ness was absolutely hilarious! I saw that it featured Werner Herzog and chose it on that basis alone. It is basically a comedic version of Burden of Dreams but, honestly, it took me a while to figure this out. I hadn't bothered to read the sleeve on the DVD case. But, when things got really corny, I knew it had to be fictional. Up until then, it was presented as a documentary and nothing too outrageous had happened to dispel the illusion. Oh my fuck, was it funny! It starts off with a party at Herzog's home where the producer and the crew meet. Then Jeff Goldblum shows up followed by Crispen Glover. Hmmm....The premise of the film is that a documentary film crew is following Herzog around as they're doing a profile of him. And Herzog's newest film is to be called The Enigma of Loch Ness. And so we get to see the production of that movie unfold and then collapse. You've got your stereotypical Hollywood producer who is trying to make a money-maker pitted against Herzog the artist. Plus there are the trials and tribulations of the crew. The producer brings in a hot model to be the "sonar operator" which involves her jumping into the loch in a very skimpy bikini. The producer and Herzog argue and fight. During one argument, Herzog says, "This is the most disorganized shoot I've ever been on" and the producer's riposte is, "Well, at least I'm not trying to move a ship over at mountain!" The producer pulls a gun on Herzog in one scene - a flare gun. An unloaded flare gun. Now, the scene is funny on its own but, if you know anything about Herzog's relationship with Klaus Kinski or have seen My Best Fiend, you will find it absolutely hysterical.

OK, I'm sure you folks don't find this funny. But see the movie. Although you don't really need to know anything about Herzog and his reputation or have to have seen any of his films, being familiar with him makes Incident at Loch Ness all the more funny.

After the movie finished, The Dulcinea and I grabbed some dinner over at Mad Towne Chicken on East Washington. I'd never been there before and was pleasantly surprised to find a fried chicken/gyros/sausage/hot dog joint so close to my house. We got some fried chicken, fries, and fried okra. It smelled wonderful and all the brown paper bags were stained. When we got back to my place, I eagerly unpacked the greasey goodies. To go with our meal, we had some tasty chipotle ale.



Along with dinner, we watched Jian gui (The Eye) and, lemme tell ya, it was spookier than fuck. It tells the story of an 18 year-old woman who gets a cornea transplant which gives her the ability to see the spirits of the dead. While I would try to make a comparison with The Sixth Sense, I've never seen it but I'm told the premise is similar. Anyway, it is a genuinely creepy movie which sent shivers down my spine. The Dulcinea was jumping up and clutching onto my arm and was petrified at various points during the flick. The elevator scene is one of the most chilling, creepy bits of cinema I've ever seen and I am not looking forward to taking one today. While there are several moments where you are jolted by the soundtrack and an accompanying image, the real strength of the film is its ability to just make you extremely uncomfortable and to make you think something bad will befall the woman.

Having finished watching DVDs, The Dulcinea and I set out to fornicate. It was difficult at first to have her on top of me with my hips thrusting away and to not think that some spectral image of a person was going to appear at any minute. It was just spooky.
|| Palmer, 9:31 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
New Firefox Beta

Mozilla has released the first beta version of the Firefox browser. Check it out. I grabbed it and the most noticeable difference is that a couple of my favorite extensions don't work, but that's to be expected. You can now bookmark all tabs and the Options dialog has been revamped. One can have Firefox clear out all the Privacy data upon close or set exceptions if you don't want everything trashed. So far, so good.
|| Palmer, 8:33 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

07 September, 2005

More On Katrina Aftermath

I was at a small confab earlier this morning and I was made part of the super-emergency computer tech swat team for the folks downstairs helping to coordinate the relocation of evacuees from down south to here in Wisconsin. Some 900 folks are going to the Milwaukee area and I was told that a couple dozen will be coming here to Madison. My dream of more Southern cooking in this town may yet come true! Then again, I suspect that when winter arrives, these folks will be asking to be sent somewhere warmer.

In other related news, multi-millionaire Barbara Bush has declared the refugee camp that is the Houston Astrodome to be a step up for the people who fled flood-ravaged areas.

"Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them," Mrs. Bush told American Public Media's "Marketplace" program, before returning to her multi-million dollar Houston home.

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC lays into the Dubya Administration and politicos generally is a recent editorial. Watch it here.

And don't forget to check out the disaster coverage of America's Finest News Source, The Onion.
|| Palmer, 11:38 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Word of the Week

This week's word is an old, obscure ditty used in the 17th century.

homerkin
n. old liquid measure for beer
|| Palmer, 9:21 AM || link || (1) comments | links to this post
On the Gramophone

Since I'll be seeing Adrian Belew this weekend, this week's pick is by him and is called "incompetence & indifference". It's got a funky beat and features, in addition to his usual oddball guitar, some Beat-like spoken word bits.

I emailed his management asking if I could take photos at his performance on Sunday and Adrian himself replied saying "yes!". So, I should have some pics of the show up next week.
|| Palmer, 9:05 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

06 September, 2005

Eyewitness in New Orleans

If you're keen on reading about and seeing pictures of what's happening in New Orleans, check out this blog. It seems like it was some computer nerd's blog but it's been transformed into, in his own words, "the Survival of New Orleans blog". He features pictures from Sigmund Solares, the CEO of Intercosmos Media Group, Inc. so perhaps the guy is an employee. Curiously enough, folks are getting back online down there.
|| Palmer, 2:42 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Refugess Coming to Wisconsin

It looks like some refugees fleeing the devasation of Hurricane Katrina will be making their way here to Wisconsin. The Emergency Operations Center opened not half an hour ago and is just one floor below me. Folks there are helping coordinate refugee housing and services. So, if you come across someone with a severe Southern accent, they could be a refugee from the storm. Perhaps some will just stay here in Madison and, of those, perhaps one or two will open a restaurant so I can have access to even more Southern cooking! Mmmm...fried catfish, BBQ, fried chicken...mmmm...

EDIT: Damn! All the evacuees are going to West Allis, Milwaukee, and Kenosha.
|| Palmer, 2:23 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Fighting Bob Fest

This coming saturday is Fighting Bob Fest IV!

Fighting Bob La Follette was a judge and Governor of Wisconsin as well as U.S. Congressman and Senator for our great state in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. He was a proponent of free speech during wartime and a strong opponent of big business. "La Follette used Chautauquas to bring people together to discuss the political issues that affected their lives. He recognized the power of informed citizens who were engaged in the political process. He utilized the momentum gained from his Chautauquas to help beat down the political corruption that resulted from concentrated wealth. He took on the railroad tycoons and other corporate tax dodgers and sought an end to their monopolies." (A "Chautauqua" is "the name given to travelling tent shows which originated in the USA.") And so Fighting Bob Fest is a modern-day Chautauqua.

There will be a host of speakers and various discussion sessions in addition to beer. Last year, Jim Hightower bought a beer for Kias so I'm gonna try to get Amy Goodman to buy him one this year. On the docket this year are Jim Hightower, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, my Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, my Senator Russ Feingold, John Conyers, et al. Come on out and I'll buy ya a beer and talk smack!
|| Palmer, 1:40 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Madison: No Longer Just a Backwater Berg

I find it odd that, in the wake of 9/11 and multiple airline bankruptcies, the airport here is now larger and a traveler can reach more destinations non-stop. Isn't the airline industry down the shitter? Yet the Dane County Regional Airport is getting bigger and busier and offering more flights. The total square footage in the passenger terminal has grown from 126,000 in 2001 to 278,000 - more than doubled.

Three new baggage carrousels were installed
Six new rental car counters
The AC system was replaced
More waiting areas were installed
The ticket lobby was expanded
And the exterior was rehoolied with prairie landscaping, a new arbor, and the drop-off walkway was covered.

In 2002, 1.5 million passeengers passed through the airport. As for destinations, one can now grab a non-stop flight to:

Chicago (O'Hare & Midway)
Milwaukee
St. Louis
Minneapolis
Detroit
Cincinnati
Denver
Cleveland
Memphis
Newark

The most recent additions:
Washington D.C.
Dallas/Fort Worth
Orlando

And, starting next month, Las Vegas.

From some ads I've seen, one-way flights for these new destinations can be had for as cheap at $60. Now, I grant you folks in Chicago that the Dane Country Regional Airport is no O'Hare where one can grab a non-stop flight to Warsaw, but all this means something is going on. I suppose demand for these destinations has increased - so who's flying there? Well, the top 8 passenger markets are: New York (LaGuardia), Denver, Orlando, Washington (National), Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Dallas/Ft. Worth. Now I see why the latest non-stops were added; apparently there truly is a large enough demand. Vegas and Orlando make sense as vacation destinations and various folks must go to D.C. in order to have confabs with the government but who are all these people going to Dallas? Who are these people that keep traveling? The population of Madison is growing, to be sure, but I'm thinking it's not the folks from Mexico that bus your table or clean your office that are taking these flights.

Speaking of Madison's population, I found some data.

Madison 2000: 208,054
Madison est. for 1 Jan 05: 221,735
Dane County 2000: 426,526
Dane county est. for 1 Jan 05: 458,297

And so Madison's population grew by 13,681 in the past few years. About half of this increase is accounted for by migration. I couldn't find anything specific to Madison about population growth by race but the statewide trend is for increases in Hispanic and Hmong populations. It is entirely possible that the percentage of white folk in this town has dropped to 87%!

I've only lived here for about 15 years but the city has certainly changed quite a bit in that time. With the construction of the convention center, downtown became all upscaled and yuppified meaning that some good taverns were lost to make way for very expensive restaurants. The surrounding area is being gentrified and overrun by new apartment complexes and condos. State Street, the drag which connects downtown with the University of Wisconsin campus is now quite dull. (Except when there are riots on Halloween.) The eclectic assembly of local shops and eateries is almost gone and has been replaced by Gaps and chain restaurants. But there's the Overture Center. A philanthropist gave the city a ton of cash to build an arts district downtown and so they built the Overture Center which, when complete, will house a few theaters and a museum or two. I'll wait to pass judgement until it is fully armed and operational. This shouldn't be too much longer - I think the final phase of construction will be completed in early 2006. We shall see if all those yuppies buying downtown condos are into the arts like they're supposed to be. My only gripe about the joint it that they kept the fascade from the old Capital Theater and it severely clashes with the new plain exterior of the rest of the complex. The only thing that doesn't seem to have changed is that businesses still won't locate themselves downtown. American Family bought a business park on the outskirts of town, Epic moved to nearby Verona (yet it is Madison that is going to provide bus service), Ray-o-Vac left the state - it seems that every new building that goes up has condos and retail space but precious office space. As a side note, I have to say that the Marina Condominiums that have gone up just down the street from here is one of the ugliest buildings ever. The architect ought to be drawn and quartered. The whole exterior is metal and looks like a monstrosity from the 1950s when everything had to look like a NASA orbiter. Seriously, this is one ugly piece of shit on our skyline. (And people bitch about Archipelago Village!) Keeping in line with it's horrid 50s look, I hereby re-name it Marina Condorama. The near-eastside Willy Street neighborhood used to be the haven of folks who never left the 1960s - hippies galore. While that element is certainly still there, new apartments are going up and, being on the isthmus with lakefront properties, housing costs have skyrocketed. Soon it too will be another generic yuppieville.

I haven't mentioned the west side because, well, I hate it. Having only been developed in the past 20 or so years, it's a sub-divided wasteland of malls, chain restaurants, and new office complexes. True nieghborhood taverns are unheard of. It lacks character and is ugly -think Naperville, Illinois. Campus is another story. Buildings on campus are going up hand over fist. Corporations are apparently donating lots of cash for research. Stem cell research started here so the state is throwing in a lot of money to get researchers to stay here and attract others. It wants high-tech biomedical money and, to do so, our governor is proposing to spend $750,000,000 to do so. The campus is posed to get the Wisconsin Instuute for Discovery, a $375 million project. The University's art museum got a huge gift and is going to expand with another 60,000 square feet by 2009 and will be a part of the revival of the 1908 East Campus Mall project which entails knocking down a dorm and building new ones in addition to new classroom buildings. I guess the idea is to have a pedestrian mall extended from the southeast dorms to Lake Mendota. I'm now looking over a draft of the Univeristy's Master Plan and it's a doozy. Here's are some elements of it excluding transportation, utility, and infrastructure works:

--Redevelop lower east campus area related to the Arts & Humanities District
--Redevelop the area around and related to the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery including Union South.
--Redevelop area around Linden Drive, east of Henry Mall including all new facilities south of Linden Drive.
--Redevelop College of Agriculture & Life Sciences campus with new animal and plant sciences facilities.
--New School of Nursing Building on Lot 85 with underground replacement parking
--700 new beds of residential housing in Lakeshore Residence Hall complex
--Walnut Street Greenhouses Expansion
--New School of Veterinary Medicine Large & Small Animal Hospital on Lot 62 with underground replacement parking
--New Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies ‘Green Building’ on site of old University Health Services & Naval ROTC buildings
--Replacement for Engineering Centers Building at the corner of Engineering Drive and Randall Avenue
--New Wendt Engineering Library and social study space west of Henry Mall, south of Materials Sciences
--New academic facility on Spring Street between Orchard and Charter Streets
--New Nutritional Sciences building on the site of the Stovall State Lab of Hygiene
--Replace Van Hise with a new academic facility
--Redevelopment of the Nolan & Zoology block with new academic buildings with possible overhead connector to the existing Chemistry building over Johnson Street
--New research tower for Educational Research at the corner of Brooks and Dayton Streets
--Redeveloped University Square (partnership with private developer) for University Health Service, Student Organizations, Bursur/Registrar/Financial Aids offices (project also includes private underground parking, private retail on the first two floors and a private housing component)
--Redeveloped Arts & Humanities district with an addition the Elvehjem Museum of Art, a new Music performance facility and a new Music faculty, practice and teaching facility
--Redevelopment of the block east of the Kohl Center for the Art Department and Art Studios

And on and on and on. While this master plan is looking 20-30 years into the future, some of these projects are slated for the near-term.

I can now see why urban planning is a field of study on its own.
|| Palmer, 11:44 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post