Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Before I saw Avatar . . .

Before I saw Avatar, I believed that science fantasy action romance movies were just science fantasy action romance movies, and that popcorn was just popcorn; now I see that science fantasy action romance movies are just science fantasy action romance movies and popcorn is just popcorn.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Last Day of the Term

Thursday was the last day of class for this term for me.
Yes, I was up late Wednesday night finishing my term project and preparing to give my in-class presentation; yes it was lame, but some of the others were worse, so . . .

Monday, October 12, 2009

Goodwill tour

Rode my bike to Radio Shack, and then stopped in at Goodwill on the way home; scored a 100% wool vest, a nice copy of Ray Troll's Shocking Fish Tales, and a cd of Carmina Burana. Also spent a couple of dollars at the do-it-yourself carwash, to wash the buildup off of my chain and gears (followed with a few drops of nice, clean, fresh, chain oil).

Friday, October 2, 2009

My Essay That Didn't Win Anything

I wrote an eight-page essay for a scholarship contest. It didn't win.
Here are two paragraphs from my essay that didn't win anything:

Human society is a complex system, which is to say, it is not predictable; in order to know what the effect would be of a given input, it is necessary to actually experiment and find out what happens, which in turn changes the system such that if the experiment were repeated, it might have a different outcome. Not to assert that society is utterly chaotic and completely unpredictable; of course it isn't. The people of a society are able to feel secure that certain things will remain the same from day to day; this is one of the functions of a society. People within the society work to keep the society alive and functioning, there are necessary roles which support society; for instance, food production and distribution is necessary in any society, from hunter-gatherer, to complex post-industrial. In our society, that is, Portland, Oregon, we depend on a technologically advanced infrastructure to support our way of life. We need roads and houses and electrical power and computer networks. And these require constant maintenance, and this maintenance is done by the people of the society; thus they impact society, and society impacts them.
Not everyone works directly on the maintenance of the technological infrastructure. It is safe to say, I think, that most people don't, and some people are not even aware that it happens. I will add that maintenance of infrastructure is not the most important task imaginable, nor is it the defining element of civilization; the infrastructure is part of the foundation, it should not be the most interesting part of a society. Raising children and creating beautiful buildings and parks and making music and respecting the rule of law and enjoying one another's company are some of the things that happen in a healthy society. Those are the things that "make life worth living". Yet the infrastructure is necessary, in our modern society, to all those happy events. Without roads and communications networks and good drinking water the society would not have a place to be, and do those things, that show people at their best.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Buying Compact Discs

I like to buy music cds.
Online, or downtown on SW 13th, or in St. Johns at the Vinyl Resting Place.
The Best Band You Never Heard Of, a Frank Zappa album that I had read good reviews of, is one that I found recently. At $21.00, it was a big disappointment. Maybe it was a badly engineered copy? I like the Zappa music, mostly; Trance-Fusion, Shut Up and Play Your Guitar, Hot Rats; those are great albums. The Best Band, though, was so bad that I am afraid to listen to any Zappa albums right now.
-Update: 20 November; I listened to Guitar; totally awesome!

Etta James, The Right Time. Charlie Parker, In a Soulful Mood. I bought those today in St. Johns, and they are both awesome (if you like that sort of thing. and I do).


To Hell With Room 101

I saw a reference today to Room 101, which is of course the terrible place Winston Smith is taken to for the crime of being a protagonist in a dystopian novel. In Room 101, one is confronted with one's worst fear, and not in a good way that allows you to benefit from the experience and overcome your phobias, no, but in a bad way that forces you to betray someone close to you (if you didn't have someone close to you, someone would be provided, I suppose). This is clearly a waste of the fictional taxpayer's money. People aren't that tough, mostly. We find plenty of opportunities to be hurt, and to hurt others, without some special room, and some special technique, being devised to hurt us. In short, to hell with Room 101. And to hell with 1984. George Orwell wrote far better works than that, it's a damn shame that he is best known for that wretched horror story.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thousands Rally in Capital to Protest Big Government

I wrote to Jeff Zeleny, whose byline appears above the article at the New York Times online.
"A sea of protesters", really? A large sea? Or a small sea?
Yes, I realize that "sea of" is a figure of speech, with no particular amount being indicated. "Tens of thousands" is a similar figure of speech, connoting a number somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000. Recent anti-war protests have been much larger; 200,000, for instance, in one small city.
A more appropriate metaphor for a turnout of 20,000 would have been "lake", or perhaps "large puddle".
And who are Theo Emery and Ashley Southall?
Thank you
Marvin Hampton

Friday, August 14, 2009

We are not amused



Adding insult to injury; one hundred freaking dollars "bank fee" for helping the State help themselves to the money . . .

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