Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Michael Savage Quote

And now, a quote from the most insane of radio hosts:
"Just remember, the Romans fed the Christians to the lions, but it didn't happen overnight."

Always remember that, my son.

Random Thought

Appropos to nothing- saw a sign for some movie mentioning that it was nominated for the Best Actress Emmy or something like that, and wondered, what the heck is up with that?
In that, I can see having seperate contests between men and women in sports. Women have, as Mike will be pleased to point out, less strength than men, and a competition between the two would not be fair. But why for acting? It's not like there's a seperate Nobel Prize for best female literature or economics or some junk of that sort. To me, this smacks of the ludicrous "Equal Opportunity" drivel that feminists think is so darn special but is actually patronizing, crippling, and ludicrous. (I have recently been informed that I am a post-feminist because I hate feminism. So be it.) Why can't they just have an Emmy for Best Acting?
But of course, on further consideration, I realized that I had been launched into rant for nothing. The Emmy's are, essentially, a joke, a shared delusion in the heads of those who watch, a suspension of disbelief conspiring to make you think they matter. Rather like so-and-so's Top Ten Most Exciting People- it matters because they think it matters and they think it matters because they continually choose to do so. And so, of course, the more of these stupid things you make up the better- the more hype, the more excitement, the more close races. If they could get away with best Actor over 6 feet, they would do so.
Which still leaves the question why they can get away with this and not with Best Black Actor.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday Radio

Listening to Sunday radio is one of the saddest experiences in the world. It's all of these health or real estate shows that are just long commercials, couched in talk radio style. It's not just that they are dull and unconvincing, it's that I start to really think about the people who host them. Not the advertisers who are "interviewed"- that's fine, everyone has to do some PR- but the people who interview them.
Imagine that life- always pretending that you are doing real radio- constantly smarmy yes-manning without the dignity of an actual commercial. Do you think that they go to the bar after every show and try to drink themselves into forgetting what they do, forgetting the dreams they once had in broadcast school of being the next Cronkite or something, trying to convince themselves that it's just a job? Do you think they tell people what they do for a living, or try to keep it vague? "Oh yes, I'm in radio. Advertising, that sort of thing."
Or perhaps they go home to their wives and 2.4 children, proud of another day of work? Perhaps they tell themselves that they are helping people keep healthy or get a house? Perhaps they believe it, or perhaps their wives wonder why they are depressed and sullen when they have such a wonderful job.
Listening to it- the way that they ask the "tough" interview questions, their little jokes that the interviewees ignore, the times when the scripts don't quite seem to match and they have to keep trying to feed the right question, the constant dull enthusiasm painted in the garish colors of sincerity- it's listening to someone turn in his dignity, day after day after, dying by degrees. Plus it's extremely dull.
I don't listen to talk radio on Sundays anymore.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Possibly my new Candidate for Worst Song Ever

Now that I actually sit around doing homework, I've developed a need for background music beyond talk radio, as hours on end of talk radio tends to reduce me to homicidal annoyance. They all have the same blinking voice- and the same ideas and the same tactics- and they all think that they are special. The only distinguishable is Michael Savage and that is because he is regrettably not in possession of his sanity. But I digress
So I've taken to listening to shmais radio "Jewish streaming music". Most of it annoys me, but at least it can fade into white noise and sometimes there are really good songs. But not this one. It was entitled "Me and My Daughters Five" by Shweble, Shwarf, and Levine (Is that the name of a band or a law firm? Honestly, I should have seen the awfulness coming)
The song was about...the singer. And his daughters. He had five of them. And it went like this (I paraphrase) We were going to have a baby. Then we did. It was a girl. She was nice. But we wished we had a boy. Then we had another girl. She was nice too. But we needed a boy "to keep his sisters in their place" (We will not go into the grammar or the misogyny that could be read into that line. We will charitably assume that he needed a rhyme). Then we had another girl. Then two more. My girls are nice. I am "the happiest man alive, me and my daughters five". It was the sort of song that could be sung at someone's Bat Mitzvah. With everyone wearing those pained "oh, how cute" expressions. I mean, he complimented his daughters by name. Are they going to have to live through the Christopher Robin trauma in addition to having the world know that their father really wanted a boy.
And the rhymes! We will not discuss the rhymes. Suffice it to say that they did little to mitigate the ridiculousness of the subject. It really was the sort of thing that you would sing at Bat Mitzvahs. Not at weddings. The bride would put her foot down.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Geek Humor

When I was in tenth grade, I would write stories on my calculator. (Being a graphing calculator, it had an alpha pad. Once you do this enough, and trust me, there were enough boring classes to become quite proficient, you can type 15, 20 words a minute.) Anyway, most of the stories were about my calculator himself (His name was Fred. He had a bunch of little friends. He cried a lot), but one of the more odd ones was a romance-ish short story with chemistry facts. The last sentence, and heaven only knows why I still remember it, was "He remember the way she had looked at him, as she stood there in the doorway with tears on her cheeks like water molecules condensing on a vial of liquid nitrogen, and how she had said to him, in a voice caustic as hydrochloric acid, 'All you think about is chemistry.' But he knew that wasn't true." Granted, it was not Shakespeare, but it passed the boring classes.
Anyways, the reason I bring this up is that I have been accumulating, from my physics and calculus classes, phrases that were actually uttered that would make excellent book titles. Here goes:
Great Moments of Inertia- Sort of like all the kids' books Great Moments in Science or Sports or something, this book would feature the stories of various times when interesting things failed to happen. An exerpt "One day in 1565, while writing an essay on political theory, Jacques Pierreson came up with the idea that would change to course of French History for all time. Or at least, it would have, except that it sounded like a lot of effort, so he threw out the essay and went to sleep."
Lifetime of a Dampened Oscillation- this one could go a couple of ways. It could be another one of those kids' science books- tracing the life-cycle of an ordinary oscillation from its spawning point in a quiet spring to the point when it finally dies of air pressure. Or else it could be a brooding novel, Day in the Life of Ivan Illych style, where a slowly dying oscillation considers the impact of its life thus far.
Sizes of Infinity- probably the least entertaining of these purloined quotes. Something science fiction, and very typically so
Moebius Transformation- Not sure. Either a Frankenstein-like story or a touching tale of a child growing up in the wilds of the mathematical jungle
There were quite a few others that came up in class, but I either didn't note them in my notes or they aren't legible enough. Stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Chinese Temple

By the way- just figured out how to delete the heathen ruins in the corner of my blog. As Talia so sweetly pointed out, it did look like I was claiming that my words were not random, but pearls of wisdom dripped down upon me by some higher source through the means of some Zen-like meditation. Now that I have defeated it, all I need is a new picture to fill up that blank space in the corner. Any suggestions from the peanut gallery?

Palestinian Awareness Week

That's right, it's that happy time again- Palestinian Awareness Week on the U of C campus. I had never been aware that there was such a week, but why not? It also happens to be a "love your body" week, being pushed by the Hillel, so apparently there is no cause too silly to get a week of its own.
I'm not entirely sure how to relate to this week. Obviously, the tendancy is to simply ignore it, but careful Israel Advocacy training sessions (yes, our seminary actually had those) scream at me to do something. Not that it would do any good- in fact, it would just seem petty, vicious, and counter-productive. But still.
One of the events for the week is a speech, on the topic "Will the "Gaza disengagement" really lead to peace?" Now, this could go either way. In my fantasies, I suppose it would focus on the impossibility of peace in a country run and dominated by crazy terrorists. In my more bitter expectations, it focuses on Israel's continued this or that. (For some reason, I don't think the answer is simply yes. That tends to make for a short speech. Funny how that sort of thing always works out. Someday I should advertise a speech with a topic like "Can the disengagement really bring about peace", walk into the room, say "yup" and then wander back out. Not that I think that it can, or at least, is at all likely to. But I digress.) I must confess, I wonder about the quotation marks. What, is the term "Gaza disengagement" really a controversial one? In my somewhat limited experience, the people who weren't calling it that were calling it the transfer or the evacuation or the racial cleansing...
There are also various cultural shows, movies, etc, planned. One of them, a movie called Amo's children, is about some woman whose theater group "engaged children from Jenin, helping them to express their everyday frustrations, anger, bitterness and fear. Arna’s son Juliano, director of this film, was also one of the directors of Jenin’s theatre. He filmed the children during rehearsal periods from 1989 to 1996. Now, hegoes back to see what happened to them."
Again, it could be fascinating. It could be saccharine. It could be a lot of things. But it probably is going to be blaming all of that "frustration, anger, bitterness, and fear" on a certain someone, and I don't think that it's going to be Mr. Arafat, either.
Suddenly noticed tonight that in the background of the posters scattered around campus and the dorm is a map of Israel. The entire Israel, from sea to sea. Interesting, no? I'm not sure whether the week is to be aware of Palestinians, in which case I can see portraying them as living in the entire Israel, or of Palestine, in which case that really, really worries and frightens me. Not that there is anything I would do about it, per se.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Eternal Question

Well, not quite eternal- around three weeks now, but how knows? It might turn out to be eternal.
Why is it that people applaud for birthdays? Congrats, you survived another year? Well done, we didn't think that you could do it? I mean, applause implies approval- what are we approving here? On the other hand, what are we supposed to do at an announcement of a birthday? Shout happy birthday? surely not sing it? Or simply give a nod of acknowledgement?
Which leads to the bigger question surrounding birthdays- what exactly are we celebrating? It's nice for everyone to have a day in the sunshine, but why the day they are born specifically? It wasn't like they had anything to do with the process.

Secret Confessions

I have a sad and shameful confession to make about the whole Miers debacle. I was very disappointed with her appointment, but not for any lofty, cool political reasons. To be frank, and I don't know what came over me, but I didn't think about judicial policy, or what it would do the president, or even Roe V. Wade (Btw- stupid to pick people for immediate issues. 20 years from now, that's now going to be the issue. Heavens only know what is) Anyway- I was disappointed because she was boring. Roberts had been so clever, so fun, that I was spoiled. I had been hoping for somebody crazy and fun, maybe sparking a fillibuster, and Miers was simply a boring, nice, old lady who nobody could object to.
Even attacking her wasn't fun, because who thought that it would make any difference. Her being pulled- now that was fun. Sam Alito- maybe he'll be fun too. I mean yes, poor woman, political consequences, blah blah, but it was fun. And I'm afraid that I have been reduced to looking at the whole thing from that perspective alone. I know it's wrong, I know the supreme court is massively important, but I can't bring myself to care. There you go. What can I do? Does anyone else out there (she appeals to her huge audience) feel the same, or I am uniquely crazy here?