Thursday, September 30, 2004

Presidential debate

I'm not a fan of John Kerry. I don't agree with him on all of his policies, maybe not even most. I definitely disagree with him on many. Depending on who is on what ballot in November, I will almost certainly vote for Cobb (Green Party) or Nader.

But damn, Kerry absolutely wiped the floor with George W. Bush in the first debate.

"I mean, this is the president who said 'There were weapons of mass destruction,' said 'Mission accomplished,' said we could fight the war on the cheap -- none of which were true."

"I made a mistake in how I talk about the war, but the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?"

When Bush declared Iraq the central front of the war on terror, Kerry replied: "Iraq was not even close to the center of the war on terror before the president invaded it."

Bush, awkward and bumbling, could just repeat the same tired statements. Kerry is a flip-flopper without a clear position, the world is safer without Saddam Hussein, and so on. If elected, at least Kerry would be a foot in the door for the good guys, simply by defeating Bush.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

"You're fired!"

I was watching The Apprentice and thinking that it's weird how a show that is so compelling and entertaining can at the same time be strangely abhorrent. These people basically represent the worst of unchecked capitalist society: bloodthirsty and willing to do anything to get to the top, schmoozing on caviar while a few blocks away some homeless guy asks for a quarter. Maybe that's part of what is so fascinating about it.

I will never be those people, not only because I will never have the opportunity, but because I would never take it. I don't want to be rich. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would take what I need to live and ensure that my family will live, and donate every remaining cent to a variety of charities. Sure, I'd live comfortably, but not extravagantly. Maybe the equivalent of $100,000 a year income in today's dollars at most. Certainly no more. Possibly less. If I had two kids, that would be $25,000 per capita per year.

In the meantime, it's great fun to watch these people bicker and fight, but also pull off some crazy stuff in two days time.

Monday, September 27, 2004


We were watching a Law and Order: SVU rerun tonight, and it had one of the most convoluted plots ever. A girl is murdered and there is evidence of sex. Everyone says she didn't have a boyfriend, and her choir teacher left his previous job for seducing a minor so he's the suspect. They catch the teacher screwing her best friend and his prints are on condoms that the victim had. The friend says the victim used the teacher's apartment to sleep with her boyfriend. The examiner finds out that the victim was pregnant and the DNA test shows that the father was closely related. Her dad was out of town, she has no uncles or cousins, and the test comes back negative on the brother. Then her boyfriend's father is murdered. They put the pieces together: the boyfriend's father is also her father, so her boyfriend was her brother. The father had lived two lives. Nearly ever person in both families is a suspect at one point or another, and ultimately we learn that she died by slipping accidentally, and the boyfriend's "mom" killed the father when she learned the whole story.


Sunday, September 26, 2004


The Turkey City writer's workshop is going to be on October 30, the day after my wedding. This isn't a problem; we're not going on a honeymoon immediately. The problem is that, unbeknownst to me, there is limited space, and I RSVP'd too late. In other words, I didn't get in. I can still rub elbows and hang out at the after party, but I missed my shot at the critiques. Worse still, Bruce Sterling is moving to California. I can get in on the next Turkey City, but he won't be there. There are plenty of other good writers there to work with, but it would have been neat to have one of my favorite authors critique my work!

Ah, well . . .

Krispy Kreme

I want some.

Funny thing, time

I am amazed at how fast the days are flying by. I'm finding that my old ways have stopped being enough to organize myself. It used to be I would work whenever it came up and have little bits of time scattered throughout the week to take care of all of the other things I wanted to do. Blogging, for instance. I'd recognize that I have, say, two hours break and I'd better write or something.

But now I have a regular job, and it's weird that with a regular schedule it seems easier for me to just come home and vegetate for five hours and go to sleep. Without the "deadline" of work, I feel like I can put things off, and then I never get around to them because my sleeping patterns are changed as well.

So, I'm trying to come up with a regular schedule for the rest of my life, too, not just work. I want to do so many things, and I've just got to find a slot for them. I need at least a good hour a day to write, probably another hour for "recreational" web-surfing and blogging, I'd like to start working out a solid three times a week, plus the usual eating, sleeping, and whatnot. Not counting my continued interest in reading and watching the many recorded shows that accumulate while I'm away.

Just thinking out loud here, I know everyone else has all these same things, or their own. Actually, a lot of people probably have a lot more on their plates to juggle. I guess the one thing I really want to make time for is the writing . . . whatever the odds, I can't let that slip away because of other things. Writing is my career, even if it hasn't started yet. Anything else can't be more than a day job.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


In the week and a half I've substituted, I've noticed something. At least half of every class I've taught has been Hispanic, usually more like 80%. This doesn't particularly bother me, but I do wonder why.

Is it that Austin really has such a large Hispanic population? Possibly, but certainly not in every neighborhood. My own daily experience suggests that the students are overrepresented. Perhaps there are proportionally more wealthy white students who are sent to private schools, but this trend applies all over the country and there were plenty of white kids in my public schools.

I think the answer is slightly more sinister. I think that some teachers (who are generally white) don't particularly like teaching poor Hispanic kids that act up and feel that they need a break every now and then. Meanwhile, the teachers in the classrooms full of middle-class white kids aren't under as much perceived stress and tend to be absent less frequently. As a result, my comrades and I are more often called into the Hispanic classes. If this weren't Texas, I might notice a similar majority of black students.

It is true, in my limited experience, that the lower a student's apparent socioeconomic status the more prone they are to cause trouble, and the literature is rife with explanations for that phenomenon. I guess the real problem is that in our laissez faire society these Hispanic families have to remain poor and thus breed the behavior.

Monday, September 20, 2004


Not much more to say.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Now playing

We went to see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow last night. It was every bit the visual spectacle one would imagine. Fine acting, too. I wouldn't call it the best movie ever made, but it was a good one.

That leaves four movies in theaters that I want to see: Hero, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Collateral, and Code 46. I am particularly interested in Innocence and Code 46, being the dork that I am.

The latter, if you aren't familiar with it, is a British film starring Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton. It is the near future, where cloning and in-vitro and other reproductive technologies have necessitated a law--Code 46--requiring genetic compatibility testing for romantic partners. Robbins is a detective who, while away on a case, falls in love with a woman and inevitably gets tangled in a cyberpunk quagmire centered around the aforementioned law.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


When I don't have a substitute job pre-arranged in the morning, I have to get up at 5:00 to check what's available. When my alarm went off this morning, I turned it off and promptly returned to sleep until 7:45. Instant accidental vacation!

In other news, our old printer died and forced us to buy a new one. We got an HP PSC 1315, an all-in-one printer-scanner-copier that only costs $100. It's working fine and so far the copy function has already proven useful. As with having a DVR, you quickly wonder how you ever got by without one.

Monday, September 13, 2004

First day of class

Well, I was a substitute teacher for the first time today. It was simultaneously easier and harder than I expected. Easier because as the teacher school just goes by pretty quickly. The teacher had two "off" periods, so I worked from 8:30-4:00, but had two and a half hours off throughout the day. I brought a book with me. But the day was harder because I underestimated the lack of respect the students would have. The problem was, I had no teeth. Because of an administrative mix-up, I was sent to a school that didn't need me, so then I was shuffled over to another school that did. I didn't get to ask what the disciplinary procedures were or anything. So I just took down names to give to the regular teacher, but I don't think the kids even believed I was doing it. One period in particular was full of "thugs" (granted, these were only eighth graders) and they just didn't do anything. Hopefully, the teacher will punish them tomorrow, because she definitely got a list.

I also quit Olive Garden. If I would have gone in there today, I would have probably earned about half what I made teaching, based on past experience. Working there is costing me money any day I could be teaching instead. The good news is: I now have complete control of my schedule. I have weekends off, and if I need a day off during the week, I just don't pick up a substitute position that day. Aside from the actual work, it's a dream.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Good time

Rachel and I had a good time sitting on the outdoor deck of Mozart's coffeehouse and watching the ducks and turtles swim by in Lake Austin during sunset last night. It's not the best coffee in town, but it's good enough and you can't beat the view. Nice canolis, too.

I wish we had brought our camera.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Pet peeve

Badly is an adverb. It describes the verb it follows. If somebody had a personal tragedy, don't say, "Well, I know everybody feels badly for you."* This means that everybody is feeling emotions incorrectly. If how you feel is bad, you feel bad, not badly.

Yes, I have a degree in English.

* Overheard at work today.


I just joined Critters, an online writer's workshop for science fiction, fantasy, and horror. As long as you critique other people's work that comes through, when you submit a story, it will get critiqued as well. 4,000 members. Should be fun and helpful!

In other writing news, I've developed a few more story ideas, and I'm retooling my current work-in-progress from a whole new angle. I think I chose the wrong protagonist for the story I wanted to tell. I needed someone with more to lose.

Thursday, September 9, 2004

The Demon-Haunted World

Last night, on a whim, I started rereading Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World. It's been about four years since I first read the book, and I have matured as a reader since that time. While before I thought it was a good book, I now think it is a great book. Quite possibly one of the best non-fiction books I've ever read. I would strongly encourage anyone who hasn't read it to do so.

The Demon-Haunted World is a book about skepticim and wonder, the two central components of science. More importantly, the book is about moving forward as a culture in an honest way. To paraphrase the author, I'd rather know the painful truth than a pleasant lie. The book's subtitle, Science as a Candle in the Dark, puts it quite nicely.

Carl Sagan was one of the greatest popularizers of science, and I can't recommend his work enough. The Demon-Haunted World is certainly the most in-the-moment relevant, but all his books are fantastic.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Um, yeah

You might notice I have a generic Blogger template for my blog now. That wasn't my plan, I am just an idiot and screwed around with things without backing up the original.

My bad.

Woe is me

Blogger had a simultaneous failure across multiple machines responsible for publishing blogs; hence, my post from yesterday only now shows up. Woo.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Labor Day

Well, Labor Day was yesterday, and I wonder how many of the people who enjoyed their day off even gave a second's thought the the reason it is celebrated: labor unions and the socioeconomic achievements of the working class. It is essentially a socialist holiday, about all of the things the left stands for. How many right-wing ideologues realize that?

Sunday, September 5, 2004


Somehow working for six hours seems like working for twelve hours when you expect to be out in four. Standing, walking, running, lifting, and trying to be polite doesn't make it any easier.

Friday, September 3, 2004

World citizenship

I just had an interesting and educational IM chat with a man from Turkey. It is so fun to get an outside perspective. He is a deist and a socialist, which was cool, and he described how everyone in Turkey hates socialists and calls them the devil, and how the police hit them but leave everyone else alone. And they hit people who wear Che Guevara t-shirts. We hit Fahrenehit 9/11, the crisis in Chechnya, and mandatory military service.

p****: please be help this world dont forget your past when you be in work future

p****: you are realy human bro

ryanmcreynolds: thank you

p****: this world need guys like you

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Dangerous minds

I had my orientation/training for substitute teaching with Austin ISD today. Everything went well. It's about what you would expect. I should be able to start actually working in about two weeks, but--and this is fantastic news for people planning a wedding--because we're paid monthly and my first day will be after the September pay period ends, I won't get my first check until October 29! I think there is going to have to be some creative financial sleight-of-hand going on in the near future.


Wednesday, September 1, 2004


I can't say I'm really surprised that the Republicans are still going on about the war and how gosh-darned great it was, and how much safer we all are because of it. What does surprise me is that they continue to portray the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq as if it were a logical extension of the war on terror. To hear Republicans tell it, Iraq was simply another front in a neverending war. I heard a woman on NPR still repeating the tired lie that Iraq and Al Qaeda were strongly connected, and that we were in imminent danger. Do they still believe? Idiots.


I enjoy anime. I'm not really "into" it, and really I haven't seen that much of it. I know that I don't usually like the fantasy-themed anime, but I definitely dig the science fiction. One of my favorites was Ghost in the Shell, and now Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is set to come out in theatres this month, so I'm pretty excited about that. What I find interesting (and not unusual in anime, if I understand things correctly) is the relationship between the movies, the Stand Alone Complex series (which will be airing on Cartoon Network), and the manga (comic books). There are two manga series, one a sequel to the first. The first anime film is a partial adaption of the first manga, but the second film has nothing to do with the second manga. Meanwhile, Stand Alone Complex is basically another sequel to the events of the first manga/anime, but assumes that the actual main plot never happened, so as to leave the characters as they were when the whole thing started. So there are three different versions of what happens to everyone.

On second thought, I guess it's really not that different from adaptions of American comic books. For example, there have been a handful of animated Batman series, the Adam West live-action series, the Burton movies, the Schumacher movies, and now the Nolan movie, none of which really fit together.