Well, my vacation is over and I'm back to work today. Because my job is up on campus, I'm quite far enough from the convention and the protesters that I can't get away with working from home or fleeing the city. Darn. :) Things are slowing ramping up for the fall semester, and I have to say that I'm rather excited about my classes, particularly Ethnography and Participant Observation. Here's wishing everyone a happy and productive fall! Now if the weather would just start acting like it...
August 2004 Archives
You know, I realize that I do a lot of complaining on this blog, particularly about things that are well beyond my day-to-day control. Typical of a blogger, some would say. :) Anyway, I've been talking with friends recently about the overwhelming feelings of anger and outrage and disappointment towards events in the world that don't represent our views, and yet are not in our control. I wonder how much of this is attributable to our age and relative inexperience in the world, i.e. a few years out of college and slowly learning how the world really works. Action is obviously one cure for the feelings of being out of control, but I know that it's not a reality for me to mount large scale protest or relief efforts. I am finding that for me, though, it's been helpful to contribute to efforts that I feel strongly about even on a small level. For example, rather than throwing away the unsolicited mail I get from Amnesty International or the ACLU, I've been reading through it and sending in letters or small contributions where appropriate. Many times these and similar organizations give one the opportunity to do something very easily that will have an impact, like signing a card for wrongly-held prisoners which one then drops back in the mail. It may not be a large-scale effort, but it is a contribution, an action, and is somewhat (perhaps selfishly?) satisfying on that level. All of which is a long way of saying that I think that we - leastways, me - sometimes get caught up in the large and forget that the small can also be empowering and effective.
only three of the city's 12,487 yellow cabs are accessible, meaning that someone in a wheelchair has about one chance in 4,162 of hailing an accessible minivan.
Good lord!!! It seems that the busses are the only large-scale option for handicap transit in the city, and let me tell you they are not the most convenient way to get around if you're in a hurry. That's just appalling. Glad to hear that the city is considering doing something to address the issue, a first step at least.
I'm catching up with two months of magazines that didn't get forward to Vermont like I nicely asked the post office to do (damn you, US Postal Service!). In Harper's I came across an article called The Poison Stream: Sacrificing India's poor on the altar of modernity. It focuses on the poisoning via pesticides of villagers near cashew plantations in Kerala, in the context of the modernization of India. The most horrifying fact was relayed in a footnote to the article:
It was just after midnight, December 13, 1984, when an explostion at a Union Carbide pesticide plant adjacent to the station sent a cloud of vaporized methyl isocynate, heavier than air, billowing across this very platform. Hundreds died within the station, hundreds more on an express that had pulled in to meet the cloud. Rescuers found them piled like trees felled by a hurricane...Fifteen thousand were left dead, half a million blind, mad, crippled."
I did a Google search on bhopal union carbide, and the first result, www.bhopal.com, takes you to a site owned and maintained by Dow Chemicals, who now own Union Carbide. Unless you're looking for the copyright info at the bottom of the page, it very much looks like a Bhopal info site. According to an informational page on the History Channel website,
The Indian government, famous for its corruption, has yet to distribute roughly half of Union Carbide's original settlement. Union Carbide, which shut down its Bhopal plant after the disaster, has failed to clean up the site completely, and the rusty, deserted complex continues to leak various poisonous substances into the water and soil of Bhopal.
This sort of thing makes me mad. The web is a powerful medium for communication and, lest we forget, misinformation, and it can be manipulated just like anything else. For me, this sort of thing screams out the need for some sort of critical approach to web surfing and living on the web.
- out with friends in Soho, stumble across the Vosges chocolat boutique, having it's one year anniversary party = free chocolate and wine. omg, so good. my favorites: the curry truffle and the liquified white chocolate parfumé avec lavender and somethingelse. Chocolate lover's dream, died and gone to heaven.
- drink coffee at a café and watch a man with a (live) parrot perched on his hat stop and chat with a customer. later pass the man on the street, only to have the parrot whistle as I walk by (a two-tone whistle, mind you).
- see a totally demented play featuring my semi-demented cousin at the Hell Festival in Brooklyn. have drinks in the back garden of a restaurant. with trees, and flowers. yummy drinks in semi-nature.
In no particular order:
2. off roading
3. sounds of nature
4. actually, nature
5. movies, movies, movies
7. slower, casual pace o' life
8. witty bumper stickers
Things I will not miss about Vermont:
1. slower, casual pace of life
3. rain = nothing to do
Yesterday, the interim Iraqi government announced a permanent solution to crime: They're reinstating capitol punishment. Hey, it's an unelected, unaccountable government without a functioning justice system and the ability to kill whomever it deems guilty! That seems familiar somehow.
I came across an interesting article on the BBC site about how the world press views Kerry and the upcoming election. It's essentially a bunch of quotes taken from French, Spanish, Czech, Russian, and Middle Eastern newspapers. It was really informative to do a side by side comparison of how Kerry is viewed in different countries, and also what the major issues for those countries are in the election. The translations were provided by BBC Monitoring.
A new book with a rather clever title (Better Off: Flipping the switch on technology) describes the author's experience of living without technology for 18 months. His discovery, which you can listen to on On Point:
"the people up at dawn and working with their hands on the farm have more leisure time than plugged-in, turbo-charged city folks working 9-to-5. And it is the very "time-saving" technology itself, he concludes, that often robs people's free time."
No kidding, sherlock. We've all seen the folks who are slaves to their cell phones. The simple solution to that one, in my mind, is to either not answer every call or turn the damned thing off sometimes - thereby reducing expectations that you are available at every moment of every day. Of course, this is an attempt to work within the existing societal fabric. The author, Brende, actually has to move to a community of people interested in the same thing (The Village?) in order to satisfy his nostalgic longing for a time when there was less invasive technology. And that, my friends, is just not realistic. To me, it's not so much a matter of being better off, but learning to live close to your own ideals within the broader society.
This is by far the coolest thing I've seen in a while: newsmap. It attempts to organize the Google News headlines visually, in two ways: using color to indicate the category (sports, religion, etc) and freshness of the story, and size to indicate the number of related stories. The result is a series of visually stunning bands of color that give you a quick guide to what's popular in the news. Also cool, you can select the categories that you want to see (don't like sports? turn it off! but then you wouldn't get the lastest on Nomar's defection to the Cubs...) as well as the country of origin for the news (France, Australia, Germany, India, etc.) I'm really impressed, and I think it will be more useful to me than scanning down the text of the Google News page.
I have defeated the Trogdor! (or at least come as close as humanly possible) I'm so proud of myself, my first video game (since I was like 8). Full disclosure, I did have a little help from a friend. Totally fun though. I came across a cheat sheet on Metafilter this morning (after I'd finished, of course :)). And in a totally non-essential reveal, I just found out that if you type in "die", you die. Too funny.
...is up and ready for action. I've only spent a few minutes playing, and am somewhat stymied by my lack of experience with games like it. But even if you don't get very far on your quest, it's a freaking riot. The throwback touches are great, and Homestar-like humor abounds. Type something crazy into the text prompt - get baby, when you're talking to a woman with a baby in her arms, for example - and you'll get a snappy, sarcastic answer in return. I can already tell that I'm going to spend wayyy to much time exploring the game world. Now if only I can figure out how to get past that damn knight! (hints are most welcome! I can tell you where to get some rocks, and where the secret cool thing is hidden...)