29 April 2010

GPSS Resolution

One day left to get this bargaining thing worked out, y'all. Support is coming in from all over the country. For a partial list (and to read some of them!) check out the Student/Worker Coalition blog here.

I just wanted to throw this resolution out there for y'all to read. Passed by the Graduate & Professional Student Senate yesterday. Original document linked to from UAW website here.

Title: RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF UAW LOCAL 4121 BARGAINING EFFORTS

Sponsored by: Lindsay Morse (GPSS Secretary), Jake Faleschini (President), Sean Schneider (Genome Sciences), Charles Plummer (Earth and Space Sciences), Trond Nilsen (Industrial and Systems Engineering), Ashli Baker (Classics), Naomi Campa (Classics), Sarah Reyneveld (Vice President), Shawn Mincer (Social Work), Aaron Naumann (Anthropology)

Written by: Lindsay Morse (GPSS Secretary)

Resolution Number: 05.09-10

WHEREAS UAW Local 4121 represents approximately 4,500 graduate and undergraduate Academic Student Employees (ASEs) at the University of Washington, many of which are constituents of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS); and

WHEREAS ASEs (Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, Tutors, Graders and others performing similar work) are responsible for much of the critical frontline work that makes the University of Washington (UW) an internationally recognized institution of higher education: conducting research that helps bring $1.15 billion in grants and contracts into the University; providing more than half of the instructional contact hours to the 42,000 undergraduates who attend UW; and helping to make UW competitive in attracting first-rate students from all over the world; and

WHEREAS collective bargaining rights for ASEs were legislated by the Washington State Legislature in Olympia in 2002; and

WHEREAS ASEs on campus make approximately $15,000 per year on average—an amount that is several thousands of dollars below the “Self Sufficiency Standards” for one adult living in King County in 2009, and tens of thousands of dollars below the Self Sufficiency Standards for the many ASEs with children; i and

WHEREAS the Local 4121 Bargaining Team is proposing increases to wages to keep up with cost of living—particularly rising costs of tuition and fees; improvements to the health insurance benefits to cover families more affordably and protect ASEs from extraordinary costs; and better student/instructor ratios by restoring cuts that were made to instructional positions in previous years; and

WHEREAS the budget for grants and contracts, which fund approximately 60% of ASEs, has been increasing and the UW brought in an additional $57 million last year in grants and contracts, with continuing grants already budgeting wage increases for ASEs; and

WHEREAS the cost of wage increases for ASEs that are not paid by grants is .1% of the UW operating budget; and the UW Board of Regents approved a 2.5% wage increase for ASEs last year at a cost of only $664,000; and

WHEREAS without increases, the wages paid to an ASE at the average yearly (9 month) rate drops by more than 5% per year due to student fees that must be paid as a condition of employment; and

WHEREAS Local 4121 members voted overwhelmingly (99%) in favor of the bargaining agenda; and

WHEREAS the current ASE contract is set to expire after April 30, 2010,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GRADUATE AND PROFESSIONAL STUDENT SENATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON:

THAT GPSS supports the efforts of the UAW Local 4121 leadership and bargaining team; and

THAT GPSS urges the UW Administration and the University bargaining committee to come to a timely and fair agreement on the new contract; and

THAT this resolution be forwarded to UW President Mark Emmert; UW Provost Phyllis Wise; the UW Board of Regents; Louis Pisano, Assistant Vice President of Labor Relations; Mindy Kornberg, Vice President for Human Resources; and David Parsons, UAW Local 4121 President.

Presented to GPSS Senate and approved on April 28, 2010 with 59 votes in favor, none opposed and 3 abstentions.


All y'all have a great night. I've got a belly full of gyro and I'm going to go get some sleep.

Whereas, whereas, whereas

Resolution passed without dissent at the UAW Local 4121 membership meeting last night:

Resolution of UAW local 4121 membership calling on the bargaining committee to call a strike.
04.28.10

Whereas UAW Local 4121 and the University of Washington have been in bargaining for two months without reaching a new collective bargaining agreement;

Whereas the University of Washington has the financial resources to resolve this labor dispute while making improvements to the benefits and compensation of UAW 4121 members;

Whereas the University of Washington’s corporate benefits administrators have made profits off of UAW 4121 members by agreeing to inflated health insurance premiums in order to receive kickbacks from the health insurance carrier;

Whereas the University of Washington’s top administration payroll has only increased as vulnerable workers, such as UAW 4121 members, have been forced to shoulder the burden of budget cuts;

Whereas the Student Worker Coalition at the University of Washington has called on a strike on May 3 after the expiation of the current UAW 4121 collective bargaining agreement with the University of Washington;

Whereas the lead bargainer for the University of Washington, Lou Pisano, circulated an email calling on management to retaliate against employees participating in job actions; thereby directly attempting to silence the membership;

Whereas other campus unions, including SEIU 925 and WFSE 1488, have already passed resolutions in support of a UAW 4121 strike.

Be it resolved that the membership of UAW 4121 calls on the bargaining committee to exercise the authority granted by the membership by a vote of 90% on February 26th, 2010 to call a strike if an agreement cannot be reached with the University of Washington;

Further, the membership urges the bargaining committee to seek strike sanctions from the Martin Luther King, Jr. County Labor Council, increase grassroots efforts to organize for a strike, and continue to reach out to other local unions for support.


Yup. So there's two days left to get this thing figured out. I really do hope that we get a fair new contract before this one runs out.

Primary issues still on the table (i.e. the U has refused to move on them thus far)...
-Healthcare
-Compensation for increased tuition and fees
-Childcare
-Tutoring and writing centers

Each of these things is kind of a big deal for TAs and for grad students in general. If we can't take care of ourselves, our kids, the classes we're teaching, if we don't have any kind of infrastructure supporting us... how are we supposed to do our jobs? How are we supposed to work on our own research?

And regarding the supposed 'wage increases' that the UW keeps trumpeting as an example of our being unreasonable: we're the only employees on campus who are required to pay tuition and fees as a condition of our employment. Tuition and fees are increasing dramatically every year, representing a straightforward cut to the amount of money that we're supposed to live on. We're asking, in other words, for the university not to cut our wages. Is that so unreasonable?

All y'all have a great day. I'm off to read about Lacan.

28 April 2010

Hot off the presses

Fresh from the UAW Local 4121 update page:

Bargaining Update: April 28, 2010

On Monday, April 26th we again met with the University’s bargaining team and a mediator from the state’s Public Employment Relations Commission.

As we approach the April 30th contract expiration, the University continues to refuse our settlement offer that:

a) Sets out a separate process for dealing with the mismanaged health insurance funds;
b) Uses money available from savings to next year’s health insurance plan to fund a fair, cost-neutral compensation package for ASEs. The University is maintaining its position that any compensation increase for ASEs – even one that is funded by savings from insurance – is unacceptable.

These conversations are ongoing, and we are meeting again with the University’s team along with the mediator on Thursday, 4/29. We will update you with developments.

In the meantime, thank you to all members who participated in the departmental meetings we held over the last two weeks across campus to discuss negotiations and possible next steps. Next, we will be holding a membership meeting on Wednesday, 4/28 at 5:30 in Gould 322, where we’ll provide a more detailed update on the bargaining process. All current members may attend membership meetings. Membership may be obtained at the meeting. As always, children are welcome.


Grah. Stuff makes me angry sometimes. I'm most definitely heading out to that meeting this evening. Sounds like it's just about time to push, and push hard, before the U chops our legs out from under us; the situation is a little bit better than it was a couple of months ago, but there's still a ways to go before we get any kind of reasonable contract... and there's not that much time left to get there.

I'll keep updating here as I get more information.

All y'all have a good afternoon.

(dear god... I almost wrote 'good night and good luck. I'm no Edward Murrow, though; don't feel like that's anything I've earned just yet)

27 April 2010

Quotes, quotes, everywhere...

From the closing paragraphs of this TMQ column:

I pound the table about minor government officials who are surrounded by security details not for any real need, but to make the minor officials feel important. Jay Olman of Philadelphia proposes that such persons be called "insecurity guards." And Mike Germano of Richmond, Vt., notes I referred to "Ellis Hobbes" of the Eagles, when Hobbs is correct. Most likely, he noted, the cornerback is no relation to the author of "Leviathan." TMQ supposes that if Thomas Hobbes were around today, he would call NFL players "nasty, brutish and tall."


...always gotta love a good Thomas Hobbes joke.

In other news, my class spent three hours this afternoon close reading a part of a book. We discussed (or, rather, the professor discussed and we nodded and took notes) such things as the protagonist's ridiculously long and angsty speeches, the supporting characters' ridiculously long and angsty speeches, the protagonist's ridiculously long and angsty dreams, and, for one extended period, an unnamed fellow professor who might or might not (we weren't quite sure) have at some point in the distant past have offered to buy our professor's wife a drink.

Thrilling stuff, I know.

An excerpt from a Woody Allen speech, courtesy of CEJ:

The trouble is, our leaders have not adequately prepared us for a mechanized society. Unfortunately our politicians are either incompetent or corrupt. Sometimes both on the same day. The Government is unresponsive to the needs of the little man. Under five-seven, it is impossible to get your Congressman on the phone. I am not denying that democracy is still the finest form of government. In a democracy at least, civil liberties are upheld. No citizen can be wantonly tortured, imprisoned, or made to sit through certain Broadway shows.

And yet this is a far cry from what goes on in the Soviet Union. Under their form of totalitarianism, a person merely caught whistling is sentenced to thirty years in a labor camp. If, after fifteen years, he still will not stop whistling, they shoot him.

Along with this brutal fascism we find its handmaiden, terrorism. At no other time in history has man been so afraid to cut into his veal chop for fear that it will explode. Violence breeds more violence and it is predicted that by 1990 kidnapping will be the dominant mode of social interaction.


You know, I sometimes get so caught up in his contemporary weirdness that I forget how legitimately funny he used to be.

I should get to my reading nowish. All y'all have a great night!

26 April 2010

Rain, rain, go away (or don't)

Hrem. So it's Monday night. Good day today, overall. Productive. Got some reading done, formulated some discussion questions, went to meetings, ate some food; nothing too out of the ordinary, but, on the same token, nothing bad, either.

It's raining outside. There's a surprise for y'all: rain. in Seattle.

Congrats to the Magic on making it through the first round! I'd like to note that (1) Dwight Howard is getting ridiculous calls made against him yet again - this is the second consecutive year that he's been consistently getting the short end of the stick - and (2) the Magic defense is ridiculous. Ridiculous, I tell you! Even when the refs are keeping Mr. Howard on the bench, Orlando is still locking Charlotte down.

Yup. Anyways - time for me to do a wee bit more work, then head in for the night. Running tomorrow morning earlyish!

A quick shoutout to SKH: congrats on the job and on the impending graduation!

All y'all have a great evening.

25 April 2010

Two Gifs walk into a Batman

Because it's a Sunday night and I'm too frazzled from reading essays on race and Gramsci to put thought into a serious post. Also tired. Probably heading to bed soon. Yes, I know it's barely 9:00.


Bouncy trouncy flouncy pouncy fun fun fun fun fun!


Awww... Bambi's all twitterpated OH MY GOD


na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na


Well, we didn't get dressed for nothing.


Here it goes, here it goes, and it's going the wrong way oh my gosh!


Have a great night, y'all.

22 April 2010

And now...

...because I get bored sometimes when I'm supposed to be making my discussion questions all shiny...

A quote from this article on the upcoming Pakistani film "Zibahkhana" -

Producers are almost certain “Zibahkhana” will not be approved for domestic release by Pakistan’s censor board. Nevertheless, both producer and director believe in the marketability of their project.

“We have a dwarf zombie,” says Tombs.

“They are definitely the first Muslim zombies,” Khan adds.

And it seems like everyone wants to see what Muslim zombies look like. “Zibahkhana” has been invited to submit to Sundance, with entry fees waived.


Dude. I mean, ...dude.

I should get back to work now. Peace out!

Great Success! ...kinda

Finally! We have a new update from the UAW local 4121 bargaining team! And it's kinda sorta mostly good news mostly in some ways!


Bargaining Update: April 21, 2010

We met with the University’s bargaining team again today, along with a neutral mediator from the state’s Public Employment Relations Committee.

Due to the consistent pressure being placed on the University both at the bargaining table and by members across campus, the University’s bargaining team today removed most of its takeaway proposals from the table in an effort to reach a quick settlement and deflect attention away from its mismanagement of our health care program. But the University is still refusing to be fully upfront about the $10.6 millions of dollars in overpayments to the health insurance companies and is still continuing to claim that—despite documentary evidence to the contrary—the money being overpaid to insurance carriers is not a matter for bargaining. Accordingly, the University has yet to offer us a meaningful response to our proposals on wages, health insurance, child care, and academic excellence.

Because there is still a significant amount of money available from overpayments to the health insurance carrier we’re continuing to seek a fair and reasonable settlement on our proposals. Today we explained to the mediator our understanding of the mismanagement of the health care plan and demonstrated that if the University were to bargain over this money our proposals would be cost neutral. We’re meeting with the University’s bargaining team and mediator again tomorrow, and will update you with developments.

Finally, due to the University’s continued reluctance to be upfront about the mismanagement of the health insurance program we filed an unfair labor practice with the state’s Public Employment Relations Committee on Monday. You can read an earlier letter we sent to the University informing them that they were engaging in an unfair labor practice as well as more information explaining the mismanagement of the health care program here:


In the words of Nute Gunray... "At last, we are getting results."

Still a lot of work to be done, but it's a start - and, finally, there's a sign that the UW is willing (even if only kicking and screaming) to compromise. Combine this with the whole UWPD infiltration incident, and you start to think that they might actually be worried about this whole 'power of the student body' thing. Hmm...

Eh. Let's get a little goofy for a couple minutes.



Finally - much respect and support for Teamsters Local 117 in their current tough time. It's important to be able to see a doctor if you need to, especially if you're handling garbage all the time.

All y'all have a good day.

21 April 2010

Something a little lighter

I figured, hey, I've been doing (relatively) serious stuff here for a few days, might as well have a little fun.

One of my heroes. Dude is seriously awesome.
(courtesy MB)


Because animals aren't actually people, but when they try to look like them, it's funny.
(courtesy ALA)


Because crimes against fashion are still occurring, even though it really isn't the 80s anymore. Seriously, dudes. It isn't the 80s anymore.
(courtesy LATFH)


And, finally, because rap music and Star Wars are awesome. Best couplet, to me: "Watch out kid, he's got lightning bolts to immolate / Uh-uh, hell no, daddy powers activate"
(courtesy OMG I'm a nerd. Also College Humor)


Yup. Good times all round. Unless you have six fingers on your right hand, in which case it kind of sucks. Sorry about that.

Anyways - went to a new layout for the blog, figured it might make it a little bit easier to navigate, plus it gives me a little bit more width (so pictures shouldn't get cut off, I can present more information on a given screen, etcetera). Hope y'all like it!

And all y'all have a great day.

20 April 2010

From the SWC

Excerpted from a release by the UW's Student/Worker Coalition:

Seattle, WA-- On Thursday April 8, students, workers, and instructors welcomed an unfamiliar face to a publicly advertised meeting for a campus-wide strike May 3rd. A woman who identified herself simply as “Tani" described herself as an "alum" of UW who was passionate about the cuts. She also said that her father worked with Waste Management and she was in the meeting to find out what the May 3rd strike committee was involved in with regards to the Teamsters' recent call for a strike. "Tani" actively participated in the planning meeting for a large-scale action demanding immigrant and worker justice, student access to UW, and smaller class sizes and writing center to improve education. The following week, however, student activists accidently bumped into “Tani” again—this time, though, as Officer Tanesha van Leuven of the UWPD. We have reason to believe that Tani was sent by the University of Washington to spy on the meeting.

The University of Washington has made police infiltration and intimidation its primary tactic for retaliating against workers and activists fighting privatization at UW. In the Fall and Winter of 2009, immigrant workers faced continuous harassment from the UWPD for talking with other workers about their working conditions, clearly violating labor law. That September, two women of color journalists and activists—a childcare worker and a pre-nursing student—were arrested after interviewing immigrant women workers during their break time about the challenges they face in the workplace. With layoffs and arbitrary shift changes being enforced by custodial services, many workers have experienced inhumane amounts of extra work and speed up. UWPD officers also often harass students who choose to organize within on-campus registered student organizations while they are handing out flyers, or even just walking on campus going to class. For example, last Tuesday, while passing out flyers and talking with students, two women graduate students were approached by a bike officer of the UWPD who told them “I wish I could arrest people for no reason.” These attacks, the violence perpetrated against activists in Seattle, Portland, and Olympia, the increase in police killing of unarmed people of color, and now the covert infiltration of a student group by UWPD raise serious and alarming questions about possible violence and surveillance against students and workers at the hands of the University and its police force.


I'm not one to hype things up... but there's serious business going on out there.

In other news, it's been two solid weeks since the UAW 4121 page has featured any kind of update on the ongoing negotiations. Kind of makes me nervous.

So far today... bike ride, six mile run, an hour of lifting, and some work on my essay for Thursday. Class in an hour (Goethe, already finished the book, which we're almost halfway through after three weeks of classes), then more reading and writing. I'm hoping to get some work in on my seminar papers this weekend, even if I rather would prefer not to. Hurrah for Bartleby.

Jason Webley is awesome. Amanda Palmer is awesome. I'm hoping to catch their show next month... we'll see if that happens.

Have a great day, y'all. I'm off to do a bit more reading / work before class.

Peace.

19 April 2010

God save the Queen



God save the queen
The fascist regime
They made you a moron
Potential H-bomb

God save the queen
She ain't no human being
There is no future
In England's dreaming

Don't be told what you want
Don't be told what you need
There's no future, no future,
No future for you

God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves

God save the queen
'Cause tourists are money
And our figurehead
Is not what she seems

Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
All crimes are paid

When there's no future
How can there be sin
We're the flowers in the dustbin
We're the poison in your human machine
We're the future, your future

God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves

God save the queen
We mean it man
And there is no future
In England's dreaming

No future, no future,
No future for you
No future, no future,
No future for me

No future, no future,
No future for you
No future, no future
For you


Hoooah.

Have a great day, y'all!

18 April 2010

Hi, my name is Mike...

and I'm a gamer. Not so much now as in previous years, perhaps - I spend my time now more with Goethe than The Covenant, more with literary theory than with the pixels and framerates of my (relative) youth. Still, though, I identify heavily with that genre, with that paradigm.

Which is why I can understand why so many folks are getting their hackles up about Roger Ebert's latest blog post, titled 'Video games can never be art', which is a response to a TEDtalk by Kellee Santiago. A few quotes to give y'all the gist if you don't feel like clicking through:

Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to enlarge upon it or defend it. That seemed to be a fool's errand, especially given the volume of messages I receive urging me to play this game or that and recant the error of my ways. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that in principle, video games cannot be art. Perhaps it is foolish of me to say "never," because never, as Rick Wakeman informs us, is a long, long time. Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form.

[...]

One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite a immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them.

She quotes Robert McKee's definition of good writing as "being motivated by a desire to touch the audience." This is not a useful definition, because a great deal of bad writing is also motivated by the same desire. I might argue that the novels of Cormac McCarthy are so motivated, and Nicholas Sparks would argue that his novels are so motivated. But when I say McCarthy is "better" than Sparks and that his novels are artworks, that is a subjective judgment, made on the basis of my taste (which I would argue is better than the taste of anyone who prefers Sparks).

[...]

Santiago now phrases this in her terms: "Art is a way of communicating ideas to an audience in a way that the audience finds engaging." Yet what ideas are contained in Stravinsky, Picasso, "Night of the Hunter," "Persona," "Waiting for Godot," "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock?" Oh, you can perform an exegesis or a paraphrase, but then you are creating your own art object from the materials at hand.

Kellee Santiago has arrived at this point lacking a convincing definition of art. But is Plato's any better? Does art grow better the more it imitates nature? My notion is that it grows better the more it improves or alters nature through an passage through what we might call the artist's soul, or vision. Countless artists have drawn countless nudes. They are all working from nature. Some of there paintings are masterpieces, most are very bad indeed. How do we tell the difference? We know. It is a matter, yes, of taste.


Yup. So. On one level, I agree with Mr. Ebert. The three games Ms. Santiago cites in her speech - Waco Resurrection, Braid, and Flower - are perhaps not great art. On another, though, I find it highly disingenuous to disqualify an entire medium from the possibility of ever creating any work of art because three cases which one person chose in an attempt to make a specific point are not great art, or, if you prefer, are not works of art which appeal to your particular (I will concede often highly refined) sensibilities.

Do I think that video games are art? Heck no. Do I think that films are art? An equally strong heck no. I believe that specific games can be art - I will leave for the moment the question of whether they can be 'great' art - in the way that specific films can be art. I also believe that there are specific films which have achieved the level of 'great art', and that there is perhaps no video game which has, as of yet, achieved that same level.

No medium, and especially no medium which is still relatively new, can be defined according to those works which with it have thus far been produced. This is, I think, where Mr. Ebert and Ms. Santiago differ. Mr. Ebert, as I read his argument, is claiming that, because no video game has yet been produced that strikes him as a great work of art, the medium itself is incapable of producing any work of art whatsoever. Another quote, from near the end of his post:

The three games she chooses as examples do not raise my hopes for a video game that will deserve my attention long enough to play it. They are, I regret to say, pathetic. I repeat: "No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets."

Ms. Santiago is arguing, yes, that the three games she cites are pieces of art - but she is not attempting to compare them with 'the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets' - she is, as I understand her argument, comparing them to the first acts of speech beyond shouted warnings, to the first scratchings on cave walls. She is not claiming that these are great works of art, but only that they show some of the medium's potential for use in new (and, perhaps, better) ways in the future.

I'd say again: a medium is not art. It is what is done with a medium - the specific works that are produced through it - that becomes art, or becomes great art.

Eh. I'm biased, and I'll admit it without qualms. Watch videos, think about it, tune in, tune out, drop in, drop out, switch on, switch off, explode. Have a great day, y'all. I'm gonna go read Hebdige.

Ms. Santiago's TEDtalk:


And, finally, three video game trailers.

Shadow of the Colossus


Assassins Creed II


Flower

17 April 2010

Books!

Yup. So the plan was to go on a bike ride today, head over to the Red Hook brewery, nice easy 30ish miles. That... never happened. We got derailed by a late start, a book sale, and several other factors, rain among them.

Still an awesome day, though!

I picked up a collection of John Cheever short stories, the Robert Stone novel Dog Soldiers, a copy of This Sex Which Is Not One, and a collection of Russian short stories which includes, among others, Gogol's The Nose.

I've been meaning to make this joke for a while now, in honor of Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский:

We all came out of Gogol's nose.

Sorry, MAD, JL, and anyone else who is touchy about profaning great literature with near-scatological humor.

How weird/sweet was it to see Amy Acker, Lee Majors, Timothy Omundson, and Armand Assante on this latest episode of Human Target? It's always a pleasure to run across Ms. Acker, and this was no exception. Her "I'm single and I live downtown" line after she demonstrated her facility with a handgun gave me happy Fred flashbacks. Also, Jackie Earle Haley is awesome.

So here's where I sign off for the night, go read for a bit, and fall asleep.

Have a great night, all!

The Beatles - Revolution

16 April 2010

Come down and join the circus...

[a warning before you begin: today's post
is disjointed and random.
fun fun fun!]

[and the most wonderful thing about Tiggers...]

Vermillion Lies - Circus Apocalypse


Isn't that just the sweetest little slice of dystopian, lurching, off-kilter cabaret you've ever heard in your life?

Anyways.

Vermillion Lies - Wednesday's Child


As it happens, I was born on a Tuesday. And, yes, I kept the video up, even though it's just a picture, just so that I could give myself an excuse to post this:



Yup. I actually begin to think that the picture might well have been the only reason I posted the song. Eh. Whatever. Completely worth it (and, yes, Zoe and Kim, I love you both equally).

On to the next one! On to the next one!

(sorry... my transitions are a little off today. I'm not sure why.)

Going on a bike ride in the morning - heading over to the Red Hook brewery and back. Plan is for a group of us good folk to head out, do the 30+ miles nice and sprightly, just generally get moving again. Er. Pedaling again. There's been plenty of movement.

Awww

I actually liked Xenocide a lot. If I had to rank the series:

1. Speaker for the Dead
1a. Xenocide
3. Ender's Game
4. Children of the Mind

To me, the events on Path are some of the best-written work that Card has done. Please don't stone me... though if you do so, I'd like to have Zombie Paul Newman hold the coats.

All y'all have a great evening! I'ma go make some dinner.

15 April 2010

Hentai is bad for you

For the innocent, a definition from Wikipedia:

Hentai (変態 or へんたい) is a Japanese word that, in the West, is used when referring to sexually explicit or pornographic comics and animation, particularly those of Japanese origin such as anime, manga and computer games (see Japanese pornography). In Japan it can be used to mean "metamorphosis" or "abnormality". The word "hentai" has a negative connotation to the Japanese and is commonly used to mean "sexually perverted".


I mean, I'm a generally accepting sort of fellow. My first, gut reaction, though, is something along the lines of 'ew.'

From a BBC article, there's even more reason for 'ew' now:

A new type of malware infects PCs using file-share sites and publishes the user's net history on a public website before demanding a fee for its removal.

The Japanese trojan virus installs itself on computers using a popular file-share service called Winni, used by up to 200m people.

It targets those downloading illegal copies of games in the Hentai genre, an explicit form of anime.

Website Yomiuri claims that 5500 people have so far admitted to being infected.


Ew.

In slightly lighter (and easily punnable) news, also from the BBC:

Police in South Carolina have arrested a man who allegedly assaulted another guest at a motel with a four-ft (1.2m) python after a row over loud music.

The alleged victim, who was not badly injured, told police he had complained about music coming from the other man's room and they had had a row.

Hours later, the man came up to him from behind, tapped his shoulder and thrust the snake in his face, he said.

He was so shaken, he added, that he had to take a three-hour shower afterwards.

Tony Smith, 29, was charged with assault and battery after the altercation, police in Rock Hill said.

The Rock Hill police incident report lists the type of weapon used in the alleged assault on Jeffery Culp, 47, as "other".


'other' indeed. And I do think that after having a four-foot python thrust into one's face, a three-hour shower is in order.

From this Rick Reilly article on chessboxing:

The doctor and the ref examined the swelling under Woolgar's eye, but let the bout continue. Which meant he had to go play chess with one eye, one glove, and a spinning brain. Luckily, Telford's mind was also moving at the speed of cold honey tipped over. The two of them made only three moves in four minutes. It was the Stupor Bowl. Perhaps even the ref was woozy, because he did nothing to speed them up. Suddenly, they were back in the ring, and this time Woolgar was on the counselor like freckles on Opie. He pummeled him in the corner, against the ropes, with his back to the lights, everything. The crowd was beside itself as the bell rang.

As they sat down for chess and Round Nine, Telford's brain must've been on sleep mode, because, by expert accounts, he played chess like a poodle on Xanax. "Twice in five moves he was oblivious to the long-range diagonal threat of the Black queen," RajKO wrote breathlessly of the match later. The second time, 2:23 into the round, Woolgar delivered checkmate.

All of which led to a deliriously happy chess boxer named Tim Woolgar accepting his honor as the Great Britain Chess Boxing Organization Heavyweight Champion of the World from Great Britain Chess Boxing Organization director Tim Woolgar. It was a very easy picture to take. One guy. Plus, nobody thought to make up a belt.


Yup. First time I've ever heard someone described as playing chess like a poodle on Xanax. Not sure if it'll be the last or not, though I can't imagine that it'll be relevant to all that many of the sorts of situations I find myself in day to day.


Lastly (because PDQ Bach is awesome) -


All y'all have a great day! I'm off to do a wee bit more reading, then head to campus.

14 April 2010

Squee

Rhymes with Glee, which is back.

Mixed feelings from this direction on the newest episode - it kind of felt like there was a lot of forced tension, like some of the plotlines from the Sectionals episode got pushed to the side or wrapped up too quick. Still -



it's always nice to see high school kids talking honestly about their feelings. Even if they are actually 23.

Rhymes with Whedon, who is directing The Avengers.

From IGN Movies' Scott Collura:

As for actors from the Whedon universe who might fit into the film, I guess the obvious choice is perennial geek fave Summer Glau as the Wasp. But surely there's a place for the Amazonian Gina Torres somewhere (as a Skrull maybe?). Hell, why not make Alyson Hannigan the Scarlet Witch? She's got the experience and she's surely a much better actress than the fanboy-rumored Olivia Munn. Some would argue hotter, too, in her way.




Yes, please.

eh.

Reading tonight. Feminist standpoint theory. Good times.

Have a great evening, folks!

13 April 2010

Because Hitler is funny



Yup.

I'm not usually a fan of those - but this one is on a topic near to my heart.

Good day today - running, lifting, basketball, studying, class, organizing, cleaning, studying. There was food in there, too. Cheerios, bagels, eggs, and I think I had a sandwich at some point.

...I'ma go sleep now. Because I've been either moving or thinking all day. And I'm tired.

Here's another video to rock y'all gently to sleep.

12 April 2010

A Memo

To: Seattle drivers
cc: the driver of the green Toyota parked on Eastlake about 400 yards or so south of the University Bridge

Re: Are you blind?!

If you're parked in a bike lane and are about to exit your vehicle, would it be too much to ask for you to look behind you before you open your driver side door and cut off the cyclist who is huffing and puffing his way up the hill? I don't think I'm being unreasonable, here - all I want is to not have to slam on my brakes and swerve in front of a bus.

Thanks!

Mike.

-----

(no worries, folks. I'm fine.)

Anyways, generally quite a nice Monday, as Mondays go. Foster's class was quite nice - Althusser and Gramsci are always a hoot - and I got the chance to head downtown after and meet up with AHH for the Mariners game. Great time, that. Death Cab for Cutie played a couple of songs beforehand, Randy Johnson threw out the first pitch (a strike, probably high 70s / low 80s, and it didn't really look like he was trying - dude looks like he's still just about in playing shape). And what's a Mariners game without a Milton Bradley error?

(the answer, of course, is 'no Mariners game at all')

No tunes for y'all from this end this evening - I'm about to go crash (and, apropos though it may seem in light of my previous memo, that's just an expression) so I'm well rested for running and Ammerlahn's class tomorrow.

Have yourselves a great night!

11 April 2010

Second Sight

I know it's a big video. It's worth it.

The American Dollar - Second Sight


With the weekend winding down, I figured I'd check in with y'all. Goethe isn't my usual cup of tea, but it's fun (more fun than Lacan, anyways).

I've been having lately... I don't know whether to call it a crisis of faith or what. A yearning to write as more than just a hobby and a distraction. I know I'm not a fantastic poet. I do think I'm halfway decent, and that I'm at the point where I can't progress all that much more unless I start seriously focusing on it. But - but! - poetry doesn't pay the bills. That's what research is for.

Eh. 1, I blame you, AE, for making me think seriously about this again. 2, I can always go get a MFA after I finish my dissertation. This doesn't mean I won't do great work while I'm here - because I completely will continue to kick massive amounts of @55... it's just something I'm thinking about a little bit.

Overall, a pretty good weekend. Saw Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on Friday night with NB, good flick (pretty tough to sit through some parts, but, other than the hacking scenes, really well done) and good conversation. Saturday, plan was to go ride around Mercer Island, but that kind of fell through, resulting in a fairly lazy (not to say unproductive - slow days are their own kind of productivity) day. Today, got a start on one of my seminar papers, did some reading, did some gaming - all good things.

Tomorrow is Dr. Foster's class... we'll see how that goes. I couldn't tell if he was angry at me or not last week when we were half-arguing over the differences between Hall and Zizek. Rastafarians and Nazis go!

Take off all zig!

Anyways - calling it an early night; I've been dozing off without warning all day, and I'd like to be on my toes tomorrow. Class at 11:30 and then the Mariners game with AHH at 3:40! Also Death Cab for Cutie is performing pre-game! Seems kind of an odd choice for baseball, but, hey, it is Seattle.

In honor of Mr. Gibbard (who I had the honor of meeting very briefly once at the DMV) and of the entire group, I give all y'all one more video for this quiet Sunday night.

Death Cab for Cutie - Brothers on a Hotel Bed


That song always makes me smile.

Have yourselves a great night, folks.

Peace.

09 April 2010

Stormclouds gathering... maybe...

From the UAW 4121 website (and note that the site is open to the public... I'm not compromising any secrets or anything by sharing this with y'all. The grad students are the ones who're trying to be transparent here) -

Bargaining Update: April 7, 2010

This week we met with the University’s bargaining committee to further discuss our proposals on health care benefits. Present were representatives from the University’s benefits department and their health insurance broker.

We once again asked the University to account for the estimated $10.6 million in overpaid premiums. In an earlier communication, the University had stated that while its insurance carrier, United Health Care (UHC), “is not required to refund any money back to the university,” the health insurance broker, Parker, Smith and Feek, “has successfully negotiated with UHC that the University will receive a partial refund.” Today, however, representatives from the University’s benefits office admitted that they had not negotiated a partial refund and that the earlier statement was, in fact, untrue. We have advised the University’s bargaining team that their reluctance to be upfront about the estimated $10.6 million in overpaid premiums constitutes an unfair labor practice and their misleading statements about the refunds amounts to bargaining in bad faith.

You can see an accounting of the estimated $10.6 million, as well as a copy of our recent letter to the University informing them that they are engaging in unfair labor practices here.

Due to the complexity and volatility of some of the bargaining issues, as well as the University’s apparent bad-faith approach to the health benefits issue, we have jointly requested a neutral mediator from the state’s Public Employment Relations Committee.

We will be sure to keep you informed of further developments. In the meantime, check out the video of our action on March 31st here. The action on the 31st was a great success. Hundreds of ASE’s stood up against the University’s proposed cuts and voiced their support for a strong contract—we’ve gotten lots of positive feedback about the event and ASE’s are currently planning future events in support of a strong contract. If you would like to get involved please contact us.


Hoo boy. On the one hand, I do think that bringing in a mediator is going to be a good thing. On the other... hoo boy. I had known that the negotiations were in kind of a rough patch, but this is pretty bad.

...must post something cheery
...must post something cheery
...must post something cheery

Oh wait! I know! Top plays!

[curse you NBA! You have blocked this video in my country on copyright grounds?! Cowards!]

hmmm. Well, I am going to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tonight downtown. That should be... I don't know if fun is exactly the word (though the company should be good), but most definitely interesting. Ebert gave it four stars, and I tend to agree with him on the quality of movies, barring Hardcore Ideological Action clogging up my screen.

Kurt Cobain better not freaking sparkle. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Or, alternatively, it's not. I do kind of halfway like the Scarlett Johansson choice.

hahaha

hahaha ...aww...

Have a great evening, all y'all!

Peace.

08 April 2010

Feeling Good

So I and BL went for a run this morning. Three miles. IN THE HAIL.

Yeah, you know we're b4d455. (1337, too, fwiw)

Thought process when chunks of ice started falling out of the sky and hitting me:

1. What the heck? Is that -
2. Ow.
3. OW.
4. Dang, this is actually kind of awesome.
5. I kind of wish I had hair.
6. Nope. Come to think of it, I really don't.
7. Dang, this is actually really awesome.

No lie, y'all, that's what I was thinking.

Anyways - music! Listen while you read the rest of the post.
Worth it.

Johnny Cash - God's Gonna Cut You Down


Boxcar Rebellion - Hallelujah



So post-tunes, here's important/serious stuff. C&P from the ASE union page, and, yes, I know it's long, and a couple of weeks old, but it's important enough to take the risk of a text wall. Plus, hey, you've got awesome choons to help you relax while you read through it:

Bargaining Update: March 25, 2010

We met with the University bargaining team this week on Monday and Tuesday. Once again they came to the table with only cuts proposals. Relying on their budget forecast, the University proposed to weaken radically the layoff protections guaranteed to ASEs in our current contract, and to make significant cuts to jobs in the coming year.

Under their proposed changes to layoff, jobs promised to ASEs in appointment letters could be rescinded at the University’s discretion and with no guarantee of another appointment or equal compensation, not to mention tuition waiver or health insurance benefits. Clearly this would represent a major loss in job security and stability for ASEs, and severely hamper departments’ abilities to recruit quality graduate students.

The University also informed us that 2/3 of planned cuts to the College of Arts and Sciences will be ASE positions. While they were walking us through this plan, which would result in a loss of over 440 TA quarters of employment in Arts and Sciences alone, it became clear that the impact to the academic quality and ASE working conditions would be enormous. In their own words, the cuts they are discussing:

"will guarantee that the College will close any remaining writing or tutoring centers. It would also mean severe reductions or near elimination of student writing assignments in lower level classes, as TA‘s will be responsible for larger numbers of student assignments. It will also affect our ability to offer labs in introductory science courses. We might even have to offer most of our large lecture classes without sections, and nothing more than graders. In addition to the significant negative effects on undergraduate education, such deep TA cuts will severely impact the quality of our graduate programs across the College." (http://www.washington.edu/admin/pb/home/pdf/bgt-narratives/fy2011/Arts-and-Sciences.pdf)


I'm (understandably, I think) Not Happy about this. Most of the other grad students who are paying attention are also Not Happy about this, and I have a feeling that those who aren't paying attention would be Not Happy about this if they were. Still to be seen is what's going to happen, but there's less than a month left for negotiations, and from what I've been able to find out, progress has been less than encouraging. I'll keep all y'all updated as best I can as the process continues.

In the (in this case completely irrelevant) words of that one dude at that one place that one time where we were (yeah, HH and SCH, you know what I'm talking about) -

You gon' get wet!

...told you it was irrelevant. Always good for a smile, though.

Have a great Thursday night, y'all!

07 April 2010

Yo

So. Went down to the Slam last night with NB. My first time there in a while. I really should start going more often - I always feel really good when I go.

I think part of that is that I miss poetry. I mean, I'm still writing (more or less), but I half miss the workshop atmosphere of undergrad, half miss the community around PUH, and half miss being able to perform my own stuff. Yes, even when I know it sucks.

(I'm an English major. I don't have to know math.)

Last night was the third semi-final... six poets, three rounds, and the top two for the evening advanced to the upcoming grand slam, from whence they have a chance (I believe) to go to nationals. Many congratulations - and a very happy birthday - to Tara Hardy -



for multiple fantastic performances and taking home the win. And the cash. To quote Mike Golic, "I play to win the pool and win the cash!"

Seriously, that's not what it's about. But it's a little bit about the cash. A very little bit.

Anyways - the features, Sevan Boult and Amy Everhart (brief brief bios on both here at the SPS website), were both absofreakinlutely fantastic (infix!) and more or less rocked my world. I want to be able to write and perform like them someday.

I'd attach videos, but I'm sitting in the English department grad lounge right now, there are people around me, and I never post anything that I can't listen to first. Plus, if I started YouTubing these two ladies, I wouldn't stop... and I've got Zizek to read. Yes. More Zizek. Yeehaw.

To business!
To Camelot!
___(it's only a model...)

06 April 2010

Pires, Pirates, and the New Guy

From this article on possible designated players for the MLS in upcoming seasons:

3. Robert Pires, M, Villarreal, 36 -- Obviously Pires is no longer the force he was at Arsenal (where, at one point, he was arguably the best left-sided midfielder in the world), but he's still a quality player with creative flair. Not to mention, imagine the possibilities if Seattle persauded him to team up once more with former Arsenal teammate Freddie Ljungberg at Qwest Field

I'm imagining, Jen. I'm imagining.

Good day so far (bike, run, lift, eat, read), lots of work to do before hopefully making it out to the Seattle Poetry Slam tonight with NMB.

Any computer folk in my audience? Who don't consistently read xkcd? First off... shame on you. Second, read this.

I'm trying to come up with a good nickname for new Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward. Any suggestions? I'm not a fan of "The J-Hey Kid" - it's clever, but not original. And "Heywood" is just kind of lame. His middle name is "Adenolith", which is awesome and offers many possibilities.

Here's a YouTube video to watch. Many thanks to AB.


Time to do work like Kobe, mental gymnastics like adobe, typing words in like... eh. I got nothing. Budget proposal to finish up, then off to finish my reading for the good Dr. Foster for tomorrow. Hoo, boy.

Eat the rich!

05 April 2010

Hrm.

Before I begin: best wishes to all those affected by the Mexicali earthquake yesterday. What the heck is going on this year? I mean, seriously. What the heck?

Hurrah for the LHC!

...wait... what's that you say?
The success in producing proton collisions represents a remarkable comeback for CERN, but the lab is still only halfway back to where it wanted to be. Only a year and a half ago, the first attempt to start the collider ended with an explosion that left part of its tunnel enveloped in frigid helium gas and soot when an electrical connection between two of the powerful magnets that steer the protons vaporized.

A subsequent investigation revealed that the collider was riddled with thousands of such joints, a result of what Lucio Rossi, head of magnets at CERN, said was a “lack of adequate risk analysis,” in a recent report in the online journal Superconductor Science and Technology. As a result, the collider, which was designed to accelerate protons to seven trillion electron volts, then smash them together to reveal particles and forces that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of time as we know it, can only be safely run for now at half power.

CERN physicists say that operating the collider for a year and a half at this energy level should allow them to gather enough data to start catching up with its American rival, the trillion-electron-volt Tevatron at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. The Tevatron is smaller but has been running for years and thus has a head start in data. After that, the CERN machine will be shut down for a year so that the connections can be rebuilt.


greh.

So their machine's still broken, they're just running it slower so that they can catch up to their competitors, and when they've got data that lets them say their penises are bigger, they're going to SHUT DOWN THE MACHINE WE THOUGHT MIGHT END THE WORLD SO THAT THEY CAN MAKE IT WORK PROPERLY. Does this seem ridiculous to any of y'all?

I think the words of Oscar Rogers might be of use here:


Eat the rich!

And all y'all have a great day, now, y'hear?

04 April 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter Sunday, everybody! (and all of you incorporeal readers out there, too!)

...yeah. I debated whether or not to post a Raptor Jesus image, decided it might not be strictly appropriate. So I just linked to it, instead.

And I put up a humorous picture about chocolate bunnies, instead. I didn't make it. I just thought it was funny.


...and a clip from Pirates of the Caribbean. Here's the reasoning: it's Easter Sunday, lots of people go to church on Easter Sunday, there's often organ music, and there's an organ in this clip. You know you're just jealous you don't have a prehensile beard, MJH and AM.


Have a great day, y'all. More Zizek! More Goethe!

03 April 2010

Watch this vid. It's awesome.

Saturday night's alright for fighting

Fighting the good fight, that is. Fighting the war of the mind. Fighting against injustice. Fighting against ignorance. Saturday night, that is, is alright for studying.

Woohoo!

Kind of seriously, actually. Lots of good essays to read tonight, plus I'm in the middle of Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. Fun times.

Butler's in the national championship game?
Butler's in the national championship game!
Oorah!
(in your honour, GLK)

Best quote from TV this week goes to John Noble:
"There's only room for one god in this lab, and it's not yours." Chilling. I'm not usually a big Fringe fan, but this was a heckuvan episode.

Second-best quote from TV this week goes to Jensen Ackles:
"Go ahead, Roy. Do it. But I'm gonna warn you - when I come back, I'm gonna be pissed." Simultaneously b@d@55 and funny. Gotta love Supernatural.

Went out to Norwescon last night. Good times, good people (mostly... you know who you are), lots of fun things to see and do. Was a little sad to miss SSt.C's performance, kind of lost track of time dancing at the Biohazard party and hanging out in the Defcon room. There's something amazingly refreshing about meeting up with a bunch of fellow nerds and spending hours dancing to industrial music.

Lastly, a video. Eat your heart out, NMB.


Have a great Saturday night, everyone!

Eat the rich!

And beware... beware... beware of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep. He eats little boys! Puppy-dog tails and big, fat snails. Beware... take care... beware...

02 April 2010

Friday Night Lights

Dude - it's 7:00 and it isn't dark yet. In the words of the great Justin Timberlake, I'm loving it.



Fair enough, I suppose. Picture from OddlySpecific.com

Kobe Bryant re-upped with the Lakers. Three more years. The thing that surprised me when I read about it: did you know he's already a 15-year veteran? I mean, I knew he'd been in the NBA for a little while, but I didn't realize that he'd been there since I was six.

Worth watching:




"I don't mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is, if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original. [...] And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong."

- from the video.

01 April 2010

Awesome Stuff

April first, innit? Yeh? Here's a bunch of stuff that I find awesome.

This song:

P.D.Q. Bach - Schleptet in E-flat Major


This picture:



This classic story

This new College Humor video

Have a great day, y'all!