29 October 2010

You are, in fact, the one that I want.

I find that I am suffering from psychosomatic hypothermia in a geometric progression, and that I am not totally in possession of either my faculties or the situation. This is, of course, a direct consequence of the dynamism which is emanating from the object of my desire (who, in addition, is the intended recipient of this message) - a dynamism of which, it should be noted, the great Tesla would be proud.


27 October 2010

This is not Nirvana.

This is Nirvana.

This is not Nirvana.

This is 6:30 in the morning, 40 degrees and raining outside, and I'm sipping on a cup of pomegranate tea and listening to this:

...which is a string quartet version of Nirvana - "Polly."

It's actually, surprisingly, not horrible.

Want something a little bit more classical?

25 October 2010

Age of Adz

So... that's the title track from Sufjan Stevens' newest album. It's kind of interesting, I think.

...and by "interesting," I really mean "sort of moderately mind-blowing." I didn't have the same reaction to this album as I did to, say, the first stuff I heard from The pAper chAse, or Ben Frost, but it's definitely something out of the ordinary, and definitely a better use of your time than browsing hentai on 4chan.

No offense, /b/.

Have a great morning, folks.

22 October 2010

New Leaks: 66000+ Dead

That's confirmed dead civilians in Iraq, if you haven't been following the news, a number that dwarfs the number of supposed insurgents killed.

The U.S. military has also been turning a blind eye to Iraqi troops and police torturing and killing suspects.

All of this is according to classified documents - 400000+ of them - that just popped up on Wikileaks.

This article from Reuters does a halfway decent job of pointing out some of the key points. Excerpts:


The Iraq war files touched on other themes, including well-known U.S. concerns about Iranian training and support for Iraqi militias. The documents, which spanned 2003 to 2009, also detailed 66,081 civilian deaths in the Iraqi conflict, WikiLeaks said.

Assange told Al Jazeera television the documents had provided enough material for 40 wrongful killing lawsuits.

"There are reports of civilians being indiscriminately killed at checkpoints ... of Iraqi detainees being tortured by coalition forces, and of U.S. soldiers blowing up entire civilian buildings because of one suspected insurgent on the roof," WikiLeaks said in a statement.

In one 2007 case, according to the documents, an Apache helicopter killed two Iraqis suspects who had made signs that they wanted to surrender. The document said, "They can not surrender to aircraft and are still valid targets." It can be seen here


In one case, an Iraqi policeman shot a detainee in the leg. The suspect was whipped with a rod and hose across his back, cracking ribs, causing multiple lacerations and welts.

"The outcome: 'No further investigation,'" the Guardian wrote.

The documents also cited cases of rape and murder, including a videotaped execution of a detainee by Iraqi soldiers. That document can be seen here

I have trouble thinking of the United States as the good guys.

of words, skin, art, and beauty

Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, [5]
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain--
To thy high requiem become a sod.

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

Try telling the boy who’s just had his girlfriend’s name
cut into his arm that there’s slippage between the signifier
and the signified. Or better yet explain to the girl
who watched in the mirror as the tattoo artist stitched
the word for her father’s name (on earth as in heaven)
across her back that words aren’t made of flesh and blood,
that they don’t bite the skin. Language is the animal
we’ve trained to pick up the scent of meaning. It’s why
when the boy hears his father yelling at the door
he sends the dog that he’s kept hungry, that he’s kicked,
then loved, to attack the man, to show him that every word
has a consequence, that language, when used right, hurts.

—Todd Davis

21 October 2010

Hang Them

Story from the Washington Post. Excerpts:

The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 19, 2010; 11:33 AM

KAMPALA, Uganda -- The front-page newspaper story featured a list of Uganda's 100 "top" homosexuals, with a bright yellow banner across it that read: "Hang Them." Alongside their photos were the men's names and addresses.

In the days since it was published, at least four gay Ugandans on the list have been attacked and many others are in hiding, according to rights activist Julian Onziema. One person named in the story had stones thrown at his house by neighbors.

A lawmaker in this conservative African country introduced a bill a year ago that would have imposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts and life in prison for others. An international uproar ensued, and the bill was quietly shelved.

But gays in Uganda say they have faced a year of harassment and attacks since the bill's introduction.

The legislation was drawn up following a visit by leaders of U.S. conservative Christian ministries that promote therapy they say allows gays to become heterosexual.

Who are these leaders?

Scott Lively, president of Defend the Family International:

On the positive side, my host and ministry partner in Kampala, Stephen Langa, was overjoyed with the results of our efforts and predicted confidently that the coming weeks would see significant improvement in the moral climate of the nation, and a massive increase in pro-family activism in every social sphere. He said that a respected observer of society in Kampala had told him that our campaign was like a nuclear bomb against the "gay" agenda in Uganda. I pray that this, and the predictions, are true.

Caleb Lee Brundidge, of the International Healing Foundation,

and Don Schmeierer, of Exodus International.

There'll be enough time to talk about Exodus International and the like later. For right now, can we just agree to think about what the interactions are between certain belief structures and certain cultural values? About the ways that people are likely to take things up?

Here's another quote from Lively, excerpted from a blog post he wrote in response to the Ugandan anti-homosexuality law:

Let me be absolutely clear. I do not support the proposed anti-homosexuality law as written. It does not emphasize rehabilitation over punishment and the punishment that it calls for is unacceptably harsh. However, if the offending sections were sufficiently modified, the proposed law would represent an encouraging step in the right direction. As one of the first laws of this century to recognize that the destructiveness of the “gay” agenda warrants opposition by government, it would deserve support from Christian believers and other advocates of marriage-based culture around the world.

All y'all have a good day. Time for me to get ready for class.

20 October 2010

Greetings, Logan.

Yup. That's Darren Aronofsky. And he's directing the new Wolverine movie.

...and I'm actually pretty psyched about it, yeah? He's definitely a better fit with this character than with the Superman flick for which he was rumored to be a finalist. Wolverine's got that certain quality - oh, what was it again? Hmm...

Oh, that's right. Soul-crushing angst. Aronofsky's pretty good at conveying that. Remember this film?

What about this one? (note: which I consider superior in some ways... or at least more affective to me)

...yeah. All y'all have a good afternoon.

Paradelle for Susan

Paradelle for Susan

I remember the quick, nervous bird of your love.
I remember the quick, nervous bird of your love.
Always perched on the thinnest, highest branch.
Always perched on the thinnest, highest branch.
Thinnest love, remember the quick branch.
Always nervous, I perched on your highest bird the.

It is time for me to cross the mountain.
It is time for me to cross the mountain.
And find another shore to darken with my pain.
And find another shore to darken with my pain.
Another pain for me to darken the mountain.
And find the time, cross my shore, to with it is to.

The weather warm, the handwriting familiar.
The weather warm, the handwriting familiar.
Your letter flies from my hand into the waters below.
Your letter flies from my hand into the waters below.
The familiar waters below my warm hand.
Into handwriting your weather flies you letter the from the.

I always cross the highest letter, the thinnest bird.
Below the waters of my warm familiar pain,
Another hand to remember your handwriting.
The weather perched for me on the shore.
Quick, your nervous branch flew from love.
Darken the mountain, time and find was my into it was with to to.

- Billy Collins

The paradelle is (in Collins' own note) "one of the more demanding French fixed forms, first appearing in the langue d'oc love poetry of the eleventh century. It is a poem of four six-line stanzas in which the first and second lines, as well as the third and fourth lines of the first three stanzas, must be identical. The fifth and sixth lines, which traditionally resolve these stanzas, must use all the words from the preceding lines and only those words. Similarly, the final stanza must use every word from all the preceding stanzas and only those words."

19 October 2010

Trespassers William

Thought that was amusing and that y'all might get a kick out of it.

...just another day in the office. Hurrah.

...tick tick tick tick tick

18 October 2010

Live Free or Twi Hard

Special something for all you Twilight lovers out there.

Yes indeed - that's the same Taylor Lautner who is in the movies now. Urgh. I feel weird for pointing that out. I swear, I was just watching old Cheap Seats clips and came across it randomly.

Out. Peace to all y'all.

17 October 2010

Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman

Worth taking a look at this article from The National Law Journal.

I'm going to quote a couple of key passages here without analysis. I'd recommend reading the entire article.

From the beginning of the article, which recounts the government-ordered rewriting of a court order to release a Guantanamo detainee:

A day after his March 16 order was filed on the court's electronic docket, Kennedy's opinion vanished. Weeks later, a new ruling appeared in its place. While it reached the same conclusion, eight pages of material had been removed, including key passages in which Kennedy dismantled the government's case against Uthman.

In his first opinion, Kennedy wrote that one government witness against Uthman had been diagnosed by military doctors as "psychotic" with a mental condition that made his allegations against other detainees "unreliable." But the opinion the public sees makes no mention of the man's health and discounts his testimony only because of its inconsistencies.

The alterations are extensive. Sentences were rewritten. Footnotes that described disputes and discrepancies in the government's case were deleted. Even the date and circumstances of Uthman's arrest were changed. In the first version, the judge said Uthman was detained on Dec. 15, 2001, in Pakistan by Pakistani authorities. Rewritten, Kennedy said in the public opinion that Uthman admitted being captured "in late 2001 in the general vicinity of Tora Bora," the cave complex where bin Laden was thought to be hiding at that time.

From later in the article:

Uthman was 21 years old and traveling with about 30 other men when he was taken into custody by Pakistani police in the town of Parachinar, near the Afghan border. It was Dec. 15, 2001, and U.S. troops were in the middle of a five-day battle against an al-Queda stronghold known as Tora Bora, where bin Laden was believed to have taken shelter. Parachinar and Tora Bora are 12 miles apart but separated by a treacherous mountain range that takes two to three days to traverse.

The government maintains that Uthman was in Afghanistan to fight for bin Laden; Uthman has claimed he went there to teach the Quran to children. Some facts of his story are not in dispute, some critical ones are. They look different depending on which of Kennedy's two opinions you read.

Kennedy's original opinion noted that Uthman was seized in Parachinar; that he reached the town after an eight-day trek from the Afghan town of Khost, nowhere near Tora Bora; and that his journey to Pakistan began around Dec. 8, 2001. Those facts make it difficult to portray Uthman as a fighter in a battle that took place between Dec. 12 and Dec. 17 at Tora Bora. Two footnotes in the original opinion note that the government does not contest that Uthman was taken into custody in Parachinar.

Both were removed in the second opinion and Kennedy substituted wording to write instead that Uthman admitted he was seized "in late 2001 in the general vicinity of Tora Bora, Afghanistan."

...yeah. All y'all have a good Sunday evening. Time for me to get back to work.

A Bourgeois Morning

Is that not just one of the most adorable things ever? Such fluid movement, and that smile - ridiculously cute.

Anyways, I'm spending my Sunday morning (and early afternoon) in the office, working on an essay and revising the calendar for the course I'm teaching. Althusser has proven to be just absolute tremendous fun to teach, but it is a little bit time-consuming, so I'm giving us a little bit of extra time to focus on it next week, then pushing further rhetorical analysis back into the timeframe when we're doing Butler - I think the younglings will click with her stuff on a way that they maybe don't with good ole Louie.

In other news, I've taken the last week or so mostly off from working out, thanks to sore ankles and knees and (to a lesser extent) a nasty cough I picked up in the cold and wet and awesome of running Mount Si. I thought I had the long-distance thing figured out (and was really looking forward to the marathon), but right now any time I try to push things, I wind up hobbling around for a couple of days with sore/clicking joints. Guess I'll try to build up the muscles some more, give my joints a little bit more support while doing some low-impact work, and then start trying to push forward again.

I do believe I'm feelin' stronger every day. Or, if not feeling, at least, getting. Becoming. Making myself.

What we do all the time, right?


16 October 2010

In Memoriam

(sensibility warning: song contains strong language)

From the New York Times:

BenoƮt B. Mandelbrot, a maverick mathematician who developed an innovative theory of roughness and applied it to physics, biology, finance and many other fields, died on Thursday in Cambridge, Mass. He was 85.

Aww... now I'm all mathematically nostalgic.

All y'all have a good afternoon.

15 October 2010

All Terrorists are Muslims?

At least one Fox host thinks so.

That's Brian Kilmeade saying that, and one of his co-hosts agreeing with him. He repeated it later on his radio show, in the same words. Source: (LA Times)


14 October 2010

We got a jumper!

...and I'm not talking about the type of dress.

According to Pitchfork:

One for the strange-but-true bin: Yesterday afternoon, T.I. helped talk a 24-year-old man down from committing suicide by jumping off a 22-story building in Atlanta, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

I mean, I don't particularly like T.I.'s music, but I wouldn't want him to jump off a building...

...what's that, Pitchfork? You just messed up your grammar a little bit?

Sorry about that.


So this was going to be an ASCII version of one of the diagrams I drew for my students yesterday. But I can't get the spacing right (stupid blogger formatting), so I'm just going to post a YouTube video instead.

Stupid Blogger formatting.

Have a great morning!

13 October 2010

For those about to... make pancakes?

Saw this commercial earlier today, couldn't decide whether to find it blasphemous or hilarious. Hmm.


Anyways. Wound up lecturing off the top of my head for 50 minutes this afternoon when I realized (about three minutes into what was intended to be discussion) that my freshmen had no conception of Marxist models of the economy and society. In retrospect, I probably should have seen that coming. Filled two whiteboards full of diagrams, lists, and definitions.

Oddly, it was probably my best pure lecture ever. Hmm... maybe there's something to be said for being utterly unprepared for a speech. I wound up actually, more or less on the fly, coming up with a really neat little series of triangles as I tried to explain the concept of a social formation. Think my freshmen actually got it, too, which is cool - it took my poring over Marx in my little cell (by which I mean dorm room) for a solid couple of days - so if they've managed an introductory grasp of it in one evening and one afternoon, that's pretty awesome.

Off to go read about racism and the reproduction of the means of production, now. Also to eat soup. Delicious chicken noodle soup.

Have a great night!

12 October 2010

A Meditation on Pillow Talk

If I had a nickel for every time that'd happened to me...

...well, I wouldn't actually have any nickels. Turns of phrase are strange, yeah?

Also the conception of pillow talk. What's up with that? Aren't we supposed to answer honestly when someone asks us a question?

My usual thought pattern when I'm trying to turn my brain off for the day (by which I mean that it's the thought pattern I've enforced for the last decade or so) -

There is a lesson to be learned from a rainstorm.
When one meets a shower, he tries not to get wet
and runs quickly along the road. But doing such things
as running under the eaves of houses, one still gets wet.
When you are resolved from the beginning,
you will not be perplexed, though you still get
the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.

It is the mark of a noble man
to greet misfortune with equanimity.

...and so on. Might not be romantic, but it calms me down, helps me slow my thoughts, gives me something peaceful to focus on. All y'all have a great day.

11 October 2010

Interesting article

Got something here y'all might enjoy.

Do you remember the stories from a little while ago about Caster Semenya, the South African runner? She won the 800 meter world championship in 2009, and then the IAAF ordered drug and gender testing. It was the 'gender testing' bit that was a little iffy - the results were, shall we say, ambiguous. To my understanding, she was born with female genitalia, raised female - wasn't trying to cheat - but had several internal markers - hormone levels, dna, etc - that would have in other cases marked her as male.

With that lengthy explanation out of the way, here's an article from ESPN.com - an interview between ESPN's Julie Foudy and Alice Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University. Especially relevant quote:

Dreger: If there had been a simple answer to this, this would have been solved 50 years ago, and instead it's only getting more difficult to figure out how to answer this problem that nature presents to us. Nature is a slob. Humans like their categories neat. They like their categories of sex neat.

They like their categories of age neat, so for example, we say to people, 'At the age of 18 you may vote but at the age of 17 and 360 days you may not vote.' We say, 'You may drink at the age of 21 but not at the age of 20.' Why? Because humans like to create terribly neat categories out of nature because it allows us a nice, tight social organization. The truth is, nature doesn't care that we like nice, neat social organizations. Nature likes variety.

08 October 2010

The old school French stuff

Remember Daft Punk? If not... yeah, you're about to. Here's three live videos guaranteed to make you boogie more than a little bit.


That makes me really, really want to go to one of their shows. All y'all have a great afternoon.

06 October 2010

What the heck, body. What the heck.

There was a time in my life when I was tall and skinny.

I mean, I'm tall and skinny now, but I was not quite as tall and a lot more skinny. Like... 73 inches, 135 pounds skinny. Could see my heart beating under my ribcage. Yeah.

By the time I started college, I was a little bit taller and I'd managed to put on a few pounds. Say... 74 inches, 150 pounds. Still skinny, but at least no longer cadaverous.

By midway through my junior year, I'd gained another inch. I'd also gained a good deal of muscle, putting me at 75 inches and, generally, a hamburger under 200 pounds. Got up to 205 at one point, pretty much none of it fat.

As of yesterday, I'm 6 feet 5 inches tall and I weigh... 175 pounds? Yeah... I have no idea how that happened. I'm as fit as just about anybody, got 8-pack abs, bench press 150 15 times in a row, leg press 400 20 times straight without barely breaking a sweat (okay, so my lower body is a little bit stronger than my upper). ...and I'm eating five meals a day. ...and I'm somehow continuing to lose weight.

Not that I'm upset about the way I look (I know very well that I'm dang good looking, and I get reminded of this on a frequent basis), or that it's seriously impacting my athletic performance. It's just confusing, is all.

For example, I give you: my day. Not an atypical one.
- 5:45 AM - Wake up, drink water, go run.
- 6:30 AM - Back from run, shower, breakfast*
- 7:00 AM - Off to campus. Class.
- 9:00 AM - Mid-morning snack: three granola bars. Office time.
- 11:30 AM - Lunch**
- 12:30 PM - Teaching time!
- 1:30 PM - Office. Bottle of water.
- 3:00 PM - Mid-afternoon snack: granola bar, cup o' yogurt. More office time.
- 4:45 PM - Off to gym. Weights.
- 6:00 PM - Back to apartment. Reading, lesson planning, blogging.

(and then, later tonight, barring surprises)

- 8:30 PM - Dinner with friends.
- 10:00 PM - Bed.

*Breakfast: two cups plain yogurt, two bowls raisin bran, three bagels, one apple, two glasses soymilk, two cups coffee.

**Lunch: two ham & colby jack sandwiches on rye, apple, pear, two glasses soymilk, quarter-box of Oreos.

Does that sound like the sort of diet wherein I'm losing weight? By my count, I consumed a hair under 700 calories in granola bars alone, never mind the... um... yeah... 800 calories or so of delicious chocolate cookie with sweet cream centers.

Like I said - it's not a problem, it's just confusing. Thoughts? Suggestions? Oh - and before it even gets asked, no, I'm not going to post pictures of myself without clothes on, no matter how hard you lot beg ;)

Have a great night, eh?

05 October 2010

Welcome to the team.

John Smoltz burned himself ironing a shirt. That he was still wearing.

Vince Coleman missed the 1985 world series because he injured himself when he got rolled up in a tarp machine.

Wade Boggs got hurt pulling on his cowboy boots.

Welcome to the club, Brian Roberts.


I think you might even be on a higher level than some of these other gentlemen.

Quote from the ESPN.com story:

"In frustration [after a strikeout], I whacked myself on the head with my bat in the ninth. I had my helmet on," Roberts told reporters. "It's something I've done a million times, but I still can't tell you for sure if that was it. But that's the only thing that I can point to because that night and the next morning, I just didn't feel good. So it's been going on since then."

Roberts battled injuries most of the season and appeared in just 59 games. He was scheduled to have a CT scan to determine if there was another possible cause for the concussion-like symptoms.

"I just have some lack of balance and some headaches, and just stuff that hasn't been a whole lot of fun," Roberts said. "It's a lesson to myself, a lesson to the kids to not do that, no matter how frustrated you are."

All y'all have a great morning.

04 October 2010

The World Slipping Out of Reach

Read this article. I'm not going to do any copypaste work with this one, because I need to get back to work (I'm at my office, reading/writing) but, seriously. Read it. Tell me that isn't more than a little bit ridiculous.

Anyways - y'all have a good day.

03 October 2010

Why write?

Hope all y'all are doing well out there. Special get-well-soon vibes to NB.

Here's a video, and then I'm going to talk a little bit. Cool? Cool.

One of my favorite bands, there.

We had a conversation Thursday in the first session of the ENGL131 pedagogy course about what makes good writing. Some of the answers that were given:

Good writing is...

- clear
- well-organized
- enlightening
- enjoyable
- life-changing
- surprising


My own humble contribution to the discussion, quoted verbatim (so far as I can remember it) - "Good writing pushes at the edges of the task at which the writer set out."

That's what I said, anyway. It was well-received, and pushed us into a discussion of social constructionism and contemporary composition theory. It wasn't necessarily what I was trying to say, though - it was (as with most of the things I say) an incomplete representation of my thoughts. What I would have said, had I organized my language a bit more before speaking, or been a bit more poised in front of the eyes of my colleagues -

"Good writing pushes at the edges of the task at which the writer set out, changing the nature of the task itself even as it changes the writer's understanding of the process of creation, his or her relation to that process, and, therefore, his or her relation to the limited task at hand."

Not necessarily fit for a bullet point, but I think it captures a good bit of what I was thinking. It's not a complete definition by any means, nor is it intended to be... definitely something to think about.

Thoughts? Disagreements?

01 October 2010

Quick link dump

I know I've sort of neglected y'all over the last month or so. My apologies on that; things have been a little intense. I sent in a manuscript yesterday for the Philip Levine Prize... not holding my breath that I'm going to win, but it felt good to do a creative project of that length. Manuscript title: "In the Land of Nod."

Also: went to Florida, came back from Florida, started teaching, started back with my classes.

Here's three YouTube videos for y'all tonight. Hope you enjoy them!