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death and christopher [18 Sep 2008|12:29pm]
and now, a reading from the fifth volume of proust's "in search of lost time":

"The death of others is like a journey one might oneself make, when, already sixty miles out of Paris, one remembers that one has left two dozen handkerchiefs behind, forgotten to leave a key with the cook, to say good-bye to one's uncle, to ask the name of the town where the old fountain is that you want to see. While all these oversights which assail you, and which you relate aloud and purely for form's sake to your travelling companion, are getting as sole response a blank disregard from the seat opposite, the name of the station, called out by the guard, only takes you further away from henceforth impossible realisations, so much so that you cease to think about irremediable omissions, and you unpack your lunch and exchange papers and magazines."
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read the times with christopher [17 Sep 2008|10:04am]
from an article on obama and the economy in the new york times this morning:
“Instead of offering up concrete plans to solve these issues, Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book: you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem,” Mr. Obama said. “But here’s the thing — this isn’t 9/11. We know how we got into this mess. What we need now is leadership that gets us out.”
excellent rhetoric! excellent!

in contrast, look at this article concerning palin and the moose stew dinners she eats, and my favorite, the varnished moose shit earrings.

and you can keep your nalgene bottles. "The new study, released Tuesday by The Journal of the American Medical Association, was based on a survey of nearly 1,500 adults. It found that those with higher levels of BPA in their urine were also more likely to report that they also had heart disease or diabetes."

and here's the smartest thing i've seen in a while: the city of Berkeley is going to give loans to its residents to buy solar panels for their homes. the residents will receive loans up to around $22,000, which they will be able to pay back over twenty years. the payments will be added in with their property taxes. "Participating homeowners would pay roughly $180 more per month on their property tax bills, though much of that cost could be expected to be recouped in savings on electrical bills." the city could potentially make a lot of money, residents would be increasing the values of their homes and saving money on power and contributing to the use of renewable resources. it's totally win/win. berkeley just needs to find an investor now. and i'm left wondering why birmingham didn't think of this and feeling remorseful because i know that even if birmingham had thought of it or thought to jump on the bandwagon, we never would. we're like a dinosaur stuck in the tar unable to save ourselves. maybe we'll provide entertain to children centuries from now though.
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christopher and women as voters [15 Sep 2008|12:31pm]
in her article today concerning how each campaign is courting women voters, kate zernike says,
"Though there is little question that Ms. Palin’s bursting onto the scene has put pressure on the Obama campaign, it is unclear how much difference she will make. Geraldine A. Ferraro created a small bounce in the polls when Walter F. Mondale chose her as his running mate in 1984, making her the first woman on a major party ticket. But in the end, the nation went in a landslide for President Ronald Reagan."
i really hope this happens because this surge in support for the republicans scares me, especially because mrs. palin is so scary herself.
i heard she sleeps in tupperware to stay so young and fresh looking.
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christopher and artur over and over [12 Sep 2008|09:25am]
artur davis, that alleged democrat from alabama who i despise so much, is getting quite a bit of publicity from the obama campaign recently. in the article the times ran this morning about it's tougher, more critical approach to the race, davis was quoted as saying:
"The Obama message has been disrupted in the last week. It’s a time for Democrats to focus on what the fundamentals are in this election."
let's look at this little gem davis has dropped for us. these two sentences imply two things. that obama's message was suddenly stopped or changed just because mrs. palin came onto the election stage. and more importantly, while the article reports that the obama campaign may be taking a tougher stance, artur davis seems to be arguing that obama's policies themselves may have been too soft. what exactly are the fundamentals in this election mr. davis?
you must understand, just as years ago before the election, republicans regarded senator mccain as a liberal in conservative clothing, artur davis stands in contraposto, elected as a democrat he seems to share more republican values. he is alabama's very own lieberman. and let me tell you what mr. davis once told me in a speech he gave at birmingham-southern:
we, the democrats, need to let go of our beloved social issues and concentrate only on economic issues so that we can better compete with republicans.
davis forgets that the economic policies of democrats and liberals are inherently linked to our social goals. we advocate raising taxes if it means more money for schools and welfare and social security and medicare and universal health care. that's the point of liberalism: sometimes the rights of all are restricted a little so that all may enjoy greater freedom and happiness.
let's plot: how do we get rid of artur davis? how do we get someone else elected?
oh wait, i'm moving to oregon anyway so i don't care. except i do because now he's causing problems nationally.
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christopher is outraged at nancy pelosi [11 Sep 2008|11:59am]
what?!?! look at this?
how did those democrats think that they could sneak this past us?
i'm outraged.
the new york times reports:
"After months of political assault from Republicans over high gasoline prices, House Democrats are preparing legislation that would relax a decades-old ban on oil drilling along much of the nation’s coastline."
and quoted nancy pelosi, our dearest pelosi, as saying,
"Our energy legislation will bring down gas prices, protect taxpayers, invest in clean renewable energy and provide an American-owned energy policy that the Bush-McCain Republicans have failed to deliver for the past eight year."
can you believe this? after all that arguing, even knowing how little it will do and how the effects will be delayed, the democrats go and do this anyway!
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christopher is willing to admit [10 Sep 2008|10:42am]
i find myself wondering into what conservative wonderland i've stumbled? this morning, a woman in my office, a mrs. lea, was real vociferous in expressing her support for mrs. palin (running for vice president, as no one seems to care anymore that the republican candidate is really senator mccain). and then she asks, rhetorically she assumes, "i mean, otherwise we'll have a socialist in the white house! do you want a socialist as president?!" at which i just laughed and answered, "well, yes."
and then spewed this diatribe about just giving and giving and never getting back. of course she meant that the government gives and gives and never receives anything back, but let's remember the surplus under clinton and that mccain's current budget proposals if he is elected president will cause a deficit 2 to 3 times larger than that proposed by obama currently. and i wanted to point out that obama is far from socialist. he's just your average vanilla democrat when it comes to policy. and she exclaims, "socialism just NEVER works!" and i said, "what about all of western europe?" and she says, "well, no one knows why that works." what kind of an answer is this? whatever.

listen, i would be willing to admit that palin has gotten people excited. but her policies are superficial and unhelpful. furthermore, she will not be president. we have to remember how much influence the vice president has. think back, how much have vice presidents been reported upon during past administrations, especially those before the bush administration? conversative need to remember that mccain will still be their president and palin is being used to draw conservative votes.

anyway, the best defense for obama i've heard so far has been that at least he's not on the attack and the rest of the world seems really excited about him. so even if he's not as progressive as i would like for america, at least he may have support from the rest of the world. these arguments may seem weak as i type them here, but actually, i think they're pretty strong. i don't think mccain has much to offer, and palin has nothing but well-worded rhetoric and what cal woodruff would call "ironic" glasses. obama, on the other hand, has not had to stoop to mccain political strategy and he has international support. will mccain's "experience" really be more of an advantage when obama has obviously won the heart of the world?
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christopher looks to the polls [21 Aug 2008|10:04am]
here's some hopeful polls for obama printed in the new york times this morning and also reported upon by npr. the race looks tight, which is exciting, but these percentages look good for obama:
"Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, was trusted more by voters to handle their top concern, the economy. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said they were confident that Mr. Obama would make the right decisions on the economy, compared with 54 percent who expressed confidence that Mr. McCain would. When it came to foreign policy, the image was inverted: 66 percent expressed confidence in Mr. McCain to make the right decisions, and 55 percent in Mr. Obama."
of course, and might i add before i say this that the polls reveal equal strengths and weaknesses in the eyes of the american public for both candidates, but on npr this morning i heard that a greater percentage of americans believe that obama says what he believes the public wants to hear.
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christopher says, "wow new york times!" [25 Jul 2008|10:40am]
the new york times is not cutting obama any slack for his speech in europe, basically calling it vague and disappointing. david brooks wrote: "When I first heard this sort of radically optimistic speech in Iowa, I have to confess my American soul was stirred. It seemed like the overture for a new yet quintessentially American campaign."
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oily christopher [25 Jul 2008|09:35am]
the new york times reported today that Larry E. Craig said:
“What we know is that where we were allowed to drill, down in the Gulf of Mexico, that’s where a majority of our current oil supplies are coming from, even in the deep water,” Mr. Craig said. “But off the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington, Virginia, the Carolinas and Florida, it’s: ‘No. Heck, no.’ The politics won’t let us go there.”

but to the contrary, this other website reports figures that i'm more familiar with: "In the year 2000, American commercial field production made up 33.51% of its total supply of crude oil, while imports made up 52.21%. In 2005, those same percentages were 28.44% and 55.85%, respectively."

furthermore, this other website reports that: "Last year, the U.S. imported 3,670,403 thousand barrels of oil. Of those 3.67 billion barrels of oil, the U.S. imported from a total of 42 different countries. The top 5 importing countries were Canada (16.34%), Mexico (15.42%), Saudi Arabia (14.30%), Venezuela (12.24%), and Nigeria (10.54%), for a total of 68.84% of all American imports."

we cannot allow republicans to report untruths to the american people. this is disgusting. the things is, smart people like us know what's happening because we read the new york times; we know how to google information (right seth?) but those who can't call themselves cognoscenti will not know what's happening. i constantly worry how fox news is reporting on the oil crisis. so what can we do to get out this information?
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christopher talks health care [23 Jul 2008|11:28am]
the new york times reported on obama's health care plan today. the criticisms are interesting, but i don't know what i think yet. read it and let me know what you make of the figures.
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christopher's human evolution [16 Jul 2008|11:37am]
in an article from the times, e. o. wilson's thoughts about evolution are distinguished from richard dawkins: "Many evolutionary biologists have been persuaded, by works like “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins, that the gene is the only level at which natural selection acts. Dr. Wilson, changing his mind because of new data about the genetics of ant colonies, now believes that natural selection operates at many levels, including at the level of a social group.

It is through multilevel or group-level selection — favoring the survival of one group of organisms over another — that evolution has in Dr. Wilson’s view brought into being the many essential genes that benefit the group at the individual’s expense. In humans, these may include genes that underlie generosity, moral constraints, even religious behavior. Such traits are difficult to account for, though not impossible, on the view that natural selection favors only behaviors that help the individual to survive and leave more children."

this is amazing! you know i've always loved e. o. wilson so much. however, i do not believe the complete power of biology and i do not believe that biologist should rule the world.
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christopher looks at joan didion [16 Jul 2008|08:16am]
so again, i'm reading joan didion's political fictions upon elizabeth's recommendation. i'm currently reading an essay she wrote about the clinton election in 1992, and lo and behold, there on page 146, didion mentions an old political science teacher i had in college, natalie davis. i think natalie davis is super smart, and when i share this quote basically from davis, you'll see that she's amazingly clever too, but didion also shows how politics can be about nothing but marketing these days. in speaking about how shallow and image-driven political races can be, didion notes that, "Peter Brown quoted suggestions made to Alabama party officials by the Democratic pollster Natalie Davis." Here are the suggestions:
1. "Instead of talking about Democrats lifting someone out of poverty describe the party's goal as helping average Americans live the good life."
2. "Instead of saying Democrats want to eliminate homelessness and educate the underclass, talk about their first home and offer financial help to middle-class families to send their kids to college."
3. "Instead of saying the Democrats want to provide health care for the poor, focus on making sure all working Americans have coverage."
I can almost hear Davis making these suggestions in my head. and i don't believe davis doesn't care about these issues, on the contrary, she knows how to sell herself so that perhaps she can take care of these issues in office. but didion argues that this character-based performance, disguising the issues, is what's hurting american politics and the political process and lawmaking.

furthermore, reading didions piece on clinton's '92 election, i'm noting some eerily similarities to the current elections we're sitting through. let me share a few: "There were in fact a number of such dispiriting similarities between what was said at teh Democratic convention in Atlanta in 1988 and what wassaid a the Democratic convention in New York in 1992. There was the same insistent stress on 'unity,' on 'running on schedule.'" at one point, i think didion even identifies "change" as a thematic word in the elections. she also notes how clinton works the student audiences at colleges.

another eerie coincidence: "[1992] was a year in which 944,000 American citizens and businesses filed for bankruptcy, a figure up twenty-one percent from the year before. This was a year in which 213,000 jobs vanished in the city of New York alone, 113,000 more than the '100,000 bureaucrats' Governor Clinton proposed to lose by attrition from the federal government. This was a year in which the value of real property had sunk to a point at which Citicorp could agree to sell a vacant forty-four-story office tower at 45th Street and Broadway to Bertelsmann A. G. for $119 million, #134 million less than the $253 million mortgage Citicorp held on the property."
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did she get the best of christopher? [10 Jul 2008|06:18pm]
gail collins wrote an excellent opinion piece for today's times in defense of barak obama. it's left me thinking all day. she finds it silly that people (read: the media) are accusing obama of flip-flopping and slowly sliding to the center. collins writes:

"Think back. Why, exactly, did you prefer Obama over Hillary Clinton in the first place? Their policies were almost identical — except his health care proposal was more conservative. You liked Barack because you thought he could get us past the old brain-dead politics, right? He talked — and talked and talked — about how there were going to be no more red states and blue states, how he was going to bring Americans together, including Republicans and Democrats."

and this seems reasonable. perhaps people did foolishly vote for barak over my beloved hill-hill because he took a most centrist position. this means that barak should have won; he won rightfully and not just because he seems like the revitalization of the american camelot. however, i still hold that these people should have been paying closer attention to the political positions hillary and barak held. and this is when joan didion comes in.

i began reading joan didion's book of essays titled political fictions today, by elizabeth frye's recommendation. the first essay, titled "insider baseball," published in october, 1988, concerns the election that year between reagan and dukakis and about didion's first experience covering american politics (particularly the presidential election) and her subsequent attitudes toward american politics in general. the essay mostly demonstrates the way in which political figures and political events are staged for the media, how the issues are left behind to accommodate media coverage and horserace strategy. let me share a quote or two that have affected me today, subsequent to my reading the collins piece this morning, that i think are fitting when considering collins' argument. she notes that bush appeals to a return to "pre-war" values, and does not push policy or an agenda or ideas, but rather both he and dukakis instead rely upon an assesment of character. she quotes George Bush as saying, "'What it comes down to, after all the shouting and the cheers, is the man at the desk," then continues, "In other words, what it 'came down to,' what is was 'about,' what was wrong or right with America, was not an historical shift largely unaffected by teh actions of individual citizens but 'character,' and if 'character' could be seen to count, then every citizen- since everyone was a judge of character, an expert in the field of personality- could be seen to count. This notion, that the citizen's choice among determinedly centrist candidates makes a 'difference,' is in fact the narrative's most central element, and its most fictive."

didion basically tells us that when politicians play to the center, when both try to appeal to both sides, then the battle becomes one based on character. and that character is a fiction. and not only is it a fiction, it's a completely worthless assesment to leave out ideas and platforms. we should be angry that obama is not acting as the progressive catalyst this country deserves. we do not need a president who will pander for votes, who will not lead this country to a definite goal. we need someone who will stand up to actually change this country, who will do something definite for this country.

a friend of mine, seth persons, recently contrasted the attitude of my generation with those of the generation which came of age during the late sixties and seventies, and seth came to the conclusion (correctly in my opinion) that our generation still hopes for and holds utopian ideals, but sets more concrete, realistic, realizable goals for ourselves. and that's the leader we need at this time: a leader who will set definite goals for change and improvement and not someone who can give stunning speeches of centrist appeasement.
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christopher and obama over and over [08 Jul 2008|11:44am]
Bob Herbert wrote an excellent, must-read opinion piece published in today's times concerning Obama's pandering to the Right. he argues that while obama began campaigning as a rare breed of politician, as a progressive, honest liberal, he's actually been spouting more conversative ideas lately. he notes:
"So there he was in Zanesville, Ohio, pandering to evangelicals by promising not just to maintain the Bush program of investing taxpayer dollars in religious-based initiatives, but to expand it. Separation of church and state? Forget about it.

"And there he was, in the midst of an election campaign in which the makeup of the Supreme Court is as important as it has ever been, agreeing with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas that the death penalty could be imposed for crimes other than murder. What was the man thinking?"

like i've been saying, we cannot just stand back and let obama pass through. he is not as liberal as everyone has been led to believe. he is not as substantive as everyone has been led to believe. we must keep our eyes and ears open and hold obama accountable to his promises and his platform. certainly, this pandering to the right-wing is minor and does not necessarily mean that obama wouldn't make a good president or that he's necessarily converative. but it does mean we have to pay attention to what obama is really saying and what he says he can give america and that we must demand something more from obama.
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christopher at his office this morning [24 Jun 2008|12:56pm]
the office environment is weird here today. one of my coworkers never showed up this morning. we were informed this morning that he died in a car accident last night on 459. it's so surreal that he's dead. i didn't even know him that well; he's just a guy whose desk was next to mine. but it weird that i could never see him again. it's not like i have quit my job and don't expect to see these people again. i can't run into him randomly at the grocery store. he can't be contacted if years from now i decided to write a memoir about my time as a banker. and everyone here is crying, is sad and lethargic now. i heard one coworker remark that she thinks she knows [some] of her coworkers better than her family because you spend so much time here. and while i don't share this sentiment, i do think the experience, the sudden emptiness is surreal. it's too conceptual. it can't be experienced.
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christopher says, 'obama?' [23 Jun 2008|08:52am]
let's look at the times article released this morning concerning obama's endorsement of corn ethanol. corn ethanol, one of my favorite topics as many of you know. very little is given to explain the mystery of obama's endorsement except that obama comes from a corn growing state. however, the times polites critiques his endorsement by noting that, "economists, consumer advocates, environmental experts and tax groups have been critical of corn ethanol programs as a boondoggle that benefits agribusiness conglomerates more than small farmers." and notice this gem of a jab: "Mr. Obama is running as a reformer who is seeking to reduce the influence of special interests. But like any other politician, he has powerful constituencies that help shape his views." the difference between mccain and obama on this issue seems to be that mccain advocates abolishing subsidies to corn growers and allow more sugar cane ethanol to enter the market to lower energy prices.

also, listening to npr this morning, after the energy summit, while saudi arabia will be producing more oil, energy experts say this further production will little effect gas prices. it's a supply/demand sort of thing.
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christopher lambasts the little shit [17 Jun 2008|03:15pm]
so someone pointed out that some little high school shit from alabama wrote a letter to the times concerning a book review which appeared in the paper. i tracked down the letter to the editor today to see what all the fuss about, and here it is. let's talk about it.

the little shit is complaining that this reviewer longs for the next great american novel, something that i have longed for, and t. s. eliot has longed for, and everyone in between. it's nothing new. so this little kid, speaking for our generation, says we're working on it. he says that despite the fact that we're superficial and have ruined by facebook and online blogging, we're going to write something fantastic, that we'll wow the world. well i say, maybe he's right. but this kid is definitely not the one who will accomplish it. he can't even write a straightforward sentence that makes sense. let's take for example this quote: "You’ve heard it straight from the tropical mouth of a teenager who is entirely conscientious of the metamorphoses in ideas, principles (or lack thereof) and influences being undergone by your Youth right under your collective noses: the next Great American Novel will come not from Pynchon, Wallace, DeLillo (he’s already had his turn anyway) or any other of your literary heroes." at first this sentence looks like it makes sense, but let's dissect it a little. his mouth is "tropical?" he is "conscientious," defined as "controlled by or done according to conscience; scrupulous," he is "controlled by conscience of the metamorphoses in ideas?" really? and at 18 or 19 do you really think you are that conscious of the trends of an entire american generation, especially while growing up in what, montgomery, alabama? i just it's brave to write a letter to the times, and perhaps he's right, but he probably should have had someone edit his letter for him.
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christopher wants to address this first thing in the morning [17 Jun 2008|09:00am]
an associate on mine emailed me an article on the bbc website detailing recent scientific findings that show that the brain shapes of gay men correspond to straight women and those of gay women to straight men. the swedish scientists further infer that this must mean that homosexuality must be determined in the womb, in our genetics. this idea is ludacris. i do not believe homosexuality is natural, as i'm sure i've stated several times before. the article vaguely states that, "The Karolinska team said that these differences could not be mainly explained by "learned" effects, but needed another mechanism to set them, either before or after birth." why? where is the research that determines this? have there been studies concerning the brain shapes of young children whose sexualities are unshaped as modern psychology would have it. current trends in psychology insist that young children are sexual, yet are generally bisexual and do notbehave in the same sexual patterns that adolescents and adults engage. and if homosexuality is genetic, how are wide arrays of sexuality, specifically bisexuality, explained? i just think that scientists are jumping to conclusions. i think scientists want homosexuality to be genetics for two reasons: first, it allows scientists to claim that everything can be explained empirically, second, it gives some false sense of equality to homosexual men and women, that they cannot help themselves, that nature made them this way, that their sins may be forgiven. however, i argue that first, everything cannot be explained empirically, and second, that genetics do not create an ground for sexual equality. if you were going to have a baby and could choose its sexuality, would you rather it be straight (normal) or gay (abnormal)?

i'd also like to briefly note a comment i heard this morning on npr news. madre has recently been nagging me that we should open oil reserves in the united states, that we should open the alaskan pipeline, that we should commence with further off-shore drilling, which is ridiculous and i don't know why madre supports this. how republican of her, and she's never before espoused republican views. the economy makes people crazy. anyway, an american energy analysis this morning noted that due to the rising consumption of oil in other countries, the affect of domestic oil would be minor, would barely affect the price of oil. furthermore, if drilling were to beging today, it would take five to ten years for that oil to reach the market. there is very little congress can do to correct the rising price of oil. what americans have to do is look to alternative transportation and demand higher wages to combat general inflation.
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fresh christopher [11 Jun 2008|10:15am]
the new york times reported that while perhaps obama seems like a breath of fresh air, this may be nothing but an air he puts on. actually that's not exactly right. the times just reported that the economic positions of both obama and mccain are traditional to the parties through which each is running. and actually i do not disagree with obama's position which is redistribution of the tax burden especially by allowing tax breaks for the wealthy to expire. However, the New York Times reporter did add that Obama "has not emphasized the market-friendly, deficit-reduction aspects of the economic approach credited to former President Bill Clinton and former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin in the 1990s."

of course, what i find most fun are the jibes the candidates having been making at one another: "Mr. Obama and the Democrats have been accusing Mr. McCain of running for Mr. Bush’s third term by giving costly tax breaks to the wealthy. Mr. McCain shot back on Monday, in an interview on NBC News, that Mr. Obama seemed to be running for 'Jimmy Carter’s second' term by relying on tax-and-spend policies." jimmy carter, we miss you?
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christopher wonders about relationships [10 Jun 2008|10:39am]
"One of the most common stereotypes in heterosexual marriages is the “demand-withdraw” interaction, in which the woman tends to be unhappy and to make demands for change, while the man reacts by withdrawing from the conflict. But some surprising new research shows that same-sex couples also exhibit the pattern, contradicting the notion that the behavior is rooted in gender, according to an abstract presented at the 2006 meeting of the Association for Psychological Science by Sarah R. Holley, a psychology researcher at Berkeley."
this was from an article concerning how same-sex marriages may provide a model for egalitarian relationships.
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