Thursday, November 30, 2006

More trouble in Russia

One day after a former spy died from poisoning, a former prime minister is in the hospital with "suspicious symptoms." The former PM has criticized current president Vladimir Putin's policies, but his public influence is currently minor at best. He was a leading in figure in post-Soviet economic reform, lifting price restrictions and privatizing, in other words, making Russia like capitalist America. And now he might have been poisoned. Is Putin murdering his enemies, as many leaders before him have? I'm not familiar with the current Russian political structure, so I'm not sure how much absolute power Puting has, how much he can get away with. But this all looks very suspicious, especially after a journalist who vocally criticized Putin was also murdered a few months ago.
I recently read a quote by a right-wing nut (I don't remember the name) that Hollywood refuses to make movies about Soviet Russia because of the movie industry's deep-seated Communist sympathies. Considering that Hollywood is one of the most capitalistic industries in the US, and a perfect example of financial excess, I doubt very much that this is true. Also, this person clearly hasn't seen Citizen X, an HBO movie from ten years ago. It's about the hunt for Soviet-era Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, and how the search was hampered by Soviet bureaucracy. It was a mandate of communism, and it's quoted in the movie, that serial killers are a product of "decadent" capitalism, and therefore cannot exist in a communist state. But as the mounting body count proves, this assertion is wrong. With the refusal of the government to acknowledge that the killer exists, and the fact that Chikatilo, an initial suspect, is released because he is a high-ranking party member, Chikatilo is allowed to kill more than 50 victims, most of them younger than 17. It's not until the Soviet system is overturned that the police finally get the resources they need to track the killer. In its illustration of how party rhetoric allowed a savage serial killer to go free, and its bleak portrayal of day-to-day Soviet life (including the government's persecution of homosexuals), Citizen X is a perfect argument against Soviet communism. But as displayed in recent murders and suspect events, the fall of communism hasn't made Russia any safer.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mythological creatures

You Are a Mermaid
You are a total daydreamer, and people tend to think you're flakier than you actually are.While your head is often in the clouds, you'll always come back to earth to help someone in need.Beyond being a caring person, you are also very intelligent and rational.You understand the connections of the universe better than almost anyone else.
What Mythological Creature Are You?

This does seem to accurately describe me, with the "total daydreamer" and "head in the clouds" and, I hope, "intelligent and rational" and "will always come back to earth to help someone in need."
I was on today (why bother working), a site that tracks bogus "alternative" medical treatments. In response to the "health freedom" defense of allowing quacks to pursue their "practices" with no investigation. Total freedom, the site's author explains, depends on all members of a society being totally trustworthy, which is never the case. Therefore, like it or not, especially in the realm of public health, not everything can be permitted or publically funded. The same principle could be applied to corporate freedom too, with corporation advocates demanding that they be allowed to run their businesses without any regulation. After all, who's more trustworthy than the heads of corporations? That was sarcasm, in case you couldn't tell.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Another asshole to add to the list

Last night, I ran into a guy I had gone out with twice, but never heard back from. And yes, he had found a girlfriend. At least this one told me to my face, unlike the last one, when I had to find out from secondhand sources. And he thought my name was Katie. I wasn't crazy about this guy, and I'm not exactly heartbroken over this, but it pisses me off that after going out twice, and spending the night at his house, that he didn't remember my name. Where the hell did he get Katie?
But the major thing I take away from this experience, another in a long line of similar experiences, is that I can never get any guy to stick around for more than one night or a few months. I wonder if there's something fundamentally wrong with me, if there's something about me that says "One-night stand, not relationship material." I know I don't talk much, but most guys don't even try to get me to come out of my shell. I see everyone around me falling in love and pairing up while I'm left alone, and though I'm happy for my friends, I feel a tinge of jealousy and sadness when another one pairs off. Will I ever find anyone? I have great friends to help me through this, but after last night I wonder if I'll ever hold onto anyone longer than one night, if I'll forever be the casual sex girl that guys go to when they can't find the girl of their dreams. Will I ever be the girl of their dreams, the one they give up all other girls for, the one they want to share their lives with? I know I'm young, but I've never been anyone's girlfriend, just a friend or a fuck buddy. That was fine for a while, and I'm not looking to get married and settle down just yet, but I'd like a sign that it might happen someday, and I haven't gotten any sign like that yet.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Terrorism in the Roman Empire?

Of course, terrorism is as old as belief clashes and humanity itself, but according to an apocalyptic scholar (I didn't know they gave degrees in that field) interviewed in last night's "Secrets of the Dead" on PBS, about the fire of 64 AD in Rome, the fire was the act of early Christians, trying to topple the "decadent" Roman empire. Sound familiar? This German scholar went on to say that the fabled "Whore of Babylon" in the book of Revelation was a metaphor for Rome, the city of the seven hills. Like the Muslim jihadists of our era, these early Christians, disgusted with what they perceived as immorality in the Roman Empire's ruling class (granted, they wouldn't be wrong), spurred on by prophecy, decided to burn the city, the epicenter of the empire that persecuted them and they viewed as decadent. Nero, the emperor at the time of the fire, was accused by history of scapegoating the Christians for the fire, possibly to cover up his own involvement, but according to this latest conspiracy theory, he was just meting out typically gruesome Roman justice. Nero's punishment for the Christians for starting the fire? Tying them to stakes and setting them on fire, to be used as human torches for an extravagent party at his new palace, built on the charred remains of old Rome.
Nero's new palace led to the first conspiracy theory about the fire, that Nero or men acting on his orders started the fire for the sole purpose of smoking out the senators and other Rome illuminaries standing in the way of construction of his new palace. Roman historian Tacitus added to this theory, recording that men with torches were seen amid the flames, saying they were acting on orders. Over time, this theory has been given little more credibility than the current 9/11 conspiracy theory that the Bush administration orchestrated the attacks themselves. Yes, a lot about the official account of 9/11 doesn't add up, and America-hating Muslim terrorists would have been the perfect scapegoat, but many consider it a strectch to suggest that even Bush and his league of evil could plan and execute something like this. Even I, with my sometimes irrational hatred of this administration, have trouble believing it. Muslim terrorists who hate America and are willing to kill themselves in the fight against what they view as an evil empire do exist. Whether this justifies Bush's current foreign "policy" is the subject for another post. Yes, Nero was an egomaniac (like many others in his position as the absolute ruler of a powerful empire) who had no problem destroying those who stood in his way. But if the fire was arson designed to level prime real estate in Rome for a new palace, why does evidence indicate that the fire started in the slums, populated by the poor who adored Nero's spectacle? Conspiracy theorists always said that the fire couldn't have spread naturally, but a fire expert interviewed in last night's show indicated through a demonstration that it could have, and an archaeologist showed remains of supposedly strong buildings destroyed in the fire. In the pre-electric days of ancient Rome, open flames were the only source of light and heat, and in the wooden shelters of the poor, the fire could have easily spread. Like the Chicago fire, the fire of Rome was most likely an unfortunate accident, which Nero used to his advantage.
But what about the prophecy, and the men with torches? Records from this time are hardly airtight, and the fire expert in last night's show provided a more plausible theory. When a fire starts, or any other vandalism, such as the LA Riots, many spectators get involved just for the sake of mindless destruction. The Christians, seeing the city they loathed go up in flames, might have added to the fire as an act of revenge. But the so-called "evidence" that they started the fire themselves is in religious prophecy and the actions of an arrogant emperor who needed a scapegoat to satisfy the populus, at least a few of whom thought he was involved. In the last two thousand years, fanatic Christians have proven themselves capable of unimaginable destruction and bloodshed, but I can't see that, given more plausible evidence and theories, they can claim credit for the fire that destroyed Rome. But, as the show pointed out, we'll probably never know what happened on July 19, 64 AD.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pathetic men on both sides

As you know, I have received countless messages from guys desperate to get laid, and many of my friends have as well, including other guys. One male friend told me someone wrote to him on MySpace telling him that my friend looked like he did when he was younger, and asked him to help "relive the memories" or something stupid like that. And, here's the worst part, the guy was married. I didn't think guys like that could ever get laid. This asshole can get married, but I can't hold on to a guy for more than a few months. I've met a few (straight) guys who think gay guys are all out to harass straight guys, that they're nothing but walking hormones trying to get laid and preying on whoever walks by. First of all, that is not true of all gay guys. Second of all, the ones that do harass you with lame "compliments" are not doing it and refusing to back down because they're gay, they're doing it because they're men. And, being a guy, you're not used to the lame attempts some guys use on whoever they want to get in their pants. When a gay guy hits on you, you're experiencing what women have to put up with constantly. Gay or straight, the stupider of the breed is prone to this behavior. As another (female) friend told me on this topic, these guys need help. She got a message calling her "HOOT" and she joked whether it meant hot or hoot. That's another thing about most of these guys. They can't type or spell, relying on phrases like "holla back" or the now generic "hey sexy." Yet another female friend commented on this abuse of the English language, asking if the less educated these guys sound, do they think that will make us like them more? At the very least, these guys, though it's sad that they exist, are good for a laugh.
I've been feeling a bit depressed and lethargic lately, and I likely won't return with more serious posts until after this passes.

Friday, November 10, 2006

My passions of life

I found this quote from Bertrand Russell, and feel that it applies very well to me and the passions in my life: "Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind...this has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered."
Those who know me and read my post know all too well how powerful the pursuit of love is in my life, and I love to read and learn new things about the world. And last of all, most of the news of the world is so overwhelmingly bad and upsetting that I often can't bring myself to read it, even though I should to contribute to my knowledge.
I think all of us want to love, learn, and we all feel for others to a certain degree, some more than others. Too much empathy can be a bad thing, but I'd rather have too much than too little or none at all.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

My political profile

I got this from my friend John's MySpace profile, and while I'm not sure I entirely agree, I guess it's fairly accurate:

You are a

Social Liberal
(80% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(16% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rumsfeld steps down

But we shouldn't start celebrating yet. His successor is a "close friend of the Bush family." After an Election Day that saw Republicans losing ground in the House and Senate, the Bush faithful are dealt another blow. Senator Bill Frist, a member of Bush's inner circle (who once said that HIV can be transmitted through tears and sweat), now says Democrats and Republicans need to work together for success in Iraq. I think that ship has sailed and crashed on the shore, with more and more deaths reported every day, no exit strategy, and no end in sight for the Iraqi insurgency. Considering that the administration couldn't even determine a cause for invading; first it was to find WMDs, then Saddam Hussein's alleged, and still unproven, Al-Qaeda connection, then to "liberate" the people from Hussein. They weren't counting on Hussein still having supporters, and that they would be as violent and ruthless as the now deposed dictator himself. I know most in Iraq were happy to be rid of Saddam, much like the rest of the world. But you don't rise to power without at least a few supporters willing to do whatever it takes to instill loyalty in the masses. However noble the cause of deposing a cruel dictator, this war, spearheaded by Rumsfeld, was poorly planned on a shaky foundation, and the administration, politicians, and, most of all, US troops and Iraqi civilians, are feeling the dire consequences.

Victory for O'Malley and Cardin

No more Ehrlich. How long did he expect to last in the Democratic legislature of Maryland anyway? Although Republican rag The Washington Times declared that absentee ballots might turn the tide for Ehrlich and his former lieutenant governor Steele. Let's hope not. The Virginia senate race between Allen and Webb is still too close to call. But Democrats are regaining control of the House and Senate, due to dissatisfaction with Iraq strategy and "President" Bush and his league of evil in general. I don't know about anyone else, but Dick Cheney still scares the shit out of me. "And if you flunk out of that school, you're going straight into the army where you'll be sent to America's latest military quagmire. Where will it be? North Korea, Iran, anything's possible with Commander Cuckoo-Bananas in charge."-Homer Simpson
For all my complaining about lame messages from desperate guys, I thought I'd share one that actually made me want to get to know the person sending it. The typing is still terrible, but at least the content is more than "your hot" or "nice rack": "i'm not looking to 'get laid' or any stupid crap by asking to be a friend, just like the association with other intelligent people such as yourself. Please consider it. Creativity and a like mindset can go along way." This guy has obviously read my complaints about other guys, which means he read my profile and didn't just look at the pictures. I had gotten a previous message from the same guy, and he made it clear that he thought we had some things to talk about. I guess it's not all bad out there. And, to any guys attempting to get my attention, this is how to do it, not with some stupid two-word comment about my "rack."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The lame come-ons never cease

I received even more predictable, uninspired messages over the weekend. I was going to post them yesterday, but got caught up in my slice of election coverage (which would have been more appropriate for today, but oh well).
Anyway, here goes.
The first one actually isn't too bad: "hi my name is..., 24 black male looking for a chick to hang out with you, you look nice holla back" A bit nicer than I'm used to, despite the terrible grammar and syntax, but he ended with "gtown in the building" Call me a snob, but I have very little desire to get involved with people who talk like that. His profile wasn't all that appealing either (another "girl collector").
But the next two are examples of the lame, stupid, juvenile messages I get way too often.
"i just want to see those hot titties!!"
"nice rack!!" Just a note, that was the entire message. Two words. Two boring predictable words. Really, what was that supposed to accomplish? I am not inclined to respond to messages that sound like catcalls. It tells me nothing about the guy sending it, other than that he likes my breasts, and, not to sound conceited, because I've heard it a lot, who doesn't? But if I ignore the catcalls on the street, I'm going to ignore similarly phrased emails.

I will be voting after work, and hope everyone votes today. It's up to us to take the first step in flushing out the crap of our government.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Midterm elections: down to the wire

Election Day is tomorrow. After that, for a whole year, no more negative campaign ads, no more "flier people" standing outside Metro stations stumping for their candidates. We will have fulfilled our duty as citizens, and free for the next year to live out our lives with the consequences of our choices.
Living in Montgomery County, MD, the biggest races in my area are for Governor and Senate. All I know here is that the Republican candidates, Ehrlich for governor and his former lieutenant governor Michael Steele for Senate, pretend to support "the people" while supporting pro-corporate legislation. Ehrlich, for example, supported amnesty for corporations, refused to raise the minimum wage, and cut spending for colleges, all while trumping his "working class" background in Arbutus in his ads. Steele's ads were all flash and no substance (even very little of the negative kind), and has some supporters trying to turn the election into a race issue, even getting the Democratic officials of Prince George's County on his side. Ben Cardin, his opponent, voted against the war in Iraq, which, in this time of growing impatience with the President's war effort, is a major selling point for him. In a televised debate (the term is used loosely, the two candidates were not in the same room), Ehrlich's opponent, Martin O'Malley, was clear, succinct, and articulate in his final statement (that's all I saw, so maybe I can't claim a well-rounded view of the debate), outlining his major points, education, crime, and state spending.
Maryland, with mountains in the west, shore on the east, and a big city in the middle, has been called "America in Miniature." A few years ago, that was also true of the state's politics. While President Clinton was contending with the consequences of infidelity (which, in my opinion, should never have been public knowledge in the first place), Maryland's then-governor, Parris Glendening, was having a similar problem. I don't have all the details of the story, but he cheated on his wife, and this caused some more conservative residents and delegates to cry for his removal. When the next election rolled around, Glendening's lieutenant governor ran an ineffective campaign, and, like Vice President Al Gore, was tainted by her former boss's indiscretions. This left the stage clear for Republican Bob Ehrlich to take office. Ehrlich, like George W. Bush, is pro-business and pro-rich, cutting taxes and education spending, while putting on a mask of being "of the people" that runs contrary to their policies and own priviledged backgrounds.
In my family, the animosity toward Ehrlich takes on a more personal tone than our animosity toward Bush. Many years ago, my mother worked at the same law firm as Ehrlich, then an associate attorney. After four years in Columbus Ohio (which I don't recommend), my mother returned to Maryland to discover that the man she hated at her old law firm was now the governor. She knows first-hand his phoniness, how he claims to be "working class," but, she says, "He went to more private schools than Bush." A bit of gossip from my mother and Ehrlich's old firm: according to the other associates' wives, Ehrlich's wife is a total bitch.
There ends my Election Day special. I should probably get back to work.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bush goes existential

Well, sort of. Recently, "President" Bush claimed he had been reading the works of existentialist and French Resistance leader Albert Camus. This is a very amusing concept for several reasons, the least of which is that the allegorical, philosophical writing of Camus would appear to be over Bush's head. As an ardent admirer of Camus, and an ardent detractor of Bush, there are many other reasons to be at least amused by the concept of Bush reading Camus.
One: Camus, unlike "Jesusland" president Bush, who is attempting to tear down the wall between church and state by funding "faith-based" programs and church-sponsored abstinence education, was an atheist. The Stranger concludes with the imprisoned protagonist confronting a priest and proudly declaring his lack of belief. "The Missionary," one of Camus' finest short stories, involves the title character's mission being turned on its head, with him converted to the pagan idolotry of the primitive tribe he was meant to convert to Christianity. His fanaticism is transferred to the idol in a satire of the nature of faith.
Two: I wonder if Bush read Camus' essay "Reflections on the Guillotine," in which Camus eloquently and convincingly argues against capital punishment. With Bush's determination to "stay the course" in a dead-end war, and his career-long support of the death penalty, if he did read it, he wasn't convinced. The essay opens with a description of Camus' father after he has witnessed an execution. Camus describes him as coming home and vomiting. Whatever revenge is supposedly sated by witnessing an execution, it is still watching someone die, which, unless you're one of the sociopathic killers on death row, is not a pleasant experience.
Three: Camus, as a member of the French Resistance and author of The Rebel, was always the type to question authority, and not give into government propaganda. If Camus were living in America today, I'd like to think that he'd be as disgusted with the current administration as I am. He'd be working at a publication like Combat, the one he edited in France during World War II, where he voiced his opposition to the Nazi occupation. Camus, like his fellow Resistance members and existentialists, believed in the necessity of dissent and rebellion. Bush's government, in its desperation to fuel patriotism and support for an unpopular war through wiretapping and holding prisoners without a trial, is trying to squash both. But we can take some comfort in the fact that, with lines of communication more open and immediate than ever, and two judges finding the wiretapping unconstitutional, and Bush's waning popularity and that he'll be out of office in two years, the rebellious spirit has not been squelched, despite all the far right's best efforts.