Oh! Strunk & White, where are you?10.31.2004
Yes, I'm a writing snob. And that makes grading student papers a very draining process, much of the time. Some clearly didn't even bother to run the simple Word spellchecking tool. Some try to sound "academic", filling their paper w/ complex prose & five-dollar-words — w/ the end product just a muddled mess of improper subject-verb agreements, mid-sentence changes in tenses, or just plain confusion (a good sentence, after all, should make one argument, not three). Sure, I don't grade entirely on grammar & style, but it does go a long way towards papers making more sense.Continue reading "Oh! Strunk & White, where are you?"
The naked candidate10.31.2004
Jaime Paz Pereira — MIR candidate for mayor of La Paz, Bolivia — appeared in a a recent TV spot, nude. Campaigning in the buff is the new thing in Latin America, w/ Chilean candidates taking the lead (one candidate in Chile's known for nude door-to-door campaigning).
And you thought US elections were crazy?
First slow day in a long time10.30.2004
Finally got to sleep in, before a late lunch w/ Duane at Bilbo's. Then a walk through a windy campus down to The Rocket Star, where I read a few comics, drank some coffee, ate a donut. Then home to do laundry, wash dishes, eat dinner. Decided to take advantage of my Netflix account to watch AI: Artificial Intelligence & Fargo.Continue reading "First slow day in a long time"
Posted by Miguel at 11:07 PM | Permalink
To IKEA & back10.29.2004
After a short sleep, I woke to a six-hour morning shift at The Rocket Star. Not too busy, since it's Friday & there was a phenomenal combo of low clouds & lightning, w/ some dewey rain tossed in. It was quite nice. And w/ the quiet, I got to re-read the essential chapters of Imagined Communities while listening to the now-defunct Spring & Brittle Stars. Also a surprise visit by Megan Red & Dave.
Bay kidnapped me this afternoon, as she's sometimes prone to do. So we drove to Battle Creek for dinner w/ a coworker of hers & his wife. Some extremely delicious north Japanese cuisine, interesting conversation about Benedict Anderson, and a photo slide show that suggested Hokkaido looks remarkably like Wisconsin.
Now. After two long days. Off to bed.
ORD-LHR // ROMA // BCN-ORD10.27.2004
I've booked my flights. After much scrounging, I found the cheapest flights for my holiday trip to visit my cousin in Rome. Only $447! Yay, Orbitz.Continue reading "ORD-LHR // ROMA // BCN-ORD"
It's congress, stupid10.27.2004
My latest Herald column is online here. It's all about why the presidential elections don't really matter — not as much as congressional elections, anyhow.
Advice to non-winners10.26.2004
Thomas Maguire posted a short list of advice to Republicans in case Kerry wins. I thought I'd post my advice to Democrats in case Bush gets re-elected. Here's both:Continue reading "Advice to non-winners"
Posted by Miguel at 07:44 PM | Permalink
I finally did it10.26.2004
I finally broke down & dropped the $149 for Microsoft's newest edition of Office:mac. Mostly? For the new Word features that allow group commenting — and comments & draft version tracking — is extremely useful. I'll be installing that in the next several minutes.Continue reading "I finally did it"
More autumn pictures10.26.2004
This is turning into the most amazing Autumn I remember. Wow. Here's some snapshots from parts of campus. Click any image to see larger version.Continue reading "More autumn pictures"
What I did for lunch today10.25.2004
My noon meeting today went well, mostly getting a lot of questions answered about my options. I've not yet signed anything, but I'm scheduled for a Reserve OCS qualification exam next Monday (it's a 3-hour written exam). I'll most likely wait 'til mid-January before making a formal decision. But if I'm as far along on my dissertation as I hope, and getting ready to enter the job market in Fall 2005, I'd be able to enter boot mid-May.Continue reading "What I did for lunch today"
Your right to rock10.25.2004
What's always fascinated me about America's political system — and its political culture — is its unique foundation. I know of no other country founded on the principle that people have an inherent right to revolt (i.e. to overturn law itself).Continue reading "Your right to rock"
Samba da luna10.24.2004
The countries that've managed to put something in orbit are (in order): USSR/Russia, the United States, France, Japan, China, Great Britain, Germany, Israel, Australia, Italy, India. And, now, Brazil. (Besides independent launches, the European Union members also operate a joint space program.)
Remember your fallacies10.24.2004
Arguing some action is wrong simply because it's illegal, or violates some element of law is a logical fallacy. Specifically, an appeal to authority (or ipse dixit). Not all laws are moral (e.g. Jim Crow Laws, Nazi Nuremberg Laws). If you argue against some action (by a state or an individual) based solely on the strict legality of the matter, but w/o appealing to other moral, utilitarian, or pragmatic arguments, they you commit an ipse dixit fallacy.Continue reading "Remember your fallacies"
Morrissey, "Everyday Is Like Sunday"
Joy Division, "Ceremony"
The Stone Roses, "I Wanna Be Adored"
James, "Say Something"
The Sundays, "Love"
Siouxsie & The Banshees, "Dear Prudence"
The Cure, "A Night Like This"
Despite the autumn rain, I walked down to my neighborhood barbershop. Jim's an old New Dealer who's interesting to talk to. But I wonder if age has caught up w/ him; he's got home-made anti-Bush posters all over his little barbershop. The funniest one reads "Re-elect Hoover" (which is funny, if you get it).
At least we agree on one thing: my parents' (60s) generation & those that followed are among the most sanctimonious, self-absorbed, irresponsible people this country's ever produced. (Quote: "I can't trust the average 20-year-old college student to be a designated driver; how can I trust one to give tactical fire support?") Which makes us both happy there's a steady inflow of immigrants ("legal" or otherwise) to keep adding new blod — and new impulse — to the American dream.
Because when also's said & done — we ARE a great country, we CAN do great things. FDR called us the "Arsenal of Democracy"; Kennedy called us the "New Frontier"; Reagan called us the "City on the Hill". I believe all of that's true. Bill Whittle writes about all that here.
Anyhow, I got my $10 haircut, went out for coffee & brunch at The Crow's Nest, graded student essays, then went home to watch Apollo 13 on SciFi.
UPDATE: Marco posted a link to his response to Whittle's essay, here. It's an excellent look at the differences between confidence & overconfidence, and the differences between Europeans & Americans. Go read it.
Long & busy day today. Worked a 6 to noon shift at The Rocket Star. Then home for a quick shower before a meeting w/ one of my dissertation advisors (she pointed me towards some literature on elite-driven identity politics dealing w/ post-transition Russia & Yugoslavia). After that, spent time w/ Dan, besting him at pool. Finally, a movie w/ Nenad & Mihaiela at campus' Little Theater.Continue reading "Long Friday"
My little brother, Andy, just called from his new home in Delaware. He's just seen the weirdest political ad & needed to share. So, after a brief, but frantic, Googling, I tracked it down. The soon-to-be-infamous "Cheesesteak ad" by regularguysforbush.org. Here's the anti-Kerry Cheesesteake ad (Quicktime) that aired in the Delaware Valley TV market.
Channel One & the election10.21.2004
Polls — while usually pretty accurate — don't always mean that much. At least, that's what many people think. But a fairly good proxy for the upcoming election is a recent Channel One presidential poll taking by high school & middle school youths across the country. If you don't know, Channel One is a nation-wide cable network available in a growing number of public schools across the country.Continue reading "Channel One & the election"
Sentenced to Bolivia10.21.2004
Having spent a year in Bolivia — on top of being born there & all — I can safely report that Bolivia's really not that bad. But when the United Nations decides to sentence Milosevic to jail in Bolivia (via Barrio Flores), well, you have to wonder. Why send him there? Of all the jails, in all the world, he has to be sent there? That just can't be good PR. And it's not just Milosevic (former Serbian president and genocidist), but other international human rights criminals. They want to inter them in Bolivian prisons. So. The message to international human rights abusers is: "You're going to jail ... in Bolivia." Like I said, there's no way this is good for the tourism industry.
Dear Sir or Madam or Bot10.21.2004
The Western Herald published my open letter to the university's Office of Information Technology regarding its new email policies. It's my latest column. Enjoy.
I had a really interesting (if somewhat uncomfortable) conversation in class today about why academics are liberally-biased. Actually, the student asked why most political scientists are left-leaning, but I thought it best to "open it up" so's to "cover my ass" as much as possible. But. Since all student questions are fair, I had to provide some semblance of an answer.
I suggested that, essentially, many fields are biased because they attract people w/ a specific bias to begin w/. Journalism's a classic example. It attracts people who question authority, who want to bring "truth" to "the people", etc. No surprise that studies find an overwhelming majority of journalists tend to vote Democrat.
But academic professions like sociology & political science tend to attract people who already lean left. I mean, look at what academic's study, and how the fields are broken down & categorized. This is especially true if you work for a state university. After all, it's difficult to oppose "big government" if your economic existence depends on a big government dedicated to promoting public education. Also, liberal arts types are perfect for the public university's broader goal, which spends public money to promote arts, culture, activism, etc.
Other disciplines, of course, tend to attract more conservative people. Like economics.
Let me give a very specific example: When was the last time you heard of an academic book, by a political scientist, by a "Latinamericanist" no less, argue that Pinochet's dictatorship was good for Chile? Most political science treatments start w/ the ideological assumption (an assumption I share, btw) that dictatorships are bad. You can, however, find books written by economists arguing that Pinochet's economic policies helped the economy.
There's also the bias inherent in what we call "socialization into the discipline" — something that happens automatically. In political science, we spend a great deal of time learning what kinds of data matter, what kinds of methods are most relevant, and what kinds of questions are "interesting". How could that not influence attitudes & beliefs?
Of course, every individual — regardless of his/her position — has individual political beliefs. These are biases. The trick is to compensate for them. Especially in a classroom. Because a classroom should be a forum for learning, not indoctrination — for either side.
As I head home from my office, I want to leave you w/ this thought to ponder and/or discuss: The Beatles
were are overrated.
Autumn on campus10.19.2004
Just a few snapshots of the brilliant & gorgeous autmn we're having this year in Kalamazoo. I took these on campus almost a week ago. Click on any image to see larger version.Continue reading "Autumn on campus"
Dumbest. Idea. Ever.10.19.2004
I just saw a brief blurb on The Screen Savers about what's perhaps one of the stupidest dotcom ideas I've ever heard: wingwomen.com. While the premise is sound — that men have an easier time meeting women at clubs/bars if accompanied by an attractive female friend — the idea for this as a business is stupid.
First, because the concept is so obvious, that everyone knows about this simple pickup strategy. Second, because if you don't have a single female friend, then no amount of money spent hiring professional "wing women" will help you w/ your problem. Third, because it looks like a thinly veiled escort service.
Good luck w/ comps, guys10.19.2004
Just a brief moment to wish my friends in the grad department who're finishing comps this week the best of luck. If you don't know, camps is crazy time for anyone in our department. And if you don't know what that's like, I'll explain:
Most people spend at least 2-3 months doing nothing but studying for comps (you do this when finished w/ all coursework). I went home to Saginaw, and hid out an entire summer. During this time, you tackle a reading list 8-10 pages long (books & articles). Or, at least, as much as you can. You study in two fields (either comparative politics, political theory, or American politics); I tested in theory & comparative.
Once back on campus, you spend a month or two looking over your notes. Then come the testing days. Each field is tested two days during one week (w/ a day between for rest) — three hours on, one our break, three hours on. Mostly, you sit in front of a computer & keyboard, typing frantically everything you can remember from your summer reading. You do this four different days, covering two weeks, until you finish two field exams.
When it's all over, you get to go home. To sleep, mostly. And wait about a month to see if you passed. Because if you pass, then you get to prepare for the oral exam, which takes about half a day, sitting in front of your test committee, defending your answers & expanding on them, as prompted by the committee.
When that's over, you get to sit alone for a while, waiting to hear whether you pass. If you pass? Congratulations! You're now ABD ("all but dissertation"). Now, go start working on your dissertation proposal & applying for research grants.
Because in a few months, you'll do a half day proposal defense before your dissertation committee. At least after that, you usually get invited out for dinner w/ your committee. I chose Cosmo's Cucina.
Stewart v. Crossfire10.18.2004
OMG. You've got to read this transcript of Jon Stewart taking on the Crossfire jerks on CNN (also a Windows Media file). If you've RealPlayer, you can see clip at iFilm. I tried to find a best quote or something. But I can't. His indictment of the partisan hackery that passes for "debate" in MSM (main stream media) is just too brutal, and too true.
Un año despues de Goni10.18.2004
Yesterday (17 October) was the one year anniversary of Goni's resignation as Bolivia's president. I had only recently arrived to La Paz, the capital, three weeks before. Just in time to see the last days of Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in power. Were many of the protesters' demands legitimate? Sure. But what did it get the country (besides the several dead during the uprising, of course), one year later?Continue reading "Un año despues de Goni"
I put my cats on Time Out today. I wanted badly to sleep in, but still fed them promptly at 8am, then crawled back to bed. But cats have ways of irritating someone whose attention they require. Annie prefers to sit on desks & toss things to the floor, one at a time, pausing to stare; Sophie's content to find a piece of paper & start tearing it into little strips, slowly — a brief tear, pause, stare, start again. Usually I can sit up, point, and they stop. Briefly.
But moments later, a hear another "sshhtear" or the sound of a paw scooting something towards the edge. I've learned the importance of cat-proofing my apartment.
This morning they took a Time Out. I jumped outa bed, chased them into the living room, and closed the bedroom door (me on my side, they on theirs). I managed a good four hours of sleeping in. When I finally crawled outa bed, took a shower, and headed out, I let them back in, tails between their legs, lightly meowing apologies — and demands for more food.
Thankfully, cats have extremely short memories. So now that I'm back from a coffee shift, they happily sit w/ me on my bed, purring while we watch Sci Fi. After a year away from them, I have to teach them manners all over again.
This Week's iMix includes a selection of Latin American & Spanish artists, in a variety of musical styles. Enjoy.
Gustavo Cerati, "No Te Creo (Pura Remix)"
Entre Rios, "Si Hoy"
Café Tacvba, "Cero Y Uno"
La Ley, "Fotofobia"
Aterciopelados, "El Estuche"
Los Enanitos Verdes, "Mal De Amores"
Molotov, "Chandwich A La Chichona"
WMU Homecoming Weekend10.17.2004
So busy today, I was hardly online. Well, except for the occasional peek from my Treo.
My brother Sam was in town, and we met up at Waldo's, supposedly for the big homecoming game. We mostly just milled about looking for some of Sam's friends from his Western days (he's an alumnus), before heading out to Bilbo's to meet some Betas for pool, before heading out together to Mi Ranchito for dinner. It was great to see Sam, and spend some time w/ some guys I rarely see — even if it meant being beaten at pool by a legally blind Indian.
The rain prevented watching a football game. Although I'm not sure anyone wanted to see the game, after losing their last four games (one by 63-0). Not that I much enjoy watching American football, even if it's not raining.
But I went to the night's WMU hockey game w/ Bay & Nick — and Bay's brother (Ran) & their dad. It was a lot more fun than a football game. And not just because I enjoy hockey, that weird blend of grace & violence. But also because the Bronco fans are just insanely, over-the-top mean to guest teams.
They turn their back, in crushing silence, when the other team enters the ice. They roar, waving to opposing players who're sent to the penalty box, ended w/ joint-unison chant of "See ya, bitch!" when he sits down. And then, these hundreds of fans yell out "Hey (insert name here), you suck! Cheater!" all at once, before individuals start heckling them. Stuff like that. Bay excitedly explained how other schools hate playing here because Bronco fans have the reputation of being the meanest fans around. And it's organized meanness.
Didn't do much difference in, in the end. Broncos lost to Alaska Fairbanks, 5-3.
Empathy v. psychopathy10.16.2004
Psychopathy (now called "antisocial personality disorder") is the opposite of empathy. It's a personality disorder characterized by antisocial & impulsive (some would say egotistical) behavior. It's clinically diagnosed if three of the following conditions are met:Continue reading "Empathy v. psychopathy"
Posted by Miguel at 02:53 AM | Permalink
Widgets & puppets10.15.2004
I just found this amazing website. You type in a band's name, and it makes a graphical map of similar bands you might like. The interface isn't as user-friendly as I'd like, but it's a cool way to find new bands (it works really well w/ indie groups) that sound like bands you like. Go, check it out.Continue reading "Widgets & puppets"
A new ethnic politics?10.15.2004
I'm been fascinated by the sudden political emergence of Heinz family fortune heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry (born Maria Teresa Thierstein Simoes-Ferreira). She married into the Heinz ketchup fortune; John Kerry married into her wealth. Sure, I appreciate a strong female political figure. That's not the issue. And I've nothing against marrying into money — if any millionairess wants to marry me, I'd certainly give it serious consideration.Continue reading "A new ethnic politics?"
The Western Herald republished this old blog post of mine today (since I was too lazy to write new material). Here's the print version. I should write some new columns specifically for the Herald, but I've just been too busy.
Posted by Miguel at 02:31 PM | Permalink
I'm about to take a shower, get dressed, pick out 5-6 CDs, feed my cats breakfast, then head over to The Rocket Star for a 6-12 shift. You should come by & keep me company.
Posted by Miguel at 05:03 AM | Permalink
You get what you negotiate10.14.2004
The Qatari ambassador (Omar Bader Al-Dafa) to the US spoke this evening on campus. And it was quite an interesting event. The soft-spoken Western alumnus spoke mainly about the close, friendly relationship between Qatar & the US, about how they're serving as host to the US military regional headquarters (CENTCOM), about how much he enjoyed his education in the US, etc. Of course, he's a diplomat, so he has to sound, well, diplomatic.
I'm drowning in a sea of suits. Help? .:from Treo
Not so smarty pants10.14.2004
Spent about three hours taking an IQ test this afternoon. Did really well on the spacial portion (I think), not so well on the math portion (I know). Now I'm pretty drained.
But there's a public lecture in an hour by the Qatari ambassador to the US on campus (it's advertised on the WMU News site, so I think it's OK to post here). I plan to attending. Perhaps some of my students will attend? The ambassador, btw, is a Western alumnus.
Also, I sort of screwed up my class today. Since the students were starting to fall asleep, uninterested in the intricate, delicate, nuanced differences in types of power & methods of diplomacy, I thought I'd introduce the issue of North Korea, which we'd eventually debate in class later. Oops. We're debating that issue on Tuesday (not Thursday). So now I have to quickly figure out how to keep Tuesday's class dynamic & interesting after we've already discussed North Korea for a full hour. Grrr.
Barista da capo10.13.2004
By now, the secret's out. I'm working at The Rocket Star Café — although no more than 1-2 shifts per week, and only mornings. I really enjoy working at coffee shops, and dearly missed it. Plus, the employee discount & free coffee while I work is pretty awesome — and I am helping two of my close friends. I get to listen to my music & write rough outlines in my head between customers. It's the best.Continue reading "Barista da capo"
Bolivia's municipal elections10.12.2004
Bolivian municipal elections finally kicked off, w/ ballot design announcements — three, depending on the number of candidates in each of 327 municipalities. The election is important not only because it's the first test of parties' strengths after October 2003 — it's also the first election allowing non-party "citizens' groups" to campaign. (Rhetoric aside, of course, "citizens' groups" are political parties in every sense imaginable.) Still, traditional parties are the groups to watch, since the election will serve as a referendum of sorts on political parties & their relative strength (especially MNR, MIR, and MAS).
I'll follow four key municipal elections: La Paz & El Alto, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz. These four cities (three metropolitan areas) hold about 50% of the Bolivia's population. Winners in these four cities will be poised for 2007 presidential elections. In the next few days, I'll compile candidate lists in those cities. Interestingly,
Felipe Quispe's MIP (Pachakuti Indigenous Movement) won't participate in the 5 December elections. Neither will the PDC (Democratic Christian Party), but it's a minor party w/ little pull.
So far, political parties still dominate. Even in the department of La Paz, where anti-party sentiment is high, the Departmental Electoral Court reports that 603 of 720 candidates (in 75 municipalities) belong to party lists — not citizens' groups.
One interesting note: Roberto de la Cruz, a former dirigente of the COR (the regional workers syndicate from El Alto) at first didn't want to run for mayor of La Paz. That is, until a mob of M-17 (Movement 17 of October) members stormed his office, whipped him, and forced him to accept their nomination. So. Now de la Cruz is running for mayor of La Paz. Marking yet another twist in an interesting political career.
NOTE: I'm posting here because there seems to be a MySQL error at the Living in Bolivia server. The RSS aggregator still works, so this'll still show up there.
One down, one to go10.12.2004
After much hand-wringing, I've come to a decision on textbooks for my Latin American Politics course. They number three. I'm going w/ the widely popular Skidmore & Smith, Modern Latin America (6/e) as the basic text. It's a good basic overview of the region, it's history & politics, and has some good individual country case studies. It could probably work as a stand-alone. But. Since this is a 300-level course. I should have some more readings. So. I do.
This is where it always gets tricky. How many other books to use? What topics to highlight? Gender? Ethnicity? Institutions? It's a near-infinite world of possibilities. Should I have students read travelogues? Or novels?
In the end, I decided on a regional focus. And what better region than the Andes, right? After all, I'll be writing a dissertation on an Andean country while I teach this, so why not keep that in my foreground. So. I picked up Politics in the Andes by Jo-Marie Burt & Phillip Mauceri.
But I also wanted at least one focus on "modern" Latin American politics & institutional reform. So. I picked up Tim Campbell's The Quiet Revolution. Why? Well, most courses on Latin American politics focus on gender, ethnicity, or rural issues. And that's fine; I've no argument against it. There'll be plenty of that in the course. But why not highlight urban Latin America? More & more, the region's become urban w/ increasingly important, sprawling metropolitan cities. So. The end of the semester focuses on urban Latin America.
Total pages for the semester come out to about 100 pages a week, which is perfectly manageable for a 300-level course. And it shouldn't be more than $100 for books (new, less if used). Syllabus to be developed once I get a chance to read through the texts w/ more care.
Best part about putting together a course on Latin American politics? Requesting free (or virtually free) "review" copies of books I mostly just want for myself. Ah, the perks of academia!
UPDATE: The PSCI 345 syllabus is now finished; download it here
Run, run, run10.11.2004
Went for a good run tonight, maybe 2.5 miles. It wasn't bad, despite being the first time in years. The new shoes worked quite well.Continue reading "Run, run, run"
Afghanistan's first election10.10.2004
A note on Friday's Afghan elections, that made hardly a ripple on the US media radar. I call the elections an overall success, especially for a first ever democratic election in a country.
First, voting took place w/o incident of violence, despite Taliban threats of attacks on polling stations. This is important. It not only means the election took place in an atmosphere of calm. It also means surviving elements of the ancien régime have lost the ability to make credible threats. And this, in turn, means people will pay less attention to the Taliban.
Second, foreign international observers have called the election free & fair. They've even dismissed some of the boycott claims by several of the election's losers. Election observers include staffers from organizations such as the Stockholm-based International IDEA, which has overseen elections in many transition-to-democracy states.
Also, a note on the election's "marring" by boycott calls from the losers. I don't personally know of any first election in democracy's "third wave" (1980s onwards) where the losers didn't instantly lodge complaints about the election. Just because the losers complain, doesn't necessarily make the election fraudulent. But in first-time elections, complaints from minor candidates is expected as a face-saving move by candidates.
There were early negative reports about the election based on a slight mix-up related to ink. I won't get into whether focusing the entire election coverage the first day on this mix-up is a product of media bias or not. But. The mix-up wasn't properly explained, nor properly put into context.
In many developing countries, indelible ink is used to prevent voter fraud. Often, it's as simple as a small ink bottle where voters dip their pinky finger after voting. This is the system predominantly used in Bolivia. The idea's that people may come to vote w/ counterfeit voter cards (especially since most developing countries have easy-to-forge documents or election staff not trained enough to identify forged documents). But if a voter has his/her pinky marked w/ ink, the voter isn't allowed to vote. Simple, but so effective.
The mix-up in Afghanistan had to do w/ the fact that their election used pens (rather than ink bottles) to mark the fingers. Seems election staff were given two pens — one for marking off voters on their tally sheets, another for marking fingers. Early in the voting, some poll staff apparently used the wrong pens. It's important to note, though, that once detected, this was soon after corrected.
The error was from lack of training — this was, after all, the country's first ever election — rather than malicious intent. Nevertheless, post election reporting suggests Afghans are, on the whole, happy w/ their election, proud to have cast ballots to choose their leaders for the first time in their history. And that's, actually, something to be happy about.
ADDENDUM: Here's coverage of the Afghan election from: USA Today, Bloomberg, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, CNN, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Jordan Times, Xinhua, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It's interesting to note how different news sources are framing their respective election stories.
Sunday out & about10.10.2004
Took the afternoon to head down to watch some locally made documentaries at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. The documentaries were only so-so. I've never seen a Gary Glaser documentary, but the Kalamazoo Kings documentary wasn't very good. Sure, Ken Burns re-wrote the book on baseball documentaries. but, still. I shouldn't be able to see boom mikes in the frame.Continue reading "Sunday out & about"
This Week's iMix includes some slightly obscure artists I've really grown to love. And it's more rock than pop.
Milemarker, "Shrink To Fit"
The Promise Ring, "Is This Thing On?"
Check Engine, "Mr. Beer"
Radio 4, "Save Your City"
Thunderbirds Are Now!, "Babygirl, I Got Ten Kids (Let's Not Make It Eleven)"
Ben Kweller, "Wasted & Ready"
And the winner is10.09.2004
KALAMAZOO ENTRY: AlexisContinue reading "And the winner is"
Rush Limbaugh v. any convicted drug user, debating whether drug users should go to jail.
Entered my first Swiss-system chess tournament. And it was a disaster. I should've woken up earlier, taken a shower, or something. My first match — playing white against Dan — ended in an embarrassing 5 minutes. I tried a new opening, and was shut down after a half dozen moves, w/ no pieces exchanged. Doh!
Played my second match as black in a more orthodox style, w/ an avalanche of pawns locking down huge sections of the board & constricting my opponent inside his last three ranks. And since he castled kingside, I just pressed that side until I won.
Feeling pretty proud of myself, I went into my third & final match. For some reason, I was paired against Dan again, playing white again. This time, it was a closer match. But Dan's a weaseler, such a weaseler. I was up material, and pressing the advantage. Somehow, I end up w/ a knight & half dozen pawns against his rook. And he checkmates me.
Still, a fun experience. There were a dozen people, at a $5 entry fee. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday midday.
Barking Tuna Fest10.09.2004
Pictures from Barking Tuna Fest's show at Kraftbräu; click any image for larger version.
Posted by Miguel at 11:21 AM | Permalink
Dreams of 8x810.09.2004
Barking Tuna Fest was great. Every band better than the last. Dälek blew me away w/ some amazing sci-fi electronica hip hop. Pilot Scott Tracy, excellent & so much fun, as always. Even though Miss Tracy was missing (pregnant), Pilot Scott was accompanied by their former Causey Way bandmates. M.Sord is always a crowd pleaser. And Thuderbirds Are Now! had too much energy & attitude.
Took some great pictures, I'll download/upload them tomorrow. Now I'm off for a good night's sleep before tomorrow's chess tournament at The Rocket Star. I expect to have my arse handed to me on a platter.
Tonight I'm judging the pick-a-debate contest winner. I'll award a Kalamazoo prize (a free flavored mocha or similar substitute) AND a non-Kalamazoo prize (a mixed music CD for your enjoyment). Entry rules & forms here. Remember to provide the names of two people debating AND the issue they'll debate to qualify.
Private v. public (blogging advice)10.08.2004
I've learned some hard lessons about personal blogging over the years, and I continue to learn them. But I think I've learned enough to pass along a few tidbits:
- Keep a strong distinction between private & public. A blog is a public platform, it's not always the most appropriate place for extremely private revelations. You'll most likely hurt someone else. And while your blog's your "private" journal, it's a published work as well. If you wouldn't write something as a newspaper article or flyer pasted all over town, don't post it on your blog.
- Dating online's complicated, breaking up more so. Remember, romantic relationships are private, not public. You wouldn't write about your sexual escapades in a public bathroom stall; don't post about them on your blog. More than in any other situation is it important to remember that a blog is a public, published forum.
- You're free to reveal as much personal information about yourself as you want, but you don't have that same freedom about other people. This goes from things as simple as phone numbers; you can post yours, but not someone else's (w/o their explicit consent). Even if the information you reveal is true (or you believe it is), you don't have the right to reveal another person's personal, private information.
- Edit your posts. I don't mean just for style, wording, etc. Stopping to edit your posts can save you hardship later. If you're posting some private reflection, remember that your blog is public; do you want other people to read exactly what you just wrote in 30 seconds? Would you rather word it differently? Self-editing is extremely important in public forums. It's difficult to take back a conversational slip of the tongue; it's nearly impossible to take back published work.
- Does it pass the five year test? Don't post something that might embarrass you five years later. Or ten. Or twenty.
- Does it pass the mom & dad test? If you post publicly on the internet, your parents (or their friends) may easily stumble upon it. Do you really want to have a long, drawn out fight w/ your parents over something you could just as easily have told a friend in private over a cup of coffee?
- Does it pass the Google test? Your blog's indexed by search engines. Do you want people googling you to find that post & (potentially) base their first impression of you from that? Perhaps the guy/girl you're thinking of dating? Perhaps your potential employer?
- Finally, does it pass the honesty test? How you feel at some particular moment (due to stress, emotions, fatigue, etc) may not reflect what you honestly think about a person, place, or thing. Once it's published, people will assume that's what you think. They'll judge you based on your words, not your intent, your character, or anything. Only your words.
I've learned some of these lessons the hard way. But. In retrospect. They were common sense rules I should've followed all along.
The weekend starts10.08.2004
Today was my friend Dave's birthday, which involved poker & pool. I did well at poker, miserable at pool. I think the pool gods were angry at me. At one point, a ball that clearly fell into a pocket jumped out, and rolled back across the felt. I've missed shots that flirted w/ the pocket before. But never one that was spat out. Sad, sad. Dave shot a good night, though.Continue reading "The weekend starts"
Posted by Miguel at 03:13 AM | Permalink
Took a moment to snap a few shots of campus around noon, between class & a grant writing seminar. It was a gorgeous Indian Summer day, w/ that mild sunshine & early autumn breeze. If you've never seen Western's campus, this is what the some of the central campus looks like.Continue reading "Campus day"
Sam's comment to a previous post sparked an idea. So. Here's some audience participation: Pick any two people you'd like to see debate, as well as the issue they'll debate. It has to be a political issue, but they don't have to be "politicians" debating. Post two names & an issue in the comments. Feel free to offer explanations for your choices. I'll judge & announce the winning entry this Saturday.Continue reading "Pick-a-debate contest"
Robot v. boy10.05.2004
Dick Cheney's clearly not human, but a cyborg. How else can he keep bringing up obscure facts & voting records about Kerry & Edwards. It's just painful to watch — reducing Edwards to "well, you're a liar" responses & other red herrings. Sometimes he mentions "we have a plan" — followed quickly by "but first let me say this". I really hope to hear something about this plan before November. I keep hearing how good it is. Maybe they're putting the finishing touches on it? Focus group testing it? Maybe there'll be a gran unveiling gala w/ lots of "ooh!" & "aah!" & paparazzi?
Overall, watching the debate was like watching a stodgy headmaster scold an absentee student. Clearest example? When Cheney, pointing out Edwards' senate attendance record, just says: "I'm president of the senate, I preside over sessions. The first time we met was tonight." Yikes. You could even see Edwards sink into his chair.
Kerry clearly beat Bush in the debate. But Edwards is just having a meltdown. He keeps interrupting, he answers previous questions rather than new ones, he's stumbling over words. He's like the Democrat's Dan Quayle. Other things in common w/ the 80s pretty boy? Strongly support of Israel's right (and duty) to defend itself & the conviction that marriage is "between a man & a woman" — but that it's not an important issue.
He's even whiffing the softballs. The moderator asked a question about flip flops that ended w/ "what's wrong w/ a little flip flop" (i.e. changing views after consideration)? A perfect chance to talk about growth, nuance, flexibility, or anything. Instead? "We're not flip floppers, they're flip floppers!" Sheesh. Even the moderator's getting visibly irritated w/ him.
As clearly as Kerry beat Bush in their first debate, Cheney beat Edwards. Solidly. While the current VP seemed statesmanlike & measured, the blonde boy wonder just seemed, well, boyish. And why does he remind me so much of Lionel Hutz?
I'm sorry if I seem overly harsh. But I was certainly hoping for more from Edwards.
Constitutional engineering nap10.05.2004
Another sleepy Tuesday morning. I figure a nap's in order. Or maybe curl up in bed w/ The Architecture of Democracy, the book digest of the Constitutional Design 2000 conference I attended at Notre Dame. The whole event was like the superstars of constitutional engineering. The highlight? Probably watching Giovanni Sartori's ego assail Arend Lijphart. Or sharing a smoke w/ Juan Linz. Biggest disappointment? Robert Dahl couldn't attend, so I've yet to meet my biggest political science idol.Continue reading "Constitutional engineering nap"
NATO & Iraq10.04.2004
Kerry & Bush frequently debate their ability to build alliances for things like, say, Iraq. Mainly, the question revolves around whether or not Bush took the US to war in Iraq w/o major allies. Here's a list of countries w/ troops in Iraq & future re-deployments (globalsecurity.org). But since the debate often hinges on whether our "allies" joined us or not, here's a breakdown of NATO countries who joined the US in Iraq vs. those that didn't. Turns out 17 of 26 NATO members sent troops; Iceland supported the war but didn't send troops (Iceland has no military). Here's the breakdown:Continue reading "NATO & Iraq"
Scarves & sweaters10.04.2004
Fall is now in full swing, following a few tepid days in a row. Brisk mornings give way to moderate days and back to chilly evenings. The leaves on trees have started turning a golden hue, matching the new tones of the afternoon sky. Squirrels are out in full force on their last days of food patrol. Soon, the Vine Neighborhood will be covered under a canopy of multi-colored oak, cedar, and elm leaves. It's scarf & sweater weather; my favorite time of year.Continue reading "Scarves & sweaters"
Posted by Miguel at 06:58 PM | Permalink
Sunday is protest day10.03.2004
A few dozen old hippies in front of the court house w/ their Coca-Cola politics & can't-keep-a-beat drumming. I'll admit the subtle pleasure of walking past them w/ my IDF t-shirt on my way to buy new issues of The New Republic (the new issue of Reason wasn't in) from Michigan News Agency. Then I drove past a few hundred pro-lifers spread out all the way down Westnedge to Target (about 2 miles).Continue reading "Sunday is protest day"
This Week's iMix includes some of my favorite female indie singers.
Velocity Girl, "Labrador"
The Sundays, "Love"
Mazzy Star, "Fade Into You"
Denali, "French Mistake"
Throwing Muses, "Snakeface"
After stumbling out of bed just before 5pm, I decided to make it an easy Saturday. Grocery shopping for some much-needed items like ginger, olive oil, tofu, rice milk, bananas, and bread. And Nescafé. Yes, I know it's not gourmet coffee. But a year in Latin America teaches you to appreciate the smooth sweet beverage.Continue reading "Slow Saturday"
Pasta Garam Masala w/ Pecans10.01.2004
I like to cook, but I like to cook fast, improvising as I go. Sometimes I get really lucky.
¼ pound fettuccine fini (or similar long pasta)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon garam masala spice
dash of peppercorn medley
¼ cup chopped pecans
Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente (about 2 mins); drain. Heat olive oil, garam masala, and peppercorn medley in medium sauce pan over low flame for 1-2 mins. Add pasta & toss together along w/ pecans. Serves 1.
Indian summer & modapop10.01.2004
Took a leisurely walk through downtown, primarily looking for some furniture. The Emporium was closed, and Architectural Salvage had little to interest me. So I decided to hunker down at Water Street to jot some notes on my dissertation's draft outline.
From there, I wandered back through downtown, stopping at Polly & Esther's. Was tempted to buy some used Levi's, but opted for just a burgundy sweater ($10). I did reserve a little metal rack ($8) that I've to pick up sometime soon.
Walked back home to check my mailbox. And thrilled to find my recent order from Darla Records. I ordered their Indian Summer 2004 sampler, plus Modapop, a sampler from Spain's Elefant Records (my favorite Spanish label). It's gonna be an afternoon of musical delight.
I love sampler CDs. And. Since I tend to follow labels, not just bands, I usually know what to expect. Samplers from indie labels I like tend to introduce me to bands I'll probably enjoy. It's like getting a "you-should-be-listening-to-these-guys" mixed tape from an anonymous friend. And paying $16.98 (including shipping) for 43 tracks is an amazing deal.
Close race in Michigan?10.01.2004
A Kerry supporter has a really good electoral college predictor up, tracking state polls to predict the outcome in the electoral college. It's updated daily. Probably too early for many post-debate polls, but Bush is still up 276-221. Interestingly, Michigan just became a dead heat (46-46) in the latest poll (the first time Kerry isn't winning here).
OK. I'm off to take a shower, then shop for much-needed apartment furniture. It's a beautiful late-summer day, so I'll walk downtown.
Posted by Miguel at 01:00 PM | Permalink