Monday, November 29, 2004

Monday surprise

Geodesic tent
appears in Dupont Circle
like a mushroom home.

Did huge Smurfs build you
under the cover of night?
And do you meet code?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Thanks given

I traveled over to Belpre for three days with AP, Aunt Ann, Grandad, and Yolanda Romanelli. Kerry only had two days off, so she was unable to join us. Rachel and Ben had already invited her over for Thanksgiving dinner, so I knew I was leaving her in capable hands.

I knew the other characters already, of course, but this was my first time to meet Yola, a friend and former co-worker of Grandad's from his time at Algonquin Gas in Boston. She still lives there, but was good enough to come to Ohio to share the holiday with us. She is a delightful and spirited lady. If you have the opportunity to play a game with her (eg, Quiddler), it will take you a good 20-30 seconds to discover her competitive streak. I look forward to seeing her again. (I look forward to seeing everybody else soon, too, but you knew that already.)

Yes, we ate. We went up to Marietta to get some handmade pasta and see some of the beautiful homes. We visited the Belpre Christmas lights down on the Ohio River and the Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg, both of which have grown since I saw them last. But the highlight may have been the sunsets we had on Wednesday and Thursday. Both days were solidly overcast, with precipitation throughout the day, until dusk, when the sky opened up to reveal dazzling sunsets that lasted for at least a quarter of an hour. Actually, they could have been shorter or longer, and I'd not know; I just stood there watching them with my jaw hanging open. Such colors: in a photo, I'd have sworn they'd been enhanced, but there they were, in gaudy, changing real-life.

I'm looking forward to a busy week. Between now and about mid-day Saturday, I've got a final exam, my Spanish proficiency oral (preferably not reprising my trainwreck in August), a group project presentation, and my third and final job interview with McKinsey. I would appreciate any candles, cereal box-tops, and/or prayers you can spare. On the positive side, this will definitely clear the decks for a week from Wednesday, when Kerry and I head to Mexico for Hermanito Scott and Carlie's wedding.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Washington Nationals

I'm not the biggest baseball fan, and I don't really know if DC is getting a good deal getting a team, but I did want to mention the renaming of the Expos franchise as the Washington Nationals. Apparently that was the name of the first DC baseball team, back in the day (1873). I'm glad that MLB managed to avoid giving the team a ridiculous name, either for perceived coolness (Toronto Raptors - NBA) or foolishness (Kansas City Wiz - MLS 1996). That said, I think they could have done better than a name already in use in MLB. (Why not the "Washington Major Leaguers," just in case the teams get realigned?) I guess the best feature of the new name is that, as nationals, they are less likely to be deported.

Monday, November 22, 2004

China has 2,900 TV channels...

... or so reports The Economist (20 Nov 04).

Go now, William, before your chance to sample this unimaginable, televisual dim sum is lost forever in a wave of state disinvestment and foreign joint ventures.

TV news blows snow

There are a couple of TVs around SAIS that are always on, generally on a news channel. This morning, a business reporter from CNNfn was offering advice on buying and operating snowblowers. And they say hard-hitting journalism is dead.

Kerry and I had a very relaxing Sunday yesterday. (We had tried to have a very relaxing Sunday three days ago, but it just didn't work out.) One of her ACS colleagues was offering coverage, so she got a bonus day off. We went to church, had lunch* with Rachel, then went back to church in the evening for the advent workshop (fun with glue and glitter!). And in the midst of all this chilling, I even managed to finish a draft of my Timor Sea paper for environmental law.

I've enjoyed my exposure to law in my international environmental law class, particularly studying cases. It's an interesting process: assembling the facts to try to establish what happened, having the law as a framework for description and analysis, with an ultimate end of determining if an outcome is, for example, "equitable." (Here's where Dick, Angus, William, or any other readers with more legal knowledge than I will correct my overly-simplistic notions.) It doesn't make me want to be a lawyer, but it's good exercise.

* - Potential visitors to The Holler should know that The Mango Grove is once again on our must-visit list for guests. As always, it offers delicious vegetarian Indian food, but now we are hooked on the lunch buffet.

Friday, November 19, 2004

How irrational

Kerry likes chicken pot pi from the hospital kitchen.

Election review

For better or worse, most Elkridge Hollerer readers have been denied my fairly heavy commentary on the past presidential election. For the record, I feel I ought to sum up.

  1. I am disappointed that Bush was re-elected.
    a) I did not feel that his record of poor execution, broken promises, and fiscal irresponsibility warranted a contract extension.
    b) I was hoping for a party split between the White House and Congress.

  2. I am disappointed that Kerry was not elected almost entirely because of 1a and 1b, above. But there is consolation:
    a) I think I prefer John Edwards being more than one heartbeat away from the Presidency.
    b) A Republican White House means the chattering class will be able to amuse themselves for the next few years speculating about Hillary in '08.

  3. I saw what I consider the most interesting story of the campaign after the fact. On 21 October, The Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge Networks released poll results showing an impressive divergence between fact (as best as we know it) and what Bush supporters believed about Iraq, terrorism, foreign perceptions of US policy, and the President's own positions. It makes me question how far we've really progressed into the Information Age (or how far behind we've left the Age of Reason).

  4. The overlooked story of Election 2004: Badnarik almost took Nader! Libertarians unite! It's revolution time! #3 in '08! (I'm sure the Libertarian Party would welcome any and all alternative slogans.)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Behind the times

I'm out of it. When I wrote the following, a couple months ago, it was already half a year late. Now it's later, and I'm not so addicted as I was. Oh well, I guess I'll never be the answer to Tower of Power's question: "What is hip?"


The most addictive music I've heard in a while is The Streets, "A Grand Don't Come For Free". The Streets is a British rapper with an unusual flow and stripped-down beats. With his incredibly everyday lyrics, he's what Hank Williams, Sr might have been had he grown up an urban lout in today's England. Except unlike Hank's lyrics, where he seemed always to be catching a bad break, The Streets' troubles are mainly of his own doing. Maybe he's got at bit of Johnny Cash in him. Or maybe he's some sort of Elseworld Beastie Boy who lost the juvenile lyrics of "Licensed To Ill" without adopting the thicker production of their later work. The tracks on "AGDCFF" form a single story. It may not be "The Wall" or "2112" for grandeur - it doesn't presume to tell a psychodrama or of global revolution - but it's more tightly-constructed than either. You can hear almost the whole thing online, but be forewarned: he drops plenty of f-bombs, it's not exactly uplifting, the first track is not the catchiest, and you'll definitely need all your UK slang knowledge.

But if nothing else, it's novel to hear the only album I can think of with a rapper who doesn't rap about being a rapper.

Fog of War & the origins of jogging

1. Last week, I saw Fog of War, a documentary / reminiscence of Robert McNamara. It was very interesting; he's a fascinating figure, and it's easy to see why he was both so popular and unpopular. Unfortunately, I don't know enough of the history to feel like I could recognize fair recollections vs. revisionism. I did notice that he didn't go out of his way to talk about the Edsel, which occurred during his tenure at Ford. Anyway, I recommend it, and I'd love to hear from those who know more of the history.

2. Like Bruce Springsteen said, "Homo sapiens like us, baby we were born to run."