Various thoughts and observations

Posted by andrea - May 30th, 2006

This is going to be a post of random, scattershot musings, after I clarify this: my previous post on the skanky goings on at a Florida retirement community has met the usual wall of people being unable to think outside of the box of their own lives. So let me clarify: I don’t care what married people do with each other, though after a certain age they should, out of a sense of decorum, keep their canoodling activities to themselves. I also do not care what you, my readers, are planning to do with your naughty bits as you and they age. This may wound you to the core, but I assure you that I have never sat up nights worrying about the sex lives of the people who read my blog. The fact that some of you have chosen to reveal to me your plans concerning your intimate parts is one of the many customs of contemporary life I prefer to do without.

Okay, that’s me getting rid of a few more readers, possibly. On to other things:

Volkswagen’s new series of commercials attempting to use the notion of stereotypes in a comic way is the most grating thing to come out of their advertising department yet. The only slightly amusing aspect is the sight of the announcer in his lederhosen. The idea that one can use mockery of stereotyping in this meta-comedic way is not unusual, and can even be quite funny, but the VW ads are off just enough to be annoying instead of funny.

I think many of the problems in this country are caused by what is supposed to be one of the great boons of modern life: the constant stream of “information” in the form of what is called “news” that comes at us from all corners. I remember when CNN first came out, everyone was enthralled with the idea of 24 hours of news. “You would never not know about what was happeneing everywhere!” I don’t know what we were thinking. People are getting stupider and even more unable to process information than when humanity was confined to getting their news in stingy dollops at 5 and 11pm, and in dull grey newsprint. And far from making us more secure, the more we find out about what a mess the world is, the worse — as in more insecure and fearful — we feel. Couple this with the average American’s weak grasp of history (a stronger background in which would at least reassure him that the world had always been a shipwreck) and our unusually high level of physical comfort, and the hysterical panic that seized so many people merely observing from afar (through the media) serious situations like New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, or the looting — or half-looting/half-removing-to-putative-safety — of ancient artifacts from the Baghdad Museum during the invasion — is explained.

“Perspective” anyway has become a misused concept. It now means straight middle school students are supposed to worry about what their gay classmates will think about everything.

Solonor links to this woman’s screed against the FCAT. He seemed rather impressed by it, but I wasn’t. I don’t have kids, but I do remember school, and it was bad enough when I was going, in the early years of testing (they had this test called, if I recall correctly, the Florida Literacy Test, which was humiliatingly easy, but they were so anxious about it I felt as if it was being administered by the CIA — the security and secrecy was at a ridiculous level, we had to take the parts of the test at odd times like Saturday at 7am, and the sensation that anyone who flunked it would be dragged off to an undisclosed location and their names inked out of the yearbook was thick); I think if I had to go to school again these days I’d have been put on suicide watch. And I test easy; it’s the boredom, the pointless grayness of bureacratic regulations, the — as the woman does rightly point out — lack of interest in the individual creativity and initiative of each student that the FCAT hysteria has produced. However, her screed goes flat every time she goes off into a moan about how the FCAT can’t measure squishy stuff like the “compassion” inside every student. Well that’s a good thing, because that would be the lowest score in the history of test scores. Looking for compassion in the heart of the average human child is like looking for a rose in a salt mine. I do agree with the writer that there is too much emphasis on sports in schools these days. Phys Ed was my least favorite activity in the entire universe; I actually envied the crippled kids who got to sit out the stupid kickball and softball games. (Now the crippled kids are dragged onto the field along with everyone else.) I had no catching ability (well, my face and stomach both had a great knack for catching balls whether I wanted to or not, but I could not follow through with tossing the object back, as I was usually too busy writhing on the ground in pain), I had all the muscle tone of a boiled egg noodle, and was so afraid of heights I couldn’t stand on a footstool. One year, in junior high, I was so desperate to escape the pointless trap of games I didn’t like and couldn’t play, not to mention activities I was sure were dangerous to my health, such as gymnastics, that I attempted to sign up for an exercise class. I was skinny and short. Guess what class the gym teacher overrode my request in favor that I attend. If you guessed it involved contraptions like parallel bars you guessed right.

My check to the cable company bounced (oopsie) and I got a warning phone call. I expected the cable to finally be turned off today, but it’s still on, so I’m listening to Designed to Sell. (The tv is in the other room.) I’ve become strangely fond of that program, I can’t tell you why. Another more interesting program in the British version, called Trading Up. The most hilarious thing about British homes is the little joke fireplaces many of them have. They look like little hobbit fireplaces, with hearths no bigger than a postcard; how on earth do they heat anything? Also, the rumors you heard about horrible English wallpaper and their bizarre addiction to clashing flower prints is true. Fortunately it seems to finally no longer be in fashion. One thing the hosts on the show do is try, in their own small way, to ameliorate the effects of this decorating disaster. Usually they just paint right over the wallpaper; it always makes me want to cheer.

Phyllis Schlafly is ranty this week: “It is impossible in so short a time to assimilate a hundred million people whose native culture does not respect the Rule of Law, self-government, private property, or the sanctity of contracts, and where they are accustomed to an economy based on bribery and controlled by a small, rich ruling class…” I do agree. The sooner we deport all the liberals to Mexico the better off we’ll be.

More later, perhaps, as the thoughts come to me.

Memorials

Posted by andrea - May 29th, 2006

Usually I at least put something up here for Memorial Day. Even though I’m not really up to saying much — a bad back has pretty much put a crimp in any plans I have had, including the desire to sit here and blog — I don’t want to be like Google, who for some reason chose this day not to put up a commemorative logo. They’ll put up a logo for Christmas, for Eid, for the Olympics, for National Sanitation Worker Appreciation Day, but they won’t do anything for a Memorial Day. Whatever. Anyway, in lieu of saying anything profound (which I suck at) here are some photos of various war memorials that I took on my excursion to Lake Eola a couple of days ago. Hopefully these don’t suck too much. Click on each thumbnail for a larger picture:

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Just gross

Posted by andrea - May 29th, 2006

Old people shouldn’t be having sex. I don’t care about your “needs,” gramps and granny — it’s undignified for people of A Certain Age to still be going at it. There’s a reason a woman dries up after menopause, and no, it’s not because God created K-Y Jelly. Yuck.

(Via Coalition of the Swilling.)

Is you or is you ain’t my consie?

Posted by andrea - May 28th, 2006

It is supposed to be an elitist canard to say that whenever something — a work of art, a philosphy, a rock group, a cuisine, anything — becomes popular, that something is, if not destroyed, then distorted out of its original shape by the desires and convictions of the members of the general public that have latched onto it. Well call me an elitist, because I believe it. Take the philosophical, moral, and ethical set of beliefs known as “conservatism.” It has lately become fashionable for young and not so young people whose public behavior and stated beliefs are anything but to declare themselves “conservative,” and to immediately set about applying that label to any of their favorite pastimes and notions.

An almost comically silly example is found in this blog post on Libertas by one “Dirty Harry.” The subject is a sequal to the movie Clerks. I will state now that I have not seen the movie — the only Kevin Smith movie I have seen is Dogma. That was not a conservative film — being “anti-PC” is not necessarily conservative. Be that as it may, speaking of one of the characters of the film Clerks, Dirty Harry makes this astounding statement:

What he represents is total complete and unbridled freedom. What could be more conservative than that?

Where to begin. Well, for starters, “complete and unbridled freedom” is as far from being a conservative ideal as anything I can think of. But don’t believe me, believe Russell Kirk, who in The Conservative Mind describes conservatism as, in part, the belief that “Man must put a control upon his will and his appetite, for conservatives know man to be governed more by emotion than by reason.” Conservatives emphasize duty over desire, tradition over change, hierarchy over freewheeling democratic chaos. The conservatives Kirk writes about tie human liberty to freedom-controlling institutions like private property and law — laws based on ancient human religious and moral tradition that bases human law in God’s law. One would think this would leave little room for the claim that all one has to do to be considered “conservative” is to declare oneself a believer in “total complete unbridled freedom.” Nothing of human behavior that is “unbridled” can be conservative.

That brings me to some other misconceptions that wet-behind-the-ears NuConservatives have come up with. I will list them:

Capitalism is not in itself conservative. It can be conservative — as long as it is not laissez-faire, devil-take-the-hindmost, he-who-dies-with-the-most-toys-wins capitalism. Crony capitalism is also not conservative — it is merely corrupt capitalism.

Libertarianism is not conservative. Conservatives can share certain beliefs with libertarians, but in the end libertarians are either too anarchistic or selfish for most conservatives to bond with.

Ayn Rand was not a conservative. Not because she was an atheist (it is possible for atheists to respect the religion-based traditions of the ages as a good check on the behavior of the people even if they don’t believe in the basis for those traditions), or even because she was an extreme laissez-faire capitalist, but because she hated just about anything traditional and her version of individualism was so extreme that it puts her well beyond the conservative pale.

Rock music is not and can never be conservative. Don’t even try to argue with me, I’ll just whup you upside the head. Oh please, this is just pathetic — a pitiful illustration of no-longer-young people realizing that they are no longer cool, and desperately attempting to redefine the term “cool” to suit their current way of life. Look: just go ahead and listen to your old Motley Crüe tapes, and feel free to hang your framed Mudhoney poster on the wall of your living room. No one will take away your Republican Party card away just because you were young once, and you don’t have to pretend to be your grandfather to be considered a conservative. But don’t play left-style Jedi mind tricks with reality and try to change what is known to make yourself more perfect than you really are. Rock music is the epitome of rebellion, youth, doing things differently from the norm, rampant individuality, and breaking free from tradition — everything that is the opposite of conservatism. If it isn’t in the lyrics, then it’s in the very notes of the music, which even if they slavishly imitate the rockstar chords of previous decades are still making sounds that were meant to announce to the world “this ain’t your parents’ music.” Even if it is.

Technical things

Posted by andrea - May 28th, 2006

I’ve added a coCommenting box to the sidebar at left. Let me know if it destroys the page or something.

Computer Fun

Posted by andrea - May 27th, 2006

I finally got around deleting all the junk and uninstalling all the garbage programs from the desktop. Then I went ahead and deleted the profile I used most. Now there is just the main admin profile and a new blank one I made for my friend, who needs to come and get her new computer now. I’ll be using the laptop as my main computer from now on until I save up enough to buy a new desktop, ideally something compact like a Mac Mini or one of those Windows compact desktops. I am also about to push the oyster-snot-colored desk chair out to the dumpster. I love getting rid of stuff.

Update: oh, I almost forgot — I also decided not to renew my McAfee virus program. Every year they charge 30 bucks; there are free or cheaper programs out there. (I use one of them on my laptop now.)

Peasants

Posted by andrea - May 27th, 2006

I’ve been reading here and there about this bishop who walked off the stage at a graduation ceremony because audience members were behaving like monkeys in a zoo and wouldn’t shut up. The unsurprising twist to all who have observed the trends of contemporary life is that the culprits this time weren’t the students, but the parents, who were doing things like hooting and hollering when their offspring walked onstage, and so on. Some people are complaining that the bishop shouldn’t have walked off, but I don’t know what else he could have done; I take it there was no firehose handy to turn on the unruly crowd, which would have been my solution (after I had been restrained from shooting them all with a handy AK-47).

I must say that if my parents had behaved in a similar manner at my high school graduation (the only such ceremony in which I have partaken, as I went to elementary and junior high school before there was any such thing, at least in my school district, as “graduation” ceremonies for successfully completing those stages of education) I would have followed through on my previous half-serious threats to run away and fled for parts unknown as soon as I could get the uncomfortable high-heeled white pumps, which all girls had to wear, off my feet. If they had so much as called out my name when I walked on the stage I think I would have dropped dead of embarrassment right then and there, or at least wanted to. But the thought of my parents, no emotional clams they, acting in such an uncivilized manner is impossible to entertain. That goes for the parents of anyone else I knew. I think my generation may actually be the last one to know of the existence of adults who actually had standards of behavior based on restraint and decorum and a certain separation from the less-controlled, and therefore less-esteemed behavior of the young. Now we are all kidults together. And we wonder why the hole in our societal spirit seems to grow daily more wide and deep despite all the kewl new toys we throw into it.

Holding pattern no. 876

Posted by andrea - May 26th, 2006

I’ve got nothing to say for the moment so here’s a picture of a squirrel (click for larger):

squirrel
Later.

Update: I forgot to add, this picture was taken by me, through the window of a Panera restaurant by Lake Eola. He just sat there posing, the little showoff.

And now, for your moment of Zen

Posted by andrea - May 23rd, 2006

Here it is. CLICK.

Now remember, ma’am, that Zeitgeist has overdeveloped deltoids, which give it extra bucking power. Just ride low, and hang on, and you’ll be okay! I may not be a rodeo clown, but I’m pretty sure I’ve stayed in a Holiday Inn Express at least once in my life.

Coloring my world

Posted by andrea - May 22nd, 2006

Okay, that’s a little better. Now I’m tired, and I need to eat something.

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