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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pre-emptive

"I don't fancy you anymore."
"I'm sorry? What?"
"I don't fancy you. I don't mean to sound cruel; I can't think of a gentler way to say it."
"OK. Uhh... Do I know you?"
"Oh, sorry. I'm Ellen."
"Right. Nice to meet you, Ellen. Dave."
"No, let's not shake hands. It's best that we keep things... not physical. Although, God knows it's not about that. I'm sure the sex would have been incredible."
"What?!"
"The sex. It probably would have been intense. Amazing. Really, really amazing."
"Really, really?"
"Really."
"Ellen?"
"Yes, Dave?"
"Can I ask you something?"
"Of course, darling. I've always tried to be honest with you."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about us, David -- you and me. I'm talking about what we are, what we need. And right now I think we need time apart. We need to go our separate ways."
"Huh?"
"It's time for us to follow our separate paths, Dave."
"Wait. Are you breaking up with me?"
"Ah, if you must be so crass -- yes. Dave, I'm breaking up with you."
"But we're not in a relationship."
"I know, I'm breaking up with you pre-emptively."
"Pre-emptively?"
"Yes. I saw you and I thought: 'Oh, there's something about him. Maybe.' You know? But relationships are so fragile, so complicated, so much work."
"So, you've decided to go straight to the break-up?"
"Yes."
"That's kind of unfair."
"How so?"
"I don't know. I mean, I don't even get a chance? Why are you breaking up with me? What did I do?"
"Dave, I don't want to get into who did what and who said what. I don't want to have a cloud of blame hanging over us. But I will say this: It's impossible for me to be with you when all I'm doing is thinking about her."
"Her?"
"Your wife, Dave! My God, maybe you can forget about her, but I can't!"
"How do you know I'm married?"
"The wedding ring."
"Oh. Very observant, Ellen."
"I'm much smarter than you've ever given me credit for."
"Hey, don't be like that."
"Don't tell me how to feel."
"But, Ellen, surely it must be something more than that. I mean, if it's only about Lisa..."
"Lisa?"
"My wife. Her name is Lisa."
"Oh. Right. Poor Lisa. It breaks my heart to think of her."
"Yeah. Anyway, if it were only about Lisa, you wouldn't have chosen me to break up with. You would have taken your coffee and sat over there. But you sat down here and you're breaking up with me. There's something more here. Are you afraid of what might have happened?"
"Don't try to think for me, Dave. And it doesn't matter. You are married."
"If I wasn't?"
"I... I don't know. We're so different, Dave. Maybe in another place... in some other time... I don't know. Why are you making this so hard?"
"You're the one breaking up with me, Ellen."
"Oh, that's right. Turn it back on me. It's what you always do."
"What do you mean, what I always do? You don't even know who I am."
"Exactly, Dave. Exactly. I don't know who you are. Not anymore. And you don't know me. How could we carry on a lie like that? And poor Lisa!"
"Ellen?"
"Yes, David?"
"You're insane."
"Let's not get into name-calling, Dave. Please. Let's not end things in anger. I want to remember the happy times. Please don't be angry, Dave. Please."
"I'm not angry."
"You say that. You make it seem like you're not. You've always been so good at that. But I can't be that way; I can't bottle up my feelings. I can't lock away my heart. It's no way to live. I only hope, Dave, that someday you'll find happiness. It won't be easy, I know. But maybe someday, you'll be able to move on. Maybe, someday, you'll find the someone who's right for you."
"Yeah. Well. I'll do my best."
"So strong, Dave. My big strong man; you never let yourself cry. Farewell, Dave."
"Back at ya, Ellen."
"Goodbye, Dave. Oh, uhm, just one thing. Can I get your phone number? I want to call you at 2 a.m., crying. Also, I'm going to add you as a Facebook friend so that I can add snarky insults to every one of your status messages..."

Monday, March 16, 2009

A new way to kill an afternoon

I've suddenly noticed the beautiful oddity that is Twitpic's public timeline. It is a glimpse of the most recent pictures to show up on Twitpic, which many people use to attach pictures to their Twitter updates. It is also a goldmine of WTF moments.

The nature of Twitpic is that there is often no explanation of the picture. Whatever the hell is going on in the picture is most likely explained in the corresponding tweet, which you don't see. For example, this picture might not make a lot of sense on its own. But with the tweet in which it was sent, perhaps things are more clear.

By following Twitpic's public timeline you most often get only the picture and are left desperately trying to figure out on your own what the fuck is going on.

You could kill a whole afternoon looking at the public timeline; simply click refresh and, kapow, you get more odd imagery. For example, this. Actually, that's not odd -- it's beautiful.

This, however is disturbing.

And it's probably best just not to ask about this one.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fimoculous

My favourite Twitter interaction as of late:
This tweet, followed a few minutes later by this tweet.

(A fimoculous is "a micro-organism that consumes its own waste for sustenance," according to Rex Sorgatz, who uses the name for his site. I'm pretty sure blogging about Twitter conversations falls under that category)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another flaw in your revisionist storytelling, George

This occurred to me Monday morning:

Among the myriad idiot things we learned from the second round of Star Wars films (known by me as "the shit trilogy") is that access to the Force is, in fact, genetic. That is, in order to be a Jedi you must have a high level of midi-chlorians.

Midi-chlorians are living organisms that somehow communicate with the Force; the more you have in your system, the more you are able to interact with and use the Force. Midi-chlorians are there from birth, and their addition to the narrative is wholly contrary to the philosophy inherent in the original films.

In the Star Wars triology (ie, episodes 4, 5, and 6) the force is a kind of Zen of the American ethic. It is a collective conscious that exists and runs through all of us, and if you work hard enough -- if you put your heart, mind and soul into the thing -- you can use the Force to your advantage. In the Star Wars trilogy the Force is open source; it is available to all who are willing to dedicate the time.

In the shit trilogy, the Force becomes a sort of eugenic Calvinism. You are genetically pre-determined to be a Jedi. Only the chosen can ever achieve greatness. And the message to kids is that sometimes you are born not good enough and there's nothing you can do about it; you suck from the get-go.

Fuck you, George Lucas.

Anyway, the fact that the Force is genetic easily explains away why Luke is able to pick up his Jedi skillz so quickly -- his dad is The Chosen One. That's a lazy and stupid explanation, but, okay, fine, whatever.

What about Leah, though?

She's Luke's twin sister, yo. And yet she didn't have Jedi ability. How does that make sense? What the fuck, George? Huh? I mean, what the fucking fuck?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tidy

In a spiritual/philosophical sense, this is exactly what it's like to live in Wales, England. For those of you playing along at home, this is a hyper-condensed version of my life. The things and places and facts and realities have been stripped away and the essence of all that is around me crammed into nine minutes.

It is representative of Wales in the way that the Mall of America is representative of the United States. There is so much more to the place, but at its heart, at the very bare core, this is what it is.

Also, for those of you playing along outside of Wales, Nessa is a national hero here. The only people you are allowed to make fun of in the video are Bryn and the Americans. And making fun of Bryn must be done so lovingly.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

This sounds like a rhetorical question but isn't

In philosophy there is a certain special Latin term used to describe accepted premises, i.e., those things which are taken for granted in the discussion. For example, if I were pondering what God thinks about gays, I would be asserting any number of things as true for the sake of the discussion -- among them, that God exists, and that there is any sort of reality. I mean if God doesn't exist, or, indeed, gays don't exist, there's little point to trying to sort out their relationship.

I can't remember that nifty Latin term, but I would use it for the sake of this post.

So, let's assume that use of government money to stimulate the economy is a good idea. So, when we look at the issue of bank bailouts we don't just go into some sort of Republican neo-con catatonic state of rage, screaming "Socialism! Socialism!"(a)

But here's my problem. The goal of sinking public money into banks is to get them back into the habit of lending money. Thus far, billions and billions of pounds/euros/dollars have been handed over to the banks but the banks have not really started lending again. Wouldn't it be a better use of the money to simply skip the banks and have the government set up a lending programme itself? In other words, instead of giving money to Lloyds with the purpose of having Lloyds lend money to me, wouldn't it be better to let Lloyds live or die on its own and lend the money to me directly?

What am I missing here? If the goal is to get money to me, why give it to someone else first? Surely there must be some explanation (good or otherwise). Anyone know?
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(a) One of the dumbest things about America is the way we have value-weighted the word "socialism" to make it as bad as kicking babies.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Alanis Morisette feels your pain, Lord Mandelson

British news outlets were thrilled Friday to show over and over and over and over (and over) footage of a woman throwing a cup of green pudding/slime on Lord Mandelson as he arrived at a low-carbon energy summit.

It occurs to me that the fashionably dressed protester looks oh-so-slightly like Moose, off "You Can't Do That On Television." Which suggests that in that slight pause between when the woman confronts Mandelson and when she empties the cup on him, he answers a question with "I don't know."

(I suspect a very tiny number of people will actually get this reference without having to follow the links.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Is it possible the War on Drugs is over - and drugs won?

Interesting post from Jim Moore on the United States' perpetual war on drugs.

"...the political side of our culture wants to claim progress. But nailing the little guy one suspect at a time is not a method for ending the madness. Maybe there is nothing meaningful that can be done."

Monday, March 2, 2009

The third month

March is under way; I find it interesting how important the month is to me. Monday is/was (depending on when you're reading this) Texas Independence Day, a day that seems to mean more to me as I get older. It is that thing of needing and wanting roots, I suppose. If we find ourselves 5,000 miles away from family and friends, in a country where we're not 100-percent sure that anyone likes us or ever will, we hold tight to those things we know. Or think we know.

Barbecue and the heavy moist smell of Gulf Coast air and the consistent texture of my grandmother's food. I don't have any complaints with my grandmother's cooking but it all strangely has the same consistency – it all feels similar in the mouth. I think of her cooking when Star Trek characters reference meals from a replicator.

In my elementary school, Texas Independence Day was celebrated by teaching the children how to perform various cowboy tasks like lassoing things and tanning cowhide. I was living in Houston at the time, a metro area of some 9 million residents. How these skills were ever supposed to come in handy in such a sprawling fit of urbanity, I do not know. We also had to square dance. In explaining square dancing to Gemma, a girl n my course, I found myself shocked and amazed to discover that I still remember certain moves.

Monday, the child bride (who was conceived in Texas) and I celebrated by frying chicken and dipping it in Stubb's barbecue sauce while listening to Willie Nelson. It's difficult to do much more than that because no one over here – the child bride included – gives a damn about the Lone Star State. In addition to barbecue and Willie, I took part in my annual theorising on what my life would have been like had I never left.

But I did leave Texas. Nigh 20 years ago. Meanwhile, in the place where I am, we celebrated St. David's Day on Sunday. St. David is the patron saint of Wales. He didn't do anything really fancy like chase the snakes out of the country, but we love him just the same. He ate a lot of vegetables and, if I remember correctly, managed to split a rock with his mind.

The child bride and I went down to Cardiff Bay to watch the St. David's Day parade make its way toward the Senedd, home of Wales' comedy government. This was only the sixth year of the parade but it is fast growing to something that meets the American standard. There were bands and blokes on horses and dance troupes and random weird people who didn't seem to fit the theme and so on – all marching in front of no one. They're still working on that last bit. In general, anyone with interest in the thing is a part of it and there's no one left to serve as spectator.

It was a shining and brilliant day to be marching, regardless of who was or was not watching.
In general, one would not choose first of March for a major outdoor event in Wales but the Lord Our God seemed willing to cooperate. Now that I think of it, though, the same was true of last year's parade. And, more or less, of the parade the year before (which I marched in, strangely as a member of the Plaid Cymru contingent). Luck of the Welsh, I suppose.

At the Senedd, everyone gathered to listen to a load of tedious speeches from low-level politicians no one has ever heard of. Few people are less important than Welsh politicians. St. David's Day, however, allows them the chance to pretend they are legitimate. It is sort of the American Idol Experience for politicos. Sadly, due to their utter lack of public-speaking practice, they tend to drop the ball, delivering monotone babble that would be out-flanked by a 12-year-old's book report and failing to adequately master the concept of a microphone.

That makes me think of a good band name: Wedding Speeches For The Listless.

The child bride and I chose instead to go eat lunch, a task to which Rachel was so dedicated that in rushing to keep up with her I didn't get a chance to stop and chat with Mared, whom I passed in the crowd. At lunch Rachel and I talked about Wales and our connection to it. Despite being the most populous city in Wales, Cardiff feels a little too small at times. We often talk about moving somewhere else. London perhaps. I don't know how realistic that is. Probably no more or less realistic than my desire to move to Ireland.

It is easier for an American to live in Ireland than anywhere else in Europe (well, Western Europe, at least). In Ireland, the Yanqui need only show up and promise not to bother anyone, and he can stay for as long as he likes. As such, I have developed a hare-brained backup plan should visa issues become insurmountable in Britain: I will move to Ireland, carry on writing my little Welsh books – occasionally popping over to Wales when the weather is nice – and eventually become an Irish citizen. Brilliant.

If I were to actually do such a thing, I think it would rank as the greatest achievement of my life. I would insist on going to all my high school reunions solely for the purpose of bragging about it.

"So, what are you doing these days, Chris?"

"I'm Irish, motherfucker. See my passport? Go ahead, try and top that."

I will never really understand my deep-rooted love of all things Irish. Like everyone in America, my family has Irish connections, but it was never really emphasised by my parents. Somehow, though, I knew that the Irish were Important; I knew that St. Patrick's Day was Important. Rivers and beer and hair were dyed green, in school we were physically punished by our peers for failing to show respect to √Čire – we would pinch the kids who weren't wearing green.

The first time in my life (and, indeed, one of the few times) I actually found myself wanting to be an adult was on St. Patrick's Day. My family and I were on the Galveston-Bolivar ferry and I spotted a load of guys drinking green beer. College dudes in a backwater spot of Texas getting sloppy on cheap lager and food colouring – that was my picture of adulthood and coolness. I was an odd child.

Further proof of that oddness is the fact that we were on the ferry celebrating my birthday, which comes three days after St. Patrick's Day. Throughout my childhood, a number of my birthdays were held on modes of public transportation. At least twice I insisted upon spending my birthday going back and forth on the ferry. One year was spent going round and round and round on the tram at Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

St. David's Day, Texas Independence Day, St. Patrick's Day, and my birthday. I am defined by the month of March.