You may dictate my style, but not my content.

The Associated Press has long been one of my favorite sources of news (and of style), but lately it's been pulling some heart strings that are only annoying me. Or maybe that's the thousands upon thousands of ditzy blondes in buttcheek-short dresses I've been running into lately on the bus or on BART.

This tragic tale of woe takes place in Temecula, California (misspelled as "Temicula", by the way, in the Editor's note), where a 38-year-old disabled Marine contemplates suicide because the government sucks, or something.

I could not even finish the article, it was that long and oozing with pathos rhetorical masturbation (and yes, Mom, I just used the word "masturbation" in prose I know you will read, and that is a stylistic choice owing to the only explanation for the Associated Press' decision to publish this piece: pathos rhetorical masturbation.). It was at precisely this moment that I could read no longer:
He passes nights largely sleepless, a zombie shuffling through the bare rooms of his home in sunny California wine country.

I would just like to say, if Temecula is wine country, I am rich and successful and have great marriage prospects and want fourteen children. Wine country is more than 450 miles north of Temecula, thank you. In fact, Temecula is closer to Mexico than it is to wine country, which isn't saying much for Temecula because it is practically in Mexico. You know, a completely different country.

Secondly, wine country is rarely sunny. Any number of cogent adjectives would suffice besides "sunny": foggy, cold, expensive...

Thirdly, why, oh why, does the AP use "largely" to modify "sleepless"? Sure, it's acceptable, and maybe this is more picky than any English major-turned-journalist would be, but doesn't "large" connote something more like extent or "physical girth" instead of suggesting anything like the quality or quantity of one's sleep?

Fourthly, if Temecula California is so damn expensive, why is he even living here?

Maybe I'm just grumpy from encountering too many reasons to be misanthropic. Maybe I realized it's probably weird that I care so much more about the style than I do the content of that AP article. I do, however, rather enjoy the Halo 3 musical score. Way to be, Marty O'Donnell!



Ahmadinemadness: Lamest headline ever

I'm allowed to criticize myself (or at least I'm making that okay), and I have to say that my Game Fuel-addled brain thought that "Nontraditional" was the right word to describe Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

Upon reflection, he technically is a traditional guy. After all, his faith hasn't changed in years. In his country, women still can't vote, the phenomenological gay doesn't exist, and "election" means "clerics select some candidates for the country to choose from" (which, as Stephen Colbert once said, is America's favorite kind of election in Iraq, but that's neither here nor there).

Columbia President Lee Bollinger was right in his introduction that whether or not Ahmadinejad directly answered the questions posed to him (which he didn't, just like he didn't in the "60 Minutes" interview), he would still represent his country. Evading or denying questions reflects precisely how dodgy the Iranian government has been when it interacts with many other countries, which is why it doesn't surprise me that Americans don't trust Ahmadinejad, even if he isn't the one in real power. Ahmadinejad said nothing new in his speech at Columbia (and I suspect nothing new at the UN General Assembly)- nothing that we didn't already know about his politics or that we might expect to see from him in the future- and yet Americans are still starkly upset by his unwillingness to provide real answers to honest academic queries.

Bollinger was wrong to call him "astonishingly uneducated" because I think it takes a good deal of skill to avoid revealing any useful information about one's opinions on anything. And sure, Columbia was probably setting the guy up (what did we expect, a totally uneventful and boring talk?), and Ahmadinejad accepted knowing he could spin the subject of free speech in Iran back to free speech in America, but in principle a university forum is an engaging way to fulfill Socrates' lifelong hippie love-fest dream of open dialogue resolving differences and gaining knowledge.

Of course, in practice, politics mucks everything up.


Back in the saddle

It's working again! So vote for me. I'm #40/190, and that's not so bad! And with the pot as big as it is now, I imagine my winnings will far make up for the chump change The Clog pays. But I'm not doing that for the money. I'm doing this for the money. So vote everyday (or every new computer, or, for the Air Bears in you, every time you connect).

Glad to be a meat-eater

I remember the days when vegetarians would laugh at all the mad cow scares because they didn't eat meat, and now their karmic retribution has come: bad tofu.



Latent memories

While perusing Dooce, the blogger I pore over just for fun because I am weird, I came across the skilled photography I always wish I could emulate and found this adorable photo.

The photo is adorable not because of the kid (though he is pretty cute), but because I recognize the outfit he is wearing because I sold it in my old moonlighting job as a baby store manager.

Of anything in my life-- the cats, the gay men, the distinct lack of straight men, the work-- the baby store was the one final push that made me feel 85, single, and living vicariously through the lives of my customers.

Ah, memories.

Waste of a couple lattes

So I guess blogforayear.com doesn't exist anymore, because it seems to have disappeared. I haven't seen the logo link on my page anymore, haven't received status update emails lately, and every time I type the address of either the home page or my profile page, I get a service temporarily unavailable error message.

Unless you computer-types can tell me otherwise, I'm kind of disappointed, even if I didn't invest much stock into it.


Those wily kids...

Even if you're an awkward electrical engineering student at MIT, standing out in the crowd isn't a good thing anymore.

Don't wear circuits or anything that looks remotely technological, because you might get shot in an airport.

At least that's the word at Boston's Logan International Airport, where 19-year-old MIT sophomore Star Simpson was arrested for wearing a "fake bomb."

It just seems like students can't stand out anymore.

Not that anyone should stand out. I mean, I wholeheartedly agree with mandating uniforms at airports-- Mormon underwear, anyone? That could be the next bake sale.


Now I want to go home and hug my cats

This guy has some issues.

I seriously hope that he gets all the karmic retribution in the world that he deserves. I'm not some PETA freak or anything, but come on. Feeding cats to pitbulls? Totally wrong.


I knew my (parents') money was going somewhere

Since I am not a reporter and can't write about this anywhere except anecdotally, I would like to share that my classical rhetoric professor is an adviser to the prosecutors mentioned in this high profile case.

His training of the Khmer Rouge tribunal prosecutors is why we didn't have class the first week, and I suspect why we won't have a final in December, when the trials are set to begin.

I guess it's kind of cool, but he is pretty much a Ben Stein incarnate in class.


This is not Berkeley-related.

I kind of shot myself-- or at least Old Lady Syndrome-- in the foot by taking a job at The Clog, because it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to my employer to write about Berkeley for money in one place and free in another.

I'm hoping to continue writing here about the things that interest me that would never interest Berkeley students, because I am a dork, which may or may not include personal, national or international news.

If I get better at this writing thing, maybe I'll successfully pull off both gigs, but 'til then, expect the kind of light coverage that comes with writing three blogs, taking 18 units and stage managing a play.


$850 poorer, and proud of it

For perhaps the first and only time in my life, I'm happy that my credit card bill is enormous.

I bought my ticket to Europe last night through STA Travel's website. The site pretty much sucks, but with lots of patience great deals can be found. I am officially leaving town on Christmas Day, because it costs like, three hundred dollars less than leaving the day after. I plan to spend New Year's in Paris avec friends already living there, and wander north to Utrecht (somehow) shortly thereafter.

The most difficult part will be not spending my life's savings during the month between the time classes get out in late May and my sister's best friend's Norwegian wedding in July. Hopefully the dollar will improve so the Euro isn't so extravagant, but I suppose only time will tell.

Yay for plans!


Graduate libraries are so much more civilized

Stories like these are precisely the reason I am considering (though very lightly) law school.

Pardon my tardiness...

I was asleep during this week's campus shooting (but not really) hoopla, and good thing. I missed the Daily Cal online edition kicking ass, and I also missed the Berkeley livejournal community going nuts.

I'm not really sorry I was sleeping. The library kids deserve to have been freaked out for studying late at night THREE WEEKS INTO THE SEMESTER.

Their Ritalin-addled minds must have been so jarred by the experience, or there was too much else going on (like 11 shootings in Richmond since Tuesday?), that the Chronicle didn't even want to cover mass hysteria over some guy getting robbed-- which, by the way, happened three times to more than six people on Sunday, right next to campus, without anyone uttering a peep.

Ugh. I am so over people.


Kind of a dork

So I spent this past Saturday and Sunday mornings here, and some people, myself included, call this crazy.

Yet it never really occurred to me just how dorky everyone else was, and how entertaining that might make my freakishly early morning be. The honoree for this classics conference was Tony Long, a classics professor here at Cal, who I presume is retiring after many years of teaching young people about dead people. Almost all of the presenters were former students, and at least three were under 65!

The grad student I took Latin from was there for one of the lectures, and there were a couple of reminders about how "non-guests" weren't supposed to eat the food (I'm guessing that by 'non-guests,' they meant me and everyone except the speakers, though technically wouldn't that make US guests, and everyone else conference members?).

The old people were uh, old, (sound familiar?) and it was clear from their various arguments about whether Socrates' "Socraticity" applies to his physical reincarnation or his intellectual reincarnation-- or whether there's a difference-- that they had been studying these things for longer than I have been alive. That was perhaps the most unsettling realization of the whole experience.

Other than that, the Faculty Club (you know, that ski lodge behind Hertz Hall) is really nice. It's pretty, quiet, and totally unspoiled by students.


Maybe it's the irony.

Kyle's latest obsession is really bizarre, and the fact that he can't stop laughing-- has had intermittent uncontrollable fits of giggling for the last several hours-- is a testament to just how bizarre he really is.


The life of a perfectionist who errs

Sometimes, I mess up. I don't like to do it in public, but every once in a while, it happens. When the mistake-- which someone else pointed out to me-- follows a blog post about me being a perfectionist, it only seems right that I should watch an obscure Indie film, chain-smoke in front of people to look so uncool that it's cool, and bask in my ironic life. While listening to Alanis Morrissette's "Ironic" (none of the scenarios in her lyrics, of course, are actually ironic, but that makes the whole thing even more ironic).

If my editor lets me, I'm going to post a correction, or at least a clarification, because I didn't even bother to look at who voted for and against the City Council's UC lawsuit settlement issue... and the one I poked fun at actually wanted to settle the whole damn thing and move on. Oops.

But he did vote Student Action in 2006, and we all know how informed he must have been to have favored that accident.


The life of a perfectionist

I applied for a copy-editing position at the Daily Cal, but it appears the Chronicle might need me more.

They might have corrected a few things by the time any of you read this, but here are a couple choice errors, however common and obvious and banal they may be and bolded for emphasis:

Jobs was particularly pleased with the update, saying it was the best lineup of products Apple has every created.

At $399, "we want to put iPhones in a lot of stokings this holiday season," Jobs said.

Every once in a while, I read KGO's website, because I don't actually listen to the talk radio but I like to listen to Jenna every once in a while to know she hasn't died or anything because, you know, she's still at work. The sad part is, some of the errors will last for weeks. I won't even bother with examples here.

And the cream of the crop-- the people who hardly fuck up-- are the Brits. BBC, on two or three occasions that I've read, has published typos on the front page leading stories, either in the teaser or the story itself.

Is it sad that I practically live for these moments, moments where my inhuman rapture with others' errors makes me feel more human?


John McCain needs a Joe Camel

With the 2008 presidential campaigning already heavily underway, it's no surprise that politicians are testing the waters with the hottest voting bloc: high school students, many of whom will conveniently turn 18 by the time November '08 rolls around.

And Arizona Senator John McCain is no different. He trekked to New Hampshire Tuesday to stand on a (small) soapbox espouse the values of paying attention to news that marks history, like decisions about Iraq.

But it seems the students were already fairly knowledgeable. They knew that, if elected, 71-year-old McCain would be the oldest president. And we all know what happens to old people. They eat at Country Kitchen Buffet, hate young people, and have large medicine cabinets to combat senility. I guess that's keeping up with the news, or at least Jon Stewart.

McCain aside, the potential geriatric ward of GOP candidates (excluding the young Mitt Romney, whose candidacy is shaky for other reasons) will have make do without the hip the Democrats seem to have gleaned from their youth and vigor. Perhaps McCain should take a tip from Big Tobacco and adopt a cuddly mascot.

Maybe the election will turn into a battle between the Ancients and the Moderns, and maybe I've just read one too many philosophy books, but when the hottest piece of news coming out of a campaign stop is how the audience worried about a guy's age, maybe McCain should be worrying about more than just coddling the young.


I'd hate to be him,

because the SF Chronicle really seems to do his quote justice. Is it just me, or does it sound like this guy has spent too many lonely work shifts with his feet up watching the security cameras?

"'You should see the stuff I see here,' he said. 'People don't think we see them, but we have cameras. I can't count how many people have sex down there and think we don't notice.'"


The moments that make me want to write

At the cafe; morningtime:

Elderly Husband, approaching Elderly Wife: Does the table wiggle?
EW: Not too badly.
EH: I just got a smile from a beautiful girl.
EW: Oh? How'd you manage that?
EH: She was about this high. [gestures to approximate three-year old height]
EW: Oh-h [chuckles]
EH: But she just gave me this big ol' smile.
EW: That's nice, dear.
EH: You know that lady at the cash register?
EW: Talk softly!
EH [softer]: I don't think she's ever given me the right change.
EW: Oh well, dear. It probably evens out in the end.
EH: I suppose you're right.

[They continue eating, reading newspapers and switching sections, sipping coffee. Also being old and settled and utterly free of social responsibility.]

Narrator [opening up a private conversation recounting the story]: ...and all I can think about while this old lady scolds her husband for gossiping about the counter staff too loudly is that I am not wearing underwear, a thought only interrupted by the circumstances under which I lost the garment.