Sunday, December 25, 2005

Tales From the Northwest

It’s Christmas Eve, and I am in Detroit, waiting for the last leg of my journey home to be over. It began yesterday with an airline agent informing me that my ticket (bought months ago) was “no good” because my credit card didn’t go through. I was completely ignored when I said, “What the fuck?, Why would you guys send me an e-ticket if this was true?” I had to write a check out to get my boarding pass for which they required 3 different kinds of government-issued ID. I had only one. “In this country, we require identification when you write a check”, the woman tells me. Because apparently in other countries, we simply scratch out I-Owe-U’s in bamboo leaves. She further asked me if I had my immigration papers or passport with me. The unmitigated gall. She tapped and clicked on her keyboard and suddenly it was okay for me to board the plane.

Not only did I have extra special security checks for reasons best explained in person with hands thrown up in air, but my flight got overbooked (for which they put me up in a ratty hotel) and the subsequent flight next day got delayed for close to an hour causing me to miss my connection. Right now, I feel much gratitude that I don’t have to face the horror of spending Christmas Eve in Detroit in yet another grody hotel room. It must bite to be an airline agent this time of year. I have witnessed and participated in much snapping, yelling and cursing out of these reps. The one time I felt bad for them (along with myself) was when this poor agent had to tell me that my boarding pass was no good, and that “they” had overbooked the flights. She looked ready to cry. Every now and again, a green-and-red-santa-hat-wearing elf-wannabe would board the plan and happily greet us, “Merry Christmas!” And everyone would wince.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Winter Begins

I looked up and was startled to find "Winter Begins" on my calender today. It is official, apparently. There is such a gray, cold threat in those words. Savor the Sun, it seems to warn. I ran across a blog the other day of this girl I sorta knew in grad school, who is now in Mongolia, doing what seems like a lot of extremely cool shit. I can't wait till I leave also and move again and begin life in an entirely new world again. I feel restless and ready to move on from here. It's been cold in DC these past few weeks. Windy and chilly, despite the sun. The other night, I was waiting for the bus late at night and this woman getting into her car, saw me and offered me a ride. Everyone knows it takes forever for the bus to arrive after rush-hour ends. I was touched, but declined of course. Don't take rides from strangers and all that jazz. This one time, in Iowa City, I was staying with a friend of mine for a week in the outskirts of town. After taking the wrong bus twice, I got off the wrong stop and wandered around a very pretty neighborhood for a few minutes, asking where Westwinds was. The lady of the first household I hollered at, offered to drive me up there because she couldn't describe the way well enough and because "honey, it's a long walk". Nice. I must have a "weary traveler" feel to me or something.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Stanley "Tookie" Williams: A Polling Experiment!

I am trying something new. Instead of ranting about what I think of this, I am going to ask you what you think. I might do a followup blog or something. If you haven't been following the news, here's a quick synopsis of Stanley "Tookie" Williams. He was the co-founder of Cripps, the notoriously violent gang that has been responsible for countless murders since its birth. Tookie Williams recently got executed for the murder of 4 people--a crime that took place some 20-30 years ago that he has denied committing. During his incarceration, he was a vocal, and powerfully influential critic of gang violence. He had written several books on the topic, and had spoken to at-risk youth for years. He was also nominated 4 or 5 times for the Nobel Peace Prize by the Swedish legislators. If you had attended the Million More March in DC this past summer as I did, you would have seen black celebrities and activists vocally opposing his execution, and advocating for a pardon. I wanna know what you think. So lets pretend it's a week before his execution, and you are the Governor, reading over his clemency hearing.
Sony's Blog Poll

What do you think of Stanley "Tookie" Williams' Execution?

He is guilty, Execute Him!
He is innocent, Pardon Him!
I don't know about his innocence/guilt, but I trust the system, Execute Him!
I don't know about his innocence/guilt, but I don't trust the system, Pardon Him!
I don't have an opinion on this, but I like to be asked anyway!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Every now and again, I picture time pulled apart like a big rubber band, down to its minutes and seconds, and I am wiggling my way inside so that it stretches around me in infinity. Time as endless doesn't bother me at all. I find it soothing like tasting my favorite kind of chocolate (dark with nuts in them) or walking home on a beautiful fall evening and my ipod just spit out the perfect song. It's time ignoring the speed limits, and rushing at break-neck velocity that makes me anxious. These days, a year has been condensed into a month, and a month is a small blip on the radar. Weeks are days, and days are the tick tock of the cat's tail clock in your house.

I think in the year 3000, time will be a commodity. It will be sold in the nearest grocery store in tiny packages of minutes or seconds. If you are late to a meeting, all you would have to do is fork over a few million finance units for a small dose of 2 minutes so you can catch that space shuttle you missed to Pluto. Of course, time is finite--these packaged minutes will have to be pulled from someone who is willing to sell their share of time. At first, only bored teenagers will do this, who could use an extra million or two. But in time, the poor will be exploited for their time in a more, sinister literal way. All the rich people will never be stressed or busy, while the poor are always racing against time--not meeting deadlines, aging and then dying faster. There will be nonprofits with names like "Timeless" or public service anouncements that warn against the "exploitive market of minutes". Time will be the new oil. Or even more ominous...babies will be born, who will die instantly because their life-times have been sold into the black market.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

"My parents are still proud of me."

...that's what former FEMA director--Michael D. Brown--declared at a press conference to announce his new venture--a disaster preparedness consulting firm.

Click Here for the article. I need not say more.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Think Before You Pink

The other night while watching tv, I decided to count the number of shady health-related messages perpertrated by television Ads. All the pharmaceutical ones, the trendy 4-periods-a-year thing, and of course the Ads for various diseases and their cures if only we would buy more.

I counted 5, then forgot I was doing it. So somewhere between 5 and 5000.

The idea of marketing goods and services is such a core part of our daily exsistence that it's amusing to detach it on occasion and examine it as you might an oddball potatoe. Breast cancer, for example, is easily one of the best marketed diseases out there. Who doesn't know what a pink ribbon is? Buy estee lauder, drive a BMW and eat yogurt...all while supporting the cure for breast cancer. Capitalism is very impressive at turning a complicated, often intangible concept into a sellable, accessible product that can enter into the marketplace. If you are able to buy your way to a larger cause, and you associate this good feeling with a's pure advertisement gold. It sells this idea that activism and social justice can be achieved easily by simply doing the things that we would normally do anyway...which is eat yogurt and put on make-up.

There is little doubt that advertisements are overwhelmingly targeted to women in our culture, and furthermore that there are some very rigid gender assumptions that the world of advertisements and television bases everything on. And one of its core assumptions is that men don't buy things unless they absolutely need it, while women are frivolous shoppers who go around spending money all over town. In this context, it seems perfectly reasonable that buying lipstick--a frivolous act--can redeem itself by having some social value. However, it is never true that buying a power drill--an ostentiously male product--could alleviate testicular cancer. You buy a power drill because you need it. Despite the fact, that one often buys a power drill even when you don't need it. In fact, I can't think of any products that target men, that also have some sort of cause hanging onto its coat-tails.

I wish I had thought it up...there's a campaign called Think Before You Pink...that has some pretty interesting information and tips when buying that pink-colored cookie that will help a breast cancer victim in montana live to see her teenage daughter graduate high school.