Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The cure for everything

Vivaldi isn't very sophisticated, most of the time, but he is incredibly boisterous.

Vivaldi makes everything better, particularly when these guys play him.

Otherwise, everybody is yelling "wolf" at the top of their lungs, and while there are a few wolves about, there aren't nearly as many as one would think. Frankly, a lot of us can afford to lose quite a bit of stuff. I worry about the large numbers of people who can't, but ironically I think they stand a better chance of being helped now than they did a year ago - the magnitude of the issue has properly come into focus.

But then what the hell do I know anyway.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Special edition: the Questing Beast Armageddon report

My mother just called me to tell me two things:
a) that she's having her birthday party next week
b) that one of the Home Country's biggest banks is dramatically going under
Belgium has never seen anything like this, unlike the US, which at least has the precedent of the Great Depression, which, while being a black page in its history, shows that such things can be survived. People back home are scared that they will lose their money, even when I think that is not a realistic risk; and the government is apparently not doing a good job of explaining why people shouldn't be pulling out their money (not because it is not available - but because it would destroy the value of the bank).

It really does feel a little like Armageddon, I'm sure, though I don't think it actually is.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The dragging end of a long week

This week should be over, but it isn't. I am watching the presidential debate, thinking how tired I am, and that I have to get up early tomorrow, and it feels like it never ends, all the work and the activities...(*tries not to focus on Obama's incredibly white teeth*)

Friday, September 26, 2008

You know I've watched too much political coverage

I saw this commercial, and thought - way to go, Microsoft! It has been a long time since I thought that. I wonder how they're doing in the polls?

So today, I want to hug Microsoft; even though I still think Vista is awful and Steve Ballmer is rightly nicknamed Uncle Fester.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bears! Glamour! Drama! Turkeys!

Last weekend I saw bears, saw a shooting stars and ate Jefferson's figs*. It was a good weekend.

*No, that's not some dirty metaphor. I am being entirely literal about Jefferson's orchard.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A day late

Well, you'll have noticed that the last two weeks have been busy. Between work and play and commitments, I have not had much spare time. Or sleep - though that is not so much because of my schedule as it is because of various minor things interfering with sleep. So it goes. I feel like I am somewhere in between Martha Stewart (I keep baking stuff and straightening sheets) and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary (not in any sexy sense, only in the sense that I am swamped with work and error-prone).

Not that any of this is your problem.

Meanwhile, I'm still listening to Lincoln, which is giving me the odd sensation of being a spectator, walking around in the rooms of the White House. The book seems to keep pace with my mood; or I with it. Anyway, I recommend it.

That's all you're getting out of me today. I am off to some dinner or something.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I am listening to A Team of Rivals, the book on Lincoln's cabinet politics. It is an interesting book, and makes it impossible not to be drawing parallels between it and current politics. The rosy colours with which it paints Lincoln bother me a little - no one is as good as their myth. Still, the book is a great listen, and Lincoln is of course one of the great compelling figures in American history (FDR is next up on my list). He is a reminder of what great leadership can do for a country (help it through the greatest troubles in its history) and what it can't (prevent those troubles). It is a reality check that possibly the greatest American president is also the man who failed to prevent the Civil War, and not for want of trying. Perhaps this is too often forgotten; that even greatness has its limits. It is what makes me wary of Bohama, incidentally - people expect too much of him, and he, in turn, promises the moon. I know it's a tradition, but it is not a good one. McBane, on the other, seems to only promise the illusion of a return to the happy status quo of (oh irony) the Clinton years. Somehow that is even more depressing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Saturday I was in New York looking in befuddlement at an little Asian lady posing with a bull's testicles. It was, of course, the Wall Street bull, but I was not to know. I don't know if it brought her good luck, but certainly it didn't do much for Wall Street. While the folks there were panicking, the Spouse and I were charmingly viewing the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. One should never let a financial crisis get in the way of sightseeing.

Monday, September 15, 2008


It has been a crazy week, but here is Andrew Motion.

Andrew Motion?

Andrew Motion, for those of you not partial to modern poetry, is the British Poet Laureate. The British what? The court poet - the guy who writes poetry for the Queen. Not sexy poetry; stately poetry for anniversaries and weddings. That guy.

So what about this guy Motion?

Well, he has apparently been complaining publicly about the job, saying that it has killed his poetic soul, saying that it is a thankless job, because the Queen says thank you but does not reveal the true nature of her feelings about Mr. Motion's poetry.

It occurs to me to walk up to Andrew Motion some day and shake him. "Andrew" I would say "you work for the Queen. You are in all likelihood renumerated generously for your services, an unusual state of affairs for a poet. You work for a woman whose entire adult life has been devoted to maintaining decorum on behalf of her fickle country and her impossible, indiscrete and most ignoble relatives. To berate her for not betraying emotions is a little like getting a pizza from your freezer and complaining that it is frozen. It's a freezer. Freezing is what it does. If you want hot pizza you're going to need an oven, or better yet, a good pizza restaurant. Don't get angry with the freezer. Instead, you should apologise to the Queen for comparing her to a freezer in the first place (my apologies, your Majesty) and be grateful that she did not express her feelings about frankly mediocre your poetry. Once you have done that, you should stop complaining about being expected to do exactly the job you were hired for. Quit, if you so desire, and I believe that you are in fact leaving the job. Just don't be such a sad-ass, lame, whiny loser about it, Motion. Don't you think Ted Hughes had feelings?"

(For the record I will state that I actually like Andrew Motion's poetry better than Ted Hughes' - but ungraciousness is unbecoming, most of all in a poet, who should know better)

But here's the right of response...and it is a bit lame

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Crab, of course

There is Family in town, a fact which we celebrated with some crab dip last night. The Relation in Question and her friend commented on the election madness, specifically the t-shirts. They laughed - "who would wear that?"
It occurs to me that
a) I am at a loss to explain the phenomenon
b) I never thought the t-shirts were even the least bit unusual
c) America, like the Borg, has assimilated me.
As with the Borg, it is kind of hard to tell whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Perhaps neither.

The Visiting Relative is, of course, the excuse for some further travel for which there is actually no money. Whee.

On another point, living, as I do, in geekland, I have acquired an affection for Chrome. It has that Apple-esque really slick user experience, that crowd-pleasing niftiness. I am not about to give up Firefox, but find myself missing Chrome when using Firefox. Shame that Google didn't think it was worthwhile opening up their shiny new browser to blind users. Yep, quite like Apple, this experience.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Watching the weather

I was just watching Palin say "What does he [Obama] actually seek to accomplish, after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet?"

You have to love how she makes it sound like somehow global warming is a liberal ploy, a distraction from her duty to shrink government. If Obama does only those to things she so scorningly lists, he will be the best thing that ever happened to the US. You know, I thought that with McCain, at least some awareness of the climate complex situation had finally reached the republicans; but it seems like they like their denial more than their lives and livelihood. Bring on the rising water and the hurricanes. Maybe they will think it is a biblical punishment for someone else's (anyone else's) sins. One can but hope that there is not enough of them to win the debate, or the election.


Spreadsheets (especially large, pretty ones) are the solution to everything, and now there is this decision-making spreadsheet. For now, the focus is on recruiting:
It is easy to see the virtue and limitless possibilities of such a spreadsheet, such a sparkling thing of beauty.

I shall play with it and make it all-powerful.

Perhaps I shall send it to Barack Obama as an executive tool.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The emotional oddity

There has been little politics here, not because I haven't been paying attention, but because I don't feel qualified to talk about it. Yesterday, though, I was watching the Republican National Convention and there was one thing which completely baffled me: time and time again, republicans of every stripe said that they expected Hillary voters to vote for McCain/Palin because Palin is a "strong woman". Political parties often foster delusions, but this one seems particularly poignant. Why would any woman who had thought of voting for a feminist, pro-choice, experienced, fairly consistent senator now vote for a creationist, rabidly and unnuancedly pro-life, relatively inexperience governor?

People vote with their, well, let me generously say their heart, not their brain. That we know. But would they go so far in ignoring every issue that Hillary Clinton stands for when picking a new favourite? Are politics so dependent on simple choices? I'll be watching the polls.

Frivolous, yet again

Labor Day weekend. I did not a shred of work, which suits me just fine. Instead the Spouse and I we out for a drive, and also to an American football game. The football game was surprisingly unboring, helped by the fact that, unlike real football/soccer games I have been to, it did not take place lateish at night some day when I hadn't slept much. So yes, hair in the wind and face to the sun, it was a good weekend.

I finally, finally finished my Juvenile book, not to be confused with Juvenal - I mean some pointless book I read when I was fifteen and though might be fun to re-read and was then too stubborn to quit reading. I can now move on to more stimulating stuff, like any of the pile of books I acquired on my last trip, especially since my audioread is The Code of the Woosters, as frivolous and light a book as was ever written. Still, Wodehouse is fun. It's just that I think my upper limit has been reached for frivolity, an unusual enough thing, previously thought to be impossible.

Otherwise, too much politics. I am tired to the Republicans already.