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saturday, 17 september

quoted: "i can't believe i was a lesbian in my dream!" -marylebone high street

political gossip: tony blair (and entourage) dined at soho house in new york on thursday night. can you imagine bush in soho house? me either. 'nuff said.

secondly, personal gossip: i am indeed going to take a few weeks off from making daily updates, while i attempt to clean my pit of a room and (more importantly) try not to get an ulcer between now and the all souls exam. which ends two weeks from today. so maybe check back on 2nd october-ish?

friday, 16 september

quoted: "there's no point in having diarrhea because of a cocktail" -christine

which is to say that michael's going away party was a lot of fun last night, and it got me invited out tonight and tomorrow night. watch me socialise. whoo.

i should point out that bobbo pointed out the everybody poops link i posted yesterday, and that i'm increasingly glad that bush didn't have anything classified in front of him.

belated observation: at the party i went to sunday, i watched perhaps 8 or 10 children within the 7-11 age range run around like maniacs, spin one another around until they couldn't stand up, and then poke/hit their dizziest peer with a stick. the lord of the flies suddenly made so much more sense. was i not paying attention when i was a kid? i mean, i remember plenty of brutal games of red rover (and many more less brutal games of red light/green light and mother may i?) with my cousins, but i don't think we tormented piggy. or his ass-mar. were we just particularly na´ve?

additionally, there was a pheasant at the chch sports ground yesterday. it was very pretty.

thursday, 15 september

happy 27th wedding anniversary, mom and dad!!
quoted: "there are just some moments when your family makes sense" -dar

nothing serious today. everybody poops. the cheat cammandos are committed to appropriate peer-2-teen choice behaviors. and, finally, apparently i need to leave my room more often. i've got a plan for the day, and i'm gonna stick to it. of course, i'm already 90 minutes behind on said plan.

i hear that things change. i don't like it.

wednesday, 14 september

quoted: "i am never surprised by the things gay men do when it comes to commitment" -joe

i'm thinking of taking a few weeks off. from this thing. from other things. i'll let you know, but i need some time to think about where my life is going, and i can only do so much self-analysis a day, so this may get cut, at least for a while. just a head's up.

since the roberts confirmation hearings have gone from mildly interesting to mind-numbingly boring, i'll mention some things that intrique me about the administration's katrina response. firstly, was anyone else annoyed with headlines of "number of dead likely to be far below estimates"? i mean, the estimates in the thousands always seemed high to me. i may not be an emergency responder (then again, neither was michael brown), but they struck me as beyond-worst-case scenarios so that no matter what the numbers turned out to be, the public could say "phew". don't tell me bush doesn't know how to play the low expectations game.

secondly, and speaking of michael brown, what's the deal there? in less than a fortnight we went from the president's "brownie, you're doing a heck of a job!" to this exchange betweena reporter and mr bush:

Q Can you tell us, have you accepted the resignation of Michael Brown, or have you heard about it?
THE PRESIDENT: I haven't -- no, I have not talked to Michael Brown -- or Mike Chertoff; that's who I'd talk to. As you know, I've been working. And when I get on Air Force One, I will call back to Washington. But I've been on the move.
Q Our understanding is he has resigned, he's made a statement. Would that be appropriate --
THE PRESIDENT: I haven't talked to Mike Chertoff yet, and that's what I intend to do when I get on the plane. You know, I -- you probably -- maybe you know something I don't know, but as you know, we've been working, and I haven't had a chance to get on the phone.

now i was working too and i knew that brown had made a statement. there are two explanations: the president is being handled truly horrendously by his aides OR he's being advised horrendously by his aides. brown was falling on his own sword, and my suspicion is that the administration didn't want to be seen too eager to jump into blame-gaming. they wanted the press corps to do it for them. but the press didn't bite, and the presidnet's nonchalance made it seem more like he had no interest in the running of FEMA whatsoever. which leads us to...

thirdly, the president's taking responsibility for the lapses in response to the storm. everyone should go watch the video, which you can get from the new york times story i linked. i think he was trying to look modest and humble. he failed though. he came off looking uncomfortable, averse to taking responsibility, and mildly animatronic.

that's all from me. i'm off to the library.

tuesday, 13 september

today: the excitement of the all souls exam wears off, i go to the college, look at old papers and freak out that i'm not going to be able to write a coherent essay on any of the questions on the first day. you see, the first day of the exam is two three-hour history exams. the questions are very specific (e.g. was there any important link between the anglo-saxons and the carolingian franks?). that's why i'm basically screwed. you see, i don't actually know very much. at all. as reading the old exam papers reminded me. on the plus side, however, each exam paper includes about forty questions, of which only three need to be answered. the general papers are a bit better. the questions are sometimes random (is eminem the new elvis? what makes a national cuisine?), and difficult to write hour-long answers for them, but at least there's a good chance i can come up with some opinion.

meanwhile, the following things are interesting and/or amusing:
1) E J Dionne's WaPo column on the end of the bush era.
2) wonkette's tips on making the roberts hearings more interesting.
3) absolutely, positively the note is not interesting today.

finally, i think i'm going to go home for the easter break this year, where i'll have ample space and time to edit edit edit. perhaps i should ask my parents about that first. since they're empty nesters now and all.

monday, 12 september

quoted: "where's the cheese?" -tashie

news flash: i cannot read minds.

news flash #2: there's no such thing as a "light meal" at royal china if jack's involved.

i went to a party with jack and his family yesterday at a country house in ascott. it was great fun, though the drive back to london seemed to take forever. and then i ate more than i ought to have at royal china.

in today's good news pile, i've been invited to take the all souls college prize fellowship examination at the end of the month. so you all need to think good thoughts for me between 29th september and 1st october.

no, there's no chance that i'll get the fellowship, but it won't hurt me too much to sit the exam. nothing ventured, nothing gained. right?

sunday, 11 september

how has it been four years since the terrorist attacks? time heels all wounds, i suppose. the anniversary is being marked by a kitschy country music concert on the mall. the secretary of defense is showing up. barf.

in the good news pile, brokeback mountain (view trailer here), my most anticipated film of the year, won the top award at the venice film festival yesterday. it's being released in the US on 9th december. i get home on the 13th. it better be picked up by a spokane theater. that's all i have to say about that.

gotta go shower and shave and get to london.

saturday, 10 september

quoted: "oh!" -adorable little boy (maybe 18 months old), over and over again, while pointing at various things on merton street, including a drainpipe, a paving stone, a street lamp and a door.

nothing from me today, except a link to today's particularly hilarious get fuzzy and a slightly less amusing tom toles cartoon.

friday, 9 september

firstly, everyone should read this op-ed piece from yesterday's NYTimes about san francisco's 1906 earthquake. just because it's important to remember that cities are destroyed from time to time, and that we really should have a plan for next time it happens. it will still get screwed up, i'm sure. but it never hurts to have something in mind, right?

secondly, today marks my return to the libraries of oxford. i'm sure there will be drums and dancing, and then we'll get admonished. rest assured that it will be a tour de force involving three (if not four or five) different prisons of learning. yeeha.

thirdly, thomas friedman is still a huge tool. as is anyone who subtitles their book "How America Acts as the World's Government in the 21st Century." of course, mr friedman himself subtitled his most recent book "a brief history of the twenty-first century". what hubris! it's really too bad he's not interesting enough to be the hero of a greek tragedy. if he were, he would probably have suffered a series of small but excruciatingly painful paper cuts by now as divine punishment for his toolishness.

fourthly, i'm a bit stinky, so i'm off to shower.

thursday, 8 september

quoted: "those probably would have disappeared quick" -porter, on the vegetarian sausages i left in the freezer of the flat i was in last week.

word on the street is that the governor of california is indeed planning to veto the state legislature's marriage equality bill. i would like to thank the handful of peopel who emailed me to remind me about seeming antipopulism of said bill. you see, a few years ago the people of the great state of california in their enduring wisdom (snickers) approved by fairly high margin a proposition defining marriage along your standard, run-of-the-mill, heteronormative lines. so governor schwarzenegger is banking on standing up for the people here, against the meddlesome legislators who seek to undermine their will. there's currently a suit moving through the courts in cali concerning the constitutionality of the discriminatory proposition, so we'll see how this all works out in the end.

yesterday there was an accident on the road between here and london, making what should be a 90 minute bus ride into a three hour journey from heck. then, when i got to the british library, it took over an hour (instead of the standard 15 minutes) for my manuscripts to arrive. which is simply to say that yesterday wasn't my day. and i still had a great day, because all that was followed by royal china in canary wharf, smiths of smithfield, and carlucci's. only real problem was that i didn't get home until 1am. but oh well. small price to pay. now i need to read me some newspapers and get to the gym.

the note is back. hurray hurray.

and a little ps to DC democrats:
(1) stop blaming bush exclusively, because people will get tired of it rather quickly.
(2) instead, press relentlessly for an independent investigation, which the republicans will oppose on account of its likelihood of turning out poorly for them. but people like the word "independent" for some reason.
(3) when you go on television or write an op-ed piece, acknowledge the weaknesses of the local response to katrina, because there were weaknesses there. it doesn't weaken the case against the bush administration, it DOES increase democratic credibility.
(4) simultaneously, point out that the federal government still has some screw-ups to answer for, among which are (in no particular order):
a - "who would have thought the levees would break?" a lot of people, and there wasn't enough money going to them. there needs to be a national discussion about out fiscal priorities. terrorism is a great stage prop, but it doesn't allow us to neglect our day-to-day responsibilities at home. in fact, it may mean we need to take them more seriously.
b - FEMA director brown's surprise last thursday to learn that there were thousands of people in the convention center. how on earth does that man still have a job?
c - what purpose does the department of homeland security serve if they haven't come up with a contingency plan for evacuating (and handling the evacuees from) a major american city in case of disaster? was it the hurricane that distracted the administration, or would it have bungled everything just as badly if this had been a dirty bomb in honolulu?
(5) finally, for now it's important to stick to specific screw ups. there will be plenty of time to campaign on this. the republicans certainly won't be able to do so, but wait for it. it'll still be there.

and with that, i'm going to go drink some water while pedalling a stationary bicycle. yay.

wednesday, 7 september

happy 24th, jack!

and a belated happy birthday to miss julie marie and allison D. i spent all of yesterday moving into my new room. my storage stuff got delivered yesterday, as well. right now, i'm already late for making it down to london to visit the british library before engaging in the jack's birthday extravaganza. so i must go do that now. rest assured i still have inane opinions on everything in the world. i just don't have time to spout them right now.

ps - these people are lame whiners

pps - kudos to the california state legislature on this little bill that both houses have now passed. you know my aversion to using foul language, but i must make an exception to say: what the FUCK is governor schwarzenegger thinking when he has his spokesperson announce that he "believed the issue of same-sex marriage should be settled by the courts, not legislators". how disengenuous is that, after all the crap we hear from the republican party about activist judges?!

monday, 5 september

happy labor day quoted: 'not the poem structure, the place, you freak' -rob's dad in get fuzzy

well well well, here i am, back in liddell, thanks in large part to jack. and not at all to the buck-passing college authorities, who were wholly unable to help. lots has happened in the past week. i won't bore you with the bad parts--i've more than filled out my personal journal with those. i will say my cold is not doing any better. and that seb and tash's wedding was great fun, but the weekend would have been made better by a room in a b&b instead of sleeping on the floor of a damp, thatch-roofed house occupied by 14 of my friends. not that it wasn't charming.

on the train yesterday, three women (at least one of whom i believe to have been an anglican minister) were talking about about the importance of community. i was very impressed to hear them reach beyond the church, though. they talked about how parish communities need to be part of larger local communities, that unless people feel connected to their neighbors by more than mere geography, isolation and fragmentation will continue. the question is (and this is a question that societies around the world will struggle to answer in the coming decades) how to build functioning social networks in a diverse world. to answer the question we're going to have to find common ground with people who seem at first glance to be different from us. it's an urban challenge that suburban america has attempted to resolve by de facto segregation along certain demographic lines. but that's not a real solution, and the isolationism of the oakcrests and elmbrooks is a testament to that.

(climbs down from soap box, but gets ready to climb back up in a moment)

i'm still settling back in. i've been doing preliminary edits of the city chapter (just one page left to annotate), but i haven't made it to the library yet. or emailed my supervisor. i also need to pay the rest of my trinity term bills, buy some sneakers, and join a gym.

on to katrina...at the wedding saturday we prayed for those less fortunate than we around the world, especially in iraq and the united states. that says something. i remember last tuesday, when news outlets kept saying things like "hurricanes don't differentiate between the haves and the have nots. they destroy indiscriminately". even then, it rang false to me. i would be curious to see statistics on the percentage of those above the national median income who keep homeowners'/renters' insurance against the proportion of people living below the poverty line who hold such insurance. yes, a category 4 hurricane destroys mcmansions and slums with equal ruthlessness. and the red cross won't turn anyone in need of help. but after the storm, the mcmansion resident has more options--for medical assistance, for temporary housing, and for rebuilding one's life than does the person living in section 8 housing. and the cleft between the middle class and the poor becomes more stark when an entire city becomes uninhabitable for a long stretch of time. there's a story on this very subject in today's new york times.

on a related note, everyone should recall bush's comments from friday. not just the jocular talk about his youthful day's of partying in new orleans and houston. at the mobile airport friday morning: "The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." the crowd responded with laughter. governor riley of alabama replied with "He'll be glad to have you." no doubt true, but i'm guessing senator lott has more than one house. i'd even guess he has more than two houses.

and is rubbles really a word? maybe like internets?

finally, chief justic rehnquist died saturday evening. i'd like to state for the record that i'm not conspiracy minded, and i hate to reduce the death of anyone (even someone with whom i've rarely agreed) to a mere coincidence, let alone a joke. bush sure does seem to have good timing with the supreme court, but i'm guessing even the death of a man who served our country faithfully for decades--right up until his death--won't distract the american public (let alone people around the world) from the fact that government at all levels really dropped the ball last week. really, really dropped the ball.

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