Thursday, June 20, 2013

Quartre Expressions Françaises

À bon chat, bon rat.
L'appetit vient en mangeant.

À beau mentir qui vient de loin.

L'air ne fait pas la chanson.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Yes this really just happened.

On my street everyone parks on the sidewalk, and as a pedestrian one is often obliged to walk in the street.  So I was walking down the street when a huge truck turned the corner and started towards me.  I just assumed that he would slow down or stop to let me get to a portion of the sidewalk not packed with bumper-to-bumper cars, but I was wrong.  I had to use my hand to snap closed his giant side mirror to prevent it from clocking me.  That angered him, he stopped, ran towards me, yelled a bunch of bullshit, and slapped me.  A passer-by intervened to stop the fight.  I laughed all the way home.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


A GVSU psychology professor friend just posted this on Facebook:

"I enjoyed reading this." 

That's right... Blowing A Whistle... by Thomas Friedman.  My heart immediately sunk.  Here's what I wanted to reply:

"I didn't. 

Friedman sets up the usual tiresome dichotomy of "less Government power" OR "more 9/11's." Then he adds some tortuous logic: IF you get too worried about your civil liberties THEN you shouldn't be surprised when another 9/11 happens AND another 9/11 would make Thomas Friedman sad since another 9/11 would inevitibly lead to even fewer civil liberties.

Did I mention 9/11?

He writes that "we don’t live in a world any longer where our government can protect its citizens from real, not imagined, threats without using big data."

Citation needed.  No professional terrorist is dumb enough to hatch a plot on Facebook.  They use courriers who need to be tracked by men on the ground, not by a digital Panopticon.

And PRISM clearly failed to prevent Baby's First Bombing in Boston, probably because one can carry out such an attack without picking up a phone, or logging on to the internet, just as terrorists have been doing all this time before the Internet existed. 

So we're being asked to shrug and go about our business, and just trust the government and all future administrations to do right thing, and never abuse for political reasons its practically unfettered ability to collect and store the personal information of everyone (well, only people who have a phone or use the internet).

By the way, anyone with clear eyes would see that this is a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment, but hey, that's just the Constitution talking.
All this because we have to live in fear for the rest of our lives that evildoers are lurking around the corner. We don't know why they want to hurt us, but they do.  And that's all I need to know.

So go on, spend billions on the gigantic data centers needed to house all of this data. Pay contractors like Snowden $200,000 a year to sit at a desk and determine if you're more than 51 percent foreign.

Remember, you can’t have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience!  And since 100% security is an attainable, realistic, and necessary goal, go right ahead! Hey, I wasn't using my privacy anyways."

I'm going to wait until I get home to talk to her about it in person. 

David Brooks has lost all remaining respect

David Brooks just published an opinion piece on Edward Snowden.  It has the borderline-inappropriate title The Solitary Leaker.

A summary for those pressed for time:

The lazy bum couldn't even finish community college.  I heard he doesn't visit his mom either!  He was rude to a neighbor.  Apparently he'd rather play with his beeping gizmos than talk about lawn care.
Kids these days!  They have no respect for their elders!
Despite all his lollygagging we gave him the benefit of the doubt and gave him a good job.  Then he betrayed us!  This is the thanks we get for your six-figure salary? 
Back in my day we were happy to have a job at all!  Spoiled brat!
You really think you're going to change anything?  Fat chance.  Probably just make things worse.  We'll probably find a better way to lie to you.  Why do you even try?  Give up.
In conclusion, do what you're told no matter what.  Disobeying orders is THE WORST.
Honestly, the second paragraph opened with, "According to The Washington Post, he has not been a regular presence around his mother’s house for years."  A non sequitor brimming with innuendo.  But wait, isn't not living with your mom for years when you are 29 exactly what society expects?  Had it been otherwise, Brooks would've assuredly pointed out how odd it is that a fully grown man still sponges off his parents because of his sense of entitlement and poor morals.

It just gets worse from there.  It's shameful, ham-handed mud-slinging that exploits boomer angst about the "atomized" society that their kids live in - you know, the world that they fucking created.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Partisan morons.

It must be partially due to the fact that I have lived in France for 2 years straight, and I was quite removed from the day-in-day-out Dems vs. GOP media narrative.  Sure, I still read the NYT regularly, but every time I walked outside or turned on the TV or the radio I was treated to a much different media environment.  By comparison the Democrats are actually "The Right" and the Republicans are "The Extreme Right."

But my usual weary bemusement of those who fervently attend the pep-rallies for the Blue Team or the Red Team has turned into disgust, particularly given the popular response to Edward Snowden's truly heroic actions last week. 

If you carefully read the articles published in the Guardian (and to a lesser exent the NYT) and your first response was to defend President Obama, you have a serious problem.  If the first thing you share on Facebook is something meme-ish from "LOLGOP" saying that "GOP furious about security leaks, unless it's the identity of a spy whose husband proved W lied us into war... do you remember the Valerie Plame ACTUAL scandal! Not a peep from our conservative friends," I just... I don't know what to say.  So the Plame affair was an "ACTUAL" scandal but this isn't? Everything isn't a puerile competition!

And why, O why, would anyone feel so compelled to go to any length to defend a man who is rightly deemed the most powerful on Earth?  How ironic that these poor partisan hacks feel the need to defend someone, when they should instead be defending themselves against him! 

Now I know that the invasion of privacy in the US has been a long, systematic process that Obama himself did not cause.  But he occupies the Executive right now, and he must bear all of the responsibilities of this highest of functions.  He is the figure that gets all the praise when things go well, and also gets all the criticism when they don't. That's what being the President is all about.  I really hoped that this would be obvious to more of my internet acquaintances. 

Let's get over the "us" versus "them" mentality.  Isn't that what Obama preached?  This isn't about partisan bullshit.  This is about the government collecting all of our data, and then retroactively being able to do what it pleases in a completely opaque environment.  A 29-year-old contractor had it all at his fingertips!  This is about thinking long and hard about the consequences for all of us if this practice is allowed to continue to expand. 

I think I might have made a mistake

Dreams in which I am taken back are becoming more and more frequent.  Waking up is a bitch.  It was so pleasant, but why?  Why am I torturing myself?

It ended with the scalpel precision.  No major fights, no reconciliations, no make-up sex.  It wasn't working for a long time, lamely, so we said goodbye, and that was that.  (And it really should have happened a while ago.) 

My natural distaste for reducing complicated things into digestible categories means I'll just have to remember the misshapen mess of all the aspects of our relationship in suspension, not forgetting everything that made me miserable, or the things that brought me joy.

But now my tired and lonely mind just wants to curl up in her soft motherly safety. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

I gotta get me one of those non-job-type jobs.

I just met a couple of British blokes who fly a private 10 seat jet for a living. "What's it like flying around all day?" I asked. "Well, it's better than working," said the jolly chap.  By all outwards appearances they live a simple, relatively care-free life.