Monday, September 29, 2008

The United States of

I once heard a very convincing argument in favor of keeping assault rifles legal in the US. It went something like this:

"They're lots of fun to shoot."

Ah yes, you say, nodding, TR is being sarcastic because he is a liberal.

Your premise is true, but your conclusion is not. I am not being sarcastic. I think the fact that they are fun to shoot is a good reason, nay, the best reason to keep those things legal.

I still don't think they should be legal, but I am saying that is a pretty good reason. Anything about defending your families is a pile of crap. Yes. It. Is. Your kids are much more likely to die by mistake re-enacting that last scene from 3:10 to Yuma (why did you let them watch that anyway?) than they are to have some criminal break into your house while he's lost in your east-side suburban neighborhood. Same thing goes for any appeal to the constitution. Sure, militias fought off His Majesty's Army, but what have they done for me lately?

So where were we? Guns are fun, that's true. If you are adverse to shooting one, good luck fitting in next time you're in Alaska for five months. Here's another use for them: If you have a friends visit from another country, you can take them shooting. Depending on what country they're from, it might be the most exotic thing they ever do.

Next time on Swirly Patterns: What about hunting?

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's that time of year for fractured friendships

Not so current since the US economy went all Hindenburg, and McCain revealed that he has NO CLUE what is to be done, but this is still quite funny...

Obama gets some 'West Wing' wisdom

By Maureen Dowd New York Times


Now that he's finally fired up on the soup-line economy, Barack Obama knows he can't fade out again. He was eager to talk privately to a Democratic ex-president who could offer more fatherly wisdom — not to mention a surreptitious smoke — and less fraternal rivalry. I called the "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin (yes, truly) to get a readout of the meeting. This is his account:

BARACK OBAMA: (Knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and Obama is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.)

BARTLET: Senator.

OBAMA: Mr. President.

BARTLET: You seem startled.

OBAMA: I didn't expect you to answer the door yourself.

BARTLET: I didn't expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a LancĂ´me rep who thinks "The Flintstones" was based on a true story, so let's call it even.

OBAMA: Yes, sir.

BARTLET: Come on in. (Leads Obama into his study.)

BARTLET: That was a hell of a convention.

OBAMA: Thank you, I was proud of it.

BARTLET: I meant the Republicans. The Us vs. Them-a-thon. As a Democrat I was surprised to learn that I don't like small towns, God, people with jobs or America. I've been a little out of touch, but is there a mandate that the vice president be skilled at field-dressing a moose —

OBAMA: Look —

BARTLET: — and selling Advertisement Air Force Two on eBay?

OBAMA: Joke all you want, Mr. President, but it worked.

BARTLET: Imagine my surprise. What can I do for you, kid?

OBAMA: I'm interested in your advice.

BARTLET: I can't give it to you.

OBAMA: Why not?

BARTLET: I'm supporting McCain.


BARTLET: He's promised to eradicate evil, and that was always on my "to do" list.


BARTLET: And he's surrounded himself, I think, with the best possible team to get us out of an economic crisis. Why, Sarah Palin just said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers." Can you spot the error in that statement?

OBAMA: Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren't funded by taxpayers.

BARTLET: Well, at least they are now. Kind of reminds you of the time Bush said that Social Security wasn't a government program. He was only off by a little — Social Security is the largest government program.

OBAMA: I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.

BARTLET: Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.

OBAMA: Which was?

BARTLET: A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.



OBAMA: I mean, how did you overcome that?

BARTLET: I won't lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.

OBAMA: What do you mean?

BARTLET: I'm a fictional president. You're dreaming right now, Senator.

OBAMA: I'm asleep?

BARTLET: Yes, and you're losing a ton of white women.

OBAMA: Yes, sir.

BARTLET: I mean tons.

OBAMA: I understand.

BARTLET: I didn't even think there were that many white women.

OBAMA: I see the numbers, sir. What do they want from me?

BARTLET: I've been married to a white woman for 40 years, and I still don't know what she wants from me.

OBAMA: How did you do it?

BARTLET: Well, I say I'm sorry a lot.

OBAMA: I don't mean your marriage, sir. I mean how did you get America on your side?BARTLET: There again, I didn't have to be president of America, I just had to be president of the people who watched "The West Wing."

OBAMA: That would make it easier.

BARTLET: You'd do very well on NBC. Thursday nights in the old "ER" time slot with "30 Rock" as your lead-in, you'd get seven, seven-five in the demo with a 20, 22 share — you'd be selling $450,000 minutes.OBAMA: What the hell does that mean?

BARTLET: TV talk. I thought you'd be interested.

OBAMA: I'm not. They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I'm — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?

BARTLET: Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn't extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words, then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.

OBAMA: You're saying race doesn't have anything to do with it?

BARTLET: I wouldn't go that far. Brains made me look arrogant, but they make you look uppity. Plus, if you had a black daughter —

OBAMA: I have two.

BARTLET: — who was 17 and pregnant and unmarried and the father was a teenager hoping to launch a rap career with "Thug Life" inked across his chest, you'd come in fifth behind Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and a ficus.

OBAMA: You're not cheering me up.

BARTLET: Is that what you came here for?

OBAMA: No, but it wouldn't kill you.

BARTLET: Have you tried doing a two-hour special or a really good Christmas show?

OBAMA: Sir —

BARTLET: Hang on. Home run. Right here. Is there any chance you could get Michelle pregnant before the fall sweeps?

OBAMA: The problem is we can't appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET: Well ... let me think ... We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family's less safe than it was eight years ago, we've lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I'm a little angry.

OBAMA: What would you do?

BARTLET: GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that's what they are. Sarah Palin didn't say "thanks but no thanks" to the "Bridge to Nowhere." She just said "Thanks." You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist?And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I'd ask them what their problem is with excellence.While you're at it, I want the word "patriot" back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn't know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can't do both at the same time and call it patriotic.They have to lie — the truth isn't their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they've earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It's not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense, too? It's not bad enough she's forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction, too? It's not enough that a woman shouldn't have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist's baby, too? I don't know whether or not Gov. Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she's got the qualifications of one. And you're worried about seeming angry?You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

OBAMA: Good to get that off your chest?

BARTLET: Am I keeping you from something?

OBAMA: Well, it's not as if I didn't know all of that, and it took you, like, 20 minutes to say.

BARTLET: I know, I have a problem, but admitting it is the first step.

OBAMA: What's the second step?

BARTLET: I don't care.

OBAMA: So what about hope? Chuck it for outrage and put-downs?

BARTLET: No. You're elite, you can do both. Four weeks ago, you had the best week of your campaign, followed — granted, inexplicably — by the worst week of your campaign. And you're still in a statistical dead heat. You're a 47-year-old black man with a foreign-sounding name who went to Harvard and thinks devotion to your country and lapel pins aren't the same thing and you're in a statistical tie with a war hero and a Cinemax heroine. To these aged eyes, Senator, that's what progress looks like. You guys got four debates. Get out of my house and go back to work.

OBAMA: Wait, what is it you always used to say? When you hit a bump on the show and your people were down and frustrated? You'd give them a pep talk and then you'd always end it with something. What was it?

BARTLET: "Break's over."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Since I Still Don't Have Enough Blogs

I started a new one called Padded Folding Chair.

Being here in Alaska, 280 miles from the nearest Mormon congregation, has given me some new reflections on what it is exactly about this odd religion of mine that keeps me coming back. And with Sam Mcgee is Dead nearing its retirement, there will soon be a void that Padded Folding Chair will need to fill. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Are You a Bad Person?

For those of you who have heard that "the verdict is still out on science", get with the times! Science can do it all! All that we've figured out, at least.

You might be suspicious ever since you took that online IQ test and it told you that you're not a super genius after all. Or maybe that made you a believer. Either way, those 90 lb. weaklings in lab coats with their clipboards and computers and big words have devised yet another way to reduce you to a number, category, color, or some other thing besides a human with um, lots of potential.
Sorry, can I start over? I actually think this test is really nifty, and it has at least taught me that maybe I don't know myself as well as I think.

This was all about three years ago, of course, when I used it for a senior project and here I am finally blogging about it.

This is amazing! I have made managed to write four paragraphs without really explaining anything. That's good though; the less you know about this thing, the better it works (I'm serious). Just please make sure you read the disclaimer first.

And yes, for you skeptics out there, this was developed at Harvard (yes, THE Harvard) which automatically makes it credible. Er, that's right, isn't it? (Just don't ever let them do a hernia repair on you though. Yeesh.)

Click on the thingy and you're ready to roll...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When I Think of Love as Something New

Hey, remember the good old days when we jumped in the water? Summers were warmer then and there were no bugs. We didn't ever feel tired or if we did then it was the good kind of tired that went with sunsets and campfires. When nighttime came, it didn't even get cold.

Why can't we live in the moment anymore? Well, don't worry. It turns out we never could.

"Experiencing" is something that happens just after our brains process the event we experience, almost like we are recalling from our memory before we've even "seen" it before.

And the only difference between a true memory and a false memory is that one actually happened and the other never did, at least not how we remember it. (Guess which one is which.)

And if that wasn't enough, every time you recall an event it changes it a little. The things that you haven't thought about once are in pristine condition but the things that you have replayed over and over have either gotten better or worse every time (but you can bet they don't stay the same).

So just remember that photos don't really capture anything. They're just a tool to help you make your memories happier and happier as the years pass by at dizzying speeds.

Don't mourn those experiences either; F. Scott Fitzgerald says they're even better after you lose them.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Ganzfeld Procedure

What a weird thing this is.

I am so glad that this is not just in the movies, that this is being done periodically in different places across the country and around the modern world.