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Observations from the Microsoft Word spell-checker, chapter 2: Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Nations
Word likes Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. But it has issues with the Tuscaroras. That's what they get for joining the League of the Iroquois late, I guess.
I was listening to Triple J today and the DJ mentioned that you could read a bunch of diaries about the World Trade Center tragedy on Blogger. But they spelled the address wrong. So there will be a whole bunch of Aussies going to "" and wondering what's going on.
Shrimp really aren't very exciting. They taste vaguely ocean-ish, but other than that, eh. Maybe if they were warm, they might taste better. But probably not much better.


I feel unusually awake and alert today. In theory I should be taking advantage of that to get work done.

Last night was a good night. News got done at 2:30 (!). I was out of the office and in bed by 4:15. The paper wasn't quite done at that point, but I trusted Ryan to finish the Editorial on his own. For most of the last hour I was just checking blogs and Brunching.

And then I didn't have to wake up until 10 (so I could go interview Prof. Kerber for my anthropology project). I normally have an early class on Fridays, which means I only get a couple hours of sleep. But this week we had our first test. So I explained my sleep situation to Prof. Elgie, and he allowed me to move the test to Thursday so I could take it on more than 2 hours of sleep.

And then I got something like 3 hours of sleep Wednesday into Thursday. It just hit me at that point that I had more work than I knew what to do with. Either way, I don't think it really affected my test performance. The questions I didn't know were things that weren't in my notes, so being more rested and better studied wouldn't have helped.

This is all terribly unprofound. I'll just stop now.


Amanda has thrown off the shackles of GeoCities. Huzzah!

(I'll write a long post eventually. Really, I will.)
I would never have guessed there would be so many people searching Google for "debitage".


Marty says: "I am not the shiggity-shiznit. You guys are the shiggity-shiznit. I am but a vessel, an instrument for the shiggity-shiznit. I serve the shiggity-shiznit."
I don't know who put The Maroon-News on's mailing list. But they allowed us to get this gem in the latest commentary they sent us:

"Other civilians in enemy states are passive, unthinking followers. Their
work and economic production, however meager, supports their terrorist
governments and so they are in part responsible for the continued power of
our aggressors. They too are not innocent--and their deaths may be
unavoidable in order for America to defend itself. "

Osama bin Laden couldn't have said it better himself. He'd probably have said it in Arabic, though. Good thing we have the folks at to translate.


For Dave, something that I saw in the "recently updated blogs" list:
Your Mom
This week, University Church and Colgate Christian Fellowship are sponsoring a collection to raise money for the Red Cross. I have the honor of sitting at the Coop table from 11:20-1:10 today. So come by and give us money.


Arafat-Sharon Peace Talks Postponed
Because of course Yasser Arafat has complete control over every single Palestinian terrorist, and they'll stop if he asks nicely. Demanding absolute calm for 48 hours before talks begin is essentially giving veto power over the peace process to any hard-line anti-peace group (or individual). Now, while the whole world is rushing to assert their opposition to terrorism, is probably the best chance we'll have for the Palestinians and the Israelis to make an agreement and stick to it. But Sharon may blow his chance by ditching the talks on a technicality.
My parents' reaction to the Family Weekend field show:
Mom: "Why did you make a 'D' on the field?"
Me: "We did 'M, +, D,' for 'mom, and, dad.'"
Dad: "Oh, that was a D? I saw the M, but then I thought 'that O looks really crooked.'"


It seems like every time I think I'm going to get on track with getting work done, something happens to prevent it. First Barbara came to visit (and though it may sound like I'm complaining about this, I'm really not). Then there was September 11. Then my computer got the Nimda virus (which I've noticed has cleared by record of visited websites, so all links turned the unvisited color and I wasn't pre-logged in to Blogger). And now I've got an infected wisdom tooth.

Last night I went to the Woods Tea Co. concert, feeling fine tooth-wise, though I was very tired from only getting two hours of sleep the previous night. The concert was great. They really seemed to appreciate being able to play at Colgate -- we're one of their favorite audiences, and they really needed the boost after the last couple weeks. They played nearly all their best songs -- "Alberta Bound," "Jenny Glenn," "The Scotsman's Kilt," "Gin Ye Marry Me," "The Old Dun Cow," "Finnegan's Wake," etc. They took a vote about playing "There Were Roses," in light of the recent tragedy, and it was unanimous in favor. And for once I never felt distracted at all thinking about what other songs they ought to play. I could just focus on the music, and admire Howard's bass (it's an upright, but it's missing that big violin-shaped resonating chamber, so it's just a stick with strings and a microphone), and watch Amanda bopping excessively in front of me.

Around intermission I could feel pain in my back right jaw. At the time, it felt like a cold sore, so I didn't think much of it.I sat through the whole show and 3 encores. They didn't play "Aaarrgh," the song they wrote especially for Colgate, but that's not such a big deal. "Aarrgh" isn't the same without Tom MacKenzie and his hammer dulcimer. By the end of the show, I had progressed to a full-blown toothache. At that point I wasn't in any mood to deal with it, as all I could think about was catching up on sleep before the football game today.

But I discovered I couldn't sleep. It took me three or four trips down to the kitchen for ice before I finally fell asleep. Marty and Dave were worried, because I was so angry and tired that I ignored everyone I saw on my trips downstairs. A few hours later, I woke up for the game.

By this morning the stabbing pain had changed to an ache in my entire right jaw. I went to practice and marched, but didn't play. I came home after practice and slept instead of eating lunch or going to tailgate. Then I went to the football game, where I managed to play about half the songs in the stands and all of the field show. It turned out that playing produced some sort of soothing vibration to counteract how much it ought to have hurt with my tooth like it was.

After the game, I met up with my parents (who were up for Parents' Weekend) and went over to the hospital. They took an hour and a half to determine that I needed a dentist, which I would have to go to Utica to find. So we headed off to St. Luke's Hospital in Utica. Eventually their emergency room dentist showed up. I had an infection around one of my wisdom teeth that was filling my cheek with pus. So she cut it open and squeezed the pus out. By the time she was done, I was shivering from stress and not having eaten in 12 hours. So we went to Friendly's and I tried to eat soup and grilled cheese with gauze in my mouth. We made a wrong turn going to get back on 12B, but it landed us at a drugstore that was 10 minutes from closing (when we hadn't thought we'd ever find a pharmacy taht was still open. There were a number of lucky breaks in this whole process, most notably my parents being here, with the car, on just the right day. Maybe God wanted to make sure I'd be able to go to the deacons' ordination tomorrow morning at church. Of course, though Nan seems to think that the ordination is a huge deal, I look at it as just a formality. I didn't serve any differently this past month due to being not ordained yet.

Anyway, I now have bottles of Ibuprofen and antibiotics on my desk, and I need to make an appointment to get my wisdom tooth out (in Utica again) in the next few weeks.


I have been asked to blog the resolution made at lunch today by Amanda and Liz. In an attept to outdo my experience with a glass of ranch dressing and Jay Barr's experience with a cup of salsa, they intend to consume a cup of rosemary.

My hair is much too long right now. I keep meaning to get it cut, but I always have some sort of commitment or work that needs to get done that precludes me from walking downtown. At least we're now able to disprove Gulnar's hypothesis that if I let my hair get longer I would acquire a girlfriend. The idea made little sense, as my appearance is sub-par to begin with and certainly not improved by hair that's too long for the hairstyle that I have maintained for the past 10 years. And the fact that her husband sported a buzz cut casts some doubt on Gulnar's judgement in such matters. But we now have scientific proof. In the interest of making some use of my Quantitative Methods class, I can point out that this was a "single group interrupted time series" research design.
I feel like I've reached a new plane of enlightenment or something. Today I got a photo credit in The Maroon-News.

The photo is for Marty's article on the Nimda virus. He realised at 2 a.m. that the picture he had for the article was of a Mac, which isn't affected by Nimda. So I ran home and took a picture of my computer running McAffee.

I could list off a lot of problems with the photo. If I had thought about how Marty was laying out the page, I would have taken the picture from the opposite angle, so that the monitor would face onto the page. If anyone in the house had been awake, I would have gotten them to sit at the computer, so that there would be a person in the photo instead of just a computer. I should have found a way to get set quicker so that I could snap the picture while the big McAffee startup screen was showing, so that you could tell what the computer was doing (as is it just looks like a bunch of windows open). But it's still a photo credit. Now the next step is to get a byline in Colgate Sports. Maybe the next time Fencing has a tournament...

Of course, I've taken photos for the M-N before, in the process of doing Campus Notebook. But there's never any sort of byline on Notebook. We haven't run it the past two weeks, and I'm not especially sad about that.


Rabi is wondering whether she qualifies as a patriot, and I'm thinking some of the same things. As much as I talk about Australia, and use their spellings, and praise their snack foods, I still think the US is the best country around. But at the same time, I would hesitate to call myself a patriot or say categorically that I love America. I think the problem is that America is too big a thing to reduce to a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down. For a long time I thought it was an issue of sorting out the pros and cons, and deciding which side came out heavier, though this calculation would be too complex to do in real life. But it's more than that.

There was a letter in The Maroon-News last week from a kid who said he was ashamed to be a Colgate student because of how some of his classmates reacted to last Tuesday's tragedy. I'm one of the people he was railing against, as I believe it's important to understand the circumstances that led to terrorist action against the US rather than turning the situation into an ideological battle of good versus evil. But I could understand the feeling he was experiencing when I heard the first reports of violence against American Arabs, Muslims, and people (like Sikhs) who look to the uneducated eye like Arabs or Muslims. I had known this would happen, but I hadn't wanted to believe it. It made me ashamed to be an American.

This is the problem with group identity. Your worth becomes dependent on the actions of others. But why should the hate felt by some people reflect on me just because we live on the same scrap of ground and pay our taxes to the same treasury? That's how bin Laden justified killing innocent people -- the actions of the American government reflected on all Americans. That's how racists justify hate crimes against innocent Arabs and Muslims -- bin Laden's actions reflect on all people whose ancestors come from the same region of the world or call God by the same name as he does. I've avoided expressing patriotism because I didn't want to be associated with the type of jingoism that has been coming from our leaders and the media. But now I realise there's a deeper issue with patriotism -- it lumps you in with a group identity.

I am an American, because I live within the territory named "the United States of America." But I am neither proud to be an American nor ashamed to be an American or any combination of the two. I am only proud or ashamed of my own actions and thoughts.


Microsoft Word's spell checker recognizes Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and Gorbachev, but not Brezhnev. I think we know who Bill Gates' least favorite Soviet leader was.
Wow. Something good has come of all the tragedy last week. Granted, it's just a strategic move that will fall through eventually like every other agreement they've made, but I plan on being happy about it while it lasts.
Dave doesn't have any comment system, so I'll talk about this here.

I'm hoping that post will turn out to be more venting than journalism. It sounds cheesy to say it, but I care about Experimental Theatre more than I care about any other activity that I'm not involved in. Heck, I might put Theatre before the One O'Clock Jazz Band (now held at 4:10), since nobody ever comes to listen to Jazz Band (well, Dave actually does, but considering his dislike of jazz I think it's mostly for moral support of Timmy and me). Experimental Theatre's performance ranks up there with the ECAC tournament at Lake Placid and Woods Tea in terms of things I look forward to each semester. So it worries me to hear that the group is faltering. Of course, it seems like every semester preliminary reports suggest that it's not going to come together, that the group is totally unprepared to perform. But it always works out, as far as we unenlightened audience members can tell. So maybe I shouldn't worry. Or maybe I should just worry about the Maroon-News and Pep Band and let Theatre sort itself out.

I felt like I had a lot more to say when I started writing this.


Gah. I've wasted several hours today trying to figure out what's wrong with Word on my computer, and why my computer keeps spontaneously sharing my entire hard drive and CD drive with the network. I called SOURCe, and all they told me to do was reinstall Word. I did, and now the problem is worse.


I never would have thought writing these fellowship proposals would be so hard. Even the personal statement, which should be easy. I just have to talk about why I'm interested in archaeology. I do best when I'm telling stories, but I have so many stories to pack in. I have to make them so pithy, and the connections have to be made so defined, that it takes away the naturalness of it. I'm writing maybe a sentence every ten minutes. And the quality isn't proportionately better for all the time I'm putting into it. I finished one of four and sent it off to the people writing my letters of recommendation, as well as to Judy Fischer in Career Services, expecting them to rip it apart. Everyone but Prof. Kerber just said "yeah, that sounds good." Where's Brad Heath? He was Executive Editor of The Maroon-News my freshman year and Editor-in-Chief the next year. Not too many people liked him very much as a person (I didn't have a problem with him, but I've learned I put up with people a lot better than most), but he was a great editor. He used to completely deconstruct my commentary every week, maing me nearly rewrite it. I feared Thursday nights because I knew Brad would read my latest bit of nonsense. I credit him with any commentary writing skill I may show. My writing is twenty times better now for having been put through the Brad Heath wringer (by which I mean my earliest commentaries really really sucked). That's the kind of editor I need now.

I need to get these things done. I'm a week behind the deadline I set myself. But I can't seem to put anything down that really means anything, that isn't unneccessarily vague or that doesn't descend into cliche. So I take too many breaks, to check email and look at blogs. Every day I tell myself I'm going to buckle down and stop wasting time like this, so that I can get my work done and have honest-to-goodness free time. But it just doesn't happen.
Mmm, felafel. I heartily approve of anything that comes with so many cucumbers. I just can't figure out whether felafel is a substance or a thing. Is that brown crunchy stuff "felafel" (similar to "water" or "low-fat mayonnaise"), or is each individual patty "a felafel" (like "a cookie" or "a boo chip")?
I'm in Moon-Pie's domain now. By which I mean I'm posting from Cooley Science Library. This place frightens me. The decor is really weird, and I don't know where anything is, and all the books and journals have titles I can't understand. I think I'll stick to nice safe familiar Case from now on. Darn Food Policy getting classified as a science journal...


I decided not to go to something I should have been at for the first time in a long time. Normally, I only refuse to attend something if it's physically impossible -- I have to be somewhere else at that exact time.

All day today, I was contemplating skipping fencing practice. I was so sore from yesterday that it hurt to walk down the stairs. But the whole time, I knew I would eventually go. And I did. I made it through wall sits, and footwork. Then we did the glove drill, wherein someone drops a glove and you have to lunge and grab it. In one of my first lunges, I landed crooked on my ankle and it began to hurt. Subsequent lunges became progressively more timid, as I avoided landing hard on my ankle. This, of course, led to failure at the drill, as the point of the drill is to get you to do fast all-out lunges. At the end of the drill, I decided that, between the pain and my inability to do the forms correctly due to the pain, practice would be rather useless. I still feel bad for skipping practice, since my "injury" didn't even require a visit to the health center. But then I wonder if that's just because I think I should be tough (even though my toughness won't impress anyone who comes to fencing, since they all know very well what a pathetic weakling I am).

As I got my sweatshirt, I mentioned to Kate that I had hurt my ankle. She lifted the leg of her shorts a bit to show me the huge bruise on her thigh from the tournament yesterday, and said gleefully "we can be injured together!" Then I told her I was going home because of it. She grabbed me by the shoulders and said "You are a smart man."
We just had a code-3 Zomberg alert. He called and asked, in a high squeaky voice, if his "pimp daddy" was there. Turns out he wanted to talk to Marty, who was luckily down in the kitchen. Then he started telling me he heard we had some "easy" clarinet players join the band this year. He said that just as I had IMed a cry for help to Amanda. Needless to say she was not pleased. I got off easy, though, as he seemed rather intent on talking to Marty, and hung up after a few minutes.


Lack of publishing make Homer something something...
Marty pointed me to this article, in which the man he insigntfully calls "Jerry 'I never learned to love' Falwell" blames the World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks on gays, feminists, pagans, and liberals. assures us that the comment was taken out of context. So I began searching the web to find a transcript of the 700 Club, the show on which Jerry's comments were made, to see what this mysterious context was. I didn't find it, as the 700 Club archives seem to take several days to be put online. But in the process I did learn that Pat Robertson has an age-defying protein shake recipe that he'd like to share with us.
Wall sits: to the kiosk with you!


For reasons I can't explain, I'm getting a huge kick out of using the word "Soviet" in my paper on the Aral Sea. I even go through the trouble of typing out "Soviet Union" instead of settling for "USSR."

Soviet Soviet Soviet. It's almost as cool as "Pleistocene."
I have this psychological need to be constantly taking on new projects. I always need to be amassing more work, more responsibility. I used to be more cautious about it. Freshman year I agonized over whether to commit myself to taking on my first experiment in web design, wondering if I'd have the time to invest in learning HTML (I also have this control-freak kind of pride that doesn't let me do things the easy way, e.g., FrontPage). I declined a nomination for a Pep Band office (which turned out to be my only chance, as going abroad killed my ability to serve the next term and ability to be nominated for the final term) because I was worried that my Maroon-News commitments would be too much. But then I felt like a slacker when, early on in the semester, being Assistant Commentary Editor became less of a time commitment than being a production assistant had the previous semester. Of course, that all changed when Jon Egan realised he could dump all the work of the section on me -- a development I was perfectly happy with.

This year, I'm well beyond those kind of reservations. When Nan asked me, in a voice that suggested she wasn't optimistic about my response, to be a Deacon in University Church, I was ready to start work before she even got done explaining my potential duties. I realised afterward that I could have easily said no, claiming too much other work and commitments (on top of the fact that I don't feel like I'm exactly one of the pillars of Christian faith in UC). I had the same kind of experience when Lisa Benton asked me to be her research assistant sophomore spring. Or when Andrea told me Keith Brooks was looking for help in getting the Prism put together. My busiest week sophomore year was the week that I chose to begin working on Lore 2000.

The reason I'm writing this now is because I just got an email from the Geography secretary saying that Michael Peletz (my anthropology seminar advisor) is looking for someone to help him with a mapping project. I jumped up and had the phone in my hand before I paused to think. I'm behind enough in the work I already have, so taking on more wouldn't really help the situation. He'd probably get better work out of someone who is either not so busy, or who has learned time management skills. But when I see him in class on Monday I'll probably still ask if he's found an assistant yet.
My brother just showed me George W Bush's livejournal. I get really tired of Bush humour that boils down to "hur hur, he's stupid." There's a huge difference between incisive humour poking at the specific foibles of the current administration on the one hand, and sticking the name G W Bush in front of the whining of a six-year-old who is, shall we say, not in the highest reading group. Maybe I'm being elitist about this, but it seems like a George W Bush livejournal could have been done with so much more subtlety.
I have more keys now. I've got my room, the Maroon-News office, the Maroon-News editors' room, the geography lab, the geography lounge, the outside door to Alumni, the inside doors to Alumni, and the archaeology lab. And today I picked up keys to Neva's office and the copier room in the Chapel. Once they finish the renovations and the Stewards get their own office back, I'll get a key to that room too.

I get this feeling of power from having all these keys. Sophomore year, when I got my second key (room and M-N) I remember jumping up and down so I could hear them rattling together in my pocket. That may have contributed in some small way to my shift from wearing jeans to looser khakis.

Mr. Plechavy, the chorus and stage crew advisor at my high school, must have felt like God with all his keys.


Oops, it seems the Phi Beta Kappa induction is the same day as the family weekend football game. It's not a hard choice, though. Band wins.
I should stop writing about the World Trade Center incident. I can never say the right thing. Whatever I say is either dishonest or gets people angry. Rule #1: don't alienate your readership.

But I can't exactly write about anything else. When you've had a tragedy of this magnitude, no other problem can have any claim to attention, and no happiness can pretend not to be overshadowed.
This post is just to try to make the last post publish.
I'm not feeling anything. Not numbness, or even shock. Just honestly nothing.

Well, that's not even precisely true anymore. I'm feeling bad because I didn't feel anything. I'm frustrated because life got disrupted and the mountain of work next to my computer hasn't been getting any shorter, and angry at myself for worrying about a petty thing like that. "You moron, tens of thousands of people died and you don't care."

I feel like I should cry, and be so distressed I can't concentrate on anything, and go to the meetings on campus looking for solace but unable to find it because no amount of discussion can bring people back to life. I don't mean in the sense that I have grief and rage inside that I need to let out. I feel like I should manufacture grief, find some way to force myself to be sad, just to prove I'm human.

I don't want revenge. I want to prevent things like this from happening again, but that's only in an intellectual sense. I don't want to get back at the people who did this. If we could prevent terrorism but leave the perpetrators of this act unscathed, I'd be all for it. Justice for justice's sake is meaningless to me.

And I feel bad because I'm not bothered by the loss of the New York skyline. I can understand how the lives of the people involved and the functioning of the world economy are important, but the fact that there's sky where there used to be skyscrapers isn't important to me. Granted, I've only been to New York city twice in my life, and I never did the usual tourity things there, but I'm still an American.

Before this, I would have considered this kind of emotional distance a virtue. I would have said that it's good to be able to keep your emotions, particularly bad ones, from getting the best of you. I would have said it's good to be able to look at a situation rationally. But I'm not so sure anymore. To everyone but me, "I feel your pain" isn't a cliche anymore.

Everyone else is writing about sadness and rage and horror. They're swearing more than usual. They're saying they can't understand. They want to kill Osama bin Laden, then bring him back to life and kill him again. They feel vulnerable, and fearful. And I sit here and point out stupid things that news anchors did.

Maybe there's some complex psychological reason for this. But I'm probably just a cold, selfish bastard.


It's pretty clear at this point that we're going to war with Afghanistan.
A few more anecdotes from the morning's news coverage:

An anchor on NBC (I forget who) said "this is the worst attack on American soil since the War of 1812. Or what we did to ourselves in the Civil War. ... Oh, and Pearl Harbor."

A reporter in the field for CNN at about a quarter to 12 said "...the attack which happened just four hours ago," at which point the cameraman's hand appeared on screen with three fingers up. "I mean, three hours ago."

An NBC field reporter spent five minutes conveying the fact that there was a bomb suspected to be in the school he was standing next to, and therefore he ought to leave right away.
I won't explain what just happened, because if you haven't been watching the news you're a bad person, and I won't have any respect for you until you at the very least click over to the Post for a while.

Marty woke up as I was playing a clip of Bush's speech in Florida. He thought it was some doctored clip someone made as a joke.

One of NBC's less over-repeated clips was a ground-level shot of the first tower falling. The camera was close enough that there was nobody in the street anymore. But in the foreground, there was a traffic light, going about its business. I'm sure you can come up with your own symbolism for that.

NBC really wanted to pin it on Osama bin Laden. They even put his picture up on the screen, without any kind of blurb saying "his involvement is pure conjecture." Granted, he is the most likely suspect, and none of the news organizations have come out and claimed he must be behind it, but in dwelling on him as a possible suspect they're pronouncing him guilty in the minds of a lot of people.

It seems like the obvious thing to write my commentary on this week. But what could I say? That it's horrible? That's obvious. If my political beliefs were completely opposite I would call for a full-scale invasion of Afghanistan (or at the very least hitting it with our entire nuclear arsenal). But I'm not Jeff Martin.


Much unplanned weirdness tonight.

I returned home from the University Church Deacons and Stewards meeting around 9 and began to do the dishes. Dave came into the kitchen and told me to wash the frying pan with feeling. He selected "remorse" as the feeling I should use. Then he told me that the fact that I had a paper that said "ABRAHAM" taped to my chest was one of the weirdest things he'd ever seen. I explained that we had done this icebreaker where everyone has the name of a famous Bible person on their back, and you have to find out who your person is by asking yes/no questions. You could move it around to the front once you guessed. I confused Elisha because I had narrowed mine down to a man in Genesis, so I asked "Did he live before Abraham?" She answered, "well ... during." Dave said that was even weirder.

My facial expression during this conversation deeply frightened Dave, because he said it was exactly the kind of expression Amanda would make. He started backing away from me, holding his fingers like a cross and saying "avert your eyes! He may change forms!"

I discussed the issue with Mikey and April-Lyn, and we came to the conclusion that, while April-Lyn was Amanda's twin and Kate-o was Amanda's clone, I must be Amanda's doppleganger.

I then discussed the issue with Marty. He expressed concern that there was a turning-into-Amanda epidemic on the loose. We decided we may have to quarrantine all infected persons. We would need to be especially careful because one of Amandaa's roommates is little Moon-Pie. The consequences of combining the Amanda Virus with the Wolyniak budding capability could be disastrous. Then we would have to create an Amanda serum (extract of Amanda, if you will) to use as a vaccine.

So I went up to the fifth floor of East to deliver the Whitlams CD I had earlier promised to loan to Amanda and Maggie, who I have corrupted into Whitlams fans (which only reinforces Maggie's reported obsession with going to Australia). Shortly after I arrived, half a dozen people arrived to watch The Emperor's New Groove. I had no choice but to stay and endure its Disney-ness. In its defense, I can say that it made no attempt to inject a romantic subplot -- quite a feat in a movie of the non-messed-up persuasion. It was very frightening being in a dark room with six people who were not only reciting lines from the movie, but also imitating the characters' hand motions. And I learned that Amanda had been feeding me ENG lines all day, as every other word out of their mouths made me think "hey, Amanda said that today!"

Amanda and Maggie continued to hold me hostage after the movie ended and the others departed. They offered to let Marty ransom me for $20, but he decided he'd rather have a single. Then they decided to let me buy my freedom by helping to re-hang the tapestry in their stairwell. Amanda wound up doing most of the work, as getting up to the tapestry involved standing on the plaque that has their room number beside the door. I just fetched adhesive.
Grape-a-don says ... SORORITIES CAN SUCK THE D.

(By which I mean they're now in the Kiosk, for the offense of cruising up and down Broad Street yelling and blaring their horns.)
Today Nan's sermon dealt with the idea of religion's superiority over secular ethics. She's talked about this theme before, and while I generally like Nan's preaching, her treatment of this issue really bothers me. Her point is basically that secular humanism has never come up with any morality on its own -- it just stole the ethics of the Judeo-Christian tradition and removed any references to God. She basically said that humanism has no basis on which to create morality because it doesn't have God to hand out the rules.

But I see the issue from the opposite side. I think a morality derived from humanist principles and based on human reason is a very real possibility. In fact, it seems that the modern liberal tradition has been driven by secular philosophy, with religion following after in finding its justification for similar principles. This is not a bad thing from a religious perspective -- looking at things from a different perspective can discover new ideas that can either be reconciled with the original perspective better than older ideas, or just stimulate further thought from the original perspective. To me, for example, a liberal political stance seems to fit the principles of Christianity better than the conservatism usually associated with the religion.

And there's no need to reinvent the wheel in ethics. I think the fact that humanist perspectives have retained much of the Judeo-Christian moral system as evidence not of humanism's failure to come up with any new ideas, but rather of the strength of those morals that both systems agree on. A good ethical system is not arbitrary, so it must be able to be derived from a source other than simply divine revelation. An arbitrary ethical system is limiting and disempowering, because it leaves you stranded when new situations emerge. I think a central theme of the New Testament is that we're not passively accepting God's decrees without knowing why, but rather that we are to be actively working with God to discover how we should act. And this process isn't carried out through some special capacity for ethical reasoning that only Christians have access to.

I think the best moral code is one that would leave you with no regrets if God turns out to exist, and none if He doesn't.
I'm disappointed in the Washington Post's cartoonists. At the moment there are three cartoons (Bok - Luckovich - Sargent) linked on the editorial page that compare Janet Reno's candidacy for Florida Governor to the recent shark attack scare. Try to be a bit more creative, guys.


I think I've posted more today than I have all week. But I have another observation to make. Marty and Jesse were just here. Marty told me "I'm going to do something immoral and illegal, so I want you to do like this." Then he put his hands over his eyes. I did likewise. There was some rattling, and then Marty and Jesse were gone.
Today's lesson: never trust MS Word's grammar checker. I'm writing my Watson/Fulbright personal statement, and I typed the (admittedly cheesy) line "I will have time enough to dig into Native American heritage and its meaning ..." "its" got the little green squiggle that indicates a grammar mistake. Word told me I should change it to "it's." So we would have an incorrect homonym, a nonsensical sentence ("... heritage and it is meaning ..."?), and a shift in tense ("will ... is"). Excellent.
My friend Kara's away message reminded me that this weekend is "the festival," aka the Palmerton Community Festival, formerly known as the Hospital Festival (because it was sponsored by the Hospital Auxiliary). So life in Palmerton does go on without me. I tend to think of Palmerton as being static, mostly because whenever I ask my family or a friend still living there what's going on in twon, they tell me nothing has changed.

I suppose the festival doesn't exactly count as a change. It's held every year. The stands are basically the same -- Belgian waffles from the Lions Club, pizza by the West End Fire Company, Chinese auction sponsored by Pool Pals, strawberry shortcake from the Hospital Auxiliary, and so on. The stands and tents are always in the same places. The Boy Scouts are always on garbage detail, carting around garbage barrels full of paper cups soaked with vinegar from Smitty's fries or pierogies. Jimmy Sturr and Tommy Schaffer and the Blue Mountain Ramblers are always the headlining acts.

But it's something happening. It's part of the year-to-year routine, but it shakes the community out of its week-to-week and day-to-day routine. Even if Palmerton doesn't seem to change much in the long run, it's not static. Buy a sausage sandwich today, and in a week some Scout will pick the wrapper up off the flattened patch of grass where the sausage stand used to be.
I'm going to tentatively say that dotcomments are working now.
OK, the comments are totally stuffed right now because I'm trying to re-upload the files and affari's ftp is being stupid.
OK, no more parse errors. Now it's warning me that the supplied arguments are not valid file-handle resources. Gah.
If anyone can tell me why trying to post a comment on dotcomments gives a "parse error," let me know. (email or AIM).
I woke up sweaty this morning, because it's much warmer at noon than it is at 3 a.m. Too warm for sleeping. I think that's part of why I feel so cruddy after I take a nap during the day, and why I can't sleep very long during the day even after an all-nighter. It worked out fine this morning, as I woke up at exactly the right time to make it to fencing. We had more newbies there than old people. So today was all footwork. I think it was the hardest workout at a fencing practice yet. The whole time was footwork. Matt and Kristin were the only two who even got out swords. My left toe is very sore, because in my stance I never put much weight on my back heel. The newbies are all doing very well, though.

When I left, it was still warm. But I could see some red in the maple trees along Broad Street, and somebody was burning something somewhere. I'm trying really hard not to sound cheesy here, but I like fall a lot. I think that's my biggest regret about going to Australia when I did -- not missing the presidential election (though they were kind enough to hold off on finishing it until I returned), or not being able to take the field archaeology course, but missing fall. There were a lot of days when, walking to Uni, the humidity and temperature would be just right, and if I was thinking about something else the bits of eucalyptus bark laying around, and I'd be fooled. So I'd look up, expecting to see red-leaved maples and brown-leaved oaks and a few yellow leaves left on some birches and willows. But instead, there would just be bright green eucalyptus leaves, and I'd remember that there was only going to be more growth as we go into summer. Australians don't even have the name "fall" for the season between summer and winter, because their trees never lose their leaves. It was depressing. But I kept looking up, as if there were some part of my brain convinced that if I just kept trying someday it would be fall.

So now I have to make up for that fall I missed. We're off to a good start.

The comment links may be broken at the moment, as I'm in the process of installing remotely hosted dotcomments.


I don't think I've mentioned this here before, but I'm in the process of reading the entire Bible. I've been going along at a pace of about a book a week, which brings me to Jonah this week. It's been interesting at times to get a perspective on the entire work, instead of just hearing the highlights in church.

The biggest surprise has been the Old Testament prophets. I had been under the impression from the New Testament that they mostly talked about the coming of the Messiah. But in reality it's page after page about how God is going to lay the smackdown on Israel and Judah for their sinful ways, and send them into exile in Babylon for a while. The Messiah stuf has to be in there somewhere, because people were expecting a Messiah when Jesus showed up. But it's buried under the dissertations on how God's wrath will soon fall on his people.

This leads me to my next observation: If I were God's editor, I'd send Him back to do a rewrite. I already mentioned the redundancy of harping on how God is going to destroy Israel and Judah (but then never giving a full account of the actual exile, so as to be able to compare and see how well the prophecies were fulfilled). And I don't get why we need Samuel-Kings and Chronicles, since they tell the same story (albeit with different versions of how Saul died) without really adding much in the way of unique detail or perspective from one to the other. In fact, they mostly refer us for the interesting stuff to other books, which, according to the footnotes, have been lost for good. At this point I'm pretty well convinced that the Biblical infallibility proposition is wrong. This is not to say that I don't think there's a lot of merit to the Bible and what it says about humanity. I just think that assuming that the Bible is either perfect or complete, or accepting things solely on the authority of the Bible is dangerous.
The only significant foreign nation that shows up in my SiteMeter reports is Hungary. I find this odd.


I just had a really stupid moment. I was looking at the list of blogs in my Favorites, so that I could visit my own and see if anyone had left comments. But I couldn't remember which blog was mine, or where it was on the list. So I clicked on Amanda's so I wouldn't feel like such a moron, holding my Favorites menu open while I tried to remember the title of my blog. I did remember eventually, though.


Jesse is my hero. Large, functional monitors on upgraded computers ... it's like a magical chocolate-coated fantasy world. Now if only we could install extra RAM in some of our writers.
Today I had lunch with Howard Fineman, an Editor of Newsweek and Colgate alumnus. He came back to give a talk (which I also attended) on the Watson Fellowship, but Judy Fischer (the woman at Career Services who organized his trip) invited people from The Maroon-News and the Washington DC study group to come to lunch at the President's house (which means I've now met Jane Pinchin and therefore have no need to skip band practice for the AMS dinner with her).

What struck me was how well everyone else there knew what was going on. They were all up on the personalities and politics of Washington and the media (print, radio, and TV). They asked him insightful questions that I wouldn't begin to have the background information to ask. I get self-righteous sometimes about the "Colgate bubble" and how people here don't know what's happening in the world, but I really have no right to talk. I'm lucky if I can get through the Nation and Opinion sections of the Washington Post every day. I don't think I've ever really watched CNN.

And these people had opinions about all these things. This may sound bizarre coming from someone who was Commentary Editor for two years and still writes a weekly political column, but I really don't have strong opinions. There have only been a handful of commentaries -- the Gay Boy Scouts one from last year and this year's stem cell piece -- that I really had clear pre-existing opinions on. Usually I identify an issue, then try to figure out which side I can argue (which has led me into some really bad devil's advocate commentaries). I fully expect to read back over my old commentaries in a few years and toss them one by one into the circular file.

This all leads me to ask why I'm The Maroon-News' most consistent political commentator. At a place like Colgate, my columns ought to be the first to get cut for space or quality. The only problem is, all the better potential commentaries never actually get written. This isn't me complaining about how we don't have good writers. My point is that I got a good dose of reality today.


The good news (for me, at least): I'm now webmaster of the Geography department homepage, along with Dana Farrill. As if I didn't have enough random web stuff to do. I haven't even checked the Brunching UBB in three days, and I don't expect to check it before this weekend (although luckily I'm not an admin there anymore, so that doesn't matter). I also somehow wound up co-president of GTU, but that's not a big deal. Mmmm, new webpage to play with ... I'm just concerned they'll make up keep doing it in FrontPage. Notepad r00lz!

The bad news (for all of us): The two remaining members of Splashdown, who were forming a new band, broke up. They better start up Freezepop-caliber solo projects. Although after they let people download Blueshift for free, I don't think I really have the right to make demands.


And now a brief thing you will want to read (more so than my anthropology ramblings, anyway): I met Amanda's clone today. We were just sitting there at lunch, and they started simul-quoting The Emperor's New Groove (which they've also threatened to make me watch with them). Then Amanda started teaching her clone to sing "Final Countdown." I need to quickly discover the clone's weakness (Amanda's, incidentally, is fake ghetto-speak), so that we can create a situation of Mutually Assured Annoyance. I've already drafted a treaty banning irritation defense systems (aka earplugs). The treaty may be of questionable validity, however, if Amanda breaks up into 15 independent nations.
You probably won't want to read this. I'm just griping about an anthropological theory issue.

I'm reading Bruce Knauft's Genealogies for the Present, a history of recent anthropological thought, for my seminar. Knauft is arguing for what he calls a "critical humanist" perspective for understanding cultures. He wants to balance cultural relativism, which in its extreme form can lead to uncritical acceptance of whatever otehrs are doing, with cultural critique, which in its extreme form leads to judgmental ethnocentrism. So far, so good. But he describes cultural critique as being specifically the exposing of inequality and domination. Setting aside the obvious leftist political implications of using that terminology, I think singling out inequality as the way in which cultures can be critiqued is too narrow and too biased. It assumes that inequality is the fundamental problem worth criticizing (which conveniently fits into the longstanding postmodernist-leftist tradition of decrying Western colonial hegemonic domination). And it presupposes the answer to the age-old philosophical debate over the relative merits of equality versus freedom.

I would instead propose what I call (though I'm sure I'll discover this theory being argued elsewhere under a different name) utilitarian anthropology. Under this theory critique would not be limited to those problems that manifest themselves in inequality, freeing us from the assumption that inequality is necessarily fundamental in any moral or structural sense. Instead, culture would be held up to the mirror of utility (the most net happiness/benefit/satisfaction, or the least net unhappiness/burden/dissatisfaction for the most people for the longest time), and critique would be applied in those instances where cultural forms generate unhappiness or restrict happiness.

Utilitarian anthropolology would also remain true to the spirit in which cultural relativism and ethnography were conceived -- of letting the people being studied speak for themselves. Examinations of inequality are prone to outside judgments of what is and isn't equal, particularly given the Marxist conception of culture as a force mystifying domination and preventing the people in the situation from seeing what's "really" going on. But happiness, benefit, and satisfaction are subjective judgments that can only be made by the people involved. By listening to the people being studied, a utilitarian critique will critique culture by the standards of the people in it, much as cultural relativism endeavours to praise culture by the standards of those in it.
Urgh... I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't have eaten quite so many chicken wings last night. But we did finish off Jane Pinchin, Buddy, and Neil Grabois. Now we only have 12 left. If anyone's hungry, Langdon and Ebeneezer Dodge are waiting.


What does everyone think of my new desktop?
The cuts on my feet from Lake Cayuga's zebra mussels have long since healed, so I shall now do Amanda a favor and put RealPlayer in the Kiosk. I haven't actually shared the RealPlayer difficulties that have caused Amanda to raise the subject, but I have a long-standing hatred for RealPlayer and its stupid .rm files, and no other particular irritations at the moment.

Barbara is alseep on my floor right now. This is good in that I don't feel so bad about doing school work that I unfortunately have to get done today while she's here. But it's bad in that she'll be less inclined to go to bed early, and I will therefore be obligated to be a good host and stay up and be social, as I don't know when I'll wind up seeing her next (we've talked about the possibility of going Beth-hunting in Boston over fall break, but the Princeton football game that Saturday may kill those plans).
Dave just found another mysterious sign lying by the library.It's got a picture of a guy with a sword standing on two skulls, and the letters ABH AMH below him. The text of the sign says:

You Fuck'n Bet They're Delivered!

Well, they at least managed to use the correct "they're/their/there."
I learned today that the communion "wine" we have in University Church is actually grape juice. Which means I still haven't had any alcohol since turning 21.
1) Last night was round two of the Boot Game. The Boot Game, first played in the third floor lounge of Read my sophomore year, involved throwing Dave's boots and trying to get them to land standing up on two cinder blocks. Dave beat me in the first round 11-9 (he technically won at 10, but he decided to throw the second boot just for the heck of it, and wound up with a double booting).

We didn't have cinder blocks this time, but we did have two old broken computers that had mysteriously appeared in our laundry room. We decided that since they were broken already, it wouldn't hurt to throw boots at them. In the first game of the night, Dave beat me 4.5-2 (his last 2 points came on a double boot, which is an automatic win). Then Barbara beat Amanda 5-1. In the loser's bracket, I shut Amanda out 5-0 for third place. Then Dave squeaked out a 5-4 win over Barbara to retain his Boot Game champion crown. Then Amanda, Barbara, and I decided to play a three-person round with our off hands (left for me and Barbara, right for Amanda). I won, but Amanda managed to score four points and have the lead most of the game. Maybe she secretly really is right handed.

Afterward we went to my computer to test out a disk that Marty had found in one of the computers. I am seriously not making this up -- the disk contained the program file COMMAND.COM, which means that it was a boot disk.

2) Yesterday, walking past the library I found a paper sign laying on thr ground. The background was a very digitized picture that looked like it came from an illustration of the Black Plague, showing a man and a skeleton toasting. The text of the sign said:

A: Have a cigarette delivered right to your door!!

If anyone can explain that, let me know.

3) I am so out of shape. I should have known this based on how out of breath I was from chasing Amanda for one lap around the hockey rink. But I went and played a long game of midnight ultimate frisbee on Friday anyway. When I woke up yesterday I felt fine, so I headed off to fencing practice. At fencing we did lots of footwork, and two rounds of wall sits. I think one of the circles of Hell that Dante missed was people doing wall sits. So now this morning I am extremely sore, to thr point that I am really not looking forward to having to walk up the hill to church once I finish this post.


If you ever buy cups that come in a big stack, watch out. That's how the reproduce. Orgy in Aisle 7!

Also, Jesse appears to have a blog.