Happy Halloween

Here’s the full-on Crown Royal costume in all its glory.

Mom's Crown Royal

I drilled two tiny holes through a Crown Royal cap to make her crown. Two leg-holes in the classic Crown Royal bag (1.75 liter) and voila — instant costume.

Dad's Crown Royal

I feel I should clarify that Crown Royal is no particular favorite of mine. I mean it’s all right, but I don’t go out of my way for it. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a bottle until now, when I thought this would be a cute look for her first Hallowe’en.

Of course she’s too young to go door-to-door but we did get a handful of neighbor kids as usual. Here’s Darth Vader and Betsy Ross.

Trick or Treat

We handed out Ring Pops because we knew we won’t be tempted to eat any leftovers. But Xy got the jones and sent me to Rite-Aid for some chocolate. We listened to a passel of covers of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”; for real late-night spookery we turned to The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud. Man, that’s some creepy music.

Why Halloween Sucks

Why do I hate Hallowe’en? It’s because of the Electronic Light-up Scary Yo-yo from Gealex Toys. It’s because of the Ma & Pa Bones Permaplastic Glow-in-the-Dark Skeletons. It’s because of the Sound-Activated Pumpkin Novelty from Hallmark: “It Lights Up — It Laughs!”

It’s because of the Spooky Vampire: “Light-sensor activated! Lifelike animation! Talks in a spooky voice!” Wave your hand and the plastic vampire’s eyes light up. He opens a coffin, revealing a plastic skeleton. Its eyes are blinking on and off. “Welllllllcome…” A tinny voice emanates from a hidden speaker. “We’ve been waiting for you!” Demoniacal laughter. A crash of organ chords.

That’s why I hate Hallowe’en.

Shopping at the grocery store, I immediately notice the salad bar, decked out in seasonal display. Stuffed dolls sit on all four corners: two witches, a scarecrow, a pumpkin-man. They’re made in China from “polyester and synthetic fibers.”

An inflatable ghost is suspended from the ceiling, half purple and half transparent, the word “Boo!” on its belly.

Anatomically correct skeletons swing from the orange-and-black crepe-paper entwined columns. Hanging inside the salad bar, white ghost-baggies with twist-tied necks trail ectoplasm over the lettuce. Plastic jack-o-lantern buckets contain bacon bits, croutons, napkins, and packets of House Italian Dressing (by Kraft).

The produce section is festooned with fifty-odd pumpkins. My wife swears she saw a Kroger employee commended by his superior for painting them all with happy, goofy faces. One pumpkin has a blue nose and is slobbering like a rabid idiot. Caught up in the wonder of it all, my wife puts her produce in the wrong cart. A ruckus ensues.

At the deli I spot a witch with googly eyes and flourescent green skin, wearing a fluorescent orange robe and fluorescent yellow shoes. According to the speech balloon over her head, she is saying “Eeek!” Why?

Perhaps she was frightened by that evil owl eying her from across the aisle. But wait — that owl is no Hallowe’en gimmick. It’s the Hooters Owl, gazing lecherously from a packet of Hooter’s Wing Breading.

A chill runs down my spine and between my legs. I know about Hooters. These are the people who offered to pay for my sister’s breast augmentation surgery. All she had to do was take a job waiting tables at their bar in Union Station. In the Hooter’s uniform, of course: very short shorts and a cut-away tanktop.

Scary, huh? I guess you gotta get a boob job to work a boob job. My sister turned them down. But we still tell the story on spooky autumn evenings.

And now, at last, you can do up chicken wings at home just like they make ’em at Hooters. And if you’re lucky, you can get a girlfriend to dress up like a Hooters waitress for you. Or just rent the “Girls of Hooters” video. (Better save that cooking grease.)

A hapless 6th-grader finds a phosphorescent “Jason” hockey mask in the dairy freezer. His mom makes him put it back. He tells us that his home is decorated with strings of skeleton-lights that flash on and off. “It’s really annoying, actually.”

I wonder: what’s happened to Hallowe’en? Was it always this cheesy? Does anyone really think that day-glo witches are frightening?

I wander into the potato chip aisle. The Ruffles package sports a green- skinned witch with six warts (count ’em — six!) on her split nose and tufts of purple facial hair sprouting on her fat chin. She’s wearing not one but two conical hats: a traditional black witch hat with belt and buckle, atop which is perched a tiny party hat, polka-dotted orange and purple.

A poster hangs from above: an ancient mummy confronting a barrel in his Egyptian tomb. Who has violated the sanctity of his sacred resting place? Grave robbers? No! Candy manufacturers! The barrel springs open to reveal a cache of glowing “fun size” Snicker bars.

The “Back To School” candy-kiosk depicts a hallucinatory panorama: a freckle-face kid peering out from behind a huge pile of books stacked with Milky Ways, giant pencils marching toward a playground where one boy hands a small packet to to another — is it a drug deal? Sure enough. M&M’s.

A lovable ghost bobs up beside me, hugging a load of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s Kisses, and York Peppermint Patties in his transparent arms.

“Don’t be scared,” he says. “I’m a friendly ghost.”

I can’t help snorting: “Scared? You couldn’t scare my six-year-old niece. You couldn’t scare anybody, except maybe Ray Bradbury.”

The silly specter cocks an eyebrow. “Ray Bradbury? Who’s he?”

“A writer. He predicted a sanitized future, a time when people are no longer afraid of the dark, because all the tales of horrible wraiths and flesh-eating goblins have been suppressed, forgotten, censored.” I stare right through the amiable apparition, lost in thought. “It looks as though Ray was right. But it’s not the censors. It’s the vendors.”

“The who?”

“You know, the sugar-peddlers. They’re cashing in on a Hallowe’en for kids. That’s why everything’s so cute. That’s why you look so goofy.”

“Well, you look pretty goofy yourself, mister!” He floats off in a snit.

I can’t help but feel that something has been lost.

Continue reading Why Halloween Sucks

And Yet…

I’ve articulated some of my thoughts on the election, yet I see I have left some important stuff out.

For one thing, although I’ve been mildly disgusted by this presidential campaign, I’m actually less disgusted by the two major candidates than in any race I can remember. Some friends have expressed dismay that they can support neither McCain nor Obama. I’m like, welcome to my world. That’s how I’ve felt my whole life. Yet I actually feel less like that on this go-round.

Another thing: Despite all my reservations and qualifications and hedges and misgivings, I really want to see Obama win. I think an Obama victory would be much better for the nation than a McCain victory. In fact, I’d love to see an Obama landslide. I think that would be great.

And it’s not just opposition to McCain. I genuinely want to see Obama in the White House. There are many reasons, but I’ll mention just a couple: the war, and race.

The war in Iraq is still a huge issue in my mind, despite being eclipsed by the economy. It’s amazing to me that we have a major candidate on the ballot who opposed the war. An Obama victory would symbolize a repudiation of Bush’s doctrine of preemptive aggression.

Then there’s the race issue. We’d like to pretend we’re living in a post-racial era, but race still matters. Race is intricately bound up with class. Take race and class together, and you’ve got an issue that not only matters, but matters hugely. If we’re such an egalitarian country, how come every president we’ve had has been white and male? Obviously we haven’t quite reached the high ideals to which we aspire.

I’m not so naïve as to suppose that an Obama victory would correct that in some magical fashion. In fact, I can envision the opposite. The talking point will go like this: “There’s a black man in the white house, so stop whining about inequality.” I don’t nourish any fantasies that a black president would make our racial problems disappear.

And yet I’m reminded of something E.J. said many months ago:

…there’s been a lot of talk about facing our race problem and “talking about it,” but I get the sense everyone’s waiting for their invitation to a nice roundtable summit, one afternoon at the Convention Center, where we can engage in a dialogue about our feelings. That ain’t gonna cut it.

E.J. was speaking about post-Katrina New Orleans in particular, but those words come back to me every time there’s a racial flare-up on the national scene, like the Don Imus debacle or whatever. We need to have dialog on these issues. But it never really happens. If Obama is elected, we’ll be having some dialog all right, and it will keep coming as long as he’s in office. It won’t always be pretty. It will get downright ugly sometimes, I’m sure. And I’m not sure where it will lead — there’s no guarantee of a positive outcome. I think it will be therapeutic, but therapy is not without risks.

So, yes, I hope Obama wins over McCain. No question.

Of course I’d love to see a victory by someone who more closely approximates my values. But here’s an interesting little factoid from Electoral-vote.com:

The Green Party candidate, former representative Cynthia McKinney, has raised $177,000 so far this year, a sum Barack Obama raises every hour.

Kind of puts things in an interesting perspective.

Then there’s the question of voting. But that’s another thing entirely.

This Old Mac



Just wanted to let you know what’s up with this old Mac. I’ve ended up taking it in to work in order to get my old data off of it. The good news is that it’s working. I’ve even scored an old ADB keyboard and mouse from a co-worker. Turns out they’re a little harder to come by than I thought. Anyway, you can have them with the Mac if you’re still interested. You will still need to supply your own monitor, though.

It’s been fun seeing all these old files and messing around with this machine. There’s a bit of a story here — this Mac was the one thing I took upstairs before we evacuated for Katrina. That’s why it no longer has a monitor, keyboard or mouse. All those things were flooded. As for the machine itself, it’s been sitting in our hallway for the last three years. This is the first time it’s been booted up since the flooding.

But even before Katrina this system was showing its age. I handed over to Xy (my wife) in 2002 when I bought a new iMac. We kept it running but it was not exactly the latest and greatest. It’s got a 200 MHz PowerPC chip, a 2 GB SCSI hard drive, and it’s running Mac OS 8.6. Mozilla 1.0 is set as the default browser. As I said, revisiting this old system has been a trip. I was able to move those old personal files to another computer via AppleTalk. It took a bit of research and memory-jogging to even remember how to operate OS 8.6. All those crazy systems “extensions.” How did we ever manage?

On the downside, my explorations in this arena have brought home just how antiquated this box is. It’s a PowerMac 8600. That may not mean much to you but if you google it you’ll find you can buy one of these (in better shape than mine) for about $25. Pretty astonishing when you consider they cost 100 times that when they first came out, but that was eleven years ago after all.

This model sells for $25 for a reason — they’re really not adequate to today’s computing standards. Everything about this box is antiquated. If you’re a hardcore computer geek this might be fun to play with — and I use the term “fun” with caution. If you’re looking to “just get on the internet,” well, I have to say this may not be the best choice for you. Everything will be difficult.

But don’t get me wrong, you’re still welcome to it if you want it. I’m just trying to be realistic. Nothing would make me happier than for this old box to find a new home and be of some use to somebody. Just let me know.

Editor B

OS 8.6 Desktop


This morning the car wouldn’t start again. Only three weeks since the last time. Cocking the wheel didn’t help. Nothing helped. I waited about five or ten minutes, and it started right up.

I don’t think this is related to the colder weather, because when it didn’t start on the 9th the low was only 66º. There just doesn’t seem to be any pattern, except that after waiting a short while the car always starts up. We can’t reproduce the problem at will, so I don’t think any mechanic will be able to help. I’ve had 25 people give me 25 different ideas of what it could be. I’m mystified.

Our biggest clue is that after a few minutes it starts up fine.

Apparently this is known as a “No Crank” scenario. We know the battery and the connections to the battery are good. Since there’s no clicking or clunking I assume it’s not the starter, solenoid or Bendix.

After a bit of internet research I have come across reference to other people having this problem. A lot of folks seem to have narrowed their problem down to some kind of anti-theft device called the “passlock” system which is being improperly triggered. I guess next time this happens we should look for an icon of a car with a lock on the dashboard, as apparently that’s some kind of secret signal. I think I would have noticed it, though.

(This is one of those rare days I actually drove to work, because I was taking my eleven-year-old Power Mac 8600 in to the office to see if I can pull some data off the drive before giving it away to a friend of a friend. First time it’s been booted in over three years.)

Partly Nippy

It was cooler today, with a bit of a nip in the air, the first hint of cold weather since spring.

I object to this turn of affairs. I don’t know if it’s my body or my mind that takes greater umbrage. But I can feel myself clench up, mentally and physically. I was a little uneasy and out of sorts all day.

Some people enjoy this. Some people — native New Orleanians even — seem to take relish in reminding me that it isn’t even really cold yet. Inevitably we get into the topic of how I grew up in Indiana, and how I lived in Sweden for a year up by the Arctic Circle.

Was I born with thin blood or am I just a mental case? Don’t know.

It’s cool in our house now, but not really cool enough to fire up our two wall furnaces. I expect it will be actually undeniably cold tomorrow morning, like in the mid-40s.

It will be warming up in a few days, I hope.

A little brandy helps.

Her First Halloween Party

They had a Halloween party at our daycare. Besides seeing all the kids in their costumes, one of the highlights was a ride around the block in the six-seater buggy. That’s our girl up front wearing the Crown Royal bag.


I hope to complete her costume with a little crown by the time Halloween actually gets here.

There’s a few more photos in this here Flickr set.

Big Sculptures on Campus

Last Friday I noticed a new sculpture in the quad.

One Sculpture

Then I saw another, not too far away.

Another Sculpture

What’s going on here? Could it be a part of Prospect.1?

On November 1, 2008, Prospect.1 New Orleans [P.1], the largest biennial of international contemporary art ever organized in the United States, will open to the public in museums, historic buildings, and found sites throughout New Orleans.

Maybe. But our campus is not listed as a venue, and I can’t find mention of Prospect.1 on our website.

There’s a third sculpture by the rack where I park my bike.

Third Sculpture

It looks like it’s not yet fully assembled. A co-worker suggested this might be how it’s supposed to be presented. I scoffed at the notion, but here it is a week later and that snake head is still lying on the ground next to the pedestal.

Mysteries abound.

Update: Just got word via the campus e-bulletin:

Have you noticed strange things on the quad? It’s art – part of the “Sculpture for New Orleans” project, a two-year exhibition placing monumental sculptures throughout New Orleans to bring national and international attention to the visual arts and the artists of post-Katrina New Orleans. The XU Art Department is assisting with installation here on campus. For more info, visit sculptureforneworleans.org.

Truncated Scale

A friend recently commented on how our country is politically polarized. Yes, I feel that — but I also feel that many of us are apathetic and alienated from the political process.

How could these both be true? It seems contradictory, paradoxical.

Perhaps the answer, or part of it, has to do with our narrowly circumscribed political dialog. I’ve been puzzling over how to better express the idea.

Say you’re looking at two marks on a wall. If you’re standing very close, with your nose practically touching the plaster, you will see the two marks as rather far apart. But if you stand back and look at the whole wall, you might say that that the marks are quite close together.

Or take a bar graph. It’s a well-known fact that if you chop off the bottom of a bar graph you can exaggerate differences and make them seem bigger. There’s a whole chapter on this in How to Lie with Statistics.

Or say you listened to nothing but grandpa’s record collection. You might think dixieland and bebop represented the absolute opposite ends of the musical spectrum. And you’d be right, insofar as 1940s jazz was concerned.

All of these seem like variations on the same phenomenon. This has surely been observed and documented by those who study human cognition. What’s vexing me is I can’t think of the name for it. The only term I’ve encountered that seems to make sense is “truncated scale,” but that’s hardly ubiquitous.

Anyway, my theory is that some of us are “zoomed in” on two marks on the wall.

Tightly Circumscribed

From this close view, the differences are vast and passions run high. There is a sense of polarization between these two diametrically opposed points.
Continue reading Truncated Scale

Eight Months

What a month it’s been. You came down with your first bug a few weeks ago; you’ve still got a cough and a runny nose, but the doctor says that’s not unusual.

You’ve got four teeth now, with a fifth one coming in, and they are sharp. This morning you were nursing at your mother’s breast and you bit her. Ouch. She didn’t appreciate that. I started singing,

vampiresa mujer,
estoy impresionada cuando
se ven vampiresada,

as I rocked you back to sleep with a bottle. We’re all out of your mother’s frozen milk, so your bottles are filled with formula these days.

You’re ticklish now. I can make you laugh pretty easily.

You had your first taste of pomegranate. And Michael actually bought you a pomegranate tree, which we’ve planted in front of the house.

But I suppose the biggest news is that you’ve learned to sit up on your own.


That’s pretty cool, but I was even more impressed by a trick you recently learned. I can put my cap on your head, and you will reach up with both hands and pull it off. Sounds simple but for some reason it seems to be like a huge development. You’re happy to repeat this again and again. You never get bored with it — and neither do I.

We finally got your name straight with the state. So we’re having a naming ceremony (a saining) soon. Your friends can check out the event details and RSVP if they’d like to join us.

Bucket & Torch

I was talking to Howie and he shared this passage with me:

Education is now prized not because the culture values truth and wisdom, or views scholarship as a lifetime vocation, but because it is the means to economic success. So the study of science, engineering, and business takes precedence over theology, philosophy, literature, and history as the ultimate questions raised by these disciplines become unimportant. Schools and universities, forced to justify their utility in the market’s terms, employ the latest technology to “measure” the immeasurable and to ensure the production of better workers. Students elevate grades over ideas, and either feel the pressure to forego what interests them or never ask themselves what interests them in the pursuit of a marketable skill.

— Stanley Hauerwas The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics

Which reminds me of an aphorism from Yeats which I recently encountered:

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

Yeats is more poetic (surprise) but I think they’re getting at the same thing. One could quibble with Yeats for his strident rhetorical flourish; I believe we need to both fill the bucket and ignite the torch. But I think Hauerwas is saying that in our particularly historical moment we are in danger of losing the torch entirely.

And I am inclined to agree.

Neighbor Kids & Roller Girls

The neighbor kids are always knocking on our door. The reasons seem to come and go in waves. Most recently my wrench has been enjoying a great popularity. Hassan in particular will come over and borrow the wrench several times a day, as he fiddles with his bike. Hassan usually asks for the pliers, but it’s the wrench that he wants. But he’s not the only one. Lamar and Josh use it too. My hand pump is also much in demand.

Saturday evening we decided to take Persephone to the swing set on the Jeff Davis neutral ground. She’s just big enough to be able to ride in the special swing with the legholes built in. Somehow we accumulated an entourage of five kids. Xy wanted them to get permission from their parents, and we waited while the fifth child checked. We saw her mom lean out over the porch railing there on Bienville. We waved and she waved back and she said OK to her daughter.

But the other four kids were a different story. They were all from the same family, but they said their mom wasn’t home. No one was home. They were running the streets unsupervised, it seemed.

We walked up to the swing set together and spent a half-hour playing around. Kids love babies, I’ve noticed. All the kids love love playing with our daughter. Black and white kids playing together: It’s a scene you would never have seen in the town where I grew up.

But I was filled with sadness as I watched them play, because I realized there was zero chance that any of these kids would remain friends with my daughter as she grew up. I know that in a couple years, these kids just won’t be around the neighborhood anymore. They’ll have moved on. That’s our post-Katrina reality. Before Katrina, most of our immediate neighbors were poor, but there was more stability.

The four kids from the same family were all skinny. The fifth girl was a little on the heavy side — just a tad bit chunky. But those four other kids were skinny, almost like they were malnourished.

On the way back the oldest girl asked me where we planned to send our daughter for school. She said she went to A. P. Tureaud, and offered that if we sent our daughter there, she would take care of her. I thought that was extremely sweet.

It was getting dark.

Xy saw the kids home, just around the corner from our house. Then we went in to graze on some leftover pizza. Shortly there was a knock on the door. It was one of the girls, one of the four. She said she couldn’t find her brother and sisters, and there was no one at home, and she didn’t want to be alone. She clearly wanted to hang out with us for a while.

Xy didn’t buy her story for a minute. Being a teacher gives one a sense for these things. She walked her back to their house around the corner, and sure enough her siblings were there. No parents though.

A while later there was another knock. It was her brother, the only boy in the family. He wanted to know if I had a cell phone. He wanted to call his grandmother. They wanted to go to her house. They didn’t want to be at home alone with no supervision.

I said I thought maybe it would be best if I called. He gave me the number. I spoke to the woman, explained the situation. She talked to her grand son. Mom was on the West Bank, it seemed. Grandma called me back a short time later. She thanked me and said she was coming out to pick the kids up.

And so. Today, Sunday, I got on my bike and rode to Home Depot. I bought a heavy-duty 24″ push broom — kind of awkward on the bike. I headed out on the Jeff Davis bike path. I passed the garden at First Grace United, where kids were doing some activity under adult supervision. Black and white kids and adults in harmony. I passed the volleyball net that was recently erected on the Jeff Davis neutral ground. A small group was playing volleyball. Black and white kids and adults in harmony.

I got to where the bike path goes over the I-10. The Big Easy Roller Girls were organizing a cleanup. We swept up an amazing quantity of debris — mostly broken glass.


That stretch of path needs to be swept out once a year; I doubt it had been done for a decade or more.

I swept until I got a blister on the palm of my hand. I reflected on how much easier it is to clean up a bike path than to solve deep societal problems.

I got a sunburn.

October 30th: Broken glass re-appears on the path.

November 2nd: Blister peels.

Open Sound New Orleans

I was recently contacted by the good folks at Open Sound New Orleans. This is a website where people can post audio clips to a map of the city. They loaned me a sweet little audio recording device called the Samson Zoom H2 and told me to go crazy with it. So over the past little while I’ve recorded over a hundred audio clips. Much of it is probably uninteresting to anyone except me, but there are a few good bits here and there. I’ve only added one clip to the map so far, but I hope to sort through these files over the next few weeks and add a few more. In the meantime, I just wanted to applaud Heather and Jacob for a unique and innovative cultural documentation project. They are definitely visionaries after my own heart. Check out Open Sound New Orleans, give it a listen, and maybe you’ll even want to contribute yourself.


“All two-valued systems are false.” — Gene Wolfe

Consider the left-right continuum of political thought. It often strikes me as tired and played-out. Yet at other times it seems quite relevant. It certainly is one-dimensional, by definition, and thus it can’t begin to reflect the rich variation and nuances of political philosophy. For example, Nazis and Bolsheviks would be at opposite ends of this spectrum, but don’t they have a lot in common? Something important is missing.

At some point during my undergraduate years, a professor introduced me to a dual-axis model of politics. It doesn’t abandon the well-known left-right continuum. It simply adds another dimension, call it an up-down continuum. Up represents a more authoritarian tendency; down represents the opposite inclination, which might be called libertarian. (Note the small “l” to avoid confusion with the Libertarian Party.) I’m not sure, but I think this model may have first been articulated by the famous psychologist Hans Eysenck.

The result looks something like this:

Political Chart

This clears up some things. Hitler and Stalin would both be at the top of the chart, but in opposite corners.

Of course you could get even more complex. You could add an urban-rural axis or a pacifist-militant axis, to name just a couple. But that quickly gets cumbersome. This dual-axis model seems to work pretty well for me. I’ve carried this mental construct around for the last twenty years, and I find it helpful. I just wish more people knew about it.

Well, turns out there’s a website that allows you to take a short quiz and plot yourself on this model. No, I’m not talking about The World’s Smallest Political Quiz. I’m referring to The Political Compass.

If you haven’t already done so, hie thee to their website and take the test. See where they map you. Does it correspond with where you’d have plotted yourself?
Continue reading Biaxial


Since I didn’t get to sound off on these issues on the radio, maybe I’ll just give vent here.

I watched all four of the so-called debates. Mostly they were pretty boring. I thought the last one was the most interesting, but all in all they were disappointing.

The debates frustrate me. Once upon a time they were run by a non-partisan group, the League of Women Voters. But for the last twenty-odd years they’ve been put on (and we’ve all been put on) by a bipartisan commission. The debates are controlled by the two major parties — two of the most powerful political entities in the world — and as one might expect, they are constructed to serve the interests of those parties.

And, face it, those parties are old and entrenched. Yet they’re both trying to sell a message of change. The mind boggles. But I digress.

What frustrates me in the debates is what frustrates me in our national political dialog: The scope is too narrow. The dialog is so tightly circumscribed that we have come to examine and contrast minute differences of policy between Democrats and Republicans, magnifying these differences so greatly that it’s easy to forget that there is a much wider range of possibilities.

To some extent this magnification is justified. The Presidency of the United States is perhaps the most powerful office in the world. I acknowledge that even the smallest differences can have huge effects on all of us.

But surely we are impoverished by not allowing a broader range of political dialog.
Continue reading Debatable

Hangin’ with Garland

WWL 870-AM is broadcasting from our campus today. The office of University Media Relations asked me to sit in for a while, so I did. I thought we’d be talking about the debate last night and the presidential race in general. I had some incisive remarks at the ready, about how the debates make a mockery of the democratic process, about public financing for campaigns, about electoral reform. I was also prepared to talk about Mid-City or the Lafitte Corridor. But I ended up talking about my job, and the re-opening of the University in January 2006.

I actually didn’t get to talk very much at all. For one thing, the president of the university stopped by and he kind of takes precedence. Also there were callers and students stepping up to the mic and of course lots of commercials and news breaks, so my hour was up before I knew it.

But it was a great deal of fun hanging out with the host of the show, Garland Robinette. We had some interesting conversations during the breaks. Did you know he received death threats after making some positive comments about Obama?

And of course it was an honor to share the dais with Dr. Francis.

Old Men Just Start the Wars

This Beetle Bailey strip ran a couple weeks ago and caught my eye for a couple reasons.

A Young Man's Game

1) Beetle and Plato appear to be under fire. This strip never depicts war situations. The characters are in perpetual training, and never actually ship off to real combat. Presumably this is another drill at Camp Swampy — but you wouldn’t know that from these two panels.

2) That punch line is a killer. This strip has more of a punch, more of an edge, than I’m accustomed to seeing in Walker’s work, or indeed much of anything on the funnies page.

Afterthought: Could this be a cryptic anti-McCain reference?

Frustrated with Bebo

I’ve been researching social network sites for a presentation I’m making at the end of the month. There’s quite a few of them out there. As part of my research I’ve been signing up for all the major ones and exploring them a bit. I already had accounts on Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, Friendster, Orkut and LinkedIn, but now I’m also on Hi5, Cyworld and Bebo.

Most of these sites allow you to connect to your online address book. This is for two distinct purposes: 1) to see who else amongst your contacts may already be using the site, and/or 2) to invite contacts who aren’t using the site to join up. I’m not interested in flogging any of these social network sites, so I restrict my explorations to the first purpose.

Which brings me to Bebo.
Continue reading Frustrated with Bebo