<dem> idaho is being bitchy hot. grr. weather.
<todd> Outlaw weather by executive order.
<todd> It'd be totally cool, but those damned activist judges....
<todd> And how.
<rone> i have a hot activist judge in my pants
<lb> rone, did you finally rename your manpart from Judge Judy?
<rone> i think it still bears the name i gave it in high school
<lb> so, Judge Wopner, then?
<rone> time to go pound the gavel
<lb> honorable mention: "I'm holding you in contempt".
<dem> idaho is being bitchy hot. grr. weather.
Today marks one year since i came home after ending up in the hospital with GBS. At that time, I couldn't stand or sit up in bed. I couldn't lift my arms farther than 45°. These days, i can lift my arms almost straight up, and i'm able to go up and down stairs. We got rid of my wheelchair in December, and i stopped using my walker all the time in April.
Memo was with me almost every day at the Walnut Creek nursing home. He's two years old now.
Despite not being compelled by law to do so, Renew Financial extended my benefits for four months once i got sick, and held my job for the 53 weeks I was out sick, and i have been eagerly working for them since February, because it's rare to find a company that displays this sort of values.
So far this year, we've seen Sigur Rós, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Midnight Oil in concert. So, really, things this year has been quite good so far, despite the nationally-induced global calamity that needs not be named.
This'll have to do until i set up my own publishing platform. I mean, i could write a Note on Facebook, but that site is pure evil. Google+ is the Democratic Party analogue to Facebook's GOP; it has a real chance to do things right but settles for not shitting itself or setting things on fire. This site doesn't exactly cover itself in glory; this posting interface doesn't seem to have been updated since DW was founded and no evidence of a mobile app exists.
Anyway, for the few who are reading this and didn't already read it elsewhere, i'm three weeks away from my 1-year anniversary of the onset of Guillain-Barré syndrome. I had a particularly shitty case of it and am now finally getting around to walking. My hands are still not able to touch-type due to weakness, stiffness, and impaired sensation. Parts of my face are still paralyzed. I'm going back to working from home part-time on Feb 1.
For this kid, who grew up in Ecuador in the `80s, David Bowie was "Let's Dance", "Modern Love", and "Blue Jean". I didn't hear anything else of his until i caught some of his `70s hits on classic rock radio in the mid `90s. Some time in 1997, an acquaintance gave me Diamond Dogs on cassette, but i didn't care for it. I didn't revisit Bowie until the next millennium.
In 2002, Amazon previewed "Slow Burn" (featuring Pete Townshend on guitar) on their site and that hooked me in, so i acquired Heathen and found it quite enjoyable (and later discovered while listening to the Pixies' Surfer Rosa that Bowie had covered "Cactus"). During that time i was well into my peak King Crimson phase, so i picked up "Heroes" given that Fripp played on it, but i found it uneven and certainly overrated. I didn't try again until 10 years later (at his point i am verifying this via my last.fm listening data), when i listened on Spotify to another of the vaunted Berlin trio, Lodger, because i'd heard "African Night Flight" on Pandora and liked it, but the album was a mess.
Then everyone was stunned when he released The Next Day. I thought it was excellent, and i bought it; after that, i decided to listen to the albums that were released near Heathen, and that yielded better results, and i picked up Black Tie White Noise. Things were quiescent on the Bowie front for me until the ★ news came out, and, well, we know what happened after its release.
After his death, i resolved to listen to his entire œuvre. Most of the pre-Berlin stuff is good but not gripping; Low is as good as advertised; the two albums after Let's Dance are as bad as people say they are; Tin Machine does not deserve the mockery it gets; and everything from then on is really quite good but nobody seems to hold it in as high regard as his other stuff. So maybe it's just me.
One side effect of my romp through the Bowie discography was catching more of the references that peppered The Venture Bros., including this gem.
Of course, i came down with GBS two weeks after his death, so maybe i needed him more than i could possibly have understood. Writing this up was one of the many things i thought about during the times i was lying there, unable to communicate. So now here it finally is.
At first, when friends shared stuff from Mike "Dirty Jobs" Rowe, it was an entertaining read. His show seemed pretty good, too. But after a while, his common-sense aw-shucks shtick wore thin, and i unsubscribed. Then, a few weeks ago, he wrote something in which he compared voting to gun ownership, and how, just as some people shouldn't be encouraged to own a gun, some shouldn't be encouraged to vote. Well, that sure as hell didn't sit right with me.
This clown tries to hide his elitism, expressed through his concern trolling that some people simply aren't equipped to understand the complicated issues behind our domestic and foreign policies and as voters pose too much of a risk, by painting his friends in Hollywood as the real out-of-touch elitists. It's cute to say that there ought to be an intelligence test to vote in this country, but we already know that this would just be another way to keep marginalized populations out of the ballot box. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, un-American. And we already have a tremendous amount of uninformed voters who are already participating, and will continue to participate, on election day. So fuck off, Mike Rowe, you sad Romney stumper, with your shitty attitude about people who can't be trusted with the vote. And your enthusiastic recommendation of "Economics in One Lesson" can go sit in the corner with all of the Austrian economics crackpots, too.
I can stand from a sitting position with moderate effort, as long as I'm not too low (for example, our toilet is very low, so i have to use a riser), and I can walk around using a walker although either Kim or David will follow me around in case I stumble because I am not quite there yet. But I think I'll be there soon.
I've been doing water therapy, which has been great, in addition to my physical and occupational therapy. I have also been undergoing acupuncture, which I'm not yet sold on, but a lot of people have commented on how much more expressive my face is, so that is encouraging.
My hands are still numb, stiff, and weak, so that is the slowest and the most frustrating part of my recovery at this point. Regardless, I am now helping out at home by folding laundry.
I will start off with a very simple declaration: no vote is wasted. Democracy, even in the misshapen state you'll find in our presidential election process, depends on every vote that is cast. Thus, every vote is crucial. To claim that one's vote is wasted because it was cast for an extremely likely loser, but isn't wasted if it's cast for the loser with the most votes, is sheerly disingenuous. To claim that voting for a third party is not only a waste, but not even a political act, as Clay Shirky tendentiously argues, condescendingly strikes at the very freedom of voting one's preference, while neatly delivering a Catch-22 of American politics: voting for one of the two big parties strengthens the two-party system in this country; voting third-party doesn't strengthen third parties, which strengthens the two-party system in this country; not voting doesn't accomplish anything, which strengthens the two-party system in this country. It is an inescapably defeatist narrative, which is usually supplemented by a smug suggestion that the only way to change the process is from within. We can see how well efforts to make the Democratic Party more progressive rather than neoliberal, or to make the Republican Party more conservative rather than regressive and nativist, have fared over the last few decades.
As for the myth of third-party candidates as spoilers, the basic premise is that third party voters somehow owe their vote to the big party that is in some way closer to their views. This is rank arrogation. You may feel that third party voters are misinformed, and perhaps misguided. You might even be right. But that doesn't make them any different than most voters for either big party; Shirky goes out of his way to impugn the motivations of third-party voters without ever questioning those of Democratic and Republican voters. Whoever we vote for will probably not accomplish what we want them to accomplish. Does that mean that our vote was wasted?
The fact is that this point can be made persuasively, as John Halle and Noam Chomsky have done already. In general, we would be better served by cogent points and dialogue, rather than sententious declarations, if not outright accusations that someone is voting wrong (or, worse, a direct appeal to fear, which is the backbone of the Trump campaign, and also informs many of my friends' appeals to vote for Clinton, as they are terrified —with good reason— of Trump).
Our vote is our voice in democracy, and it means what we want it to mean. It might not get us what we wanted it to get us, and it rarely does. But don't let anyone tell you that your vote is a waste.
My diagnosis came in around that time: Guillain-Barré syndrome. It's an autoimmune disorder where the immune system, triggered by an infection, attacks the peripheral nervous system's myelin sheath. In addition to the paralysis it caused, it also affected my autonomic systems, which made a mess of my blood pressure, heart rate, and even my insulin levels. My paralysis was particularly severe, rendering me almost unable to move between my ankles and the top of my head. I required a tracheostomy in order to continue breathing, as well as a feeding tube to maintain my nourishment.
After spending five weeks in the hospital, I was moved to a skilled nursing facility and spent 100 days there, near the end of which my breathing and feeding tubes were removed. I was then accepted into Kaiser's acute rehabilitation facility, which we had been told was very highly regarded; after arriving there, it lived up to the hype and I made much more progress in the three weeks I spent there. I've now been home for three weeks and it feels really good, despite the fact that I'm still unable to stand or use my arms and hands (I am using Dragon for Mac to dictate this).
The road ahead still has a lot of physical and occupational therapy. I am in excellent spirits, however, and will keep working hard to return to normal, or at least as close to normal as I can. Through this all, I've had amazing support from family and friends, in particular my friend Morrisa, my stepson David, and most of all my wife Kim, whom I love more with every passing day.
The highlights of the albums i picked up in 2015, as per the 'Date Added' field in my iTunes:
- Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love: great to have them back making music, and better writers than i am agree. However, it's not their best. Their albums starting after Janet Weiss joined have had an alternating great-good pattern in my estimation, and this album does not and cannot measure up to the sublime The Woods (which Phillips inexplicably does not put in his top 3 but, whatever, he's wrong), in particular its disappointing second half. Still, it's pretty damn good overall.
- The New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers: their best album so far. "Dancehall Domine" is a salt caramel truffle of a song.
- Zola Jesus, Conatus: i caught one of her tracks on college radio. She's somewhere between Siouxsie Sioux and Diamanda Galás.
- Florence + the Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful: somewhat disappointing. Doesn't measure up to the previous albums. 2wanda and i went to see her in concert and it was good but it sure felt like she was phoning it in.
- Kathryn Calder, Kathryn Calder: from The New Pornographers. A very soothing album.
- Battles, La Di Da Di: the boys are back. A more even album than Gloss Drop but somehow it feels like John Stanier is holding back on his killer drumming.
- Passengers, Original Soundtracks 1: Passengers is basically Brian Eno backed by U2. This is really quite good and doesn't sound at all like the extruded U2 product that came after All That You Can't Leave Behind.
- Adele, 25: 21 was quite a leap from 19, and 25 is yet another leap. Her voice is better than ever, and the songs have grown lyrically, musically, and production-ally.
- Snarky Puppy, We Like It Here: a live recording treated like a studio recording of a band doing jazz fusion like demigods. The musicians are amazing, in particular the drummer, who only had a few days to learn the songs. You can sample the album on YouTube, and watch the band in action.
- Faith No More, Sol Invictus: it's like no time has passed. Solid effort through and through.
Well, i must be old, because the one thing i wanted more of was Han and Leia. Shit, i could have watched a whole movie of them talking about their relationship.
What i dislike about this movie is that i am surrounded by people who are deeply invested in their childhood memories of the original trilogy and have intense feelings about it. This makes appreciating the movie extremely complicated because i have to separate my own feelings about the original movies from my feelings about this mass of fannish children and their expectations. I can't review it as a movie that stands on its own merits because it's tied in a bow topped by a cultural Gordian knot and, quite frankly, i blame you all for this. As that great American William Shatner once said, "Get a life, will you people?"
On the other hand, the movie was crafted as a continuation of a previously set story, and it is impossible to assess it without taking that into consideration.
In sum, fuck you, i'm doing it my way.( omg spoilers )
el_muchacho's theory is that, once they've gotten the fan service out of the way, they will now focus on making awesome new stuff. Given Abrams's Star Trek movies, i am not holding my breath. Was it better than the prequels? Sure. If that's your bar, maybe you need to take a long look in the mirror.
Yes, indeed, it's a new year's resolution ("dear journal, i never thought this would happen to me..."). Reasons follow:
- It's a distraction. This is gonna be the year i improve my focus and discipline. Twitter actively harms that goal.
- It's full of garbage. It's easy to be a shitbag when you only have 140 characters. It's easy to pass for a shitbag because 140 characters often isn't enough to convey nuance. The brevity of the medium combined with the instant gratification leads to all manner of reflexive, lazy expression. It's basically a shared network of comments sections. I don't need that agita in my life.
- It enables abuse. Twitter doesn't give a shit about controlling actual, verifiable abuse (as opposed to garden-variety invective). In addition, there are scads of profiles that have pictures of pretty young women, share the same trite bios, post the same trite things, and have done so for years, and you'd think this sort of thing should be easily detectable, so either Twitter knows and does nothing, or doesn't know because they're don't care to know. In sum, they're useless when it comes to keeping a house clean of filth.
So there you go, wah wah wah, all the drama you've been craving. This is being crossposted to Twitter, where i'll pin it for whoever actually reads pinned posts. I'll probably check DMs there for a while, but really, send me email instead. If you can't figure out my address, ask.
Some test we were running at work today involved the ZIP code 12345. So i threw it into Google Maps and it gave me Schenectady, NY:
"I wonder what's under the pin," i said to myself. I clicked the zoom button once and saw:
"... Berlin? I wonder what that is." I clicked on that and...
So, yeah, it's a magical place. I suspect that Google Maps is looking through a window into an alternate dimension where the Nazis won and own Rotterdam:
Further digging shows the actual Berlin address's Street View as an empty storefront for lease, and the gym's domain name is now for sale; the Schenectady location shows a tree. It will have to remain a mystery.
My consumption of social media was heading to a bad place and taking my attention span with it, so i've logged out of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ in my browsers and devices. Instead, i'll use LiveJournal to crosspost stuff to FB/Tw for when i actually have something useful to share, and people can comment on LJ with either account if they want me to see it right away, or on FB/Tw and i'll maybe look at it someday. Meanwhile, i can work on focusing on stuff i want to get done at work and at home.
In the meantime, this story about chinlone, Burma's de facto national pastime, is a long but richly rewarding read.