Bork

I always thought "bork" was slang meaning "to screw something up" - but apparently it is an actual word and it means "to obstruct (someone, esp. a candidate for public office) through systematic defamation or vilification." The word comes from the supreme court confirmation hearings of Robert Bork (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bork).

I was listening to an old On The Media show where they discussed this. The only other last name -> verb example they came up with was "bobbit" - but it seems that one isn't actually in MW.

TS Elliot

Some of you got calls from me on Friday and took part in this - so this entry is mainly to get people with 412 numbers up to date.

It was my bothers 20th birthday this week and one of our favorite books is Catch-22. So I tracked down 20 people in 20 different area codes - and had each person call him between 4:00 and 4:10 PM EST. They all said "TS Elliot" and then immediately hung up. Some of the people I called immediately understood the reference to the book, others didn't know what the hell I was talking about and it took some explaining. To those that took part: thanks for your help. I owe you one.

It turns out he was at the bank during that 10 minute period, which increased his aggravation level. I'd call the whole thing a huge success, but we'll just have to see what kind of payback prank I'm the victim of.

Road Trip: Part I

In the morning I depart NYC, the first stop on my massive road trip (future entries will explain all the stops - I don't have the energy right now), for Boston.

I did massive amounts of biking in the city, including laps around central park, riverside park, the west side bike path, east side bike path, brooklyn bridge, china town, 1st avenue, and 3rd avenue. Let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've biked with new york city cab drivers. Quite intense. I also managed to fall off my bike twice while stationary (still getting used to the clip petals), and both times someone asked my if I was ok - quite nice.

I also managed to visit MoMA (running a show of 500 Friedlander photos) and the Museum of the City of New York (running a show by Lyon about the destruction of lower Manhattan in the 1960s. Both were very interesting, but the Friedlander exhibit was just too massive to really appreciate.

I saw some friends who've moved to the city; time and meals spent with them were great.

When I get back to PGH, I'll post select photos of the city, I think I got some good - albeit odd - shots.

Exerpt from "What don't know will hurt you"

"The scientists and engineers I call friends tend to roll their eyes when the subject of politics comes up. They'd rather deal with something simple like quantum mechanics. But we live in a time when it's all too easy to hear the voices of irrationality. And nonsense that surfaces in the forum of public opinion often goes unanswered by those of us who are too disinclined to get into discussions with the uninformed."

From "What don't know will hurt you" by Jim Quinn in the Fall 2004 edition of "Invention & Technology"


Pretty much sums up my views of politics. I used to just curse the insanity of it all and try and stay as far away as possible. I'm now realizing that doing that does nothing - that even if the system is completely broken there is still the chance we could fix it and rational people could prevail. And that slim possibility is worth fighting for.

What I dislike most about the current system is that nearly no one in power actually says what they think.

Recently Bush said “I don’t think you can win” the war on terror. "But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.” - probably the smartest thing he has said in a while. Of course, all of the Democrats pounced on him with “This is no time to declare defeat” and "The war on terrorism is absolutely winnable." And then the Republicans did some damage control with statements like: “In this different kind of war, we may never sit down at a peace table,” Bush said. “But make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win.”

(quotes from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5865710/)

What the Democrats should have done (and should have from the very beginning), is to say something like: You are completely right Mr. President - we can't win a war against a verb, just like we can't win the war on drugs. Perhaps we should stop fighting these pointless battles and put the money to better use like improving public schools or reducing the national debt. And while we are making sweeping changes, why don't we make it the policy of the US not to muck with other countries. It seems that whenever we do we just piss more people off (ex: We funded anyone who would fight against the USSR, including Osama. We funded Noriega for years, and then jailed him when he turned on us)

A few words of advice:

Democrats: Trying to differentiate yourself from Republicans by taking the opposite side of a correct statement is no way to run your operation. Don't fight internally - it only weakens you. Figure out a way for the tree huggers and the union workers to get along (and all of the other opposing factions).

Republicans: Don't lie to the American people. If you wanted to remove Hussain because he is a "bad man" then say that. Personally I do not think that it is our place to control the governments of other nations, but at least I would have respected your directness and honesty. Right now you've pissed me off on both fronts.

Also, keep your religious concerns out of policy. There are 2 big areas where you have alienated a lot of people. First, drop the anti-abortion push. Let women do with their bodies what they want. Second, drop the "preservation of marriage" crap - let gays marry. If you are actually concerned about the scantity of marriage (which I doubt), it is already too late - 50% of marriages these days don't last, cheating on spouses (especially among government officials is rampant). There is little meaning left to the word.

Everyone: Don't follow the party line because that is "the patriotic thing to do." The patriotic thing to do is to think for yourself, make your own decisions, and vocalize them.

I could go on and on, but that is enough ranting for now.