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Tuesday, June 25, 2002
9:52 PM      

What's fashionable today...
TechXNY/PC Expo is going on at the Javits Center this week. I signed-up for a free exhibits-only pass, and now I'm on their promotional e-mail list. I don't mind. I asked for this one. After reading the usual hype about "Visionary" this and "Exciting" that, I noticed that one of tomorrow's keynote addresses will be from the FBI! And to think, a year ago, the spy business was old-hat cold-war stuff.

In Barnes and Noble today, I spotted Tom Ridge on the cover of a magazine - I think it was either The Nation or The New Republic (TNR). The story was about Tom Ridge's insignificance. Looked like an interesting read, but I had other fish to fry. Tonight, I came home to try and look up the story online. I didn't find that, but I found this interesting bit in TNR:

Stop Him Before He Lies Again

Back in Houston last week, President George W. Bush again told what is gradually becoming his favorite political anecdote: "You know, when I was one time campaigning in Chicago, a reporter said, `Would you ever have a deficit?' I said, `I can't imagine it, but there would be one if we had a war, or a national emergency, or a recession.' Never did I dream we'd get the trifecta." Even we're getting a little tired of pointing out that this story is almost certainly untrue. No reporter who covered the 2000 campaign can recall Bush ever having said anything like this; and despite repeated inquiries from the media, the White House has never produced any evidence that he did. ...



More street scenes
The lettering on the woman's purse seemed to vibrate with tension. The message read "Have a bad day." We'd just let a couple of people off, and there was a whining sound coming from the front of the B52 bus. The lights blinked off, the AC went silent, and the bus shuddered. a murmur rippled through the passengers. Then, the familiar roar of the engine revving up, and the AC began to issue it's own din again. The engine had stalled.

We rode down the street, starte the left turn onto Gates, where some bozo had decided to stop in the middle of the bus stop, a couple of feet away from the curb, to chat with someone standing on the sidewalk. It took three sustained blasts from the Bus horn to get the character behind the wheel of the Hyundai to creep forward enough to allow the bus to turn. They did not, however, abandon the bus stop. I got off at that point. Figured the driver was going to have a little work ahead of her, pulling out and getting around that car.

It seems as though it was screaming babies day on the New York Mass Transit System. A young mother and her friend were on the bus headed toward downtown Brooklyn. Her baby seemed to be squealing with glee. Very animated. Very bubbly. Suddenly. soda was spraying everywhere. The mother said she didn't care about the spill - it hadn't gotten on her dress. She was kind enough to check in with the older woman sitting diagonally across the aisle from her - nobody had gotten their clothes wet. The bottle rolled around the floor, no longer quite full enough to spill more, unless it was significantly upturned. Young mom took her time, patting soft drink off her legs. When she finally picked it up, she placed it precariously on the window sill. And when her friend wanted to take the bottle (probably to dispose of it properly), young mom prevented her from doing so.

All this was going on as they discussed some girl (they both appeared to be roughly high-school age) who had had her second baby recently, and another who'd managed to hide her pregnancy into the ninth month. Young mom said "They musta got it on right after she came out of the hospital! She didn't waste no time." Irish twins, it's called. the kids will probably have the same calendar age for two or three months every year. It could be fun for them, or a drag.

The doors of the number 4 train swung open at Boling Green Station, and a screaming three or four year old stepped into the car. Standing next to his mother, he cried incessantly for more than a minute, then continuing to cry, pointed toward his father. Dad issued the time-honored Ultimate Parental Threat: "Keep that up, and I'll really give you something to cry about!" The boy seemed unaffected. He cried nonstop for a couple more minutes. During that time, he moved closer to his father, who bent down to ear-level with the boy, and began to talk a lot. I tuned the whole thing out about the time that another passenger pointed out that the boy's little sister, who was sitting in the stroller that Dad had been pushing, looked like she was trying to tear one of the hoop earrings out of her pierced ear.


Reading the walls
The couple sitting near the window at the Starbucks near the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue looked pretty normal - jeans and t-shirt kinda folk. I got a chuckle when his shirt hit me. The logo on the back looked like those familiar signs that greet visitors to restaurants and shops everywhere, with a bit of a kink. The word "OPEN" was in large bright orange Helvetica-like block letters against the black backgorund. A white border surronded the black field, and a thin black edge separated the "sign" from the grey material of the shirt.

The next word to land was in fancy italics: "Sorry." The "y" connected to the "S" with a flourish, the whole word in a script italic face. Next to that, in slightly smaller plain text was the word "we're" -- Sorry, we're OPEN. Irony and dismay all in a neat little package.

A few weeks ago, a woman was sitting on a bench in the twenties near 5th Avenue. Everything about her dress suggested that she was used to being observed. Her crisp black t-shirt was the cap: fashionable white letters spilled roughly from her shoulder line to her sternum, reading "Bitch... moi?"

Later that same day, I got off the train to see a man with a table full of fliers, a megaphone and a large banner (maybe 6 feet long) tied to the security gates of an empty storefront near the Nevins Street Station on Flatbush avenue. His banner read "RENT is too damned high!" I saw him there several more times over the following week. I haven't seen him since. The beginning of a grassroots political career?

That same day, I noticed some disturbing graffiti on the wall of a public bathroom - symbols written out like a mathematical formula equating the Star of David with the swastika. It was all the more chilling, having seen Israeli tanks pulverizing Palestinian-controlled areas in much the same way that Nazi tanks had rolled through Jewish settlements throughout Europe some 60 years ago. Today, it's clear that Israel plans to annex the west bank, and Bush is lining up behind them. That doesn't seem like coexistence to me. Sounds more like what the US did with its own indigenous people.

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Sunday, June 23, 2002
6:05 PM      

I just finished an online course in Illustrator. I'm very pleased with the results. I think I've actually got a pretty good handle on that crazy pen tool now. It's really not that bad, once you get the basics, but I guess it's that way with a lot of things.


More old friends
I ran into my old buddy Tim in Park Slope today. We'd lost touch over the last couple of years. I called his house on the way through the Delaware Water Gap a few weeks ago, left a message, and didn't hear from him. I figured it was about time to try to raise him again, when he literally appeared standing next to me at Starbucks! I dont' know where he came from; I was oblivious, and I'd like to think that I'm usually more aware of my surroundings. Next thing I knew, he was standing shoulder to shoulder with me.

It's easy to pick up where you left off with old friends. There was no time or need for "how come you lost touch?" There was simply filling each other in on things that have transpired during the gap, and moving on. We're even neighbors these days. I look forward to some good evenings of trash-talking.


I have seen the future and it doesn't work...
The cool thing about good sci-fi, is that it always illuminates some aspect of humanity (particularly the socio-political) through the metaphor of projecting into the future.

From Neuromancer:

Dr. Rimbali Smiled. "There is always a point at which the terrorist ceases to manipulate the media gestalt. A point at which the violence may well escalate, but beyond which the terrorist has become symptomatic of the media gestalt itself. Terrorism as we ordinarily understand it is inately media-related. The Panther Moderns differ from other terrorists precisely in their degree of self-consciousness, in their awareness of the extent to which media divorce the act of terrorism from the original sociopolitical intent..."

Said another way - suicide bombers, hijackings, and kidnappings are supposed to be about using the media to send a political message. Instead, the media use the horror to keep viewers glued to the screens, and sell more soap, cars, and toothpaste.

The book was published in 1984.

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