Archive for March, 2006

Happy Friday, yo!

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“Code-name Ennui” and I are heading to Washington D.C. next weekend. You see, little Ennui has become a graduate student and will be attending Catholic University to study all things Irish and wants to get a lay of the land as it were. I, whose maternal grandfather was born and raised in the pundit city and who spent many of my young summers at my grandparent’s Potomac River house in Maryland, just want to get back to the marble city. Everyone talks politics and news and I love it!

So, in planning our trip, I was trying to explain to Ennui about the Potomac River Bridge (renamed in the 60s the Harry Nice Bridge, but since my mother apparently never knew this, will forever for me go by the first, and most active, moniker). This sucker is the only bridge you can cross to get to my grandparents house unless you want to go miles out of the way. And it is the scariest, most horrifying monster I’ve ever had to traverse. Except for maybe Spaghetti Junction in Atlanta but that’s just because you can see through the concrete slabs from underneath those bridges and that just seems to defy all laws of physics…

So, here’s a few pictures of this beast, built in 1940 (!), 135 feet high, 2 miles long. And my dad always like to cross in our motor home, which is essentially a tour bus. Good times. Did I mention that I’m terrified of heights?

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Okay Lord Somber — I hear you. But, some of them must be sincere, right? I mean, they can’t all be self-involved megalomaniacs on stage all the time. Can’t we, the adoring fans, have our fantasies please?

“Sprawled in the comfy chair under the spotlight, who can resist palaverous preening and spinning tales of “empowerment?” Or tales of woe?
And lo and behold, professional back-patters appear like clockwork, ever-ready to fulsomely goad our guests to slog ever faster on the Vanity Treadmill.”

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I knew empathy wasn’t just a social construct. So, biology plays a role in morality…won’t those Machiavellian egoists be disappointed…

Researchers at UCLA found that cells in the human anterior cingulate, which normally fire when you poke the patient with a needle (“pain neurons”), will also fire when the patient watches another patient being poked. The mirror neurons, it would seem, dissolve the barrier between self and others. I call them “empathy neurons” or “Dalai Llama neurons”. (I wonder how the mirror neurons of a masochist or sadist would respond to another person being poked.) Dissolving the “self vs. other” barrier is the basis of many ethical systems, especially eastern philosophical and mystical traditions. This research implies that mirror neurons can be used to provide rational rather than religious grounds for ethics (although we must be careful not to commit the is/ought fallacy).

For the entire article, go here.

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Three things

1. Peter Stormare is cool. He takes what could be a really crappy commercial job shilling for Volkswagen and turns it into sheer comedy. He’s brilliant in everything I’ve ever seen him in, from Fargo to The Big Lebowski to The Brothers Grimm. Check one of the commercials here.

2. Equating Scientology to The Super-Adventure Club = Genius

3. This is making me really happy at the moment.

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It has finally occurred to me that everyone I’ve ever met who thinks I’m too nice, i.e. “Why do you let people walk all over you? You should totally ream that f*cker!,” have been the same people who spent very little time worrying about whether or not their actions completely cross the line into sociopath land. And, as is inevitably the case with the conscience-free, wasted no time in turning this same mentality on me and anyone else who got too near the moral void that was their soul. These people who spout the “You’re too nice” mythology will always screw you over. It’s sad, I know, that it’s taken me this long to connect the bloody dots. I’m just so nice…

I digress.

Got some new records yesterday (yeah, I still call ’em records. I just like the image.) Grit your teeth Lord Somber: I’m posting what currently keeps me aurally sane.

The Old 97s, Too Far to Care. Their song “Timebomb” was featured in the film Clay Pigeons, which I realize is several years old but I just saw because I’m nursing a pretty serious obsession with a certain actor at the moment. Any way, great song. Fine album. “I got a landmine, in my bloodline…”

Also, The Rock*A*Teens Golden Time, recommended by Lord Somber after hearing some of one of their albums in a gem of a dive bar in downtown Athens. We have afriend who played drums in this band but I do not think is featured on this album. Good stuff. Makes the term “indie rock” really funny.

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a’right, i need to clear something up:

the other night, St. Pat’s specifically, when i said “picaresque” meant “idyllic”? Yeah, um, not so much. it means “rogue” or “rascal” as in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a fine example of a Southern picaresque novel.”

While rare, it does happen — i can be wrong. it’s okay…you can cry a little…

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Couldn’t resist this. The revolution begins this Saturday…

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So, I was riding the bus the other day with a friend from work who will read this and hate me but will eventually come to the understanding that you can love someone and not agree with them all the time. Or he’ll never speak to me again.

We were talking about Georgw W. He was saying that he’s a libertarian but that he hates George W. Why? I asked. “Because he lied about getting us into a war that turned out to be a vendetta because Saddam Hussein tried to kill his father (George H.W.).”

Okay, this argument is so tired but I feel the need to address it — first, why is it that we glorify this vendetta mentality in movies — I mean, Con Air, Walking Tall, most recently V for freakin’ VENDETTA, among many, MANY others, are all about this mentality. And we celebrate this mentality as a culture. We cheer for the man who takes revenge after his family was targeted. Jack Ryan anyone?

Second, um, the World Trade Center bombings were all about revenge, right. We pulled out and left the Afghanis to fight the Russians. They hated us and sought revenge. And so many of our countrymen, while lambasting a Bush family vendetta, believe that a Bin Laden vendetta is a-okay. Why? No really, why? And don’t say it’s tied up with privledge and money cause Osama wasn’t hurtin’ man.

I made a couple of statements about my friend needing to dazzle me with an argument that wasn’t so trite and he said that, in reality, Bush just “turns his stomache” when he looks at him. I’m almost more willing to get behind this as argument because at least it’s a visceral reaction as opposed to one truly hollow and, at the same time, full of misinformation.

The only problem is, sometimes a visceral reaction to someone has little to do with the person you’re veiwing and more to do with the attitude of the person doing the viewing. Ever hated someone on sight because of your own bias? I have. Hard pill to swallow that one. I guess it’s easier to just project the blame outward.

I hate the whole vendetta mentality as a rule. I also understand the poetry of it. I do not, however, understand the poetry of hypocrisy.

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Happiness dust

This was a good laugh this a.m. Thanks Sharon. I needed it.

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