Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Charter School Oversight and "The Rookie"

Possible Recent Bank Robber High graduate, "The Rookie" (courtesy FBI)

Maybe in the rush to accept all those new charter schools over the last few years APS should have done a bit more checking before authorizing Bank Robber High. I think we can all agree that vocational training is important, especially at the High School level, but a closer examination of the proposed course catalog outlined in the school's charter application might have been wise. The following course descriptions are indicative of the school's trades-based emphasis (note that before the catchier name "Bank Robber High" was selected, the school was originally to be called Hi-Speed Bank Funds Acquisition Charter High School):

Creative Teller Notes 106: Students learn the sentence construction necessary for successful hi-speed bank funds acquisition, with a special emphasis on legibility and spelling. As instructor Virgil Starkwell always says, "nobody should have to do time because they didn't take the time to spell words like 'gun' and 'act' legibly."

Inconspicuous Entry 227: A variety of bank entry methods are examined, focusing on seminal questions in this aspect of hi-speed bank funds acquisition. These include: sweatshirt hood or business suit? Sunglasses or no sunglasses? Calm, unperturbed look or the more Postmodern blase cell phone look?

Ethics in Bank Robbery 499: In a Seminar format students discuss elemental questions in hi-speed bank funds acquisition, including whether bank customers should lie on the floor or hold their hands up, and the efficiacy of the demanding tone ("put the Goddamn money in the bag, bitch!") versus the more pleasant ("the money, the money, bitch, put the Goddamn money in the Goddamn bag, please!")

Update: Evidently Marc Matthew Dutch (AKA "The Rookie") didn't do well in Bank Robber High's Junior Level class on Avoiding Arrest, especially the "don't freak out and throw evidence with your fingerprints on it out of the getaway car" lesson. Maybe it's that newfangled whole language approach they use in these charter schools . Oh well, as John Goodman and William Forsythe's characters (Gale & Evelle Snoats respectively) say in "Raising Arizona":

GALE (holding cooked chicken leg to temple):    

Y'understand, H.I.,if this works out
it's just the beginning of a spree across the entire
Southwest proper.

We keep goin' till we can retire-or we get caught.


Either way we're fixed for life.

Those Poor, Pitiful Bastards!

The NYTimes has the sad, wrenching (and so worthy of sending a reporter to Iowa) story of the rural living Hawkins family. What is wrong with this country that it can't provide broadband to three-piece suit wearing white people living in giant homes on sizable farms? The horror! The cyber-poverty of it all! (free subscription, but not that outrageously expensive "Times Select", required)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Panic in Streaming Music Park

Tonight is a sad, soundless night 'round these parts. It seems that the Rhapsody site is down. Do you know the last time I actually put one of those silvery round flat objects (I believe you Earthlings call them "Cds") in a player? I have four CD stack holders covered in literally millimeters of dust. Tree rings of dust. Carbon-14 date-able levels of dust.

Most anybody who is geeky enough to go blog-hunting already knows about Rhapsody, and I absolutely hate any fawning that approaches shill status, but it surprises me the service doesn't get more subscribers. Yes, it doesn't have everything, but it has so, so much. Enough that you can go through the typical ADHD music jag without missing a beat. One night it might be Flaming Lips begats Polyphonic Spree begats Granddaddy begats Codeine begats Galaxie 500 begats Mazzy Star and then you realize that you really been subconsciously depressed for days in a post-Thanksgiving let-down funk, and it took this little music jag to figure that out.

Or maybe you've got about 7 hours of housecleaning to do because you've been in this post-Thanksgiving funk holding onto comfort pillows in the fetal position for three days and nights while cats and dogs shed and keep shedding. So you crawl up from that fetal position, put on one of those box sets you've never been able to afford, say Ornette Coleman's "Beauty is a Rare Thing" and crank up all that wacky free jazz goodness while manically de-shedding.

And all for $9.95 a month. So, while others get the new IPod with the ever improving special features (like its spectacular battery replacement program!) and mp3 players for all the tunes we stole during the good ole' Wild-West days of Napster, I'm Jonesing for my Rhapsody tonight...because it's down. My music's down, man. It's down.

Meanwhile, many of you old-skool music nerds have long wondered "where can I find a live complete rendition of They Might Be Giants' seminal hook medley 'Fingertips'"? Well here it is. (Real Audio) And here are some more tunes recorded recently at KEXP. Relive all the early 90's goodness with John and John singing in voices only slightly less cracked than mine in the shower after three cups of coffee and a night of screaming over the music in a smoke-filled bar.

Oh Wait! Glory of Glories! The Rhapsody is back up! Yeah! Bring on the Mountain Goats, pronto! There's a post-Thanksgiving funk to listen our way through and John Darnielle is just the guy for the job. I wonder what we'll listen to after that....

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Snowy White Underbelly of the Internet

It's a long, long story involving dark obsessions, late night mysterious vigils and, before the Internet, overly frequent furtive phone calls to an older woman. The seductress would say:

"First State Bank is YOUR bank. Time Eleven Twenty-Four, Temperature Thirty One Degrees"

And I would marvel with pleasure, unable to keep from yelping out loud even though my parents told me to go to sleep an hour ago. BELOW FREEZING! SNOW! C'MON SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!

Now, years later, it's not just a temptress' voice. We have pictures. Pictures I spend hours staring at. There is chat porn, there are downloadable videos aplenty...but nothing satisfies my own personal itch like the Wyoming Department of Transportation Highway Conditions web cams system. Trust me, I've screened the wicked web for the best in weather/snow porn, and in clarity of picture, speed in loading and overall stark landscape quality, Wyoming DOT has 'em all beat.

My favorite is the Kemmerer Port of Entry. Now tell me THAT isn't an effective double entendre...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

All Hail The Party!

No long, Faulknerian-without-the-talent ramble today. Let me just direct your attention to what I find a pretty interesting little confab on things NM Democratic Party at Democracy for New Mexico. C'mon, check it out and add your comments! I made a fool of myself and you can too! One note of warning, however: after reading this you might definitely get the feeling the Republicans could run the late Jeffrey Dahmer for President and stand a pretty good chance in New Mexico.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It's An Extended Family Sordid Affair (sing-along)

Okay, I'm just waking up this morning but regarding the latest version of the Robert Vigil Treasurer's Office massacre (in four-part family harmony for the Harvest Festival) in this morning's Journal. (pesky subscription...here's Steve Terrell's story at the SF New Mexican)

  • This is all just fall-down funny in a pathetic, embarrassed way reminiscent of watching your friend throw up on their shoes.
  • Could one of the newspapers construct a Family/Treasury Department Tree ala those really long historical novels? I lost track at the 3rd Gallegos related to Vigil's Uncle.
  • In truly a treasure trove of tasty quotes, my favorite right now (I notice my favorite is changing the more I read it...kinda like a Fountains of Wayne album) comes from Jo Ann Gallegos (she's the one who didn't have to provide a resume to get her job, but is remarkable because she's NOT related to Vigil)....namely, "That was a real good Thanksgiving present from the man they just hired. They didn't give anybody a chance."
    • A. I'm not hip to this "Thanksgiving present" concept. I will now consider my sweet potato topped with marshmellow cream a "present" instead of a "foul tasting, inedible tradition" from now on.
    • B. Too bad about Gallegos' "Thanksgiving Present", but when you consider Robert Vigil had been the gift that keeps on giving for so long, missing one holiday doesn't seem too important.
  • I want to be at the Sam Bregman news conference for this one. "Mr. Vigil did not have family relations with that woman, Ms. Gallegos..."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

My Weekend At Bernie's

I spent some of yesterday afternoon hanging out with the same 100 older, principally White people I had the previous Saturday. Yesterday's event with State Rep. Mimi Stewart, State Sen. Cisco McSorley and headliner U.S. Rep. from Vermont Bernie Sanders was billed as a chance for folks to find out how to run for public office, but in reality it was more of a progressive's rally for sanity. It certainly helped my own mental outlook to hear inspiring words from all three folks, especially Sanders who, after warming up, becomes quite a forceful speaker in that NYU Professor explaining the Wobblies sort of way.

As for content, there wasn't much that was new. It was fun and interesting to hear Stewart and McSorley talk about their pet bills over the years, successful and unsuccessful. McSorley, in particular, mentioned, with obvious and deserved pride, his work in getting the first AIDS assistance bill in the nation passed during the 80s. Stewart noted on more than one occasion that her litmus test for someone being a progressive was "choice". She's evidently trying to put a progressive caucus together with that simple "choice" password and she said 18 of the 112 legislators could join the club at present (she actually said 18 of 80, as I recall, but regardless it's less than 25%). Maybe it's because I tend to think we need a "bigger tent" but there is something somewhat depressing about boiling progressive thought down to one issue. Don't get me wrong, abortion is an important issue, a vital one, but isolating it at the expense of those who are progressives in all other areas might not be the way to go. Remember, send your righteous indignation, death threats, and other hate mail to this address.

The most interesting nuts and bolts running for office information centered on how effective door-to-door campaigning is. Both McSorley and Stewart harped on how essential knocking on doors is, and then followed calculations of how many doors one needs to knock upon to be successful, what percentage of folks are at home, etc. Somewhere in there, McSorley noted that he needed to hit 8,000 households in his Senate district to be successful, which seemed pretty high. My knuckles hurt just thinking about it. There followed a confusing mish-mash of numbers, but to be sure door-to-door campaigning was cited as essential. I could sense the feeling of dread that overcame my more introverted colleagues in the audience at this point. I mean, couldn't we just send out an email instead of walking up to people's front doors, knocking, and facing that dreaded slow opening? How about two or three emails?

And then Bernie Sanders got up and basically said that George W. Bush was a idiot and that Corporations are leading to the death of America, especially in health care, the middle class, and the environment. Nothing new, just more of the dualistically inspiring and depressing talk that has been the hallmark of progressive speeches since the Socialist party stopped getting more than 1% of the vote some decades ago. Still, maybe things are swinging up for us lefties these days and the long national nightmare we've been subjected to since Reagan won in 1980 might be subsiding. Too bad, a few thousand U.S. soldiers and untold thousand Iraqis had to die first.

Okay, enough "reportage"...let's get to what was really happening. First, the event was held at the "Plumber's Hall" a mid 20th Century brick building on San Pedro that was like walking into a history lesson. The building was pretty nondescript, but that nondescription spoke volumes about Unionism's more glorious past and it's almost moribund present. The Hall is a basketball mini-gym sized room that could easily hold at least 500-700 angry union members, and you can sit there and imagine them all chomping cigars, sitting on those ubiquitous metal chairs and screaming/yelling back in the day. I wondered how full the Hall has been recently on days it wasn't 1/7th full of progressives.

The event got me looking around the web, and I found the Southwest Labor Histories Archives that includes a page or two of B&Ws from New Mexico's Union past. I stole one photo to put at the top of this entry.

Second...just between you and me, do you absolutely despise the "Q&A session" part of progressive meetings like this? Maybe it is just me, but cringe is not strong enough of a word to describe the overall body implosion I experience when the questions start. The main speech ends, and sure there are questions to be asked, but then the moderator throws it open to a certain class of extroverted folk who invariably "ask" the following:

1. Long diatribes about something that has obviously been boiling inside them since the first time they did LSD and that they have been holding in, holding, holding, until this very second.

2. Long diatribes that are obviously intended to impress us with how intelligent they are, as if some hidden teachers in the large room are sitting there with grade books and red pens.

3. Long diatribes that always end in questions like "don't you agree Senator that child molesters are bad, and that people who kill little puppies are just as bad and that the law of gravity is a good law and should be supported, don't you think that, Senator, or are you in favor of child molesters, puppy killers and against gravity?"

I could go on, but this diatribe is long enough as it is. In brief, the Q&A at these events always leaves me wanting to literally meld into the ubiquitous metal chair to the point that I have to leave. In the case of yesterday's session, I'm sure I missed some good info during the Bernie Sanders Q&A, but weighing the possible nuggets of wisdom versus the absolute certainty of diatribes meant scampering out of the mid-20th Century Hall as fast as possible without making it look like Rep. Sanders had said something so offensive that I bolted in political protest.

I reached the same front door that I'm sure many cigar-chomping, angry Unionist have for decades, popped it open expectantly, breathed in the crisp, mid-Fall air as I lifted my face to the sun and realized that I was probably never going to knock on 8,000 doors, if for no other reason than the diatribes-masked-as-questions I would have to face. I will send plenty of emails, however.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Attention All Freelancers: Mea Culpa

I could never be a freelance writer. Yeah, there's the talent writing thing, but I'm speaking specifically here of the psychological makeup necessary to be a freelancer. I could never do it. I know some folks who are freelancer writers, my wife included, and I listen to their stories about slow paying clients, writing PR copy for schmucks, etc., and I just couldn't do it. I wouldn't last a week without either killing somebody or setting fire to a building (preferably one in which all my editor clients were tied to business chairs in a bizarre series of ropes, chains and duct tape while Africanized fireants crawled over their honey-covered faces & mouths propped open with sharply pointed toothpicks...not that I've thought this through or anything).

The bottom line for knowing I couldn't be a freelancer is the bottom line. I'm just one of those small-minded folks who autistically requires the monotony of the regular paycheck. Part of this condition is that I have a complete phobia about asking people for money, asking people where my money is, demanding my money, threatening people with ropes, chains and duct tape to get my money, etc. When far younger, and professionally lost in that special way peculiar to those who have Master's Degrees in Political Science, I actually tried to work in sales. Simply put, I was the single worst salesperson in the history of commerce. I admire, while also loathing, salespeople and their ability to stay persistent in "closing the deal". My "method" of closing went something like this:

Me: Hi, Mr. Person!
Mr. Person: Hello.
Me: Mr. Person, I'm selling Life Insurance, do you want some?
Mr. Person: No, I do not.
Me: Oh, okay, thanks for your time!

In a hideous former life that requires me to immediately shower every time I think about it I made tons of "cold calls" that were exactly like the exchange above. Sometimes hours of them. Well, honestly, only about once did I spend hours doing them before I (with some help from my bosses) figured out that I did not have much of a future in sales.

I relive my inadequacy from time to time with viewings of "Glengarry, Glen Ross" and then take a long shower.

Which gets me to freelance writing in Albuquerque. About the only published writing I do these days (besides this blog, which is not only paying the bills but also providing me with a healthy 401k plan) is writing little bits for a totally unnamed local publication. I'm not going to tell you the name..no, not even if you ask real nice. No, chocolate will not help either. Anyway, this little unnamed local publication is kinda famous in the freelancing community for, uh, taking forever to pay you what scant pittance you are paid. It's basically a local version of a vanity press.

Of course such publications are anathema to real freelance writers, such as my wife. Every time I admit I'm writing something for them she gives me that look...the look that says "you aren't a very good salesman, are you?", the same look you give someone when they say something like "I know it's a penny stock, but shale oil is coming back, really". Especially as the husband of a real freelance writer, I know I should dig in my heels and refuse to write for a low paying, slow paying outfit. That's when my phobia about asking for money kicks in.

So, I officially apologize to all real freelance writers out there. No, my wife is not holding a gun to my head. Really, I'm sorry that I'm supporting in some way the financial ruin of your profession. I promise to stop...really, just as soon as my genetic structure is re-engineered sufficiently to turn me from an utter sales wimp to someone who could be one of those QVC jewelry pitchmen hawking "Gem-encrusted spoons of the 50 States". That could take some time, however. Until then, I'll be the one saying "that's okay" and "whenever you get around to it" ad infinitum.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Greatest Single Problem Facing Mankind

In my half-hearted page refreshing of the Bernco site for tonight's District 9 Run-Off, I was reminded of a comment Primary participant Chris Catechis made somewhere along the line about how crazy mad many District 9 voters were about speed bumps/humps. So between refreshes I checked around a bit and came across the "Dump the Humps" lobby. They say all politics is local, but persuing this site quickly illustrates that while it all may be local, alot of it is also incredibly petty.

It is nice, I guess, that we live in a land where great amounts of energy are expended not on providing basic shelter and gathering food, but instead on whether we should have speed bumps/humps or not. Maybe if we conquer this vital threat to life, liberty and property, we can move on to overcome other big topics such as why our BMW isn't as good on corners as we thought it would be, and how to get all those leaves out of the swimming pool.

Meanwhile, down in the lowly South Valley, I live on a street with speed bumps/humps. They were here when we moved, but we heard that they were the source of quite a political squabble. The street was also the source of an impressive number of SV drag races before they got put in, too. I don't know District 9 at all, but thinking back to Catechis' comments, looking at "Dump the Humps" and the vote count for Don F. (F = Freedom from Speed Bumps/Humps?) Harris, I'd say we on the further left might forget wasting energy on things like Growth Management, Mass Transit and a Living Wage, and instead start developing a Speed Bump/Hump plank. It'll fit on the agenda right next to the proposed "Swimming Pool Leaf Removal Initiative".

Monday, November 14, 2005

Now Showing

Just like "Seinfeld"'s George Constanza, I'm very, very hesitant to ever have worlds collide, namely my "professional" world of teaching with my "navel gazing solipsistic" world of blogging.

So, you'll understand my reluctance when I tell you that I spent several minutes at work last Thursday morning looking at an erect penis in mid-masturbation on a projection screen in the school Library. In fact, the entire school staff (no pun intended) did.

I also realize that without some context the casual reader might infer some impropriety in having taxpayer money spent on what amounted to a screening of bad porn. Let me assure you that everything was on the up-and-up (and isn't it interesting that pretty much any reference suddenly becomes semi-pornographic in such a discussion?), for the erect penis was indirectly a part of a NM Attorney General's Office presentation alerting teachers of the need to safeguard children from certain aspects of the Internet.

Earnest, quite stern investigators from Patricia Madrid's Office outlined Internet dangers, and then illustrated the proof in the pudding (watch it!, I know what you're thinking) by going to a chat room which (as everyone who has ever gone to a chat room knows) pretty much immediately led to an erect penis in mid-masturbation.

I'll admit I missed the remainder of the AG's Office presentation, feigning offense at the angered member, while I was really just offended that my fellow teachers would now just have one more reason to never use a computer or the Internet again. Then again, no child was ever sexually traumatized by a ditto or mimeograph, I suppose.

I guess I could try to justify explication of this little newsless tidbit by saying something like "Madrid is sure to make Internet threats to children a key part of her upcoming campaign against Heather Wilson", but I'd be lying. It's just that we teachers don't see erect penises masturbating on projection screens every morning. I can't even remember the last time.

Okay, the world's need to be un-collided..no more teacher/job posts for as long as I can make possible.

The Exciting World of Election Reform

I spent a small part of Saturday afternoon hanging out with 100 old White people at the Unitarian Church listening to speakers on the subject of election reform. Yeah, I know, I'm one very, very hip dude. Besides the obvious attraction of hanging out with lots of old White people, I went primarily to hear about Election Day Registration (EDR), as advocated by State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino. EDR is the rare political initiative that is simple to the point of being eponymous, and Senator Ortiz y Pino outlined why he thought that EDR was probably the single most important election reform New Mexico could undertake in the wake of his successful election reform bill that snuck through the Legislature last session.

The Senator's remarks were too brief and I frankly got bored with the tin-foil hats types who followed talking about how voting systems are computer systems (hence full of bugs, viruses, etc.) run by large Defense Contractors, but I was glad I went anyway. I came away with the following impressions:

1. We've got to get more than just a bunch of old, White people in the room. Maybe these political activists events need to be held at rave clubs with free drinks instead of churches, but ain't nothing meaningful gonna happen without the young folks showing up. At the same time, serious work needs to be done to get broader racial/ethnic participation in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Right now, events like these tend to look like Northeastern Ex-Pat conventions with everybody being far, far too nice and talking about moving here for the sun and low humidity.

2. Having Jerry Ortiz y Pino is the Senate is pretty cool. He's articulate, reformist without wearing the tin-foil hat, and was able to get needed ideas such as a voting paper trail passed as part of the election reform. Now he's on the Election Reform Task Force, which is great if for no other reason than it gives us election reform nerds a one-stop shop to send pleading emails about paper trails, why electronic voting is the Devil, etc.

3. The "vast Right Wing conspiracy" aspect of election reform just doesn't work for me. In case you haven't heard the arguments from this angle, here's a representative perspective. I know, I know, the fact that Lockheed Martin and other defense contractors are writing the software for Diebold and the other Bush Family controlled voting system-makers is scandalous. I am intellectually slothful for not caring more, and missing the big picture. Maybe it's the hopelessness of staring down the military-industrial monolith, or maybe it's just the knowledge that elections have been rigged/stolen throughout U.S. history (Tracy Campbell has a new book on our ignoble history in this regard), but I'd rather just focus on the following in future elections:
  • Everybody is registered
  • The voting "precinct" is done away with. Why limit voters to only electorally bank at one smelly middle school gym? Voters should be able to at the voting branch of their choice.
  • No provisional ballots
  • No uncounted votes
  • A paper trail for every vote
  • A publicly-created organization to replace the antiquated County Clerk system. My biggest gripe with electronic voting isn't the system, it's the fact that our "smart bomb" voting system then interacts with a ball-and-musket 18th Century certification system.
  • A officially limited 30-day campaign (okay, I'm really into dreamland here)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Odds and Sods

Doing a bit of link updating (could Blogger make that any more 1994 HTML-ish?) and a couple of newer web pages caught my eye:

You can hear a new Cat Power song. And when you can do that, you do it right now.

John Roderick and The Long Winters are like Death Cab without as much of the Cutie. He/they have a new EP called Ultimatum.

I finally got around to seeing Lilya 4-Ever the other day and I'm noticing that my penchant for unremittingly depressing film is waning. Maybe Von Trier ruined me, damn Scandanavians. Anyway, Lukas Moodysson has another Cronenberg-meets-Dogma '95 movie called A Hole In My Heart. It's been around for a while, but this is ABQ and I'm lazy. Reading this description of Moodysson's latest just makes me want to either kill myself or watch Dodgeball about 20 times without interruption. I'm turning into such a film wuss.

And oh yeah, if you want to see a good, upbeat Moodysson flick before he turned Von Trier on us, check out Together.

Friday, November 11, 2005

What Global Warming?

All I know is that it's November 11th and with absolutely NO input from me whatsoever I now have the makings of a Scotts Turf Builder TV commercial on my usually Fallujah-after-white phosphorous-bombing front lawn, my mulberry tree is dropping leaves every few minutes or so as if to say "can we start Winter already?" instead of the glorious 24 hour million-leaf drop day, and I have all the windows open in the house.

Fall is by far my favorite season, and the fact the golden leaves are staying on the trees longer is glorious, but it's glorious in that guilty, global warming, way and besides this having a Scotts Turf Builder lawn thing is freaking me out. I couldn't grow a nice green lawn with astroturf, and trust me, I've never wanted to have a nice green lawn. Evidently, the strange R. Crumb-esque woman who owned the house before we moved in five years ago was treating the xeriscaping with a plutonium-dioxin mix of herbicides and up to now nothing would grow except for those nasty-ass weeds you won't even touch with gloves on. Now, the half-life of the herbicide ending, we're getting this Norman Bates goes gardening greenery effect. I think I preferred the unlikable weeds.

Anyway, here's a picture of said lawn.

See how the grass is choking out my nasty-ass weeds? I want my nasty-ass weeds back! My xeriscaping is becoming Northeast Height's-Scaping and I don't like it.

We need a hard freeze in the worst way, and we also need a really strong wind to usher the cold weather in. These dropped leaves are piling up in my yard, and they really need to be moved over to my neighbor's house, pronto. And no, collecting the leaves in large Hefty bags and putting them in a nicely arranged line ready for trash collection isn't an option...whaddya think this is Connecticut or something? I love our wind-aided NIMBY attitude about leaves here, and I'll pick up a fallen leaf the minute someone takes my dead, cold fingers off..oh wait, that doesn't work...I'll pick up a fallen leaf the second my Judicial Activist Government forces me and my 2nd Amendment defending buddies at Supreme Court gunpoint.

Oh, by the way, for you fellow weather junkies out there, Weather Underground just launched this "personal weather station" interface with Google Maps that is way, way cool. Or way, way nerdy depending on your personal fascination with real-time temperature and wind direction. Hey, looking at the temperature at some guy's back yard in Four Hills sure as Hell beats picking up the leaves in my back yard.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Deep, Deep Thoughts in ABQ City Council District Nine

In a parry of political ideas strikingly reminiscent of Socrates, Thrasymachus and the rest of the Greek boys in Plato's Republic, ABQ City Council District Nine finalists Don F. Harris (F = Felony?) and Tina Cummins exchanged deep, eternal philosophical ideas in a battle of press conferences and interviews Tuesday. Such was the depth of thinking exhibited by these two District 9 uber-scholars, that one is reminded of the need to get past simplistic Platonic ideals such as benevolent dictators and restricted citizenship to elites, and instead focus on more important concepts such as traffic citations, who has more traffic citations, whose citations are worse than others' citations, culminating in new "Allegory of the Cave" type insights about O.J. Simpson.

But we're getting ahead of ourself. Like most philosophically dense works, a discussion of Cummins & Harris' thoughts must first include studied reading. For this purpose, let us direct you to the ABQ Journal story by Jim Ludwick entitled "Council Hopeful Faced 19 Charges". (maybe a subscription, maybe not...the Journal "free articles" doctrine is a sort of Kafka meets Calvinism, surrealism-predestination, thing.) Really, go read the article first. I'll wait....

Okay, you've read the article. But have you really read it? Have you internalized the dense layering of political thought? Perhaps not. Maybe many, many more readings will be required before the typical scholar-to-be fully understands comments from Mr. Harris such as:

"Having her lecture me on traffic laws is almost like having O.J. Simpson lecture someone on domestic violence."

And, just as important, one cannot simply parse a stinging syllogistic conclusion such as this, without first comprehending the supporting statements Harris lays out regarding both why he has "19 Charges" and what the hell O.J. Simpson has to do with any of this. Yet, just as we must read between the lines to fully translate Samuel Alito's past vague rulings into probable future findings, we must take statements such as "I got confused about the filing dates" & "It shows I'm not perfect" to grasp the brilliant intellectual leap from this to O.J. Simpson. Not everyone could do it. Don F. (F = friggin' great logician?) Harris can do it.

But whereas Cummins was left with fewer comments in the ABQ Journal piece, she too demonstrates the high level of discourse present in the District 9 run-off. Probably reflecting that her years of previous City Council service didn't really warrant ever having a press conference, she sagely waits to have such a conference to announce that Don F. Harris has had 19 charges in Metro Court.
The former DWI-charged Cummins stated that she "was stunned by the number of allegations." Very likely, she was most deeply shaken to her Aristotelian core by the citation Harris received for "improper sunscreen material on windows". Cummins was "shocked and extremely disappointed" in a way that only a thoughtful political theorist can be. Hers is the position of the skeptic, the one unsure that benevolent dictators can exist in a land where improper window sunscreening is taking place.

This humble blogmaster believes that just as Plato's Republic has remained a seminal text in political theory for over 2,000 years , the thoughts outlined in "Council Hopeful Faced 19 Charges" will last well beyond next Tuesday's City Council Run-Off. Collected together with the rest of the Cummins/Harris philosophical oeuvre, future generations of political theorists may well look at the "Allegory of the O.J. Simpson" as the next great explanation of how a government and its people may work together.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Your Former Elected Officials at Work

"I discovered that it was quite easy to get bribes from people who wanted to keep or to obtain business with the State Treasurer's Office..."

"I was not legally entitled to these bribes, but I accepted them because I wanted the money.''

--Michael Montoya, former NM State Treasurer from the "statement of facts" in his plea bargain announced today.

You just can't top court documents for all-around quality humor these days. Meanwhile, I gotta run...have to refresh the Virginia Senate (Did I say Senate...I mean Governor..getting too excited) race results a few hundred thousand more times tonight. It's definitely Election Night-light, but I guess even Michelob Ultra is beer to an alcoholic. Tonight will have to suffice until we get to the primaries next year. Hey, maybe there's a decent school board race in upstate Michigan to check out...let me go look.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Maybe 'Burque Doesn't Suck That Much After All

Perhaps it's just that temporary, back from vacation, energy burst, but I'm feeling good about the 'Burque tonight.

One big reason for that is driving last weekend through parts of the far outskirts of Las Vegas, NV which are growing so fast, so far and so vapid that they make our Westside sprawl look like Portland, Oregon growth management. Growing so fast they can't put the traffic lights up fast enough to meet the traffic demand from the never-ending line of identical condo buildings. For some reason seeing all that Hell on Earth made me think that: 1. maybe all the "sprawl is okay, what's wrong with sprawl?" people in the Western U.S. will move to Las Vegas, leaving towns like ABQ to come to its senses and do some real planning; 2. when Las Vegas runs out of water, as predicted by some in 2010, there will be scenes of panicking residents fighting each other to the death for a bottle of Dasani. Consider it the "you gotta reach bottom before you change" strategy...if it works for Alcoholics Anonymous, it might work for Clark County. Plus, HBO could film all the fights to the death, and create a new series to replace "Rome" when that show has finished beheading all the characters.

So then I get back in town, and read this fine, fine piece by Marston Moore at Duke City Fix about machinations sincere and less-sincere in response to fissures in the NM State Democratic Party and ideological schisms within Republicans in ABQ's District 9. I know you've read it already, but remember I was out of town this weekend. Call me naive, uninvolved and plain stupid, but I found it exactly the kind of political junkie stuff that I've been missing for years. It will be very interesting to see how local blog reporting/analysis will evolve in the 365 days leading to Election Day 2006.

It should be a bloggin' good time regardless, but we'll really know we've fundamentally changed the political discourse in ABQ when we start having Heather Wilson/Karl Rove Photoshop contests. Those are essential. And yes, continued high-level reporting and analysis will be important, too.

Last night I drove East back into town on I-40 and topped the crest of Nine Mile Hill to the blinking lights of the city. In years past I would make that mini-crest getting back from Flagstaff or camping and wonder just why the Hell I was coming back to this place. Last night, I was just glad to be home. It was real nice and all. I don't really have a cynical, sarcastic comment to write here. It was just real nice.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

When Bloggers Vacation

What's the protocol for announcing a blogger's (Jengaistas) vacation? Does one:

1. Announce they are going to be gone for a few days, thereby insinuating that anyone would CARE that they are gone for a few days?

2. Not announce they are going to be gone, thereby leaving the blog in the same sort of half-shuttered disrepair shared by about 98.9% of blogs worldwide?

3. Not go on blogcation, and instead take the blog on the road, going to Internet Cafes and writing entries about luggage, airplane peanuts and "people are the same all over the world, but it's the little things...."?

4. Write lame, supposedly witty but actually trite and overly self-important indirect blogcation announcements like this?

Regardless, I'm heading out West for a few days (ala the narrator in All the King's Men). Nothing like the luxuriously desolate stretches of I-40 Westbound to free the soul, center the mind, and listen to lots of XM Radio. I'll wave if I see you on the side of the road....

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Give You That Old-Time Religion, Or Else

Religion plays such an important part in some people's lives...and dammit it absolutely has to play a part in everyone elses, too. Glancing at a few recent stories under the Alito, Libby, Influenza radar we get an idea of just how 17th Century Puritanical things might be getting. The Air Force Academy recently got busted for "aggressive evangelizing" but its recent rules in response to lawsuit don't sit well with Focus on the Family (disclaimer: one should only read "family.org" under the influence of strong sedatives).

Then there's a new cervical cancer treatment that Focus on the Family feels might encourage teen sex. Yeah, it's a cancer treatment. As in stopping cancer. Cancer = bad, teen sex = worse than cancer. Now, to be fair, the question is on whether to make the treatment mandatory, always a scary word, but we are talking about cancer here. Of course with recent figures on the prevalence of oral sex, it would seem that teenagers are already working around the abstinence problem.

Which brings us to Samuel Alito and abortion. I'll leave it to the 17.5 billion other blog experts to weigh the merits of the Alito nomination. All I know is that he's a guy. He's potentially replacing a woman on the Supreme Court. And they say George W. might have a touch of a vengeful streak in him. Old Testament-style vengeance perhaps. No word on women turning into pillars of salt yet.