Wednesday, September 26, 2007

text messaging

I recently got a new cell phone under the auspices of the vast and ever-expanding Verizon empire, and have been very pleased with the service thus far. So you can only imagine my disappointment this evening when I saw this headline in the NY Times: Verizon Rejects Text Messages From Abortion Rights Group. What, exactly, did this mean? In my naivete, I pictured Planned Parenthood obsessively sending text messages to Verizon CEOs or something, but no. Apparently while I wasn't looking, texting has become an increasingly popular way for people to sign up to get regularl updates and reminders and such about various and sundry topics, ranging from the weather, to sports, to politics. And NARAL Pro-Choice America is one of the many groups that use this particular medium, and among the many mobile networks, Verizon alone apparently finds abortion so offensive that they refused to carry NARAL's text messaging program.

Now, I may be relatively new to the world of cell phones, so please correct me if I'm wrong. My understanding is that individuals subscribe to these text messaging programs, that they sign up for them, and are thus choosing to receive the information being sent out. It's not like NARAL would be sending inappropriate messages to young children, or attempting to solicit donations from Concerned Women for America members, right? So what's the problem? And if Verizon can randomly decide to prohibit sending out topic-specific messages en masse to people who asked to receive them, can they also start keeping tabs on the rest of us, picking out individual text messages to crack down on? It just seems so blatantly wrong, not to mention economically stupid. And here I just started a 2-year commitment with these people. Damn.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

more on ahmadinejad

"But it should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas, or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas. It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their voices."
-Lee Bollinger, Columbia University President, 9.24.07

this from Salon: Ahmadinejad, Big Man On Campus
also Bollinger's remarks
also Ahmadinejad's remarks
this from CNN: Ahmadinejad Speaks; Outrage and Controversy Follow
this from the NY Times: Mr. Ahmadinejad Speaks
this from the Times of London: US threats are the real danger to peace, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells New York
this from Time Magazine: Why Ahmadinejad Loves New York
this from the New York Daily News: Grinning Madman Squirms at Columbia
this from Slate: Ahmadinejad's Dangerous Game
this from the New York Post: U. Da Man! Boss Hits Iran Prez With the Ol' College Fry
and lastly, from the Onion: Putting Pressure on Iran

Monday, September 24, 2007

recently watched films

I've been making poor Mako watch movies with me lately, my usual cheerful genre. Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale, a quirky, upsetting, yet oddly beautiful tale of a disintegrating middle-class Brooklyn family in the 1980s, and Stanley Nelson's recent (and self-explanatory) documentary Jonestown: the Life and Death of People's Temple. Both highly recommended, though the latter was almost impossible to sit through, even given my fascination with the horror of Jonestown as a child.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

a hero of mine

This weekend's Times Magazine has a wonderful article about Justice John Paul Stevens, well worth reading.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

controversy on campus

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of the lovely nation of Iran, will be speaking here at good old Columbia in a couple days during his whirlwind trip to New York City to address the United Nations General Assembly. His request to lay a wreath at Ground Zero has already been soundly slapped down.

I'm not quite sure how I feel about all of this, about his speaking here, his request to honor the dead of 9/11, the rejection of said request, the fact that I will have to go through security to get to work next week to protect a man who would probably argue that people such as myself should be in prison. Or executed, what with the feminist tattoo, short hair, and unfortunate tendency to ridicule and condemn religion of all ilks.

I wonder, too, if Saudi Arabian leaders wanted to lay wreaths at Ground Zero, would we let them? The hijackers were not, as far as I know, from Iran, but Ahmadinejad is more publicly offensive, and a part of the Axis of Evil and all, and Saudi Arabia is not, even though most of the hijackers were Saudi Arabian. It's just so much easier to hate Iran, and its strange and sometims funny leader, than it is to hate a country we are dependent on for our oil.

See the article here, which I am pleased to say will be accessible to everyone now that the New York Times has finally given up their annoying online restrictions. As they so modestly put it in their ad campaign promoting their new open-access policy, "Now everyone is entitled to our opinions." Sounds a little like me.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

'Historical fact: people stopped being human in 1913. That was the year Henry Ford put his cars on rollers and made his workers adopt the speed of the assembly line. At first, workers rebelled. They quit in droves, unable to accustom their bodies to the new pace of the age. Since then, however, the adaptation has been passed down: we've all inherited it to some degree, so that we plug right into joysticks and remotes, to repetitive motions of a hundred kinds.

But in 1922 it was still a new thing to be a machine.'

Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

odd exchange

Young man, mid-20s, in a suit, 6:59 Friday evening, hovering near the exit with two well-dressed young women, glancing repeatedly over his shoulder at me as I try to close up the library for the night.

Finally, to me, "You went to Cornell, right?"

"No," I replied.

"Right. I didn't think so," he mumbled, blushing, and scurried out the door, well-dressed young women all a-twitter and fluttering in his wake.

I can't help but wonder who my doppelganger might be, wandering the wilderness of Ithaca.

Monday, September 17, 2007

shout out to nick, or, why i love freaks & geeks

Sam, Neil, & Bill Philosophize

Bill: She's the kind of woman you could cut the cheese in front of.

Sam: Oh yeah, Bill,
that's what love is all about.

Bill: It is! I mean you couldn't be in love with someone, if you couldn't. Think about it.

Neil: That's true. I mean, you have to sleep with your wife every night of your life. If you couldn't blast one in bed, you'd get physically ill!

Sam: Oh come on, guys! You can't fart in front of a woman!

Bill: What do you think you do, get up and run outside every time you have to let one rip? You'd never get any sleep.

Freaks & Geeks, "Carded & Discarded"

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

wednesday, 9.12.07

Somehow in the craziness of work and the smallness of my everyday life, it escaped me that yesterday marked anything more than just another date. I got home last night, realized that I had written about the subway on my lunch break, this day of all days, remembered what in some ways I had forgotten, and cried. I read this week's issue of New York Magazine, which somehow I am still getting from Chris's Grandma Jean after all this time, and there was a story about America's Camp. My friend Maia, who stayed with me for a few days back in August, has been volunteering at America's Camp for the past five years. This is a woman of action, a woman I greatly admire, and I can only imagine the time she spends each summer with these children of the victims of 9/11 as a safe harbor for them, a bastion of sorts.

It is frightening, sometimes, to realize that life goes on, that we move further and further away from experiences that have so deeply shaped us. Maybe it is good, sometimes, to go back to where we were, to remember what ever it was that we were feeling, to realize how far we've come and to ground ourselves again, somehow, in where we are now.

My dear friend Cindy had a baby Monday night, and though I have yet to meet little Helen, I am holding her close to my heart, have been thinking of her and smiling ever since I got the news from John, Cindy's husband and another cherished friend to me.

Again today I am at a loss as to where to begin, at a loss for words, for meaning, in the midst of all this chaos and grief, rage and fear. I ended up staying at Columbia last night even though the subways were running again, even though I had planned to go home. It is easier to be with people right now, to be with people I love, and feels less vulnerable somehow, less exposed to danger. I couldn't sleep very well last night. I feel this incessant need to talk about all that has happened--the chaos, the grief, the rage, the fear, the gruesome terrifying details that are only now beginning to make it all seem real. Chris and Andrew and I went for a long walk last night, didn't get back until after three in the morning. The streets were nearly deserted, vacant, ominous, even for the middle of the night. Empty but for a few of the homeless, a few drunks, a few NYPD clusters standing anxious guard on intermittent corners. There were parking spaces on Broadway, and no traffic. We saw New Jersey State Troopers driving south on Broadway, surrounding flatbeds carrying demolition equipment. I woke up early this morning, left my brother's dorm at 7, ran in to Ritu's Jonathan out on the street, exchanged condolences, words of gratitude that we and ours are in tact. Ran into Chris, we got newspapers, sat on the steps for a little while in the sunshine, read of the attacks, drank juice and ate bagels. I went home to shower, change in to clean clothes, cried again while surfing through the TV stations for new news, something to combat this horror. I came back down to Columbia, met Nick for coffee, talked more. Came in to work. It is another beautiful day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

beloved A train

Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of my dear and beloved A-train, longest subway line (31 miles!) in the great city of New York, cheapest route to JFK Airport ($2!), beginning at the very northern tip of Manhattan at 207th street (former home of a former huge crush of mine back in college days!), terminating all the way out at Far Rockaway (opening scene of overly melodramatic first novel by aforementioned crush!), immortalized in song by none other than Duke Ellington.

As one subway musician so very succinctly put it, "Ain't nothing like the A train."

A train, Ozone Park, Queens, c/o NY Times

Sunday, September 09, 2007

beloved libation

One of my favorite wines, and one that I have brought to many a dinner party over the last couple of years, and will be bringing again this evening, just went on sale at Zachys. Palazzo della Torre. Yum.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

'we're kicking ass' & other choice bon mots

Our illustrious leader's response to an inquiry from Australian Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile about how things are going in Iraq, on his recent sojourn to Sydney. Article here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

poor souter

An interesting snippet in Salon's War Room today about Justice Souter's reponse to Bush v. Gore, back in 2000.

Monday, September 03, 2007

latest obsession

I haven't even seen this yarn in person, but I've managed to fall in love with Fly Designs anyway, cyberwise at least. So if you happen to be in Seattle, check out this line at Little Knits and let me know if they're as gorgeous in real life as they look online.

who knew a body could move like that?

Nate and I were channel surfing the other night and stumbled on a fascinating, and fascinatingly beautiful, news snippet on a relatively new sport, parkour.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

odds & ends VI

I dashed out of work early on Friday with my boss's blessing, caught the subway up to Marble Hill so quickly that I ended up on a 4:39 Metro North train instead of the 5:16, and was happily walking home with Cindy from the train station in Cold Spring by 6:05. Had a lovely time with Cindy and John, and am completely blown away by the fact that the next time I see them, they will be parents. And they seem so ready for it, so calm and assured, it's a wonder to behold. That wee little baby's going to be one of the luckiest babies in the world, in my book.

Their house is within walking distance of a great little yarn store, The Knitting Smith, where I, shockingly enough, spent too much money. But I found some absolutely gorgeous yarn. And I felted something, with Cindy's help and generous use of her washing machine, for the first time. Picture to come at a later date, once I decide whether or not to run it through the washer one more time.

Nick and I were discussing the sad state of current television recently, and sorely lamenting the lack of anything Joss Whedon, and he suggested I give Freaks & Geeks a try. I watched the first couple episodes last night, via Netflix of course, and it's pretty fantastic, at least if the uncomfortable high school awkwardness doesn't make you squirm too much.