I haven't been to London since I was in college and my team went there for a holiday tournament. I have flash-memories, then, of a gym where they served lamb burgers and beer, and where fans gambled on the games. They took odds, which meant that when our team was winning by too many points, our fans, who had flown over with us, would instantly turn against us. I recall shooting a free throw and thinking how odd it was that the orange section was yelling for me to miss. More flashes include posting up against very strong russian women, going on a creepy Jack the Ripper tour, wearing cool eye masks and drinking champagne on new year's eve, and taking my teammates to the graves of a few authors in my Norton Anthology.
Heading back there today to hang with KM (JM's sister) for a few days. I've been working pretty hard to clear the time to go, and last night I managed to finish the last (i think!) of pressing things. When I get back, I'll flip the calendar to the new month, and we all know what that means.
JM and I have recently taken to the album "Feed the Animals," a wild mash up by a guy who calls himself Girl Talk. The music he samples is so disparate and from such distinct moments that it can invoke a clanky mash up of memories if you're not careful. He uses this music without permission of course, and the New York Times has called him "a law suit waiting to happen." Say what you will about this Pittsburgher with an engineering degree from CMU, he has a tremendous ear. He and his saran wrap-covered laptop are coming to town soon, but alas, the show is sold out. (It's okay, I may have averted a seizure.) Oh! And his videos are cool too. Here's a sample (snort), in which my grad and undergrad years are laid right next to each other:
And here he is at work.
And finally, this one is my favorite song on the album, quite possibly because of Rich Boy ("candy red lollipop" ) flipping into some Rod Stewart:
I do not pretend to grasp the full complexity of the bailout plan that the President is putting before Congress this week, but when Paul Krugman and Newt Gingrich both agreed it is a bad idea (one guess as to which one calls this corporate welfare), I started doing some digging. JM recommended--and now I do too--reading the plan proposed by Vermont senator and electric car enthusiast Bernie Sanders so that we can imagine other options besides just handing over at least SEVEN HUNDRED BILLION dollars so that these megacompanies can keep making money and perhaps keep the economy from crashing even worse than it already has. Now, don't get me wrong, I think something probably does need to be done. How's about attaching some strings? Even little old student loans have to be paid back with a bit of interest.
Neither of the presidential candidates thinks this package as it stands is a good idea, though both say something has to be done (NYT covers both of their perspectives here). Secretary Paulson may well be just another in a long line of questionable appointments made by Bush, or maybe the problem is that there's no clear direction to point our trembly fingers. Markets can be seen as agentless that way, and it's a little too convenient.
For now, I have vowed not to even open the next few quarters' worth of TIAA-CREF statments, and I've promised at least one senior colleague that I'll push his wheelchair into his classroom for him in 25 years, since he won't be able to retire, like, ever. It's all quite stressful to even fathom. One wonders how many wall street execs have bought stock in GlaxoSmithKline, the company that makes Tums.
Having sat around a table with the same 14 people for about 14 hours today, I can say with confidence that the good members of the Rhetoric Society of America elected some excellent leaders to their Board of Directors--great listeners, innovative thinkers, and generally good-humored folk.
For all the scrutiny Michelle Obama has gotten, Cindy McCain has gotten very little. Last night I stayed up past my bedtime reading last week's New Yorker article by Adrian Levy about Cindy McCain's role in the campaign, and the article shows remarkable coherence with the McCain campaign's month of lies. Even Fox News and Karl Rove agree that the distortions are spinning out of control.
By the lights of the campaign's outrageous accounts of Obama policies, Cindy McCain's lies seem harmless, ranging from her well-known but little-discussed addiction to prescription drugs in the early nineties, to her "not telling" John McCain about the Bangladeshi baby she brought back from an orphanage, to her similarly not telling John McCain about her taking flight lessons and buying an airplane (an airplane, people). To be sure, these can be passed off as subversive, housewife-style deception. Such deception nevertheless speaks volumes, in my view, of the husband who needs to be deceived because he is inflexible, and the whole picture is a bit unsettling.
Perhaps the most telling of lies is the double-lie that took place when the two met. According to Levy,
she was twenty-four when she met John McCain at the cocktail party in Honolulu, but she told him that she was twenty-seven. McCain claimed to be thirty-seven; he was in fact forty-two. Cindy McCain giggled as she explained that they did not fess up until their marriage announcement was published in the local newspaper. 'We started our marriage on a tissue of lies,' she said with a smile . . .
So what we have here is the case of cumulative lying. Instead of being ten years apart, which their little fibs suggest, they are in fact eighteen years apart. The article also goes into the other lie that launched their relationship, McCain's lie about his marital status.
See now me? I don't give a shit about people's age differences, and people in bad relationships also sometimes meet other people at awkward times, so I say whatever.* There are more dire reasons to fear McCain's ascension, like, for example, what he and Palin are planning to do to health insurance. What I can't understand is the willingness on the part of conservatives to ignore these family-based lies, to let them be stamped out by the powerful narrative of McCain's P.O.W. years.
Sigh. All these lies. They kind of take me back:
*of course a rant ought to be inserted here about the condition of McCain's first wife when he left her. I mean, compassion this man does not appear to have.
I signed on email this morning and received some wonderful news about a successful retention effort in one of my departments and was all euphoric--how awesome it is to be able to keep good colleagues!--and then, still smiling, I signed on to gmail, where E had forwarded a note about the brilliant writer David Foster Wallace, who hanged himself Friday night. How distressing, how deeply sad.
And now I have to return to reading the Gorgias, where arguments over good and bad and pleasure and pain never get settled, despite the fact that most of the interlocutors recognize what is right when they see it, and what hurts when they feel it.