Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

We put our dog to sleep today.

This is my eulogy to a shepherd/retriever mix named Mahogany (so named for practically no reason at all, since she wasn’t mahogany colored—we literally couldn’t think of a name for her and this was the first one that was suggested by my sister after a marathon naming session that didn’t make any of us retch). She was getting on in years, had lost much of her hearing and was the second dog in a row that we owned that had Cushing’s Syndrome. But she was in our lives since I was fifteen, which is about half of my life, and she meant a lot to me.

When she was younger, she was a terror. We got her at about eight weeks, the day after Christmas of 1994, and she was adorable and fuzzy and couldn’t go the whole night without having to go out and pee. Somebody had to sleep with her in the back room of our house so that we could take her outside when she needed to. She was terribly submissive, and had a knack for peeing all over the floor when somebody new came into the house. And if somebody showed up in our driveway, she would go crazy, but not because she wanted to hurt them. It was more of a “OMIGOD THERE ARE PEOPLE THIS IS GREAT I LOVE NEW PEOPLE I WONDER IF THEY WILL PLAY WITH ME” kind of thing. Funny that nobody else but us saw it that way, though.

Since then, she was kind of a fixture in my life. I’d come back to my parents’ house for a weekend and she’d be there at the door, as excited to see me as if I had simply gone away for the day and was getting home.

Even as she got older—and her age really started to show—she would still have puppy moments. Though the fur under her chin started turning gray at the young age of two or three, she still loved to go outside and run like there was no tomorrow. And she loved playing in the snow, right up until the end. Somehow, she never really grasped the concept of how large she was. It was always funny to see a sixty-five pound dog try to climb into somebody’s lap while they sat in a recliner. And God save you if she ever climbed on a bed while you were laying on it: your face was inevitably doomed to a quite literal tongue-lashing from the dog, which would only let up once you had capitulated that she was, indeed, the winner.

My mother told me earlier this week that she was going to be put down. I’m thankful that my job affords me the ability to work from any location, because I decided quite fast that I would drive up so I could see her again and say goodbye. And this morning, at nine o’clock, we made the trip to the vet’s to put her to rest.

The entire process took only about two minutes. It’s not the first time I’d seen a family member die—no, this was in fact the third time I’d had the privilege. The vet pushed what seemed to be an absurd amount of anesthetic through a syringe, and quite soon, the pup’s breathing slowed and stopped.

She died with her eyes open. I had thought she would drift off to sleep, but I guess it happened too quickly for even that.

In a way, getting to say goodbye to my dog makes me feel a little better about not being able to say goodbye to my grandmother. The frustration of having one family member pass on so fast is tempered a little bit by the ability to show the other one how much I loved them both. It’s a small consolation, but it is one, at least.

My parents say they probably won’t get another dog for a while. The last time we had to put a dog down, it was about six months before we all decided it was time. Now that there isn’t a whole house full of kids to help take care of it, I wonder if it might not be a little while longer, if at all, before they get another. But this family has always had a dog in it, and I can’t imagine it without one in the house to help keep the cats company.

I just hope that if they do get a new one, it’s not something small. I wouldn’t want to accidentally step on it.


October 23, 1994 — February 20, 2009

You were loved and you will be missed by all—even by those who thought you were trying to eat them.


Aaron Sorkin, in writing the first-season finale to The West Wing, gave these words to President Bartlet to say:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” they said. “That all men are created equal.”

Strange as it may seem, that was the first time in history that anyone had ever bothered to write that down.

Decisions are made by those who show up.

If you believe in a better world, if you want your voice to be heard, then do not even consider staying home on Tuesday.

I’m not going to say that it doesn’t matter who you vote for—because I believe it does matter—but to quote another character from The West Wing: “No matter who you vote for, make sure you vote.”

Andrew’s Big Fat Straight Wedding

Sometimes I wonder if I should treat this blog more like, well, a blog. I read so many great articles during the day and I think about sharing them with people, but I never bother linking them on this site.

I have to share this, though: Andrew Sullivan wrote a great article for the Atlantic that attempts to describe how “straight” the concept of gay marriage has become, especially for people of my generation and generations that have come after mine.

My favorite (and rather moving) part:

It happened first when we told our families and friends of our intentions. Suddenly, they had a vocabulary to describe and understand our relationship. I was no longer my partner’s “friend” or “boyfriend”; I was his fiancĂ©. Suddenly, everyone involved themselves in our love. They asked how I had proposed; they inquired when the wedding would be; my straight friends made jokes about marriage that simply included me as one of them. At that first post-engagement Christmas with my in-laws, I felt something shift. They had always been welcoming and supportive. But now I was family. I felt an end—a sudden, fateful end—to an emotional displacement I had experienced since childhood.

and this:

Ours was not, we realized, a different institution, after all, and we were not different kinds of people. In the doing of it, it was the same as my siste’s wedding and we were the same as my sister and brother-in-law. The strange, bewildering emotions of the moment, the cake and reception, the distracted children and weeping mothers, the morning’s butterflies and the night’s drunkenness: this was not a gay marriage; it was a marriage.

I sure as hell hope that if I ever have children or grandchildren, by the time I do they won’t even understand the concept of a difference between straight marriage and gay marriage. We can all hope.

Because obviously, they aren’t making enough money.

I just read a story on Slashdot that states that the RIAA is requesting that royalties given to recording artists actually be lowered.

Do you ever have that moment where you read something that makes the least amount of sense ever, and your brain actually has to reboot before you can continue? Yeah, I totally had that happen to me just after reading that story.

The argument made by the RIAA is that the royalties should be lowered “for use of lyrics and melodies in applications like cell phone ring tones and other digital recordings.” So in other words, they’re saying that the use of things like ringtones shouldn’t make as much for the artists—presumably the argument is that ringtones, being shorter, don’t warrant the same royalty as a full-length song.

I can’t even begin to articulate how downright awful this is on the part of the RIAA. As the article states, “in the past week the RIAA has made it quite clear whose profits the group is truly out to defend, and it’s certainly not the artists who actually make the music.” As if it wasn’t obvious in the past, it certainly is obvious now that the RIAA has absolutely no desire to protect the interests of the recording artists and is out for only one client—its record labels. The funny thing is that they aren’t even pretending here: they’re stating that the royalties need to be lowered because the labels aren’t making as much as they could be.

It’s not even like the labels aren’t still making money hand over fist. I’ve always wondered how on earth they expect us to feel sympathy for them because they aren’t making as much money as they used to make. Excuse me while I cry a river for you because you only made six hundred million instead of seven hundred million this year.

Time for a Paradigm Shift?

I’m watching these election results as they process and I have to ask this question:

Is it time for a paradigm shift?

It would be amazing to see both houses of Congress shift in power tonight. I don’t even want to begin tempting the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing, so I’m not going to try saying anything at all in terms of future events. But what I will say is that I’m seriously hoping.

Settling In / 911 Idiocy / I AM

Three weeks that I’ve been in my new apartment and I still don’t quite feel at home yet. It kind of dawned on me yesterday that I actually live in this new place. I think now that that’s kind of gotten through my head, I can really start making the place my own. First up is to get the stuff out of her that still needs to get out of here, like the entertainment center that’s still in pieces (need to find out if I can just drop the pieces on the street on trash day or if I need to take them to a dump or something) and the love seat that I really just don’t have the space for. Then I can finish getting unpacked and really get comfortable in this place.

Having 12-foot ceilings is really nice, too, but it poses a wall space problem—the problem being, of course, that I have to find something to fill them. I’ve been thinking that I could take some of my own photography and put it up in large-format prints (poster size, perhaps), but part of me says that it’s a bit conceited to do that and part of me realizes that in order to do that, I have to actually go take photos in order to get them printed and put up on the walls.

In other fronts: I went back to Plymouth last weekend to perform in a 9/11 Memorial concert. A bunch of alums and community members did a performance of Mozart’s Requiem, and the orchestra debuted a new piece by my former composition professor that was based on a poem written by another faculty member. It just blew me away.

Speaking of 9/11… At first I was going to write something about the anniversary, but I realized, as we got closer to the date, and especially after I did the concert, that I really didn’t know what to feel about it. I was confused, hurt, angry, morose, and just plain annoyed at everything. The politicization, the pseudo-patriotism, everything about it just kinda made me sick. What drove me over the edge, though, was hearing the letters to NPR’s Morning Edition this past week. I know that NPR can choose to run whichever letters it wants to, and so to some degree even this was politicized, but some of these letters just made me literally sick to my stomach. To suggest that a media outlet is committing sedition by running a segment about Muslims in America on the anniversary of September 11th is the absolute height of idiocy.

The close of this very strange, unique week was the I AM festival here in New London. One of the myriad of benefits of living in this very interesting city is that I get to be exposed to its rather large and thriving indie music scene. The I AM festival is New London’s own little indie music festival. I only caught the tail end of it (having completely forgotten about it until I was eating dinner), but I managed to make it down to the docks in order to catch a couple of bands, then heading to the after-party at a local club and catching another couple bands. Some of the stuff I heard was flat-out amazing, whereas other bits were, well, less amazing. All in all, though, it was a great way to close out the week, especially because my job has been asking us to put in extra hours, so I feel the need to kick back and relax with a little more force than normal during these times.

Dubyah gets a smackdown from the founding fathers

George Washington… Come on, you can do it. You know you want to.

“Executive” Privilege? Sounds more like Monarchal Privilege.

Vice President Says He Has Authority to Declassify Items

Apparently, Mr. Cheney thinks that he can retroactively declassify something. In order words, what Lewis Libby did in leaking CIA agent Valerie Plame’s name to the press wasn’t illegal because he says that it wasn’t—even though it’s now years later. Why? Executive Privilege.

I just have to question if the Supreme Court would give this the absolute smackdown that it deserves. Part of me wants to trust that even the most hardline conservatives on the court would see this for the ridiculous asshattery that it is.

Is it just me, or does it seem like the Bush administration isn’t even trying to cover it up anymore? It’s almost like they know that people know that they’re doing things illegally and as a result they’re not even trying to pretend like they’re doing anything else. And yet nobody’s doing anything about it because we’re so damned apathetic. Even the staunchest Republican would clamor for Congressional hearings if his constituency demanded it and made it clear that there wouldn’t be a re-election in store this year. But since nobody’s bothering to actually be bothered by this, nothing’s being done.

And I guess that’s what saddens me the most.

Jon Stewart to host the Oscars?

Stewart to host this year’s Academy Awards ceremony

I’m so watching this year’s Oscars.

My favorite part of the whole article is the comments at the bottom. It’s amazing how ridiculous people can get over this stuff.

FBI can bite me.

From the article:

“[The] clearest reading of the pronouncement is that some unelected bureaucrats at the commission have decreeed that Americans don’t have the right to use software such as Skype or PGPfone if it doesn’t support mandatory backdoors for wiretapping.”

Excuse me? We have just as much right to protect ourselves from the government as we do from each other. The FBI doesn’t need to know what I’m sending in my emails or saying over a chat window. They’ve hated the idea of encryption that they can’t break ever since it came out, and now they’re going to try and do something about it.

The thing that I think is funny is this: What about open sourced software? If it has to have mandatory backdoors for the FBI, then wouldn’t it kind of cause problems if any ol’ person could read the code and know how the FBI does its wiretapping? It means that anybody who could read a little code would be able to tap into my communications.

Real smart.

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