March 2005

Tue Mar 01 20:18:29 PST 2005

Could It Be?

Last month I speculated on how the repercussions of the Hariri assignation could end up propelling Syria out of Lebanon.

Since then, we've had a “People Power” movement arise that's already forced the pro-Syrian PM out of office, an extraordinary questioning of the government's policies within Syria (home to one of the world's most repressive governments), and consensus forming that it's only going to get worse for Syria until and unless they get out.

More here.

Tue Mar 01 20:48:45 PST 2005

The R-Word

In Ukraine when bunch of light-skinned people took to the streets to force an unpopular government out of office, it was all over the media. Ditto for back in the 1980s when Solidarnosc came on the scene in Poland.

But when some darker-skinned people in Lebanon attempt to do likewise, it doesn't make the front page and barely makes the papers at all. Oh, sure, there's mentions of US and French denunciations of Syria. But nothing of what the people of Lebanon are doing for themselves.

The net effect is to portray the Lebanese as quasi-children, dependent upon their self-appointed guardians the West for any hope of salvation.

Sat Mar 05 07:09:08 PST 2005

Turning Death Valley National Park Into a Radioactive Waste Sump

This is interesting. Yucca Mountain is drained by the normally dry Amargosa River with empties into Death Valley. One of the selling points of the location is that it's in a closed basin, so any leaks will be “limited&rdquo& in their scope.

Eventually, of course, it will leak. If all goes as planned, it'll leak in tens of thousands of years. But sooner or later it will. Water flows downhill, and you can't get lower than Death Valley. You take it from there.

Sat Mar 05 07:48:08 PST 2005

Friendly Fire

All that comes to mind on reading this is: given how skittish occupation forces shoot first and ask questions later, how many innocent Iraqis have been shot dead like this?

And let me walk out on a limb and make a guess: Italian secret agent Nicola Calipari, who lost his life in the shooting, hails from the southern part of Italy, has black hair, and an olive complexion. I'll just leave it at that.

Sat Mar 05 08:07:52 PST 2005

My Hypocrisy Meter Just Exploded

Upon hearing Monkey Boy pontificate on how Lebanon cannot have free and fair elections unless the occupation ends.

The old adage about complaining about the mote in someone else's eye while ignoring the beam in his own comes to mind. Except in this case they both have beams in their eyes.

And NPR is now covering the “peaceful intifata” in Beirut, though not without adding the condescending observation that the Lebanese waited twenty years before doing it. Well, yes. The Ukrainians waited a number of years under a repressive government, too. Somehow we didn't get that observation interjected into news reports. For the second time today, I suspect skin color has a role to play in something.

Tue Mar 08 08:30:27 PST 2005


Leabanon not uniting behind ending the occupation after all.

Wed Mar 16 23:06:27 PST 2005

Dumbest Trend Award

My Dumbest Trend Award has to go to the whole “metrosexual” garbage. It's bad enough that gay men engage in so much of the same self-oppression that straight women do. Now the disease is being spread to straight men and this is somehow supposed to constitute an improvement?

I. Don't. Think. So.

Look, this whole yuppie-scum fashion-chasing shallowness is one of the things that kept me in the closet for so long. I didn't know exactly what I was, but I knew I had very little in common with the clone boys.

Now, a show where some nice radical feminist lesbians help straight women to ditch the expensive fashions and uncomfortable, deformity-inducing shoes, that I could get into. For bonus points, they could have an episode or two where the dykes help some queer men out with their fashion addictions.

Of course, that kind of advice doesn't exactly prime the supply-and-demand economy by stimulating the demand for unnecessary items with a supply of misleading propaganda, so fat chance of ever seeing such a program on the capitalist media.

And not only that, Johnny Damon looked a lot cuter before the stupid queens on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” messed with his look.

Mon Mar 21 18:59:09 PST 2005

SoCal, Whoah …

Got an email from a recruiter in Westlake Village, CA (near Thousand Oaks). The company he's recruiting for sure sounds prosperous enough, but the location sounds frighteningly bourgeois and plastic. I'm semi-desperate at this stage, so I did put lots of areas down on my Monster.COM resume posting as possible relocation areas, including Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

But am I that desperate? I'm inclined to think not. Perhaps if it was in Ventura proper I'd think about it. But Thousand Jokes (as one long time Usenet poster calls it) is just a little to close to LA-LA-land for my tastes. I'd have to commute out of the smog belt to at least Camarillo. Thinking back, I remember getting stuck in rush-hour traffic on US 101 near the Conejo Grade about twenty years ago. It could have only gotten worse in the intervening two decades. Plus, I hate driving and Camarillo sounds like it has nothing to offer in the way of interesting housing stock or neighborhoods.

And, it's probably unlikely to pay enough. They're apparently focusing on recruiting from out-of-area, which can mean they're looking for dupes who don't know what they're getting into in terms of cost-of-living. Word of advice: never take a job in coastal California without at least doing some shopping for housing. Not saying “don't,” just saying “look before you leap.”

All in all, I think I'm better off being picky for now. If some unanticipated factor comes up making it really attractive, I'm open to it. But offhand I can't think of one. And it's only one day after putting my new résumé on the Web. There will be other offers, hopefully local ones, maybe ones from SF or Seattle.

Wed Mar 23 17:56:42 PST 2005

At Last

Since aggressively posting my résumé to all sorts of places, and broadening my job search to places other than Portland (see below), I've gotten replies from places that are not on my short list of places I'd prefer to live in. This afternoon, I get an e-mail from a very interesting non-profit in San Francisco. Ahhh, my first short-list match.

Big if is that it's a non-profit in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country (scroll up a little and read what I wrote about relocating to coastal California), i.e. will it pay enough? It just might; another offer of theirs mentioned eligibility for housing in the Presidio. That would be nice; walk to work and live in a neighborhood that has something other than concrete and buildings. The other big issue I have with SF is that (despite the scenic location) it's for the most part barren and devoid of greenery. It's an apostasy to say so to any diehard San Franciscan, but all things being equal I'd actually prefer to live in Oakland or Berkeley. The East Bay has a much more fertile soil and tree-friendly climate and it shows. The Presidio is about the only neighborhood that I could think of living in in SF proper. Even then, there's the monotonous weather to contend with (fog and wind, for months on end, blah).

But, a little perspective here. Despite its many problems, I still have to concede that the Bay Area is a more attractive place than most of the country. I mean, Boise? Salt Lake City? Phoenix? Atlanta? No offense to anyone who lives there and enjoys it, but I couldn't fathom living in anywhere dominated by cultural conservatives who insist I as a queer man stay in the closet, or dominated by brutal hot summers and/or viciously cold winters. And an eviscerated and withering bohemian scene is better than no such scene at all.

Also, I have to concede that Portland isn't exactly what I thought it was. I can't downshift to non-high-tech work here because nobody wants to hire ex-techies; they don't believe I'm serious about giving up the high pay. I can't find high tech work other than sysadmin (which I'm absolutely, totally, completely burned out on) here. The grass pollen season is hell. Yes, the housing is (by West Coast standards) cheap. But the issue isn't raw price, the issue is affordability. An apartment in the Bay Area that (expensive though it may be) I can afford because I can find a job I'm motivated to do well at is more affordable than a condo in Portland which I can't afford because I can't find any such job.

Wed Mar 23 18:23:25 PST 2005

The Other Big If

… is whether I'll actually do something other than completely bomb the interview. Without fail, every job at a place that seems really attractive to work at — every single one — I've never even been called for an interview. Maybe the fact that they're actually willing to phone-interview me means the long ugly losing streak is over. Maybe. It would be nice. But I ain't holding my breath.

Wed Mar 23 19:32:37 PST 2005

Racist Liberals

While on the subject of Bay Area communities, it's interesting to relate a little story about the racist beliefs so many liberals harbor. When I moved to the Bay Area, it was at the height of the boom. At the time, I was much more into experiencing living in the inner city, and San Francisco definitely had its appeal to me. But the housing situation was impossible. Basically, there wasn't any. Any vacant apartment immediately had twenty or so prospective tenants competing for it. New arrivals typically spent months living on sofas in the living rooms of co-workers before they found housing.

After one day of futile searching, I decided to take BART to Berkeley, rent a bicycle for the day, and start exploring the East Bay. Working my way south, I discovered downtown Oakland and the close-in neighborhoods surrounding Lake Merritt around early afternoon. I started jotting down phone numbers from apartment directories and calling landlords. Within twenty-four hours, I had a choice of apartments to decide from. A small set, but a set nonetheless. And all the poor saps across the bay were sofa-surfing for months.

The funny thing happened after I started work. A certain fraction of people expressed astonishment that I'd actually (gasp!) rented an apartment in Oakland. Actually, it happened before then: my parents freaked when they heard what city my new home was in, too. When they'd finally see my neighborhood, astonishment would be expressed that ohmygosh, there can actually be such things as nice neighborhoods in a majority-minority city.

As for the “bad” neighborhoods, let me tell you a true story. For exercise, I often decided to ride my bicycle as much as possible and BART as little as possible. That meant only taking BART from West Oakland to Embarcadero. That's right, West Oakland, the canonical “ghetto” neighborhood, the birthplace of the Black Panthers. Never had an iota of trouble, even when I'd be riding through there at 11 PM. Not once.

After I had been living in Oakland for nearly a year and still hadn't been mugged, some of the “you moved where?!?” crowd then changed their tune a bit and said that the only reason I hadn't been sent to the hospital by a criminal was that I lived in an unusually good neighborhood. I'd then counter with stories of my regular late-night trips through West Oakland. They simply never believed me. Well, my parents did, but nobody else.

The amazing thing is that most of these doubters considered themselves politically progressive and enlightened. Yet they just couldn't accept hard evidence that all the media noise about black criminals preying on random whites is, well, mostly noise. And noise inspired by some of the ugliest emotions in the human heart. It has no basis in fact. The black crime problem is between rival gangs fighting for territory. Most murder victims know their killer. If you're passing through and look like you obviously don't live in the neighborhood, the gang bangers consider you part of the scenery.

And most people — the vast majority — in West Oakland are not gangsters. They're honest working-class folks just trying to make a living in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in the country. Let's just go back to the Loma Prieta Earthquake and the Cypress Freeway collapse. What happened? No looting, no chaos. West Oaklanders came out to help rescue the (mostly white and well-off) commuters who were trapped in the collapsed structure. Just like people anywhere else would have done.

If you're looking for the ethnic group that most commonly preys on people just because their skin color marks them as out-of-place, that would be whites. If you're looking for the ethnic group that's most often the victim of such acts of racism, that would be blacks.

A young black man lost in an upscale white suburb is in more danger of being assaulted or killed than a white person lost in a low-income black neighborhood. Ask a black friend about his or her interactions with cops in majority-white areas sometime. And if you have no black friends to ask, reflect on why that's so.

Thu Mar 24 17:13:02 PST 2005

Losing Streak Over?

I'm beginning to wonder. Because I didn't bomb the phone interview after all. Only time will tell for sure.

Not to mention that I should be careful of what I wish for because it just might come true.

Thu Mar 24 21:32:04 PST 2005

Ford Salesman Drives a Chevy

This is interesting. Actually can't completely blame them. Craigslist is a major techie job source. I know I'm looking at Seattle and San Francisco craigslist posts and not even bothering with the dailies of record in either city. Or, for that matter, bothering with the Oregonian for local jobs. There's enough to keep me busy on Craigslist and in my experience I get a better ratio of close matches on Craigslist than in the want ads.

Fri Mar 25 11:45:53 PST 2005

Do They Really “Want” Work?

That's my first question upon reading this article titled More seniors want work; more employers want seniors.

“Want” is a very subjective, conditional, and pliant concept. Seniors may indeed want to work more than they want to eat dog food and live in a roach-infested welfare hotel. But they may want a real, dignified retirement without the pressure of holding a job even more.

Speaking from experience, I know I want to work in retail sales more than I want to be unemployed. But my college degree works against me; people see it and assume there's no way I'm really interested in giving up all that income. Such is the assumption in our society that the only thing anyone could ever be interested in is more money. I'd much rather escape the trap of being a systems administrator, and as I live simply I can easily afford the cut in pay.

More than likely, both Mr. Benzera and his unemployed, degree-holding son have similar sentiments; both would doubtless prefer that the son and not the father be the one working.

For that matter, I don't particularly want to leave Portland, either. It's just that I also don't want my job options limited to more sysadmin work, and I don't want to be subjected to a month-long grass pollen allergy hell each year. And all available evidence suggests that those wants are mutually exclusive.

Sat Mar 26 07:12:50 PST 2005

Corporate Media is a Disease

That became just so abundantly clear this morning when I listened to ABC Radio News.

The contents (such as they were) were a detailed update on the Terri Schaivo case, a report on how Martha Stewart dislikes her monitoring legband, an update on the status a few other Hollywood celebrities, a report on the Pope's health, and a report on Prince Rainier's health. The Martha Stewart and Terri Schaivo reports were by far the most detailed, especially the latter.

Ahh, yes, Schaivo. If there's any better example of a non-news item that's being endlessly repeated in order to distract human sheep from thinking about real news, I can't think of one. As emotional and heart-wrenching as the debate over the best course of action must be for Schaivo's friends and relatives, let's face it: she's still just one individual.

Meanwhile, the misrule of the Establishment kills millions as a result of poverty and wars. And you can bet that if folks are thinking and talking about Schaivo, then they're probably not thinking and talking as much about poverty of the illegal war of imperialist aggression in Iraq.

Any news organization that wastes much time on Schaivo has immediately proved its uselessness as a serious news source. And as for Congress and the rest of the Federal government, any governance structure that obsesses itself with such non-issues while at the same time failing to address real issues it's responsible for has just demonstrated its illegitimacy.

Sun Mar 27 07:58:13 PST 2005


It seems that the weather has finally returned to normal. After a fortnight of getting increasingly rainier, the drought weather pattern seems to have dissipated (or so I hope). Over 1.6 inches of rain has fallen in the last 24 hours, and today is the first time in memory that the forecast has had the usually familiar wet-season wording “rain, heavy at times.”

It's way too late to make up the precipitation deficit caused by months of abnormal dryness, but every little bit helps at least make the drought less severe.

Mon Mar 28 20:30:26 PST 2005

Fun with Astrology

This has got to be one of the best astrology-related sites put there. I answered the questions as truthfully as possible (difficult, as I found about half of them to be neither true nor false), and the results were:

You are 47% Aquarius.
Out of 57222 people the average score was 69%.

Not a terribly impressive endorsement of astrology. As if I'm surprised.

Mon Mar 28 20:52:32 PST 2005

And More Rain

Nearly three inches worth in three days, and more forecast. March is actually going to end up being the first month in a long while with above-average rainfall, almost all of it in the last few days. It's actually starting to feel like Oregon instead of California.

Tue Mar 29 17:37:19 PST 2005

Not Over

Looks like my losing streak isn't over after all. After noises of interest during last week's phone interview, no contact the first two days of this one, and no response to yesterday's follow-up e-mail.

On the plus side, it means my trip to Alpha Farm is taking place as planned. I leave tomorrow.

Wed Mar 30 10:38:13 PST 2005

All Together Now: The You-Know-Who Story is Not Newsworthy!

And what's worse, even “progressive” sources such as Portland Indymedia and Air America Radio are obsessed with it. Just goes to show how un-liberal and un-leftist the media really are, and how the propaganda of the Establishment wields so much power even over many who claim to oppose it.

And just how much work has to be done to rectify these situations.

Wed Mar 30 10:47:25 PST 2005



Oh well, it makes it easy to recognize such messages as the unwanted spam they are.

Wed Mar 30 10:49:38 PST 2005

And That's All (for Now)

Time to get back to preparing for the trip to Alpha Farm.

On the job front, it appears that the potential job in San Francisco is still very much a possibility. They're just moving a little slower than they had planned on.

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Last updated: Tue Sep 13 16:14:09 PDT 2011