Asscroft's posthumous atonement
Wednesday, December 3 2003
In the late morning I headed off with Gretchen to the Rosendale bus station so she could ride into New York City. We left early so we could have a meal of tempeh reubens at the notoriously slow Rosendale Café. We were there at a slow part of the day and were the only customers. The guy who waited on us had the deliberately understated, vaguely-scruffy quality of an early 21st Century hipster. (I unknowingly pioneered that look in high school - circa 1984 - when I would have been more fashionable with a mullet and a pastel green jacket.) The café played a whole CD of Belle and Sebastian before moving on to something that sounded like the Clash by way of Jane's Addiction. It was a wee bit aggressive for this time of day in a little village restaurant, and it made me wonder if they would have played Phil Collins had our hair been grey (or, in my case, greyer).
The Rosendale bus stop is also a hardware store, and Gretchen and I passed some time clowning around in the aisles before buying a large ice scraper. Gretchen was amazed by the amount of shelf space dedicated only to the workings of flush toilets.
On the way home, I dropped off two computers at the stone house where the Stone House People live. I'd had the machines overnight, replacing a burned-out power supply in one and getting ethernet capability working in the other. When I say "burned out," I mean that when I'd opened up the power supply, I'd immediately seen the charred remains of several diodes. I suppose I could have tried replacing them, but they'd probably been destroyed by a short in the coils of a hard-to-replace/harder-to-diagnose transformer. When diagnosing computer trouble, finding fire damage is always a relief, because it immediately closes the book on the viability of whatever was damaged. There is no hope for electronics after smoke gushes forth. However, in the absence of damage I can see, I'm tempted to spend considerable time trying to make things work again. Thankfully for me, dead electronics show visual evidence of their inoperability more than half the time, although sometimes you have to look carefully to find it. I've begun to notice that a large proportion of the trouble with electronic circuits is a consequence of shorts in the coils of electromagnetic devices.
Later I went with the dogs on an errand to deposit checks, buy some more copper fittings, and try yet again to track down the ever-elusive disposable digital camera. I'd read in several places that they were available at Walgreens, but I couldn't find any at the brand new Walgreens in Uptown Kingston.
On the way home, Sally, Eleanor and I were all listening to All Things Considered and we heard about one of the "kingpins" of the "Lackawanna Six" being sentenced to ten years in federal prison. Ten years is a long time, and there's no parole in the federal system. His crimes? He'd traveled to Afghanistan, met Osama bin Laden, and received training in the use of constitutionally-protected firearms. That's all they had on him, and they probably tortured him into admitting that much. Personally, I think it's idiotic and dull to hang out with the likes of Osama bin Laden, but how is it a crime? There are pictures of Donald Rumsfeld shaking Saddam Hussein's hand (the clean one) even as he gassed the Kurds, yet Rummy is nowhere near the hoosegow. Harsh sentences for things that are not crimes trivialize the "war on terrorism" and erode our justice system. It's the sort of governmental misbehavior we use to complain at the Soviets about back when they were the Evil Empire (and Osama bin Laden was taxpayer-funded freedom fighter). It was one of the major things that made the Soviets evil. Now, though, it's common practice for our government to sample all the rich history of evil and make it into something uniquely 21st Century American, creating an artifice simultaneously post-modern and antediluvian.
As usual, the medieval troglodyte John Ashcroft was out front and center taking all the credit for this travesty.
The only way The Future will ever be able to come to terms with Ashcroft's anti-democratic legacy will be for him to make amends in a commensurately medieval manner. I envision a special edition of the Bill of Rights printed on a parchment made from his hide (after he retires in disgrace and dies a natural death, explicitly leaving his pelt as atonement, of course). In a gesture of magnanimity, the parchment can be arranged such that his dessicated, never-once-self-abused package serves as a bullet in front of the Second Amendment, giving it the emphasis he considers its due.
This evening I had a huge block of time all to myself, but I nonetheless had difficulty finding any productive way to fill it. Instead I watched junk television, starting with a televised Pearl Jam concert. The music they played was mostly new stuff and I rather enjoyed it, especially when I recognized atonal guitar licks from late-60s Pink Floyd. But Eddie Vedder is looking old, and, without the mop of hair he had in his early career, his stage moves are almost as embarrassing as Robert Pollard's! Then again - I'm almost as old as Eddie myself.
Later I sat through an entire episode of the commercial-choked reality show The Simple Life. The prospect of vapid blonde heiresses engaging in obviously-staged antics in rural Arkansas had potential, but it ended up being more dull than infuriating. Furthermore, I found the unnatural patterning of Paris Hilton's robotically-instilled facial suntan almost as disturbing as her... oh, where do I begin?
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