"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Voted Early Yesterday

Check the Cali voter guide, y'all.

In a voluntary open-sourcing of the great tradition of secret balloting, here's how I voted:

  • Dem Primary: Obama. It's an easy call w/Edwards out. I won't feel terrible if Sen. Clinton pulls it out, but I dislike the dynastic aspects of her campaign, and have more peer-weight pulling me towards Barack. California is a showdown state for the two of them, so I'm happy to lend my weight to the cause of a Black President.
  • Prop 91 (Transportation Funding): No. This is apparently a vestigital ballot measure with it's original supporters saysing it's no longer necessary as law.
  • Prop 92 (Community College Funding): Yes. The upcoming demographics for California project rising college-age population. Keeping community colleges both well-funded and affordable is especially important over the next 10 to 20 years. They fill a really important part in the educational spectrum, and frankly I'd like to see more ambitious uses of CC facilities and institutions.
  • Prop 93 ("Term Limits"): No. As the quotes indicate, I don't believe this is about term limits. It's a technical change to existing term-limit law that on the surface makes them tougher, but in practice would expand the terms of many incumbent state assembly/senate members, who are the ones who put it on the ballot.
  • Props 94 - 97 (Indian Gaming Agreements): Yes. I believe there is spiritual irony and justice in the ability for Native peoples to swindle the white man with the benefit of the one-armed bandit. More power to them.

The little election office over in Eureka is a pretty quaint and friendly little place, and the workers there are very nice and accommodating. As a first-time early-voter, I have to say the whole thing was pretty swell.

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We Must Love

My friend Sarah is on her way to India. She's among the finest of the people I've gotten to know fairly well since moving up to these parts, and an amazingly talented artist. We have a few of her pieces around the house, really great paintings, and honestly one of the main things that set the mood and made me really want to live here.

Now she has some of her work online too:

Paintings By Sarah Finestone.

I really love Sarah's art. It strikes such a great balance between portrait and pastiche, symbols and subjects. That you can see my friends and roommates in some of them probably makes it more exciting for me personally, but I feel that she's really in a good spot stylistically, and hopefully will go places with her creative endeavors.

If I were a rich man I would be a patron. Maybe someday I will!

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Fatigue, Or, Why I Didn't Bother Watching The State of the Union

The upside of human-animal hybrids
Those were what I called our "salad days."

As one commentator for this Mike Lux post put it, "soaring rhetoric, like most anything else Bush touched, is dead for me for a while." And lately it hasn't even been soaring.

George W. Bush is headed to history's footlocker as possibly the most unpopular president since measuring popularity was invented. He doesn't even have a "Nixon goes to China" to pin on his legacy, just a shitty debt-based economy, a brutal and senseless war/occupation, and a wave of fraud, indictments, and political malpractice that's only going to smell worse as time ripens the pile.

So I didn't really have any interest in watching the State of the Union. G-dubs is haggard and on the defensive. His popularity has been so low for so long, he can't even help out his peeps except by steering clear and trying to keep his stink off 'em. There would be no substantive announcements, and with his lack of political zazz, no entertaining shout outs warning us of "Human-Animal Hybrids" or the like.

Indeed, overall the reviews are tepid and our first-drafters of history seem eager to pass on by this guy, get back to covering the race to replace. People just don't care anymore, not even those of us who many thought were "haters." The Bush administration seems ready to fold up shop with a whimper, which is better than a bang given their predilections, I suppose.

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The Crud, The Snow, The Life

Not much going on 'round here. I have become infested with the Humboldt County Crud, which will hopefully pass soon. On the upside its a winter wonderland here (rare snow) and we replaced our broken dishwasher, raising the Westhaven standard of living by 3.35 points in a single afternoon.

Since I've been sleeping and laying in bed more, I've been thinking about what kind of life I want to lead, trying to let my mind wander, entice the possibilities. It's been a year and a half since I relocated to this little slice of earth. Time flies.

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Reading for the Revolution

I've been reading more lately, which is good. In addition to dumping my Netflix subscription in favor of The New Yorker and Harper's, I've digested a few books, which I'll talk about briefly and (ahah!) interconnectedly.

Air Guitar
A collection of short pieces by Dave Hickey, subtitled "Essays on Art & Democracy," this book is just fantastic reading if you like $5 and even $10 words, distrust academia and other elite discourses, and enjoy thinking about art and culture with a political bent. The text occasionally diverges into minutia of fine art that lost me (I don't know from painting) but in almost all cases the thread returned to terra firma, and I didn't really feel like I missed out on the true meaning of Hickey's prose because I have no idea what Cézanne was really all about.

Harper's recently had a great excerpt from an upcoming book by Slavoj Zizek in which the Slovenian guru (who I encountered because a really pretty girl making a documentary wanted to talk to me about Music For America once) chides various leftist tactics around the world, in particular the "retreat into criticism" and the "politics of infinite demands." It made me wonder if Zizek has ever read Hickey, who's an art critic and not a "Critical Theorist," but whose writings as such contain, to me, some of the most insightful and generalizable observations about politics I've ever read.

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And, Teh Politix

Latest Chris Bowers post has some wonky breakdowns of the upcoming political shenanigans. I'm going to have to vote early/absentee as I'll be on the road Feb 5th. Leaning towards Obama as a Clinton victory here would be decisive for her campaign, and it doesn't look like Edwards will be positioned to pick up many delegates.

I also really agree w/Chris's closing sentiment:

If I could only choose one outcome, I would choose Romney winning the Republican nomination, since it should lead to a big Democratic victory in the general election. For my money, that is a lot more important than the differences between Clinton and Obama, and a lot better than struggling to try and scratch out a narrow, come from behind win against McCain.

On a pure candidate level, Huck! remains the strongest GOP challenger, I think. He's their best perfoming politician. However, he's low on cash and really is loathed by Republican insiders and business elites, and the media has decided -- after years of telling us all how important some generic concept of "faith" is in politics -- that an actual honest-to-jeebus believer is weird and icky.

McCain, on the other hand, has the media in a veritable trance and maintains a lot of crossover mystique. At the same time he's shown GOP insiders that he's willing to play ball and has the anti-choice credibility to rope in evangelicals to his coalition. The fact that he seems eager for war will probably not come up as a campaign issue. He'd be a formidable candidate.

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Decompression, Or, A Couple Perspectives on Workaholism

It's been a good weekend, with lots of sleeping in and no drudgework at all. Absent the pressure-cooker mentality I tend to find myself a little listless and bored, especially in the recent aftermath.

When you're a small child, the most boring day in your life is the day after you go to Disneyland. It's a very high high, tons of stimulation, really kind of incredible if you think about all the psychic energy that gets built up by the whole Disney cultural complex. Anyway, the next day you're one strung-out six year old, and you don't even really understand what's happening.

The trajectory of my adult life has grown up around projects. Productions, plays, parties, road trips, websites, campaigns... all variations on the general theme of engaging in an ostensibly focused effort to Get Something Done. At their best, they're like little births; creative miracles born in the spastic passion of inspiration and carried to term with love, craft and care.

At their best or worst though, projects tend to leave me with that same Disneyland hangover. The stress and attention called for to see things through the last mile are (ideally) some of the highest functioning times we experience as human beings. Afterwards, our metaphysitcal children born, grown, gone, and possibly even dead, we wonder what to do with our lives.

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Elections Today

Sen. Clinton wins narrowly in Nevada caucuses; Romney takes it in a cakewalk.

Also voting, but not done yet, is South Carolina, a state with an awesome flag:

South Carolina Flag

Down there Obama has been on the upswing among Democrats and McCain and Huck! will fight it out on the GOP side. McCain has the big mo', and it would be sweet vengeance for his 2000 "illegitimate black love child" drubbing at the hands of Rove and Co, but you never know.

On both sides, it's looking like no clear victor until at least Feb 5th, and while media coverage focuses a lot on "winners," the truth is that delegates are won proportionally. Obama and Clinton will get virtually the same number of delegates from Nevada, for instance (UPDATE: bizarrely enough, Obama gets more). It's quite possible that with three or four players splitting the GOP vote, they could go all the way to a brokered convention.

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The Big D

Well, I'm glad I got out of debt, but I'm also glad I didn't do it early enough to sink any money into "the market." While I'm sure many funds will still do well and long-term investors have little to fear, the current economic trajectory is pretty ugly. The dow is headed towards 52-week lows, and there's more bad news to come.

This is what happens when you run things like the Soviets. It's increasingly obvious that our economy, beyond being unsustainably debt-based, is also build on a series of consensual hallucinations that don't map well to reality. Because our made-up-prowess is in "financial products" rather than steel and wheat production, we can get by for longer than they did in the USSR -- and we get hit with mortgage defaults rather than breadlines, which is an improvement -- but the books are no less cooked, and CNBC is a propaganda outlet, not a news channel.

The Big D may indeed be coming, although a new bubble/rally may emerge around alternative energy and infrastructure instead. Here are the fundamentals:

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Boys and Girls in America

Remembered because Tommy gave me the latest Hold Steady album, and also casting some light on recent events, here's one of my all time favorite Kerouac quotes:

bq. “...boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk - real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.”

It's a good one to remember. Published in 1957 too, meaning it was written and thought even earlier.

And, apropops nothing, my company as if it were run by lolcats.

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