Thursday, December 21, 2006

They just take and take and take



So this past weekend, my friend Sheryl, who needs constant reminders to lock the door when she exits the car and yet often forgets anyway, forgot to lock the passenger side door after exiting my car.

Well, some opportunistic folks helped themselves to my car stereo whilst I slept. Now don't get me wrong, I don't really care about the shitty car stereo, but they also took the cupholders.

The fucking cupholders!

What are they going to do with my cupholders?!? Were they in the process of taking the cd player (which they honestly couldn't re-sell for more than $5--I'm sure of it) and all of sudden they thought about how thirsty petty theft makes them? Or in addition to the vast number of CDs they have but have nothing in which to play them, they similarly have a great number of drinks but no place to set them?

The irony, of course, is that the cupholders were poorly designed, so if you actually put a drink in them, it would bump into the buttons on the stereo and randomly change songs and setting whenever you hit a bump. So being the eternal wide-eyed optimist that I am, my first thought was "Well, they took my stereo, but at least now I can use my cupholders without them being annoying and messing with my music."

And that was when I noticed they were gone, and a single tear rolled down my cheek.

Of course, in tribute to both my eclectic musical tastes and the current age of internet downloads, the 2 dozen CDs sitting in the back seat were untouched, but at least they were nice enough to tear out my glove box as well, so that I found a bunch of old cool stuff I had tucked down in the bottom of it that I may never have found had they not been so nice as to do that for me.

And fortunately, this all happened but a few days before I have a nice 4.5 hour drive home for the holidays. Oh, and the drivers-side seat in the car is broken so that if you lean any weight on it, it just falls over. I guess what I'm saying, is that it's a traditional Wozniak Christmas this year.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Quality down-home video production

Two great friends of the blog have recently finished a couple of great video shorts and got them up on youtube. I know the ol' tube has gotten a great deal less fun now that they've removed all of the copy-righted materials from the site, but this is the original reason it was invented anyway: for friends to show off their ridiculous video projects to those who live far away. Enjoy the finest Iowa has to offer below. I would suggest viewing the Ritz if you only have a moment, but even though Meatsloaf is about 9 minutes long, they will most likely be 9 of the best minutes of your day.

Enjoy!

The Ritz:


Meatsloaf:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Students say the darndest things...

I tried posting this before, but I've found that one of the new and improved features of the stupid new beta blogger that they made me upgrade to is that it no longer works on Macs, which is very convenient when all you have at home is a Mac. Yep, it's definitely a huge upgrade. Why is it that people can never leave well enough alone? Why are we constantly getting pointless upgrades that serve only to make life more of a hassle? Ah, but before I sound like too much of an elderly curmudgeon, on with the post I originally wrote at home and then was published as a blank entry.

I recently finished grading somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 term papers, which was not a task I looked forward to, for many reasons. There's the obvious reason that I don't particularly enjoy spending a solid week doing basically nothing but reading student papers. But more so than that, I was scared of the papers themselves. I've graded papers before, both as an undergrad and a grad student, so I was long ago disabused of the notion that college students can write. For example, in the short essays on their midterm, this was a popular response:

Question: Define the term "secret deviance"

Answer: Secret deviance is deviance that is secret.

Brilliant! You know, when you read things like this, it's almost insulting. I mean, did they really think a response like this would garner them many points? Well, everything garners some points, because I'm a softie, but not very many. It kind of blows the mind. What was the thought process? Were students sitting their thinking "All right, I wrote the word down again and added two more words and made a sentence out of it. I nailed it!"?

Well, it turns out the term papers were much, much better. Though I'm sure some sort of ethics code prevents me from reprinting any portion of them here, I wish I could, as they were some pretty amazing essays. The assignment was to write about your own deviant career over the years and do the obligatory sociological explanation of it all. But what these folks wrote about was pretty amazing. Many of the students in the class have been through so much more than I'll ever see, and they seem to have come out of it pretty well.

So I guess that's the trade-off for academia--spending all weekend grading papers instead of having fun, but ending up with much more faith in humanity. I guess I'll take that.

Help stop military recruiters in the Twin Cities



Those plucky young Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR) kids are back at it again. This time, they're making a concerted effort to get military recruiters out of their high schools, or at least to limited their currently unfettered access to students.

But they can't do it alone! That's where you come in.

Central High students have been campaigning for over a year now to get military recruiters out of their school, but recruiters have no far only stepped up their presence. That's why the Central High chapter of Youth Against War and Racism is making the following demands on the principal, school board, and superintendent:

1) Restrict military recruiters to the Career Resource Center and prevent any unsupervised contact with students.
2) Stop military recruiters coming to Central more often than any other post-secondary or job recruiting program actually comes.
3) Ensure that YAWR gets seven days notice before recruiters can enter school grounds.

Central High students presented these demands to the last meeting of the St.
Paul Board of Education, and what we're asking you to do is to join with us to hold the Board accountable to address our demands at the next school board meeting on December 19th. Here's what YOU can do:

1) Show up to the meeting at 6:30 pm on December 19th and show your support. The meeting is located in the District Administration Building at 360 Colborne Street in St. Paul.
2) Send out an announcement to your friends asking others to come show support.
3) Write the school board, principal, and superintendent a letter expressing your endorsement of these demands and send us a copy at against.war@gmail.com so we're aware of it.

Here is the contact information for the various officials:

Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen
Administration Building, 360 Colborne St., St. Paul, MN 55102
supt.carstarphen@spps.org

Principal Mary Mackbee
Central Senior High School, 275 Lexington Pkwy., St. Paul, MN 55104
mary.mackbee@spps.org

Board of Education (and all members)
360 Colborne St., St. Paul, MN 55102

Individual board members' e-mails:

Elona Street-Stewart, Chair - elona.street-stewart@spps.org
Tom Conlon, Clerk - thomas.conlon@spps.org
Anne Carroll, Director - anne.carroll@spps.org
Al Oertwig, Director - al.oertwig@spps.org
Kazoua Kong-Thao, Vice-Chair - kazoua.kong-thao@spps.org
John Brodrick, Treasurer - john.brodrick@spps.org
Tom Goldstein, Director - tom.goldstein@spps.org

To contact Central High YAWR, call Shane Davis at 651-587-6923 or e-mail shane89@gmail.com

Friday, December 08, 2006

Am I the luckiest man alive?

Last night after a good rowdy couple of hours of socialism, the comrades and I headed to the bar as per tradition. And while there's always bar trivia going on, I've always just been content to shout out the answers at random, thereby either helping those who didn't know it, or hurting those who did and were hoping that others didn't. Or, on the rare occasion when I was wrong, doing the exact opposite. Regardless, I'm sure it just served to annoy everyone, and I'm cool witht hat.

But last night, I thought it was time to put my hat in the ring and prove that I could play more than the spoiler. And wouldn't you know it, me and 3 comrades, also known as Team Totally Tubular Radical...to the Max (the first round of questions were 80s themed), took home the championship amongst some stiff competition.

The prize? A Miller High Life t-shirt. Now, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't drink High Life if you paid me, just because I've neevr typically enjoyed horse piss. And I certainley don't want to wear some stupid dude-bro-esque beer shirt, but this one I will wear with pride, for it marks me as champion of trivial knowledge.


The Miller High Life girl raises her glass to the champions of trivia

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The healthiest state in the Union

The United Health Foundation has just ranked Minnesota the healthiest state in the Union for the fourth year in a row.

We were discussing this today in class when Uggen made the point that Minnesota continually ranks so high because we are one the best states at insuring everyone, although we’re still far behind where we should be.

I’m not a Minnesotan by birth, though I’ve got plenty of connections and now live here. And even though I’m not typically one to be very rah-rah about anything a government does at pretty much any point (I know, I know…so cynical at such a young age), but I must share the Gunnar Nelson Look-Alike contest winner’s opinion that it does fill one with a fair amount of pride in their little corner of the earth to have such distinctions heaped upon them.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It’s not a unicorn…

It’s a horse with a sword on his head and he protects my hopes and dreams


Although I actually have a fondness for unicorns (my moonshine is labeled “Uncle Jesse’s Unicorn Shine”…and I still sleep with a stuffed unicorn I’ve had since childhood…and, well that’s enough about my unicorns), I too have felt the sting of having one’s fragile masculinity attacked for keeping a journal.

But all that aside, lately I’ve been wondering what my journal says about me. I mean, I lead a fairly interesting life. I’m not exactly climbing mountains, but it’s not a too rare occurrence for the FBI to wake me up in the morning, and I always seem to end up in the oddest situations. Which I understand doesn’t necessarily mean I have a very interesting life, but I think it’s fair to say that semi-interesting stuff happens to me on semi-regular occasion.

Anyhoo, the point is that none of this is reflected in my journal. Leafing through it out of boredom the other day, I realized I have basically nothing in there except for women-related things. Like if I’m having girl troubles, or I run into an ex, or some such thing. Like that’s all that happens in my life.

So I got to thinking: what does this say about me? Reading it I just had the most horrible feeling about myself, like I’m an over-weight secretary with a hunky firemen calendar up on my cubicle wall that goes home every night and cries herself to sleep with a carton of ChunkyMonkey and wishes she wasn’t always just a bridesmate.

Well, ok, maybe I’m not quite that bad, but I do need to get out of the house more often…

Friday, December 01, 2006

Peace: 42, Giant Evil Weapons Manufacturer : 0

Very short court day yesterday, as all charges were dropped before we even got in front of a judge. But the victory was much larger than that.

As for the background of the story, Alliant Tek Systems, headqurtered inEdina (of course, very little manufacturing actually goes on there, it's just a nice tax-haven location), is the world's leading producer of illegal weaponry. For instance, they were the clever folks who "discovered" how deadly depleted uranium was and began using it in weapons that vaporize the enemy and leave their nation poisoned for the rest of existence (DU has a half-life of 4.5 billion years). Up until this, people had been foolishly throwing it away. Silly idiots.

But that's just one of many weapons they produce. But the one great point of consistency in their productions is that every weapon they produce is illegal under international law. Every single one. And we're the criminals...but that's another story.

Anyway, over 13 months ago (so much for a speedy trial), myself and 41 other people who are part of AlliantAction showed up at the corporate headquarters to ask the board of directors to stop breaking the law and to tell the employees that they are all facing conviction under the Geneva code (remember, since the 40s you can't just say you're following orders anymore). Needless to say, they weren't too happy with us being there and removed us from the parking lot (we couldn't actually get inside the building, of course).

Now, in a bit of local history, up until this point, the offense had been an aggravated misdemeanor, which meant you could get a jury trial if you so well pleased. Now the problem with that is that hippies tend to be good orators (it's about all we can do), and juries have a pesky problem of being swayed by "logic" and "compassion for fellow human beings." So Alliant, along with the city council, changed the ordinance to be a simple misdemeanor, meaning we could now only have a bench trial. Judges aren't really as easily swayed, since they're on the payroll of the city, which is on the payroll of Alliant.

Well, since they were playing hardball, so were we. Usually in a situation like this, people such as us will stipulate to the facts, which essentially means we admit we broke the law, but we're arguing that we're justified in doing so. Well, this time we refused and said they'd have to subpoena every employee who saw us tresspass and every officer who made an arrest to come in and identify us. Well, seeing as they would have to pay 20-some officers overtime for what looked like a trial that could stretch several weeks, they cited monetary constraints (although they probably just didn't have a good case) and dropped the charges.

Not ones to give up, we have now set up a page on the group's website where we'll print the testimony we would have given, and the city prosecutor has agreed to take our concerns to Alliant and urge them to come to a city council meeting where we air our greivances.

Now, I know this will change very little, but you can do radical pacifist peace work your entire life and never get the city prosecutor of a wealthy suburb to (begrudgingly) agree to put the screws on the most powerful corporation in town. As far as I'm concerned, this is probably the biggest victory I'll ever see in my lifetime of activism, so I'm feeling pretty damned good right now.

So, hey, cheer up my friends. If we can win this, certainly you can win just as much, if not more.