Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Weekend Update!

Not paying attention to Pub Sociology over the weekend? Too bad- it's been hopping. The following is how I got involved in this particular circus. Because we all know I just can't keep my trap shut.

Adam,

First and foremost I want to thank you for offering your perspective on this issue. Science proceeds through lively discussion and disagreement and this is no exception. It is also the case that you have a very good point above. Specifically, you argue that:


When women attack men, men are less likely to call the police. And when they do, the woman is less likely to be charged. Frequently, a woman will attack a man, the someone will call the cops, and the man will be arrested (this is because feminists have convinced many police departments that they should almost always arrest the man). Why would a man call the police if they think they'll be the one who gets arrested? This skews the statistics.


You are absolutely correct- this is a very good argument for why police reports may not accurately reflect the true incidence of a particular type of offense. By bringing up the above you do display some familiarity with issues in social science and should be commended for it.

However...

However, the report that Tina cites is not based on police reports. She cites information drawn from the National Crime Victimization Survey or NCVS. As is described on the NCVS site:

The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) series, previously called the National Crime Survey (NCS), has been collecting data on personal and household victimization since 1973. An ongoing survey of a nationally representative sample of residential addresses, the NCVS is the primary source of information on the characteristics of criminal victimization and on the number and types of crimes not reported to law enforcement authorities. It provides the largest national forum for victims to describe the impact of crime and characteristics of violent offenders. Twice each year, data are obtained from a nationally representative sample of roughly 49,000 households comprising about 100,000 persons on the frequency, characteristics, and consequences of criminal victimization in the United States. The survey is administered by the U.S. Census Bureau (under the U.S. Department of Commerce) on behalf of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (under the U.S. Department of Justice).

The NCVS was designed with four primary objectives: (1) to develop detailed information about the victims and consequences of crime, (2) to estimate the number and types of crimes not reported to the police, (3) to provide uniform measures of selected types of crimes, and (4) to permit comparisons over time and types of areas. The survey categorizes crimes as "personal" or "property." Personal crimes cover rape and sexual attack, robbery, aggravated and simple assault, and purse-snatching/pocket-picking, while property crimes cover burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and vandalism. The data from the NCVS survey are particularly useful for calculating crime rates, both aggregated and disaggregated, and for determining changes in crime rates from year to year. (Emphasis added)


In other words, she cited a data source that is constructed specifically to correct for the issue you bring up, namely that victimization may be underestimated from police reports. It is worth mentioning, while we're on the subject, that victimization of females is also chronically underestimated using police reports, and so we should expect to make adjustments for both sexes when we move away from police report data. For more on the accuracy of the NCVS as an estimate of crime, please see the very clearly marked report provided on the NCVS site.

In any case, given the above you have not, as you claim, proven Tina wrong. The outside sources you bring up are certainly worth considering, but Tina's data source remains a valid one for the current argument.

I would like to respectfully suggest, as well, that you are making an error by dismissing Brayden's remarks on Professor Fiebert's bibliography. You state:

There were a lot of studies listed (over 100 I think), so it's not surprising that some of them support feminist lies...


Brayden's point was not that one or two studies contradict the rest, but rather that a more nuanced stance may be necessary to capture reality. As one example, the second study he refers to finds that,

...women receive more violence than men while dating, in contrast to the maritial violence research which shows that men receive violence as frequently as women.


If this is correct than, necessarily, your earlier claim that "...women attack their partners as often as the reverse," must be incorrect. If women and men assault each other equally during marriage, but men victimize women more than vice versa before marriage, then women as a group receive more abuse from their male partners than males do from their female partners. If you restrict the term "partner" to "legal spouse" then your assertion may be more reasonable, but such a scope condition is not clearly stated in your argument at present.

I think you are also unwise to so casually dismiss Brayden's remark that, "on average, the amount of physical harm that men cause women is much greater than the harm women cause men." You state that, "I admit that when men attack women, it causes more severe injuries (I never said otherwise)," however you do not recognize this as a potential source of data error like the one you object to in police report-based statistics. To understand what I mean, consider an example. I weigh approximately 160 pounds. The last woman I dated, by contrast, weighed approximately 120 pounds. That forty pound difference means that an equal amount of force delivered to me, say from a friend giving me a playful punch in the chest during a football game, will have less of an effect on me than it would my 120 pound counterpart. As such, the same violent action committed against both of us (i.e. a punch to the chest of X force) might be reported as a violent action by my female counterpart, for whom it was a significant event, but not as such by myself, for whom it was largely inconsequential. So, if we define violent actions in terms of punches of force X, my counterpart and I might be equally victimized, but if we define violence in terms of the actual harm caused, my counterpart was subject to violence while I was not.

Again, this is not to refute the studies of Professor Fiebert, but rather to suggest that greater complexity is needed in this argument.

Finally, I would caution you against accusing Tina of making ad hominem attacks. While she was sarcastic in some of her responses, she was no more inflammatory than you were in your repeated assertions about "feminist lies." Overall, Tina responded to your comments with dignity, and no small amount of respect, and you should have the courtesy to acknowledge such.

Drek

So how did Adam respond to all this? Well, go over to Pub Sociology and see for yourself. It's pretty special. Comments are closed now, but I'm sure most of you can figure out how I would have responded.

So is today's post just an excuse to use up a day without having to write anything new?

Um.... No?

Does this have anything to do with our current Total Drek homework assignment?

Could be.


Friday, January 28, 2005

I am totally serious about this.

Drek's Undergraduate to English Translation:

Undergrad: the rechs

English: the wrecks

Un-fucking-believable.

Public Sociology: The Home Game!

Recently I've been thinking about the role of sociology bloggers and public sociology. As you may, or may not, recall I eventually decided to support public sociology in a limited way, even as I remain opposed to its more virulent forms. While I do not now, and will never, support the conversion of sociology into an appendage of a political party, I don't see anything wrong with actually trying to make our findings more widely known.

The thing is, though, what exactly do we mean by public sociology? Is it limited to cutesy names for our conferences? Are we doing public sociology when we go on blogs and write to other sociologists? How about how Judith Blau has been reserving space in Social Forces for works of public sociology? I would say that none of these things really fulfill the spirit of public sociology. Even the blog that I would think is dedicated to public sociology has more or less dropped the ball. (And if you think that by bringing those guys up so much lately, I'm kicking them while they're down, let me just remind you that the best time to kick someone is when they're down.) If we are going to pretend to do public sociology, which presumably means communicating with the public, then we had better come up with some way to actually do it.

All is not negative, however, as it is apparent that our blogs aren't just reaching other sociologists. Sometimes, a non-sociologist wanders in from the cold and offers their views, as happened recently over on Pub Sociology. Now, Tina did a very nice job of responding to this comment, but it was Brayden's addendum that set me to thinking.

The world that commenter Adam depicts is one in which women are dramatically priviledged over men. It is a world that we in social science do not recognize as our own because it does not mesh with what our research tells us. However, it is wrong of us to simply dismiss it as laughable- not because it is in any way a correct view of the world, but because it is most assuredly not laughable. As our own W.I. Thomas said "If a man believes the situation to be real, it is real in its consequences." In other words, if we do not correct fallacies when we encounter them, we shall have to grapple with the reality shaped by those who subscribe to such fallacies.

Tina's response to Adam was, indeed, useful, but we need to be more proactive in providing such refutations. We need to find fallacies and contradict them, rather than simply wait for them to find us. On this blog, I have done this on several occasions. In particular, I challenged the "No Marriage" website that sees women in essentially the same light as Adam, and the website of our good friends the masculists. (By the way, Tom Smith, I'm still waiting for that rebuttal you promised me via e-mail. As always, I will post it unaltered whenever you send it along. I'm not bringing this up in the hopes of provoking a response, but please know that I'm making that clucking sound that middle-school age boys use to goad their friends into remarkably stupid behavior.) There is, however, far more work to be done.

So, I think it is time for us to flex our blogological muscles and really see what we can do. Below, I am going to post links to two websites that in certain ways reflect the ideology of Adam and the Masculists. I invite my fellow sociolgy bloggers to read over these sites, and then offer rebuttals or supporting pieces as you see fit. I will post links to them here, featuring these links prominently, as they come in. If you don't have a blog of your own, I'd be more than happy to post your work here on Total Drek, assuming that it isn't a crime against English grammar. I ask only that these pieces focus more on empirical data and research, rather than theory. The individuals operating these websites probably don't much care about the theory of Patricia Hill Collins, just as most sociologists aren't particularly moved by the theory in Mein Kampf. I also invite non-sociologists to post their own work, to which I will also provide links or furnish with space here. I also, however, ask that you feature facts, or at least things pretending to be facts, rather than simply argumentation. If public sociology is supposed to be about a dialogue with the public, then let's have a dialogue with the public, not just talk about it, or to the segment of the public who actually agrees with us. If we think sociology has something to add to public debate, then let's be about it.

What do you get for participating in this? Well, aside from the joy of being mentioned on Total Drek (Which may, come to think of it, be a deterrent to participation) I will grant each person who provides a qualifying response one "blog wish" redeemable for a post by yours truly on a subject of their choosing. Ever wanted to see a blog post about my ex-girlfriends? Here's your chance. How about my bizarre sexual dysfunctions? You have a golden opportunity right now! What about Slag's genital warts? Okay, that's just sick. You should be ashamed of yourself! Just be warned that, should you ask for something stupid like, "Blog about your real name," I will in all likelihood simply make shit up.

Everyone clear? Okay then, without further ado, the two websites for your tender attentions are:


National Coalition of Free Men Ever wonder what the male-equivalent of Feminism is? Well, this ain't it, really, but it's fairly close in certain respects. This also qualifies as the better-reasoned version of the Masculists. As a matter of honesty, these folks do have a number of laudable goals, but some of the others may be vulnerable to contradition by modern social science. For example, on the "philosophy" page: "[Free men have freedom] From the notion that as a class they oppress women any more than women as a class oppress them, or than society in general oppresses both sexes through stereotyping." While on the philosophy page, particularly note the charming lightning-bolt animated gifs. Classy.

And, for folks who want an easier, less coherent debating partner. Or, alternatively, a greater challenge to defend:

NiceGuy's Women/Ameriskanks (mostly) SUCK Page! So-called "NiceGuy" unloads on the internet about the drawbacks of modern American/Western women- in the process sounding quite a bit like a refugee from the "NoMarriage" site I lampooned earlier. For a particularly good example of his work, see the post Back in Ameriskankland where our NiceGuy remarks, "I've got the truth on my side. But that doesn't matter. It completely does not matter. For American females do not have to bother with facts when they want to be right. Never. She's right since SHE'S GOT A VAGINA God-dammit and don't you ever forget it! Hah!" (Emphasis original). In his defense, his sister (who he is referring to in the above) does sound a little immune to reason and common decency but... um... "Hi, kettle? This is the pot, you're black!"

So, have-at, have fun, and let me know if you decide to take either a supporting or contradicting point of view on either site.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Well said.

As many of you know I don't completely agree with occasional-blogger Mathieu Deflem's stance on public sociology. One area in which we are in complete agreement, however, is the danger of politicizing a scientific field. (Incidentally, Max Weber also shares this view, but I digress. For more see Weber's "Science as a Vocation.")

Thus, I am pleased to direct you all to a very well-written piece of Dr. Deflem's that critiques recent developments in the journal Social Forces. As I said, I don't always agree with Dr. Deflem, but in this case I think he has some excellent points.

Worth taking a look at, regardless of your position on the issue.

Gender Juxtaposition

Recently I've entered into an arrangement with a friend of mine wherein we take turns cooking dinner once a week. This works out nicely since, now that my Hypothetical-Roommate is pretty much away every night, I grow tired of cooking solely for myself.

The other day it was my turn and, after entering my apartment and reassuring my dog that I still love her, I went to the kitchen and began preparing the nightly repast. My friend, for his part, took a seat and turned on the news. This was perfectly fine with me since, first, I actually like to see the national news (Although local news is usually a pestilence) and, second, I prefer to cook alone. If I must cook with another person I am unusually insistent upon hierarchy, such that one of us must be in charge and the other merely an assistant. Those of you who cook understand why this is.

As I busied myself in the kitchen, however, it occurred to me that I was lucky that my Hypothetical-Roommate didn't happen by. If he had, doubtless he would have remarked something along the lines of, "Wow, Drek. You're going to make someone a great wife someday."

To this, I can only respond: Why yes. Yes I will.

I only hope that my future husband is a good enough provider to keep me in the style to which I have grown accustomed. Then again, under the circumstances, I don't imagine that will prove all that difficult for her.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I'm just saying, is all.

It isn't that I have anything against the folks at Berkeley who set up the Public Sociology blog. Back in the days of yore when they would bestir themselves to actually post something, they occasionally blundered haplessly into an interesting conversation. I even looked forward to each new post, reveling in the views of my fellow grad students. Okay, "revel" is probably a bit strong, but I did enjoy the blog.

It's just that I really wish they wouldn't post the subtitle, "Exploring the Sociological Imagination," on a big empty white page. I mean, I just don't think it implies that we're very... well... imaginitive.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Oh-HO! Now we're talking!

So I was nosing around on Amazon and found a little something. Specifically, I found the pre-order page for...

Wait for it...

J. K. Rowling's sixth Harry Potter novel, currently titled, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince! Let the salivating begin!

I have to be honest, though: "Half-Blood?" I mean, seriously, that's like being "Half-Assed." I prefer to be Whole-Assed, thank you very much, and I'm sure that young royal would like the other half of his blood back as soon as possible!

So much meaning.

What really makes this picture so amusing to me is that, as I've mentioned before, armadillos are one of the only other mammals that can carry leprosy. So the association of Bush and armadillos is not necessarily all that flattering.

King Midas, his touch turned things to gold. Bush? His touch is synonymous with spreading putrefaction.

Sounds about right to me.

And speaking of spreading putrefaction, check out this post and the associated comments from over at Wisconversation. It's a little like watching a cock-fight... and you can interpret that in whatever manner you like.

For myself, I probably would have been in attendance at Dorothy Smith's talk, but that's because I more or less always attend our local departmental speakers. I figure I can always learn something new. I've never heard of Dorothy Smith before this, but that's not necessarily surprising given how balkanized Sociology is, or how ignorant and stupid I am. Take your pick. As my own contribution to the debate, which is to say no contribution at all, here is a list of female scholars who, if they gave a talk at my department, would definitely see me in attendance. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, or to demonstrate that women in academia aren't underpriviledged. It's just a list I came up with in about five minutes after having asked myself, "What female speakers would you really like to see?"

Philippa Pattison
Katherine Faust
Verta Taylor
Arlie Hochschild
Cecilia Ridgeway
Lynn Smith-Lovin
Elisabeth Clemens
Theda Skocpol
Susan Brownmiller
Diane Vaughan
Lynn Eden
Jill Quadagno
Nina Eliasoph
Nancy Howell Lee

Saturday, January 22, 2005

I need blogger-viagra

Ever have one of those days/weeks/months when you have plenty of ideas for blog posts, but just can't seem to get yourself up to the task? Yeah, that's me just now- as you could doubtless guess from the crappy posts of late.

Maybe I'll get lucky and Slag will have a sudden spurt of creativity.

In the meantime, to steal liberally from The West Wing: Okay, my talent can't have gotten far. It has to be somewhere in this building.

Then again, maybe it got sent to Cleveland when I made that connecting flight last Monday. I knew I shouldn't have packed it in my check luggage.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Your patriotic duty.

I have a love-hate relationship with a lot of fundamentalist Christian media. On the one hand, as a devout atheist, I loathe its paranoid intolerant ranting. On the other hand, as a thinking individual, I find it to be a priceless reservoir of unintended humor. As a consequence of this I sometimes deliberately expose myself to wacky fundamentalist doctrines. So far in my life, this has taken many forms.

Once I spent some time wandering through a bookstore for home-schooled children in Dalton, Georgia. For those who are curious, I was on my way to the Elijay apple festival. In any case, the materials in this bookstore give new meaning to the term, "horrifying." When driving, particularly cross-country, I have a penchant for tuning in radio preachers. It's fun to mock their fiery rhetoric and utter lack of common sense. Finally, I sometimes find myself watching what I call the "Crazy Christian Channel." That would be a broadcast channel that covers all things fundamentalist. Sometimes they just televise sermons, other times the programming is composed entirely of Christian infomercials. Sometimes the CC channel even runs original movies that teach a valuable moral lesson, such as "Gays are evil," "Liberals are evil," "Government is evil, unless it's explicitly Christian," "You're evil, unless you accept Jesus Christ into your heart," and so on.

Now, there's also educational programming on this channel. One such program involved a group of panelists hotly debating whether or not the rapture would occur before, or after, the coming of the Antichrist. My hypothetical-roommate and I spent a good half an hour watching this program- not because we were curious about the answer, but rather because we were simply baffled as to what the hell they were arguing over in the first place. Anyone who thinks we academics have a monopoly on obfuscating jargon hasn't watched the Crazy Christian Channel. You shoulda seen the diagrams. What was the answer, you ask? No f-ing clue, friend, they never seemed to decide among themselves. One would think that this controversy would make them pause before trying to interpret the bible literally in the political arena, but I guess not.

So, given the above, it should come as no surprise that last night I caught a brief segment of the Jack van Impe news program. This show would seem to be dedicated to a Christian telling of the news, offered by Mr. van Impe and his animatronic sidekick Rexella. Of course, it's easy to report the news when one already knows the future and is aware of exactly how major future wars will play out. Then again, this might just be a map of Bush Administration foreign policy.

In any case, last night Jack wasn't talking about any of these things. Instead, he was remarking on the U.S. balance of trade, which sucks, and saying that the only things we have to offer on the world market are pornography and movies. Now, I'm not sure what his point was- I'm often unsure since his sentences devote more words to scriptural reference than to, say, parts of speech- but I will say this: I think Mr. van Impe has just made the strongest argument in favor of porn that I've ever heard.

I mean, think about it, according to Jack van Impe one of the only things standing between the U.S. and fiscal insolvency is the porn industry. Our ability to maintain a robust military machine with which to invade other countries and, eventually, combat the antichrist depends on the brave men, women, shemales, and various non-human animals of the porn industry. If you don't support porn, you don't support America, and if you don't support America, then you support al Qaeda and the Antichrist! We know this is so because President Bush told us, you're either with us, or you're against us. You're either for porn, or you're against America.

Now, I know that none of you are against America, so that means you're for porn. But how can one be "for porn," you ask? What does that mean? Well, for your help, I've compiled a brief list of things you can do to support good old American porn.

(1) Stop buying foreign porn. I know that those Japanese tentacle rape cartoons fascinate you, and that those Hentai games cure what ails you, but by buying unamerican porn you're just helping out Osama bin Laden. Try some wholesome American games instead.

(2) Stop posting those videos of you and your husband online. We know you enjoy the exhibitionism, we're fine with that, but every free videoclip on the internet featuring strong, healthy Americans steals dollars away from the professionals and, indeed, from America. Alternatively, if you must post your own sex videos, at least charge for them. Some people seem to be making a healthy living this way. Okay, "healthy" may not be the best word for it, but it's a living.

(3) Start a local porn-for-tots program. Porn is addictive, much like smoking, and marketing it to kids is a great way create a long-term consumer. Be sure and make these groups cross-national, however. Like any other good drug dealer, we have to remember that indulging too much in the product hurts business.

(4) Deny your boyfriends and husbands sex. Without recourse to normal sex, many men will resort to jerking off or, as it is euphemistically called, "masturbating." Many men prefer to do this with the aid of porn, whereas in normal sex porn is often unnecessary for reasons that should be fairly obvious. This is not to say that women don't masturbate, but just that they tend to consume less porn while doing so. Remember, folks: a healthy sex life is depriving America of income!

(5) Finally, report anyone who objects to porn to the Department of Homeland Security. Since porn is good for America, anyone who objects is Unamerican and, therefore, subject to imprisonment without trial or charge for an unspecified period. As an added bonus, the videos of their "questioning" might themselves make a pretty good product for our burgeoning global porn-dominance. It's a win-win scenario.

So, remember those tips, and go bust a nut for democracy!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Somebody check our work.

For reasons that aren't important, my officemate and I spent some time yesterday trying to construct a proof demonstrating that var(kx) = k^2var(x) where k equals an integer constant, and x is a vector. Here's what we've got:

(1) var(kx)= E(kx-E(kx))^2 =

(2) E(kx-kE(x))^2 =

(3) E(k(x-E(x)))^2 =

(4) k^2E(x-E(x))^2 =

(5) k^2var(x)

In the above, of course, "E" refers to the expectation of x, or the mean. So? Show of hands, how did we do?

And, on a more timely note, when the inaugural finally overwhelms your will to live, check out this website. It makes the hurting stop. Then start again. So, hey, at least the pain is fresh and novel.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Reciprocity

Many of you know that I regularly read the website Something Awful. It isn't exactly a blog, though it has bloglike qualities. It isn't exactly a humor site, though it is funny. It isn't exactly a news site, though it... well... no, there's really never any news on this site.

Still, it's something I read fairly regularly. Recently, however, Something Awful featured an update that actually does make for a fairly interesting read. Specifically, it was an update by Zack Parsons that vividly depicts the inevitable result of the religious polarization of American politics. Particularly moving is the conclusion:

I used to see nuance and diversity in religions and their various followers. That luxury has been swept away by the wave propelling quasi-theocratic scum to success and power. I now resort to their weapon; the hateful generality. Religion is the tool of corrupt men and women with shallow principles and reluctance to see the world outside the monochrome. If you are declared evil for what you believe or who you are, surely you are then justified in returning the favor.


I did not write it, but I have felt much of the frustration and rage that he has. I still do see nuance and diversity in religions and their followers, but that gets harder and harder every day.

Worth a read.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A point of order.

I'm going to go through this for those delightful individuals who have been e-mailing me lately. What I said a week ago was that I was the "Pedagological Gangster." Pedagological, of course, stems from Pedagogy, meaning, "The art or profession of teaching." So, I'm saying that I am a cool teacher. If what y'all are saying were true, I would more appropriately be referred to as the "Proctological Gangster." That would be something entirely different.

Thank you for your attention.

For those who are interested, I'm back in the office today and trying to get my shit together for the semester. Drop by and bother me at your own risk.

Not that I'm saying you should stay away, I'm just stating an obvious truth that applies any time you drop by.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Drek Said; Slag Said

It was a good night to be going out, a clear night, a warm night. It was, in every way, a typical evening in Central Florida. My journey was uneventful, but exciting all the same, as I fought against basic physics behind the wheel. While visiting my parents I was deprived of my own car and forced to borrow theirs for transportation. In this case, that meant an SUV of such stunning girth that its fuel bills doubtless funded an al Qaeda cell somewhere deep in Yemen. It also meant that I did not so much drive this vehicle, as guide it the way one might guide a supertanker through submerged shoals, only to dash it on rocks that might have been seen were you not already terribly drunk. In the moonlight the spreading pool of crude oil floating on the ocean water resembles a mirror in which the stars and sky glitter, set to the haunting counterpoint of shorebirds struggling against a viscous embrace.

This was not, however, the time for memory. I arrived at my destination none the worse for wear and parked, bringing a close to my Exxonic musings. My dashboard was drenched in the garish light of our place of meeting, our Rubicon- the Taco Bell.

Ah, Taco Bell, how have I ever done without you in grad school? As a boy your bright adobe-esque walls and disgruntled staff offered the promise of late-night hanging out, and endless servings of Mountain Dew, pouring forth like sugary, caffeinated bat piss until one became powerless to sit still, though whether that was due to the caffeine or an urgent need to urinate was never quite clear. Yes, Taco Bell, home of meat so low in quality that it has become a staple of computer nerds nationwide, whose poor sense of taste is matched only by their poor social skills, combining to mark the entire population as an evolutionary dead end. Indeed, I had not arrived in the parking lot of a low-grade fast food restaurant whose seemingly-international cuisine soothes the psyche of a xenophobic America that cannot tolerate the truly different- I had come home.

After climbing down from my vehicle, a process that very nearly required a ladder of some kind, I was greeted by the sight of a tall, skinny man approaching from across the parking lot. He was dressed in jeans, a white shirt, and a black checked flannel to protect him from the slight evening chill. His chin was adorned by a short beard, resembling nothing so much as a blond Brillo pad. His hair was neatly, and closely, cropped. The very image of a modern metrosexual. Slag had arrived.

“Hey,” Slag called.

“It’s good to see you,” I replied, shaking his hand.

We crossed the parking lot and entered the Taco Bell through doors marked with tape to show the height of the patrons as they crossed the threshold. No doubt a precaution taken by a listless corporation to infinitesimally raise the chances of apprehending those who regularly preyed on this establishment in the wee hours of the morning. As if the police did not have more pressing matters than to pursue fools who steal a bag of spicy chicken gorditas. As if anyone knows what the fuck a gordita is to begin with. Inside we were confronted by the menu- a vast and terrible menu- that seemed to contain all the secrets of life and death, or at least all of the secrets that could be had for under three dollars, plus sales tax. A friend of mine had once developed a set of choices for Taco Bell that, with sales tax, worked out to a total bill of three, six, or nine dollars, depending on which option you selected. Of course, anyone actually consuming nine dollars of Taco Bell food was obviously in the market for a tapeworm, but this friend was characterized more by his obsessiveness than his good sense. I could relate.

“So what’s good here?” Slag asked, pondering the backlit Taconomicon suspended over the sleepy cashiers.

Nothing, I thought instantly, but replied instead: “I’m not sure I remember; it’s been so long since we were here. That meat, bean, and potato burrito looks interesting.”

Yes, interesting. A polite euphemism for terrifying, yet fascinating. The brightly lit photo of the burrito, situated to entice the viewer like an underwear model rendered in saturated fat, depicted a tortilla wrapped around lettuce, beans, cheese, and nondescript furry cubes. The cubes could only be the potato, and the fur was most likely a fried outer layer.

“Yeah, it does. I think I’ll try it. Maybe with some cinnamon twists,” Slag responded uncertainly.

I chuckled, “You’ll have to let me know how it is.”

When it was time, Slag ordered his burrito and cinnamon twists. I ordered three Taco Supremes and a drink. Calling those tacos “supreme” is to assume competition of a very poor quality but, like sanity and George W. Bush, truth and advertising rarely mix.

While we waited for our food to be prepared by apathetic laborers earning minimum wage, surely a recipe for gastronomic joy, we discussed the tragedy in the pacific. Tsunamis, earth quakes, flooding, starvation, and disease. Charming dinner talk for any occasion, but particularly appropriate in the Taco Bell. Especially the part about cholera.

Once we collected our food, grease already soaking through the thin waxpaper wrappings, we found a table near the back door, away from our fellow diners. We had long since learned that this was the best approach, both for our protection and for theirs. Conversation paused for a few moments as paper crinkled and we set upon our food. My own taco supremes resembled Mexican food in much the same way that the subtleties of Italian cooking are captured by a plate of Chef Boyardi beef-a-roni. Slag unpeeled his tortilla, drizzling taco sauce into the dark nether regions of his dinner, and then sealed it back up. With his characteristic optimism he lifted the mass of meat, cheese, and maybe-potato and took a bite. Then another bite.

“How is it?” I asked.

He chewed for a moment and swallowed before responding, “About like you’d expect.”

“Dogfood, huh?”

Slag sighed, “Imagine a Taco Bell burrito with french fries mixed in.”

“Ah.” I answered, “So, I should feel comfortable with my meal selection?”

“Probably.”

I returned to my bland repast. Slag began paying quite a bit more attention to his cinnamon twists. The burrito would eventually complete its journey into Slag, and presumably from thence out of Slag in a manner of its own choosing, but my dining companion did not rush the process. Some might say he wished to savor his food, but I think that “steel himself for” might be more accurate than “savor.”

Our conversation turned to our respective vacations. Both were going well, though I had to confess to being affected by a cold. Slag, in turn, was laboring under a professional deadline, forced to deny himself the pleasures of family in order to complete his labors. Given the nearness of the ASA submission deadline, looming like a papery sword of Damocles above my head, I could sympathize.

The talk turned to our personal lives- the lingering effects of Slag’s break from a woman who could be fairly described as “evil,” his following relationship with a woman who, apparently, was incapable of dialing a phone, and his current relationship with a hot Belgian woman. He seemed particularly proud of that last story, and his eyes lit with a pleased glow when he spoke of her. Then again, that might have been the neon accents of a tricked out pickup arriving in the parking lot.

I related my own stories from grad school- teaching classes, writing papers, and suffering under the burden of a dissertation project. I relayed my own romantic adventures.

“So, I’ve been seeing this girl, but she’s either the shyest person I know, or the most boring person I’ve ever met. I’m gradually starting to think it’s the latter, and not the former,” I explained.

“Why did you go out with her then?” Slag asked, laughing into his soda.

I shrugged before answering, “She’s really nice, I wanted to give her a chance. But there’s just… nothing.”

Slag just laughed.

Behind him one of the three gang-bangers who had arrived amidst the neon lights of Slag’s rapture was carrying a platter of twenty tacos to his fellows. Perhaps Taco Bell is to gangers what Ramen is to grad students.

Talk turned to mutual friends, their impending marriages, divorces, promotions, and pregnancies. Slag observed that quite a few marriages had grown out of his infrequent multi-day film festivals. In turn, I expressed a certain amount of gratitude that I had never attended such a festival, as the last thing the world needs is fruit from my loins. Thus far my loins have not been terribly fruitful, and I have not had need of them for some number of months, so their sudden productivity would be quite a change from the status quo.

Pulling out an old, frayed spiral notebook, Slag turned conversation towards the blog. For as long as I have known him, he has been a diligent note-taker. I fully believe that in some corner of his apartment Slag keeps notebooks of every sexual technique he learns, quite possibly with crudely drawn illustrations. I, on the other hand, prefer powerpoint.

I noticed his hands were shaking, though if this was from excitement about the blog, some unknown drug addiction, an alien parasite, or some other unimaginable cause perhaps related to the dark incomprehensibility of Cthulu, I cannot say.

“What was your vision when you started the blog? What did you want it to be? What was the purpose?” Slag asked.

Vision? I thought, Purpose? A blogger needs not these things!

“Mostly I just wanted a place to hash out ideas. It’s cathartic- now I can yell at stupid things online instead of in my living room.”

Slag nodded.

“It just sort of evolved into whatever it is now. I write about whatever strikes my fancy, and I love it when people argue with me. Discussion is a good thing.”

Well, maybe I don’t write about everything that strikes my fancy- that might be dangerous in ways I cannot easily describe- but most things.

We talked about ideas for posts, for theme weeks, for bizarre amusements that would keep us interested in the blog and, like good avant garde artists, we did so without any concern for the audience. It’s a blog- if we descend into pointless existentialist navel-gazing, well, then they can just suck it up. Or go hang out somewhere else for a while.

Conversation and laughter continued, touching on our professional successes and failures, Slag’s musings about moving to a new city, and politics. Slag ended up purchasing a taco supreme to chase the potato burrito, I followed suit with an order of cinnamon twists- the faux-Churro of the whitebread world.

“Hey, maybe we should blog about this conversation,” Slag suggested at one point.

“You mean a ‘Drek Said; Slag Said’ sort of thing?”

He nodded, “Sure. That’d be really funny.”

“Well, it’d be interesting.”

Interesting.

“You want to?”

“Sure,” I replied, “Although I’ll be tempted to just make shit up. Then again, what else is new?”

Slag laughed, and wrote in his notebook in a neat clean script, Slag Said; Drek Said.

Soon, however, our night drew to an end. We said our goodbyes with the clean, brief, awkwardness of men. Do we hug? Do we not hug? Okay, we’ll just wave. That works. Waving is good. See? I’m waving, that means I like you. But not too much.

Slag walked to his borrowed car, and I to mine. I climbed back to the command deck of the mechanized behemoth, remembering to request a tugboat from the harbormaster to guide me out of my parking space. I led the way from the parking lot, the sparks of our headlights diverging quickly- Slag heading for Orange Blossom Trail and, doubtless, for its disreputable Southern end where sex comes with a bargain-bin pricetag. “Hot Belgian” indeed. I, in turn, steamed behind a strip mall and east on Sandlake, setting course for my family home. I had visited with Slag, eaten at Taco Bell, and lived to tell the tale.

It was a good night to have gone out. A clear night, a warm night, in every way a typical Central Florida night. A night of fear and loathing in the Taco Bell.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Random Wedding Update: Der Tag.

The last few weeks in Florida have been sunny with temperatures in the mid to high seventies. Perfect weather, with birds singing and fawns frolicking in the meadows.

Okay, well, possums frolicking in the trees, anyways. The fawns don't frolick much for fear of the gators, and other forms of mutant, homicidal wildlife.

Today the weather is a charming 55 degrees and rainy. My father insists that it's "misting" rather than "raining" but, for our purposes, one sort of water falling from the sky is as good as another. So, it's cold and rainy.

Did I mention this was planned as an outside ceremony?

I've been told that rain on your wedding day is good luck, indicating great fertility and prosperity. I think I'll leave the fertility part out when I tell my sister. The last thing she needs is her brother telling her about her impending fecundity.

This oughta be exciting.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Random Wedding Update: Bachelor Party!

So the bachelor party was moved to last night instead of tonight, and I was of course the designated driver. How did it go, you ask?

Well, you know that movie, "Scent of a Woman?" It was a little like that, except my evening could have been titled, "Stank of an Englishman."

My future brother-in-law reports, "Ach, I'll never drink beer agin."

I'm going to look for a pot of black coffee since it's about 11:20 AM here, and I've only been home for a quarter of an hour.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Kick some ass, Huygens!

For those who rely on shitty media for their news, early this morning the Huygens lander penetrated the atmosphere of Titan. What is the Huygens probe? It's a lander attached to the Cassini mission to Saturn that is intended to discover what, in anything, lies beneath Titan's dense cloud cover. I've been looking forward to this for some time not only because it will be the most distant world ever landed on by Human probes, but also because Titan is thought to be a place where life either may have, or could have, evolved. Huygens might tell us a great deal about our own world.

To read a charmingly bland and uninformative summary, see the Washington Post's coverage and for more detailed information, check out the ESA's Huygens homepage.

If you don't care at all about space exploration, I pity you for your lack of imagination, but look at it this way: this mission is a collaboration between the U.S. (Cassini) and the European Space Agency (Huygens). Doubtless, the ESA also includes the French (Especially given their rocketry experience) so, in the event that Huygens makes some major discoveries, we get to watch Bush try to make nice with "Old Europe."

Oh, baby, c'mon Huygens!

UPDATE:

Oh, yeah- that's what I'm talking about!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Dead-Eye Drek

As many of you know, I am a somewhat unusual guy. This is true generally, but is particularly true in terms of Sociology. I am a dedicated social scientist but, unlike many of my colleagues, I am fascinated by physics. I am radically disrespectful in my blog, and often in person, yet go to great lengths to make my undergraduate students feel respected in my class. In short: I often juxtapose seemingly disparate elements of life.

One such further juxtaposition involves firearms. As I have mentioned before, I do enjoy recreational shooting. I own a Springfield M-1 Garand .30-caliber semi-automatic rifle (The rifle that won World War II) and have a good time taking it down to the range occasionally. I could fairly be referred to as "Dead-Eye Drek" on such trips, not so much because of my skill, as because my first few shots are usually so bad as to make one question my ocular health.

Since returning home I have gone shooting with one of my good friends, who might safely be referred to as a "gun nut." During this trip to the range I had the chance to fire off six different types of rifles (ranging from a bolt-action .30-06, to a semi-automatic .223) as well as three different pistols (ranging from .45 caliber to 9mm). If we had more time, my friend doubtless would have brought along his two black powder smoothbores, which start at .55 caliber and go up from there. Needless to say, it was an exciting day in which we discovered that I am a better shot with a pistol than many of the security guards who practice on my friend's range. Since this was the first time I had fired a pistol, none of you should feel particularly pleased about this.

I refer to my enjoyment of firearms as a juxtaposition because, as a general rule, the political left and, thus, sociology is not terribly friendly towards guns. Indeed, there seems to be a general feeling in some circles that guns are inherently evil, or inherently oppressive, or inherently simply "bad" and that, therefore, we should dispose of them entirely. This has never really made sense to me, and to be fair I do know a number of sociologists who are not entirely uncomfortable with firearms, yet it is a more or less liberal view. Similarly, gun owners are frequently stereotyped as ignorant, uneducated, or unconcerned with the public welfare.

Of course, gun owners aren't entirely unaware of this situation and have their own stereotypes about liberals. We're often thought of as weak, wafflers, dreamers, and incompetent. When it comes to guns, that incompetent part is often true, but I prefer to believe that the rest is largely inaccurate. Nevertheless, both sides have a substantial crust of negative impressions built up, and this crust acts to shield each side from the other's arguments, no matter how reasonable.

As a result of all this, being a gun-owning liberal, a shooting sociologist, can be a little tension-inducing. For the most part I don't mention my enjoyment of firearms around the department, though if the matter comes up I do sometimes comment on it. When at the range, I don't usually wear clothing that promotes liberal causes, although I do often wear clothing that indicates that I'm one of those crazy academic types that President Bush hates so much. What can I say? We gots ta represent. Either way, however, I feel torn between two roles: that of a left-leaning sociologist, and that of a gun owner.

It was, therefore, with considerable pleasure that I picked up a copy of Abigail A. Kohn's Shooters during this winter break. Kohn, an anthropologist, uses this book to report on her ethnography of American gun owners. It is, essentially, a diary of her involvement in the shooting community, shooting sports, and reports of her conversations with gun owners and enthusiasts.

Her journey is an interesting one, and covers many aspects of the shooting culture. These include introductory shooting courses, gun shops, gun ranges, women and guns, and sport shooting, including the surrealistic sport of Cowboy Action Shooting, which is part shooting match and part dress-up. Along the way, Kohn does an excellent job of describing the rationale behind shooters' love of guns, and the philosophy of responsibility and personal freedom that many of them subscribe to. Kohn makes it clear that shooters are not callous or ignorant or stupid, but rather disagree with liberals about certain basic characteristics of firearms. For many liberals, firearms are inherently harmful. For shooters, firearms are dangerous to the extent that they are not treated respectfully, fitting into much the same category in that respect as a car or a circular saw.

What makes the book truly useful, however, are her remarks about her fellow academics, as well as anti-gun liberals generally. Seen through her eyes, many of the arguments these people make seem hysterical and ridiculous, born out of ignorance and a lack of thought. This is not to say that gun owners get a thorough white-washing, but rather only that she uses a book likely to be read primarily by academic audiences to make it clear why those same academics are sometimes seen as irrational lunatics. Kohn is to be applauded in this effort, as a better understanding of gun owners as well as gun control advocates can only lead to improvements in our society's handling of guns generally. Indeed, as my friend and I discussed over burgers, despite the fact that he is relatively conservative and a gun lover, and I am relatively liberal, our views on gun control are essentially the same. We both support waiting periods, background checks, and restrictions on particularly dangerous types of firearms like machine guns and very heavy rifles. An approach like Kohn's that encourages people to see these areas of overlap, rather than simply the hostile rhetoric of the gun control debate, is extremely useful.

Of course, the book is not entirely good. While it serves an excellent rhetorical function, its scholarly value is dubious. Kohn indulges in a considerable amount of analysis, but does so largely at the expense of observation and entirely at the expense of theory. Her analytical passages are ponderously large and are, unfortunately, unconvincing due to a relative paucity of description. Without having made the world of the shooter a living, breathing reality, her analysis feels like a punchline in search of a joke. This issue is further exacerbated by the lack of any consistent theoretical construct, either drawn in from elsewhere or constructed by Kohn herself. As a result, this work feels unfinished, fails to connect with a wider literature, and is of limited value for scholarly work. Indeed, in an academic sense, Shooters succeeds best in demonstrating Kohn's potential- a potential I hope is realized as her career progresses.

Still, Shooters is an interesting and valuable read. It is a book that reminds us of the value of humility, and dispels myths about both sides of the gun control debate. It is a book that speaks to gun owners, in that it does not denigrate them, and to gun control advocates, in that it sympathizes with many of their goals. Sociologists, particularly of the liberal stripe, and especially of the radical liberal variety, would benefit substantially from reading this book. It might also serve as a worthwhile reading for undergraduates, written as it is in clear, concise language. This is doubly so if these students were given theoretical guidance by the instructor to make up for its lack in the text.

To make a long story short: a good book that many should, at least, page through. Watch for good things from Abigail Kohn in the future.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

"Yes, even her."

Drek's Father: What most people don't understand is that who wins the election, and who loses, isn't the candidate, it's a whole team. Those guys are so heavily managed, they don't take a shit by themselves.

Drek: This is true. Bush isn't the smartest guy ever to walk the Earth, but Karl Rove is a damn genius.

Drek's Father: The thing about Bush is that for most people he comes across as... well... like your neighbor. You know, he's a regular guy and really down to Earth.

Drek: You know, people have told me that, but I just don't see it. Since the first election, he just hasn't seemed that way. To me he's always seemed like an angry, ignorant little man who is entirely too confident.

Drek's Father: Hunh. Really?

Drek: Yep. And looking at his first-term performance, I think I've been borne out in that assessment.

Drek's Father: Well, you have a point there.

Drek: I mean- I like Colin Powell. I think he's an honorable man, I think he's a dedicated patriot. I think he's been badly used by this administration, and was pushed into some positions that he didn't want, but he did it anyway because that's what he signed up for when he took the post as Secretary of State. He serves at the pleasure of the President. If Colin Powell was on a ticket in the future, I'd want to know what his platform was, but I wouldn't hold the last four years against him.

Drek's Father: I hear that.

Drek: But the rest of Bush's cabinet? Rice, and Ashcroft, and Rumsfeld, and all the rest? As far as I'm concered you could shoot the whole damn lot of them into the sun and do the world a favor.

Drek's Father: Even the... uh... the Secretary of Agriculture?

Drek: Don't even get me started on Ann Veneman. Stupid USDA!

Drek's Father: laughs

Monday, January 10, 2005

D-Minus Six and Counting...

Well, this is, essentially, the week. As regular readers are aware, I have been home for such an extra-long, extra-gooey, extra-mind-numbing visit with my parents in order to attend my sister's wedding. As this wedding is happening the day before my departure for my real home (you know... where I go to grad school) the experience of waiting for it resembles, in spirit at least, the experience of being tied to a pair of railroad tracks while the 5:30 Express from Dayton comes chugging around the corner.

The true joy of a wedding however isn't the actual wedding, but rather is in the plethora of bizarre social functions that precede it. So, it isn't so much that the wedding will happen in six days and then be over, it's that is starts slowly and gradually, days in advance, and builds to a crescendo of family dysfunction. A bit like what would happen if each car in the 5:30 Express from Dayton was heavier than the last, increasing in weight from a few pounds to a few tons, gradually crushing the life out of your helpless, bound form. Yay.

So, for those who are curious, as well as those who intend to watch with some sort of sick, twisted, glee (I'm feeling the love here, Brayden) here's the schedule for this week:

Monday: The calm before the storm. No significant wedding-related activity today. However, in order to make sure that I don't enjoy myself or get any work done, I have been conveniently scheduled for a visit to the dentist. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Tuesday: Meeting with the florist, who brings new meaning to the term, "Cracker." I have been advised that I will be needed at this meeting, although I cannot begin to speculate as to why. I know about as much about flowers as fish do about bicycles. My mother's sister and her husband will be arriving on this day along with, and I'm totally serious here, their poodle. They have a fucking poodle. You know, the dogs that look like lace doilies made flesh? In the evening I will be cooking lentil soup and pita bread for dinner, about which my Aunt is sure to complain. Fortunately I should have the sweet tones of my mother and Aunt indulging in sibling rivalry to distract me.

Wednesday: My sister and her fiancee arrive from Tallahassee. They will be bringing their dog, a large German Shorthair-pointer mix named Lucy. With luck, Lucy will mistake my Aunt's poodle for a chew toy and do her canine duty. More likely we'll just have hairy, drooling mammals chasing each other around the house... and I'd rather that not start up until my Dad's brothers arrive. Final arrangements with the caterer will be made today. Given current weather projections, I expect to find my mother on the back lawn with the entrails of a goat performing some sort of lack-of-rain dance.

Thursday: My father's brothers and their wives arrive. Let the dominance games begin! By this point my sister will likely be going slightly insane from the combined presence of my mother and Aunt. As the bride's brother, it will be my job to distract them from my sister. Right now, I'm thinking there's a conveniently placed vase in the living room that would shatter nicely. I'm so accident prone. My sister's friend Danielle arrives today. Unless she forgets, which is a real possibility. No word on whether she will be bringing all four of her dogs, which range from "Old, smelly, and crotchety," to "young, hyper, and athletic."

Friday: The day of the bridal shower. My sister opens gifts and pretends to be happy since, unfortunately, she will be receiving very few power tools. Her fiancee may be involved in this event but, in the tradition of brothers-in-law everywhere, I'm hoping to help him escape from the asylum for a few hours. Arriving today are most of my cousins, including my favorite cousin Sarah and her husband Scott, and miscellaneous other friends.

Saturday: The wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. I'm looking forward to the playacting involved in this event, as well as seeing just how bizarre I'm going to look escorting one of the bride's maids. As I will be escorting my sister's college friend Susan, who is a diminutive Indian doctor, I rather expect to look quite bizarre. The dress for the rehearsal dinner seems to be gradually creeping up the formality scale, having increased from "Jeans and a nice shirt" to "Slacks and a buttoned shirt" already, so I rather expect to be in a suit for the event. This promises to be an interesting experience, as I did not bring any suits with me. Also today we will be collecting the tuxedos from the shop, and discovering how many of us have garments of the wrong size. If previous experience is a guide, I'll be in shoes three sizes too small. This evening will be the bachelor party. As the groom is a former sailor, I expect quite an event. As I don't drink, and am therefore a born designated driver, I expect to be invited. Knowing my luck, I expect to go to sleep Sunday morning smelling like a three-dollar hooker.

Sunday: Der Tag. The wedding happens in the early afternoon, which means that the process of readying the bride must begin at the crack of dawn. As a groomsman, and a member of the bride's family, I'll be expected to monitor the groom and prevent him from fleeing. This shouldn't be a problem, as I can easily outsprint him. Once we reach the reception, I will keep my eyes peeled for the first drunken hookups and the chicken dance. With luck I will avoid getting pigeonholed by that one relative who still thinks I'd make a great member of the clergy.

So, that's my week in a nutshell. Stay tuned for random, sporadic updates that really aren't important to anyone.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Conversations with a Bush Voter, Part II...

Drek: There is some suggestive, though not conclusive, evidence about the death penalty that shows-

BV: See, that's one thing. You can show me research all day, and the research might be right, but I'm just not going to believe it. That bit about it being unfair to minorities? It might be, but I'm just not going to believe it.

Drek: Well... all right. If that's what you want. Would someone pass the potatoes, please?

BV: But how are you going to deal with someone like me?

Drek: I think you're acting like an idiot, but what else am I supposed to do?

BV: No, look, you're doing this research and it says one thing, then there are people like me who just aren't going to believe it. What are you going to do about it? You know, to convince me to stop supporting it?

Drek: Oh! That's easy, that isn't my problem. I'm a scientist, I'm interested in facts, not setting policy. It's our job to figure out how the world works and then to make that information available to others. What the body politic chooses to do with that information is another matter entirely.

Drek's Father: 'Body politic?' You sound like a goddamned academic!

Drek: Thank you! Would you pass an academic the potatoes, please?

BV: No, but, see, you might just be doing your research, and you're not actively trying to set policy, but your research might still make my position look pretty stupid.

Drek:Well, then maybe you should consider changing to a position that doesn't make you look quite so stupid.

Drek's Father: Oh, now I don't believe that.

Drek: Fine, no problem. By that logic, though, you should believe that the sun does orbit the Earth, diseases really are caused by imbalances in the four humours, and that airplanes are kept in the sky by fairy dust and happy thoughts.

BV: laughs

Drek: Now, seriously, there's a bowl of potatoes on the table right there, would someone please pass it over here?

Drek's Father: Eat something closer to ya'.

Drek: And people wonder why I turned out the way I did.

Once again, amazingly, I didn't make the preceding up.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Award shows on Planet Drek...

And the award for, Best Christian-themed Television Program that Sounds Vaguely like a Porno, goes to:

Touched by an Angel!

Let's give them a big round of applause!

And, let's give additional rounds of applause to Legend Studio's fine movies: Pimped by an Angel and the sequel, Pimped by an Angel 2. Way to go, guys!

And our next award, Best Example of a whole Country Getting Fucked by a Hanful of Assholes goes to:

The House Republicans!

And now for a word from our sponsor: The 2008 Republican Primaries!

Yes, the 2008 Republican Primaries: Where is doesn't matter who wins, because everyone is a loser.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Well, thanks for the update.

From the Orlando Sentinel, Monday January 3rd, 2005

Pope says faith can be helpful during disasters.

Vatican City- Pope John Paul II said Sunday that faith can be helpful during catastrophes such as the Indian Ocean tsunamis by reminding sufferers of God's continued presence. "Faith teaches us that even in the most difficult and painful trials, as in the disasters which struck in these days in Southeast Asia, God never abandons us," John Paul said.


Also in the news:

Water is Wet

Fire Burns

I mean, seriously, the Pope says that faith is a good thing. How exactly is that news?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Don't look at me, I just work here.

Hey, despite the fact that he put it up yesterday, Slag wrote the post for today. Go read it, enter the contest, win the prize. Maybe if we're lucky this blog will have a goddamned prize patrol someday. With Ed Macmahon. Oh, and incessant junkmail.

Yeah... junkmail.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Yet Another Total Drek Contest!

What time is it, boys and girls? It's time for another Total Drek Contest(TM)!

In honor of tomorrow night's Orange Bowl, college football's "national" "championship," Drek and I (mostly I) are offering a college football-themed contest. (Drek: This is why I love having a co-blogger. I would never do anything like that in a million years.)

Here's the contest: match the following silly college fight song lyrics (numbered 1-20) with the college they represent (lettered A-T). These are carefully selected as some of the silliest fight song lyrics in all of college football. Have a read:

1. "Beavers, beavers, fighters through and through!"
2. "Boomer sooner, O. K. U.!"
3. "Bruins roam the hills of Westwood."
4. "Bulldog, bulldog, bow wow wow!"
5. "Each loyal son knows that Colgate will lose."
6. "Fight on and win for old S. C.!"
7. "For dear old State, we'll yell like hell!"
8. "Hail to the victors valiant, hail to the conquering heroes!"
9. "He always sings raggy music to his cattle as he swings."
10. "Hullaballoo, caneck, caneck!"
11. "I'm Carolina born and Carolina bred, and when I die, I'll be Carolina dead."
12. "It's harder to push them over the line than pass the Dardanelles."
13. "Love of family, love of friends, love of country too..."
14. "Oskie wow-wow!"
15. "Our coeds are the fairest, and each one's a shining star."
16. "Rah-rah-rah for Ski-U-Mah!"
17. "Teach the Bulldogs to behave, send the Yellow Jackets to a watery grave."
18. "That's why all the folks on Rocky Top get their corn from a jar."
19. "The stadium rings as everyone signs."
20. "We'll all have drinks at Theodore Zincks..."

A. Cornell University
B. Mississippi State University
C. Oregon State University
D. Syracuse University
E. Texas A&M University
F. University of Alabama
G. University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
H. University of Illinois
I. University of Iowa
J. University of Michigan
K. University of Minnesota
L. University of North Carolina
M. University of Nebraska
N. University of Oklahoma
O. University of Southern California
P. University of Tennessee
Q. University of Utah
R. University of Washington
S. University of Wyoming
T. Yale University

Just match up numbers to the appropriate letters. Post your responses as comments to this post, or E-mail them to me at joe_slag@yahoo.com. The deadline to enter is this Friday; the winner will be announced next Monday. Get the most correct answers and win!

What do you win? What do you win!? Besides the love and admiration of Slag and thousands - millions - of Total Drek readers? You want something tangible, punk?

Well, then, here's what you win: a small measure of control over the future of Total Drek. Drek and I will give you a one-time pass to suggest a blogging topic for Total Drek. Want to hear what Slag thinks about social network analysis? Want to hear what Drek did with that piranha and his sister's birthday cake when he was 11? Dream up anything you want, and we'll post about it!

Fight on, Total Drek!

Conversations with a Bush Voter...

BV: So, let's assume that the people who vote are a representative sample of the population...

Drek: They're not, but okay.

BV: Okay, no, they're not, but they're the only ones that matter.

Drek: No, they're not.

BV: Look, if you're too lazy to vote, then your opinion doesn't matter.

Drek: It's not necessarily that they're too lazy.

BV: Say what?

Drek: Well, they may just not think that voting will do any good.

BV: Right. So they just sit at home. It's like I always say, if you don't vote, then you can't bitch!

Drek: But just because they're not voting, it doesn't mean that they're sitting at home.

BV: What?

Drek: Okay, let's say you want to boil a pan of water: Would you rub green Jell-O on your face and jerk off for two hours?

BV: Um.... probably not.

Drek: Right, you wouldn't do that because you don't think it'll make water boil. What you would do is something you thought would help, like put a pan of water on the stove and turn on the heat.

BV: Okay.

Drek: So, if you think that voting is about as useful for changing government policy as rubbing your face with green Jell-O and jerking off, then you're going to do something other than vote, like bomb a federal building.

BV: Ah.

Drek: If people aren't voting, it might be because they're too lazy to vote, or it might be because it takes valuable time away from something they think will help more... like practicing with the local ultra-extremist militia.

BV: And we can't tell which one it is?

Drek: Not reliably.

BV: Okay. That's a problem.

Drek: Well, there ya' go.

Amazingly, I didn't make any of the preceding up.

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