post-election journaling: America may just survive after all

Well, it seems America may just survive after all...

I had requested and received and absentee ballot, but found out almost too late that it had to be postmarked the day *before*, not the day of, the election. So I went over to the school and voted on the maybe-it-counts, maybe-it-doesn't, Diebold machine.

I had a test in my Nihongo class that afternoon, so I'm standing there in line for about 20 minutes, going over my note cards, muttering "muzukashi...difficult...omoroshii...interesting..." and hoping no one things I'm crazy...

Behind me in line, two older women, mid 60s to early 70s I'd say. Got into a little conversation, small talk, hearing an old lady at the polls tell me that they ought to kick the old guys in Congress out and let some young people in with some new ideas, well that made my day.

LA Times: "A clash of wills at 'Firecracker'"

Excellent story from the L.A. Times giving a first-hand account of combat in Iraq.

Sanchez: The rest of the squad was around the corner. It was just me and Kaminski. I turned back to make sure he was still there. I took a step, and I saw a big flash of light in front of my face, and I felt heat coming up. And I heard the boom. The next thing I know, I was laying facedown on the pavement. I didn't know what was going on, all the dust was everywhere. I just assumed I was dead.

Zelda's exercises, November 5

More Zelda's Inferno exercises:

1) free-write on the phrase: "the time he was buried alive"

the time he was buried alive, in sand at the beach by his older sister, who then went off and left him, just his face sticking out, getting sunburned, biting flies on his cheeks, that time seemed now to have been a foreshadowing of all of his relationships with women

the time he was buried alive in rose petals, tickertape, praise, buried in adulation, stuck in it unable to move

BBC: "Faking it as a priest in Japan"

The BBC reports on gaijin acting as "priests" in Japanese wedding ceremonies:

"I was living in Sapporo, studying Japanese, and I needed the money. It's far better paid than teaching in a language school," he said.

"Being a fake priest is big business in Japan - I've done a TV commercial for one company," he added. "In Sapporo, there are five agencies employing about 20 fake priests. In a city like Tokyo, there must be hundreds."

The fake Western priests are employed at Western-style weddings to give a performance and add to the atmosphere. These are not legal ceremonies - the couples also have to make a trip to the local registrar.

GOP goes "trivial and seamy" in negative campaining

E. J. Dionne runs down the Republicans' desperate, slimy, seedy, ugly campaigning this season.

...this year's campaign will mark the moment when Republican leaders who govern in the name of conservatism turned definitively away from hope and waged one of the most trivial and ugly campaigns in our country's history.

...

But this year Republican campaigners and their advocates in the conservative media have crossed line after line in sheer meanness, triviality and tastelessness. Conservative optimism and its promise of morning in America have curdled into the gloom of a Halloween midnight horror show.

stock-pumping via website cracking

The Motley Fool reports on a stock-pumping fraud scheme involving a clever use of compromised on-line brokerage accounts:

The new breed of brokerage account hacker isn't looking to milk your account dry. There are safeguards against that, since account redemptions would be delivered in your name to your home. No, a broker hacker is simply after the ability to pump up a thinly traded stock's price by selling your stocks and then using the proceeds to snap up shares of a targeted speculative stock in your account.

More voting machine madness

In another fine piece in Rolling Stone, RFK Jr. shows the state of security and reliability for computerized voting machines:

Georgia law mandates that any change made in voting machines be certified by the state. But thanks to Cox's agreement with Diebold, the company was essentially allowed to certify itself. "It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state," Hood told me. "We were told not to talk to county personnel about it..."

According to Hood, Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties - the state's largest Democratic strongholds. To avoid detection, Hood and others on his team entered warehouses early in the morning. "We went in at 7:30 a.m. and were out by 11," Hood says. "There was a universal key to unlock the machines, and it's easy to get access. The machines in the warehouses were unlocked. We had control of everything. The state gave us the keys to the castle, so to speak, and they stayed out of our way."...

Zelda's exercise, Oct 29

This week's Zelda's Inferno exercise was the "poetry obstacle course":

an empty bottle holds space, like the empty arms of one whose lover is gone
fire pulls in air from all sides and then pushes it upward
the river shapes its bed;
the riverbed shapes the river
books press the life out of words;
the reader breathes them back in
the waitress brought me coffee like a valkyrie taking me to Valhalla
seconds move by in a way that could be called "ticking" except that they were silent

oil and water still didn't mix
so he added an emulsifier

he pulled the planet toward him

Mother's voice gets more attention than alarm tones

CNN reports on a study showing that sleeping children awoke to recordings of their mothers' voices more quickly and more often than to a beeping smoke alarm.

The study of 24 children ages 6 to 12 found that 23 awoke to the recorded voice of their mother saying "(Child's first name)! (Child's first name)! Wake up! Get out of bed! Leave the room!" Fourteen of the children also awoke to the traditional tone alarm. One child didn't wake up to either.

The children who woke up to the voice did so at a median time of 20 seconds, compared with three minutes for those who woke up to the tone, according to the study by Columbus Children's Hospital researchers being released Monday in Pediatrics.

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