This is Zach's personal blog. If you're looking for his movies, please click here. Otherwise, have fun!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Late for America.

What do you call a political activist who shows up late for rallies?

I'm sorry, I don't have the answer to this riddle, unless it's "Squelch."*

Since voter verification is very dear to my heart, I decided to drag D and E to a rally for passage of the House bill to mandate it; it was today at noon in front of a House office building. We took the Metro, of course, because D's nuts about it, and since it was noon, I packed bag lunches for all of us, which I thought was a very progressive thing to do, even if one of the lunches was a meat sandwich.

Between trying to find a parking spot at the station, and then disembarking at Union Station instead of Capitol South (I thought it would be a nice walk, which it was, and also faster, which it wasn't), we got there forty-five minutes late. It was still going on, though. Then D informed me that he needed to use the potty, and when a four year old says that, you jump. So, off to find the stroller-accessible entrance, through the security, into the bathroom and the washing of hands, out again, and ta-da! the rally was over. We didn't even arrive in time to see Medley's spirit.

Just as well, really, as by that point the kids were so tired and hungry that even extremely entertaining oratory wouldn't have kept them from crying--D was actually just sitting whenever we stopped walking. So I found us a picnic table in a shady spot and we had lunch, then back home via the Metro we went, slightly more politically aware--or at least, more scheduling aware.

*Actual political activism not included.

A link between the U.S. and chemical weapons? Invade ourselves!

K's mother sent us this editorial by Paul Krugman, which I'm rather surprised hasn't hit the blogosphere (or at least the tiny slice which I read) yet:
In April 2003, John Ashcroft's Justice Department disrupted what appears to have been a horrifying terrorist plot. In the small town of Noonday, Tex., F.B.I. agents discovered a weapons cache containing fully automatic machine guns, remote-controlled explosive devices disguised as briefcases, 60 pipe bombs and a chemical weapon � a cyanide bomb � big enough to kill everyone in a 30,000-square-foot building.

Strangely, though, the attorney general didn't call a press conference to announce the discovery of the weapons cache, or the arrest of William Krar, its owner. He didn't even issue a press release. This was, to say the least, out of character. Jose Padilla, the accused "dirty bomber," didn't have any bomb-making material or even a plausible way to acquire such material, yet Mr. Ashcroft put him on front pages around the world. Mr. Krar was caught with an actual chemical bomb, yet Mr. Ashcroft acted as if nothing had happened.

... it sounds over the top to accuse Mr. Ashcroft of trying to bury news about terrorists who don't fit his preferred story line. Yet it's hard to believe that William Krar wouldn't have become a household name if he had been a Muslim, or even a leftist. Was Mr. Ashcroft, who once gave an interview with Southern Partisan magazine in which he praised "Southern patriots" like Jefferson Davis, reluctant to publicize the case of a terrorist who happened to be a white supremacist?
Read the whole thing.

Monday, June 21, 2004

News flash.

I feel left out and underappreciated. Yeah, I know, what else is new?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Sniff, sniff.

I'm not quite sure this passes the smell test, but as they say, it's "important, if true":
The President's abrupt dismissal of CIA Directory George Tenet Wednesday night is, aides say, an example of how he works.

"Tenet wanted to quit last year but the President got his back up and�wouldn't hear of it," says an aide.�"That would have been the opportune time to make a change, not in the middle of an election campaign but when the director challenged the President during the meeting Wednesday, the President cut him off by saying 'that's it George. I cannot abide disloyalty. I want your resignation and I want it now."

Tenet was allowed to resign "voluntarily" and Bush informed his shocked staff of the decision Thursday morning. One aide says the President actually described the decision as "God's will."

God may also be the reason Attorney General John Ashcroft, the administration�s lightning rod because of his questionable actions that critics argue threatens freedoms granted by the Constitution, remains part of the power elite. West Wing staffers call Bush and Ashcroft �the Blues Brothers� because �they�re on a mission from God.�

�The Attorney General is tight with the President because of religion,� says one aide. �They both believe any action is justifiable in the name of God.�

But the President who says he rules at the behest of God can also tongue-lash those he perceives as disloyal, calling them �fucking assholes� in front of other staff, berating one cabinet official in front of others and labeling anyone who disagrees with him �unpatriotic� or �anti-American.�

�The mood here is that we�re under siege, there�s no doubt about it,� says one troubled aide who admits he is looking for work elsewhere. �In this administration, you don�t have to wear a turban or speak Farsi to be an enemy of the United States. All you have to do is disagree with the President.�

I can't picture George W. Bush putting the words "I cannot abide disloyalty" together. That's just not the way he talks. Plus, the reliance on anonymous sources puts a nasty, David Brock-esque taint on the whole thing. Still, it's pretty juicy, ain't it?

(Never mind that other headline on the Web page: Prominent DC Shrink Diagnoses Bush to be a Paranoid, Sadistic Meglomaniac.)


When even a professionally written (and edited, dammit!) blog can fuck up the "it's" vs. "its" construction, is there any hope for the rest of us?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

That, and it's wreaked havoc with my user interface habits.

Well, I had considered myself far too sophisticated for video games (except vintage ones, of course) and then I downloaded the Call of Duty demo for Mac. I surrender, and I ain't talking at the hands of the Germans, but at the hands of Activision and Aspyr. Who knew death and carnage could be so addictive?

Me being me, of course, I always wonder whether the Nazi officer I just shot had a family back home that loved him and waited for his safe return.

Still, looking at this game plus some of the on-line previews, I have to admit I've haven't given game animation a chance; I had always said to myself that I'd sooner starve than animate for video games. But if you look at this set of clips from the Stalingrad scenario (warning, huge download and non-standard codecs, but worth it), you have to ask yourself: sure, it's low-polygon, but is it not movie quality? Some of the Infocom games (and their descendants) proved there was such a thing as interactive fiction; could it be that the long awaited "interactive cinema" is already here?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

"U.S. Acres I think is an abomination." -- Bill Watterson.

Since two of my favorite blogs have already linked to the Slate article about Garfield, the Movie, I figured I'd have to go my own way...

Sunday, June 13, 2004

A dimension of mind.

I was once haranguing a friend. He listened to me describe my despondence regarding the inability to write, and my deep resentment of those who seemed to have success handed to them wherever they were. I went on and on, angry and bitter, and finally concluded, �But it�s all my own fault, of course; the problem is me, and that I don�t feel passionate about anything enough!�

�Really?� he said, archly. �You seem pretty passionate about this!�

He went on to explain that since I clearly had a lot of energy and so forth regarding this topic that perhaps I should think about channeling that energy into creative work, somehow.

Now, of course, I�ve decided that I�m just not a writer, so it doesn�t matter anyway, and I should be thankful that I don�t have those problems to worry about anymore.

But it doesn�t work that way, does it?

We went to the city pool yesterday. I don�t swim, so I grabbed my PowerBook, took up residence at a picnic table, and began writing an article about a high school teacher who also happens to be an alumnus of my college. It was in my head because of my ten-year college reunion, which was also his fiftieth. I was going to attend but I was sure he wasn�t. Naturally, I missed it, and I found out that he not only attended, but delivered a talk.

In any case, I thought an article about him, and about my failed, last-minute attempt to visit the campus and catch him, would make good reading, and maybe something which the alumni magazine would publish. So, I started writing.

The news wasn�t that I failed. The news was that I succeeded. Well, I succeeded in at least the first few paragraphs, and then suddenly it was time to leave. I was dumbfounded. I was writing again! Not only that, but I was writing at a picnic table with distractions all around me. I had gotten into the closed-off zone of a working writer, where nothing matters but the words on the page. I hadn�t been there since 1999. The furniture was a little dusty, but the inhabitants welcomed me.

Of course, they reminded me that I had, in fact, only written a few paragraphs, and they needed serious revision (which was always my weak point). But the journey was significant.

If I had to guess, I�d say there were three factors that allowed me to jump into the Writing Zone, however briefly. First of all, time: a block of time in which I had nothing to do but the will to write. Second of all, company: There wasn�t any. I was for all intents and purposes alone�no kids to look after, no wife to feel guilty about abandoning. Third, and maybe most important, place: I wasn�t at home, where chores and other distractions overwhelm me. I finally understood why so many writers choose to work in diners. They aren�t technically alone, but in essence it�s just them and their coffee.

So where does that leave me? Either I need to force a block of time in my life (if I want to write), or I need to wait until both my kids are in school, and walk down to the New Deal Caf� with my laptop on a regular basis.

Then I just have to hope they don�t have Wi-Fi, because we all know what the ultimate distraction is.

Saturday, June 12, 2004


All right, I get incensed about silly things. But what the fuck, really: am I stupid, or is "form factor" a snotty, high-tech way to say "shape"?

Friday, June 11, 2004


Whew! What a week to take a vacation, huh?

Naturally, we had told our neighbor, who was collecting our mail, that she was free to recycle the newspapers as they came in. After all, no one reads yesterday's papers, right?

Unless, of course, Reagan dies and there's a state funeral in your hometown, and your local paper breaks the story of White House memos which virtually legalize torture...

Ah well. At least we listened to NPR a lot.

Thursday, June 03, 2004


I'm on vacation 'til Friday June 11, visiting Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine (though not, alas, Colby), and Connecticut. If you need to reach me, please contact the liar.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Pants aflame.

Read this and combat the lies.

There was only one liar in the 2000 election, and it wasn't Al Gore. Now he's doing it again.
Last Monday in Little Rock, Vice President Cheney said Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry "has questioned whether the war on terror is really a war at all" and said the senator from Massachusetts "promised to repeal most of the Bush tax cuts within his first 100 days in office."

On Tuesday, President Bush's campaign began airing an ad saying Kerry would scrap wiretaps that are needed to hunt terrorists.

The same day, the Bush campaign charged in a memo sent to reporters and through surrogates that Kerry wants to raise the gasoline tax by 50 cents.

On Wednesday and Thursday, as Kerry campaigned in Seattle, he was greeted by another Bush ad alleging that Kerry now opposes education changes that he supported in 2001.

The charges were all tough, serious -- and wrong, or at least highly misleading. Kerry did not question the war on terrorism, has proposed repealing tax cuts only for those earning more than $200,000, supports wiretaps, has not endorsed a 50-cent gasoline tax increase in 10 years, and continues to support the education changes, albeit with modifications.

Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts. Though stretching the truth is hardly new in a political campaign, they say the volume of negative charges is unprecedented -- both in speeches and in advertising.