Why indeed.

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

Well, it’s down to the final days and Sammy and I seem to turn away from political coverage in general…it’s all a bit much. So let’s vote already, and see where it goes.

I do wonder why, sometimes…simply…why.

So does Dan Wood, software developer and ponderer.

Arched eyebrows.

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

Hello from St. Louis, where Sammy is conferring with muchos archaeologists at a downtown Marriott, literally across the street from Busch Stadium, the home of tonight’s final NLCS playoff game. The big ol’ arch is a block away. Me, I’m checking in to our Holiday Inn Express a mile away, where I find two traveling folks who didn’t quite get a strong enough wireless signal last night in their room–ah, yes, another Titanium Powerbook.

Ryan and Natalie are from San Francisco, and they’re traveling to the battleground states with a multimedia presentation–a four-screen DV extravaganza shot in and around the Republican convention. “Here, have a copy,” Ryan said, grabbing a DVD off of a spindle. And so I have a copy…nicely done…edited and burned on his Powerbook, clean, with a surround sound mix…a true manifestation of the democratization of the technology of television.

The Portapak pioneers who tried this kind of guerrilla television (I have a book from 1971 with that very name) back in the day had a noisy, low-res black and white picture as a reward for toting the not-so-portable equipment around. Now, it’s all so much easier, and yet the subject matter (Republicans in the wild, gathering in massive, uninspired cocktail-swilling clumps) remains familiarly unpleasant.

* * * * *

Both places we’ve stayed on this trip have had wireless internet and a freely available PC in the lobby, and I’ve come to conclude there’s a vast number of travelers for whom an internet check is a crucial part of their morning ritual. Last night’s place seemed to skew older…the place today have lots of twentysomething wanderers. The documentarians, and a couple of guys traveling around promoting Sobe drinks…wandering america on two dollar a gallon gas.

Why this election matters, part XCMXV.

Sunday, October 17th, 2004

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) — Fears of a terrorist attack are not sufficient reason for authorities to search people at a protest, a federal appeals court has ruled, saying September 11, 2001, “cannot be the day liberty perished.”

A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Friday that protesters may not be required to pass through metal detectors when they gather next month for a rally against a U.S. training academy for Latin American soldiers.

Authorities began using the metal detectors at the annual School of the Americas protest after the terrorist attacks, but the court found that practice to be unconstitutional.

“We cannot simply suspend or restrict civil liberties until the War of Terror is over, because the War on Terror is unlikely ever to be truly over,” Judge Gerald Tjoflat wrote for the three-member court. “September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country.”

City officials in Columbus, Georgia, contended the searches were needed because of the elevated risk of terrorism, but the court threw out that argument, saying it would “eviscerate the Fourth Amendment.”

“In the absence of some reason to believe that international terrorists would target or infiltrate this protest, there is no basis for using September 11 as an excuse for searching the protesters,” the court said.

Michael Greenberger, law professor and director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Health and Homeland Security, said the ruling could have broader implications if it is used to challenge aspects of the Patriot Act.

It was surprising, he said, coming from the conservative-leaning 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, but the opinion was “very well-reasoned” and reflected “conventional application of constitutional principles.”

First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams said that though there are steps the government can take to protect people from terrorism, “that doesn’t mean we just dispense with the Bill of Rights as a consequence of 9/11.”

“We don’t yet live in a society in which everyone must always go through metal detectors everywhere we go.”

Contrail to popular belief.

Sunday, October 17th, 2004

When we go way out in the country…either up to the North Georgia mountains or way, way north to Upper Michigan, the shore of Lake Superior, one part of civilization that tends to intrude on the pristine wilderness are these white streaks across the sky, the distant signs of people being carried in aluminum tubes from point A to point B at 550 mph.

Pretty? Sometimes. Defacing a clear blue sky? Yeah, sometimes that. Dangerous? Well, could be.

This picture from NASA gives you a pretty clear indication of why it’s of some concern. I remember a few years back Star Trek:The Next Generation ran an episode where they discovered that the use of faster-than-light speeds was causing permanent damage to the fabric of the universe itself. I guess this is just one more place where actions–and the development of technology–has its consequences.

In the form of a question.

Thursday, October 14th, 2004

Well, I’m excited…my sister is now “in the pool” to appear on Jeopardy, a year after my brother’s appearance. She’s written a great sum-up of her Culver City experience (Californians get to go to the mother ship to take the test).

[and an update: they called her the next day, so she’ll be heading up from San Diego for a taping the day after election day. “Alex, what is uncertainty about our country’s future?”]

I was going to point you to my brother’s summary of his experience (he did great in the first two-thirds of the show), but all I could find on his site was this reference. If you run in to him, though, he tells good stories as well.

And yes, I believe I made some sort of deal with my sister that if she got on the show, I would try out after her appearance. So the die is cast…

Comforts of Hudson Drive.

Sunday, October 10th, 2004

Home again, we are. Familiar environs, the comforts of knowing exactly where to reach for a certain fork or a certain glass…knowing how hard to swing the back door so it snaps shut.

The back yard has a fine coating of leaves and twigs, a lot of the debris from the storm we didn’t sit through—hurricane Ivan’s remnants. But the house is more or less as clean as we left it, if you ignore the mountain of junk mail that came flying in through the front door. Why is it that charitable organizations we give money to seem to squander it on pounds of direct mail solicitations?

We had great weather, we had good times with some wonderful folks, and all in all I feel ready to move into the fall here, among the familiar, safe at home.


Wednesday, October 6th, 2004

It’s a quarter till midnight…wait, it’s a quarter till one…wait..it’s…I’m just confused about what time it is, which must mean one of several things…I’m exhausted in the wake of the Edwards-Cheney debate…I’m loaded down with fine Mexican food, and, oh yeah, I’m in Fort Wayne!

Yep, Sam and I are on the “return” portion of our great journey, and it’s actually an interesting one, since we get to stop and see friends we may well only see once a year. Sure, we have to put up with the uncertainty of what time it is here on any given street, since I think it’s a law in Indiana that folks can pick from a menu of available time zones on a zip code-by-zip code basis. Sure, we have to dodge the occasional disturbed Jack Russell Terrier, but believe me, it’s a pleasure.

Before the end of the week (when Sammy turns another year older), we’ll be home, simultaneously tired and refreshed, informed, entertained, and, well, ready for the next..hurricane?