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October 04, 2005

Ten things

These are just little factlets I have been keeping in the back of my mind for potential use in blog posts. Those blog posts seem not to be forthcoming, so I'm just going to dump them here.

1) I have said more than once that I think Zhang Yimou's Huozhe is the best film of the 20th Century. So far, nothing in the 21st Century comes close either. Second place: Crooklyn.

2) Lares Tresjan played jíbaro on the street in the off-season. She seemed impossibly old when I knew her: perhaps as much as 40. During the summer, she worked the fields south of Buffalo and came in to town for left-wing politicial events at the University. Her voice was stentorian, commanding. She looked as if she were made of leather. She was sinewy. She was charming. Before I left Buffalo, I went to New York for a large demonstration. I ran into her on Christopher Street. She was busking. She was overjoyed to see me. We chatted for ten minutes, then she went back to playing her old nylon-string guitar. I haven't seen her in 23 years. I think of her whenever I hear jíbaro.

3) There are certain objects that - through some unknown biomechanical or ethereal process - markedly reduce the intelligence of their owners. Examples of such objects include cell phones, off-road vehicles, jet skis, televisions, and Sport Utility Vehicles. I have documented abundant evidence of this phenomenon, which I propose we name "The Volvo Effect."

4) Rebecca Solnit, in the current issue of Orion, describes a populist revolution in the southern countries in South America. Bolivian peasants organize general strikes, ecuador has banned the privatization of water, the workers' movement in Brazil that catapulted Lula into power racks up strategic gains despite Lula's lackluster performance, workers in Argentina responded to the monetary crisis by creating a sustainable, non-monetary economy - and the liberal president declares that repaying the IMF's loans is a lower priority than meeting the needs of Argentinians. I wonder if that ticket I buy to La Paz ought to be one-way.

5) Thistle has been biting Becky. He sidles up to her. She pets him, long gentle strokes on his head and spine. Then, after five or ten minutes of petting, he turns and nips her. I think he's in love with her. Becky isn't taking it well.

6) It turns out I can digitize my old tape collection reasonably well, with only minor hissing as a result. I may be able to free up several cubic feet of storage space.

7) Did you ever really look at your hands? No, man, I mean really look at them. It's like, whoa.

8) It turns out, after several months of effort and study and experimentation, that I am apparently caffeine's chattel property. I got all the way down to the equivalent of a third of a cup of coffee per day, held it there for about a month, and got tired of the persistent fuzziness and fatigue. Going back to two double espressos daily solved the problem. Four double espressos turns out to be twice as good. It has occurred to me that I may, all these decades, have been self-medicating for some variant of Attention Defici

9) Favorite countries or regions as regards the autochthonous music theirein, listed in descending order: Central Andes ("Peroliviador"); Mali; Portugal; Ethiopia; Mexico; Thailand; Tuva; Madagascar. Order subject to change without notice.

10) I am actually looking forward to seeing Barstow. I may go so far as to visit Pearce Ferry. Elko would be acceptable. I miss Elko. Elko used to hold a deeper meaning for me, and I miss that too.

Posted by Chris Clarke at October 4, 2005 05:42 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:

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(3) Actually, what you describe is an example of the larger theory of "instrumental culture", which views the person-tool relationship as always two-way and mutually adaptive. In other words, tools train us to use them, and ultimately train us to depend on them. This can be a negative effect (the examples you list) or a positive effect (books, recycling bins, literate blogs). Same mechanism either way.

Posted by: Jarrett at October 4, 2005 07:09 PM
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Of all the objects that reduce their owners' intelligence, Blackberries are the worst--and the felony is compounded by the fact that these little hand-held intstruments of the devil are designed to spread the idiocy of their owners.

It's like someone made H5N1 the Executive Accessory.

Posted by: Lindsay Beyerstein at October 4, 2005 07:46 PM
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re 3) although i've observed volvo driving since the pre-cell-phone era, i just can't put a volvo in the same "worthless" class as an SUV, or most of the other stuff listed. plus, lindsay's blackberry observation is great.

re 5) sounds like bunny love, for sure. secret tip -- bunnies kind of melt if you rub that very soft place just behind and between the ears. also, they like jaw rubs, seeing how they chew so much. and run when you are done.

and 10) holy hell, you are truly desperate to get out of town, if barstow is looking good.

Posted by: kathy a at October 4, 2005 08:51 PM
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I promise not to nip becky if she wants to change pets.

Posted by: susurra at October 4, 2005 09:29 PM
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7) Did you ever really look at your hands? No, man, I mean really look at them. It's like, whoa.

I got precisely that effect from caffeine withdrawal - one morning I remember gradually slowing down, feeling a bit drowsy and a bit confused, and then... my thumb! my thumb is huge! my other thumb... let's see... my other thumb's just as big! Wow... At that point I remembered I'd skipped coffee at breakfast. Normal service was restored, returned, reduplimacated, whatever.

Posted by: Phil at October 5, 2005 12:59 AM
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7) Did you ever really look at your hands? No, man, I mean really look at them. It's like, whoa.

Yeah. Totally. Now really focus on them -- yours or someone else's, though yours will be best because you will be able to feel it out -- and draw them doing stuff, like cupping water or playing an instrument. Endlessly cool, even to the caffeine-free.

Posted by: Sara at October 5, 2005 06:27 AM
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OMG, My favorite post yet! Your ADD-like coverage of the 'topics map' was beyond endearing to a fellow deficiter.

And screw the naysayers! I'm ok with being caffeine's concubine. It's better than ritalin...I think. I don't really know so... unfounded advice, but whatever.

And yeah, the hand thing... I was JUST doing this like a fraction of a day ago and seriously... whoa.

Posted by: Misty at October 5, 2005 06:58 AM
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3) Jet skis. Arrrrr. We hates them, yes we do.


8)I've quit quitting. I'm caffeine's bitch and always will be.

Posted by: Stephanie at October 5, 2005 07:45 AM
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3) Notice too that all of those objects are intended to do their jobs as noisily as possible. (Add snow/leaf blowers to the list.)

6) Really? How? I've been wanting to transfer my aging cassettes to iTunes for ages now!

7) Try looking at your _feet_. Trippy, man.

8) I'd much rather have a small dose of caffiene every day and risk the headaches than have no caffiene and risk the panic attacks that result if I accidently drink something caffinated. And, bwah!

Posted by: Rana at October 5, 2005 08:03 AM
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7. I love looking at my hands. I think hands can be very sensual.

8. Thirteen years ago a doctor told me I needed to give up coffee. I was shocked-- I asked if I had to give up caffeine. He said no, just coffee. I could drink all the black tea I wanted. It was quite an easy transition. Black tea has more caffeine, but none of the bitter, jitters, or DNA replicating amino acid imitating properties of coffee. We steep a big pot of English breakfast tea every morning and haven't missed that nasty bean even once.

Posted by: Rexroths Daughter at October 5, 2005 08:09 AM
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i think #7 and #10 indicate self medication stronger than coffee.

i like the comments re #3.

try the black tea.

Posted by: dread pirate roberts at October 5, 2005 09:40 AM
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Mmmmm, black tea.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at October 5, 2005 09:50 AM
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Peroliviadorian music is very cool. Try some Colombian music. Andean tunes, African rhythms, Latin harmonies.

Volvos, unlike leaf blowers, Blackberries and jet skis, do not automatically make their users more stupid; it only seems that way. Some 25 years ago a friend of mine published an essay about how Walkmans were going to have that effect. Was he right? It's hard to tell, my iPod is on too loud.

Posted by: Charles at October 5, 2005 08:15 PM
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I'm so out of touch it took me over a minute to realize Lindsay's comment wasn't about gardening.

Posted by: Jim Flannery at October 6, 2005 11:13 AM
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