Archive for May, 2004

The Bushes and the evangelical vote

May 30, 2004

A fascinating interview with Doug Wead, who was a liaison between the 1988 Bush campaign and the evangelical communities and an early sounding board for George W. Bush.

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Where I Was From

May 29, 2004

Joan Didion’s latest book is an extended reflection on California, seen through the eyes of a native Californian; a musing at length about how the mythology and promise of California differ sharply from its reality.

Come to think of it…every Joan Didion book I’ve read has been an extended reflection on California, seen through the eyes of a native Californian; a musing at length about how the mythology and promise of California differ sharply from its reality.

As a native Californian myself, I know narcissism when I see it, and I’m not going to let Joan Didion have all the fun.

Where was I from?

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Bush at War

May 29, 2004

I have finally read Bush at War, Bob Woodward’s application of his patented you-are-there-right-now technique to the workings of the Bush White House after September 11. As with all of Woodward’s books, it is a compelling and breezy read. A good sign about it is that I doubt its contents would surprise either Bush’s supporters or his detractors were they to read (or re-read) it today; the book strikes me as a basically accurate rendering that can be interpreted in a number of ways.

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Thursday evening at Onion Creek

May 28, 2004

After lolling around the Rice campus for a couple of hours yesterday evening, Thomas & Lori Gray, Booth Babcock and his girlfriend Moko, Lorin Gaertner (a friend of Lori and Booth’s) and I had dinner at the Onion Creek Coffee House up in the Heights. We found a table outside, and enjoyed the beautiful weather (this spring has been the best Houston has had since I moved here).

Onion Creek cultivates a laidback, Austin vibe (the Austin area has a stream called Onion Creek), and that atmosphere is the best part about the place. The service is okay, the wine / beer selection is okay, the noise level is too high, but not unbearable.

For being a bar / coffee house kind of place, Onion Creek has good food. I recommend the sandwiches. Also, if the only Frito pie you’ve ever had was in an elementary school cafeteria, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how it tastes with Grade A ingredients.

How to respond to bigoted remarks

May 23, 2004

Several years ago, I read Encountering Bigotry: Befriending Projecting Persons in Everyday Life, a book that is now out of print.

I came across my notes from the book, and thought they might be of interest:

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Gas prices

May 22, 2004

Harry Boswell has “some thoughts about gas prices”:

When you bought your enormous SUV with the huge V-8 engine, there was a sticker on the window. That gas mileage number on the sticker? It meant something. Stop whining.

Negativity in blogs

May 16, 2004

In his article “The Revolution Will Not Be Blogged”, George Packer notes that “bloggers are almost unfailingly contemptuous toward everyone except one another”.

I have noticed that blogs (including this one) tend to be negative, snarky, cynical, accusatory, etc. I wonder if that’s because anger and unhappiness provide the energy and motivation to write something—write a complaint, write a lament—to relieve our tension; whereas joy and happiness leave us relaxed and blissfully mute.

Lyrical surprises

May 15, 2004

As I was listening to the Beatles’ White Album recently, for only the third or fourth time since high school, I realized that “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey” is about sex. Somehow I didn’t pick up on that when I was a teenager.

The even bigger surprise, though, was that “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” is actually about tire-changing.

The shorter White Album

May 15, 2004

Many Beatles fans question the group’s decision to release The Beatles (“The White Album”) as a double album. Was there really enough good material to justify four sides? What might a single album crafted from that material have sounded like?

Compact discs and computerized playlists make it easy to answer the second question for ourselves. Click on the “Continue reading…” link to see my attempt at trimming down The Beatles to a single, strong album.

But don’t let me have all the fun—you, too, can make your own White Album! The only rules are that you have to use songs that were on the original White Album, and you’re limited to 30 minutes per album side. Drop me a line when you’re done.

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Half-Price Books: The home of serendipity

May 15, 2004

I was browsing the CD racks at my neighborhood Half-Price Books yesterday when I found three old CD singles that I doubt I would have been able to find had I been looking for them. But I would never have thought to look for them, so there they were.

They went off in the mail this morning to a friend who isn’t going to believe that I found them.