Gainesville Ramblings

This is a blog, and thus it barely qualifies as writing, let alone formal writing, so I'd not let it bother you.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Halloween Video

Enjoy. Just watch the car.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Folsom's been closed for twenty years."

In this post: Thoughts covering the Florida/Georgia weekend, which due to new restrictions, will now be called "The World's Largest Outdoor Coke Orgy."

Dave and I arrived in Jacksonville with weapons ready. There was a bottle of rum in our hands, barbeque in our stomachs, and a love of drinking and the Florida Gators in our hearts. Our base was the Holiday Inn Express, which was filled to the brim with Florida Fans, while a few hesitant Georgia fans slowly crept the halls, praying for a win or even a touchdown the next day.

As we prepared to go to the Landings, we discovered two things:

1) A group of Phi Siggers was staying at the hotel next door, meaning it would be cheaper to get to our ultimate destination.

2) A storm of pure hatred and malice was sweeping across the state and promised to bring nothing but wetness, cold, and misery to downtown Jacksonville about an hour after we got there. There was much anxiety, but still we persevered, confident that the amount we would drink would make everything alright.

Our arrival at the Landings was met by good omens. The first was coming across attractive girls in the back of a Monster Energy Drink truck. For some reason, they were sitting in a dark side street, so were very excited when they saw a large group of college kids desirous of a much needed caffeine pick-me-up. They gave us what seemed like three each. The drinks may have been disgusting, but they were helpful towards the completion of our goals that night.

The second good omen took the form of a Georgia girl. A very very drunk Georgia girl. She stumbled out of the morass of people, and made a straight line towards us. I think I was the closest male to her, so she immediately came for me. Normally, I would have been OK with a girl coming on to me, but two things dissuaded me this time: The first was that she was so drunk she could barely stand. Though it would amaze some people, I do have moral standards, and one of them is not blindly making out with random girls who are too drunk to make those decisions, let alone being able to do complicated things like walking or standing or talking. The second was the fact that she was a Georgia fan. Eww. Thank the Gods that Dani came over and pretended to be my boyfriend, as extricating myself from that situation would have been difficult. This girl then proceeded to rub up against just about every other guy in our group, eventually falling to the ground which forced the paramedics (who had been watching this) to come over and make sure she was still breathing. Eventually some of her friends arrived and took the poor girl away.

Knowing rain would soon be arriving, we forced our way upstairs to the food court and claimed our spot next to the best place in the whole Landings: The Cheap Beer Stand. Cheap beer, in this case, being 4 bucks for 24 oz. Not the best, but much better than anything else in the place.

Its at this point that things become fuzzy. I remember meeting Bethany (Grace) and her friend Kristin. I remember walking around with them for a bit. I found my group again, drank more beer, and got separated again. The crowd, by this time, was tightly packed as everyone had retreated into the Mall area to escape the rain. I got more beer, and found Katie Newman. I remember very little of our conversation, other than that it was drunken and probably funny. I'm sure I was suave and debonair. I'm sure.

By this time, my group was long gone. I finally noticed that they had sent me 12 text messages telling me to get my ass over to the statue of Andrew Jackson, our agreed upon meeting point. I bid my goodbyes to Ms. Newman and pushed my way through the crowd. This is when something that I will remember for quite a while, in spite of the alcoholic fog that had descended over my brain. As I was walking, I heard the guy in front of me say "I've been in prison." A smart man would have let this go, but I was drunk and feeling friendly. So I decided to make conversation. Plus, this guy looked all of 22 and about as frat-tastic as you can imagine, so I figure I could have some fun.

"What prison were you in?" I asked.

"Folsom," he replied. Now, I know my Johnny Cash, so I know two things: Folsom is in California, and it's closed (this last part was wrong, it ends up). So I said, most likely with a drunken attempt at a skeptical look, "Folsom's been closed for twenty years."

He turned, and that's all I had time to register before I discovered that he had elbowed me in the throat, throwing me back into the people behind me. He continued to glare at me, so I quickly put up my hands and tried to look as small and insignificant as I could. He turned back around and stalked off. I briefly considered trying to find a cop and file a complaint for battery, but decided against it as my friends were waiting.

When I arrived, we started looking for a taxi. It was raining pretty hard, and there was little to no cover where we were forced to wait, so we continued to get soaked. I thought it was awesome, I'm not gonna lie. Dubo's probably not in agreement with me, as she got pretty sick the next day. But eventually we got back to the hotel, where sleep eventually came.

The rest of the story will be posted tomorrow. Until then, Go Gators (oh, and they did).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

More Worthy Praise of Garrison Kieller

I know I talk about Mr. Kieller alot, but that's because he's one of the best story tellers I've ever heared. It also ends up that he's one of the better writers and political thinkers. Here's one of his latest columns, concerning the torture bill passed by the Senate. It says everything I could want to say on the subject.

Keillor: No need to worry about human rights - we're doing just fine
Garrison Keillor

Syndicated columnist

Salt Lake Tribune

I would not send my college kid off for a semester abroad if I were you. Last week, we suspended human rights in America, and what goes around comes around. Ixnay habeas corpus.

The U.S. Senate, in all its splendor and majesty, has decided that an "enemy combatant" is any non-citizen whom the president says is an enemy combatant, including your Korean greengrocer or your Swedish grandmother or your Czech au pair, and can be arrested and held for as long as authorities wish without any right of appeal to a court of law to examine the matter. If your college kid were to be arrested in Bangkok or Cairo, suspected of "crimes against the state" and held in prison, you'd assume that an American foreign service officer would be able to speak to your kid and arrange for a lawyer, but this may not be true anymore. Be forewarned.

The Senate also decided it's up to the president to decide whether it's OK to make these enemies stand naked in cold rooms for a couple days in blinding light and be beaten by interrogators. This is now purely a bureaucratic matter: The plenipotentiary stamps the file "enemy combatants" and throws the poor schnooks into prison and at his leisure he tries them by any sort of kangaroo court he wishes to assemble and they have no right to see the evidence against them, and there is no appeal. This was passed by 65 senators and will now be signed by Mr. Bush, put into effect, and in due course be thrown out by the courts.

It's good that Barry Goldwater is dead because this would have killed him. Go back to the Senate of 1964 - Goldwater, Dirksen, Russell, McCarthy, Javits, Morse, Fulbright - and you won't find more than 10 votes for it.

None of the men and women who voted for this bill has any right to speak in public about the rule of law anymore, or to take a high moral view of the Third Reich, or to wax poetic about the American Idea. Mark their names. Any institution of higher learning that grants honorary degrees to these people forfeits its honor. Alexander, Allard, Allen, Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Burr, Carper, Chambliss, Coburn, Cochran, Coleman, Collins, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeMint, DeWine, Dole, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Frist, Graham, Grassley, Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchison, Inhofe, Isakson, Johnson, Kyl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Lott, Lugar, Martinez, McCain, McConnell, Menendez, Murkowski, Nelson of Florida, Nelson of Nebraska, Pryor, Roberts, Rockefeller, Salazar, Santorum, Sessions, Shelby, Smith, Specter, Stabenow, Stevens, Sununu, Talent, Thomas, Thune, Vitter, Voinovich, Warner.

To paraphrase Sir Walter Scott: Mark their names and mark them well. For them, no minstrel raptures swell. High though their titles, proud their name, boundless their wealth as wish can claim, these wretched figures shall go down to the vile dust from whence they sprung, unwept, unhonored and unsung.

Three Republican senators made a show of opposing the bill and, after they'd collected all the praise they could get, they quickly folded. Why be a hero when you can be fairly sure that the Court will dispose of this piece of garbage.
If, however, the Court does not, then our country has taken a step toward totalitarianism. If the government can round up someone and never be required to explain why, then it's no longer the United States of America as you and I always understood it. Our enemies have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They have made us become like them.

I got some insight week before last into who supports torture when I went down to Dallas to speak at Highland Park Methodist Church. It was spooky. I walked in, was met by two burly security men with walkie-talkies, and within 10 minutes was told by three people that this was the Bushes' church and that it would be better if I didn't talk about politics. I was there on a book tour for Homegrown Democrat, but they thought it better if I didn't mention it. So I tried to make light of it: I told the audience, "I don't need to talk politics. I have no need even to be interested in politics - I'm a citizen, I have plenty of money and my grandsons are at least 12 years away from being eligible for military service." And the audience applauded! Those were their sentiments exactly. We've got ours, and who cares?

The Methodists of Dallas can be fairly sure that none of them will be snatched off the streets, flown to Guantanamo, stripped naked, forced to stand for 48 hours in a freezing room with deafening noise, so why should they worry? It's only the Jews who are in danger, and the homosexuals and gypsies. The Christians are doing just fine. If you can't trust a Methodist with absolute power to arrest people and not have to say why, then whom can you trust?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Problems with Blogs

If you look to the right, you'll see that I've linked to a blog called 'Man vs. Clown.' Other than being incredibly titled, it is also one of the most consistently funny websites I know of. Peter Lynn, its author, is snarky, cruel, thoughtful, and downright hilarious all at the same time. I've never met Mr. Lynn, but I know that not only would I like to have a beer from him, but I'd like to write like him. In his short posts, he's able to tell a better story than I can with three pages and a picture of Garrison Keiler sitting on my desk (Note: I do not actually have a picture of Garrison Keiler on my desk. If I did have one, it would probably look like this picture).

Until recently, Lynn worked for an unnamed fitness magazine as a copy editor. He ruled over the English language in that office like a feudal lord over his serfs, taking their wheat and sleeping with newly married women. And he posted about his antics on his blog, often to water-spewing and keyboard-ruining effects. I say recently, because then this happened:

Resuming our scheduled programming, I'm posting this in my bathrobe on a Wednesday afternoon. Although you can't possibly see that, which is best for both of us, the keen observer will also note that this blog's archives are looking a little thinner than before.

Without getting into all the details about what exactly happened, suffice it to say that when a stern-faced man flips open a thick folder to reveal a stack of printouts, and at the the top of the first page is printed "Man vs. Clown", the opportunities for sleeping in and wearing one's bathrobe increase immediately.

So Peter Lynn was fired for writing in his personal blog. He never mentioned the company, and while he talked about the job and the people in the office, he never was particularly deragatory towards either. He seems to be a natural prankster and likely to tease people, so he wrote about particuarly good jokes, but I don't feel anything he wrote was over the line.

This worries me, because there are definite simularities between Mr. Lynn and myself. We both post in blogs with our names on it. We both talk about work (though he does to a much larger extent). And neither of us seem to be particuarly self censoring.

I decided to do this blog openly declaring my name for a few reasons. The first is that, frankly, I have nothing to hide. I have no problem telling just about anyone, including total strangers about anything in my life, so why should I be any different online? Another reason is that, in general, I'm proud of my writing. Cush poked fun at me the other week for mentioning my blog in conversation, making like I was a dick for doing that. I bring it up like that because, yes, I'm proud of this and I want people to read it. So if I'm proud of something, why should I not have my name attached to it?

I make sure in my writing of this blog to not put anything that would hurt other people. I don't write about old relationships, I don't make fun of people (unless they're my friends who I make fun of anyways), and I don't use this as a method of spreading gossip. But I also find myself trying to be truthful, so I do occasionally talk about work. Not all of it is competely complimentary. But should I be punished for this?

The internet is a new phenomoemon, one that our culture is having trouble adapting to. Whether its getting fired for writings on the internet, dying without passing on passwords, or using AIM to creepily come onto 16-year-old congressional pages, society is having trouble adjusting to this series of tubes we call teh intarweebs. And in the case of Peter Wynn, we run into the conflict of a person's freedom of expression and a company's right to protect itself. I know my dad will have wildly different views on this, the corporate man that he is, but I think Lynn was the one done wrong here. He was expressing himself in a public forum, all the while maintaining outsider's knowledge of who his employers actually were at a minimum. This, I feel was a happy medium for both. Lynn could express himself, while everyone who read him was unaware of who Lynn worked for.

I realize I'm starting to ramble here, so I'll put a stop to it now. But I would like to hear anyone else's opinions. What are the boundary lines with blogs and work? What should be the point where an employer is able to fire an employee, and how far can an employee go when talking about work? And should a company spell this all out if they are going to dismiss employees over it?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Football Reflections: Redemption

- I want to know why we didn't start chanting "Hey Bama, We Just Kicked Your Ass." It would have been sweet.

- I don't have a whole lot to say about our defense that can't be summed up by this post from Every Day Should Be Saturday (probably the funniest UF blog around). Reggie Nelson is indeed a man beyond all other men. If you need more proof of this, feast your eyes apon this:

- Not a whole lot to talk about this week, as the UF/Bama game was a fairly well played game. The Offense took some time to click completely, but once they did, everything worked out just fine. Our defense is dominating. Now comes the real test.

- Just about every person who can pick is choosing LSU to win the game on Saturday. I don't think UF will lose. Here's why:

1. Last year, we lost to LSU by 4. This was in Baton Rouge.

2. LSU gave us 5 turnovers, the only problem was that the Gator offense was unable to do anything with these turnovers as the LSU defense was suffocating.

3. The LSU team this year is about as good as they were last year. There haven't been any huge changes in either offense or defense.

4. The Gator team, however, is much improved. Much more nimble, adaptable, and much much tougher.

5. UF's offense can take a while to get rolling, but we seem to make very good halftime adjustments. So if we don't make any costly turnovers and our defense is able to hold LSU to within ten before the half, we'll be able to take over in the 3rd and 4th quarters

6. Its homecoming, which gives our players the extra morale boost to push them over the top.

So Says Matt