Thursday, October 26, 2006


The first time I heard this word was durring the elections in '04. My math teacher used it in describing what it was he was "saving" his son from by pushing him to go to school in Texas instead of Stanford. He also used it in describing Kerry and his supporters. I looked it up and it has much more to do with intel ops in communist countries, but I guess it's taken on a new meaning. That meaning, while I'm sure there is a more clear definition, has something to do with being educated being a pejorative now.

I just read this quote in Slate and thought it worth repeating:

Ever since the resignation of Richard Nixon, a very smart man who got caught abusing his executive power, the GOP has deliberately avoided nominating conspicuously intelligent people for president. Gerald Ford was smarter than he looked, but he was unable to dispel his buffoonish image. Ronald Reagan was famously checked out and ill-informed. George H.W. Bush, though clearly smarter than Dubya, is not exactly imposing in the brains department, and he's demonstrated almost as much difficulty as his son in formulating a coherent sentence. And George W. Bush? Let's just say the guy is either mentally lazy, not very bright, or some combination of these two. I've never felt it necessary to refine that diagnosis; the term I favor is "functionally dumb."

Two things must be said about my assertions in the previous paragraph. One is that they are all unmistakably true. The other is that whenever a liberal repeats any one of them out loud, that liberal—and contemporary liberalism generally—come under attack, along with the Democratic party, the New York Times, Harvard, the AFL-CIO, the Council on Foreign Relations, the three major TV networks, and the Sierra Club. If a liberal is deciding whom to hire to answer phones and return papers neatly to a metal filing cabinet, it's considered legitimate for that liberal to formulate a judgment as to the candidates' intelligence. If a liberal is deciding whom to vote for in a presidential election, it is not. Merely to raise the issue is seen as conclusive evidence that one is snobbish and effete, and that the subject of one's skeptical inquiry is an authentic man of the people.

I am in Constitutional Law right now, which is an interesting class. It is a class that builds upon what we've done in Philosophy, American Politics and History and lends itself to some awesome discussion and debate. Unfortunately, it takes some level of both knowledge about the basic legal system and history and an understanding of logic for people to make coherent discussion. Most cadets seem to lack one of the two...not in general, but just when the application of both forces them to question the beliefs they so dearly wish to cling to. I've said it before and I'll say it again--it seems religion is quite often a demonstration of the power of the human mind to believe what it wants over what reality dictates. Now, I'm not anti-religion by any means (well, I should re-phrase, because religion and faith are definately not interchangable words, and I'm a much bigger fan of faith than religion). However, when your religious beliefs conflict with objective reality and logic (at least according to Catholic theology), then it is no longer faith, but magic and superstition.

There is one kid in particular who is constantly making arguments which are logical...if you throw out the enlightenment. For example...when we were discussing the Lemon Test, he asked why the court would require a law has a "valid secular purpose". I would understand if he questions what counts as "valid" but his argument? Why "secular"? According to him, "secular" is just another "world view" on par with theological. I argued that a secular framework is what makes free exercise of religion in the US possible...he disagreed (apparently it's the hand of God). Then, when talking about the court cases dealing with evolution and creation, he argued that evolution is just as much a religion as creation insofar as evolution is based on "the scientific method" (ie that all knowledge is based on observation) which is, in itself, not an observable truth, and thus, believed on faith. So, according to him, why does it have primacy over other options--religion. Seems to me those questions were all answered when we went through the enlightenment...but that's just me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New Jersey...

So, the NJ Supreme Court has mandated Civil Unions. There is some interesting logic and legal stuff in there I don't have time to tease out, but one thing really caught my eye:
However the Legislature may act, same-sex couples will be free to call their relationships by the name they choose and to sanctify their relationships in religious ceremonies in houses of worship.

Am I mistaken, or does this give way for gays to sue if the Catholic (or any other) church doesn't marry them? Anyway, the whole opinion is here, and it's an interesting read.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Names and Beer...

I went to the firstie club tonight. I was sitting at a table with two guys from the prep school, Tim and another kid I kinda know. The kid I kinda know...well, I kinda took his seat. I offered to give it back and he said, "No no, sit down Andy." As he was giving me his seat, I didn't have the heart to correct him. My friend from prep, Nick, said, "Um...actually, it's Alex." Tim, looking a little bemused said, "Well...actually, it's Adam."

So, I guess I'm easily forgetable?

I've also quit drinking. Don't know how long that will last, but I figure it can't hurt me.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Weekend...

It all began this morning around 0700 after I got home at 0230 in the morning from Boulder. (A quick side-note about Boulder, it's a great city I would love to live in someday.) Our flight left an hour late and our driver showed up an hour late turning what should have been a six hour trip into over an eight hour trip. I am on duty today. This means I had to watch supervise as people walked in circles. I did that for a few hours, sitting in my room and going outside every hour to watch circles...and then tried to watch Army Football--not a pasttime I would reccomend. I am going to head out to the Texas Tailgate tonight, in uniform, sober. Yeah...that's about the way my week is going.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Of Cloves and Beaches...

Years ago, there was a beach that Adam and I would frequent. Often, we would pack sandwiches and take beer with us. Lee occassionally came, but not often. It was nestled behind the strip mall in monterey and across the freeway and required a small amount of obstacle negotiation to arrive at...but, it was secluded and quiet and empty. It was, in essence, our beach. We would read, or listen to the waves, and I would brown while Adam burned. One day, he came to me and said, "I took (enter girls name here) to the beach." It was awkward because, he knew how I would feel about it, or he wouldn't have thought it worth mentioning...and yet, I couldn't very well fault him. Had I someone to take, I would have also.

I gave another friend his first clove a few weeks ago and took him to my smoking spot...both actually. Both are relatively perfect. Secluded and quiet, both overlook the Hudson River and, if it's snowing or warm, it's a great place to enjoy the weather. Both are dark, and when you light your cigarette, create lighting that makes anyone look good, if just for the amount of time the flame is at your chin. Tonight, he IM'ed me, "I finished the cloves with (enter girls name here)."

While not completely parallel does leave me to wonder when my turn to appropriate situations will be.

apropriate response to my ambiguous bird post:

z-watt: i'm sorry to hear about the details of the birds
z-watt: well, glad to hear about it
z-watt: sorry it exists

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

UC Boulder...

I am in Boulder CO right now for an ethics conference. Today was spent mostly traveling and mostly uneventful. We traveled by bus, by plane, by car and by foot, and then walked around the campus getting our heads straight. It's a pretty nice campus if you've never been here, with buildings that look like ski lodges and students biking and playing guitars and otherwise doing what I imagine real college students doing. I'm hoping to get myself invited to a frisbee game tomorrow (even in the snow...that's how badly I want to play frisbee). Instead, we have a meeting in the morning with ROTC guys, and a dinner at a sorority at night. We'll see how that goes (I don't think I know any sorority girls other than Joanne...and she's married now, so I don't know if she counts any more).

We had dinner at a steakhouse where I somehow got on the topic of commerical agriculture (I believe it was the spinich dip and how, in my rather un-educated view, we probably wouldn't have had the outbreak of bad spinach we had if we ate more locally...Alex'll probably back me up on that one). My boss asked how long I've been "interested in the earth" and I couldn't really think of a time I wasn't "interested" in the I guess it's just who I am.

I got an email from Chuck asking when I'd post about politics again, and I realized it's been a while. Hopefully, soon, you'll read more about politics (if I can stomach it).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Who are you?

I realize this probably goes against some unwritten rule of "blogging" but, I've had a spat of people I didn't think read this read it and comment to me personally. So, out of curiosity, leave me a comment if you read this (or send me an email if you want to...the email is in the profile I think). You can leave comments if you're on blogger or not...but seriously...who all reads this?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Quote of the night...

"When I have a serious relationship, then I'll play those love-test games...not with a friend."


I watched a real life movie…well, not really. Today, we drove back from College Park MD, where we’d stayed in Adam and Walker’s apartment for the night. After seeing Adam off to class and going to breakfast, we picked up another cadet to give her a ride to school. Here is where it turned into a movie…

I was in and out of sleep the whole time as I was sitting in the back, so, I only got snippets of conversation and whatever was playing on the radio and passing by the windows then fell back asleep. I heard the asinine conversation they shared and the glances between the two which intimated at something more—a furtive brush of the cheek by the back of her hand or toss of the hair. I would sleep and awake to find laughter about nothing special and go back to sleep. In essence, the ride home was a real life montage of the beginnings of a relationship…or, if not a relationship, at least a few non-committal make out sessions.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I don't remember many of the details of last night, but Aylea had a camera, so I'm sure I'll get to see them later. I'm in Baltimore for the weekend seeing old friends and last night was a house warming party for Ian and his boyfriend (whose name I can't remember...I believe it started with a G because he had on a huge belt buckle in the shape of a G). All the old Army crew was there other than Mike and Adam and I drank like a fish. I was making these pretty stellar drinks that were half OJ and seltzer water and half vodka...good stuff.

Tim came down here with me and we drove another cadet, Katie, with us. I think we'll all hang out in Fairfax today as that's where Adam's crew meet (Regatta?) is, along with some family friends. I also told a friend at USNA I would try and swing by for lunch today...we'll see.

All things considered, I'm having a good weekend. Seeing these guys always makes me happy. Lee has a pretty stellar girlfriend now who is Polish and is talking about moving to Europe for a while...that'll be cool for him, but probably not so much for me as it will be the end of the central location of all my friends in B-town.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Tonight, I saw my first court case. An appellate case. It was amazing. My passion for the legal system and law has increased, and I want to be a lawyer.

We, the firsties and I, immediately went down to the firstie club for some beer. The Commandant was at the bar, and the Dean showed up later. The Dean showed up with the whole Court. The three panel judges along with the four lawyers, defense and government.

I shared a drink with two of the judges and they told me I am at a disadvantage for the FLEP program...but I'll get it...I'll get it because I want it more than the others.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Three Years Ago Today...

I woke up to the phone ringing and before I answered it, I knew.

I picked it up to hear my mom's voice, and through tears, she said, "Mijo." And I knew...

When I had left San Diego for the last time, my father was so sick he couldn't open his eyes or even recognize me. I kissed him on the forehead and, knowing I would never see him again, left back to school. He told me he wanted me to before he got really sick, and that he wanted me to go back to school so I wouldn't fail out. So, I did. And I waited for the call.

It was Plebe Parent Weekend, when all the freshman's parents come here to see their sons and daughters for the first time...they parade and show off their uniforms and I was supposed to demonstrate the high dive. We had planned for my dad to come and I'd even checked out the wheelchair accessability. Instead, he died.

I spent the weekend trying to either be by myself or at the least pretend things weren't eating me from the inside out. Sometimes, when friends and parents would ask, "Oh, your parents couldn't come?" I would simply say, no...they couldn't make it. Other times, I would tell them, "No. My dad died this morning. They're busy now." and walk away. I felt like shit, so why shouldn't everyone else?

As things go, it seems to get easier, although easier isn't the right word. I don't think a day goes by without my mentioning my dad to someone. Sometimes, it's happy and I want to share a memory of him. Maybe how he changed his "H's" to "U's" or how he had a white mans overbite and thought he was Mexican. Other times, I want to share the pain I still feel knowing that when I throw my hat in the air in eight months, all I'll be thinking about is how he's not there.

And then today. 11 Oct. I didn't even realize it was today until I was eating dinner with friends. And then, it hit is the day. Three years later. And I couldn't eat...or drink...and I left. I cried as I walked home in the rain, and I don't know why. I don't miss him any more today than I did yesterday or the day before, and I wasn't even there to be with him when he left. To bless him, or say goodbye, or hug my mother. All this anniversary is for me, is a phone call.

At his funeral, there was a Marine Color Guard. After they left and the crowd (a large crowd, I should mention) was dispersing, I saw my dad looking off into the Harbor. At least, I thought I did. As the man turned, I saw it wasn't my dad at all, but my Uncle. That moment is when I realized that I would never see him again.


Monday, October 09, 2006

One year...

I was having wine with my Nina months after my dad had died. She had since begun attending Mass more frequently; I less so. She told me about how my father had pushed her to go to Mass…not in his words, but in a situation. She had been in Italy with him and wanted to see a statue of Madonna that the villagers were on pilgrimage to, but only as a tourist, not as a pilgrim.

She waited in line for hours to get to it, and when she got there, she felt bad just taking a photo and walking away, so she knelt and prayed as was expected. The moment she knelt, she said, she began to cry. The meaning and the message of the Madonna, which she could not convey, became clear to her and she felt…something.

I, on the other hand, had felt nothing. Nothing at Mass, nothing in prayer…nothing.

I told her that I didn’t understand how God could have let my father suffer through so much in the last year…he had become a paraplegic and we, his own children, literally had to wipe his ass for him…if he was so loving, so benevolent.

She looked at me and said, “But Adam…that wasn’t God. That was us. If it was God’s plan, your father would have died a year ago without going through all that.”

Sometimes, when I think I don’t understand God, I think of that…and I realize that what I don’t understand, is Man.

un pájaro en la mano...

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

I had to illustrate that in my Spanish class in high school and the saying has stuck in my head ever since. I think it’s true, to some extent. In fact, it’s really a reality I have dealt with often. I am dealing with it now, to be honest. But, the fact of the matter is, the bird in the bush isn’t real at all, but an ideal. And I…because it’s what I do…I’m comparing the reality I live to the ideal I want, and the reality always comes up short.

But, is it fair to accept a reality if your heart is set on the ideal? And if the reality and the ideal are real people, are the mathematics different? In either case…sometimes, you just have to jump. Right?

Sunday, October 08, 2006


I've taken the liberty, for once, of changing my schedule to pick classes I really want. I realize that sounds silly as I'm about to be a second semester Firstie, but still...I normally just took whatever was assigned me and rolled with it. This semester, however, I'm taking control. I dropped a seminar class I didn't want, Comparative Legal Studies and Politics of the Middle East. Instead, I'm taking National Security Seminar, Politics in Film, Environmental Security and Advanced Constitutional Law. I am pretty excited about all of them, but the last three in particular. The course syllabus for the EV Security class has this as the final project;
Working in groups, cadets will investigate and propose technologically, socially, politically, and economically feasible solution(s) that address environmental factors identified as contributors to regional instability. The final product will include a written report and formal briefing.
The Politics in Film class synopsis reads;
“Season 10 - The American Presidency in Film.” This course allows those students genuinely interested in film to understand and differentiate between political intent and political content. Students will learn about filmmaking itself (to include digital editing), and then receive a specific framework for analyzing political films (e.g. separating movies about politics from propaganda). In a final project, students working in teams will produce a political short. Possible events include guest speakers and up to two trip sections (e.g., an event at a fine arts theater and/or a visit to a film festival).
I wonder if we'll watch Death of a President...a film I'm not quite sure how I feel about yet.

(For those wondering why I've posted so often today, it's because I am cold, so I want to stay in bed. I also have a headache, and thus don't feel like doing real work.)

White People...

I just watched a preview for Blood Diamond. It's set in Africa...and it stars Jennifer Connelly and Leonardo DiCaprio. It's directed by the director of Glory and The Last Samurai. Does anyone else see a pattern here? Let's add in Syriana and Babel too...while not exactly the same, they do share some commonalities.

Has anyone figured it out yet? Yeah...movies set in non-European places driven by white star power. I'm sick of it. I want to see a movie set in Africa starring black people...or in Japan, staring Asians. I'm not even going to specify they are racially specific...I mean...Memoirs of a Geisha didn't have Japanese in it, but least he main character wasn't Nicole Kidman.

Am I talking crazy here?

8 Hrs.

Yesterday was the VMI/Army football game. I don't think the score really mattered since we were so poorly matched, but I guess it looked good for us to play another Academy.

After the game, I went with some friends to a series of tailgates; Knights of Columbus, H-4 Hogroast, KARS (the Korean American club). the Knights had free Yuengling and hamburgers which I ate with Troy, Koz, Pat, Doobs and others. That was a good time and we all talked about the Church. I think there's a negative correlation between how much one talks about Church at a Knights of Columbus meeting and how much one attends Church. My friends talked about Church a lot.

We changed out of our uniforms and headed into town. I picked up Natalie along the way and stopped at COL Arata's house as he is retired, but was visiting for his twentieth reunion. He taught me History plebe year. We all laughed and joked and had some more beers, then we all piled into a truck to the Hog Roast. The Hog Roast had five kegs, one floated, two half-done and two un-tapped. A travesty really. There was also a table of hard liquor. We (Nat, Pat and I) attacked the keg and talked for a good hour or so before moving on to the KARS party.

KARS...who'd have thought Koreans could party like they did. Great food, loads of beer and liquor and some of the coolest officers I've ever met. It was held in the front of the single soldiers barracks so all the single officers on post were there. We get along well, me and single officers, as they have similar concerns as myself (ie. I don't really give a shit if there's a swimming pool for my kids if there's nowhere for me to hang out on a Sat. night). We stayed and I talked to a JAG lawyer for a long time. We had cigars and hookas and Korean food and pizza and Pat Nat and I stayed until the end, cleaned up and walked back to the barracks.

8 Hours of drinking and I just woke up now, at 4PM. Good times.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


My friend, over IM:
xxx: i like how she is not anorexic

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Steinbeck will forever remind me of Lee and Adam. I put off reading Steinbeck for a long time while I was at DLI in Monterey because I somehow felt it was the literary equivalent of wearing the shirt of the band you're seeing in concert to the concert. At some point, however, Lee convinced me otherwise and lent me his copy of Cannery Row. Inside the cover was an inscription from his girlfriend of the time, written in pink highlighter with the big block letters of a child, "I love Lee!"

I began to read not knowing what to expect as I'd never experienced his writing. The last paragraph of the first chapter reads,
How can the poem and the stink and the grating noise--the quality of light, the tone, the habit and the dream--be set down alive? When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book--to open the page and to let the stories crawl in by themselves.

And that is the case. The stories develop in a way that feels as though you're watching a flower bloom. The characters interact and speak in a way that when the book is over, you find yourself looking for Doc and the others as you walk down the street...they become real in a way I've not yet felt from another book.

The transition from Cannery Row to Sweet Thursday, the sequel, is equally tragic and fulfilling. You learn what's happened in the interim and, like life, time changes everything and yet, little changes.

I've re-read these two books annually since then, and each reading has given me something new. I've discovered a new description or a new sentence that excites me. I've loved and hated the same characters, or felt pity and contempt at different times. One story will make me laugh and a year later, brings tears...but, I think that has more to do with what the last five years have given me than with what Steinbeck gives me.

Back at DLI, we passed Lee's copy between the three of us...back and forth until it was dogeared and worn. We took it to the beach with us, and to San Francisco. I would guess it made the trip to Big Sur and Santa Cruz...maybe to the cliffs where Adam and I ate sandwiches. It was, almost constantly, being read by one of us.

We imagined ourselves at the Palace Flophouse...with a mangy dog, and some beer, and our company. No more studying, no more work or worries. No one getting pregnant or divorced or killed or angry...just friends, who cared about each other and liked the company. We would talk about when we got out of the we'd save our money and get an apartment where we'd smoke pot and drink beer and sit in our boxers until our funds ran out. Sometimes, we'd try and imagine what the perfect life for our futures would be. We kind of assumed we'd all be married...but that wasn't a neccessity. All that mattered, as far as we could see, was that we'd live near enough one another that after work (which was only a neccessary evil in our grand plans), we could get together at a bar or one of our houses, drink beer and think about the good times we'd had before.

I guess my point in writing this is...if you haven't read Steinbeck yet, read him.

Claire...Wherefore Art Thou?

Claire...your blog is busted...or maybe it's just me, but this is what I I crazy? Are you selling pharmacuticals now?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Me, Steve and Mike...can you tell who's who? Yeah...big watches are so hot right now.

The Decemberists and an October Highway...

This late in the game, it's difficult to focus on school work. My grades wont affect my job and only have limited effect on my post. That being the case, when I had planned to begin a paper due on Friday tonight, I changed my plans. Tim wanted to purchase the new Decemberists CD, so I weighed my some work that wont matter in two years, or, hang out with Tim and have some fun we might remember when we're old and grey...

decision made.

We took off in pursuit of the album stopping first at Target (where I had to fight the urge to but clothes as I've recently decided that I will not purchase any more clothing until graduation). They did not carry it. Tim bought a blue zippered hoodie with no logo...a purchase I strongly supported. I bought a small Pizza Hut pizza (something I was more conflicted about).

We took off to Best Buy where Tim was certain we'd find it, but the New York road system was our sworn enemy. Tim, without the aid of a map, was sure he knew which way the freeway was. He found it, eventually, but what he didn't find was an onramp. Backtrack we did, for about ten minutes, and got on the freeway where we'd left it. We drove another fifteen minutes until I thought we were lost and eventually found Best Buy. There was, however, no off-ramp. We took another off-ramp and tried to backtrack to Best Buy to no avail. We re-rentered the freeway in the opposite direction, passed Best Buy again and got off to find ourselves on yet another freeway in the wrong direction. Tim did a U-turn and we went back exiting the initial freeway at a different point. We took two turn and ended out, again, back on the same freeway in the opposite direction passing Best Buy yet again.

At this point, we cut our losses, drove back to school, ate Tacos and drank beer. Thank God for beer...makes even a night of driving in circles with a friend worth remembering.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


“Dean took out other pictures. I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered, estabilished-within-the-photo lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road. All of it inside endless and beginningless emptiness. Pitiful forms of ignorance.”