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My mother always said “You gotta get them on the rug before you can pull it out from under them”. And never have truer words been spoken. Until that is, you are the one on the rug and The Powers That Be decide said rug should operate like a roller-coaster.

The Powers That Be, forthwith to be referenced as “TPTB” are starting to piss me off.

Let me clarify: TPTB are the are college elders who decide your provisional fate in the doctoral program. In the best case scenario, they guide, they advise, they extol academic wisdom and virtue; in the worst case scenario, and that’s exactly what I am talking about here, they fuck with your very existence.

In the last 4 months, the TPTB has decided:

  • That the “roadmap” or document stating “things you can expect from u while you are here” (a basic agreement issued to any student in higher education) is null and void
  • I now have an extra class to take
  • I also have an internal realignment where I will now take up to 4 methodology courses
  • Where in the past, if you fail candidacy, you can do a maters thesis and based on its success/failure, you can/cannot continue on to a doctorate, now, if you fail candidacy, you risk being tossed out wholesale
  • The document I signed that guaranteed 4 years of funding is null and void
  • That candidacy, which is supposed to occur in the fall, is now, after securing internships and other travel/moving arrangements, occurs in the summer

TPTB, in short, have decided to become a bunch of bastards. TPTB, additionally, have made it pretty clear that I cannot trust them in any way, shape, or form. Which sucks rocks when you’ve hitched your wagon to them for 4 years.

Not that all the changes are bad, these are tough times, I understand the funding crisis, and another class won’t kill… But when we signed, what essentially is binding agreement, and TPTB has reneged on half of it within a 4 month period, I have to wonder what the bloody hell I have gotten myself into.

Seriously, this is beyond the Pale.

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Oh, Vladimir…

Like any proper former lover, I naturally engage in a bit of Facebook stalking…just to see what you’re up to…you know, to keep a weather eye out…

And I must say, lately things were rather tame with you. There was the cute and cuddly thing with the tigers, so presh! Of course, I seem to remember you shooting one of those little darlings in the not so distant past…and I also seem to remember something about a whale…or was it a polar bear?…whatever! Leonardo DiCaprio was at the summit and the magical power of Leo, my dear, smooths over all past sins! (we should all have such mojo…)

Then there was the nasty business extending the prison sentence of a former oligarch you broke parted ways with, and really, while I don’t approve, I find myself once again thrilled over the civility of our own relationship’s demise.

I see you you haven’t fully resolved that horrible business of thugs running amok over there. Interesting choice words, dear heart, “inevitable retribution”…not that I have any problem with the retaliation part, hell’s fury and lover’s scorn, yadda, yadda, but the inevitability of it all…as sure as the rain’s fall and the sun’s setting, one can always be sure of your wrath…maybe you should consider talking to someone about that…

And speaking of scorn, don’t think for a second I didn’t notice you whoring around with that ugly and dreadful Kyrgyzstan! So what if they name a mountain after you?! They don’t know, they don’t care, they don’t appreciate you like I do. And at the end of the day, their heart will always belong to the Ghosts of Leaders Past, whereas, my heart will always belong to you, ‘kay? Glad we have that settled.

And in full disclosure, I did place my bobble-headed replica of you in a place of honor…my desk…so that we can always be close…and so I can keep that weather eye out for you…naughty boy…

love you. call me…

First there was the hot and steamy threats of vengeance! and doom! by my yummy, yummy Vladimir when mean, nasty, old terrorists blew up his subway system. But now here’s the soft and comforting arms of Vladimir wrapped around Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as Russia plays kind Old Uncle to a Polish nephew that’s just lost his parents.

I’m telling you, Vladimir’s shaggability factor is so stratospheric right now it can’t possibly be measured with existing human technology.

It’s incredibly touching to see Russia reach out to Poland this way. After years of enmity (Solidarity, anyone?) and taking pot-shots at each other across the fence of international politics, it’s nice to see humanity win out at such a horrific time.

And after all the funereal rites have been performed, the dead planted in eternal slumber, and said Polish nephew has been packed away to a proper boarding school by his kindly Uncle Russia and his inheritance squandered through booze and loose women, there will be only  one thing left to do:

Kiss United States Missile Defense goodbye…forever…

Oh, Vladimir…you sneaky, shaggable bastard you…

The boy is back in town!

…and by boy, I mean man, and by man, I mean my favorite feisty neo-facist dictator, Vladimir. Yes, Vladimir! Lovely, Lovely, yummy-yummy Vladimir…..purrrrrrrrrrrr.

Just when I think Vlad is but a fond memory stored in the dark and scary recesses of my dark and twisted mind, he re-emerges, turning up like the bad penny he is.

Of course, all of this was spurred by the terrorist bombings in Moscow yesterday. And while president, Dmitry Medvedev, said the government would consider revamping anti-terrorism laws to try to prevent further attacks, Putin responds by promising to drag the bombing masterminds “from the bottom of the sewers” and that the “terrorists will be destroyed!”

um, can you say hot?

This is the Vladimir I adore, the tough-talking, swaggering mound of man-pie ready to kill you with his thumbs for so much as looking cross-eyed at him…infinitely more preferable than the stodgy Prime Minister warning about spring floods and a boring, old oil export duty.

Nice to see you back, darling, especially in such fine, fine form….call me

I was just reading CNN online when I noticed an article about a court ordering two men to have their noses and ears cuts off. Obviously, a story like that makes you do a double take.

So I click on the story and as I am reading about these “poor” Pakistani men, I then get to the part of the article where the men were sentenced this very specific punishment because they committed this same act on woman.

Apparently, a young woman and her family refused an offer of marriage from a young man (maybe because they knew bad medicine when they saw it?) and in retaliation, the young man and a friend attacked the woman, strangled her, and performed this truly heinous act upon her.

It’s incredible how an opinion can turn a 180 on a situation, because while I at first exclaimed “WTF? We’re allies with these people?” as soon as I read the rest of the story, I more or less was saying “Well done! Bravo!”

Of course, if you at all follow the news, this is also coming from a country where last year three young women were beaten and buried alive for daring to choose their on husbands and three women who came to their defense were murdered as well. And four years prior to that, a woman was savagely gang raped when coming to the verbal defense of her brother falsely accused of a crime…And these are just the stories that somehow make the world media. Imagine how many are left untold?

I know, I know, turn the other cheek, and an eye for an eye makes us all blind, but here’s the thing: It pretty much sucks to be a woman on about 75% of this planet. So if a country wants to make an extreme example out of a pair misogynistic bastards who commit a horrific violent act against a woman, I am perfectly content to let them do so.

Merry effen Giftmasukah.

The real suck-o part about being an atheist who goes to a Catholic college is all the damn religion…classes.

Actually, I don’t mind the so much as long as they are not Christian-based. So I am taking Buddhism to fulfill one of my “god” requirements. And I know it’s only the second week of class and a horde of religion scholars are bound to chew me out for this, but I am going to sum Buddhism, comparatively, in one sentence:

Buddhism is a cult of guilt that puts all Catholic and Jewish mothers to shame.

In short: life is a vicious cycle of guilt to be repeated over and over, and trust me, it’s a mother-effer.

With Catholics it’s a pretty straight up and down business deal: do something bad and confess, eff up bad enough and you go to Hell, do okay and you go to Heaven, get stuck in the in between and it’s Limbo or Purgatory.

Jews don’t believe in a heaven or a hell, so all your guilt is contained to this lifetime and, if you fast for one day and say your sorry, and you really, really mean it, your forgiven…beat that….

With Buddhists, however, it’s all in the intent. You desire something not kosher, you act on said non-kosher desire, and you get smacked something awful with karma whereby you go through all the horror that is adolescence again, and again, again, and again…that is, if you are lucky enough to return as something other than microbe on piece of dung.

Seriously, if I am going to be judged on intention alone, I might as well not even bother to leave the starting gate because I already know I’m coming back as a gnat.

Boy, I’d make one lousy ass Buddhist let me tell you. To become enlightened is to live without desire and to live without desire and how awful is that? It’s good to want. I wholly believe that. And desire? I’ll concede that some desire does cause suffering but all desire? Damn, how is a life without desire worth living? Desire is the reason I get out of bed in the morning.

Desire. Anticipation. Want. Craving. Hunger. Ravenousness.

Hell, wanting the cake, desiring the kiss, hunger for the man, craving coffee, anticipation of the result…if that is suffering, I’ll take it. I love those moments. When everything in your body becomes a live-wire. When everything in life hinges on that outcome. When waiting for the outcome becomes the still point of the turning world…love it. Maybe it’s hedonistic, maybe it is gluttonistic (aren’t those Christian terms anyway?).

And for the record, even though sometimes the cake sucks, the kiss is sloppy, the man is a douchebag, the coffee is cold, and the result you were waiting for crushes your soul and changes your life, the moment of the desire was still good. The desire did not disappoint me, just the outcome did….and you won’t convince me otherwise.

I was really pretty shocked to have read that Henry Louis Gates Jr., professor extraordinaire of long standing at the venerable institution Hahr-Vahrd, was arrested two days ago.

But I wasn’t shocked to have read the context and circumstances of his arrest. Sure, there’s the easy explanation of racism in America (you really will never convince me a white professor would have been treated the same way), but then there’s the even easier explanation that no one seems to be talking about and it is this: the arresting “officer” in the affair is yet another example of a douchebag cop with a Napoleon Complex.

Sure, I have no doubt the cop behaved in a racist manner, but that is an action coupled with a personality trait and that trait being that the he is yet another douchebag cop with a Napoleon Complex.

A professor here at school is a retired cop and relayed to me the different types of people who become police officers:

1. The Fitness Nut: the guy or gal who somehow relives their high school athletic glory days by being a cop. They are all about how they look in the uniform. Being a good or bad cop is strictly a matter of happenstance.

2. The Gun Nut: I think this speaks for itself. The Gun Nut, who is almost always male, is also closely related to the Penis Insecurity Nut.

3. The Righteous Nut: this person has an overwhelming sense of self-importance and truly thinks that the worse they behave towards the general public, the better cop they are.

4. The Drunk Cop: who is actually a pretty okay person who took the job as a way of redemption but at the same time, does not know how to handle the stress better.

Now according to Professor Cop, a police officer can actually be a combination of these varying traits but one is always more dominant than the other. Like the thing about Elvis and the Beatles: you can like both, but you always like one more than the other.

With regards to incident involving Professor Gates, my money is on Cop #3. Then again, I’m not at all familiar with the inner workings of cop-hood and the public perception I have garnered of them over the years is really just boils down to the simplicity of the douchebag cop with the Napoleon Complex scenario.

Gotta have my tunes. It’s how I get through the day. I listen to what fits my mood and never just listen to music passively. I’m a big soundtrack kind of person. Thematic if you will. If I’m not in the mood for Yo-Yo Ma, then I turn him off. If I’m in the mood for the Pixies, then I crank it up. It’s just how I roll.

Given that, I credit Green Day’s 2004 album, “American Idiot”, and a great deal of Nina Simone protest songs of the 60’s with helping me get through this last four years of the Bush Administration. I look at my stats on iTunes and they are easily the records most often played.

But now that a new administration is officially installed, I noticed I have been skipping over most of the Green Day songs on my iPod this past week. Tolerance, cooperation, and diplomacy seem to be the order of the day for the first time in a long time, so a record that rages against such things no longer appeals to me. The music of “American Idiot” did its job and now I am ready to move on.

I’m cautiously optimistic but since everything still feels like its in a handbasket on its way to someplace incredibly warm, I’ve been struggling to find some music to give voice to my current world view. So much so that I’ve turned off the radio and my iPod because nothing matches my mood towards the current state of the nation.

I was driving home from school today and after a week of radio silence, I decided to give the radio a whirl. Neil Young, in all his brutal honesty and majestic glory, came blaring into car with “Rockin’ In the Free World”.

And this my friends is my new national anthem.

After 20 years since this song was recorded, Young still raises a valid point: how is it that we seek to solve the world’s problems when we can barely solve the most basic ones on our doorstep? What does a “thousand points of light” do to get a homeless man some shelter?

Now granted these issues don’t exist in a vacuum. You have to address both separately and equally. For example: I recognize the necessity to further science and as such, I support NASA’s endeavors. However, when you look at the budget for NASA (which is 17.6 billion by the way) and what a mess this world is, do we really need to be exporting our nonsense into outer space? Couldn’t –shouldn’t– we be using that money elsewhere? Honestly, I don’t know. But recognizing the complexity of what lies ahead is generally problematic enough, forget about actually answering the question.

Another example: Family planning subsidies were stripped from the latest economic stimulus packaged under the premise that such subsidies are not an actual economic “stimulant”. I find this belief interesting because I know I would love the spend the $1000 I fork out yearly for family planning elsewhere. Not to mention, in tough economic times, assisting women in not having children they can not afford is really in the best interest of society as a whole. But how do you balance two opposing interests?

I don’t expect President Obama to solve all the world’s problems, but I do expect decisions to be thought through. Am I upset over the family planning subsidies? Yes. But I feel this new administration will do good things for women’s health in the coming four years. They are already well on their way simply by eliminating the global gag rule. I can be upset by this issue or choose to recognize that this new administration is trying to remember that they are not only governing Democrats but Republicans and Independents as well. Something we haven’t see in this country for 8 years.

So I go back to my Neil Young and I listen to what is essentially a very depressing song, but hey, it’s got a rockin’ beat, it gets my head bangin’, and it lights a fire, and really, sometimes, that’s all I need.

If you want to explain the effed-up spectacle that is American Politics to a Viking, it is best explained via the Prose Edda, a collection of poetry about Norse Mythology.

In one particular understanding fo the world, there is the World Tree, Yggdrassil, which is inhabited by several beings: Veðrfölnir, a hawk residing at the top of the tree, and Níðhöggr, a dragon who resides at the bottom eating the roots.

The most interesting character residing there however, is Ratatosk, a red squirrel whose sole job is to ferry insults between Veðrfölnir and Níðhöggr and spread gossip.

So as we enter the final two weeks of this election season, and tempers flare hotter, and the attack ads get nastier, I think it is safe to assume that despite whomever one takes for being either the hawk or the dragon in this election, I think we can all agree who is Ratatosk.

I’ve never been more thankful to not have the TV hooked up.

As the economy continues to spiral down the drain, and yet another weekly bailout plan is thrown at us, I’ve been contemplating the increasingly strange evolution of the relationship of this government with its people.

The best idea of the government has been to throw more money at the banks and Wall Street. All of course with tax payers’ money mind you, which in theory gets the bank lending to each other again, and in turn, to their thinking, will somehow get us into back into the bed with these scummy entities via the form of investing in the stock market.

And the all the while Henry Paulson acts like he’s some noble hero by stealing our money and strong-arming the banks into accepting money some of them don’t even need. What Paulson fails to realize is that this behavior does not make him or the government heroes, but it does, however, make them pimps.

Yeah, that’s right, you heard me, big ol’ Pimp-thug-dealers. In fact the only thing missing from this picture of the government is the hat.

For years the government, let’s call it Big G, so Big G sat on the corner trying to entice people with his cadre of lovely banking beauties, his “Ho’s”, by stripping away every layer of regulated inhibition. C’mon what’s it gonna hurt? Who’s gonna know? Pushing and pushing until people felt a little toss underneath the sheets was a victimless crime. I mean really, who would it hurt?

But the economics of being a good pimp means you also have to diversify your product line. Few pimps deal strictly in sex. A little drug dealing, just enough to keep both “Johns” and “Ho’s” hooked, and the occasional enforcing to keep the deviants in line, all help flesh out the portfolio.

The banks got hooked on the crack of deregulation and the people got hooked on the sleazy ease of unlimited credit. And then the proverbial condom breaks and we all end up with a fat and nasty STD in the form a financial meltdown.

(Big G also failed to realize that if your Johns and Ho’s all die of overdoses and disease, you lack a both product and a customer at the end of the day.)

But really, the fact is it doesn’t matter how much play money Big G throws at this situation anymore. The Johns are not inclined to get into bed with a Ho who is going to them financial syphilis or worse. When England nationalized their banks, heads rolled and a new harem of Ho’s were brought in. No such provision is being made here.

Clearly, a massive does of penicillin is required. Whatever metaphor you want this penicillin to stand for is up to you. I just know that it’s time to either double-bag it, switch street corners, or get thee to a nunnery.