Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

What It Means To Be Liberal

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When I was in the fine arts residential college at Cornell, enterprising students discovered that if you pulled the washing machine out from the wall, cracked open the back panel of the coin slot, stripped the wires and shorted them at intervals, you could dupe the machine into thinking coins were being dropped. flick flick flick flick a dollar. flick flick flick flick two dollars.

This was all well and good – after all, who doesn’t want free laundry in a school that costs $45k a year? – until some overeager freshmen inadvertently brought it to the residence hall director’s attention, whereupon he promptly threatened the whole dorm with the cost of replacing the washing machine with the most obvious manhandling. Never mind that we’d just do the same thing with a new machine, mind you, or that a $500 machine split between 150 residents is a little over $3 per resident but people being innumerate as they are, they heard the number he gave, which was five hundred dollars, and that was enough to galvanize the dorm – chock full of radical liberals as it was – to rally against him for the unfair burden brought down upon, if not the poorest of the poor, then the brokest of the broke.

They couldn’t stop the school from eating reservation land or exploiting its own staff or passing on capital construction costs to the undergraduates or suppressing hate crime statistics, but damnit, free laundry is free laundry and you have to put your foot down somewhere.


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Count the wrong on this cover of the National Review.

Reminds me of being in Cornell and suffering the blithering idiots of the Cornell Review – a right-wing rag whose first articles were written by none other than Ann Coulter, an undergrad at the time. They’d usually oppose any and all minority programs and initiatives that might dilute the school’s 89% white majority while turning a blind eye to hate crimes on campus.

Of which there were many.

‘Course, for some, the Review wasn’t conservative enough, and editors broke off and founded the Cornell American. Well, not so much broke off as started writing for both at the same time while denying any affiliation, so that they could then start debating minority initiatives from two sides at once.

And people wonder why there are school shootings.

Yeah, But Can It Prop Up a Desk?

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This, quite honestly.

Now, most of my job is in handling technology – some would assume that such is thus my lifestyle – but I have never been swayed by any glowing box smaller than a laptop and less functional than the computer I’m typing from now. I hate cell phones, let alone the gadget conglomerations packaged as cell phones called iPhones or Sidekicks (Has no marketer ever heard of feature creep? Seriously, nobody uses 90% of your “apps”) but nothing takes the cake like the Kindle.

Way back in 2002 when I was suffering the frozen hellhole of Cornell (in the words of Jon Stewart, no less) I took a course in English that had the word “technology” in its title on the course catalog. I thought to myself, “Hey, here’s a forward-thinking professor wanting to rap to us about Web 2.0, blogging and the general state of New Media in creative writing” as, after all, it was one of those “not your run-of-the-mill English classes.” Read the rest of this entry »

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