A withdrawal.

Posted by Whit Barringer , Monday, June 30, 2008 10:47 PM

I'm going to stay away from the internet for a couple of weeks or so, and I'm going into radio silence. You probably won't hear from me at all for at least a little while. I promise I'll come back, and I will finish the Top 30 project at adamanthenes.wordpress.com while I'm on this hiatus. But for now, this is goodbye.

In which I have an injury, or "No, I'm not dead. I just have a life sometimes."

Posted by Whit Barringer 1:56 AM

Hey everyone. Yes, I'm still sticking to my original plan. But I had some things come up this last week and weekend that prevented me from working on an assortment of things I had previously planned.

First of all, I totally didn't realize Friday had passed by until it had, and then it was a bit late for me to keep up with my promise for VDCC. But I stayed up late just so I could catch up on posting for it. I also posted a review of WALL-E. You should check it out!

As for finishing the Washington Journals, I can explain that as well. I put off finishing the last day so I could have something to do at work this last week. I was planning on setting aside a few minutes one day to finish the last post, then give myself some recoup time for the grand finale. Well, I actually had a lot to do at work this last week (who knew, honestly?), so I didn't have a spare moment to do it. When I wasn't at work, I was on the road. When I wasn't doing either of those, I was in bed. Three times this last week I went to bed before 9:00.

So I had set aside time this weekend to finish that last damnable entry when I had an accident. No, not in a car. But I took a bit of a spill in the house. I tripped over a poster tube (my foot got caught in an open end of the tube and it stood up with my foot in it), and landed knees first. My left knee hit a vent, and my right knee landed on a marble. Of course, most of my weight was on my right knee. The thing was, I was trying to find my keys so I could go meet a friend to see WALL-E, and the tickets had already been bought or I would have stayed home. My knee was three times the size it was supposed to be, and I couldn't bend it or put weight on it. That led to some interesting experiences climbing up stairs at The Rave, not to mention driving.

This morning I still couldn't put weight on it while it was bent, but now I have a full range of motion and can put weight on it to get up out of a chair and such... but it still hurts.

So, in short, those are my reasons for not posting recently, and I'm sorry for not keeping up word for word with my resolutions. However, I'm proud to report that I haven't had fast food or a coke since I made my promise to stay away from both, and I've lost over 10 pounds as a result.

But yeah... I'll get on that last entry. Promise!

P.S. I bought the case and the power supply for my new computer, for less than I was originally planning. All I need now is the motherboard and the RAM before I can start building (I'm cannibalizing my other computer to save money). I've made some changes to the last list to save a bunch of money, and I think everything will still work. It'll give me more time to upgrade the parts instead of putting everything on hold this summer just to build a computer for games. It's the smarter way, I think.

From scratch!

Posted by Whit Barringer , Thursday, June 19, 2008 10:40 PM

I'm building a new computer, and I've spent about 10 hours researching parts for it. I want it to last, but I don't claim to know a lot about what I'm doing. If you know anybody who can help me out, tell them to look at the table below and let me know their suggestions. Too little hardware? Too much? Am I paying too much? Are there better prices for these parts? Or better parts for better prices? It's going to be a gaming/multimedia computer, so it needs to be able to keep up. Otherwise, I'm listening.

Components Needed Model Best Price
Case Thermaltake Armor Plus (Armor +) VH6000BWS Black Aluminum/Steel ATX Full Tower 204.99
Power Supply OCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI 700W ATX12V Power Supply 100 - 240 V 129.99
Motherboard ASUS P5E3 Deluxe/WiFi-AP LGA 775 Intel X38 ATX Intel Motherboard 299.99
Processor Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor Model BX80562Q6600 209.99
Processor Cooling Fan (included)
Memory Modules CORSAIR TWIN2X4096-6400C4DHX 4GB Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory 105.99
Hard Drives SAMSUNG SpinPoint T Series HD501LJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive 99.99
CD-ROM/DVD-R LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model LH-20A1L-06 37.99
Video Card PNY XLR8 VCG98GX2XPB GeForce 9800 GX2 1GB (512MB per GPU) 512-bit (256-bit per GPU) GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card 424.99
System Disk Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium FULL VERSION w/ SP1 259.95
CPU Cooling Compound ZEROtherm BTF90 92mm Silent UFO CPU Cooler 54.99
Thermal Compound XIGMATEK PTI-G3801 Thermal Compound 5.99


Day 5: A “Holy-Gee-Whiz Grand Tour of Everything in the World Plus Infinity”

Posted by Whit Barringer , Tuesday, June 17, 2008 6:09 PM

The holy-gee-whiz grand tour of everything in the world plus infinity took place today. We had a lot to do and so little time to do it in, with only one day left after today. So off we went, Ash with her purse, me with my moleskine (and the trusty pocket in the back with my passes, card, and license in it- it is seriously the equivalent of a towel).

We were stumbling on our sore nubs-for-feet and out the door by 10:00 this morning. We decided to go ahead and do the Air and Space Museum today since Ash wanted to go and I didn't think there was much I wanted to see. As soon as we got there (which took a bit, since we had to orient ourselves amongst a sea of tents, which were to find out later what they were for), we both dove for the piece of moon rock. Rarely are iconic pieces of history available for one's fingertips, but this was one exception. I guess they weren't worried about a piece of rock disintegrating into a thousand pieces, beyond repair or hope. Thank God the moon wasn't really made out of cheese, huh?

We immediately flipped a coin to decide whether to go up to the second floor, stay on the first floor, go left, or go right. We ended up going second floor right to see the World War II aviation exhibit. It was boring as hell for non-plane/flight enthusiasts such as ourselves, but with my job as a museum researcher, the medals and some of the history interested me. I also got to see some uniforms and was careful to observe how the uniforms were showcased, so I could bring back suggestions. We went across the hall, looked at an odd but short exhibit on amphibious planes, with at least one model of a ship.

Before we went to the museum, we saw signs advertising their Albert Einstein Planetarium. As it turns out, we were on the right part of the floor to go see the movie, but we only had 10 minutes before the next showing and a painfully slow moving line to wait in to get tickets. We got to buy our tickets in time, though. We were going to see a film on black holes narrated by Liam Neeson. It was a really cool film, though it didn't really tell me anything beyond the class I took in Descriptive (read: "Dumbass") Astronomy. The graphics were beautiful though, as we were taken through the process of being sucked into a black hole in IMAX type presentation. Nothing beats watching the picture and seeing the sun rise behind your head on the circular screen.

When we got out of there, we walked along the second floor and saw an exhibit on the planets, earth, and the moon. They also have some feeds showing the new Mars rover and some pictures of Mars (it's red, if you didn't know). We next saw the Lockheed Vega, Amelia Earhart's plane, which led to a rather humorous exchange at the time.

Ash: Isn't she the one that disappeared?
Me: Yeah.
Ash: And she wasn't flying this plane?
Me: Apparently not.
Ash: Well, no wonder she crashed!
Me: As good of an explanation as any, I guess.

We next went downstairs on the left side and got to see the Wright Brothers exhibit. It was very cool to see the very first plane, as well as watch the first flights on video. They also had interactive models of the frame plane and some of the inner workings of the engine so that people could play hands-on and see how it worked. Lastly, we went and saw the paraphernalia covering the trip to the moon. It was interesting, if a little old news for my tastes. We went to the gift shop (I got my grandmother a solar keychain), Ash took a picture of the Apollo reentry vessel/ship/what have you, and then we bolted out the door. We were already starving, but we decided that going to the gallery was a good idea, because there was a cafeteria there. We could do half of the museum and then go see the other half after we ate if we so chose.

This is when we found out what those tents had been for. At first I thought it was a world cultural fair/festival, because I saw the flag of Israel above one of the tents. As I started looking around, I realized that all of the tents had Israeli flags. There was a huge stage with a screen behind it at one end of the field, and people were sitting underneath all of the tents that I could see. Then someone hands Ash a pamphlet of the day's events and tells her to enjoy herself. They don't hand me anything (I think they knew I wasn't Jewish; then again, neither is Ash) – although I wanted to grab one of the Obama stickers that was in Hebrew, but I was afraid to ask after they didn't even offer me a pamphlet. As it turns out, it was a celebration of Israel's existence, which made me a bit nervous. I don't know that I agree with the case for Israel and I absolutely don't agree with the case for violence, so I was hoping that no one would stop me and try to talk to me about it. The people who were speaking in the tents and in front of the screen seemed angry. As we were leaving the field, a woman in front of an audience proclaimed that every Jew should buy property in Palestine, "invade Palestine" and "take back Israel."

We climbed the steps to the National Gallery, which felt like forever, and merrily went on our way to see statues. I saw pre-Renaissance art that was similar to what I'd seen for four consecutive weeks last summer, so I was a bit bored until we got to the modern pieces that were by people – and peoples – whom I really enjoy their art. I've always admired the paintings of the Flemish, Dutch, and Netherlandish because they seem so rich and vibrant, even if I've heard them described as "flamboyant" and "vulgar. Take a look Johannes Verspronck's "Andries Stilte as a Standard Bearer" or Sir Peter Paul Rubens "The Fall of Phaeton." We saw paintings by Fra
Lippo Lippi, Da Vinci, Monet, Cezanne, El Greco, De Goya, and Van Gogh (his self-portrait, no less).

We finally went to lunch, exhausted and barely able to move. We got really good food (gourmet pizza!), went to the gift shop, and bolted out the door to our next stop – the Archives.

Well, it really wasn't as dramatic as it sounds, especially since we had to wait for about an hour overall to go in and see our nation's founding documents. We waited about twenty minutes outside and about forty in a queue to get in to actually see the documents. Before we went in, I got a picture of a copy of the Magna Carta. (Some snot-nosed kid asked, "What's the Magna Carta?" When someone told her to read the history, she said, "How about I don't and you just tell me?" I just shook my head in disgust.)

If you've seen National Treasure, the room looks exactly like that (if the one in the movie isn't the same as the real one). The paintings around the documents were interesting, too, but no one really explained what any of it meant. However, one of the guards, who told us what we could and couldn't do in the room, said that they were most frequently asked about the man with the peg leg. The man he was talking about is in the painting on the right, and he was Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania. He lost his leg while trying to get away from a girl's bedroom that he shouldn't have been in. He had been trying to get in the carriage, but fell out and it ran over his leg. Needless to say, it was amputated.

When we finally got to see the documents, it was a bit exhilarating to be that close. I took pictures of it all, and tried to get close-ups of Ben Franklin's signature, as well as the different headings for the Articles. I made sure to get a picture of "We the People" on the constitution, while I hummed "The Preamble." The woman in front of me in line (who happened to be the mother of the Magna Carta brat) started nodding her head. "Yes. It's still the best way to learn it." I agreed. We went to the Archives gift shop, sat down for a minute, and the sallied forth to the Natural History museum, our last major stop of the day.

By this time, Ash has about had it with the walking and I'm wearing down as well. But this is the place I've been waiting to see all day, and I'm not going to quit just yet.

When first walking in to the Natural History Museum, a huge African (or maybe Indian?) elephant is before you, standing on top of a huge rock. It's a grand welcome if there ever was one. We first went to see the dinosaurs. There was a dino café (I don't know if that's what it's called), and got an okay-tasting eggplant sandwich with two drinks. Turns out it was like $16, which was by far the most I'd paid yet for a meal, and this was only a snack. After getting over my "pissed-off", we went ahead and finished touring the dinosaurs, seeing a T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Albertosaurus, Edmontosaurus, Duckbill, a Brachiosaurus, and quite a few others.

Then we went on to what ended up being an "animals of the world exhibit" that included animals from every inhabitable continent. It was like a huge taxidermy exhibit. In that respect, it was really creepy. But it was pretty cool to be that close to so many animals that I wouldn't have been able to be close to otherwise. I mean, a leopard in a tree? A giraffe drinking water? How awesome, eh? Even if they are stuffed.

Next we went upstairs to see the Hope Diamond and other cool gems (mostly from India). It was interesting how nearly all of the really large pretty diamonds came from India and were used for so-and-so's crown, or so-and-so's royal necklace, and none of them had a story of how they ended up in the United States on some rich person's ring. All of the gems were gorgeous, though. They had lava rock as well, which was neat, too.

I really wanted to see the Butterfly exhibit, but it was closed, and the Korean exhibit was closed for renovations. Thus they were a big suck. Still, we got to see a lot and learn a lot, so we were able to limp away feeling good about all we'd done. There were three or four gift shops, two or three special ones for the exhibits, and one general one downstairs. We left through the downstairs door and went out for dinner.

We decided to eat dinner at Jaleo, a tapas bar, which was apparently all uphill from where we were. It was really good authentic Spanish (not Mexican) food, and the Sangria was a-MAZ-ing.

Finally it was time to go back and rest. We only have one more day to go.

Now taking bets.

Posted by Whit Barringer , Monday, June 16, 2008 2:38 PM

I am officially swearing to the following items for the rest of the summer (and by summer, I mean September 22):

  • I will update VDCC every week.
  • I will finish the Washington Journals this week and reveal the grand finale over five consecutive weeks.
  • I will take up recycling.
  • I will have a book on hand at all times, and I will finish at least five books.
  • I will not drink another carbonated soda.
  • I will not eat fast food - no Wendy's, Taco Bell, Sonic, McDonald's, or Subway.
  • I will finish every single one of these puzzles in this blasted crossword book.
We'll see how long I last. Be assured, the moment I don't, you'll know.

It begins!

Posted by Whit Barringer , Saturday, June 14, 2008 12:01 AM

Top 30 Week 1!

Experience you... uh... can count on.

Posted by Whit Barringer , Thursday, June 12, 2008 10:30 AM

From Cliff Schecter at Firedoglake, a hilarious bit from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Btw, the Shechter who posted the video is the same guy who wrote the book on Stewart referenced.

Yes yes, I know. I've got journals to do. But seriously, some of this stuff is so good, it's hard to let it go.

I would pay just to see someone sit in this thing.

Posted by Whit Barringer , Wednesday, June 11, 2008 2:11 PM

The Hula Chair. What fresh hell is this?

Thanks, Cracked.

Oh. M'God.

Posted by Whit Barringer , Tuesday, June 10, 2008 7:56 PM

Stephen Colbert's Threat Down countdown. After number 2 to the end is what you want to see, but go ahead and watch the whole thing.

Did you see the confused looks on their faces? Apparently that guy is going by the "one drop" standard. Idiot.

I couldn't pass it up.

Another brief interlude - for histr'y's sake.

Posted by Whit Barringer , Monday, June 09, 2008 4:16 PM

Matt Yglesias, a blogger for The Atlantic, dabbles in Civil War history for a moment today. He was responding to Publius' post on the end of the Civil War, and how it was ultimately to our benefit that Robert E. Lee did not pursue a guerrilla war after the South had lost. Matt disagrees not with the "Thank God for good sense" sentiment, but more to the fact that there would have been a chance for guerrilla warfare at all:

I'm not sure that reflects a correct understanding of the strategic conflict during the Civil War. It's true that in a conventional war of national liberation, this kind of guerilla strategy would be the expected line for the Confederacy to take. But the rebels had a very specific goal in mind -- they seceded from the Union after Lincoln's electoral victory because they wanted to preserve slavery. It's very hard to see, however, how a guerilla strategy could have been consistent with the goal of maintaining slavery or the plantation economy.
I commented with this:

I'll respectfully disagree with that analysis of what the Confederacy was fighting for. Yes, slavery was part of it. It was as much a part of the cause of going to war as it was for Lincoln to adopt it as one of the reasons to keep fighting. But the primary reason? It was about states' rights more than any of the rest of it, because the South felt that the North was violating them in more ways than competing for slave/non-slave states.

Slavery is so often cited as the reason for the war. While it's wrapped in big flashing blinking letters, it wasn't the only reason, or even the primary reason. In the eyes of the South, there was more at stake than losing slaves. If it was only about slaves, then the non-slave holding South wouldn't have gotten involved. Around 1/3 of the South owned slaves at the beginning of the war, and it's very loosely estimated that close to 1/3 of the Southern armies came from slave-holding families (though I've heard it estimated lower than this).

So, for your original hypothesis, it would still make since for guerrillas to fight for states' rights and independence, as they do all over the world now. You're right about guerrillas fighting for slavery. It would be a hopeless cause if there ever was one. But states' rights? That's the stuff of revolutions.
I understand Matt's point, but I also see that he's missed the boat a bit on what the Southerners were trying preserve. Their way of life was not to go out and beat slaves all day, as revisionists often believe. Slavery was an horrid institution and the world is better to be rid of it, but it mischaracterized the demographics of the South when roughly 2/3 or more of the population didn't even own slaves. No, there were other reasons for these people to fight.

Let's put it another way: If your neighbors are so upset about gas prices for their SUVs and Hummers and decide to go to war (metaphorically or otherwise) with an oil-producing country to preserve their way of life, would you fight if you didn't even have a car? Or would you fight, for lack of choice, when that oil-holding country invaded your land? I don't believe it was much different than that for our ancestors.

But don't worry about it. It will never happen, right?

A Bit of News from Across the Blogosphere

Posted by Whit Barringer 3:37 PM

Just a quick moment of your time and a break from the Washington Journal series.

As most of you know, I have another blog that I started for a class my sophomore year called Voice from the Depths of the Cultural Coil. It hasn't seen a lot of action lately (for that, I'm deeply regretful - once you fall out of practice, it's hard to get back in). As evidenced by my newest review of the new Indiana Jones movie, I'm rusty.

However, I saw something recently that made me rather upset, too. The story is over at the Voice, but I'll repost it here.

Yahoo better circle up those wagons, because I’m on a raiding party.

Who in the world uses Yahoo? They apparently have very questionable tastes.

Yahoo! recently released a user-rated top 30 animated film list - of all time. I’ve never seen such a travesty of a list. I realize that the chaos of a million 12-year-olds does not off-set the more seasoned animated film watchers, but Lawd have mercy this list needs revamping.

That’s why I’m going to start a 16 week series of a revised top 30 countdown. Why not? I’ve got the time now. I’ll do my best to update it every Thursday. The first entry will have three films, and the last will have only one - the number one. Oh, and you don’t have to look at that list if you don’t want to - I’ll recap that list as I go along.

Hope to see you all around!

Well, there you have it. I've got sixteen weeks to churn out a 30 movie list. I'm going to go see some of the new movies that are out just so I can put them in if need be, so this is going to be an up-to-date list as well.

Now back to the Washington Journals series. Thanks for your time!