The New Advocate
(5-14 August 2003)

14 August 2003
Happy Birthday to Marge Garin
-This is me shaking my head at the passage of time.

13 August 2003
-Yesterday's training had been really rough, but today's was back on track.  It's hard to take people seriously when they have no idea what they're talking about.  Today I really enjoyed the training all the way through, however, & that made it feel less like training & more like something I might do voluntarily anyway.
-BN is selling LB again, & now has it ranked in the 100,000-101,000 range.  Much better than Amazon's 1.7 million.  Either way, folks are reading it!
-Apparently Andrea of Grand Canyon fame (more than 3 years ago now... wow!) is now training with Em in Beantown as a future PIRG Fellow.  I guess crunchy people have to stick together!

12 August 2003
-I'm not entirely against mornings.  Never have been.  There's times like CTY or certain fleeting mornings at 'Deis or the Senior Commons when the Buick wasn't broken-down on Academy.  Some mornings carry the same feeling, though illusory, of night's quiet awakeness in the face of a humanity asleep.  Maybe it's just that I'm looking forward to what I do professionally now.
-It's not after a particularly good sleep either.  The 4.5 hours became something like 2 amidst Pandora running a perpetual hurdles race around the house.  The only toys she'll really play with are inadvertent ones:  bottle caps, bread ties, plastic ties that went around the base of bottle caps, & so on.  The other condition is that she can't play with these if anyone notices she's playing.  Then she'll stop & look at you with that "What?  I'm a cat, I don't care about anything" look.  So I guess our house is strewn with these bits of litter-turned-catnip, & I certainly wasn't watching her while I was half-asleep.  I just heard her leaping across the kitchen, mewing to high heaven like the harbinger of the Feline Olympiad.  Maybe Em being gone is driving her crazy too.

11 August 2003
-Seneca's job training is intense, but pretty fun.  Our training leader can only be described as someone deeply reminiscent of the driver's ed people who taught us at McGinnis, without the extreme bad taste.  Learning by humorous example is definitely much of the order of the day.  The other folks are great too... they're definitely a kind & concerned bunch.  All in all, I'm pretty pumped.
-Back to the phone.  Funky.

10 August 2003
-Training tomorrow, frustrated lethargy today.  Anticipation for future days has a way of wrecking the intervening days.  As does dread.  So the mix of dreading Em leaving for job training & the anticipation of my own said training rained unruly sleet on my parade.  People should look ahead about 15 seconds or so, no more planning than that.

9 August 2003
-"Seabiscuit" is a film for the ages.  I'm not a horse person, but this movie was utterly captivating & well-done.  I predict that it very well could win Best Picture.  Go see it.
-What have people got against me?

-Finally updated the Search of the Week for the last month or so, & the Quiz Stats will be coming soon as well.  Plus archiving this page.  Someday.  Really.
-Cusick & I tend not to agree on lots of things.  In fact, she's usually the first person to try to eviscerate my political posts on this page.  But today she polished off a triple crown of consecutive posts I agree with strongly.  She notes the unfairness of the INS, the problem of farm subsidies, & the media's self-fulfilling prophecy of Howard Dean's unelectability.  Segal tried to refute her INS stuff with talk of it being a generous privilege for the US to offer its citizenship to anyone at all.  But given that everyone in the United States, save a few thousand abused survivors of the Native American genocide, only has citizenship as a result of that "generosity", doesn't it make it somewhat arbitrary to claim that such generosity can now be revoked & limited to such a great degree?  America's alleged founding principle was freedom, not safety.  As far as the farm subsidies, as I was talking with Em about a few days ago, these are one of those products of capitalism that make it impossible for me to imagine that anyone believes in capitalism.  In a world where there is no "market price" for something, there would be no incentive to pay people not to grow food (or other crops) in order to stabilize the price.  Instead, people would grow & distribute their food as much as possible, because that was in the best interests of the world/society.  & anyone thinking "but subsidies are external to a completely free market!" has to defend all the farms who can't turn a profit going out of business.  Meaning, of course, that there would be virtually no farms left in 10 years, & the ones that survived would run pseudo-monopolistic mega-farms that jacked up the price so that even fewer Americans could afford to eat.  Finally, Dean is electable.  People voting on "chance of winning" is the most inane thing in America.  According to 1992 exit polls, 60% of American voters would have voted for H. Ross Perot if they believed he'd had a chance of winning.  Oops.

8 August 2003
-The California DMV is not my friend.  Not only does it uphold ridiculously esoteric driving laws that make little to no sense, it made we wait 2 hours before telling me that I needed an appointment instead.  They estimated a 2 hour, 45 minute wait for me, so I left for a while only to find that my number had been called after a single hour.  Appointments are made at least 2 weeks in advance.  Bah!

7 August 2003
-I am Seneca Center's newest youth counselor (in training).  After weeks of interviews, I've finally been welcomed aboard.  The schedule is going to be fairly unconventional, involving working roughly half the week for crazy hours & having the other half of the week completely free.  More word later on which half of the week & all sorts of other aspects of this.  I'm very excited about a job that actually provides a challenge!
-I've been out of the loop of people's webpages for a good few weeks lately, but have steadily been catching up on the interesting bits.  It seems a community of pseudo-debate has emerged which (as discussed earlier) is not my favorite type of online journaling, but can be interesting from time to time.  Most interesting to me lately is Sep's question of about a week ago where he posists a bizarre quirk on the traditional trolley example.  As one of the few sharply non-consequentialist (means-based is my favorite way of putting it) I know of, I feel obligated to examine his question, which was stated as such:  "I have a challenge for such people: Suppose further that, as you are deciding whether to divert the trolley, Peter Singer drives by in a Prius and shouts some excellent utilitarian arguments that cause you pull the switch and divert the trolley. After diverting the trolley, you 'realize' that you have made a terrible mistake by transgressing against your non-consequentialist beliefs. My question -- do you switch the trolley back, or do you leave it as it is?"  I find this to be a pretty farcical idea.  The point of not diverting the trolley is that you as a moral agent are not responsible for the murder(s) that the trolley may commit.  The responsibility is either non-agented (runaway trolley) or more likely the result of the neglect of a collection of individuals who were charged with proper maintenance of the trolley.  In either case, idly standing by corresponds more to your responsibility than taking action.  One could make a compelling argument that you are obligated to take several actions which might prevent anyone's death.  For example, warning the 5 people in harm's way, throwing obstructive articles in the path of the trolley, & potentially even sacrificing your own life for the sake of the others in the way by throwing yourself in front of the trolley.  These are all actions (especially the self-sacrifice) which you as a moral agent can take ownership of, & are certainly good deeds (though as with any ends-based act, the last of these carries the problem of an unknown future, & your sacrifice might easily be in vain).  The point is that once you move the trolley, you take ownership over its actions!  So once you've diverted the trolley, you are the murderer of whomever the trolley hits.  At that point, it seems relatively morally irrelevant to me whether you divert the trolley back or not.  In either case, you are a murderer, & the difference between one murder & several is somewhat morally minimal, especially compared with the difference between one murder & no murders.  I would think that one's absolute moral obligation after diverting the trolley towards one person would be to jump in front of the trolley & pray that one's force is sufficient to stop it.
-B&N either was kidding about selling the book, or more likely sold its stock already.  Hopefully it won't take long to replenish as demand has been demonstrated.  While I'm on the topic, if anyone has suggestions for how to market the book & spread word of it around to the world, please let me know!

-No one may know why Google ranks pages the way they do.  But Google has 7.72 million pages indexed with the word "quiz" in them.  The Country Quiz opening page is now ranked 22nd overall.

6 August 2003
-Barnes & Noble got on board, & now all the major online booksellers are carrying Loosely Based.  I even saw it on a local San Francisco bookstore's website, as being available on order.  Now I just need to get some major reviewer to classify it a must-read.  Short of that, do you have a copy yet?
-No more waiting for the phone!  My 4th-round interview at Seneca is tomorrow.

5 August 2003
-No matter who's calling, sitting around waiting for the phone is not a particularly fun way to go through a day.
-Lethargy is okay in moderation.

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