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i enjoy looking at and keeping coins from other countries or unusual ones from our own. i even have a coin collection. true, most of them were collected by my dad and i’ve never been as avid a collector as he, but one of the best presents i got from a high school boyfriend was 3 steel pennies (i didn’t include them in the “here, take back the shit you gave me” package after he called me a pagan who was going to hell). i also enjoy the fact that my pre-euro coins from several countries are cheerfully appreciating inside my coin book.


but nothing has excited me like these. not just as a coin collector, but as an artist, this british coin design makes my toes warm. they’re lovely and asymmetrical apart and go together beautifully to create the shield of the royal arms. i hope in the future more countries take a similarly creative approach.


p.s. please don’t talk to me about the potential cruel abandonment of the penny in america. it makes me sad.

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People don’t always want to reveal what they prioritize in politics, as in life, but the caucus system is not a secret ballot. One might, for example, believe that creationism is a little vague around the edges or that affirmative action is more patronizing than effective, but thinking those things is not the same as wanting to say them to your neighbors, friends, and family, which is exactly what you have to do in Iowa. If you are an Iowan Republican who supports Rudy Giuliani, you have to stand in a crowd of people and be publicly associated with his politics – including his pro-choice, pro-evolution stances, even if those are not important to you, or you disagree with him, or whatever. In addition, if less than 15% of voters in an area support a candidate, those voters have to choose someone new to support or their vote won’t count. The 15% rule results in these disenfranchised voters being cajoled and harangued by the supporters of other candidates, often friends and neighbors, who try to convince them to join their camp. In such a system petty corruption, coercion and plain old bullying are near unavoidable.

It’s not just the caucus system that needs reform; we desperately need to revamp the whole primary system. The states which vote first have a disproportionate impact on candidate selection. Even if it doesn’t change my decision or yours that Iowans prefer Obama and Huckabee, it does change the decisions of some potential nominees sufficient that they drop out of the race early. By the time most citizens get to vote there are fewer candidates in the running, so historically someone who may have fared superbly in many states could have already been eliminated by a couple tiny states whose opinions are deemed more important simply because they vote earlier. This is another place where the caucus system fails Iowans, (and the rest of us,) because in Iowa, due to the 15% rule, a candidate with 14% of the vote in every county would still get 0% in the final tally. 14% may not seem like much, but when we’re using the early primaries as an opportunity to drum people out of the race, the difference between 14% and 0% is huge. Then we go to New Hampshire, which is about as large as my living room and less diverse. It’s absurd that the decision of those two states, which together comprise less than 2% of America’s population, would eliminate any of our options in the rest of the country. Their voting systems are not ours, and their politics aren’t either. That’s why California and several other states moved up their primaries this year. But the end result of that decision seems to be a ridiculously stretched campaign season, and it still doesn’t solve the problem; it merely changes whose votes get over weighted.

The only solution i can see is for all the states to have primaries (not caucuses), if not all on the same day, at least within a few days of each other, so that candidates aren’t summarily punted on the basis of a small fraction of the nation’s voters’ choices.


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the more words you guess right, the more rice the advertisers will donate to feed hungry people all over the world. improve your vocabulary and end world hunger all at once! i found this courtesy of a softer world, which is one of my favorite internet comics. read the archives; there's some great stuff in there.

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i was raised on Star Trek (in some ways, more than i was by my parents). dad mail-ordered the vhs cassettes of every episode of the first series some time before i was born, and we watched about an episode a day as far back as i can remember. i was young enough when watching this show that it didn't matter at all that the rocks were clearly made of styrofoam, or that there was a visible string attached to the star ship enterprise in the space scenes (or occasionally a hand moving the ship). i loved the show. it was exciting, often ridiculous, and entirely escapist. like so many girls, i had a crush on mr. chekov (his accent was so sexy, and he looked like one of the beatles. i think this childhood crush was the cause, or perhaps a symptom, of my attention to and fondness for peripheral characters in all stories.) i will always think about Star Trek in a way that is entirely nostalgic, gleeful, and really quite geeky. (ruby points out here that there are very few non-geeky ways to think about Star Trek, which may well be true.)

that being said, here is
the cast so far of the new star trek movie. i am not outraged or overjoyed, just intrigued by their choices. harold from Harold and Kumar as mr. sulu. sylar as spock. shaun of the dead as scotty. the son from Huff as mr. chekov. by the way, didn’t chekov only show up in the middle of the series, replacing a sequence of red shirt navigators who died gruesome deaths? how exactly is he in a version in which they're all a good bit younger than they were in the original series? shouldn't he be in grade school at that point? and we’re not even going to talk about the fact that they didn’t get a southerner to play dr. mccoy.

i’m afraid i’m going to have to drag ruby to see this catastrophe in the theater. (ed: fat chance) i find it impossible to pass up; it looks like it may be true to the roots of the show – bizarre, a little shoddy, and full of joy. in my imagination, the explanation for there being two spocks in this new movie is that it starts out with william shatner and leonard nimoy as kirk and spock; they're sitting on a balcony, reminiscing about the old days, perhaps drinking whiskey and smoking cigars. james spader is in the background, wandering about the back of the shot in a housecoat.

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liz got called back for Nothing but the Truth, the movie we applied to as extras. some of the casting people, after looking through pictures of potential extras, went to eat at Salsa and, by coincidence, saw her bartending there. one of them recognized her from the picture she’d sent in, and the next morning (yesterday) they called to say they wanted her to come in for the shoot. this was one of the first days of real filming, and they needed people to walk around the commercial appeal offices (disguised as the washington post offices). liz was picked along with a couple other “photogenic” people to walk around with papers in her hands looking busy.  a few others were put behind desks, talking on phones and writing, doing other deskly things. the rest were put into a crowd scene outside the building.


of course, all the shot with her in the background may end up on the cutting room floor, but even so, she got to be on set for 12 hours today, watching kate beckinsale, angela bassett, and noah wyle act and talk to the director about their scenes. when she wasn't needed, liz explored and watched as much of the workings of movie making as she could without being shooed away. it was a small set, so she had more opportunity than one normally would to wander, as long as she didn’t disturb or get in anyone’s way. she got to see the replay monitors and hear many discussions about the making of each scene. she says both actresses are incredibly beautiful in person, and that angela bassett is tiny. even in very tall heels, she was still no taller than liz.


the casting folks may call liz again; we don’t know. there are many days of filming left, so lots of opportunities. they still haven’t done the prison scenes yet, and i hold out hope that they’ll look at my picture and see the hardened inmate lurking behind my pleasant demeanor. i’d make a great inmate.


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liz and i are applying to be extras in a movie that's about to start filming in memphis. it's called "Nothing But the Truth" and they need lots of local people for group shots, particularly for the female prison scenes. now, i have about as much inmate gravitas as my sheep in a bucket does, but i sent in a picture and cover letter anyway to try for the other parts they might offer me for my 15 milliseconds of fame. they'll need extras and stand-ins (male and female, all ages and races) the whole time they're here, so don't be deterred by the fact that filming starts tomorrow.

i expect nothing and hope for a good time, plus maybe half a second of screen time. it'll be fun; you know you want to try out too.

p.s. they pay you for this!

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in my research for tomorrow’s election, i found this site. it has a questionnaire for all the mayoral and city council candidates to fill out; most of them did.

personally i don’t vote for anyone so entrenched in the past that they don't have an accessible campaign website. someone worth voting for should be able to find at least one supporter willing to assist in technical tasks such as designing a functional site which presents the candidate in a positive light. failing that they should have the initiative to hire one. some do neither. worse, some can’t even be bothered to use their computer to answer simple questionnaires. perhaps they don’t have a computer at home on which to do so, but then hopefully they’ve been to the library some time in the last decade to discover banks of computers available there for all and sundry. or perhaps not, but it’s hard for me to believe that you have a solid plan for the future of our city when you inform me of those plans in pencil.



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April 2008

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