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Having sensed that they reached the point of diminishing returns with the "liberal media" meme, conservative activists have recently turned their attention to the one institution in American society that is still mostly dominated by the liberal ethos: higher education.

Led by erstwhile communist David Horowitz and a bevy of unproven allegations by conservative students whose main beef seems to be that their claims were not given the same credence as their professors', the American Right has quietly begun submitting bills to state legislatures that would mandate "balance" in public university classrooms, and keep educators from expressing "irrelevant" political opinions. Some have spoken unironically of instituting a kind of "affirmative action" in hiring conservative academics.


These bills are gross, but I don't believe they will have any lasting impact on the academy, and certainly not the kind that the Right effected on the mass media. Why? First, higher education is not essentially market-driven the way media content is. My institution has a student body of roughly 40,000 and a reputation as "the Berkeley of the midwest," even though it's in the middle of a tight swing state. If conservatives were going to use the market to create an alternative, they would've, but they can't, and trying to put in place mealy-mouthed guidelines at the legislative level is simply not going to be enforceable (or especially popular).

More important, though, is the fact that education and research are inherently unconservative, in the literal sense. The functions of academic institutions are to expand knowledge, to change ways of thinking, to progress. The heart of conservatism is tradition, and that literal conservatism still contributes a lot to the make-up of modern American political conservatism. And if you can't stomach the idea that agreed-upon scientific findings might contradict your superstitions, well, maybe the academy is not the place for you.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




Okay, it's been just over a year that I've been a phone actress and it is really starting to wear on me. Last night, I was just about ready to log off and quit for forever, mentally running through other possible jobs I could do, when the phone rang and this caller, Boo, saved me from phone acting retirement.

This guy tells me all sorts of crazy stories about him peeping in windows and jacking off watching the occupants. First off, there is this woman two doors down from him that loves to watch 'cum shot' pornos and has full length sliding glass doors and she walks around either naked or in a tiny nighty and masturbates with a vibrator in her lazy boy. Boo loves to watch her from her hedges outside.

Really? You never got caught, Boo?

One time he almost did get caught! He was watching this very sexy woman and all he wears is a black mask, a cock ring, and 7 or 8 ball rings. He was so excited he started to squirt a little bit, and he squirts so far, like 10-15 feet, that he actually squirt a little cum right onto her glass doors!! She was pleasuring herself with her vibrator, but decided to go outside to investigate. She walked right past him hiding in the bush. We decided it would be funny if he had jumped out and said, "Boo!" but embarrassing in the long run. It was very exciting to him when I suggested that she went outside for her morning cup of coffee and stepped in the big pile of cum he left for her on her patio.

This woman also walks around the neighborhood daily for exercise wearing shorts so short her ass hangs out the bottom and a tiny tight top. Just the other day, Boo was hanging out in his garage with the door open. He got a big piece of cardboard and wrote "Garage Sale" on it. This woman yelled up to Boo, who was standing naked behind the sign, and asked if he was having a sale. He told her he wasn't set up yet but soon there would be one. When she asked what kinds of things he would be selling he told her he'd be selling old pornos, magazines, and cock rings. While chatting he was standing behind the sign jerking off.

Didn't she see you, Boo?

Oh, she must have. The sign only went up to his waist and she could see his arm hanging down and moving up and down. She just chuckled and went on her way.

Goodness gracious, Boo. If I had been in that situation, I would have been even more freaked out than the time I ended up at a rummage sale inside the house of a one-armed man and his parrot.

All in all it was a great call that lasted 35 minutes. All I had to do was egg him on to tell me more and more stories and it kept me employed as a phone actress for at least one more night.

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink




I had something of a revelation last night while watching the terrific Troubled Hubble show at High Noon Saloon (also featuring the pretty good El Oso and the unremarkable Echo-static). As a broad-minded music lover, I sometimes find myself disappointed with genre tributaries that don't go where I want them to go, or just don't provide anything that I can connect with in anything more than a passing way. But listening to the high-minded crunch-pop of The Next Great Chicago Rock Band, I started to see the slot that I had been looking for.

It's an axis that runs through the Dismemberment Plan, Piebald and Motion City Soundtrack, all the way over to more radio-friendly folks like OK Go. These are bands whose success was made possible by the alt./indie explosion of the early 1990's, but who owe more musically to Hüsker Dü, the Who and Pavement than they do to Nirvana and Pearl Jam (ironically, in those three bands' catalogs, there's only a sliver of material that I particularly like).

Troubled Hubble's fourth full-length album (and first for big-time indie label Lookout!), Making Beds in a Burning House, is out on May 17, but a probably unfinished version leaked to the Internets about five months ago. Many of the people at the show (myself included) knew the new material, which comprised most of the band's set. It was my first real exposure to them, and it drew me quickly into their back-catalog. I can only hope that Lookout! does for them what it did for Ted Leo, who's now in every important Rolodex under "Indie Rock Ambassador."

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Music ... Permalink




It's spring break this week, and I don't have the stomach to discuss the necrophilia going in Congress right now, so there's not much to post on. But a couple news items about Apple caught my eye, both from Mac Rumors.

First, the third-party iTunes Music Store interface, which was recently released, PyMusique, has already been shut out by changes Apple made to the store's framework. But one interesting development has come of it -- apparently the files that are sent to you by iTMS do not include any DRM (digital rights management) restrictions on their use; the DRM is added by the iTunes application itself once the file arrives on your computer. I suspect this revelation will lead to yet more hacking by the iTunes hacking gurus.

Also, Apple will apparently be switching to a two-button mouse in the near future. Are there still Mac users out there who are using the bundled mouse? Apple hasn't introduced a good mouse in ten years, so hopefully this gets them back on track.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Technophunk ... Permalink ...
Comments (2)




Local call, Random Request.

That means it is a 15 minute call and he requested someone but she isn't available to take his call, so he gets whoever is next up to get a call.

So, I say hello and the first thing he asks is if I workout.

"Yeah, I workout all the time." Remember the answer to every question is 'yes.'

"Are you strong?"

"Yeah, very strong."

"I have a fantasy."

"Okay, tell me about it."

His fantasy is that I come to his house to give him a private dance and then after I'm done I challenge him to a wrestling match with the conditions being that if he wins, he gets the dance for free, but if I win, he has to pay me double my fee. Of course, since I work out all the time, I'm much much stronger than him and there is no way he's going to pin me.

So, okay. I'm trying my best to 'dance' for him and then challenge him to wrestle and pin him. I don't really know what kinds of things to emphasize here and he isn't helping much at all so it goes kind of quick, only about 5 or 6 minutes. Then he hangs up.

Later the same night I get the "Local call, Random Request" prompt again and the guy has the same voice and the same name. Starts asking me the same questions,

"Do you work out?"


We run through the whole thing again: I dance, challenge and pin him and he hangs up.

Then I get the guy AGAIN. Man, I am tired of him.

"Do you work out?"


"No?!?" He must always get the answer 'yes' since as I've said a million times before, the answer to every question is 'yes.'

"No, I don't work out."


Click. Thank god, he hung up on me and I don't have to do that stupid fantasy again. He knows my name and my voice and whenever he gets me he always hangs up right away. Tee hee, finally a perv that hates me probably as much as I hate them.

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink



Well, only about a third of the class was there (because it's the Friday before spring break and we had a blizzard last night) but they seemed to like the lecture. One student even came up at the end and said she really enjoyed it and found it easy to follow and understand.

If, for some reason, you want to learn about political PR and new media, you can check out the slides here.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Permalink ...
Comments (1)




I've giving my first lecture tomorrow. It's on political PR and new media. Hooray!

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Permalink




The Get Up Kids break up:

Ladies and gentlemen, the rumors are true. After ten years, close to a hundred recorded songs and several trips around the world, The Get Up Kids will be playing their last shows this summer. We're celebrating the release of our as-of-yet-untitled live record and we're coming around one final time. We'll be playing gigs in the west, in the east and in the middle of the US. Our very last show will be in Kansas City, MO (our hometown) Fourth of July weekend 2005.

For what it's worth, they'll be placing at #7 on my best albums of 2004 list, whenever I finish writing it.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Music ... Permalink



Here's what's bothering me.

George Bush, Sr., was sent over to Newsweek recently to once again tell the tale of JEB!'s disinterest in running for President in 2008. This has been an ongoing talking point for the Bushes, both before and after JEB!'s assignment to south Asia to tour the tsunami ruins.

But I've been reading Fear and Loathing... '72 lately, and Thompson spends a lot of his primary coverage discussing the looming juggernaut of Ted Kennedy making a late entry into the race. The conventional wisdom is that Kennedy was only interested in running if the rest of the field looked weak and if somebody else (ie. John Lindsay) built up a constituency he could poach.

Back in 1972, the primary season didn't begin until March, and the prelude campaign was much shorter than what we have now, so it wasn't too outlandish to think that a well-known politician might wait until late April to enter the race (it's also worth noting that conventions were less scripted then, and it would've been possible for Kennedy to have emerged there as a consensus candidate).

I think there's a roughly even chance that this is the sort of thing JEB! is planning. The names being proposed for the 2008 GOP field are extremely uninspiring. Bill Frist, the "presumptive frontrunner," is one boring, cat-killing motherfucker; he is saddled with a near-total lack of personality and a lengthy record as a Senator. Condi Rice is incompetent and a known liar; normally that would be just fine for Republican primary voters, but in this case, she's also a black woman. John McCain will be opposed by the entirety of the party machine; he'll also be really old and still just as creepy as he was in 2000. Rick Santorum has only a smooth bump between his legs and a piece of molded brown plastic on top of his head; he's also pathologically obsessed with people fucking dogs.

Meanwhile, the Democrats will likely have two bonafide political rockstars running in Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. The media will have stopped paying much attention to JEB! by October, 2007, when he still will not have entered the race, leaving the lion's share of the attention to go Clinton's way. I tend to doubt she will win the nomination, but I suspect she'll have some relatively strong showings and will continue to be a major presence in the race into late February and March.

Then, with the Republican field looking like a bit of a sideshow, JEB! will burst onto the scene to rescue his party. He will have escaped a good six months of national scrutiny. He will not have had to spend any money at all on the first half dozen or so primaries. He will be able to attract true independents by declaring that the party machinery was failing to do what was necessary to connect with the American people. He announces just in time to get on most of the Super Tuesday ballots, and staging write-in campaigns in the states where he's missed the deadline. He sweeps the rest of the contests, picks up more delegates when Frist drops out, wins the nomination on the first ballot, then kills and eats John McCain to cap his acceptance speech.

If there are two things I believe about these Bushes, they're that they are congenital liars and power-fiends. Given that the private sector has been somewhat hostile to his generation of Bushes, I don't think there's a chance that JEB! will simply walk off into the sunset of CEOness after leaving the Governor's mansion.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




I don't know if I'm just sensitized to it, or if there are an inordanatly large number of Texans that call phone sex. So this Texan called me up the other night and right away starts calling me 'bitch' and 'whore' and using really harsh language.

So, after a few minutes of this, I say, "You're calling me all these names, can I call you names?"

"Oh, yeah!"

"Alright you asshole. You fucking son of a bitch. %$#^#$%##$#^&^%*%^"

Things go from bad to worse quickly, he says, "I'm gonna shit in your mouth. I'm going to fuck your ass and then your twat and get your own shit in your twat."

Blah, blah, blah, this raunchy talking goes on for about 10 minutes, him saying he loves this dirty talk. But then the tide turns quickly. He says,

"You know, I don't really like this dirty talk. All I really want is nice soft, kisses on my neck while we make love. Come on, baby. Tell me you love me."

"No way." Please remember that the answer to everything on phone sex is 'yes.'

"What?!? Come on, tell me you love me." he pleads.

Finally, I get to express to him my hatred of him and his state.

"No, I don't love anyone from Texas." HA HA!

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink