Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy

Never has a blog title spoken quicker to the absolute truth than "Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy" ...


Re: NFL Draft

I slaved over the NFL draft first round this year .... Stopped making picks a few years ago for the same reason I stopped doing most fantasy sports (excepting professional football): Because when I do, that sport (or in this case, draft) isn't fun to watch anymore. But this year I decided to get back on the horse and see how it would go and, true to form, I was virtually miserable throughout the entire first round.

However, all my hard work (very hard work, actually) paid off: I correctly picked 10 of the 32 picks (which doesn't sound like a lot, but is an impressive personal best I take seriously, given the fact I don't follow the college game closely), earned an extra first round pick in my franchise football league, set a record for lowest correct pick (# 31 out of 32) and, most importtant of all, beat my step-brother. As a condition of our personal bet, he must buy Tool's new album for me when it comes out Tuesday. (I would have had to take him to the movies.)

The correct picks:
Number One: Houston Texans selected Mario Williams, DE, North Carolina State. (No brainer. The announcement that Williams had signed a contract came late Friday night.)
Number Two: New Orleans Saints selected Reggie Bush, RB, Southern California.
Number Three: Tennessee Titans selected Vince Young, QB, Texas.
Number Four: New York Jets selected D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia.
Number Five: Green Bay Packers selected A.J. Hawk, LB, The Ohio State.
Number Six: The Beloved San Francisco 49ers selected Vernon Davis, TE, Marlyand.
Number Seventeen: Minnesota Vikings selected Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa.
Number Nineteen: San Diego Chargers selected Antonio Cromartie, CB, Florida State.
Number Twenty-nine: New York Jets selected Nick Mangold, C, The Ohio State.
Number Thirty-one: Seattle Seahawks selected Kelly Jennings, CB, Miami of Florida.

And now, for my next trick, I will get up and shower without hurting myself. Ta-da!!!!


Detailed "Lincoln's Tomb" Update

It is with no small amount of barely-contained terror I announce my intention to begin writing selected portions of Lincoln’s Tomb later this week. Research is ongoing and will continue during this time.

By “selected portions” I mean sections, or parts of sections, covering events and oddities I can finally cover with reasonable historic certainty, including:

1) John Parker. Even prior to 14 April 1865, Parker’s performance record left a great deal to be desired – up to and including his arriving late to work on the fateful night – and yet he was entrusted with the task of protecting a president at the conclusion of the bloodiest and most divisive war America had ever seen (or will ever see). At the moment John Wilkes Booth creeps up the stairs toward Lincoln’s box, with her Deringer and his knife, Parker was nowhere to be found. There are also points to be made about Parker’s movements the night / morning following the assassination, and the Johnson administration’s pronounced lack of interest in him despite (what I consider to be) a drastic dereliction of duty.

2) Lincoln’s acute awareness of the hatred harbored against him – he kept an envelope marked “Assassination” in his desk drawer that, as late as March 1865, contained some 80 pieces of threatening mail – and his utter indifference to it.

3) Springfield in the modern day and its efforts to preserve Lincoln’s presence there. This is intended to come at the end of the book; it will describe how neatly the history is stationed in-between modern architecture / movements, a description of the tomb and the grounds around it at Oak Ridge, et cetera.

Handwritten notes will be made, but as previously mentioned here at the Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy blog, the actual first draft of the entire book will be written on my Smith Corona manual typewriter as a bow to the Old School.


The 2005 TGO Awards (Two Months Late)

Man Card: Tedy Bruschi, linebacker, New England Patriots. Following a stroke suffered shortly after the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVIII, Bruschi returns to the Patriot lineup at linebacker and plays his first game on October 30th, recording 10 tackles against the Buffalo Bills on ESPN's Sunday Night Football.

Movie of the Year: Sin City.

Song of the Year: "Helena" by My Chemical Romance.

Album of the Year: Get Behind Me Satan, by The White Stripes.

Full list of past winners coming soon.


Updates: TGO @ MySpace, Springtime Assholes, TGO Awards, TGO Radio, "Lincoln's Tomb"

Those who have read the column “The MySpace Social Experiment” may be curious to know I have updated my MySpace account to include my full name and current data, though I have changed my location from my actual city to “Northern, Indiana,” in case anyone would think of trying to find the girl whose profile I mention in the column. Basically I made the change because I didn’t want people to think I was trying to cruise teenage girls. The only real differences between the MySpace page and this blog are the lists of books I’ve read / albums I’ve listened to recently and some dopey pictures I posted to humor myself. Otherwise, whatever is available here is available there …. In the unlikely event you’re curious, you can see the page here: http://www.myspace.com/brianswise

By the way, having now spent several days bumping around MySpace, I have come to a few conclusions: I now realize what The Kids see in it – MySpace is an exquisite time-waster. If so inclined, you could spend hours tweaking your profile, adding videos and pictures, adding a song that annoyingly starts playing whenever someone visits your page, leaving comments on other people’s profiles (not to mention for their pictures and videos), reading blogs, getting yourself into little groups consisting of likeminded heathens … in other words, it’s perfect if you’ve got 20 minutes to kill, or are dodging homework, et cetera.

Also, there’s some decent art floating around on there. I’ve found myself sending emails to a few people telling them I like their art. Granted they’re few and far between, but it’s out there.

Third, I’ve got to stop fighting the fact meeting women on the Internet is my destiny. You’ll notice that in the “MySpace Social Experiment” column I noted the number of attractive gals hanging out there, but that’s not the reason I must relent to this reality. The reason is that I literally have no other way to meet them, given my indoor work (writing, researching, office work) and great dislike of bars, crowds, et cetera. Not to mention I prefer them to men when it comes to things like gay little coffee get-togethers, dinners and moving picture shows. Of course, that is bound to be a hilarious process once (and if) it begins, so I’ll keep you all updated. (No names, man.)

Attention Springtime Assholes: No time like the present to get a new muffler. Or, you know, if you’re out riding a motorcycle you insist must be as loud as humanly possible because all the noise takes your mind off your small, tiny, miniscule cock, feel free to drive straight off a fucking cliff somewhere. I continue living in small towns because I detest the noise other people produce; while I accept that some will naturally occur, the continuing parade of loud car stereos, muffler-less cars / motorcycles makes me want to stand out on the curb with a shotgun and a trash bag full of shells. Time to put aside your inferiority complexes and bring the noise down.

Re: The 2005 TGO Awards. Yes, I know they’re very late (normally announced in February), but as usual I’m held up between two nominees for one category, namely the 2005 Song of the Year. Will get around to it this weekend.

I’m close to deciding on a format for TGO Radio (the Solo Show) and should record a test show in the next few weeks. Speaking of which, I’ve begun working on a TGO Radio Greatest Hits CD for The White Yoko and will probably make the entire file available for free at BrianWise.com. More news on that as it becomes available. Obviously I want the final product to be slickly produced, so it’s going to take some work.

Research work on Lincoln’s Tomb is on brief hiatus while I catch up on some other reading.


Quick Notes Re: Tom Cruise and His Awful Fiancé / Baby

Tom Cruise’s future ex-wife (good ol’ whatsherface) finally had their baby …. No time like the present for Child Protective Services to swoop in and anally probe Cruise and examine the toy cult to which he belongs as thoroughly as California State law will allow, up to and including random visits at home and on any movie or television set on which either of them may work between now and the exact moment the little antichrist turns 18. Not only is Scientology an intellectually vacant exercise, but to the extent the higher-ups take it as seriously as they do, it ends up taking the shape of something not altogether different from a larger, richer Manson Family or Jonestown suicide sect. Get in there and get it done, California.

The White Yoko / Internet Outage / Column: "The MySpace Social Experiment"

Best wishes to The White Yoko, who underwent a particularly nasty surgery Wednesday morning and will be laid up for several weeks.

A lightning strike at a nearby tower kept my Internet out for several days .... Those of you actually looking forward to the column I mentioned mid-last week, "The MySpace Social Experiment," can find it below.

"The MySpace Social Experiment"
In Dissent - Number Two Hundred Twenty
Friday, 14 April 2006
751 words

A Washington DC-based rapper called Asheru first brought me to MySpace; his 32-second theme song from The Boondocks cartoon show is available as a free download there. An acquaintance’s blog (which incidentally hasn’t been updated for weeks) kept me coming back. But what prompted this column was MySpace’s announcing Tuesday it has hired Microsoft’s Hemanshu Nigam to serve as its first chief security officer.

Like most people with their heads somewhere in current events, I’ve heard rumblings and warnings about MySpace and thoughtless teenagers – some television reporter (he would forgive my not jotting down his name or affiliation) recently tracked a young girl to her gym class based only on information she’d posted on her MySpace page – but a chief security officer? Is this necessary, or simply MySpace’s way of protecting itself from potential lawsuits filed by irritated (or worse, distraught) parents?

To find out, I logged onto MySpace and started clicking around. (Readers may be interested to know my profile contains a pseudonym, correct age, religious affiliation, location, sex and sexual preference, but nothing else.) The plan was to start with reasonable searches of the site’s female clientele and work backwards into unreasonable searches (i.e., underage girls), along the way cataloging examples of what seemed like risky behavior. The first search was for females with pictures attached to their profiles, aged 25 to 30, single and looking to date within 10 miles of my home. Fifty-eight results were offered.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but some attractive gals are hanging out at MySpace (that is, if their pictures can be believed), though one picture in particular stood out because it looked suspiciously like the class pictures we all posed for in school. The profile itself said she is 25, but upon scrolling to the right hand side of the page I saw she’s listed her full name, birth date and real age – 13.

Within 90 seconds I conducted two separate Internet searches, one for possible home telephone numbers and another for middle schools in her town. Each netted three viable results. How easy would it have been to call those phone numbers and ask if the girl was at home, thus allowing myself the luxury of putting an address with the correct number? Following that, how easy would it have been to get directions to that address? This was unsettling, even for someone who despises the “What if?” game.

Her “friends” list was no more reassuring. There were links to a few dozen other teen profiles, most of them girls, more than a few repeating the original mistakes and in some cases compounding them. (One 16-year-old girl posted her AOL instant messenger screen name and invited anyone who wanted to chat to approach her; Dateline and Donny Deutsch will both tell you this is how a lot of child molesters and rapists get their start.) Within 15 minutes I could have gathered similar stats on a handful of teenage girls, most older than 13 but none 18 or above. The New York Times reports MySpace has 65 million members, and you can bet that not nearly enough of them are conservative columnists doing harmless research. Start at this point and think your way forward – now you see the problem.

Hemanshe Nigam has quite the task ahead of him. Ostensibly, MySpace has asked Nigam to be the a watchdog for millions of teenagers who clearly have no watchdog at home, or else they wouldn’t be posting intimate details about themselves on the Internet. Nothing desirable about that; for every one teen who heeds MySpace’s warnings to watch themselves more carefully online, who knows how many will ignore the warnings – the teen temperament often believes it knows better – or never hear them at all.

We instinctively understand that no one my age should be viewing an underage girl’s MySpace profile, but neither MySpace nor Nigam possess the innate ability to protect teenagers from themselves or others. Block anyone over a certain age from viewing the profiles of those under a certain age and those older folks with certain motivations will simply open new accounts listing false information, thus enabling them to surf, peruse or pursue to their heart’s content. Other than by viewing each of the 65 million profiles and searching for discrepancies like the one I found, MySpace has no real recourse beyond the power of persuasion, which is equally unsettling, because if it were easy to convince teenagers to think straight, Hemanshe Nigam wouldn’t be necessary.


"Lincoln's Tomb" Note / MySpace Column Note

Early Tuesday morning I began rough, handwritten outlines for a few sections of Lincoln’s Tomb, which I will begin writing sometime this upcoming weekend. One is about John Parker, the man assigned to guard Lincoln the night of the assassination, another for what will be the last chapter of the book, about modern day Springfield and how it maintains Lincoln’s legacy. As promised in the column “For the Typewriter,” these sections – as well as the book’s entire first draft – will be written on my old manual typewriter. I will post excerpts as soon as they’re finished.

Those of you wondering what the hell MySpace is all about may be interested to read my next column, “The MySpace Social Experiment,” coming this Friday. Especially if you have daughters.


Exit Bednarek

Monday afternoon, I removed Jennifer Bednarek as lead researcher for Lincoln’s Tomb, my book-in-progress. She will not be replaced. Research on the book will continue in her absence.

Steady readers will recall that my former ISP was having some trouble keeping the service up and running on the weekends (if you must, relive the horror by reading this and this) before finally refusing to take my calls and I dumped them. Jennifer and I previously agreed to meet and discuss the book via instant messenger, so when Internet service finally went down for good, things understandably ground to a halt.

Attempts to arrange a phone conversation, via text messages, proved unproductive when 1) She said her girlfriend’s father was in town from Detroit, and 2) No offense to me, but she understood this was to be an Internet-only affair, and she’s “not good at calling people.” I’d thought an exception would be made given the fact Internet was out at Camp TGO, but instead of fighting her on the point I simply said, Okay, stop researching until I can get Internet back, though I feared it wouldn’t be soon.

There were two reasons for telling her to stop. The first was that I wanted to make sure both of our research started at the same point and worked forward. The second reason was that I wanted her to keep a detailed bibliography of her references and note in her research what work was referenced where, essential notations for what would ultimately be the book’s official bibliography and list of resources. She didn’t know these at the time, so I thought it best to tell her.

On Monday, 20 March, I wrote Jennifer from my Yahoo! mail account, accessed via the local public library, and said again I feared I might not be back online for “several weeks,” which I half jokingly chalked up to “financial difficulties and international intrigue.” I added the following paragraphs, which are presented unedited.

I said “stop researching; don’t write or print anything” because we needed to speak about the tone and position of the research itself. Though “Lincoln’s Tomb” will begin on Lincoln’s last day, I’m not exactly sure where in his last day, so it’s best to begin as he wakes and continue forward through the DC funeral, the funeral train, the various moves, the attempted kidnapping, et cetera.

All Lincoln research should conclude before we get into Booth, Rathbone and Harris, et cetera. As of this moment, my plan is to write about Lincoln and research the others on a limited basis as you’re researching the others, which I hope will move the processes along a bit, but things could change, which is why I asked to speak to you when I knew I wasn’t going to be online for a while.

You will need to keep a detailed bibliography, and I will need to know what sources are referenced as I look at your research. This is not merely cosmetic. At some point those sources will need to be referenced in the Notes section of the book; you know, the modern equivalent of showing your work. Part of what’s taking me so long in my research is all this detailing, backtracking and concurrent research, but intellectually it will be worth it when the book becomes factually beyond reproach.

If it will be easier, PLEASE feel free to photocopy large passages of certain books and highlight relevant passages, just be careful to note the book, author, page numbers and so forth. I have been doing that at my office copier, but if you have to do this, please take care to note how much you spent and I will happily reimburse you. My next paydays are 31 March, 14 April and 28 April, so please make sure to send whatever reimburseable items to me sometime before those dates and I’ll get them in the mail on a payday Friday.

I’m sure I’m missing something, which is why we should speak every other week or so until I get Internet back at the house. But whatever. I cannot guarantee I will be checking this e-mail on a regular basis, but feel free to fire off whatever questions, concerns, et cetera you may have. Will get to them as soon as logic allows.

Jennifer offered no reply to this email, but I cannot remember whether I expected one. Let’s just say I didn’t in the name of fairness.

A nice development regarding Internet came the next day, Tuesday the 21st, and I sent Jennifer a text message: “Could be back online as soon as thursday [sic]. Full explanation of outage then.” No response.

Internet was back on at Camp TGO on that Thursday, 23 March; I sent the aforementioned explanation email (a much longer version of this was posted in two versions on this blog, linked above) and yet heard nothing.

On Monday, 27 March, I sent Jennifer another email, the subject line read “Ready whenever you are.” It read: “Excepting either a nap or some sort of Internet disruption, I'm ready to chat online about the book ... but not tonight (Monday). Any other night this week, though, or the weekend. Just let me know.” No response.

On Saturday, 01 April I sent the following text message: “Have been waiting to hear from you for a bit now – you all right or just ducking me? Did you get my new email addy? Drop me a note …” Again, no response.

It could have been on Monday, 03 April (though I cannot recall the exact date) that Jennifer sent me an instant message, saying she’d been out of public circulation, so to speak, because she suddenly broke through her writer’s block and was writing, but she would call soon. No need for that, I replied, now that I’m online again we can IM, as per the previous agreement. No response – I believe this lack of response came because she was having some problems with her WiFi connection, which as you can imagine happens frequently in New Orleans.

The next day, Tuesday the 4th, I sent Jennifer the following email, presented here in its unedited form: “Hey, doll. I'll need to hear from you by Friday re: whether you'll be continuing research work on the Lincoln book in the face of your new writing spree. If I don't hear from you by then, I'll assume you've moved on to that writing and I'll continue with the work myself. If, on the other hand, you're going to continue with my book, we'll need to IM soon. Thanks - be good.” Nothing. Even given the chance to back out, no response came at all.

On Friday, 07 April I sent yet another email at about 8.45am Eastern time: “Still need to know … whether you're still working on this book. If not, if you're going to write instead, please let me know.” Thinking that maybe she was suffering a prolonged Internet disruption, I also sent yet another text message, at 5:33pm Eastern time: “Just following up on the emails i [sic] sent you; to make sure you got them.”

The weekend passed without a peep. Today, Monday the 10th, it finally became clear she was no longer “in the fold,” but for some reason didn’t have the strength or dignity to tell me directly. Finally irritated beyond the simple ability to express it, I sent Jennifer this email, which has been edited slightly in the second and third paragraphs:


Last Tuesday I wrote and asked whether you were still working on the Lincoln book given your recent writing spree, and if not to please let me know by last Friday. Since then I have emailed once more and sent a text message (this was in case the Internet happened to be out there) with no response. Here on Monday afternoon, I have correctly interpreted your silence and am getting rid of you. Whatever research you've completed and written to this point will not be accepted.

I thought I handled you correctly on this project: I kept a distance but required some communication and accountability, and I worked hard to keep things moving in a certain way. And before my old ISP screwed me on service, it seemed to work out well - once that happened, you became functionally useless; unresponsive and indifferent. That indifference … could not be tolerated.

…. You're very, very good Jennifer, just not good enough to fuck people, and you shouldn't fool yourself into thinking otherwise.

No trace of you remains here, and I want it kept that way. Don't let me see your words, hear your voice or read your name ever again.


And that is the end of her. Truth be told, I’m taking this like I would take a bad break-up. I believe so much in Jennifer and her intellectual talents, and was prepared to take her with me throughout all of Lincoln’s Tomb’s various promotional travails. But I simply cannot stand back and tolerate the sort of apathy that would have gotten her fired from a McDonald’s long before now.


Also Bush's Fault

CA Levee Breaks Causing Mudlsides, Forced Evacuations
April 5, 2006 12:00 p.m. EST

Sacramento, CA - Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate their homes and communities as two days of non-stop rainstorms deluged northern California on Tuesday, breaking levees, causing mudslides, and undermining coastal roads.

The rushing waters flooded a trailer park, housing development and farmlands.

Et cetera.


Heads Up

Water is mounting in Fargo, North Dakota, and there is concern about serious flooding there. I’m telling you now so you can get your “It’s Bush’s fault!” screed prepared. And while we’re at it, the break of a Kauai dam built in the 1890s is also Bush’s fault, in much the same way the New Orleans break of a levee built in the 1920s was Bush’s fault. Don't say I never try to help.