June 27, 2006

51 Facts About Me

(And now for something completely different. I need to mix it up every once in a while. We will return to our regular programming shortly.)

When I was ten years old my father asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said "English teacher."

When I was a kid I never went through a "girls have germs" phase. I always liked girls and had simultaneous crushes on two of them in kindergarten.

I have been a news junkie since I was 12 years old and had a paper route.

I had another paper route in college so I could buy beer and cds.

I lived with two girlfriends before I got married.

My wife and I bought a house a year and a half before we were married and six months after we met.

I got terrible grades in high school, including in English class, and "they" put me into the advanced English class anyway. I thought "they" were crazy. I no longer do.

I got excellent grades in college.

I have contempt for stupid people.

I don't think there is anything wrong with smoking marijuana (in moderation) and I think it should be legalized immediately. Although I almost never smoke it myself and I don't intend to smoke it if it does become legal. (And no, I am not lying about the last part.)

My wife and I saw a live sex show in Amsterdam, but we have never watched pornography together.

I love spicy food. The only food too spicy for me is a habanero pepper all by itself.

I love to argue for sport and don't take arguments personally as long as my opponent isn't an asshole.

I almost always vote Democrat, but I am not a "liberal" and I am not afraid to vote for Republicans or members of the weird parties. (Nader yes, Perot no.)

I was baptized Catholic and raised Protestant.

My father is a life-long atheist.

I am not religious.

My mother is a squishy liberal.

My father is a Republican In Name Only.

My brother has been to all seven continents, including Antarctica - the bastard. I made it to South America and the Middle East first, though.

I would like to be a libertarian, but too many of them are crazy and the party itself is an even bigger joke than our two major parties.

My favorite move is Blade Runner.

My favorite author is William Shakespeare.

My favorite American cities are New York and Chicago.

I hate onions. I mean, I really hate them and I can't understand why on earth anyone eats them.

I can't stand it when people pretend to like bad art just to be nice. If it's bad and the artist is talentless you look like a bufoon if you say you think otherwise.

I am not, and will never become, a vegetarian.

I think the NRA is kooky, but I have no problem with firearms.

I hate sharing the road with SUVs. I can't see around, over, or through them.

I like loud music and my wife and I constantly struggle over control of the car stereo volume.

Homicide: Life on the Street is the best TV show ever.

I generally do not like TV.

I prefer beer and (red) wine to hard alcohol. I can't tell you what is in any mixed drink.

Contrary to most Americans, I would rather visit Latin America or the Middle East than Europe. The people - especially Arabs and Kurds - are more pleasant to be around.

I am morbidly fascinated by totalitarian regimes.

I want to visit North Korea. My wife wants to visit North Korea even more badly than I do.

I never intend to visit Cancun unless somebody else pays my way.

I have been to every state in the West except New Mexico. New Mexico has not been skipped for any particular reason.

I have never visited a single southern state, again for no particular reason.

My favorite country to visit is Lebanon. My second favorite country is Chile.

I speak Spanish badly.

I can kinda sorta slightly read French, but I have no idea how to pronounce it and I don't understand it when it is spoken.

I can say some things in Arabic, and I can understand some spoken Arabic, but I cannot construct sentences from scratch.

I like goth music, but I was never even close to being a "goth" when I was young.

My favorite musician is Lisa Gerrard. She has no peer.

If your computer is broken and anyone can fix it, I can fix it.

I can fall asleep instantly except one night every couple of months when I can't sleep at all.

It takes me 45 minutes to wake up in the morning. Waking up is a process, not an event.

I love road trips, but I don't think I can ever top my spontaneous road trip to Iraq with Sean. So now it's all downhill from here.

I can play the piano.

When I was 17 years old I faced a decision: I will become a writer or I will become a musician. You know which one I chose.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 27, 2006 01:38 AM
Comments

Wow, MUCH better than the filler; thanks a bunch.
I wish I could play piano; my 3 older kids are all in lessons, but the middle one isn't so happy.

You can be a "small-l" libertarian, not even join the (anti-org) Party nor vote for them!
(But your lack of economics interest/ study/ care is telling. ) In the next 5-15 years, the Islamofascists will probably take over the drug trade, and the WoT will merge with the ever-losing War of violence against those who want to take drugs peacefully. (Drug users will increase in number, globally, as globalization works to increase wealth.)

When you decided to become a writer, what did you do?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Libertay Dad at June 27, 2006 03:56 AM

We have more stuff in common than I would've thought.

There's also a video game called "Blade Runner" and it's based on the story of the movie.
I got tired of video games several years ago, but that one is not your typical game, it's a classic.

What exactly do you mean by "republican in name only?"

Thanks for letting us know you better.

Posted by: Paranoid_Android at June 27, 2006 03:59 AM

Did your brother go to Antarctica as a tourist or a worker? If the latter, did he overwinter?

I hope you get there.

Posted by: greenmamba at June 27, 2006 05:58 AM

I've been to New Mexico...

Fascinating list. Reminds me of all the great conversations we had back in 1994. I would love to do that again one of these days.

Posted by: Michael A. Burstein at June 27, 2006 06:23 AM

I have contempt for stupid people.

I hope you actually mean ignorant people. Stupid people are born that way, having contempt for stupid people is like having contempt for short people or people with blond hair. I'm sure you don't have contempt for the mentally handicapped, do you? Ignorant people on the other hand are those who choose to be stupid, which is quite different.

If you like Homicide I hope you've checked out The Wire. It's also set in Baltimore and also produced by David Simon, the guy who produced Homicide. I would argue The Wire may be even better than Homicide, admittedly a high bar.

Posted by: vanya at June 27, 2006 07:02 AM

Hi,
Completely off subject, but has anyone ever noticed how Goofy and Pluto are both dogs? Goofy can speak while Pluto can't! I think there was even an episode where Goofy was playing fetch with Pluto. How can dogs be so different? There is really something messed up about Disney cartoons!

I think it was the marijuana that got me going!

Posted by: Ali at June 27, 2006 07:10 AM

MT, I was in Seoul for 3 weeks last summer and there is a resort mountain in North Korea that allows foreigners to visit and hike, stay at the one hotel there and go to the hot springs. All very controlled and one day they might decide on "no Americans" but the next it's OK. You should go and give it a try, if only for the food.

Nice work these months. Keep it up, please. If I were not a graduate student I would use that Paypal link.

Posted by: rob collins at June 27, 2006 08:29 AM

I would like to be a libertarian, but too many of them are crazy and the party itself is an even bigger joke than our two major parties.

All too true.

I think the NRA is kooky, but I have no problem with firearms.

I am not a member, but don't believe the hype.

I generally do not like TV.

TV Sucks.

I want to visit North Korea. My wife wants to visit North Korea even more badly than I do.

Why?

Posted by: JBB at June 27, 2006 08:36 AM

I knew much of this about you. The live sex act stuff was new.

Two items of contention:

You can top your roadtrip with Sean by taking a roadtrip on a public bus across Iran or Ethiopia. You can top it by taking a roadtrip from Suli to Baghdad with pesh merga.

"I generally do not like TV."

Oh, that's just plain lying, Michael J. Totten. You may not turn on that box, but the DVD player on your computer whirs daily with the no-commercial form of televised entertainment.

Okay, I guess you're right. You don't sit in front of the box for four hours watching re-runs of Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, The No Spin Zone, and infomercials. But you have watched most of the entertaining programs on TV: 24, Battlestar Gallactica, Alias, Homicide, Firefly, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if you added Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, Entourage, Six Feet Under, etc. to your viewing consumption.

Posted by: lebanon.profile at June 27, 2006 09:02 AM

MJT,
BladeRunner Director's cut, right? I remember going to see it with you and the gang in Eugene 14(!) years ago. How come I didn't know you play the piano? Do you play it well, or just play it.
Scott may have been to all of the continents, but you share your adventures with others, so I think thats better.
What, no mention of the Kitties?

Ali,
Not only does Goofy speak, he wears clothes, and lots of them. Most Disney characters only seem to wear a few articles. Pluto is naked. Donald Duck never wears pants, while Mickey doesn't wear a shirt (usually). Is there a meaning behind the dichotomy of Goofy, clothed and articulate (sort of) and Pluto naked and voiceless, both of the same species but separated by circumstance and privilege? Hmmmmm :)

Posted by: lindsey at June 27, 2006 09:15 AM

When I was 17 years old I faced a decision: I will become a writer or I will become a musician. You know which one I chose.

Well, let me selfishly say thanks for making the choice you did. No one else would be doing the journalism you are, and I would know a lot less about the things you've written on.

Posted by: TallDave at June 27, 2006 09:38 AM

Re: "My favorite country to visit is Lebanon. My second favorite country is Chile."

I travelled around Chile for about five months in the early 1970's. Loved the place - it's the only Latin American country I would want to live in (although I can't comment on Argentina).

Posted by: John B at June 27, 2006 10:21 AM

Ok, all of this totally supports my theory that people raised in Oregon, 30 years old give or take a few, share an erie number of similarities. Kinda neat, really. Thx for sharing.

Posted by: Kristina at June 27, 2006 10:23 AM

Did your brother go to Antarctica as a tourist or a worker?

Tourist.

Vanya: I hope you actually mean ignorant people. Stupid people are born that way, having contempt for stupid people is like having contempt for short people or people with blond hair.

Yes. I meant ignorant people, and more specifically the willfully and generally ignorant.

Why [do you want to visit North Korea]?

Because I am morbidly fascinated with totalitarian regimes. And NK would be cool to write about.

Oh, that's just plain lying, Michael J. Totten. You may not turn on that box, but the DVD player on your computer whirs daily with the no-commercial form of televised entertainment.

I'm a sucker for boxed sets of the 24, Battlestar Galactica, and The Sopranos. But I never, ever, turn on the TV just to watch whatever happens to be on.

BladeRunner Director's cut, right?

That's the only cut worth watching. The Hollywood cut has a stupid ending that destroys the whole point of the movie.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 27, 2006 11:59 AM

Hi -

You realize, of course, that the reason you've never been to New Mexico is that you won't want to leave afterwards. :-)

It's where my wife and I want to retire to after living la dolce vita in Germany for the last 20 years or so. Save the visit for the time you want to see some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. Deserts, mountains, gypsum dunes, bat-filled caves and signs warning of "Falling Rockets, Next 50 Miles."

And where else do you need to know the meaning of the question "green or red" when you are ordering breakfast, lunch and dinner? And where the wine is made from grapes the size of plums...

Sorry if I sound like a local Chamber of Commerce promoter, but it's such a nice place for you not to have visited there... :-)

John

Posted by: John F. Opie at June 27, 2006 12:21 PM

"I am morbidly fascinated by totalitarian regimes."

Have you seen "Emperor and the Assasin" (plenty of Gong Li as a bonus) or the miniseries "Shaka Zulu"? Both look at the dictators themselves as typical human beings deformed by and then acting in abnormal circumstances. "Emperor" is a particularly rich story, because it shows the dilemma the dictator faces and the choices he makes. It also shows the moral dilemma faced by the assasin, who had previously sworn off all killing. Worth the time to watch.

Posted by: Jim at June 27, 2006 12:21 PM

Funny, I like the studio cut much better than the directors cut.

I've seen three cuts, the American release, the director's cut and the uncut version.

The uncut version was slow paced and completely straightforward. The studio cut was elegantly minimal, but it takes some intelligence to follow (just the way I like it). The director's cut was so heavy handed that it was ruined in my opinion.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 27, 2006 02:21 PM

... I'm talking about "Blade Runner", of course.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 27, 2006 02:22 PM

And I disagree with Michael about the ending, 20 seconds of voice over can't ruin a movie. Just ignore it.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 27, 2006 02:24 PM

Sort of like the endings of "Brazil"

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 27, 2006 02:25 PM

Josh,

It's not the voice-over per se that ruins the studio cut. It's the content of the voice-over.

Blade Runner is about a revolt against God because he cursed us with mortality. Therefore Rachel cannot be allowed to extend her life span at the end.

"It's too bad she won't live. But then again, who does?" is the correct last line for that story. It's not a happy ending, but it's the one that is consistent with the theme of the story as a whole.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 27, 2006 02:34 PM

I'm going to plug HBO's The Wire once again because it deserves it - it gets no critical press (or ratings) compared with The Sopranos or Deadwood yet it is just as good, and anyone who loves Homicide should love The Wire (and yeah, I'm a new convert to the genius of this show, and new converts are always the most obnoxious). Seasons 1 & 2 are out on DVD.

Posted by: vanya at June 27, 2006 02:38 PM

I have just one comment: TMI ;-)

Posted by: DagneyT at June 27, 2006 02:39 PM

Blade Runner is about a revolt against God because he cursed us with mortality.

Not the God of the Bible. According to the Bible, God made men immortal. When Man sinned, Creation fell and death crept into the world. In essence, we cursed ourselves.

Blade Runner, in my top five. Chile is my fave too.

Posted by: Carlos at June 27, 2006 04:22 PM

Lebanon.profile "You can top your roadtrip with Sean by taking a roadtrip on a public bus across Iran or Ethiopia. You can top it by taking a roadtrip from Suli to Baghdad with pesh merga."

Yeah, but I'm still gunna be riding shotgun. ;)

Posted by: sean at June 27, 2006 04:30 PM

Go thru the South sometime - you will enjoy it. Myself, I'm from Central Texas. Not quite "the South" - it's just Texas, but Southerners are pretty damn good people, really. Enjoyed the read and all your posts. Keep up the great work!

Jason
Austin, Texas

Posted by: Jason H. at June 27, 2006 06:28 PM

> I am not, and will never become, a vegetarian.

In other words, you didn't fight yourself to the top of the foodchain to become a vegetarian...

Vilmos

Posted by: Vilmos Soti at June 27, 2006 07:19 PM

Hello Michael,
Some things you would know had you ever been to the South.
1. A live sex show is pornography.
2. Habanero pepper is not a food, it is an insecticide, smash some up and put the juice on a bug, it dies.
3. Didn't you say something about contempt for stupid people and then, I almost always vote Democrat?
4. You favorite American cities are New York and Chicago, that's cause you haven't been to Miami or Dallas.
5. You don't eat onions, you savor them, as in onions on a hamburger steak.
6. On the subject of SUV's, down here in Texas you don't have to be bothered with 'em the speed limits 80 miles an hour and flat ground, just get on down the road ahead of 'em. Course you need a pick up truck.
7. Homicide: Life on the Street, well down here we just think some people need killin.
8. Contrary to most Americans, I would rather visit Latin America or the Middle East than Europe. Well down here in South Texas some of us think we have the border patrol on the wrong borders.
9. In the South we know the NRA is kooky, but we like it anyway, hell any organization who would elect a women with a gun as president is "progressive".
10. New Mexico is really part of Texas.
:)

Posted by: Jimmy K. at June 27, 2006 07:50 PM

As always, your ability and willingness to be forthright and candid continues to make your blog required reading.

And I must agree with a previous post; the live sex show is porn. (Not judging you - I'm just sayin'...)

Let us know when you're interested in making it to Memphis. It's a culture shock of its own...

Posted by: Joe at June 27, 2006 08:08 PM

Blade Runner is about a revolt against God because he cursed us with mortality. Therefore Rachel cannot be allowed to extend her life span at the end.

Well it's about mortality. Tyrell is the owner of a slave empire built on the genetic engineering of slaves who die too young and innocent to be capable of rebellion. He's a Stalin, a Hitler - to see such a character as God requires a perversely religious mindset.

I knew that Rachel living didn't fit the story, and chose to ignore the content of the voice over, though I see the movie differently.

So I see it as being about human beings genetically engineering slaves with short lives so that they die as innocent children rather than mature into adults that might rebel.

It's about the exploitation of masses of humanity. It's about limitless exploitation, slavery, slaughter. It's about the fact that the mechanisms of justice are perfectly suited to enslave people and to dehumanize people like Becker who have to enforce injustice.

And the beauty of it is in the love of life that those doomed children in adult bodies had.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 27, 2006 08:09 PM

...Oh and I guess the visual design and the music by Vangelis also had something to do with that beauty.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 27, 2006 08:15 PM

Well it's about mortality.

...we agree on that much.

Tyrell is the owner of a slave empire built on the genetic engineering of slaves who die too young and innocent to be capable of rebellion.

This, too...

He's a Stalin, a Hitler - to see such a character as God requires a perversely religious mindset.

Tyrell created life, changed it, making something new, to his specifications- the parallels with the story of creation could not be more clear- and then his creations rebelled against him.

How can you not see the parallels?

Posted by: rosignol at June 27, 2006 10:12 PM

I guess I'm not religious, so I don't think in those terms. Life was not created, ever.

And life doesn't start for an individual either - eggs are like a plant budding, life hasn't started it's just continued.

But religious people think with strange categories, I guess.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 27, 2006 10:15 PM

When people get to the point of designing life to their specifications, they won't be copying God anymore than they'll be copying Rumpelstiltskin, Jack Sprat, Peter Pan or the Easter Bunny.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 27, 2006 10:20 PM

rosignol, you and Michael have, I suppose exemplified that there's a difference in the thought processes of someone raised with religion and someone like me who was raised without it.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 27, 2006 10:28 PM

Josh,

My thought processes are not religious. I am aware, however, that Blade Runner is shot through with religious references and imagery. Watch it again, and look for it. You will see it whether you were raised religious or not.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 27, 2006 10:56 PM

Josh, I've been an atheist for about two decades now. The difference, IMO, is that I am aware of how thoroughly religious themes, concepts, and imagery pervade western culture and society, so I went to some effort to educate myself about it- not because I believe in god, but because I want to be able to understand and relate to people who do.

All you need is some familiarity with the source materials, and you'll recognize the themes and ideas. It's kind of like marxism- you don't have to agree with it to understand the concepts being expressed.

Posted by: rosignol at June 27, 2006 11:07 PM

Blade Runner -- great movie that made me then watch every horrible movie that Rutger Hauer was in after that. Ladyhawk was kind of cute, more Vangelis music that makes you laugh now. Not like the cool stuff from BR.

Glad you list Chicago as a favorite city, I grew up there and lived near the lake for twelve years of my adult life. I had to move away and never realized how spoiled I was until I was away.

Posted by: mesablue at June 27, 2006 11:15 PM

First, I'd like to second Vanya's endorsement of The Wire. In particular, the first two seasons (#3 was so-so by their standards but still very good) are stunning. No TV show has ever gotten closer to producing a novel's worth of story-telling through a season's story arc. Homicide was David Simon's proto-type. The Wire is the full vision. Mesmerizing.

As to Blade Runner (top five for me as well), the religious iconography and parallels are there but aren't overwhelming allowing the film more open to interpretation. Scott presented a lush and fascinating future, seeded it with all manner of images both subtle and gross and let the viewer find what they wanted in it. It's why it endures. Newer SF films may have glossier visuals, but that movie still looks fresh to the eyes today. BTW, there is supposed to be a re-release of the movie in a few months and I think I recall seeing Scott quoted as saying that this newest version was to be his final say on the film. Anyone know anything more of this?

Posted by: Jogen Shukla at June 27, 2006 11:42 PM
I would like to be a libertarian, but too many of them are crazy and the party itself is an even bigger joke than our two major parties.
I used to think the same way. Now I more frequently wonder if the "two major parties" deserve to be distinguished from the Libertarian party on the craziness metric.

Posted by: lewy14 at June 28, 2006 01:57 AM

I am just shocked that someone could say such a thing about onions :(

Posted by: maor at June 28, 2006 03:15 AM

Michael,

Have you ever read the book that Blade Runner was inspired by (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Phillip K. Dick)?

Whe it was published in 1968 it was way ahead of it's time.

What I find amazing is that I read it after having seen the movie for the first time, and I found much more in the book than I did in the movie.

I guess that you can attribute that to a very healthy and vivid imagination.

Dream on, as dreams do die first.

Write on, so that the rest of us can experience the world through your eyes.

Thank you,

Randy

Posted by: Randy ssn724 at June 28, 2006 03:22 AM

I lived with two girlfriends before I got married.

At the same time??

Posted by: Brian Swisher at June 28, 2006 06:01 AM

wow dude, we have things in common. Except for the US specifics things.

Posted by: Wissam at June 28, 2006 06:25 AM

Jimmy,

I can understand someone preferring to live in Dallas over New York or Chicago, but Dallas can't be anyone's "favorite American city" because it's not a city. It's a gigantic suburb with some skyscrapers in the middle. I've been to Dallas on business many times - nice place to live but you wouldn't want to visit there. Miami is fantastic, but it is easily the least "American" city in the US, South Beach feels like Europe and the rest of the city feels like South America. I think most Americans would feel more at home in Vancouver or Toronto than in Miami.

Posted by: vanya at June 28, 2006 06:49 AM

I love raw onions, especially sweet-spicy red ones. I don't know how you can like spicy food w/o liking onions; though Cantonese-style Hunan usually tries to replace dry spice with wet onions (yechh).

"I have contempt for stupid people." I understood that to mean willfully ignorant, and of course such contempt-filled folk usually vote elitists-know-best Democrat. It's perhaps your worst trait. Half the people are below average in IQ, and that means they will make stupid decisions.

One way to look at religion is as an attempt to shape the behavior of such stupid people to avoid self-destructive acts, or those bad for civilization, like irresponsible promiscuity, or selfish stealing, or gratuitous cursing.

Many of these people will "do the right thing" more often because God tells them not to sin, rather than because they've reasoned themselves out of acting on their emotional desires.

(Being a pompous blowhard is perhaps one of my own worst traits, but I do try to be: "nicer to, people inferior to you", whether it's National Brotherhood Week or not.)

Posted by: Tom Grey - Libertay Dad at June 28, 2006 07:10 AM

"Waking up is a process.." I resemble that remark....and I married someone who is out of bed and in the shower in less than two minutes. Ouch.

"I generally don't like TV"... Hmph. Try "I generally don't watch TV". The last time I sat down to watch ANYTHING (speaking of commercial TV including anything on cable, PBS, etc., not including peripheral association, meaning randomly being in a room with the TV on) other than the news, was 2003. Literally. Last time I sat down to watch a movie was two months ago when I watched "His Girl Friday", a Cary Grant movie. And only part of that because the DVD was defective. But that has nothing to do with your writing.

And finally, speaking of your writing. I like it. Generally. Don't always agree, but I always think about it for more than two seconds. (Short Attention Span Syndrome...ooooh. shiny!)

Posted by: jocrazy0 at June 28, 2006 07:52 AM

Me: I lived with two girlfriends before I got married.

Brian Swisher: At the same time??

No way. First one from 1990 to 1992, second one from 1995 to 1997.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 28, 2006 10:05 AM

do you have anything to say about what's been going on between Israel and Hamas over the past few days?? Strange that a Middle East blog hasn't even aknowledged the current events that are unfolding.

Posted by: hill at June 28, 2006 10:07 AM

I could have guessed as much. Lots of similarity and that may be why we are skipping about in this same tiny part of blogdom.

Works in progress. Your fondness for hot spices and hot weather may have something to do with your short temper. We have to be careful about temper flare ups. It can be awkward if we get irked over a misconception.

The older I get, the more reserved I become about letting irritation show, much less openly expressing it.

That part about all downhill from here nonsense. You never know what is around the corner. I have travelled and lived in many places. Now I rely on you to give me more first hand exchanges with people you meet in places I will never visit.

My anchor is now set on Vancouver Island British Columbia. You are a long way from setting your anchor. Thanks for everything so far. No need to quit now. TG

Posted by: TonyGuitar at June 28, 2006 10:22 AM

"I have contempt for stupid people."

You should not feel contempt for stupid people. You should feel sorry for them, as it is not their fault. You should cultivate relationships with them based on your superior sense of pathos, understanding, and general knowledge about the world. Then, as a rising political star, you can get them to vote for you. Then you can tell them what to do all the time - your mission will be complete.

Posted by: Caveman at June 28, 2006 10:30 AM

My wife/exwife worships Lisa Gerrard.

Posted by: Todd Grimson at June 28, 2006 10:54 AM

>>>You should not feel contempt for stupid people. You should feel sorry for them, as it is not their fault.

I'm smarter now than when I was young, yet I don't think of myself nearly as smart as I did when I was young. I guess stupid people still bother me, but with a bit more humility now.

Posted by: Carlos at June 28, 2006 01:27 PM

Hi Michael,

Thanks for posting this portrait of yourself. I read regularly, but don't post as much nowadays (verking haarder at an auto co.) these days. Just dropping a line to say that reading your blog and its commenteriat is one my daily pleasures. Oh, and when I use 1/8 of a Habenero in 6qts of chili, I use a mask and gloves while dicing it under running water with a fan running. And I still tear up.

Posted by: jdwill at June 28, 2006 02:51 PM

Favorite movie: Blade Runner
Amon Düül II: favorite band which happens to be a krautrock band of the 70's, and except for them I have never been into that genre.
Stupid People: One of my favorite people is stupid. Great guy, kind hearted and funny. Not his fault, an accident of birth,you might as well have contempt for people of a different skin color.
Now, if they are just idiots by their own doing, that is a whole nutter kettle of fish.

Posted by: Esbiem at June 28, 2006 02:53 PM

New Mexico is an amazing state. You gotta get down there. Santa Fe is especially stunning; the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the Gila wilderness; the pueblos. The colors are brilliant. And the food is fantastic!

Some friends & I got offered a group deal on a live sex show in Amsterdam, but we declined.

Willfully ignorant people drive me nuts. Once they've declared themselves, I usually just ignore them.

Posted by: BeckyJ at June 28, 2006 05:41 PM

"I have contempt for stupid people."

Michael Totten, who do you consider stupid people?

Tse.

Posted by: tsedek at June 28, 2006 07:04 PM

Michael - Thanks for posting this. I find your writing enjoyable and enlightening. Knowing more about you makes it feel more like a discussion with a friend.

I could comment on various of the 51 but I'll take two:

-"I would like to be a libertarian, but too many of them are crazy and the party itself is an even bigger joke than our two major parties." - You can be a libertarian while having nothing to do with the party or even the name libertarian. I am a big supporter of personal liberty, both social and economic. Both major parties seem to have a problem with some pieces of both. I left the Libertarian party because I was profoundly uninterested in useless political debate and I was tired of not accomplishing anything. I am cautiously optimistic that NH can be moved further in the direction of greater personal liberty. See: http://nhliberty.org/ and http://www.freestateproject.org/

-If there hadn't been a big push for gun control the NRA would not have had to get involved in politics. Prior to '86 the NRA was only involved in training and competitions. I am a NRA Life member which lets me vote and harass them when they do stupid things.

Posted by: Tony Lekas at June 28, 2006 07:21 PM

In Canada there is a government imposed amnesty period for the turning in of all long and hand guns that were not properly registered.

I assume that is to reduce possible trauma of nervous felons so that they can rob people with greater asurance that no one will have any surprise armed defence.

The government has no idea of how to reduce numbers of weapons among criminals and makes no effort to collect them.

All felons encountered by police should be frisked at the middle back wasteband. That action alone would harvest handguns by the shopping cart-full.

Please don*t cry me a river about human rights. TG

Posted by: TonyGuitar at June 29, 2006 06:33 AM

"I find your writing enjoyable and enlightening."

Okay. But you don't have to write a comment, because he won't answer if you ask a question (see above, my question).

So far less interesting that way :)

Tse.

Posted by: T at June 29, 2006 10:28 AM

I am registered to vote in the US as a Libertarian since March or April. I'm not crazy. Some of the Party meetings and activities are whacky. I went to a rally where the city council members from the LP (like 2 or 3 old guys) dressed up like Founding Fathers on a town green protesting the Patriot Act and imminent domain (a couple of municipalities in CT took people's homes from them for "Development" purposes recently). IF that's crazy and Howard Dean isn't, well, the world's topsyturvy!

:)

Nouri

Posted by: Nouri at June 29, 2006 11:18 AM

"I would like to be a libertarian, but too many of them are crazy..."

Please don't let the crazies keep you from professing your own beliefs. If the libertarian philosphy is a sound one (which it is), then it's even more important that people like you come forward and say so to offset the crazies who give it a bad name.

Posted by: Steve Buckstein at June 29, 2006 12:36 PM

This comment thread has been thoroughly enjoyable.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 29, 2006 08:31 PM

Agree with you completely on Homicide, definitely the best TV show ever.

Posted by: Jackson at June 30, 2006 06:02 PM

Michael, I hate onions too. How do you travel in the Middle East and avoid them? Aren't onions in just about everything?

Posted by: Bemac at July 1, 2006 09:46 AM

Just for reference, it is entirely possible to love grilled onions and dislike raw ones. Just as ti is possible to dislike hot, spicy food while still believing that garlic is impossible to have too much of in a dish.
How delightful that our tastes differ -- otherwise there would be shortages of the things that we all liked. Jack Sprat and wife live!

Posted by: wj at July 1, 2006 11:03 AM

I used to work in a record shop here in Melbourne, we sold imports, it was a go to shop for the new stuff, and i loved working there. i remember one hot day end of year, everyone in t-shirts, a pair of imperious, china doll type women in heavy finery turned up at the counter. "Do you have the NME" asked the older one in a fabulously rich voice. They scanned the charts furiously, and were delighted to read an entry in the UK indy charts "There you are darling" spoke the elder again, pointing to a Dead Can Dance album entry - I realised it was Lisa Gerrard and her mum.

It became an annual ritual near Christmas for the Gerrards to come and scan the charts. I've seen here her and there in various line-ups - one of the few consistentently jaw-dropping live artists I have seen.

Cancun - stooped through on the way to Cuba for approximately 9 soul destroying hours. Your instincts are spot on Michael. I've never forgotten it, and I wish I could.

Sleep - me too. Ain't that odd? I don't begrudge that whack night though, I figure it's a tax for all the great ones.

Cheers

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