Last night we attended a lecture given by [Alice Waters](

CP=SAL&DN=110) at the university here intown.  While I agree with much of what Alice preaches, her speechitself left much to be desired.  Her presentation was ordinary at best,and the speech itself was simply recycled from a talk she gave two years agoto a different audience.  Perhaps the best parts of the lecture werethe tangential anecdotes that she sprinkled throughout her talk as sheoccasionally left the words written on the paper.

Today, Sarah and I tried to attend the UW women’s volleyball game againstTulane.  However, the “guards” would not let us into the UWField House because we each had a backpack.  If we lost the backpacks,they would let us in.  However, there is nowhere within blocks to stasha pair of backpacks, and since we came on our bicycles, we couldn’t juststash them in a vehicle.  So, to insure the “safety” ofothers, we took ourselves and our backpacks (full of horrendous weapons likebooks, bicycle pumps, flashlights, cell phones, and the like) to a niceterrace where we had a beer and fed popcorn to the birds. I’m really getting tired of all the restrictions on our lives in theinterest of our”safety.”  As William Langewiesche writes in the Oct. 2002issue of TheAtlantic Monthly, “The reason given publicly for this new arrangementwas ‘safety,’ a term so often used to mask other agendas in modern Americathat it caused an immediate, instinctive reaction of disbelief.” You would be hard pressed to find anyone who truly believes that all theserestrictions on our lives are for our “safety.”

Oh, don’t buy books from a bookstore or borrow them from a library if youdon’t want the government to know what you’re reading.  That wonderfulUSA Patriot act now allows the government to obtain a warrant from a secretcourt to compel bookstores and libraries to give up any information theyhave about your reading habits.  The best part:

[Unlike other search warrants, these warrants do not require the officer toshow that evidence of wrongdoing is likely to be found or that the target ofits investigation is involved in a crime.](

TMP&nl=top) Yes, that’s right.  The government needs to present noevidence to this secret court that you might be involved in a crime or thatthey are searching for evidence of the same.  The government can compelbookstores and libraries to give up your reading list just because theyfeel like it.  Make sure to thank your Senators and Representatives inCongress, along with President Bush, for giving the government unprecedentedpower to snoop into your life.  Of course, they will all claim thatthis is being done for your “safety.”

Forty-seven days after our telephone line was connected and no less thanfour phone calls later, the monolithic monopoly that is SBC (18th largest company in America with 193,000+ employeesand $45 billion in revenue and $7 billion in profit last year)finally managed to deliver a phone book to our house.  The job finallyfell to a scruffy looking fellow driving a well-used (and abused) Nissanpickup who casually tossed the phonebook almost onto our front steps, butthe job finally got done.  Nice to know that America’s largecorporations are only getting more efficient.

For the last three years, I had DirecTV and the NFL Sunday Ticket whichallowed me to see nearly every single Vikings game.  So, when we movedto Madison, I decided to take advantage of DirecTV’s inappropriately namedMover’s Advantage program.  The program supposedly provides for freeprofessional installation when you get to your new residence, providing thatyou agree to keep the service for one year following the installation. Well, after no less than ten phone calls with DirecTV, numerous half-truthsand lies on the part of their employees, and being billed for service that Iwasn’t receiving, I decided to close my account without ever having gottenservice installed at our residence in Madison.  Well, now that I’veleft the fold of the company’s clients, they can’t do enough to make surethat I stay away.  So far, they’ve sent me letters (dated after Iclosed my account) to inform me thatthey’ve scheduled my installation (uh, huh), called me no less than twice topester me about why I left the company (“The reason I dropped yourservice is that you don’t know the reason I dropped your service,” which is aparadox that those working the phones will never figure out), and generallyhave gone out of their way to reinforce my opinion that the company isstaffed by those who just weren’t incompetent enough to work in the bankingand telecommunications monopolies of our day.

The next time that a telemarketer calls me, I’m going to say, “Thiscall is being recorded.  If you do not agree with this policy, pleasehang up now.”  I’m interested to see how many telemarketers presson with their spiels after that.