Monday, November 19, 2007

This is awesome!

Having never gone to a Wesleyan football game, I don't know what they came up with for the halftime shows. But I bet it can't even hold a candle to this homage to classic video games.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Etymology is fun

I learned where the term "indenture" (as in indentured servant) comes from. Apparently in medieval times, after the fall of classical feudalism, but before the rise of the nation state with a standing army, when a king had to raise an army for every campaign, he would contract with each lord to get the services of the lord and his assorted underling soldiers. When they would write up the contract, they would then cut it in half in a wavy pattern (or "indented"), so when they were put together people knew they had the both halves of the same contract. The lord would then be "indentured" to the king for the length of the campaign (or contract life).

I learned this from the book I'm currently reading about the battle of Agincourt. Other funny things about the preparations for the campaign, Henry brought two almoners with him to France. Those were the people in charge of managing his alms giving. And he also brought 18 minstrels, because no self-respecting medieval monarch or aristocrat would ever go anywhere without his band of minstrels.

I don't care for the Southwest

My cousin got married this weekend in Phoenix, and we went out there for the wedding. It was very nice. The bride looked pretty in her dress. It was funny that the only people not bowing their heads in prayer or reciting the Lord's prayer were the Jews (my cousin has Jewish relatives on his dad's side also, so we weren't the only Jews there). And we got to sit with people who were actually interesting at the reception, so we could have a conversation over dinner that wasn't awkward and wierd.

But I hadn't been out to Arizona since I was 10 (my relatives usually come east for things instead of us going west), and there were some things that I had forgotten about the Southwest, or didn't notice when last I was there, and I found them disconcerting:
A) It was an outdoor ceremony at which I was concerned that I was going to get sunburned because I didn't bring any sunscreen. Why did I not bring sunscreen? Because it's November. Veterans' Day isn't the holiday where you should be worried about getting too much sun.
B) Arizona is a desert. If people are going to live in the desert, they should embrace it. That means there should not be a giant waterfall at the entrance to every subdivision. There also do not need to be huge water traps and grass so green as to make the Irish jealous on every golf course. There should be desert landscaping that conserves water.
C) While I understand that there are no natural boudaries to the urban sprawl out there, it is unnecessary to make things so far apart. There will be a subdivision, and then miles of desert, and then another random subdivision just randomly plunked down in the middle of nowhere. If things are built nominally closer together, it makes them more convenient and requires less driving (since it's not like anything there is built to have a pedestrian area).

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Another day of civic responsibility

Today was the general election in Baltimore. I had completely forgotten about it until my dad asked me at dinner if I had voted yet. So I went out and performed my civic responsibility. The people at the polling station were very excited to have someone come in, since it was empty when I got there. No one really remembered about it, since there was no campaigning or anything. Accordign to the woman who checked me in, someone else came in who had already fixed himself a highball for the evening when his son asked him if he had voted. On the up side, though, I learned the name of the Republican candidate for mayor so I could then not vote for him. Fun.