Saturday, July 23, 2005

The clothes make the man

So the athletes of Northwestern catch hell for wearing flip-flops to the White House. I wonder what the nattering classes will say when I show up at the White House wearing what I just decided I will wear if I ever show up at the George W. Bush White House: Gram Parsons' pot leaf Nudie suit.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Silver screen

In August I'll be in Evanston, Ill. for a writing workshop put on by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, and just now I was scanning the listings at the Music Box, my favorite art-house cinema in Chicago, to see if anything good's playing that weekend. I took wry satisfaction in noting that the midnight show is slated to be Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. There is indeed no stopping us.
True tales of true crime

Last winter I followed with great interest the story of Joseph Ulrey, the 26-year-old Madison television reporter who was arrested for brandishing a handgun at a Beloit radio station. It seems he has lately been cleared of all charges by virtue of his troubled mental state.

Sad news, but let's hope he's on the road to recovery. Hey Joe: lay off the weed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Good word

"I have occasion to remark, at various periods of my life, that the deaths of those whom we love, and indeed the contemplation of death generally, is (caeteris paribus) more affecting in summer than in any other season of the year."

--Thomas De Quincey

Nothing cramps a blog's style quite like the blogger's no longer having vast amounts of unstructured time. I'm so sorry, readers. I'm not sure what's happening with Back With Interest.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Life in the fast lane

Apropos of my trip to Chicago last Wednesday, I was struck by this New York Times Magazine article. In it, Christopher Caldwell frets about the privacy implications of the wireless devices that let motorists breeze through toll gates, while cash-paying saps idle in lines. I was one of those saps on Wednesday, although I didn't have to wait. No, I was a sap because earlier this year, the Illinois authorities doubled the cash tolls on the Northwest Tollway, which runs between Madison and Chicago, but left the tolls unchanged for motorists equipped with wireless I-PASS devices. I knew about this before I left, but the cash lanes on the Northwest Tollway have long been my preferred way of disposing of pennies, and I had built up quite a collection. So I paid cash.

I suppose I will eventually buy an I-PASS transmitter, though I'm with Caldwell: they're creepy. At the moment there seems little harm in the State of Illinois tracking my movements, but nevertheless. Stuff like this is why God made libertarian paranoia.

The solution is obvious: the toll authority should give motorists the option of paying cash and using the devices anonymously. Maybe it does already, but the option doesn't leap off the web site. Should I make a stink about this, or would I just look like someone with something to hide?