Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What the hell do I know about Peru?

Okay, so I’m starting to get a little nervous about this trip. Nervous maybe isn’t quite the right word. Jarred by it’s reality and immanence is perhaps more accurate. When I started planning it around a year ago, it was a year away. Now it’s just days, and now I’m thinking-


It’s like I decided to go, did all necessary footwork, and now I’m getting ready to go. What kind of shit is that? It makes me wonder what else I might do under the same principle. Maybe this time next year I’ll be the king of the world!

But first I’m going to Peru. August 3rd-17th. I’ll try to write in from the road from time to time. See you all when I get back!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Misadventures of the Electoral College

I don’t much care for the Electoral College.

While my dislike admittedly increased following the election of 2000, it’s a position I’ve always held. Outdated, undemocratic and all that.

It strikes me kind of funny when people defend it by talking in terms of the rights of small states being protected against the power of larger ones. I’ll concede that this made some sense in the days when Rhode Island might secede from the Union if they didn’t like how Virginia voted, but it’s not 1798 any more.

I also note with amusement that many people who had described the Electoral College as archaic on national TV just weeks before were sudden fans in the winter of ’00. “Well, those are the rules, he won fair and square,” is what their argument boiled down to. It’s very hard to imagine them being as sanguine if the situation had been reversed. Talk radio, Fox News, House Republicans and the rest would doubtless still be fulminating about President Gore’s illegitimacy and how the will of the people had been subverted.

And here’s the funny thing, the thing that nobody seems to remember: the situation almost was reversed in 2004. If just 59,347 people (1.05% out of 5.6 million total) had changed their votes in Ohio, John Kerry would have won the Electoral College 271 to 266 and would be president today. Even though he still would have been almost 3 million votes behind George W. Bush nationally.

While this would have been an act of national salvation as far as I’m concerned, that still wouldn’t make it right. We’ve had two serious malfunctions in a row, and might well be poised for a third. Even if this third would likely as not involve a narrow popular vote win for McCain invalidated by an large electoral college victory for Obama, which would tickle me as an end result, it wouldn’t be democratic. It’s time to banish the Electoral College to the scrap heap of history. Maybe it can snuggle up with the Articles of Confederation and the Poll Tax.

Banish it constitutionally, of course, which means it might take a decade or two to get the necessary 3/4 of states to approve the needed amendment. Long or short, the process still might be worth it. The last Electoral/Popular inversion resulted in lies leading to an unnecessary war here, a destroyed New Orleans there, here an act of treason against a CIA employee in harm’s way, there a suspension of habeas corpus (Ee-i, Ee-i, Oh!), but worse disasters are possible. In 1876, the maneuvering leading to the Electoral College invalidation of Samuel J. Tilden’s popular vote victory resulted in the premature end of post-Civil War Reconstruction in the South and 88 years of segregation and effective denial of full citizenship to a significant portion of the nation’s population.

Talk about undemocratic.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

June/July Writing News

Isn’t it funny how you can write something in one month, but if you put a dash before the name of that month and then insert the previous month’s name before the dash, it’s as if what you write covers both months? Magazines have been doing it for decades, so I figured it would work for me too. Now, with no further prologue, here is what I’ve been up to in my creative endeavors over the past two months:

Film- Echo’s Wonder, a short film for which I was a script consultant, production assistant and Best Boy, screened at the Victoria Theater on June 1st along with other films from the latest production round of the local independent film co-op Scary Cow. Gratifyingly, it won the audience award for best picture and best writing! You can see it here, we were team 12: http://www.scarycow.com/videos/round0005/round005.html . If you squint really hard in one of the bar scenes and you’re familiar with my shirts, you’ll also see me as an extra, seated at the bar. As you can imagine, playing that role was a real stretch for me. I’m participating in this current round of Scary Cow as well, and will be writing on at least one, and maybe two, projects. Stay tuned for further details...

Publication- Nothing new to report, but I have made a pact with myself: Barring serious illness, alien abduction, or prolonged periods out of the country (for which, see Blog news below), I will to submit something for publication to a different venue, print or online, every week for the rest of the year. I’ve got two submissions out the door so far in the first two weeks of July, so perhaps by the next update there will be something to report.

Novel- My agent assures me that several publishers are continuing to look at my novel, Out In The Neon Night, and that she’s on the lookout for new publishers to pitch it to as well. I’ll keep you posted.

Blog- I’m continuing to publish San Francisco Daze, a (nearly) daily reflection on life in San Francisco in prose and poetry form that I wrote in 2005, on my blog in monthly installments. Another thing I hope to do on the blog is report in from the road during a two-week trip to Peru that I’m taking in August. Did I say Peru? I did! It’s my first trip abroad since 2001 and my first ever to South America, and I look forward to sharing it. For that, and other bloggy topics ranging from the silly to the sublime, you can tune in at any of the following three locations: http://chris-west.blogspot.com/, http://chrisw-insf.livejournal.com/, http://www.myspace.com/chriswest_writerinsf

I’ll see you with more in August!