Category Archives: Uncategorized

Liberia Update

Check out this Spiegel Online article about the current state of Liberia and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s first year in office.  She’s the first elected female head of state in Africa, and you can see a cult of personality developing around her reminiscent of any number of male dictators who were extremely popular before their rotten cores showed, at which point they were thoroughly entrenched.  If she were a man I’d be highly cynical right now, giving her administration a few years before it falls into the same pattern as so many others.  But maybe she’ll be different.

Charles Taylor remains in the Hague.  His trial begins in April.  Meanwhile his son, former head of the atrocious Anti-Terrorism Unit during the war, is under arrest here in the U.S.  Chuckie is an American citizen and is the first person to be arrested under a 1994 law that makes it illegal to commit torture abroad.  A conviction there would not only be justice for Chuckie, but would provide some legal traction against the weak-minded scoundrels who refuse to close the door on torture as an instrument of U.S. policy.

Diamonds in the Rough

Some bad news about the Bimbo Box — on the way to Michigan last week, the timing belt crapped out as we were pulling into our hotel.  So the next day found me spending seven hours getting to the garage and dealing with updates and waiting while they fixed it.  Things have been smooth since, thankfully.

The Pepboys where the BB was getting fixed was in the middle of a parking lot wasteland in Youngstown, Ohio.  There was a mall nearby, and behind and to the left and right of the mall were more strip malls and Home Depots and Kmarts and other stores, all with their own huge parking lots.   (Ooo, it just occured to me — here’s a Google Maps link with satellite view.)  It was as depressing an expanse of retail drear as I could imagine, and I walked around and through it in the drizzling rain because I had already read the book and the magazine I had brought and I had nothing better to do.

And then, rounding the corner by the Hobby Lobby, I saw them up ahead: on my right, a Borders.  On my left, a Chipotle.  I was saved.  It’s a shame that the retail sprawl exhibits such awful urban planning, but we live in a world where you can find awesome burritos and a store with lots of books and comfy chairs to read them in in freakin’ Youngstown, Ohio.  You have to admit, that’s pretty cool.

GRRM on HBO

Via cdj in his new blog, I learn that George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Ice series is making its way to HBO.

This is superb news because it means that I no longer feel obligated to actually read the books. I started the first book once and put it down for too long, so that when I picked it up again I had lost all the plot threads, yada yada. I’ve always meant to burn through them, not doubting their quality on the basis of so many positive reviews from friends. But now — now, as people will, when the series airs, begin the process of discussing book vs. TV versions, society at large will need That Guy Who Saw the Series But Never Read the Books. And I will be that guy.

I accept, nay, embrace this responsibility.

A New Home

Welcome to Polytropos’ new digs, over at wordpress.com. Why? Short version: my hosting provider started crapping out big time, and in considering what to do I realized that I am not, at this point in my life, the guy who likes to have his own server space to play with and configure, but rather the guy who wants it to be easy. So rather than migrate to another full-service hosting provider, I’m using wordpress.com and Gmail, though I will be keeping the domain name, so in hopefully not too much time the old url will point faithfully to this blog, and the old email address will work just fine.

So don’t go changing your bookmarks just yet, but in the meantime, you can use this url for the blog and use nbruinooge at gmail dot com to get a hold of me if the usual email bounces. You will need to update the rss feed, though.

Comments should be working again.

Don’t worry, the header image is going to be replaced by something appropriately Polytropian — thanks in advance to Ed!

Older pages are going to be a sea of broken links and unformatted Textile formatting. I’ll try to fix the posts that still get some intermittent traffic.

Oh, and in the spirit of wanting things to be easy, I should confess that I have iPhone lust and also very badly want a Macbook Pro. I am prepared to publically apologize for my years of PC advocacy if the Mac fairy will bring me these things.

The Bimbo Box

“The bimbo box” — Hiro Protagonist’s derisive term for the family minivan in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. I can remember reading that book for the first time, in 1993, and savoring that feeling of dissing those minivan drivers, “[poking] along, random, indecisive, looking at each passing franchise’s driveway like they don’t know if it’s a promise or a threat.” If someone had asked I might have sworn never to own a minivan even before the term “bimbo box” came along; with the added weight of that appellation it would have been a no-brainer.

Stephenson didn’t predict the SUV, though. And by comparison, the minivan doesn’t look quite so bad. It may be staid and a little suburban, sure, but at least it’s not superfluously all-terrain and prone to flippage. SUV drivers may actually think that they look cool, whereas the minivan drivers labor under no such illusion. Their choice is utilitarian, and, as such, is considerably less egregious, as far as gas-guzzling behemoths go.

My point is that, in the greater scheme of things, minivans aren’t that bad any more, right? Right?

Do you see where this is going?

Yes, it’s true, the new Polytroposmobile is a 2000 Toyota Sienna. Seats seven. Teal, or Caribbean Green or something. It was three weeks of loading and unloading with two kids, and contemplating a drive to Michigan with the same (to say nothing of the dimensions of the Sit ‘n’ Stand stroller), that made the choice an obvious one. Sometimes there’s just that deal that comes on down Craigslist and you’d be stupid not to take it, y’know?

At some point in the past this decision might have still been a little traumatic for me, but three years of diapers ‘n’ Dora have long since stripped all the hipness from my system. I am close to achieving a Zen-like state of peace with respect to our purchase — a process that will be helped along by a custom bumper sticker of some sort, though I haven’t exactly decided what it’s going to say yet.

Dominic Is Here

Suanna knew when she got up this morning, December 9, that it was going to happen today; at 1:30 she knew it was time to go the hospital, even though her contractions were still relatively far apart. At 2:00 we were in her delivery room; at 2:05 she was pushing, and at 2:53 Dominic Michael Bruinooge was born.

Seven pounds, ten ounces, nineteen inches. He has a fair amount of dirty blonde hair, and dark grey eyes with perhaps a hint of brown — we’re not sure yet. He has been a most relaxed baby so far, staring around at everything with wide eyes, like his big sister did, and hardly crying at all. I am composing this while Suanna is sleeping and the nurses are busy checking him out in the nursery, and I’m still not sure if I’m so relaxed about it all because this is the second time or because it happened so fast I haven’t had time to actually process it.

You wonder, as a parent, how on earth you could possibly find more love for someone new when your heart is full to bursting with love for the child you already have. But then when the moment comes it washes over you and you can’t imagine it any other way. Your capacity isn’t divided, it’s multiplied — the kid is hours old and he’s already given me a gift I can never repay.

Pictures and further news can be found over on Cerin Amroth.

A Word of Warning and Woe

It starts innocently enough. It’s a blustery autumn day and there’s a nice arts and crafts festival in your neighborhood, so you swing on by to see what there is to see. And right at the edge there’s an area for kids to make their very own scarecrows — your daughter is delighted! You help her put one together, though a lot of the good clothes have been taken, so the pickings are a little slim. You make a small scarecrow, one that you can stuff in the top part of your daughter’s stroller, and she just loves it.

But then you get home. The scarecrow just sits there. It starts to freak you out. And then, the very next day, this.  Dear reader, steer clear of the make-your-own-scarecrow area, and maybe, just maybe, you can escape our tragic fate.

Migration Complete

Polytropos now runs on WordPress. Update your feedreader if you use one! Internal links are seriously broken, but many were already broken from the last big MT upgrade. I’m gonna fix the links in the Highlights entries over the next few days, though.

If you’re here wondering where on earth Cerin Amroth has gone, update your bookmark to the new url, here.

Gonna Do It

During my latest ill-advised bout of blog infrastructure tinkering, I managed to change to the newer, cleaner template, and in the process completely invalidate my old stylesheet. I also did a bit of tweaking to try to make comments 1) doable and 2) reasonably impervious to spam, and succeeded on point 1 but failed utterly on point 2.

Time for a clean start. Gonna move to WordPress. New directories and filenames will hopefully throw the comment spam off the trail. Lost links to old articles will be too bad, but hey, not like I’m writing anything worth linking to at the moment anyway. Nothing like an extended blogging hiatus to make switching platforms seem like not that big a deal.

I’ll keep the root url the same, though. Will probably change Cerin Amroth‘s url to something different, seeing as it’s gonna be about two kids in a while. Anyway, if the main page appears as one form or another of gobbledeegook in the near future, this is why.