So, did everyone else but me know what a “filibuster” is? Ever since the appointment of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, around which there was much talk of filibusters, banning filibusters in the senate, and so forth, I’ve wondered, what on earth were they talking about? Well, as usual, Wikipedia came to the rescue. Specifically Filibuster.
Now, I always knew that governmental procedure was often silly. I mean, how else can you get a bunch of politicians to actually get something done than to strap them down with a bunch of bizarre rules and regulations? Well, I gotta say, the filibuster takes the cake. To quote:
“a filibuster is an attempt to extend debate upon a proposal in order to delay or completely prevent a vote on its passage”
So, traditionally, to filibuster something, all you do is talk. And talk. And talk a whole bunch more! And in the US this is made even easier because, as it turns out, senatorial speeches need not cover the topic at hand! So you can literally pontificate about anything. In fact, you can even “[read] from the telephone directory” if you like. The only limit is your personal endurance! And the current record? Held by Strom Thurmond, who set a record of 24 hours and 18 minutes while attempting to filibuster the 1957 Civil Rights Act. How’s that for tenacity?
And, as a Canadian, I can feel proud knowing that we, too, have contributed to the glorious history of the filibuster. Back during the pre-megacity days in Ontario, the Liberals and NDP, in an attempt to filibuster the megacity merger proposal, actually pioneered a new form of filibuster by “[introducing] 11,500 amendments to the megacity bill, created on computers with mail merge functionality”. Now that’s what I call innovation!
In order to reward me for a job well done surviving yet another year on this remarkable little spheroid we call Earth, my lovely wife Lenore came up with the terrific idea of fulfilling a little whim I’ve had recently, that being to go on a minor exploration of the graphic novel medium.
Like many before me, I had always assumed that graphic novels were, in the end, nothing more than extended comic books, replete with your standard super heros and caped crusaders. And while they were certainly entertaining, I would’ve hardly described them as potential sources of real intellectual stimulation. That is, until, I saw the movie adaptation of V_for_Vendetta. “V” demonstrated to me, in dramatic fashion, that graphic novels may also explore complex issues, with interesting, multi-faceted characters. Since then, I’ve been rather curious about the medium and the potential that it holds. Thus, I thought the most natural thing would be to pick up the original “V” and Sin_City graphic novels, so I could enjoy them in their original forms. Unfortunately, a trip to the local book store demonstrated that, following the release of their associated movies, these works have become rather difficult to find. But, not wanting to leave the book store without something, I decided to pick up another work by Alan Moore which I’d heard about: Watchmen.
Now, I should start off by saying I haven’t yet reached the end of this frankly remarkable work. However, to say I’ve been impressed would be an understatement. The only graphic novel to make it on the “Time” list of 100 all-time best novels, “Watchmen” is considered one of the first attempts at a graphic novel as a form of literature. Ironically, “Watchmen” is best described as a superhero story. However, the heros of this story are, with few exceptions, nothing more than regular men and women, with remarkably complex psyches, who’s motivations for donning their costumes and fighting crime are varied and complex. Plotwise, the reader is presented with an intriguingly complex murder mystery, who’s victims are the aforementioned superheros, now retired, forced out of business by a law enacted to quell riots following a police strike protesting the actions of these perceived vigilantes.
If a compelling plot and deep, varied characters aren’t enough, the use of art and dialog in “Watchmen” is wonderful. While not particularly cutting edge, it’s the use of the visuals as a storytelling device that is truly impressive, making it vital for the reader to fully study the panels in order to take in all the details.
So, as I near the end of “Watchmen”, I’ve been trying to decide what to read next. I think I have it narrowed down to three titles:
“Maus”, a work for which it’s author, Art Spiegelman, won a Pulitzer, presents the story of Artie and his father’s experiences surviving the holocaust. “Blankets”, a memoir by Craig Thompson, explores the issues of an adolescent growing up in a fundamentalist Christian home. And lastly, we have “From Hell”, another work authored by Alan Moore, which presents a conspiracy theory involving Jack the Ripper. Intrigued? Perhaps you should check out a graphic novel… you never know, you might like it.
Okay, I thought I’d heard it all when I learned about Sailboat Arcadia. I mean, some guy building a boat in his backyard?? Well, I came across something equally hardcore today…
Tell me, have you heard of David J. Gingery? Yeah, neither had I. Well, this crazy nutjob, who was, to quote Wikipedia, “an inventor, writer, and machinist”, wrote a series of books on how to build machine tools. Not too remarkable, right? Well, what makes this so unbelievable is that he didn’t do it by buying parts from hardware stores and so forth. Oh no, that would be too easy. Instead, he figured out how to build his own Foundry in his back yard, capable of melting aluminum and zinc alloys. Then, using Green_sand molds, he casted the parts he needed and built his devices from scratch.
But it doesn’t end there. After figuring all this out, he wrote a series of books which, in simple, clear language, describe how to build a metal working shop. The first book covers the construction of a charcoal foundry, and the remaining volumes describe how to build various metal working equipment from recycled scrap metal, including, believe it or not, a lathe and a drill press. And all this can be done without the need for power tools or other expensive gear.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “does he really plan to build a metal working shop??” In short, no. :) After completing such a project, I honestly have no idea what I’d do with it. But you must admit, it’s pretty damned amazing.
Alright alright, I finally have pictures of the new railing up. Keep in mind, though, that there’s still work to be done. First, there’s a small rail that I need to install on the upper tier near the window well. Second, I need to install something in front of the window well on the lower tier (probably a railing, maybe a bench or something). Third, the stair to the ground still needs to be built. However, much of that will probably be put off for a week or two… I really need a break.
So, here we go:
As you can see, I’ve got the railing and the stair between the two levels completed. Looks pretty nice, if you ask me. ;)