Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's 2010

So, 2010 was a pretty good year for me, all

things considered. The rest of the world, not

so much. But for me personally, it was fairly

good. There were oil spills and earthquakes, a

death in the family and a lost friend, but

there was also Maria, lots of Magic: the

Gathering, a wedding, a trip to DC and two good

semesters.

The oil spill was a major fuckup in a lot of

ways, and our government did not handle it

well. (Haha, well. Get it?) Tony Hayworth is an

asshole. Thankfully it's over now.

The earthquake in Haiti was nothing less than a

catastrophe, and in all likelihood it struck in

the very worst place it could have: Haiti was

already a dirt-poor island, and now it's going

to take the Haitians years, maybe decades, to

repair their home--as well as billions of

dollars they don't have, even with foreign aid.

Thankfully no one directly involved was an

asshole about it (That I'm aware), but Pat

Robertson, the evangelical Christian jerkoff

said that the earthquake was God's way of

punishing the Haitians for making a deal with

the devil to be free of French rule. Oh sure,

our god is a kind and loving one. But piss him

off, and he'll ruin your life, your children's

lives and quite possibly the next couple of

generations too. Pat Robertson is a crazy

asshole.

My paternal grandmother's sister Sue died in

the middle of the year. For those of you who

don't know, I haven't had much contact with the

Davenport side of the family since I stopped

talking to my dad, and I had been dreading this

sort of thing. I did talk to my grandmother for

like two hours on the phone, although I did not

get to visit them at all. Hopefully that will

happen sometime this year.

I lost a friend in January, although he isn't

dead--yet. He's a total psycho with highly

self-destructive tendencies, so I'm sure it's

only until his current long-distance girlfriend

breaks up with him until he gets back working

on that. Nick Parry sent an awful lie of a

message to Maria's parents, misconstruing

something innocent into something he knew would

make them furious. And, in his own words, he

did it "just to be cruel." All this after I

personally washed his self-inflicted cuts and

played nursemaid to him for two and a half

years--all this after my family and I took
him into my home and treated him like a

brother. He had his own stocking for Christmas.

We fed him and clothed him, and he repaid us by

(you guessed it) being an asshole. Just after

all of this, I sent him an impassioned plea for

some sort of apology or acknowledgment of

guilt, but he pretty much told me to go fuck

myself, so I told him to get out of my life.

Then, nine or ten months later in October, he

approached my in a dark parking lot and

attempted to "apologize." I put that in quotes

because when he walked toward me, I could tell

through his body language or facial expression

if he was going to attack me or something else,

and his tone of voice was not in the least

apologetic. So I told him that he was indeed

and asshole and that his apology, such as it

was, was not accepted. I haven't spoken to him

since and wouldn't have it any other way. Nick

Parry was, is and in all likelihood will

continue to be an asshole--until he finally

succeeds in killing himself over something

asinine.

Ok, now good stuff.

Maria and I celebrated our second anniversary

of being together in October. So that's pretty

cool. We've had our small spats and squabbles,

but for like 98% of the time, we've been quite

happy, and I hope we stay that way for a long

time yet.

I used to have a lot of people to pkay MTG

with. However, at the beginning of the summer,

I suddenly found myself with no one. At home--

no longer talked with Nick--Chester moved to

Texas--Guillem at home in Spain--no local

Friday Night Magic place, and no way to get to

Carrollton every Friday night. So I taught

Maria, Andrew and Amber all how to play. (I

discovered that I'm fairly good that that,

too.) Those three all got really into it and

we've had some really great times playing

together.

My maternal grandfather remarried in October of

this year. His wife, my grandmother, died in

2004 from complications with Multiple

Sclerosis. And now he's married to a very sweet

lady who apparently is reorganizing his thirty

-year mess. The wedding was a lovely little

small affair at a small church in Rockmart that

my grandfather actually helped restore. They

seem very happy together and I wish them much

continuation of that happiness.

I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or

Fear, also in October. That might have been the

most fun I have had ever. The rally itself was

amazing; the drives there and back were

hilarious in a lot of ways; the intervening

time was spent wandering around underground

with Guillem or cavorting with him, Andrew and

Amber and eating at fantastic sushi places and

Bosnian restaurants. It put me like two weeks

behind on homework, but looking back, it was

worth it.

I've made the Dean's List for like the past

four semesters. That makes me feel good,

because I feel like I really do try when it

comes to school, and it's very gratifying to

see some sort of acknowledgment of my hard

work. I have to say I've become a little jaded

with Creative Writing classes, mostly because

it's too organized, there's not enough time for

real writing with all the other crap you have

to do and (the biggest reason) I don't see the

point in trying to help people who simply can't

write and aren't interested in the professor's

opinion on how to make their farce of a story

better. That was really frustrating these past

two semesters and hopefully with my own

influence and no one else's I'll write more and

more often. I know I've written more in the

past two weeks than I did the entire second

half of last semester, so that's promising.

So there's my year in snapshots. I had a pretty

great time and I hope you did too. Let's hope

2011 is full of much more win and far fewer

disasters. Cheers.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Budget Cuts and the Peril of the University System of Georgia

I don't know how many of you may have heard, but the Georgia state legislation is proposing some rather draconian measures under which the USG would be severely crippled. I wrote a letter to the legislation and I encourage you to do the same, if the quality of higher education in the state of Georgia matters to you whatsoever.

My message follows (be warned, it's really, really long):

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Ethan Davenport. I am a third-year Honors student at the University of West Georgia and an alumnus of the Advanced Academy of Georgia. I am writing to you in order to express my complete and total disapproval of the action which the state legislature is taking concerning the draconian budget cuts to the University System of Georgia. These cuts, if indeed implemented, will—not may, will—effectively cripple the USG. The universities are strapped enough as things now stand, and further taking away from them (and these measures go far beyond ‘further’) will unquestionably result not only in extensive job cuts and a major overall decrease in the quality of higher education in Georgia, but also an extreme blow to the state’s future tax base and revenue streams. It is a proven fact that as the number of bachelors’ degrees held increases, personal income (and therefore tax revenue) increase dramatically and exponentially. In this simple way, destroying the higher education system of Georgia directly affects and imperils the financial future of the state as a whole—not just my university, and not just the USG.
Quite frankly, demanding that an organization which receives only 12% of the state budget in the first place to cover 30% of the budget cut—almost triple the usual rate—is completely and utterly ridiculous. There is no other word for it. Quite disregarding of the effects of such a demand, the demand is in and of itself extremely unfair.
As a student, I am not advocating leaving the USG alone. I merely plead with you, our elected legislators, to allot to each organization its fair share. I understand that things are indeed tough all over and that no one escapes from such cuts unscathed; however, asking the USG (or any other organization, for that matter) to take up much, much more of its fair share of the pain is unfair and vindictive.
The USG has continued to be productive in these hard times, which is much more than can be said for numerous other organizations. As a student, I work as hard as I can to keep up my grades so that I can graduate and continue on my chosen path. I know for a fact that my professors work ten times as hard as I do to teach their students—even under such economic stresses as we have today. I also know that dramatically taking all this money away from the universities will undoubtedly harm not only professorial productivity due to less technical support, less maintenance and higher class sizes, but will also undercut student productivity for precisely the same reasons. Not only would it take much longer to graduate under the bare-bones system which has been proposed, the reduced productivity all around would add even more time to the minimum. This would be disastrous.
As an intellectual, I worry constantly about the state of our nation as a whole and especially about the status of Georgia as a state. I know for a cold fact that obliterating the higher education system of our state would remove any chance at all for our state to become a destination for intellectual ventures of any kind—indeed, it would become something of a hell for the few remaining intellectuals. Eventually, under this plan, Georgia would become bereft of all intellectual resources. This means no professors, no artists, no writers, and no entrepreneurs. Georgia would lose the charm it has for producing artists like Flannery O’Connor and many others; instead, it would become infamous as a place from which budding intellectuals had to escape in order to pursue their talents at other, more welcoming venues. As I am a writer myself, this is horrifying to me personally. Although I do not enjoy everything about the state of Georgia, I do find many charms here and I would love to be able to return home at any time and feel welcome not only as a Georgian, but as an intellectual.
Destroying the postsecondary education system in Georgia has many implications and consequences which I have only begun to describe. As I previously stated, as fewer bachelors’ degrees would be earned, the tax base of the state decreases. Since people without college degrees would be making less money, they would not be able to afford to send their children to college, and thus those children in turn would be unable to receive a college education—therefore decreasing the tax base even further, until only the very, very rich could afford postsecondary education. This vicious cycle can easily become the norm if the proposed legislation passes.
In addition to more or less endless depletion of the state’s tax base, the overall quality of education for every school in the state—not just universities, but elementary, middle and high schools as well—would sharply decline. This is due to the fact that Colleges of Education around the state would be unable to provide proper instruction to future teachers due to lack of funds and reduced productivity all around, as I previously mentioned. These substandard teachers would therefore be unable to educate grade-school children properly, having not been properly educated themselves, and thus the overall quality of each of our schools would decline. These children, if indeed they could afford to enroll into an institution of higher education, would be even less prepared for college-level coursework than they are today. (As someone who graduated from high school and enrolled at the University of West Georgia directly afterwards, I can from personal experience state that high school does not prepare students for college. However, this is a completely different matter.) Even more students than currently drop out of college would leave their institutions and attempt to find low-paying jobs, thereby depleting the tax base even more. And any Education students tutored under this already weakened system would become even worse teachers than their own, and thus the quality of education in Georgia—already near-worst in the nation—would continue to spiral downward.
I hope you begin to see that everything is connected.
These cuts would affect me on a personal level in many ways. If this legislation passes, I could well be forced to take more than the three semesters I have left until I graduate due to fewer classes which I need to graduate being offered here at my university—provided, of course, that my major remained valid. I plan to enroll into a Master’s of Fine Arts program after I graduate, but with the proposed cuts, I may be forced to go halfway across the country to find one with enough funding to actually run. Almost my entire family lives here in Georgia, as well as all of my friends and my girlfriend. Having to leave them for months at a time because I cannot find a graduate school to take me in our state would be a personal ordeal. In addition to this, I am unable to pay for my education without taking out student loans from the federal government. These cuts will almost certainly raise tuition and/or fees at this university, which would then cause my student loans (and therefore my debts to the federal government) to grow. I am already set to have to pay off my loans for many, many years after I graduate, and adding to the already considerable amount which I will have to pay is frightening and unnecessary.
These cuts would also affect my family. I have a 16-year-old brother who plans on attending the University of West Georgia after he graduates high school, and he deserves a proper education. I absolutely will not stand to see his future taken from him. He is an extremely intelligent individual and by destroying the postsecondary education system in our state, you deny him and millions of other would-be collegiates the opportunity to earn a better living and live a better life. (Again, this depletes the overall quality of life in Georgia as well as its tax base.)
I object to this legislation on an economic and political level as well. Scrounging for money wherever it can be found despite the harm that taking it from that place will do is precisely the kind of short-run thinking which has caused these hard times in the first place. Again, I do not plead for the USG to remain untouched by any means. I merely ask that you, our legislators, only ask of each organization its fair share—no more and no less. The USG could handle such a demand without being completely destroyed. If we are truly to pass through these hard times, we need to focus on the long run—on long term plans to help us in the future rather than scrambling to make everything seem better in the present. I have already demonstrated several times over how crippling the higher education system in Georgia would destroy any future we may have as a tax-powered machine and an intellectual center. It would take decades more for our state to recover from its current strife than things stand now. As it is at this moment, perhaps within five years we can look at breathing freely once more—it won’t be easy, by any means, but I firmly believe that we can pull through with responsible spending and conscientious saving. However, this proposed plan is neither responsible nor conscientious, and will for a fact drive our state further down into debt and darkness—not immediately, though, which is the difference between harsh measures like the ones now proposed and the responsible and equal ones which should be enacted. We can all bear our share of the pain, sirs, and in that way, we can as a statewide community move through these hard times and reach a better place. However, no one organization—no one community—can bear the brunt of over double its share.
If you care at all about the financial and intellectual future of our state, please, require from each of us only our fair share. We ask for only this.

Humbly yours,
Ethan Davenport

Thursday, December 24, 2009

New Year's 2009

A New Year's post is sort of a tradition of mine, although I have made them in more or less a different cyberspatial location each year since I began. First it was Xanga, then MySpace, then Facebook, now here.

This year has actually been pretty great for me. And it has also kinda sucked. I spent the first half of it with Maria up at West Georgia, which was nice, and I appreciate that time even more since I have had to endure this last semester seeing her only once every few weeks. While we still phoned and messaged one another constantly, it was still a big change from spending pretty much every day together. We still have a semester to go before we can be properly together again.

This is the year I decided for sure that I am a writer, and that I want to write for a living. I think this is a major turning point in my life, as I was never really sure about anything regarding my future before now. The creative writing class I took this past semester has only cemented my desire to pursue this path, which is exactly what I will do.

School this year has been alternately rough and wonderful, but through it all I've kept learning and growing as a student. I feel like I've finally got the hang of this whole college thing people keep going on about--of course, I'm taking my first 4000-level class next semester, so I could be totally wrong. I made the Dean's List this past semester. And I worked and worked and worked to get there, although I didn't expect that particular award. I just knew I wanted to do as well I as I could, and I feel totally validated about all my self-denial, discipline and hard work. Excuse me while I toot my own horn:

HWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRNNNNNK!!! ERNK!!


...tootle!


Alright. This year has held much change, for me and for the world at large. I have become more distant from a close friend due to a difference in opinion, and while that has been painful, I feel also that it was somewhat unavoidable, as he has become a very different person from the man I met some years ago.


I went on my first trans-Atlantic flight and slept in Europe for a month. That was an unbelievable experience and I can't wait to do it again. I think that one month had more of an effect on me as a person and an artist than any other one month in my life. I devoured some very good food, met some very cool people, heard some extremely annoying dogs and saw some breathtaking places. I also learned how separation like that which is imposed by an entire ocean can estrange one from familiar things.


I was in my first major automobile accident, along with Maria. We misguidedly attempted to turn across a lane of traffic and were halfway T-boned (think 45 degrees) on the passenger side--that is, my side. I was ludicrously lucky to clamber out of the driver's side door with only two scratches and a mouth full of powdered window. Maria was a bit less lucky, as she was terribly sore all over for the next few days, but otherwise we got out of that mess fairly well off--physically. Her Crown Victoria was totaled and even when she was able to buy a new transportation machine, she was forbidden to drive anywhere save work or school. This made for something of a miserable summer after I returned from Spain.

I have developed a liking for revolvers, although I don't own any. I plan to obtain my firearms license in the near future and begin collecting those, along with hats and typewriters.


I brought in this year with a kiss, which I had never been able to do before. I rather think it was an excellent start. I plan to begin 2010 the same way.


My proper, one-year anniversary with Maria happened in October to not very much fanfare, but lots of shrimp scampi and cuddling. We break the record for my longest--and most enjoyable--relationship with every second, although we still have something like a month and a half to go until we break her record.


Regardless, I feel good about this year as a whole. Some very excellent things have happened and a lot of celebrities have died, although those two ideas are hardly related. (Isn't that weird, though, that so many have kicked the proverbial bucket, one after the other? As Satou Tatsuhiro might say, "It's [probably not] a conspiracy!")


I truly don't watch television, so there's a lot that happened in the world of pop culture which I have missed. However, I think even the Martian colony on Europa heard about Michael Jackson's bizarre death and Kanye West's monumental dickery. I don't particularly care about these things, you understand, but when EVERYONE is talking about them, it's impossible not to form some kind of opinion, even if it is only that the media is annoying no matter how it gets to you.


I've learned a lot this year, both in my courses and in the general course of being alive. New life experiences: double-check.


I hope that 2010--which, by the way, is officially the Future since we can prefix it by saying "twenty-x" instead of "two thousand and x" or "oh-x"--is as educational and developmental for me and for all of you as 2009 has been.


Some people have said that the Double-Naughts have been the worst decade in recent history--and in many instances, they are right. However, there's a corollary to that:

Things can only go up from here, folks. Let's make it happen. Let's begin building the Future--as we imagined it when we were children--in 2010.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Yay for college.

I'm enjoying my classes, for the most part. Of course my English classes--Creative Writing and American Literature--are a blast. My Government professor is a riot, and as always I love German.

The one class which I do not totally enjoy is Music Appreciation. This is because it is full of morons.

We use i>Clicker remotes to answer multiple choice questions that the professor places before us with a projector. These questions always concern themselves with the class material which we have JUST gone over, no more than ten minutes ago. No one should be able to get them wrong.

But oh, how they do. There is always at least one person who gets it wrong, oftentimes two or more.

I simply do not understand. Our class consists of one hundred and twenty-six college students, presumably all high school graduates, who should be able to write things down and remember them five minutes later.

So why can't they? What is so hard about this?

Nothing. It is exceedingly simple. There is no reason concerning the class material that says these people should not be able to answer simple questions correctly.

Ergo, the only problem which I can see lies with the student. This brings me to a question:

Why don't people care if they are stupid?

I doubt I'll ever have an answer. But I would love to hear my readers' take on this issue. (Yes, all five of you.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

I call bullshit on you, society. -or- Michael Jackson was weird.

Today's subject is the death of pop superstar Michael Jackson and his posthumous portrayal and treatment both by the mainstream media and the idiot public.

Jackson was a great singer, a fantastic dancer, and a huge influence on popular music even to this day.

However, he was also a bizarre, messed-up weirdo of a person and just because he is dead is no reason to ignore this. Someone has got to break through this bullshit 'respect-for-the-dead' thing and just tell the goddamn truth.

Yeah, I know the guy didn't have a childhood as such, and that's bound to mess a body up. However, he definitely had enough money to afford any therapist (if indeed he needed one) he wanted, so it's not that much of an excuse.

First thing that springs to mind is his appearance. He was born August 29, 1958, a healthy black boy. He died June 25 of this year, an extremely thin, feminine white man.

This. Is. Not. Normal. I don't know if his story about skin disease was true or not, but even if it is, he still had more plastic surgery going on than a Chinese toy factory. This is also not normal.

Then there is the entire controversy about the child molestation charges. I don't know if anyone can ever say for sure if Jackson ever did anything that was actually illegal, except of course the children themselves, but there was definitely something weird going on in Neverland.

There was also that baby-dangling incident in 2005. Not. Normal. (Also, haha. Blanket.)

The mainstream media (looking at you, Fox News), in addition to spending hours and hours upon the gubernatorial resignation of Sarah Palin (which truly only affects Alaskans, not the whole nation), has almost completely forgotten the scandals which plagued Jackson and boosted their ratings for months at a time. Two incidents of child molestation and the baby-dangling. (Say that a couple times out loud.) The media has perpetuated the view of Jackson as a wacked-out pedophile, so why stop now?

The public, as always, has eaten this up. Millions of Americans who, only a few years ago, were sure that Jackson had, in fact, molested those children now rush to mourn and lament him.

Fuck you, society. Fuck your pretentious bullshit, and your post-superstitious belief that speaking ill of the dead is "bad." The truth is not ill, for one thing. If a guy was weird, then it's okay to say it, even after he is dead. Jackson was weird. Maybe he did bad things to kids, maybe not. But he was weird, and I don't care how dead he is. He was still weird.

What does society have against the truth? Well, the public often doesn't like it because people like to think that they are better than they are, better than human. The media doesn't like it because it doesn't make for good ratings or a cowed public. And the government, well....they've always had problems with the truth. It doesn't often paint them in a good light.

The moral of the story, kids, is that dead people were still people, with everything which that entails.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Back from Spain

I had a lot of fun over there. The atmosphere is so different from the states--I have to go back one day. I might not even return until everyone here has realized that sex isn't bad and shoving your beliefs down everyone else's throat isn't the way to go. Ah well. (I wonder what it is that makes Americans so different from the rest of the world?)

The food was awesome. Very very awesome.

The city was awesome. None of our cities here in the States have half as much personality. I like Gaudi's works especially, and bought a small sketch of two hands that Picasso made.

The people were people. Sinners and saints, parents and children, men and women, lovers. It amazed me how well I could understand emotions and intentions even if the words escaped me. "Same planet," my friend said.

But I am back at home, comfortable on my own dear bed in my own lovely house. My room is a mess and we have two kittens.

I went to a nearby lake yesterday with Maria and that was lovely beyond reason--after a month of only seeing someone's words on a computer screen, seeing them is surreal and unnerving, even, if they are your significant other. But, it's all good. We spent all day getting reacquainted and swimming around.

I am unpacked and got the wireless working, and forgot to buy my brother anything, which makes me feel like a tool. Ah well.

Ask any questions you have! I will be happy to answer them! As always, I can be reached by email if you need me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dr. George Tiller and the Abortion Debate

Dr. George Tiller, who ran a Kansas abortion clinic starting in 1973, was shot and killed two days ago at the church he attended. He was 67 years old, had 4 children and a whopping ten grandchildren. (Slightly ironic, but nonetheless.)

The suspect, a 51 year-old Scott Roeder has been detained.

This is ridiculous. The reason it is a DEBATE is that you DEBATE it, not shoot your opponent in his own church. 

This issue is a crusade on both sides. I am neither pro-life nor pro-choice, as I refuse to be lumped in with all the crazies. I fashion myself pro-circumstance. I do not believe that abortions should be handed out freely, but I also believe vehemently that a mother should not die because of complications with her pregnancy that can be prevented. 

I am not sure when a fetus becomes a baby. I am not sure what constitues a human being. The ability to feel pain probably comes in somewhere, but there isn't really a humane way of figuring out when feti can feel pain, as far as I know.

However, I do sympathize far more with the pro-choicers than I do with the pro-lifers. I don't think anyone has the power or the right to tell a woman what to do with her body. I also know that the adoption system, in the United States at least, leaves a lot to be desired, and that adoption isn't always an option. And I definitely know that potential mothers who would get an abortion don't always have the means to raise a child, especially in the South, where their parents will likely boot them out of the house for even thinking about being pregnant 'before marriage.' (I have lived in the Bible Belt my entire life. It's a wasteland of black-and-white ignorance.)

It's a sticky mess of a debate, where each side has good reasons for the things they believe, but the only thing I can agree with both of them on is that life is special. All the rest is undecided, and  perhaps it will remain that way forever. I don't know. 

However, I do know that senseless killings like this one have to stop. We as humans must supercede our base emotional outbursts, and use them rather than allowing them to use us. We have the capacity for abstract thought, and we have been using it for at least two THOUSAND years, and yet we still have people willing to end another's life because they don't believe the same things. We have to use our emotions to fuel our arguments, which is not to say they cannot be passionate. A passionate argument will sway an audience ten times as well as one which holds no feeling. And without passion, no one would want to argue anything in the first place. Emotion has its place, and it's a valid one. However, violence has no place and there is not an excuse for it now.