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02.23.2003

It means that questions must be raised. You see my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, 'Who owns the oil?' You begin to ask the question, 'Who owns the iron ore?' You begin to ask the question, 'Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water?'

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

I'm sure you've probably already heard the news or watched Friday's show, but it was, for me, quite an enjoyable experience. Suddenly someone on TV started asking questions again. His guests could use a little work: Larry Miller's jokes are as stale as his politics, Michael Eric Dyson's Mr. Roboto style of speaking (complete with robo-action hand gestures) makes me wish he'd have a joint before the show, and Ann Coulter is such a lying buffoon that it's unfair to conservatives. Bill checked her shit at least twice, once with, "you just make stuff up" or words to that effect. Bill also had Sarah Silverman on to do what she does best-why do so few good (and she's damn good) comics have decent websites?

At one point the discussion turned to Affirmative Action and you can bet your sweet ass that Ann Coulter was not in favor. But who would have guessed that Chris Rock would make an appearance to put her in her place? Affirmative Actions needs help now that it can't find a friend in the White House. It's no wonder that a C student from Yale would be against tipping the scales in the other direction. He has kids to think of after all. He has enough time keeping them out of bars (or worse) to worry that their academic performance could be used against them. Is it taking this whole Catholic Guilt thing a little too far to go from saying one hundred prayers in penance to passing out points on admission tests? Well, how do you measure the debt this country owns the former slaves and their descendants? Is it from the amount of times the lash bit into the flesh of their backs? Is it from how many grains of salt were poured into those wounds? Is it from the amount of families separated at auctions? Is it from the amount of unpaid hours spent picking cotton? When the war finally ended in 1865 and the chains of slavery were let loose, the doors of opportunity slammed shut. The few that made it through the door's cracks had to fight every step of the way. Is Affirmative Action unfair? Of course it is! How else can you counterbalance the inherent bias of the system?

To take on an even harder topic, the n-word, I have to first share my dislike for that entertainment excrement known as Boston Public. I have had the misfortune to watch far too many episodes of that over-wrought wreck of a show. I'd have thought that after foisting Alley McBeal on us we would never have to sit through one of his sit-com crap shows again. If not for that episode where Alley acts as the lawyer for some nut that keeps jumping out of windows in the effort to fly, Emeril would have been my choice as to the lowest prime-time sit-com TV has sunk. But what do I know about TV? When so many seem to suck up to shows like West Wing and I think it's pompously boring dreck, it makes me think I'm missing something. Like how in the world did TLC and Discovery turn into the Home & Garden network for 1/2 their programming hours? But I digress, Boston Public put out a book advertisement pretending to be a show on Randall Kennedy's Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word. It's like he skimmed the book and ran his characters through the bases like Lucas covering the chapter titles of Hero with a Thousand Faces in his prequels.

Now some people get all bent out of shape over someone trying to profit on this obscenity or the more vile attempt to make it more palatable to "hip liberal whites". It's at least a more thoughtful approach than the shotgun style of most rap artists today. When DMX talks about "My Niggas" you can't really hear anyone but Weird Al types sing "My Honkies". "My Whiggers" is cutting it far too close for comfort. Is it really such a loss to whites to not use one word? What is with the craven craving for acceptance into the community of positive n-word use? Let it go! Be happy with the ample supply of foul four-letter-words and not-so-nice terms of various length. I'm sure white comedians can still pinch a few more laughs out of "fuck" and "shit" and white rappers (except for the Beasties) can go to hell for all I care. Of course, this means forgeting the comedic genius of Japan.


It seems the whole Skeleton Warrior thing passed by with out a mention of his movie that put Muliplicity to shame. Any actor could play himself a handful of times, but it takes a real talent to play an entire army.


It looks like I am doing better at procrastination than story writing. Maybe it's just fear. I'm fighting it tooth and nail and now I got it in a headlock and I am applying a new nuggie technique I developed while procrastinating about making dinner. The deadline draws near. You can put off anything if you really put your mind to it. Secret projects are proliferating in the cranial parts, stacked like - not cordwood, only corpses seem to be stacked like that - a pile of opened books. Some may be revealed soon to frighten and amuse.

I'm trying to balance my self-teaching regimen of the web programming arts against the ease of stealing borrowing already finished code. I'm seeing how long I can skim along without the net of CMS software fusing these scattered pages into something semantically searchable. I also realize that the "original" design of this site may obscure it from the cookie-cutter blogscape. In some sense, I think that's a good thing, but I'd like to at least tip towards some semblance of usability.


OK, how can I not comment about the insanity seeping into the blogworks? First Max gives a crack at the loony anti-protest post by the Jane Galt gal and gets labeled sexist by Michele. I can't find a trace of any sexism here either. You can be condescending and not be sexist. You can pick on four male bloggers with an off-hand remark and not be sexist by way of omission.

It reminds me back in the early days of Metafilter when your favorite warblogger posted his infamous screed on Anglo Women. It was something so big as that it spread to 2 posts. I even chipped in at the end.

Thankfully, I'm on the outskirts of the blogburgs so when I pound out ill prose it's hardly ever exposed. But I think I gave a little more latitude to Steven's (His greatest flaw is failing to ever come to any point within less than 20,000 words) poor post than Michele did or her little lapdog did to views they inferred were being made. Such logical lapses are not a symptom of being on the right, as their sycophant comment creatures so often attribute to any error by those on the left. The problem is that these groundless gaffes appear in anyone leaning to either extreme and they would all have it seem there was no in-between.

02.20.2003

No one really understood music unless he was a scientist, her father had declared, and not just a scientist, either, oh, no, only the real ones, the theoreticians, whose language mathematics. She had not understood mathematics until he had explained to her that it was the symbolic language of relationships. "And relationships," he had told her, "contained the essential meaning of life."

--Pearl S. Buck (1892 - 1973) from The Goddess Abides, Pt. I, 1972.

A fairly decent roundup on a rehashed subject from a long and largely anecdotal essay got me thinking about High School again. The essay comes to far too many conclusions from limited experience. The Metafilter thread calls out quite a few of them. Most of it revolves around the fact that High School life is fairly unique to each school. They each have social, economic, and environmental differences that contribute to the hierarchical social structure. Schools don't even have the same amount of the various cliques. There could be goths, artists, punks, stoners, metalheads, jocks, young republicans, nerds, getto set, trust funders, floaters, etc. Let alone racial or religious division.

My anecdotal take on things comes from attending a somewhat small elementary school, Haugan, for grades 1 thru 8, a large (4000+ students) Lane Tech for my first two years of High School, and a little Wheaton Central (1500 students) for my final bout with High School.

I had a rough time during the 8th grade due to conflicts with a bunch of the kids. That was my most difficult period because I had a group of guys against me and I was fairly stubborn about riding it out. I was usually left alone and never sought out a fight since I had plenty of that with my brother during those years.

At Lane, I was just another fish in the sea and social groups seem fairly invisible except for those of age and race. I was a floater then and avoided fights just from knowing the right people. I have fond memories of the 2 years I spent at Lane except for when I had classes spread too far apart and had to wade through those crowded hallways. The students and teachers were good to me so I have to disagree with Paul Graham's notion that smaller schools are the answer. The more people there, the less chance there is for any particular social clique to dominate and there better odds for any one individual to find friends.

By the time my family had moved out to the burbs and I entered Wheaton Central's doors I was already resentful of leaving my friends and distrustful of what I heard about the suburban snobs. A negative attitude going into a school during the junior year is not the best way to meet new friends. I was never bothered there either and further drew away from the kids there after my Grandmother died. I used to resent the kids there, but now I realize that I never gave them a chance to get to know me.

I did mange to know a handful of them and they were of the geek variety, of which I have a soft spot for. I was lucky that I managed to experience being an outcast early in my school life so that my years in Wheaton Central seemed to go by quickly. I was heavily into my own hobbies such as running a small Amiga BBS. Most students there were fine letting me be virtually invisible during my whole time there.

If people did find themselves labeled nerd, there tended to be a large deliberate component and acceptance to that role. The same is true of those that could be identified as belonging to any stereotypical group. If a person wants to indulge in their hobbies or sports to the exclusion of a diverse education, then it's just as much a fault of the parents and teachers as the student for stifling their growth potential. We are to quick to put ourselves in boxes and slap on a label. The "I'm too dumb [weak] [ugly]" speech we tend to fall into, that gets reinforced by our favorite bullies, build up a mental barrier and cut us off before we ever get a chance. A lack of patience fueled by a long-term advertising mentality gives us the false impression that we can change things about ourselves quickly.

If that wasn't enough, trends in pop-psychology feed us conflicting messages about just how sad or angry we should be at any given time. Not to make light of the daily torture many kids face in the form of bullying, kids are tough and sometimes bullying can be a valuable lesson in how to stand up for yourself. It's obvious after Columbine that we can't allow bullying to go endlessly unpunished, but more importantly we can't let any child become ostracized from all their peers. I was able to stand up to bullying by having teachers and parents willing to listen and help.

The biggest factor was my Mother's concern and her unique way of handling situations. When I was being set upon for months by a group of kids she confronted one with, "What's going on? Is John bullying you? Because I will put a stop to it right now!" It was as if she invoked sympathy through some sort of universal fear of a Mother's wrath. It worked in concert with my own efforts to stand up for myself and usually some choice words in response were all that were necessary. For the longest time I simply took it.

I believe that it isn't so much the things that happen to us as it is in our reaction to them that end up defining us. There's no hard and fast, universal methodology for making decisions and I won't pretend that my methods have much use for anyone else. The victims of sexual assault tend to verge towards extremes of frigidity or promiscuity. Those reacting to the injustice in the world either have hope to change things (risking being labeled idealistic despite the fact things can change, just slowly) and veer Liberal or see it as a result of too much change (risking being labeled cruel or regressive despite the fact that much that has changed has not made things less cruel or progressive) and veer Conservative. Whether these breaks are the result of a random ricochet of an emotional response or due to some genetic predisposition is beyond me. But addressing the emotional component to our decisions is just as essential as the rational side.

In an essay titled "Worrying About Emotions in History" that appeared last year in the American Historical Review, Ms. Rosenwein challenges the whole paradigm. It rests, she says, on a "hydraulic" metaphor of emotions as "liquids within each person, heaving and frothing, eager to be let out." Up through roughly the Middle Ages, they gushed without restraint; then modernity built a dam. The hydraulic imagery is deeply embedded in ordinary language, where feelings "build up" until they are "released" or, possibly, "channeled" into something productive, with rationality thus serving as a kind of psychic steam engine. The model has been undermined, Ms. Rosenwein says, by both cognitive research and social constructionism.

For cognitive psychologists, rationality and emotion are both manifestations of the human organism's ability to judge "weal and woe," to determine whether a situation is likely to yield pleasure or pain, advantage or danger. If you see a man waving a gun in the street, your emotional response may include both bodily sensations (cold sweat, a pounding heart) and incipient physical action (a powerful desire to run). This is not simply a matter of perceptual stimuli directly motivating action. It draws on a concept (eminently rational) that men waving guns in public are dangerous. We can distinguish "reason" and "emotion" ex post facto, but for a cognitivist they function rather like computer programs running simultaneously on the same system, feeding each other information as they do.

For social constructionists, the range of emotion is something people absorb from the culture around them. Some constructionists entirely reject the cognitivist model, which treats certain basic emotions (fear and anger, for example) as hard-wired into the human organism; they see emotion as purely social. But most emphasize how societies "bend, shape, encourage, and discourage the expression of various emotions," writes Ms. Rosenwein, through "language, cultural practices, expectations, and moral beliefs."

Drawing on those challenges to the "hydraulic" model, Ms. Rosenwein proposes an alternative to boilerplate stories about how civilization tamed the wild emotions. People have always lived, she says, in "emotional communities" that shaped their judgments of weal and woe (the cognitive element) as well as how they understood and expressed what they felt (the cultural element). Examples of emotional communities include "families, neighborhoods, parliaments, guilds, monasteries, [and] church memberships" -- in short, the range of groups and institutions, large and small, in which people live and work.

- Scott McLemee, Getting Emotional

Ms. Rosenwien's "emotional communities" theory sort of sounds like that instant vibe you sometimes get from people in a room.

Our emotional state is constantly being fed data from each of our senses. Taste leads us to comfort food. Smell brought us perfumes, which eventually evolved into Aromatherapy. Touch brought us massage and most definitely sex. That brings us to sight which certainly fuels sex and art. Finally, we come to hearing and the ethereal emotional generator that is music.

NO other artistic medium moves us the way sound waves do, and in that regard music's meaning is emotional, in the word's original sense. The languages of music and emotion are remarkably similar; indeed, the link between musical mode and emotional mood has been the subject of philosophical inquiry and censorious dogma for centuries. Certain modes of music were to be kept out of Plato's ideal State because they evoked sorrowful or ungraceful or indolent feelings (Socrates: "When modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the State always change with them"). Saint Augustine feared the power of music to overwhelm the spiritual message of the hymns it accompanied, and this fear led the Church to pronounce certain musical modes -- and even certain melodic intervals -- dissonant and unlawful. Soviet censors, too, were notorious: they tried, for example, to keep Shostakovich's lugubrious dissonances (and their political overtones) in check.

-Toby Lester

The rebellious teenagers seeking out succor in song arrive at an ancient battleground to establishment. It should not be surprising how many groups are distinguished by the type of music they listen to. Some seek to further separate themselves by singling out a particular artist and fear someday that artist might sell out. Music tastes serve as social markers for teenagers and aging hipsters alike.

nothing more clearly affirms one's 'class', nothing more infallibly classifies, than tastes in music.
As Foucault (1977:181-2)) has argued, hierarchical ranking serves, in itself, as a reward or punishment. By distributing pupils in a hierarchy, a constant pressure is exercised over them to conform to the pedagogic authority of the educational institution by displaying qualities such as subordination, docility, and attention to more or less arbitrary studies and exercises. In this unequal power struggle some students play by the rules and reap the academic and cultural rewards which conformity brings; the majority become bored and apathetic; and some react with a fierce antagonism to the institution and the culture which it is perceived to represent, and in so doing collaborate in consigning themselves to the future which has been designated for them. One way of expressing this antagonism is to flaunt provocative symbols and activities - and for that purpose some forms of rock have always provided a rich reservoir of possibilities.

Does music sets us free? Does it act as some sort of emotional biofeedback resonator? Is it simply a means to obtain another rung in the endless social climb? And what of cultures like the Amish and Taliban, that forbid it in any form except for the strictly religious? Is bad music just there to make our minds mush?


Strong emotions sabotage our ability to deal with each other fairly and lately emotions have been running high. I'll take Michele's plea at face value. While I understand that it makes no sense link to people when making general arguments, I still think it's important to call people out when their errors are especially glaring. It's important that when you do this to be civil or you are probably not going to convince anyone (If it's just to rant, go ahead). This is something I have not always been capable of. I have never stopped myself from being critical towards someone simply because of similar views or that I liked them personally. We all need a reality check occasionally.

So what's my reality check? I believe something has to be done with Iraq and those responsible for selling him the means of war. I believe something has to be done to reduce the threat of terrorism- elimination is unlikely. I believe that the administration has bungled things at almost every diplomatic opportunity they've had. They show no sound strategy beyond the war and the fact of their failure to remember to include Afghanistan in the budget fuels my fear that it will be no better with post-war Iraq. I am anti-dictator, but I don't believe in the western fantasy that all people in the world are ready to embrace democracy.

I believe that it's a very dubious form of logic, let alone morality, that the UN focuses so much on disarming Iraq rather than denouncing Saddam's murderous reign. But if the UN, as the Bush administration has done, adds the plight of the people to the reasons for action, then they must act in all places where this murderous injustice lives, in turn. Of course, this pits the UN against a large number of countries and doesn't clearly define the degree to which a government's crimes against its people constitute a response of war. Is there an acceptable torture rate to the UN?

Most of all I believe that too much talk is wasted on attacking the opposition's arguments rather than addressing the gaping holes in our own understanding of the situation.


We'll see how long the kinder, gentler John lasts.

As promised, here's the first batch of pictures from the Florida trip. I ended up not taking as many as I thought. I still have some on one of my cameras and more are in my brother's computer.

The house #1 The house #2 The house #3 The banana tree #1 The banana tree #2 Marley Bello Caterpillar Ice strays sunset

02.17.2003

Survival kit contents check. In them you'll find: one 45 caliber automatic, two boxes of ammunition, four days concentrated emergency rations, one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills, one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible, one hundred dollars in rubles, one hundred in gold, nine packs of chewing gum, one issue of prophylactics, three lipsticks, three pairs of nylon stockings. Shoot! A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

-Slim Pickins, Major T. J. "King" Kong in 'Dr. Strangelove

I hate being doom and gloom. It's time to come out and admit that we can't stop terrorist attacks by increasing security. Our country is far too big, with too many assets to protect. The only thing that increased security will do is catch the lesser skilled terrorists. It's just like bank robbers. The better they protect the banks, the better the bank robbers become. I'm not going fatalistic here. We simply must recognize what we are dealing with in a realistic manner.

Terrorism takes a more political twist on guerilla warfare. It's only natural that fighting techniques evolve to the point they endanger everyone. We first encountered this with Nukes. Now they are the nation-state political trump card. Terrorism is the non-state sibling of the Nuke. Terrorism can be used by practically anyone with motivation, like our local loony-boy Timothy. Therefore, it is to a degree far more dangerous because it can be quite common. Even worse, it attacks freedom at its core. It is a political virus.

I'm not sure if you can treat this type of virus. Once adopted, political views are hard to change. So how do we prevent exposure to this virus? This leads to the hard question of root causes. That tends to lead us into tin-foil hat conspiracy theory territory. There's a rabid resistance to rethinking US foreign policy on the unproven idea that addressing long held demands on us will only encourage them and yet we see only escalation in response to our current policy. It's a nasty Catch-22.

Frankly, I find it hard to imagine how terrorist leaders will be able to justify jihad, let alone rally sufficient troops when the only US presence is medical and food aid rather than domination through the support of dictatorships. Who could rally suicide bombers in Israel if Israel and the US stop the cycle of violence and build a Palestinian state? It is obvious they can't do it themselves.

If you really want peace, then you should negotiate regardless of the surrounding violence. The violence should be a spur to talks, not an excuse to avoid them.

-Sam Smith

Senator Robert C. Byrd's speech hits a number of key points I'd like to explore. The whole speech is excellent and can easily stand on its own.

In foreign policy, this administration has failed to find Osama bin Laden. In fact, just yesterday we heard from him again marshaling his forces and urging them to kill. This administration has split traditional alliances, possibly crippling, for all time, international order-keeping entities like the United Nations and NATO. This administration has called into question the traditional worldwide perception of the United States as well-intentioned peacekeeper. This administration has turned the patient art of diplomacy into threats, labeling and name calling of the sort that reflects quite poorly on the intelligence and sensitivity of our leaders, and which will have consequences for years to come.
The Bin Laden speech he refers to already has controversy surrounding its translation. The omitted part of the message consists of Bin Laden calling for the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam since he runs a secular government. This stance is consistent with Bin Laden's goal for the spread of Islamic rule and directly contradicts the administration's attempts to foist the fearful hypothetical situation of Iraq supplying WMDs to terrorists since those terrorists are just as likely to use them on Saddam.
The war in Afghanistan has cost us $37 billion so far, yet there is evidence that terrorism may already be starting to regain its hold in that region. We have not found bin Laden, and unless we secure the peace in Afghanistan, the dark dens of terrorism may yet again flourish in that remote and devastated land.

Pakistan as well is at risk of destabilizing forces. This administration has not finished the first war against terrorism and yet it is eager to embark on another conflict with perils much greater than those in Afghanistan. Is our attention span that short? Have we not learned that after winning the war one must always secure the peace?

Except for areas in Northern Iraq, (largely outside the influence of Saddam's government) most of the fleeing Taliban and Al Qaeda members went to countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Pakistan is likely to have received the largest numbers due to its close proximity to Afghanistan. It seems that the only thing keeping us from attacking Pakistan is our cordial relationship with the military dictator, President Pervez Musharraf. After all, they knowingly keep terrorists within their borders. A deputy of Maulana Fazlur Rahman told the press that every Muslim in Pakistan had a duty to provide sanctuary to members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Of course, the same question can be asked of Saudi Arabia, which as we know, is the country where most of the 9/11 terrorists came from. None of them came from Iraq.

To engage in war is always to pick a wild card. And war must always be a last resort, not a first choice. I truly must question the judgment of any president who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50 percent children is "in the highest moral traditions of our country." This war is not necessary at this time. Pressure appears to be having a good result in Iraq. Our mistake was to put ourselves in a corner so quickly. Our challenge is to now find a graceful way out of a box of our own making. Perhaps there is still a way if we allow more time.

The blatant desperation and hypocrisy of the pro-war people seems to mirror that of the administration. Both are so clueless about the art of diplomacy that they continue to alienate those that once stood in support.

This is the first time such a large number of anti-war protests have occurred before a war has begun. The warbloggers/administration accuse the UN of being inept in resolving the Israel/Palestinian conflict while ignoring the fact that our strong ties to one side had us veto numerous resolutions against things like expanding settlements and assassination. There is nothing foolish about seeking alternatives to war. There is nothing foolish about questioning the actions of an administration that has only shown contempt for opposing views.

As is noted here, we need new ideas. Quick like.

I have been searching for more places to read and have taken to mining the Metafilter membership. I recently came across Hidago's site. To see that the latest entry is about one of Cheapass Games products told me right away his site's a keeper. He also had a "Political/Social Views Cheat Sheet" on his Metafilter profile and I have to play along.

Abortion: 1st one is free. Next one is free, but you get your tubes tied with a very complex knot.
Cell Phones: If they go off in the theater, it should be legal for the nearest person to slap the offender. Twice if it rings an annoying tune.
Drugs: Legalize, nationalize, regulate, tax. (ditto)
Gay Rights: It's no longer an issue because Everybody Loves Raymond. So we're all gay now.
Gun Control: It's not the guns, it's the gun nuts.
Israel/Palestine: There's a solution, it's just nobody is interested...or I guess that means there isn't one.
Osama Bin Laden: Special Forces give him a heavy dose of lupron.
Prostitution: Legalize, privatize, regulate, tax. (ditto)
Rest of the Middle East: Medical and food aid only.
RIAA: Watch them die out slowly as I only support artists directly.
Saddam Hussein: Special Forces give him a heavy dose of lupron.
SUVs: It's a free country. Drive what you want and let your conscience haunt you for the rest of your life.
Video Game Violence: i p0wnd j00, n00b!!1! (BS I like totally shot you 10 times! nice hack! Only because this mouse is sucks. WTF!? There is no fucking way you hit me from there, wall hacker! Rush Left this time, idiots. Why is my a bunch of team a bunch of basing camping pussies? You're all ping! ARRRRGHH!)
War on Drugs: creates more drugs and more terrorists on drugs
War on Terrorism: Just creating more terrorists (and more bad Jerry Bruckheimer flicks)

So what is fueling my desire to read more? A lot of it has to do with the fact that it gets me in the mood to write more and even leave the random comment or three. But there's also the inevitable tug of ego that is becoming ever so hyper-aware of the high stakes hijinks of popularity and hyperlinks. I've balked at the whole blogwhore aspect of this, but how can I pass up a chance to get paid posting stuff while in my briefs. But will it take posting pictures of me in them?

Perhaps the cute factor only works for females. Some are saved and some are not. Must I be satisfied with my lot? But what would the content here be worth if a daily effort I'd put forth?

For another example, take Al Martin. He thinks that after two years giving away content he can now charge $6.95 per month. But hey, "That's the price of Wall Street Journal online -- except Al Martin Raw will be packed with useful information about How the Real World Works." Yeah, market information. That snake oil shit spew that's sucked up so many simoleons from suckers over the centuries. If you're going to pay for my crappy content, you will know right up front about the fecal features.

It's not that simple I'm sure. I might actually have to "modernize" this place to keep up with the pace of the techno race. Webcam, comments, RSS feeds, trackback, ping, all that crap that headaches bring. I confess that stuff tends to bore and implementation is surely a chore, but enough might bring success.

What is the first thing that I can do? Ah, spread out a meme for the hits it will bring! They're too hard to start so I'll borrow. It's that art of fiddling with one that's already done!

The Bernard Pivot Questionaire

What is your favourite word?
Yes!
What is your least favourite word?
Nausea
What turns you on?
Friction
What turns you off?
Chaffing
What sound do you love?
Dead crickets
What sound do you hate?
Crickets Live in Concert
What is your favourite curse word?
Bull-fucking-shit (which may be cheating so I offer bullshit as an alternative favoourite)
What profession, other than yours, would you like to attempt?
Admiral (not captain) of a Cruise ship (not missile)
What profession would you not like to participate in?
Crash test dummy
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Here's some superpowers, go back and tell the others that we don't keep these gates locked.

02.13.2003

So little do we see before us in the world, and so much reason have we to depend cheerfully upon the great Maker of the world, that He does not leave His creatures so absolutely destitute but that in the worst circumstances they have always something to be thankful for, and sometimes are nearer their deliverance than they imagine; nay, are even brought to their deliverance by the means by which they seem to be brought to their destruction.

- Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

I am so full it. Really. Quite full. Belly exdistended. Even my fingernails feel full. But I don't know what it is. OK, I do. Like I said, I'm full of it. So full. Maybe I shouldn't write while on pseudo-vacations.

So I'm back from Florida and never even made it down to the Keys. I've avoiding writing all but the first two lines of my short story and I think it's been piling up an idea-jam that's been giving me such a headache all week. Maybe it's indigestion after reading what I wrote last time. It's not even the musing about the sexism of family naming patterns. Though I think we should screw with the historians and flip a coin. Better yet, let's just make up a new "family" name that everyone adopts every time we get married. How about a change from the Johnsons and Jacksons to Janesons and Joansons? Hell, why not Janedaughter? Anyway, it isn't that, that much. It's the thing about whether we are violent from video games and the like.

I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us... We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.

-Franz Kafka (1883-1924)

I'm a pretentious POS that thinks even the most severe emotional turmoil let loose on us by the myriad means of media can't be anything more than an excuse for our actions. It will be our choice to pull the trigger or light the fuse. Besides, it's all just ideas in different packages. They don't demand or command man. Even the great ideas, all 2,987 from Adler's Syntopicon, are solely things of the mind.

I have a set of the Great Books and have finally started to crack them open. The last time I tried I was about 13. I opened Homer's Iliad and very quickly became bored with Butler's prose translation. Recently, I went through Hutchin's intro to the set, The Great Conversation, and scanned the Syntopicon. I have to agree with Dwight Macdonald that there's a stuffy academic air about both of their writings. Alder's the kind of guy that wrote, "I love you with all the passions attendant thereto." It's not something you are likely to find on a Halmark Valentine's card. Adler was ambitious in the pursuit of making an Encyclopedia of ideas and perhaps too much of it is simply "Adler's Annotated Top 2,987 Ideas." But I don't fault him for the attempt.

"There's a material world, and there's an immaterial world. Both worlds exist, but in different ways. For example, chairs exist. So does the idea of chairs."

"Well...yeah, but...I mean, everybody's imaginations are separate, aren't they? I mean, everyone has their own private mental space..."

"Of course they do. Just like their house is their own private physical space. But the territory outdoors belongs to everyone."


"But what about ideas? Why do some people have better ideas than others?"

"Ideas grow like flowers here. Some are common ideas, found everywhere...But if you want rarer ideas, the more exotic blossoms, you have to travel further. Artists, philosophers...they're the pioneers of these territories."

-Alan Moore, Promethea #5

For Alan Moore's Immateria, Aristotle's final cause not only exists, but almost eliminates the need for efficient cause. James P. Hogan's Entoverse shares similarities even though it's coming from the Virtual Reality side of things. Virtual Reality just happens to be a major theme of the short story I'm going to write (No, really. I will write the thing!). While James doesn't dither much from the sci-fi fixings, Moore tends to blend everything into what he writes. There's Jungian overtones all over the place in Promethea. For all that Moore packs into his work, it doesn't seem forced. This is not something I can say for The Second Renaissance part 1. I have nothing against the quality of the animation, but Andy and Larry Wachowski's writing is flaccid, derivative, crap. Granted, The Matrix was more style than substance, but it seems the brothers can't keep it up. A Shame. It's also a shame Moore won't work in film, but as long as he's writing anything I'm happy.

Isn't it strange how we juxtapose between sci-fi and fantasy like the past and the present?

All human errors are impatience, a premature breaking off of methodical procedure, an apparent fencing-in of what is apparently at issue.

-Franz Kafka

My first reaction to this left-right circle-jerk is that it gives the appearance of a good idea without offering much use to anyone but the participants and not likely all of them either. There are always going to be questions left unanswered for one reason or another. The trend seams to be for entrenching your position rather than seek common ground, pot shots rather than bipartisan plots. I have lost hope of injecting any sense into the State power's position on pre-emptive slaughter. It's far too easy to strike out of fear than wait for inspectors to make all the weapons of mass dispersal disappear.

I don't want to fall into the Lileks trap and loose touch with my sense of humor or so taint the text of this place with political prose to inspire all but the groupies to leave here in droves. I dare not continue to so frequently care about certain issues or come under threat of authority abuse.

The current political climate is poisonous to personal ties. I stumbled in like a fool and didn't know to just let it drop. I blame the headache from hell. I stopped myself from commenting here or here. It's clear there's a myopic focus on the negative that derails civil correspondence so why try? Because the more we circle the wagons the more we close out any decent chance we have of challenging our views. We'll become caught up in a self-congratulatory echo chamber that can only increase in volume until we can't hear anything remotely contradictory to the party line.


It's good to get good news. E's legal battles are finally over. The good guys won! Sometimes winning involves merely getting back in the saddle. Sometimes it means just surviving. Speaking of which, my father had his hip replacement surgery today and it went without complications.

As my friend told me a little while back before heading off to the Keys, "I want to ride this wave as far as I can." So I find out he's getting married and both my brother's families are expecting new arrivals. I'm kind of speechless about it all like it's my brother's wedding all over again. There I discovered I don't handle speaking to crowds well at all. Don't give me a mic and put me in front of a couple hundred people. It's not pretty. Maybe it's something I can work on, but I'd like to procrastinate away that self-improvement program indefinitely.

I can handle this textual territory just fine. I plan on posting again this week with pictures from the trip and a few attempts at humor. Until then, here's a MP3 that captures the spirit of playing games like Counterstrike, Quake, etc.

02.06.2003

It's impossible to awaken someone who is pretending to be asleep.

- Navajo proverb

So, what's a vacation when you are unemployed or "wage-challenged"? When you happen to have access to a faster web connection than where you live, it's an opportunity to splurge surf. After all, my skin can't handle too much exposure to Florida's rays. I need to ration my sun ray soaking.

I came across another article tracking the growing stench wafting from Mall-Wart. Certainly, they can't expect us to believe that this gap happens by random chance? One only has to look around to see that this problem remains a significant challenge to business throughout the world.

I find it amazing how sexist ignorance can stay so stagnant in the business world that often claims to be so modern and quick to adapt. The boy's clubs - what better indicator of stunted intellect and fear than the desire to belong to a group exclusive to one sex (Except for women going to exclusive health clubs to avoid persecution from perverted males) - of old still stand throughout the land like stubborn stains. Fear is another word for ignorance and they hold on to it tighter than their Viagra prescriptions. I can understand the saturation of sophomoric stuff in certain industries. It comes from either an attempt at humor or simple desperation.

When attacking the long standing tradition of sexism, feminists went to the roots and attacked the very language that we use. Of course, being an activist does not make one a linguist. From this assumption of linguistic ability they birthed that horrid crutch on communication known as politically correct speech in the pursuit of a non-sexist language. Activists for other causes adopted the PC way and made certain words more racist, sexist, etc. than they ever were before. Even worse, polite folks had to constantly worry about new "bad" words that would offend newly sensitive ears. Apparently, the childhood rhyme, "sticks and stone will break my bones, but names will never harm me." ignored the vast emotional harm that words caused. I guess our ancestors were made of firmer stuff. But for the most part, the attack was centered on the general or inclusive use of "he" and "man".

Old Persian, like Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit, had the original Indo-European genders of masculine, feminine, and neuter. By Middle Persian all gender had disappeared. This was not the result of Persian feminist criticism, nor was it the result of the evolution of an equal opportunity society for women. It just happened -- as most kinds of linguistic change do. Modern Persian is a language completely without gender. There are not even different words for "he" and "she," just the unisex un. (There are not even different titles for married and unmarried women: Persian khânum can be translated as "Ms.") Nevertheless, after some progress under Western influence, the Revolutionary Iran of the Ayatollah Khomeini retreated from the modern world into a vigorous reëstablishment of mediaevalism, putting everyone, especially women, back into their traditional places. So the advice could be: If someone wants "non-sexist language," move to Iran. But that probably would not be quite what they have in mind.

Why didn't the "gender free" Persian language create a feminist utopia? This goes to show us that gender in language is completely irrelevant to the sexual openness of society. And one of the greatest ironies for us is that a feminist attempt to produce a gender free "non-sexist language" in English could only be contemplated in the first place because grammatical gender has already all but disappeared from English. Feminist complaints must focus on the meaning of words like "man," even though words can mean anything by convention, because the pronouns "he," "she", and "it" are all that remain grammatically of the three Indo-European genders. Getting gender to disappear in German or French or Spanish (etc.), on the other hand, would be a hopeless project without completely altering the structure of the languages [note]. Occasionally feminists say that they are personally offended by people referring to ships or aircraft as "she"; and manuals of "non-sexist" language usually require that inanimate objects be "it" without exception. Good luck in French. Since every noun is either masculine or feminine, not only would this feature have to be abolished, but an entirely new gender, the neuter, presumably with new pronouns, would have to be created. Then there would have to be decisions about words like livre, which is differentiated into two words by gender alone: le livre is "book," from Latin liber, while la livre is "pound," from Latin libra. French doesn't even have English's happy refuge from inclusive "he" in "they," since you still have to decide in the third person plural between ils and elles. Only on ("one") allows for a gender free (or common gender) pronoun, just as "one" does in English.

-Kelly L Ross Ph.D., Against the Theory of "Sexist Language"

There is no linguistic behaviorism since what we say is a mere fraction of what we think. Even the most creative and lexicon-leaden among us come to a loss of words. The words we use defy singular meaning. In speech their meaning changes with the way they are said. We don't need to be politically correct as much as we need to be logically correct. Maybe I'm just running off the good vibe left after watching the rather drawn-out, but still decent movie, The Majestic, last night. I can't help but draw a natural line from the committee on un-American activities to the Patriot Act. While I do feel the tug of emotion that drives such foolish actions, I am driven by a keen sense of logic.

I was in a conversation recently about the tradition of the bride taking the husband's last name. I don't know if this tradition is inherited from patriarchy. By having someone adopt a common family name it offers the children some reprieve from having to sign both names. Their children are thus saved from adding their future spouses to the name list and so on. So approaching this, if I dare say, logically, when two parties enter a contract like marriage they give something to the group. In marriage, a man gives his name and a woman gives her children. Now I'm not saying that the woman's name is any less of a thing, but the man's role in childbirth is certainly less. So if the man can't carry the children in the womb, perhaps the children could carry his name.

I know that I am foolish to even consider applying logic to tradition. But I am often at odds with the world. They say that women have sex to get love and men love to get sex, but I find it impossible to not want both. We want journalists to be purely objective without ever being so ourselves. We want our children to understand and be successful in life, but often hide from them the very things that define it.

An awareness of contradictory forces within me is growing. Plus, there's nothing like long road trips with a parent to dredge up the past. Despite my claims of a steadfast grip on logic, I suffer from a strong sense of guilt. Now, I was never abused as a child, I deserved any spankings I got. My mother told me that when she was still pregnant with my brother Dan - so I was under 4 years of age - I had done something spank-worthy. Afterwards, I crept into her room to utter meekly, "I'm sorry I made you hit me." This really upset her and she said that I was always a good check to her actions - she did the same to me. One more example among the many is when I was about 10 and my uncle gave me five dollars with the words, "Now don't spend it all in one place." Yes, I went to the store across the street from my old school (Haugan) and spent it all there. I was so upset when I realized what I had done that I clearly remember it today.

This sense of overriding guilt and logic is why I have a tough time with religion. Politics doesn't come any easier. I have a problem with labels, but latitudinarian comes close. I don't fathom how so many can countenance being called conservative or liberal and by way of inference be labeled Republican or Democrat when each position is inherently antagonistic to dynamic individualism. Dynamic individualism can't possibly be satisfied with the concessions required for party affiliation. It seems more American to stand independent.

It's probably obvious that the actions of Republicans annoy me the most even though they impose on privacy as much as the Democrats that I'd almost call myself Libertarian in spite. Their joint support of the useless drug war, inability to curb corruption within their ranks, and unwillingness to reel in corporate greed defies my efforts to distinguish between them. I also don't know what I find more obscene; the charges of moral relativism of liberals or conservatives spitting on the Constitution by trying to put religion into government at every opportunity. For their identical nature take Democratic hopeful for 2004 presidential race, Senator Joseph Lieberman.

There have been a wide range of government policies facilitating the rise in executive compensation over the last two decades, which were supported by both parties. For example, when the Financial Accounting Standards Board wanted to require that firms list the cost of stock options as an expense against profits, Senator Joe Lieberman led the charge to stop the proposal. This has allowed firms to dramatically overstate their profits on their financial statements, even while they deduct the cost of stock options for tax purposes. Due to a lack of effective oversight, CEOs are often able to write themselves a blank check. This leads to an economy characterized by fraud and outright theft. The disparities between the money CEOs get and what the average worker gets have steadily been increasing -- 1965: 20 to 1; 1978: 29 to 1; 1991: 56 to 1; 1999: 107 to 1.

- Dean Baker, Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research

Then there's his long-term campaign of idiocy that blamed Hollywood for violence in society and as harmful to youth. While there are signs he has hypocritical about it. I don't think he's gotten any smarter. Like Donahue his motivations are likely to be less about children and more about money or votes/ratings. Adjusting for the increased amount of people on the earth today, violence has not done anything but decrease. Anyone with even half a brain knows that they have never been compelled to depart from their peaceful ways after watching a movie, watching a TV show, seeing a play, listening to music, reading a book, or playing a video game. Violence came from within or was brought to you by your neighbor, who came about it in the same way. Yes, there are people prone to violence and become more violent when exposed to stimulus. This stimulus is so generic as to include foods like sugar or beer. It could even come about from unwanted exposure to Michael Bolton music. Holier-than-thou, busy-body numb-nuts like Lieberman are not going to stop these hooligans from getting their daily dose of ultra-violence. In fact, they are going to drive the chaos-crazed cretins to the streets to seek their satisfactions on other citizens when the substitutes of video games, movies, and music are not easily obtained. But what does Lieberman care tucked away in his gated community of paranoid purity poseurs?

You can probably see why I wasn't too upset that I missed my chance to vote in the last election. Tipper Gore is Lieberman with a dress. Al is Bush lite; less personality, more flake. The only difference Al would make in office is that his economic stimulus package would favor a different type of rich white asshole. We'd see tax breaks for plastic surgery and internship programs.

It looks like we are going to try and give Saddam the boot. We have to finish the job this time no matter how many Iraqi weapons suppliers we have to go through. I hear that the 2003 model smart bombs can take out Dupont's corporate offices without setting off the car alarms in the parking lot. After all, if these guys are willing to sell to Iraq, who's to say they won't sell or have been selling to North Korea, etc. I was kidding myself to think that this government could handle anything without calling for war. So what if Afghanistan doesn't show much promise as a future democracy and Iraq is like their bigger, badder brother. So what if it will increase terrorism and make the nation on-deck nervous, we've got a pre-emptive hard-on and we either use it or lose it. I know Dick is rigid on this. Bush is quivering with anticipation and Colin is behind them all the way.

It's important to be in touch with your sense of humor while people in power presume your best defense is bypassing the Bill of Rights. You have to ignore reality and pretend that certain policies were in effect and certain economies effective. You have to have an active imagination.

If we had a relationship with al-Qa'ida and we believed in that relationship, we wouldn't be ashamed to admit it ... We have no relationship with al-Qa'ida.

- Saddam "The Bombed" Hussein

Saddam has tried flowers, chocolate-covered grenades, and even fulfilled al-Qa'ida's Amazon wish list. It really hurts so close to Valentine's.

01.28.2003

I would just like to say that I think the universe is underrated. I think the galaxy - people don't pay attention enough to the galaxy and the rest of the universe. Humans are obsessed with the Earth. And I think that's narrow-minded.

-Steven Wright, Seattle Times interview.

I feel safer already. It's such a simple little speech, but rife with stuff that behooves dissection.

We've learned that vast oceans no longer protect us from the dangers of a new era.

So our government simply forgot about how the attack on Pearl Harbor had shattered this illusion. Is he saying that our protection against terror up until 9/11 was purely water-based?

The Department of Homeland Security will lead a comprehensive and unified effort to defend this nation. The Department will analyze threats; guard our borders and airports; safeguard critical infrastructure and coordinate the response of our nation to future emergencies.

Let me get this straight. Rather than simply making it a priority for all government agencies to cooperate on security strategies and initiatives regarding these threats, they will now have to go through a new layer of bureaucracy. Riiight. This is really gonna work.

Under the leadership of Tom Ridge, more than 170,000 dedicated Americans, dedicated professionals, will have the overriding mission of protecting their fellow Americans.

So this department of the doubly dedicated have an "overriding mission" to defend us. This colossal waste of money for the appearance of safety seems to be the lesser of two bad ideas. The John Poindexter pipedream of Total Information Awareness is the other. TIA at least would be a cheaper waste. Let's face it, each of 12 listening posts gets 2 million communications per hour. That comes to about 500 million hours everyday. The needle in the haystack story doesn't scale. SETI@home will bring us little green men before they find out which sex chatline Osama uses.

Terry has a point. He has quite a few actually. When politics is put into pedestrian terms it becomes clear how cavalier the behavior of Bush is. This attitude has seeped into the much of the way the media handles opposition to the war.

...Garofalo, who works with the group Win Without War, says the media are not only condescending but suggest she doesn't care about the country.

CNN's Leon Harris wondered about her reaction to critics who say that she and her fellow activists "aren't patriotic Americans."

ABC's Robin Roberts asked: "Do you feel at all a risk with your career, especially after September 11th, that anything that you do is considered unpatriotic?"

CNN's Connie Chung asked about American soldiers: "Don't you feel a bit of responsibility in the sense of being supportive of them?"

That question, says Garofalo, "was so silly that it actually had me flummoxed. If you are in the antiwar movement, you obviously don't want the troops to be hurt."

When it comes down to putting our kids into harm's way I don't think anyone is relishing the notion. Exploring options thoroughly is paramount! The spotlight is on Iraq. How they could manage anything is nigh inconceivable. In fact, the biggest threat to our security is our greed. Those that would supply Iraq with the means of war are the enemy. The fact that this list is incomplete means that people in our government are involved. There is no other reason why we should not know every damn company that puts weapons in Saddam's hands. BUSH is proposing war because Saddam is not fessing up to weapons we sold him.

The people that are going to die have joined the military out of their own free will. They are among our best and brightest boys and girls and are willing to lay down their lives for us. I fucking want to kick every hawk's ass for saying they are impatient with the inspections. I mean, God Damn, why can't the killing start now!? Everyone on EARTH knows Iraq has no fucking chance-EVER! It's like that school bully that takes your hand and hits you with it while saying, "Why are you hitting yourself?" But just like the Superbowl, you can't stop the other team from scoring a few hits.

Shit, sorry. Just gotta get it out of my system sometimes.
GOOOOOOOOD MORNING BLOGISTAN!

Golden Finger Robin Williams of the Web - John of Linkworthy

I support all efforts of subverting Internet idolatries. My lack of design sensibilities is a deliberate effort to undermine my popularity. Ummm, no really!

If anyone is still interested in peering at my pathetic poetic postings, they can find one here. I wrote one today in about the same amount of time (5 minutes or so) so don't count on it being great.

Preserving the peace through war
Staying a virgin by being a whore
Keeping you safe by knocking down your door

What was black is turning white
What was Left is turning Right
They say, "Hey Idiot! Our only choice is to fight!"

The enemy is hidden but remains in sight
The enemy is hidden but remains in sight
To feed the world with fundamentalist fright

The next two weeks I will be in Florida. I will take pictures. I plan on writing too.

The Nelson Algren awards are for short fiction. Submissions must be written by an American and must be unpublished. One $5,000 prize and three runner-up prizes of $1,500 are awarded. The award is given in memory of Chicago author Nelson Algren. Stories must be typed and double-spaced, between 2,500 and 10,000 words. Manuscripts will not be returned. Author's names should not appear on the manuscript. Authors are allowed to submit two entries. Authors should enclose a cover sheet with name, address, phone, and title of entry. There is no entry fee. The competition will begin accepting entries November 5, 2002. Entries must be received by February 28, 2003.

I'm going to give it a try. Check it out, if you want to try and steal it from me. Maybe soaking up the vibes from the Hemingway house in Key West will give me a creative boost.

01.23.2003

There appears to be an innate human tendency to underrate the capacity of those who do not belong to "our" group. Those who do not share our background cannot have our ability. Foreigners, people who are in a different economic status, and the young seem invariably to be regarded as intellectually backward, and constitutionally so, by natives, people in "our" economic status, and adults.

-Robert Maynard Hutchins, The Great Conversation p45-6

All the sentiment spread about from MLK day got me thinking about how it seems we're backsliding as a nation. Maybe it's just a mistake to ever turn on Fox New's fair and balanced coverage. That they claim this while the show's host refers to the war protesters as "peaceniks" is an insult to the viewer. Truth be told, Donahue is sensationalist slut that should have stayed retired. Hardball is simply an obnoxiously pointless oral wankfest for every painful minute that it's on. Connie Chung is so stunningly fake in every gesture and word she exhibits that I suspect she's really at home while the network tries out its latest S1MONE prototype. And every talk show from Oprah to Jerry stinks of every single fart-soaked couch that their audiences sit in day after day for episode after episode of families flaunting their freakish infidelities or tear-jerking tragedies.

The commercials that fill the gaps of all this crap have sunk lower still. Taste is second to the cheap joke and the product is something above all other concerns. Phone commercials are the stars of sleaze because they hire sleazy stars. At first it was just a trickle, but now the floodgates have opened for celebrity appearances in TV ads. Aspiring stars have to count on the odd condom commercial to pay the rent while they still seem too low for these celebrity whores. Even Samuel is sick of seeing rappers star in flicks rather than new actors. I cringe every time I see Jordan hocking Hanes. The worst has come lately in this tag-less campaign. Are people so crippled that they can't remove the damn tags themselves if they don't want them? It's as simple as whispering "Zoom, Zoom." for the umpteenth time to make me leave the room.

All this crap choking truth from eyes and ears, to be stuffed instead with lies and fears. Where's a body to seek the answer? It is from old and evil men dying of cancer?

Fundamentally, the founding fathers of U.S. intelligence were liars. The better you lied and the more you betrayed, the more likely you would be promoted. These people attracted and promoted each other. Outside of their duplicity, the only thing they had in common was a desire for absolute power. I did things that, in looking back on my life, I regret. But I was part of it and loved being in it. . . Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, Carmel Offie, and Frank Wisner were the grand masters. If you were in a room with them you were in a room full of people that you had to believe would deservedly end up in hell. I guess I will see them there soon.

- James Angleton from Joseph Trento's, Secret History of the CIA.

What of Robert McNamara who's friend says he "he bleeds inside for deeds done in Vietnam". McNamara asks, "Might war--especially Great Power war--be relegated, perhaps like slavery, to a cruel and primitive past?" Perhaps it's too much for the typical American to form the proper question? Is it too hard to cut through the confusing layers of empty theories posing as near truths and ill-defined imminent threats begging to be beat down by a multi-billion dollar war machine. It's no wonder we need such grand efforts to figure out our role in the world.

Globalization, far from spreading peace, thus seems to foster conflicts and resentments. The lowering of various barriers celebrated by Friedman, especially the spread of global media, makes it possible for the most deprived or oppressed to compare their fate with that of the free and well-off. These dispossessed then ask for help from others with common resentments, ethnic origin, or religious faith. Insofar as globalization enriches some and uproots many, those who are both poor and uprooted may seek revenge and self-esteem in terrorism.

- Stanley Hoffmann

Mr. Hoffman's essay puts globalization under the microscope in a fairly brief matter. The suggestion that globalization and the American media influence terrorism makes me wonder when we'll see the commercial suggesting the next time we watch one of Jerry's cinematic fellatios to American jingoism we're supporting the terrorists!

There's the idea of the ideal modern citizen--intelligent, healthy, compassionate, informed, tolerant--created by the fruits of globalization and yet is put at odds with its implementation in the same way that state power is increased and yet subverted by it. Many of the positive factors championed by people like Friedman only come about when all parties cooperate throughout the whole process for the mutual welfare of all parties. Such a thing barely exists anywhere on the planet and is why game theory has become the prominent science that it is. No doubt this is helped by John Nash getting the spotlight. In areas where it would seem intelligent programmers would have a better understanding about the importance of cooperation we still have conflict. E's recent cave in for cross-browser compliance touches on the frustrations of web designers brought about by competitive practices. The position of the web designer is analogous to a small country trying to adapt to the shifting global marketplace. It is imperative that the country learns the process of the prominent player (USA/Microsoft) and the other entities (Europe, Asia, Africa, etc/Netscape, Mac, Opera, Palm, etc.). This gives a significant advantage to multi-national corporations and allows them to exploit these countries labor forces and natural resources. It is not hard to find a web programmer with a story about working long hours for little money. The stories become more common everyday. The disparity between knowledge and pay is becoming so pronounced in the web workplace that it bears a chilling similarity to the sweatshops of globalization. From purely an intellectual level, the juggling of code of different browsers' versions and the placation of perfection-minded managers seems easier than stitching together Nikes in unsavory spaces.


If I finish this tonight, today is the 30th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision. I have to hand it to E, he puts it perfectly. I so resisted saying anything about the Sanctity of Life Day by Bush. Now seems a good time to share my thoughts. That a man can be against abortion and for capital punishment suggests a strange interpretation of "sanctity" to me. If Bush has a different meaning for one word, I wonder what different meanings he has for others. These issues are not as separate as some might like them to be. There is no cut-off date for caring about people if you presume to hold life precious. It doesn't end when cute kid grows up to be a convict or even worse, a congressman. The argument suggesting abortion denies the right to life of the unborn ignores the condemned their right to seek redemption in life. On the question of where human life begins, I assume it's somewhere on the B.C. side. Finally, the father's rights begin only after birth. It is his responsibility to know the mother's stance on the issue and act accordingly (Mr. Pro-life, keep it in your pants for a second and ask, moron!).


The mind's ability to rationalize its own shortcomings is unlimited...

- Robert A. HeinLein Stranger in a Strange Land

I've finally read my first Heinlein. Stranger is a fine bit of fiction. It feels strange reading something with such sensibilities today. It gives stories like this an odd vibe. All that's missing is the sex, which David mistakenly mixed with guns. He also one-upped the sexual taboos by thinking he could follow biology and have sex just after puberty rather than merely sex with mature "water brothers."

Now I'm not into having sex with immature people and sometimes that eliminates people older than me. I do find it fascinating how the age of consent laws seem to be raising the bar. Is it a sign of social progress that we find our kids less fit to cope with sex? Could it be that society has been trying to put sex in a box and it hasn't worked? So now desperate parents and religious activists have turned to legislation to keep kid's hormones under control. Some of the factors attributed to the sexual predators of children stem from isolation from their peers. This makes the Internet a haven for them. To me it screams for more education as the solution. Knowledge of the facts of life is an essential tool for coping. Maybe the rush to grow up is part and parcel to the sense that they will gain this special knowledge denied to them by their parents and teachers by performing the acts of adulthood.

Contrariwise, the unceasing rush of human existence came not from mathematical necessities of time but from the frantic urgency implicit in human sexual bipolarity.

- Robert A. HeinLein Stranger in a Strange Land

Heilein is firm in his belief that the male-female split of humanity is the secret to our success and our happiness. That man and women separated by a very real and complex physiology can agree to accept each other on equal grounds and even develop something like love is the most powerful idea ever conceived. It appears that biology/evolution has contributed something to the emergence of love.

The centrality of these subjects to Symons's book derives from two facts about female sexuality today. The first is that women experience orgasms though the females of almost no other animal species do, so far as is presently known. The second is that human females, unlike the females of any other species, are sexually receptive at all times, that is, that sexuality has been separated from reproduction, as it has not been in human males. The experiencing of orgasms by human females virtually alone among mammals seems to suggest that the sexuality of women and men may not differ substantially.

-Carl N. Degler on Donald Symons's Evolution of Human Sexuality

If the complexity of maintaining a decent relationship these days seems daunting at best, then maybe it's a good idea to understand how what we put into our bodies can determine how we put out.

Where a woman chooses her partner while she is on the pill, and then comes off it to have a child, she may find she is married to the wrong man.

- Tony Little

It might be a little hard to swallow.


I have felt that my blog reading has been a little limited for some time. Not only in the sites I link, but the fact that I only link so few. I'm been expanding the reading list and spotted some things that caught my interest or at least prompted me to respond-even belated as it is.

I came across this entry on Hormonal Bitch. Since I'm been blabbing about biology it's at least a half-assed segue. She's talking about the lovefest that swept through parts of blogland a week or so ago. Naturally, being meme-resistant I uttered not a peep. I'd like to comment on some of her hates of the blogging world.

*People that are so very popular and so busy that they can't bother to read other blogs, let alone post comments. Yes, I read all those "A-List" and "I'm not on the A-List" posts a few weeks back. The biggest problem with the A-Listers is they seem to be above the regular public. My challenge to them would be to search out some new blog reads and find something nice to say about a newbie.

I know that bitching is a fun activity, but surely the whole A-list crap has been all bitched out. People who are thought to be A-list bloggers have little say in the matter. It's certainly not their amazing content that pushes them to the top as much as having been in the right place at the right time and managed to link to the right people when it mattered. The next wave of A-listers got to the top by appealing to the political perversions of the time. In many ways, this requires a desire to speak about politics everyday, in great length, and with superior vitriol. A task that leads many to believe that the "A" stands for "asshole," "attitude," or more often simply "absurd." I don't think they have the time to say anything about newbies except for the few eager souls that help them scan the news sites for articles supporting their worldview.

*Oh! I know another one! Those people who spew on their blogs but then criticize others for doing the same. You know, they bitch about people, but if you dare make a post that might apply to them, then they are on you like "white on rice" criticizing you for what you wrote.

I need to bitch about more people, because the few that I do bitch about either don't take me seriously (Which is the proper way to take it most times too. So maybe I need to be more serious?) or simply never respond (thus denying the sacred essence that all online webfolks thrive on, validation).

Those are the points I had something to say about. I looked at a few other places. I saw that Anil decided to share his feelings about diamonds. It's something I've felt ever since the subject found its way on Metafiler and I found the feeling resurface after seeing some of the celebrities at the Golden Globes strutting around with rocks on.

Speaking About the Golden Globes--sticking to one topic is not in my nature--I have to mention that other professions do celebrate their best in slightly different forms, like the Nobel Prize. It seems apropos that Hollywood has such a gaudy, meaningless spectacle. It's even more fitting that they have many of them! After all, the requirements for acting are the ability to manage stage fright, the ability to show a range of emotions, and the ability to pretend. These are all nice talents, but don't deserve the public fawning that they get. It's merely a mirror to our own obsession with beauty and fantasy. I find it amusing how much coverage of these events is what people wear to them. You'll never hear about what some Nobel winner wears. In fact, an embarrassing relevation about A Beautiful Mind is that Nash never made a speech for his prize.

Going back to Faith's site just now--I see I missed getting this in on the Roe vs. Wade day--I noticed that the Bloggies have another scandal on their hands. It's something that surely should put the poor puppy to rest. Good intentions do not always make good ideas. I have to say that while I don't share much in common with Michele's views, I have a lot of respect for her to do this.


I'll be leaving for Florida next Tuesday. I'll be gone for about two weeks. I've pretty much abandoned the thought of living down there for now. There are several factors going into my decision, like being around to help my Dad after his hip replacement surgery. I might write something in the meantime.

01.11.2003

History, unendingly revised and reinterpreted, is seen upon examination as merely a different class of fiction; becomes hazardous if viewed as having any innate truth beyond this. Still, it a fiction we must inhabit. Lacking any territory that is not subjective, we can only live upon the map. All that remains in question is whose map we choose, whether we live within the world's insistent texts or else replace them with a stronger language of our own.
The task is not unthinkable. There are those weak points on the borderlines of fact and fabrication, crossings where the veil between what is and what is not rends easily. Go to the crossroads, and draw up the necessary lines. Make evocations and recite barbaric names; the Gorgo and the Mormo. Call the Dogs, the spirit animals, and light imaginary fires. Walk through the walls into the landscape of the words, become one more first-person character within the narrative's bizarre procession. Make the real a story and the story real, the portrait struggling to devour its sitter.

- Alan Moore, Voice of the Fire, p310

It is hard to ignore the suffering and injustice that could be prevented by what we are reminded again and again as the greatest of nations. We inch closer towards the final phase of our 10+ year Iraq war. Sure we had an intermission of sorts, but they have been bombed by both Clinton and GWB while the sanctions have kept them in an economic vise grip. The only difference is in degree. After all, we use war to describe our anti-drug efforts, crime, and any number of social concerns. We wrangle over what to call what we are doing. Directness in speech died long before "collateral damage" came along. Now we have "regime change." Saddam has to go. He should have been gone a long time ago, but we are Sylvia Scythia Stout when it comes to taking this kind of garbage out. Since we put him there we know just how bad he is. Since we sold him weapons, we know he has them. Saddam even kept the receipts in the form of that report which never materialized in its full form to the public.

No sense in embarrassing ourselves. No sense in going over how we let him stay in power after kicking him out of Kuwait. No sense in making it clear that by doing that all the deaths, all the torture, and all the violence was entirely acceptable to us. No sense thinking about how we embraced the Taliban for their anti-drug efforts while turning a blind eye towards their treatment of women. No sense in how we never talk about how so many African leaders buy weapons rather than feed their people-we know the North Korean leader does so only because he wants the bomb. No sense wondering why we help South Americans deal with drug cartels made powerful by our addictions/prohibitions buy giving them weapons to kill each other and poisons to spread over their lands. No sense at all.

I understand why we are going after Iraq. The history is pretty clear on this. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, they gained control of 1/5th of the world's oil. Not quite enough to be upset about, except for the fact that they could slip down the cost of Saudi Arabia and get 40% of the world's supply. This is the threat that led to war. Saddam was too greedy. Gordon Gecko is an American role that tolerates no understudy.

We tolerate a bit more greed from democratic nations. It certainly has worked well for Israel. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez might not be greedy enough.

"Just because Chavez has twice been elected President by the largest margins in Venezuela's history, and just because his government has twice the number of elected representatives that its opponents have, that does not mean it can go around passing any legislation it wants."

-Terry Jones

I have never, ever seen anything close to a reasonable rationale for Israel to not be a good neighbor to the Palestinians since the beginning. Land, dirt, and lines on a map were seen as more precious than life. Maybe the religious thing was the kicker that made it kosher to kick Palestinians out.

Think of all the ongoing conflicts involving religion: India versus Pakistan, Russia versus Chechnya, Protestants versus Catholics in Northern Ireland, Muslim guerrillas in the Philippines, bloody clashes between Christians and Muslims in Indonesia and Nigeria, civil war in Sudan and Uganda and Sri Lanka... It's enough to make one nostalgic for the cold war -- as if the thin film of twentieth-century political ideology has been stripped away like the ozone layer to reveal a world reverting to seventeenth-century-style religious warfare, fought with twenty-first-century weapons. God changes everything.

-- Katha Pollit

I've struggled for some time to sort it out. I felt then and I feel now that the Palestinians are the most despised people on earth. It has taken many years, but they have achieved a culture of insanity based on an irrational doctrine of violence without restraint. To support that is obscene, but the treatment offered is indicative of a vengeful spirit. The cry for vengeance is distilled from a vast well of anger that distorts everything.

This distortion has become rather widespread by the looks of the large amount of linkers in the anti-idiotarian love lists that feature lapdogs like Lileks. He first baits his audience by declaring Martin Scorsese deliberately put his crew into dangerous working conditions to film Gangs of New York and then retracts it, mostly. Where is his screed about McWane's lack of concern for life? He mostly thinks that Martin doesn't even understand where gasoline comes from. I fail to find the smug prick style of Lileks funny anymore. His attacking of Martin wanting more diplomacy and less war makes me wonder where the sudden concern for the long term suffering of the Iraqi people comes from. What was he thinking when we left Saddam in place after Desert Storm and how Iraq never came up until the moment Bush decided he had no idea how resolve the I/P conflict? Why is Lileks so relieved Martin didn't go ad hominine on Bush's butt? Is Bush a sensitive subject? Is it that he finds it too easy to find fault with a man that walks and talks like he has the world by the balls and enjoys squeezing them until the blood flows between his fingers? Just don't call him stupid, because it would be an insult to stupid people.

George Bush. This illiterate buffoon cheated his way into the White House with the help of his well-connected family and friends. Having dismally failed to anticipate or prevent the atrocity of September 11, he spent the rest of the day zigzagging around the country like a jet-propelled chicken. His personal cowardice was mirrored in the country at large, and he fanned it to his advantage in the mid-term elections, and now, to foment an unprovoked war that has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with oil. His record on the environment is as appalling as you would expect. Bush is rightly despised throughout the world and it is humiliating that Britain is seen as his only ally.

-Richard Dawkins answer's UK Independent's question: "Who is your choice for villain of the year?"

I don't think we can change Iraq without going to war in the traditional sense of the term. Look at how well the embargo has handled Cuba. Saddam seems as smart as he is evil. I can understand why the Israelis might have assassinated Gerald Bull and why erecting a friendly government is the only way to lessen the threat of his legacy becoming realized. I find it even more sickening since I have some German blood in me that German companies would help Iraq build Superguns that would surely be aimed at Israel. Is it so hard to stop hating?

I don't give Israel much slack in the same way that I offer little to our own nation. We should know better. We are the example. What does something like the School of the Americas tell the world? It's that torture and killing are the means of governmental control. It's that the morbid music of their own suffering in screams and shouts is the means to surrender the soul of man to another man's authority. Yes, there is evil in the world. No, it is not going away no matter how much kum-by-yaing you do, but at least it will not increase evil. You can't say that about a lot of what we have done to fight it.

The biggest lesson that should have been learned from the 9/11 atrocity is that technology, military might, and all the money in the world doesn't mean shit. If we continue to disregard poverty, torture, and mass murder beyond our borders it will blow back in our face. If the average American citizen does anything to support terrorism, it is not driving an SUV or doing drugs. It is our greed. It is our apathy. It is not our need for oil. It is that we buy the oil from corrupt governments and don't pressure them to change. We can't expect the world to change for the better without us following suit. This is the challenge of our generation.

Out here barely see my breath
Surrounded by jealousy and death
I can't be reached only had one call
Dragged underneath separate from you all, you all

This time lost my own return
In spite of everything I've learned
I hid my tracks spit out all my air
Slipped into cracks stripped of all my cares, my cares

I'm so tired sheep are counting me
No more struggle no more energy
No more patient you can write that down
It's all too crazy I'm not sticking round

-Fugazi, "I'm So Tired" from the Instrument soundtrack

The sermon is over. You may resume your normally scheduled hatred. The resolution for real amelioration in my life is going to take some focus. Hardcore soul searching has been the theme of my thoughts for a while. I don't know if most families are that functional or dysfunctional as mine. It's so hard to keep people together these days all the way down to the surviving roots of the family tree. These increasingly modern times have widened the generation gap. Lincoln Logs are a long way from Pokemon which still a fair distance from Pac-Man.

I've spent over a year living at home with my dad. We've had other house guests of one species or another, but family-wise it's been just the two of us. This year Dad will be 64 and I will be 30. Our spheres of mutual interest are far and few between. I have learned a lot about patience. Not from his example, but as a survival technique for living with him, sanity intact.

The move from Wheaton is over. Our house of 13 years has new residents. The long and varied task of remodeling and repair is finally over too. Whew. There was painting, ceramic tile installation in three rooms, installing adhesive tile in the basement, installing a new roof on the house, making a new roof for the shed, fixing walls, sanding & staining the stairs, and the most nasty task of them all; removing mold from the attic ceiling. This required first spraying a bleach solution over the area-sacrificing at least one pair of shorts. Then I scraped the mold off with a wire brush for one miserable week. Finally, it took another week to spray on primer and paint.

When it had finally come time to move I realized how much stupidly heavy furniture was in the house, the garage, and in storage. While I had help and the use of a truck, it was another arduous task that took far longer than I had hoped. Unfortunately my father felt that he would retire out in Sandwich, a good 45 minutes away. It was the third day of the move that got to me. I had to get the truck, go to the house and load it, go to the new house and unload it, get lucky enough to unload another truck my Mother brought, take the truck back to Wheaton and finally drive back to Sandwich. I have moved almost everything that didn't belong in the garage inside now, but we have yet to even tap the storage shed. I really don't know where it is all supposed to go.

The thing is my Dad can't resist buying when the price is low. It matters little whether he needs it and even less that the item is even that useful. There's a large collection of records and VHS tapes as evidence. So what if the tape was a dollar and the record 58 cents. It's still paying to store junk. I must admit a kind of sick curiosity about some of the items. They promise such a frightfully bad experience that some might qualify in the "so bad they're good" category. Oh, but what a painful process of finding out!

Anyway, another resolution of mine is to try out new things with this site and to try out more things in general. It goes with the strong resolution to read and write much, much more. My ability to do that is dependant on a number of things, not the least of which is if I am to remain in Sandwich. I'm going down to Florida at the end of the month. I have not decided whether I'll stay. One of my brothers is down there with his wife and so are a couple of friends.

I could stay with my brother for a while, but I think I'm allergic to his dog. I can't really stay with my friends down there due to lack of space-at least until they find a better place with my help. There's another thing though. I doubt I'd be very productive if I stayed with them. I'd have a lot of fun, but I have been living in a kind of limbo for too long. When they were here it was far too easy to play games. One of them has the kind of personality of one of the characters in the movie Tape. Guess which. I'd like to think that I'm a good influence on him and that maybe now with his new girlfriend that he might now feel so compelled to pull for the party life. He's a lot like my brother, who has really changed his life around after going through some very troubled times.

That's the other thing. It's a lot harder to be single now that nearly all my friends have moved on. My usual response was to bury myself in work. Now I can't find any work worth that kind of commitment. You know how you when you sign up for cable they give you a premium channel free for a month? Well, it's HBO and before the only cable I was interested in was the kind that was always followed by "modem." So it's New Year's Eve. Dad has already succumbed to the Vicodin for his hip (the replacement surgery is set for Feb.) and is fast asleep. I find myself watching back to back episodes of Sex in the City. It was infinitely better than watching people celebrate. I've never really had a chance to see this show before, but I'm hooked. Not only am I hooked, but damn. I wanted to have sex with each female star; in the city, in the country, in the cab, in a boat, in a moat over green eggs and ham, wherever! And I was feeling that I'm just wasting my life away out in bumble-fuck Sandwich-or perhaps I was just wasted on V.S.O.P. Suffer the little brain cells.

Maybe now you're thinking one of my resolutions must be to write outrageously long rants that bleed into overly personal revelations about my television watching. Shit, I haven't even gotten to the movies I've seen lately, then there's the books I've read, and then amusing anecdotes I've collected during my brief stint of moving jobs. It's such a small faction of my life and thoughts that ever find their way to these pages. Being your own editor is like defending yourself in court: a fundamentally bad idea. So maybe it's best to end the entry without examining the entirety of my entrails.


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