Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Finally, some real discussion

Kucinich questions Bush's mental health

Apparently Dennis Kucinich is saying what the rest of us have thought all along. Going to war with Iran is a mind-bendingly stupid idea. Or maybe it's mental illness. But can it be mental illness if it's exhibited by the most powerful man in the world? Maybe there's some small wrinkle in the USA PATRIOT act that disallows this diagnosis, makes it impossible, makes it illegal.

I expect this will pass... bye, bye Dennis.

Taking a Poll

Last night at about 8:00 pm the phone rang. Caller ID indicated someone with an acronym for a name, but I answered it anyway. (Who am I fooling, I answer everything). A reasonably bright-sounding, and English-as-a-first-language sounding woman identified herself as calling for ABC news, and more or less started asking me questions. I think if she'd asked me if I wanted to take an opinion poll, I would have said no.

No matter, I started answering her questions. And in the process I learned something interesting. They don't really care what we think! They can't really process that. They ask questions that are pre-formed and which assume a huge agenda. There's no room to move when answering. They don't know that Ron Paul exists! The only way to indicate that I wasn't a xenophobe and would not immediately send all illegal aliens back to their country of origin was to say we should make them all pay a fine and apply for, and then wait for approval before we allow them to stay here. They wanted to know which candidates displayed "leadership and vision" and none-of-the-above was not an answer. They asked me to take Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani seriously. Ugggh. First they asked me what is my religion and then they asked me how often I attended church-- after I told them I was an atheist! I wouldn't tell them my combined household income.

I said I believed all of the Democratic candidates would lie to their mothers, but she didn't ask about the Republicans, who I believe would all lie to their mothers, then steal all their money, and ship them to nursing homes where they'd be tied to their beds until they died of bedsores.

We live in a time of an almost stunning disconnect between the world as it exists, and the world our politicians can deal with. Corporations (monopoly capitalism) and lawyers run this country, and any initiatives which would change that power structure are immediately squashed. Our health care system is broken beyond repair, but it can't be fixed because no one can stand up to an industry that gobbles up almost 20% of our total economy.

Too many people live outside the "system," because the system has become too exclusive. Intolerance and disrespect and inhumanity in the name of security and order are now the norm. Our government kidnaps and tortures people! Greed makes the economy work and intolerance makes the social system work. Right now our government is fighting terrorism by sending our military to the middle east and shooting up the place and killing children and grandmothers. This is not making us more secure from terrorists!

It's fine now, when the economy allows us to buy hiding places from the freaks, whackos, criminals, mental patients, and terrorists among us, but when something bad happens, look out! Greed-capitalism has taken away our character, and easily digested Christianity has taken away our moral foundation, and gated communities have taken away the need for us to live with our social mistakes.

And high interest revolving credit, mortgage debt, and high taxes have eaten away our flexibility to change anything. The law says if you have a couple of million dollars to spend on your defense team, you can literally get away with murder. It also allows Visa to charge 35% interest on credit card accounts that are past due. This isn't Elysium, it's Gomorrah.

All this I find quite disheartening. But I couldn't tell that to the ABC news poll. It's not what they wanted to hear. Pity.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Decisive

I was always impressed by decisiveness. People who were powerful and cool were always, somehow, decisive and confident. They didn't look around like a deer in the headlights and try and jump and skitter two different directions at once and whimper and breathe fast and try and figure out complicated and dangerous situations. They just acted. They had a theory, they had an action plan, and they had a solution. I was never, I thought, that way. I was the shrinking violet, scared of everything, whose mind raced at even the thought of danger. I'd practically hyperventilate about things.

Then I discovered being forty and tall and good-looking and well dressed and drunk could make me appear to be confident and decisive. The less I let on exactly what I was feeling, the more I seemed like my ideal role model. Others thought that too. I had arrived. I still seem that way-- sometimes even when I'm sober.

But I'm not-- confident, I mean. I see that now that I'm sober most of the time. All of my plans of action were shams. All my decisions (many of them, at least) were wrong. I'm not a deer in the headlights, but I'm unsure.

That is all.


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Monday, October 15, 2007

Satisfaction

I was taught not to celebrate the trials and afflictions of others, because someday it could happen to me. I guess there’s some important, hidden theological principle there. I don’t usually celebrate someone’s woe—heck I rarely notice someone else’s woe, because I have enough of my own, thank you. Today, however, at lunchtime, I went to the garage to get into my car, and beside me there was a silver Toyota Prius, which isn’t the usual vehicle that parks there. I know this because I park in the first-level “reserved” area of the garage, and I know who parks near me. Then I noticed there were some notes posted in the driver’s side window. One was hand written! Hmmm… I hopped out of the car and trotted around to see what was up, and lo and behold the note said “Don’t move your car, it’s been booted” and then I recognized the car as the same one who had taken my parking place a couple of weeks before. This was the same car that forced me to park all the way up at the fourth level after lunch, because he was in a hurry. At that time I asked the security people to “bazooka” the car, but Albion said when he went out to ticket it, the car was gone.

I shook my head, and probably had a smug, self-righteous look on my face as I headed back to my car, and at the same time realized the man and woman who were walking up the garage ramp were indeed headed to the silver Prius, and as I got into my car, he yelled to me, “hey, what were you doing there, by that car?” (as if it wasn’t his) and I said, “I noticed a hand-written sign in the window, so I got out to read it… Oh, it looks like you’ve been booted,” and closed the door of my car and, while the woman pattered on about, “oh, noooos, your car… blah, blah, blah,” I drove off. What a dipshit! He seemed like an intelligent, affluent, good-looking 50+ year old with a hot, denim clad, spiky-red-dyed-chopped-hair coiffed girlfriend (hmmm…), who had twice, in two weeks (at least) driven into the parking garage at noon and taken a reserved spot right near the entrance. Then he had the audacity to somehow believe I was messing with his car and ask me about it.

And the idiot got booted! I’m not celebrating. I’m not… well, maybe a bit.

What is it?

Was it the miraculous combination of humbuckers, whammy bar, soft stiff pick, Marshall stack and a shiny sunburst Strat that gave Vito Bratta the ability to cut underneath and up inside and in front of every hook in “Don’t Give Up”? It sounds like his fingers are all over the strings of that guitar—behind, beside, on top of, sliding up and down the strat’s neck, wringing a crying bend out of one chord, and then climbing back up the neck to simultaneously choke the last chord and urge a mighty but insouciant harmonic to give the vocal a bit of room to move. Grinding growling ascending arpeggios precisely juxtaposed onto descending key-changing highs that sound just right with the triplets traded with the rhythm guitar. What an amazing guitar performance! White Lion, album named “Pride,” 1980’s hair rock. So easy to dislike or dismiss without hearing, but listen to that song… those strong, sensitive fingers are so close to eliciting a guitar-gasm from that Stratocaster, and making her sing with growling, screaming energetic joy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What the heck are our legislators trying to do?

Holy cow! The Dems in Congress have finally found a cause! I know, for so long we'd never had the opportunity to express our outrage. But this pent up feeling for our close comrades the Armenians, and what they went through back in 1919 (it seems like just yesterday!) at the hands of those pesky Turkistanians just couldn't be allowed to fester any more. NO! No more!

So what we've decided to do, fellow Dems, is get all sanctimonious on them, and pass a non-binding resolution which will, once and for all, define the mysterious and sudden disappearance of approximately 90% of all the extant members of an entire nationality-- which we apparently didn't actually notice or spend too much time wringing our hands over at the time, or in any of the ensuing eighty-eight years-- as a genocide, darn it. Those Turkeys thought they could get away with it, but, well they're not going to now, dagnabb it, and we're plenty worked up about it now. So we're going to have a law. And anybody who doesn't agree is a durn genocidalist their self. So thur.

Our administration (not to put too fine a point on it) doesn't think this is a good thing, including Condoleeza:
"The passage of this resolution at this time," Rice said Wednesday, "would be very problematic for everything we are trying to do in the Middle East."

The bulk of U.S. air cargo and about one-third of the fuel headed for Iraq passes through Turkey, Gates said, and passage rights would very much be put at risk if this resolution passes. (from the International Herald Tribune)

This is perfect! We're so in bed with so many horrible people (Mussharaf in Pakistan, Gaddafi in Libya, all the various African "philosopher kings," and those fine upstanding democrats in Columbia and Peru and Costa Rica, and finally Turkey, who is a member of NATO), that the stain will never come off. But do we really want to "take a moral stand" right now? This is ugly and a lot like shooting ourselves in the foot.


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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Our president has the intellect of a potato!

OK, I've blogged about this previously (uggh, the blog entry is on MySpace, so I can't even link it here), and I said it then, and now, in a nearly identical scenario, the Bush Administration has done it again!

What have they done? This is what they've done. Quoting from CBS News:
According to the report, Rita Katz, who runs SITE, told The Post she turned the video over to the White House on the condition that it not be made public until the material was released on line by al Qaeda's own media wing.

Katz told The Post that by the afternoon of Sept. 7, the day she turned the video over to White House officials, it had been leaked and was appearing on myriad news Web sites and television networks around the world.

SITE claims the White House leak - the source of which had not been confirmed, according to the report - tipped al Qaeda off to the glitch that had been exploited for years by the company, rendering the practice useless for future intelligence gathering.

This is about a private firm who eavesdrops on Middle Eastern scuttlebutt. One assumes they're good at it, because they came up with a very useful item, viz the "pre-release" version of a video of Osama Bin Laden that was supposed to be released on the anniversary of Sept. 11th. President W and company, who are
  1. frankly desperate to keep people scared and edgy (i.e. easy to cow and agreeable to things like electronic eavesdropping, secret prisons, torturing prisoners to see if they're innocent, extraordinary rendition, national ID cards, identifying and repatriating aliens, that sort of thing), and

  2. frankly maintain a front office that's full of blonde totsies who are PR pros and re-election shills and fund-raisers.
Well, the enthusiastic staff jumped at the opportunity to air the video by the Middle Eastern Madman, and did so.

Unfortunately, they were told specifically not to do that, because it would put at risk an elaborate, expensive, and possibly dangerous intelligence gathering endeavor that took a long time and a lot of effort to put into place. The name of the organization is SITE, and I know nothing else about it, except that they're pissed off.

The White House thinks this stuff is something akin to industrial espionage-- where one company is trying secure an advantage by finding out the marketing plan for their competitor's products, or who the rival baseball team is planning to hire as a catcher for next season. Do we really want these guys to be in charge? How stupid can you be and still remember to breathe?

Or could this perhaps be PR from same SITE, Inc., perhaps as an excuse for their system not working? Are there really "private" espionage firms? Who are their customers? Could this be "news" that was seeded by the Democrats (or perhaps rival Republicans?), who have their own agendas? It makes visceral sense to me that the entire front-facing doorway to the Bush administration is run by PR people. And I know that if someone actually plucks Osama Bin Laden from his soiled and unlit rat hole in Pakistan, many people will be out of a job. Maybe, though, there's more to this story. I remember when it was possible to trust the media to sort out this kind of stuff. This story may disappear. Stay tuned.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

This is horrible!

Years ago I had a friend who kept tropical fish in a large, beautiful tank in his kitchen. One night we were having a party, playing cards at the kitchen table, and, because it was an old farmhouse, and had been sunny that day, there were flys kind of buzzing and dying on one or another of the windowsills. My friend grabbed a dying fly and tossed it into the tank. We all watched in enraptured fascination as the tiny fish slowly became aware of the fly buzzing on the surface of the water, and lazily swam up to take a look. One of the little tetras (or guppies, or whatever) took a small, curious nibble. Another fish closed in and nibbled too, and the next thing we knew, the little tertras had turned into the classic picture of a school of piranha. The fly was soon completely eaten, and several others had been caught and tossed into the tank. Now that the fish knew what that was, they darted directly for a fly buzzing at the top of the tank.

This was fascinating! The following weekend we gathered in my friend's kitchen again, to play cards. This time, though, the tank was off-limits. There were no fish in it! Where are the fish? I asked. And what happened is this-- when the fish had tasted live prey, they changed. They attacked each other. One by one, the fish disappeared. First they'd be seen with bites missing from their fins or their tails or their bellies. The next thing anyone knew, they were gone. When there were only two fish left, a young blue neon tetra with a massively chewed up tail, and the tiny, lazy shark who hung out at the bottom of the tank, and then the tetra disappeared, it was easy to see who had won. The owners disposed of the now feral shark (they'd all lived together in apparent harmony for several years before the live-flies-as-food incident), and my friends left the tank uninhabited for a few weeks before they started over. Fascinating.

So then I found this article in the New York Times, about how horrific rapes are becoming more and more common-- and much more brutal-- in East Congo over the last ten years. Apparently there are a large number of exiled Ugandan Hutu warrior bands (among the other armed and warring bands of marauders), who had participated in the slaughter of Tutsis in their country back in the early 1990's. And now they've become like those fish. They rape females as young as three and as old as eighty-one. They're horrible. It's a nauseating and incredible tragedy. Those who are perpetrating these crimes can barely be described as human. Violence isn't just a "one time" problem. It creates more violence. It has to stop, and the only way to stop it is by perpetrating more violence. People are really messed up. Uggh.

Fixture

I went out early this morning (well, early considering it's the Columbus Day holiday and I don't have to work) for an 8:00 am appointment with the Orthotist, to get an adjustment to my camouflage Robo-Cop ankle brace-- the left one, which was a little too tight on my instep-- and they were able to make the adjustment right there, while I waited. It was quick, simple, and it now feels great. In fact, my first impression was that the right one was now a little tight in the instep, but that's not so. They fit amazingly. I wish I'd gotten them, oh, maybe thirty fucking years ago, but I'm not thinking like that nowadays. They change the whole way I walk, for the better, and they're light and comfortable, even when I wear them all day. I even like to wear them while I'm sitting down, because they keep my ankles ppointing straight ahead under the desk, and they're less likely to feel fatigued that way. And, by transferring a lot of the work of walking to my quads and my back, they're using (and exercising and developing) some of my strongest muscles. Did I say I wish I'd gotten them years ago? Shit...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Leaving The Party Early

You see, the thing is I don’t really want to leave the party early, though I may have to because I drank too much, but I can’t really stand the idea of being the object of some surely juicy gossip, and I haven’t gotten to talk to everyone yet, and there are some snacks I haven’t tasted, and I expect the music and fun will continue well into the night, so I’m going to sit over here and work on getting my head and body together and hope that’s enough to keep me together and here at the party, which seems to just go on and on and on.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tender

Sometimes when I’m feeling tender, it’s easy to think to myself I’ve never gotten away with a damned thing my whole life. The roosters always seem to come home to roost. I’m always paying the piper. It works the other way too-- that the good things I have done are rewarded, eventually-- but I hate that feeling that every mistake I’ve ever made has finally, at some point, come back to bite me.

Emotional generalizations like this aren’t that useful, I think, nor are they “true” in any way besides emotionally. But damn, it’s easy to wonder if I’ll ever catch a break.

I Believe

I believe if an electronic instrument were developed that could focus down, down, down into the brain of a person-- focus on what's really going on there with some accuracy-- and record all the activity found there in high-definition video and Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound for later playback, that what we'd see when we'd adjusted the room lights and pulled our seats up close to the screen and adjusted the sound to a just-right level of balanced ultra-pure concentrated non-reflected sound pressure, is a bunch of squirting, burping, bleating, mewling thoughts, ideas, and brain cells engaged in a constant, busy, slightly bitchy wiggling and nestling and shoving match to get and stay warm and comfortable and feeling secure and close to the food and suspended in a bath of cerebro-spinal fluid, while avoiding the cold spots and any loud noises or bad smells or overly-bright lights, and the soundtrack pumped through those countless surrounding high-definition loudspeakers would reveal a multitude of tiny hums, belches, whistles, yelps, grunts, and endless chattering, arguments, nit-picking, lies, unfounded assertions, interrogatory chirps, and small, plaintive sighs.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Perched Above It All

From my perch seven stories above Monument Square, I can look down and see a lot of people walking by. There are pretty girls and students and businessmen (and women) and contractors and laborers and merchants and homeless people and tourists and politicians and mental patients flailing their arms and talking to themselves, newscasters and farmers and cops and just about every kind of people you can imagine in a small city. And one of the things I notice is how “marked” and broken so many people are. They’re limping, and using canes, and being helped by others, and riding in wheelchairs and using walkers and bent over and hobbling and taking mincing, tentative baby steps. Sometimes I feel lucky-- very lucky.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Winners and Losers

So I’m wondering if I live just long enough to finish paying child support, whether my ex-wife has actually won anything. She got my best years, and Lord knows she got plenty of money. The interesting thing is, now that I’m convinced my maladies are fatal, I don’t really care anymore.

Some people only survive by sucking the life out of others. They never get to experience how it feels to be blessed for their existence, or to work and struggle to earn it themselves. I feel nothing but pity (and a bit of revulsion) for them. They must always live in fear they won’t find another host. And their mouth will always be shaped like a lamprey’s, so once they bite on, they can hold on-- ugly, fearful, desperate… a parasite. Maybe I do care.

Strange Listening

Today I was walking out of work at lunchtime, and saw a young man with one of those foam sandwich boxes, and what appeared to be a matching white wire coming out of it, connecting the box to a pair of ear buds he was listening to. It looked like an iSandwich. There was lettuce sticking out the edges of the box, where the top closed over the contents. And smooth, white mayo. Mmmm...

Vivid

I was noticing this morning that ever since I got the horrible medical news on Thursday, my life and experiences and emotions feel much more vivid and crisp, and how cool and almost "coping manual" that was. And then it occurred to me, I haven't been drinking since then either. A coincidence? I'll let you be the judge. I frankly don't know. I will write more about it if I achieve some clarity in this regard.

Tally ho!!