Deuce of Clubs home page Deuce of Clubs home page
Deuce of Clubs Randumb RSS feed

Randumb Archives

12jan2009 to This Very Daggone Minute

01jul2008 to 11jan2009

01jan2008 to 30jun2008

30jul2007 to 31dec2007

01jan2007 to 28jul2007

01jan2006 to 31dec2006

20apr2005 to 31dec2005

26dec2004 to 19apr2005

31jul2004 to 25dec2004

09feb2004 to 28jul2004

12aug2002 to 06feb2004

30jul2000 to 10aug2002


12jan2009 to This Very Daggone Minute

Junk you may have missed and yet managed to live happily without:


21aug2013Mojave Phone Booth book Kickstarter, and the Mojave Phone Booth on NPR's Snap Judgment

Aaaaaaaaaaand we are now LIVE with the Kickstarter to publish my book, Adventures with the Mojave Phone Booth!

Not only that, but this weekend (23-24aug2014), the radio program Snap Judgment on NPR will air the story about my involvement with the Mojave Phone Booth. The episode will be available also on Friday, 22aug2014, via the Snap Judgment website.

Update: You can now listen to Snap Judgment's "End of the Line" episode, featuring yours truly, at NPR.


16aug2013Mojave Phone Booth on NPR's Snap Judgment

Next weekend (23-24aug2014), NPR's program Snap Judgment will air a story about my involvement with the Mojave Phone Booth. It will also be available on Friday, 22aug2014 via their website.

Also on next Friday, I'll be inaugurating a Kickstarter to (finally!) publish the book, Adventures with the Mojave Phone Booth in early 2015. I'll post the Kickstarter url here when I have it.


18feb2013Thomas J. Jeffords, 1832-1914

Tom Jeffords died one hundred years ago, today*.

Tom Jeffords

It was Jeffords, the only white friend Cochise had, who brokered the peace between the Apaches and the Anglos. It was, considering the unfortunate circumstances, a good peace, and was therefore, naturally, broken at the first opportunity by U.S. Government bureaucrats, who exiled the Apaches to Florida swampland, where it is said that tribal members would climb trees, desperate to glimpse open skies again.

In 1982, C. L. Sonnichsen speculated, "Did he die a disappointed and lonely old man, or was he satisfied with his hermit's existence at the Owls Heads and at peace with the world and himself? There are no answers to these questions, and Jeffords, if he knew about our curiosity, would be glad of it."

That may be so, but even knowing only what little one can know for sure about him, I think the presumption has to be that Tom Jeffords, a person known for his strength of will and character, deliberately chose to live out his final two decades as a recluse in the desert he loved.

Jeffords was the reason I secured for myself a spot within sight of the Owl Heads myself, where I hope to spend my final decades filling my vision with the same landscapes Jeffords saw in his.

The Star reported:

The news of the death of the veteran Arizonian caused universal regret among his many friends and comrades of earlier days, when it became known last evening that he had died at the ranch. Although of late years he had been much of a recluse, still his friends had never forgotten him and many had seen him on his last two or three visits during the past few months.

*...as near as I can figure—his death is usually listed as February 21, but that was the day he was buried in Tucson, and he died clear out at Owl's Head, and a funeral for Jeffords is known to have been held, also on the 21st, at the Arizona Pioneers Historical Society. The Citizen gave his day of death as simply "Wednesday," which would put it on the 18th.


14dec2013"Ringing in the new year with the drop of a card"

"Hundreds of people braved the cold Monday, December 31 during the City of Show Low's annual Deuce of Clubs Drop held at Festival Marketplace":

Droppin' the Deuce

I have GOT to get one of these "DROP THE DEUCE" t-shirts:

Drop The Deuce

Photos by Mike James — The Independent


19nov2013Sevenscore and ten years ago. . .

. . . a jumped-up lawyer gave perhaps the most mendacious speech in U.S. history (and founded its Leviathan empire).

(What? Could the most powerful Empire in history be lying about its biggest hero?)

David Martin: Mencken and More on Lincoln's Speech
Donald W. Livingston: Lincoln's Inversion of the American Union
Kirkpatrick Sale: Lincoln Changed the Subject with Gettysburg Address
Joseph Sobran: The Imaginary Abe
Thomas DiLorenzo: The Lincoln Curse


05nov2013Remember, remember. . . .

Keep Bleating or Start Fighting

15jun2013The best kind of Mountain Monogram is an inadvertent Mountain Monogram


09jun2013"NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I do not expect to see home again'"

Q: What do you think is going to happen to you?
A: Nothing good.
Q: Why Hong Kong?
A: "I think it is really tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People's Republic of China. It has a strong tradition of free speech."

YOU HAD ONE JOB

12may2013Cui bono (again) (and again): Government employees admit to profiting from human suffering

As I've mentioned here before, "whenever I'm forced to talk to a legal gangster, for whatever reason, I always make a point to ask the following question: `You do realize that what you do for a living is wrong, don't you?' The amazing thing is that nearly always the bureaucrat or functionary admits that he or she does, in fact, do wrong for a living—and almost always offers the same excuse for doing so: `I have to feed my kids.'"

Just so you know that government employees trading morality for money is nothing new or unusual, here are two similar confessions from recent articles about the War on [Some] Drugs:

From "The Policy and Politics of Drug Sentencing":

For more than two hours, a stream of supporters pieced together a compelling mosaic of arguments for ending the prohibition of marijuana. Bryan-College Station Judge John Delaney reported that probation officers in Brazos County had told him that passage of the bill, with its removal of incarceration and therefore of probation, would devastate their offices. Why? Because almost half of the county's misdemeanor probationers have been convicted of possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. "We live off our under-two-ounce misdemeanor guys. They pay the rent."

And, from Ex-NYC jails boss: Legalize pot, coke, heroin

Mayor Bloomberg's former jails commissioner yesterday endorsed legalization of illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine — and even heroin.
[...]
Asked why he didn't advocate for legalization when he was corrections boss, Horn said, "Because I had a mortgage to pay."


06may2013Actions have consequences

During last night's episode of Mad Men (don't worry, no spoilers here), I kept thinking, where in HELL have I seen the woman playing Roger's stewardess before? I didn't see her name until this morning, so then I checked IMDB. Mostly Disney crap, or other shows I've never seen. Kept scanning the list, nope...never heard of this show...or this one...or....OH.

Danielle Panabaker played the main character in the horrible TV movie version of The Shunning, that horrible Amish romance novel I forced myself to read.

One of these characters is Amish, I forget which.


21apr2013Caveat Lector Dept.:

From the hilariously fraudulent The First Hundred Years of Niño Cochise: The Untold Story of an Apache Indian Chief:

Nino Cochise tells another tall one

"Tom Jeffords, our good friend Taglito, was blood brother to my grandfather Cochise, my own best partner and a true friend to all Apaches. He greatly admired my mother and she returned the sentiment. He died at the age of eighty-two a year after this photograph was taken at his Owl Head Ranch. We buried him at Owl Head Butte nearby."

Uhhh...not according to Tucson's Evergreen Cemetery, you didn't:

If Jeffords were buried at Owl Head, it would be hard to explain how there exists a photo of Jeffords in his coffin, taken during his funeral—at the Pioneers Historical Society in Tucson (cf. The Journal of Arizona History Vol. 23, No. 4, Winter, 1982: 382).

The whole book is full of nonsense like that. What facts there are, were largely cribbed from other books. In Apache Voices, Sherry Robinson say of the book by "Niño Cochise":

"Despite flaws that would have been glaring to historians like Eve [Ball] and Dan Thrapp, the story found its way into print."

The First Hundred Years of Nino Cochise

There used to be a lot of secrets in America—presidents could have mistresses, journalists would front for the CIA, the U.S. government would run nuclear experiments on its citizens, and nobody would ever hear about any of it. Perhaps the group that had the most success in keeping its business private, however, was the Mafia. Of course, that was at a time when fellows like Sam Giancana and Carlos Marcello knew that J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI, like to wear women's clothing [Maybe. —D.o.C.]. This may explain why Hoover would insist there was no Cosa Nostra, and then assign his agents to keep an eye on Leonard Bernstein. —Jamie Malanowski, Lisa Birnbach, and Kurt Andersen, Loose Lips: Conversations, Confidences and Confessions NOT Meant for Public Consumption (p. 191)


13apr2013

DAYUM THIS BAG OF CHIPS THINKS IT'S ALL THAT AND A BAG OF CHIPS YO

14mar2013Wagnerian Tombstone showdown, featuring Gram Rabbit


04mar2013Newest site motto, courtesy of Die Antwoord's (then MaxNormal.tv's) Yo-Landi Vi$$er:

 

 

"It's like a nice, candy-coated adventure—for the kids!"


28nov2012 — Okay, all fixed now.


12nov2012

Poor-form Huck 'n' Buck


19oct2012

Drop f-bomb on television, apologize to the kids of America, drop real bombs on real kids of other countries, apologize to no one

Tom Hanks on Good Morning, America (which really ought to have a comma in its title), 19oct2012; unidentified victims of U.S. drone bombing in Yemen, 2009.


10aug2012

New Deuce of Clubs article: Forcing Jesus Into Burning Man: A Response to Christianity Today


29jul2012

Kristen Stewart Gives Road Hand On the Road

07jul2012

Based on my extensive experience with Presidential silhouettes, I regard myself as qualified to announce that Bill Clinton is The Devil.

A J Weberman Bob Dylan and the Devil A J Weberman Bob Dylan and the Devil

(Disclaimer: It is also possible that A. J. Weberman is The Devil.)


06jun2012

Businesses, Bible Quizzes, Buzzes: A Wildly Wide-ranging Chat with Katie Union

Katie Union

19may2012

Just got called "primarily the fun kind of vague" by an ex-gf, so I'm making myself a PRIMARILY THE FUN KIND OF VAGUE pageant sash.

Update: Dr. Cliff said, "That could compete with `Reasonable Aptitude For Mayhem!'"—which meant, of course, that I had to add PRIMARILY THE FUN KIND OF VAGUE to the unofficial site mottoes on the left side of the home page.


13apr2012Mojave Phone Booth Tattoo Skin Illustration

This spectacular Tattoo Skin Illustration-in-progress was sprung on me in Tucson by the astonishing Emma Darwin:

Mojave Phone Booth tattoo

Surprised? Ummm...YEAH!

(Based on a Booth photo by Lara Hartley)


19mar2012Who is your co-pilot?

God is my co-pilot no wait DOG is my co-pilot

The photo of Elizabeth Butters (with Baby the dog) by Emily Butters made me think of the goofy Backseat Sailor Jesus painting my Babdist Ma put up on the wall in my bedroom when I was a toddler. Though not as creepy as the Ripping-His-Heart-From-His-Chest Jesus paintings favored by Catholics, I always found it—and still find it—creepy as hell.

(Ma also made sure my childhood bedroom furnishings included a glow-in-the-dark lightswitch plate featuring Behold-I-Stand-At-The-Door-And-Knock Jesus. Also creepy as hell. Children, don't let your mamas grow up to be Babdists.)


15feb2012Drones Across America: "Pentagon working with FAA to open U.S. airspace to combat drones"

Drones Across America

14feb2012

para nadie

12feb2012On Karmin: A Social Comment

Karmin Amy Heidemann

24jan2012So what was SOPA for, if the Feds can do as they like, anyway?

Here's what Megaupload looks like now:

Robert X. Cringely explains: MegaUpload: The content cartel strikes back Anti-piracy laws too flawed? Send the Feds to bust some heads. One way or another, Hollywood will get Uncle Sam to do their dirty work.

Hollywood's Lackeys

09jan2012The State of Journalism Today

The State of Journalism Today

15dec2011Always read the fine print.

HELICOPTERS OVERHEAD PURSUING EVERYONE

05nov2011Kathryn Calder visits Arizona (and Wagner)


27oct2011Your handy Deuce of Clubs Government Venn Diagram:

Deuce of Clubs Government Venn Diagram

19oct2011From Al McCoy's The Real McCoy [groan] (Lone Wolfe Press, 2009):

I would see Horace Stoneham after that occasionally, and he would always kid me because I was doing the Suns games. He'd say, "Oh, you're with that sport where they change the rules every week." Meaning, of course, basketball and the NBA. (46)

Diamondbacks radio broadcaster Greg Schulte: When you listen to Al do a broadcast, he'll have a little fun here and there, but 99 percent of the time the game is going to take care of itself, and your job as a broadcaster is to report it and be as accurate in your description as you possibly can. That's the difference, to me, nowadays in the play-by-play guy. That's why I like radio so much better than television. That's probably the reason Al went to radio also. On television, you have a producer and a director, and they want to go into different areas. You see that in our telecast, where our guys go. They're showing people in the stands. I can understand when you are struggling, and in some ball games you have to do that. But when the team is playing well, stay with the action of the ball game itself. Get to the other stuff when you really need it. (146)

Former Suns center Neal Walk: Al didn't join the Suns until 1972. No knock on his predecessor, Joe McConnell, but Al was just a different guy. Joe wasn't necessarily an annoying fellow, but with A-1 Beer as a big sponsor, you could be at the free throw line and hear Joe say, "Free throw on its way, Goooood! Like A-1 Beer!" He'd say that every time. By the way, that was a horses___ beer, but we drank it. You got past the first one, and you were good to go. (209)


19aug2011


13aug2011


06aug2011At last, Westboro Baptist Church explains why "GOD HATES FAGS":

What Westboro Baptist Church means by GOD HATES FAGS

01jun2011Wagner and The Evolution Control Committee.


17may2011Wagner accosts Harrod Blank and Mark Hosler.


03may2011A Conversation with Valerie Tarico


21apr2011From Chris Mikul's The Cult Files: True Stories from the Extreme Edges of Religious Belief

Lundgren learned of a radical new method of interpreting the scriptures called "chiasmus," which involved looking for repetitions. He became convinced that God always spoke using repetitions, and if these weren't immediately apparent to ordinary readers, that was because only God—or one of his prophets—could understand them.


07mar2011I know Sheen Fatigue is chronic. And yet--can you resist...Sheenpocalypse Now?

See the rest at Sheenpocalypse Now


02mar2011Ron Swanson still rules, but Charlie Sheen is an up-and-comer

The Sheen Pyramid of Greatness

(Larger version of The Sheen Pyramid of Greatness)


26feb2011


13jan2011People are posting this Glenn Beck/Jared Lee Loughner side-by-side all over the web and from the comments I'm getting the distinct impression that many somehow haven't noticed it's a Photoshop job:

Glenn Beck Jared Lee Loughner

Here's the original, from the New York Post:
http://www.nypost.com/rw/nypost/2010/07/21/entertainment/photos_stories/cropped/glenn_beck--300x300.jpg


12jan2011

"...a curious press dispatch of March, 1946, which declared that MacArthur's headquarters `had suggested to the Japanese motion picture industry that kissing scenes in the movies would be a step toward democratization.'" (Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences, p. 161)

"As a break from the pressures of all the study sessions, they would go outside a few times a day to play games. `We played Messiah Tag and Spirit World Dodge Ball. In Messiah Tag one person was the Messiah and he would chase others trying to tag them. As soon as he tagged somebody, that person would become his disciple and they would hold hands and run after somebody else. Before you were caught you would run around the field yelling things like, "False Prophet! Heresy! Heathen! Communists!" Then they'd catch you and all of a sudden you were supposed to be all full of love and wanting to help all the other people. The last person out was Satan, and then they'd tag Satan and he would be restored and everybody in the world would be restored.'" (Ted Patrick, Let Our Children Go, pp. 254-5, re: Moonies)

"The placement of the report in the international broadcast somehow said as much about the situation as the report itself: The lead story concerned a helicopter crash in Europe, five dead. The second story detailed fighting in Tblisi, Georgia. The third story showed U.S. President George Bush becoming sick to his stomach at a state dinner in Japan.
`Coming up next,' the anchorman said, `tribal violence leaves thousands dead in southern Sudan.'" (Leigh Montville, Manute: The Center of Two Worlds, p. 67.)


11jan2011From Ray Ewing's Souvenir of Bisbee by a Re-cycled Miner (1979; kindly donated to the D.o.C. Archives by Gila Mon)

The miners liked the rats in the mine, because the rats had a kind of sixth sense and before a cave-in they would leave and take their young with them. When rats left the stope, miners knew that they had better leave, too. (3)

During the time I went to Central School, there was a huge whistle on the power house of the Czar Mine. When there was an accident in the mine and some miner got hurt or killed, the whistle blew loud and clear. We called it the Devil's Horn. (5)

We walked over to the depot to board the train. It was the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad. And say, that train was really an old-timer. You could hardly ever get a good view of the engine because it was always engulfed in steam. The cars were open vestibules with wooden bodies.
A boomer switchman told me that the engine was badly shot up during the war between the states, and the steam was still leaking through the bullet holes. Also, the train narrowly missed being captured by Indians several times.
He said there were still arrowheads embedded in the sides of the cars. I got a track spike and went looking for them, but couldn't find any. I told the switchman, and he said he thought the painters had dug them all out, the last time the cars were painted.
(6-7)

"Aren't you afraid, prospecting down there among the savages?" somebody asked him.
"Hell, no," Gus replied. "I feel a lot safer there than up here among these dollar-sign Christian souls."
(28)


04jan2011"Ford Has a Better Idea": screwing you like a light bulb

Ford has a better idea...screwing you like a light bulb

22dec2010

 

 

Mary Lou Gulley

? — 03nov2010
R.I.P.

 

 

(See Mary Lou's My Mystery Castle)


27nov2010

When an economy is run by force, the wishes and values of all people are not considered or even known. Prices no longer reflect actual scarcities and preferences of people; rather, they reflect the preferences of those with the power to force their preferences on others. When force is used to directly control prices, disaster ensues. Prices then no longer reflect the relative scarcity and value of goods and services. Scarce goods priced artificially low will tend to disappear and shortages will inevitably result. When prices are set artificially high, the good or service may be available but there will be a shortage of willing and able buyers. — James Ostrowski, Direct Citizen Action, pp. 74-5


15nov2010

"Verily, Peter's sarcasm savors as much of truth as humor when, speaking of bundling, he says: `The Indians who had this method of courtship among them in 1634 are the most chaste set of people in the world. Concubinage and fornication are vices none of them are addicted to, except such as forsake the laws of Hobbamockow and turn Christian.'" —Henry Reed Stiles, M.D., Bundling: Its Origin, Progress and Decline in America (1871; rpt. Peter Pauper Press, 1937), p. 30n


25oct2010Anatomy of a political campaign ad

All political ads contain lies, or are lies.
The following is a political ad.
Therefore. . . .

(Note: I don't know anything about Paul Gosar, and don't care to know anything about Paul Gosar.)

"The Constitution--the SACRED DOCUMENT establishing OUR RIGHT TO VOTE—to Paul Gosar, it's NOT SO SACRED."

Note the indignant tone of the voiceover as it plays to public-school-inculcated hyper-patriotism.

"He wants the 17th Amendment to our Constitution changed—taking away OUR RIGHT TO VOTE for OUR U.S. senators! Who would he give that right to?"

(Ignore, for now, the ad's inevitable grammatical error.)

"Gosar wants senators picked by career politicians in the state legislature!"

There's at least a consistency to the idea of career politicians in the state legislatures choosing career politicians in the federal legislature, but there's more at stake than congruity.

The senate was meant to represent the states (and the people they—at least conjecturally—represent) against encroachments by what was advertised to be a federal (federated) government, but ended up being a centralized (consolidated) government. Ever since the passage of the 17th Amendment, the feds have run their dirty feet all over the 10th Amendment.

"The Seventeenth Amendment was one of the last nails to be pounded into the coffin of federalism in America. The citizens of the states, through their state legislators, could no longer place any roadblocks whatsoever in the way of federal power. The Sixteenth Amendment, which enacted the income tax in the same year, implicitly assumed that the federal government lays claim to all income, and that citizens would be allowed to keep whatever their rulers in Washington, D.C. decided they could keep by setting the tax rates. From that point on, the states were only mere appendages or franchises of the central government." (Thomas DiLorenzo)

"Imagine the shakedowns and insider deals!"

Or, take a cursory look at how Washington bureaucrats already do their dirty business on a countrywide scale.

"Gosar: Changing our Constitution!"

Ah, so you oppose changing the Constitution. Got it. Say, how did the 17th Amendment come into being? By a change to the Constitution.

"Taking Away our Right to Vote!"

(I trust this lie is huge enough that it needs no explanation.)

How about a concrete example from current events? You got it:

"We will vigorously enforce the CSA [Controlled Substances Act] against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law," Holder wrote.

See? "We don't care about things the people want and somehow manage to get into their state laws. We are the unchallengeable Feds." The 17th Amendment paved the way for utter Federal domination of the states and their people, making it possible for the consolidated government in Washington to ignore what the people of the states want, because their putative representatives at the state level no longer have a voice in Washington.

I have yet to see a political ad that is not a lie and I don't expect I ever will.


25sep2010How, again, is a president different from any other mob boss?

Glenn Greenwald: Whenever you're sure Obama can't sink any lower with his abysmal civil liberties record, he proves you wrong Glenn Greenwald: Obama argues his assassination program is a I HOPE OBAMA DOESN'T ORDER MY ASSASSINATION

08sep2010If you met me at Burning Man, be friendly! Send me an email!


20aug2010Do the Dbacks get the absurdism of holding a bobblehead doll telethon? Their arrangement of their two logos suggests: no.


07aug2010GO, WIKILEAKS!

What to do about WikiLeaks? Not much can be done

At the center of the drama was the posting last week of a massive 1.4 gigabyte mystery file named "Insurance" on the WikiLeaks website.... It appears WikiLeaks used state-of-the-art software requiring a sophisticated electronic sequence of numbers, called a 256-bit key, to open them.... Unlike a regular six- or eight-character password that most people use every day, a 256-bit key would equal a 40 to 50 character password, he said. If it takes 0.1 nanosecond to test one possible key and you had 100 billion computers to test the possible number variations, "it would take this massive array of computers 10 to the 56th power seconds—the number 1, followed by 56 zeros" to plow through all the possibilities, said Lin. How long is that? "The age of the universe is 10 to the 17th power seconds," explained Lin. "We will wait a long time for the U.S. government or anyone else to decrypt that file by brute force."

This is SO brilliant. Think if you're working for the NSA, CIA, whatever criminal government gang you can think of. Now this file's been downloaded who knows how many times and it's out there. You can't do anything about that. What's in the file? Maybe something horribly damaging, worse than what's already come out. Or maybe nothing. If Wikileaks used TrueCrypt, or anything like it, you're not going to be able to decrypt the thing. And because the code's open source, you weren't able to coerce the software makers into including a back door for you. With your newly proclaimed "right" to assassinate people, you'd love just to assassinate Assange, but if you do, the password will become public and so will the file. If you use your by-now-routine method of kidnapping and torture on Assange, you'll get the password out of him. But it won't matter, because your kidnapping and torture would have already triggered the release of the password into the wild. So, big deal that you can now read the contents of the file—so can everyone else.

I say again: GO, WIKILEAKS!


30jul2010"The Protected Protector" (from Sam Lowe's Arizona Curiosities, p. 124):

The center of attraction at the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is a 4-story caliche structure that was built around A.D. 1300. The building has held up fairly well, considering it sat outdoors in the blistering sun and limited rainfall for more than seven centuries before anyone decided it was worth saving.

After declaring the ruins a national monument, the federal government erected a huge steel roof over the original building. That was in 1932, and the total cost was about $28,000. The roof protects the ruins from the elements but in so doing, it has also become a target of the sun, wind, and rain. So it needs repairs and repainting every now and then.

Somewhere along the line, the roof was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which makes it subject to many of the same rules as the ruins when it comes to upgrades. So when the roof needed patching a few years ago, the procedure required special equipment and materials. For example, the solder used in the original construction is no longer manufactured, so the repair crews had to get special permission to use a substitute.

The huge parasol will have to be repainted in 2003, according to Don Spencer, the superintendent at the monument. "The bill was $29,000 the last time we painted it," he said. "That's more than it cost to build it. I don't even want to think of how much it'll be this time."

For a fee, steel-umbrella fans can view the roof and the monument it protects daily from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. It's just north of Coolidge on State Route 287.

Original edition

2nd edition

Inexplicable edition (Arizona is many things, but one thing Arizona is not: Arkansas)


25jul2010I'm not sure, but I think these people may have been buried alive!!


07jul2010Sheriff of:

. . . Fractured Jaw (1958); Tombstone (1941); Cimarron (1945); Las Vegas (1944); Redwood Valley (1946); Sage Valley (1942); Wichita (1949); Wampus Gulch (1920); Tombstone (1924); Rock Springs (1971); Sun Dog (1922); Sundown (1944); Bisbee (1914); Black Gulch (1910); Cochise (1913); Gay Washington (2006); Hollywood Hills (1974); Hope Eternal (1921); Kit's Run (2005); Medicine Bow (1948); Mojave (1921); Muscatine (1914); Pine Mountain (1916); Plumas (1916); Red Rock Gulch (1915); Stone Gulch (1913); Stoney Butte (1912); Tuolomne (1911); Willow Creek (1915); Willow Gulch (1914); Yavapai County (1913)


03jul2010My grandfather getting killed in a Tex Ritter movie:


30jun2010OMFG GUESS WHAT FAMOUS MAN OF LETTERS BEGINS HIS NEW NOVEL AT THE MOJAVE PHONE BOOTH??

Wait, what? GLENN BECK?

Aw, crap. I jumped the shark.

(Not kidding about this:)

 


31may2010The -berto's Phenomenon

(This is from five or six years ago but somehow I never got around to uploading it. Some of these restaurants may no longer exist.)


29may2010I'm reluctant to get involved with any implement that features both a "drinking tube" and a "scratching stick."


26may2010

YOUR FOUNDERS HAD SLAVES - YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID

13may2010Is It Hopeless? A Freewheeling Conversation with Brian Doherty

A Freewheeling Conversation with Brian Doherty

21apr2010"And there went out another horse that was red . . . and he that sat upon him had been as it were a little green dab of clay."

Gumby + Pokey = 666

(He really can walk into any book—even the Book of Revelation!)


10apr2010oobi on eBay!


27mar2010From Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita (said to have inspired "Sympathy for the Devil")

"Excuse me for failing to introduce myself in the heat of our argument. Here is my card, my passport, and the invitation to visit Moscow for a consultation," he said impressively, with a penetrating look at the two literary gentlemen. (15)

"The point is . . ." the professor threw an apprehensive look over his shoulder and began to whisper, "that I was personally present when all this took place. I was on Pontius Pilate's balcony, and in the garden, when he spoke with Kaiyapha, and on the dais." (45)

"He is clever," thought Ivan. "One must admit that even among intellectuals there are sometimes highly intelligent men; this cannot be denied." (100)


23mar2010(I thought "the Son of man hath not where to lay his head"?)


16mar2010If ever there was a cosmic coincidence conspiracy to get me to a reading...

...this was it: My friend Laura in Bisbee sent me an AP clipping that was reprinted in the goofy Bisbee newspaper. It was about poet S. A. Griffin, who's stuffing poems into a cold war-era bomb that he plans to haul around the country. Laura said, "He sounds like a weirdo, so I figured you'd know him."

1. Later that very same day, Nicole Panter said she was going to do her first reading in ten years—and it was with S. A. Griffin.

2. What's more, the event would be taking place a few blocks from where I'm staying in Santa Monica.

3. A couple of days later I had dinner with another friend and was going to invite him to come along. I said, "Have you ever heard of Nicole Panter?" and he said, "Um, well, yeah. I dated her a few times."

The event itself was lots of fun & loads of laughs. All the performers were terrific. Appearing along with Griffin and Panter were Michael C. Ford, Susan Hayden (Library Girl), and Jim Turner (whom you may remember as MTV's "Randy of the Redwoods"), who gave a hilarious account of some recent health issues he'd had...

4. ...including Dupuytren's Contracture, an ailment with which my friend sitting next to me at the performance had been diagnosed the previous week.

I asked S. A. Griffin to sign the newspaper clipping to Laura. I'm sending it back to her today.


10mar2010Contra unexamined premises:

"Twenty-one Reasons Why Statism Is a Radical and Radically Incoherent Theory"


05mar2010

I'm re-reading Mary Austin's The Land of Journey's Ending and ran across an illustration depicting the (erroneous) idea that a barrel cactus is a source of drinking water. I liked the illustration so I went to the web to find a page about the myth to link to and the first page that came up was the source of the illustration. (It's interesting to notice ways in which the artist improved on the photo.)

(DON'T EVER DO THIS.)


23feb2010The Picket Line: "So, do you want to hear what I think of Joe Stack flying his plane into the IRS building?"

Terrific essay. I may not agree with all of it but I respect it entirely.


19feb2010Last night at Sven's House of Tiki...

...we were admiring a figure study painted by Mai Tai master Daniel Paul, who said if I bought the pizzas, the painting came with it.

I have long been a patron of pizza, but now?

I am a Patron of the Arts.

(Work currently on temporary loan to the My Attorney's Museum of It Covers a Hole in the Drywall.)


15feb2010Whip It! has now been a permanent part of Salvation Mountain for ten years


11feb2010Obliviousness

Last night in Culver City as we walked into Rush we somehow failed to notice the most obvious single object in the place. Then I sat and ate dinner, experiencing the thing only as a vague, green object in my left peripheral vision that I continued to fail to notice (as did my lawyer, who was facing the damned thing). It wasn't until after dinner that I managed to tilt my skull to the left (at the same time as my lawyer lifted his eyes to the wall in front of him) and realize what we'd been sitting barely ten feet away from.

(If you don't know me, this is strange not only because of a previous association between me and that album cover but also because of a bizarre coincidence.)

Photo by Putch


09feb2010From Mickey Leigh's I Slept with Joey Ramone

It's not like we went out in the front yard and barbecued ham on the high holy days, but we did play loud rock music in the basement on several of them. Maybe that wasn't exactly kosher, and maybe they had a legitimate beef, but we were surprised at how intolerant such a recently persecuted people could be.
As a result, Jeff and I developed a weird resentment toward our "own people." Then we realized their problem with us was more about money. "The
meshugana neighbors," as they referred to us, were fucking up the property values on the block. If that's what it was all about, then we Jews were just the same as everyone else—no better and no worse. (47)

Jeff asked me to teach him a song. He'd been listening to Alice Cooper's ''I'm Eighteen" about twenty times a day, so I figured that was a good one to start with. It wasn't terribly difficult chord-wise—there were only three. I showed him the frets to put his finger on and sang the song as he changed the chords. After two times around, he was doing it by himself. (92) [Cp. Johnny Rotten]

"In my eyes John was a rock star from day one. He had the aura about him. It's like I fell in love with the image more than I fell in love with the person, 'cause the person was a pain in the ass." (99-100)

"They had maybe five or six songs at the time," Richard Hell remembered. "'I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement,' 'I Don't Wanna Walk Around with You,' 'I Don't Wanna Be Learned,' 'I Don't Wanna Be Tamed,' and 'I Don't Want' something else. I wondered, 'Are these guys serious? Is this an act? If it is, this is great! It's like being at the circus!'"
"John was thinking our songs might be too depressing," Joey said, "'cause they were all 'I Don't Wanna' do this and 'I Don't Wanna' do that."
"We didn't have a positive song until we wrote 'Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue'!" Dee Dee explained.
(113)

"When we filmed the bedroom scene for the song 'I Want You Around,' Joey was spitting as he was singing to me," PJ Sales remembered. "I was lying there with my mouth open—and all this spit is coming into my mouth. I had to act like I loved it." (187-8)

The concept was for the Ramones to be photographed in a subway car. Photographer George DuBose suggested going to Fifty-seventh Street and Sixth Avenue, where the B train would come into the empty station and stop for twenty minutes. Johnny asked George to have Marky look out the window, because they were kicking him out of the band, but he didn't know it yet.
"I liked that shot, but I knew something was up," Marky said.
(228)

"Nobody knew what the real Joey was like, except for people that got really close to him. There was a side to Joey that was wonderful. People thought he was such a sweet guy. To a certain extent, he was. Then there was the other Joey, the one who said, 'You're an asshole! Get me my fucking coffee! Don't you know how to make a fucking egg?'"
(Note: If you'd like to meet that Joey, play the Ramones song "We're a Happy Family" and turn it up loud on the fade-out at the end.)
(353)

The first things Joey asked for when he came into the hospital were the Beatles new release One and the new U2 CD All That You Can't Leave Behind. He still loved to start his morning listening to music.
We'd open the curtains so he could see the East River and put on "It's a Beautiful Day." He said the song gave him energy.
Sorry, fans, but it's the truth.
(393)


21jan2010Ima letchoo finish but don't let Kanye West be your webmaster

(From a government website that shall remain as nameless as it is clueless.)


18jan2010From Charles H. Lowe's Arizona's Natural Environment:

The plants are always out there "taking it"—for 24 hours a day for all 365 days of the year. (4)

Mesquite (Prosopis spp.) formerly grew along many of the larger desert drainageways, such as those along the Gila River and some of its tributaries, in dense forest-like stands called mesquite bosques. These valuable riparian trees reached heights of 40 to 50 feet, with some individuals having trunks 2 to 3 feet in diameter. Remnants of such stands are still present in scattered areas along San Pedro River and Santa Cruz River as well as parts of the Gila and lower Colorado, and many taller bosques still remain. (29)

Along the formerly great Gila River (the now dry bed of which stretches across the Sonoran Desert of western Arizona) there were extensive marshes, swamps, and floodplains with cattail (Typha domingensis), bulrush (Scirpus olneyi), giant reed (Arundo donax), common reed (Phragmites communis), arrowweed (Pluchea sericea), and many trees. The dense vegetation of these well-developed riparian communities often stood 10 to 15 feet high and supported a tremendous quantity and variety of wildlife. Today such habitats persist in modified form along the lower Colorado River and along parts of the greatly changed Gila where its remnant persists in east-central Arizona; tamarix (Tamarix) is an increasingly abundant foreign introduction in some of these riparian situations and may become locally undesirable. (30)

The southern conifer-clad mountains, such as the Pinals, Gilas, Pinalenos, Galiuros, Santa Catalinas, Santa Ritas, Huachuas, and Chiricahuas, are isolated ranges with relatively steep topography when compared to the extensive mesas and plateaus to the north. (65)

"Sky islands" (Heald, 1951), seems to me quite apt. They are often called "desert mountains" or "desert mountain islands" which are inappropriate, for they are not surrounded by desert. They are bordered on one or more sides by grassland as well as by desertscrub on the other sides. (65n.)

In Arizona, the order of the zones from the lowest elevation (Lower Sonoran) to the highest elevation (Arctic-Alpine) is also the order of decrease in the total geographic area per zone. It may be noted also that Merriam selected names for the zones that are (with the single exception of Transition) quite appropriate in designating a general geographic region in western North America typified by the plant-animal communities represented in the particular zone; that is, the regions where the zones are best developed. When it is further noted that Arizona is closer to Sonora, Mexico than it is to the U.S.-Canadian boundary line, and even farther from the Arctic Circle, it is quite obvious why the extensive area of the two Sonoran Zones alone accounts for over 85 per cent of the total landscape of Arizona, and why the very small area of the Arctic-Alpine zone is conspicuously less than even the relatively small area of the Canadian and Hudsonian Zones (boreal forest). (84)


14jan2010

Sure, it's the [x]tieth repetition of the "If a phone rings...?" joke but at least Lonely Planet didn't swallow the NPS cover story (and they get a + for "artist").


11jan2010DoC Interview: Maybe YOU Knew About These Fetishes, but...


06jan2010"EPI": The new Mahir Cagri?

"HELLO, MY NAME IS EPI.I WAS.BORN AND RAISE IN THE CHRISTIAN ENVIRONMENT.I,M A PROFESSIONAL RADIO DJ.I PLAY CONGAS,BONGOS,TIMVALES. I HAVE A 4 YEAR IN THEOLOGY, AND AT THE MOMENT OBTAINING A PHD IN CHRISTIAN COUNSELING AND EDUCATION.I LOVE TO GO JETSKY,PLAY HANDBALL,RIDE MOTORCYCLE,GO TO THE SHOOTING RANGE.AND OF COURSE TEACH THEOLOGY.I,M A GOOD SON,FATHER,BROTHER,FRIEND,AND 99.99%GOOD HUSBAND,JA,JA, WOULD YOU LIKE TO MEET THE OTHER 1%? JA,JA"


02jan2010


22dec2009Rattle and Ho-hum


18dec2009Cat and Girl and Booth


15dec2009Wow. Cognitive dissonance rampant.

The "Inner Witness of the Holy Spirit"

The "Witness of the Spirit" and the "Burning in the Bosom"

Following the cited William Lane Craig example, if one day all the Xtians are lifted bodily into the skies by Jesus, I'll assume there's another explanation, since I have a strong inner conviction that Xtianity is bullshit.


09dec2009 — From Steve Stoliar's Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho's House:

Skelton was charming to me as well. In addition to signing a sketch, he would turn around from time to time and fire a cork-on-a-string popgun at me. He kept the gun concealed inside his sport coat; I wonder if he would've made it past the X-ray scanners in today's airports. So all three Stoliar children were kept entertained by Red Skelton on the journey from St. Louis to Los Angeles. (15)

She had to leave to take Groucho to see Sleeper, so I told her I'd call her after my new phone was installed in my room at UCLA. Before we hung up I said, "While I have you on the phone, I was wondering if you could clear up a question that's been bothering me for some time. Some of the books I have say Groucho was born in 1890 and some of them say 1895. Which date is right?"
To my astonishment, I heard her call out, "Groucho! When were you born?" Faintly, in the background, I could hear a familiar, nasally voice call out, "October 2, 1890!" "Did you hear?" Erin asked. I heard. He had been sitting in the same room with her during our entire conversation.
I was getting close (but still no cigar).
(27)

After Groucho left, some news cameramen were packing up their video gear. I overheard one of them saying to his partner, "Save this. We'll need it for the obit." I could've strangled him for saying that. (34)

Groucho's home movies, incidentally, proved to be something of a disappointment. I had imagined them as lost masterpieces, filled with brilliant comic touches. Unfortunately, they ended up looking pretty much like everyone else's home movies. Most of them consisted of Groucho in various holiday locales, trying and failing to get his squirming children to wave to the camera. (45-6)

There was another letter that stands out because it illustrates Groucho's approach to fans way back when. A man wrote to him saying that when the Marx Brothers were appearing in the stage version of Animal Crackers in 1928, he had written to the theater . requesting an autographed picture. Groucho had written back saying, "Please send us fifty cents in coin, to cover the cost of the picture." The man sent them a half dollar and shortly thereafter he received a signed picture of the Four Marx Brothers, along with his half dollar back and another note from Groucho, this one saying, "Here's your fifty cents back. We just wanted to make sure you were serious lbout wanting our picture." (59)

On two separate occasions, two separate nurses gave me their professional opinions, unasked, about her mental condition. One said she had never seen anyone as bad off as Erin [Fleming] walking the streets without medical supervision. The other went so far as to say that Erin was "a textbook case of paranoid schizophrenia." Hardly the best choice to look after a frail, increasingly hazy old man. (71)

In the spring of 1975, while Lyn Erhard was still toiling away on Groucho's biography, another writer appeared on the scene. His name was Hector Arce. He had spent considerable time as a celebrity columnist and had recently completed coauthoring director Vincente Minnelli's memoirs, entitled I Remember It Well after the song of the same name from the Minnelli-directed Gigi. Hector told me the title turned out to be an ironic one since, in reality, Minnelli remembered very little, well or otherwise, and it took no small amount of research and prodding on Hector's part to elicit reminiscences and anecdotes from the absent-minded director. (116)

Some viewers assume that the reason the "Best of Groucho" shows appear so grainy and the camera seems to cut off the faces of Groucho and his contestants is because it is an old show from the early days of television, when production techniques were primitive. This is a logical hypothesis. It's also wrong.
The real reason the shows look that way is because a large DeSoto-Plymouth sign hung from the curtain in the background so that it could be easily seen throughout the show. Consequently, before the shows were syndicated, the film had to be optically blown up to the point where the sign was no longer visible. This resulted in the fuzzy picture quality and the seemingly bizarre composition of the shots.
Also, since "The Best of Groucho" would be airing on different stations, the "NBC" on Groucho's microphone had to be optically rubbed out, giving it a certain radioactive glow. If you ever get to see an original, uncut "You Bet Your Life" episode, you'll see that the picture is sharp, the people are properly framed and none of what is happening onstage is chopped off.
(120-1)

Although the college crowd of the late sixties and early seventies had come to embrace the Marx Brothers, Mae West and W. C. Fields as the last word in comedy immortals, the most popular screen comedians during the early thirties, from a box-office standpoint, were, surprisingly, Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers and Joe E. Brown—three people who probably didn't have a dozen young fans between them by the mid-seventies. It just goes to show how tastes change. (154-5)

Even if their recent work left something to be desired, I could always appreciate celebrities for what they had once accomplished. In Europe, an artist is considered as good as his greatest achievement. In America, he's only as good as his latest achievement. Personally, I prefer the European approach. (161)

In addition to his general quirkiness, Bud [Cort] also had a certain childlike quality that extended beyond his baby face and big eyes. I remember one day when I was working on fan mail in my office. Bud came racing in and asked if I was planning on going to the post office that day. He had a letter he wanted me to mail. I checked my watch and told him, "No, but I don't think the mailman's been here yet. You can check and see."
It was obvious from the perplexed look on his face that Bud didn't understand what one thing had to do with the other, so I explained, "Why don't you put your letter in the mailbox and put the flag up? The mailman will take it when he delivers the mail." Bud's eyes turned into huge saucers. "You mean you can
do that?" he asked in disbelief. "Yeah," I answered, continuing, "then you can tell when the mail's here, because the mailman puts the flag down."
"Oh wow!" Bud exclaimed. "Oh
wow!" he exclaimed again, this time retreating down the hallway, running his fingers through his hair, still unable to fully accept the idea that one can put outgoing mail in one's own mailbox. Had he been six years old I might've understood his wide-eyed naivete, but at the time Bud was about twenty-five. (181-2)

Hector said, "According to Harpo's book, that story about the donkey took place in Oklahoma, not Texas. Who's right?"
Groucho said, "I am, because I'm alive and he's not."
That settled that.
(188)

Also in attendance that evening was director Vincente Minnelli, whose memoirs Hector had cowritten two years earlier. I happened to have been walking past Minnelli when one of the partygoers asked him a predictable question: "So how's Liza?" Without hesitation, Minnelli answered, "Well, as you may know, she has a very painful menstrual cycle." Understandably, this left the questioner nonplussed; all he could do was smile and wander off to strike up another, presumably less awkward conversation. Minnelli's remark remains one of the strangest comments I've ever heard a father make about a daughter. (196)

Maxine [Marx, daughter of Chico] also said that growing up around Groucho could be very trying. Whenever she would wince at one of his puns he would snap at her, "How much do you make a week?!" (212)

. . . a story Groucho told about when Houdini had been appearing at the Winter Garden Theater in New York in the twenties. Houdini did a trick that consisted of putting some needles and thread into his mouth and then spitting them out, strung together. Houdini would always select someone from the audience to come up and attest to the fact that there was nothing suspicious going on. Since Groucho was virtually unrecognizable without his greasepaint moustache, Houdini had picked him as his stooge, thinking him an average theatergoer. With great panache, Houdini announced, "Look into my mouth and tell me what you see!" Groucho looked inside and said, "Pyorrhea!" thus stealing the thunder from the legendary magician. (214)

A few days after the blowup over Melinda, Groucho and Erin attended George Burns' eighty-first birthday party. Things did not go smoothly. First off, Groucho became annoyed when he discovered he wasn't going to be asked to entertain, and he ended up snapping at Milton Berle, "I don't think you're funny." Berle countered with, "Everything I know, I stole from you," to which Groucho responded, "Then you weren't listening." (223-4)

Erin's lawyer, David Sabih, then pleaded with the judge to excuse Erin from further testimony since it was obvious she was distraught. The judge acquiesced, and as a result a court-appointed psychiatrist examined Erin and found her to be "severely mentally ill, psychotic and paranoid." What a strange irony, given the fact that eight years earlier it had been Groucho whom a court-appointed psychiatrist had found to be of unsound mind during the ill-fated "adoption" of Erin Fleming. (269)

In the course of assessing the value of Groucho's estate after he had died, professional appraisers had gone through the house and made a tally of his personal memorabilia. They had concluded that its total worth was $53,000—a small fraction of its actual collectible value, even by 1977 standards. Among the items listed were a pair of "white metal spectacles without lenses," which they estimated at $100, and Groucho's prized medal from the French government, which they deemed to be worth a dollar. (272)

After Groucho was published, Hector Arce proceeded to write two more Hollywood biographies, one on Tyrone Power and the other on Gary Cooper. He'd wanted to call the Power biography Ty, but the publisher vetoed that idea in favor of The Secret Life of Tyrone Power: The Drama of a Bisexual in the Spotlight. As a result Hector was mistakenly vilified by the press and the public for having chosen such a cheap, exploitative title for his book. (273)


03dec2009Skype Phonebox Experiment

(from guardian.co.uk, 01dec2009)

Skype today launches a 10-day live-phoning experiment featuring a man camped outside a phone booth in Spain.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mexican sports enthusiast Rob Cavazos was selected by Skype to become the "Wilderness Man".

As he is fluent in English, German and Spanish, the public can call him directly or via Skype from a website, www.phoneboxexperiment.com.

"We held an audition for Skype and looked for someone who would be prepared to camp outside this phone box. We asked him to bring along some of his personal stuff, as we wanted it as authentic as possible," says Henry Cowling, the creative director of The Viral Factory, which created the campaign for Skype.

"We were inspired by the phenomenon of the Mojave desert phonebox, which became known as the loneliest phone booth in the world, and gathered a huge following of people who would either trek to the phone box or call it randomly, just to see if someone answered. It'll be fascinating to see how the public interacts with the Wilderness Man.

"Basically we don't want to tell people the rules right away, but to find out themselves. It is an experiment about human nature. We want to see how the public reacts, what they will ask him to do."

In the beginning, the information about the experiment will be passed on to some blogs to raise awareness, and it will be interesting to see if it goes viral. But who would have thought that the phone booth in the middle of nowhere in the Mojave desert attracted so much attention that it was closed in 2001? [Sic; May of 2000, actually.]

(See also: Advertising Age, "Skype Takes to a Phonebooth to Push Its International Phone Service")


25nov2009Possibly more confusing than Pink Lady themselves

La Maladie Tropicale:

Both like the mirror, Mie and Kei appeared simultaneously almost in the World, found each other directly. Vague, however it is felt, when mostly slept, looked at dream, from those same delegations where two sends those from opposite side just as it was each one which is programmed. But to the schoolgirl who Japanese of group Shizuoka Prefecture it is laughed secretly, this common dream seems like obligation or destiny, from greatly it seems that a little is. That like the pleasure simply seems the way.

This dream that Mie and Kei discovered special music talent, starts becoming simultaneously substance. The silver make light/write of stage, in order for the sunlight to raise usual existence, raises those. They came to those easily, when you want to do, as for every ability and the talent which are the people of this world, and to share that gift, it is rich.

By the dance which is close in song and perfection is adjusted, the Mind and the Eternal Youth of Happiness were informed as Pink Lady, it was carried easily by the duo which connects consciousness because it becomes the external personality which it is difficult to solve. Pink Lady, like the hip metronome which is made happily in a trance, the directly new personnel, charming melody, and winds thing captured of Japan the centre of the optimistic people and the imagination eternally.


24nov2009Still an empire both abroad and at home—and the outrage is where, now?

Obama Plans 34K More Troops for Afghanistan

(via David Kramer at LewRockwell.com, who comments: "I’m sorry, I can’t hear what you are saying over the deafening noise of the Liberals who protested Bush’s criminal war now protesting Obama’s criminal war.")

And then there's this:

Obama Quietly Backs Patriot Act Provisions

When will people learn that bureaucrats are bureacrats are bureaucrats?


20nov2009

It is human arrogance to feel that there can be any great depth of meaning in something as finite and fleeting as life. But if they're into this shit, I would suggest that people look to the original teachings of Ch'an Buddhism, and, maybe even more so, to those lines in the Gospel of Thomas: "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." When we figure out what this "what" is, we're there, we're free.Nick Tosches

(See also)


18nov2009Messed-up Homer Simpson


13nov2009

From David L. Eppele's On the Desert: Essays of the American Deserts:

[On planting prickly pear and cholla cuttings:] Many cactus growers sprinkle flowers of sulfur on the exposed freshly cut surface of the parent plant and on the cut surface of the pad you've just removed. This prevents an infectious rot condition from getting started and also drives all the little creepy-crawlies crazy! Flowers of sulfur should be available in bulk at your local plant nursery. Place the pads you want to transplant in the shade for a few days. This allows the plant to form a protective crust over the cut area. Now plant the pads with the cut portion about two or three inches deep in half sand and half soil. Do not water the plant! During the summer months, it takes only a couple of weeks for the plant to send out a whole new root system. It will do this in dry soil. Trust me. Let's suppose you've planted a prickly pear pad a couple of weeks ago. Go out and lift the pad out of the soil with your tongs. If you see the new little roots sprouting, carefully bury the pad back in the soil at its original depth. Now you may water the plant. Remember, if you water the plant before it has a chance to send out roots, it can, and will, rot. You see, the culture of cacti is exactly 180 degrees different than the culture of leafy plants. (14-15)

One last thing: Cacti do sunburn! When you remove a plant, make a note of the south side of the plant. Mark it with something ... stick a piece of paper or cloth on the spines. When you plant your cactus, make sure your marker is facing south. (16)

I have seen a couple of rear-end collisions caused by tumbleweeds. In both accidents, there was serious personal injury. That big weed won't hurt your little old car! It may leave insignificant scratches on the paint job, but those are easily rubbed out. There's a pun there, but I'll leave it alone. (29)

From On the Desert, Volume 2: The Wit and Wisdom of David L. Eppele:

From late August until the first frost of the season, the fruits of [Cow's Tongue prickly pear] (Mexicans call them "tunas") yield the sweetest juice of all the prickly pears found on the northern Chihuahuan desert.
I've timed the writing of this column with the ripening of the fruits. They're bright reddish-purple and soft, much like a plum, when they're ripe. Now's the time to dig out those kitchen tongs and a plastic 2-gallon bucket. Remove the ripe fruits with the tongs. Fill the bucket with fruits. Now wash those fruits with a garden hose. Allow the water to spill over ... you'll want to wash the fruits twice. Let the water spill onto a plant that needs a drink. Dump the fruits into a large kettle and add 2 quarts of water. Bring this to a boil and then stab the softened fruits with a fork. This punctures the skin and allows the juice to escape. When the fruits are soft, they can be mashed with a potato masher. Dump the mashed fruits into a colander and allow them to drain. Most of the small spines dissolve in the hot water. Feed the seeds and pulp to the birds or Javelinas. They need a treat now and then.... Now strain your juice through three layers of cheesecloth. You are now ready to venture into making cactus jelly, cactus syrup or perhaps cactus wine.
[...]
To make cactus wine, add 8 cups of sugar to a gallon of cooled cactus juice. Now stir in one package of yeast. Pour the juice into a gallon jug and cap it lightly. Now store the juice in a cool, dark place, like a closet. Any closet will do, except your neighbors'.
Warning: If you screw the cap down tight the jug will blow up in your closet, causing you mucho grief and embarrassment. Plus, you'll also have to fork over the bucks for a whole new wardrobe for mamma, just because you used her closet for your "scientific sperment!"
This makes wine in a month.
(14-15)

Tuba City is another one of those Western towns named by someone who couldn't (or wouldn't) learn how to pronounce the name of the local Chief. The Hopi Chief's name was Tsuvi. This was corrupted to tuba. (20)

[pricklypearwine!]


09nov2009Mandible news


05nov2009From Claire Wolfe's I Am Not a Number: Freeing America From the ID State (1998):

Everywhere in the world that you find Governments, you also find big scale bribery: Give a few thousand to get a contract, a few hundred thousand to get a couple of meetings with the president, give a job to the mayor's nephew in return for favors granted.
But we don't live in a culture of
baksheesh or mordita as much of the rest of the world does. Most ordinary people don't think in terms of having to slip a twenty, or a hundred, to the store clerk, the secretary of the prospective employer, the policeman or the telephone company rep to earn ourselves a little better service.
That will change. When people are regularly getting bounced by corrupted, inaccurate databases and come to realize that "legitimate" solutions could take months, everyone will gradually get used to the idea of greasing the wheels with bribery to get the system rolling again.
(41-2)

Harkening back to the analogy of the abuser, we should never forget that the moment at which an abuser is most likely to kill you is the moment at which you leave. Because that is the moment at which you publicly declare that the abuser has no right to control you. Nothing infuriates a control freak more than that.
The government is the same. It will tolerate, to some extent, people who try to "fake" its systems (e.g., it regards the standard "tax cheat" in an entirely different, and kinder, light than it regards the principled tax resister). But those who question the government's fundamental "right" to perform certain functions are intolerable to tyrants.
So there may be terrible dangers.
(49)

Listen up and believe this if you don't believe anything else I say. Within ten years of the moment I write this, you will not be able to get care at a hospital or doctor's office unless you present your Card for scanning. Even if the doctors want to help you, it will be illegal for them to do so.
Tough luck, kiddo. Suffer.
Now you, as an individual, should be able to get a fake Card. As we've already seen, the black market for them is revving into action and, to the extent that it works, you'll be able to wangle some medical care, before the central database finds out you're using an invalid number. To the extent that your chosen method of fakery doesn't work, you and you alone are out of luck. Or you may be able to find a black-market doctor somewhere who'll treat you despite the law.
But think on a broader scale. Nationwide, there will be thousands of doctors, nurses, nurse-practitioners, dentists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and other medical professionals
who also will have refused to submit to The Card.
You might have noticed, there are a lot of medical professionals in the freedom movement, and some of them are just about pissed postal already. They've seen government control at its worst, coming at them for years, and they've had it. Some have probably "had it" long and hard enough to risk everything on resistance. (54)

There are, in fact, many modern utopian comnunities operating. . . .
Many of the existing and semi-successful ones are New Age communities or interesting experiments in lifestyle, like Arizona's well-known Arcosanti, not the dream homes of freedom seekers.
Arcosanti is interesting, and we can learn from it. (SF writers Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle also drew on the ideas of Arcosanti's founding spirit, Paolo Soleri, in writing the novel
Oath of Fealty.) But it isn't for most of us. (57)

I know of one interesting, more diverse and more libertarian, community operating in the Southwestern U.S. Called Greyhaven, its proponents praised its defensibility and relative invisibility. But on the other hand, they also did much to expose its location by discussing the place openly on Fidonet and the Internet. I don't know whether Greyhaven still exists, or under what conditions it may presently operate. (58)

I know a couple who are divided on the issue of whether to stay in America or leave for (hopefully) freer climes. She says, "Let's get outa here and head for an island." He won't go. She's casting her lot with him, even though staying is against her own wisdom.
He points out that, if the American alleged authorities want to get you, they can get you anywhere in the world. True. She answers that they really have to want you a lot to bother coming after you in foreign lands.
He points out that, bad as America's getting, he still can't think of any place freer. She counters that there are countries in the world more likely to leave you alone, even if their laws actually look more harsh on the books. Even in a government-ridden place like Canada, she says, their police aren't as hostile and their banking system still respects some privacy.
(67)

[Quoting Michael E. Marotta, "Money in the 21st Century":] "In the 1200s, the bankers of Florence adopted Arabic numerals without hesitation—and the city council outlawed the new system. Of course, this was futile. In our age, the invention of public key cryptosystems is also well-received and also subject to government controls. Such controls cannot last." (109)


04nov2009The Trouble With Is, Is Is (Author unknown)

Behind the unqualified use of the word "is" lurk a number of assumptions, each of which can lead to trouble. (We use the word "unqualified" because there certainly appear to be places in our common speech where trying to avoid using the word "is" is—see?—not worth the effort it takes.

So what's so bad about "is"?

For one thing, what we consider "bad" are the many ways in which it can be misused in everyday speech:
"It
is good . . ."
"He
is lazy . . ."
"That
is a rock . . ."
all have one thing in common. The "is" implies that we are describing something "out there" that has a certain quality—"goodness," "laziness," or "rocklike"—which exists independently of our personal experience of it. And the next implication is that you must agree because "obviously" that
is what it is. But what we really are describing is an internal experience which may have validity only for us.

One way out of this dilemma maybe be to say:
"I
think it is good . . . "
"I
believe he is lazy . . ."
"It
looks to me like a rock . . ."
or, if we don't actually say it out loud, we can at least think this way to ourselves, as a reminder that what we describe is not "out there" but an experience inside ourselves.

Another thing we imply when we use the word "is" seems to be that we have examined the subject (whatever it may be) thoroughly, and have determined how best it can be described. But, in reality, we can only have examined a limited number of possibilities (as an expert may be defined as a person "who knows how much he does not know"). Of these possibilities, we have chosen one (or several) for a personal reason that may have validity only for us.

In our everyday speech, in memos and letters and conferences and conversation, we hear or read pronouncements like, "He is an organization man," or, "He is unimaginative," rendered with the air of finality that would be more proper coming from the Princeton Institute of Advanced Learning.

If you take a look at the chart on this page which partially lists some of the things that might be said about an individual (just as many things could be said about the company you work for, or an organization you belong to, or your neighborhood) you will see that they represent a wide spectrum of different experiences that different people have had at different times with this one individual. To choose one and to speak of it as if it characterized the real, living person, is to imply "all." When you imply "all" you seem to have closed the subject; you have, in effect, said, "He's __________, and that's all there is to it."

Now, no one believes you should try to say all about a subject every time you say something about it; that would be nonsensical, even if it were possible. But you can describe your reaction to a person or situation in such a way as to make it clear that you are making an inference based on your own limited personal experience.

You can say, "I've only seen him a few times but he seemed to be a nice guy" (instead of, "He is a good guy"), or you could say, "I've seen him several times at club meetings and he strikes me as a loudmouth" (instead of, "He is a loudmouth").

When we make clear the limitations of our experience and that we are talking about that experience rather than the person, event or thing, we leave open the way to further discussion (rather than disagreement and argument). No one can seriously question that that was what you felt; but everyone can—and most people do—argue with the categorical statement, "That is ____________."

There is still another way in which we sometimes use "is" that can lead to trouble. We may use it in the sense of "identities"—as in the phrase "2+2=4." We substitute "is" for the "=" sign and say "2+2 is 4." They are not the same thing at all. "2+2 is 2+2." But it does not appear to be "4." "4" is something else altogether. The arithmetical expression simply says that we can use the symbol "4" instead of "2+2" in certain types of operations. It is permissive but it is not descriptive.

When we use "is" as if it were an "=" sign in common speech, as in "truth is beauty" or "knowledge is power" we begin to wander rather far afield from the world we actually experience.

This all may sound so obvious as to be almost childlike. Yet the "fact" remains that many of us, every day, use "is" as if it were some kind of a weapon. In doing so, we replace the richness and diversity of human experience with a dull and lifeless monochrome. We kill the animal and dry its skin and nail it to the temple wall, and in the end reduce the world we describe to a two-dimensional diagram—sans color, sans depth, sans motion—sans everything.

Stamp Out Is!


02nov2009Actual yearbook photo caption of a former classmate of mine, now in prison for embezzlement:

X sneaks some chips on the job at the Training Center

(True tale!)


01nov2009"Oh, you don't hear so good? I said: 'Da Yankees lose in six.' Don't make us hafta help ya's wit dem ears."


29oct2009Stuff I've figured out: Advice for struggling artists — a guest post by Erin Kathleen Cheyne

I've officially reached starving artist status, and I'm happier than I've been in my life. I take a lot of weird side jobs to make ends meet—henna tattooing, washing dishes or slinging drinks, but it's so much better than the corporate world was.

Stuff I've figured out:

• Be cautious in picking your "backup work!" I worked a few hours per week doing secretarial, but found that the environment really killed my creative stream. Another secretarial job worked out fine, but the environment was better. Choose carefully, and try to enjoy whatever you're doing as much as you would creating art. You never know when a former employer or co-worker will need a new logo or refer you to someone!

• Always have a backup plan—my landlord liked the charm factor of having a starving artist upstairs, but it's less charming when I'm late on the rent.

• Try to create something every day, even if it's just a postcard-size watercolor. Keep variety in your work, try mediums with which you're not comfortable.

• Grants: there are SO many grants available for individual artists and writers, and very few people apply for them. I was reading one of the larger grant guidelines—they give out $40,000 to 8 artists every year—only 80 people applied. Regardless of education history, they look for talent, professionalism and creativity. Make sure to follow the application guidelines exactly as they ask, and don't be afraid to call them if something is unclear.

• Don't be afraid to throw in a shameless plug for yourself now and then. Example: I roll my own cigarettes—it costs about $3 per week. I was in the gas station a while back, and saw a new brand of rolling tobacco. Asked the owner if he'd try it, he just rolled his eyes and said he's always been able to afford real cigarettes. I just laughed it off and said I was a starving artist—and left with a contract for a website, logo and advertising package.

• Don't be ashamed of it. You're doing what everyone wants to do and nobody has the guts to do. Make a list of your artistic achievements, experiment with new stuff, and don't be embarrassed about weird part-time jobs. My relatives used to give me an awful time at the reunions, but after I came up with a good elevator speech (I'm working as a freelance graphic designer, working on launching a full-scale studio, teaching art at a private school and working on an animated short for fun!) they started taking me seriously—and it made it easier to take myself seriously. Eventually, instead of joking about me to their friends, they started referring people to me. You probably do more than you realize, and as soon as you take yourself seriously, everyone else will.

• Network like CRAZY! Don't go to networking parties, duh, lameness. Always keep a stack of business cards in your purse, hand them out whenever you meet anyone new. Students, professionals, bartenders...anyone! (I had a separate set printed without my name and only my business number, good if you're at a bar or gym...haha.) My doctor has referred me to people, my pastor has helped me find work, and the mailman's girlfriend just called about a new business card.

• Keep track of local artists! I can't stress this enough. Go to gallery openings, wacky open-mics and anything else of that sort. Talk to the guy sitting next to you at the coffee shop. Keeping an eye on the local art movement gives you a clear view of trends and local quality. Figure out what the best local artists are doing and try to one-up it. Maintain good relationships with other artists—if I can't do something, my friend Brent probably can. And vice versa.

• Maintain a beautiful lifestyle. Even if you're flat out broke, it's possible and necessary. Try to do something for yourself once a day, grab a book of poetry from the library and have a cup of tea, take a walk in the park, sneak a bubble bath, have a glass of wine. Can't afford flowers? Go out and pick some. Can't afford pottery barn? Make something! It's the only way to keep sane. Learn to bake bread. Learn to sew—when my clothes hit rag stage, I take them apart and reconstruct. And as far as nice furniture goes, most towns have an annual large-item trash day, so you can throw out furniture without having to buy a tag. It's on my calendar, and once a year, all of the women in my family drive around with a u-haul and pick up cool, abused antiques. Paint them, put new seats on chairs, reupholster—you've got a sweet set. I was offered 5,000 for a swedish hutch we re-painted. It's cool, and the only expense is paint.

• The wider your variety of skills, the better you'll survive. I know one girl, single mother of two, who is a tattoo artist, designs garb for renaissance festivals, paints, sculpts and is a fabulous photographer. She has a gorgeous loft, a nice car and no debt. Diversify.

—Originally posted as a comment at Diary of a Self Portrait. Erin Kathleen Cheyne is a member of The Borogoves.


28oct2009

As an aptitude test for a job, some severe-looking people in a white room put a few materials on a table in front of me and sat back to see what I would do with them. So I put a book back into its slipcase and taped it shut. This they thought *very* high concept, and I got the job!

As a bouncer.

Luckily, this all took place in a dream. So I guess that means I have tonight off.

Only now I can't sleep.


27oct2009From Resist Much, Obey Little: Remembering Ed Abbey:

He was fond of thick, grilled, bloody steaks, although he hated the corrupt ranching industry that thrives, subsidized by the American taxpayer, on our public lands. (Preface, xi)

Let us hold Desert Solitaire and The Journey Home and Black Sun and Ed's other books close to our hearts, recommend them often to others, read them aloud in lines at the Motor Vehicle Division and the neighborhood Safeway, talk about them, buy them so that they stay in print forever. (Preface, xiii)

Finally, borrowing again from Walt Whitman, let us remember Ed Abbey by honoring a favorite credo: Resist much, obey little. (Preface, xiii)

The richest brief example of Abbey humor that I remember is his epigram on "gun control" in his essay, 'The Right to Arms!' "If guns are outlawed," he says, "only the government will have guns." (Wendell Berry, "A Few Words in Favor of Edward Abbey," 10)

For those who think that a few more laws will enable us to go on safely as we are going, Abbey's books will remain—and good for him—a pain in the neck. (Wendell Berry, "A Few Words in Favor of Edward Abbey," 14)

Abbey's anarchism departs from the vulgar characterizations spawned by our media, our educators, our government. His anarchism is a positive force proclaiming the individual as the basis of civil society and trade. It is, he has written, nothing more than "democracy taken seriously." It holds that the one social necessity is absolute liberty for all. It recognizes but one law: no person may aggress against another. It argues that governments are evil by their nature, committing mass murder in the form of war, theft in the form of taxation. Because of the fundamentally antisocial character of the State, all governments, this anarchism maintains, must be abolished. (Gregory McNamee, "Scarlet `A' on a Field of Black," 20-1)

Now that Ed lies far beyond the reach of the statute of limitations, it can be revealed that he did not limit his attacks against wilderness rapists to his writings. He was an activist, a warrior armed with the tools of a warrior. With firearms, flammables, wit, and courage, he physically destroyed those metal marauders that raze wilderness. He pulled up stakes, he closed roads. He did everything he could think of to thwart the juggernaut of so-called human progress save one thing—he never, ever caused harm to another human being. However, he did tell me that he could easily foresee a time when even that terrible situation might arise—a time when the government would so impose a police state on what remains of wildlife habitat, that battles would rage between man and man. But by then it would already be too late and the only spoils of such a conflict would be principles. (Jack Loeffler, "Edward Abbey, Anarchism and the Movement," 38-9)

ABBEY: No, I've got an agent in New York .... He's the only agent I've ever had. I've had a few publishers complain to me about what a ruthless man he is, so I guess he's good. (James R. Hepworth, "The Poetry Center Interview," 55)

Writing and teaching are two of the most incompatible activities I know, because they eat up the same sort of creative energy, require the same imaginative structuring of experience for an audience. What you give to your students—and if you're any good, you give a hell of a lot—you don't have left for the blank page. And teaching is seductive, because the audience is live. They respond. They draw more and more out of you, tap more and more of your reserves, the time and effort you meant to spend elsewhere, elsewhen. If you let them. I let them, and I know a lot of other writers who do too. (Nancy Mairs, "597ax," 67)

In pondering these questions I recalled Steinbeck's once saying to me, after his first three books had failed to sell, "I want a sale of 10,000 copies and no more. That will make enough for my publisher to encourage him to publish another book and will give me enough to live on while I write it, and I'll be able to go on living obscurely." He never had his wish. Thereafter his books were successful beyond count and he became a famous public figure. (Lawrence Clark Powell, "The Angry Lover," 73)

Was Abbey really a barbarian—in the pejorative rather than the classical sense of the term—and an anarchist? By the standard of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, who exhort us plaintively to have "faith in government," he certainly was th.e latter, while what Chesterton called "the huge and healthy sadness" of the pre-Christian era pervades Confessions. According to the vulgar and narrow understanding of his day, Ed Abbey was politically unclassifiable, a torpedo launched at those ungainly iron Liberty Ships of carefully welded opinion. (Chilton Williamson, "Abbey Lives!" 90)

Those of my friends (cattle ranchers, miners, oilfield roughnecks, local, business people) who are familiar with the legend but have neither read nor heard of the highly disruptive speech Abbey delivered at the University of Montana in Missoula in 1985 against a background of shouts and jeers and gunfire in the parking lot, would probably be able to guess correctly the gist of his remarks. ("I'm in favor of putting the public lands livestock grazers out of business.... Almost anywhere and everywhere you go in the American West you find hordes of these ugly, clumsy, stupid, bawling, stinking, fly-covered, , shit-smeared, disease-spreading brutes.... I've never heard of a coyote as dumb as a sheepman.... The cowboy is ... a farm boy in leather britches and a comical hat.... Anytime you go into a small Western town, you'll find [the ranchers] at the nearest drugstore, sitting around all morning drinking coffee, talking about their tax breaks.") (Chilton Williamson, Jr., "Abbey Lives!" 90-1)

Whoever he is, the Ed Abbey in Desert Solitaire is human, and he works. He works the way a character in fiction should work. He has weight, stature, variety. He poses and postures, makes fun of himself and others, takes himself seriously, is loving and hateful, strong and weak by turns. And he is created right on the spot, full-blown, with almost no anterior personality and only the most minimal explanation as to how he got there or how he got to be who he is. (105)

The Desert by John Charles Van Dyke is a remarkable book not only because of what it is, but also because of what it is not. Although it is filled with precise observations, it does not provide the reader with the kind of facts provided by Joseph Wood Krutch's The Desert Year. And it is not a travel book, although its author had surely traveled. He was a handsome, asthmatic, forty-two-year-old art critic and art historian who wandered through the desert of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico for more than two years, sometimes on horseback and sometimes on foot. The subtitle of his book is Further Studies in Natural Appearances, and Van Dyke claims that it is a careful record of what he observed during his wanderings. But one of the strange things about it is that Van Dyke almost never tells the Reader where he was while making particular observations, and much of the time the reader has no idea which of three different deserts Van Dyke was looking at. (Richard Shelton, "Creeping Up on Desert Solitaire," 110-11)

[Well, that's because Van Dyke's book was a huge hoax—he never traveled the desert on horseback, let alone on foot.]

His written instructions were that he should be "transported in the bed of a pickup truck" deep into the desert and buried anonymously, wrapped in his sleeping bag, in a beautiful spot where his grave would never be found, with "lots of rocks" piled on top to keep the coyotes off. Abbey of course loved coyotes (and, for that matter, buzzards). . . . (Edward Hoagland, "Abbey's Road," 194-5)

"Hayduke" jumped into the hole to be sure it felt O.K. before laying Abbey in, and afterward, in a kind of reprise of the antic spirit that animates The Monkey Wrench Gang (and that should make anybody but a developer laugh out loud), went around heaping up false rock piles at ideal grave sites throughout the Southwest, because this last peaceful act of outlawry on Abbey's part was the gesture of legend, and there will be seekers for years. (Edward Hoagland, "Abbey's Road," 195)

Alas, the long-winged fan-tailed bird up there contemplating this particular bit of the world from a silent and considerable height is no vulture. And just as well. Like Ed himself acknowledged toward the end of his avian musings, "As appealing as I find the idea of reincarnation, I must confess that it has a flaw: to wit, there is not a shred of evidence suggesting it might be true." (David Petersen, "Where Phantoms Come to Brood and Mourn," 213)

Of course, I came into the picture rather late, and there had been an Edward Abbey I did not know—the young restless quixotic version. That Abbey, along the way to becoming the Ed I knew, had experienced his share of troubles, most of them of the flirty-skirty variety. "How can I be true to just one woman," he would feign to ponder, grinning slyly, "without being untrue to all the rest?" (David Petersen, "Where Phantoms Come to Brood and Mourn," 215)

Each night's hike (he rested through the blistering middays) was a life-or-death race to reach another water source before the morning sun attacked him. (Ed would later suggest that the rivers of highly alkaline desert water he'd drunk in his long career of desert ratting might have contributed to the esophageal bleeding that was slowly killing him.) (David Petersen, "Where Phantoms Come to Brood and Mourn," 219)

For me, that humor is what sets Abbey apart from the other great desert writers: Joseph Wood Krutch, Ann Woodin, Ann Zwinger, Barry Lopez, and Charles Bowden. His landmark contribution is in being the first literary naturalist to make us laugh, to keep us from crying about the state of the earth. (Gary Paul Nabhan, 226-7)

He had ten times the number of enemies required to be considered an honorable man, but he just never chose to stop when he was ahead. (John Nichols, 232)

I remembered a letter he wrote to the newspapers—he seemed hardly able to get through a day without firing off a broadside to some newspaper or magazine. He suggested that a suitable memorial should be created for a leading local developer. He wanted to name the Ina Road sewage treatment plant after him. Neither newspaper would publish the letter. (245)


23oct2009A Conversation with Elizabeth Butters


22oct2009


21oct2009From Bart D. Ehrman's Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene:

Some readers over the years, of course, have tried to reconcile all of these differences. And if you are willing to do enough fancy interpretive footwork, you can interpret just about anything in a way that irons out all the problems. When I was in college, for example, I found a book called The Life of Christ in Stereo, which took the four Gospels and smashed them all together into one big Gospel in which all the discrepancies were reconciled. And so what did the author do, for example, when Matthew indicates that Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed but Mark indicates that Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice? Very simple: Peter must have denied Jesus six times, three times before the cock crowed and three times before it crowed again. (12-13)

The reason these writings [The Clementine Homilies and The Clementine Recognitions] are important for us here is that they both indicate that in his travels Clement met Peter and then journeyed around the Mediterranean with him. Peter, in fact, gives lengthy addresses in these books. It is significant that in these addresses Peter occasionally appears to malign the apostle Paul as a false teacher. What is directly germane to our purposes here is that the first set of writings, the Homilies, is prefaced by a letter allegedly written by Peter to James, the brother of Jesus and head of the church in Jerusalem. This letter also attacks the so-called apostle to the Gentiles.
The letter does not mention Paul by name. But it is not too difficult to see who the author's "enemy" is: it is someone who works among the Gentiles and teaches them that it is not necessary for them to keep the law. As we will see more fully in a later chapter, that is precisely what Paul himself taught (see ial. 2:15; 5:2-5).

As might be expected, this polemic against Paul comes to expression also in the Clementine writings themselves. This is especially true of the Homilies. Both here and elsewhere we find accounts similar to those in the Acts of Peter where Peter becomes involved with a controversy with Simon (Magus). But in this writing it becomes clear that Simon Magus in fact is a cipher for none other than Paul himself. This is evident, for example, when Peter attacks a thinly disguised Paul for thinking that his very brief encounter with Christ in his vision while on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus (a reference to Acts 9) could authorize him to teach a gospel that stands at odds with that proclaimed by Peter, who spent an entire year with Christ while he was still living and is, according to Christ's own words, the Rock on which the church is built. As Peter says:
"And if our Jesus appeared to you and became known in a vision and met you as angry and an enemy, yet he has spoken only through visions and dreams or through external revelations. But can anyone be made competent to teach through a vision? And if your opinion is that that is possible, why then did our teacher spend a whole year with us who were awake? How can we believe you even if he has appeared to you? ... But if you were visited by him for the space of an hour and were instructed by him and thereby have become an apostle, then proclaim his words, expound what he has taught, be a friend to his apostles, and do not contend with me, who am his confidant; for you have in hostility withstood me, who am a firm rock, the foundation stone of the Church." (
Homilies 17 .19) (79-80)

We have solid evidence to suggest that already during the New Testament period there were Christians forging letters in Paul's name. The evidence comes in a letter that itself claims to be written by Paul—2 Thessalonians—in which the author warns his readers against a letter circulating in his name that he himself did not actually write (2 Thess. 2:2). The irony is that a number of scholars, for pretty good reasons, suspect that Paul did not write 2 Thessalonians itself. This makes for a rock-solid argument that there were Pauline forgeries in the first century. Either 2 Thessalonians is from Paul's own hand and he knows of a forgery that is floating around in his name, or 2 Thessalonians is not from Paul's hand and is itself a forgery. Either way, there are forgeries circulating in Paul's name. (93)

The evidence that Luke sometimes modified the information he received—or that his sources of information had already modified it—is even clearer when you compare his account of Paul with Paul's account of himself. Sometimes the differences are minor matters that simply suggest Luke got a piece of information wrong. Other differences are quite important, because they affect the way we understand Paul's gospel message and his mission as a Christian evangelist. (97)

Sometimes the differences between Paul's self-portrait and the portrait in Acts involve the content of Paul's message. According to Acts, for example, when Paul is speaking to a group of pagan philosophers in Athens, he tells them that they and all pagans worship many gods because they simply don't know any better. But God is forgiving of this oversight and wants them to realize that he alone is to be worshiped. Now, having learned the truth, they can repent and believe in Jesus (Acts 17). It is interesting to contrast this with what Paul himself says about the pagan religions in his own writings. In his letter to the Romans Paul is quite blunt: pagans worship many gods not because they are ignorant. In fact, it is just the opposite: pagans know perfectly well there is only one God, and they've rejected that knowledge of God in order to worship other gods. Because they've known all along what they are doing, God is not at all forgiving of them, but is incensed and sends his wrath down upon them (Rom. 1:18-32). (98)

One of the other interesting features of the passage in 1 Thessalonians is that it presupposes a view of the universe that no educated person holds today, namely, that the universe can be conceived of as a house having three "stories." In the basement is the realm of the dead (below us); where we are now is the realm of the living (on the ground floor); and up above us in the sky (the second floor) is the realm of God and his angels. The idea, then, is that when someone dies, they go down to the place of the dead. Jesus died and went down. Then he was raised up, and he kept going, up to the realm of God. Soon he will come back down, and those who are below us will themselves be raised up, and we who are here on ground level will also be taken up and live forever in the realm of God.
There is nothing to suggest that Paul meant all this symbolically. He, like most Jews of his period, appears to have thought that God really was "up there." The same thought lies behind the story of Jesus' ascension to heaven in Acts 1 and in the intriguing scene in the book of Revelation, where the prophet John sees a "window in the sky" and suddenly finds himself shooting up through it (Rev. 4: 1-2). It is hard to know how these authors would have expressed themselves if they knew that in fact there is no "up" or "down" in our universe, but that there are billions of galaxies, with billions of stars in each of them, all expanding to incredible distances, as they have been for billions of years. Like it or not, we live in a world very different from the one of the authors of the New Testament.
(120-1)

Finally, there is an important theological contrast between this sermon in Acts and Paul's own writings. It has to do with one of the most fundamental questions of Christian doctrine: how is it that Christ's death brings salvation? Paul had a definite view of the matter; so did Luke, the author of Acts. What careful readers have realized over the years is that Paul and Luke express their doctrines of salvation quite differently. According to Paul, Christ's death proides an atonement for sins; according to Luke, Christ's death leads to forgiveness of sins. These are not the same thing.
The idea of atonement is that something needs to be done in order to deal with sins. A sacrifice has to be made that can compensate for the fact that someone has transgressed the divine law. The sacrifice satisfies the just demands of God, whose law has been broken and who requires a penalty. In Paul's view, Jesus' death brought about an atonement: it was a sacrifice made for the sake of others so that they would not have to pay for their sins themselves. This atonement purchased a right standing before God.
The idea of forgiveness is that someone lets you off the hook for something that you've done wrong, without any requirement of payment. If you forgive a debt, it means you don't make the other person pay. That's quite different from accepting the payment of your debt from someone else (which would be the basic idea of atonement). In Paul's own way of looking at salvation, Christ had to be sacrificed to pay the debt of others; in Luke's way of looking at it, God forgives the debt without requiring a sacrifice.
Why then, for Luke, did Jesus have to die, if not as a sacrifice for sins? When you read through the speeches in Acts the answer becomes quite clear. It doesn't matter whether you look at Paul's speeches or Peter's, since, if you'll recall, all these speeches sound pretty much alike (they were, after all, written by Luke). Jesus was wrongly put to death. This was a gross miscarriage of justice. When people realize what they (or their compatriots) did to Jesus, they are overcome by guilt, which leads them to repent and ask for forgiveness. And God forgives them.
Thus Jesus' death, for Luke, is not an atonement for sins; it is an occasion for repentance. It is the repentance that leads to the forgiveness of sins, and thus a restored relationship with God (see, for example, Peter's first speech in Acts 2:37-39). This is fundamentally different from a doctrine of atonement such as you find in Paul.
(143-4)

In any event, even though Luke saw Paul as his hero, in many respects he portrayed Paul in ways unlike Paul's portrayal of himself. In Acts, Paul preaches that God overlooks the ignorance of pagans who worship idols; in his own writings, Paul claims that God knows that pagans aren't ignorant at all but commit idolatry in full knowledge of what they are doing, and so sends down his wrathful judgment upon them. In Acts, Paul meets with the Jerusalem apostles right after his conversion in Damascus, to show that they all stand in agreement on every major issue of the faith; according to Paul, he explicitly did not meet with the apostles after his conversion, showing that he did not receive any instruction in the gospel from them. In Acts, Paul is portrayed as being in complete harmony with Peter and the other apostles; according to Paul, he had major disagreements with the Jerusalem apostles, especially Peter, in an ugly confrontation in the city of Antioch over significant implications of his gospel message. In Acts, Paul preaches that God forgives those who have sinned and does not mention that the death of Jesus was an atoning sacrifice for sin; according to Paul, God requires blood to be shed to pay for sin, and his entire gospel is that Jesus' death is, in fact, an atonement. In Acts, Paul is portrayed as never doing anything contrary to the dictates of Jewish law; according to Paul, when he was with Gentiles he "lived as a Gentile." In Acts, Paul has the Gentile Timothy circumcised so as not to offend other Jewish Christians; according to Paul, he refused to have the Gentile Titus circumcised despite Jewish-Christian insistence, because for Paul this would have been a violation of his entire gospel message. (154-5)

To take another example: Paul was quite clear and explicit in I Corinthians that people should not think that the resurrection had already occurred as a kind of spiritual experience, as we have seen. His opponents in Corinth claimed to be leading a resurrected existence. They maintained that at their baptisms they had been raised with Christ from the dead and were now experiencing a glorified existence. Paul writes 1 and 2 Corinthians to argue that it simply is not so, that life in the present in fact is filled with inglorious pain, because the followers of Jesus are the followers of a crucified man. Like him, they too will suffer. The resurrection will occur only when Christ returns and redeems this world, destroying the forces of evil, raising the dead for judgment, and transforming the bodies of his followers into glorified, immortal beings. As Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans, those who have been baptized have died with Christ, in that they have participated in his death, but they have not yet been raised with him (Rom. 6: 1-6). That will happen only at the end, when he returns.
Just the opposite message is proclaimed in the letter to the Ephesians, also attributed to Paul, but probably written by a "second" Paul. Here the author spends a good portion of his letter bolstering his readers by letting them know that they have already experienced the spiritual resurrection, and that they are therefore already "sitting in the heavenly places" (see Eph. 2:5-6). It may seem odd that someone would write this in Paul's name, since this is precisely the view that he opposes in his letters to the Corinthians. But there it is: sometimes even one's followers misconstrue the message. (Ask any university professor who has graded final exams.)
(157)

Many of the events narrated in the Gospel stories of Jesus' death have clear parallels to prophecies of Scripture that later Christians claimed that Jesus fulfilled. That Jesus was killed with two robbers, that his garments were divided up between the soldiers, that he was silent during the entire proceeding, that he called out the words of the Psalms at the end, that his legs were not broken—all these, and many other events besides, were seen by Christians as rooted in biblical passages such as Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. Some scholars have stressed that this relationship between the events narrated and the biblical passages to which Christians turned to make sense of the events is not accidental—that in fact when Christians came to attach salvific significance to the death of Jesus they searched their Scriptures to help them understand why it had happened. They landed on passages that talked about the suffering and death of God's righteous one. These passages affected the ways they told the stories of Jesus' suffering and death. The Psalms and the book of Isaiah, then, colored the ways Jesus' crucifixion was remembered. Later authors wrote down the stories as they had heard them. Only later readers would be able to look at the stories and say, "See—Jesus fulfilled Scripture by the way he died." Of course it would look that way. Scripture itself was the basis for many of the stories in the first place. The stories are not dispassionate accounts of what happened by eyewitnesses who took careful records. They are orally transmitted accounts that have been shaped by the Christians' knowledge of Scripture in the first place. (222)

What most people don't realize is that in the early days of the church, there were also women apostles.
There really shouldn't be any dispute about this matter, since the apostle Paul himself mentions a woman apostle by name in the letter he wrote to the Christians of Rome. At the end of his letter Paul sends greetings to various members of the congregation whom he happens to know (even though he has never visited Rome; he must have met these people elsewhere). Included in his greetings is the following: "Greet Andronicus and Junia, my compatriots and fellow prisoners, who are preeminent among the apostles" (Rom. l6:7). Andronicus is a man's name, and Junia a woman's.
(252)

As it turns out, English Bible translators have sometimes allowed their own biases to affect how they have translated this passage (Rom. 16:7). In such venerable editions as the Revised Standard Version, Junia has undergone a sex change. In these translations she is called not Junia (a woman's name) but Junias (a man's name).
Why would translators make this change? It is not because of what Paul actually wrote. What he wrote was Junia, the name of a woman. In fact, while Junia (feminine) was a common name in the ancient world, Junias (masculine) was not a name at all: it doesn't occur in any ancient Greek text. So what is going on with translations such as the Revised Standard Version? It is purely a matter of patriarchal bias. The translators couldn't believe that a woman could be an apostle, so they made the woman Junia into a nonexistent man, Junias.
(252)

It seems odd that the Gospel of Peter speaks about the "twelve" being grief-stricken after the crucifixion: hasn't Judas gone off to kill himself, leaving only eleven? It should also be noted that when Paul talks about Christ's resurrection appearances in 1 Corinthians, he indicates that Christ "appeared first to Cephas and then to the twelve." What's going on here? It is interesting that neither the Gospel of Peter nor the apostle Paul ever refers explicitly to Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, as the one who betrayed Jesus. Did they not know about it? (265n.)

There is only one reference in the entire New Testament to Jesus as a carpenter, and that is in Mark 6:3. As it turns out, the word carpenter there—the Greek is tekton—has a range of meanings, all involving someone who works with his hands to fashion things. So it could also mean "stonemason" or "blacksmith," for example. If it does mean that Jesus worked with wood, it would probably indicate that he made things like gates and yokes. It is unlikely, given his historical context in a small hamlet in rural Galilee, that he did fine cabinetry. (270n.)


19oct2009From Ashley Montagu's The Prevalence of Nonsense:

Permanent possession of the gold-encrusted blue ribbon for arrant nonsense is conferred, of course, upon the belief that truth is unchanging and that what this book presents as fact will never be regarded as nonsense in its own right. (ix)

Facts, like Scripture, are at the mercy of any clever manipulator. Hence, when confronted by a challenge to one's beliefs, the proper response is not a readiness to believe, or disbelieve, but action designed to verify the facts for oneself. All of human history illuminates the experience that men are much more ready to die for the preservation of the myths they believe in than for the support of truths that demonstrate those myths to be chimerical. (x)

In Milwaukee, in January, 1966, a lighted sign—not just any old sign like FRESH PAINT or something equally unimpressive—was attached to the top of a disabled elevator in the county courthouse. The sign screamed NOT IN SERVICE. And it was lighted. Yet within just a few hours, workmen were called from their job of repair work to free passengers who were trapped in the elevator. Among them were a county judge, the court chaplain, a bailiff with two prisoners, a bondsman, and three women clerks. They had been concentrating on their own special probems; they had always taken this elevator; they took it now. Why bother about signs? (x-xi)

The superstitions and ritual observances of others become increasingly ludicrous to us in direct proportion to the distance between ourselves and the ritualists; thus we note with only passing amusement the alarm of the hostess in the neighborhood who is distraught at setting thirteen places at table; but that a twentieth-century civilized modern city like New Delhi should permit traffic to be brought to a halt by wandering cows, which must not be disturbed because they are sacred animals, brings forth guffaws. The situation is incredible. (6-7)

Here it is necessary to tread with the utmost wariness and retain the nicest control of language, because we have made use of "is" as a predication, employing it to connect a noun and an adjective; and when we do this "we invariably express a false-to-fact relationship,'' as the experts in semantics delight to point out. (7)

So when we say ''human life is sacred" we mean it is holy, hallowed, to be secured against violation, consecrated.
Yet, as Korzybski would be the first to point out, our statement is contrary to fact in that the quality of being sacred is not discoverable in the objective reality called "human life," any more than greenness is in the leaf when we say "the leaf is green" or blue is in the eyes when we say "the eyes are blue." Rays from some light source impinge upon the leaf; some are absorbed and are picked up by the retina to produce an inside-the-person sensation which we have been taught to call green. We all know that. The "green" is a projection from us to the leaf; and the sacred is a projection from us into the human life. We could descend from the tightrope by exchanging "is" for "appears to be" or "should be." But we should remember that "the events outside our skin are neither cold nor warm . . . but these characteristics are manufactured by our nervous systems."
(7-8)

Given the choice of a familiar lie and a strange truth, most men will select the familiar lie. This characteristic was commented upon by Lord Chesterfield in connection with the salons of eighteenth-century London; by Mark Twain among the frontiersmen of nineteenth-century America; and by Stefansson among the Copper River Eskimos of the twentieth century. The trait is universal. (35)

History informs us that the Sepoy Rebellion (l857-58) which shook British rule in India was caused by the discovery on the part of the Moslem and Hindu sepoys that the cartridges for the Enfield rifles, which they had to put into their mouths to uncap (not the rifles), were rumored to be greased with fat from cows and pigs. The cows were sacred to the Hindu; the pigs were defiling to the Moslem. Boom! (63)

V. V. Rozanov, the Russian writer, wrote in his Solitaria, the "private life is above everything .... Just sitting at home, and even picking your nose, and looking at the sunset." There, at least, is one honest man. It is touching that on his deathbed Aldous Huxley should have remembered this passage from Rozanov, and quoted it to Christopher Isherwood. (108-9)

It was Coolidge who "was the contriver of the most persistent and transparent political hoax of twentieth-century America . . . through the medium of 'the White House Spokesman.'" ... All questions had to be submitted in advance, and the correspondents were forbidden to quote the President's answers." His conferences involved only about a dozen newsmen, who could quote only the "Spokesman" and Coolidge was in complete control of the meetings. Here he often waxed garrulous, as well as sharp-witted, informed, and anecdotal. (213)

As long as we are mentally prepared for the shock when some old, beloved, and much-cuddled truth is exposed as cherished nonsense, we are none the worse for being shaken up. (277)


16oct2009

The problem was that gold is too heavy to be constantly lugged around. So, to make it easier for everybody, governments began to issue pieces of paper to represent gold. The deal was, whenever you wanted, you could redeem the paper for gold. The government was just holding your gold for you. But it was YOUR gold! You could get it anytime! That was the sacred promise that the government made to the people. That's why the people trusted paper money. And that's why, to this very day, if you--an ordinary citizen--go to Fort Knox and ask to exchange your U.S. dollars for gold, you will be used as a human chew toy by large federal dogs. Because the government changed the deal. We don't have the gold standard anymore. Nobody does. Over the years, all the governments in the world, having discovered that gold is, like, rare, decided that it would be more convenient to back their money with something that is easier to come by, namely: nothing. So even though the U.S. government still allegedly holds tons of gold in "reserve," you can no longer exchange your dollars for it. You can't even see it, because visitors are not allowed. For all you know, Fort Knox is filled with Cheez Whiz.
Which brings us back to the original question: If our money really is just pieces of paper, backed by nothing, why is it valuable? The answer is:
Because we all believe it's valuable.
Really, that's pretty much it. Remember the part in
Peter Pan where we clap to prove that we believe in fairies and we save Tinker Bell? That's our monetary system! It's the Tinker Bell System! We see everybody else running around after these pieces of paper, and we figure, Hey, these pieces of paper must be valuable. That's why if you exchanged your house for, say, a pile of acorns, everybody would think you're insane; whereas if you exchange your house for a pile of dollars, everybody thinks you're rational, because you get ... pieces of paper! The special kind, with the big hovering eyeball!
And you laughed at the ancient Chinese, with the seashells.
Dave Barry's Money Secrets (pp. 10-11)


14oct2009From Charles Bowden's Frog Mountain Blues:

We have enough mill towns, boom towns, strip cities, and concrete plains of subdivisions, and if we want more, we can easily build them. We have never built a range like the Santa Catalinas, and there is no surplus of such ground in our world. (11)

In 1916 an old man spent his last winter on earth at Campo Bonito just below Oracle Ridge. When he was born in 1846 in LeClaire, Iowa, they called him William Frederick Cody, and when he died in 1917 he was known all over the world as Buffalo Bill. (26)

He never faltered in his sense of the West as theater. Once in "The Wild West" he employed Sitting Bull as a spectacle in his road productions (whatever Cody was doing the word "show" was never used in any of the publicity). When Sitting Bull was murdered in 1890 by Indian police, his horse from the "Wild West" tour, a gift from Buffalo Bill, apparently sensed some cue from the old act in the shooting and sat down in the middle of the flying bullets and raised one hoof. The Indian police were terrified, thinking Sitting Bull's spirit had entered the horse. Cody later retrieved the beast and used him in the tour. (26)

I fumble around trying to discover what the big rock pile means to the cantankerous old man. He looks at me like I'm a certifiable idiot.
"That old mountain," he almost whispers, "that's been the beauty thing of my life." (49)

The mountain stands as a monster example of what geographers call the basin and range province, a stretch of arid ground south of the Colorado Plateau characterized by lonely peaks awash in a desert of soils crumbled off their flanks. What these words mean is that you can walk from hot desert to the cool of a Douglas fir in a day, travel from Arizona to Canada in a few hours. (52)

For about a century, some people have been expecting great things of this site, a pine forest next to a desert city. The great things have yet to happen.
Summerhaven harbors a few hundred cabins on federal and deeded land, almost no work, a long commute to Tucson and a sewage problem that grows more intricate each year and is never resolved.
The thing people have dreamed of, the big money, has yet to arrive. Down the road a little from the village center is The Retreat. In July 1984, The Retreat advertised itself this way: "For the select few. A few very select homes. Think of it."
(67)

He liked to drink Blatz in long-necked bottles, and he built his bunk exactly one Blatz high so that he could store a row of the cases right underneath. (68)

When the grove along Sabino Creek was cut for the new ski run, people discovered something they had not known. They found out a little about the trees they killed.
One, now a stump near the top of the run, had lived quite a life as it turned out. The rings on the flat stump revealed the fir had been growing on the slope since 1430.
It had been, at least until October 1984, the oldest known living thing in Southern Arizona. Nobody has much of a handle on what time means to a tree. But we can make stabs at what time means to us: when Columbus set sail to discover a new world, the fir was 62 years old; when Cortez burned his fleet on the beach and marched to the Aztec capitol, it was 89; when Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, 346; and when Tucson became an American town on the desert below, 423.
(94-6)

In less than a mile we hit the fork to The Window, a hole in the rock fifteen feet high and twenty-five wide. This aperture can be seen clearly at times in the city below. In 1915 or 1916, a railroad engineer, M. M. McDole, decided he would go up the mountain to view the formation. He figured it would not take too long on a horse. The canyons boxed up and forced him into hard scrambles. By dark, he pitched camp in a little grassy area far below The Window. During the night his campfire spread and burned up his pants. He rode out that dawn in his underwear and never tried to see The Window again. The Front Range is like that—immediate, close, inviting. And then when entered: hard, slow, and hostile. (108)

I am the child of the greatest industrial explosion ever witnessed by the planet, and there is no forest I can ever disappear into. Wherever I go, I bring the world that created me lodged within my head. (113)

A lot of American books these days begin with a sense of loss and I can understand why. I was born in 1945 and spent my first years in a stone house built during the Civil War. Before I could vote, a wrecking ball toppled the fourteen-room fortress to the ground and the ten-acre woods of hundred-year-old oaks across the lane gave way to a nest of fancy homes. (118)

The cows came and they did increase. But the land lashed back. In 1891, Arizona's governor estimated that 1,500,000 cattle were busy eating the Territory. Then came drought and the cows dropped dead. Old reports claim that a man in southern Arizona could skip a stone across the region from carcass to carcass. The grasslands diminished or vanished, the streams and rivers fell away into the sands, and all the numbers proudly printed in pamphlets like that put out by the Santa Catalina Stock Raising Company, all these visions of big bucks went bust and ranchers went belly up.
The land I have come to love is in many ways a ruin left me by my ancestors, and as I stand in this lonely canyon on the Catalinas backside I am viewing an invalid struggling to come back from a savage illness. I would not know this fact except for the books and pamphlets that track this orgy of greed and enterprise. I accept the landscape the way I see it and find it not wanting. But still, I must consider that it once was lusher, more diverse, and more teeming. Down below me on the flats, antelope once ran. Now they are gone. Above me on the peaks, bighorns once dominated, and now they are refugees on one isolated ridge of the range. The black bear clings in small numbers; the grizzly has not been seen for more than half a century. The jaguar no longer visits. No one hears the cry of a wolf.
(124)

In the case of the Catalinas, I can think of no greater future asset for my city than to make the range a complete wilderness. When a million or a million-and-a-half people live within Tucson's confines, the residents will be able to boast that just beyond their jurisdiction lives a wild, free mountain. In a nation where people already must travel long distances to taste the world that greeted their ancestors, Tucson will be able to say such ground exists cheek to jowl with its factories, freeways, and tall office buildings. (135-6)

I would prefer a country where there were no rules and where the land offered endless promise and unrestrained human beings could work out their own salvation or damnation. I would prefer a country that creaked along with little or no government. When I was a boy, my old man liked to tell me of a shipwrecked Irishman who washed up on an island. People found him half dead on the beach, choking on the sea water in his lungs. He coughed and asked them, "Is there a government!" and when they said yes, he snorted, "I'm against it." I understand that story. (140-3)

For a man who savors the past and denounces the future, he seems pretty content with life. One eye is bad but the doctors are going to fix that, he snaps. And his bum leg still bothers him but he's got another appointment in a few weeks to see about some surgery, just as soon as he gets his blood pressure under control. He excuses his zest for life by explaining that he hopes to live to see the coming ruin. (153)


10oct2009

NO BLACKOUTS!*
*Except for the blackouts

(See also: Except exceptions.)


09oct2009From The Fireside Watergate, by Nicholas von Hoffman and Garry Trudeau:

The Cubans are the key, though. Cubans are obedient, trustworthy and the highly satisfactory kind of democrats who will fight for liberty but not use it. (13)

But the great recluse couldn't believe the simple truth because he doesn't believe the truth is simple. There had to be a plot because if he'd stolen the Pentagon Papers it would have been part of a big plot. (14)

A night of rum, patriotism and the scent of money. The Miami realtor laps it up and the two middle-age fuck-ups sit there telling each other that history is calling them.
It was. Ordinarily history rations its great disasters one to a customer. One Spanish Armada for Phillip II, one Waterlao for Napoleon, but for you, Bernardo, and for you, E. Howard Eduardo, there is the Bay of Pigs
and Watergate. Salud! (14)

E. Howard Hunt, Jr.'s books have titles like "I Came To Kill" and "Murder On The Rocks." They contain passages like, "Mind blowing hot pants concealed her delta as she flexed the knee of one long and lovely leg ... stretching back her arms, she resembled Athena in full flight. And just as braless. I gobbled some of my drink." If there had been one literary critic, or one literate in the White House, we wouldn't have had a Watergate. (16)

You forget the cheese eating recluse had gone to a shrink. So it follows he must have told his head shrinker about his conspiracy, and for therapy the doctor had prescribed running for president, and if you get elected that proves you're not crazy, everybody else is. (16)

Even so, the system might have worked if only McCord had a good memory for names, but he was new on his job as chief security officer for the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). He hadn't had much practice at that sort of thing since his last job was to walk around the CIA parking lot in Virginia with a police dog and catch girl and boy spies making out in the back seats. (19)

And bring back a receipt," he called after her, explaining, "If we get caught we're going to need a lot of evidence to shred." (27)

The plan was needlessly simple. Bill who is Al was to check into room 723 at the Howard Johnson Motel across the street from the Watergate. In case he was tailed by any of the McGoverns he was to order up a club sandwich with two or three different flavors of ice cream, and then go to the balcony, take out his binoculars (included) and pretend to look for Democratic girls getting undressed. If interrupted by the police, he was to explain that he was collectng material for Commandante Eduardo's next spy novel , and refer them to Liddy and Hunt who would, meanwhile, have checked into the Watergate Hotel where they would, be playing low-stake gin rummy. At the same time, McCord would lead the Cuban real estate syndicate into the Watergate office building next to the hotel. The realtors would enter through the basement, first picking the locks, and then taping them, all the way up to the Democratic National Committee offices. Simple. Dangerously so. (27-8)

The people at CREEP were ordered to go through the files and pick out ''politically sensitive material" but they were to do it without reading it since it was all top secret, classified and documentary evidence of a conspiracy to break the law. Some Creepsters decided that, under the circumstances, it was more practical to shred the laws. If the laws were destroyed, there'd be no way to prove that they'd been violated. (41)

"Look, couldn't I please get that money and go on my honeymoon?" asked Dean. "Destroying evidence is work best left to the police. They're trained. They know how to do it." (44)

"Get the hell away from me," said Richard Kleindienst who was to display the same tin ear for nuance throughout the coming months, "Can't you see I'm playing" golf? FORE!!!" (49)

Young Hugh W. Sloan, Jr., the campaign treasurer with two FBI agents parked outside his door, had decided matters were not proceeding as they'd been described to him in his poli sci course at Princeton. (50)

So it was decided to leak the existence of the lists. Rich radic libs, seeing their names left off, would pay good money to get on the list and avoid the stigma of being considered a friend of the administration. (67)

"Let me just say that in relation to the subject you've been asking about, specifically, the Egil Krogh situation, I am not really prepared today to be responsive in any detail to your questions based upon the same proposition or premise that I put to you the other day. At some point, we will be able to and intend to be more responsive to, your questions." (76)


30sep2009From Home Games: Two Baseball Wives Speak Out, a book in the form of letters between Bobbie Bouton (ex-wife of Jim Bouton) and Nancy Marshall (ex-wife of Mike Marshall)

Hope this gets to you. We laugh because the Mexican airmail stamp has a picture of a bicycle on it. (BB; 148)

Right now we're fighting because I won't agree to having the refrigerator seventeen feet across the room from the sink and stove. Jim says I never compromise and don't deserve such a nice house. He's right! I never compromise—I give in, but not this time. Do you know that the only time I remember saying no was the time he was going to buy a child's coffin to use as a coffee table? (BB;154-5)

So one day, after having lunch and listening to how excited Mike was about how he was pitching, I called the Minnesota Twins and asked for Gene Mauch. When Gene answered the phone, I told him how surprised I was to get right through to him. He said, "When you're a clean-living person, you have no reason to hide." (NM; 157)

I've been seeing an interesting man. He's an ex-mayor of a neighboring town who made national news a few years back by turning down a bribe. (BB; 172)

I have to admit to you, girl, that I'm not looking forward to the shit hitting the fan when the book is published. My brother told me that he thinks I should either write it under a ghost name or wait until Mom and Dad are no longer living. Too late. (NM; 247-8)


29sep2009The fearsome Marci Cupcake sent an Amy Grant book...

...which is something that happens when you run a website called Amy Grant's Mandible. The book is full of stuff like this:

Salt water is the greatest component of our world, yet some people have never seen an ocean. That doesn't change the ocean. It is constant and powerful, and like the love of God, whether we're immersed in it, standing on the shore, or a thousand miles away, it remains. — Amy Grant, Mosaic (p. 25)

There are at least two problems with the pulpit illustration approach to the universe: (1) it's trite; (2) it's complete horseshit. In this case . . . well, yes. Many people have not seen an ocean. Check it out, though: MILLIONS OF PEOPLE HAVE SEEN AN OCEAN, whereas even the Bible admits that "No man hath seen God at any time." There's a clear and easy option available to anyone who wants to know whether the ocean really exists. Anyone who wants to know God really exists is told to take actions that basically amount to clicking one's heels together three times and hoping blindly.

Telling and depressing conclusion: The book will sell at least a million copies, easy.


24sep2009

The 1967 Paul McCartney on not freaking out and just fucking letting it be:

I really wish that people that look with, sort of, anger—at the weirdos, at the happenings, at the psychedelic freakouts—would, instead of just looking with anger, just look with nothing, and with no feeling. You know? Be unbiased about it. Because they really don't realize that what these people are talking about is something that they really want themselves. It's something that everyone wants. It's personal freedom, to be able to talk, to be able to say things. And it's dead straight, it's a real, sort of basic pleasure for everyone. But it looks weird, from the outside. Even though everyone is sort of getting on very well in this society we've got, it's a bit too controlled. You want to go and do something, and somebody says, "Oh, well, no. Subsection B, Clause, A. You can't do that." And you say, Well, why not? I'm a human being. Haven't I got my rights? "Well, yes, but you're not allowed to do that." Well, if it doesn't interfere with anyone, it must be okay. And they say, "Sorry. Still isn't."

So I think a lot of people have twigged that they've shut themselves in a bit. They got all these rules for everything. Rules of how to live, how to paint, how to make music. And it's just not true anymore. They don't work, all those rules. You can't apply them, because it means then that you're assuming that you know it all. And we don't know it all, yet. . . . What the whole scene is trying to see where we are now, and see what we've got around us, see any mistakes we've made, and straighten them out. It's just a straightforward endeavor to do something, other than what's been done before, because what's been done before isn't necessarily the answer. There could be another answer. So there's nothing strange about it. It's just dead straight. It's that they're talking about things that are a bit new, and they're talking about things people don't too much about yet, and so people sort of put them down a bit, and say, "weirdo," "psychedelic" and things. But it's really just what's going on around, and they're just trying to look into it a bit. So next time you see any new strange word, like psychedelic, drugs—the whole bit—freakout music, and all of that, don't immediately take it as that. Your first reaction's got to be one of fear, but if you don't know anything about it, you can sort of trust that it's probably going to be all right. It's probably not that bad. It's human beings doing it, and you know vaguely what human beings do. And they're probably going to think of it nearly the same way you would in that situation. And that's true, you know. You can trust to the fact that things are generally not as bad as you make them out to be.

The 2009 Sir Paul McCartney on maybe freaking out just a tiny bit:

Sir Paul McCartney has admitted he has still not played The Beatles: Rock Band - and fears he would be hopeless.

The musician said he thought the computer game - which goes on sale this week - looked too tough.

In an interview with NME, out on Wednesday, Sir Paul said: ''I haven't tried it. When you go to a demo they play it and I go 'God, that looks hard'.''

The Fab Four's bass player and vocalist pointed out he often took a while to get to grips with new technology.

''I think you either don't embrace the modern day or you do embrace it,'' he said. ''For instance, I held out on mobile phones for years. I could see everyone using them, I thought they were poncy. But then I got one and thought 'This is good'.

''So I'm not a dinosaur, I probably resist most trends until I think 'I'll have a go at this'


23sep2009From Roger L. Ransom's The Confederate States of America: What Might Have Been

The Founding Fathers were so concerned about money that they included in the Constitution a clause stating that only the federal government could print money. The idea was to prevent state governments from recklessly printing money, an action that produced economic chaos. However, innovative entrepreneurs soon found a way around the constitutional limit on the printing of money: They established commercial banks. As private corporations banks could not issue money, but they could print banknotes, and people soon discovered that banknotes could be used to pay for just about anything. (53)

Finally, it is important to recognize that Northern views of the slave South were heavily colored by the racial prejudice north of the Mason-Dixon Line. The fact that slaves were of African descent produced a considerable antipathy in the North toward the question of emancipation as a solution for the slave problem. On the one hand, many Northerners agreed that slavery was morally wrong. On the other hand, racial prejudice against African-Americans meant that there was little desire on the part of white people in the free states to have large numbers of African-Americans set free—particularly if one worried that the freed slaves might come North. Thus racial prejudice worked to lessen the impact of the moral messages of abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison, while at the same time it produced a strong sentiment that slaves should not be set free and made equal to whites. (56)

We have argued that secession was a foregone conclusion if Lincoln was elected. Does this mean that war was inevitable? Obviously, war is never inevitable. Indeed, from an economist's perspective, it is not even rational; a peaceful solution that would be "cheaper" than fighting a major war almost always exists. But as David Potter reminds us, wars do not come about because of a series of rational choices from an ordered list of alternatives. "[I]f we examine the record of modern wars," claims Potter, "it would seem that the way people get into a war is seldom by choosing it; usually it is by choosing a course that leads to it—which is a different thing altogether." (67)

A major argument made by those urging secession in 1860 was the need for the South to escape the corrupting influences of a capitalist North, an example of which was the practice of pork barrel legislation that annually expropriated large sums for various rivers and harbors throughout the United States. Southerners believed that they consistently got the short end of these political deals. Here again, the men writing the Confederate Constitution were determined to leave nothing to chance; they insisted that no clause should "ever be construed to delegate to Congress the power to appropriate money for any internal improvement intended to facilitate commerce." (191-2)

(See also)


15sep2009Mas guapo guapo en todos las telenovelas es?

René Casados, as Bruno Mendízabal, from La Madrasta (The Stepmother)!

TEST YOUR SKILL

Q: Which two images are the same?

A: They are all the same.
(Anywhere but Mexico: an egregious Mexican stereotype; In Mexico: an egregious Mexican stereotype. Claro?)


12sep2009Cardhouse.com dispatch:

"I took a road/train trip through PA NV CO UT MI CA OH IN IL NE IA AZ WI."


11sep2009Author Faces Down Angry Picketers, Dead Composer; Twenty Dead, More Wounded (details)


10sep2009Never again will I complain about bumpy ambulance rides, I swear.

ambushityourpants

06sep2009"I'm a PC—and . . . I can't be trusted to run your TV real estate show."

Unhandled Exception

05sep2009Hapless dubbed dialogue from Così come sei (1978)

Look . . . I know, I know . . . you're right. It's just . . . at my age . . . one's always dreaming of a girl just like you. But there are certain reasons why . . . do you suffer from stomach upset? You don't. Well, you'll see—one day you will, take my word for it. But there are . . . other . . . reasons.


02sep2009MediaMonkey says

Tired of: Beggin', Being Alone, Being Lonely, Being Your Fool, Crying, Crying Over You, Falling In and Out of Love, Livin', Living, Love, Midnight Blue, Towing the Line, Travellin', Waitin', Waiting, Waiting for You, Waking Up Tired, You Driving Me, Your Honky-Tonk Love.


31aug2009From Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme, by Chris Roberts:

It was apparently customary in the long ago and far away to secure a building or bridge through sacrifice to the deities of the area or river. The preferred offering involved children, their blood, or, if possible, the sealing in of a child with a candle and hunk of bread at the foot of the bridge. When the Bridge Gate at Bremen was demolished in the nineteenth century, the skeleton of a child was indeed found implanted in the foundations. ( 13)

The coming of universal education was a disaster for the Welsh language. Children were dissuaded from talking in Welsh even in the playground, where something called the "Welsh Not" was passed around. This was a large block of wood with WN etched onto it, which a child had to wear when he was caught speaking Welsh, as a precursor to being punished for using to many Ls and Ys in his speech. (156; see also)


28aug2009Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Be Americans

Sauerkraut Wurst Und Other Delights

Cecilia unde Die Sauerkrauts

("Other" is about right.)

(More parodies here)


26aug2009Teddy Kennedy

Lew Rockwell: "I only met him once, at my father’s club in Boston, during an appearance by Jack (and Bobby and Teddy) during Jack’s easy 1958 reelection campaign for senate. My impression then, and my impression now, was that Jack was smart, Bobby was very smart, and Teddy was stupid. So who was running him all these years?"

Well, former Arizona congressman Sam Steiger used to tell a story about Teddy Kennedy who, Steiger claimed, never went anywhere without a bunch of handlers to feed him information and try to keep him out of trouble as best they could. Appearing before a committee chaired by Kennedy, Steiger voiced an un-Kennedy-like opinion but, surprisingly, Teddy piped up with, "Well, that's just what I always say!" Then, turning to his handlers: "Er . . . isn't it?"

(A few days after I heard Steiger tell that story, I heard a Boston-born coworker loudly expressing support of Teddy Kennedy and his policies. I asked her which policies and why. She recited the party line, but when I raised objections she couldn't answer, she suddenly blurted out, "Wait! I just realized—these aren't my opinions!")


20aug2009From two pieces of paper in the same T-Mobile bill envelope

Information about the Regulatory Program Fee

As you know, T-Mobile, like other wireless carriers, charges its customers a regulatory cost recovery fee. T-Mobile's Regulatory Programs Fee (RPF) is not a tax but is a fee we collect and retain to help us recover the costs associated with funding and complying with a variety of government mandates, programs, and obligations. . . .

[That's a lot of words where "shit rolls downhill" would do. I always wonder what people are thinking when they say they want bureaucrats to sock it to the corporations—where do they think corporations get the money to hand over to bureaucrats?]

Act right. Do right.

T-Mobile is honored to be named one of the world's most ethical companies. . . . In these tough economic times, it's as important as ever to do right, and help customers get value for their money.

[Somebody really sucks at math.]


18aug2009A couple of things noticed in "Why we say yes to drugs": Salon's review of This Is Your Country on Drugs

1.

"Early American settlers drank like fish, even the Puritans (though, as Grim fails to note, this was likely a habit transferred from Europe, where the water in many communities wasn't potable)."

This is also one of the arguments religious teetotalers use to excuse Jesus's turning water into wine (the other is that he turned the water into unfermented grape juice).

But doesn't alcohol tend to dehydrate? So how could drinking more of it be an acceptable substitute for drinking water? Does anyone know?

2.

"Grim points out that aggressive attacks on growers and suppliers cause centralization of the drug trade (only big organizations can afford the losses)...."

People who look to governments for the solution to the situation of large corporations driving small businesses out of the marketplace need to realize that government is what enables this to happen. "Only big organizations can afford the losses" imposed by surging bureaucratic regulation. Only big organizations can afford lobbyists to influence lawmakers (and, sometimes, actually draft the laws the lawmakers sign off on). When you accept authority and bureaucracy, what you end up with is corporatism, which is another name (Mussolini's original name, actually) for fascism. Check your dictionary.


06aug2009Grandma Prisbrey

From Claudia Queen's Grandma Prisbrey

Well, I was comin' home—I drove a Studebaker pickup—and I was two blocks from home when I heard a whistle, and a red light, and you know what that means. That's resisting an officer, but I didn't stop. I was so close to home. So I got out of the car and I says, "Now what have I done?" Well, he says, "You got a license to carry all of that stuff?" I says, "No, I haven't." You know, you've gotta have a license! He says, "Your back window's broke." I says, "I know it." He says, "You have no tail light." I says, "I know it." He says, "You haven't no muffler, either." I says, "I know it." And then he went up ahead where I get in at, tested my horn? He says, "You haven't got no horn, either." I says, "I know it." Then he goes around and he tested my emergency brake. "You haven't got no emergency brake!" "No, and I haven't got no license, either, now what do you know about that?" Well, that little book he had, there, you couldn't put that all down!"

You know, I got funny ideas about a lot of things that I don't know how I got. Like tying thirteen hundred toothbrushes on a tree only about a foot-and-a-half high. Now, isn't that silly? And a button tree. I had a button tree! And all . . . crazy things!

I had quite an imagination, didn't I? I think I did, anyway.

They used to call me, "ooh, an artist!" Well, I thought an artist was somebody that drawed a picture, or painted pictures. But . . . I guess I was an artist.

From Grandma's Bottle Village: The Art of Tressa Prisbrey, by Allie Light and Irving Saraf

Oh, I just took a notion.

I tell you, a funny thing has happened here.

Grandma P's sister: It's hard to believe that she made, built, all this!
Grandma P: I can't believe it myself!

Grandma P's sister: When she first started, she came over and borrowed my wheelbarrow. And she used to mix cement in that—with her hands . . . that's the way she worked.
Grandma P: Then I got educated to a trowel.

People'd compliment me and I'd wonder what for? I was having fun!

(See also)


03aug2009From Ron Paul's Mises and Austrian Economics

It is only with full assurance gained from Austrian economics, and the example of Mises's character, that I am able to tolerate the daily circus of Congress.
Economic knowledge is not nearly as scarce in Washington as one might suspect from a superficial observation of Congress. Other Congressmen frequently express sound judgments to me privately egarding deficits and runaway expenditures. What they lack is the
will to resist the pressure groups. (7)

Obviously one cannot deal in polities without being aware of human nature and how interventionism attracts demagogues. Refuting the demagogues who prate about their great skills during the boom, and shout louder and louder for statism as the busts get more severe with each cycle, seems an overwhelming task. It is easy to see that many economic "recoveries" are nothing but more of the same—spending and inflating our way into a new cycle, hoping for yet another boom, which may or may not materialize. Eventually, the deceitful trick of inflation will fail to create "prosperity." When that time comes, due to the sustained period of inflation that we have endured, we can expect a serious political and economic crisis for Western civilization. The incantations of supply-sidism, monetarism, or Keynesianism will not suffice, and the fascist and socialist voices of oppression will grow louder and more influential. (15)

(See also)


22jul2009Life imitating art? News imitating literature?

Police investigate 'Nazi' gnome

Nazi gnomes John Christopher The Little People

21jul2009EFFICIENT AMAZING POWERFUL PERFECT

Next time I have an extra-stupid idea for an invention, I'm going to comfort myself by comparing it with this:

Dream Products ripoff

Why, it's as if lightning showed up at your house and asked whether you'd mind if it cleaned your windows! Is what I'd think if the illustration worked on me!


17jul2009Life coaching tip

Keeping a running list of your plans and ideas is an important organizational tool for continually reminding yourself that you never follow through on plans or ideas.


16jul2009Our Open Government

None other than disgraced senator Ted Stevens was the poor sap who made the unpleasant discovery that if Congress didn't like the Fed handing trillions of dollars to banks without any oversight, Congress could apparently go fuck itself—or so said the law. When Stevens asked the GAO about what authority Congress has to monitor the Fed, he got back a letter citing an obscure statute that nobody had ever heard of before: the Accounting and Auditing Act of 1950. The relevant section, 31 USC 714(b), dictated that congressional audits of the Federal Reserve may not include "deliberations, decisions and actions on monetary policy matters." The exemption, as Foss notes, "basically includes everything." According to the law, in other words, the Fed simply cannot be audited by Congress. Or by anyone else, for that matter. (Rolling Stone)


15jul2009Re: the Titan Missile Silo visit, here's. . .

. . . Father LaRue's Titan Missile Silo panoramas


14jul2009Warning to everyone currently working on a project (that should mean every single one of you):

June 30, 2009
A friend of mine has a unique selling proposition: he was the only Ph.D-holding historian to witness the Kennedy assassination.
Do you think there is a market for a book here? I do. So does he.
For over four decades, he has studied the assassination. He has taught history classes on it. He has had hundred of students dig into the files.
He has been writing a book on this for 30 years. He never finishes. I am afraid he will die before going public.
Yesterday, I outlined the following marketing strategy for him.
[&c.]

July 11, 2009
This week, my friend Bill Marina died unexpectedly at age 72. He had a heart attack. I had feared that this would happen, although I knew nothing of his health. It was because of his unfinished book, a book on the Kennedy assassination. Bill was the only professional historian to be present in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. He had worked on the book for decades. I worried that he would not finish his book. Now he won't.
He had posted an article on a history blog site at 5 a.m., July 7, a few hours before he died. He had no inkling that he was about to die.


11jul2009

I am wearing a bandage because during a 6-hour lunch yesterday the table rubbed skin off my elbow. I have a conversation injury.


10jul2009Facetious advice from Ira Wallach's How to be Deliriously Happy (1950), as slavishly followed by contemporary bureaucrats

I will begin by discussing those who owe more than $10,000. Their problem is relatively simple. Their problem is not to get out of debt, but to get more deeply into debt. ["President Obama's ambitious plans to cut middle-class taxes, overhaul health care and expand access to college would require massive borrowing over the next decade, leaving the nation mired far deeper in debt than the White House previously estimated, congressional budget analysts said yesterday."] They can succeed only if they carefully follow one important rule: Borrow!
Yes, borrow! ["The U.S. government is borrowing record amounts to finance deficit spending."] Memorize this word.
The man who owes $ 10,000 should set as his goal a debt of $25,000. He will have to fight hard to achieve it, but is anything worth winning that is won without struggle? Let him apply to banks, corporations, and individuals for money. Using a bold approach, such a man can manage to become involved in various financial disasters. A little thoughtless speculation will help. With know-how and stick-to-it-iveness he should win through to a $25,000 debt. ["The debt stands today at a staggering $11.4 trillion —equivalent to about $37,000 for each and every American. And it's expanding by over $1 trillion a year."]
Today any man who owes $25,000 has arrived. His material worries will disappear. He will find that he can command the best of everything, and head waiters will have a special bow for him. He has put himself in a situation in which his creditors have a vested interest in him. ["In 1980, the U.S. was the world's largest creditor nation. By the early '90s, we were running such a massive trade deficit we became the world's largest debtor nation."] They cannot afford to let him down. ["The US cannot afford for China to sell its US treasuries but, equally, China cannot afford to see the value [of its treasury bonds] slide."]
With faith in his creditors, such a man should lead a full and integrated life, provided he lives reasonably and is careful not to let the shadow of solvency blot out the sunlight of his days. ["In the United States, the danger of debt insolvency is growing, putting at risk the currency reserves of foreign countries, China chief among them."]

+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=

Okay.

Dear Dumbass Bureaucrats:
HOW TO BE DELIRIOUSLY HAPPY IS A BOOK OF HUMOR. YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO FOLLOW ADVICE IN A HUMOR BOOK.*

*Except, in due course, any advice found in mine.


09jul2009

Keith Olbermann feature:
"Worst person . . . INTHEWORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRLD!"

ciped from

Pete and Pete's Artie:
"Strongest man . . . INTHEWORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRLD!"

?


08jul2009Something that happened at work this one time

A few years back, I don't know how it came up (as if I need an excuse), but I was showing someone the "X" in my left palm, the scar I got from getting accidentally hanged by the hand as a child. So this Christerly middle-aged woman peered over her glasses, and said, "NOW you know how CHRIST felt!"

Well, of course that had to go up on the office whiteboard.

From there the phrase passed into the day's conversation. Mine, anyway. Later that day, the woman I was originally showing the scar to, was griping about having gotten dressed up on a Friday, for a meeting that never ended up taking place. "I feel like I got all dressed up on a Friday for nothing!" she said.

I pointed to the board. "NOW you know how CHRIST felt!"

Still later, my computer locked up and I started grousing out loud. Someone said, "Are you sure it's not operator error?" I said, "Positive. For, behold! I am without error. Say—now I DO know how Christ felt."

Moral: Christerly middle-aged women are not amused by talk like this, especially if they are your boss.


07jul2009

"You kids are a little more receptive than the clowns we played to last night. Hope you're not the same kids. Their problem was that they didn't have the understanding of their own lack of commitment, man." — Johnny Thunders & Wayne Kramer, stage banter before Gang War plays "The Harder They Come" (from Street Fighting)


06jul2009Ma phoned just now

Ma: Weren't you eating rice cereal the other day?
Me: Yep.
Ma: Jean wants to make those Rice Krispie candy things, with the marshmallow—
Me: Rice Krispie treats.
Ma: —and she doesn't have the recipe. I thought it might be on the cereal box.
Me: What I was eating was puffed rice from Trader Joe's.
Ma: What's the cereal I'm thinking of?
Me: Rice Krispies.
Ma: Oh! Right.
Me: So you're just looking for the recipe?
Ma: Yeah.
Me: Did you think of looking on the Internet?
Ma: No. . . .
Me: Does Jean have the Internet?
Ma: Of course.
Me: All the information from the world's libraries is at your fingertips—and you're looking for a cereal box?
Ma: See, we don't think that way.

(The coda: Instead of calling her friend with the tip to look on the Internet, or even finding the recipe on the Internet and and emailing it, she found the recipe on the Internet and then called her friend and read it to her over the phone.)


06jul2009MediaMonkey says

"She's a [x]": Backwoods Woman, Bad Motorcycle, Big Bopper, Big Girl Now, Blowout, Bread Baker, Breakaway, Carnival, Dancer, Deceiver, Diamond, Dog, Doll, Drag, Drone, Fat Girl, Fig Neutron, Fine Chick, Fool, Girl, Girl Without a Sweetheart, Go-Go, Going Jessie, Good Woman, Grabber, Great Great Girl, He, Hole, Hum Dinger, Hum Dum Dinger, Jar, Knockout, Lady, Liar, Lover, Mod, Moonlighter, Mover, Mystery, Mystery to Me, Pest, Queen, Rainbow, Rebel, Sensation, Serious Teenager in Love, Setting Sun, Snake, Teaser, Tiger, Waitress (And I'm In Love), Winner, Woman.


05jul2009From Michael Belshaw's All the Loving Wolves: Living and Learning with Wolf Hybrids:

On one occasion I observed some coyote behavior that illustrates the wild canids' ability to use reason to develop tactics to protect their interests. One fine afternoon, I was bulldozing a road down a mountainside in Arizona. My dog was fussing about near the machine when a large coyote approached and barked at her aggressively. The coyote apparently did not see that a human was attached to the bulldozer, and concentrated his attention on the dog. As I watched, his purpose became evident. While he barked to distract the dog, his mate safely made her way up an arroyo behind him. After she had cleared the area, he backed away and followed her. (30-1)

In winter, the wolf will have a thick undercoat that provides warmth and protection, and the guard hairs, especially on the ruffs, will thicken and lengthen. The coat contains a lanolin-like substance that provides waterproofing; if you rub your hand through the coat of a wolf or wolf hybrid, the skin will be pleasantly softened. The coats will shed in the spring and fall, so be prepared to gather bushels of the stuff to give to your local weaver. The fur spins easily into fine, strong threads, and sweaters made from it are reported to be exceptionally warm. (41)

I am sometimes asked if wolves make good guard animals. In the usual sense, I think not. The wolf is a cautious, highly intelligent animal. These two characteristics associated with survival help the wolf to steer clear of scrapes unless they are unavoidable, or the odds are greatly in his favor and the prospect is irresistible. [Cp. Apache battle tactics] A pure wolf also is very suspicious of humans. He mistrusts and shuns them, with good reason, and therefore makes a poor watch animal. (42)

Since wolves and wolf hybrids love young things, they tend to accept children and are adored by them in return. However, it is important for children and adults to understand the difference between teasing and playing. Human children or adults may engage in play with them for hours on end, and still will tire before the wolf hybrids do. But if the human teases, the wolf hybrid will grow angry and snap. Any injury that results will not be the fault of the canid. The wolf hybrid may for a short while tolerate being used as a drum, but he will not accept it for long. (47-8)

Occasionally one hears a solo song, without chorus. In my pack, Sitka usually is the soloist in a melody with variations, a melancholy cry of six or seven notes within an octave. After this first offering, he lowers his head, yawns, pauses reflectively and wails the same phrase again but with a slight difference, perhaps prolonging a note, using a glissando, or adding a note or two. There may be ten or more variations on this initial theme which is never exactly duplicated. It seems as if a thought process and experimentation are involved.
Of course, wolves and wolf hybrids can and do bark. Fortunately, this is rare and purposeful. If a wolf hybrid barks, pay attention, for something is amiss—there is a rattlesnake in the pen, or a strange, unwelcome human.
(66-7)

The placement of legs, tail and head all convey signals and messages. A tail straight out behind, with head slightly lowered, front legs stiffened, eyes fixed on yours, accompanied by a low growl, constitutes a distinct warning. The animal is positioned to leap, one hopes not at the throat. (67)

In 1978, an Ojibway woman, Elsie Wolfe, who ironically was a member of the wolf clan, was found partly consumed by wolves. (80)

For their part, wolf hybrids are often frustrated in their friendly overtures toward dogs. Wolf protocol—the necessary etiquette that allows a pack to function—is unfamiliar to dogs. So their meetings with the hybrids produces misunderstandings. It is as if two persons from widely different cultures—say a Moslem and a Maori—were confront each other's foreign values and customs. The Moslem does not touch with his left hand, while the Maori will try to rub noses. (82-3)


04jul2009SCOREBOARD

 

FREEDOM
TYRANNY
0 I lost count

 


03jul2009MediaMonkey says

"Down in the [x]": Alley, Bahamas, Black Bottom, Boondocks, Bottom, Churchyard, Desert, Groovy, Ground, Hole, Indies, Jailhouse On My Knees, Lab, Mine, Park, Sewer, Subway, Tube Station at Midnight, U-17, Valley, Valley of Hollow Logs, Willow Garden, Wrecking Yard.


02jul2009

I love running across names for objects or processes that most people wouldn't ordinarily be thinking about, yet someone has studied and analyzed them (and thereby named them). For example:

The Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability

The Young-Laplace Relationship

The Belousov-Zhabotinsky Reaction

They always sound like unnecessarily complicated action film titles, or names for really pretentious bands. Don't they make you want to start one?


01jul2009Reader Mail: Saltine of Substance

Q: How do you find time to copy all these book passages? Aren't you supposed to be writing your own book or something?

A: Actually, the copying of passages from a book is like a saltine that clears the palette—only it's a saltine of substance, offering value beyond its power to cleanse. Copying and posting passages from other people's books makes it a pleasure to go back to generating passages that maybe someone, someday, might want to copy. Maybe.


30jun2009What happens when you court fake economies instead of real ones

While the 1990s produced some of the best stadiums ever, it also saw the ballpark become more of a place to see and be seen, rather than a place to watch a baseball game. In the decade between 1991 and 2001, which saw the opening of fifteen new stadiums, the average cost for a family of four to attend a game nearly doubled, rising from $76 to $146. As a result, the makeup of the crowd changed in many ballparks, and families and working people were gradually replaced by corporate clients and the well-to-do. While brokers sat in ballparks trading stocks on their cell phones, real fans watched the games at home on television. —Eric Enders, Ballparks Then and Now (2007), p. 11

Horrible economy aside, the Yankees and Mets deserve a lot of grief for how they've financed their new stadiums [stadia?] that opened earlier this year. Those teams asked season ticket holders to help shoulder the costs for their new respective digs, and…you're not gonna believe this, but those fans aren't as jazzed about baseball as the teams thought they would be.
The worst of it all is there are tons of great seats with nobody in them for a lot of these games. It's the same thing at the Nationals' park and others around the league, I'm sure. I guess everyone assuming that corporate money was always going to be there wasn't such a wise move. And I just assumed that rich people would be rich forever and would always want overpriced tickets for baseball games.
With Leather, 29jun2009


29jun2009From Martin Sprouse, ed., Sabotage in the American Workplace:

This job is not a way to live, it's a way to waste my life. But what can I do? Starve? (14; "Antonio," Shuttle Driver)

My first library job was working with periodicals. The fellow who sat across from me at the check-in counter resembled a morgue attendant; we became good friends. We had the same wry sense of humor. After several months, without ever discussing it, we simultaneously played the same prank on each other.
In the card file for the respective parts of the alphabet that we worked on, we created strange-sounding titles for serials or periodicals which the library was allegedly receiving. For example, I planted cards for
Public Equanimity: Its Construction and Maintenance and Stellar Inquest: the Review of Celebrities on the Slab. He retaliated with Roman Orgies: Then and Now. They were generally of a macabre nature; that's where our humor was. Of course, the cards were supposed to indicate a bibliographer's interest in seeing the publication. We forged the initials of a deceased bibliographer and backdated the cards to cover our tails. Since it was a card system, the only way it could have been detected would have been through a file reading, when someone goes through the file card by card to see if they're in order. Since we read our own files, there wasn't much chance of anyone else catching us. (38; "Art," Librarian)

By my first or second day in the Army I wasn't too pleased with my situation. I didn't do well for the same reason that I didn't do well in school: I don't like being told what to do. I didn't like the people I had to deal with and my frustration just built up more and more. Before long I was in Vietnam.
My job description was to walk to the top of a hill and dig a hole. Through the night I would sit in that hole or sleep by it. I would get up at dawn and walk to another hill and dig another hole. If I ever saw anybody who didn't dress like me I was supposed to kill him.
(72; "Jack," Infantryman)

Overtime was the main issue, but accidents and industrial injuries were two other ones. General harassment was a problem too—they give a ten point preference to veterans, so everyone thinks they're still in the army. The real army ass-kissers rise to supervisor. Since you don't have to make a profit in the post office, it lacks the semblance of reason you get in capitalism. In the post office it didn't matter how much money was wasted. (90; "Judi," Mail Handler)

A long time ago, in the precomputerized days, I got a job with the records department of the Arizona Division of Motor Vehicles. I thought I'd be doing mindless filing from midnight to eight, but when I got there, I found that I was sitting there looking up vehicle registration numbers for cops who were investigating people. I said, "Oh, Jesus, is this really what I want to do?" I couldn't afford to quit—I only had a hundred dollars—so I figured I could stand it for a while.
Four or five days after I started, I get this one cop who calls up and gives me half a dozen phone numbers and says, ''Yeah, we got a pot party under observation and we're going to get these guys. Give me the information on them." I thought, "Oh, man!" and I just made up vehicle registration info: phony names and phony addresses for all of them. I never heard much more about it.
The following week, a narcotics agent calls and identifies himself as such. I gave him phony information, too. This friend of mine was working there and started doing the same thing. Narcs would call in occasionally, and about seventy-five percent of the time, we'd give them bad information. This went on for about two and a half months, until we got word that detectives were coming around, talking to our supervisor. We called her the "peg woman"—she was absolutely awful. We got called in and she said, "Somebody is giving the police false information and we can't prove it's you, but if it happens again, we're going to fire everyone in the department."
My friend and I had both just gotten out of prison for dope dealing, and both of us were selling major quantities of pot at the time. I sort of felt like a Jew helping run a concentration camp. So at that point we both decided to quit rather than start giving the cops correct information. Fortunately, they were never able to pin it on us.
(155; "Zeke," Records Clerk)

My bosses at the Pentagon were captains and colonels. They smoked stinky pipes and looked over my shoulder to make sure I was doing everything the way they wanted me to. It was a big drag and I got pretty bored and tried to find ways to add more excitement to the whole thing.
One day they gave me a letter to type asking permission to build fuel storage tanks in Europe for the Eighth Army. The letter described what the tanks were supposed to look like, what they held, and whatever. One of the numbers was for the volume of the tank: 1000—or maybe it was 10,000—gallons. Whatever it was, I just added a zero. What the hell, I didn't care.
Anything that left my office went to an office upstairs which consisted of three big desks with people who were even more uptight than the ones I worked for. I figured that if it got through them, it would really happen. If I got caught, I could just say, "It was my mistake."
But the letter didn't come back. For all I know, there are these tanks in Europe holding airplane fuel that are ten times bigger than they're supposed to be. If my bosses knew about this, they would shit in their pants and bleed through their stomachs for the next month. They're so into control that something like that would shatter their universe.
(156; "Dug," Typist)


28jun2009Place: Dorms. Time: Freshman year.

A football player in the room above mine plays Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" for six months straight. I wanted to strangle the guy, until I finally caught a glimpse of him. They don't make hands big enough to get around necks that are bigger than a human cranium. (Contemporary note to self: societal evolution favors the thick.)


27jun2009From Abbie Hoffman's Square Dancing in the Ice Age:

No one launches a radical assault on government and institutions with the notion of becoming rich. (27, "Bye-Bye Sixties, Hollywood Style")

I'm the most famous, relatively poor person in America who hasn't killed a whole bunch of people or assassinated a political candidate. (27, "Bye-Bye Sixties, Hollywood Style")

Public relations was the cornerstone upon which J. Edgar Hoover built the power and glory of the bureau. His efforts were legendary. Once determined to ensure that his ghost-written Masters of Deceit become a best-seller, he managed to obtain the secret list of bookstores the New York Times used to determine its weekly list. He then instructed his field agents to purchase (at taxpayers' expense, no less) enough retail copies to guarantee the book's success. I know the story because at one time we shared the same publisher. (30-1, "Inside the New FBI")

Large chrome letters humbly solve the mystery of the letters FBI: Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity. Exactly the qualities needed for good wire men and midnight burglars. (34, "Inside the New FBI")

Square Dancing in the Ice Age

At the end of every working day, a special agent carefully measured all the objects Hoover left on top of this desk, noted their place, removed them, polished the surface, and returned them to their exact position. (38, "Inside the New FBI")

Under the Freedom of Information Act, you can now write in and request a copy of your file. Thousands do so each day—which, by the way, if there is no file, begins one. (38, "Inside the New FBI")

"When you're a fugitive the highway's your home," sings the cowboy on the radio. Roaming from town to town, wishing you could settle down. Those dreams are pretty strong at times. No different from everyone else's desires, though. A nice out-of-the-way place in the country, fresh air, no traffic, cheap living, and good people. Above all, good people. Folks you could trust. Who wouldn't turn you in no matter how high the price on your head. I think I know a place. It's way out west, high in the mountains, where it should be. It's got a wild past and a wild future ahead. Folks up there have done some struggling over long hours and the work they've put in may give us down here in the valley some ideas on the possibilities of different ways to live a good life. One thing I know for sure, it's one of the few places I could say my name and spend as much time as I damn well please. It warms a hunted man's heart just to know the place exists.
Up there in the mountains, between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, there's a new town agrowing. A new vision, if you please. It's a place they call Madrid.*
(*Madrid is pronounced with a southern drawl (Maa-drid) rather than like the city in Spain.)
(72, "The Town Too High to Die")

Except for a brief respite during World War II, when the mine was reactivated to supply the secret city of Los Alamos, Madrid lay dormant. (74, "The Town Too High to Die")

After failing at an attempt to reactivate the mine in the early fifties, Oscar died and ownership passed to his son, Joe Huber. Joe tried to sell the whole town, lock, stock and barrel several times. In 1964 Billie Sol Estes tried to buy the place but negotiations floundered when Billie was hauled off to prison. In 1973 Joe announced he had sold it to a big California land broker but in August that deal also fell through. Joe really wanted to sell off the 360 acres in house lots. He was raised in Madrid and wanted to preserve its picturesque character rather than see it turned into some lackluster land development. He wanted to sell to people who would fix up the place but respect its historic roots. The problem was New Mexican law prohibited subdivision in small units. A hustling real estate agent plowed through dusty old land survey charts up in Santa Fe and found that for a brief spell Madrid had been an official town named Kellyville and had, in fact, already been subdivided. The way was opened, and in February 1974, Joe Huber put the 160 lots, each with a sort-of house on it, up for sale.
By then there were already fifty or so hearty souls who had been semirenting, semisquatting on the property. Joe had an affinity for these people. They and he shared the kind of faith that moved mountains, so to speak. He offered them first pick of the lots. Prices were arranged so even the poorest could afford to buy in. Some as low as fifty dollars down and fifty dollars a month. For two thousand dollars paid over two years, former drop-out anarchists who had sought refuge in these rough mountains were turned into bonafide homeowners. The original dwellers, learning of the sale, ran to call kindred spirits in Albuquerque and around the country. In two weeks all the lots were sold. Joe donated the ballfield, the tennis courts, the church, and the waterworks. He kept control of the museum, the Mineshaft Tavern, and mining rights—the last, a common and anxiety-producing aspect of most Southwest land deals.
(75, "The Town Too High to Die")

The ball field hosts one of the best-loved institutions, the town softball league, and like everything else in Madrid it has its own personal history. Back in the thirties [sic; late teens], the Chicago Black Sox ruled the major leagues with such power that the only financial future the players could envision was to join together with some local gamblers and start fixing the scores of the games. When they were caught, the baseball world exploded in a rage. It was the country's worst sports scandal. A half-dozen or so players changed their names and disappeared into the west. All of a sudden this little-known mining town in the New Mexican mountains was the powerhouse of the formidable Texas League. Most folks put two and two together. No one minded then and no one would today. "We still have our outlaw element," claimed a scruffy-looking gent. (79, "The Town Too High to Die")

In these parts a hundred years ago it was the custom to leave a pie on the window sill for the hunted outlaw in the hills. I figure the good people of Madrid might find a way to send up a signal. I'd come back. (86, "The Town Too High to Die")

If you're vanning it and just got into town, head for the rich section (believe me, in Mexico you'll know rich from poor), find a nice tree-lined treet and park for the night. No one will bother you and it's safe; many streets even have security guards. (111, "Mexico: Less Money, More Fun")

There's a good trick to successful bargaining. Bargain for something you don't want. You'll see how low the price drops. Then you'll have an index when you haggle for the item you want. (112, "Mexico: Less Money, More Fun")

Guanajuato also has to be seen. They have terrific fiestas here, street players, a great theater, and Las Mumias de Guanajuato. It seems the town cemetery has some chemical or curse that doesn't let bodies decay, so after five years they dig up the dead and either burn them or stick them in the museum. It's one of the strangest museums you'll ever stumble upon. They sell candy mummies outside and kids love sucking on the skulls. (114, "Mexico: Less Money, More Fun")

It would have totaled $10,000 had we not had a magic letter of introduction I had carefully typed one night in a motel six miles outside Amarillo, Texas.
To whom it may concern:
This letter introduces you to Mr. and Mrs. Mark Samuels, who have been assigned by our magazine to do a survey on the new French cuisine. They are a well-known writer and photographer. Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.
Sincerely,
Laurence Gonzalez
Articles Editor
Playboy
For those six months, in the fall of '77 through the Spring of '78, I learned to snap that letter out of my jacket 'ocket and pass it under the nose of a master chef with such a seductive flourish he could virtually sniff the centerfold.
(116-17, "The Great Gourmet Rip-Off")

The following note appears at the insistence of Playboy magazine: Anyone out there tempted to follow Abbie Hoffman's lead in impersonating a Playboy staff member should know that he does so at his own peril. Says Playboy: "We take a very tough stance against people who do this sort of thing, reporting them to the proper authorities for prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment. In this case, the authorities got there first, on another matter. That fact doesn't diminish our resistance to such ruses, despite our residual affection for Abbie Hoffman." (131, "The Great Gourmet Rip-Off")

A week before, I was high atop Pyramid IV at Tikal, lost in mushroom/Mayan-induced time travel, when realty rudely interrupted. "Did you hear the news? Did you hear the news!" screamed a bunch of backpackers scampering up the slopes. "Nixon quit! He's through. All done. Finito! Kaput!" Roars of approval in seven languages could be heard piercing the jungle silence. I got so excited that I lost my footing, cascaded down the side of the pyramid and ended up tearing the ligaments in my ankle. (147, "In Search of Philip Agee")

Mailer complains some that Abbott's guards have no character. Norman is a good man but he has been in prison a total of five days. It does not matter if a guard is okay. So what. They have to conform to a system that if it operated with humanity would not operate at all. The good guards quit. Everyone has met guards who are relatively good guys and more often than not they'll be teamed with a sadist. There is an old yippie proverb: "If you shit in a pitcher of cream, the turds will rise to the top." In other words, evil wins out over good if the container is small and tight. Prison is a very small, tight container. (215, "The Crime of Punishment")


26jun2009From Firefly: The Official Companion, Volume 1

[Whedon:] "I would say, power is not what I was thinking about when I made the show, This is part of the difference between the show and the movie, because the show was really about what is it like to be the little guy, and the movie was, what is it like to be the little guy—in an awesome epic! Where you win! Because it's a movie!" (6)

[Whedon:] "The mission statement became, `Tell the story, get people through it and earn your indulgence.'" (10)

Joss Whedon says that Mal was not originally intended to have a moral crisis as early as 'The Train Job'. "Besides the action," Whedon explains, "the other adjustment the network was very firm about was Mal being more likable. And, of course, Tim and I used to joke, 'But we thought you said, "More like a bull!" Ah, this is very embarrassing .. .' (54)

There's usually a difference between coming onto a series as a first-time guest actor and coming back but, [Christina] Hendricks says, "less so on Firefly than on any other show, I mean, the cast on Firefly were so warm and just giving and immediately made me feel comfortable; whereas other casts—including the show that I'm on this week!—don't even speak to you. (165)


25jun2009From Mark Ehrman's Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America

Persons who wish to renounce U.S. citizenship should also be aware that the fact that a person has renounced U.S. citizenship may have no effect whatsoever on his or her U.S. tax or military service obligations (contact the Internal Revenue Service or U.S. Selective Service for more information). (62)

After about 30 minutes, my interrogator told Me: "The world is a dangerous place. When you are no longer protected by your American passport you will find that out." I replied that "millions of people throughout Europe and the rest of the world live without a U.S. passport and they are doing all right." At that, the agent marched me back along the narrow corridor, grabbed my U.S. passport, which I had been holding throughout the interview, and slammed the door in my face after shouting a final, ironic "good luck." (Had I offended him personally? Was it a "bad date" for him?) (64)

If you're too lazy to learn a foreign language, and don't want to relegate yourself to only communicating in urban centers, tourist traps and in expat enclaves, then you can pick from these English-speaking choices:
Antigua, Australia, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Gibraltar, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Malta, Maritius, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Phillipines, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Kingdom, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
(108)

[Costa Rica:] Telephone service is run by a government monopoly so land lines are difficult to get if your home doesn't already have one. (151)

[Panama:] If you need the police, you have to pay their taxi fare to get them to your house. (153)

The Dutch kind of look down on drugs. What they've done is create a system where you can go for it and you're going to get tired of it and then you're going to be a normal person, but better give you the hair of the dog than have it so you're always teased by it. After a while, you start to look for other kicks, like, "There's got to be something more than this." And most people who have been here for a while will stop smoking. (185)

Barcelona has the highest rate of petty theft in the E.U. I have been pickpocketed three times. A lot of the organized tours stop at the police station at the end of the day so that participants can file police reports. (189)

Andorra is Europe's least-known tax haven. There is no income tax—although the new deposit system for passive residents effectively loses you the interest on €24,000. There is a new property purchase tax of 1.25% but no capital gains tax, no inheritance tax, no wealth tax, no profits tax, no value added tax. (193)

Be prepared to pay for some services handsomely, especially if you're moving to Greece from the States (example: power/phone/internet and heating). Most of these services are government-owned and are basically a monopoly, which mean that they set the prices and we just have to accept it. (199)

[Slovenia is] a beautiful, green, unspoiled country and the people are generally friendly. That said, the hangover of socialism is rampant, and working here is difficult at times—deadlines are difficult to set, some of the workforce can seem lazy, and a sense of entitlement just for having a face at a desk is common. (210)

The town of Split [Croatia] itself is over 1,700 years old. The city has grown up around the original walls of Diocletian's palace. Stone, stone, and more stone. Walking through the streets takes you back in time. There is a real feeling of security when you are traveling on walkways people have been using for so long. The stone under your feet is as smooth as glass, polished by countless footsteps. (213)

The United Arab Emirates has the distinction of being one of the few countries never to have held an election in its entire history. They have no political parties. All power emanates from a band of sheiks known as the Supreme Council of Rulers. Laws prohibit criticism of the government and other institutions by the media and individuals. (233)

Americans come here [Saudi Arabia] to make money and with the intention of accepting the cultural restrictions. As one Oklahoman who spent time in Riyadh as an airline technician told Me: "When you go to Saudi Arabia you have two buckets: one for shit and one for the money. When one of these buckets gets full, you leave." (234)

[Egypt:] Euro-trancers have turned such Red Sea coastal towns as Dahab into the new Goa. (243)

Before you get any ideas, nobody pursues extradition with greater zeal than Uncle Sam. The United States currently has more bilateral extradition treaties than any other country. One hundred ten at last count. (304)

Lands Beyond Justice: Countries With No Extradition Treaties With The U.S.

Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bantu Homelands, Benin, Bhutan, Bophuthatswana, Bosnia, Botswana, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Ciskei, Comoros, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Indonesia, Iran, Korea (North), Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Maldives, Maldova, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Oman, Principe and San Tome, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Togo, Transkei, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Western Samoa, Yemen, Zaire.
(306)


22jun2009From Bill Drummond's, How to be An Artist:

I would advise that it is always best to drive alone. Driving with someone else might be good company but always seems to nail your mind down to reality. Rationality has a tendency to hang around like a bad smell. Is driving alone with a spurious destination better than going to the Tate Modern?

Chad McCail said, 'Doesn't it concern you that all you may be doing is inflating the value of the original Richard Long work for whoever buys it off you for $20,000?
'I don't think so.'
'Well then, does it concern you that you might be making art about art?' asks a man with a hat.
'Is that wrong?'
'It is a bit of an unwritten golden rule not to do so. It's considered the ultimate self indulgent act an artist can commit. It means art just goes round in circles. It speaks to no one else other than those involved in the art process.'
'I'm sure you're right.'

The thing is, if Darwin had known about the powan he need never have spent all those months bored on the Beagle and years running around the Galapagos Islands chasing finches. He could have learnt all he needed to know from checking the varieties of powan that exist in our lakes and lochs. Each of these sub-species have been cut off from the other since the last big melt and have thus evolved their own idiosyncrasies to deal with life in their own stretch of land-locked pond.

I had asked a friend, Chris Brook, who is featured earlier in this tale, to read through what I had written and give me his criticisms. The following is what he wrote about the whole 'voice in my head/Billingham' bit.
'I think this is the major weakness in the tale so far. It's suffocatingly self-referential and like you've contrived a situation to start a rant which is actually something else. Cut it down substantially? Refer to it differently? I think the waking up in the hotel and salient issue of owning this art is OK. But ... for the first time something is jutting out oddly and not working. It's like you've slid an art theory essay in here under dubious disguise.'
Chris Brook has rumbled me. It had been shoved there, there was no voice in my head. In fact I never woke up. Had a sound night's sleep.
But I'm not going to take his advice. It stays as I wrote it.

No Scottish education is complete without learning about the Stone of Scone or the Stone of Destiny as it is also known. Scottish history is forever entwined with this lump of rock. The reason for slipping into these thoughts was that I had just passed the turning for Scone where the stone has spent much of the last 1000 years. What got to me, more than any of all that patriotic stuff about the stone, was that it was this lump of rock that the Bible says Jacob used as a pillow the night he dreamt about the ladder with the angels.
When, as a kid, I first saw the stone under the throne in Westminster Abbey I thought, 'Why Ule fuck did Jacob choose such a huge lump of rock for a pillow? Surely he could have just made himself a mound of sand, being in the desert, that would have been far more comfortable?' This question has never been answered.

If only Jacob had not dreamt of that sodding ladder but had dreamt of some olive thighs belonging to the daughters of Canaan, the history of mankind would have been totally different. None of that promised land stuff, no Moorish invasions, no Crusades, no International Zionist Conspiracy, no Holocaust, none of all that Palestinian/Israeli trouble that is always threatening.
Four short verses, and mankind has been fighting it out ever since. Nothing comes close; even God's original promise to Abraham doesn't carry the weight these words do.
Right now, as you are reading this, somebody is loading a Kalashnikov or an M16 in readiness to kill somebody else as a direct result of those words having been written.

I instantly had visions of dumping everything to make my fortune panning for gold in the streams thereabouts. Then it came back to me that I had already made and squandered it. The vision evolved into something else and as it did I remembered someone telling Jimmy and me a fortnight before we did the squandering that it was a fruitless task as Yves Klein had already thrown gold into the Seine and in art it was only the first person to paint the Mona Lisa that gets the credit. At the time we thought, 'Fuck Yves Klein, we want to bum it anyway.' But since then there has always been that niggling sense of resentment against Klein and his flinging into the Seine.

I got back in the Land Rover. This called for a celebration of sorts. This requires me to reveal to you another sordid and shameful secret of mine. Under the driver's seat of the Land Rover I keep a cassette. My family don't know it's there, I've never played it when any passenger was on board. I do try to limit the amount of times I use it but some things are very hard to give up. You will have gathered that I'm very anti the past. If I had my way all music more than a year old would be wiped. Old music just encourages nostalgia, even worse, it fosters classicism.


20jun2009Today's Dumb-assed Jingoistic Song of Yesterday

"Don't Bite the Hand That's Feeding You,"
by Roy Hogsed

If you don't like your Uncle Sammy
Then go live in that place o'er the sea
If you think Our Land is wrong
Then go where you belong
But don't be ungrateful to me

If you don't like the stars in Old Glory
If you don't like the red, white, and blue
Then don't act like the cur in the story
Don't bite the hand that's feeding you

Maybe Roy should've stuck with singing "Cocaine Blues."


19jun2009


12jun2009Meme Scenery

Andy Baio, at Waxy.org:

So I had this silly idea to isolate the backgrounds from famous Internet memes, removing all the subjects from every photo or video.

[Examples:]

It's an interesting exercise, but National Park Service bureaucrats invented this game way back in 2000:

They just didn't use Photoshop.


06jun2009You've made your point, Texas

From Joshua (official counsel to DeuceOfClubs.com) comes this:

Date: 31 May 2009
From: Joshua
Subject: Texas is threatening us.
"WE'RE TEXAS?" What the fuck does that mean? Are they going to come fuck my livestock if I steal their postage?

I don't know, but wouldn't "Texas is Threatening Us" make a good title for a country song?


05jun2009 IAMABEINGOFVIOLETFIREIAMTHEPURITYGODDESIRESIAMABEINGOFVIOLETFIRE
IAMTHEPURITYGODDESIRESIAMABEINGOFVIOLETFIREIAMTHEPURITYGODDESIRES
HELLOWHONANDOSORRYTHEREISNONANDOHERENOITSOKAYNOPROBLEMOKBYE.
IAMABEINGOFVIOLETFIREIAMTHEPURITYGODDESIRESIAMABEINGOFVIOLETFIRE
IAMTHEPURITYGODDESIRESIAMABEINGOFVIO....

In public service I donate to you all the ring tone I am using. I think I'll call it Ascending Alarm.

Download (.mp3)

It may sound merely like the most annoying ring tone in the world, but in fact it is rapid chanting of actual English words, by the Church Universal and Triumphant's Elizabeth Clare Prophet (who always sounded like the most annoying ring tone in the world, anyhow, so we all may as well get some use out of her).

I predict that if we all start using this ring tone, at the very least we'll all answer our phones a hell of a lot faster (trust me on this). And if, as a by-product, World Peace happens, or the Comte de St. Germain destroys sentient life in a vengeance of fire and sulphur, well—bonus!

UPDATE, 06nov2009: What I didn't predict was that it would show up as a hip hop sample—if it has. My dog definitely thinks so. Yesterday we heard Drake's "Forever" (Feat. Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem) and this sample, repeated throughout the song, made both the dog & I think my phone was ringing. (Seriously, every time it was repeated, the dog looked over at me like, You gonna answer that, or what?)

Listen to them one after the other a few times and see what you think.


29may2009Inexplicably Unmade Parody Porn — #17: Eat Mine Out

Eight Men Out vs Eat Mine Out

28may2009

(From Forbes magazine:)

Here is one straw in the wind that does not bode well for a Sotomayor appointment. Justice Stevens of the current court came in for a fair share of criticism (all justified in my view) for his expansive reading in Kelo v. City of New London (2005) of the "public use language." Of course, the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment is as complex as it is short: "Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." But he was surely done one better in the Summary Order in Didden v. Village of Port Chester issued by the Second Circuit in 2006. Judge Sotomayor was on the panel that issued the unsigned opinion--one that makes Justice Stevens look like a paradigmatic defender of strong property rights.

I have written about Didden in Forbes. The case involved about as naked an abuse of government power as could be imagined. Bart Didden came up with an idea to build a pharmacy on land he owned in a redevelopment district in Port Chester over which the town of Port Chester had given Greg Wasser control. Wasser told Didden that he would approve the project only if Didden paid him $800,000 or gave him a partnership interest. The "or else" was that the land would be promptly condemned by the village, and Wasser would put up a pharmacy himself. Just that came to pass. But the Second Circuit panel on which Sotomayor sat did not raise an eyebrow. Its entire analysis reads as follows: "We agree with the district court that [Wasser's] voluntary attempt to resolve appellants' demands was neither an unconstitutional exaction in the form of extortion nor an equal protection violation."

Maybe I am missing something, but American business should shudder in its boots if Judge Sotomayor takes this attitude to the Supreme Court.


26may2009Earth has less than one year left . . . CAPTCHA predicts!


25may2009

Sorry, no—I don't admire the act of placing one's will at the disposal of another, whether person ("Yes, Charlie—I will murder for you"), god ("Yes, Yahweh—I will murder for you"), or government ("Yes, Whatever Government I Happen To Have Been Born Under The Thumb Of—I will murder for you").


24may2009This paper towel dispenser thinks it just finished a home run trot...

...but I'm not sure I can get comfortable about bumping forearms with a washroom appliance.

(Besides, have you seen where people put their forearms?)


22may2009Only damn dirty apes use water torture


21may2009I AM A WINNER

Bookman's thinks so, anyhow.

Bookman's is tops.


20may2009ATTENTION:

The case of the noun bank in the phrase bank robbery has now been officially switched from accusative to nominative. The government thanks you for your cooperation in this matter. (Thanks, suckers!)


19may2009Re: yesterday's post...

...the Cardhouse Robot writes:

I swear you made a very similar entry but that the actual journal entry was phrased a bit differently.

I could be smoking theeeeee crackuala though.

In fact, as I was typing up the post in question, I knew I'd posted some old note in the past, and was trying to remember what it was. I could've searched for it, but that would've distracted me from typing. I was ON TASK. Anyway, I had posted the exact same goddamn note, three years ago.

By way of excuse, I plead the day before yesterday's post.


18may2009Another dumb note from decades ago:

New genre:
mix two (more?)
songs/pieces together,
weaving them in & out
of each other

It's all about follow-through, I guess. Or so I've read.


17may2009Among a bunch of papers in an old box of mine I just ran across an old note in my handwriting that says:

"I can't remember what I did two summers ago. That means that two years from now I won't be able to remember what I'm doing right now. Will I even remember writing this?"

Below that, in a different color of ink, I had added:

(Years later: No, I don't remember.)

And no . . . I don't remember writing either of those notes.

Curse you, mortal memory!


13may2009Amazon speaks Japanese


12may2009Great Captchas I Have Known, vol. 27: The Answer to Penis Envy

PPH8 = Pee-pee hate

11may2009

I looked up / There's a hole in my hand / AND IT REALLY HURTSShitbirds, "Not Of This Earth"


10may2009". . . don't forget Winona . . ."

They forgot Winona.

(From American Signs: Form and Meaning on Route 66, kindly donated to the DoC archives by Alaska Heather)


08may2009X marks the spot

From the excellent Bostworld:

Well, naturally. . . .


06may2009Slim Gaillard's fret hand makes its opinion known concerning epidemi-panic


04may2009Attacking a fabric: the carefully calculated ploy of a journalist eager to battle indifference to the disappearance of print journalism

"Denim is the carefully calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances."George Will

Jesus, what a dipshit. Denim is the perfect fabric. Levis jeans = the perfect clothing. You don't have to treat Levis special, be careful of them, iron them, press them.

Will: "Writer Daniel Akst has noticed and has had a constructive conniption. He should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has earned it by identifying an obnoxious misuse of freedom. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, he has denounced denim."

Akst: "I can only hope the Obama administration sees denim for what it is: a ghastly but potentially lucrative source of much-needed revenue. Let's waste no time in imposing a hefty sumptuary tax on the stuff."

Yes. Let us call forth judgment upon miracle clothing that lasts for ages and, when it does finally begin to wear out, you can still wear to work in the yard, paint the house, what have you—clothing that, most importantly, is not only durable but comfortable. Bringing violence against such a marvelous product really does sound like typical government work, after all.

Akst: "It looks bad on almost everyone who isn't thin, yet has somehow made itself the unofficial uniform of the fattest people in the world."

True, Americans are for the most part no longer "lean an' tall / An' built 'scant' whar they sit" (see poem, right). But that's not the fault of a pants maker (and is the reason there are now umpteen cuts of Levis).

Will: "This is not complicated. For men, sartorial good taste can be reduced to one rule: If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly."

Fred Astaire may have been comfortable in his own skin, but you can't tell me that even Fred Astaire could get comfortable in a tux. Levis are so comfy that, unless you're on a date, you're not constantly thinking you can't wait to get home to get them off of you.

Mr. Akst goes on to call denim "a powerful force for evil." Will screeches, "it is a straight line from the fall of the Bastille to the rise of denim." These authoritarian twits are more out-of-touch than Andy Rooney. Such nuanced understatement makes you wonder why anyone takes these personified duckfits seriously.

In partial apology for subjecting you to George Will, please enjoy this little poem from the year Arizona gave up the ghost:

LEVIS

They shor are fittin' fer fit folks
t' fit in! Ask any cowpoke!

'Twar fo'ty y'ar ago, er more,
I ambled in Goldwater's Store
T' buy new pants; th' ones I wore
Wuz raggy, patched an' thin.

Th' store-keep, Jake, hands me a pair,
"G'arn-teed" (by Levi Strauss) t' wear
Sed he, "Boy, if they rip or tear
Y'u gits a new pair, free!"

We ar'ed some, as I recalls,
'Fore I snuk back into th' stalls
An' skinned in them new overalls
Then yelps, "Man, they fit fine!"

Thet Mister Levi "heerd th' call!"
He's build a rider's overall!
He knows cowboys are lean an' tall
An' built "scant" whar they sit.

He savvies: "Boys thet fork a hoss
Don't want loose pants thet fold across,
An' so he built 'em tight as moss,
In laigs an' waist an' seat!"

Yet! Thet's howcome cowboys, t'day,
An' "dudes" (an fe-males, too, I'll say!)
Wear Levis . . . come it work er play
They're fittin', fer all hands!

An' tho we arger heaps, an' shout,
We shor agrees . . . an' true: no doubt!
One thing cowboys kaint do without
Is pants: Levis, o' co'se.

—Chuck Haas, from Rhymes o' a Driftin' Cowboy (1912)

A ripped and dirtied old pair of workman's Levi's jeans found partially buried in a Nevada mining town is believed to be the oldest pair of Levi's in the world—dating back to the 1880s. . . .
Aside from a few holes and a tear stretching from the waist to the calf, the jeans are in remarkably good condition, said Lynn Downey, the historian for Levi Strauss & Co. "If you look at them from the front, they look like the old pair of jeans you'd wear to paint your house," Downey said.


02may2009Most expensive removal so far: the huge Dodgers tattoo I'd have covered my chest with when I was about nine.

I'm making a list of tattoos I could theoretically have chosen to get at various points in my life and would now be paying any amount of money to have removed.

Pre-tattoo screening question: What things did you love or believe ten years ago that you thought you would always love or believe?

How about five years ago?


30apr2009From Neil Steinberg's Complete & Utter Failure:

The other kids on the street were nice enough, I suppose, but I found their games pointless and tiresome and not at all tinged with the Grand Guignol I expected from playtime. Once the neighborhood coalition knocked on our door and asked me to come out to play kickball. I turned to my mother. "The guys are here," I said, sotto voce. "I have to go out. But wait twenty minutes, then call me in."
That's the sort of boy I was.
(6)

Newspaper reporting is often like being one of those wind-up toy cars—furiously scooting forward, only to pin yourself against the sunroom molding, grinding away your stored energy, getting nowhere. It can take an astounding amount of finagling just to get permission to observe some mundane task, impeded as you are by all sorts of unexpected hurdles, regulations, restrictions and controls. (46)

[Everest] expeditions are in themselves interesting—quixotic, massive crusades gilded with a veneer of pith-helmeted, Great White Hunter, Anglomaniacal enthusiasm which is utterly extinct today in that strip-mined, godforsaken nation of skinheads, soccer hooligans and public dole recipients still anachronistically referred to as Great Britain. (48)

The education system, more than anything else, has created the terrifying image of failure that dwells in our inner souls, the dread, paralyzing demon to be avoided at all costs, the burning red F, the stigma, the shame.
A tutor can lead her handful of students through setbacks, detours and blind alleys in their quest for education without needing to unchain the concept of failure—the students may stumble, may botch assignments, but they dust themselves off and move on. Nobody has to fail, at least not in the way they do in public school.
But once you start packing forty kids in a room, things change. With the bright kids pawing the ground and straining to go forward, only so much time can be wasted on dummies before a teacher must shrug her shoulders, fail the stragglers and hope they do better the second time around. It is not a good way to accomplish what school is trying to accomplish.
(85)

The concept of being quoted out of context was invented, I believe, by people who blurt out ill-advised statements and then regret them later. True out-of-context distortion—someone saying "It's not as if I'm a thing of evil," and being quoted as bragging "I'm a thing of evil"—is rare to the point of being unknown.
On the other hand, highlighting controversial statements over the more mundane is the basis of reporting. That's what news is. If I interview a kindly old kindergarten teacher who spends forty-five minutes telling me how much she loves the kids, and bakes them cookies shaped in the letters of their names, and then suddenly adds, "Of course, what I'd really like to do is to strip the little buggers naked and torture them to death with a potato peeler," her previous sentiments suddenly diminish in value. Perhaps, from her perspective, it is unfair to seize on a single sentence and obsess over it, ignoring, for the most part, her loftier expressions. But from the perspective of everybody else, I don't have much choice.
I try to reassure Morrison that, Janet Maslin notwithstanding, most journalists are not out to pointlessly skewer innocent subjects. We don't have to. The beauty part of the profession is that the guilty almost always find a way to impale themselves, with little or no assistance necessary.
(116)

I struggle to find some sort of meaning, some utility, in this vast expenditure of effort. A child could learn to play the violin, and well, in the studying time it takes to get to the national [spelling] bee. The best I can come up with is that the contestants are preparing themselves to be grilled by Senate subcommittees. All the lights; the somber officials; the give-and-take of pro forma questioning; the lob of the word; the return of the correct answer.
But this is whimsy. What the spelling bee really means is that kids are always duped by the adult world. Society's values—its fetishes, passions, fears and hatreds—are imprinted upon children, like wet clay accepting the design of seashells, both beautiful and plain. Some flack at Scripps-Howard half a century ago decided to wed their corporate name to this sort of high-toned, skewed and pedantic endeavor, and the end result was this curse, handed down through generations by the unthinking to poor children who, desperate to excel at
something, have the misfortune to try to excel at so nugatory an enterprise as this. They might as well be reciting the digits of pi, for all the good knowing how to spell "cispontine" or "accrescent" or "mugient" is ever going to do them. (126-7)

I have had a couple of days that I consider perfect days because at the time they struck me so. None were in childhood. My childhood wasn't bad—nobody beat me, nobody had sex with me—it's just that childhood had a hostage quality, a suffocating sense of waiting, of marking off the days on the wall, marching through somebody else's routine, yearning toward some unspecific but eventual release. (190)

The dreamy somnambulism of a life in the federal government cannot be overstated. At lunchtime, the PR staff would drag their metal desk chairs outside and, propping their feet on a rail, lean back, close their eyes and turn their faces toward the sun. Indeed, our efforts at times seemed to border on the vegetative, more like tropism than human activity.
[...]
Eventually, I got into trouble. My boss took me aside and gave me a talk. I was getting too much done. Rushing things. Making the others look bad. Ease up, he urged. find a gentler pace. I promised I would try.
(204-5)

As I grew older, I came to accept past highlights with a more reflective satisfaction. In On the Waterfront, Rod Steiger's Charlie, the older brother, has a great line. "You were beautiful," he says to Marlon Branda's Terry, the younger brother, in sincere admiration. That's about all you can do. My brother, Sam, and I used to be in pretty good shape, and once—just once—on a hot summer's day we ran up a long curving mountain road high into the flatirons over Boulder, Colorado. The run would kill us both now. But thinking about us making it, in the burning sun, sweating like horses, bracing our hands on our knees when we finally reached the top, sucking air and looking down at the city far below us—I don't see how the memory can ever make me feel bad, just because I can't do it anymore. We were beautiful. (224-5)

Wanting to be remembered is one of the true common denominators in the history of humanity. The reason why Babylonian cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphics and other ancient languages could be deciphered after being utterly forgotten for millennia is that most ancient monumental inscriptions say some version of the same thing: I am King Brapathrap, the Great King, the Mighty King, the King of Kings, whose kingish reign began on such-and-such a date and who can take full kingly credit for the following acts of kingliness . . .
It's almost funny, when reading accounts of the scholars who unscrambled ancient writings—whether from the jungles of Central America, the deserts of the Middle East, or the fjords of Norway—to note the number of times the academics, struggling by candlelight to make some sort of progress, suddenly have an inspiration: count up the number of times each symbol appears, label the most common one "king," and go on from there. A breakthrough!
(230)

My brother tells me that his coworkers in Japan were very pleased when he could speak a bit of Japanese, but became increasingly cool to him as his command of the language improved. They define themselves by their language, he explained, and while they are flattered to see foreigners try, it begins to encroach on their private domain if they get too good. (245-6)

Bonus Round: Semi-current, half-accurate Hollywood Gossip from a book of 1994:

If you think we're not going to see William Shatner playing Capt. James T. Kirk in 2010, on the bridge of the Enterprise in a wheelchair, his knees covered by a plaid lap rug, then you're in for a surprise. (203)

Prediction: FAILED
CNN—Shatner: How come I'm not in new 'Star Trek'?

''I've got the facts," said [Henry] Ford, whose "facts" referred to "International Jews," whom he felt to be the motivating force behind the war (all wars, as a matter of fact). (218)

Foreshadowing: FUFILLED
Times OnlineMel Gibson rants against Jews in drink-drive arrest . . . According to police records, Gibson, a strict Catholic, then launched into an anti-semitic tirade, referring to “f****** Jews” and stating that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world”.


29apr2009

Beginning of Hipsway's "Ask the Lord" = Pre-Moby recontextualization of Alan Lomax prison song field recording?

(Also: Brigitte Bardot's "Contact" = pre-Devo Devo? Just thought I'd throw that in/out there, as well, as long as we're revisionist-ating, here.)


28apr2009

They arrest me for murder and I ain't never harmed a man
Arrest me for murder and I ain't never harmed a man
Arrest me for forgery and I can't even sign my name
—Furry Lewis, "Good Morning, Judge"


27apr2009¿Bastardos? ¡Ciertamente no!

During an NBA playoff game, coaching staff standing on the sidelines in front of the giant banner ad for NBASTORES.COM managed to block the letters in such a way that all that was visible was BASTO, which I graciously accept as a DeuceOfClubs.com crypto-plug, on two counts:

1. coarse, rude, vulgar [sure, well . . . okay, then]
2. club [bastos = clubs]

¡Muchisimas gracias, NBA!


26apr2009Three-quarters of a century later, and they still don't get economics

1934: Dillinger, still viewed as a man of the people, was being lauded in letter-to-the-editor sections of newspapers nationwide. Concerned citizens begged the governors of Indiana and Illinois to give him a pardon and leave him alone. Others elevated his importance to society over that of those trying to catch him. A Martinsville farmer, acknowledging the inevitability of another robbery, summed up the feelings best: "As tough as times are, John's doing the country a favor by getting the money out of the banks and back into circulation."

2009: "Right now you can see there is no money in circulation because banks won't give money to businesses."

So, "as tough as times are," I guess the way to serve one's country is to rob banks. Who's in?


25apr2009. . . and the award for best song to make reference to Chaplin's The Great Dictator goes to. . . .

. . . . "Tanz Mit Laibach," by Laibach!

Accepting the award for Laibach: . . . me, I guess. (Laibach, your award will be waiting for you, I don't know, I guess maybe over by that big saguaro over there. No, the one to your left. Well, you'll find it. You're Laibach!)


24apr2009

Something foreign is always living itself through you. Your whole life is the vehicle for something to come to earth.
An evil spirit. A theory. A marketing campaign. A political strategy. A religious doctrine.
—Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby (p. 259)


23apr2009

 

"Isn't that the awfullest, morbidest song you ever heard in your life?" Hank once beamed after playing the tune for a Montgomery reporter. He played the song again, and this time remarked, more soberly: "Don't know why I happened to of wrote that thing. Except somebody that's fell, he's the same man ain't he? So how can he be such a nice guy when he's got it and such a bad guy when he ain't got nothin'?"

[...]

Hank Williams is buried in Montgomery, Alabama, beneath an astro-turfed, tourist-frequented gravesite. Inscribed prominently on his tombstone are the words "Praise the Lord—I Saw the Light," underscored with musical notes. The line is familiar to any Williams fan and is, on a tombstone, comforting—but it is somehow unsatisfying, too much of a disconnect, perhaps, or too narrow a view, and therefore rings false. (Minnie Pearl, after all, reported that towards the end of his life Hank refused to sing his beloved song with her: "There ain't no light," she recalls his bleak protest. "It's all dark.")

—From "Help Me Understand: Hank Williams as Luke the Drifter"


21apr2009A Brief Treatise on War

There won't be any Valkyries. You just turn to dust.

(Psst—also, no 72 virgins.)


20apr2009From Lothar Machtan's The Hidden Hitler

pp. 88-9: For five years, from the summer of 1914 to the summer of 1919, Adolf Hitler and Ernst Schmidt were inseparable. Hitler never had a closer or more enduring friendship. In particular, no one witnessed Hitler's transformation from a would-be artist without party-political affiliations into an extreme right-wing politician at closer quarters than Schmidt, his wartime comrade, who did not die until 1985. We would know considerably more about Schmidt if historians had taken a greater interest in him, publishers had encouraged him to write his memoirs or archivists had examined the papers he left behind. None of this happened, unfortunately. No trace of his personal papers can be found even at Garching, where he was mayor for years.

p. 230: "I think my life is the greatest novel in the history of the world!" — Letter of Adolf Hitler to Ada Klein, 30sep1934; facsimile available in Anton Joachimsthaler's Hitlers Weg begann in München (Munich, 2000, p. 299)

 

 

And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? ... The Organs would quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!—Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago (quoted here)


19apr2009

 

 

J. G. Ballard

15nov1930 — 19apr2009

R.I.P.

 

 


17apr2009Social experimentation: everybody's doing it!

Safeway has two express lines, one with a 9-item limit, the other with a 15-item limit. The clerk's checking my eleven items when a pretty blonde taps my arm and says, "Hey, I think you have too many items." So I start counting items, but then I think maybe I'm in the 9-item line instead of the 15-item line, so I'm looking up at the signs over the registers when the woman starts laughing. "I'm only messing with you. I just always wanted to say that to someone."


16apr2009Ex post facto editing

In "Seeing Red":
Spike: "I'll be back. And when I do. . . ."

Previews before "Villains":
Spike: "I'll be back. And when I am. . . ."

Previews before "Two to Go":
Spike: "I'll be back."

(See also: Matt Gerson)


15apr2009

The national emblem is on my cap
And the motherland is in my heart.
We are glorious tax workers.

A sacred responsibility is on our shoulders:
To struggle for the administration of taxes according to law,
To stand at our post in order to see that policies are strictly followed.
We have a thousand stratagems
For stopping tax evasion;
We have a thousand stratagems
For stopping tax evasion.

(trans. via Chinese Law Prof Blog)


14apr2009

I had just finished listening to The Harmonizing Four's chilling recording of "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" when I went outside and found, floating in the pool, a dead sparrow.

I don't know how people manage to be comforted by bible verses like that. If Great Sky Genie cares about people the same way he does about sparrows (even if a person is "of more value than many sparrows"), he doesn't seem all that interested either way.

(Besides, how can there be a god in a universe in which this can occur?)


14apr2009

Last night the dog didn't follow me to bed, but stood in the kitchen, staring at me. I asked her what she wanted. She looked at me, then at her food dish. Then me. Then the dish again. After a few times, I finally got that she wanted me to bring her dish to where she sleeps, so she could have a snack before bed. When she saw that I understood, she got SO excited, just like I do when she learns a new trick. HOLY SHIT HE FIGURED OUT WHAT I MEANT THAT IS SO AWESOME

DOGGY THINK I SMOTT


13apr2009

RIP Tom Kennedy


13apr2009From Dick Porter's The Cramps: A Short History of Rock'n'Roll Psychosis

Maybe we are culturally different. Maybe we have raised ourselves on different influences than the mainstream of society.—Poison Ivy Rorschach (7)

The significance of Frederick Lincoln Wray Junior's contribution to rock'n'roll cannot be overstated. He was a pioneer who blew open the boundaries of the medium, screeching across new horizons propelled by twin jets of fuzz 'n' rumble. In his time, he was an innovator of greater stature than Hendrix, Page or Townshend, introducing fuzz-tone and power chords to such dramatic effect that his 1956 single 'Rumble' was banned by several radio stations, on the grounds that it encouraged juvenile delinquency. 'Rumble' was an instrumental. (23-4)

This purchase was part-financed by Ivy's job as a cocktail waitress—which was the latest in a series of waitressing jobs that she loathed. It came as something of a relief when Ivy scored a job as a dominatrix at the Victorian—a mid-town bondage and domination salon. 'It was the [Music Maze] owner's girlfriend that hooked me up at the Vic, she had worked there before,' explained Ivy.
'The clients, some of them were very successful businessmen or even politician-types,' Ivy recalled to
Venus e-zine's Jen Hazen. 'It seemed like what it mainly was, was that people who were normally in power just wanted to give it up for an hour. That facet of it really was something that I wouldn't have known had I not done that and worked there. I mean, really, super powerful people. So, when someone's on TV or something I'm wondering about things like that, if it's a powerful person, I'm wondering what they do to balance it out.' (42-3)

'I think it's partly out of fear that people may feel threatened by what we're doing and they justify it by saying we're a parody,' she explained to New York Rocker's James Wollcott. 'The parody is directed towards ourselves. I think too many people are taking themselves too seriously. But we certainly are not making fun of rock'n'roll. It's like we're celebrating it. I feel like we're mocking ourselves, which I think everybody should do.' (54)

When the Cramps arrived with San Francisco-based support band the Mutants, they found that the inmates at Napa State were considerably more animated than had been the case at Camarillo. 'That's the Cramps show that should've been stopped,' reminisced Lux. 'The audience were doing everything you can imagine. Just imagine something and they were doing it. They were bizarre, dancers like you have never seen before in your life. People lying on each other on the floor. Oh God ... We didn't wanna leave.'
While video footage of the concert shows that the band were barely fazed by the freeform displays of expressive movement, random stage tidying and front-row frug dancing,
New York Rocker's Howie Klein seemed a little startled: 'The audience went berserk and it was pogo city all over again. I've never seen so much audience participation—one patient went over to the superintendent and said, "These guys look like they just got out of T-Unit." T-Unit, the super later told me, is where they keep the lifers.' (62-3)

Unable to play, frightened to read the band's reviews, following a primrose path that only he seemed to understand, Bryan [Gregory] simply upped and left with Andrella. Given that his departure came less than half a dozen dates into the Cramps' summer US tour, and that the rest of the band had made repeated attempts to accommodate his neuroses, it's hardly surprising that Ivy and Lux viewed it as a savage personal betrayal. 'He barely played on any of our records,' raged the normally accommodating Lux. 'I hate to destroy it for fans, but the guy was fighting us the whole time. He was a dumb glue-sniffer from Detroit, and that's all it amounts to. Not that I've got anything against glue-sniffers or Detroit.' (82)

Lux had caught the infection years ago. For him it was a way of life, unaffected by current trends or the latest thing in sling backs. 'We really try hard to ignore things that are happening around us. I've known so many bands that were punk rock when punk rock was around and then they became new romantics, and then they became post-punk, or futurists or something. You've got all these things you can be. We try really hard just to be the Cramps, if we can.' (90)

We went to a crossroads and made a deal with the Devil. We combine that with our God-given talent.—Poison Ivy (94)

In 1989, Lux and Gacy's correspondence saw print as part of an anthology called They Call Him Mr. Gacy, published by McClelland Associates. This irked Lux, who declared, 'I heard he wrote a book which published a couple of my letters. I thought we had a kind of sacred thing going.' (107)

We're just open to chance at all times—onstage or offstage. We totally understand that that's where the real magic will happen.—Poison Ivy Rorschach (112)

Before work on a fifth studio album could begin, Nick and Candy [Del Mar] left the band. 'They were both killing themselves with alcohol. That was also affecting the shows, and causing some problems at customs,' explains Ivy. 'Nick also had a lot of problems being blind in one eye and also wearing dark glasses. It's hard enough to see your way on and off stage without that added to it. He never wanted to tour overseas anymore, but we did. Nick was with us for thirteen years, which is a crazy long time by rock'n'roll standads. We dug both of them, especially Nick, but they couldn't stand each other, which isn't as funny as you might think. (124)

Nick had tired of the rock' n'roll life. He moved back to New York and hung up his voodoo bongos. (124)

Asked by Steve Wildsmith of the Maryland Daily News what the modern Ivy would advise her younger self, if she could meet her in some temporal twilight zone just before Lux picked her up on the highway, all those years ago, Ivy replied, 'I'd tell her to take that ride, to not miss that ride. I'm still on that ride with Lux, and we're still so much in love with the music and each other.' (139)


12apr2009From the always-worth-reading The Picket Line:


11apr2009From Herbert J. Storing's What the Anti-Federalists Were For: The Political Thought of the Opponents of the Constitution

The Anti-Federalists are entitled, then, to be counted among the Founding Fathers, in what is admittedly a somewhat paradoxical sense, and to share in the honor and the study devoted to the founding. In general, however, they have not enjoyed such a position. Champions of a negative and losing cause, they have found only a cramped place in the shadow of the great constitutional accomplishment of 1787. They have often been presented as narrow-minded local politicians, unwilling to face the utter inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation or incapable of seeing beyond the boundaries of their own states or localities. They have been described as men without principle, willing to use any argument to drag down the Constitution, yet willing, many of them, when the Constitution was adopted, to change their colors and become enthusiastic Federalists. It is true that with the rise of the Beardian critique of the Constitution and its framers, the Anti-Federalists have been viewed with a more friendly eye. Merrill Jensen has taught us to take seriously the possibility that the Anti-Federalists were right about the need for only modest changes in the Articles of Confederation and about the departure of the Constitution from the principles of the Revolution. He has inspired a full historical account of the Anti-Federal movement, and he has pointed to the need to take up the serious study of Anti-Federal thought. (3-4)

To begin with an apparently small terminological problem, if the Con;;titution was opposed because it was anti-federal how did the opponents :ome to be called Anti-Federalists? They usually denied, in fact, that the ame was either apt or just, and seldom used it themselves. They were, they often claimed, the true federalists. Some of them seemed to think that their roper name had been filched, while their backs were turned, as it were, by :he pro-Constitution party, which refused to give it back; and versions of is explanation have been repeated by historians. Unquestionably the Federalists saw the advantage of a label that would suggest that those who pposed the Constitution also opposed such a manifestly good thing as federalism. But what has not been sufficiently understood is that the term 'federal" had acquired a specific ambiguity that enabled the Federalists not merely to take but to keep the name. (9)

In the straightforward explanation of Anti-Federalist George Bryan, "The name of Federalists, or Federal men, grew up at New York and in the eastern states, some time before the calling of the Convention, to denominate such as were attached to the general support of the United States, in opposition to those who preferred local and particular advantages.' Later, according to Bryan, this name was taken possession of by those who were in favor of the new federal government, as they called it, and opposers were called Anti-Federalists." (9-10)

The Anti-Federalists stood, then, for federalism in opposition to what they called the consolidating tendency and intention of the Constitution—the tendency to establish one complete national government, which would destroy or undermine the states. They feared the implications of language like Washington's reference, in transmitting the Constitution to Congress, to the need for "the consolidation of our Union." (10)

Both reason and experience prove, Richard Henry Lee wrote, that so extensive and various a territory as the United States ... cannot be governed in freedom" except in a confederation of states. Within each state, "opinion founded on the knowledge of those who govern, procures obedience without force. But remove the opinion, which must fall with a knowledge of characters in so widely extended a country, and force then becomes necessary to secure the purposes of civil government. . . ." The general rule is that government must exist, if not by persuasion, then by force. In a large empire standing armies are necessary "to cure the defect of the laws ... and to take the place of popular confidence in and respect for the govemment." (17)

"The first thing I have at heart is American liberty," Patrick Henry said; "the second thing is American Union." (24)

An efficient federal government need not, however, imply one so powerful as that proposed in the Constitution. The broad grants of power, taken together with the "supremacy" and the "necessary and proper" clauses, amounted, the Anti-Federalists contended, to an unlimited grant of power to the general government to do whatever it might choose to do. (28)

Moreover, they charged that the Federalists were more or less deliberately using an argument about means to enlarge the ends of government, shifting their gaze from individual liberty to visions of national empire and glory. (29)

Ambitious Federalists, captivated by visions of "stately palaces" and "dazzling ideas of glory, wealth, and power," wanted us "to be like other nations. " That is just what we should not be. Americans "ought to furnish the world with an example of a great people, who in their civil institutions hold chiefly in view, the attainment of virtue, and happiness among ourselves. Let the monarchs in Europe, share among them the glory of depopulating countries. and butchering thousands of their innocent citizens. to revenge private quarrels, or to punish an insult offered to a wife, a mistress, or a favorite: I envy them not the honor, and I pray heaven this country may never be ambitious of it." The splendor of the monarch, and the power of the government are one thing," The Federal Farmer wrote. "The happiness of the subject depends on very different causes." Wars might be necessary. but they should be strictly defensive. The Anti-Federalists generally held to what Hamilton scornfully called "the novel and absurd experiment in politics of tying up the hands of government from offensive war founded upon reasons of state," and they saw in Hamilton's scorn dangerous dreams of national glory. "War is justifiable on no other principle than self-defence, it is at best a curse to any people; it is comprehensive of most, if not all the mischiefs that do or can afflict mankind; it depopulates nations; lays waste the finest countries; destroys arts and sciences, it many times ruins the best men and advances the worst, it effaces every trace of virtue, piety and compassion, and introduces all kinds of corruption in public affairs; and in short, is pregnant with so many evils, that it ought ever to be avoided if possible; nothing but self-defense can justify it." (31)

Formally the states might be indispensable to the existence of the general government, but what would really count was state participation in the operation of government, and there was to be none of this in the new scheme. The decisive issue here was the power of taxation. When Governor Randolph referred to that power as the "soul" of the new government, Patrick Henry shrewdly replied that "they shall not have the soul of Virginia." Under the Constitution the states would have no constitutional way of influencing the raising of the federal revenue and thus would be closed out from substantial influence on federal policy. (35)

The Anti-Federalists thought, as we have seen, that a large republic cannot attract the voluntary obedience of the people and is therefore driven to execute its resolutions by military force. In the words of The Federal Farmer, "the general government, far removed from the people, and none of its members elected oftener than once in two years, will be forgot or neglected, and its laws in many cases disregarded, unless a multitude of officers and military force be continually kept in view, and employed to enforce the execution of the laws, and to make the government feared and respected." If a government of force is to be avoided, the bonds of political union must be woven from the strands of the natural human association. (41)

An aspect of any good government is a capacity to coerce obedience when necessary. To that extent the Anti-Federalists were right in saying that the new government would rest ultimately on force; they were wrong, in the Federalists' opinion, in thinking that there is any other kind. "[A]ll government is a kind of restraint" and "founded in force," Charles Pinckney told the South Carolina House of Representatives. (42)

The irony is that whereas "the primary object of government" is "to check and control the ambitious and designing," government tends to become itself the tool of these very men. Thus the overriding concern of the founder, the statesman, and the alert citizen should be the danger of insidious usurpation by the few, the inevitable and persistent pressure of "the artful and ever active aristocracy." If the people will not or cannot govern themselves, the few will do it; and the fact is that the people generally cannot govern themselves, at least not outside their small communities, which is another argument for the small republic. The few never sleep, while the many are rarely truly awake. (52)

Were the people always attentive, they could call unfaithful lawmakers home and send others; but they are not always attentive. Thus except under the rare circumstances of the small, homogeneous republic (and perhaps even then) rigorous provision for popular responsibility is not sufficient. "Virtue will slumber," Patrick Henry warned. "The wicked will be continually watching: Consequently you will be undone." (52)

"In the British Government there are real balances and checks," Patrick Henry argued; "In this system, there are only ideal balances . . . The President and Senators have nothing to lose. They have not that interest in the preservation of the Government, that the King and Lords have in England. They will therefore be regardless of the interests of the people." This absence of checks based on the interests of permanent orders was what Henry meant when he said, "tell me not of checks on paper, but tell me of checks founded on self-love." (58)

In America there could be no genuine monarchy; nor were there the social materials for a genuine differentiation of the two branches of the legislature. Thus The Federal Farmer warned that "the partitions between the two branches will be merely those of the building in which they sit: there will not be found in them any of those genuine balances and checks, among the real different interests, and efforts of the several classes of men in the community we aim at; nor can any such balances and checks be formed in the present condition of the United States in any considerable degree of perfection." (58-9)

While the Federalists gave us the Constitution, then, the legacy of the Anti-Federalists was the Bill of Rights. But it is an ambiguous legacy, as can be seen by studying the debate. Indeed, in one sense, the success of the Bill of Rights reflects the failure of the Anti-Federalists. The whole emphasis on reservations of rights of individuals implied a fundamental acceptance of the "consolidated" character of the new government. A truly federal government needs no bill of rights. (65)


08apr2009

According to The Huffington Post:

Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has levied the most bizarre and outlandish critiques against President Obama since before he came into office, did not disappoint this weekend.

Appearing on Minnesota radio station KTLK-AM, (h/t Minnesota Independent) the Republican congresswoman expressed her concern that White House was trying to put in place "re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward."

Which would be a much scarier prospect if that system hadn't already been in place for years.


07apr2009

Sometime last year I was reading Chuck Palahniuk's Survivor. Today I ran across my notes on the book, and among them is the following:

"Totally believable, telepathy & all, until p. 75."

The passage on page 75:

At six o'clock, the Super Bowl begins. It's football. It's the Cardinals against the Colts.

If telepathy exists, Palahniuk has it and I don't.


06apr2009For my money, every bureaucrat deserves a vigorous teabagging. . . .

Someone apparently trying to make a political statement caused a brief stir Tuesday at the Boulder office of U.S. Rep. Jared Polis.
According to Boulder police, a suspicious white envelope arrived at the office, 4770 Baseline Road, about noon. Andrew Schultheiss, a district director for Polis, called authorities when workers found a lump in the envelope and no return address.
The Boulder Fire Department Hazardous Materials Team responded and opened the envelope. They found a tea bag inside, with a note reading, "We the People, 1773."
"We think it's a reference to the Boston Tea Party," said Sarah Huntley, a police spokeswoman.

Golly, do you really think so, there, Officer Huntley?


05apr2009From MOUNTAIN MAN DANCE MOVES: THE McSWEENEY'S BOOK OF LISTS

"ACTUAL EXAMPLES OF MODEL CONVERSATIONAL PHRASES THAT THE TRAVEL GUIDE LES ETATS- UNIS DANS VOTRE POCHE: EDITION BILINGUE (HAlTER, 1980) FELT WERE SO CENTRAL TO THE EXPERIENCES LIKELY TO BE UNDERGONE BY FRENCH VISITORS TO AMERICA THAT IT INCLUDED THEM ON ITS COMPANION STUDY CASSETTE TAPE" By Beth Maynard

It's enough to make you sick.

But these jumbo jets are quite comfortable.

To put it in a nutshell, you can't escape the fact that you're a product of capitalist culture.

Well, crash pads are kinds of very cheap hostels, or rather shelters where you can spend the night for 25 or 50 cents, sometimes for no charge at all.

Yeah! I'll bet if you laid those burgers end-to-end they would reach to the moon. Let's go try one, shall we?

Are you alluding to the multinational corporations?

Where's the fine democratic American melting pot?

Better keep our strength to investigate some of those famous Kentucky bourbons they serve around here.

Mobile-home living has really come a long way.

We often wonder what is the true design of that remarkable and monolithic society. Yours is a complex subject.

I'm never lucky at these kinds of luck things.

We're becoming homogenized, pasteurized robots.

Hello! We're visitors in Chicago and we were noticing all these security precautions you take to protect your store. Is all this really necessary?

If you really want to help us, Jim, let us manage our own affairs.

All right, wage slave, don't get mad! Get back to your toil before they sack you for goldbricking!

I found your great optimism, your vision of a rosy future, to be encouraging and, shall I say, "seductively" infectious. But I also expect that you and I have different eyeglasses when we look at the current world economy crisis.

That's not expensive, honey, that's "Dream Whip."

It's no secret that the CIA operates in South America mostly to protect American business interests. Witness that ugly disclosure, some time back, that the CIA helped overthrow President Allende in Chile to prevent nationalization of more U.S. firms there.

Fascination indeed!

I never dreamed they were so religious here.

Hey, let's change the channel.

[See also this old chestnut from a decade a-gone: Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch English-Deutsch]


04apr2009 — From Julian Paul Keenan's The Face in the Mirror

The next time you stay in a posh hotel (any place without an "8," "6" or the word "family" in the name), it is almost certain that you'll find a mirror hanging next to the elevator. While this is a relatively inexpensive way to decorate, hotels do not install mirrors for this reason alone. The thinking behind this little-known trick of the trade is that people standing by elevators will not notice the long wait because they are preoccupied with admiring themselves. (xviii)

In an extremely interesting finding, the researchers observed that those infants who were insecurely attached at age 1 had a tendency toward earlier self-recognition. Securely attached infants had gained mirror self-recognition later. In fact, the more "unattached" an infant was from its mother, the more individuated and hence more self-aware that child was. These results are remarkable in that they may help explain the emergence of self-awareness in humans. It appears that the sooner we "detach," or start to become independent from our parents, the sooner we become self-aware! (70)

If self-emotions are correlated with the onset of mirror self-recognition, it should follow that other self-related variables are also correlated with self-recognition. That is, if mirror self-recognition is an indicator of self-awareness, we might expect a relationship between mirror self-recognition and other self-related behaviors and cognitive processes. One of the most studied cognitive abilities is memory. While the extent of memory in infants and young children is a topic of a lengthy, separate discussion, we will see that, as was predicted with self-related emotions, an increase in self-related memory processing (encoding, maintenance, and retrieval) has been observed to take place at the time mirror self-recognition is acquired. (72)

One of most well-known gauges for Theory of Mind in children is known as the Smarties test. In the Smarties test, Child A is shown a box of Smarties candy. The researcher asks the child what he or she thinks is in the box. The child naturally replies "candy." The researcher then shows the child that in fact there are pencils in the box. After putting the pencils back in the box, the researcher then asks the child, "Your friend, Child B, is about to come into the room. What will Child B think is in the box?" If the child responds "pencils," she indicates a lack of understanding of the thinking, or mental state, of Child B. But if Child A can infer the mental state of Child B, the correct answer should be "candy." (94)

One interesting feature of action potentials in neurons is that they behave via an "all-or-nothing" principle: Either the sum of inputs to a neuron is great enough to initiate a full-fledged action potential, or else nothing happens. In a sense, neurons communicate with each other via a biological bit language of zeros and ones, like computers, in which the information is ensured by the binary behavior of the action potential. That is, the neuron either fires or does not fire.
Imagine being limited to a language that has only two "words," "yes" and "no." These words are analogous to the neuron either firing or not firing, and this simple language forms the basis of brain communication. Through this communication scheme, all of our cognitions and behaviors are possible. The sum of these yeses and nos allows you to read this book, for example. When you turn the page, certain neurons (those responsible for moving your fingers) will fire, while others (those responsible for moving your tongue) will not. Since page-turning actually requires a lot of different movements, many neurons will be involved in this simple act.
(102)

By the term "motor," scientists mean movement. There are no motors in your brain, a point I need to make again and again in my introductory classes! (104)

Retrograde patients cannot remember what they have known, while anterograde patients have difficulties forming new memories. (If you write for American daytime television, you may want to make note of this distinction, as the two types of amnesia make for completely different plotines.) (184)

One final point to make here is that Levine believes that patients with self-regulatory disorder seem to suffer from being unable to inhibit certain responses. Usually we are able to inhibit our responses or behaviors, often to conform to norms that we have been taught. Self-regulatory patients do not seem to have a similar inhibitory mechanism—they do not know what to inhibit. (190)


31mar2009EXCITING EARLY-MORNING RAP BATTLE!

Gila woodpecker #1: My drip-edge! Rap-rap-rap-rap-rap!
Gila woodpecker #2: No, MY drip-edge! RAP-RAP-RAP-RAP-RAP!

And the winner is . . . MY EXCITING LACK OF SLEEP!


29mar2009Why we're stuck with HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) instead of sugar

If you ever find yourself falling for claims that "the free market has failed us," consider the fact that there hasn't existed a free market in the U.S. in over a hundred years. A good example of how "markets" work under the force-backed meddling thumb of central planning by legal gangsters in the U.S. is described in the following articles:

Tariffs and Subsidies—The Literal Cost of High Fructose Corn Syrup

Sweet deal: Why are these men smiling? The reason is in your sugar bowl

(via LRC, from which also comes the following proposed solution:)

Remember what happened when record labels tried to sue people who were illegally sharing music files? That lasted about a year at most. There were just too many people doing it and the record labels just threw up their hands in defeat and said: if you can’t beat ’em then join ’em, and that’s what they did. The people spoke; the people voted with their actions, they voted by withholding their dollars and they voted for a new age of selling and distributing music. The music industry had no choice but to completely revolutionize the way they do business, its pricing schedule and how they distribute music. It was a beautiful thing.

We need to do the same thing with the government. We’ve seen that it works; it just needs to be orchestrated and done.


28mar2009Sham what, now?

From The Smoking Gun (via Consumerist): Meet Vince Shlomi. He's probably better known to you as the ShamWow Guy, the ubiquitous television pitchman who has been phenomenally successful peddling absorbent towels and food choppers. Shlomi, 44, was arrested last month on a felony battery charge following a violent confrontation with a prostitute in his South Beach hotel room.

The best part of the story is ShamWimp's excuse: he says when he kissed the prostitute, she bit his tongue, and he had to punch her to get her to let go. That's so good it reminds me of Chico Marx's excuse when his wife caught him kissing a chorus girl: "I wasn't kissing her—I was whispering in her mouth!"


27mar2009Blogs para newbies: ¿Que es Hotlinking?

Lo difícil no es hacer algo si no detectarlo ya que pasa desapercibido por lo regular, una forma bastante sencilla y cómica de educar a la gente que te hace hotlinking es editar la imagen para que se agregues tu web o cambiar la imagen por otra unos buenos ejemplos está aquí.


26mar2009

What is your major malfunction damage childhood trauma

25mar2009Cat Shit One (a.k.a., Apocalypse Meow)

The single most disturbing fascinating disturbinating thing I have or ever will have seen. I'm going to cry now, courtesy of Warming Glow. Thanks, Matt. Thanks a whole lot.

(Be sure to watch the trailer. Zeusgodbuddha, be sure to watch the trailer.)


23mar2009Cui bono?

I was once told by a slug in the Pinal County "planning department" that the county would use force to prevent me from building a storage shed on private property—in an extremely rural desert area—paid for in full by me.

County slug: You have to obtain a building permit to build a house first, before we'll let you build a shed.
Me: Why on earth should I have to do have a permit? And why on earth can't I build a shed on my own property if I want to?
Slug: Because we're afraid someone might live in it.
Me: And how does that become your business?
Slug: We can't have you living in a storage.
Me: Again—how does that become any of your business?
Slug: Well . . . if the roof fell in on your head, you might sue us.
Me: That's ludicrous. If it would make you feel better—and prevent armed people from invading my property to assault me—I would be happy to sign a statement affirming my willingness to take responsibility for the consequences of my own actions.
Slug: It's not allowed.

Then, oddly enough, she actually tried to be helpful (within the severe limitations of being a slug with an immoral job):

Slug: Tell you what you could do! You could get the shed itself permitted!
Me: Err . . . and that would entail?
Slug: Well, the shed would have to have a kitchen and a bathroom. And pass a regular inspection.

There's just no point in talking to people like this. And no one would have to, if we weren't legally required to have regular dealings with lowlife gangsters who boss us around while referring to themselves as "public servants." So whenever I'm forced to talk to a legal gangster, for whatever reason, I always make a point to ask the following question: "You do realize that what you do for a living is wrong, don't you?"

The amazing thing is that nearly always the bureaucrat or functionary admits that he or she does, in fact, do wrong for a living—and almost always offers the same excuse for doing so: "I have to feed my kids."

 


 

Last week I went with Father Ratbite LaRue (of the Sacred Disorder of the Enigmata) to the Titan Missile Museum (horrifying, and highly recommended, btw) (UPDATE, 15jul2009: Father LaRue's Titan Missile Silo panoramas) and after exploring an unofficial Titan Missile Museum, we stopped off in Coolidge to see the recently collapsed building that once housed the Rexall drug store:

(Historical note: In the background you can see part of the former Cohen's Department Store.)

Update, 09oct2009— The view, now that the rubble is cleared away:

The headline from the Coolidge Examiner was: "Historic building collapses; cause is still undetermined; 'We knew there was a problem and the owner knew there was a problem'."

That second part came from Alton Bruce, city of Coolidge "Growth Management director."

Point One: Coolidge has never had much growth to "manage" (and none that could, or should, be managed by bureaucrats).

Point Two: If, as the planning department slug claimed, buildings need permits so that they don't fall down and give their owners grounds to sue the county, does this mean Pinal County will acknowledge that the owner of the collapsed building has a legitimate legal claim on the county?

Point Three: Of course they won't. Permits and licenses and all accoutrements of legally constituted authority are about power—and nothing else. Learn that, and a huge percentage of puzzling and seemingly idiotic governmental behavior becomes painfully clear. Always ask: Cui bono? The answer is always, always, always the same: government, private interests using governmental power, or both.

 


 

Update: Now with amazing and swell and purty photography by the Rev. Dr. LaRue:

 

(Click and drag to move around in the panorama)


19mar2009Disney = doofuses

Hal Willner: [My records] are tribute records in a certain sense, but that's not the purpose of them. It's more about using a body of work to take a musical journey.
[...]
Hal Willner: Perhaps one of [my] records could break. Had it been understood, the Disney record could have been a hit.
Ink 19: How did
Stay Awake do?
Willner: It sold quite well, but it wasn't what they expected. Considering how well-known that music is, and what happened with some of those tunes... it didn't go anywhere near where it could have gone. The Disney Organization did not like that record
at all.
Ink 19: Did they regret giving you the go-ahead?
Willner: Probably, later. Initially they were fine. For example—this will make you crazy—the Ringo Starr track, "When You Wish Upon a Star," with Herb Alpert, Bill Frisell and Jim Keltner... I knew Fellini a bit, from the Nino Rota album. I had a writing relationship with him; he did the liner notes. I heard he wanted to do music videos, so I wrote him about that. He would have done a video, but they didn't want to pay for it. Think about
that.
Ink 19: This would have been Federico Fellini, directing Ringo Starr singing "When You Wish Upon A Star"...
Willner: ... with Herb Alpert. You know how
great that could have been?
Ink 19: That would have been insane.
Willner: But that's when I got pissed with someone at that company—I won't mention his name, but I said "why are you in this business?" Of course, that was me, being Mr. Naive. He's in the business for his Malibu house, probably. It doesn't do you any good to try to think everyone else should be like you. But yes, I got to do
Weird Nightmare, and yes, I got to do [the Poe album], and I got to do the Lenny Bruce, so I have nothing to complain about.


18mar2009What I learned from the tour guide at the Davis-Monthan aircraft boneyard

"Militarilywise."


08mar2009"Welcome to rock & roll, girls."

Elinor Blake: We did shows with Ronnie Spector as Ronettes. When we played at Madison Square Garden, there was a big dinner for all the acts. The acts were Ronnie Spector, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Johnny Maestro. So Ronnie took us into the dining room over to Bo Diddley's table and he was sitting at this table with this huge plate of chicken up to his nose, and Ronnie was like "Hey, Bo, I want you to meet my girls—this is Elinor and Lisa and Lisa," and he said "Welcome to rock & roll, girls."

The Pussywillows

07mar2009

When Nancy Sinatra was recording "Bossman" I wonder whether she was asked to try and sound like Deborah Harry? If so, Nancy takes direction real well. Four stars.


03mar2009

To act in front of a camera gives me physical pleasure. That's when I get myself realized. Otherwise, I would be a bank manager.José Lewgoy, speaking in Les Blank's Burden of Dreams


26feb2009Why does this have to be so goddamned literally true at just about every step?

 

Contemporary feudal lord: So I want to tell you something.
Future serf #1: Huh?
Contemporary feudal lord: WE are going to spend YOUR money. 800 billion dollars. Whaddya think?
Future serf #1: It belongs for US.
Contemporary feudal lord: It belongs to you?
Future serf #1: Yeah.
Contemporary feudal lord: Well, what if we're gonna spend it?
Future serf #1: No!
Contemporary feudal lord: Please?
Future serf #1: 'cos that's not fair.
Contemporary feudal lord: What if I said we weren't even gonna ask you--we're just gonna do it?
Future serf #1: No.
Contemporary feudal lord: What do you think?
Future serf #2: No! Were you just kidding me when you were talking about our money, or not kidding?
Contemporary feudal lord: I was not kidding you.
Future serf #2: But that money belongs to US! Were you making a joke?
Contemporary feudal lord: It's not a joke.
Future serf #2: Yes it is! We don't HAVE any money!
Contemporary feudal lord: YOU are going to have to pay back 800 BILLION dollars of money that WE'RE spending. This is not a joke.
Future serf #2: It IS a joke! [Begins weeping]
Contemporary feudal lord: It's not a joke.
Future serf #2: It IS!
Contemporary feudal lord: It's for real.
Future serf #2: [Crying] It's not! . . . DON'T TALK ABOUT THAT!!!


25feb2009

The tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with, — for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel, — and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government. — Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience (1849)

My thoughts are murder to the State, and involuntarily go plotting against her. — Henry David Thoreau, "Slavery in Massachusetts"


23feb2009Holy Crapstains

And the Oscar for Best Acceptance Speech at the Independent Spirit Awards EVER goes to:

Mickey Rourke

. . . who should be given awards every year just so we can watch more of his acceptance speeches.

 


23feb2009

"Only obscurity keeps him from having developed a massive press buzz!"

I know! Only money keeps me from having massive wealth! It's SO unfair!


21feb2009IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

Effective today, all government departments have been rolled into one and rebranded, retroactive to their respective establishment dates, as:

The Department of Ascending Alarm

Help us help you—spread some mindless fear today!


19feb2009"Stimulus" . . .

. . . Schmimulus.

Bibliography on the Great Depression


18feb2009

 

 

Richard LaVon Griffiths
aka Groovin' Gary
aka The Beaver Kid

1958 — 02feb2009

R.I.P.

 

 


18feb2009

At the 45 minute mark of Cannonball Run II Tom Jeffords's gravesite very nearly makes its only known filmic appearance (unbilled), playing the part of what would have been the film's single redeeming feature. I don't see where Ray Dennis Steckler (R.I.P.) got his reputation, because compared to CRII, Rat Pfink a Boo Boo makes all kinds of sense.

(Bonus Crap Points: The CRII soundtrack includes "Cannonball" by Ray Stevens (ugh) and "Like a Cannonball" by Menudo (ay de mi) (= ugh en espanol). I'll take the theme to The Lemon Grove Kids any day.)


17feb2009Parallel Lines Converge, Theist v. Atheist Edition

If God exists and if he really did create the earth then, as common knowledge tells us, he created it according to Euclidean geometry, while he created the human mind with an awareness of only three spatial dimensions. Even so, there have been and still are even today geometers and philosophers of the most remarkable kind who doubt that the entire universe or, even more broadly, the entirety of being was created solely according to Euclidean geometry, and who even make so bold as to dream that the two parallel lines which according to Euclid can on no account converge upon earth may, yet do so somewhere in infinity. And so, my lad, I've decided that if I can't even understand that, then how am I to understand about God? ... Even if the parallel lines converge and I actually witness it, I shall witness it and say they have converged, but all the same I shall not accept it. — Ivan Karamazov, The Brothers Karamazov

In my twenty minute discussion with [popular Christian apologist William Lane] Craig, in the process of getting his signature, I asked him about his views on evidence (which to me seem very close to self-induced insanity). In short, I set up the following scenario:
"Dr. Craig, for the sake of argument let's pretend that a time machine gets built. You and I hop in it, and travel back to the day before Easter, 33 AD. We park it outside the tomb of Jesus. We wait. Easter morning rolls around, and nothing happens. We continue to wait. After several weeks of waiting, still nothing happens. There is no resurrection—Jesus is quietly rotting away in the tomb."
I asked him, given this scenario, would he then give up his Christianity? Having seen with his own eyes that there was no resurrection of Jesus, having been an eyewitness to the fact that Christianity has been based upon a fraud and a lie, would he NOW renounce Christianity? His answer was shocking, and quite unexpected.
He told me, face to face, that he would STILL believe in Jesus, he would STILL believe in the resurrection, and he would STILL remain a Christian. When asked, in light of his being a personal eyewitness to the fact that there WAS no resurrection, he replied that due to the witness of the "holy spirit" within him, he would assume a trick of some sort had been played on him while watching Jesus' tomb. This self-induced blindness astounded me.
— Mark Smith, jcnot4me.com


16feb2009Alec Baldwin Does the Ol' Huck 'n' Buck

(Spotted by Cardhouse Robot)


15feb2009

I never thought that Australia was a place that needed culture, of any description. But we did feel we had to have it, as we had to have an opera house—something to put on the stamps. And slowly, of course, it began to grow, and it only really grows on decaying things, because culture is, after all, cheese. Or yogurt.Barry Humphries, in Not Quite Hollywood


14feb2009A Valentine for the Government at Washington


14feb2009Great YouTube Thumbnails, #17

Amy Sedaris on The Late Show with David Letterman


13feb2009Angelina archaeologizes herself

Neurosis is sexy at the very beginning or if you're Liz Taylor holding a martini and wearing a seethru slip that matches your fucking eyes. But laypeople would be wise to remember that if you play switcheroo with even one of those goddamn qualities you stand a high chance of being told to fuck off for being such a dysfunctional spazz about everything.
Of course. If you are the type to do it anyway, and you are hot, you can always sniff your nose and sort of spin right round to face another partner on the dancefloor when you find yourself rejected. Someone is always waiting in the wings to take you for a spin because your act is That kind of act. The kind that lures from very very afar.


12feb2009

Sic semper tyrannis


11feb2009Postcard received 10may2008 from Operative SL/AA '08

Doc:
With the devaluation of all solidity, rumour and mindf**k will become the coin of the realm. The hobo of the future will snatch IT-pies from the portals of negligent multinationals with a million web-windows. The new letters inverted with your tax dollars. The arcs between "V" and "W" I can't write here ... will be unleashed by pranksters and the English language will become the equivalent of Beta and Quad. A snicker will be stretched out digitally to the next millenium and the last laugh multiplied ad infinitum.

Postcard description (by Hivnor Card Co., P.O. Box 91, Zanesville, Ohio 43701):
The Walhonding and Tuscarawas Rivers
They meet to form the Muskingum River just above the bridge that connects the old Canal town of Roscoe with Coshocton, Ohio. Restoration of Historical Buildings was started at Roscoe in 1969.


10feb2009Excellent advice from Summer Glau

Support the police: confess to a string of unsolved murders.

(Possibly even be more helpful—Support the citizenry: implicate a cop in a string of unsolved murders.)


10feb2009Reads like a story from The Onion, but it's true:

Mayor Daley said Wednesday he unloaded four of Chicago's most valuable assets for a $6 billion mountain of cash, in part, because city employees are clock-watchers who don't think about the customers.
"They're not customer-related. They're gonna leave at 5 o'clock. They're gonna leave at 4:30 or 4. I'm sorry. We're on a time clock. They walk out. But, in the private sector, when you have a customer, you're gonna stay there making sure they're happy and satisfied," Daley said.
"We can't compete with the private sector. The private sector has a complete idea of who your customers are. Government doesn't have customers. They only have citizens."

1. NO DUH, VANCE!
2. But good for Daley for:
a) finally recognizing at least a sliver of the illegitimacy of the family business, and
b) publicly admitting it.


09feb2009Fabulous web design by Channel 15

Update: "Sonoran Living is the original daily lifestyle magazine show, on weekday mornings at 9 AM. It's about Arizona women digging in the desert dirt and then getting a manicure."


07feb2009Wish I'd never needed money badly enough to sell my copy of The Wild, Wild World of the Cramps: Random Crampsiana

1. An email exchange from 27jan2009:

do you know the cramps song "caveman"?
of course not, silly. i don't know squat.
nobody like the cramps [sends over "Caveman"]
uhhhhh, look, man
make tool
caveman
no fool

nobody like the cramps
that was fun. waaaaaay better than patrick swayze's song.
the world of the cramps is wild and wonderful. you should visit there sometime.
i will! all i know of them is their logo. it always kind of scared me.
they're just rock and roll archaeologists
interesting.
i have no idea what that means.
they are archaeologists of rock and roll. how's that?
oh ok. i think i get it. they dig through old stuff and make it their own?
preCISEly. well done
here they are playing at a mental hospital in 1978.
that was so WEIRD. omg. weird.
"they told me you people are crazy. but i'm not so sure about that."
hahahaha
there is NO show like a CRAMPS show. no foolin.
i'm wondering what the audience is like? i mean, for the non-mental hospital crowd.
haven't you ever been to a wild, wild show?
um...i'm guessing no.
once during "bikini girls with machine guns" some idiot at the nile (in mesa) threw a toy machine gun and hit ivy over the eye with it. lux stopped the show and just about incited a riot. it had been a somewhat lackluster show for the first few songs, but after that they played about the best cramps show i ever saw.
yikes! i hope they kicked the idiot out so he couldn't enjoy it.
he didn't get kicked out, he just got pummeled into better behavior
seems fair.

2. Terrific semi-recent fifty-two-minute interview (!) with Lux & Ivy from WFMU. (Ivy: "Records are amazing, because it's like a mechanical documentation, recreating something from people who may be dead now, or whatever, and then they're in the room. It's sort of like a way of invoking their presence by just putting on this CD or record.")

3. The first time this one woman ever came over to my house, in about 1995, as soon as she walked in the door she saw a Hasil Adkins record. "Hasil ADKINS!" she shouted. Good sign. Then she sat on the couch and I played the entire tape of The Cramps Live at Napa State Mental Hospital for her. She didn't say a word the whole time, she just stared at it, and when it was over, she said, "I think that is the most beautiful thing i have ever seen." The Cramps + (other) crazy people = excellent litmus test.

4. Although, five years later, this email exchange:

need to know: was it the cramps that did the video thingie at a psych ward?
you could forget THAT?!?
it just popped into my head and i can't really recall all of the details...
(yes. it was the cramps.)
you still have that video?
you think i could part with THAT?!?

5. Then, six more years later, she wrote asking "why you no go to cramps avec moi? (after having seen me there). That was in November of 2006, on what turned out to be the Cramps final tour. 1,000,000x glad I was there for that.

Deeply reluctant adios, Lux.


04feb2009I Dig That God Damn Rock & Roll

. . . but I do NOT dig the god that damns rock & rollers.

 

 

Lux Interior

21oct1948 — 04feb2009

R.I.P.

 

 

GODDAMNIT

 

 

I should have known that spot of vulture shit this afternoon was trying to tell me something.

Lux Interior message

04feb2009From Intelligent Thought: Science Versus the Intelligent Design Movement (ed. John Brockman):

Brilliant as the design of the eye is, it betrays its origin with a telltale flaw: The retina is inside out. The nerve fibers that carry the signals from the eye's rods and cones (which sense light and color) lie on top of them and have to plunge through a large hole in the retina to get to the brain, creating a blind spot. No intelligent designer would put such a clumsy arrangement into a camcorder, and this is just one of hundreds of accidents frozen in evolutionary history that confirm the mindlessness of the process. (37; Daniel C. Dennett, "The Hoax of Intelligent Design and How It Was Perpetrated")

While in the Galapagos, creationist theory primed Darwin in key ways for what he observed and understood there. Just as important, this theory also dictated what he failed to observe and understand. Commenting on his extensive efforts to collect specimens on Charles Island, the second of the four islands he visited, Darwin recorded in his personal journal, "It will be very interesting to find from future comparison to what district or 'centre of creation' the organized beings of this archipelago must be attached." He was clearly trying to reconcile the new and strange creatures he was encountering in this remote archipelago with the prevailing creationist paradigm. According to this theory, different "centers of creation" explained why the earth's flora and fauna differed from one region to another-for example, between continents. What is apparent from Darwin's reference is that he did not yet realize that such a tiny portion of the globe as the Galapagos archipelago might actually be its own" center of creation." (110; Frank J. Sulloway, "Why Darwin Rejected Intelligent Design")

After he had left the archipelago and was sailing to Tahiti, Darwin had one last opportunity to rectify this collecting oversight. The Beagle had stocked forty-eight tortoises from San Crist6bal, the first of the four islands Darwin had visited. As they sailed across the Pacific, Darwin and his Fellow shipmates gradually ate their way through the evidence that was later, in the form of hearsay, to revolutionize the history of science. The carapaces of those forty-eight tortoises, which could have been compared with other specimens at European museums, were unfortunately all thrown overboard with the rest of the Beagle's garbage. (113; Frank J. Sulloway, "Why Darwin Rejected Intelligent Design")

Fortunately, Darwin knew that three other collectors on the Beagle (Captain FitzRoy, FitzRoy's steward Harry Fuller, and Darwin's own servant, Syms Covington) had also collected specimens in the Galapagos. All of these specimens turned out to have been labeled by island; significantly, it was the nonscientists on the Beagle, who were not as theory-driven as Darwin, who recorded the scientific evidence that Darwin, based on a creationist approach, had considered superfluous. After his meeting with Gould, Darwin diligently sought out this locality information, and he later used it to support his case about the mockingbirds and tortoises, although the evidence was still uncomfortably tenuou& Fortunately, additional sources of information over the next two decades, drawn in part from reports about other oceanic archipelagoes, would transform this suggestive evidence into incontrovertible fact. (117; Frank J. Sulloway, "Why Darwin Rejected Intelligent Design")

The recurrence of atrocities committed in the name of God shows that they are not random perversions. Since unverifiable beliefs have to be passed along from parents and peers rather than discovered in a world we all share, they differ from group to group and become divisive identity badges. And an omnipotent authority that no one can see is a useful backer for malevolent leaders hoping to enlist holy warriors. For the same reason, we must reject the idea that a fear of divine retribution in an afterlife is necessary to deter people from committing evil acts when no one is looking. Perhaps it is true that if nonbelievers thought they could elude the legal system, the opprobrium of their communities, and their own consciences, they would not be deterred by the threat of spending eternity in hell. But they would also not be tempted to blow up thousands of people by the promise of spending eternity in Heaven. The basic problem is that our own eyes tell us that virtue is not rewarded, nor evil punished, by miraculous acts in this world. So we have to rely on proclamations by religious authorities about how divine justice will be meted out in the next world. And that puts a mighty temptation in their path. (145; Steven Pinker, "Evolution and Ethics")


03feb2009

When That Was the Week That Was came on air, with its truly groundbreaking satire of the Macmillan government, Home Secretary Henry Brooke wanted to ban it. Macmillan himself is reputed to have supported the program, on the grounds that it was better to be laughed at than ignored. He famously attended Peter Cook's Establishment Club, and sat with smile intact through a monologue in which Cook, in character as Macmillan, ad-libbed, "There is nothing I like better than to wander over to Soho and sit there listening to a group of sappy, urgent, vibrant young satirists with a stupid great grin spread all over my face." Perhaps Macmillan understood better than Cook that this sort of satire has limited influence on the real business of politics. The personal jibes may sting the victim in passing, but the system marches on. — Jimmy Carr & Lucy Greeves, Only Joking, p. 229


02feb2009Portrait of the Mojave Phone Booth (present day), by Amy


02feb2009COMING SOON! . . . to a Theater of Economic Operations Near You!

SEE 21st-century bureaucrats determined to re-enact the exact same idiotic policies of 20th-century bureaucrats!

WATCH these idiotic policies fail in the exact same ways they did in the 20th century!

TREMBLE at the sight of almost infinite pointless infrastructure pork, paid for with money stolen under threat of legal violence!

THRILL as politicians blame everyone and everything but themselves for their ignorant tinkering with issues of which they have little to no understanding!

WEEP for yourselves, and for the many future generations who will be paying for this largest theft of all time!


31jan2009 — From Walter Swan's "me 'n Henry

One evening, after supper, while all of the kids were outside a playing, my wife, Deloris, said to me, "Do you realize that you have lived in a day that is real choice, back when there were more horses on the street than there were cars, up to the time of TV and all of the modern conveniences we have today? I think you should write your experiences down so that when our kids grow up, their kids can see what it was like when you were a kid." (12)

Most all of the government land was already homesteaded. However, there was one location that my father liked real well. On checking the county courthouse records, he found that this one hundred sixty acres was not filed on yet. So he filed on it before he left Tombstone, which was the county seat at the time. It was some twenty-five miles away, so that meant a good day's ride on horseback. (13)

The men loaded him into a horse-drawn wagon and they started to the town of Bisbee, some eight miles away, to take him the mining c01npany hospital. The ride to the hospital was not so bad after what he had gone through to this point.
When the men got him in there, they just left him. They knew that he would be there for a long time.
For some reason I could never understand, when the doctor looked at my dad he just shook his head and said, "I'm sorry. We can't help you here."
(20) [Sounds oddly familiar...]

Mamma went outside and got a big bowl of snow and brought it in the house. She put some sugar and cream on it and we all ate it. And it was real good. (42)

Well, this was a good thing if you had running water in the house, but the only kind of running water we had was the kind you ran to the well with a bucket and got, then ran back to the house with it. (42-3)

We had been a going for a while when my dad said, "Walter, look in back of us and see if they're a coming."
You see, that was before there were any rear view mirrors.
I looked back and said, "Yep, they're a coming like a bat out of hell and they're making more dust than we are."
Just about that time my dad's hand and my nose had a collision and my nose started to bleed all over the car and on some of the picnic stuff that the neighbors had put in the back seat with us.
Well, my dad pulled the car over and stopped to take care of me. It wasn't too long 'til my mother caught up with us and she came and tried to get the bleeding stopped. I was not hurt, but was just a bleeding a lot.
You know, it was years later before I figured out why my dad had slapped me. And this is the way it was. You see, my dad was not always careful about what kind of language he used when us kids were around and I had picked up a lot from him 'cause I wanted to be just like my dad and this embarrassed him and he had reacted this way.
(53)

At the market, every person that came by, I was a hoping that they would buy my rabbit.
A man walked up to my dad and put out his hand and said, "I am Governor Hunt. Let me shake this little boy's hand, too."
It didn't thrill me much. I didn't really know what a governor was. If he had of bought my cottontail it would have thrilled me a lot more.
(109-10)

Well, we kept O'Cow for a long time 'til one day I heard my dad a talking to my mother about where they were going to get the money to pay the taxes.
''The only way that I can see is to sell O' Cow and Junior. We might get enough out of them to pay up the taxes." my dad said.
I watched Mamma and Daddy load them up and I thought to myself that it just ain't fair to have to go that way after being with the family for over twenty years.
(117)

I still remember the sound of the horses hooves a going up and down the streets and the melodic chant of the iceman calling out, "Iceman! Iiiicemaaan!" And the echo would answer back off the canyon wall.
That is about all Bisbee is. Canyons! Some places are so steep that you would wonder how they got the stuff up there to build a house with. The streets seemed to me to be almost straight up with such narrow switchbacks that I used to wonder how in the world horses pulling wagons could get up them.
Pretty soon a housewife would come out on the porch and wave a dish-towel and holler, "You-hoo! You-hoo!"
And then you would hear something like this, "How many pounds, lady?"
And she would answer back from the top of the canyon in Brewery Gulch, "Fifty pounds!"
The only way to get up there was to climb a set of cement steps about a block long and almost straight up and down.
Well, the iceman would take out his ice pick and chop off a block for her and start up there with it on his back, with a happy smile on his face. When he reached the top he was a little out of wind, but that was all in the day's work. He received his pay, which was five cents. (Ice was the same price at the top of the hill as it was at the bottom and that was ten cents for a hundred pounds, five cents for fifty and three cents for twenty-five.)
The iceman was always the most popular man in town with all of the boys and girls 'cause he always gave them the little chips of ice to eat.
As soon as he had sold all of the ice he had in his wagon, back to the ice plant he would go for more.
And this was the daily life of the iceman.
(133-4)

One day, the last thing that our dad said to us before he left for work was, "You two boys get that stray white face cow out of the pasture. There isn't enough grass for our own cows, much less the strays."
So me 'n Henry went to great lengths to figure just how we were going to get her out of the pasture. But some how or other Henry always managed to use my chin to lead with instead of his. So I, being a little on the dumb side, took it all in.
(169)

All my life I had heard about the "coast" and what a wonderful place it was and now, in a few minutes, I was to be there, the big city of Los Angeles, California. That is where my mother lived and I was going to stay with her for a while and maybe even get a job and go to work. (266)

I was tired from the long trip from Bisbee, Arizona and as soon as Mamma made up a bed for me in the front room on the couch, I was asleep in no time at all. I didn't know anything 'til the next morning when the daylight started to come in the window. I was soon up and had my clothes on and I was ready for the day.
My mother was still sound asleep, so I went out and walked down to the corner of the block to have a look at the big city. Everything was so quiet. There was hardly any activity on the street at all.
This was the first time that I had ever seen a big city. It seemed so lonesome. There were no mocking birds a singing, no cottontail rabbits a running around, and none of the beautiful morning sounds that I was used to all my life in Arizona. All I could hear was an occasional car go by and the dogs a barking. There were a few people on the streets who looked like they needed to go back to bed and sleep a while.
(266-7)

I didn't take any notes of the meeting. I couldn't have read them, anyhow.
Well, I didn't stay with that group of people very long. I didn't like the policy they had of making someone do something that they didn't want to do.
Besides, I had other things on my mind now. I was a looking for a good girl that I could marry and have a bunch of kids by.
(286)


30jan2009Spotted this around town the day after this


30jan2009From Paul Hoffman's The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdős and the Search for Mathematical Truth

Like all of Erdős's friends, Graham was concerned about his drug-taking. In 1979, Graham bet Erdős $500 that he couldn't stop taking amphetamines for a month. Erdős accepted the challenge, and went cold turkey for thirty days. After Graham paid up—and wrote the $500 off as a business expense—Erdős said, "You've showed me I'm not an addict. But I didn't get any work done. I'd get up in the morning and stare at a blank piece of paper. I'd have no ideas, just like an ordinary person. You've set mathematics back a month." He promptly resumed taking pills, and mathematics was the better for it. (16)

[Erdős's cousin Magda Fredro:] "He once looked up six phone numbers. Then we talked for half an hour before he phoned them all, from memory. More than all his scientific work, that impressed me." (30)

. . . Eratosthenes of Alexandria, whose nickname was "Beta" because he was said to be at least second best in everything, from geometry to drama. (35)

For generations of mathematicians, prime numbers have always had an almost mystical appeal. "I even know of a mathematician who slept with his wife only on prime-numbered days," Graham said. "It was pretty good early in the month—two, three, five, seven—but got tough toward the end, when the primes are thinner, nineteen, twenty-three, then a big gap till twenty-nine. But this guy was seriously nuts. He's now serving twenty years in the Oregon State Penitentiary for kidnapping and attempted murder." (35)

His style was to work on many problems at once with colleagues in far-flung locations. "Every day he called mathematicians all over the world," said Peter Winkler of AT&T. "He called me all the time. 'Is Professor Winkler there?' Even when my kids were very young, they knew immediately that it was Uncle Paul. He knew every mathematician's phone number, but I don't think he knew anyone's first name. I doubt if he would have recognized my first name even though I worked with him for twenty years. The only person he called by his first name was Tom Trotter, whom he called Bill." (49-50)

Erdős was born in Budapest on March 26, 1913, the son of two high school mathematics teachers. While his mother, Anna, was in the hospital giving birth to him, her two daughters, ages three and five, contracted septic scarlet fever and died within the day. "It was something my mother didn't like to talk about," Erdős said. "Their names were Klara and Magda, I think." (61)

There were a lot of anti-Semitic acts," Paul Erdős recalled. "Being a Jew, my mother once said to me, 'You know the Jews have such a difficult time, shouldn't we get baptized?' I told my mother, 'Well, you can do what you please, but I remain what I was born.' It was very remarkable for a small child—I was only six or seven then—because, actually, being Jewish meant nothing to me. It never did." But what meant everything to Erdős, even at this young age, was being true to his own birthright and never compromising his principles, no matter how inconvenient or life threatening it was to maintain them. Throughout his life he would fearlessly defy "Fascist" authorities of every stripe, be they armed thugs, mindless university bureaucrats, the U.S. Immigration Service, the Hungarian secret police, the FBI, Los Angeles traffic cops, or the SF ["Supreme Fascist," or God] Himself. (70)

Erdős was once spotted at a party, hunched over on a couch, studying Flatland, the only work of fiction he may have read cover to cover as an adult. (120)

Einstein and Godel were close friends. Like Erdős, Einstein tried to pull Godel out of his crisis of confidence, and succeeded in turning him on to relativity theory for a sufficient time to produce one important paper. Mostly, though, Einstein tried to keep Godel out of trouble. Godel's paranoia led him to see contradictions not just in the foundations of mathematics but in other hallowed subjects as well. While reading the U.S. Constitution in preparation for his citizenship examination, Godel became convinced that he had found an inconsistency that allowed for the possibility not of a president but of a dictator. Godel was irate—he had come to America to avoid dictators like Mussolini and Hitler. During Godel's oral examination for citizenship, Einstein had to restrain him (interrupting and cutting him off) from sharing with the examiner his appalling discovery. (121-2)

"Einstein definitely did not believe in a personal God," said Erdős. "That I know because I asked him." (123)

In 1995, Erdős and [Hank] Aaron were awarded honorary degrees at Emory University. Like the other honorees, Erdős wore a cap and gown, but he also wore his sandals and sat on the podium with his head in his hands, doodling during the ceremony in one of his mathematical notebooks. Pomerance told the home run king all about Ruth-Aaron numbers. "He was a gentle man," said Pomerance, "and listened patiently is I explained that what he did also changed the life of one small mathematician." Pomerance convinced Erdős and Aaron to autograph a baseball for him. "And thus," said Pomerance, "Hank Aaron has Erdős number one." (197)

Though only a century passed before Euler proved Fermat's Little Theorem, his even simpler-sounding Last Theorem would defeat generation after generation of the best minds in mathematics for more than 350 years. In the late 1630s, Fermat claimed that he had a proof, but tantalizingly kept it to himself. The truth of the theorem was not established until 1994, when Andrew Wiles at Princeton University emerged triumphant from eight years of largely clandestine work to articulate a long and difficult proof. Erdős did not approve of Wiles's working in isolation. The theorem might have been proved earlier, Erdős felt, if Wiles had let the mathematics community in on his work. Wiles apparently feared that if he hadn't kept his work secret, others might have beaten him to the finish line or mocked him for tilting at windmills like Don Quixote. To throw his colleagues off track all those years, Wiles released a series of minor papers. "This is probably the only case I know where someone worked for such a long time without divulging what he was doing, without talking about the progress he was making," said Ken Ribet, whose own work was integral to Wiles's proof. "Mathematicians are always in communication. When you talk to other people you get a pat on the back; people tell you what you've done is important, they give you ideas. It's sort of nourishing and if you cut yourself off from this, then you are doing something that is probably psychologically very odd." (199-200)

The [cornea] transplant took about two hours. Before the operation, the doctor carefully explained to him the procedure.
"Doctor," Erdős said, "will I be able to read?"
"Yes," said the doctor. "That's the whole point of the surgery."
Erdős went into the operating room, and when the lights were dimmed, he immediately got agitated. "Why are you turning the lights down?"
"So we can do the surgery."
"But you said I'd be able to read."
He then had a huge argument with the surgeon about why, since only one eye was being deadened, he couldn't read a mathematics journal with the other, good eye. The surgeon made a series of frantic calls to the Memphis math department. "Can you send a mathematician over here at once so that Erdős can talk math during surgery?" The department obliged, and the operation went smoothly.
(258-9)

[Ron Graham:] "There are problems in graph theory called extremal problems. They are problems about extremes, like 'What's the largest number of edges a graph can have?' Erdős was into questions like that. I had heard about a European aristocrat who bought out an opera house and gave tickets to his friends and put all the bald ones in a certain position so that when he looked down from the balcony their bald heads spelled out something spectacular, unbeknownst to them. That gave me the idea of holding a conference of extremal mathematicians. I'd invite all the strangest people I knew over at the same time, not tell them why they were invited, and see if they could figure it out." (282)


30jan2009The Gun Club - "Jack on Fire"

I am like Jack, I am from southern land
I'm holding your happiness in my hand
The sun behind me is a sexual red
And all your bounty-hunting ghosts are dead
I am like Jack and I tell you this
I will be your lover and exorcist
In the stillness of the mosquito sunset
You will make love to me to your very best
Hey, hey—yes, I'm like Jack on fire
Hey, hey—your lips kiss Jack on fire
Way back in the Indian days
Nothing could drive the heat away
Drive the search and murder of lost enemies
Drive deep into what is never seen
And like Jack, there is a heat to the fight
Like a moth detects a heat to the light
And like Jack, I covet everything that is you
Because the heat in you will temporarily do
Hey, hey—yes, I'm like Jack on fire
Hey, hey—your lips kiss Jack on fire
In New Orleans at the Mardi Gras
I was dancing in a costume made of straw
Some creole boys was a-lying dead
I used his blood to paint my costume red
A-black and white, I will abandon brain
For your nerves in hand and a ball of string
The marshes are sinking in a bright red sky
And you will make love to me tonight
Hey, hey—yes, I'm like Jack on fire
Hey, hey—your lips kiss Jack on fire
And when you fall in love with me
We can dig a hole by the willow tree
Then I will fuck you until you die
Bury you and kiss this town goodbye
It'll be unhappy, it will be sad
But it'll be understood that I am bad
So don't you go and lie to me
'cause everyday is judgment day with me
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey—I'm like Jack on fire
Hey, hey—your lips kiss Jack on fire
You sleep with Jack on fire
You eat with Jack on fire
You beat like Jack on fire
We all know, you are nothing
And oh no, you are nothing
You will eat like a Jack on fire
You will dream like a Jack on fire
You will think like a Jack on fire
You will be like a Jack on fire


29jan2009Question for a naturalist

If bees can do that amazing dance by which they're able to communicate precise directions to the rest of the hive, how come a bee that finds its way into a house can't manage to navigate its ass back outside by the same way it came in, instead of just banging against the nearest window for hours?

Update— Cardhouse Robot (not a naturalist, but lives near one) writes: Because encoded into those directions is the vector to the sun. So once it sees the sun, it goes "okay, I know the way to the hive ..." and it runs into your goddamned glass. And if it can't see it, it will try to get out of shadow (your goddamned house) and into direct sunlight. By, in this case, repeatedly banging against the glass.

That's a good point. Forgot about the sun. BEE, THOU ART FORGIVEN.


28jan2009Farmacia Naco

(Photo by Laurie McKenna)


27jan2009Tonight, on FRONTLINE:

In "Taking on the Mafia," FRONTLINE/World correspondent Carola Mamberto explores the story of a restaurant owner—backed by an upstart anti-mafia movement of young people and an elite law enforcement team— who refused to pay the mafia's monthly "tax," taking a stand against mob bosses who've kept Italy in their grip for decades.

Q: Hrmm, so when will FRONTLINE do a story about a restaurant owner who does the same thing here in the U.S.?
A: Never, because here, the mob bosses who've kept the country in their grip for decades are law enforcement.

(Behold the (almost) comical naiveté that led the writer of the program description to put the word tax in quotation marks, as though there were some qualitative difference between the mafia and any other gang of criminals that makes tax demands backed by threat of violence.)


27jan2009Space Food Sticks & Melodiage

Calculations are now complete. I could launch my mp3 library and it could play for over three-and-a-half years without repeating a single song. Finally! I am ready for my round-trip to Mars.

Say, what's this about "an Adam and Eve-type situation"?

Um, Mission Control, Mars One, here. Wondering whether Altoids would violate the weight restriction too much, over?

It was through Space Food Sticks that children of the Spage Age learned the nature of the sacrifices it took to be an astronaut. (Pictured: deceptive child.)


26jan2009KUATO LIVES

(See also)

(More Total Recall fun)


25jan2009From Wayne Grady's Vulture: Nature's Ghastly Gourmet

Their bald heads and bare, serpentlike necks are too readily associated with death and decay; their featherlessness enables them to slide their heads into the inner reaches of putrid carcasses without having to spend a lot of time grooming afterwards. (6)

Ancient historians tell of skies darkened by flocks of vultures following armies into battle. (9)

From a purely evolutionary standpoint, however, it makes sense to have a taste for food nothing else on the planet except microbes and maggots will touch. The world is full of scavengers, but most of them would rather kill their own food than find it or at least prefer their trouvailles to be as fresh as possible and will turn up their noses at carcasses in advanced stages of putrefaction. They don't have the stomach for them. Vultures do. The acid in a vulture's digestive tract is so strong that botulism and cholera bacteria that would wipe out whole villages pass through a vulture like milk through a baby, and studies of vulture excrement show that they actually help control serious outbreaks of anthrax in cattle and swine when they eat infected carcasses; their stomachs destroy the bacteria that cause the diseases. This ability to eat meat that would kill any other carnivores cuts way down on competition and increases the vulture's chances of survival in such fiercely competitive habitats as deserts and tropical forests, as well as in northern boreal environments, where the lineup at a carcass can be twenty or thirty species long. Vultures can afford to wait until the jackals are finished before lying down with the lions. (16)

You might at first mistake a turkey vulture for a red-tailed hawk or, in the west, a mature golden eagle, but there are several ways to distinguish turkey vultures from other large birds of prey. The bright red head is a dead giveaway, but since a turkey vulture keeps its head drawn closely into its feathered neck ring, or ruff, during flight (to prevent heat loss), this feature is often difficult to detect. Look at the angle of its wings. While soaring, hawks and eagles keep their wings in a more or less straight line, parallel to the ground; vultures, with their larger wing area, hold theirs in a slight V, a formation known as a dihedral. Vultures also waver or wobble on the air currents, tipping back and forth like butterflies; eagles and hawks seem less precariously balanced. They also have pronounced "fingers" at the tips of their wings; these are the primary feathers, which can be manipulated individually for greater flight control. (37)

David Kirk noticed another difference. Black vultures, he found while livetrapping both black and turkey vultures in Venezuela, are extremely aggressive when handled by researchers. "They pull chunks out of you," he says, "they flap, they stink, they throw up all over you, they do everything all at once. Turkey vultures, on the other hand, are completely passive. When you go up to them they just play possum." In his cage-traps he would sometimes capture twenty vultures at a tiMe: "When I went to take them out the turkey vultures would lie down on the ground and the black vultures would climb up on their bodies to get at me." (42)

Gomez's study, conducted with Houston and others in southern Colombia, greater yellow-headed vultures located carcasses buried under piles of leaves 63 per cent of the time, compared with only 5 per cent by their mammalian competitors, and were arguably better at finding food even than turkey vultures, which can sniff out a dead field mouse under a manure pile from a great height. In fact, turkey vultures followed greater yellow-headed vultures to the carcasses, and with king vultures following the turkey vultures, the pecking order at a carrion site, from the mighty king down to the lowly yellow-heads, began to look socially rather complicated. (45)

For turkey vultures, the conjugal compact is permanent; they mate for life. Divorce is not uncommon in black vultures. (50)

An effort is made to place the eggs in some sort of shade so that they do not become addled while the parents are off eating carrion, but this is fairly rudimentary parenting. Egg collectors of a more innocent era discovered that if they stole the eggs from a black vulture nest, the vulture would lay a second clutch within the next three weeks—a phenomenon known to biologists as double-clutching—but not in the same nest: a second nest is chosen a short distance from the first. This phenomenon bespeaks a certain degree of care in selecting nest sites, but even pigeons, which lay their eggs any old place as long as it is near the edge of a cliff, are known to kick a few twigs or pebbles into a heap and then defecate on it to keep it together before ovipositing directly on top of thc spindly mess. Vultures place more trust in luck than they do in nest building. They do not seem to compensate for their carelessness by being copious egg producers: they lay usually two eggs, sometimes only one, almost never three, every second year. (51)

When young vultures hatch, they are a fluffy, downy white and weigh only about 50 grams (2 ounces). Between hatchling and adult, they thus multiply their weight by a factor of 30—the same ratio as for humans, except that vultures do it in about eighty-one days, whereas we take eighteen years. They achieve half this remarkable gain in the first twenty-one days. (53)

Brooding is also shared by both sexes, at least for the first five days after hatching, at which time the hatchlings achieve thermal independence and can be left for short periods while the parents forage. After two weeks, the adults make only frequent feeding visits to their young. Each time they do, they land near the nest and, in case anyone is watching, spend the next fifteen minutes or so looking very nonchalant, preening their feathers, hopping around in different directions; no doubt, if they had lips, they would whistle. Then they hop suddenly and clumsily into the nest and spend exactly one minute feeding the chicks. This charade takes place three times a day and will go on until the chicks leave the nest. (53-4)

Disturbing a vulture nest with young vultures in it is not a good idea. Although the parents usually retreat to the nearest tree, the chicks are prone to retaliate. First, the nestlings will lower their heads and hiss at you like rattlesnakes, holding their wings out on both sides, wrists bent down, tips touching ground, and charge at you like a pair of hellcats spitting fire. It is all bluff, of course, and when it doesn't work, they will hide in a corner of the nest and glare at you. If further pressed, they will disgorge the unlovely contents of their stomachs and craws onto your hands. Vultures also have a habit of excreting on their own legs, to help them cool off when excited, and being handled gets them excited. (54)

I once saw a fledgling turkey vulture hopping about on a forest floor, and it was such a mottled white and black that I thought at first it was a domestic chicken, until I saw that it was eating a domestic chicken. (55)

The purpose of roosting is a matter of some conjecture. Migrating monarch butterflies, for example, roost probably to conserve heat during the night; rock doves and migrating semipalmated sandpipers may roost for safety, as a strategy to confuse predators. Roosting in vultures seems to have more to do with sharing various kinds of knowledge. Roosts, in other words, may act as information centres where successful birds—those who are good at finding food—pass on information to less suecessful birds of the same family or clan. The successful foragers leave the roost early in the morning with a specific goal in mind—the carcass they found the previous day—and the less successful foragers simply follow them to the carcass. (56)

Turkey vultures are more territorial than black vultures or yellow-headed vultures. David Kirk says that he has seen as many as a hundred black vultures feeding contentedly together on a single capybara carcass weighing less than 4 kilograms (9 pounds), whereas turkey vultures feed one at a time, dominant male first, while the others stand off to one side, in the manner of beta wolves and coyotes, shuffling their feet and making light conversation until it is their turn to gorge. As Kirk points out, turkey vultures are hierarchical feeders that need to dominate a carcass, and it is easier to defend a smaller carcass than a large one. "A cow carcass," he says, "just has too many entry points, and it would take a great deal of energy for a turkey vulture to defend it against a horde of black vultures." Turkey vultures, in other words, may have evolved to fill the small carcass niche so that they wouldn't have to share their food with anybody. (56-62)


24jan2009

Incomplete Table of Blind Bluesmen (+ One Blueswoman)
  Blind Alfred Reed  
  " Arvella Gray  
  " Andy Jenkins  
  " Blake    
  " Boy Fuller  
Slow " Driveway    
  " James Campbell  
  " Jim Brewer  
  " Joe Hill  
  " " Reynolds  
  " " Taggart  
  " Lemon Jefferson  
  " Mack    
  " Mamie Forehand  
  " Mississippi Morris  
  " Roger Hays  
  " Roosevelt Graves  
  " Sammie    
  " Squire Turner  
  " Willie Davis  
  " " Dunn [Note: not really blind]
[Incidentally, also not black]
  " " Johnson  
  " " McTell  
  " " Reynolds  

 


24jan2009Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Times Online:
Missiles fired from suspected US drones killed at least 15 people inside Pakistan today, the first such strikes since Barack Obama became president and a clear sign that the controversial military policy begun by George W Bush has not changed.
Security officials said the strikes, which saw up to five missiles slam into houses in separate villages, killed seven "foreigners"—a term that usually means al-Qaeda—but locals also said that three children lost their lives.

[...]
Eight people died when missiles hit a compound near Mir Ali, an al-Qaeda hub in Pakistan's North Waziristan region. Seven more died when hours later two missiles hit a house in Wana, in South Waziristan. Local officials said the target in Wana was a guest house owned by a pro-Taleban tribesman. One said that as well as three children, the tribesman's relatives were killed in the blast.

Incidentally, what a juxtaposition on the article page:

Oh, yes, please, by all means, let's have a slide show of a silly, extravagant coronation celebration—who'd be interested in watching a slide show of the first batch of children murdered by the newly anointed?


23jan2009A few of you have asked what appendicitis is like. Here's an image that came to me.

Have you ever had to take a little beating in order to get "in" with a group, and at the end, you're lying on the ground, you're "in," you're glad it's over, and suddenly one asshole has to get in one final boot to the stomach?

Appendicitis is a long line of assholes stretching over the horizon, each taking a turn at putting in the boot de grace. All day long. Not recommended. The end.


22jan2009More thought provoked at The Picket Line

The end of January is approaching, and so you’re probably starting to get those W2s and 1099s and such in the mail, showing any money you brought in in the above-ground economy, and how much taxes were withheld.

And so you can probably get started in making some back-of-the-envelope calculations of how much you gave Uncle Sam last year, how much you still owe (or maybe you overpaid like so many do and you’re looking forward to getting some back). At least you’ve got a ballpark figure, right?

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what that money went for? You worked hard for it. Those dollars represent hours of your time.

Did you send in enough, do you think, that you can take credit for the $46,790 the Defense Department spent to have a portrait painted of the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld? Maybe not the whole thing, but you can certainly claim to have put in your hours for a brushstroke or two. The nation thanks you.

And also:

I didn’t see any of yesterday’s coronation hoopla, but many of my friends were overcome by emotion and emitted yelps of excitement in various on-line fora, so I couldn’t just let the event pass without notice as I would have wished.

I am embarrassed for my friends and my country that we still enthusiastically install royalty at such great expense at this late date after the success of our revolution. And unlike the former monarchies which have devolved into republics and divested their crowns of significant power, we seem largely determined to attach all of our hopes and most of our sovereignty onto our king (or even, as the last eight years showed, some court jester).

The people have spoken. If the people had any sense of shame or any self-awareness, they’d shut the fuck up. They’ve been speaking for a long time now and casting terrible, hateful imprecations that have called forth demons that they refuse to accept responsibility for or attempt to control.

[...]

For all of Obama’s talk of “responsibility” yesterday, you can be damn sure nobody is going to be asked to accept any. For instance, I noticed—crestfallen in spite of myself—that Bush escaped Washington without having issued a much-expected midnight blanket pardon to the people who designed and implemented the U.S. policy of torturing its prisoners—so confident was he that no prosecutions (at least of anyone important) would be forthcoming.

Is there any hope that in my lifetime Americans will grow up and begin to take on the responsibilities of adults, instead of superstitiously appointing royal messiah-scapegoats to absorb our agency and take the blame for our sins?


20jan2009Forecast: No Change (Selected Inauguration Day Readings)

From Sheldon Richman's "The Peaceful Transfer of Violent Power":

The essence of government as we know it is the power to use force against people who have never harmed anyone. The most basic power is the power to tax. Indeed, government could do nothing without it. The power to tax is the legal authority to compel people to surrender their money to the state under penalty of fine, imprisonment, and worse for refusal. Whether or not one thinks this power is good (I don't), one cannot deny that it is based on the threat to commit violence against the nonviolent.

Thus, this week we witness the peaceful transfer of the authority to commit legal plunder.

Apologists for government undertake bizarre mental contortions to show that we have consented to be taxed. Balderdash. I was never asked to consent, and I'm sure you weren't either. I refuse to accept the nonsensical argument that by not vacating the parcel of land I purchased, I have signaled my "tacit consent" to be plundered and bullied. That implies the government owns the territory it rules and therefore can set the conditions under which it is used. That sounds like feudalism. Are we merely tenants of the governmental landlord?

[...]

If you don't want your money given to others—say, Wall Street banks, auto companies, welfare recipients, stem-cell researchers, military contractors, the Israeli air force, the Iraqi and Afghan rulers—too bad. You have no say. Correction: you have one impotent vote every four years. That's virtually the same as no say.

If you don't want the armed forces killing people in your name, again, too bad. No one asked you.

If you don't want the Treasury and the Federal Reserve stealing your hard-earned money through deficits and inflation, you may as well shut up. It's going to happen anyway.

This is the power the peaceful transfer of which we celebrate.

We might wonder why inaugurations aren't more sober affairs. Why all the hoopla? The answer is simple. Government is a horrendous and exploitative imposition on most of us. From the rulers' perspective, there is always the danger that we may figure this out and refuse to go along. Hence the need for regular propaganda spectacles to reinforce the myth that we are the government.

From Michael S. Rozeff's "The Problem of Looting":

Looting is a basic human behavior. The question is how to control it, or protect one's property. There are four organizational answers: do-it-yourself, do it in mutual association with others, do it by hiring others, and do it through the state. The first three of these maintain one's liberty to choose. The fourth does not, unless one selects one's state freely, which is not today the case; and if one selects one's state freely, it amounts to hiring others.

We don't want to be looted, so we choose one or more of these methods and use them concurrently to bring looting down to acceptable levels.


20jan2009Curse you, repetitive History

(From 2004)

FDR's policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate

After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.
"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."

Oh, good, because how likely is it that lawmakers would gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies? I mean . . . what I mean is . . . I'm saying we're fucked.

See also: "The New Deal Worked": Why Do So Many People Accept that as Fact?


19jan2009

So I finally get out of the hospital yesterday and find that, according to half the sites I check, not only is my getting out of the hospital not big news (suresurethankswhatever) but the big news is that some guy put Nick Nolte on his credit card. Sure, it sounded newsworthy, until I found out they only meant the guy put Nolte's picture on his credit card:

BFD . . . I thought the story was that the guy put Nolte on his credit card—I mean, on his credit card account. Now that would be newsworthy. But putting a photo of some washed-up celebrity loser on your credit card? Sooooo thirteen years ago:

(And yeah, I'm fine, thanks, thanks so much.)


14jan2009Thus it ever was => sic semper tyrannis.

Next time you're in a post office or other "public" building, look for the dedicatory plaque. There'll be one, you can bet on it. Want to bet on whether the plaque credits the people whose substance was stolen in order to pay for the building, or the thieves who stole the money? No? Well, smart move. They'll enshrine the goddamned "Sanitary Inspector" before they'll let a single poor taxpaying sap take any credit.

And on that note: Goodbye, George. . . .


13jan2009What? You didn't sign up to be in the Constitution-free zone?

The ruling gang says: Too bad.

From J.D. Tuccille's "Train search by Border Patrol just another incident from the Constitution-free zone"

The U.S. government claims special powers to conduct such searches anywhere within ... well ... about a two-hour drive of the border. That's right. Up to 100 miles inland, you can expect the sort of treatment my correspondent received on his train journey.

The American Civil Liberties Union refers to this 100-mile corridor round the perimeter of the United States as the "Constitution-free zone." As a map of the zone demonstrates, it includes many of the largest cities in the United States—and about two-thirds of the population.

See also: ACLU Fact Sheet on U.S. "Constitution Free Zone"


13jan2009Warren Christopher? Very exciting! As a casting problem.

Casting director: Get me the wrinkliest actor you can find, preferably, though not necessariliy, alive! John Hurt? Brilliant! (He's alive, right?) Oh, and find me someone else for Laura Dern's part, because this Laura Dern don't even seem like the real Laura Dern!

As you can tell, I just saw the first half of Recount. It feels like they tried to make their depiction of the events even more boring than it was when they actually took place, and that was pretty damned boring. Did Bush steal the election? Sure. They're all criminals at that level, anyhow, and stealing is one of the things criminals do. Gore was already a war criminal, Bush soon to be one, blahblahblah. A movie about two troops of contemptible politicos contending over which of their chosen criminals gets to be capo di tutti capi? Zzzzzzz. I shut it off halfway and switched to Johnny Cash in Door-to-Door Maniac (a.k.a. Five Minutes to Live, available for free from the Internet Archive). I prefer my murderers to be fictional.

But...

...film highlight: Harry Browne made it into a movie.


12jan2009Hee-Haw parody in which Jenny Lewis is Barbie Benton, the Watson Twins are the Hagers, and Sarah Silverman does the weird Buck Owens laugh that every kid whose parents watched Hee-Haw used to go around doing

 

(I went to check the spelling of Hager and come to find out Jon Hager died just last Friday, only eight months after Jim Hager. Hee-Haw.)


12jan2009Greek Alphabet Band Names! Hurry down today! Only One Left!

Alpha
The Alpha Band
The Beta Band
Gamma
The Delta
Zeta Band
Eta Band
Theta Band
Iota
Kappa
Lambda
Mu
Nu Band
Xi
Omicron
Pi the Band
The Rho Band
The Sigma
T A U
Upsilon
Phi
Chi
PSI
OmegaBand
Omega



To Deuce of Clubs