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It kills blog dead more so

04.19.2003

(Writing, Politics, Criticism, Ethics, Chat)

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Addendum to:

Jonathon (who has made his own comments) invokes Stavros to "[tack] rather heavily into the tradewinds of hyperbole" and then comes out with, "the tools, the technology of it all, the minutiae of the format, these are not the common ground from which the communities and friendships and creative ferment that blogspace is fostering spring." All over this article by Meg which beefs out that outline I linked to and got my rant on.

I found parts of it amusing such as, "But if I visit your site at 4:02 p.m. and see you just updated at 3:55 p.m., it's as if our packets crossed in the ether." The star-crossed packet prose was the highlight of an otherwise pointless article. I don't buy the argument about educating journalists in order to get more accurate rah-rah articles written based on the fact I don't give a flying-force-feedback-fornication. I don't care what they write anymore, but Meg could at least make it sound interesting and I care more about what she has to say about the topic.

Content is still king, even if he's lost his crown while in a drunken stupor. He'll sober up, find it, and all will be well, unless things are goings to hell. If they are, I hope someone remembers to bring the booze, drugs, and the good music.

Have so many people lost sight of the fact that the vast majority of humanity just doesn't give a shit about blogging, and probably never will? But at the same time, that same majority loves poetry and music, stories and songs, all manner of art and craft. But they don't care about the technology, even if we do.

-stavrosthewonderchicken

Meg won't give up the point, "Without the tools, there would be a lot less of the beautiful voices dancing to the muse, or however you put it." To which I say phooey! There's your intellectual blogbate! I've come late to the party, as oft I do, so I need to catch up. My current read is that: A) You can't define weblogs by their content. B) You can't define weblogs by their structure or the tools that got them there. Which leaves me to conclude that weblogs are whatever we say they are. All things being true and possible to this new malleable media. Of course, this salient subjective truth brings me to conclude that it's a quixotic undertaking to explain it just as much as it is to contain it. So there can't be an article or a book that can do the thing justice.

I have a better understanding of what Meg was trying to do in that article after reading the comments she left. A lot of the flack she received was due to people not seeing that she was focusing on only the "how" and "what" and not the "who" and "why." It doesn't change my view that it's pretty pointless to write about it. So this is a whole lot of words that refute their own worth. It's just like Dave's Tangent, but the misogynist hatred is replaced with anti-weblog absolutism and we can all still be friends in the potential sense while Dave will live on alone in sexual frustration.

While traversing that jumbled jungle I found a link to yet another Rebecca Blood article to rip on. I wanted to be oh so much more lovable and kind in my writing and I'm not a mean person, but things get to me just like they get to everyone else. My response when I come across this smug "I'm trying to establish weblogging's importance in fostering worldwide communication in new and exciting ways" is, "It doesn't need your help." After reading it and I find it's a badly cribbed, half-assed summery of well-trodden journalistic ethics wrapped in a crispity crunchy weblog shell.....ARGH!

If I can be honest for a second without cutting into my anger rhythm, half the bad taste is because it reminds me of my own poorly crafted whiny "why can't we all get along" rants. Also, I hold no real grudges here. I just find these futile attempts to legitimatize weblogging funny because they tend to come from people with books about to be or have been published on the subject. -OK, where was I? Oh yes!

It's very telling about the level of knowledge and attitude of the author when you begin your essay about weblog ethics with, "Weblogs are the mavericks of the online world." If you define a maverick as anyone that would dare to put words online outside of the carefully censored commercial websites, then maverick we are. The problem is that there are a considerable amount of weblog writers whose most maverick moment is their confessional tale of an over-due DVD rental. The real mavericks of the online world are folks with sites like Timecube whom no one can deny has been successful in "proving human stupidity." So we start this essay with a lie or a false assumption. Great start!

I'm skipping to the list of ethical points, because I couldn't think of anything good or funny to say about all that filler. It can be boiled done to, "Any weblogger who expects to be accorded the privileges and protections of a professional journalist will need to go further than these principles." Now, if I wanted to be a journalist, I wouldn't need her bare bones effort on ethics. If I wanted to be a weblogger that aspires to journalistic treatment, I wouldn't need her bare bones effort on ethics. It's insultingly short and embarrassingly obvious, so that must be the audience it's written for. Fuck em. Why?

1. Publish as fact only that which you believe to be true.

Liars will lie and gossip hounds will keep on barking. If they haven't learned basic honestly when they were kids, then this statement is not going to have any affect on them. I see no point in its presence here other than to make it clear from the start that you are not going to find anything new when "weblog" goes in front of "ethics".

2. If material exists online, link to it when you reference it.

Amazingly, people that write weblogs can be lazy. Who knew? You'd think that the basic building block of the web, the hyperlink, is something well known to the webloggers. They might not be able to construct a hyperlink at first, but damnit! They want to! It's the whole point, besides the snarky commentary that surrounds the sucker.

But hey, thanks for pointing out that we should only link to things that are online. Fucking Genius!

3. Publicly correct any misinformation.

If you tell a friend about some news story and a week later you read that it was wrong in some way, should you call him up and tell him? Will he think any less of you? Will you be unethical in any way? Sure, you want your weblog to be accurate, but don't fool yourself in thinking anyone gives a crap if you didn't follow-up on the fuck-ups of journalists we're supposed to be trying to emulate. If they cared about the story, they'd probably know anyway and if they don't...you know.

I think there is a difference between reporting a story and correcting it later and the linear linking and thinking stream that ends up on a website. It only bothers the people that crave closure and completeness. I hate seeing that on weblogs. I can do my own follow-up and I'd never fault any weblogger that didn't, unless I wanted to act like a prick.

4. Write each entry as if it could not be changed; add to, but do not rewrite or delete, any entry.

Oh fuck off already! Drunken rants posted at 3am are among my most favorite things. But if someone is embarrassed by the fact that this resulted in a story about masturbating with stuffed animals while wearing their undies on their head and is complete with a webcam shot, I'd cut the fellow some slack. Instant revision of history rules! You just gotta stay one step ahead of the google cache my friends!

In other words, no one is perfect. We can laugh and cry about people pulling posts down, but it's entirely within their rights and has nothing to do with ethics. It's about modesty, shame, or even cowardice. Rest assured that most folks would not care. If you care about those that do, then you should explain it to them, but don't feel obliged to keep it up.

5. Disclose any conflict of interest.

Here's a standard bit of ethics that has no special status as part of a piece on Weblog ethics, but when you have hardly anything new to add to ethics in the first place you are bound to want to make it look like there's more to it than a couple of tweaks.

6. Note questionable and biased sources.

Be an expert on every loony bias of every link you provide. Yeah, it'll happen. Hell, this one is ignored on a regular basis by the warbloggers. Most readers with an ounce of working brain matter know the political angle held by the site owner is probably reflected in their choice of sources. Besides, I think I can determine what a questionable and biased source is on my own. If the weblog linker hasn't, I don't think any less of the person unless they make the claim that the story is 100% true. In other words, you must remain on guard at all times. That's your responsibility as a reader.

To present an article from a source that is a little nutty or has a strong agenda is fine; not to acknowledge the nature of that source is unethical, since readers don't have the information they need to fully evaluate the article's merits.

Oh, the arrogance to assume that readers don't have information that you do when you both have equal access to a link. They have just as much a right to draw their own conclusions about a source as you do. You can link and not write a word about that link. This is not unethical.

A link is just a doorway for finding more information. It doesn't and shouldn't imply support to a site. It only suggests that the site owner is looking at that site or was. Linking has become political to some, but it doesn't matter what they think. Actually, linking only means what you want it to mean. If you care about making sure people know what you mean when you link, you will naturally make an effort to tell them so. If you don't, then your readers won't either. The ones that do don't have to be your readers, but you don't care anyway. So...you know.

A weblog can be a conversation. If a reader wants to know about the reliability of a link, they can ask. A weblogger doesn't need to be worried about being called unethical by some goth idiot.

It was a simple few words like "goth idiot" that caused some to call Eric racist. The difference is that Eric was making a flippant remark about a single person and he's never evidenced any inkling of racist belief before, while I was making a deliberate statement that this goth is an idiot. I will admit that I believe all goths are idiots, but not any more than any other pathetic follower of fashion.

He ignored rule #4. He wrote "Pakistani/Iranian idiot" and changed it. By changing it he gave power to the argument that he intended it to be racist even if only in the off-color joke sense. Plus, Eric is the kind of guy that prefers to use gasoline when putting out fires so they burn really bright before going away. Asinine, perhaps, but not racist.

Unfortunately, the site owner of blogshares is an idiot who decided that Eric will be taught a lesson by making a big announcement about it on his site. Due to the current popularity of the site he knew this would result in tons of people abusing Eric on his website for a long time to come.

As people began to pick away at Sayed's claim of racism, he decided to close the thread and stop the conversation he initiated.

I do not apologise for bringing this up on a public forum nor for banning the individual concerned. I will not be engaged on this matter further not for the lack of stomach for it but simply because I have a responsibility to the many players of this site to concentrate on the important matters of bringing new functionality and fixing bugs.

Sayed makes it clear that even though he is both "Iranian" and increasingly shown to be an "idiot" calling him an "Iranian idiot" is racist. The only way such a thing is possible is if the person that said it means it by implication. This is because to most Americans Iranian is not a race anymore than American is. It may be an ignorant position, but it is a fact. So the implication is something that can only be clear to regular readers that know the full context of his humor. As a regular reader, I know it was not racist and only a regrettably misunderstood joke. Since Eric denies this implication, the fact that Sayed continues to think he's being insulted for his race gives strength to the claim of idiocy. It might, instead, be because he's an asshole, which puts him on closer terms to Eric. Of course, Eric could be considered an idiot for thinking he could get away with calling anyone an "Iranian idiot" before we've actually declared war on Iran. It might be a little premature to call anyone a "Syrian Idiot" and we don't need to be at war with the treacherous French to called them "cheese eating surrender monkeys" as long as they continue to think they can veto whatever they please. If all this confuses you, simply blame the Canadians. They are little too French for their own good anyway.

More ethical questions crop up when bandwagoneer, Simon Jessey suggests, "Good for you. I think you absolutely did the right thing. Perhaps blogs that link to him should suffer horrendous losses too." Which dovetailed perfectly with Sayed 's, " Eric Brooks and his doting supporters who chimed in can go fuck themselves. This is not for you. Nazis not welcome here, thank you." Both of them later retract these statements and yet continue to deny Eric the same courtesy. So now they become hypocrites too.

What are the ethical issues involved in linking to a racist, an idiot, a hypocrite, an asshole, or a merely someone thought to be a racist, but was just acting kind of careless and treated accusations of racism with scorn? Can you participate in a stupid web game without liking the idiot that runs it? What if you consider the person he slanders a friend? Rebecca! What the fuck? These weblog ethics are useless! Hell, even the journalists are all confused. I see the logic of #4, but damn we need more!

There is only one thing to do in such a situation. Grab a beer and finish the post with a captured AIM chat from today. There's your moral clarity!

shiraoftunare: tacos all gone, tis a sad day =/
Linkworthy: oh sorrow for we are left to dream of the tacos of tomorrow
shiraoftunare: sniff
Linkworthy: will they be as crisp and tasty, will they be cheesy as they were beefy
shiraoftunare: Amen
Linkworthy: Will they clog arteries and stop hearts and produce sonic boom farts!
shiraoftunare: sonic doesnt exist, it's a lie
Linkworthy: Hedgehog, the other red meat.
shiraoftunare: no, the restaurant
Linkworthy: they serve Sonic at the restaurant?
shiraoftunare: sigh
Linkworthy: what about his partner whats-his-name?
shiraoftunare: tails
Linkworthy: I wonder if they fried him up as a meatball
Linkworthy: for a quick bite
Linkworthy: Zerg is the word I heard
shiraoftunare: Zerg!
Linkworthy: Sing it
Linkworthy: bring it to the larvae
Linkworthy: may all they pupate
shiraoftunare: if you come to battle bring a zergling, cause when I duel, I duel to the death
Linkworthy: Never mind no bunker in which wimpy terrans hunker
Linkworthy: Make a play make a play the hydralysks are coming your way
shiraoftunare: mmm, bunkers
Linkworthy: The Queen coming through to foo', she's gonna brood you
shiraoftunare: damn tonberrys
Linkworthy: And what lost from the Protoss when dey cast the storm spell'oss
shiraoftunare: dark archon mind control
Linkworthy: What you gonna shout when the pyschic storm done play out?
shiraoftunare: oww?
shiraoftunare: die tonberry die
Linkworthy: Ah you terrans in a rout and then my Zergies gosta clout
Linkworthy: It's a victoray, hey what a day, but I did never doubt
Linkworthy: Zerg rules dis place is whats itz a about, PEACE!
shiraoftunare: have SC on the brain now?
Linkworthy: insane on my brain
shiraoftunare: went insane? got no brain?
Linkworthy: can't complain except for the pain when the CPU goes down the drain
shiraoftunare: its a feature
Linkworthy: its bonus reboot so you can shout WOOT!
Linkworthy: I love watching bios loading I love seeing scandisk going - so golden
shiraoftunare: scandisk!
Linkworthy: guyz!
Linkworthy: it gets a rize
Linkworthy: no chance to despize
Linkworthy: it's running is a prize
Linkworthy: among the Windows wize
shiraoftunare: everyones grudge! yay!
Linkworthy: It's programming fudge!
Linkworthy: hey
shiraoftunare: say
shiraoftunare: hey you guys
Linkworthy: as the beef slowly fries...
Linkworthy: damn my eye! Is that a roach?
shiraoftunare: eww
Linkworthy: No-ew it's a newt!
shiraoftunare: still not as bad as a roach
Linkworthy: certainly a more polite approach
Linkworthy: like calling it 2nd class instead of coach
shiraoftunare: about equal to a tonberry
Linkworthy: and as sweat
shiraoftunare: sweet?
shiraoftunare: how can he stab me with the chef's knife after Ive stolen it, cheater
Linkworthy: it comes out in pores
Linkworthy: does Allen entertain as much as he bores
shiraoftunare: only when he sings "im every woman"
Linkworthy: Oh what wonder I missed that sigh
shiraoftunare: everyones grudge! yay!
Linkworthy: "I believe that today more than ever a book should be sought after even if it has only one great page in it: we must search for fragments, splinters, toenails, anything that has ore in it, anything that is capable of resuscitating the body and soul. It may be that we are doomed, that there is no hope for us, any of us, but if that is so then let us set up a last agonizing, bloodcurdling howl, a screech of defiance, a war whoop! Away with lamentation! Away with elegies and dirges! Away with biographies and histories, and libraries and museums! Let the dead eat the dead. Let us living ones dance about the rim of the crater, a last expiring dance. But a dance!"
Linkworthy: Everybody Dance Now!
Linkworthy: Let's Sweat!
shiraoftunare: but the dead smell bad, I dont wanna eat em
Linkworthy: SWeeeeaaaaT Come on, let's move (grove)
shiraoftunare: are you gonna make me sweat til I bleed?
Linkworthy: if it's what you neeed
Linkworthy: Oh Baby, I've got what you need, but you say he's just a friend, but you say he's just a friend
shiraoftunare: so I took blah-Blahs word for it at this time, I thought just havin a friend couldnt be no crime
Linkworthy: No brother sing it to me now
shiraoftunare: <3 everyones grudge
Linkworthy: don't player hate
shiraoftunare: too many tonberrys
Linkworthy: I've deflated my whimsy sated
Linkworthy: DEF Comedy CHAT
shiraoftunare: def comedy jam sUx0rz
Linkworthy: can't hack this hack?
Linkworthy: my l33t mofo
shiraoftunare: cant stand the crappy whiny poetry
Linkworthy: Rage Against My Manhood
shiraoftunare: fucking tonberrys
shiraoftunare: #$@$#@%$@
Linkworthy: Aways tis better to Yang than to Ying, but to done both is better for the balance it brings
Linkworthy: so what is the tonberry reffering too
shiraoftunare: tonberrys
Linkworthy: and they are?
shiraoftunare: with the annoying chef knife
Linkworthy: a show?
shiraoftunare: little green fuckers that carry lanterns and do way too much damage
shiraoftunare: FFVIII
Linkworthy: oh
Linkworthy: jeeeesh!
Linkworthy: too much tea and coffee today
shiraoftunare: junkie
Linkworthy: I drink like a fish when I write
Linkworthy: it's worse at night when I switch to beer
Linkworthy: beer is cheap out here
shiraoftunare: nasty stuff
Linkworthy: it's like cheaper than drinking water
Linkworthy: and I'm serious
shiraoftunare: thats scary
Linkworthy: ass end of civilization
Linkworthy: ok maybe not
shiraoftunare: you love it, admit it
Linkworthy: that's Wheaton
Linkworthy: ;-)

It kills blog dead

04.17.2003

(Writing, Politics, Criticism)

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A small impediment, to be sure, a smaller and smaller impediment. People became habituated to the bizarre notion that nowadays someone might ask them to pay attention to a hunger artist; and that habituation passed judgement on him. He could hunger for all he was worth, and hunger he did; but nothing could save him now, people hurried by ignoring him. Try explaining the art of hungering to someone! If a person doesn't feel it, then you can't make him understand. The lovely posters became dirty and illegible; they were torn down, no one thought of replacing them. Initially, each completed hunger-day had been carefully marked on the small notice board; but then the figure had long since remained the same, for after the first few weeks the staff had grown tired of even this minor task. And so the hunger artist kept on hungering, as he had once dreamed of doing; but no one counted the days, no one, not even the hunger artist himself, knew how long he had been hungering, and his heart grew heavy. And if once in a while some idle passerby happened to stop, make fun of the old number, and talk about a hoax, it was in its way the stupidest lie that indifference and inborn malice could come up with. For it was not the hunger artist who was cheating: he labored honestly, but the world was cheating him of his reward.

- Franz Kafka, The Hunger Artist

Kafka was able to write in such an honest way that simple human truth presents itself no matter how strange the setting, plot, or characters. People always talk about how something has a timeless value. There are times when writers and artists not only reflect their times, but themselves. Kafka did the latter in such a humane way as to end up writing about everyone.

So is the state of my mind of late that I have been mulling over all the media musing about web writers. Web writers are known less respectfully as webloggers. They are viewed - if they are given any thought at all - even less favorably when labeled bloggers. The feelings become more intense when they are labeled warbloggers and in this case the feelings go either direction, but if you share their obsession then something like respect emerges for their ability to vomit in vast volume their view.

It appears that the ability to hold a neocon opinion about things and apply it like a film over every new article and op/ed piece that passes your way is the current zeitgeist. When the IT bubble burst, the popular web writers of the time were almost entirely composed of web designers that didn't produce memes to promote to the masses, but they merely were pointed to them or found them and then passed them on. It was hard to hate them for anything they did. However, many did in the same manner people hate the most popular kids in school or deride celebrities for engaging in free speech. In the latter case, it seems to be entirely lost on them that we had to endure 8 years and 29 criminal convictions of a jelly baby popping Reagan.

In less than a year things changed the makeup of the "A List that does not exist" for good when terrorism decided it wasn't going to remain only a problem for airline passengers and oh, just about every populated corner of the earth that wasn't directly under United States rule. This came as a great shock to many Americans accustomed to viewing the world in the 20-second sound bites that the majority of 'merican media provided.

At this point two distinct camps began to take hold and their divergence could be summarized from their take on the, "Why do they hate us?" question. I'm not saying that this was the only question. There are many of them like the, "Who is it exactly that hates us?" question, the, "What should we do about them? question, the, "Who should we start killing first?" question, and the "When will we know we've won?" question. These are all valid and important questions, but the first one shows that important split in thinking.

On one side there is the belief that we could do more by changing our diplomatic philosophy in addressing the demands of the world. We would not be submitting to terrorism, but subverting the very thing that gave it strength: that's conflict, suffering, and murder. It recognizes that it is not possible to kill an idea by killing the people that hold it. This is something that was lost on the Romans with their Christian genocide campaign. Instead of attacking the people, which by way of proximity kills many more that are not our enemies than are, we would eliminate the funding of the support structures that fuel desperate acts.

Instead of getting into our many vehicles and going to the mall to shop as our President suggested, we could have stayed at home and developed strategies of conservation with the largest focus on reducing oil consumption.

"...black blood of the earth."
"You mean oil?"
"No, I mean black blood of the earth."

-Big Trouble, In Little China

The President likes to talk about God and many folks on the left have invoked the question, "What would Jesus Do?" OK, they rephrased it, but anyway...The President could have given a speech about the importance of sacrifice. This is more suitable now, in the season of Easter and Lent, an idea of fasting. If we could go on a national hunger strike from oil, we could do more to undermine the corrupt regimes that rely on its sale than all the bombs we could ever drop: even if they were mensa-smart. If we passed a Patriot Act that upheld the spirit of our Constitution and made it against the law for anyone to purchase oil from a nation that constantly commits human rights violations, we would make a clear statement about the direction of change needed in these countries.

This would be just one part of the paradigm shift in policy for a lasting peace. I don't have the proper funding to develop this in any greater detail for now, but I want to at least illustrate the main difference from the current policy that is more than amply documented by the various neocon web writers.

What I believe to be the reason why the current neo-conservative course is so appealing to the majority of Americans is that it's the simplest route and it's set in simple terms. It is the natural result of the dumbing down of popular culture and its transition into popular politics. It also requires absolutely no effort aside from spending money on flags, yellow ribbons, and lots of duct tape. It asks for you to sacrifice your children for war, but not your inefficient vehicle. It doesn't want you change your lifestyle, except for you to be more suspicious of Muslims. It doesn't engage Americans to become more mindful and sympathetic to the world, but reinforces to them that they are better than, richer than, stronger than, and smarter than their enemies. So not only do we not have to change, but we should spend more and therefore consume more of our share of the world from the implication that we deserve every damn morsel that we can manage into our mouths. It is the self-strengthening logic that breeds the notion that God loves us more because we were born in a rich nation and therefore, God loves people in Africa less and the people of Palestine the least (though not without a lot of competition from the Kurds).

Once again the Western/Eastern dichotomy of thinking is present in the way we approach this problem of terrorism. We have tried to flush it out with direct force instead of taking in the whole scene and developing ways in which to draw them out into a dialogue and reduce their numbers by an application of a open debate of ideological arguments in the form of a mammoth global forum funded by the United States, but presided over by the United Nations. This, of course, is also a rough idea and not fully developed, but it's never been tried to such a degree and enhanced by a multi-billion dollar sponsorship to guide a sustainable peaceful solution. As I heard on the Daily Show, "We need a bomb to kill ideas."

If I had one of those bombs, I'd like to blow up the idea of blogs. The whole hooha over them has blown the concept out of proportion and the idea has been thrown into distortion to the point where it means nothing.

What is a Weblog (blog)?

>Web page with small chunks of hypertext
-date stamped
-ordered reverse-chronologically
- newest information at the top of the page

>Chucks called "Posts"

>Posts = links + commentary

>Web native format
- Beyond the page paradigm
- Post is a self-contained topical unit
- Liberates writer from word count

>Distributed

>Social

>Often personal

>Easy!

Meg's outline definition that I took from her powerpoint presentation on weblogs to the MCLLM gives you a taste of the futility of continuing the charade that you can define it. There's nothing stopping her from adding an Anti-Social bullet point for those that merely get online to rant or that it can be as impersonal or hard as you choose it to be. In fact, a weblog need not be date stamped, ordered reverse-chronologically, or do you need to put new information on the top of the page.

The chunks of writing in the form of posts bears no noticeable difference from a bulletin board system other than the fact that almost anyone can create a new post. To further dilute this idea are group weblogs like Boing Boing and Metafilter. The only new thing from the BBS's of the 80's is that they are on the internet and that this gives them hyperlink abilities that were an impossible feature for a BBS. But even calling weblogs personal WebBBS sites doesn't fit, because all this functionality is optional.

I must say that I can't even imagine what "Beyond the page paradigm" could possibly mean other than it is some sort of cool blogger buzzword bingo. "Calling B-S!" It's about as meaningless as "Post is a self-contained topical unit" since a post can be about any number of topics or about nothing whatsoever, hence the everything/nothing label that got slapped on many weblogs. They can only be self-contained if they follow the strict definitions of date stamping with some other marker for indicating one part was a separate post from another. I challenge this rule as a form of excluding weblog innovation and personal style. If someone doesn't want to write in individually wrapped easily consumed units they are not necessarily doing something different from weblogging. Lastly, I never thought we, O wondrous writers on the web worried about word count before we labeled ourselves webloggers.

Now I don't mean to pick on Meg, only on the idea that I want to destroy. It's the same idea spawning books that become obsolete as soon as they are written (which I admit to never reading or even having one iota of interest in). Hey, I'm down with the Cluetrain and I don't knock the folks making money selling suits and academics lectures on how to "get it." I'm just wondering if you tell them the whole truth about your "expertise" and understanding of all things weblog and that the very idea is snowballing into an unmanageable cornucopia of possible content configurations.

I am entirely sympathetic to the plight of the web designer (damn Internet Explorer to hell). It's not a pleasant thing to realize that you've been knocked from your pedestal by the likes of instapuppet Glenn Reynolds with his legion of rabid war wankers and Wil Wheaton with his legion of Freaks & Geeks. But I question whether you can make the jump to weblog evangelist or that it's something that should be done in the first place. It's the same question I ask every day as I try to segue from virtual reality training to writing. To continue with VR would have entailed a huge commitment to master X3D (which I tried for a while), but it was getting to the point that most of that industry was going towards either the military or porno and I balk at both. It doesn't mean that I haven't stopped thinking about its military or especially, its sexual applications.

Coming down from my last bit of web writing, you can tell that I don't knock the porno possibilities. I simply fear being tempted into becoming a test subject and finding myself fully fucked up by a force-feedback failure. Also, there's a sick symbiosis that makes people so warny. It's something I felt years ago when contemplating these career routes.

I know I can't really kill the idea of these words in favor of the more general "web writer" label. "Weblog" works for me for most instances and sounds better than saying, "I have a blog" which almost begs for a sympathetic response, "Oh, you poor thing! I hope it clears up soon." Needless to say I despise the "blogosphere" and it's hideous permutations. I tried to use each one at one point and found them all lacking. The only thing that needs to die is the illusion of definition for something so indefinite. The important thing is what someone is saying or doing on their weblog and why we should care.

"When they say, 'Gee it's an information explosion!', no, it's not an explosion, it's a disgorgement of the bowels is what it is. Every idiotic thing that anybody could possibly write or say or think can get into the body politic now, where before things would have to have some merit to go through the publishing routine, now, ANYTHING."

- Harlan Ellison

When I first read that quote it pissed me off. I understand it differently now and it's not so much that I agree with the sentiment, but I am beginning to feel the weariness involved in fighting Sturgeon's Law. Ethel the Blog is where this quote invoked that initial reaction and has become one of my favorite spots on the web.

The first weblog I visited was Robotwisdom while searching for information on Artificial Intelligence and it seems I should have consulted his site before I read XML to the point my eyes bled (it looks like they want to totally prove Jorn's point by giving the "br" tag the boot [except for things like poetry] in XHTML 2.0 making it look awfully silly). Anyway, I have found many more great sites since then and I link to most of them.

Recently, I came across this post. It reminded me about recent events of which I really don't want to go into. I have been giving a great deal of thought on what I write and where I write it. I have been trying to expand my reading list, which might seem a little crazy considering I'm trying to write more at the same time. In a nutshell, I need to visit sites where I engage in debate without getting all worked up about stuff. This means that for the time being I have to cut down on my participation in sites where my views don't mesh well with those of the site owner. This doesn't involve ill will. It's a pre-emptive retreat to prevent an emotionally charged outburst.

Unfortunately, this is the price of the current zeitgeist.

"I always wanted you people to admire my hungering," said the hunger artist.
"We do admire it," said the supervisor obligingly.
"Well, then we won't admire it," said the supervisor. Why shouldn't we admire it?"
"Because I have to hunger, I can't help it," said the hunger artist.
"Wow!" said the supervisor. "Why can't you help it?"
"Because," said the hunger artist, lifting his head slightly, pursing his lips as if for a kiss, and whispering right into the supervisor's ear so that nothing would be lost. "Because I couldn't find any food that I liked. Had I found some, believe me, I wouldn't have made any fuss, I would have stuffed myself like you and everyone else."

It echoes my hunger for love, truth, freedom and understanding. To go with that is the hunger to be more loving, honest, tolerant, and understanding. To have and to be and to be able to share it. It's never a tragedy to fall short of this goal, but it would be to never think to aspire to some part of it.

Slouching toward Viagra

04.15.2003

(Sex, Sexism, Religion, Dreams)

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"Often a man is asleep and it is awake, and many times a man is awake and it is asleep. Many times a man wants to use it, and it does not want to; many times it wants to and man forbids it."

- Leonardo de Vinci

The Penis Theme (The Cheers Theme)


The radio played in my car today about something every guy's got.
Something whose size is among their worries, something some grab a lot.
Wouldn't you like to let it sway?

When pants are tight and don't fit right
Jig's up, it's time to sail
And you're little angle
Hung like a bent humpback whale
And your third fiancé wouldn't blow

Sometimes you want to go
Where every hooker knows its name
And they're always glad you came
You want to be where she can't see
That working late ain't to blame
You want to be where every hooker knows its name

Roll out of bed, Mr. I got head
Wallet's little more light
And your girl ran off to charge shit
There's gonna be a fight
And you catch her doing girl on girl

Be glad there's one place in the world
Where every hooker knows its name
And they're always glad you came
You want to be where she can't see
That working late ain't to blame
You want to be where every hooker knows its name

Where every hooker knows its name
And they're always glad you came
Where every hooker knows its name
And they're always glad you came

Monday I was in my car listening to NPR. A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis was being discussed. Where David M. Friedman veers deliberately from the double entendre, I go boldly into talking about old baldy. For the history is sure to have plenty of ups and downs. I'm sure the book covers the various in and outs and reveals all the fallacies of phallic flaccidity and rigidity, indubitably. But surely any peek into the past concerning the penis is going pass up a lot on this long and broad topic.

Chapter 3 is titled "The Measuring Stick" and takes up from the intersection of early science and the exploration of Africa. Many of the explorers who returned from Africa spoke of the huge size of the "Aethiopian Penis". Many had one in a jar in their medical museums. Combined with careless reading of some Bible passages, and later playing loose with Darwin's theories, this led to the conviction that white people were the superior people, and black people were more nearly animals. A large black penis was a punishment from God. Many scientific and religious papers were written on this subject. This leads to coverage of the period of slavery, and the fear the white master had of the black penis. Lynchings were often preceded by cutting off the offending penis and testicles, and sometimes by making the victim eat them before being hung. This section is quite horrific. Friedman continues the chapter with the more recent discussion of the penis of Clarence Thomas which he allegedly compared to "Long Dong Silver", and Thomas's comparison of the Senate hearing to a lynching. Then follows Robert Mapplethorpe's travails as a photographer of the black penis.

- David S. Hall, Ph.D.

This fear of a Black shaft is a disturbing reminder of the size the shadow of slavery that hangs over the south and seems to show the symbiosis of the preoccupation with all things large in states like Texas. It also highlights how appalling it is to be calling any body part impure. But these are the hoops one must leap through whilst wrangling with the contradictory dogmas of the Christian and Muslim religions.

The vicarage stood quite alone near Laufen castle, and there was a big meadow stretching back from sexton's farm. In the dream I was in this meadow. Suddenly I discovered a dark, rectangular, stone-lined hole in the ground. I had never seen it before. I ran forward curiously and peered down into it. Then I saw a stone stairway leading down. Hesitantly and fearfully, I descended. At the bottom was a doorway with a round arch, closed off by a green curtain. It was a big, heavy curtain of worked stuff like brocade, and it looked very sumptuous. Curious to see what might be hidden behind, I pushed it aside. I saw before me in the dim light a rectangular chamber about thirty feet long. The ceiling was arched and of hewn stone. The floor was laid with flagstones, and in the center a red carpet ran from the entrance to a low platform. On this platform stood a wonderfully rich golden throne. I am not certain, but perhaps a red cushion lay on the seat. It was a magnificent throne, a real king's throne in a fairy tale. Something was standing on it which I thought at first was a tree trunk twelve to fifteen feet high and about one and a half to two feet thick. It was a huge thing, reaching almost to the ceiling. But it was of a curious composition: it was made of skin and naked flesh, and on top there was something like a rounded head with no face and no hair. On the very top of the head was a single eye, gazing motionlessly upward.

It was fairly light in the room, although there were no windows and no apparent source of light. Above the head, however, was an aura of brightness. The thing did not move, yet I had the feeling that it might at any moment crawl off the throne like a worm and creep toward me. I was paralyzed with terror. At that moment I heard from outside and above me in my mother's voice. She called out, "Yes, just look at him. That is the man-eater!" That intensified my terror still more, and I awoke sweating and scared to death...

-C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (revised edition p11-12)

This dream that he later came to realize was about a ritual phallus. The message of the "man-eater" is woven into a childhood prayer and his fear of the black clad Jesuits.

Spread out thy wings, Lord Jesus mild,
And take to thee thy chick, thy child.
"If Satan would devour it,
No harm shall overpower it,"
So let the angels sing!

Jung came out of Western tradition, but he still appreciated Eastern views. He never limited himself in this sense, but it's clear that through history the rising Western problems with the penis are related to its perspective. It would almost seem that Westerners can't see the genitalia for the shaft.

Taoists regard sexual activity as being good for health if it leaves you feeling relaxed, refreshed, and elated, but bad if it leaves you feeling exhausted, weak, or frustrated. That means 'different strokes for different folks'. Despite it's enlightened attitude and scientific rationale, Taoist sexual yoga has over the ages often been accused of being a mere excuse for unbridled debauchery. And in fact there have always been, and still are, charlatans and deviants who invoke the Tao as a smokescreen for lechery. We should not be fooled by popular myths about sex, nor should we suppress this natural drive because of prudery or unpleasant experiences in the past. Instead, we should familiarize ourselves with the real facts of sex, ignore all the nonsense, then find a loving and understanding partner.

Properly practised, sex can be one of fastest, most effective, and most enjoyable ways to build up abundant supplies of potent hormone essence, boost energy, enhance immunity, and prolong life. Far from conflicting with spiritual values, sex can forge a strong foundation of essence and generate potent reserves of energy as a basis of progress on the higher paths of spiritual cultivation.

-Daniel Reid, The Complete Book of Chinese Health and Healing (p154-155)

The Magician wields his power through his wand, which is an extension of his creative will, which is his penis. But there is a natural naiveté in this solitary weenie waving. This is why so many are led astray when they let one head have its way. One example is Dave Sim, who has let his "male light" blind him into becoming a bitter old man. He is so caught up in his assault on the "feminist/homosexualist axis's" that he overlooks the flawed logic in condemning feminism for those practitioners that misinterpret its principles. He distorts and polarizes. The dualistic nature of light reveals through illumination and hides with shadow. We can't avoid this, but we should recognize it.

"I'm still waiting for a response which refutes my carefully developed argument in 'Tangent.'... It is my rational observations on why feminism doesn't and can't work and complete radio silence on the other side."

At first I thought that it's such a utter wreck of reason Tangent should remain as off as its title implies and not given the validity a full refutation would seem to give it. But then I thought it might be fun to pick on the guy's points and examine his "thought process." I spend the better part of the day doing this and at some point a friend interjects that no one sat down to refute Mein Kampf (ebay is a google sponsored link on the search for that book) either. I saw his point completely. Dave Sim is not even the misogynist equivalent of Hitler. He is, however, a man driven by his own ego to pursue his self-published dream to the end no matter what the cost. It doesn't matter how much his readership drops, because it only serves as a sign to validate his belief that the feminist/homosexualist axis's are consuming all culture.

The funny thing is no sooner did I realize the futility in refuting Tangent that my computer crashed and the majority of what I wrote went with it. The only surviving part was the beginning and it's probably all for the best. Here's a taste though:

c) feminism is no different from communism in that all of its literature is founded upon convoluted syntax, bafflegab and academic jargon which paints a false (albeit attractive) picture of an unattainable utopia which can be achieved - easily! - by everyone in the world simply and simultaneously (in both feminist and communist literature the "crux point" is invariable) changing their basic nature overnight. [So we are to believe that convoluted sentence construction and jargon invalidate feminism in the same way communism is invalidated. Of course, this requires us to accept that he has performed a complete reading of feminist literature and that the appearances of difficult to read and jargon-rich writing in most fields of which I can say programming books show ample evidence of does not dilute this claim completely.]

Anyone set so rigid on being straight is bound to have a psychotic break.

"Everything straight lies," murmured the dwarf disdainfully, "All truth is crooked, time itself is a circle."

- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

So I'm going to cut this short from what I expected to put out. I'm tired. I got a headache and I'm really not up to getting into this any deeper.

I would like to express my sympathies for those that look so hard to find the perfect penis only to discover it's attached to a prick. And it doesn't surprise me that a lack of reciprocity turns some women against oral interactions.

When people become confused, cut off and ultimately ashamed of a part of themselves they can behave pretty poorly. Compensation can be an ugly thing and it is not assisted by burgeoning standards of behavior that seem to provoke not so much a despondent response, but a backsliding; a tortoise-like retreat from the cold water of criticism.

At the National Marriage Project, we've been interviewing men for the past three years, so I have some sense of the men's side of this, though it's not central to the book.

And these men you talked to didn't express the feeling that they were sometimes being spurned because they weren't impressive enough?

Well some men did, yes, but they tended not to be four-year college graduates. They were guys who were not quite so well-educated and felt that many women looked down on them.

- Sage Stossel interviewing Barbara Dafoe Whitehead

And yet do our dreams mock this plight any more in the movies, music videos, and dating shows of today over the plays of yesterday?

Cleopatra: I dream'd there was an Emperor Antony.
O, such another sleep, that I might see
But such another man!

Dolabella: If it might please ye—

Cleopatra: His face was as the heavens; and therein stuck
A sun and moon, which kept their course, and lighted
The little O, the earth.

Dolabella: Most sovereign creature—

Cleopatra: His legs bestrid the ocean; his rear'd arm
Crested the world; his voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty
There was no winter in't; an autumn 'twas
That grew the more by reaping. His delights
Were dolphin-like; they show'd his back above
The element they lived in. In his livery
Walk'd crowns and crownets; realms and islands were
As plates dropp'd from his pocket.

Dolabella: Cleopatra!

Cleopatra: Think you there was, or might be, such a man
As this I dream'd off?

Dolabella: Gentle madam, no.

-Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, act 5, sc. 2

Before I put this post to rest. Here are two dreams I had this morning.

Dream 1

I was in a house of uncertain character. With me were two versions of myself. Both were younger and one was more so than the other.

I spotted a scorpion on the floor. It was very black and shiny - quite marvelous. My younger self wanted to kill it and my youngest self shared my own curiosity and admiration. I warned my younger self to not step on it, as he was about to do, but to fetch a broom and sweep it into this large zip-lock bag I happened to have.

No sooner had this been accomplished that I heard the youngest shriek. He had tried to pick up this enormous spider, but it had begun webbing his left arm. Already it was almost completely cocooned with his arm folded up; bicep to forearm. Only his fingers were free and squirming by his cheek. I quickly rushed over and brushed the spider into the bag.

While the younger was helping the youngest from his silky bonds I spotted a large ant studiously scurrying across the floor in my direction. I put the bag in his path and he dutifully made his way inside.

Dream 2

I was surveying a scene from a great distance on high. It was O'Hare Airport and I noticed it looked much different. A much larger portion was military and bright orange paint on the concrete in front of a large hanger read, "Hyper-Plane."

There was someone next to me sharing the view and I inquired to him about the Hyper-Plane. "Don't start," he replied as if I had attempted to open a container of well-rotted food and was about to stink up the place with its scent. I hastily added, " I only ask because I have not seen O'Hare in such a long time. I usually try to avoid the traffic by going to Midway." At this he smiled and said, "Same here. People have been doing that for a while." I beamed back a smile and we both turned back to the window.

Shine On You Crazy Chickenhawks!

04.13.2003

(Politics, History, Religion)

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I want you to hold this vision with me: all of the world leaders at the United Nations beginning their sessions with the Hokey Pokey. What if Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat put their whole selves in? That would be commitment. And then pulled their whole selves out. That is detachment. Then they turn themselves around, which is transformation. And that, my friends, is what it is all about!

- Swami Beyondananda, found on The Progressive Review

In the struggle against terrorism, tyranny, and tax breaks for the rich, many left leaning folks were forced into defending a position against war without a solid alternative. It's quite possible that the only way to deal with anachronistic nations is through force, but it denies the damning evidence that we have never made any serious effort to engage any rogue nation by any other means save violent. By that I mean, you can't have it both ways. You can't be peaceful diplomatically while the CIA is "operating in the field."

By not having it both ways I suggest an appeal to our alleged sanity in facing reality. Our direction may be fueled with the hubris of success against a regime now revealed to be so fragile that it was only held in place by a regular schedule of murder. If the many that died during the war ultimately outweigh the many potential deaths of a continued regime, the war can be justified by the pragmatists. But a sense of the limits of our power must be maintained or at least recognized. Also, we can't possibly expect faith in the reasons pounded into us about the war being a just response to tyranny when we support it in Kuwait, Saudi Arabi, Columbia, etc. and ignore it in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Cuba, and so many others. Even if your heart is filled with boundless love for our troops and unlimited confidence in their strength, we can't expect to maintain this foreign policy while our government is subject to possible change every 4 years and definite change every 8. As we sail boldly into this brave new world order, a superpower tacking politically won't do. I'm sure a bright GOP Senator is working on repealing presidential term limits as I type. If we are to raise all the sinking nation-ships, then we should be prepared to shed some of the democratic delusions we cling to.

Even though I don't share this political vision, I have to hand it to the Republicans for constructing such a magnificently Machiavellian method of metamorphosis via the military. Unencumbered with facing the domestic financial failures invading the news they are planing instead to invade Syria or maybe Iran. The Prince President should not be hindered by his past anymore than certain female golfers be hindered from trying to gain membership to the same club that claims Bill Gates as a member. It's not that Hootie Johnson blows, it's that who wants to belong to a club that would have him as a member? But who doesn't want to join the democratic club and a chance to compete for a GOP seat that could be close to Shrub? Maybe being next to his dad will do or even better; the father of you know who.

"It really is not a good world where the disparity that was illustrated here exists," he says, "and an element in that is the plain and simple fact that wealth is power." Democracy is at risk when the rich "can basically buy public policy."

- William H. Gates Sr. quoted by Bob Thompson in Sharing the Wealth? from the Washington Post

My own limited understanding of John Rawls's Theory of Justice prevents me from going into much detail, but from what I gather his approach to constructing a just society would be to have a group of people come together without individual distinctions of race, wealth, gender, religion, etc. They would try to construct a system that would be fair to all. The Estate Tax exists as a tool for balance in this sense. Justice Louis Brandeis is quoted in the Washington Post article claiming that we can have democracy or concentrated wealth in this country, but not both. Opponents of Affirmative Action in the admission of minorities into College ignore the Affirmative Action of the wealthy. The mechanism to achieve a more fair society is nearly necessarily unfair when taping the cliche of two wrongs making it right. It is a shadow of the moral question of whether imposing our military might to rush governmental change from tyrants to democracies in countries (where we can't be sure they can't change it themselves with our non-violent aid or that we will be successful in establishing a lasting democracy) is a justifiable means to a right end.

The demagoguery of the administration's assault on Islam (though Bush calls it a religion of peace, I doubt he is honest in that) is evidenced by the push for a war as the solution. Aside from how bad those countries were before Bush called them part of the "Axis of Evil" it's quite possible they got worse because of it. In a similar way, those that claim that fundamentalist Islamists cannot change their governments from the inside and can only understand force make their statements truer by uttering this assumption and by way of example through war after war. It's a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. A lie repeated becomes something else.

...Somewhat later in the book Michel finds himself willing to give grudging affection to a woman named Valérie who is soon afterward killed in a Muslim jihad raid on a beach resort. (The novel's first English translation was published in uncomfortably good time for the al Qaeda massacre of Australian holidaymakers in the pseudo-paradise of Bali.) Michel, who is badly hurt in the attack, thereupon permits himself the following reflection:

It is certainly possible to remain alive animated simply by a desire for vengeance; many people have lived that way. Islam had wrecked my life, and Islam was certainly something that I could hate. In the days that followed, I devoted myself to trying to feel hatred for Muslims. I was quite good at it, and I started to follow the international news again. Every time I heard that a Palestinian terrorist, or a Palestinian child or a pregnant Palestinian woman had been gunned down in the Gaza Strip, I felt a quiver of enthusiasm at the thought of one less Muslim in the world. Yes, it was possible to live like this.

As in The Satanic Verses, the thoughts are those of a person who is recovering from grave physical and mental damage. They are immediately retracted on the following page, where, after spending time talking with a Jordanian, Michel is struck by a "simple thought" that is "sufficient to dispel my hatred."

The "thought," as it happens, is that Western capitalism will erode the Muslim world by means of innovation, temptation, and corruption, and that the long-term victory of materialism over fanaticism is inevitable...

-Christopher Hitchens, Holy Writ

Hitchens is talking about Michel Houellebecq's Platform and the conclusion of a "victory of materialism over fanaticism" seems like trading one mad idea for a bad one. More interesting is the recognition of those simple and instant thoughts that flash into our minds automatically based upon our individual preferences and prejudices both conscious and unconscious. As intelligent, educated, liberal (in the original sense) thinkers we assume that we just as quickly dismiss these thoughts and that only lesser intellects mistake these things as what "we really think."

I have a confession: I have at times, as the war has unfolded, secretly wished for things to go wrong. Wished for the Iraqis to be more nationalistic, to resist longer. Wished for the Arab world to rise up in rage. Wished for all the things we feared would happen. I'm not alone: A number of serious, intelligent, morally sensitive people who oppose the war have told me they have had identical feelings.

-Gary Kamiya, Liberation Day

Kamiya's honesty betrays more than fleeting thoughts; which is likely why he felt the need to confess. Hitchens brings another author, the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, into light. In her book, The Rage and the Pride, she freely indulges in vaguely coherent racism akin to the warblogger's regular rants during their "Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!" world tour.

The fad or rather the hypocrisy, the shit, that calls "local tradition" the infibulation. I mean the bestial practice by which, in order to prevent them from enjoying sex, Moslems cut young girls' clitoris and sew up the large lips of the vulvas. All that remains is a tiny opening through which the poor creatures urinate, and imagine the torment of a defloration ... thank God I never had any sentimental or sexual or friendly rapport with an Arab man. In my opinion there is something in his brothers of faith which repels the women of good taste.

Let's say this War for Democracy Road Tour works. Let's think about the long term repercussions of spreading democracy through force. Let's skip over the environmental and health issues and address the fact that a more peaceful world doesn't need a sole superpower policing it quite as much. This could result in a number of our creditors asking to be repaid. Where will this money come from? Will they be so grateful for peace as to not tackle the only threat to it - a major military power?

Hell, I don't know. It's possible that we are trapped in an endless loop; playing out different historical themes, but forever stuck on that same old song.

"Why, you keep thinking of our present earth! But our present earth may have been repeated a billion times. Why, it's become extinct, been frozen; cracked, broken to bits, disintegrated into its elements, again 'the water above the firmament', then again a comet, again a sun, again from the sun it becomes earth -- and the same sequence may have been repeated endlessly, and exactly the same to every detail, most unseemly and insufferably tedious..."

-Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

As the keepers of the current historical cycle, we are strange shadows of past failures. In once case, in Alaska, in a town called Chicken, it is said (not without some controversy) that the place came to it's name because the miners wanted to name it after their state bird, the Ptarmigan, but they could not agree on how to spell it and so Chicken it was. In the second case, Ethel the Blog points to Bill Bonner who writes:

Last week, we wrote to express our disappointment in George W. Bush. Today, we write to express our admiration. We now see more clearly the genius of the Bush Administration's hawks: threaten your enemy with war if he fails to disarm...send inspectors to make sure he has disarmed...and then attack him because the weapons inspectors failed to turn up anything.

The tactic was worthy of the ancient Romans. No one likes to be the first one to attack; the gods of war do not favor an aggressor. But if you must attack first, you usually try to find a good reason...or pretext...for taking action.

"The Romans would send over the sacred chicken," my friend Michel explained a few weeks ago. "They would send a chicken to the barbarian tribes as a 'peace gesture'. Of course, the barbarians - not realizing the chicken was sacred - would eat it. Then, the Romans felt they were justified in going to war - because their enemies had eaten the sacred chicken!"

Now with 15% more Sarcasm!

04.11.2003

(Sarcasm, Plagiarism, Irony, Poetry)

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Plagiarize,
Let no work evade your eyes,
So you don't shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize-
Only be sure always to call it please "research."

-Tom Lehrer, Lobachevsky

The agony of plagiary that made Sean-Paul an A-List-to-be has segued into irony.

Oh, the things that fly over one's head when ignoring subtext in what is read.

'Intellectual Property is Theft', a term whose subtlety has apparently soared over your head, used to be part of the header graphic on my site; there's a more timely slogan there now.

As near as I can tell it never once appeared on Agonist:

cf. Google

Good work, Esmay!

Posted by Dean Allen at April 9, 2003 08:24 AM

Dean Esmay has this to say with my comments enclosed [this way]:

Mr. Allen's reasoning appears to be as follows:

1) If he originated a phrase, no one else has ever used it,
[Whoosh! Going, Going, Gone! Right over his head!]
2) If Google doesn't find something on a page, that means it was never on that page,
[Because intense research is necessary in pursuit of this joke!]
3) That I have confused Sean-Paul Kelley, whose site I have been frequenting for more than six months, with his own site, which I have never visited until just this week, and which does not (that I can see) even have this phrase on its main page,
[I know how confusing the phrase "used to be" can be!]
4) That he originated a phrase which I have heard variations of in many times and places, having worked in Open Source software development,
[In case it wasn't clear before that he didn't get it.]
5) That I am joining in on a "dogpile" against Sean-Paul even though I have, in fact, tried to defend him.
[(in my best Yoda voice) Oh, but you will be, you will be.]
...
I see on Mr. Allen's site that he is now demanding an apology. Very well, Mr. Allen: I'm sorry you're such a silly little Baby Marxist.
[Astounding! A Baby Marxist pursuing such a capitalistic notion of idea theft even if in jest!]
Posted by Dean Esmay at April 9, 2003 11:09 AM

Poor Dean Esmay is brought to retread again and again to prove his prowess in snarky sarcasm for the remainder of the thread (while his readers reveal their herd-think zeal) and in another whole post he beats the horse dead.

But, the thing is, you DID wander blindly past some pretty obvious sarcasm.

Now you're like Boothe jumping from the theater balcony a second time, to show he "meant" to do it.

Not going very well for you, this.

Posted by Edwin Anderton at April 10, 2003 02:21 AM

Oh, Esmay have no fear for here in defense comes Andrea quite dear!

Boy, you people don't give up, do you? Shut up, Edwin. Why should we listen to someone who can't even spell "Anderson"? (There -- that's an example the sort of preadolescent "sarcasm" Mr. Allen was engaging in. It's no wonder an adult missed it -- grown-ups don't usually pay attention to such pulings.)

As for Mr. Allen, he's going in my Dave Winer Idiot Web Savant list.

All for the faked desire to be linked for writing an idea in a way succinct. These cognitive cretins spew and spasm about someone's use of sarcasm. With self-righteous fury their thoughts in yoke until finally one tells a good joke.

It reminded me of a story I think I read once in the Reader's Digest (remember them?) Anyway an English professor is giving a lecture and points out that, in English grammer, a double negative denotes a postive. However a double positive does not denote a negative, to which one of his students replied, "Yeah, right."

Posted by Ara Rubyan at April 11, 2003 08:29 AM

What is a fugue?

04.10.2003

(Politics, War, Parody, Psychiatry, Poetry, Comics)

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Fugue n. 1. A musical form or composition designed for a definite number of instruments or voices in which a subject is announced in one voice and then developed contrapuntally in strict order by each of the other voices 2.Psychiatry a state of psychological amnesia during which the subject seems to behave in a conscious and rational way, although upon return to normal consciousness he cannot remember the period of time nor what he did during the temporary flight from reality

-Webster's New World Dictionary, 2nd college edition

cþ–< What do you mean it sucks? It's a great idea! Text comics. The ultimate in low bandwidth and yet it still relies on more artistic skill than say...using clipart.

o()< ASCII art is so 80's. Besides do you really think you're gonna get your humor on?

cþ–< I'm just following the natural trend here. We've gone from the simplicity of the Simpsons to the cutout quality of South Park to clip-art here on the internet. I am merely making the next step. Think of it Bob, this is the perfect format for cellphones. Our portability is unstoppable!
"Speaking of the WMD, If they do not find or plant some soon, that means the gamble did not pay off and the preemptive strike becomes a war of aggression does it not?" -thirteen
Live from the White House, it's our main man, Our head honcho, the big cheese himself, George Walker Bush!

Thank you. Many of you have watched as the Iraqi people cheered our coalition forces for liberating Baghdad and ending Saddam's hold on Iraq. But I must remind you that the job is far from finished. The weapons of mass destruction appear to have been moved into another country. So as we sow the seeds of democracy in Iraq we must take a careful look about the region until these weapons have been found.

Still, this is a time for celebration. A great battle is nearly over in the war against terra. So tonight I'd like to do my own rendition of a song by Barry Mann, Who Put the Bomb.

I'd like to find the guy who bought the bomb
That made my Army have to cross the sea

Who put the bomb
In the 'raq I 'raq I 'raq
Who put the SAM
In the Irana llama wahab wong

Who put the DU
In the am shell am shell am
Who put the wham
In the ham as ham as ham

Who was that man, I'd like to bomb his land
He made my Jebby make me 43. YEAH!

When my Jebby heard
Chad cha cha Chad
Cha chad cha chad cha
Every vote went Right to 'dere part

And when I heard hawks singin'
Osama bin lama lama
Laden wahab wong
They said the bombing have'ta start

Who put the bomb
In the 'raq I 'raq I 'raq
Who put the SAM
In the Irana llama wahab wong

Who put the DU
In the am shell am shell am
Who put the wham
In the ham as ham as ham

Who was that man, I'd like to bomb his land
He made my Jebby make me 43. YEAH!

Each war we'd go alone
Wolfwity wolfwity wolfwity
Wolfwity wolfwity wolfwity witz
Wants all terra to go

And every time we glance to
Ham as ham as ham
Ham as ham as ham
He always says he loves Israel so

So who put the stomp
In this romp ra romp ra romp
Who put the plan
In the Irana llama wahab wong

Who put the DU
In the De ser De ser De
Who put the 'thrax
In the post off post off post

Who was that man, I'd like to bomb his land
He made my Jebby make me 43. YEAH!

Terra-ists, Bomb bah bah bomb, bah bomb bah bomb bomb
And my Saudi, scama alla wah hab forever
And when I say, DU safe DU safe DU safe DU
You know I fully studied and mean it without any deceptity deceptity deceptity shun

Ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh
Ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh...ooh
I don't understand how the fall of Baghdad equals proof of anti-war demonstrators being wrong, ignorant, unpatriotic or pro-Saddam. It's kind of weird that instead of being happy that a dictator has fallen, many seem happy that events "proved" that their political ideas were somehow correct. I am happy that Baghdad fell, even though I am against the idea of this war. Why? If we're going to fight this war we might as well "win," whatever that means. I'd like to see this conflict end as soon as possible.

And guess what? The fall of Baghdad proves nothing. The proof will be and can only be in the peace that will hopefully follow. Now the US has a chance to prove that Iraq had WMD, that Iraq was a growing threat. They now have a chance to prove that the US believes in an Iraqi democracy, even if that democracy chooses a path the US doesn't want. Now is a chance to prove that we didn't just fight a war to take control of oil and other resources to enrich the Bush cabal. Now is a chance to bring stability to the region by working in partnership with other governments.

It seems many are cheering about the US victory when the only real victory is a stable and peaceful middle-east. The cheering is premature and the middle east is a long way from being stabilized. elwoodwiles
cþ–< Why doesn't Luciano Pavarotti and Bono do a show for the troops in Iraq? Don't they support the troops?

o()< They did such a good job that there's no time for a USO show. I guess they don't they know the old saying "Work smart not hard."

cþ–< Maybe they were trying to keep it under budget?

*† Step aside I'm hunting PP's huwahahaha!

o()< OMG! It's Kurt Vonnegut's anus and it's got a knife!

*† Don't call it a regime change. I'm just going to cut a PP down to size.

cþ–< Wait a minute! That's not Kurt's! It's Jim Carrey's anus acting!

¤† Alrighty then! It's just so hard get roles when Jim Carrey's Anus isn't listed in the credits of Pet Detective. We just don't see eye to eye anymore.

o()< I say we kick this anus.
This war divided the Arabs into two categories.

The first pretended that the war was a battle of sovereignty, dignity and conspiracy. The other remained silent, especially the Iraqis themselves.

They are exiled or oppressed within the country. The latter knew that it was a war of liberation, or at least a war to dispose of a corrupt regime the same way it came to power — by force.

-Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid, editor of Arabnews

...Or perhaps it suggests that much of the world is too racist to believe that Arabs are capable of democracy, and that the status quo is better than the unknown.

You know, it's one thing to be unsure where you stand; it's another to actively oppose some action. Which is why Germany and France were so contemptiable at the UN: they didn't merely abstain from voting yes; they actively were voting NO, as if the last 12 years, indeed the 1979-2003 regime of Saddam had not yet provided enough evidence that, all other things having been tried, it was time for war
...
Now is a chance to bring stability to the region by working in partnership with other governments. Assuming they're genuinely interested. One thing which is magnificent about the Bush adminstration is they have the balls to ignore or not appease horrible people such as Arafat, Assad, KDG, etc. - ParisParamus
They came and cut it out of me
That organ of discontent
They held it up and let me see
That flesh where anger went
They demanded praise since I'm free
That I observe a special Lent
They made me fast for eternity
That I made sure my money's spent
They service my humility
Too true! - and I'm glad to see the administration taking such a strong stance on the Saudis. You know, the (majority of the) 9/11 hijackers, the folks who throw around far more money on nervously trying to appease the fundamentalist, terrorist-funding contingents of their own population than Saddam. Oh, sorry, nevermind. -jalexei
War is a tragedy for some and a boon for others. I asked Mr. Shultz if the fact that he was an advocate of the war while sitting on the board of a company that would benefit from it left him concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest.

"I don't know that Bechtel would particularly benefit from it," he said. "But if there's work that's needed to be done, Bechtel is the type of company that could do it. But nobody looks at it as something you benefit from."
...
Most Americans have never heard of the Defense Policy Group. Its meetings are classified. The members disclose their business interests to the Pentagon, but that information is not available to the public

The Center for Public Integrity, a private watchdog group in Washington, recently disclosed that of the 30 members of the board, at least 9 are linked to companies that have won more than $76 billion in defense contracts in 2001 and 2002.

-Bob Herbert, Spoils of War

We each see things NOT as They are but rather as WE Are. -Postroad
Officially, the crime is classified as theft of Transit Authority property. But among transit police officers it is more accurately and less delicately known as token sucking. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it is exactly what it sounds like.

The criminal carefully jams the token slot with a matchbook or a gum wrapper and waits for a would-be rider to plunk a token down. The token plunker bangs against the locked turnstile and walks away in frustration. Then from the shadows, the token sucker appears like a vampire, quickly sealing his lips over the token slot, inhaling powerfully and producing his prize: a $1.50 token, hard earned and obviously badly needed.

Even among officers who had seen it all, it was widely considered the most disgusting nonviolent crime ever to visit the subway.

- Randy Kennedy, A Disgusting Practice Vanishes With the Token

Don't Ask Don't Tell
Coalition Forces: Don't Ask, Don't Tell
How can a man help feeling nauseated when he gets that felt into his mouth after over a hundred men have sucked and knawed on it while dying?

-Franz Kafka, In the Penal Colony

Deep within the finest Bunker oil can buy, a troubled Saddam Hussein attempts to relax in his specially designed torture chamber, but something is amiss. It's not just that his regime is lost...

Saddam Hussein sings his version of a Righteous Brothers song. It's Saddam's You've Lost All Sense of Feeling.

You never close your eyes anymore since I cut off your lids
And there's no sign of stress right before I slash at your ribs
I win elections I know it Ba'athy!
But maybe, maybe I'd throw it...

You've lost that sense O feelin'
Whoa, that sense O feelin'
You've lost that sense O feelin'
Now it's gone...gone...gone...Wooahooooh

Now there's no fearful look in your eyes when I reach for you.
And son you're starting to criticize tortures I do
It makes me long to hear crying, Iraqi!
'Cause maybe, my evil regime is dyin'

You've lost that sense O feelin'
Whoa, that sense O feelin'
You've lost that sense O feelin'
Now it's gone...gone...gone...Wooahooooh

Maybe, Maybe I'd cut you down to your knees one, two
If you would only scream at me like you used to do, yeah
I had a victim, a victim, a victim you don't find everyday.
So don't, don't, don't, don't let sense slip away.

Victim victim, victim victim,
Please beg me please please please, please
I need your pain, I need your pain, I need your pain, I need your pain
So bring your sense back, So bring your sense back
So bring your sense back, So bring your sense back

Bring back that sense O feelin'
Whoa that sense O feelin'
Bring back that sense O feelin'
'Cause it's gone, gone, gone,
And I can't go on,
Woh oh oh oh
''One good thing about Saddam is that he kept law and order,'' said Faheed Ahmed, a chemistry teacher at Al Quds high school. ''Regardless if we like Saddam Hussein or not, we don't appreciate the foreign army coming into our country and letting people destroy our public resources.''

In other parts of the city, hundreds of people poured into the streets to welcome the British soldiers, who joked with civilians. The Associated Press quoted one man as saying: ''Saddam destroyed everything. He destroyed the water. He destroyed the people. The people of Basra are very happy today.''

-Thanassis Cambanis, Iraqis in Basra weigh freedom's cost

cþ–< You can't please some of the people all of the time.

o()< It's much better when you have your own army destroying your resources. The fire is friendlier that way.

cþ–< It's amazing how quickly the Iraqi people have taken to the American tradition of celebratory looting!

o()< What if they never find Saddam's bunker and he comes out 20 years later like that Brenden Fraser movie, Blast from the Past.

cþ–< Oh yeah! And instead of getting rich selling old baseball cards he'll have all these WMDs!

o()< YES! But who will play his love interest?

o()< cþ–< SATAN!

The United Sponsors of America

04.09.2003

(Politics, Advertising, Parody, Poetry, Begging)

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Question: Which hits the ground first: A bullet dropped or a bullet fired? (Provided you are not using special CIA magic bullets!)

Answer: Depending on the speed of the bullet and that it could travel far enough without hitting an obstacle, the bullet fired would fall last due to the curvature of the Earth.

I'm starting to think that in the future advertising will come at us wirelessly through implants. The cellphones already are nearly glued to so many ears for so many hours a day that an implant will be a practical solution. No more missed calls and the battery will never run out. Your nervous system can provide the juice.

In the future, it will come from the best intentions and we will be able to find a way to grant the psychotic sympathy, empathy, and conscience v3.4BETA. Training starts with movies. The soundtrack is joined by the emotiontrack. We'll make sure you cry when in the right spots while watching Bambi and laugh at the right spots when watching Full Metal Jacket. We will have the technology. Trust those dealing in such matters to not abuse their position.

The job of the hippocampus appears to be to "encode" experiences so they can be stored as long-term memories elsewhere in the brain. "If you lose your hippocampus you only lose the ability to store new memories," says Berger. That offers a relatively simple and safe way to test the device: if someone with the prosthesis regains the ability to store new memories, then it's safe to assume it works.

We don't know exactly how the hippocampus works. With reverse engineering and numerous trials can a correct artificial hippocampus be created? There may be no way to distinguish between a somewhat working replacement and a perfectly working replacement. Is time on our side? Once the research leaves the rats and finds it way to humans, "If someone can't form new memories, then to what extent can they give consent to have this implant?" Trust again those Men.

I'm sure that most Americans would say they want to be talked to as thinking people, but the evidence is clear that in fact we tend to be very susceptible to being sold stuff. And one of the things that's alarmed me the most as I've studied advertising over all these years, is the extent to which our political system has really been hijacked by the advertisers. That it's all about advertising, commercials, spin, hype, and not at all, really, about the issues anymore. But it's very difficult to get people to really see that and understand it.

- Jean Kilbourne

But who needs implants when people stop thinking. OK, maybe we won't stop thinking. Maybe we'll stop caring. We can't change things. They get worse naturally. We've all read that things fall apart. Anyway, it's rude to get all uppity in a theater just because they play a few commercials for products among the commercials for more movies and never mind the commercials incorporated into the movies. The logo litter lit up on the big screen with the stars interacting with products instead of props will start to feel natural if you just let go. We are the Next Generation Consumer and we don't need intermissions anymore as we watch Hobbits hug and Dwarves toss. Just don't drink too much like Tycho Brahe - who may have died waiting in line to go to the bathroom at a party when his bladder ruptured. Perhaps his Dwarf jester was there entertaining and was by his side to pick up the prosthetic nose that may have fallen off when Tycho collapsed of too much drink and not enough wizz. Maybe his last word was the name of his pet Elk that died after going downstairs drunk.

The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.

The United States Flag Code

Advertising is spreading like a weed, replacing the idea of want with need. They are selling us the fantasy that we can be like them; the stars, the models, the fat cats, and the rapping studs.

...it's because an extraordinary number of Americans identify with the rich, and believe that they're going to end up wealthy even though they aren't wealthy now and there's no reason to believe they ever will be. ...there have been surveys that indicated that about 40 percent of Americans actually believe that they're going to be wealthy. So therefore when Bush does something like get rid of the estate tax...other people think, "Oh well, that'll help me when I make my millions of dollars and that will be good for my heirs," although that will never happen.

- Jean Kilbourne

If you can buy happiness, and buy in to the idea that It could happen to you, then maybe you really are supporting the troops by getting a Hummer. I've seen stretch-limo Hummers and I know it's because the longer the Hummer, the better. There's innuendo oozing out of this as much as opportunities for satire. I'm a Simpsons fan so I'm going to try parody.

Humma Humvee

Is there no clutch 'cause it gets in your way?
If I said I like stick, would I be gay?
I'm a man without good suspension
I'm a man never off-road
Your tires explode
Your tires explode

Humma Humma Humma Humma Humma Humvee
Your tires explode
Your tires explode
Pentagonal rim nuts
Fulfill my Darwinian views
Red, white and blue
Red, white and blue

Don't care how much gas I burn every day
Silly commie it's the American way
Love of size our sweet addiction
When we drive you hear this song
Blasting on the Monsoon system
You sing along
You sing along

Humma Humma Humma Humma Humma Humvee
Your tires explode
Your tires explode
Pentagonal rim nuts
Fulfill my Darwinian views
Red, white and blue
Red, white and blue

Every option is so vital
You just roll over your rival
Every option is so vital
You just roll over your rival

I'm a man without good suspension
I'm a man never off-road
Now I live a contradiction
Your tires explode
Your tires explode

Humma Humma Humma Humma Humma Humvee
Your tires explode
Your tires explode
Pentagonal rim nuts
Fulfill my Darwinian views
Red, white and blue
Red, white and blue

Here's Some source materials for you.

a still from the Madonna video she chickened out in showing
American Life
American life
I live the american dream
You are the best thing I've seen,
You are not just a dream

I tried to be a boy,
I tried to be a girl
I tried to be a mess,
I tried to be the best
I tried to find a friend,
I tried to stay ahead
I tried to stay on top...

Fuck it...
Do I have to change my name?
Will it get me far?
Should I lose some weight?
Am I gonna be a star?

I'm drinking a Soy latte
I get a double shot
It goes right through my body
And you know
I'm satisfied,
I drive my mini cooper
And I'm feeling super-dooper
Yo they tell I'm a trooper
And you know I'm satisfied
I do yoga and pilates
And the room is full of hotties
So I'm checking out the bodies
And you know I'm satisfied
I'm digging on the isotopes
This metaphysic's shit is dope
And if all this can give me hope
You know I'm satisfied
I got a lawyer and a manager
An agent and a chef
Three nannies, an assistant
And a driver and a jet
A trainer and a butler
And a bodyguard or five
A gardener and a stylist
Do you think I'm satisfied?
I'd like to express my extreme point of view
I'm not Christian and I'm not a Jew
I'm just living out the American dream
And I just realized that nothing Is what it seems
Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our lives whether in the sphere of politics or business in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.

- Edward L. Bernays, "the father of American propaganda"

Shall we be comfortable with our consummate culture in regards to consumption as long as we know what it is believed we should know and nothing more? Shall we ease into this forever war? Does it fit the American Dream? Is the American Dream on the block? If not, what isn't? What if we want to remain comfortable and the media accommodates our delicate sensibilities in fear of our annoyance with touchy-feely do-gooders?

The influential television-news consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates recently put it in even starker terms: Covering war protests may be harmful to a station's bottom line.

How can so few see the enormity of what it means to push for such conformity? The more we stifle the voices of doubt, the more we erode what we're about. And it's not just that everything's for sale and that the government can put anyone in jail. It's not just that so many businesses went bust and I'm so unnerved by our newfound bloodlust.

It's that I worry what lies in this war's wake.
I struggle to read news that isn't fake.
I wonder which dominos will fall for each mistake
And what we're willing to sacrifice for safety's sake.

It makes for poor dreams at night.
It makes for second-guessing my own sight.
It makes me question my own notion of right
And I know the center no longer holds tight.

So I'm working hard on a new theory
That tries to answer the constant query
Of how to support the strong and weary.
So I might illuminate minds so dreary.


You may have noticed the paypal donation button on the front page. Yup. I got the bad news from the dentist. I guess avoiding him for a couple of years while drinking large amounts of acidic, carbonated softdrinks was a bad idea. I figure it couldn't hurt to ask for help in a world already full of beggers. Additional donations may go to sending my cat through college and/or renewing my domain and getting more of them for additional web projects like a separate site for the Temple of Pong (sadly in limbo). Please save me from stealing a webcam and posting pictures of my man-tits for hits. You are really saving yourself in that respect. Unless you really....nah.

PS I wasn't able to see Real Time. I thought I recorded it, but the VCR was set to the wrong channel. I'm thinking the Real Time Report has outlived its usefulness anyway. So unless someone convinces me otherwise, you won't see me rip on Larry Miller, etcetera anymore.

Constitution in Crisis

04.07.2003

(Politics, Freedom, Parody, Poetry)

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Now watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, liberal, fanatical, criminal.
Won't you sign up your name, we'd like to feel you're acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable!

At night, when all the world's asleep,
the questions run so deep
for such a simple man.
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
but please tell me who I am.

- Supertramp, The Logical Song

If Patriot Act I wasn't enough to make you mad, Patriot Act II wants to be as bad. Weren't we paying our taxes so these guys could defend the Constitution? Almost $400 billion on defense and they think less rights is still part of the solution?

-The Associated Press

So now we have Patriot II Draft Legislation on the table. What kind of fun stuff is in store for us? How much are we going to have to trust that everyone in our government would never abuse any of these new powers? Let's see how well it protects the Bill of Rights.

Section 103: Strengthening Wartime Authorities Under FISA.

Under 50 U.S.C. §§ 1811, 1829 & 1844, the Attorney General may authorize, without the prior approval of the FISA Court, electronic surveillance, physical searches, or the use of pen registers for a period of 15 days following a congressional declaration of war. This wartime exception is unnecessarily narrow; it may be invoked only when Congress formally has declared war, a rare event in the nation's history and something that has not occurred in more than sixty years. This provision would expand FISA's wartime exception by allowing the wartime exception to be invoked after Congress authorizes the use of military force, or after the United States has suffered an attack creating an national emergency.

There goes that pesky 4th Amendment. There's more, of course, but here's one that caught my eye:

Section 402: Providing Material Support to Terrorism.

...In particular, "training" would now be defined as "instruction or teaching designed to impart a specific skill." And criminal liability for "personnel" would apply to "knowingly provid[ing], attempt[ing] to provide, or conspir[ing] to provide a terrorist organization with one or more individuals (including himself) to work in concert with it or under its direction or control."

I guess that the School of the Americas is safe because their students probably only join terrorist organizations after graduation. I'm not so sure how retroactive this is and whether it's going to be applied to the CIA folks that trained the Muhajadeen in Afghanistan. Oh yeah, that's right, they were freedom fighters then. My bad!

Section 404: Use of Encryption to Conceal Criminal Activity.

In recent years, terrorists and other criminals have begun to use encryption technology to conceal their communications when planning and conducting criminal activity. Title 18 of the United States Code currently contains no prohibition on the use of encrypted communications to plan or facilitate crimes. This proposal would amend federal law to provide that any person who, during the commission of or the attempt to commit a federal felony, knowingly and willfully uses encryption technology to conceal any incriminating communication or information relating to that felony, be imprisoned for an additional period of not fewer than 5 years. These additional penalties are warranted to deter the use of encryption technology to conceal criminal activity. In addition, it does not address the issue of whether software companies and internet service providers should give law enforcement access to "keys" for the purposes of decoding intercepted communications.

This one just has the sense of piling it on. Is it the first step on the road to make encryption criminal? Anyway, this one with pads the sentence of any white-collar corporate crime that involves encrypted email, etc. Tell me this one can affect those Enron crooks please!

Section 410: No Statute of Limitations for Terrorism Crimes.

Who is going to be left in the CIA after this passes? And what about those people that trained the Los pepes folks?

Section 421: Increased Penalties for Terrorism Financing.

Follow the bouncing logic ball: US companies like the one Cheney is still getting million a year from did business with Saddam's Iraq. Saddam's Iraq according to the administration is a supporter of terrorist and/or a terrorist state. By doing business with them these corporations funded terrorism. Start collecting the fines!

I rather die on my feet than live on my knees. I think I'm just going to have to vote Democrat in 2004 no matter what monkey they decide to run. I hear ya. Until then the Constitution is in Crisis.

USA flag shown in distress

What did they die for, if for not freedom?

All our freedoms are a single bundle, all must be secure if any is to be preserved

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

American Rights

A long, Long time ago, I can still remember how those rights used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could mend things with France
And maybe they'd be happy for a while,
But September made me shiver
With every paper I delivered,
Bad news on the door step,
I couldn't take one more step.
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about our wounded pride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day freedom died. So...

Bye, bye to American Rights.
Drove by hate to a Police State
Too late for oversight
Them good 'ol boys drinkin night after night
Singing this will be the day that I fight,
This will be the day that I fight.

Did you write the book of Laws
And do you have faith despite its flaws,
If Ashcroft tells you so?
And do believe in "Let's roll!"
Can the military save your mortal soul?
Can tell me why our rights must go?
And can you teach me to kill real slow?
Well I know that you are after him
Cuz I saw him flash his evil grin
You both started terror schools
You dig fighting with no rules.
I was a lonely IT working drone
With PDA and a mobile phone
But knew I was out on my own
The day our freedom died. I started singin...

[chorus]

Now for over ten years we've been at his throat
And he murders people so for him they vote
But that's not how it used to be
When Rumsfeld shook hands with Hussein
To sell weapons to a man so insane
From taxes paid by you and me
And when the Dictator gassed his people down
Those men never made a sound
Moral outrage was adjourned,
No Senator seemed concerned
And while Bush read a plan by Wolfowitz
The hawks cried, "Let's Blitz!"
And we came out in fits
The day freedom died. We were singin...

[Chorus]

Helter Skelter in a Desert swelter
The doves no longer found shelter
The poet began her fast
It's the laws that falled freedom if they past
The patriots thought the law wouldn't last
With a 2005 limit within it cast
Now the half-life of DU we presume
Made the air and water safe to consume
We all got up to fight
We had the advantage at night
As the patriots tried to take Baghdad
The guards fought with what little they had
Do you recall when things went bad
The day freedom died? We started singin...

[chorus]

Oh and we were all for each race
To settle freely about the place
With no crime brought to a friend
So come on Iraq be simple, Iraq be quick
Iraqi clash cuts terror off at the wick
Because Osama is their only friend
Oh and as I watched him in his cave
A madmen none should ever save
No justice that those Towers fell
A scene seen straight from hell
And as planes were grounded from flight
Until it was thought things were all right
I saw terrorists laughing with delight
The day freedom died. They were singin...

[chorus]

I see a world that sings the blues
And I strain to find some happy news
But things gets worse I'm sad to say
I went down to the Senate floor
Where I heard freedom rang before
But the Men there said freedom wasn't safe anymore
And in the streets no children screamed
No lovers cried
No poets dreamed
The silence went unbroken
Red alert had our rights revokin'
And the Bill of Rights we admire most
Caught a spark and soon was toast.
The Day Freedom Died and they were singin...

[chorus]

With all apologies to Don McClean.

Indignation boils my blood at the thought of the heritage we are throwing away; at the thought that, with few exceptions, the fight for freedom is left to the poor, forlorn and defenseless, and to the few radicals and revolutionaries who would make use of liberty to destroy, rather than to maintain, American institutions...

-Arthur Garfield Hays (1881-1955)

An Ode to the Poor

Grow up and out of your views
Haven't you read the news?
Protest has gone out of style
Non-commercial views are vile!

You just wait though for what's in store.
A new state oh! Founded by the poor.

What? Can't you see? You need glasses?
You think it's either race, religion, or classes?

The poor are strong, work all day long.
They'll piss in your cup and still smoke their bong.

The poor are quick, they burn that wick.
They drink tap water and they don't get sick.

The poor are smart, but you can't tell them apart.
The poor have boobs and balls.
They watch tubes and tear down walls.

The poor take what they can get.
They're hungry and can taste you yet.

To fight for what is right
Is to not inflict war on the poor.

Cherish the Critic

04.05.2003

(Personal, Politics, Patriotism)

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The Republicans have tried to make a practice of attacking anybody who speaks out strongly by questioning their patriotism. I refuse to have my patriotism or right to speak out questioned. I fought for and earned the right to express my views in this country ... If they want to pick a fight, they've picked a fight with the wrong guy ... I watched what they did to Max Cleland last year. Shame on them for doing it then and shame on them for trying to do it now.

- John Kerry

The more the Republicans attack criticism of Bush, the more desperate they sound. When John Edwards was asked what his favorite book was and he said it was I.F. Stone's The Trial of Socrates, Bob Novak of CNN drooled venomously, "That's incredible! Did Senator Edwards know that Izzy Stone was a lifelong Soviet apologist? Did he know of evidence that Stone received secret payments from the Kremlin?" It finds it way online too. They can't attack the ideas so they go for the person.

I'm no fair weather war fan. It doesn't make anything better just because we got folks in the field or that they are going to topple Saddam. It is moot to argue that we should have explored more options and developed strategies outside of all out war. We are supposed to be full of American ingenuity. I'm sure something could have been invented had the proper balance of voices been heard, but it appears that Rumsfeld would not stand for anything short of war and I can only assume that he had the full support of Bush to proceed in such a manner, otherwise Bush would seem completely incompetent.

So even as we roll into Baghdad there are still many questions left unanswered as to what happens when the city falls. Even more serious is how long we can maintain much of anything with the current state of the economy. I'm not saying that we should pullout. I think that would be disastrous at this point.

The most important point is that doubt is the one thing Bush lacks, but along with his simplicity it's something a lot of Americans find refreshing. Granted these are nice traits to be found in your action heroes like Vin Diesal, but coming from someone that wields the largest military force on the planet I find it frightening. I suspect a large percent of people that voted for him weren't just towing the party line, but they found Bush's close association with his Id and a general frustration with the complexities inherent in life something they could relate to. While playing lip service to the Politically Correct crowd his actions routinely contradict his words and his speeches to foreign nations are filled with demands and nigh impossible requests of their people. There is no bridge building. There are only lines drawn and positions made unmoveable. This appeals to an American audience that prefers a put up or shut up approach to foreign affairs. It's the way of the bully with the force of the gun.

Bush panders to our lesser qualities as surely as Hollywood does nine times out of ten. It's what sells. It's the Wall-Martization of America. It's cheap goods at any cost. We are seeing it at every level in society now to the point where most people can't accept anything more. Cheap patriotism, the flag waving, ribbon wearing, Lee Greenwood singing variety want to bruise the nose and at times kill the patriot of doubt.

With all of this talk of impending war, many of us will encounter "Peace Activists" who will try and convince us that we must refrain from retaliating against the ones who terrorized us all on September 11, 2001, and those who support terror. These activists may be alone or in a gathering... most of us don't know how to react to them. When you come upon one of these people, or one of their rallies, here are the proper rules of etiquette:

1. Listen politely while this person explains their views. Strike up a conversation if necessary and look very interested in their ideas. They will tell you how revenge is immoral, and that by attacking the people who did this to us, we will only bring on more violence. They will probably use many arguments, ranging from political to religious to humanitarian.

2. In the middle of their remarks, without any warning, punch them in the nose.

3. When the person gets up off of the ground, they will be very angry and they may try to hit you, so be careful.

4. Very quickly and calmly remind the person that violence only brings about more violence and remind them of their stand on this matter. Tell them if they are really committed to a nonviolent approach to undeserved attacks, they will turn the other cheek and negotiate a solution. Tell them they must lead by example if they really believe what they are saying.

5. Most of them will think for a moment and then agree that you are correct.

6. As soon as they do that, hit them again. Only this time hit them much harder. Square in the nose.

7. Repeat steps 2-5 until the desired results are obtained and the idiot realizes how stupid of an argument he/she is making.

8. There is no difference in an individual attacking an unsuspecting victim or a group of terrorists attacking a nation of people. It is unacceptable and must be dealt with. Perhaps at a high cost.

We owe our military a huge debt for what they are about to do for us and our children. We must support them and our leaders at times like these. We have no choice. We either strike back, VERY HARD, or we will keep getting hit in the nose. Lesson over, class dismissed!

It's irresponsible and stupid. I'm sure it is as funny to some now as it would be to those Romans that put Jesus to the cross. Would you even wait for him to turn the other cheek before you hit him again?

I'm not a pacifist, socialist, Dictator-lover, or anti-American. My role model of an American is Mark Twain. I'm a skeptic. I have a deep and longstanding difficulty with authority. I've always trusted and tried to mind my parents because I understood their motivations. Outside of my parents, I view authority figures with skepticism. Where the people are to be presumed innocent, the leaders must prove they're innocent as much as their worth.

I see the arguments of the anarchist as flawed for they do not account for the fact that not all people want to be that free and not all people are willing to allow those that want such freedom to have it.

I see the arguments for democracy in America as flawed for democracy can only be as good as the people that participate in it. We don't seem to bother keeping people properly informed or educated. We are backsliding into the rule of mob. We can try and survive until evolution catches up with the stupidest of the bunch, but at what price? Must we shed the illusion of democracy or try harder to build it?

I see the arguments of the pacifists and followers of PLUR as flawed for the latter it may as well be known as "Pharmaceutical Love that Undermines Reason" and the former deny the rightness of discrete use of force to end suffering.

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principle difference between a dog and a man.

-Mark Twain (1835-1910)

There is a risk in any worthwhile endeavor, but we must weigh caution to action honestly. The only way we can make solutions beyond war work is by having an international body like the UN to offer a country that violates its own people a unified voice of censure. While it is true that the more diverse a body, the harder it becomes to achieve consensus, it is also true that when we hear from more voices we can come to a more manageable and sustainable solution for all. We may be inherently blind to certain things without such input.

And there are definite flaws in our perceptions of reality, as any book of optical illusions will tell you. One thing that struck me like a thunderbolt came from a human biology class: Ever try following a common housefly with your eyes? Isn't it frustrating how it just seems to vanish from your sight? I can't find a reference to back me up, so this is just from memory: I was taught that flies have developed a particularly zig-zaggy and erratic flight pattern to evade just our kind of mammalian vision system. But, studies of fly-eating frogs have shown that their vision systems appear particularly tweaked to react to a fly's midair dance. Imagine what else slips past us, or comes to our attention garbled because our very apparatus contains biases of which we're yet to even conceive?

Les Ochard (?)

So cherish your dissenters, your skeptics, and your critics. They may be the only voices calling you away from the rocks during these stormy times.

Looking Finding Mr. GoodBad Humor

04.03.2003

(Dreams, Personal, Politics, Comedy, Poetry)

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I think most comedians start off defending themselves with comedy. Generally they feel inferior in some way. I certainly did feel inferior. Because of class, because of strength, because of height. I guess if I'd been able to hit somebody on the nose. I wouldn't have become a comic.

- Dudley Moore, 1936-2002

It was Sunday morning, this dream I had. I'm a passenger in what may be a late 60's Chevelle or some Chevy big-block coupe. We are barreling down country roads. It's feels like a race, but whoever I was with and whatever he was saying (and he was raving on plenty) I have waited too long to write it down to remember any of it.

We're going fast. We're going faster. Suddenly I feel pulled out and now I'm sitting at a bar staring at a TV. There's a crowd and they're yelling at the TV. Cheering. It's a race on a dirt track with these oversized covered go-karts. One crashes. The driver is badly, horribly injured - mangled. I'm not moving or saying anything. My hands ache. More drivers pile on. It's terrible. I can't hear the TV. I just hear the people in the bar. They are eating it up. Their faces are red. Their arms waving, pointing.

I wake up and I feel sick for the first hour.

It was Friday and a man I just met that day thought,"What do you tell a woman with 2 black eyes? Nothing. She's already been told twice," was funny. Maybe it is when you work only to buy more beer and cigarettes.

On Monday morning April 1st another man uses the word "nigger" in casual conversation as normal as could be.

On Tuesday someone invents another joke about "fucking fags."

Casual surfing shows hate is gaining momentum even as warnings have gone out and measures are rallied to stop it. Laws can't stop thoughts and thoughts fester.

Which brings me to Paul F. Tompkins and his running gig on Realtime with Bill Maher. Part of his section was about Parent's of the Cherokee High School protesting the school's ban on students wearing closes depicting the Confederate flag. One of the students was quoted saying, "The principal student advisory committee at Cherokee ask that the adults that protest outside the school allow the students to handle their own affairs." Then Paul gives us his take.

Now I wonder where she stands on the issue? [it was a Black student quoted] Isn't it a little weird how you don't see one black face at these Confederate flag rallies? I mean, don't Black folks have any pride in their southern heritage? Because that's what southerners [um, that would be only those at the rally right?] maintain the Confederate flag is a symbol of pride and heritage, not racism and slavery.
Wait! I got the perfect compromise. Let's just say it's a symbol of their rich heritage of racism.

Bill was running down a list of some of the new patriotic songs that have been released as well as some he's made up. One was "I'm hitting you honey, but I'm thinking of Hussein." How Sweet!

The Ali G show is best when it rubs our faces in the dark stuff. It is the Mississippi State vs. Alabama State football game where Ali comes as Brüno the gay Austrian fashion fan. He starts off dancing on the field with the cheerleaders, but ends up, "...embarrassing all 85 thousand here. Get off the field!" So it's off to a Pro-America Expo (the new KKK, I guess) and talks to the event organizer.

Brüno: So what does freedom mean to you?

Organizer: Freedom means being able to do what you want, say what you want without the government looking over your shoulder, with the government hand in your pocket, without the Jewish hand in your pocket.
It's enough to get a fellow depressed or angry.
Anger is a gift.

- Rage Against the Machine

I re-read my last entry. I get a little vulgar when I Drink & Write. All I really have to say is if you want to write a better weblog, keep writing. It should come.

I do have a lot of anger in me of late. It's born of the frustration over many things that never bubble to the surface. I want to be more of an open book without the venomous rage. It's not who I picture myself as. But the anger that can find itself channeled into hatred comes from being hurt and those scars are often hidden and buried. It's their nature. So I show an old scar and I tell you that I got better, but that's an easy one to see.

My goal is to get better, ameliorate. Eventually life will show me enough good examples that maybe it won't be so difficult to wade through the false ones. I do envision comedy as an important part of my life and how I deal with it. Comedy can defeat almost anything.

I may try and be a bit more nice, but don't count on cleaner. I'm not keen on getting meaner, but allow me that vulgar vice. There's something to be said for words that show the funny side of turds. What wonder it is to have a knack for talking smack about some babe's rack or the proverbial plumber's ass-crack.

Will be woe

I'm a writer and a poet
And you bet your ass I know it!

I'm a reader and a ranger
And my quest; forge ever stranger!

'Cause once you think you know me
Out the door you throw me!

You fickle fucks!
But 'dems da lucks
And only the best whores make the bucks!

You prefer your poets opaque
With their stuffy Loftiness so fake
I can beat their butts in Quake™ for goodness sake!

Ever hast eye to be
Changing
Every cast I to be
Saging

Inert matter
Fell bladder
Insert cake
And had her

The shape of my headache
The shake of the earthquake

It will someday shatter.
And never be'in a hatter
Does it matter?


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