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The Treeman

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The Wide World

07.17.2003

(Midwesterners, Writing, Honesty)

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The world is wide and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.

-Frances Willard, (1839-1898)

I grabbed this book yesterday from my Mom, The Wisdom of the Midwest: Common Sense and Uncommon Genius from 101 Great Midwesterners. It's odd that Willard, who is originally from New York, is considered a Midwesterner. She did graduate from Northwestern Female College in Evanston (just north of Chicago, which is also - though we lived in Chicago - the town in which I was born [Evanston Hospital]), Illinois in 1859 and seems to have spent a good deal of time there stirring up trouble.

"one of the spurs of the 'delectable mountains' to which many of our eyes are steadily lifted, and their name is Christian Socialism, 'all for each and each for all;' the utilization of the utmost force of this earth for the corporate benefit of Man; the cherishing of his labor as the holiest thing alive, and the development of individual gifts of brain, heart and hand under the inspiration of that universal sense of brotherhood which will be, as I believe, the perpetual tonic that will some day render all coarser stimulants distasteful."

- Frances Willard

I have no idea what Christian Socialism is. If it's going to be a dry state, then how much fun could it be? Putting "Christian" in front of something does not improve it to me. Take Christian Rock. It's the gateway to secular rock just like non-alcoholic beer is the gateway to Purple Passion and how Harry Potter leads to sticky fingers. And all of it may only lead to fornication.

When I used to listen to rock music it hindered my spirit and caused a rebellious attitude. I can tell you that when I hear 'Christian rock' music, it makes no difference what the lyrics are. It is the music that causes the poor spirit and rebellious attitude.

-A Twenty-Year-Old Student From Oklahoma

Diabolus in Musica! He's everywhere! And don't be swayed by Willard's fancy prose. She's just trying to get you to go from Christian Socialism to Socialism and just maybe dabble into Communism! HORROR!

Nothing recurs to my mind with such frequency and joyous hopes as this soliloquy (It was with me in the quiet woods and hills of New England; it kept time to the soft sea waves; it twinkled in my soul when I looked up into the sky's bright dome): 'I wonder why we don't set at work and abolish poverty in this great generous land within the next half century. We manage our public schools and great universities as the equal property of all; we carry on our entire postal system, our water supply, our parks, streets and highways in the same manner. In some countries the railroads, telegraph and telephone lines belong to the government. and in some cities the lighting is done by the municipality. All this works well. In the most progressive cities tenement houses are built to rent to wage workers, and the old rookeries where private capital demanded the highest rents and the lowest standard of living, are being torn down like the Bastile of old-both being parts of the same ungodly way of dealing with that holy thing called Life. Why should we practically give away the right to build railroads and street car lines, to manufacture gas, erect great public buildings, and thus farm out the people's business to corporate groups of men? Why do we not make the money basis of the country, not a mound of metal white or yellow, dug out of the ground and piled up in our treasury vaults at Washington, but the country itself with 'I promise to pay' gleaming across, its breast from Mt. Katahdin to Mt. Shasta. Beloved comrades, whatever subject we may talk of here, no other the wide world over, tingles with life like this one.

- Frances Willard

There is also the case of one Samuel Clemens that the book labels as a Midwesterner. While he was born in the region, a friend pointed out that he chose to live away from the area for most of his life and that doesn't seem to be a great endorsement. But he did write about it and especially about the most important feature of the Midwest, The Mississippi River. Its been important for a long time and the Native American nations that settled by it's banks were among the largest next to the Aztec and Inca nations. The River has been like a jugular vein to the area like the Nile is to Egypt. Its importance has been taken back a bit by all the miles of track laid out like a spider's web with Chicago at the center.

I don't think that regions have too much an effect on people's "wisdom." It seems to me that the place dictates the pace and little more than that. It's a lot easier to be impatient when you don't have the heat of the tropics to ease your temporal concerns. The importance of being timely is a northern peculiarity and I'm sure it's where the idea was invented. Certainly, someone afflicted with Key's disease is not going to be worrying about being late.

The size of this nation has given us a kind of Continental Consciousness, though disparate. The Wisdom series offers an interesting comment about where the wisdom tends to puddle by its various titles. They feature the wisdom of: Texas, Florida, California, New England, New York, and Southern Wisdom. Of course, the series also includes non-regional-based wisdom derived from: Country Music, Old-Time Television, Golfers, Football, Southern Football, Old-Time Baseball (Which probably doesn't offer the fact that "There's no crying in baseball!"), and Stock-Car. Yes, the last one's title is The Book of Stock Car Wisdom.

Now I'm not sure how this anonymous stock car got to be so wise. Are these observations on how turning left all day long leaves you leaning to the right? Is it filled with how love is like being topped off and given a fresh set of tires? Maybe it talks about how life is filled with pit stops, but you always got to get back into the race. I bet it doesn't say that just because everyone around you is going around in circles it doesn't mean you have to.

I think we've been robbed. Just imagine what could have been.

First off, I have been a Herbie, the Love Bug fan as far back as I can remember during my 19 years of being alive, and this short-lived television series was a sweet departure from some of the hum-drum programs that had been shown at that time. The series tells the story of Jim Douglas (Dean Jones) and his famous little racing car, Herbie, settling down from the glamour and excitement of racing. Though there's not much racing (in fact, only one such episode), the show still managed to carry itself along wonderfully with fine acting from the entire cast, good story-telling, and plenty of Disney magic. It's just a shame that the series was cancelled before it could really prove itself.

-Tim DeMoor (JediSpock@cs.com) from Orlando, Florida (giving us Floridian, Jedi, Vulcan wisdom all rolled up in one man!)

If I was let loose on Hollywood and had free reign, I would, of course, create the greatest damn TV show EV-VER! Let me first say that Bill Bixby can do no wrong after The Courtship of Eddie's Father. I have to admit the idea of him directing Disney's (Walt is another Midwesterner, born in Chicago - go figure) Herbie TV show strikes me strange. Certainly, it's ripe for a post-modern rendering. Just hear me out, M'Kay?

Imagine Bruce Banner in his long travels stumbles upon a rusty and beaten up Herbie in a junkyard. Bruce falls in love with Herbie and restores him to his former glory. Their love blooms to such a degree that Bruce is convinced that he has found his cure in his Love Bug. Meanwhile...

Michael is recalled from retirement because crime has become rampant in Seattle. The current system of freezing convicts is not working. KITT has been dismantled and the parts sold. Devon has managed to recover all but one chip which has been implanted in the head of a female cop whose brain was destroyed by a bullet. KITT is installed in a box and used in Michael's '57 classic Chevy. He and the cop, who has a chip on her shoulder as well as in her head, are teamed. Meanwhile, the foundation is preparing the new car, named K.I.F.T. (Knight Industries Four Thousand.)

-Synopsis of Knight Rider 2000

A budget crisis combined with an "evil" virus that has infected the all-cyborg prison staff has given the idea to the Warden to save the criminal-freezing system by selling the crooks. Inspired while hearing McGruff ask folks to "TAKE A BITE OUT OF CRIME" he begins to work on his marketing campaign and product packaging while wondering if the pricing should reflect the nature of the crime. At the same time a chip has restored Michael's sight after posing as Nick Fury.

Nick Michael discovers that his cyber-eye gives him new powers of observation and he can see clearly that KITT no longer loves him and that the car has feelings for KILF, who comes in the form of a motorbike. Trying to drown his sorrows he goes to the Deja Vu stripclub in Seattle where his new eye spots out Stripperella dancing on stage. They meet and he falls for her, but she has other plans for his love. BUT WAIT! At the other side of the club a drunk Norse god, (sitting with a distracted physicist) Thor, has fallen in deep, drunky love for Stripperella.

What happens next? Does Thor bash Michael's skull with his hammer? Would that be a bad thing? What becomes of Bruce and Herbie? Will convicts be found in the frozen food section of Seattle's QFCs? Can the love between two Kars work out despite being such different types of vehicles?

At least you know what I would be writing if I got into TV. I can't help it sometimes, like Adam who, "Sometimes, when I'm lucid, I ask myself, "what specific steps can I take to attract weirdos and perverts to my blog?" One things that still works to this day is Lee's Oriental Massage, which as an album has become something I can't listen to anymore, much more so than the first Fantomas (which could also be labeled "Music that clears the room and halts the party except for the psychos"). It's with this thought that I now quote fellow Chicagoan Walt Disney.

Always be in a state of becoming.

I would like to be coming, maybe not always, but enough to keep my prostate in order and to keep a smile on my face. I may be unemployed, but I'm not looking for a permanent hand job.

It's stuff like this that may prevent me from ever becoming a "writer" and I will be doomed to some fluff job, but I don't need a cybernetic eye to know strange journalistic coincidences when I see them. I have a page cut out of the Chicago Tribune with two articles. One is When fiction is fiction and fact is fact by Carol Marin (whom most recognize in Chicago as a long time TV news anchor.) and the other is Truth turning out to be a non-story by Kathleen Parker.

Now journalists that write opinion pieces like to have a "hook" or whatever the hell they call the literary device of something they bookend their article with that has a vague tie-in to what they are actually writing about. Carol uses the arrival of her copy of the new Harry Potter book and Kathleen uses a tidbit about her favorite author's sign posted above his desk, "Wait." They share similar writing techniques and they are even covering much of the same topics and yet what really got to me is that they both referred to the same old joke about the weather that seems to get used in every city.

Every day we are bombarded with facts that dissolve into fiction. It's like that old joke–if you don't like it today just wait, it will change tomorrow. Sometimes the morphing of fact into fiction is no joke at all.

-Carol Marin

The blogosphere is afire with speculation and obsessive analysis. One blogger notes that Bush devoted five paragraphs in his State of the Union address to weapons of mass destruction and only one paragrapgh to humanitarian concerns. Aha!

So many opinions are swirling on the Internet, as well as on op-ed pages–the sins of which I share–that you can find whatever suits your mood. Or wait a few minutes for one you like better. On the War and Iraq, truth is like Florida weather. If you don't it, give it five minutes.

-Kathleen Parker

I included that paragraph about the...ugh, blogosphere to avoid further comment about the co-inky-dink and make a speedy Segway to this rant. Which allows another link via that was found here and you know well by now that it would require a link to here and here and it seems I have nothing to fear about not being left to my own literary devices.

I was terrible in English. I couldn't stand the subject. It seemed to me ridiculous to worry about whether you spelled something wrong or not, because English spelling is just a human convention–it has nothing to do with anything real, anything from nature. Any word can be spelled just as well a different way. I was impatient with all this English stuff.

-Richard P. Feynman, What Do You Care What Other People Think?

It seems that all I have to do is let go of that last tendril that holds on to the idea that there could ever be someone with authority that had not received it due to the laziness of others to think for themselves and act for themselves. This lesson, this truth, is illustrated in Feynman's story. Reading it today reminded me how important it is to be honest and open to those you love and to that wide world out there.

Finally, after a lot of discussion, a doctor at the hospital tells me they figure the most likely possibility is Hodgkin's disease. He says, "There will be some periods of improvement, and some periods in the hospital. It will be on and off, getting gradually worse. There's no way to reverse it entirely. It's fatal after a few years."

I'm sorry to hear that," I say. "I'll tell her what you said."

"No, No!" says the doctor. "We don't want to upset the patient. "We're going to tell her it's grandular fever."

"No, No!" I reply. "We've already discussed the possibility of Hodgkin's disease. I know she can adjust to it."

"Her parents don't want her to know. You had better talk to them first."

At home, everybody worked on me: my parents, my two aunts, our family doctor; they were all on me, saying I'm a very foolish young man who doesn't realize what pain he's going to bring to this wonderful girl by telling her she has a fatal disease. "How can you do such a terrible thing?" they asked, in horror.

"Because we have made a pact that we must speak honestly with each other and look at everything directly. There's no use fooling around. She's gonna ask me what she's got, and I cannot lie to her!"

"Oh, that's childish!" they said–blah, blah, blah. Everybody kept working on me, and I said I was wrong. I thought I was definitely right, because I had already talked to Arlene about the disease and I knew she could face it–that telling her the truth was the right way to handle it.

But finally, my little sister comes up to me–she was eleven or twelve then–with tears running down her face. She beats me on the chest, telling me that Arlene is such a wonderful girl, and I'm such a foolish, stubborn brother. I couldn't take it any more. That broke me down.

So I wrote Arlene a goodbye love letter, figuring that if she ever found out the truth after I had told her it was glandular fever, we would be through. I carried the letter with me all the time.

The gods never make it easy; they always make it harder. I go to the hospital to see Arlene–having made this decision–and there she is, sitting up in bed, surrounded by her parents, somewhat distraught. When she sees me, her face lights up and she says, "Now I know how valuable it is that we tell each other the truth!" Nodding at her parents, she continues, "They're telling me I have glandular fever, and I'm not sure whether I believe them or not. Tell me, Richard, do I have Hodgkin's disease or glandular fever?"

"You have glandular fever, " I said and died inside. It was terrible–just terrible.

Her reaction was completely simple: "Oh! Fine! Then I believe them." Because we had built up so much trust in each other, she was completely relieved. Everything was solved, and all was very nice.

She got a little bit better, and went home for a while. About a week later, I get a telephone call. "Richard," she says, "I want to talk to you. Come on over."

"Okay." I made sure I still had the letter with me. I could tell something was the matter.

I go upstairs to her room, and she says, "Sit down." I sit down on the end of her bed. "All right, now tell me," she says, "do I have glandular fever or Hodgkin's disease?"

"You have Hodgkin's disease." And I reached for the letter.

"God!" she says. "They must have put you through hell!"

I had just told her she has a fatal disease, and was admitting that I had lied to her as well, and what does she think of? She's worried about me! I was terribly ashamed of myself. I gave Arlene the letter.

"You should have stuck by it. We know what we're doing; we are right!"

"I'm sorry. I feel awful."

"I understand, Richard. Just don't do it again."

-Richard P. Feynman, What Do You Care What Other People Think?

Mars Madness

07.14.2003

(More Mars and More)

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This summer Mars will be the brightest it will ever be in our lifetimes.

-More Martian Dust? By Roger W. Sinnott and David Tytell

...on the night of August 26–27, Mars will be closer to Earth — if by only a little — than at any time in some 60,000 years.

-Mars at Its All-Time Finest By Daniel M. Troiani

It's Summer Solstice and Mars is only 44 million miles away, the closest its been in 13 years. In 13 days it will be July 4th, Independence Day. Mars is the 4th planet. A baker's dozen is 13. Numerology is half-baked!

Yeah, quoting myself. Yeah.

There's a distant storm on it's way. Take a look at Mars on that day.


This is the time to move on.
This is the time to sing that song.
I got to stop the purulent parlance.
I got to find my post-fight dance.

Cool the stress with calienta dreams
It's not always so bad as it seems
The thinkers and comics are leading the way
Only you decide whom you're reading today.

And I'm done with that and done with you
And there're so many more things I'd rather do
I want to benevolently create, do less dumb debate
I want to give a little bit and live before too late

When the rage has you in its thrall
When they got your back against the wall
They'll ask you "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
You just give a little grin and keep your ass a moving

Just slide on over to where things are alright
Just to hold you tight and talk with me all night
I want to be with the one I adore
Someone everyday I like more and more.

The American Indians have a wonderful phrase. They say: "When we take one step towards the Gods, the Gods take ten steps towards us." And I think that we are now consciously and conscientiously in a position of joining the great partnership with Spirit in the making of the possible world.

I think we are moving into a time of factors that are absolutely unique in human history, of which the underlying factor is the leavening of love throughout the world.

- Jean Houston

Self-righteous rejection

07.13.2003

(sorry)

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The last post should have read "do what you want, I not going to get involved anymore." No more. No less.

I made a mistake to think that people would not take offense at having someone make an effort to change while giving some parting shots. The post only made certain situations worse. That's the price one pays for trying to straighten things out while passing judgement based on an incomplete understanding of other's actions. I did not read every webpage. I did not read every comment. I do not know which have been changed or deleted. I took my incomplete knowledge to be something it wasn't and instead of merely saying I wasn't getting involved in fights, I picked some on my way out.

I do get emotionally involved because I don't pretend that I'm not dealing with people just because they are online. I also take some things online seriously. I also am guilty of saying bad things about people I hardly know. I am guilty of then trying to rectify the situation and get a bit preachy in the process. I can be every bit as confused, conflicted, angry, and petty as those I've accused. This means that as long as I continue to behave in certain ways, I am also a hypocrite.

I'm sorry my efforts at trying to illustrate a point turned ironic in its ability to generate more shit. In pointing out behavior I did not like, I had it pointed right back at me and then got frustrated and went off some more. A larger point remained true the whole time.

The secret of blogbating is that no winners will emerge from them.

I've learned quite a bit from this and one of those things is that if someone attacks you with personal insults they have already lost. You will gain nothing in attacking back. It solves nothing. It proves nothing.

A lot of people that I have said were full of shit like Rebecca Blood or worse like...well, lots of folks I've been politically opposed to, morally opposed, ethically opposed, etc., I've said while channeling some frustration from my own life. Blood could and should write more books about blogging and live well. I had no business to think otherwise. I could go on with the rest, but it's the same story.

I'm sorry Eric. Your site is yours and you have every right to insult anyone for insulting you. You can also keep thinking, "the first swing was by John calling Donna an asshole." You think I did it here I wager. Hell, I am not even sure why I mentioned her at all in the post except that I thought she delinked me for that same ill-conceived comment. It was just another reaction. Another bad one.

Kare, you are right about me being a hypocrite and my last post did nothing to sway your opinion of that. Fortunately, I learned from that and feel awful for posting it. Like Eric, I don't want you to change and won't bother you about it anymore.

I'm sorry to those that stepped up to my defense. I shouldn't have put you in that position and I'm determined to make sure that nothing like this happens again.

I feel bad about this, but at the same time I see why I got all worked up in the first place. I've been reading and reacting. I've not been thinking and creating. I need to do more of the latter.

Hitting the fan

07.12.2003

(lying, conflict resolution, human nature, assholes)

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Portions of this post require this post as a correction.

We need to start again. We need to stop saying how wonderful things are. We need to openly, truthfully and respectfully admit that the internet itself, in almost all of what's been done with it, is shit....I can't wait for the day when the internet makes me rejoice in its possibilities again. But right now, it's shit.

-Some Anonymous Coward at www.internetisshit.org

It's such an embarrassing site that it's no wonder the author won't reveal himself. The argument is ludicrous on its face. OK, you haven't found anything interesting on the web, you are simply not looking. It is not that hard. You have zero imagination. The internet will not come to you. You have to bring it to your browser. Simple, simple, simple.

My patience for that kind of stuff is thin. It's snug laziness trying to be a meme. The internet is not shit, but this dude is full of it. Is this person lying to himself?

When Gustave Gilbert, a psychologist who interviewed the Nuremberg prisoners, talked to Hermann Goering, the former leader of the Third Reich's Luftwaffe, Goering volunteered that it was relatively easy to persuade a populace to go to war. As quoted in Gilbert's book "Nuremberg Diary," Goering said: "It is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship."

Gilbert disagreed with Goering's analysis. "There is one difference," he answered. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars." But Goering held his ground: "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

The article goes on to cover how we tend to gloss over points that don't support our views of the world. Maybe it's worse that we live "in a dense fog of advertising and propaganda" that comes to us daily in a soothing voice. Paul Harvey pushed this along with his blending of ad-man and news-man. We've moved on to product placement in our movies and TV like advertising is some parasite intent on attaching itself to everything. Certainly, advertising serves a purpose, but it would be nice to not have so much of it. Propaganda serves a purpose too. While Mykeru can get a little rabid with his anti-conservative attacks (not that there aren't conservatives that don't deserve it. He lays it a bit too thick and wide sometimes) there's a good bit of counter-propaganda going on here.

It's good to not let this stuff go unchallenged and if you don't feel like jumping onboard with your own refutation in order to assemble an "internet uproar" over the crap that's been going one, then just link it. Maybe a few times.

I used to do this; wade into a big mess and decide where and who to crap on. This one was not fun, but since I've been down that thought trail many times already I'll make like Jack Burton. What the hell.

I don't want to talk about the full train wreck of what happened, but it's a way to exorcise it from my mind. It bugged the crap out of me when I first read it and even more so to see Eric defending a couple of assholes while joining in calling someone a "word-twisting loosely-glued NUT CASE!!!" She doesn't like the implications of what these guys were saying. It goes beyond interpretations of what "deviant" means in context since they muddied it up by included ties to nasty sexual deviancies. It's "junior high" emotion baiting and they kept on her. They did what she accuses them of plain and simple and she even does some of what they accuse her of, but (and here's the secret of blogbating) no winners will emerge from this.

It could have been avoided, but they went on and later managed to get some of the more idiotic readers from their sites involved. She got defensive and emotional and they didn't back off. It's a pain in the ass to go through and cite because the actual "fight" is not as interesting as the larger debate. Unfortunately, you can't find much of that going on.

If you care to, start from the beginning.

I want to address this comment though.

No matter where you stand on the moral / spiritual issue, the biological issue is plain. From an evolutionary standpoint, homosexuals would be (if sexual orientation was genetic) a deviant branch of humanity simply by virtue of the fact that they cannot procreate, which is what sex is all about. If homosexuals cannot procreate, they cannot ensure the survival of their evolutionary strain, and eventually the gene would die out.

So... let's say it is genetic. Assume, then, that for hundreds - or maybe even thousands - of years, homosexuals have been forced to live repressed lives, spending their time trying to appear hetrosexual, which perhaps means having children with women. In doing this, the "gay gene" would be interspersed around the gene pool, and just about anyone could end up with it. It would be, well, everywhere.

Wouldn't it make more sense, then, for those who oppose homosexuals to let them "come out" and have their relationships openly, eventually attracting anyone with said gene to their "side of the fence"? Because they would not be able to procreate and pass the genetic deviancy to a new generation, that would be the easiest way to purge such a gene from society, wouldn't it?

Furthermore, if it were biological, wouldn't it be natural to assume, then, that bisexuality could be biological? Pediosexuality? Geriatrisexuality? Beastiality? How can you say one is biological and not others? Maybe some people are simply disposed, by genetics, to have the need to force sex out of others, making rape a genetically correct sexual orientation. Taken to logical extremes, it makes more sense than homosexuality (from the evolutionary standpoint), because there's still a chance for procreation.

But I digress, because it's a moot point. Sexual orientation is not biological. There's no evidence to suggest it is, despite trumped up "reports" funded by pro-gay organizations that say otherwise. There is no scientific proof to say that homosexuality is anything but choice.

Posted by: simon (of the big sort) on Jul 07, 03 | 2:56 pm

OK...
1st paragraph: Simon decides to make a point to establish him as an asshole. No other purpose exists. Point in fact: homosexuals can procreate just like everyone else, but they choose their mate for reasons other than mere procreation purposes. Societal structure and our thinking brains do an end-around such a strict interpretation of evolutionary deviancy.

2nd paragraph: Simon starts out with a hypothetical "genetic" cause, then he assumes that throughout history homosexuals have had to hide their behavior. Hello? The Greeks put a hole in that theory there. Of course, there's another factor here. Who's to say that we don't all have the "genetic" cause for homosexuality? While the brain develops from DNA, it does not control the exact nature of that growth over time because while there is growth there are external influences on that growth. So DNA does not precisely determine brain structure and brain structure does not precisely control behavior. There is nothing to indicate that for any one person genetics determine their sexual preference any more than any other influence on their behavior. In the end, we do have a say in the matter of our sexuality. No one has to have sex, but we shouldn't think it's wrong to have sex with someone on a mature and equal basis. I believe "Man is condemned to be free" so that each person has a to deal with a certain degree of what their bodies tell them they are attracted to and then decide on if they are going to act on those feelings. I believe that if this involves same-sex relationships that it benefits society as a whole, because when people can find happiness in a world where so many are bent on making enemies it is always a good thing.

3rd paragraph: Simon pulls the out nazi-think card. But we're all just theorizing and not trying to get an emotional response or anything, right? This was a necessary and valid thing to bring up, right? Eugenics much?

4th paragraph: Simon tries to relate homosexuality to disturbing sexual deviancies in order to take "logical extremes" under the guise of an "evolutionary standpoint" to what end? Oh, you still think the guy "was merely citing examples."

5th paragraph: Simon makes a bald-faced lie. As noted, "Homo sapiens are built to obstinately hold on to their beliefs, even in the face of conflicting evidence." So Simon can easily label legitimate research by Dr. Hamer and Simon LeVay as pro-gay funded. Regardless of whether or not such research is even "correct" concerning its claims, he cites no evidence for his statements.

Kate rightly calls Simon on his BS too. He tries to argue out of it by denying the implications of his line of thinking. Maybe he's just blind to it? He pulls another statement out of his rectum (I have to assume that's the source since he doesn't actually offer anything) for this: "As far as sex and procreation go, the only reason we have pleasure sensors in our sex organs at all (and I don't care if you're looking at it from an evolutionary standpoint or not) is because we simply wouldn't do it if we didn't find it at least somewhat pleasurable." People have sex for more than pleasure. Survival, power, esteem, etc. Our brains invent reasons.

[ I've edited this to add Simon's response in the interest of fair play. My reply will be in bold

First Paragraph: People committing homosexual acts cannot procreate. Period. That was the basis of my first statement. You know that's what was intended, as does every other thinking individual who read what I wrote. Of course, it wouldn't serve well to point out that, hey, I was right on point one, would it?

Only you know what you meant. I'm going by what you wrote and simply saying that "they cannot procreate" ignores the fact that nothing prevents them from doing so when the need arises. The same thing applies to heterosexual males engaging in sex acts while in prision. It's a preference, not a limiting factor.

Second Paragraph: Sure, the Greeks eventually openly embraced homosexuality. So did the Romans. In both cases, right before their cultures crumbled... as has been the case of every society that has publicly acknowledged homosexual deviancy as normal. So we're talking about what... a couple hundred years? Out of how many thousand? That puts no holes in my theory, mate, but it sure makes yours a bugger to stand by.

There's obviously some major assumptions taking place here. I have no intention of bothering with this one because there is no cure for willful ignorance.

Third Paragraph: Your arrogance is astounding! You misinterpret me entirely here. In case you didn't notice the tone, I was simply stating that those who openly oppose homosexuality would, if it were indeed genetically induced, be doing themselves a great disservice by not helping promote gay rights. It was a snide comment, made mostly because, while I may be ant-igay (in the sense that I believe homosexuality to be deviant behavior and sinful), I'm not anti-choice. I'm fine with people making their own decisions and speaking their own minds. What I'm simply not going to do is allow people to continue living under the delusion that they're doing everything okay. Sometimes the most clear sign that you care for someone is when you attempt to stop them from doing something stupid, or falling into a foolish pattern of behavior.

I simply pointed out that your hypothetical Eugenics-based argument was a bit of a tasteless, pointless debate tactic. You call it "snide" and I call it something else. The fact that you believe homosexuality to be "deviant behavior and sinful" only indicates a strange attachment to olde time religious bigotry. Any religion that thinks God does not approve of acts of love just because of gender is merely projecting their own insecurities and understanding of what is normal onto the Godhead. I find no evidence that your beliefs don't cloud your understanding in the same way I have never found any evidence that would make me believe homosexuality is a sin. I know you like your Bible (New and Old testaments), but I know fiction wrapped in stale philosophy when I see it.

Fourth Paragraph: Believe it or not, if it's possible that homosexuality is genetically induced, it's just as possible that pedophilia and bestiality are in the genes as well. Maybe you don't want to admit it, but you're being silly by suggesting that this can't be. Why not? Can you give one good reason why such things could not be genetic, and maintain the belief that homosexuality is? No? Didn't think so. And for your record, I was simply citing examples. Sorry if they bothered you, but it seemed the best way to make that point.

Mr. Ripley you like to ignore what I've actually said and what was nicely put by B², "The only way you can equate homosexuality with pedophilia or bestiality is if you discern no distinction between a sexual orientation and a sexual fetish." Furthermore, you make the mistake in thinking I'm arguing that genetics determine any of this, which is another deft avoidance of what I wrote originally in response to the 2nd paragraph. Sorry if the reality of what I've actually wrote bothers you.

Fifth Paragraph: As far as Dean Hamer's research goes... in June 1995, reports were confirmed that Hamer was being investigated by the Office of Research Integrity at the Department of Health and Human Services. It was found that Hamer selectively reported his research and data. In other words, his report has no reasonable credibility in real scientific circles. Furthermore, in the late '90s, a team of researchers at the University of Western Ontario lead by George Ebers found no trace or evidence of the "gay" gene in homosexual men - and they performed the same study as Hamer with a larger sample base. The study found that the region of the X chromosome known as "Xq28" (the gene Hamer was calling the "gay" gene) has nothing to do with the sexual "orientation" of a person. LeVay's work is really no better, relying on a sample of only 19 cadavers of homosexual men and 16 cadavers of heterosexual men. His premise that homosexuality is biological is largely based on the notion that a certain cluster of neurons within the hypothalamus was generally larger in heterosexuals than in homosexuals. Please note the following: It was not ALWAYS larger, just generally. Out of a sample group of 35 cadavers. Yeah... really credible research there.

Interestingly, none of the studies have suggested that people are "born gay". Instead, they focus on people who are already actively, openly homosexual.

In any case, think what you will. I just thought I'd enlighten you some. Maybe someday we'll sit down over a drink and verbally degrade each other more thoroughly, k?

OK, Simon is not a liar. I don't have any interest in further investigation in the validity of one researcher over another. I have no investment in there being a genetic marker for homosexuality. It's very likely that if there is such a thing, then everyone has it and that would really make things moot. Just go back to that original 2nd paragraph commentary that you like to ignore.

The only thing I have been enlightened to is the futility of pursuing this anymore with you. I felt compelled to clear up a few points since I've found that you posted about it. I wanted to retract the accusation that you lied. I'm done with it.]
It doesn't stop there though. I'll include two comments that do a good summation.

I get it now. Thinking homosexuality is deviant is hateful. Comparable to domestic violence and racism according to you. I guess it is if you subscribe to your way of thinkin. I don't, however. I agree with Simon. I think it's a choice.

I'll check my opinion at the door when I come to your blog from now on, though. Please send me an email telling me what I'm supposed to think, and I'll read it before I log on.

Posted by: Geoffrey on Jul 08, 03 | 4:13 pm

The only way you can equate homosexuality with pedophilia or bestiality is if you discern no distinction between a sexual orientation and a sexual fetish. Whether a trait is inherited or learned does not depend on "choice." To say that because pedophiles and homosexuals don't choose what turns them on means pedophilia = homosexuality is specious logic. And while there is evidence to suggest that homosexuality is genetic, I'm not aware of any studies that have shown the same for pedophilia or bestiality.

To oppose homosexuality on moral grounds is perfectly valid, albeit not especially enlightened. To claim some scientific basis for this attitude, however, is no more valid than attempts throughout history to show, for example, that blacks are genetically inferior to whites, or those lovely theories about Aryan "genetic" superiority over Jews.

People have always tried to justify their bigotry on scientific grounds, and the "science" involved rarely holds up to an impartial analysis.

Posted by: B² on Jul 08, 03 | 4:22 pm

B² hits upon what has been bothering Mary the whole time and what they don't seem to get. They don't get that she simply does not want them to frame their debates or opinions in ways that make connections that she finds offensive. It's that simple.

It should be that simple for rational adults. I don't find it amusing at all that people feel compelled to wallow in the misery of others when they can avoid it. So this it the last one for me and that's the only reason I decided to go into detail about it here.

As I stated in that comment, I will still help out those that have real problems. Take the whole Mike Branum (Hoopty) crap that happened a while ago. That was the only time I thought about beating the shit out of someone I knew online. I don't want to go down that road and I don't want to get involved with all these inter-blog fights that only serve to push people further away from each other in order to satisfy egos. You don't have to visit a site you don't like and then post judgements about people's mental health based on an incomplete understanding of their situation. I don't desire to see "proof" of anyone's irrational behavior. It no longer interests me. That's a great reason to de-link.

Of course that goes for me too. We all like to dig up the past and sometimes it's a lot easier on the internet. At some point patterns of behavior emerge and labels find their way on to people. Maybe Hoopty has changed his ways, I wouldn't know, but his past doesn't go away. Mary might have to live with being labeled as someone with low self-esteem with a habit of getting emotional. Eric will have to live with being a shit-stirrer for the benefit of his readers amusement while not thinking (or caring?) beforehand about the hurt that is left in its wake.

I'm not going cater to the cries for attention and petty feuds that are a regular occurrence. I don't have to put up with it. I withdraw my support, my interest, and participation in all those places. I'm not going to add more shit to the Internet stockpile. I've hit my limit. I'm not going to play in your pool anymore and I'd like you to stay out of mine.

Looks like we've got ourselves a reader

07.09.2003

(Readers and Writers)

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Some books are to be tasted; others swallowed; and some few to be chewed and digested.

-Francis Bacon

The Things that Never Were promoting continues and leads to thought upon thought over crossing the rift from the unpublished.

Technically, I've been published, even if it was on an online gaming site (gamitopia.com) or in a couple of Poetry.com pseudo-published poetry books (I'm not sure if they reject anything). I've written stuff since High School, but never bothered to publish any of it back then-though the poems In Darkest Nights and The Front found their way in the yearbook. So it struck me as odd when it was pointed out to me later that Cory needed to point this out. Then again, it's an identity thing. I never thought of myself as a writer professionally. It was something that would be cool, but not a priority. It seems a lot more important now.

Someone linked to a previous post about a book called Why Girls are Weird, which seems like the companion to Girls Are Pretty. Both authors seem to do a bit of comedy off-line. Maybe they could get together and co-author Why Girls are Pretty Weird.

You know how much of a black hole Metafilter can be when you then spot another book-related post and they seem insane enough for me to think the "e" in e-book means something other than "electronic." Though I have to say that some people have made a good living writing while on something. Some even made something to be on and while they were on it, wrote. DIY to the MAX! And somehow that thread leads me to the "Singularity."

There is no idea worth understanding that cannot be explained by a good story. Storytelling is the oldest method for communicating technical ideas. In the primitive village where we all grew up, that's how information about agriculture, hunting, health, morality, politics, religion was communicated.

-Christos Papadimitriou interview about his new book Logicomix

So in service of the story Cory Sux0red Salon with sentences like, "He didn't exactly love Global Semi, but shit, they were number three in a hot, competitive sector where Moore's Law drove the cost of microprocessors relentlessly downwards as their speed rocketed relentlessly skyward." And no I'm not going to go into the leet-speak crap he indulges in. I've never met a soul that used it outside of mocking it during late night Counter Strike sessions. It's the stuff of 12-year-olds and others that have no clue. And if he shares the sentiments of his character, it's a certainty.

A tech writer. Why not just break his goddamned fingers and poke his eyes out? Never write another line of code, never make the machine buck and hum and make his will real in the abstract beauty of silicon? Tech writers were coders' janitors, documenting the plainly self-evident logic of APIs and code-structures, niggling over punctuation and grammar and frigging stylebooks, like any of it mattered -- human beings could parse English, even if it wasn't well-formed, even if you had a comma-splice or a dangling participle.

A programmer ego stroke demeaning to those who often have to document poor programming. Some of us have *cough* done both, but would never think themselves so much better. The story is an act of fellatio to the ubër-geek coders that have read a few classics and were swarming all over the IT departments dreaming of silicon this and that. Oh, I know.

Worse yet, it is a thinly veiled screed on property rights cribbed from the fringes of the EFF special paranoia division. Take Stranger in a Strange Land mind over body stuff into a programmer's interface, fake an ending and you get 0wnz0red!

It's just an opinion and not a firm one at that. I'm being...me. Sometimes the over-passionate part takes over. I do in those on my side for weaknesses I share in different degrees. Criticism is not ad hominem. Hacker-pr0n stories and Harry Potter (I can tell just by the passages quoted in that thread, but hell they are supposed to be for children. It's the same reason I won't re-read The Lord of the Rings) are not for me. When I was a kid my indulgence was the Xanth books by Piers Anthony so you can probably understand my weakness for puns.

I should try to engage the humor aspect of my writing more, uh, professionally. It's worked for David Berry. You can do that kind of stuff automatically.

Someone entered in the long form and you'll have to guess who, but I felt it needed to be saved.

Recently in Chicago, Illinois (motto: "I am going to kill everyone you know"), residents reported an outbreak of yams. Perhaps you think there are no yams in Chicago, Illinois. Perhaps you are an idiot. As the French say, au contraire (literally: "You would only get smarter if I skullfucked you!"). I have here in my hands a copy of an Associated Press article sent in by alert reader John Namest, whose name can be rearranged to spell "JTOSHENM AN", although that is not my main point. "John Namest", by the way, only has the letters "onNames" in in common with "Monica Lewinsky", so there is no other reason to mention Monica Lewinsky in this column. According to a quote which I am not making up, from Chicago, Illinois Mayor Alyousius (formally "Mayor Alyousius" and informally "Bippy"), yams ranks as a major crisis just behind Cock, Hens and Eggs (insert your "Feathers" joke here), as evidenced by the following conversation between Chicago, Illinois government employees: FIRST CHICAGO ILLINOIS EMPLOYEE: "Feral House is a good publishing house, but not as good as Monkeybrain Books" SECOND CHICAGO ILLINOIS EMPLOYEE: "Your scrotum is doomed" FIRST CHICAGO ILLINOIS EMPLOYEE: "Sorry about that doom that came to your scrotum" Fortunately I have a suggestion for Mayor Bippy, and that is: defenestrate George Steinbrenner's macrobiotic potato-clone.. No, seriously, my suggestion does not involve George Steinbrenner's macrobiotic potato-clone., although it might involve skullfucking Tobacco Institute scientists. My suggestion is more along the lines of a coup de grace , from the French coup , meaning "lots", and de grace , meaning "and lots of fucking of yon skulls". The procedure (you may want to write this down): we should destroy all life on earth I let the monkey do it But instead the Chicago, Illinois city council (motto: "We'll eat flan when you pry the chainsaw out of our cold, dead fingers") thinks that they (the yams) will seethe with haughty malevolence, secure in their brilliant evil soon, sending this message to the public, and to the world: "Death is not just inevitable, in your case it will be painful". Speaking of which, "The Chicago, Illinois Yams Outbreak" would be a great name for a rock band.

The current plan is to contact the author of the script so I might try and make a Lileks version. Watch this space.

Making caring hip again

07.07.2003

(Heroes, Debtors, Lovers)

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This is an imaginary story (which may never happen, but then again may) about a perfect man who came from the sky and did only good. It tells of his twilight, when the great battles were over and the great miracles long since performed; of how his enemies conspired against him and of that final war in the snowblind wastes beneath the Northern Lights; of the two women he loved and of the choice he made between them; and how finally all the things he had were taken from him save one. It ends with a wink. It begins in a quiet midwestern town, one summer afternoon in the quiet midwestern future. Away in the big city, people still sometimes glance up hopefully from the sidewalks, glimpsing a distant speck in the sky... but no: it's only a bird, only a plane. Superman died ten years ago. This is an imaginary story...

Aren't they all?

-Alan Moore, Superman #423: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

As if you had to wonder whether or not Pop Would Eat Itself. Just wish Bruce Wayne auf weidersehn while Dirty Harry makes your day and the Terminator comes back the third time. Can you dig it? How Alan Moore knows the score and the game's not over yet. Yeah!

As the long-established start-date for the war approached with no clear evidence for its necessity having emerged, the coherence and authority of the United Nations turned out to be its first casualty. This venerable institution was cast as a laughing stock purely for its refusal to state that black was white upon America's say-so. The arguments and evidence served lukewarm by the coalition were a laughable, moronic embarrassment (like that British Intelligence document detailing Saddam's WMDs that Colin Powell seemed so impressed by, and which turned out to have been mostly copied from a graduate thesis written by a Californian student more than ten years earlier), but for anyone to actually laugh or to point this out was spun by the Bush administration as equivalent to a bunch of smug and snooty French intellectuals pissing on the dead of the Twin Towers while eating snails and taking Jerry Lewis seriously. Apparently, you' re either for us, or against us. This means, effectively, that unless we are all willing to accept every word that comes from the mouth of former cokehead, allegedly recovered alcoholic and corporate fraudster George W. Bush as literally God's own truth, then we must expect to be regarded and treated as actual members of AI Qaeda.

The WTC plane-bombings, for the Bush administration that provoked them in the first place, failed conspicuously to prevent them and then shamelessly exploited this awful human tragedy for the advancement of its own shitty little agendas, have become the sacred touchstone of this proposed "War without end." Any previously unthinkable political action can be instantly validated by the magic words 9-11, in much the same way as Ariel Sharon's government in Israel can make horrific moral and humanitarian issues simply vanish by mentioning the Holocaust. The logic seems to be that if anything sufficiently dreadful has ever been done to you in the past, then you have complete license to do dreadful things to everyone else, forever. This, of course, is a logic that would set serial killers from bad homes free to kill as they pleased, would even provide them with the necessary chainsaws and electrical tape. It is a logic that states "Monstrous things have been done to us, so therefore its okay to behave monstrously." It is George Bush's logic, and also that of Osama Bin Laden. Or any four-year-old boy, for that matter. As a result of following this logic, it seems that since the September of 2001, America and Israel have been competing against each other in a breathtaking downhill slalom from the moral high ground, squandering public sympathy as if neither nation ever expected to have further need for such a thing.

-Alan Moore

Alan Moore, yeah! Just when it seemed that only the flaky celebrated few were going to be given time to air their opining on the State of the War on Whatever. Alan knows and cares.

How about America, then? Aren't all of us snooty European liberals anti-American these days? Of course not. Who told you that? What, we're anti Duke Ellington, Tom Waits, Herman Melville, Jackson Pollock, Chester Himes, Emperor Norton, Patti Smith, Tex Avery, Dorothy Parker, Edgar Allan Poe, Orson Welles, Billie Holliday, Raymond Chandler, Kathy Acker, Edwin Starr, Nina Simone, Raymond Carver, Paul Robeson, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Emily Dickinson Lou Reed, Wilhelm Reich, Thomas Alva Edison, Jimi Hendrix, Captain Beefheart, William Burroughs, Emma Goldman, Jack Kerouac, William Faulkner, Walt Whitman, Spike Lee, Allen Ginsberg, John Waters, Matt Groening, The Sopranos, Robert Crumb, Damon Runyon, Woody Guthrie, Edward Hopper and all the thousands of other wonderful people who express what the gigantic, unruly, thundering heart of America is really all about? No. You're a great country, but you (and the rest of the world) got Bushwhacked. A spooky little clique who for some considerable while contented themselves with being part of America's un-elected Shadow Government have now stepped boldly up into the footlights, where they feel (perhaps correctly) that they can now do or say whatever they want, and that nobody can or will do anything about it. They' re ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille. There is no longer any need for secrecy or shadows. Covert wars were so last century, don't you think? This is 2003, and they can be as overt as they like, dividing up the millennial pie with the fuhrer's silverware.

We're coming up on Sunset Blvd. and maybe the final stretch of insipid insanity for a while. Hollywood is still a mess.

separated at birth?
Alan will take another check to the bank blameless for anything they'd do to it. Sean Connery has proved his name no longer means much in the way of quality filmmaking. I'll probably see it anyway; like the last one- an aficionado after all.

It's a distraction. Like the war. Like a lot of things that seem to be going up, but are not. And things that are supposed to be over, but are not. And maybe you can still rock without being wasted, because you've been down that road before.

They wanted to cut off my arm to save me, but I said no. The medical staff made me sign something that if I died because the poison spread, they couldn't be sued because I wouldn't let them amputate," says Jourgensen, who will lead Ministry at the Vic on Tuesday. "Something like that makes you realize that the rug can be pulled out from under you at any given time. It made me re-evaluate everything: What's important? It was more sobering than any detox clinic. Right then and there, I decided to quit [drugs]. It was like, 'Let me keep my arm, and I'll do anything.' Cutting deals with the devil, right? Like Robert Johnson. Just let me live.

-Al Jourgensen, on getting bit by a spider

As for those that still scrape at the wounds and suck at the marrow, what are their thoughts?

Memo to Andrew Sullivan: this isn't a zero sum game, or even close. "The terrorists" and "Iraq" most likely have nothing to do with each other. Do you even believe this stuff yourself or are these just the bones you toss the idiot subscribers who actually believe you when you claim that it costs well over $80K a year to run a freakin' blog?

-Tom Tomorrow

For those of you that were paying attention, I did take off the Paypal donation button that I cleverly hid at the bottom of my front page. At some point it's no longer a matter of tempting fate or even waiting for that lucky break. It's a matter of pulling one's own arse out of the mud and getting it engaged in the proper gear.

For those that I've told, Jasper has fully recovered from her venture outside and the resulting scuffle with the local wildlife. Thankfully, my Mom came though with the extra cash I needed. While we had come to an understanding that she'd help me out as I tried to get something going with this writing thing, I can't avoid the fact that I need money in the more immediate sense for things. About $1400 worth of dental work still needs to be done; the price of my depressive neglect and lack of cash to visit the dentist after the last decent job and I parted ways. Then there is the matter of the creditors letters left unanswered...

Credit cards are bad, um'kay?

I'm just not sure how to respond to such a letter. I mean, yeah. It's my fault for living off credit cards for that year in Seattle. It's my fault for believing the original owner of the last major company I worked for. When he said he still wanted to do the project I should have known that he'd drag it out over months and then have the deal come out at under half of what was expected; cutting me out. And maybe I shouldn't be a little depressed that I haven't gotten a response for months now to an email I sent one of the guys still there. Maybe I should have stayed out there and fought for a part in it. I should have left my parents to figure out who would install ceramic tile, paint walls, put on a new roof and remove mold. Or maybe I should have never gone out there in the first place. Maybe I'd still have my bike and be saved from the nightmares about seeing someone being beaten to death for trying to help someone else.

I have to think of what a laugh it was that I screwed up and owed $2k in taxes because I was careless afterwards and how crazy it was to owe that much money just for cashing in most of my savings to survive. Tax cuts my ass!

Dear Trauner, Cohen, and Thomas,

First of all, I would like to thank you for the confidence it brings me to know that it takes three of you to write such a letter. You are shining examples of the best our law schools have to offer.

You write, "You have been given every reasonable opportunity to resolve this matter but refuse to do so." Up to this point I'm not aware of a single opportunity you have offered me, reasonable or otherwise. No offer like washing dishes until I paid for my dinner. No debtor harasser internship offers. Nothing. If you sent them, I never got them. No response is not a refusal. It's simply a lack of response.

You follow up with, "Due to your delinquency we have been instructed to pursue further action against you." Oh, so you guys aren't even in charge of yourselves. You can't make your own decisions? That's rough. By the wording it suggests you've already taken action "against" me. That's nice to know. Nice to know where you've been coming from.

Since I have no intention of ever contacting your office, I suppose you are going through with telling your client to take whatever action necessary to recover da moolah, which is probably somewhere in the "jack shit" area seeing as you probably know I don't have it, but your letter has been very inspiring to me. I figure that if bankruptcy is good enough for the likes of Worldcom and Burger King, it's good enough for me. I've always believed in paying off my debts, but you've convinced me that anyone willing to hire folks like you don't need my money. But most of all, you guys are inspirational for another reason.

"GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY." Indeed! That's the answer I was looking for. I declare myself sovereign King of Johnotica and hereby pardon all my debts. Now that that is done, I retire from my throne and shall start a new life.

Enjoy your life!

Sincerely,

Former King of Johnotica, John Namest.

It's important to know who to blame about what. I think Saddam, wherever he is, has my job hidden somewhere in the desert. The NYT can't tell me where it went. I don't blame the democrats or the republicans. I blame Free Market IT labor! Yeah, have you ever met a libertarian that wasn't stark raving mad or thinking about it? And when Bill Maher says he's a libertarian, it's because he crazy-scared of being labeled "liberal." And maybe I'm just being crazy myself, but your web design jobs are going to be farmed out to kids from the slums of New Delhi working at some Hole in the Wall. We should be happy that another generation will grow up to despise old farts that don't upgrade from Netscape 4 and suffer from people that think AOL actually makes a decent browser. Now Asshole IT CEO's can exploit people from all over the world! We should all become traders speculating on the New India-powered IT industry. We've gone Bollywood Baby! Tunak Tunak Tun! Forever!

We only tour during Gulf wars. There is something about that Bush family that gets my blood boiling. The music industry and the world as a whole have gotten so sedentary and mediocre and accepting of the status quo that I see the next punk rock coming really soon—and I don't mean Green Day rehashing Buzzcocks chords. I mean real change. People are so fed up. I was proud to be an American the other night, when we were playing in San Francisco and the protest march shut the city down. It was a momentous day for us. People are starting to realize that the Internet is not just a home-shopping club, but a really great way for exchanging information and ideas outside the mainstream media. The tide is turning. It's making me think there's hope for us yet.

-Al Jourgensen

He's gone a little wack
He's been reading Kerouac

And He's big on knowing
And not big on growing (Old)

Not when there's so much more to be this afternoon
These are fevered thoughts that always come after June

She's wise to all things small
She's got eyes on the ball

And not all are Her own
And time spent on the phone (cell)

Soon brings all things down to a manageable size
These are revered thoughts that make her among the wise

They are collecting songs
They are preventing wrongs

And they got so much time
And they send it down line (synchronously)

These bonds that have been made to beset the tragic
Are what sparks my belief in a world of magic

PostJuneWisdom

Indy Me Ya.

07.04.2003

(Thoughts on this 4th day of July)

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To us Americans much has been given; of us much is required. With all our faults and mistakes, it is our strength in support of the freedom our forefathers loved which has saved mankind from subjection to totalitarian power.

-Norman Thomas

In general, we have been too generous in the gift of office and power...to men who do not understand the genius of America and who have little awareness of the backgrounds of the American way of life...Most of us will agree that it makes little difference where or when a man was born if he had this vivid sense of American history, if he has learned to put Country above Party,...if freedom means more than personal security and if he refuses to tolerate appeasement of tyranny as the price of peace.

-McIlyar H. Lichliter

There is something about home that is undeniable. I've not been to every state, but I've seen enough to know there's much to love in the land itself and how it's mirrored in the people that live there. I've read enough about the history to know that to love America means to love it for what it wants to be and not condemn it for its failure-something all nations have in common-and at the same time never ignore those failures either.

A real love starts first at the first state of Delaware from its beaches to its deliciously tax-free shopping. Next is the state of Valley Forge and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (or "Pensylvania"), where the Liberty Bell hangs silent, but fills the air with its history. The last state to come forward in that December of 1787 was New Jersey with its rich farmland and home of the 2003 Stanley Cup Champions, the Devils.

Early in January, Georgia joins with its Plantations and the Appalachian Trail. Connecticut signs a week later and Massachusetts after another month. Massachusetts, where the "shot heard 'round the world" sounded the Lexington Alarm that roused the colonies to fight.

The alarm which was carried by a man with a drum on horseback, found Putnam ploughing in the field. Putnam merely unyoked his team from his plough, and bidding his boy to go home, and tell his mother where he was gone, mounted his horse, and dashed away down the road towards Boston. In twenty-four hours he was there, a distance in those days, of nearly one hundred miles.

- William Cutter, The Life of Israel Putnam, Major General in the Army of the American Revolution, 1850

We are all in motion here, and equipt from the town yesterday, one hundred young men, who cheerfully offered their service, twenty days provision and sixty-four rounds per man. They are all well armed and in high spirits. My brother has gone with them and others of the first property. Our neighboring towns are all arming and moving. Men of the first character shoulder their arms and march off for the field of action. We shall by night have several thousands from this Colony on their march…We fix on our standards and drums the Colony arms, with the motto "qui transtulit sustinet," round it in letters of gold, which we construe thus: "God, who transplanted us hither, will support us.

- a letter dated April 23rd from Wethersfield. The Record of Connecticut Men During the War of the Revolution 1889

As it was where men rallied to fight for independence, Connecticut was the entry point of the Underground Railroad. It's right next to the ever fun to spell Massachusetts and with its Cape Cod and limerick inspiring Nantucket Island.

I could take the whirlwind tour through the rest from Maryland to Arizona, the last of the contiguous states, to Alaska and finally Hawaii. Each state offers a unique part to the whole of America. We stand as individual citizens of a government "whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect Union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes." I pray that we never lose sight of these values no matter how troubled the times may seem for they are what make this nation great. They are what to love about it and what must be fought for.

America has proved that it is practicable to elevate the mass of mankind–the laboring or lower class–to raise them to self-respect, to make them competent to act a part in the great right and the great duty of self-government; and she has proved that this may be done by education and the diffusion of knowledge. She holds out an example a thousand times more encouraging than ever was presented before to those nine-tenths of the human race who are born without hereditary fortune or hereditary rank.

-Daniel Webster

It's that Mu Shu that you do.

06.29.2003

(From the Political to the Personal to the Pitiful)

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What if you were a lab rat that didn't like cheese? You are stuck in this maze and you don't know why. It can't be for that nasty piece of cheese. You want something better. Someone brought Chinese take-out to the lab. Is that Mu Shu pork? You got to get out of the maze. It's not there. You need to jump the walls. You need to break them down. As they watch you struggle, how would they know you're not some stupid rat? Defective. Useless. You got to jump your cage before they decide they've had enough of you. You got to go for the Mu Shu. That you do. That you do.

The passions are the winds that fill the sails of the vessel.–They sink it at times; but without them it would be impossible to make way.–Many things that are dangerous here below, are still necessary.

-Francois Marie de Voltaire (1694-1778)

It seems like such an easy thing to understand. People are different, but have a right to be treated as people. That means people have an intrinsic worth, dignity and that no one should inflict upon another a judgement based on the physical makeup of that person. These truths we hold as self-evident just as we value liberty in the pursuit of happiness. Not the happiness you choose for me, but individual happiness.

People feel differently. People have differing incomes and backgrounds. People are free to be ignorant too.

Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools or as boarders in their home

Justice Antonin Scalia

What clearly eludes many that claim that this is a "Culture War" between the individual and the family is that we are all individuals, except for that one guy in Life of Brian, but he's in denial. They also seem to be blind to the fact that consensual sex is the surest way to improve human relationships and that there's no-as Scalia claims-"homosexual agenda" to destroy the family. If anything, it's to rebuild it in more human terms rather than the so-called divinely decreed unions that-oddly enough-end in divorce on a daily basis. It also displays a stunningly stupid idea that allowing homosexual relationships to operate within the law somehow will result in a (Scalia again) "massive disruption of the current social order." WHAT SOCIAL ORDER?

Oh yeah, those family values, right? These are the family values taught by the Church. It doesn't really matter which apparently. The Jehovah's Witnesses can't hold anything over the Catholic Church for their commitment to the family. That's what this is all about. It's the desperate attempt to grasp on to the illusion of a happy family that's only existed on old TV shows. It's so desperate that it's willing to let the abuse of children continue rather than face the failure of these unchanging, unfeeling religions. These religions that are dead, but refuse to admit it and their fetid corpses taint the whole world. They point to the evil of Islam and deny their own evil. In 1857 there was another American Massacre on the 11th of September.

On Sept. 7, 1857, a wagon train of about 120 settlers was enjoying breakfast in a particularly verdant valley in Utah when a shot rang out and one of the children fell dead. Believing themselves to be under Indian attack, the settlers circled their wagons and prepared for a long and thirsty siege. The gunfire from the unseen attackers was murderous and cruel; when the settlers sent two little girls outside the circle for water, they were instantly shot dead.

After four days of heat, thirst and endless sniping, the settlers were thrilled to see a party of white riders approaching under an American flag. They quickly found themselves captured by them, however. And then, on Sept. 11, the "rescuers" suddenly turned and in three minutes slaughtered with knife, axe and gun every man, woman, and child of the settlers older than 8. The tiny ones–hysterical, blood-soaked, in some cases wounded–were carried off to nearby farms.

The attackers were Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the massacre at Mountain Meadows is the most painful event in the church's relatively short but altogether fascinating history.

-Dan Baum, A timely look at religious violence (Chicago Tribune: Book Section, p. 3, June 22, 2003.

After the massacre, the current President, James Buchannan, did not want to risk sending troops to Utah for that and for Brigham Young's announcement in March of that year that Utah would follow it's own laws. War was brewing with the Southern states at the time and Buchannan did not want to risk fighting the Mormons too. So it went largely unpunished and uninvestigated. Their denial of history taints them like the Jehovah's Witness's pedophile database.

It gets tiring fighting against these hate-filled ignorant bastards claiming to be what they are not. It's like how Antonin Scalia talks against affirmative action without realizing the huge amount of affirmative action that was necessary to put such an obviously bigoted and idiotic asshole as himself in a Justice seat. It's how anyone can defend Strom Thurmond or have kept him in office all those years. It makes one wonder just how long it's going to take to get anywhere. Maybe we have to wait for the research to pile up from countries more progressive than ours before we can start to have sensible laws in this country. It's tiring.

You'd think we'd progress a little as a species. Is peace in the Middle-East possible in the long run? Will they continue to hold up old books as proof of their right to kill others over land? Do you really think any loving God would care who lives where? Wasn't the whole point of a Promised Land, a promise of peace and doesn't that start by getting along with the people already there? And why should we expect them to get along when we can barely keep from killing each other over parking spaces, shoes, or injured pride?

I acknowledge that there are always complications on every scale, from the personal to the international. I acknowledge that I may be wrong. I acknowledge that all we can do is our best, that we may fail, that we have a right to be afraid, that something does indeed have to be done. I admit that there has been bluster and rhetoric and name calling on all sides. It is time to end it. We must love one another or die.

-Ezrael (buy his book!)

Domesticable animals are all alike; every undomesticable animal is undomesticable in its own way.

If you think you've already read something like that before, you're right. Just make a few changes, and you have the famous first sentence of Tolstoy's great novel Anna Karenina: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." By that sentence, Tolstoy meant that, in order to be happy, a marriage must succeed in many different respects: sexual attraction, agreement about money, child discipline, religion, in-laws, and other vital issues. Failure in any one of those essential respects can doom a marriage even if it has all the other ingredients needed for happiness.

- Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel, the very beginning of Chapter 9: Zebras, Unhappy Marriages and the Anna Karenina Principle

So many people want to put the blame how many marriages fail on one thing or another. I tend to believe it's just a matter of the fact that now you don't have to kill your mate in order to get out of an unhappy marriage, though some still seem unable to resist doing that anyway. Passion can be a murderous bitch. Then there's always the problem of not having enough.

For a long time I've held a pretty cynical position toward the whole institution and I can't say I'm entirely free of that now. It has been strange to see both my brothers and a good number of friends make the plunge, but I know others that are going the other way. Then there's my parent's situation and that's rather complex.

I've been living with my Dad for a while now. I had come back from Seattle to try and start over and to help my parents sell the Wheaton house. When that was done, I helped my Dad get through a hip replacement surgery and settle into his new place. That's done now too. So I've been trying to restart my life and I've had to strip away a lot of the excuses and crap that's been slowing me down. It's easy to procrastinate and to let pride get in the way of just getting any old job. Another problem is that just living with my Dad has become a huge burden. We are moving in completely different directions and it's sometimes painful for me to accept the things that I can not change in him. Maybe it will help if I take a step back.

Our family started in a 3rd floor apartment on the north side of Chicago. We lived above some wonderful people that had a son and we were good friends. His father designed games in his spare time and I think I developed my appreciation for all things that were games from him. Eventually we moved a block down the street into a house until 1988.

So I grew up predominately as a city kid, but outside of the harsher living conditions of the inner city. We still had plenty of crime in the neighborhood. There were known gang members living on the block. Our house was burglarized at least three times with several more unsuccessful attempts. One time one of our good friends that was house sitting while we were on vacation found an 18-year-old punk robbing the place. They fought and she was stabbed and locked in the basement, but eventually managed to get out by using a screwdriver to bust open the door and call for help.

I've had my bike stolen bike an 8 or so year old kid while I was buying candy at the school store. I chased him for several blocks until I caught him in the foyer of his apartment. I contemplated calling the cops or kicking his ass as his mother yelled at me in another language. I wasn't much older than him, but I couldn't bring myself to do anything and I left.

There were fights all the time, but few signs of drugs in those days. That changed as soon as we moved to Wheaton. The kids there had money to buy them and that made all the difference in the world. I managed to stay away from all that until after I left HS. It helped that I didn't get along nor want to get along with anyone from that HS, though I still managed to gain a few friends. I didn't fit in with the suburban kids and that's why I could relate to Ghost World.

My ghost-like sailing through HS was not the "lead by example" kind of thing for my brothers and much trouble ensued during those years. It didn't help that my Dad got laid off and seemed unable to motivate himself properly to get a job. It's possible that being over 50 at the time and having to deal with rampaging teenagers at home was a little hard to deal with. I am trying to be understanding about these things, but at the time I was working as many as two jobs to pay for the college classes I was attending. That left my mother to bear the brunt of the financial burden and almost all the housework, which ended up being too much.

Eventually the stress got to the point that she was worried about it affecting her work, so she left. No divorce or legal separation, she just left. The fact that this didn't generate any change in my father's behavior created a huge rift between us and I took the first opportunity I could to get out of that house.

That came in the form of a job doing Virtual Reality training simulations in 1995. I had not completed college, but I knew a good opportunity when I saw one. It ended up being the best job I've ever had and where I made some of my strongest friendships. But not only did I bury myself in the work, I hid away from the problems of my family and from attempts to enter into any relationships.

I always had one foot out the door and that prevented me from doing a lot of things. Like thinking about my future and I guess it made more sense to commit to nothing. Keep my options open. And that's suicide by tiny, tiny, increments.

-Rob Gordon in High Fidelity

So eventually the high-tech industry succumbed to the dot con greed of its investors and I found myself home again.

You can't really help but share characteristics with your parents to some degree. We all strive to focus on the positive aspects of that blend, but sometimes when you are too close it becomes hard to differentiate yourself or at least it's harder to pretend that you couldn't get that bad.

Bill Hicks turned the difficulty in his relationship with his father into comedy. It's not that easy for everyone, but keeping a sense of humor about things can make all the difference in the world. Thankfully I got my Mom's sense of humor, but I also inherited her desire to fix other people's problems; sometimes at the expense of her own.

I've spent countless hours trying to piece together my father's situation; his thinking, his health. Then there's everything my Mother is going through and the fact that she's involved in so many other people's lives just like her Mother. She is helping them and yet there's this hole in her own life and it doesn't seem like it's going to get repaired. It's hard to step back and face the fact that you can't always help people that can't help themselves and that don't seem able to motivate themselves to make the required changes. I thought talking would help, but it's often met with silence or defensive talk that goes in circles and is filled with excuses.

That's the thing. There's always more excuses. The human mind is masterful in its ability to constantly generate them. There are excuses for everything in your life if you really want to have them. Guilt is something for those too lazy to excuse their way out of it. Of course, making excuses is a lot easier then actually doing anything about a situation. Sure there is pain in progress, but it's better than regression or stagnation, right?

And that's something that I've learned recently from someone and I love her for that. Well, that's not the only thing, but it's just an example of one of the more recent things. It's important to me, because I have become more aware of when I am making an excuse and that's pretty powerful.

I'd love to make money for writing this particular site. I'd like to expand it into doing more detailed essays on movies, books, and other cultural facets. A full-time one-man media empire would probably require segregating the personal a bit more. Can such an idea make money or is it all about profiting from other people trying to get laid?

Perhaps I'm just spoiled a bit. I used to have a job that I loved and I want that again. Writing on the web is lovely, but content has been cheapened and unless you are willing to be fairly mainstream (haha me? NEVER! Look how hard it is for me to adopt a CMS) it will never add up to much. Why else would so many promising sites fail?

So it's a safer bet to give up on turning your website into a cashmachine or surviving outside the circle of semi-traditional publishing. You have a better chance at promoting your book.

I don't have any excuse for not writing my own book. Not that I'm left-handed or left-leaning or that I have carpal tunnel in my right hand, or that I don't have proper feeling on the upper-right hemisphere of my head. So...um I guess I should start writing.

The Pundits do it, You do it, even woggers do it

06.25.2003

(Pundits are people too)

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The country is headed toward a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and monied incorporations and if this tendency continues it will be the end of freedom and democracy, the few will be ruling and riding over the plundered plowman and the beggar . . . I hope we shall take warning from the example of England and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to trial and bid defiance to the laws of our country. I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies

- Thomas Jefferson

The administration's story is coming apart at the seams and the neocon nuisance may finally be waning.

The neo-conservative agenda is a particular threat to liberty - perhaps greater than the ideologically spent ideas of left-liberalism. Always a movement of bright intellectual leaders, neo-conservatism has mostly been a movement with a head but no body. One rarely runs into a neo-con on the street.

Underlying neo-conservatism is a desire to reshape America and the world through the efforts of a robust federal government. For years The Weekly Standard, the neo-conservative magazine, has pushed for initiatives to reinforce US international power. Merely living in a free society appears to be insufficient for neo-conservatives.

During George W. Bush's campaign for president, the neo-conservative influence was felt in domestic policy ideas such as faith-based initiatives that would involve the federal government in private local charities, often with a religious orientation. It was also seen in the call for a greater federal role in local education. These are both inconsistent with the concepts of limited government and federalism.

-Edward Crane and William Niskanen, Upholding liberty in America

It's interesting to see the serious effort put forth by some to justify the war and all the lying that went into it. Is it so hard to admit that it was a bad idea that it's only going to make things worse?

...But there's a premise here that strikes me as off-base. The premise is that after 9/11, only rock-solid evidence of illicit weapons prgrams and proven ties to terrorists could justify a pre-emptive war to depose Saddam. But the point of 9/11 was surely the opposite: that the burden of proof now lay on people denying such a threat, not those fearing it. Would I rather we had an administration that remained Solomon-like in the face of inevitably limited and muddled intelligence and sought the kind of rock-solid consensus on everything that would satisfy Jacques Chirac or the BBC (or John Kerry)? Or would I rather we had a president who realized that post-9/11 it was prudent to be highly concerned about such weapons and connections and better, by and large, to be safe than sorry? Condi was clear about this distinction: "There will always be some uncertainty about how quickly [Saddam] can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." I don't think that's hype. I think it's prudence...

-Andrew Sullivan

This kind of argument is the result of an incomplete knowledge concerning nuclear proliferation, Saddam's political goals, and diplomacy. It's not prudence, it's an excuse to make the wrong decision that has led us into the position of trying to give Iraq a democracy when it's becoming clear that as bad as Saddam was, he kept it from becoming a theocracy and it's not clear we can prevent it from happening eventually. We don't have a good track record in nation building. Set aside your examples of the reconstruction of the Japanese and German governments after WWII, because they had a completely different cultural history that made democratic change easier. There was no decades long dictatorship ravaging the country of everyone that made the slightest hint of dissent.

It is warmongering. It is not accepting any alternative viewpoints and creating an atmosphere in the White House where those views are marginalized into silence. If we were willing to send weapons inspectors back to Iraq, why were we not willing to give them any teeth? The moment the inspectors were delayed or prevented from gaining access to a building they should have been able to call in an air strike. Do you think that would have been better than a war? Wow, targeted enforcement of inspections! What's so hard about that?

Again, the logic is impeccable. If you have just waged a war in part to ensure that one hostile dictatorship in the Middle East cannot achieve WMD capacity, how can you sit around and watch a more urgent threat take shape and form?

But this use of force would be entirely targeted on WMD capacity - and only as a very last resort. It is not U.S. policy to promote actual regime change in Iran through military force. As a paid-up member of the neocon cabal in Washington D.C. (we meet in secret every month to plot the American take-over of the entire world), I can assure you that no one is interested in an invasion. And no one wants to add to the military and logistical strain of rescuing the broken country of Iraq next door. So the question essentially comes down to how to achieve regime change without armed invasion.

- Andrew Sullivan, Iran's Moment: How To Seize It

Again with the impeccable lack of logic. Andrew's assurance is not worth spit. If anything, it's clear that they have no clue what to do next and are testing the waters (polling them to be more accurate).

Iraq and Afghanistan may eventually become better places, but there is no evidence that war was the proper delivery system to safety. In fact, it's becoming clear that things are likely to get worse before they get better. Our forces there may be doing more harm than good as the pressures of long term occupation takes its toll. They were not trained to be peacekeepers, nation builders, or care givers.

The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy. ... I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him.

- Corporal Ryan Dupre, March 2003.

A lot of soldiers have returned from this war with the idea that this war was unnecessary.

-Staff Sgt. Bradley E. Owens, June 2003

I've been trying to avoid the political rant because politics seem so crazy these days and sometimes I think it can rub off on those that cover it constantly. Sometimes the best defense against that is to keep a sense of humor about it all. I am grateful for all the folks out there keeping tabs on things.

After reading this it made me think about how people are either too afraid or blinded by vanity to take a hard look at where this administration seems to want the country to go and how so often people suffer from partisan paralysis when it comes to talking about their own party's transgressions.

The appeal to vanity is again obvious in such cases as that of Bernard Shaw (in what has been described as "the most frivolous episode in history") when he returned to the USSR at the height of the Stalinist famine and reported an overfed population. So with the supposedly more solid figure of H. G. Wells - another Fabian, but one who had been hostile to Communism and regarded Stalin as a dictator. When Stalin gave him an audience in 1935, Wells was won over - his trust in his own powers of personality assessment enabling him to say of Stalin that he had "never met a man more candid, fair and honest," attributing these qualities to "his remarkable ascendancy over the country since no one is afraid of him and everyone trusts him." A remarkable example of faith in one's intuition - with Wells, like others, throwing some of his not negligible public weight to the Stalinist side. Flattery of major Western intellectuals played a part, together with according them the glamour of official reception and VIP treatment (described to me by a veteran Communist as "banquet politics"). Still, a con job needs a con man and a sucker. In their case many suckers even managed not to take in what they saw with their own eyes, or rather somehow to process unpleasantness mentally into something acceptable. Malcolm Muggeridge describes Quakers applauding tank parades, feminists delighted at the sight of women bowed down under a hundredweight of coal, architects in ecstasies over ramshakle buildings just erected and already crumbling away. It has been said that many visitors to the USSR came with Potemkin villages built into their organs of perception. Mind-set seems too strong a word: these were minds like jelly, ready for the master's imprint. As George Orwell complained, "Huge events like the Ukraine famine of 1933, involving the deaths of millions of people, have actually escaped the attention of the majority of English russophiles." As he implies, this was an intellectual and moral disgrace on a massive scale.

-Robert Conquest, Reflections on a Ravaged Century(p. 121)

A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.

- GK Chesterton

You may have forgotten by now the Jefferson quote that started this post. After all the words on weblogging that have appeared on here recently, I haven't touched on what it can do pretty well and that's pass the word around about corruption and keep the fires burning under those that need to change their ways.

Americans are out of work. Factory orders are sluggish. The economic news is grim yet the U.S. stock market keeps going up. Can this be consistent? Sure! It is possible to believe simultaneously that the American people are getting poorer and that the largest American corporations are going to get ever richer. How could this happen? Group A and Group B can get richer if they work together to grow the pie. Alternatively, Group B can get richer by transferring wealth from Group A.

We've discussed this already in this blog in the context of airline CEOs who managed to take $billions in taxpayer money and transfer quite a bit of it into their personal checking accounts as salaries, bonuses, guaranteed pensions, etc. But there are more subtle ways in which corporations can acquire property formerly held by the public.

- Philip Greenspun

The problem with business today is that the bottom line and shareholder profit are the primary focus and that ethical considerations come second or worse. This may have been easy to get away with a few decades ago, but an informed and active public fueled by online communications will make it less profitable to ignore environmental issues and it will slow the power grab.

Of course, being smart has nothing to do with being right or fully aware of all components of a particular topic. It would be nice to see Phil actual address some of those comments on his post.

My point is that we have the technology and instead of bragging about how wonderful it is, why not make some use of it? It's like how this recent post by Jett Superior points out the flaws in MSN research and then there's Nastasha's one, two, three part post on Asperger's Syndrome or life as an Aspie. There's so much out there to read and learn that I could never suggest that anyone buy a book about the process.

You write, then you post it. And masturbate. It's magic.


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