Monday, December 13, 2004

Gerald Allen: the blood on his hands.

Once again I am proud to be from Alabama. The state I love comes up with new and more insane ways to aggressively defend the national and international perception of it being the most bigoted backwards-ass place on the planet. Thank you, representative gerald allen (tuscaloosa, 50 miles from my parents' home) for making sure that bigotry remains the number one association that people have when they hear the word "alabama".

a little on how he has done us so proud (from the Guardian)

Guardian Unlimited | Arts features | 'We have to protect people'

>What should we do with US classics like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or The Color Purple? "Dig a hole," Gerald Allen recommends, "and dump them in it." Don't laugh. Gerald Allen's book-burying opinions are not a joke.

Earlier this week, Allen got a call from Washington. He will be meeting with President Bush on Monday. I asked him if this was his first invitation to the White House. "Oh no," he laughs. "It's my fifth meeting with Mr Bush."

Bush is interested in Allen's opinions because Allen is an elected Republican representative in the Alabama state legislature. He is Bush's base. Last week, Bush's base introduced a bill that would ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that "promote homosexuality". Allen does not want taxpayers' money to support "positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle". That's why Tennessee Williams and Alice Walker have got to go.

I ask Allen what prompted this bill. Was one of his children exposed to something in school that he considered inappropriate? Did he see some flamingly gay book displayed prominently at the public library?

No, nothing like that. "It was election day," he explains. Last month, "14 states passed referendums defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman". Exit polls asked people what they considered the most important issue, and "moral values in this country" were "the top of the list".<

By 'moral values' did you mean anything about caring for the poor, or helping the sick, or caring for the depressed and hurt among you? When you invoke moral values, are you invoking caring for your fellow man as you do for yourself? Does this mean calling for honesty and openness from our public officials and holding them accountable for how their policies affect our fellow man, at home and abroad?

No, when you say 'moral values' you mean 'bigotry'. Plain and simple, the 'moral values' vote was the bigot vote. You meant ostracizing and punishing the 'different' people. It is harder these days to get away with flat out, overt racism (although you already know how I feel about folks who like to say it isn't still a problem), so cultural bigotry is the new, acceptible racism (find Mason's rant in the archives on Abu Ghraib for more on this). Domestically, homos are the big easy target.

And when the representatives put us in their bullseye, so do others. Other alabamians decided to skip the book burnings and go straight on to burning the faggots:

Scotty Joe Weaver and Billy Jack Gaither

Billy Jack was killed around the time of Matthew Shepard, but he was older and less pretty, so the national media didn't really care when he was beaten to death and burned on a pile of kerosene soaked tires. Only the gay media really covered it at all and alabama turned a largely blind eye to what happened.

So it happened again. Scotty Joe was attacked and killed and burned as well. And yes these deaths happened before you got it in your fool mind that there should be no positive representations of homosexuals available to kids in alabama, and no you didn't commit these crimes, representative allen, but when you say there should be no positive representation of us available, you are painting a big bullseye on the head of every poor gay kid who stays stuck in what you are determined to keep a violent, bigoted backwater of a state. The blood of these men is on your hands and so will be the blood of the next. You are loading bullets in the guns that troubled homosexual adolescents will be blowing their own brains out with; you are pouring the kerosene on the pile of tires that will be used to burn the next victim.

Lynching niggers is out, so lets burn the faggots.

You can cry all you want that that isn't what you meant, but you be very sure of this: it is what you are doing.

And you better be very thankful of your relationship with Jesus, because he is the only one who might forgive you.

And yes, I do take this very personally. I got out in one piece, but it wasn't a given that I would and there were more than a few that I know that didn't. I am well educated and mobile and able to chose where I live and who I surround myself with, but that is not the option available to every (or even most) gay kid(s). The average gay person isn't like the representations on Will and Grace. Most gay people aren't wealthy and happy and educated. Plenty of us are, because we aren't given much of a choice (find a way out or die), but so many more are still hacking it out in hostile environments. Being able to get married isn't their biggest issue and whether or not the hot guy at the gym noticed them or which party they should go to are not their biggest dilemmas. Their lives just became a little more dangerous.

I am sad tonight...

I haven't really used this whole blog thing much for personal emoting; generally not my thing. I am much better at bitching about politics and such. But everyone else in the house is asleep and I am sad.

The things I want to say and can't won't let me sleep.

A child at camp who claimed to be able to see others' auras, once told me my aura was black and looked creeped out like if he looked at me too long his soul would be sucked away. He had been telling everyone else that their auras were happy pretty colors and meant fun nice things like they were very understanding or good empathizers or were more interesting than they first appeared. And he told everyone about their 'psychic' abilities. "You sometime can feel things before they happen" or "Your orange inner aura reveals that you have strong psychic powers" or whatever. All the kids were eating the shit up, whch was amusing and all and we were having to wait while folks did some individual stuff in the diving class we were teaching, so anything that keeps the idle kids from trying to entertain themselves was a welcome diversion even if half a dozen teenage girls trying to practice their psychic abilities can quickly become annoying.

Point being, after looking at me in horror and declaring my aura (inner/outer/all of it) black, one of the other kids asked if I had any psychic ability, to which he responded, "No, he has absolutely no psychic ability whatsoever. None, not a bit." which struck me as a bit rude and the kids started making fun until he followed up with, "He doesn't need any; he just knows things." That struck me as kind of nice.

but as our title declares, sometimes awareness is painful.

sometimes i wish i didn't just know things.

tonight i wish i didn't.

but i do and sleep won't come.

Friday, December 10, 2004

He's too insensitive to notice discrimination, let's make him head of the civil rights panel.

Here is your reason to throw up for the day:

"I just assume somewhere in my life some knucklehead has looked at me and my brown self and said that they have given me less or denied me an opportunity," said the chairman, Gerald A. Reynolds, 41, an African-American lawyer. "But the bottom line is, and my wife will attest to this, I am so insensitive that I probably didn't notice."

The New York Times > National > Shift Toward Skepticism for Civil Rights Panel

A conservative black lawyer who says he has never noticed any discrimination in his life? Were he and dr. rice hatched out of the same damn pod?

A man who called affermative action "a big lie" is now in charge of the government watchdog panel for civil rights. Yes, we can expect much from him.

Can we talk about affirmative action for a minute? This back to my earlier post on WASPs in this country who are the biggest fucking babies about so much. Any time the scale isn't tipped in the white, christian's blatant favor on any issue, there is a call to arms. If one more comfortable upper middle-class butthole start crying over affirmative action to me, I am going to kick them in their shins. You don't get an advantage? It should all be merit based? Like hell you don't get an advantage and their are other things besides GPA's. The stinking nekkid emperor got everything in his life on affirmative action instead of merit. He got into an ivy league school because his father went there, not because of his grades. He got business deals, and hauled out of them when he was a miserable failure, because of who is father was. He got political backing and the 'extra' help he needed to take the presidency because of his family. He did not accomplish on thing on his own or by merit his whole life, but he will bitch about Affirmative Action. Affirmative action in my book is anything which gives you an advantage to help you get ahead which is not based on your personal accomplishments. He (and every middle-class white person in America) has recieved it in spades.

And for Mr. Reynolds, you take a good look around and you will see the bigotry. This last election hinged on it. But really, man, just because every instance hasn't crippled you doesn't mean it isn't there. You are from New York? Do you ever take cabs? No, they aren't that tough to hail. If you are in the city, watch a black person, well dressed or not, try to hail a cab. I have on more than one occassion seen cabs with their lights on drive past a black man in a suit just to pick up a white kid in ratty jeans down the block. Trouble with cabs may be an annoying thing, more than threatening, but it is symptomatic.

Racism is not what it was in 1950, but if you think it doesn't play a role in your daily life today, you are an idiot. You can refuse to let it stop you or weigh on your mind and choose to just do with what you have. Fine, all admirable options, but don't try to tell everyone that they are crazy and life is fair and race isn't an issue any more in America.

Monday, December 06, 2004

sick and tired christian 'victims'

My cousin sends from time to time what are often the most obnoxious stupid forwards I have ever read. The silly forward-this-and-microsoft-will-give-you-money letters are annoying, but easily enough deleted without ruffling my feathers. It is the white-people-who-call-themselves-christians-and-worship-a-fictional-version-of-the-past-but-now-cast-themselves-as-victims letters that make me want to puke.

For two main reasons:

1) If you are a christian, white person in America, any oppression you may feel has nothing to do with either being christian or white. If anything, you are given advatages that other people can only dream of. If you are truly being oppressed or marginalized, it is because of your lack of wealth or education or both. Otherwise, you are probably just whining and you need to stop bitching about the way things used to be and be happy about what you have and help those who have less.

If you find that people have a negative reaction to you because you are a christian, you might take a good hard look at what kind of christian you are. Saying you are a christian and running around swinging your religion like a weapon won't make you any friends except among the other greedy, warring types. Most people I know who wear their christian mantle like a banner wouldn't think twice about passing a homeless person who is begging in the streets without so much as looking their way. Everyone seems to have lost their 'WWJD?' bracelets these days, which leads to my second complaint...

2) If you claim Christianity as your faith and Christ as your spiritual leader, but do not give to the poor, you are a hollow excuse for a Christian. When I say give to the poor, I mean truly give when someone needs without all the stupid judgemental excuses and contorted reasons for not helping. What do YOU do? If you are wealthy and comfortable, you have no (nada, none, zero) place lecturing anyone else about Christian values. You can share your abundance, you can share your peace and your joy, you can offer to help them, but shut the hell up about how you deserve what you have and how others should work harder and how the lord blesses you.

In the letter that my cousin sent today that got me all twisted and pissed off, it included this line:

"Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights."

WTF?!?! "Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek..." is damn near the stupidest rant I have ever heard. Turning the other cheek wasn't supposed to be fun or easy. It was supposed to be the right thing to do. It was supposed to be a testament to your selflessness and your faith in God. It was supposed to be symbolic of your faith in God's plan, an unflinching personal response to worldly conflict. These sad misguided invocations of bastardized christian values are pathetic and craven at best. 'Blasphemous' is probably the better description.

Too many people do not want to believe in free will or personal responsibility. They want their 'christianity' handed to them, inherited from their superior parents and as a testament to having been chosen. Christianity is not a birthright or a weapon. Those who treat it as either belittle and slander what is beautiful in its message.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

the cake that is baking...

Josh Marshall over at talkingpointsmemo has been talking about the need for the democrats to position themselves as a true opposition party. I really couldn't agree with him more (although he might put it a little differently than I do).

The dems in congress really have to learn (as Charlie Pierce has been imploring them for sometime now) to just say 'no'. Wouldn't Nancy be proud? But seriously, let them (the republicans and such) have their cake and eat it too. The one they are baking now is not going to taste very good.

For God's sake just refuse to do a damn thing if they aren't going to listen and scream bloody hell about how they are screwing everything up! Really, just say no. They can pass what they want without you, so why the hell not take the moral high ground and keep your names off some of their crap legislation? Support the good stuff and tell them to take a hike when they present shit. I know there will be hemming and hawing and plenty of arm twisting; fine. Just make sure that at the end of the day, when it goes on the record, when the majority party is trying to flex their muscle that you say "I object."

It's their cake. Let them have it. Don't help them ice it, don't help them cut it, don't help them serve it. They chose the ingredients and how to cook it, let them eat it. You aren't the head cooks anymore but you better make it loud and clear that you know and accept that or they will be blaming their burnt shit on you.

Monday, November 29, 2004

burned food items as religious icons...(or 'for-sale-piety might as well be edible')

Thank God (who may or may not chose to reveal him/herself to you in your food) there is no end to coverage of the Mary on the sandwich being sold on ebay, since otherwise there would be nothing worth reporting. I guess the sarcasm falls flat when this is the subject on which I chose to comment after barely writing anything for a couple of weeks, but there are several things I find interesting and annoying about this.

I really don't mind some lady sincerely believing that Mary has come to her in her grilled cheese. Despite a protestant upbringing which frowns upon... well, damn near everything (mostly southern baptist, but thankfully also a little Methodist), but particularly on stuff such as superstitious beliefs, I totally find little signs comforting in everyday life. I have a Hello Kitty! toaster which burns her face into my bread each morning and I completely take how clearly the face burns into the bread as a direct omen towards how my day is going to go. No, I don't stay at home if my toasts burns or the face is indistiguishable, but it is one of those silly little things that makes my life a little easier. Frankly, compared to many of our institutions, superstition isn't looking so bad these days. (note: by superstition I do not mean to be derisive, but rather using it as a catch-all for finding spiritual significance or control in the way everyday, not explicitly religious or spiritual activities, and not in a holistic, 'everything is spiritual' kind of way but rather a event specific omen/talisman kind of way)

I kind of do find annoying (ok, I find it insanely annoying)the idea that someone believes God appeared to them in their snack and then subsequently believes it a good idea to sale said direct divine communique to the highest bidder. But I guess if folks auctioning off their piety for personal gain has to be on the news, I'll take the grilled cheese lady over james dobson or jerry faldwell or pat robertson or the nekkid emperor. She at least seems more sincere and I imagine her 13 year old grilled cheese would be easier to stomach.

Really though, if we need people who find pictures in food on tv, can somebody find that great lady who used to come on the tonight show with her collection of potato chips that looked like celebrities?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Matters of importance...

I haven't been blogging much lately. Things have been busy and I haven't really had a whole lot of extra time near a computer. We all needed a little bit of a break after all the election crap and I am no exception. Having screamed my bloody head off for so many months (really, I think I have been screaming for as long as I can remember, and given how things are looking, I see no end in sight), I had to turn my attention to matters of great importance which I had been neglecting. So over the last couple of weeks, I have repotted plants and brought in those that were still outside and gave the aquarium in my bedroom a makeover (it had basically been a swamp full of duckweed, Salvinia, hairgrass, and snails).

I moved my Brugmansia (angel's trumpet) indoors and am anxious to see how it will fair indoors. It had been badly battered by the wind and only bloomed right at the end of the summer. I cut it back and put it in a big planter and it is already sending out new leaves and seems happy so far. Our living room is well lit with southern exposure, so hopefully it will thrive. If I can get it to bloom indoors over the winter, I'm throwing a party.

My geraniums aren't quite so happy, but if they will hang on through the winter they will be huge when I start them again in the spring.

In my old established fish tank, my polypterus is protesting no longer having a regular supply of guppies to eat by targetting the arulius barbs. He has managed to take one down and leave a hole in another one's tail. These guys are full grown and several inches long, so this is no small accomplishment. They have been holy terrors since I first introduced them almost a year ago and at times wished Jackson (the polypterus) would just eat them and be done with it, but recently they had calmed down and started showing their adult coloration and the males' dorsal fins have grown out and I was enjoying them. I am feeding more often now and calling my friend with too many guppies to try to prevent further ichthycide.

I also took out the watersprite that had taken over the top of the tank and everything is looking so much better now. The tiny water lettuce and the riccia at the top have been growing great and look much better on the surface. The cryptocornes are spreading through the sand slowly and the java moss is finally attaching to the driftwood and rocks. (for those of you that are not fish/plant people, sorry, politics needed a break)

In the new tank in my room, after weeding back some of the existing plants and getting the substrate (sand) and water ready, I went a little insane with fish and plants. I noticed I had a little money in the bank and all my bills paid, and there were cute little South American puffers at the LFS, so I snapped them up and started populating the tank. Well, I moved three banjo cats in from smaller living quarters, and got a few new plants, and suddenly two SA puffers turned into 6 corydora, 2 marbled talking catfish, 8 glassfish, and 3 spiketail gouramis. A little overboard, but it is a nice sized tank and the fish seem happy and I can't stop watching the tank. Now comes the trouble with trying to not add anything else.

anyway, I'll get back to rants and snark soon enough, but the fish and plants are currently keeping me sane, so expect to hear about them from time to time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

ashcroft resigns!!! Ding dong, the witch is...being replaced.

Yes, one of the uglier witches is finally leaving Munchkinland, but unfortunately it isn't because a house landed on his head and it ain't Dorothy who got the slippers. Key player in bush's nation of retards, john ashcroft will be remembered fondly for such kind heart-warming things as indefinite detentions and the erosion of civil liberties. He truly has been a real, american douche-bag. I wish him all the best as he moves on to pursue a singing career.

But lest we be overjoyed and come crawling out of our flower and mushroom munchkin hiding places too quickly, he has been replaced by another dark overlord, alberto gonzales. Yes, that alberto gonzales. The man responsible for writing the legal opinion on how to toture folks and ditch the Geneva Convention and get away with it. Yes, this is obviously the person we want to be interpreting the constitution in an official capacity.

For all of you who want to scream, "but they are the bad guys; screw the Geneva Convention and they deserve to be tortured blah blah blah" remember this: when you see someone beheaded on tv, when you hear tales from our troops who get imprisoned who are tortured and treated like animals, when civilians are targeted in Iraq, our president had this man throw our grounds for moral objections to all this out the window. Oh yes, we the people can call these things monstrous (they absolutely are), but our president looked at them and said they don't matter. The Geneva Convention was the international aggreement that these things be considered war crimes and reprehensible. The man now interpretting the Constitution and our laws for the federal government disagrees.

More houses need to fall from the sky.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Aversion to reality: congenital disorder, signs of early onset dementia, or product of faulty upbringing

I with that it could be as simple as any of those.

I have been thinking over and over again about the quote from the Suskind article where he describes being told about the short comings of the reality based community (I don't feel like linking to the article right now or searching out the exact quote, that is why you have google). It makes a creepy sense to me, but in a depressing-craven-bastardization-of-something-familiar kind of way.

I am happily the friend of willful delusion and imagination and life following art. I have often felt that the truth can be a brutal and unwieldy thing if not approached with consideration, but I have no great aversion to it. But those moves and shakers out there like mr. rove and co. who consider themselves free from the constraints of reality are no artists or visionaries. They are fat, lying little pigs rewriting the rules on the side of the barn at night, adding their "...but some are more equal than others," while we sleep.

But it is not that leaders can be selfish and greedy which is so disturbing; that is not new or special. It is also how complicit our populous can be. The feeling currently turning my stomach is not just that people believe this crap because they want to support our president and don't want to believe he could be as horrible as a clear view and analysis makes clear, but that people would rather know that horrible things are happening elsewhere in their name than see uncomfortable things up close.

In particular I am going back the gay crap that I have kind of been harping about lately. Actually, not just homosexuality, but any uncomfortable social issues which are used as political rallying cries (which currently seems to be homos and abortions). I hear people who use these as their starting points for judging any candidate and rarely get any sensible statement on either subject out of them. I understand that not everyone will feel the same way about these issues and I certainly don't see either in black and white, but when someone who has a rigid take on either usually doesn't have much of an understanding of it beyond their solid prejudice. They begin and end with not liking that the issue exists at all and are insanely drawn to whoever will reinforce this bigotry.

How can a person cling so dearly to hatred and ignorance? Again, I don't mind well thoughtout disagreement, but when a person begins and finishes arguements on subjects with "it's just not right" and refuses to try for any deeper understanding, I am left speechless and horrified, whether they are talking about homosexual, black people, immigrants, Muslims, whatever. I am beginning to get this sinking feeling in my stomach that part of the reason my parents and sister have considered voting for bush is that they are more comfortable with our country being mislead into a war and then bungling along with criminaly faulty leader ship than with having a gay son. Dead bodies on tv are less disturbing than gay couples, and the leader who will hem and haw the most and act the most condescending and uncomfortable with the subject draws their attention. Their discomfort is more dire than others' pain and deaths. This is my greatest fear. This is monstrous and I pray that I am wrong.

I hope that this does not describe my parents, but this does seem to put those who don't live in the reality based community in perspective. They live instead in the bigotry based community, the land where comfort is found in not being one of 'Them' and their are easy answers because there faith in a fast and easy way-things-are-supposed-to-be. I for one will take my difficult reality; you can have your easy bigotry, but try and make it reality and you are going to get a fucking fight. People are being patient right now and praying for the best, but not damn many people take too kindly to being pushed around any more. If you think fags can't fight or stand up for themselves, in the words of the much missed Wesley Willis, "Fuck with me and find out."

America's biggest problem... people with their heads this far up their bigoted asses:


I wish I could find this funny. Right now I am trying to convince myself that I am wrong in my nagging suspicion that there are masses of people out there who prefer seeing war and violence on tv than reminders that there are homosexuals living happy lives.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Consequences: Bringing Them Home to Our Loved Ones

My brother and I were talking the other day about the conservative elements in our family (basically our older sister and at times our mother and father). He was commenting on trying to sort out memories of being raised in a democratic family and suddenly finding our parents leaning republican. This is not the normal southern flip into the republican party in an attempt to stay as bass-ackwards as possible, but my parents had thought Jimmy Carter was a great president and that reagan was completely untrustworthy and the big bush was a joke at best. They have always been pretty progressive and not terribly partisan. This is something that I have always deeply admired.

My sister has a good heart and feigns disinterest in politics, but she was always going to trend conservative. But I did expect her to make demands of those who claim to be conservative.

But lately they have all tended a little bit republican. We were speculating as to why, and our best guess is a combo of only wanting to really focus on the things closer than the tip of their noses and that they believe the republicans are made uncomfortable by issues that make them uncomfortable.

Namely: abortion and gay issues. My sister has long run with a crowd which gives audience to questionable characters with simpleminded takes on these and most other issues, so her having passionate and misinformed opions on the subjects is no suprise. My parents, though, have historically had a more nuanced take on most topics and kind of stayed away from these. But then their big gay son had to go and say "Hey, I'm not asexual and devoid of human emotion like I have pretended for so long, I'm gay." All things considered, they took it pretty well. They didn't really like it, but they have never stopped supporting and loving me.

But the dark side of their support is how they interact with this subject when not talking to me about it (which they fastidiously avoid). I haven't really pushed the issue much. I wasn't trying to get them to march on washington or to start waving rainbow flags; I just wanted to be able to act like a three-dimensional person and not get further distanced from my family. I knew it would take a while for them to be able to be casual about it and have been pretty respectful of this and tried to ease them into it. I didn't come out until I was completely comfortable with myself and my sexuality and had resolved a great many issues, but that took a long time for me and I know that it was never going to be a cakewalk for my parents.

That said, I didn't think it would drive them to being more conservative. In ways it hasn't, but in so many ways it has. They like whatever politician wants to try to just make the subject go away, or more accurately, who treats it like something to be ashamed of and which people SHOULD want to go away. The republicans bring it up over and over again, but they bring it up in such a way as to suggest they are really just trying to get all this out of the light once and for all. My sister has long been on this side of things, telling of friends for whom ex-gay programs have 'worked'. Yeah, they work all right, these are the ones that go on and get married and then have sex with strangers in public restrooms. Sorry, not the life I want and I have been propositioned by too many married christian family men to take any ex-gay ministry's claims seriously. You don't make anyone less gay, just more likely to kill themselves or they just end up shoved back into the closet.

Anyway, my point is that if my parents and sister and other conservative relatives are going to think that the republicans are the party that will make my sexuality go away as an public issue, then I am going to make damn sure that if they vote for that bastard and his asshole cronies and he wins, this is a subject that they will hear about in very proximate terms for the duration of his presidency. Allowed to live my life and treated with respect, I am happy to leave the whole gay thing as a no big deal kind of fact of life, but if it is going to drive my parents to making misguided political decisions which are out of character for them because the republicans like hiding gay people, then they need more exposure to the subject and I will make sure they get it.

My brother liked the idea of submitting threats like this; after all, isn't that really all the republican party does? Why should they get to lay down the terms of the 'gay threat'? I'm the homo in my parents' life and I'll do the gay threatening. I'll make certain that those slow simple gossipy members of my family who haven't caught on to the fact of my open gaity yet are very well informed around holiday get-togethers. We will discuss my boyfriend everytime I call home. I will force the hand on their agreement to go to a p-flag meeting after I went snarling and with stream shooting from my ears to that evil love-won-out convention (don't get me started). I figured they would find their way their in their own good time, but they haven't and now they want to vote republican, so it is becoming time to press the issue.

I never really wanted to be a big gay rights freak. I think there are bigger issues than gay marriage and just generally have a problem with simplified us/them dicotomies across the board and never really cared to limit my outspokeness to one catagory. But it is beginning to shape up that this is the issue which is standing flat in the way of many of my parents more progressive tendencies and the one which I need to focus on at home.

Anyway, this is my threat: if my parents want to support republicans because they represent their best hope for supressing the visibility of gay issues (which just remind them of their own son's gayness), then I will work double time and tirelessly to make sure that they become comfortable with gay stuff through repeated exposure and prolonged discussion of the topic. I will no longer stear clear of the subject when I think it might be awkward and will no longer leave it to them to allow openings in the conversation for it. I will bring it home. People who refuse to see past the end of their nose SHOULD (and will) have things thrown in their face.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

full of mineral water

I have just newly discovered William Gibson's blog, but damn it is the best thing I have found in a long time. Maybe I will finally pick up _Neuromancer_ and give it a read, but in the meantime, he has been added to my must read list. Here is just a little snippet from today which struck my fancy:

William Gibson: "In very much the sense that Bush is not actually a Christian, likewise is he nothing remotely conservative. Believing Bush is conservative in any traditional sense is like believing that a Formula One racer with the Perrier logo on its side is full of mineral water.

The RNC today is a party in the hands of dangerous political radicals. "

Amen. To be perfectly honest, I am not terribly devoted to either party outright. If I thought a sensible Republican were running, I would vote for him. In the last election, I would have voted for McCain over Gore in a heartbeat (I have more circumspect feelings about mccain these days considering the way he has been whoring himself out as bush's do-boy as of late, but that is another story). I am not completely opposed to conservative tendencies and when they are genuine and tempered with a sincere concern for others, I deeply respect them. In many ways I tend towards conservative. In others, of course, I tend towards radical, but point is it is not the label 'conservative' or 'liberal' that rallies me behind a politician or a cause.

But calling bush a conservative or a christian is at dramatic odds with his actions as president. He make get his backing from people who call themselves both, but he acts like neither.

"How many bush administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?"

"None. There’s nothing wrong with that light bulb. There is no need to change anything. We made the right decision and nothing has happened to change our minds. People who criticize this light bulb now, just because it doesn’t work anymore, supported us when we first screwed it in, and when these flip-floppers insist on saying that it is burned out, they are merely giving aid and encouragement to the Forces of Darkness.

-- John Cleese"

There more goodies over at William Gibson's blog.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Jedi Mind Tricks

Being a fan of Boondocks and a child of the StarWars generation, this made me smile:

Yahoo! News - Boondocks

Monday, October 18, 2004

Pay no attention to the draft behind the curtain...

The head of the RNC sends a cease and desist letter to the head of Rock the Vote warning them to stop discussing the possiblility of a draft because the nekkid emperor, Mr. Burns, and Dumbsfeld say it won't happen. Didn't they also tell us that Saddam had stockpiles of chemical and nuclear weapons that he was planning on unleashing on our country with remote-controlled military drones? Yeah, their word still counts. Read the letter:

RNC shows its ass

and Rock The Vote fires back:

Rock The Vote tells them to grow up

Notice which sounds more coherent and well informed.

It is worth noting that when a particular party (in this case, the RNC) tells a non-partisan voter awareness group to stop discussing a topic (a creepy request any way you look at it) because it is a partisan subject, they are admitting that they are the side more likely to do what we are all afraid of: reinstate the draft. If they came out better on the issue, they wouldn't be crowing about it. Rock the Vote has also been tough on Kerry about assertions that the draft isn't coming back and isn't endorsing a candidate, rather has presented links to information about the issue, so if the RNC is asserting that RTV is being partisan it is an andmonition on their part that their policies lead us closer to that edge where the draft becomes a reality.

I guess this admin and their stooges have complained that the facts have been partisan all along.

Friday, October 15, 2004

She's a what !?!? Part 2:

After looking at other folks talking about the stink about Kerry talking about Mary Cheney being a big ole' lezzie, it is interesting how sexualized all this chatter about it is. People who are only grudgingly beginning to handle the word 'gay' or can handle gay people only if they are neutered and serving society (like the Queer Eyes or your local hairdresser or priest) still have trouble desexualizing all language associated with the lifestyle.

Just a snippet from the underrated and excellent Digby:

Hullabaloo: "Apparently, the kewl kidz in the press tent all 'gasped' when Kerry used the word 'lesbian' the other night. And like their emotional role models, Beavis and Butthead, the mere mention of any word they associate with sex excited them a little bit. Because it did, and the Bush campaign sensed it, it's become one of those faux outrage dances that the media and the Republicans perform so well together."

Worth reading all of it, but I pulled this because it was addresses the root of this stupidity: 'lesbian' as an inherently sexualized word.

When I hear that someone is gay or lesbian or whatever, them having sex is usally not one of the first things I think of. Same when I hear that someone is straight.

Again, let's talk about my family for a minute. If my brother talks about his girlfriend or dating a girl, sex does not seem to flash straight into my parents head. They want to hear about her, what she does, how they met. If I talk about my boyfriend, there is this look of parental terror with the unspoken message of "We don't want to talk about your sex life!" Well, no shit; neither do I. This is the whole point in 'coming out': adding a social component to your associations with people to whom you are attracted. Having a boyfriend is not the same thing as having sex with the same person over and over. Just like being married isn't just about having sex with the same person over and over again.

Folks in our country really need to relax a little bit about sex. The funny thing is, that the people who rail against the moral decay of society and the dangers of the flesh are quite often the biggest perverts you will ever find. Not that they are running around getting laid left and right, but these are the people who immediately focus in on the sexual in anything. I have a boyfriend; their mind immediately goes to butt-sex. They use the word 'marriage' as code for 'sex'. Women are permanently objectified and sexualized in their mind and they perceive gay men as a threat for precisely the same reason: they imagine that they are being objectified and sexualized by us.

Mason, read this: Reservists refuse convoy mission in Iraq

Mason, look at where they are from-

MSNBC - Reservists refuse convoy mission in Iraq: "WASHINGTON - The Army is investigating reports that several members of a reservist supply unit in Iraq refused to go on a convoy mission, the military said Friday. Relatives of the soldiers said the troops considered the mission too dangerous.

The reservists are from the 343rd Quartermaster Company, which is based in Rock Hill, S.C. The unit delivers food and water in combat zones.
According to The Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Miss., a platoon of 17 soldiers refused to go on a fuel supply mission Wednesday because their vehicles were in poor shape and they did not have a capable armed escort."

It also cites the paper my parents' local paper. Really, folks, if you are going to send our friends and family over there, give them the f'cking support they need or they SHOULD be sitting their happy asses down and refusing to move. (note: if you even think of commenting about Kerry being against that 87 billion pork package that the whitehouse demanded as being against our troops, you had better be well informed about the subject and have your facts straight because I am tired of hearing morons throw misinformed hissy-fits about it and won't take any half-assed idiots trying to pass the buck).

She's a what?!!?!!!

Juan Cole is a must read for anyone trying to keep honestly abreast of how things are going in Iraq, but his analysis of domestic issues is remarkably lucid. His take on the Cheneys' wig-out over their openly gay daughter being referred to as gay:

"Why are Lynne and Dick Cheney so angry that John Kerry mentioned their daughter Mary's lesbianism in the third presidential debate?

The difference of opinion on whether the mention was appropriate is rooted in two different worldviews, and on two different metaphors for gayness.

The behavior of the Cheneys demonstrates that they view being gay as like being disabled. Or rather it is like being disabled in the William F. Buckley conception of disabled people as not just different from ordinary persons but actually inferior in their enjoyment of life."

It is worth following the link and reading his full commentary.

I wonder at times if this is how my parents see my being gay: as a handicap. It is a difference, and it does require that I consider it in how I approach things, but not any more than being Southern or of limited wealth. There are limitations in life and I have accepted mine and have learned how to embrace them and use them to my advantage.

It is somewhat worth noting that actually becoming comfortable with being gay and not really treating it as anything to be ashamed of or to be troubled by has made my life much, much easier and made me much healthier and more able to deal with others. Growing up gay in rural AL is not the easiest thing on a kid, but strangely looking back, growing up in rural AL isn't really all that easy on anyone. And the more I go along, the more I am convinced that growing up isn't really easy anywhere. After you make peace with your own difficulties, you can begin to see that it is not the only kind of trouble. Sometimes the thorns in our sides are blessings.

So it makes me a little sad to see someone's parents treating their openly gay child as an embarassment or with pity. When I detect that in my parents it cuts pretty deep. But mostly I just get mad: like every child, I expect better from them.

Where we are from, I am sure everyone knows that I am gay, or damn near everyone, but gossip spreads in a funny quiet way that one doesn't often have to confront too directly and I am not back there very often so I wonder if they have been confronted with this publicly and if they were how would they react? I have seen them show amazing backbone when faced with ignorance and bigotry in times past, so I imagine them telling anyone who said something inappropriate to shove it, but I wonder if they are where they could hear about it being casually being mentioned like it were nothing remarkable and treat it as no big deal? It makes me sad to hear that other parents can't, but then again, I think my parents are much better people than the Cheneys.

Hey, don't ask, don't tell.

(but while we are talking about Mary Cheney, can't we take a minute to comment on her new hair do? Maybe she finally made friends with some of the log cabin boys and they took her to a hairdresser instead of a barbershop. It is still a bad republican haircut, but it doens't look like cornsilk taped to an orange anymore. But can someone tell Chris Matthews that her old haircut looks no better on him?)

Again, I wish I were suprised...

The nekkid emperor has some values for you:

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Block the Vote

Yes, George Soros is a drug dealer and georgie w. porgie is going to restore honor to the whitehouse and spread democracy abroad. WTF?

If Krugman's article is the first you have heard about this stuff, 2 things:

1) you should be angry with how the news is ignoring this and doesn't cover this like crazy.

2) you don't read enough and really should consider getting your news from more sources.

If Krugman's article doesn't piss you off and make you want to crack a few skulls for attacking what our nation is all about, you might want to re-examine your 'values'.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Meeting the neighbors part 2:

So Stacy over at tatooed heathen (see last post) seems like the kind of neighbor you would invite to a pot luck or trust around your kids. But alas, sometimes "next blog" leads you to whack jobs like this: Refiner's Crucible

WTF? Really, is this fellow stupid or depraved? Just because you want bush to win is no reason to lie through your teeth (to yourself or others). regardless of who you like or for whatever warped reasons, bush looked like a confused little man tonight. He was not relaxed and lashing out really doesn't count as being 'on the offense.' And really, 'a command of the issues'? Are you special, dude?

Love bush if you are just gonna love him anyway he goes, but don't break with reality over it. This fellow is a true member of bush's nation of retards.

I am getting tired, but on another day perhaps I will grab Mason and go over for a visit and see if he is up for a chat since he challenges liberals to hold their own in discussing the Middle East. Probably not really worth talking judging from this initial perusal of his page, but hey, why not?

We all pray for your daughters too.

I really have always thought that the nekkid emperor was really a little smarter than he let on. I kind of figured that he was just kind of selfish and mean and the whole idiot thing was to make him appear less culpable. To run things the way he has, something has to be seriously wrong with either your mind or your heart, and really I kind of thought it was his soul that was vacuous and empty rather than his head.

After watching these three debates I am not so sure. Maybe both are empty. Tonight I really got the feeling on occasion that he kind of believed some of the things he was saying. I almost thought he really believed that he had done a good job and that the way he had done things really was for the good of the middle class and such. God help that man.

But really, tonight's self-destruction was spectactular. And the sad thing is, I think his battery pack was actually working. There just wasn't anything they could whisper to help him. Really, his is not a record that any sane person can defend. Slogans only get you so far, and when you crunch the numbers and look at how schools are faring these days, squawking about how you are improving education by leaving no child behind seems a little silly. Especially if the question was about out-sourcing jobs. Or the gays. Or...did he manage to say "No child left behind!" in every answer?

Kerry did better this time at really addressing the questions at hand. All in all, he has impressed me in the debates. I started out at the beginning of the democratic primaries with the opinion that Kerry's main qualification for being president (other than the basic not-a-bush requirement) was that his face would look good on money. More and more I have been coming to the conclusion that he is actually a really good choice for president, not just less of an embarassment. He had better be if he is going to step up to clean up the mess this current turd is going to leave when he gets booted out of office.

Meet the neighbors...

I completely love the "next blog" button on Blogger blogs, but I have to say that I generally have rotten luck and get blogs that really don't draw me in. But snarky tattooed heathen is suprisingly entertaining. I really haven't found too many blogs which are so autobiographical which catch my eye, but anyone who refers to her children as Tater, Satan, and Fang is ok by me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I depend on me...

A little bit of the lighter side of the bloggy lands for our sanity (I found it over at Copy, Right? ).

Kind of speaks for itself: Independent Woman - played by kittens - Joel Veitch, music by Elbow

Things to watch for in the debate tonight...

so there really is not point in linking to Gawker about this, except that I thought of it while perusing the beast while eating lunch at my desk. Seeing Mary-Kate's name for some reason jarred my memory and reminded me that in talking about the last debate, someone pointed out that bush was grinding his teeth the whole time and that apparently this is something which people do when they are on cocaine.

I know, I know. We all know he is born again and clean and all that, but really considering how badly he does when unmuzzled, being doped up would at least give him an excuse and the hope that maybe all he needs is rehab. Since he is all clean these days, I guess we have to go back to the he's-retarded theory.

I wish I could be suprised by this...

Over at the ever vigillant Daily Kos they have a tidbit on folks working for a firm which was doing voter registration in Nevada not playing nice. I really wish that I found it suprising that republi-tards would stoop this low, but of course it isn't. What really gets my goat about this is the same thing that has been getting me so f'ing riled about all the shit going around the last few years: it is so damn blatant and this still won't be on the national news. And it should be. People should be screaming in the streets, but we all know what good that does.

This is one of those things that is so in your face that I think, "ok, this has to be noticed and prosecuted and will open people's eyes to the nasty things being done," and then I think back on all the other times that I have thought that and remember that instead people will just shrug, "oh well," and shelf their outrage. Outrage is just a little tedious these days isn't it? There are bills to pay and tv to watch and someone else will handle this anyway. Right?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

A few loose ends...

The last few weeks (months? years?) have been a little hectic so quite a few events have blasted past with little or no commentary.

First, I have been strangely silent about the debates. Not of course if you have been around me in person, but in text is how I try to sort out my ideas and on this issue I haven't really yet. And there have been a few things I have been wanting to say. I have to say I am a little boggled by the response to the debates from some of the other blogistanis with whom I usually find some comfortable solidarity on issues of political nature. Not that we disagreed tremendously or that we really usually look at things the same way, but the differences really struck me this time.

Overall, after the first debate, I thought the nekkid emperor did way better than I would have expected. I know there is all the expectation game bullshit and hoorah for everyone who helped spin this for Big K, but really, he always makes idiot faces and sounds like a moron even when speaking from a script. I thought he stood up better than you would have expected. Which is to say that he did terribly. Kerry did pretty good, but I felt like he really missed a few open opportunities to really drive some tough points home. By the end, my attention was lost. All in all an obvious victory for Kerry unless you are a very special kind of stupid (which, it appears, quite a few people are), but as my mother put it, "I wasn't really impressed with either of them."

One major note of contention I had with some bloggish leaders who I read damn near religiously after reading their coverage of the VP turd sling: Gwen Ifill was the best moderator that I have seen for a presidential debate in a long damn time. James Wolcott has been brightening my day since I discovered his blog a short while back, but on this we were at direct odds; Gwen Awful is not how I would have described the night. I would take her over Jim Lehrer any day and though I thought Charlie Gibson did a remarkable job with his turn at baby sitting, I would have loved to watch her interaction with our national embarassment. The impression that I got from her was that she didn't suffer fools gladly, which is where the apparent animosity towards edwards came in. Cheney by definition comes across as an ogre, but he is a well spoken and coherent ogre, even if he uses dishonest tactics and lies to make his points. His points may have been crafted deep in mordor, but they were delivered conversationally and he occasionally remembered the soul of wit. Edwards points, although harvested from fairer fields (except for all this "kill, kill, kill" bullshit), were recited. He is reasonable, he is pretty, he had no excuse for coming across like a ventriloquist doll.

The best spin I could put on the VP debate was that it was something akin to Homer Simpson debating Mr. Burns. Mr. Burns is smarter and sounds better, but really deep down you know that Homer should prevail despite looking like a doofus in public.

Luckily, Marge is just hitting her stride and cleaned Krusty's clock in their debate on Friday. I seriously take task with everyone running around saying things like it was a draw or bush did better this time. No it wasn't, no he didn't. He came across like a buffoon at best and in reality as something closer to a horrible brat who had matured into a horrible asshole. Kerry looked better than ever, and despite still needing to really just address that question at hand simply and directly before turning to wallop the sitting presiduck, he came across as coherent and engaging.

Tomorrow night's plans for watching the further decline of the simian prince are hazy at the moment due to bf's purchase of tickets to see a band long ago when our minds weren't looking ahead to the debate, but if nothing else I guess I can resort the VCR (were is my knight with shining TIVO?) and hope to make my commentary in a more timely fashion. We shall see.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Awareness is a llama: the best thing ever. puts too many diversions at your finger tips, but this one shines above all others:

Screenhead : The Llama Song

If this doens't make you smile, you are a bad person and shouldn't interact with polite society. Ever.

If you really can't bring yourself to vote for Kerry...

now you have a decent alternative:

Gay Penguin For America

Why not? Can't be any worse than bush.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Does Something Smell Bad to You? It's the Economy, Stupid!

This really speaks for itself:

MaxSpeak, You Listen!: BUSINESS SCHOOL

At least the title should be simple enough for the nekkid emperor to understand.

I want to be VP; I am good at scaring children and making stuff up.

just read it:

Daily Kos :: Political Analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation.

What a lame thing to lie about. cheney is a total elree (from my juvenile deliquent wards a few years ago, short for 'el retardo').

But will you hear about it on the evening news?

This from Jim Hightower:

WorkingForChange-Common sense commentaries: October 4-8

'In 2000, Jeb used such crude tactics as illegally purging voter lists to help engineer his brother's 537-vote "victory" in that election -- and now, here he goes again. As one peer of Florida's GOP establishment candidly puts it: "A Democrat can't win a statewide election in Florida without a high turnout of African-Americans. It's no secret that the name of the game for Republicans is to restrain that turnout as much as possible."

The Orlando League of Voters can attest to that. This African-American civic group has played a big role in turning Orlando from a Republican stronghold into a city that increasingly votes Democratic. Their reward for getting involved in the democratic process is to have Jeb Bush's state police suddenly come knock-knock-knocking on the doors of some 50 of the League's grassroots leaders. These leaders, mostly elderly Black women, find it frightening to be confronted in their homes by armed troopers interrogating them about their electoral participation.

They are not charged with any crime. Instead, police say they're investigating vague allegations that some voter fraud might have occurred in this spring's mayoral election.'

Am I suprised that people in power abuse it? No, (if you would answer yes, you are very, very stupid) not when they think they can get away with it. What does piss me off is that this isn't on the nightly news. This is sad. Actually kind of pathetic. Now please excuse me, I need to go make an effigy of the fat bush (no, not barbara, jeb) and puke on it.

Reaping What You Sow: Protestors Ransack Bush/Cheney Headquarters In Orlando

and so it begins: - Election 2004 - Protestors Ransack Bush/Cheney Headquarters In Orlando

"We want to send a clear message to Bush, we want him to take his hands off our overtime pay," protestor Esmeralda Heuilar said.

Note to Bloomburg, RNC, the administration of retards, the new york times, etc. - when half a million people take to the streets to protest peacefully and you marginalize their complaints and consider their protest a non-story because they were peaceful, the next ones won't be so peaceful.

This is specific story is just a little scuffle when a protest got out of hand, but you have to expect thing to only get crazier. When half a million people assemble and are damn near ignored by the press and treated punitively by the police and government, things aren't going to be nicer next time. If you suceed in ignoring the respectful, peaceful protests but have done nothing to address the reasons people are taking to the streets, they will take to the streets again, but the next time the mob appears it will be the tempered, calm voices which will be marginalized rather than the radical, violent voices.

The RNC-fuck-all-y'all isn't forgotten and will be answered. I just pray that our imbicile leaders pull their heads out of their self-satisfied asses and concider listening the next time folks take to the streets. And I hope they do this before it gets bloody. To all who sent the message that ignoring and punishing and suppressing peaceful protest was a success and a job well done, make no mistake: when protests turn bloody, when we have our next Oklahoma City bombing, our next domestic terrorist, the blood will also be on your hands. You may not plant the bomb or shoot the gun, but you made it clear that you won't listen to peaceful protest. So you will get you violence.

Be careful the crops you plant.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A little silver around the clouds...

If you don't know already, I am a Southern fellow on a northern jaunt who gets fairly riled when the powers that be in my beloved South feel the need to open their vacuous traps and reinforce some damn stereotype. You can imagine that I stay pissed off alot of the time given the quality of leadership these days (really MS, haley barbour? WTF?), but I want to give credit where credit is due (and I really want to be able to do this more often:

The State | 10/04/2004 | DeMint: Gays should not teach: "Bette Cox, a board member of the S.C. Christian Coalition, defended DeMint, saying she, too, abhors the homosexual lifestyle and that he must have spoken without thinking.
"I wouldn't have said that," said Cox, chairwoman of the Florence County Christian Coalition. "It's a civil rights issue with me. You can't cut off someone's civil rights.
DeMint is going to regret that he made that statement."

Ok, so where is the silver lining? Look, I don't care if some southern lady who is the mouthpiece of a "chistian coalition" says she "abhores the homosexual lifestyle." The southern church lady thing really kind of makes my skin crawl, but I wouldn't lock her up or say she shouldn't be around children (although, I bet if you took any child who had both a gay uncle and a southern church lady for teacher and asked who they would rather spend the weekend with, the gay man wins everytime. Watch 80's movies and gossip about popstars and go to 6-flags, or watch Murder She Wrote reruns and help an old lady cook? Duh.) and won't overlook her extending me the same courtesy. She can call me abhorent or whatever she wants if she still says that I have rights too and they should be protected.

In these cloudy days, I take whatever silver can be found.

Oh, the land of an uncloudy day...

Friday, October 01, 2004

How does Laura feel about all this lovin' on Missy?

Ok, so you should have been listening to the debate last night. This kind of wacky entertainment comes once every four years. Just think of it as reality tv mini-series. Can we get the Donald to moderate some of the debates? Or better yet, Janice Dickenson. But I guess Jim Leher is kind of fun with his crazy piercing ewok eyes.

so if you missed it, go listen to it here:

NPR : Bush, Kerry Debate Foreign Policy Goals

so can we all say "WTF?" to all bush's kill-her-man-then-go-lovin'-on-Missy-the-best-way-he-knows-how. Uh, yeah that and getting all the gynos to practice their loving on chicks and stuff. And am I the only person who thought it sounded like he wanted to hold Putin's hand when he talked about him? Hey, man, whatev'. That's your business yo. It is like watching a trained monkey who can talk (sort of). Kind of confused, but you can see the gleam in his eye when he knows that he has repeated one of the phrases that will get him a banana.

Kerry did pretty good and could have done better, but really, I think as long as he doesn't drop his pants and take a dump on stage he wins this thing. All the dems and such need to quit bitching about everything and put the ball back in bush's court: he has failed at everything he has done and as long as Kerry doesn't turn out to be a evil cyborg from the future or molest children, he can be super crummy and still be an obviously better choice.

A wooden kitchen spoon is an obviously better choice.

(one random side note, but can the daily show get Donald Trump to come on nov 2 -or whenever the counting is done- and say, "george bush, you're fired!"?)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

a little note about this blog and where it is going and why it is here

I guess it is a good time (five months into this)to write an introduction as to why I am barking into cyberspace with my thoughts. As with anything, there are a multitude of reasons ranging from the benevolent (sharing information and pointing to things I have found enlightening/helpful/entertaining) to the narcissistic (egomanical delusions of world domination), but there were a few coherent ideas when I set out on this journey.

The title "Awareness is Painful" comes from feelings of mine which have been growing lately about the dangerousness of ignorance. If ignorance is dangerous, if it is detrimental, why is it so attractive to so many people? I am not being so simple as to take ignorance at just being uneducated, but am instead using the term to describe a larger outlook on the world. The mind's primary function isn't to expand our world, but to filter through the imput and whittle it down to a manageable size, but where we draw these lines is what is facinating to me. How to we manage our ignorance and our awareness? In the technology age, these decisions about what to accept, what to be sceptical of, what to embrace or reject are becoming increasingly complex and our choices about this have wider and wider ranging effects.

I fully understand the need to approach the world in manageable bits and to limit how far one extends themselves, but I am also emphatic in demanding an honesty about what you are doing. I personally can not control what is going on everywhere and my mind can't wrap itself around it all, but when I do see things going on, when I do do things with effects which will resonate further than myself, it is my hope that I begin with honestly acknowledging to myself what I am doing. I don't mind knowing that there are times that I have failed, or that people in general are far from perfect or even quite often miserable bastards. Knowing horrible things happen doesn't push the knowledge of beautiful things out of my mind. But what I am getting at is that I am seeing the beauty because of where I am looking and how I am looking, not because it is the only thing there. These are the world views which freak me out, the fundamental streaks in people's minds which say to them, "If this is true, it must be absolutely true."

I am not just speaking to the religious zealots (although they deserve a special place), but even just the day to day tunnel vision which so many people foster. The deep seated beliefs in the-way-it's-supposed-to-be. The beloved myths of used-to-be. Balanced with an awareness of realities that acompany these beliefs, they are useful and can help you keep yourself between the lines, but when treated as unassailable divine absolutes with hostility towards anything in conflict with them, they are recipes for disastrous conflict. There are more colors than black and white. This is somewhat my attempt at sorting all of this out.

This is also an attempt at documenting an exchange of ideas. This is certainly open to the introduction of others into the conversation, but it is largely based around ongoing discussions which Mason and I have been having for years now. We were roommates through college and have been living apart for sometime, but have kept up our culture of lively conversation via email. As you may have noticed, Mason writes less frequently (part of that is currently circumstantial -no computer access at his current apartment- but this is also pretty typical anyway) and drops the occasional well thought out deluge of ideas, while I blast off about everything fairly voiciferously. But point being, our conversations are something which I value and which greatly influence the way I understand the world, both through his guidance and criticism and through the clarity and sharp focus that the act of writing can bring. So this is my attempt to document and potentially share them.

Of course, in these polarized days, you will find me getting fairly political (although this wasn't meant just to be a political endevour). Partly this is because it is cathartic to have some outlet for these frustrations; partly it is in some vain hope that someone is listening out there and may find something illustrative in some of my rants or the links I suggest; partly it is just part of the converstaion: right now politics are crazy and I am pissed off for a thousand different reasons. But my problems with politics these days are rooted in what I find so frustrating about narrow world views. The willful ignorance and dishonesty these days is appalling, and I would argue that history has judged harshly on what comes of unfettered public momentum falling in with these kinds of self-centered outlooks. We are all operating under our own prejudices, but when they are not acknowledged as such and are treated as divine instead of as suspect, watch out.

I know this is going on a little long, but there is an end in sight. One last note on why I do this: to bear witness. Just to take notice of some things. I can't fix everything which makes me mad or sad, but I can keep my eyes open. I can bear witness. So, in my own little way, I try to.

I hope this exercise finds receptive eyes to read it. I hope you find something worth your time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Awareness is Garrison Keilor

It could not be put any better:

We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore -- In These Times

Can we elect him to be president?

Operation Truth

"Gee, I wonder what things are really like in Iraq. I wish I could hear stories from troops who have been there."

go check out Operation Truth

Monday, September 27, 2004

WWJD: our christian leaders at work.

shelter the homeless:

Home rehab cutbacks leave poor in shambles - 9/27/04

What is this death of which you speak?

just read it, now: East Hampton Star - In the News: "I fault this president for not knowing what death is."

"You Scare Us"

Carlos Fuentes is always worth reading.

You Scare Us: "You Scare Us
Bush is giving Latin America the willies"

I think he pretty much scares everyone. Well, actually, he doesn't scare my sister, who likes him because he says he is a christian a lot (no it is not a typo and no I am not going to capitalize "christian" when using it in reference to bush's faith)...

which scares the crap out of me.

Friday, September 24, 2004

New hope: work with what you are given.

they have a good point:

WorkingForChange-New hope for the medically uninsured

Perhaps the retards in office should remember that Americans are resourceful.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

What if...?

Juan Cole very nicely suggests for pondering the question "What if Bush's nation of retards was running as well as his new, improved Saddam-less Babylonia?" Well, maybe not in those terms, but you know what I mean.

Informed Comment : 09/01/2004 - 09/30/2004

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Appeal to the potential friends and stop focusing on potential enemies.

The first part of this entry by Bob Harris on Tom Tomorrow's blog is the most human analysis of the state of things in Iraq that I have seen in a while.

In his post script, he makes the oft overlooked point that we need to quit ignoring the potential good will that is out there for us in the world and what we stand to lose.

This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow: September 12, 2004 - September 18, 2004 Archives: "In the past year, I have personally visited three of the six biggest Muslim countries on Earth, and I have spoken at some length with ordinary Sunnis and Shia on four continents. This week I have just returned from Egypt, where I listened to lots of perfectly average people on the street, in trains, shops, and cafes.
This is true, I swear: we have hundreds of millions more potential friends than America realizes right now. And we are losing them for a generation or more. I promise you that on my soul.
Seven days ago, I was in Alexandria, watching waves break against the rocky shoreline with a 20-year-old named Mahmoud who loves Bruce Lee movies and wants to visit China and study in the footsteps of his hero. He's a devoted Muslim who playfully tried to talk me into converting; he also thinks Bin Laden is (his words) 'against Islam.' You'd like this guy, I promise. And he'd like you.
Mahmoud wanted very much to know was if Kerry is a good man, and if he would stop the killing, and how Americans could possibly support what is happening in Iraq.
I still don't know all the answers to his questions. But that's what they were."

There is more and it is worth reading.

Ignorance is an "opinion-ridden free-for-all"; Awareness is the same thing, just with being honest about what are just opinions

I spotted this little quote from Arthur Sulzberger Jr. on Romenesko today:

Poynter Online - Romenesko: "ON BLOGGERS: 'Some are professional journalists, but the vast majority of them are just folks with something on their minds. While some of these individuals are making a serious and thoughtful contribution to our global dialogue, too many simply contribute to the sense that we're in the midst of an opinion-ridden free-for-all.'"

Don't have time right now to read the whole article, but this snippet raised my ire just a little.

How many is too many? Is there a limit on how many people throw silly opinions around?

Blogging is like anything else, some good/some bad and a whole lot of responsibility on the part of both the person putting out blogs and the folks reading them. If a bunch of people want to run around and say silly things on the internet, perfect. That is part of its beauty. The "opinion-ridden free-for-all" on the internet wouldn't matter at all if the print and TV journalists were just a little more scrupulous and thorough.

The only shame about people throwing around opinions is that opinion content takes up most of the space on our cable 'news' stations. It is their taking up the less classy of the blog banter which clouds the air. Most of the faces that we get our daily information from spew out more opinions than news. And too many of them do this under the guise of being objective.

Journalists should be reading blogs, but they should know that their job is to separate the wheat from the chafe before passing on in their medium. Right now, the talking-head opinion-pushers are just parroting as truth who ever is screaming the loudest or cherry-picking things that reinforce whatever their cause is. The plank in your eye, people! Come on.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Her Beautiful Mind

I for one can not wait for Kitty Kelly's book to come out. I vaguely remember someone saying we, the liberal/progressive types, need a gossip monger like drudge slinging rumors around. Yeah right. We have the gossip slingers in spades, we just need to get rid of the corporate gag orders and slam a few more defamation suits back at the retard echo chamberlings.

Anyway, the Den Mother of Dishing-Mercilessly-On-People-Who-Deserve-It is back to show the amatuers how its really done. And even if I had the slightest shred of sympathy (ok, not really; I don't do sympathy, particularly not for people I like mainly because of their ice queen persona) for Nancy back when she got hers, this family can not get slammed hard enough.

Particularly Barbara.

One: she and Nancy didn't like each other and as frightening grandmotherly 80's bitch political matriarchs go, I totally side with the one who was a regular guest on the Tonight Show (when Johnny was still at the helm), made 'very special' appearences on Diff'rent Strokes, dressed like the imperial guard sans helment and consulted an astrologer over the one that looks like mashed potatoes in navy blue and pearls and wrote a book about her ugly-ass dog. And the Nancy book only made her that much cooler and added to her fame. Babs is just going to come out looking like a bitch. Which leads to point 2...

Two: Barbara Bush is a total bitch and not the cool fun kind like Nancy. I held back on this opinion for so long - I did always kind of like her pearls - but really her comments leading up to the war dropped the scales from my eyes and I will never feel sympathy for anything horror that lands on her fat head:

Her Beautiful Mind: "'Why should we hear about body bags and deaths,' Barbara Bush said on ABC's 'Good Morning America' on March 18, 2003. 'Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?' "

Not relevant? Waste her beautiful mind? The reporter should have just thrown up on her right then and there. No more questions, just puke.

We are making a decision that will result in our kids having to kill people and die in combat and we should waste our beautiful minds on considering the mortal cost of this? What, are you people crazy?

She doesn't care because it is other people's kids dying and she responds with incredulity to the suggestion that their sacrifice should be even acknowledged.

Go, Kitty go. Somebody needs to remind us that trash isn't always poor.

Monday, September 13, 2004


Are the documents forgeries? Safire has an opinion:

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Those Discredited Memos

As a general rule, if William Safire is commenting on stuff about Iraq or criticism of this administration, suspect every word. If he is writing about grammar, or some light-weight libertarian stuff, you can expect him to be a straight shooter. But know what? I don't really know that I care if they are or not.

No, I don't want people running around planting forgeries and such, and it is worth noting that if they were truly forgeries I have a feeling the Whitehouse would have commented definitively by now; but really, once you know that someone with a history of substance abuse skipped a mandatory physical, you don't have to be very worldly or smart to figure out why.

The only interesting question is why he got away with it and if any of us are very honest with ourselves, we know the answer to that.

Don't bother arguing about this shit anymore: bush got into the guard because of who his father was, he skipped his physical because he wouldn't pass a pee test, and he got out of the guard with an honorable discharge because of who his father was. If you are comfortable with all that and or just don't care what happened 30 years ago, fine, but quit with all the bullshit.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

a few tears from wide open eyes

this isn't the first time someone has screamed bloody murder and no one listened and no one cared. Just ask Kitty Genovese.

And who knows if I would be any better, but I like to believe I would have picked up the phone or run out into the street with my baseball bat instead of turning up my tv or rolling over, and so even though at the moment I am not among the numbers on the front lines, I would rather wear out what little voice I have howling at those who think they can sleep through this than wash my Pilate's hands like them, satisfied with the absolution of the polled voice of the angry crowd, "This is the violence we choose."

Not all choices are equal and if your sleep isn't troubled having made this one, having cast your lot with this stake in the world, then I hope to scream until it is. If you are sleeping restfully with your enforced ignorance and carefully selected information, you should be ashamed. You may keep your conscience at bay for now but one day it will howl like I do and you will be old and it will be too late to do anything about it, and you can make excuses to your grandkids and they may even forgive you or not even know that it could have been different.

But you should know this now: it didn't have to be this way.

"The gods are not pleased. "

I am a new observer of James Wolcott's blog, and am duly impressed. This entry caught my eye, expressing nicely something which has been a topic of conversation between Mason and I:

James Wolcott: An Ignoble Confession

On the subject of cosmic messages being ignored, I might see the passion now that it is on dvd, but I didn't really care to contribute too much economically to supporting something that the gods had spoken so clearly against so I avoided it in the theater. A note to James Cav... whatever his name is: if you are an actor playing Jesus, and you get struck by lightning while in character, God is not happy with the project.

I am the kind of person who takes how well his hello kitty toaster burns the image of hello kitty's face into his toast as a daily omen, so two decent sized hurricanes making a nasty X over the state of Florida early in the season (with more already on the way) is seen by me as a pretty unambiguous message. Florida kids, it is time to get the fat bush out of office, although with the dirty tricks he and his have been playing with voting down there, it is probably out of the voter's hands. Maybe that is why God is trying to drop a house on his head.

You might not want to stand too near ole Jeb for a while: there are still a couple more months of hurricane season and His aim is getting better.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Convention of Retards

Yeah, I know you aren't supposed to use the word 'retard' but this childhood pejorative is tough to beat in its accurate description of the tripe coming out of Mad Sq. this week.

Juan Cole's apt turn of phase "Bush must think we are a nation of retards," has run through my head non-stop this week. At the lower moments I have worried that he may be right. But then you walk down the street and see that the people are up in arms but protesting peacefully despite the horrible way the powers that be are managing things this week.

So, perhaps it is just that this week we have been invaded by a convention of retards. I have been trying to avoid listening to their crap as much at possible, but I am still catching snippets here and there. And as always, NPR has all the crap on tape if you care to listen to any of it:

NPR : Republican Convention

I just listened to zell miller vomit his bile. From fag bashing start (if you are acting like you don't know what I am talking about, wipe the stupid incredulous look off of your face; no one on the planet doesn't know that politicians spewing about 'protecting their family' are talking about protecting them from the homo-menace; don't make excuses, call a spade a spade you cowards) to naseating bush fellating finish, zell is total retard-o-rama. "Blah blah blah I'm angry and scared of commies and homos and foriegners and people judging the military by how it is used and lead; please protect me big strong mr. bush... journalists don't defend free speech, protesters are flag burning ingrates, don't question what the military is doing you freedom hating ingrate pinkos." Yeah, Zell was a great keynote pick.


What you say? He is a Democrat? Nope, not anymore. I don't give a damn what he says, he is no longer a Dem; he is a retard.

I am not saying he is a republican, despite the official name of the event, very few people in that midtown pit of despair are republican. They are a bunch of retards. The Retard National Convention needs to get the hell out of town. And if there are any real Republicans left (you know, minimal government interference in private lives and business and commerce, fiscal responsibility, social responsibility,etc.) then you better get to organizing and take you party back. You didn't get a convention this year. Will you in 2008?

You may not like voting for a Democrat; fine, hold you nose and think of Dixie and organize to have a decent opponent next time, but this time it answers one question only: are you a republican or are you a retard?

This stupid retard national convention can't leave our town soon enough. How soon are you going to kick them out of your party.

(I am listening to Cheney speak now; utter and complete retard.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

awareness is angry

I probably shouldn't be writing right now.

If you have read anything I have written you probably already know that I don't think too much of this administration. I think for them to do what they do requires either some serious ignorance or significant moral shortcomings. I don't take the changes that have occurred in the last few years lightly.

But now I am seriously pissed off. Something snapped tonight, seriously snapped. I was in midtown, near the place where chris matthews is holding court, quietly protesting. I didn't have a sign, wasn't really yelling. I am generally a pretty calm fellow and don't really like losing control, but I also feel morally compelled to show my dissent, but my beef isn't with the cops, it is with the republicans. The cops are generally out doing their job and I appreciate that.

But tonight I am not so sure.

Some people jumped some barricades, and the cops wigged out and people got arrested, whatever. The cops start pushing people back from the intersection who were not doing anything, I am not ok with that. I already have problems with the way this is impeding movement around the city and if the republicans don't feel safe if people are allowed to move around freely, then they shouldn't be in the city.

So seeing reporters shoved by police officers and barricades put up and people being cordoned off and free movement impeded doesn't settle well with me. But you know what, I don't expect that much out of people, and I know with this many people upset with the assholes in madison square garden, sure folks are going to have to walk out of their way. But when a smug asshole on the police force in a white shirt comes over and moves a barricade so an old white couple dressed in a suit with their american flag regalia can cross the street, but proceeds to stop my brother, I am not a happy person any more. "Why can they go through and he can't?"

For future reference, if I ever ask you that question, the correct answer is not "Psshh, you can see the difference," and you should not deliver it with a sneer. This is when all reason leaves my brain and am screaming at the top of my lungs at a police officer.

I left shortly afterwards. I don't want to fight with the police; they aren't the enemy.

Or they weren't yesterday. I have been extremely sypathetic to their negotiations for fair contracts.

Tonight I am not.

Tonight I am the enemy and I don't matter because of how I dress, because of my politics, because of any of a million reasons. I don't have to matter to you, fine, but you don't have to matter to me either. You may not mind planting it, but you too will reap what you sow. An antagonistic public is not a fun crop for our folks in uniform. And it may have been the brass that told you to plant it, but you will get out of the field what you put in it. And you deserve to.

I am angry tonight and I am sad.

Monday, August 30, 2004

unconsciousness is elusive

Unfortunately I can not sleep. I have never been very good at going to sleep. I am amazing at sleeping once I have achieved unconsciosness, but getting started with it is damn near impossible until I am completely exhausted.

I am currently reading _the curious incident of the dog in the night_ by Mark Haddon, the main character/narrator of which is an autistic adolescent. Being told through the dry observation and bafflement of this kid's mind, we are let into a world view which craves order and has trouble with too much information coming in at once. He does an amazing job at keeping the information in order in his head, he just is extremely uncomfortable having to process too much all at once. Venturing into a new place sends his mind reeling with all the novel details of the encounter. He frequently resorts to 'moaning' to drown things out, or doing math problems in his head to refocus his mind. The order and rules of it feel safe and secure.

I have been trying to figure out what about his outlook feels so familiar to me. I certainly don't mind new or strange places or people, and don't feel overwhelmed by noises from multiple sources. And laying here three hours into trying to sleep, it struck me that I approach things similarly but from the other side: I am extremely uncomfortable without novelty and distraction.

I do not sleep well in quite places. In fact, the easiest way for me to fall asleep has always been to plant myself in front of a tv. Or to ride in a car. I frequently nod off during my daily commute on the subway (my ride is about an hour each way) but here at night in the peace of my room, after a day of marching the city's streets in protest, after leaving a bar because I was having trouble staying awake, no rest will come. His flood is from external stimuli; mine is internal.

A flood of stimuli lets my focus bounce around and my mind relax.

But I am tired, and as much as my mind refuses to shut down, it also is beginning to refuse to concentrate on the subject at hand so I will leave this until another time. Of course, as soon as I turn off the computer and light, and lay back in the darkness to enjoy the quiet, my mind will start racing and I will begin wondering again. About everything.

Awareness is sleepy.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Sacrificial Design

I have resisted the siren call of blog-dom as long as could, but the cotton slipped from my ears or I wasn’t bound tight enough to the mast or something equally metaphoric because here I am, writing run-on sentences in Daniel’s little outpost of social e-commentary, totally against my better judgment and taste. In my own defense, not only did Daniel pull out the cotton and cut the ropes, but he also kicked me over the side of the ship, gun in hand, while nodding meaningfully towards the shoreline. I hold him personally responsible for my fallen state.

In any case, this is going to be a post about a few things: industrial design, my high-school self, straight edge punk, and the upcoming Republican National Convention. Let’s start with the grand old RNC, whose delegates are beginning to swarm into New York (or at least some sort of politically-sanitized alternate reality New York where the Metro is free and Harlem doesn’t exist) as we speak. The Convention is predicted to be a wonderfully orchestrated bit of televised propaganda, with the Republican Party going in drag as political moderates, just as the Democrats tried to seem as hawkish and pig-headed as possible during their little Riefenstahl moment last month.

Of course, the counter-development to all this is the formation of many planned protests by various groups and individuals during the Convention. With an eye on the upcoming marches and rallies, the national media has been discussing the violence at the ’68 Democratic Convention and are eagerly licking their chops at the prospect of some of the old ultra-violence with which to titillate their viewers. But aside from the typical fear-mongering, all the current references to Chicago ’68 do serve to bring up a pretty valid point of discussion: how does one protest effectively, without either being ignored by the public or used by the opposition?

The classic example of being used by the opposition comes from ’68, when the Chicago police force basically rioted against the protesters, assaulting them on national television with a great deal of bloodlust and cruelty. However, rather than helping out the anti-war cause or getting any amount of sympathy for the victims of the Daley Gestapo, the American public saw the violence as a confirmation of all their worst fears about the anarchist youth and voted Richard Fucking Nixon into office. Conversely, when marches are both massive and peaceful, they are also completely ignorable, as all the many protests in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq turned out to be.

Either way, it feels like the people in power are already a step ahead of you, as they don’t seem adversely effected by peaceful protest, violent protest, and least of all by apathy-induced lack of protest. And all this put me in mind of sacrificial design, which is a very useful concept in industrial design that can be applied to lots of different things outside of construction, and which will be the subject of the ensuing tangent (we’ll get back to politics soon, I promise).

Let me explain by way of example: say you’re manufacturing a car, and you are told that the most common part of a car to collide with a foreign object is the side-view mirror, given that it sticks out from the body of the vehicle and tends to clip mail-boxes, old ladies, and other cars in narrow parking spaces, etc. You are asked to design a better side-view mirror that won’t snap off every time it hits a by-standing geriatric. Now, you could try and make some sort of indestructible black-box type of mirror, which would never ever break. As satisfying as this would be, however, the mirror would probably end up the size and shape of a small tank, and probably cost as much as well.

Option number two is what most side-view mirror-makers do; create your side-view mirror on a pivot, so that it is designed to give way when it hits something and can then be pushed back into place. And that’s pretty much sacrificial design in a nutshell. You build into your design a way for it to break when confronted with too much stress, so that you can easily restore it back to its original state after the stress has been released. If your plastic action figures keep getting their legs broken off, don’t waste time, aesthetic, functionality, and money by recasting them in metal. Instead, make it so that their legs can be popped off and popped back on again, and your problem is solved.

Incidentally, making things disposable is, I guess, the sort of zenith of sacrificial design, in that you make it irrelevant whether any part of the object can survive stress, since it can be easily and cheaply replaced once broken. Anyway, when I first learned about this concept, it really struck a chord in me, and seemed to be a way of articulating something I had felt for quite a long time.

I went to high school at Northwestern High in Rock Hill, South Carolina (represent!). It was a massive, impersonal institution that I hated very very much. I remember seeing the whole thing in suitably narcissistic and epic terms, with High School as this Orwellian system designed to crush me and re-mold me into some obedient young Republican who loved Big Football Team and did as he was told. Most of the kids that went there hated the place, I guess, as everyone hates high school to some extent. And a lot of the kids rebelled against the oppressive authority of the system by doing what the system told them not to do, whether it be goofing off in class, not studying, drinking on the weekends, or getting fucked up in the parking lot.

Now, I hated the school and the people that ran it, but getting drunk at every available opportunity seemed to me to be a pretty stupid way to rebel against them. As I understood it, they wanted kids to drink. They wanted kids to smoke up and fight in class and get thrown out of school, because it gave them an opportunity to fuck kids over. And on top of it all, it wasn’t even original. Everybody, all the adults running the place as far as I was concerned, had experimented with drugs and drinking and violence in their youth. It was part of the established narcotics of suburbia. It seemed to me that typical "youth rebellion" was a pre-designed path that the powers that be had set up, and they weren’t disturbed at all when kids chose to travel down it.

I think these were things that I felt at the time, but might not have been able to give much expression to. However, later in high school, when I first came into contact with the ideology guiding straight edge music and culture, it seemed like something really familiar and I responded very strongly to it. I’m not really militant about alcohol and drug use and take a pretty libertarian attitude towards what people choose to do in their personal lives, but in my personal life, not drinking and not taking narcotics has been a way for me to be more assertive and active and in control, if that makes any sense.

But back to sacrificial design and straight edge philosophy. I think that the way drugs and alcohol were used by high school administrators (and by the legal administrators of this country in general (the continued criminalization of drugs is no accidental occurrence)) is a perfect example of a system of power built along the principals of sacrificial design. In fact, I think any really successful system of power will make sure there are ways of rebelling against the status quo that will do the system no harm (and will, in many cases, only serve to strengthen it). But being straight edge was a way for me to fuck with the rules of that system. Ultimately, I’m not sure that my choices did much to tear that system down, but it certainly kept it from tearing me down, and I’ll count that as a victory.

In any case, here we are on the eve of the Republican National Convention, with many unsavory options before us. I sincerely believe that peaceful marches are not going to have much effect, violence will have a manifestly negative effect, and apathy will have less than no effect (whether that’s logically possible or not). Conventional means of protest have simply been co-opted into the design of the dominant system of power (a system that includes the Democratic Party just as much as the Republican (and yes I know that the Democrats are different from the Republicans in many positive ways, but they are still two sides of one globally hegemonic coin)).

And I know that this is a pretty unsatisfactory note to end on, but I don’t have a fourth option, the one that can go outside the system and really challenge those in power effectively. I hope someone does, and maybe Daniel and I and our circle of friends can come up with one, because another sincere belief of mine is that with our powers combined, we can form an invincible Voltron-like robot of political action (or artistic action, or party action, or whatever the situation calls for). But until that time, however, heaven preserve us from another four years of the Naked Emperor, and God bless Fugazi.