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.)