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.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

inspiring and terrifying...

Sistani is going to Najaf with a massive peaceful march. Juan Cole knows more about this stuff than me:

Sistani Returns, Launches March
Sadrist Ceasefire Announced


I was raised on Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as our modern heros so my first inclination is to believe that peaceful resistance will be greeted with praise and positive change.

I'm a little older now and it scares the bejezuz out of me. If it goes right, this could be the beginning of something powerful and positive in Iraq and perhaps even throughout the Middle East.

But I am scared. The same century that gave us Gandhi also gave us Tianamen. And a little closer to Najaf, Rachel Corrie. My prayers are with Sistani and his followers and our troops in the city tonight.

Perhaps history must be repeated, but you have a choice of which history. Please choose carefully.

Monday, August 23, 2004

a last straw, rehashed...

Eric Alterman's quote of the day from a few days ago sounded familiar:

Quote of the Day: "As frank as I can be," Alabama's GOP chairman said last year, "we're opposed to it because felons don't tend to vote Republican."

So I followed his link, and of course it was from last year's stink. For those of you who aren't from AL or are and just didn't pay attention, Riley had a chance to be the first decent govenor in memorable past in the Camellia State; he had a progressive tax plan ready to help the state take care of the all the crap bush and co. were shovelling down the pike, that was being lauded far and wide as being sensible and well balanced. If you aren't from the lovely state, you may not be hyper aware of the fact that our state very rarely gets positive ink in the rest of the country.

You may also not know that people in Alabama vote. And particularly black people vote.

Legislation had passed to give the right to vote back to felons after they finished serving their sentence. Not really such controversial stuff, until you get such crap as the above quote spits out, which seems fairly honest and blunt until you realize he means '[black people] don't tend to vote republican' and most felons in AL are black.

Being extremely aware ahead of time that this issue would make or break a huge segment of the voting block needed to pass his tax plan and having seen how effectively the Alabama public comes out for yes/no votes on stuff like this and unceremoniously drop kicks idiots who try to insult the voting public's intelligence (ie, siegleman's lottery debacle), he decided to veto the felon vote thing.

and I decided that I was done with a token southern vote and registered up here. I was going to keep my voter registration in AL as a little act of good faith with my troubled homeland since I didn't know how long I would be in New York. But that ended that. It was one insult too many. One more stupid idiot who almost has enough sense to do something decent in the state but who lacks the balls and/or moral fiber to do the right thing when the good ole boys need some assurance that they will forever be allowed to throw wrenches into anything that begins to work in the state.

Eric, this quote is old, but boy does it still piss me the fuck off.

Friday, August 20, 2004

reaping what you sow...crops I would rather not harvest

I found this little tid bit linked to on farq, where it was summed up quite succinctly: 'Iran may strike U.S. troops pre-emptively before they become an imminent threat':

Iran threatens to attack US forces in Gulf

Perhaps we should start calling the nekkid emperor "the great farmer" since it looks like his crops grow faster than most. Forget all this platform crap, I want to know what crops our president plans to plant because we are the ones who are going to be eating it later. This dumb fakeass redneck in office can grow the hell out of some shit, but even though a field of cockleburs will be about the prettiest, fastest growing thing you ever saw, you won't like it much when you end up picking it and even less when you find it on your plate.

If we don't get somebody in there fast to do some serious weeding and plant some veggies fast it is going to be a rough winter.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

awareness is graphic

Why is this making me laugh so much? I am kind of giggling even more imagining my parents finding my blog and thinking it not funny at all, just obscene. Maybe this is the difference in mine and my parents' generations: for them, assfuck = funny, is not a true statement. Anyway, click the link and laugh and laugh.

gayboy bunny


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Polls schmolls and when parents are stupid.

There is a wonderful poll on a pressing current issue on the opening page of CMT.com: "Sara Evans will be performing at the Republican National Convention this year. Good idea?"

Ok, this pisses me off for a couple of reasons.

1) Only marginal artists for whom being a moron is part of their whole schtick or washed up weirdos are supposed to play for this Repub convention. Like kid rock. You just expect him to be dumb and totally uninformed about politics... and basically everything else. He is opinionated and tries hard to stay uninformed and avoid hearing other viewpoints. But I like Sarah Evans and part of her appeal is that she comes across as a somewhat sensitive, intelligent person. This admin has gone out of its way to distance itself from both sensitivity and intelligence; she should not sing for them

2)The wording of this and every other damn push poll in this country. "Push poll? Easy tiger, this is just a little celebrity poll..." Bullshit, the wording of the poll choices leave only a few options:

'yes, she's speaking out for something she believes in.'

so you can say you are a heartless republican android in support of this admin and all who fall in line for their horrid crap, or...

'maybe, but I'd rather she just sing for everybody.'

you are a bland centrist moron who just wants everyone to get along, but you still nod that it is ok.

'no, a performer should stay quiet about politics.'

if a bunch of people say no, we will say how they think performers should stay quiet about politics.

'don't know'

gee, I don't know about all this politics stuff or I would probably support her singing there.

If you 'don't know' don't take the poll. But where are the options for people like me? Where is the 'no, I like Sarah Evans and don't want her idelibly associated with the bullgoose-loopy freaks in office' or perhaps the 'no, I don't want her inside the worlds largest bullseye with them most consolidated mass of globally disliked americans ever assembled'?

I don't think that entertainers should stay quiet about politics, but I do think they should only step into the fray when things are so fucked up that they have to and they should make damn sure they are on the right side of things and that they are well informed.

Just a note that is going to sound really arrogant and dogmatic and I don't care: if you are supporting bush's re election, you are on the wrong side of things and you are not well informed. Repeating republican talking points is not the same as being well informed. That is being well programmed.

Polls schmolls. My dad pissed me off like crazy when I was home last. Not intentionally. Not trying to. That would be ok and probably make me laugh, but by being stupid in the most common and dumb ways.

My parents are not and have never been stupid people. They have always been kind generous souls even if a little sarcastic and blunt at times, and have great analytical minds when they care to bother. And they used to be very circumspect about talking about things they aren't well informed about.

I guess they kind of still are, but even though they kind of don't bother a whole lot with current events (certainly not in the ridiculous obsessive way I do), the talking points still make appearences and drive me up the wall. Hearing my dad talk about Kerry flip flopping or my mom letting the dumbest of scandinavia gay marriage horror stuff slip casually hurts my soul.

I bring all this up because at some point we talked about polls. I said politicians pay too damn much attention to polls and not enough time really researching issues. Dad responds "of course they should listen to polls; that is their job, to do what the people want them to do." No, that is not their job. Their job is to represent the people and work for the collective best interests with the Constitution outline the guiding principles for that. Yes, people should have an influence in what our best interests are, but it shouldn't funtion like training a dog: roll over and you will get a vote.

Any remotely functional adult should know better than to think that what you want is always the same thing as what is good for you. I want leave work early and go play soccer and eat french fries and milkshakes for dinner every night and start drinking at 10 in the morning and sleep in late. They don't all work together and they wouldn't be fun if I did them all the time.

So sure politicians should listen to what people have to say, and sometimes polls are a good way to do this, but the way polls are worded to elicit a certain response ("I like Sara Evans supporting this republican administration and thereby support them too, or I just am kind of tired of thinking about politics when trying to be entertained, or I am kind of out of it.") and swung around like a drunk with a sticker bush. Pols aren't using polls to divine the concerns and pressing issues of the masses to better understand how to guide policy to address these concerns, they are using them as tools to justify their agendas and distract people (or themselves) from the selfish crap they are doing.

this is something my dad should be telling me (and I think has at some point), not telling me that politicians are supposed to be doing what we want.

Fine, I want a 4 day weekend, universal health care, nationwide public trasportation, and better lottery odds.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Awareness is music...

I honestly have no idea if anyone else out there is really reading this, but if you are, you may have noticed that I frequently mention my friend Mason. He is a spectactular partner in crime and he accepted my invite for him to also blog at will in this little experiment. Unfortunately, what Mason is best at is procrastinating, so he has yet to contribute a damn thing.

One thing that Mason does almost as well though is music. The kid finds great music like nobody's business and makes the best mix cds you could possibly imagine and his song writing is only getting better. So if I am going to properly lure him into giving his soul over to this dark underworld of the blogosphere, I have to point out to him (and all of you, my vast adoring public) that there is music here. Yup, Mase, you can blog music and folks are out there doing it right now.

just as starters, here are a couple:

Fluxblog Is Not Essing Around and Teaching The Indie Kids to Dance Again

Insulting, misleading things are no less insulting and misleading when said politely

I dont' always agree with Eric Alterman but I like his site and always like reading his commentary, but the best thing about his blog is the regular commentary from Charles Pierce. His letters show up at least every friday and are always worth reading. Last week's said many of the things that I had been thinking regarding Laura's performance playing hitman for the stemcell issue. His stuff is always fun to read, but I am particularly fond of anything invoking Nancy...

MSNBC - Altercation: "If there's a god in heaven, Laura Bush will get caught in a Green Room one day with Nancy Reagan."

Personally, if there is an Oprah in Chicago, she should have a first ladies show with Laura, Hillary, and Nancy sitting on a stage together.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Some please tell me the best case scenario for why this is happening.

This little link I noticed on Farq say that Bush is going to pull a hundred thousand troops out of Europe and Asia.

Maybe there are really good reasons for this. Maybe there is some positive well thought out reason for moving that many troops around. I know we need more troops in Iraq, but I have this nagging feeling that this may not be that simple...

Thursday, August 12, 2004

"Oh dear!"

"Oh dear!" is Molly Ivins' superhero power.

She is the kind of blunt old lady I would like to be if I were ever going to be an old lady (no, Molly, I am not calling you old, but yours is a superpower of sarcastic maturity and I have this feeling that you will only get better with age). Actually, this is probably the kind of old lady that Mason will one day be.

bullgoose-loopy

I love Jim Hightower. This is the kind of cranky old man I aspire to be one day.

Beyond Loopy -- In These Times: "Having spent the past four years crisscrossing America to uncover the real state of the union under King George the W and his rabid band of Bushites, I have come to a disturbing conclusion:

THESE PEOPLE ARE NUTS!

We're talking bullgoose-loopy, ideological freaks whose snorting rampages pose a threat to us all and to all we hold dear. It's not that they're a little to the right. No. They're insane zealots dedicated to implementing their plutocratic, autocratic, antidemocratic, militaristic, and imperialistic vision of America (and the world) and it's time we stopped beating around the bush about it."

I really want to be able to use the term "bullgoose-loopy" and have it sound natural. Mason has this supernatural power to use the term "harumph!" without anyone thinking it sounds odd and totally understanding what he means and making other people subconsciously start saying it themselves, and Jim Hightower has so many plainspokenly goofyish vocabularal superhero powers. I am totally jealous.

What kind of superhero power do I get? My most sincere expression of sympathy comes out as a dryly delivered "bummer" which is generally about as well received as you might imagine and I tend to abuse the rules of capitalization vendictively according to how I am feeling about who or whatever I am writing about at the time. Not so much communicative superpowers as they are handicaps.

Harumph!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

'Suicide Tango Dancers... With Exploding Enchilladas'

The article this links to is required reading.

WorkingForChange-Will Venezuela get the Florida treatment?: "Whatever it is, OUR President has decided that THEIR president has to go. This is none too easy given that Chavez is backed by Venezuela's poor. And the US oil industry, joined with local oligarchs, has made sure a vast majority of Venezuelans remain poor.

Therefore, Chavez is expected to win this coming Sunday's recall vote. That is, if the elections are free and fair.

They won't be. Some months ago, a little birdie faxed to me what appeared to be confidential pages from a contract between John Ashcroft's Justice Department and a company called ChoicePoint, Inc., of Atlanta. The deal is part of the War on Terror.

Justice offered up to $67 million, of our taxpayer money, to ChoicePoint in a no-bid deal for computer profiles with private information on every citizen of half a dozen nations. The choice of which nation's citizens on whom to spy caught my eye. While the September 11th highjackers came from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and the Arab Emirates, ChoicePoint's menu offered records on Venezuelans, Brazilians, Nicaraguans, Mexicans and Argentines. How odd. Had the CIA uncovered a Latin plot to sneak suicide tango dancers across the border with exploding enchiladas?

What do these nations have in common besides a lack of involvement in the September 11th attacks? Coincidentally, each is in the throes of major electoral contests in which the leading candidates -- presidents Lula Ignacio da Silva of Brazil, Nestor Kirschner of Argentina, Mexico City mayor Andres Lopez Obrador and Venezuela's Chavez -- have the nerve to challenge the globalization demands of George W. Bush."

We've been making fun of Euro-Disney for years, but theme parks suddenly seem like one of Florida's better international cultural exports now that we are exporting jeb's own special brand of democrazy. We can only pray that the sunny state never starts exporting its architecture or interior decorating.

What has FL been up to anyway? Are they upset that despite their geography they will never be part of the South (if you are reading this from Pensacola thinking to yourself, 'I'm southern and I live in Florida,' you are half right: you are southern, but you live in Alabama, Florida starts in Tallahassee)? It takes more than really bad racist politics to be southern, and God knows we don't have have the corner on that market anymore, we just get more press on it. The real south has been kind of trying to get out of that whole business for a while now anyway, although we have as late have reasserted a strong commitment to consistently having miserably bad governors, even if we have to import them. And as far as bad southern politics go, LA is never going to give up the prize for most fucked up blatantly politics, despite TX's persitent attempts to dethrown them.

Maybe it isn't just Florida that is fucked up. Maybe just getting a bush in office sends everything straight to hell.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Awareness Is Not For The Faint Of Heart

This is more of Margaret Cho's blog musings. She isn't kidding when she says that this is Not For The Faint Of Heart.

I have to say, I am just beginning to read back through her blog entries. I have always liked her comedy, but am really just beginning to really pay attention to her. The level of deeply personal sincerity she lays out in her writing is amazing. This isn't done anonymously, but she isn't holding back or softening the blows. Few people display this level of awareness in intimate conversation, much less a public forum.

It kind of gets at the whole reason this blog is named "Awareness is Painful." It is sort of that flip side of "Ignorance is Bliss," but please note that I don't make this comparison as a criticism of awareness or a celebration of ignorance. Quite the opposite.

One night in a discussion with my boyfriend, when I talked about the value I placed on awareness and the work I put into it, his response was "ignorance is bliss". "Ignorance is death," was my reply.

I understand the desire for ignorance though. If you are very, very lucky, it can be a pretty place to stay. I just also know that it is too late for him (any of us). You can't return to ignorance. You can cultivate apathy or hide in denial or paint the world with convincing assumptions/rationalizations, but these aren't ignorance. And despite their pretty promises, they have no bliss to give, only hope to steal. Ignorance is ugly and naked. It smiles down the barrel of a gun. It is dumb and boring and was wisely left back in old dull eden.

The closest drug that can replicate ignorance is avoidance, but again this is one that requires being taken with awareness to keep you out of danger. If you aren't aware of what to avoid, avoidance doesn't do a whole hell of a lot of good. But the faint hearts do get good at knowing what to avoid or knowing how to only acknowledge the tragedies 'over there' that are happening to 'them.' (if you didn't read it already, more on ignorance in my last post)

The thing is though, I don't have a negative outlook on the world and I think you would be hard pressed to argue that Margaret Cho does either. Awareness is painful but it is also so much more. Some things are so bad and so ugly, but so much is so beautiful and amazing. A while back I whittled most of my prayers down to "Wow," and "Thank you," and started directing my demands for a better world towards my fellow citizens. I learned better than asking them for justice; they just twist and screw it up. I ask instead for mercy and grace.

It will never cease to amaze me how important these two things are to central Christian teachings and how rarely (if ever) our christian-right loudmouths and their minions call for either unless it is for their demonstrably righteous own, or even really credit God's capacity for these things. falwell, dobson, reed, and the nekkid emperor all preach justice and revenge and holy holy holy, but charity is a side note and if all those different people weren't so different then maybe they would be blessed too. Go fuck yourselves.

Before I get carried away, Margaret, you made me cry at work today. Thank you, for the tears and your witness (the beautiful Quaker 'bearing witness' -not flinching and turning away from or rationalizing away the pain you see-, not the creepy southern baptisty conquestial 'witness').

Innocence Lost...

not mine, of course. No, actually in a way, exactly. Ira Glass wrote a piece in Sunday's New York Times magazine (not the current one, this is from an old email to Mason) on Howard Stern and censorship and he was saying when he asked someone who had spearheaded some of these FCC letterwriting campaigns what harm was done to children by seeing a second of Janet Jackson's breast or hearing Howard Stern talk about anal sex. His reply? It destroyed "the innocence of childhood." There are so many problems with this way of thinking and what it says about us being a nation of overgrown titty-babies, but leaving all that for another day and another conversation, can I say for the record that having my "innocence of childhood" destroyed was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I don't think the words 'innocence' and 'childhood' are understood very well in this country. Children are not innocent, they are just misinformed. Parents and teachers are not trying to maintain their innocence, just their ignorance.

What in the hell is the "innoncence of childhood" supposed to mean? What is the loss of innocence other than becoming an adult? And am I the only person around who seems to know that children don't just lose their innoncence out of nowhere? Say a dirty word and a child is suddenly craven and dirty, his mind teeming with all manner of horrible thoughts. No, that comes with a chemical onslaught in puberty and either they don't know what to call their feelings and run the risk of misdirecting them or mislabelling them, or they do get an idea of where it is coming from and what to call it. Have all these idiots that worship Genesis (thankfully not the band) not realized that innoncence (as in "loss of innoncence") = stupidity? "Things aren't the way I thought they were...wah wah wah!!!" Shut the fuck up and grow up you idiots. So what? More stupid people grew up in stupid middleclass homes and had comfort and enough other comfortable people around to keep believing that that was the norm, the way it was supposed to be and so they all cry like stupid babies when things don't go their way. Thank God they are here to try to impress their fucked up suburban picket fence idea of how things are supposed to be on the rest of us who are willing to face the world and try to make it function as well as it can for as many people as possible.

Destroying the 'innoncence of childhood' = wake up call about what the world is really like

but all things concidered, children who saw Janet's boob didn't get a wake up call or have any innocence destroyed; they had something funny to talk about and silly questions to ask other misinformed kids. They have an excuse to see who knows the most words to describe breasts. Any parent who finds their child troubled or horrified by seeing this part of a body should look at themselves as the ones who have given their child this terror and fear. If you want to teach your child that something is bad, how about violence?

Anyway, innocence has never been anything but a stupid excuse and a weak one at best. As far as innocence and other stupid concepts like it are concerned, I say bombs away.

Monday, August 09, 2004

promiscuous homo-abortionists: the secret power-weilding scourge of America

As if we even had any control over our own minions (do you think we really want andrew sullivan blogging like a maniac and speaking for us? would you let him speak for you? -if you answered that in the affirmative, go away...now), now okie repubs think we are some sex-crazed illuminati. So yeah, 'sex-crazed' isn't really the most ridiculous accusation I have heard levelled at us, but take ten single straight boys and ten single gay boys and the only difference in the craziness of the sex we aspire to will be in how likely it is that we could achieve it. And whose babies are we trying to abort? Getting pregnant is the one sexual consequence that doesn't really scare me too much.

Anyway, as pointed out on AMERICAblog, this is just kind of stupid:

"'The gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power. ... That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today. Why do you think we see the rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That's a gay agenda.'' - Tom Cobun, republican US Senate candidate from Oklahama"

Ok, so gay people are fighting for marriage rights because we want multiple partners and we aren't reproducing because we keep aborting our babies. Thank goodness for the abortion doctors or I would probably stay knocked up all the time from my twenty different partners a day. Does this mean the rightwing wackos are working for our agenda when they try to keep us from getting married or adopting kids?

Reckless endangerment: what happens when policy and security concerns are traded for photo ops and soundbites...

Of course Juan Cole covers this whole Khan thing better than I could, but really, is anyone suprised? I think this points to the main problem with this administration: their only concern is for saving face in the short term.

They start spewing new alert stuff to clog the airwaves and public discourse after a really great Dem convention and people question it so they spit out figures and documents and names carelessly. For them, terror threats are not problems to be solved, but political tools. The international implications of what goes on are after thoughts and if the US public weren't so diligent in trying to stay up with what is going on, I doubt they would even be that.

I think these guys have been gunning for WWIII since before they got in office and don't really put a whole lot past them. Have we been experiencing intelligence failures or is all the sabotage intentional? Second-rate fishermen who want to flex their macho by bagging a big shark have often resorted to chumming the water. When they chum near the beach and someone loses a leg, are they heroes if they catch that shark later?

It sounds harsh to say that they don't care if someone gets bit if they can stand up on the dock with a trophy but they do nothing to counter this image. The admin is more concerned about the election than their job. If it were more politically expedient to say everything is safe, they would do it.

I guess they try to do both, but seriously, do you think a man who wouldn't go back to Washington or really even show his face most of the day when the nation needed him on 9/11 would let his wife and kids go to what his admin were touting as know terrorist targets if he thought them credible? There is a terror alert, be very afraid; don't interrupt your daily life, it is safe enough for my wife to go to the stock exchange.

give me a f*ckin' break.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Regular Guys shouldn't be allowed to blog.

I guess that a blog that bears his name should produce brilliant, cutting social commentary. Only makes sense. So...

GeorgeWBush.com :: Official Blog :: August 01, 2004 - August 07, 2004 Archive: "Second, cops and firefighters are, if the women in the ranks will forgive the expression, Regular Guys. They drink beer, not wine, and certainly not French wine. They played football and baseball in high school, not lacrosse... Regular Guys do not blame Secret Service agents (who are Regular Guys) for knocking them down on the ski slopes, especially when those agents are there to take bullets for them. And Regular Guys relate to and prefer the company of other Regular Guys; they do not invite people like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck to their conventions. ..."

Thank God we have insecure teenage boys speaking for the police and firemen of this country. Who knew that the people doing some of the most butch jobs in the country would need republican nerds to tell them how to be Regular Guys? Listen kiddo, I truly doubt there are many in this world who think blogger who avoid French wine and inappropriately capitalize things really have a whole lot of valid advice on how to be manly for the nation's finest. Anyone who thinks being 'regular' (when did this become a goal to pursue?) and macho is about what beverage you drink or what sport you played in highschool. Since when was lacrosse a pansy sport? Someone needs to take the keyboard away from whoever wrote this crud.

Maybe this is why the CIA Asked Bush To Discontinue Blog.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Mean what you say...

Reuters has an article today on what it bills at the nekkid emperor's latest malapropism titled Bush Misspeak Cites U.S. Readiness to Harm U.S.


The mispeak? Well, according to them...

"'Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we,' Bush said. "

Which part was the misspeak? Sounds more honest than most things he said. Just cause he didn't mean to say it doesn't make it untrue...

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Awareness is bizarre...

In case, like me, you mainly hook up to the internet in hopes of finding a terrifying christian ventriloquist doll singing songs for children which you can listen to as mp3's, I wanted to direct everyone tothe marcy zone Amongst the more notable song titles: "I Love Little Pussy" (I am not making this up).

"I mean, we wouldn't be, you know..."

the Times on the current terror threats:

The New York Times > Washington > The Overview: Reports That Led to Terror Alert Were Years Old, Officials Say

and WAPO on the same with a golden quote from our golden leader:

Pre-9/11 Acts Led To Alerts (washingtonpost.com): "'It's serious business,' Bush said. 'I mean, we wouldn't be, you know, contacting authorities at the local level unless something was real.' "

Great convention guys, but we get to declare terror threats and put teenagers with bad acne and guns in subway stations based on old info. Yeah, the terror is so bad but don't stop working and buying things.

"I mean, we wouldn't be, you know..." The sad thing is that the news seems to try to get his most well spoken moments. He should be required to hold his press conferences in mall food courts.

Forget the broccoli, would you like another candybar?

This is from drudge, so its veracity is questionable, and throw in that ol' den hastert (who is what I imagine Drew Carey might be like if he weren't funny and intelligent, just fatter and a selfish asshole) is part of the story and chances are that this is just so much spinning smoke, but everyone's favorite closet-case has a little story saying that the psycho-repubs (these people just really aren't anything like real republicans in anything but name, but I am still waiting for the real Republicans to stand up and take their party back) are planning to eliminate the IRS.

Ok, no one likes the IRS. I'm not inviting too many IRS agents to my dinner parties, but you know what? I do like roads and schools and public parks and even the f'n military. Yeah, sure - we will just pay for everything with sales taxes. Could you make the taxes on fast food cost more than the food itself? That would be so cool. If I could just pay more for everything all the time, wow!!!! Please, let me vote for that.

This is like when every dumb kid in elementary school gets asked, "What would you do if you were president?" "I would make homework illegal and give everyone in America french fries and icecream for dinner every night," or some variation there of. Sure it is cute to hear a kid talk about making recess all day long by law or locking the least popular kid in school in jail forever, but this is exactly the reason we don't let kids run the govenment. And did no one show these idiots any very-special-episodes of eighties sitcoms or a kids in charge movies?

When the mean old babysitter dies (don't tell Mom!) while your parents are gone for the summer, sure it is more fun to shoot the plate as your brother throws them off the roof instead of washing them, but then you have nothing to eat on and you start fighting and your hot older sister has to fake a resume and get a fabulous job in fashion, but the point is you still have to make things work. When kids run wild, Cherry gets trapped in an old refrigerator and almost dies!

Ask Piggy what he thinks about how kids run things.

Sorry if I am calling a bunch of sad old men children, but sorry, saying you are going to get rid of the IRS is the political eqivalent of saying you are going to replace vegetables with candy bars in the cafeteria when you are class president in elementary school.

I hear ya Jenny: Lord protect us from what we want.

My apologies if this just turns out like so much of drudge -irresponsible spin- but sorry guys, bad ideas are what you are best at.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Smarter than what?

Do you ever get the feeling that this admin's stooges try to make their points like Bugs Bunny trying to confuse Daffy Duck

The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > Bush Planning August Attack Against Kerry: "Mr. Dowd said: 'I don't think anybody bought that. In the course of a speech when he talks about taking the high road, he's talking about Enron, he's talking about polluters, he's talking about that we want to mislead. Voters are smarter than that.'"

I guess it is nice that they acknowledge that they are the party of Enron, polluters, and intentional misleading, but as far as their Looney Tunes aspirations, they come across more like Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam (like shooting at things, trouble with the English language, and dont get me started on their logic). Or maybe that little chickenhawk that was always pestering Foghorn Leghorn.

First amendment? I don't need no stinking first amendment!

First, from Jim Hightower:

'George W's Independence Day trip to Charleston was billed as an official presidential visit, not a campaign rally. Nicole and Jeff –– two patriotic, hardworking, taxpaying Americans –– were in the crowd, quietly exercising their free-speech rights. They wore T-shirts declaring: "Love America, Hate Bush."

They had proper tickets to the event, they proudly sang the National Anthem with everyone else, they were in no way disorderly –– but they were not politically correct, so they were summarily arrested, taken to jail, finger printed... and charged with "trespassing." Others who were there wearing pro-Bush T-shirts and Bush campaign paraphernalia at this public event on public property were not arrested. It seems that the Bushites define "trespassers" by their political beliefs.'



...and from Joshua Micah Marshall over at Talking Points Memo:

'There have been various stories over recent months of people being ejected from Bush rallies for wearing anti-Bush t-shirts and stuff of that sort, with the rationale often being a rather improbable concern for security.

But this Dick Cheney speech in New Mexico seems to be the first instance where would-be attendees were compelled to pledge personal fealty to President Bush in order to get in the front door.

According to this Associated Press story, certain members of the public were required to sign a pledge to endorse President Bush in order to get tickets.'


I would ask if these creeps could manage to sink any lower with their tactics and gross contempt of the Constitution and values of this country, but I just really can't take the answer today. Please don't answer tomorrow either. We believe you already, it isn't a dare, you are the dirtiest, nastiest fighters around. Nothing left to prove.

American Civil Liberties Union, anyone? I have to admit that I haven't become a member yet but it just might be time.

what you are doing wednesday night...

If you are in New York and not somewhere backwards and far away, some horrible cultural desert (like, say... South Carolina, like Mason), then you should go to this event Weds. night:

PEN American Center presents:
State of Emergency: Unconventional Readings

featuring Laurie Anderson, Paul Auster, Russell Banks, Michael Cunningham, Don DeLillo, Joan Didion, Ariel Dorfman, Eve Ensler, Jonathan Safran Foer, Barbara Goldsmith, A.M. Homes, A.E. Hotchner, Margo Jefferson, Edward P. Jones, Walter Dean Myers, Salman Rushdie, Monique Truong, Kurt Vonnegut, and others to be announced.

Wednesday, August 4th at 7:00 pm (doors at 6:30)
The Great Hall, Cooper Union: 7 East 7th Street at Third Avenue

FREE ADMISSION

for more information, call PEN at 212 334 1660 x 107 or email andrea@pen.org

cosponsored by the Cooper Union Office for Continuing Education and Public Programs


See you there (well, not you Mase; bummer).

fence mending and speedy devil-horses

God bless Will Ferrell:

Will Ferrell - A message from White House West

When did he stop doing parody and start doing re-enactments?

Why does Doctors Without Borders hate freedom so much?

In a letter written to Altercation Friday, a reader points international news sources for the scoop on why Doctors Without Borders are pulling out of Afganistan:

"For the inside scoop on why Medecins sans Frontiers (pardon my mangled French) left Afghanistan, go check out some French papers. Or something filed by AFP. The main reason they left was because U.S. troops were issuing leaflets saying medical help would be withheld unless people started turning in, or ratting out, those the U.S. considers terrorists. MSF thought that to be very dangerous to their personnel. To say nothing of offensive. And I think they are right on both counts." (italics mine - d.e.g.)

WTF?!!!!

We bombed your country, ineffectively invaded because we needed to send our troops to a country with 'better targets', destroying infrastructure and barely disabling the jackasses who were running the country and are now allowing them to come back, and we are so sorry that you are sick and injured but we can't let you get medical attention until you find a weird cousin or unpopular neighbor to turn in as a terrorist.

At least the folks running things abroad are taking care to win the hearts and the minds of the people. No wonder we are sooooo much safer than we were four years ago.