"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

May 31, 2011

Roseanne Barr, Badass

"...Call me immodest—moi?—but I honestly think Roseanne is even more ahead of its time today, when Americans are, to use a technical term from classical economics, screwed. We had our fun; it was a sitcom. But it also wasn’t The Brady Bunch; the kids were wiseasses, and so were the parents. I and the mostly great writers in charge of crafting the show ­every week never forgot that we needed to make people laugh, but the struggle to survive, and to break taboos, was equally important. And that was my goal from the beginning...

...Hollywood hates labor, and hates shows about labor worse than any other thing. And that’s why you won’t be seeing another Roseanne anytime soon. Instead, all over the tube, you will find enterprising, overmedicated, painted-up, capitalist whores claiming to be housewives."

Roseanne - And I Should Know

h/t The Activist

Them and Us

Received from Them:

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Crow,

Please accept this letter as notification that -------- has been absent two (2) full days from school. These absences have been deemed unexcused. As you know from the Student Code of Conduct and Attendance Policy provided to you and your child on the first day of school, unexcused absences are prohibited. As the absences are unexcused -------- is being documented as truant from school.

Enclosed please find a copy of --------'s attendance record and a copy of the Manchester School District Policy and Regulations regarding attendance. Should -------- continue to be truant from school, it will be necessary to schedule a meeting with you to develop an attendance plan.

The Manchester School District takes the compulsory attendance laws very seriously. We are committed to work with you to address --------'s attendance issues in a timely manner to ensure that -------- receives the maximum benefit from education. Please contact me to confirm that you have received this letter and understand the attendance requirements. Thank you.


Principal High Muckety Muck"

To Whom It May Concern:

Kindly go fuck yourself. There is no plan we need to develop, here. There's less than a month of school left. Our son has missed two days of compulsory education, for which we made phone calls to you in advance. Since we did not follow up these phone calls with written confirmation, you have (using the cowardly passive voice) decided to attempt to frighten us into compliance with threats of reaction. Like cowards everywhere, you hide behind the law.

It is not our requirement that our children attend school for attendance's sake alone. It's our intent to prepare them for survival, happiness and even joy in an often cold and cruel world. That will occasionally include those courses which you offer by way of mandatory educational incarceration, provided by involuntary taxation which invariably falls hardest on those who benefit least from its collection, who suffer most in the application of your laws and your punishment. But, it will also include knowledge you would never think to offer - knowledge of the land, of the people and kin from whom we come, and most importantly of all, of the class in which we belong. We teach them to identify forthrightly with our class. To accept the reality of the class war which you, in your own small way, represent. We have taught them to distrust you. We have encouraged the mistrust of any system with people like you in charge; people who take a paycheck in order to produce stunted, thwarted mockeries of free women and men. We accept neither your bureaucratic salvationism, nor your industrial education. In fact, we choose to be its adversaries.

If our children also make that choice, we will support them in it. Gladly.

You have not frightened us with your law.

You have given us a most excellent and unexpected opportunity to prove the truth of the lessons we've taught our children about you. A kind of mathematical proof of the logic of degradation.

For that we are deeply grateful.

Still, we ask that you fuck yourself. It's a matter of human decency.

May 30, 2011

Climbing The Mountain

I went to a wedding.

I was the only man not wearing a suit. A blemish which did not go unremarked. Over the course of several hours, my suitlessness was pointed out to me on a least four separate occasions. The fifth time, I tried to make a joke of it with a cousin. Defensively. Preemptively. She squirmed, embarrassed for me. I don't think she was uncomfortable because I was the only man - the only male, in fact; one of my other brothers' sons were kitted out in suit and tie - dressed like a pauper.

I made her uncomfortable because I didn't know how to be that pauper.

I don't own a suit. I've never owned a suit. A fact which I could not have said bothered me until about a half hour before the wedding. If you'd caught me sometime last week, I would probably proudly have boasted that no suit and tie had ever sullied my tiny little closet, or the hair on my chest.

In hindsight, I'd have been lying.

My youngest brother's wedding, and I the oldest brother, a fucking scrub.

I didn't want it to bother me. But, by not owning that suit, I was broadcasting my failures. I was a note of comparison. I don't want it to be true: I'd have informed you on Friday that these failures were in fact successes.

I didn't know, only four days ago, how little I believed it.

So, I worked.

I took over every portion of the meal not contracted out to caterers. I swept floors. I washed counters. I even did laundry. You can ask my wife - I try to never do laundry. I'm pretty sure I didn't know why at the time, but the closer to the actual wedding we got, the harder I worked. I fucking rocked that bruschetta. It's already been shit out by a hundred careless and causal eaters. My shame has not.

As my younger brothers began to dress, to compare their matching ties, their expensive shoes, their expertly tailored single breasted, narrow cut blazers, I started to tick off all the choices I've made, the ones which distanced me from the lives my brothers live.

I was a runaway at fourteen. A ward of the state by fifteen. A flight risk, an opium runner, a dealer, a robber and a house burglar before my eighteenth birthday. I went through a window with a pick axe because, damn it, people freeze the fuck up when you smash into their houses, cherry red hair in a top knot, double fisting an axe, aglow with the halo of their shattered picture windows. If, afterward, you calmly ask them for their gilded sundries, they tend to hand them over nicely.

I plotted to kill a dear friend's father, her raping, fucking untouchable fire chief bastard motherfucking dad. I've written this before - but I didn't believe her the first time she told me. She invited me to her window, one night. Naive and stupid, I arrived to see a thing for which I wish I'd long ago gouged out my eyes. And for the second time in my life, made the real and resolute decision to murder a person who deserved it. I was seventeen. With an act of courage and inexplicable strength, she chose not to hold me to my promise. By eighteen I was homeless, a long winter in Boston. By nineteen, I'd been to rehab twice. And was an involuntary captive of the state, yet again.

It went on like that for years, until broken and beat to glue, I took a promotion at one of my cover jobs* and decided that my labor was something more and less than revolutionary. I was starving. I could no longer look potheads, junkies and trippers in the face without feeling an explosive contempt and a cold, frightening hatred.

I had a baby on the way.

And a soul deadening exhaustion.

But, I was always convinced of my own pride. It wasn't that I was unbreakable. After you've been strapped to a restraining bed in a padded room of a state hospital and begged Jesus for death before they fucking stick another pill down your throat and take away your mental health in the name of an official sanity, you don't get to pretend you've never been broken.

It was simpler than any lie of heroic resistance.

I was, I thought, equal to my own pride in merely surviving. In beating the odds. Murdered friends. Friends jailed forever for murder. Four roommates, and more, lost to AIDS. Suicide. Overdoses. Death by alcoholic vehiculation. Twenty year stretches. Insanity. Willful diabetic self-destruction. Pancreatic cancer. Amphetamine exits. Abnegation by way of abusive marriages.

All of them broken by a simple fact of existence: by the failure to make the right compromises.

My brothers made the right compromises.

And each of them is successful. Well adjusted. Content. They own property. I don't have a high school diploma.

Like those friends and fellow travelers on the way, I made a different set of compromises - the ones I've always believed to be born of resistance, by a refusal to cooperate. I thought I'd paid my dues and the heavy price of survival.

I thought I had a reason to be proud, for choosing to survive the compromise of degradation instead of choosing its polar counterpart, complicity and assimilation.

Then my brothers and their friends tightened their matching hundred dollar ties, looking dapper and dashing.

And on the side of a northern mountain - one I'd climbed earlier that day, two miles up the road, along fresh moose tracks, to the songs of birds whose names I've never learned, high enough to pop a blood vessel in my arm and one on my forehead - it all seemed like nothing because I can't afford a suit, because I've never been to England, or Spain, or Italy and Mexico, to any of the places my brothers have been and never thought to invite their loser oldest brother.

Because my sons could see that I was the only man at that wedding too poor to buy himself a costume required by culture and custom.

Because I was the goddamned cautionary tale.

That's our older brother, I vainly imagined them whispering, the failed rebel, the man who helped seize a federal institution and who held it long enough to get the press' attention, and then took flight when they started to take it seriously. The convict, the reprobate, the idiot who thinks his stupidity is a refusal to compromise, who got a full boat to Dartmouth and reacted by running away. He's been a Jesus freak, a Buddhist hermit, a drug dealing snake and a silly damned communist revolutionary. He's run nightclubs, grocery stores, biker bars, coffee houses, gas stations and chain restaurants. He's sold liquor, petroleum, LSD and the best most ass-kicking shrooms this side of Texas. He still tells that stupid story about holding his own with GG Allin and a couple of scumgirls somewhere between Lowell and the Manch-Vegas. It's all faded glory and he's got nothing to show for it.

I don't want to care what they think. I really don't.


I do.

And that's an indictment on the way to my inevitable conviction.

There's no escape. I've climbed the mountain. It has a prison atop it.

I'm sitting here, writing to you outside its humble doorway. Facing my jailer.

He's wearing my face.

And I'm afraid that there's nothing I can do about it...

* - one of the sad truths of semi-successful drug dealing is that you have to be able to explain your income. Most of us who managed to avoid prison - at least, for dealing - worked two and three jobs as a cover. Plus, work is a good place to meet people who need the chemistry of escape. Really successful drug dealers own pharmaceutical conglomerates and drug cartels. They don't have to work. They can afford accountants and lawyers.

May 25, 2011

Reading the Daily News: Oprah

I picked up the NY Daily News yesterday. I don't know why. Waiting for the clock to tick towards 9:15, so I could have an obscene dry raspy whirring, taunting me from behind the steering column, heard by my mechanic, I grabbed a print copy after shuffling through the Boston Globe, the Herald, The Urine Leaker and a coffee stained leftover of Sporting News.

Perhaps it was the picture of "O'bama" raising a glass of Guinness draught on the cover, rediscovering his Eirie whiteness. Or the lede to the page two story: "Le Perv DNA on Maid's Clothes."

I dunno.

Thing is, I read it. Any opportunity to present myself as enlightened, intelligent or possessed of good sense and ennobling pudeur has now official passed.

And I got nothing for it.

The writing is awful.

None moreso than David Hinckley's paean to Oprah:

"...Rich folks, even those that we nonrich folks like and admire, do things that set their lives apart. Big houses and St. Tropez vacations are reminders that F. Scott Fitzgerald was right. The rich are different, or at least lead different lives, and there are moments when those lives look better.

However Oprah lives, whatever she does, she's somehow always conveyed the sense that she can simultaneously be our queen and one of us. She reads the same books, she talks to her best friend on the phone every day, she struggles with extra slices of cake. So good, so bad for you..."  

Rich people are different, maybe even better.  We can tell because their lives are worth living. More  than ours. They do rare and rarefied things. Oprah has all that, but she's awesome and our queen, no fucking less, because she eats cake, talks poop with Dr. Oz and reads Franzen. I see. I gets it now. Oprah is no sister to the dandy emperor of Hapsburg Austria. Oprah is not Marie Antoinette.

I'm glad that's settled. I can finally learn to love her and shit.

Fuck. I don't understand the Oprah phenomenon. Nothing about her is credible. She can't even fake faking it. She makes Zooey Deschanel look like an actress with the range, intensity and attention to detail and nuance of Judi Dench, Helen Mirren or Joan Allen.

And she's a bore.

With that kind of loot, why not try the occasional courage of a rococo decadence?

(later, RTDN: Richard Cohen)

May 23, 2011


"..and it's all falling apart..."

...I heard a woman complain, quietly, as my wife and I took a Sunday saunter in the half-cold, crossing a third of the city to land in a pub for a pint each, and blackened chicken.

We left for coffee and returned home on the heavy vapors of lukewarm beer.

We ate and drank at the only pub in town to regularly show rugby, football and soccer (yes, I put it that way you, you silly POMs). The place where the Aussie, British, Irish, Scot and English speaking European ex-pats all gather to drink warmish beer and watch grown men hug themselves and each other in a violent clutch to grab a ball.

The guy next to us sounded like he was cast right out of The Damned United. Shave headed and balding, crisp shirt, staples on the left side of his scalp, an inch or two above the ear. Staples. I assumed, rugby, which has its local aficionados; the lot of them gather there, planning for the Highland Games for half the year, sporting kilts and Hibernian patches for half of half of the other.

Manly reserve or dumb silence, and all eyes on a match between ManU and Bpool.

With a faceless voice in my head, ringing over and over again, pitched above the football commentary and the lewd jokes about loose girls left behind from another bar, the night before...

 "...and it's all falling apart..."

A tense voice, speaking words which sounded sincere, for all that I had neither face nor context in which to place them...

...I don't know about memes. I so no evidence for the theory. It think it laziness, mostly - the rich boy kind, not the wrath of sloth in protest. Memes are stupid. The word explains nothing - but yet, I had a facsimile of one, a figment of a fraud, doing subvocalizations in my throat, and therefore in my usually and gratefully empty head.

I don't like verbal thoughts. They all seem like lies.

But this repeated phrase did not strike me as a lie, or a self-deception- it does not, still and yet - and I find myself amused to continue wondering why.

An apprehension of a sudden, the moment I heard it, perhaps. An encased and wordless reply. Because I heard her say it, this woman whose face I did not see and for that fail to picture even now as I type, I being the sort who eschews imagination...

...I heard her say it, and mused back alone in my head, "Ayup. You've got the right of it."

And, abstaining from the desire to forget, begin to wonder.

Do we all feel it?

The fraying and fragmenting of familiar habits? The disruption of the algorithms of society? The breaking of patterns? The foreclosure on traditional traditions, and on new traditions all nouveau-riche and upstart bold?

I'd like to think so, but maybe it's only I.

Were it a different age, would more of us have noticed by now? I don't mean, you know, have felt the vaguey vague angst and anxiety of our overworked, distracted age. I mean, looked it straight on and taken note.

I think so, and have no proof.

But, but, but.

I sat there, in that pub for ex-pats from the dying Commonwealth, and all eyes were on the telly. And thinking about the words from a voice without a face, and shedding a learned passivity of thought, I pushed my own envelope just barely, just enough to seize a new thing from within, and pulling it out all wriggling and writhing, caught the whisper and hint of its name - a feeling in which I have found solitary comfort, but which now seems more universal, a condition equally obtuse and predicate: A community to which I have never before belonged, since I am at best an outcast, and more commonly a bad man and a monster.

We are, the lot of us, desperate.

And none more so than the powerful.

I have for as long as I've cared to care, attributed to power only its venality. It's a true thing, for all that its expressions and manifestations are less so, and often muddled and complex. A simple focus of the lens, then: the powerful take power because they want to have more, and keep it.

But, that's not really enough, is it?

The formula fails, because it forbids its own conclusions.

It elides the essential desire, the involvement of those parties concerned, their involvement with the very stuff of life, the matter and people they will to shape, and how and why they do it.

Because those who need power aren't just armoring up for the sake of some treasured enjoyments. No. They pay their staffers and they arm their captured minds because, in the end, it all falls apart and those who rise to the top, who claw their way through the shadows of human suffering, who can see others as instruments, who forget that we all die and that alone is a reason for kindness - those fuckers need something more. Don't they? Don't they.

They need order. Security. A shape to society. A habit of habits. They need the clock, the calendar and the scheduling app on their meticulously planned and built in devices.

They need to hold the world together, these general managers of the universe.

They need to believe that the lines and grids of their truest true religion - a voyeurism devoted to the everlasting hatred of decay -  actually exist on the surfaces and tablespaces of the world...and not finding them, like true prophets everywhere and everywhen lay them down in law and blood instead.

But, the lines aren't holding anymore, are they? They have fewer believers.

They did it to themselves. Didn't they?

They did it to us.

It's just, I think, that we aren't looking it straight on anymore, because we no longer, in our collectivity, know how. We've got these colonizations in our head - these conqueror histories, those checkbook calibrations, them lying designs of a hand unseen and impossible indivisibility - and worst of all, we've got them in our faces every day.

The telly locking our eyes in place, above the well drinks and the top shelf liquors. The piece of furniture in a central room of a working habitat, at which blood kin gather to stare, while they learn by mimicry and repetition how to unlisten the nearness, the smell, the breathing of others. Crowded in, in order to abstract all distance and disappear into the dots and grids of corporate and placeless destination.

This furniture reduced in size, made portable, marketed into every space, attacking time and place as its path to least resistance, erasing context not by obstruction, law or violence - but by breaking it up into consumptive bits and bytes of fee based revelation. Gone viral, potable, miniaturized, until the evidence is everywhere and no one can see it because we're all part of the scenery now.

And the trees and the oceans and the foreign Others who have only mud and old faiths, or the passe fealty of family, they die for it. Because in order to have order, we really have to learn how to never pay attention. We have to fail to attend. To give the powerful their due, to give them the sacred honor of unfocused stares, to forget, unlearn or never know scrutiny, to grant them the potency of our obedience and our apathy.

They need the wealth, because they need the order. They are weak. Power is for cowardice. And in order for the weak to feel safe, to feel like they have the measure of decay and death and the surprises which delight and amuse better women and men, the rest of must be reduced until we are marks on ledgers and numbers in a grid of grids.

Until we are economized.

But, it's all falling apart, and while the surface tension of manufactured distraction spreads thin and taut over its too many screens and surfaces, it cannot hold out forever.

Its very materiality demands this end. Its fictions, its spaceless and timeless conceits won't stand in the face of friction, depletion and the terrible beauty of entropy.

It's the largest machine ever made - the power grid and the machinery of distraction, production, consumption. It covers two continents in its electric penumbra, and vies for control of a third.

But, it's all falling apart.

It really is.

Because. Because. Because.

It needs the fuel of effort, of labor - and its captive bodies are breaking. It has cannibalized the rest of us for too long, now.

We are breaking.

Coming apart.

Desperate, scared and for the first time for many of us, finally paying attention.

Attendant to the world.

It could all go horribly wrong. It could fly apart and flattening place and ignoring memory swell up again as a collective debasement, a reaction, a transformation of the bloated corpse itself, maggoty with fecund depravity, until the majority of us reach out and grasp not at the now of our suffering, but at the crystal faceted death god of order and eternity.

At a new order, and more violent, and more caustic and unforgiving because it has neither place nor history, because it hates them as records of its own inevitable passing.

The prophets of eternity - of thousand year reigns of God or State or the numen of rationalized numbers - this is their time. This is their dawning age. They won't resist degradation. Don't believe the lies. They'll pursue it with a holy zeal and a righteous vengeance. Order needs corpses to prove its power. It ever has; it always will.

Easy targets, at first: we're already seeing it. Gay agendas, the Muslim invasion, "baby" killers, the welfare poor.

And as it starts to fray further, coming apart with the pressure of its own dissolution, we who are not them might do well to remember this. They'll start to eat their own, of which plenty of us number.

And fight. And fight back. The weak want order. And they want prophets to lead them.

Perhaps it's time to keep this in mind, to attend, to remember that an arriving age of desperation is more than a conclusion.

And maybe, just fucking maybe, this time we'll fight and play and gather to shape it differently...

May 21, 2011


May 20, 2011


Via Charles Davis, this:

Strauss-Kahn's victim* transformed into AIDS predator

The original, from the NY Post:

She's not the likely victim of a known sexual predator, a lone woman - a woman with no whiteness, no institutional support, no citizenship, no wealth -  with the courage to take on power in the person of Strauss-Kahn, one of the world's most powerful elites; Strauss-Kahn, an international seducer of women, and of weak and womanly nations. Nations such as feeble, incompetent, weak old crone -  Ellada...

Nah, not that. It's not that simple. This isn't a story about an abuser of women, and an abuser of whole nations. 

It's the story of a diseased black invasion, in the body of a serpent woman.

She's an "IMF gal." A groupie. A dangerous black lolita from the land of collective sins, of creeping and nefarious infections, of benighted backwardness, a stalking immigrant of doom, hailing from the sad dark continent, bearing the worst of pandora's filthy little secrets - the taint of AIDS. The red letter condemnation of HIV and the failure to give a powerful man his obvious due...

I wonder if they can be so transparent because the culture, the nation and the country are so brutal, and so brutalized....

* - alleged, alleged

Music, Repentance still refused

An Elegant Contrast

Broken record time: Wealth gets the state its possessors want. Wealth concentrates. It does not do so by laws of nature or economy. The invisible hand is a fiction, however useful. Wealth concentrates, because those who have it use force and fraud to acquire it, directly with violence and intimidation, or indirectly with law, religion and education. That is its consistency. Having wealth means having the ability to keep and expand it. To protect it. To give the retention and protection of it the sanction of God, civilization and moral authority.

Power's form is stable over time. Its justifications vary. Its interactions with captive populations change, evolve, devolve and periodically need to be reset. Populations change, though the form of power has proven remarkably stable. The core of the state is consistent. It's application varies. Its lies and fabrications are offered to suit the alteration of years and ages, or the primacy of factions. They are not monoliths, or monographs.

Our American state is possessed by the wealthy. It is organized and run for their benefit. A simple proposition, and despite its elegance, nonetheless true.

Which is why Congressional members, for all their pretend inefficiencies and alleged partisan divides, can swiftly come to agree on extending the Patriot Act, yet again.

Or on the need to cut spending and the "deficit," meaning those programs which benefit, however negligibly, the poor and the needy (whether or not they've yet agreed on how to do it).

Or on the largest military expenditures in human history.

Or on handing over the Commons to bankers to cover the losses of their ruthless speculations.

But - figuring out how to extend a flea's pittance of the budget of a continent bestriding, permanent warfare state, for the meager and temporary benefit of laid off workers?

Well, the fuckers still cannot agree on how or when to do that.

I'm sure they'll find it as difficult to agree, when it comes to re-re-re-opening the Gulf of Mexico to future devastating oil disasters...

May 18, 2011

On the Intersection of Chemistry, Biology, Human Community and Infection, in a Grand Conspiracy...

...to put my crappy little ego on notice.

Today, bad shit happened to me. In waves. But, it started last night.

It began with a toothache. Koestler's toothache. Malraux's existential, isolating tooth pain. Suffering, mandated by the human condition its very self. The kind of agony that leads even anti-meditative monsters to consider a drink from the well of consolation. The type of pain what makes a person contemplate self-defenestration. The restfulness of a welcoming death. Drugs. Every drug, ever.

Abscessed, I feared. And did next to nothing about it. Because, like whatever man, I can handle it. My wife, a more reasonable species of human than I, called our dentist. I'd left a message. She called him at his house.

He called in a prescription for an antibiotic.

Dutifully, I trudged to the drug store, adjacent to a Catholic hospital that always has a batch of old ladies and withered nuns out front protesting the evils of everything. I mean, everything. One day it was an alleged merger with a godless women's health practice (nope, they don't do abortions, but that doesn't matter, does it?). On another occasion it was the failure of local Mancunians to properly venerate the Virgin Mother. Replete with a gaudy five foot tall plaster statue of the same. A painted plaster statue. A Bathtub Mary, liberated from her habitual digs on some old Canadian's lawn, to give mute protest to the failure of passersby to take her seriously. Or some shit.

Anyway, the drug store. Shuffling in line. Begging for pills. The bright lights and the wan fluorescence, competing for the pride of painting us all in our own dirtied plaster tones.

A bottle with a command. Take immediately. We got back home and dutifully, again, I did just that.

Sat down to some bad teevee. Got itchy. Found welts all over my abdomen. Mewled pitifully until my wife stopped whatever productive work she was doing in order to coo over my booboos.

Spider bites, she pronounced. Seemed reasonable. But, it's taken me a while to trust her diagnostic skills, again. She blew a big one, you know. Well, I blew it, but it's still convenient and funny to hold her to account, because it put me in the hospital for more than a week, recovering from a ruptured appendix riddled with worms.

Nasty fuckers. I got them from our little piece of urban heaven. A half acre of garden plot we'd scratched and scribbled and dug into existence. Beans and 'matoes. Chives, mint, basil, lettuce, carrots, peppers. thyme, oregano and squash. Potatoes and scallions. First year asparagus. Echinacea, cucumbers and even a few fiddleheads.

And the worms. Our neighbor's sewer pipes had busted. See, our garden was preternaturally well fertilized. A subterranean mysticism of fecundity. Me, turned into a warning system Jack. I thought it was my wife's green thumb. It was our neighbors' poo, instead.

But, back to the appendix. One day, I got the sweats. Preacher in a hot tent somewhere in northern Louisiana, jumping around, arms flailing, mouth sputtering in the noon heat of the hottest summer on record, sweats. I turned green. Well, greener. Fucking olive skin.

Told my wife. She smiled, and suggested perhaps I could bother her a little less with my whimpering. (I still play this card. It doesn't work anymore, but it's taken on the gilding of a rite, or tradition.)

I "toughed" it out for another day. Collapsed into a cash register and half a dozen cigarette displays, while doing a tobacco reconciliation report. Got a cosmetic scar and one of those nifty morphine drips with the auto-serve buttons. Mmmm, morphine.

Could have used that shit last night, or for most of today.

Last night, man that tooth.

At least I was distracted by the spider bites. The indignity. Just because it's the damned New England Monsoon season, doesn't mean those fuckers get to come inside our flat and bite on me. The bastards. I was pissed. Which is another way of saying that I can be preeningly ridiculous.

So, off to the more evolved one for a little soothing, and back to the bad teevee. Fucking spiders. The gall.

I didn't sleep well. Or, as my son's friends say, I didn't sleep so good, no good.

"Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head..."

That last part is a lie. I don't have enough hair for a comb.

But, I did what the label on the bottle told me. Dutifully. Pills, cherry juice, swallow.

And a fucking spider bit me again. Right next to the other bites. Inauspicious, I thought. No, really. I used the word inauspicious, silently, in my own head. What an asshole, amiright?

What, was the fucker hunting me in my sleep? Not content to bite whilst awake, he had to bite me while I was sleeping too?

Told me wife. She was heroic. She suppressed that chuckle with muscular resolve.

Then it happened.

A taut, burning, itchy donut ring of vanity erasing fleshy vengeance. Actual donut sized. And I means it. I really do.

My unreal gods be damned penis.

"Wife," I says, "could you look at this?" I did not do my best to channel John Wayne. I couldn't even manage a Kevin Spacey. My voice cracked. I did a little panic dance. I said, over and over again something like, "My dick?!" My dick?!"

That's not exactly accurate. I didn't say it. I whined and mewled and whimpered it. Plus, the panic dance was more like a drunken, spasmodic jig. Several of them, haphazardly strung together, and acted out across several rooms, to a mishmash of competing instrumentalizations from a variety of cultures and epochs - all while I tried not to let my now awake children in on the cosmic joke unfolding beneath my waistline. A failure, on all accounts.

Now we had a family affair. I have good boys. They did not giggle. My oldest, ever compassionate and sweet, gave me a hug. One of those unselfconscious embraces only truly noble, benign and benevolent people can manage. Needless to say, I rarely manage them.

I do manage to make a fool of myself. And there was this morning...

Pounding tooth ache?
Embarrassing inability to handle pain or surprises, coupled with choppy gesticulations?
Squandering all dignity while I bounced around our bed room, chanting, "My dick!?"
Hives all over my belly, threatening to drown out the pain with intestine deep itchiness?
Panicky dissolution of my pride and vanity, asking my wife to look at it again. And again?
Swollen jelly donut where the end of my dick used to be?
You betcha.
Sudden certainty that, no, jackhole, it wasn't spider bites at all?
Duh, idiot.

Dawning realization that I was going to have to show all this to a doctor?

Fucking priceless.

An hour and half later, I was waiting for a physician I'd never met, ruminating on the question asked by the nurse, after I'd described my symptoms over the phone. "Mr. Crow, do you mind if you see a woman?"

"Nah," I lied. I couldn't possibly think of a better beginning to this morning's conclusion. What guy raised in late capitalist uber macho America isn't jumping at the chance to show off his swollen and retreating dick to a female doctor he's never before seen or met?

Did I mention that she was pregnant? It doesn't matter, but it seemed so funny at the time.

She walked in, very pregnant. And happy enough to make a few dick jokes for my amusement (seriously) and her own. A kindness, that. Pregnant lady doctor making dick jokes while she examined my donut ringed penis as it made its best attempt ever to crawl up into the gap left by my long absent appendix.

The juxtaposition of her life-giving, swelled and late stage abdomen with my ridiculous, vanity destroying, ego minimizing grotesque of a caricature of a Gieger abomination...it was funny. Existentially absurd. Camus has got nothing on me, baby.

I almost lost it.

I almost forgot the line I'd rehearsed the entire drive to the practice.

"Today I finally fail in my enduring quest to maintain my vanity in the face of women I've never met."

But, I said it. Yep, I actually said that stupid shit.

I am an asshole. In case I've never told any of you that before.

That's when she made the first dick joke. It was perfect.

A perfect moment, in fact. There I was, swinging in the air conditioned draft - well, not quite swinging, sort of puckering like a new swimmer's over inflated pool floatee - covered in hives, while we discussed what I had to do if the swelling didn't stop (to preserve "the tip," as she put it).

A moment of absolute immediacy. Of immediate, unfiltered presence, my own and hers. A moment without vanity or my ego to be found anywhere.

A moment of perfect humility.

And all it took was an antibiotic to which I have developed an overnight allergy, my traitorous dick, a snarky pregnant doctor, a throbbing abscessed tooth, a couple of dick jokes and a discussion about saving the tip of my faithless, jerk of a penis.

May 16, 2011

Further Adventures in Clumsy Propaganda

Whoever does the Israeli desk propaganda for AolHuffington needs to go back to school.*

Actually, they don't. It's a net good that their prop-fu is so full of fail. We get a peek inside the process, the logic. A useful insight  - or a set of them. A primer in how to read not only bad propaganda, but the well written stuff. Study the clumsy examples, to learn how to read the subtle ones.


Some lead fingered examples:

"Arab Protesters Descend On Israeli Border" 

Birds of prey descend. Angry hordes descend upon their civilized victims. Arabs descend upon Israelis, who of course act with restraint, as only members of the only democracy in the Middle East could do.

"In a surprising turn of events, hundreds of Palestinians and supporters poured across the Syrian frontier and staged riots, drawing Israeli accusations that Damascus, and its ally Iran, orchestrated the unrest to shift attention from an uprising back home. It was a rare incursion from the usually tightly controlled Syrian side and could upset the delicate balance between the two longtime foes."

Those filthy Ayrabs cannot get together without rioting. They're barely civilized, but they do know how to stage violence. They, easily manipulated braying beasts that they are, couldn't pull it off without being orchestrated from afar. Rioting is also objectively bad. You can tell, because it's Arabs doing it. They're like black people. Get them altogether in one place, and riots magically ensue. Besides, reasonable people respond to expulsion and degradation by waiting for the UN to do something. That's what the Israelis did. They never resorted to war, terrorism, assassination and expulsion. Reasonable and civilized Europeans go on with their lives. They make money to show how valuable they are. They make the desert bloom. Which puts them in a position to be such exact equals with their disarmed and unfunded neighbors as to find themselves in a delicate balance. The region is balanced. Israel is not sponsored and kept afloat by an imperial leviathan. It is not an occupying power in its own right. It rests, precariously balanced on the edge of disequilibrium. Or something.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads to Washington at the end of the week, said he ordered the military to act with "maximum restraint" but vowed a tough response to further provocations."

See. Israelis have restraint. An excess of it. By implication, it's the Israelis who are being provoked here. And, faced with this terrible and riotous provocation, they will restrain themselves. Those walls and fences and guard posts and roving patrols of sabra killers are value neutral. No one is provoked by an enlightened occupation. 

"The violence showed Israel the extent of Arab anger over the Palestinian issue, beyond the residents of the West Bank and Gaza, and came at a critical time for U.S. Mideast policy."

Yep. They just discovered it. Like Ayrab wolves emerging from the mists of history, descending in orchestrated surprise upon sovereign, sacred Israeli borders - this angry threat just materialized out of nowhere. It has no historical context. It's recent, immediate. But, take heart, now the Israelis know. They have been shown. And that's critical to US policy.

The Ayrabs? Fuck 'em.

"Deadly clashes also took place along Israel's nearby northern border with Lebanon, as well as in the Gaza Strip on Israel's southern flank. The Israeli military said 13 soldiers were wounded, none seriously."

Israeli lives have value. When civilizations clash, deadliness erupts.  These deadly clashes are opaque. They just occur. It isn't that well armed, well supplied, well paid Israeli soldiers shot and murdered unarmed Arab protesters. Deadly clashes happened. They tend to happen in proximity to Ayrabs. And the real people, the Israeli soldiers, suffered some injuries. That's noteworthy, newsworthy. The people murdered by those poor, wounded Israeli professionals? Deadly dead, but that's the risk you take when you clash, eh?

"Sunday's unrest – which came after activists used Facebook and other websites to mobilize Palestinians and their supporters in neighboring countries to march on the border with Israel – marked the first time the protests that have swept the Arab world in recent months have been directed at Israel."

The very first time. Protests didn't occur during the episodes of unsettling and unfortunate unrest in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, Yemen or Bahrain. There was no Palestinian solidarity.  It never happened. There is no video, obviously. This is the first time. Those Palestinians sure are late to the game, huh? It's like they're shameless, selfish opportunists who only know how to muck up the "independence" celebrations of their European colonial betters.

"The events carried a message for Israel: Even as it wrestles with the Palestinian demand for a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem – areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war – there is a related problem of neighboring countries that host millions of Palestinians with aspirations to return."

When Ayrabs get all publicly angry, and sputter in their funny, ragey sounding language, the message for Israel is that there are a lot of Palestinians. A lot of them. Those fuckers breed like rabbits. Millions of members of an autochthonus horde of barbarians who descend upon borders they aren't civilized enough to accept, in law and fact. It's a good thing Bibi is heading to DeeCee to pick up his protection money, no doubt.

"Palestinians were marking the 'nakba,' or "catastrophe" – the term they use to describe their defeat and displacement in the war that followed Israel's founding on May 15, 1948. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were uprooted. Today, the surviving refugees and their descendants number several million people."

When a professionalized Army rounds up, massacres and expels unarmed or poorly armed villagers, it's a war. Wars have winners and losers. The Pallies were defeated. Them's the breaks, people. It wasn't bureaucratic murder and expulsion. Remember this please. Especially the next time someone tells you about the Holocaust™, which never gets put in scare quotes. Still, those hundreds of thousands have become a horde of millions. Millions of people who want to violate sacred borders. Who have foreign names for ancient Israeli towns and seaside resorts. Scary. Very scary.

"Each year, Palestinians throughout the region mark the "nakba" with demonstrations. But never before have marchers descended upon Israel's borders from all directions. The Syrian incursion was especially surprising."

Remember, no one marks "the Holocaust." The Holocaust™ happened.  It was historical, unlike the "nakba." The "nakba" is celebrated by angry little savages who descend upon Israel from all directions. The penetrate and violate. They are orchestrated into incursions. It's not that they want to return to the orchards, farms and villages of their mothers and grandmothers. They're a violent, penetrative horde of barely humans who don't have the good fortune of a Holocaust™ to justify their realpolitik. They have to settle for a "nakba."

"Israeli defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information, acknowledged the military was caught off guard by the violent marches.

Officials also said there were strong signs that Syria and its Iranian-backed Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, orchestrated the unrest."

Ayrabs march violently. That's what they do. They don't have a historical context for their discontent, except for their poor excuse of an imagined and imaginary slight, the "nakba."  They're so violent and disordered, that the restrained, civilized professionals armed with billions of dollars of equipment and weaponry purchased with expropriated American tax receipts were caught off guard. It's not like Israeli soldiers are a vigilant, oppressive, violent occupying force which suppresses protest and resistance on sight, or which bombs schools and hospitals while deploying chemical weaponry to pacify a militarily occupied people. They don't have checkpoints every ten feet. They don't manage one of the world's most repugnant apartheid states. They don't give homage to their Nazi educators with the bureaucratization of travel bans, passes and border control. They don't have an entire nation of people battened down in captivity. They're so nonchalant they were caught off guard.

Surprised, they were, by violent, descending hordes manipulated from afar. Stupid Ayrabs. This unrest was caused by nefarious forces. Evil Iran. Evil Syria. Evil Hizbollah. The stupid Ayrabs don't know better. Their bosses issue orders and they follow them. I mean, just ask any Pally. They love Fatah. They love to take orders from Shiites in Iran. They have no local complaints. I mean, it's just a "nakba." It's not like we're talking about a Holocaust™, here.

"An explosion of unrest along the border could play into the hands of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has faced two months of popular protests against political repression and rights abuses in his country. The uprising, in which human rights groups say more than 800 people have been killed, is the most serious challenge to the Assad family's 40-year dynasty."

Unrest explodes. Explosions, as we all know, are bad. People get hurt when shit explodes. And by people, we of course mean Israelis. Palestinian Arabs aren't people. They don't even have a properly trademarked national tragedy. All they have is a "nakba."  So, what can you expect from a people with an ersatz, third rate national "shame," right? Obviously, their unrest is about a foreign potentate. That's it. That's why this is all happening. Because some dickhead who inherited his father's petty fief has killed people, according to human rights groups. Human rights, people. Just remember, the Palestinians don't actually have 'em. Only anonymous Ayrabs killed by their own bosses, when those bosses have lost or fallen out of favor with the US and Israel, have human rights. Human rights are negotiable. Because of that delicate balance which has all the weapons, tanks, fighter jets, and nukes on one side, and fifty year old equipment and ordinance on the other. Gotta preserve it, lest the real people with their real national tragedy and their really real European origins get nervous. But don't worry, they're not the ones with the nukes, amiright?

"About 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the west, Israeli troops clashed with a large crowd of Lebanese demonstrators who approached that border. The military said it opened fire when protesters tried to damage the border fence. Security officials in Lebanon reported 10 dead.

It was the deadliest incident along the volatile border since Israel fought Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas during a monthlong war five years ago."

So deadly, it's comparable to Hizbollah.  Mind you, real people didn't actually die. Those are the breaks. The horde should know the risks, n'est-ce pas? Weighing the balance of not-quite-human lives against property, of course you've just got to side with the fence. The fence is important. It's secures real estate. Not only as a symbol. But as a function. The fence keeps Ayrabs out, the filthy animals. Who wouldn't shoot unarmed people to death for trying to damage it? And don't forget, this is just like fighting the crafty terrorists of Hizbollah.

"Sunday's shooting erupted at the tense border village of Maroun el-Rass, which saw some of the fiercest fighting in 2006. Thousands of Palestinian refugees traveled to the village in buses adorned with posters that said: "We are returning." Many came from the 12 crowded refugee camps in Lebanon where some 400,000 Palestinian refugees live."

Again, with the eruptions. The soldier didn't carefully load his weapon. He did not follow his million dollar's worth of training, take aim, secure his peripherals, check for counter orders, squeeze the trigger and kill a person. It just erupted. In the passive voice. But, really, can anyone but the Palestinians be blamed? They had threatening signs. They're dirty fugees. And they want to return to villages which don't have Ayrab names anymore. History has been changed, again all passively.Why don't they just grow up, already?

"Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers, U.N. peacekeepers and riot police deployed heavily in the area, taking up positions along the electrified border fence and patrolling the area in military vehicles. Young Hezbollah supporters wearing yellow hats and carrying walkie-talkies organized the entry to the village and handed out Palestinian flags.

In Cairo, a security official said more than 1,000 protesters tried to push their way past a tight security cordon toward the Israeli Embassy, located on the top floor of a building. Egyptian soldiers guarding the embassy fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. One protester burned an Israeli flag."

Mustn't have the wrong flags. Mustn't burn the right ones. If you wave the wrong kind of flag, you're probably also the type of person who pushes past a security cordon. You're pushy. Uppity. You have no sense of place, or proportion. C'mon on, you probably don't even have a real Holocaust™. Just a silly little "nakba."

"There was also violence in a predictable location – Gaza."

Those Gazan Palestinians, so predictable. Of course they live where there is violence in the passive voice. Violence just happens there. One might be permitted to assume that it's their fault, vaguely, vaguely. It's not that they live in an open air prison, under occupation and blockade, their lives managed and governed by the vicissitudes of black market smuggling and Israeli incursions, er, sorry, security patrols. It's not that they're the collective whipping boy of the shitty little colonial garrison race state. It's that they just, y'know, sort of exist within it. Maybe they even bring it on themselves.

So much so, you can predict it.

(emphasis mine)

* - it's an AP original. Should probably include their writers and editors beneath the umbrella of my opprobrium, alongside SwoonyMcSwoonPost's copy staff. So, consider them included.

May 15, 2011

But, seriously...

...the honeypot defense is as stupid as it comes:

"...But I will say, the whole matter smells rather fishy, just like the Eliot Spitzer story smelled fishy. Spitzer, you may recall, was Wall Street's biggest adversary and a likely candidate to head the SEC, a position at which he would have excelled. In fact, there's no doubt in my mind that if Spitzer had been appointed to lead the SEC, most of the top investment bankers on Wall Street would presently be making license plates and rope-soled shoes at the federal penitentiary. So, there was plenty of reason to shadow Spitzer's every move and see what bit of dirt could be dug up on him. As it turns out, the ex-Governor of New York made it easy for his enemies by engaging a high-priced hooker named Ashley Dupre for sex at the Mayflower Hotel. When the news broke, the media descended on Spitzer like a swarm of locusts poring over every salacious detail with the ebullient fervor of a randy 6th-grader. Meanwhile, the crooks on Wall Street were able to breathe a sigh of relief and get back to doing what they do best; fleecing investors and cheating people out of the life savings.

Strauss-Kahn had enemies in high places, too, which is why this whole matter stinks to high-Heaven. First of all, Strauss-Kahn was the likely candidate of the French Socialist Party who would have faced Sarkozy in the upcoming presidential elections. The IMF chief clearly had a leg-up on Sarkozy who has been battered by a number of personal scandals and plunging approval ratings."


Why is it so hard to believe that men with money and power abuse women? And why are leftists like Whitney, or our good friends over Corrente way, peddling this story with such credulity?

I know "the left" is in pretty desperate straights, but the guy is the head of the IMF. The fucking International Monetary Fund, damn it.

That makes him the enemy. Full stop. It doesn't matter if he calls himself a communist, a syndicalist or the best friend trade unions ever had. I don't care if he drapes himself in pages from The Communist Manifesto while burning copies of The Fountainhead. He got paid to impose austerity and heap abuse upon the people of Greece.

He took corporate's dollar, euro and pound. He takes a very good salary to make life worse for people on a daily basis. It's quite literally his job.

Or it was, until he (allegedly, allegedly) attempted to rape a maid.

Is it really that hard to believe that a man who got paid to abuse whole nations might also feel inclined to abuse singular women? Is the notion really that unbelievable?

I don't think so.

Not one bit.

Not at all.

 UPDATE, wee damned hours:

Via BlackDogRed's blogroll, I've just learned that someone else has written nearly the same complaint, and better than I. Sorry for the redundancy.


This is where my brain went for a couple of hours, today, to forget it was a brain:

It was a funny movie, mostly. Wiig can pen a good script, and she's as fine a comedic actress as is available to the speaking English world, which is a bit of an undersell on my part. She was perfect. Not quite Binoche, but who could be la dame Juliette, really?

We laughed a lot. Wiig pawned the bromance. Low humor, coupled with Wiig's rather brilliant performance made for a good movie. Not The Hangover, but real close.

But feminist filmaking?

That's a stretch.


The whole movie is about getting a woman (Maya Rudolf) married off to a wealthy fat guy. Her best friend, Annie (Wiig), deconstructs herself in order to compete with a wealthy new friend (Rose Byrne), who bests her in everything because she's wealthy. Ridiculous, enmansion'd estate with a randomly large number of horses, wealthy. I mean, vulgar wealth.  The kind of wealth even Helena Bonham Carter might manage to be ashamed of...well, maybe.

The side cast of characters (Ellie Kempfer, Wendon McClendon-Covey, Melissa McCarthy in a breakout role) contribute gags, pratfalls and a number of laughs, mostly around acting pigish or put upon. Wiig's substory involves moving on from an equally vulgarly wealthy loser (John Hamm) to an endearing, understanding cop who wants to rescue her from her own entirely self-imposed deconstruction and disarray.

And then the rich wife pulls it off. She makes a successful wedding, upstages the poorer (destitute, really) character played by Wiig, and they all get to lip sync to a famous daughters' (Wilson Phillips) boutique hit from the very early Nineties.

Cue cop. Rescue. Ride away.

It was funny. I'm not sure how it's feminist.


For an alternate view, please read this.

Replacing Flag Fascism

Flag fascism failed. Too national. Too overtly militaristic. Too tied to declining traditionalism. Expensive.

Brand fascism is doing much, much better:

"Today, you're phone knows who you are, where you are, where -- where you're going, to some degree, because it can see your path. And with that and with your permission, it's possible for software and software developers to predict where you're going to go, to suggest people you should meet, to suggest activities and so forth. So ultimately what happens is the mobile phone does what it does best, which is remember everything and make suggestions. And then you can be just a better human and have a good time."

Grand Wizard of the Google, Eric Schmidt.

May 13, 2011

Answering Some Staggering Naivete

The primary moral consideration of Christianity - for the individual - is self preservation.

Christianity, in even its most tolerable anabaptist and antinomian forms, posits an all powerful creator God who has seen fit to structure the universe in order to test the inhabitants of a single planet revolving around a single star, among billions of stars in a single galaxy among billions of galaxies.

Failure to pass this test will result in an eternity of suffering, ordained, planned and meticulously applied by the same God who wrote the test. An outcome which is itself foreseen and foreordained. Assuming for a moment that the Christian God possesses the attributes commonly assigned to him - omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience - he cannot but know in advance who will fail this test for membership in eternity. And although he is at every juncture of events, at every point in the universe,  and with complete knowledge of all outcomes, real and potential, he lets it all happen in a manner guaranteed to condemn the majority of His creations to an eternity of suffering.

Let's put this into some perspective. Let's imagine that an infant is born in the US at the very moment I hit the publish button. That it is a female, and will therefore have a life expectancy of about 78 years. Let us assume that this infant is tortured from the moment she is born until the moment she expires, almost eighty years into our world of possible futures. That for each and every moment of her existence someone is deliberately causing her pain and harm.

A horrific, unjust and mind numbingly cruel existence, no?

Let's be clear.

We're not talking the scrapes and booboos with band aids on them sort of harm. This is about Biblical harm. This is the God who thought it just to have the women of his enemies torn open and left to spill out on the sand. The motherfucker who recommended the cleaving in two of children, as an object lesson. Who prescribed the death penalty for back talk.  Demonic tortures and lakes of fire suffering, folks. Complete and total agony, alienation and torment. All consuming damnation and violation.

Eighty terrible years of it.

A long time. A long fucking time.

The sort of person or being who did this to a person would rightfully if somewhat tamely be called a monster. All words are deficient to describe the kind of creature who could savagely torture a person for eighty years. I don't think the collective languages of the human race have yet included a strong enough term to embody this level of depravity.*

Now, let's consider the age of the universe so far. About fourteen billion years, give or take. Or one hundred and seventy five million eighty year lifetimes. Since there is no consensus on how long the universe will last, and with it being quite possibly "flat" and containing enough "dark matter" to perhaps expand indefinitely, let's assume for a moment that the universe has a shelf life of about fifteen trillion years. That is one hundred eighty seven billion five hundred million eighty year life spans.

According to his own alleged Book and the reports of his believers over a duration of nearly one quarter of all recorded human history, the Christian god will torture you for longer than that. For ever. It will never stop. The alleged founder of Christianity is not unclear here. You will experience this unending torment for "bad" thoughts. For thinking about a man or woman "lustfully." For falling in love and fornicating with a person of the same gender or sex. For being drunk. For denying that He exists. For praying the wrong way. For eating shellfish, if you believe Him when he says he did not come to abolish the Law. For speaking in anger to a brother. Which, if you've ever had a younger brother, is a guarantee of damnation. For just being born.

For just being born. That's the Christian doctrine. You were born condemned to everlasting suffering.

It's like He wants you to fail. Human languages ought to have a description for the sort of monster who sets up tests you absolutely cannot but fail, who only rescues those whom please him, and who shitkicks to slavering destruction anyone who does not. Something to the right of "raping torturing disemboweling murdering pederast psychopath."

You will be consigned to damnation and an unending, ceaseless eternity of torment for offenses and crimes you commit against this God over a period of time that will perhaps only be one two hundred billionth the total duration of the universe.

Christians know this about their faith. It's why they place such a heavy emphasis on "salvation." Salvation means begging the monster not to torture you for ever, and then despite the firm knowledge that He is in fact a monster, taking His word on it when He unctuously promises He'll deliver your from His chamber of endless suffering because you were so terrified that you begged Him nicely not to bully you for eternity.

Christian practice and belief center on preventing this exact and terrible outcome. The Christian ethic is about keeping an inconceivably psychopathic cosmic bully placated enough to give his besty best sycophants a pass in the hope that he'll focus his monstrous eye on somebodies else, somebodies stupid enough to forget to beg, and beg correctly - so that he'll torture them** for two hundred billion eighty year life spans before he does it all over again. And again. And again.

Despite what some good and naive people think, this is not compatible with communism.***

* - a bit of an exaggeration on my part. There is a word. It's "God."

** - A point not to be neglected. Christianity excludes. It separates the sheep from the goats. You get to heaven because someone else went to hell. That's pretty damned antithetical to communism.

*** - Hell, it's not even compatible with the very worst years of the Stalinist dominion. Stalin's victims got to die and finally be done with it.

Fucking Blogger

Am I the only one who lost posts and comments?

May 12, 2011

Gag Me

Shorter Balloon Juice contributor: Glenn Greenwald is a poopy headed doodoo face. He should shut up about totally awesome Obama's legal, legitimate, valid, constitutional and super cummy awesome war fighting powers. Greenwaldism is scary, dudes. Look at me! I'm a lawyer, too!


The price for a law degree should be a surgically forked tongue and the severing of both thumbs.

May 11, 2011

An Allegation

The most dangerous state is the revolutionary state. Its factions are dispersed, or united. It owes little to limiting tradition or custom. Its leaders cannot recognize the restraints which benefit its predecessors. The revolutionary state is total, and therefore unstable.

There are no revolutionary states which last, because revolutionary states are and can only be transitional. But, while they exist (in the extreme: the Directorate, the Puritan Protectorate, the Bolshevik state before Stalin put an end to revolution, the Khmer Rouge, etc) their abrupt violation of pre-existing norms tend to consume the societies over which they claim power (since they do not govern in the traditional sense) until new factions and a new face to the ruling class emerges from the fatal conflict which prefigures and characterizes all revolutionary states.

Revolution is a failure of the ruling factions to interface with their captive populations in a manner which ensures the continuity of that captivity. The revolutionary state, on the other hand, is the failure of the ruling class to maintain a hold on the governmental resource chain because the captive population no longer recognizes or perceives of the learned purpose of government as valid. The revolutionary state, it follows, is the expression of a stasis between factions of the ruling class which weakens the traditionally stable form of power, until such point that new elements (often with the illicit support of licit factions of existing power) can re-establish a functioning competitive equilibrium between factions of the ruling class.

The revolutionary state does not represent the success of the revolt of the governed so much as it signals a transition between a state of weakened or too-equal factions of the ruling class and a period of flux.

It is during this period of flux that the revolutionary state can break with the prior validity of old norms, or perceptions of those norms, until such time as a new expression of the stable form of power emerges from the contest between factions, and a new interface with the captured population can take hold.

So that while the American state and government which has been lead by successive Presidents (from Reagan through Obama) who continue to perform functions similar to their predecessors, and with the same outcomes, does not appear revolutionary, it is precisely so.

The old norms suggested a Republic limited by its own Constitution. And while that Republic was always a useful fiction, it no longer serves the purpose of formalizing the command of a population captured to maintain an economy run for mercantilists, land owners and industrialists. Having nearly spent itself out attempting to accommodate the fall out of the industrial and information transformations of society, during repeated periods of stasis (the Civil War), bankruptcy, depression and a period of meliorating reaction (the New Deal), and having surrendered the bulk of its fiat powers to its corporate successors (Reagan through Obama), it has now arrived at its own terminal condition.

The American state has long maintained a semblance of continuity, despite retrospectively obvious periods of reconstitution and rapid alteration; one which has been preserved by successive conquests of alien others in the guise of Indians, Mexicans, Asians, Germans, Arabs and the usefully abusable domestically contained foreign nation of American blacks. But now it is on the verge of the outward expression of an actual revolution.

That it has been a revolutionary state since Reagan may seem counter intuitive. I suggest that it only seems so because it has become rote to assume that revolution and the revolutionary state share a familial consanguinity.

This is simply not so.

Revolutionary states eventually succumb to the pressure of self-preservation. A state, to be a state, needs resources and a population, and must eventually assume the tasks of government, which are always conservative. Government functions as a check on resistance to extraction of labor and resources. Government is precisely counterrevolutionary. Revolutionary states, by comparison, harness the failure of government towards the recreation of a new, more stable reconstitution of power.

The American government failed part way through Vietnam. It failed to perform its primary task, the containment of the population within confines and strictures which prevent widespread outbreaks of resistance to the form of power, the ruling ideology and faith and the extraction of labor. This is not to suggest it collapsed, as has happened elsewhere. Only that it failed, and in doing so provided the opportunity for the factions of the ruling class to begin a contest for control of the apparatus of the state in order to remake it and strengthen it in the face of an increasingly ungovernable set of captive populations, especially those until that point isolated as domestic enemies of order.

With the onset of the first Reagan Administration, the American state became a revolutionary state, actively engaged with culture and society in order to transform them, to reshape social relations and the perception of membership in that society. And while not all of its governmental functions have degraded, the priorities of that state and its contiguous and nominal governors have been directed towards the reshaping of American society. The American state has warred and  spent its way towards collapse, in order to reshape a society suited to a new period of extractive stability.

As a revolutionary state, it has been dangerously successful - in a country which once proudly boasted not only Christian radical populism, but active and widespread anarchism, socialism and communism, and which saw the emergence of Black power and feminism.

So successful, one might argue, that a black Christian man and his feminist electoral opponent now provide the two most widely recognized faces of that nearly complete reconfiguration of the language, culture and tenor of society. They are not the faces of opposition to power. They are power.

And as the revolutionary state completes its course, and as new threats to stability emerge in the form of rising populations, oil depletion, climate change and food scarcity, the American continent will once again find itself ruled by a restored and more stable form of power and government. One constituted to police revolt and resistance, instead of useful populations. One better suited to crushing resistance to the inequities of extraction.

A state suited to rule, and not simply government.

(please see the Second Reagan Revolution series at American Leftist for an in depth proof of my mere allegation)

Translation, Lost

May 10, 2011

A Stunning Development

According to Mr. Walker, quoting a Gallup poll at FireDogLake, the majority of Americans want a third party option, perhaps as a balance or counter the Republicratic illusion of control of the country. Oh - and this is a good thing, or some fucking shit.

(It's almost as earth shattering as fiddling with foreign exchange rates as a response to trade "imbalances," you know to cure poverty. Because we all know that poverty is fixed by economists and trade negotiators. They never get together to make their penny at the expense of others. They're fucking disinterested saints, not men bought up by corporate academia. I mean, really y'all - economists aren't Babylonian soothsayers who've set up shop in the courts and sanctioned school houses of the powers that be. Not at all. When economists talk numbers, hungry mothers never have to go without to feed their hungrier children.

For fuck's sake, Capone did more for the poor than any economist ever did, or ever will. And Capone was a fucking sociopath.)

Observant and cynical people ought to file this under "education works."

Or, beneath the header: "How to invest the minimum in standardized propaganda as public education and get decades of positive returns."

It's about as stunning a development in American politics as is the average House and Home monthly revolution in the art and science of kitchen rearrangement. See, instead of placing the toaster next to the microwave, the average kitchen user ought to move the toaster next to the coffee maker, the better to maximize...

Well, you get the point. Or you don't.

Anyhow, Billie Holiday is singing in the background, and I know I'm at least richer for that...

May 9, 2011

Social Currency

I'm sick of the nattering about so-called revolutionary social media. I hope this video helps illustrate why:

AmEx has managed to do what it does best - capitalize on the relations in a society organized to capture labor and turn it into profit, for companies such as AmEx. Using the supposedly revolutionary new means of "horizontal" and democratic interaction - you know, the ballyhooed fountainheads of not only the Arab Spring, but resurgent progressive politics -  AmEx has, with less than a minute of video, done us all a tremendous service. It has shown twitter, social media and the internet for what they are: means of capitalized exchange.

It's ad men have shown us the naked operation of spectacular forms of control, assimilation and integration.

In a hierarchical, monetized society, there is no democracy, no consent, no free exchange. Any interaction which occurs within the confines of an owned system of exchange belongs to that system, in the same manner in which licensed software belongs to its producer, and text messages remain the property of the phone company.

In our communities, horizontal interactions occur only within hierarchies. There are no social currencies which are not also capitalized ones, owned by fiat or fiction in the name of real chains of command. Capitalist exchange colonizes everything it can, whenever possible, however it can afford to do so.

Social media, in our society, do not develop in a democratic haven safe or secure from corporate predation and influence. Social media are the creation of hierarchically organized bands of expropriators. They are direct and immediate colonizations of human exchange. Every tweet is an advertisement, every update a commodification, every blog post an offer to sell.

May 8, 2011

Thank You

Just wanted to offer my sincere thanks to anyone who's taken a moment of his or her day to read or comment. I'm humbled, grateful and vain enough to admit that I'm gratified.

I don't always get right back to an excellent reply because I'm often at a loss for words. I don't want to write what I don't mean, or haven't given enough thought to call my own.

Not that anyone's wondering or worrying why it may take me a week to reply, but I appreciate the patience.

Thank you.

May 7, 2011


Cannibalizing myself (as commentary on progress, in response to Quin and a kind anonymous respondent):

Time, History and Power (a sketch of an outline)

Conservatism and liberalism* belong to the same mode of thought.

Divergences between the two larger camps, and the various factions - in ideology, practice, membership and politics - serve to mask a rather comprehensive and frankly startling unity of focus.

A unity which binds them all in the continuing project of power.

The differences between a selection of conservatives and a selection of liberals can span the entire known spectrum of policy, belief and adherence. The differences within those selections can vary just as widely, allowing for the competition of factional interests which share a common goal, but varying methods of achieving that end, or a similarity of methods, but a difference in intended outcome.

Ceteris paribus, a common - almost absolute and unified - view of time binds them all, though.

Both conservatives and liberals absolutely require, for the continued functioning of their projects, the rationalization of their goals, and the durability of their programs for maintaining adherence, a past-referent view of the progress of time.

Conservatives generally fix a period of time, somewhere in the recorded past, as a signature frame of reference which serves as a standard of judgment for all contemporary or modern decisions, events and possibilities. Since time appears always to recede, this frame of reference requires updating by subsequent generations of conservative thinkers and believers. The past, fixed now by reverence, becomes a ghost in the machine by which present errors and decisions fall short of the acceptable model, or conform to it. The further from the past that the present travels, the more the conservative must endeavor to correct the imbalance, and the more likely she will remain in adherence to the leaders who best articulate the restorative policies which will bring the present into accord with the past.

Liberals generally fix a period of time, somewhere in the recorded past, as a frame of reference by which they might judge progress made since that range in time. Liberals seek to improve reality by judging the present according to the errors of the past. The apparent distance between present conditions and past conditions provides liberals with the means to evaluate their progress away from the negative reference, in the past. Since the arc of time seems always to recede, backward, the further from the fixed frame of reference, the better - for liberals. The more comprehensive the list of so-called improvements, the more likely the liberal will remain in adherence to the program of whatever party or faction best represents this interest.

Whereas conservatives seek to improve reality by restoring it to a period of past glory, liberals seek to improve reality by redeeming it from a period of past sinfulness.

But both broad tendencies absolutely depend upon the fixity of the narrative of the past, the agreement about the frame of reference, and the valuations of progress/regress from that period of reference.

Since the past seems always to recede, both liberals and conservatives must continuously update their frame of reference. They require, then, a continuity of history.

History - that post-Enlightenment recreation of the past according to a narrative arc which allegedly embodies moral principles in the flow of human decisions, as well as "natural" patterns of determined conduct - binds liberals and conservatives to power.

A reverence for the past - either as a period of grace which one must best mimic, or as a starting point for a series of improvements - serves as the common ground between conservatives and liberals.

That which preserves the model of the past preserves the goals of the party which uses it. History, like any other conceptual map of the phenomena of reality, edits the available data into a set of agreements (or impositions) about how events unfold. Since no history can account for all of the data, available or unknown, no history actually models reality.

History does not reveal truths. It edits memory, sometimes with accuracy, but rather often within a determined perspective. It fixes the past as a confirmation of the present, and often enough, of the form of power which endures across generations and place.

Those who use history do so to improve upon reality, to give it a purpose in the minds of their adherents which has no basis in the material conditions of the world, or the cosmos.

History - that which binds liberals and conservatives in a common view of time and continuity, despite a difference in application - imposes upon its believers the fiction of purpose, of teleology, of an embedded narrative plan in the unfolding of events.

Those who use history, then, attempt to escape material conditions and actual contingency, in favor of a storyline which places them in a position to arbitrate the purpose of human events, decisions and communities.

It justifies power by providing its believers with a frame of reference, to which others must adhere, or in failing to do so violate the purpose of human existence. Those who rule, those who punish, those who believe, those who have some program of amelioration or social construction, absolutely require a common view of the past - of history.

Deviation from belief in the fixed frame of reference (on any number of grounds, from religious to the less predictably nihilist, to the penetratingly apathetic) provides the believers in history with their justification for the continuation of the forms of power.**

This may distinguish them, in part, from more vulgar authoritarians, who employ power to enjoy the fruits of it - but almost without fail, where you find power, you find someone who justifies it by way of history, by way of the attempt to make the present conform to the past, or alternatively, to drive the present as far from the past as possible.

Those who use, create and believe in the historical imposition of a narrative onto human events almost invariably recreate the stable form of power, because the stable form of power (the hierarchy outlined in essays below) provides the best guarantee of continuity, the best control of resources, and the most enduring skill set by which those who rule can instruct others in adherence to power.

This material set of conditions provides the historical believer with the means to impose his history on events. History justifies power by placing it in the center of the scheme of purpose. And power relies on history to rationalize its methods as necessary, natural and determined, as flowing naturally and inexorably from the past.

Where you find power, you have history. Where historians edit the past, power lurks close by.

* - rather broadly descriptive categories, which encompass the whole liberal project starting with the Enlightenment, as well as traditionalist reaction and Catholic/Evangelical maximalism. A social conservative can share the core Enlightenment perspective, with regard to science, the constitution of consent, natural law and rights, and still reject the progressive expansion of rights which characterizes the liberal project, in general. A political liberal can reject the expansion of rights beyond the scope of the nationalist myth, or the State guarantee of the same, but still disagree with conservatives regarding that scope within national borders, or the application of law with regard to civil liberties. Et cetera ad infinitum.

** - a person who does not adhere to history, to the teleological outline of the purpose of events, either from demonstrable error or from a willful rejection, provides a rather unruly subject. Those who don't accept the validity of the storyline tend to deviate from the script. Acts which, even in small numbers, call the whole of the drama into question. Punishment usually follows, and swiftly.

May 6, 2011

Hood, or a wounded robin tells how he found his shadow...

There are more than several comments below which deserve responses, but I'm lazy and today was a sick day - so I'm genuinely sorry. I have a pattern, and it usually follows that too much time spent fiddling with words and the monitor screen will earn me a blinding headache.

Just want to take this moment's reprieve from an unscheduled migraine to expand on a thought briefly teased out in the post immediately preceding this one.

When I write in defense of vengeance, I mean it. But, that doesn't translate to punitive or bureaucratic violence. I'm not willing to write off violence, because it has worked for me. Worked over the long term. But, I'm also not particularly inclined to celebrate it.

The way I look at events, sometimes you just have to scare the motherfuckers who are making your life unbearable.


Causing fear is always risky, because different people respond differently to the provocation.

My oldest child does not respond to threats, to yelling or even to stern admonishment. It's counterproductive. He's gentle. Compassionate. If I were the tin eared man I used to be, I'd probably describe him as effete, although it's pretty clear to me now that this word says more about the user than it could ever describe the person to whom it's applied. He's very likely to take any sort of assertive correction to heart. He gets sad, and he stays sad. Being verbally or emotionally frustrated with him is a real good way to prolong the problem. He's not shamed by frustration, anger or criticism. He's hurt by it. If I raise my voice to him, he retreats into himself and waits until I become more human.

By comparison, my youngest child is very proud. He's as loving and kind as his older brother, but his reaction to a challenge, or to a sharp reproof, or to a stern admonishment is to stiffen his spine, plant his feet and fight back. He can be shamed, because shame motivates him. He's offended when people judge him without taking his view into account, and he will go the distance to get a critic to at least give him the hearing he thinks he deserves. If I raise my voice at him, he defies me. And while I can say with absolute surety that his older brother has never - not once - told me that he hates me, my youngest has zero compunction expressing his contempt for my failures as a father.

As different as they are - they are not boys who can be cowed. Fear doesn't work on them. My oldest will walk away until all anger passes. He will not engage. He will wait a motherfucker out, and then his first decision will be to forgive. My youngest will fight you to a standstill, and then tell you exactly why and how you should have shut up and listened. When he's wrong, he never has to be needled into admitting it. He offers it up, without strings.

They are honestly themselves, and it is a testament to my wife's patience and consistency that they've had to have me as a father and yet still managed to avoid inheriting most of my behavioral flaws.

People like my sons, and the men they will become, are not the sort of people who you scare. Because they don't live the lives, or make the choices, which put them in a position to lose or compromise themselves in order to gain advantage over others. My oldest is far too compassionate, my youngest far too self-reliant and proud. My oldest doesn't want the power. My youngest wouldn't demean himself with it.

They are, I believe, like almost everyone else on the planet. As different as they are from each other, as long as they continue to make the choices they're already making, they'll be like you, and you, and most everyone else you meet.

They'll be decent to others.

They're not like me. They're not barely reformed monsters. People like me can be scared, because people like me have made survival choices which put us in positions to tell others what to do and to do something about it when we don't get what we want. About the only good thing I can say about myself is that I don't rape and I never will.  But, given the chance and a reasonable opportunity to get away with it - and I would probably kill a rapist. I have a few in mind...

I have done extraordinary violence to others. I can and often do justify my past by reference to circumstances. I was severely abused as a child. I was often chained to a door. I was molested, raped, stabbed, imprisoned, hung from a clothes line, and put in the hospital and the position to lie about why on enough occasions to defy number. It was bad enough at its worst that I found my then five year old brother hanging from his bed post with a belt around his neck. My brothers and I would settle our differences with metal, wood and worse. I have tattoos which cover scars no child should ever have to bear.

I stood over my sleeping abusers with a baseball bat and a glass of ammonia, ready to throw the ammonia in their eyes in order to blind them and buy myself enough time to finish the job. I once put a classmate in the hospital. He slapped me. I broke his nose, his jaw and his collarbone.

That was the fourth grade. And it was not the first time. Or the last. If I'd not been enrolled in a private school where priests thought prayer and the blessed host could tame the growing monster, I'd have gone into the state's custody a lot earlier than I eventually did.

Violence ruined me, but it allowed me to save myself. When you become as scary as you can imagine yourself to be, when you learn the cold, controlled rage that never gets hot or out of control, when you can make your eyelashes menacing and your voice into a weapon - your potential abusers are more likely to stay that way. They stay away. They keep their distance.

It costs you love and friendship, but it also reduces the threats you know surround you. Always around you. Always ready to betray what peace you've managed to scribble between the margins of your soul.

I don't know if everyone who's in a position of power is a monster like me. I doubt it - but perhaps that's not really the point. Like me, like people akin to me - they live armored, protected lives. Power attracts monsters because power protects them from their own manifold weaknesses. Power is above all a shield against the future.

They have defenses without which they don't feel right, don't feel like their own selves. They have to be guarded, because power is never passive. Once you engage in the contest for it, you are all in or you are out.

You don't have to be smart. You don't have to be observant. You don't have to be social. You don't have to be subtle. You just have to be willing to see shit through. A good operator knows how to mimic the better traits of human sociality, but power itself requires the ability to dispense with all that. In fact, to have power and keep it, you only have know how to frighten those people from whom you can and must take. To have power, you just have to use it.

Which is why, I think, so many petty clowns, degraded wits and mafioso types end up with it.

And that's where vengeance re-enters this sad tale of my own petty inhumanity.

People with power need their power. They need the armor. They need the illusion of permanence and stability. They need to enforce it on the world because they are fundamentally deficient as persons. This is how power replicates itself - by wounding people. By taking their basic humanity and thwarting it. By depriving them of the sense of wonder and self-disregard that makes compassion possible. By making them self-conscious, calculating and obsessive. By aborting the capacity to empathize and replacing it with a compulsion to measure, judge and ultimately arbitrate who deserves a fuller life, and who does not. These people - and I have long been one of them - rise to the top because the form of power remains consistent over time. It is an attractor. It produces an injured, wounded animal and them offers him a reprieve in the guise of false autarky.

It is, for all its stability and consistency, an easily disrupted mechanism of control. For it to work, it requires obedience out of fear, and a refusal to feel compassion out of self-preservation.

And that's how vengeance and forgiveness each come to play their different but intertwined parts. Resistance to power is retributive. It redistributes human calories. Resistance makes the exercise of power calculate its own perpetuity. Power is expensive. It's intensive, but it works because its cheaper than sharing. We break it by making those armored, insecure, wounded people more dependent on it at the same time as we withdraw our participation in it, reducing the input of our labor while increasing the cost of continued operation. The only way to stand against the reaction is to live as if it doesn't matter. To share labor and life as if all possible revolutions have already come and gone and time itself no longer keeps a score.

To share alike and strike any blow which opportunity or ingenuity present. It's not easy to break a compassionate child. It's not easy to break a defiant one. Twelve years of rigorous standardization, and four or eight more to produce professionals who internalize it - that's a big investment. It takes a lot to break a child into an obedient or sullenly compliant adult. It takes the weight of civilization. It takes relentless policing. It takes permanent war, and it still doesn't take entirely.

It took the whole of violent, patriarchal Christendom, and pagan fertility still ended up wearing the masks of Mother Mary, the panoply of saints, mystical ecstacy and the dance of a dozen loas. It took repressive Legalism and Confucianism, and taoists would still turn Confucius against himself. Hundreds of billions for the drug war, and two hits of some special kind make it all seem ridiculous. Billions for abstinence and the children use free facebook to find themselves a fuck.

It's really not all that hard to spin a wounded despot, great or small, until he only has eyes and mind for his own fragmenting armor, and for the record of his loss of control. While many if not most people respond to threat by protecting those who need it, the powerful respond to fear by envisioning a world made of enemies.

It's risky. All of life, I think, is risk. But, if we can learn how to care for each other while we gather our strength and frighten those who rule and would rule until they learn to budget their own abolition, I think we might just have half a chance to make lives worth living. And a world worth inheriting.