"...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

Nov 19, 2011

Radio Silence

Just been threatened with loss of custody, criminal charges and other legal action if I don't force my son to make a thousand mile "round trip" he patently doesn't want to make, and which we honestly fear will result in his failure to return should he be forced to go. Thank you for your time, and for your hours, days, weeks and years of consideration. It's been a pleasure. I am a better man for the gift of your criticism, your commentary and your own many insights, observations and original sentiments.

(I do hope to be able to do this again sometime in the near future, but right now the meat world demands our "undivided attention.")

With friendship, camaraderie and respect,

~ Jack


You have no rights which have been threatened. The law does not protect your rights, because you never had any - even and especially when you're afraid "anarchy" might undo your claim to three and a half bedrooms and job in academia.

There's already only anarchy, idiot.

Sure, now you're waking up to the fact that the pretenses which you've believed - especially the ones which allow you to justify the three and half baths and the State Police Benevolent Fund sticker on your bumper - were rights are just that. Pretend. Fictions. It is no credit to you that you're finally figuring it out. There are about three and half billion people, on any given day, who've already been living without that excuse to submit, and with none of the benefits attendant upon your submission. Their lives probably suck more than yours. And that's the point, isn't it?

Because there's already only anarchy, you fucking compromised piece of shit.

It's just that you've been on the side of the bullies for so long you've lost the ability to sort out that you're the one paying for the bullies, while the poor pay for your roads and your tax credits. And you're the cops' justification. You are their reason for being. Those are your democratic institutions, so-called, which demand cops for the protection of enclosed, private property. Those are your public educational systems, and your investments in biotech and solar energy, which produce and re-produce this system of control. A system, you full well know by now, that must forever expand, control, repress, export and co-opt, or it collapses.

You're a company man; you're a fucking client. Of course you know it. It's how you do business. It's what you teach the little kiddies when you teach them respect for the law, and merit, and being successful and well-adjusted in this world if degradation and misery.

And it's the anarchy of the wealthy that you've been pretending is law, order and a system of inalienable rights all these years. That's your republic. Those are your liberal institutions. It's your quaint little Methodist quilting club. It's the punitive, regressive taxes paid by the poor who've got no property and no stake from which to draw deductions. It's your groper frat boy son, taking advantage of three hundreds years of pillage, rape, slavery, labor breaking, oppression, war and imprisonment that funded the building of his campus experiment in alcohol poisoning. The mortar holding the bricks atop each other in his dorm room is the raw material of wasted human lives. That's  your legal title to 1.5 acres and a mailman who smiles at you: the death of millions.

You never had any rights. None of us do. Rights are lies. And you aren't under threat of losing them now, anyway, company man. You never will be, because you've already proven time and again that when the anarchy of the poor threatens to spill over into your shitty little life, you'll put your hand to the telephone and dial up the authorities. You've got your stake, and that means you get to pretend that law and democracy are real and that they'll take care of you. That you're better-than, because you've been bought and paid for.

And those fictions will protect you, for a price. Right up until they don't anymore, because you've joined the ranks of those who can no longer afford it. That's your angst. This is the source of your current worry.

It's also the intersection of the anarchy of the rich, and the anarchy of the poor.

It's an intersection famous for accidents and you, you fucking fuck - you're going to know what it's really like to feel the threat of loss and bewilderment, when your accident comes. Because the rich will triage you and the poor are going to remember that you've always called the cops.

Oh, happy day...


Sometimes you have to speak the enemy's language, or he won't be able to hear what you have to say. Hell, he might only know about you, in theory. You may only exist to him as an obstacle. Or as a bundle of potential or manipulable reactions. If his response to your existence is a life destroying legal action, he's looking to break you with your fear. If his reaction to your discontent is to send in ten cohorts of the peace legions of the homeland, it's your terror at death and injury, your dread of punishment, your horror at ostracism and recrimination which he is trying to provoke. You aren't human to him. He has no word for your humanity, in his native tongue.

If you play make-nice and do-good with him, he may not be able to comprehend. He might not even speak the language. Perhaps the best response is to use the language he understands.

Nov 18, 2011


You can always count on AOL-Huffington's Fashion Magazine. When its publishers and editors aren't doing public relations work for Christina Hendricks's dress maker, or running anti-Iranian propaganda written up directly by the State Department's Undersecretary for Lazy Lies, you can count on them for a strained, melodramatic indignation at the slightest hint of unsanitary political language:
"As we learn about the man who shot bullets into the living quarters of the White House, an unnerving fact has emerged: The shooter believed that he was on a personal mission from God and that President Obama is the anti-Christ."
I don't know if there's a god or not. You don't know. Huffington's writer doesn't know. And the millions and millions of people who rifle up in the name of Jesus, Vishnu, Allah or the Nichiren mantra don't have a fucking clue either. But, it's not like it's all that surprising that people believe that the divine fucks around in human affairs and gets a stiffy at the prospect of dead infidels. This is kind of what religion is about. And I don't mean the dreamy, perfect religion of endless love what belongs to every true Scotsman who ever got it in his head to insist that the maker of the universe has a crush on him. I mean the historical religions of the world. Death dealing, fulminating, damning, castrating, witch burning, finger cracking, slave trafficking and raping is what religions have accomplished, and what apologists for faith have justified, since the first wet slab of clay had the first symbol for a bull god incised into its surface.

It's hardly "unnerving" that another god-sot with access to a murder tool put one and one together and gave credence to the voices in his head.
The attack on the White House and the first family is the result of an almost casual use by President Obama's political enemies of iconic religious imagery.
Sure it is. This guy was out to kill the whole treasured, innocent and unsuspecting "first family" - you know, those firsts among equals - because Obama has political enemies who condemn him with unfavorable religious symbolism. It's not because the whole five thousand year history of recorded religious belief is an unrelenting record of deceit, manipulation, lies, false dichotomies, double binds, hysterical breaks, rape rackets, slavery, child abuse, crusade, jihad, holy war, peonage, degradation and other behaviors which harm and warp their victims for life.

It was "political enemies" who made this man drive up to one of the most heavily guarded imperial residences on the planet and take an utterly quixotic shot at one of its windows.
The shots are a violent echo of the 2008 election when the rumor of Obama being "The One" surfaced through an ad by the McCain campaign. As Mara Vanderslice, then of the Matthew 25 Network, who now works in Obama's Faith Office, wrote:

'At best, this ad implies that those who plan to support Senator Obama are looking for a new savior or a replacement Messiah. But many are reading it even more darkly as an attempt to portray Obama as an anti-Christ figure.'
So, let's see how this works: Candidate Obama, who steeped his campaign rhetoric in the overt symbolism of an aggressive and evangelical Christianity, who called on the same God that allegedly enjoys the ripping open of the wombs of his enemies, and the dashing of children's heads against rocks, the god who sends bears to murder children for the crime of mocking a Biblical inquisitor's balding pate, this candidate was targeted - no less - by the damaging, frightful of words his political opponents, who, in a surprising breach with custom, used similar religious rhetoric to call his character and mission into question? Is that about right?

Yeah, I could see how that would be truly awful. And how, several years later, it would be exactly echoed by a single gunman with the voice of God rattling around in his head and with no apparent plan to elude the authorities. Of course there's a causative relationship. It's not like the President has done anything untoward or reprehensible in the intervening years. It was the rhetoric of his political enemies that done it, obviously.
As the 2012 campaign gears up, we are once again faced with the prospect of sinister religious rhetoric that paints opponents with hyper-charged and potentially lethal brushes. The case of Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez proves that words matter with potentially horrific results.
I shudder at the thought. I suspect you, dear readers, have already reached for your security blankets. Because what's genuinely frightening in this big, bad world of ours is political and religious rhetoric. Words which are so "hyper-charged" that they unleash a storm of lethal brushes.

This case has certainly led to horrific results. I mean, can you imagine what would have happened if he'd broken two windows. Or if the evil thought demons unleashed by Obama's political opponents had resulted in a new and insidious website devoted to discovering signs of Obama's apostasy as revealed in a Jesus faced slice of pizza? And, I'm loathe to even put to words the image of a bullet of sinister rhetoric piercing the shattered heart of a political ally, breaking his will in an act of reprehensible verbal terrorism, and preventing the passage of the only "jobs" bill that can save the planet.
Let me say this as clearly as I can with my head still attached: President Obama is NOT the anti-Christ.
No doubt, he's not. He's too busy for all that. Obama is a man with a lot on his plate. Between handing millions of captive clients to predatory insurance companies, compromising with his alleged "political enemies" to criminalize or price-out abortions for anyone who isn't wealthy or the rapist son of a Senator Whatshisname, orchestrating the overthrow of aging dictators who fail to completely neoliberalize, saber rattling at Iran, providing cover for an Israeli strike on the same, transferring billions to Arab client states who do play ball so that they can crush their restless dissidents, prosecuting the drug war more zealously than his predecessor, doubling down on the incarceration racket, and collaborating with his "political enemies" again, this time to punish the poor and the working classes with higher use taxes and austerity, he's been somewhat pre-occupied with winning the bet he had with Petraeus and Panetta that he could kill more non-combatants with sky death robots in three years than that no-talent scrub, Georgie Boy Bush, could do in over the course of eight.

Of course he's not the anti-Christ. He doesn't have the time for a minor gig like that.


This is a garter snake:

It is not dangerous to groundskeepers. It is an attractive animal, and its venom does negligible harm to humans. Some people keep them as pets. The garter snake is often ground up in the blades of lawnmowers, or run over by children on bicycles. This can be inconvenient for property owners, but they rarely lose any sleep over the proximity of a garter snake. You can also routinely find this snake dead, in the middle of roadways. They share a fondness for the shenanigans of suicide squirrels. When frightened, a garter snake releases a strong musk from its cloaca. This musk has a fearsome stink, but that's probably the only thing scary about a garter snake. Raptors, corvids, crayfish, raccoons and other snakes feed upon garter snakes. Baby garter snakes are a snack for shrews and frogs. Very few groundskeepers have nightmares about garter snakes.

This is a copperhead:

It also known as the death adder. It is not a garter snake. It is not as commonly found in yards and lawns, or upon golf courses and roadways, as the garter snake. Perhaps it is a more intelligent serpent. Copperheads are extraordinarily talented camouflage artists, and prefer the woodlands and forested hills of North America. They have been known to climb trees, in order to hunt. Unlike garter snakes, who prefer to take shelter in lawn mowers, copperheads are ophidian ambush experts. When approached, they "freeze," or become very, very still. Remember, they are exemplary practitioners of camouflage. Sometimes stupid hunters, and other people who do not belong in un-Enclosed woodscapes, discover to their woe and chagrin that copperheads are right under their feet. And that they will, when cornered and threatened, bite. Unlike garter snakes, a copperhead's bite can cause discomfort. And pain. It is a fact that stepping upon a copperhead is bad for one's health.

This is a cottonmouth:

As with the copperhead, the cottonmouth is a pit viper. It is also known as a water moccasin, or a water adder. Cottonmouths are quite at home in swamps, riparian zones and watersheds, streams, lakes and ponds. The cottonmouth, who will even foray out to sea, is a world renowned swimmer. The cottonmouth is also not a garter snake. When threatened it will stand it's ground and show its fangs. From thence, comes its most common name. For, in showing its fangs, it flashes the milky white interior of its mouth. Can you picture it? You're a groundskeeper and you're just walking along, swinging your cattle prod, enjoying the autumn air, and you encounter a cottonmouth, head held high, fangs exposed, white mouth gleaming, standing its ground. You might even reconsider your career choices, if you were a smart groundskeeper. Because, the cottonmouth delivers a nasty bite. It can be very painful. And when left untreated, fatal. A person intruding upon the cottonmouth's natural habitat should be careful not to threaten this wonderful creature. For example, land developers and golf course designers might take some precautions when traveling in cottonmouth country. Or, they could bugger off entirely and instead try their hands at selling country club shares in the antarctic.

This is a timber rattler:

It's taxonomical name is Crotalus horridus. Garter snakes are occasionally heard complaining about timber rattlers. Rumor has it that the timber rattler has developed a taste for the garter snake. Poor, poor garter snakes. They should cower beneath tool sheds, where they feel safe. The timber rattler, like its viper cousins, the copperhead and the cottonmouth, is wise enough to pack venom when it goes on its travels. The timber rattler may in fact be the most dangerous snake in all of North America. It has very long fangs. And a "high venom yield." The timber rattler has such a "fearsome reputation" that past revolutionaries turned it into a symbol of their willingness to fight:

It's not that the timber rattler is an aggressive animal. It's not, really. You just shouldn't try to make it obey. The timber rattler is not a pet.

This public service announcement brought to you by the letter S.

Nov 17, 2011


Human persons do not have root systems. That is to say, we are not trees. Being a tree has its advantages. Trees, when not chopped down by humans or felled by lightning, live very long lives. The verdict is not in, yet, on whether or not trees know that they are trees or that they live much longer, more fulfilling, more useful lives than humans.

Evidence does suggest that humans do not live as rewarding lives as trees. Don't blame me. Blame the evidence. Or, if you are moderately to very wealthy, blame all the poor people. Poor people are like working people, but without as much crippling debt recorded in the ledgers of the banks and governments owned by all the wealthy people. Poor people and working people have bad morals. In that, they are like trees, which just sit there and take life. Moderately to very wealthy people don't just sit there and take it. No, not them. They do things like "grab life by the balls," and "man up," and "seize the horns," and "grab themselves by the bootstraps," oh, and let's not forget, "earn a living."

Lots of living creatures have testicles, colloquial known as "balls." To the best of our knowledge, very few of them respond positively to being molested by wealthy people who are on their way up the ladder of a meritocracy or more traditional hierarchy. Also, that's not really a ladder the rich guys are climbing. Those are human heads they're stepping upon. Anyway. Take note, wealthy people: fondling balls will not make you more money. It is surprising that you have to be told this. If it did make money, you'd be teaching ball-fondling in your schools. Oh, wait. You do. But, you don't call it ball-fondling. You call it football. Or Church. And there is money in it. Just ask Joe Paterno. He made so much money off the ball-fondling supervised by Penn State College he was able to give his wife a half-million dollar home for the nominal transaction fee of a single dollar. She's a lucky gal. But at least she is free of the balls that up and coming wealthy folk are compelled to clutch to prove that they have what it takes to be affluent. The lesson here is that wealthy people cannot be trusted around balls. Or small children.

Come to think of it, all those people and animals who don't have balls should just avoid the rich, as well. Who knows what they'll come up with next, especially when they tire of grabbing living creatures by their scrotums. And their track with regard to ovaries, uteri and vaginas is even worse than their one with the balls. When it comes to ball fondling, they're all like, "Hey dude, I've got to prove I can be one of the rich motherfuckers who just don't give a fuck." 

For the human-like creatures who have lady parts, it's much, much worse. "Don't be a bitch" means "don't lie there and take it."  Alternately, it can convey frustration with unwarranted complaining. You know, like a woman does. Because that's what women do. They complain all them time, while they lie there and take it, and then they do a bunch of labor which very few people are willing to call labor, or remunerate them for, because God (who has balls) and country have decided that this is what women have to do to not be beat about the head and face. Women's work is like a ticket to not being beaten. Only that it isn't. And most people know by now that it doesn't go very far towards preventing rape. But, whatever. The bitch was asking for it.

Hey, at least women aren't treated like kine, anymore. Well, not exactly like kine. That would be going backwards.

Just remember, some girl cows come with horns. Hard, pointy horns.

And what is it with "seizing life by the horns"? Bulls have horns. Goats have horns. Deer and moose have horn-like structures known as antlers. Rhinoceroses sport horns. And elephants, horn-like tusks. Goats are ornery creatures. In fact, goats are so ornery and fickle, the word "capricious" means "goat-like." Goats head-butt, kick and bite. Goats hate fences. Why would anyone want to go around grabbing goats by their fickle, fickle horns? And cows and bulls? How is messing with their heads healthy? Have you seen what a bull does with those horns on a good day? Imagine an angry bull being molested all about the head and horns for the amusement and profit of wealthy people. Fun times, fun times. That's almost as stupid as attempting to wrangle and hog tie a mother rhinoceros in view of her children.

Hey, wait a minute. Poor and working people, I think we've got a thing or two to learn from goats, rhinos and bulls.

Especially the part about them being like super wicked lazy and not earning a living. Those glorious, liberated fuckers. Have you ever seen a rhinoceros key her time code into the machine? I think not. There's no managing her company time. Hell, it's well nigh on impossible to mobilize rhinoceroses into companies in the first place. Something to be said about animals you just can't wrangle.

Wait. Where were we?

Humans. We were discussing humans. That's too bad. An angry mother rhinoceroses charging a rich white dude trying to net her and tie her up so that he can cut off her head and horn to prove he's manly even during his off time is so much more interesting. Especially the part where he gets to explain to his other wealthy companions why they may no longer grab him by the balls, as his testicles now adorn the earthen trophy shrine of a particularly satisfied mother rhinoceros.

But, humans. Humans are not trees. They travel. Moderate to very wealthy humans travel to and around places and locations where there are poor and working people available to wash their clothing, cook their meals, point at paintings, drive them to theaters made famous by the patronage of kings (who are rarely poor) and who generally exist to make life more comfortable for the people who have had enough experience in grabbing balls, seizing horns and shutting up bitches to deserve to be wealthy; this is called tourism. Whew, that was a long sentence. I assure you, I did not need to grab any balls in order to write it.

Humans who are not-wealthy also travel. Their travel is rarely labeled "tourism." Mostly, it goes by the name of "getting by," and it costs them money to do it. It costs them even more money not to do it. Money is like that. "Getting by" is like that.

If you are reading this, and have not yet taken offense at the characterization of your existence as a cavalcade of molestation, head stepping, animal abuse and mistreatment of women, it is more than likely that you belong to the ranks of the not-wealthy. It stands to reason that you find getting from today to tomorrow expensive. Being not-wealthy is like that.

Your travel options are somewhat more limited. When you take a vacation - which word means, to vacate, to flee, to escape - you've probably had to either (a) go in debt to wealthy people, which ends up ruining your memories of your temporary escape, or (b) save up for several years, just in time to have your car break down, the city cancel bus service to your neighborhood, or your boss, who gets to treat you like property whenever you forget to act like an angry lady rhinoceros, inform you that your services are no longer needed.

Most travel by the not-wealthy is survival related, and involves going from points A or B, towards some kind of point C, D or E.  Point A is a poorly built structure owned by the bank. A bank is a collection of very, very wealthy people who become even wealthier by making irresponsible decisions with poor and working people's meager earnings. Point B is a poorly built and poorly maintained shelter owned by a renter. A renter is a person or company, often enough a bank or doing business with a bank, which has the legal right, obligation and power to expose you to the elements and keep all your stuff, should you fail to remember that you are neither an angry bull nor a pissed off lady rhino. And should circumstances compel you to mimic the capriciousness of goats, perhaps by choosing to feed yourself or your children before tithing your tribute to the renter or the bank, they may ask the law to put its formal seal of approval upon their efforts to immisersate you entirely, before exposing you to the elements.

Poor and working people, therefore, do a lot of traveling. This kind of travel must never be confused with tourism. When traveling from points A or B, to Point C, a poor person can rarely afford herself the opportunity to hire other poor people to do her laundry. Besides, laundry is woman's work. If a woman is not doing laundry, how will a horn grabbing ball fondler know not to beat her with the straps from his boots?

Many women no longer have the good fortune to be wholly owned chattel who may be married off by their fathers in transactions to secure grazing rights, or business partnerships. This puts them in a precarious position, when traveling. A large number of men, raised up in the schools wealthy people build in order to prepare the next generation of poor and working people, find it next to impossible to properly identity a traveling woman's proprietary markers. This may cause them noticeable distress. They often confuse her liberty of movement with a loss of male patronage. To best express their concern over the poor woman's failure to secure the protections of a man, they will whistle at her in despair, describe her anatomical proportions in a loud and demonstrative fashion, and become visibly distraught at the prospect of her departure from the protective aegis of their fields of vision.

Sometimes, the poor and the working poor, will make it from points A or B, all the way to point C. Point C can be best described as a place where the labor of hundreds and thousands of other poor and working people is devalued in order to sell the output of that labor at a profit. Profit is a process by which wealthy people who have passed the pupal and larval stages of ball grabbing and horn seizing demonstrate to themselves and others that they have earned the ability to brag about making it all on their own in this dangerous, miserable world. This, they call "lifting oneself up by the bootstraps." In brief, bootstrapping involves pretending that the labor of others and the profits skimmed off that labor are in no way connected. For wealthy people who own point B type buildings in which poor people inconveniently store themselves for the winter, inconsiderately depriving the elements of bodies to which cold, snow, wind and rain might be exposed, this is known as taking rent. However you look at it, it's obvious that the poor and the working class deserve what happens to them. They should have figured out how to levitate with their hands around their ankles, already.

Sometimes point C sells food "stuffs." Food "stuffs" do literally that. They fill a body up. Once stuffed, a poor person may be less likely to travel off the reservation, and start acting like a higher animal, preferably one with unseizable horns.  Food "stuffs" need not provide complete nutrition. The wealthy people have written laws which clearly demonstrate that partial nutrition is good enough for the poor and the laboring. The poor do a lot of traveling from points B to C to acquire this stuff. Most of the stuff which is good enough for the not-wealthy refuses to behave like its supposed to be durable, or healthy, or useful over the long term. This is as it should be, the moderate to very wealthy people insist, usually in front of cameras. If they owned companies which produced healthy foods and durable clothing for people who refused to levitate whilst clutching at boots, where would all the jobs go? And then what would the poor do for work? And how would the wealthy be able to afford to have companies which provide the poor with sort-of nutrition, and almost-clothing? The not-wealthy can be very unreasonable. They have even reduced themselves to taking - just reaching out and grasping at, like pushy goats or other dirty animals, such as monkeys - the healthy food and durable goods intended for the moderate to very wealthy. The gall of those people. If the moderately to very wealthy don't live more fully human lives, and get to do tourism traveling a minimum of four times a year, how will they elevate their spirits high enough to keep all the poor and the workers in jobs? Have you thought about that, poor people? Do you have any compassion? Or does your failure to earn self-esteem along with your living make you not only prone to criminality, poor taste in dress, bad eating habits and terrible choices in living arrangements, but also to immorality?

Still, the ingrates do need the basics.

Sometimes a point C distributes clothing and household items to the poor and the laboring, for a nominal usage fee equal to a completely reasonable one quarter of yearly earnings. Often, it's cheap distractions, or the means to receive them in one's own (that is, the renter's or the bank's) home, which the wealthy advertise as new and exciting entertainment. These distractions often include stories about wealthy people who travel and have great adventures where all the poor brown foreigners are grateful to serve them and learn civilization from their betters. Often, in these stories, wealthy people own companies so that the poor can have the self-respect of a good job. Sometimes they're about wealthy people who solve crimes and protect all the good, hard working, decent poor people from other poor people who have forgotten that they are not horn'd beasts with cause to smash about in china shops. For special circumstances, on Wednesday nights for example, the viewers of distractions are treated to a serialized tale of well educated wealthy people who are tolerant of their equally well-educated, articulate, property owning black and homosexual neighbors. And during the daytime, there are stories about dashing and/or pretty wealthy people who have exciting and fulfilling love loves, or animated heroes who would never think of breaking the law, farting in polite company, or pushing the jefe off a cliff towards a well earned end.

Speaking of the endings tales and travels, we approach our own.

Just remember, when you are out there, traveling from your points A or B, to your points C and so on, you might encounter one of these:

...especially if you've taken to the illegal and disreputable notion that being human sometimes requires a body to act like it has horns. This (above) is an LRAD device. It is used for "crowd control." "Crowd control" is another way of saying, "preventing people from getting together and acting like they are beasts with horns, tusks, antlers and a reason to use them; or dispersing those who have already gathered." The LRAD works by producing high decibel sounds which cause pain, harm to your ears and disorientation. Their purpose is make it uncomfortable to be near to or around them. Three city blocks is too close for comfort, when it comes to LRADs. The LRAD has a long range of effect. Many police departments now have LRADs.

LRADs are cutting edge technology. Unfortunately for the producers of these perfectly civilized "crowd control" devices, earplugs effectively render them useless. The average cost for a pair of reusable earplugs is $5. Sound neutralizing ear muffs may cost as much as $14. Sometimes they can be found just lying around on the shelves in stores staffed by disgruntled employees. Disgruntled employees often appreciate a hot meal on a cold day.

And if you do happen to have to travel from the bank or your rental company's property to your employer's property, take care when passing through areas peopled by persons who insist on living lives which are actually worth living. The police are paid to take notice. Sometimes those police arrive equipped with LRADs. Just as often, they show up bearing other gifts. These armed and dangerous magi may employ "riot control agents":

...the most common of which is "tear gas." Tear gas is not a vomiting agent. Vomiting agents in "higher concentrations" cause vomiting, nausea and "malaise." Unlike tear gas, they do not cause skin irritation. For travelers who do not have the good fortune to belong to a society for the promotion ball fondling, one recommendation is to carry your earplugs in a bandanna, or in a free for the taking cough mask provided by nearly every hospital or doctor's office from Boston to San Francisco. Tear gas, mace and pepper spray do cause skin irritation, and in combination with vomiting agents, can lead to the unfortunate early demises of persons gathered together in a confined space for long periods of time, but who are prevented from leaving by virtue of being surrounded by peace officers in closed or combative riot control echelons and phalanxes:

"...When a [gathering of people who should be at work, or shopping for crocs, and therefore deserve whatever happens to them] is in full swing, police will deploy in a square formation with a command team at the center. The command team is protected on all four sides by echelons of troops deployed in groups of 10 or 12 officers. There is also an arrest team at the center of the square.

This tactical unit is very mobile and able to adapt on the fly to changes in the situation. If a threat suddenly appears behind or to one side of the unit, then the echelon facing that direction is designated the front of the unit. The entire team can then change the direction it's facing without a lot of maneuvering. Also, the echelons can cover each other when the team moves to take advanced positions. If the unit is under attack, the whole team does not move together: One echelon moves while the others provide covering fire or an actual physical screen (with riot shields). Then another echelon moves up into position.

The echelon is not meant to be an impenetrable wall of cop. In fact, the riot squad often leaves an escape route to let rioters run past the squad. The officers can adopt a passive position, in which they spread out and leave several yards between each officer. The crowd can then easily filter through them. If a particularly violent group moves toward the officers or they spot specific suspects they want to arrest, they can quickly close the gaps and form a tight line.

As the unit moves forward into a crowd, it will prod and push at anyone who doesn't [exhibit proper submission and obeisance postures] by the time the front echelon reaches them. If they still refuse to move, the unit continues moving forward, but the front echelon opens up and passes around the protestors. Once the protestors are inside the square, the unit stops, the front echelon reforms and the arrest team processes the rioters. When they're done, the unit can continue moving."

Sometimes, these peace legions of the homeland will not be able to hear each other. Or, for reasons both mysterious and re-searchable on the as of yet uncensored internet, they will find their radio transmissions disrupted, and will need to use a series of fairly universal hand gestures, to coordinate the deployment of their peace and safety cohorts of justice:

Whatever the destination, even a not-wealthy traveler, especially one who has no interest in tourism, can with the minimum of expense enhance his or her experience while simultaneously undertaking a journey the tale of which will be far better than any mere distraction.

This public service announcement brought to you by the colors red and black.

Nov 16, 2011


...are like flashlights. You can never have enough of them.

This is a favorite kind of flashlight:

It's an invaluable tool. You should store it with your spade, and the hand held garden weeder you brought along to help do your part in tending the greenery of a public park. Take some care with that garden weeder. You should never, for example, pretend that your hands have been magically transformed into bear claws. That would just be silly:

But, we were discussing flashlights. Where and whenever it can be acquired for little to no cost, grab a flashlight. Or two. Or twenty. I hear that large big box retailers keep them in bulk supply. Those same retailers do not pay their employees very well, and routinely mistreat them as a matter of handbook policy. Mistreated and poorly paid employees make for porous operations. And unguarded stockrooms. Remember to buy those employees lunch. They deserve it.

A large metal flashlight, or torch as some folks are wont to call them, provides its user with a number of options when she finds herself in close quarters with the armed staffers of municipal, state and federal crisis response units. A sufficiently long torch makes an excellent impromptu baton stopping device. Gripping both ends of the light, place it out and away from your head, the better to deflect incoming blows. When appropriate, an experienced user needs only hold one end. She should take care to observe her surroundings. One's allies have not asked to be introduced to the business end of a torch.

The torch has another key defensive use, especially employed in large numbers during night time encounters with uniformed agents of the ruling class. It shines a light. A number of them shone directly into the eyes of advancing cohorts may provide a moment's essential respite, especially when attempting to provide cover for friends and comrades trying to avoid introduction to the peace legions of the homeland. They also illuminate faces, and nameplates, which is useful when taking photographs.

When bracing a flashlight against the swing of a baton, it serves to be wearing gloves. Gloves insulate against the cold. It is more difficult to handcuff a person wearing mittens or gloves. Gloves also absorb some of the shock of unexpected impacts. Well padded gloves might impede the performance of tasks which require dexterity, but they add a layer of protection against injury. Especially useful are gloves with shock absorbing or force distributing material sewn to the outward facing surfaces.

Gloves also provide additional comfort when leaning upon crutches.


...are made of metal, usually aluminum, wood and/or plastic. Like flashlights, crutches are multipurpose tools. A crutch helps the wounded walk. Crutches can be held in front of one's self or others, as part of a theater or comedy routine. It would be entirely incidental should that performance occur during a period of unrest, and just happen to block a number of purely random blows from batons, or nightsticks - defensively of course. Not that you would ever need to do that. Still, a row of persons in danger of harm might find two or more dozen crutches an effective temporary barrier against those aforementioned baton blows. Crutches can also be held while wearing gloves. In circumstances where the crutch might accidentally be put to a secondary use, metal or wood ones will probably hold up better than plastic against repeated blows.

When not immediately necessary, either to provide support for the injured, or defense against injury causing blunt instruments, remember to secure your crutches in a safe, accessible place. You could fasten them to a fence, tree or stake with rope. Rope is a material wonder. It has nearly endless applications. But be careful of rope. There are hazards to its improper placement. For example, when tied taut at ankle level, rope trips the unwary. Seemingly chaotic mazes of rope are especially fraught with peril. When pulled tight across narrow paths or roadways, rope can make the passage of bicycles, segway transporters and motorcycles an unpleasant experience for the vehicle operator. Horses often refuse to navigate through rope barriers. Rope can be especially meddlesome if handled improperly. For example, when secured around and through a number of large, unwieldy objects - such as bicycles, crutches, portions of fence and gate, garbage barrels, folding chairs and improperly disposed appliances - rope can inadvertently create a barricade. Barricades prevent the passage of people, material and smaller automobiles. You must therefore be conscientious and careful in the use and handling of rope.

If you are short on rope, there is always recourse to chain. Chain is heavier, which makes it more durable. Chain, unlike rope, is less likely to burn.

If there is any chance of fire, do not store your cooking oil, lamp oil or kerosene in open containers. Kerosene is a versatile lamp and cooking oil. Lamps are not dependent upon proprietary power grids. When using kerosene lamps, it is perhaps best not to swing them from side to side. That would be as uncivilized as using an innocuous tent stake driving hammer in a manner not described in the manual. Also, take care not to throw any lamps in your possession. That would be irresponsible. Thrown lamps might ignite flammable materials. And if you must use rags to wipe up any spilled kerosene, do not dispose of them in breakable containers. Very specifically, do not discard them into containers containing gasoline for your motorbike, diesel fuel for a generator and/or detergents, like dish soap. That would be very, very irresponsible.

When handling kerosene for your lamp, use gloves.

When the weather is mild, or when you do not need to protect yourself against the blows of well armed men in uniforms, you might store your gloves in the pockets of your hooded sweatshirt. A hood is like a hat which is hard to lose. It covers your head and offers some protection for your ears. During inclement weather, larger hoods can be pulled around an exposed face, protecting sensitive facial features, like the nose and eyes, from all manner of environmental irritants. For extra protection, consider sunglasses and a large handkerchief. If you should find your sweatshirt momentarily unnecessary, do not discard it. Like ropes, flashlights and crutches, a durable sweatshirt can be customized to a number of circumstances. If you should happen to have several long poles handy - or, your crutches - two or three sweat shirts will make an excellent makeshift stretcher. Zip your sweatshirt tight, if needed, run the crutches or poles through the arms of your sweatshirts, with the zipper facing downward, and voila, you have a stretcher. Should an extra moment present itself, you could tether the sleeves to your poles or crutches with rope.

Should you run out of sweatshirts, or need them to weather the wind and other irritants, a single blanket is all you will need to fashion a stretcher, travois or other contrivance for the porting of people and material. A blanket, as with rope, must be used with proper care. Left lying about willy-nilly, a blanket can get caught up in the gears of a bicycle. It might accidentally obscure holes in the ground, or conceal items which all reasonable people everywhere refuse to carry on their persons. Or, unsecured blankets can be blown by the wind, right into the faces of perfectly judicious and impartial peace officers who would never, ever mean you harm.

This public service announcement brought to you by the letter C.


Come highly recommended. They won't stop an urban assault vehicle. But, with an eye towards effective placement, they can make it more difficult for armed municipal staffers to effectively use the riot control cohort which allows them to muscle in, Roman Legion style, and pacify a crowd.

Also, and you probably already know this, bonfires. Bonfires rock.

One of the side effects of the militarization of community policing is a growing dependence upon gadgetry. Such as, night vision goggles and infrared cameras. Bonfires create pockets of light which can effectively blind the night vision dependent.

Night vision amplification comes in two types - "image intensification" and "thermal imaging":

Night-vision equipment does not turn night into day.
1) Image intensification systems
Image intensification systems perform poorly in total darkness and more amplification causes visual distortions. By highlighting particular areas it can lead troops to concentrating on the light focus areas and not what is happening in unlit darker areas. Furthermore, they only work effectively over short distances and with slow moving objects. Image intensification rapidly diminishes at distances over 120 metres and the faster and more erratically an object moves, the less it can track it.
Because an image enhancing system works to increase lightness, a bright light shone on it in the near darkness will dazzle or blind its user. Even if the user is moving towards a bright light, and this includes a bright moon low on the horizon, he has great difficulty making out clear images and the equipment also casts long shadows which leads to accidents on uneven terrain. Therefore it can be made to malfunction by shining torches and, especially, by oncoming car headlights.
2) Thermal, infra-red imaging
Thermal imaging cannot be used to identify precise details on remote objects that are not distinguishable by different heat profiles. Depending on the quality of the night goggles, the maximum viewing range is from 30 to 120 metres in perfect conditions, and in adverse weather conditions much less. Weather conditions are the biggest threat to the efficiency of these systems. Dust, sand, smoke, fog, clouds and rain severely reduce their operational effectiveness.
Thermal night-vision equipment is also highly sensitive to red light. Even car instrument screens can disorientate the user and this is even more the case with red-lens flash lights.
A US army study also showed their limits used for night driving. It revealed that two thirds of vehicle accidents were due to night goggles. They proved very prone to terrain and roadway hazards like drop-offs and ditches greater than 1 metre and even with High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles. This was particularly the case when they faced dusty or sandy conditions and when confronted with smoke or as a result of being dazzled by an external light source.
Finally, the experience of Kosovo and Iraq showed that it is very difficult to wear the special helmets for a long time. They are extremely uncomfortable and the strain on the eyes of viewing things through these goggles means troops can only wear them for short periods and not in longer conflicts. Therefore troops will not be able to wear them throughout the night in surveillance or battle.
You can also pick up an assortment of LED flashlights, with blue and red beams, from as cheap as $2.

This public service announcement brought to you be the letter A.


We don't watch a lot of television, but my ten year old and I have made a ritual of watching NBC's "Community"  and "Parks and Recreation" together. He rather thoroughly enjoys "Community." Yesterday, he found out that NBC would not be returning it to the spring line up. He was sad. Pet fish being flushed down the toilet, or burying the family cat, sad.

Gave me an opportunity to explain to him the problems with depending upon very wealthy people for one's entertainment and amusement. Gave us the space to discuss the consequences of tethering one's enjoyment to the cultural output of a corporatocracy's cult of success - in this instance, as ratings - and growth.

Thank you, NBC. Thank you very much.

Nov 15, 2011


Disobedience is messy. It's disruptive. That's kind of the point. If engaged in a struggle against those who rule, and who profit from the obedience of the many, it makes no sense to behave. Disobedience is the willingness to be bad, according to the prevailing moral standards required of the ruled by the rulers. It is unruly.

Resistance is planned chaos. To resist a political and economic order, especially one which is hegemonic, is to commit to a mode of life and a set of choices designed to make life miserable for those who profit off that order.

Some people, by temperament or by the assumption of ruling class morality, are not suited to resistance. That is no judgment against them. It is not a stain on their characters. They are not weaker, inferior, less worthy of esteem or deficient in courage. But, perhaps, they should consider their own moral queasiness at the prospect of disruption, sabotage and the messiness of struggle as a sign. As a red flag. Maybe they are better suited to other tasks. Work which is no less important. Collectivity, especially stripped of the fantastic and the angelic, allows for human possibilities approaching the infinite. Isn't that the promise of it - that every person can be as fully human as desire can satisfy? Contending for a more human future will almost surely provide the opportunity for thousands upon thousands of roles and vocations which do not obligate actively disobedient resistance. And during any struggle, those who lack the mien appropriate to engaging in the chaos of conflict are not limited to the roles of spectator, cheerleader and apologist. Food must be grown, found, transported. Wounds healed. Fugitives hid. Children sheltered, cared for, taught. Strikers clothed. Families housed. The list is nearly endless.

Still, there's some value in wondering aloud at those who want a resistance, but refuse to participate in the mess it creates. At those who want to keep their hands clean of the dirt of actual struggle, while they organize into alternative leadership cabals, in order to claim the birthright of that resistance.

It's almost like they're already looking towards a future that looks identical to our today.

Like they want results without doing the work.

Like they want to, hmmm, appropriate the labor of others.

Nothing untoward could come of that...



It's already messy.

 "Riot police deployed under cover of darkness at 1 am. No video cameras were allowed during the early hours of the raid. News teams were barred from the scene. Air space above Zuccotti park was shut down.

Above all, a well-prepared removal plan received shock-op back-up as the NYPD rolled out long range acoustic devices (LRADs) on the streets of NY. The device is capable of emitting a tone higher than normal human pain threshold and can permanently damage hearing.

Evidence of LRAD weaponry was captured with cell-phones during the raid against OWS protestors, early morning November 15. This is the first time during the Occupy Wall Street movement that police posed such an extreme threat and begs the question; how long before LRADs are unleashed on the people?"

Here, in part, is why:

Austerity is not "about the economy." It has nothing to with competition, job creation or fiscal solvency. It's not about efficiency. It's not about the commonweal. Austerity is about changing the function of the State back to an older, more versatile, more enduring stable form. Austerity is about preserving the State as a military-policing instrument, whilst shedding those functions which currently provide a buffer against the mastery of the class which controls the state. Where once the ruling class had to buffer the laboring class from the worst excesses of capitalist accumulation, in order to maintain a sufficiently stable and trained laboring population, this condition no longer obtains. The ruling class can, because of globalization and the "offshoring" of plant capacity to crippled and re-colonized "third world" nations, now return to a more traditional set of relations with labor and the growing lumpenproletariat.

The modern nation state [and the large metropolitan corporate fiefdoms which increasingly constitute its power centers and dominate its politics]..remains vital as a buffer against direct opposition to exploitation, absorbing the violence, outrage and justified anger of laborers and the dwindling classes of petty small holders. For an American example, see the Tea Party. Or liberal political advocacy organizations.

But, for the nation state to serve this function, and with any degree of efficiency, it must shed either its excess populations, its welfare capacity or some of both. In the US, we have a very successful prison industry, as well as the marginalization of foreign and "illegal" workers, to provide a species of population shedding, since institutionally alienated populations (poor blacks, immigrant Asians and Latinos), subject to the control of prisons or deportation, do not immediately threaten the state's field of operation. They instead provide a justification for it, and for the increasing police-militarization of social life. In Israel, see Palestinians. In France, the residents
des banlieuses. In Germany, Turks and other immigrants.

Returning to a theme first announced above, the dismantling of the welfare state must either proceed at an increasing pace, so that the state can return to direct management of populations through isolation and violence, thus safeguarding the accumulated assets of the ruling class, or it risks collapsing before those same ruling classes can properly corral subject and captive populations into new zones of control, buffer and instability...

...The ruling class - represented in this age by corporations, military hierarchies, academia and managerial service institutions - has already cast its lot against the Commons as shared public space. It has begun the revaluation of the state, and therefore of social relations, towards the preservation of economic and social advantage in the face of oil contraction, resource scarcity and rising population. Towards this end, deconstructive crisis hastens the project of redefining the Commons as a policed military space, and away from three centuries of construction and agitation for the Commons as commonweal and social amelioration."

Nov 14, 2011


So, there was this religious non-violence (written by Starhawk, no less; heh) screed being passed around, reproving folks for failing to act in accord with the creed of non-violence. Demanding a "strategic non-violence" which demonstrated, ultimately, that the posture is a bourgeois one. Was going to write a critique.

Realized the violent crackdowns on Denver, Oakland and Portland Oregon spoke volumes, instead.

All that non-violence, and the cops were still sent in to swing their batons.

ADDED in edit: Heh. This post addresses the positions taken by Starhawk and her associates. Starhawk is a widely published spiritualist, somewhat famous also for once being in a relationship with a (now) defrocked Theilhardian Catholic priest. Starhawk is not poor. Starhawk, from what I gather, is actually rather well off. Book sales can do that for a person.

It does not address every single person who thinks "non-violence" has tactical value. It addresses "moral non-violence" and "spiritual non-violence," the sort common to bourgeois property owners who've projected their concerns for the loss of property outward on to other forms of property.

Nov 11, 2011


This is how business sees opposition. This is how business is done:

"In his forum called 'Designing a Media Relations Strategy To Overcome Concerns Surrounding Hydraulic Fracturing,'  Range Resources communications director Matt Pitzarella explains how to 'overcome stakeholder concerns' surrounding fracking.

'We have several former psy ops folks that work for us at Range because they’re very comfortable in dealing with localized issues and local governments,' Pitzarella said. 'Really all they do is spend most of their time helping folks develop local ordinances and things like that. But very much having that understanding of psy ops in the Army and in the Middle East has applied very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania.'

It was during Anadarko Petroleum's manager of external affairs, Matt Carmichael's, session on 'Understanding How Unconventional Oil & Gas Operators are Developing a Comprehensive Media Relations Strategy to Engage Stakeholders and Educate the Public' that he suggested his colleagues:

'Download the U.S. Army-slash-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because we are dealing with an insurgency,' Carmichael said. 'There’s a lot of good lessons in there and coming from a military background, I found the insight in that extremely remarkable.'

To be clear on exactly what Carmichael meant when he said they're 'dealing with an insurgency' we obtained a copy of the FM 3-24 — the final edition of the 2006 Counterinsurgency manual provided to psy ops soldiers. We substituted the word government with corporation.

' ... insurgency has been a common approach used by the weak to combat the strong. At the beginning of a conflict, insurgents have the strategic initiative ... the insurgents generally initiate the war. They may strive to disguise their intentions, and the potential counter-insurgent will be at a great disadvantage until [corporate] leaders recognize that an insurgency exists and are able to determine its makeup and characteristics to facilitate a coordinated reaction. 

While the [corporation] prepares to respond, the insurgent is gaining strength and creating increasing disruptions throughout the state. The existing [corporation] normally has an initial advantage in resources, but that edge is counterbalanced by the requirement to maintain order. The insurgent succeeds by sowing chaos and disorder anywhere; the [corporation] fails unless it maintains order everywhere.'..."

The treatment of captive populations as either adherents (consumers) or potential guerrillas is not limited to the "bad" corporations. Banks, newspapers, defense contractors and oil companies may have hired the first ex-military experts in disinformation, population control and psychological warfare, but they won't be the last. A permanent military devoted to endless warfare produces experts who generally leave service sometime before they die.

Doing business, even small business, requires mystification. Business is unfair. Always. Doing business means separating a person from the product of her labor, to her repeated disadvantage. Grocery chains, gas stations, restaurants, amusement companies, counseling practices, engineering firms - they all develop media relations departments once they pass a critical mass of wealth, market presence and accumulation.

Once a business is capable of moving the market, it reinforces this capability.

It begins to understand consumers -  or, patients and clients -  as potential traitors. As persons in need of loyalty and brand reinforcement.

This is, not incidentally, how the corporate press sees the rest of us as well. If you do not respond to their product as would a loyal consumer, you are treated as an insurgent, or potentially so. The larger portion of news output depends upon the treatment of the listener, viewer or reader as a person who might otherwise be hostile should the narrative fail

You, who are probably a producer of commodities or commoditized services, must act like a commodity yourself. As an item on shelf, dependable in its branding. That is the how the producers of news segments, ad campaigns and state propaganda understand you, us, the whole lot of competing captive populations. We are energy and wealth producing possessions with enough of a smattering of will to potentially resist, or to seek new conditions.

Considerable treasure and loot is budgeted towards getting us to "internalize" a consumptive form of obedience, to better prevent resistance which works.

You've learned about how Gandhi was a great man, no doubt. How his non-violence was like a kind of solar magic which enervated a nation. How India emerged from his spectral man-womb, perfectly formed from pure and noble protest, from the holy reception of British violence. That Gandhi gets taught in school. Gandhi the child fondler, the racist, the man who ordered his wife's death by refusing her medicine, the guy who nearly starved himself to death to stop Congress Party from giving rights to the Untouchables - he doesn't make it into the hagiographies, the history books, the school texts or the PBS retrospectives. The Real Gandhi makes Permissible Gandhi look like, um, propaganda*.

And like most of us who were fed this pig's swill of educational and moral self-betrayal, you might not even be aware of the thousands and tens of thousands of Indians who sabotaged train tracks, burned out British and local police stations, assassinated officers and engaged in what is now commonly referred to as hateful, evil, immoral "terrorism." They probably even vandalized park benches, broke windows and burned out collaborating businesses.

The real Gandhi, and the historical India are continuously elided, in favor of the non-violent Saint and his loyal millions of lightworking do-gooders.

"Gandhi-ji" good, actually hurting those with all the power and guns, bad. Bosses with smiles on their faces because the rube proles are waving placards and playing with poppets, good. Banks empty of customers because the lobby, designed to look like the interior of a temple, is on fire, bad.

Kind of like: Martin good, Malcolm bad.

Or: Obama cool and articulate, McKinney nappy haired craaaay-zee.

This "internalization" of self-defeating, action-limiting beliefs operates from within and without. Those people who fancy their selves as members of a resistance, but who have incorporated the over-class's obeisances, mental obstructions, consensus mentality and rule making hierarchies into their memories operate from within a movement, constantly (if most likely, unconsciously) reinforcing the imposition of the masters' rules and restrictions on conduct, reinforcing those pressures which are routinely applied from without. Those within a resistance, especially those most prone to propertarian convictions, will often attempt to assume ownership over the messaging, "optics" and moral fiber of that resistance, movement or protest. They will insist on decorum. They will demand a respect (a fetish, actually, but who's nitpicking?) for property and its sacral functions, its usefulness, its value. It is important to them that the correct owners of the resistance be established. That it have the right brand. They are branded by the corporate and educational cultures which generally tend to produce them, and their pursuit of brand awareness, brand placement and brand protection reflects these facts.

They do the work of the ruling class, of course.

They are not alone in performing this task.

Huffington, Yahoo, MSNBC, CNN, the networks and FOX have run daily pieces on the precipitous state of Iran's "nuclear ambitions" for the last week or so. We are being prepped for the possibility of one more expansion of the endless war to keep global, Western capitalism - managed from London, New York, Washington, Berlin, Paris and Rome - afloat atop a rising tide of manufactured Emergency and storyboarded crisis.

Emergency is the answer to insurgency. Crisis is the reaction to criticism.

This is now business as usual. Same as it ever was.

h/t Xymphora

* - because Permissible Gandhi is fucking propaganda. Seriously, this fuck was a child fondling defender of forced chastity, female servitude, racial superiority and the hatefulgodsbedamned caste system. Also, it's no hard task to draw a line of causation from Gandhi to Nehru to Gandhi to nuclear India.

Nov 10, 2011

Warning Label

If the person opposite an argument or discussion insists on the non-violence of [insert ennobled and revered fakir with a redline to the Allfather or the Everysoul] it might do well to remember that prayer, meditation, magicking and munificent thoughts do not actually alleviate squalor, stop the policeman's baton from completing its arc of brutality, or prevent a rapist from doing his rapey worst.

The appeal to the non-violence of sainted or holy prophets reveals the speaker for someone more interested in preserving his or her own presumed moral integrity than in opposing and ending the abuses which follow from concentrations of power and wealth. This person is therefore committed to a path of earthly or divine salvation; in other words, to the redemption of a treasured, special self from the sins of the world.  He or she is likely to abandon those without grace, and to justify that abandonment with an appeal to non-violence. It is not difficult to believe that these advocates of non-violence regularly end up betraying their own movements, because, in the end they also believe those too sinful or morally impure to seek a holy and harmonious estate of union with right living deserve the sordid fate of a dirty, quotidian world of starvation, venality and agony - one which is ruled by the violent, as a punishment for violence.  Following this logic of holiness to its verbal limits, those impure enough to resist with passion, to strike back, or to seek temporary and tactical advantage deserve to be written off for their surrender to contingency. It is a meted fate, and a merited one.

When the man who wields the baton, and the one who orders him to swing it, eventually get around to putting an end to unrest, the elect, identifiable by the sweaty stink of holy non-violence about their persons, will make their usual mewling sounds. They might even shed tears whilst they cluck their tongues at the dirty youths who brought violence upon themselves by falling from the grace of a perfect peacefulness.

They will safeguard their souls, and their good brand, leaving the dirty and impure work of actually resisting the powerful to people upon whom they heap their worst scorn. After claiming an inherently propertarian and capitalist title to the high ground, to the arbitration of right conduct, and to the soul and the purity of a movement, they will betray it to preserve their own salvation and the imagined redemptive qualities of their presence. They believe, these lesser prophets of a holy man's non-violence, that their bodies sacralize the shared space of resistance. Their mission is apostolic.

They make it holy. And that makes them one more iteration of the bourgeois, "middle class" interloper descending upon the victims of capital with a new set of tablets of the law, seeking not retribution and recompense, but converts to their faith. Armed with that faith, they believe that institutional violence can be undone with magic. They believe in presence, that the presence of saints in the chambers of power will redeem that power. When it comes to an accounting, they don't want to strike at power. They don't want to injure the beast. They want to capture it. They want to redeem it. They want to hold it in their sacred embrace, and to affirm their faith by restoring it to good and sainted purpose. They want affirmation, they want others to have mirrors for faces.


The great thing about mirrors is that when you break them, you get dozens of cutting edges.

Nov 9, 2011

Feast Day

Was going to write another one of those serious posts. Will later. Let my inner discordian out, instead. Because I just finished reading another screechy foray into lightworker heroism.

Fucking heroes.

Does anyone, anywhere, anywhen actually enjoy the company of a fucking hero? (And by "anyone," I don't mean the rest of yon lightworking, do-gooding, democratizing tetchers busy grumbling about the kids on the lawn.) Fucking reflected glory all getting in your eyes. Who needs that shit?


I'd like to introduce you to a not-hero of mine. Today is his feast day, though you probably didn't know it until right now. Today, the ninth of November, we commemorate - nay, we celebrate - the memory of an accidental friend of human liberty.

He was not, in keeping with the theme of things, a good man. But you can't trust good men. They're always trying to fix people. And, their loathing for dark corners, cobwebs, dust bunnies and frailty is frightening, when you really get down to it. Scratch away at the chrome what coats a good man's life, and underneath you'll almost always discover a violator.

Not the window breaking teenager who scares good capitalists pretending to be radicals because she rejects their greedy ownership of consensus. I mean, the maximalist kind. The totalizers. The fuckers with systems, a list of proscriptions, a book of prescriptions, and a sippy cup of moraline always in grasping, clutching hand.

A good man is always a rapist in the waiting. He wants penetrating insights. He wants you to have 'em as well. He wants to penetrate your life and fill you up with the holy semen of his enlightenment. He wants to spear you with the truth. He wants to lance the very flesh of history with his righteousness.

No. You can't really trust good men, can you? Especially the ones with who come with tablets of the law and other systems.


Today is not the feast day of a good man. He was better than that, though we should be clear that he was not an improvement.

Today, we commemorate a friend of the despised, the trod upon and the forgotten. It's just too bad that there weren't more of him. One of them might have got to Johnson, as well. Or Kissinger. It's all good. We don't have to be choosy. We can indulge ourselves with an expansive amenability.

It's a feast day, don't you know?

And since this is not a day dedicated to one of the thousand and one faces of sky-god, cattle king, serpent* killing Dyeus Piter - lord of the holy rape and the lightning penetration - you can do whatever you want. Whatever. As in, anything. Your level worst, if you've got it in you. I recommend the strategic placement of aerosol dispersing canisters of sheep urine in your local financial district, timed to produce maximum mist during the lunch hour. Or, lacking that concentration of brokers and bankers, there's always the option of redecorating an executive's prized automobile with a mixture of bovine placental ejecta and gumdrops. There are so many possibilities, we're dealing with chaos here.

It's up to you.

If you can spare a moment, maybe during a sales projections meeting, or when the drive through car line is at it's noontime longest, or at the exact moment your boss is about to ask you to stay on after your scheduled shift ends, or whilst being lectured on productivity goals, or as your human resources rep is about to have you sign off on the latest revised conduct policy, remember to say, in whatever tone, and with whatever volume suits you and the moment best, "Thank Oswald!"

Because, really, thank Oswald. A truer friend of the dispossessed than a hundred hundred workers in light...

* - woman, natch

Nov 6, 2011

Gate, Kept

It's healthy, I think, to resist the urge to prescribe for the various "Occupy" groups a formal or universal method in dealing with their circumstances, especially when done from a distance, or remove.

It is perhaps as vital to avoid treating the various Occupations as if they were related expressions of a coherent, organized, national movement.

In Oakland, the people associated with the "Occupy" name have coordinated with local longshoremen to call for and attempt to organize strikes, port shutdowns, obstructions of shipping and work stoppages. Others in the Oakland group have helped a homeless assistance organization in occupying vacant tenements, as well as come to the aid of a local homeless squat which was under police assault.

In New York, where it all started, but where there is also an extraordinary concentration of wealth, media influence and attention, they have drumming circles and visits from famous people alongside efforts to hold Zuccotti park, resist pressure from the city and police, and avoid co-option.

Occupy is, significantly, an urban phenomenon, and its various groups respond differently to their local circumstances, and to constraints of official austerity and economic contraction. In New York, where the national news organizations are headquartered, Occupy Wall Street's participants' methods reflect both the scrutiny of that media, and the response to its ubiquity. New York City is a metropolis in the camera's eye. And for all that is the center of the media and banking universe, the original Occupy group's main function is largely to symbolize a refusal to adhere to the financial order which has impoverished not only North America, but the world. New York's Occupiers are reduced, if you will, to making their case to hostile cameras, and the cold concrete and steel curtain of Manhattan's financial district. Tucked in an obscure park, largely unknown to the world until early autumn of 2011, Occupy Wall Street's basic mode of resistance is persistence.

Any plan to organize for or attempt sabotage, violent resistance or spontaneous strikes, there at the beating poisoned heart of the world's financial leviathan, would condemn the New York Occupiers to summary judgment, and along with them, most of the others around the country associated in name. It would, from a tactical perspective, give New York City's police and government, the State of New York and the Obama Justice Department the pretext for treating with Occupy as if it were the New Black Panthers.

But, these same conditions do not automatically obtain for the Occupants in Oakland, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago or the smaller cities which have manifested visible resistance to austerity, financial abuses and state policy. And they certainly do not apply to those regions where Occupy groups can not take hold, especially in small communities and rural environments dominated by strong county and municipal structures, lower population concentration and police who are generally unsullied by the taint of abuse common to larger urban police forces.

There are, for example, only about three hundred police officers in my own home city of Manchester, NH. But they have a more effective control of the local population (about 100k) than the many thousands of police in New York City have over the five boroughs. There are no unions to speak of in Manchester (one of the largest having been effectively broken by Verizon early in the last decade), and the small growing immigrant community is without any heft of note. The city is business friendly, NH is a "right to work" state, and law enforcement enjoys respect, traditional welcome and even acclaim.  The few ongoing attempts to "Occupy Manchester" have met with ridicule, scorn and a large and immediate police presence. Few people have the leisure or spare change to engage in any Occupy efforts, and those with the time and money (especially in the surrounding and far more affluent bedroom communities of Bedford, Hooksett, Amherst, New Boston, Goffstown, Londonderry, Derry and Litchfield) more often than not identify with NH's flavor of bourgeois libertarianism, or a stricter party adherence to the business and banking favorable GOP.

Occupy is a metropolitan reaction to urban conditions, and to the media and corporate environments which provide metropoles with culture, identity, wealth and cohesion.

It will not take root, in this form, in those social and material environments which lack the clustering of wealth, power, mediation and leisure common to cities.

That doesn't mean the Occupy name, or its general message of dissatisfaction with banks and state policy, is lost on those who live in smaller or rural polities.

As a heading, as a means of expressing discontent, as a way of relating individual resistances to a larger, visible and communicable trend, Occupy is perhaps the most noteworthy and compelling development in conscious and unconscious anti-capitalism since the 1960s. People identify with Occupy.

And while it's not a coordinated and deliberately anti-capitalist movement, Occupy is versatile enough to encompass the direct action, labor and housing oriented agitation in Oakland and the original and perhaps less coherent or results oriented Occupy Wall Street. And we should do well to remember that it has spread to other countries, including but not limited to England, New Zealand and Australia.

Which is why there have been repeated efforts to bundle up the fervor, discontent and unrest associated with the various manifestations of Occupy and channel it toward electoral politics or reformism. This might also explain the efforts of conservative gatekeepers, notably Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh, to regale their listening audience of dissatisfied working conservatives with stories of perversion, filth, venality, criminality and the specter of Bolshevism, all conveniently associated with not only the Occupy groups, but with Barack Obama as their class warrior figurehead.

As importantly, Occupy's broad appeal has motivated powerful liberals to attempt to constrict its scope as part of their broader bid to hijack the label towards Democratic Party "optics," "framing" and ends.

Chief among these turnpike guards are Michael Moore - a famous and fabulously wealthy 1%er himself, but one prone to use the word "we" to describe OWS - and Rachel Maddow, as best illustrated by the following exchange (reported lovingly and approvingly by Crooks and Liars):
MADDOW: Aside from the common issues, the common complaints that you are describing, that our systems ought to work for somebody other than just the richest Americans; both our political system and our economic system. Aside from that issue, it seems like there are some tactical things that are in common here, even if there isn't a big top down organizing movement. There's people using, the people's microphone when they have a large crowd.
There's people doing... making decisions and meeting by general assembly, which is a basically consensus based discussion where everybody gets together and comes to a decision that everybody can live with. I wonder if you're seeing that, a) if you're seeing those tactics everywhere and b) if there are splits emerging?
I mean as you know in Oakland yesterday there was a very successful general strike, a very successful all day long basically peaceful until after midnight when there was basically rioting and the Occupy Oakland people essentially disavowing the people who were rioting. Are you seeing difficult discussions about non-violence and about potential splits and differences and tactics?
MOORE: Well, yes and no. Everyone I've spoken to is committed 100 percent to non-violence, that this is the only way that this is going to work. In fact we don't need violence because we're not in the minority here. This is the majority. This is a majority movement. If this country is of, by and for the people if it's to run by the will of the majority, there's no need for violence, because the majority have already said, “We're sick and tired of this and we expect some changes.”
I think in Oakland there's a very specific, in terms of the violence there, Oakland has a long history of police abuse, of how the black community has been treated... they just have one of the worst... I mean, literally, it's almost in the DNA of how Oakland is structured in their City Hall and their police and it doesn't seem to matter who the mayor is, they just can't deal with its basic problems. I think that has a lot to do with it.
But you're also going to have groups who come in wanting to co-opt this movement, whether it's slick politicians that want the endorsement of what they think is a liberal “tea party”, or anarchists or others who don't like the non-violence approach and want some form or violence. But my experience, and I've been around since the anti-Vietnam War days, is that generally... and I told the crowd this over at Denver here just an hour ago... if you see someone trying to incite violence, start with the assumption that that person is an undercover Homeland Security or cop or whatever, because this is the history of America where those in charge have tried to ignite people, incite them to commit acts of violence; and I tell them, don't be incited. Just assume right away that person is not part of the Occupied movement if that's what they're calling on people to do.
(emphasis original)

What Moore is doing is neither particularly clever, nor original. It is in fact the bluntness of his appeal to pacifism, reform, and toothlessness which deserves our attention. He is admirably assisted by Maddow in this effort, as she frames her question as an either/or which can only allow for one acceptable response. For Maddow, those who have attempted actions which are not wholly symbolic have "split" away from the right and true message. It should not surprise us that Moore sticks to the script, obliging her in his reply by characterizing violence, active resistance, direct action and deeds which are not wholly symbolic as untrustworthy examples of police provocation.* Moore doesn't just assert this, he states it plainly: any act which is not "non-violent" has been undertaken by the police to embarrass the real Occupy Wall Street, which conveniently mirrors the meliorism of rich, comfortable men like Moore. Moore, who's as slick a political operator as Bill Clinton, warns Maddow and her listeners against the twin bete noirs of the modern liberal, anarchists and slick politicians.

Yes, that Michael Moore. The one who campaigned for warmongering Wesley Clark and the Lord of Sky Death Robots himself, Barack Obama. The man who is still in Obama's camp. A cheer leader for Obama and the Democrats. Michael Moore, the guy who wants to co-opt the Occupy message towards regulatory tinkering ("some change"), electoralism and ultimately the same captive institutional liberalism which has already been bought up, lock stock and barrel, by the bankers and capitalists Moore purports to oppose only as long as he's making movies which have earned him millions of dollars in capital and a capitalist's lifestyle.

Moore declares that violence itself violates the so-called will of the majority, a will he asserts but conveniently fails to demonstrate. This is to be expected from a social-compacter. He treats with riots as events which must be disavowed, and he waggles his finger at the very notion that those who are not toothlessly pacific could ever represent a valid approach to the depredations of the powerful. For Moore, Maddow and other progressive gatekeepers, the majority exist to give their consent to the social contract. For liberals like Moore, "the people" and "the majority" serve a sacramental function. They give their holy, collective blessing to the state of society. When the rich and powerful become "corrupted," the people exist to signal to their leaders that a period of renewal and purification should be observed until the body politic has been restored to its true and blessed estate, reforms have been discussed and occasionally implemented, and a sacred balance has been struck between the consent vesting majority and those who have been given the holy duty of leading and shepherding them.

That is why, for liberals like Moore and Maddow (and especially those who serve as gatekeepers), the only appropriate action for the people, the only unfolding of events to which they ascribe any merit, is that which is symbolic. For Moore, standing at the gate with his hand on the handle, violence threatens that sacramental relationship between shepherd and sheep.

Violence on its own right is neither moral nor immoral, just or unjust. Nor is every instance of violence identical to every other. Violence is not fungible. It is not always aggression. It's not even always clearly defined as such.

When a man strikes a woman across the face, he's done violence to her. When she stabs him in the chest, she has returned violence. When a parent refuses to feed a child - even if he never strikes her - he has done violence to her. When she breaks a window to escape, she has responded with violence.

It serves our earthly rulers to differentiate between "violence," which they criminalize, and all the other acts of violence which are their ordinary methods of accumulating wealth and power, and enforcing it. That they call these violent deeds by such names as policing, policy, law enforcement, education, politics, business practice, rent, insurance or treatment is no small matter.  It serves their purposes to have us believe that our violence is criminal, but theirs is the natural and inexorable order of the world.

And it serves the purposes of a man like Michael Moore to internalize that ruling class false dichotomy and demand that those who are discontented with the system abide by its rules and jurisdictions as well. Because, frankly, Michael Moore is the ruling class, as much so as Barack Obama or Georgie Boy Bush.

So much so, perhaps, that when you hear a man tell you that active resistance, sabotage, rioting, violence and actions which break with the sacramental canon of empty gestures and impotent symbolism are inherently wrong, you can assume he's working the gate and he isn't looking to let you get free.

h/t Red Queen (for the inspiration)

h/t Singularity ("a valid assumption")

h/t American Leftist (for the squat info)

* - as the history of COINTELPRO and the police infiltration of the SDS, the Black Panthers and more recently the Seattle Anti-WTO groups can attest, the police obviously do provoke. That alone is no reason to immediately eschew violence. Violence is not always tactically applicable. But, as the span of history's record reveals, the ruling class doesn't give ground unless frightened. They should therefore never, ever have a moment's respite. Unless it's to lull them into false confidence and passivity...



5 - 1000+ people
1 shared space or project
Competing needs and desires
$500, 000 (or more)

Mix together in a privately owned park. Heat at ambient temperature. Plate cold.

Serves six.


Once a group begins to define its actions by the limited resource of consensus money, once currency recreates the conditions of scarcity in the distribution of those resources, you also get scarcity in the redistribution of influence and social relations. Scarcity makes power. The people with the power to distribute the money, the resources, the satisfaction of needs, the security - they band together. And then they use some of the take to protect their ability to control it. The replication, again and again, of the stable form of power.

Introduce money* (which is formalized scarcity), get a hierarchy.

Want a human community in resistance to end up looking like the society or group it opposes?

Send 'em money.

* - credit is money, see Graeber ("What is debt?") in links to the right

Nov 5, 2011


You want a revolution to succeed, over the long term? Or to at least have a fighting chance?

Worry less about "voluntarism" or the proper moral context for sabotage, obstruction and strikes. Care not one wit about what actions will or will not anger the police, unless and only as a matter of tactics. Eschew the philosophy of the right historical moment. Abandon any hope of salvaging academia, or the liberal vanguard.

Get a hold of food. Good, healthy food. And learn how to store it, to move it, to get it to hungry people.

Strikes, sabotage, obstruction matter. Tactics matter. Surveying the landscape - economic and actual - matters. But it's all shit if you ain't got food you can count on.

And right now, the rest of us don't have any that's ours, that we can really count on. Do we?

Nov 3, 2011


[If you don't want to read about the evil that men do to women, please stop reading.]

Close to thirteen years ago, I took a transfer from one retail location to another. The transfer was itself a promotion, and for the first time in several years, I was back to managing an operation for people who were considerably higher on the food chain than my own self.

After wearing myself ragged in a prolonged custody dispute the effects of which can still be felt today, I was in debt to the tune of two hundred dollars an hour to my esteemed attorney. Don't get me wrong, she was, using currency as a replacement value, worth every penny, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar, fin, sawbuck and franklin spent on her. She wasn't the first feminist I'd ever met, but she was the first one who was neither twenty, nor affiliated with a university. She was also the first lawyer with whom I spoke who was willing and able to conduct the case without drawing my ex's sexual character into question. Let's just say, the dudes wanted to make a mash of her sex. My attorney, who'd spent most of her life prior to getting her permission to practice law doing juvenile intervention as a JSO case officer, wanted us to stay out of court except to present the judge with a done deal. So, we went for a stipulated agreement, shared custody, with a presentation on my part to pay child support directly to my ex- for every week in which she had physical custody. I also agreed to provide insurance, and we hashed out religious, extended familial, educational and medical agreements.

It looked like we're about to put to rest a year of animosity, bad blood, flights from the area, improper custodial departure and the residue of a horrendous break up, in which no parties were without fault; a conflict which made none of us the better, nor the wiser.

Then my ex- did something very stupid in a very public way on a very busy street and found herself a guest of the authorities. And I was, by order of the judge, now a full custodial parent. My ex-, and rightfully, tried to fight the judge's order. The judge didn't budge, so we came back with another stipulated agreement which recognized the custodial order, but which still provided my ex- with a three and half consecutive days of every week visitation, and equal say in medical, moral, religious and educational decisions. It recognized the prior agreement in all but letter, but which now established me as the parent with physical custody in accord with the judge's intent.

All of which cost me the pretty pennies, nickels, dimes, et cetera, mentioned above. I needed more money, so I took the training, the promotion, and three months later, the new location.

What I inherited with the bump in pay, and (finally!) full medical, were two ladies in their seventies, a drunk, a boyfriend and a girlfriend team, and a satanist. The drunk kept it off hours, the satanist was a fantastic third shifter, and the ladies rocked; both of them stayed with me for years, one later eventually (after much overcoming of her objections) agreeing to become the AM, and eventually assume management of her own location.

The couple, though...

The couple provided me with my first abject failure as a "manager." And I blew it. I mean, it's still legendary. Years later, at a sexual harassment and conflict management seminar provided in house, I got to hear the story again, this time told as teaching example. I was being used to teach new recruits, "anonymously" of course.

When I took over the location, the couple - let's call them Ned and Karen - worked all the same hours together. They had exactly identical shifts. I thought it inconvenient, but being a stupid man, this set off none of the red flags it would have in perhaps 95% of the women who find themselves in similar positions.

Like I said, it was just inconvenient. So after a few weeks, I rewrote the schedule. They had a few shifts together, but I also gave them different hours. And Sundays off, for church.

Karen pleaded with me to put it back the way it was before. Pleaded. I, again being a truly stupid man, mistook her desperation for something else. Selfishness. Young love. Immaturity. I explained, in what I'm now sure was a condescending tone, but which at the time seemed like good paternal concern, that the schedule wasn't written just for her benefit.

Again, stupidity was strong in the younger Jack.

She broke down, physically, visibly, emotionally. I think about it now as I type, and I recall it like she folded in upon herself, making of her skin a mobius strip. Her presence seemed to shrink, to recede.

I tell you now, I had no clue what I'd done. Objectively, I'd made the schedule fairer. Realistically, I had put Karen's life in real and immediate danger.

Because Ned was, to put it bluntly, always on the verge of killing Karen. And Karen's method of staying out of the way of Ned's fists, and the other things he did with his large body when he was angry - vile, terrible things - was to always, always be with Ned. To keep him soothed, negated, placated and sexually satisfied. Karen was also pregnant, a fact she'd discovered to her horror and her bewildered joy not long before young, idiot Jack became her boss and the man who placed her closer to death than anyone but big man Ned.

Ned did not handle the scheduling change with anything approaching grace, aplomb or good will. He threatened me. He literally puffed out his chest, and tried to back me into a corner. I - altogether now, because young Jack Was A Very Stupid Man - did not make the connection between Ned's willingness to loom over and threaten me with Karen's desperation.

I thought Ned was just being a dick for not getting to work all the same shifts with his girlfriend.

I thought wrong. You see, I was the same guy who thought that he was being noble and just for not letting a lawyer say bad things about his ex's sexual peccadilloes. I thought I was a good man. I mean I had my flaws. I could yell and fume, when it suited me. I was known to stand up to the provocation of bullies with my own escalation. I'd been in my share of scraps. I'd stolen, burgled and dealt. I'd done bad things, but I'd always had a reason. That reason is important, you know. It gets you through the night. And often enough, it really is legitimate.

But I was a good guy. You know, like give me a medal, man, for never being a raping raper. Or for not caring about who gave whom else what orgasm.

Anyway, I'm sure 99% of all women could have predicted what came next. As I could barely see the problem before me, I was ill equipped to envision what was about to happen.

Ned turned Karen into his fist receptacle. Ned was sure Karen was fucking...me. Ned was sure Karen was fucking the Satanist. Ned was sure Karen was giving blow jobs to every male customer. Ned was sure about a lot of things. Ned was scary when he was certain.

But, I didn't know this yet.

Karen and Ned didn't come to work for a couple of days. Which was very inconvenient for me. Because I ended up working their shifts. On the second day, I called them more than once to remind them. On the third I threatened their jobs. On the fourth, Ned came to work. But, not Karen.

I was happy to have a day off.

I don't know if Karen was still happy to be alive. I've been on the receiving end of beatings, and I couldn't tell you with any honesty that I was happy they were finished. Or that I was relieved. Or possessed of any other emotion requiring the release of serotonin or endorphins.

I'm not going to tell you that I can imagine what Karen felt. I can't. I don't. I won't. I left home to stop the abuse. Karen had no where to go. Her parents weren't going to let "that whore" back in their home. But that comes later.

Karen did return to work. Because she needed the money. Because she could walk from her apartment to our location. Because Ned wanted it that way.

Karen did something brave. And courageous. And bold. She told me what Ned had done to her. She told me that Ned had done worse. She begged me to put the schedule back the way it was. I - do we really need another reminder of my stupidity? - asked her if she wanted to call the cops. If she wanted to go to a shelter. Remember, I was the good guy in my own head. Which made me even more stupid.

Because I didn't hear her. I didn't listen. I was already doing the dudely, and offering to rescue her. I was, because I'm an idiot, or at least was once the signature example of one, inviting her to take a way out I had no ability to actually deliver. I was saying, "hey, you've got options" in my own head. But I was telling her, "hey, you can count on me to be there when you really need it."

It was an implied promise I could not keep.

And I did not keep it, because the next time Ned and Karen were together at work, he backed her up against the wall, in a fit of complete self-absorption and rage. He did it right there, in front of a co-worker (one of the old ladies). She was actually brave enough to put her body between Ned and Karen, and talk him out of the store. Then she made the mistake of calling me. She had no choice but to tell the boss man, but it was still a mistake.

Because I fired Ned. I called him at their apartment and I told him never to come back. I told him that we (yes, the royal fucking we) would call the police if he ever showed up at work again, or if he ever touched Karen in any way in the future.

I heard myself saying, "Fucker, stop it, already."

He heard me saying, "Neener, neener, neener, I'm fucking your girlfriend."

Karen heard the coffin seal tight around her.

While I was filing the paperwork for Ned's termination, and while Karen was still trembling in the older lady's arms, Ned was destroying their apartment, and almost everything Karen owned. Ned also called her parents and told them that Karen was pregnant, he wasn't sure it was his at all, and that she planned to get an abortion. Sealing shut her only way home. Because Ned was good at being the good Christian, when Karen's parents were around. Ned never missed church. Ned, I would learn later, prayed for hours to save Karen from her sinfulness.

So now, because I didn't fucking know how to listen, or observe, or understand what it means to be an abused woman, or any of the damned signs most women can recognize as if by instinct, Karen had no place to go, almost no money with which to go, Ned's handprints on her body, and his baby in her belly. Her parents wanted her to apologize to Ned and make it up to him, to atone for her sinfulness. And to keep her whore body away from the only other place she might go.

I had committed her. I had, by being an average male fool, set her upon a course which was certain to endanger her, and which promised to expose her to the killing result of Ned's unrestrained and jealous rage.

So Karen married Ned. She married him.

And I gave her the weekend off for their "honeymoon." Then Ned filed with the company to get his job back, for wrongful termination. And Karen backed up his story. So we took him back on, and transferred him one store over. Karen put in for the transfer to go with him.

I wish I could tell you that Karen was able to "fix" what I had made so demonstrably worse. Within six months, they'd both gotten themselves fired, the baby was born shortly thereafter, and Ned figured that his girl being a "stupid whore" was reason enough to bugger off and get himself a newer model. Leaving her with a baby, no job and no where to go.

A year or so later, I ran into her cashiering at a local health food store. She looked better. We made polite conversation. She told me about Ned leaving.

I didn't know what to say. I'd been to a few really good sexual harassment seminars, as a matter of corporate penance. (Later, they'd put me charge of teaching them. No. I'm not kidding.) I was still worth the investment, and besides, I was going to be a teaching moment for years to come. Yes, the corporation rolled that episode into its sexual harassment presentations. Not workplace violence. Not sexual assault. Not hostile working environments. Sexual harassment and conflict management. It would be a few more years before they draft working papers for workplace violence education. And a few more before they settled a pattern of conduct lawsuit.

But I still didn't know what to say to Karen. I had a bit more a clue, and I tried to apologize. To her credit, she didn't accept it. I told her about a friend who was hiring, probably for more money than the health food store was paying her. She was smart enough not to make my guilt her problem.

"You didn't listen," she said. And I didn't. I didn't fucking listen. I didn't pay attention.

And I didn't the pay the piper for my failure.

She did.

And that's not the exception, is it?

It's the rule.

It's not going to get better because we men do anything about it. It's not going to get better for women just because some of us figure out how to listen.

It's not going to get better because of us, because of anything we do. We fucked it up. We're still fucking it up.

Listening is what we have to do, just because.

Because we owe.

And we don't get to set terms to how and when we do it.

We just need to listen.