"...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

Apr 29, 2011

Misericorde, Revisited

I walked home from an early season run, today. My ankles swelled up. My eyes blurred, capitulating to an urgent need to lose their focus. My knees showed their decades - and recent winter weight - of hauling around a worthless donkey carcass pretending at humanity.

I didn't make it as far as I'd intended. I made it further than I expected. So the walk back took a while.

I had a difficult time seeing. I mean, the senses duly reported, and distorted - but none of it registered on its own terms. I kept overlaying the political. Apartment buildings transformed into oppressions. Road signs as warnings. Roadways as caustic reminders. The riverside as border.

I couldn't see. I could only evaluate.


My pain and age didn't get in the way of seeing.

An unanticipated immersion in a self-important moral universe did.

A calculus of all-or-nothings, of dull and lifeless economism, of gender and race and ethnicity all threatening my integral experience of the sensible world with their insistent bodiless bellicosity. I tire of complaint, of self-pity and the mockery of vitality that is modern radicalism. For fuck's sake, them as rule don't listen to whiners. Scare them, already...

Four blocks from home, I reached a moment of clarity - and absurdity. My views and beliefs did not drop away. I still have them in my head, knocking away at door which no longer opens.

I just unexpectedly lost my burdensome concern for strangers.

We have choices. We make them, and they will never approach perfection.

 I do not choose the salvation of strangers. I can't do it.

I want instead to tongue my wife's bunny hole until she forgets her name and I remember that I have never really had one. Go hiking with my kids. Drop a line in the ocean with a friend and help him bring in dinner. Run up Mount Washington. Get lost in the Allagash. Drink moonshine with lost cousins in Kentucky. Send my cousin's son to film school. Punch motherfuckers who irk me. Raise money for foreign orgies. Start a godless religion for tricksters. Steal all the copies of the Fountainhead from the local outlet of a national chain and use them as kindling for a bonfire - to burn copies of the Torah, the Qu'ran and the New Testament. Run skinheads and hasidic wifebeaters over with my car. Or at least have them think I will. Get drunk in public. And stay that way for weeks. Convince half the PD to quit with offers to guard gambling houses at three times their municipal salaries. Convince the other half to quit with all expense paid trips to islands which don't exist.

I don't want to save anyone else.

I fucking reject all salvation.

I think it's just best to take the opportunities which present themselves and leave systems, economic hoodoo and revolutions to the assholes who always end up ruling over them, betraying them, and in the end (yes, Owen Paine, you witless boring nitwit) turning them into the next last thing.

If I have fight in me, I'll fight. If I prefer to lurk and sneak, I'll do that. If I want to fuck my way to the darkness, more love to me - and you. I'd rather steal, corrupt, bribe, offend, disobey and defame where I can get away with it, and pass unnoticed whenever possible.

I want to run when I ought to and never again look down on a good stabbing in the back. Some people will never deserve good faith, and I'd betray my meager humanity to give it them.


For idiots.

The future belongs to people comfortable with ruins...

Apr 21, 2011


Apr 19, 2011

Because They Are

Mister Smith comes close to the legendary third rail, today. He approaches, but inevitably begs off, content in the end to hint his allegations. Can't blame him, though he has taken it further before. He lacks the fictional pedigree to make the challenge without someone policing his right to exist. I have that fictional pedigree, and I say fuck it, I don't care.

One wonders why so few people are willing to approach it. Wonders, but we know the answer. Hitler has many legacies. That raving shitty fuck.

So, the question so few people have the bad manners to ask in a public way, because it is an ill mannered question, is:

Is it because they're Jews?

In my experience, few liberals or good civilizationists would avoid a public inquiry, or a treatment of the question, if it were asked of or about Sikhs, or Christians, or Muslims, or Tibetan Buddhists. Because, generally, we draw conclusions about people upon the basis of the shit they say and believe about the world, and from the choices they make armed with those beliefs.

When some fundie Christer shoots up an abortion clinic, a simple conclusion follows. He believed that his angry Jesus wanted him to do it and he had the twisted courage of his convictions. He put it out there. When ten or a hundred or a ten hundred thousand fundie Christers form up organizations to transfer loot to fag burning African despots, or to put Mike Huckabee close to the nuclear trigger, or to criminalize the possession of a uterus, they do it because they're Christians. Their reasons are Christian. They want Christian outcomes.

So why doesn't it follow that when ten thousand or six million (or whatever) people give a portion of each week's take to ensuring that a colonial garrison state can run open air prisons and bomb little children into phosphor tainted dust, they do it, in whole or part, because they're Jews

That they do it because - in one of the more casuistic parlor trick tautologies - they believe that they are who they are because a piece of land exists, and being who they are, are entitled to that land and any measures necessary to secure it, in perpetuity?

That they do it because they believe they are a Chosen and Singled Out people entitled to rule the earth and to proscribe laws for the unbelievers in a coming Golden Age which shall see the planet placed in permanent receivership to their cult of racially exclusive superiority*?

That they do it - even if they no longer worship one of the more cartoonishly evil mountain top demons to haunt the human nous - because they actually believe they have the moral sanction to do so, as conferred by membership in their own particular cult of received authority?

Say it. It's liberating. The Israelis murder and butcher and occupy because they believe they are entitled to that piece of land, that it is theirs for the taking no matter who else has lived there. Coreligionists the world over send them money and secure them martial and political support in the capitols of European and American military powers because they really do believe that they are a chosen people who have a right to a piece of land delineated by the Roman Empire and administered as a way station to Parthia and Egypt.

They do it because they're Jews.

* Admirably dissected by Shlomo Sand.

Note to antisemites and equally mealy minded white racialists, you too can fuck off and die. You have the same poison in your veins, and you lack the mitigating circumstances of living under oppressive Christendom for the better part of two millennia. I'm not making a "Jews are bad" case. I'm making a "Jewish belief explains Jewish actions" case. Those beliefs need to be addressed, because they explain proximate causes.

Apr 15, 2011


Republicans: Government is too big! For shame! Do not give money to the old, to the poor, to women who have abortions! Do not give it to irresponsible black people. We. Must. Save. America. From. The. Shifty. Grifters! Hard work! The rich create life for everyone else! Jesus! Jesus!

Democrats: Now, now, Reppy - that's not quite fair. The elderly and the melanin rich are reliable constituencies, and we really need to make sure that we sell their abandonment to them responsibly. Times are tough, and as long as we're willing to share some sacrifice with them, theoretically of course, we can keep on pretending that the whole business of running a federal government isn't and hasn't from day one been a pyramid scheme to enrich ourselves. You are just too crass, Reppy. You need to work on your optics. Okay, okay - don't work on them. You're perfect just the way you are. We look so civilized and reasonable when you're throwing Christer tantrums about abortion and Teh Gays.  But we want the same things, don't we? So please, maybe a little less about black people. They can be touchy.

War profiteers: You guys aren't gonna mess with the war budget, right?

Republicans and Democrats, together: Of course not, silly. And don't worry about the people making a stink. We've got them hating each other over artificial division so much that each of them has a college department these days.

War profiteers: Phew. With all this talk of shared sacrifice and fiscal responsibility, y'know, you had us worried for a moment.

Bankers: Heads up, guys. We made a whole lot of loot off of that two year manufactured crisis. Some of the peasants seem to be catching on. Could we get some action in Venezuela, or something?

Democrats: Christ, dudes, you know the schedule. That has to wait until a Republican gets elected. Make a flashy commercial about Hamilton and citizenship or something. Go sponsor a greenwash, man.

Republicans: Why the fuck didn't Bog make a remote control for the uterus?!

Apr 14, 2011

Abortion Post

In a report which swoons very little, and is far more serious than its usual fashion liberal fare:

"...This is a big jump, and it says that anti-abortion legislators want to be very active on this issue and they have some momentum,' Elizabeth Nash, a public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, told HuffPost. 'They used to chip away at Roe v. Wade, and now they're hacking away at it with a cleaver.'

More than 120 bills limiting abortion rights have been approved by at least one chamber of the legislature so far, and the 15 bills that enacted into law include a bill in Utah that limits abortion coverage in all private health plans and laws in Utah and Virginia that require their health departments to develop new regulations governing abortion clinics.

Some states are making it exponentially more difficult, both financially and psychologically, for a woman to have an abortion. In South Dakota, a woman now has to wait at least 72 hours after seeking an abortion to have the actual procedure and is legally required to obtain counseling from a 'crisis pregnancy center' -- which are unregulated by the state and have the explicit goal of talking women out of abortions -- before having the procedure.

South Dakota has also mandated that the physician performing the abortion counsel the patient in person about the health risk factors relating to abortion prior to her 72-hour waiting period. This limitation, in a rural state like South Dakota with very few abortion providers, can put an unnecessary burden on low-income women trying to balance work and childcare.

'In South Dakota, there's one provider and he flies in once a week, so in practice what would happen is that a woman would go on a Saturday or a Friday, get the counseling, and then have to wait at least a week for the provider to come back,' said Nash. 'They're saying the three day waiting period is no big deal, but it is, particularly for women who aren't well off and can't take off work and have to deal with childcare. A lot of burdens are placed on a woman when she has to make these two trips.'

In addition to imposing pre-abortion waiting periods, legislators in 13 states have introduced laws forcing women to obtain an ultrasound procedure before having an abortion. Bills in seven of those states -- Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas -- would require the woman view the fetus and hear a detailed verbal description of it before undergoing the mandatory waiting period.

'This bill just allows them to see the child inside of them, so it's not just out of sight, out of mind,' said Alabama State Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Albertville). 'It's critical in their decision-making process.'

Conservatives are also trying to impose gestational limits on abortions at an unprecedented rate, according to the Guttmacher report. Legislators in 17 states have introduced 35 measures patterned on a 2010 Nebraska law that bans abortion at 20 weeks, based on the presumption that a fetus feels pain at that point. Two of those measures would ban abortions beginning at 18 weeks..."

As this process accelerates, and as more and more legislatures are captured by zealots masquerading as small or responsible government activists, it will be just, moral and right to provide cheap, reliable, safe and secret abortions to any woman who wants one, for whatever reason, and for no other reason than she wants one. Especially if it breaks a law to do so.

These laws can only be enforced on women. Granted, some men who help them might be charged and prosecuted as conspirators or abettors, but the law is written deliberately to create a legal category of punishment and constraint for only one kind of person. For women.

As I wrote a year or so ago:

No woman exists with exact identity to any other woman. Not one. Not every woman possesses a uterus. No woman occupies the exact space, time or personhood of any other. The category "woman," like any other fiction, serves a communicative need, but does not express a [perfectly applicable]* universal condition. But, enough women have a uterus, that the possession of one (if we can really treat any organ as a "possession") approaches the norm.

Not every man exists with exact identity...yadda yadda yadda. Most men get by without a uterus. Enough that any given man not having a uterus approaches the norm.

Women have wombs, men don't. Against some allegedly universal standard (person, human, citizen) women and men fail to measure up as functionally equal (or, identical, level). Women and men have different [generally physical]* genders.

(Caveat: I don't hold any position which follows from gender difference to subservience of one gender to another.)

A person enforcing a law defining how a woman "uses" her uterus cannot apply that force equally to both a man and a woman, cannot treat the law as a universal, because nearly one half of any group of subjects or citizens lacks the organ in question.

Because [this sort of law] applies only to women, [and] can only apply to women.

In applying the law, enforcement erases the presuppositions (any chance, really) of  "equality before the law." Or, in other words, any law requiring women to use their wombs in any manner at all necessarily treats with women as unequal to men, before the law. It isolates women as possessing generative organs in need of regulation, in relation to men who have generative organs which don't require regulation.

Let's repeat: it creates an enforceable inequity. Not the functional non-equality** of variation, such that men and women have physiological differences, discussed above.  A very different sort of inequality. One which sets up women as subjects of enforcement never applied to men.

* - as loosely defined by generative organs. This does not address, and is not intended to address, the feeling, experience of or identification with a gender, as a position on a range of possibilities of sexual and emotional self, nor the social construction of "gender norms."

** - or, less clumsily, non-identity...

Apr 13, 2011


Play 'em at the same time:

Or not.

I like the chaos woven with melody.


Mr. Shetterly has posted an excellent quote, over his way, which reminded me of one of those "Founder"* statements I've always preferred to the more common and celebrated ones:

"The Remissness of our People in Paying Taxes is highly blameable; the Unwillingness to pay them is still more so. I see, in some Resolutions of Town Meetings, a Remonstrance against giving Congress a Power to take, as they call it, the People's Money out of their Pockets, tho' only to pay the Interest and Principal of Debts duly contracted. They seem to mistake the Point. Money, justly due from the People, is their Creditors' Money, and no longer the Money of the People, who, if they withold it, should be compell'd to pay by some Law.

All Property, indeed, except the Savage's temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions, absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it."

* - Franklin was often an ass. I agree with Jay Griffith's interpretation of his impact (alongside the other nad basty, Bacon), but he's as on the money here as was possible for anyone from that era who didn't have the good fortune to be Thomas Paine. I'm not really endorsing Franklin's outlook, or his fondness for the State, but I found it preferable (and exceedingly so) to Teap Arty rhetoric and civics class fantasy tales. Especially paragraph two, which presages George and approaches the generous humanity and scope of the infinitely estimable Thom. Paine his right self.

Torture is Hip With the In Crowd

"A new study by the American Red Cross obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast found that a surprising majority—almost 60 percent—of American teenagers thought things like water-boarding or sleep deprivation are sometimes acceptable. More than half also approved of killing captured enemies in cases where the enemy had killed Americans."

Go figure. Refusing to call torture "torture" results in children growing up believing that it's not.

Who could have predicted that?

I mean, it's not like this has ever happened in any other category, before. C'mon, now. "Date rape" isn't "rape rape," you know...

Anyhows -

Wrote this a while back. Bears some repeating, I guess: The point of seemingly pointless wars, beyond the material benefits which accrue to those who manage them, is a population which normalizes war. As always, I'm ambiguous about the Spartans (the historical ones, not the Hollywood masculine kewpie dolls who never, ever have gay sex or listen to their wives), but they are the occidental historical exemplars, alongside their Roman inheritors. A polity organized towards war produces warriors. A nation which normalizes torture will produce citizens who cannot define it as such, and who have no problem with its use.

It seems too simple to be overlooked, but I guess it is.

What else explains the shocked tones of surprise in the quoted original, above?

It's like the writer has never had access to the histories of the British, Roman or Hun empires, has never read up on Janissaries or Mamluks, studied the martial iterations of the Middle Kingdom, or taken stock of modern Japanese and West African history.

Apr 12, 2011

Level Seven

Japan raises nuclear alert to level seven


Still the tired attempts to explain why it's "not like Chernobyl." Of course it's not. If it were like Chernobyl, it would be in the Ukraine. It would be 1986. Ronald Reagan would be forgetting what he knew about Iran-Contra. New Wave would still have listeners.

But the "not like Chernobyl" narrative is a concealer. It's meant to soothe, to suggest that "at least it's not like Chernobyl."

It's a comparison intended to reduce concern about Fukushima Daiichi's severity. And that makes it suspect.

All You Need to Know About the Civil War

1. Rich white assholes owned black people.

2. Rich merchant shitheads wanted the rich slave owners to produce their goods cheaply for the rich merchants, not for European markets.

3. Rich slave owners wanted the merchant princes to get off their backs, so they could make a whole lot of money off of slaves. Also, they had an institutional system of rape to protect. Rapey rapists, the lot of them.

4. Merchant princes discovered a moral issue in slavery at the same time that landed slave owning gentry discovered their identities in it. Slave owners picked a fight. Over slavery. Slavery, not culture. Fucking slavery. Started a war to protect the institution of owning and raping people. Their descendants, to this day, call that "southern culture." Without any apparent sense of irony. Lady Irony, being who and what she is, gets paid in full.

5. Poor motherfuckers who were drafted up by the merchants and Jesus'd up by the slave owners died by the metric ton. Lots of nationalism. Piety. Total tonnage of wasted human life, unknown. Fucking lots of it. Just lots.

6. Merchants, having better banks and more factories - plus tens of thousands of immigrant conscripts - engaged in modern era's first industrial war, beating slave owners after five years of sending other people's children to die. Later, would pay good loot to have their victorious State hallow all the ground where other people's children died. Sanctimonious bullshit would follow, going on a century and a half.

7. A professor from Maine was about the only ranking officer on either side to come out of the war with any sort of humanity. Helps that he hated it. Helps also that he really believed slavery was wrong. Chamberlain. Look him up.

8. Slaves got an update on the name of their indenture. Indenture continued. Got worse. Got the illusion of freedom, but with worse and worsening conditions. Black folks who had other thoughts about their conditions would discover, over the course of one hundred and fifty years, that whitey is ingenious as a bottled devil, when it comes to figuring out ways to make black people live and labor under penal conditions. Jim Crow. Segregation. Drug war. Militarization of black life.

9. Rich merchants and former slave owners patched up their differences to fund and fight thirty years of Indian Wars, savagely seizing two thirds of a continent in the process. Still fighting "Indian Wars" around the world. See, Philippines, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Yemen and Libya. Merchant princes do not have good memories. At least, not for the evil that they do. Remember that.

10. White folks continue on in the belief that all can be forgiven. Or forgotten. Chickens, somewhere, are preparing to roost...

Today in Unmitigated Douchebaggery

There's a lot to be said about this, and there are better qualified people than I. For mine own part, though, you've got to be a real douche to think it's okay to cane a woman to the evil soundtrack of a jeering crowd of violence-salacious dirtbags.

And you've got to be the biggest douche on the planet to wear a mask* while doing so:

* - But, seriously: if you've already arrived at the place in your world where you can whip a woman unconscious with bamboo or whatever that is, especially because she's having unsanctioned pleasures, why the shame mask? The mask says everything. Literally. It's what speaks, here...

Apr 10, 2011

Apr 9, 2011

Pay no attention to the man behind the...

In case you were operating under the mistaken belief that budget talks were anything but theater:

The ruling class got what it wanted - a state further transformed by the reconfiguration of government to better protect the interests of that class, during a period of flux. This was the whole point of the theater. To pretend that legislative members of the ruling class, many of whom are colleagues and friends (and who rode the same corporate gravy trains to power) were engaged in a showdown with each other over valid and true disagreements.

There were no disagreements of note, unless the dependably expendable self-control of the uterus is to be treated as an actual disagreement, and not just a manufactured scuffle between men who believe in their own right to power, and in the capture of domestic and mostly female labor, and men who believe in their own power as sanctioned by an angrier version of Jesus, and who also still believe that traditionally female labor ought to be performed without recompense.

The violence budget, on the other hand, was never in doubt. 

And that's all you need to know, really. The capacity for armed agents of the government and state to secure their monopoly on legitimized force was not up for debate, curtailment or limitation. Nor was it ever at risk of defunding or elimination. The police and incarceration superstructure was never on the chopping block. Federal aid to state and local governments, for the provision of police, drug interdiction and surveillance purposes, was not in dispute.

The limitation, elimination and reduction of the welfare functions of that government - agreed to by both allegedly adversarial parties, and outlined months ago by the so-called Catfood Commission - was the predictable end result. And where programs were not immediately eliminated, a consistent narrative was incessantly reinforced: austerity is the new norm. Those who do the majority of the labor should not count on the emerging organization of society to distribute the fruit of that labor equitably. This is nothing new, but the various factions and members of the ruling class no longer even care to act otherwise.

The New Deal - always and already a flawed system of half-measures, racial, regional and gender exclusions, and policing norms - is dead.

The ruling class faces a crisis, domestically and in its global mechanisms for exchange and control, such has not been faced since the collapse of the ancien regime following a century of accelerated expansion of European bourgeoisie and Enclosure. 

The single commodity upon which all current power, logistical coordination, transport and communication depends - oil - is approaching its revaluation as a luxury and controlled martial  commodity, at the historical moment when its saturation in the global market, for development and the construction of new energy platforms, is not only expected, but necessary.

At the moment when most of the world's people can witness, and therefore reasonably anticipate the satisfaction of, a standard of living common in Europe and North America, the means of achieving it is being put further out of reach. On the periphery, this is happening with manifest and unconcealed violence and warfare; and in the increasing subsumation of local existence to the needs and practices of transnational corporations.

And for the superfluous populations of the core states, by austerity, law and budgetary chicanery.

If control of this commodity cannot be secured for those who belong to the Western and global ruling class of capitalists (and their functionaries), then its increased production will fuel a rapid expansion in the standards of living for people who will have an expectation of its continuance - an expectation which cannot be met in the medium and long terms.

The oil is running out, and the international elite (whose power rests upon it) is consolidating its military access to it, while also expanding the police powers of the states over which it rules, in order to weather the coming crash of economies, ecosystems and populations.

That's the reason for the theater.  To conceal this process under the guise of fictional factional disputes over balanced budgets, government solvency and fiscal responsibility. 

The profligate state investors in violence have absolutely no honest belief in "fiscal responsibility." They are securing their management of developed states, while funding new means of control, in order to retain their authority and wealth in a period of global crisis.

They are, in short, grabbing as much loot and weaponry as possible, under the sanction of responsible government, in order to deal with us when the reduction in our standards of living goes from a moderate crawl to precipitous decline and crash, and we start to notice it in the faces of our children...

Apr 8, 2011

Clumsy Theater

Clumsy, slovenly theater:

Fucking Huffington Post. It's poorly staged bukkake for the dull and unimaginative. There's no brink here. A bunch of invented personae are arguing over how to distribute imaginary currencies, in order to pretend that they aren't otherwise doing real harm to living persons for their own emolument.

If you think fiddling with budgets and politics is anything but theater, you are an uninspired idiot and you should put your cookware to good use by bashing yourself in the face with it until you go deaf, dumb and blind and your sensory organs finally match, in capacity and usefulness, your organic data processing capabilities.


When ten thousand robin'oods blossom, and a hundred thousand more conspire to hide them, we'll be "on the brink" of something.

Apr 7, 2011


From AOLSwoonington, in a post entitled "Time for the President to Demonstrate the Courage of His* Convictions":

"...This is a pivotal moment in the Obama presidency. He has capitulated on tax policy, closing Guantanamo, and a number of other key issues. He needs to make a stand on the core issues being attacked by the Tea Party in this budget process. The politics here centers around the character of the President, not the specific issues within the budget. He needs to demonstrate the courage of his convictions and his willingness to stand up to the current onslaught. If he takes a determined and consistent stand, he will gain politically and his presidency will grow in stature."

Kindly, these are the Pendragon's convictions, on display every day, for those who care to look:

* - Yep. "His" is capitalized. Heh.

..In Unadulterated Good News

(yah, yah, yah - FOX Boston and the National Enquirer...)


I was once in the same room*, over a few hours, as Gary Bauer, Pat Buchanan, John Ashcroft and Alan Keyes.

This was the day I turned down an invitation to meet with the future President Dubya, in one of those cozy living room meet and greets.  It was the day a reporter friend got a call from Bay Buchanan, apologizing for one of Pat's notorious stickler umbrage takings. He wanted to tell me about it, so we decided to meet up.

A few hours before I allowed myself to be herded into the gathering of Presidential wannabes, the reporter and I found ourselves musing on politics and political fortune over excellent coffee imported from Montreal by our shitty mill city's then finest roaster (a friend, and for a while, my compassionate employer). I'd just signed on to another Republican's aspiration express. I was too late, and I'd bet on the wrong candidate. Dubya would soon snowball out of reach of all other contenders.

I'd sensed it then, gladhanding his campaign workers, watching their organization outmaneuver every opponent. I was lucky enough to be near to the center of the nasty little experiment in the (then new) corporatization of campaign structure. I got to see them do it - scratch Mrs. Dole's hopes and eyes out, dash Forbes against the rocks, whisper and rumor McCain into an eight year holding pattern.

Dubya's crew was masterful. They were at war, and they were the only people who knew it.

My reporter friend and I sipped at coffee and picked at croissants, discussing all this - he worked at remaining aloof, despite unreasonably passionate moral convictions; I tried to care, always failing for lack of a conscience and a reason to try out the feeling of loyalty. He would range from Bastiat to Baudelaire, cutting through his own arguments as a way of triplicating his dialogue with himself and others, backtracking to a point after following its logic to annihilation. I would pretend an investment in events which could never in fact overcome my composite detachment.

We both agreed that Dubya was a new thing - a variation, a Mule in the most Asimovian sense. Ending our conversation there, he dashed off to record a report, while I prepared my plastic and paternal concern, and returned to getting people to do things they would never do if plentiful food were equitably distributed.

Later that day, I met with the above mentioned men of Some Fame, shaking hands while a carried on with an impotent internal monologue. Bauer and Ashcroft were mild, soft spoken men. Gentle, for all that they would soon come to do and to explain away a comprehensive administration of deliberate horror. I remember now that I envied them their deep faiths, political and religious, while I simultaneously disdained them for it. Keyes was wild eyed, punctuating his speech with random gesticulation. As usual. I thought him a buffoon then. I still do now. A clown.

I never thought that of Ashcroft. I liked him, almost immediately.

And I knew him, from that handshake, as exactly the sort of unmovable administrators of death and destruction who remake human events, who by being who they are change how the rest of us live. How we exist.

Releasing his hand, the tactile softness of it still lingering, I had a compulsion to strike this man I found so pleasant in person. To strike him down and to kick him and kick him and to keep on kicking him. I have told this Ashcroft story before, but I have always omitted that eudaemonic compulsion. From shame. I was at the pivot of history. I knew it. And did nothing.

My reporter friend arrived. We retreated to a corner, again over excellent coffee.

I told him of the demiurge infecting me. He laughed, but I could not return him the favor. I had no humor. I had passed over some until then obscured border. I lost my balance, moving from my carefully constructed self, built over decades of self protection, to a man without any armor, without buffers, without any capacity to filter my experience. In a moment's release. In a literal instance of insubstantiation.

It would take a couple of years for this process to complete itself. I would hurt a lot of people along the way, having still any number of avenues to influence and power, but now armed with an ill formed conscience, with an uncontainable sense of outrage. With a compulsion to rediscover a long murdered fervor, to dredge up older sincerities, to ring them dry, to give them shape and a moral existence, to unleash them as guardian undead, patrolling the borderlands of my resurrected anger.

With the presence of myself riding my own memories. Inescapable.

That was then, and we're talking about a moment even earlier.

My friend took note of my expression. He muttered something about me being even more distant than usual. I told him, "Nothing further."

We soon felt out of touch. He needed me to be distant, but to pretend concern. He needed a sounding board. I needed him for the image of a self-confident conscience I'd long ago abandoned on the way to survival and self-preservation.

I still remember what I said to him, moments before I left:

"Empire, now. Or Balkanization."

I don't know why I said it. I can only remember really, really fucking meaning it. I remember ghosting myself, in order to say it.

I wish I'd been wrong.

But I'm glad I got to shake that one man's hand. It's the day which marks a necessary death. I would fall apart. Learn to panic. Unlearn how to be a conscientious sociopath. Start feeling. Begin to suffer. To hurt, for all that I'd done. For all that I could never undo.

And, within months, my wife was able to even like me, and not just love me.

(* - a deliberate but truthful amalgamation, to preserve for myself the illusion of privacy)

Apr 6, 2011

Miki Endo

"The voice is Miki Endo, a 25 year old public worker in the Crisis Management Department of the city of Minami Sanriku. She is saying, roughly, “Please run away fast.” The mess of red beams are the skeletal remains of the building from which Endo made her final broadcast...

...Endo stayed at her post, repeating her warning, until the wave struck. Or, as blogger night rpm described it:
Miki Endo did not let go of her microphone, even during the very moment the black waves of the tsunami engulfed the city, so that every last villager could hear her warning call. One co-worker told Miki’s mother, that he saw Miki being swept away by the tsunami wave.
Another survivor, a 61 year-old man named Taeza Haga, told Endo’s mother that the broadcast had saved his live. That he had heard Endo’s voice and immediately jumped in his car and headed for higher ground. He told Endo’s mother:
I heard the voice of your daughter the whole way."

I doubt there's a universal lesson in this. There doesn't need to be one. I will note that it's rare that the people who order the deaths of others ever stay at their posts to save the lives of strangers, when death comes for them. People who can command murder don't ever find themselves in a position to actually save lives, do they?

Maybe there is something to learn, here.

Apr 5, 2011


What is it with liberals?

I know that's an overbroad question which a body can answer in a thousand contradictory ways and still be right, but...

...specifically, what's wrong with the liberal type, that in promoting a new project or savethechildreny venture, they so often glom onto corporate speak?

"...Software is moving to the cloud and so is school. Cloud-based computing makes applications available anywhere, anytime, across multiple devices. Software-as-a-service allows us to tailor what we use and how much we buy -- take your pick of five versions of Turbo Tax depending on your needs; build your own playlist of music; build your own virtual desktop with your favorite browser, email client, and applications.

I wrote about this last week too and it wasn't a very popular idea with some readers. I still think School-as-a-Service (SaaS) is an important metaphor for the future of customized learning and am certain that it will work better for students and teachers. We ask teachers to differentiate learning and then give them big classes. The shift to personal digital learning will soon customize learning as much as the rest of our lives. 

Here are 10 dimensions of School-as-a-Service:

1. SaaS has a digital backbone rather than print backbone; it's a unique student identifier more than a book bag; it's an IP address more than a seat on a chart. 

2. SaaS is student-centered rather than teacher centered; learning is customized for every student -- a playlist/project-list of their own -- rather than experiencing whole group age-cohort instruction (large group experiences and seminars may be part of SaaS but they aren't predominant). 

3. SaaS is competency-based rather than time based; progress is marked in small and flexible chunks (e.g., merit badges) measured by multiple assessments many of which are embedded within the learning experiences. 

4. SaaS is dynamic scheduling rather than master scheduling; there is a new and flexible day schedule every day rather than a 90 day course schedule.

5. SaaS has a free or inexpensive foundation of open instructional experiences but can be enriched with premium games, simulations, and other curated collections and sequences. The same can be said for tools -- a foundation of pretty good open tools augmented by premium applications -- all purchased and downloaded and customized online. 

6. SaaS is team based staffing with some local and some remote staff. About the time the bureaucrats are about ready to nail down new value-added evaluation systems based on annual standardized assessments, differentiated/distributed staffing and progress based on performance makes much of that obsolete.

7. SaaS isn't bound by a place but it may be take up temporary residence ranging from a day a week check-in to extended day/year with full wrap around services. 

8. SaaS isn't going to get too hung up on a particular access strategy because it is mobile and works across multiple devices. Many students will look at least three screens during day: a big screen, a mobile screen, and a screen linked to a full keyboard. 

9. SaaS works best with weighted funding with a portable wallet that facilitates acquisition of specialty services (e.g., speech therapy, reading specialist, math tutoring). 

10. SaaS is best situated in case management services for guidance, transcript management, integration and application opportunities, connection to community services, and extracurricular activities...


"The RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT ("RtoP" or "R2P") is a new international security and human rights norm to address the international community’s failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

INTERNATIONAL COALITION FOR THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT(ICRtoP) brings together NGOs from all regions of the world to strengthen normative consensus for RtoP, further the understanding of the norm, push for strengthened capacities to prevent and halt genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and mobilize NGOs to push for action to save lives in RtoP country-specific situations."

SaaS. R2P.

Fucking NAFTA.

Why is it that when a liberal wants to sell the hoi polloi on a policy or program which will almost certainly fuck up their kids and make a bunch of self-satisfied liberals gobs o' money, he or she glibs up the language with acronymic junk?*

Is it that these liberals are constitutionally incapable of admitting that they're as predatory and uberclass in their motives as their more forthright conservative competitors? Is this an attempt to distance themselves with words? Do they believe this pap?

Or is that almost every liberal you're going to meet is a product of a corporatist, Hamiltonian, managerial meritocracy? Is it that they really don't know better?

I personally have little use for traditionalists and conservatives, or for the various schools of Hegelian economic hermeticism, but from time to time I get of whiff of embarrassment from those quarters. It positively wafts upward and out, unconstrained and uncontainable. It's like they're capable of coming to the realization that they're fiddling with words about words in a sad, self belittling effort to come to terms with impotence and the meanness of existence, with the failure of history to comply with physics, and worse yet, to conform to their alchemies of synthesis and antithesis - and have enough capacity for shame to blush in public.

But technocratic liberals?

There's no fucking hope for them. And I intend that play on words...

* - the Saas guy actually gets worse, as the article continues:

"...I've written frequently about emerging learning platform ecosystems: digital content libraries on a widget rich social layer with a smart recommendation engine and aligned student, teacher, and school services. SaaS is really an extension of a next gen platform. The metaphor attempts to move a step further from teacher- and print-centric, classroom-based learning to a set of customized learning services that are flexible in time and location.

The big state and national online learning providers are SaaS -- at least a first gen version featuring mostly flat and sequential content and bounded by a set of restrictive policies.

Choice to the course, as just enacted in Utah by SB65, is a step in this direction. But SaaS will take some energy and investment by lead providers (i.e., the folks that take student outcome 
responsibility and manage the transcript) to stitch together into a coherent service offering. Most providers (including school districts, charter school networks, and state virtual schools) will want to join an ecosystem rather than attempting to build their own. Broadband providers will need to be part of the solution by ensuring affordable access to every home..." 

I think I've translated it properly, as:  "We've got profitable software which you will have to license or lease, and which is managed by mega-corporations on proprietary servers, and we're going to extract oodles of rent from strapped municipalities and schools with it, but whoa dude, that's like wicked gauche to say in public..."