Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Boldly Going Where Everyoneís Been Before



Regular readers will by now have figured out that Iím a big olí Science Fiction Geek. Now, us SFGs come in all manner of shapes and sizes, from the bookish, quiet hard-SFGs who can devourer whole mass market paper pack editions of the Uplift Series in one sitting to the socially inept, Hellboy T-shirt wearing Comix-SFGs who can quote Jack Kirby and know the episode numbers of old Simpsonís episodes. There are the Tolkienites, who have had mainstream exposure of late, thanks to the admirable work of Peter Jackson (and company) and the scary and all too dour Randroid-Heinelin SFGs who stalk cyberspace like some cyborg with half-baked political science theses programmed into the computer chip implanted in their brains.

Iím none of these. Iím more amorphous.

I like Neil Gaimanís books because he can write convincing, psychologically compelling characters but has no allegiance to realism. In other words, heís fun to read and doesnít take himself or his ideas seriously.

Much to my wifeís dismay, I like to watch Godzilla movies. Even I canít explain why, though I suspect it has something to do with primal sci-fi archetypes involving atomic bombs, dinosaurs and moth worshipping fairies.

Robert Anton Wilsonís brand of esoteric conspiracy theory, politics, the occult and scatological humor has definitely influenced the way I look at the world and Iím forever indebted to him (and the late Robert Shea) for writing the single greatest science fiction novel of all time, Illuminatus!.

Tangentially related to the Godzilla fixation is my love of old fifties B Sci-Fi movies such as The Day the Earth Stood Still, Anything with Ray Harryhausan monsters, like Jason and the Argonauts, Sinbad movies and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.

And like the stereotypical Librarian-Author I like to pretend I loathe television, while in reality I actually do watch some things on the tube and find them enjoyable. I grew up watching Star Trek TOS with my father on Sunday afternoon. Following the adventures of the only true captain of the Enterprise was the weird as fuck 70ís Buck Rogers (I think my first sexual feeling was looking at the luminous lip gloss that Erin gray wore as Capt. Wilma Deering wore) and of course, there was the incomparable Battlestar Galactica.

Who could forget the dramatic brass thunder of the classical music played over the shots of starry nebulas, those wonderfully feathered hairdos and sub par special effects? The concept of the series was pretty good but even then, at age five, I could tell that it wasnít living up to its potential.

The new miniseries changes that. I was really impressed with not just the production value but the little details they added, like giving the Vipers maneuvering jets and machine guns instead of lasers and characters with real names, relegating the goofy new age names to military call signs. The characters are much more rounded as well. I like the understated antagonism between Apollo and Adama and not bothered one bit in making Starbuck a woman. She has a great energy about her, a real cute, dykey quality that you donít often get on television. Upgrading the Cylons was a must and adding in the humanoid twist is pretty cool, even if not too terribly original (but easy to overlook once Number Six walks on screen. Thereís just something about leggy, blond homicidal robotsÖ)

The most interesting change though is Gaius Baltar. No longer a two dimensional, sociopathic fop with a chrome fetish, heís a character with genuine moral ambiguity, another rarity in TV Land. He may be full of himself and an asshole, but heís not evil, just a dupe who fell in love with a Cylon. So now, heís stuck between his desire to better his peopleís lives and save his own skin. This is definitely territory the old Battlestar never covered, even with Lorne Green leading them through the galaxy.

I really hope the new Battlestar Galactica gets picked up as a series as Iím in desperate need of something to replace Enterprise now that it is securely orbiting Planet Suck.

Which brings me to the Star Trek problem. And yes, it really is a problem. As goofy as The Original Series was, it is worlds above and beyond the stale piece of rehash that is Enterprise. And comparing that piece of space flotsam to TNG or the later DS9 is laughable. Enterprise is even worse than Voyager, if you can imagine such a thing.

Now, when I heard about the concept of Enterprise, I was excited. How could the idea of a Star Trek prequel not get any SFG salivating? Picture it:

Itís seven years before Captain Kirk takes command of the Enterprise. Captain Christopher Pike, having made a name for himself during the recently-ended Romulan War is put in command of the brand new flagship of Star Fleet, the Enterprise (yes, the original NCC 1701. No A, D, E or X). The crew could even be rounded out with the Enterprise regulars like Mayweather, Yoshi, Reed and even Trip (as annoying as he is). And though Jolene Blaylock fills out a catsuit nicely, she has to be the single most emotional Vulcan in the Alpha Quadrant. And a lousy actress. So I say replace her with a young Spock, played by James Marsters (Spike from Buffy. Come on, picture him in a Vulcan wig, with the ears. You know heíd be perfect for it).

And what with Romulans, Andorians, the Gorn and a hundred new species that could be dreamed up along the way, thereís no reason to rape continuity by having them run up against the Borg or Ferengi or the Cardasians, no matter how amusing it would be. Is it too much to ask that the writers try to push the boundaries a little and do something new?

Now, true, we already know the fate of Captain Pike, as weíve all seen the Cage but this would prevent the writers with an interesting challenge, to have the end of the series dovetail with that classic episode.

Well, a geek can dream. And Brandon Bragga, if youíre reading this, I can send sample pages. All I need is twenty four hours to write them.

_________
Adapted from comments placed over at Dohiyi Mir

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

By the Book



I'm in Texas visiting the in-laws and the big lotto is up to $155 million. So were thinking of picking some numbers and throwing in as a family for a ticket. My sister in-law, who is a sergeant in the Army and due to ship out to Iraq in March told me of an interesting occurrence a few months ago: A couple of GIs home on R&R from Iraq decide to buy a lotto ticket. They win several million dollars apiece and are rewarded instantly with honorable discharge. That's right. Honorable Discharge.

Apparently, there's a little known clause in the Army that if you inherit or win over a certain amount of money, you go home. We all suspected it but now we have proof: only the poor are fit to die for Haliburton's no bid contracts. The rich are too good to die for their country.

So all you GIs out there, go buy yourself a lotto ticket. It just might save your life. (And if you think the odds are against you just remember that they are better than W or anyone in Bushco coming to their senses).

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

The Most Fabulous Quiz Ever:




Which Famous Homosexual are you?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

(Thanks to Stradiotto for the link!)

Sunday, December 21, 2003

The Party Ticket



I'm in holiday mode right now. Just got back from seeing Return of the King and tomorrow, I fly to San Antonio with the wife to see her family. So blogging for the next week will still be on the light side (though the laptop is going with me so there will be something to read, maybe a review of ROTK? We'll see...) Until then, from The Truth Laid Bear's New Webblog Showcase: Chris "Lefty" Brown's Corner: What's so funny about peace, love, and higher taxes?

Saturday, December 20, 2003

The Invisible Manifesto



Nine hours alone in a car gives you plenty of time to think. And so I did. As I was driving from Maryland to Georgia, I had plenty of time to mull over several matters. I reviewed my last exam in my head, until that started to annoy me. I thought about all the good food my wife would be fixing over the winter break and what we would do when we got to San Antonio. I also, of course thought about politics.

In my slightly exhausted, slightly excited state I started to ponder the attitudes David Neiwert has been documenting over at Orcinus, about the increase in eliminationist rhetoric coming from the mouthpieces on the extreme right. What struck me about this sort of kill all the dirty liberal rhetoric was not its startling lack of imagination (unfortunately, this sort of hate speech has been around for a long time and like all things older than the hills, it's not all that original) but the personal edge that the Neocons give it. They of course backpeddle as soon as they're fingered on their libelous speech and claim it was only satire but this just underscores their ignorance. Does anyone really think Rush Limbaugh would know satire if it dropped a wooden rabbit on his head?

No, they make personal attacks and try and claim it's something else when it's pointed out to them that, hay, you know that sort of talk is dangerous because some dim bulb out there might not get your feverish brand of Benedict Arnold Satire. This got me to wondering, what are their gripes? Why does Rush Limbaugh hate me personally, even though he's never met me? I can only conclude that it's because I am what he is not and that scares him. I'm the Other. The thing he dare not look for when he combs over his hair in the mirror.

I'm a liberal. An outspoken intellectual. An Atheist. A freethinker. A nonviolent activist. Agent of change-for-the-sake-of-change. A freewheeling, fast moving force upon the face of the Earth and a hell of a good dancer.

I'm everything Rush, Shawn, Bill and their lie spinning Bible addled handlers Unelectable, Crisco Johnny and Defib Dick haven't got the guts to be: Free. I make up my own mind instead of having my ideas handed down to me from Neocon Thinktanks, Pundits and the Eye of Sauron himself, Karl Rove. I think not just outside the box but outside the frickin political solar system. I'm the lefty from outer space. My ray beams shoot sexy daydreams to all the kids, making them pant and lust for the sort of life that exists outside of corporatist groupthink, that America we somehow forgot three years ago, the one I want to go back to next year: the land of the free and home of the brave.

______
*Edited to remove funny symbols that where not intended to be there.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

A List of People I Won't Vote For, Plus Howard Dean



SelectSmart.com has a great 2004 AMERICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SELECTOR. (thanks to Mustang Bobby over at Bark Bark Woof Woof for the link). I took the quiz and found out something interesting:


    1.† Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%)†
    2.† Socialist Candidate (77%) Walt Brown
    3.† Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat†(77%)†
    4.† Clark, Retired General Wesley K., AR - Democrat (71%)†
    5.† Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat†(71%)
    6.† Kucinich, Rep. Dennis, OH - Democrat†(66%)
    7.† Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol, IL - Democrat (61%)†
    8.† Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat†(61%)
    9.† Gephardt, Rep. Dick, MO - Democrat†(54%)
    10.† Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat†(54%)†
    11.† LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat (45%)†
    12.† Libertarian Candidate (41%)
    13.† Lieberman, Senator Joe, CT - Democrat†(39%)†
    14.† Bush, President George W. - Republican (13%)†
    15.† Phillips, Howard - Constitution (4%)†


While I wouldn't actually vote for the socialist candidate, it's good to see that he's up there, as my own personal beliefs tend to lean more towards the Anarcho-socialist side of the political spectrum. I'm not surprised that Howard Dean is my number two man (number one in the actually viable candidate range) as the more I hear him speak, the more I look forward to voting for him next year. It's interesting that Lyndon LaRouche is more in line with my political ideals than Lieberman and that Clark is ahead of Kucinich (whom I'd like to see as president, or VP but realize that this is a fantasy on par with LOTR). I'm not surprised to see Sharpton up towards the top as he's a rather liberal candidate. I still wouldn't vote for him (and no, Wingers, not because he's black but because he's a reverand. However liberal a preacher he is, I won't vote a member of the clergy into the office of the President. This liberal does have something against organized religion and thinks there should be a permanant wall between Church and State and that preachers should be barred from holding the office of the President as a matter of conflict of interest. But that's a personal gripe and another post for another time). I would like to see Sharpton have a place in the Dem Administration of 2004 though, as he's shown himself to be a capable and strong candidate, one who can handle pressure graciously. That and he'd temper Dean's edge with his witty sense of humor.

Monday, December 15, 2003

The Man's Got My Vote!



Scooter, a fellow Eschatonian has posted his presidential platform.

I especially like the idea of putting Robert Anton Wilson on the 23 dollar bill.

Long Live the Procrastination Army!



Once again, I've been conscripted by the Procrastination Army. I should be studying for my exam but instead I'm playing with the right sidebar. I've made a few minor alterations, most notably the picture (which is not of me, just a place holder until I can get a proper self portrait scanned in). I've also moved the LC links to the Current Events section. While it's further down the page this is not to imply anything against my fellow LC members, whom you all should be reading, every day. The reason is simply organization. And we librarians are nothing without organization, now are we?

Update: Picture go away. ugly and not mine anyway. That's enough. Time for booze.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Saddam's Bottomless Hole



Iím sure by now everyone has heard the news: Saddam Hussein is in custody. For further details, in case you havenít been inundated yet, see, well pretty much anywhere but check out Dohiyi Mir and Bark Bark Woof Woof for some sparkling coverage.

Whatís surprising is that heís alive. Unlike his two sons, he wasnít gunned down by an entire regiment of marines with tanks and Blackhawk helicopters with rockets, but plucked from a spider hole in the basement of a house in a town outside of Tikrit.

Iím sure Bushco. Will rectify this little oversight very soon.

Now, I;m not saying theyíll have him rubbed out or anything so conspiratorial. No, heíll simply have an accident or succumb to health problems due to his six months of fugitive living. Heís an elderly man after all. Bones break easily, especially malnourished bones that have already been put under the stress of climbing in and out of a hole.

Perhaps Iím being cynical but Hussein knows too much about our countryís past shady dealings with Bush the Elder, Ramrod Rumsfeld and Saint Reagan. And if say, Hussein were to spill his guts about the nerve gas we sold him in the eighties or how we turned a blind eye while he used said nerve gas on the Kurds, it would be damaging to the Bush/ Cheney campaign to continue occupying the White House.

Now, personally I want to see Hussein stand trial. The Iraqi people deserve to see justice for the crimes this man has committed against them. And the American people deserve to hear what nefarious backdoor dealings our own Tinhorn Dictators have had their oil slick hands in. But Iím, not holding my breath for that one. Weíd have to have a functional media and legal system that isnít built for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful.

Maybe our British friends will be able to tell us what happens at the Hussein trial. If he lives that long.

(And if you think I'm being cynical, you should see what Ayn Clouter has to say on th ematter).

Saturday, December 13, 2003

New Feature



Under the Reference Desk you'll find the Ready Reference Question of the Day. It'll be more like of the week but from time to time I will be adding fun, quirky little links there. Be sure to check out todays' Ready Refference Question: Is President Bush Unelectable?

Week Apologies



I have been negligent of my LC duties this week but I've been extra busy with finals and a project for my IT class. If anyone wants to see what has been the bane of my existence besides Newt Gingrich and his damn Dissertation (see below), take a look at the Digital Docent, for the College Park Aviation Museum. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Doing My part for the Cause



Dan Savage, sex columnist extrordinair is making considerable headway in getting an Anal Sex byproduct named for Senator Santorum.

And frankly, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Oh, is this too mean? Too dirty? Tough shit folks.

Senator Santorum, along with an awful lot of our elected (and at least one unelected) leaders are trying to deny a portion of our citizens the same rights as everyone else simply because of the form their love takes. If they were trying to deny the same status to ethnic minorities (and some have been in office long enough to have tried that already) we'd be raising hell. So why are we letting our Homosexual brothers and sisters have their rights trodden on? There's no reason other than bigoted fear and loathsome superstition. And that just isn't good enough.

If it sounds like this is a personal cause for me, well it is. I may be a heterosexual married man but I still love my fellow man. And I'm not going to settle for having my friends and loved ones denied the same rights just because Richard Fucking Santorum doesn't approve of who they fell in love with.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Bookseller



Jesse Crispin at Bookslut points us to a collection of memories, just in time for the holliday season:The trials and tribulations of the Barnes & Noble employee.


Her: (Extremely pissed off) I just don't understand you people! You leave to show people where a book is and then you're so slow to come back!

Me: (Dumbfounded)... Well actually I haven't been gone for more than a minute.. (My coworker walks up behind me) ... and neither has she.

Her: (Insanely pissed off) Well whatever! I need 'Call of the WIld' by Jack London.

Me: (Thinking) You're standing less than a foot away from a shelf that says 'fiction, alphabetical by author' and you can't find Jack London? (speaking) O.K. it'll be right this way.

Apparently she didn't hear me. She just stared at me in a "I hate everyone and I will destroy them by being rude until they die from it" sort of way. So I went to the section and grabbed the two different editions of 'Call of the WIld' that were in fiction. Meanwhile, she has remained at the information kiosk, raving like a madwoman about how I walked off in the middle of helping her because *I* was rude! My coworker is trying to convince her that I went to get her book.

I arrive with the books. My coworker says, "See I told you he was helping you." which only pisses her off more. She takes the two volumes from me. The first contains both 'The Call of the Wild' and 'Whitefang.'

"Did you ask me if I wanted more than one story in the book? No, you didn't ask me that."

She looks at the second version. It's annotated.

"Did I ask for an annotated version? No I did not. These are way too thick. I want a thinner version."

At this point I'm pretty well pissed, primarily because this woman is going out of her way to be rude to me. Barely resisting the urge to point out that she didn't specify that she did not want an anthology or annotated version, I take her to the childrens classics section and show her versions that are 'thinner' because they don't contain 'white fang' or annotations. She wants a blue cover. There are three versions with a blue cover. She wants the thinnest version with a blue cover. She gets it.

I ended up showing her at least 6 versions of Call of the Wild, and do you know what she did on her way out? She complained to my manager that I was inefficient


As a former B&N stooge myself I can attest to the veracity of the author.

It reminds me of the time a woman who was displeased with the luminescence of her quarters demanded I call a manager and open the drawer so I could give her new, shiny quarters. On Christmas Eve.

Other stories are not for the feint of heart, involving magazines in questionable places and customers who divulge far too much information about their sexual orientation or tastes.

An example from my own experience:

The time the men's room was doused in shit. The walls, the floors, the bathroom stalls. The ceiling. Yes, the ceiling. How, you may ask? As near as we can figure, someone took extra strength laxative; at least ten times the recommended dosage, and then proceeded to wait until the dire moment to do a hand-stand. I'll let the physicists out there calculate the force and velocity.

This sort of thing happens in every B&N store on the planet, with a frequency that is alarming and wholly unnatural.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Untitled



I've made a few additions to the blogroll. Byzantium's Shores is chock full of blogorificness and if your aren't already a dedicated reader of the The Rittenhouse Review you really should be. I've also added Ayn Clouter who has a number of interesting things to say about plastic trees, faulty obituaries and humbugs.

Know how I said posting was going to be light for the rest of the month? What I actually meant to say was it's going to be virtually nonexistant for the next two or three days. Finals and all. But once I have that blasted Newt wrangled and in the box, I'll make a half hearted attempt to say something informative and witty before I run off to visit the in-laws for Mithra Day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

That Evil Newt Made Me Do It



Finals are a major drain on my cogitating skills right now. Seriously, Newton Leroy Gingrich can kiss my ass. Him and his frickin Doctoral dissertation! Who the hell wants to read about Belgian Education in the Congo from 1945-1960 anyway? So I thought a little blogaround was in order:

Over at Corrente the Farmer has located a long lost memo that explains why all the best news stories of the past 76 years are about drunken, ambitious sexual encounters/ murders at weddings or funerals.

And at Bark Bark Woof Woof, Mustang Bobby tells us about how The Religious Reich Is Endangering the Lives of Our Children.

Speedkill informs us that Israel is training US Assassin squads in Iraq.

But don't get too depressed. It isn't all bad news today. Mercury X23 has a great answer for all your pest control needs.

And for an added bonus check out the always witty and informed Ayn Clouter.

Life Imitates Art



Or at least we now have conclusive proof that the Bush Administration is based on Monty Python's Flying Circus: Bush signs the medicare bill while the band plays Sousa's Liberty Bell March.

When the administration in control of every branch of the government begins to overtly resemble seventies British satire, it's time for a new administration (let's call this one Kisser's law).

Via Eschaton.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Tis the Season... That Makes Me Want to Scream!



What with finals and the holidays approaching, posting will be light for the rest of the month. However, in the new year I'll be starting a new round of submissions, trying to get the MS of my novel into friendly hands so I'll have plenty to rant and rave about then. Maybe I'll post some novel excerpts on my secondary page. (Right now I have a bunch of fragments for my next novel-in-progress on that page but once winter break starts, I'll be taking it down to work on it. Comments, suggestions and especially criticisms are always welcome on the fiction front).

Monday, December 08, 2003

The Greatest Wall

Information Use and Information Seeking Behavior of Neo Conservatives



"This is truly a great Wall."

~Richard M. Nixon



It should come as no surprise to anyone by now that George W. Bush is intellectually incurious. We even joke about it. Some seem to think it adds to his down home, awe shucks image as a red- blooded commie terrorist hatiní American. He's even gone so far as to admit publicly that he does not read newspapers, nor watch news programs on television but instead relies upon his aids to deliver to him all pertinent information.

Think about this for a moment. Let it sink in.

It isn't just that he prefers to gather his news from the Internet as many of us do (I admit that I prefer Internet sources to print sources myself) but that he receives all of his information second hand. Now we assume that the Leader of the Free World has some smart cookies roaming around the halls of the White House. We shouldn't but we do. And there inlays our problem: We assume too much and let Bush get away, literally with murder, while he pretends he just didnít know any better.

The Bush administration, like all administrations before them, is full of people who have made it their careers to get into a position of power. I will not speculate here about their motives for wanting this power but we've all seen their faces on television and every one of them, from Wolfowitz on down to Condi Rice has that Lean and Hungry Look about them. What separates this administration form others, however is not that they are career politicians with desires for power but that they are, almost every one of them, career business people with extensive experience in the corporate world, complete with the bottom dollar mindset that seems almost genetic in Capitalists. This creates an almost tangible disconnect from reality. They are all overwhelmingly preoccupied with furthering their own agendas that they will do whatever it takes, including misinforming (or in popular parlance "spinning") data when delivering it to the President. All so long as they create the appearance of competitive competence rather than actual integrity.

Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, in their book Illuminatus! call this the SNAFU principle. The SNAFU principle asserts that accurate communication can only take place among equals, that in corporate or governmental hierarchies where equality is secondary (if it exists at all) there is always a subordinate reporting to a superior. And as we all know from our own experiences in hierarchical oriented situations, subordinates do not always report facts accurately to their superiors, especially when the situation is deemed important or there is seen an opening for advancement.

The ramifications of this disinformation bubble are all too apparent on the geopolitical stage. All we have to do is look at the recent Niger Yellowcake scandal to see how voluble and important accurate, authoritative Information really is.

As if this dithering about with false information wasn't bad enough for the President there is also his faulty decision making behavior which creates the real dire situations (See: iraq, illegal war in).

I'm speaking of the Slippery Slope Argument.

This is a classic Neocon philologistic game wherein a Reduction by Inference is made by falsely associating unrelated ideas and building sloppy syllogisms to then back up the asserted conclusions; conclusions that were not reached by logic but were made using ìFaith Based Intelligenceî or according to ideological wish fulfillment. A clear example of the Slippery Slope Argument was made back in April when Senator Rick Santorum (R. Penn) asserted that if homosexual unions were acknowledged by the state, this would lead, somehow, to an escalation in the occurrence of man on dog sex.

The first problem with this sort of thinking is that it is not based on credible logic at all. It isn't even comparing apples to oranges. It's painting the apples orange, dusting them with Tang and then complaining that they diminish the overall Orangeness of all oranges.

The second problem with this sort of thinking is that it occurs all too frequently in the Oval Office and on the Senate Floor.

Truly, this is a great wall indeed.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

That Infamous Sunday



My wife, parents and I spent this past thanksgiving weekend in a cabin on the Eastern Shore. One day we drove up to Salisbury, MD to visit my motherís aunt and uncle. Over lunch, we chatted about the usual family gossip and goings on. It was the usual mixture of pleasant familial nostalgia and awkward inability to relate to elderly family members. Especially when talking with Great Uncle Roy, age 85, who has memory problems. The doctor isnít sure if itís first stage Alzheimerís, the result of a minor heart attack he had several years ago or just the onset of senility. Whatever the case, Uncle Roy would forget my name one moment, call me by my brotherís name the next and then turn around and talk to me just like normal. It was akin to having a conversation with two identical brothers, one sharp as ever, the other very obviously not long for this world.

Uncle Roy may not have remembered my name, but he could not forget where he was December 7, 1941. As it turns out, Uncle Roy was in Savannah, GA that day. My wife and I currently live in Savannah (or rather, Elvira lives there now while Iím in MD attending grad school. Another story for another time). On December 6, 1941, Uncle Roy and a Navy buddy were on leave from the Marine base just across the river in Hilton Head, SC. They came out of their hotel the next morning in search of some breakfast and were stopped by a man on the street who told them theyíd better get back to the base.

ìWhyís that?î my uncle asked the man.

ìWhy?î replied the man, îThe Japs just bombed pearl Harbor!î

We donít call them Japs any more, we call them friends. I canít help but wince every time I hear this story but thatís my problem as a conditioned child of the nineties. I donít want to offend anyone with racial slurs. But then, as little Annie Coulter will tell you, Iím just a treasonous liberal. If I were a true blue Conservative like her, I wouldnít have problems with overt racism from a bygone era.

Uncle Roy, despite his age and senility, will always call them Japs and I donít fault him for it. Because he will also always remember what he was called on to do during World War Two. Not even senility can dull the red hot glare of those memories.

Itís supremely unfortunate that my Uncle is having his Veterans benefits cut by the AWOL coward currently residing in the White House. Youíd think, what with Poppy Bush also being a WWII vet, that George would be a little more thoughtful about where he makes his budget cuts so he can give his rich friends more money. But then, Daddy Bush isnít exactly short of the long green either, unlike my Uncle Roy.

Did I also mention he fought in Korea?

So yes Anne, you foul mouthed bitch (and all you other mealy mouthed sideways talking Neocons), I support our troops. I do not however support the despicable attempts by Our Glorious Leader to co-opt their achievements and their suffering for crass political gains. That is why I will do everything in my power to remove him from office come next November. Iíll do it for the vets Bush uses only as a cheep photo op and Iíll do it for my unborn children, so they wonít have to grow up in a Neocon police State. I do it for me and for my wife and for everyone else who wants to move this country forward into the twenty First century, not back to the squalor and entitlement-for-the-rich-only of the Nineteenth.

So on this, the most Infamous Sunday, go and visit your own Uncle Roy. Take a moment to think long and hard about what it is you really want out of a Democracy. Then act.

Regime change truly does begin at home.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Traveling Without Moving



Get out your passports, it's a trip through The Commonwealth of Blogosphere States.

First stop is the Democratic Republic of Dohiyi Mir, where NTodd links to a great little Flash Cartoon about The End of The World. It's funny, it's scary, you'll laugh, you'll drink. What Fun!

Over at Counterspin Central, Hesiod opens up a can of worms while comparing the recent beating of an Iranian reformer by hard-line thugs:


Folks, you are witnessing the future of the Bush Fedayeen if they ever feel like they are losing their grip on power. In many ways, the Bush cabal, and the Republican party are like the hardline Iranian mullahs.


Personally, I agree with him. If the Bushies ever feel like they are loosing this is the sort fo behavior we can expect. They don't play by civilized rules. Check out the Kvetches to have a gander at the debate and see what I mean.

Don't forget to hop a camel caravan over to Iraq at a Glance and read about the occupation from a local perspective.

Meanwhile, over at Corrente, fellow Coalition member, the Farmer paints a purty picture.

And in Pandagon, a land far to the East (OK, not that far) there is a list of the Twenty Most Annoying Conservatives. Jesse is a genius.

The Acts of Judges



From The Truth Laid Bear's New Webblog Showcase, Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof discusses the motives and mentality of former Judge Moore and his favorite idol. Go read More on Moore, Who Is No More.

Friday, December 05, 2003

The Liberal Coalition Calls



I'm pleased to anounce that the Invisible Library is now a member of the Dreaded Liberal Coalition. Fear us for we bring progressive ideas! Activist Enthusiasm! Cake!

OK, the cake is disputable. But I hear there is cheese involved, so that's something.

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?




Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.


You are Gaius Caesar Germanicus - better known as Caligula!

Third Emperor of Rome and ruler of one of the most powerful empires of all time, your common name means "little boots". Although you only reigned for four years, brief even by Roman standards, you still managed to garner a reputation as a cruel, extravagant and downright insane despot. Your father died in suspicious circumstances, you were not the intended heir, and one of your first acts as Emperor was to force the suicide of your father-in-law. Your sister Drusilla died that same year; faced with allegations that your relationship with her had been incestuous, you responded, bafflingly, by declaring her a god.

You revived a number of unpopular traditions, including auctions of properties left over from public shows. When a senator fell asleep at one such auction, you took each of his nods as bids, selling him 13 gladiators for a vast sum. You attempted to have your horse, Incitatus, made into a consul and hence one of the most powerful figures in Rome. It was granted a marble stable with jewels and a staff of servants. At one point you forced your comrade Macro to kill himself - in much the same vein as your father-in-law - accusing him of being his wife's pimp. You, of course, were having an affair with said wife at the time.

Things went from bad to worse. When supplies of condemned men ran short in the circus, you had innocent spectators dragged into the arena with the lions to fill their place. You claimed mastery of the sea by walking across a three-mile bridge of boats in the Bay of Naples; kissed the necks of your lovers, whispering sweet nothings like "This lovely neck will be chopped as soon as I say so,"; dallied with your sister's lover and made her pull her unborn child out of her womb prematurely. Towards the end of your reign, you had a golden statue of yourself made and dressed each day in the same clothes you yourself wore. When you eventually died, the terrified people of Rome refused to believe that such a cruel reign could ever end, and believed you to be alive for years afterwards.

Dispatches From an Alternate America:
President Goreís Mission to the Moon



Everyone in the Blogosphere is talking about President Goreís announcement this week to start a new Space Race with China but I want to add my two cents worth to the aether.

Now Iíve been as much a critic of the Gore administration as the next person. He hasnít always followed through on the lofty goals he promised us back in 2000 but he has made a few crucial steps in a progressive direction, like strong-arming Putin into signing the Kyoto accord and not joining in on the war fervor that built up after 9/11. Sure, he sold us out to the WTO but so did Clinton and itís not as if a Republican President wouldnít have either (could you imagine what President Bush would have done? I shudder to think at the depths of Corporate Cronyism that would come with such a bastard administration).

I give Gore credit where itís do, though. Heís made a lot of progress in beefing up port and airline security and heís already set the goal of an Oil Free America by 2012 and despite the attempts by Congressional Republicans, actually put the necessary research money where his mouth is. Handing the reconstruction of Afghanistan over to the UN was a good idea, too, regardless of what the Pundits say. We certainly donít want to look like Laurence of Arabia, forcing our values on an Arab country that is already rife with tribal infighting, especially after the way we blew the hell out of the country looking for bin Laden. And what with the sanctions against the Saudis, weíre running out of friends in the Middle East.

In my opinion, the announcement that we are ramping up our Space program again will be the shining moment in the Gore Administration. And I donít say this sort of thing lightly.

Goreís speech at Kitty Hawk was a nice touch as well:


Itís time to stop living in fear. Weíve seen the face of terror and found that it is not some demon with a tongue of fire but an all too human enemy, one with the same weaknesses and failings as all people who would use fear as a weapon to halt civilizationís progress.


Fancy rhetoric aside, a good, friendly, competitive race to the moon with the Chinese would benefit both countries in two ways:

First, as a positive goal for us as a nation. Weíve all been in a funk since 9/11. It was a black eye, to be sure but grandiose visions are what make America great and thereís nothing quite as grand as returning to the Moon. It gives all us Space Cadets a Buck Rogers hardon: daydreams of shiny domed moon cities, space suits with fishbowl helmets and the rush of liftoff! America was at itís noblest when we were striving for something greater than ourselves back in the sixties. Kennedyís call to have a man on the Moon by the end of that decade gave Americans and the whole world hope that the future could be not just bright, but luminous as a star. And this New Space Race could do that again.

Secondly, it will help us cement friendly relations with China. They'd help get us back on track as a country and get our head out of our ass, and we'd help them become more open and democratic.

There are the usual opponents to this space age dreaming and is anyone surprised that theyíre all Republican? Senator Cheney thinks we need to have big olí tax cuts for the rich, to drain off that annoying budget surplus. Voodoo Economics didnít work during the Reagan years, what makes Dick ìIíve got the heart of a baboon heart and the brain of a pigî Cheney think itíd be anything but a way to waste money now? Personally, I think using the budget surplus accrued from the Clinton years is just the way to do it, no matter what Governor Bush thinks (That blowhard is just sour over having his ass handed to him back in 2000 and loony to boot. What the hell is with his blathering about a need to invade Iraq? Hello, George, it was your boys the Saudis that pulled down the towers, not Saddam. Or did you not read your copy of the 9/11 report? Go back to Crawford and peddle that Oedipal nonsense to the lump in the bed).

And yes, I admit it. I have personal reasons for wanting to see a shiny new space program: Iím a big Sci-Fi geek. (Have you seen the Generation II Space Shuttle?!) I grew up watching Buck Rogers and Star Trek with my father on Sunday afternoons. It shaped the way I look at the future. And I donít think Iím alone when I say that Iíve dreamed of living on the Moon since I was a kid and now that itís finally the twenty first century, we should be doing everything we can to make sure those sorts of dreams come true because they ennoble us all.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Music of the Spheres



Before Thanksgiving, the 2blowhards were discussing Greats I don't get, art, film, books, etc that are lauded as culturally significant but, for whatever reason just sort of fly over your head. The discussion was lively with a lot of similar entries: abstract modern art (which I love, personally), rap, James Joyce (who I wish I could enjoy but canít) and a few other obtuse luminaries. I admitted for the first time, publicly, that I don't get the Beatles.

Sure, I understand their significance in the greater scheme of Rock and Roll history, how they have influenced pop music, etc. I even like some of their songs. But I never have understood why my parents' generation considers them the end all, be all of Rock music. The proto-shiznit, if you will. I chalked it up to just having been born in the wrong generation.

When I met my wife, she added a different perspective on the Beatles. Apparently they aren't all that in the Hispanic community. Just a bunch of Anglos pretending to be soulful. My in-laws are decidedly in the Elvis camp. He's like the world's greatest mariachi and for one simple reason: you can dance to his music. Put on Rubber Soul and just try to dance.

Now some people say my generation doesnít have a Beatles.
I once had a discussion with my mother, to the effect that none of the bands around then had the staying power or the influence. I sheepishly agreed then but think differently now.

At the time of that particular conversation, I was fourteen or fifteen, which would have been... (Counting on fingers) around 1990, '91. The Eighties were barely over. Grunge was just happening and Punk and Ska were still underground. It was also before I knew anything really about music. I now have a larger perspective on the matter and can say that while we didn't have any band that was ìBigger Then Jesusî i.e., hyped all to hell as the second coming, we did have our Beatles. And Our Eagles and even our Herman and the Hermits.

Like the Fab Four, the Beastie Boys started out pigeonholed in one particular genre of music, urban hip hop (as opposed the British Invasion Skiffle Rock). They quickly evolved though, becoming something unique and other than the usual eighties hi hop band. Paul's Boutique is their White Album. It introduced the world at large to sampling, which is arguably a good or bad thing; good when it's done well, bad when it's used as an excuse to rip off someone elseís guitar riff or beat (*cauph* Vanilla Ice *caugh*). Also, the Beastie Boys are still around, twenty years later and rumored to be coming out with another album soon. Plus they didn't run off to India and become Yogis. Sure, AdRoc became a Buddhist and the band plays Free Tibet concerts, but it's more a form of activism rather than just a trendy dip in the Eastern Spirituality pool.

Other bands from my generation that are still around: They Might Be Giants, the Cure, Sonic Youth. Siouxsie left the Banshees but her new project, The Creatures is even better. The Pixies broke up but they're reuniting next year proving, as the Eagles did, that occasionally Hell freezes over (Or Kim Deal can get out of rehab).

I have little to say about Nirvana, who many in my generation adore. Curt Cobain is placed on the Icon Shelf along with Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin simply because he died at the same age. Sure, Nevermind was a pretty good album in its day but it has not aged well. You put it on and hear 1993 all over again. Yuck. Besides, they so wanted to be the Pixies. I'd say they are our Herman and the Hermits. They had one or two catchy songs but none of the staying power of some of the other bands of the day. But that's Kurt Cobain's fault. Or Courtney Love's, depending on which way you take your conspiracy theories.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

"He Ain't Kinky, He's My Governor"



As political campaign slogans go, it makes about as much sense as whatever the Bush/Cheney slogan is for '04 (last time I checked it was, "Vote Republican or else" but I could be wrong). But this is no mere flimflammery of a candidacy. This is Kinky Friedman, running for Governor of Texas.


...Kinky Friedman, the irreverent Texas author, songwriter and salsa maker, and self-described "Gandhi-like figure" at the animal rescue ranch he runs here in the Hill Country west of San Antonio, says the message could propel him into the governor's mansion in Austin.

*snip*

...the job ó heavy on ceremony in Texas, where the real power lies in the lieutenant governor's authority to control the Senate agenda ó does not daunt the curly-mopped Mr. Friedman, whose real name is Richard and who gives his age as 59, though adding, "I read at the 61-year level." Given those who have come before him, he said, "how hard could it be?

Still, garbed in cowboy black, bearing a large silver Star of David on a chain and tooling around in an old white Nissan pickup with a Don Quixote statuette on the dashboard and chewed stubs of Cuban cigars in the ashtray, Mr. Friedman does acknowledge some ambivalence about his quest. This is his second run for elected office; in the first, he campaigned in 1986 for justice of the peace in nearby Kerrville, where "my fellow Kerrverts returned me to the private sector."

*snip*

This is a man who, once he makes up his mind, is riven by indecision. So, he is often asked, is he serious? "Serious is not a word I would use, because I'm never serious," he said. "Some things are too important to be taken seriously." But, he said, "an alarming number of people think I could win."

"The question," he added, "is whether my candidacy is a joke, or the current crop of politicians is the joke."


He's got a point. I mean after the debacle in California, which gave us Governor Schwarzenegger, how could this be any worse? In my opinion, it would probably be better but than I'm a fan of the Kinkster, who's been a progressive activist since the sixties and genuinely likes people, horses and armadillos. Plus, being Jewish it's extremely unlikely that he would make any offhanded compliments about Hitler.

Snarky jokes aside, Governor Arnold has opened the proverbial box of Pandora, and whether we like it or not we now have to seriously consider the reality of Governor Kinky, Senator Jerry Springer, President J Lo and whatever other nonsense comes our way. Some say this is the end of Western Civilization or the collapse of our Democratic Process. At the very least, it is the Interesting Times of the old Chinese Curse. Personally, I think the advent of Celebrity Politicians will finally show just how ludicrous politics always has been. They certainly can't be any worse than the legions of lawyers and failed businessmen who have co-opted our policy making for the last two hundred years.

And if it really is the end of Western Civilization as we know it, all the better; wouldn't you rather we went out with bread and circuses instead of the long feared and hoped for atomic pissing match?

Monday, December 01, 2003

Scientific Method



We all had a gut feeling but in this crazy modern world, faith is not enough. Thankfully, Google offers conclusive proof: George W. Bush is a miserable failure.

Lament of the Unread



John Lennon (no, not that one, this one) talks about being the dreaded pariah that is a midlist author. For those of you who don't know what a midlister is, it's an author that is not a best seller, just a consistent seller. Ray Bradbury has for many decades been the king of the midlist authors. And we bow to him, humbly. J. Robert Lennon's books don't fetch the ey-popping advance dollars with all the zeros that Stephen King does but he's considered to be an up and coming voice in literature. So why the big discrepency? if he's so great why isn't he on the best seller shelf next to the Likes of J.K. Rowling and Michael Chabon?


"The sort of books that critics admire and the sort of book people want to buy are sometimes the same thing but often are not," he said. "Hard-nosed satirical dark comedy does not sell too strongly these days ... it's hard to break out beyond a few thousand readers with that type of hero."

On top of that, Baker said young male authors face a bigger obstacle -- the majority of fiction readers are middle-aged women. "More than 60 percent of fiction is bought by women and most of that by women aged between 35 and 55. Men are not big fiction readers."

Some authors of dark satire, like Chuck Palahniuk and Irvine Welsh, have managed to notch up best sellers. But they typically rise to star status after their books become hit movies like "Fight Club" and "Trainspotting."

*snip*

Lennon's "The Funnies" has been optioned by New York director Tom DiCillo known for "Living in Oblivion," but it remains to be seen whether it ever makes it to the screen.

Changes in book selling has also made it harder for unknown writers to reach the top. Publishers now have to pay thousands of dollars to chain book stores to get titles prominently displayed in stores and featured in newspaper ads -- a dynamic that forces publishers to focus marketing budgets only on authors they are almost certain will turn a profit.


The little bit about how publishers are beholden to chain stores is really the point. When books are seen as just another commodity to be sold, like hardware or, as has increasingly become the case, a luxury item with a hefty price tag, often times publishers at the request of Booksellers will promote less capable but more palatable authors, in order to raise the profit margins. Now there is a fuzzy area where art and commerce at least shake hands and agree to get along for the sake of the children but it's a difficult balance to strike.


"I have a great idea for a murder mystery," Lennon said. "But knowing me ... I will have to have some sort of literary conceit going on in the book. I'll ruin my bestseller possibility by page 10."


Via Bookslut