Sunday, February 29, 2004

Cosmonaut Rick Reports from the Mothership



What our dear friend Rick "Stop humping my leg! Ok, you can hump a little longer..." Santorum said on the 700 Club:

[T]he consequence is very clear. Marriage loses its significance. People will stop getting married. Homosexuals will not get married; heterosexuals will stop getting married. And that to me is the real threat to the American family and to the culture generally.

That's some ironclad logic there, Rick: if gays get married than they won't get married. He's not only licked the toad, he's started reading Quantum Physics texts.

Next he'll describe how in a parallell universe, where homosexuality is the norm, it will be straits who are demanding the right to marry, and theparallell Rick Santorum will be in favor of that, ergo, in this universe, our Rick Santorum is actually a hip progressive activist fighting for marriage rights for downtrodden heteros.Makess perfect sense.

Citizens! To the Printing Presses!



The federal government [...] has warned publishers they may face grave legal consequences for editing manuscripts from Iran and other disfavored nations, on the ground that such tinkering amounts to trading with the enemy.


Anyone who publishes material from a country under a trade embargo is forbidden to reorder paragraphs or sentences, correct syntax or grammar, or replace "inappropriate words," according to several advisory letters from the Treasury Department in recent months.

Adding illustrations is prohibited, too. To the baffled dismay of publishers, editors and translators who have been briefed about the policy, only publication of "camera-ready copies of manuscripts" is allowed.

This is just the latest part of a disturbing trend in anti-intellectualism that this administration seems to have embraced wholeheartedly. From the shoehorning of science to fit their ideiologies (when they donít just ignore it all together) to the blatant and easily refuted lies that contradict widely known facts, BushCo. has repeadedly and shamelessly attempted to undermine all forms of thought, research and expression that do not conform with their narrow views by labelling it as treason. And more to the point, George Bush seems to hate anyone smarter than him, which, as we all know is just about everyone. So if he canít win in an honest battle of the wits, heíll simply make us all witless.

So what if a researcher in Iran comes up with a new innovative Cancer treatment? Are we suposed to dismiss it as ìJunk Terrorist Scienceî? What if a North Korean expat living in France writes the next great novel illuminating the suffering if his native land? Do we write it off as ìTerrorist Propaganda,î close our eyes and plug our ears and pretend it doesnít exist because it wasnít written by a White Christian?

Because really, thatís what this ammounts to, censorship of forign and ethnic ideas. It will never work of course. Because if it isnít published here, itíll be published in Canada, or Great Britain and then we can just order it through Amazon.uk. Or weíll start an underground printing press, smuggling foriegn manuscripts into the country and printing them in our garages and handing them out on street corners in the middle of the night.

BushCo. will have to burn down the printing presses and shut off the internet to stop these ideas form reaching our shores. And donít think they wouldnít try. Because the next amendment he backs will be the one repealing our right to read and think for ourselves, and itíll be called the Freedom of the Press Amendment.

maybe I'm over reacting. maybe I'm fuming fust to fume. Or maybe our leaders are trying to drag us back to the Dark Ages. I'd like to think they wouldn't be that dim witted but the sheer lack of luminosity of their thoughts never ceases to amaze me. I'm convinced, now more than ever that Bush would declare the world flat again if he thought their was some politcal ground to be gained form it.

~from Corrente, Making Light and others.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

The Purge Continues



I have so far deleted IE from my Mac and am currently in the process of backing up my e-mail from Hotmail so that the account be be deactivated. Yesterday I downloaded a text editor called Tex-Edit Plus, which is half way between a bare bones text editor and word processor. It's working fine for now but I will need a full word-processor soon. Luckily there are a number of cheep alternatives to MS Word like Appleworks, Mellel and a number of shareware apps that look intriguing, such as Bookends and Reference Miner.

Appleworks is b far the most well known (and expensive) of the word processing apps. oddly enough it also has the lowest rating of all the other apps Iíve looked at. Itís still better rated than MS Word but every review of Mellel iíve read has been a rave.

This got me to thinking. MS Word is the ìindustry standardî the app everyone uses. Itís also a piece of shit. Itís an expensive, behemoth of a program (it uses far more megs of RAM to run than any other Word processor app out there. Just check the tech specs and youíll see what I mean). And it has a lot of utterly useless deelyboppers that no one ever uses. So why is it so popular?

Mostly I think it is due to the relentless promoting that Microsoft does of all their software. That, and the monopolistic habit of bundling their crappy software with every PC on the market. Most people donít realize their are alternatives that are cheeper, faster and more user friendly. Yeah, yo have to go look for them and initially, the search feels like dealing in drugs. You have to go down shady alleys and talk to some people whose reputation is unknown in order to get the stuff youríre looking for. This analogy falls short though because unlike drugs, alternative software is cheep. Mellel costs $29. Tex-Edit Plus is shareware, with a recommended donation of $15. Compare this with the student version of MS Office (you have to buy the whole suite) which costs $149.95 or the regular version which is $399.95.

Of course if anyoneís looked at the skyrocketing prices in Prescription meds these days, maybe the comparison is more accurate than I thought.

For the price of the student version of MS Office, you can get ahold of half a dozen smaller, cheeper faster apps that do the same thing (thereís even a shareware app that converts documents from Mac format to Word format and back again so cross platform issues are eliminated). All it takes is an afternoonís search on the Internet. Or just go to Versiontracker.com, youíre one stop shop for MS alternatives for both the Mac and PC.

Iíll stop prostelatizing now, I promise.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Friday Comic Blogging



You may have heard by now that the Great Will Eisner has a new comic book called the Plot, which takes on that most persistent of fraudulent propaganda, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Several years ago I had the honor of taking to Mr. Eisner. It was a brief moment, standing around with several wide eyed art students, chatting with the man. He had came to my College to give a talk, as we were the only school in the country that offered a degree in Sequential Art (that's comic books). He was sharp, witty and full of ideas, a real inspiration to everyone who ever had a passion to do something creative for a living, in spite of all the reasons in the world not to. He and Ray Bradury are two of the biggest influences in my life. Oddly enough both are the same age and both have new books out.

I hope to be as creative and full of life at 86.

P.S. I've added Scott McCloud to the blogroll, wherein you can get a regular dose of comic book goodness.

P.P.S. There is also a new collection of Ray Bradbury stories adapted into comics by such artists as Mike Mignola, P. Craig Russell, and Dave McKean.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The Vanity of Slaves



The Romans named their slaves after gods. It amused them to issue commands to Jupiter and Mars, Juno and Pluto. Favorite slaves were given special privileges; they could finish the master's left over wine and dress them for parties.

Scipio Julius Africanius was a Praetor in the Roman Legion, a friend of senators and even dined on occasion with Caesar Augustus. He had a favorite slave named Apollo who, according to rumor, shared the general's bed almost as often as he made it. Apollo was often heard lording his status over the other slaves of Scipio's house. He was the general's favorite. Still, he couldn't go anywhere without the master's permission, could never be free, or vote or marry.

When a slave thinks his chains are jewelry, he'll never be free. He may be comfortable, or at least more so than the scullery girl or the stable boy but he is still a slave, any way you look at it.

Tell me, Andy (or is it Apollo?) how does it feel to be the master's favorite?

Storytime 7:
Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart*



One day, after thirteen rude customers in a row, a waitress named Astrid throws a plate of clams in the face of a fat man from Laredo who keeps calling her Marry Anne. She promptly stomps into the kitchen, kisses a bus boy named Henry full on the mouth and slams the door behind her. After tossing a few clothes and her cat, Lucy into a suitcase, she hails a taxi down to the docks, walks strait out onto the planks and boards the first boat heading anywhere.

It turns out the boat is captained by a Cuban Ex Patriot named Jorge Veluptus. He is heading for Havana with a boatload of illicit knobs. He wants to turn on all the down-trodden peoples of his homeland and start a revolution. Astrid and Jorge make wild passionate love on the deck of the ship, named the Insolent Navigator. Jorge names Lucy Second Mate.

Astridís unholy temper and boiler room lingo frightens the crew, all of whom are one-legged former whalers who fear that having a loose woman aboard is a sure sign of doom. Omens of Giant waves, midnight squalls and unmitigated swooning fill their sleepless nights. But they reach Havana without so much as a rain shower blotting their voyage. Jorge Voluptus locks the sailors in the hold and sinks the boat. There is no room for Insolent Navigators or superstitious one-legged sailors in their world.

They take to the streets of Havana, Astrid and Jorge, drunk with love, swilling Molotov cocktails, holding roses between their teeth, mowing down police with tommy guns loaded with silver bullets.

Astrid seduces young boys and shy, bisexual girls to their cause. All she has to do is lift her skirt and they fall madly in love with her vagina.

A blind woman selling paieya gives Jorge Che Guevaraís old beret.

Lucy rouses the hackles of every tomcat from Havana to Guantanamo Bay. The cats are the foot soldiers of The End, racing calico bedlam through the palace and hissing at all those foolish enough to stand in their path.

When Castro sees them coming, he pisses himself. In his dotage, he mistakes Jorge for the ghost of his old comrade in arms, come back from the dead at last, leading an army of Left Libertarians and mad cats to dance on the broken back of his failed idealism. Fidel weeps. Astrid takes pity on him.

After the revolution, she and Jorge let Fidel live out his last days in the spare bedroom of their little hut on the beech. The sound of their midnight frolicking in the surf is the last he ever hears. He dies, quiet and repentant in his sleep, Lucy the cat curled up on his fat belly. Free at last.

_________
*After Camper Van Beethoven

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Right Thing



Everyone in the blogosphere is talking about President Bush's backing of the blatent idiocy Marriage Amendment. many are angry at this news but I'd like to take this opportunity to defend our cowardly brave President. You have to give him credit. No other Dictator President but George W. Bush would take such a dramatic and bold stand against homosexual citizens activist judges demanding the right to mary the one they love forced sodomy. It's really amazing to see such an ignorant motherfucker articulate man make an obvious political gesture ardent and heartfelt plea for bigotry kindness and decency in these troubled times. The frothing redneck hatemongers American People have spoken. They want the Government interfearing in personal matters to take a stand, to stem the tide of equality depravity which threatens to undermine their stranglehold on power our Democracy.

Take Off the Wig, George, It Just Makes You Look Like a Dandy



This headline sums it up nicely: Education Secretary Paige calls teachers union "terrorist organization" And all because the NEA doesn't want to put their weight behind Bush's little tip of the hat to the horrors of Victorian Education, No Child Left Behind. Or as it is commonly refered to around the Library, Nicholas NCLB.

The Dikensian acranym would almosty be funny if these people weren't so dedicated to turning us into uneducated peasants. They need to really study their History though, having forgoten that those were just the people their Monarchist forebearers lost the revolution to all those years ago.

Get over it, George. The Enlightenment is here to stay. Pack up your King James version of the Constitution and your autographed copy of the Ten Commandments and hike it back to Crawford where you can be lord of your castle and the only sorry so-and-so that has to put up with your ass is Laura.

_________
~Thanks to Teresa Nielsen Hayden for the link.

The Simulated President
Part Two: Save Us, Arumcheck!



In Part One we compared George W. Bush to that fictional rascal, Furbish Lousewart V. In part Two, we will look towards another alternate universe, Philip K. Dick's Radio free Albemuth in which Ferris F. Freemont cons his way into the white house through assassination and voter fraud. And he where's a cowboy hat.

Ostensibly, Ferris F. Freemont is Dick's caricature of Nixon. But really, if Dick were alive today, he would stand up and say, "Holly shit, Man! What the fuck is wrong with that Bush guy? It's like he read my book as a how to manual!" Then he'd fall back into his chair and sob for us all.

There are worse novels to live in than one written by Philip K. Dick. That might not seem like a compliment but imagine living in The Brothers Karamazov or anything by Stephen King. At least in a Phil Dick novel, we know we're in for some weird shit. True, there may be no way out of the Black Iron Prison, (short of help from a kindly Extraterrestrial Satellite named Arumcheck, beaming the voice of God into our dreams. Until a Russian ICBM blows it of the stratosphere) But at least it gives context to our madness. That's something, at least.

Ferris F. Freemont's most notable contribution to the American Way of Life is the founding of a new Government Department, the Friends of America, whose job is basically to spy on everyone. But not in that kooky behind the scenes, James Bond sort of way but in the overt, We're-Totally-Aware-of-your-Information-and-have-a-nice-day sort of way. They are ever so polite about their intrusion into your personal space and overthrow of your basic constitutional rights. Oh, and Freemont also starts secret concentration camps in Montana where dissenters where rounded up and sent and ultimately executed. Now I know what you're thinking. "That's so inaccurate! And you're right. Bush put his concentration Camps in Cuba.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

My Evergrowing Reading List



I've just ordered Alan Moore's Voice of the Fire.

"Part mythic cycle, part fictional history of Moore's hometown, part collection of fireside ghost stories, Voice of the Fire is as clever and well-crafted as Moore's other genre experiments, and by taking his dialogue out of word-balloons and panel arrangements, it gives his limitless literary ambition room to stretch out into new and fascinating forms." ~Tasha Robinson, The Onion

I'm intrigued. I'll have a full report once I finish Quicksilver, The Tahckery T. Lambshead Guide et al. and Grad School.

One Word Created the Universe and that Word was CUNT



Last night, some friends and I went to see the Vagina Monologues. We had a great time yelling the word, ìCunt!î in public. For those who havenít seen the Vagina Monologues, this is a major theme of the production, reclaiming the supposedly vulgar words used to describe female anatomy. It isnít just the word Cunt that has the backhanded distinction of being considered ìdirtyî but most words having to do with female anatomy. As a big fan of female anatomy, I find this appalling and hereby do my part as an enlightened male and Cunt fan to reclaim all the dirty words. I want to educate the children of the world, let them know that Cunt is a beautiful word. Cunt is soft and hard at the same time. Cunt knocks you on your ass and then licks your chin. Cunt can unbuckle your belt with its tongue. Cunt fondles your balls with one hand while talking on the telephone with your mother. Cunt knows all the rules to Monopoly but cheats anyway. Cunt wears combat boots and fishnet stockings, stares you in the eye, licks its lips and giggles.

Afterwards we went to a diner and discussed many things but most importantly what a male version of the Vagina Monologues might be like. We decided it would involve a lot of chanting penises and probably some bawdy humor about toilets and maybe a part dedicated to the joys of wacking off. Definetly something involving the joys and celebration of the male orgasm. the Vagina Monologues got us thinking at the very least about gender roles and our place in society because of them. It also hit home the horrible condition that many women in various parts of the world endure all because of humanityís propensity for violence.

One of the most rousing moments of the show was when the vagina Liberation Army was lined up, reciting what their Cunt would say if it could talk, what it would wear and what it smells like. One of the women said hers smelled like, ìthe top two democratic presidential candidates; Bush must Go!î

Everyone in the auditorium clapped and yelled in agreement. Everyone. Now grant it, not too many conservatives would be caught dead at a show that is all about women feeling empowered as sexual and unique individuals. Jesus doesnít like to be on the bottom, and women shouldnít talk about such things in public, after all. But with that many people unashamedly hooting at the prospect of ejecting Bush out of office onto his pasty GOP ass, well it turned my head around. Iím no longer afraid that Bush might win. I know heíll loose. The only way heíll stay in the oval office is through criminal behavior. Which isnít a threat that should be taken lightly, Diebold machines or no.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Ideological Purge



PinkDreamPoppies over at Alas, a Blog is in the midst of a Great Purge of all Microsoft software from her computer. I have been contemplating a similar purge for about four months now.

Doing a quick assessment of my hard drive, I find that the only MS proprietary software on it is Internet Explorer and MS Office. I never use IE (I have a Powerbook G4 from Apple which uses Safari as its primary browser. Being a Mac user is what also makes it easier for me to consider ditching MS entirely) So I could dump IE five minutes ago which would only leave the Office Suite. This I would need to replace as I use Word for all of my writing. Luckily the newest version of AppleWorks is crossplatform and can easily read my word files as well as generate RTFs and PDFs.

Soon I shall purchase Appleworks, which would then only leave my hotmail account as the last lone MS application I use. Any suggestions from the computer savvy folk out there in the blogosphere as to which free e-mail service I should convert to?

_________
Update: I just did a search of my hard drive for any Microsoft Applications. I expected to find the various office apps, and did but I also found something unexpected called the Microsoft Database Daemon. The weird thing is, when I looked at the path to see where this app was located it wasn't visible. The path went: harddrive/Microsoft Office X/Office/Microsoft Database Daemon. But when I went to check in the Office folder, it listed everything else int here, but the Database Daemon. A quick Google Search revealed that the MDD is some sort of database managing program that is always on, even when all MS applications are closed. I don't know about you but I'm not too pleased about the idea that some MS app is creeping around unseen, managing databases without me ever even knowing it's there. One more reason to go MS free.

Update2: IE now rests in a shallow grave in my garden. Next years tomatoes should be big and juicy.

Update3: I have done away with my Hotmail account and started a new Yahoo account specifically for the blog. It's linked on the sidebar but in case you're too lazy to swivel your eyes over there, it's invisiblelibrary@yahoo.com.

Update 4: My backup browser is now Mozilla Camino. Damn is it fast!

The Simulated President
Part One: The Revolution of Lowered Expectations



In deference to the Fanatical Right, I will no longer compare George W. Bush to Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Pol Pot or any of the more colorful and flamboyant dictators of the twentieth Century. However dramatic (and tentatively accurate) these comparisons may be, they fall short of their point. Once the statement, "Bush is like Hitler" is made, you can almost hear minds closing and making any sort of rational argument from that point forward is a Sisyphean task, to say the least. Not only do we have to contend with the quibbling over what "is" Nazism or Fascism as a sociopolitical movement, we have to deal with ontological categories as a whole; are these ideas two branches of the same thing, or are they Left or Right of the political seesaw? Ultimately such questions are pure sophism, or worse philosphistry, which is the creative act of dressing up half baked arguments as philosophical discourse on the level of what did Nietzsche really mean by "the Abyss" and can one get a decent bowl of pad tai noodles when you get there?

So, to avoid pissing in anyone's porridge, I will instead take the safe route and compare George W. Bush to only fictional presidents. By their nature of being fictional, there's no real emotional investment in these "people" and so the accuracy of their political positions are of a symbolic nature only. (We could argue that Bush's policies are equally symbolic in that they have no bearing on his actions but that's a different essay altogether).

The first fictional president we will look at is Furbish Lousewart V. from the Schrodingerís Cat Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson.

By his own admission, Wilson made President Lousewart a parody of Ralph Nader at his most dogmatic. He is thus, politically speaking an Extreme Lefty, but only superficially. Lousewart has a supreme blind spot when it comes to his ideological purity (his party in fact is called the Purity of Ecology Party) and cannot admit that there is an authority higher than his own moral compass. GWB, on the other hand is bound by his own pseudo-religious hierarchy and thus must, as an Evangelical Christian, at least keep up the pretense that there is a higher moral authority than himself, i.e. God. But it is merely a pretense. If we were to believe for even a moment that the President of the United States, Leader of the Free World genuinely believed that his power and authority was bestowed upon him by the invisible King of the Angels, who lives in Cloud Cuckoo Land, waited upon by flitting Cherubim as He sips nectar from the teet of a virgin, we would effectively and collectively admit that the president is certifiably out of his frickiní mind. Then weíd really be in trouble.

So we take it as axiomatic that Bushís religiosity is merely a pretense, a sham to keep the frothing religious yahoos who comprise his voting base happy. In reality, Bush is merely an egomaniac, like Lousewart who is incapable of admitting that his notions about how the world works might be a little out of sync with consensual reality. Likewise, in Wilsonís novel, Lousewart is only ostensibly a Lefty. His dogmatic infallibility complex takes him round the bend into the realm of authoritarian Leftism, which is identical to Authoritarian Rightism (hence the confusion in some peopleís minds concerning the political orientation of the Nazis. After all, theyíre National Socialists, arenít they? And Socialists, as we all know, are Big Fat Liberals, arenít they?) Lousewart famously staffs his cabinet with yogis and gurus, and initiates measures to indoctrinate schoolchildren with Hatha Yoga and Vegitarianism. Bush fills Circuit Court appointments with fellow Evangelicals, starts faith based initiatives, school voucher programs that encourage the wealthy to pull their children out of Public schools and ship them off to Private religious schools and he has no problems with the Ten Commandments being displayed in school rooms and courtrooms. Yoga or prayer. Whatís the difference, really?

The overall ideology of the Lousewart Administration is based on the Revolution of Lowered Expectations, which Wilson elaborates on further in this essay [scroll down to third item]:

...For perspective, it should be remembered that the ideology of Lowered Expectations arrived on the historical scene immediately after the upsurge of Rising Expectations. That is, after the Utopian hopes of the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, almost as if in reaction, an employee of the British East India Company, Thomas Malthus, created the first "scientific" argument that the ideals of those documents could never be achieved. Malthus had discovered that at his time world population was growing faster than known resources, and he assumed that this would always be true, and that misery would always be the fate of the majority of humanity.

Taking Malthusian bitterness as gospel, Lousewart outlaws all Non Ecological Science, underfunds Ecological Science to the point of starvation and generally guts the Social Services, in order to provide that feeling of third world suffering that is spiritually gratifying.

Change a few details and that might as well be Bushís current Economic Stimulus Package. Unless of course, you think working at McDonaldís is a manufacturing job. (Under Lousewart, the eating of meat was eventually outlawed, creating a black market cousin of the prohibition Speakeasy, the ìSteakeasyî where one could get a Big Mac for $7).

In Part two we will examine a parallel universe dangerously close to our own, in which President Farris F. Freemont, a paranoid incompetent, has managed to scheme his way into office through assassination and voter fraud. Did I mention he wears a cowboy hat?

_________
Thanks to the gang over at the Liberal Coalition for their helpful suggestions.

Friday, February 20, 2004

BushCo. vs. Science



In a previous post, I alluded to BushCo.'s problem with spinning scientific evidence they don't like into Frankenstein versions of the truth, which they can then easily discredit to the semi-literate masses who are more preoccupied with contacting their guardian angel with a ouija board. Turns out I'm not the only one picking on our favorite C student and his jock buddies:

WASHINGTON - A group of more than 60 top U.S. scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates and several science advisers to past Republican presidents, on Wednesday accused the Bush administration of manipulating and censoring science for political purposes.

In a 46-page report and an open letter, the scientists accused the administration of "suppressing, distorting or manipulating the work done by scientists at federal agencies" in several cases. The Union of Concerned Scientists, a liberal advocacy group based in Cambridge, Mass., organized the effort, but many of the critics aren't associated with it.

[edit]

"I don't recall it ever being so blatant in the past," said Princeton University physicist Val Fitch, a 1980 Nobel Prize winner who served on a Nixon administration science advisory committee. "It's just time after time after time. The facts have been distorted."

White House [Science] adviser Marburger, also a physicist, said, "I don't think that these incidents or issues add up to strong support for the accusation that this administration is deliberately acting to undermine the processes of science."


He then proceeded with his afternoon ritual of selecting leaches for Vice President Cheneyís pre-dinner blood letting.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Paging Dr. Jesus



From Scopes.com:

President Bush has announced his plan to select Dr. W. David Hager to head up the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. The committee has not met for more than two years, during which time its charter has lapsed. As a result, the Bush Administration is tasked with filling all eleven positions with new members. This position does not require Congressional approval.

[edit]

Dr. Hager is a practicing OB/GYN who describes himself as "pro-life" and refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women. Hager is the author of "As Jesus Cared for Women: Restoring Women Then and Now." The book blends biblical accounts of Christ healing women with case studies from Hager's practice. In the book Dr. Hager wrote with his wife, entitled "Stress and the Woman's Body," he suggests that women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome should seek help from reading the bible and praying. As an editor and contributing author of "The Reproduction Revolution: A Christian Appraisal of Sexuality, Reproductive Technologies and the Family," Dr. Hager appears to have endorsed the medically inaccurate assertion that the common birth control pill is an abortifacient.

For some women, such as those with certain types of diabetes and those undergoing treatment for cancer, pregnancy can be a life-threatening condition. We are concerned that Dr. Hager's strong religious beliefs may color his assessment of technologies that are necessary to protect women's lives or to preserve and promote women's health. Hager's track record of using religious beliefs to guide his medical decision-making makes him a dangerous and inappropriate candidate to serve as chair of this committee. Critical drug public policy and research must not be held hostage by antiabortion politics. Members of this important panel should be appointed on the basis of science and medicine, rather than politics and religion. American women deserve no less.

[edit]

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. SEND THIS TO EVERY PERSON WHO IS CONCERNED ABOUT WOMEN'S RIGHTS.
2. OPPOSE THE PLACEMENT OF THIS MAN BY CONTACTING THE WHITE HOUSE AND TELL THEM HE IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE ON ANY LEVEL.

Please email President Bush at president@whitehouse.gov or call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414 and say "I oppose the appointment of Dr. Hager to the FDA Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. Mixing religion and medicine is unacceptable. Using the FDA to promote a political agenda is inappropriate and seriously threatens all women's health."

Story Time 6:
Morning Glory



That morning, Emmett Frog awoke early, showered, shaved, had a good breakfast, brushed his teeth, loaded his gun and walked out of his apartment onto a crowded street and pulled the trigger six times. His first few shots hit nothing. The last two winged a nun and ruined the shoulder of a used car salesman. Methodically, Emmett emptied the shells from his revolver and reloaded one bullet at a time. He proceeded to fire randomly into the screaming and rapidly scattering crowd. He did this two more times before the police arrived. It took thirteen bullets, fired by five officers to finally stop Emmett Frog. Before they did, he managed to kill five people and injure nine others. Among the dead was a bartender at a local restaurant named John Calamari.

When the coroner examined the body of Emmett frog, he found lodged in his brain pain, a seed, which had recently sprouted into a orchid. The coroner could not explain how the seed had become lodged in Emmett Frogís brain, or how it had managed to grow into a full sized flower, petals and all with no sunlight. Sure, the brain provided ample nutrients, being mostly water and protein but could enough sunlight enter the skull through a manís eyes to provide a seed enough warmth and encouragement to sprout? And how had a orchid managed to grow so large within the confines of one manís cramped and humid skull?

With so little known about the hows and whys of this peculiar flower, the coroner could only speculate:

Like a green house, Emmett Frogís skull had nurtured this plant to the point where it strangled that part of his brain responsible for higher reasoning, logic and appreciation of the arts. Also, a long fingerlike root was found surrounding the part of the brain that governs sexual response, which would account for Mr. Frogís enormous erection and sloppy grin.

However it got there, the flower was listed as an accomplice in the murder of five individuals and a root cause of the violent act, if not the mastermind of the whole sordid event.

Because of a peculiar and old fangled law, the orchid could in that county be charged as an accessory to murder. The District Attorney was at first reluctant to file charges against a plant but the victimís families demanded justice be served, one way or another.

So the orchid was tried, convicted on five counts of accessory to first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole (Haxan County does not consider any living creature with an IQ bellow sixty to be of sufficient sentience to have full knowledge of its actions and so the orchid was ineligible for the Death Penalty. Had the crime occurred in Texas, however, the flower would have been sent to the electric chair, post haste).

The orchid was well cared for by its cellmate, Danny Goodboy, who was serving two years for taking a í76 Pinto for a joyride without having benefit of being the vehicleís owner. Upon his release, Danny found gainful employment as a gardener at a nursery just outside of town where he showed an uncanny aptitude for rehabilitating members of the family Orchis.

The orchid drowned six months later when its new cellmate tried to smoke one of its leaves and set off the sprinklers on that cellblock.

Monday, February 16, 2004

"The shows they censored suggest a perspective that is Talibanesque"



The Bush administration has decided that people with bad hearing have bad judgment, too, and need special guidance from the federal government.

So the U.S. Department of Education is declaring about 200 television programs inappropriate for closed-captioning and denying federal grant requests to make them accessible to the hearing-impaired.

[edit]

The government is refusing to caption Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, apparently fearing that the deaf would fall prey to witchcraft if they viewed the classic sitcoms.

Banning Scoobie-Doo doesn't sound like anything too bad but these are the same folks who started an investigation over a tit shown on TV while those who outed a CIA Agent get a shrug of the shoulders and half a column on page D12. I'd hardly be the first to point out that there is an extreme and disturbing disconnect between those in power and the people they govern. But this is getting to the point where it seriously may jepordize not just what we watch on Television, but how we conduct public discourse.

The Government has no business policing what citizens see and hear (or don't hear, as the case may be). We take this as axiomatic but then just sigh and say, "Oh, that George!" and go on to watch Charmed (assuming you aren't hard of hearing. Then it's reruns of Davy and Goliath for you). And this is the sort of attitude that the people who make such laws are counting on, good old fashioned, homegrown American Apathy. Because after all its just a few deaf kids and the elderly. Who cares, right? Well you should. Because after John Ashcroft gets through reading confidential records of Doctors who perform abortions he might decide that anyone who watches Alias might get some terrorist activity related program ideas into their heads and then it'll be no more James Bond movies. Better nix the Austin Powers marathon, too. Just to be safe.

And that's really what it all boils down to, an overreaching desire for safety in a world that never promised us fields of lilies and happy kittens 24/7. It's ironic that this hyperactive desire for Safety Above all else spreads only fear and insecurity. People who are afraid that what they watch and listen too might be used against them won't watch or hear anything. Just to be safe. Which is mighty convenient as docility and fear of one's neighbors is a mighty convenient trait to have when running a police state. Just ask Uncle Joe.

Just when you think that BushCo. can't surprise you any further, they make watching TV an act of rebellion.

~Link via Neil Gaiman

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Update 2/17/04: Fellow LC member Scott at The Gamer's Nook has more information on this matter.

Friday, February 13, 2004

The Very First Friday the 13th



The Knights Templar were an unusual order in that they were not merely knights but monks as well. Founded by Hugh de Paynes in 1118 as a charitable order, the Knights took up residence in the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem and dedicated themselves to protecting pilgrims who ventured to the Holy land during the Crusades. They became wealthy, which made them envied and branched out into the money lending business, which made them powerful, so much so that Pope innocent II granted them immunity from excommunication. But with power comes politics. When they started to build their own castles in Europe and cart around their treasure in a private fleet of ships, to and from secret ports, they became more than envied by the kings of Europe. They became feared. Especially by King Philip ìThe Fairî of France.

On Friday the 13th 1307, 123 members of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon, including Grand master, Jacque de Molay, were arrested and subjected to torture until they confessed to a number of crimes. These included blasphemy, black magic, homosexuality, heresy, spitting on the crucifix and idolatry, specifically, worshipping a severed head.

Some theories suggest that the head was ornamental, either brass or wood, either with two faces or just one, maybe female, maybe male, possibly with four legs. Other stories suggest that the head was none other than that of John the Baptist and, if the stars were right, would speak in an oracular voice, predicting events cosmic and miniscule. Still others suggested that it was not a head at all, that this particular story was merely Inquisitorís mythologizing, that in fact the Templars had worshipped a small black doll that was an idol of a devil named Baphomet.

In 1314 Jacque de Molay renounced his confession, declaring that the various charges were erroneous and extracted under duress of torture, especially the charges of Black magic. For his honesty, he was burned at the stake and the Order of the Knights templar were disbanded. Curiously though, from the stake, as the flames licked his boots, Jacque de Molay cursed the Pope and the King of France, inviting them to join him in death within the year. Pope Clement V died one month later and King Philip IV, seven months after that.

Most historians regard the allegations of Satanism and idolatry as trumped up charges by a jealous royalty in order to seize the wealth of the Templars. Very few have anything to say on the happenstance of the predicted deaths of the Pope and king of France, other than vague allusions and nervous jokes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Cardinal Gibson's Most Recent Bull



Mel Gibson: "My Wife is Going to Hell."

"...My wife is a saint. She's a much better person than I am. Honestly. She's, like, Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it's just not fair if she doesn't make it, she's better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it."

Yes, because that's exactly what Jesus taught: It doesn't matter if you're a good person, or kind and gentle and pray and believe in God and act according to the principles he taught. No. What's important is that you do what the guy in the funny hat tells you, or else it's doggypaddling for eternity in rivers of flaming shit.

And people wonder why I don't like Organized Religion very much. It's exactly because it leads to idiotic things like the above proclamation from Cardinal Gibson. If this is what he says about his own wife, imagine what he thinks about Jewish people and ask yourself if there's a way even a little bit of this closeminded, spiteful rhetoric didn't make it into the movie he paid for out of his own pocket and tried to get Papal approval of.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Winter's A-Comin'



Over at CommonDreams there's a fascinating and startling report on Global Warming (you know, that spooky superstitious stuff that our Worldly and Wise president doesn't believe in?). Turns out, things could be a little worse than we thought. Turns out A New Ice Age could be as little as 2 years away.

...[I]f enough cold, fresh water coming from the melting polar ice caps and the melting glaciers of Greenland flows into the northern Atlantic, it will shut down the Gulf Stream, which keeps Europe and northeastern North America warm. The worst-case scenario would be a full-blown return of the last ice age - in a period as short as 2 to 3 years from its onset - and the mid-case scenario would be a period like the "little ice age" of a few centuries ago that disrupted worldwide weather patterns leading to extremely harsh winters, droughts, worldwide desertification, crop failures, and wars around the world.

[edit]

For early humans living in Europe 30,000 years ago - when the cave paintings in France were produced - the weather would be pretty much like it is today for well over a thousand years, giving people a chance to build culture to the point where they could produce art and reach across large territories.

And then a particularly hard winter would hit.

The spring would come late, and summer would never seem to really arrive, with the winter snows appearing as early as September. The next winter would be brutally cold, and the next spring didn't happen at all, with above-freezing temperatures only being reached for a few days during August and the snow never completely melting. After that, the summer never returned: for 1500 years the snow simply accumulated and accumulated, deeper and deeper, as the continent came to be covered with glaciers and humans either fled or died out.

Are you listening, George? George!?! Mr. Bush!! Take your nose out of that copy of Bible for Dummies and read some frickin' science!

Most scientists involved in research on this topic agree that the culprit is global warming, melting the icebergs on Greenland and the Arctic icepack and thus flushing cold, fresh water down into the Greenland Sea from the north. When a critical threshold is reached, the climate will suddenly switch to an ice age that could last minimally 700 or so years, and maximally over 100,000 years.

Well, maybe they're just a bunch of pessimists, those cranky scientists. Surely they haven't taken into account our vast technological superiority over our Neanderthal ancestors! What with all that oil just waiting to be drilled and burned to keep our cars running and our homes warm... Why, we could outlast two Ice Ages, back to back! So nothing to worry about. Besides, Jesus is coming back any day now.

Fourteen Thorns on the Stem of the Rose



Theresa Neilsen Hayden, ever the amazing blogger and editor of fantabulous books, has managed to track down Umburto Eco's essay, Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt. I originally read this essay in the pages of the Utne Reader about eight or nine years ago and have been looking for it online for the last three years for reasons that are all too sad and obvious.

For those of us who've read David Neiwert's fantasic Exegesis Rush, Newspeak and Fascism this will be familiar ground. But it being Eco, he of course has his salient points:

In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of fascism, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.

He then lists the fourteen Ur-Fascist categories, explaining each. It's a chilling checklist, one I wish could have remained simply an intellectual curiosity from yesterday, as I thought it to be nearly a decade ago when I first read it. Instead it's all too pointed a reminder of where some people in this country are trying to take us, tomorrow.

Friday, February 06, 2004

War of the Bumble Bees




Morality has very little to do with choosing sides. It can tell us that a given act is dreadful, but it canít tell us whether to say, ëThis is dreadful, therefore Öí or ëThis is dreadful, but Öí We still often believe that we oppose our enemies because of their crimes, and support our allies despite their crimes. I wouldnít be surprised if Margaret Thatcher was quite sincere in condemning ZAPU as a terrorist organization because it shot down a civilian airliner, and in supporting one of the mujahedin factions, despite the fact that it had deliberately blown up a civilian airliner. Sometimes our moral justifications can blunt our moral sense. Think of the incendiary bombings of Germany and Japan. Suppose they were a military necessity. If so, better to accept that what ëour sideí is doing is wrong and do it anyway than to persuade ourselves it is right because it is in a just cause.

~ Ken MacLeod via Theresa Nielsen Hayden at Making Light


I had a conversation last night with a fellow student librarian who explained his pro-Iraq war stance with a similar and equally compelling argument. It boiled down to the notion that while war is awful, (a given) it is not as awful as the slow death by extended sanctions which would have killed far more over a longer period of time (an arguable point but one with some truth in it). He supported the expeditious act of invasion in the hope that it would remove a problem from the world and free a people who could then proceed with self-determination, and do so in a way that was the least bloody. He added a caveat: he would not have supported the war had he known we would have bungled it so horribly in the occupation phase and that the WMDs were a complete and utter fabrication.

This is, as far as I've heard, the most compelling argument for the War in Iraq. I still can't get behind it but I at least see now where he and a few of the other pro-war folk are coming from: bloody war is acceptable if it yields peace and prevents prolonged violence.
This argument at least tries to make sense of a horror, where as all we get out of our leaders is rhetorical blather about "Death to the Evil Doers" and "Down with Terrorism!" Phrases which may make for compelling sound bites but have all the intellectual weight and rational content of bees buzzing in your ear.

I'm not saying I would have bought this argument had George W. Bush given it to us last March. Had he even attempted some version of this, I may have given him a bit more room to maneuver over the issue of cherry picked Intelligence. But he didn't. He didnít even try. And that is the truly sad part of this whole affair. The President of the United States didn't even attempt to rationalize his bloodlust. He just mumbled some buzzwords, smirked for the camera and sent people off to die and then later, tried to backpedal into a week argument about Democratic Self Determination.

Bush, Cheney et al are forever extolling the virtues of our actions, pretending that dropping tons of explosives on civilians is not a morally reprehensible act in itself but instead the complete opposite. BushCo. would have us believe daisy cutters and Moabs are manna from heaven, instead of death from above. This is why I oppose the actions of the Bush Administration, because they are disingenuous. Iíve long since come to accept that politicians will do dastardly deeds in the name of Big Ideas. All I ask is that they own up to it, not pretend that they are saints. All this sanctimonious fiddle faddle does is undermine the brutal truths of their actions and poke holes in their argument. Sorry George. You can't blow off children's arms with cruise missiles and then call it a Humanitarian Mission. Your Red State constituents may buy that, but they're as functionally illiterate as you are.

Perhaps it's easier for me, squarely set in the world of Intelligentsia and Academia to pine over the moral weight of our President's decisions. Maybe if I could just suck it up like a good consumer, think with my gut and get behind the neocolonialism of our current regime, barely concealed racism and all, then I would be spared the agony and the sleepless nights wondering what will become of this country, that country and my life because a few wealthy, white Christian men fear even a moment's introspection. But there inlies the problem. I canít simply shut off my critical thinking skills and go along with the heard mentality. Iíve fought that impulse my whole life, so much so that now it is second nature. And for this, Iím labeled a traitor by the mouth breathers who donít mind a little racism and War for the sake of War (you know, to jump start that all precious economy. ìHoly Mammon, we give this blood sacrifice so that our shares in Halliburton will go up a tenth of a percent. Amen.î)

Or perhaps I'm simply cynical beyond my years.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Like Opening a Door in Your Kitchen and Finding James Bond Shooting It Out with the Marx Brothers



I've been saying for months now, ever since I started working on my MLS that there is no such thing as a conservative librarian. This is, on the surface, a simple truism based on the fact that Librarian types like to read books. Lots of books. And then, to organize them. Reading a lot of books exposes one to a lot of different and often contradictory notions, which in turn requires one to expand the peramaters of their thinking in order to grasp the signifigance of everything read, which in turn, creates a Liberal Worldview. A simple sylogism. We can thus infer that Conservatives don't like to read or else they wouldn't say such idiotic things like "Marriage is a Sacred institution between a man and a woman, therefore I will propose a Constitutional Amendment to this efect so suck on it, all you homos." (I'm paraphrasing, of course).

Well, I was wrong. there are Conservative Librarians. They even have their own website: Shush, the website for the conservative librarian. What, you may ask, does a conservative librarian post about?

The emailer from earlier also pointed out that Laura Bush hasn't been a librarian since '77. I say once a librarian, always a librarian.

Where to begin. This is so wrong on so many levels. First, off, I was born in 1977. I will officially be a librarian sometime in the fall of 2004 or winter of 2005. In 26+ years, there have been a lot of changes in Library Science. I can't underscore this point enough.

When Laura Bush was a Librarian there was no such thing as the World Wide Web. The internet is a HUGE deal for us Librarians because it really, truely and honestly changed everything about the way we do research, catalog and communicate. People in other fields brag about how revolutionary the Internet has been on business, art, communications and the porn industry. Well wrap all that up and tuck it inside Library Science because, seriously, it's a whole new world of Information Access in a Digital Environment (the title of one of my courses this semester).

Now personally, I'd love to sit Mrs. Bush down at a computer terminal and have her preform a command line search of the ERIC database accessed through Dialog. But I'm pretty sure she'd smile vapidly, and rattle off some Bushism about being down home and country-like and could she see a card catalog, pretty please.

My point is, Laura Bush is about as much of a librarian as I am a First Lady.

OK, so maybe I'm just picking on the First Lady. What else do these conservative Librarians write about? Well there's every Librarian's favorite topic these days, the Patriot Act:

They have a page with library signs concerning the Patriot Act. For some reasons people have a problem with the fact that we are not allowed to warn patrons if they have been investigated. It would seem that some librarians would like the right to give a terrorist a heads-up so they can get out of country quick or something worse.

Thast's right. We Liberal Librarians have constructed an elaborate underground railroad designed for the expressed purpose of helping would-be terorroists purge their library records. Sure, they just look like harmless signs, but they're really super secret message encryption devices, flashing subliminal signals in Arabic to our terrroist buddies.

Conservative Librarian. I used to think that was an oxymoron, like Tiny Giant or Compassionate Conservative. Now I know better, and I'll never sleep sound again.

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Updated for clearity and typos

Stuffing the Ballot Box



Not satisfied with the wide open field of wealthy white men (and Al Sharpton) running for president, Norbizness over at Elated Hairy Pumpkin Discotheque and Chandelier Installation Services has posted his alternative write in candidates: George Carlin and Chuck D. Not bad. I'd vote for 'em.

Norbizness insinuates that, by living in Texas, he might as well have fun writing in candidates as the electoral votes will all be going Red anyway. I'm in a similar bind as I live in Georgia (or at least vote there for now). Like Texans, every redneck in Georgia will be voting Bush/ Cheney, hoping to be one of the lucky ones who get that trickle down money. I think they confuse voting with playing the lottery. Either way, far too many people in far to many states will be lining up for their turn to get pissed on by George W. Bush. The sad thing is, they'll call it champagne and beg for more.

If you too live in a Red State, who would you write in?

Currently, I'm leaning towards Margaret Cho and Robert Anton Wilson. [Update1: Mustang Bobby has reminded my of the one true candidate, who supercedes all others: Teddy the Wonder Lizard.]

Leave your suggestions in the ballot box and fear not! Unlike those Dibold machines, my blog is auditable.

P.S. Whomever makes the best suggestion gets to be Secretary of Agriculture.


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Update2:Fnords smote.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Breaking the Mind Forged Manacles




The classical view that categories are based on shared properties is not entirely wrong. We often do categorize things on that basis. But that is only a small part of the story.

~George Lakoff, Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind


What kinds of categories, if any, are best defined classically?

Classical Categorization works well when dealing with Knowns: trees, landscapes, cars, soup, and in a broader sense, people. But it is the fact that it breaks down once we get beyond this broader sense where we stumble into the limitations of Classical Categorization. Itís good enough for getting a fuzzy outline of the Big Picture but itís sort of like looking at the Sistine Chapel Ceiling with your glasses off. Itís just a rough view of the scene and to try to draw any meaningful conclusions about the details form these blurry shapes is to make sweeping generalizations. Which is where Classical Categorization becomes a problemñ see any political speech for an example. Rhetoric is nothing if not the language of the Big Picture.

But the devil is in the details as they say.

Details are Unknowns. Theyíre the filigree pattern of an ornate tattoo. Picture something knotted and Celtic on the arm of a stranger at a coffee shop. If you try to make generalized statements about the person wearing the tattoo, youíre bound to make an ass of yourself. Classical Categorization is perpetually making an ass of itself because itís talking in great sweeping generalizations (which have their place of course) but most people donít live on an abstract plane, with an abstract house and an abstract dog. They live in the Existential World and deal with the infinite and teaming details. This is where prototypical categories may be more suited to deal with the flexible variables of our every day life.

Classical Categorization fails when confronted by the Unknown variables, as it is based on the organization of things primarily in relation to Ideal Forms and secondarily in relation to one another. Unknown variables, being unknown, have no as yet discernable relationship to anything else. They arenít just floating Out There somewhere waiting to be discovered and held up to Known things for comparison. But neither are they fully comprehended. Classical Theory cannot handle the wide variety of metaphorical and poetic ideas that the human mind is capable of generating (though these imagined things are usually based on some half seen or little understood epiphenomenon. Something seen out of the corner of the eye, the details of which are filled in by our brain, which can be quite creative in patching holes in our knowledge).

Classical Categorization is like the three blind men confronted for the first time by an elephant. Each man discovers a different part of the elephant; one the tail, another a leg, the third the elephantís trunk. Each declares that the elephant is thin like a worm, long and prehensile like a snake or thick and stocky like the trunk of a tree. Thus, Classical Categories are inadequate when confronted by Unkowns, such as UFOs, Ghosts, teleporting snakes, rains of frogs or incidents of Spontaneous Human Combustion. These events are epiphenomenon; that is, they are uncommon occurrences that have not fully been analyzed but occur with enough frequency to generate their own set of admittedly chimerical categories. Conventional wisdom is to dismiss such events as frauds, hallucinations or some species of joke, poorly told. These phenomenon are classified thus classified as "Paranormal," lumped together despite their widely varying characteristics. What they have in common is that they are not social phenomenon. They serve no identifiable purpose.

What is the purpose of a unicorn? That is a matter for poets and novelists to determine. We know what function a horse has because we have assigned it various functions over long periods of time and because horses are tangible, so they take to the impressions. But Unicorns, being intangible, can be many things, all of them uncertain and subject to change at a momentís notice. The same can be said for all such "Paranormal" classes. But this is classification by exclusion. "All of these things are suspect, thus they are similar."

As recently as the nineteenth century, gorillas were thought to be merely imagined creatures and sightings of them were treated with the same derisive exclusion as sightings of yeti and fairies today. In the eighteenth century, there was no such thing as meteorites. They didnít exist because no Classical Category existed then that allowed for the idea of rocks in the sky.

This is where Classical Categorization fails. To dismiss epiphenomena into these dustbin categories is to exclude them from the scope of human experience.

UFOs and Unicorns are hyperbolic examples of this tendency to rush to classification, in order to put oneís mind at ease, but they prove a point. A more banal example is one weíve all experienced: You see a familiar face in a crowd and for a moment, are convinced it is an old friend. You look again and realize it is in fact a stranger with a few similar characteristics as your friend but your brain filled in the gaps in order to reassure you that what you saw was familiar, not foreign.

So while Classical Categories are not very well suited for the bizarre details of every day life, they are good for is delineating Metaphysics, which can be seen ultimately as a branch of fantastic literature; an elaborate system of fables and allegories that describe notions that exist solely within the human mind. These notions, such as Goodness, Morality, Virtue and Peace are Platonic in nature. We can conceive of them in our minds and speak meaningfully about them, but only when in relation to other abstractions, like their opposites, Evil, Sin and War. Itís the comparison between ideas that creates these categories and allows for discussion of such abstractions to carry over into our lives when we apply them to the Big Picture in our more meditative moments.

That Plato was a Metaphysician as well as an Epistemologist might come as a surprise to some but if you really look at the Platonic Model of Ideal Forms, it better describes an imagined world of abstract ideas than it does the Existential World in which we live. Some people still confuse the two worlds; the Objectivist with the Existential, which is the cause of many of our problems, both semantic and political. Often we hear President Bush declaring War on Terror, or Death to the Evil Doers and rarely do we stop to think about what sort of categories into which he is shoehorning real people and events. Obviously they are Classical Categories, several degrees removed from any of the more flexible, prototypical categories that we have become accustomed to using in our day-to-day reality.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Curious E-Mail of the Day



I received an e-mail just now from the proprietor of The- Insight.com asking for permission to add The Invisible Library to their directory under the heading "Religion/Christianity/Catholicism." I found this odd. As regular readers already know, I'm an outspoken atheist. Also, the primary mission of this Blog is to bitch and moan about books, writing, Library issues and free speech. Occasionally I rant about how much I loathe Organized Religion specifically and consider Religion in general to be a hold over from Bronze Age superstitions, best discarded and soon.

Baffled, I sent an e-mail politely informing said proprietor of this fact, thanking him for expressing interest and suggesting that perhaps my site would be better categorized under Political Commentary or Arts. Then I went and had a look at the site (link above).

I'm curious to know how I came to the attention of a group compiling web links as a resource for Christians. Did they even read any of my posts or simply spider my text for religious words? Now, I'd be more than happy to have my site linked to by them but I feel it would be better (or at the very least, more intellectually honest) if it were under the heading "Anti-Religious Agitators/Freethinkers/Lost Souls," a category they, alas, do not have but probably should. For the sake of balance.

Empathy on the Gridiron:
Fear and Loathing at Super Bowl XXXVIII



I was disappointed by the Super Bowl Adds. Usually they are at least entertaining, in that they go all out to tell little stories and express a bit more creativity than in normal day to day advertisements. But this year, they just sucked. Crass fart jokes and every five minutes, an add for erectile disfunction medicine. I'm not a fan of football, so I don't normally watch the game, so I can't tell if this is just CBS pandering to a favorite corporate sponsor (which says a lot about the execs at CBS) or if they really know their demographic: middle aged white men so deadened by cheap beer and violent sports that they require help just to get an erection. At least they didn't offend us further by showing that MoveOn.org add.

Then there was the Tit seen round the world. Horrors! A boob on national television! What will we tell the children? (Now son, he's our President, and you shouldn't... Oh wait..) I would suggest a warning to little Sally against going anywhere within arms reach of Justin Timberlake, for starters (that boy ain't right, groping a woman old enough to be his mother) Followed by a perusal of National Geographic to show the kids that the female body, like the male, is a beautiful thing to be embraced, not feared. Wishful thinking on my part, I know.

The rest of the world often sees us through the prism of our media and wonders why we seem so violent and paranoid. I think it has to do with the fact that we're a culture that embraces War for the sake of War but is thrown in to fits and spasms at the prospect of glancing at a bare breast. This says a lot about the psychological hangups many in our society have. And it's not just this country of course. What with the pervasiveness of our media, the rest of the world is becoming a lot like us. We live in a world where President Bush is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for killing thousands on the same weekend a singer bares her breast in public (or rather, has it bared for her and not even completely as she was wearing a shiny nipple cover). One causes a scandal that lasts for days, the other is buried in newspapers and barely mentioned on Television. So much irony. So little time.

But what scares us about the Tit?

The Tit is soft and feminine and therefore, week. It inspires such sins as lust, comfort and sensuality and is thus, a perfect inspiration for would-be terrorists. The Tit will corrupt our children, pass them a joint and whisper lewd and liberal ideas in their ears while they sleep. Fear the Tit, America! It stands against everything we hold deer: War, Greed, Materialism and violence as Entertainment. To embrace the Tit would make us pacified, sensual. Soon we'd legalize marijuana and gay love. In short, we'd be Canadian. No longer would we be able to offend the rest of the world with our erectile disfunction, farting Clydesdales and manly swagger. We'd be wussified. Polite. Thoughtful. Respectful of the need of others for self determination.

We fear there Tit because it's hard to build an Empire when you're so gosh darn polite. Just ask the British.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

News From Bizzaro World




OSLO, Norway -- President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the European Union were among known nominees for the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize...


Sure it's from WaPo but still, in what crazy ass, parallel universe did I wake up this morning where George "Bomb Them All and Let Allah Sort Them Out" Bush did anything even remotely deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize? We all knew that awards are full of shit but at least the Nobel Prize had some sort weight and prestige. But if Bush wins, that's it. Reality will have completely inverted and there will be no more meaning in anything anymore.