Thursday, September 30, 2004

From the Mailbag

I recieved an e-mail today from Morgan, a Journalist who writes for the French cultural magazine, Chronic'Art. She is a Brautigan fan who read my post about In Watermellon Sugar. She wanted to let me know that her magazine has a three page article on Richard Brautigan in the November Issue. She also has an interesting question:

As a librarian, do you have more informations or precisions about Brautigan Virtual Libraries, based on Brautigan's " The Abortion : An Historical Romance "(1966). According to the website " Ahapoetry.com".

For those of you unfemiliar with Brautigan's book, The Abortion, the main character manages an eccentric library that collects one of a kind books made by local San Fransisco residents who deposit the books with him. At the website that Morgan mentioned above, there is aBrautigan Virtual Library, which looks like it is trying to provide a similar service online.

I was not aware of this and it looks interesting. Thanks, Morgan, for bringing it to my attention.

I've been fascinated by meta-fiction (fiction about books that are themselves fictitious) for a while now. Shortly after I started this blog, I discovered that there was a website that endevours to catalog these meta-books, called The Invisible Library. I swear it was a coincidence.

J.L. Borges has, to my mind, the most impressive collection of meta-books under his name, even though John Bellairs and Douglas Adams have the most books with the best titles. My favorite Adams' meta-title has to be Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes by Oolon Colluphid.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Modern Love

Guardian UK:

Mr Darcy is women's favourite fictional romantic icon. According to a recent poll conducted by the Orange Prize for Fiction, 1,900 women across the generations voted for Mr Darcy as the man they would most like to go on a date with. He was also the fictional character women would most like to invite to a dinner party - which strikes me as odd, as surely Mr Darcy would spend the evening either gazing at the ceiling grunting with boredom or glowering at the guests.

[...]

Here is the rub - Austen leaves us to assume that her heroine's marriages are happy despite portraying very few idyllic marriages in the rest of her texts. Also, Austen's deification as a novelist is such that one hardly dares to point out that when it comes to marriage and what goes on behind the bedroom door, she herself had no first-hand experience. But as modern women with our wealth of relationship experience and all the benefits brought about by feminism, we should know better. The fact is that dark, smouldering, moody, charismatic, arrogant Darcy types, whom we hate at first sight and then later find ourselves falling in love with, often - particularly after we have married them - turn out to be rigid, dominating and controlling.

What message is this Darcy fixation sending to men? On the one hand, women say they want men who are emotionally intelligent, sensitive, flexible, who enjoy sharing equally and are fun to be with. But these same women are swooning over a fictional character who is the epitome of the dominant patriarchal male. No wonder men are confused.

I'm perplexed as well. Of course, as a man,I've always been a little perplexed by the inner workings of women's minds. Being married nearly four years has not really shed an more light into the mystery, either.Alas, I know My wife digs Mr. Darcy, especially his Colin Firth incarnations. But hay, she comes home to me at the end of the night, so I must be doing something right, even though I'm not a brooding, hard to deal with patriarch. Damn my modern sensabilities!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Time to Vote

I recieved my Absentee Ballot in the mail today. Looking over the ballot, it looks like it'll be a strait Democratic tickit this year, since I refuse to vote Republican (except for the county coroner, who is running unapposed. Coroner is a good job for a Republican). Though I suppose I could vote Libertarian for the open senate seat. Yeah. That'll happen. Other than the Presidential race, the other slots are pretty much a toss up, as Georgia Democrats are pretty much identical to Georgia Republicans. You may have heard abot my representative, Zell Miller (D.-Barking Mad)? But it's either that or apathy.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Ban This, Bub

It's Saturday...one more day left in Banned Books Week. I made it!

Keith sent me an email a few days ago, informing me of Banned Books Week and asking me if I'd like to contribute something on the subject to the blog. So I checked out the list. It included more than a few of my favorites. Trying to decide which one of these books I wanted to write about was difficult. Which one had the biggest influence on me, and which one would conjure up from within me something substantial to say?

As usual, I couldn't decide, so I'm going to pick two and just write the things that come to me.

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade, by Kurt Vonnegut.
I read this in high school, and it changed the way I thought about literature.
My father is an electrician. My mother works for the government. Neither went to College. The language used in the types of books we were forced to read for school--from Ethan Frome to The Fountainhead--was as alien to me as Chinese. But with Vonnegut it felt like he was talking to me. Reading him felt like having a conversation with my wise (and wise-cracking) grandfather. And still he managed to put me in Billy Pilgrim's shoes, so vividly, without reams of description or encyclopedic exposition--or language like an overstuffed vase. And then he did something, stylistically, that would violently throw open the doors of fiction for me, breaking the locks and suddenly making everything seem possible: "An American near Billy wailed that he had excreted everything but his brains. Moments later he said 'There they go, there they go.' He meant his brains. / That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book."
That was when I learned that literature could be Punk. You could stretch the formats, break the rules. I have been very difficult to satisfy, lit-wise, ever since.

Catcher in The Rye, by J.D. Salinger.
Everybody loves this book. Everybody worth knowing, anyway. You are either one of the people who get it, right away, or you aren't, and you don't.
A sad but elucidating story, by way of example:
When my grandfather was sick with lung cancer, we were visited by my great-uncle, a school teacher from Atlanta. (Despite the 'Great', he is only in his mid-fifties.) I had always secretly admired this uncle, because he was the literary jet-setter of the family. He sat on golf courses with millionaires and sipped mint juleps--that kind of thing. But once he self-published his first novel, and I tried to read it, the clouds rolled away and I was able to see the man my uncle was.What he wrote should not have been novelized. It is the kind of story best told at cocktail parties to sycophants. (Would I ban it? I really doubt I'd have to...)
At any rate, he once asked me what my favorite novels were, and Catcher was among the first.
"I never understood that novel," he said. "People make such a fuss over it, but there's really nothing to it."
I was somewhat baffled. I thought he was an English Teacher.
"But, it's a generational expression of rage. It's about the disillusionment of reality meeting the dreams of youth. It's about people just...giving up the fight."
"What fight?", he snorted, "It's more like whining, to me."
It was the 'to me' that spelled it out. He would never understand Holden Caulfield, any more than he would understand Nelson Mandela or would have understood Galileo or Newton or Jesus. He is the archetype of solipsism and intransigence, and that makes him a poor writer and a fool and the exact type of person who would band together with like-minded fools and decide which books are "unsuitable" for the masses.
.
Thank Sophia, he's retired now, so we can all relax a little.

But not too much. There are always more like him. We have one running the country right now, as a matter of fact. And there is another war, besides the one on terrorism, that people like this are not going to be able to win. There are billions of people out there, and every one harbors at least one thought that, to you, is "rogue" and "dangerous". You can burn every book ever written but you can't stop that. You can raze the earth from one end to the other and you can't kill that. Holden Caulfield's rage is diffused throughout the entire planet. Promises broken, comeuppance dawning. You think it's hard to eradicate every ideology you don't like?

Try every idea.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Ten Silly Ways to Enliven The Debates

The first Presidential Debates will be held next week, September 30th, in Miami, and will be moderated by Jim Lehrer. They will be aired on ABC at 9pm Eastern. The parameters have just been revealed, and to anybody who's tracking the decline of democracy, they hold no surprises. There will be no extemporaneous questions from the audience. Everything will have been submitted beforehand. Candidates are not allowed to ask each other questions, but can pose rhetorical ones. And then some silly business with the size of the podiums (podia?)...

But none of that matters, because Americans will not watch. Because, inevitably, there will be something more "exciting" on another channel. Maybe Baseball. Maybe Survivor. Maybe reruns of Frasier. Whatever it might be, John Q. American is more likely to seek escape than to wallow in this inevitable swamp of circumlocution, however historical it may be this year. And I understand him. I really do. I, myself, can only stand a certain amount of politicking before my central nervous system begins to hum unpleasantly and my attention span begins to carpet-wiggle like a petulant puppy. So I get you, John Q. I am you.

So what can the candidates do to snare my interest?
Well, here are some (very silly) suggestions:

1) FX: If it is logistically impossible for the candidates to arrive at the Debates having crawled out of the wreckage of a spectacularly crashed airplane, to realize they are the only survivors, and for John Kerry to deliver a distressed George W. Bush's baby, then at least occasionally one of them should look over his shoulder and whisper in a frightened voice: "If you hear anything...run..."

2) Melodrama: George Bush should confront Kerry with the confession that he has been sleeping with his wife, and the two of them have taken out a huge life insurance claim on the New Englander, only to have it lapse when Theresa fell down a well and emerged an amnesiac who only speaks in riddles. Kerry should weep violently and throw the podium at a wall.

3) Game Show: The candidates should be forced to eat horse anus while trying to balance on a Corvette that is suspended ninety feet in the air and covered in French fry grease. The first candidate to get in the car, punch a button which releases the car from suspension, and land in the back of a moving flatbed is the new President.

4) Mature: Kerry should seduce Bush in French, threaten to spank him roughly on the bottom, and make him sit aimlessly for seven minutes while he braids his eyebrows. Bush mutters shyly that he's "always wanted a Boston Browjob." Theresa and Laura engage in Sapphic domination on a king-sized bed suspended from the ceiling. Elephant-on-Donkey action only for those with Closed-Caption.

5) Superhero/Action: Bush and Kerry must join forces to defeat a steroid-inflated Jim Lehrer and his army of robot clones. Kerry bores Lehrer into stupefaction while Bush manages to convince him, in simplified and ardent language, that breathing is "for terrorists."

6) Comedy: Kerry and Bush argue over whose mother-in-law is the most annoying. Kerry makes a shocking and hilarious admission that he is routinely forced to take "ketchup baths". Kerry wins.

7) Indie: Bush's cocaine problem is driving he and Kerry apart. They decide to drive to New Mexico so Bush can dry out. Kerry finally comes to grip with Bipolar Disorder and begins a 12-Step program to wean himself off Afrin Nasal Spray. Special appearance by Dick Cheney's daughter as the token lesbian.

8) Religious: Seven hours of Bush being slowly and mercilessly tortured by Kerry and specially-assigned interrogators from the Anti-Defamation League who wear black leather executioner masks with the Star of David emblazoned on them. (This will only be aired on Fox.)

9) Fantasy: The Balrog, freshly freed from the Mines of Moria by the black magic of Saru-Cheney, chases Kerry around the stage while Bush mourns in melancholic delirium for his dead son who is not really dead, and, in fact, never existed. George Stephanopoulos must take the One Ring to Mount Doom, and in the process of wrestling with Anne Coulter, loses a finger.

10) Cinema Verite: Cameras follow Bush and Kerry without pause the day leading up to the Debate. Kerry spends most of it playing Battlefield: Vietnam on his X-Box. Bush visits the Elders of Zion and sacrifices thirteen minority children. Just before the convention, the two Bonesmen thumb-wrestle for the Presidency, as is dictated by the tenets of that Secret Society. The debates are a sham, as usual, each candidate's real goal to push his favorite alcoholic beverage. Kerry: Miller. Bush: Budweiser. Lehrer: Absinthe with laudanum.


In the sad event that nothing this exciting happens, then I will watch anyway, because it is important, is quite possibly the most important election of our lifetimes, and will very likely decide the fate of Democracy in the Middle East.

Unless Junkin' is on. I love that show.


Banned Book Week, Part 4

Demotic regimes demand that we forget, and therefore they brand books as superfluos luxeries; totalitarian regimes demand that we not think, and therefore they ban and threaten and censor; both, by and large, require that we become stupid and that we accept our degradation meekly, and therefore they encourage the consumption of pap. In such circumstances, readers cannot but be subversive.

-Alberto Manguel, A History of reading


Today, I am just a subversive reader. But one day, I hope to be counted among the great dissenters of the age. I want to be an author.

More than that, I hope, one day, to have one or more of my books banned. Any self righteous group will do. It would mean as much to me to be on the torch list of some pea-brained Baptist Ranter as the watch-list of some overheated tyrant. I'm looking at you, Crisco Johnny. (Or is your new name Mr. 5000?)

It's an odd thing that being banned has become a badge of honor. You really aren't assured literary greatness until someone puts a fatwa on your head, or at the very least, wants to use your book as kindling (which is far better than the hack's fate: having their brick of a tome used as a doorstop). That having your work banned is a surefire way to greatness should be a signal to the dunderheads that they've failed. "Ban our books all you like, that will just ensure that your children read them," is the clear message. But they keep at it. Every new Harry Potter book is added to the list, as well as some old favorites that keep getting chowderheads in a twist, or give some Unreconstructed Southern Lady the vapors.

Usually books are banned by Christian or Muslim Fanatics1 who are simply in a huff over the author's audacity at publishing a book that doesn't take the inane fairy tales found in the Bible and the Koran at face value. We all get a good laugh at their ignorance and superstition, mainly because these fools have long since lost their power over our minds. The Enlightenment has worked, in at least this regard: we are slowly but surely becoming less superstitious. At least most of us. And the ones that aren't are often times merely laughed into a marginal existence, self publishing their little harangues2, unless they posses the private fortune gleaned from fleecing other morons. Then we end up with the likes of Pat Roberts, Luis Farrakhan and David Duke, who have, through the power of Capitalist Entitlement, forced their presence and opinions on the media, and thus onto our minds, whether we want them there or not.

In the last century, we saw an increase in politically motivated censorship, but it often had the same fanatical zeal attached to it that was exclusively the domain of religious censorship of previous ages. Before the Nazi book bonfires or the Stalinist library purges, offended Marms of Public Opinion would simply cluck their tongues and demand the offending manuscript be bowdlerized. Unless they were Monarchs, then they imitated the Popes of the day and grew purple with indignation. The result was either to invent ingenious torture devices like the Guillotine or Anal Pear, or to counter the offending ideas by hiring propagandists with silver tongues batshit between their ears to stand up and chant merrily what the powers that Be Want to hear, common sense be dammed. And so the literary ancestors of Anne Coulter and Michelle Malkin go back to France and England, notions that would drive both woman up the wall if they weren't already over the moon, puttering under their own steam.

This is something that has long baffled me. Why do such degenerate nincompoops like Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader get air time while thoughtful, credible folk with merely unpopular ideas get ignored? Is it simply that Money + Connections = Legitimacy? I don't have an answer, I just want to ask the question.

And really, that's all we aspiring authors can hope for, to have our questions heard and the possible answers debated in the public square. If we have to stay up late nights arguing with jackasses who light their mental fires with our books, then so be it. At least someone is still reading us, even if they don't or won't understand.

_________
1. Anyone else ever notice that Jewish groups, even the ultra orthodox ones, don't ban books? My theory is that this is because of the importance placed on scholarship in Jewish culture. Maybe I'm wrong and there are irate Rabbis, twirling their yamukahs in rage over some poor soul's Talmudic interpretations, but I get the impression they prefer spirited debate to gasoline and matches.

2. Except when Regnary Publishing picks them up.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Banned Books Week, Part 3

The Cornell Daily Sun:

The list of the 100 most frequently challenged books is indeed useful, and I advise all new parents to laminate it and post it on the fridge so that if they catch their kid reading something verboten they can roll the list up, fill it with lead shot and beat him about the ears -- but I also find it sorely lacking. Over the past few years, as I've labored to raise Melvin and George to be upstanding, coitophobic citizens, I've encountered several books so abhorrent that I was shocked to find they hadn't been banned. As a civic service, I am raising awareness of these dangerous books by providing an annotated list, as follows.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: lionizes Max, a disturbed young man who will no doubt grow up to be a depraved criminal. After an evening of troublemaking, he goes so far as to threaten his mother by saying he'll "eat [her] up!" Max's delinquent behavior is then encouraged when he takes a magical trip to a land of "wild things," where he leads the beasts in a pagan dance ritual. At the end of the book, Max is forgiven without so much as a single flog.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: normalizes talking to inanimate objects.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt: encourages children to touch things willy-nilly. This is bad enough in a household filled with breakable objects and clean, white walls, but I gravely fear what these grope-happy children will want to touch when they reach adolescence.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: endorses gluttony.

This is a very useful summary that all concerned citizens should take to heart.

School's In

I'm back @ school, doing things archival and loving it - for the most part. This semester is about learning how to appraise, how to preserve, and how to legally manage information. Good, solid classes each.

This semester is also about preparing to study American literature again. If admitted to the program here I'd be signing on for more schooling. The teaching would be great fun, I think. The research just as good if not better. I'm interested in how people tell their stories. I recommend school, I really do. Coming back has been good for me.

My human rights archives series is not forgotton, and should even progress with the pending wireless connection at home. I wanted to see how things went in the news about Columbia taking some related material and looking for an archivist to handle the Human Rights Watch Archive. All in good time, in archives-time.

Keeping perspective in school can be difficult. The long view, the short view, no view. Everything seems to have its time, and everyone seems to have an opinion about when that is. Learning, exploring takes time, and is, in my opinion, one of the highest values of the archival community. Good luck one and all!

Banned Book Week, Part 2

"Every burned book enlightens the world."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Following up on yesterday's post about the Artist Formerly Known as Cat Stevens and Salman Rushdie, here's a few more details on the banning of The Satanic Verses, from the Forbidden Library:

The Satanic Verses. Salman Rushdie. Viking. Banned in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Malaysia, Qatar, Indonesia, South Africa, and India due to its criticism of Islam. Burned in West Yorkshire, England (1989) and temporarily withdrawn from two bookstores on the advice of police. Five people died in riots against the book in Pakistan. Another man died a day later in Kashmir. Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or religious edict, stating, "I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the Satanic Verses, which is against Islam, the prophet, and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, have been sentenced to death." Challenged at the Wichita, Kans. Public Library (1989) because it is "blasphemous to the prophet Mohammed."

And just to add a bit of cross-cultural historical perspective:

The Talmud. Soncino Pr. Burned in Cairo, Egypt (1190); Paris, France (1244); and Salamanca, Spain (1490). The Catholic Church in the Middle Ages tried to suppress this work. Pope Gregory IX ordered it burned (1239); Pope Innocent IV ordered King Louis IX of france to burn all copies (1248 and 1254); Pope Benedict XIII ordered the bishops of the Italian dioceses to confiscate all copies (1415); Pope Julius III ordered that Christians reading the Talmud be excommunicated; Pope Clement VIII forbade both "Christians and Jews from owning, reading, buying or circulating Talmudic or Cabbalistic books or other godless writing." (1592)

The Bible. William Tyndale, who partially completed translating the Bible into English, was captured, strangled, and burned at the stake (1536) by opponents of the movement to translate the bible into the vernacular. Beginning around 1830, "family friendly" bibles, including Noah Webster's version (1833) began to appear which had excised passages considered to be indelicate.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

And if You Play 'Peacetrain' Backwards...

AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine when it was discovered that passenger Yusuf Islam - formerly known as singer Cat Stevens - was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country.

[edit]

One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Islam, 56, was identified by the Advanced Passenger Information System, which requires airlines to send passenger information to Customs and Border Protection's National Targeting Center. The Transportation Security Administration then was contacted and requested that the plane land at the nearest airport, that official said.

[edit]

"It's also a very sad state of affairs when a man best known as a peace loving pop star can be grouped into the same category Osama Bin Laden just because of his chosen faith," the statement said.

Islam drew some negative attention in the late 1980s when he supported the Ayatollah Khomeini's death sentence against Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses." Recently, though, Islam has criticized terrorist acts, including the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the school seizure in Beslan, Russia, earlier this month that left more than 300 dead, nearly half of them children.

In a statement on his Web site, he wrote, "Crimes against innocent bystanders taken hostage in any circumstance have no foundation whatsoever in the life of Islam and the model example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him."

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Islam issued a statement saying: "No right thinking follower of Islam could possibly condone such an action: The Quran equates the murder of one innocent person with the murder of the whole of humanity."

He may be a bit of religious kook1 but he's no terrrorist. Frankly, this is right up there with harassing Ted Kennedy. It's frivilous, idiotic and just underscores why we need real, human, highly trained security at our airports rather than some dumb computerized system that identifies every Folkie, Nun and Liberal as a suspected terrorist while the real terrorists sit back and laugh at us while they strap the dynamite to their chests.

Link via Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing.
__________
1. the whole Rushdie-Satanic Verses thing would have been silly, if there hadn't been death threats involved. But it was more a rhetorical proclamation, at least on Cat Steven's end than any real vendetta. Honestly, do you see Cat Stevens trying to Kill Salman Rushdie? At best, he would have sung Moonshadow at him until he went back into hiding. Meanwhile, Pat Robertson is still walking around, blaming hurricanes on Gay people and suggesting someone nuke the State Department.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Banned Book Week, Part 1

Banned Book Week starts Friday but I thought I'd start early, by profiling some of my favorite banned books. (The ALA has a list of the most often banned books, and of course there is the indespensable Forbidden Library, both of which make handy resources. Check and see if your favorite book might just be banned!)

Today's banned book:

Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. Ballentine. Ironically, students at the Venado Middle School in Irvine, Calif. received copies of the book with scores of words--mostly "hells" and "damns"--blacked out. The novel is about book burning and censorship. Thankfully, after receiving complaints from parents and being contacted by reporters, school officials said the censored copies would no longer be used (1992).

This one is obvious, the archatypal banned book. So here's a bonus round, one of the oldest and most often banned books:

The Odyssey. Homer. Airmont; Doubleday; Harper; Macmillan; MAL; Oxford Univ. Pr.; Penguin. Plato suggested expurgating it for immature readers (387 B.C.) and Caligula tried to suppress it because it expressed Greek ideals of freedom.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

70 Things You Didn't Know About Leonard Cohen

Guardian UK:

5 Cohen's albums regularly go to no 1 in Norway.

6 In America, his last album entered the Billboard chart at number 143.

[...]

9 Cohen was 32 and an established poet and novelist before deciding that songwriting might pay better. When he first touted his songs around New York, agents said to him: "Aren't you a little old for this game?"

10 He has never married - "too frightened". He had two children with Suzanne Elrod, and also had a long relationship with the film star Rebecca De Mornay.

[...]

13 Cohen's maternal grandfather, a rabbi, wrote a 700-page thesaurus of Talmudic interpretations.

14 His father, who was in the garment trade, died when he was nine.

15 His middle name is Norman.

[...]

21 He liked the Greek island of Hydra so much that he bought a house there in 1960 for $1,500. It had no electricity or running water. He could live there for $1,000 a year, so he would go back to Canada, earn the money with his writing and head back to Hydra "to write and swim and sail".

22 His second novel, Beautiful Losers, about a love triangle, was hailed by one reviewer as "the most revolting book ever written in Canada".

23 His big break was meeting the folk singer Judy Collins. He sang Suzanne down the phone to her and she immediately promised to record it.

[...]

26 The young Cohen's signature tune was Suzanne. He once called it "journalism", as the details were drawn from life in Montreal. Suzanne was a friend, Suzanne Verdal, who really did serve him tea and oranges in her loft by the river. Cohen wrote the line "I touched your perfect body with my mind" because she was married to a friend of his.

[...]

30 Some time in the early 70s, his songs were dismissed as "music to slit your wrists to". The phrase stuck. "I get put into the computer tagged with melancholy and despair," Cohen said. "And every time a journalist taps in my name, that description comes up on the screen."

[...]

33 His song Chelsea Hotel No 2, about Janis Joplin, may be the only song overtly written by one pop star about sex with another. "You said to me then, you preferred handsome men, but for me you would make an exception ... giving me head on the unmade bed, while the limousines wait in the street."

[...]

38 When he wrote Bird on a Wire, Cohen felt he hadn't "finished the carpentry", but Kris Kristofferson said the first three lines would be his epitaph: "Like a bird on a wire/ Like a drunk in a midnight choir/ I have tried, in my way, to be free"

[...]

41 His album Death of a Ladies' Man was produced by Phil Spector, the reclusive genius of girl-group pop. "I was flipped out at the time," Cohen said later, "and he certainly was flipped out. For me, the expression was withdrawal and melancholy, and for him, megalomania and insanity and a devotion to armaments that was really intolerable. In the state that he found himself, which was post-Wagnerian, I would say Hitlerian, the atmosphere was one of guns - the music was a subsidiary enterprise ... At a certain point Phil approached me with a bottle of kosher red wine in one hand and a .45 in the other, put his arm around my shoulder and shoved the revolver into my neck and said, 'Leonard, I love you.' I said, 'I hope you do, Phil.'"

[...]

56 Cohen said of Cobain after his death: "I'm sorry I couldn't have spoken to the young man. I see a lot of people at the Zen Centre, who have gone through drugs and found a way out that is not just Sunday school. There are always alternatives, and I might have been able to lay something on him."

[...]

63 Cohen has probably the best manners in pop. When you ask how he is, he says, "Can't complain", as if he hadn't built a career on elegant lamentation. When he rings off, he says "So long", as he did, famously, to a lover named Marianne.

[...]

66 Cohen was much admired in 1960s France. The president, Georges Pompidou, was reputed to take his LPs on holiday, and it was said that if a Frenchwoman owned one record, it was likely to be by Cohen.

Che Moore

We here at Designed By Monkeys (all three of us) have decided that it's time to make a difference. From now until Election Day we're going to donate a portion of the profits from the sale of Che Moore shirts and buttons to MoveOn PAC! For the first hundred shirts sold, we'll donate one dollar a piece, for the second hundred, two dollars, and for every shirt after that we'll give five dollars to the good folks over at MoveOn. For each Che Moore button we'll donate fifty cents - it doesn't seem like much, but with everyone visiting the site it could add up quick.

Help Designed by Monkeys and MoveOn put a new president in the White House and Just maybe, save the world.

Via Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Cat and Storm Blogging Saturday


Lucy has never been very religious. But sometimes, she mistakes thunder for the voice of God and looks up to see why he's woken her form a nap.

A Brave New Night at the Movies

Last night, Kevin and I saw Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. We both enjoyed it, thoroughly. I thought that it was a well done action adventure and that the digital environment helped create the fantastic-past atmosphere nicely. Most impressive was the performance by Sir Lawrence Olivier. Though a small role, he commanded the screen, as he always did. That he's been dead for 15 years has hardly dampened his abilities.

Which brings up an interesting point: Now that Lord Larry has returned from beyond the grave, how long will it be before we see other deceased movie stars revived for not just a cameo but for new starring roles? No more than a few years, is my prediction. Soon, the whole pantheon of Hollywood will be at the disposal of casting agents and producers. You want Clark Gabble for that new period melodrama? He's available. So too is Marlene Dietrich. For a price.

There will be legal conundrums to unravel, of course. What is the status of a deceased actor? Can they rejoin the Actors Guild or are their images owned by their estates? Can their identities be bought by Studios, copyrighted by corporations? Or do they enter the public domain, for use by every student filmmaker with an iMac and an Avid editor?

Whatever the case, I'm sure it will be interesting times ahead for filmmakers and film enthusiasts.

What dead actors do you want to see revived?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Cutest Virus, Ever

I've always wanted a nice, plush case of Mono. But I guess Black Death is nice, too.

Link via TBogg.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Signs of the Times

Wired News:

Jessmyn West is a 36-year-old librarian living in central Vermont. But she's not your stereotypical bespectacled research maven toiling behind a reference desk and offering expert advice on microfiche.

She's a "radical librarian" who has embraced the hacker credo that "information wants to be free." As a result, West and many of her colleagues are on the front lines in battling the USA Patriot Act, which a harried Congress passed a month after 9/11 even though most representatives hadn't even read the 300-page bill. It gave the government sweeping powers to pursue the "war on terror" but at a price: the loss of certain types of privacy we have long taken for granted.

[edit]

West, for her part, has created a series of popular, quasi-legal signs to warn users. One -- "The FBI has not been here. (Watch closely for the removal of this sign)" -- was provided to every library in the state by the Vermont Library Association.

  • "We're sorry! Due to national security concerns we are unable to tell you if your internet surfing habits, passwords and e-mail content are being monitored by federal agents; please act appropriately."


  • "Q. How can you tell when the FBI has been in your library? A. You can't."


  • "The Patriot Act makes it illegal for us to tell you if our computers are monitored; be aware."


Still another lists organizations like the Red Cross, Boy Scouts, Rotary Club, United Way and FBI that have not stopped by this week, except FBI is crossed out.

After the American Library Association, or ALA, came out against the Patriot Act, Attorney General John Ashcroft called librarians' resistance "baseless hysteria." He ridiculed the organization, claiming that "some have convinced (it) ... that the FBI is not fighting terrorism; instead, agents are checking how far you've gotten in the latest Tom Clancy novel."

The ALA challenged Ashcroft to reveal the number of times law enforcement had requested library records. In response, the Department of Justice released a declassified memo that claimed the number was zero, which was contradicted by a University of Illinois Library Research Center study that found more than a dozen libraries had received visits and requests for information from law enforcement.

"That's the problem," West said. "The government wants us to trust them, but how can we without greater transparency?"

She believes that you have to be somewhat radical to become a librarian in the first place. In addition to a good education, you need to devote yourself to low-to-middle-paying jobs where even your friends make jokes about you, and fear that one day you will be replaced by a computer.

This is the new stereotype for Librarians: that we're all radical partisans for truth and freedom of access. And I wholeheartedly embrace this stereotype.

Monday, September 13, 2004

At Long Last, We're Safe from the Scourge of the Necrophiliacs!

Florida Sun- Sentinel:

SAN FRANCISCO -- Having sex with corpses is now officially illegal in California after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill barring necrophilia, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

The new legislation marks the culmination of a two-year drive to outlaw necrophilia in the state and will help prosecutors who have been stymied by the lack of an official ban on the practice, according to experts.

"Nobody knows the full extent of the problem. ... But a handful of instances over the past decade is frequent enough to have a bill concerning it," said Tyler Ochoa, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law who has studied California cases involving allegations of necrophilia.

[edit]

The new law makes sex with a corpse a felony punishable by up to eight years in prison.

Thanks to Mustang Bobby for the link.

Pat Buchanan and Me

Is it really about partisanship?
Pat Buchanan is an interesting character. We all know him as the man who praised Hitler in the 2000 campaign, who was involved with and has to this day defended the actions of the Watergate conspirators, and who has courted the extreme religious right and made numerous anti-semitic remarks throughout his employment with both the government and the media. These are only the broad brush-strokes, and up until recently I would have sided with any uninformed leftist who called him a Nazi bastard and a waste of human life. But certain events of late, as well as some research of my own, have led me to question that simplistic evaluation.
Now, please understand, I'm not going to be throwing any parties for this man who admittedly urged Nixon to "burn the tapes", who claimed that the Nazi Gas Chambers were a myth, and who staffed his Campaign Committee with apologists for anti-abortion violence. However, a handful of factors have piqued my interest and made me re-examine some of the history of this Odd Duck, and in particular certain glaring irregularities in his behavior.
The first thing I ever read that made me wonder about Pat was a conversation recorded in Hunter S. Thompson's The Great Shark Hunt, in which Hunter describes Buchanan as "one of the few people in the Nixon Administration with a sense of humor."
Odd, no? That a man who who describes Adolph Hitler as a "Great Statesman" would even be seen talking to Thompson, much less spending "about eight hours one night in a Boston hotel room, finishing off a half-gallon of Old Crow and arguing savagely about politics."? Indeed, when Thompson asks McGovern campaign staffmember Rick Stearns, "perhaps the most hardline left-bent idealogue on McGovern's staff", about Buchanan, he "chuckles" and says, "Oh, yeah. We're pretty good friends. Pat's the only one of those bastards over there with any principles." (To which, to be fair, another staff member responds: "Yeah, maybe so...like Josef Goebbels had principles.")
The second time I was forced to raise my brows at Buchanan was last week on Real Time with Bill Maher. During which Buchanan--via satellite--came out against the war in Iraq, saying, with a historical perspicacity heretofore unseen from any Republican that I know of, that "Terrorism is the price of Empire." The sentiments, he said, would have been expressed historically by the French, as they left Algeria, by the Russians, when they left Afghanistan, and by the British, leaving the Colonies.
Could I be hearing right? A Republican--Pat Buchanan!--using a historical precedent to disagree with a Republican President? Surely I had accidentally ingested some mind-altering substance? I couldn't be hearing this.
It only gets wierder.
I am quickly becoming a Watergate junkie. From the standpoint of a reasonable argument, it is worth knowing the legacy of political trickery at the present time, but to be honest, it's the intrigue that gets me. Did they really think they were going to get away with what they did? What is in the "missing" or "corrupted" tapes? And who, by god, was Deep Throat? Well...
A new special on Discovery Times sought to answer some of those questions. I watched this Saturday, hoping to learn more details about the time period, the names, and some of the faces, for as hard as I try I have a really tough time retaining all those names and all the funny business they perpetrated. (Although I never have any trouble remembering Bebe Rebozo. Who forgets that name?) At any rate, the most interesting aspect of this special was the attention paid to new evidence about Deep Throat. An FBI profiler was brought in to pick through Woodward and Bernstein's book, All the President's Men, purportedly a strict record of their meetings with Deep Throat and the subsequent investigation. He determined that, despite previous speculation, Deep Throat was indeed a single person, as the language and character are consistent throughout the book. He also argued that he/she was a person who wore his/her emotions on his/her sleeve, was alternately inside and outside of the White House, and who opposed the use of the Vietnam War for political purposes, as Nixon was said to have been doing. (It is necessary to use an indefinite gender because, although most of the candidates imagined to be Deep Throat are men, one is Diane Sawyer.) Only Woodward and Bernstein know for sure who Deep Throat is, and they have vowed to keep their informant's identity a secret until he/she dies. John Dean says he knows who it is, but he, too, is mum, possibly because he has outed who he thought it was in the past and has been proved wrong.
At any rate, a list was compiled. For the purposes of the Discovery Times Special, all the people on the list were contacted and asked to participate in the program. The documentarians received flat denials--"I am not Deep Throat"--from every person on the list except one.
That's right. You guessed it. Pat Buchanan.

Do I think Pat Buchanan is Deep Throat? Not likely. But I'm not putting any money down either way. But if you're as interested as I am, go to this website and check out a bewildering, well-documented array of conflicting behaviors: www.realchange.org/buchanan.htm
It would take far too much room on the blog to delineate all this bizarre behavior, so the link has the facts.

What has me thinking is this: We all know politicians say one thing to the cameras and say something else to their friends. Bush is a Christian Compassionate Conservative who calls reporters "pimply-assed assholes" and has protesting nuns thrown in jail. He also claims to have had a "salvation experience" and yet his behavior in public has not changed since his early, "pre-Christian" campaigning. (Bush lost his first campaign in the primaries to a Republican who ran in alliance with the religious right; in that campaign Bush was the "secular candidate". He seems to have learned an important lesson from that loss.) But what is the strange truth about Pat Buchanan, a man who seems to have no trouble allying himself with the most demented philosophies to have ever come down the twisted avenues of Right-Wing American Ideology, and yet is good friends with Larry King (Jewish) and, at one time at least, would hang out by the Watergate pool drinking beers with self-acknowledged Drug Freak Hunter S. Thompson? What is going on with this man? Could he be a sheep in wolf's clothing? It takes an olympic stretch of the imaginaton, but if we know anything about politics, it's that there is always more going on than we know, and often the reality so far out-weirds our perception we, the People, are shocked beyond the ability to process it. Which could explain why any Vietnam Veteran could be a Bush supporter....

I think perhaps the reason I am so fascinated by the idea that Pat Buchanan may indeed be the opposite of what he seems is that it would be comforting to assume that level of internal espionage goes on in our government. Because if things are as deceptive as that, then we can be certain of nothing, and what appears to be a hopeless route to destruction for American Democracy may indeed hold some hope after all.
Don't worry, I still trust Buchanan about as far as I could throw him, and no Nazis will be invited to my dinner table, but I absolutely love to think that someone--anyone--with that kind of access into the den of thieves could turn--for whatever reason--and be responsible for it's downfall.
As Buchanan himself said, in defense of the Watergate activities, "It's just a little spying. That's politics."
Take that however you like.


The Reading List

If you're loking for a great book about information acces issues (and really, who isn't?) I highly recomend The Anarchist int he Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System by Siva Vaidhyanathan.

Book Description
From Napster to Total Information Awareness to flash mobs, the debates over who gets to control information and technology has revolved around a single question: How closely do we want the virtual world to resemble the real world? But while we weren't looking, the opposite has happened: The real world has started imitating the virtual world--in some alarming ways. More and more of our social, political, and religious activities are modeling themselves after the World Wide Web, along the lines of either anarchy or oligarchy, total freedom vs. complete control. And battle lines are being drawn.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Vigil at the Grave of King Kong

It is midnight in Manhattan and a line of mourners stretches all the way from 42nd Street to the foot of the Empire State Building. Each bears a single white candle before them. The glow haunts their sorrowful faces. And why shouldn't it? For this grave looms over all others. Marble white and full of fear, the magnificent sarcophagus of the fallen Gorilla God stands four stories high and takes up two city blocks-- a slab of cruel stone surrounded by a fence of wrought iron in the Art Deco style. Etched into the side of the tomb is a single word, so large, you can read it clearly all the way from the Brooklyn Bridge:

Beauty


On this night, wreaths of jungle flowers will be laid at the foot of the tomb. Snake skins draped over the iron fence, in triumph. Virgins in white will swoon against the wall until dawn. Donations are accepted. Vandals will break into the Museum of Natural History and in the morning, Dinosaur teeth will be found amidst the candle wax and other offerings.

Dispatches from Iraq, Part 16

Christian writes:

Baghdad - September 10, 2004

The third anniversary of September 11th is tomorrow.

What change three years has brought both for the good and for the bad! Both successes and mistakes.

It was three years ago that I decided to join the fight to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again. That fight is still very much underway and I am now in the middle of it.

I've been back in Baghdad now for just over a week. I returned from Greece safe and sound. Having gone on my first R&R leave, I came back extremely refreshed and with a new burst of energy to come back into the game here in Iraq. My role is now changing. I am taking more financial duties and will be helping to track the finances of our ongoing projects. New tasks, new responsibilities. I am very excited. However, I am still doing some PR work and I include this link to highlight a piece I wrote on the Transportation/Communications Sector for the PCO website.

Read the rest.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Seeing the Facts Through the Typography

I have to give Bush credit for this one. He had us all fooled. We thought he was a moron and he played that card over and over again, like it came from a deck with five aces. It's true, he is a liar, a cheat, a failed businessman, war monger, and an all around enemy to the English language. But he's just smart enough to hire Karl Rove. And Rove is a shrewd son of a bitch. He knows how to exploit the ignorance of the general populace, that most citizens have become so inebriated with trivia that with just a hint of uncertainty, he can send us all into a whirlwind of doubt.

They'll turn us all into existentialists if they have their way. We'll be so preocupied with our own navals, arguing about ligetures and obsessing over whether or not IBM had devised a typewriter that could handle proportional spaced fonts by 1973, that we'll completely ignore the fact that they'll have stolen a second election, killed another thousand soldiers for no good reason, trampled our civil rights, undermined our national security by exposing spies for cheep political gain and lied to us in countless other ways, big and small. But at least we'll have figured out whether or not an IBM typwriter form the seventies could have handled Times New Roman at least as well as a modern word processor.

It's not the font, stupid. Or even the weight of the paper these documents are printed on. It's the fact that while in the Air National Guard, George W. Bush ignored a direct order by his comanding officer. The man is guilty of least Dereliction of Duty, if not outright Disertion, and during a time of war. The first gets him jail time, the second makes him eligibe for corporal punishment. And, to add insult to injury, all this comes to light after Bush has spent the last month shitting on the name of a decorated war hero (whose complete records are on public display, unlike our supposed Commander in Chief's).

"Oh, well, Kerry may not have diserved one of his three purple hearts, or that Bronze Star because some guy who also went to Vietnam was paid money by Rove's buddy, Mr. Regnary to publish a book saying that John Kerry is a poopy head. It's all over the internet, and in Times New Roman, so it must be true."

Arg!!! I need a drink... I hear England has some good beer.

Alice and the Sacred Monster

ON SUNDAY MORNING, ALICE WICKERMAN excuses herself from breakfast and teeters into the hall. Frederick, her father, goes about chewing his sausage and dipping his pancakes in pools of syrup until he hears the distinctly unappetizing sound of retching coming from the direction of the downstairs bathroom. He sets his fork down, sausage still dangling from the end, shuffles over and knocks on the bathroom door. "You OK in there, honey?"

His question is met with more vomiting. Pushing the door open, he finds his daughter kneeling before the toilet, pale as a fish dredged out of an ocean trench, fifty thousand fathoms down. "Oh, touch of the old flu, eh?"

She wipes her mouth on the back of her hand and smiles weekly at her father. "Nope. I'm just pregnant."

This comes as quite a surprise as Alice, a devout Catholic since she forced her father to have her baptized at the age of seven, has a reputation unimpeachable, even by the most jaded skeptic's snickering. Faith, pure but hardly simple. That her virginity remains intact is a matter of faith to which Alice's Priest, Father Jose can attest, as he has been her confessor since she signed herself up for catechism class at age eleven. Ever since she hit puberty six months later, the girl's near constant visits had rattled the poor Fathers mind on its hinges, so detailed are her confessions of even the most trivial transgression of the most esoteric edict of the Holy See.

_________
Read More...

Revenge of Cat Blogging Friday


I caught Lucy mid-stretch. she seems startled a bit but doesn't seem to mind, the ham.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

In Defence of Intellectual Snobery

President Thomas Jefferson spoke three languages and read five, including Greek and Latin. His private library, the largest in the Thirteen Colonies, became the original collection for the Library of Congress1. President James Garfield was a professor of Classical Languages. It is rumored he could write Greek with one hand while at the same time, write in Latin with the other. President Theodore Roosevelt was a Conservationist and War Hero and is considered one of the greatest orators of the early 20th century. President Woodrow Wilson taught at three colleges, including Princeton, his Alma Mater. He was a major advocate of University Education and spent a great deal of his presidency promoting education and literacy.

The majority of our Presidents have been not just economic elite, but Intellectuals as well. The ones who weren't rich were consumed with public service2. All this changed in 1961 when the first made for TV president took Office, John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was neither very intellectual, nor overly consumed with the Public good. He did start the Peace Corp, but compared to predecessors like Wilson, he is small potatoes, only remembered today for being tragically killed while in office. Had Kennedy not been assassinated, it's likely he would be remembered primarily for getting us into Vietnam, a fact that would have more than overshadowed his only other noble achievement: sleeping with Marilyn Monroe.

The advent of the Made for TV President, who is elected based on his likeability instead of his ability, has been the major problem of our Presidential Elections for the past fifty years. In that time, we have gone from the competent leadership of Kennedy, to the ineptitude of Johnson, the flagrant chicanery of Nixon, and the shadowy vacuousness of Reagan and Bush Sr. to the downright contemptible imbecility, corruption and degradation of Bush Jr. Not even the poor befuddled Jimmy Carter or the charm of Clinton can make up for the fact that We The People have, for the last fifty years, placed our worst in office instead of our best. We've substituted substance and leadership for the shallow prepackaged images of a PR campaign. Our presidents lack not just substance but intelligence (except Clinton and Carter, who, for all their personal faults, at least tried to follow the Jeffersonian ideal of the Thoughtful President). Jesse at Pandagon put it nicely:

In America, the goal is that anyone should have the opportunity to become a doctor when they grow up. That doesn't mean that you get to take advantage of that promise when you're 32 and you failed high school biology. You may be a nice person, be culturally in tune with a vast swath of the American population, but real life isn't a Disney movie. No matter the populist affinity we might feel for a fictionalized narrative of an "average person" shunted to the presidency, it is not a job that requires an "average person". It requires an exceptional one, or at least the most exceptional one we can reasonably come up with. I don't want the president to be an average person. I don't care what a president eats, what he watches on TV, what his favorite band is. His or her life should be almost nothing like mine if they're doing their job correctly.

Like Jesse, I want the President to be smarter than me. I don't care if he's a nice guy. He could be a total dick for all I care. I just want him to be well read, capable of grasping nuance and changing his mind in light of newly discovered facts. I don't want some fervent jackass who barely can grasp even one language - his native tongue at that, and refuses to change his mind ever, about anything, even and especially when contrary facts are handed to him daily.

I don't think John Kerry is the uber intellectual the Right makes him out to be. But he is a smarter man than George Bush and that's a start.
_________
1. He also developed his own cataloguing system which laid the foundation for the LOC system used today.

2. Except Grant, who was a cheat and a liar, as well as a warmonger. In the light of History, we see whose shadow George W. Bush stands in and it isn't Reagan's.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Salutations and Scandalous Admissions

Hi, there.

I'm Jay. Jason, really, but the digital revolution is all about brevity, right? I'm a friend of Keith's. We met as part of the original staff of the first Barnes & Noble in my hometown of Savannah, Ga. It didn't take long for Keith and I to realize we shared not only a love of strange books, movies, conspiracy theory, exotic food, radical politics, and the kind of productive langour Emerson might have given a pretty name and for which Cotton Mather would have had us bastino'd. No, our shared and secret shame was not of choice. You see, Keith and I share erotic surnames.
Keith Kisser. Jason Love.

And though we realized it was not in our cards to become the greatest creative duo in the history of adult film, we knew that our mutual curse would eventually lead to collaboration in some arena, and here you have it.

It is my pleasure to participate in The Invisible Library.

Thanks, Keith, and Hello, Kevin.

Bilious Political Invective Coming Soon!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Just Like Apples


Last night, your favorite rock band died. They were coming out of church when they spotted a kitten meowing in the second floor window of a burning house. Every member of your favorite rock band – lead singer, lead guitar, bass player, drummer, backup guitar, keyboard player, and the guy who plays the cow bells and the maracas – swung into action. The lead singer and the bass player joined hands to hoist the lead guitarist up onto the trellis, from where he climbed onto the roof adjacent to the awning below the window where the cat was calling out. The drummer and the backup guitarist climbed the moleberry tree that hung over another awning adjacent to that window. Meanwhile, the lead singer, bass player, keyboardist, and the guy who plays the cow bells and maracas headed into the house to try to get up to that room to block the cat from running back into the fire to get away from his rooftop rescuers. Once everyone was either on top of or inside the house, the roof collapsed, killing all but the keyboard player, who died later that night of a heroin overdose while in bed with a handful of fourteen year old groupies, who also died that night, but of natural causes. The cat's fine.

Read Girls Are Pretty, every day. It's good for you.

Blogger of the Lake

Our weekend at the Lake was quiet, peaceful and very enjoyable. We swam, paddled around in a conoe and generally layed about. It was great and I'm much more relaxed now, thank you.

We've got some new things going on with the blog that I'll be mentioning soon, I promise. They're super exciting. Just wait. You'll see.

I'm such a tease.

Anyway, catching up on work today, more blogging later...

Friday, September 03, 2004

Gone to Croatan

Kevin has invited me to his family's cabin in Connecticut The Poconos for the weekend so the Library will be closing down until Tuesday (no wifi on the lake, don'tcha know). Enjoy the holiday, kids. Turn out the lights as you leave.

Update 9/6: For some reason, I heard Kevin say Connecticut when in fact we were in Eastern Pennsylvania. How odd. Anyway, we're back and tired but had a good time. Full report tomorrow.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Je Suis Le Anarchist!


We Are All Anarchists Now
by Siva Vaidhyanathan



New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is offering a nice deal to anti–Republican protesters who pledge not to break things during the Republican National Convention this week. Polite protesters will receive discounts at such Manhattan hotspots as the Pokemon Center and Applebees Restaurants if they display cute buttons declaring them "peaceful political activists".

Such perks might not be as exclusive as the mayor hopes. During his announcement earlier this month, Bloomberg admitted that "unfortunately, we can't stop an anarchist from getting a button."

The mayor seems caught in the same unfortunate binary as many commentators on recent political uprisings. They assume that anarchists are violent by definition. They carry a cartoon image of anarchism, reinforced by more than a century of propaganda and misrepresentation of this complex political philosophy. And they fail to recognise that anarchism is now a part of millions of people’s attitudes and orientations, even if we rarely call it what it is.

[edit]

Well, it's time Americans got to know the anarchists in their midst. They might be surprised at their influence and diversity. I'm not an anarchist. I'm just a good mainstream American liberal. But I have been studying anarchism for some time. So please allow me to describe it.

Anarchism is radical democracy. It eschews authority and dominance. It demands a commitment to fight coercion in all its forms. Yet anarchists (with some exceptions) generally oppose violence, vandalism, and political disengagement. Anarchist organisations (not an oxymoron) govern through conversation and consensus.

The American experience with anarchism has been tainted by images of violence and coloured by anti–Semitism and nativism: the 1877 Haymarket Square riots in Chicago; the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley in Buffalo at the hands of a deranged American of Polish descent; and the Red Scare and Palmer Raids that followed the first world war.

The European experience is richer and more nuanced. It involves the failed revolutions of 1848, the Paris Commune of 1871, the Russian Revolution before the Bolsheviks triumphed, and the influential sindicatos movement in Spain before the rise of fascism. Anarchism, as a result of such failures at the hands of enemies both left and right, has been considered a mere footnote to modern political history.

But anarchism in recent years showed itself as a powerful force in the 1994 Zapatista uprisings in Mexico and the massive protests that shut down the 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle. In both cases, it was state officials who overreacted with brutality and violence, yet the anarchists who got blamed. Still, many movements took inspiration from the Zapatistas and let Seattle raise their expectations.

Although it's been with us in some form since the cynics of Greek antiquity, anarchy matters now more than ever. As anarchism has faded as a well–defined political movement, its tactics have grown in relevance. Anarchism is now practical. It is a bag of tools.

...

Read the Whole Thing at Democracy Now.

Welcome to New Sparta, My Friends!

(Note: this post was written by my good friend, Jason).

Oh, sure, you used to call yourselves Americans. You used to stand for liberty and pursuit of happiness and for the people and by the blah blah bah. (We all knew that was a little much, didn't we?) Well, at last we can breathe an exhausted sigh of relief. We can finally be honest. There is no saving grace, no human compassion or any of the whiny spectral optimism that tainted the language and the legacies of our "founding fathers". There is no Mother Planet, no Gaia, and there is no Noble Savage. There is only things. Things for the taking. Might makes Right, and Peace is only attained through Omnipresent Threat of the Destruction of Everything. No Mercy For The Weak. These things are as Right and as Solid as the dirt beneath our feet. As Real as jaws crunching flesh.

It is time to give up the baby-mewling. Time to lay your books and scythes on the ground and pick up your swords and your assault rifles. Time to stop teaching your children nursery rhymes of universal humanity and teach them strategic placement of land mines.

Evolution has ended, Ladies and Gentleman, and we have been deluding ourselves in believing in some Dream Country, some Idealized World. Evolution has ended and we have been it's ultimate beneficiaries. We now control it. Broke it like a horse and ran nanotechnology through it's skeleton and now we guide it. And because we now control the future and the present we will soon control the past. And we will bend it and shape it, melt it and dilute it and forge it into a perfect genealogy of Power, leading up to the inevitable, unstoppable juggernaut that is US.

Rejoice, brothers and sisters, and lay your lives down at the feet of our Masters. Because we are only worthy of sacrifice to our Gods, and our Gods are Men. Men that are better than us. Men that have the necessary tools to lead-- and only one tool is necessary to win, at any rate. Poor, doomed Mr. Kurtz knew it. It is only Will.

These Men of Will, our mighty hydra of flesh that we will now call El Shaddai, after our prototype, shall lead us through a crucible of blood that will end in our beautiful martyrdom, not for some dream of a fool's Heaven, or a fanciful Afterlife, but for US. For Victory over History. For Our Kind. Put down your faces, my people, we are the New Pawns. We are the New Spartans. Our face is an obdurate mask of Will. We are a phalanx, marching toward Dominion over All. And our Masters will feed on our sweat and on the livers of the conquered and we will be watch, happily, basking in Their presence as They eat the World.

And We the legs that move Them.

Welcome to New Sparta, Ladies and Gentlemen. Prepare to give your lives.

--Jason.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

My Wife's Blog

My wife, besides being beautiful, smart and a talented photographer is now also a blogger! See her work at the Photograhic Library.