Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Unraveling


Before the hand
protects the heart
with its tight fist again

- Sam Hamill

Your presence was a thread that kept me connected to my youth, winding back over so many years through the maze of our lives, a constant in a world of ephemera. Now severed, I stand helplessly, feeling lost and old.

Your life and mine were woven together with the thread of countless shared experiences. Now wide asunder, loose stitches hanging uselessly, revealing the emptiness at the heart of existence that our feeble tapestries are meant to hide.

Blurry eyes, bitter hands. Needle and thread, begin again.

Nights of Gethsemane

I never wanted to outlive you. What do I do now?

Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.

The days go numb,
the wind sucks the world from your senses
like withered leaves.

- Rilke

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How To Keep An Idiot Busy For Hours

Would comment be superfluous? Couldn't I just sit here and smirk?

But aside from politics, there is the question of whether people who pray the Psalms in this manner stand on any kind of solid theological ground.

Oh, what the hell. There is the answer, too: there is no such thing as "solid theological ground". It's an oxymoron. You can worry, if you like, about some sort of internal consistency within the text (and good luck with that when dealing with thousands of years' worth of writing from countless different authors), but you should keep in mind that you're doing so within the larger framework of a ridiculous fantasy world. There is no deity, let alone one who smites enemies, and especially not one who gets enraged about people performing abortions when he designed a "natural" system that allows fewer than one-third of conceptions to result in live birth, with the rest ending in early gestation or by miscarriage.

So by all means, encourage these people to pray their empty fucking heads right off.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Le Mot Juste

From the comments to an Onion A.V. Club review of Wolfmother's latest, the best one-sentence review of a band ever:

ElDan

27 Oct. 2009 | 6:12 PM CDT

Fantomas sounds like a drum kit chasing a retard down a steep flight of stairs.


Now, I do love Mike Patton in all his weirdness, but goddamn, that's funny.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Space Ghosts


Oh noes!

WASHINGTON — America's once clear dominance in space is eroding as other nations, including China, Iran and North Korea, step up their activities, a panel of experts told the House subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Thursday.

"China is laying the groundwork for a long-term space program with or without us,'' said Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington. "We should worry if we're not out there with them.''

Last year, China launched a Venezuelan-owned communications satellite that "enabled Venezuela to extend its influence throughout Latin America and the Caribbean,'' Williamson said. The satellite broadcasts Venezuela's TeleSUR channel, which Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has styled as the alternative to U.S.-based news broadcasts.

Why should we be so worried, you ask? Take it away, Noam:

An even greater threat is posed by expansion of the arms race into space; the term "race" is inappropriate, because the U.S. is, for now, competing alone. Its goal is to achieve "full spectrum dominance": a monopoly of the use of space for military purposes. These plans have been available in government documents for some years, and the projects outlined have been under development. They were expanded in the first months of the Bush administration and again since September 11, in a crude exploitation of the fear and horror engendered by these crimes.

It is conventional everywhere for attack to be called "defense", and this case is no exception: the plans for militarisation of space are disguised as "ballistic missile defence" (BMD), only a small component of what is planned. That is understood by other countries, including close allies, and has been clearly articulated and sometimes warmly applauded by strategic analysts, who point out that "missile defense isn't really meant to protect America [but] is a tool for global dominance," for "hegemony."

It is well-understood that BMD, even if technically feasible, must rely on satellite communication, and destroying satellites is far easier than shooting down missiles. That is one reason why the US must seek "full spectrum dominance," such overwhelming control of space that even the poor man's weapons will not be available to an adversary. And that requires offensive space-based capacities, including enormously destructive weapons that can be launched with instant computer-controlled reaction, greatly increasing the risk of vas slaughter and devastation if only because of what are called in the trade "normal accidents" - the unpredictable accidents to which all complex systems are subject.

The goals of militarisation of space extend far beyond, however. The US Space Command is very explicit about this. Its Clinton-era publications announce the primary goal prominently: "dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment." This is presented as the next phase of the historic task of military forces. Armies were needed "during the westward expansion of the continental United States" - of course in self defense, against the indigenous population. Nations also build navies, the Space Command continues, "to protect and enhance their commercial interests." The next logical step is space forces to protect "U.S. national interests [military and commercial] and investments." But US space forces will be unlike "navies protecting sea commerce" because there will be a sole hegemon. The British Navy could be countered by Germany, with consequences we need not discuss. But the US, somehow, will remain immune -except, of course, to the narrowly circumscribed category of "terrorism" that is permitted to enter the canon.

The need for total dominance will increase as a result of the "globalisation of the economy," the Space Command explains. The reason is that "globalisation" is expected to bring about "a widening between 'haves' and 'have-nots'," an assessment shared by US intelligence. Planners are concerned that the widening divide may lead to unrest among the have-nots, which the US must be ready to control by "using space systems and planning for precision strike from space" as a "counter to the worldwide proliferation of BMD" by unruly elements - a predictable consequence of the recommended programs, just as the "widening divide" is an anticipated consequence of the preferred from of "globalisation."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In Defense Of Bimbos

After her appearance in which she dubbed King "inappropriate" and attempted to exit the set, Prejean accused the staffer of lying to her, saying King's producers promised no phone calls. She belittled McAusland saying, "Is the intern talking to me? Oh look at the little intern, look at the little intern trying to explain!"

"I've never been treated so poorly in my whole life," McAusland, who recently accepted an executive producer position at Newsie.com of Media Convergence Group, said.

(via Digby)

Huh. A shallow hypochristian who's been treated like royalty most of her life because of her looks has no time for the little people. The hell you say. Well, I'm convinced. She's the lowest of the low. I fart in her general direction and all that.

The thing about the intern reminded me of something else, though...


39
Eric Alterman
Pundit
WHAT LIBERAL DICKWAD? Milhouse is all grown up: He has a goatee, a PhD from Stanford and an online diary where he proclaims his love for Jackson Browne. Liberal bloggers are holding it up like the fucking Alamo, but his run-in with Dennis Miller last month left Alterman looking like he was about to get his head dunked in the toilet for the third time. Even if you agree with him about Ann Coulter and Alexander Cockburn, it's hard not to root against this smirking, center-left prick who likes his dinner dates rich and famous and his fois gras seared. "He constantly wants to remind you that he's Eric Alterman," one of his interns revealed in a rumor-confirming Village Voice hatchet-job, "[and] that he knows a lot of important people, and that you're a lowly intern."

Goodness gracious! And as far as I'm aware, Carrie Prejean hasn't knowingly repeated baseless slanders against Noam Chomsky, or resorted to bullshit Nader-bashing the way Alterman has. And I doubt she makes Bruce Springsteen (or is it Bob Seger? John Mellencamp? All those nostalgia-rockers run together in my head. Their songs all make me think of middle-aged men, Chevy trucks, and shots of prairie grass waving in the wind against a sunset. Anyway, he slobbers all over one of them.) an object of cult worship either, so that's another point in her favor.

I also had to laugh, given that Digby had just posted something a day or so earlier fawning over the great pwoggie hope Al Franken. Guess what Dennis Perrin can tell us about him?

I've seen Franken in action up-close, and he seems to revel in being an asshole. Plus, I've been told all sorts of stories about his abusive behavior from various sources, including those who worked intimately with him, his ex-comedy partner Tom Davis chief among them. Tom probably knows Franken better than anyone other than Franken's wife, and while some of the stuff he told me about his old partner didn't surprise me, I did wonder how Tom put up with it for as long as he did. Still, the two of them produced some really funny bits on the original "SNL", so I will give Franken that. But a Minnesota Senator in the mold of the late Paul Wellstone? Don't make me laugh.

[...]

Well, obviously, she didn't get it. In fact, the experience rattled her in a way I'd never seen before. And who was her main tormentor? Al Franken! Sharon said that she would begin a character monologue as requested, but before she got 15 seconds into it, Franken would shout in that annoying voice of his, "NEXT." Franken also talked to other people while Sharon tried to perform, telling jokes and not paying attention to her efforts. Then he would stop, clap his hands sarcastically, then grunt "Got anything else?" After maybe 10 or so minutes, the audition was over, and Sharon was led out while Franken completely ignored her. She got her first serious taste of the pricks who run much of American comedy, and it deflated her.

Good thing we enlightened liberals progressives know how to keep someone's personal churlishness separate from their thoughts and ideas, huh?

The point is this: Prejean was asked, for some incomprehensible reason, what she thought about gay marriage. She gave her opinion --

"I'm a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman."

D'oh! My mistake! That was Barack Obama in an interview with the Chicago Daily-Tribune, so, uh, that makes it totally different! Anyway, Ms. Prejean gave her opinion --

"Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And, you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman."

-- which, to my coarse sensibilities, is so mundane and anodyne as to be worth no further attention. Last time I checked, beauty contestants didn't influence anyone's politics or make decisions regarding public policy. All people really want to do is watch them sashay around in bikinis. No one gives a fuck what they think about anything. No one would even remember this if a certain gossip-blogger, notorious for being a gigantic asshole (and a dishonest one at that) hadn't gone ballistic about it. And here we are, still hearing about this trivia like it matters, and hearing about her personal behavior as if it has a fucking thing to do with civil rights for gays. She gets to look like a victim of uptight p.c. bullies to those who follow politics, and after her nude photos and videotaped self-diddling, she could probably run for president and win with the 18-24 year-old male turnout alone.

Bravo, everyone. Bra-vo. I take it it wasn't enough you helped make Sam the Plunger a fixture in the news for months on end by dissecting his every inane utterance? Well, at least this shiny object is easier on the eyes, I guess.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Haunted By The Laughter Of Silenus

There is an ancient story that King Midas hunted in the forest a long time for the wise Silenus, the companion of Dionysus, without capturing him. When Silenus at last fell into his hands, the king asked what was the best and most desirable of all things for man. Fixed and immovable, the demigod said not a word, till at last, urged by the king, he gave a shrill laugh and broke out into these words: "Oh, wretched, ephemeral race, children of chance and misery, why do you compel me to tell you what it would be most expedient for you not to hear? What is best of all is utterly beyond your reach: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. But the second best for you is – to die soon."


- Nietzsche

Terrible news in German football:

Robert Enke, the Germany goalkeeper, lived with the daily dread of his depressive illness being exposed and the fear that it could end his career, his widow said yesterday.

“He didn’t want to seek professional help any more and he didn’t want it because he was afraid that it would all come out and that we would lose Leila,” Enke’s widow said. “It was the fear about what people would say about a child with a depressive father. And I always told him, ‘Don’t worry.’ Right to the end, he cared lovingly for Leila.
“I tried to be there for him, said that football is not everything. There are many beautiful things in life. It is not hopeless. We had Lara, we have Leila. I always wanted to help him to get through it.”
Her tears flowed when she accepted that her husband’s suicide was a kind of personal defeat. “We thought that we could do it all, that with love everything was possible,” she said. “But sometimes it’s not enough."

Love, fame and fortune -- none of it ever is. And for someone filled with insecurity and self-doubt, performing on a world stage in front of an often-fickle, judgmental audience is a level of immense pressure most of us can't even imagine.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

U.S. Out Of North America


Funny:

"We are glad that Barack Obama broke up the white male monopoly on the White House, but we were not looking for a change in the occupant of the White House from white to black, we were looking for change in foreign policies and domestic policies," he added.


I'm glad to see that naïveté, at least, truly is colorblind. What a great country it is, where we're all free to dream that a solitary great man, or woman, or transgendered developmentally disabled person of color, will somehow get elected and proceed to act in opposition to the system that nurtured and produced them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Tried This at Home

Aside from a fascination with the idea of killing women, Rammstein has another thing in common with Manson: Both were linked, however dubiously, to the Columbine massacre because the shooters were believed to be fans of their music (although that turned out to not be the case with Manson). In the genre of puerile, unimaginative, attention-seeking rock music, the dead woman motif seems to be experiencing a revival, so to speak. It yanked Manson out of cultural irrelevancy for a fleeting moment of media attention, and last month it helped Rammstein's album hit No. 2 in Europe and No. 13 in the U.S., a groundbreaking success for the band. Apparently dead women don't hurt record sales.

- Tracy Clark-Flory


Uh, more precisely, over-the-top pictures of women pretending to be dead on the cover of an album by a band known (by those who have devoted more than two minutes to learning anything about them) for not taking anything seriously, least of all themselves, don't hurt record sales. I suspect a few actual dead groupies discovered on the bus would put a serious dent in the band's touring plans, to say the least.

But leaving that aside -- the album cover "helped" them get to the top of the charts? How do we know this? Could it be that their fans, who pretty much know what to expect with each new record, just bought it anyway, and would have bought it even if they had pictures of rainbows and unicorns on the cover? And how does one picture constitute a "fascination" with the idea of killing women? Dear gawd, don't anybody let her hear any Slayer lyrics.

Most of all, I like the gratuitous way she brings up Columbine apropos of nothing while grudgingly allowing that they don't deserve to be tarred with that; it's just, you know, she's just saying. Okay, you might not share my disgust over this sort of thing, so, um, what about this, huh? A couple of psychotic teenagers liked their music too! Who cares if that's utterly irrelevant? Misogyny and, um, other bad stuff, booga booga!

Monday, November 09, 2009

More Joy In Heaven Over One Repentant Sinner

I ask in all seriousness: why does anyone give a bouncing fuck what Andrew Sullivan thinks about anything? I've never read a single thing from him that hasn't been said more intelligently or eloquently somewhere else. For lack of a better answer, I'm guessing liberals are fascinated by his waffling: just when you think he's sounding pretty reasonable, he again ponders why no one takes The Bell Curve seriously. Or he still acts periodically shocked that his party and his religion have no desire to accommodate people like him. They must thrill to the idea that someone could be redeemed from his bloodthirsty, jingoist past, even if the conclusions he finally arrives at after years of this ridiculous drama are things your average blog commenter found painfully obvious six years ago. Andrew Sullivan: the blogsophere's guilty pleasure soap opera.

IOZ already said all that ever needs to be said about him. I hope he doesn't mind me quoting extensively from those two posts because, goddamn, they're just that good:


But mostly there is the fact that Andrew Sullivan is a world-class, self-obsessed, bien-pensant twit writing a blog that, par contre Yglesias' praise, offers no substance other than a skein of narcissistic reflections, a strung strand of popcorn, a candy necklace. Yglesias says that Sullivan offers a sensibility, which is rather like saying that some poor, homely girl has a winning personality, a pretty laugh, or a great smile. Sullivan, to hear Yglesias tell it, is widely but not deeply read, occasionally funny, always self-involved, and never terribly original. He is, in other words, every other gay man with a bachelor's degree.

The problem with Sullivan isn't, as Yglesias says, that he doesn't actually know what on earth he's talking about, but that as the living avatar of banality, he is immensely popular, since there is nothing Just Folks like more than hearing what they already believe, but said purdier. Sullivan gets credit for somehow turning against Republicans, and if you operate from the assumption that the division that matters in America is between the Donkle and the Oliphant, then that credit is due. If, on the other hand, you find yourself in the ever-declining minority that asks into the substance of beliefs, here is what you find in Andrew Sullivan: a man whose Church irrationally condemns him and consigns him to damnation who is churched nonetheless; a man who believes in a modest bellicosity even though it always fails; a man who invariably condemns in the harshest terms the
avant, until he drags his dawdling arrière up the the very line that reasonable forward-thinkers long-ago laid down, and then from that vantage again condemns the swifter thinkers. He calls this "skepticism." Perhaps you can think of another term.

Sullivan calls himself a conservative, which in his writing, if not his mind, means a defender of his own habitudes against the depredations of those "fundamentalists" (Yglesias is good on his use of that word) whom he sees seeking some radical alteration of
Andrew Sullivan's quotidian existence. In the universe of his writing, Andrew Sullivan is the immovable object. The Church drifts from him. The War drifts from him. The Party drifts from him. But poor Andy, wherever he goes, there he is.


[...]



A war has killed tens of thousands, at least, and he mocks intemperance! By way of bastardizing a paraphrase: temperance in opposition to evil is vice. Where has temperate, conciliatory criticism gotten anyone so far in the fight to end this act of hubris? And if nowhere, then . . . ?

But that's a thought too far for the likes of Sullivan.

As for "those hoping for failure in the war on terror," there are no such people. There are only two camps: those who accept the premise that there is and can be a "war on terror," who uniformly hope for victory of some sort or other, and those who
do not accept the premise that there is or can be a "war on terror," who hope for neither victory nor defeat because neither eventuality has any bearing on the impossible conclusion to a nonexistent conflict.

That also is a thought too far for the likes of Sullivan, whose essential premises include the premise that his premises are essential.

The larger point is this: Michael Moore is no Susan Sontag, clearly, but he was still
more right than Andrew Sullivan, and sooner. He's a maker of agitprop, a populist, and a pretty shallow thinker, if that word even applies, but he nonetheless identified, at least partially, the error, crime, and folly of the Iraq War back when Andrew Sullivan was still ejaculating whole paragraphs of praise for the so-called liberation of Iraq and casting cheap aspersions on the person and character of his imagined domestic enemies, who had the temerity in a moment when the war was still popular in the American imagination to question it.

Michael Moore is one of the
least perceptive of antiwar voices, and he nevertheless perceived long before Andrew Sullivan the two basic features of the Iraq War: it is wrong, and it can't be won.

So rather than mitigating the tawdry insult he hurled at Sontag with his "award," Sullivan compounds it, because he refuses to consider that his mistake wasn't just nomenclature but
category, no less absurd than the dauphin's interlocuters telling us that they aren't "staying the course," but "adapting to win." Transferring the same shit from toilet to toilet only darkens the stains on his dirty hands.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Copracrasia



The reason's simple, and the same as it was during 9/11: they think soiling oneself is a sign of patriotism, and consider those who pants are not full of shit to be traitors.


I was just thinking after I heard the news that it's been a good, long time since Americans have gotten a chance to experience a really intense pants-shitting. Well, here we are, bedunged, berayed, bescumbered. If you aren't safe surrounded by soldiers and weapons...

IOZ already summed up my feelings on the matter. Now I'm just curious when John Derbyshire is going to castigate the victims for not counting the number of rounds fired before charging the shooter en masse.