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Thursday, April 06, 2006
ODDS 'N ENDS
or, WE LOOK INTO THE S.U. MAILBAG
I won't even try to explain. These were the takes on yesterday's piece, articulated by some of this little blog's regular readers.
And, afterwards, a little bonus.
Letter Number One:
Perhaps the point against the Ruling party is not that they have a monopoly on lust, even inappropriate lust (now there's a topic), but the hypocrisy. The people who are in bed with the American Taliban are guilty at the highest levels of all the crap they used to enrich their coffers and smite their opponents.Here's letter number two:
bush got elected cuz clinton got a blowjobAnd here's letter number three:
One word--well, acronym, actually. NAMBLA. It would be an absolute trip to hear those rather outré individuals get on the air and debate our "local talk show hostess". Now that's entertainment.There you have it: unfiltered and unedited.
And here's the bonus I promised. My viewpoint on the whole matter of pornography from 1985.
You will note that nobody listened at all. But I find the little piece amusing, for reasons that now seem somewhat obscure. XRCO is having their twenty-somethingth annual awards show this month, of course, and they never did let me join. C'est la vie.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
RUSHING TO LIMBO
or, WHAT AIR AMERICA MEANS TO ME
I suppose that it was inevitable.
Initially begun perpendicular to Right Wing Talk Radio (or, for those of you in Washington, D.C., who regularly make a hash of language by acronymizing EVERYTHING, RWTR), "liberal" talk radio was going to "oppose" the RWTR, with actual reasoning, not-out-of-context-facts, and sans the fascist caller screening that only allows people who agree with you to get through, or, as is the occasional Roman Spectacle arena event, a carefully drugged liberal would be fed to the lion of the Right, who would thence see the light and agree with Rush "Talent on Loan from God" Limbaugh. Hoo haw!
The RWTR rationally claimed that only RWTR could possibly be entertaining, because 'libruls' had no sense of humor, weren't entertaining, and that America wouldn't listen. Quod erat demonstrandum. Q.E.D.
The old saying was "Pride cometh before the fall."
As though the half of the country that votes AGAINST their agenda didn't exist. The problem with living in a bubble of your own reflections is that you never see or hear that locomotive coming. Especially if you're parked in the middle of the tracks, listening to your own golden voice on your quintraphonic digital sound system, and you've mirrored the insides of your car windows.
And so liberal talk radio began perpendicular, to try and talk to not just the America that Rush Forgot, but to talk about all of America. And, mirabile dictu! liberal talk radio got a toehold, and started knocking off RWTR in the major markets. Not even. Just catching up, and fast.
But something happened on the way to the funny forum.
The LWTR became as weirdly partisan as the RWTR, who would claim that it is a Republican sun that shines down from a Republican sky dotted with fleecy Republican clouds, in Republican pastures wherein the Republican Children of God drive their Republican cars to Republican Churches to renew their invisible friendship with the Republican Jesus on Republican Sundays (and sometimes Wednesday nights, too).
Today was Sexual Hysteria Wednesday on Air America, the Jones Network, the local hosts on the Air America affiliate, and undoubtedly on RWRT, too.
But it's LWTR that concerns us here.
In virtually every case, the host made the Puritanical Moral Verity (and Balderdash) that having sex with children was WRONG, dammit!
As though there were a counter-argument to that position, as though there were some organized opposition to the notion that having sex with children was wrong. (And, if there were, that they would be stoooopid enough to call in to expound on their point of view).
There was a lot of dream logic -- which we'll get into in a minute -- but the key was in this, repeated by several hosts in various ways.
The stipulated facts:
That an official with the Department of Homeland Security struck up a sexual conversation with what he apprehended to be a fourteen-year-old girl, but who was, in actuality, a Sheriff's deputy, pretending to be a fourteen-year-old girl.
He gave the fourteen-year-old cyber-simulacra-girl his actual name, his office numbers at the Department of Homeland Security, and they tracked him down and tossed him in the clink, and are now reading his computer hard drive looking for the dirty bits.
This is the dream logic: this was a Republican crime.
I know. The sleight of hand was too quick for you. Now, let's watch again in slow motion. First, the story. Then the obligatory moral posturing. The uncomfortable thrill that it seems to give the host, as they bray just a little louder, get just a bit more emotional. Etcetera.
I have dealt a bit with this new Comstockery elsewhere.
Because the one thing that Republicans AND Democrats can agree on is that it's GREAT to condemn people who have sex with children.
There will ALWAYS be a weepy woman or man who calls in to tell you how traumatized the kids are.
There will always be ... well, you get the idea. We have ceased to think on these matters, and it is now on the order of a responsive reading. And you can call sexual predators "pigs" and nobody will complain. The opposite in fact.
We all like to take a debating position that's a sure fire winner.
But, in each case, as the litany is re-read, the final point had to be that this somehow proved that the Republicans were bad.
I don't know about you, Gentle Reader, but I have never once believed that sexual deviancy was the sole and exclusive proprietary right of one party or another. Some of our greatest politicians have been sexually deviant, scandalous, or otherwise not as good as we anonymous callers are.
And we have to face the fact that our society likes to use this indignation in the face of sexual behavior as a barn eave to crow from about our moral superiority to the miscreant in question. And who could argue with that?
None of us has ever had a dark fantasy that is deeply shameful. None of us has ever had dark thoughts about a baby sitter.
But then again, none of us has ever ACTED on those dark fantasies, either, right?
But to make this squirmy issue that we love to talk about but hate to ever deal with become a Republican thing is as crazy as, well, as the RWTR making it a Democratic thing.
And the train has gone off the tracks.
There is a fatal tendency, my Aikido teacher used to tell us, to be drawn into a conflict from natural opposition.
He tries to hit me, so I try to hit him back.
The idea was that if he wants to be imbalanced and fight, I don't have to oppose his energy -- his rage with my rage, his hate with my hate, his dirty trick with my dirty trick -- I can deal with his imbalance without losing MY balance.
If you can keep your head when all about you,
others are losing theirs and blaming it on you, quoth Kipling ...
But liberal talk radio has fallen into that trap of opposing hate with hate, scorn with scorn and derision with derision.
Which gets us no closer to a solution, but at least if we fall into Civil War, both sides will have trained cheerleaders.
And that's progress of a sort, I think we can say. Certainly it is better than having no partisan dream logic cheerleaders at all.
If you look at both parties, the one thing that both can agree on is a sort of grade-school 'gotcha' sexual prudery. While Clinton was being impeached for a blowjob, Newt was banging his government secretary in his government office and probably engaging in several more often different sorts of sodomy than Monica and Bill's furtive assignations and phone sex.
The oddity about it is that, if you think about it, were all of these good and upright citizens not carrying a lot of hidden guilt, the outpourings of rage and disgust would not be so vehement, nor their expressions so violent. One radio host concluded that in the still pending matter of the alleged rape and racial slurs controversy surrounding the Duke lacrosse team, isn't it true that all stripping is sexually demeaning?
Another talk show host went from the Homeland Security stingee (as opposed to the Sheriff's Department stingER) to sexual tourism, and, finally, how (by implication) men's sexuality per se was the problem.
But this isn't about that. There will be enough time later to cover the New Victorianism, and the absurd proposition still carried by those who ought to know better that women are the "fair sex," and that men are beasts. That one sex is morally superior to the other.
This is about the manner in which Air America et al have slowly shifted into positions that mirror Limbaugh, et al. The intolerance is beginning to show, and that serves no one. No one at all.
One would hope that the RWTR and the LWTR would be the "hot" and "cold" spigots of political discourse, and that we could adjust our flow to something approaching tepid or lukewarm: neither too hot nor too cold. But such is not the case.
The movement from logical policy debate to dream logic that ultimately can conflate behavior that is adjudged deviant with a particular political ideology is a long, slow movement. Air America celebrated its second anniversary over the weekend. And, for the past couple of weeks, since she came back from her leave of absence to act in "The West Wing"s swan song, Jeannine Garofolo has been completely out of control.
You know that someone is out of control when you fundamentally agree with them, and still feel your flesh crawl at their over-the-top approach, or the depths to which they're willing to stoop, rhetorically, to make their point.
That was the point that I started noticing it. Subsequent listening, culminating with today's all-day sexual auto da fe, confirms that LWTR has moved into an opposite position from RWTR, and yet both share certain characteristics that I cannot abide.
Both demonize. Both refuse to listen to any points of view with which they disagree -- at least for very long. Both impute all virtue to their own party and all vice to the other party.
Both play fast and loose with the facts.
Sadly, they are both filled with incurious hosts, who take positions that they then rabidly defend, rather than educating themselves. The "Mohammed Cartoon" controversy raged for weeks, but most talk show hosts ceased learning anything about it after the first day. On the Left, it was "ohhh. It OFFENDED my Muslim friends."
If something is a 'burning issue' and not merely fodder for another day's linguistic gymnastics, one would expect that people would educate themselves, and that the debate would become richer with the passage of time, and the introduction of new facts.
And, the first rule of censorship was in effect today: never censor on your own behalf. Always censor on behalf of others. This is very popular in debates about children, you might recall. No one ever shuts off speech or debate, or disallows a point of view because it offends THEM. It's because it offends someone else, and they are merely acting as their proxy.
Luckily, today's "debate" on matters sexual never became a debate because it was carefully framed so that any other point of view would be monstrous.
And, while this may be a soothing sort of mental masturbation (or, more precisely, EMOTIONAL), it is neither conducive to debate, to honesty or to solving the social problem it purports to represent.
For instance, in this orgasmic flush of high moral dudgeon not once, not in five programs that I listened to (at three hours per) did I hear anyone ask the first question that I asked:
If this is such a problem, and so widespread, then why is our first instinct to reach for the gibbet, the thumbscrew, the rack and the Iron Maiden? What does prison do to alleviate the deep-seated social problem that we're grappling with?
It is a well-known fact that sexual offenders have to be segregated from the general prison population. Why? Because the "moral" prisoners would kill the "perverts" if they got a chance. When the 1980 New Mexico prison riot turned into one of the ugliest in U.S. history, the FIRST thing the rioting prisoners did was get into the sexual offenders' area and kill them.
Because of "morality"?
I would suggest that we re-examine our morality, if that be the case.
No: that kind of morality is precisely criminal, which is why it is so easy for criminals to embrace it. And why it ought to be a caution to us.
If the problem of child molestation (and we're back to that old difference between an actual child and a legally-defined child, between statuatory rape and actual rape that the vast majority of thoughtful listeners cannot differentiate between) is so GRAVE, then what do we do about it, other than sending all sexual offenders to Devil's Island? Shouldn't THAT be the debate, and not this phony moral posturing?
The conflation of sexual hostility today was astonishing.
This morning, a fellow from the University of Texas, Bob Jensen, essentially created a false equivalence that Hugh Hefner (who turns 80 this month) had brought "pornography into the mainstream" with PLAYBOY in 1953.
PLAYBOY shows titties*. That's it. They tried to show pubic bush in the mid-seventies, but backed off. That is NOT the same thing as "Cum Guzzling Whores, Volume 23." It's like equating 4th of July sparklers with cluster bombs, and prosecuting four-year-olds with sparklers for war crimes.
[*NOTE: I remain at a loss to understand precisely WHAT functional role breasts play in coitus. I recognize their recreational possibilities, of course, but they are not, in themselves, at all sufficient for sex to transpire. So, the use of "pornography" in referring to PLAYBOY might seem a tad lunatic. Else, perhaps, someone would explain to me why the sight of naked women's breasts will cause the End of Civilization as We Know It? But then, today WAS Sexual Lunacy Wednesday, after all.]
Sadly, this fellow hid his main agenda, which is straight MacKinnon/Dworking, or, as Nadine Strossen, the former president of the ACLU delightfully coined it, a "MacDworkinite." No: he played it cooly professorial, as though his free-lance career weren't built in large part on his anti-sexual tracts, monographs and articles.
Robert Jensen, Houston Chronicle, April 19, 2005, p. B-9:
"Dworkin was called a man-hater not because she hated men but because so many men do not want to face that challenge, so many men will not come to terms with what it will take to end that violence. Dworkin is gone, but her challenge remains, and I would like to restate it for men: Before dismissing her work as man-hating, read her work for what we can learn, not just about the experiences of women but about ourselves. Take up that loving challenge she offered. (See www.andreadworkin.net)Well, Bob, I've read Andrea Dworkin, and I read a good chunk of your stuff today, and I can only say that if you learned "what it means to be a man" from Dworkin, you are one screwed up dude, dude. She was a man-hater. I read "Our Blood" cover to cover, and it was one of the most astonishingly offensive, man-hating things I've ever read, on a par with "Mein Kampf" for its sheer over-the-top twisting of history to make ugly points.
It is perhaps telling that when Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin convinced the Canadian Supreme Court to accept their formulation that naked depictions of women and worse were inherently "hate speech," the first book that was stopped at the border by Canadian Customs was one by ... Andrea Dworkin.
Beware of those unintended consequences when you hold to an agenda of suppressing thought you don't like. The thoughts that get suppressed just might be yours. Something about the tolling of bells for thee, I suppose.
And that is where we're headed back to: an intolerance and hive-cleansing mentality on the left that matches the one on the right. Which is a bad thing, I will submit.
Buddhists and Greek philosophers agree: moderation and the middle way are the path to tread. Of course, then, they're men, and a lot of what I heard today was about the moral inferiority of men. Is this what "progressive thought" is coming to?
We shall soon see.
In the meantime, I just listen to my radio and wonder how much worse things can get. A lot worse, I fear. But here on 04-05-06, I note that dominoes generally fall in a predictable pattern, and the pattern isn't a happy one. I wish that an astrologer friend would explain to me what malefic aspect catalyzed this day of sexual hysteria. But I doubt that I'll ever find out.
At this point, increasingly, the major casualty in the national debate is the truth. All sing:
Rushing to LimboCourage.
SOMETIMES YOU GOTS NOTHING TO SAY
or, AMERICA NEEDS A NEW CONGRESS, WITHOUT DeLay
You've heard the news, no doubt.
And there's nothing earth-shattering to say today, except:
Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, Tom.
I just wanted to take advantage of the 01:02:03 04/05/06 phenomenon to say that.
Hopefully, posting this at that weird witching hour will invoke no Qliphotic demons or Republican operatives -- if that usage isn't inherently redundant.
Another one bites the dust.
Monday, April 03, 2006
GOOD BEHAVIOR AND THE RULE OF LAW
or, BEING RIGHT MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU'RE SORRY
Here, from the U.S. Constitution:
Article III. - The Judicial BranchDear Posterity:
Hart here. I've been meaning to write, but you know, it's the middle of tax season, and I'm working seven days a week, and I can cite lines on the 1040, even though I learned back at the dawn of computers that if you memorize stuff, in two years, it's changed, and you've committed a significant part of the storage of your brain to now-useless information. Same with tax forms.
I learned FORTRAN IV in college. Later, I learned BASIC. I learned the Compugraphic typesetting system, starting with the old Compugraphic IV, and moving all the way through the black-and-white days of the 7700, 7900, to the 8610, and thence to Dawn, and finally, into PC's Quark Express and thence to Pagemaker -- that bad program that indecently refuses to die.
I learned the parallel system of Compugraphic's rival, Varityper, through the 4510 and the 5200, and thence to the 6000 series, et al, ad infinitum, etcetera.
And each damned generation of computer changed its language. I had a novel, written in WordStar 3 lost in cyberspace for years, because I had foolishly ported it into WordStar 5 Professional, which was written in Turbo Pascal, evidently, and was an evolutionary dead end. Then, in 1995, I was able to load WordStar for Windows, which was a briefly resurrected version of WordStar -- that program which had dominated the early days of CP-M. And my novel no longer floated in limbo. I was able to pull up the documents from the old 5-1/4 discs and port it into MS Word, from whence it has been translated through a variety of media.
This letter to you, Dear Posterity, for instance, is being written on Word 2000, with most of the higher functions turned off, like Dave disembrained HAL 9000 in "2001: A Space Odyssey."
And all of those "programs" -- those thoughts made almost tangible, or at least of a measurable size, residing on a hard drive, or an optical disc -- all of those programs are mastodons, now. Hunted out of existence by the nomadic coding tribes of the Silicon Valley, in California.
So I don't memorize stuff. Like I said: I'm doing taxes.
I know from my reading of history that what takes place on the front pages of the newspapers is rarely what was actually going on.
When I was a kid, I used to go to the Coe Library, at the University of Wyoming, and read the newspapers of the twentieth century on microfilm, and mostly for awhile about World War II, which was a great favorite memory then, with movies and books and magazine articles, and they were still speculating if Hitler was REALLY alive, and living in Argentina.
And you know all those great battles we learned about? Well, very often, what was the "marquee" war headline of the day had nothing to do with what we now know to be the critical battle or whatever that day. Or even that week, because they also had the old LIFE magazines from the war, and the old TIME Magazines, and it was the same thing. They had no sense of what was important and what was trivial in that moment.
So I know that you there in Posterity Land are wondering why I'm not talking about the discover of the solar-powered anti-gravity cell that made all of this go away and created a whole mess of problems all its own.
But I wanted you to know how it looks from here.
The ability of anyone to surveill anyone else is really obscene. Some people blew up two buildings a few years back, and suddenly they're building a Great Wall along the Texas-New Mexico-Arizona-California border. They're wholesale wiretapping without any warrants. It seems to be a sophistication of the FBI's old "Carnivore" program, that filtered email indiscriminately, looking for "key words" or phrases. Now, I guess, they've upped voice-recognition technology to a level that they simply take the main phone line nodes (most internet communications still take place through phone lines) that ATT, various Bells, AOL, etc. who agreed to allow them access, and they've plugged in their listening technology to all communications.
Sniffing for key words and phrases, no doubt.
But you know better than I do, Posterity. I'm just making some educated guesses, which is, I guess, what living forward in time is always like, and looking backwards in time usually isn't.
And, I have few doubts that they have started spying on their friends and enemies as well. Domestically. Why? That kind of "power" in knowing everyone's dark secrets is like that Ring of Tolkien's. You can't wield that kind of power and not be corrupted by it.
It seems like the bullies have taken over our society. Those kids that used to make fun of you, and physically intimidate and beat on you; those slick types who used to delight in humiliating you.
But there is no adult supervision.
So, I don't know whether you'll be reading this on a space station, or by candlelight in a cave.
And everybody wants to fight about nuclear weapons, Posterity, which really makes an astonishing amount of not sense. Just when insult and acting like a drunken cowboy in the middle of his paycheck at a railhead saloon has all but peaked, everybody's spoiling for a fight. The old virtues of moderation, humility, decency, loyalty and patriotism are utterly lost, even as demagogues, preachers and free-lance lunatics wrap themselves in the flag and the "Bah-bul."
You know better than I, Posterity.
We seem to be in a classical antebellum period. And, if this is what they're like, I can safely report to you, Posterity, that the anger and the emotions come first, and the justifications only follow along later, sometimes even trailing the event itself.
Bush invaded Iraq. Then he changed the reason for invading, and good Americans everywhere now are willing to defend the wiretapping, the suspension of habeas corpus, the secret prisons, the ADMITTED and flagrantly reserved right to torture, and the rest of it, for the reasons he gave LATER.
I know that civilization is just a veneer. Once, when I was in St. Elizabeth's homeless shelter in Santa Fe, I met a man who'd been a witness to the New Mexico Prison Riot of 1980, in which, in three days, "civilized" people -- criminals, yes, but civilized -- descended back to a time before Hammurabi came along with "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." In just 72 hours, they went from the twentieth century to neanderthals.
I can't help but chuckle, Posterity, that here we are, back in the old Mesopotamia, back in the Arabian Nights of Ali Baba's Baghad, and instead of an eye for an eye, we're taking a thousand eyes for every eye. We killed more than 3,000 a long time ago.
Here's the latest death statistics.
American Deaths - Official Count
Others estimate it from 18000 - 48100 wounded, but you know better than I do about that, Posterity. And you know when it was that the grisly odometer stopped clicking over.
I hope. It DID stop didn't it?
They don't even bother to count the Iraqi dead.
But that wasn't why I was writing you, Posterity. I wanted to talk about that "good behavior" thing. I was going to write about one of our Supreme Court Justices, who is most definitely displaying anything BUT "good behavior," but when I started looking, I found that nowhere in the various Constitutional discussions, histories, debates, modern articles, etcetera does anyone really have a definition of what "good behavior" actually means.
And, Posterity, I have this feeling that's what you most remember about this time I'm writing from.
I'm trying to be on my best behavior in an age where no one seems to know what it means.
That's all I really wanted to say, Posterity.
Oh, and thanks for the birthday card. The five bucks really came in handy.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
IMPOSSIBLE TIMEhart williams
This short Sunday blog is sent to you in impossible time. This morning at precisely 2AM, all clocks (except for Arizona and Hawai'i) were set forward one hour to "Daylight Savings Time." This concept was invented by Benjamin Franklin, who is celebrating his 300th Birthday this year.
The hour between two and three doesn't ACTUALLY disappear. It reappears in the fall, when we go off of "Daylight Savings Time."
What "Daylight Savings Time" actually does is to separate ONE HOUR's worth of chronitons from the Generalized Matrice of Time (that GMT you've heard so much tell of*) and send them forward along the timeline (no longer burdened by the relative inertia of the generalized time line, one hour can traverse null space with surprising speed and elan) to the point in the Autumn whence it REJOINS the timeline and we "repeat" an hour to resynchronize everyone's clocks to "standard" time.
Franklin discovered this effect while experimenting with lightning.
You Go, Founding Father Dude!
[* GMT is also referred to as "ZULU TIME" in the military, which is an obscure Trekkie reference to the character of the helmsman of the original Enterprise.]
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* O T H E R S T U F Fo There is no other stuff at this time. There might be someday, though. One can always hope.