The continuation of Skiing Uphill and Boregasm, Zug is 'the little blog that could.'

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Name: Ed Waldo
Location: of The West,

I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang . GIT'CHER ZUG SWAG HERE!

Friday, February 16, 2007

"A screaming comes across the sky."

Poisonous. That's what it is. It's that rowdy theater bunch at the end of Gravity's Rainbow. It's the chant of the half-obscene parody ditty, half-remembered and enthusiastically joined.

Entropy is mocking us, lewdly poking its tongue at us and brandishing a half-emptied bottle of tequila. (When speaking of Entropy, the glass is NEVER half-full. It is ALWAYS half-empty.)

I can scarcely recall a moment like this in my lifetime. Everything just seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, as though fundamental processes of the Universe were deteriorating; I am not at all convinced that I can trust gravity right now. It may be a law, but it seems poorly enforced.

Today, one glitch took out my dialup connection, which meant that I was neatly cut off from my email. Insane bureaucratic crap. Meantime, I'd just learned that my C: drive on the P4, "Big Blue," was essentially unrecoverable. The "click of death" indicates that the physical mechanism is screwed up beyond any immediate repair. The disc goes into storage for eventual (pricey) data recovery. But, there is more than a year's work on it, not backed up, so what can you do?

The price we pay for computers is learning that large portions of our brains have suddenly vanished, or become obsolete. As my Teacher used to say: A computer is a brain, as a camera is an eye.

Except that if your camera lens gets scratched, you don't lose your sight for a week.

Entropy is lying on its back, rolling helpless with laughter.

It is in our nature to delegate memory and other semi-automatic thought patterns to the "virtual" mind of the computer, and, slowly but surely, we find ourselves split: in two places at once, half the thought in our heads and half on our computer. So, when the computer dies suddenly, no matter how well backed up we are, it takes some time to restore both brain and computer.

Best case scenario? Some tech fixes it overnight. Worst case scenario? It never comes back.

But meantime, a chunk of us has been suddenly relegated to limbo, and we spend some time in phantom-limb limbo: feeling a computer that's not there.

Trust me: if you're not heavily into epistemology, and the nature of reality, you don't want to even GO in the direction of determining what does and doesn't "exist" in the case of the dead computer and its symbiotic taskmaster, YOU.

But I resurrected "Alpha" (the "mother" of the virtual movie star "Alpha" -- but that's too complex for this little blog). And right now, Alpha is trying to find the network, while the other computers are trying to find "Big Blue."

And I'm busy feeling the Teamsters of my subconscious packing away the "Big Blue" portions of my brain, and pulling out the "Alpha" stuff, because there's a whole lot of gigabytes of half-thoughts that need unpacking to use "Apha" effectively.

But it isn't just me. All around me, the systems are crashing. Major personal and financial crises. One thing gets fixed and another breaks. Things wear out. Entropy is having a temper tantrum.

It's Dagny Taggart struggling against Entropy on Steroids. (Entropy, not Taggart.)

Fine: I access my email via FTP on the high-speed wireless. But I can't send this out to my mailing list. Or, can I? YES! I can use the backup hotmail.com account (which I use when I'm on the road).

Entropy looks a little disappointed. Still, it is but a trifle. Entropy is kicking ass and taking names:

Air America suddenly becomes "solvent" again, and out of Chapter 11; Al Franken leaves. Ed Schultz gets in a shitstorm (two actually, a week or so ago, he all but COMMANDED Hillary Clinton on to his show, and she thus didst Ed's bidding). A potential ego supernova as he throws a temper tantrum on the air. Randy Rhodes makes sure she's NOT at AirAmerica on Al Franken's last day (although it is all but certain that she was celebrating his departure with champagne -- and no real pain at all).

One day after Valentine's day (what a weird time for all this crap to happen), and we've also got the House and Senate arguing about whether or not to say that escalating the war is a bad idea and something that Americans don't want, by a 70/30 margin in some polls.

Scooter Libby is on trial for the White House's vindictive outing of former Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife, for Joe Wilson's truthful New York TIMES Op-ed after the 2003 State of the Union address -- where Dubya Malaprop insisted Saddam was trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Africa.

Joe Wilson, you might recall, had the cojones to take on Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in the tense days before Gulf War I. Daddy Bush called Wilson a hero. His son was in such a hurry to "spank" Wilson that he not only outed Valerie Plame Wilson -- an undercover CIA operative specializing in nuclear proliferation -- but her entire CIA front company ("Brewster-Jennings") and exposed every person who'd ever had contact with anyone from Brewster Jennings to suspicion of being a stooge for the American CIA.

This is a very unhealthy thing to be in an awful lot of countries around the world.

Because Junior and "Darth" Cheney had all the emotional sophistication and intelligence of two third-grade bullies planning to ambush the kid with glasses on his way home after school.

It's so insanely petty and fundamentally crazed that no one seems to be able to get their minds around it. I recall that it was only two years ago, at this time, we were fixated on the former vegetable Terri Schiavo. Now it's Baby Anna Nicole whatever.

A screaming comes across the sky.

We're rattling our sabers (and sending in more carrier groups) about Iran. Now, Bush, Cheney and the rest of the organ grinder monkeys are claiming that Iranian weapons are being used to kill US soldiers in Iraq.

It's that same, "Osama is Evil and an Arab; Saddam is Evil and an Arab; they both hate America, ergo they must be the same guy" that led to this long Gulf War II in the first place. The one where we invaded Iraq just a few days after Joe Wilson had the gall to tell the truth about a blatant lie Bush told in his State of the Union Address. That war that began on March 20, 2003, 1,429 days ago, or 3.92 years ago. "March Madness." Like A Rock.

[Compare with World War II: 1365 days, or 3.74 years.]

Hey. Ronnie Ray-Gun got into office because of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Now Ronnie's Running Mate's Son is about to take the whole mad drama into the tragic Third Act.

Metaphysically speaking.

No: Entropy is standing on our magnificently carved marble gravestone in steel baseball cleats, tap-dancing like Fred Astaire on Crank. Entropy is knocking back shots of Cuervo and stopping to blast away at the portraits in the museum with a sawed off shotgun. Entropy's flunkie, Stupidity, is following behind, with a straw hat full of shotgun shells.

Entropy has tied us face down on the examination table of history. Entropy has pulled down our pants.

A screaming comes across the sky.


Synchronicity note: As I wrote this, Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" played on the FM station I'm listening to -- "Bob-FM," a Canadian FM format that's been successful enough to be ripped off at least thrice: Jack, Joe and Dave. But that's another story.]

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Little Zen Koan

More than one legal friend of mine has told me, over the years, that if you really want to see human beings at their very worst, the family law court is the place to go. One lawyer, an assistant District Attorney in Texas told me "by comparison, the criminal court is polite and civil."

When people are fighting over custody and dead people's money, NO blow is too low, and no vile stunt is beyond contemplation. (You might speculate for a moment on what heir of Anna Nicole Smith's zillionaire dead husband has a strong motivation for wanting the woman dead. I'm not accusing, just suggesting. )

Anyway, that wasn't the point. The point is this: The difference between commercial pornography and family law seems to be that in commercial pornography, the gang bang always takes place BEFORE the bangee stops breathing.

Six men (and their lawyers) have now stepped forward, claiming to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith's kid.

And, those selfsame networks that reflexively turn up their sainted little noses at the merest mention of commercial pornography are covering this necrophiliac gang bang like it was raining Krugerrands.

Which, in a sense, I guess it is.


Monday, February 12, 2007

The Cruelest Month

I've always been this way, I have to admit it. I used to correct my little brother's weird pronunciation of common words -- the longest-lived being "closent" for "closet" but there were others and they were legion.

I remember waking up to my GE clock radio (purchased on sale at Gibson's Discount on St. Michael's Drive with my supermarket paycheck) endless mornings in Santa Fe my senior year in high school, listening to Don McLean butcher the line "But FEB-YOOO-ARY made me shiver/with every paper I'd deliver."

And, even before coming fully conscious -- even before padding into the bathroom to extract one round, red Ritalin pill, toss into the toilet bowl and ritually piss on it (my mother was a pill-counter, and after a few months of my morning ritual, I was deemed "much better" and removed from the medication, the only known instance of reverse placebo effect I'm aware of). Even before that, I'd growl, "Feb BRU ary, you idjit!"

So, t'aint no literary affectation that I am in misery every February, as the mispronounced month is, mercifully, the shortest month. I involuntarily correct and remonstrate all month, and am invariably seen as a meddler, or, worse, one a' them egg-heads. I understand.

Obviously the reflexive correcting isn't working. But I told you the Ritalin story for a reason, which is mainly to suggest that I have been known to be extremely devious, and successfully so. A subtext and minor counterpoint is also to imply that I may well be bat-shit crazy, and so you need to pay heed, lest you awaken some morning to a prize racing bat's head in your bedclothes.


February comes to us from the Roman calendar, and the name derives from, according to Wikipedia:

February was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 in the old Roman calendar.

[from: A Guide for Practitioners of the Religio Romana

Similar to the mola salsa was the februa or pium far made for the purification rituals of the house and curiae that took place in February. This too was made of spelt roasted in an antique fashion, but salt is not mentioned in its preparation. The spelt was then pounded into rude cakes and offered to Juno on crude tables (mensae). Roman lictores carried februa for use in purifying houses, believed to have been used by strewing it on a doorsill of a house where someone had died and also as incense (Ovid Fasti 2.24-5). There was also the salsamina "made by mixing four kinds of fruit" (Arnobius Adversus Gentes 7.24), i.e. four kinds of grains.]
See? If it were "FebYOOary" then the name would derive from "feebus" or some other root for "feeble-minded."

So: the cleansing of February would indicate the attempts to correct the mispronunciation of the month itself, while the mispronunciation would indicate feeble-mindedness. This creates a neat rhetorical litmus test. You will note, in the media (which consists mostly of professional readers!) how the feeble-minded predominate.

Here is the sentence that no broadcaster in America can pronounce correctly (The Hart Williams Challenge™):

Athletes pay close attention to February's nuclear espresso temperature statistics.

Normally, it is pronounced "ATH-uh-leets pay close attention to FebYOOary's nook-yew-lar EX-presso TEMP_uh-chure SAT-istics"


Jesus H. Christ on a goshdarned hand-truck with a pile of shovels, what the heck is going on?

How did we get to be PROUD of being dumbasses? And how did we elevate that dumbass class into the "role model" arena? I realize that there's always been a battle going on between the intellectuals and the masses. But I promise you, that high school pre-Ritalin-pisser weren't no intellectual when he corrected "American Pie's" dumbass enunciation of February.

No. It's because many of these words are difficult to pronounce. The Wikipedia article cited earlier even offers up a phony intellectual rationalization as to why you dumbasses can't pronounce 'February.'

Many people pronounce "February" with a round 'u' instead of an open 'u' vowel, which forces the first 'r' to be eclipsed, viz. 'FEB-yoo-air-ee' instead of 'FEB-roo-air-ee.' That is, it elides into first half of the trailing diphthong. Otherwise, the flanking mid vowel ('e') and back vowel ('u'), combined with the final -ry syllable (front vowel 'ee') make the 'br' difficult for Anglophones to pronounce in the first place. The problem does not usually arise for Scotiaphones, however. The Scottish names for the month are "Feberwary" and "Februar," the latter usually pronounced with a long "ay" vowel in the first syllable.

Paradigmic analogy with January, which can only be pronounced with a round 'u' vowel, is another likely source for the employment of a round 'u' in February.
There you go.

In other words, English speakers who don't have Scotiaphones (which I take to be some kind of speaker system for Scottish hikers and bicyclists) just find pronouncing February too difficult.

OK. I'm down with 'dat, homes. Even though the standard by which social hierarchy has been adjudged for endless ages is one's ability to use language (see Shaw's "Pygmalion," or, for you dumbasses, "My Fair Lady," which has pretty songs to keep the ideas from hurting your brain). And, even though mail-order types have made livings for years by selling you "increase your vocabulary" gimmicks, and READERS DIGEST notes "It pays to improve your vocabulary," you're proud of being bested by a word that you've used all your life, are using right now, and will CONTINUE to use for as far as you want to peer into the future -- a word that's just too fucking HARD for you to pronounce.

OK. If you're an amateur, I can understand. You've got important things to do. If you want to continue pronouncing "February" like a dumbass, that's certainly your prerogative.

But don't look at ME like I got a problem if I mutter "FEBROOary" under my breath, after you mispronounce that word that's "too hard" for you. (I made a resolution on New Year's to try and get along with dumbasses this year. And, just this ONCE, I hope to make it to the end of February.)

After all, we can all understand how difficult the mere act of speaking is for you, and the terrible weight of moving your tongue around is almost more than humans can or should be forced to endure. I get that.

But it's the PROFESSIONALS not being capable of pronouncing the name of 1/12th of the entire year, and spending the entire cleansing month burnishing their dumbass credentials to a high sheen -- that's what's unforgivable here.

I mean, all that a lot of media folks do is help select (at best) the words that they read and then READ them. The fact that they can't pronounce February ought to be a cause for national ridicule. But no:

I live in a country in which a significant number of dumbasses believe that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs. Who believe that the planet is 6000 years old. Who are convinced that not every word that comes out of Condoleeza Rice's mouth is a lie. There are a tremendous number of dumbasses, given.

And I can understand the commercial wisdom of appealing to the dumbass demographic by putting talking heads on every screen repeating endlessly:

"Feb yoo ary, temp a chure, Feb yoo ary, temp a chure, Feb yoo ary, temp a chure, Feb yoo ary, temp a chure ..."

But, really, if your tongue is too stiff and ill-behaved to form itself around 'February' or any of those other words, get yourself one of those Stephen Hawking voice-synthesizer things, which pronounce 'February' correctly every time.

Who knows? If we make any progress on this pronunciation situation, we can press bravely forward and try to get dumbasses to figure out how to spell it.

They shouldn't be any harder to trick than my mother.