07jan2009 Live at City Park: Unnamed Codger with a Walkman
I was sitting on a bench reading a book in City Park (that's its namehappily, it's not named after some stupid politician or dead, dumb order follower) when this old codger trudged up to another bench, lay his jacket and backpack on it, and climbed the stairs to the stage. Facing the back of the bandshell, he slipped on a large pair of earphones, turned on a portable CD player, and began to belt out Sinatra songs.
"I've got the world on a string . . . Life is a wonderful thing, as long as I hold the string!"
In a canyon town, even quiet sounds can echo all over the place but harness a bandshell and you serenade the world. Every dog up and down Brewery Gulch began barking and howling along.
"Dont you know you fool, you never can win . . . Use your mentality, wake up to reality!"
I was meeting someone elsewhere, so I couldn't stay for the whole show.
"And even when I'm old and gray, I'm gonna feel the way I do today!"
But I'm going back tomorrow.
How 'bout a little reverb, willya Nellie, for chrissakes? Yer killin' me, ya kooky nut ya.
Item:Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Today Felicia sent in: "A screen capture from a facebook chat this morning. I made jesus mad."
Item:Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
That means NO pretty pitchurs, and to illustrate (GONG!) why, here's Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner to explain the finer details of hypostatic union by . . . drawing a pretty pitchur.
Or maybe Jesus. Well, maybe both. Hang on, he'll let you know when he's finished.
Kurt Warner on theology (transcript):
If this thing looks corny, I can't even show it, 'cuz . . . my god's not corny. I know that . . . Tryin' to draw god the father, but to me, it looks more like Jesus . . . how I picture him, so, take that for what it's worth. Obviously, the difference is that . . . I believe they're two separate . . . beings . . . uh, one being the father, one being the son, yet, connected at the same time. One in spirit. But, obviously, Jesus is the son that was sent down, and the earthly form that we all have come to reckanize, where god the father, although the Word says, is spirit, I think we always, just because of what we're used to, and how we reckanize things, we place a, a body to to him, and, um, and that's, y'know, that, to me, is, is the difference, that I have a heavenly father that I see as more of the old man, the gray hair, the long beard, uh, and then Jesus as the younger man of the two, um, yet, completely the same, in, um, in spirit and in nature, yet, separate at the same time. So, I'm, I was drawing a picture of god, but it's, uh, come out to be more like Jesus, so how 'bout we just stick with that being Jesus? 'coz it looks more like my image of, of Jesus than . . . the father.
The theological lesson here is: people, DON'T make football players string sentences together, please! ESPECIALLY on the subject of Christological mysteries. Let's face it, anyone who tries to make any real-world sense whatsoever of anything having to do with the Trinity ends up sounding like a football player, so I think we can all agree in thanking Christ that Kurt didn't try to explain the Holy Ghost.
Oh dear, what is this strange, burning error message that has emerged fully from my computer screen? ARGH MY EYES THEY MELT!! . . . [remainder of absurd screaming Lovecraftian ending deleted]
State Senator Andrew J. Lanza is planning to introduce legislation to call again for his borough to secede from the rest of New York City. (NYT)
For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument -- that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. -- very seriously.
When the going gets tough, he says, wealthier states will withhold funds from the federal government and effectively secede from the union. (Wall Street Journal)
Isn't it something? I mean, do you lovvvvvve baseball? There's not a thing the Yankees can do. They can't have the quarterback kneel down on the ground. They can't freeze the ball. Sooner or later, they gotta throw it! Three and two, two down, and the runners ready to go! Vin Scully
As predicted in this space last year (and earlier; for instance in March of 2007, well before the meltdown began in August of that year), an epic and global financial crash is now underway. Worldwide, stock market investors have lost about $32 trillion in wealth in the last year, per Eric Fry of Agora Financial. Throw in the losses in real estate, bonds, and commodities, and the total loss might exceed $60 trillion, reports Kurt Kasun, who adds: "This is beyond rescue. It is virtually impossible to overstate the dire consequences resulting from the severity of the declines recently experienced in almost all asset classes--from both a technical and fundamental viewpoint."
The global financial crisis now underway is larger and deeper than any in living memory; it will be talked about for millennia, assuming mankind survives that long. Yet most economists and talking heads in the lamestream media, including print as well as television, failed to see it coming, just as they missed the call on the housing and dot-com bubbles. Paul Krugman confessed last week on the NY Times Opinion page that ". . . the failure [of economists] to see the most obvious bubble of my lifetime remains a puzzle."
It may be a puzzle to Krugman, but the answer is simple: Most economists and paid commentators are Keynesians (see also this video on the results of Keynesian policy; 7 min 29 sec) who believe in government economic intervention (i.e., control via taxation, regulation and spending) combined with central banks and fiat currencies. In short, Keynesianism consists largely of central planning (the lynchpin of the old Soviet Union and Red China under Mao, although Keynesianism allows for a semi-market economy) combined with heavy taxation and epic levels of unrestrained counterfeiting, with the wealth thus extracted from citizens being spent on more central planning and, in the case of the United States in particular, on war and on maintenance of an empire; for example, on our 750+ foreign military bases (see also here) around the planet. The wealth thus drained from the lower and middle classes flows to favored corporations, government agencies, and other special interests. Overall, the wealth extracted from citizens is redirected to those who already have wealth and power, for they control the system. What little does flow to the lower and middle classes (Social Security, Medicare, "free" education, welfare payments, etc.) has the added benefit, from the elite's point of view, of making the great mass of citizens ever-more dependent upon the State; eventually, the helpless, infantilized citizenry looks to the State for nearly everything.
No wonder Keynesians have been so clueless: Those mechanisms and their side-effects are the cause of the present crisis.
Why, then, do so many economists and commentators hold Keynesian views? Because those same mechanisms are also the core of the elite's wealth and power, and since the elite control the major broadcast and print media and most universities, any economist or paid commentator who does not champion the Holy Trinity of government intervention, central banking, and fiat currency is shut out of the system.
Nearly everything the federal government, the president-elect, and the Federal Reserve have done or have announced plans to do runs counter to what is necessary to recover from today's unfolding disaster. Actual and proposed actions consist almost entirely of short-term pseudo-fixes, jaw-dropping thefts from American taxpayers, and shameless, outright power-grabs. All of this will make the problem worse, prolonging and deepening the pain.
And so, as mentioned, the U.S. government and its monopoly-chartered central bank have created trillions of new dollars, handing most of it to the banksters and other key players who helped create this crisis in the first place.
Give that last sentence a moment's thought: a small group of people gave trillions of your dollars – not that you have that much money – to, well, mostly to crooks and failed businessmen. No one asked your permission, and now suddenly you and your children and grandchildren, and probably even their grandchildren, are in debt for an unpayable, galactic-sized pile of money – money you did not borrow or spend, but which others did – in your name!
It is worth noting that the United States has already endured hyperinflation twice, once during the Revolutionary War when our fiat "continental currency" lost so much value that the phrase "not worth a continental" entered the American lexicon, and then again during the Civil War. Fortunately for those who benefit from inflationary policy, most U.S. public schools apparently don't find the topic worthy of discussion--yet another reason to get government entirely out of the schooling business.
The America we knew is disintegrating, and the public treasury is being looted by those in charge as the walls come down. Worse behavior, and not only in the financial realm, is on the way.
Levels of theft and corruption, and of blatant, visible disdain for the rule of law, have largely been within traditional limits – what might be termed a "standard pattern" – for most of this nation's history. The rot has been ever-present but sufficiently limited and disguised that Americans could pretend otherwise; our extremely high living standards certainly helped in that regard.
All of that is now coming to an end. A fractal break is occurring.
The theft and corruption aren't going away, but instead increasing exponentially. The pattern is visibly changing, and the common perception of the United States as a prosperous, safe, and free society where the rule of law (and, far more importantly, actual justice) is the expected and mostly-real norm is rapidly dying. America is dying with it, for America is more an idea than a set of land boundaries or government institutions; America was explicitly created as a haven for human liberty.
We never got it right, of course: our early slavery and genocide hardly fit with the ideals of liberty, and especially since 1913, our federal government has grown like a cancer to a size previously unthinkable. So perhaps it is no surprise that the whole enterprise is now collapsing, with government power increasingly drowning individual freedom in a tidal wave of police-state and coercive-socialist tyranny.
The America of Henry David Thoreau, of Mark Twain, of Walt Whitman, of Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine and the millions more who brought this nation into being and kept it alive in their hearts and, to a large extent, on the ground, for so long – that America, the real America, the "asylum for mankind" that Paine wrote about so eloquently – that America is gone, fading already into myth and legend, gone soon even from living memory as the last citizens who remember America's dying embers wink out from this world, one by one.
In their place: a new citizenry, molded by government schooling and control and constant statist propaganda, clamoring now for a strongman to take control. . . .
ONCE UPON A TIME,
SOMEONE WAS LYING IN BED.
"BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP," HE SAID,
"I WOULD LIKE TO SING A SONG
I DO NOT WANT TO SING ANY OF THE SONGS I KNOW
THEY ARE OTHER PEOPLE'S SONGS.
I WANT TO SING A SONG THAT IS ALL MY OWN
I GUESS I WILL HAVE TO MAKE UP A SONG."
THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT THE SONG SHOULD BE ABOUT
DECIDED THE SONG SHOULD BE ABOUT
THE THINGS HE KNEW.
THE SONG STARTED....
FIRST THERE IS THE EARTH
AND UNDER THE EARTH THERE IS A COAL MINE
AND UNDER THE COAL MINE THERE IS A GOLD MINE
AND UNDER THE GOLD MINE THERE IS A RIVER
AND UNDER THE RIVER THERE IS
AND ON TOP OF NOTHINGATALL THERE IS A RIVER
AND ON TOP OF THE RIVER THERE IS A GOLD MINE
AND ON TOP OF THE GOLD MINE THERE IS A COAL MINE
AND ON TOP OF THE COAL MINE THERE IS THE EARTH
In just over two years, the minimum wage is up over 41%. As a company that employs a lot of minimum wage workers in Arizona, I thought I would report on the impact to date. As a quick background, my company runs campgrounds (and other recreation facilities) all across the country. We typically employ retired couples who live in their RV onsite and work both for the free camp site as well as a wage, usually minimum wage. In a good year, our business makes between 6-8% pre-tax profit on sales, which I can tell you is a thin, thin cushion given all of my life's savings are locked up in this one investment.
I don't know where minimum wage supporters think the extra money comes from to pay higher wages. If they think at all, I suppose they would say that the government is in effect collective bargaining for these workers and getting businesses to cough up some of their immense profits to pay a bit better wage.
Well, our labor costs are about 50% of revenues (we are a service business). This 50% is not just wages, but other costs calculated as a percent of wages, such as FICA, medicare, and unemployment taxes and workers comp premiums. So, if I still want to earn a living for myself, and the state says half my costs must go up by 41%, then it means that prices are going up 20+%. And that is what has happened.
Remember, at the same time, fuel prices, electricity prices, insurance prices, and everything else has gone up, so that camping prices have risen by 20% or more. But there is a limit to how far we can push prices, particularly since our typical customer tends to be relatively low-income. So we are pursuing two other longer term responses:
* We are increasingly turning to automation solutions, like automatic pay systems and gates, to replace people. While we like to have someone actually there to answer questions and to help visitors, fee collection machines work 24 hours, are not subject to overtime rules, they never get hurt, they never sue us, and the government never passes laws to increase their price.
* We are changing our operating strategy from hiring retired couples who live on-site to hiring younger workers. This is a change I really hate. The business model of hiring retired folks who live on-site at a campground is an old and successful one. Folks in their seventies (and I even have workers in their eighties and nineties) don't work very fast, and they have more workers comp claims, but they had the ability to live on-site and life experience that helped them with customer service. But trade-offs that worked at $5.15 an hour don't work as well at $7.25 and higher. So far only selectively, but we are hiring younger folks from the local community to come in and do some of the janitorial and maintenance work. Even if I pay them $8 or $10 an hour, they make sense if they can be twice as productive.
If there were dead bugs in Kashi's 7 Whole Grain Puffs, I'm not sure how I'd tell. Something just fell out of the box that looks like an insect casing. It's more than likely a rice husk or a buckwheat hull, but you never know. The first time I tried Kellogg's Just Right cereal I ate an entire bowl and it wasn't until I thought Hrmm, that was pretty good and poured the second bowl that I saw the entire contents utterly writhing with meal worms. (I hadn't noticed because I like to read a book while I eat and sometimes while I'm pouring. About 50% of the time, evidently. I hope I was reading a book about entomology.) I have to say, though, the rest of the world is right: worms are fairly tasty, or at least not that distinguishable from Kellogg's Just Right cereal. Insect casings, I'm not so sure about. That's like eating someone's sleeping bag at the end of a two-week canyon hike.
Here's Google's big help for me on the subject:
No. LeAnn Rimes probably wouldn't. But WikiAnswers has something at least related:
Q: What happened to Just Right cereal? A: Kellogs stoped [sic] selling it in the US. Looks like the brits, aussies, and canadians still get it. =(
1. Bon appetit, non-U.S. English speaking worm eaters!
2. I decree mine to have been a rice husk!
To rid the map of every trace
Of Germany and of the Hun
We must exterminate that race
We must not leave a single one
Heed not their children's cries
Best slay all now, the women too
Or else someday again they'll rise
Which if they're dead, they cannot do.
You might think a people with a strong religious tradition wouldn't see things quite that waybut only if you weren't real familiar with Holy Scripture:
And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them. (Deuteronomy 7:2)
But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. (Deuteronomy 20:16)
And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain. (Deuteronomy 2:33-34)
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. (Psalm 137:9)
The men in the trenches in 1914 learned that order givers don't like it when order followers start figuring out that people are just people:
You have to wonder how much of history's grief might have been avoided had a certain tribe of Bronze Age order followers been able to see through their Order Giver, instead of leaving behind texts to serve, down through the ages, as pretexts for sanctified slaughter?
Look, I hate smoking. It took my parents from me, my father with lung cancer, my mother with emphysema. They both liked Luckies. When my dad's cancer was diagnosed, they played it safe and switched to Winstons. Roger Ebert
"Dudes. Please stop sending me pictures of your penises. I really don't need them and I don't know what to say to you besides, `Nice vein.' Is that what you're looking for?"
(Secret message: There are at least two other people pointing fingers on this page.)
19dec2008 Sentence from one of those weird family Xmas letters people feel like they have to send out
"As the chemo dripped into Katie's hope-filled veins, Rob sketched new ideas of pieces to turn on his wood lathe."
1. Yes, it is from a genuine Xmas letter.
2. No, I don't know what the fucking WHAT is up with that shit. All I know is it's easily the weirdest sentence I read all day (as long as this is disqualified.)
18dec2008 Sneak peek at dialogue from the sneak peak showing of the full premiere episode of the new Flight of the Conchords season (offical unsneaky premiere: 18jan2009but that's, like, a year from now)
Jemaine: Are you living in your car, Murray? Murray: No! Course not, it's illegal! You can't do that . . . apparently . . . unless you move your vehicle every three hours. [Wristwatch alarm beeps.] Murray:[Sighs] I've gotta go.
(If you didn't catch the first season of Flight of the Conchords, I guess you don't have a bittorrent client HBO. Anyway, the show's well worth paying for, if that's your thing. Plus, for your money you get series regular Kristin Schaal, playing against type in the role of not a horse.)
17dec2008 Holy cow do Reddit readers sure know how to tax a server or what
16dec2008 "I don't think I want to be a good dog anymore": Songs for Laika
Pond, "My Dog is an Astronaut, Though"
you strapped the dog into a chair,
she tried to lick your face
then you counted backwards and
you launched her into space
you made no provisions
for bringing her back home
high and all alone
you can look into the sky
you might see a falling star
if I get one wish
I hope that Laika will go far
I hope she sails on and on
across the universe
finds there some new world
where she'll be safe from man's experiments
that don't have come home parts
free from being bound by chains
or left alone in cars
wonder if she'll think about
a family back on earth
my dog is an astronaut
light years away from home
she lives up in heaven
howling above the moon
she's not coming down
it takes more than you
to keep a good dog on the ground
she's not coming back
it takes more than you
to keep a good dog down
every night I look out my window
I find the faintest star above
how'd you ever pick a name
that you're never gonna use enough
why'd you name her
if that was your big plan?
Jonathan Coulter's "Space Doggity"
The cage is very small
A tiny silver ball
That makes you a hero
The moment you step inside
The world is watching you
What you're about to do
Will live on forever
Even though you'll be dead
We're about to turn the engines on.
Hello from Sputnik 2
I am receiving you
Thanks for the dog food
I'm somewhere above you now
Guess what, Malashenkov?
I took the collar off
I'm holding my own leash
And walking myself outside
I don't think
I want to be a good dog anymore.
Now I'm floating free
And the moon's with me
And it's bright enough
To light the dark
And it's so high up here
And the stars so clear
Are they close enough?
Will they hear me bark from here?
Moscow to Sputnik 2
I think we're losing you
Your life signs are fading
We can't really say that we're
It's a shame
There is always something that gets compromised
Now I'm floating free
And the moon's with me
And it's bright enough
To light the dark
And it's so high up here
And the stars so clear
Are they close enough?
Will they hear me bark from here?
"Her name was Laika and she went up in Sputnik 2. In doing my "research" I discovered that Russian scientists recently released the truth about what happened to her during the launch, which is that she died just a few hours into it, and not after a week as they originally claimed. She died from stress and overheating (the cooling system malfunctioned and it was 104F in there) but mostly she died from being LAUNCHED INTO SPACE IN A FUCKING ROCKET.
I thought it would be much nicer if instead Laika gave scientists the finger, stepped out in a spacesuit and then disappeared. Whereabouts unknown…" Jonathan Coulton
With the tax burden, tax delinquency, and bankruptcy rising, the country became increasingly ripe for a tax revolt. Tax delinquency increased from its normal rate of 10 percent to more than 30 percent, and tax protest organizations formed spontaneously in rural regions, in response to attempts to sell the property of farmers to
meet their tax obligations. Likewise, taxpayer leagues formed in urban areas to protest high taxes and property foreclosures. Estimates placed the number of such organizations at between 3,000 and 4,000 nationwide.
Prohibition also wiped out alcohol sales tax and licensing revenues going to city, county, and state governments. Repeal re-established these revenues, permitting property taxes to be reduced. Repeal, therefore, brought victory to the tax resistance movement, whose primary aim was to reduce the burden of the property tax.
Evidence from four major cities demonstrates that property taxes declined in overall importance after 1933.
Normally, tax redistribution would not be considered a tax reform victory, but, in this case, Repeal produced a clear defeat for taxes and government authority. Property taxes were cut and alcohol consumers received what amounted to a substantial tax cut equal to more than 2.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product.
Even if we ignore quality, information, and transactions costs, the Repeal of Prohibition, along with a 100 percent tax on alcohol products, would still leave the American alcohol consumer better off. In an economy of approximately $100 billion and an alcohol products industry of approximately $5 billion, a reduction in prices
in excess of 50 percent amounts to a substantial tax cut for the country in general, and for alcohol-consuming households in particular. Surely, this must have been one of the main reasons for Franklin Roosevelt's popularity.
However, these victories were not without their drawbacks, as local governments began to develop new sources of revenue such as the sales tax. Another major drawback of tax limitation was that local governments became more dependent on the state and federal government. Donovan F. Emch, a Great Depression-era expert on local public finance, described these local governments as "but humble mendicants daily seeking succor at the hands of the state."
One modern-day expert examines the negative implications of tax limitation at greater length. Glenn Fisher cautions that constraining local government but leaving state and federal government unconstrained only encourages local governments to become more dependent on state and federal governments for resources. As a result, overall government in America has become more centralized and powerful.
Therefore, while successful in its narrow mission to reduce and control property taxes, the tax revolt movement did fall short of reducing and controlling taxation in the long run. Here, Beito's complaint about the lack of a "focused ideological program" rings true. Such a program would have made tax protestors resistant to compromise, steeled them against new taxes, and compelled them to form national organizations capable of more formidably challenging government's power to tax.
I really hate when people say I can say stuff that other people can't say. I say, "What do you mean?" I will say this, I will say things, but they will be in gest [sic], and I trust that people at home are like, "Oh, he's just joking." But I don't think I've ever said anything, that nobody hasn't said on the same subject ... First of all, I haven't seen one single person disagree with me, they're trying to make it a war of words between me and LeBron. I have not heard one sports guy say I was wrong. I don't mind if they say I was wrong. [The LeBron story] became controversial, but clearly other people have been thinking it, they just didn't have the guts to say it.
Over the next year, the federal government will spend $1 of every $4 that is
spent in the United States, reports Richard Wolf in
Remember that when you hear "our free market economy" praised by the
television pundits or condemned by the Shock
That $1 in $4 — higher than usual thanks to the bailouts and stimulus-plan
spending — will break a post-World-War-II record set a few
years into the Ronald "Government is the Problem" Reagan administration.
And this is only the most explicit and direct federal government
participation in the economy. For instance, it doesn't count
the underground government, the many
costly spending mandates the government slaps on individuals and private
businesses, or the financial erosion of inflation. (Nor does it count
spending by state and local governments.) Only part of this iceberg
Any free market institutions remaining in the United States are like those
earliest shrew-like mammals: tiny things, scurrying around trying not to get
stepped on by some ginormous reptile.
But in a time of crisis, the dinosaurs proved unable to survive, and the
mammals took center stage. Maybe an economic crisis is what it will take for the free market to emerge from the dinosaur's shadow.
"I can't believe the people at Fleer couldn't catch that. I mean, they certainly have to have enough proofreaders to see it. I think not only did they see it, they enhanced it. That writing on that bat is way too clear. I don't write that neat. I think they knew that once they saw it, they could use the card to create an awful lot of stir."
09dec2008 PHX-LAX in only 2.5 footsteps, with My New Invention!
(200-mile-tall stilts! Shh!)
08dec2008 Heartwarming Anarchist Incident from the past weekend
For years, USC and UCLA have played their annual rivalry football game with each team wearing its home jerseys. With USC in dark red, and UCLA in powder blue, there is no way that either team will be confused as to who the respective players are. The NCAA enunciated one of its numerous silly rules - penalties for celebrating touchdowns being one of the others - requiring the visiting team to wear white jerseys. The penalty for violating such rule is the loss of a timeout. USC decided to wear its home jerseys anyway, giving up a timeout. In a spirit of sportsmanship, UCLA responded, right after the kickoff, by taking a timeout so that both teams would be operating under the same game conditions. The crowd in the Rose Bowl cheered loudly over this open defiance of the NCAA's pointless intervention. (from LewRockwell.com)
Now if we can just get people to respond the same way to government, we'll all be better than jake.
07dec2008 Video: San Tan Flat & The Fight Against Arbitrary Government Power
The war changed conditions. It established new relations and obligations. It nationalized States that were previously federalized. It changed the union of independent States, held together by mutual consent, into a union of dependent States, held together by national authority. It abolished State sovereignty and changed the federal government, which derived its powers from the States, into the national government, which exercises authority and power over the States. (14)
I am not one of those who, clinging to the old superstition that the will of heaven is revealed in the immediate results of "trial by combat," fancy that right must always be on the side of might, and speak of Appomattox as a judgment of God. I do not forget that a Suvaroff triumphed and a Kosciuszko fell; that a Nero wielded the scepter of empire and a Paul was beheaded; that a Herod was crowned and a Christ was crucified. And, instead of accepting the defeat of the South as a divine verdict against her, I regard it as but another instance of "truth on the scaffold and wrong on the throne." (20)
I cannot here discuss at length the merits of the Southern cause; but, in justice to the memory of those who died in the struggle to maintain it, I wish to protest against the aspersion that they fought to uphold and perpetuate the institution of slavery. Slavery was a heritage handed down to the South from a time when the moral consciousness of mankind regarded it as just and righta time when even the pious sons of New England were slave owners and deterred by no conscientious scruples from plying the slave trade with proverbial Yankee enterprise. It became a peculiarly Southern institution not because the rights of others were dearer to the Northern than to the Southern heart, but because conditions of soil and climate made negro labor unprofitable in the North and led the Northern slave owner to sell his slaves "down South." (22)
And it behooves us to insist on this, that the memory of those who "wore the gray" may be handed down to posterity freed from the slanderous accusation that they were the enemies of liberty and champions of slavery, who plunged the country into a bloody war that they might the more firmly fasten fetters on human limbs. (24)
27nov2008 From Joel Salatin's article (.pdf) "Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal":
Everything I want to do is illegal. As
if a highly bureaucratic regulatory
system was not already in place,
9/11 fueled renewed acceleration to
eliminate freedom from the countryside.
Every time a letter arrives in the mail
from a federal or state agriculture department
my heart jumps like I just got sent to
the principal's office.
And it doesn't stop with agriculture
bureaucrats. It includes all sorts of
government agencies, from zoning, to
taxing, to food inspectors. These agencies
are the ultimate extension of a disconnected,
Greco-Roman, Western, egocentric,
frag-mented, linear thought processs.
What about dressing a couple of
animals a year in the backyard? How can
that be compared to a ConAgra or Tyson
facility? In the eyes of the government,
the two are one and the same. Every
T-bone steak has to be wrapped in a
half-million dollar facility so that it can be
sold to your neighbor. The fact that I can
do it on my own farm more cleanly, more
responsibly, more humanely, more
efficiently, and in a more environmentally
friendly manner doesn't matter to the
government agents who walk around with
big badges on their jackets and
wheelbarrow-sized regulations tucked
under their arms.
When I return home to sell these
delectable packages, the county zoning
ordinance says that this is a manufactured
product because it exited the
farm and was reimported as a valueadded
product, thereby throwing our farm
into the Wal-Mart category, another
prohibition in agricultural areas. Just so
you understand this, remember that an onfarm
abattoir was illegal, so I took the
animals to a legal abattoir, but now the
selling of said products in an on-farm
store is illegal.
Because our land is zoned as
agricultural, we cannot charge school kids
for a tour of the farm because that puts us
in the category of "Theme Park."
As soon as our farm offers a single
item — just one — that is not produced
here, we have become a Wal-Mart. Period.
That means a business license, which is
basically another layer of taxes on our
gross sales. The business license requires
a commercial entrance, which on our
country road is almost impossible to
acquire due to sight-distance requirements
and width regulations. Of course, zoning
prohibits businesses in our agricultural
Even if we could comply with all of the
above requirements, a retail outlet carries
with it a host of additional regulations. We
must provide designated handicapped
parking, government-approved toilet
facilities (our four household bathrooms
in the two homes located 50 feet away
from the retail building do not count) —
and it can't be a composting toilet. We
must offer x-number of parking spaces.
Folks, it just goes on and on, ad nauseum,
and all for simply trying to help a
neighbor sell her potatoes or extra
pumpkins at Thanksgiving. I thought this
was the home of the free.
Any power tool — including a cordless
screwdriver — cannot be operated by
people under the age of 18. We have lots
of requests from folks wanting to come as
interns, but what do we call them? The
government has no category for interns or
neighbor young people who just want to
learn and help out.
We'd love to employ all
the neighboring young
people. To our childfawning
culture, the only appropriate
child activity is recreation, sitting in a
desk, or watching TV. That's it. That's the
extent of what children are good for.
Anything else is abusive and risky.
These are all things that would be
wonderfully meaningful work experience
for the youth of our community, but you
can't simply employ people anymore. A
host of government regulatory paperwork
surrounds every "could you come over
and help us . . . ?" By the time an
employer complies with every
Occupational Safety & Health Administration
requirement, posts every
government bulletin requirement, withholds
taxes, and shoulders Unemployment
Compensation burdens and medical
and child safety regulations — he or she
can't hire anybody legally or profitably.
The government has no pigeonhole for
this: "I'm a 17-year-old home-schooler,
and I want to learn how to farm. Could I
come and have you mentor me for a
What is this relationship? A student?
An employee? If I pay a stipend, the
government says he's an employee. If I
don't pay, the Fair Labor Standards board
says it's slavery, which is illegal. Doesn't
matter that the young person is here of his
own volition and is happy to live in a
tee-pee. Housing must be permitted and
up to code. Enough already. What
happened to the home of the free?
You would think that if I cut the trees,
mill the logs into lumber, and build the
house on my own farm, I could make it
however I wanted to. Think again. It's
illegal to build a house less than 900
square feet. Period. Doesn't
matter if I'm a hermit or the
father of 20. The
government agents have
decreed, in their egocentric
wisdom, that no human can live in
anything less than 900 square feet.
Look, if I want to build a yurt of rabbit
skins and go to the bathroom in a compost
pile, why is it any of the government's
business? Bureaucrats bend over backwards
to accredit, tax credit, and offer
money to people wanting to build pig
city-factories or bigger airports. But let a
guy go to his woods, cut down some trees,
and build himself a home, and a plethora
of regulatory tyrants descend on the
project to complicate, obfuscate, irritate,
frustrate, and virtually terminate. I think
it's time to eradicate some of these laws
and the piranhas who administer them.*
I don't ask for a dime of government
money. I don't ask for government
On every side, our paternalistic culture
is tightening the noose around those of us
who just want to opt out of the system —
and it is the freedom to opt out that
differentiates tyrannical and free societies.
How a culture deals with its misfits
reveals its strength. The stronger a culture,
the less it fears the radical fringe. The
more paranoid and precarious a culture,
the less tolerance it offers.
Those of us who would aspire to opt
out — both consumers and producers —
must pray for enough cleverness to
circumvent the system until the system
cannot sustain itself. Cycles happen.
Because things are this way today does
not mean they will be this way next year.
Hurrah for that.
Often, the greatest escapes occur at the
moment the noose becomes tightest. I'm
feeling the rope, and it's not very loose.
Society seems bound and determined to
hang me for everything I want to do. But
there's power in truth. And for sure,
surprises are in store that may make
society shake its collective head and begin
to question some seemingly unalterable
doctrines. Doctrines like the
righteousness of the bureaucrat. The
sanctity of government research. The
protection of the Food Safety and
Inspection Service. The helpfulness of the
When that day comes, you and I can
graciously offer our society honest food,
honest ecology, honest stewardship. May
the day come quickly.
(Btw, greatest Jewish song ever? Forget "Hava Nagila" (except for Herman the German's version)it's NOFX's "We're the Brews" (. . . chutzpah-driven / We battle, then we feast / We celebrate / We'll separate / Our milk plates from our meat)
26nov2008 Google Searches That Inexplicably Yield No Results, Example Set #1
Christa Miller is hereby indicted on the charge of bonercide.
...my favorite deals with shunninga tactic I would love to see revived on a massive scale against government employees (e.g.):
…[W]hereas some men may be found amongst us, so far lost to every sense of
virtue and feeling for the distresses of this country, as to accept offices
for the collection of the duty:
Resolved, therefore, That in future we will consider such persons as
unworthy of our friendship; have no intercourse or dealings with them;
withdraw from them every assistance, and withhold all the comforts of life
which depend upon those duties that as men and fellow citizens we owe to
each other; and upon all occasions treat them with that contempt they
deserve; and that it be, and it is hereby most earnestly recommended to the
people at large to follow the same line of conduct towards them.
A disc jockey on the buttrock station mentioned that his mother used to say, "It's raining and the sun is shining. That means the devil is beating his wife."
Huh. In the southwest we just call it a sunshower. I guess that's what I get for flipping to a buttrock station. And here's what you get from flipping Deuce of Clubs: Knife Juice (by Economy Superstar).
Lastly, in 2000, the strangest blow: Spade's pal and personal assistant, David "Skippy" Malloy, attacked and beat Spade, stabbing him repeatedly with a stun gun. "It was way more brutal than we let on back then." The walls and floors of his house, Spade said, were spattered with blood.
He saved himself by pulling a loaded shotgun from under his bed.
How did he come to have a loaded shotgun?
I can't let myself believe David Spade ever lived in Arizona. On his Take the Hit DVD he pronounces "Gila monster" with a hard G. Whaaaaat? Come on, dude. Zonie it up a little, willya?
23nov2008 Things To Keep In Mind During The Coming Administration's FDR-like "Opportunity"
"The terror of the Great Crash has
been the failure to explain it," writes
economist Alan Reynolds. "People
were left with the feeling that massive economic contractions could
occur at any moment, without
warning, without cause. That fear
has been exploited ever since as
the major justification for virtually
unlimited federal intervention in
Old myths never die; they just
keep showing up in economics and
political science textbooks. With
only an occasional exception, it is
there you will find what may be
the twentieth century's greatest
myth: Capitalism and the free-market
economy were responsible for the
Great Depression, and only government
intervention brought about
America's economic recovery.
According to this simplistic perspective,
an important pillar of capitalism,
the stock market, crashed
and dragged America into depression.
President Herbert Hoover, an
advocate of "hands-off," or laissezfaire,
economic policy, refused to
use the power of government and
conditions worsened as a result.
It was up to Hoover's successor,
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to
ride in on the white horse of government
intervention and steer
the nation toward recovery. The
apparent lesson to be drawn is
that capitalism cannot be trusted;
government needs to take an active
role in the economy to save us from
But those who propagate this version
of history might just as well
top off their remarks by saying,
"And Goldilocks found her way out
of the forest, Dorothy made it from
Oz back to Kansas, and Little Red
Riding Hood won the New York
State Lottery." The popular account
of the Depression as outlined above
belongs in a book of fairy tales and
not in a serious discussion of economic
The calamity that
began in 1929 lasted at least three
times longer than any of the country's
previous depressions because the
government compounded its initial
errors with a series of additional and
Though modern myth claims that
the free market "self-destructed" in
1929, government policy was the
debacle's principal culprit. If this
crash had been like previous ones,
the hard times would have ended
in two or three years at the most,
and likely sooner than that. But
unprecedented political bungling
instead prolonged the misery for
over 10 years.
Smoot-Hawley by itself should
lay to rest the myth that Hoover
was a free market practitioner, but
there is even more to the story of
his administration's interventionist
decades later on Hoover's administration,
Rexford Guy Tugwell,
one of the architects of Franklin
Roosevelt's policies of the 1930s,
explained, "We didn't admit it at
the time, but practically the whole
New Deal was extrapolated from
programs that Hoover started."
Can any serious scholar observe
the Hoover administration's massive
economic intervention and,
with a straight face, pronounce
the inevitably deleterious effects
as the fault of free markets?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt won
the 1932 presidential election in a
landslide, collecting 472 electoral
votes to just 59 for the incumbent
Herbert Hoover. The platform
of the Democratic Party, whose
ticket Roosevelt headed, declared,
"We believe that a party platform
is a covenant with the people to
be faithfully kept by the party
entrusted with power." It called
for a 25-percent reduction in federal
spending, a balanced federal
budget, a sound gold currency "to
be preserved at all hazards," the
removal of government from areas
that belonged more appropriately
to private enterprise, and an end to
the "extravagance" of Hoover's farm
programs. This is what candidate
Roosevelt promised, but it bears
no resemblance to what President
Roosevelt actually delivered.
Frustrated and angered that Roosevelt
had so quickly and thoroughly
abandoned the platform on which
he was elected, Director of the
Bureau of the Budget Lewis W.
Douglas resigned after only one
year on the job. At Harvard University
in May 1935, Douglas made
it plain that America was facing a
"Will we choose to subject ourselvesthis great countryto the despotism of bureaucracy,
controlling our every
act, destroying what equality
we have attained, reducing us
eventually to the condition of
impoverished slaves of the state?
Or will we cling to the liberties
for which man has struggled for
more than a thousand years? It
is important to understand the
magnitude of the issue before
us. ... If we do not elect to have
a tyrannical, oppressive bureaucracy
controlling our lives,
destroying progress, depressing
the standard of living ... then
should it not be the function of
the Federal government under
a democracy to limit its activities
to those which a democracy
may adequately deal, such for
example as national defense,
maintaining law and order,
protecting life and property,
preventing dishonesty, and ...
guarding the public against ...
vested special interests?"
Carter Glass put it well when he
warned Roosevelt in early 1933:
"It's dishonor, sir. This great government,
strong in gold, is breaking
its promises to pay gold to widows
and orphans to whom it has sold
government bonds with a pledge
to pay gold coin of the present
standard of value. It is breaking its
promise to redeem its paper money
in gold coin of the present standard
of value. It's dishonor, sir."
Though he seized the country's
gold, Roosevelt did return booze
to America's bars and parlor rooms.
On his second Sunday in the White
House, he remarked at dinner, "I
think this would be a good time for
beer." That same night, he drafted
a message asking Congress to end
Prohibition. The House approved
a repeal measure on Tuesday, the
Senate passed it on Thursday and
before the year was out, enough states had ratified it so that the
21st Amendment became part of
the Constitution. One observer,
commenting on this remarkable
turn of events, noted that of two
men walking down the street at
the start of 1933one with a gold
coin in his pocket and the other
with a bottle of whiskey in his coatthe man with the coin would
be an upstanding citizen and the
man with the whiskey would be
the outlaw. A year later, precisely
the reverse was true.
Roosevelt secured passage of the
Agricultural Adjustment Act,
which levied a new tax on agricultural
processors and used the
revenue to supervise the wholesale
destruction of valuable crops and
cattle. Federal agents oversaw the
ugly spectacle of perfectly good
fields of cotton, wheat, and corn being
plowed under (the mules had to
be convinced to trample the crops;
they had been trained, of course,
to walk between the rows). Healthy
cattle, sheep, and pigs were slaughtered
and buried in mass graves.
Secretary of Agriculture Henry
Wallace personally gave the order
to slaughter six million baby pigs
before they grew to full size. The
administration also paid farmers
for the first time for not working
at all. Even if the AAA had helped
farmers by curtailing supplies and
raising prices, it could have done
so only by hurting millions of others
who had to pay those prices or
make do with less to eat.
economists have estimated that
the NRA boosted the cost of doing
business by an average of 40 percentnot something a depressed
economy needed for recovery.
The man Roosevelt picked to direct
the NRA effort was General Hugh
"Iron Pants" Johnson, a profane,
red-faced bully and professed admirer
of Italian dictator Benito
A New Jersey tailor named
Jack Magid was arrested and sent to jail for the "crime" of pressing a
suit of clothes for 35 cents rather
than the NRA-inspired "Tailor's
Code" of 40 cents.
Alphabet commissars spent the
public's money like it was so much
bilge. They were what influential
journalist and social critic Albert
Jay Nock had in mind when he described
the New Deal as "a nationwide,
of inane buffoonery and aimless
With good reason, critics often
referred to the WPA as "We Piddle
In Tennessee, WPA workers were
fired if they refused to donate two
percent of their wages to the incumbent
If a thief goes house to
house robbing everybody in the
neighborhood, then heads off to
a nearby shopping mall to spend
his ill-gotten loot, it is not assumed
that because his spending
"stimulated" the stores at the mall
he has thereby performed a national
service or provided a general
economic benefit. Likewise, when
the government hires someone to
catalog the many ways of cooking
spinach, his tax-supported
paycheck cannot be counted as a
net increase to the economy because
the wealth used to pay him
was simply diverted, not created.
Economists today must still battle
this "magical thinking" every time
more government spending is
proposedas if money comes
not from productive citizens, but
rather from the tooth fairy.
Freed from the worst of the New
Deal, the economy showed some
signs of life. Unemployment
dropped to 18 percent in 1935, 14
percent in 1936, and even lower in
1937. But by 1938, it was back up to
nearly 20 percent as the economy
slumped again. The stock market
crashed nearly 50 percent between
August 1937 and March 1938. The
"economic stimulus" of Franklin
Delano Roosevelt's New Deal had
achieved a real "first": a depression
within a depression!
shown time and again that a rollercoaster
monetary policy is enough
by itself to produce a roller-coaster
Not until both Roosevelt and the
war were gone did investors feel
confident enough to "set in motion
the postwar investment boom that
powered the economy's return to
The Truman administration
that followed Roosevelt was
decidedly less eager to berate and
bludgeon private investors and as
a result, those investors re-entered
the economy and fueled a powerful
postwar boom. The Great Depression
finally ended, but it should
linger in our minds today as one of
the most colossal and tragic failures
of government and public policy in
It was not the
free market which produced 12
years of agony; rather, it was political
bungling on a grand scale.
Those who can survey the events
of the 1920s and 1930s and blame
free-market capitalism for the
economic calamity have their eyes,
ears, and minds firmly closed to the
facts. Changing the wrong-headed
thinking that constitutes much of
today's conventional wisdom about
this sordid historical episode is vital
to reviving faith in free markets
and preserving our liberties.
Jennifer Garner today received a permanent restraining order against Steven Burky, a 36-year-old man from Pennsylvania who has been following Garner obsessively since 2002. He's appeared on her film sets, at her home and at personal appearances, and has written her hundreds of letters and messages professing his love and warnings about her safety. The New York Daily News says...
Burky, 36, is a born-again Christian who believes he was the victim of satanic abuse rituals as a child in Pennsylvania, according to his blog.
"Almost not a day has gone by when I have not written or talked aloud of my love for you," he wrote in one note. "But I don't know if you were ever allowed to hear it."
In a February email to a film crew member, he begged that Garner be warned about a vision.
"The vision shows that a persecution may take place in broad daylight against Jennifer Garner for her faith in Jesus Christ," it said. "The vision showed Mrs. Garner surrounded by a mob in public.
"It also involves the possible emergence of a dark secret in America. The presence of illicit witchcraft going on in this country, and illicit sacrifices."
Tell you what, that Jennifer Garner's got quite a mandible. I'll bet if a person had a website called Jennifer Garner's Mandible and that person, purely as a courtesy, forwarded scary and threatening emails received by the website from some whacked-out and possibly dangerous born-again, Jennifer Garner would be grateful. Or at least not inclined to resort to legal threats. What I'm suggesting here is that Jennifer Garner clue in Jennifer Cooke (Amy Grant's manager).
How about it, Ms. Garner? (If you do, I promise never to have a website called Jennifer Garner's Mandible.)
as most of you know, ian freeman (bernard) of free talk live was sentenced to 93 days in jail: 3 days for not forcing his tenants to move a couch off his property, and 90 days for "contempt of court".
i ask that you first watch one of the many videos posted around this site, youtube, etc..., to see how the 'contempt of court' charge was an obvious abuse of power by the judge, who simply yelled at ian to sit, and decided the 6 seconds (literally) it took ian to sit down was too long. he was then taken to a secret trial, and handed down another 2 contempt charges (30 days each). and all this over a couch.
so, what i am asking of everyone is a simple but (when done in big enough numbers) effective way to get the point across that we will not be bullied over stupid BS.
here is what you do:
step 1: make a poster. "free ian", "live free or die", another phrase of your choosing, or grab the "couch enforcer" image from http://jailedactivist.info/activists/ian-bernard/
step 2: find a couch
step 3: find a friend with a truck (or car big enough to move the couch), and drive to the nearest town hall/court house/government building.
step 4: put the couch in front of the building, sit on it holding your poster, and snap a quick picture. then quickly load up and go.
step 5: send me the photos, along with any messages you'd like to send to ian, or to judge burke (the overreacting judge who demands to be worshiped).
thats it! the more pictures we can get in, the more effective it can be.
remember to use good judgment, be safe, and if you are afraid of getting arrested, and feel you might be, then refrain!!!!! we don't want more people in jail over dumb couch laws ;)
Obviously, it wasyou guessed itforced-perspective time!
Unfortunately, the nearest stooge cage at the time was an SSA building, but when you're traveling with Barbie dolls and toy couches, what can you do? So DoC pal Robb (whose offspring enthusiastically supplied the photo subjects) and I did what we could do:
(Oh, yeah, there was a statue of a dead composer, there, too.)
Which is why you're looking at BARBIE PHOTOS on Deuce of Clubs.
17nov2008 Snippet from a Kim Fowley appearance on the Bingenheimer show in 1979
Fowley: You know, I have a show business family. My mom, Cherie Curry . . . remember her? Caller: I love Cherie. Fowley: Oh, I do, too. Caller: Whatever happened to her? Fowley: Well, I wasn't a breast-fed baby, so you know how those things are... Bingenheimer: He wants to know what happened to Cherie. Fowley: Oh, Cherie's a film star now. She's starring in The Creature from the Black Lagoon. She plays the role of the rowboat.
[Whole studio breaks up] Fowley: No, I like Cherie. Cherie's far out, man, and she's a good actress and she always has been, she's the Brigitte Bardot of rock. She's in the Jodie Foster movie called Skateboarder Goes a-Go-Go. Here's the next phone call....
June 17, 2008 1:28 AM
Documented in both the Rodney Bingenheimer bio-pic Mayor of the Sunset Strip and former Runaways bassist Vicky Tischler-Blue's rock doc about the seminal LA punkettes called Edgeplay (not to mention countless print interviews over the years) the feud between the band's creator Kim Fowley and front-person Cherie Currie has included accusations of abuse, exploitation and downright evil doings.
So when the two unexpectedly came face to face last Friday at a bash in the Hollywood Hills right before our eyes, we almost ran for cover and waited for the (Cherry) bomb to drop. Shockingly, there was no need, as Currie warmly reached out to the statuesque, face-paint-sporting songwriter/Svengali with a hug "for the first time in decades," and apologized to him for her past rancor, blaming it on her years as "a drunk." Fowley glanced our way as to make sure we recognized the significance of the moment, but there was no need. We've interviewed both over the years and were very much aware of their treacherous relationship.
And speaking of Bingenheimer, I just saw the movie about Darby Crash (What We Do Is Secret) and the guy they got to play Mr. B. kind of overdid itI think maybe he thought he was playing Andy Warhol. But the guy who plays Don Bolles made up for it by wearing the KDIL t-shirt. (There are a handful of vintage KDIL airchecks at http://www.kdil.com/audio.html.)
If in the vicinity of a Spaniard you've ever commented on the barbaric nature of bear-baitingsorry, bull "fighting"you will likely have been told that you just don't understand the great and heroic nobility of torturing and killing for no reason.
You can get qualitatively the same response in some circles by commenting on the barbaric nature of torturing and killing human beingsclearly, you are likely to be told, you fail to appreciate the heroism involved, as long as those being killed are brown people and the killers are doing so under the aegis of the U.S. government. The speakers will be people living comfortable, unthreatened lives filled with not killing people for vague excuses, but who attribute the relative peace of their lives to the murderers for hire brave military personnel committing killings fighting elsewhere for no good goddamned reason our freedom.
10nov2008 Economic Vocabulary for Beginners! Today's Word:
Acting like an 18th-century naturalist, Mandelbrot scoured through forgotten and obscure journals in his quest for insight.
Mandelbrot had struck a rich seam, and he knew it.
[Mandelbrot:] "I uncovered the work of an eccentric and unremembered mathematician called Lewis F. Richardson."
Richardson delighted in asking questions that no one else even considered worth asking. One of his papers, entitled "Does the wind possess a velocity?", anticipated later work by Edward Lorenz (b. 1917) and the other founders of chaos theory.
One of this mathematician's great insights was a model of turbulence as a collection of ever-smaller eddies. He conveyed the idea poetically in the style of Swift. (32-3)
So, Nat'ralists observe, a Flea
Hath smaller Fleas that on him prey,
And these have smaller Fleas to bite 'em
And so proceed ad infinitum.
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
Big whorls have little whorls,
That feed on their velocity;
And little whorls have lesser whorls,
And so on to viscosity.
IBM gave Mandelbrot the funding, the facilities, a research team that included Dr Richard Voss, and the mental space in which to work. The powers-that-be at IBM, it must be said, had visionunlike the reactionary management of the mainstream academic world. (80)
The asteroid belt that lies between Mars and Jupiter is clear evidence of the chaos implied by Newton's law. Saturn's rings display a fractal structure akin to the Cantor set, with gaps in critical regions which correspond to unstable orbits. (95)
Fractal geometry allows bounded curves of infinite length, and closed surfaces with an infinite area. It even allows curves with positive volume, and arbitrarily large groups of shapes with exactly the same boundary. This is exactly how our lungs manage to maximize their surface area. (108)
Our lungs cram the area of a tennis court into the volume of just a few tennis balls. (109)
Our heart beats are not regular. There is always a tiny variation.
This fine time-scale variation reduces the wear and tear on the heart dramatically. (120)
Spectral analysis of music from classical to nursery rhymes has revealed a remarkable affinity with patterns in nature, in particular a fractal distribution called 1/f noise, which is found in the sound of a waterfall or waves crashing on a beach.
All music from Bach to the Beatles, even birdsong, is characterized by 1/f noise, displaying the same dynamic balance between predictability. and surprise, between dull monotony and random discord. Seen in this light, music is essentially a simulation of the harmony in nature. (161)
My failure to find any theoretical justification for the authority of the state had convinced me that there was no justification. In short, I had become a philosophical anarchist. (viii)
There are, of course, many reasons why men actually acknowledge claims of authority. The most common, takng the whole of human history, is simply the prescriptive force of tradition. The fact that something has always been done in a certain way strikes most men as a perfectly adequate reason for doing it that way again. Why should we submit to a king? Because we have always submitted to kings. But why should the oldest son of the king become king in turn? Because oldest sons have always heen heirs to the throne. The force of the traditional is engraved so deeply on men's minds that even a study of the violent and haphazard origins of a ruling family will not weaken its authority in the eyes of its subjects. (6-7)
Sometimes we may have clearly in mind the justification for a legalistic claim to authority, as when we comply with a command because its author is an elected official. More often the mere sight of a uniform is enough to make us feel that the man inside it has a right to be obeyed. (7)
Men cannot meaningfully be called free if their representatives vote independently of their wishes, or when laws are passed concerning issues which they are not able to understand. Nor can men be called free who are subject to secret decisions, based on secret data, having unannounced consequences for their well-being and their very lives. (31)
We are so deeply imbued with the ethic of majoritarianism that it possesses for us the deceptive quality of self-evidence. In the United States, little children are taught to let the majority rule almost before they are old enough to count the votes. (42)
06nov2008 Positive Things To Say About Wall-to-Wall Carpeting
1. You don't have to put wall-to-wall carpeting in the clothes washer after a pet pisses or shits on it, or someone spills something on it that will help cause fungus to grow there. Instead you can just blot it and then spray something over it. Some fabric stuff I think I heard about someplace. Simple!
2. In fact, I don't think you could fit wall-to-wall carpeting in a clothes washer, even if you wanted to. So it's that much easier to take care of, as a flooring choice!
3. Wall-to-wall carpeting catches everythingevery piece of dirt and lint, every dead bug part, human skin cell, scab, booger, fingernail clipping, every mite and germthat you would otherwise be forced to mop up and remove from your floors if you cared enough about not living like a pig all the time. Think of the effort you'll save!
4. Everything that manages to work its way through the carpeting is trapped by the rubber carpet padding, and stays there. Just stays there. Waiting. It waits. Is waiting. But you don't have to do a thing. It's just what happens. Meaning: no fuss!
5. Every single step someone takes on wall-to-wall carpeting jettisons little particles of stuff into the air that, believe me, you wouldn't even want to think about with your mind, let alone welcome into your body. All that stuff sort of hovers and floats around right in the air you breathe. Examine your air by the light of a sunbeam through a window sometime, if you don't believe me.
6. Are you breathing right now? Is there wall-to-wall carpeting in the room? Well, then. You're breathing that shit.
7. Jesus God do not ever pull up wall-to-wall carpeting without wearing a full hazmat suit.
Some time ago while watching an anti-war rally on C-SPAN and reflecting upon the state of government in this country my ma said, "It should be like when you're working with doughif it gets messed up, you just mix it all up again and start over."
03nov2008 Every four years, same old thing. It's like the Olympics of Who Gives A Shit.
This election would have to work impossibly hard to escape being more boringly typical. I chart it about like this:
If you ...
... do => damned
... don't => damned
Put a gun to my head and I'd vote for Obamabut only, for once, to have the face of the U.S. out there in the world not be some out-of-touch white guy. Otherwise, fuck 'em both into the grave, thieving bastards.
And now, a vaudeville sketch entitled At the Polling Place
Poll worker: Thank you, citizen, for exercising your Choice! Sodo you choose to be kicked in your right nut, or your left nut? Me (if this really happened): How about I choose not to be kicked at all? Poll worker (if poll workers were honest): I'm sorry sir, we don't seem to have a candidate for that.
Sure, business is bunk,
And Wall Street is sunk,
We're all of us broke, and ready to croak.
We've nothing to dunk,
Can't even get drunk,
And all the while, they tell us to smile:
Cheer up, gentle citizens, though you have no shirts,
Happy days are here again. Cheer up, smile, nertz!
All aboard prosperity, giggle 'till it hurts!
No more bread-line charity. Cheer up, smile, nertz!
Cheer up, cheer up, cheer up, cheer up, cheer,
Up, cheer up, cheer up, cheer, better times are here.
Sunny smilers we must be, the optimist asserts,
Let's hang the fat-head to a tree! Cheer up, smile, nertz!
The world's in the red,
We're better off dead,
Depression, they say's in session to stay.
Our judges are queer,
Our banks disappear,
And all the while, they tell us to smile:
Cheer up, gentle citizens, though you have no shirts,
Happy days are here again. Cheer up, smile, nertz!
All aboard prosperity, giggle 'till it hurts,
No more bread-line charity. Cheer up, smile, nertz!
Cheer up, cheer up, cheer up, cheer up, cheer,
Up, cheer up, cheer up, cheer, better times are here.
Sunny smilers we must be, the optimist asserts,
Let's hang the fat-head to a tree! Cheer up, smile, nertz!
01nov2008 A Special Election Message to All Candidates from Willie Nelson, The Underworld (Disclaimer: not Underworld), Destroy All Monsters, Les Sexareenos, The Plague, The Younger Brothers (Disclaimer: not the Noted Criminal Family), Rocking Roadrunners, and The Morning Dew:
31oct2008 Take a Break From All This Goddamned Sham Election Theater BullshitAnd Take a Halloween Quiz!
See whether you can guess what each cheerleader is dressed as! Choose from among the following:
formula 1 driver
1930s gun moll
comic book hero
cable car conductor
I'm sorry, you are incorrect. The cheerleaders are dressed as:
a) stripper; b) stripper; c) unemployed stripper; d) stripper; e) exotic dancer; f) stripper; g) stripper; h) stripper; i) not a costumethis is an actual 1930s gun moll the Witness Protection Program has hidden among cheerleaders.
30oct2008 That "Marriage Amendment" Got a Real Purty Mouth, Don't It?
If I were secretly gay but had managed to get hired to create an ad in favor of Arizona's Proposition 102 (an anti-gay marriage measure), I hope this is the ad I would have come up with:
Cowboy A [we'll call him, I don't know . . . Jack]:[Hands Cowboy B a ballot proposition booklet] You see any "confusion" in here? Cowboy B [we'll call him, hrmm, how 'bout Ennis?]: Huh. "Marriage Amendment." [Reads document] Nope. Jack: Thought so. Ennis: One man. One woman. Jack: And that's it. Ennis: That's marriage. Jack: Speaks for itself. Ennis: Simple. Jack: Simple is good.
Ummm . . . Ennis kinda gay? (Innit? Get it?) Who can watch that and not be thinking the entire time of Brokeback Mountain? I'll tell you who: the ad's target audience, who I guarantee did not see Brokeback Mountain All that commercial makes them think is What nice, virile, heterosexual marriage-defending men cowboys are! And the banjo music probably isn't calling to mind Deliverance, either.
Given the near-religious enthusiasm for Obamawho will do little if anything of substance to change the shape or function of the bureaucratic machine, and certainly not a single thing to restore liberty or even reduce the recent government encroachments one tiny bitit cracks me up that people got called "Paultards" and the like for supporting someone with an actual proven record of being a counter-friction to the machine in Congress, and who therefore gave ground to hopes that if elected he would do the same in the Oval Office.
What doesn't crack me up at all are the incidents that have forced me to change my estimate of the level of thick-headed racism in this country, blind and bad enough to where people will vote for an avowed warmonger rather than vote for a non-white person (so long as the warmonger plans to widen the scope of killing only among more non-white people). I always thought I was more pessimist than optimist, but I must be more optimist than I thought, to have been so surprised to find out that there is still so much bigotry out there (some of it, distressingly, even among one's own extended kin, making watermelon and fried chicken jokes, FOR FUCK'S SAKE).
29oct2008 A few people don't like it when I talk about politics in this space. I don't like hearing the endless internecine squabbles between the two factions of a one-party oligarchy. Let us all therefore suffer in non-silence. Viz. . . .
. . . this horseshit, which has been making the rounds:
> David Sedaris on "undecided voters":
> I look at these people and can't quite believe that
> they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are
> they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?
> To put them in perspective, I think of being on an
> airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her
> food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat.
> "Can I interest you in the chicken?" she asks.
> "Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of
> broken glass in it?"
> To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment
> and then ask how the chicken is cooked.
With all due respect to Mr. Sedaris, who rocks (and even if he didn't, would command respect in honor of his superstar all-star sister Amy), it's possible that people who haven't been able to force themselves to choose are coming to realize that both dishes consist entirely of glass-splattered shit and are having a hard time with that realization. Which is a good indication that they are reaching the end stage of political awareness, in which one finally realizes it's better to go hungry than eat shit.
I thanked this person, a middle-aged man, for his mature and penetrating political analysis. Then I asked his level of sophistication who was its home-room teacher next year. Won't sixth grade be exciting?!11!?? OMG
28oct2008 Okay, I'm going to comment on this election nonsense just once moretwice more probably all week
John McCain is dangerous because he is insane. Barack Obama is dangerous because he is not.
Both, however, voted for the recent corporate giveaway and neither has the slightest clue that the giveaway involves more of what fucked up the economy in the first place. Homeopathy is not an economic doctrine (even Palin would oppose it, though only because she thinks that's what went on in "that Sodom, there, back in the Bible times").
If you thought Teddy, Woody, and Franky were twits who fouled things up beyond belief, just wait until . . .
. . . one of these two ignorant incompetents gets hold of the reins of our newly beefed-up empire and goes to work "fixing things."
27oct2008 In Grudging Acknowledgement of the Upcoming Big "Choice"
During the 1960s and 70s, [L. Ron] Hubbard built up the biggest private intelligence agency in the world, hiding behind the shield of the First Amendment to attack, harass, and defame. Church intelligence agents were taught how to make anonymous death threats, smear perceived critics, forge documents, and plan and execute burglaries. They used all means necessary to "shudder into silence"Hubbard's charmless phraseany opposition. Lying by a Scientologist, if it served the cause, was not only a right but a duty, Hubbard insisted in Technique 88: "The only way you can control people is to lie to them. You can write that down in your book in great big letters." (104)
At one point, in the madness that infects this kind of passionate, close-quarters project, [Oliver] Stone convinced Tom to allow himself to be injected with a chemical that would have rendered him paralyzed for two days so that he could more realistically convey the incontinent, impotent torture of a once-virile young man confined to a wheelchair. As there was a chance that he would have suffered permanent incapacitation, the insurance company wisely vetoed the madcap idea. It was reminiscent of the time Dustin Hoffman went without sleep for two days during the filming of Marathon Man so he could better express his exhaustion. His costar, British actor Laurence Olivier, laconically remarked, "Try acting ... it's easier." (121)
During the filming of Days of Thunder [. . . Cruise] was reading the script for the movie Edward Scissorhands, a typically gothic Tim Burton film about a sensitive but misunderstood loner. Unsure about whether to accept the role, he asked Miscavige and others for heir opinion. The Scientology leader felt he should reject the part as 'too effeminate." Tom did say no, arguing that he wanted a happy ending for the movie rather than the bleak one that Burton intended. (147)
As far as the Scientology leadership was concerned, nothing was too much trouble to keep him happy. So when the secrecy surrounding Tom's membership in Scientology was exposed that summer in an artide written by Janet Charlton in the Star tabloid in July 1990, the cult leadership went into overdrive, both to soothe the irritation of their most prized member and to find the source of the story. They used the notorious private investigator Eugene Ingrams, a former Los Angeles cop who was fired for misconduct after allegedly running a brothel, to find the culprit.
During his four-month investigation, journalist Charlton was harassed and people impersonated her, trying to get copies of her phone bill. Eventually, after a series of subterfuges, Nan Herst Bowerslongtime Scientologist, sometime Hollywood publicist, and friend of Janet Charltonwas fingered as the perpetrator. When she faced a Scientology court, she pled not guilty to eight media-related charges, including "engaging in malicious rumor mongering" and "giving antiScientology data to the press." She was found guilty and formally listed as a "Suppressive Person Declare," the equivalent to being excommunicated.
The ruling meant that she was not allowed to have any further contact with anyone inside Scientology, including her husband, her three sons, Brad, Todd, and Ryan, and her grandchild. Her family subsequently sent her letters of "Disconnect," which confirmed their refusal to have any contact with her. Within a week, Nan had gone from being a happily married mother and grandmother to being entirely cut off from her friends and family. Sixteen years have passed since the trial, and she has never seen her husband, sons, or her eight grandchildren since. "I was made a scapegoat for the story after Tom Cruise complained. As far as I am concerned, Scientology broke up my family," she says. (149-50)
The lights went on, he [Cruise] claimed, only in his mid-twenties, after he encountered Scientology techniques and learned to use dictionaries. Looking up words in a dictionary is one of the "technologies" that Scientology offers its members. "No one teaches you about dictionaries," he told writer Dotson Rader. "I didn't know the meanings of lots of words." (245)
The new gospel according to Cruise has not gone without criticism. The International Dyslexia Association has publicly attacked the actor's assertions. As executive director J. Thomas Viall commented, "When an individual of the prominence of Tom Cruise makes statements that are difficult to replicate in terms of what science tells us, the issue becomes what other individuals who are dyslexic do in response to such a quote unquote success story. There is not a lot of science to support the claim that the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard are appropriate to overcoming dyslexia."
Once again, Cruise brushed aside such criticism, utterly convinced of his superior knowledge. As he was to say time and again, he had done the reading. But that reading was invariably works by L. Ron Hubbard; to explore further would have been heresy. In the hermetically sealed universe beginning and ending with LRH, no other worldview or even point of view is tolerated. It is the North Korea of religion. (249-50)
Famously humorlessand litigiousin the face of speculation about his religion and his sexuality, he had little to laugh at later in November 2005 when the cartoon series South Park screened an episode, provocatively entitled "Trapped in the Closet," that poked fun at Scientology and the endlessly mutating rumors about his sexual orientation. It was bad enough that the half·hour show, penned by series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, already had a running joke in which Tom refused to leave a clothes closet, the implication being that he was refusing to acknowledge his homosexuality. But perhaps more damaging was the tongue-in-cheek explanation of Scientology's creationist myth, dealing with how the evil warlord Xenu sent millions of people to Earth to be blown up, their spirits floating in eternal torment. Not only was the exposition of this myth highly accurateStone and Parker had used a Scientology expert to write a background paperthere was a caption underneath that read: THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE. It was comedy genius, both funny and informative, eventually earning the show an Emmy nomination. Indeed, Steven Spielberg later told friends that he had learned more about Scientology from South Park than he ever had from Tom Cruise. (291-2)
Psychiatry, like computing, is an evolving science. For Hubbard to make universal rules and edicts about the science of mental health is akin to laying out iron laws about computing based on the cumbersome machines of the postwar period, when it took rooms full of equipment to perform fewer functions than today's microscopic silicon chips. Philosophically, Hubbard's worldview was defined by the state of the planet just after World War II. It is intellectually static, unable to accept or absorb any progress in civilization since then. It is no exaggeration to state that Scientology is the intellectual equivalent to the Flat Earth Society, a group locked in a time warp, inexorably bound by the rules defined by its founder. Even today, for example, high-ranking Scientologists communicate by encrypted telexrather than more modern methods such as e-mailbecause Hubbard decreed it. (321-2)
25oct2008 This Sunday!!! Battle of the Somethings That Are in Some Respects Like Other Things!!!
Nobody is born hard core. We are all converts; we all began, like Los Angelenos, somewhere else. There is a tendency to poke fun at the ''wanna-be,'' the individual who stands indecisively on the brinkbut as hard core is a choice, ''wanna-be'' is a stage, like boot camp, through which all must pass. Today's ''wanna-be'' might be tomorrow's Punk.
The world is full of kids considering society's contradictions. Those with a better education and a stronger moral compass are more likely to question their elders' roadmap of the future. Some will decide the financial security outweighs the moral pain, others will find a niche in which they can live balanced and productive lives without surrender of their principles. Some, taking shelter in conformity and obedience, will surrender their individuality, yield up the SELF, to their church, their service, their political party, or some other entity. Others, as already discussed, will back away. (17)
Those who are pondering "the road less traveled" often experiment with the paraphenelia of the traveller; the styles/accoutrements of the Punk. Committed hard core types, not understanding, or choosing to forget their own beginnings, often scorn these folks, driving some of them back into the herd. In the same way the frat boy terrorizes the pledges and the upperclassman hazes the plebe. Some things, unfortunately, are not left behind. (18)
Punks and Skinheads are certainly NOT the only "alternative" folks out there. We increasingly encounter reality's answer to A Clockwork Orange. These fellows run in packs, and, rather than courageously distance themselves from a system they despise, they practice opportunistic trashing. Far removed from the Punk, almost as far from the Skin, the Yob is a terrifying new breed, or perhaps not so newErnst Roehm led a pack of them in the 1930s ... (59)
23oct2008 One Among Many Possible Logos That May Be Not Quite Appropriate For A Retirement RV Park, Even A Retirement RV Park That Is Relatively Near Tombstone, Arizona:
The other day I watched a guy pound a metal post into his yard and affix a VOTE YES ON PROP. 102 sign to it.
Text of Proposed Amendment
Be it resolved by the Senate of the State of Arizona, the House of Representatives concurring:
1. Article XXX, Constitution of Arizona, is proposed to be added as follows if approved by the voters and on proclamation of the Governor:
ARTICLE XXX. MARRIAGE
SECTION 1. ONLY A UNION OF ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN SHALL BE VALID OR RECOGNIZED AS A MARRIAGE IN THIS STATE.
I tried to imagine a reason that would make me go out into my front yard, if I had one, and put up a sign in favor of continuing to go along with letting governments pretend to define things into or out of existence. I can tell you I wouldn't be convinced by any of the "proposition analysis" from the government-provided website, written by people in favor of continuing to go along with letting governments pretend to define things into or out of existence:
"When the Pilgrims stepped off the Mayflower they were in family unites [sic]."
"Even the Native Americans formed their society around a father, mother and children."
[Wow. Even, huh?]
"We are expecting our first child in November. It is something we have dreamed about our whole lives. Since we're expecting, we thought it would be fun to watch the movie Father of the Bride Part II. The movie is based on the perspective of a man expecting his first grandchild and another of his own. In the movie there are images of family gathered around the dinner table, supporting one another at the hospital and encouraging one another through difficult times. The movie filled our hearts with warmth and appreciation for the simple joys in life as it promotes traditional family values."
[Your Honor, Exhibit One: A shitty movie. Hold on. Make that: A shitty sequel.]
"Such traditions develop over time from the tried and true finest ways to experience the best of life."
[. . . of which there can be no valid conception but OURS.]
The technique used for separating the [organ pipe cactus] seeds from the fruit was unusual. According to a description written in 1740 by Father Consag, the Indians would spend several weeks in one locality collecting and consuming organ pipe fruits. They made it a point to defecate in selected spots so they could return and collect their dry feces. The feces were ground by hand to winnow out the undigested organ pipe seeds. The seeds were then toasted, ground on metates and eaten. This "second harvest," as it was called, was totally objectionable to the early missionaries but was efficient in tapping a source of food that would not otherwise be utilized. (31)
An important ceremonial ritual took place after the saguaro harvest with dancing, singing and consumption of the intoxicating wine. The final preparation of the wine involved pouring water and the saguaro syrup into watertight baskets. The water and syrup were mixed and then poured into ollas. The mixture was allowed to ferment for approximately four days before being consumed at the harvest celebration. The wine would spoil within twenty-four hours, so there was some attempt by the men to consume all of it. This often led to the men becoming intoxicated and the women caring for them afterward. (35)
Anyway, speaking of all things teen, when did Britney Spears's voice box start trying to turn into Rihanna's (right down to the "Umbrella"-ish vocal tics)? I thought Britney only knew how to use an umbrella to hit photographers and here she's gone and discovered a second use for the darned things. Now she's got me wondering is there something else umbrellas are good for?
Yep, need to stop wondering about things altogether. [Looks at stop watch] Annnnnnnd . . . done.
19oct2008 Flurry of alcohol-generated text messages and one voice mail emanating from the New Orleans wedding of Dr. Cliff while I was rendered incommunicado by unreachable desert expanses
Dr. Cliff, Evil Dentist:Sure wish u were here, bitch. Kerry (aka Tex):Why are you not here you effing bitch? Cardhouse Robot:You should something something bitch. Joshua, attorney at law:I don't care what everyone else is saying. I still admire and respect you. Dr.BrodyCulpepper, man about jungle:It's Brody. I'm in New Orleans. I got Tex and Cardhouse and Cliff and Joshua all around and I'm thinkin' where the hell are YOU? The term I hear around the table here is "bitch." And I wanna try to tampen down those attitudes. I'm sure there's some "reason" why you're not here. I SURE WOULD LIKE TO HEAR IT.
One of the best novels I've read in ages, though I don't read a lot of novels, and it's not even a novel.
The fact that Ronnie lay in the other room crucified to a green couch added to the tension, and then there was the disturbing number of secret messages being passed by ear and paper, one of which was delivered in a black box that no one could open, all concerning whether Jimmy Smith should be electrocuted.
As far as I could figure out, everyone liked Jimmy Smith, who was a nice guy, until his addiction forced him into cat burglary. Still a nice guy, he only robbed his friends, politely warning them beforehand. Once forewarned, there was nothing you could do to stop him, so dedicated was he at his trade. Actually, it wasn't that bad, he only took bizarre things, and sometimes left more valuable things in return, but Oscar, whose home I was told we were in, couldn't stand it. Nobody could stand Oscar either, he kept his stash in a bank vault so he wouldn't do too much, and conveniently never had enough for anybody else. So while we waited for "the man" like tortured lovers, Oscar waited for Chase Manhattan to open. Much to our satisfaction, Jimmy started robbing Oscar regularly and leaving us alone. It drove Oscar wild. Nothing stopped Jimmycops, locks, bars, none of it helped. Jimmy triumphed every time, but tonight success seemed impossible; Oscar had warned us that he had electrified the gates on the windows. He even found Jimmy and begged him not to do it, but Jimmy only handed him a note saying tonight was the night. (66-7)
Rotten Rita was known to have the worst speed in New York City. It could kill you. Rita himself was in the process of killing his own father. Every week they had coffee together, which Rita laced with megadoses of speed that often left the old man mumbling ninety miles an hour to a light bulb for the rest of the day. Of course, Rita insisted he only did it to test each new batch of stuff. He was pleased to announce that this week his dad had tossed himself out the second-story window and broken both his legs, and this was the stuff that did itall of which called for much tasting and sampling on our parts, and another magnanimous promise from Rita that the score that finally put his old man in Bellevue would be free. (102)
Last week's episode of The Sarah Silverman Show made fun of Laura Silverman's appearance, which is weird because I'll kiss Sarah Silverman right on the lips if Laura Silverman isn't just a sort of slightly fucked-up Gisele Bundchen.
Who VERR da peepull I vuss goingk to meet in EntARKteeka, et da ent uv duh VURRLT? Vutt verr dare DREEMPS?
[...] I vass surprist det I vass even on tiss plane. Da National Scients Fountation hed invitet me to Entarkteeka even zo I left NO doubt det I vould NOT come up vit anutta feelm about PENGUINTS.
Apparently Beverly Hills Chihuahua was a big winner over last weekend. I didn't see it (DUH) but I can save you the trouble anyway with a Filmic Truth:
A film (or TV show) will suck if its title contains the words Beverly Hills. Doubly so if Beverly Hills are the first words in the title.
Don't go saying Beverly Hills Cop to me. Because if you think that, we're not friends anymore. But even though we're enemies now, I'll help you out with the the first fifty (+/-) from IMDB:
Beverly Hills, 90210
Beverly Hills, 90210: The Next Generation
Beverly Hills Ninja (1997)
Slums of Beverly Hills (1998)
Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008)
Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)
Troop Beverly Hills (1989)
Beverly Hills Teens (1987) (TV series)
Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989)
Beverly Hills Nightmare
Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills (1994) (TV)
Beverly Hills Bordello
Beverly Hills Family Robinson (1998) (TV)
The Taking of Beverly Hills (1991)
aka The Corpse of Beverly Hills
aka Dead Woman from Beverly Hills
aka That Girl from Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills Vamp (1989)
Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills (1994)
Beach Beverly Hills (1993)
Beverly Hills Cowgirl Blues (1985) (TV)
aka Beverly Hills Connection - Australia (video title)
Beverly Hills Brats (1989)
Beverly Hills Bodysnatchers (1989)
Beverly Hills Madam (1986) (TV)
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery - USA
Beverly Hills Buntz (1987) (TV series)
Beverly Hills Cop (1990)
Beverly Hills Cop IV (2010)
Beverly Hills Cop: The Phenomenon Begins (2002) (V)
Beverly Hills Girls (1986)
Femmine insaziabili (1969)
aka Beverly Hills
Hot Body Competition: Beverly Hills Naked Cheerleaders Contest (2001) (V)
How to Murder a Millionaire (1990) (TV)
aka Bad Times in Beverly Hills - USA (working title)
Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills (1994) (TV series)
Terror in Beverly Hills (1991)
Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats (1987) (TV)
Beverly Hills Call Girls (1986) (V)
A Beverly Hills Christmas (1987) (TV)
Beverly Hills Massacre (2008) (V)
Beverly Hills Ninja 2 (2009)
Beverly Hills on Ice (2000) (TV)
Beverly Hills Standoff (2005)
Beverly Hills S.U.V. (2004) (TV)
Beverly Hills Vet (2003) (TV series)
The Gilmores of Beverly Hills (2010)
Jack Taylor of Beverly Hills (2007)
Leo & Liz in Beverly Hills (1986) (TV series)
Plastic Surgery: Beverly Hills (2004) (TV series)
The Streets of Beverly Hills (1992) (TV series)
A father has to be a provider, a teacher, a role model, but most importantly, a distant authority figure who can never be pleased. Otherwise, how will children ever understand the concept of God? Stephen Colbert, I Am America (And So Can You!)
This was the dream I woke up to this morning, no lie:
I was in a bathroom and someone asked me what in hell it was I was holding and I said it was Manny Ramirez's dreadlocks. And it was, babushka and all. So maybe it was his entire scalp. It wasn't bloody, though. But I was still asked how I was going to clean it. What? You don't clean it and you don't answer stupid questions like that. Point is, if I'm a Pharaoh and ManRam's Samson, look out Los Angeles.
I just had the pleasure of watching the fraudulent "bailout" bill fail (sometimes C-SPAN can be a real cool hand). A simple majority was all that was needed (and when aren't the majority of politicians simple?). The final vote was 227-206.
Trusting government to fix a giant mess created by government, though still the traditional method, is D-U-M-B.
Here's Peter Schiff back in 2006 predicting the crash, while the establishment hyenas all laugh at him (think the laughersamong whom is Art Lafferwill now publicly acknowledge they were wrong?):
It's a federal offense to make licentious remarks on a network television broadcast. The penalty for this disgusting, un-American behavior is one year in prison or a ten thousand dollar fine or both. Anyone making a sick, subversive remark tonight will be arrested immediately. I will then personally escort the offender to federal prison for booking under edict number 364 of the Broadcast Act of 1963. And it's a long drive to that prison. Just you and me. No other witnesses. Instructor Jenks (Robert Burke), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
When have you ever known the FBI to joke? FBI Agent Pierce Taylor (Robert Burke), OZ (S04E05, "Gray Matter")
We at the F.B.I. do not have a sense of humor we're aware of. Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), Men in Black
MTV should attempt an episode of MADE about someone who wants to be MADE into a writer. They wouldn't be able to show the now-obligatory physical training sequences, capped by a triumphant performance. There'd just be a lot of discussions about writing, and sequences showing the person writing, then maybe crying a little and almost quitting, and then the person almost wins a writing contest, and then people at the end talk about how, wow, the person really had been MADE into a writer.
I don't know how this failed to become an official Deuce of Clubs motto back inwait, 2002? Surely someone is to blame who is not me.
Linking, not thinking Some random scraps seen around the Net: Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat is still pretty funny after 113 years. The letters in the anthology No One May Ever Have the Same Knowledge Again--a book of insane missives sent to the Mt. Wilson Observatory from 1915-35--are appearing online a few at a time. (Link via Wiley Wiggins, one of very few webloggers who was in the cast of Dazed and Confused.) The Deuce of Clubs website has a thing about the Mt. Wilson letters somewhere in its un-navigably abundant depths; let me know if you can find it. Exploring DoC at random is encouraged, but fun features include a guide to preventing bandwidth theft, the Herb Alpert Whipped Cream art car, and the Mojave Phone Booth. (ColbyCosh.com)
I'm good twice a year, for that. When's the last time you shit your pants? Been a while?
[Tells rambling pants-shitting story and finishes with:] Got up in the morning, took the most perfect double-tapered shit I've ever had in my life. True story. [Beat] Who's the pitchers in this game?
A representative of the Enlightenment, which, unfortunately, sometimes seems to be in the process of being repealed, Voltaire presciently observed, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." This dire forecast is all the more likely to come to pass when politicians and a substantial portion of a large political party are among the most effective purveyors of beliefs such as the "Rapture." (xiii)
The argument doesn't even come close: One gaping hole in it is Assumption 1, which might be better formulated as: Either everything has a cause or there's something that doesn't. The first-cause argument collapses into this hole whichever tack we take. If everything has a cause, then God does, too, and there is no first cause. And if something doesn't have a cause, it may as well be the physical world as God or a. tortoise. (4)
Creationists explain what they regard as the absurdly unlikely complexity of life-forms by postulating a creator. That this creator would have to be of vastly greater complexity and vastly more unlikely than the life-forms it created does not seem to bother them. Nonetheless, it's only natural to ask the same question of the creator as one does of the alleged creations. (12-13)
We have a deck of cards before us. There are almost 1068a 1 with 68 zeros after itorderings of the fifty-two cards in the deck. Any of the fifty-two cards might be first, any of the remaining fifty-one second, any of the remaining fifty third, and so on. This is a humongous number, but it's not hard to devise even everyday situations that give rise to much larger numbers. Now, if we shuffle this deck of cards for a long time and then examine the particular ordering of the cards that happens to result, we would be justified in concluding that the probability of this particular ordering of the cards having occurred is approximately one chance in 1068. This probability certainly qualifies as minuscule.
Still, we would not be justified in concluding that the shuffles could not have possibly resulted in this particular ordering because its a priori probability is so very tiny. Some ordering had to result from the shuffling, and this one did. (17)
For the record, natural selection is a highly nonrandom process that acts on the genetic variation produced by random mutation and genetic drift and results in those organisms with more adaptive traits differentially surviving and reproducing. It's not a case of monkeys simply randomly pecking Shakespeare on a conventional typewriter. It's more akin to monkeys randomly pecking on a special typewriter that marginally more often than not retains correct letters and deletes incorrect ones. (Oddly, the fact that we and all life have evolved from simpler forms by natural selection disturbs fundamentalists who are completely unfazed by the biblical claim that we come from dirt.) (19)
Why is the notion of a fundamentalist comedian funny, or at least quite odd? Why does the idea of God as a comedian seem more appealing (at least to me) than the traditional view of God? Why does solemnity tend to infect almost all discussions of religion? Certainly an inability or reluctance to stand outside one's preferred framework is part of the answer. So is an intolerance for tentativeness and whimsy. The incongruity necessary for appreciating humor is only recognizable with an open mind and fresh perspective. (25)
A perhaps snarky response to the emptiness argument is fhe following. To the question "What will any of my concerns matter in one thousand years?" we might, of course, react with stoic resignation. Instead, however, we might turn the situation around. Maybe nothing we do now will matter in a thousand years, but if so, then it also would seem that nothing that will matter in a thousand years makes a difference now, either. In particular, it doesn't make a difference now that in a thousand years, what we do now won't matter. (76)
Powerful family and group dynamics, including the aforementioned confirmation bias, ensure that most families share the same religion. Children of Baptists, Episcopalians, and Catholics usually remain so or at most switch Christian denominations. Likewise with Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jews, Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and other religions' denominations; there is movement perhaps between denominations, but little drift to other religions. (110)
The connections among morality, prudence, and religion are complicated and beyond my concerns here. I would like to counter, however, the claim regularly made by religious people that atheists and agnostics are somehow less moral or law-abiding than they. There is absolutely no evidence for this, and I suspect whatever average difference there is along the nebulous dimension of morality has the opposite algebraic sign.
Pascal's wager notwithstanding, studies on crime rates (and other measures of social dysfunction) showing that nonbelievers in the United States are extremely underrepresented in prison suggest as much. So does Japan, one of the world's least crime-ridden countries, only a minority of whose citizens reportedly believe in God. And so, too, do those aforementioned monomaniacal true believers whose smiling surety often harbors a toxic intolerance. (Recall the physicist Steven Weinberg's happy quip "With or without religion, good people will do good, and evil people will do evil, but for good people to do evil, that takes religion.) (139)
A classic experiment on the so-called overjustification effect by the psychologists David Greene, Betty Sternberg, and Mark Lepper is relevant. They exposed fourth- and fifth-grade students to a variety of intriguing mathematical games and measured the time the children played them. They found that the children seemed to possess a good deal of intrinsic interest in the games. The games were fun. After a few days, however, the psychologists began to reward the children for playing; those playing them more had a better chance of winning the prizes offered. The prizes did increase the time the children played the games, but when the prizes were stopped, the children lost almost all interest in the games and rarely played them. The extrinsic rewards had undercut the children's intrinsic interest. Likewise, religious injunctions and rewards promised to children for being good might, if repudiated in later life, drastically reduce the time people spend playing the "being good" game. This is another reason not to base ethics on religious teachings. (140-1)
Parkinson's Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
Deuce of Clubs's Law: Digital content expands so as to fill the drive(s) available for its storage.
17sep2008 Welcome to What's Under the Hood? with Megan Fox
"Look, I'm not a lesbian," said Fox. "I just think that all humans are born with the ability to be attracted to both sexes. I mean, I could see myself in a relationship with a girlOlivia Wilde is so sexy she makes me want to strangle a mountain ox with my bare hands. She's mesmerizing. And lately I've been obsessed with Jenna Jameson, but ... oh boy."
16sep2008 Google yields two hits for "Hou-Tex Motel":
13sep2008 Um, doesn't that pretty much describe U.S. military recruiting, too?
U.S. Military guy in Afghanistan, speaking about the Taliban: "They . . . go to these young kids who don't have a job, who have no positive outlook in life. They sell them with a lot of propaganda. Tell them they're going to give their family money. And they bring them here."
In the film's opening scene, the Dude buys cream to fuel his White Russians. John Goodman reveals a scene that was cut out of the film. "Originally the Dude had somebody carry the milk out for him. They asked him if he needed help out with it, and he did."
Early in Lebowski, the narrator (a cowboy named the Stranger, played by Sam Elliott) intones, "Sometimes there's a man, who, well, he's the man for his time 'n place." The odd truth is this man the Dude may have been a decade ahead of his time. Today, as technology increasingly handcuffs us to schedules and appointments in the time it takes you to read this, you've missed three e-mails there's something comforting about a fortysomething character who will blow an evening lying in the bathtub, getting high and listening to an audiotape of whale songs. He's not a 21st-century man. Nor is he Iron Man and he's certainly not Batman. The Dude doesn't care about a job, a salary, a 401(k), and definitely not an iPhone. The Dude just is, and he's happy.
"There's a freedom to The Big Lebowski," theorizes Philip Seymour Hoffman, who played Brandt, the wealthy Lebowski's obsequious personal assistant. "The Dude abides, and I think that's something people really yearn for, to be able to live their life like that.
"The greatest gift anyone could make me would be some program where I could input shit like this and over the course of time, map out my soul. It would be like a video game when the whole thing was completed, telling my future based on some complex system of probabilities assembled by sifting through every little detail and making a Big Picture." Twenty Thousand Dollars Worth of Sneakers
Ian Hunter's "When the Daylight Comes" sounds like driving a 1965 Mustang around a desert town on a scorching late summer afternoon with three beautiful girls dressed in jean cutoffs and bikini tops in 1979 after spending the day on the river.
... erotic love tends to be an excess of friendship.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
Aristotle captures both the triumph and the tragedy of erotic love in this single, cryptic remark. On the one hand, erotic love is a form of friendship and friendship is one of the most valuable of all human goods. On the other hand, erotic love tends toward excess, which is the great enemy of a happy life.
The contradictory nature of erotic love gives rise to a paradox, painfully familiar to anyone who has lain awake heartsick at night. Do we choose erotic love, or does it choose us? In other words, is erotic love something that human beings deliberately seek out, or does it take hold of us unawares? Upon reflection, the answer is not clear. It seems that erotic love must be chosen, since the actions that lead to it are voluntary. At the same time, however, it seems that erotic love must not be chosen, since the reasons for choosing it never quite add up.
I was wondering whether there's a category of scientists who study ceiling fans for a living. You'd have to figure they'd probably have a word for the velocity at which the human eye can no longer distinguish the individual blades (without blinkingthat would be cheating Science). Terminal velocity? Nah. Too dramatic . I don't care that you're about to lose your grant money. That's no reason to go tarting up the science of ceiling fans. C'mon, man.
In Juneau, Alaska? And they think they're gonna keep it SECRET?
27aug2008 What actors might sound like without writers
Current mood: imaginative
"So what are you imagining?" someone asks via email. My answer: "All the possibilities that still exist in spite of all that suggests 'we cannot'". That is why I am voting for Barack Obama. He believes in all that is and all that can be, because he can imagine it and believes...I stand grounded in this always.
a comment on cliches
The world is laden with cliches. I feel suddenly compelled to create different and interesting ways of expressing thought provoking philosophies of similar nature. Hmmm...
Find a Grave: The Reverend John Norder, Laura's priest at Saint Charles Catholic Church, said she was the type of person who was always smiling and never judged others. "She always said, 'You know, you never know what people have been through in their lives.'"
If dead people could read MSNBC, the late Ms. Tennessen may have decided her catchphrase had its limits:
Police say the three men, carrying shovels, a crowbar and a box of condoms, went to a cemetery in southwestern Wisconsin in 2006 to dig up the body of Laura Tennessen, 20, who had been killed the week before in a motorcycle crash.
It's like I just discovered YouTube videos all of a sudden around here. Anyway, here's . . . another YouTube video. It's called "High As Fuck." It's by a guy called Jon Lajoie. The line about the dog = especially funny / true. Steve Dirkx sent the link. So thanks to Steve. Okay, so, anyway:
If I were high as fuck, I'd be wondering whether Jon Lajoie was any relation to Napoleon Lajoie. It's been too long since I've wondered about Napoleon Lajoie. I should get high.
once i was riding an elephant into the show, and there was a catman on the ground, and he had seen me drive onto the lot, and he said, “you can ride an elephant and drive a truck?! if your daddy owned a liquor store, you’d make a good wife!”
There is a point at which even people who constantly make the "one bad apple" excuse are going to have to admit that the whole bushel is bad. This cop's behavior is pathetically typical of the kind of person who becomes a copsomeone who covets the imagined authority he or she will be able to wield over people they would otherwise not be able to compete with in jobs that require something other than being a no-neck bossy loudmouth twit. Paul Stephens should be fired, prosecuted, and sentenced to personally keep the local dog shelter yard clear of dogshit for at least a year.
Only mine's not for people. Mine's for ideas. Ideas that do not fly.
So far, I have:
Authority does not fly. I had a list of other ideas that do not fly (collectivism, taxation, &c.), but really, they're all dependent on authority. Toss out authority and the rest fall away with it.
16aug2008 Twelve-year-old Amanda Kokoeva puts it in the face of neocon, pro-Georgian FOX (or FUCKS or FARCE, or whatever you want to call it)
Shepherd Smith, FOX News: There are thousands of people who have been displaced as a result of the war in Georgiatens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, if you believe reports. Among the unfortunate civilians, caught in the crossfire in this conflict: a twelve-year-old girl from outside San Francisco. Amanda Kokoeva was in South Ossetia for a month-and-a-half-long visit with her relatives. She was with family members in a cafe, and all of a sudden, bombs were falling outside. A twelve-year-old girl. She spent a night in her uncle's basement. She was able to flee to Russiaflee to the Northcatch a flight home from Moscow.
With us now: Amanda Kokoeva and her aunt Laura, live with us from our San Francisco bureau.
It's great to see you. Welcome home. Amanda Kokoeva and her Aunt Laura: Thank you. FOX: I cannot even imagine sitting in a cafe and bombs start falling. I mean I've been to wars where that happens but, when you were there there wasn't really war happening. It started when you were there. Describe for us what that was like. Amanda: Yes. It was really scary. I didn't know what was happening. We were just sitting normally and everybody from outside started running in, and it was just so scary. FOX: Where did you go? What did you do? Amanda: My...We called my uncle on the restaurant house phone because we . . . our cellphones weren't working. And so we called him and he came to pick us up and drove us to his house. We ended up spending the night in the basement. FOX: Were there bombs falling all the while? Amanda: I didn't see any. But before I say anything else, I just want to say that I was running from GEORGIAN troops, bombing myourcity, NOT Russian troops. I want to say thank you to the Russian troops that were helping us out. [Brief pause while Shepherd stops to carefully not consider that possibility] FOX: Where is your family now and how are they? Amanda: Some of themsome of my cousins, aunts, and unclesare in North Ossetia right now, and they are safe. But my grandma and some of my aunts and uncles are still back there and I don't know . . . we don't have any contact with them, and I don't know if they're alive, or anything. FOX: Well, I know your aunt is with you. This . . . this . . . I cannot even imagine. I mean, seeing a twelve-year-old go through all of this. It must have been horrifying. Laura: Yeah, it was horrifying for all of us, and the main thing I want to say on television: I want you to know whom to blame in this conflict. That's Mr. Saakashvili who started this war and Mr. Saakashvili who is agressor and who in two days
[FOX's mouthpiece can be heard mumbling in response to orders being barked into his earpiece] Laura: my people, Ossetian people were killed, and were under bombs and two thousand people were killed in one day [Smith tries to interrupt] Laura: and that's what I am against FOX: I would NEVER cut you off, but. Unfortunately. A commercial break will take us there in four seconds, whether we like it or not. Laura:Yeah, I know. I know that you don't want to hear that. Yeah. Thank you. FOX: I'll bring you back right after the commercial. I'll be right back with you. Stand by. [After commercials] FOX: Back with us from San Francisco. This program ends in less than a minute, but I want to give you thirty seconds to complete your thought. [Odd pause] FOX: So go ahead. Laura: Yes, my house is burnt in South Ossetia where I lived, and we can blame only one person, and Georgian government FOX: Ten seconds… Laura: I'm not blaming Georgian people, I'm blaming Georgian government, and he has to resign. FOX: Well, that's certainly what the Russians want. If I had more time you would get it, but I have but 5 seconds, thank you both. The young girl's a hero in San Francisco, and understandably. There are grey areas in war.
Careful, there, Shepherd. no matter how sanctimoniously intoned, "There are grey areas in war" is not the official FOX stance. On anything.
A: Get up. B: Fifty-six minutes. I've been asleep for fifty-six minutes. A: Team leader meeting. B: Fifty-six minutes and just one dream. A: At least you GOT to dream. B: I dreamt I was in Iraq. A: [pause] Were ya naked?
12aug2008 It's all baseball all the time, these days, I guess
Yesterday Adam Dunn was traded from Cincinnati to Arizona.
At about 2:30 a.m. I picked up a book I've been reading called The Baseball Economist, opened it to my bookmark, and the first sentence was:
There's nothing subtle about the Cincinnati Reds' Adam Dunn.
Nothing subtle about an omen, either. One might think. The paragraph goes on to say:
The six-feet six-inch, 275-pound left fielder was slated to play football at the University of Texas before he turned his attention to baseball. In 2004, Dunn became the owner of a dubious record: he struck out more times in a single season (195) than any other player in the history of baseball. While many were quick to chastise Dunn for his tendency to strike out, few noticed that Dunn was the eleventh best run producer in the National League that year.
Good, good, okay. But then the next few sentences concern the most disastrous Diamondback move in their short history:
In 2003, the Atlanta Braves' Russ Ortiz led the National League in wins with twenty-one, while being only the fiftieth best run preventer. By 2006, Ortiz's deficiencies had become so obvious that the Arizona Diamondbacks cut him in mid-season, eating the remainder of his $22 million contractthe largest amount any team has ever paid to waive a player.
What does this mean for the Diamondbacks and Adam Dunn?
The Baseball Economist is a scientific book about baseball, and that means I can scientifically predict Adam Dunn will do well for the Diamondbacks, based on the traditional baseball science of superstition. Fingers crossed.
I wonder whether the following strategy could work for a Moneyball-type team such as the Oakland A's:
1. Identify a major-leaguer on another team, a player you judge is being undervalued and who could help your team.
2. Find out which positions that team believes it needs to improve.
3. Draft a player who could plausibly appear to fill that team's need. Your reputation for recognizing undervalued talent might drive up the draftee's value.
4. Work a deal to swap your draftee for the player you wanted (who might be considered expendable in the face of a prospect the A's were hot on).
Then again, they could wonder why you were willing to deal him. Maybe they need to take another look at this guy on their team and why the A's would want him. Why you gotta be so damned sneaky all the time, Oakland A's?
Suppose I have a friend who lives in an area on the other side of a 100% imaginary line, dominated by a different gang of criminals than the one that dominates the area on the side of the line I live on. Suppose my friend is taking part in an Olympic competition. Who would I root for: my friend, or someone who has in common with me only that we live in an area dominated by the same gang? Obviously, I would pull for my friend to win. And there you have what really matters on the individual, human level vs. dangerous abstract nonsense.
Olympics = nationalist horseshit
07aug2008 Man Who Used Stick To Roll Ball Into Hole In Ground Praised For His Courage
SAN DIEGOA man who used several different bent sticks to hit a ball to an area comprised of very short grass surrounding a hole in the ground was praised for his courage Monday after he used a somewhat smaller stick to gently roll the ball into the aforementioned hole in fewer attempts than his competitors. "What guts, what confidence," ESPN commentator Scott Van Pelt said of the man, who was evidently unable to carry his sticks himself, employing someone else to hold the sticks and manipulate the flag sticking out of the hole in the ground while he rolled the ball into it. "You have to be so brave, so self-assured, so strong mentally to [roll a ball into a hole in the ground]. Amazing." The man in question apparently hurt his knee during this activity.
Brian Schweitzer, the governor of Montana, wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. The letter informed Chertoff that Montana would not be complying with the REAL ID Act. Our quote of the day supplies one of the reasons for Governor Schweitzer's rebellion. [“Do you want our government to have the ability to track where you went, how you went, how you got there and when you got home? It would be naïve for someone to think this information will not be abused in the future. Virtually every decade these kinds of files have been used to violate people’s privacy.”] In response to the letter, Secretary Chertoff called Governor Schweitzer and threatened him. Chertoff told Schweitzer that Montana residents would be banned from airplanes, or subjected to severe, time-consuming inspections at airports.
The Governor countered with his own threat, "How about we both go on 60 Minutes a few days after the DHS starts patting down Montana driver's license-holders who are trying to get on the planes and both of us can tell our side of the story."
Chertoff didn't like that suggestion. He said, "I see the problem. We need to get this fixed."
So far, the "fix" involves granting Montana and all other rebellious states an extension of the deadline for complying with the REAL ID Act. But the real fix is to repeal REAL ID.
Borodin: Do you think they will let me live in Montana?
Ramius: I would think they'll let you live wherever you want.
Borodin: Good. Then I will live in Montana. And I will marry a round American woman, and raise rabbits, and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck ... or a ... possibly even a recreational vehicle and drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?
Lying in bed last night thinking about nothing, I began to wonder about the two notes of the conventional two-note doorbell chime. Where did that interval come from? Why that interval, particularly?
A long internet search led circuitously back to the first place I should have looked: Wikipedia. The entry for Westminster Quarters explains the familiar clock chime (which may have been concocted by a man called Wm. Crotch).
More to the point, the first two notes chimed in the third Westminster Quarter sound to me like the familiar two-tone doorbell interval.
Now you won't have to lie awake tonight wondering about this. (You're welcome.)
Although archaeologists have certainly not abandoned the idea of the value of studying the Bible and the biblical world, they now take an approach far different from that of their predecessors. "If you want to learn more about the
Bible," Bruce Routledge, an archaeologist who is directing an excavation in Jordan, said at a 1998 conference about ancient Israel organized at the University of Pennsylvania, "stop looking at the Bible. If you want to learn more about ancient Israel, stop looking at ancient Israel." What Routledge meant was that the Bible could be better understood against the canvas of broader regional trends. "There were probably many Davids and Solomons operating around the Middle East during the tenth century B.C.E.," he added. The idea that Israel's history was unique has gradually been giving way to the notion that Israel's past can be best understood in the context of the general history of the ancient Near East. (20)
When their research was completed, they reached a startling conclusion, one at odds with the conclusive results that Finkelstein optimistically had predicted in his paper. After studying bone remains at archaeology sites throughout the Middle East, they determined that during the biblical period virtually no one in the region was eating pig. Similarly, the refusal to use pigs as sacrifices in official religious rituals hadn't been limited to the Israelites, but was a common feature of religions throughout the Middle East. (23-4)
After studying the remains of scores of villages of that period, the archaeologists concluded that the people living there worshipped traditional Canaanite gods, wrote in Canaanite alphabetic script, and used Canaanite-style pottery. It is difficult to tell an Israelite from a Canaanite because the Israelites and the Canaanites were one and the same people. (79)
Such inscriptions were not appreciated by rival peoples. At Dan, excavators found the stela fragments inside a fortification wall. Apparently after the Israelites recaptured Dan, they broke the stela into pieces and used the basalt blocks for construction material. (152)
But Judah was not empty after all. Most of the population remained behind, living in the same places they had lived before, except now under Babylonian rule. Just a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, there is virtually no sign of any destruction at all. In fact, archaeologists digging in these areas have discovered that many of those cities actually expanded and flourished under the Babylonians. The people living in them weren't all poor peasants either. Burial caves in use during the Babylonian period have been found to contain gold and silver jewelry, fancy and costly vases and pottery, and other luxury items that reflected the owners' considerable status and wealth, rather than the poverty described by the Bible. (155)
One of the speakers at the museum conference was Oded Bustenay, a historian at Haifa University who has done considerable scholarly work on Jewish life in Babylon during these time periods. Bustenay carefully studied cuneiform documents that had come to light during excavations at Nippur. These tablets, called the Murashu texts, contained the records of a large Babylonian family banking firm. Although they dated to a later period, about a century after Jews first settled in Babylon, it was clear from the texts that over the years Jews had prospered in agriculture, trade, and finance. Bustenay argued that although too many years had passed ever to determine precisely the status of the exiles, the Murashu texts showed that there was no formal discrimination against the Jews. They made the same kinds of contracts and were charged the same interest rates as any other group. They were not sold as slaves, as the Bible had indicated, but treated as freemen, subject to taxation and draft into the imperial army like everyone else. They were even allowed to keep slaves themselves. Contrary to the impression left by the Bible, Bustenay concluded, the Jews in exile were hardly marginal elements, living on the fringes of Babylonian society. They hadn't needed King Cyrus's edict to empower them. They were already free. (174-5)
And during the Ottoman period, when taxes were high, there were only three towns in all of Jordan listed in the official tax collection records: Husn, Salt, and Kerak. Unrecorded and unmentioned were the hundreds of cave villages throughout the country during the same period, including one at Hisban, whose residents spent most of the years of Ottoman rule living underground in order to avoid tax collectors.
For the Madaba Plains archaeologists, one of the biggest appeals of searching for the Ammonites has been the realization that the culture and lifestyle described in the Bible can actually be seen much more clearly in Jordan than in Israel. Over the years, Israel has shifted away from an agriculture-based economy. Huge swaths of biblical landscape have been taken over by new housing projects and even bigger highways. The Israelis have established biblical parks (one is called Genesis Land) in an effort to re-create for tourists as well as Israelis what ancient life was actually like. There, actors dressed in traditional garb bake flatbread over a fire, press olives in a stone olive press, make pottery on an ancient wheel. In Jordan, there is no need to go to a park to see these things. The continuity between the traditional lifestyle still followed in many villages and the one emerging in the study of the Ammonite sites is remarkable. (185-6)
What now became evident was that, among the scrolls and other documents found in the Qumran caves were many versions of the biblical texts, in fact all the books of the Hebrew Bible except Esther. These manuscripts didn't contain merely minor textual variations that could be attributed to the mistake of a copyist. They clearly showed that over the course of centuries many of the best-known stories in the Bible, from Abraham and Sara's sojourn in Egypt described in Genesis to parts of Exodus and the Book of Samuel, had been intentionally reworkedupdated, many scholars speculated, to reflect current concerns. Also found among the caves were many texts of works not included in the traditional Hebrew canon. Hundreds of years after Ezra supposedly brought back the version of the Pentateuch that we use today, many books not now contained in the Hebrew Bible were clearly still considered part of the mainstream Jewish library. The conclusion was quite staggering: the writing and editing of the biblical texts and the establishment of the final canon, had obviously involved a much more fluid and complicated process than previously thought. (223)
A few days before his talk in Jerusalem, Davies drives down to Tel Aviv, to meet with professors and graduate students in a seminar given by the university's archaeology department. There is quite a bit of tension in the small conference room when Davies, dressed in a white oxford cloth shirt and black pants, begins to speak. Israel Finkelstein, the head of the archaeology department, is one of the few Israeli archaeology professors who actually requires that his students read Davies' most famous book, In Search of "Ancient Israel. "The book has been extremely controversial because it was among the first to argue in cogent, accessible terms that the Bible had been mainly written, not just edited, in the Persian era and perhaps even later. This attacked the traditional idea that the Bible's writers had recorded many events immediately after they happened. "The Bible is not completely unhistorical," Davies tells the students and professors near the end of his talk, "but it is largely unhistorical." Later he will expand on the idea. "For every historical battle there is also a fictional miracle," he writes me a few months after his visit to Israel. "Whether the Bible is fictionalized history or historicized fiction is a matter of taste. It is a blend of both, and the argument is over the proportions and the extent to which history or fiction is in control." (243-4)
The Superstition Mountains weren't quite this surrounded eleven years ago when my niece became the youngest person to climb them, although from the top it was possible even then to see the planned layout of the soon-to-be streets gouged into the desert floor.
Fun show, though. Fucked-up that the network gave it no decent chance at all.
High school guidance counselor: Well, it's an important job. Secret Service agent: No it's not. You ever heard of the vice-president getting assassinated? No. You know why? It's never happened. Will it ever happen? No way. Because, who cares? Know what I mean?
28jul2008 Again: NO GOOD CAN COME OF TALKING TO A COP
My rule has long been: Never, ever talk to a cop. I broke this rule, once (an incident now known as the stranglemugger error). I do not plan to break it again. Because your teachers were LYING. NO COP IS YOUR FRIEND. NO GOOD CAN COME OF TALKING TO A COP.
27jul2008 I'm not sure why I read a few trashy biographies every year. . .
. . . but last night the excuse was insomnia.
Courtney was now stripping in San Francisco clubs, and the work seemed grubbier and more depressing than ever. The longer you work as a stripper, the sloppier you get with the makeup, the shaving, the attitude. You stop bothering to repair little flaws in your costumes. You become a lazy cynic whose entire aspect screams, "Just give me a goddamned dollar and leave me the fuck alone." Only the fact that she now condescended to dance to sleazy rock hits instead of esoteric glam-punk allowed her to make any money at all. Poppy Z. Brite, Courtney Love: The Real Story (p. 72)
Terri Garr: Uh-oh. You've really worked on my oeuvre, haven't you?
Onion AV Club: This one stood out. And most people probably aren't aware that the Reverend Billy Graham spent some time playing at being a movie star.
TG: Oh, right! It was a religious movie. I remember Al Freeman, Jr. was in it. I think the kids who smoked marijuana died, because that's how bad it was. Still the same way today.
AVC: If you smoke marijuana, you die?
TG: Exactly. You get into a fiery car crash. That's what that movie was telling us. Poor Billy Graham. So out of it.
AVC: How would you compare Billy Graham's cult of personality to Elvis'?
TG: Same damn thing. Billy Graham, Elvissame guy. Just kidding. Well, Elvis was religious too. He believed in God. He was singing "Ave Maria" all the time. I liked that about him.
AVC: And Billy Graham?
TG: He was not singing "Ave Maria" all the time, but he reminded me of all those pastors from when I was a kid and we went to Presbyterian church. You'd believe every word they said until you got out of the room, and then you'd actually think about what they said, and then you'd go, "No, wait. That's not right." At least, that's what I did.
24jul2008 RobbL sends camera pix from a Bees game behind Mormon lines
Hrm, Z-I-O . . . bet I can guess what the next letter is.
Via PDA, RobbL sent further on-scene reportage:
I'll bet there are 6000 people here. And they're all talking smack. These Mormons sure dig their baseball.
Robb's next report concerned controversy in the stands (with the subject line "Only in Utah":
Heckler (early 20's): "Hey, your guy dumps like a truck!"
Grown-up (early 40's): "Hey - watch your mouth, kid. Get it out of the gutter."
Update: heckler was just ejected for using the name of Our Lord disrespectfully.
Not joking, but there is more to the story. Will explain later.
Although Tony Wilson would've advised me not to tell the whole story...
I guess good. Attendance: 6086
Oh, yeah - the heckler. When he yelled "Jesus Christ!" the grown-up got up and walked out to find someone from the ballpark. A few minutes later, a couple of guys came down and talked to the kid, asked to see his ticket, and then escorted him up. I don't know if they actually kicked him out or just made him go back to his ticketed seat with a stern talking-to. The crowd reaction was mixed - some cheers, several boos, and quite a bit of chuckling.
23jul2008 I don't mean for this to become the My Hatred of Nancy Grace Place (well, not exclusively)...
...but I just saw a promo for her show where that scary hag screeches forth with a nugget of deep wisdom she somehow remembers from her schoolyard days during the Taft administration:
"When YEW poynt yore FANGER et summun eltz . . . yew got FORE OTHER FANGERS poyntun' beck et CHEW!"
Not that it's especially surprising if Nancy Grace has four fingers pointing back at her when she points at people, but if she does, it means she can do something really sickening with her thumb, because people making that gesture whose parents didn't marry their cousins generally have only three (see Figs. 1 and 2).
Try it for yourselfif you've got four, jackpot! CNN executives may consider you inbred monster enough to be deserving of a cable news network show.
I did run across some video of Nancy Grace not practicing what she screeches:
Unless one of the snakes managed to escape from her head, I'm pretty sure she's pointing a finger there, but I'll tell you what, I would instantly become a fan of public financial support of NASA if every TV talking head could be fitted with a Launch button, .
Tags: CNN | scary ignorant monsters | monsters in the public eye | monsters too stupid to live | monsters with bug eyes and outsized lizard teeth | monsters from whose terror there is no escape, neither in sleep nor in wakefulness | monsters from whom innocent offspring should be snatched in mercy to their poor souls
Update: Oh, man. I was just about to close the browser window with the CNN transcript when my eye landed on this:
GRACE: Out to the lines. Bill in Ohio. Hi, Bill. BILL, OHIO RESIDENT: Hello, Nancy. You have the beautiful most children.[sic] GRACE: Thank you, dear. BILL: But my question is, have they checked in his helicopter for any DNA? GRACE: Bill, how old are you? BILL: I'm only 9 years old. GRACE: You know what? You're pretty darn smart, little guy. What do you want to be when you grow up? BILL: I'm thinking about being a wrestler. GRACE: Excellent.
As shocking as it is to discover that Nancy Grace has sway over children other than her own, at least there's hope that maybe some other nice child in Nancy's vast audience of grade-school-level wrestling fans will call in and explain to her how many fingers hands that don't belong to misshapen monsters have, on average.
22jul2008 Ron Paul: "Big Events are about to occur."
Texas Congressman Ron Paul has warned the House that he is "convinced the time is now upon us that some Big Events are about to occur" that will cause liberty to go "into deep hibernation".
[ . . . ]
"There are reasons to believe this coming crisis is different and bigger than the world has ever experienced. Instead of using globalism in a positive fashion, it's been used to globalize all of the mistakes of the politicians, bureaucrats and central bankers." Paul continued.
In one of Paul's most memorable speeches to date, the Congressman spoke of rampant authoritarianism having replaced the principles of liberty that the United States was founded upon and warned that current empire building financed through inflation and debt signals a most frightening period in history.
"Our arrogance and aggressiveness have been used to promote a world empire backed by the most powerful army of history. This type of globalist intervention creates problems for all citizens of the world and fails to contribute to the well-being of the world's populations. Just think how our personal liberties have been trashed here at home in the last decade." Paul urged fellow representatives.
A: If you can't tell the song names from the artist names, it's probably techno.
Exercise: Each pair below represents an artist or group and one of the artist's or group's songs. Identify.
Incognito | Aerial Servant
Herpes Simplex | Latex Empire
Tempest | Luminary
Normal Talkover | Double Secret
The Penguin | Donut Junkie
Scoring: For each correct answer award yourself 50,000,000,000,000 points.
19jul2008 Lee Hazlewood Presents: The 98% American Mom & Apple Pie 1929 Crash Band
"My fellow 98%* Americans:
Music are good. Music are good for you. You should eat at least three songs a day. In a recent government survey we discovered nothing. Chivas drinkers arise... you have nothing to lose but your equilibrium. '54-40 or fight' means as much today as it will next week. Albums is good. Albums is good for you. You should eat at least three albums a day. This album you could eat six... it couldn't hurt you."
18jul2008 ". . . and all concerned were happy, because I promised them all their wishes would come true."
'k, apparently we need to clarify the intended commentary, here. The point wasn't that Sean Connery's mad priest character from The Man Who Would Be King would be granting wishes to Obama and McCain, who are therefore happy. The point was that Obama and McCain, like Sean Connery's mad priest character from The Man Who Would Be King, are running around promising everyone that all their wishes will come true. Here, maybe some bad Photoshopping will help:
Okay, so, remember how, in the quotation from The Man Who Would Be King (see above), Sean Connery's mad priest character promised everyone that all their wishes would come true? But how, in the movie, these promises were groundless? And without value? And lies? And stuff? All right, then, if Obama and McCain are similar in this respect to Sean Connery's mad priest character, then . . . oh, fuck it, I give up. Here's a link to Animal Planet.
And please don't write in about the damned turbansthis post is not making a derogatory reference to religion. (For a change.)
They didn’t seem to much anticipate people subverting the constitutional framework itself in the way it has happened historically: that the Supreme Court would declare growing food on your own land for your own consumption to be commerce “among the several states,” that vast hordes of sophists would insist that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” is a reference to the National Guard (established in 1903), that the power to take property for “public use” would encompass seizing people’s homes so that multibillion dollar-corporations can have a more profitable store location, that the existence of the words “general welfare” would be taken to mean that the government could do anything whatsoever that is not expressly forbidden by the Constitution, or that the 10th Amendment would just sort of vanish. The supporters of the Constitution understood and feared human ambition, but badly underrated human cleverness. (Strike the Root)
14jul2008 A big jarn, quimp, grawlix, and nittle to my ignorance
agitrons: squiggly lines indicating the movement or agitation of an object boozex: Xs on a bottle, indicating hooch of one sort or other oculama: Xs over a character's eyes to indicate drunkeness (or sometimes death?) spurl: a tornado-looking squiggle indicating confusion, drunkeness, &c. squeans: short lines in a starburst pattern (sort of like burst bubbles), indicating drunkeness, confusion, dizziness lucaflect: spot or square representing reflection, especially of a round object, such as an eye plewds: drops emanating from a character, indicating exertion dites: straight-ish lines indicating glass vites: straight-ish lines indicating water (or, I guess, ice) symbolia: symbolic representations of common objects not realistically drawn digitons: stylized fingers blurgits: curving lines indicating a character in motion (often shown as motion blur) waftarom: rising serpentine lines indicating odors or heat jarns, quimps, grawlixes, nittles: symbols in a speech or thought balloon indicating anger, expletives
Laurie claimed her reading didn't go that well, but I enjoyed it. It was so packed there wasn't even a chair left for an old pal, so I leaned against a post that turned out to be next to the children's section, which I found out when I glanced to my right and sawand I swear to you on a stack of naked pictures of Alyssa Milano that this is absolutely trueon a rack, not three feet from me, this book cover, which I should have recognized instantly:
Believe it or don't, it actually took me a few seconds to realize why a contemporary children's reading primer would be familiar to me.
So, to recap:
Former Planeteer Laurie has written a bunch of books and conquered the New York Times bestseller list.
Former Planeteer Doc is mentioned in a sixth-grade-level reading primer and gets maybe a nickel if someone clicks one of the book links above and buys a Laurie Notaro book.
Former Planet Magazine Staffers: Together, We're Winners!
Whenever I was in view of the dog yesterday, I walked backwards, to see how she'd react. She was curious about it at first, but the novelty wore off pretty quickly. (For her, not for me. I might do it again today.) Then last night, possibly because George Carlin came up in conversation during the evening (or possibly because I walked backwards all day) I dreamed about words for seasons: dream-me wondered why it's common to hear wintertime, springtime, and summertime, but not falltime or autumntime? (Awake me says, Eh.)
You know that anyone that far to the right, like Swaggart, is hiding a deep, dark secret. You do know that, right? I'm an armchair psychologist, but you know that when Jesse Helms finally dies . . . they're going to find the skins of young children drying in his attic.Bill Hicks, Live in L.A.
07jul2008 A very special 7th of July message from Owen Wilson
"The studio said 'Bottle Rocket' was their worst-testing movie in history, so I looked into the Marines. Maybe I was influenced by An Officer and a Gentleman or those Marine commercialsthey were so cool! Like a Led Zeppelin song come to life, full of people pulling swords from rocks and fighting lava monsters." Owen Wilson, in Maxim magazine
If we didn't already know the target market for those doofy recruiting commercials that try to make the life of an order follower look like a video game with no real-world consequences . . . it's the target market of people who can't spot obvious bullshit. (We're proud of you, Owen!) Maybe that's always been the case. It was a TV commercial, after all, that convinced Bill Murray's character in Stripes to join the army. Who knows, if they'd had CGI in the 60s, maybe the military might've tricked noted warriors such as Rush Limbaugh, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and George W. Bush into actual combat duty in Vietnam. (In Bush's case, instead of free college, they could have just left a trail of free cocaine that led up the steps of a military transport aircraft.)
how i imagine life in the u.s. army
(based on the commercials
GENERAL STONE: All right, men, listen up! Our nation is at war, and the whole world is counting on us to protect freedom. That leaves us with just one option.
BOB: Rock climbing?
GENERAL STONE: Exactly. There's a steep mountain in the middle of an unpopulated desert. We need someone to go there by himself, climb the mountain, and put a flag on the top.
BOB: I'll do it.
GENERAL STONE: Excellent! Here's the flag.
GENERAL STONE: All right, let's see. We also need someone to ride a Jet Ski. How about you, Jackson?
JACKSON: I don't know, General, I'm sort of afraid of getting hurt. Can I stay here and work on computers?
GENERAL': Yes. Everybody who wants to can stay here and work on computers.
GENERAL: What's up?
BRIAN: Can I take a break? I kind of want to go to college.
GENERAL: No problem, here's thirty thousand dollars in cash.
BRIAN: Great, thanks.
GENERAL: Okay, men, that's it for the day.
JACKSON: Hey, look! It's my friends and family.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY: Hey, nice uniform. We're proud of you.
JACKSON: Thanks. See you in a couple of weeks.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY: Yeah, see you then.
06jul2008 A stance ripped right from the headlines
Conor Jackson of the Arizona Diamondbacks, explaining his unusual hitting stance on television yesterday, said, "Everyone has a different stance. I have a wide stance."
Careful, Conor. That excuse may not hold up in court. ZZZinggggggg!
(Deuce of Clubs: Your New Internet Larry Craig Reference Source.)
(Note: Not a D.o.C. motto)
Side note: Moments after the "wide stance" comment, I glanced up at the tv and saw this on the closed-caption display:
What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisya thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour. Frederick Douglass (1852)
03jul2008 If you're within, let's say, five hundred miles of Redmond, Washington and you don't go to Marymoor Park on 12 July to see D.o.C. pals Girl Trouble play an ACOUSTIC show for (you'd have to assume, even if they didn't say so) the first time ever, in honor of their being inexplicably left out of Sub Pop's big 20th Anniversary Show, then you're OUTTA THE GANG. (Tell Bon von Wheelie that I sent you and get in for 1/2 PRICE! That's 1/2 of FREE!
Date: Jul 2, 2008 5:28 PM
Subject: WE'RE PLAYING ANYWAY! MARYMOOR PARK - JULY 12
Body: OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GIRL TROUBLE PLAYS MARYMOOR PARK ANYWAY
As you may know, the first Girl Trouble album, "Hit It or Quit It", was released on K/SubPop in 1988. In fact, this was the first full-length record SubPop ever released. The record matrix number was K/SP-20.
This month SubPop is hosting a huge, two-day concert of SubPop bands in Marymoor Park on July 12/13 to celebrate their 20 year anniversary. It's billed as the SP-20 event, one letter off from the old Hit It or Quit It matrix number. Coincidence? You be the judge. Of course, Girl Trouble awaited the invitation to join their old friends and label-mates on stage for this most festive occasion.
Unfortunately. the band now suspects that a mistake has been made. They have yet to be contacted by their old label! With only weeks to spare it was obvious there was some sort of unintentional oversight by SubPop.
Girl Trouble has never been a band to let a small detail like not being invited deter them from joining in on any celebration. That's why they have decided to bring some instruments and play the show anyway, somewhere in Marymoor Park, as close to the venue as they can legally get. This will be the first all-acoustic Girl Trouble show, playing selections from their SubPop album, Hit It or Quit It, in order.
Feel free to look for Girl Trouble somewhere in the park (possibly by some picnic tables or a tree) starting at noon, where they promise to entertain anybody who happens by. Unlike the $30 ticket price for the bands inside the Marymoor Park venue - there will be no charge for this one-day-only performance. Please join us on Saturday, July 12 for this special event. Don't forget your picnic lunch, blanket and sun screen. Complementary bag of chips to the first 40 K/SP-20 attendees.
Some idiot CNN Headline News reporterdoes it matter to you which one? really?exhibiting the crack reporting we all expect from mainstream media news outlets, breathlessly reported just now that:
a) "some folks say"I'm quoting exactly, herethat sunscreen is unsafe, whereas
b) "other experts, including doctors" say otherwise.
Golly, well, when you put it that way, I guess I have to admit that's some worthwhile controversy you've stirred up there, CNN Headline News! How could anyone possibly ignore the opinion of "some folks?" 'Cos, fuck doctors. Sorry I just called your reporter an idiot. My mistake!
The next step in CNN's investigative method will take place tonight, when Nancy Grace will scream into the camera about the lobbying power of Big Sunscreen, right after she finishes yammering about her infant twins, which is never. O mighty Zeus, I pray thee, please take pity on those poor children and grant them a relatively painless fatal disease. Or at least arrange for someone to abduct them before they can form any memories of that terrifying woman. I know that sounds unkind to say, but think about it: it's almost certain that no kidnapper anywhere could be as ignorant and grating as Nancy Grace, unless the kidnapper was maybe, say, Dr. Laura, which it's a pretty safe bet that it wouldn't be, 'cos those new anti-psychotic drugs are effective and non-habit-forming and hardly ever lead to kidnapping. At least, according to "doctors." (Real doctors, I mean, not scary radio Drs.)
In other news-related developments . . . have you ever wondered how they keep the snakes from writhing around under Nancy Grace's wig? I'll bet it would be cool to know how that's done. TV magic, I guess.